SHROPSHIRE UNION MIDDLEWICH BRANCH ADOPTERS
In 2012, when the Canal and River Trust took over from British Waterways, a Government department became a charity entrusted with maintaining over 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. As part of its charity ethos CRT places an emphasis on attracting volunteers and opportunities exist, amongst others, for adoptions by the local community, lock keepers, and towpath task force workers etc.
In April 2014 SUMBA was formed under CRT's "Adopt Your Local Canal" scheme by a small group of local canal enthusiasts. Five and a half miles of the Middlewich branch have now been adopted from Barbridge Junction to Morris Bridge 15 at Church Minshull. This is the longest adoption of navigable canal in England.
SUMBA has now grown far beyond initial expectations — and the group is now carrying out Pre Planned Maintenance for CRT in addition to improving and maintaining the canal's visual & physical environment both on the towpath and the offside.
SUMBA has a regular volunteer base in excess of 50 people, fairly evenly split between male and female. Over 20 volunteers attend our work parties which are held up to thee times a month. In addition we have a contact list of almost 100 supporters, organisations and media.
Painting, Maintenance and Vegetation Control
The projects that SUMBA has completed include — towpath and lock side maintenance — greasing lock gates — laying paths — cutting back towpath and offside overhanging vegetation and trees — painting and repairing canal side infrastructure, furniture, locks and buildings — adding picnic tables, benches and BBQs — lock keeping — regular extensive litter picking — auditing the condition of the towpath and canal — and much, much more.
We have an ongoing programme planting historic Cheshire apple trees, fruit bushes and insect attracting plants at appropriate towpath locations for the enjoyment of the canal's users.
In Autumn 2015 we commenced a twice monthly programme to lay the overgrown hedge opposite Venetian Marina near Cholmondeston Lock. This was a major task, involving three days of professional training courtesy of CRT, and required us to first clear and then lay over 200yds of hedge. It was completed in March 2016 and the end result was a significant improvement to the towpath. In Sepember the hedge came second in the national Living Waterways Awards.
In October 2016 we commenced our Autumn/Winter programme -
1) Laying the hedge at the 48hr moorings above Cholmondeston Lock.
2) Cutting back overhanging vegetation and trees between Barbridge Junction and Bridge 15 at Church Minshull.