Greening the Regent’s Canal
The Lower Regents Coalition was founded by a small group of individuals who met while doing Thames21’s “Leading a Waterway Cleanup” training. They decided to carry out the spirit of this training in the community and invite others to join in. The Coalition has been running litter picks along East London’s waterways and surrounding green spaces since spring 2013. Over 150 people now follow the Coalition's activities and participate in events. Each event attracts approximately 15-30 people who collect an average of 25 bags of rubbish. Each month sees more and more volunteers of all ages coming out to get stuck in and make a difference!
Earlier this year, with the support of the Canal & River Trust and thanks to a grant from the Tower Hill Trust, the Coalition began an ambitious “greening scheme”, focusing on an area of the Regent’s Canal near the Ragged School Museum. This is potentially a very lovely spot. However, the towpath collects rubbish as there are no dustbins nearby. There are floating planters that have been devoid of plants for years and trap rubbish in the water, and a small reed bed struggles to thrive amidst invasive vegetation. The plan is to remove the planters, clear the invasives, plant ecologically beneficial vegetation and install at least one dustbin.
The project has begun with a series of canal clean-up events, taking advantage of the temporary draining of this section of the waterway. The first event on 6 November was highly successful, clearing about 200 metres from Salmon Lane lock northwards toward Ben Jonson Road and removing four flatbed truckloads of rubbish including lots of large bulk items of all sorts. The event nearly ended with more of a bang than intended, when they recovered a First World War hand grenade! This caused quite a stir, as the bomb squad had to be called and the site shut down. Luckily, this happened toward the end of the day, so it didn't hamper the event too much!
Molly Gadenz of the Lower Regents Coalition says “Our ongoing efforts have made visible improvements by reducing rubbish and improving the health and capacity of the waterways and green spaces where we work. These improvements benefit all those who live near and love the area, whether they are using it for recreation, transportation or relaxation. In addition to the ecological and aesthetic benefits, we believe what we do has captured the interest and raised awareness of a wide cross-section of people and has inspired them to get involved.”
Further clean-ups are planned for the end of November, and there will be lots more volunteering opportunities in the coming months. To find out more, and to register as a volunteer, e-mail the Lower Regent’s Coalition. You can also find out more about the coalition’s work on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
all photos (c) Lower Regents Coalition