Northampton canal’s newest bench a work of art

The new mosiac bench
The new mosiac bench

Volunteers who have worked tirelessly to improve a canal now have somewhere they can relax and put up their feet.

The Inland Waterways Association’s (IWA) Northampton Branch unveiled a colourful mosaic-decorated commemorative bench seat where the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal joins the River Nene.

Located at Lock 17 at Far Cotton in Northampton, the highly decorated bench marks the 200th anniversary of the opening of the 4 3/4 mile-long 17-strong flight of locks.

The decoration covering the seat was undertaken by Bristol-based mosaic artist David Bowers working to an original design idea by IWA Northampton Branch committee member Sam Line.

It includes a crane unloading a narrowboat as well as canal-style roses with a commemorative plaque attached to the seat, similar to a mosaic commemorative mural at the other end of the Arm at Gayton Junction unveiled last year.

Northampton Mayor, Councillor Penny Flavell praised members of IWA Northampton Branch’s Adoption Group, led by Geoff Wood and Mick Butler, who volunteer their time mowing, strimming, weeding and litter-picking as well as painting balance beams and other lock and canal features to provide a welcoming environment, particularly at Lock 17 – the gateway lock between canal and river.

The Canal & River Trust gave their full backing to the project. Bellway financed the mosaic workshop and also provided final environmental touches, especially by landscaping an area around an old timber yard crane saved from total destruction by Northampton Branch.

Ben Smith, Sales Director of Bellway East Midlands, property developers alongside the canal, said: “I am so pleased that Bellway has been able to contribute financially to such an inspiring community project.”

He added: “Thanks to the volunteers, the area has been brought back to life. I remember how overgrown it all was - now we have a great view which before was something of an eyesore. Everywhere is so opened up.”