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The UK’s Number ONE read for all waterways users


Issue 102, April 2014

Anniversary year on the Grand Western



chances to win a pair of tickets to


The reopening of the Grand Western Canal following the 2012 breach heralds the canal’s bicentenary celebrations starting at the IWA’s National Trailboat Festival in May. This summer also marks the 40th anniversary of the Tiverton Canal Company’s horse boat trips, pictured. See anniversary feature P10, Towpath Treasures P106.



Canal capital vision


New waterside quarter in HS2 spin-off


A MASTERPLAN to transform Birmingham’s Curzon Street railway station could also create a vibrant new waterside area for Britain’s ‘canal capital’. The Canal & River Trust has welcomed proposals unveiled by Birmingham City Council (BCC) for the creation of a new canal quarter as part of the city’s vision for using HS2 as a catalyst for regeneration and growth. CRT has been leading the work, alongside BCC and other partners, to ensure the development of HS2

Stormdamaged trees are cleared by volunteers PHOTO: IAN MATSON at lock P14


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River Thames, Windsor

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Walton Marina

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Upton Marina

Tel 01684 593 111 Upton upon Severn

Walton on Thames

Brundall Bay Marina

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canal at Curzon Street and for the people who visit and live in Birmingham.” The historic Digbeth Branch of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal helped bring prosperity to the city over 200 years ago. As well as being an important historic and cultural space, it provides essential pedestrian and cycle connections between Birmingham City University, Eastside Locks and Digbeth and opportunities for visiting boats. The canal also forms an important waterway link into the city from the south, and is

critical to developing sustainable use of this corridor into Birmingham. As part of the plan, buildings are suggested on both sides of the canal stepping down from the street to the towpath level with new high-quality public spaces and access points, and active uses at the waterside level to animate the space. To the east of the canal there is also the opportunity to build beneath the new HS2 viaduct. IWA presents its case in HS2 consultation, P6

Sir Tony scoops IWA award Princess goes boating Canal tourism value revealed THE Princess Royal is expected to arrive by

FORMER Waterways Minister Sir Tony Baldry MP received the IWA’s Parliamentarian of the Year Award at a dinner held at the House of Commons. The award recognises his long history of support for the inland waterways. Sir Tony has been a member of the IWA for over 20 years and is co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group. A Conservative MP since 1983, he was knighted in 2012 and represents the North Oxfordshire constituency.

491 BOATS FOR SALE Starts on

iprotects and unlocks the potential of the canal in Eastside and Digbeth. Trust chief executive Richard Parry said: “The proposals to create a new canal quarter are a great opportunity for the Canal & River Trust and for the city and we are pleased that the council has recognised the potential of the canal corridor. “This is a creative and positive response to the challenge presented by HS2 which we believe will mean its impact can be a positive one for the

Tel 01603 717 804

Pyrford Marina

Tel 01932 343 275 River Wey, Surrey

Norfolk Broads

narrowboat at Devizes Wharf when she visits the town on Monday April 7. She is due to take a brief trip on Kenavon Venture from the town bridge to the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust headquarters where she will present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which was awarded to the trust in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List and meet volunteers and staff.

A RECENT report by the British Marine Federation has revealed that ‘boating tourism’ in the Midlands Region generated £386 million last year – one 10th of the national total – and also accounts for 9985 full-time jobs in the regional economy, writes Bob Clarke. Nigel Hamilton, chairman of BMF Tourism said: “Boating tourism makes a valuable contribution to the economy of the Midlands. Prospects for future growth now look good as we expect participation rates to rise.”



By Bob Clarke

THE Dudley Canal Trust is reviewing its procedures involving volunteers after the discovery that one volunteer was a child sex offender who had been jailed on two occasions for offences involving children – including one under the Child Abduction Act – and that he had also been cautioned for possessing child pornography. Edward Hunt of Park Village, Wolverhampton, had previously been a volunteer with the then BW historic narrowboat fleet in the Birmingham area and moved to Dudley when the canal trust obtained the former Grand Union Canal Co. working boat Sagitta. His latest court appearance was at Wolverhampton Crown Court on March 13 where he admitted breaching the terms of a Sex Offender Prevention Order which forbade any contact with children. Hunt was given a three-year community order and ordered to complete a sex offender management programme. The court was told the trust had admitted taking him on without checking if he had a criminal past. Dudley Canal Trust director, Alan Hazeldine, said: “As a result of this unfortunate incident the trust is reviewing all its operating and volunteer manning procedures to eliminate the possibility of this ever happening again.” He said Hunt had never been employed as a skipper on the Trust’s trip boats. His only involvement with the trust was moving Sagitta to various locations and demonstrations. “When the boat is demonstrated at a show it is stationary, moored to the bank and in full view of the public. Demonstrations only take place when a minimum of two volunteers are present and all children are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.” And he stressed that at no time can a volunteer be alone with a child. He said the trust obtained the boat from British Waterways three years ago and extended an invitation to the volunteers who had crewed and operated it. Hunt was one of those volunteers and part of his duties was to move the boat between locations for public demonstrations.

Foxton Locks secures funding boost from Arts Council England

The Foxton Locks site and museum will benefit from a funding boost.


THE trustees of Foxton Inclined Plane Trust are celebrating the success of a major funding award from the Arts Council England towards its reinterpretation project. A contribution towards the project budget of £193,000 will be made by the council’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund with the trust contributing £10,000. Steve Bowyer, chairman of the FIPT, is delighted: “This funding will enable us to make great improvements to the Foxton Locks site and museum with a particular focus on a major piece of our Victorian industrial heritage, the unique Foxton Inclined Plane Boat Lift. “While ideally we would like to

rebuild the boat lift, the use of digital technology will be a fantastic way of improving the understanding of the role the boat lift played in the history of the site and surrounding waterways.” The ‘Revealing the Treasures of Foxton Locks’ project should increase the number of visitors to the site and Foxton Canal Museum. It will include new interpretation trails, guides and audio and digital enhancements, an interactive website, improvements to, and full re-curation of, Foxton Canal Museum, interpretation panels installed at key sites with QR and ER code links, the creation of a 3D digital model of the boat lift, as well as the installation of a local wi-fi network.

Historic Narrow Boat Club donates to flood appeal THE Canal & River Trust’s national flood appeal has received a £500 donation from the Historic Narrow Boat Club. The cheque was presented by club chairman Phil Prettyman, to CRT chief executive Richard Parry at the HNBC’s AGM, attended by more than 110 people at Lapworth, Warwickshire. The club also presented its annual Ken Keay award to Dave Linney representing the trainees and volunteers at the Heritage Boat Yard, based at the National Waterways Museum, for their restoration of the historic wooden Box Boat 337 – a rare surviving unpowered wooden narrow beam craft built for the National Coal Board. Phil said: “The donation is for the

trust’s flood appeal, but it is also in recognition of the excellent working relationship that we now have in partnership with the trust, including the positive attitude and helpfulness of the Wales & Border Counties team to take action at Hurleston to sort out problems with the lock width. “Each year the Historic Narrow Boat Club presents the Ken Keay award to the wooden boat which has been most The box boat undergoing restoration at improved during the year. The level of the National Waterways Museum. improvement and its authentic PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES restoration make it the rightful recipient. In addition we hope the award will be Richard Parry also presented the further encouragement to the HNBC’s Hemelryk award, for iron or apprentices and young people who have steel boats, to the owner and restorer done such an excellent job.” of Pinner.

Redhill MaRina extension planstuRned down By Bob Clarke

PLANNING consent for an extension to Redhill Marina near the junction of the rivers Soar and Trent has been refused by Nottinghamshire county councillors. The refusal is on the grounds that it would be an inappropriate incursion into the green belt; there was no proven need for more marinas in the

area and, if HS2 goes ahead, the line would go through the marina. When investigating the claim that there was a need for more marinas, the planning officer carried out his own survey in a 40-mile radius of the site and found there were 745 empty berths. Of all the marinas surveyed there was an average occupancy rate of 77.8%, significantly less than the 95%

the applicants said was used in their ‘need assessment’. Sawley Marina confirmed in writing an occupancy rate of 64.5% markedly lower than the 98% claimed. The officer said: “This means there are 220 empty berths within 3.2km of the appeal site. There is categorically no need for the construction of further marinas in these locations.”


SPRING is here at last and we can look forward to an exciting summer on the waterways with lots of events planned for the months to come. Work is continuing to repair the damaged wreaked by the winter storms in order that the network will be fully operational for the holiday season. This month we preview Crick Boat Show and readers not only have 10 chances to win a pair of tickets to this event, but also a fantastic break in a canalside cottage, courtesy of Scottish Canals.




Canal trust reviews procedures following sex case

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IN BRIEF Waterways chaplain

THE Monmouthshire Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust has its first waterways chaplain. The Rev John Collier was appointed by the Bishop of Monmouth, the Right Reverend Richard Pain, at a service of thanksgiving at St Illtyd’s Church, Mamhilad. Mr Collier was born close to the canal in Griffithstown, near Pontypool, and has been involved in several nearby churches.

WOW leaflet boost THE Inland Waterways

Association (IWA) has received £800 from the Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) Charitable Trust to support the new Wild Over Waterways (WOW) Buildings & Structures children’s activity leaflet. It will be the third in the series, IWA having already funded the design and print of WOW leaflets that feature Wildlife and Boating History.

Big clean-up

A VOLUNTEER force of thousands of M&S customers and staff will take part in this year’s Big Beach Clean-up from April 24-30. They will tackle litter on 45 canals and 95 beaches including locations hit by recent storms. Last year more than 9000 people took part and collected 4000 bin bags full of litter.

Have your say on sharing towpaths By Harry Arnold

A MAJOR consultation on the use of towpaths was launched at the recent National User Group meeting of the Canal & River Trust (CRT). ‘Sharing Towpaths’ is an initiative to consult with all those who use or have an interest in their local towpath – stakeholders, local authorities, communities and partners. CRT’s aim is the production of a national towpath use policy which will be clear on its approach to managing safer sharing of towpath. It will set out what the CRT will do and also set out what visitors can do to achieve this. The policy will also help guide partners and funders on some of the challenges faced by CRT and the expectations of visitors to waterways. It will be a form of social contract or memorandum between the CRT as guardian of a historic network on the one hand, and everyone who uses and enjoys it on the other; a shared commitment to conserve and improve all it offers now and for the future. Nine principles of towpath use have been set out by the CRT which include established uses in supporting boating, angling, walking and other water-based activities, to be balanced with their role in connecting places. Towpaths should be free to access for all users who wish to walk, run, fish, cycle etc., and who are committed to behave considerately to other users of the towpaths who are slower or more vulnerable than themselves.

Perhaps rather oddly specific towpath use by boat crews is not mentioned although horse-boating gets a principle of its own, particularly referring to improvement thus: “The tradition of horse boating is part of the heritage of our waterways and improvements made should follow the guidance for horse boating.”

Surface improvements

Proposals for what the CRT will do are set out in some detail and include working in partnership with local authorities and local communities to improve and promote the use of its towpaths for a wide range of users and deliver surface improvements in line with its Towpath Guidance Document. These cover a wide range of actions encompassing the design of towpaths to encourage safe shared use, the effects of improvements (risk reviews) and the provision of information for visitors on the condition of our towpaths, including identifying those which are surfaced and are therefore more suitable for mobility vehicles, pushchairs and cycling. Action is suggested to manage vegetation, to review towpath use where there is evidence of conflict and – if required – act to protect the slowest moving users first, introduce additional signage and make use of the CRTs existing campaigns, such as ‘Share the Space, Drop your Pace’. Surveys will be conducted on towpath use with findings shared with others. The full consultation can be read on:,uk/media/library/5697 and

Thirsty work

A CANALSIDE event was thirsty going when the Saddleworth Beer Festival in a gallery which overlooks Huddersfield Narrow Canal ran out of some beers, writes Geoff Wood. Extra supplies had to be rushed to the venue in Uppermill, near Oldham, to cope with the demand. But glasses were raised to the eventual outcome – £2000 raised for a bumper Round Table Christmas party for old folk.

Against amendments

KILDARE County Council’s rejection of Waterways Ireland’s proposed Canal Bylaw amendments has been welcomed by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI). President Carmel Meegan said it provided further proof that the council did not put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations. It has been confirmed that at the end of consultation period, communities along the waterways had sent over 2100 submissions of concern.

Fleet move RED Line Boats has moved five

of its hire fleet from Goytre Wharf to Gilwern because of the closure of a 2km stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal for repairs to the embankment at Llanfoist. The 47ft and 56ft narrowboats were craned out and moved ahead of the new season. The embankment repairs are expected to take until the end of April.

Horse-drawn passenger boats operate on this popular 1500 metres of Llangollen Canal towpath currently being improved by funding of £220,000. PHOTOS:WATERWAY IMAGES

Waterways pageant will replace national festival A NEW summer event has been announced by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) events team to replace the national festival. The Saul Waterways Pageant will be held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday to Monday, August 23-25 at the junction of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and Stroudwater Navigation. It will focus on waterway activities with a programme of competitions including boat handling, canoeing, tug of war, best boat in bloom, illuminated boat display, best kept engine and room, as well as three cruising awards kindly sponsored by River Canal Rescue. Holding the event on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal will also allow inland waterways access for sailing ships and other much larger vessels to attend and celebrate the pageant. The event will showcase the diversity of interests on and around the waterways. As well as the waterbased competitions, activities will include walking, fishing, cycling and geocaching. The Saul Waterways Pageant will celebrate the restoration work taking place on the Cotswold Canals, and promote the forthcoming Heritage

Lottery bid the Cotswold Canals Trust is making. During the pageant, IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) will be working with the trust, to restore the canal at Ham Mill and Bowbridge Locks near Stroud. Members of the public are invited to go along and see ‘WRG in action’. WRG will also be holding Canal Camp restoration holidays in other locations on the Cotswold Canals over the summer. Refreshments will be available from the real ale bar alongside artisan food stalls. An evening social programme is also being planned for IWA members, boaters and campers. And on the Bank Holiday Monday a Boat Jumble will be open from 10.30am-3.30pm. There will be no admission charge, although there will be suggested minimum donation of £2 per person. On the Saturday and Sunday there will be a market and the events team would like to hear from boaters, charities and local groups who are interested in having a stall and fundraising for their chosen cause and IWA. Booking forms are available for download online at

Work has started on the £6 million project to improve 15 miles of towpaths around the centre of Birmingham, although this well-used section by Brindley Place looks pretty good already. comments are requested on sharingtowpaths@ Workshops are being held in Birmingham on April 22 and at a venue in Wales to be announced. Details of invitations are also on the CRT website. Major improvements by the CRT are already in progress on 1500m of towpath above Llangollen Wharf towards the Horseshoe Falls; the popular length on which the horse-drawn passenger boats of Welsh Canal Holiday Craft operate. The £220,000 project has been made possible by funding from the Welsh Government’s sustainable transport programme, TAITH, and support from Denbighshire County Council and Sustrans Cymru. Around Birmingham city centre the CRT has started work on the18 month project to improve 15 miles of towpaths and access to the Birmingham Main Line, Birmingham & Fazeley, Grand Union and Worcester & Birmingham canals. The £6 million project is being funded by the Department for Transport, Birmingham City Council and the CRT and forms part of the city-wide Birmingham Cycle Revolution project aimed at improving cycleways and pathways.

Society banks £3000 community award GRANTHAM Canal Society (GCS) was recently presented with a cheque for £3000 from the Lloyds Bank Community Fund. It will be used to support training of GCS members who are canal volunteers – particularly younger volunteers – in the restoration work involved with the Grantham Canal Society. The society was chosen as a recipient by votes of customers of Lloyds Bank branches at Arnold and Grantham and also by an internet vote and is one of many awarded throughout England.

Sail makers

HISTORIANS have discovered a rich history to a restaurant building in city centre, Leeds, writes Geoff Wood. The Shears Yard beside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was once used for making sails for barges which plied the waterway and now the character of the old industrial site has been preserved.

Pictured at the presentation are, from left: Nicola Mills, Lloyds Bank regional director; Ralph Poore, GCS boat master; Angela Phillips, Lloyds Bank Grantham customer care manager; Mike Stone, chairman GCS and treasurer Stan Harbidge. PHOTO: GRANTHAM CANAL SOCIETY Saul Junction during a canal festival. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES


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War medal found at the bottom of canal THE Canal & River Trust discovered a First World War medal and two cannonballs at the bottom of a South Yorkshire lock during restoration work. Workers found the medal once they had drained the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation to fit new lock gates at Aldwarke Lock near Rotherham. Now the trust is trying to find who the medal was awarded to so they can return it to their family. The Inter-Allied Victory Medal, often known simply as the Victory Medal, was awarded to all those who had served in the armed forces or in military hospitals on the various battlefronts between August 5, 1914 and November 11, 1918. It was awarded to soldiers from each of the Allied countries who decided together that they should issue a Victory Medal. Made from bronze and measuring 36mm in diameter the medal depicts the winged

figure of Victory on one side and the words The Great War For Civilisation 1914-1919 on the other. The name W Clarke is inscribed around the edge of the medal and the Trust is hoping that may help to identify who it was awarded to. Mark Long, was clearing the lock chamber of built-up mud and debris when he came across the medal. The team also found two cannonballs and heritage experts are doing some research to try and find out more about where they came from and how they got into the canal. He said: “We couldn’t believe it, we’re used to uncovering all sorts when we drain a canal but I’ve never found anything like this. I’ve no idea how it ended up in the canal but it’s a real shame that it did and I’d love for it to be returned to the family of this person who gave so much to earn it.” CRT heritage adviser Judy

The medal found in the Aldwarke Lock. PHOTO: CANAL & RIVER TRUST Jones added: “The medal isn’t especially valuable but it’s of huge symbolic importance to someone and we really want to reunite it with its proper owner. Somebody served during the war to earn this medal and it’s right that we get it back to their family.”

Commercial boat operators visit South Yorkshire stoppages THE chairman of the Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) David Lowe, who is also a member of the Canal & River Trust’s North East Waterway Partnership Board, joined CRT trustee John Dodwell, waterway manager Jon Horsfall, and freight planner/harbourmaster Stuart McKenzie for a visit to two recent stoppages. Following extensive consultation with CBOA and member John H Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd, the stoppages at Aldwarke and Sprotbrough were rescheduled to coincide so as to reduce the time the navigation would be closed and minimise inconvenience to Green Line Oils whose Rotherham works is supplied by oil from Hull docks by barge on a weekly basis. Jonathan Hoole (operations director) and Richard Ellis (operations manager) from Green Line Oils (Exol Lubricants Ltd) joined the group at Aldwarke Lock. Jonathan explained that the barge deliveries were essential to the success of the Green Line operation for various reasons, including restricted access for lorries to the Rotherham site.

The CBOA visitors with CRT staff in the bottom of Aldwarke Lock. PHOTO: CHARLOTTE BURNETT-WOOD, CRT It was anticipated that the deliveries would continue by barge for the foreseeable future and that there might be other opportunities to use inland waterway transport.

Emergency work on Llangollen Canal embankment THE Canal & River Trust is carrying out emergency work to stabilise an embankment on the Llangollen Canal in Hampton Bank after discovering signs of leakage on the 200-yearold canal. It detected movement as part of regular inspections and immediately carried out a detailed inspection of the embankment.

Engineers are designing a solution to stabilise the embankment as quickly as possible while minimising disruption and disturbance to users and wildlife. Works are expected to take several weeks to complete, closing the canal for boats until the beginning of April. There will be towpath closures during periods of the work.

Works starts at Hampton Bank. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES

Wendy Capelle, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, explained: “We have been keeping a close eye on the embankment after signs of bank settlement and leakage were detected during our regular inspections. Our engineers have been developing a programme of works to stabilise the embankment by installing piling along a 200-metre section to prevent further slippage. “We appreciate that this is a disruption for people who enjoy the towpath and for any boaters planning on visiting the canal, but by carrying out the emergency works now we will ensure the embankment is stable for the main boating season along this very popular canal. “The Llangollen Canal is undoubtedly one of Britain’s most popular canals, attracting thousands of visitors to the world famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. It’s too early to predict the cost of the repairs at this stage, but it is another reminder of the work and investment that needs to go into keeping this important piece of heritage in top condition.”

See page 13 or call 01507

529529 for details

Hundreds of visitors f’lock’ to open day MORE than 1800 visitors flocked to the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation to catch a rare glimpse of an incredible canal structure. The Canal & River Trust opened up the 75m long Sprotbrough Lock after draining it for maintenance, giving a unique insight into the inner workings of the canal. During the event visitors of all ages took the opportunity to venture 7m into the bottom of the lock and walk along the drained lock bed. Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust’s North East region said: “People commented that they’ve passed the locks so many times before but what was really impressive was to walk down inside them, get a close up look at the construction and learn interesting facts from our teams about how they carry out this work. Our aims during these open days have been to showcase these incredible heritage structures and to give local communities the chance to experience what they wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise.” The maintenance team is currently replacing a set of 9.5 tonne, 7.5 metre tall lock gates which have been operated by boaters for over 30 years. The new gates have been made of oak to exactly the same dimensions and design by craftsmen at Stanley Ferry Workshop in Wakefield – as well as by apprentice, Josh Hindson who spoke to hundreds of people throughout the day about the lock gates.

Visitors walk along the drained Sprotborough Lock.

New skipper to take charge of historic trip boat By Bob Clarke

COUPLED with a £10,000 revamp of its 70ft trip boat The Blackcountry Man, the Stourbridge Navigation Trust has appointed a full time skipper whose duties will also include overseeing security at the trust’s moorings and general maintenance work. The new skipper is Julian Allen. He has been a residential boater for 20 years and will take up residence on the moorings. Prior to his new appointment he had worked in the hire boat industry for some time. Trust financial director Chris Dyche says Mr Allen will also be assisting with the

management of the trust’s historic Bonded Warehouse and the retail shop as well as marketing the tripping operation. The boat was the last iron narrowboat to be built shortly after the last war by the Netherton (Dudley) boat building firm of Harris Brothers. Built as a butty it worked for a time at Stewarts & Lloyds tube works at Halesowen before being converted into a trip boat for the Stoke-on-Trent Canal near Great Haywood. It was then bought by the trust which also obtained the trading name of Fellows, Morton & Clayton. The boat is now the only vessel legally entitled to carry the name of Fellows, Morton & Clayton on its hull.



Chapel and cottage back on the market

Mill homes

By Bob Clarke

PLANS to build 12 new town houses next to Finsley Gate Mill on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Burnley are to be considered later this year, writes Geoff Wood. Under the scheme, a mill extension would be demolished but the original mill, which dates back to 1820, would be retained. Steven Knowles, development director at developers St Medwan, said: “New sustainable development and investment will lead to further regeneration over a wider area.”

A HISTORIC former Boatman’s Mission Chapel and an adjoining lock keeper’s cottage on the Walsall locks has failed to sell at auction. After it fell out of use as a chapel it was eventually turned into a museum by the local council but following vandal attacks, the Grade II listed building was closed down in 2003. It was due to go for auction last month at Villa Park with a guide price of between £90,000 and £98,000 but was withdrawn after it failed to reach its reserve. Offers around £90,000 are now being sought. The cottage is single storey and has recently been refurbished but the old chapel is in need of substantial repair. The auctioneer’s description says that there are plans to redevelop the chapel building into two residential units although, as yet, planning consent has not been applied for.

Lotta bottles CONGRATULATIONS to the

Third Thames crossing no nearer to fruition

winners of our Water-to-Go competition in the January issue: Barbara Fox of Bootle, Merseyside; Veronica Horman of Ilminster, Somerset; Michael Clyma of Fareham, Hampshire; Olwen Anderson of Pencoed, South Wales; Linda Munoz of Bristol; James Davies of Swansea, South Wales; Gary Webster of Ormskirk, Lancashire; Laurence Pulling of Newhaven, East Sussex; Tanya Tomlinson of Hamstreet, Kent and Mrs M Briggs of Golcar, West Yorkshire.

Body in canal

AN INQUEST on a 64-year-old man whose body was found in the Wyrley & Essington Canal at Horseley Fields, Wolverhampton, in February has been adjourned for further inquiries, writes Bob Clarke. William Brittain of Heath Town, Wolverhampton, was found by a group of teenagers who raised the alarm.

By Elizabeth Rogers

THE long-mooted suggestion of a third bridge across the River Thames in the Reading area still looks a long way off. Representatives of Oxfordshire County Council, Reading Borough Council, Wokingham Borough Council and Reading Ease MP Rob Wilson joined in discussions on the issue at a public meeting prompted by traffic problems resulting from the recent flooding. Traffic congestion was caused on the northern approach to Reading when the bridge at Sonning had to be closed. Comments by councillors after the meeting suggested that the proposal is not likely to make any progress for some time. Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, expressed concerns about the effect that a third crossing

would have on roads in the south of the county. “The concerns are that if there is a third bridge it may deliver additional traffic impact on South Oxfordshire,” he said. “We want to make sure that there would be sufficient mitigation in place so that we were not making South Oxfordshire a major rat-run.” A crossing in the form of a toll-bridge has been one of the suggestions. Wokingham council has always been in favour of a bridge scheme. “The quickest way to build the bridge would be to use a private company which would come up with the funds,” was one of the comments by Ian Page, Reading Borough Council’s lead member for transport. “That would be a tollbridge,” he said. “I am not advocating it, because we need to explore all options, but it is one solution.”

CRT scraps proposed Roving Mooring Permits scheme due to legal concerns By Polly Player

THE Roving Mooring Permits scheme, which was due to begin shortly in two localised areas, has been scrapped by the Canal & River Trust due to concerns over the legality of the system as a whole. Had the scheme gone ahead, Roving Mooring Permits would have been offered to a small number of boaters within the two target areas, who were considered to have been present in the area for a significant period of time while not fulfilling CRT’s definition of a large enough cruising range for their continuous cruising declaration. Eligible boaters argued that their non-compliance was due to historical ambiguity over the definition of an acceptable cruising range, and a lack of consistency in local enforcement. The permits would not have been offered to new boaters moving into the area, and were non-transferable, which would ultimately have led to the number of permit holders steadily falling, easing

congestion in the problem areas. The Canal & River Trust worked on the principles of the Roving Mooring Permits with boaters in the Cowley and Uxbridge area of the Grand Union Canal, and ultimately, the scheme was due to be trialled in the Cowley and Uxbridge area, and with an additional group of boaters on the Gloucester and Sharpness canal. While many boaters were fully in favour of the scheme and welcomed CRT’s attempts to work with affected boaters to find a mutually agreeable solution to localised problems, not all boaters supported the idea. Criticism of the scheme came from many quarters, including boaters who felt that those eligible for the permits were being rewarded for long-term non-compliance, and boaters in other areas who were concerned that the scheme would set a precedent for a national roll-out, to the detriment of their current lifestyle. Ultimately, the Roving Mooring Permits scheme fell at

the final hurdle, with CRT announcing the cancellation of the scheme shortly before it was due to launch in April 2014. The trust cited potential legal issues with the concept of the scheme as a whole being the reason for the last-minute cancellation, such as the validity of offering the permits to selected boaters only, and whether the trust would then become obliged to roll the system out nationally for all boaters. During the time within which the Roving Mooring Permits scheme was under discussion, enforcement processes were suspended for boaters within the Cowley and Uxbridge area who would have been eligible for a Roving Mooring Permit. With the surprise cancellation of the scheme at the final hour and after a launch date had already been published, affected boaters are now understandably concerned about what will happen to them, and their ability to maintain their established lifestyle, in the wake of the trust’s decision.

IWA/CRT present case in HS2 consultation THE need to reduce the impact on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley is one of the factors raised by the IWA in its response to HS2’s Phase 1 consultation period which closed at the end of February. The current preferred route for the HS2 rail line between London and the Midlands includes several canal crossing points on the Trent & Mersey Canal in the area around Fradley Junction. Engineering consultancy Hyder Consulting (UK) Ltd was commissioned by IWA and CRT to produce a technical report on an ‘Alternative Alignment’ at Fradley which confirms the viability of IWA’s 2012 alternative route proposal. The IWA and CRT will be meeting with HS2 Ltd to discuss the report. Points include: ● The need to preserve clearances over canals, towpaths and restorations for permanent and temporary works ● Better design of the HS2 underbridge over the Grand Union Canal at Saltley Viaduct, to keep the space light and be less intimidating ● The need for exceptional care with the new Curzon Street Station design above the Digbeth

Branch & Ashted Lock, to preserve operability of the canal and create a positive environment (fitting into Birmingham City Council’s recent announcement on a Canal Quarter) ● Better noise mitigation, with particular reference to canal users ● The need to manage any ‘vertical deviations’ (raising or lowering the railway compared with existing plans) on canal crossings to ensure minimum headroom is maintained ● Support for the use of CRT’s ‘Waterway Design Principles’ to guide the design of waterway/ HS2 intersections and make sure the ‘waterway angle’ is catered for. A second reading of the bill will debate the principle of building HS2 with a timetable for the bill being agreed at a later date. This will be the main opportunity for those directly affected to petition MPs and make their case. A copy of the Hyder report is available to download from news_campaigns/campaigns/hs2_campaign/docu ments/hyder_report

Top: How HS2 will change the view at Fradley. The area as it is at present, the hedge on the right-hand side runs along the offside of the Trent & Mersey at Fradley, from Shade House Lock up to the turn where the canal goes to Wood End Lock. Bottom: The impact of HS2. The photographer is standing with their back to the Manchester Main Line crossing the canal, and in front are the two single-link line crossings running from the HS2 main line to the left, across to the West Coast Main Line a few km off to the right. (IMAGES: HS2)

RYA SPOTLIGHT 7 The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the national body for all forms of boating, including dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sports boats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and narrowboats and personal watercraft.

Pulling together in the midst of extreme weather By Tony Roome, chairman of RYA Inland Navigation Panel

I GUESS the topic of the moment has been the flooding. The Environment Agency has come in for a lot of criticism over the past few weeks, and much of it was inevitable – given that emotions run high when your home or business is severely damaged. But, in truth, I’m not sure what more it could have done, given the extremes of weather. For some, it will inevitably bring into doubt the agency’s policy of letting some areas flood naturally in order to give the water somewhere to go. While I too am sceptical about this as a policy, I haven’t heard much in the way of genuine alternatives being offered. The EA staff have certainly worked incredibly hard over long hours to try and help those worst affected – and that at a time when many of them (including many of the flood specialists) are facing an uncertain future of job and budget cuts. We may continue to criticise the EA, but I think we should recognise the incredible dedication of its staff, and the rest of the emergency services who were involved.

These cuts will also affect the Thames, as it is clear that the pressure to reduce the number of resident lock keepers (with their important role in water and weir management) is now back on. The agency is claiming that it will save £47,000 per year for each residential lock keeper post removed on the Thames – but we’ve still to see the figures to back up this claim, and the costs of a replacement system may well turn out to be higher over the years to come. Things are much brighter on the canal front. Given the severity of the conditions, the canal system seems to have got off comparatively lightly. At recent Canal & River Trust meetings, we have heard of a number of embankment slips, towpath and lock collapses caused by the heavy rain undermining the banks and revetments. In addition, large numbers of trees fell across the canals – and they are being removed as quickly as possible. This is all going to cost upwards of £2 million to repair on current estimates, and the money will have to come partly from this year’s contingency (already depleted by earlier breaches), and partly from next year’s budgets. CRT has taken the opportunity to

The River Severn in flood near Worcester. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES launch a clear-up appeal, but this has raised only £15-20,000. The appeal has also been the subject of comment from the hire boat operators, who are keen to stress that the canal system is open for business and that the temporary closures are unlikely to affect holiday cruises.

Towpath traffic

Next up in consultations from CRT is the thorny issue of traffic on the towpath. It is working on a towpath code to address concerns raised by several user groups about the need to share the towpath responsibly, particularly trying to emphasise to cyclists the danger of high speeds on the towpath. While this may not be a problem in many parts of the country, in urban areas – particularly in London – it is becoming a serious issue. Do look out for the consultation announcement on the CRT website and make sure you have your say. I have recently been to a couple of meetings with CRT, firstly the National User Forum and then Richard Parry’s (the CRT CEO) ‘meet the boaters’ meeting in Banbury – which attracted over 150 people. He was keen to stress the long term planning that the trust is

now able to undertake, and highlighted the 10-year, £80 million dredging programme, along with the increased focus on offside vegetation clearance, which has had a noticeable effect on many canals. Common themes from people at the meeting were around boats overstaying on visitor moorings, difficulties with enforcement, and communications. It’s interesting to note that if you follow CRT on social media (Twitter, Facebook etc) you are more likely to hear about water voles than what the engineers are doing. Maybe that’s an inevitable result of conservationists being more adept at getting their voice heard, while the engineers just get on with the job – but either way we need to hear more about what CRT is actually doing (and it’s a lot) to make life better for the boaters on a day-to-day basis, rather than just at meetings like these. There are more meetings to come in the series so do keep an eye out for one near you – you will be listened to! To the future, we’re coming back into the main cruising season and I hope all of you will have a happy and relaxing time on the waterways in the months to come.


Storage dispute

A STAFFORDSHIRE marina has been ordered by its local authority to remove engineering equipment from its premises because the equipment is being stored without planning consent, writes Bob Clarke. Ogley Lock Marina owners claim there has not been a breach of regulations and they have not been given enough time to comply. A Lichfield District Council report states “The use of land for the open storage of large pieces of equipment used in civil engineering projects represents inappropriate development in green belt.”

Online vote IN OUR latest online poll at we asked readers if they had been affected by the recent floods. It was almost a case of half and half as 48% of those who responded had been affected while 45% hadn’t, 7% indicted that the floods had caused them to change their travel plans. This month we are asking if the cost of holidays in peak periods would make you consider taking your children out of school in term time.

Tango’ed canal

THE Huddersfield Narrow Canal has been changing colour to bright orange near the Standedge Visitor Centre at Tunnel End, Marsden, writes Geoff Wood. Scientists say the colour change comes from old mine workings and is harmless to health. Centre supervisor Ellen Richards said: “It is certainly strange and walkers have remarked on this. We understand it is caused by water running through old mine workings in the surrounding hills.”


SOCIETY NEWS Marathon drinks service

HISTORIC and working boats are especially welcome along the route of a half marathon beside the Birmingham Canal Main Line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham on Saturday, July 5. Boats will be moored at one mile intervals to provide a refreshment service for the runners with water handed out as they pass. Water containers, disposable cups and a bench are provided the day before and boats have to be in position from about 10am-4pm. Anyone interested should contact Stuart Steele at (Historic Narrow Boat Club newsletter, 2014/1)

Training trust planned in memory of heritage boat enthusiast Roger

A NEW trust, which will offer young adults between the ages of 18-30 the opportunity to learn traditional boating skills, will be launched at the Stratford River Festival on July 5-6.

Anniversary anthology

THE Shropshire Union Canal Society is hoping to publish an Anthology of Recollections from members to coincide with its 50th anniversary year, the date of which will be agreed. The society changed its name from the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal Association following a special general meeting in November 1966 and copies of minutes date from April 1968. Anyone who can help with any information is asked to contact society archivist Rich Hamp on 01970 832538, (Cuttings, Spring 2014)

Homes plan is opposed

STAFFORDSHIRE & Worcestershire Canal Society has opposed outline plans to build up to 80 new homes on land between the canal and Ripon Drive, south of Radford Bank, Stafford. In a letter to Stafford Borough Council, conservator Freddie Cooke stated that the greenfield site lies outside land allocated for development and does not comply with the Local Plan. (Broadsheet, March 2014)

Trust’s ‘Feet of Clay’

THE Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust have launched a ‘Feet of Clay’ Appeal to raise money to line Lichfield Canal Pound 27 by the Tamworth Road. It is hoped to get more water back into the canal this year. It costs £15 per 10sq ft so the appeal target of 27,000sq ft will cost over £40,000. (Cut Both Ways, Winter 2013-14)

Melksham festival plans

A RIVER festival will be held at Melksham over the weekend of September 6-7 to commemorate the centenary of the Act of Abandonment. It is also hoped that planning consent will have been given by then for the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust’s Melksham Link project. (Dragonfly, Winter)

Did you know?

IF YOU travelled around every Canal & River Trust waterway you would pass through 1569 locks, under 3112 bridges, through 53 tunnels and over 370 aqueducts. (Broadsheet, January)

Roger’s barge Neptune has been around Bristol docks, up the Lancaster Canal and through the Falkirk Wheel.


The Roger Lorenz Trust has been set up in memory of Roger who lived in Worsley and was a boat enthusiast for over 40 years. His wife Stef, who is passionate about keeping her late husband’s love of canals and boating alive, said: “This is a project that would have been very dear to Roger’s heart. There are so many ex-working boats in this country, owned by people in their 50s and 60s, but very few young people have the appropriate skills to maintain and steer them, so there will be fewer people able to continue the tradition.” Roger had a long history of involvement on the canals, as a surveyor and a member of various waterway-related committees. His original wide-beamed boat, Neptune, will be used by the trust to provide training opportunities to learn about steering, mooring and maintenance of a vintage diesel engine. The courses, which the trust hopes to begin in May 2014, will run from Friday teatime to Sunday evening and will include talks about the history of the canal network. Participants will live on the boat and the courses will be taught by experienced boaters and boat owners. The total cost of £50 includes all meals and accommodation. Neptune is currently based at Wyre Boat Club near Evesham.

Roger Lorenz, who died in April 2013, had been committed to canals since his days at Birmingham University where he studied industrial metallurgy and spent one summer holiday working on commercial boats. He had a long history of involvement in the canals as a surveyor, committee member for the Inland Waterways Association and the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association, and was a founder member of the Heritage Boat Association in Ireland. Roger’s background was as a secondary teacher and college lecturer (craft, design and technology) and he was always very committed to teaching and mentoring young people. The Roger Lorenz Trust has attracted trustees from the Canal and River Trust and the Inland Waterways Association and is currently looking for a Patron to support its work. Built in 1963, Neptune has travelled on the waterways across England, Wales and Scotland and was the first barge on the Royal Canal in Ireland. It is an ex British Waterways working boat and was the largest boat to travel up the Lancaster Canal after its restoration. The trust is hoping to offer several different modules and, in time, an NVQ qualification to participants on its courses. It is currently seeking donations to support its work and to enable it to register as a charity. ● To find out more about the courses on offer, or how to donate, please contact Stef Lorenz on 01617 070588 / 07825 447029 or write to her at 34 Algernon Street, Monton, Eccles M30 9QA.

Rock legend to cycle the Chesterfield Canal

Frustration over boaters’ facilities in York

DAVE Berry, famous for classic hits like The Crying Game, will be cycling the full 46 miles of the Chesterfield Canal on April 8 to raise funds for the Chesterfield Canal Trust. He will be accompanied by his daughter, Tania Colley, and a friend, Jeff Troops. Dave is no stranger to such events. Last year he walked all 40 miles of the Limey Way and earned £1600 for the MS Society in Chesterfield. He lives locally, in Dronfield, and made contact with the Chesterfield Canal Trust while taking his granddaughter on a Santa Special cruise last Christmas. He was impressed by the work that its volunteers do and decided to help. Dave’s chart successes were in the 1960s, but he is still working hard. He has just finished a series of dates, but in October will start the Sensational 60s Experience 50th Anniversary Tour with the Union Gap, the Ivy League, the Swinging Blue Jeans and Herman’s Hermits. This will run to over 60 performances across Britain. For further information, go to his website .

THERE is currently no Elsan disposal point at Museum Gardens, York, on the Yorkshire Ouse because the toilet block was demolished last year to make way for The Star Inn the City restaurant.

Dave Berry and Jeff Troops at Tapton Lock. PHOTO: CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST ● You can support Dave’s ride by making donations via the Chesterfield Canal Trust website (just search for Chesterfield Canal) or via PayPal to ; alternatively you could hand in a cheque or money to Tapton Lock Visitor Centre or Hollingwood Hub. Please mark any donations as Dave Berry.

Sankey Canal reCeiveS funding booSt A SUCCESSFUL funding bid has resulted in the joint award by the Coastal Communities Fund of a £654,000 for the Sankey Canal between Widnes and Warrington. The bid was made by the Warrington and Halton Borough Councils in conjunction with the Sankey Canal Restoration Society (SCARS) and will finance a new, permanent Marsh House Bridge for the Riverside Trading Estate. Wider than its predecessors, the

new lift bridge will open for water traffic and £225,000 council funding will enable a high quality bridge to be installed. The funding will help to create 12 apprenticeships, two direct jobs and a possible 23 indirect jobs as well as providing training opportunities. It will also improve marketing, signage and branding in order to protect and grow existing businesses and help create new ones along the Sankey Canal.

Towpath view of the Tour de France THE West Riding branch of the IWA (Inland Waterways Association) and local volunteers are organising a boat gathering to coincide with the Tour de France Grand Départ cavalcade and cyclists passing alongside the Rochdale Canal on the second stage on Sunday, July 6. Moorings will be allocated for any time between June 28 and July 13 with a choice of sites from Hebden Bridge to Mytholmroyd. There will be plenty to see and do in the run-up to the day itself. Hebden Bridge has its Arts Festival from June 27 to July 5 and alongside the canal, Mytholmroyd Gala will take place between July 4-6. Events include a large screen outdoor TV and fireworks on Sunday. Throughout Yorkshire, the Grand Départ Cultural Festival will be taking place.

The way to the toilets behind the Star restaurant. PHOTO: KEITH CHAPMAN

Slough Canal friends tell of work with CRT London partnership on link plans THE Friends of Slough Canal will hold the group’s annual general meeting on Saturday, April 5, at St Paul’s Gilliat Church Hall, Stoke Road, Slough, starting at 11am. Following the official business there will be a talk by Pc Ian Whitlock of Thames Valley Police on wildlife crime and the role of the police wildlife officer. The public are welcome to attend but only paid-up members of the Friends may vote or address the meeting. The Friends are providing advice, contact details and information to the London Waterways Partnership (LWP) in support of that body’s promotion of the much discussed navigable waterway link between the Slough Canal and the River Thames. Other matters which are the subject of co-operation with LWP include: insurance and training for voluntary clearance parties; redevelopment of Stoke Road Basin, Slough and educational partnerships. The LWP is one of 11 regional consultative bodies set up when the management of the former British Waterways routes was transferred to the Canal & River Trust. ● For further information on the Friends and their activities contact 07542 168444 or visit Facebook Group: Friends of Slough Canal.

IWA North Riding chairman Michael Cadoux tells us that the nearest is either at Naburn, downstream, or Linton upstream. North Riding IWA has raised this with the council, which is pursuing the developers in terms of planning consent which was for full replacement, but there is as yet no timescale for fixing it. There are two disabled-type loos without a BW key at the rear of the restaurant – the side away from the river – so are only accessible when staff are on site which is generally from 7am until midnight. There is no specific boater rubbish point, though there is a (totally inadequate) litter bin near the water point. “The only good news is that the water point has been relocated nearer the river,” Michael added.

Chiltern Branch digs deep for WRG excavator appeal

One thousand pounds has been donated to the Waterways Recovery Group’s New Excavator Appeal by the IWA Chiltern Branch. Following a successful fundraising year ably organised by John Brice, Chiltern fundraising and waterways events organiser and well supported by the committee and members, the funding was handed over at during February’s meeting. As one of the IWA’s leading fundraising branches, it has already donated £2000 to the Wendover Arm Trust and £1000 to CRT for Aylesbury Arm, Lock 12 and Slough Arm, Reeds Bridge. John Brice is pictured presenting the cheque to Tim Lewis, London WRG chairman. PHOTO: DAVE CHAPMAN


Canalside property has a place in history A RARE chance has arisen to buy a part of canal history which has come on to the property market. Wharf Cottage, on the banks of a redundant stretch of the Grand Western Canal on the outskirts of Nynehead in Somerset, is not only an attractively restored three-storey residence but is also the site of what is believed to be the first boat lift in the world to be used in a commercial operation. The house was built as a wharf shortly after the canal was opened to nearby Wellington in 1835 and is believed to date to around 1838 according to vendor Denis Dodd who has lived there for the past 16 years and has hosted guided walks and heritage open days during this time. He told Towpath Talk: “This section of the canal is in Somerset; it is now redundant but has been dredged out to original canal dimensions. The lift did work for around 30 years and you can see it from the public footpath along the towpath which is a very popular walk.” Built at a bend in the canal close to the River Tone, the wharf had its own basin which has been filled in although, said

Wharf Cottage as it is today. PHOTO COURTESY OF STAGS Mr Dodd, you can still see where it was. There are also other historical structures in the neighbourhood. For sale with the property are private gardens extending to more than half an acre and 4.6 acres of amenity land including woodland known as Blackham Copse and Harris’ Moor together with a dredged 100m section of the Grand Western Canal and towpath and the associated lifting gear.

The original wharf and basin which has now been filled in.


● The property is being marketed by Stags with a guide price of £499,500. Nynehead is approximately one mile from Wellington and seven miles from Taunton. The M5 motorway is within 1.5 miles to the east. Contact 01823 662822

The Nynehead lift – believed to one of the first in the world to be used commercially

Community project turns graffiti into art form UNSIGHTLY graffiti blights towns and cities across the world but one group in Birmingham is fighting back, with a new urban art project along one of the city’s canals. Backed by voluntary donations from local people and businesses, the Canal & River Trust and The Bond Company recently unveiled a new piece of graffiti art along the Grand Union Canal in Digbeth. The new mural is part of the Heartlands Canal Ring project which aims to connect communities with the waterways. Thought up by the Bond Company artist in residence, Paul Hirst, his idea was to create a new and interesting piece of artwork along a 150ft stretch of wall that had been targeted by vandals. The area is regularly covered in unsightly graffiti making the canal look unloved and unwelcoming. Taking several weeks to complete, the project

was only made possible thanks to generous donations from members of the public and the businesses based at the Bond who raised the £5000 needed to make the project happen. The final design was painted by local artist Graffiti 4 Hire and the new mural is meant to represent life along the waterways while highlighting its special link with local communities and well known landmarks in and around Birmingham. Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the West Midlands waterways partnership for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Over the last few years we have been beavering away at trying to get the community to become more involved with their local waterways. “The graffiti project at the Bond has been one of the highlights of this project so far and really brightens up this stretch of canal and we’re all really pleased with the end result.”

The new artwork along the Grand Union Canal in Digbeth. PHOTO: CRT


Festival will celebrate canal’s landmark anniversary

Tiverton basin with the visitor centre on the right. By Janet Richardson

THE Inland Waterways Association’s National Trailboat Festival over the late May bank holiday weekend (May 24-26) will herald this year’s celebrations marking the bicentenary of the Grand Western Canal.

The main feature will be a big public event – the Grand Western 200 – held at the Mid-Devon Showground on Saturday, May 24, with a range of live music, performers and entertainments, all with a birthday party theme. A number of smaller satellite events happening at locations along the canal

Visitors wait to board the horseboat.

on the other two days will include an illuminated night-time parade in Tiverton and a ‘Navvies Fair’ in Sampford Peverell, featuring lots of period costume. The actual 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first barge at Tiverton on August 25, 1814, coincides with the late summer bank holiday weekend and an event is planned in the basin on that day. The famous horseboat trips operated by the Tiverton Canal Company are also in their 40th year and are likely to feature in the celebration. Although remote from the main canal network, the canal and country park owned and managed by Devon County Council is a popular visitor attraction. The horse-drawn barge Tivertonian attracted national publicity through being featured on the front of BBC’s 2012 Countryfile calendar for Children in Need. On a more serious note, the canal also made the news following the disastrous

Two hundred years of history

A display showing the growth of the canal and the boat lift at Nynehead. See feature on page 9. breach in November 2012 from which an estimated 16 million litres of water poured on to farmland below near the village of Halberton. As reported in Towpath Talk (Issue 96, October), a major repair and restoration programme has been taking place over the past year.

Jacquie Brind crosses the canal on a novel ‘ferry’; on the right is the Ducks Ditty floating cafe bar.

Walkers enjoy the towpath as Tivertonian makes its quiet way along the canal.

The only surviving aqueduct on the Devon section.

The Grand Western Canal was originally mooted by canal engineer James Brindley in 1769 as part of an ambitious scheme to link the Bristol Channel with the English Channel as a way for boats to avoid the hazardous sea journey around the Cornish peninsula. This never materialised but it was decided to construct the canal in the middle of the route, cutting just two and a half miles off the designated main line and a ninemile branch to Tiverton. The Mid Devon town saw the arrival of the first barge load of coal on August 25, 1814, but it came at a cost of more than £244,000 (around £17 million in today’s money) and the life of a navvie shot down during a riot at Sampford Peverell. In 1838 a second phase of construction saw the Grand Western Canal extended a further 13.5 miles to Taunton where it joined the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. But the coming of the railways led to that section being sold to the railway company less than 30 years later in 1865 and abandoned. The Devon section continued until the 1920s when persistent leaks led to the closure of a section near Halberton until the 1960s when local support was galvanised into preserving the canal. The campaign proved a success, the county council taking ownership of the canal in 1971 and declaring it a country park. Since then there has been a substantial investment in dredging and relining the canal and recent developments have included the installation of an alarm system to alert to high water levels with two remote water monitoring instruments at either end of the canal. The stop plank system which can be deployed in an emergency has been upgraded and a lot of hydrological work has been carried out. Extensive tree work, new sluices and weirs and an asset management plan are also planned over the next year or two.


Lend a hand in 2014 and help restore Britain’s derelict canals THE Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) runs a programme of unique week-long residential volunteering opportunities, known as Canal Camps, designed to restore the derelict canals of England and Wales to their former glory. Canal Camps give you the chance to do your bit for the environment while having a fun holiday. The WRG has 25 canal camps, two clean-up weekends and a Big Dig already planned for 2014 along with more than 40 weekend volunteering opportunities which will give you the chance to get involved in various activities such as:

Restoring a lock in the Cotswolds

Throughout the summer (July 19 – August 30) WRG volunteers will be working on three lock restoration projects on the Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock at the eastern end near Lechlade, and Ham Mill Lock and Bowbridge Locks at the western end near Stroud. Volunteers will undertake a wide variety of activities, including removal of damaged brickwork and bricklaying to reconstruct the lock chamber wall. These will be busy, fun-filled camps which will keep both experienced WRGies and newcomers entertained.

Building a new canal towpath on the Pocklington Canal (East Yorkshire)

The former lime kilns below Tiverton basin.

The Pocklington Canal is a charming rural waterway in East Yorkshire which acts as an important wildlife sanctuary. The canal towpath is in desperate need of attention and over the week August 16-23 WRG volunteers will be carrying out towpath improvement work as well as work on the Driffield Navigation. It is hoped that the towpath works will create an amenity for the local community and improve access along the line of the canal. Volunteers will be involved in vegetation clearance, towpath construction and there will also be the chance to operate small excavators and other machinery.

Constructing a canal channel on the Lancaster Canal

Inside the elliptical walls of the visitor centre at Tiverton.

Why not get involved in a major bit of restoration work this summer and help the Lancaster Canal Trust reline a 225m section of the canal at Stainton. Once complete, this new section will be rewatered and reconnected to a part of the canal that the trust uses for its trip boats. Volunteers will also be involved in towpath improvement work and vegetation clearance along the next section of the canal. Book now and join us in the beautiful setting of the Lancaster Canal this summer. Camps run from July 26-August 2 and August 2-9.

Helping clean up a canal

The life-size boat horse is the central feature of the visitor centre.

Visitor centre

When I visited the Grand Western Canal and the breach site in August, work was making good progress with the ultimate aim of having the canal reopened in time for the bicentenary celebrations. Despite hold-ups due to the extreme weather conditions which have plagued the South West this winter, relining had been completed and the repaired section of canal had just been rewatered when I spoke to canal and country park manager Mark Baker in early March. A grand reopening was due to take place at Tiverton Basin as we went to press on Wednesday, March 19. During my visit, Mark Baker also showed me the new visitor centre at Tiverton, opened last spring, which displays the canal’s 200-year history with a timeline around its walls as well as providing displays, interactive games and hands-on activities for younger visitors. My visit would not have been

The timeline charting the history of the canal. complete without a trip on the Tivertonian on which I was made most welcome by Philip and Jacquie Brind and their crew, which included, on that day, their son Tim, head horseman David Poxon, Dandy the Clydesdale boathorse in his final week before a well-earned retirement and Roxy the sheepdog who hitched a ride on Dandy’s back part of the way.

It was my first journey in a horsedrawn boat and I found it a wonderful experience with just the sounds of the water lapping, birdsong and the steady clip-clop of Dandy’s hooves, especially during the ‘silent’ section where everyone was asked to keep quiet for a few minutes. But more about horse boating in Towpath Treasures on page 106.

Head horseman David Poxon greets the passengers on board Tivertonian.

Roxy the sheepdog hitches a ride on Dandy’s back.

Grand Western Canal & Country Park: Before my boat trip I also enjoyed lunch on the towpath at the Ducks Ditty floating cafe bar operated by The Tiverton Canal Company; day boat hire is also available, contact 01884 253345, I stayed at the Hartnoll Hotel at Bolham near Tiverton. Contact 01884 252777 The hotel is also close to the National Trust property Knightshayes For more information about the National Trailboat Festival visit the events pages at The Friends of the Grand Western Canal is a registered charity whose volunteers work to enhance everyone’s enjoyment of the canal Tiverton Information Centre, Tiverton Museum, Beck’s Square, Tiverton EX16 6PJ, contact 01884 230878 I travelled by Crosscountry trains to Tiverton Parkway Station, next to the M5, Jct 27, and about one mile from the Boehill Slipway at Sampford Peverell and five miles from Tiverton.

As well as restoring derelict canals, WRG volunteers spend some of their time helping maintain the canal network still in use. They do this by organising annual clean-up events, which help transform a section of the canal in just a weekend. In the spring (April 5-6), WRG volunteers will get ready for a weekend of ‘treasure hunting’ on the Birmingham Canal Navigations at the Ashted Flight, Typhoo Wharf and Camp Hill Locks. Using grappling hooks, volunteers will spend the weekend pulling out rubbish from the canal and ensure that the section of canal continues to be passable. In the autumn (October 4-5) volunteers head to Manchester. Last year more than 100 volunteers from the Inland Waterways Association, WRG and Canal & River Trust took part in a large multi-site canal clean-up on the canals of Greater Manchester and pulled out in excess of 30 shopping trolleys, six bicycles, numerous road cones, fencing panels, scaffold poles and a motorbike. We hope 2014 will bring out even more volunteers.

Becoming a weekend volunteer

Not everyone can give up a full week – and that’s where WRG’s regional groups come in. A lot of voluntary work has to be done at the weekend, and between them WRG’s regional groups ensure that almost every weekend there will be volunteers at work somewhere in the country restoring the waterways. Find your local group.

Vegetation clearance is one of the tasks tackled by WRGies.

Two Duke of Edinburgh scheme students finishing off the pointing on the wall that they rebuilt.


