Trent & Mersey Canal - Burslem Branch
The year 2022 was one of change for the Burslem Port Trust with several of its key trustees having to resign for reasons of health, age and pressure of other commitments, with its long-serving chair, Roger Savage, being one of them. This was a huge shock and for a while it was thought that the project would have to close. However, thanks in considerable part to the trust’s advisers, Moss Naylor Young, it was able to identify a number of new prospective trustees and, after much discussion, these people were appointed to a revised committee and, suddenly, the future looked much brighter.
At the start of 2023 the trust is still at the ‘getting to know you and the project’ stage but there is a lot of enthusiasm. The new chair is Natalie Ornelas who has considerable experience in the operation of charitable trusts, and team members are Michael Toohey (a boater), Amarvir Sing’bal and, from the previous team, Dave Broom and David Dumbelton.
The first project which the new team completed was the placing of interpretation panels along the short line of the old Burslem Branch Canal; these not only describe the history of the site but also establish the trust’s presence on the ground. This work was in addition to the building of the new footpath along much of the site which was completed last year and is much used by local residents. The project management plan, previously set by the former team, is now being revised slightly, with much greater emphasis being given to the restoration and reuse of the wharf and warehouse for which initial plans have been produced and potential new uses suggested. In addition, increased emphasis is being placed on building up the currently small volunteer team which is responsible for site management and who will be the ‘foot soldiers’ for any future scheme on the ground.