Heritage skills training gets major boost

The traditional heritage skill of lime pointing has been given a major boost this month (July), thanks to a special course run by us on the Peak Forest Canal.

Group of people standing by a wall Judy Jones and Kick start apprentices

Nearly 50 different employees, our volunteers and apprentices attended a series of day-long training sessions held in the historic canal basin at Bugsworth, a scheduled ancient monument at the end of an arm off the Peak Forest Canal in north Derbyshire.

Peak Forest Canal

Constructed in 1796 by the famous canal and tramway engineer Benjamin Outram, Bugsworth Basin is part of the 16-mile long Peak Forest Canal, which connected the limestone and gritstone quarries of Derbyshire to Manchester and the trans-Pennine canal network.

Much of the Peak Forest Canal is lined with ageing stonework, dating back more than two centuries, and keeping this historic infrastructure in good working order is a top priority for the Trust, which cares for 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales.

Understanding the importance of our heritage

Judy Jones, our North West heritage adviser, said: “It is really important that our employees, contractors and volunteers understand the importance of our wonderful heritage structures and maintain them with appropriate skills and materials.

“We have been granted Scheduled Monument Consent to repair washwalls in the upper Bugsworth Basin, so this seemed a perfect opportunity to combine this vital maintenance task with some specialised training.

“Although the canals were originally built to transport goods during the Industrial Revolution, they have now been reinvented as leisure destinations and havens for wildlife. Particularly during the coronavirus lockdowns, people have noticed how waterways offer an amazing, tranquil space, where everything slows down, a great place to escape the pressures of modern life.

people pointing wall

"We know from research that people are happier and more relaxed when they’re by water, and activities such as walking, cycling, boating, fishing, canoeing and paddle boarding improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

“Maintaining the nation’s historic canals is a constant challenge but it is so important to preserve this wonderful resource for future generations to enjoy.”

Today the Peak Forest Canal, along with the Macclesfield Canal, form part of the popular 100 mile Cheshire canal cruising ring, which provides boaters with a chance to combine the beautiful rural Cheshire scenery with the urban waterways of Greater Manchester.