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HEREWARD AUTUMN 2018 Boston—Peterborough Link Volunteering with EA Kiel Canal Middle Level Bill


Autumn Skies on the Middle Level

Photo: John Revell 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

River Welland

Willow Tree Fen

Folly River


oston and Peterborough are geographically only 30 miles apart, but at present navigating between them by boat requires either a challenging Wash crossing (for which boats designed for inlands waterways are not best suited) or a torturous 250 mile, 135 lock, 15 day trip along the River Witham, Fossdyke Canal, River Trent, Grand Union Canal and River Nene. Because of the narrow gauge locks on the Rothersthorpe flight, this journey can only be made by boats less than seven feet wide, and any other boats wishing to make this journey need to be craned out and transported by road. The Fens Waterways Link (FWL) was an ambitious scheme originally conceived in the early 2000's to develop and progress waterway links across the Fens from the Cathedral City of Ely in Cambridgeshire, through the Cathedral City of Peterborough and on to Boston. To date significant progress has been made with major investments at Boston, and extending accessibility to the waterways in Lincolnshire. A fresh initiative, the Boston to Peterborough Wetland Corridor, was launched at the IWA Festival of Water held at St Neots over August Bank Holiday. Its aim is to breathe new life back into that original vision. Lead by IWA Lincolnshire & Peterborough Branches the partnership brings together the Environment Agency and Lincolnshire County Council. The Partnership has identified the development of a wetland corridor connecting Boston and Peterborough as a tangible and deliverable section of waterway that can be progressed at a significantly lower cost than the original concept of Fens Waterways Link. Using largely existing waterways and public access footpaths the partnership has identified that the addition of approximately 12 miles of new channels to connect with 50 miles of existing waterways will create a significant new wetland corridor. This will incorporate and link Black Sluice Navigation (South Forty Foot Drain), the River Glen, the River Welland and the River Nene all of which are existing EA navigations. Widening the scope of the original Fens Waterways Link project will unlock new opportunities to incorporate a range of economic, ecological, environmental, and public access benefits in addition to extending the region’s navigations. This range of benefits will also facilitate wider options for obtaining funding such as flood risk management, health & wellbeing, and ecological enhancement The Partnership propose to form a charitable trust which will include representatives of all interested stakeholders. The Trust Board will be formed from volunteer stakeholders and significant regional and local representatives. The partnership is also aiming to reinvigorate public interest in the opportunities and benefits of the full FWL concept, particularly in the Peterborough, Lincolnshire and North Cambridgeshire areas. The benefits of the proposed new corridor far exceed the benefits to boating between Boston and Peterborough. It would provide a new route for cyclists and walkers, be welcomed by fishermen and other waterway enthusiasts - including canoeists and paddle boarders. It would benefit both flora and fauna, creating a wetland corridor, and bring welcome economic regeneration. Viewed in conjunction with the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway, together these two projects would better connect our Eastern waters with the national waterways network. Whereas the B&MKW will require over 40 locks, Boston to Peterborough crosses mainly flat agricultural land and it is anticipated that only 4 locks will be needed! The B&MKW bills itself as potentially “the first new waterway constructed in England in over a century”. Perhaps they need to watch out for the “new kids on the block”! 1



n October we embarked on a European Cruise on board on Cruise and Maritime’s “Astoria” – a lovely small, old (1947) liner. Ports visited included Rotterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Alborg and Kristiansand. The highlight of the cruise was passage through the Kiel Canal. The Kiel Canal, in northern Germany, extends eastward for 98 km (61 miles) from Brunsbüttelkoog (at the mouth of the Elbe River) to Holtenau (at Kiel Harbour on the Baltic Sea). The canal has been enlarged twice and is today 160 metres (526 feet) wide and 11 metres (37 feet) deep and is spanned by seven high-level bridges that have about 43 metres (140 feet) of clearance for ships beneath them. The locks are 45 metres (146 feet) wide by 327 metres (1,072 feet) long. The canal, built between 1887 and 1895, initially served German military needs by eliminating the necessity for ships to travel northward around the Danish peninsula, thus saving approximately 460 miles. It was enlarged between 1907 and 1914 to accommodate large naval ships.


