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10 Feb 2012
The team at work on the cut
When teams of previously unemployed young people began
working on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath in Bamfurlong,
south of Platt Bridge, last March, little did they realise what
their efforts would achieve.
Their initiative has won praise from high places, an extension
to the original contract, and now has won a Wigan Urban
The trainees had been employed under a Future Jobs Fund
initiative run by Groundwork in partnership with British Waterways.
They were working to a £292,000 contract from Wigan Council.
Previously, there was 4km of muddy and sometimes impassable
towpath on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Bamfurlong and
the new Bickershaw South Marina on Plank Lane. Their task was to
transform this into a new route for walkers, cyclists and horse
56 local young people took part. Supervisors provided skills for
the immediate contract and training courses to help their search
for full time jobs.
The project won praise from all of the partners involved, and a
new £117,000 contract was awarded to extend the work from
Bickershaw Marina to Atherleigh Way.
British Waterways Chairman Prof. Steven Broomhead said:
“It’s a win-win scheme - the
participants have had valuable experience and their efforts have
really benefitted the local waterway and community. With our move
to charity status in April 2012 we’re encouraging more people to
get involved with their local waterway by
The towpath is used for commuting and leisure activities by
residents and visitors alike for accessibility is crucial. The team
carried out construction as sustainably as possible by using
recycled materials for paths and seating. Seating benches along the
path were previously canal stop lock timbers.
Groundwork’s Executive Director Andy Darron says: “A partnership that delivers a mix of employment
support and local physical improvements, plus opportunities for
accessing exercise and greenspace is brilliant, it’s what we’re all
about. This project is all of those things and a driver for
economic development too”.
The project has been a stepping stone towards employment for the
For Dylan Barnes from Marsh Green the practical experience and
training led to him winning a job on the 2012 Olympics site in
For Tim Lyon from Aspul, work experience with our Landscape
Design team as part of the project helped open the door to his
chosen career as a CAD technician – he's now working full time.
Trainee Scott Fairburn from Leigh says: "I've done it all - digger training, Health &
Safety, PPE and got my CSCS card. Best job I've ever had, been a
great team. I've loved it "
View Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath work in a larger map