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KNOBSTICKS Autumn 2016 IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire

Our branch’s Uttoxeter Canal milepost installed at “Dead Waters” in June Photo: Robert Frost


Editorial Margaret and I have recently returned from a holiday in Norway, during which we managed to fit in a 9 hour cruise along the whole Telemark Canal from the mountains of Dalen to the industrial seaport of Skien. The Henrik Ibsen cruised along 3 lakes (4 hours), descended 6 locks (mainly staircases of 2-5 chambers), crossed another hourlong lake, and then a final lock. Rather than imploring you at length to attend our various events (see pages 12-13, 17 and 19), I will share a few of my pictures with you.

View from pier restaurant (the night before). Opening bottom gate paddle with big lever. Original Telemark Canal ship “Victoria”. Closing top gate with “rack and pinion” bar. Staircase of 5 chambers at Vrangfoss. Our ship “Henrik Ibsen” moored at Skien.

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Deputy Chairman’s Report attended by over 200 different volunteers, giving nearly 1,300 days of their time. The Branch has led work parties on the Trent & Mersey, Macclesfield and Caldon Canals as well as the Burslem Port and Uttoxeter restoration projects. We were subsequently very pleased to hear that we have made it through to the final, with the winners being announced at an event in Birmingham on 14th September.

Greetings from your Deputy Chairman, Steve Wood. I am deputising for Bob in this issue as he has health concerns, which mean that he has decided to take time out from IWA duties for a while. We all send our best wishes for a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you back with us as soon as possible, Bob.

The three IWA branches around the Cheshire Ring are this year jointly working with CRT to undertake a programme of mooring ring installations. Bob and I had jointly attended a CRT-led training day at Bosley Locks earlier this year where methods of installation were discussed and demonstrated. In July I led a work party at Wheelock where a number of rings were fitted, with the existing ones improved at the same time.

In our last issue, Bob mentioned that we had been shortlisted for the 2016 Living Waterways Awards. Alison, John, Rob and I met with their assessors to tell them more about the range of things our volunteers do in this area and to show them a couple of sites that we have worked on. We anticipate that by the end of 2016 we will have hosted 80 work parties this year, totalling 550 volunteer days. This is more than any other IWA branch. Since our regular work parties started in 2012 we have hosted at least 170 events Autumn 2016

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Deputy Chairman’s Report The waterfront in Stoke-on-Trent has been in the news this month with confirmation that Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be giving £1m for a range of improvements along the canal corridor designed to make it more appealing for visitors of all types. We have been working with the City and CRT to agree the programme of works that would make best use of this opportunity.

We also did some work to the gates at either end of the wharf. One needed repainting, the other needing rehanging. The programme of ring installations will continue throughout 2016. Please do come along and give a few hours if you are able. It is very sociable and not too physically demanding. There will be opportunities at various sites on “our” section of the Cheshire Ring between Middlewich Junction and Bosley through to the end of the year. I recently attended a workshop in Kidsgrove Town Hall hosted by Heritage Lottery Fund who are keen to spend more money in that area. Newcastle-under-Lyme has one of the lowest levels of grant applications, and they aim to put that right. We had an interesting discussion about how the waterfront to the north of Harecastle Tunnel might be improved. Again this might include mooring rings but we want to make the area more attractive to all visitors, not just boaters, and to celebrate the important role that waterways have played in the development of the area. Page 4

It has recently been announced that CRT is reorganising, with the old Central Shires region disappearing. Locally this means that we will now only deal with Manchester & Pennine (based at Red Bull, near Kidsgrove). They have taken on the Trent & Mersey to Great Haywood as well as the Caldon. Staff on the ground will mostly not change, but reporting lines will obviously be affected. On a personal note, I was surprised recently to discover that next month will mark my tenth anniversary as a member of this Branch Committee. I still think of myself as one of the newer members, but it seems that this is no longer the case! I have turned my hand to various things including Planning Officer, Website Editor and most recently Deputy Chairman. I’ve also stood in as a work party leader, organised and manned our display stands, given talks to other branches and helped out with various other things over the time I have been involved, but best of all I’ve made a lot of friends on and through the committee. If you are thinking of getting involved now is a really good time to do it and I can promise you that it is very enjoyable! Please get in touch with one of the committee if you think you can help in any way. I hope that you all enjoy the rest of the summer. Steve Wood (Deputy Chairman) KNOBSTICKS


Etruria Canals Festival

The Branch enjoyed a successful weekend of fund-raising and campaign-awareness building on its joint stand with the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust at this year's Etruria Canals Festival (which celebrated the 300th anniversary of James Brindley's birth). Photos: Alison Smedley

Autumn 2016

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Froghall Fun Day

The Froghall Canals Fun Day, held on Sunday 17th July, was a successful event with a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. It was a good opportunity for us to make contact with the local community, and there were many useful conversations during the day. Julie Arnold was the organiser with the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust (CUCT) the lead organisation, and our IWA branch supporting the event. There were two gazebos side by side, housing the IWA and CUCT displays, including the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership photographic exhibition, celebrating the 4 year Heritage Lottery funded project in pictures. There was also an octagonal gazebo beside the lock housing the WoW children’s activities – there was brass rubbing, lace Page 6

plate making and a quiz which took children on a hunt for clues throughout the site. WOW activities were run all day by a small team including a family who had travelled from Hertfordshire to help at the event. The whole area was enlivened with Churnet Valley Living Landscape boards and the “Vision of the Valley” exhibition attracted much interest. Members of the public were invited to take part in the consultation process regarding future plans for the area. This was staffed by Steve Wood and Julie, supported by Simon Papprill together with Glyn Parkes from the Canal & River Trust. Nb Beatrice was kept busy all day doing boat trips through Froghall Tunnel, loading in the nose of the lock which was kept full with the top gate open unless the lock was being used. KNOBSTICKS


Froghall Fun Day the tiller, with only a few inches between it and the tunnel roof.

Indeed, the highlight of the day was when Rupert Smedley brought historic narrowboat Skylark up through the lock: it had been on display in the basin throughout the day. A good crowd watched as it worked up through the lock with the noise of its engine reverberating as the boat moved away towards the tunnel, giving a glimpse of what a working boat looked like in the heyday of the canal. The highest point on the boat was

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We were pleased to see Emma Atkinson, who had just taken the lease of the Froghall Wharf building. Although the building has yet to be commissioned, she brought her gazebo and mobile home and did a steady trade all day with a barbecue and other refreshments. At the end of the day, she generously donated her takings (in excess of £300) to be shared between CUCT and the Beatrice charity. It was good to see the start of this venture, and we wish her well. There was a Himalayan balsam work party during the afternoon. We noticed that last year’s efforts had substantially reduced the presence of this invasive plant this year. Roger Savage (Photos: Steve Wood)

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Bells for Brindley (250th Anniversary of Cutting the First Sod)

Left to right: Phil Gay (who organised the North Staffordshire Association of Change Ringers involvement in the event), Eddie Kingswell representing Trent & Mersey Canal Society, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire Mr Ian Dudson, CBE CStJ, Ray Johnson (as Josiah Wedgwood), Duncan Bourne (as James Brindley), Chris Skelhorne, president of our IWA Branch, and Alison Smedley who organised the event on behalf of IWA. Photo: Rupert Smedley Canals, pottery, boats and bells came together on Saturday 23rd July at Middleport Pottery to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the start of work on the Trent & Mersey Canal, along with the 300th anniversary this year of the birth of James Brindley. “Bells for Brindley� was jointly organised by our IWA branch, the Trent & Mersey Canal Society and North Staffordshire Association of Change Ringers. Crowds gathered on the banks of the Trent & Mersey Canal for a reenactment of the original sod cutting ceremony which had taken place in nearby Brownhills on 26th July 1766. Page 8

Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire Mr Ian Dudson, CBE CStJ, attended the event and told the gathered crowds how important the Trent & Mersey Canal was to the industrial revolution and the pottery industry. Local historian and actor Ray Johnson recreated the 1766 speech as Josiah Wedgwood, with Duncan Bourne taking the part of James Brindley and preparing the ground for the first sod to be cut by Josiah Wedgwood. The 50 year old ceremonial spade (kindly loaned by Stokeon-Trent Boat Club), had originally been presented by the then Lord Wedgwood at an event in 1966 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of work starting on the canal. KNOBSTICKS


