Digbeth Canal Lengthsman

Our readers may have noticed the appearance of two narrow boats along the Grand Union Canal at Minerva Works; after living on narrowboats for over ten years, Alison Tuck and Louise Moore have moved to Digbeth. As well as running Harris Moore Canvases, Louise is a member of the Guild of Waterway Artists specialising in paintings of the Birmingham Canal Network, and Alison runs her business, Da Vinci Crafts from one of the two boats.

Plenty of people use the canal, including cyclists, walkers, and families at the weekends, but Louise and Alison wanted to make the area more welcoming and less threatening. Their presence seems to have reduced the amount of anti-social behaviour, which was becoming an increasing problem, but they haven’t stopped there: Alison has been a Canal and River Trust volunteer and has taken it upon herself to become a guardian of the Digbeth stretch of canal.

Known as lengthsmen, the pair have been using their spare time to collect litter and undertake general gardening and improvements along their length of canal: from the bridge access on Great Barr Street to the Warwick Bar Junction, and the shorter stretch from the start of Ashsted Tunnel to Typhoo Basin.

They are currently working on the seating area by Fazeley Street Bridge where they would like to add wire bins with clear plastic bin bags to help tackle the litter problem. If any readers know of bins that could be donated we would be incredibly grateful. They then hope to move onto seating area opposite the Banana Warehouse, where they’d like to reinstate the notice board and create a pleasant spot to sit and look over the flora and fauna at Edible Eastside.

Future plans include repainting the locks, notice boards and handrails, and extending their lengthsman area up towards Camp Hill locks.

We’ve included some before and after photos to show what has been achieved so far, but Louise and Alison would always welcome any extra helping hands! If you would like to get in touch, please join the Facebook group or email Alision at davincicrafts@gmail.com.

We think the ladies have done an outstanding job and are helping to make Digbeth a much better place to live, work or visit. Long may it continue and who knows, we may soon have more narrowboat neighbours along the canal!

Pamela Pinski

Digbeth and Proud

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