Joined-up think­ing

Af­ter many years of work­ing on which­ever lengths be­came avail­able, things are start­ing to come to­gether on the Here­ford­shire & Glouces­ter­shire Canal...

Canal Boat - - Competition - WORDS BY MARTIN LUDGATE HGCT

There comes a time in many of our more chal­leng­ing, longert­erm canal restora­tion projects when a grad­ual change be­comes ap­par­ent: from what might seem like a ‘scat­ter­gun’ ap­proach to choos­ing work­sites, to some­thing that looks more ob­vi­ously like a plan.

Note the words ‘might seem’ and ‘looks’. I’m not say­ing that there isn’t lots of plan­ning go­ing on. It’s just that, in the early years, with a derelict canal that was sold off to dozens of dif­fer­ent landown­ers af­ter it closed, most of whom will be frankly pretty scep­ti­cal about the prospects of a bunch of am­a­teurs re­open­ing a wa­ter­way that was aban­doned be­fore their grand­par­ents were born, it isn’t easy to per­suade them to even let the canal so­ci­ety on to their land to do some ini­tial clear­ance work. But that changes. From a mere hand­ful of avail­able work­sites, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a ‘work where you can’ at­ti­tude with vol­un­teers clear­ing the odd lock or patch­ing the odd bridge at what looks like ran­dom se­lec­tion, a suc­cess­ful canal restora­tion group grad­u­ally gains the con­fi­dence of more landown­ers and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties through suc­cess­ful early projects, and

The re­stored Ell Brook Aqueduct, and (inset) what it looked like be­fore restora­tion be­gan

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