IWA Milton Keynes Branch

28 October 2020

On the 16th and 17th October, volunteers from IWA Milton Keynes Branch gave 170 hours of time to a cleanup along the Grand Union Canal. They hauled four tons of rubbish out of a 9.2 mile stretch of the Canal. Work took place between Fenny Stratford in Milton Keynes, and Grove Lock, south of Leighton Buzzard. Items found included a large length of drain pipe, 5 supermarket trolleys, 4 bicycles, 6 tyres, and a large spring mattress. This was so heavy it had to be lifted out by a dredger.

60 Tonnes of Rubbish in recent years

Chris Durham, chair of IWA Milton Keynes branch said “we had to operate a scaled down clean-up this time to protect our volunteers in the current situation. However, we still managed a huge haul. Over recent years our volunteers have removed over 60 tons of rubbish from the canal through Milton Keynes. It’s unbelievable what gets thrown in, but the waterway is a much cleaner environment thanks to our volunteers.”

A large workboat was towed by a tug skippered by James Griffin of hireboat operators Wyvern Shipping. They also provided manpower, equipment and sponsorship. Volunteers on the workboat grappled items from the centre of the canal. They also collected rubbish gathered by the towpath team. Teams from TS Ocean Naval Cadet Corps in Leighton Buzzard carried out litter-picks through Leighton Buzzard and a tea-boat, crewed by Diane and Andy Witts, provided welcome refreshments on both days. Overhanging vegetation was trimmed from the far side of the canal, especially on the stretch from the Globe Inn to Leighton Lock.

Canal & River Trust, the navigation authority for the Grand Union Canal, supported the event. They provided the workboat, safety equipment, and staff manning a dredger. The dredger assisted with heavy items dragged from the canal, and compacted the load on the workboat when necessary.

Join us on a cleanup

Chris Durham explained “4 tons is equivalent to the weight of two mid-size SUVs. We last cleaned up this stretch of canal two years ago so it hasn’t taken long to fill up again. Getting outdoors and working as a team to clean up the canal is a lot of fun. We gather twice a year on different stretches of water in the area to make the waterway look nicer for everyone who uses it. If anyone is inspired to come along please do take a look at our our website to find out more. You would be very welcome.”

Everyone present at the work party and all volunteers of IWA Milton Keynes Branch would like to offer their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Alan Smith. The weekend clean-up of the Grand Union Canal was completed in his honour and he will be warmly remembered by the Association.

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