Canal study could lead to major investment

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A STUDY into improving one of Pocklington’s most picturesque areas has been launched- and there are hopes it could help open the door to a £1 million investment.

British Waterways and the Leader Waterways Partnership has commissioned the study on Pocklington Canal and local people are being asked to submit their ideas on what they would like to see happen on or around the waterway.

Heritage expert Marion Blockley from Shropshire has been tasked to carry out the survey, and having set up a pitch at Pocklington’s market on Tuesday to gauge views, she is set to spend the coming months gathering more opinions and assembling a report.

She said: “I am hoping to talk to as many different user groups and local residents as possible to try and find out what you think is the best way forward for the canal.

“My study aims to find out who are the current and potential users of the canal- for example, local families at evenings and weekends, local schools, bird watchers, boaters, dog walkers, ramblers, kayakers, dragon fly enthusiasts, botanists, local historians, industrial archaeologists and how we might do more to meet their needs without compromising the significance of this canal.

“I have already spoken to several local residents and hopefully I will see more of you along the canal towpath over the summer.

“The main thing is to get everybody together and I think there’s a very good chance of getting a good bit of funding.”

Pocklington Canal runs for over nine miles through the East Riding eventually meeting with the River Derwent.

Competed in 1818, it was operational until 1934, by which time rail had become the dominant force in freight transport. The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society (PCAS) took responsibility for the waterway in 1969 following decades of decay and began restoration work.

With locks now restored, the waterway is primarily used for pleasure boat cruises run by PCAS, but has become a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts and walkers also.

Mrs Blockley continued: “The canal has been designated as one of the most significant canals for wildlife.

“I shall be looking at ways to tell explain the significance and tell the stories of the canal, including the story of the heroic efforts of PCAS since 1969.

“The report will also consider ways to actively manage the canal to enhance its natural and cultural significance and to encourage more local people, especially younger volunteers, and local schools, to become actively involved in caring for the canal.

“The aim of the plan is to enhance the canal in a sensitive and appropriate manner, to enable users to appreciate and enjoy the canal in ways which take account of its special environmental and heritage qualities.

“Also we want to strengthen linkages between the canal, the local villages and Pocklington, for local benefit, informed by the wishes of local residents.

“Hopefully, if we can achieve consensus, we can use the report to support a bid for significant sums of funding to enhance and manage the canal for the benefit of all.”

Anyone wanting to suggest ideas on ways to improve the canal and the towpaths can email marion@marionblockley.co.uk, write to her at 6 Cherry Tree Hill, Coalbrookdale, Telford, TF8 7EQ or phone 07969672343.