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Tuesday 24th February 2015 - New monthly work party launched on Burslem Arm
Steve Wood (organiser of the new working party) writes :- 

You never know what to expect when starting up a volunteer work party in a new area. I’d put up posters, shared the information by email and on social media, but really had no idea if anyone else would appear barring David from Burslem Port Trust. I was therefore more than a little relieved when 4 other volunteers showed up at Luke Street in Middleport. Things soon got even better when David arrived with another 5 young people he had “found” nearby who were litter picking as part of a community payback scheme.

After a site safety induction, we split into two groups with the payback team and their supervisor litter picking near to the wharf and the rest of the group planning to clear trees and vegetation at the junction with the Trent & Mersey.


Sunken Boat                            Rubbish from the Boat                                      Offside Bank before we started

A week before our work party a fibreglass boat moored at the end of the branch had been destroyed by fire after its two occupants had unwisely decided to refuel a petrol generator on board the craft, resulting in an explosion. They had survived but their dog was not so lucky. Many of the boat contents had been thrown onto the bank and so added to the already huge pile of litter that had accumulated in this area while they had been moored there. We had agreed with CRT that they would collect this rubbish at the same time as the destroyed boat was removed, so some of our group bagged the smaller items and left them near to the bank for easy collection.


                                 Hard at Work                                      Offside Bank afterwards (Rubbish to be collected by CRT)

(Photos: Steve Wood)

The main task for the day was to start cutting back trees and other vegetation that had built up since the site was last tidied up as part of a Future Jobs Fund scheme in 2010. Our group used an assortment of hand tools and soon the site was looking very different. Two volunteers from a CRT volunteer group based at Etruria, who we had met at Middleport Pottery a couple of weeks earlier, joined us mid-morning and made good headway working along the waters edge.

Unfortunately stong gusts of winds meant that it was difficult to keep our fire going so most of the cuttings were stacked up for burning another day. The day briefly threatened to turn worse when hailstones started to fall but they only lasted a few minutes and the rest of the day remained dry and mild.

A couple of the volunteers had to leave in the morning and the payback group also had to move to another site but, by our scheduled finish time of 3pm, there were still 5 volunteers going strong and determined to finish the job. We eventually called it a day at 3:45. I crossed the canal via Newport Lane Bridge and it was clear to see what a difference had been made. The church tower in Burslem was visible from the towpath once more and, whilst there is still a lot to do, the site was already looking better.

Weather permitting a couple of us have agreed to return to burn the brash at some point in the next week and, by the time of the next scheduled work party in March, we hope that the rubbish and remains of the boat will also have been removed by CRT. We have already heard from three new people who plan to join our group for future work parties and hope that the numbers will continue to grow. Why not join us on the fourth Tuesday of each month?

 Contact Steve Wood on 07976-805858 or Email him at for more details.

Tuesday 3rd June 2014 - Radio Program to be broadcast from canal boat on Trent & Mersey Canal
Castledown Radio "Saturday Soundtrack" presenter Christopher Steers loves to travel the Inland Waterways on his grandparent's narrowboat, Time Please. His next big adventure this summer takes him on a trip of a lifetime into Liverpool Docks, pre-recording his radio show from the boat each day. He plans to be arrive at Fradley Junction around tea-time on Monday 14th July, then work his way North along the Trent and Mersey Canal.

You can follow Chris every step of the way as the show will be broadcast every weekday on Castledown Radio 104.7fm for the Tidworth area, from 11am-1pm throughout August. Worldwide listeners can click on the listen live button at

For more information see the Press Release at chris-steers-to-record-radio-show-from-a-narrowboat-this-summer.html .

Wednesday 28th May 2014 - Wardle Lock Working Party
The final working party had to be cancelled because of heavy rain on the day. We will finish off the work when we do King's Lock later in the year. For information on future working parties see our Diary page, Email Bob Luscombe (or phone him on 07710-054848).  
Wednesday 14th May 2014 - Wardle Lock Working Party
The second of 3 working parties to improve the appearance of Wardle Lock and its surrounding area. This lock is on the very short Wardle Canal (which connects with the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch), and is where Maureen Shaw used to live.

