Walsall - for that dirty weekend with a difference
22 April 2012
The WRGies (Waterways Recovery Group) have descended on Walsall with a vengance as part of the annual canals clean up programme.
Grappling at the foot of Walsall Locks
I attended the event as part of the crew of BCNS's workboat Phoenix, which was teamed up with Hawne from the Coombswood Trust. Both craft were operating as floating skips, collecting the rubbish hauled from the canal by the WRG teams.
Collectively we made quite a sight, with over 80 volunteers from WRG, maybe 10 from BW (its going to be hard to get those letters out of currency!) and than another dozen or so on the workboats - probably over 100 people donned out in high vis vests grappling with the filth. We certainly had plenty of locals stopping to have a look.
Is there room for half a balance beam?
Phoenix is ailing at the moment so did the short haul to the top of the locks and back, which was enough to completely fill her hold. Then it was back to the Town Arm Junction where BW had a grab and a couple of huge skips. The three workboats fetched back a huge volume of filth, including the usual assortment of tyres, bikes, golf bags building waste plus a huge mound of weed which had covered the basin at the top lock.
Perhaps the most unnerving items collected were the range of syringes. I was a bit surprised when I saw a BW guy approach the newly emptied boat with a sharps bucket, but there bobbing in the murky water were about 15 syringes. I am sure that this is normal, but its still a bit sad.
Another load for Phoenix
Our afternoon was spent grappling the Town Arm and basin which produced a surprising quantity of metal, all safely set aside for scrap and ultimately will pay for a beer or three. Interestingly, there was a general feel that the clean up isn't producing the same volume of metal as it used to. It seems that the tatters have caught on to the fact that there is a lot of metal to be had in the canal, and do a fair bit of grappling themselves. Every cloud and all that.
This has to be the vision of the future for the C&RT - volunteers and the organisation working together, this the admin and logistics delivered by C&RT and the labour by enthusiasts. Either way, the Walsall Canal and the Curley Wyrley are the beneficiaries and we should feel the difference when we run the BCN Marathon Challange in early June.Maybe all this dredging and clearing will alter the bonus factors next year.