A four decade-long campaign to restore the iconic Droitwich canals has scooped a top industry award, with the people responsible for the work on eight miles of waterways and surrounding wildlife areas winning the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) West Midlands Award.
The Canal & River Trust and Wychavon District Council collected the award on behalf of all organisations and volunteer groups that have been involved in the project, which created a new cruising ring covering 21 miles in mid-Worcestershire. The judges’ attention was caught by the complexity of the infrastructure challenges of the project, and the years of local enthusiasm and passionate and tireless volunteering.
Droitwich’s canals were used throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century to facilitate the salt trade, before becoming abandoned in the 1930s. Following a period of dereliction, work to restore the canals began in earnest in the 1970s, with millions of pounds and thousands of man hours resulting in the re-opening of the full navigation in 2011. Today they form part of a popular navigable ring for boaters and holiday makers passing through Worcester and Droitwich and are a thriving hub for wildlife, cyclists and anglers
Nick Worthington, waterways manager from the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have won this award, it is a tribute to the fantastic commitment and partnership work that helped to deliver this complex environmental and engineering project. Droitwich Canals are a haven, somewhere treasured by the local communities in the area, and we are so pleased that they are thriving once again.”
Jack Hegarty, managing director at Wychavon District Council said: “We’re really pleased that all the hard work and effort that’s gone into restoring the Droitwich Spa Canal has been recognised. Aside from the restoration preserving a historic attraction to the area it will also play a serious role in the economy which is extremely important.”