Joinery students from Reaseheath College have put their building skills to the test by refurbishing a small former clay pit office on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch, near Church Minshull in mid Cheshire.
In a joint project with us and volunteers from SUMBA (Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch Adopters), the third year students have rescued the dilapidated building by installing a new door, window, roof timbers, tiles and guttering.
SUMBA obtained a community grant from Cheshire East Council for the building materials, which were transported to site, along with the eight students, in true canal style by the Trust’s 72 feet historic workboat ‘Malvern’.
The brick hut used to be a manager’s office for the Cholmondeston clay pit which was operational from the late 1960s until 2002, providing clay for re-lining the canal. The building forms the focal point of a waterside clearing which has now been turned into an attractive picnic area, thanks to SUMBA’s enthusiastic volunteers. Over the coming months they will be working hard to install a new picnic bench, interpretation panels and boat access to the site. The table will be made by ‘Men in Sheds’ from Crewe, using wood recycled by SUMBA volunteers when they repaired the nearby Brickyard Bridge.
Duncan Davenport, our local customer operations manager, said: "We have the challenge of looking after 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways. Volunteer projects like this can make a massive difference to how visitors enjoy our beautiful canals.
"SUMBA volunteers have done a fantastic job, over many months, in transforming this former clay pit site into a peaceful canalside picnic haven. For boaters and for walkers taking a short stroll from Venetian Marina, this will be a lovely place to stop and enjoy the Cheshire countryside.
"We are particularly delighted to join forces with Reaseheath College to secure the future of the heritage claypit building. We hope it will be the start of a close relationship which benefits both students and the Trust.
Graham Russell, SUMBA's coordinator added: "The students have done a great job with the hut and it's good to be able to involve our local college and Men in Sheds in our waterway project. SUMBA welcomes new volunteers and information about our work and contact details can be found on our website www.sumbavolunteers.org."