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News article created on 29 August 2017

Northampton South MP boats into town to launch a mosaic trail along the canal

Andrew Lewer MP for Northampton South will join us today for a narrowboat trip along the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

Open lift bridge on Northampton Arm of Grand Union Canal with boat behind Northampton Arm, Grand Union Canal, courtesy of davehamster, Flickr

He will see how working with the community, we are transforming the canal, and will help lay the first mosaic plaque, designed by local school children, which will form part of a five-mile mosaic nature trail along the arm.

The trip will be hosted by our waterway manager, Vicky Martin, and volunteers from the Northampton branch of the Inland Waterways Association. Vicky Martin comments: "The Northampton Arm is a canal ‘in bloom’. It is really wonderful to see the canal bringing the community together and the community, in turn, helping us to transform the waterway.’"

For the past four years, we have worked closely with the Northampton branch of the Inland Waterways Association which has ‘adopted’ the arm and has clocked up over 5,000 hours volunteering to improve it.   There are bi-monthly volunteer task parties to tackle vegetation clearance, weeding and litter picking, as well painting and maintaining the locks to keep them in good working order.

To commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the opening of the Northampton Arm in 2015, a mural was created at Gayton junction, where it joins the Grand Union Canal and a mosaic bench at Lock 17 where the canal meets the River Nene. The idea of linking the two was the brainchild of Sandie Morton, IWA Northampton Branch Secretary: ‘’I wanted to encourage more people of all ages to walk and cycle the Arm. So I came up with the idea of a nature trail with mosaic plaques at each lock. Local children from Briar Hill and Delapre Primary Schools created the beautiful designs and manufactured them under the guidance of mosaic artist, David Bowers from Mosaic Madness." 

The project is being funded by IWA Northampton Branch through a legacy left to the Branch by John Faulkner, a long-standing and loyal member.

At the helm of the boat, Andrew Lewer MP will also learn how the Trust is working with other parts of the community, including Upton Scouts, who have ‘adopted’ a short stretch of the canal around Lock 17 and tourism students from the University of Northampton, who have adopted a stretch of canal at Cosgrove.