Working on towpath improvement. ● Volunteering with the WRG is a great experience for anyone who loves being outdoors and enjoys meeting people from different backgrounds and of different ages (18+). The WRG offers volunteers a fantastic chance to learn new skills such as bricklaying, stone walling, machine operation and restoration techniques. Each week costs £56 and includes food and accommodation. More details about each of our week-long canal camps can be found on the WRG website or call Jenny Black 01494 783 453 ext 604 to request more details.



A wet work party for IWA Lichfield Branch

Volunteers laying chicken wire at St Augustine’s Field, Trent & Mersey Canal.


VALENTINE’S Day must have been one of the soggiest on record for IWA Lichfield Branch’s work party at St Augustine’s Field in Rugeley. Nevertheless, a small but intrepid band of volunteers duly arrived and worked hard all morning next to the Trent & Mersey Canal. There were two main tasks to complete at this work party. Firstly, the canalside decking needed to be cleaned and chicken wire laid to make the decking safe to walk on. Secondly, the area next to the canal needed litter picking and scrub clearing. By lunchtime, these objectives had been completed and it was decided to call a halt to work in view of the weather! Well done to all who braved the weather, and big thanks to the cake makers and tea suppliers.

Offside vegetation clearance at Hatton TWELVE members of IWA Warwickshire Branch recently worked on the offside of Hatton flight on the Grand Union Canal, above Warwick. This was part of the plan to reinstate the path on the offside to allow boat crews passage on either side of the middle section of the flight. Vegetation on the offside lock approaches to locks 32 and 29 was cleared to allow two boat lengths of clear space. The vegetation below lock 30 was also removed, thus completing the first stage of this operation. The soil, which obstructs this lock landing will be removed and a retaining wall built by future work parties.

Wednesday, April 2 and Monday, April 7

Every Wednesday, also Saturday, April 5

Some of the IWA Warwickshire Branch team tackling the offside vegetation on the Hatton flight. PHOTO: GRETA RUSSELL

IWA Milton Keynes Branch has been busy through the winter continuing work in the Fenny Stratford area on the Grand Union Canal, with a focus on the broad-walk behind the towpath hedge running north of the lock and alongside the visitor moorings.

The branch, Milton Keynes Council, Tesco and CRT entered negotiations about the broad-walk, as it was clear no one was taking responsibility to maintain the walk or the hedge. The result was that Tesco accepted responsibility for the maintenance of the broad-walk, as it is on the company’s distribution centre site, and hired in contractors to clear the mass of brambles. A 3m wide strip of brambles was left behind the towpath, as the heavy plant could not clear this area without damaging the hedge and trees. It was this strip that IWA Milton Keynes Branch tackled, clearing head-high brambles and other foliage while CRT topped some 100m of the hedge. Hedge by broad-walk trimmed and The plan now is to tackle the ground brambles cleared ready for work to begin growth in the bottom of the hedge preparing the hedge for the planting of and to fill any gaps in the hedge whips. PHOTO: RODNEY EVANS with whips.

Over 80 volunteers at Leamington Spa work party

Clean-up continues ahead of Festival

FOLLOWING a sharp frost on March 1, the day cleared and with a lovely blue sky and no wind, it became very warm as the morning wore on. Four volunteers with IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch cleaned and repainted the railings on the bank of the Dee Branch by Williams’ Moorings and others took on the task of clearing years of mud and weeds from the edging stones around the basin, on the side by Telford’s Wharf pub. Mooring rings were found underneath the weeds and the edging now looks much better, although there is still more to be done. The aim is to have edging all clear in time for the Campaign Festival in early June. Later some volunteers undertook the inevitable litter pick again. However, the message may be getting through, as there was less litter than on previous occasions.

Anyone intending to attend one of these events for the first time should contact the organisers beforehand and wear suitable clothing and footwear. If staying all day take a packed lunch unless other arrangements are indicated. IWA Warwickshire Branch supporting Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce: Hatton, Grand Union Canal. Tasks include lock painting, litter picking, veg clearance and path work. Meet at CRT maintenance yard, Hatton Locks, Birmingham Road, Warwick CV35 7JL. 10am to about 3pm. Information:

Branch helps to reinstate broad-walk

A WORK party from IWA Warwickshire Branch were lucky enough to have chosen the warmest day of the year to date for their efforts on the Grand Union Canal – Sunday, March 9. More than 80 volunteers joined the branch to clean-up up the stretch of canal between Clements Street, Leamington Spa, and the Aqueduct over the River Avon in Warwick. The day had not started well as the tug and hopper had been cast adrift from its moorings by thieves who had stolen the securing ropes. This did not deter the volunteers as once the craft had been retrieved everyone got to work with grappling hooks and litter pickers and collected enough rubbish from the canal and towpath to fill a hopper and car trailer. This was the biggest haul of rubbish IWA Warwickshire Branch has secured from a large clean-up event, which was largely due to the hard work of IWA members, Leamington Spa Army Cadets, students from the University of Warwick, a Warwick youth group and local residents. The predominant items dragged from the canal were shopping trolleys; around 50 were recovered, and a selection of over 20 bicycles. Other more unusual items collected included a ladder, a Heras fencing panel, traffic cones, a supermarket advertising banner, a gas bottle and mattresses. The litter pickers recovered over 30 bags of rubbish. The hopper hold was quickly filled to its full capacity with the debris collected. As the hopper was taken back to Hatton,


River Gipping Trust supported by IWA Ipswich Branch: Pipps Ford (Needham Market, Ipswich, Suffolk IP6 8LJ) or Baylham Mill Lock (Mill Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk IP6 8LG) River Gipping. Meet at 9am to continue clearing storm damage to Pipps Ford or carry out maintenance at Baylham Mill Lock, finish at 3.30-4pm. Contact Martin Bird 01394 380765,

Saturday, April 5

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch: Monthly work party on the Dee Branch in Chester. Work will include painting, weeding, litter-picking. Meet at Telfords Warehouse car park, Chester CH1 4EZ. 10am-4pm. Contact Mike Carter 07795 617803,

Saturday and Sunday, April 5-7

BCN Clean-up: The big annual canal clean-up organised by the BCN Society, Coombeswood Canal Trust, Dudley Canal Trust, IWA Birmingham Black Country & Worcestershire Branch and Waterway Recovery Group, working in partnership with the Canal & River Trust. Around Ashted Locks, Warwick Bar, Garrison Locks and Camp Hill. Meet at Phoenix Wharf, Bolton St, Bordesley, Birmingham B5. 9.30am to 4pm each day. All tools and equipment will be provided. Accommodation and catering is available for those wishing to make a weekend of it (book at Tea and coffee will be provided but volunteers are advised to bring packed lunch if not booked in with WRG.

Tuesday, April 8 and Sunday, April 27

IWA Northampton Branch: Monthly work party on the Northampton Arm. Contact Geoff Wood at

Wednesday, April 9

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch: Monthly work party on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Tasks to include painting, tidying and vegetation clearance. 10am to 3pm. Meeting place to be confirmed but will be in the Kidderminster area. Contact David Struckett 07976 746225,

Thursday, April 10

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust: Monthly work party on the Caldon Canal at Hazelhurst Locks. Meet at the far end of the car park at the Holly Bush pub, Denford Road, Denford, near Leek, Staffordshire ST13 7JT. 10am to 3pm. Contact Bob Luscombe 07710 054848,

Friday and Saturday, April 11-12

IWA Milton Keynes Branch: Biannual canal clean-up though Milton Keynes from Fenny Stratford to Wolverton. Contact David King

Saturday and Sunday, April 12-13

Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society supported by IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch: Monthly work party weekend at Tardebigge Lime Kilns. Meet at Canal & River Trust depot at Tardebigge, Worcester & Birmingham Canal (New Wharf, Alcester Road, Tardebigge, Bromsgrove B60 1NF. 10am-3pm each day. Contact Bill Lambert

Sunday, April 13

Students from University of Warwick volunteer with IWA Warwickshire Branch. PHOTO:WARWICK LINKS walkers on the towpath stopped to photograph the unusual sight and struggled to believe all the rubbish had come from the canal in one morning. Overall, the clean-up was a great success due in no small part to the incredible response from the local community and the support from Canal & River Trust, in particular Steve Lambert who operated the tug and hopper.

Students join IWA Manchester Branch work party IWA MANCHESTER Branch and the local CRT Towpath Taskforce faced a change of location to the opposite side of Manchester for the work party on February 22. This change also brought about a similarly opposite change in the type of location. The new location was Bridge 15 on the Manchester and Bolton and Bury Canal, a canal under restoration with a well-used towpath. This footfall, coupled with the recent prolonged rainfall had lead to a muddy deterioration of the path. The plan was to reinstate the towpath to its original condition with some six tons of stone. CRT’s Hazel Mayow had managed to source a stone with high grit content, hoping that this would help to bond the surface. Manchester Branch and CRT were pleased to welcome a group of 12 students from

IWA East Yorkshire Branch: Annual litter pick of the Beverley Beck, Beverley, Yorkshire, organised in partnership with the Beverley Beck Boating Association. Meet at the Beverley end of the Beverley Beck, Beckside North, Beverley HU17 0PR. 1-3pm. Please bring gloves, litter pickers and garden rakes if you have them. Tea and biscuits afterwards at BBBA Clubhouse afterwards. Contact IWA South Yorkshire & Dukeries Branch: Canal clean-up at Tinsley, Sheffield. Gloves, litter pickers and bags are provided by the Canal & River Trust. Meet at Tinsley Marina. 10am-1pm. Work party will be followed by pie and peas for those who order in advance. Contact Mavis Paul 07725 464611,

Tuesday, April 15

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Trent & Mersey Canal Society: Monthly work party at Malkins Bank on the Cheshire Locks, Trent & Mersey Canal. Painting and vegetation clearance. Meet at Malkins Bank, off Betchton Road, Malkins Bank, near Sandbach, Cheshire CW11. 10am-4pm. Contact Bob Luscombe 07710 054848,

Thursday, April 17 and Saturday, April 19

IWA Warwickshire Branch supporting Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce: Kingswood Junction, Lapworth. Tasks include lock painting, litter picking, veg clearance and path work. Meet at CRT maintenance yard, Brome Hall Lane, Lapworth, Solihull B94 5RB. 10am to about 3pm. Contact

Saturday, April 26

IWA Manchester Branch supporting Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce: Monthly work party, location to be confirmed. Tasks include painting, vegetation clearance, pulling rubbish out of the canal and litter picking. 10am-4pm. Contact 07971 444258,

Wednesday, April 30

Students from the University of Manchester help to lay the towpath.


the University of Manchester’s student development and community engagement division and over the fine sunny day some five tons of stone was laid. ● More volunteering news on P14

IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch and IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch: First of a series of three fortnightly work parties at Wardle Lock, Middlewich, to improve the overall appearance of the Wardle Lock and the Wardle Branch Canal by painting, vegetation clearance and litter picking. Meet at Wardle Lock, park in the vicinity of CW10 0JJ. 10am-4pm. Contact Bob Luscombe 07710 054848, can also be found on IWA’s website: For further information on any of these events contact: Alison Smedley, IWA branch campaign officer (07779 090915 or email ) or Stefanie Preston, IWA branch campaign assistant (01494 783453 or email



BCS volunteers in action clearing storm damaged trees

BUCKINGHAM Canal Society (BCS) volunteers have been in action near Cosgrove Lock following this winter’s severe storms, which have brought down several trees across the towpath of the Buckingham Canal.

The canal (Old Stratford Arm) between Cosgrove Lock and the A5 at Old Stratford is entirely lined with trees on the towpath side, and almost completely lined on the opposite side. Many of the trees, although well maintained throughout the 22 year history of the society, nonetheless include some very old trees that are sometimes weak and less stable as well as younger less established saplings. These include oak, willow, blackthorn and crab apple among others. Unfortunately, the towpath trees bore the worst of the excessive weather as they are the most exposed. Much of the opposite side is more densely wooded, providing more protection for the trees along the bank of the non-towpath side of the canal.

Volunteers Hallam Carr, Graham Tomlinson and Tim Coulson work alongside Mike Flint and Ian Matson to clear a tree near Bridge 1 of the Buckingham Canal.

Since early February, teams including fully trained volunteers together with society trustees have been working hard to clear the debris and make safe the towpath for public use again. After gaining approvals from Canal & River Trust (CRT) who own this section, using hand tools, the team split into groups, making light work of the task in hand. This was accomplished causing as little disturbance as possible to the environment or to those people enjoying a leisurely jog or walk with their dogs along the canal side. Future discussions will also take place regarding appropriate species for replacement where appropriate as part of the management of the ecology along this section of our waterways heritage.

● Work parties are held every other Thursday and the second Sunday of each month and are always friendly, welcoming and very rewarding. For further details visit For all other aspects of the society, visit

Diving deep to clear the Cromford Canal INTREPID divers from Belper Sub Aqua Club teamed up with volunteers from canal restoration charity Friends of the Cromford Canal (FCC) on a chilly February Sunday morning. Their mission was to carry out a dive survey and remove underwater obstructions from a stretch of the Cromford Canal near High Peak Junction. The work, which was sanctioned by canal owner Derbyshire County Council, was needed to clear hazards to navigation that had been found on trial trips by the FCC’s 70ft heritage narrowboat Birdswood. Rocks and coping stones originally from the canal bank were removed from the waterway along with other large objects such as a railway sleeper and lengths of iron guttering.

The canal was officially abandoned in 1944 and was last used by a horsedrawn trip boat in the 1980s. DCC dredged the section between Cromford and High Peak Junction in 2013. The clearance work will allow FCC to run public narrowboat trips from Cromford Wharf, winding opposite the landmark Leawood Pump House before returning to Cromford. Belper Sub Aqua Club ( dives all over the UK and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Stuart Mason, a spokesman for the club, said: “We were glad to help this local charitable volunteer organisation move a step further towards its aim of restoring the historic Cromford Canal for the benefit of the public.” Mike Kelley, boat operations

Making hoMes for birdsand bats By Bob Clarke

Divers recovering rocks near High Peak Junction. PHOTO SUPPLIED manager for Friends of the Cromford Canal, added: “Their work plus the efforts of DCC and our own members will enable us to offer a regular trip boat service that can be enjoyed by local people and tourists visiting the beautiful and historic Derwent Valley.”

New volunteers at Cheshire Locks work party

Volunteers paint railings on the Cheshire Lock Flight. PHOTO: ROGER EVANS

Lock keepers sought on the Ripon Canal By Geoff Wood

CENTURIES ago, lock keepers were kept busy fighting off river pirates. Now they are to found in specific spots helping boaters through the locks and providing a polite and friendly welcome to waterway visitors. But while the role may have changed, it is just as useful as ever, says Claire McDonald, volunteer co-ordinator of the Canal and River Trust. Claire has turned her attention to the Ripon Canal in the historic North Yorkshire city where she believes there is plenty of scope for volunteer lock keepers. She said: “The historic role has changed a bit since the days of fighting off river pirates and now it is just a really enjoyable and rewarding opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and make a great contribution to the local area.” Now there are further plans to recruit lock keepers at the Salterhebble locks on the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Halifax. ● Anyone interested should contact Clare McDonald on 07920 295943 or at

A team of Buckingham Canal Society trustees and volunteers prepare to tackle the storm damage near Cosgrove Lock. Pictured, from left, are: Graham Tomlinson, Athina Beckett (trustee/work party organiser and former chairman), Mike Flint, Phillip Strangeways, Hallam Carr, Geoff Wood, Tim Coulson, Jonathan Brown (trustee), Bryan Knight, with Ian Matson behind the camera. Tony Purbick and Michael Rawlings joined later to make a team of 12. PHOTOS: IAN MATSON, BCS

A BRIGHT and sunny morning greeted 11 volunteers for this month’s Cheshire Locks Work Party at Lock 63, Malkins Bank on the Trent & Mersey Canal. Because of the recent wet weather, it was not possible to finish painting the lock gates, however the volunteers were kept busy painting metal railings and continued vegetation clearance at both Lock 63 and Lock 64. The team finished all the metal work, leaving just a small amount of wood painting to finish next month, before work can begin at Lock 62. The work of the group is

consistently noticed by locals, and this month new volunteers came forward as a result of having witnessed the work party’s progress, a trend that it is encouraging to see grow. In addition, local residents are getting increasingly involved in helping to monitor the state of the locks the group has already worked on. CRT again provided good support and Ed Moss, CRT national volunteering manager, joined the group for the day. The Cheshire Locks work party continues throughout 2014 and new volunteers are always welcome.

IN A bid to attract a wider variety of wild birds, Canal & River Trust volunteers have installed 20 bird boxes alongside the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Stourton as well as relocating a number of bat boxes which had never been used. The bird box project came as a result of CRT monitoring which found that many bat boxes were actually being used by birds. It is hoped the new boxes will attract more bird

species into the area such as nuthatch, sparrow and starlings. The trust has provided some funding with other cash coming from donations. Volunteer Paul Wilkinson said the CRT monitoring had highlighted the fact that there was a desperate need for nesting space in the area. “At the moment the stretch of canal is used by more common species but we hope this may bring other species into the area. It is also our aim to help some of the struggling bird species as well.”

A successful first spring clean-up by IWA West Country Branch volunteers IWA West Country Branch held its first canal clean-up of the spring on March 1. Throughout the day, around 30 volunteers visited Firepool Lock on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal to lend a hand. A group of volunteers cleared rubbish from the car park adjacent to the lock, before cutting back the overgrown vegetation. More vehicles can now be parked and safety has been improved as any vehicles can be seen from both the road and the towpath. A second group gave the lock gates some much-needed attention. Firstly,

the volunteers rubbed down the gates, handrails, iron work and mooring bollards to remove old flaking paint. All of these were then repainted, giving the lock a much-improved appearance. Finally, a third group litter picked the towpath in both directions collecting over 30 bags of rubbish. The group also removed a large pile of debris from the far side of the lock, a difficult task as it involved moving many heavy barrow loads of wet vegetation along the lock, over the bridge and back to the car park. Thanks to all volunteers who attended and CRT for its support.

Progress on the Lancaster Canal DESPITE driving rain and a very cold wind, 15 volunteers turned up at Millness Depot then travelled to Stainton to do a stop plank water test at Stainton Crossing bridge, clear away vegetation on the bridge and clear out the blocked channels taking water off the bridge. A local contractor, working for no more than the cost of diesel, loaned and operated a JCB and

Testing the stop planks at Stainton Crossing bridge. PHOTO SUPPLIED

dumper to complete the bund north of the stop planks to check the water once the main bund at the watered section of canal head is removed. They then turned their attention to removing the mud from a long section of towpath and also supplied 20 tons of road planing that they evenly spread over the entire section. Cold and wet by the end of the day, the volunteers cleared up and wended their differing ways home – they came from a wide area of Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire – pleased at the progress made. A pleasant part of all this restoration work is, thanks to the support and publicity in the press, the number of people that turn up to chat and volunteer information of when the canal and tunnel were built. All of which will be diligently recorded.

Volunteers finish painting the lock gates at Firepool Lock. PHOTO: STEFANIE PRESTON

Busy weekend for the Waterway Recovery Group THIRTY volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group’s regional group London WRG, Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG) and staff from Essex Waterways recently carried out towpath improvement works at Heybridge Basin, near Maldon on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. First of all a team of volunteers dug out the old towpath using shovels and mattocks in preparation for repairs. They then constructed wooden form work to make 3m bays along the bank, which were then filled with concrete creating a more hard-wearing path. Unfortunately by the Sunday afternoon volunteers ran out of ballast,

leaving three bays for the local Essex Waterways volunteers to finish over the coming weeks. Other volunteers also worked on revamping the boat craning area, which had flooded over the winter, by spreading and compacting recycled hard core. In Staffordshire 20 volunteers from WRG North West and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust were hard at work on the Uttoxeter Canal. Along with the assistance of two chainsaw operators, volunteers cleared trees and a large amount of brash around Bridge 70 – completing work started by WRG’s Forestry Group in October.



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D O O F Canalside pubs & restaurants


Floating cafe is a dream come true

to satisfy all tastes...

From the mountains to the fens By Les Heath

New landlord of the White Horse, John Quail. PHOTOS: LES HEATH

ONE of the latest waterside establishments to stock copies of Towpath Talk is the White Horse at Dunston Fen on the River Witham. Well-known by boaters for many years, the pub was taken over in October by a landlord more used to the mountains of the Lake District than the flat landscape of Lincolnshire. John Quail was born in Cumbria and lived there all his life until he saw this business opportunity and decided to embark on a new venture – far removed from his job for many years as a lorry driver. “It is such a peaceful location,”

he said. “And I am quite used to that as I come from a quiet village near Keswick.” John travelled down to see the White Horse and knew immediately that he had to have it – even though there are no mountains in sight. “I have only been here for the winter, so I am really looking forward to the summer season,” said John, who plans to provide bar meals and traditional ales between 11am and 12pm. A function room is also available. The pub has regular customers from a small caravan site adjacent to the car park while boaters are provided with a Canal & River Trust pontoon visitor mooring on the river.

The 48-hour visitor moorings.

Floating tearoom Moonraker on its mooring in central Lincoln. PHOTO: LES HEATH By Les Heath

WHEN Christine Ellerby fancied a new challenge in life she chose a 60ft narrowboat tearoom to make the dream come true. While browsing the internet she discovered narrowboat Moonraker for sale at Slaithwaite on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The boat was a familiar sight in the West Yorkshire town, having been run as a floating cafe by Valerie Todd for 20 years. Christine, from Hibaldstow near Lincoln, said: “I absolutely loved it as soon as I saw it two years ago and I just had to buy it.”

Having always had a fascination for boats, Christine was keen to embark on her venture but soon found that the journey to and from her home was just too much. “I thought it would be great to have it in Lincoln so I went through all the procedures with the city council, health authorities, Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency,” said Christine who last year was given the green light. The boat was built as a tearoom and does not have an engine so arrangements were made for it to be craned out and taken by road to Burton Waters marina on the Fossdyke and

then towed by another boat to Lincoln city centre. “That was a year ago and I have loved every minute of it,” said Christine who is proud of her growing reputation for fresh products cooked from fresh. “Nothing is warmed up here,” she added. Moonraker can seat between 20 and 30 people and planning permission has recently been granted for eight more seats outside on the bank. Boaters, as well as shoppers, can be assured of a warm welcome – even more so if they respectfully slow down to tickover while passing this latest addition to the Lincoln scene.

Historic Oldbury pub gets listed status By Bob Clarke

A HISTORIC canalside pub, popular with local boaters and regarded as a prime example of public house designs of the 1930s, has been given a Grade II listing by English Heritage. The Navigation – formerly The New Navigation – alongside the Titford Canal at Oldbury was built in 1931 as ‘an improved public house’ in response to concerns expressed by the temperance movement over the conditions and behaviour in the older pubs.

The idea of the ‘improved’ pub philosophy was to design one which would attract ‘respectable customers from the emerging middle class of the inter-war years’. English Heritage says of the pub: “The retention of much of the original plan, the central island bar area, fixed bench seating, wall panelling and ceiling decoration make this an unusually complete example of a public house of this date.” The site was originally home to an older pub – also known as The Navigation – which was thought to have been built in the 1830s.



Canal breaks and river cruising in the UK, Ireland and Europe

Don Giovanni is seen entering the water after a repaint.

Big beds and bottles of beer to give your holiday a boost PHIL and Maxine Roberts, along with Dave the dog, are the driving force behind a new kind of canal holiday boat business at Venetian Marina in Cheshire. They had been cruising the canals for years in their own boat enjoying the tranquillity of the English countryside. There had, however, been a few things about canal cruising that had niggled them for years, such as tiny beds (they are both over 6ft) cramped kitchens, terrible TV reception and having to drive to a shop before the holiday starts because they had forgotten something‌ like towels because they were still in the tumble drier. When they were offered the opportunity of setting up a new business running the services, chandlery and putting a small hire fleet together at the Venetian Marina on the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union, they jumped at the chance and

decided to try to provide all the comfort they liked and yet was so rarely available. The idea was to make the holidays as easy and comfortable as possible. That meant, no surcharges, big beds so you can stretch out and wake up refreshed instead of with cramp, satellite TV, a hot water bottle for when you want just a bit of extra warmth but not full central heating, and a slow cooker so that dinner is ready when you stop. They also remembered getting on the boat and not having any cool beer or white wine, so part of the plan was to make sure that there are a few bottles of beer and a bottle of wine ready for the off. They try to be different and friendly and to make you comfortable and relaxed. They formed Venetian Hireboats and started operating at the end of June 2013.

The original plan was to build the business by adding two boats this winter. But some projects never go according to plan and four boats have been added to increase the fleet to six. The first of which, Don Giovanni, was relaunched after its repaint on March 5. Columbina is currently in the paint shop and will be finished by April. Encouragingly, as we went to press, there were 51 bookings for the new season so far.




Boat review P58 Products & reviews P59

What’s on Bits & Bobs

P61 P64

Mercia Marina’s Boardwalk attracts new shops

THE new £1.7 million Boardwalk development at Mercia Marina is taking shape with just three units left as we went to press. Derby-based Davlyn Construction has now set the foundations for The Boardwalk and the main structure is going up fast, giving the first indication of how the final development will look once it’s completed this summer. Mercia Marina, in Findern Lane, Willington, South Derbyshire, has already secured tenants for three of the Boardwalk’s shop units as well as the flagship bar-restaurant, which will form the central part of the new development. A number of other retail businesses have expressed an interest in the three remaining shop spaces, though the marina is keen to hear from any other business owners who might wish to consider leasing one or more of the waterside units. Four office units on the

first floor of The Boardwalk are also available to rent. Robert Neff, general manager, said: “Now that the structure is starting to take shape, you can get a much better idea of scale and setting. I’d welcome any business owners on site to see for themselves just what an unusual yet beautiful location this would be to trade from. With the public opening only eight or nine months away, these are extremely exciting times for Mercia Marina.” The marina announced in December that independent pub company Hillary & Scott Limited had signed an agreement to open a high-quality restaurant and bar at The Boardwalk. This will include seating for around 150 people over two floors, including outside seating overlooking the marina’s 24-acre lake plus a large bar area for drinkers. The Butcher, The Baker, The Ice Cream Maker will operate a farm shop,

and clothing retailer Bluewater has taken two shop units to sell womenswear and accessories. The available ground floor retail units on the 74-acre marina site range from 581-936sq ft, while the upper-floor offices range from 882-1926sq ft, with the potential to combine two or more units. The new development has been designed to complement the marina environment and landscape, with the use of locally sourced stone, timber cladding and large amount of glazing. It will include free car parking and an outdoor area for regular events and attractions. ● Enquiries about available retail and office space within The Boardwalk should be directed to Paul Rushton, of Rushton Hickman Ltd, on 01283 528002, or Matthew Phillips on 0121 353 2757.

The Boardwalk takes shape. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Helicopter escort for narrowboat as RAF takes to water

A full house for the history talk. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Delving into Kennet & Avon history THERE was a full house for an illustrated talk about changes on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Caen Hill Marina recently. Elaine Kirby from the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s archives in Devizes presented old photographs and said she is still researching how the Caen Hill Flight got its name and welcomes any information. Moorers who attended the talk all learnt something new, for instance why there are more lock numbers than actual locks on the K&A – some have been taken away for road diversions.

