THERE are 2,000 miles of inland waterways in Britain, which means there’s much more in the way of surrounding landscape to be cared for too.
British Waterways are responsible for maintaining much of that, but often it’s the water communities who take care of what’s on their doorstep.
The residents of Millroyd Mill in Brighouse are no exception even though their official residence is firmly on land – in a converted mill to be precise.
Ahead of Calderdale and Brighouse’s bid for Yorkshire in Bloom, the residents spent a not-so-lazy Saturday morning adding a splash of colour to the landscape which surrounds them and the nearby stretches of water.
The mill on Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, is bounded by the canal and River Calder on either side.
Look out on any given day and members of the water community will sail by in one of their coloured canal boats into Brighouse Marina, which is a welcoming haven of calm.
A few years ago the Marina was looking a little tired and that’s where the residents of the mill came in. They and two of the town councillors volunteered their time to plant flowers around the marina and generally give it a good tidy up.
Not only that, but last year a huge mass of waste was cleared to make way for an allotment. Resident Richard Armitage has planted a variety of vegetables which both the mill and water community can pick at.
Diane Armitage said: “When we arrived here six years ago the basin looked lovely and all tubs were awash with flowers.
“After a few years this stopped, quite abruptly, and we had two or three years with no tubs planted at all.
“In an attempt to integrate into the community I, together with Clr Joyce Cawthra, thought it would be good to fundraise in the mill to provide and plant plants, thus enhancing the canal basin for the benefit of the community.
“Joyce put me in touch with Brian Mansfield and the rest is history.”
It’s been with the help of Mr Mansfield, Calderdale Council’s area manager for the Lower Valley, that the planting around the waterways has come to life.
On Saturday morning he arrived with a truck load of flowers selected that morning from Calderdale Council’s Mount Heath nursery. The residents and councillors Joyce Cawthra and Howard Blagbrough, then went to work.
Diane added: “The aim is to have a community space which everyone can enjoy, sharing a pleasant area and eating the produce.
“It is used all the time for walks and picnics. Barge people often comment on how improved the area is as they travel along the canal and barge residents share the produce too.
“The allotment is an attempt at a green space which can provide fresh fruit and veg – too many gardens are now tarmac surfaces for cars.”
The planting has also been extended along the canal leading up to the Marina.
And, with the addition of everything from begonias to broccoli, both land and water residents are hoping the judges at Yorkshire In Bloom will see their handiwork and judge it for themselves.
But in the meantime, it’s the wider community who can benefit from their work.