Waterway gem may be small but could soon be perfectly formed

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A STRETCH of Yorkshire canal just nine miles long and described as one of the nation’s most interesting waterways is a step closer to a £500,000 protection project.

Pocklington Canal, which runs for 9.5 miles between Canal Head, near Pocklington, to the River Derwent in East Cottingwith, is seen as a hugely important habitat with virtually the entire length falling within one of three Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

All nine locks and all four road bridges are Grade II listed.

A project to breathe new life into the canal is a step closer after winning initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The aim is to protect important wildlife habitats and repair the 200 year-old Church Bridge.

The canal is a popular location for walkers, bird watchers, anglers and photographers as well as the occasional boater. The canal is important for aquatic plants, birds, waterfowl, and invertebrates – including 13 different species of dragonfly and damselfly.

The Canal and River Trust in partnership with East and North Yorkshire Waterways Partnership, East Riding Council, the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society and Natural England has been awarded development funding of £47,100 to help progress their plans to apply for a full grant of almost £500,000.

Mark Penny, from the Canal and River Trust, said; “This is great news and takes us one step closer to safeguarding what is one of the nation’s most treasured canals. The Pocklington Canal is really special in that no matter where you are on the towpath you’re almost certainly standing in an area of environmental or historical significance.

“That’s why it’s so important that we protect it for future generations and why this funding could be so significant.

“It could not only allow us to carry out important physical works but would also give us the opportunity to engage local people through varied activities and sharing the significance of the canal and gaining their support in protecting it.”

The canal was built in the 19th century to transport coal, lime, fertiliser and industrial goods to Pocklington, and agricultural produce to West Yorkshire. Despite plans in the 1950s to turn it into a dumping ground for chalk sludge, a section from the River Derwent to the Melbourne Arm was restored with the help of the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society.