The Portoroz Declaration (2001) on the role of voluntary organisations in the field of cultural heritage states that they should ‘establish their credibility through their achievements, standards and ability to take responsibility’. Fine words, about a big subject on a European scale. But actually, when you look around the Canal & River Trust you will find volunteers (and not just in the field of heritage, of course) doing just those things.
It’s impossible to do justice to every volunteer supporting the Trust with heritage-related activity, but there’s been a lot going on. Things that come to mind are the heritage survey work performed by the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Society that is being added to the Trust’s heritage databases, the practical repair work carried out by the Lancaster Canal Trust and WRG and the ‘back room’ research being done by individual volunteers working with the Trust’s heritage advisers around the country.
Then there is the volunteer recording of historic artefacts at Ellesmere Yard, the repairs to the beehive hovel on the Shropshire Union Canal, the programme to repair lime kilns on the Mon & Brec, the work on Carnforth coke ovens, the partnership with the voluntary Transport Trust and the efforts of the Friends of Hanwell Flight to de-vegetate historic side-ponds and improve the environs of the impressive locks. WRG featured again recently when they repaired and repainted Lady Capel’s Bridge on the Grand Union Canal. By the look of the photographs they really enjoyed themselves too; which is what volunteering to help the Trust with its heritage work should be all about!
As national heritage manager, Nigel’s role is to lead the Canal & River Trust’s team of regional heritage advisers in England and Wales. He has over 25 years’ experience of working in the conservation, archaeology and interpretation of historic buildings and places. He is a member of the editorial board of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. He has written numerous articles concerning heritage conservation and is the author of several longer published works, including the English Heritage Book of Canals.See more blogs from this author