Gongoozler: Do boaters volunteer?

Published: Saturday, 03 March 2018

IT APPEARS that some canal societies are making great progress with their construction projects.

Locks appear to be the feature of the moment as the Cotswold Trust opening of Walbridge Lower Lock was attended by Royalty; Gennets Bridge Lock on the Wey & Arun has been completed as has Lock 15 on the Grantham Canal. Congratulations to all who help such schemes.

Skills learnt by volunteers

It is really positive that voluntary societies can make such progress using hard won funding and voluntary labour. The longer term benefit to the canal fraternity is that skills have been learnt by volunteers who can contribute either to the teaching of a younger generation or to restoring more locks.

A bag of cement or a dozen slabs from your local DIY store doesn’t go very far along a lock that’s over 90ft long, up to 14ft wide and about 12ft deep. Material costs are significant but probably amount to less than 30% of a restoration cost. Every society needs help, and volunteers can make the difference between finishing a project and running out of cash!

Never give restoration a thought

Perhaps boat owners should consider if they make a sufficient contribution to restoration. Most, I suspect, never give restoration a thought as I watch them glide under a bridge on a fully operational canal. “I’ve paid my licence fee so why should I do more ..?” You know the type who will be parking their car just as arrogantly close to the school gates to collect their grandchild as they will when they insist on mooring their boat to the pub door! Do they give a fig for volunteers? I doubt it for a minute.

Come on you boaters prove me wrong by volunteering for a local group when you are not boating. Put something back and support canal restoration!