Water-way to explore St Helens borough's proud heritage
St Helens Borough Council's Sport's Development Team has teamed up with St Helens Rotary and St Helens Canoe Club to make a splash on the borough's rich heritage; the birthplace of Britain's first modern canal.
Article date: 8 August 2022
For the first time in more than 100 years, boats were on Sankey Canal - which dates back to 1755 and used to bring coal down to the growing chemical industries of Liverpool - as part of a new canoeing taster session initiative.
The first session was recently held on the canal stretch by the new Torus Foundry Wharf development in the town centre, attended by 40 people - including families - with an interest in taking up water sports.
While plenty of fun was had on the water, work was also carried out on land to maintain the picturesque appearance of the area, with the council's operations staff supporting Rotary volunteers by supplying and collecting bags and litter pickers, as well as providing paint which volunteers used to repaint railings.
Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture, and Heritage, commented:
"As a key asset during the industrial revolution, Sankey Canal is a vital part of the borough's history and heritage - and should be assessable for everyone to enjoy in a safe and controlled manner. So these canoe sessions are a fitting way of making excellent use of this stunning space, while introducing people to new leisure opportunities which promote an active and sociable lifestyle.
"We've big things planned for the future of town centre in terms of regeneration but it's the heritage that has run through it for hundreds of years that we must protect and utilise."
Paul Winstanley President of St Helens Rotary Club said: "It is a pleasure to see families enjoying this historical canal again. To have boats back on the canal for over a century was an historical moment. 245 bin bags of rubbish, three traffic cones and two bikes were removed as part of the Rotary's volunteering commitment to keep this stretch of the canal clean. It was lovely to see those participating also helping to littler pick on the day."
Paul Smee from St Helens Canoe Club added: "My mission in life is to increase participation in the wonderful world of paddle sport. This partnership has helped me to do the paddle magic."
Another session will be taking place in the near future, with anyone interested in attending asked to email GemmaIreland@sthelens.gov.uk