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A new canal for a new Trust

Added: (Tue Dec 05 2000)

Pressbox (Press Release) - Embargo:00.01am Thursday 7 December 2000

A new canal for a new Trust

On the day that work starts on England’s newest canal, one of the UK’s youngest charities, The Waterways Trust, unveils its ambitions and reviews its achievements at its first Annual Meeting (Thursday 7 December at The Museum of London).

After a wait of over 200 years, work begins today to build the Millennium Ribble Link. The Link was first proposed by celebrated canal engineer John Rennie at the end of the 18th century and, when it is completed in autumn 2001, will be England’s first new canal in 100 years. The project will connect the Lancaster Canal to the UK’s inland waterway network and has been made possible by a partnership between The Waterways Trust, Lancashire County Council, the Ribble Link Trust, British Waterways and a £2.7million Millennium Commission grant. Completion of the Millennium Ribble Link will bring closer the eventual restoration of the Lancaster Canal to Kendal.

This is one of several schemes to be outlined today at The Waterway’s Trust’s first Annual Meeting to an audience of leading conservation, waterway, heritage and environmental organisations. The Waterways Trust was established to bring about the widest possible public benefit, awareness and enjoyment of Britain’s inland waterways. In less than two years, it has already made a spectacular impact.

In his introduction to the Annual Review, The Waterways Trust’s Chairman, Sir Neil Cossons, says “In its first 21 months, The Waterways Trust has demonstrated a great capacity to get things done. It is now making possible a range of projects which, for so many years, have been the dreams of dedicated enthusiasts.”

The Trust’s first year’s income and expenditure of £5 million is expected to rise to £15million in 2000/01 and to £19 million by 2004/05. By the end of 2002/03, the Trust will have invested a total of £35 million in the contracted projects of Rochdale Canal, Millennium Ribble Link and Anderton Boat Lift.

The Trust’s achievements to date include:
 Bringing together Britain’s three principal waterways museums and national waterway archives into a designated collection recognised for its national importance, one of only 62 such collections amongst 1000 independent museums.
 Working in partnership to raise over £500,000 for the restoration of the internationally important Anderton Boat Lift.
 Rescuing the £23.8 million restoration of the Rochdale Canal, which is now due to be fully reopened after a gap of more than 70 years.
 Launching The Waterways Trust Scotland in November, to raise £3.5 million over three and a half years for Scotland’s waterways.
 As a funding partner, levering £500,000 to support waterway projects – including The Millennium Link project in Scotland; Stewponey Wharf on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal; and The Wildlife Trusts’ Water Policy Team.
 Commissioning a Royal National Theatre touring production - ‘Best Mates’ - to introduce young people to the traditions and heritage of the waterways.

Future plans include:
 The establishment of a small grants scheme for waterway education, conservation, access and restoration projects. Grants would be made available to canal societies and individuals, trusts and other voluntary groups and could include anything from community, environmental and educational projects to historic boat restoration.
 Completion of feasibility studies into waterway restoration projects, for example the Droitwich Canals and the Cotswold Canals in partnership with the local canal trusts and partners.
 Major improvements to cataloguing and access to the extensive waterways archive, creating a ‘virtual archive’ via the internet that will provide students, enthusiasts, scholars and other members of the public access to over two centuries of documents and materials
 Building new partnerships with organisations such as the Environment Agency and Broads Authority to help deliver their objectives for fundraising and waterway regeneration.

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Notes to editors:
Public enquiries: Copies of The Waterways Trust’s first Annual Review can be obtained from: The Waterways Trust, The Trust House, Church Road, Watford WD17 4QA, e-mail: enquiries.hq@thewaterwaystrust.co.uk

Media enquiries: Caroline Audemars, 01444 487813, e-mail: caudemars@hotmail.com (contact details not for publication)

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