Bells for Brindley (250th Anniversary of Cutting the First Sod)

Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire Mr Ian Dudson, CBE CStJ, Ray Johnson (as Josiah Wedgwood) and Duncan Bourne (as James Brindley) entertain the crowds at the re-enactment of the 1766 sod cutting ceremony. Photo: Alison Smedley Our branch, the Trent & Mersey Canal Society and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust had sales and publicity stands. The North Staffordshire Association of Change Ringers gave bell ringing demonstrations throughout the day on the Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry. Historian and author, Victoria Owens, had books on James Brindley for sale. Live music included local bands Steamhead, The Boat Band and the Clay Chorus. There were also four locally based historic narrow boats at the event (Lindsay & Keppel, Skylark and Sudbury).

Crowds gathered again later in the afternoon to hear a full performance about James Brindley from Josiah Wedgwood (again with Duncan Bourne and Ray Johnson in their respective roles). The bell-ringers had also organised a wider geographical event, with bells being run for special “quarter peals” at 27 churches to mark the celebration along the whole length of the Trent & Mersey Canal during the day.

Belfry, stalls and performance by “James Brindley” & “Josiah Wedgwood”. Autumn 2016

Alison Smedley

Photo: Roger Page 9


Cheshire Locks Work Party Thursday 16th June 2016 With the cruising season on us and a big Euro game in the afternoon (England v Wales), this month's work party was a little smaller & shorter than normal. We still had 5 volunteers though and we continued with painting the railings around lock 43 and preparing the planters in the new garden area. Good progress was made but we will be continuing our work in the same area next month. Those railings do seem to continue a long way!

Thursday 21st July Incredible news. At long last we have almost completed the work on painting the railings!!! Yes, we still have a little bit to do to compete the task, but we are almost done. Next month, the last bay of railings and some finials, plus start on lock 42.

During the course of the month some members of the team (John and Sandra Lawson + Dave Sproson) also continued with painting mileposts and litter picking. The volunteers contributed 27 hours on the day and in addition a further 18 hours were contributed during the month painting mileposts and litter picking. So all together we contributed 45 hours this month. John Brighouse

Many thanks to all of the volunteers that turned up today, fantastic work. Thank you very much, it is looking great. Duncan Learmond

Above: Some of the volunteers take a well-earned lunch-break. Top: Work resumes on that very long line of railings! Photos: Duncan Learmond Page 10

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Social Programme

PROGRAMME OF TALKS 2016 – 2017 Friday 14th October 2016, 7.45 for 8pm Caldon Film Show Part II Steve Wood will continue his story of the Churnet Valley Canal with an illustrated exploration of North Staffordshire & South Cheshire canals, looking at their past, present and future. Friday 11th November 2016, 7.45 for 8pm The Chesterfield Canal An interesting talk and presentation in two parts on “Chesterfield Canal: Its past, present and future”, by John Lower. Friday 9th December 2016, 7.45 for 8pm The Cromford Canal Mike Kelley will give his talk and presentation on “The Cromford Canal – The Sleeping Beauty”. The ongoing work of the “Friends of the Cromford Canal Trust”. Friday 13th January 2017 NO MEETING

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Social Programme Friday 10th February 2017, 7.45 for 8pm Branch AGM followed by The Derby Canal Chris Madge (Chairman of the Derby & Sandiacre Canal Society), and his colleague Mike Flack, on “The Derby Canal – Its History and Restoration”. Friday 10th March 2017, 7.30 for 8pm Branch ANNUAL DINNER (3 courses for £21) Westwood Golf Club, Newcastle Road, Leek ST13 7AA Contact: Barbara Wells (see bottom of page) for more details. Booking form will be included with Winter Knobsticks in early December. Friday 21st April 2017, 7.45 for 8pm [Note date, as14th is Good Friday] The Droitwich Canal Margaret Rowley, Vice Chair of “Droitwich Waterway (Pamela May) Trust”, talks on “The History & Restoration of the Droitwich Canal” from its 1771 opening to now, with photographs and Illustrations of original structures. Friday 12th May 2017, 7.45 for 8pm The Caledonian Canal Phil Clayton presents his illustrated talk about the “History and Tales of the Caledonian Canal”. Admission to talks is FREE Donations to waterway causes welcome! Refreshments available. Non-IWA members are very welcome Venue (unless otherwise stated): Stoke on Trent Boat Club Endon Wharf, Post Lane, Endon STOKE-ON-TRENT, ST9 9DU For further information contact: Barbara Wells (01782 911400 or 07710 418908) Email bwwells@talktalk.net or visit the branch webpages at:

www.waterways.org.uk Autumn 2016

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Uttoxeter Canal Work Party

Thursday 12th May 2016 Our monthly work party in May saw us back at Carrington’s Lock. As it was now well into the nesting season we could not do any major vegetation clearance, so we cleared ivy and soil off the stonework at the tail of the lock. We presume this stonework is what remains of the tail-bridge over the lock. There is no visible evidence of the recesses for the bottom gates, so we guessed they must be under the section of lock that was filled in during the 1970s, when a track was built across that part of the lock; curiosity had got the better of us and we did a bit of digging to see if we could find them. Unfortunately the rubble infill proved very difficult to dig, along with the fact it was a lovely warm and sunny day. We will probably have to get a mechanical Page 14

excavator in to clear this sometime in the future. In the centre of the lock the sides slope at something like 45° rather than just off vertical as would be expected, so we cleared the soil from a narrow vertical strip.

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Uttoxeter Canal Work Party At the lower water level as expected, we found large blocks of dressed stone but above this was very crudely built brickwork all the way to the upper level. It is felt that this is a later addition as John Rennie, the engineer in charge of constructing the Uttoxeter Canal was a strong advocate for the use of quality stonework. So if the lock was originally all stone, what has become of the upper courses? Was the stone taken away to be used elsewhere, or perhaps are they in the bottom of the chamber? In future work parties we will get to the bottom of it, literally!

Thursday 9th June 2016 Making a pleasant change to our usual vegetation management, June’s work party saw us installing three replacement cast iron mileposts along the line of the canal. Before lunch we managed to install two. The first was installed at Alton, on the far side of the tunnel from the station. The second, by happy coincidence, was at a very strategic spot at Crumpwood, at the junction of the new towpath and the line of the old railway. In the afternoon we installed the third one of the day at Dead Waters, between Crumpwood and Denstone. Autumn 2016

On the Tuesday beforehand a select group of us had installed two new mileposts (one at Oakamoor, the other between there and Alton) to gauge how long it would take to put each one in the ground. We easily achieved this in a day, so knew our hardworking and dedicated volunteers would do the remaining three comfortably in a day. We were all glad to be working in the shade of trees as although we had lovely sunny weather on each day, it did make digging holes and mixing concrete all the more exhausting. Most of the mileposts have been installed facing away from the line of the canal so as they can be seen by visitors to this part of the Churnet Valley using the path along the old railway. Looking optimistically to the future, when the canal is restored they will of course be re-sited facing the correct way; this will be no mean feat as they have been very securely set into a large amount of concrete! At the end of the day although we all had very tired and aching muscles, we all reflected on our labours with a huge amount of satisfaction and more than a little emotion, that we had completed, quite literally a landmark stage in the restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal.

Concrete mixing

Photo: Philippa Balfour Page 15


Uttoxeter Canal Work Party

Thursday 14th July 2016 Himalayan balsam has been prolific this year along the line of the towpath cleared by Waterway Recovery Group last November, so this is where we focussed our attention for our July work party. Seven volunteers turned up to tackle the Himalayan balsam by either hand-pulling, using slashers or, for the first time on the Uttoxeter Canal, the strimmer newly acquired by our branch.

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We enjoyed another pleasant warm and sunny day, which at the start saw us confronted in places by a solid wall of balsam but by the end we had cleared the best part of this stretch of towpath. Hopefully by the time of the August work party the balsam will not yet have gone to seed and we can tackle more of this pernicious weed in our part of the beautiful Churnet Valley. Article (and uncredited photos:) Robert Frost

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Inter-branch Skittles—Saturday 15th October Join other branch members for a fun evening of socialising and skittles with the neighbouring IWA Lichfield and Shrewsbury & North Wales branches on Saturday 15th October 2016 at Stafford Boat Club. The evening starts at 7:30 pm with lots of fun, fish & chips (or alternative) and dessert.

Teams of 4-6 people will be allocated on the night - so come on your own, as a couple or bring a complete team! Price ÂŁ7.50 per head, please contact Alison Smedley (webmaster.nssc@waterways.org.uk), or phone 01538 385388 to book your place. Alison Smedley

IWA Shrewsbury District and North Wales Branch invite us all to join them at their Autumn Social Evening

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Burslem Port Work Party

Above: Before with mud and rubbish. Right: Afterwards with newly drained path. The Burslem Port project is not only about restoring an old canal, it aims to make the area better for the whole community in Middleport. With that in mind our recent work parties have concentrated on the footpath which links Middleport to Navigation Road. First we cleared up all the rubbish and bits of old crates, carpet, plywood and the like which have been used to make a bridge across a muddy area then cleared the mud and dug a new drainage route so that it will not go back to how it was. Thanks to our volunteers and also to Ron at Potteries Waste who gave a helping hand with his excavator.

We have already had lots of positive comments, both from passers-by, and also via our Burslem Port Facebook page :http://facebook.com/burslemport/ Article (& Photos:) Steve Wood Below: Rubbish and overhanging vegetation. Right: Afterwards cleaned and opened out.

Once the path was cleared we cut back the vegetation which was overhanging the upper section and cleared out assorted rubbish which had been dumped there. It is great to see that this route is already being used much more by Middleport people wanting to get to and from Burslem. Page 18

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Burslem Port Work Party

Stone Food and Drink Festival—Saturday 1st October Our branch has had a stall at the Stone Food and Drink Festival for many years, thanks initially to the work of long standing committee member, the late John Moss. Since John’s death, we have not been able to count on our usual place as part of the market in the High Street. Last year, we tried a position on the towpath between Yard and Stone Locks – but this was disappointing as most people going from the High Street to the main Festival site in Westbridge Park did not take that route. We discovered the Oatcake Boat moored below the Star and realised Autumn 2016

that we would do better near there. Accordingly, this year we have arranged to put up our gazebos at the top of the disabled access path from the park to the towpath, which we were instrumental in creating as part of the improvements made through the Market Towns Initiative in 2008. Hopefully, we will be seen there by more people. As ever, we need volunteers to staff the stall. If you can spare some time on Saturday 1st October, please contact me (details on page 23). Roger Savage (Vice President) Page 19


Himalayan Balsam Work Parties on the Caldon Canal A series of Himalayan Balsam work parties, to help control this invasive non-native plant which is a problem in the Staffordshire Moorlands, took place on the Caldon Canal again this year. The work parties were jointly organised by our IWA branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust. These work parties contributed to the final year of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership’s Big Pull Project, as well as nationally to IWA’s invasive species campaign.

On Monday 11th July the young people from Cheddleton’s Light Seekers youth group enjoyed their annual outing to pull up Himalayan balsam along the canal in Cheddleton.

On Monday 27th June an evening session with half a dozen people saw all the Himalayan balsam on the towpath between Denford and Cheddleton removed, along with quite a lot from the other bank, courtesy of the use of a locally based day hire boat to access the offside.

And finally, on Sunday 17th July, a group of half a dozen volunteers took time out from enjoying the successful Froghall Canals Fun Day to clear Himalayan balsam between the basin and the tunnel.

On Thursday 30th June volunteers met at Consall Lime Kilns to work upstream on the river section, and on this occasion were grateful to have the help of Barry from CRT, and also of CRT’s trailable aluminium work boat to access the offside bank.

On Saturday 16th July a family volunteering day saw all the Himalayan balsam along the towpath between Stockton Brook and Endon cleared, along with much of what was growing on the John Emery Land near Endon.

