Of course, a legacy doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary to make a difference. The family of John Gagg, author and IWA supporter, recently gave his photo collection to the Association. John started taking waterways photos in 1967, during the last days of commercial carrying. Boat traffic was still running on the Yorkshire canals and rivers, and he took many photos of canal boats and tankers. He was very interested in the heritage of the waterways, and photographed buildings, lock furniture and also ex-commercial craft, then being used as maintenance boats. His gift comprised approximately 18,000 photos in total, dating up to 1990. The images have since all been scanned and are now used by IWA in many different ways. They show scenes from pretty much every waterway and were displayed as part of a collection of historic photos at IWA’s Festival of Water in Pelsall last year.
BW maintenance boats above Perry Barr Top Lock on the Tame Valley Canal, 1971.
3) Make it snappy
right: A loaded coal barge at Horbury on the Calder & Hebble, 1974.
Under 2 miles long, the Droitwich Junction is one of Britain’s shortest canals. Into this space it crams a river navigation, a partly diverted line, seven locks (including a two-rise staircase), and a tiny motorway culvert. Even before restoration (only completed as recently as 2011), it was one of Britain’s newest waterways. Admittedly, “newest” in this context is 1854, making it the last narrow canal to open (other than extensions to the Birmingham system). Now, this Johnny-come-lately has some truly new locks; all but the top three are new-build structures in bright concrete. The three Hanbury Locks mark a return to restoration, however. Rebuilt by the Waterway Recovery Group in one of its biggest projects ever, and aided by the £100,000 legacy of the late Neil Pitts, an IWA member from the West Midlands, they were completed in 2002. They are a dramatic contrast to the lower Junction locks: dark brick, not bright concrete, with stairs by the bottom gates – and very, very deep. The money helped cover the cost of those enormous lock gates, accompanying lock gear, construction work, and improvements to the adjacent towing path and boundary hedging. Upon their opening, David Martin, a cousin of Neil Pitts, unveiled a cast-iron plaque erected at Lock 1 to acknowledge the legacy’s massive contribution. It helped bring the Droitwich to a point where British Waterways began giving serious backing, and a £10m completion package was subsequently assembled to get cracking on other stretches. The rest, as they say, is history. Hanbury Locks, restored by WRG thanks to an IWA legacy.
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4) Thrown in at the deep end
The top of Hanbury Locks.
Leaving a legacy As a charity, IWA depends on legacies and donations to keep up its vital work. Gifts from wills make up a fifth of our annal income and range from lump sums to be spent on a specific project of the benefactor’s choosing, to IWA life membership for a partner, child or grandchild. Rest assured IWA will spend every penny of designated gifts on protecting or restoring the waterways you care so much about. For more information about how to set up a legacy in your will, or to discuss ideas for where you’d like the money to go to, contact Andrew Overy, finance manager, on andrew.overy@ waterways.org.uk or by calling 01494 783453.
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