THE high-flying staff at RAF Shawbury, which trains helicopter pilots for all three of the armed services, have come down to earth – or more accurately down to water – for team building exercises. Not only have they landed, but they have also stepped back in time from the high-tech flying equipment which is part of their everyday lives to a transport system that was state of the art more than two centuries ago. Instead of high-speed military hardware, their transport of choice was the 70ft narrowboat Shropshire Star, Norbury Wharf’s trip boat, which has now been chartered twice for team building exercises with RAF Shawbury. The first took them to Gnosall where they disembarked to visit the Navigation Inn for a meal while the boat winded at High Onn and collected them on the way back. Also in attendance was

one of the helicopters from the base which escorted Shropshire Star from the air – an exercise in extremely slow flying. It wasn’t all fun as they had a meeting with a difference on both the outward and return leg of the journey; albeit in the comfort of the boat while enjoying the scenery. The second cruise began from The Wharf Tavern at Goldstone and took the RAF team down the five locks at Tyrley, turning at Market Drayton and returning to The Wharf. The passengers were taught about working locks and had a go at steering the boat. Norbury manager David Ray said: “The 42-seater boat is becoming popular with various companies and organisations for business meetings with a difference as well as a training venue which offers something unique. It is a side of the business

Shropshire Star passes through Gnosall. PHOTO: NORBURY WHARF Inset: The view from a helicopter cockpit. PHOTO: MOD we hope to grow even more as we begin the second season of our new trip boat.” RAF Shawbury, near Shrewsbury, has been a training base since the First World War when it trained pilots for the Royal Flying Corps.

These days the station provides training for helicopter pilots for all three of the UK’s armed services, as home to the Defence Helicopter Flying School as well as three helicopter squadrons and the RAF Air Traffic Control School.

Aqueduct Marina continues to support St Luke’s Hospice

One of the changes: this lock at Bath is no longer there.

Getting ready for first open day THE first open day at the new Bosworth Marina on the Ashby Canal near Atherstone will take place on Saturday, April 12, when it is hoped to have some spring sunshine. Many passers-by and local residents watched with interest while the bridge was erected over the marina basin entrance. Fabricated in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, it was transported to the site and erected in very wet conditions over two days. The bridge construction is steel and built in a traditional black and white waterways design. The decking will be timber and the whole towpath and bridge is designed to take barge horses as well as the usual towpath traffic. Marina entrance works have been continuing during the very wet weather and good progress has been made by contractor GJP Marina Developments including the piling and fixing of timbers on jetties and the construction of a new facilities building. ●

DURING 2013, Aqueduct Marina at Church Minshull raised nearly £1500 for charity and 2014 has started well with a donation of £441.05 to St Luke’s Hospice. Robert Parton, marina director, said: “The money was primarily a donation from the marina. We didn’t post out Christmas cards but instead gave the money we would have spent on cards, postage and so on to St Luke’s. Some members of the marina community also made donations that added to the total.”

Claire Dale, receiving the donation on behalf of St Luke’s, said: “We are so grateful to everyone who raises money for St Luke’s. It costs thousands of pounds a day to run the hospice and it benefits so many local people making all our fundraising efforts really worthwhile.” Robert said: “I am very proud of the huge efforts made by our moorers and friends to raise cash for charity each year and it is tremendous to be able to add to this with our Christmas card donation. This year the marina

has more events planned and as always we hope to exceed our totals for previous years. We hope you will come along and support us.” The marina was opened in February 2009 and will celebrate its fifth anniversary in a few weeks’ time. In 2013 the marina supported the Helsby Golf Club Powered Wheelchair Appeal, the Shropshire Union Canal Society, the Small Tasks Team Volunteers, who help maintain the canal, and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Claire Dale receives the cheque on behalf of St Luke’s Hospice from Aqueduct Marina director Robert Parton. PHOTO SUPPLIED

New dry dock and audio systems for 2014

Castle Marinas offers new loyalty bonus scheme

THE Wildlife & Water Group has announced new facilities for 2014 at its Ely and Earith marinas. Sixty-ton travel hoist and blasting/blacking facilities have been augmented by the acquisition of the dry dock from Little Ouse Moorings. This enables the group to provide narrowboat/broad beam facilities enabling several boats to be worked on at any time and an enhanced paint shop able to take up to 70ft boats. A 25-ton travel hoist has also been added at the Cathedral Marina at Ely. Lifting, blasting, welding, epoxy and high specification painting are all available at both Ely and the Hermitage Marina at Earith. Mooring spaces in grassy surrounds

TO HELP with customers’ boating costs, Castle Marinas recently announced a new loyalty bonus scheme for 2013/14. The company, which owns inland marinas at Buckden, Kings Bromley, Nottingham, Ventnor Farm and Wigrams Turn, is offering a free month (7%) at the end of a 12-month contract, three free months (11%) for a two-year contract and six free months (14%) for a three-year contract. All must be paid annually in advance. It is also offering one free week at the end of a 12-month contract paid quarterly. Castle Marinas also owns and operates two coastal marinas at Birdham, Chichester Harbour, and Royal Clarence, Portsmouth Harbour, and prides itself on its competitive berthing rates for its marinas on the coast and inland.

have been increased at Ely with the acquisition of more land. New for 2014 is the Fatman brand of Hi-Fi audio products. Solid state and valve amplifiers, headphones, speakers, mobile Bluetooth speakers, DAB radio and systems for home or boat will enhance your music listening experience through warm tonal qualities of the valve amplifiers and proprietary circuit designs. ● The full range of Fatman audio products are on display in the new listening room at Ely or view them on the website and online store at

● For information on these and other special annual berthing offers or winter berthing and visitor rates, contact mikebraidley or visit Contact numbers: Buckden 01480 812660; Kings Bromley 01543 417209; Nottingham Castle 0115 9412672; Ventnor Farm 01926 815023 and Wigrams Turn 01926 817175.




Rent or Buy?

Could long-term hire provide a more affordable way of getting a new-build? Phil Pickin looks at a most distinctive narrowboat.

The semi-traditional stern.

Traditional features include some round porthole-style windows.

The foredeck is fitted with a floor mount to allow a table to be fitted. ‘THERE’S more than one way of skinning a cat’ is a saying used in my family when you need more than one way of achieving something, and it’s a saying that could be used by James and Sallie Blackburn, owners of Narrowboats of Distinction. The Blackburn’s have, since 2006, been building on average two boats per year and recently hit upon an innovative way to help their customers get afloat in one of their boats. Despite James and Sallie building up an impressive reputation for building both bespoke and spec-built boats, there are those who’ve been unable to buy because of problems selling property. That’s when they came up with the concept of offering their boat for long term hire. The idea being that if someone is considering a move on to the waterways as a liveaboard, they could rent out

their home and put the rental income towards renting a boat on a long-term basis. This way the ‘tenant’ still keeps their property should the move afloat not work out as planned. The long term rental of narrowboats isn’t new but it is something that seems to be attracting a growing number of people who are interested in the idea. This would certainly seem to have been the case during the economic downturn when the sale of houses was particularly difficult. Even with the housing market picking up somewhat, it is still worth considering a rental agreement of this type rather than investing all the profits from your home into a depreciating asset.

Attention to detail

So what do you get if you decide to rent a boat from Narrowboats of Distinction? Well in this case you get a very attractive 60ft

semi-trad boat with a number of features and finishing touches which highlight the builders’ attention to detail. You get four berths, two of which are made up using the ‘L’ shaped seating in the saloon area. Even this has been carefully thought out as the leather seat cushions have a linen reverse to make its use as a bed less cold to the touch. This seating is in the open saloon towards the stern of the boat which features a Morso stove on a tiled hearth. Cabling has been included for a TV should anyone want one installed and the very useful shelving units, to the right of the stern steps, also house the fitted radio. All of the power equipment, breakers and system wiring are concealed in a full height cupboard, which also provides handy storage. The room also has radiators fitted behind very attractive panels

made from oak which matches the lining material used throughout. Moving forward you enter a walk-through galley equipped with what could be described as traditional styled units in offwhite. These are fitted below contrasting black granite worktops. On one side, and above the Shoreline fridge, is an Electrolux two-burner hob. As well as a number of drawers a veg basket has been included together with a very innovative pull out storage unit that makes full use of what would have been dead-space in the corner of the units. Opposite a white Belfast style sink has been fitted and close by is an Indesit washer-dryer. An eye level Thetford gas oven is fitted below a Daewoo microwave. Space has been left to allow more storage shelving between the oven unit and the

SPEC SHEET Length: Berths: Hull: Style: Engine: Gearbox: Power: Batteries: Heating: Calorifier: Fuel tank: Waste tank: Fresh water tank: Insulation: Lining material: Flooring: Toilet:

60ft 4 Steel 10/6/5/4 by Alexander Boatbuilders Semi Trad Beta Greenline 43 rated at 43hp Prm 150 hydraulic Victron 3000/120 combi inverter 4 + 1 starter. 2 alternators fitted Eberspatcher D5W - 2 radiators and 1 towel rail Fitted 200l 205 lts 900 lts Spray foam 12mm oak mdf, trim solid oak. Engineered oak Electric macerator

wall and this also goes to conceal much of the plumbing to the shower etc, thus making access easy should it be needed. A very useful feature is a pull-out ironing board that is concealed behind what looks like a normal drawer in the galley units. Further forward is the washroom with a full size shower which has been tiled with large tiles within the glass enclosure. A Jabsco pumpout toilet, a modern basin, above which is a cupboard and small spot lamp, and a chrome heated towel rail completes this good-sized room.

Traditional features

The open saloon towards the stern of the boat which features a Morso stove on a tiled hearth.


Two of the four berths are made up using the ‘L’ shaped seating in the saloon area.

The galley equipped with traditional styled units fitted below contrasting black granite worktops.

The full size shower which has been tiled with large tiles within the glass enclosure.

Through the part glazed doors, is the forward berth. The bed is 4ft 6in wide so needs to have the additional mattress fitted to make up the full-sized bed. Below this is the waste tank and to utilise the space some very deep drawers make the most of this storage space. A locker and more spot lamps are at the head of the bed and a long narrow locker has been added below the bed, ideal for storing quilts etc. Full height wardrobes have been included each side of the door to the foredeck, which is accessed via some very nice split doors. Below these doors are steps into

BUILDER Below these doors are steps into which more storage has been included.

The very useful shelving units, to the right of the stern steps, also house the fitted radio.

The innovative pull-out storage unit.

More storage at a higher level.

which more storage has been included. The foredeck is fitted with a floor mount to allow a table to be fitted to make full use of this sizeable area. Integral handrails within the hull sides make access easy and lockers to both sides and forward make full use of the space. The boat has a number of what you might call ‘traditional’ features, some round porthole style windows (even in the forward doors), the styling of the galley units and false rivets in the hull. All of this is mixed with modern features and labour saving ideas like very little brass in favour of more chrome, as it needs less cleaning. Maximum use of storage space and easy access to areas for maintenance is also evident around this boat. The result is a nice modern narrowboat that would provide a very comfortable home. And with the option to either buy it outright or rent on a long-term basis, it would seem that it could be within many people’s reach. NB Distinction is (at the time of publishing) on brokerage with The New & Used Boat Co at Mercia Marina, Willington, with an asking price of £84,950.

Narrowboats of Distinction. Unit 10, Stauntion Industrial Estate, NG13 9PE Tel 01636 525575 Email


Unique sun protection for boats ECO-FRIENDLY wood and finishes expert Osmo UK has developed an SPF12 protection oil to provide optimum protection for exterior wood on boats. Designed to protect, maintain and restore wood from the effects of the environment, UVProtection-Oil creates a professional finish that is designed to enhance and protect wood for several years. It is said to offer 12 times the UV protection in comparison to untreated wood. It is common knowledge that weather can have a damaging effect on wood. Whether it is the wood cracking and peeling, or fading to grey as a result of the harmful effect of the sun, or being susceptible to algae and fungal decay from exposure to water and

winter weather conditions, the wood requires an effective protection layer. Osmo developed UV-ProtectionOil to address this issue, and by integrating clear UV protection into an oil-based pigment-free finish which ensures the natural appearance of the wood is maintained. Particularly suitable for use on the roof of a boat, Osmo UV Protection Oil is a satin-matt, clear finish designed for interior and exterior application. As well as protecting the wood surface it can also enhance the natural look of the wood. Based on natural oil, it does not crack, flake, peel or blister, it is moisture regulating and reduces swelling and shrinking of the wood.

● For stockist details and more information on Osmo and its range of environmentally friendly wooden products and specialist finishes, call 01296 481220 or visit

Time to tackle the ‘diesel bug’ DIESEL fuel filtration company Tankbusters has warned boaters to watch out for the ‘diesel bug’ as the new boating year gets under way. Each year refineries under EU legislation increase the level of additives in red and white diesel. The level of additives is now starting to affect older engines and each year as the level of additives is increased engines are likely to suffer the effects. A spokesman for the firm said: “Last year showed an increase of engine failures. Inline filters blocking up caused by the ‘diesel bug’ in its decomposed state.

“Fuel lines towards the engine need replacing due to fuel starvation, caused by the ‘diesel bug’ reducing the inner bore size of the fuel line. “Injectors and fuel pumps failing, again caused by the ‘diesel bug’. Water can build up, caused by condensation from half-filled tanks left over the winter months plus water in every litre of fuel that you purchase. “Every time you fill your tank up, you stir the contamination lying at the bottom of the tank hence engine breakdowns.

“Inline filters are often around 30 microns and we know from River Canal Rescue, that is one of the biggest problems it’s called out to. Any filtration above 10microns is not only a waste of money, but can still leave problems.” Tankbusters’ kit filters to 2.8 microns or less and the firm offers a cleaning service through its agency network. Or you can buy your own 12v or 240v tank cleaning equipment. Trade enquires are welcomed.

Craftinsure launches new third party insurance option ONLINE boat insurance specialist has launched a new ‘Third Party Only’ insurance option for boat owners. With annual premiums starting at £65 when purchased online (including Insurance Premium Tax), and no survey requirements, the insurance product is likely to prove particularly attractive to those needing just the basic level of protection and to comply with inland waterways or other regulations. The policy provides legal liability cover for £3,000,000 any one event, with a separate limit of £15,000 to cover liability for removal of wreck in the event that a boat sinks in a channel or other

waterway where it would need to be moved to avoid causing an obstruction or pollution. Recent floods left many boats needing to be retrieved, and this can be a costly business, with salvage charges sometimes exceeding the value of the boat. Craftinsure’s Rod Daniel said: “We have seen an increasing demand from new and existing customers for a fast and simple online option to purchase Third Party liability cover, which is an essential minimum level of protection for any boat owner”. ● For more details, visit

or call 0845 2607 888.

Olympic silver medallist mixes rowing with cookery

FOR A book with a difference about life on and off the water, the story of Olympic medallist and British rower Alison Mowbray is an inspiring read. Amazingly it started off as a recipe book with a few stories from her life… and then, in her own words, ‘the story took over’. Alison didn’t discover rowing until she was 18 and made the British team at 27.

She won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. But this is also a story about what happens after the blaze of glory – and about a winning flapjack recipe. Gold Medal Flapjack. Silver Medal Life – the autobiography of an unlikely Olympian is published by Matador, priced £19.99. ISBN: 9781783062232 EISBN: 9781783066964

Trio of women escape by narrowboat to discover a new life THE canal network is the backdrop to the story of three women escaping from their past on a journey of self-discovery. Author Val Manning’s novel The Other Side of Solitude is set during the Second World War and the present day and features three woman numbed by loneliness and loss, each facing an uncertain future. Zena is trapped in the shadow of her wealthy and domineering

husband and feels she can find no way to give meaning to her life. Jessica escapes on her narrowboat from a disastrous start to her teaching career and an ill-judged affair that has left her feeling she can never love again and Gloria is a young girl working in a munitions factory in the 1940s, whose series of love letters portrays the guilty pleasures of an illicit relationship and the pain of separation.

The setting for the stories is the beautiful landscape and wildlife of the English rivers and canals from the Midlands to Oxford, London and Nottingham. The accurate descriptions of life on the water should appeal to canal enthusiasts and novices alike. Available on Kindle, 259 pages, priced £2.05 including VAT and free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.

Finding your way round the Middle Level Navigations By Harry Arnold

ONE OF the perhaps unsung guides to a section of the waterway network is a 16-page booklet published by the Middle Level Commissioners – Middle Level Navigation Notes. Revised, updated and reprinted annually in late January, it contains the official instructions of the navigation authority for this main link through the Fenland river and drain system from the River Great Ouse to the River Nene; plus lots of basic essential boating information. There is one main comprehensive map of the network illustrating the main Middle Level Link route and its navigable (and non-navigable) connections, plus another map – with accompanying table – showing bridge heights: they can be tricky on the Fens. The main navigation features and structures, including public moorings, are illustrated by individual colour photographs, accompanied by detailed notes, which include such information as the up-to-date names and contact telephone numbers of the keepers at the manned locks. For more detailed tourist-style information you may wish to invest in one of the commercial guides but you should also have a copy of this official booklet. And the other important thing is that it is FREE. Contact – Middle Level Commissioners, Middle Level On Well Creek – part of the Middle Offices, 85 Whittlesey Road, March PE15 0AH, call 01354 653383 or Level Link – at Outwell. email PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES

● See Tankbusters in the

Fuel filtration equipment from the Tankbusters range.

Kingfisher Marquee at the Crick Show from May 24-26.



Banish the diesel bug from your tank.

Books, DVDs and other items for possible review should be sent to:

Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ

Canal mApps available for the inland waterways IF YOU need to pinpoint your exact position whether it be in times of emergency or trying to find the nearest pub, you can do this and more with ecanal apps for Android, iPhone and iPad. The easy-to-use inland waterway maps provide a wealth of information, such as moorings, local shops, bus stops, post offices, laundrettes, doctors, vets, accommodation, places to visit, and much more. The apps don’t need a permanent internet connection and are regularly updated. Ideal for boaters, cyclists and walkers on the move, they now include Trip Tracker to track and record your journey; Logbook to create log entries or notes anywhere on the map and in-app

Feedback for sending updates. You can search for all the points of interest in your vicinity and use the quick distance calculator to see how far away they are – so you won’t get caught out by the ‘Good pub, just a short walk’ sign! The navigable waterways cover 10 regions, including the Norfolk Broads and Scotland at only £5.99 for each region e-canalmapps are available from the AppStore Google Play and from

European Waterways: Map and Concise Directory 4th Edition

Reviewer: Harry Arnold

THERE are a couple of weighty handbooks and a good number of individual guides to the canals and rivers of Europe, plus other maps, but this compact package of 54 pages of detailed information stitched into a heavyweight folder, containing a large fold-out map, is probably one of the handiest general reference works. Waterways covered by both the text and the main map stretch from Ireland and Spain in the west to Russia and the Black Sea in the east and from Norway, Sweden and Finland in the north to Italy, Romania and the Mediterranean Sea in the south. Although in a publication such as this you may be concentrating your search for overseas waterways you will also find Britain’s network, treated in exactly the same manner as the rest. Following a general introduction, on matters like the latest information on openings and reopenings, EU waterway policy, types of standard vessels and a handy reference to European and international organisations with varying degrees of control of waterways; countries are then dealt with alphabetically from Austria through to the UK. Each has a well-written descriptive piece, often covering in detail particular waterways or systems, and also contact details for navigation authorities and main voluntary organisations. There are some good colour photographs but particularly more detailed system maps of areas like the Czech and Slovak waterways – with planned new ‘water corridors’ – Ireland, France and even the good old BCN. There are also some detailed insets on the main map. If you really want to get technical there is a final section containing things like: “Extended ECMT table for classification of inland waterways proposed by PIANC and incorporated in UNECE Resolution No.52.” Although perhaps you just want to cruise through Paris? All this has been produced and updated regularly by someone who knows what he is talking about. That person is David Edwards-May who – with his company Euromapping – is a long-time and acknowledged expert on all things to do with European waterways. David also credits the assistance of other knowledgeable friends in this field and in a nice touch dedicates this edition to the late Glenn Millar, BW, then CRT, economic development manager, who was a great enthusiast for European waterway co-operation. European Waterways: Map and Concise Directory 4th Edition is published by Euromapping and priced at £16. Sold via Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd. Details from or more information from




Compiled by Janet Richardson

Email details of your event to: or send details to: What’s on, Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6JR

A great day out for all the family POP icon, TV presenter and actress Toyah Willcox will headline this year’s Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival entertainment programme. The annual event, which showcases the inland waterways

industry with over 250 exhibitors from across the canal world, takes place at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend May 24-26. Organised by Waterways

Crick provides a showcase for new boats.

World in partnership with the Canal & River Trust and Crick Marina, the show is expected to attract 25,000 visitors. Toyah will be performing her ‘Acoustic, Up Close & Personal’ set at Crick as part of the show’s Saturday evening entertainment programme. Her gig will include renditions of her best loved hit singles, alongside stories from her colourful 35 year career. Day and weekend ticket holders get free access to Crick’s evening entertainment on the days they have booked and, for the first time this year, eveningonly tickets have also been made available for just £6 per person. Crick Boat Show offers a fantastic day out for all the family with new boats to look round, free boat trips, live music, a real ale marquee, free children’s entertainment at the new

waterway wildlife area, and a large variety of food and drink stalls. Show director Peter Johns said: “Following the success of our 2013 show, which attracted record visitor numbers, we are looking forward to welcoming people to our 2014 event. Crick Boat Show combines the best in the canal boat world with a great family day out alongside the Grand Union Canal Leicester Line. “We are delighted to have booked Toyah to headline our Saturday evening entertainment programme and on Sunday Paul Hopkins’ ‘Big O & the Wilburys Tribute Show’ will perform five fabulous tributes to Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Featuring Paul Hopkins as Roy Orbison, they’ll be bringing a great mix of classic songs from

Toyah Willcox is this year’s headline act on Saturday evening.


80s super group The Travelling Wilburys, including Pretty Woman, You Got It, Here Comes The Sun and I Drove All Night.” Crick Boat Show 2014 will be

open from 10am till 6pm every day except Monday, May 26, when it closes at 5pm. Evening entertainment runs from 6pm to 11pm.

CriCk faCt file ● 15th Crick Boat Show – first held in 1999 ● Over 25,000 visitors expected to attend ● 250 exhibitors ● 32,000sq m exhibition space ● 20 food stalls and a large bar ● 20 bands and entertainers ● 50 boats exhibited, including heritage working boats ● Four trip boats offering regular trips ● 300 camping pitches ● Located at Crick Marina, West Haddon Road, Crick, Northants NN6 7SQ ● Directions by road: From M1 Junction 18, take the A428 towards West Haddon, bypassing the centre of Crick Village.

There are lots of boats to look round as well as free boat trips.


● For more information visit call 01283 742950 or visit Visitors can save up to 25% on ticket prices by booking in advance. To book tickets, visit www. or call 01283 742950.


Crick Boat Show is offering Towpath Talk readers 10 chances to win a pair of tickets to the show. Simply fill in your details below, or enter online at before Thursday, April 24.




Postcode ........................................Email ..................................................................................Telephone.......................................................................................................... Terms and conditions apply. Please see for full terms and conditions. The winners will be the first ten names drawn at random. There are no cash alternatives available. On occasion Mortons Media Group Ltd may decide to email/fax you regarding information relating to current offers of products or services (including discounted subscription offers) which we believe may be of interest to our readers. If you do not wish to receive such offers, please tick this box ❏ On occasion Mortons Media Group Ltd may permit third parties, that we deem to be reputable, to contact you by post/phone/fax/email regarding information relating to current offers of products or services which we believe may be of interest to our readers. If you do not wish to receive such offers, please tick this box ❏


A new season starts on the Pocklington Canal

A Child’s Garden of Verse

THE Pocklington Canal Amenity Society’s trip boat New Horizons will start the 2014 season on Sunday, April 6. It will be running 30 minute trips on the canal, departing from Melbourne Arm (200yd walk down the lane at the side of the pub) between noon and 4.15pm every Sunday and bank holiday until the end of October. No booking is required so please pop down and enjoy the gem that is Pocklington Canal. New Horizons is also available for private bookings for longer trips from two hours to all day. The society’s AGM will be held on Tuesday, April 8 at the Black Horse, Seaton Ross.

THE Puppet Theatre Barge brings to life a visual anthology of poems inspired by A Child’s Garden of Verse during the Easter holidays. Suitable for everyone down to three years of age, the production includes two of Stevenson’s poems from this famous collection together with other poems, both old and modern. Shadow puppets and marionettes combine with specially composed music to make this a programme of beauty, poignancy and fun. The poems have been chosen so that both adults and children will find, in the words and images, meaning and enchantment whatever their age. Showing until Sunday, May 18, there are performances at 11am and 3pm on Saturdays and 3pm on Sundays as well as daily at 3pm from Monday, April 14 to Friday, April 25.

PCAS welcomes new volunteers and members to help maintain and improve the canal and raise funds for the continuing extension of navigation towards Canal Head. The next project is to hopefully restore the canal to Bielby Arm. Over the winter the society’s working parties have continued

improvements to many miles of towpath and have also been busy refurbishing the recently acquired weedboat. It is hoped the weedboat will be fully operational during this season improving the navigation and encouraging more visiting boats to the gem that is the Pocklington Canal.

● For more information contact Bob Ellis via email or mobile 07946 209644. Website: trips.html The Canal Head Information Centre in the car park on the A1079 York-Hull Road, opposite the Wellington Oak Public House, will also be open Sundays and Bank Holidays 12-4pm throughout the season. All welcome. A scene from A Child’s Garden of Verse. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Easter trips on the Chesterfield Canal THE Chesterfield Canal Trust will be running a variety of canal cruises this Easter in Retford, Worksop and Chesterfield. On Sunday, April 13, the Seth Ellis will have Easter Egg Hunt cruises from the Hop Pole in Retford (DN22 6UG). All children will get an Easter Egg. Trips will depart on the hour from noon to 4pm, all tickets cost £6. Booking is essential, please ring 07925 851569. On Easter Saturday, April 19, the John Varley will have Easter Bunny Eggstravaganza cruises from Hollingwood Hub (S43 2JP). These will be accompanied by the crazy Easter Bunny. Every child will receive an Easter Egg. The adults will be offered a drink and a hot cross bun. There will also be a picture trail. Trips will depart on the hour

Easter gathering marks start of season

The Easter Bunny greets a young visitor. PHOTO: CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST from 10am to 4pm, all tickets cost £6. Booking is essential, please ring 01246 551035. The Hugh Henshall will be doing trips all day from the Lock Keeper pub in Worksop (S80 1TJ) on Easter Sunday and

WHAT’S ON INAprIl April 1

Worcester, Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society: Purton’s Mulberry Blueprint, how Purton’s hulks helped shaped the D-Day invasion by Paul Barnett. The Meeting Room, Alvechurch Boat Centre, Scarfield Wharf B48 7SQ, adjacent to The Weighbridge pub, 8pm. Information:

April 3

Birmingham Canals Navigations Society: The Waterways of Stoke-on-Trent by Steve Wood. Titford Pumphouse, Engine Street, Oldbury B69 4NL, 7.30pm. Contact Phil Clayton 01902 780920.

April 6

IWA Warwickshire Branch: A walk along part of the Wreake Navigation. Meet at 10.30am at the Leicester Road Sports Ground car park, A607 Melton Mowbray. Contact 01926 403179. IWA Towpath Walks Society, London: Regent’s Canal, King’s Cross – Granary Building – Camden. Starts King’s Cross taxi rank at 2.30pm. Costs £9, £7 student/concs. Contact Roger Wilkinson 02084 589476.

April 8

IWA Middlesex Branch: The Droitwich Ring by Roger Squires. Hillingdon Canal Club, Waterloo Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 2QX. Doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start. Contact Lucy at IWA Chester and Merseyside: Cruising the Antarctic by Capt Derrick Kemp. Tom Rolt Conference Centre, National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port CH65 4FW. 7.45pm. Bar and coffee-making facilities available.

