THE second golden age of canals in Greater Manchester is almost upon us and now you can be part of a story that stretches back to the 18th century.
With growing demand from people to spend time helping care for its waterways, UK charity Canal & River Trust (CRT) is on the hunt for volunteers.
Their mission for 2020 includes building on the popularity of waterways by creating an even wider variety of voluntary roles, including lock keepers, towpath rangers and educational volunteers.
And there are particularly coveted opportunities around the Saddleworth area on the Diggle Lock Flight which sits on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “As we enter a new year and decade, we are delighted that so many people want to support us and make a difference to their local community.
“On the waterways, community spirit is very much alive and well, with our canals and river navigations at the heart of such a diverse variety of villages, towns and cities across the North West.
“And with so many ways to get involved, 2020 can be a year when more people take positive action for their local canal, for their community, and for themselves.
“The arteries of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, the waterways were once in danger of being forgotten about when the demand for waterborne freight declined.
“We owe a debt to the hard-working volunteers who helped to save them.
“It’s heartening to see this passion for the waterways continue, as a new generation of volunteers in Greater Manchester continue to give us its support.
In 2019, Canal & River Trust saw record numbers of people volunteer 671,000 hours of their time to the waterways.
There was a 27 per cent increase in the number of volunteer lock keepers across the network and the first volunteer to record a staggering 10,000 hours of time since the charity’s formation in 2012.
Richard continues: “Far from being industrial relics or unloved backwaters, the dedicated efforts of thousands of volunteers have made canals the heart of the communities they run through.
“And with a remarkable 50 per cent of the population living within five miles of a canal or river navigation, they are perfectly placed to provide free, accessible, natural environments.”
If you would like to get involved and volunteer with the Canal & River Trust, you can find out more about the opportunities on offer on their website at: canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer