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Volunteers vital to London's waterway heritage

An important piece of London’s 18th century industrial heritage, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the help of volunteers.

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The role of volunteers cannot be underestimated.
Jon Guest, London waterway manager

Local volunteer group, Friends of Hanwell Flight, has been recognised by the Canal & River Trust, for the valuable work it has carried out to the Hanwell Flight of locks on the Grand Union Canal in West London. The volunteers at Hanwell are some of hundreds of volunteers who are being celebrated this month for the work they do to help look after the capital's waterways.

London's canals are 200-year-old examples of working industrial heritage. They were the arteries of the Industrial Revolution, carrying goods such as coal, building materials, food and goods imported from abroad from between London and Birmingham and beyond. The same waterways are still being used by boaters, walkers, cyclists, anglers and nature lovers today and volunteers play a vital role supporting the Trust preserve this living heritage.

First annual national awards

The Trust is presenting its first annual national awards to acknowledge the achievements of just a few of the Trust's many successful partnerships with volunteer groups. In London, the Friends of Hanwell Flight have been recognised as dedicating time, enthusiasm, donations and expertise to enhancing and maintaining the Hanwell Flight and surrounding area. They have worked hard to establish the group, welcomed new members, created a website, and have also organised and run volunteer events. The group has been presented with a commemorative certificate of thanks.

The awards are just one of the ways in which the Trust celebrates its volunteers and recognises the great contribution they make to the waterways. London's canals benefit from a whole host of volunteers, from people taking part in the Trust's Towpath Taskforce to companies and community groups who adopt sections of canal, volunteer lock keepers and towpath rangers. The Trust is also taking London volunteers out on festive boat trips and for Christmas dinner to say thank you to the people who have helped on the capital's towpaths in 2012.

Jon Guest, London waterway manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “This has been a momentous year for the Trust and volunteers have played a crucial and varied role in helping us maintain, improve and promote our waterways. I'd also like to thank each and every person that volunteers on London's waterways for all their efforts in keeping our canals and rivers a really special place to visit. It is important that we preserve London's fantastic industrial heritage and volunteers help us immensely in this on-going task.

“The role of volunteers cannot be underestimated. They help the Trust keep London's waterways in prime condition and can do the tasks that we may not have the resources to tackle ourselves. Volunteers are often very passionate, enthusiastic and vastly knowledgeable: just the sort of people we want to get involved and help us look after London's canals and rivers for everyone to enjoy. I would encourage anyone interested in safeguarding the waterways to get involved.”

Last Edited: 21 December 2012

photo of a location on the canals
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