Chelmer Canal Trust, formerly the Friends of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

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Objects

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A."to preserve, maintain and enhance for the benefit of the community at large the canals, rivers, their tributaries, waterways and natural environs within and adjacent to the designated Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Conservation Area, and to protect and enhance the public right of navigation either alone or jointly with any other persons corporations or bodies or public or local authorities and with and subject to all such consents statutory enactments or orders and acts in law as may be applicable to the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Conservation Area or necessary for the carrying out of the above objects."
B."to advance the education and understanding of the general public of the history, industrial archaeology, and natural features and wildlife of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and environs, its associated structures and related artefacts."
C."to promote and develop the recreational opportunities along the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and its associated rivers and connected waterways and environs for the benefit of the public."

Objects would be achieved by the following means:

Attracting a widely based membership through publicising our organisation’s objectives and our activities; our appeal would be to those people interested and concerned about preserving and enhancing the local natural and historic heritage; we would want to seek to include boat owners, canoeists, ramblers, naturalists, historians, waterway enthusiasts, conservationists, anglers, local youth groups and schools, local businesses and those working on the navigation or nearby.

A subscription membership would provide some funding to service the work of an executive committee who would identify projects commensurate with the objects and would explore the means of funding them.

Publicity for our cause would be obtained through the medium of reports of our activities in the local press, radio and television. An attractive joining leaflet has been produced explaining our aims. Talks have been given to local Rotary Clubs

To date regular boating festivals have been staged, at least two a year, the most successful of which attracted in advance of two thousand visitors. Some events have been organised in conjunction with other bodies like Chemsford Borough Council, the Inland Waterways Association, and The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Company. Touring plaques have been designed to encourage boaters to tour the navigation along its entire length. Each festival focuses on the use of the waterways as a means of recreational enjoyment.

An informative exhibition is provided at each event. Either a mobile exhibition unit is hired, or a former warehouse is used, to house the display of photographs and video presentation. In collaboration with other funding bodies information boards have been provided at (to date) four locations along the waterway: these give details of the site’s history and current use.

Exhibitions have been held as part of Chelmsford’s Museum Open Day: the themes covered are the early days of the waterway, maintenance, mills, flooding, transport and trade and modern day activities.

Presentations have been held on various subjects and have concerned the planning policies of district councils, the implications of the conservation area, the recreational users, the wildlife dimensions, the work of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Company, The Essex and Suffolk Water Company, The Environmental Agency and The Conservation Area Partnership Scheme.

River Cruises have been promoted: an interpretative talk given by a local expert has been a noted feature of each trip.

A newsletter has been produced to keep members in touch with current developments and initiatives. Where circumstances permit this is made available to the general public.

Working parties of members have carried out repairs to various landing stages, provided steps and mooring posts, repaired eroded banks, and where necessary encouraged and controlled new vegetal growth. The feasibility of connecting by water the Museum of Power at Langford to the navigation via the River Blackwater is being examined.

An environmental survey along the length of the waterway has been carried out under the various headings: pollution, state of banks, paths, historic infrastructure, bridges, gates, the presence or absence of recreational users, wildlife and flowering plants and the invasive weed, American Pennywort. An inventory for future action plans has been established. A very vigorous campaign is being fought to alert all interested parties of the dangers of allowing this foreign weed time to establish itself. The various agencies involved have been exhorted to carry out extra weed cutting and removal-a sitting committee of all those concerned has been formed. The ability to navigate at all times has underpinned our requests for action.

Other initiatives have been to support the provision of lock ladders, when a lock is scheduled for major repair, and to fit vandal-proof locks on winding gear.

Various students ranging from university to secondary level have been assisted in their studies of the waterway

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