Angela Rayner, Ashton-under-Lyne MP and shadow education secretary, has signed up to become a supporter of the Trust after a fact-finding visit to the Tame Aqueduct repair project in Greater Manchester.
The grade II listed aqueduct, which carries the Peak Forest Canal over the River Tame in Ashton-under-Lyne, is undergoing a £500,000 repair programme by the Trust.
The painstaking work includes extensive repairs to the three masonry arches and repointing of the stonework with traditional lime mortar. The aqueduct parapet, which has been damaged by vandals, is being reconstructed and unwanted vegetation removed.
During the visit Mrs Rayner was shown how heritage restoration techniques are being employed to repair the aqueduct which dates back to 1798. She also enjoyed a short walk to nearby Portland Basin which forms the junction of the Ashton and Peak Forest canals and was welcomed as a ‘Friend’ of the Trust by fundraiser Denise Richmond, who regularly staffs a welcome point at the basin.
Mrs Rayner said: "I was really pleased to visit the restoration work in my constituency. It was very interesting to see the living history and heritage of the area which shows Tameside as an economic powerhouse and the part it played in the Industrial Revolution. It also gives us a hint at what we can be in terms of boosting Britain’s economy in the future.
"I was very pleased to be able to sign up to the Canal & River Trust and urge others to come down, have a look at their local canal and sign up too."
Andy Johnson, project manager for the Trust, said: "We were delighted to show our local MP the valuable repair work that is being undertaken to ensure that Tame Aqueduct continues to be a heritage landmark for the local community and visitors to enjoy."
The Trust’s local waterway manager David Baldacchino added: "We are very grateful to Mrs Rayner for pledging her support to the Trust. Maintaining a 2,000 mile canal network, which is over two centuries old, is a constant challenge. Our task is helped enormously by donations from the public and the work of volunteers who give their time so generously to improve their local waterway and visitors’ experiences."