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Boost for group dedicated to restoring historic stretch of canal

PUBLISHED: 09:47 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:47 11 April 2018

Peter Goodchild, Jane McGeehan and Gerald Burns from Halesworth NRWH, were presented with a brushcutter by Joshua Greystrong, Spencer Greystrong and Dale Green from Ipswich IWA. Picture: Robert Rougetel

Peter Goodchild, Jane McGeehan and Gerald Burns from Halesworth NRWH, were presented with a brushcutter by Joshua Greystrong, Spencer Greystrong and Dale Green from Ipswich IWA. Picture: Robert Rougetel

Archant

Volunteers trying to restore a stretch of canal which once served as an important trade route have received a welcome donation.

The NRWG have been working to restore the Blyth Navigation, which once reached as far as the North Sea at Southwold and was a well-used trade route. Picture: Robert RougetelThe NRWG have been working to restore the Blyth Navigation, which once reached as far as the North Sea at Southwold and was a well-used trade route. Picture: Robert Rougetel

Halesworth New Reach Working Group (NRWG) welcomed representatives from the Inland Waterways Association’s (IWA) Ipswich branch on Tuesday, April 10, to take delivery of a new power brushcutter, purchased through a generous donation.

The NRWG was founded two years ago, when chairman Gerald Burns paddled a canoe from Halesworth to Southwold to kick-start a project overseeing the restoration of part of the canal known as the Blyth Navigation.

His effort signalled the start of the group’s work to reinstate the route, which once reached as far as the North Sea at Southwold and was well-used for the exportation of goods such as grain and malt.

They have since purchased new equipment, cleared surface weed from the water and worked to clear overgrown vegetation from the bank.

Having been presented with the much-needed new piece of kit, Mr Burns said: “We hope one day to open up the waterway as an amenity attraction both for town residents and visitors.

“The gift of a new petrol brushcutter will make our maintenance of the towpath and canal banks a lot easier. We are very grateful to Ipswich IWA for their generosity.”

Spencer Greystrong, treasurer for the IWA, added: “We’ve been aware of efforts to restore Halesworth’s canal for many years and this new initiative attracted our attention.

“Our policy is to encourage and support groups like this, who want to restore historic waterways but lack the sufficient funds.”

Last year, the NRWG launched their new work punt named after Patrick Stead, a wealthy maltster who worked to preserve the navigation when it was widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries. It will be used over the summer months to clear litter and debris from the water.

They are also aiming to achieve a host of other objectives, including re-planting tress, restoring two derelict locks, replacing a footbridge and providing information boards.

“We would like to see more boats on the canal in the future,” said Mr Burns. “A hundred years ago there were skiffs and canoes for hire – and even ice skating in the winter!”

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