Canal Restoration at Aylestone Park, Hereford

Canal restoration by the Trust in Hereford began in earnest in August 2002 following the acquisition of the Aylestone Park site by Herefordshire Council, and the formation of a partnership between the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust, Herefordshire Council and The Aylestone Park Association.

The plan was to develop the site to provide much needed sports and recreational facilities, and to restore the quarter mile section of the canal running along the northern boundary of the park.

Aylestone Park – The Early Years

The Trust’s initial intention was to clear the line of the canal of 100 years of rubbish and undergrowth, and to open up the towpath as part of the new facilities offered by the park. Trust volunteers, supported by the Waterways Recovery Group managed much work to clear the towpath at this time..

Plans for the WRG to dredge the canal channel, during Easter 2004 had to be suspended following the discovery of heavy metals contamination of the silt.

The inevitable delays that followed did not mean that restoration work stopped, and the WRG were back October 2004 to construct new paths extending to 330m along the canal towards the Aylestone Tunnel portal.

During this period some eighteen Waterways Recovery Group volunteers on each of the work camps stayed at Yarkhill Village Hall and made considerable progress on a new slipway and additional jobs of building a network of footpaths and cycleways around the Park, planting trees and installing four picnic benches.However, the WRG were able to divert their resources to assist in constructing 2.5km of pathways and erecting fencing around the park boundary.

Trust volunteers continued to support the other community groups during 2005, with more fencing, path laying, vegetation clearance, and construction of a secure works compound on the site, and the WRG returned again in July 2005 to provide essential training on the use of mechanical plant planned to be used later in the project.

Subsequent Developments

Since then a significant project to remove contaminated silt from the canal channel has been completed, Trust volunteers have constructed a boat launching slipway, and contractors engaged by the Trust have completed work to create a new overflow weir.

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