Cheddleton Work Party

21 volunteers took part in a work party organised by the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust at Cheddleton on Saturday 26th March, working in partnership with British Waterways (BW) and BW Central Shires Volunteer Leader Stuart Collins.

The day included conservation work on the canal towpath clearing saplings undermining the towpath edge and extensive digging to reveal four sets of old “fish tail” cobble formations, part of the industrial heritage of Cheddleton’s canal wharves, along with work to preserve a 200 year old listed canal bridge.

During an interview with Radio Stoke in advance of the work party Trust Chairman Julie Arnold explained how it is an important stretch to preserve. "The work will help secure the bridge," she said. "It's actually become 'at risk' - the pointing and brickwork and stonework - so we're going to work to secure that and then do some further improvements to the route between the historic flint mill and the steam railway station over the next few months.”

The work party brought together waterway volunteers from lots of different Caldon Canal organisations - regular ‘old hands’ and new.  Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust’s work party organiser Alison Smedley oversaw all the preparations and work planning with BW. Taking part on the day were volunteers from the Trust, the River Churnet Boat Club, Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club and The Beatrice Charity - many of whom are also IWA Stoke-on-Trent members, and some who worked on the original restoration of the canal leading to its reopening in 1974 - plus local volunteers new to the canal who had got in touch via the Staffordshire Moorlands Community and Voluntary Services.

Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley and her family joined the volunteers on Saturday morning helping to clear one of the cobbled sections, and learning more about how the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and British Waterways are part of the 17 organisations in Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership working on fundraising and plans to improve the towpath route throughout the valley.