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Regional Round up North - November 2023

Back by popular demand, our latest Regional Round Up is here, bringing you all the latest news, views and insights from a canal or river in the north.

This time, we’re catching up with award-winning volunteer, Martin Clark in Sheffield, mapping a forgotten canal in Manchester, and revisiting some vital conservation work in the West Midlands.

Martin Clark, volunteer at the BBC 'Make a Difference awards'

In September, volunteer Martin Clark, was honoured at the BBC Radio Sheffield ‘Make a Difference Awards’. Martin, who volunteers as a towpath ranger on the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal, received the prestigious Green Award, recognising those who give up their time to look after the environment.

Martin has been volunteering with us for several years, spending a few hours every day walking his two-mile patch from Victoria Quays and back again, engaging with local residents and ensuring the towpath is safe and litter-free. Not usually one for speeches, when Martin took to the stage to receive his award, he did us proud, telling the packed ballroom about the canal, its importance to the local community, and why it’s so crucial that we all do our best to help preserve and protect it.

Humble as ever, when we caught up with Martin after the ceremony, he was quick to acknowledge that while he was delighted with his award, it is very much a team effort, adding: “I’d like to dedicate [my award] to all my fellow volunteers on the canal network and all the great nominees here tonight.” And Martin’s colleagues in the Standedge Nature Reserve Team clearly lived up to his words, as they also won a Green ‘Make a Difference’ Award from BBC Radio Leeds later that month.

If you’re inspired by Martin’s story, perhaps you or someone you know could join our award-winning team and help us keep our precious canals safe, clean and accessible to all.

Mapping the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

Nob End locks at Little Lever on the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

Once a thriving trade link, for years the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal lay derelict, but not forgotten. Today, thanks to the efforts of local volunteers, small sections of this historic canal have been restored, providing green pathways through the urban sprawl.

Following several breaches in the 1930s, the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal was finally abandoned in 1961. Efforts to restore the canal began in 1987. Since then, progress has been steady with sections around Prestolee and Nob End now revitalised and is well used by local walkers, runners, cyclists, anglers and school children who use it as an outdoor classroom.

To give you a better understanding of the rich heritage and ecology of the canal, our local co-ordinator Robert Langdon has created an interactive story map in partnership with local groups, to encourage people to explore the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal from the comfort of their own home or, even better, while out and about on the canal itself. With our new map, you’ll see just how vital it is that we restore this valuable piece of our network to its former glory.

Large stretches still remain derelict, with demolished locks and infilled sections of the canal bed. But a fully restored Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal could provide havens for wildlife and a tranquil escape for boaters, walkers and anglers. Despite the obstacles, we hope to help make it fully navigable again one day.

Celebrating Black History on the canalside

Black History Month

Last month, we teamed up with food, drinks and entertainment venue, Binks Yard, in Nottingham, to celebrate Black History Month. The event, which took place on the city’s vibrant waterfront, gave people a chance to explore Nottingham’s rich black heritage, with a series of fun, family-friendly activities.

As part of the festivities, we hosted a series of water-based activities, including narrowboat tours along Nottingham’s scenic canal, with special trips for members of the Windrush generation. Visitors also got to try their hand at canoeing, enjoying a duck’s-eye view of the city under the guidance of our experienced instructors.

On the waterfront, there was a dedicated History Zone run by the Black Archives, tips on water safety, opportunities to volunteer, and an unforgettable heritage walk, taking in some of the city’s most notable landmarks. On stage, there was live music from local artists, including DJ Aich and the Hope Community Gospel Choir, and a vigorous Reggaerobics session led by dance instructor, CazzybeeFit. All in all, the event was a huge success, giving people a fresh perspective on the city, its culture and history, and bringing the whole community together by water.

Last Edited: 02 May 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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