VOLUNTEERS who have devoted hours of their time to cleaning up Burnley’s historic stretch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal have been praised.
The volunteers, of all ages, carried out more than 4,000 clean-up days from April. They were thanked by British Waterways which organised a boat trip for the tireless enthusiasts.
The Burnley Canal Communities Project is a two-year plan to help more people become involved in the unique stretch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal that cuts through Burnley.
Indeed, the “Straight Mile” stretch of the canal through Burnley is classed as one of the seven wonders of the canal world.
Among a plethora of important improvement work the volunteers have carried out, tasks have included regular maintenance, litter picking and vegetation removal.
Other key work has seen towpath improvements and dry stone walling, overall enhancing the 200-year old canal as well as the Bridgewater and Lancaster canals, which already has clocked-up a value of more than £450,000.
Matt Taylor, volunteer leader with British Waterways, said: “Volunteering on the canals offers many different opportunities to put something back into the local community.
“The important contribution that volunteers make helps us achieve so much more than we could otherwise afford and ensures the magnificent canals gets more of the care and attention they deserve.
“Volunteers have worked on many interesting projects and have gained new skills and met lots of interesting people in the process.”
The trip was made aboard a boat from Hapton Valley Boats, which regularly carries out litter picks along the Leeds Liverpool Canal through Burnley.
A canal festival is currently being planned to be held in Burnley in September. The Burnley stretch of the canal was opened in 1796, and helped to transform Burnley. It was an immediate success carrying everything from cotton, coal, limestone and even manure.
Volunteering with British Waterways has increased by 170% in the past two years and was last year valued at £1.5m. worth of support to the waterways.
It is one of the corner stones of the new Canal and River Trust which is set to take over from British Waterways as the guardian of the canal in 2012.
For volunteering opportunities within British Waterways, visit www.waterscape.com/volunteer.