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The charity making life better by water

Regional Round up North - May 2024

Hot off the press, here’s the latest news from a canal near you. Find out about an incredible milestone in Bingley, a paddle sports initiative in Wigan, and an exciting regeneration project in Nottingham.

250 years and still going strong

On March 23, crowds gathered at the Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of this iconic structure.

Bingley Five Rise Locks anniversary event

At the Bingley Five Rise Locks 250th anniversary event on 23 March 2024, at the top of the locks with: Ben Northrop (Damart); Fiona Mannion (Damart); Lady Mayoress of Bradford, Mrs Jean Barker; Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Gerry Barker; Deputy Lieutenant, Vicky Reynolds; Sean McGinley (Canal & River Trust); Malcolm Horne (Canal & River Trust) and Patrick Grant.

One of the seven wonders of our waterways, this remarkable piece of engineering was once a vital link in a commercial thoroughfare that carried goods across the Pennines to the North Sea. Today, the Grade I listed structure is a cherished part of our heritage and a popular tourist attraction.

To mark this incredible milestone, visitors were treated to a host of fun activities taking place from town to towpath, showcasing the past, present and future of Bingley’s famous lock flight. Volunteers and staff hosted talks, guided tours, arts and crafts workshops and helped guide people to information about making the most of their local canal. The towpath was abuzz with 3,000-4,000 people enjoying being by water, from paddle sessions and boat trips to a floating market and lyrical verse by canal poet laureate, Roy McFarlane.

“It was fantastic to see so many people coming together,” said Sean McGinley, our regional director for Yorkshire & North East. “At a time when these centuries-old canals are under threat from extreme weather and government funding cuts, it’s heartening to see so many people turning out to celebrate and support our waterways.”

Getting Active by water in Wigan

A new wellbeing programme is making a big splash in Wigan. Launched last month, the initiative, run by local engagement coordinator, Sara Ponting, is providing free paddling and water safety sessions for young people at Wigan Flight.

Paddling for wellbeing in Wigan

As well as removing barriers to help local residents get active, the programme includes a strong water safety message, which is particularly pertinent in Wigan. As Sara explains: “We want to facilitate safe ways to get on the water, supporting our water safety messages while encouraging young people to get active and improve both physical and mental wellbeing”

Through our partnership with Sport England, we’ve been able to create a new paddle sport hub on the canal, providing Sara and community partners with storage, paddling equipment, and the training for community partners such as Wigan and Leigh College to be able to deliver paddlesports on a long-term basis.

The initiative is already proving popular, and as Sara tells us, there’s a packed schedule planned this summer: “We’re delivering sessions for young people to help them achieve Paddle UK certifications, carrying out environmental activities such as removing invasive pennywort, delivering water safety sessions and training local community leaders and young people to obtain instructor qualifications, so they can go on to lead sessions of their own.”

Regenerating Robin Hood country

Nottingham’s famous waterfront has seen some radical improvements over the past 12 months, thanks to a new partnership spearheaded by the Trust.

Heron sculpture on the Nottingham & Beeston Canal A heron sculpture on the Nottingham & Beeston Canal, by local artist, Michelle Reader

The Nottingham Canal Improvement Partnership, which brings together local businesses, voluntary organisations, and public sector bodies, is dedicated to regenerating the Nottingham & Beeston Canal, which runs through the heart of the city. So far, there have been a number of innovations, beautifying the towpath and making the canalside cleaner, safer, and more accessible.

To brighten up a neglected space in the city centre, the team commissioned a sculpture by Nottingham artist, Michelle Reader. Inspired by local wildlife and the iconic badge of Raleigh bicycles, so synonymous with the city’s heritage, Michelle chose a heron as her subject. The unique sculpture was made entirely from reclaimed items, including a shopping trolley, a lawnmower, and, of course, old bike parts. Along with wildlife zones and edible plants, the sculpture has helped to transform the site near Wilford Street into a vibrant community hub.

Other success stories include a new bench at Castle Wharf, which raises awareness of the dangers of stroke, renovations at Meadow Lane Lock, and a series of panels dotted along the towpath, charting the history of the canal. With plenty more initiatives in the pipeline, we’re making life better by water in Nottingham.

Last Edited: 19 April 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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