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Issue 257• Autumn 2017


NEW-LOOK BOAT LICENCE IWA’s ideas for a fairer system

CONSTABLE’S STOUR Getting afloat on the scenic Suffolk waterway



The ‘Incredible Edible’ Ashton Canal

Preview of 2017’s Festival of Water at Ilkeston 001 cover.indd 14

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Autumn 2017 Contents

6. Agenda


The column of the National Chairman

8. News

The latest from within IWA and beyond

12. Campaigns Update

Including a spotlight on IWA’s response to CRT’s boat licensing review

17. Stour Power

Getting afloat on the scenic Suffolk waterway Cover picture: Slaithwaite, Huddersfield Narrow Canal

22. David Venn

IWA’s Events Committee member on why St Neots will be pulling in the crowds next year

25. Festival of Water Preview


Looking ahead to August’s event on the Erewash WATERWAYS EDITOR: Sarah Henshaw Tel: 01283 742962 E-mail: ART EDITOR: Claire Davis ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER: Ian Sharpe Tel: 01283 742977 E-mail: ADVERTISING DESIGN: Jo Ward ADVERTISING PRODUCTION: Lucy Williams E-mail: REPROGRAPHICS: Waterways World Ltd, 151 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 1BG. Printed in England by Warners (Midlands) PLC, Bourne, Lincs Articles may be reproduced provided permission is obtained and acknowledgement made.

26. Love Your Waterways

Green-fingered efforts on the Ashton Canal and a GRP cruiser experience on the River Stort

32. Climbing ‘Everest’

Highlights from a Huddersfield Narrow flotilla

36. Restoration Hub

Play safe on site with our health & safety expertise


39. Taking it Up a Gear

The man who pedalled 1,000+ miles to raise money for IWA

42. WRG

A round-up of restoration work

ISSN 0969-0654 A non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee (612245), Registered as a Charity (No. 212342) Founded: 1946, Incorporated 1958 Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453 E-mail: Web site: Chief Executive – Neil Edwards Company Secretary – Andrew Overy National Chairman – Les Etheridge For press inquiries please contact: For all other contact details, including trustees and branch officers, visit: Nothing printed in Waterways may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated, otherwise IWA accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Although every care is taken with advertising matters no responsibility whatsoever can be accepted for any matter advertised. Where a photo credit includes a note such as CC-BY-SA, the image is made available under that Creative Commons licence; full details at

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44. IWA at Work

What’s been happening around the branches

50. Then and Now

Olympian efforts on Carpenters Road Lock

Seven reasons why your membership contribution is vital 1. IWA Canal Cleanups led by our branches keep many waterways clear of debris 2. Restoration is kept high priority through funding for the Waterway Recovery Group 3. Over 10,000 days of volunteering each year will be supported with the right training, tools and materials 4. IWA can defend the waterways from unwelcome development 5. We can pass on traditional skills and workbased experience for volunteering young people 6. We can lobby the Government and work with other organisations to repair, improve and protect our waterways heritage 7. Your voice is counted when IWA speaks up for all those who enjoy the country’s canals and rivers


IWA ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION RATES Adult/single £31.50 •Joint/Family £39.00 Details of all other rates are available from IWA Head Office. Join IWA at

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 09:09

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The Column of the National Chairman


n the political front, much has changed over the last three months. The General Election caught everybody by surprise and the result creates further uncertainty, with the possibility of yet another election in the near future. Our planned meeting with Thérèse Coffey, the Waterways Minister, was cancelled and has yet to be rearranged. IWA continues to work hard at Westminster so that our decision-makers understand the value of our waterways. We launched our Waterways Manifesto in May and asked General Election candidates to pledge their support for our aims, including the transfer of Environment Agency navigations to the Canal & River Trust with a sustainable funding package. With much less time to plan than we had for the last General Election, we knew it would be difficult to top the number of pledges we obtained in 2015. However, I am delighted to say we achieved this with a total of 364 pledges, representing a 25% increase. A big thank you to everybody who made this possible.

A reception was held at Westminster on 27th June to which all MPs with waterways in their constituency were invited, and further good contacts were made. By the time you read this, Parliament will be in recession for the summer and MPs can spend more time in their constituencies. What better time to arrange a boat trip for your MP, which is the ideal way of demonstrating the value that our waterways provide. Our significant concerns over the condition of EA navigations remain. With a new government in place we are now planning the actions we need to take. We will, of course, continue our campaign until a satisfactory result is achieved. It is pleasing to see that the representations put forward by IWA and local groups in Scotland have prevailed and arrangements have been put in place to secure the immediate future of the hire-boat operations on the Lowland Canals, while plans that would have reduced the boating capacity of the Falkirk Wheel have been deferred. Another very successful Canalway Cavalcade was held in Little Venice over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend and

I thank all those involved in the event. Looking ahead, the Festival of Water at Ilkeston over the August Bank Holiday weekend is being very well supported by Erewash Borough Council and, with over 100 boats already booked in, it is sure to be a good spectacle. Seeing the Erewash Canal being well used, and with the community engaged, we aim to ensure that the benefits of the waterways are better appreciated, thus supporting the restoration work on the nearby Derby and Cromford canals. Highlighting the value of our canals and rivers is a major task for IWA going forward and key to ensuring that our waterways are funded on a sustainable basis.

Les Etheridge



| IWA Waterways

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21/07/2017 09:51

waterways Keeping Our Waterways Alive

All the fun of the festivals Canalway Cavalcade

Festival-goers line the bridge.

All eyes were on IWA in London’s Little Venice over the 1st May Bank Holiday weekend as 140 boats gathered for the Association’s 35th annual Canalway Cavalcade. The event proved a huge draw to thousands of visitors who came to see boats decked with gleaming brasses, flowers and bunting, and sample the variety of festival delights, which included trade stalls, live music, children’s activities, crafts and refreshments. IWA’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Year’, Lord German, opened the event, speaking to an audience that included vice president David Suchet. Lord German stressed how important the canals are, adding that pressure should be applied to politicians and the government to ensure that those restored are not lost. Rock star Paul Weller was spotted among the crowds watching the ‘Waterways Tales’-themed pageant. Among the 20 entrants were boats representing such literary works as The Wind in the Willows, Narrow Dog to Carcassonne and The Ugly Duckling, the latter sitting dejectedly in a canoe being towed behind four unfriendly ducks. This year’s sponsors, Paddington Central, permitted the organising team to incorporate the Paddington amphitheatre into the entertainment schedule with stalls surrounding it, creating a larger event than ever before. The enhanced space expanded the live music and dance programme to include ukulele and cello recitals, choral concerts and flamenco dancing. On Sunday evening over 20 boats lit the waters of Brownings Pool for an illuminated procession. There were some stunning entries, including narrowboat Chalky representing a dragonfly with gossamer wings ablaze with light, and narrowboat Non Such sporting a flaming chimney. Stand-up paddleboarders added to the variety of craft on display.

The sun sets over the end of another successful Cavalcade.

IWA national chairman Les Etheridge addresses the crowd.

IWA’s stand drew plenty of interest.

A colourful spectacle as 140 boats gather in and around Little Venice.


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Waterways News Local successes were celebrated on IWA’s stand.

This year IWA’s National Trailboat Festival was held in conjunction with the annual Moira Canal Festival on the restored but isolated section of the Ashby Canal at Moira over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. It was the 17th canal festival to be held in the grounds of historic Moira Furnace and this wellorganised and popular local event attracted some 3,500 visitors and 29 trailboats – probably the highest number of trailboats seen on the northern reaches of the canal at any one time this century. There was a good mix too, with 16 Wilderness and a wide variety of types among the 13 other boats. Canoes and paddleboards added to the variety of craft on exhibition, while boat trips on Joseph Wilkes

and a duck race further enlivened this usually tranquil section of canal. Land-based transport included a steam roller and miniature steam railway, historic stationary engines and classic cars, while in the air were displays of model aircraft and a ‘Battle of Britain’ flypast of a Hurricane and Spitfire. Cannon shots from the Coldstream Guards 1815 re-enactors provided period entertainment from another era altogether. There was good representation from IWA as Lichfield Branch manned a stand offering sales items, display boards and recruitment material, as well as fielding a steady flow of questions from people wanting to learn more about the canals in general, the Ashby restoration in particular, or opportunities for getting afloat.  Money raised from the event will be used to develop proposals for the new Gilwiskaw Brook Aqueduct, which will cross the brook north of the currently restored length at Snarestone.

all photos Phil Sharpe.

National Trailboat Festival

Firefly and Joseph Wilkes at Moira Furnace.

Canoe trips proved popular among younger festival-goers.

Twenty-nine trailboats at Moira in May – the highest number of craft on this length for over a century. Above: This gleaming steam-roller was one of several historic vehicles on show away from the waterside.

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IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 09:11

waterways Keeping Our Waterways Alive

John Humphries

BSS issues new carbon monoxide warning If you can smell petrol-engine exhaust fumes inside your cabin or covered deck area, stop the engine, outboard or generator and get out, warns the Boat Safety Scheme. The advice follows the publication of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report into the death of two boaters on their motor cruiser in Norfolk. The investigation found they died from carbon monoxide poisoning when the craft was on a mooring on the River Bure near Wroxham last year. It is believed the 5.7l un-catalysed petrol engine was running to charge the batteries. BSS manager Graham Watts said: “CO is a colourless, odourless gas, hence the wellknown silent killer tag, but you can smell the fumes from the exhaust, so that is why our advice is simple. “The MAIB research and tests were eyeopening. Petrol-engine exhaust gases contain huge levels of CO and the investigation shows just how quick deadly levels can develop. Whether moving or moored, under certain engine-running conditions and/ or wind conditions, CO can be drawn in or deflected into the boat. Cockpit awnings can act almost like a funnel to channel petrolengine fumes into the boat.” He added that boaters also need the “back-up” of a working CO alarm. Reports gathered in the last two decades indicate that at least 19 boaters have died and another 24 have required medical attention after inhaling toxic CO in exhaust gases. More information is available at

Hugh McKnight

IWA is saddened to report the death on 30th May of its former national chairman, John Humphries, a few days short of his 92nd birthday. When John became national chairman in 1970, he orchestrated a dynamic period of reconciliation in the Association’s history. He welcomed back co-founders Charles Hadfield and Tom Rolt, both effectively expelled years earlier by Robert Aickman. His IWA chairmanship lasted barely two years, but the seeds he sowed would help produce a secure future for the inland waterways. In April 1972, he resigned to ‘change sides’, becoming a government waterways adviser, an appointment ideally suited to his facility for networking and connections. The following year, the Humphries family accompanied waterways minister Eldon Griffiths and his own family on a boating holiday on the Canal du Midi in France. Job done: the minister was completely converted and the official attitude to canals was transformed. For various periods during the 1970s onwards, John was involved with a large number of organisations, all on a voluntary basis – chairman of the Narrow Boat Owners’ Club, the Southern Sports Council and the Water Space Amenity Council; as a member of the IWAAC, the National Water Council and the Thames Water Authority; as the deputy chairman of the Environment Council, and, until his death, vice president of IWA. He received the OBE “for services to the water industry” in 1980. Known from infancy as John, he was actually born Anthony Charles Humphries, the eldest of three children of a London solicitor. During World War II, he served as a young gunnery midshipman on Arctic convoys. War over, he obtained a fast-track (in two years) first class degree from Cambridge and began a highly successful legal career. John’s stepfather-in-law, Dr Charles Collins, owner of the motor yacht Rummy II, (a Dunkirk Little Ship), signed up many of his family as IWA members in 1960. So started a lifelong involvement with canals for John and his wife June. Holidays on hire-craft resulted in the purchase of the 1915-built converted narrowboat tug Clevanda. In 1969, John, together with Michael Streat of Braunston, was a driving force and chairman of Blue Line Cruisers (France) Ltd. From 1983, June and John owned the beautiful twin-engined motor yacht Avonbay whose legendary inland explorations covered much of Western Europe as well as once inaccessible parts of Poland and East Germany. John’s private life was equally busy as a connoisseur of antiques – especially clocks; in his productive vegetable garden; and as a published poet. With June,
an avid home-movie maker, they created what is now a historic archive of waterways films. He was a loving husband, and father of four daughters. As his close friend and fellow boater, I treasure many happy memories of our good times spent together. Hugh McKnight

John and June Humphries on Clevanda in 1974.


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A backdraughting exhaust: ignore it at your peril, says BSS.

Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 09:11

Waterways News

Cromford cruise among AGM highlights A tour around Langley Mill and a cruise along the Cromford Canal are among afternoon entertainment offerings following IWA’s 58th Annual General Meeting in September. The AGM itself takes place from 11.30am on Saturday 30th September at Aldercar High School, Langley Mill, Nottingham. Attendees are invited to turn up from 9.30am, however, to hear about local successes and grass roots campaigning, and for the much-anticipated presentation of IWA’s national awards. Lunch is free of charge (but must be pre-booked), after which members will depart for afternoon visits. For more details about the day, visit Langley Mill forms the junction of the Erewash, Cromford and (now derelict) Nottingham canals.

£1,000 cash up for grabs The Waterways Restoration Raffle is back for its fourth year, and this time raising money for one very important cause – IWA’s Restoration Hub The Hub is a central point for restoration enquiries and requests, providing access to the collective knowledge and expertise of volunteers, staff, as well as to the experience of the National Restoration Group. It supports all restoration groups and projects in whatever areas they most need it – so every raffle ticket purchased this year will strengthen the entire restoration community. Tickets are now on sale and can be found in this issue of Waterways magazine, as well as being available via IWA’s website at They are priced £2 each or £10 for a book of five tickets. On top of helping a good cause, buying a raffle ticket gives you the chance to win a range of fantastic prizes including: FIRST PRIZE: £1,000 cash. SECOND PRIZE: a one-week boating holiday on a sixberth narrowboat donated by the Wyvern Shipping Company. THIRD PRIZE: a weekend boating holiday for four with Canal Cruising Company. The raffle will be drawn on 18th December 2017 at IWA’s head office in Chesham. All tickets must be received before this date.

Trip-boat returns to Chelmer & Blackwater Council of Essex. The company will use the craft to promote the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, making charter trips along the waterway. Navigation manager David Smart said: “Victoria was specially built for the Chelmer & Blackwater and has brought pleasure to many visitors for over 40 years. We’re excited that this distinguished and popular boat

is returning to allow more people to experience the delights of the navigation.” Victoria is operating from her former base at Paper Mill Lock at Little Baddow, near Chelmsford, and available for charter every day of the week, with trips available from two hours up to a full day’s hire. Enquiries are welcome at Roy Chandler

Essex Waterways, the IWA subsidiary company that runs the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, has brought the trip-boat Victoria back to the waterway after the boat’s former operator ceased its use in 2016. Essex Waterways acquired the 48-passenger, 57’ wide-beam thanks to a grant of just over £30,000 from European LEADER Funds via The Rural Community

A welcome return for trip-boat Victoria.

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HS2, the transfer of EA navigations, restoration and over-crowded moorings are among the issues we’re campaigning on with your help. Here’s how we’ve been doing on these and other affairs...

EA closures update

Following our spotlight on the threat to EA’s Anglian waterways in the last issue of Waterways, IWA has been maintaining pressure on the navigation authority to re-open South Ferriby Lock on to the River Ancholme. Access to the Ancholme from the Humber was unavailable from the middle of March this year until well into the summer. The lock’s closure meant that South Ferriby was not available as a safe haven for boats on the tidal Humber, and boats moored on the River Ancholme were effectively trapped, with just 17 miles of river available to them with the continued closure of Harlem Hill Lock upstream. Siltation below the lock was initially cited as the reason for the closure, followed by a number of mechanical failures and, more recently, the discovery of a bat colony delaying repairs. The lock finally reopened on 10th July. In related news, May saw the publication of an Emergency Closure Notice for Welches Dam Lock – 11 years late! IWA Peterborough Branch has been challenging the loss of Statutory Navigation in correspondence with the Waterway Minister, and had asked why EA had never published the necessary

Closure Notice. It’s subsequent appearance on EA’s website, back-dated to 1st July 2006, is, says the branch, “a clear attempt to rewrite history and retrospectively justify the unjustifiable”. On a positive note, however, EA has announced it is ready to take on ten volunteers to support its work on Anglian Waterways, with an aim to grow this number further in future. It has teamed up with Cambridgeshire ACRE to develop the Anglian Waterways Volunteer Scheme, which will support aspects of the dayto-day running of two pilot sites – the Denver Complex and Northampton Marina. Volunteers will learn how EA waterways are managed for public use, meet new people, acquire skills, and make a valuable contribution to providing safe facilities and a warm welcome for boaters and other visitors. See anglianwaterwaysvolunteerscheme. for further information.

Hopeful news from Scottish Canals

IWA has welcomed news that hire-boating will continue on the Scottish lowland canals, following the announcement that an agreement has been reached between Scottish Canals and hireboat owners to enable operations to carry on in 2018. As reported in the last issue of Waterways, IWA’s main concern was that the increase of fees for hire-boat operators (up to five times their present rate), including for use of the Falkirk Wheel, had led to the announced closure of all hire fleet operations based at Falkirk. IWA considered this very bad news for the future of the Forth & Clyde and Union canals, as boats are essential for the long-term vitality of any waterway. Fees for private boatowners to use the Falkirk Wheel have not increased, although there were concerns that capacity for them to use the boatlift would be restricted as a result of SC’s controversial ‘Rotate’ project, which proposed fitting a static pontoon to one of the caissons. This has now been deferred. IWA has been fighting controversial plans that would restrict boat numbers at the Falkirk Wheel.




South Ferriby Lock has yet to re-open. LEFT: The Welches Dam Closure Notice came 11 years too late!

WHY CAMPAIGN WITH IWA? We strive to make the waterways better for all. 12

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IWA gains support of MPs

IWA’s Waterway Manifesto attracted over 360 pledges of support from parliamentary candidates during the lead up to the recent General Election. Among the MPs subsequently voted to office were many who had pledged or otherwise contacted IWA with supportive comments, including a number of newly appointed MPs. The manifesto asked all candidates to commit to ensuring legislation takes account of the economic, social and health values of our waterways, supporting the work of volunteers in restoring and regenerating our waterways, and pressing the new government for implementation of the transfer of EA’s navigable waters to the Canal & River Trust, among other issues. Readers can see the full list of the 364 candidates who pledged on IWA’s website at uk/news_campaigns/iwa_manifesto/pledges. Meanwhile, over 50 people attended a Parliamentary Reception held at Westminster in late June. All new and re-elected MPs with waterways in their constituencies were invited to call in to the afternoon session to meet IWA representatives, hear more about current campaigns and discuss waterway issues in their areas. A number of peers also attended the event, along with representatives from three navigation authorities.  All guests were encouraged to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways, which will now be reconvened for the new Parliament, and were also encouraged to develop a close relationship with local waterway groups and IWA branches in their constituencies. IWA’s national chairman, Les Etheridge, said: “We were pleased that so many MPs and peers were able to take time out of their busy schedules to drop in to our event, and we look forward to working with them in the future both nationally and locally across the country.” below left: IWA national chairman Les Etheridge talks to Maggie Throup MP, in whose constituency this year’s IWA Festival of Water, at Ilkeston on the Erewash Canal, will be taking place. 

Campaigns Update

IWA responds to red diesel consultation

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ was the message IWA gave the government in response to its consultation on the use of red diesel, designed to help it better understand how the fuel is used and to develop possible new tax regimes post-Brexit. Red diesel currently has a duty of 11p per litre, almost 47p less than road diesel. Road fuel duty was introduced in the UK in the 1920s to help pay for road building and maintenance. At the time boats were exempted, along with agricultural and other vehicles, because they did not use roads. However, in 2007 the EU instructed the UK government to impose full duty rates, as on mainland Europe, on all fuel that went into engine tanks. The government’s response was a typically British fudge, with boaters themselves being trusted to decide, in advance, how much of their purchase would be used for propulsion, and boatyards being obliged to do the paperwork on these declarations. And this, says IWA “works well”. It argued: “Moving away from this arrangement is likely to lead to increased cost for users and suppliers, which in turn may reduce supply or reduce craft seeking refund of the tax otherwise levied on the domestic use of the fuel.” From an environmental perspective, the Association pointed out: “Changing the level of taxation on the fuel used for motive power will not reduce the level of pollution from boat exhausts, as requiring use of ‘unmarked’ diesel will create the same air pollution.” Instead, it suggested the government could choose to support or incentivise provision of waterside electrical ‘hook-ups’. These, it followed, “could enable boaters to use waterside power supplies and minimise their own motive power generation”.

Success for Fens Link campaign cruisers

Following a similar exploratory cruise in 2016, late May saw a flotilla of four boats take on the tidal River Welland to Spalding, and on to Crowland and beyond. This time, however, the return trip comprised a detour onto the River Glen, where the three narrowboats were able to make a rare – possibly unique – flotilla transit of Surfleet Sluice onto what one crew member described as “this beautiful little gem of a river”. The six-day cruise was organised to assess the feasibility of similar, and perhaps more frequent, trips in the future – all part of an on-going campaign to keep the ‘Fens Link’ project alive in the minds of both national boaters and local residents. One big advantage of that project will be that the transit from the tidal Witham to the Welland and the Glen will not require sitting out in the Wash, and will therefore not be quite so tide and weather dependant as this year’s cruise was.

below right: The new Bedford MP, Mohammad Yasin, discusses the Bedford to Milton Keynes Link with IWA trustee, Ivor Caplan.

Intrepid IWA crew celebrate their safe return to Boston: (l-r) David Collin, Mick Golds, Richard Sear, Dave Pearson, Carole Golds and Ian Fletcher.

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IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:50

Spotlight on...

CRT’s boat licensing review Bills... we’ve all got something to say about them when they drop through our letter boxes, but how often do we get an opportunity to express those thoughts directly to the organisation levying the charges? When it comes to how much you pay for your Canal & River Trust boat licence, there’s never been a better time to highlight any inherent unfairness in the system, or suggest better ways to impose the annual fee. The Trust is currently holding a nationwide review of its licensing practices, and IWA was among the organisations invited to be a part of that process. Here’s what we’ve been petitioning for on members’ behalves...

IWA’S BOAT LICENSING IN BRIEF Size matters Licence fees should be charged by area (length x beam) rather than just length. This would be fairer because it more accurately reflects the space the boat uses on the waterways. It also makes smaller boats more affordable, encouraging young people and families to get afloat. 
 Why should narrowboats be charged the same as wide-beams?


The current licensing system has remained largely unchanged for more than two decades and is often cited by boat-owners as being complex and out of date. CRT’s consultation, then, is a one-off opportunity to establish a more equitable charging regime on the waterways. IWA submitted a paper to CRT as far back as March 2017, outlining some options for discussion, and this was followed by a telephone interview as part of Stage 1 of the consultation process. Some of the themes raised in this conversation were subsequently debated in a series of workshops which ran from May to June. All CRT boat licence-holders were given the opportunity to express an interest in being part of these and, again, IWA was proactive in urging any of its members attending them to echo the opportunities it had already singled out.


Firstly, IWA expects whatever changes CRT decides to adopt to be revenue neutral at the point of implementation, but some of our suggestions would give an opportunity for the Trust’s income from licensing to increase over time. Existing boat-owners may be impacted in different ways and IWA suggests that changes should be implemented to minimise this, such as phasing in higher increases. However, IWA’s main suggestion is that licence fees should be based on a simple calculation based on the area (not length) of a boat and increased by an amount comparable to average mooring fees. There would then be significant discounts for boats with home moorings and boaters who genuinely continuously cruise, with a range of lesser discounts and multipliers for commercial and trading boats.


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The power of one One licence should continue to cover all the connected CRT waterways, existing and future, to encourage people to travel the system as widely as possible. 

Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:51

Campaigns Focus

Dangle a discount Fees for licences could be significantly increased (to an amount that would be similar to paying for both a licence and a mooring at present). A substantial discount (back down to current licence fee levels) would then be available to boaters who pay mooring fees to CRT or third parties or who are genuinely continuously cruising. Other discounts could continue to be available as now, e.g. for electric propulsion, historic boats, museum boats, towed butties and licences for short, disconnected waterways.

Commercial considerations Licences for the various categories of hire/ commercial/trading boats would be subject to a multiplier of the private boat fee.

Have a ‘starter’ To encourage more people to discover inland boating, particularly younger people and families, licences for smaller powered and all unpowered boats need to remain inexpensive. Cheaper ‘starter’ licences for the first year could be considered to encourage people to try boating. 

the period of the licence (e.g. 100 miles); a minimum distance travelled per quarter (e.g. 60 miles). The mileage figures quoted are all suggested as indicative figures. All boats that are continuously cruising should be able to travel these distances without restrictions due to their size.

‘Please, sir, can I have some moorings?’ There is a clear and growing group of boaters who wish to adopt the residential boating lifestyle, but are unable or unwilling to find a residential mooring or comply with continuous cruising rules. IWA wants to see innovative options for providing reduced-price facilities for these boaters (e.g. inexpensive new mooring sites), in parallel with continued enforcement of those not boating within the rules. IWA supports a proactive approach by navigation authorities to provide a range of affordable moorings for those who would prefer to take this option up, and any new licensing structure will need to accommodate this. The Association has previously made a number of suggestions about potential new mooring sites in the London area. 

Timing is everything Short-term visitor licences should continue to be available, for a variety of time periods, and IWA suggests that these should be charged pro-rata as if the boat had a home mooring with a fixed administration fee added. 

Above: More affordable moorings are on IWA’s agenda.

River regs

Where reciprocal arrangements exist with neighbouring navigation authorities, these should be formalised and continued. 

‘Rivers only’ licences should only be available to boats which, due to their size, are genuinely restricted to the river on which they are based. There should also be a proviso that boats issued with those licences could not declare themselves as continuously cruising. 

Go the distance

On track

IWA supports a progressive increase of the distance that continuous cruisers are expected to travel annually to one that it considers more appropriate to that lifestyle. It suggests the following indicative figures, within seasonal and canal maintenance limitations: a significant distance per annum (e.g. 300 miles); a minimum range (‘start to maximum distance from start’) during

Tracking devices are already used by owners to protect cars, motorbikes, cycles and other valuable items. This technology could be used by navigation authorities to provide valuable information on boat movements, asset utilisation, and compliance with mooring and travel guidelines. This could also improve the interactions of CRT and marina/mooring owners on licensing. 

Licence thy neighbour

Autumn 2017 014 campaign focus.indd 15

Is tracking technology an untapped resource?

Hire consciousness IWA considers that any boat with a private pleasure licence must not be let out for monetary return in any situation. Anyone wishing to hire out their boat, or a room on their boat, should have a business licence/registration and approval from the relevant navigation authority, with the hire-boat level of boat safety examination and appropriate insurance. A new licensing structure can reinforce this. Any boat being licensed with the intention of being let out for residential use must have permanent moorings; such boats should not be eligible to be declared as ‘continuously cruising’.

CRT recently introduced a new ‘letting licence’.


It’s not too late to make your voice heard. Involve, the company undertaking this licence consultation for CRT, has now reviewed and collated feedback received during the first two stages of the project. A third and final stage is due to launch in mid-August, giving every current boat licence-holder the opportunity to respond to the consultation by email. post or telephone. For more information, visit

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:51


Visit us at


Tel: 01606 737564 Established 1992

■ Distribution of Quality brands: Vetus, Webasto, Morso, Arrow, Stovax and lots more. ■ Think Vetus Middlewich Cheshire think Kingslock Chandlery. ■ The only canal side Vetus shop on the Trent and Mersey canal. ■ Supplying Vetus products for 22 years. ■ Webasto central heating, Diesel heating for narrowboats, widebeam boats. We also service Webasto heaters. ■ Webasto main dealer partner since 2008. ■ We supply some of the biggest and best boat builders in the country. ■ Anything from complete engine kits that include everything found in an engine room and beyond. ■ If you are fitting out yourself give us a call – no gimmick discount schemes just our best prices and all advice at the end of the phone if required. ■ Not forgetting our well stocked chandlery and helpful team. ■ We also have a dedicated Log Burning Stove Showroom next door called Nantwich Log Burning Stove Centre. ■ All work undertaken. ■ LONG TERM MOORINGS – please call for availability ■ CANAL SIDE FACILITIES –  gas, solid fuel & diesel  kayak sales  service centre moorings  visitor car parking

Booth Lane, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 0JJ • Tel: 01606 737564 • Visit: FROM

Visit the Inland Waterways Association Bookshop for a variety of books from Waterways World BARGES & WIDE -BEAM BOATS ON THE






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River Stour

As IWA continues its campaign to protect navigation on Anglian waterways, we profile the boating potential of one of the region’s prettiest rivers, immortalised in art galleries across the world...


t famously flows through ‘Constable Country’, so-called for the painter who set so many of his masterpieces on or around the Suffolk River Stour’s banks. However, don’t for a second think that the waterway’s sole relevance is as fodder for 19th century canvas – this remains a living, breathing waterway, and with huge boating potential to boot. EA is currently the navigation authority for the river but, due to severe budget cuts, has had very little money to spend on the river latterly. Instead, all re-gating of the locks and much of its day-to-day maintenance are being carried out by the River Stour Trust, a charity set up in 1968 to protect right of navigation, with the ultimate aim of returning boats to the river along its entire course. It has already made significant progress, building a complete new lock at Great Cornard in 1997 and, at the lower end of the river, restoring Flatford and Dedham locks too. Another, Stratford St Mary Lock, is scheduled to reopen later this year.



Access to the river is admittedly limited as a towpath was never made, so most of the banks were, and still are, privately owned. However, the Trust owns and manages virtually all the access points and buildings along its length and actively encourages use of the river, particularly promoting the use of small and electrically powered craft that are silent in operation and environmentally friendly. In addition, RST organises many river-based activities and fundraising events on or near the river, operates trip-boats for the public and holds regular working parties to maintain the locks and structures in its care. At present, the river is navigable for powered craft up to 50ft from Sudbury to Henny, with through-navigation for canoes and portable craft. The lower river is restricted to manually powered craft and the Trust’s electric trip-boat. However, a 280-page Feasibility Study was commissioned in 2001 by the River Stour Partnership. This outlines options for restoration of the river up to full navigation by powered craft from Sudbury to the sea at Manningtree, in three possible stages. Watch this space... In the meantime, there’s nothing to stop readers from enjoying the river in its present state, particularly under their own power. EA and the River Stour Trust have produced a very good guide for paddlers, with a map of the entire navigable route printed on damp-proof paper that folds down to A5 size. It includes the details and locations of portages, launching sites, the riverside campsite, important information and contact details for relevant organisations.


Autumn 2017 017 river stour.indd 17

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Further tips for canoeing the Stour

•The Granary at Sudbury is the

starting point for most people, and has a good concrete slipway, car park, and is close to the station. The stretch of river down to Cornard is wide and slow moving, and you can frequently meet racing rowing boats. The rule is to keep to the right-hand side of the river, but you still need to keep alert. The River Stour Trust Visitor Centre is alongside Cornard Lock, built in 1997. You have to portage round the lock unless it is being used by tripboats. From Cornard to Henny the river adopts the narrow winding form that continues to the sea. Henny has a landing stage and pub, but do not block this as RST trip-boats use it. The chamber of the derelict Henny Street Lock is ahead, but the portage is on the left opposite the pub, around the weir. Further on, Henny Regulator Weir looks low enough to shoot, but this is not advised on any of the Stour weirs, and you should portage round. Pitmire and Lamarsh weirs follow, on the sites of old locks, with the river following a quiet path through the meadows, then the magnificent Bures road bridge comes into view. Landing stages below the bridge on the left and right allow you to walk into the village for provisions and refreshments, or to the station. Bures Mill portage is a tricky one, with a carry along the bank, then a stooping slide down the side watercourse and under a footbridge. The course was previously dried up but has now been deepened, allowing you to float under the footbridge, but take care. At Wormingford the portage is on the left, and you then carry your canoe through a private garden. Keep to the path and respect the privacy of the owners.


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•Shortly after this you reach

Rushbanks Camp Site, a logical half-way stopping point if you are taking two days to do the trip. Facilities are excellent, but there are no shops or pubs nearby. At Wiston the portage is on the right, round the weir. Nayland is a pretty village, approached through a tunnel under the A134, that is little more than a culvert. On your left are picture-postcard cottages, with trim gardens down to the water’s edge, while on your right is the derelict Nayland Lock, now in a private garden. Beyond this on your right is one of the wonders of the Stour - Nayland Horseshoe Weir. This is a longish portage, but stop to take a picture of the stepped concrete waterfall before traveling the short distance to the Anchor pub. Here you can stop for welcome refreshments, before a long stretch to Boxted Mill. Stretches of the river on the way are shallow, and in dry summers you will probably want to walk alongside your canoe to save scratching the bottom on the gravel. In winter water levels after the Anchor can rise by two or more metres, with a strong flow. Boxted Mill is another portage through a private garden, launching into a sylvan weir pool, before you reach Langham Flumes. These are also unique to the Stour, being two inclined concrete troughs followed by rapids, both of which you should portage round if you want to avoid damaging yourself or your boat. A winding stretch of river leads to Stratford St Mary, where the lock is being restored by RST. On the left, below the massive concrete building housing the pumping station, a landing point allows you to savour the delights of the Swan pub, before another longish portage round the sluices.

• •

•Below Stratford you pass

the elegant Talbooth hotel and restaurant, before passing under a striking road bridge. Then it is on down to Dedham. The portage here is on the left, while below the restored lock on the right the Dedham Boathouse restaurant offers teas and ice-creams, or more extensive meals. Dedham is a large village with all facilities and a museum dedicated to the paintings of Sir Alfred Munnings. Then it is on down to Flatford, surrounded by a myriad zigzagging rowing boats, and with many walkers savouring Constable Country on either side. You can stop to use the facilities of the National Trust tearoom, toilets and shop, and to stand in the spots where Constable painted his most famous works, including ‘The Haywain’, ‘The Lock’, and ‘Boatbuilding on the Stour’. Marvel at the dry-dock owned by his father in the 1820s, discovered and excavated by the River Stour Trust and National Trust volunteers in the 1980s, and still exactly as it was when Stour lighters were built here 200 years ago. On your right is Judas Gap Weir, where the tidal estuary is kept at bay, then through Old Brantham Tidal Stop Lock, now permanently open. On your left is Cattawade Picnic Site and car park. Then, passing under a charming brick bridge set in a concrete tunnel, you emerge into Cattawade Basin, the end of the non-tidal navigation. A slipway in front of you allows you to take your boat out, then up and over the sea-wall beyond where you can launch into the tidal estuary of the Stour. The Environment Agency Guide to the River Stour is available from the River Stour Trust Office, price £3. You can also buy a river licence from here if you do not already have one.

Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:52

River Stour

Other ways to get afloat Participants of the annual Sudbury to the Sea canoe event on the River Stour. This year’s event takes place between 9th-10th September. John Keeper

The River Stour makes a great trailboat cruising ground, and you can launch your craft (up to 23ft) at RST’s purpose-built concrete slipway at Sudbury, before enjoying the first 3 miles of the river to Henny. Alternatively hop aboard one of RST’s electric trip-boats at Sudbury or Flatford, or on its 150-year-old restored Stour lighter, John Constable (so-named because Stour barges, or lighters, featured in many of Constable’s most famous paintings depicting the working river). Passenger services were officially launched by River Stour Trust’s vice president, Griff Rhys Jones, in May 2013. It’s also available for private charters and as a ‘floating classroom’ for educational visits; subject to existing bookings and commitments. The Trust’s electric trip-boat Trusty operates a water-bus service from Flatford to Dedham.

RST’s 150-year-old Stour lighter, restored in 2014, at Friars Meadow, Sudbury

Navigation notes The speed limit on this navigation is 4 mph and all craft must be registered. There are a number of ways to do this * Environment Agency – You can register your craft (powered or manually propelled) either annually or obtain a short-term/visitor registration. Visit for more information. * River Stour Trust – can issue craft registrations for manually propelled craft only on behalf of the Environment Agency. It also offers useful optional extras such as the River Stour Navigation Guide and EA navigation key. Visit river-trips/navigation-guide/craft-registrations for more information and to apply for your craft registration online. * British Canoeing – Annual membership allows access on many navigations in England and provides civil liability insurance among other benefits:

Thanks to the River Stour Trust for their generous help compiling this feature and for providing photographs. For more information visit or call 01787 313199. Autumn 2017 017 river stour.indd 19

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:53

Christmas Cards & Gifts Keeping our waterways alive Berkhamsted Lock, on the Grand Union Canal Code X106 - £3.25 From an original painting by Alan Firth.

The Packet House, Worsley Code X107 - £3.25 From an original painting by Dave Gardham.

Hungerford Church, Kennet & Avon Canal Code X108 - £3.25 Photo by Gillie Rhodes.

Sutton Stop, Coventry Canal Code X110 - £3.25 From an original painting by Nigel Street.

Horseboating at Sunset Code X111 - £2.95 From an original painting by Alan Firth.

Kidderminster Church Code X112 - £3.25 From an original painting by Dave Gardham.

Message inside Christmas cards: “With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year”.

Lots more designs available – see Bargain Packs All bargain packs consist of a mixture of designs from previous years. With envelopes. Bargain Pack A Code X025 - £14.95 60 Christmas Cards. Five cards each of twelve traditional paintings. Bargain Pack B Code X026 - £9.95 40 Christmas Cards. Five cards each of eight traditional paintings. Bargain Pack C Code X027 - £6.50 25 Christmas Cards. Five cards each of five traditional paintings. Designs may vary from those illustrated.

Christmas Gifts The Trouble with Canals Code AU08 - £19.95 The Trouble with Canals is the story of the waterways told by the experienced boater, John Liley. He became acquainted with canals as a child and in later years he explored the waterways of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The wide ranging narrative is enhanced by the interesting photographs and together they tell a great story of the history of the waterways from a particpant’s perspective. Narrow Boat by L.T.C. Rolt Code AC82 - £14.99 First published in 1944, and now reissued with new black-and-white illustrations and a foreword by Jo Bell, Canal Laureate. This engaging book tells the story of how Rolt and his wife adapted and fitted out the boat as a home, and recreates the journey of some 400 miles that they made along the network of waterways in the Midlands.

New 2018 Calendar

Free postage




2018 IWA Calendar Code X035 - £5.50 One month to view with space for daily notes. Twelve months from January to December 2018, each illustrated with a waterway scene in a detachable postcard format. 320mm x 172mm (12.5” x 7”) approximately. 25% discount on orders of 10 calendars or more. Calendar Envelope (separate) Code X036 - £0.20

for a large selection of cards, gifts & waterways books 20Visit | IWA waterways Autumn 2016 2017 Xmas advert July.indd 2 p020-021_iwa.indd 20

07/07/2017 15:32:00 21/07/2017 09:55

2017 Xm

Shop at

wh Free p en you ostag spe e nd £20

New Designs for 2017 Christmas Cards - £3.60 Per Pack Printed on high quality card. Supplied in packs of ten of one design. Includes envelopes. 178mm x 127mm (7” x 5”). Designs taken from original paintings and photographs are the copyright of the artist or photographer. Message inside reads “With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year”.

Code X115: Cruising Home for Christmas From an original painting by Dave Gardham

Code X116: Aldersley Junction on a winter evening From an original painting by Alan Firth

Code X117: Winter gathering at Braunston From an original painting by Alan Firth

Code X118: Spikes Bridge, Grand Union Canal, Southall Photograph by Colin Harris

Code X119: St Cyr’s Church, Stonehouse on the Stroudwater Navigation Photograph by Peter Llewellyn

Code X120: Coventry Canal, Whittington Photograph by Dean Barnes

Postage rates: UK Postage Costs £3.25. Free postage when you spend over £20. 2018 Calendar attracts free postage unless purchased in combination with other products. Different postage costs apply for Europe and Overseas. See website for details. The Inland Waterways Association, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA.

Buy at or call 01494 783453 IWA waterways |

Autumn 2016 15:32:00

2017 Xmas advert July.indd 3 p020-021_iwa.indd 21


07/07/2017 15:34:16 21/07/2017 09:56

St Neots.

Alison Smedley

THE OUSE CRUISE Next year’s Festival of Water will take place at St Neots on the Great Ouse. IWA’s Events Committee member and Fens super-fan David Venn tells us more about the event – and of an unusual boating technique visitors might have to employ to reach it “The crab position” is how David Venn describes it: a sort of oblique scuttle. “It’s a new experience for many,” he laughs, “but once you get used to it, it’s quite easy.” He’s referring to one of the major differences between boating on Fenland waterways, and pretty much anywhere else on the network – namely, the wind factor. “It’s basically sideways boating,” he continues – but don’t, for a second, let the unorthodox manoeuvre put you off the many delights of Anglian cruising. As David went on to explain, these “peculiar” waterways have a special charm all of their own...

Tell us more about the Great Ouse – why should boaters who have perhaps never ventured this far give it a go? It’s a lovely waterway and there are plenty of moorings, provided by both EA and GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association). It also affords an opportunity to explore the many tributaries along its length. Although they’re effectively dead-ends, they are navigable and it’s important to use them to ensure they remain open. Adding further interest is the head of the river, at Bedford, where the Milton Keynes link will eventually come in so giving, at some point in the future, a ring to cruise rather than having to turn around and go back again.

It’s hot off the press – IWA’s 2018 Festival of Water is at St Neots. What makes it such a good – and timely – venue choice?

How far in advance does preparation for an event like the Festival of Water start?

Several things really. Normally we pick a location to highlight problems or a particular IWA campaign. In this case, with the Great Ouse being an Environment Agency waterway, it’s a good opportunity to reinforce the fact we’d like all EA waterways to come under CRT management. The site itself comprises a nice big meadow and they have experience of hosting other waterways festivals, including an annual regatta with one of the local sailing clubs and a dragon boat festival. But this will be the first time IWA’s Festival of Water has been held here.

We begin about 18 months to two years in advance by identifying the site. And then we get the local authority involved, sort out permissions, and formally present the local mayor and council leader with what we call the tiller pin – basically a symbolic key to formalise the fact they’ve agreed to hold the festival. Within a month of the current festival being completed, we start


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Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:54

Aerial view over the River Great Ouse.

planning in earnest for the following year and nail down the finer details. There are seven or eight of us on the regular events committee, but a lot of people are co-opted on for the special skills and help they can give.

What, in your opinion, makes a successful festival – a lot of people and good weather? Yes, a lot of the success does depend on the weather, but it also hinges on good publicity prior to the event. While the boating community is well aware of it up to a year ahead, to get local people involved you need to start targeting them a couple of months before too. Another thing that helps, apart from the number of boats, is if you can have the festival on a relatively lock-free stretch of water. Therefore you can moor the boats altogether, rather than having separate pockets spread out over a wide distance.

As well as events, you also chair IWA Peterborough Branch. What local campaigns are you working on at the moment? Our focus is on getting Welches Dam Lock and Horseways Channel open. We have, in the last two years, entered into a good working relationship with the Middle Level Commissioners and we’re being allowed to clear the offside bank on the approach to Horseways Lock. We do that from October to February each year in the form of a work party, held every fortnight. We’ve also been involved with the Middle Level Commissioners in helping define what the parameters will be for the Act of Parliament that’s going through at the moment to bring their legislation up to the standards of other UK navigation authorities.

Campaign cruising: conquering the Old Bedford River in April.

Congratulations are in order – you crewed on April’s successful navigation of the Old Bedford River. Can you tell us why the campaign has been so important? We’re trying to maintain constant pressure on EA to not only make sure that the Old Bedford River is navigable (there has been a lack of dredging and the tendency to leave sluices down instead of in the up position), but also to make a symbolic point. We have boats coming to Horseways Channel from the Middle Level Commissioners, and wanted to get boats up to Welches Dam so we could say we’ve got craft at both ends now – it’s only a little section in the middle that EA maintains which we haven’t yet been able to get through or make any headway on making navigable.

“A lot of the success does depend on the weather, but it also hinges on good publicity” Mike Daines.

Castle Marinas Ltd

David Venn

An IWA Peterborough Branch work party tackles Horseways Channel.

Autumn 2017 022 david venn interview.indd 23

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21/07/2017 10:54

David Venn

The transfer of EA waterways to CRT is something you, and IWA, feel quite strongly about. Do you worry that the recent General Election and hung parliament may slow the process down somewhat? Yes, I think it probably will slow it down. But the biggest problem, I believe, is going to be securing the money CRT needs to take on the responsibility. There’s an awful lot of backlog maintenance that needs to be done in the Anglian region, especially. Lock landing stages have been taken out of commission, for example, because EA simply hasn’t had the funding to look after them.

What was your introduction to the inland waterways?

Daizy V on her home mooring on Well Creek at Nordelph.

Daizy V takes up residence in David’s front garden.

I went on a holiday in 1989 on a hire-boat from Wyvern Shipping Company. I just fell in love with it and said to my wife, “Let’s get rid of the caravan and get a boat instead.” My wife, very wisely, advised having another waterways holiday first. And so we did before, in 1991, ordering our very own 60ft boat. We had it in the front garden for three years while we fitted it out.

I bet the neighbours had something to say about that?! Yes! We have pictures lying around somewhere as it made the local newspaper. I remember working on the boat one day when I heard a couple of old boys go past on the footpath alongside it. One said: “I can’t understand why he’s got a bloody submarine in his garden!” I guess because of the shape and also because it was still covered in grey primer at the time. It made me chuckle.

Has retirement freed up more time to enjoy the waterways? Definitely. I worked with Surrey and London Fire Brigade beforehand and the shift work meant my involvement with IWA was a bit limited. Later on I switched to day work and that’s when I took on more responsibility. When I packed up work I spent my first summer as a seasonal lockkeeper on the Thames, which was a great opportunity to see boating from a different angle. It was brilliant – I was based at the very top end of the Thames. After that I started making fenders and doing other fancy ropework for a local marina, then I ended up fitting out a couple of boats. And I was also – still am – a member of the Narrow Boat Trust, helping to renovate their boats and going on coal runs with them.

“I can’t understand why he’s got a bloody submarine in his garden!” Do you still own the same boat? Yes, although obviously further work’s been done to it over the intervening years. It’s been repainted a few times and the interior has been renovated. I moor on the Middle Levels. I’m lucky enough to keep it right outside my house, near Downham Market in Norfolk. We’re on what you call the Well Creek, which runs almost 5.4 miles from Outwell Junction, where it joins the Old River Nene, to Salter’s Sluice, where it joins the River Ouse.

IWA recently launched a ‘Love Your Waterways’ campaign. Can you tell us about your own local stretch of waterway, and what, in your opinion, makes it such a special place?

David displays some fancy ropework at the Fleet Carnival on the Basingstoke Canal.


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Helping to rebuild the Elsan disposal point at Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham, on the Basingstoke Canal.

The Middle Levels is a peculiar waterway, stretching over 120 miles. At the moment it’s still the only navigation in the country that doesn’t require a licence. Although the Middle Level Commissioners have to maintain it as a statutory waterway, they don’t have the funding to put in the facilities that you’d find on CRT waterways, for example. Instead, the landing stages have all been put in and maintained by third parties. It’s definitely worth exploring, not least because you get some brilliant sunsets and sunrises in this part of the world. Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:54

The underboated Erewash Canal takes centre stage in August.

Festival of Water



An exclusive look ahead to the highlights of this year’s Festival of Water on the Erewash Canal at Ilkeston GETTING THERE


t Neots may have just been announced as the venue for 2018’s IWA Festival of Water, but all eyes are on Ilkeston in August as the 2017 event takes place on the underused Erewash Canal. Being held from 26th-28th August, the event aims not only to encourage more boaters to navigate this stretch, but also to raise awareness and involvement in IWA’s campaign to mitigate the effects of HS2 Phase 2 here. Visitors will also be better able to appreciate the sterling restoration efforts underway on the Cromford, Derby and Chesterfield canals, plus the ongoing work of the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association.

BY CAR: Gallows Inn Playing Fields, Ilkeston, DE7 5BP BY BOAT: Erewash Canal, Ilkeston (between Gallows Inn Lock and Hallam Fields Lock)

In brief • Over 15,000 visitors expected • More than 100 volunteers involved in the planning, management and running of the festival • Some 120 boats will line the Erewash Canal • Five historic boats on display • 50-plus exhibitors • Two floating traders • Six food stalls and one large bar hosting local real ales • FREE entry • FREE parking Last year’s packed event at Pelsall. Can Ilkeston draw an even bigger crowd?

WHAT TO EXPECT The festival will be officially opened by the Deputy Mayor of Erewash, Councillor Chris Corbett and attended by Maggie Throup MP and Wendy Morton MP on Saturday 26th August at 1.15pm. Over 120 boats are expected at the site, lining the banks of the Erewash Canal between Gallows Inn and Hallam Fields locks, decorated with bunting and in full festival regalia. Visitors can vote by text for their favourite. Other waterside attractions include the chance to try fishing taster sessions, running throughout the day on Sunday and Monday and led by volunteers from the Angling Trust. Children, meanwhile, will be kept entertained with rides including water zorbing and Carz of Fun, as well as hands-on canal-based activities, Bon Accord. face painting, and the opportunity to drive a digger or learn how to build a brick wall. There will also be a selection of birds of prey and other weird and wonderful wildlife on display, while Shreck the boat horse will be demonstrating how cargoes were pulled in times past. Live music will be provided throughout the festival from both locally and nationally renowned Bonito bands including Martin Frances, Bon Sisters. Accord, Mick and the Moonshiners, and the Bonito Sisters. Local dance groups Folk Frendzy, and BFAB Street Dancers will also be wowing the crowds with their moves. Note that the entertainment schedule begins at 10.45am each day over the course of Autumn 2017 025 ilkeston festival.indd 25

FIND OUT MORE the weekend. For something a little more sedate, a selection of waterways talks will inform festival-goers about our network’s fascinating engineering, design and working-boat heritage. Bringing visitors bang up to date will be special displays about the current state of our waterways on IWA’s national and local stands. Find out about the Boston Barrier and the Fens Waterways Link developments, as well as the national Anglian Waterways Closures campaign.

FESTIVAL AWARDS As well as taking home wonderful memories of the event, IWA’s Festival of Water will also offer a chance to get your hands on some silverware. River Canal Rescue is calling for boaters to update their cruising logs and enter this year’s Cruising Challenge Award, recognising the most enterprising non-continuous journey undertaken from August 2016 to the opening of the 2017 event. As well as a trophy, the winner receives free RCR membership. IWA members can also contest seven other awards – Most Meritorious Trip, Longest Journey, Boat Club Challenge, Best Bloomin’ Boat, Lights in the Dark, Best Oldie and Locking Windlass – by Friday 11th August. This can be extended to Friday 25 August providing prior notice is given. Find out more details at

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:55



The Incredible Edible

ASHTON CANAL Maarja Kaaristo describes how green fingers are giving this maligned Manchester waterway a long-overdue makeover The past For years the Ashton Canal has suffered a reputation as the bad boy of the British inland waterways network. Repeated vandalism and isolated reports of rocks being hurled at passing boaters made it a no-go zone until recently to all but the most intrepid of cruisers. And then there was its checkered past: local residents actively campaigning for its closure on safety grounds after commercial carrying died away in the 1950s, and even its owners eager to wash their hands of the expensive maintenance it required. By 1961 the Ashton faced the real possibility of abandonment and infilling. Three years later a massive leak made it impassable anyway. But the Ashton has bouncebackability by the bucketload. It was saved from dereliction by a band of hardworking volunteers in the 1970s, who looked beyond its 7-mile course through some of the less salubrious areas of the Manchester conurbation, and towards the bigger picture: its potential as an all-important link in the Cheshire Ring pleasure-cruising circuit. By 1974 the canal had been cleared of rubbish and weed and was staging a remarkable comeback.


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One of the Ashton’s earlier ‘transformations’ happened in 1972 when, following on from Operation Ashton, Ashton Attack (ASHTAC for short) mobilised approximately 1,000 people to work on the derelict Ashton and the Lower Peak Forest canals over a single weekend in March. The event contributed to the Cheshire Ring being re-opened to navigation just two years later, in 1974.

It’s this well-documented success story that has perhaps inspired recent efforts to rejuvenate the waterway once more. Leading the way is IWA Manchester Branch, which adopted a 1-mile section of the Ashton Canal in spring 2016. While the canalside Commonwealth Games of 2002 kickstarted the Ashton’s latest reversal of fortunes, the adoption seeks not just to keep momentum going, but to convince locals and visitors alike that this really is a canal worth championing. Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:56

Maarja Kaaristo

Maarja Kaaristo

Love Your Waterways - Ashton Canal

The project

Autumn 2017 026 LYW_Ashton.indd 27

above: IWA volunteers chat to a boater going through Lock 6.

Maarja Kaaristo

The Ashton Canal runs for nearly 7 miles from Manchester city centre to Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne, but IWA Manchester’s efforts have focused on the stretch between locks 4 and 11. The canal is already well used – it is part of the popular Cheshire Ring and, during summer, branch members often help to work the locks for boats passing through. In addition, the towpath is an important walkway to Sportcity and the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City FC. On match days, volunteers often seize the chance to chat to footy fans heading over to the venue. The towpath is also increasingly popular among joggers, walkers and anglers – and this hustle and bustle is exactly what the branch hopes to build upon. