Early Saturday morning saw Ken and myself motoring up the M5 en route to Birmingham for a waterway restoration workshop run jointly by Canal & River Trust and Inland Waterways Association. ‘Getting it on the Map ‘ was held at The Bond, an historic collection of restored Victorian Buildings alongside the Grand Union Canal at Fazeley. This is an annual event bringing together many of the Canal Trusts in England and Wales for a day of talks and advice on a variety of subjects that we all have to deal with. In addition there was plenty of chance to network at coffee and lunch breaks. One major piece of work coming up soon from CRT is “State of the Nation” – every canal society in England and Wales will be asked to complete a questionnaire about their restoration – this will request a lot of information about all the work going on at the moment and will include details like numbers of locks, bridges, miles, current progress, plans for the future etc. When it is all collated into a database it will make very interesting reading. It will hopefully make central government realise that canal restorers are a force to be reckoned with!
Last week’s meeting at Studley Grange moved the project on a little further, checking site marking-up and sorting out preliminaries. Our appeal is going well and following the distribution of Dragonfly there have been more donations. We will update the website in a few days. There was also a meeting in Chippenham with a developer planning some house building, who might be able to help us with the new Chippenham Arm.
On Friday night I attended an evening of jazz at Calne, one of MCC’s series of Spring events to raise money for local projects. The trad band playing was Four Plus One who were excellent. Having a bit of chat afterwards they were really pleased to hear that the Trust had purchased the Peterborough Arms and told me they used to play there many years ago.
Good news on Val Melville’s application to the Living Waterway Awards in the Education section –this was based on the Heritage Open Days that took place at Pewsham Locks last year. It has passed through the first round and has reached the visit stage. Two assessors will pay us a visit in June to look at the project and decide if it should be short-listed.
If anyone would like to have a look at part of the Wilts & Berks canal under active restoration, then consider joining the Sponsored Walk on May 10th from Chippenham’s Buttercross. If you can raise at least £20 in sponsorship it is free or £5 each if no sponsors. The walk will take in the interesting Pewsham Locks where Top Lock is going to be restored by the volunteers. For more details see the branch website www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk
Finally you may be thoroughly fed up with the General Election but perhaps you might like to help get your local candidates to sign up to the IWA Manifesto and show their support for the value of waterway restoration https://www.waterways.org.uk/news_campaigns/iwa_manifesto/iwa_manifesto