19th December  2014

Press Release from the IWA

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant of £15,000 to the Chesterfield Canal Trust, to help fund the restoration of narrowboat Python.

The grant has come from the Ayling Bequest. (Keith Ayling is a former Chair of the Chesterfield Canal Trust. He died in 2010.)

Major works are needed to preserve the integrity of the historic narrowboat, owned by Chesterfield Canal Trust, which cannot operate in its current condition. Python is used by the Trust as a publicity vehicle to promote the work of the Trust – the volunteer crew engages with members of the public and boat owners at canalside events. It is also used to help maintain the Chesterfield Canal – volunteers have used the boat to help clear offside vegetation. Further volunteer activities were planned but have been postponed until the necessary works could be carried out.

To fund these works, the Chesterfield Canal Trust applied for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014; the Trust also hoped to use any money awarded to equip the boat with interpretation materials about its history. Despite support from many, including the IWA and the Canal & River Trust, the application was unsuccessful and the project stalled, with Python remaining out of service.

However, this is unlikely to remain the case as the IWA Finance Committee has deemed the Trust’s project to be of significance in engaging the public with the waterways, so has agreed to make a grant from the Keith Ayling Bequest to help fund the work. A total of £15,000 will be given to Chesterfield Canal Trust to fund the essential work on Python.

Gordon Harrower, Chair of IWA’s Finance Committee, said “IWA is pleased to be able to support the restoration of Python, and the Finance Committee believes that this is a fitting use of the Ayling Bequest. Keith was passionate about the Chesterfield Canal and Python was the last project in which he was involved. This project will help to continue the great work of the Trust and Python, which engages the wider public with, and enables everyone to enjoy, our waterways.”

Robin Stonebridge, Chair of Chesterfield Canal Trust, said “Keith Ayling would be thrilled that Python is being given a new lease of life to promote the canal he loved and to attract more people to the pleasure of using our waterways. Hundreds of people have taken Python to their hearts over the last few years, and she has been sorely missed at events over the last year. The support from IWA is a tremendous boost to getting her up and running again, and we intend to keep her busy for many years to come. The crew, which has spent so much time restoring Python, is eager to ensure that she is up and running in 2015.”

The Trust is currently developing a plan for the restoration and preservation of Python to ensure her long-term future is secured. This will enable Python and Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteers to continue to engage with the public and contribute to the maintenance of the Chesterfield Canal.  The Trust also hopes to include interpretation of Python’s history and the development of ways to share this with the public in the project.

Keith Ayling, second right with beard, meets Python upon its first arrival on the Chesterfield Canal in September 2009.