Canal project proves a cast iron success

Repairs being made to the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge. Pictured are Jon Stopp, Ruth Hair and Anne Holdsworth.
Repairs being made to the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge. Pictured are Jon Stopp, Ruth Hair and Anne Holdsworth.

A £1m project designed to improve the Calderdale section of the Rochdale Canal will be celebrated in Mytholmroyd this weekend.

The Reet Royd Do will see the unveiling of a cast iron hawk by sculptor Kenny Hunter and inspired by Mytholmroyd-born poet Ted Hughes.

The cast iron hawk by sculptor Kenny Hunter

The cast iron hawk by sculptor Kenny Hunter

The artwork has taken pride of place at Hawksclough and will be one of the attractions on the day, along with live birds of prey, poetry, music, market stalls and food.

The community will also officially open the improvements to the towpath between Redacre and Burnley Road.

The Canal Connections programme has seen numerous individual improvement projects along the canal in Calderdale

The scheme has involved Pennine Prospects, Calderdale Council and the Canal and River Trust joining forces to manage work ranging from laying new surfaces on towpaths to commissioning new art installations.

Ruth Hair, from the South Pennines Leader Programme, said: “We have contributed to a large scale programme over the last four years with over £1m invested in a wide variety of projects by all the partners involved.

“The tow path improvements have taken place at Littleborough, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Luddenden Foot.

“The community has told us they want the tow paths to be more accessible for everybody, from people walking or cycling to work to dog walkers.

“There will also be lots on information along the canal to make people aware of what the canal is about in terms of its history.

“We’ve had lots of help from the Canal Steering Group, and other volunteers who have helped and guided us along. We’ve also worked closely with local town teams such as Todmorden Pride.

“There are a number of new artworks alongside the canal now, such as a cast iron ribbon near Warland which has information on it about the canal’s history..

“There is a watershed sculpture with a poem on it written by Andrew McMillan, at the Canal’s highest point at Summit.

“There is a cast iron globe with an information panel about the the canal’s historic trade routes in Todmorden

Two further exciting installations are due to go in at Hebden Bridge and Luddendenfoot in the next couple of months.

Anne Holdsworth, from Calderdale Council, said: “I think we need to spread the word about the canal and what it can offer people.

“We want to promote the area as somewhere that’s enticing and attractive and support our local economy encourage people to spend money in the town.”

Jon Stopp from the Canal and Rivers Trust said: “We’re trying to change people’s perceptions of the canal. 12 months ago people would see it as slightly run down and desolate with litter and dog muck.

“But it’s now improved dramatically because of this work.”

The Reet Royd Do takes place on Sunday between 12 noon and 4pm

There will also be a Woodland Water and Walk event on Saturday at Hebden Bridge between 10am and 4pm offering traditional woodland crafts and activities, while there will also be a wildlife walk through Hebden Bridge and a barbeque.

For details, call 01422 843831.