Two days of contrasting weather saw dozens of volunteers turn out to give the canal through Milton Keynes a major spring clean.
Members of the Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association were joined by staff from the Canal & River Trust - who also supplied workboats and safety equipment - and volunteers from The Parks Trust.
For the first time, volunteers from three Milton Keynes companies - Santander, Worldpay and Leica Geosystems - also joined in. The event was sponsored by the Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd, Linslade, who provided staff, a boat and specialised equipment.
The work began on Friday, April 13 when it was dry, though dull and cool, but the following day brought warm sunshine. Previous rain had left the towpath extremely muddy. A total of 65 volunteers clocked up over 500 hours’ work over the two days, plus dozens of hours spent preparing for the event.
The clean-up worked north from Fenny Stratford to Old Wolverton, with an overnight stop at Giffard Park. Walkers cleared the towpath and hedges of litter and larger items of rubbish, and vegetation on blind bends on the canal was cut back.
The usual variety of items was recovered including a large dinghy, bikes and motorbikes, supermarket trolleys, timber, chairs, a car clamp, running machine, various shoes, old fishing rods, and a ship in a bottle! The haul amounted to an estimated six tonnes and will be disposed of by Canal & River Trust’s contractors.
On both days, volunteers from The Parks Trust carried out separate litter-picks, working not only on the towpaths but also on the Trust’s parklands adjacent to the canal. Other Parks Trust volunteers worked with the main clean-up party.
Sonny King, volunteer development co-ordinator for the Canal & River Trust, said: “500+ hours is a fantastic achievement and you all have much to be proud of. Thank you to Santander, Worldpay and Leica Geosystems for getting out and supporting the event. And of course a huge thank you to every volunteer who came out over the weekend from all groups to help with the clean-up.
“Canal & River Trust is always happy to support and work in collaboration with great volunteer groups such as yourselves to enable events like these, by providing staff time, work boats and other assistance where possible. We are very much looking forward to the next one.”
IWA Milton Keynes Branch is grateful to Canal & River Trust for its support with staff, workboats, dredger and safety equipment, to The Parks Trust, Santander, Worldpay and Leica Geosystems for the splendid contribution made by their volunteers, and to the Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd for sponsorship, and for providing the tug for the hopper, support staff, and the specialist grappling hooks used on the hopper.
The organisers added: “Thanks to all the volunteers for a tremendous job tidying up after those who dump rubbish, and keeping the Grand Union Canal through Milton Keynes as safe and attractive as possible for the majority of the community, who value it as a great asset to the city.”
IWA Milton Keynes Branch will hold its next Canal Cleanup in the autumn, from Fenny Stratford to Leighton Buzzard.