Tea shops, trains and training

March 2017 - By Peter Underwood

At least once a month we like to pay tribute to the work of the Canal & River Trust's press office and pass on to Floater readers the things the Trust would like you to know.

Some good news from the Caldon

A former canal wharf at Froghall Basin on the Caldon Canal in Staffordshire is being brought back to life, thanks to Café owner Emma Atkinson, who saw the potential of converting the attractive heritage building into a café and gift shop, with holiday accommodation for rent upstairs.

She has also arranged for a new trip boat to operate from the wharf, making the whole area into an attractive visitor destination.

It’s a real family affair - Emma has named the café after her 92-year-old grandmother Hetty and her mother will be running the gift shop.

Emma explained: “My nan Hetty is my recipe for success so I have named the tea shop after her. I found out we had secured the lease about 15 months ago and since then we have worked hard with the Trust, architects and surveyors to get the building ready to be open in time for Easter this year.

“My vision was to be sympathetic to the original building but at the same time incorporate stylish, modern furniture to give the interior a warm, cosy feeling for visitors.

“Froghall Wharf was once a thriving hive of industry. You can still see evidence of the lime kilns and a railway track. I have long admired the place and it is wonderful to be instrumental in making it into a buzzing tourist destination.”

The new business opens at Easter and Hetty’s Tea Shop is due to be open six days a week, Tuesday – Sunday, and the trip boat will operate on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Fast trains and slow canals.

The Canal & River Trust says it has responded to the Government’s consultation on the next phase of the HS2 high speed rail line, and set out a series of measures to protect the nation’s historic waterways.

It has highlighted the key issues that could have a serious and adverse effect on parts of the canal network in the Midlands and Northern England and set out a series of suggestions which will help to mitigate the effects of Phase 2B on the canal network and safeguard ongoing canal restoration projects.

Phase 2B will involve construction of a western line linking Crewe and Manchester and an eastern leg connecting Curdworth in Birmingham to Leeds. The lines will interact with the canal network at a number of locations and in its response the Trust has detailed the specific areas which could be most affected.

In particular the Trust has raised serious concerns over plans for a rolling stock depot near Crewe which would see a 100m wide four-track crossing over the popular Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. The response also sets out concerns regarding three crossings within a three kilometre length of the Trent & Mersey Canal near Northwich, a proposed diversion of the Erewash Canal and potential impacts on the restoration of the Ashby Canal and Chesterfield Canal.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust and a former railway boss, said; “We have outlined very clearly our concerns about the potential impact of Phase 2B on parts of the canal network in the North and the Midlands.

“These routes interact with popular sections of canal and important restoration efforts, which will bring invaluable social and economic benefits to communities, so we strongly believe that the proposals need to be looked at in more detail.

“In partnership with our friends at the Inland Waterways Association and canal societies in affected areas we’ve worked well with HS2 Ltd throughout the project.”

The Trust’s response can be viewed at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/the-hs2-rail-network-and-our-waterways/publications-and-consultation-responses

C&RT pats itself on the back

C&RT has been trying to improve the way its staff deal with the public. It has called in Visit England and Welcome to Excellence, to train a total of 73 North West Waterways staff, from engineers and office administrators to seasonal lock keepers and operations staff, leading to qualifications in ‘Exceeding Visitor Expectations’ and City and Guilds Level 2 – Principles of Customer Service in Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism.

Thne Trust claims the training has already had a dramatic effect on staff performance and says the number of complimentary emails and thank you notes from boaters and visitors has risen dramatically and 'customer appreciation is at an all-time high'.

Chantelle Seaborn, North West Waterway manager said: “We have been overwhelmed with the hundreds of thank you notes praising the performance of our staff who go out of their way to give visitors a brilliant experience when they come to the Lancaster and Leeds & Liverpool canals.”

Canal & River Trust chief executive Richard Parry presented staff with their certificates at a special ceremony in Wigan to mark their achievements.

Photos: (1st) Emma with the C&RT business team, (2nd) Emma with a cuppa, (3rd) Inside the teashop, (4th) Richard Parry, second from left in second row, and NW Waterways Manager Chantelle Seaborn, front row left, with the welcoming NW C&RT staff.

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