April 9

● The Puppet Theatre Barge is moored at Little Venice, Blomfield Road, London W9 2PF, tube station Warwick Avenue. Ticket prices are: children £8.50, concessions £10 and adults £12, contact the box office on 0207 249 6876,

River Foss Society: Open meeting. Tim Ward will speak on Askham Bog Nature Reserve before the AGM. Strensall and Towthorpe Village Hall, 7pm. IWA Warwickshire: Boating in Less Tranquil Waters by Roger Clay. The Sports Connexion Leisure Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore CV8 3FL. 7.30pm.

Monday (April 20-21). There will be Easter themed quizzes and a small chocolate gift for the children. Trips will be about one hour, all tickets cost £5. Booking is essential, please ring 01246 477569.

THE Canal & River Trust is welcoming the return of almost 100 colourful boats to its popular Easter Gathering and Sea Shanty Festival at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, between Friday and Sunday, April 18-20. This significant event in the boating calendar marks the start of the cruising season where many boats will set off to other parts of the canal network following the festival. Heritage and great stories will come alive throughout the weekend with the gathering of colourful canal boats, music and traditional canal craft by the Waterway Craft Group, children’s activities by Shanty UK and the Waterway Explorers, stalls and more… For the fourth year, Sea Shanty performers from across the country will be performing on boats and in the museum’s restored buildings throughout the festival as well as in concert on Friday and Saturday nights. John Inch, general manager at the National Waterways Museum, said: “As well as the usual highlights, visitors will get the chance to see two

new exhibitions – artist Rob Pointon’s collection and ‘Rob’s Year of the Boat’ paintings and the Ellesmere Port ‘Then and Now’ comparing photographs of how the port was in its heyday with current photographs.” Evening talks arranged by the Boat Museum Society will take place on Friday and Saturday nights with a fundraising music night with Chester Folk Festival stalwarts Full House on Saturday, April 19 in the Tom Rolt Conference Centre. ● Admission to the event is £6.50 adults, £5.50 concessions, £4.50 children which includes access to the rest of the museum. There are additional charges for those wishing to attend the evening concerts. For more information or to book a boat into the festival contact the museum on 0151 355 5017 or visit the website

If you want your event listed in our free monthly What’s On section email your entry to or use the events form at As always please check with organisers on the details of the event before setting out on your journey.

South London IWA: A Day in the Life of a Thames Tug by Richard Thomas. The Primary Room, The United Reformed Church Hall, Addiscombe Grove, Croydon CR0 5LP. 7.30 for 8pm, all welcome. Contact Alan Smith 02082 551581, 07774 890750 or email

April 10

IWA Leicester Branch: A talk by Mary Matts and a ‘treasure hunt’ ending at Bridge 61, to mark the bi-centenary of the staircase flight. Meet at Foxton Canal Museum at 6.30pm. Members and non-members all welcome. Contact Andrew Shephard 07710 362 952

April 11

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire: Hazel’s Rejuvenation, illustrated talk by Chris Leah. Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club, Endon Wharf, Post Lane, Endon, Stoke-on-Trent ST6 9DT, 7.45 for 8pm. Contact Barbara Wells 01782 533856 or Sarah Honeysett 01782 772295. IWA East Yorkshire: The River Derwent, Past and Present by Roger Wormesley. Methodist Church Hall, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 4BD, 8-10pm. £2 inc. refreshments. Contact 01482 845099. IWA West Riding: AGM. South Pennine Boat Club, Wood Lane, Mirfield WF14 0ED. 8pm. Contact 01133 934517,

April 12

River Foss Society: York city centre and CYC boat litter pick. Meet at footbridge to the Foss Islands Road nature reserve at 9.30am for about two hours’ work. Contact Peter Hopwood 01904 768071,

April 12-13

Stourbridge Railway Society and Stourbridge Navigation Trust: Model Railway Exhibition, Bonded Warehouse, Canal Street, Stourbridge DY8 4LU. Open 10am-5pm; admission adults £3, concessions £2, family (2+2) £9, parking free. Boat trips will be available on nb Blackcountryman throughout the weekend (separate charge applies).

Day-Star Theatre: Roses & Castles workshop weekend at Audlem. No experience necessary, 10am-4pm each day. £75 (£25 deposit), materials, lunch and refreshments provided, bring your own item for decoration. Contact Jane Marshall on 01270 811330, or visit River Canal Rescue: Boat and engine maintenance course. Alvechurch Marina near Birmingham. For bookings and information visit call 01785 785680 or email

April 15

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust: The Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway by Martin Connop Price. The Royal Oak, Much Marcle, 7.30 for 8pm start. Everyone welcome.

April 16

IWA Lichfield: Illustrated talk on Irish waterways by Brian J Goggin. Martin Heath Hall, Christchurch Lane (off Walsall Road), Lichfield WS13 8AY. 7.30 for 7.45pm.

April 18-20

St Pancras Cruising Club: Easter cruise to Hanwell via Thames Tideway or canal. Contact cruise co-ordinator Andrew Phasey on 07850 753633,

April 20

IWA Towpath Walks Society, London: Regent’s Canal, King’s Cross – Granary Building – Hitchcock’s Hackney. Starts King’s Cross taxi rank at 2.30pm. Costs £9, £7 student/concs. Contact Roger Wilkinson 0208 458 9476.

April 20-21

Leawood Pumping Station: In steam at High Peak Junction, Cromford DE4 5HN. Information: 01629 823204.

April 21

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcester: Taking IWA Forward by national chairman Les Etheridge. Coombeswood Canal Trust, Hawne Basin, Hereward Rise, Halesowen, West Midlands B62 8AW, 7.15 for 7.30pm. Contact Chris Osborn 01299 832593,

April 22

Derby & Sandiacre Canal Society: History of the Derwent Valley by John Ward. The Wilmot Arms, 49 Derby Road, Borrowash, Derby, 8pm. Admission £2 members, £3 nonmembers.

April 23

IWA Chiltern: London’s More Important River, Limehouse lock keeper Jeremy Batch talks about the history and development of the River Lee Navigation. Little Chalfont Village Hall, Cokes Lane, Little Chalfont, Bucks HP8 4UD. 8pm. All welcome to attend. Contact 01932 248178.

April 24

IWA Chester & Merseyside walk: Marston. The Salt Barge, Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich CW9 6ES. This walk of about 4.6 miles goes through the woods in Marbury Country Park where there will hopefully be bluebells in bloom, along the edge of Budworth Mere and on to the towpath of the Trent & Mersey Canal. OS Explorer 267. Map Reference 672755. Starts 10.15am, open to non members. Lunch can be booked on morning.

April 26

River Foss Society: Foss Walk 2, Yearsley to Coxwold, five miles. Meet at 9.30am in the free cark park at Coxwold, drivers then take walkers to start. Meal in the Coxwold Tea Rooms afterwards. Contact Bob Jowett 01904 764702,

April 26-27

Waterways Craft Guild: Make a Boatwoman’s Bonnet at Black Country Living Museum, Dudley, with Mary Parry. Members £45, non members £52.50. Contact training co-ordinator Julie Tonkin on 01384 569198,

April 28

IWA Milton Keynes: Tooleys Boatyard – past and present by Matthew Armitage, Tooleys Boatyard director. The Milton Keynes Pavilion, Worrell Avenue, Middleton, Milton Keynes Village MK10 9AD (accessed off Tongwell Street V11). Free admission. Contact Rodney Evans 01908 376449


Roving Canal Traders Association announces floating market dates for 2014 By Polly Player

BUILDING upon the success of the first floating market event in September 2013 that saw 21 trading boats of various types plying their wares over the course of a busy weekend outside of Birmingham’s National Indoor Area, the Roving Canal Traders Association (RCTA) has published the dates for several further floating market events taking place during 2014. Floating markets offer an opportunity for licensed trading boats to showcase their goods to new audiences up and down the canal network, as well as providing a valuable opportunity to introduce the general public to their local canal systems, the narrowboating lifestyle, and the work of the Canal & River Trust. Over 2000 visitors attended the Birmingham floating market, the first organised event of its kind, and positive feedback was received from both traders and the general public about the event as a whole. Trading boats of all types are invited to bring their boats and their offerings along to the 2014 floating market events, with

booking in advance via the RCTA required and a nominal fee payable for attendance. The upcoming dates for RCTA floating market events in 2014 are: Alvecote Market, April 18-21 Stone May Day Bank Holiday Market, May 2-5 Braunston Spring Bank Holiday Market, May 23-26 Birmingham Summer Market, June 27-29 AWCC National Celebration Rally, July 11-13 Banbury Late Summer Market, August 1-3 Audlem Summer Bank Holiday Market, August 22-25 Ellesmere Late Summer Market, September 12-14 Any licensed trading boats wishing to attend one or more of these events can book their spot by contacting the RCTA via its website, for an application form or further details. Boaters of all types are also welcome to come along and support the events, which promise to offer plenty of opportunities for socialisation as well as shopping!

A weekend of music and markets for boat and car lovers BOAT owners are being encouraged to visit Droitwich Spa over the May Bank Holiday weekend for the town’s annual St Richard’s Boat and Car Festival. It takes place in the town centre and Vines Park right next to the Droitwich Canal, which was restored in 2011. The canal is easily accessible from the Midlands and Southern waterways networks via the River Severn or Worcester Birmingham canal. The event starts on the evening of Friday, May 2 with live music and a real ale bar and runs until Monday, May 5 at 5pm. Highlights of the weekend include live music and entertainment, medieval re-enactment, Italian market, farmers’ and craft market (Saturday), classic and vintage cars (Saturday and Sunday), real ale bar, art exhibition, stalls and activities. There is a good selection of bands playing on the main

Narrowboat Marmite, trading as Grand Rosettes. PHOTO: MARK EVANS

All aboard for Ship Ahoy By Hugh Dougherty

The St Richard’s Boat and Car Festival takes place right next to the Droitwich Canal. PHOTO SUPPLIED festival stage including The Rambling Jacks, Shady Band, Birmingham Boys and Meet on the Ledge. St Richard’s Festival is an ideal

destination for the bank holiday weekend with plenty to do over the three days and opportunity to visit the historic salt town of Droitwich Spa.

GLASGOW’s Tall Ship, Glenlee, is the venue for Ship Ahoy, a maritime heritage exhibition on Saturday, April 5. The ship is hosting the one-day show for the first time thanks to the Friends of the Glenlee who have brought maritime heritage groups together for the event. Taking part are the West Highland Steamer Club; Model Steamer Club of Glasgow; Clyde River Steamer Club; the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society; Clyde Marine Services and the Coastal Cruising Association. There will be displays of model ships, videos and photographs, while the MacBraynes Circle will provide MacBraynes and Western SMT vintage bus rides from the Riverside Museum to Thornwood Roundabout. David Brown, Friends of the Glenlee chairman, said: “We extend a warm welcome to everyone with an interest in maritime heritage. The event takes place between 10am and 4pm and admission is free. Representatives of the various societies will be delighted to chat to visitors and, of course, there is the chance to explore Glenlee.”

Boat jumble at Beaulieu

● The on-the-day, allinclusive admission price of £9.70 for adults and £7.50 for children gives entry not only to the Boatjumble, but also to the whole of the Beaulieu attraction including the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House. Lower-priced advance tickets can be bought on 01590 612888 and online at

● For further information and booking form visit www. or email

Walk and sail the John Muir Trail AN INVITATION has gone out from the Forth & Clyde Canal Society for a free walk and sail along the John Muir Way from

Auchinstarry between Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch on Saturday, April 26. The event starts at

Follow the John Muir trail on the Auchinstarry walk and sail.


Auchinstarry at 2pm and takes in Bar Hill Roman Fort on the way to Twechar, and cruises home by 5pm. A shorter circular walk with cruise is also on offer for less energetic participants. Paul Carter will lead the walk along the canal and the society’s Voyager will provide the waterborne transport as part of the John Muir Festival, a series of events recalling the Dunbarborn, Victorian environmentalist, who founded the first national parks in the United States of America. ● Anyone wanting to join the event should book a place now by emailing forthandclydecanalsociety

Boat trips at Venetian Marina open day THERE will be chance to win a £200 chandlery voucher in a free prize draw at the Venetian Marina Open Day on Sunday, April 27. Open from 10am until 4pm, the event will feature industry experts, value-for-money narrowboats, refreshments and entertainment. There will also be the chance to take a boat trip – a charge applies – up the Shropshire Union Canal. Everyone who attends and registers will be entered for the draw with other prizes including three family tickets to the Crick Boat Show with moorings or camping and a year’s subscription to one of Towpath Talk’s sister publications. See the marina’s Facebook page for the latest information. Venetian Marina has received a major investment since it was brought out by Whilton Marina Ltd in late 2011. Ten jobs have been created and the narrowboat sales basin has more than quadrupled in size. New non-slip decking has been installed and wi-fi is available to all the moorers.

Venetian Marina on the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich. PHOTO SUPPLIED

BEAULIEU will be holding its 37th annual Boatjumble on Sunday, April 27. Thousands of new and used marine and boating items, spread over 1000 stands, are on sale at competitive prices, with big name chandleries creating special show offers. A new feature this year is the Walkabout Auction – an ‘end of show’ chance to buy and sell offers exhibitors an opportunity to sell off surplus items of stock they don’t want to take home with them. For £2, exhibitors can buy a box to fill with bits (larger items can go alongside), to be auctioned at the end of the afternoon by a guest auctioneer.

The tall ship Glenlee, ‘water venue’ for Ship Ahoy!

More than ever at the Norbury Canal Festival THIS year the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust has again teamed up with the Norbury village community and the Junction Inn to jointly organise the annual May Bank Holiday Canal Festival. Last year’s festival was the most successful yet, with more than 10,000 people attending, and it is hoped to match that again this year. The festival will be open from 10am each day from May 3-5. There will be more traditional stalls than ever before, with some along the canal towpath and others alongside Norbury Wharf, as well as in the garden of the Norbury Junction Inn. Refreshments will be available from the pub, the wharf and from stalls around the site. Other attractions will include boat trips on the canal, a fairground and bouncy castle and a WI tea stall. Radio Stafford will again be transmitting from the event. On Sunday the Burton Borough Brass Band will be playing in the marquee and the traditional canalside church service will be held on Sunday afternoon. Over the weekend there will be a gathering of boat traders, modern narrowboats and restored working boats. Visitors will have the opportunity to look inside some of the boats to see what life is like on board. There will be plenty of activities to keep children occupied including the always popular Wild over Water interactive games relating to canals (see, learning about canal life and its history in a fun way. Each evening in the large marquee there will be a variety of acts. Tickets for Saturday and Sunday will be £5 in advance or £7.50 on the night. They can be bought in advance at the Junction Inn. Saturday evening will be ‘Jammin at the Junction’ with Driftwood, playing acoustic music with a big dollop of soul (, plus two supporting bands.

Having fun at the Norbury Canal Festival.


Sunday evening features the Blues Brothers Band then on Monday Mal Edwards and friends will be singing traditional canal songs. There will be plenty of parking available in a field near to the Junction Inn and two shuttle buses for those who prefer to ride to the event. ● More attractions are still being booked – so watch out for more information at


BITS & BOBS Easter ‘eggs’ with a difference GREETINGS! We watch a lot of ‘telly’ aboard during the winter months and with telly goes snacks. As a nod to Easter I designed a mashed ‘eggplant’ mini-muncher of olive bread toasties topped with Caponata (a fancy name for chopped aubergine known as eggplant in America) on olive bread; it is a good starter for an Easter meal, too, and fits the theme if you call it ‘Eggplant Surprise’. I asked Rexx “if eggs could grow on plants, could dollars grow on trees?” She sent me off to buy a lottery ticket mumbling ‘when pigs fly’.

by Rexx & Phill

April top tip In April we get serious about our plans for summer cruising. We have laminated one of the big, Midland canal system maps and taped it to our dining table top. It makes it easy to plan our routes; we pull out our cruising guides and spread them out to consult while we trace the routes that we will begin to follow sometime in May and bring to a close sometime in October. We plan an exploration of a different region each year and always include a couple of our old favourite stopovers along the way. No matter which company one

chooses, the little cruising books are invaluable because we are able to choose attractions, services, (especially the elusive water points) and some rough timing that is wrapped around numbers and varieties of locks and stopover places along the ponds. Our planning is a work in progress that tops our table for most of the month of April. It reminds us why we have chosen a narrowboat lifestyle and seeing the plans unfold gets us out of the funk of ‘cabin fever’ that ‘wintering’ over can bring.

Gardening afloat Lee Senior’s topical tips for growing your own fruit and veg in the month of April FRESH succulent home-grown peas are one of the treats of growing your own. Over recent years dwarf varieties, specially bred for containers have become widely available. The variety Tom Thumb is a pea I’ve had a lot of success with. It tolerates cold and is perfect for sowing from April to June. This variety requires no staking and the plants will only reach 18in tall, making it suitable for even window boxes. Courgettes are not the first thing that comes to mind for pots but compact

types will succeed in pots 12-15in in size. The secret is to keep courgettes moist but not too wet when it is cold. Sow the seed this month on a windowsill in 3in pots two seeds per pot. Discard the weaker one, then harden off and plant out at the end of May. The F1 variety Midnight is ideal and has the bonus of very few spines. This is an important consideration in smaller spaces. Early potatoes can be planted in containers this month, though keep an eye out for frost which remains a significant risk to tender new growth. French and Runner beans, cabbage and turnips can all be sown this month in gentle heat. Protect the beans from frost.

Phill’s Olive Bread with Caponata

Prep time 10 minutes, cook time 20 minutes, serves 4 plus leftovers

Caponata ● ½ cup olive oil ● 2 medium onions, sliced ● 2 stalks celery, sliced, thinly ● 2 medium eggplant, topped/tailed unpeeled, diced ● 8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped ● ½ jar fire-roasted red bell peppers ● 2 tbsp tomato paste ● 1½ tsp salt ● 1 tsp pepper ● 1½ tsp Chinese 5-spice ● ½ cup capers ● 1 cup pitted green olives ● 1 tsp sugar ● Juice of one lemon ● 1 tbsp brine from the fire-roasted red pepper Bring the oil up to sizzle temp; add the onion and celery and saute until soft (5min) Add the eggplant and continue to saute until it begins to take on a bit of colour (10min). Add the tomato paste and stir to release the flavour. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer (5min). Remove from the heat and let cool. Store overnight for best flavour. Spread on slices of toasted olive bread (see recipe below). Olive Bread 1½ hours rising time, 15 minutes kneading, 30 minutes baking time ● 1 pkg pre-mixed bread mix ● water ● flour ● oil ● 1 cup chopped, black olives

Peas and dwarf runner beans grown in a pot. PHOTO: LEE SENIOR

If you can’t beat it, eat it! By Les Heath

To mix, follow the mixing instructions on the package. Knead the dough for 10 minutes; place in an oiled bowl in a warm place to rise (1 hour) or until double in size. Punch the dough down, knead four or five times, flatten out, add the olives, knead them into the dough. Let rest, shape into an oval loaf. Place on the baking sheet. Make six, deep cuts in the top of the loaf and spread them open. Cover with an oiled sheet of cling film and leave to rise again (3045min). Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF) Gas 6. Brush the bread with olive oil and bake for 35min. Note: for a crusty bottom, place a baking sheet in the oven when preheating and slide the bread on to it when ready to bake. It kind of gives it a jump start. When the bread is done baking turn it out on to a wire rack to cool before slicing and toasting.

Rexx’s Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

Prep time 10 minutes, fry time 10 minutes, bake time 30 minutes, serves 4-6

The purple skins of these egg-shaped globes grow naturally into the beautiful lavenders that celebrate Easter. This variation of ‘eggplant parmesan’ can be done in layers as a casserole to serve guests, or plated for just the two of us with a few slices dipped in sauce, and topped with parmesan. Note: Phill can have his ‘Eggplant surprises’ featured above, but around Easter, for a nibble, I am addicted to those minijelly-beans with their rainbow of colours. I do not share. I am not sorry. I have been known to comb through the shredded grass of others’ baskets to hunt down the last one or two beans that slip down to the bottom. ● 2 medium eggplant (aubergine), topped/tailed, peeled,

sliced lengthwise 8mm/3⁄8in thick

● Olive oil ● flour for coating ● 4 eggs, whisked ● 1 large jar of pasta sauce ● 300g buffalo mozzarella, shredded ● 100g grated Parmesan cheese ● salt to taste ● pepper to taste

Preheat the oven 200ºC (400ºF) Mark 6. Put the pasta sauce on the heat in a small pan. Set up two dipping plates of plain flour and whisked eggs. Dip the eggplant slices first in flour, then in egg, and fry until both sides are golden. Salt and pepper each side as they are cooked and begin to soften; when they turn a golden brown, remove the slices to a kitchen towel and continue to fry/drain the remaining slices. If it is just for the two of us, I dip the fried slices in the pasta sauce, plate, and drizzle with more sauce and some Parmesan. However, for a company casserole, coat the

bottom of a 30x20cm (9x12in) baking dish with a bit of the pasta sauce. Dip the slices in the pasta sauce and place in layers in the casserole dish. Alternate the layers with a coating of mozzarella drizzled with the pasta sauce and sprinkled with salt, pepper and parmesan. Continue the layers, finishing with the parmesan (a topping of mozzarella gets too tough during baking). Bake for 30min. Slice in squares and serve just like lasagne. Fare well!

THIS year will, no doubt, see renewed efforts by groups throughout the country to combat one of the most invasive weeds to blight our waterways. Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera) which was introduced into the UK in 1839, is now becoming a serious problem on our canals and rivers. The plant, which can grow to several metres in height, obviously loves wet or damp ground and spreads extremely rapidly to the detriment of our native plants. One of the reasons for this is the plant’s explosive seed pods which can scatter the contents over a wide area. A single plant can produce more than 1000 seeds which can be catapulted several feet. Birds, walkers and the flow of the waterways also cause the seeds to be spread far and wide. What few people realise is that the plant is edible and that boaters can do their bit (albeit a small bit) to curb the spread of the weed by eating it – particularly the nuisance seeds. The attractive pink flower, which resembles a Snapdragon but is related to the Busy Lizzie, is tackled by work parties before it turns to seed. Once the seed pods are formed a touch or slight breeze could mean that the efforts of the volunteers have been in vain. To collect the seeds carefully place a paper bag over the pods and shake the bag until the seeds can be felt exploding inside. Children on country walks love to see the pods explode but unfortunately this only encourages the spread of the weed. The seeds, once collected, can be used in recipes. They can also be roasted and ground to make a drink while the leaves can be used in salads. Even the stems can be cooked and served with lemon juice and butter. While Balsam-bashing parties continue in their quest scientists in Surrey have been working on a biological solution. They have discovered a rust fungus which seems to attack Himalayan Balsam and no other plant. If safety tests are satisfactory permission to use the fungus will be sought from UK regulators.

Meanwhile, while the experts are trying to get rid of Impatiens Glandulifera you can always eat it. Himalayan Balsam rissoles are a tasty treat. Using 125 grams of seeds, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, cheese and herbs to taste simply follow the normal guidelines for rissoles. Here is a curry recipe you can try and I am grateful to Robin Harford of for being able to use it here. Serves 4 ● Good glug of olive oil ● Large onion, chopped ● 2 garlic cloves, crushed ● 2 chilli peppers, de-seeded and chopped Grated fresh ginger ● 4 tbspns of Himalayan Balsam seeds ● 2 sticks of celery ● 1 large swede ● 1 red pepper, de-seeded ● 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded ● 2 tbsp curry paste ● 2 large tomatoes ● 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes ● 1 sachet of coconut milk Put the olive oil into a large frying pan. Add the onion and chilli and saute for a few minutes until the onion is softened. Add the balsam seeds and stir until they are coated. Chop the rest of the vegetables and tomatoes into 2cm cubes and add to the pan. Add the ginger and stir for five minutes. Then add the curry paste and tinned tomatoes and simmer to reduce. Stir in the creamed coconut, reduce the heat and cook for a further 5min. Allow to stand for another five minutes before serving with salad and naan bread.

The attractive pink flower is tackled by work parties before it turns to seed.





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Boats for sale

1/12TH SHARE 57ft semitrad narrowboat, fixed double, dinette, 2 single chair beds. Isuzu engine, inverter, c/h, 4 weeks per year. Friendly private group, low annual fees. £2995 Tel. 01248 853004 for full info. Staffs.

38FT NARROWBOAT 2-4 berth, ex BCN riveted (Harris’s) main hull section, welded steel counter stern, fully fitted pine cabin, very clean, full working order, sensible offer secures. Tel. 01889 270172; 0781 5024521. Staffs.

45FT CRUISER STERN NARROWBOAT 1999, 4berth, shower, s/f stove, full cooker, fridge, BSC 2016, full survey 2012, re-blacked 2012, Perkins engine, beautiful condition throughout, £32,000 ono Tel. 07752 818724. S Yorks.

57FT BOAT 2004, just been newly spray painted with 2k, engine was serviced March 2014, a new heating system with back bolier has just been fitted, unique kitchen with fridge, ideal live aboard, 2 berth, but can fit 3-4 if cruising. Tel. 07955 442552. Bucks.

CAT’S WHISKER 56ft cruiser stern narrow boat, rebuilt Lister ST3 air cooled diesel engine, gas free - Dickinson Pacific diesel cook stove Squirrel multi-fuel stove, £22,000 Tel. 01527 402360. ihunter @blueyonder. Worcs. 50FT NARROWBOAT Must be seen! Built 2005 by Keith Wood, only been in water since 2011, 4 berth, mod kit/shower room, needs to be seen. Tel. 07720 889346 for more details. N Yorks.

CHARLIE CRUISER refurbished new Suzuki engine, electric start, new canopy, sink, hob, fridge, toilet, can email photos. Must sell. £3750 ono Tel. 07889 943223. Mids.

CRUISER STYLE NARROWBOAT 45ft, 2009, good quality craft, underused, ready for cruising, £38,000. Tel. 01253 810166. Lancs.

DRAGONFLY 55FT 1998, Liverpool boat, semi trad, solid oak diagonal tongue and groove to cabin sides, side hatch, Houdini hatch, Squirrel Morso multi-fuel stove, thermostatically controlled c/h, radiators, new waste tank and macerater toilet, sign written by Andy Russell. Tel. Allison 07754 115744. Shrops.

DUTCH BARGE 2009, 58ft, well designed, spacious, fitted out in white oak and trimmed in ash, Barrus Shire 65 engine, bow thruster, £170,000. Tel. 07974 808277.

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FROBISHER NARROWBOAT Licensed as a constant cruiser sorry, no mooring, Lister SR3 engine, BSC 2016, bottom replayed 2001, open to offers for quick sale. Viewing by appointment only. Tel. 07956 243691. Hebden Bridge, W Yorks.

PARIS NARROWBOAT 62ft semi-trad, Emmeline, 2008, rev layout, bottom blacked Aug 13, BSS Cert til May 16, 4-berth, pump-out toilet, v well maintained, exc cond, suitable live aboard, £62,000 Tel. 07866 133777. Leics.

IDEAL LIVE ABOARD 50ft x 10ft cruiser stern, rear kitchen, lounge, bathroom, bedroom, Squirrel stove with boiler, Isuzu 70, 3400 hours, 1000 litre stainless water tank, £53,000. Tel. 07933 781683. Warks.

S.M. HUDSON TUG ‘Raven’, 54ft, 1997, 8ft deck, full recessed panels, high specification, Beta BD3, Blacked, BSC 2017, £56,500 Tel. Jon 07964 320347. Shrops.

JOHN WHITE 45FT NARROWBOAT built 2004, sleeps 4, Vetus M4.15 engine and gearbox, 12v/240v elecs, diesel c/h plus log burning stove, new full fitted interior, new cratch and cover, Tel. 0750 2032862. christopherjflynn@hotmail.c Staffs.

