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The UK’s Number ONE read for all waterways users


Issue 109, November 2014

Autumn sunshine on the K&A

Christmas Gift Guide Starts P60



Passing one of the Kennet & Avon Canal’s most attractive swing bridge locations – by St Lawrence Church at Hungerford. PHOTO:WATERWAY IMAGES

London boaters petition CRT over speeding towpath cyclists By Polly Player


BOATERS in London have petitioned the Canal & River Trust to address the recurrent problem of speeding cyclists along the city’s towpath network. A series of incidents in recent months have left many boaters concerned for the safety of both themselves and their pets. As London’s roads become progressively busier, many cyclists have found the towpath network to be a



Roy opens ‘roving bridge’

TWO projects making it easier for people to access the World Heritage Site on the Llangollen Canal have been officially reopened by local resident Roy Duggan, who helped raise awareness of them. The 19th century Postles Bridge built by Thomas Telford in Trevor has been updated with a new ramp allowing people with mobility scooters or pushchairs and cyclists easier access. The ‘roving bridge’ was built to allow horses, towing laden canal boats, to cross the canal without the need to be unhitched. Towpath improvements included widening and resurfacing a 1500m stretch between Horseshoe Falls and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

438 BOATS FOR SALE Starts on

faster, safer alternative to cycling on the road. However, due to the high volume of traffic along the towpaths, combined with the high speeds at which many cyclists traverse the network, many London boaters now feel that the towpaths are no longer safe, and that a speed limit should be introduced in order to address this. CRT’s advice to cyclists is to share the towpath fairly, keep to a reasonable speed, use their bells to alert walkers of their presence, and to slow down where


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necessary in order to avoid causing accidents. While many cyclists abide by these guidelines, a number of the city’s bicycle commuters do not, which has led to a series of accidents and collisions involving cyclists and other towpath users. As a result of this, many London boaters feel that CRT should be doing more to enforce a safe cycling speed along London’s towpaths. On September 17, two cyclists were involved in a head-on collision on the towpath next to Broadway Market on

Pub on food shortlist

WATERSIDE pub The Ship Inn at Brandon Creek, where the Great Ouse and Little Ouse rivers meet, has reached the finals of the pub restaurant section of the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards 2014. The winners will be announced at a presentation party on the first day of the Food Matters Live event at Excel in London’s Docklands on Tuesday, November 18. Two food stalls at Camden Lock Market – Feed Me Primal and Louisiana Chilli Shack – have also been shortlisted in the cafes, coffee shops, tearoom and takeaways section.

the Regents Canal, leading to paramedics attending the scene and one of the injured parties being taken to hospital for treatment. In a separate incident, London boater Andy Thornycroft’s dog was lying beside his boat when he was hit by a cyclist passing at speed, while Ali Rawlings, who used to sell drinks and cakes from her boat, says that the issue of safety regarding towpath cyclists has effectively stopped her from trading. • Continued on page 2

Waterways archive goes live

THE Canal & River Trust has published more than 37,000 archive records and 22,000 historic images from its archives online at canalrivertrust.org.uk/archive for the first time. The £50,000 project is the first phase of a major project to open up public access to the national waterways collection. The Waterways Archive is housed at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port and is the largest archive of waterway-related materials in the country and holds a wide range of primary material relating to the history of Britain’s canals and inland waterways.




WE HAVE all heard, I’m sure, about people buying or renting boats to live on because it is their only affordable access to a home of their own – especially in the South East. But are the prospective boaters or those wishing to offset the costs of boat ownership fully aware of the legal ramifications? I asked Sorwar Ahmed, boater liaison manager of the Canal & River Trust in London – see my report on this page. While in the capital, I also visited the London Canal Museum for the preview of a fascinating new exhibition about the role of the waterways on the Western Front in the First World War. More on this next month but in the meantime see details on page 59. The ‘which toilet’ debate has taken a new twist with the emergence of the composting toilet to add to the choice of pump out or cassette. Polly Player looks at the pros and cons of this new loo on the block in her feature on page 55. As the festival season draws to a close, Harry Arnold reports from a very successful Maesbury event on page 4 and I spent an enjoyable weekend at Parkhead, see page 14. The Canal & River Trust has taken decisive action in the dispute over the Kirk Bramwith coffee boat, reported last month. I visited the boat on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal and have spoken to the parties involved, but my report has been overtaken by events, see page 3. I don’t know whether you have started your Christmas shopping yet – something else to add to the to-do list – but if you’re looking for some ideas of boat-related gifts, turn to the first of our gift guides on page 60. Happy hunting!




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Heading for London?

Do your homework or you could have to turn again By Janet Richardson

LIVING on a boat is being seen as a cheaper alternative to buying or renting a home on land, particularly in the honeypot areas of London and the Home Counties. Each month our wanted ads include requests from people seeking to lease a boat either short or long term with a view to living aboard, but are they – and those making their boats available for hire – aware of the implications? Sorwar Ahmed, boater liaison manager (London) for the Canal & River Trust told Towpath Talk that people are sometimes given the impression that they can acquire a boat and head to London but in reality they have very little prospect of finding somewhere to moor. And this is making it more difficult for boaters simply wishing to visit the capital. And there are other legal implications: “If you rent a boat and something happens, you need to be sure you are covered by insurance,” he explained. Landlords have a duty of care and responsibility for ensuring the correct cover is in place as well as a valid boat safety certificate and that CO and smoke alarms are fitted. It must also be properly licensed for letting.

The Canal & River Trust has been tackling congestion in the London area and now has an enforcement team at full strength. Sorwar explained that it is in the middle of a threeyear project to tackle the problem and reminders are sent via a text messaging service to boaters using 14day moorings when they are due to move on. “People get a boat without actually thinking about where to keep it. If you do your homework and are properly prepared you can get a lot out of boating – that is the challenge,” he added.

Legal requirements

Guidelines for renting a boat to live on, or hiring out your own boat, can be found on the CRT website at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/a-boat-of-yourown which recognises that having a boat as a home is a popular choice for some people and some boat owners are keen to find ways to help offset the costs of owning and maintaining a boat. However, it warns prospective landlords: “If you cannot demonstrate that you’ve met all the legal requirements, including having a non-private boat safety certificate, commercial insurance and proof that you’ve gone through the handover

procedure correctly, you may end up with a serious criminal conviction. “You cannot get a licence to rent out your boat for residential use unless you have a home mooring with planning consent for residential use. These moorings are in very short supply, so you should not apply for a Residential Letting licence until you have secured an appropriate mooring. “Renting out your boat without the correct licence is a breach of your terms and conditions and you risk having your licence revoked.” And prospective tenants are advised: “If you’re thinking of renting a boat to live on (or for any other purpose), make sure you do your research thoroughly before you start.” The boat’s licence should have RL clearly marked in the centre if the boat is licensed for Residential Letting and the letters SDHH if it is licensed for holiday hire. If you have any doubts, email the customer services team at customer.services@canalrivertrust.org.uk (03030 404040) with the boat’s name and index number, explain that you’re thinking of renting the boat and ask them to confirm that it has the right kind of licence.

Row rumbles on over disputed moorings ownership

By Elizabeth Rogers

UNCERTAINTY continues about the ownership of a length of bank alongside the Oxford Canal at the northern end of the city, leaving a dispute about moored boats unresolved. Naming themselves The Friends of Castle Mill Stream, boaters took up occupation of the moorings several weeks ago, claiming that the canalside land is unregistered. Initial approaches were made to the Canal & River Trust to have the boats

removed, but the trust does not believe that it is the landowner. National Rail then became involved as research showed that its predecessor had owned the land, it having been sold in the early 1800s by the predecessors of the trust. Legal teams for both bodies are still investigating the history of the ownership. CRT’s Sarah Rudy told Towpath Talk: “We are still certain that the trust doesn’t own the land. Network Rail says that it was sold to us but we are

these moored boats.” she said. “Meanwhile, they are getting more and more entrenched, as I have warned the trust. I am concerned that the longer this continues the more difficult it will be to move them on. They have already tried to establish themselves by erecting a community notice board. “I have been receiving complaints about noise, as there are flats that overlook the site. The residents there report hearing loud music and raucous shouting.”

Boaters alerted to Calor cylinder recall

• Continued from page 1

The Regent’s Canal towpath. PHOTO: PASTLONDON Ali states that due to the speed of passing cyclists in areas including Mile End, Victoria Park and Broadway Market, she no longer feels able to ensure the safety of her customers on the towpath while they are being served, and for this reason, has ceased to trade within the London area. CRT issued Ali with some leaflets to hand out to cyclists listing the mentioned guidelines on cycling speed and sharing the towpath, however, the guidelines have not had any significant effect on the speed or attitude of the worst offenders. Ali states that many cyclists have responded aggressively when asked to slow

waiting for it to provide the evidence for this. We are still adamant about the matter as we cannot find any record of a transfer to us.” Victoria Bradley from Network Rail said its own researches are continuing. Oxford City councillor for the ward of Osney and Jericho Susannah Pressel has been hearing of concerns from local residents. “I am very disappointed indeed that the Canal & River Trust has still not lifted a finger to do anything about

down, or have replied that cyclists have right of way, which is of course incorrect. As a result of the ongoing issues regarding towpath cycling in London, London boater Laura Hughes has launched a petition on Change.org, encouraging CRT to introduce speed limits and calming measures along the towpaths of the canals and rivers in London. With 365 signatures to date and a wide range of supporting comments and personal stories of incidents involving cyclists having been collated already, boaters and any other parties that use the towpaths on a regular basis are encouraged to add their voice to the campaign.

● The petition can be found online at http://chn.ge/1wzcME1 and more information is available via the London Boaters Facebook group.

THE Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) is supporting Calor Gas Ltd to alert any boaters to the immediate product recall on all 6kg Calor Lite® cylinders manufactured between 2008-2011 inclusively, following concerns regarding the potential deterioration of the cylinder. A small number of these cylinders have been found to be showing signs of premature internal deterioration which over time could lead to a gas escape. BSS manager Graham Watts said: “We have been advised that the risk of this occurring is perceived to be minimal. “However, we understand that Calor, which sees its responsibility for customer safety as paramount, is determined to

have a thorough internal inspection of all potentially affected cylinders.’ Cylinders must be returned to any 6kg Calor Lite® retail outlet immediately. Cylinders manufactured outside this date range are unaffected and safe to use. Also cylinders from 2008-11 that have already been checked do not need returning. These are marked with a hole punched into the flat metal tare disc that sits on top of the cylinder just below the valve. Boaters can find the nearest 6kg Calor Lite® retail outlet by using the Find-aStockist facilities to be found at www.calor.co.uk/recall. Boaters returning a cylinder from the critical period will be given, for free, a full replacement 6kg Calor Lite ®cylinder.

The year of manufacture can be found in two places on the base ring.

HS2 route change at Fradley Junction THE Government is adopting Canal & River Trust and Inland Waterways Association proposals to realign the route of HS2. The new route avoids much of the historic Fradley Junction to Woodend area of the Trent & Mersey Canal, and the need for a large worksite alongside the Coventry Canal between Streethay and Huddlesford. Assurances have also been

given that HS2 will ensure that restoration of the Lichfield Canal can continue. CRT commissioned engineering consultancy Hyder Consulting (UK) Ltd whose report set out an alternative alignment largely avoiding the canal, substantially reducing embankment heights, noise and visual intrusion, and potentially saving the project millions of pounds.



Successful rescue after boat catches on lock cill

THE crew of a hire boat from Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd were able to resume their cruising holiday around the Leicester Ring after it was successfully rescued from Kegworth Deep Lock on the River Soar. This drama began when the 62ft four-berth narrowboat Empress entered the lock at 9am on September 25. With the top gates closed and the bottom paddles opened, the steerer stepped off the boat to take a look at the parallel old lock and the boat drifted back in the lock, the stern caught on the cill and the bow sank into the bottom of the lock. Two women who were in the saloon managed to make their way to the stern and get off the boat and, in doing so, one received minor cuts and bruises. The emergency services were called by a passer-by and the police,

ambulance and fire brigade arrived within 20 minutes; then the hirer called Wyvern Shipping’s managing director James Griffin. He requested that the fire service ensured that the lock was not used and the boat left on the cill until he arrived, also informing the Canal & River Trust (CRT) of the accident. After a two-hour wait, the CRT’s contractors Commercial Boat Services arrived with pumps and lifting equipment and a rescue plan was agreed. James said: “This was an almost identical cilling to the one in March at Bath deep lock where the rescue operation took five days and the boat was sunk twice during the rescue resulting in it being written off. This I did not want to happen to Empress; as the owner of the boat I wanted to keep the flooding of the boat to a minimum

IN BRIEF Weaver bridge reopens

Narrowboat Empress is refloated during the successful pumping out operation.


and also have the lock clear as soon as possible.” Using winches to pull the boat on to an even keel, mobile pumps were used to remove the water from the cabin. With the gunwales above water, the boat was soon pumped out and when it was fully floated it was found that no water had gone beyond the forward area that was sunk. The river water was fortunately very clean. The rescue operation took four hours and the holiday-makers were able to remain on the boat. At 7pm

Wedding gifts boost Keppel appeal RIGHT: Signing the register are newlyweds Andrew and Elizabeth Watts of the Etruria Boat Group following their marriage on October 11. Instead of gifts, they asked for donations towards the appeal to restore the group’s historic boat Keppel and were over the moon with the generosity of family and friends who contributed over £2500. See more about the Keppel appeal on page 15.


Now it’s the Tour de Broads 2014 READERS may remember the reports in Towpath Talk last year about Selby man John Wonfor who set off around the canal and river network on board a converted 16ft catamaran to raise money in memory of his late wife Carol. His journey, called The tour de canale 2013 took two-and-a-half months and raised about £3000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. John said: “It turned out to be a series of disasters mixed up with a series of wonderful people. I tried to keep a daily diary and this seemed to amuse people for some reason.” His boat, called Listen, was “so abused by my

bad sailing” that it had to be retired and he has bought a new one Listen Too for this year’s challenge which started in late September. John aims to travel every navigable stretch of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, using an electric powered outboard with nine batteries for power. He is doing it again to raise awareness and funds for Macmillan Cancer Support as a payback for the “wonderful help” given to Carol who died of bowel cancer two years ago. John’s effort can be supported at www.macmillan.tributefunds.com/carolwonf or or through John’s Facebook page.

James started the engine and backed Empress out of the lock. The next morning Wyvern Shipping replaced the loose items that had been submerged and the hirers were able to continue their two-week holiday. James expressed his thanks to the four boaters held up at the lock, his engineer, and Commercial Boat Services for its help and providing the equipment for what turned out to be a very successful rescue. He added that the crew had experienced many canal holidays.

Canal & River Trust takes action in coffee boat row

THE Canal & River Trust has taken decisive action in the row which blighted a peaceful stretch of the Stainforth & Keadby Canal at Kirk Bramwith by serving an injunction on the owners of coffee boat Brass Rivet II. As reported last month, cafe operators Michael and Donna Milsom had appealed an enforcement notice by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council which stated that their business contravened planning regulations. Their landlord, the Canal & River Trust, terminated their commercial mooring agreement and after they did not meet the September 8 deadline to move, head of business boating Phil Spencer stated on October 2: “As a consequence, and to avoid further conflict and uncertainty, we have taken the difficult decision to take action to stop the coffee boat from operating on the current site.” Announcing to customers that the cafe would close on October 19, Donna stated: “We have fought long and hard to stay for the wonderful people we have met over the last three summers and regret the decision that has been forced upon us. Many thanks for your support and custom.” As we went to press, she told Towpath Talk that she had contacted her local MP, labour leader Ed Miliband and both she and some of her customers would be appealing to the Ombudsman. Nearby residential boaters claimed the Milsoms had made their position untenable by breaching their permitted planning permission and mooring contract. Spokesman Dave Binks, who has been on the CRT moorings on the opposite bank for several years, told Towpath Talk it had been a living hell for the past two years. He concluded a lengthy statement outlining the boaters’ complaints by asking: “Why should this historic area with its listed locks not be protected from the uncontrolled, everexpanding unsympathetic business so that it’s here for everyone to enjoy?”

SUTTON Weaver Swing Bridge over the River Weaver, near Frodsham, Cheshire, has reopened after a £4.5 million restoration. The bridge, which carries the busy A56 trunk road, opened to traffic again on Saturday, October 11. Rowing boats and narrowboats have been able to pass underneath throughout the project, but the Weaver Navigation was expected to be open to all river traffic by the end of October. It is the first complete refurbishment of the 88-year-old bridge, which carries 20,000 vehicles a day, and will extend its life by over 50 years. Full report next month.

Python in dock

THE long distance traveller pictured in our report of Alvecote Historic Boat Gathering last month was Ling, which is owned by a Chesterfield Canal Trust member who has kindly been taking information about the Chesterfield Canal and Trust, including its big banner, to many historic boat events this summer. The trust’s boat Python almost sank last year and was temporarily repaired before being taken to Paul Barber’s boatyard where it has been out of the water for 12 months. It remains there while the trust seeks the large amount of funding necessary to give it a thorough repair and refit job, setting it up for the next 20 years.

Panther error

Historic boat Panther is owned and operated by the Coventry Canal Society, not club as reported in our September issue. We are happy to set the record straight about both of the above boats.

Online vote IN OUR latest online poll at

www.towpathtalk.co.uk we asked readers for their views on the badger cull. Of those who responded, 71% were opposed to the cull, 21% were in favour and 8% were undecided. This month we are asking readers what type of toilet they have on their boat.

Murder enquiry

A 64-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman’s body was found on a canal boat at Salterforth, West Craven in North Yorkshire, writes Geoff Wood. At the time of going to press, the woman, who was believed to be in her 40s, had not been formally identified.

Triathlon date THE 2015 Montgomery Canal Triathlon

will be held on Saturday, May 9. There will be a change in the walking and the canoeing sections but it will still use the 35-mile route. For further information contact 01691 831455 or visit Pete’s Montgomery Canal website at www.montgomerycanal.me.uk/



Making waves at Maesbury as visitor numbers double

By Harry Arnold

A PERHAPS unique attraction of this year’s 2014 Maesbury Canal Festival was the All England Inland Waterways Gurning Championship. Gurning – for those not familiar with this rural pastime – is pulling the most horrible distorted face while framed by a horse-collar. It had been tried before, but this time it was a main event with £100 prize money sponsored by Bywater Cruises. This biennial gathering – the fourth to be held at Canal Central on the Montgomery Canal at Maesbury – continues to improve, with an estimated public attendance of 4000 over the two days of the September 67 weekend; which, according to the organisers, is double the visitors to the last festival. It again attracted over 30 boats, including traditional craft such as the restored fly-boat Saturn and a number of trading craft selling their wares and providing extra catering – such as Suzie’s Spuds and one of the Cheese Boats. Some of the other 55 stands (numbers again up on last time) also provided food; but the bulk of the catering – including evening meals for participants – came from the excellent kitchen of hosts Canal Central. For a local festival it is perhaps surprising that so many stands and associated activities can be fitted in such a relatively small space. There was a perhaps bewildering and fascinating range of things to do and, being a rural area, much emphasis on country and other crafts. New this year was rope making.

Literally setting a cracking pace, horse Cracker hauling the Countess on one of the public trips. The official opening was performed by local Shropshire councillor Arthur Walpole and his wife Mary whose son actually works for the Canal & River Trust (CRT); so they were also able to hear an encouraging speech, effectively from his boss, CRT chief executive Richard Parry who, with local waterway manager Ian Easby was one of the principal guests. Following the opening, guests were again taken on Bywater Cruises’ horse-drawn trip boat Countess of Maesbury – propelled by horse Cracker – along the not yet officially navigable section from Gronwen Wharf to Redwith Bridge. They could have travelled beyond here along the recently reopened length to Pryce’s Bridge, restored by volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS).

Fender maker Dave Walker instructs on rope laying.

Much to see on the trade boats along the towpath. However, a serious leak has developed and this section has had to be again stanked-off, so the guests had to walk. As we go to press we understand that the source of the leak has been identified and work has started to remedy it.

Newt exclusion

Hounds of various breeds and shapes in the dog show.

The youthful winner of the gurning championship with judges Harry Arnold of MWRT, Judith Richards, festival chairman, Ian Easby, CRT waterway manager, and master of ceremonies Tom of Bywater Cruisers. PHOTOS:WATERWAY IMAGES

It has also been recently announced that Natural England – after taking 130 days instead of their stated target of 30 days – is to reject CRT’s application to grant a licence to move newts from the next 50m of channel to be restored by SUCS. The consequence of this is that channel works will be delayed

until spring 2015 to allow for newt exclusion, subject to CRT securing a licence. Public trips on the Countess of Maesbury from the festival site at Crofts Mill Bridge to Redwith were very much in demand all weekend and with this, the continuous music and other attractions, such as a dog show involving many and varied breeds and sizes of hounds, there was plenty to keep visitors happy and the weather was kind too. Winners of the best decorated boat – judged by CRT waterway manager Ian Easby – were Ros Harrison and Dave Koring on Carmel, with a Montgomery canal volunteer restoration theme.

Maesbury was again a credit to the organising committee of the event, comprising a team of volunteers from the Friends of the Montgomery Canal – the membership section of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust (MWRT) – and from the IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch. The festival costs £6000 to mount, part of this total being supplied by Shropshire Council in the form of a grant. Profits go to the restoration of the Montgomery Canal. Another major Montgomery campaign was announced by MWRT at Maesbury with the intention of generating more use

of and interest in the other long since restored but isolated section of the canal in Wales, centred around Welshpool. Entitled ‘Making Waves’ it will be a series of events and publicity initiatives held along this very beautiful length – but also linked with other Montgomery events throughout the waterway – during 2015. Visiting boats are expected and – along with a programme of other events – there will be one with a main focus on the waterway in Welshpool over the weekend of July 4-5, 2015. Details will be regularly updated on a dedicated website: makingwaves2015.co.uk

Creative weekend on the Chesterfield Canal

Dry stone wallers Gordon Wilton and Trevor Wragg with Gemma Gregory and Helena Stenton from the Derbyshire Countryside Service and Jane Wells from Junction Arts, centre. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

FOLK music, boat trips, creative workshops and much more was on offer at the second Tapton Celebration Weekend held along the banks of the Chesterfield Canal on September 20-21. Over 1000 visitors of all ages attended to enjoy the wide range of activities during the event that was organised by Junction Arts and the Derbyshire Countryside Service and supported by a number of local funders and sponsors. Jane Wells from Junction Arts said: “The event built on the success of last year’s and far surpassed our expectations. We would like to say thank you to everyone who supported us and to everyone who attended, it was a pleasure to be involved.” There was a great performance line-up in the marquee featuring the Springwell Community Choir, local band Soap Box Preacher and members of the Chesterfield

Folk Club including the well respected Judy Dunlop. The presence of the popular Brampton Brewery ensured an even more enthusiastic audience! Demonstrations of wood turning, spinning and weaving inspired people to ‘have a go’ themselves and visitors also had the chance to try their hand at felt making and painting the traditional castles and roses motifs. Junction Arts staff provided a creative workshop for participants to make beautifully decorated paper birds and a mosaic artist worked with visitors to make a stunning mosaic that will be a permanent feature when it’s installed in the garden next to the visitor centre. Boat trips and canoe rides were also on offer as were archive film screenings throughout the weekend. Two of the best of this country’s dry stone wallers were also in attendance,

Visitors take part in the creative workshop. courtesy of the National Stone Centre in Middleton by Wirksworth. Under the gaze and close scrutiny of everyone present they built a new bench, perfectly situated along the banks of the canal for the enjoyment of walkers and cyclists for many years to come.



A bumper weekend in the Black Country

By Les Heath

FOLLOWING the success of this year’s Black Country Boat Festival, all eyes are now on making next year’s event one of the best ever, when it celebrates its 30th birthday. This year’s festival, blessed with fine weather, again transformed the former industrial area around Windmill End, Netherton, into a fun-filled weekend with bumper crowds and a wide variety of visiting narrowboats.

Passengers on board Dudley Canal Trust trip boat Electra for one of the tunnel trips.

Boats gathered at the nearby Tipton Canal & Community Festival which took place over the following weekend.

Attractions included all-day entertainment, historic boats, classic cars and trade and craft stalls. An opportunity to travel through the 3027 yard Netherton Tunnel was included in the boat trips. The organisers presented cheques to the mayor of Dudley, Coun Margaret Aston, for the mayor’s charity appeal, Bumble Hole Conservation Group, the local Army Cadets, St Peter’s Church, Netherton, and the local CAMRA group. The Black Country Award presented for special efforts in volunteering went to the Mullen family.

The busy scene at the Black Country Boat Festival. PHOTOS: LES HEATH

Biggest ever Over Festival a huge success

THE Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust’s annual ‘Over Festival on the Canal’ was the largest so far with more than 1000 people visiting the wide variety of attractions in near perfect weather. Entrance was free, for all to enjoy the usual side shows and stalls associated with a family fun day out. There was obviously a watery theme, enhanced by visitor participation with a model boat regatta, Fire Brigade displays and canoeing and kayaking. The Trust’s own heritage boats provided tours of the canal to Vineyard Hill. This year included the addition of Shetland ponies to provide rides for

children, circus skills and other attractions in partnership with the Scout Network. There were large marquees housing a range of local produce and crafts for sale, including local beers, cider and perry. There was the largest programme to date of live music on the river terrace with The Wharf House providing refreshments of tapas and a hugely successful beer festival. The trust expressed thanks for the generous support of Gloucester Quays and the Gloucestershire Network of Scouts in mounting this festival, which will take place next year on Saturday and Sunday, August 22-23.

Festival goers on the Riverside Terrace at The Wharf House. PHOTO: www.photoglow.co.uk

Passengers enjoying a trip on board Mister Maysey.

Boaters and visitors responded well to the popular canal festival at Burnley. PHOTO: GEOFF WOOD

Planning award boost for Burnley Festival By Geoff Wood

BURNLEY’S third canal festival was given a special boost through the area where it’s held. The Weaver’s Triangle on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was at the same time cited at the Royal Town Planning Institute North West Achievement Awards as Best Regeneration Project and was rewarded with the overall Planning Achievement Award. Accolades for the area are seen as important as the festival and the canal itself strive to attact more visitors. At the festival, visitors lined the towpath and queues built up at the wharfside for boat trips along the canal. Since they queued in bright sunshine for a place, there were very few complaints. Of equal interest were the many barges decorated specially for the festival, lining the canal. Many were moored beside an historic canalside wharf for loading and unloading – a feature which Burnley shares with neighbouring Blackburn. An exhibition on the Weaver’s Triangle was witness

to the fact that the town’s textile heritage has now become a major source of interest. More entertainment came from live music, street theatre, craft and food stalls and children’s activities and a canalside pub provided plenty of refreshments for those who found the sightseeing thirsty work. Civic leaders were well pleased at how the Bank Holiday event turned out. Council leader Mark Townsend said: “The canal is a marvellous asset for Burnley and I am delighted to see we are making the most of it. The town has been receiving positive coverage for its exciting transformations in recent months and events such as this, can only add to our reputation as a vibrant town with a great lifestyle offer. “Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the huge regeneration project under way developing ‘On the Banks’ as one of the largest heritage led regeneration projects in the country, sensitively regenerating the historic area to create a mixed use waterside leisure, business and education centre.”


IN BRIEF Marina proposal rejected

PLANS to build a 200-berth marina at Wrenbury in Cheshire were turned down by councillors, writes Geoff Wood. Ward councillor Stan Davies had told the planning board at Macclesfield that the marina would in a central location in Wrenbury. He said its construction would change the village forever. Coun Davies added that the marina would destroy the peaceful setting that boat owners enjoyed at present. The board voted against the development of a marina.


Getting up close to two mighty feats of waterways engineering TWO recent open days gave visitors an insight into two different features of the canal and river network. At Newark more than 400 people caught a rare glimpse of the dry dock where boats have been repaired and restored since the 1950s. The dock is still one of the busiest boat maintenance facilities operating on the inland waterways today and visitors learnt more about this local landmark as well as taking the opportunity to go on board some of the Canal & River Trust’s maintenance boats.

And at one of CRT’s most northerly waters, over 150 visitors had a tour of the Tees Barrage which had been drained for maintenance. This gave them a unique insight into the inner workings of a structure that was known as the biggest civil engineering project in the UK during its construction 20 years ago.

During the event visitors of all ages took the opportunity to explore inside one of the drained gate areas to see the structure’s hydraulic rams up close, join special tours around the fish pass, get rare access into the control tower and learn more about the fascinating white water course construction.

New trustees picked

CANAL & River Trust has appointed Ben Gordon and Allan Leighton as trustees. Both hold a number of nonexecutive positions in industry. Welcoming them, chairman Tony Hales said their commercial knowledge, and wide-ranging experience would prove invaluable. He also thanked John Bridgeman who stepped down after eight years on the board of British Waterways and the trust.

Bishop’s Stortford busted

BOATER Bill Colombi whose Bishop Stortford or Bust letter was featured in Towpath Talk (Talkback, Issue 104, June) completed his return journey from Ripon, covering 758 miles and 517 locks with nb Kestrel. He was raising money for the Friends of Murambinda Mission Hospital (FMH) which serves a population of nearly 300,000 people in the Buhera district of Zimbabwe.

Silver cruisers set off

CANAL cruising is growing in popularity with older members of society, writes Geoff Wood. A group from a care home in Middlewich, Cheshire, travelled to Parbold and took a cruise on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Most of the group had never been on a barge before but all agreed it was an enjoyable experience.

Inside one of the drained gate areas of the Tees Baggage.

Councils consulted over towpath plans PARISH councils along the Craven stretch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in North Yorkshire are being consulted over major plans to make the towpath more accessible, writes Geoff Wood. The multi-million plan aims to facilitate easier walking routes and a cycling network. Transport charity Sustrans been working with local authorities and the Canal & River Trust to draw up detailed plans. Coun Simon Myers of Enterprising Craven said: “The canal is a major asset for us. Development of the access points will help us make the most of it.”

Visitors take a closer look inside Newark Dry Dock. PHOTOS: CANAL & RIVER TRUST

Awards celebrate ‘exciting’ projects

PROJECTS which are making a difference to the canal and river network were recognised at the first Living Waterways Awards ceremony held recently at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. The awards were launched by the Canal & River Trust in January and have been led by an independent panel of experts drawn from the voluntary, environmental, heritage, engineering and architecture sectors. Winners of the eight categories include: the Floating Cinema project in London; the Scale Lane moveable bridge across the River Hull; the Friends of Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum events programme; the restoration of the River Irwell in Manchester; and the work of the Wirral Community Narrowboat Trust. CRT chairman Tony Hales said: “The Living Waterways Awards celebrate the individuals, communities and organisations that have done the most to make a difference to the nation’s historic canals and rivers – making them

‘Meccano’ bridge designer Liam Curtin and Manchester Bury & Bolton Canal Society chairman Dr Paul Hindle, holding a scaled up ‘Meccano’ nut and bolt, receive the runner-up award in the Art and Interpretation section. The panel described the footbridge as ‘a witty concept which brings a smile to the lips of visitors’. PHOTO SUPPLIED exciting places to live, learn and spend time. “There’s so much we can learn from these achievements and we wish everyone many congratulations on their tremendous success.”

Assessment panel chairman Helen Carey added: “We’ve seen some exciting and truly inspiring projects from across the UK.” The awards were sponsored by Keir, CPC Civils, Galliford Try and Hyder Consulting.

The Living Waterways Awards roll of honour

Art & Interpretation: Rochdale Canal Connections; runner-up Meccano Bridge on the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal; commended The Slow Boat Project at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. Contribution to the built environment: Scale Lane Bridge in Hull; runner-up Hayhurst Quay, Northwich; commended Capel Mill on the Cotswold Canals and Dutton Breach on the Trent & Mersey Canal. Community & Volunteering: Wirral Community Narrowboat Trust; runner-up Rivertime Boat Trust, River Thames; commended Reconstruction of Wilmcote Lock No 40 on the Stratford Canal; the Waterway Recovery Group’s ‘Building Bridges’ Project on the North Oxford and Grand Union canals and Bottesford Beck at Scunthorpe.

Education & Learning: The Floating Cinema, London; runner-up ‘In A New Light’ on the Mon & Brec Canal at Brecon; commended The Saturn Project on North West waterways. Natural Environment: River Irwell Restoration, Manchester; runner-up The River Brent/Grand Union Canal Eel Recovery Programme, West London. Recreation & Tourism: Stoke Bruerne events, Northamptonshire; runner-up Rickmansworth Waterways Festival, Hertfordshire; commended Roving Canal Traders in Birmingham and Chesterfield Canal Trust. Restoration & Historic Environment: Relighting the Fire at Ellesmere Forge in Shropshire; runner-up The Horseboating Society in Northern England. Outstanding Achievement: Sonia Rolt OBE.


www.towpathtalk.co.uk 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.

A magical time on the waterways WINTER is a magical time on the waterways. While hire boat traffic may have mostly been put to bed for the season, the nation’s rivers and canals remain in constant use as passionate boaters enjoy the kinds of unique experiences only the winter months can deliver. With little foliage on the trees, views and vistas can be spectacular, while with less traffic churning it up, the water is clearer, giving a sparkle to your wake. Wildlife changes with the seasons and as there is reduced human impact too, there is always the chance of glimpsing a rare bird or mammal you have never seen before. All in all there is a calm tranquillity only winter boating can bring. But to enjoy it fully is to enjoy it safely as temperatures plunge and conditions become more and more unpredictable. Take note of these tips to make the most of one of boating’s greatest pleasures: Prepare for the cold – sounds obvious but common sense isn’t always that common. Wear more layers plus hats and suitable gloves and think about shorter sessions on the tiller. Standing inactive for long periods will see your core body temperature drop so take it in turns to helm more often. Be weather aware – conditions can change quickly, often with little warning, and water levels can rise rapidly to dangerous levels in some areas. Make sure you check the Environment Agency website (apps.environment-agency.gov.uk/ river-and-sea-levels) for up-to-date river level data and flood warnings (red/yellow/ green).

Go steady – winter typically means ice and ice means the increased risk of slipping and hurting yourself on deck and around locks. Take extra care, wear shoes with good grip and remove ice where you can see it. Also be aware lock mechanisms are made of steel that can get very cold and hurt, with almost frostbite-like symptoms, if you grab hold of them. Wear good gloves. Cold water shock – accidents do happen and cold water shock is a real danger in water below 15°C. The sudden exposure of the head and body to cold water can cause a number of involuntary reactions, such as sudden increase in heart and blood pressure that may result in cardiac arrest, even for people in good health. It can spark a gasping reflex, causing you to inhale and drown as you submerge, and it drastically reduces your ability to hold your breath underwater, from around a minute to less than 10 seconds. It induces vertigo and the inability to differentiate between up and down too. Wearing a life jacket in tricky conditions or around locks will help you stay upright, keep your head above water and buy extra rescue time. Winter is not summer – don’t expect all the waterside services you take for granted in the peak months to run the same operations over the winter. The useful Canal & River Trust boating guides at www.waterscape.com/things-todo/boating/guides will help you plan your journey better, including where services are and locks or sections of canal being repaired or upgraded. Barmy ballast – so often over the winter you see canal boats carrying


Volunteer sailors sought

BROADS charity the Nancy Oldfield Trust at Neatishead, which offers day boating and holidays to disabled and disadvantaged people on and around Barton Broad, is seeking experienced keelboat sailors to train as RYA instructors. It needs fit and safetyconscious volunteers at weekends from April to October and also on weekdays during the winter when weather conditions are suitable. The trust will provide training in disability awareness, RYA First Aid and the use of hoists. It will provide RYA Instructor training for a small number of suitable candidates each year in return for a regular commitment. Contact 01692 630572, info@nancyoldfield.org.uk

Spot, plot and report

Don’t let the peaceful tranquillity give you a false sense of security. PHOTO SUPPLIED fuel sources, such as piles of logs and bags of coal, on their roofs. This extra load – sometimes amounting to an additional ton of weight – can make the boat very unstable. It only takes someone to open a paddle too quickly in a wide lock and an unbalanced boat is in serious danger of tipping over. Always expect the unexpected – the lack of traffic and peaceful tranquillity can give boaters a false sense of security, but always be on your guard for unanticipated obstructions and meeting other water users. Familiarise yourself with the waterway you are on and where you can pull in or stop if needed. Keep your boat ticking over – even if you are an active winter boater, there will still be times when your boat is not

in use when winter can play havoc if you don’t guard against it. All boats should have essential annual maintenance to stop them breaking down and keep them safe. Meanwhile, simple winterising advice, including giving the engine a once-over, checking all fluid levels, maintaining fuel tanks and primary fuel filters, checking there is the right mix of coolant and antifreeze and draining domestic water systems to prevent freezing and cracked pipes, should be followed to avoid nasty surprises. If you want to be really confident that you will be effective if an accident does happen or your boat breaks down, consider taking RYA Diesel Engine Maintenance and RYA First Aid courses. See www.rya.org.uk for more details.

THE Merchant Navy Association Boat Club has relaunched its www.seafarersafloat.com website in a new format and with lots of additional information. This includes the Seavue Watchkeeper Afloat Scheme, the function of which is to spot any vessel or person in difficulty or at serious risk, plot its position and immediately report to HM Coastguard or the appropriate inland waterway authority. Acting as the emergency service’s ‘eyes and ears’, and reporting incidents in a speedy and effective manner, is the main contribution that the scheme can make to safety on the water and to the national search and rescue community.

Refer a friend

AN RYA scheme to introduce friends and family to the benefits of RYA membership has received positive feedback from both new and existing members. Launched at the end of June, the scheme offers new members 25% discount on the price of their chosen membership type and the referring member receives a special gift of either an exclusive RYA branded umbrella or five-litre RYA branded dry bag from OverBoard once the friend or family member has signed up. Visit www.rya.org.uk/go/refer



Slough success

New headquarters for Aylesbury Canal Society

Bowbridge progress

THE new facilities building and club headquarters for Aylesbury Canal Society at Circus Field basin on the edge of the town was recently handed over to chairman Bryan Barnes by Peter Hubbard of the builders, Lodge Park Construction Limited. Receiving the keys to the new building, Bryan said it marked the culmination of a long and complex process triggered by the Aylesbury Waterside development. “It opens a new and exciting chapter in the society’s history but we will continue to promote the use of the Arm and to welcome visiting boats as we always have done. “We look forward to seeing old friends and new faces at Circus Field and hope that many canal users will be able to join us for the official opening celebration and bicentenary of the Arm in 2015.” Some landscaping and internal fittingout works remain for the society to complete but members transferred all its possessions from temporary accommodation to the new HQ at a

SOCIETY NEWS THE Friends of Slough Canal has congratulated Slough Borough Council and the Canal & River Trust on the success of Slough Canal Festival, held in September at Bloom Park, Slough. This year’s event saw well over twice the normal number of visiting boats moored alongside the festival site, due in large measure to work recently carried out by the CRT dredging the canal. It is hoped that, as the improved condition of the waterway becomes more widely known, more boaters will include Slough in their cruising schedules. COTSWOLD Canals Trust reports good progress on the Bowbridge Lock restoration with extra impetus given by four week-long Waterway Recovery Group camps which concentrated on rebuilding the upper wing walls, clearing silt and installing stop plank grooves. The trust’s Tuesday Volunteers have almost completed the rebuild of the towpath wharf wall, and the Thursday Volunteers will soon also be working there with activity increasing to three or four weekdays and possibly Sundays.

well-attended and very busy working party over the weekend of September 13-14. The £1.7 million building, partly funded by the sale of the society’s previous lease on the town basin in Aylesbury and by a substantial bank loan, will provide a new headquarters for the society after more than 40 years in an adapted prefabricated home dating back to the aftermath of the Second World War. The building contains a first-floor function room with lift access and capacity for 300 people with a bar and adjoining toilets. The function room leads to a balcony with views overlooking the Aylesbury Arm and across the society’s basin which accommodates 40 members’ craft and space for visiting boats. A boaters’ laundry contains two washing machines and two tumble dryers while the three showers include one suitable for wheelchair users. All will be available to visiting boaters who can expect the usual ACS welcome on arrival.

THE Retford and Worksop Boat Club’s recent fundraising event to help three servicemen, who received serious injuries in Afghanistan, qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil raised more than £4000. As reported previously in Towpath Talk, amputees Steven Palmer, Craig Wood and Luke Sinnott are already members of the British Sailing Team and funding from Help for Heroes helped to buy their boat Spare Parts. Many donations were received and North Notts Lions gave a cheque.

Gloucestershire Canal Trust has received a £150,000 loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to develop and own a property at Dymock which will form part of a wider housing development. This comes six months after £85,000 part funding to buy the only waterside pub on the canal route.

Trust trophy

THE Welshpool-based Heulwen Trust was recently awarded a trophy by the National Community Boats Association for being its most active member in 2014. The boat trips for disabled children and adults are in constant demand, with a school from as far as north London visiting in July. (Friends of the Montgomery Canal newsletter, August 2014)

Website milestone

CONGRATULATIONS to the Plas Kynaston Canal Group whose www.plaskynastoncanalgroup.org website recently had its quarter of a millionth hit.

The temperature-controlled and ventilated wet dock.

Dock facilities

The indoor, temperature-controlled and ventilated wet dock is more than 72ft/22m long and will accommodate a boat with an air draught of up to 2.2m/7.2ft beneath the automatic folding door. A covered and ventilated dry dock space is also centrally heated and is accessed by a slipway and electric winch with capacity for boats up to 72ft long and weighing as much as 30 tonnes. At normal water levels the draught above the trolley is sufficient to accommodate a former working boat. Once inside the dock, boats can be lifted off the slipway trolley with a purpose-designed hydraulic lift system

and placed on stands to allow the bottom to be pressure washed easily and worked on at a suitable height. Metered single and three-phase electric outlets are provided in each dock along with user-managed central heating, fan and light-level controls. The essential equipment for cleaning and painting boats, such as sanding machines with dust extraction, access platforms and a 220 bar/3200psi pressure washer, are included as part of the dock’s hire charges. Dock users are also provided with separate toilet and shower facilities and a rest room with equipment for coffee and light meals away from the working space.

Tunnel stalwart returns to part-time duty

Support for sailors

Bank loan THE Herefordshire &

Aylesbury Canal Society chairman Bryan Barnes receives the keys from Peter Hubbard of Lodge Park Construction Limited. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

By Geoff Wood

Headteacher Patrick Cummings cuts the ribbon during the naming ceremony at Hollingwood Hub. PHOTO: CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST

Launching ceremony for school narrowboat HEADTEACHER Patrick Cummings officially named the Eckington School narrowboat Madeline in a simple ceremony on Sunday, September 28. As previously reported in Towpath Talk, it has been named in memory of Madeline Siddall, a student at the school in Sheffield who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 15. Members of her family, staff and students from the school and members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust looked on as Mr Cummings spoke about Madeline’s qualities as a very popular and able member of the school community. He thanked the Siddall family, the staff and students who have worked on the boat and members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust who have helped with the project. Having taken delivery of the shell of a 40ft steel narrowboat in October 2011, a dedicated team of students and staff from the school have fitted

out the boat completely. It was much admired during the canal festival at Staveley Town Basin in June. During the early months of 2014, several members of staff and some students were trained to be skippers by members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust. The school has already made much use of Madeline, firstly on an activities week and subsequently for familiarisation cruises. A full course of science work based around the boat is currently being written and the boat will soon be used by Eckington feeder schools. Chesterfield Canal Trust also runs public trips on board Madeline from Hollingwood Hub on Saturdays. Originally only scheduled to run in the summer holidays, they proved so popular that the season was extended until the end of October and will restart in April. All takings are split equally between the school and the trust.

A POPULAR staff stalwart who earned the nickname of the New Standedge Admiral for his supervision of trips through the Standedge Tunnel has retired after 47 years’ service in canals. But a day later Fred Carter was back on duty as a part-time seasonal pilot and guide for the tunnel with the Canal & River Trust on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Marsden, West Yorks. At a retirement party at the Standedge Visitor Centre, Fred was presented with an engraved gold watch. There was also an impressive retirement cake and a framed photo of the Tunnel End cottages and the entrance to the tunnel.

Fred Carter is pictured, second left, with, from left, David Baldacchino and James Dean both of the Canal & River Trust and David Sumner of the Huddersfield Canal Society. PHOTO: BOB GOUGH Fred said his proudest moment at Tunnel End was meeting Prince Charles at the official re-opening of the canal.

TeensTake overTrusT’sTwiTTeraccounT DUDLEY Canal Trust recently handed over control of its Twitter account to local teenagers as part of the national Teen Twitter Takeover Day. Molly, 17, and Morgan, 15, both locals from the Black Country, spent the day experiencing everything the underground attraction has to offer

Molly, 17, from Kingswinford, and Morgan, 15, from Wolverhampton, legging trip boat George through the Dudley Tunnel. PHOTO SUPPLIED

and then sharing their activities with Twitter via Dudley Canal Trust’s twitter account @DCTTrips. Sarah Fellows, heritage activities officer at Dudley Canal Trust Trips Ltd, said: “We know our canal boat trips are great fun for everyone however old they are, so it was great to have two enthusiastic teenagers helping to spread the word for us across Twitter.” The girls also spoke to other organisations around the country who were taking part in the takeover, including many museums and heritage organisations. The Twitter Takeover Day was just one of various spin-off days organised by advocacy group Kids in Museums as part of the Children’s Commissioner’s annual Takeover Day, which happens in November each year. Molly and Morgan’s final tweet read: “Had a great day at DCT and hoping to come again soon! #takeoverday”

Society looks forward to anniversary celebrations THE Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society is in for a busy year in 2015 heading up celebrations throughout the year of the opening of navigation from Birmingham to Worcester in 1815. Events already in the programme include: May 1-4: St Richard’s Boat and Car Festival, based in Vines Park, Droitwich. This will be a four-day event with a full programme of live entertainment. May 15-17: Beer and Boat Festival, Alvechurch. The Weighbridge Pub at Alvechurch already has a good reputation for holding beer festivals and for 2015 the

canal society is joining forces with ABC Leisure Group to create a unique weekend of family entertainment June 12-14: Worcester Festival. For this event the WBDCS is working with the Worcester Canal Group to bring to Worcester the continuing 200year celebrations. Again with full entertainment throughout the weekend. July 10-12: Kings Norton Festival Based around the junction of the North Stratford Canal and using the Kings Norton playing fields, this will provide a new entertainment stage for local bands to show off their talent. Local community groups have all

joined in to make this a festival to remember with steam engines, vintage and classic cars. The society is in talks with the floating trade boats to encourage them on to the Worcester Birmingham Canal. There will also be a real ale bar and many craft stalls. WBDCS has commissioned a special ale to be produced which will be on sale throughout the year. It will be called ‘THE 58 SPECIAL’ based on the 58 locks of the WB Canal and brewed to 5.8%. The society has also been holding a photographic competition from which the best 12 photos will be used to create a one-off celebratory calendar for 2015.

● If you are planning your cruising for 2015, WBDCS invites you to come and help celebrate a unique period of time. Any trade, craft or boat entry or further information can be obtained from david@eurotexsales.com or visit the WBDCS website at wbdcs.org.uk. On Saturday, December 5, 2015, the celebrations will culminate in a bell ringing at all the churches from Worcester to Birmingham.



Pottery boat, Fair Rosamund.

Characters of the Cut New contributor Noah Price meets potter Mark Ilsley.

STUDIO potter Mark Ilsley lives on a boat called Fair Rosamund. The name of this boat – if you are not aware of the history behind it – may, at first, conjure up a romantic image of a fictional 16th century damsel. But ‘Fair Rosamund’ was originally the name given to the mistress of King Henry II of England – Rosamund Clifford. Not long after Mark bought the boat, back in 2009, he was curious enough to look up the name online and once he found out the significance behind it, he could not wait to tell a friend about the legendary beauty his boat was named after. His friend quickly tried to dispel the legacy by telling him that he had to look at what people considered to be ‘beautiful’ in the context of her time: “If you only had four teeth left and one wart...” his friend said, “...that’s all you needed to be seen as beautiful!” But Mark has always been able to see the beauty behind the name and he said that he would “never dream of changing it”. The name, to this day, can still be seen on the bow of his boat but the boat is perhaps better known to local boaters and towpath dwellers as ‘The Pottery Boat’. Mark is 54 years old and has been a professional potter since he was 32. With his combined love for the countryside, his attraction towards the canal lifestyle and his passion for potting he decided, in the second year of owning the boat, to renovate 12ft of it – with the help of his friends – into an ideal place for a pottery studio. In this studio he currently makes stoneware mugs, bowls and plates and receives commissions to create personalised mugs – which are guaranteed to last ‘long after the next ice age’ and are especially made with comfortingly sturdy round bases, making them ideal for people who live on boats. Mark suffers from Multiple Sclerosis which is a ‘progressive’ neurological condition affecting the nerves in the brain, the control over muscle movement and vision. Despite this affliction, Mark stoically deals with the symptoms and from time to time he can even make light of them. He

Mark Ilsley, working in his pottery studio on his boat.


can get around on his boat with remarkable ease – the narrow space and the furniture give him support to move around – and with the aid of a walking stick he can manage short distances. But when Mark is faced with having to go through a lock, which is a test for even the most able bodied of people, it becomes a challenge that he cannot face on his own. It is a testament to Mark’s friendly character that he can always rely on nearby friends to help him out. There is a part of him that unnecessarily feels somewhat guilty about having to require the help of his friends but he did say that overall he has, “never regretted living on a canal boat.”

Successful season on the Lancaster Canal RIGHT: Lancaster Canal Trust trip boat Waterwitch on her last trip of the season with an audience of growing cygnets. Many hundreds of happy passengers were carried this year and the trust thanks everyone for their support and generous donations. Waterwitch will continue to be used for special trips and weekend work parties clearing the canal banks of overgrown tree branches before being moored at Millness wharf, her winter quarters. ● Waterwitch is operated May to late September as a means of promoting the canal restoration and to place the trust in a better position to raise the funds required to breach the M6 blockages and connect the Northern Reaches to the remainder of the canal system. www.lancastercanaltrust.org.uk




Volunteers interviewed live for BBC Radio Leicester Saturday show A WET and windy weather forecast resulted in a small number of volunteers for IWA Leicestershire Branch’s clean up on the Soar Navigation on October 4.

But those who braved the morning rain enjoyed themselves and dried out in the afternoon when the sun came out. The event was well supported by Leicester

A bicycle and office chairs were among the rubbish collected by volunteers at Lime Kiln Lock. PHOTO:ALISON SMEDLEY

City Council who provided three workboats for the event and by the Canal & River Trust. Julie Mayer from BBC Radio Leicester also braved the wet weather and came along with a radio car and interviewed four of the volunteers live on the Tony and Julie Saturday morning radio show. By lunchtime, the volunteers had collected 17 bags of rubbish and assorted larger items out of the canal. By the end of the day, this had increased to a full trailer load of rubbish including a bicycle and an almost serviceable office chair. The Leicester City Council workboat was used to collect floating rubbish and access

Moving on to Wolverley Lock FOLLOWING on from the monthly work parties on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal in the Kidderminster area, IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch moved slightly further north for their work party on September 10. The

volunteers met at Wolverley Lock, where they painted the lock. The day was supported by CRT West Midlands’ volunteer co-ordinator, Murray Woodward, who brought the van with tools, coffee and tea, which contributed to a pleasant experience.

Skip filled with rubbish from Nottingham city canal clean-up

ALMOST 20 volunteers turned out in Nottingham for a canal clean-up from Meadow Lane towards the city centre on September 21. The day had been organised by IWA Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch in partnership with CRT, and the volunteers included IWA members, boaters and local people who wanted to get involved in cleaning up the surrounding area. One team of volunteers set off on CRT’s workboat Bollin, to tackle the offside litter and any waterborne

Just some of the rubbish pulled out by Trent Lane Depot. PHOTO BY


litter and submerged rubbish. Meanwhile, two teams of volunteers with grappling irons got to work, and had soon pulled out their first haul of rubbish from the lock chamber at Meadow Lane, before making their way all the way along the first mile of canal, pulling out numerous bicycles, shopping trolleys, fence panels and other assorted items. Later in the day, an enormous amount of scrap metal was pulled out from the Nottingham Canal near Trent Lane. Litter picking was carried out between Meadow Lane Lock for over a mile towards the city centre, while others weeded and cleared vegetation from around Meadow Lane Lock, the sanitary station service block, and along towards the first bridge. By the end of the day, all of the rubbish had been unloaded at CRT’s Trent Lane depot, where it filled one skip, and all the scrap metal went into an enormous pile to be taken away for recycling.

Returning to Manchester for IWA’S annual ‘big clean’

THE first weekend of October was IWA’s annual big clean-up in Manchester supported by the Canal & River Trust. Following on from successful events in 2013 and 2014, work this year focused on the Ashton and Rochdale Canals with 52 volunteers turning out. They braved very wet weather on the Saturday and filled two skips with rubbish pulled from the canals. On top of this, 19 solid fence panels, two heras fence panels, over 13 long (up to 5m) pieces of scrap metal, a stop plank, a lamppost, a 4.5m ladder, a big, red, child’s car, a double mattress and numerous shopping trollies and bicycles were pulled from the canalbed.

Part of the team that pulled all of the rubbish out were 12 Officer Cadets from Manchester & Salford Universities Royal Naval Unit who were there on the Sunday. They were a great help in getting the heavy stuff out and were not afraid to get their uniforms very muddy! It was not just canal rubbish that was tackled, with volunteers litter picking up to Lock 3 on the Ashton Canal and Lock 81 on the Rochdale Canal. Vegetation was also cut back at Lock 82 on the Rochdale Canal and around the first two bridges from Ducie Street Junction on the Ashton Canal. Overall, the weekend was a great success especially considering Saturday’s weather.

rubbish on the offside. They also went a short way up the Willow Brook where rubbish makes its way down into the canal where it joins the navigation below Lime Kiln Lock. Other volunteers grappled rubbish out from the bank, litter picked along the towpath and carried out a bit of vegetation clearance around the lock. The CRT welfare van unfortunately arrived with a full toilet tank and had to be taken to Loughborough to be emptied, thus highlighting the relevance of one of IWA Leicestershire Branch’s campaigns for getting some boaters’ facilities installed in Leicester.

Oxfordshire Branch prepares for Banbury Canal Day VOLUNTEERS joined IWA Oxfordshire Branch on a chilly morning at Banbury Town Lock to prepare the canalside area for the Banbury Canal Day on October 4. This included painting the lock gates and furniture, putting up signs and cutting vegetation back from the towpath. The lock gates had been painted only the year before but were already well worn and looked significantly better following the lick of paint they received.

Starting work on the towpath last year. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Project Towpath blazes the trail VOLUNTEERS from a village in the Saddleworth area have been working on Project Towpath. The Street Scene Greenfield Group is part of the Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents Association and meets twice a month to carry out work under the guidance of the Canal & River Trust. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is an important feature of the village, being one of its main arteries; the towpath is in constant use by residents and visitors alike and major improvements were urgently needed. So far more than 55 tonnes of stone have been laid, overgrown vegetation cleared, balsam ‘bashed’ and litter removed.

One of the improved stretches. The Group has now officially adopted the Greenfield section and numerous positive comments have been received from a variety of users.

● If anyone in the area would like to be involved and work with the group, please contact the project leader, Gill McCulley on 01457 870364 email: gillmcculley@yahoo.com

Getting ready for canal anniversary Volunteer Jane Homer painting Lock 29 on the Oxford Canal at Banbury . PHOTO: STEFANIE PRESTON

IMPROVEMENTS were carried out by volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust at Cheddleton Top Lock on the Caldon Canal. This meant that the area was looking spick and span for events

celebrating the 40th anniversary of the reopening of the Caldon Canal on September 28. A notice board was cleaned, the handrails around the spill weir were given two coats of paint and the balance beams, paddle posts and lock bollards were also painted.

FORTHCOMINGWORK PARTY EVENTS 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.

Saturday, November 1

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch: Monthly work party at various locations alongside the Shropshire Union Canal in the Chester area. 10am-4pm. Work will include painting and vegetation clearance. Contact Mike Carter 07795 617803, mike.carter@waterways.org.uk

Saturday, November 1 and every Wednesday

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

Sunday, November 2

IWA Warwickshire Branch: Canal clean up in Warwick. 10am-1pm. Work will include removing rubbish, litter picking and vegetation clearance. Contact Brian Bayston 01926 831508, info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk

Sunday, November 9

IWA Northampton Branch: Monthly work party on the Northampton Arm. Contact Geoff Wood by email Geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk

Thursday, November 13

Sunday, November 22

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust: Monthly work party on the Caldon Canal. This month’s task will be replacing a gate and fence at Leek Tunnel, accessed from Woodside Lane, off Ladderedge, Longsdon, Leek ST13 7AN. 10am-3pm. Contact Alison Smedley, 07779 090915, alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk

IWA London Region: Canal clean-up on the Regent’s Canal in the Mile End area. Volunteers will have the chance to get on to the canal bed and clear it out while the navigation is de-watered. Places are limited so advance registration is essential. Contact Stefanie Preston 01494 783453, stefanie.preston@waterways.org.uk

Saturday, November 15

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch: Canal clean up on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Bournville, Birmingham. Contact David Struckett 07976 746225, david.struckett@waterways.org.uk

IWA Manchester Branch: This month work will be carried out at Newton Heath on the Rochdale Canal, meeting place is at Ten Acre Lane, Newton Heath M40 2TU. 10am-4pm. Tasks will include vegetation clearance, litter picking, painting and pulling rubbish out of the canal. Contact secretary@manchester-iwa.co.uk or phone 07710 554602. IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Trent & Mersey Canal Society: Monthly work party on the Cheshire Locks, Trent & Mersey Canal. 10am-4pm. Painting and vegetation clearance, meeting point to be confirmed. Contact Bob Luscombe 07710 054848, bob.luscombe@waterways.org.uk

Saturday and Sunday, November 22-23

Tuesday, November 25

IWA Northampton Branch: Monthly work party on the Northampton Arm. Contact Geoff Wood by email Geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk

Friday, November 28

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch: Work party in Congleton as part of the Congleton Station project. Meet at the Queen’s Head Pub, Park Lane, Congleton CW12 3DE. 10am to approximately 12.30pm. Contact Bob Luscombe 07710 054848, bob.luscombe@waterways.org.uk

For further information on any of these events contact: Alison Smedley, IWA branch campaign officer (07779 090915 or email alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk ) or Stefanie Preston, IWA branch campaign assistant (01494 783453 or email stefanie.preston@waterways.org.uk). Information can also be found on IWA’s website: www.waterways.org.uk



With a little help from their friends THE Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society was recently helped by nearly 100 teenagers from the National Citizens Service when they tackled the overgrown towpath along the canal at Ringley, near Bolton. This was the second weekend in which the NCS group had worked to clear back the overgrown vegetation blocking the towpath, uncovered the coping stones to identify the edge of the canal and removed trees at the edge of and branches hanging over the towpath. Over the two weekends a distance of nearly 1km was cleared – a superb effort by the youngsters. NCS brings together young people from different backgrounds and helps them develop greater confidence, self-

awareness and responsibility. It encourages personal and social development by working on skills like leadership, teamwork and communication. And at the Society’s recent monthly working party at the Nob End Locks, Little Lever, the object was to continue to uncover the lower half of the flight of six locks. The group of 16 volunteers worked over two days to reach the bottom of the locks, where they start the climb from the Salford to Prestolee section, up to the Bolton and Bury sections. The locks raise the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal by a height of 20m in just 200m. This major exercise involved clearing extensive growth of vegetation from the locks area

AN ABANDONED, 19th-century hovel on the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bathampton is being restored under a new project being run by the Canal & River Trust. The charity is working with a team of local volunteers to repair the walls and roof to bring the miniature building back into use. Typically used by canal workers for shelter, the hovel’s full history remains subject to debate. Archive research has failed to clarify matters, leaving heritage experts to rely on local rumour. Suggestions include that the hovel was used for storing Home Guard munitions during the Second World War or that it served as a toll office for the canal. It is one of only three original hovels left on the waterway, the others being at Saltford and Swineford locks to the west of Bath. The remainder have been replaced by modern buildings or have disappeared altogether. Volunteers hope to complete the project by November; the hovel will then be used for storage by the local parish council. CRT heritage advisor David Viner said: “The hovel probably dates back to the opening of the canal in 1810, but the purpose of this one is still open to debate because although it belonged to the canal company it doesn’t face the canal. “It is so important that we preserve buildings like this, as they are such an integral part of the canal’s quirky history. I’d like to thank our volunteers for all their effort so far and look forward to getting the work finished before winter sets in.”

The abandoned hovel which could have been used to store arms in the Second World War.


● To find out more about volunteering with the Trust visit canalriver trust.org.uk/volunteering

and its sides, as part of the Society’s Phase 2 restoration plan, where the locks will be partially excavated and the locksides landscaped to give an improved view of the area and prepare for future restoration. Working party officer, Stuart Hammond, commented: “This has been another successful weekend, where our group of volunteers have worked hard to uncover a part of the canal that has not been seen for many years.” ● For more information visit www.mbbcs.org.uk or look for Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society on Facebook.

Some of the Saturday team at the top of lock 2.

Hovel restored by canal volunteers

NCS members working on the towpath. PHOTOS: MBBCS

Clean-up on the Coventry Canal

Happy in their work are these volunteers from the Coventry Canal Society which was founded in the 1950s to preserve and promote the fiveand-a-half miles of canal from Hawkesbury Junction (Sutton Stop) to the city centre basin, which at the time was threatened with closure to make way for the ring road. These days the society still works to the same aims by regular canal clearances with litter picking and removal of rubbish and obstructions from the canal using its historic working boat Panther and volunteer labour from within its membership.


Rail workers on track at Audlem

Network Rail and Canal & River Trust volunteers are pictured during a successful and productive day’s work at Audlem. A huge amount of work was achieved including the painting of two complete sets of locks (Lock 7 and Lock 8 of the Audlem Flight) along with benches, fences and other canal infrastructure. Foliage was tidied and the Network Rail volunteers also tried their hands at lock keeping. CRT volunteer task leader Dek Owen thanked Network Rail for its support and to Glenn Young, Roger Birch and the CRT volunteers for their continued support and material supplied. PHOTO SUPPLIED



Opening up a new world to city youngsters By Elizabeth Rogers

YOUNG people from city housing estates are able to have their horizons widened through being introduced to journeys by narrowboat along the Oxford Canal and the River Thames. The Dovecote Centre in the Greater Leys area of Oxford has its own narrowboat, Biddy’s Dream, on which it can provide waterway outings that take the young people into a completely natural environment. Carol Richards, families’ services manager at the centre, set up the project as a means of introducing the young people to completely new experiences. The boat was bought in 2010 with the help of a £50,000 grant from Oxfordshire County Council’s Aiming High fund which supports children with disabilities, and further donations came from other organisations in the city. The cost of the refurbishment needed before it was set afloat was helped by further county council funding. The first excursions began in 2011 and the centre is now inviting other young people’s groups to share the use of the boat by hiring it. Income from the hirings is important in helping with running costs. “We want to encourage as many people as possible to use it,” said Carol. The Dovecote Centre runs many other activities for children from the age of five; those who travel

Biddy’s Dream has space for 10 children with two staff, and helmsman. PHOTOS: DOVECOTE AFLOAT

Enjoying a turn on the tiller.

on the boat are eight- to 14-year-olds. It has space for 10 children with two staff, and helmsman. There is a fully functional kitchen.

Safe environment

For Dovecote Afloat, the name of this initiative, the young people are collected from the centre at 9.30am and taken by minibus to the Biddy’s Dream mooring near The Jolly Boatman on the Oxford Canal at Kidlington, and are collected back from whatever destination the boat has reached at 3.30pm. They can spend the whole day out of doors, learning about the countryside. One of the regular destinations is Kidlington Quarry where they can search for fossils, build dens, climb and cook their own beans on toast. “They can be in a safe environment where they are able to enjoy the kind of things that we used to do, but which young people nowadays are not usually able to do,” says Carol. On the river, the boat can take them to rural and natural areas in the Iffley direction where one activity has been making nesting boxes for birds. There they are free to explore. Learning about water safety, and caring for the environment is all part of the four days of excursions in which each group takes part. “When I first considered the project, I thought this would be a way of expanding the young people’s learning,” says Carol. “It can open up a whole new world for them that they didn’t know was out there. Although they live in Oxford where there is plenty going on, they can learn that there is much more to be found elsewhere. “We find that being in the countryside, on the water and in the open air, does have a calming effect. They take an interest in the whole day and want to know more about the locks and how they work. “There is a noticeable difference in their behaviour on the way home from that when we started out. “The boat is a great resource.” ● Enquiries about bookings for Biddy’s Dream can be made to Carol Richards at the Dovecote Centre, telephone 01865 712299.

Bedford boat carries 5000th passenger of the year A BOTTLE of bubbly was presented to the 5000th passenger to board Bedford community boat John Bunyan this year – Mrs Cheryl Morris of Bromham. Graham Mabbutt, chairman of the B&MK Waterway Trust said: “We are delighted to have carried so many passengers this cruising season. We are now taking group bookings for the spring of 2015.” The passenger boat, which is owned by the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust and

run by volunteers, carries passengers on public cruises on Thursdays and weekends between April and the end of October. On other days and evenings the boat is available for charter hire for local groups, organisations and businesses. ● The John Bunyan cruises can be booked online at: b-mkwaterway.org.uk or through the Bedford Tourist Information Centre.

Passenger Cheryl Morris is pictured with volunteer crew members Chris Hillyard and John Blackadder. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The Wharf narrowboat is designed for both day trip and residential use. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

Grabbing the opportunity for a boating education This month National Community Boats Association chairman Derek Stansfield features The Wharf narrowboat.

BASED at Hatherton Marina near Cannock on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (Jct 12, M6), The Wharf narrowboat was built in 1994 at Birchills Boatyard in Walsall initially as a floating youth club. In 1999 it was converted to a multi-use vessel which means that the layout inside the boat is very comfortable and convenient for both guests and crew. Specifically designed for both day trip and residential use on the canals, it offers individually designed holidays, days out or training of a client’s choice. The boat is 71ft long and 7ft wide with full headroom throughout. The layout comprises fully equipped galley, central heating, hot and cold water, shower, toilet, TV, DVD, computer connections and 240v options. It has been planned to provide both group and residential accommodation to enable large group day trips (42 passengers) or sleeps up to 10 on residential use or for training. Transport can be arranged for groups or for local pick-ups at stations. Holidays, trips and training all start at Hatherton Marina and every endeavour is made to offer a variety of cruising routes tailored to meet client’s requirements. The skipper and crew that operate the boat are all experienced and qualified through both MCA and NCBA certification. For peace of mind and quality assurance the boat is owned and managed by the local authority and approved by MCA to operate with over the 12 passengers that normal community boats are limited to. The Wharf management can offer individual expert advice to help clients tailor the right boating holiday to suit their requirements. Holiday and trip aims and objectives will be discussed prior to arrival on the vessel and in addition, each day would be planned according to weather and the client’s particular wishes/needs. The day can start and finish at any time to suit its guests.

The layout is comfortable and convenient for guests and crew. Hot and cold beverages are available at all times, but if at any time you would like to eat out there are numerous cafes and pubs adjacent to the canal. Sample menus, comments, maps and guide books are readily available on board. The Wharf narrowboat is an accredited training centre and training packages under the NCBA governing body programmes vary from one to five days. The following courses are offered: ● NCBA Boat Handling ● NCBA Community Crew Course ● NCBA Certificate in Community Boat Management ● NCBA Trainer’s Course ● First Aid ● Health and Safety ● Risk Assessment ● Water Safety ● MCA Boatmaster Short courses (Water safety, fire safety, first aid) ● Contact details for further information: 01902 790121/ 07921 404757; fax 01922 658070 Email: ratcliffb@walsall.gov.uk Web: www.walsall.gov.uk

Meet the trustees – Derek Stansfield Acting chairman of the NCBA Derek Stansfield is also its director of training and has wide experience in the outdoors. Trained as a teacher specialising in physical education, he has taught in the West Riding of Yorkshire and the East End of London but quickly made the move into working in residential outdoor education centres. He has taught or managed centres for the then Inner London Education authority, City of Leicester Education Authority finally ending up managing Cumbria Outdoors for Cumbria County Council, a role that included four residential centres, a sailing base and the in-service training of teachers.

In 1996 he was one of eight appointed senior inspectors charged with implementing the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations. He retired from this full-time employment although he still undertakes inspections for them on a freelance basis. He also undertakes inspections for the Adventuremark badge and the Learning Outside the Classroom badge. He has climbed and walked extensively including Arctic Norway, the Austrian Alps and a climb up Half-Dome in Yosemite. A former RYA Yachtmaster with a commercial endorsement, he has sailed in many areas and worked as a freelance instructor for

Southern Sailing. He was also a RYA Training Centre for Day and Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster shorebased courses. Derek’s interest in canal boats came about while working for a locally based charity, the Skipton and Craven Action for Disability (SCAD) for whom he still skippers a boat.

● Follow us on Facebook.com/NationalCBA and Twitter @CommunityBoats. Blogging at http://blog.national-cba.co.uk





Parkhead festival

celebrates canal milestones

TWO landmark anniversaries were celebrated at this year’s Parkhead Canal Festival staged jointly by the Dudley Canal Trust and the Worcester, Birmingham & Droitwich Canal Society.

Getting ready to fill the beer tent are, from left, Peter, Dave Wheeler and Tim Newey from The Olde Swan Brewery, Netherton and Steve Bingham on the back of the boat. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Dudley mayor Coun Margaret Aston starts the duck race with, left, Dudley Canal Trust president Dr Ian Thompson and Coun Paul Aston, mayor’s consort.

The biennial event coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Dudley Canal Trust and the 80th birthdays of its historic tug Bittell and sister ship Pacific, built in 1934 by Yarwood & Sons of Norwich. Chairman of the festival organising committee Steve Bingham and Pacific’s owner John Pattle jointly cut a cake in the form of a narrowboat, which was then shared among onlookers. And on the Sunday afternoon following the duck race, the mayor of Dudley, Coun Margaret Aston with Steve Bingham and Dave Wheeler cut another cake to celebrate the trust’s 50th anniversary. As well as 72 boats, including 27 historic working boats and a similar number of classic vehicles and 10 stationary engines to browse around, there were regular boat trips to the

Jane Muntz-Torres leads boat horse Carolyn during one of the demonstrations.

Motor boat Aquarius and butty Ilford have been touring the waterways promoting the Ashby Canal with their cargoes of Measham coal.


South Portal of the Dudley Tunnel with a legging demonstration and a longer trip through the tunnel each day. Boat horse Carolyn – a fiveyear-old Shire – was in action on both days pulling joey boat GWR No 65 up and down the Parkhead Locks, using the unique pulley system which is fixed to the towpath of the top lock when the horse walks in the opposite direction to pull the boat out of the lock. There were also glass blowing demonstrations by Robert Farwell using a replica of the Stourbridge Lion – the first steam engine built in Stourbridge – as a furnace. Other steam engines included Russell Cook’s 1916 Foster Showman’s engine (ex-Pat Collins’) and five miniature traction engines from the Black Country Live Steamers. Chief executive of the Canal & River Trust Richard Parry, was one of the visitors on the Saturday, holding an impromptu question and answer session with boaters in the beer tent. He also called in on the Sunday afternoon when the highlight was the Great Dudley Duck Race started by Coun Aston accompanied by her son and consort Coun Adam Aston. Tickets for more than a thousand ducks were sold and the first prize was a four-day break on the WBDCS nb Cecilia which went to the holder of ticket No 224, Tim Brookhouse. Second was No 976 earning its ticket holder, Rob Carey, a £25 prize and with £10 going to the third, No 951, held by Paul Round. Musical accompaniment included a fairground organ and, on the Saturday afternoon, the West Midlands Fellowship of the Salvation Army band. Evening entertainment was provided by the Shady Band, Friday and at Saturday’s exhibitors’ party Dr Busker and the Dorset Rats, featuring Split Pin. Visitors to the event included a party of photographers from the Royal Photographic Society.

Historic working boat Ilford was legged through Dudley Tunnel with about 20 tonnes of loose coal on board to celebrate the 50 years of achievements by the Dudley Canal Trust in restoring the Dudley Tunnel and Limestone Mines. It is pictured emerging through the South Portal.

Passengers on Dudley Canal Trust trip boat Electra.

Demonstrating fender making is Joe Hollingshead who was born at Fradley Junction on canal boat Victory and is last in a long line of boatmen.


John Pattle and Steve Bingham jointly cut the cake celebrating Pacific and Bittell’s 80th birthday.

A colourful line-up of historic boats in the September sunshine.





Open days south of the Humber

Keppel – paired with the motor boat Mountbatten in Anderton Canal Carrying Company Ltd livery – nearing the end of its long-distance carrying days on January 20, 1971.

Appeal to fund Keppel’s new bottom By Harry Arnold

THE Etruria Boat Group has launched an appeal to replace the steel bottom of the historic ex-working boat Keppel; the butty that is paired with the

Canal & River Trust (then BW) chairman Tony Hales and Etruria Boat Group chairman Graham Watts aboard Keppel at the handover of the two boats to the Group on June 2, 2011.


motor boat Lindsay; which is also in the group’s care. Lindsay recently carried HRH Price Charles, The Prince of Wales, during his visit to Stoke on Trent. Keppel was one of the last Admiral Class boats built to trade on North West waterways; latterly carrying potters’ materials from Runcorn to the Potteries and returning with coal to Middlewich. It needs a new steel bottom and other works to repair the wear of 54 years of hard work. The renovation work will cost over £16,000, but with money already raised – including an anonymous donation of £5000 – just over £4000 is needed to start work. Many hours of volunteer labour will be put in to the project by members of the Boat Group, but the skilled steel work will be carried out at Roger Fuller Boatbuilding at Lime Kiln Basin, Stone,

which has a long-established reputation for its work with historic canal boats. Keppel is on the register of National Historic Ships-UK which has donated £1000. The Canal & River Trust (CRT) and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust has given help in kind, and local businesses have donated materials and expertise. Working with the CRT’s Explorer programme, at places along the Trent & Mersey Canal from Red Bull to Etruria, at Westport Lake, Hanley Park and Middleport, Keppel will be set up as a floating classroom and education resource. If the work is not done, there is a danger that this historic boat may be lost to Stoke-onTrent and this education programme will be put in jeopardy. Anyone wishing to help with the appeal can donate via http://etruriaboat groupvolunteers.org.uk/keppel -appeal/

TO CELEBRATE the 100th anniversary of the Humber Sloop Amy Howson the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society recently held public open days at South Ferriby, the tidal connection of the River Ancholme and the River Humber. Other restored keels and sloops attending this event were the society’s other vessel Comrade and privately owned Phyllis and Vulcan plus Syntan from the Beverley Barge Association and Sobriety from the Goole Heritage museum. Amy Howson was built in 1914 at Scarr’s Beverley yard for Scaiff’s and named Sophia. A change of ownership in 1916 saw her named I Know and in 1924 was bought by W H Barraclough, being named after one of his daughters Amy Howson. In 1976 she was acquired by the HKSPS undergoing restoration and re-rigging over a period of five years, being the first ship to sail under the Humber Bridge in 1981 and provides on-

The line-up of keels and sloops at the South Ferriby open days. PHOTO SUPPLIED board displays of the trade on the Humber. Amy and Comrade are available for crewed sailing parties of up to 12 people, details are available on www.keelsandsloops.org.uk

Coal barge re-creates arrival of first cargo DESPITE some heavy downpours on Bank Holiday morning, the afternoon brightened and people ventured out to join in with the anniversary celebrations of the Grand Western Canal’s 200th and the Tiverton Canal Co’s 40th birthdays. Throughout the day, families were able to do some pond dipping, take part in a treasure hunt, have their faces painted, or were able to jump on one of Wellington Bouncy Castle’s swing boats which added a real traditional element to the event. Also in attendance were the Friends of the Grand Western Canal who bought along their information stand to promote

their work along the canal. After the horse-drawn barge returned from its morning trip, Philip and Jacquie Brind, the owners of Tiverton Canal Co, invited guests to a small gathering held on board the barge Tivertonian. The guests were those who have been involved not only with the horse-drawn barge over the years but also those that have had a key role in the Grand Western Canal as a whole. These included the chairman of Devon County Council, Coun George Gribble; the original owner of the horse-drawn barge Tony Stockwell; author Helen Harris; local councillors and

Public given chance to travel in narrowboat hold By Colin Wareing

IN A partial re-creation of the old days when it was not unknown for canal boat holds to be cleaned out and works or Sunday school groups were treated to a trip along the canal, the Etruria Boat Group gave today’s members of the public the chance to enjoy the same experience. Over the annual Heritage Open Days weekend of September 13-14 the group ran four trips in their Admiral class narrowboat Lindsay from the industrial museum at Etruria to the recently opened Middleport pottery visitor centre and return with a limited number of folks able to make the return trip. The trips, booked through the

group’s website, were free to go on though donations towards the running and restoration of the group’s two boats were welcome. The two boats, the motor Lindsay and its butty Keppel, built by Yarwoods at Northwich in 1960, had been bought by the group from British Waterways in May 2011, and since then they have restored Lindsay into a condition where it can now be used to make these special trips for which Andrew Watts was the skipper. The group is currently holding an appeal for donations to the restoration of Keppel that is at Roger Fuller’s yard at Stone having a new bottom and footings fitted. www.etruriaboatgroup.org.uk

Welsh cob Taffy draws an original tub boat carrying ‘navvies’ canal manager Mark Baker and ranger Craig Saunderson in a re-enactment of the arrival of the first barge in the Tiverton basin in August 1814.


Devon County Council chairman Coun George Gribble addresses guests on board Tivertonian. members from the canal’s joint advisory committee. There was a birthday cake in the shape of Tivertonian made by Mandy’s classic cakes which was cut and shared round following speeches from Tony Stockwell, Helen Harris, Mayor of Tiverton Coun Sue Griggs, Philip Brind and Coun Gribble. Crowds then gathered on the towpath to watch a reenactment with canal manager Mark Baker and canal ranger Craig Saunderson playing the role of traditional ‘navvies’ on board an original tub boat which was loaded with coal and drawn by Welsh Cob, Taffy. This reenactment took place 200 years to the day since the first bargeload of coal was pulled into the Canal Basin on August 25, 1814. The BBC also filmed the event.

IWA Ipswich Branch celebrates 40th anniversary Andrew Watts of the Etruria Boat Group volunteers steers the exworking narrowboat Lindsay out of the top lock at Stoke-on-Trent on the Trent & Mersey Canal.


THE achievements of the Inland Waterways Association’s Ipswich Branch over the past 40 years have been celebrated with thanks to all who have been involved. IWA Ipswich Branch was founded in 1974 and since then has worked to promote and help protect inland waterways across Suffolk and later Norfolk. One key achievement is its work to establish the River Gipping Trust in 2007. This came from over 20 years of restoration work on the River Gipping, all carried out by the branch which eventually sought to create a group that would specialise in the restoration of this waterway. Today the branch still supports the group in a number of ways and the River Gipping is constantly being restored and improved.

Branch chairman Chard Wadley, second from left, with guest speakers Steve Haywood, Les Etheridge and David Stevenson.

IWA Ipswich members branch on a weekend away to celebrate the branch’s 40th anniversary. PHOTOS: CHARLES STRIDE Chairman, Chard Wadley said: “These achievements must be credited to the team of Ipswich Branch volunteers and committee members, all of whom I hope have enjoyed their time with the branch volunteering, making new friends and giving something back to the waterways as much as I have,” he added. Plenty has been going on to mark the occasion, beginning in

September, when members enjoyed a long weekend in Kent, all organised by the committee. This was followed by a celebration lunch in October which was attended by friends new and old as well as speakers Les Etheridge, IWA national chairman, Steve Haywood, waterways author, and David Stevenson, founder member and former chairman of IWA Ipswich Branch.

● If you would like to get involved with the Branch and be a part of its next 40 years please contact IWA Ipswich Branch chairman, Chard Wadley at chard.wadley@ waterways.org.uk or IWA branch campaign assistant, Stefanie Preston at stefanie.preston@waterways.org.uk or on 01494 783453.




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New floating dry dock swings into place at Cropredy Marina CROPREDY Marina’s new floating dry dock was swung into place without a hitch thanks to the excellent planning and efforts of the marina staff and Barry Tuckey and his team. The dock weighing 14 tons and measuring 75ft is now safely installed in the small basin at Cropredy and ready to receive its first customers. A dry dock is a narrow basin that can be flooded to allow a boat to be floated in, and then drained to allow that boat to come to rest on a dry platform ready for maintenance and repair. The dock at Cropredy will be able to accommodate narrowboats up to 72ft in length and will be operated by an experienced independent contractor, who will be announced

shortly. More images of the spectacular arrival of the floating dry dock at Cropredy Marina and being lifted into place can be found at www.cropredymarina.com Tim Langer owner of the marina said: “Its delivery was quite a sight to see, and all credit is due to Barry Tuckey and his team for getting it through the gate, up the drive, and craned into the basin without the slightest scratch. Based on our experience at Crick Marina, we expect bookings to be heavy. If you’d like to book a time slot for your boat to

be docked, please call the marina as soon as possible.” Cropredy Marina is an off-line marina, with first class facilities and excellent customer service, situated on the southern Oxford Canal, five miles from Banbury. Its central location for cruising, quiet rural setting and the fact that the attractive village of Cropredy and its facilities are just a short walk away makes it a great choice for customers and explains why it is just about full after only being open for just over a year!

● For more information on the marina, to reserve a berth or book a time slot in the floating dry dock please contact the Marina team on 01295 758911, email info@cropredymarina.com or visit www.cropredymarina.com

New marina on the Cheshire Ring THE new Oakwood Marina is situated conveniently between Northwich and Middlewich, on the Trent & Mersey Canal in rural Cheshire. Its mooring basin was formed by subsidence associated with wild brine pumping, to extract salt. This slow process has left what looks to be a natural body of water. Former uses of the basin include being home to abandoned work boats after the war and known locally as

the graveyard. Those boats were removed in the 1970s and the basin was used for fishing. However, the basin silted up leaving only 18in of water in places and the use and quality of water deteriorated. The water depth in the basin has now been restored, with a minimum depth of 1.2m and the basin retains its natural edges. The moorings have been accommodated with minimal

The basin retains its natural edges. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

disturbance, merely deepening the water by removing the silt. The works have brought environmental benefits and it was pleasing to see the local ducks, geese and swans all having new families while enjoying the deeper, cleaner water. The site is in a perfect location for a relaxing day on the boat, or weekend cruise, without the need to spend time queueing at locks or to travel further afield. Being on the Cheshire Ring, not far from the famous Anderton Boat Lift, the location is ideal for many popular cruising routes. Situated in the countryside, sheltered, tranquil and blessed by the presence of wildlife that makes it just that extra bit special, the marina is also close to services in the village if needed and with two good pubs close by. There is a 1000m canal frontage, but the topography breaks it up so the site can be explored. Road access is very good, national cycle and footpath routes fringe the site and you can walk into the village along the towpath. ● Oakwood Marina, Davenham Road, Rudheath, Northwich Contact 0800 0476 864, email info@oakwoodmarina.co.uk www.oakwoodmarina.co.uk

not a bad word and can help in many ways while boating. “Steering a narrowboat on a canal is not difficult, and if you make a mistake, they’re made of steel and are pretty resilient. But, if you want to do it right every single time and not end up in embarrassing situations where you’re hitting something, that’s where the training works. People can’t experiment when they’re out there steering a boat.” Work on the new centre started in October last year with the clearance of many square metres of waist high brambles and nettles. The building was in place with the roof on and watertight by Christmas and finished by the end of March. The inside of the building gives Willow Wren three times the floor space as its previous building while they now run three training boats as opposed to just the one, enabling courses to be even more practical. As a recognised RYA Training Centre, meaning it conforms to the highest standards of quality and safety, Willow Wren’s five instructors teach both recreational and commercial users for 52 weeks a year. The centre is also an MCA accredited course provider. Among the centre’s most popular

Sweet success enjoyed by Macmillan supporters

Caen Hill Marina and Melksham Community Hospital staff (estates and facilities) combined fundraising efforts to raise £157 from eating cake at their Macmillan Biggest Coffee Morning. It was the idea of one of the moorers, Adel McMahon, who works in the hospital and it proved a great success. Some of the moorers and hospital staff are pictured enjoying their coffee and cakes. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Technical tips to keep your boat ticking along

Princess Royal opens new training centre WARWICKSHIRE-based Willow Wren Training received a royal seal of approval, when HRH The Princess Royal officially opened its new state-ofthe-art training centre on September 18. Family-owned Willow Wren, at Nelson’s Wharf in Stockton, is one of the UK’s busiest inland waterways training centres, teaching hundreds of people from all over Britain to safely handle narrowboats and navigate the nation’s waterways every year. The Princess, who is president of the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) met the centre’s staff and volunteers plus people who have honed their skills at the centre, before taking to the helm of one of Willow Wren’s training boats, Peggy, herself and showing delighted guests exactly how it should be done! Situated on the Grand Union Canal, Willow Wren Training’s new facilities will play a pivotal role in educating both experienced inland helms and locals alike as to the accessibility and benefits of getting training. More than 200 people have already taken advantage of courses at the new centre since it started operating in April. Steve Vaughan, Willow Wren Training Centre principal and chief instructor, explained: “We’re serious about training. Now we’re on the main canal, people using the canal and towpath can see us and hopefully realise training is

The floating dry dock is craned into place at Cropredy Marina. PHOTO SUPPLIED

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. We hope each month’s advisory pieces will help reduce the likelihood of a malfunction and keep your boats ticking along nicely. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see published, let us know and we’ll ensure it’s covered. The Princess Royal takes the helm of Peggy watched over by training centre principal and chief instructor, Steve Vaughan. PHOTO: GRAHAM STONE courses is the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Course as well as more advanced and supplementary courses including diesel engine maintenance, Marine Radio VHF SRC and First Aid. During her visit, the Princess Royal also unveiled a commemorative plaque, being presented with a posy of flowers by three-year-old Southam girl Alexandra Mackay, while children from Stockton Primary School enthusiastically greeted her and waved flags.

● For more information about Willow Wren Training visit www.willowwrentraining.co.uk or to discover how you can make use of the inland waterways across the UK visit www.rya.org.uk

Keep an eye on your engine’s mounts

Engine mounts are extremely easy to maintain if you know how to look after them. However, they can cause catastrophic damage if not adjusted incorrectly or checked regularly. Note – the engine mount is a rubber shock absorber, the engine leg a metal bracket. The basic make-up of most engine mounts is a rubber base with a threaded bar through the centre, usually with two or three nuts for adjustment. The engine mount usually bolts to the engine bearer, with the threaded bar extending through a hole in to the engine leg. See photo. There is usually a single nut under the leg and either one self-locking nut

Never touch the top bolt, if necessary tighten the bottom nut up to the leg.


or two nuts above the leg. The bottom nut is used to set the adjustment height and the one/two nuts above are to lock the mount into place, once the correct adjustment has been set. Maintenance once the mount has been fitted is easy. Just regularly check and make sure the bottom nut is tight up against the underside of the leg. If it isn’t, then tighten the bottom nut up to the leg. You should never touch the top bolt as this will affect the engine alignment. If you check your mounts once a month they should never fail. However it is advisable to get an engineer to check them as part of your winter maintenance programme to determine if they are worn or your engine is out of alignment.



Doing it all themselves

Janet Richardson meets two boat builders who are making their mark in a man’s world. THE all-female team at Cain Narrowboats is more than able to meet the challenges of the competitive boat-building industry. With a full order book, Lainy Cain and Lisa Carter have a waiting list for their bespoke service, building four fully fit boats and two sailaway-plus boats a year at their base at Blue Water Marina alongside the Stainforth & Keadby Canal at Southend, Thorne, South Yorkshire. It runs in the family according

The galley of a customer’s narrowboat, moored at the marina.

to Lainy’s father John Cain. He told me: “I first entered into the boat building industry in 1994, having come from a building background; my father was a joiner.” Lainy took up the story: “I used to watch my grandfather at work in wonderment. I had been in the US doing house renovations and was self-taught.” When she returned from the States in 2004, her father was fitting a boat out and she started doing coach painting at the marina. “It took me three years working in the industry doing every job to raise the money to buy my first shell and start building and I set up the company, Cain Narrowboats, in 2007. I bought a shell, built a fully fitted boat and put it on brokerage; it took off from there.” Lisa, who has been a friend of Lainy for 20 years, started helping with that first shell and

Narrowboat shells, one is a Sailaway-plus which the owner is also working on.

Boat builders Lisa Carter and Lainy Cain. PHOTOS: JANET RICHARDSON works full time in the business, concentrating on the finishing – sanding, varnishing, dovetailing drawers etc – and making lots of coffee! Both based in Hull, they completed their NVQs in joinery at Hull College in 2009 and have their own workshop where all the materials are assembled and the joinery pre-built. They also have access to a local upholsterer and signwriter although they do the coach painting themselves. “We tend to use smaller companies and like to deal with British family run businesses because you can get more of a one-to-one relationship with your suppliers,” explained Lainy who splits herself between the workshop and the boatyard depending on the weather. Lisa usually works most of the time at the workshop except for at the beginning and end of each build. The steel hulls are supplied by Staffordshire based DP Bridgeman Boat Builders and Lymm Marina Boat Sales, in Cheshire, fit the windows and engines. The shell is transported by lorry and craned into the water at Thorne.

Although most of the boats Lainy and Lisa work on become fully fit boats, starting out as sailaways which come in as a ballasted shell with windows and engine, they do also fit in sailaway-plus orders where they complete elements of the build with the owners doing part of the work themselves. This in some cases can be a cheaper option but takes longer, depending on what time they have. “People sometimes underestimate the amount of work involved and I have yet to see anyone come in on their perceived budget or time scale,” Lainy commented. When I visited the boatyard in late September, Lainy and Lisa were finishing off a 57ft widebeam for an Australian couple as well as working on a 62.5ft narrowboat sailaway-plus for a customer based in Tibet. Lainy explained: “It takes us three months from start to finish to fully fit boat and offer four slots for fully fit boats a year: January-March; April-June; Julyand September October-December. We have it down to a fine art; when people approach us they don’t necessarily realise we are an alllady team. We get comments like ‘oh, that’s different, don’t usually see that’. “We never do boat shows but rely on word of mouth and our build reputation; the biggest thing is keeping costs down for customers by keeping overheads down, this enables us to keep the quality high without having to increase costs for the customer.”

Gentle touch

Customer service is one of the main areas which benefit from ‘the gentle touch’. Lainy explained: “We really pride ourselves on our customer service; that is why we do a set number of builds so we can take our customers over the process very gently.

Lainy and Lisa working on the widebeam as it nears completion.

The washroom on board the widebeam.

“Some customers need guidance through every single step. We are always here for customers, ready to help or answer any follow up questions, even years later, however, in many of the cases we continue regular contact and become very good friends with the customers; it’s a lovely part of the job. “We want people to enjoy the process of having a boat built. It is not stressful; we make sure there is a really good level of communication.” At the start of the process, Lainy looks at the customer’s preferred design layout and starts putting it together with them. People come with a sketch on paper or an idea in their heads, for instance the boat currently under construction has a wetroom for storing wet clothes and boots while other people want elements such as an on-board office. “We are very honest with our customers, if they come up with a bad design we tell them and show them the reasons why. try to be We consistent in everything we do.” Four out of the last five boats have had solar panels. “We do that as well, I don’t think there is anything that anyone has asked for that we have been unable to do or fit ourselves.” She continued: “Most people find the whole process quite exciting and they can visit their shell getting built, see it delivered and visit throughout the whole fit out. Afterwards customers always take them over, at Thorne, and ideally we like them to pootle about in the area for the first week so they are close by if they have any questions or need some advice, or just a reassurance that they are doing okay.” Although now land-based, Lainy has a small cruiser for leisure use but got a thorough grounding in boating as her parents lived aboard for 15 years. She is currently building them a widebeam – an area where trade is on the increase. “So far 10% of our trade is widebeams but it seems to be growing,” she commented. “With the state of the housing market, people tend to downsize

on to a widebeam rather than a narrowboat.” She also pointed out that a widebeam, minimum size 60ft x 12ft, can, in some circumstances, qualify for zerorated VAT build if it is to be used as a residence.

Best thing

I also met customers, Geoff and Susan Hill from Barnsley who are looking forward to the start of work on their boat in October. They told me: “We were looking at second-hand boats and it was only by chance that we came up to look at a boat here. Looking at price and workmanship we were highly impressed and settled for the October to December slot. This suits us as we want the boat to start cruising with next season, we have only had hireboats before. “We both agree it is the best thing we have agreed to do. It is the anticipation we have had, it is something to look forward to rather than instant gratification.” John Cain added: “I built our first narrowboat, and Anne, my wife, painted it; she also painted the traditional roses and castles. Every few years we would sell our existing boat and build a new one for our home. In 1998 I started to work for Blue Water Marina as the boat fitter and carried out boat maintenance at the marina, before retiring in 2009. Seeing the changes that boats have gone through and all the modern technology available now has been very interesting.” He added: “Both myself and Anne are very proud, not only of our daughter Lainy but also Lisa and all the hard work that they have put in to create their company. It’s lovely that we have a second generation of boat builders within the family.”

● Cain Narrowboats Ltd: Contact 07775 558121; email cainnarrowboats@hotmail.com www.cainnarrowboats.com



Composting toilets: the next big thing for boaters? Polly Player looks at the pros and cons of eco-friendly loos. IF THERE is one argument that is sure to polarise boaters’ opinions, it is the age-old debate of pump out versus cassette. However, what has been a very binary question for many years has taken on a new twist in recent times, with a third option coming to the fore and gathering a small but enthusiastic following among its end users: The composting toilet. So, after several enquiries from interested boaters regarding how composting toilets work and how viable the usage of one on an inland waterways boat is, I’ve tried to find out. Having spoken to several composting toilet users, I took a trip to The Canal Shop/Ecotoilets at Hillmorton Wharf on the North Oxford canal, where I met with the proprietor, Richard Saillet, the UK’s only distributor of 12v composting toilets for the boating market. Richard showed me the two models of composting toilets available with a 12v supply, and demonstrated their theoretical usage, as well as taking me on a tour of some boats that already have them installed and in regular use. The two models of toilets I viewed are the Separett Villa, priced at £660 for the toilet unit and an additional £115 for the urine tank, and the slightly smaller capacity Air Head, a complete unit at £799.

How do composting toilets work?

The principle of the composting toilet is simple, and already widely used in countries where mains sewerage is not available. The composting toilet does not require plumbing or a sewerage system connection, and so is well served to fulfil the needs of the boating population. When using the toilet, urine is separated from faeces before it even hits the bowl, due to the positioning of two separate run-offs that are deliberately placed to ensure that solid waste goes into one tank, and liquid into the other. While I was at first sceptical about how effectively this might work in practice, the seating position of the toilet itself

and the size of the two respective runoffs ensure that you would have to be trying very hard to ‘miss the spot!’ It is worth noting that the correct functioning of the composting toilet does mean that men must be seated to urinate, in order to avoid polluting the solids tank with urine. Toilet paper is also disposed of into the solids tank, leaving the urine tank housing liquid alone. There is no flush function on a composting toilet, as the size of the opening for the solids tank ensures that no mess is left in the bowl, and in fact, the addition of water or chemical cleaning solutions into either part of the bowl interferes with the natural process of waste breakdown, and can lead to unpleasant odours.

What happens to the waste?

Faeces and toilet paper all go into a large purpose-built bucket in the unit, which is fitted with a sifter to rotate the waste. A little cocoa shell added to the solids bucket helps to keep the waste from congealing. The urine runs into another container, which depending on the model toilet, is either part of the integral unit, or lies alongside of the toilet with a feeder pipe serving it.

How do you empty a composting toilet?

Composting toilets offer the convenience of emptying options that one normally associates with cassette toilet usage, accompanied by the added advantage of solid tank emptying frequencies more equivalent to pump out usage. Richard estimates that a couple living aboard full time using the larger Separett Villa composting toilet will only need to swap over the solids bucket once every 10 to 12 weeks. Once the solids bucket is full, it is removed from the toilet and replaced with an empty bucket. Because the process of turning waste into compost takes time, it is recommended to leave the bucket (with a lid on) outside to continue composting for three-six

months before true compost is produced. While this is the ultimately intended purpose of composting, the solids (at any stage of the process from being just removed to having fully broken down) can also be buried on private land with the landowner’s permission, or emptied at an Elsan point. The urine can be emptied at any Elsan point, or tipped out on suitable public land, as urine alone is classed as grey water for legal purposes, and is completely sterile. It is worth noting that the Canal & River Trust has forbidden the emptying of urine directly into the canals, due to the presence of nitrates and potassium, which encourage weed growth.

The Separett Villa composting toilet in the showroom. PHOTOS: POLLY PLAYER

Does it smell?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions regarding composting toilet usage, and one that often puts off the uninitiated who might otherwise consider using a composting system! The solids area of the toilet is served by a 12v fan that must run continually in order to remove smells and help to dry out the solid waste. Providing that the fan (which is virtually silent) is used according to the guidelines, composting toilets are essentially odourless. However, if the fan is left off for any significant period of time, the waste will begin to pong a bit, until the fan is reinstated and has had the chance to get to work. Providing that the urine tank does not have any water or chemicals added to it, the urine remains odourless. However, adding water or chemicals to the tank or the toilet bowl can lead to unpleasant smells until the tank is emptied.

How much power does the fan draw?

Understandably, anything that places an additional draw on the boat’s batteries is worthy of consideration; for many years, the concept of using composting toilets on boats was not considered viable, due to the draw from the use of the fan unit.

A child-sized separating seat for the Separett Villa composting toilet. However, the two models of readymade composting toilets that are available to buy in the UK both run a 12v fan with negligible power draw, being .06 amps per hour for the Air Head model, and .2 amps per hour for the Separett Villa.

How popular are composting toilets with the UK’s boating population?

While composting toilet use has yet to come close to matching the number of pump out or cassette users, their popularity is nevertheless growing exponentially. Richard tells me that within the last year, he has sold around one unit per day to UK boaters, and estimates that around 500 boats are currently travelling around with one of his composting toilets in place. It is not outside of the realms of possibility either that the proficient handyman (or woman) could build their own composting toilet to their own specifications, as one boater that I spoke to has already done successfully.

The Air Head composting toilet installed in a boat. Boaters on the Thames in particular have really taken up the cause of composting toilets within the last year, in large part due to the new Port of London Authority regulations that forbid the previously permitted use of sea toilets on the tidal Thames, and their endorsement of the composting toilet as a viable alternative. ● For more information on composting toilets for boats, contact Ecotoilets on 01327 844442, or visit the website: www.eco-toilets.co.uk

Spend less time making your pride and joy shipshape Reviewer: Phil Pickin

HAVING grown up in a family of caravan owners I’d become accustomed to members of the family regularly taking on the chore of cleaning the van, and with all of them armed with a pot of Silky caravan cleaner.

It never occurred to me that the company behind this staple of the caravanning community did anything else. Well it does and has very kindly sent us a selection of products to try. It’s true that the majority of the range of cleaning products developed by Silky are aimed at

Products from Silky’s marine range tried out in the test.

GRP surfaces but having said that there are a sizable number of GRP hulls on the waterways. No boat is immune to the problem of discolouration but it always looks worse on a white hull and that’s regardless of the location. UV and the natural organisms within canal, river or coastal waters all like to attach themselves to the hull with the result that we end up spending hours getting filthy cleaning. So it’s with this in mind that we tried out a number of the products made by Silky on the hull of a boat that had spent the majority of the season in the river.

Discolouration disappears from the white GRP hull.

As with any new cleaner it’s advisable to try out the product on an area that is out of sight just in case there is a reaction. Having tested these we found that the most effective on the test boat was the HiCut product, mainly due to the high level of dirt on the boat in question. With its slightly abrasive feel we found it able to remove much of the dirt and grime with the addition of some elbow grease! The slightly lighter products such as FineCut are more for use after the worst of the dirt has been removed and to add a polished finish.

The worst of the dirt was removed with the Hi-Cut product.

Green Clean was also used. This would seem to be more of a general purpose cleaner to be added to water. This would be ideal for waterside locations due to its formulation that reduces harm to the environment should it get into the water system. It’s pH neutral and safe for use on steel hulls. As mentioned above, these products would seem to be aimed at GRP hulls but there is no reason to suspect that they wouldn’t help to clean up a painted steel hull – just try a test area first. Also make sure you read the labels to ensure you are using the correct amounts and cleaning cloths. With slightly abrasive properties a number of products within the range do have the potential to leave tiny swirls on almost any surface but used correctly, and in the right order, the results when restoring,

Well known among caravanners, Silky is also good for cleaning boats. or just cleaning a GRP hull, should be good. It’s worth reiterating the manufacturer’s green policy which is to reduce the impact the manufacture and use of the product range is kept to a minimum. It’s also worth mentioning that Silky also makes a number of cleaning and associated products so visit www.silkymarine.co.uk

● Silky Marine has been manufacturing and selling boat cleaning products from Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, for over 40 years. They are available from major leisure outlets and other approved retailers.









Canalside pubs & restaurants


Compiled by Janet Richardson

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

Serving spuds at Maesbury

Santa specials busy on the Chesterfield Canal

CREATING a queue on the towpath at Maesbury Canal Festival were the snacks served by Suzie’s Spud Boat. Sue and Dave Williams have owned Kitty Little 2 for five years and Sue opened it as a roving spud and snack boat in June to meet fellow boaters and the public and to offer good food at a reasonable price, opening up at weekends. See Facebook at suziespudssnackboat.

THE Chesterfield Canal Trust starts its busy Santa Special season from the weekend of November 22-23 at Tapton Lock, continuing every Saturday and Sunday until Sunday, December 21. A present for every child or a mince pie and drink for every adult is included in the cost of £6 per person. Tapton Lock is close to the A61 at the Tesco roundabout, S41 7JB. To book, ring 01629 533020. Retford specials start every Saturday and Sunday from November 29 until December 21 and from Monday to Wednesday, December 22-24, from the Hop Pole on the A620, Welham Road, Retford


Riverside pub set to close

AN AWARD-winning riverside pub on the Derwent south of York is to close because of family illness, writes Geoff Wood. The Ferry Boat inn at Thorganby has won an enviable reputation for its real ales and its riverside garden. But family member Phil Williamson is now battling Parkinson’s disease and the family, who live at the pub, say they have no option but to close. Phil’s wife Jackie said it was sad because the pub reminded many customers of an earlier age with no music, machines or television.

DN22 6UG. To book, ring 07925 851569. There will also be Santa specials during December at: Worksop – Saturday and Sunday, December 6-7, from the Lock Keeper pub off the Sainsbury’s roundabout on the Worksop ring road S80 1TJ. To book, ring 01246 477569. Shireoaks – Weekends December 13-14 and 20-21 from Laura’s Coffee Shop at Shireoaks S81 8LP. To book, ring 01246 477569. Hollingwood Hub – Monday to Wednesday, December 22-24, from Hollingwood Hub on Works Road S43 2JP. To book, ring 01629 533020.


Santa meets young visitors on one of the Retford specials. PHOTO: JANET RICHARDSON If you want your event listed in our free monthly What’s On section email your entry to jrichardson@mortons.co.uk or use the events form at www.towpathtalk.co.uk/events. As always please check with organisers on the details of the event before setting out on your journey.

October 31-November 1

your own item for decoration. Contact Jane Marshall on 01270 811330, jane@day-startheatre.co.uk or visit www.day-star-theatre.co.uk

November 1

IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales: Autumn social and talk by John Yates, English Heritage and CRT Council, entitled Canal Heritage – A Journey. Brooklands Hotel, Mill Road. Shrewsbury SY3 9JT, 6.30 for 7pm supper. £9 per head to include talk and fish and chips supper (veg option available). Book with val.haig@waterways.org.uk by November 5 and pay cash on the door.

Birmingham Canal Navigations Society: Bonfire Rally at Galton Valley (AGM on Friday evening). Contact barryjohnson7@tiscali.co.uk St Pancras Cruising Club: Spooky Cruise to Kensal Rise. Contact cruise co-ordinator Caroline Stanger on 07956 231456 carolinestanger@hotmail.com

November 1-2

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

November 2

East Hants Boat Jumble: Havant Leisure Centre, Civic Centre Road, Havant, Hants PO9 2AY. Open to buyers 10am. Adults £3.50, children/parking free. Chaddock & Fox Promotions boatjumbles@yahoo.com 02392 381405 or 07887 771451 www.boat-jumbles.co.uk Old Union Canals Society: Meet at the Royal Oak in Naseby for a walk down Carvell’s Lane to Naseby Reservoir and feeder aqueduct and return. Meet 10.45am for an 11am start. Contact Bob Martin 01536 760165/07958 179080. IWA Towpath Walks Society, London: Regent’s Canal: Mile End – Limehouse. Starts Mile End tube station at 2.30pm. Costs £9, £7 student/concs. Contact Roger Wilkinson 02084 589476.

November 4

Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society: Life in the slow lane with Fred Dibnah, Alf Molyneux relates tales of his televised experiences helping Fred in the workshop and on the road. Followed by update on society activities. Garrick Theatre, Bank Street, Whitefield, Manchester (unmarked street off Church Lane behind Porada Restaurant), 7.30pm. All welcome. Contact Harry Taylor 01617 249725 www.mbbcs.org.uk

November 6

Birmingham Canal Navigations Society: Hydrogen – a future fuel for the canals by Prof Rex Harris. Titford Pumphouse, Engine Street, Oldbury B69 4NL, 7.30pm. Contact Phil Clayton 01902 780920. Southampton Canal Society: Daystar Theatre presents A Bad Penny. American supper supplied by members. Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth, Southampton SO16 7JZ 7.45pm. Tickets £10 each, contact 02380 675312 www.sotoncs.org.uk

November 8

Melton & Oakham Waterways Society: AGM followed by question and answer session and light refreshments. Sysonby Knoll Hotel, Melton Mowbray LE12 0HP 10.30am.

November 8-9

St Pancras Cruising Club: Poppy Cruise. Contact cruise co-ordinator Caroline Stanger on 07956 231456 carolinestanger@hotmail.com Day-Star Theatre: Roses & Castles workshop weekend at Audlem. No experience necessary, 10am-4pm each day. £75 (£25 deposit), materials lunch and refreshments provided, bring

November 10

November 11

IWA Chester and Merseyside: Taylor’s Boatyard – The Story Continues, new talk by Geoff Taylor. Tom Rolt Conference Centre, National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port CH65 4FW. 7.45pm. Bar and coffee-making facilities available. IWA Middlesex: Getting The Boat Ready For Winter by Tony Brooks. Hillingdon Canal Club, Waterloo Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 2QX. Doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start. Contact Lucy at middlesex.socials@waterways.org.uk

November 12

IWA Warwickshire: The Wilts & Berks Canal – The Most Ambitious Restoration Ever? Talk by WBCT company secretary Chris Coyle. The Sports Connexion Leisure Centre, Ryton-onDunsmore CV8 3FL. 7.30pm.

November 13

IWA Avon & Wiltshire: The Story of Roses and Castles – Robert Wright will talk about the origins, history and development of canal boat decoration. The Crown, Saltford BS31 3HJ, 7.30pm IWA Leicester: Talk by Brian Williams from The Friends of Charnwood Forest Canal. The Gate Hangs Well, Syston, Leicester, 7.30pm. Nonmembers welcome. Contact Andrew Shephard 07710 362952 andrewshephard@madasafish.com Macclesfield Canal Society: The East End of the Manchester Ship Canal on glass slides with Glen Atkinson. Macclesfield Liberal Club, Boden Street, Macclesfield SK11 6LL 7.30pm for 7.45pm. www.macclesfieldcanal.org.uk

November 16

IWA Warwickshire walks: Newbold on Avon. Meet 10.30am at Barley Mow pub, NGR SP488773. Contact 01788 891545. IWA Towpath Walks Society, London: Regent’s Canal: Islington – Hoxton. Starts Angel tube station at 2.30pm. Costs £9, £7 student/concs. Contact Roger Wilkinson 02084 589476.

November 17

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcester: Leominster Canal by Mike Woodgate and Martin Hudson. Coombeswood Canal Trust, Hawne Basin, Hereward Rise, Halesowen, West Midlands B62 8AW 7.15pm for 7.30pm. Contact Chris Osborn 01299 832593, jcosborn@btinternet.com Friends of Cromford Canal: My Farcical Career As Liaison Officer On A Cruise Ship by Colin Bower. Ironville Church Hall, 7.30pm. Bar and raffle. Admission £2, non-members welcome.

November 21

Boat Museum Society: Canals from the air in the 1920s and 1930s, Tony Conder looks at canals after the Second World War. Rolt Conference Centre at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 4FW, 7.30pm. Bar, raffle and opportunity to catch up with museum news. Everyone welcome. IWA Notts & Derby: The Berth (sic) of a Marina by Robert Neff, general manager of Mercia Marina. Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7HY 7.45pm, non-members welcome. nottsandderbys@ waterways.org.uk Trent & Mersey Canal Society: Last orders Lindsey & Keppel, the story to date by Andrew Watts of the Etruria Boat Group. The Big Lock, Webbs Lane, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 9DN 7.45 for 8pm. IWA East Yorkshire: The Adventures of Apollo by David Lowe. Methodist Church Hall, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 4BD, 8-10pm. £2 inc. refreshments. Contact roger.bromley@waterways.org.uk 01482 845099.

November 24

IWA Milton Keynes: Canal Fantasia 2013 by Karen Holowka and Philip Strangeway. Milton Keynes Village Pavilion, Worrelle Avenue, Middleton, Milton Keynes MK10 9AD (accessed off Tongwell Street V11) 7.45pm.

November 25

Derby & Sandiacre Canal Society: My Footplate Career by Stanley B Matthews. The Wilmot Arms, 49 Derby Road, Borrowash, Derby, 8pm. Admission £2 members, £3 nonmembers.

November 26

IWA Chiltern: The River Wey Navigation by John Gibson, navigation manager of the River Wey for the National Trust. Little Chalfont Village Hall, Cokes Lane, Little Chalfont, Bucks HP8 4UD. Held at 8pm. All welcome to attend. Contact 01932 248178.

November 27

IWA Chester & Merseyside waterway walks: Northwich. From The Bowling Green, London Road, Northwich CW9 9AA. This walk of about 3.7 miles follows the banks of the River Weaver through Marshall’s Arm nature reserve and crossing the river at Vale Royal Locks. OS Explorer 267. Map reference 657732. Starts 10.15am, open to non-members. Lunch can be booked on the morning.

November 28

Old Union Canals Society: Video mix presented by Harborough Movie Makers, selection of waterways-related films and videos. Great Bowden Village Hall, Great Bowden, Market Harborough, 7.30pm. Contact Mary Matts 01162 792285.

November 30

Old Union Canals Society: A walk past Laughton Hills to Laughton village and return by single track road. Meet near the Bell Inn, Gumley, at 10.45am for an 11am start. Contact Bob Martin 01536 760165 or 07958 179080.



The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse THE adventures of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse will delight audiences young and old at the Puppet Theatre Barge. Suitable for three- to eightyear-olds, these two famous cousins visit each other and both experience new sights and sounds, ending up all the wiser as a result of these adventures brought to life with music, songs and rod puppets.

Town Mouse meets the Billy Goats Gruff and other country characters while Country Mouse meets a town cat and a grandfather clock, and faces up to the noisy city traffic. Performances will take place throughout half-term week from October 27-31 at 11am and 3pm; on Saturdays, November 1, 8 and 15 at 11am and 3pm and on Sundays 2, 9 and 16 at 3pm.

● Described as “one of London’s more elusive treasures”, the Puppet Theatre Barge is moored at Little Venice, Blomfield Road, London W9 2PF (Warwick Avenue tube station). It is an established 55-seat theatre with all modern facilities. Tickets: Adult £12, child £8.50, concession £10, no booking fee. Contact the box office on 0207 249 6876 or online at www.puppetbarge.com

Santa to arrive at Audlem by boat

FATHER Christmas will be arriving by boat at Audlem Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal at about 5.45pm on Thursday, November 27. He’ll be on board Audlem Lass, the small boat that normally runs regular trips most weekends from the

bottom of the Audlem flight of locks to Overwater Marina, raising money for the RNLI. Santa will then walk to his grotto in the middle of the village, ready for the Big Switch On when the lights of the massive Christmas tree in the Square and the lights on the

Waterways on the Western Front

Country mouse meets a town cat and a grandfather clock. PHOTO SUPPLIED

CANALS were a vital lifeline on the Western Front during the First World War, saving millions from starvation, carrying tens of thousands of wounded to safety and even taking injured war horses in the holds of barges for hospital treatment. A fascinating new exhibition, Waterways on the Western Front, runs until April 12, 2015, at the London Canal Museum near King’s Cross. Using unseen archive film and photos, first hand testimonies and rare objects, it charts the vital part played by canals in contributing to the war effort. It also highlights the unexpected – how troops were billeted in empty lock chambers, how barges were used to carry horses, and how canal water was served up to troops to drink.

Lock keeper’s cottage is now resurrected on Olympic Park BOATING

A SERIES of free events and activities will continue throughout November at Newton’s Cottage, launched last month at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Celebrating the importance of the waterways to this part of east London and encouraging people to discover the history and heritage of Carpenter’s Road Lock, this large-scale sculptural artwork has been commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation in partnership with the Canal & River Trust. Curated by Moira Lascelles, the events will animate the artwork and encourage a variety of people to engage with the themes and narratives

associated with the project. Designed and built by Rotterdam-based art collective Observatorium, Newton’s Cottage echoes the form of the old lock keeper’s cottage that once sat at Carpenter’s Road Lock and is named after C Newton, the last lock keeper to tend this stretch of the canal. Built by hand over a threeweek period led by Kroes Construction, the structure straddles not only the lock but also the striking Heneghan Peng-designed mirrored bridge built in the lead-up to the 2012

London and Paralympic Games. The construction was completed in collaboration with local trainees from the Building Crafts College in Stratford, allowing students to benefit from experience of working on a complex site along with experienced carpenters. Ruud Reutelingsperger from Observatorium said: “We were inspired by the narrative behind the history of Carpenter’s Road Lock and intrigued about the human aspect of the lock keeper who historically tended over the waterways.”

● Newton’s Cottage is open until November 29 and is located at Carpenter’s Road Lock in the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. www.newtonscottage.org

November events November 8: Newton’s Floating Cinema Afternoon, Stratford Pier, 12-6pm. An afternoon of tours and screenings exploring the waterways of East London in collaboration with U P Projects. November 13: Exploring the Waterways walk, 1.30-2.30pm. Join historian and enthusiast Neil Morley on a walk to learn more about the waterways and their importance. November 23: Newton’s Narrative, 12-4pm. Join the students of the MA Narrative

smaller trees on most buildings are lit for the first time. The large tree, donated by a different local family every year, has thousands of lights. Audlem’s shops and pubs will all be open, giving visitors an opportunity for late night Christmas shopping.

Environments course from Central Saint Martins who will be leading activities that weave a narrative relating to Newton’s Cottage and the history of this unique and historically significant lock. November 29: Newton’s Dance, check website for times. Come and enjoy a performance specially commissioned by East London Dance responding to Newton’s Cottage. This immersive piece of dance will interact with the artwork and bring it to life for its final afternoon on the park.

The lock keeper’s cottage re-created in the Olympic Park. PHOTO: CANAL & RIVER TRUST

Read more about this exhibition, which also highlights the importance of the Royal Engineers who built the bridges that took tanks into the final offensive, in next month’s Towpath Talk. ● Admission is £4 adult, £3 concession and £2 child. Open Tuesdays to Sundays 10am to 4.30pm. Admission to the exhibition only is free on the first Thursday of the month between 4.30pm and 7pm. The London Canal Museum is on New Wharf Road, close to King’s Cross station, London. For more information visit www.canalmuseum.org.uk

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



Start your Christmas shopping here Fast, reliable, secure internet – everywhere! THE Kuma Wi-Fi Hotspot Package has been designed to provide canal boaters, tourers and travellers with reliable internet access, wherever they are for all their devices. This kit, which is easy to set up and install comprises of two parts – a high-powered, long-range wi-fi antenna which will pick up even the remotest pub or marina wifi connection, and a specialised repeater/router box which will re-broadcast the boosted wi-fi signal and create your own secure wi-fi hotspot on board. This means you can connect as many devices as you like, without any extra charges, even if they don’t have a USB port. Laptops, tablets and smartphones can all share one wi-fi connection. The repeater box can also be used with a 3G dongle meaning you really can get internet access anywhere! The kit includes both mains and 12v power supplies, mounting kit for the antenna and a 5m USB cable to connect the antenna to the repeater. The environmentally friendly Popaloo.

A convenient gift for the green boater POPALOO is a compact, space saving, chemical and water free, highly portable eco-friendly toilet that is made in England from durable and recyclable ABS. It uses a biodegradable, dry powder waste bag system that gels the waste. Powder bags can cope with both solids and fluid waste and will gel approximately one and a half to two litres of fluid. After use, the bag can be placed in a normal waste bin or

composted – or you can just dig a hole and bury it. Popaloo is 430mm square x 90mm high closed and builds to a normal toilet seat height of 432mm. Weighing just 4.2kg, it can cope with weights in excess of 27 stone. The Popaloo comes in a handy carry case, with 10 powder bags, wet wipes and emergency, toilet tissue.

● Popaloo, Sturton-by-Stow, Lincoln LN1 2AU.

Contact: 01522 687059, email info@popaloo.co.uk www.popaloo.co.uk

● The kits are available from acdctv (www.acdctv.co.uk or 01594 888007) and are normally priced £149.99 but are

on a special offer to Towpath Talk readers only between now and Christmas for just £134.99.

From Paddington to Braunston – the old Grand Junction Canal THIS completely new programme covers the old Grand Junction Canal, from its terminus at Paddington right through to Braunston where it meets the Oxford Canal. The Grand Junction Canal was arguably the most important of all our waterways, linking London to the coalfields and industries of the Midlands. When it was opened, it cut 60 miles off the journey time. Presented by canal historian and lifetime boater, Chris Smith and professionally produced, this is a great Christmas gift in full wide screen format. Whether you’re new to the Grand Union Canal, or a seasoned veteran, you’re sure to learn much of interest from this thoroughly researched and attractively filmed video from VideoActive.

The market leaders of inland Waterways DVDs, they are now stocked by over 100 outlets across the UK, including all the major canal visitor centres. The Grand Junction Canal, running time 75 minutes approx, can be ordered for £12.99 from www.canal-dvds.com, email toni@videoactive.co.uk, tel 01948 780114 or by post from VideoActive Ltd, Mill House Studios Higher Wych, Malpas, Cheshire SY14 7JR. Or if you want to push the boat out a bit further, VideoActive Ltd has put together value packs containing two DVDs for £18.98 and Super Saver packs containing three DVDs for £24.97. These are a great gift idea for boaty friends and relatives. See full details at www.canal-dvds.com





Gifts galore at Canal Cargo CHRISTMAS gifts to suit all pockets can be bought at the click of a button from online supplier Canal Cargo. From cards and calendars to children’s books and games, a cruise through all the products can save a stressful trudge to the shops. Canal Cargo’s online store is also the place to buy canal maps and cruising guides, goods from the chandlery and those handy gadgets which make great stocking fillers. Salmon is renowned for its quality calendars and for waterways lovers, the Canals and Waterways Calendar 2015, priced £5.99 is a great gift with high quality canal pictures and calendar space for appointments or notes. Sized 11.75in x 9.5in it comes complete with envelope and can be posted at the UK large letter rate. Most of us enjoy being by the river, whether messing about in a boat, dangling a fishing line or enjoying a picnic on the banks. But there’s so much more that you can do in and around waterways and The River Book (soft back price £14.99) shows you how to make the

most of this uniquely relaxing and invigorating environment. Author Tessa Wardley has played in and around rivers all her life. Here she shares dozens of ideas for relaxation, energetic activities, games to play, wildlife to watch and fascinating facts and stories about the rivers themselves. Or for those looking for something new to learn during those winter evenings, The Practical Knot pack (boxed pack price £12.99) by Steve Luck offers an invaluable guide for the enthusiast as well as the knot novice. With two pieces of rope and a wide range of useful knots, the step-by-step instruction book shows you exactly how to tie each knot, bend, hitch or lashing, and the two ropes in different colours are ideal for practising. In no time you’ll be a knot expert! A wonderfully illustrated book Canal 250 – The Story of Britain’s Canals (hardback price £17.99) by Anthony Burton is a must-have for all canal enthusiasts. It covers the entire history of the canal network from the glorious early days, through the years of decline caused by rail and then road competition, up to the subsequent revival of the canals as leisure routes. When a young English nobleman was thwarted in love he abandoned the court, retired to his estate near Manchester and built a canal to serve his coalmines. The Bridgewater Canal was the sensation of the age and led others to follow the example of the enterprising Duke of Bridgewater. From his starting point in 1760, over the next half-century Britain was covered by a network of waterways that became the lifeblood of the Industrial Revolution. This is the story of 250 years of history on those canals, and of the people who made and used them. The book tells of the great engineers, such as Telford, Brindley and Jessop and of the

Locks and chocs – a winning combination FOR safety and comfort, two hands are better than one when working around locks. Whether it’s climbing up and down ladders or crossing the lock, a windlass holster will leave you with both hands free. With five different styles of holster, four colours, and up to eight patterns, there’s sure to be one to suit everybody. If you need a belt to go with your windlass holster, or just to hold your trousers up www.daveonanon.com can supply that as well in a choice of patterns, colours, buckles and sizes. When the boating is done for the day why not put your feet up with a

box of luxury chocolates, handmade in butty Chocanon. Made using chocolate from around the world, fresh fruit purees, fresh herbs, spices and nuts, and if needed a bit of honey and alcohol, the full flavours can shine through without all the chemicals but this does shorten the shelf life, so why not indulge yourself? With an ever changing selection of fillings, including Fig & Whisky, Cherry & Maple, Green Cardamom, Mango & Coconut, Tangerine & Champagne and many more in between, there are always new flavours to try.

● To see the full range of windlass holsters and belts visit www.daveonanon.com For chocolates go to www.chocanon.com Or if you are out cruising, keep a look out for nb Anon and Chocanon. Their location can always be found on the ‘contact us’ page of ether website

industrialists, such as Wedgwood and Arkwright who promoted the canals they built. It also tells the story of the anonymous navvies who dug the canals, the men and women who ran the boats and the workers who kept the canals running.

● Order online at www.canalcargo.co.uk or call 0208 399 0486.

If you are out cruising, keep a look out for nb Anon and butty Chocanon

W arw ick Top Lock , Low erCape, W arw ick CV34 5D P

Tel: 01 926 4 1 0588

Em ail: alan@ getk notted .co.u k

W eb : w w w .getk notted .co.u k

N o thing T o o B ig o rSm all Ro p e do o r sto p s, av ailable sm all, m edium and large fro m £19 .0 0

Fenderkit, inc luding bo o k £2 5

An ideal bo ating gift c o ntaining C o lin Jo nes’ guide to m aking fenders and all the ro p e yo u need to m ake yo urfirstside fender.



Cutting down while on the cut By Les Heath

HOW many boaters out there would love to stop smoking but are finding it too difficult to muster up the willpower? Well now the answer is on its way in the form of trading narrowboat Islonian which carries the secret of cutting down on the cut – or stopping altogether. Gone are the clouds of blue smoke associated with smoking in the past – The Vapes Boat brings only vapours, thanks to the efforts of Sheila Wilson and Jim Smith whose dream to bring ‘something different’ to the canals has been welcomed by the Canal & River Trust. With a background of family canal holidays, the couple decided to take their lives on to the water and started trading with The Vapes Boat in October last year. Since then they have ‘never looked back’. They realised there was a gap in the market and, enhanced by Jim’s own efforts to stop smoking, the floating business began to snowball. Sheila carried out extensive research and found a supplier who ‘ticked all the boxes’ – slightly more expensive but much better quality and safer than inferior products.

The Vapes Boat has already been to many floating markets and festivals in its short time of trading and has more planned. “Some were really good and we will definitely be going back,” said Sheila who wants to also target canalside pubs. “We will be contacting pubs on the cut, use their moorings and, hopefully, get their customers off cigarettes. This should get their customers out of the smoking area and back into the pub to spend more money – keeping them happy, us happy and the publicans happy.”


● For free help and advice contact the Vapes Boat on 07851 142236 or nb.islonian@gmail.com

Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ editorial@towpathtalk.co.uk

Travelling the waterways Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

LIVING on a boat with its many ups and downs for a couple and their motley crew of cats has led to an enjoyable book for waterway lovers – Canals, Cats and Catastrophes. Author Margaret Awty-Jones lived on Rainbow 11 for nine years with husband Peter during the

Free advice

The Vapes Boat also offers free advice to those thinking of taking this step and provides a postal service to enable boaters to receive supplies at any time. With Christmas just round the corner The Vapes Boat offers a variety of gift ideas from starter kits to electronic pipes and even decorative lanyards to hold the e-cigarettes. Their e-liquids are manufactured in the UK using only the purest pharmaceutical grade nicotine and the finest flavouring ingredients – with a wide variety of flavours.

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

1990s, setting off from Skipton and travelling thousands of miles of the waterways. Canals, Cats and Catastrophes is available online at www.ypdbooks.com or mersemanbooks@gmail.com or from the author Mrs M Awty-Jones, 20 Bawhead Road, Earby, Barnoldswick, Lancs BB18 6PE, £12.99 (freepost and packing).

Watery words Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

IT IS amazing how many of our everyday sayings have a nautical origin. A fascinating little pocket book of over 200 everyday phrases, like ‘cock-ups’ and ‘black books’, which have found their way ashore, was compiled by Bill Beavis, a seaman turned journalist, and maritime historian Richard McCloskey.

It is an old favourite, first published over 30 years ago. Our vocabulary is steeped in the language of the sea and this charming compilation is well worth a browse through or will make a great present. Salty Dog Talk, The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions, is published by Adlard Coles Nautical in softback, priced £8.99. ISBN: 978-1-4729-0798-1

The coming of the canals Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

AN INTERESTING and very readable book comes from the pen of canal historian Peter Deeley, who has spent his working life in journalism. This is the fascinating and very human story of the impact on local people of the coming of the Oxford Canal, 1790, and the GWR, 1850, to

north Oxfordshire, the Cherwell Valley and the village of Lower Heyford. How Remote Was Our Valley Before Canal and Railway is in softback, priced £6.25, including p&p, by cheque or postal order, available from the author and publisher Peter Deeley, 2 Knapton’s Croft, Lower Heyford OX25 5NR, email peter.deeley 357@btinternet.com

North East Canals in the spotlight Reviewer: Gay Armstrong

LATEST in the popular Through Time series is North East Canals with a fascinating selection of photographs tracing some of the many ways in which the North East canals have changed and developed over the last century. With a broad and varied array of historic and modern photographs and insightful commentary, the book covers the Aire & Calder, Jim Smith and Sheila Wilson hope to take The Vapes Boat to canalside pubs.


A nostalgic journey through paddle steamer history Reviewer: Janet Richardson

PADDLE steamers were a memorable feature of my childhood and teens as our family made regular crossings on the ‘Castles’ from New Holland to Hull in the days before the Humber Bridge. I couldn’t wait to delve into John Hannavy’s book The Once-Ubiquitous Paddle Steamer with its colourful jacket photograph of PS Maid of the Loch – the largest paddle steamer to sail on a British inland waterway and now a visitor attraction at Balloch Pier on Loch Lomond. And I wasn’t disappointed, finding pictures of paddle steamers Tattershall Castle and Wingfield Castle now respectively a Thames-side floating restaurant and exhibit at Hartlepool Maritime Experience. Sadly the Lincoln Castle was broken up in 2010 despite a rescue bid by a preservation group and local protests at Grimsby’s Alexandra Dock. On a happier note, another of the paddle steamers featured in the book, PS Kingswear Castle which, after many years on the Medway, returned last year to its home waters on the River Dart where it is still in steam and the last seagoing paddle steamer currently still sailing is PS Waverley which celebrates 40 years of operational preservation in 2015. Hopes to complete the restoration of Dunkirk veteran PS Medway Queen at Gillingham have been hit by lack of funding and as we went to press, the Medway Queen Preservation Society made an urgent appeal for financial help. As the book’s name suggests, paddle steamers were once a common sight on lakes, lochs, rivers and coastal resorts but by the 1950s their popularity was starting to be eclipsed by the growth in motoring holidays and, like the steam trains, they started to disappear. Author and steam enthusiast John Hannavy, who until retirement was professor in photography and photographic history at the University of Bolton, does not claim to have written a comprehensive history. But his series of snapshots of the story of the paddle steamer over the last 200 years, illustrated by historical images and his own photography make this a fascinating and informative read. The Once-Ubiquitous Paddle Steamer is published by Halsgrove, hardback 144 pages, priced £9.99. It is available from local stockists or from the publisher on 01823 653777, www.halsgrove.com ISBN: 978-0-85710-092-4

Calder & Hebble, Huddersfield Broad Canals, Dearne & Dove and Barnsley and follows on from previous titles by specialist author and canal historian Ray Shill. It promises a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in this region and its long-established waterway infrastructure. North East Canals Through Time is published by Amberley in softback, priced £14.99. ISBN: 978-1-4456-3321-3

Amazing images for nature lovers

Reviewer: Phil Pickin

ALTHOUGH the average narrowboat doesn’t have a coffee table that’s no reason to overlook the wonderful fifth collection of images that go to make up this impressive coffee table photo book. British Wildlife Photography Awards Collection 5, produced by AA publishing, features both the winners and those who were highly commended entrants of the British Wildlife Photography’s annual awards. This year’s winners are both professional and amateur photographers and include both stills and HD video and, in an effort to encourage young people into photography and a love of wildlife, there is also a junior category. In all there are 12 separate categories covering everything from marine life and animal behaviour to creepy crawlies and urban wildlife. This year’s winner is Lee Acaster, whose image ‘Urban Tourist’ features a greylag goose against the backdrop of a stormy London cityscape, taken by the Thames. Lee said: “I was set up for shooting a stormy cityscape with a manual focus wide angle lens on when I came across the greylag goose sat on the river wall. Expecting it to fly away as I got nearer I was surprised to find that it was very happy to stay where it was, even when I got very close. “It was technically incredibly difficult to get the shot, holding a flash out in one hand and my camera in the other, trying to focus on the goose by moving closer to him without

scaring him away. I ended up being just a few inches away from him for the final image. He was still happily stood on the wall as I left, probably wondering what on earth the strange man with the flashing light had been doing.” Now in their fifth year, the British Wildlife Photography Awards were established by Maggie Gowan to recognise the talents of wildlife photographers working in Britain, while at the same time highlighting the great wealth and diversity of Britain’s natural history. Chris Packham presented the award and has said: “Anyone passionate about protecting and preserving wildlife will be inspired by the Awards, which in their fifth year have done more than any other award to raise the profile of British wildlife.” The boating community are, by and large, nature lovers. Something that probably comes from the many hours spent in close proximity to wildlife while cruising the waterways. If you love wildlife and enjoy seeing amazing images then I can highly recommend this book. British Wildlife Photography Awards 5, hardback, is available on Amazon £17 with free delivery. For more details visit www.bwpawards.org

Alongside the book, the winning images are being exhibited during a nationwide tour which can be seen at the following venues: Nature in Art, Gloucestershire, to November 16, 2014 Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, December 18, 2014 to March 8, 2015 ● Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, January 15 to March 15, 2015 ● Moors Valley Country Park, Dorset, March 21 to May 4, 2015 ● Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire, May 16 to July 12, 2015 ● Aberystwyth Art Centre, Wales, May 23 to July 18, 2015 ● Battleby Conference Centre, National Trust for Scotland, July 19 to end of August 2015 Further venues may be added, check the website ● ●

Lee Acaster’s winning image of a greylag goose against the London skyline.



BITS & BOBS GREETINGS! Our theme for Thanksgiving – our favourite American holiday – is a celebration of kindnesses. On the cut we are constantly asking questions or being given helpful information. We get pointed to the best bargain charity shops or happily directed to the most jampacked used-book shops. We are cheerfully shown a shortcut through the hedge for the most direct route to a grocery store or, failing that, told which bus to take to our destinations. So, we give thanks this year for the kindness of the guardian angels we meet while cruising.

by Rexx & Phill

November top tip Speaking of friends, my best friend is Phill and he says his best friend is me. When we chug during the summer, we do it as a ‘divide and conquer’. We work both ends of the boat as separate stations, me at the bow as a lookout with my binoculars and Phill at the stern steering us through the vicissitudes of the canals. When we moor we have two set-ups for mooring or standing by. Phill has a set at the stern and I have my own set at the bow. That means stakes, mallets, windlasses, chains, hooks, flashlights, and even the white plastic

bag ‘socks’ that we tie over stakes for night-time. In addition, we have a spare set of everything in our step box on board inside. Why? Because when friends or relatives join us with everyone all excited, it is easy to forget and leave certain items behind and it is hard to turn a narrowboat around to retrieve mislaid equipment. You might ask: “Why the binoculars?” Well, to search for those elusive water points and to identify a ‘nice’ mooring space up ahead. Anyway: “A toast to you friend Phill and a toast to you pal Rexx.”

Prep time 15 minutes, cook time 10 minutes, serves 2 Allow one night before cooking to marinate the chicken Schnitzel ● Bottle of vinegar/oil salad dressing ● 2 skinned, boneless turkey breasts ● A scoop of flour ● 2 eggs ● 4 tbsp cream ● 1 tbsp rum ● 2 boxes flavoured stuffing mix ● 3 tbsp vegetable oil ● 3 tbsp butter ● Salt/pepper to taste

Day before: On a plastic cutting board set up turkey fillet bashing station. Lay a piece of cling film on the board and have a second piece ready to serve as a cover. Slice turkey breasts in half so that you get two for one. Lay the pair of fillets out on a piece of cling film and cover with a second sheet; wallop with a mallet or a rolling pin until each is 10mm (1⁄2in) thick. Repeat with the second piece. Place the fillets in a couple of large bags and douse with vinegar and oil salad dressing (1⁄2 bottle for each bag) before sealing the bag. Leave them to swim overnight. Put the raisins in a small bowl with the rum to soak overnight as well. Day of feast: Set up the three parts of the breading

By Polly Player

station. For station one, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. For station two whisk together eggs, cream, and rum. For station three tip out one box of stuffing mix that has been crushed. Heat grill for corn. Dredge each flattened fillet in flour mixture, then dip in egg mixture, then press into the stuffing mix. Repeat for the second fillet. Place the pieces on wax paper and stack in the refrigerator to chill (this helps set the coating). Next, grate the carrots and dice the apples into a bowl. Mix the orange zest and juice together with the mayonnaise, fold into the carrot and apple mixture, cover, and set aside in a cool place (not difficult in November). Fold in the soaked raisins just before serving. Put a cast iron skillet and a grill pan on to heat. To the skillet add the oil and butter; while it is coming up to sizzle temperature halve the ears of sweetcorn and place them on the grill pan. Add the fillets to the skillet. Keep an eye on both of these products; after about 3 min roll over the sweetcorn, flip the fillets. Set the fillets on kitchen towels to drain. Slather the sweetcorn with butter. Toss the raisins with the salad. Plate with the turkey.

Phill’s Paninis

Prep time 5 minutes, serves 2 We experience as many random acts of kindness back in our port as we do out on the cut. This Thanksgiving we also celebrate the frequent help we are given by our dock buddies. Boaters in general are quick to help each other, but the assistance of our neighbours is gold (and we all know how valuable that is these days). A big tip of the hat of gratitude to those who have helped us back into our slip amid the wind and tricky current, extricating us from the clutches of narrowboat electrics and elusive engine lore. Not to mention pet sitting, schlepping provisions and scraping the ice off your neighbours’ part of the dock. So, while we toast our leftover turkey in paninis on the grill, we also raise our glasses in a toast to our boating friends and neighbours. ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Edible Eastside:

A hidden canalside treasure in Birmingham

Turkey schnitzel

Carrot, apple, raisin salad ● 1 apple per person ● 1 carrot per person ● ½ cup golden raisins ● 2 tbsp rum ● Zest/juice of one orange ● 2 tbsp mayonnaise ● A pinch of ground, black pepper ● One piece of sweetcorn per person ● Butter/salt/pepper to taste

An urban allotment on a miniature scale. PHOTO: POLLY PLAYER

BIRMINGHAM is, of course, one of the most interesting historical homes of the UK’s canal network. Many a happy hour can be whiled away exploring either by boat or on foot, with more than 100 miles of the original network still remaining navigable today. Along the length of the network are lots of hidden gems in the form of old abandoned arms, wharfs and warehouses, some of which are decaying gently and some of which have been maintained, revamped or repurposed into enterprises as diverse as bars and cafes, artists’ studios, and modern industrial units. One of the reasons behind why large swathes of historical canalside buildings in Birmingham are not being used to their full potential is down to various building protection orders and listings, which prohibit the alteration or modernisation of certain buildings outside a fairly narrow remit of rules. These are designed to preserve the architecture and appearance of some of the city’s historical canalside sites in perpetuity, and the associated cost of managing and operating such buildings within the guidelines is often prohibitive. This has, however, in its turn, led to some fairly innovative approaches to the usage of such spaces, and on a recent trip along the city’s canals, I was introduced to one such endeavour: Edible Eastside.

Urban agriculture

Edible Eastside opened to the public in March 2012 after nine months spent clearing the site, with the intention of creating a demonstration of urban agriculture in an inner-city environment, and what could be accomplished for communities by doing this. It occupies the site of a former gas filling station next to the old Fellows,

Morton & Clayton offices and warehouses at 122, Fazeley Street, Digbeth, backing on to the Grand Union Canal where it meets the Digbeth Branch Canal, complete with its own mooring. Styled as a contemporary pop-up garden, Edible Eastside can best be described as an urban allotment on a miniature scale, and consists of rows of small raised wooden beds, each of which can be rented on a monthly or annual basis, allowing people to grow their own plants, flowers and food. As well as offering unique and affordable compost beds to allow people to grow their own food, some of which are rented by local cafes and restaurants to grow fresh produce to support their menus, Edible Eastside also hosts a range of events throughout the year. Al fresco cinema nights, artists’ workshops, barbecues, and educational courses in subjects such as gardening, bread making and foraging are just a few of the scheduled events in Edible Eastside’s annual calendar. If you happen to be boating through Birmingham it is well worth stopping off for a look around the site and the outside of the adjacent FMC buildings. You can moor up right outside (although deep-drafted boats may be better advised to moor further up, as the bankside is rather shallow immediately outside of the site) on their own dedicated mooring. A warm welcome from the on-site gardener, Peter Hennesey, awaits you during opening hours, and you will almost certainly be greeted when mooring up by Chip, Peter’s very friendly Collie-cross dog, who will encourage you to play catch with him for as long as you are willing. The site is open to the public from 11am-4pm during the warmer months, and by appointment the rest of the year. Plot holders are issued with their own key to the site, with 24-hour yearround access.

2 paninis 1 cup cooked, shredded, turkey 4 slices bacon, fried Shredded cabbage 2 radishes, shredded Honey mustard salad dressing 4 slices mozzarella cheese A pint or two of stout

Put a cast-iron skillet or a griddle on to heat. Fry the bacon and remove the slices to a kitchen towel to drain. Add the shredded turkey to the skillet and heat through to soak up the bacon grease. Coat the insides of the panini halves with honey/mustard dressing. Select two of the halves and, dressing side up, build the sandwich placing the items in the following order: a slice of mozzarella, slices of turkey, a layer of cabbage and radishes, two bacon strips, another slice of mozzarella,

then the ‘lid’ with dressing side down. Press the halves together to solidify the sandwich. Put the two sandwiches on the grill pan and put the iron skillet on top of them. When the cheese just starts to melt out, flip to brown the other side, top with the skillet and continue to grill; when the cheese really starts to ooze out these beauties are done. Fare well.

Edible Eastside viewed from the canal. PHOTO: BOB GHOSH, K4 ARCHITECTS LTD ● For more information on the site, its opening hours or renting a plot, check out the website: www.edibleeastside.net or just drop in!





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Boats for sale

ADRASTEA 60ft trad narrowboat, Kelvin J2 engine, 4 berth, £49,950. Tel. Mark on 07960 147722. Wilts.

AQUAHOLIC Semi trad 50ft, 2002,sleeps 4, Isuzi engine, diesel heating, cooker, fridge, shower, cassette toilet, recently repainted and blacked, new anodes, exc condition, many extras, much loved boat for sale as we are upsizing photos on request. £42,500. Tel. 07990 651896. Cheshire.

BALLADORE 20ft unique all steel narrowboat, Kingfisher 6hp single cyl engine, BSC 2018, built 1976 Pete Brown, Banbury, 3 berth – cooker cassette toilet – fully re-plated 1993 – new weed hatch and further replating - new cooling system - hull survey - anodes and blackening 2012 – full history. Ideal holiday boat or cheap live aboard. £10,000 ono Tel. 07929 994379. Moored Coventry Canal, Nr Fradley jct.

BCN TUG STYLE BOAT 57ft, with cratch cover, built 2000, rebuilt Perkins engine an new PRM gearbox, unfinished project, a lot of materials to do the job included, 3 year vert, licensed until May 2015, £25,000. Tel. 07909 725742. Shrops.

CABIN CRUISER 25ft, fibreglass, moored on Lake Windermere, fridge, hob, grill, oven, hot and cold, toilet, sleeps 3, £6999. Tel. 075140 64583. Cumbria.

CLASSIC ENSIGN 1990, 32ft x 6ft 10”, Yanama inboard, 13hp, Z drive, h/c water, 2 burner grill, many extras, 3 way fridge, reluctant sale due to health, £6700 ono. Tel. 01427 717824. Lincs.

CRUISER STERN NARROWBOAT 59ft, 1995, new kitchen, appliances and upholstery, new professional 2k paintwork and Hull blacked 2014, new BSC, £35,000. Tel. Danny 07713 465791. Cambs.

DAWNCRAFT 22ft river and canal cruiser, 4 berth, very good condition, BSS Jun 2017, new curtains, cushions and upholstered seats, Honda outboard 7.5hp, new anodes, serviced yearly, hard standing from winter season, oven, grill, hob, sink, toilet compartmentm full canopy, exc cond, £4999. Tel. Mark 07934 418022. Warks.

EX OIL RIG GRP LIFEBOAT in original livery, 24ft by 9ft, low hours, Lister LPW3 engine, only run for testing purposes, 18 inch prop, hydraulic steering, suitable for conversion to cruiser/small live aboard, exc cond, £11,500. Tel. 07950 047489. E Lancs. BUCKINGHAM 25ft, Honda 9.9 HD outboard, BSC 2018, 4-berth, hot/cold water, shower, moored Lyme View Marina, Macclesfield canal, fees paid Dec, Canal licence end Sept. £6950 ono. Tel. 01942 894326. Man.

BURLAND CRUISER 27ft, 6ft 10” beam, blue/white, full BSC, licences, HD TV, stereo/CD, new foam mattress, fridge, new bilge and water pump, new cooker, 240 sockets, 240 hook up, 9.9hp Mercury 4 stroke engine, well worth viewing. Genuine sale. £5995 ono. Tel. 07982818063 anytime. 07982 818063.

CABIN CRUISER 27ft x 9ft , Fjord 1991, inboard 3 cylinder diesel, 5 berth, good runner, safety to 2016, canal tax April 2015, moored Doncaster, £4250. Tel. 07456 213196. S Yorks. FORD WATERMOTH 1300cc, inboard petrol engine, not used for approx 5 years, £100 ono. Tel. 02476 341880 or 07860 682225. Warks.

HARBOROUGH NARROWBOAT 33ft, a lovely little boat which would make a great live aboard or leisure craft for one or even two people, beautifully fitted out, recent Boat Safety, blacked and plated 4 years ago, moored Cowley, Middx. £13,995. Tel. 07787 108238; 01753 884924. Bucks.

HISTORIC NARROWBOAT 70ft BCN, restored to high standard, Lister Ha2, less than 100 hours running, solid oak floor, open plan, double bed, bath, plus trad backcabi, 11ft cratch, Squirrel stove and classic range, beautiful boat, £40,000 for quick sale Tel. 07961 579243; 01773 822205. Email: karenvanwoerden@ hotmail.co.uk Oxon. CRUISER STERN NARROWBOAT 45ft, new Beta 38+PRM, 120 gearbox, hull overplated and some rebottled, new diesel tank, weed hatch, maintenance free domestics, - ill health forces very reluctant sale! wonderful condition, £48,000 spent will accept £25,000 ono. Tel. Ron 07923 606564. Bucks.

HOUSE BOAT 57 x 12, fully fitted kitchen and bathroom with spa bath and pump out toilet plus small toilet in master bedroom, fully CE marked craft solid fuel Stove, cost new £120,000 we are asking £85,000. Tel. 07718 467684. Lancs.

MALLARD NARROWBOAT Fibreglass, 23ft, trailable, water ballistic, 8hp Honda, 3+1 berths, 3 burner hob and grill, s/s sink, Rinnai hot and cold shower, Shoreline fridge, porta potty trailer inc, £11,950. Tel. 01663 732989; 07773 910622. Derbys.

MERCUTIO 46ft traditional steel narrowboat, beautifully finished, BMC 1.5 engine, 1500w inverter, LED lighting throughout, 3 new Leisure batteries, hull surveyed and blacked 2012, exterior repainted 2012, BSC till May 2016, Morso Squirrel stove and Rinnai gas boiler, much loved home for sale. Tel. 07921 229726. London.

NARROW BOAT CRUISER STERN 35ft, built in 1976 by Faulkner Bros, 4 berth, BSC 2018, hull surveyed 2014, licensed May 2015, Engine: Lombardini, bottom re plated, moored at Tamworth, Staffs. Further photos and info at www.tamworthcrusingclub.org.uk £17,950 ono. Tel. 07811 605608. Staffs.

NARROWBOAT 42ft, BSC 2017, new kitchen, new showerroom with flushing toilet, brand new cooker and fridge, never been used wood burner, BMC engine 1.8, oak flooring, 4ft fitted bed with storage underneath and new mattress, never used, moored near Leeds 10 mins from city centre. £23,000. Tel. 07443 474107. W Yorks.

NARROWBOAT 62ft, built 2008, semi-trad reverse layout, light oak wood fit-out, granite worktops, full shower, pump-out toilet, 4 berth, two private cabins, good storage, beautiful condition throughout, exc liveaboard or pleasure cruising, 40hp, 3000 watt inverter, bottom blacked Mar 2014, £57,000. Tel. Gill 07830 755716. Leics.

NARROWBOAT 45ft inspection launch, one off Bespoke build, with beautiful lines and features, full interior refurb 2014, blacked and anodes Dec 2013, BSC 2017, front & back deck covers, BMC 1.5, serviced and new cooling system, many recent improvements, viewing recommended, £26,495 ono. Tel. 07730 126273. Derbys.

NARROWBOAT French@Peel, 45ft, built 1991, 2 cylinder Lister engine, solid fuel stove, gas c/h, 4 years BSC, 1 year BW licence, newly painted inside/out, moored Bunbury near Chester, £25,000. Tel. 0784 2097255. Cheshire.

NARROWBOAT 57ft, perfect liveaboard, Isuzu engine, inverter 2000, diesel heating, Morso Squirrel stove, full size shower, Thetford cassette toilet, fixed double dinette, dbl gas hob and oven, 12v fridge and freezer, fit-out in oak completed 2006, bottom blacked 2012, moored Barnoldswick, £50,000. Tel. 0792 9002563. Lancs.

OCEAN 30 5 berth, 1.8BMC, twin alternators, shower, toilet, hot/cold water, 3kw generator, cash e/way, £17,995 would consider p/x for narrow boat Tel. 07887 754861. Cambs.

PICKLEWIDGE CRUISER 40ft stern narrowboat, steel hull, fibreglass top, surveyed and £3500 welding done 2012, BSC to 2017, basic and comfortable, fixed double, sofa converts to single, wood burner, no gas, DIY shower, cassette toilet, 12v elec, £11,500 ono. Tel. 07463 799546. Beds.

PIPER NARROWBOAT ‘Piper’ 40ft narrowboat, 2009, semi-trad, beautifully fitted out, reverse layout, many quality extras, owned from new, ill health forces reluctant sale, £45,000. Tel. 07772 783527. Lying Nantwich. NARROWBOAT 57ft traditional style, 2004, 2-4 berth live aboard, Mitsubishi engine (heats water), PRM 260 gearbox, diesel tank holds 150 litre, water tank is stainless steel and holds 500 litres, newly fitted, brand new Villager stove and back boiler with heating system (Nov 2013), new inverter, will power washing machine, Thelford cassette toilet with separate shower, New World cooker, Lec fridge, oak wood interior, BSC Jun 17, hull last blacked and out of water 2013 August when sandblasted, newly painted with 2k paint, new anodes attached to hull and inspected, engine serviced Mar 2014, licenced until Oct 2015, £33,995 ono. Tel. 07955 442552. Bucks.

NORFOLK LASS COLES MORTON 45ft trad, needs a bit of decorating, been refitting, private mooring available at Shardlow. £20,000 ono Tel. Shaun on 07454155971 for more details. Derbys. NARROWBOAT 56ft narrowboat, built 1989 by Eastwood Engineers, Beta 43 diesel engine fitted 2008, 5kv Lister generator, solid fuel stove with back boiler, Reflex fridge, cooker, twin coil calorifier immersion heater, dry docked and blacked yearly, BSS 2017, great live aboard. Tel. 07881 658008. W Yorks.

NORMAN CABIN CRUISER 25ft, moored on Lake Windermere, live aboard, sleeps 3, cooker with oven, heater, fridge and toilet, ready now, £5999. Tel. 075140 64583. Cumbria.

NORMAN 20 Original gel coat, Honda 15hp outboard, recent service, new anti-fouling BSS, new rear seat covers, porta potty, £2950. Tel. 077910 34695. Cambs. HISTORIC BUTTY BOAT Forget me not for sale or exchange considered. Please contact me through my email myrtle74@icloud.com or txt 07462 568364 as I am out of country. Tel. 07462 568364. Warks. CABIN CRUISER 25ft fibreglass, moored on Lake Windermere fridge, hob, grill, oven, hot and cold, toilet, sleeps 3, £6999. Tel. 075140 64583. Cumbria. FRANCIS FIREMANS SEARCHLIGHT brassed, includes stand, 3 spare bulbs, mounting bracket, vgc, £250. Tel. 07971 694114. Cambs.

SEMI TRADITIONAL NARROWBOAT all mod cons including c/heating, 9 years old includes a secure mooring, 4.2 Vetus engine negotiable, £39,000. Tel. 07867 847989. Lancs.

SEMI-TRAD NARROWBOAT unfinished project, painted spay formed battened out, wired, Beta 38, new engine, gearbox PRM mechanical type 120D2 built by J. D. Narrowboats, 6 windows, 8 port holes, front doors cut-out for winds, back door with hatch, two side doors with hatches, the boat is on dry land, never been in water, never been used. Tel. 07711 116868; 01142 342815. Yorks.

SHARE FOR SALE in Dutch Barge (2003), 17m x 4m, private Owners Association, 3 weeks sailing per year, moored in Auxerre, France, fully equipped for cruising for 6, £8500. Tel. 07773 636219. N Yorks. NAUTICUS 27ft, 5-berth inboard engine, new, washroom, curtains, upholstery, complete refurb, BSC 2018, navigation licence, anti-fouled ready to go. Moored River Avon. £6950 ono. Tel. 01564 793818. Warks. JOSHER-STYLE NARROWBOAT Traditional, 62ft, very reluctant sale, lovely condition and good-looker, built WFBCo 1998, New Safety Certificate. Viewing essential but no time wasters please, £70,000 ovno. Tel. 01926 289489. Warks.

STEEL CANAL BOAT 11ft, Butty, workshop, storage shed, can be towed or pushed along, this is almost new (one of a kind) and very clean, currently on the Ashby Canal close to Bosworth, would make a great motorbike/quad/mobility scooter carrier. Tel. 07902 543855 for further details. Warks.

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. Cheshire.

TEDDESLEY 37ft, 1970, 37ft, 6ft beam, 2 berth, Yanmar single cylinder, well maintained hull and engine, cruiser stern with pram hood and cratch, licenced until end Nov 2014, BSC Mar 15, re-bottomed about 2009, blacked about 2011, steel hull with fibreglass roof, ply lined, new s/s water tank and gas bottle locker, fitted Greenwood stove, Belfast sink and Flavell 2-ring cooker, porta-potti, open plan and c/w all vintage furniture and fittings, 100w PV panel, £9000. 07949 965842. Macclesfield.

TIM TYLER BUILT SHELL and a 2013 fit-out by Cherilton Narrowboats, Shardlow Marina, 4 berth, 900mm carpeted and tiled flooring in shower, c/h, Webasto heating, blue with a hint of purple and cream coach lines, Beta 38 and only 99 hrs,. Tel. 07967 635665. Derbys.

TUG STYLE BOAT 57ft Longhart Engineering, with cratch, built 2000, lined out, two stoves, gas cooker, lights, Perkins engine plus new PRM gearbox, new kitchen, bathroom and bedroom fittings, £25,000. Tel. 07909 725742. Staffs.

WAVY RIDER CRUISER. 24ft, 6ft 10” beam, 20ho outboard, roomy, clean, tidy interior, £4950. Tel. 07943 753914. Lincs. NORMAN CRUISER 28ft centre cockpit, 4 berth, hot and cold water heater, 15hp motor, 2 burner cooker, grill and oven, 12v/240v elecs, BSC until 2018, dining table drops to double bed, forward seating/double bed, moored Fettlers Wharf, Rufford, £10,500 ono. 01942 574019. Lancs. SUNSPORT 260 mariner, 2.5hp, 4stroke, as new, £450; with road trailer, £350. Tel. 01977 559130. W Yorks. TEAL 610 CLIPPER very rare, 2 berth cabin cruiser, completely refitted inside, gel coated outboard, 4-stroke, 7.5 Honda, stainless steel sink and cooker, BSC 2017, with licence till Sept, £2000 ono. Tel. 01663 762935. Cheshire.

WIDEBEAM New, 11 ft by 57 ft, immaculate, red and cream coachwork, 2 separate bedrooms, secure mooring available at Reading, £89,500 ovno Tel. Brian 07881728622 or see emex.co.uk. Berks.

WILDERNESS BEAVER DL Lovely condition, 4 berth, full headroom and fully upholstered heating, hot & cold water, fridge, twin batteries and 2 solar panels, 9.9 Yamaha outboard, canopies front and rear, £12,500 ono Tel. 01443 438673. Powys. TRAD JONATHAN WILSON 1989, boatman's cabin, gas free, diesel cooking/heating, full c of c, 8kw generator, 3kw pure sine inverter/charger, twin alternator from Lister JP2M with Blackstone gearbox, fridge, washing machine, cratch, 4 berth, solid fuel heating in main cabin, pump out, ideal liveaboard/leisure, £46,000 ono. Tel. Simon 07411 771773. W Mids. QUARTER SHARE OF NARROW BOAT For sale (not time share) gives 12 weeks holidays per year on rotating basis, 6 berth traditional boat, £6000 ono.Tel. 01527 457666; 07882 946598. Worcs.


DORMAN 4DSM Classic and rare engine, 20hp 1 Dorman gearbox, plenty of power for 60ft narrowboat, Classic tug sound, sold with many spares to include spare heads, crankshafts, piston and rods, injector pump, injectors, gearbox spares. Out of boat but can be seen running, £3500. Tel. 0121 7454266. W Mids.

MARINISED GARDNER 5LW ENGINE with gearbox, ratio 2:1, came out of a 75ft barge, also c/w a prop and propshaft, engine ran well and sounded beautiful. Tel. 07512 845353. E Yorks. BRIT MARINE two cylinder petrol engine, not run for a few years, requires recommissioning, ideal for classic/vintage boat or display, £220. Tel. Peter 0117 9867518. S West. LISTER ST3 Lister 3 cyl ST3 electric start, runs, excellent, low hours, not marinised, £680. Tel. 01205 480693; 07948 304584. Lincs. SEAGULL OUTBOARD MOTOR good starter/runner, £90; 16 x 9 brass prop, 1.5" shaft, £55; inverter 700w, used twice, £15. Tel. 07970 483622. View Mansfield or Shardlow, Notts. SOLAR PANEL 50 watt, plus cables, regulator, also folding electric bicycle, c/w front basket and rear panniers, travels 20 miles on charge, ideal boating, caravanning, priced to sell. Tel. 07873 269671 after 6pm. Shrops.

Parts and spares

BRAND NEW FENDERS: 6 x rubber side - and 2 x rope mooring for sale, £70. Tel. Ron on 07711 475264. W Mids.




DIESEL CAP stainless steel, vgc, £10. Tel. 07720 241788. Leics.

EBERSPACHERWATER HEATER for sale - brand new, in box, hydronic D5WSC. Tel. 0758 3040777. Staffs.

ECOFAN REPLACEMENT MOTORS 800 & 802 solder terminals, new free shipping, simply text details. PayPal accepted. Tel. Martin 07894 856275. Derbys.

STERLING PRO BUDGET digital automatic battery charger, 12v, 10 amp, £20. 01217 842343. W Mids.

VICTRON INVERTER 24V/240V 1200VA modified sine wave with original instruction manual. In perfect condition- just replaced by a more powerful unit to run the washing m/c. Make me a reasonable offer. Tel. Don 07475 725978. Northants.

SELL OR SWOP my 61 x 6, 10 narrowboat bath shower, 7 berth, full cooker, central heating x stove, I want a wide beam? Tel. 07806 802246. Bucks. 3 BLADE PROPELLER 19 x 14 , 1 & 1 ⁄2" shaft, good condition. Tel. 07890 604121. Bucks.


ORIGINAL CHROME HAND PUMP wanted from Freeman 22, Mk 1, 1962. Tel. 01969 622778. N Yorks. ALUMINIUM SLIDE rectangular windows, brand new, 122 x 54.5cm, £150 the pair; used 'eye' shaped aluminium windows 84 x 38cm, £50 the pair. Tel. 07951 412199. Notts. ANCHOR 15kg with rope and chain, £75. Tel. 07964 101998. Northants. ANCHOR 1 x 10kg, 2 life jackets, 1 dehumidifier and 2 folding bikes for sale, buyer collects. Tel. 07754 756152. S Yorks. HONDA CB 750cc, various spares for K1/K2; Velocette engine 250cc, history; Vincent items, various bits, Hiller ammeter £20; Triumph panel lamp, £50; Triumph speedo, 12mph, £150; Lucas mag dyno, 1940s, £120. Tel. 0208 8944704. Middx. HONDA LPG EU INVERTER 20i, 2kw, just over 2 years old, very good condition, only selling as new boat, has one inbuilt, £790. Tel. 07565 938745. B'ham. MLS FUEL PURIFIER new, in box, £75; Max view Omnimax aerial withl magnetic base, £40; Binatone 2-way speakers with chargers, model 950, £25; selling due to ill health.Tel. 0151 6480153. Cheshire. NEW PRM 120D2 GEARBOX 2.04:1 ratio, wrong box bought, £450. Tel. 07845 772136. Essex. NEWAGE ENGINEERING COVENTRY 3:1 ratio, centre drop gear box, less than 500 hours use, £450. ono; buyer collects. Tel. 07981 393834. W Berks. PROPELLER for sale less than half price, unused 3-bladed propeller, manufactured by superior supplier CJR, 20” x 15” RH, 1.5” Boss but c/w adaptor sleeve to suit 1.25” dia propeller shaft.Tel. 07973 763987. Oxon. RUTLAND 910 WIND GENERATOR genuine reason for sale, £100 ono. Tel. Julie 07933 637239. W Mids. RUTLAND 913 TURBINE inc regulator, mast & straps, good condition, £220 ovno. Tel. 07967 563214. Northants. SOLAR PANELS 2 x 110w, 6.2a, £100 each; spare Thetford cassette, £30; large Buckby can, traditionally painted, £80. Tel. 07795 964375. N Mids. STOVE wood/coal, bargain - £145; generator Camp Mate 1000, £85; roof box, car/boot GRP, £75. Tel. Mike 07747 059511. Willington area. WASP W30 diesel filter and water separator, c/w stainless steel element, £20 ono. 079700 78668. Northants. WINDOWS FOR NARROWBOAT 5 rectangular, 36" x 21"; 4 x portholes 173⁄4" dia; 2 side hatch units 271⁄2" x 61⁄2", gold finish, good condition, £250. Tel. 07735 292590. Worcs.

Selling your boat is


Our important message to both groups is to do careful homework first and not to either hire out your boat or rent a boat that isn’t properly licensed for this use. Please visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/ a-boat-of-your-own to avoid any difficulties with the legal and safety issues involved. ANYBODY WILLINGTO RENT OUT a narrow boat for a couple of months Jan/Feb 2015 in the Nottingham area, due to selling house and looking to buy our own boat would also need to allow a cat and a dog on board. Tel. 07922 116941. Notts. I AM LOOKING TO RENT a canal boat over the next few months if anyone can help would be very grateful. Tel. 07588 964404. W Mids. LOOKING FOR A NARROW BOAT TO RENT I'm at a home for the next 6-12 months at least. Tel. 07593 265233. B'ham. LOOKING TO HIRE A BOAT for a while, not sure how long as I am looking to buy a live aboard next year and want to try it first. Tel. 07809 241531. N Yorks. NARROWBOAT WANTED between 55 - 57ft, semi-trad or cruiser stern, Colecraft, Piper or Tyler Wilson, 4 berth, age not a problem, private buyer, cash waiting. Tel. 07825 368597. Cumbria. OLDER COUPLE would like to live on house boat for 12 months, need to be near Chorley, Lancs ( Leeds Liverpool canal) due to work commitments. Any chance please? Tel. Kate 01204 699984. Gtr Man. PROJECT NARROWBOAT WANTED needing a refit or tlc etc, 40ft upwards length. Tel. 0790 6019299. Norfolk. RECENTLY RETIRED professional couple are seeking a live aboard boat with mooring in the Oxford area for a 6 to 9 month period starting autumn 2014. Tel. 0779 8037699. Oxon. REVERSE LAYOUT 55ft to 59ft contemporary styled semi-trad narrowboat required, bow thrusters, diesel c/h and raised dinette preferred, up to £60,000. cash Tel. 07801 019888. SABB BITS wanted or part engines for cash. Tel. 01282-771874 eves. Cheshire.


RETIRED NATURE LOVING GENTLEMAN owns canal cruiser, would like to meet a hippy style lady, nationality and age unimportant. Tel. Tony 07717 257867. Lincs. WANTED: 9" opening port hole. Tel. 079030 10642. Stoke-on-Trent. WE ARE LOOKING FOR a 50/57ft cruiser, reverse layout, with a crossover bathroom, ideally with bow thruster if 57ft. No more than 5 years old, good price paid, we have just sold our boat. Tel. 07766 590383. Cheshire.


28 GAL DAY TANK in steel with baffles and sight glass, gravity or pump outlet being 56” long x 20” tall x 8” wide, £100. Tel. 01282 771874 (eves). Lancs.

DIESEL FUEL TANK Refurbished and cleaned inside, fits under cruiser stern deck. 07890 604121. Bucks.

KABOLA DIESEL STOVE with coal effect, vgc, £750 ono; buyer collects. Tel. 07981 393834. W Berks.

LOCKGATE DIESEL STOVE just taken out of 2007 boat, very good condition, c/w flue roof collar and 3 part chimney, bargain, £250. Tel. 0751 804071. Derbys.

LIFE RING, large, £10; two dolly tub planters, painted, together with two painted mop buckets, £35 for all four items. Tel. 07950 832060. Leics.


2 X 5 LITRE TINS International Intertuf 16, hull blacking, £50 ono. Tel. 01977 683643.Yorks. CHEST FREEZER 12v, used for 1 week only, perfect condition, like new, sorry no photo, cost £410 will sell for £250 we couldn't return it because it was past the 28 day limit which I didn't read. No offers please it's like new.Tel. 07943 500745. Notts. BUBBLE CORNER STOVE bought ex display and never fitted so in as new condition, lit half a dozen times in showroom only, £425. no offers Tel. 07909 224541. Cambs. BUBBLE DIESEL STOVE with back boiler, two, regularly serviced, £200. ono; buyer collects. Tel. 07710 133293. Welford Marina, Northants. BUBBLE DIESEL STOVE 5kw, in good working condition, £200. buyer collects Tel. 07443 461607. Essex. COMPASS COMPACT II life jacket, auto inflation, new, unused, £30. Tel. 07971 694114. Herts. FRIGIDAIRE FRIDGE/FREEZER 12v, 20" x 20" x 33", good order throughout, £95 ono; galvanised 4 leg Grapnell anchor, 25 kilo, £15. Tel. 01827 767485; 07946 664749. Staffs. INDESIT WASHER/DRYER in black, 2 years old, exc cond, does 7kg wash, 5kg dry, £90. Tel. 07507 196658. E Lancs. MORSO 1410 SQUIRREL for sale, brand new, still boxed with full warranty, can be delivered locally, £525. Tel. 07976 761812. Derbys. NATURESHEAD COMPOSTING TOILET brand new, unused, c/w all fittings and instructions, cost new £683.11, I am asking less than half price, yes - £300. Tel. 07752 948529. S Yorks. ROYAL CAMPING TOILET 1 pump, 15L waste and fresh water tank, not used, still boxed, £35. Tel. 07775 586313. Worcs. THETFORD 365 porta potti, excellent clean condition, £45; Collection from Sheffield, North Anston or West Stockwith. Tel. 01909 550859. S Yorks. THETFORD PORTA POTTI Brand new "Cube", £35; two framed prints Black Country Canal route and Avon ring, £10 each.Tel. Liz 07920 148354. W Mids. TYPHOON auto-inflation jackets, three never worn, two slightly used, one spare cartridge, £150 ono. Tel. 07955 429483. W Yorks. UNDER WORKTOP FREEZER for sale 12/24 volt, very clean, cost new £500, sell for £200; remote control bluetooth CD MP3 car/boat radio, suitable for 4 speakers, not supplied, £40; 22" HD Freeview CD/DVD television, with wall mounted bracket, £80.Tel. John 07831 500797. W Sussex. WAECO COOLMATIC Compressor, top loader fridge or freezer, portable if needed, mains/12v 35 litre, 23" long, 14W/15h, extremely low power consumption, 1amp per hour, like new, cost £520, will accept £250. Tel. 01422 342128; 0777 9776508. W Yorks. WALLAS CERAMIC HOB diesel, hob had little use, faulty, spares or repair, £25. Tel. 07908 279388. Staffs.



30+ CANAL ACTS LAW BOOK dated with drawings by Thomas Telford, Liverpool Grand Union, Birmingham, Warwick etc, dated mid 1700/mid 1800s, offers please. Tel. 0781 3018056. W Mids.

BRASS BELL 7” dia, wall mounted, very loud, in good solid condition,. Tel. 07702 853910 (no texts please). Notts.

FOLDING BICYCLE Raleigh Evo 7so, virtually brand new, 20” wheels, 7 speed twist grip gears, with luggage rack fitted and carry bag included, £175. Tel. 07811 314112. Staffs.

FRANCIS SEARCH LIGHT 9”, been restored, all brass, £600 ono. Tel. 07958 207675. W Mids.

MILK CHURNS Aluminium, 10 gallon, £50 each. Tel. 07909 725742. Northants. OLD BOAT HOOK brass/bronze, 19cm long, 6cm hook, looks hand made, very heavy, suit working boat, £15. Tel. 01530 243043. Leics. BOWLER HAT size 6/7, £5; crochet cabin curtain frills, several lengths, £2 each; 10ft landline cable and plug in, £12; heavy duty fan heater, JCB, as new, £40; fog lamp, suitable for boating, WIPAC 5", £16.50. Tel. 078750 79821. Northants.

EPOXY 2 PACK for sale, surplus to requirements, top quality 4 x 4 ltr tins plus hardener, £47 per tin ono; possible delivery Midlands area Tel. 07580 117598. Staffs. FRAMED ENGRAVINGS of locks, 100 year old, horse drawn narrowboats etc, will send out photos, £35. each Tel. 07958 175684. Notts. GLASS UPLIFTERS with solid beech final by ring x3, brand new, still in box, 240v, £30; electric blanket, 12v still in packet, never used, 4ft bed, £20. Tel. 0777 9776508. W Yorks. NARROWBOAT PAINT Rapidpaint, PO red, u/c, Ferrari red, T/C Union green T/C, crushable primer, grey, all unused, 8 x 1 pits, £8 per tin. Tel. 01767 640938. Beds. ISOTHERM CR100 brand new with receipt and full warranty - 12/24v integrated fridge with integral freezer, light grey colour, very genuine reason for sale. Contact me RRP £1089, bargain, only £850 ono. Tel. 07739 334568 for more info & fotos. Cheshire. JOHN PLAYER CIGARETTE CARDS collectable, in original albums, x 3 1) 1839-1939 Cycling; 2) 1930s Annual Of Countryside; 3) Kings & Queens of England W D & H O Wills, Our King & Queen of 1937, £3000. each; could post, postage extra. Tel. 01422 342128. W Yorks. PHILLIPS MIDI HI-FI SYSTEM black, 2 speakers, twin speed turn table, twin deck tape, 3CD player, AM/FM radio, manual or remote control, instruction book, many more features, excellent order, cost £300, will accept £100. Tel. 01422 342128. W Yorks. ROCKER ARM SHAFT SUPPORT I am looking for a for a KD 26 Kingfisher will take whole rocker set. Tel. 07818 446284. Worcs. ROLLER BLIND 48" wide, never used, lilac/blue, £10; upholstery material h/duty dragon, patterned but shades of beige/cream, 54" x 78", £10; blown vinyl wallpaper, 3 rolls, half price £15. 0777 9776508. W Yorks. TUNISIAN HANDMADE RUGS 1) 75 x 31", blue/cream/white; 2) 74 x 38", cherry red/black, vgc, £50. each Tel. 0777 9776508. W Yorks. VIDEO: WALLACE & GROMIT boxed, Limited Edition video, Grand Day Out, never used, £10; camera Praktica Z60 zoom, 35mm, not digital, brand new, still in box, never used, with free films, £30. Tel. 0777 9776508. W Yorks.

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VOLKSWAGEN T4 Campervan, reluctant sale of my lovely 2004 Bilbos ‘Celeste’ model, excellent condition inside and out, one owner from new, only done 59k miles, full VW main dealer service history, ideal accompaniment to your boating adventures!. Tel. 07753 660260. Cambs.

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Jammin and Justice rounding the Asland Lamp behind us as we turn into River Douglas.

The flotilla of six boats sets out on to the Ribble after leaving Savick Brook – next stop Tarleton.

Descending the Ribble Link staircase backwards are Justice and Jammin. PHOTOS: PETER UNDERWOOD

Ribble crossing – the return

Peter Underwood completes his waterway adventure in dramatic style. OUR north-bound crossing of the Ribble Estuary was tranquil; our return, heading south, was anything but as drama and suspense became the order of the day. It began in frustration. The Canal & River Trust closed the Ribble Link because it was unable to get enough water into the Lancaster Canal and we initially expected to be delayed by two weeks. That was cut to 10 days when a special crossing was organised and six boats gathered at the top of the staircase locks for the first stage on a Sunday. We were fed down the link locks and held overnight in the pound between locks seven and eight overnight. Next morning we made our way to the holding pontoons and

All going well as we round the Asland Lamp but not for much longer.

then we were off as the tide rose, the seagate was dropped and we began fighting the flow as we headed down Savick Brook for a right turn into the River Ribble. All was going well, the day was calm, and the Isuzu engine beneath our feet was responding well to the battle against the incoming tide. The six boats were bunched as we turned the Asland Lamp and began our run up the River Douglas. Half a mile into the river and our engine suddenly lost power, stuttered and, to our horror, died. I was able to shout to fellow boater and fellow journalist Steve Haywood, and his wife Moira on nb Justice, that we had lost power. After the initial expletive, my brain began running through the checklist. First priority was to stop the boat drifting on to the banks, or even out to sea as the tide was just starting to turn. The anchor rope was already attached to a stern post, so it went over the side, carried down by the heavy chain, and I was able to tie it shorter than the full length of the rope. Luckily it was slack tide and the boat ended up sitting across the Douglas.

Radio contact

Moira at the helm while Steve Haywood tries to coax some more out of Justice’s engine.

Steve, who was in radio contact with Pete and Marie Gooseman on nb Jammin, informed them of what was happening, turned and came back towards us. In the meantime I had managed to telephone Harry Mayor at Tarleton Lock to tell him of the problem and that another boat was coming to our rescue. My

A smile from Heather even though the boat is listing in the bottom of Tarleton Lock.

Steve Hall wades in and finds the wood that was stopping the lock gate closing at Tarleton.

wife Heather was cool, calm and practical, immediately recognising that finding a way out of our predicament was the only priority. Steve brought Justice alongside Blackberry Way and we breasted the boats up. He reversed to free the pressure on the anchor rope and I managed to drag it up from the mud. Then, slowly but surely, we began heading upstream towards the distant Tarleton Lock. Heather and myself were relieved and delighted – to say nothing of extremely grateful – that a fellow boater had come to the rescue. But the drama was to continue. Justice has an historic engine giving lots of torque but it was at its limits pushing two heavy boats against a falling tide that was steadily moving faster as the River Douglas narrowed. Steve attempted to run it faster but the engine protested, throwing out lots of smoke and starting to overheat. So it was back to the steady, slow plod. As we reached the Douglas Boatyard, about a mile from the lock, we called Harry again, as this would be the last opportunity to moor up and wait for another tide. Both our boats sat deep in the water and we knew the level over the cill at Tarleton would be falling steadily. The perpetually calm Harry Mayor, who has known the river and the lock for decades, decided we could, just, make it. “Carry on,” he said, “and when you get to the lock, hold a steady line in the centre of the river and let the flow across the lock entrance move the boats to enter the lock.

Swift reverse

As the lock approached, Steve went down to his engine room to manually provide extra power while Moira steered the pair along the centre of the river. They timed it perfectly, a blast of power, both boats slid over the cill and hardly touched the lock walls, the controls were reconnected in time for a swift reverse and we came to a halt with a huge feeling of relief. We had made it, we were safe, and Harry, the boatyard staff and local boaters who help with

the lock were laughing and smiling – as well as claiming I had only done it for a story for Towpath Talk! But the drama didn’t end there. As they attempted to close the lock gates behind us, they wouldn’t shut, despite using a long rake and attempting to flush away the obstruction, nothing would close a foot-wide gap. Ah well, Harry Mayor told us, we’ll just have to let the lock drain, so we can get to it. So, there we sat as the lock slowly emptied and both boats began to tilt toward one another, until they were finally angled at around 30º. Having been rescued by one pair of boaters, another now came to our aid as Pete Gooseman descended the lock ladder, climbed across Justice on to Blackberry Way and began checking on the engine to see what had failed us – all at a steep angle in the bottom of the lock. Fuel pipes were disconnected, blown through, sucked and filters were loosened. After many minutes, the fuel pump was diagnosed as the culprit with a cable disappearing inside apparently having come

loose. There was no way to access it, so the wire was tucked behind a convenient nut to hold it in position and the pump was running again, and with it, the engine. Not only was I relieved that the engine was working again, but there was also a part of me that was supremely grateful the cause of my problem had not been some mistake I had made in servicing and checking the engine before the journey.

Grateful applause

Meanwhile we ate our lunch at a steep angle as the water slowly drained away but, before it had dropped completely, yet another boater came to the rescue. Steve Hall, who moors at Tarleton on his boat May Contain Nuts, climbed down the lock ladder fully clothed in ankle boots, jeans and T-shirt and waded through two feet of water to the open lock gate. He began feeling around along the concrete cill on which the gates should close and eventually dragged up a large lump of wood that had been preventing the gate from closing. As he climbed out,

accompanied by grateful applause and thanks from Steve and Moira Haywood and ourselves, we were finally able to rise up in the lock and begin our journey south. The adventure was almost over (the fuel pump finally died a few days later passing Manchester and caused another delay) but it was time to celebrate survival and the help of boater friends. We made it to Rufford and the Hesketh Arms, where several toasts were drunk to thank our rescuers and the evening ended with a sing-along to the Wigan Ukulele Band which was playing in the pub that evening. I am one of those who sing the praises of the community spirit that exists among boaters, sometimes likening it to the 1950s village in which I grew up, and sometimes I can see the cynicism in the eyes of my listeners. Our return crossing of the Ribble Estuary has reinforced the belief that boaters look after one another and more than repaid any small favours we may have done for fellow boaters over the past 20 years.

Was itWorth it? We planned to spend three months on the Lancaster and ended up spending nearly two weeks more – and that’s a long time on a 42mile long canal. If we hadn’t had family living alongside the canal it might have been too much – even though the scenery is beautiful and the people, especially the boaters, warm, friendly and giving. We made some good friends, visited some fascinating places and became enthusiastic about the restoration of the Northern Reaches – extending this canal to Kendal would make it an unmissable part of the system. However, the existing open canal is just 42 miles long and only about two miles of that length is available for mooring for a narrowboat. This year that situation was worsened considerably by the unilateral imposition of 48hr mooring restrictions on almost all the mooring sites. That means that a relaxed rural canal is now as stressful for a visiting boater as the busy hotspots of London, the Kennet & Avon and Foxton. It is a neglected canal, with no dredging for more than 25 years, by the Canal and River Trust’s own admission, and with a weed growth problem every year on the unnavigable Northern

Reaches, which are used to feed water from the Killington reservoir. When that water supply fails, as it did this year – because the C&RT decided to gamble and save money by not booking a second weed cut by specialist contractors – it is almost unusable in parts. We had to punt all 18.5 tonnes of Blackberry Way over one length where deposits from a stream had been left undisturbed. On balance the local boaters, the scenery, the ability to catch a bus into the Lake District and the other visiting boaters made it a worthwhile experience and the Ribble Crossing itself provided all the spice and drama we might have needed. But would I go back? Not for a while, and that has nothing to do with our near-disastrous return journey. I would hope the C&RT in the North West will spend some money, dredging and creating more moorings, ensuring the weed is removed from the feeder through the Northern Reaches and making proper mooring provision for boats on a longer visit, instead of trying to move them on every two days. Until that happens, perhaps visiting narrowboats, especially any with a draft of two or more feet, should be warned they may find the Lancaster difficult.

104 BOAT SAFETY/ON IRISH WATERS with Alison Alderton

Staying safe on your boat With winter just around the corner, Clive Penny of the Association of Boat Safety Examiners takes a timely look at solid fuel stoves. THE Boat Safety Scheme website has lots of useful information about how to stay safe when using solid fuel stoves and has guidance that is supported by the Solid Fuel Association (SFA), HETAS, the Stove Industry Association, and the Solid Fuel Technology Institute (Soliftec). Using the information, that has been gathered about solid fuel stove incidents, the BSS points to four risks that must be avoided or managed. • Over-firing of the stove leading to a boat fire. • Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning due to the escape of stove flue gases into the cabin. • Items and materials being too close and getting too hot for too long. • Poor maintenance and misuse of the stove.


Each year boat fires are caused by solid fuel stoves ‘over-firing’. When the fire intensity picks up and races away, usually the air supply is closed down to reduce the roar of the fire. But if the fire races out of control, this is ‘over-firing’. As the fire roars, the flue gases gain heat and then speed as they go up the chimney. Matters get worse until the appliance glows red and then two things can happen: • Any build-up of soot and tar in the chimney, can catch fire, and/or • The super-hot stove or chimney can set light to furnishings, fabrics or other objects nearby. Air control is the key to preventing over-firing. Before leaving the boat for a period, or retiring for the night, or travelling through a tunnel, always check that the appliance air controls are set to prevent over-firing. • In standard, normal conditions you may be used to controlling your stove, but air control can be affected: • If your stove has a lower ash door which can be opened separately from the main door don’t leave it open even for a short time even while taking the ash out. • Damage that allows air to enter the firebox will affect your ability to control the air supply to the fire. See the section on use and maintenance. • Stormy or gusty weather, with winds whipping across the chimney top and flue gases being sucked out with a draw two or three times the normal strength. • Take account of the wind effect when setting the air control and it’s best not to leave the fire unattended.

Carbon monoxide

CO is a highly toxic gas that affects people at low doses and kills quickly in higher concentrations. Stove flue gases have very high levels of CO. They can be 100 times higher than the levels of CO from a gas burner. CO cannot be seen or smelt so you need to follow clues to check if you are at risk. If you suspect a problem, the first step is to ask ‘do I feel ill on my boat, but not ashore?’

Early symptoms of CO poisoning are easy to mistake for other problems; headaches, mood swings, feeling sick, dizzy, tired or confused or having stomach pains and being sick. These are often taken for signs of colds and flu, or feeling run down. While you may feel okay, for medical or lifestyle reasons, other crew members can be affected by CO before you. If you think you are being poisoned, don’t delay, see a doctor and say you may have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. If it is confirmed you are being affected, get a properly qualified person to find the source and fix the problem before the appliance is used again. Even if you feel fine, don’t ignore signs of early problems: • is the stove difficult to keep burning properly; • are the flames lazy and weak? • do you have a strong smell of smoke when it’s on?

Too hot for too long

We use stoves in our boats to provide heat by both heating the air and circulating that around the cabin(s) and by just sitting by the stove and enjoying the heat radiating from it. The heat, in the wrong circumstances, can cause problems. Remembering to keep seats, tables and other furniture away will help prevent fire, but it’s not the whole story. Other homely objects such as soft furnishings, books, waste paper baskets, dog beds and log stacks also need to be kept away from the stove. Don’t hang pictures, blinds, swags and even paraffin lamps directly above a stove. But there is another, often hidden, risk to be aware of, pyrolysis. Pyrolysis a slow chemical action caused by heat. The wood dries out, and breaks down into a kind of charcoal and this in turn can catch fire. Pyrolysis doesn’t need a direct flame to ignite; and it doesn’t even need extreme heat to affect any wood including the battens or panels behind the tiles. Fire can start when enough air reaches the wood suffering from pyrolysis. To avoid pyrolysis, ensure any combustible materials near to the appliance or chimney are properly heat insulated.

Stove use and maintenance

Keeping safe with solid fuel stoves, means spotting any early signs of trouble; keeping an eye on things when using the stove and taking action if you suspect problems – don’t let it ride. Stay safe with these four simple points: Can you improve the area around your stove, or the chimney, or does the stove need renewing, if yes, plan how you’ll take the next opportunity to meet best practice; Keep an eye on the stove and chimney for the earliest signs of trouble, and don’t delay taking any action; Take care operating your stove, use it as the instructions state; Make and take the time to maintain the stove. And don’t forget to sweep the chimney! ● This article is just an overview of some of the advice available on the boat safety scheme website at www.boatsafetyscheme.org All of the articles from this series can be found on my website: www.canalelectrics.com Your local member of the Association of Boat Safety Examiners can be found at www.ABSE.org and will be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist in any way they can.


Holy Island set to become flagship tourism development CLARE County Council is in negotiations to secure the purchase of Holy island (Inis Cealtra) on Lough Derg. Covering some 50 acres of land, four of which are in the ownership of the Office of Public Works, Holy Island is one of the most important ecclesiastical sites in Ireland with ruins and buildings dating back to the 7th century. These include an impressive 24m high round tower, an oratory, a number of churches and still used burial ground. On the UNESCO World Heritage site tentative list as an Early Medieval Monastic site the island also has connections with Ireland’s High King Brian Boru and is known throughout East Clare as the ‘Jewel of the Lough’. The need for a flagship visitor attraction in the East Clare/Lough Derg area has long been recognised and Gerald Dollard, director of services for the council has confirmed that the acquisition of Holy Island has been under consideration for a number of years. The council realises that there are environmental, planning and access issues which must be addressed and have already commenced on the preparation of a visitor management plan. Landing at Holy Island is currently only by way of a small pier, used mainly for bringing grazing livestock on and off site and with the exception of private boats is only accessible to the public by way of a small (max eight persons) ferry working out of nearby Mountshannon. It is therefore estimated that there are less than 1000 visitors to this iconic site each year. While the surrounding waters are shown closed to navigation by Waterways Ireland (WI) these could be easily opened up following survey work and it is believed with improved access to Holy Island more visitors would be encouraged. Dawn Livingstone, chief executive of WI recently visited the site and confirmed that they will be delighted to work

Arriving at Holy Island are: Ger Madden, boatman; Gerald Dollard, Clare County Council; Dawn Livingstone, CEO Waterways Ireland and Niall Moore, senior engineer Waterways Ireland. PHOTO:WATERWAYS IRELAND in partnership with CCC to develop better access to Holy Island when a management plan for the care of the ecclesiastical monuments on the island has been developed. Lough Derg is also the subject for a new promotional website www.discoverloughderg.ie which has been officially launched by Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Alan Kelly TD. This is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of the Lakelands Lough Derg area and will provide visitors to the region with information on accommodation, events, land and water based activities, places to visit and restaurants.

Have you seen the Irish stoat? WHILE out and about try to spot the elusive Irish stoat. Found all over Ireland it prefers habitats with sufficient cover favouring woodland and readily climbs trees. Recognised as a distinct subspecies, quite different to stoats found in the rest of Europe – for instance it doesn’t turn white in the winter – this mammal has been present in Ireland since before the last Ice Age and is a protected species. Despite its long history of existence there is a lack of information on stoats in Ireland which The Mammal Ecology Group, National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) with the support of The Vincent Wildlife Trust are attempting to put right in an exciting PhD Research Project. Currently undertaking a nationwide study of the Irish stoat they are keen to hear from people who have any pictures, stories or sightings and are asking them to become involved by carrying out their online survey. As well

as help from the general public, key groups such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service conservation rangers, forestry workers and farmers have been contacted directly and there has already been a fantastic response. The results will be used to create a stoat distribution map, a ‘living document’ which can be amended as the project progresses and more information becomes available. Further investigation into habitat usage, genetic analysis and dietary analysis will also take place giving the research team a fascinating insight into how Irish stoats are interacting and using habitats. This will allow them to gain essential knowledge about one of Ireland’s true natives whose exact numbers in the country are currently unknown.

The Irish stoat. PHOTO: DERMOT BREEN You can find the Irish Stoat Project and links to the survey on Facebook or contact Laura O’Flynn of the Mammal Ecology Group at NUIG on: irishstoatsurvey@gmail.com

● For more information on The Vincent Wildlife Trust in Ireland go to: www.mammals-in-ireland.ie

Landmark project on Shannon riverSide THE Shannon riverside at Lanesborough-Balleyleague is being developed in a landmark €300,000 project. Co-ordinated and partly funded by the Ballyleague Village Renewal and Tidy Towns Committee, the project which has been four years in the planning should be completed within 18 months and be carried out in two phases. Phase 1 for which Inland Fisheries Ireland has awarded €60,000 of funding is currently under way and will include an amenity area, fishing facilities for both able and disabled persons, pedestrian walkway, safety railings and new quay wall.

Work on the new quay wall at Lanesborough-Balleyleague. PHOTOS: JUNE FITCH

A boat passing the Ballyleague riverbank development.

Phase 2 will include a children’s playground, outdoor gymnasium and new seating. Both phases will be incorporated into a complete re-landscaping of the area. The contract on the Ballyleague Riverbank Project went out to tender earlier this year with work being awarded to Gibbons civil engineering and building contractors from Westport When completed it is hoped the development will help boost tourist numbers and attract more anglers to the region.

ON IRISH WATERS with Alison Alderton 105


Castles and flying boats

Alison Alderton visits the now peaceful shores from where wartime crews flew patrols over the Atlantic shipping lanes.

Moorings in Enniskillen.

The impressive Watergate of Enniskillen Castle. PHOTOS:ALISON ALDERTON UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED NESTLING comfortably on an island in the River Erne, Enniskillen, the county town of Fermanagh, separates the lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne. Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster, its strategic importance is reinforced by the impressive castle and Watergate looming over the narrow waterway. In the 17th century, it became an English garrison, later serving as a military barracks. Today it houses two museums, and the peaceful town with plenty of tourist attractions is the main cruiser base on the Erne. Here, boaters will find a good choice of mooring places offering easy access to the town, supermarkets and modern Erneside Shopping Centre. Below Enniskillen, Portora Lock usually stands open, allowing unhindered access into Lower Lough Erne. Beyond the lake, its beautiful wooded shores are a feast for the eyes, a boater’s paradise with navigable routes weaving between the numerous islands where safe anchorages and pretty ports of call are accompanied by dreamy views. However, the peaceful scenes encountered here today are deceptive, doing little to reveal the importance this most westerly of lakes played during the Second World War when it was used

extensively by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a base for Coastal Command and its flying boats patrolling the Atlantic. Despite Eire remaining neutral throughout the war, the Allies were secretly permitted to use the ‘Donegal Corridor’, a narrow strip of airspace, allowing direct access from Lough Erne to the coast, avoiding a detour of over 100 miles across home soil. The first remnants of these important operations can be found on the east shore of Gublusk Bay. Once the site of RAF Killadeas, an extensive base with its own hospital, it also housed an Operational Training Unit from where service men came to learn the skills needed for maritime patrols. Since 1950, the site has been home to the Lough Erne Yacht Club, which overwinters its historic Fairy keelboats in one of the original structures known simply as The Hangar, while occupying the former flying boat service bay is the Enniskillen RNLI Station. At Rossclare Bay, boaters will find a public jetty and slipway where the RAF once operated a salvage unit using civilian divers. The original flying boat mooring blocks, some inscribed with the casting date of March 1943, remain. Flat, calm, glassy conditions proved to be the most difficult for crews to land in, as judging the aircraft’s height above the water became deceptive. There are several marked war graves due to the many crashes in and around the lake which sadly resulted in fatalities.

Bismarck sighting

The memorial to the lost flying boat crew at Castle Archdale.

As the lake widens, it passes Castle Archdale, the most impressive of all the former RAF sites and from where Coastal Command operated Consolidated Catalinas and Short Sunderland flying boats. Opened in February 1941, the site housed up to 2500 personnel and had offshore moorings for 108 flying boats as well as 40 boat moorings. The

Second World War stone jetties at Castle Archdale.

Castle Archdale Marina.

A sea plane tender passing a Sunderland of No 201 Squadron, May 20, 1943. PHOTO IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM


flying boats would regularly depart on Atlantic patrols searching for German Uboats in an attempt to protect allied shipping lanes. In May 1941, a Catalina from Castle Archdale was out on a routine patrol when it located the German battleship Bismarck which subsequently led to its sinking. The last operational patrol from Castle Archdale was on June 3, 1945, and while many of the Sunderlands and Catalinas were scrapped, others were scuttled on the lake. It finally closed as an RAF base in 1958 and now forms the Castle Archdale Country Park. The courtyard buildings are all that remain of the 1773 constructed Archdale Manor which houses an informative Castle Archdale at War exhibition and tea rooms. With its popular marina, camping and caravan site sitting on the former

The last patrol to operate from Castle Archdale, June 3, 1945.


concrete aircraft maintenance area, the park can be a hive of activity during the summer. In the grounds, there are walking trails and cycle paths taking in many of the base’s remains, including the aircrafts’ refuelling dock and memorials to crews lost. Finally, at the northern end of the lake is the site of RAF Boa Island, often referred to as Rock Bay. A satellite base for RAF Killadeas, this opened on May 31, 1944, and was Northern Ireland’s last military airfield to open during the Second World War. When cruising these now peaceful waters, spare a thought for those who once served here. There may no longer be flying boats but there are plenty of other craft and that is partly thanks to the heroic efforts of the men and women who served on Lower Lough Erne.

➔ Usefulinformation Castle Archdale (Day) Boat Hire


Castle Archdale Caravan Park & Camping Site www.castlearchdale.com Enniskillen Castle www.enniskillencastle.co.uk Lough Erne Yacht Club www.leyc.net For more information on flying boats try: www.seawings.co.uk

Other related sites of interest: A short distance inland from the lake is Enniskillen Airport. First known as Rossahilly Aerodrome, in 1941 it became a military site and renamed St Angelo Airfield. Due to the boggy conditions, grass landing strips were unsuitable so solid runways were constructed and it became home to 133 and 134 Squadrons which flew Spitfires and Hurricanes used to intercept enemy reconnaissance aircraft. Coastal Command took over in August 1943 and it became a satellite base for RAF Killadeas. At the end of the war the airfield became a maintenance base and was disbanded in 1947. Relics including machine gun pill boxes, air

A wartime beacon erected to assist landing planes.

raid shelters and an underground battle headquarters remained until 2004 when they were sadly demolished before a preservation order could be obtained. Up until this time it was considered the only intact Second World War airfield in Northern Ireland. Several former flying boat tenders can be found on Irish waterways; many of these have now been adapted for leisure cruising. One of the best known is the Lady Corrib which started life as a flying boat refuelling vessel. It was owned for many years by the late Maurice Semple, author and one of the founder members of the IWAI’s Corrib Branch.

● More contemporary photographs from the Imperial War Museum Collection can be seen at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ Category:RAF_Castle_Archdale




Marple Lock Flight

Cobblestones under canopies of trees Working through Lock 13, nearly at the top.

Lock 13’s secret passage.

Along the Peak Forest Canal from Marple Junction.

Lock 5 surrounded by trees.

A FLIGHT of locks climbs away from Marple Junction where the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals meet. The locks are all listed and are among the deepest in the country, raising or lowering the Peak Forest Canal 13ft in each step. A climb through the lock flight, whether by boat or on foot, is a goosebump encounter with history, on a living canal. The Peak Forest Canal was completed in 1800, but the Marple locks weren’t built until 1804. A temporary tramway was used to bridge the one mile gap until the canal company had enough money to build the locks.

Lock 7 of the Marple Flight.

The Marple Aqueduct.

Today, black and white sweeping lock arms dominate the eye, but the Marple lock flight is defined by its delicious stonework. The locks melt into a Peak Forest landscape, jangling with contented nods from walkers and boaters; and the route is an outdoor adventure with the added intrigue of manmade mysteries from the past. Under the thunder of cascading water falling from one lock chamber to the next, the towpath conceals a secret passageway where the ghosts of working boat horses bawl in rhythm with the water. A tiny arched tunnel, cobbled underfoot, would once have rung with the heavy hooves of horses towing canal boats laden with coal and limestone. The tunnel acts as a museum piece, unbothered by labels and barriers as it brazenly stands still for anyone with the will to pass through. Then the thrill of an even tinier tunnel waits for the explorer – a short, dark, spiralling passageway leads from windswept open views of the canalside to the bottom of the great lock gates where canal water crashes in descent.

The bridge over Lock 15. There’s only room for one person at a time in this secret passageway, and the solitude can run riot with the imagination, picturing those who trod here before. This smaller passageway was once used by the crews of traditional working boats and the sensory explosion for today’s visitor is to ponder that this journey was just all in a day’s work for boating people 200 years ago.



The Towpath Angler

Our monthly look at the angling scene

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.

Oldknow’s warehouse between Locks 9 and 10.


LAST week I attended the latest meeting of CRT’s Members’ Council, where there were some excellent presentations. Two particular papers really seemed to catch the imagination. The first featured engagement with young people and CRT’s ongoing aims to increase diversity. The second was all about how our waterways can seriously contribute towards people’s health and wellbeing. Looking briefly at the issues relating to young people and diversity, it is clear that not just CRT itself but all the organisations/activities with which it is connected are similarly challenged. While young people are fairly easily attracted to waterway-based activities such as angling and canoeing the same is probably not true for canal cruising. That said, given all the alternative attractions it is unbelievably hard work. Increasing diversity is a different problem. Whether it is ethnicity, religion, gender or disability I guess there are 1001 reasons why individuals choose not to become involved. What we all have to do is ensure that our doors are always open to anyone and everyone and do everything we can to reach as many people as possible. The second discussion was equally enthralling. While everyone in the room had little doubt that our waterways have such a lot to offer it was good to see so many opportunities identified. From the angling perspective it is probably true to say that many participants see it totally as a good way to chill out, whether alone, as part of a family outing or in a match. What we all have to do, of course, is make certain that access to towpaths is good and safe, that anti-social behaviour in whatever form is kept to the barest minimum and, very importantly, continually recognise the needs and rights of others.

Points win prizes

Angling Trust’s Division 2 National Championship took place in midSeptember on the Leeds & Liverpool in the Wigan area. Thirty-one teams took part and while the fishing was a little disappointing the anglers all appeared to enjoy the day. The following day saw the pilot CRT/AT Canal Pairs event on the Shropshire Union near Market Drayton. Sixty-eight pairs engaged in a closely fought contest where points certainly meant prizes. The junior event run on the same day was not as well supported as was hoped but


Marple Aqueduct A few hundred yards beyond the last lock is the 300ft-long Marple Aqueduct, 100ft above the river Goyt below, with a dramatic railway viaduct towering even higher above. Marple Aqueduct is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

nonetheless it proved to be a great day for the youngsters, all of whom walked away with a cracking prize presented by CRT chairman Tony Hales. In 2015 it is planned that each waterway will host a qualifier from where the top pairs will go on to fish a grand final. The AT/CRT Stillwater Championship concluded with the grand final at CRT’s Blythe Waters fishery. The finalists were very complimentary about the competition and said they were looking forward to 2015. Regarding the current form of our canals, I mentioned the National at Wigan last month. It is clear there are stacks of fish in the canal there and, importantly, they respond well to basic baits such as worm and maggots. The big north-east canal, the Aire & Calder, is on great form. I have not fished it for several years but the fishing was really enjoyable once you had really ‘sussed out’ your swim. Just down the road from me is the Loughborough section of the Grand Union. Again I am hearing some tremendous catch reports. On a personal note, two weeks ago I took part in the Water Industry National Championship on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal as a member of one of the teams representing Severn Trent Water. Up to close of practice the hot, bright, still weather had suppressed catches and although match day saw cloudy conditions with a little breeze it still proved hard for many with just 5kg required for the individual win. I drew a less fancied section and put together a few bits and pieces to leave me about halfway in my section, so not a total disaster. I am still hopeful that my usual autumn run of results will happen again this year. Tight lines.

Hughes nets stillwater championship

Top Lock at Marple Junction.

Marple Lock Flight The flight is a mix of stonework, black and white lock arms and the greenery from surrounding woodland. Each of the individual locks in the Marple flight and their adjacent footbridges are Grade II listed. Posset Bridge by Lock 13 acquired its name because Samuel Oldknow, a local industrialist and promoter of the canal, was anxious that the canal should be finished on time. To spur on the workmen, he had ‘ale possets’ (hot milk, ale, bread and spice) made for their breakfast by the Navigation Inn nearby. His plan must have worked – the canal was completed in time for Oldknow’s boat to make the first trip.

David Kent

Marple Junction Marple Junction is at the top of Marple Locks, where the Macclesfield meets the Peak Forest Canal. Location Marple. OS Grid ref: OS SE107399 Canal: Peak Forest Canal

Bailey’s Trading Post, Higher Poynton. Day boat hire. 01625 872277 www.baileystradingpost.co.uk Moorings There are visitor moorings above the Top Lock, beyond the junction with the Macclesfield Canal, and between the foot of the flight and Marple Aqueduct.

How to get there By train Nearest train station is Marple National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950 By bus Traveline 08712 002233 By car Park roadside at various points down the flight. On foot The Peak Forest Canal towpath down Marple Flight is popular with both walkers and cyclists. By boat Nearest boat hire: Braidbar Boats, Higher Poynton. Holiday boat hire. 01625 873471 www.braidbarboats.co.uk

Local Tourist info Tourist Information Centre www.visitpeakdistrict.com Take a virtual tour of the lock flight with information about points of interest. www.marple-uk.com Marple Locks Heritage Society Works in partnership with Canal & River Trust and others to promote and enhance the flight. The society also organises the Marple Locks Festival every other year (next festival is 2015). www.marplelocks.org.uk Canal & River Trust Use the Canal & River Trust website to find specific local information. www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

THE winner of the Angling Trust and Canal & River Trust Stillwater Championship on September 20, at Blythe Waters Fishery near Solihull, was 2013 Fish‘O’Mania champion Jamie Hughes (Mayer/Bag’em Matchbaits). During the week the venue had experienced an Indian summer with catches of over 100lb from all of the pools. However, heavy overnight rain dropped the temperature of the water and the 36 competitors experienced a cold, overcast, windless day with the fish proving hard to tempt in the final.

Persisting with pellet he fished a depth at 16 to be able to catch carp throughout the day to end up with a weight of 113.7lb to take the first prize of £2220. In second place and just one fish shy of winning was Sean Huggins (Dynamite Matchbaits/Drennan Leicester), a previous winner of this event, with 111.6lb for the £1665 prize. Third place went to Steve Openshaw (Lingmere Fisheries) who caught 73.8lb to win £1110. The final big money prize of £555 went to Charles Simpson with a weight of 71.11lb.

Police chief in pledge to act on fish theft THE Angling Trust has won support from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure that all chief officers in England and Wales will receive training about poaching and fish theft, and pass this on to their operational staff. The national policing lead for wildlife and rural crime, Simon Prince (Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys), one of the most senior police officers in the country, has given his backing to the initiative which will ensure that the police respond properly to reports of poaching and fish theft. To date, anglers have been frustrated when reporting criminal offences connected with poaching and fish theft to the police due to confusion among call-

handlers and operational police officers who have not been aware of their duties and responsibilities in this area. Retired police officer and Angling Trust national enforcement manager Dilip Sarkar has been working to address this issue with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and individual forces over the past two years. He said: “This is a massive step forward, which will bring an end to what, for anglers, has been an unacceptable situation. “We are grateful to Mr Prince in particular, and to the National Wildlife Crime Unit, for essential and ongoing understanding and support – which ultimately means poachers will increasingly find themselves with criminal records and being prosecuted.”



The Wet Web As the nights draw in, Helen Gazeley finds some spooky tales to give us the shivers. DARK evenings, quiet towpaths, creaking ropes and... what was that? A broken branch passing downstream or something altogether less substantial knocking against the hull? I’m sure we’ve all been arrested by unusual noises and, given the surroundings and history of the waterways, it’s not surprising that ghost stories abound.

The Ghost Lady, Lyn Cindery, initiates visitors into Gloucester’s ghostly corners throughout the year.

Black Jack’s Lock, near Harefield, is said to be home to the ghost of a man who harassed passing boaters at night, and it’s a shame that the naked revellers seen by Stephen Thomas as he passed by on nb Essendee in August this year (essendee1958.blogspot.co.uk) seem unconnected with the tale. Further along the Grand Union, Blisworth Tunnel, where 14 men

Bill Cawley takes the Shriek in Leek tour through the graveyard.

died during construction, is a renowned ghost hotspot, with some boaters reporting the sight of the original, fallen-in tunnel, lit by candlelight. Irene Jameison took nb Free Spirit (nbfreespirit. blogspot.co.uk) through the tunnel alone in March 2012 and, convinced she saw a light disappearing into the wall, has spent time examining the tunnel on return visits. Is she right that perhaps she actually saw her boat light bouncing off stalactites in the side tunnel? Another tunnel with a mysterious presence is the Trent & Mersey’s Harecastle Tunnel, frequented by Kit Crewbucket, supposedly the ghost of a murdered woman thrown into the canal. Allan and Debbie of nb Keeping Up (www.keeping-up .co.uk/Canals/canalshome.htm) report their brush with the supernatural back in 1990, with Allan now firmly convinced in the existence of ghosts. Still, you don’t have to hang around dripping tunnels to meet the spookier side of life; google for ghost walks in any reasonably sized town along the waterways this winter and you’re in with a chance. The Shroppie may be the most haunted canal (bit.ly/1vHHH0F), but moor up near Shrewsbury and, on Thursday evenings in November, you can enjoy a tour round one of the most haunted towns in England (www.shropshire tourism.co.uk). Over in Staffordshire, Bill Cawley will take you for a Shriek in Leek

The team that leads Stratford’s ghost walks are all professional magicians, entertainers or actors. every Friday (www.visitleek.co.uk/ calendar), while Bill Spectre’s on a Ghost Trail in Oxford (www.ghost trail.org) and podcasts on his website give a flavour of his delivery. Author and blacksmith John Girvan tells tales in Devizes (www.verity.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk), while Flecky Bennett in Manchester not only offers a ghost tour, but also a Haunted Underground Experience (http://manchesterghostwalk.co.uk) The award-winning Ghost Walk in Stratford-upon-Avon (www. stratfordtownwalk.co.uk) is led by colourful guides, some of them professional magicians, which promises a fun evening, and you may still have time to join the special Halloween walk (31/10 and 1/11), to include a visit to Hall’s Croft (featured on TV’s Most Haunted) and a glass of spiritraising mulled wine. In Gloucester, Lyn Cinderey – The Ghost Lady – walks out (www.gloucesterghostwalks.co.uk) throughout winter on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She has a number of tales of ships in the docks, and it would be worth asking about the overnight vigil at the Waterways Museum that rendered a few surprises. Booking is advised for

most walks, and in some cases is essential. For sheer number of walks available, it’s difficult to beat York. Not only can you moor near the city centre, but every night you can choose to assemble at The Shambles (www.ghosthunt.co.uk), the Minster (www.ghosttrail.co.uk), Stonegate (www.ghostwalks york.com), Jorvik Viking Centre (www.ghostdetective.com) or Ouse Bridge (www.theoriginalghost walkofyork.co.uk). You can even take a bus (www.theghostbus tours.com). Booking is advised for most of the walks mentioned above, and in some cases is essential. And if the idea of straying out of an evening doesn’t appeal, why not snuggle down with the retelling of an unsettling story related to Malcolm Stirling about the Black Barge at Rickmansworth? You’ll find it on Peggy Melmoth’s blog (http://bit.ly/1Elk8Rn)? It just shows that stories don’t have to be gory to be chilling.

➔ Formoreinformation Do you have a favourite website? Email Helen at helengazeley@aol.com

The busy scene at the boat club.

Free boat trips at club’s open day

Opening the event are Halton Mayor Coun Shaun Osborne and his wife Della.


THE Bridgewater Motor Boat Club, along with Halton Disability Partnership, once again opened the club to the people of Runcorn for a day of fun, music and entertainment. After opening the event, the Mayor of Halton, Coun Shaun Osborne, and his wife, Della, took a trip on the charity boat The Wizard on loan for the day from Warrington Disability Partnership. This is the second successful event that has been hosted by the boat club which was enjoyed by young and old alike. There was a never ending queue of people eager to take

their first trips by boat along the canal which were provided free of charge. Also on loan for the day were Chester Castle from Claymore Narrowboats and Ada, the Canal Adventure Project’s wide-beam boat which was used by the children to do various crafts. There was non-stop music all day from a brass band to boy groups and also the up and coming band Watchtower who were the runners-up in the national final of the Battle of the Bands and for those that wanted more traditional music there was plenty of that inside the clubhouse.




Your chance to write to us on any Towpath topic:

Towpath Talk, PO Box 43, Horncastle, Lincs LN9 6LZ editorial@towpathtalk.co.uk

Visit London’s waterways and judge for yourself

★ 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 www.silkyproducts.com and selected retail outlets, Silky Products have been manufactured in Slaithwaite near Huddersfield for more than 40 years.

Trapped on the towpath MAY I, through your columns, put forward a plea to the Canal & River Trust? I am an elderly, but very active boater, from the waist upwards. Below the waist is a different story as spinal damage means I am only able to walk short distances. Also, I cannot stand journeys of more than 30 minutes in any vehicle because of the vibration and side-to-side movement. Therefore, our boat is absolutely ideal. I can stand on my rubber mats, in my rubber trainers and steer my way calmly and comfortably through any amount of lovely scenery to many distant parts of the country, which in this context, need no further description. Without the boat I would be isolated and miserable. Also I am able to take my trusty little mobility scooter too, so – well equipped – I can explore a little, or shop off the canal. Or I could, if it was always possible to get off the towpath.

In so many places there are insurmountable barriers preventing this; steps up to road level, or lumpy steep scrambles and – really frustrating – nice modern ramps with steps at the top. My husband is elderly too and it falls to him to try to lift my scooter over these obstructions, often impossible. Also, I observe that there are a lot of us! Most boaters are middle aged to elderly and I meet many who are disabled. Boating is such a perfect therapy for this group, but it is so frustrating to be trapped on the towpath while other folk can go off to do a little sightseeing. I therefore appeal to the CRT, please remember us when you are towpath designing, repairing, etc. I am not asking for designated ‘Disabled’ moorings. In my view they are unnecessary. Just a little thought about access please. Thank you.

I WAS sorry to read Mike Garland’s letter about his experience of boating in London (Talkback, Issue 108, October). London is very busy, and we’re doing all we can to make the limited space work for all the boaters who want to cruise the capital’s waterways. We’ve amended our visitor mooring proposals since the draft that Mr Garland refers to, and have been working hard to make sure that we communicate our mooring rules and enforce them effectively. We’ve started a new initiative to text boaters in London when they’ve reached the maximum stay time on a 14-day mooring to remind them to move. This goes hand-in-hand with conversations on the towpath so boaters are aware of their responsibilities. We’ve recruited an enforcement supervisor and another enforcement officer for London. A further enforcement officer vacancy is also being advertised to bring the London enforcement team to full strength. We can’t stop boaters coming to

London, but we do our best to encourage people to think very hard before taking the plunge to live on their boat here. New continuous cruisers are now contacted with clear information about the movement requirements and we follow up with those who aren’t moving far enough. We’re trying to make the most of the space we have. New mooring rings are being installed in Camden and Haggerston to create more places for boaters to stop, and we’re also planning moorings along the Lee Navigation by the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. London will always be popular but it can be a fantastic place to visit by boat. Yes, you may end up double berthing at times, but boaters are in general a friendly bunch and happy to have you moor alongside. Part of the joy of boating is meeting new people as well as seeing new places after all. I’d encourage boaters to visit our London waterways and to judge for themselves. Sorwar Ahmed Canal & River Trust

Canal is in a sorry state

WHILE I agree with Mike Witt of nb Rhapsody that ‘canals are not a playground for asinine behaviour,’ (Talkback, Issue 107, September) I feel it is unfair to single out hirers. In August, while cruising the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals, friends and I met the same privately owned narrowboat separately and we witnessed appalling behaviour by its skipper – who was proudly wearing an Inland Waterways Association sweater. First, at the end of the Ellesmere Arm when a hire boat was in the process of winding, he entered the already occupied winding hole to turn. This forced the hire boat to take evasive action. Later the same day I encountered the same boat at Frankton Locks, where the skipper ignored the advice of three other boat crews, stole a lock to descend when it was prepared for the boat below to ascend, and caused low water in a pound, leaving my boat aground. It’s not just hirers who are causing problems on the waterways.

IN YOUR Talkback section in the October edition (Issue 108) Graham Harding went to great lengths to explain the sorry state of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals. We too spent several weeks on this canal this year, as we do most years and I don’t believe we have ever seen it in such a sorry state. Being senior citizens and not that clever on our feet, our main

Gareth Child nb Honey

Credit where it’s due

CRT marketing director Simon Salem replies: “It’s uplifting to hear accounts such as Mrs Davies. It’s an example of how the network plays an important role in so many people’s lives. We know that personal stories such as Mrs Davies are at the heart of why a growing number of people are supporting our work by becoming Friends of the Canal & River Trust. “When it comes to getting on and off the network, we do as much as possible to make it as easy as possible. In Georgian Britain the

waterways weren’t designed with accessibility for all in mind, so it can be challenging at times. “As a charity, we’re constantly working with funders to help improve things. As an example, the official opening of Postles Bridge on the Llangollen Canal is reported in this issue of Towpath Talk. It’s a wonderful example of the trust working with the People’s Postcode Lottery and other funders to improve access for boaters and residents alike in and around the World Heritage Site at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.”

There may be a genuine reason for ‘overstay’ I MUST take issue with Tony Yorke regarding ‘overstaying’ at Skipton visitor moorings (Talkback, Issue 108, October). Very good friends of mine went from Mercia Marina in South Derbyshire to Skipton for the Tour de France. This couple are very law abiding and follow the rules religiously. Unfortunately, while there the wife incurred a serious infection in her toe which required both doctor and hospital appointments, the last of which was on October 3 when she was referred to a specialist in Manchester and may require surgery.

They moved their boat frequently but remained in the vicinity and always kept the supervisor informed of the situation. If Tony Yorke was so bothered about any boats overstaying in that area, perhaps he could have just gone and knocked on the boat(s) concerned and he would have found out there may be very genuine reasons for ‘overstaying’. You never know, Tony, you might find yourself in such a situation. But, rest assured, there will always be another Tony out there watching you! Maisie Trotman nb Global Spirit

Thanks to Twickenham reader Alan Smith for pointing out that the gremlins got into Steve Dean’s article about the Blisworth Tunnel’s Transport Trust plaque and one word got changed thus implying that the tunnel is the longest navigable one on the network. As the wheel states, it is the longest navigable BROAD tunnel but as Mr Smith rightly points out, the longest is Standedge, which he recently navigated.

Unfair to single out hirers

Mrs Linda Davies

This sign, snapped by Ken Churchill, could be a bit ambiguous.

Not as long as it’s broad

Boaters Philip and Helen Pritchett share the following letter they sent to the Canal & River Trust: I would like to pass on details of an exceptional service from one of your volunteer lock keepers. On Thursday, August 14, 2014, my husband and I were navigating the locks at Hillmorton on the Oxford Canal when our gearbox failed as we were entering the middle lock. We called out an engineer and unfortunately they were unable to replace the part until the following Monday. We were moored temporarily in the lock pound between the top and second lock. This was not an ideal location and my husband spoke to Maurice, the volunteer lock keeper. My husband explained our predicament, also explaining that I am just recovering from cancer treatment and therefore not able to undertake the heavy physical work required to move the boat. Maurice was outstanding and with another willing and helpful boater assisted us to move the boat manually through the remaining two locks to a safer mooring just past the bottom lock. We cannot thank Maurice enough for his advice, help and assistance. Without him I am not sure how we would have managed the situation. He is, in my opinion, an outstanding ambassador for the trust and I would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks and gratitude. Helen and Philip Pritchett nb Dabchick

Conjuring up the history of the area I FEEL I must reply to Graham Harding (Talkback, Issue 108, October) having just cruised the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals. Although it can be a little challenging – CRT does need to spend some time and money on repair and maintenance – the outstanding scenery, walks, towns and villages of the area make it definitely worth a visit. Macclesfield to Marple, Strines, New Mills, Whaley Bridge and, of course last but not least, Bugsworth Basin – even the names conjure up the history of this area. Please don’t be put off, give it a try you won’t be disappointed. Jenny Cockburn By email

concern is, ‘what do we do in an emergency when we can’t pull in to the towpath, because we can’t see it in order to do so’? More to the point, what is our new charity going to do about it? Until this is rectified and we hear about it being cleaned up, I’m afraid this pair of pensioners will be avoiding the Macclesfield altogether. Dave Chamberlain By email

Desecration of our heritage AS I understand the matter, the Canal & River Trust is there to look after our waterways, having been handed this poisoned chalice after neglect by British Waterways. The CRT must be wondering where to start. A recent visit to Burton, in Cumbria, showed a beautiful canal being neglected over many years. Almost a two-mile stretch had been taken over by Norfolk reed, trees growing from the towpath, an ash tree growing from bridge masonry; the list is endless. Cut in several places by the M6, the government of the day was more concerned with building the motorway. What a lack of foresight, and what a difficult job for those dedicated to restoration. The CRT has to make a more spirited effort to get this lovely canal joined at the Tewitfield Locks to the rest of our waterways. Bret Oakes Kendal

Only a minority flout the rules I WAS somewhat surprised by Mike Garland’s rant in Towpath Talk (TalkBack, Issue 108, October) advising boaters not to visit London. I have made numerous cruises through London during this summer and have not encountered any of the problems he mentions. There have been spaces on visitor moorings at Paddington and Little Venice on several occasions, and even Islington.

CRT’s enforcement officers have definitely been active and I do feel that the recent changes to visitor moorings at Little Venice has resulted in space becoming available. Yes there are a lot of boats in London, and there is a minority that flout the rules but it’s not the ghetto that Mike describes. Neil Quarmby By email

Too many weeds along the towpaths THERE are too many weeds and reeds in the canals and far too many are left to grow along the towpath edges. They are not needed for the wildlife as there is plenty of growth on the offside and by the hedges etc the other side of the towpath. If the Canal & River Trust wants to encourage all comers to enjoy the canal and towpath environments it had better look to cutting back the weeds along the towpath edges because in many places you can’t even SEE the canal from the towpath because the weeds are too high. I once wrote a little rhyme (with apologies to Ogden Nash): I think that I have never seed, A towpath that’s improved by weed, And now the weeds have grown so tall, The towpath can’t be seen at all! Yes Doug Wild (Talkback, Issue 107, September) let’s start a campaign for towpaths to be trimmed to the water’s edge! Sadie Heritage By email



A complete and utter shambles

I WOULD never have thought, that in my 54 years of personal involvement with the inland waterways in restoration and publicity matters, that I would finish up visiting the canal where I first got involved and find conditions almost as bad as they were in 1962, when closure and abandonment were a real threat. I am referring to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal – widely regarded by many as one of the most attractive in the country – the appearance of which has been virtually wrecked as a result of a badly organised and chaotic vegetation control contract. The Canal Society’s officials are absolutely furious and were set to vent their anger when they met the Canal & River Trust’s chief executive Richard Parry and trustee John Dodwell at a Stourbridge boating event on October 17. But what has really annoyed me, has been that the trust has tried to wriggle out of the responsibility of being a major player in this utter disaster. From what I gather, the contract was basically unworkable and instead of starting again, CRT and its contractors tried to cobble up a solution with disastrous results. Once again – just as in the days of BW – CRT seem to be about to blame everyone except itself. It will be interesting to learn how Mr Parry extricated himself from this at Stourbridge. Happily I have been assured I will be told all about his visit and who said what.

But the Staffs & Worcs is not the only black spot...

Among the many letters in last month’s issue, there were some complaining bitterly about the overgrown condition of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the Macclesfield, where there has been an allegation of decades of neglect. And there is more. Parts of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal are beginning to look like the Staffs & Worcs, while the Stourbridge is only just passable because of weed growth. With such chaos, one wonders what infests the waterway offices. The Trust sold off all its vegetation and grass cutting equipment and now we have contractors who seem to be incapable of delivering, with supervisors who at times appear totally clueless. The Stourbridge Canal was where, in 1962, the former British Transport Commission got a bloody nose and the Inland Waterways Association forced a national rethink on canal closures. It is truly ironic that this canal is in dire straits because of the behaviour of the very people who are supposed to maintain it. The only thing I can say to Richard Parry is simple: You are presiding over an organisation that is simply not performing on the ground. And as far as customer (boater) service is concerned this is about as effective as a chocolate teapot. It appears you cannot totally control some of the former BW dinosaurs that still prowl the offices.

ToWpATh TiTTer CONTINUING our light-hearted look at life on the cut. Harry Arnold of Waterway Images snapped this recently painted zebra crossing at Fradley – but should there be a warning sign?

Another contribution from Les Heath.

And don’t step off the edge.

In this month’s extracts from her online blog, Amy Whitewick takes a tour of the marina. THE interior of our girl is finally starting to take shape, what with mum’s exceptional wallpapering skills and fastidious painting. Never before have I witnessed such skill in cutting straight lines, especially when someone (meaning me) had the attack of the fidgets after eating an entire 150g bar of Turkish delight in one go. The effects of E numbers aren’t just for children to enjoy, especially when you have a 12ftwide boat to race backwards and forwards across.

Fatal attraction

Thankfully, dad can’t see any of the bits I missed the other week when I cleaned the brass mushrooms, as he lost his posh reading glasses (guess where? splash). Shortly after, he cunningly devised a complex system of crocodile clips, wire and super-strong magnets to go fishing with in the hope of retrieving them. After a few fruitless dunks, an excited look crossed his face as weird, grungy treasure emerged. Out came a metal bucket and a huge hand saw a lumberjack would be proud of (caught by the tip, of course).

If you happen to find his glasses, they used to have white arms with ‘Red or Dead’ written on them. Judging by the time they have been submerged, the arms will be orange and the label will say ‘Brown or Drowned’. Mum has a mental image of opening the blinds one day and seeing a duck or swan emerge from the water wearing them. Very fetching. The magnets on dad’s fishing device are so strong, I’m starting to wonder if that’s the reason that all the other boats around us don’t move from their moorings. I dread to think what happens if they suddenly need a pump out – we’ll have to hold their hands when they go. I think it’s called fatal attraction.

Mystery neighbours

We like our boaty neighbours, signwriter Rob and his lovely lady, for one very good reason. They described our girl as a Ferrari. Wow. Everyone else just tells us she’s huge, a monster, a beast, the sort of thing that gets in the way. Apparently it’s to do with her shape, which Rob fondly described as ‘wide and low’. She’s also wide and slow, thankfully, or she may well cause serious problems on the

Would this drive up the Grand Union Canal?

canal with washing fisherman off of banks and the like. Rob’s boat is one of the skinny fraternity, with a chug-along Lister engine – the sort that the person steering it has to don goggles, a flying helmet and a stiff-wired scarf (there’s hardly any breeze when travelling at 4mph, hence the wire for dramatic impact). Rob’s other name is Biggles. The marina has a great community and social life – it’s like being on holiday. I actually saw someone wearing a Hawaiian shirt once. Often, dad and I go off on a mystery tour while mum does the wallpapering. The jetty boards zigzag all over the marina, and you have absolutely no idea who (or what) you might encounter next. On our last tour, we could smell gravy at the back of one of the boats. We only had to lick our lips and our friend Ian pounced off of his stern to proudly tell us he and some friends were having a huge roast pork that evening. How on earth they got it in the oven, we’ll never know – that’s the reason we call our tours ‘mystery’. Waving goodbye, we decided to wander in the other direction towards the marina office to buy some supplies. We passed a boat called Guinness, whose owners were painting a frothy white stripe along the top of the black side panels. At that moment, every fly in existence

A narrowboat negotiates an overgrown stretch. PHOTO: COLIN CARTWRIGHT Do you agree or disagree with Stillwater’s comments? Send your views to Talkback (see previous page)

And this jaw-dropping picture comes from Eddie Barford of Mersey Motor Boat Club.

Careful of the shark-infested waters along the Shropshire Union...

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: editorial@towpathtalk.co.uk

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

Did this swan find the missing glasses or has it been to Specsavers? got stuck to the fresh paintwork, and their boat ended up resembling a packet of garibaldi biscuits. Another mystery. Eventually, we made it back and flopped out on the jetty boards to feed the swans with a family-sized box of Shreddies. I buy the swans are delighted with their own pack. So is the supermarket, even though they look

slightly suspicious as I pass the checkout with a bulk-load of boxes in the trolley. I’ve put in a request to the Shreddies nanas to hurry up and knit more, as there will soon be a world shortage. We’ll have to sort the kitchen soon, or there may well be a shortage of cupboard space, too. Keeping mugs in the wardrobe is a bit awkward!





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Towpath Talk - November 2014 - FULL  

See more: http://www.towpathtalk.co.uk/

Towpath Talk - November 2014 - FULL  

See more: http://www.towpathtalk.co.uk/