The Trust is recruiting 42 people to keep alive the traditional techniques that were used to construct the waterways across the country more than 200-years ago. Trainees will learn the arts of lime mortaring, stonemasonry and carpentry, among other skills that are essential to maintaining and improving the network.
£607,000 of the overall £811,000 for the scheme comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund – Skills for the Future programme, the Radcliffe Trust is also contributing with the Trust providing the remaining funds. The project – called Waterway Heritage Skills – will see fourteen trainees recruited each year for three years, with each post lasting 12 months. They will work alongside the Trust's staff across the country on projects such as the winter stoppage programme that this year saw 141 new lock gates replaced and major work to lock chambers and masonry. Through this work current experts will pass on their unique experience to the next generation of heritage workers.
Nigel Crowe, head of heritage at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Our waterways are home to such a rich variety of the nation's industrial heritage, engineering marvels that continue to stand up to the rigours of modern day life two centuries after they were built. We're looking for new recruits to learn the skills that will keep our locks, bridges and other structures in the condition that people rightly expect. This means using traditional materials, like stone and lime mortar, and specialised conservation techniques, There can't be too many industries where these age-old skills endure to the present day, so this really is a unique opportunity for someone to take on, and I'd encourage anyone interested to get in touch.”