The photo of Horse Park Bridge on the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal, was one of over 200 photos submitted to the competition which showcases dozens of volunteer-led canal restoration schemes across England and Wales.
The nation's canals are enjoying a vibrant renaissance. Since the turn of the century, over 200 miles of lost or abandoned waterways have been bought back into use, supporting jobs in local communities, opening up new routes for boaters and providing homes for countless types of flora and fauna. Thousands of volunteers across the country are working to restore even more lost waterways to their former glory.
The competition is just part of a range of activities from the restoration partnership between the Canal & River Trust and The Inland Waterways Association designed to encourage people to find out more about these historic waterways and play their part in supporting their restoration.
Peace and quiet
Jason Leach, enterprise and restoration team leader at the Trust, said: “There are over 100 volunteer-led restoration schemes up and down the country that are working hard to bring our lost waterways back to life. Waterways bring great benefits to the communities they run through, from increasing visitors – afloat, on foot or on bike – to waterside and waterborne businesses. They bring nature into the heart of a town and act as wildlife corridors through the countryside. Canals and rivers provide a place of peace and quiet, where people can get away from the stress of everyday life.
“This competition aimed to act as a call to arms to get local people involved in the great work volunteers are doing to bring back those canals and rivers that fell into decline in the 20th century. We asked photographers to capture images of the traces of canals that remain, from bridges stranded in fields to abandoned waterways crowded with reeds. We want communities to be inspired to find these forgotten waterways a place in their future.”
It was a difficult task for the judges (Jack Perks, independent photographer; Geraint Coles and Vaughan Welch of IWA's Restoration Committee; and Jason Leach, the Trust's Midlands enterprise and restoration team leader) to pick only three images that they felt best captured the emotion and feeling of the lost waterways out of over 200 photos submitted.
The winner is David Youngs with his stunning photograph titled ‘Where is the canal?', which shows Horse Park Bridge on the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal. The judges loved the melancholy feel of this photograph with its clear, vivid colours. Richard Parry, the Trust's chief executive, and Luke Walker, IWA's Restoration Committee's Deputy Chairman, is presenting David with his prize of £500 of photography vouchers at Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust's AGM on Saturday 6 June.
The two runners-up, who will each receive £250 of photography vouchers, are David Hopley, with a moody image of Walbut locks on the Pocklington Canal and Angela Marks, with her summery photograph of Combe Hay Locks on the Somerset Coal Canal
Lead judge, independent photographer, Jack Perks, said: “We had a very difficult task. There were some beautiful and technically sophisticated images submitted but we were unanimous in our selection of the top three. They really capture the spirit of the waterways and are poignant portraits of a fading treasure. I think people will see them and feel that they really are part of our history worth saving.”
Vaughan Welch, chair of IWA's Restoration Committee and a member of the Trust's council, said: “Sadly there are too many miles of precious waterways that are yet to be recovered. These photographs clearly illustrate what we are at risk of losing. We would like to thank all of those who took the time to creatively capture our wonderful historic waterways. We hope they inspire more people to become involved in restoring them.”
The photographs will feature in the Trust's Friends magazine ‘Waterfront' as well as IWA's Waterways magazine and will be used in marketing and promotional materials.