Northampton south MP boats into town to launch five-mile mosaic trail across canal

Andrew Lewer MP unveils plaque.
Andrew Lewer MP unveils plaque.

The Northampton south MP helped to lay the first mosaic plaque along the Grand Union Canal, which will form part of a five-mile mosaic nature trail in the town.

Andrew Lewer joined forces with the Canal & River Trust for a narrowboat trip of the Grand Union Canal to see how the charity is working with the community, in a bid to transform the Northampton arm.

Volunteers and organisers with Andrew Lewer MP at the Northampton arm of the canal, pictured August 29.

Volunteers and organisers with Andrew Lewer MP at the Northampton arm of the canal, pictured August 29.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Northampton arm in 2015, a mural was created at Gayton Junction, where it joins the Grand Union Canal and a mosaic bench at Lock 17 where the canal meets the River Nene.

Sandie Morton, IWA Northampton branch secretary thought of linking the two together. She said: "I wanted to encourage more people of all ages to walk and cycle the arm. So I came up with the idea of a nature trail with mosaic plaques at each lock.

"Local children from Briar Hill and Delapre Primary Schools created the beautiful designs and manufactured them under the guidance of mosaic artist, David Bowers from Mosaic Madness.’’

In total 17 mosaics will be laid - one at each of the locks along that stretch of canal.

For the past four years, the trust has worked closely with the Northampton branch of the Inland Waterways Association, which has adopted the arm, clocking up over 5,000 volunteer hours, which include task parties to tackle vegetation clearance, weeding, and maintaining locks.

Canal & River Trust’s waterway manager, Vicky Martin said: “The Northampton arm is a canal in bloom. It is really wonderful to see the canal bringing the community together and the community, in turn, helping us to transform the waterway.’’

At the helm of the boat, Andrew Lewer MP also learnt how the trust is working with other parts of the community, including Upton Scouts, who have adopted a short stretch of the canal around lock 17 and tourism students from the University of Northampton, who have adopted a stretch of canal at Cosgrove.

The project is being funded by IWA Northampton Branch through a legacy left by long-standing member, John Faulkner.