In all locations an improvement on previous years was noted. As the Himalayan balsam is late in developing its seeds this year, July/ early-August is not too late for it to be pulled. All walkers, anglers, boaters and anyone else using the waterways are encouraged to pull it up, where safe to do so. (Article & Photos:) Alison Smedley

Cheddleton Light Seekers youth group prepare to go balsam bashing on 11th July. Page 20

Volunteers tackle the balsam on the river section of the Caldon Canal on 30th June. KNOBSTICKS


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Serving 10 Real Ales & Scrumpy Cider Bar Snacks available Beer Garden Page 22

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North Staffordshire & South Cheshire contacts President: Chris Skelhorne Vice President Roger Savage roger.st21@gmail.com Chairman Bob Luscombe (Contact steve.wood@waterways.org.uk) Deputy Chairman Steve Wood 07976 805858 steve.wood@waterways.org.uk Treasurer Alan Chetwyn (No Email) 01782 279277 Secretary VACANT (Contact steve.wood@waterways.org.uk) Sales Officer VACANT (Contact steve.wood@waterways.org.uk) Social Secretary Barbara Wells 01782 911004 socialsec.nssc@waterways.org.uk Publicity Officer Sarah Honeysett 01782 772295 s.honeysett@btinternet.com Newsletter Editor Roger Evans 01606 834471 newsletter.nssc@waterways.org.uk 10 Long Lane, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0BL Web-site Liaison + Minutes Secretary Alison Smedley 01538 385388 webmaster.nssc@waterways.org.uk

Planning VACANT (Contact steve.wood@waterways.org.uk) Membership Officer Roger Savage membership.nssc@waterways.org.uk Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club Rep. VACANT (Contact secretary.nssc@waterways.org.uk) Navigation Officer VACANT (Contact steve.wood@waterways.org.uk) Burslem Port Work Party Steve Wood 07976 805858 steve.wood@waterways.org.uk Caldon Work Party + Uttoxeter W.P. Robert Frost 07743 628091 robert.frost@waterways.org.uk Cheshire Locks Work Party John Brighouse 07808 878317 john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk Congleton Work Party Steve Wood 07976 805858 steve.wood@waterways.org.uk Other committee member: Julie Arnold 01538 361138 Maria Frost West Midlands Region Chairman Helen Whitehouse 01543 491161 westmidlands@waterways.org.uk

The Branch committee meets at 7:30 p.m. on the 2 nd Tuesday of odd-numbered months at Stoke Boat Club, Endon Wharf, Post Lane, Endon, Stoke-on-Trent, ST9 9DU. All Branch members are invited to attend. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Inland Waterways Association, the West Midlands Region, or North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch. They are, however, published as being of interest to our members and readers. Š The Inland Waterways Association - Registered as a charity no. 212342 Autumn 2016

www.waterways.org.uk/staffscheshire

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Join Us on a Canal Work Party

 Cheshire Locks (Trent & Mersey Canal, Kidsgrove to Wheelock) 3rd Thursday of each month (except December), 10am to 3pm. Contact: John Brighouse Phone: 07808-878317 Email: john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk  Uttoxeter Canal (Bridge 70, near Denstone) 2nd Thursday of each month, 10am to 3pm. also occasional Saturdays: check IWA website shortly before Contact: Robert Frost Phone: 07743 628091 Email: robert.frost@waterways.org.uk  Burslem Port, Stoke-on-Trent 4th Tuesday of each month, 10am to 3pm. also 1st Saturday of each month, 10am to 3pm. Contact: Steve Wood Phone: 07976-805858 Email: steve.wood@waterways.org.uk  Congleton, Macclesfield Canal 4th Thursday of each month, 10am to 12:30pm. Contact: Steve Wood Phone: 07976-805858 Email: steve.wood@waterways.org.uk ——————————–——————–————————————-———————————————–——————————–———————————-—————————-—————

See the IWA website www.waterways.org.uk under “Events” for dates. Volunteers are advised to wear stout shoes and old clothes, and to bring waterproofs (and a packed lunch and drink if staying all day) Page 24

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Knobsticks Autumn 2016  

Knobsticks Autumn 2016