MEMBERS of about 25 canal societies and trusts converged on the Chesterfield Canal on Sunday, October 9 for the autumn meeting of the Northern Canals Association at the Hollingwood Hub.
They were welcomed by chairman Ivan Cane to the 80th held since the first meeting in Huddersfield in 1991. He asked that if anyone has any photographs of the early meetings, these would be appreciated for the website.
Setting the scene for the day, Chesterfield Canal Trust development manager George Rogers described how he became involved in canal restoration, having started his engineering career designing sub-stations for the National Grid.
His interest was sparked after moving near the Cromford Canal and through family boating holidays, but it was really down to the Waterway Recovery Group, with which he attended his first camp on the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal.
Giving an update on the progress of restoration on the Chesterfield Canal, George said since 1989, 12 miles have been completed, 37 locks restored, and 11 bridges and two new marinas constructed. Renishaw is currently one of the active sites where work is taking place.
He pointed out that HS2 has not gone away and a large amount of the eastern leg has been put on hold.
George added that the opening of a paddleboard and kayak hire base at Hollingwood Hub this year had proved very popular.
With the original route of the canal at Killamarsh having been heavily built on, he also showed maps of the eastern and western alternatives and entries in a competition to design a boat lift to replace the Norwood Flight of locks.
A new non-tidal connection to the canal network – the Rother Link – is a long-term aim and would create a 108-mile South Yorkshire cruising ring. George explained that canal regeneration is one of 11 local projects that will benefit from the Staveley Town Deal, awarded more than £25 million by the Government.
Delegates split into two groups for the workshops led by George Rogers and Patrick Moss and a site visit to see the restoration work at Staveley Waterside and Hartington Harbour and the route of the Towns Fund scheme beyond.
The workshop focus was ‘Shovel Readiness – What does it mean?’ with a look at Levelling Up funds and other similar Government programmes.
Projects must meet the criteria set out in the HM Treasury Green Book, which uses a Five Case Model, with the project examined from a strategic, economic, financial, commercial, and management perspective.
Patrick Moss, from Moss Naylor Young, led a presentation and workshop on the strategic and economic cases which broadly set out why the project should be delivered, while George Rogers covered the other elements.
Before the afternoon workshops and site visit, IWA public affairs manager Alison Smedley gave a briefing on the results of a restoration survey of some 55 organisations and the launch of Waterways for Today – see report on page 12.
Updates were then given by 11 groups including NCA newcomers Trentlink, which aims to improve the knowledge and safety of new visitors and increase the number of inland boats using the tidal Trent.
Administrator Nick Roberts explained that a free Facebook group shares local boaters’ best practice. He went on to stress the importance of attracting more boats to the North East region waterways, including the Fossdyke and Chesterfield canals and the Yorkshire navigations.
Concluding the updates, Waterway Recovery Group chairman Mike Palmer said it should be back to normal next year with its canal campaigns. “If you have got any work, come and talk to us,” he added.