DOZENS of primary school pupils from Prestolee and Little Lever will be given the chance to explore the heritage of the town's waterways as part of a new project.

Year 5s will partake in a new project called Bridging the Gap to develop their skills, increase their local knowledge, encourage them to take ownership of the environment, and hopefully inspire them to pursue careers in engineering.

Between now and the end of April, groups of 15 pupils will attend three workshop days and help to build their own bridge structure.

The project has been facilitated by Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society, who were successful in securing a £10,000 Awards for All grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Paul Hindle, Chairman of the Society, said: "We are excited to involve these local schools in our heritage. It is really nice to have the community involved along the canal.

"We are doing our best to bring these stretches along the canal back into use.

"We are here to build bridges and carry out heavy engineering, and to pass on our knowledge and skills in the hope of inspiring the next generation."

The learning element of the project is being delivered by Neil West, assistant manager at Bolton Playing for Success, who is based at Bolton Science and Technology Centre (BSTC).

Mr West has coordinated the three workshop days — boat building, building bridges, and creative media — which will be supported by freelance design engineer Mark Gilbert.

Pupils will also have the chance to visit five bridges along the canal, hear from members of the Canal Society and go on fact-finding missions.

"This project encourages our young people to look at the past, present and future of the local community", Mr West said.

"It is also important for us to help young people get excited about engineering. Hopefully these heritage projects, undertaken in their own community setting, will cultivate that learning."

Classes will also produce banners which promote positive messages about the local community.

These will go on display at the Meccano Bridge in Little Lever — which was built by the Canal Society in 2012 — as part of a celebration event on June 15, the culmination of the Bridging the Gap project.

School pupils will use the Meccano Bridge as their inspiration to design and build their own large artistic structure, which is also due to go on display at the family fun day.

The participating schools are St Teresa's RC Primary School, Mytham Primary School and Bowness Community Primary School, in Little Lever, St Saviour C of E Primary School in Ringley, and Prestolee Primary School.