A campaign was launched earlier in the year, with the canalside improvements set to act as a catalyst for regeneration, benefiting businesses and promoting new opportunities for the creation of thriving, healthy communities where people can live, work and play.
Now work is to start on the first phase of the project, and is scheduled to be completed in time for the first ever Leigh Canal Festival which runs from the 11 - 13 September.
The work on the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is being carried in partnership with Wigan Council and the Bridgewater Canal Company.
Canal & River Trust waterways manager Chantelle Seaborn said: “This work will give a real boost to the area and add to the sense of excitement centred on the waterfront. Turning the artist impressions into reality will show the people of Leigh that we mean business.
“The rejuvenation of the canal in Leigh has the ability to kick start wider regeneration in the town centre and help the town capitalise on the benefits for local businesses as well as providing a lovely environment for people to enjoy living next to, or visiting. The canal also offers a unique opportunity for local people to get involved and help create a real community asset.”
The project has been funded by our Friends Fund, which is supported by public donations and Wigan Council's Brighter Borough scheme.
Twelve councillors from the Leigh and Atherleigh wards donated a total of £3,500 to the Canal & River Trust.
Councillor Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for environment at Wigan Council, who donated £1,000, said: “The Brighter Borough scheme has benefited hundreds, if not thousands of people across Wigan Borough since its launch in 1997. I'm really pleased that I and my fellow councillors have been able to support the rejuvenation of this entrance to the Leigh canal and I look forward to seeing it once it's complete.”
Working with Groundwork the project will transform the King Street area of the canal by tidying up overgrown vegetation, screening existing concrete fencing and provide new planting and hedging. The work will be carried out by volunteers working alongside the Groundwork team.
Artwork and sculptures
The project will also include artwork and sculptures including a giant arm seat and vertical timber sleepers with engraved artwork representing the canal uses and history of the area.
The makeover will give a real boost for the Leigh Canal Festival which will include live music, boat trips, fun fair, stalls and a beer festival at the historic Waterside Inn.
Projects already in existence include the £50 million Loom shopping and entertainment centre, new housing and marina at Plank Lane and the planned refurbishment of Spinners Mill including community use.
The town wants to promote a modern image of the canals as a linear park used by all and offering a haven from the busy modern world, which is a far cry from grimy image of the waterways of the 1800s.