The charity making life better by water

Regional Round up North - February 2024

Welcome to our latest Regional Round Up, bringing you all the news, views and insights from a canal or river near you in the north.

This month, we’ve got three more fascinating stories to share, so read on, and enjoy.

Restoring hope on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

In October last year, a mural on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal made headlines when it was defaced just hours before its planned unveiling. The artwork was put in place to brighten up an area of Leeds known as Botany Bay, with the longer-term intention to turning it into a hub for water sports thanks to Sport England funding. Instead, within hours it was covered in graffiti tags. The incident came as a blow to all involved, not least artist, Jaydon Rowbottom, who created the piece as part of a Trust initiative to tackle loneliness and isolation.

Soon after the news broke, Jaydon received a welcome boost, as support began pouring in for the artist and his mural. Within a few weeks, he was back on the towpath with a team of eager volunteers, as he set about restoring his work. “It was a great turnout,” Jaydon recalls, “so many people were happy to help and give up their time for free.”

Once the work was completed, the wall was sprayed with an anti-graffiti coating, so hopefully, walkers, cyclists and boaters will be able to enjoy the mural for years to come. Jaydon, for one, believes projects like these have the power to transform our inner-city canals. “I think art can make an area that was once dark and dingy, lighter and brighter,” he says, “it can uplift a neglected space and make it a place people want to visit.”

Poetry in Motion in Merseyside

A quiet stretch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, near Sefton in Merseyside, has been given a much-needed boost after residents teamed up with poet and performer, Levi Tafari, to pen some inspiring verse.

The poem, conceived by community members and co-written with Levi, has been used to create a new poetry trail, with its eight verses displayed on green oak posts along a section of the canal.

As community roots engagement officer, Jane Hargreaves, explains, the project is part of larger plans to revamp the area. “We’re hoping it’s going to be a catalyst for improving this particular part of the canal. It’s been a little bit neglected in the past, and we want to change people’s perceptions and make it a safer, much more welcoming place to visit. The poem is really just the beginning.”

The poem has been a real passion project for members of the community, and the lyrics have a distinctly local flavour, touching on wildlife, the environment, and the importance of the canal for residents’ health and wellbeing.

Going forward, Jane and the team hope to install planters and raised garden beds to beautify the area. For now, visitors can enjoy a little poetry as they stroll along this sleepy stretch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Bridging the gap in the East Midlands

An iron footbridge arching over a canal

A footbridge on the Grand Union Canal in Braunston will be getting a much-needed makeover thanks to the generosity of a former schoolteacher. Peter Andrews, who had a lifelong passion for canals, moved to the area following retirement and spent many happy hours walking his dog and litter-picking on the local towpath.

Fittingly, when Peter sadly passed in 2018, he left our charity a substantial legacy, with express wishes that it went towards improving the canal in the Braunston area, which he loved so much. As part of the improvements, starting this summer, Bridge 91a, at the entrance to Braunston Marina, is set to be refurbished. Works will include repointing of the historic brickwork, cleaning and repainting the cast iron elements of the bridge and resurfacing it with a resin bonded anti-slip surface.

Generous gifts, like Peter’s, can make a huge difference on our canals, helping us restore heritage structures, protect wildlife, and make our network more accessible. A new bridge number plaque, reading ‘91A, Peter’s Bridge’, will be fitted providing a lasting tribute to Mr Andrews’ remarkable contribution to his local canal.

Last Edited: 26 January 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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