The Malswick Project is very diverse and represents a great opportunity to restore a significant stretch of canal, needing the help of volunteers with a complete range of skills.
As part of the deal to minimise the cost we are restoring two brick river bridges and building a new one for the landowner, as well as various other works around the farm. In about a year or so, we will then start on actual canal restoration which will include a new swing bridge, Road Lock and about ¾ mile of Canal highly visible alongside the B4215.
Once restored, all of this will be directly accessible from Malswick House. The landholdings adjoin each other, adding to the logic of our focus in this area. This is part of the strategic decision that the Strategic Land Acquisitions Group took several years ago. As part of our new structure we have a Project Working Group focusing on this site led by Paul Henshaw and with Tony Sellwood in support in his wider role.
The team at Malswick is growing and within it there are individual project groups taking on different and varied tasks. They have spent the last month or so planning exactly how we are going to manage the various elements of the project and to put in place operating procedures to ensure we comply with the Health and Safety regulations.
The first stage of the project will be to carry out extensive repairs to two very attractive brick built farm bridges which cross Ell Brook. Over the years they have become somewhat dilapidated and our task is to restore them to their former glory.
We have two teams set up – one for each bridge. The work will involve the removal of vegetation alongside the banks of the brook, carrying out repairs to the foundations and the complete rebuilding of the parapets and wing walls.
The project also involves the construction of a new bridge to carry farm traffic across the brook , the installation of around 650 metres of new boundary fence and hedging and the construction of two new field gateways.
The route of the canal will go through two sections of woodland, which will give us the opportunity to create wildlife corridors alongside the route. We have enlisted the help of the Worcestershire Wildlife Consultancy to carry out a detailed survey before any work commences so that we minimise any disruption to wildlife.
Please note that the site will not be open to the general public until the canal has been formally completed.
Funding land acquisition
Our Malswick site is part of H&GCT’s strategic drive for the future acquisition of land. We are building a land bank to provide five to ten years of volunteer work.
Above all this requires money; see Land Fund Appeal, but also for loans, as liquidity is just as important. The current acquisitions at Newent and Malswick have only been able to happen due to the generous support of our members to the Land Fund, and an anonymous donation some time ago of £100,000 helped to fund Malswick House.
The relevance of this became very apparent when our very public purchase of the pub made several landowners view us very differently and as a serious player. Without the anonymous donation that we used to purchase Malswick House, H&GCT would not be where we are today. So very many thanks to that individual, and those who have made contributions to the Land Fund, without whom we would not own our sites at Malswick and Newent today.