After three years hard work by volunteers, Wolverhampton’s acclaimed “Green Lung” alongside the canal path and old railway walk from Wolverhampton to Wombourne, is getting improved disabled access.
The all-access ramp will be opened by the Wolverhampton’s Mayor, Councillor Bert Turner and Mayoress Mrs Turner, on 24th March.
It represents three years of work by volunteers from the Wightwick and Regis Enterprise Network (WREN).
The ramp was built to improve access to the towpath of the Staffs-Worcester canal at Hordern Road.
It has replaced a set of dangerously worn wooden steps.
The ramp is compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and provides a skid-proof surface falling through two landing stages to the towpath so that people in wheelchairs, children in buggies, and cyclists can reach the canal at this point easily and safely.
“The improved access should increase the number of visitors to this stretch of canal for exercise and enjoyment”, says John Rowley of WREN.
“It will also encourage people to use a traffic-free alternative to the congested Aldersley Road.”
The Ramp is the eye-catching part of a Project which the original four volunteers from the Wightwick and Regis Enterprise Network began in 2009. They raised £90,000 from the National Lottery and the Veolia Environmental Trust with a view to making a visit to the Staffs-Worcester canal a pleasurable experience.
In addition to the Ramp, benches, bins and Interpretation Panels are being installed.
To enable their plans to go ahead they decided to build it themselves.
They invited tenders and employed James Wilkes Ltd, a local firm, to construct the ramp. And were supported by John Harris, Senior Regeneration Officer for British Waterways (West Midlands) and by Debbie Davies and Mark Game of the WCC Parks department.
Guidance and encouragement along the way has been freely given by staff from Community Spaces and from the Veolia Environmental Trust.
It is to be hoped that this Project will provide a platform for future plans to protect the natural environment and to encourage more people to benefit from the beauty of the green space that is formed by the canal and the Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve. Green spaces have a clear economic benefit; they provide rest and recuperation for tired bodies and minds.
The WREN volunteers John Rowley, Les Bouts, Roy France and George Reiss are to be thanked for having given between them more than twelve hundred volunteer-hours to bring this ambitious plan towards a successful conclusion.
Information supplied by John Rowley of WREN