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You asked, we answered. Now you can look forward to stories from a canal or river near you every quarter. This month, we’ve got plastic-busting pirate ships on the Trent, an art crawl in Leeds, and a celebration of the Rochdale Canal’s 20th year since restoration.

Leeds' local heroes

A group of people stand with placards saying #LEEDS HEROES

This June, an exciting new street art project launched in Leeds to celebrate local heroes, chosen for their incredible contribution to the city. The unique artworks are now installed and open to view along the banks of the Aire & Calder Navigation. Nominated by the local community, they represent a variety of different fields, from education and enterprise to sport and social activism, each of whom left their own indelible mark on the city.

Over the years, we've supported a number of art projects across our network. We believe that art enriches our towpaths and reinforces the sense of wellbeing that we all feel when we visit our canals and rivers. Our latest installation overlooks one of the busiest parts of the network in the region. With more than 4,000 visitors a day, it's the perfect place to showcase these wonderful people and recognise the positive impact they've had on their community.

Meet Leeds' unsung heroes

Join in the fun at Castle Wharf in Nottingham

A young person operates a remote controlled model boat

On 19 September, we're holding our second family fun day at Castle Wharf in Nottingham to raise awareness of plastic pollution. Join us in the city's vibrant waterfront district for a host of fun, pirate-themed activities. You'll be able to pilot one of our litter-busting remote-control pirate ships, climb aboard a 99% recycled plastic punt, and find your sea legs with our free canoe and paddleboard sessions. As for all you land lubbers, there's a choice of bars and cafes right on the water's edge to enjoy.

It's all part of #TreasureYourRiver, a pirate-themed campaign launched by environmental charity Hubbub, to combat river litter. It dovetails perfectly with our own Plastics Challenge, so we are very happy to lend our support. The event will shine a light on the growing problem of plastic pollution in the Nottingham & Beeston Canal and the River Trent. Yet if everyone who visited our precious waterways picked up just one piece of rubbish, we could solve the problem in a year. So grab your parrot, don your eyepatch and join our fight to rid our canals of plastics.

Help us clean up the canals

The rise of the Rochdale Canal

In July, the Rochdale Canal celebrated the 20th anniversary of its full restoration. At 32 miles long, Britain's first trans-Pennine canal winds gently through historic market towns and beautiful countryside, connecting Manchester city centre to Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire.

Since being restored to full navigation in 2002, the canal has had a huge impact on the towns and villages it knits together. Thriving communities have sprung up around converted Victorian cotton mills, art projects have brightened up drab inner-city areas, and floating reedbeds, trees and flowers have brought wildlife flocking back to the canal. Once a busy trade route, today the canal provides a peaceful, traffic-free environment, a place where people can relax, unwind and reconnect with nature.

Broadcaster, John Craven sits on the prow of a red narrowboat

It's hard to believe it's just 20 years since the canal was fully restored. On that heady day in July 2002, two ribbon-cutting ceremonies took place, with TV broadcaster, John Craven in Manchester and famous steeplejack, Fred Dibnah doing the honours at Ben Healey Bridge, near Rochdale.

20 years on, we're marking the occasion by encouraging people to join our campaign #ActNowforCanals, whether that's through fundraising, volunteering or just picking up the occasional piece of litter. A fitting tribute to a canal, that, since its restoration, has improved so many lives.

Last Edited: 05 August 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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