A CAMPAIGN group has vowed to restore a neglected stretch of Barnsley Canal back to its former glory having enlisted the help of a local MP.
The Facebook group, Barnsley Old Canal, was created by resident James Crampton, from Redbrook, during the first national lockdown in a bid to find like-minded people who wanted to share their stories of the 16-mile-long canal and its history.
In a matter of months, the group amassed more than 450 members, all with a keen interest in maintaining the heritage of the canal.
Now James, 43, and the rest of the group have started a campaign to get a stretch of the canal - from Barugh Green to Smithies - back in use for the public after being stagnant for years.
What was once an example of local engineering and a popular beauty spot, James believes it has now become an eyesore, and Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis is onboard with the plan.
He told the Chronicle: “I’ve always had an interest in the Barnsley Canal, so during the first lockdown I created the group to share my interest.
“There are loads of people who would love to see it back in use but in reality, we all know that it would take a lot of time.
“Instead, we thought that the towpath on the canal between Barugh Green and Smithies should be redeveloped, so it can be used by cyclists and people with prams.
“I’m sure if it was done correctly, more people would use it and it would make that stretch more accessible for pedestrians travelling between Barugh Green and Smithies.
“With a push this year on exercising and cycling to work, this could become something very valuable to the people of Barnsley.”
The group have been reaching out to local councillors and MPs in the hope that the work will go ahead.
“It’s a shame to see the canal in such a sad state - it has been blocked by debris and almost forgotten about,” James said.
“I walk past it nearly every day and I’m reminded of the canal’s history, heritage and wasted potential.
“In Royston, the towpath is in a relatively good condition and is really appreciated - but the same can’t be said for the rest of the borough.
“I believe the work this would take to reinstall the towpath between Barugh Green and Smithies would far outweigh the costs.
“We’ve written a formal letter to our local MP Dan Jarvis in the hope he can help us with our campaign and move it forward.
“This would be a great thing for the area.”
Dan added: “It is great to see James and the Barnsley Old Canal group working to bring the towpath back to life.
“The canal networks in and around Barnsley were essential arteries to keep the pits and glassworks going and make up an important part of our shared heritage.
“I’ll do whatever I can to support their campaign.
“These troubling times have shown us all just how important it is to get outdoors, and I am working hard with others across Barnsley to ensure the beautiful surroundings we are blessed with are accessible to all.”
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Group work towards restoring Barnsley Canal stretch
Author: Emma Shepherd
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