The Trust was formed in 1968 to fight the proposed closure of navigation on this historic river that was first granted by an Act of 1705.
A public right of navigation remains today and is administered by the Environment Agency. However, many of the locks have disappeared and through navigation from Brundon Mill, upstream of Sudbury in Suffolk, to the sea at Brantham in Essex (a distance of approximately 25 miles) is only achievable by lighter craft such as canoes and kayaks. This year, we very much look forward to celebrating the culmination of many years of effort from many volunteers when we formally open Stratford St Mary Lock, .
And that completes the two principal reasons why the River Stour Trust was founded 50 years ago. To maintain the right of navigation, and to restore the three Constable Locks (at Stratford, Dedham, and Flatford). (Yes, I know the gates at Dedham need repair, again, but we hope to see that done soon.)
And we, the Trust, have done so much more – including the restoration of Flatford Barge Dock (in association with the National Trust), Gasworks Cut, the Quay Basin and The Granary at Sudbury, had a brand new lock built at Great Cornard (the first new lock for over 200 years!), built our Visitor Education Centre adjacent to the lock to enable visitors to learn about the history of the River Stour Navigation, its importance in Britain’s industrial and cultural heritage and the Trust’s own role in promoting use of this historic waterway. We rescued an original Stour Lighter which has been fully restored (under the Managing a Masterpiece scheme) and is now in use on the River Stour as one of our trip boats and a ‘floating classroom’ to be enjoyed by future generations. We took over the freehold of Cattawade Picnic site to ensure a vital river access point was retained. We have also acquired the equipment and training to undertake weedcutting on the river to collect and remove weed that would otherwise restrict river users.
These are just some of our achievements BUT we cannot relax – we want the navigation to be there for the enjoyment of all for at least another 50 years.
So I challenge you – yes YOU! Can you help our largely volunteer effort? Could you recruit a new member to the Trust? Or could you give us a few hours or days of effort? Some of the volunteer effort is outside – we could do with another qualified chain saw operator for example. But we also have needs that can be accomplished from home, or in the warm at the VEC or Granary. We need organisers, writers, and publicists, amongst other roles.
Please write to me, firstname.lastname@example.org or at the VEC, to offer your way of volunteering for the continued well-being of our glorious navigation. I look forward to hearing from you, and meeting many of you in this year of celebration.
Trustee & Chairman of RST Council