We had really good weather again, after a week of almost constant rain. Over a dozen people turned up, so lots got done. A second coat of white was put on the balance beams, and some railing to the next bridge were also painted. The principle job was to expose and tidy-up the offside bank. Such a massive change was made that it looks like a different place!
Starting to cut back the offside Vegetation
Work Boat in use
Offside Steps at end of day                                Full Work Boat                               Very neat Offside Bank                        
(Photos: Roger Evans)

Wednesday 30th April 2014 - Wardle Lock Working Party
The first of 3 working parties to improve the appearance of Wardle Lock and its surrounding area. This lock is on the very short Wardle Canal (which connects with the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch), and is where Maureen Shaw used to live.

We had really good weather, and twenty people turned out, so lots was done. Taking advantage of the good weather we painted the woodwork and metalwork of the gates, as well as various fences and signs. The off-side steps were also exposed, and will be tidied up next time. (Photos: Roger Evans)


Sunday 22nd February 2014 – Open Day at Lock 74 (Middlewich) 
Around 350 visitors took the opportunity to visit lock 74 (the bottom lock of the Middlewich 3) during the day. There were also 3 stalls with backup material and children's activities. CRT were helped by local volunteers who manned the car park, ran some of the stalls, and kept an eye on the safety of our guests. (Photos: Roger Evans)
Lots of excited faces waiting to go down the lock                                View from the bottom  
              Top Paddle Hole (note fresh-water mussels)                      Specially placed stone to safeguard the Top Cill
              Family Group by the Top Gate                                Visiting the Bottom of the Lock 
Friday 18th October 2013 – Work Party at Brindley Bank, Rugeley
More work organised by IWA Lichfield. We started to rebuild the wall at the far end of the aqueduct using reclaimed bricks and lime mortar. We also got about 2/3 of the footpath at the bottom of the steps completed. Regular visitors will see that we have now strimmed more of the canal bank as a preparation for eventually relaying the towpath.
Saturday 23rd March 2013 - Unveiling of Maureen Shaw's Interpretation Panel
On a bitterly cold day, the "Maureen Shaw" interpretation panel at Wardle Lock, Middlewich (know to many as "Maureen's Lock") was unveiled by her daughter Sharon Underwood, who had flown in from Thailand especially. Peter Bolt (of IWA Chester) spoke first thanking all the people and organisations who had contribute towards the panel, before local MP Fiona Bruce gave a potted history of Maureen's life. Gillian Watson then regaled us with her personal memories of her friendship with Maureen. Finally Benny Graham  sang "It's a Hard Life for a Girl on the Cut" which had been played at her funeral. Appropriately enough the first boat for an hour passed through the lock as the music finished and Sharon unveiled the panel. Tea and light refreshments were very welcome, and warmed us all up nicely. There was also an exhibition of memorabilia. (Photos: Roger Evans)
      Peter Bolt's introduces                Fiona Bruce MP talks            Sharon Underwood unveils       Gillian Watson presents boat
16th-17th February 2013 - Community Work Party at Rugeley 
Over this weekend 34 volunteers held a major scrub bash on the offside of the Trent and Mersey Canal in Rugeley. It was organised by IWA Lichfield, but open to anyone. The glorious weather (plus homemade cake) encouraged the volunteers who made a huge effort to clear many years of brambles, scrub and litter on the edge of St. Augustine’s Field. The weekend’s work was made very pleasant by the Rugby club letting us use their clubhouse facilities and helping to ‘tackle’ the work. The scrub bash by the canal is the first part of a long-term project to provide much needed boaters facilities and also winter moorings. General agreement has been reached by all parties involved so now we need to plan the work and find the money!
(Report by Margaret Beardsmore)