The canal remains an important route for Baltic shipping today and further plans to enlarge it or being discussed. Our passage took 6 hours with frequent stops at canal traffic lights to allow huge container ships to pass through the narrow sections. The bridges seemed very tall allowing passage for some substantial vessels. A far cry from having to clear the roof of our narrowboat to navigate some of our canal and river bridges. It was good to see that lock sharing was encouraged – we transited through together with a container ship and several tugs and pilot boats. A thoroughly enjoyable and interesting experience. Great new live webcam of both ends of Kiel Canal is available, with German adverts at:

BRANCH WORK PARTIES—2018-19 Time to don your sturdy boots and finest working clothes, and join the team clearing the banks of the Horseway Arm of the Forty Foot. Coffee & Tea will be provided; please bring yourself a packed lunch. The meeting place is just through the gate of Allpress Farm, Byall Fen Drove - on the Horseway Arm of the Forty Foot. The sessions will start at 10.0am and run till approximately 3.00pm 2018 Wednesday 24th November 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 12th December 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 26th December DAY OFF ! 2019 Wednesday 9th January 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 23rd January 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 13th February 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 27th February 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 13th March 10.00am - 3.00pm Wednesday 27th March 10.00am - 3.00pm Please email or phone Roger Mungham if you can attend on 01945 773002 or at 3


COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHAIRMAN: Chris Howes e-mail: SECRETARY: Roger Green, 70 Windmill Close, Ellington, Huntingdon, Cambs PE28 0AJ Tel: 01480 890215 Mobile: 07799 066001 e-mail: TREASURER: Roger Mungham Tel: 01945 773002 e-mail: EDITOR: Philip Halstead, 20 Cane Avenue, Peterborough PE2 9QT Tel: 01733 348500 e-mail: ENTERTAINMENTS OFFICER: Richard Fairman Tel: 01406 380575 Roger Sexton

Andrew Storrar


Mike Daines


Diesel - Calor



MIDDLE LEVELS NEWS Middle Level Bill clears final hurdle


n 16th October 2018 the M iddle Level Bill successfully passed through the House of Co mmons for the final t ime in the Pa rliamentary process. In June the House of Lords had added 20 amendments to the Bill that had already once been through the Commons. The Bill received its third reading in the Lords, before being passed back to the Commons where all the Lo rds modificat ions were accepted. It now only waits Royal Assent. The Middle Level is a network of ma inly man made drains and rivers wh ich keeps Fenland free fro m flooding. It broadly covers land, much of it belo w sea level, between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse. The leg islation which governs it has not been modified for over 150 years. For e xamp le the agreed tariff for transporting coal remains at 1d (old penny) per ton. It did not recognise leisure boating, which has grown in popularity since the last war. This meant that boating was unregulated, and lacking in the safeguards which apply to waters across the whole of the rest of the Country. In 2016 the governing body, the Middle Level Co mmissioners (MLC) introduced a Private Bill to Parlia ment to bring the waters in line with the rest of the Country. However the Bill became abandoned with the ‘snap’ General Election of June 2017, and had to be reintroduced to the new Parliament. Boating on the Middle Levels will take a higher priority once the Bill has received the Royal Assent and a boat licensing

When the Bill reand management system can be established ceives Royal Assent it will become an Act of Parlia ment. The Act will close gaping holes that exist in the outdated legislation. Boats on the Level will for the first time be subject to Registration, and the need to prove they have liab ility insurance and are comp liant with current boat safety standards. It will a llo w the Co mmissioners to remove sunk or abandoned boats, and generate income to be invested back into boating facilit ies. Written into the legislation is the requirement for 25% of income fro m boating to be invested to imp rove current facilities to a standard specified by the IWA (Inland Waterways Association) The MLC will at last be able to register up-to-date bye-laws with DEFRA and establish a Navigation Co mmittee. The Co mmissioners embrace volunteering, and are currently looking at how they can introduce a scheme to pro mote greater public involve ment in the preservation and enhancement of their waterways. 6

Suspension of Navigation Under powers granted by the Middle Level Acts 1810-1874 the Middle Level Co mmissioners have issued formal notice of temporary closure of the following parts of the system:From Monday 7th January 2019 to Thursday 18th April 2019 inclusive:The Sixteen Foot River fro m a point 100 metres south west of Boot's Bridge to a point 100 metres north east of Boot's Bridge This closure is necessary to allow imp rovements to Boot's Bridge by Camb ridgeshire County Council. From Monday 4th February 2019 to Friday 15th February 2019 inclusive:200 metres upstream and downstream of Briggate Footbridge, North East Bank of Kings Dyke, Whittlesey. This closure is necessary to undertake bank stabilisation works. Other parts of the Middle Level navigations, not the subject of closures during these periods, will remain open. Should either of the above works be comp leted in a shorter period than given above, the affected sections of navigation will be re-opened.

Well Creek Dredging The Co mmissioners have announced that work will shortly co mmence on Phase V of the Phased Maintenance Dredging Programme for 2019 to remove siltation and sediment fro m the following sections of Well Creek.  Marmont Priory Corner to Thurlands Drove Junction, Upwell  Hall Bridge Road Junction to New Bridge, Up well  Isle Bridge Outwell to Outwell boat Basin It is currently proposed that the work will be undertaken during January/February 2019 but the exact timing will be dependant upon Norfolk county Council Highways acceptance of the necessary road traffic management plan and weather/river conditions during that time. Should Well Creek freeze over, a contingency for dredging operations to be curtailed for up to one week will be in p lace to allow fen skating to take place. The resultant dredgings will be transported away fro m site to Salters Lode where they will be stored and left to dry sufficiently to be re-handled and reused elsewhere in the Co mmissioners’ river system as bank raising material. The proposed works will not necessitate a navigation closure of Well Creek nor is it envisaged residential or business access will be affected by the proposed works. The Co mmissioners have given an assurance that they will endeavour to undertake the works as efficiently and effectively as conditions allow. Any queries in relation to these works can be raised with the Middle Level Co mmissioners at their March office. Phone 01354—653232 or e-mail: quoting reference: JF/ LP/106/ 29(i). 7

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.


A CRUISE TO HOLME FEN ANYONE? The Fenland village of Holme is reputed to be situated in the lowest point in Great Britain at 2.75 metres (9.0 ft) below sea level and the location is marked by the famous Holme Post . In 1852 this was driven fully into the ground and now serves to indicate the amount of subsidence that has occurred due to shrinkage of the peat by standing several feet above the present ground level. The Victorian Ho lmewood Hall on Church Street is now a con- Holme Fen Post ference and training centre. The current structure was built around 1873 by Scottish architect William Young for M P William Wells, the grandson of Admiral Thomas Wells. This gentleman gives his name to the popular village pub, The Ad miral Wells. During World War II, the Hall was used by US Office of Strategic Services for packing airborne containers to be parachuted into occupied Europe. The village co mmemo rates its connections with WW2 by holding a very successful Forties Weekend each year in early October when the whole village becomes a time warp. Holme is close to the south western corner of the Middle Level system and the course of the Old River Nene. It is also close to the area designated as the Great Fen Pro ject. Close waterborne access is available fro m the New Dyke. With this level of interest it has occurred to your committee that Holme Fen could be a good destination for next year’s Easter Cru ise or perhaps later in the year to coincide with the Forties Weekend. We woul d therefore like to cavass the level of interest amongst Branch members for this proposal . Please think about this over the winter and contact Chairman Chris Howes wi th your views.

Holme Forties Weekend 9




MOORINGS 200 non-residential moorings for Cruisers and Narrowboats up to 62 feet long

Well stocked Chandlery plus Diesel, Petrol, Calor Gas, Homefire Coal, Logs, Kindling

SERVICES & FACILITIES Craneage, Slipway, Boat and Canopy Repairs, Engine Servicing, Toilets, Showers, Laundrette Keep up to date with the latest Boats for Sale, River Conditions and Marina News by visiting THE CHANDLERY IS OPEN 6 DAYS A WEEK—9.00AM TO 5.00PM CLOSED WEDNESDAYS

Contact: Training Secretary, PYC Phone: 01733 311680 Net: http://


Images of the Nene - Then and Now Some historic images of the River Nene around Peterborough have recently come to light and here we take the opportunity to compare the scenes around Orton Lock and Town Bridge—then and now.

Orton Staunch Taken circa 1900 the first photo shows the staunch when the river was still tidal up to Woodston and the Staunch. The Nene was barely navigable in the early 1930s but it went through a series of upgrades during that decade which saw Orton Staunch completely rebuilt .

The second photo shows the construction of the new lock which along with the Dog In A Doublet sluice introduced controlled water levels through Peterborough and helped restore navigation. Below we see the lock mechanism today after undergoing a thorough overhaul completed earlier this year.




Town Bridge The tidal nature of the river can be seen in this pre-1930 photo with the old bridge still in place. Below the replacement bridge can be seen along with modern development but the Grade II Custom House remains having been thoroughly renovated during 2018.

Friends of the River Nene


o doubt we all consider ourselves “friends of the River Nene”, but did you know there's an official group of this name? FOTRN was founded in 2014 by a group of people who felt facilities on the River Nene needed to be improved, and were prepared to do something about it! In the short space of just four years the Group has swelled to a membership of approximately 650 and the Nene now benefits from nine additional moorings created and maintained by FORTN for the use of the Members. The group is also invaluable in collating and disseminating information essential to safe and carefree boating through a range of mediums. The Autumn edition of the Friends of the River Nene Newsletter includes a range of ‘Crucial Contact’ information and the very impressive and highly informative web site http:// gives details of the current and planned moorings. It also includes all manner of helpful information for boaters and FOTRN's Friendly Gatherings. FOTRN has a page on Facebook whilst an associated Facebook group ‘River Nene Discussion Group’ provides a useful and friendly discussion forum. Chris Howes and his wife Christine Colbert are members of Friends of the River Nene and Chris says “I would strongly recommend any boater to join FOTRN, the group is a shining example of what can be achieved by people working together”. Membership is currently just £12 a year (and at the time of writing there are still a few 2019 calendars available, featuring beautiful photographs taken on and around the Nene by members) 13

Email: 14

Environment Agency - Anglian Waterways Volunteer Scheme The EA volunteer scheme has really developed momentum this year, thanks to the coordination, management and support by CambsAcre. 16 volunteer lock keepers have been trained in 2018. This included classroom training on health and safety, operational procedures and how to deal with difficult customers! I am pleased to say that the later has been unnecessary. Following this we had practical training at various lock sites, led by the River Inspector team. This ensured that those with no, or little, boating experience could quickly become confident and benefit from others with more experience. My volunteering days have been spent mainly at either St Ives or Houghton locks. We work in pairs and tend to be available from Friday through to Monday. The Houghton and St Ives team consists of only 4 active volunteers, this means that coverage is not as extensive as we would like. Despite this we have helped 283 boats to lock though on our patch. Other volunteers operate during the season at the Denver complex and Northampton marina. In addition to lock keeping we have been involved in ground clearance at Northampton lock island, helped to staff the EA stands Bedford and St Neots River Festivals. We proved useful by providing help and advice about licensing, facilities and boat ownership and assisting passages through St Neots lock before and after the festival. We will be back in action at the locks in April 2019 and during the winter will be helping with several practical projects and joint training with EA staff. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, “working” outdoors, helping other people, (including the very needy stag and hen party day boats) and last but not least being thanked by the skippers and crew on every boat passing through “our” locks – truly wonderful!

Roger Green 15

REGIONAL NEWS The Restoration of Stratford St Mary Lock


018 is the fiftieth birthday of the River Stour Trust, and despite leaden skies, there was much celebration in May this year when a significant crowd of supporters, well wishers, and local dignitaries gathered for the opening of the newly restored and recently renamed Roger Brown lock at Stratford St Mary. The restoration of the lock was the culmination of 12 years work, and is the fourth lock on the Stour to be restored. The opening was performed by Mark Harding of Enovert, major sponsors. Griff Rhys Jones, RST Vice President was in attendance, and spoke enthusiastically about the project and of the desire ability to restore navigation to many of our rivers. Griff demonstrated a considerable knowledge of the subject, and delivered his thoughts in an inspiring and entertaining manner. The IWA had supplied top-up funding to 10% of the £80,000 project cost from the Tony Harrison legacy which it administers. Tony’s widow, Mary, unveiled a wooden plaque at the side of the lock acknowledging this. I had previously urged Project Hereward to apply for a grant towards the restoration of Welches Dam Lock from the Tony Harrison Fund, but for whatever reason they had decided not to (it may be that they are not properly constituted to receive grants). At the opening of the restored Stratford St Mary lock I found that I was standing next to Paul Separovic, the River Manager for the Great Ouse, and observed to him “lets hope that the next lock reopening we’re at is Welches’ Dam”. Paul agreed with this sentiment, but added “and lets hope that we’re not old men by the time that happens” ! The restoration of Stratford St Mary lock opens up a further 3 miles of navigation on the Stour. This follows on from the restoration of locks at Flatford, Dedham and Great Cornard. The Stour flows through ‘Constable Country’, indeed his most famous painting is of ”the navigable river” at Flatford Mill. This beautiful corner of Suffolk richly rewards the visitor, and any such visit should include the works of the Stour Trust.

Chris Howes


First boats through the restored lock

Griff with Mark Harding

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Hereward Autumn 2018  

Hereward Autumn 2018