3rd Mar, 2021

Bold new bid to rescue heritage and boost tourism launched

Rob George 5th Feb, 2021

A BID to rescue Evesham’s iconic former lock-keeper’s house to boost tourism and create a new riverside Volunteer Activity Centre in the heart of the town has been unveiled.

Avon Navigation Trust’s (ANT) chiefs innovative plan will include the launch of a new ANT youth squad and aims to bring boat hire back to the park.

It will also provide an outdoor education area and nature trail on the wildlife haven lock island, plus deliver paddlesport tuition and boat handling courses for all ages.

Evesham Town Council has already endorsed the proposed Evesham Lock House Volunteer Activity Centre scheme with a nomination for funding from Wychavon District Council’s Community Legacy Grant scheme, fuelled by the New Homes Bonus payments.

“We will be in competition with other projects across Wychavon and the more feedback we get from the public, the greater our case will be,” said Coun Sue Amor, Mayor of Evesham.

“The scheme ticks a lot of the items on the Town Plan wish list: making more use of our river; providing health and wellbeing benefits for all ages and improving the local economy by attracting visitors, as well as protecting a landmark building.”

Coun Mark Goodge, chairman of the Town Council’s New Homes Bonus Working Group, has called on Vale residents people to have their say.

The Town Council will also distribute feedback leaflets at appropriate drop off points.

“Everyone on the panel agreed this project, one of the best to come through the system since I started, has real potential to make a big difference,” the former Mayor of Evesham said.

“My kids are already excited about being able to hire small boats and paddleboards on summer days.”

Wyre Piddle-based charity ANT, working in partnership with Stand Up Paddleboarding experts Bonkers Activities, has already turned the historic workboat Neptune into a unique mobile volunteering activity and teaching centre.

The 60-year-old vessel will be based at the island, where work is due to start this winter if the grant is approved.

“Wychavon will make a long-term dream happen with this amazing legacy funding,” said the trust’s Recreation Project Development Manager and Bonkers Activities co-owner, Alex Mellor.

The project will protect the famous landmark A-shaped former lock-keeper’s cottage on stilts, which is celebrated as a waterways’ icon.

Constructed in 1972 for £8,000, it was damaged and rendered unusable by two floods.

“Renovating and repurposing the house as our centre for adult volunteering and the ANT youth squad will open up wide opportunities for people to learn new skills and make a big difference,” said ANT Chief Executive Clive Matthews.

“Using it as the Evesham base for paddlesports and small boat activity will also gift a new generation with the chance to enjoy the river and become involved with looking after our lovely waterway.

“To help make this vision a reality and add this great facility to the town, please visit the website and complete the short survey questions.”

Visit https://eveshamlock.uk for more.

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