On Saturday November 14th and Sunday November 15th the Whaley Bridge Canal Group, in conjunction with the Canal and River Trust will embark on the first of a programme of works that will transform and restore Whaley Bridge’s historic Transhipment Warehouse and bring it back into daily use.
Nev Clarke, founder of the group stated, “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort, not just from the dedicated volunteers who have transferred the basin over the last four years but the determination of a number of key officers within the Trust. The aim is to hold regular events inside and around the building over the next twelve months, from craft fairs, to farmers’ markets, beer festivals and performing arts events.”
The works will also see windows on the ground level repaired, woodwork restored and the crane that hoists the guillotine gate that opens the Shed to canal traffic re-certificated.
Gill Renshaw, Engagement Officer with the Canal and River Trust said, “Wouldn’t it be exciting to see Santa arriving into our very own grotto that is the Transhipment Shed”. This year he will be arriving by barge at the basin On November 27th and the interior of the Transhipment will be cleaned and decorated in his honour.
The Transhipment Shed, or Warehouse opened at the foot of the Peak Forest Canal in 1803, was extended in 1833. For reasons that remain unclear the second storey on the building was removed in 1915 when it was in the hands of the Ministry of Defence and storing gun cotton amongst other things. It is a Grade 2* Listed Building on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register.
Judy Jones, Heritage Officer for the Trust stated, “I’m so excited to see these works being programmed in. This is a wonderful building and it’s so important that we give it the attention and recognise the place in history that it deserves.”
Members of the public are invited to help out, at any time between 10am and 4pm on both days. Gloves and tools will be provided. Donations of snacks and refreshments will be gratefully received as well as any visitors to the building. Especially welcome will be anyone wishing to try out the acoustics either by singing, playing or acting.
The canal group has been operating since 2011 with unofficial litter picks before approaching the Canal & River Trust and formally adopting the canal basin and approximately half a mile of towpath, as the Whaley Bridge Canal Group in 2012.
Since then they have been running sessions, both ad hoc and on the last Sunday of the month, whatever the weather. It has brought people of all ages and from across the community together to litter pick, paint, prune and plant. The group has successfully negotiated funding from the local authority to have trees felled to bring light into the area, new picnic benches installed (made from old lock gates by prisoners) on the previously unused side of the canal and had new bushes supplied from the Woodland Trust planted by local school children. More recently they had a work party repair the road, shifting ten ton of gravel into potholes over a two hour period and a skilled team repainting the bridge over the canal.
Nev Clarke, also Secretary of Whaley Water Weekend, went on to say, “Our aim is to make the basin and the Transhipment the hub of our community and a real destination for tourists and locals alike. We want to give something back.”
They can be contacted on 07920 253075, 01663 735 284 and firstname.lastname@example.org. They can be found on Facebook and have a website under construction at www.whaleybridgecanal.org.uk