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21/09/2016
Dudley canal trust win living waterways award

Dudley Canal Tunnel and Limestone Mines are celebrating a big win as they beat the competition from around the country to take home Canal and River Trust’s Living Waterways Award in the Recreation and Tourism category.

The Trust collected the award in person at Canal and River Trust’s awards evening at Birmingham Town Hall on 14th September.

"We are delighted to have won the award,” says Nick Morris, Chief Executive of Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust. "It is a real testament to the tremendous amount of hard work by Dudley Canal Trust staff and volunteers to provide access to this remarkable historic site.”

Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust has championed the restoration, maintenance and enjoyment of the spectacular underground labyrinth of limestone mines and canal tunnels under Dudley for 55 years. Their new £3.7m Portal Visitor Centre at Castle Hill, with interactive exhibition gallery, learning space, restaurant and function room, shop and trip boat base, opened in October 2015.

"Over the past 50 years the Trust has operated from temporary buildings adjacent to the canal and tunnel entrances, but has long worked towards creating a centre to enhance the wonders of the caverns,” says Nick. "Our fantastic new Portal Visitor Centre has already doubled the numbers of visitors to the site since it opened just under a year ago.”

Christopher Rodrigues CBC, Chair of the Living Waterways Awards Assessment Panel, adds:

"This flagship visitor centre accommodates a wide range of activity and has allowed the Trust to grow from employing just two people with five volunteers, to employing 15, with 40 volunteers.

"The site is being successfully promoted to all age groups and we saw evidence of large numbers of young visitors being fascinated with their experience. The Trust certainly deserves to be recognised for their
remarkable work to promote and celebrate this important waterways
site.”

Major funding partners for the project to create the Portal include the European Regional Development Fund £997,000, Heritage Lottery Fund £989,000, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership £755,000 and Biffa Award £500,000. Other charitable donors include The Garfield Weston Foundation, J P Getty Jr Charitable Trust, Headley Trust, The Wolfson Foundation, Dudley Canal Trust, Dudley Canal Trust (Trips),
and £30,000 raised by a public appeal.

Led by an independent panel of experts from the voluntary, environmental, arts, heritage, engineering and architecture sectors, the Living Waterways Awards celebrate the fantastic work done by individuals, communities and organisations to improve their canals, rivers, lochs and lakes making them exciting places to live, learn and spend time.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, explains: "The Living Waterways Awards celebrate the individuals, communities and organisations that have done the most to make a difference to the nation’s rivers, canals, lochs, lakes, reservoirs and docks, making them exciting places to live, learn and spend time.”

Further details of the 2016 Living Waterways Awards can be found at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/living-waterways-awards-2016

Media enquiries

Nick Morris, Chief Executive of Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust - Tel: 0121 557 6265 email n.morris@dudleycanaltrust.org.uk

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