MAREX CONSUL 7.7 28ft Yanmh, 45ft shaft-drive, diesel engine, sleeps 6, BSC 2016, anti-fouled 2014, engine serviced 2013, new canopy 2011, must be seen, £25,500 Tel. 07547 171339. Worcs.

ERYNNIS 35ft steel cruiser, 2 berth Barrusshire 800 diesel engine, recent hull survey, current BSS vert, s/f stove, calorifier heated by engine, Waeco dual power cool box, £15,000. Tel. 07855 720193. Staffs.

NORMAN 18 built 1978, BSC 2017, new canopy 2006, porta-loo, 2+2 berth, 1998 Yamaha 99, elec start, 4-stroke, £2250 Tel. 01483 724169. Surrey.

FREEMAN 22FT Mk 2, narrow beam hard top, new Neptune 4500 cooker, new cushions/canopy/window rubbers, 1600cc Sea Tiger Ford engine, totally rebuilt, all engine parts brand new, £8000. Tel. 07790 563507. Shrops.

NUTSHELL 70ft, G&T, 2000 shell, new fit-out, 3.5kw generator, inverter, washer, CofC 2016, 6 berth, wood burner, Webasto c/h system with 5 radiators, excellent live aboard, £42,000 ono Tel. Ann or Dennis on 0161 4296925; 07866 962228. Stockport.

SEA MASTER Exc cond, length: 27ft, 1974, 1.8, 4 cyl Thornycroft/ BMC diesel engine, sleeps 4, depth sounder, new canopy 2013, toilet & shower, cooker 2 ring & oven, fridge. Tel. 07967 418591. Essex.

SHETLAND 2+2 GRP CRUISER on twin axle trailer, 1.5 BMC diesel with full recon engine, pump, injectors, starter, new prop etc, 2 ring burner/grill, 1 fixed double, BSC 2016, £3250. Tel. 07848 986071. W Yorks.

SPRINGER STERN 40ft, needs tlc, lovely little boat, 2-4 berth, toilet, shower, fridge, cooker, etc, 4 years Safety Certificate, £16,950. Tel. 07538 161398. hazeldine23@ mail. com Leics.

VIKING 20 20ft, beam 7ft 4in, 1985, 4 berth, cooker, hob, sink, porta-potty toilet, orig gel-coat not painted, marina 15hp, 4 stroke engine. Mooring may be available. £3960. Tel. 0208 8669581. London.

VIKING 26FT CENTRE COCKPIT 6 berth, brand new Honda outboard, 2013, only 20-30 hrs, £8499 ono Tel. 077638 32720 for info. Shrops. 40FT NARROW BOAT 2 cylinder Lister air cooled, completely rebuilt, boatman log burner, Maxima gas boiler needs bottom re plating, £10,000 ono. Tel. 07899 704810. Lancs. 55FT TRAD NARROWBOAT 1991, 4-berth, fitted out in ash with mahogany trims, Squirrel stove and two radiators, Perkins 46hp engine, BSS to 2016, cooker, fridge, £30,000. Tel. 01652 678501. Lincs. 57FT CRUISER STERN 2000, five adult berths, complete, ready to cruise, nearly full tank of fuel, safety certificate till 2016, £35,000 ono. Tel. 07977 374116. Northants. 65FT NARROW BOAT with bespoke open plan interior, c/w private mooring located on the Ashby Canal being sold fully furnished with all kitchen appliances. Mooring has electricity and water on sight, boat certificate just renewed, £75,000. Tel. 07535 677998. Warks. BIG NORTHWICH MOTOR 178 Tadworth, requires partial restoration, for pictures see http://s1226.photobucket. com/user/tadworth 178/slideshow/Tadworth £26,000 for a quick sale.Tel. 07890 604121. Herts. BMC 1.8 good economical runner, regularly professionaly serviced and overhauled last year, new mounts, long engine re-con, 6000 hrs, refurbished PRM gearbox last year, double pulleyed, 75amp alternator for quick charging, needs new loom and gauges, all offers considered, available March. Located Central Midlands. Tel. 07740 863532. B'ham. COLECRAFT TRAD STERN 1991, trad stern, BSS until June 2016, permanent double bed, Lister diesel, serviced by marine engineer, two winter canopies, all excellent condition. £22,500. Tel. 01296 489985. Bucks. HARBOROUGH MARINE CANAL BOAT 40ft, BSC to 2015, 2+2 berth, shower room, Thetford toilet, full Vanette cooker, gas fridge, Perkins 3 cal engine, Earth 100 gearbox, £15,000 ono. Tel. 07563 779028. . NAUTICUS 27FT inboard engine, Seawolf, refurbished interior, cockpit reupholstered, new petrol tank, toilet, fridge, cooker, BSC 2018, mooring available, upholstered, curtains new, £7950. Tel. 01564 793818. Warks.

HISTORIC BOAT fully restored, full length, in working trim but suitable for conversion for a no-nonsense sale, £30,000. Tel. 01564 782516; 07913 761871. Oxfordshire. SHARE FOR SALE on 58ft narrowboat Sandalwood, well maintained, up to 6 berths. Moored near Audlem, 3 weeks booked in 2014, £2200. Tel. 01327 315786. Northants. TRAD STERN 50ft, 1999 BSC Jan 2017, river licence Dec 2014, good cond, last blacked Oct 2012, new prop 2 year ago, £30,000. Tel. 07944 815322 for details. Notts.


GARDNER 4LK Immaculate, show piece, vintage engine, PRM gearbox, two alternators, all Gardner logos & dials, rebuilt 2010 on engine bearer, history, replacement spares list, £16,000 buyer to collect Tel. 07973 460482. Notts. BRITISH SEAGULL outboard engine, long shaft with recoil starter, works fine, £75 ono. Tel. 077130 39947. Walsall, W Mids. MARINE ENGINES Can be heard running, sell for £25. 07858 889858. Northants. YANMAR YSE12 for sale in Staffordshire, complete. Ideal for spares or repair. £300. Tel. Ade 07852 999601. Staffs. VIKING 20ft, new marina, 9.9hp, 4-stroke engine, oven/hob/grill, portaloo £4200 ono. Tel. 07775 827755. Yorks. PETTER DIESEL two cyl. air cooled engine with hydraulic pump for sale. Best offer secures. Tel. 01902 609755. W Mids.

Parts For Sale

CLARKE STRONG ARM engine lift, 1000kg, hardly used, £180. Tel. 07563 188944. Staffs.

10FT WIDE BEAM CANOPY for sale, front and back, navy blue, frame work inc, no tears, nearly new condition. Tel. 01296 433233. Bucks.

DANFORTH ANCHOR brand new and unused, 8kg with Force swivel connector to prevent chain locking, 3m of galvanised chain and approx 5m of rope, 8kg is large enough to do the job, £55. Tel. 01283 740389. Staffs.

STANDARD HOPPER WINDOWS Five 36” x 21”, anodised bronze, three 14” portholes same finish, £300 ono Tel. 07758 634599. Glos.

Wanted BOATER own boat, looking for bi guy to cruise with him this Summer. Tel. 07914 623563. Staffs. DESPERATELY SEEKING FREEDOM! Happy couple, both working, two kids two dogs, looking for a liveaboard to rent/buy. West Midlands based, perm mooring available currently living on a houseboat, please phone Tel. Graham 07903 883971. W Mids. LOOKING FOR PROJECT traditional narrowboat either sunk fire damage or unfinished sail way etc, must be cheap as poss. Tel. 07591 535752. Warks. SOUTHERN MATURE MALE boat owner seeks fit male boating companion. Tel. 07745 479294. Surrey. STOVE TOP OVEN wanted, to fit Morso Squirrel. Tel. 07814 902484. Bucks.

TWIN LISTER FREEDOM Blackstone gearbox, 2-1 reduction; also various JP parts. £3500 ono Tel. 07563 188944 for details. Staffs.

TWO DOUBLE GLAZED leaded window panels, 19cms x 82½ cms x 1½ cms each, suitable for front doors on canal boat, £200 Tel. 07713 177304. W Mids.


19 X 14 THREE BLADE R/h propeller, for Standard 1 & ½ “ shaft, excellent condition, £200. Tel. 07917 114364. Bucks.

DESMO LEGS 2 x 26” brown, 1 x 28” silver, 2 x 32” brown, two table mount silver sockets, two recessed base silver sockets, 4 recessed base brown sockets, £5 each. Tel. 0121 7842343. W Mids.

DVB POTHOLES x 4 (one smoked), 38cm dia, sliders x 4, 112 x 58cm (smaller one 81 x 58cm), vgc, aluminium and quality single glazed glass, runners and catches gwo, can be viewed, £580 ono. Tel. 07427 665875. Leics. 4 GOOD PISTONS BMC 1.5 with con rods £25 each (standard size) also other engine parts from £10 (crank chain). Tel. 07860 688134. Cheshire. 2X BRASS MUSHROOMS 2ft chimney, with hat 1 yr, various. Tel. 07599 990402. Cambs.

FIVE NARROWBOAT WINDOWS All 73cm high, 2 x 96cm long, missing top opening glass, 1 x 98cm long complete, 1 x 79cm long complete, 1 x 91cm long complete, all top opening in vgc £95. Tel. 07702 853910. Notts.

FREEMAN BOAT SIDE WINDOWS Large, £40; small, £20. good cond. Tel. 01932 707165.

FREEMAN CHROME ANCHOR TRAP Can be used on other boats, £2 Tel. 01932 707165. Surrey.

HAND OPERATED WINCH with reduction gear, full working order, suitable for slip way, £175 Tel. 0115 9726855. Notts.

LUCAS BLOCKING DIODE 12v negative earth, £20 ono. Tel. 01543 503687. Staffs.

MORRIS CHAINMASTER overhead electric crane, one tonne lift, £500 ovno Tel. 07563 188944. Staffs.

WHALE SHOWER WASTE PUMP new, boxed, 12v or 24v, £40 ovno Tel. 01932 707165. Surrey.

ELECTRIC BUCKET washing machine, with two buckets, sell for £25 Tel. 01932 358449. Northants.

ANCHOR brand boat fenders, £1. Tel. 01932 707165. Surrey. DOUBLE WHITE STRIP LIGHT 14.5" long, 12v, 310; 6 CHANNELGLAZE WIN- mini dehumidifier, 5A 12v, DOWS 2 x 36 x 18 (non £20; Grapnell 4 prong anopeners), 3 x 36 x 21 (top chor and chain, 3.2kg, £20; hoppers), 1 x 30 x 21 half 14" white steering wheel, frosted (hopper not frosted, £12. Tel. 077910 34695. £10 ea. Tel. 01926 810757. Cambs. Warks.

Selling your boat is



ANCHOR 14kg with 8 metres of heavy duty chain,13 metres of white sinking rope including shackles, as new, unused, cost £120, sell for £60. Tel. 01270 368285. Cheshire. CLARKE FG3000 petrol generator, as new only used once, two 230v and one 12v outlets, reason for sale - no room on boat, price was £265 brand new, will accept - £180. no offers and buyer collects. Tel. 0770 3049202. W Mids. ESPADA CANOES X2 racing type 16ft 6" length fibreglass, no paddles, external rudders need repair, otherwise good condition, £35. each; may deliver. Tel. 077130 39947. W Mids. FIRST MATES GUIDES x 8, £20; Imray guides x 4, £20; Imray Fen guides x 2 with windlass/key, £20; Eco fan 2 blade, £60; large life ring, £25; Hebble spike, £10; knuckle brass tiller bar with ash handle, £70. Tel. 07950 832060. Leics. FIVE SWITCHED halogen down lights, brass, brand new, boxed, buyer collects, £10. 01926 810757. Warks. HONDA 2.0I SUITCASE 240/12 generator, professional LPG conversion, very economical! one season's light use so vgc, includes regulator, hoses and 2 13kg cylinders, retail £1400 - selling £875 ono. Tel. 07538 693830. Lancs. LISTER HR2 not marinised, air cooled, good runner, new rings, b/end bearings, good engine, £495. Tel. 01205 480693; 07948 304584. Lincs. PAIR NAVIGATION LIGHTS plasitc, red/green, 13 x 6cm, £10; sealed oil syringe with 200mm suction tube, metal, £10; Roberts Elise DAB radio, £30. Tel. 077910 34695. Cambs.



BUOYANCY AID as new. £5. Tel. 01932 707165. Surrey.

COVERED CUSHIONS black leather from sofa bed, 2 no squab, 5 no back, £150; timber frame also available, Tel. 07780 605617 for sizes etc. Staffs.

HONDA OUTBOARD OWNERS manual, as new condition. £8 Tel. 01932 707165. Surrey.


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GLEMBRING c/h hot water diesel drip heater, like Reflex, stainless steel body, flue & tanks, 5 as new radiators, £175. Tel. 07884 480638. Derbys. HAMLET HARDY 4 multifuel stove, brand new, never used, c/w 1 metre of 4" stove pipe, instruction manual and tub of black fire clay. Collection from Shavington. £250. Tel. 07577 387427. Cheshire. INTERNATIONAL INTERTUF 16 hull blacking, 2 x 5 litre tins, £60 ono. Tel. 01977 683643. Yorks. INTEX AIR BED Queen size, inflates in 3.5 mins, built in high volume, 240v pump, as new, £40. Tel. 01270 524579. Cheshire. PORT HOLE BUNGS 2 x WOODBURNER STOVE I hardly used moss green have purchased a larger velour with zipped covers, stove so my surplus one is size = 15" dia x 2" thick, exfor sale, it has had little use cellent condition, £20 pair. and is in vgc, this wood Tel. 01354 693579. Cambs. burner will taken longer THETFORD PORTAPOTTI than normal logs, £130 465 toilet with push button buyer collects Tel. 07990 flush, used but spotlessly 778420. Staffs. clean, £20 ono. Tel. 01926 810757; 07986 133122. Warks. BOUND-BACK COPIES of TILLERPIN brass KingWaterways World, 1983/ fisher, £12; canal related 1984/1986, also loose books, assorted, £2 each; copies 1974/1985/1988/ Canal Book of Knots, £3; 1 9 9 0 , b u y e r c o l l e c t s , brass fire trivet, wood hanOffers. Tel. 07908 935231. dle, £5; dinner plate mats, Lancs. boat pictures (4), £4 set; BUBBLE DIESEL STOVE brass horse bell on stand, 5kw, c/w flue pipe, chimney £10; tiller arm knotted tascollar and manufacturers sels, £3 each. Tel. 01773 handbook, good condition, 744538. Derbys. T & M Shardlow, £200 ono. WAECO 12/24 volt, 80ltr Tel. 07966 670751. Derbys. fridge, as new, little used, DEBLASSI FOLDING less than 18 months old, BIKES 2, good condition, £350 ono. Tel. 07769 little used, £50. each or 321147. Staffs. both for £75; buyer to col- WATERWAYS WORLD full lect. Tel. 07767 472254. collection from first edition Notts. 1972, buyer collect - offers? SHOWER TRAY 30" x 30", Downsizing so boss says concrete base, used but they must go to good home very clean and good condi- please! Tel. 01323 639525. tion. 01926 810757. Warks. E Sussex.

MORCO D61B water heater including flue kit, new April 2013, hardly used, as new condition, £150. Tel. 07715 581957. Cheshire. OUTDRIVE by Sillette Transidrive, c/w propeller, stored FRIDGE FREEZER Shore20 years, £350. ovno Tel. line Model RT143 12 24v, 01706 347880. Lancs. ht 1160mm, width 480mm, depth 530mm, 89 ltr fridge , a/defrost, 29ltr freezer, rev door. interior light, white, PartsWanted 2.1 amp/hr, 2 yrs old, 2-WHEELED TRAILER 23- £400. Tel. 07711 489849. 26ft long, up to 2000kg boat Dorset. weight, cash waiting. Tel. 01757 707367. Yorks.

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Crackdown planned to beat the fraudsters who abuse the CRT’s online mooring auction system By Polly Player

THE Canal & River Trust is currently working on changes to the online mooring auction system, which allows boaters and prospective boaters to bid on mooring vacancies across the network. Currently, the system as it stands is widely open to abuse, as any person can register on the website, potentially

using false details, and bid on available vacancies. This has created a situation where it is possible for a person to register two sets of false details along with one set of genuine details, and fraudulently win a mooring auction at the reserve price. By using the two false or ‘shill’ identities to bid up the auction to an unrealistically high amount after the

Mooringauctions factand figures ● The guide price for mooring auctions is established by taking into

● ● ● ● ● ● ●

account the market rate for other moorings in the area, including marina moorings, other types of private moorings and CRT’s online moorings within the same area. The pricing of auction moorings in any given area is reviewed annually, with an in-depth market review for every CRT-managed mooring site undertaken every three years. The auction reserve on newly offered moorings is set at 90% of the guide price. When a mooring is listed on the auction site multiple times and does not sell, the Trust reduces the reserve price to 75% of the guide price. Since the online mooring auction system in its current form started in 2009, 2217 auctions in total have sold. 1245, or 56% of these, were sold at the reserve price. Of the 2217 sold auctions since the start of the current mooring auction system, 2052 were successfully completed, and 165 were defaulted on. Of the 165 defaults during this time, the default fee was only successfully recovered from 38 bidders, or 23% of all defaulting bidders.

‘genuine’ bid has been placed at the reserve price, other genuine bidders would effectively be locked out of the auction. When the first false bidder then defaults on their auction win, the mooring is offered to the next highest bidder, the second false identity, and when they too default, the mooring is sold to the final link in the chain, the ‘genuine’ bid identity, at the reserve price. While CRT charges a forfeit of 5% of the guide price for the mooring to bidders who default on their win, currently, this has proven to be unenforceable in the vast majority of cases, as bidder identities are not required to be backed up by the bidder’s genuine details. CRT’s head of direct managed moorings, Jenny Whitehall, states that since the online mooring auctions system in its current form started in 2009, a total of 165 auctioned moorings were not completed, and of these, the default fee was only successfully recovered from 38 bidders. In order to deal with the multiple issues associated with the ability to register and bid anonymously and the opportunities for fraudulent activity that this enables, CRT has announced that changes to the existing website


Try boating for free

registration and bidding system are currently in the pipeline. In the future, CRT intends to tie registration of the mooring auctions website to the potential bidder’s details as registered with CRT, in order to stop the use of false identities and potential fraudulent bidding activity. For potential bidders who do not hold a customer account with CRT, such as people currently boating on non-CRT waters or those in the planning stages of a boat purchase, the trust intends to issue customer numbers to these people to allow bidding, in exchange for a small fee. Any customer or potential customer who then defaults on an auction win will be obliged to pay the mentioned 5% forfeit fee, which will be pursued via CRT’s usual debt recovery channels in the case of evasion. In the meantime, CRT has pledged to investigate suspicions of mooring auction abuse or false bidding. Any person who suspects potential fraudulent activity or the artificial manipulation of CRT’s moorings auctions system is encouraged to contact Siobhan Collins, mooring sales administrator, on 01908 351886 or by email: Siobhan.collins@canalriver

Boat horse Chelsea with Corinne Rose of Arraslea Shires. PHOTOS: FRIENDS OF CROMFORD CANAL

Public horseboating days

Boat horse Chelsea with handler Corinne Rose setting off with narrowboat Birdswood from Cromford Wharf.

Boat listing moving to new web home THE boat listing that has been a feature of Jim Shead’s Waterways website since 2005 has been transferred to Nick Atty’s Canal Plan AC site. Jim Shead said: “The time is right to hand over this unique and much used listing of all the boats registered on Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency and Broads Authority navigations. I chose the Canal Plan AC site because it is a long established and successful site with the right IT skills and is constantly improving its content. I would like

to thank all the navigation authorities for their past cooperation.” Nick Atty said: “The two sites, as two of the oldest waterways websites, have had a friendly relationship for many years, and CanalPlan benefited greatly in the early days from both Jim’s data and his publicity for the site. “We’re delighted to be able to provide a home for this data, and we can see some interesting opportunities for new features now we have boat and distance information in the same place.”

VANDALS sawed off the wooden head of a horse sculpture and then left it lying by the side of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Skipton, writes Geoff Wood. Resident Melissa Abbott found the head as she walked with her two dogs along the towpath. Now two local businessmen have put a £500 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of the offenders.

Tidal stretch is leased

THE Crown Estate and the Lymington Harbour Commissioners have completed a new lease for the tidal stretch of the Lymington River in Hampshire. The lease, which will last for 25 years, will facilitate the ongoing management of some 1600 river moorings, walk-ashore pontoon moorings and enable the Harbour Commissioners to further invest in protection works to secure the long term future of the harbour.

A WHEELCHAIR route to Standedge Visitor Centre at Marsden, West Yorkshire, has opened for the summer season with blooms all the way, writes Geoff Wood. Volunteers working beside the Huddersfield Narrow Canal helped plant 3000 flower bulbs and the opening day also included a craft workshop and a beekeeping demonstration. The onemile circular route was opened by Marsden Walkers Are Welcome (MWAW) following a £50,000 grant from Community Spaces and help from Kirklees Right of Way Unit and the Canal & River Trust. The flat route has benches and leaning posts every 100m and 12 metal nature plaques.

Sunday motor cruises. Full details of trip times and fares are at In addition, schools in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire can enjoy the Birdswood horseboating experience on Tuesdays, June 24 and July 8. The boat can seat up to 35 pupils plus teachers and helpers. Contact Schools Liaison Officer Judy Berry at for details.

Easter Sunday and Monday, April 20-21 Early May Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday, May 4-5 Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8 Celebrating Cromford Sunday, June 22 Sunday July 6 Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3 Saturday and Sunday, October 4-5 Saturday and Sunday, November 1-2

Carving beheaded

Canalside circular

Chelsea wins a place on the Cromford team A STURDY 13-year-old Dales x Clydesdale mare called Chelsea was the star of successful horse-drawn passenger boat trials on the Cromford Canal on Monday, March 17. She pulled 70ft heritage narrowboat Birdswood from Cromford Wharf through High Peak Junction to Leawood Pump House at a quicker pace than ever achieved under motor power. And then she hauled the 21 tonne boat back again – all without undue effort. Chelsea will be the key player on the Friends of the Cromford Canal (FCC) team that is bringing horseboating back to this previously unused waterway. Lance and Corinne Rose of Alderwasley-based working horse specialist Arraslea Shires are new to horseboating, too, so Monday’s outing represented a steep learning curve for all concerned. With trials concluded satisfactorily, the FCC has just announced 14 public horseboating days for the 2014 season. These special days are in addition to nb Birdswood’s weekly Wednesday, Saturday and

DRIFTERS Waterway Holidays is offering people the chance to try canal boating for free at 15 of its bases in England and Wales over the weekend of April 12-15. The event, which aims to encourage people to try canal boating, is part of the British Marine Federation’s nationwide ‘On the Water’ campaign. Drifters’ taster sessions will include boat tours, holiday discounts and free trips on skippered boats. For details of all ‘On the Water’ events, visit

Gemma Bolton, Toby Gumm, Stephanie Pay and Jenny Black in training. PHOTO: IWA

Support mounting for team’s tough fund-raising challenge

FOUR members of the Inland Waterways Association’s head office staff are hard at work training for the 50 mile Acheman Challenge along the Grand Union Canal to raise funds for a new excavator for IWA’s Waterways Recovery Group. As reported last month Toby Gomm, Stephanie Pay, Gemma Bolton and Jenny Black are appealing to the public to support the cause and as we went to press more than £3400 had been pledged towards their target of £5000. The group regularly run during lunch and outside of work, as well as attending gym sessions. As the weather improves and the evenings become lighter the group hopes to get out on their bikes more in the lead up to the event which starts on April 5. To keep up to date with the participants’ preparation check the Acheman Challenge page at or follow IWA on Facebook and Twitter. ● You can sponsor the team: Online, via Virgin Money Giving By text, text ROLT46 followed by the amount in pounds e.g. “ROLT46 £10” to 70070 By phone, call Toby Gomm at IWA’s Head Office on 01494 783453 By cheque, payable to The Inland Waterways Association and sent to Acheman Challenge, IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA Alternatively, you can fill out a form to pledge your support and give your donation after the challenge has been completed. After the event, pledged donations can be paid by cheque or over the phone, call 01494 783453, by April 19.

Lighthouse to relight?

THE UK’s only inhabited, inland lighthouse, could be lit up again, thanks to a £450,000 plan to convert 200-year-old Bona Lighthouse on the Caledonian Canal into holiday homes, writes Hugh Dougherty. Scottish Canals, the Vivat Trust and Historic Scotland have joined forces to push the project forward which assures the future of the lighthouse. The ‘B’ listed building, which had fallen into disuse, is situated at Lochend, where the canal passes into Loch Ness.

Thames sketching

SKETCHING narrowboat trips on the River Lea are being held by the National Maritime Museum in association with river conservation charity Thames21 on Sunday, April 20. They will take place from 10am12 noon, 12-noon to 2pm and 2-5pm, cost £10 per place. For bookings call 0208 312 6608 or visit

President sales role

THE Friends of President are hoping that one or more of their number will take over the running of the sales stand this summer. It is an important role as it enables much-needed funds to be raised which will be much in demand with work on Kildare scheduled for next winter.


Staying safe on your boat

Seek assistance before moving grounded boats says River Canal Rescue

Following last month’s top 10 Boat Safety Scheme failure points, Clive Penny of the Association of Boat Safety Examiners looks at number one, ventilation, in more detail. VENTILATION is very important. After all, every fuel burning appliance needs air to work. The amount of air required depends on the type of appliance as well as the addition of us, people. The formula for calculating the fixed ventilation requirement (in sq mm) is as follows: = [2200 x U] + [650 x P] + [550 x H] + [440 x F], where: U = input rating for all unflued appliances (incl. cookers) (in kW) P = number of persons for which the accommodation space is designed H = nominal output rating of all open-flued solid fuel appliances (in kW) F = input rating for all open-flued appliances (in kW) For example, let’s take a boat that has the following: A Vanette 4000 hob 6.55kW 14,410sq mm A Vanette 7000 oven 3.3kW 7260sq mm A solid fuel stove 4kW 2200sq mm 4 berths 2600sq mm Total ventilation requirement 26,830sq mm

Calculation diagram for a mushroom grill.

This ventilation requirement then needs to be split between high and low level. High level ventilation is often provided by mushroom type vents on the roof. Low level is often provided by grills in the doors or bulkheads. An examiner has to calculate the free air available through each vent. Let’s say that this boat has four traditional style brass mushroom vents. In the example each mushroom has 5900sq mm giving 23,600sq mm. However, if on the inside of the boat the mushrooms are covered by an ornate grill, then the examiner may reduce this by say 50%, 11,800sq mm in this case. Also any mushroom that can be closed will not be counted. The free air flow through low level grills is calculated by measuring the gap in each louvre. A typical grill made up of 10 louvres, if each measures a 120mm x 6mm gap, it gives 7200sqmm. Let’s say our boat has one in both bow doors and one in the rear bulkhead, totalling 21,600sq mm. So our boat needs 26,830sq mm, split between high and low, 13,415sq mm each. As you can see, in this example, our boat has more than enough total ventilation. But, in the case where the mushroom vents have ornate grills, then the high level ventilation falls below the 13,415sq mm required. As you can see, each boat has to be calculated on an individual basis. ● More information can be found on my website: or you can email me directly: Your local member of the Association of Boat Safety Examiners can be found at and will be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist in any way they can.

