Rising from the depths - what ten volunteers pulled from the canal

editorial image

Twenty shopping trolleys, eight bicycles, one motorbike, two sets of goalposts, 30ft of plastic piping and another 30ft of guttering were among the items pulled from the Grand Union Canal in one day last week.

Volunteers from the Warwickshire branch of the Inland Waterways Association dragged the haul from the stretch of the canal around Europa Way on Tuesday using grappling hooks and drags.

Co-ordinator Murray Woodward said removing the oily bicycles and engines would benefit birds and animals living in the canal and lead to less damage to boats.

He said: “It was a good haul, but obviously I would prefer it not to be in there.

“Obviously there are environmental implications to having toxins in the water. You have diesels and oils getting into the water, then the risk of injury to wildlife and the potential damage to propellors and hulls of boats.”

A stolen cigarette machine was the heaviest item recovered from the towpath nearby, together with eight sackfuls of litter and drinks cans.

Aside from the quantity of trolleys, Mr Woodward said there was nothing unusual about the day’s salvage.

He added: “I’ve heard stories of things like aeroplane propellors and they once found a fridge full of food on one cleanup.

“Safes are quite common, but there’s never anything in them - once they’ve been broken into they tend to get dumped.”

Peter Webb, who runs the Warwickshire branch’s workparties, was dismayed at the way the canal had been used.

He said: “If you go on dumping things in the canal you end up with no canal at all, just a rubbish tip.”

Mr Webb believes canals should be preserved both as part of the nation’s heritage and as an “iron lung” in the middle of many towns and cities.

He added: “The canal really is a wonderful place for pleasure boating, walking, cycling, fishing and people who just want to go and look at the ducks and swans.”

The branch holds monthly talks. Recent activities included a day clearing the canal and cleaning graffiti around Clemens Street and will include a day painting locks near Lapworth next month.

The Warwickshire branch’s general meeting will take place on Wednesday March 9 at Coventry Connection in Ryton-on-Dunsmore at 7.30pm. Call 422764 for information.