Bid to restore town canal to former glory

Ron Francis hopes the section of canal near Schofield Road and Springfield Way in Oakham can be cleared and improved for wildlife and the estate residents''Photo: SM280911-022js
Ron Francis hopes the section of canal near Schofield Road and Springfield Way in Oakham can be cleared and improved for wildlife and the estate residents''Photo: SM280911-022js
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TOWN groups are joining forces to try and restore a town canal.

Oakham Canal ran from the town centre to Ashwell but has been long forgotten with the demise of the waterways and is now a fraction of the size.

The banks are overgrown, the water is full of silt and walkways are dark and uninviting.

But, Melton and Oakham Waterways Society has teamed up with Rutland County Council and Oakham in Bloom and is determined to restore it, starting with the stretch of canal that runs behind Springfield Way.

Rutland County Council is going to carry out tests on the water to find out how much silt is in the water.

If there’s not too much silt it can be removed and scattered on fields. If the silt level is too high it is considered to be toxic and is more complicated to remove.

Ron Francis, of Melton and Oakham Waterways Society, was born in the town and now lives in Melton.

He said: “My vision would be to see the whole canal clear and a footpath all the way to Ashwell. It would be a lovely walk.

“At the moment we are holding fire until the council tests the water.

“We have already had ducks and swans on there so we know wildlife will use it.

“The far bank will be left as nature intended and the near bank would be planted with flowers.”

The planting work would come down to Oakham in Bloom which is also keen to get the waterway up and running.

Vice-chairman Derek Bilby, of Harborough Close, Whissendine, said: “Not many people realise there is a canal in Oakham.

“This stretch is the last remaining bit of canal in the town and if it goes then it will be gone forever.

“It is a very exciting project and, depending on the outcome of the water tests, could take up to two years to complete.”