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The charity making life better by water

UK's first wallpapered canal bridge highlights community spirit

A road bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Blackburn is believed to be the UK’s first canal bridge to receive a wallpaper make-over.

Local wallpaper manufacturer Graham and Brown is just one of several local companies in the area who have adopted a stretch of waterway. Their premises on Stanley Street straddle the canal and when they were thinking of ways to spruce up the area, papering the bridge seemed an obvious choice.

They commissioned London designer and illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen to create a giant Blackburn canalscape which is on permanent display in the company's foyer. This was turned into wallpaper and now adorns the underside of Sour Milk Hall Bridge (no 104, Harwood Street).

Linear parkland

Ian Brown, a director at Graham and Brown, said: “Graham and Brown is a business rooted in the Blackburn community. A town with a proud past, the canal is a legacy of the times of the Industrial Revolution. Today it not only can tell the story of how Blackburn developed but also create a linear parkland through our town to be enjoyed by all. With the use of art, design and QR codes our ambition is to restore its value to the wider community.

“To decorate the bridge was a natural step. As a business we are inspired by creative design and the bridge supplied us with a large blank canvas to work on. From feedback we have received from passers- by, the project has added to the beauty of this waterway and many more projects are planned for the future.”

Work parties

Matt Taylor, a volunteer coordinator with the Trust, is responsible for galvanising Blackburn's community canal revival. He works with both organisations and individuals on a wide variety of projects.

For example, Graham and Brown's staff and friends regularly organise work parties to keep their adopted towpath spick and span. And they have been joined by other Blackburn-based businesses - B&Q, Asda and New Ground whose staff, customers and clients volunteer their services to keep the city centre canal tidy and litter-free.

“Blackburn's community spirit is fantastic,” said Matt. “These local companies and organisations want to help put Blackburn on the map. We are all proud of our wonderful waterway and by working together, we can maintain the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as a relaxing and inspirational space for walkers, cyclists, boaters and anglers.”

Join in the next ‘Blackburn Big Canal Clean' on Wednesday 26 November.

We're appealing for organisations and individuals to roll up their sleeves and help clean up their local canal. To register your interest or even adopt your own stretch of canal, please get in touch with Matt Taylor at [email protected] or call 07780 222977.

Last Edited: 31 October 2014

photo of a location on the canals
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