Volunteers at Peak Forest Canal are reviving a centuries-old tree-planting tradition that was started by the man who built Marple, Samuel Oldknow.

Volunteers for the charity Canals and Rivers Trust are branching out from their recent tasks of painting lock gates and grouting wash walls to reinstate some black walnut trees. A number of specimens were planted by Oldknow around 1790 believed to be part of his efforts to mitigate the environmental impact of the industry he was building in the area, but only one now survives.

As part of the work  local volunteers are being tasked with the job of planting a new specimen and taking cuttings from the 228-year-old tree, at Mellor Mill to be nurtured and re-planted.

Stuart Moodie, ecologist at the Trust, said: “By planting this black walnut tree we are adding to the wildlife value of this wonderful area, and at the same time creating a link to the past and the pioneering work of Samuel Oldknow. The story goes that he had the foresight to see that even through rapid industrial development there was scope to improve the environment.

“As a charity, Canal & River Trust is keen to continue that work, using seed from the original trees to grow new trees which will be planted in the area, improving the environment for wildlife and also for local people and visitors.”

Various projects have taken place along the Marple lock flight and aqueduct in the past year thanks to £1.7m funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The stretch of canal has also been recognised with a Heritage Green Flag Award.


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