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Restoration in France Olympic Park Update Friends of the River Nene

Photo: Steven Jackson

The IWA charity registered number 212342

The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Inland Waterways Association or of the Peterborough Branch. They are, however, published as being of interest to our members and readers


Described in words and pictures by Andrew Storrar Just as in the UK, the wa terways of France are experiencing a resurgence with the blossoming popularity of leisure cru ising, and formerly disused waterways are being brought back to life again. On my holiday in the Loire Valley with my friend Anne-Ma rie, from Tours, in June this year, we were able to explore the River Cher and its continuation the Canal du Berry, which have been out of use for many years, and take a short trip-boa t outing on the former. The River Cher was canalized in the 1830s over a distance of about 130km from the confluence with the Loire west of Tours up to Vierzon. After completion of the Canal du Berry, the northern branch of which runs parallel to the River Cher from Vierzon down to Noyers-sur-Cher, the river was no longer maintained for navigation in this sect ion. This left 76km of river navigation, with the continuing 54 km to Vierzon by the Canal du Berry, one of the narrowest and remotest in France. The last 16km down to the Loire was effectively bypassed by a short junction canal running east of Tours from the Cher to the Loire. This junction canal was obliterated years ago by the Paris-Bordeaux motorwa y.

The ma jor pa rts of the waterway are otherwise intact. However projects for restoration of the river were for several years blocked by the opposition of the owners of the remarkable early 16 th century Chenonceau Ca stle, which strides the river on five arches, and a satisfactory solution has still to be defined to reconcile the conflicting interests of visitin g tourists to the castle and open navigation on the river, the possible perce ived indecorous behaviour of a minority of boat crews bein g considered d ifficult to control! In the meantime, however, the Syndicat du Cher Canalise in the departement of Loire-etCher, to whom the river was conceded in the 1950s, has gone ahead with restoration of its section, and in the summer of 1991 an isolated 29km length of the river, with 8 locks, being the eastern part of the river from Chisseaux lock to Saint-Aigna n, was opened to the passage of boats. In 1992 the entrance lock to the Canal du Berry, giv ing access to the canal basin and villa ge of Noyers-sur-Cher, was reopened. Further restoration up to the village of Selles-sur- Cher has added a nother 12km to the waterway.


The Cher flows gently through a broad valley bordered by gentle hills, making a most attractive landscape, with cultural a nd historic interest added not just by Chenoncea u, just 1.6km beyond the present limit of open navigation, but by severa l other castles and monuments in the va lley. A ma p of the waterwa y is shown in Fig 1. So what of the present? The previously reopened locks on the river a re currently c losed because of problems with the a djacent regulating weirs. However there is optimism that these will be overcome in the near future. The good news is that authorized trip -boats now operate most days on the 2km from Chisseaux lock, through one of the arches under the long ga llery of Chenonceau ca stle, before turning round a bove Chenoncea u lock a nd returning to base, a trip of 50 minutes. Fig 2 shows the trip -boat quay below Chisseaux lock, Fig 3 approa ching Chenoncea u Castle from upstream and Fig 4 from downstream, the boat having in the mea ntime turned round. The second a rch from the left on Fig 3 is the na viga tion a rch and is plenty wide enough, so the risk to the precious castle from boat passa ge would appear small. It is certainly an easy pa ssage compared say with Potter Heigha m on the river Thurn or the bridges on Well Creek. A further trip -boat is in operation from Sa int-Aignan. That’s something to explore on my next visit to this beautiful part of France. Reference: David Edward-May “Inland Waterways of France” Imray Laurie & Wilson ISBN 0-85288-152-5”


Brian W. Smith Marine Surveyor Pre-Purchase Surveys Valuat ions—Insurance Survey s CE Co mplia nce for Home Build s Engine Evaluat ion & Condit ion

Ultra-sound Osmosis Assessment


Contact Brian on: Tel: 01366 388421 Mobile: 07887 781649 E-mail:

Middle Level Commissioners

Amended Navigation Legislation Proposals Chris Howes gives his thoughts on the Proposals The MLC is both a navigation and a drainage authority. Their drainage role is controlled by comparatively modern national legislation, however navigation is governed by individual specific local Acts of Parliament. MLC currently do not have the authority to charge boaters a licence fee, and the Middle Level is probably the only remaining navigable area in the country where a fee can’t be charged. (One does however wonder if they are still entit led to charge tolls on boat movements, based on cargo weight ?). In February of this year the MLC launched a consultation with a view to progressing Parliamentary legislation to charge a boat licence. Many local boaters feel that it’s about time that boating on the Middle Levels was put on the same footing as it is in the rest of the country. If MLC derived an income from boaters it would generate funds which could be re-invested into improved facilit ies for those boaters. It would also allow MLC to effectively regulate boats on their system. Any licencing system would require boaters to obtain a Boat Safety Certificate which is necessary absolutely everywhere else on the navigable system. Although the MLC’s proposals have found widespread support from local boating clubs and the IWA both locally and nationally, there is a group of objectors who have started a petition which is attracting a trickle of support from all over the internet. They argue that the proposals threaten “rights given ... in the 17th century by the Duke of Bedford”, and appear to compare chargin g a licence fee to the National Trust closing footpaths in Yorkshire Dales and Lake Windermere. Although they recognise a need for improved facilities they expect the MLC’s drainage customers to subsidise increased spending on navigation. One has to ask “why ?”. I for one welcome the Middle Level Commissioners proposals. To get a boat licence, a boat will need insurance and a valid boat safety certificate. The apparently abandoned boats, currently rotting away on the Old Nene through March will either need to be fixed up, or got rid of. It has often struck me as wrong that Middle Level waters are best known as a refuge for boaters who can avoid the safety requirements and financial commitments to which the rest of the country's boat owners have to adhere to. If we want Fenland to aspire to be a tourist destination in the same way that the Norfolk Broads, or Holland are, generating income to invest in our currently largely inaccessible waterways is a necessary first stage. To misquote the Beatles:- “the best things in life are free, but you can keep ‘em for the birds and bees. Now give me moorings and water points, signage and public information boards, pump-outs and access to locks without booking in advance..... That’s what I want!” Chris 4



Diesel - Calor



Chairman’s Reflections Summer is still lingering, autumn is knocking on the door. Reflecting on the summer that took a long time to arrive we all have our thoughts and memories. June on the Ouse was at times a challenge with the fast stream, high waters and winds. By the time August arrived the warmer wea ther was with us. Th is year I cruised to the Pelsall Festival of Wa ter. As usual there were various obstructions on the Nene, particularly the shoaling below Peterborough Boat Club. No effort appears to have been made regarding this longterm obstruction other than enla rgin g the area of the marking buoys. The lock landing a t Titchmarsh Mill is still out of commission. Continuing onwards up the Grand Union into Birmingham is fine until you get past Knowle locks, then again shallow water prevails, and moorings are hard to come by. The Tame Valley and Rushall canals were heavily weeded, causing lots of reverse a nd weed hatch up. It made the Well Creek a joy to navigate. So wha t impressions did I take away from being on differently managed waters. The honey pot sites are well maintained but work is required on the lesser-used waterways or they will become extremely hard to naviga te. Welches Dam lock is work in progress and will continue so for the foreseeable future. The work parties have started up again we would be pleased to welcome new volunteers. David Venn

David’s journey to the Pelsall event took in the Birmingham Canal Navigations with this view showing the typical scenery of these iconic waters. You either love ’e m or hate ‘e m—the choice is yours!


GOVERNMENT CHANGES THE IMPACT ON THE WATERWAYS With the changes in Government that have taken place as a result of the decision for the United Kingdom to leave the European Community the Right Honourable Andrea Leadsom, MP was appointed Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFR A) wh ich includes responsibility for the Inland Waterways. Our colleagues in the East Anglian Waterways Association have been quick off the mark to write to the new min ister to lobby for action on the co-ordination of navigation issues still outstanding between the EA and CRT.

Diary Date for December


Ivan Cane will present a talk to the Branch on Tuesday 6th December at the Peterborough Indoor Bowls Club, Burton Street, Peterborough at 7.30pm. All are welcome. Basically looking at Staunches/stanches, flash locks and early pound locks. By its nature the talk focuses on our Fenland waters, for the Lile Ouse structures were fairly photographic, and the Lark, although with few actual pictures, was extensively rebuilt in the early 20th century, oen with more primive plank staunches! Ivan has a wealth of knowledge on this subject and it should make for an interesng evening. Orton Staunch as it is known to Peterborough folk is a well known structure on the River Nene. This rela tively modern in stallation replaced a much older and more primitive staunch perhaps similar to those Ivan will cover in his talk


Mill Drove, Ramsey Cambs. PE26 2RD Tel: 01487 813621 www.b

Moorings occasionally available, £15 per foot per year + VAT, if paid annually. Slipway for bottom blacking from £120.00 Chandlery, Fuel, Gas, Toilets, Shower We stock Rylard & Craftmaster Paints, Anodes, Coflex, Rust Konverta, Incralac etc.


LOCAL NEWS ITEMS New Eastern Region Chairman John Pomfret has been appointed to the post of Regional Chairman which has been vacant for some time. John has been a member of IWA since about 1970. John served on North East Branch, North East Region and Northumbria Branch Committees. Chairman of the Inland Waterways Freight Group. Past Chairman of the North East Inland Shipping Committee. Member of IWA Board and of the Navigation Committee from 2000 to 2013. Member of IWAAC and IWAC from 2001 to 2009. He is author of the Wildlife Conservation chapter of IWA’s Technical Restoration Handbook. John has been boating since 1968. Owner of narrow boat tug ‘Speedwell’ 1978-85, operated for holiday hire and winter towing contracts. Responsible for 11m seagoing survey vessel and two smaller vessels at work at Northumbrian Water from 19791991. Owner of 15.5m narrowboat ‘Black Pig’ since 1997, as well as 19m x 3.4m Dutch barge ‘Drijfhuis’ since 2001. Particular interests: boating on canals, rivers and estuaries, residential boats, industrial archaeology, freight carryin g, railways, rowing, waterway wildlife conservation.

Well Creek Closure Well C reek on the Middle Levels through route will be closed to navigation on and from 5th January 2017 for 6 weeks for further dredgin g work to take place. There will be no access for boats to Well Creek during th is period.

November Attempt on the Old Bedford John Revell is planning another attempt to navigate the Old Bedford River durin g the first week of November. He will be supported by a group of Branch members in an effort to make the full passage as far as Welches Dam Lock entrance. It is hoped that tides and water levels will assist in making this attempt more successful than the one made last year which was dogged by low water in the entrance channel and heavy accumulations of weed in the channel up towards Welney. A report on the venture will be included in the next edition of Hereward. A look back to last year when John made an attempt on the Old Bedford with Olive Emily . Here he is entering the channel at Salters Lode

Welcome The Branch offers a warm welcome to Tim and Sara Millward who have recently joined our ranks.






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COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHAIRMAN: David Venn, Bruffs Lodge, High Street, Nordelph, Downham Market PE38 0BL Tel: 01366 324102 SECRETARY: Roger Green, 70 Windmill Close, Ellington, Huntingdon, Cambs PE28 0AJ Tel: 01480 890215 Mobile: 07799 066001 e-mail: TREASURER: Roger Mungham Boatmans Cottage, Workhouse Lane, Upwell, Wisbech PE14 9ET Tel: 01945 773002 e-mail: EDITOR: Philip Halstead, 20 Cane Avenue, Peterborough PE2 9QT Tel: 01733 348500 e-mail: ENTERTAINMENTS OFFICER: Richard Fairman, The Old Railway House, Cowbit, Spalding, Lincs PE12 0XD Tel: 01406 380575 COMMITTEE MEMBERS Roger Sexton Stephen Heywood

Andrew Storrar Chris Howes

HORSEWAYS WORK PARTY DETAILS Dates have been finalised for holdin g Work Parties at Horseways Channel in the later part of this year and the early part of 2017. Anyone interested in taking part should meet at Horseways Lock at 10am on the dates indicated. Stout footwear and outdoor weather clothing are advised. Please also bring a packed lunch and drinks as the site is remote from such facilities. For more information contact David Venn—contact details above. 2016 October 19th November 2nd 16th 30th December 14th

2017 January 11th 25th February 8th 22nd and Weekend of 25th & 26th Feb


Email: 14

Olympic Park Update A return v isit was ma de to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in August and some notable developments were observed in relation to the waterways that form a main feature of the park. Work was well underwa y on fitting out Carpenters Roa d Lock with ga tes and lock gear to make it suitable for through na vigation providing a loop from the Lee Navigation through the Bow Back Rivers and the park. A lock opening ceremony and associated festival to mark that the Olympic Park Waterway in London is fully open to through na vigation is scheduled for the late May Bank Holiday Weekend 2017 (Friday 26th to Monday 29th). This route ha s previously been blocked by Crossra il construction work a nd the lock restoration work.

Work underway on Carpenters Road Lock with the Stadium behind

It wa s also good to see boats on the park’s waterways in the form of public trip boats offering c ruises on the River Lee and also some large pedal craft ava ilable for hire wh ich are in the form of la rge swans. These were popula r with young and old alike. With completion of the various construction works it is hoped that the time is not too far distant before private boaters have the opportunity to cruise into the park. With West Ha m now using the sta dium and the ga rdens now maturing nicely the plan to leave a legacy for all to enjoy from the Olympic investment seems to be bearing fruit. Trip boats moored on the Waterworks River with the Aquatics Centre in the background and the Stratford City high rise develo pments all round in the distance.


Introducing the Friends of the River Nene by Christine Colbert

The River Nene is something of jewel that has lacked the appreciation it deserves. Boaters will know that the relatively narrow course of the lower reaches is managed by the Middle Level Commissioners and drifts gently through Fenland and the charms of the market towns of March and Whittlesea ('ea' being the ancient local term for land raised above the fen). The upper course, above Stanground Lock, carries a much greater volume of water and is managed by the Environment Agency. This navigable upper section is truly majestic and flows from the medieval university town of Northampton through to the Cathedral City of Peterborough, on the way passing many delights including the charming stone built Oundle and the once famous Fotheringay where R ichard III was born and Mary Queen of Scots was executed. And the whole River is a haven for a remarkable range of wild life. Unfortunately the River Nene has suffered from the problem of a dearth of satisfactory moorings. March Town Council has had the vision to install short term moorings near the Town Bridge and the adjacent Park, and short term mooring is available beside the Ashline Lock. Otherwise little opportunity is available on the lower reaches. This is understandable as the Middle Level Commissioners is a drainage board and at present not entitled to charge for a boating licence, it therefore has no funds to invest in infrastructure relating to navigation. The Environment Agency has opened the very pleasant Marina adjacent to Beckets Park in Northampton, but unfortunately not seen fit to provide the length of the River with natural moorings. But now “The Friends of the River Nene� has come to the rescue! Formed only in 2014 the Friends of the River Nene have created a number of extremely pleasant and accessible moorings for their Members. The moorings are at carefully selected locations, with the Ditchford site presentin g a pleasant rural alternative to the moorings beside Wellin gborough Park. Pictured opposite are two of these delightful moorings – further photographs and full details of The Friends of the River Nene and their activities are shown on their website at


Moorings provided by ‘The Friends’ at Ditchford on the River Nene

Some views of the moorings provided by ‘the friends of the River Nene

A designated moorings place with ‘The Friends’ signboard on the Nene at Wadenhoe

Photos: Chrisne Colbert

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Hereward autumn 2016  

Hereward autumn 2016