PLANS to restore the Ashby Canal and reconnect it to both Moira and Measham have received a welcome boost following a donation from a leading support group.
The Ashby Canal Association, which has been voicing its concern of the canal’s deterioration since 1966, have presented members of Leicestershire County Council with a cheque for £20,000, which will go towards reconnecting the eight-mile stretch between Snarestone and Measham.
To mark the occasion, a pair of historic narrowboats loaded with coal left for destinations around the canal network.
The overall aim of the project, which is being led by the county council, is to reconnect the canal from Snarestone to the heart of the National Forest in Moira.
Plans were first put in place for the restoration of the canal in October 2005, when the necessary land was acquired by Leicestershire County Council and planning permission was granted.
It is hoped that the restoration will lead to an influx of tourists and narrowboat enthusiasts visiting the area.
The canal continues to host the annual Moira Canal Festival each May. Should the plan to connect the existing waterway to Measham succeed, then plans are in place to extend it even further north to Donisthorpe.
Furthermore, members of the Ashby Canal Association say that the reconnection will bring more jobs to the area, as well as providing a recreational, cultural and social resource for the local community.
Councillor Pam Posnett, cabinet member for environmental matters at Leicestershire County Council, said: “We are delighted to receive this money from Ashby Canal Association. When combined with the existing funding, this will enable this ambitious project to take a significant step forward. This money will enable us and our partners to further extend the canal from Snarestone towards Measham.”