A project to restore the entrance to the Trent and Mersey Canal in Middleport opened this weekend, thanks to funding from the council and the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.
The development, which has been over two years in the making, celebrated the milestone this Saturday with an official launch party, attended by local residents as well as VIPs and dignitaries, including BBC Radio Stoke’s Paula White.
Attendees were treated to free fishing sessions, face-painting, play-with-clay and a bouncy castle, as well as an organised walk with ‘Walks for Health’ along the canal to Westport Lake.
Middleport Matters was awarded £10,000 in November 2016 through the supermarket’s Bags of Help initiative and a commemorative plaque donated by Tesco has now been unveiled as a permanent record that the project was chosen and backed by the local community.
The Tesco grant was matched by funding from the council and an additional donation of £3,000 from Middleport Environment Charity. The Royal Horticultural Society also supported the project as part of their Greening Grey Britain campaign.
Tesco works in partnership with Groundwork UK to offer its Bags of Help funding scheme, where the money raised by the sale of carrier bags is being used to fund thousands of local projects in communities right across the UK, all voted on by customers in store.
The restoration looks set to be significant for Middleport as it will represent part of a wider regeneration of the area.
The canal entrance had fallen into disrepair over the years and had suffered extensive damage from vandals. Overgrown and derelict sections first had to be cleared and the crumbling boundary walls were rebuilt in keeping with the heritage look.
Hundreds of Middleport residents, including pupils from local schools, together helped to create an eye-catching mosaic on planters that run along the walls, by designing individual tiles along the theme of “What Middleport means to me”.
The bridge has been freshly painted to remove traces of graffiti and a ‘Secret Garden’ feature means the area is now once more a picturesque heritage site that serves as a reminder of Middleport’s history for the whole community to enjoy.
Amelia Bilson, a spokeswoman for Middleport Matters, is thrilled with the success of the project: “We’d hoped to turn what was a previously rundown and neglected area into a space that everyone can benefit from.
“We want residents and families to take pride in our local area and heritage and this is an important step towards that. The funding from Tesco and the council have meant we have brought out the full potential of this.
Rich Evans, Community Champion at Tesco Kidsgrove, adds: “It’s fantastic to have watched this project develop over time and see it transform into the beautiful space it is today.”
Since launching in 2015, Tesco’s Bags of Help community grant programme has provided over 10,000 community projects with over £43 million of funding.
Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups every time they shop using the blue token given to them at checkouts. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding of between £1,000 and £4,000.
Community groups and charities can apply for funding and Tesco customers and colleagues can nominate projects that they’d like to see receive some cash. Just ask in store for more information or visit the Bags of Help website, www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp.