Canal project is shortlisted for heritage award

Testing the water. Members of the Newry and Portadown Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland assess the depth of the canal at Scarva  with two miles of the waterway now available for small craft.
Testing the water. Members of the Newry and Portadown Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland assess the depth of the canal at Scarva with two miles of the waterway now available for small craft.

IWAI Newry and Portadown has been shortlisted for a Heritage Angel Award in the category Best Rescue, Recording or Interpretation of a Historic Place in the The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society’s Heritage Angel Awards.

IWAI Newry and Portadown volunteers have created a video entitled ‘New Life for the Old Canal’ that celebrates the project to re-water the summit level of the Newry Canal, a four mile stretch of water from Poyntzpass to Scarva.

New lock gates were built and installed by the volunteers to allow canoes and small boats to use the canal. Alongside this the group researched and published a guided walk app highlighting the history of the canal.

They also manage a heritage centre on the towpath with displays to help visitors understand how a canal works and how its restoration could help boost the local economy.

Peter Maxwell the Branch treasurer said: “It’s a huge honour for us to have won through the nomination process and we are looking forward to the decision. It’s a great opportunity for us to spread the word about the canal and what a fantastic asset it is to the community.”

“Our volunteers contribute more than 2,000 hours annually to canal projects.

“Without our input it’s fair to say that the canal, dating from 1742 and the first of its kind in Ireland and the UK would again become a neglected, overgrown ditch as was the case when it was abandoned in 1949.

“Instead, our project on the summit has shown how the canal can be used by many different types of people for recreation and enjoyment.”

You can vote for the project on www.heritageangelawards-ni.org.uk.

Voting closes on Friday October 27th.