Lichfield & Hatherton Canals
The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Trust’s aim is to facilitate the restoration of the two canals.
Its most significant achievements have been the building of the aqueduct over the M6 Toll motorway and installing navigable culverts at Churchbridge on the Hatherton. It has enjoyed support from local councils, MPs, colleges and businesses providing corporate volunteers. The trust was Lichfield Mayors chosen charity for fundraising in 2019/20. Last year, its work was featured on David Johns ’Cruising the Cut YouTube channel, which generated even more support and donations after over half a million viewings.
Considerable building work has been progressed in Lichfield with volunteers in action seven days a week. In the last three years, significant progress has been made at Fosseway Heath following a grant of £18,500 from the Postcode Local Trust. The canal has been excavated, the towpath wall rebuilt and a new basin designed and built to accommodate the turn from the old canal route to the new. A nature reserve has been created here that includes a boardwalk through a wetlands area, and several benches built by a trust volunteer have been put in place along the Heritage Towpath Trail.
A Garden of Reflection has been created at Gallows Wharf which, together with a wooden narrowboat flowerbed in prominent position on the roadside along the route of the canal, helped Lichfield acquire a gold medal in Britain in Bloom in 2018. Lichfield was able to win the gold again in 2019, with help from the trusts brick-built narrowboat flowerbed, towed by a metal horse, at Fosseway Heath. Work has now started to excavate the canal from Gallows Wharf to link up with Borrowcop Locks Canal Park.
Fundraising is ongoing, following the 2016 appeal launch by well-known actor and trust vice-president David Suchet for £1m to build a canal tunnel under the railway embankment south of Lichfield. The aim was to carry out the work for the tunnel when the road bypass bridge under the railway line was constructed. The bridge for the road was completed during Christmas 2019, but it was not possible to carry out the works for the canal tunnel, due to the space required for the engineering works. Preparatory work is scheduled to begin when the site is cleared.
Septembers Huddlesford Heritage Gathering, a biennial event organised jointly by the trust and Lichfield Cruising Club, was highly successful despite heavy rain on the Sunday; planning has already started for 2021.
For CCT, 2019 will go down as the year of awards: the Queens Award for Voluntary Service (the MBE for volunteer groups), a CRT Living Waterways award and a Support Staffordshire Star award. These accolades not only give a stamp of approval for the work of the trust but recognise the efforts of all the volunteers, both on site and behind the scenes.