Registered Charity No. 702429

DIRECTORS' REPORT - A.G.M. 2006

After the consolidation and steady progress achieved in 2004, 2005 was a rollercoaster year of highs and lows. Directors were kept busy with a number of land negotiations, progress of the suite of consultants’ reports and an agreed route for the Hatherton Canal, protection of the line of the Lichfield Canal in the Local Development Framework, negotiations to obtain a long-term lease for work at Tamworth Road and the uncertain implications of the Lichfield Southern Bypass. Practical restoration work continued throughout the year, mainly concentrating on the Tamworth Road site.

In February Chris Pattison resigned as Minutes Secretary after two years service and the job was taken over by the Company Secretary Sue Williams. At the Annual General Meeting David Moore was elected as a director, having been co-opted during the year, and subsequently took over the position of Marketing Director and Chairman of our Retail Trading Company. Mike Brown stood down as a Director, but still remains a valuable member of the Marketing Group. Sadly, Jan Horton our Lichfield Publicity Officer resigned in September and our press coverage has certainly suffered as a result. We are still seeking a replacement but she was a hard act to follow.

Physical restoration work by Trust work party volunteers continued on almost every weekend in 2005, assisted by 8 weekend visits from Waterway Recovery Group and the Dig Deep groups, by a one week Canal Camp in August, and by several teams from a ‘Corporate Citizenship’ volunteer group at Land Rover. A total of over 1,000 man days work was recorded which enabled significant progress to be made. On the main Lichfield Canal site at Tamworth Road rebuilding work continued on all 3 locks including completion of a quadrant on Lock 25 and reconstruction of the bottom wing walls at Lock 24. The towpath wall through the garden was excavated and a substantial length rebuilt, and the ‘triangle’ area at Lock 25 was landscaped, helped by the acquisition of a JCB804 excavator. A cache of lock coping stones were recovered, further sections of hedge were laid, trees removed and a new hedge and trees planted. At Fosseway Lane site fencing was repaired and undergrowth cleared, whilst at Darnford Lane site a section of towpath has been reinstated. On the Hatherton Canal overhanging trees and invasive plants have been cleared, reinstatement of the towpath near Oak Lane was begun, and the towpath and hedges were regularly maintained. Peter Magee continues to keep our plant and machinery in good working order.

Environmentally, 2005 was a year of modest progress, with restraints on significant environmental development still imposed by the requirement for substantial engineering work moving volumes of soil and restricting planting opportunities. Award winning work completed in previous years in the Darnford Lane lift bridge area is reaping rewards and will hopefully be an attraction for the enjoyment of boaters in future years. In time we will see the full development of a bluebell coppice to match that at Hopwas Hays.

This report would not be appropriate without an acknowledgement of the sterling effort put in to the hedge and towpath recovery by Dave Simkins, who sadly passed away in January 2006. The value of the work completed by him to recover the hedgerows woefully neglected for the past fifty years will benefit all users of the restored canal for many years into the future.

There is always plenty of work to do so if you are a keen gardener with some time to devote to a ”very long but narrow plot”, please see Mike Battisson when the AGM business is concluded.

The Marketing Team attended some 22 events ranging from three hours at Drayton Manor Park with the Staffordshire Tourist Board to nine days spent at the NEC, exhibiting at the Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Leisure Show. This means on average we were out with displays every other weekend throughout the year. Rough calculations equate this to 38 days and about 225 man days for the team, excluding planning, committee work, setting up, breakdown and travel. For a small team this represents a tremendous effort and we are deeply grateful to all of them for their dedication to the cause.

This resulted in the Marketing Group being able to contribute £11,000 to the Trust’s funds; slightly less than 2004 but that year we had the benefit of the IWA National on our doorstep. In addition, our presence at the shows resulted in 58 new members joining the Trust.

Most of the activities were repeats of previous years but new events included an evening of Pigeon Racing, a Black Country evening, an autumn fair at Lichfield Guildhall, attendance at Whittington Country Fair and an excellent May Day boat rally and barbecue in association with the Lichfield Cruising Club at Huddlesford Junction.

Our website has been regularly updated and was given a favourable review in the June edition of “Canal and Riverboat” magazine. Bob Williams continued to give PowerPoint presentations to a wide variety of local groups. Our membership increased steadily throughout the year and we even offer membership to your furry friends in our new Teddy Bears Club.

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