Posted on 16/09/2019
If you ever take a stroll along the towpath or a jaunt on a trip boat, there’s a fair chance you have a local canal society to thank for it. These dedicated groups work alongside the Canal & River Trust to protect and improve canals. The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society (PCAS) is a perfect example of the trajectory experienced by many such groups, which were often founded in the post-war era as canals faced eradication. The PCAS was formed in desperation in 1969 and now, having successfully restored much of their local canal, their objective is to make it even better.
The society was formed by local residents a decade after the Inland Waterways Association had campaigned to save the tiny but beautiful Pocklington Canal from destruction. Although the canal was no longer going to be filled with “inoffensive sludge” as had been proposed in 1959, it had still declined so much it was practically unusable. Volunteers were recruited and set to work, clearing first the towpath and then the canal itself, while also raising funds for dredging and the restoration of essential locks, banks and bridges. It’s been a slow but steady journey and over the following decades the canal has slowly returned to life; it is now navigable by boat for around half its length.
As guardians of the canal, the society strives to protect the plentiful wildlife that populates this pretty, isolated canal, which contains nature reserves and three Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The society runs a trip boat, New Horizons, and has an information centre at the Canal Head that is open on Sundays and Bank Holidays during the summer from noon, selling snacks, maps and guidebooks to ramblers. Occasional events are held, including bat walks and barbecues, while members receive the society magazine, Double Nine, which takes its name from the fact that there are nine locks along the nine miles of canal.