By Ian Dipple 10/08 Updated: 10/08 12:19
THE RESTORATION of Droitwich’s historic canal network is in line for a national award.
English Heritage has nominated the multi-million pound revamp as one of 16 heritage rescues to go forward to the finals of the Angel Awards.
More than 200 applications from across the country were received but experts picked out the Droitwich project as they were looking for examples of passion, perseverance and imagination from volunteers who had put hours of effort into saving derelict and severely damaged landmarks from being lost.
The Droitwich Canals will compete with projects in the Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Site category.
Originally opened in 1771, the canals were built to facilitate the salt trade on which the town’s wealth was founded but by 1939 they had been abandoned. It has taken about 50 years of campaigning to restore the waterways which finally bore fruit in 2001 when the Droitwich Canals Restoration Partnership, led by British Waterways, secured £12.7m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the former regional development agency and 100 other donors to complete the sensitive restoration of nine broad locks.
The construction of a new bridge under a duel carriageway, one kilometre of new canal, four new locks, the dredging of five miles of canal, the creation of a 5.5 hectare reed bed, and the installation of interpretation features were also included. They were officially reopened last year and more than 3,000 boats have used them since then.
Max Sinclair, who first rallied the cause in the 1960s and set-up the Droitwich Canals Trust in 1973, said: “I was a war-time child and hated to see destruction. By the late 1960s the Barge canal was overgrown, silted up and missing most of its operational parts. I knew I had to do something. Through grit and determination thousands of volunteers helped in the repairs and now, more than 30 years later, the canals are fully restored and once again enjoyed by all.”
The awards ceremony takes place in London on October 22 and will be hosted by television presenter Clare Balding.
Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk to vote.
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