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The UK’s Number ONE read for all waterways users

Issue 105, July 2014

120 PAGES 50 packs of Megapegs and 10 discount cards up for grabs P118 FIVE chances to win the new edition of Narrow Boat P64

Carrying coals to… promote the Ashby Canal


Heading south on the Coventry Canal, coming from the Etruria Festival, are motor boat Aquarius, with owners Glyn and Rosemary Phillips and butty Ilford, with owners Roger and Teresa Fuller. They are carrying 36 tonnes of English coal from the Minorca mine, donated by UK Coal and loaded on the Ashby Canal on April 17 and are visiting various events to promote the next phase of the restoration of the Ashby Canal. PHOTO: PHOTO:WATERWAY WATERWAY IMAGES


Stop changing the rules – boaters’ plea to CRT




BOATERS are fed up with changes to rules in respect of overstaying on visitor moorings and enforcement according to a survey by the National Organisation of Boat Owners (NABO) of its members. Such was the concern, it attracted a much higher response than anticipated with 78% feeling there is no real problem of overstaying on visitor moorings, 69% on the general towpath and an overwhelming 91% that there

World conference plans


INVERNESS will host the World Canals Conference in September 2016. Delegates will travel to the Highland capital from 20 countries across the world following the success of the Scottish bid with the event expected to inject £300,000 into the local economy. The venue is still to be decided but Scottish Canals says that every opportunity will be taken to showcase the Caledonian Canal and highlight partnership achievements including the Kelpies, the Falkirk Wheel and Pinkstone Watersports Centre.

500 BOATS FOR SALE Starts on

were insufficient Canal & River Trust patrol officers actually operating out in the field. “We were surprised by the speed and sheer number of members that responded especially our many continuous cruising members,” said Mike Rodd, NABO chairman. The survey followed a meeting convened by CRT in March to discuss visitor mooring strategy with the national boating associations.


Partnership chairs sought

THE chairs of four of the Canal and River Trust’s Waterway Partnerships (Manchester & Pennine, North Wales & Borders, South Wales & Severn and West Midlands) plus the Museums & Attractions Partnership, are coming to the end of their first volunteering term. Each is eligible to apply for reappointment for a second term as part of an open recruitment process. Positions will be advertised during July with shortlisted candidates invited for interview in early September. Appointments will be effective from November 2014.

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It became apparent that everybody felt that enforcement was the main issue that needed to be addressed and it was agreed that the group should meet again but that the focus should be purely on overstaying and enforcement. Recognising that these were still wrapped together in many boaters’ minds, NABO decided to carry out a very quick survey of its members to get a flavour of where they stood on the issues of overstaying and enforcement.

On the subject of enforcement, the main findings were: 35% thought CRT should just focus on boats that don’t move; 26% thought CRT should employ more patrol staff out talking to boaters; 20% thought CRT should move boats if they were obstructing water points, lock landings or visitor moorings and only 6% thought CRT should introduce more flexibility schemes like the Kennet & Avon pilot. Continued on page 2

Museum gets thumbs-up

PLANS for a Thames Heritage Boat Museum at Beale Park have received outline approval on appeal. Inspector Ken Smith referred to the benefits that the museum would bring to an established tourist attraction and the local area. The Child Beale Trust and the Consuta Trust are delighted by this result and are keen to continue work on developing the project which they hope will attract further partnership funding required for a Heritage Lottery bid. For information visit



AS WE went to press it was good to hear that the Canal & River Trust has listened to the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) and has agreed to appoint a boaters’ welfare liaison officer for an initial 12month contract. See story on page 111. CRT chief executive Richard Parry has been continuing to answer boaters’ questions at open meetings across the network and fielded complaints about the state of some parts of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at a meeting in Burnley on June 5. These included some constructive suggestions which we hope CRT also takes on board. The questions and answers can be viewed by visiting Team Towpath has been on its travels attending the Crick Boat Show, see report on page 4 and the Middlewich FAB Festival, more from that event next month. I have also been north of the border to see the Kelpies – wow what a sight – and will be featuring my visit in the August issue. I also enjoyed a trip down the Thames to Windsor on one of the boats originally built to carry visitors to the London 2012 Olympics and now operated by Thames Executive Charters. More on this later in the year. Harry Arnold brings us up to date on developments at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port on page 14 and Peter Underwood completes his outgoing Ribble Crossing which many of you followed on Facebook, page 110.




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Exotic snake colony found living on the banks of the Regent’s Canal Historical evidence

By Polly Player

A COLONY of rare Aesculapian snakes, native to mainland Europe, has recently been found living on and around the banks of the Regent’s Canal in the Camden area of London. Around 30 of these rare snakes have been spotted in total, residing in trees and rooftops, and even climbing the drains of houses in the Camden area. The Aesculapian, which can grow to around two metres in length and mainly eats rodents and birds, is thought to have survived wild in the capital due to the mild weather and close proximity of a suitable habitat that has allowed the species to thrive. While the identification of the species itself only occurred this year when the head reptile keeper of London Zoo formally identified the species, it is thought that the colony has already been present in the area for some years. It is not the only wild Aesculapian colony currently living in the UK either with Colwyn Bay in North Wales playing host to another. It is not definitively known how the Aesculapian first came to be living wild in the London area in the first place, although one of the more widely accepted theories is that the colony began with an escape from nearby London Zoo.

The Aesculapian is a non-venomous snake that kills its prey via constriction, is non-aggressive, and is not considered to present a risk to local people or pets such as cats and dogs, despite rumours and reports about the potentially deadly nature of the species! Nevertheless, the London Invasive Species Initiative (LISI) is calling for the Government to instigate a cull of the colony, due to its potential effect on the balance and lifecycle of the local ecosystems. The LISI also states the concern that left unchecked, the colony will spread further afield along the route of the canal, into nearby Islington and Hackney. However, not everyone agrees that the species should be eradicated from the banks of the UK’s canals, and in fact, historical evidence suggests that the Aesculapian once resided wild on our shores. Tony Jones (liveaboard boater) of the Federation of British Herpetologists, a Government advisory organisation, told Towpath Talk: “Aesculapian snakes were once native to Britain, and fossil records have been found in Essex and Lincolnshire. While the Government has a responsibility to tackle the problem of invasive species, a large contingent of herpetological specialists and scientists are working to preserve the Aesculapian colonies in London and Colwyn Bay.

The harmless Aesculapian snake. PHOTO: NICOLA


“They’re charming and harmless animals and pose no risk to humans. Boaters will be more concerned about invasive species such as mink, Japanese knotweed and rhododendrons. Let’s be happy that these wonderful creatures have come back to the UK after once being extinct. They’re Britain’s rarest snake!”

Towpath investment brings boots and bikes to the Kelpies and beyond

Part of the new Forth & Clyde Canal extension beyond the swing bridge. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON

SCOTTISH Transport Minister Keith Brown got on his bike to mark the opening of a new towpath along the Forth & Clyde Canal extension and the completion of a £1.3 million project to upgrade paths throughout Scotland’s canal network. A partnership between Scottish Canals, Sustrans, Falkirk Council, Glasgow City Council and West Lothian Landfill Trust has seen more than 10km of towpaths upgraded at seven locations across Scotland in the past year to an allweather surface. To mark the opening of the Helix towpath, the Minister, John Lauder from Sustrans, Steve Dunlop from Scottish Canals and pupils from Bowhouse Primary School cycled along the 1km Forth & Clyde Canal extension, which runs from the River Carron in the east under the M9 motorway to the Kelpies. As well as connecting more than 27km of pathways in the 350 hectare Helix parkland, the new towpath marks a significant investment in Scotland’s towpath network, creating major opportunities for leisure and recreation activities including cycling, walking, running and angling. Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Canals, said: “The new Helix towpath is a fantastic addition to Scotland’s canal system and a vital part of the £43m Helix project, as well as Scotland’s cycle network. “By working with our partners to improve our towpaths, we hope to encourage even more people to explore Scotland’s canals by boot, boat and bike.” More on the Helix development next month.

Continued from page 1

Stop changing the rules – boaters’ plea to CRT One boater responded: “If the CRT leads by example and really develops a culture of being seen and approachable then progress can be made. Enforcement is a rather blunt and often ineffective instrument, and one that human beings invariably regard as an irritation, a challenge and something to be got around.” Another stated: “The existing guidelines need to be enforced in a fair, consistent and timely manner.” According to NABO vice-chairman Mark Tizard, who oversaw the survey: “It was the supporting comments that brought home to us how the constant tinkering with rules regarding visitor moorings is alienating many of the long established law-abiding boaters. “These are the very boaters that CRT should be bringing on board to become ‘friends’ and supporters of the ongoing struggle to support the network.” Outside the pinch points of central London and the western K&A, the

vast majority of NABO members felt there was no tangible problem with visitor moorings beyond the fact they would like more of them as opposed to more restrictions. In areas where there was a high concentration of boaters they would prefer CRT to initially focus its resources on moving boats that don’t move rather than boats that don’t move far enough and they felt this could be best done by having more patrol officers (not volunteer data loggers) in the field engaging with boaters. Other comments included: “I don’t want CRT to get too heavy-handed on this as the lack of regulations is one of the attractions of the waterways. It is more about changing the hearts and minds of boaters so that overstaying on popular moorings is widely perceived as the selfishness that it is.” “There is a huge longstanding much neglected need to provide additional visitor moorings across

the whole network. One rule for all boaters – no difference between CCers and those with a home mooring.” “No mooring restriction should be for less than 48 hours. It is not feasible to visit a town or village and move on within 24 hours and still get a mooring at the next point.” Mike Rodd concluded that NABO recognises that CRT is facing considerable challenges in seeking to enforce its own guidelines. He said: “In the last 10 years there has been an increase of around 10,000 licensed boats but no corresponding increase in visitor moorings; problems caused by congestion cannot simply be attributed to overstaying.” ● For those who would like to learn more about NABO please have a look at or contact

NABO’s position:

A boat with a currently valid home mooring is not required to conform to any of the guidelines or conditions for continuous cruising. Financial penalties for overstaying on visitor moorings are not legally enforceable. Charging for services is, however, permitted in law (as at Llangollen, for instance) as long as there is justification for the amount to be charged, and a clear method of payment. The concept of ‘neighbourhoods’ (‘places’ – based on the original ‘14 days in a parish’) is valid, as demonstrated by the maps that NABO assisted in producing for the K&A. A boat without a home mooring must move from one neighbourhood to another one every 14 days, in order to discourage ‘bridge-hopping’. It is the boater’s responsibility to ensure that they fulfil the ‘bona fide navigating’ requirements, but there is no legal requirement for a boat without a home mooring to travel to a minimum number of neighbourhoods during the term of a licence.

● More news from NABO on page 111


Guarding Gifford

Man dies in 1.5 mile tunnel after falling from boat By Polly Player

Artist Paul James with his magnificent painting Guarding Gifford based on a photograph he took at the last Braunston Boat Show when he staged an art exhibition at that event which has since moved to Crick. A regular visitor to the Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally and Canal Festival, he will be showing this new painting among many other works of canal art in the Canal Artists’ Tent at the 2014 event over the weekend of June 28-29. PHOTO:TIM COGHLAN

A MAN died after falling from his narrowboat while travelling through Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire. The boater, later named by police as Michael Holgate, 58, from the Windermere area of Cumbria, was travelling through the tunnel on the narrowboat which he owned and lived aboard with his wife. Initial reports suggested that Mr Holgate had fallen from the roof of the narrowboat, however, these claims were quickly discounted as implausible. It is thought that he was steering at the time of the accident, although no further information has yet been released. Harecastle Tunnel, which is 1.5 miles long, was immediately closed to traffic once the accident was reported on Tuesday, May 20. Local fire fighters and officers from Staffordshire Police, as

well as a specialist diving unit from the Nottinghamshire Police, were involved in a search of the tunnel to recover the body. Mr Holgate’s body was ultimately recovered that evening and the tunnel was reopened for navigation the following day. Inspector Andrew Shackleton of the Staffordshire Police stated that the death was an unfortunate, tragic accident, and is not being treated as suspicious. Inspector Shackleton praised the combined efforts of the teams involved in recovering the body, saying: “It was a very difficult environment to work in. It was cramped and very dark inside the tunnel, and radio communication was limited.” Mr Holgate’s wife and immediate family are being supported by Staffordshire Police in the aftermath of this tragic event.

MBE for waterways stalwart in Queen’s birthday honours list WELL-KNOWN waterway enthusiast and resident of Stoke Bruerne, David Blagrove, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for “services to restoration of the UK Waterways”. This is a very short statement summarising a life dedicated to the canals and rivers both as an enthusiast, volunteer and professionally at times in which he has particularly been involved in the retention and promotion of commercial traffic on both narrow and wide waterways; although many will particularly associate him with the Grand Union Canal. Early campaigning involved in running the boat Enterprise at Reading was part of the eventual reopening of the Kennet & Avon Canal and since then he has been part of the restoration scene, holding many offices. David is a national vice-president of the Inland Waterways Association. Living by the Grand Union Canal in the village of Stoke Bruerne – where the Canal & River Trust’s Canal Museum is also based – he is a major supporter and chairman of the Friends voluntary group involved with the museum and promoting the village in general. He is a writer, regular contributor to waterway magazines, author of a number of books, and an entertainer; a witty raconteur


Murder hunt appeal

AS PART of an investigation into the murder of Michael Spalding, West Midlands Police officers are keen to speak to anyone who has used the New Main Line Canal network since mid-April 2014, and seen activity involving a suitcase in the area. The body of Mr Spalding, 39, from Ladywood, was found near Icknield Port Road on May 12. Contact: DC 4580 Mark Harrison, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Homicide Team 6 at Harborne Police Station. Tel. 101, ext 8633029.

Sharers team up THE two largest companies in the

shared ownership sector have joined forces. ABC Boat Share has teamed up with BC Boat Management so that each can bring its greatest strengths to the sector and provide an improved service for owners. BCBM has taken over responsibility for managing the boats for syndicates currently with ABC Boat Share Ltd and is increasing its turn-round and administrative staff.

Fixed lock reopens

MUTFORD Lock, which enables thousands of boats to pass between the Broads and the North Sea each year, is operating again after the replacement of control systems which were irreparably damaged by the December floods. The Broads Authority has overseen £80,000 worth of repairs to the Victorian lock which have been funded from emergency flood funds allocated to the National Parks by Defra. Boaters wishing to use the lock should book in advance with Oulton Broad Yacht Station on 01502 574946 or VHF channel 73.

Fuel theft warning

The Angel boat and some volunteers on its Islington mooring.


David Blagrove, pictured at an event in Braunston, has been given an MBE.


with a fund of original waterway stories and canal songs. One of my favourite David comments was made when after he arrived rather last-minute for a performance. His excuse was that “the M1 was two inches down”; think about it in canal terms! A number of us who have known him for perhaps too many years to remember have said about his honour: about time too. Many more will agree. Congratulations David!

Queen’s award for the Angel THE Angel Community Canal Boat Trust has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for the efforts of its volunteers in running the Islington-based community boat since 1976. As the citation states, they have enabled “thousands of young, disadvantaged, elderly and isolated people on day and residential trips to enjoy the waterways environment, and experience working together as crew and living aboard”. The award comes at a time when the latest round of local authority budget cuts is expected to see the end of the charity’s existing core funding under a service agreement with Islington Council. Volunteers will now have to spend much more time on seeking alternative funding streams to secure the Angel boat’s future.

BOATERS are being warned to beware of fuel thieves along the Grand Union Canal after a number of narrowboats had diesel syphoned from their tanks near Cosgrove. Each boat lost between 20 to 40 litres of red diesel which costs around 87p a litre. The thefts have been reported to the Canal & River Trust and British Transport Police.

More boats daubed

GRAFFITI is not just limited to boats on the Regent’s Canal, as reported in Towpath Talk last month. Boats moored at the Marygate Landings on the River Ouse at York were also targeted recently.


Good trade at Crick – despite the weather A SQUELCHY start to the Crick Boat Show and Waterways Festival did not deter the visitors, with traders reporting a good trade over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. According to the organisers, the final count revealed that 25,921 people visited the show over the course of the long weekend, only fractionally down on last year’s record attendance. Although a freak hailstorm late on Saturday afternoon sent showgoers scurrying to the beer tent, the band played on as more straw was spread over the already sodden ground. Show director Peter Johns said afterwards: “Despite the wet weather, which made vehicle movement on to the site very difficult at times, an

Showgoers voted Shackleton, exhibited by Boating Leisure Services of Heyford Fields Marina, Bugbrooke, as their favourite boat of the show. Pictured with their trophy and bottle of bubbly are: Dave Flowers, Gary Manning and James Attwood. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES

intrepid group of staff and volunteers kept the show open when many other events across the country had to close. “We are very grateful to them for all of their hard work and for the patience of visitors, Crick Marina moorers and local residents in helping us to put on this terrific showcase for Britain’s wonderful inland waterways.” He added that many of the 250 exhibitors reported strong sales. Entertainment at this year’s show included performances from pop icon Toyah Willcox and Paul Hopkins’ tributes to Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Describing Saturday as a “sensational night”,

Visitors take a closer look at some of the boats exhibited on the marina. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON Toyah tweeted: “At Crick, omg the rain… mud bath! But great spirit. You know that great British determination to party… it’s so wet it’s fun.” As well as the live music, the show offered visitors free boat trips, dozens of boats on the marina to look round, a real ale marquee, free children’s entertainment and a large variety of food and drink stalls.

Enjoying the sunshine on Sunday afternoon. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON

The event was organised by Waterways World in partnership with the Canal & River Trust and Crick Marina. ● Next year’s show dates will be May 23-25. For more information visit www.crick or call 01283 742950.

Canal & River Trust chief executive Richard Parry, right, chats to Andy Munro of Fernwood Boats which enjoyed a successful show.


A rare glimpse of sunshine on the Saturday afternoon gave showgoers an opportunity to look round the boats in the marina.


The line-up of historic boats at the Crick Boat Show and Waterways Festival. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON

Brightening the day with their smiles are the team from Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Poole head office who were backing up the Northampton RNLI branch stand. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES


BCN Challenge weekend a huge success – despite the rain! By Polly Player

THE Birmingham Canal Navigations Society’s BCN Challenge event over the weekend of May 24-25 has been hailed as a huge success by all involved, despite torrential rain on the Saturday testing the resolve of the various crews. Designed to encourage boaters to explore the lesser-used sections of the Birmingham Canal Navigations over the course of a 24-hour pointscoring competition, the challenge is now in its fourth year under the stewardship of the BCN Society. It was previously hosted by the IWA for a 10-year run between 1992-2002, with a gap of several years before the event was resurrected. Beginning at 8am on the Saturday, each team begins the challenge at a point of their choosing on the BCN network and works to earn points by means of transiting locks, covering different sections of the network and answering quiz questions along the route. The challenge finished at 2pm on the Sunday, with crews having completed a maximum of 24 hours’ boating with a mandatory six-hour rest period scheduled into the timings. The teams finished this year’s event at Hawne Basin, a restored basin in the Halesowen area managed by the Coombeswood Canal Trust. A total of 39 boats with crews ranging from singlehanders to large teams took part, all converging on Hawne Basin on the Sunday afternoon to enjoy a celebratory party and the excellent hospitality offered by the team at the basin. Once the points data had been collated and checked, the top three teams were revealed as follows: 1 Team Clover, captained by Michael Pinnock, 454 points; 2 Team Tawny Owl, captained by Richard Powell, 416 points; and 3 Team Indigo Dream, captained by Sue Cook, 409 points. The top-scoring teams will be invited to a presentation event at the BCN Society’s AGM in November.


Heavy rain throughout much of the Saturday, and in some areas hail, did little to deter the crews determined to cover large parts of the network and gather a good haul of points, with nine boats at one stage all involved in traversing the Anglesey Branch in convoy. One of the more recognisable crew members taking part in the challenge was Richard Parry, the

Team Tawny Owl, followed by Team Muskrat, entering the basin.

Loughborough festival attracts the crowds THE sunshine brought out the crowds to the Loughborough Canal and Boat Festival over the early May bank holiday weekend. Visiting boats provided a colourful spectacle along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal which was also lined with trade stands and stalls. Nursery rhymes was the theme for the event in its 17th year.

How does your garden grow? Nursery rhymes was the theme for this year’s event. PHOTOS: JANET RICHARDSON LEFT: This boat dog was dressed in a sailor suit to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. BELOW: The colourful scene along the Grand Union Canal towpath.

Team Dove entering the basin in fancy dress.


Canal & River Trust’s chief executive, who took part in the entire weekend as part of the crew of Team Tawny Owl. Mr Parry told Towpath Talk: “It was good to see unfamiliar parts of the BCN, including the Wyrley and Essington Canal, and how extensive the network itself is. Travelling with experienced boaters has allowed me to gain some new insights into the issues that boaters may face around the Birmingham Canal Navigations, such as some anti-social behaviour on the Walsall flight and maintenance issues around other parts of the network.” The BCN Society is already working hard to plan next year’s challenge after the resounding positive feedback that it received after this year’s event. A representative told Towpath Talk: “The BCN Society organises various events to encourage boaters to use all of the 100 miles of the BCN. We were particularly pleased with the way the entrants of the 24-hour challenge got into the spirit of this event by decorating their boats and in some cases themselves and making it such fun. Roy and John, our main organisers, were thrilled to have doubled the number of boats this year. How many next year?” ● Any boaters who are interested in finding out more about the BCN Challenge or the work of the BCN Society can make contact via the website at

Mike Bryant on historic boat Reginald at the finish. Reginald’s hull originated at Stewarts & Lloyds Tube Works in the Halesowen area, near to Hawne Basin.

Sunny day at Shrewsbury Canoe taster sessions on the River Severn were among the many attractions which brought crowds to Shrewsbury’s River Festival on June 8. Town mayor Beverley Baker released thousands of elvers, provided by the Severn Rivers Trust, to help restock the river, before awarding prizes to the best dressed young pirates. Meanwhile the Inland Waterways Association helped hundreds of people decide where to enjoy canal and river boating this summer. PHOTO:ALAN WILDING



Marina plan anger

A SECOND attempt with amendments is being made to build a 200-berth marina on the Llangollen Canal near the Cheshire village of Wrenbury, writes Geoff Wood. But residents are unhappy about the application by Oligra Town Planning and fear there will be extra traffic and noise and a threat to wildlife. Villager Rodney Copping said there was much anger about the proposal in the village. But in a report to Cheshire East Council, Oligra’s David Taylor said the marina would provide a “hub of related leisure activities and boost spending in the local economy”.

Online vote

IN OUR latest online poll at we asked readers what type of home mooring they have. Almost half moored their boats offline in a marina while a quarter had private online moorings. Just under a quarter had no home berths and the remaining 5% had boat club moorings. This month we are asking readers whether they have tackled tidal waters in a narrowboat.

Heritage homes to be built beside Lancaster Canal A NEW development of 14 family homes on the banks of the Lancaster Canal is trail blazing a revolutionary approach to house building. H2O, a partnership between niche property development company bloc and the Canal & River Trust, is introducing house buyers to the new concept of ‘custom-build’ on a canal heritage site, Aldcliffe Yard, situated in the Lancaster city centre conservation area off Aldcliffe Road. Construction work is due to start on

Aldcliffe Yard in September and the whole scheme is due for completion by summer 2015. Mike Atkinson, H2O project manager, said: “Opportunities to buy into such an attractive piece of Lancaster canal heritage don’t come along very often. One of the plots even includes a small, historic cargo crane in the back garden.” Aldcliffe Yard has been lying dormant for several years but will be given a new lease of life by the scheme. The development includes a mixture of brand

Thwaite trips

A WATERMILL in South Leeds has become a popular venue for canal boat trips, writes Geoff Wood. Thwaite Mills at Stourton, which is located on an island between the River Aire and the Aire & Calder Navigation, was recently the starting point for canal rides over a week long period. The mill itself is one of the last remaining examples in Britain of a water-powered mill and is popular for school trips.

An impression of how the new Aldcliffe homes will look. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

A view of the Aldcliffe canal heritage site under the bridge. new three and four bedroom houses as well as refurbished homes created out of listed, stone canal buildings. House buyers can buy off-plan in the conventional way, with prices starting at £275,000 (including stamp duty). However, significant savings can be made by purchasers taking the custombuild route. This is effectively a halfway house between self-build and buying off-plan which allows people a great deal of flexibility over the interior layout of their new home without the risk and responsibility of a traditional self-build. People buy the plot outright, design their own layouts but then hand over the project management of the build to H2O specialists. Mike explained: “Custom-build is proving to be very popular with potential house buyers. People have enjoyed using our interactive customisation website ( to create their dream home. “The software enables you to move walls, perhaps make three large bedrooms instead of four smaller ones, expand your kitchen or move your living space upstairs and then generate your own 3D walk-through. It gives you the

freedom to design a personal layout that is tailor-made for every family’s individual needs. He added: “The build price of the starter specification is pre-agreed with reputable contractors so buyers know what the end cost is likely to be. Any changes they make during the customisation process can, of course, alter the build price but this is carefully tracked so buyers are fully aware of the final cost before they sign the build contract. With specialist self-build mortgages now available and with the custom-build process clearly mapped out, custom-building is far more accessible to buyers than a full scale self-build project.” Part of the profits from the development will be reinvested in the canal network for public benefit. ● For more information about the Aldcliffe Yard development, contact estate agent Paul Lowe at Fisher Wrathall, 01524 68822, email Or Mike Atkinson, H2O project manager, 07983 337545, email

Paving the way for start of Portal project By Bob Clarke

IN THE next few weeks, the Dudley Canal Trust is hoping to announce a start date for the construction of its £3 million heritage, interpretation and visitor centre – The Portal – adjoining the northern end of the Dudley. And in readiness for what will be the biggest development the trust has ever undertaken, it has announced the appointment of a full-time heritage activities officer, Sarah Fellows. Her role with the trust will be to structure workshops and

activities to attract specific groups, such as visiting families, school parties and local interest groups, and to investigate partnership projects with other Dudley-based organisations. Sarah, who is 28, qualified at Birmingham University with an MA in heritage management after gaining a BSc in geology and archaeology. With the necessary legal paperwork and agreements with the funding bodies now nearing completion and architects working on detailed plans, the trust is hoping to announce a start date for building work in July.

A spokesman said it was hoping The Portal would boost visitor figures from an annual average of around 80,000 to at least 100,000. Funding for the scheme has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as well as other charitable bodies. On July 2-5, the trust is holding its second four-day beer festival at its Todds End site off the Birmingham New Road. With admission £1 a head, the festival will feature 30 real ales with proceeds in aid of The Portal.

Main line makeover boost for canalside regeneration

By Bob Clarke

THE Birmingham New and Old Main Line canals will form an important part of a huge £12.1 million scheme to redevelop an area of Smethwick – part of which, including the area around the canals, has been in decline for decades. More than £4 million of European grant funding will kick-start the regeneration which will include a series of works to overhaul much of the canalside, which councillors hope will attract businesses and people back into the area. In addition to the European funding, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council will provide match

funding through the sale of an enterprise centre which will raise £8.1 million. Smethwick is one of the most disadvantaged parts of the borough where youth unemployment is double the national figure of 5.1%. The council’s cabinet member for strategic resources, Coun Steve Eling, said the canalside redevelopment would complement the £42 million Brindley Village II regeneration scheme on the opposite side of the canal. And work is due to start later this year on a development of 200 homes plus shops, roads and open spaces on 12 acres part bordered by the Birmingham New Main Line canal.

Tame canal rubbish raTTles residenTs By Bob Clarke

WHEN vegetation was removed from alongside the Tame Valley Canal in Wednesbury, masses of household waste was uncovered – some of it was thought to have been there for several years. Local residents have complained to the Canal & River Trust with concerns about the rubbish being blown in the canal.

One resident Adrian Berry said: “The canal was only dredged a year ago by the CRT and now it is going to be filled with waste unless something is done. “This part of the canal is popular with dog walkers, cyclists, runners and anglers but this rubbish ruins it for everyone.” A CRT spokesmen said complaints had been received from residents and the trust would be taking action.

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.

Safety first – look after yourself and those on board RYA’s head of cruising, legal and government affairs Gus Lewis writes this month.


• Increased condensation inside windows • Smell of exhaust fumes inside the cockpit or cabin Above all do not install equipment that is not specifically designed for the purpose you intend to fit it for.

Commonwealth flotilla THE news that the partner of a woman who died with her daughter after succumbing to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning on a motorboat in the Lake District has been charged with their manslaughter by gross negligence, has bought our responsibility for those on board into sharp focus. Ensuring that any equipment is functioning as it should and safely is paramount. Whether you are offshore or inland the absolute fundamentals of safety are the same: look after yourself and those on board; have a plan; keep in touch and know your limits. So if you haven’t checked the appliances you have on board that have the potential to produce CO then now is the time to do it. Look out for these tell-tale warning signs of CO: • Burners with yellow or orange rather than blue flames • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances or its flue • Pilot lights that frequently go out • Appliances that are difficult to light and keep lit

On July 26, an eclectic mix of inland and offshore boats will converge on the River Clyde as part of the Commonwealth Flotilla, organised by our colleagues in the North, RYA Scotland. For those taking part in the flotilla it will be a unique opportunity to sail straight into the very heart of the city and moor among the buzz that will be surrounding the start of the Commonwealth Games 2014. It promises to be a very special event and hope that everyone taking part has a great time.

Love thy neighbour

Onto another city but further south – London – and the London Assembly’s report ‘Moor or Less’: Moorings on London Waterways which focuses on the impact of rising boat numbers on canal infrastructure, existing boaters and canalside properties. The report discusses in some detail the issue of air and noise pollution and acknowledges that along most stretches of the waterways, air and noise pollution from boats is not an issue. However, in built up areas, such as parts of the Regent’s Canal, air and

noise pollution has presented problems for residents. In its submission to the consultation process, the RYA points out that whether local residents live in a building or on board a boat, they are all part of the same community. So they should all be under the same duty to be considerate of their neighbours and for their neighbours to be considerate to them. Obviously there are many things which we as a community can do to help mitigate our impact on our neighbours. Using alternative sources of energy production such as solar panels rather than generators are one but if this not a viable option for you, then there are other things you can do. Fitting sound insulation around the engine can cut noise by 85%, and vibration absorbers can reduce structural noise by a similar amount. Regularly servicing your engine will help to reduce emissions (and costs!) and a switch to biodegradable hydraulic and lubricating oils will help The Green Blue, the joint (BMF) British Marine Federation and RYA environmental project produces a handy Green Guide to Inland Boating where you can find more information on using oil and fuels, reducing waste,


Paddles left open

WORKERS from the Canal & River Trust turned out in the middle of the night after a stretch of the Rochdale Canal in Manchester city centre was drained, writes Geoff Wood. A spokesman said the paddles were left open on lock 84 off Great Ancoats Street – one of the main roads through the city. They are unsure whether the water drained away because of a careless boater or through an act of vandalism. Efforts were made by workers to urgently refill the stretch from water further up the network.

Pipe work

SAFETY work has been carried out on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal after an 11-yearold boy fell to his death from a pipe over the waterway, writes Geoff Wood. The work for the National Grid follows calls for the pipe at Burnley, Lancashire, to be made safe. Robbie Williamson fell to his death in April while playing with friends on the pipe.

Holiday winner

CONGRATULATIONS to Peter Williamson of Kelvedon, Essex, who was the lucky winner of our April competition prize of a three-night break in a luxury canalside cottage courtesy of Scottish Canals. Thanks to everyone for entering.

Audio trail WALKING along the Cromford Canal

The Green Guide to Inland Boating. treating sewage and avoiding the spread of non-native invasive species. Finally, I hope you are enjoying the emerging summer which seems to be coming in fits and starts and with intermittent almost tropical downpours and having a great time cruising.

near Derby can now be a highly informative experience, writes Geoff Wood. An audio trail just introduced, tells stories of the canal including the history, engineering successes and also failures including the collapse of a viaduct. There is also a good measure of information on the wildlife including everything from voles to insects and birds. More information about the audio trails is available from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188.



Festival success

THE 21st Rickmansworth Festival was declared the best ever with superb weather and crowds. Members of the IWA Chiltern branch raised money for funds with a successful jumble sale and a range of Wild over Waterways (WOW) activities. There was also a coordinated IWA display with other branches within the London Region. Next year’s festival will take place on May 16-17, 2015. (IWA Chiltern e-News, June)

Funding bid for major canal scheme postponed

Mersey bridge

WORK has started to pave the way for the new Mersey Gateway Bridge. The Sankey Canal will be temporarily infilled where the bridge crosses, to allow an access track to be built across the marsh to the river, where coffer dams will be constructed midstream for the bridge’s piers. The Sankey Canal Restoration Society hopes the Sankey Interlinks Project will bring about the reopening of the Fiddlers Ferry to Spike Island section of the canal soon after the bridge is opened in August 2017. (Canal Cuttings, Spring 2014)

Ancholme problems WINTER storm damage has led to severe bank erosion on parts of the River Ancholme and to the loss of many boat moorings. The Ancholme River Trust is working with the local authorities to attract funding for remedial works and also to carry out weed cutting on the river. Meanwhile the loss of income is preventing the replacement of Harlam Hill Lock tail gates and the lock is closed until further notice. (Easterling, June 2014)

A bridge will be needed under the main north-south railway line. PHOTO: MIKE


COTSWOLD Canals Trust has postponed its bid for Heritage Lottery funding for the next stage of the canal restoration until November 2015. The Trust Council had hoped to submit its bid later this year but following a recommendation by HLF agreed the deferment at its meeting on June 4. Reasons include the cost of the scheme which will be one of the most expensive HLF funded projects in the country; the restoration of the Phase 1A from Stonehouse to east of Bowbridge must be substantially complete and several million pounds of match funding will be needed. The trust is the lead partner in the next

Bench tribute

A BENCH has been unveiled at Knowle Bottom Lock by Meriden MP Caroline Spelman to commemorate Bob Knight’s 40 years as lock keeper. Thanks were expressed on behalf of Bob’s family and friends to Great Haywood boat sales for their generosity in supplying mahogany and to Ian Taylor of Goldsborough Boats for making the bench and to the numerous friends who prepared the site.

stage – Phase 1B – and while it is just four miles long, the civil engineering necessary to achieve the link will be very costly. Challenges include a new bridge at Walk Bridge on Whitminster Lane near Saul, two new bridges under the A38, a canal channel – served by two new locks – alongside the River Frome to provide

Major step forward for towpath trail WATCHED by a crowd of around 70 people, Lichfield Bower Queen Savannah Bennett and Deputy Bower Queen Charlotte Aspley recently officially opened the disabled-friendly section of the Lichfield Canal Heritage Towpath Trail. Special guest Paul Woolley, an advisor to spinal injury units at Oswestry and Sheffield, was the first to prove the trail’s suitability for wheelchair users. Created entirely by volunteers, the disabled-friendly section alongside the A51 Tamworth Road is part of a projected seven mile trail along the towpath of the Lichfield Canal, which is being restored by Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. Trust chairman Brian Kingshott said: “The official opening of the Heritage Towpath Trail represents a major step forward for the Trust. We can now welcome all sections of the community to walk along the restored section of the Lichfield Canal and so see for themselves what a reopened canal would bring to the City and District.”

Guests cheer disability advisor Paul Woolley as he prepares to test trail’s suitability for wheelchair users.


Spreading the organ donation message

Spreading the word: Roy Stillman whose kidney transplant meant he could resume boating. PHOTO SUPPLIED

BOATER and kidney patient Roy Stillman is using his narrowboat Sea Lion to spread the message about organ donation. Three years ago he received a new kidney but prior to that was on dialysis for five-and-a-half years during which most of his activities, including boating, were restricted. Roy told us: “I know that there are many more people who are on the waiting list for transplants of all types of organ and thought that the boat was an ideal way of advertising the need for donors.

“When we die we no longer need our bodies so helping others in this way costs the individual nothing at all.” Roy has found that most people stand and read the notices, on each side of the boat, and there is often a cheer and a thumbs-up sign as well. “Many people have said to me that they have already registered,” he added. Watch out for Roy and his boat on the cut this summer. His home mooring is at Burghfield Island Boat Club on the Kennet & Avon Canal but at the time of going to press, he was due to head up the Thames to Lechlade.

Walking the Sleaford Navigation for Help for Heroes

INTREPID walker and fundraiser Doug Hamilton-Cox arrived in Sleaford to complete the latest section of his challenging tour of the British internal waterways national network. He added the Sleaford Navigation to the long list of canals that he has walked, setting off from Chapel Hill at 10.30am, to walk along the river bank to South Kyme where he met up with local residents before striding out again towards Sleaford where he arrived at 4pm. The 70-year-old ex-soldier undertook his first walk for Help for Heroes five years ago when he walked with wife Sue from their home on Dartmoor to Wootten Bassett in Wiltshire – a distance of 150 miles. “The following year we repeated the exercise with a 250 mile stroll from home to Selly Oak

navigation beneath the M5 motorway and a bridge under the main northsouth railway line. In addition there is a whole ‘missing mile’ where a new canal channel will have to be dug as well as the cost of restoring existing locks, bridges, landing stages, towpaths and the canal channel itself.

Students complete helmsman training

By Harry Arnold

Caldon dates A WEEKEND of events will take

place in September to mark the 40th anniversary of the reopening of the Caldon Canal. IWA North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, which also celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, will be hosting the national AGM in Leek on September 27 and a public event will be held in Cheddleton on September 28. (Knobsticks, Spring 2014)

Walk Bridge near Saul will have to be replaced.

Hospital in Birmingham, the first port of call for our wounded returning from Afghanistan, again with great success,” Doug continued. “I had now developed a severe case of itchy feet, so in 2011 decided to do the ultimate and final walk of John o’ Groats to Land’s End. Mission accomplished but I still couldn’t settle. So I am now halfway through my final challenge of walking all of the 2500 miles of canals in the UK. Sue and I have raised £82,000 to date and aim to make it £100,000 before we finish.” ● More information about Doug and Sue’s travels can be found on

A wave from the Wildernii owners One for the album: members of the Wilderness Boat Owners Club line-up with their boats for this memorable photo taken at the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight following the group descent. The cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal from Pewsey to Semington over the early May Bank Holiday weekend celebrated the 25th anniversary of the club. A spokesman told us: “Everything went as planned and to the itinerary, it was a beautiful day as we descended Devizes Caen flight, and more importantly to us Wildernii owners – windless!” PHOTO: PETER HUISH

Dave Pullen and Steve Hayes of Sleaford Navigation Trust accompanied Doug in his walk and the photo shows Doug and Dave with Chris Hayes, chairman of the trust, outside Navigation House in Sleaford at the end of the walk. PHOTO SUPPLIED

ECKINGTON School students Samuel Bell and Jamie Parker have completed their RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman training with RYA Instructor David Morris on board the Chesterfield Canal Trust trip boat, the Hugh Henshall. Jamie and Samuel have been involved from the the start of Eckington School’s narrowboat project, and as the project nears completion, are looking forward to getting out on the water with their own boat which will be launched at the Chesterfield Canal Festival over the weekend of June 28-29. Prior to their training course, the two Eckington pupils have been working with Messrs Morris and Kiddy to gain experience handling narrowboats and the course was the culmination of that process. They both handled the boat competently, dealing with some fairly tricky conditions as it was quite windy at times.

Treading the towpath at Crick THE Towpath Treaders are local volunteers who have formed a group with the aim of improving the towpath at Crick. They had a stand at the Crick Boat Show and ran a tombola which raised £100 for the group’s funds. “We are trying to improve this amenity for boaters and for the village so it is win-win all round,” explained Ann Huttey. They aim to access match funding from the Canal & River Trust in support of their projects which include improving the towpath between Bridges 12 and 14 on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal. As well as working on circular walks in the area, they will be taking part in celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the Crick Tunnel on Saturday, August 9. treaders


The barrel-roofed cottage alongside Lock 28 of the South Stratford Canal. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Barrel-roofed cottage is rolled out for auction A HISTORIC barrel-roofed lockside cottage will be going under the hammer on Tuesday, July 8 with a guide price of £300,000. The 200-year-old property at Rowington, in Warwickshire ,originally housed a lock keeper or lengthmaster and is described by auctioneers John Earle & Son as unique to the South Stratford Canal, where there are only six in existence. No 3 Lock Cottages, at Lock 28 off Dicks Lane, has never been offered on the open market before and retains many of its original features, having been sympathetically updated in recent times to offer 21st century facilities. The quirky appearance of these cottages has a simple explanation – the engineers and workers involved in the building of the canal knew more about building bridges and tunnels than conventional houses with pitched roofs, and when they were instructed to build the keeper’s cottages along this part of the canal, they adapted their skills accordingly. The South Stratford Canal is also renowned for its split bridges – constructed with a gap to allow the towropes of the horses to pass through, so the

boatmen did not have to unhitch them from the boat as they travelled along the towpath. Accommodation includes a living room, breakfast kitchen, utility room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Outside, there is a lawned garden to the rear, leading to a paddock with a variety of outbuildings, including a poultry house, stable area and workshop – in all the property stands in 2.28 acres. Peter Cornford, senior partner at John Earle, said: “The bringing of this unusual property to the market offers a rare opportunity to those who wish to indulge in a peaceful, rural, waterside existence.” Subject to prior sale and reserve, the cottage will be offered for sale by public auction at 6.30pm at Henley Golf & Country Club, Beaudesert, Henley-in-Arden B95 5QA. ● For further information, please contact Peter Cornford on 01564 794343 email: website:

Little things mean a lot for canal trust

FAMED for a string of chart successes, including Little Things in the swinging Sixties, pop star Dave Berry is now a big hit with the Chesterfield Canal Trust. He recently cycled the full length of the Chesterfield Canal from Chesterfield to West Stockwith on the River Trent – a distance of 46 miles – to raise funds for the trust. Dave was accompanied by two friends – Jeff Troops and Ian Stott. Trust members George Bunting and Rod Auton went the first 18 miles to Shireoaks, where the group stopped for some well-earned refreshment at Laura’s Coffee Shop. “We had a really wonderful day, though it was hard going towards the end on the grass towpath,” Dave said afterwards. “The canal is really beautiful and I recommend anyone to walk or cycle along it.”

Dave Berry with Laura Elliott of Laura’s Coffee Shop and Chesterfield Canal Trust membership secretary Kath Auton. PHOTO: CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST He lives locally and first 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 their volunteers do and decided to help.

Save and stabilise historic horseboat THE owner of two ex-Thomas Clayton Tar boats is urgently appealing for someone to step in and save one of them, which otherwise faces being broken up. Michael Bryan and his wife have owned Monnow and Umea for more than 35 years, and as a former British Waterways mooring warden he was entitled to free moorings for the boats. However, with the discontinuation of mooring wardens – and mooring – he can only keep one of the

historic boats and intends to concentrate funds on Umea. According to Michael, Monnow is in very parlous condition, with most of the bows either gone or hanging by a thread. He told us: “Back in the early-80s we had the stern rebuilt (but not the bottom). As a Tar boat the hold is stanked off and has been relatively watertight, thus keeping her afloat. She is now starting to leak and needs to be dry docked, caulked, tarred, and probably

tingled along the waterline. This remedial work would, I believe, stabilise her for a few years to allow for the possibility of future restoration. This would be a large restoration project.” As far as he is aware Monnow is the only Thomas Clayton horseboat, apart from Gifford, still extant and as such he would have hoped worth saving. If you can help, ring Michael on 07966 236196 or email



Good work continues at Wardle Lock

Towpath project at Hatton

SIXTEEN volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire and IWA Shrewsbury and North Wales Branches, together with members of the Trent & Mersey Canal Society, gathered recently for the second Wardle Lock work party in Middlewich.

OVER the last two years, IWA Warwickshire Branch has been clearing the vegetation and obstacles from the offside path between the locks in the middle of Hatton flight on the Grand Union Canal. The aim is to restore a safe pathway and the next task to complete was the pairing back of an embankment alongside the lock landing at Lock 31. Work began on the morning of Sunday, May 4, with the first task to remove the sticky clay from the embankment at Lock 31 before bagging it and loading it into a CRT hopper. A retaining wall of posts was then driven into a trench that was filled with concrete to prevent the embankment encroaching on the lock landing in the future. The clay that had been removed was then transported to the other end of the pound, above Lock 30, where it was unloaded and spread over the rubble on the offside towpath. The rubble had been previously laid as a new towpath surface by earlier IWA work parties.

Volunteers painting railings at Wardle Lock. PHOTO: BOB LUSCOMBE

They continued where the previous work party had left off with the aim to work on the lock and surrounding area so that it once again resembled the days when the late Maureen Shaw lived in the former lock cottage acting for many years as unofficial lock keeper. The lock gates were finished with a fresh coat of paint and with the use of a CRT workboat, the team was able to make significant impact on the offside vegetation that had become very overgrown over the years restricting navigation below the lock entrance. So much vegetation was removed that the workboat was left full at the end of the day. In addition, volunteers collected and removed over 10 bags of rubbish that had been deposited under the road bridge at the junction of the Trent & Mersey Canal and Wardle Canal. Boaters approaching the locks from the Trent & Mersey at the end of the day commented that it was like arriving somewhere totally different from what they were used to. A great example of IWA branches working together with both local canal societies and the CRT.

A productive and sociable day for Brindley Bank work party volunteers

First outing for new Congleton venture THE weather did not look promising for the first IWA work party at Congleton alongside the Macclesfield Canal on Friday, May 23. However, as the start time approached, the clouds broke and the sun shone through and 16 volunteers, mainly from the local area, turned up to undertake litter picking, step clearance, cutting back overhanging vegetation on the towpath and other vegetation work around the area. This was the first work party planned as a new venture between IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch, Canal & River Trust, Congleton Town Council, Congleton Sustainability Group, Cheshire East Council and Northern Rail as part of a broader project to enhance the whole area around Congleton Station and the canal. It is hoped that this will encourage use of the canal as it becomes a more attractive destination for boaters, cyclists and walkers visiting the town or using the railway station. The initiative was originally started up following a meeting with the MP Fiona Bruce, an IWA member, who presented her ideas to a small group some months ago. IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch, working closely with a number of town councillors, responded to the challenge by setting up a first ‘tester’ work party to gauge interest in such a project and the

Volunteers painting the aqueduct railings at Brindley Bank. PHOTO: MARGARET BEARDSMORE

‘Bloody Steps’ railings were painted by a second team, one of the steps which has been wonky for years was straightened, undergrowth was cleared, grass cut and litter picked. As ever, there was plenty of homemade cake for the volunteers, one of which, a passing boater, was attending his first work party. Other boaters put the kettle on for the branch and stayed for a chat so the day turned out to be both productive and sociable.

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 arrangement indicated.

Tuesday, July 1

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

Volunteers at IWA’s first Congleton work party. PHOTO: BOB LUSCOMBE number of residents who turned up showed that there was indeed great support. At the end of the first work party that focused on clearing the somewhat overgrown steps between the canal and the station and also cutting back overhanging branches along the towpath, the results spoke for themselves. With endorsement from those volunteers who supported the idea, more dates are planned in what is expected to become a new series of regular work parties along the Macclesfield Canal between Congleton Wharf and Buglawton.

Bridge 38 at Denford and Hazelhurst Junction, and along the Leek Arm as far as the aqueduct. A surprising amount of rubbish was found for such a peaceful rural location, including discarded oil cans and other larger items. Following that, volunteers cleared vegetation and prepared some ground for a new storage shed that will be used for the storing of work party tools.

Good turnout of volunteers

Volunteer Chris Osborn painting at Falling Sands

FOURTEEN volunteers joined IWA Lichfield Branch’s recent work party at Brindley Bank on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Rugeley. The CRT’s Barry Keight was there to support the work party with a welfare van, supply truck, cement mixer and the rest of the gear from the branch’s extensive ‘wish list’. Lots of work was completed over the day. The bricklaying team built the canal wall to within one brick height of the level needed, the aqueduct and


Preparing for Caldon Canal storage shed POURING rain on Thursday, May 8, meant that the planned work to continue painting the cast iron bridge at Hazelhurst Junction on the Caldon Canal could not take place. Nevertheless, volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust still turned up and got to work. They began with a litter pick between

Embankment works by Lock 31. PHOTO: GRETA RUSSELL

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch’s monthly work party on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal on Wednesday, May 14, saw a good turnout of volunteers returning to Falling Sands Lock, just south of Kidderminster, to finish the painting on the footbridge across the tail of the lock. As well as completing the footbridge, one volunteer litter picked along the towpath between Falling Sands Lock and the railway viaduct above Falling Sands Bridge, collecting four bags of litter.

Thursday, July 17 and Saturday July 19

Wednesday, July 2 and Monday July 7

IWA Warwickshire Branch supporting Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce: Kingswood Junction, Lapworth. Meet at CRT maintenance yard, Brome Hall Lane, Lapworth, Solihull B94 5RB. 10am to approx. 3pm.

Every Wednesday

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Trent & Mersey Canal Society: Monthly work party on the Cheshire Locks, Trent & Mersey Canal. 10am to 4pm. Meeting point to be confirmed. Bob Luscombe 07710 054848,

IWA Warwickshire Branch supporting Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce: Hatton, Grand Union Canal. Meet at CRT maintenance yard, Hatton Locks, Birmingham Road, Warwick CV35 7JL. 10am to approx. 3pm. 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. Martin Bird 01394 380765,

Saturday, July 5

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch: Monthly work party on the Dee Branch in Chester. 10am to 4pm. Meet at Telfords Warehouse car park, Chester CH1 4EZ. Contact Mike Carter 07795 617803

Wednesday, July 9

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch: Monthly work party on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. 10am to 3pm. Himalayan Balsam work party at Falling Sands Bridge, accessed via Lisle Avenue, off Stourport Road, Kidderminster. David Struckett 07976 746225,

Thursday, July 10

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust: Himalayan Balsam work party. Meet at Consall Lime Kilns to walk upstream to Oakmeadowford Lock and work downstream back towards Consall. 10am to 3pm. Alison Smedley, IWA branch campaign officer, 07779 090915,

Saturday, July 12

Shrewsbury & Newport Canal Trust supported by IWA Shrewsbury District and North Wales Branch: Himalayan Balsam work party. Meet outside the Black Shed, Water Lane, Newport (adjacent Cosy Hall TF10 7LD). Parking limited but other town car parks nearby if that one is full. 10am to 4pm. John Myers, 07711 858986

Sunday, July 13

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

Saturday, July 19

Monday, July 21

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust. Evening stroll to pull up Himalayan Balsam as we walk along to Cheddleton and back. Meet at The Holly Bush PH, Denford. 7-9pm. Alison Smedley, IWA branch campaign officer, 07779 090915,

Tuesday, July 22

IWA Leicestershire Branch and Canal & River Trust: Work party to clear invasive plants between Freeman’s Meadow and St Mary’s Mill Locks in Leicester. Meet at Leicester Rowing Club, Upperton Road LE2 7AU. 10am to 2pm. Tom Freeland 01827 252010 or 07789 033435,

Thursday, July 24

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch, Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and Churnet Valley Railway. Himalayan Balsam work party, Consall Station downstream to Flint Mill Lock. Meet at Consall Station car park (parking available). 10am to 3pm. Alison Smedley, IWA branch campaign officer, 07779 090915,

Thursday, July 24

IWA Chiltern Branch: Annual Himalayan Balsam work party at Marsworth. Meet at CRT’s Bulbourne Yard, Upper Icknield Way, Bulbourne. 10am-2pm.

Monday, July 28

IWA Chiltern Branch: Second Himalayan Balsam work party, this time in Rickmansworth along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal starting at Batchworth Lock. Meet at Rickmansworth Aquadrome, Frogmoor Lane, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire WD3 1NB where there is plenty of parking. 10am-2pm.

Tuesday, July 29

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

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 Information can also be found on IWA’s website:


A dirty weekend in Birmingham THE annual Birmingham Canal Navigations clean-up took place recently, reports Steve Bingham of Dudley Canal Trust. This event had been in the planning for around six months with Chris Morgan at the helm. Organised by the IWA Midlands Branch, Waterway Recovery Group, Canals & River Trust, Birmingham Canal Navigations Society and Dudley Canal Trust, it concentrated around the Garrison Locks, Ashted Locks and Camp Hill Locks area of Birmingham plus the stretches of canal that joins them all up. This part of the canal is known as the Grand Union Canal; some would say it’s not part of the BCN, But we say any canals that lead to the BCN should be kept clear as possible for navigation. Around 80 volunteers came from all corners of England and Wales to experience a dirty weekend in Birmingham. Overnight accommodation was kindly supplied by the Phoenix Trading Services Midlands Ltd of Phoenix Wharf and outside moored up was historic narrowboat Swallow that was open during the weekend and lit up during the night. Following a Saturday morning briefing meeting where everybody signed on for the day each given a pair of work gloves

and a long rope with a grapple on the end, they were dropped off in the WRG vans at certain locations around the lock flights. There they started pulling out the scrap and rubbish that is normally found in the canal, piling it all up on the towpath. BCNS bought along nb Phoenix and Crow which started collecting the rubbish from the top lock at Ashted working their way down into Typhoo Basin. At the same time DCT’s 80year-old tug Bittell towing the Flying Scott joey boat started collecting rubbish from the bottom of Garrison locks working their way up the flight. By lunchtime both boats were 80% full and met at Bordsley Junction. CRT had bought one of its work boats along and was working down Camp Hill lock Flight again collecting rubbish on the way. It was nice to see waterway manager Dean Davies mucking in with all the other volunteers as well. Having cleared all three lock flights in just one day, it was decided to do a clean-up along the 10-mile pound towards Selly Oak on the Sunday. We did not have to go far to find more rubbish and in no time at all we had our boat nearly full by the third bridge hole!

Rubbish piled up on the Flying Scott joey boat alongside tug Bittell.

Volunteers prepare to grapple with the rubbish along the towpath. PHOTOS: MARTIN ATTEWELL It was nice to see CRT chief executive Richard Parry who turned out to help, throwing rubbish into the Flying Scott joey Boat. By the end of the day it was worked out that we all shifted around 40 tons of rubbish and scrap between us. I wish to extend my thanks to everybody who came along to this ever popular annual event.

Collecting up the rubbish pulled out of the canal.

Maintain, improve, restore THESE three words sum up the reason for Coombeswood Canal Trust based at Hawne Basin on the Dudley Number 2 canal in the heart of the Black Country. A charitable trust, part of its aims and objectives is to look after the local canal and recently used the old practice of ‘joey’ boating to move rubbish by boat to the Dudley Number 2 Canal. After a number of work parties manned by Coombeswood Canal Trust volunteers, a great deal of debris was collected. This involved trips with work boat Hawne and ‘joey’ boat Ringo

along the canal clearing rubbish, painting out graffiti from bridges and cutting back large quantities of overhanging branches from the offside of the canal between Windmill End junction and Halesowen. The trust is very pleased that the Canal & River Trust is working alongside it in this venture and supplied a driver and lorry to unload the joey boat

at CRT’s wharf at Windmill End. This involved the towing of the fully-loaded joey boat, by volunteer crew, through the tunnel from its home base at Hawne Basin. More work is planned for the autumn, when volunteers will be cutting back more overhanging trees and CRT will again be helping in the disposal of the resulting brash.

● Coombeswood Canal Trust welcomes new members and is always looking for volunteer help. Visit www.hawne and contact the trust for more details.

Runners help to ‘bed in’ canal improvements CANAL volunteers in Little Lever made way for almost 400 runners taking part in Radcliffe AC’s 10k multi-terrain race. The work party from the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society was laying six tonnes of new stone on the towpath around Ladyshore Bridge, to patch up potholes. Organiser Stuart Hammond said: “It was great to see all the runners on the towpath. The canal is really scenic around here and is really popular with walkers, cyclists and runners. But having 100s of runners – especially people who may not have visited the area before – helping to ‘bed in’ the hundreds of barrow-loads of stone we have laid, is terrific! I’m sure they appreciate Runners pass a volunteer on the towpath. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Helping to lay six tonnes of new stone. the hard work we have done.” This was the latest in the Canal Society’s monthly work parties. Future activities include clearing vegetation, weed dredging and ‘balsam’ bashing at various canal sites, including near the eye-catching Meccano bridge at Nob End.

● For full details of events, including when and where to meet, visit the Canal Society’s website or Facebook page.


Ladybird Boat Trust flies into action

New wheelyboat launched at Galloway Activity Centre

THE recently formed Ladybird Boat Trust has been officially launched by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly, at Hartford Marina near Huntingdon. It has been set up to ensure that the services successfully developed over the past five years by Waterwing, part of St John Ambulance, can continue to provide river trips on the Great Ouse to disadvantaged members of the community.

The boat Ladybird is wheelchair accessible and accommodates up to 20 passengers in a large heated cabin complete with kitchen and toilet facilities. A group of 24 volunteers give their time and skills to crew the boat, running about 100 trips each year from April to September. Trips, which are free of charge, are open to groups of disadvantaged or disabled people of all ages.

Annette Gray, boatmaster on the day of the launch ceremony, with local MP Jonathon Djanogly.

Guests attending the launch of the Ladybird Boat Trust prepare for a short river cruise on the Great Ouse after the opening ceremony.

Alan Worth, chairman of the Ladybird Boat Trust with Mr Hugh Duberly, Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, cutting the ribbon. PHOTOS: GERRY METCALFE ● For more information visit

A WHEELCHAIR accessible Mk III Wheelyboat specially designed for disabled people was recently launched on Loch Ken at Galloway Activity Centre. Loch Ken is southern Scotland’s largest loch and is largely inaccessible to disabled people. However, Galloway Activity Centre’s new Mk III Wheelyboat will provide disabled people, their families, friends and carers with safe and independent access to the water. The centre’s director Richard Herman said: “There are other wheelyboats in the area, however this is the first one to be used for wildlife spotting and pleasure boating. My aim is to be able to share the wonder of the wildlife, including red kites, otters and lots of seasonal birdlife, as widely as possible and being out on the water is a really special experience.” The Mk III Wheelyboat is boarded via a drop-down bow door for roll-on, roll-off access. The deck is open and level throughout with room for eight adults, including wheelchairs. It has a drive-from-wheelchair console giving people even with severe impairments the ability to helm the boat themselves.

Director of The Wheelyboat Trust Andy Beadsley with Richard Hermon and Jennifer Tobin at the boat launch on Loch Ken. With thousands of acres of navigable water directly accessible from the centre, the wheelyboat will be used for pleasure boating, nature watching, coarse fishing, power boat training and instruction and as a support vessel for other activities. It will provide the centre’s disabled visitors with a level of independence and freedom unavailable in any other craft. The Wheelyboat was formally launched by Jennifer Tobin, founder and chief executive officer of South West Scotland RnR, a charity that provides adventurous holidays for injured service personnel. Funds for the project have been raised by The Wheelyboat Trust from: Scotbelge Charitable Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, W A Cargill Fund, Barfil Charitable Trust, JTH Charitable Trust, RKT Harris Charitable Trust and Sylvia Patterson

● Galloway Activity Centre: ● The Wheelyboat Trust:

Students stir up new ideas for trips BEDFORD College students have been helping to stir up new ideas for trips on board the award-winning John Bunyan community boat for the 2014 season. In its maiden year the boat carried 4000 visitors but is expected to take thousands more in 2014 as private charter and business bookings have boomed. Bedford College was one of the local organisations which helped to fund the boat – it gave a donation of £5000 on condition its Travel & Tourism students could have a real input into sales and marketing. In 2013 students put together the Town & Anchor Cruise package taking people from Bedford to Great Barford. In 2014 they have come up with something new – a link to local schools to take curriculumsupporting trips. Graham Mabbutt, chairman of the Bedford Milton Keynes Waterway Trust, which runs the boat, said: “It has been great to get so many people thinking about

the benefits of the river to tourism for Bedford. Our long term plan is to see the waterway linked to the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes. The John Bunyan Boat is helping to promote that idea. “The boat has been welcomed and supported by so many people – but we always need more volunteers to keep us afloat.” The busy schedule of public and charter cruises includes the Bedford River Festival in July, for which more volunteers are urgently needed. The trust asks for a commitment of two to four sessions a month from April to October for crew, and a couple of hours a week for shore team members. Vacancies include: afloat – cabin and deck crew, helms, trainee and qualified boatmaster; ashore – graphic designers, display and bookings team members, maintenance and cleaning team members, scheduler, recruiter and interim sales director.

Community boating roundup This month National Community Boats Association chairman Derek Stansfield brings us some news from around the network. A YOUNG volunteer working with Swinton Lock Activity Centre, an Accredited Training Centre of the NCBA, has received an award for his outstanding contribution to people and communities in Rotherham. Nathan Garner, 13, was nominated for the Young Volunteer Award after undertaking a training programme to work on narrowboats which enables wheelchair users to enjoy the experience of the canal trips. He had been the victim of bullying, both in and out of school, and his role at Swinton Lock has helped him enormously with his self-esteem and confidence. He has now been able to advise and support other students

at the centre on how to deal with bullying issues and where to seek help. As well as gaining his own qualifications, Nathan has gone on to deliver training talks to other groups at the centre. He has shown an overwhelming commitment to helping others, both young and old, giving up evenings and weekends to assist groups of disabled adults and children. He has recently been involved in the establishment of a volunteer group and a voice and influence group to enable other disadvantaged young people to develop the skills to work in the local community, and now assists the staff team as the lead young volunteer.

● You can see Nathan volunteering on the Swinton Lock narrowboat on Youtube. (Nathan Garner young volunteer award Rotherham) For further Information on Swinton Lock Activity Centre please contact the centre on 01709 578778 For information about volunteering at other NCBA projects, details of these can be found on the NCBA website at LEFT: Nathan Garner with his award. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

The John Bunyan community boat has vacancies for volunteer crew. PHOTO: B&MKWT ● If you can help please contact Chris on If you would like to get aboard the John Bunyan boat as a passenger, volunteer or learn more about the

Bedford Milton Keynes Waterway, visit Prices for trips start from £8 for adults, £6 seniors and £5 children or £20 for a family.

Meeting with the Canal and River Trust

NCBA chairman Derek Stansfield and company secretary Bob Ratcliffe recently met CRT chief executive Richard Parry at Peel’s Wharf, Fazeley. The early part of the meeting allowed both parties to acquaint each other with their aims and objectives and to clarify where they are at the moment in their development.This was followed by an open and frank discussion on issues including boat licensing and volunteering which are relevant to both the NCBA and CRT.


The Canal & River Trust recently published its concerns over the detrimental impact that the current route of HS2 may have on the waterways and in particular on some proposed regeneration projects. The NCBA supports this statement in principle and is contacting members in order to collate specific issues where the HS2 will directly impact on them.

Trainers’ courses

There will be at least three courses leading to the NCBA trainers’ qualifications that will be held towards the end of the season. Details of these should be available by the time of the next Towpath Talk edition and will be posted on the news section of the NCBA website as soon as they are arranged.

Trainers at one of their courses.

Refresher courses

NCBA trainers must update their qualifications every five years to bring them up to date with any changes within the NCBA training and qualifications structure as well as being able to discuss and experience new practices. It is also an excellent medium for disseminating ideas and methods. Three courses were held over the winter and spring season and further ones are planned towards the end of the current season. Again details of these will be posted on the NCBA website.

Annual general meeting

Next year’s NCBA AGM has been scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2015, and will once more be held at the Forest Arts Centre, Hawbush Road, Leamore, Walsall WS3 1AG.

Board of Trustees

Trustees to the board are elected at an AGM and serve intially for a period of three years. They are eligible for election for a further three-year period at the end of which they must step down for at least a year. Of the current trustees, Derek Stansfield and Bob Ratcliffe were still serving their elected terms of office; therefore there were several vacancies on the board and the following volunteers were elected for a three-year term: Lee Davies (The Sobriety Project), Patrick Titman (Accessible Boating Association), Paul Unwin (Chesterfield Canal Trust) and Neville Ward (The Wharf Narrowboat).



Something old, something new… Harry Arnold catches up with developments at the National Waterways Museum THE traditional Easter Gathering of Boats at Ellesmere Port’s National Waterways Museum, again incorporating a Sea Shanty Festival, gave us a chance to not only see the site during this busy annual event but to look at some recent developments. There have of course been a few since the five of us founded the original organisation some 43 years ago. Although there were fewer boats to see, as many members of the Historic Narrow Boat Club were at their own event at Foxton, there were more than enough to create the usual colourful spectacle. With the shanties and the sunshine it brought an increased number of visitors to the museum over the weekend; certainly more than I remember seeing on a previous Good Friday. Friday also saw a VIP visit by the Mayor

of Ellesmere Port, Coun Bob Crompton and Canal & River Trust chief executive Richard Parry, who – in training for the Montgomery Canal Triathlon – cycled to the museum from Chester and back along the towpath. The visit also provided a forum to discuss the interaction between the local authority and CRT on such matters as car parking, which is becoming a problem at events such as this. The huge turnout of ‘shanty men’ and in these modern times ‘shanty women’ from solo singers to larger groups really gives a new entertainment dimension to the annual Easter Gathering and brings with it an atmosphere of the deep sea, just down the Mersey Estuary. Real-ale aficionados also appreciated the special bar they brought with them. Among the visiting boats was one which was an essential part of

Coun Bob Crompton, Mayor of Ellesmere Port, is shown around Saturn by project treasurer Bob Jervis, accompanied by CRT chief executive Richard Parry, NWM manager John Inch and project education officer Sue Yates. PHOTOS:WATERWAY IMAGES Nancy Ridgeway’s son Bob and brother Frank were there for the launch of her book ‘Memories of a Wartime Canal Boatwomen’ with editors Timothy Peters (left) and Mike Clarke (right). The NWM collection’s Leeds & Liverpool Canal boat Bacup is featured on the cover in her working days. Ellesmere Port’s trading history – the restored Shropshire Union fly-boat Saturn. The boat’s owning group, the Shropshire Union Fly-boat Restoration Society has always held its AGM at the event.

Book launch

Boats and visitors seen from the Island Warehouse.

Expert Ann Gardiner teaches Richard Parry the art of crochet.

There was also a launch – of a book not a boat – in which the publication of the NWM is involved. Much has been written about wartime trainee boatwomen elsewhere but virtually nothing about the few who worked on the Leeds & Liverpool. Nancy Ridgeway’s ‘Memories of a Wartime Canal Boatwomen’ has rectified this. Regrettably Nancy died recently but her brother Frank and son Bob and his family were there at the launch in the archives to add their own memories of her. A new attraction housed in the Island Warehouse is an exhibition tracing the

Bridgewater barge Bigmere’s hold was a resounding space for shanty singing.

Discussing the work to be done on Ferret are head of Museums & Attractions Wendy Capelle, trainee Alex De Leie, trainee Dawn Tigwell, Heritage Boatyard supervisor Dave Linney and Richard Parry.

Archivist Linda Barley, assisted by archive volunteers Carl Collier and Cynthia Green show historian BMS historian Joseph Boughey some interesting Leeds & Liverpool documents.

history of the growth of the town of Ellesmere Port, not just the NWM, mainly in timelines, photographs and other illustrative material. It is undoubtedly fascinating and something to place the museum firmly within a local concept but I thought that there were at least one or two known interesting pictures missing. On the boat collection front: Following the superb award-winning restoration of the Bridgewater Box Boat the Historic Boatyard’s professional team, trainees and BMS volunteers are turning their attention to the ex-FMC motor boat Ferret and one of the collection’s earliest acquisitions the Mersey Flat Mossdale; originally donated by fellow-founder Peter Froud. Both are out of the water; the huge bulk of Mossdale which, because of the lifting out and somewhat fragile condition of the timbers, is contained in a steel frame and sits there rather like a beached whale. Hopefully work will start shortly or, out of the water, rot could rapidly spread further. Presumably, because of the previous experience on restoring Mendip, Ferret will present fewer problems? It seems hard to believe that it was once restored professionally for Nottingham Museum.

Online archive

From boats to buildings: The Porters Row terrace of houses is scaffolded and closed to visitors for extensive repairs as is the Lime Shed down by the Bottom Basin. Also closed to the public is the Accumulator/Pump House, apparently due to safety problems, although we understand it was cleared by the Health & Safety Executive in the past. We also had our ears severely bent in the Engine House – not by mechanical noise – but by skilled volunteers who have current problems with H&S regulations in running some of the engines. Following the consolidation of records from Gloucester the contrasting quiet of the archives actually hides a hive of activity by staff and volunteers who are working not only to catalogue the masses of documents but working to make them available online. Changes in

staffing will provide knowledgeable and helpful archivist Linda Barley more assistance so the archive will be open to researchers and volunteer helpers on weekdays. The lady in charge of it all – CRT’s head of museums & attractions division Debby Lumb – is on leave and Wales & Borders waterway manager Wendy Capelle is temporarily standing in for her. Collections manager Dale Copley has left to pursue a further academic qualification and Margaret Harrison will take over until a new appointment is made later in the year. On the Boat Museum Society side, Jeff Fairweather has recently been elected chairman. He lives in Ellesmere Port which is handy for the job. Operation of the NWM and the organising of the Easter weekend depends much on the support of voluntary groups, particularly the BMS, whose members work hard on organisation and such practical matters like locking the boats through and getting them into moorings. Other groups, within and outside the museum’s organisation – such as a Crochet Group, the Chester & Merseyside Branch of IWA and the Waterways Craft Guild – along with some traders in interesting crafts such as wood carving and musical instrument repair provide interesting smaller exhibits. Speaking about the weekend CRT’s NWM manager John Inch said: “This year’s Easter Gathering and Sea Shanty Festival was a huge success and 5% up on the previous Easter… the National Waterways Museum welcomed lots of visitors of all ages who enjoyed the boats, the beer, the music and all the activities throughout the entire weekend.” Personally, I have what might be described as a proprietary bias about the NWM and Ellesmere Port. There are always changes going on and something new to see. And as someone who had the Manchester Ship Canal at the bottom of my street for the first 21 years of my life, I just love the added spectacle of the passing ships.

Mersey Flat Mossdale lifted out for restoration with financial help of £147,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.



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Holidays Food & drink Boat review

Engine firm revs up for move to new premises

In their new base at Church Minshull Aqueduct Marina are Karen Sivewright, Mick Sivewright and Marzipan.

CHESHIRE Marine Equipment, based at Middlewich for many years at King’s Lock Boatyard, has now moved to new premises at Church Minshull Aqueduct Marina. Specialising in Vetus engines and equipment, the business is still owned and run by Mick Sivewright, his daughter Karen Sivewright and David McAllister providing the same, attention-to-detail, service as always. Mick said: “Moving to Aqueduct Marina has helped us to extend our business in the way that we wished. The excellent facilities and ease of access helped us to make the choice. Our change of name to Cheshire Marine Equipment reflects the move and development of our business plan.” Robert Parton, director of Aqueduct Marina said: “Having Cheshire Marine Equipment based here at our marina complements our business very well. We already have a chandlery and boat repair section along with our boat painting and DIY storage yard so Mick, Karen and David’s expertise makes

Boat trips in demand at Trinity Marina open day

Products & reviews What’s on Bits & Bobs

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New faces at inland marinas CASTLE Marinas Ltd has a new manager and assistant manager at its marinas at Wigrams Turn and Ventnor in the Warwickshire countryside near Rugby. New manager Lee Cooper-Blair and assistant manager Karen Hughes bring with them a wealth of business and customer relationship experience. As a teenager Lee worked for the Black Prince Fleet at Napton Marina then went on to study Engineering at University, followed by jobs with Massey Ferguson and Calor Gas where she met husband Dave. The affinity with canals continued as they live in the local village and regularly walk dog Phoebe on the towpaths, helping out with locks. Lee’s more recent career moved into the field of business consultancy and troubleshooting for small businesses. She came back into the marina environment 18 months ago providing some admin support in the Wigrams office parttime and jumped at the opportunity to go on to apply for the manager’s position. “It’s a case of ‘business consultant stops advising and starts doing,’ she commented. “I love the marinas, their positions are perfect as there are so many

cruising routes to take from both marinas. Plus having your car so close to your boat is an added bonus especially at Ventnor; it’s really not difficult to see why there are so many long term moorers at both marinas.” Assistant manager Karen made a life-changing decision four years ago, selling her house and moving with husband Frank and Jessie the dog to a 62ft semi-trad narrowboat, without even setting foot on a canal boat before! Mooring at Overwater Marina for the last four years – they are both ‘hooked’ and Karen’s role as assistant manager combines her love of canal and boats with her experience of office management, customer service and administration. She has previous experience in customer service and administration with Mars and the National Health Service. “I am so lucky that I have been able to find what I think is the perfect combination of hobby meets work,” she said. “Wigrams is a great place to be and work and Ventnor is the most beautiful setting in the Warwickshire countryside with access to so many fantastic waterway possibilities.”

Beware of bogus boat ads

By Harry Arnold

FOLLOWING the successful first 2013 Open Day at Hinckley’s Trinity Marina, this year’s event was somewhat disappointing in both layout, the number of attractions and apparent visitor attendance. Last year much use was made of the area of grass between the pub and the road and the adjacent Ashby Canal frontage, which made quite a busy spectacle; whereas public attractions this year – which appeared to be less anyway – were rather tucked away in the marina mooring area and the adjacent car park. The centre of attraction in the marina basin was the activities of the Hinckley & Bosworth Model Boat Club with a continuous display of radio controlled miniature scale ships and boats; everything from the Titanic (fortunately there were no icebergs), through battleships and tugs to high-speed power craft. Perhaps appropriate for a waterway event – and one of my favourites – was a model of Symington’s pioneer 1802 Forth & Clyde Canal steam-powered canal tug Charlotte Dundas, which probably performed more efficiently than the original: Certainly with less

Church Minshull Aqueduct Marina unrivalled locally for the comprehensive boat care service we can offer, bringing our aim to be a onestop-shop for all boat repairs and servicing to fruition.” The popular Bow Thruster Service Centre is also available, through the marina chandlery, where customers can bring their thruster motors and operating equipment for testing and repair. Designs of engine rooms with the correct calculations for propellers and engine size are continuing and include visits to boat builders and moorings. Recently, propulsion with hydraulics has become very popular. The design is important and can include bow thruster, stern thruster, winch and generator. Vetus has a massive range covering everything up to the size of a Dutch barge and all now available at Church Minshull Aqueduct Marina through Cheshire Marine Equipment. This move does not affect Kings Lock Chandlery, which continues to operate on the original site in Middlewich.

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Model of the1802 Forth & Clyde Canal steam-powered canal tug Charlotte Dundas built and controlled by a member of Hinckley & Bosworth Model Boat Club.


wash which was one of its drawbacks. Public boat trips – again run by Ray Bowern and Dusty Miller – were in popular demand but due to boat turning problems took some time, although each party of 10 had their money’s worth. A pity that the basically good central site couldn’t be used as well as previously, especially as the sun shone, and it was one of the first events badged by the British Marina Federation in its 2014 ‘On The Water’ programme.

A WARNING has gone out to potential boat buyers to beware of fake adverts which have appeared recently on sales websites. Paul Lillie of Pilling’s Lock Marina told us: “Many of our own adverts have been copied very recently on websites like ‘FridayAd’, ‘Loot’, ‘Gumtree’ and ‘Preloved’ – there were even some on local Bristol and Huddersfield websites. “It is not the fault of these websites, the sheer scale of advertisers and email only contacts mean that it is almost impossible to stop this kind of activity. But what we can do is publicise the problem and it may deter the criminals involved.” He advises: “If the advert is fraudulent, it seems the boat in question is usually underpriced, for quick sale etc, to encourage potential viewers into sending a holding deposit to hold the vessel before viewing it.” One example is a boat currently advertised on the ‘Loot’ website which was sold from Pilling’s Lock in January 2014 for £14,000 – some £8900 more than the current asking price.

Boat buying tips:

● Always go and see a boat before handing over any money. ● Ask to see documentation – previous bill of sale, CRT licence data/correspondence with owner, BSSC, Mooring bills, boatyard bills… ● Ask owner for photo ID (passport or photo driving licence) and evidence of address details. ● Or buy via an approved Marine Broker/Boatyard/Marina.

The clay plug is removed to open up the entrance to the marina.


New marina takes bookings THE new Bosworth Marina is taking shape alongside the Ashby Canal. A newly constructed towpath is now open and rises up and over the new bridge to give an impressive view of the marina. The clay plug has been removed and the new entrance to the marina is now fully visible. Roads and car parking spaces are being stoned up and services will be dug in shortly. Keller Construction is on schedule with the facilities building and the view across the marina from the first floor balcony is stunning. The cedar cladding for the exterior walls has been ordered and will be added soon. The internal walls for toilets, showers, laundry, Elsan disposal, reception and boaters’ lounge are now up. ● The marina is now taking provisional and firm bookings. Contact Helen Trivett telephone: 07775 688552 or email

More room to moor at the Brayford Pool VISITING boats can now moor in the Brayford Pool, Lincoln, for the first time in many years, writes Les Heath. The Brayford Trust now has eight pontoon visitor moorings which can be booked in advance on 01522 521452. The mooring charges are £10 a day and electricity is available. A free Canal & River Trust visitor mooring near the entrance to the Brayford Pool has room for only two or three narrowboats. Canal trips were again very much in demand by visitors.

RIGHT: Lincoln’s Brayford Pool now has eight pontoon visitor moorings. PHOTO: LES HEATH



Festival goes with a bang for RNLI AUDLEM’S RNLI Festival started with a bang as the Lincoln Cowboy Regulators opened the festival with a wild-west shootout in the cowboy town they recreated in the wildflower meadow at Overwater Marina.

the third Audlem RNLI Festival yet again fulfilled its promise to be even more successful than the previous two years with more than 1500 people taking part to raise £4000 in donations for the RNLI to support its valuable life-saving work.

Having a go on the hula hoop stand. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Marina development to start despite local opposition By Bob Clarke

WORK is about to start on a 199-berth marina on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Swindon, over three years after planning consent was granted. Under the plans, fields off the village’s High Street will be excavated and flooded. In addition to the moorings there will be a 130 space car park, farm shop, tea room and viewing area. the development by local farmers tim and Joanna Munday attracted 300

objections several of which were alarmist – one actually forecast a ‘tsunami’ wave through a caravan site if the marina collapsed. Planning consent was given at the end of 2010. A subsequent application to add another 100 berths was thrown out by the South Staffordshire District Council. Local resident terry Carver who led a five-year campaign against the marina has fired an angry broadside at civic leaders who he claimed had let the village down.

Here for the beer BEER will soon be brewed alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal in Seend close to the Caen Hill Marina where moorers recently enjoyed a beer-tasting evening including a Caen Hill ale. Malcolm Shipp and his team from the vaults pub in Devizes brought along the beers, including Caen Hill Hop, currently brewed by Chaz Hobden of Wessex Brewery in Longbridge Deverill. Many of the beers from the Kennet & Avon Brewery have local canal-associated names including Dundas, Bruce and Bedwyn. there was a full house at the event where there was also a selection of European and American beers to try.

A full house for the beer-tasting evening. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Hosted by Overwater Marina, the weekend charity event had all manner of events, including on the Saturday evening cowboys, Irish dancing, great music, a fantastic BBQ and a really wonderful atmosphere. the sun was out for the main event on Sunday, which was a fun day for all the family, with the return of the now famous ‘around the island’ raft race. Several teams competed including two from Hibberts Solicitors, Cheshire Community Police and Ellis Engineering. Winning first prize was Audlem’s Bridge Inn team and although last to finish, the ‘best dressed raft’ was won by Overwater’s ‘Psycho Shower Babes’. After several sinking moments, Audlem’s Fire Station team finished second to last. Of historic interest were original working narrow boat Saturn and a steam-powered launch. Expert boat handling, hiring and buying advice was supplied by Cheshire Cat Narrowboats, Boat Finder and BCBM Boat Management. the emergency services were well represented by Cheshire Constabulary, Underwater Search & Rescue Police Divers and Cheshire Fire & Rescue.

Taking to the water ready for the ‘around the island’ raft race. PHOTO SUPPLIED Steve Leonard, that vet off the tv and of Leonard Brothers vets, hosted the popular dog show, which had many winners and some fantastic prizes. Other animal antics on the day included pony rides, falconry displays and free coarse fishing classes from Stapeley Anglers. Both children and adults were also encouraged to get fit and have a go on the hula hoop stand. Rodney Cottrell, event organiser, said: “I am absolutely delighted that over the last four years the Audlem Lass Boat Service, with the assistance of Overwater Marina, has raised over £16,000 for the RNLI and we look forward to raising even more at next year’s exciting event.”

Visitor Mark Ray tries out a narrowboat from Cheshire Cat Narrowboats at the third Audlem RNLI Festival at Audlem Marina. PHOTO: JONATHAN WHITE

Daisy’s ducks land marina art prize PRIMARY school pupil Daisy Gilman has beaten all-comers to win the overall prize at Mercia Marina’s annual art competition organised in conjunction with Willington Arts Festival. At just 11 years old, Daisy was the youngest artist to enter this year’s competition, yet she also bagged the most public votes for her pencil drawing of a family of ducks on the water at Mercia Marina, near Willington. People were invited to submit entries in any creative medium for the theme ‘Anything that Floats’. Public votes for category winners were then cast during South Derbyshire’s Willington Arts Festival on May 17-18, where all entries were displayed. Daisy, who attends Heath Fields Primary School, in Hatton, Derbyshire, was crowned overall winner as well as winning the Under16s Drawing category. Her prize is a free trip for up to 12 guests on a canal boat at Mercia Marina plus a meal at the

forthcoming Boardwalk pubrestaurant, which is set to open this autumn. Daisy, who said she had been drawing ever since she could remember, said: “I was speechless. Winning was such a shock and an amazing feeling. I’m so happy to win and really excited about my future.” She said that she could see herself eventually pursuing a career in design or fashion. “My mum’s an artist and a huge inspiration – as is my dad. My older brother works in design, so I guess it runs in the family.” Daisy’s dad, David Gilman, is a moorer at Mercia Marina, while her mum, Deborah Gilman, lives in nearby Bretby. the art competition falls in a very busy year for Mercia Marina, with the planned opening of a new £1.7 million development in the autumn. the Boardwalk development will consist of boutique waterfront shops, a high quality pub-restaurant and some small office suites.

Daisy Gilman with her winning artwork.


● For further information contact Josh Fitzsimons on 01283 703332.

Historic dry dock now offers latest treatments

The locally brewed Caen Hill Hop.

A close-up view of the bits normally below the water line in Norbury’s dry dock, created from an old lock chamber. PHOTO SUPPLIED

tHE dry dock at Norbury Junction was originally the first of 17 locks that led down into Newport and beyond to Shrewsbury – but these days it leads to a better-maintained boat for almost 100 boats a year. today the dry dock is considerably wider than the original lock and is completely enclosed with large windows letting plenty of natural light into the building. Now the dry dock offers shot blasting of boat hulls and epoxy anti-fouling paint its services are even more in demand. Owinf to the depth of the former lock, the bostocks (that’s the blocks that the boat sits down on to when the water is removed) are about three feet high which allows for easy inspection of the base plate and sit the boat at an ideal level for work. Norbury Wharf Ltd operates the dry dock and MD, Simon Jenkins, says: “It has always been a popular dock as it operates throughout the year but the introduction of shot-blasting and epoxy paint as an option for boat hulls has meant we are taking plenty of bookings.” there are a few gaps on the dock which changes occupants on both Wednesdays and Sundays. the dock still offers hull blacking with bitumen, International Intertuf 16 or Comastic as well as the new sand blasting and twopack epoxy paint treatment. While a boat is high and dry Norbury can also repaint counter bands as well as gunwhale tops and sides and front return plates.



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

Ten top tips for your boating holiday

Whether it’s your first trip or not, these tips from Elizabeth Abbott can help you get the most from your waterway travel. Miles don’t matter

It can be tempting to plot your whole week’s trip out in advance, giving yourselves a certain daily distance you ‘have to’ cover, or a mooring spot you must reach. But that’s missing the point – to use a cliche, what matters is the journey, not the destination. The more gently you travel, the more detail you will enjoy, and when the unexpected occurs (a favourite toy dropped in the canal... the windlass left behind at the previous lock... a sheep needing rescue...) it will not be a hassle that is putting you behind schedule, but an enjoyable challenge for your crew to solve as a team, without any pressure.

Plan ahead

Working the locks can be an enjoyable mission – whatever the weather. PHOTOS: JESSICA WARREN

What matters is the journey – not the destination.

Even if you think your planned stops will put you near the shops each night, take groceries for a few meals. You can never be sure that you won’t need to moor up in the middle of nowhere. In fact, once you’ve discovered the peace and quiet the middle of nowhere offers, you might wish to quit mooring anywhere else.

enough to make waves, you are also eroding the bank that is home to many little creatures. Teaming up with other boats to go through locks should be a given, even if you have to wait a little for someone further behind you (see ‘miles don’t matter’)

Go eco

Although in fact everything that goes down the drain at home becomes part of our environment too, it is easier to realise when you can actually see your waste water splashing from the side of the boat. Anything containing parabens (as many toiletries do) should be avoided as they clog fish gills, and incidentally charity Breast Cancer UK warns us off parabens for our own good. As for shower gel, it’s predicted it takes 800 years to degrade (break down) after we wash it off, and spends that whole intervening time polluting the planet – plain traditional soap made out of olive oil or similarly basic ingredients causes far less trouble.

Bump don’t crash!

Leave all the gadgets at home that you possibly can; your boat trip is time for a ‘blissful disengagement from news’ as journalist Henry Porter phrases it. The more simply we live, the better off we, our fellow creatures, and the planet are, and that’s good news enough to be going on with. Take books, cards, and board games instead. Your boat batteries will charge as you travel, and that should be plenty of power for all your basic needs. As a rule of thumb, if you need to run the engine while stopped, to provide extra power for something, it probably isn’t worth it.

As you’re getting the hang of steering, it can be tempting to ramp up the power to try and steer quickly away from an imminent collision, such as between your boat and the side of the canal, or another boat. However, boat response time is much slower than you think, and this will often just make the crash worse. A better trick is simply to put your boat into reverse – not in order to steer, but simply to take lots of the power out of the crash, ideally turning it into a bump. In fact, as a novice boater, you will find everything much easier to do if you slow down – you can switch into neutral long before you enter an open lock, or attempt to stop for mooring, eventually learning to coast to near stopping without the need for reversing.


Stop and explore

Power down

On my very first boating trip, I was introduced to garlic mustard, otherwise known as jack-by-thehedge, plucked while waiting for a lock to fill and sandwiched with olives and cheese in – well, a sandwich. Its white and yellow flowers and green leaves both have their own tang. It often grows in a tall towpath tangle with nettles and cleavers (aka goosegrass or ‘sticky willy’) both of which can be whizzed into soup. Richard Mabey’s classic Food for Free can guide holiday boaters to the edible world around them, providing handy knowledge for future camping or countryside strolls too.

Learn a little

The story of the UK’s waterways are fascinating, and if you plan a trip to the library in advance of your holiday, you’ll have some books on hand ready to answer questions as they arise – who dug the canals? Who invented locks? What does ‘legging it’ mean? If your crew could be persuaded to enjoy some reading aloud, then take along a copy of Sheila Stewart’s delightful Ramlin Rose for stories of an olden day boating family.

All sorts of interesting things are a walk from the towpath – from mysterious woods to small obscure museums to local farmers selling free-range duck eggs that can be tomorrow’s breakfast. Any sign mentioning ice-cream and involving an arrow definitely requires a stop, whether you have kids on board or not. But it’s not just the countryside that’s worth a halt. In their book Edgelands: Journey into England’s True Wilderness, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts dedicate a chapter to canals, writing: “to get a glimpse of the past in England’s edgelands, a canal boat may be your best bet... the canals are uniquely able to offer a portrait of the decline in manufacturing and the shift of power from water and rail to road.” Your boat will bring you past town’s back doors; where history can be read with a wander.

Enjoy the weather – whatever it is

Although you’ll be hopefully packing sunscreen and hats, don’t forget your waterproofs and wellies. It might seem like a downpour requires you to moor up and wait till it’s over, but in fact deciding to work the locks right through a storm can be an enjoyable mission, especially if someone inside is brewing up cuppa soup and lighting the burner to help dry you off when you’re done.

Be courteous

It should be obvious, but consider all the other waterway users. Moored boats can do without you speeding past them, and in fact if you are going fast

Consider all the other waterway users – moored boats can do without you speeding past them.


Five star award for hotel boat HOTEL Boat Kailani has been awarded the top rating of five stars by Visit England (previously the English Tourist Board) following an assessment by Quality In Tourism. The boat was launched in May 2013 and carried its first guests last summer. Owners Gordon Horry and Dorenda Wrigley said: “We are delighted that QIT have made this award at our first attempt. It is a great feeling to know that your hard work has paid off. “Kailani is now just one-year-old, so this year is our first full season. We offer three to six-night full board breaks cruising the canals and rivers of Southern England, so the award makes us the first five-star hotel boat doing this.” The award is not the first to be achieved by Gordon and Dorenda. In July 2013 they attended the Inland Waterways Association Festival at Cassiobury Park, Watford, where the boat achieved the ‘Best Commercially Built Boat’ award.

Constructed and fitted out by boat builders Aqualine Marine Ltd, this also acknowledges their superior craftsmanship and hard work. Kailani is a wide-beam boat, measuring 20x3.8m, or 65x12ft. “This gives us the ability to set out the ensuite bedrooms in a luxurious fashion. A maximum of four guests also have the benefit of their own saloon and dining area,” they explained. “The crew have their own separate accommodation. There is also an open bow deck with seating, where guests enjoy the peace and tranquillity while cruising.” On-board catering is prepared by Dorenda, while Gordon is generally at the helm or washing up! “We serve a wake-up cup of tea, full breakfast, morning coffee with cake, lunch, afternoon tea with biscuits, then the four-course evening meal with wine,” said Dorenda. “Everything about Kailani says ‘quality’, whether we are talking about the china dinner service, the boat’s

Kailani won the award for the best commercial boat at the 2013 IWA Festival.


fittings, the bedding and textiles or the locally bought produce.” Gordon and Dorenda’s attention to detail with the boat and their service are exemplary. Testimonials from guests bear witness to this. Bookings for 2014 are buoyant, but as a new business, there is availability.

● You can see Kailani at Contact can also be made by calling 07447 051558 or by email to

Boating holiday across the Scottish Lowlands SPECIALIST boating agency Waterways Holidays is highlighting a unique canal journey between the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh along the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, with discounts on selected canal boats for family holidays in July. “The Forth and Clyde is wider than most English canals and the Union Canal is lock free,” said managing director Nigel Richards. “In a week-long holiday it is perfectly possible to visit both Edinburgh and Glasgow from Falkirk allowing six hours cruising each day.” A week’s hire of Black Grouse or her sister boat Willow Grouse is discounted by 10%, which means a six or seven-night self-drive cruise is now reduced to £1305 for holidays starting July 5, 9 or 12. Each 57ft long narrowboat has a well-equipped galley kitchen, main bathroom with shower and a second wc, and three separate sleeping areas (including the saloon) with flexible berths for six people. The hire fee includes bed linen, initial tuition and car parking during the holiday. Pay for diesel as used and £50 damage waiver. Black Grouse and Willow Grouse are both based

at Falkirk, where the extraordinary Falkirk Wheel is sited. This feat of modern engineering – and a tourist attraction in its own right – compensates for the differing heights of the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals and raises and lowers boats between the two. Apart from the unique experience of the Falkirk Wheel and the cultural highlights of Glasgow and Edinburgh, this week-long holiday also takes in the majestic Campsie Fells and the stalactites of the 696 yard long Falkirk Tunnel. Short breaks of three or four nights are also available to take in either the sights of either Edinburgh or Glasgow. The few locks and bridges along the route are manned by Scottish Canals staff, which means there is little physical effort needed to explore the Scottish Lowlands.

The Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk.



Carrying on the K N I R D & cheese boat tradition FOOD

To advertise call Jason on 01507 529581

Canalside pubs & restaurants to satisfy all tastes...


The electric motor which is powered by a bank of batteries. PHOTO: NIKITA LEAK

By Janet Richardson

WHEN Sue Cameron and Adrian Pye first started trading as the Borders Cheese Carrying Company, they didn’t realise they were following in one of their ancestor’s footsteps. Family research has since revealed that Ade’s greatgrandfather Richard Jones also carried cheese under white cloths – to keep the sun out – on a horse-drawn boat between Nantwich and Manchester for many years. He had left home in Llanymynech in 1895 at the age of 12 and later married Elsie Roberts, a sister of Jack Roberts who skippered Saturn which was also a cheese boat in the day. Richard, who lived at Barbridge on the junction of the Middlewich Branch and the Shropshire Union Canal, lived to be 104 and attributed his long life to chocolate crumb and Guinness which he had also carried as well as anything he could catch along the way. Some of his history is told in The Shroppie book by Thomas Pellow and Paul Bowen and also at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port. Ade remembers his greatgrandfather continuing to skipper a trip boat at Barbridge in around 1970 when he was well into his 90s. He was also known as The Preacherman after his father who was a Methodist preacher.

Cheese and chutney

I met Sue and Ade at the Middlewich FAB Festival where they were part of the floating market selling their range of

Ade Pye and Sue Cameron on board the Cheese Boat at the Middlewich FAB Festival. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON Welsh cheeses – 15 different flavours in 200g truckles – and English chutneys. The Snowdonia cheeses come in an assortment of flavours of which Little Black Bomber – smooth and creamy extra mature cheddar – is one of the favourites. Others include Bouncing Berry – with cranberries, Amber Mist laced with whisky and Red Devil – Red Leicester with chillies and crushed peppercorns. Caws Cenarth cheeses come from an organic dairy farm in West Wales and range from Caws Cryf – a strong mature variety – to the soft-textured Cennin Cenarth with leeks and white wine and Perl Wen, a creamy soft brie-style cheese. Home-made near Norbury in Shropshire, Mike’s Chutneys also come in a range of flavours – an ideal complement to the cheeses – including the Shropshire and Staffordshire Pickles, spiced balsamic and red onion, hot chilli jam, the GreatTaste gold award-winning carrot & cumin and mango chutneys as well as pickled shallots.

All electric

Ade and Sue, as Audlem Boat Company, fitted out their Tyler Wilson hull and customised it to be a cheese boat, which carries the top food hygiene rating. It is electrically powered – its 20kw 3phase AC motor is driven by a

The washroom with its composting toilet. PHOTO: NIKITA LEAK

bank of 24 2v cells charged by a Beta genset. Sue told me they would like to look at converting to a hydrogen fuel cell but are waiting for them to become more affordable as the infrastructure develops – currently a trip boat in Bristol is hydrogen-powered. “We don’t have a stove or gas and don’t need roof vents,” she explained. An induction hob is used for cooking and the warmth from under-floor heating is maintained with the help of double glazing. The eco-friendly narrowboat also has a composting toilet which avoids the need for constant pump-outs – it is odour-free and only needs emptying every two to three months. This is Sue and Ade’s third year on the Cheese Boat and they are looking at extending their season to include Christmas fairs, stoppages permitting. Their next port of call is the Birmingham Summer Floating Market held by the Roving Canal Traders Association (RCTA) from June 27-29 and they will be heading for the AWCC anniversary rally from July 11-13 at the Black Buoy Cruising Club, Knowle before heading back to the Middlewich Branch for the Aqueduct Marina Family Fun Day on July 20 and the Shroppie for the Audlem Transport Festival from July 26-27.

● The Cheese Boat’s travels take it along the Shropshire Union, Llangollen, Trent & Mersey, Staffordshire & Worcestershire, Bridgewater and Macclesfield Canals. Contact 07835 584867, email

Ade’s great-grandfather Richard Jones with two young crewmen at Barbridge. PHOTO SUPPLIED


Albion’s mast with the Jenny Morgan wind vane.

Albion on Malthouse Broad.

New beer, old boat

Clive Tully reports on the launch of Jenny Morgan bitter

MOST pubs have their beer delivered by lorry or van, but for the Maltsters pub in Ranworth, May 1 saw the delivery of a special firkin of Jenny Morgan bitter. It arrived on board the historic Norfolk trading wherry Albion, with VIP guest Tim Dunford, boss of the UK’s most easterly brewery – Green Jack Brewery in Lowestoft. Greeted on the quayside at Malthouse Broad by

A crewman plays the accordion on board Albion.

the Golden Star Morris dancers from Norwich, the firkin was ceremonially danced to the pub. It was about this point that I was told the beer would take a couple of days to settle down before it could be served. As mild panic set in, I was reassured to hear that the pub had, in best Blue Peter tradition, one that was prepared earlier. So not only did I get to sample a couple of pints, it was even used to make the batter for the fish and chips served for lunch. Tim Dunford’s affection for the Albion goes back to his childhood, when he used to fish from her deck while she was in Lake Lothing for winter maintenance. Now a successful brewer, he’s created a beer which will help raise funds for the 116-year-old wherry. Named after the folk character on the wind vane which adorns Albion’s mast, Jenny Morgan is a 3.5% Abv traditional bitter with a fruity hop taste. “Quaffable” it says on Green Jack’s website. I wouldn’t argue with that! ● For further information: Green Jack Brewery: Albion:

The Golden Star Morris dancers with Albion skipper Henry Gowman and the firkin of Jenny Morgan bitter outside The Maltsters pub. PHOTOS: CLIVE TULLY




Phoenix Lady in a lock with the wheelhouse in the down position. PHOTO: LEE PRESCOTT

The front and back of the wheelhouse fold down to allow navigation under low bridges such as the entrance to the marina.


Boat owner Mick Cheshire was so attracted by the Dutch barge style, he had one built. Janet Richardson finds out more. VALENTINE’S Day 2014 was particularly memorable for Nottinghamshire boater Mick Cheshire. Having fallen in love with the Dutch Barge style of narrowboat, he had one built and this was the day of its launch. However, the story starts more than a year ago when Mick went to see Aintree Boats at the Crick

Boat Show, having seen one of its adverts. And he liked what he saw. So when he got a buyer for his house, which was on the market, he visited the Liverpool boat builders and gave them a list of what he wanted in his new boat. They put the base plate down during the first week of October.

The dinette converts into a double bed. Two forms of heating – the multi-fuel stove and, below, concealed radiator. The top cupboard helps to separate the galley from the living area.


Owner Mick Cheshire chose the name Phoenix Lady before the boat was even built. PHOTOS:


“This was the first one they had built with a wheelhouse on the back and this style of bow so it took a bit longer than usual,” Mick explained. He had already chosen a name – Phoenix Lady – to replace his previous boat Phoenix, which was fitted out by two firemen. “I thought why change things; it is coming out of steel – out of the fire sort of thing – although Jamie at Aintree called her Lady Phoenix!” Despite taking liberties with the name of his new pride and joy, the boat builders come in for high praise from Mick. “They are very obliging and encourage you to go any time and see it in build,” he told me. “They really explain things for you and are absolutely brilliant.” Once completed, it was decided to transport the new boat by road from Liverpool to Mick’s mooring at Shireoaks Marina on the Chesterfield Canal. “I would have sailed it round, but not at that time of the year with the stoppages and danger of being iced in,” he explained. No stranger to boating, he started by hiring boats on the Norfolk Broads, then sailed dinghies when the children were small. “I stopped for a while and then decided to buy a canal boat… it gets in your blood.” Now retired from his job in the haulage industry, Mick had owned his previous Phoenix for nine years. A member of the Chesterfield Canal Trust, he often used it to shadow the historic working boat Python, which he helped to restore.

Noticeable difference

The galley.

The roomy shower cubicle.

The double bed in the forward cabin.

The microwave and built-in Thetford oven.

Approaching Phoenix Lady from the stern, the first noticeable difference is its wooden wheelhouse, as opposed to the pram canopy fitted to some narrowboats. “I fell in love with this style, you don’t see many of them,” Mick told me. Constructed from sapele, the wheelhouse is built for all weathers, and its front and back fold down for going under low bridges such as the marina entrance. And there’s no tiller – this boat has a wheel. “It is a different way of steering, but I used to have a wheeled cruiser before.” He also has the services of a bowthruster. The other feature which makes this boat stand out from the crowd is its Dutch-style bow bearing the name Phoenix Lady on each side. Not just a narrowboat, it is Mick’s home and the interior has been fitted out to his requirements. Although they make it a steeper descent, he asked for 11in steps into the galley in order to

Length: 60ft Berths: 4 (2x2) Hull: Steel Style: Narrowboat Dutch Barge Engine: Beta 43 rated at 43hp Gearbox: Prm 150 hydraulic Power: Victron combi inverter Batteries: 4 + 135 leisure, 110a engine and bowthruster Heating: Multi-fuel stove + Eberspacher for background heating Fuel tank: 200lts Waste tank: 210lts Fresh water tank: 750lts Insulation: Spray foam Lining material: Oak Flooring: Oak Toilet: Vetus pump-out reduce the room they take up as well as providing storage space. Appliances, including a separate fridge and freezer and also a washing machine, are concealed within the kitchen cupboards with selfclosing doors. Mick also asked for an additional high-level cupboard, which acts as a room divider between the galley and the living area. A dinette converts into a double bed and there are two freestanding leather swivel armchairs in the saloon. The windows are double glazed and the side hatch has double doors so the inner pair can be opened to let in the light without the weather. Low-level concealed radiators provide background heat from the Eberspacher system to complement the multi-fuel stove. A cream-painted ceiling and the light oak panelling all help to make the interior feel bright and spacious and LED lights help to reduce power consumption. The washroom includes a roomy shower cubicle and the master cabin has a king-size bed and a double wardrobe, which provides plenty of clothes storage for a liveaboard boater. When I visited Mick he was still planning his first cruise onto the network. “I used to do it in two days from here to West Stockwith – where the Chesterfield Canal joins the River Trent – but I have slowed down a bit now and it takes about three days.” One thing’s for certain, Phoenix Lady won’t be hard to spot wherever she goes. ●


The Aintree Boat Company Ltd, Units 14-16 Brookfield Tradecentre, Brookfield Drive, Aintree, Liverpool L9 7AS. Telephone: 0151 523 9000, fax 0151 523 3000, website:


Robin Wagg, Real Signwriting, 13 Curland Place, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 5JL Telephone: 01782 325863, website:


New marine finance option could spread the cost of emergency repairs RIVER Canal Rescue and its Canal Contracting department have entered into an agreement with finance provider, Hitachi, giving boaters access to quick and easy finance options. The new facility will enable people to undertake boat improvements and engine replacement or emergency repairs when needed. The borrowing limit is £25,000 which can be repaid over an agreed time of up to 12 years and includes a number of options, such as ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ and ‘Interest Free’ periods. RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “If something goes wrong it’s not always easy to immediately get hold of the cash you need to put things right, particularly

as very few loan providers lend money for boat maintenance owing to the amount involved being too low. “Within two weeks of making this finance option available, five people successfully applied, allowing them to spread their costs and ease the financial pressure.” She concludes: “Loan quotes can be provided within minutes and applications emailed to users to complete online with an immediate response. If you don’t have email or internet access, then paper applications can be provided too.” ● To find out more or get a quote, call the canal contracting team on 01785 785685.

Hybrid Marine expands its system options HYBRIDS are now established as a viable option for newbuild craft. Well established in this market, Hybrid Marine has been supplying power and propulsion systems to inland craft for six years with installations in more than 25 narrow beams and seven broad beams. Most of these systems have been fitted to new builds with the enhanced configuration that allows electric cooking. Apart from the advantages of eliminating gas on board, these systems provide prolonged periods of whisper-quiet electric drive and can save a considerable amount of fuel. Unveiled at Crick this year were a number of new system options including the new Power Station, as reported on P71 of our June edition.

The Power Station combines a conventional Beta Marine engine with a powerful brushless generator.


Complete hybrids and Power Stations can now be supplied fitted to the Shire range.

Hybrid Marine is also expanding its range of engine offerings. Complete hybrids and Power Stations can now be supplied fitted to the Shire range. With full system offerings over the range of Beta Marine and Barrus engines there is sure to be an option that fits your needs.

● Contact Hybrid Marine Ltd on 01983 403236;

Kent company appointed UK authorised dealer for Technicold

ENERGY Solutions has been appointed as authorised dealer serving the UK for Technicold by Northern Lights, a leading manufacturer of marine heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Technicold products include chilled water and direct expansion air conditioning, complete refrigeration packages, heating options and accessories. Ideally suited for the pleasure craft market, systems are custom-designed to ensure the ideal fit in applications as diverse as super yachts, fishing boats, tug and barges. Based in Kent, Energy Solutions will represent state-ofthe-art climate control systems in the UK. Already the sole UK distributor for Northern Lights, the company has a large marine customer base. “Energy Solutions’ capabilities are well known in the UK,” says Technicold sales manager Chip Van Gunten. “Technicold is very pleased to have Energy Solutions on board as part of our global sales and service network.”


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

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

The liveaboard lifestyle with Marie Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

FOR those who have already enjoyed Marie Browne’s first two books, Narrow Escape is another delightful read. Marie has already taken her readers afloat with her in Narrow Margins and back on dry land in Narrow Minds. Now, with her family, she returns to her beloved watery lifestyle on board narrowboat Minerva. There follows a month-by-month account of the family’s liveaboard year, tongue in cheek, funny and very realistic, dispelling some of the myths about this ‘idyllic’ lifestyle. Marie shares with her readers what it’s really like to live on a narrowboat coping with all the usual ups and downs of family life in a restricted space and on a restricted budget. As she says in her introduction: “I hope you enjoy spending a year with our family, friends and all the other elements that make up this odd life of ours.” Narrow Escape by Marie Browne is published by Accent Press in softback priced £12.99. ISBN: 978-1-78375-543-1

Trusted canal companion Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

THE excellent Pearson’s Canal Companion series of handbooks needs no introduction for many waterways users. They have been informing and entertaining readers for decades, never far out of reach for seasoned boaters and an exciting insight into a new world for beginners. The latest book by Michael Pearson covers the East Midlands, exploring the Leicester Section of the Grand Union, the non-tidal Trent and the diverse Erewash, Grantham and Chesterfield canals. This book, in the time-honoured fashion of Canal Companions, has a wealth of interesting facts and figures and fascinating reading interspersed with maps, diagrams and stunning photographs as well as montages of the canals. Whether exploring the waterways afloat, on foot or by bicycle, the Canal Companion is easy to carry, a pleasure to read and will inspire readers to fully enjoy their experiences on the canals. It’s amazing what is packed into this little book,

which is available from hire bases, boatyards, canal shops, good bookshops, Amazon and other internet outlets as well as the Inland Waterways Association. Canal Companion East Midlands from J M Pearson & Son Ltd is published in softback by Wayzgoose priced £9.95. ISBN: 978-0-9928492-0-7


BOOKS,DVDSAND DOWNLOADS The book that started it all Reviewer: Harry Arnold

IN A year of anniversaries one of the most significant is that of what many of us consider to be ‘the book that started it all’; ‘it’ being the founding of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and the revival of the fortunes of Britain’s canals and rivers. It is 70 years since the first 1944 publication of Narrow Boat by L.T.C. Rolt, which chronicles a voyage that Tom and his then wife Angela made aboard the converted exShropshire Union boat Cressy in 1939; a year in which a World War began, bringing huge changes to the British way of life. Perhaps the yearning for a prewar way of life was – and remains – one of the reasons for the book’s popularity? As a reviewer I have to first admit to being a ‘Rolt groupie’. I was first grabbed by his writing in his second book Railway Adventure which chronicles the time when he left the canals and Cressy, somewhat disillusioned, to revive the Talyllyn Railway. Another book that helped to inspire a whole revival movement. I was a schoolboy volunteer on the Talyllyn and although at least once in the same room as him was too timid to speak, to me, the great man. Later, involved in IWA, I was lucky enough to be a guest at the private dinner when the Rolts and the Hadfields were reconciled. Rolt was essentially an engineer and an enthusiast for this and all things transport. He even wrote a privately commissioned book on the building of the M1 motorway, extremely rare but I have a copy among my collection of virtually all his works; including the nine copies of Narrow Boat

that I have picked up at various times (who’s obsessive then?). So I am obviously going to recommend this book to you. If you haven’t read it in a previous edition I urge you to do so and appreciate why it led so many to get out on to the waterways. The Canal & River Trust (CRT) is to be congratulated in marking this 70th anniversary by working with Tom’s widow Sonia and his sons to produce this special edition which is a facsimile of an original with significant additions. Having lived with the previous versions for so long however may I be allowed some comments? As skilled at wood cuts as Eric Gaskell is, those on the new cover and in an inside section clash awfully in style with the originals of countryside artist Denys Watkins-Pitchford. Why wasn’t the superb and now historic swag of Tooley’s roses retained for the cover? The whole section of photographs – mainly those of Angela Rolt – is an excellent addition; but perhaps the inclusion of two recently discovered images showing the birth of the conversion as Cressy came off Frankton Dock and its melancholy end at Stone would have been of great significance to top and tail Rolt’s involvement with the boat. Prefaces and forewords should add to a book and fortunately those by Rolt himself and his famous contemporary author Charles Hadfield are retained. I am not convinced that the latest one by Canal Laureate Jo Bell contributes anything and, referring to pubs being ‘unchanged’, where is this ‘White’ Swan at Fradley? And it is ‘Sutton’s’, not Sutton Stop. But Rolt himself got it wrong. One which used to infuriate a late and much missed neighbour

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Memories of a Wartime Canal Boatwoman Reviewer: Harry Arnold

was that in passing through Alrewas he describes it as having a ‘fringe of alien council houses’. There were no council houses in our village in 1939. And because of Rolt’s obsession with obtaining a can from the shop at Buckby Locks – just one of a number of painted ware outlets – we are stuck with this awful habit of calling all traditional water cans Buckby Cans, now even reduced to ‘Buckbys’. End of nit-picking: Once again, congratulations to the Rolt family, CRT, and The History Press in producing this new and vibrant edition and in obtaining new publicity for it, such as at the recent Hay Festival. If you haven’t already been captured by the charm of Narrow Boat read it now and be drawn into the atmosphere of 1930s canal which it evokes. As a final footnote, one might ask where was the IWA in celebrating this most significant anniversary in its history? Narrow Boat by L.T.C. Rolt is published by The History Press in softback, priced £14.99. (ISBN: 978 0 7509 6061 8) It is available to buy exclusively for an initial period from the CRT website shop – with a post and packing charge.

To be in with a chance of winning one of 5 copies of “Narrow Boat” simply fill in your details below and return it to: Towpath Talk July 2014 “Narrow Boat” Book competition, Mortons Media Group Ltd, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ Name............................................................................................................................................... Address .......................................................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................................... Email ............................................................................................................................................... Phone.............................................................................................................................................. Closing date August 4, 2014 Terms and conditions apply. For full terms and conditions, please see There are no cash alternatives available. The winners will be the first 5 names drawn at random. Alternatively, you can enter online at ❏ Only tick this box if you do not wish to receive information from Mortons Media Group regarding or relating to current offers of products or services (including discounted subscription offers) via email/post/phone. ❏ On occasion Mortons Media Group Ltd may permit third parties, that we deem to be reputable, to contact you by email/post/phone/fax regarding information relating to current offers of products or services which we believe may be of interest to our readers. If you wish to receive such offers please tick this box.

The first of a new series for ‘water babies’

MANY canal carrying enthusiasts will be more than familiar with the activities of the ‘Idle Women’ – the Second World War trainee volunteer boatwomen – whose activities, mainly centred around the Grand Union Canal network, have been immortalised in books such as Idle Women and Maiden’s Trip. But few will know much, if anything, about a parallel scheme which ran on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal; starting quite late in the war following a government recruitment in the spring of 1944. By April 1945 eight women had completed training and another four taken on. So the total number was quite small. It seems that just two of these women stayed for any length of time – Margaret Thomas who worked as mate with Nancy Ridgeway. It is to Nancy that we are indebted for the fact that she kept some sort of diary and then, with the assistance of friends, added further recollections that became this fascinating book. Some of the detail of the trials and tribulations of working wide boats back and two across the Pennines and into Liverpool in wartime conditions are quite eye-opening to say the least; particularly often in the face of the non co-operation of some of the existing male crews. The book also brings to light considerable further day-to-day knowledge of boating and operational matters on the Leeds & Liverpool during this period and in general. Along with this however I particularly liked Nancy’s accounts of ordinary life in late wartime northern England, which stirred up some childhood memories. Running through it all is Nancy’s indomitable determination to succeed, to become skilled at boating and to master the canal and beat the weather – and the men – at their own game. Nancy Ridgeway didn’t live to see her book launched at Easter at The National Waterways Museum; she died suddenly at the age of 92 on December 29, 2013. When I saw her picture and that she came from Northwich I realised that I had met and spoken to her at an Anderton Lift campaign rally among quite a few boating families – mainly from the old north-west fleet – who supported us at those events. I thought she was talking about working on narrowboats: I should listen more carefully. Adding to the book’s excellent production is the editing and selection of images by L&L experts Mike Clarke and Timothy Peters. Worth every penny – and more – of the very modest cover price. Memories of a Wartime Canal Boatwoman by Nancy Ridgway is published by The National Waterways Museum in softback, priced £4.99. Contact the NWM, Tel: 01513 555017

An ‘idle’ woman’s autobiography Reviewer: Tim Coghlan

THE plaque to the Idle Women – volunteer boatwomen in the Second World War – which was unveiled at Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum in 2008 by one of now few survivors, Sonia Rolt – carried the line: “Their work not only contributed to the war effort but gave us a lasting insight into canal life.” With the boatmen an isolated and illiterate community, no one had previously written with firsthand experience of canal carrying. But in the immediate postwar years, four of them did, including Emma Smith, whose novel Maiden’s Trip, based on her experiences, and published in 1948 when she was only 25, made national fame. Sixty five years on at the age of 90, Emma Smith astonishingly wrote an autobiography of her early life from 1923 until her marriage in 1951, As Green As Grass. There are 302 pages of it, mostly written from memory, including the 37 pages devoted to her two years of canal-carrying, when she did not keep a diary. While the rest is for the general reader, it is these canal-carrying pages that are of specific interest to the canal enthusiast.

Importantly there are detailed accounts of the various girls who came and went – their names recorded in full, unlike other works where only first names are given. Also included is the length of time they survived, and frank descriptions of their abilities or otherwise – in all an astonishing feat of memory. In the case of the widowed wife of a distinguished naval officer, Rita Curry, Emma describes acidly how she arrived at Bulls Bridge accompanied by a ‘dapper elderly gentleman’ – who transpired to be the Duke of Grafton, whom Rita Curry briefly went on to marry. The Duke carried aboard her suitcase which also transpired to contain a bottle of vodka and another of pink gin. Also coming with her was her ailing spaniel Hector, which Emma thought was ‘a horrid dog.’ Emma recalls that Rita Curry only survived the one trip before calling it a day at Nash’s Paper Mill, where she got the mill manager’s office to call her a taxi. The lady then managed to wangle herself a job at War Ministry of Transport as head of the Women’s Scheme, recruiting ‘young ladies (debutantes, no less)’ whom Emma regarded as ‘unsuitable’ for the ‘dirty dedicated hard-work’ of canal

Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

LAUNCHED at the Crick Boat Show, a new adventure series for children aged 2-6, Nina the Narrowboat, is full of characters from the canals and the riverbanks. Nina’s adventures include important lessons about making friends, working as a team, the countryside, animals and nature, being safe and helping others along the way. Christine Stone, a new children’s author, has teamed up with illustrator Ally Smith to produce this little book for read-aloud story time for pre-schoolers and beginner readers. It is based on a family boat which the family took four years to restore before moving it from Bristol to Yeading where their son lived aboard Nina as his London base until his marriage. Said Christine: “We had a lovely time and a scary time! “My husband and I stayed on board many times and our son often took her out for trips with friends.” The boat was sold last year: “But for now she lives on as our Nina the Narrowboat,” added Christine. Book Two should be out in a couple of months and Book Three in time for Christmas. Available in kindle format via Amazon: serial number B00IQYZAC0

A group of 10 Idle Women – volunteer boatwomen in a publicity photograph at Bulls Bridge, West London in April 1944. Emma Smith is second right. Sonia Rolt is far left. PHOTO:WATERWAYS TRUST

The 25-year-old barefooted Emma Smith is caught on camera by the famous French photographer Robert Doisneau, typing her second novel The Far Cry on the banks of the Seine in the summer of 1948. carrying. As Emma then had to train them, and see her efforts wasted as they quickly came and went, it persuaded her to leave the canals in February, 1945. One of those successfully interviewed by Rita Curry, was Sonia Rolt – then Sonia South. She recalled the demonstrative Rita Curry showing her the poor state of her broken finger nails as indicative of the hard work that Sonia would have to endure, and was she up to it? Emma Smith has remained interested in canals. In 2000 she attended the first Crick Boat Show arriving with a small group of surviving Idle Women on one of the boats they had all worked. She joined that Stoke Bruerne plaque unveiling in 2008. More recently she appeared on the BBC One Show with another small surviving group of Idle Women, travelling the canal at Stoke Bruerne on the surviving Grand Union Canal Carrying Co. Ltd, prewar narrow boat Sculptor. As Green As Grass by Emma Smith is published by Bloomsbury, 307 pages, priced £16.99. ISBN 978-1-4088-3561-6



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

Compiled by Janet Richardson

Anniversary celebrations at the Parkhead Canal Festival By Steve Bingham

EVERY two years two canal societies come together to organise a special event, having had several monthly meetings during the year. Dudley Canal Trust and the Worcester, Birmingham & Droitwich Canal Society are pushing on well with this year’s Parkhead Canal Festival, which will be happening over the weekend of September 27-28. It will also coincide with Dudley Canal Trust’s 50th anniversary (1964 to 2014), which is being celebrated in the form of a new book, due to be released in time for the festival, where it will be on sale, along with a new-release DVD, showing what the trust has achieved over the last 50 years, and commemorative mugs. The whole event is free to the public, who can browse around the 100-plus boats with the option to take a boat trip into the famous 222-year-old Dudley Tunnel. DCT will also have its 79-year-old boat Sagitta open for visitors to walk around inside and look at the many ‘before and after’ photos of the trust’s achievements in restoring Dudley Tunnel and the Limestone Mines, plus Parkhead Locks.

Tour de France

BOATERS are being invited to cruise into Huddersfield and beat the jams for the Tour de France event, writes Geoff Wood. The Huddersfield Canal Society is organising a boat rally on Sunday, July 7 just a stone’s throw from the premier cycling event. Marketing officer Claire Bebbington said: “This is a chance to get close to the action and near to the town centre, just a short stroll from the Chapel Hill Tour de France route.” Book a space by phoning 01457 871800 or email

Creepy tales THEATRE group Don’t Go Into the

Cellar will bring its show, Morbid Curiosities, to the Dudley Canal caverns on Saturday, July 19, writes Bob Clarke. This re-telling of creepy ghost and horror tales of Victorian and Edwardian authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson promises an unforgettable night of spinetingling drama. Tickets are on sale from Dudley Canal Trust Trips, contact 01215 576265.

Country show

The scene at the 2012 Parkhead Canal Festival. PHOTOS: MARTIN ATTEWELL Also on display will be the trust’s historic tug Bittell, which will be celebrating its 80th birthday, along with sister ship Pacific. These two very special tugs were built side by side 80 years ago at Yarwood & Sons of Northwich. They worked together at Stewart & Lloyds in Halesowen until 1958 when they were both sold to British Waterways. They both went their separate ways, and have passed through many hands until a few years ago when they managed to reunite after many years apart. A special cake will be baked for the occasion.

Anniversary ale

More than 100 boats are expected to attend the event.

Bookings for narrowboats and historic working boats are looking good, vintage vehicles are starting to book and trade stands are coming in as well. There will also be some steam traction and vintage stationary engines. A fairground organ will entertain during the day, plus a brass band that will be playing around the real ale tent during Saturday afternoon. During the day, boat horse Carolyn will be doing a boat pull up and down Parkhead Locks to demonstrate ‘how

Comments about the show from satisfied audiences include: “I’ve heard lots of people singing Sinatra songs, but nothing as good as this”, and, from another member of the audience witnessing the show at The Folly, “The Pink Floyd numbers were outstanding”. A musician at one of the shows said: “If I’d paid £100 to see the show at The Palladium I would not have been disappointed.” The Showboat is now cruising the waterways and aims to supplement the full show Come Fly With Me by bringing Gerry’s talents to a wider audience. Gerry is a born entertainer as well as musician and singer and regularly has members of his audience crying, laughing, singing and dancing. Forthcoming events include The Anchor at Hathern on July 5 and The Old Crown at Fleckney on July 19.

things used to be’ before the turn of the century, using a unique pulley system, which is fixed to the towpath of the top lock when the horse walks in the opposite direction to pull the historic working boat out of the lock. The beer tent will be in full flow over the weekend with a range of special beers from Ma Pardoe’s. Also, a special 50th anniversary beer brewed for this event called ‘Leggers Ale’ will be on sale. On Sunday afternoon, the Mayor of Dudley will come along to officially start the Great Dudley Duck Race. This year will be a special race between the locks with more than 1000 ducks fighting for a podium finish. First prize will be a mini break for a family on the narrowboat Cecilia, second prize will be £25 with a third prize of £10. Tickets will be on sale at £1 each. ● For further details and bookings, contact organising committee member Steve Bingham on 07964 151552 or email for entry forms.

THE seaside will be the theme of the annual King’s Bromley Show near Lichfield, Staffordshire, on Saturday, July 26, from 10am until 5pm. All-day attractions will include horse show, trade and noncommercial stands, fun, craft and food fairs. From 12 noon, events will include circus horses, a pirate show and workshop, parrots roadshow, dancing dogs, children’s races, companion dog show, Punch & Judy, donkey rides, music, produce and craft competitions and a parade of treasured vehicles. Admission: Adults £6, seniors £4, under 16s £3, family (2+2) £14, under 5s free. Free parking. Contact 01543 472441, www.kingsbromley

Football for all

A FAMILY fun day and six-a-side charity football tournament will be hosted by the Kumon y’all community group at its annual Let’s Unite event at the Savile Town Playing Fields, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire on Saturday, August 2, from 9am. There will be four tournaments, including an over 40s event with teams including politicians and councillors, police, clerics and teachers. All proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Linocut exhibition and historic boats attraction at Audlem Mill

Singing his way around the network THIS summer sees the launch of The Showboat, a ‘floating’ entertainment which is the brainchild of Gerry Goode and his partner Linda. Gerry has been singing his way around the world for more than 40 years and now resides on The Showboat, a narrowboat with a rooftop stage. Mooring up outside canalside venues The Showboat offers entertainment outside or inside and caters for a wide audience including songs from Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, The Moody Blues, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and many more. The entertainment provided in the show is of the highest quality and recent venues include Bridge 61 at Foxton, The Navigation at Kilby Bridge, Rose and Crown at Zouch, The Folly at Napton and The 2 Boats at Long Itchington.


Gerry Goode on board The Showboat.


● Gerry is also available for private hire at weddings, garden parties, festivals and other special events. Contact: Gerry or Linda on 07967 461709 or 07976 603138. Email Website:

AN ATMOSPHERIC exhibition of linocut art by celebrated canal artist Eric Gaskell will be held at Audlem Mill, alongside the Shropshire Union Canal from July 14 to August 3. The show features works that look at a variety of canal-based motifs: the lock gates, the tumbling water, townscapes and landscape, and boats. All the prints are taken from limited-edition sets, printed using either multi-block or reduction methods. This one-man exhibition follows on from the very successful annual Canal Art Exhibition held at Audlem Mill for four weeks at Easter, which featured works by 17 artists and photographers. Born in Wigan, Eric Gaskell studied painting/printmaking at Wigan and

Sunderland. He has been creating art, illustration and design for more than 32 years, and has exhibited widely in oneman and group shows in the UK, Europe and North America. His small book Canal Linocuts is available from, and has become a cult item for collectors. For two days during the linocut exhibition (July 26-27), Audlem Mill hosts the annual Gathering of Historic Boats. About 50 ex-working boats will be moored in the bottom three pounds of the Audlem flight of 15 locks, and on the Sunday afternoon, July 27 , there is also a display of 300 vintage and classic vehicles on the village playing field, close to the canal wharf. All these events are free entry.



Floating cinema starts summer tour of London

THE Floating Cinema’s summer programme, which launched in June, will include unique waterway tours of London by the likes of broadcaster Robert Elms on Sunday, July 20 and street food journalist and author Richard Johnson. Dusk Tours will continue from July 2-3 and 7-9 and August 4-8, allowing audiences to relax and unwind with a drink and a film as the sun goes down on their local canal. Workshops for all ages, with artists and filmmakers, including international artist initiative My Villages and documentary filmmaker Mark Isaacs, form a key part of the programme. Events across the Extra-International programme will connect with other festivals, including The London Festival of Architecture, The Mayor’s Thames Festival, Open House London, and the Angel Canal Festival. Specific events will also be streamed live onto the Floating Cinema website for an online and international audience. A spokesman said: “London’s docks, canals and rivers have always been at the heart of this multi-cultural city and the Floating Cinema’s East End home is one of the most diverse areas in the world. “The new Extra-International programme celebrates this diversity, both at home and with content from abroad, with films, events, performances and tours celebrating waterborne communities around the globe. The programme will also continue to highlight the value of the waterways from ecological, heritage, political, cultural, social, industrial and domestic perspectives.” UP Projects’ Floating Cinema is supported by The Legacy List, in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, and realises their joint ambition to support high-quality arts and cultural experiences, born out of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as ensuring continued interest in and use of the waterways around east London. Additional support comes from Lottery funding through the BFI’s Programming Development Fund, which aims to bring a wide variety of film experiences to audiences right across the UK. ● For events listings visit


By Harry Arnold

THIS year’s sixth annual Stratford River Festival will be the focus of two of the most important anniversaries in the history of waterway restoration: The 50th celebration of the reopening of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal in 1964 and the subsequent reopening of the Upper Avon Navigation, 10 years later in 1974. Both ceremonies were performed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the afternoon of Friday, July 4 will be

July 1

July 2-5

Dudley Canal Trust: Real Ale Festival with more than 60 real ales plus ciders and wines. DCT boat trips site, 501 Birmingham New Road, Dudley DY1 4SB. Open Wednesday 511pm, Thursday to Saturday 11am-11pm. Free entry to DCT and CAMRA members, non members £2.

July 3

River Foss Society: City centre river bank litter pick by boat and on foot jointly with York Vikings Rotary Club. Meet at the footbridge to the nature reserve on Foss Islands Road, 2pm. Wear protective clothing and footwear. Contact June Card 01904 766196, by previous day. Southampton Canal Society: AGM followed by cheese and wine. Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth, Southampton SO16 7JZ, 7.45pm. Contact Angela Rose 02380 675312,

July 6

Titchfield Boat Jumble: Hound Hill Farm, Segensworth Road East, Titchfield, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5DY (Jct9/M27). Open to buyers 10am. All-weather indoor/outdoor event. Adults £3.50, children/parking free. Chaddock & Fox Promotions 02392 381405/07887 771451 Leawood Pumping Station: In steam at High Peak Junction, Cromford DE4 5HN. Information: 01629 823204. 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.

IWA Warwickshire Branch: A walk and picnic at Lapworth. Meet at 7.30pm at Brome Hall Lane car park. Contact 01926 403179.

dedicated to a re-enactment in Bancroft Basin of the canal’s reopening and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. There will be photographs from the time displayed in an exhibition put on by the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society, the Inland Waterways Association and the Canal & River Trust. Those who were at either event will be encouraged to reminisce about their memories; one of mine being the then lack of security which allowed us photographers to virtually sit by HM The Queen Mother’s feet.

On June 1, 1974, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother returned to Stratford to reopen the Upper Avon Navigation. She is seen here with (l to r) restorer of both the canal and the river, David Hutchings, Upper Avon Committee chairman and IWA founder Robert Aickman and Stratford Canal Manager Crick Grundy

Passenger boat Linda, carrying HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, crosses Bancroft Basin at the official reopening of the restored Stratford-upon-Avon Canal on July 9, 1964. PHOTOS:WATERWAY IMAGES

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.

Worcester, Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society: Society walk. More information:

July 9

Festival will focus on two landmark anniversaries

July 11-13

Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs: Golden Jubilee Rally at Black Buoy Cruising Club, Bridge 69 of the Grand Union Canal just south of Knowle. Entertainment, craft stalls and floating market. Entry forms and details at and

July 12-13

River Canal Rescue: Boat and engine maintenance course. Alvechurch Marina near Birmingham. For bookings and information visit call 01785 785680 or email

July 15

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust: AGM. The Royal Oak, Much Marcle, 7.30pm for 8pm start. Everyone welcome.

July 19-20

Buckingham Canal Society: Cosgrove Canal Festival and Craft Fair at Cosgrove Lock on the Grand Union Canal. Historic narrowboats, Saturday night music, stalls, trade boats and extra tables available in Cosgrove Village Hall. All welcome. Contact Athina Beckett 01908 661217,

July 20

IWA Towpath Walks Society, London: Regent’s Canal, Little Venice – Camden. Starts Warwick Avenue tube station at 2.30pm. Costs £9, £7 student/concs. Contact Roger Wilkinson 02084 589476.

July 22

River Foss Society: Foss Walk 5, circular walk from Farlington to Whenby. Meet at Blacksmith Arms car park, Farlington at 9.30am. Contact Bob Jowett 01904 764702, Derby & Sandiacre Canal Society: The Friargate Line by Keith Blood. The Wilmot Arms, 49 Derby Road, Borrowash, Derby, 8pm. Admission £2 members, £3 non members.

July 25-27

Kennet & Avon Canal Trust: Newbury Waterways Festival, Victoria Park, Newbury. Boats moored along the wharf and boat trips on Jubilee. On Sunday, 27 the park will be packed with stalls, entertainment, food outlets with fun for all the family culminating in the ever-popular duck race. Free entry.

It should also be noted that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Aickman who, with Tom Rolt, was one of two of the IWA’s best-known founders. Robert was heavily involved in various ways with both restorations. The following two days of the July 5-6 event weekend will incorporate the usual festival programme of entertainment – including a firework display – music, food and drink. More details on –

Redhill event will provide East Midlands showcase A NEW show aimed at promoting inland waterways boats and products will take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend at Redhill Marina, Ratcliffe-on-Soar. Boat builders and associated companies based at the Nottinghamshire boatyard are joining forces to stage the Redhill Boat Show, from August 23-25. They include Standard Narrowboats, Tristar Boats, Avante Boat Sales, Soar Valley Steel Boats and Tuggyland Boat Trips. On the River Soar, near to Trent Lock, the show is at the heart of the East Midlands’ waterway

network and close to the M1 and East Midlands Parkway station. Caravan and camping pitches will be available. There will also be a boat jumble, food stands and entertainment over the weekend. Admission is £2 per person or £5 for the family, parking is free. ● For further information or to book a stand contact 01509 672770,

A canal and river tour from London to Bristol EXPERIMENTAL folk trio, Dead Rat Orchestra, will undertake a unique tour across the canals and waterways from London to Bristol and Oxford this summer. Launching at the London Canal Museum on Monday, July 28, The Cut – a 273-mile odyssey – will finish with a triumphant finale at the Arnolfini in Bristol on August 16. The tour is supported by the Sound & Music touring scheme and the Canal & River Trust. With a set of songs inspired by the stories and the traditions of these ageing industrial arteries, the trio will travel exclusively by waterway as they cross the country via Oxford, performing as they go. The Cut is, however, much more than a series of concerts along the canal route. On a physical level it’s an adventure into a way of life as the trio will eat, sleep and live on the canal, navigating the waterways themselves (no cosy hotels on this tour), but most importantly it is a creative adventure. Meticulously researched, the project has unearthed, and continues to do so, some truly exciting material that has been hidden for decades. Along the way they discovered a version of Scarborough Fair, penned in Cecil Sharp’s own hand and probably not performed for 100 years; found an amateur song collector along the Kennet & Avon Canal route whose private collection is unsurpassed; and trawled the Lucy Broadwood Archive, housed at the Surrey History Centre, revealing material that even surprised its archivist. Special guests will be announced in due course, but Bristolian friends Rachel Dadd and Will Newsome, performing as The Hand, will join the trio for the final show in Bristol. They will be sharing tunes penned while working on the city’s ferryboats.

Tour dates:

July 28 London Canal Museum, £8, July 31 Memorial Garden, Staines, free Aug 1 All Saint’s Church, Marlow, free Aug 2 Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading Aug 4 Oxford Contemporary Music Aug 5 Braziers Park, Ipsden, free (evening talk and workshop) Aug 9 Crofton Beam Engines Aug 10 The Crown Inn, Pewsey, free Aug 11 Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, Devizes Wharf, free Aug 13 Holy Trinity Church, Bradford-on-Avon Aug 14 The Crossed Guns, Avoncliff (Bath Folk Festival) Aug 15 Museum of Bath at Work (Bath Folk Festival) Aug 16 Arnolfini, Bristol, £5, ● @deadratorchestr #DROTheCut



BITS & BOBS GREETINGS! Phill and I have many fishing stories from our cruises on the cut. We’ve each picked one to share with you in this column which celebrates those who use our towpaths. One afternoon we were pulled over within a discreet distance from a hump back bridge and watched a man and his little boy ‘fishing’. The lad’s father had tied a stone to one end of a piece of string and had attached the other end of the string to a branch. The little lad spent a happy afternoon tugging the ‘fishing pole’ up and down in the water after his father cast the ‘line’ into the canal.” That evening we wrestled our market fish into the pan and fried all four fillets at one go; two for now and two reserved for ‘fish wiches’ that any fisher person would be proud to take along as a snack lunch for the day’s outing. The string fries are a nod to the little lad’s fishing line.

by Rexx & Phill

July top tip

Phill’s ‘fish wiches’ make good cabin top lunches for ‘on the go’ cruising; we wrap them in kitchen towels and along with some crisps, keep them in an empty icecream carton (put a rock in the bottom to weigh the carton down and line the container with a kitchen towel). Why? We have to be careful not to catch cabin-top containers in the centre lines and fling them overboard as I’ve done with the odd chair or two. In the event of small disasters, I’d rather sacrifice a ‘recycled’ ice-cream carton than one of our nice plates. The cartons are great when we have to suddenly drop our sandwich because of one of those unanticipated ‘surprises’ for which boating is so famous and the deep container keeps the crisps from blowing away as well.

Rexx’s Smoked Haddock with String Fries Preparation time 15 minutes, fry time 10 minutes, serves four.

Gardening afloat Lee Senior’s topical tips for growing your own fruit and veg in the month of July

THERE are still plenty of tempting vegetables to sow this month: kohl rabi, beetroot, turnip, stump-rooted carrots, lettuce, radish and spinach will all germinate and grow quickly in decent sized containers or larger window boxes. Meanwhile blueberries are a rewarding and exciting fruit to grow. They are perfect for containers, grown in lime-free (ericaceous) compost. Plenty of water is the main requirement in summer. Use only rainwater collected from water butts if you possibly can. Once strawberry plants have finished cropping they produce young plants on runners. It is easy to use these to create

a pot or strawberry barrel full of new plants for free. Simply peg down these young plants in a small pot of compost and detach them from the parent plant when they have rooted. Strawberry plants need replacing every three years to maintain a worthwhile harvest. Keep a regular check over your courgette plants as the young courgettes develop very quickly now. The more you pick the more you get, and any you have missed will soon turn into marrows! Don’t forget to keep a look out for pests. If you see any caterpillars or aphids in small quantities they can easily be dealt with by hand, rather than resorting to an insecticide.

Fish ● 4 fish fillets ● 2 tbsp oil ● 2 tbsp butter ● Sprinkling of salt ● Sprinkling of pepper ● ½ cup sliced almonds ● Juice of ½ lemon (reserve the other half for the Chermoula) Peas We buy these frozen at the same time we buy the fresh fish and use them all up because we do not have lots of room in our freezer (it is the same excuse that we have for ice-cream, ‘use it or lose it’). String fries ● 2 tbsp oil ● 2 tbsp butter ● 2 potatoes peeled and sliced into match sticks ● Salt to coat Chermoula (optional or just serve lemon wedges on the side) ● 60ml olive oil ● 4 tbsp chopped parsley ● 4 tbsp chopped coriander ● Juice of half of a lemon ● ½ cup white wine ● 1 red chilli, chopped finely (because Phill loves ’em)

Blueberries ripening in July. PHOTO: LEE SENIOR

Make the chermoula by combining all of the ingredients and setting aside. Add 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter to a cast iron skillet and bring this up to sizzle temperature. Add the potatoes and fry, turning frequently. When they are brown and crisp, remove to a paper towel on a baking tin; sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in the oven. Re-season the frying pan with 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp

butter. When the mixture is at sizzle temperature, lay in the fillets and fry (4-5min per side). Salt and pepper to your taste. Spoon the chermoula on to individual plates. Set the fish fillets on the spread of sauce so that they can soak up the flavour while you add shoestrings and peas to the side. The two reserved fillets are used as ‘fish wiches’. See Phill’s recipe below.

Phill’s Fish Wiches

Preparation time 10 minutes, serves 2 with fillets whole (or 4 as a spread)

On a particularly good fishing day, we pulled over and moored beyond a group of young pre-teenaged lads who were out for the day fishing. They had serious fishing kit including chairs. I noticed that there was one extra, empty, chair; unusual, I thought, to lug along a chair on a fishing trip only to have it stay empty. The fishing didn’t seem to go well but the boys had a good time tucking in to some home-made sandwiches. We put our own chairs out to soak up the remains of the day’s sunshine and realised that the boys’ father had appeared to occupy the empty chair. But the most impressive thing we noticed was that the boys had saved a sandwich for their father. A chair and a sandwich and an extra pole, too. Go lads! And go dad! You’ve got a nice family there. I like to think that they might have been eating sandwiches like the one below. However, maybe that’s why the fish stayed away!

Mikron’s latest show takes some licking ICE CREAM consumption recently rocketed in the West Yorkshire village of Slaithwaite, writes Geoff Wood. But it wasn’t a sudden heatwave or a new blend that stimuated the appetites of villagers. Instead it was the ice cream-based drama Till the Cows Come Home at Slaithwaite Civic Hall that was entirely responsible. For the play from canal theatre company Mikron, who launched the play on dry land before a tour of the waterways, was centred around ice cream. Harvey Granelli, who works in local government, is haunted by his father’s skill as an ice cream maker and salesman. But the recipe cannot be easily found and that leads Harvey on a tour half way round the world to discover the recipe for delicious ice cream. Trouble was that all that talk of ice cream resulted in an increased appetite for the stuff in the hall. Fortunately help was at hand in the shape of a local ice cream seller who

furnished eager theatre goers with pots of the stuff. Good-natured humour is the cornerstone of this show that carries you along like a well tuned ice cream van. The cast present the show with verve and style. At the final curtain there were several encores for actors Nicholas CoutuLangmead, Esther -Grace Button, John HoltRoberts and Jill Meyers. Writer and lyricist was Deborah Andrew, the director was Olwen May and the musical director Rebekah Hughes. Till the Cows Come Home will tour nationally playing a variety of venues until October. With its narrowboat Tyseley, the company is currently embarking on its 43rd tour. This year alone it will play an estimated 136 venues with Till the Cows Come Home and the company’s first production for 2014, Troupers. It is a record that for ice cream lovers at least takes some licking.

● More details are available on Mikron’s website

Fish Wiches base ● Two fillets of cooked fish ● 1 sourdough roll per person ● Lettuce ● Margarine to spread Tartar sauce ● ½ cup mayonnaise ● 1 tsp spicy mustard ● 1 scallion (spring onion), diced ● 1 tbsp lemon juice ● 1 tbsp chopped sweet pickle relish ● 1 tsp chopped capers ● 2 tbsp chopped parsley ● Salt and pepper to taste Mix all of the tartar sauce ingredients together. Split the rolls and coat the insides with margarine; then, over the marg spread the bottom halves with a layer of tartar sauce. Over these lay the fish fillets and smother them with the remaining tartar

sauce. Drop on a lettuce leaf and finish with the roll top halves. Slice the sandwiches in half and plate. We like to add a few packets of lemon or hot spicy crisps for

pucker power. Note: If we have unexpected company, I crumble the fish into the tartar sauce and spread it out on the rolls to stretch things out. Fare well.

The cast of Till the Cows Come Home: John Holt-Roberts, Nicholas Coutu-Langmead, Jill Meyers and Esther-Grace Button with cows Persephone and Iris. PHOTO: BOB LOCKWOOD




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Boats for sale

“ODIN” beautiful 38ft Eggbridge cruiser stern, 1982, 26 berth, BMC engine, many modern improvements, stove, shower, inverter, calorifier. New survey & recent BSCC. £17,995 ono. Tel. 01243 790923. W Sussex.

26FT SPRINGER BSC 2017, 4 berth Honda outboard, recently serviced, good starter boat, £7500 ono. Tel. 01908 613086. Bucks.

50FT CRUISER Nicely refurbished live aboard, built in 1974. Engine: Lister SR3, sale price £15,000 ono. Tel. Craig on 07984 329969. Warks.

BOAT refurbished 40’, new kitchen, floor, repaint etc. BSS 5/17, Lister SR2, £24,500. Tel. Ade 07852 999601. Staffs.

BURLAND 26ft, new CoC, new licence, 4-berth, 1.5 BMC diesel, 12v TV, 1000w inverter, d/g cabin door, high quality boat, well worth a look, owner retiring from boating, moored at NCCC Club, Stockport, £7000. Tel. 01663 764838. Cheshire.

CAGGY HISTORIC BCN TUG Lister JP3 shot-blasted in and out, painted 2 pack hardwood fit-out, bottle stove, open to sensible offers. S/C 2018. Tel. 07710 343773. W Mids. 60FT NARROWBOAT to rent for 6 months, currently moored near Daventry in a lovely quiet marina, currently our permanent home but we want to travel abroad for 6 months, 2001 boat with new showerroom c/h log fire, lovely boat, interested? tel. 07847 733889 to discuss cost and terms. Northants.

CORACLE This is the more elongated shape traditionally used by wild fowlers, has undergone some repairs and has been previously used and loved, however, it is fully functional, £250. Tel. Ade on 07852 999601. Staffs.

CRUISER STERN NARROWBOAT 60ft, 1992, Morsco stove, Mastervolt Inverter, new cratch, cratch covers and pram hood fitted 2011, BSC 2013, licence til Sept 2014. Lying at Lyons Boatyard B’ham. £28,000. Tel. 0753 2016222. B’ham.

CRUISER STYLE 55ft, fully equipped for - Summer/Winter short or extended cruising or ‘live aboard’, sleeps 2+2, full size double bed, domestic oven, hob and washing machine, multi-fuel stove, microwave, fridge, 240v Pure Sine wave inverter, shower, cassette toilet, £38,000. Tel. 01780 470599. Email: dave. Northants.

FAIRLINE 32 for sale with extended flybridge, 4/6 berth, sound boat but needs tlc and servicing. Your chance to upgrade it to your own taste. Absolute bargain at £15,000 no offers Tel. 07906 870112 for full details. Lincs.

FREEMAN 22 Mk 2 narrow beam canal/river cruiser, 1970, BSC 2018, original woodwork/gel coat, 3 berth, recently serviced, Watermota petrol inboard, s/s tanks, gas hob, blue velour interior and light blue vinyl external cushions, wc fenders, warps, boat hook £5500. Tel. 01676 534874. Warks.

BIRCHWOOD 33 CLASSIC twin Perkins diesel, 6 berth, centre cockpit, original gel coat, rear d/bed, ensuite two toilets, shower, 3-way fridge cooker, £22,000. Tel. 0114 2510098.Yorks.

GOOSEMOOR 50ft liveaboard, trad narrowboat, GT hull, 1990, super, professional repaint last summer, stove with back boiler, 1.8 inverter, 240/12v, fixed double. Tel. 07717 670690. Berks.

HERON 2003, 57ft x 10ft 6” wide beam canal boat including residential mooring Driffield Navigation, East Yorkshire, 4 berth (2 cabins) 2.2L Isuzu engine, Shore mains and water, gas c/h and log burner, fully equipped, immac cond, many extras, too much to list, £69,000. Tel. 07817 771690. E Yorks.

KASHMIR 1992, ideal hideaway, beautiful traditional 50ft narrowboat, tug style deck, port holes, vintage Ruston 2YWA engine, bathroom, galley, lounge, s/f stove, furniture, d/bed, BSC (2012), moored BD23 3NT, £43,500 or £5000 as part of 1/10 share syndicate. Tel. 07795 504072. W Yorks.

LADY AVON 32ft wooden cruiser built by J H Taylor, Chester 1960. Extensive refit 2009, original BMC Vedette petrol engine, sleeps 4, galley with sink, stove, fridge, auto bilge pump, side canopies, overall cover, Thames Licence 2014, BSC 2017. Located Thames, Henley, £28,000. Tel. 0779 9090567. Berks.

NARROWBOAT TUNNEL TUG 40ft, 2008, BSC, Bukh., 20hp, cooker, shower, wc, soild fuel, fully repaint, open to offers, may take p/x, £27,950. Tel. 01455 822389. Leics. ARTHUR VERDUN tug style, 1987, Phil Jones, 1948 Armstrong Siddeley 3 cyl, blacked and 4 new anodes 2013, BSC 2017, Morso Squirrel gas stove, 4 ring cooker, shower, porta potti (new 365), boatman cabin at stern with Epping range, fold-down double, full size double, in main cabin, useful ply and canvas covering over front deck, characterful live aboard, licensed to Oct. £23,000 ono. Tel. 077520 76434. Southsea.

NORMAN 23 Engine and canopy need attention hence low price, new Morse Nov 13, solar panels charging battery for interior lights and sockets, voyager cooker with auto gin, double skinned with original Norman fit-out, £750 ono. Tel. 0770 8055070. Cheshire.

SHETLAND FAMILY FAVOURITE Cabin cruiser 1997, one owner from new, 2012, 20hp Honda, hardly used, sleeps 4 (2” cabin 2 in cockpit), on roller coaster 3.5 trailer, fully equipped with gas hob, £10,000 ono. Tel. 07908 937649. Berks.

VIKING 20 fully equipped and ready to drive away, loads of storage space, cooker, porta potti, new curtains and many extras, Honda 15hp outboard, 4 to 5 berth, good condition with hard top, very clean and tidy, £4750 ono. Tel. 0752 3069286. Lincs.

R&D NARROWBOAT 1989, 60ft narrowboat, 4 yrs BSC, blacked, new annos, 28.4.14, RCR paid till Apr 15, full cooker, gas and elec fridge, £25,500. Tel. 07802 717078. Derbys.

SPRINGER NARROWBOAT 32ft, diesel, inboard engine, 3 berths, cooker, toilet, shower, water heater, fridge, s/f stove, blacked annually, BSC 2017, beautiful boat, £12,500. Tel. 01733 232595. Cambs.

VIKING 20 20 length 20ft, beam 7ft 4in, built in 1985, 4 berth, cooker, hob, sink, cold water system porter-potty toilet, all original gel-coat not painted, recent hood, marina 15hp, 4 stroke engine, moored on Paddington Arm, Grand Union Canal, £3960. Tel. 0208 8669581. London.

SEA OTTER 41 2006, SE with 5 (6) berths, 553 hours on engine, Bowthruster, good condition, overhauled in factory Sept 2013, £55,000. Tel. 07887 456957. for more details and pics! .

SEAMASTER Perkins diesel engine, Safety Certificate 2018, toilet compartment, new canopy, upholstery, cooker and sink, moored Hest Bank, Lancaster canal. £6500. Tel. 07906 473253. Lancs.

SEAMASTER 23 4-berth, PA108 heating cooker, portapotti anti-fouled Z-drive, overhauled Mar 14, new BSC, large inventory, M50/M5 jct, ready to cruise, River Avon mooring available. £7250. Tel. 01432 351948. Hereford.

SEMI-TRAD NARROWBOAT 45ft, professional built by Bourne BoatBuilders in Cheshire, beautifully maintained, 2009, only 500 hours on the clock, Vetus 35 engine, £43,000. Tel. 07979 102927. W Yorks.

STOKE-ON-TRENT 60ft trad, Joshua bow and recessed panels, fitted out in ash wood, sophisticated electrics, full specification on application, price has been greatly reduced! £86,000. Tel. Roger 07855 255389. Devon.

TRAD STYLE NARROWBOAT 55ft, 4 years old, Isuzu diesel engine, 4 berth, fitted out in oak, full size shower, Thetford cassette flush toilet, 12v fridge with freezer compartment, multi fuel fire, c/h, excellent condition, reason for sale not been used. Moorings at Lower Park Marina, Barnolswick, W Yorks. £54,850 ono Tel. 01706 825006 or 07941 429229. W Yorks.

TRADITIONAL NARROWBOAT 70ft, luxury live aboard, 4-berth, professionally fitted out in Iroko and American oak, Perkins 3HD, 46hp engine/ PRM gearbox, Aquaflex coupling, Dakar Combi 12/2500w, inverter/ charger, Morse and reflex stoves/black boiler, 5 radiators and hot water, elec immersion heater, Waeco 240/ 12v fridge, washer/dryer, s/s water tank and filtered water, loads of storage. Tel. 07971 694114. Cambs. NORMAN CONQUEST 20ft, 1977, 9.9 mariner outboard, recent survey, BSC Aug 16, transferable mooring on River Wey, Surrey. £2775. Tel. Dave 01444 239366. W Sussex.

VIKING 23 New 9.9 Mariner, 4 stroke engine, new canopy and full repaint, new steering system, new refit to int including water heater to much work done to list all. £12,000 ono Tel. Lee 07814 543150. Staffs.

VIKING 26 Centre cock pit, 6 berth, re-lined, new carpet, reupholstered cockpit seating, sold as nearly completed project inc unfitted oven & water heater, £7500. Tel. 07713 465791. Cambs.

WIDE BEAM AMBER ‘Lily The Pink’, professional fit-out, 5 years-old live aboard, 2 berth, beautiful, solid ash interior - fully fitted galley with granite work surfaces, large bathroom, Quadrant shower, separate corner bath, double bathroom, with ample storage, wood floor throughout, wood burner in large open plan sitting room, c/h, pumpout toilet, bow thruster, 65hp Barrasshire engine, new BSC Apr 14, rural residential mooring available, 4m outside Bath - 6m Bristol, reluctant sale, £99,500. Tel. Carolyn 07792 450289. Bath.

WIDE BEAM 40ft x 10ft, 1.84 diesel engine, BSC May 2014, being sold fully furnished with all usual kitchen appliances, large open plan saloon with bed settee, solid stove, front doors lead on to front deck area, one bedroom with wardrobe, bathroom with bath, over bath shower, sink and porta-potti, water supplied by calorifier, wheelhouse with space for large single or small double bed, laying on Grand Union, £48,000. Tel. 07831 274399. Yorks. NAUTICUS 27ft, beautiful condition, refurbished, cockpit, all reupholstered, new curtains/washroom toilet/BSC 2018 navigation licence/ready for cruising. Mooring Warwickshire, £7500 ono. Tel. 01564 793818. Warks. NAUTICUS 27 1970, twin trailer, BSC 2017, refitted hull/Shore power/new wiring/ shower room/new cassette toilet, new upholstery, hot water, new Leisure batteries x2, water, heating, ready to go, £12,995. Tel. 07703 294485. Lincs.

Parts and spares WIDE BEAM BOTTOM BARGE 48ft x 9ft, 4 berth, bedroom with double bed, bathroom with shower, kitchen area with gas cooker and 12v fridge/freezer, gas heating, stainless steel water tank, Lister engine, Bridgwater docks, Somerset. Quick sale required. £49,950 ono. Tel. 01278 685087. Somerset. CRUISER STERN, 46ft steel hull, Isuzu engine, survey and work done, BSC 2018, hull blacked 2014, fitted double bed, fitted kitchen, 240v & 12v boat on hard standing at North Kilworth Wharf. Tel. Rachael 01858 881723. Leics. FREEMAN 22 Mk 1, 7ft 6" beam, blown air heating, anti fouled, 4 berth, solar panel, TV & DVD player, BSC Jul 17, licence till Sept 14, £5500. Tel. 07599 283706. S Yorks.

17 X 12.RH PROPELLER 11⁄2” shaft, excellent condition, £150. Tel. 01283 810005. Derbys.

NARROWBOAT WINDOWS X5 one 96cm x 73cm; one 96cm x 73cm (missing hopper glass); one 98cm x 73cm missing hopper glass); one x 79cm x 73cmone x 91cm x 73cm; £45 ono. Tel. 07702 853910. Notts.


NationalNarrow boats W anted For C ash

0800 3895325 PAIR OF ADJUSTABLE FENDERS to suit narrowboat rail, £10. Tel. 01270 368285. Cheshire.

RH PROP 19 x 14 11⁄2” shaft very good condition, £120. Tel. 07873 223131. Wilts. CJR PROPELLER never used, r/h, 20" x 15", 11/2" shaft but c/w adapter sleeve for 11/4" shaft, £250. Tel. 07973 763987. Oxon. CLAXON lovely, brass and copper, 12v, £195. Tel. 07717 500755. Cornwall. SEVEN BOAT WINDOWS secondhand, dull brass, hopper style, six, 32" x 21"; one, 21" x 18", £130 ono; Provence clueless gas stove, 6 months old, £200 ono. Tel. 07938 780347. Notts. SPLIT SCREEN four part fits narrow boat/cruiser, heavy duty perspex rubber sealed aluminium trimmed with clip studs for weather cover, (not supplied), good condition, £175. Tel.Alan 07861 394538. Beds. WEBASTO diesel central heating boiler with all fittings, reservoir, pipes, electrics, never used - tested only. £600. ono 07445 913547. Cambs. FIRE ENGINE SEARCHLIGHT 12v and mount, spare bulbs, adjustable beam, £250. Tel. 07971 694114. Cambs. FOR SINK whale pump, Mk IV, unused, £20; Rule binge pump 360, used, £12; 3kg anchor and chain, £10; metal windlass, £10; mini dehumidifier, £20. Tel. 077910 34695. Cambs.

RUTLAND 913 turbine inc. regulator, mast & straps, good condition, £225 ovno; domestic porcelain toilet base for pump out, l/h flush will not fit my tank top, hence unused, £85 ono. Tel. Jim 07873 269671. Shrops.


w w w .nationalnarrow


LARGE BOAT LAMP made by anchor, (one in the centre), £40 ono. Tel. 0777 2046129. Notts.

PETTER PH2W ENGINE and Newage gearbox, both reconditioned and run in, electric or hand start. Can be seen running. £3300 ono Tel. 07879 076309. Leics.

KABOLA Old English stove, c/w chimney, flue, collar and manual, £150; brown leather, two-seater reclining sofa, good condition, £150. Cannot deliver. Tel. 07576 268080. S Yorks. WOOD BURNER Little Wencock refurbished multi-fuel grate, ready to install, £275. Tel. 07760 115966. Derbys.

Equipment SR3 LISTER ENGINE with Lister hydraulic gearbox, can be seen running. £2100. Tel. 01283 810005. Derbys. BRIT MARINE 2 cylinder petrol engine, good condition, not run for a few years, will require recommissioning, ideal for classic/vintage boat, £220. Tel. Peter 0117 9867518. Bristol, Avon. YAMAHA ENGINE 4-stroke, 4hp, longshaft outboard motor, FNR gears, very little use, can be seen running, £375. Tel. 01902 743828. Wolvs. YANMAR MARINE DIESEL ENGINE YSM 12g, single cylinder 850cc, raw water cooled 12hp with unit construction 3-1 reduction gearbox complete, £450. Tel. Alan 07861 394538 or text will call you back. Beds. WOLF GENERATOR Wolf 850 watt, 240 vac petrol generator, little used, £99. Tel. 079220 96686. Cheshire.

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LABGEAR satellite finder meter, find the best elevation settings for satellite dish installation, with variable audio signal and analogue meter, £5. Tel. 07712 370306. Oxon.

MARLEC RUTLAND 913 windcharger with HRDX voltage controller, both unused, still boxed, £450 ono. Tel. 07761 446753. Shrops. Email:


Insta n A lw at C ash A vail y s able

WALLAS DIESEL COOKER as shown, 11 years old, gwo, last serviced Nov 2012, £400 cash. Tel. 07713 513873. Coventry canal near Lichfield. PUMP-OUT TOILET and holding tank, domestic Sealand porcelain pan, tank dimensions 5ft 7" x 15" x 10", used, good condition, buyer to collect, £200. Tel. 07896 199109. Northants. THETFORD C250 toilet cassette, still in box, unused cost £90, sell for £65; Ross HD digital receiver in carry case, with manual etc, cost £60, sell for £30; navigation lights, one green, one red, unused, £5 each; blue bilge pump, float switch, 12v/24v/32v, unused, £4.50; immersion heater 1.2kw, unused, c/w spanner and approx 5m 1.5mm, heat resistant cable, £28; 50 round, 12v, LED red dot rocker switch, unused, £18; 2x 5 ltr cans black Bitumen, unopened, £10 each; 1x 5 ltr Paintmaster dark grey gloss RAL7021, unopened, £25; pick up preferred. Can be posted or couriered at extra cost. Tel. 07842 261407. Northampton. LAB GEAR Satellite finder, £5; digital satellite receiver, £10; Beko 15" LCD TV and stand, in silver, £10.Tel. 07712 370306. Oxon. EX TRAVEL SAT complete with dish, magnetic base, slx satellite finder, compass, all cables inc spares, used one season only plus new sky boxand remote, £199. Tel. 01666 503992; 07881 505396. Glos.


SOLAR PANELS 2 x 95 and 1 x 180 watts, used on boat, £75 each ono. Tel. 07445 987887. Leics. MATTRESS FOR SALE brand new, never used, pocket sprung, 64" wide x 71" long x 8" high, with fold at 24" head to foot, (north south), cost new £650, good quality mattress, £500 ono. Tel. 07890 956750 or 07506 736944. Herts. WEBASTO C/H BOILER for sale, this was fitted by an approved fitter but has not been used.I am using a back boiler in the Morso, everything included, elecs, fuel pipes and reservoir. Tel. 07445 913547. Cambs.

I'M LOOKING FOR A LIVEABOARD with the option rent to buy please. Anything considered. Tel. 07554 445122. Staffs. LOOKING TO HIRE a boat for a trial as considering a live-aboard soon. Don't mind paying a fee, which will help you out! 2 Yorkies coming along, well behaved. Tel. 07809 241531. S Yorks. SMALL OUTBOARD WANTED max hp 2-2.5 to power inflatable dinghy, must be good runner and good condition. Tel. 01785 254358. Staffs. WANTED: HAND STARTING HANDLE and cylinder head, c/w valves for SABB diesel twin 2H or why? Tel. 01254 202341. Lancs.


Parts Wanted

2-BERTH BOAT wanted, we are two people, with 2 cats, looking for a 2 berth boat to have for a long let in West Yorkshire? Tel. 01484 643089. W Yorks. ANYTHING E & H ROBERTS Deanshanger Iron Works wanted, name plates, implement seats, catalogues, bill headers, spanners, etc. Tel. 01908 561434 eves. Northants. CANAL CRUISER 25-27ft wanted for first time buyer, must be in good condition, 46 berth with shower, cheap as possible and near Merseyside please. Tel. Syd 0151 2844995; 07707 701327. Merseyside. GARDNER ENGINE WANTED ex-used, 4LK boat engine, anything considered, leave message. Tel. 079511 83106. Chester. NARROWBOAT WANTED will consider a boat needing work, tlc etc. Tel. 0790 6019299. Norfolk. SEA OTTER 41 wanted. Tel. 07948 389008. Cheshire.

ARDIC CABIN HEATER diesel, 12v Diesel pump wanted, Toyoset diesel cabin heater, remote control wanted and other spares. Tel. 07990 785288. S Yorks. WANTED: 12V FRIDGE to suit 23ft GRP cruiser, must be in good working order, based in Tamworth, can collect within reasonable distance (30-40 miles), sensibly priced. Tel. 01827 767485; 07946 664749. Staffs.



CEILING LIGHTS 24 chrome recess, c/w halogen bulbs (+ 6 spare bulbs), will take 2 pin LEDs. 71.5mm outside dia., 50mm for recess, 20mm front to back, majority as new, all vgc, £120 plus post. Tel. Jim Dows 07712 771140. Staffs.

2 SINGLE ARMCHAIR/ BEDS exc cond, £200 each; collect from NN6 area, £200 each. Tel. 07771 911892 for details. Northants.

2 TRENT CHAIR BEDS pale blue/grey, vgc, from pet free and non smokers boat at Maghull near Southport, 33” wide x 34” high, 34” deep, £175 each or both for £300 Tel. 07789 766485.

BRASS FURNITURE KNOBS not plated, hollow cast, 30mm diameter, set of 20 off, £15. Tel. 07811 314112. Leics. CYCLONE TYPHOON 3 adult life jackets, as new, £25 each; 12V electric coolbox, never used, £45; B/W TV/Radio 12v, 5.5", £10. Tel. 01205 280254. Lincs. ELECTROLUX CAMPING FRIDGE Uses 240v, 12v or gas, good working order, £60. Tel. 01625 871928. Gtr Man. SEATING/BEDDING CUSHIONS 5 large, total length approx 22ft, high density deep foam cushions with matching backrests, upholstered muted tapestry material, exc cond, little used, ideal for refurb project, £100 the lot. Tel. 07715 581957 for details. S Yorks.

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Council backs campaign to retain residential lock-keepers

Grafton Lock is one of those which would be affected by the changes. PHOTO: ELIZABETH ROGERS By Elizabeth Rogers

MEMBERS of West Oxfordshire District Council have voted unanimously in favour of a motion in support of the retention of resident lock keepers at locks along the River Thames. The river forms the southern boundary of the district, and there are eight locks along this 26-mile stretch of water, starting from Buscot Lock near Lechlade. The Environment Agency has been considering changes in the employment of lock keepers, among other means of cost reduction. District councillors believe resident lock keepers play an important role in the life of and safety of the River Thames and are calling on the Environment Agency to retain the present system of lock-keepers, in particular along the remote stretch which includes the locks at Buscot, Grafton, Radcot, Rushey, Shifford, Northmoor, Pinkhill and Eynsham. The motion was proposed by Couns Peter Kelland and Steve Good. Coun Kelland said that the locks and their onsite residences are of importance from both the vital safety aspect and also that of our national heritage. He recalled the role that lock-keepers had played during the floods of recent winter, providing valuable advice and assistance. In summer they are a direct point of reference for boaters, some of whom may be inexperienced in handling craft, and who may need help in passing through a lock, he added. Coun Kelland also detailed some of the historical associations of the local locks and added: “The locks are part of our English heritage – they have to stay”.

Linear village

Coun Good emphasised the value of a permanent resident lock keeper posts. “The locks are like a linear village, passing information between the keepers from lock to lock,” he said. “They have knowledge of flood-control, when weir gates need to be closed, and can post navigation warning notices when necessary.

“Because they are often hidden away in remote locations many people may not be aware of them – but they are doing a great job. “We felt it was important to stand up for them, and we wanted to show our support. There is a real need for these lock keepers”. A spokesman for the Environment Agency, waterways manager Andrew Graham, has said: “We remain committed to having lock and weir keepers and we value the work they do. “While we may not be able to provide assisted passage at every lock every day, we have enough permanent lock-keepers to allow us to manage water-levels, to permit navigation and to reduce the risk of flooding. “Occasionally, boaters will encounter a lock which is not manned, but we have made sure that all of them can be operated when a lock keeper is not present. “We make sure that the busiest and deepest locks are manned as a priority”. On current staffing issues, Mr Graham said: “This year we have been able to recruit fewer seasonal staff, but the number of permanent staff is not affected.”

Historical associations

St John’s Lock at Lechlade, where the statue of Old Father Thames from the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace now stands. Buscot – where the lock was given by local landowners, the Cook family. Grafton – which is close to Kelmscott Manor, home of William Morris, one of the pioneers of the arts and crafts movement. Radcot – where a battle in the Civil War was fought nearby. Rushey – where a lock house was once let out as a holiday home and occupied by famous names from the world of films. Pinkhill, from where the aviator Amy Johnson took off on a flight in 1935.

Best practice shared at restoration workshop THE first annual workshop aimed at helping restoration groups across the country has been declared a great success. Over 60 representatives of restoration societies and canal trusts from across the country attended the workshop, hosted by the Canal & River Trust and The Inland Waterways Association at The Bond Warehouse, Digbeth on May 10. It also marked the launch of a report into the many benefits that restoration can bring to communities. Carried out by the University of Northampton, it re-examines the benefits arising from seven specific canal restoration schemes (including the Kennet & Avon Canal, Liverpool Link, Rochdale Canal, Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Millennium Link and Chesterfield Canal) helping to demonstrate how similar schemes may benefit their local communities. Both the trust and IWA hope that the report, along with a new video, can help to inspire more people to get involved with canal restoration efforts. The day also saw speakers from groups including the Cotswold Canal Trust, the Wiltshire, Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership (covering the Wilts & Berks Project) and the Herefordshire & Gloucester Canal Trust sharing some of their experiences. There were also sessions on the practical considerations facing restoration groups such as securing funding and making the most of training opportunities. Speaking by video link as he was taking part in the Montgomery Canal Triathlon, CRT chief executive Richard Parry said: “We’ll be launching a campaign in early summer to try and inspire people to do just that; to find out more about the history of their local canals, the work of their local restoration group and, importantly, how they can help.” IWA national chairman Les Etheridge said: “To ensure the long term success of future restorations it is essential that future running costs are built into the restoration plan. Presentations on how this is being achieved by both the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust and, from a different perspective, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway were very thought provoking and informative. As it has for many years IWA remains committed to the sustainable restoration of our inland waterways.” ● A copy of the University of Northampton report and the ‘Water Adds Value’ video can be found at

Boater saves the day after alarm failure By Bob Clarke

WHEN vandals damaged paddle gear on the top lock of the Delph Flight on the Dudley Canal on April 23/24, the water level dropped by over three feet in the Merry Hill Marina and about a mile of canal back as far as Blowers Green Lock. But when local liveaboard boater Peter Dufficy called the Canal & River Trust emergency number – operated out of hours for CRT by the West Midlands Ambulance Service – there was no response. And although the Scada warning system – which gives the alarm when there is any drop in water levels – was working and alerted the duty supervisor he didn’t realise the seriousness of the problem and did not despatch a hit squad to the site.

Consequently Mr Dufficy raced round the pontoons and loosened mooring ropes to prevent boats being hung up and possibly sinking when water levels were returned to normal. CRT maintenance manager Ian Darby said the vandals had opened other paddles down the flight which prevented the flight being flooded. Of the failure of the Trust to respond to the Scada alert, he said: “Basically we didn’t get it right and we got caught out. Thankfully there was no real harm done.” Regarding the complaint of no response on the emergency number, Mr Darby said: “I will pass this on as we have on occasions found them slow to respond when very busy but they have always responded eventually.”

Man jailed for causing £15,000 damage

A BOAT thief has been jailed for eight months after being caught out by DNA evidence on a discarded cigarette. Unemployed Bernard Smith, 51, admitted theft at Gloucester Crown Court which heard he caused an estimated £15,000 damage in his efforts to repaint nb Cushie Butterfield after stealing it from moorings in Sharpness.

Lancaster Canal to host 2015 National Trailboat Festival THE Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has announced its 2015 National Trailboat Festival will take place at the Westmorland Show Ground, Crooklands, Cumbria, on the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal over the weekend May 30-31. The festival, which is to be hosted and organised by Lancaster Canal Trust, will be part of the ‘Country Fest’ show, an annual canalside event. Activities for the whole family, as well as a variety of food and drink providers, exhibitors, food demonstrations, trade stalls, music and dance, crafts and a beer festival are planned to entertain visitors over the weekend. IWA’s annual Trailboat Festivals are usually held on isolated stretches of inland waterway, and aim to promote the restoration or development of local waterway, a feature on it, or to promote an under-used waterway.

This year’s IWA National Trailboat Festival was held on the land-locked Grand Western Canal at Tiverton, in Devon, over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Forty trail boats attended and thousands of visitors enjoyed the boat parade entertainment, which included a hot air balloon, lanterns, samba band, disco and boat handling competition. The event has been acclaimed a great success. Although a wet Saturday necessitated an early closure that day, sunny weather on both the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday brought out the Devon crowds. The event also provided an opportunity to celebrate completion of repairs to the breached embankment at Halberton, and for visitors to express their appreciation of Devon County Council’s investment in the waterway.

The National Trailboat Festival was last held on this site alongside the county showground in 2006. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES


Tackling risks before they become reality How does the Boat Safety Scheme work? Janet Richardson asked manager Graham Watts.

New risks

“Boating is a relatively safe leisure environment but there are some new risks which come through and those are risk reviewed,” Graham explained. “Identifying new risks before they become a reality is the key nowadays.” Requirements are based on international boat building standards with the aim to provide boat owners with multiple compliance options and are not about creating more hoops for boat owners to jump through. “New risks may come through but I am confident that introducing new BSS requirements will always be a last resort.” Graham gave this example about how potentially hazardous refillable LPG cylinders which you could take to your autogas station and fill up with LPG were being sold to the boating market at festivals a few years ago. The danger was that stored LPG needs room to expand in the cylinder and these units had no overfilling protection. Human nature will incline people to fill to the top, and with a completely full

cylinder, when the temperature warms, the liquid fuel will expand past the regulator and escape through any appliance burner. It would instantly turn to gas, expand 250 times and fill the cabin with a highly explosive vapour cloud that could very likely be ignited. But rather than create new regulations to deal with this issue, it was quicker and more effective to talk to the supplier who withdrew the product immediately and issued a news release warning about the risk. The BSS instructed examiners about what to do should they find one on a boat and the public advice for boaters is still there on the BSS website. Graham said: “We were assured that there were no other suppliers in the UK, so the risk was contained.” He continued: “On the other hand, on the subject of solid fuel stoves, we are pretty good at engendering debate, that is one of the biggest plus points of the scheme. “Carbon monoxide is way up the risk league table – on average one inland waterway boater will die from CO poisoning each year. One of the things that we found out in recent months was that a solid fuel stove flue inherently produces 100 times more CO proportionately than a poorly burning gas flame on your hob.

THE Boat Safety Scheme is in the business not only of managing existing risks but also identifying new hazards before they become a reality. Administered by the Canal & River Trust, the five-strong team reports to CRT head of safety Tony Stammers and operations director Vince Moran who is chairman of the BSS Management Committee. In a foreword to the Navigation Authority Agreement in respect of the scheme, Mr Moran explains: “The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) is in place to help minimise the risks to people and property presented by boats that have been inadequately constructed, equipped or maintained, or through the inappropriate use of appliances, engines and associated boat systems and fuels.” Wholly owned by the CRT and the Environment Agency, BSS is independently funded with its income coming from the sale of BSS certificates by its registered boat safety examiners. “But the power is with the stakeholders who make recommendations to the management committee,” Graham Watts stressed. These make up the BSS Advisory Committee and comprise 15 separate organisations including marine trade, examiner/surveyor groups and navigation authorities. Fifteen authorities are covered by the scheme; the biggest three are the CRT, EA and Broads Authority – and user groups including the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Inland Waterways Association (IWA), Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC), Residential Boat Owners Association (RBOA), National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) and The Boating Association. The chairman is David Dare of Oxfordshire Narrowboats. Graham described them as very experienced people at a high level in their respective organisations. Minimum safety requirements for privately owned and managed boats using these navigations are published in the BSS Essential Guide. Compliance with the 31 legal requirements is a condition of boat licensing. The ‘bible’ for boat safety examiners, the checking procedures are available to boat owners within the second edition of the essential guide published in 2005 and containing an introduction to the scheme and eight chapters detailing hazards and 178 routine safety checks. Apart from the introduction of seven new checks in January 2013, nothing has changed since then other than fine-tuning.

Identifying new risks before they become a reality is the key nowadays.

“Because flue heights are quite low on boats with gases cooling prematurely in the flue – the wind direction is a factor – there is a potential for flue gas to travel back down the flue and enter the cabin through any gaps or cracks in the stove.” The most recent fatalities include men who have bought a boat to live on. And since the Windermere tragedy last year when a mother and daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning, more than 20,000 CO safety leaflets have been delivered in three months by the national user groups and others; most marinas and waterways outlets have them. “This is the sort of approach which I like,” Graham continued. “It is not someone trying to tell you what to do, it’s about joint involvement to get this information to people, which is the way we should be working.”

Consistency is key

At the time of writing, 219 examiners were authorised and registered with the BSS. Periodic field assessments are carried out to improve their performance. “You can’t even get on the course nowadays without five years’ relevant experience or marine specific qualifications; a good proportion of new entrant examiners are Gas Safe registered installers in their own right, working for themselves or marinas,” Graham explained. “Consistency is the key. We are continually striving to improve performance and ensure consistency in managing risk and carrying out examinations. These guys can’t have bad days; they have got to perform consistently day in, day out.”

Boat Safety Scheme manager Graham Watts: “Our responsibility is to provide the information.” Training is undertaken through one provider, the South Worcestershire College at Evesham, which specialises in the training of gas installers. If successful at the end of a two-week course with lots of assessments and a full boat assessment, they get their certificate. “It is beyond just answering questions on an exam paper, they work into the evenings and the course is quite stringent. We think the course is good and that the approach is fine, we also offer mentoring,” Graham said. “The vast majority of applicants come to us; there is a waiting list, we don’t advertise. Most will have shown they can compete in the market; competition is fierce. We do hammer home the need to have a solid business case. If they work for a marina, BSS examining is something that they can offer their customers along with winterising services etc.” However, in areas where there is a shortage of examiners, BSS has encouraged people to go on the course who can fill the gap. For the first four years, boats should be covered by a Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) declaration of conformity. After that they require a BSS certificate once every four years. On the average boat, the examination takes over an hour and a half to carry out with the fee from each certification going back to the BSS. It sits squarely under the navigation authorities to ensure that known risks are reasonably addressed. “We help them to discharge this duty in respect of the construction, equipping and maintenance of boats.” As well as a condition of licensing, the certificate may also be a requirement for insurance cover and by some marina owners. The scheme operates at a snapshot in time to assure them of the level of compliance over the full life of the boat.

What next?

The deaths of 30 boaters over the last 20 years have been attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning so should CO alarms be compulsory in hire boats? According to Graham, this is currently under review in respect of hire boats where there is a solid fuel stove – an estimated 300 boats – and will be subject to some practical trials. He pointed out that one hire fleet has fitted 80 smoke alarms and CO alarms to help with the trial.

“For privately owned boats it seems a reasonable thing but you have got to want to be protected. Our responsibility at the moment is to provide the information that advises the choice of boaters to fit a detector alarm to protect themselves and their loved ones.” Barbecues are another hazard, 12 campers having died in the past 18 months, so there is a need to keep cooling charcoal well away from the boat; also, in respect of generators and outboard motors, keep engine exhaust gases out of the cabin. Boating accidents have also been in the news recently with the tragic death of a boater in Harecastle Tunnel. At the moment the BSS just has a monitoring role concerning manoverboard, capsize and arson attacks: “We have been logging every incident,” explained Graham, “and will be drawing out information from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID) for the navigation authorities to decide what to do next – or whether to do anything at all. “Originally the Scheme was intended to make sure boats are safe, but when we started analysing trends in the cause of incidents, it was largely due to either poor maintenance or inappropriate use of fuels or equipment. As far as we are concerned, a high proportion of incidents have a behavioural cause; an element of behaviour has led to more than two-thirds of fire and CO incidents. “Following the modernisation of the Scheme in 2005, we immediately moved to improve safety awareness. Spreading knowledge of the risks, and boaters acting upon that knowledge, is a sure way to make boating even safer.” ● For more details about how to stay

safe visit: stay-safe Checking procedures are available online so that boaters can carry out their own routine safety checks in preparation for a BSS examination. Visit the boat examination/private boats page at and click on the link provided.

Beko seeks older cookers which could cause a carbon monoxide risk DOMESTIC appliance brand Beko is targeting the UK’s caravan, static home and boating communities in the next phase of its extensive campaign to track down some older models of its gas cookers, which can cause fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. Over the next few months, Beko will be spreading the message within the boating community by partnering with major organisations including the Boat Safety Scheme. Beko launched its gas cooker corrective action

in 2009 and has already undertaken an extensive range of measures to trace affected models. This activity is the next phase in that programme. Andrew Mullen, Beko’s quality manager UK and Ireland, said: “We are urging everyone to support our activities to trace these potentially dangerous cookers which were manufactured before 2009. “Consumer safety is our priority and we want to raise as much awareness as we can about our corrective action. Awareness-raising through mainstream media can only achieve so much and

we hope this targeted campaign will help us to track down and modify any affected cookers in caravans, boats and barges.” The affected cookers were from across the Beko, Flavel and Leisure brands made between 2003 and 2009 and have a separate oven and grill. Models running on mains or bottled gas could be affected. No current gas cooker models sold by Beko are involved. The danger occurs if the cooker grill is used, contrary to operating instructions, with the door

shut. If this happens, carbon monoxide can build up and pose a serious risk to users. This can be modified quickly by a Beko trained engineer, a service Beko offers on site for free. ● A list of the affected models is at Notice with instructions on how to check if your appliance is affected and what to do if you find one.


Crossing the Ribble – a waterways adventure

Those boaters who can’t quite bring themselves to make the Ribble Crossing onto the Lancaster Canal probably worry most about going out into a tidal estuary, with its depth, strange currents and potential for waves. In part two, Peter Underwood and nb Blackberry Way make it to the Lancaster Canal ‘unscathed’. ENGINE rechecked for the umpteenth time, pramhood dropped, suntan lotion applied, life-jacket on; we slipped away from the visitor moorings at Tarleton ready for the lock that would take us out onto the River Douglas and across the wide Ribble estuary. It was a dream day, with little wind and the sun making regular appearances, and the calm words of Harry Mayor – who is said to have crawled to the lock, aged two and never have left it – were going round in my head from the previous day when he had briefed the boaters on what to expect with pictures in a big ring file.

Crossing expert Harry Mayor with his briefing notes.


Peter Underwood at the helm of Blackberry Way.

This was one of the highest spring tides and when we emerged, second of five boats, despatched in pairs, we would have a considerable tidal flow to fight as the River Douglas narrows and bends across the lock mouth. It would test our second-hand Isuzu, my recent servicing, and all the hoses and pipes I had been looking over that morning, as we would be running it hard.

Force of nature

Watching Mother Night and her crew leave ahead of us I could see how the flow wanted to push the bow across to the right bank and piled on the power to follow their line and keep left as we plunged into the flow, the bow wave began to build and the engine note held steady. Eventually, you can study the bank and realise just how slowly you are moving against this force of nature. The engine can take a bit more, surely? You ease the throttle forward and progress is a little faster, but it is only really beyond the pipe-bridge, half a mile or so further on, that you settle down and start to enjoy the scenery. The Douglas bends, always widening, and I recalled my home river, the Alde in Suffolk and how you could make better progress away from the centre, where the tide moves fastest. We were beginning to see the junction with the Ribble when a large commercial ship, towed by a big tug moved across our vision, heading towards Preston. Boats gathered waiting for the water level to drop at the start of Savick Brook.

Estuary proper

Out and round the Asland Lamp (Astland on some signs) we were on the estuary proper, running easier on an almost slack tide and the left turn into Savick Brook arrived surprisingly quickly. It’s clearly visible and easily made, despite some dark warnings in the skippers’ notes.

Boats leaving Tarleton Lock heading onto the Douglas.

Blackberry Way rounds the Asland Lamp onto the estuary.


The river widens after the pipe-bridge.

The mouth of Savick Brook, easier to spot than expected.

Over the sea gate and all five narrowboats were gathered on a small floating pontoon to wait for the tide to fall and the gate to be raised so we could begin to make our way up Savick Brook. And brook it really is, banked by high reeds and trees, a narrow, twisting channel, punctuated by five single locks, many of which were operated for us by the friendly CRT crew. Progress is slow before you reach the basin below an impressive, three-lock staircase, turn and reverse into the first chamber. As you rise, the tall gates give an initial glimpse of an interesting sculpture welcoming us new arrivals to the Lancaster Canal. It could hardly have gone better. It remains to be seen whether the estuary will be as kind to us when we return in September. ● If you would like to see some hand-held film of the crossing itself and later in the year, the Lancaster Canal, then check out Towpath Talk’s website: for videos and updates.

Making the turn into Savick Brook. PHOTO:TIM RADCLIFFE


Trust proposes changes to visitor mooring provision in London By Polly Player

THE Canal & River Trust has published a draft mooring proposal document with the intention of creating better provision of visitor moorings within central London. Devised as a result of feedback received from the Better Relationships on London’s Waterways Group (BRG) and the Paddington Basin and Little Venice Visitor Moorings Consultation, the plan will be amended and implemented from late summer 2014 onwards, following an upcoming public consultation. Several popular mooring sites within central London, such as Broadway Market and Victoria Park, both of which are currently standard 14-day stay time moorings, may ultimately become sevenday moorings if the plan’s implementation goes ahead in its current format. Before the plan’s implementation, CRT has pledged to run a public consultation and feedbackgathering process regarding the proposals, where the large London boating community will be invited to have their say. Having already received feedback from London boaters that the remit of the original proposals would have a severe and negative impact on their lifestyle and ability to find mooring locations in London, CRT intends to spend longer engaging with boaters and gathering opinions on the proposals before they are re-submitted in an amended format. An online survey will be publicised to all boaters, and pop-up meetings along London’s canals will be used to disseminate information to those who will potentially be affected by the changes, in order to collate information and views about the suitability of the proposed changes. CRT’s Sorwar Ahmed, boater liaison manager for London told Towpath Talk: “The shorter stay times and more focused enforcement will provide people who need short-stays more opportunity to find a mooring. “We’re also introducing a new waterpoint in the Paddington Basin approach and allowing double mooring against the St Mary’s Hospital pontoon, so these will help meet the needs of boaters. “We have a programme of development to

identify and deliver new long-term moorings, and this will deliver 20 berths in the short term at new moorings managed by the trust. There is potentially double this number in the longer term, but it just shows the difficulty in finding and delivering suitable sites in London. “We’re identifying areas where we would welcome proposals from third parties who may want to develop sites for ‘affordable moorings’, and developing guidance to help them through the process. So there’s lots going on, but we’ve probably been guilty of not sharing this information enough.” Boaters who wish to find out more about the proposed changes to visitor mooring times in London, or who have any concerns about the potential implementation of changes in London can keep up-to-date with the upcoming survey and opinion-gathering process by following @CRTLondon on Twitter, or checking the CRT website.

Key elements of the plan New visitor mooring sites to be added at Broadway Market (Hackney) and Rembrandt Gardens (Little Venice). Implementing an advance booking facility for two boat lengths of space at Little Venice. Installing new signage at eight central London locations confirming extended stay time charges. Recognising that a growing number of visiting boats to central London mean that mooring stay times of 14 days are not adequately serving the needs of visiting boaters. Changing some of the current 14-day moorings in central London to seven-day moorings. Recruiting volunteer caretakers from within the boating community to serve as welcome boats for visiting boaters, and to help CRT to manage relationships with local landbased residents.

Trip boat hits Tower Bridge, nine injured

By Polly Player

CITY Cruises vessel Millennium Diamond struck one of the supporting columns of Tower Bridge on Wednesday, June 4, causing minor damage to the vessel and injuries to nine passengers. One of many licensed trip vessels on the River Thames, Millennium Diamond was carrying 130 people at the time. After the incident, the boat

continued to St Katharine Docks where it was met by paramedics. A total of nine people with various injuries were treated at the scene and five passengers were taken to local hospitals, including a 64-year-old woman with head and pelvic injuries. She is thought to have fallen down a set of stairs when the boat made contact with the bridge. Tower Bridge itself remained open to traffic throughout the incident, and was not damaged

Millennium Diamond on the Thames. PHOTO: STEVE FRANCIS

in the collision. The River Authorities and the Metropolitan Police’s Marine Policing Unit also attended the scene, but no arrests were made. Millennium Diamond has since been inspected by City Cruises’ engineers, and returned to the firm’s London base. A relatively new addition to the London waterways, the boat joined City Cruises’ fleet during September 2012 after sailing from Croatia, where it was built.

Major step forward for Boston flood Barrier BOSTON’S flood prevention barrier scheme has surmounted its first hurdle with Government approval for the project to proceed as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Borough council officers attended a meeting with the Environment Agency and

other involved parties in London for the first Treasury ‘gateway review’ in respect of the multi-million pound project. A smaller version of the Thames tidal barrier, it will be built in the tidal Haven in Boston and is currently expected to be finished by

2019. As well as managing the risk from tidal flooding it will also provide opportunities for regenerating the town’s waterways. This will achieve a major phase of the Fens Waterways Link, with more opportunities for recreation and tourism.

Boaters’ welfare officer to be appointed on 12-month contract THE Canal & River Trust has agreed to appoint a boaters welfare liaison officer on an initial 12month contract following calls by the National Association of Boat Owners in the wake of recent high-profile evictions. Since a meeting with CRT in March, when it became clear that the Waterways Chaplaincy did not have the resources to be a viable solution, NABO has been pressing for the appointment as reported in Towpath Talk (page 2, Issue 101). A NABO spokesman said: “We are not saying that the individual cases should not have been brought; more that whether making a boater homeless in the cold weather just before Christmas was an ‘own goal’ for a charity that was seeking to encourage non-boaters to become ‘friends’. “We totally accept that CRT is not a housing association but the fact remains that when a boater has a problem on its waterways the trust in turn has a problem.” Factors influencing the decision are the national housing shortage and demographic trends of boats. Canals are increasingly seen as a cheap housing option by people who are unfamiliar with the practicalities of living afloat, for example in East London there has been an 85% increase in the numbers of people moving on to a boat to live on it in the last year. CRT surveys indicate that around 7000 boats are being used as a main residence and nearly 40% of residential boaters have annual household incomes of less than £15,000, a

household with an income of £13,920 or less can be defined as being in poverty. Although CRT has no means of knowing how many boaters are suffering distress and need support, it estimates that enforcement officers encounter 40-50 boaters a year who they think might have physical, psychological or financial problems. The trust is developing a strategy to provide a reactive service for boaters in distress or with needs that fall within equalities legislation by training staff in the basics of dealing with people with special needs. They will also maintain contact information for relevant local agencies and liaison with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure clarity in rules relating to boaters such guidance to local authorities on housing benefit for boaters with no fixed address. So, it has decided to recruit a welfare liaison officer, to take responsibility for completing and implementing this strategy. The boating community is known for its friendliness and care for fellow boaters and many boaters in distress already receive unrecorded care and support in this way. CRT is inviting boating organisations to consider what they might do to encourage this, working with the welfare liaison officer. NABO looks forward to supporting this initiative and thanked CRT for listening and taking this action which it believes will pay dividends both in regard to better boater support and better PR for the charity.


Technical tips to keep Lighting up your boat ticking along the Liffey AT Towpath Talk we’re always keen to help our readers in whatever way we can, so in response to requests for more technical information and maintenance tips, we’ve teamed up with breakdown and assistance firm River Canal Rescue. Every month we’ll publish advisory pieces which we hope will help reduce the likelihood of a malfunction and keep your boats ticking along nicely. And if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see published, let us know and we’ll ensure it’s covered.

Morse control cables

During the summer months, one of the most common part failures to plague boaters are the Morse control cables. There is rarely much warning before this part fails, and when it does it can take you completely by surprise, often resulting in collisions with locks, banks or other vessels. However, there are a few actions you can take to help prevent a failure. Inspect and make sure the cables are not touching hot surfaces, and are routed in such a fashion that there are no tight bends or kinks. It is also advisable to oil or grease the cable connections, especially if the controller is open to the weather or is left for a period of time. If you feel the throttle controller becomes stiff or is sticking,

Three cables: the top one has snapped off at the tip, the middle one has a kink, which will result in a stiff or catching Morse controller, and the bottom one has a new cable to show what the end should look like. PHOTO: RIVER CANAL RESCUE it may be a sign that a cable failure is imminent. Always carry a spare cable! The gear and throttle cables are interchangeable and you can save yourself time and expense holding one on board. Finally, change your cables every five years as they don’t last forever. Taking these precautions will dramatically reduce the chance of a breakdown due to this part failing, not to mention the embarrassment of colliding with another vessel.

Special training at River Canal Rescue FIFTEEN staff from breakdown and assistance firm River Canal Rescue were recently put through their paces during two days of rescue training at Red Hill Marina in Nottingham. Front-line engineering and officebased staff first went through the theory of a rescue, learning how to assess risks, formulate plans for safe rescue attempts and how to use rescue equipment safely and efficiently. Simulated rescues followed, involving the sinking and refloating of a 25ft cruiser, sunk to varying levels of raising difficulty (12 times during the two daily sessions). Operational manager, Jay Forman, explained: “If health and safety allows, we like to train in a river as this is where the majority of our rescues are undertaken. The river flow and

Pumping out the sunken cruiser.


THE Inland Waterways Association of Ireland’s (IWAI) annual Dublin Rally lit up the River Liffey this year in a parade of illuminated boats. Travelling from the Grand Canal Docks to the Civic Offices on Wood Quay, in celebration of boating in Ireland, the light-hearted, jovial fleet, also carried with them a serious message of protest against the recently proposed changes to canal bye-laws by Waterways Ireland. Craft of all shapes and sizes, including a fleet from the Heritage Boat Association, travelled from all over the network including the Barrow, the Shannon Navigation, the Grand and the Royal Canals. These were also joined by vessels entering the city from the coastal waters to form a strong, united demonstration.

Rallygoer with protest banner on the Grand Canal. PHOTOS: MICHAEL SLEVIN

The IWAI Dublin Rally Liffey Run. The rally was a special event this year – not only is the IWAI celebrating its 60th anniversary, but Dublin branch its 50th, while the Dublin Rally itself marks its 30th. The Royal Canal Amenity Group will also be 40, the Shannon-Erne branch 20 and the Boyne branch 10! The Grand Canal Docks was host to almost 100 boats during the rally, which culminated in the ‘Liffey Run’, and was followed immediately by the Docklands Summer Festival. As summer events continue there is no doubt that more bye-law protests will take place, and with Offaly County Council now officially rejecting the amendments, stating that “Waterways

Shannon hire fleet companies to join forces TWO OF the leading Shannon hire fleet companies – Carrickcraft and Waveline Cruisers – are to merge for the 2015 boating season. The combined fleet of 125 boats will be based at Carrickcraft’s bases in

Carrick-on-Shannon and Banagher on the Shannon Navigation and at Bellanaleck on Lough Erne, while administration and accounting services will be centralised at Carrickcraft’s Markethill office.

Another successful refloat. inherent, oddly sloping banks enable us to re-create difficult situations we’ve encountered in the past, without taking any risks.” During the simulated rescue, a chief, second in command, and rescue workers are appointed, as they would be in a real rescue. Seniority is determined by the number of rescues staff have undertaken in the past. Jay said: “The chief must have logged at least 100 rescues and the second in command, a minimum of 80. Any trained member of staff can attend as a rescue worker, however, they are usually put on light duties until they’ve taken part in at least 10.” Office staff are included in the training as they can support rescue teams who may be called to attend multiple incidents. Rescue training is held once or twice a year, dependent upon the number of call-outs, focusing on tackling grounded, stranded and sunken vessels. Group numbers are no more than eight per day, enabling those with differing levels of experience to receive personalised support. While the focus was on sunken vessels for these sessions, grounded and stranded vessel training will take place in October. Jay added: “We routinely ensure all staff are trained in equipment use and how to reach and assess stranded vessels, so there are never any knowledge gaps. Engineering staff are not complacent and are always keen to refresh their skills and similarly, office staff can empathise with callers requesting assistance and provide help on the ground when needed.” ● To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or visit its Facebook page.

Canal Bye-laws will damage Offaly Tourism”, the subject has developed into a much-publicised political issue. Carmel Meegan, president of the IWAI, recently welcomed the unanimous support from Offaly’s elected representatives in the council, and added that it provides further proof that “the proposed byelaws do not put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations.” Meanwhile, IWAI has stated that the consultation response from Waterways Ireland does not address their concerns. Full details can be found at

Carrickcraft MD John Morton, centre with Sven and Anita Neubert, owners of Waveline Cruisers. PHOTO: CARRICKCRAFT

Sven and Anita Neubert, owners of Waveline Cruisers, are to be based full-time in Germany, where their skills and expertise will be used to operate a German-speaking booking office for the newly combined company, with the aim of increasing bookings from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. About two-thirds of Carrickcraft’s 5400 hirers in 2013 came from German-speaking countries as did most of Waveline’s 1298. John Morton, managing director of Carrickcraft, said: “Having worked well with Sven and Anita on many joint projects in the past, this is a great opportunity to increase our business in Europe. “We have developed some excellent web-based marketing strategies for the English-speaking market and will now try to do the same for the German-speaking market. The consolidation of the companies will also help to reduce some costs, while maintaining and improving the customer experience.” As both companies have a strong and loyal customer base, Carrickcraft and Waveline Cruisers will remain separate brands in the short term, but will trade under the name of Cruise Ireland.

Man dies following capsize of fishing boat THE body of a 20-year-old man was recovered from Lough Erne after a small fishing boat capsized close to Portora Boat Club, Enniskillen, during the evening of Friday, May 16. The Sligo Coastguard, along with two RNLI lifeboats, assisted in the water-based search and rescue, which also involved passing hire boats, a police boat and helicopter, the North West Mountain Rescue Team and local fire officers, who searched on land. Five of the six-man group made it to shore, where they were treated by paramedics. After four hours the search for the sixth man, whom it is understood The Enniskillen RNLI fleet in action. PHOTO: RNLI/ENNISKILLEN was not wearing a life jacket when the aluminium boat sunk, was called With the incident occurring so close two fishermen, 27-year-old David off in fading light and resumed the to Enniskillen, shock has swept Warnock and 30-year-old Daryl Burke following morning. The body of through the local community and also losing their lives. Fermanagh man Lee Rogers was comes just a few weeks after a similar Police have appealed for anyone finally found and recovered late on incident on Lough Ree, in the who saw the boat with the six men on Saturday morning. Republic of Ireland, which resulted in board to come forward.

ON IRISH WATERS with Alison Alderton 113

Powerful and still rallying at 60 Alison Alderton looks at the success of the IWAI in its anniversary year.

Rafting up at Port Runny. PHOTOS:ALISON ALDERTON (UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED) AS THE Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) celebrates its 60th birthday this year there is no doubt that the 2014 Shannon Boat Rally (SBR) will be one to remember. My first SBR, described as the most prestigious of all Irish boating events, was in 2010, a special year as the event was celebrating 50 years of rallying, and large numbers of boats were expected. Organisers were not disappointed. Applications flooded in, not just from Ireland, but all over the world, making it one of the most successful on record, and leaving me with friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you are hiring a boat to attend, already have your own, or just crewing for friends at the SBR, all boaters are considered one breed; all that is needed is a love of the waterways to be warmly welcomed. The style of craft bears no relevance either; a diverse mixture is always present, often ranging from sailing boats and cruisers to former working barges.

The SBR has no showground, trade stands or businesses touting for attention, and no one-set location. Instead, boaters move from place to place throughout the 10-day event, cruising in convoy with bunting flying. In doing this, IWAI boaters are promoting themselves and the waterways, often drawing in large crowds to watch the boats arrive and depart from each port of call. It takes some extreme organising, and to make it work everyone must pull together and be part of a team. Boaters require patience and understanding as they will find their skills put to the test, especially during mooring. With no purpose-built landing stages for the event, public harbours are used, with craft rafting up to each other and whatever moorings are available. Members with barges will often use these to create secure floating extensions to the already present stone piers in harbours, enabling lighter craft to securely raft up to them. It is raw rallying at its best and a sight worth seeing.

Members of the Powerboat Branch exploring the back waters.


Safety on the water plays a prominent role. It is a time to learn new skills, refresh old ones and perhaps pick up a trophy in the process. Children are well-catered for and actively involved in these events. It is refreshing to see them hurriedly putting on lifejackets to join friends afloat. Safety items are worn with pride – as if an honorary badge to an elite organisation – and nowhere else have I seen youngsters so competent with watercraft. Ireland should be proud of this achievement as it is no mean feat!

Embracing the new

After 60 successful years, the IWAI continues to attract new members, but what is their secret? Perhaps, it is due to their foresight and ability to embrace the new, an example of which occurred in 2011. Paul Garland, past president of the IWAI, had seen changes in the way people were using their boats and in the type of craft finding their way onto the waterways. Sports boats, jet skis and rigid inflatable boats (ribs) were gaining in popularity, as were holiday homes, their owners often having trailable craft. With Ireland’s system of easy launching facilities, abundance of jetties and vast expanses of water, this was proving very

The Powerboat Branch visits Corrib.

On-the-water rally activities. attractive. When powerboat enthusiast Cormac Smith began looking for assistance to bring the UK Classic Motorboat Association to the Shannon, he approached Paul for help. The combination of Cormac’s enthusiasm, coupled with Paul Garland’s and the association’s willingness to become involved, it quickly led to the formation of the IWAI Powerboat Branch. Today, this branch is well and truly on the map, continuing to grow with its own website and Facebook page. It is well-organised and prides itself in encouraging responsible use of powerboats, while still having fun on the water. By promoting dual membership, many WAI members with fast-powered ‘ribs’ as tenders are benefiting from branch events, which often involve visits to lessfrequented waters such as the Corrib, the Boyne and, occasionally, the coast. By making the most of the winter months this also allows members to still enjoy the IWAI’s main summer programme.


IWAI’s ability to move with the times and embrace new ideas has to be congratulated, but its real success lies in the fact it has stayed true to its roots. Combining family fun and safety on the water has allowed the association to grow and develop strong bonds between its members and this, when it is called upon to fight the causes facing the Irish waterways today, is a powerhouse, and long may it continue to be so. Happy 60th birthday IWAI!


Many thanks to Paul Garland, past president of the IWAI and Powerboat Branch PRO, for his help, input and kind permission to use branch images with this article.

➔ Usefulinformation

The SBR is a joint venture organised between the Athlone and Carrick-on-Shannon IWAI branches. This year’s event will be held from July 26-August 3, starting on the Shannon, at the Lough Ree Yacht Club, near Athlone, and culminating at Ballinasloe, head of navigation on the Suck. Ports of call will include: Lakeside Marina on Lough Ree’s Inner Lakes, Hodson Bay and Shannonbridge. More details can be found on the websites listed below: Inland Waterways Association of Ireland

Youngsters enjoying the Shannon Boat Rally.

‘Dressed’ for the rally.

Cruising in convoy with the bunting flying.

IWAI Powerboat Branch


Anderton Boat Lift The ‘Cathedral of the Canals’


A masterpiece of engineering.

The top entrance to the lift from the Trent & Mersey Canal.

THIS iron beauty, a staggering monument of maths and art, is one of the wonders of the canals. The amazing Anderton Boat Lift is the world’s oldest boat lift – and is miraculously still open for business today, attracting over 110,000 visitors every year by boat and on foot for the ride of their lives. It’s affectionately known as the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ and the visitor needs no explanation. The boat lift was built in 1875 by Edward Leader Williams and Edwin Clark, with the purpose of lifting boats over the cliff edge between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the River Weaver 50ft below. Businessmen at the start of the 18th century were crying out for a speedier trade route as Cheshire’s salt industry was set to boom in world markets. Prior to the lift, salt was hurled clumsily down wooden chutes to land on boats, known as Weaver Flats, lying in the water below and then relayed downstream.

A roll of honour to all who helped with the lift’s restoration.

A masterpiece of engineering was set to defy the drop and duly, with dynamic Victorian eccentricity, an Eiffel-esque structure of knitted ironwork was erected to tower over the River Weaver. Two humungous 252-ton caissons (tanks) with sealing doors perch on hydraulic rams, linked ingeniously to make the descending tank force the ram under the other tank to lift it in equal measure to the descending tank. In doing so, the steam-powered boat lift is operated on maximum economy. With a steam engine and pump, the hydraulics could lift a 72ft 60-ton narrowboat from canal to river in less than 10 minutes. The salt industry had given the world an ironwork treasure, yet ironically it was the salt industry that led to its closure, as the salt in the River Weaver polluted the hydraulics of the lift and corrosion had its way. In 1908 the structure was converted to an electric motor system that drove the two tanks. A new frame was added around the old, with the addition of a machinery deck. Each tank was counterbalanced by over 250 tons of cast-iron counterweights attached by wire ropes. Then 72 geared pulley wheels kept the lift moving. The demon rust returned again, and in 1983 Anderton Boat Lift gave up its fight, thwarted by lack of funding. The Cathedral of the Canals mandatorily mustered support from outraged canal enthusiasts determined to keep this treasure alive. The Waterways Trust (now merged with British Waterways into the Canal & River Trust), the Heritage Lottery Fund and umpteen waterways people clubbed fresh funding for the restoration of the structure which was completed in 2002. They replaced the hydraulics to replicate the original ram system and the 1908 structure was retained as a static open air museum piece. The project whistled through the equivalent

Steelwork contrasting with the brickwork. of one mile of welding and dismantled over 3000 bits of ironwork puzzle to be cleaned and reassembled. A tangled Meccano-type game of manly proportions. Anderton Boat Lift is one of only two working boat lifts in Britain today (Falkirk in Scotland has the other). Thanks to this riot of Victorian ingenuity, visitors can turn up reliably during the travelling season on the waterways for a mad, dripping ride in a boat lift. For boaters and walkers, the rise and fall bridges their journey between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the River Weaver in spectacular style. And sightseers can turn up just for the ride. Whatever way the visitor arrives, everyone leaves the lift as if it was an ordinary day again – except their bulging faces rarely manage to conceal the stories bursting to be told.


The Towpath Angler Our monthly look at the angling scene

The Trent & Mersey Canal near the entrance to Anderton Marina.

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.

IN MY last article I sort of made the case for a much stronger, even bigger angling and fisheries team within the Canal & River Trust. My reasons for doing this were based on comments from a number of angling club officials, some of whom are existing CRT customers while others are ‘lapsed’ customers. Since the last edition of Towpath Talk I have had contact from other clubs saying much the same. It is, therefore, clear to me that we may have uncovered a key factor in the demise of angling interest in our waterways and, crucially for the trust, a stationary if not declining revenue stream. I also mentioned the success of the Angling Development Strategy with its projects for greater participation and funding. Long may this continue. However, I said I had doubts about its ability to help the majority of the existing and/or lapsed customers and given their comments to me particularly of late it would seem I have reason to be doubtful. It is probably true to say that the concerns these customers have relate more to technical/ operational/ access issues which the strategy does not really cover. That said, no apologies for saying again that the CRT Angling and Fisheries team are ‘top drawer’. There are just too few of them. The Angling Advisory Group can and must do all it can to help the CRT managers to improve this situation. Elsewhere there is quite a lot happening. At Angling Trust there has been a great deal of activity expanding its partnership working with the Environment Agency. One brilliant development here is the creation of several new posts entitled fishery management advisers. These professionals will be available to assist member clubs and fisheries on a whole plethora of topics in the fishery management field including best ways of controlling predation and applying for licences etc. This is a major step forward.

Early signs

The National Championship season is almost upon us. This year sees the Division 2 event going to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in the Wigan area on September 13. There could be 300-plus anglers taking part. The following day sees the inaugural AT/CRT Canal Pairs Championship on the Shropshire Union near Market Drayton. One

Indoor displays at the visitor centre.

FACT FILE Anderton Boat Lift Opening times vary. Admission free to visitor centre, exhibition area, cafe and gift shop (car park charge). Charge for boat trips. Picnic and children’s play area. Wheelchair access. Discount for Friends of the Canal & River Trust. 01606 786777 The Boat Lift (and its surroundings) is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and has been awarded a Transport Trust Red Wheel Plaque.

David Kent

hundred pairs are the target and early signs are good. If this event proves a success it will be extended in 2015 to a qualifier in each waterway and then a grand final. That would be some event! A couple of weeks ago the Environment Agency released almost 100,000 fry along the sections of my local Erewash Canal affected by the 2012 pollution. Hopefully the survival rate will be reasonable, given the potential for fairly extensive predation by birds in which case we should start to see ‘catchable’ fish in around three years or so. Match catch data is generally accepted as the most reliable, so the Erewash clubs have agreed to run a few impromptu matches during the lighter nights of summer and a larger event using all sections on the same day later in the year. This will allow the EA and CRT teams to see how things are progressing As we move through the year sport is slowly improving, although fish in some waters have spawned, whereas in others the cold rain came just a bit too soon. Until nature’s cycle is properly over we will not see fishing at its best. I continue to hear decent results from the Grand Union. The Trent & Mersey has produced some respectable weights just as the boating season gains momentum. It should only get better as the canal gets into summer mode. Having been on holiday for the first couple of weeks in May, and being tied up with meetings and large competition commitments since getting home, my own time on the bank has been rather restricted. Even so I have picked up one or two brown envelopes of late so perhaps the layoff did me good. The longer evenings offer good opportunities to find a few fish so, if you are planning a dabble, the very best of luck.

Second qualifier is a match of contrasts Location Anderton, Northwich OS Grid ref: SJ647753 Canal: Trent & Mersey Canal/ River Weaver How to get there By train Nearest train station is Northwich National Rail Enquiries T: 08457 484950 By bus Traveline 0871 200 2233 By car Large car park (charge) On foot The Cheshire Ring Canal Walk is a long-distance trail which follows the towpaths of six canals including the Trent & Mersey towpath through the area near the Anderton Boat Lift. By boat Nearest boat hire ABC Boat Hire, Anderton Marina. Holiday and day boat hire. 0330 333 0590 Andersen Boats, Middlewich. Holiday and day boat hire. 01606 833668 Black Prince Narrowboat Holidays, Acton Bridge. Holiday boat hire. 01527 575115

Boating Days, nr Acton Bridge. Day boat hire. 01606 852945 Middlewich Narrowboats, Middlewich. Holiday and day boat hire. 01606 832460 Boat Trip The Anderton Boat Lift is impressive enough from the ground but you can enjoy a 30-minute boat trip and get a boat’s eye view from inside the lift. Edwin Clarke is a glass-topped trip boat taking you 50 feet up from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal above. The boat masters are waterways oracles, willingly answering any questions about the Lift. Moorings There are plenty of visitor moorings available along the Trent & Mersey Canal, and below on the River Weaver Local Tourist info Northwich Tourist Information Centre Canal & River Trust Use the Canal & River Trust website to find specific local information.

THE second-round qualifier match of the Angling Trust and Canal & River Trust Stillwater Championship on Sunday, May 11 at Boddington Reservoir was a match of contrasts, fished in difficult conditions. A strong, cold wind blew across the reservoir and the day was interspersed with blustery showers. There were carp feeding on the surface, but too far out to reach with a waggler in the windy conditions. One of the qualifiers, Ian Coxon, had six fish in the first two hours then went the rest of the match without a bite. In contrast another qualifier, Phil Ringer had one early carp then had to wait until the last 40 minutes of the match for his final five fish.

One short section produced the four highest weights of the match, with carp averaging 5 kilos caught on feeder, straight lead, pellet waggler and pole. A comfortable winner on the day was Glenn Maxwell who caught 17 carp for a weight of 73.8kg using pellet bait on the straight lead over his pellet waggler line. Runner-up Charles Simpson had 10 carp for 46.48kg using method feeder and pellet waggler. The four qualifiers going forward to the final in September are Phil Ringer, Ian Coxon, Neil Carless and Glen Maxwell. The next qualifier was due to take place on Saturday, June 7 at Earlswood Lakes near Solihull.

Tide is turning on the River Aire POLLUTION from industry kept fish away from one West Yorkshire river, writes Geoff Wood. But now the tide is turning on the River Aire near Leeds for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Brown trout are back and are taking advantage of a natural looking zigzag channel at the Rodley Nature Reserve. And there are high hopes that salmon will return and use the channel

which has been built next to a weir. The reserve is a treat for waterway lovers. Running parallel to the site is the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Dr John Bolland of the University of Hull International Fisheries Institute said: “We have to be careful. Some fish make incredible journeys as part of their life cycle. But man-made obstacles can prevent them from completing their migrations.”


The Wet Web

Helen Gazeley finds some great ways to keep the kids occupied during summer outings WITH summer in full swing, having nature on the doorstep can make us itch for a walk, but if you’ve got children, it’s not always easy to persuade them that they want to go. Search Live for the Outdoors for ‘how do you keep children entertained’ and you’ll find suggestions suitable for a sevenyear-old, including making them snack monitor and cooking lunch out.

The Ramblers www.ramblers meanwhile, has developed a Family Walking Pack based on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, which can be picked up in the area. Hands On As We Grow has Ten Ways to Get more From Walks with Children, including a scavenger hunt, creating an obstacle course, and nature rubbings. Of course, nature rubbings are

Leafsnap from the Natural History Museum will identify a tree from your photo.

more interesting when you know what it is you’re leaning against. A new launch from the Natural History Museum is Leafsnap UK, a tree identification app for iPad and iPhone that works in a similar way to facial recognition software. Take a photo and the app will suggest likely tree species. Over 2000 images are available of flowers, fruit, bark and leaves, and fact files give extra information on where a tree grows, when it blooms and other clues to help identification. It will also feed the image and location into the Leafsnap database, for future use by scientists researching the UK’s tree population. Once you’ve identified your tree, there are questions. “I wonder how old it is?” seems to be one programmed into most of us about any oak tree with a gnarled trunk. The excellently informative Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association offers a pdf that will help gauge a tree’s age, depending on its girth size and species ng-the-age-of-trees.pdf If you’d like to visit an old tree, The Ancient Tree Hunt offers a map which lets you search for ancient trees in your area and gives details of their accessibility. This Ancient Tree Inventory started in 2004 and welcomes more additions to the 100,000 plus already recorded across the UK, as well as photos of those which don’t yet have an image attached. Because



3 1. Brenda Scowcroft offers waterway-themed and other cards for sale and is happy to make a card for you with a picture of your narrowboat.

2. Gold or silver? This card from Brenda Scowcroft would cover either anniversary.

3. A great card for the girl in your life.

identifying the age of a tree is a complicated science, depending on its location and species, there’s no hard and fast rule for identifying venerable specimens and all entries are verified, so there’s no need to worry about getting it wrong. Recording forms are available on the website, as well as helpful leaflets to aid recording and children’s activity sheets. It’s certainly an encouragement to pay attention in the country.

Someone who pays a lot of attention to his surroundings while out is photographer David Scowcroft. Many of his photographs feature on greetings cards made by his wife, Brenda, an experienced crafter who combines blogging about life around Gas Street Basin, Birmingham, with describing her designs which cover a whole range from birthdays and congratulations to new job and new boat. They’ve lived on board

their narrowboat Mr David .uk for 15 years and have built up quite a range of waterwaythemed cards. An individual waterway card costs £2 but Brenda has a special offer on buying six.

➔ Formoreinformation Do you have a favourite website? Email Helen at



Your chance to write to us on any Towpath topic:

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

Bottom gates should also have warnings

★ 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.

An ideal way to see more of the BCN HAVING been a frequent visitor to Birmingham by boat and visited several of the ‘easier’ parts of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN), we were keen to explore a little further. The opportunity presented itself this year and we have recently returned from the organised Explorer Cruise ‘A’ around the lesser used northern reaches, under the expert guidance of Stuart and Marie Sherratt of the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society (BCNS). Some 16 boats, a couple of which were running single handed, met at the appointed time and place for a briefing. We were encouraged to leave our moorings when we were ready in the morning, some were off at 6.30am others not until after 10am, and make our way to the evening mooring spot. BCNS lock-wheelers were able to help us through the various lock flights and by working together with other crews, progress was relatively easy and gentle. Sure, most of us visited the weed-hatch a few times, but usually not for too long! Over the course of a week, our moorings varied from the centre of Walsall, where the fleet filled the basin and Tipton Green, to the relative isolation of Pelsall Common and Moorcroft Junction. Those of us who wished made detours along the Tame Valley Canal, up the Anglesey Branch to Chasewater and to the end of the Cannock Extension Canal. There was ample opportunity

to stop and shop, cruising times being between three and six hours and at the end of each day, once Marie had ensured that all boats were present, the crews gathered together for a little bit of liquid socialising in, thanks to Stuart’s local knowledge, some quirky pubs with a good range of refreshments; and the weather enabled us to have a barbecue and raffle. The cruise finished at Titford Pump House. While we motored through plenty of current and former industrial sites most of the scenery was surprisingly rural; who would have expected to meet a fox on the offside at 11am in Goscote? Locals showed an interest in what we were doing and at no time did any of us feel concerned for our safety. One crew suffered an inverter failure. Another crew lent them a generator to top the batteries up and within 24 hours, a replacement inverter had been sourced, collected and fitted. Our thanks go to Stuart and Marie for their efforts in organising the cruise and looking after each of us so well for the duration, not to mention Charley and Jim, the BCNS lockwheelers who gave so freely of their time. This is an ideal way of seeing the less popular parts of the BCN and several of us left vowing to participate again. Colin & Tina Hobbs, Nb Go For It Sheila & Pat Campbell, Nb Fair Fa Davis & Heather Grey, Nb It’s 5 o’clock... somewhere Bob Fox, Nb Bimble

No obstruction to navigation at Huddlesford AS THE chairman of Lichfield Cruising Club I am responding to the letter from David M Smith (Talkback, Issue 104, June) the content of which has caused considerable offence to many of my members. Lichfield Cruising Club’s history on the site at Huddlesford can be traced back to 1959 when the first moorers at the site started digging out the silted up arm and converting the cottages into their headquarters. The club has developed over the years and now has some 70 boats on site and a membership of around 160. Some of our members recently celebrated 50 years on site and are still active club members. The majority of land around the junction on the non-towpath side is either owned by the club or rented on long term leases from the BW/CRT. On the arm we have a floating bridge for access to both sides of our moorings, and this also provides a ‘gateway’ and security for the boats within the arm on our privately rented waters. The waters at the mouth of the canal junction linking the Coventry Canal to our moorings, the former disused Wyrley & Essington is completely unrestricted, we do however rent all of the adjoining land and bankside surrounding the clubhouse. The available space within the mouth of the junction is more than sufficient to turn boats up to 70ft, even when, as often happens, boats

moor across the space on the towpath side. The junction is CRT water and in an average week we see numerous boats turning on a daily basis completely unhindered. I can assure David M Smith that there is not and at no time has there ever been a chain across the junction and quite where he or a CRT representative has had this idea from I cannot imagine. In addition there is no sign of the type described. Has the writer possibly got photographs of this imagined obstruction to navigation? The Club hosts the biannual Huddlesford Gathering on our site, and, in 2013 as in previous years the whole junction was full on both sides, and into our arm with trading boats. Waterside activities were taking place including the regular operation of a small trip boat from the corner of the junction. Even at these times it is possible to turn, provided those doing so take the necessary care. So David M Smith, there is no chain, there is no sign, and your ‘assumption’ that Lichfield Cruising Club is responsible for the described restriction to navigation is therefore flawed and offensive to the many members of our club who work actively to promote the network, support the work of CRT, and the restoration of the Lichfield Canals. Ray Hartshorne Chairman LCC By email

Think carefully before buying a boat as a home WHILE it’s great that more young people are discovering boating, I would urge caution to people buying boats ‘to get their foot on the property ladder’ as reported by Whilton Marina (Property ladder boating, Issue 104, June). Boats aren’t a cheap and easy ‘house replacement’. They tend to lose value over time, so buying with the expectation of future profits could be a costly mistake. People should think carefully before buying a boat to live on in London. The capital is extremely

busy and simple tasks, like filling up with water and emptying toilets, can add hours to the day. Without a home mooring, boaters can’t simply stay on the Regent’s Canal; they must move every 14 days on a journey taking them anywhere from Hertford to Uxbridge or beyond. We urge everyone considering this option to read the information on Sally Ash Head of Boating Canal & River Trust

I HAVE just been reading the piece about boats landing on cills in locks (Boat safety, Issue 104, June). A few years ago BW put notices on lock beams warning to ‘Keep Boats forward of the Cill’, but

they put these on the top gates. If people were looking back and saw these signs then they would also see the cill marking. If you watch boats going down in locks, nine times out of 10 the steerer is looking straight ahead

at his crew drawing the bottom paddles. I know I am not alone in thinking this is where the notices should be, in the steerer’s line of vision most of the time. Brian Holt By email

No sign at the bottom gate. PHOTOS: BRIAN HOLT

The top gate is clearly signed.

Putting barriers in the way of floating voters

Misunderstanding the law

I WAS interested to read the article encouraging boaters to vote (News, Issue 104 June). We have just got residential status, but before that our local offices were happy to register us, but refused point blank to send our voting cards out to our c/o address. We were told we had to visit the offices, quite a distance from us, and not easy by public transport, to collect our voting cards etc. We were keen to vote and so I contacted the relevant ombudsman through the Myvote website, and he confirmed that they could send the paperwork to our designated address. On being told this the local officer told me the ombudsman was wrong, and still refused to send our papers! As I say we now don’t have the problem, but local council offices ought to be made aware of the facts and rights of ‘floating voters’ and not allowed to put this sort of barrier in their way. Nancy Harman By email

If you can’t afford the mooring, don’t buy a boat I READ the letters from Brian Walklet and Dr Millette (Talkback, Issue 103, May) in the expectation I might learn something about the continuous cruisers debate. I was sadly disappointed as both simply repeated entrenched positions. It is quite wrong to represent this dispute as a campaign against continuous cruisers; it is a campaign against continuous moorers – those who seek to buck the system to avoid paying for a permanent mooring. It is also misleading to describe the Canal & River Trust as a charity, which it makes it sound like Oxfam, distributing aid to the needy. It should be more aptly described as an organisation with charitable status. Another false argument is to portray liveaboards as victims of a heartless bureaucracy. My wife and I bought our first boat in 2012 after decades of hiring/sharing. We keep it in a marina. It is not a ‘gleaming boat’ after having cruised over 800 miles last year. We have friends who are continuous cruisers; they do just that, maybe laying up for a few months each winter at a mooring for which they pay. We have liveaboard friends who pay for a permanent mooring (not in a marina). If I couldn’t have afforded to pay for a mooring in addition to all the other expenses, I wouldn’t have bought a boat. British Waterways allowed this situation to develop and CRT has the unenviable task of trying to resolve it. The licence conditions about declaring a permanent mooring or being a continuous cruiser seem quite clear to most people, although obviously not watertight (sorry)! As to the ‘shock, horror’ of enforcement, if I park on a double yellow line for an extended time, I can’t complain if I get a penalty notice (or even get towed away). The position of continuous moorers is akin to joining a club, agreeing to abide by the rules, then complaining the rules are unreasonable. There is obviously a demand for more suitable residential moorings and CRT must pursue this and offer an alternative, but if people have got used to not paying, this will be an uphill battle. I wish them luck. Alan Smith By email

I AM responding to the letters about continuous cruising (Talkback, Issue 102, April), one from Tony Stevens and one from an unnamed reader. The anonymous reader misunderstands the law. The right to use and live on a boat without a home mooring is a legal entitlement enjoyed by Canal & River Trust boat licence holders by virtue of Section 17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. It is not a ‘traditional right’. Rights, whether ancient or modern, exist through law and not through tradition. These boaters pay the licence fee that is demanded by CRT (unlicensed boats are outside the scope of this Act). People who live on boats without home moorings are not liable for Council Tax (the Community Charge was abolished in 1992) because Council Tax is levied only on domestic property. According to the Valuation Office Agency Council Tax Manual, a boat without a mooring is a chattel: that is, a personal possession. It is not domestic property even if it is used as a dwelling. Payment of Council Tax is not required in order to use local authority services. Doctors and hospitals are funded through the NHS, which is supported through National Insurance, not Council Tax. Most local services including police and schools gain most of their funding from national taxation such as income tax and VAT, which we all pay. On average Council Tax funds 25% of local services; the rest is funded by government grant or by revenue such as rent and business rates. In any case, itinerant boat dwellers pay CRT for water, sewage disposal and rubbish collection through their boat licence fee and on the whole do not use local authority services as much as the settled population. It is sad that Anon has internalised the prevailing prejudice against Gypsies and Travellers to the extent that he or she would not want to be classed as one. The definition of ‘traveller’ in law includes ‘all other persons of a nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin’. The Government is not planning to use the waterways as cheap housing. However, in August 2011 the then Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced that the New Homes Bonus would be extended to the creation of new residential moorings; local authorities would get a grant in the region of £1000 for each mooring with planning permission for residential use that was created. This was the result of lobbying over many years by BW and the RBOA and its aim is to encourage local authorities to grant planning permission for residential use of moorings. Tony Stevens also misunderstands the law; Section 17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995 is not a byelaw. Nor is it a ‘rule’. For many years CRT and BW have tried to impose ‘rules’ on boat dwellers without home moorings that go beyond what is required by the 1995 British Waterways Act. The Act does not specify a minimum distance that boats must travel in order to be ‘used bona fide for navigation’, nor does it impose any particular travel pattern apart from the requirement not to remain ‘continuously in any one place for more than 14 days’ except where circumstances warrant a longer stay. The situation at present is that CRT is demanding that boaters sign up to ‘rules’ that are not supported by the law and thus cannot be enforced. Finally, there is nothing in law that prevents boat dwellers without a home mooring from being employed or sending their children to school, contrary to statements made by CRT. Pamela Smith Deputy chair, National Bargee Travellers Association


Are the local waterway partnerships worthwhile? THIS month (July) will see the appearance of an advertisement inviting applicants to apply for the chairmanships of four of the Local Waterway Partnerships whose terms of office are now expired. However, I hope the choice of future chairpersons will be more transparent than was the case in at least one partnership. I await new appointments with interest but would prevail on the Canal & River Trust to insist that a partnership leader must have a knowledge of the product he or she is heading up. This now leads me to question the usefulness – and, indeed, the existence – of the various waterway partnerships let alone the calibre of some of the members. I cannot (and neither can the editor) remember receiving any press release from a specific waterway partnership on any waterway subject whatever. However, the trust chairman, Tony Hales, says: “the partnerships have worked to establish stronger local partnerships that help sustain the network and promote a new sense of local involvement and ownership”. Sorry Mr Hales, I have yet to see any evidence that has happened.

In my opinion (and that of many others) there’s basically no difference in the way the waterways are run and managed today than in the days of British Waterways.

CRT needs better communication all round Looking at some of the questions and answers reported following meetings with boaters, I fear that chief executive Richard Parry has a problem – namely the suspect ability of some CRT staff to communicate effectively with boaters and other users. At a recent meeting one boater said he had experienced a ‘complete lack of communication’ from the Trust and asked whether it was ‘worse than the old lot’ – I presume by that he meant BW. Mr Parry’s response was: “My apologies if we haven’t responded. We need to try harder to address this.” He then offered to talk to the boater about his specific complaint. And when one boater commented: “The number of truly awful boats is increasing; some boaters let their chickens on the towpath. What can you do to clean up their act,” I found Mr Parry’s response less than positive. He said: “I understand your question but our role is not to do that. Our role is to make sure boats are safe and

licensed. Beyond that we cannot get involved further.” Then there was the boater who claimed he had emailed 35 people at the Trust with a complaint. “Noone responded to me, not even an opinion let alone a resolution. Council is not democratic. You need to communicate better.” In fairness Mr Parry was quite right in saying that the council was not the place to deal with day-to-day issues; that was his and the executive’s job to do. “But I accept they should have done better to respond.” However, while Mr Parry was right to spell out the roles of both the council and executive I would hope he read the riot act to the CRT department which should have responded. I still hear of numerous instances of buck-passing within the CRT (unless of course there are brownie points available). The CRT is now well ensconced in its Milton Keynes’ den but the bad old habits of BW seem to be thriving. Because of that alone I again repeat my chant that the CRT is really BW Mk4. Why not scrap CRT and bring back BW? Just a thought of course! Do you agree or disagree with Stillwater’s comments? Send your views to Talkback (see previous page)

Can you beat these?

This brood of 14 ducklings was spotted by Frank Sanderson of the Lancaster Canal Trust during the first boat trip of the season by Waterwitch which sails from Crooklands Stables every Sunday and bank holiday until October from 11am to 4pm. PHOTO: FRANK SANDERSON

And don’t forget you can also follow us on Twitter @towpathtalk and on Facebook

Canada geese with their ‘creche’ of goslings on the River Thames. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON

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You do come across fascinating characters on the canals; this one was spotted doing a bit of fishing just below Tyrley Bottom Lock.

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CONTINUING our light-hearted look at life on the cut with a contribution this month from Barry McArdleon board Rick O’Shea on the Shropshire Union Canal.

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:

SOME of the waterfowl have been very prolific this year, as these photos show.

Again on the Lancaster Canal, proud parents keep guard over their nine cygnets. PHOTO: FRANK SANDERSON

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Towpath Talk - July 2014 - FULL ISSUE  

Towpath Talk, Issue 105, July 2014 - The UK's Number One read for all waterway users. More info:

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