Volunteers regularly carry out maintenance work on the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Avon in Bath, putting in 4,000 volunteer hours per year. The team currently use community workboat Sulis to clear over-grown vegetation, replace wooden signs, fix lock mechanisms and clear litter and debris from the canal and towpath. It is also used for painting lock gates, carrying out environmental inspection and checking river safety equipment. The volunteers also work together with other local community groups and sports clubs to run clean ups.
Caroline Robson, Canal & River Trust development and engagement manager explains: “Our boats are tools in the ongoing challenge of keeping our waterways open, attractive and safe places. With them we can reach places not accessible on the towpath. This includes repairing the important safety line that runs along the waterside, which gives anyone who falls into the water something to grab on to. And a water's-eye view of the canal means that we can spot problems not visible from dry land. There's no doubt that life is better by water and we look forward to getting out and getting to work as soon as possible.”
Funding for the refurbishment of the work boat and training of the volunteers has been provided by several organisations including the Bath City Forum, the Bath WaterSpace Partnership and other local donors including the Avon Frome Partnership and the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. This is one of 35 ‘WaterSpace' project ideas identified by the community to improve the river and canal in Bath.
The team have also carried out repairs to the towpath, including filling potholes and puddles. New signs and litter picking is ensuring the path remains a welcoming place to walk, cycle or simply stop and watch the world go by.