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News article created on 1 November 2016

People invited to find out more as project to improve the Pocklington Canal gets underway

Local people are being invited to hear about exciting plans to improve important wildlife habitats and historic features on one of Britain’s most picturesque canals at a special event taking place on 17 November.

Lizzie Dealey at Church Bridge

The event, being held at Melbourne Village Hall, is a chance to understand the improvements that are set to be made to the Pocklington Canal as part of a three year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The drop-in event which will include refreshments, activities for children and the option of a guided walk, will form the official launch of the Gem in the Landscape project which aims to:

  • repair and repoint historic brickwork on the Grade II Listed Church Bridge
  • sympathetically restore swing bridge number 7, near Melbourne, back to a more traditional design
  • use works as an opportunity to train volunteers in important heritage skills such as working with lime mortar
  • dredge sections of the canal and cut back overgrowing reeds and trees to ensure they don’t overwhelm the rare aquatic plant species that make the canal a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • hold community events, walks and talks, educational opportunities and even a festival to mark the canal’s 200 year anniversary in 2018

Volunteers will play a key role in the project and the event at Melbourne will also give people a flavour of the ways in which they can get involved and learn new skills.

A project officer, Lizzie Dealey, has recently been appointed to oversee the initiative which secured £496,600 from National Lottery players in March. The project has been developed by a steering group of the Trust, Natural England, the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society and the East & North Yorkshire Waterways Partnership.

Lizzie Dealey, project officer for the Trust, said; "I’m really excited to get started, the Pocklington Canal is a real local gem and this project is all about protecting and improving the things that make it so special.

"While much of the focus is on the canal’s amazing and beautiful feats of engineering and the nationally significant wildlife habitats, one of the most exciting elements will be engaging with local people and encouraging them to celebrate all that’s great about their local canal.

"The project will provide lots of opportunities for people to learn new skills. Whether it’s through helping our education team show the next generation the history and wildlife of the canal, uncovering hidden secrets from the canal’s past or taking part in practical restoration and habitat works, there will be lots for everyone.

"I would encourage anyone with even a passing interest in the canal to come along on the 17th and find out more about our plans and how they can get involved."

Pocklington Canal 

The Pocklington Canal, runs for 9.5 miles between Canal Head, near Pocklington, to the River Derwent in East Cottingwith. It was built in the 19th Century to transport coal, lime, fertiliser and industrial goods to Pocklington, and agricultural produce out to Hull and the fast-growing towns of West Yorkshire. During the middle part of the last century the canal fell into disuse and became unnavigable.

The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society helped to gradually restore the section from the River Derwent to the Melbourne Arm and, in a separate project to Gem in the Landscape, continues to work on an ambitious restoration programme which will see the section of canal between Melbourne and Bielby Arm restored by 2018.

The event on 17 November is being held between 2.30pm and 6.30pm at Melbourne Village Hall (YO42 4QJ). Before the event starts, there is an opportunity to join Judy Jones, Heritage Advisor for the Trust, for a one and a half hour guided walk. This walk will start at 2pm at the village hall and will visit Church Bridge and Thornton Lock. The walk is free, but booking is advisable as places are limited. To book a place on the walk or for more information about the drop-in event please email lizzie.dealey@canalrivertrust.org.uk