Taking responsibility for water safety THE time has come, after 40 years, to decide who carries the responsibility for effective water rescues, says the creator of the BELL lifeline. In 1973 John Rinfret invented his unique throwing line, named the Balcan Emergency Lifeline (BELL), which was designed to allow anyone to throw it accurately up to its full length of 40m. Launched and first trialled on the pool at the 1974 London


Boat Show, it was quickly recognised as a vast improvement on all traditional types of lifesaving equipment, due to its greater length, and has since sold thousands of units globally and remains superior to other modern throwing lines which reach only 20m. Since its launch, Balcan has received numerous reports of rescues that could not have been performed without using the BELL, due to the casualty’s distance from the shore and difficulty in reaching with alternative equipment. The variety of rescues reported to Balcan have shown (all in excess of 20m) that the distance a line can be thrown is the vital aspect of effective lifesaving equipment. This said, 40 years later, ineffective equipment is still being used across the country to attempt water rescues. With this in mind, John is suggesting that BELLs should be used by all organisations involved in safety and rescue activities. “There is an obvious difference in attempting a water rescue using a 40m lifeline and using a 20m line,” he commented. Despite this, few FRS organisations include BELLs in their safety kits – jeopardising the lives of those in danger of drowning. “With this in mind, I’m calling for rescue services across the country to think about their rescue kits and ask the question – can I reach a casualty quickly, effectively and safety using my standard equipment? If the answer is no, maybe the time has come to change practices and look towards different apparatus to safeguard correct and proficient rescue procedures.”

Demand is high for RCR boat and engine maintenance courses BOAT owners interested in signing up for River Canal Rescue’s two day boat and engine maintenance courses this year need to book early as spaces are filling fast, advises managing director Stephanie Horton. She said: “A few spaces are still available on the May 17-18 course, however, demand tends to peak just before the summer and continues through to September. We always receive a lot of enquiries via our stand at Crick in May, so it’s wise to book now to avoid disappointment.” The courses cover basic boat

engine maintenance and boat electric systems and suit all backgrounds, particularly DIY fans and those keen to develop their knowledge and skills. Held at Alvechurch marina near Birmingham and run by Keith Duffy (ex RCR engineer) and Howard Williams (electrical specialist), classroom and workshop topics include: diesel engines, transmissions, boat plumbing, electrics, lay-up and re-fit procedures.

To ensure participants gain more ‘hands-on’ experience alongside the theory, four engines are provided. The Maintenance courses cost £100 and after the May session (April is fully booked), will be held on July 12-13, August 16-17, September 13-14 and October 25-26. A follow-on course, Boat Electrics, taking a more in-depth look at marine diesel engines is also available at £130.

Leave boat rescue to the experts, advises RCR. PHOTO SUPPLIED BOAT owners keen to move displaced vessels which have been grounded as a result of the high water levels are being urged to seek assistance before attempting to move them. The advice comes from River Canal Rescue managing director Stephanie Horton who has found an increasing number of customers appear keen to take matters into their own hands. She commented: “We recently had a call from the wife of one of our more elderly customers pleading with us to stop her husband from wading into the river Thames in order to try and free their 26ft cruiser which was listing severely due to its moorings being flooded and the ropes left too tight. “Having explained the importance of identifying the optimum time to undertake a rescue attempt and the associated hazards, the customer relented and decided to wait until one of our teams arrived on site to assess the situation. What started as an assessment visit ended up as a rescue – which we did for free. Our customer still insisted on assisting us though. He was so relieved his boat, which would have sunk, was saved he gave the engineer his new waders.

He only bought them in order to get to the boat.” Stephanie continued: “At the end of February, a boat owner jumped into the river Thames at Abingdon and swam after his 60ft narrowboat after witnessing it breaking its moorings. Luckily a lock keeper saw what was going on and rescued the boat owner. By this time however, the owner injured his arm and had to go to hospital. “He called us before seeking treatment as although between them they managed to secure the vessel, the boat had caught on something under the water. When the engineer attended to see why the propulsion failed he found the prop shaft had come away when it hit something.” She concluded: “It’s only natural to want to protect your boat and possessions but sometimes it’s better to take a step back and consider the potential risk to yourself and others who may have to rescue you. RCR is here to help in an emergency; we have three teams and can be on site within hours if required... so make that call first.” ● To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or phone 01785 785680.

Thousands of boat owners affected by extreme weather says insurer BOAT insurer Haven Knox-Johnston estimates more than 8000 boat owners from across the UK have had to write-off or sustained damage to their craft as a result of the unprecedented ‘weather event’ during December and January. Claims hotspots include marinas and private moorings on the Medway and Thames and coastal areas of Cornwall, Dorset and Sussex. The firm reports claims notifications are typically for: ● Third-party liabilities whereby a craft has been damaged by another boat. ● Hull and external damage to boats which have been lifted from their moorings by rising water and dropped elsewhere (often on top of each other), once levels recede. ● Internal water and engine damage caused by lines too taut to accommodate water level changes, causing swamping and in cases, total submergence. ● Total losses with craft beyond economical repair as they cannot be accessed or raised. ● Damage from breaking finger pontoons and swinging moorings. Haven Knox-Johnston believes it has one of the largest claims teams in the UK and is the only firm to employ an on-site claims specialist

● To find out more visit call 01785 785680 or email Moved by rising water levels.

Allington Marina’s Adrian, left and Peter Larkin, centre, with Antony James from Haven Knox-Johnston. PHOTOS SUPPLIED whose role is to visit claimants in their locations. Antony James visited eight marinas and a number of private mooring locations in the Medway region to help business and craft owners progress their claims. He commented: “Within this area alone, we identified over 250 clients who could be at risk, so it was important to be visible, provide reassurance, liaise with marine surveyors and other thirdparties, offer support and give help when and where it was needed most.” To help clients minimise their losses in regions overwhelmed by the recent water surges, the insurer emailed all customers advising where Antony would be and offered damage limitation advice and claims assistance. Clients unable to reach moorings in areas he was visiting asked him to give feedback on any damage, take photographs and kick-start the claims process. He added: “I suspect the damage would have been far worse had it not been for the quick thinking of the local communities; everyone worked together and in many cases, executed fantastic disaster management strategies.”


Creating new habitats along the ‘River of Life’ By Elizabeth Rogers

THE first stage has now been completed in a project on a stretch of the River Thames near Wallingford, South Oxfordshire, to create a new wetland habitat. The ‘River of Life’ project is taking place on 50 hectares of land that belongs to the trust, alongside 2.5km of riverbank. The project is a joint initiative of the Environment Agency and the Earth Trust. Julia Simpson, the Environment Agency’s area manager, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the

Earth Trust on this exciting landscapescale project. The new habitats will play an important role in getting the River Thames into good ecological condition. “This is the largest habitat-creation project on which we are currently working on the River Thames floodplain. It will dramatically enhance the environment for both wildlife and people.” Environment Agency surveys have shown that this stretch of the river is currently failing to meet standards set for fish populations under the requirements for the Water Framework Directive. These new works should

result in a significant improvement in fish survival in the river, with the backwaters being able to provide valuable fish and early fry refuge habitats. The scheme will also lead to an improvement of the quality of the river water, and the new habitat creation will help to protect many aspects of threatened wildlife, safeguarding it for now and for future generations. The project is expected to take several years, during which the area of land will be converted from speciespoor permanent pasture to habitats identified as being of high-conservation value.

Safe haven

Birds such as the yellowhammer will benefit from the new habitat.

PHOTO: iStock

Cygnets on Thrupp Lake, Radley.


Wetland habitats are considered to be among some of the most biologically significant in the world but are decreasing at a rapid rate, with a consequent effect on many species. Mammals such as the water vole, bats and otters, birds such as the skylark, yellowhammer and corn bunting, and many invertebrates and amphibians will benefit from a new habitat that will link with another area of trust land that is of great importance for wildlife.

IN BRIEF Cormorant control A juvenile reed warbler.


Once the work is completed, new recreational and educational opportunities will become available. “The sheer size of the wetland we plan to create and the opportunity we have to provide a safe haven for vulnerable wildlife make this a project of national significance,” said Earth Trust chief executive Jayne Manley. The first stage has included the creation of seven new ponds, two reed beds and three new backwaters, followed by two more backwaters and a fen. The work has resulted in more than 15,000cu m of soil being taken out of the floodplain which will help to create additional flood-storage for the area. Despite the area having the appearance of a construction site there have already been herons and other water birds seen investigating the new wetland features. Subject to funding, the next stage of seeding the surrounding lowland meadows with wild flowers and the planting of 2.6 hectares of new wet woodland is planned to start in the spring. The final stage will be the completion of new permissive footpaths and the preparation of information features.

THE Angling Trust has concluded negotiations with the Government on the implementation of new measures to improve the protection of vulnerable fish stocks from predation by cormorants and goosanders. These birds can eat between 1-2lb of fish every day, collectively more than 1000 tonnes every winter. Measures will begin with the funding of three fisheries management advisors (FMAs), to be employed by the Angling Trust from April. They will gather more accurate and up to date information about the number of birds in each catchment.

Crayfish sanctuary THERE are early signs of success

for a project to provide sanctuary for a creature which had almost disappeared from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, writes Geoff Wood. White-clawed crayfish virtually died out because of an invasion of more aggressive American crayfish, but a sanctuary for 30 examples of the local species was found in a pond nearby – now a male has been caught and pronounced healthy by environmentalists. Environmental Alliance spokeswoman Beth Allcock said: “We are pleased that a healthy male has been checked in the pond. This is good news for the future of the species locally.”

Volunteers wanted

Working to create wetland habitats alongside the River Thames.


A female common darter dragonfly among the reeds. PHOTO: JO CARTMELL

Mammals such as the water vole will also benefit.


New ponds have been created. PHOTO: EARTH TRUST

Pocklington Canal wildlife project wins heritage lottery cash A PROJECT to breathe new life into one of Britain’s most important canals for wildlife and heritage is a step closer after winning initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The scheme, involving a number of partners, aims to improve and safeguard the Pocklington Canal for future generations. In particular the project will protect important wildlife habitats along the canal repairing the beautiful and iconic 200-year-old Church Bridge and reinterpreting a distinctive swing bridge. Mark Penny, chairman of the Canal & River Trust’s North East Waterway Partnership said: “The Pocklington Canal is really special in that no matter where you are on the towpath you’re almost certainly standing in an area of environmental or historical significance.” The Canal & River Trust in partnership with East & North Yorkshire Waterways Partnership, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society and Natural England has been awarded development funding of £47,100 to help progress their plans to apply for a full grant of almost £500,000.

The Pocklington Canal, which runs for 9.5 miles between Canal Head, near Pocklington, to the River Derwent in East Cottingwith, is a real gem with virtually the entire length of the canal falling within one of three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). What’s more, all nine locks and all four road bridges are Grade II listed making the canal one of the nation’s most interesting waterways. As well as the works to protect the ecological and historical character of the canal, the project will also encourage members of the local community to appreciate its significance and to become actively involved in its care. The project will look to improve access to and along the canal, as well as organising events and activities to engage and support local people. The canal is a popular location for walkers, bird watchers, anglers and budding photographers as well as the occasional boater. The canal is particularly important for aquatic plants, birds, waterfowl, and invertebrates – including 13 different species of dragonfly and damselfly.

The new swing bridge on the Pocklington Canal. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES ● The canal was built in the 19th century to transport coal, lime, fertiliser and industrial goods to Pocklington, and agricultural produce out to the fast-growing towns of West Yorkshire. During the middle part of the last century the canal fell into disuse and

became unnavigable. Despite plans in the 1950s to turn it into a dumping ground for chalk sludge, the canal survived with the section from the River Derwent to the Melbourne Arm being restored with the help of the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society.

A CAMPAIGN is under way in South Yorkshire to stop rivers being choked by invasive plants such as the Himalayan balsam, writes Geoff Wood. Volunteers are being sought by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to weed out non-native plants along the Rivers Don, Dearne and Rother. Project officer Jon Dunster said: “Invasive plants are some of the biggest threats to biodiversity today as they outcompete our native species and cause riverside erosion which can contribute to flooding risk. They can also clog up waterways which can affect users such as canoeists and anglers. It has been proved that controlling their numbers is effective.”

Ratty’s retreat

AN OAK information display on the Shropshire Union Canal celebrates some of the rarest wildlife residents, writes Geoff Wood. The Cheshire Wildlife Trust has unveiled information about the water-vole in the canalside display at Nantwich Marina. Whereas water-voles have declined in numbers, they cling on in parts of Cheshire. Dr Vicky Nall, the trust's water-vole officer, said: "Once we were sure we had a good population of water-vole. We wanted to share the information with the people who visited the canal and the nearby residents."

Roach relocated

MORE than 1200lb of roach have been on the move to two new homes in West Yorkshire, writes Geoff Wood. The fish were netted at a lake in Batley and then moved to the Calder & Hebble Navigation and the nearby Longbottoms Dam. A spokesman for the Environment Agency said the transfer would allow a more even distribution of the species.

104 ON SCOTTISH WATERS with Hugh Dougherty

Murphy’s the man at the Crinan Canal

Hugh Dougherty meets the manager who has now finally found his dream job CRINAN Canal manager Joe Murphy’s up against it on the wild December day I met him. He’s had no power overnight in his flat at Crinan basin, thanks to an area-wide cut caused by gale-force winds.

Joe Murphy, right, with two of his team, Alex Selfridge and Mark Wilson at Crinan. PHOTOS: HUGH DOUGHERTY

His trusty operations and maintenance men, Mark Wilson and Alex Selfridge, have been out since 5am, keeping a weather eye on water levels in the canal thanks to hours of howling winds and torrential rain. Waves are crashing against the sea lock gates, the craft moored in the basin are straining at their moorings. Spray, from an angry Sound of Jura, is lashing the lock gates. Worst of all, Joe’s landline to Ardrishaig area office is down as are all mobiles. But, says Joe Murphy, well wrapped up against the biting cold: “I love it here. No day’s the same and, since I started as canal manager in August, I’ve enjoyed the job thoroughly. This is the one I’ve always wanted. The Crinan Canal is short, but it’s wonderful. I feel as if I’ve come home.”

Murphy’s the Man, Joe’s in charge on the Crinan.

The new Crinan eco-friendly facilities, including showers and toilets, none of which discharge into the sea, will be open for spring.

Home for Murphy has been portable throughout his 58 years. Born in England to an Irish father and English mother, he went to Ireland when he was seven, doing his schooling there with the Christian Brothers near Limerick, moving back to England when he was 19, and becoming a civil engineer. “I moved about in the profession,” he said. “I worked on the Channel Tunnel and many motorway projects before my last job as principal engineer with the North Wales & Border Waterways at Northwich. Crinan is a smaller set-up, but, with 3000 boat movements annually, we’re busy, and I’m keen to develop the

canal further. It’s a pleasure to work in this scenic setting and with Scottish Canals. It’s a very vibrant organisation which encourages developments.” Joe has an enthusiastic core team of 12, with 22 seasonal staff, and they have plenty to look forward to. There are new, eco-friendly facilities coming on stream in spring at Crinan, and Joe is in talks with Paddle Steamer Waverley to include Ardrishaig on her summer rota, with the possibility of linking her to steam puffer trips on the canal. He and his team team recently drained and completed repairs to Lock 2; Joe is keen to do work in-house as he feels it’s

more effective and keeps jobs local. “I’m very conscious of our community links and spend a lot of time talking to bodies such as the community councils, Argyll & Bute Council and the Forestry Commission,” he said. Dunardry rolling bridge is also up for restoration as is a canalside cottage at Crinan, while there’s the day-to-day maintenance of a canal dating from 1801 to manage. “Just after I came in August, we nearly ran out of water because of the dry weather,” smiles Joe. “Today, we have too much! Every day’s different on the Crinan. That’s why I love it here.”

‘App’s’ a fact on Glasgow canals

Scotland’s less-well-known cantilever bridge to be rebuilt

GETTING the gen on Glasgow canals has never been easier, thanks to the first smart phone and tablet app to be launched by the Scottish Waterways Trust. The free Glasgow Canals Unlocked app guides visitors through the life and times of the Forth & Clyde and the less-well-known Monkland and almostforgotten Glasgow Paisley and Johnstone Canals with come-to-life video clips, pictures and stories about the waterways. The app is available for iPhone and Android devices and can also be downloaded direct from Apple iTunes and Android App Stores by searching for ‘Glasgow Canal’. Tracey Peedle, Scottish Waterways Trust development officer said: “For the first time, you can walk along the waterway and read about how it looked in days gone by, see old photographs, listen to stories and stand right where they took place.” Part of the trust’s wider Unlocking the Story project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Glasgow City Council and Glasgow City Heritage Trust, the app is a development of an existing Glasgow Canals Unlocked booklet, launched in 2013. The app will be added to thanks to stories from local communities gathered by 20 trained volunteers, while interpretation boards, carrying stories sourced by the volunteers, are to be put up along the canals with a towpath art trail, produced by Glasgow Sculpture Studios, pulling all the elements of the project together.

THE famous Forth Bridge is one of the best-known cantilever bridges in the world, and soon to be a World Heritage Site. But less well-known is Scotland’s only rolling, cantilever bridge at Dunardry on the Crinan Canal. Built in 1900 to replace an earlier swing bridge at the site, the cantilever carries a path across the canal at Lock 11 and runs on a rail-mounted bogie. The bridge, worked by a hand-powered crank, gearing and counterweights, sees up to 3000 openings per year and is now to be overhauled in line with the Scottish Canals’ heritage strategy, which lists the structure as a significant asset. Crinan Canal manager Joe Murphy said: “This bridge is unique as the only rolling cantilever bridge on the Scottish Canals network, and, I suspect, one of very few throughout the British Isles. It is a piece of superb, Victorian engineering although we have no details of the designer or of the builder. We have completed our survey and assessment work and will dismantle the structure in winter 2015 and fully restore it. That will ensure that it remains in tip-top condition and be able to carry on doing what it was designed for, well into its second century of operation.”

Forth & Clyde’s Maryhill to join Commonwealth Games flotilla THE Forth & Clyde Society’s canal boat Maryhill will be taking part in a 250boat flotilla on Saturday, July 26, to mark the Commonwealth Games which take place in Glasgow between July 23 and August 3. The canal boat will join the main flotilla as it passes Bowling, where the Forth & Clyde joins the Clyde itself, on its 17-nautical mile voyage from Greenock’s James Watt Dock to Glasgow’s Pacific Quay. Organised by the Royal Yachting Association Scotland, with a £250,000 support package from Inverclyde Council, the event promises to put sailing and inland waterway cruising in the spotlight at a time when all eyes will

be on Glasgow. James Stuart, RYAS chief executive said: “This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and the flotilla will be the largest assembly of boats the Clyde has ever seen.” Boats are booked to come from England and Ireland to take part, with several arriving from the Homecoming Muster, which sees yachts sailing down the West coast of Scotland to Greenock immediately before the flotilla musters on Friday, July 25, the day before it sails. Forth & Clyde Canal Society chairman, Jim McLachlan said: “When we heard about the flotilla, we knew that we had to become involved in this unique event. We’ll be proud to sail Maryhill on the day as we’re keen to ensure that the canal boat has its place on the day among all the other craft.”

The society’s Maryhill will sail to Glasgow from Bowling as part of the largest boat gathering seen on the Clyde.


The only rolling cantilever bridge on the Scottish canal network. PHOTO: HUGH DOUGHERTY The work will be done by the Crinan Canal’s own maintenance team and the bridge will be removed by road to a workspace on the canal bank. Joe says that the listed structure will be back in place, better than new, in time for the summer season. Historic Scotland has been consulted and the body has given its approval for the works to take place.

Pinkston WatersPorts Centre gets £450,000 boost

An artist’s impression of Pinkston Watersports Centre in action after its spring opening.


THE Scottish Government has announced a £450,000 boost for the £2.3 million Pinkston Watersports Centre, currently being built on the Forth & Clyde Canal’s Glasgow Branch. The cash will go towards landscaping, fencing and decking work at the international competition level facility which is due to open in the spring. The centre will offer a white water course, canoe polo pitches and a boathouse and will be situated at the existing Pinkston Basin, close to the city centre. Scottish Canals will spend the

cash as part of its regeneration scheme to further enhance the Forth & Clyde Canal. Scottish transport minister Keith Brown MSP said: “The money will enable Scottish Canals to continue its work of regeneration. The water sports facility will be first rate and boost water sports facilities both in and around Glasgow and in Scotland.” Scottish Canals chief executive, Steve Dunlop, said he was delighted with the award which would further enhance an already excellent facility.

New chairman and trustees for Scottish Waterways Trust THE Scottish Waterways Trust has a new chairman. Ross Martin replaces Prof David Hume who held the post from 2000 and oversaw the trust’s reconstitution as a Scottish charity in November 2012. Having worked in the public sector for over 25 years, most recently with the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, Ross has experience of supporting business start-ups. He is joined on the board by three new trustees, Tam Hendry, Martin Togneri and David Dewhurst, all of whom have extensive public and private sector experience and an appreciation of the importance of canals to Scotland’s health, wealth and well-being. Ross said: “It is very exciting to join the Scottish Waterways Trust at a time when the reconnection of people and place is foremost in many minds. The activities of the trust enable people of all ages and stages in their life and from all backgrounds to make that connection locally, with projects and initiatives which enhance the quality of their lives. “This year the charity has ambitious plans to develop further through growth of activities that help people to appreciate and benefit from the wonderful natural environment around Scotland’s waterways and I very much

The new chairman with his board, from left: Martin Togneri, Nicola Christie, Ross Martin, David Dewhurst, Diana Murray and David Eaglesham. Tam Hendry was not present for the photocall. PHOTO COURTESY SCOTTISH WATERWAYS TRUST hope that many, many people will join us in that endeavour.” The Scottish Waterways Trust works closely with Scottish Canals, councils and other partners to increase awareness of canals and what they can offer for recreational, educational and environmental opportunities to a wide section of the public.

ON SCOTTISH WATERS with Hugh Dougherty 105

Cosy by Crinanside in a lock keeper’s cottage By Hugh Dougherty

MY WIFE and I jumped at the chance of a two-night stay beside the Crinan Canal, dubbed ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’, courtesy of Scottish Canals Canalside Cottages scheme, even though it was December. Our home was Bannatyne Cottage, built for lock keepers in 1801 beside historic Dunardry rolling bridge at Lock 11, just down the towpath from Crinan. Bannatyne, sleeping four, superbly equipped, sparkling clean and tastefully brought up-to-date, without compromising its historic ambience, is one of eight cottages available for rent though Scottish Canals Canalside Cottage branding. The electric central heating was already on when we arrived late afternoon, towels and linen were

provided and we also had the option of being extra cosy thanks to a woodburning stove in the living room. Right outside the windows, set into their strong and thick stone walls, was the canal itself, and, in summer, there’s life in plenty on the water, as boats negotiate the locks and moor at the jetty beside the facilities block, just beside the cottage. There were few boats during our stay, but it wasn’t hard to wonder about the life and work of the keepers living in the cottage and to imagine them braving the elements to work the locks for the frequent Clyde ‘Puffers’, the steamdriven small cargo boats of Para Handy fame, which plied the canal for many years, or the pleasure steamer, Linnett, carrying thousands of Victorian excursionists along the canal in its heyday.

Haven of tranquillity

In December the canal was a haven of tranquillity as we strode out along the towpath, down to Crinan with its sea lock and boats moored in the basin, and drank in the bracing sea air and views out to the Sound of Jura with its Atlantic swell. There are also miles of walks to enjoy – the cottage had information on them – as well as cycling in peace along the towpath and, of course, if you’re a sailor, Bannatyne would be ideal. The cottage is also handy for Dunadd Fort, where the kings of Dalriada were crowned, as well as Kilmartin Glen, with its Stone Age standing stones, burial chambers and superb museum, reminding visitors that the stone remains outside date from 5000 BC, putting both you and the 212-year-old Crinan Canal in their place!

Bannatyne Cottage is by the towpath. PHOTOS: HUGH DOUGHERTY

The view from the bedroom window towards Crinan.

Looking across the canal to well-kept Bannatyne Cottage, once home to lock keepers at Lock 11.

Cosy at Crinan! Enjoying the comfortable living room with its period canal maps on the walls.

Shops are just a few miles down the towpath and road at Lochgilphead, and there are two good hotels near the cottage, the Crinan itself, and the Cairnbann, which we chose for an evening meal as it was just over a mile away. Walking along the towpath in pitch dark, using one of the torches thoughtfully provided with the cottage, was an adventure in itself, and we felt as far from the bustle of today’s life as you can get, and back into the world of the lock keepers of yore. So, would we go back? Yes. It would be even better in spring or summer, as it was superb in winter. For details of the eight Canalside Cottages in the scheme, visit

Standing stones at nearby Kilmartin Glen, put both you and the Crinan in their place in history.

Win a break in a luxury Canalside Cottage!

Canalside Cottages are offering Towpath Talk readers the chance to win a three night break for two in one of Scottish Canals’ luxurious self-catering cottages! Choose from inspiring locations along the Caledonian and Crinian Canals, near locations such as Telford House East, which overlooks Ben Nevis, Tomnahurich Bridge House, near the heart of Inverness, or the secluded Sandray Cottage. All cottages are fully-supplied with linen and towels, fuel for the wood burning stove and a selection of toiletries. All cottages have a TV, DVD player, CD player, fullyequipped kitchen and a washing machine. A travel cot is supplied for infants, and you’d also be welcome to bring along your dog! For more information on the cottages, please visit There is one prize of a three night stay for two to be won. One winner will be selected at random. Please note - dates are subject to availability.

HOW TO ENTER: Simply answer the questions below, and send your entry to: Towpath Talk Scottish Canals competition, April 2014, Mortons Media Group Ltd, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ. Alternatively, you can enter online at Closing date: Thursday, May 15, 2014.

First name ...............................................................................Surname .............................................................................. Date of birth............................................................................Tel ......................................................................................... Mobile .....................................................................................Email .................................................................................... Address................................................................................................................................................................................. ................................................................................................. Postcode ............................................................................

Questions: 1. When was Bannatyne Cottage built? 2. How many Canalside Cottages do Scottish Canals have available for rent?

Answers: 1.............................................................. .. ...... 2.....................................................................................

Terms and conditions apply. Please see for full terms and conditions.There are no cash alternatives available.The winner will be the first name chosen at random.

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Horse boat

The power that drove the Industrial Revolution Words: PHILLIPPA GREENWOOD Images: MARTINE O’CALLAGHAN

The Tivertonian horse boat.

Setting off from Llangollen Wharf.

Horse boating on the Llangollen Canal.

REAL horse power was the energy of an Empire before the engine was invented. Most canal boats were towed by heavy horses and managed to top two miles per hour when a narrowboat was loaded, and three miles per hour when unladen. Two centuries have passed, and the rules of speed have changed in the haulage industry, letting the dust settle on the towpaths where those heroes of the canals once trod. A traditional boat horse was expected to do a working class job that was sweaty and often grizzly, and his, or her, reward was a respected place in the team that crewed a working boat. Boat crews would majestically adorn their horses’ bridles, nosebags and any available paraphernalia, with brightly coloured canal art. Decoration of roses and castles didn’t make his task any lighter, but it has left a romantic image for the story of the canals. The rules of the road were few, but strict. Loaded boats had priority and when horses passed in opposite directions, one boatman had to drop the towrope to let the other horse step past.

The traditional haulage business of working horses on the canals has gone, but the gentle souls of giant horses leave their legacy in the trust of new generations who can learn the skills of horseboating. There can’t be a single iconic sight that sums up the nostalgia, power and purpose of Britain’s canals better than a heavy horse gently towing a boatful of people along a canal today. It is a rare chance to see horseboating in action these days, with only a handful of horse boats still operating. Sue Day is the champion of the Horseboating Society, with a big reputation for her passion for passing on the skills and traditions of horseboating to future generations. She turns up with her steedy companions at waterways festivals and events across the networks, and beacons the cause of her tremendously important society. And the beautiful spirits of horses that once clopped rhythmically along the towpaths of the Industrial Revolution secretly conceal their epitaph in rope marks gouged under bridges, and waterside stables that have been converted. Horses are a living treasure of the canals to honour, love and respect.


The Towpath Angler Our monthly look at the angling scene

Trip boats at Llangollen Wharf.

Boat horse Dandy, now enjoying a wellearned retirement. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON

Adapted extract from Britain’s Canals, a National Treasure in 100 Must-See Objects by Phillippa Greenwood and Martine O’Callaghan – published by Coolcanals July 2012.

A chance for passengers to photograph the boat horse.

Recovery period


Hopefully, we are now in the aftermath and the priorities will, very clearly, be

Horse Boats There are only a handful of horse boat companies still operating in the UK – at Tiverton in Devon, Kintbury near Hungerford in Berkshire, Llangollen and Montgomery in Wales, and Godalming in Surrey. They all offer horse-drawn boat trips during the summer season.

Location Tiverton on the Grand Western Canal, Kintbury on the Kennet & Avon Canal, Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal, Maesbury Marsh on the Montgomery Canal, and Godalming on the River Wey Navigations

Tiverton Canal Company 01884 253345 Kennet Horse Boat Company 01488 658866 Welsh Canal Holiday Craft 01978 860702 Bywater Horsedrawn Cruises 07941 429980 Godalming Packetboat Company

By train Nearest train stations are Tiverton Parkway, Kintbury, Chirk, Gobowen and Godalming National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950

The Horseboating Society The Horseboating Society works to promote horseboating and preserve its heritage and skills.

MY COMMENTS last month about the massive differentials in control and regulation of waterway users clearly struck a chord with a number of people. Since the last edition of Towpath Talk was released a number of users from across the spectrum have spoken to me saying how right I was. I think we all know that the general principle that our waterways are there to be shared is accepted by the majority – hence my views last month about compromise – but until certain sectors are regulated and made to ‘tow the line’ like the rest of us significant progress is unlikely. Interestingly, a discussion close to this topic ensued at a recent National Waterway User Forum. As a whole the day was very worthwhile, but the highlight was the two group workshop sessions, with one debating the imminent consultation document entitled Sharing Towpaths. Clearly, the document recognises that towpaths in several locations are extremely congested and in places there are pinch points. It was also agreed that the better the surface on towpaths the more likely it is that the more disruptive and unregulated elements, which normally display no thought for their fellow users, would simply increase their activities. Members of my group were generally unanimous in their views that more control and regulation was needed otherwise towpath users would continue to ‘talk with their feet’ and choose to find alternative places to enjoy the outdoors. However, we all acknowledged that without enforcement little would change. The group was of the view that there may be a role here for the new Waterway Rangers. I really hope that the consultation generates plenty of responses because it could well be the foundation of a much needed and robust towpath policy. It looks as though more collaborative working by all the organisations involved in angling and fisheries may be on the cards as we are only now beginning to identify some of the longer-term impacts on our fisheries after the excessive rainfall in recent months. That said, some areas are still under water and seemingly may remain so for weeks to come.

How to get there

By bus Traveline 0871 2002233 By car Car parks or roadside depending on location Moorings Visitor moorings on Kennet & Avon Canal, Llangollen Canal, Montgomery Canal and River Wey Navigations (Grand Western Canal is separate from the main canal network)

Local Tourist info Tiverton Tourist Information Centre Hungerford and area Tourist Info Llangollen Tourist Information Centre Maesbury Marsh and area Tourist Info Godalming and area Tourist Info The Brooke Working horses, mules and donkeys in some of the poorest countries of the world can suffer unnecessary hardships. The Brooke is a charity that aims to improve the lives and welfare of these working animals. Canal & River Trust/ Glandwr Cymru Use the Canal & River Trust website to find specific local information.

David Kent

people’s homes and businesses. As we all know the cost to put things right will be phenomenal. At some point though assessments on the many river, canal and stillwater fisheries will have to be undertaken. The number of fish swept away, probably for all time, by swollen rivers or simply swam away as individual pieces of water became one huge lake will never be known. The recovery period will be long. Indeed some fisheries may never recover. The weather is more like the seasonal norm now, although temperatures are still holding up. We would probably be looking forward to a bit of decent sport around about now, but my information is that many canals are proving very difficult. Reports from a variety of venues suggest that anglers are blanking everywhere. The fish are tightly shoaled in places so occasionally an angler will catch a few, but these instances are rare. I am convinced this is a result of all the rainfall. Where some fish are being caught roach and skimmer bream still seem to comprise the bulk of catches and bread punch and maggots continue to do the most damage. I had been keeping you appraised of developments on my local Erewash Canal. We are now awaiting news of a court case and its outcomes. Very few people are fishing it, although it has been producing the odd net of very small roach. However, following some sterling work by CRT’s angling and fisheries team, last week we took delivery of just short of 200kg of fine bream, with a handful of tench. All fish were in tiptop condition and there were no casualties after their long journey. On a personal front I have had a couple of ‘brown envelopes’ recently although I cannot seem to achieve much consistency. Following the new fish introduced into my local canal I may try and find a couple of hours to give it a go in the next week or so. Tight lines.

Angling taster sessions at waterways festival ACTIVITIES at June’s Inland Waterways Association’s (IWA) Campaign Festival at Tower Wharf, Chester, will now include taster angling sessions for young people. Angling 4 Positive Futures will work with IWA to provide sessions on Wednesday, June 4 (6-8pm), and then on Saturday, June 7 (all day), during the festival. These sessions will be free to participants as IWA regards angling as an important way of engaging young people with the inland waterways. Any groups who would like to express an interest in the Wednesday evening session should contact for more information. Peter Henery, project development co-ordinator for Angling 4 Positive Futures, said: “We are delighted to be invited to the Campaign Festival in Chester. We came to Chester for the IWA’s Rally in 2010 and had a great weekend meeting young people from the local area who had never tried angling before. We are sure there must be many more out there who would like to give the hobby a try.” Gillian Bolt, IWA’s youth development co-ordinator, added: “IWA is keen to engage young people with their inland waterways and the work that Angling 4 Positive Futures do is just the type of project that deserves our support.”


The Wet Web This month Helen Gazeley finds some spacesaving ideas for the stylishly aware

LOW price, stress reducing, mobile and close to nature – sounds like a narrowboat, doesn’t it? In this case it’s not, but it seems that architects and designers are tuning in to the elements that make life on the cut so satisfying. The Coodo is a modular living unit, the brainchild of Slovenians, landscape architect and civil engineer Gregor Kosem and architect Simon Bajt. It’s made largely of glass, contains a bathroom, bedroom, open kitchen, and dining area plus sofa. Although it’s a standardised construction, individual touches can be added in the form of colour, surfaces and decoration. (You see where I’m going here?)

Most versions are for the land, but there’s also one for water – the Watercoodo. It needs 15 x 4.6m mooring space and comes with an optional roof terrace. Currently only available on a stationary waterlogged platform, it’s soon (according to their LinkedIn page) to possess an engine. Looks lovely; costs around £155,000 So, if you see one, be kind. As you motor past, there’s absolutely no need to mention the reinvention of wheels… One thing it does share with a narrowboat, of course, is the shortage of space and there are plenty of solutions for the stylishly aware. If you’ve wondered how on earth to fit more seating/bedding into yours, Beanbag Bazaar has an innovative range of furniture that might be your answer. A far cry from the soggy, flowery beanbags of the 1970s, the range comes in a wide variety of materials and includes the Flex that’s both a seat and a sofa, and Do2® XL 2-in-1 which unfolds into a single mattress. The furniture is only available online, but the website provides a demonstration video and lots of detail and images.

Vertical system

Picture Hanging Strips make it easier to fix unusual shaped artwork to the wall.

Meanwhile, making the best use of wallspace is getting easier. A very recent introduction is Urbio, a ‘vertical wall organisation system’. It uses strong neodymium magnets to attach variously shaped containers to wall-mounted steel plates. You can buy just one or a whole range to create your own configuration on the wall and while it wouldn’t be wise to store lead weights in them, their grip is surprisingly strong, quite sufficient for office items, and even allows you to use the containers as plant holders. And for pictures, CommandStrips, whose hooks were mentioned here at Christmas, has also developed Picture Hanging Strips which take frames up

The Watercoodo offers minimalist living close to nature, at a price.

Posters and pictures are held to the wall with Command Strips.

The Q-BOPZ speaker can act as a rest for your phone or tablet.

The Urbio modules help clear desktops and can be arranged to suit.

to 24 x 36in and up to 7.2kg in weight and either attach the picture directly to the wall, or let you use a wire or nail hanger. If you’re always losing your smartphone you might want to check out their smartphone caddy too. Something else that attaches to the wall is the QBOPZ speaker which receives signals from any Bluetooth enabled device and works up to 10m away from the source, meaning you can listen to music stored on your laptop without having to move it around, or to radio streamed through your tablet while you’re taking the helm. Cute and splash-proof, not only easy to set up but to produce a good round sound which was a noticeable improvement on a tablet’s speaker.

more information ➔ For Do you have a favourite website?

Email Helen at

Both a seat and a sofa, the Do2® XL 2-in-1 beanbag from Beanbag Bazaar.


Wartime memories of the cut LOOKING into canals in wartime, I found some very moving stories indeed. I vividly remember, early in the war, the barges and butties coming into Accrington from Blackburn at the Church Wharf turn. Opposing traffic had to give way and one did not. I have never heard so many naughty words rendered with such fluency. They were probably mostly carrying coal to Altham coke works and supplies to Blythe’s chemical works, and perhaps ammunition; the bargees had a few potatoes on their cabin top and when asked what they were carrying said: “Bloody spuds again.” It became a byword with the local lads and when our bombing raids began over Germany, some used to say “More ‘bloody spuds’ for Herr Hitler.” Canals were used extensively during the First World War for moving goods and it was also a better way to transport wounded than roadways. During the Second World War the Air Ministry created three canal clearance companies to enable goods to be moved internally: 1. Paddington. 2. Birmingham. 3. Manchester. The Canal Control Committee conscripted women to work the canals on the home front. All boats were covered so goods, food, ammunition etc. were hidden from prying eyes.

The chairman of directors at Rickmansworth asked an elderly boatman what he was carrying, only to be told in rather a canal term way, to mind his own business. He gave the man a 10 shilling note for his reply. Food rationing was in progress and it was very difficult for the boat people, mainly women, to register at a shop as they were travelling around. Extra cheese was allowed for some occupations but canal and railway staff were not included. During the blitz, children were evacuated, which put a great strain on schools in country areas. Many schools had to improvise and some held classrooms in covered boats on the canal. The winter of 1939/40 was very severe and the canals froze over. It was no use wearing woollen gloves, which became soggy, and sometimes the women’s hands froze to the lock gate guardrails. One account of a woman skipper tells of leaving London in an air-raid and feverishly working the locks before she was away from the bombing. If this is not enough to make people realize the importance of canals, I don’t know what is. Frank Sanderson By email



Your chance to write to us on any Towpath topic:

Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ

Knowing who to ask for help

★ Silky Star Letter ★ TOWPATH TALK has joined forces with Silky Marine Products to celebrate the great letters and pictures we receive from our readers with a star prize each month The lucky winner will receive a tub of Silky Cream Cleaner, Silky Deep Cleaner Ready to Use and Silky RX Enzyme Toilet Odour and Waste Reducer, worth a total value of more than £25 from the new range of Silky Marine Care and Maintenance products launched earlier this year. Silky Marine Products are specifically formulated to work in sequence to remove dirt and residue specific to the boating environment, and include the widely regarded classic Silky Cream Cleaner. When a boat’s surfaces have been cleaned to a high standard using the Silky cleaning range, the valet and polish products bring out the shine which is then sealed for the season with the unique polymer technology of Silky Protect. Available to the public through and selected retail outlets, Silky Products have been manufactured in Slaithwaite near Huddersfield for more than 40 years.

Slow down in time for moored boats REGARDING Alan Berry’s letter in Issue 101 concerning speeding boaters (Talkback, Issue 101, March). I had been hire-boating for 14 years and had been shouted at for ‘speeding’. I too retorted: “But I AM in tickover,” (as do many, many, incredulous boaters to me) before I got my own narrowboat and was given a RYA Helmsman’s Course for my 60th birthday. Lightbulb moment. The course advises (so obvious) that, because of momentum, the boat continues for some while at speed so, rather than waiting until your boat’s nose meets the moored boat to go into tickover (as I did), the helmsperson should drop down to tickover at least two boat lengths (I would suggest three if your boat is 57ft plus) beforehand. I now receive

compliments, rather than brickbats, for considerate passing. Yes, it is tedious but better than causing someone to scald themselves while they are trying to pour a cuppa or, as one lady I met suffered, a broken finger in a slammed door. Not only that, damage is being done to the banks where pins are pulled out and I am noticing an increase in the piling cross band being pulled away from the uprights, so it benefits us all to be mindful – I love piling and do not wish to see CRT replacing it with something less boater friendly or, horrors, simply not replacing the cross band. Hopefully calm will now break out on the waterways, or is that wishful thinking? Maisie Trotman nb Global Spirit

Renovation of the Bridgewater Canal I WAS interested in your article dealing with the above (Heritage extra, Issue 101, March), especially with regard to the Delph basin. The Delph was dredged in the early 1980s and I took my narrowboat Woodstock, a 40ft boat with a 21in draught, into the basin. We got stuck! The date was September 5, 1982, shortly after the dredging. With some forward and backward movements and a lot of poling we succeeded in our journey! The ‘new’ work

may be enhanced by the fairly recently introduced pumping system whereby the discoloured water, contaminated with iron ore, is transferred by pipeline to reed bed filters on the Leigh Branch just beyond the M60 bridges. I hope the work does not disturb the Starvationer (clearly shown on the left of your Delph picture) and wish the council well in its efforts! Ben Williams Bolton

I WOULD like to thank Kenneth Houghton (Talkback, Issue 100, February). I live on a so called ‘rust bucket’; thank you for highlighting the fact that a book should never be judged by its cover. As a struggling liveaboard, I and those I know, would always be willing to help anybody, be it setting locks or a pre warning of a leaking tunnel in mid summer (was caught out too). Certain people’s perceptions are somewhat misguided, thank you Kenneth for highlighting this ‘curse of the liveaboard’ culture, you know who to ask if you ever run into trouble, and I’m guessing it won’t be a shiny boat.

Paul McDonnell By email

Hotel boats are alive and kicking AS A follow up to the letters published from Hanna Rees-Jones (Talkback, Issue 96, October) and others regarding the hotel boat businesses, I would like to introduce ourselves as the new owners of Duke and Duchess hotel narrowboats. Andrew and I bought these boats from David Owen back in October and are very excited about our first season (a little shorter this year than we will be doing in the future). We have had an incredible amount of support and encouragement from our fellow hotel boaters and we are very happy to be part of this community which we find has the strengths of strong traditions while evolving and changing to meet the needs of this new century. Please take a look at our website at and spread the word that hotel boats are alive and kicking. Thank you. Alison Ashton and Andrew Williamson nbs Duke & Duchess

Get smart along the towpath AS A ‘newbie’ to the canals, having bought a boat in July 2013, I think that local councils have missed a trick by not providing ‘smart-metered’ electricity points along the towpaths. For example I used the Erewash Canal last year and moored next to the Tamworth Road where it would be relatively easy to provide said electric points. Boaters would be encouraged to stay a few days and shop within the town of Long Eaton, thus boosting the local economy. Not everyone wants to be stuck in a marina. Anton Mieczyslaw Kolodynsk By email

A traditional right or a way to dodge charges? I HAVE read in various newspapers and magazines the argument about continuous cruising, and how some say it is a traditional right for them to continue without any payment for moorings. As someone new to narrowboating (four years with a home mooring) I find this traditional term hard to take in. Before the world wars, when the canals were privately owned, I don’t think for a moment the canal owners would allow people to cruise their canals without payment, and after the wars or in Mr Rolt’s days the canals were so silted that continuous cruising was an impossibility. So where is the tradition? It seems to me to be a modern day ideal, which I hope to do myself someday. My point is, do all of these continuous cruisers pay their way, or are some using it as a way to escape paying their community charges? If their boat is a home then they have a duty to pay like the rest of us. After all, they will use the same doctors, hospitals, schools, police etc. I don’t like the idea of being classed as a water gypsy or a New Age Traveller, as some of my fellow citizens are beginning to call us. Especially now as the Government is planning to use the canals for cheap housing. So please let’s hold our heads up, keep the canal traditions, pay our way and let the CRT run the canals in the best way they can. (Name and address supplied)

Back on board six years on ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2006, our narrowboat Emerald was broken into and then set on fire; we lost everything except the clothes we stood in. The purpose of this letter is to say that amazingly it will be six years back on board on April 3 this year, 2014. We are still so happy and still amazed at the number of people who still remember. We will never be able to thank everyone involved but would like to say yes we are still on board Emerald which is now called Em Too and yes we are still very, very happy. There were a few people who said we only wanted to get the boat done so we could sell her but that was never an option for us. We will live on board until it is physically impossible to do so. Thank you to everyone from the bottom of our hearts Julie, David, Milo and Mollie By email

Trumpeting evasion rate success – but at what cost?

I READ with interest Mr MuntonWillis’s letter (Talkback, Issue 99, January) and his experiences of unlicensed boats on the waterways. The Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways) is happy to trumpet its success in a 96.1% evasion rate which, at current figures, if we take the excellent Inland Waterways Book (published by ST Publications), shows 34,000 boats ‘on the water’ so to speak, means that there are around 1326 unlicensed boats on CRT’s domain. Let us say, at a ‘ball park’ figure, each boat pays £350 for a licence, (or doesn’t, as the case may be). This equates to a loss in licence fees of some £464,100. It appears that the CRT is happy with this figure, possibly thinking that evasion will not come any lower, but how can a company be

prepared to ‘write off’ nearly half a million pounds in licence fees each year, when it trumpets its successes in reducing licence evasion? Not only does the company seem to incur the wrath of the majority of the 96.1% who do pay for a licence, then it seems to be even more prepared to place in force a set of rules in relation to continuous cruising. And, just because the ‘continuous moorers’ don’t like those rules, further antagonise the silent, bylaw abiding majority by bending over backwards to further bend those rules to accommodate boaters who sign up to its rules when they apply for a continuous cruising licence, many with no intention at all of ever abiding to those rules. I have spoken to members of the enforcement team in the north, who say that there are genuine

continuous cruisers, but they are in the minority. (On one occasion they were in Skipton when a lady got off a boat with two children. As they walked past the boat, she asked: “Do you want to speak to me, as I am taking the children to school then going to work?”). Continuous cruising? I could take you to stretches of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal just outside Leeds, where I regularly walk my dogs, and there are boats that have been there for two years, purporting to be CCs. If CRT can pursue Mr and Mrs Ordinary, who abide by the rules and pay their dues and demands, then why is it not possible for the CRT to pursue people who will not abide by the rules, in relation to licence fees and continuous cruising. Tony Stevens By email

Alternative materials for lock gates

A closer view of the Starvationer in the Delph. It is a type of narrowboat used on the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal and underground waterways. (PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES)

SO HERE we are in the 21st century and still relying on 18th century materials for our lock gates. Isn’t it time we found something which lasts more than the typical 20 or 30 years before replacement becomes necessary at such great expense? If noticeboards and fingerboards can be manufactured from heavy-duty man-made timber material – a tough recycled plastic which will not warp, rot, or split and requires only the occasional scrub down with warm water – why aren’t our lock gates, obviously with a galvanised steel inner frame, made of a similar material? If Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust wants to make savings and set us off in a new direction, he could do worse than commission a study on this and other alternatives. Yes, it may upset the traditionalists, but do we really want to replace every one of the system’s lock gates two or three times between now and the start of the 22nd century? Roy Stringer By email

Traditional oak lock gates being manufactured at the Canal & River Trust’s Stanley Ferry workshop. But could they be made of a longer-lasting material?


Old Bilge Pump

Where to spend our money

TUCKED away on the Canal & River Trust website at http://canal features/poetry-and-the-waterways are four films – well they are clips really; ranging from two minutes 38 seconds to four minutes 50 seconds. The ‘film-poems’ are all produced by a Mr Alastair Cook and are entitled The Black Delph Bride, The Water Doesn’t Move, the Past Does, Lifted and Grand Union Canal. The sound track to the clips are poems which were commissioned by the Canal & River Trust as part of the Canal Laureate Project. I have given you the entire ‘url’ on the website as they are not a major part of the website and take some finding. Do go and play the clips and make your own mind up about them. I make no judgement on the filming nor the poetry, I am a jobbing writer and not a film or poetry critic. I do like the photograph of Jo Bell, the Canal Laureate, jumping on a narrowboat but then I have always been a sucker for a pretty girl. I am not dismayed about the quality, length or presentation of the filmpoems but the rationale in the sponsorship, by the trust, of this project. We are told there is no money, times are bad and that enhancement of the canal system cannot be financed. The trust has preached the ‘steady-state’ of canal and river maintenance which keeps the system at its present level of operation but does not attempt to improve the system. While the new chief executive and the directors have been up-beat about finances there is still a huge backlog of maintenance. Licence and mooring fees continue to rise. The trust is very proud that they have kept rises to the rate of inflation. Why the pride and trumpeting, I do not know, a rise is a rise, if everyone increases their charges by inflation it will continue to spiral upwards and never decrease.

No claims bonus

Nothing has changed at the moorings in Gas Street Basin and I’m pretty sure not much has changed at any of the trust moorings. A few loose bricks re-seated here a blown-down security fence reerected there (done overnight – very impressive West Midlands Waterways) but in essence no new money has been spent on our moorings in the last year. Why then an increase this year of 2.8% on the mooring fee along with a selfcongratulatory letter boasting that the increase is set at inflation. What about a bit of deflation? How good it would be to receive an annual bill with a covering letter stating that as nothing has been spent on your moorings this year’s bill has been reduced by 10%; similar to a vehicle no claims bonus for each year nothing is spent to improve the moorings. I don’t know about your moorings but at Gas Street Basin, well within 20 years, the trust would be paying the moorers. When serving in the military we suffered from Spending Reviews, every so often there would be a complete overall of where the money was being spent. It was often a waste of time just resulting in ‘salami-cutting’ of departments but occasionally it was worth doing. I think it is time for a Canal & River Trust Spending Review. An overall look at all departments of the trust (I am still waiting for a complete organisational chart). Are all departments necessary, are any departments over-staffed with irrational managerial posts? Does the trust need to lease offices at Milton Keynes when they own so much property about the land? Birmingham is the centre of the canal system the trust owns plenty of buildings centrally why not move the HQ there? However, if I am being biased for Birmingham what about Leeds; expensive modern offices were built to house part of the old BW, so why not

move it all up to Leeds? There can be no excuse that the trust needs to be near London for the Government now has no oversight of the trust.

Pamphlets and posters

The review should not just look at departments and posts but at what exactly people are doing and producing. Months after the unification of Germany an East German Army unit was found still intercepting the wireless traffic of the now same army as themselves. Is there a small department unknown to the trust, leftover from the old BW, which is still menacing boaters? Do we need the many pamphlets and posters that continually proliferate the reception areas and canal notice boards? Do we need trustees, directors and senior managers? I have no idea but I would like someone to take a look. When ‘desking’ at the Ministry of Defence I often thought that if threequarters of the posts were relinquished the front-line troops would not notice. I wonder if three-quarters of the trust’s departments were made redundant would the bankside worker and the boater notice. The last time I queried the post of the canal laureate I did it in poetry (well my version of poetry), it was hard work to produce verse that remotely rhymed and took me five times the length of time to polish than my normal work. In return I was savaged by Heather Wastie, writer in residence at the Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster, who called me a ‘grumpy fart’. This, I thought, rather cruel as I am only grumpy when I catch sight of myself in the mirror; unfortunately the boat builder fitted a rather large mirror in the bathroom. It appears that if you don’t ‘get’ modern art you are automatically considered a Philistine with no soul. Therefore I am reluctant to mention modern poets again, when their

Keep Graham Wigley of Birmingham Canal Boat Services smiling – dredge Gas Street Basin. PHOTO: DAVID SCOWCROFT existence is questioned they appear to have the tenderness of an East German Border Guard. However, at the risk of being savaged again in literature I have to ask the question of canal and river

users. Do you wish your money to be spent on art projects, films, poems, floating radical installations or on navigation, maintenance and the dredging of Gas Street Basin?

ToWPATh TiTTeR CONTINUING our light-hearted look at life on the cut with Paul Hooper who sent in this picture!

Are boaters being ignored... again?

THE recently announced £6 million upgrade of 15 miles of towpaths throughout central Birmingham is good news for joggers, walkers, serious runners and cyclists. The scheme, I am told, forms part of the ‘citywide Birmingham Cycle Revolution’ project with the canals to benefit being the city section of the Birmingham Canal, Birmingham Fazeley, Grand Union and Worcester Birmingham. Chairman of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership Peter Mathews, whose comments were nothing more than bland Canal & River Trust spin, merely said the scheme would not just make cycling easier and safer but would also benefit boaters, walkers and joggers. But whoever it was who wrote his comments could not be bothered to explain how an improved towpath would help boaters except at normal mooring points; perhaps the author should realise boats move on water – not the towpath. So, once again (and like BW before it) the CRT seems to ignore boaters – unless, of course, there’s money involved. Neither is there any mention of any measures being introduced that would ensure the new, smooth surfaced towpaths do not become raceways monopolised by speeding morons holding unofficial time trials. Yes, such trials have been held before on the BCN; the then BW were told of the dangers to other users but did virtually nothing. On one canal a couple of ‘speed humps’ were installed but when a cyclist complained he may fall off and be injured a BW Health & Safety twerp removed it. With the city centre towpaths heaving for much of the day every day and user numbers steadily increasing, it is essential steps are taken to stop speeding cyclists. Otherwise there will be some very serious accidents. This is something on which the local partnership should insist the CRT gets its act together.

London Assembly seems to have more idea than CRT Back in November the London Assembly published a report on visitor and residential moorings in the capital. It has now made seven recommendations which, if implemented by the CRT, should bring improvements to the current congestion affecting visitor moorings in particular. The Inland Waterways Association has enthusiastically welcomed and is supporting the recommendations. But there has been a shattering silence from the CRT on the recommendations. Why? The mooring problem in London has been around for years. BW knew all about it – but just talked. Thank heaven the London Assembly recognises the problem. Perhaps the collective top management of the CRT will get off their collective backsides and, at least, say something. But it’s almost as if the trust is hoping it will go away. If this is the case it’s added evidence supporting my opinion that the trust is merely BW Mk4.

Generous gesture

For the first time in around 40 years, the IWA’s Northampton Branch’s annual boat gathering (May 2-5) will be canal based after two previous events on the River Nene were cancelled one year through flooding and the next year through shortage of water on the canal. This year’s gathering will be centred on the former Nurser’s dock inside Braunston Marina – thanks to a most generous offer from the marina’s owner, Tim Coghlan. The move will enable the branch to promote itself in the far west of its territory where many of its members live or keep their boats.

CaRT wheels warmth to the cut. If you have a suitable photo or anecdote we can share with our readers, please send it to Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6JR or email: And don’t forget you can also follow us on Twitter @towpathtalk and on Facebook



Towpath Talk - April 2014 - FULL ISSUE  

Towpath Talk, Issue 102, April 2014 - The UK's Number One read for all waterway users. More info:

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