Chelmer Canal Trust

Home Forthcoming Events Past Newsletters Work Parties History Susan Map Trails and walks Links page Contact Us Join Us!



Chelmsford River Clean

Saturday, 14th April 2018

In the early morning, what used to be Wharf Road Car Park, where we used to meet up for this event, could be seen across the river, now very much a construction site, and strictly off limits behind blue hoardings.

As this was an official event in the city, both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor attended, and even took a very active part in the litter picking!

And of course there were regulars from the regular Chelmer Canal Trust.

The Canal up to Springfield Basin, while in need of a clean up, had been left off the official collection zone, but that was not going to stop us from removing what we could get.

And of course, no workparty report would be complete without our volunteers in coracle and kayak.

Overall a very successful morning with a good turnout and a large amounts of litter removed from the City's waterways.


Saturday, 7th April 2018
The Sandford Feeder Stream

One of our priority areas for Floating American Pennywort is the stream across the water meadows above Sandford Lock. It is an environment that lends itself to growing the invasive weed, and anything that grows here can so easily be flushed into the Navigation and infect the whole system. Hence our need to keep things under control in this area.

Eight volunteers were up for the task and it was great to be able to welcome a new member to our work party. All of our volunteers are valuable and appreciated; and it’s great when we have those who not only offer regular support but input that bit extra – like being willing to pitch up with a classy home-made bridge! It takes only a short while to put together.

And soon it’s tested and ready for use.

Judging from the few strands of weed we saw on our walk up along the stream there was either very little pennywort growing, or most of it had been washed away. Then we came across the reason that we hadn’t seen much weed – a natural dam, formed by a fallen tree, against which a massive amount of weed had built up, pushed there by recent flooding.

There was nothing to be done other than to get stuck in and work on it. The amount of weed there cannot be overestimated. But some excellent team work paid off. Crome-throwing bringing it to the bank. Cromes pulling the weed up the bank from the water. Rakes and hooks being used to spread the weed to encourage it to rot down.

As usual our volunteers had worked hard and without doubt now deserved the refreshment break. A quick walk back to the cars and what do you know?! Despite bringing the rest of the provisions, someone has forgotten to bring any cups! A quick search of the cars and we found enough to go round.

Then back to the stream for more

In some places rafts of weed had been lifted by the flood water onto the existing vegetation.

Groups of volunteers tackled even more patches of weed.

Always a valuable member to our work parties, coracleman Steve is indispensable.

This was another of our work parties where an impressive amount of Floating American Pennywort had been removed from the water. This weed, at least, was not now going to be growing in the Navigation later in the year.

There was just one task left. Still quite a task. A ‘plug’ of weed that had been previously intentionally left to trap weed coming downstream needed to be removed. When it starts growing it risks being flushed out into the river.

Again, we needed our coracleman’s skills to get this sorted.

Without doubt another session of hard work carried out by our volunteers and an impressive amount of weed that now shouldn’t cause problems.

Well done everyone


Saturday, 3rd February 2018
The Langford Cut

The weather wasn't as bad as it might have been, the very limited flow of water through the Cut was ideal, the prevalence of Pennywort was dreadful and the ten volunteers were brilliant!

A huge build-up of Floating American Pennywort in the Langford Cut, if washed downstream into the Long Pond, could have had disastrous results if not dealt with. Our mission today was going to be a tough one. But we were all up for it.

A fine group of people were poised to go forth, equipped with all that was needed for a morning's weedbusting.

After the briefing of the extent of the work to be done, and the various roles needed, our volunteers were soon preparing to start work, even the most experienced somewhat surprised by the amount of pennywort that had thus far survived the winter.

With teams of three working on either side of the 'pipe', and excellent crome-throwing skills being complemented by coracleman Steve, much energy was expended and much progress was made.

In an impressively-short time practically every scrap of pennywort had been removed from the worst infected area.

Nevertheless there was plenty more to do, and everyone played their part, gradually moving along the Cut to deal with the next infestation.

Not that any proof of the amount of weed removed is needed, but for the record, two of the piles of weed that were created from the work beside the sewer pipe.

Despite the temptation to keep going, it seemed wise to re-energise with some very welcome refreshments.

The conditions in the Cut were far from ideal, especially as it being an ecologically-important sit we needed to create as little disturbance as possible.

As usual, a variety of techniques were being used, all tried and tested, and all effective in their own way.

The coracle and the canoe collected the weed that couldn't be accessed from the bank, and teams on the bank accepted it and moved it high above the waterline where it can't be washed back in (and hopefully where any wildlife can find its way back to its natural environment).

What a morning! Lots of hard work from a dedicated team. Sadly we ran out of time. But, especially given the conditions, it has been a very worthwhile morning.

We'll be back!

Litterpicking and Hand-Picking

Saturday, 6th January 2018
The Long Pond at Fullbridge

Soon after a cold grey dawn, a hardy group of volunteers assembled in the car park of the Fullbridge branch of Tesco. A quick calculation reassured us that the new 4 hour parking restriction would not result in unwelcome penalties, so long as we finished on time.

Various circumstances, including adverse weather conditions and closed flood gates blocking the navigation meant that we had no large work boat, and as the reported pennywort was not evident, it was decided to make litter picking the main focus of our activities.

But our volunteers won't miss an opportunity to remove any available pennywort from the water, and it wasn't long before Barry had spotted a patch to dispatch.

On the water, closed flood gates and lurking covert pennywort were no match for Steve and his coracle.

While the rest of the party spread out through the frost to gather thoughtlessly discarded detritus from the towpath and environs,

our trusty coracle-man gathered countless tiny pennywort plants, each of which would have been easily capable of growing to block the channel if left unchecked!

At the pre-arranged time everyone returned to the car-park to load the haul of litter bags into the cars, and enjoy some hard-earned refreshments.

By this time the obsession with “finishing the job” had seriously set in with some of the volunteers and a further huge haul litter was gathered from more of the towpath on the north side of the Navigation, even extending to the cycleway, while Steve went back to find even more baby-pennyworts lurking in the reeds.

Eventually, it was time to stop, and some volunteers were realising that this litter removal thing was actually becoming a bit of an addiction, as there always seemed to be one more piece…. But not wishing to be fined for over-staying in the car park, the litter was loaded into two cars and we said our goodbyes, with the feeling that we had made a difference.


Home Forthcoming Events Past Newsletters Work Parties History Susan Map Trails and walks Links page Contact Us Join Us!