Buoyant summer for canal lock-keeping volunteers

Volunteers in North Glasgow are celebrating a bumper summer of volunteering along the Forth & Clyde Canal as part of our ‘Love Your Canal’ initiative.

From April to October this year, local volunteers from all walks of life took on the role of traditional canal lock-keepers to help over 70 boats pass through the historic waterway at Maryhill.

Since the summer-long project began in 2016, volunteers have moved over 140 boats through the Forth & Clyde Canal, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. In between opening locks for the boats, the volunteers have undertaken a huge variety of tasks to conserve the canal environment and improve the amenity.

From lime-mortaring to litter picks, volunteers have contributed a staggering 3,150 hours since the project began in 2016, which equates to £22,000 of volunteer time (calculated using Big Lottery Funding guidance).

L to R - Volunteers Bob, Sheila and Supervisor Lesley

Karen Moore, Chief Executive of Scottish Waterways Trust, said:

We want to say a huge thank you to volunteers on our only lock-keeping waterways adoption project for their outstanding contribution to caring for the Forth & Clyde Canal and their community.

Through the project, local people have breathed new life into the canal in North Glasgow, helping to unlock the potential of the waterway which has been transformed over recent years.

The canals offer a huge range of opportunities for people across Scotland, and we’re delighted to help communities like that of Maryhill experience everything the waterways on their doorstep have to offer, from learning new skills to safeguarding a vital part of the nation’s heritage.

This year, the group also reached the final stages of two prestigious awards, being recognised at the Evening Times Community Champion Awards for Glasgow North West as well as the Glasgow Inspiring Cities Awards 2017.

Volunteer Bob Alston, an ex US marine who moved to Glasgow 50 years ago, was further commended by the US Consulate this August for his incredible contribution to the local community in Maryhill as he reached his 70th birthday. Since joining the project, Bob has helped over 130 boats pass through the waterway. He said:

The project gives people, like me, a chance to help the community. The canal is a wonderful resource. This year the volunteer team have been even better – we’re so slick at moving boats through the waterway. I’ve got the confidence now that I can do these things, the lock-keeping, the lime-mortaring. I couldn’t do that before. It’s a great skill. People in the area stop by and say it’s great what we’ve been doing – they notice and really appreciate it.

Over the winter months, volunteers will carry out lime mortar repairs on historic canalside buildings, undertake stone carving and litterpicking as well as take part in a First Aid course. Anyone wishing to volunteer for the winter can do so by contacting alan@scottishwaterwaystrust.org.uk or 07768 951740.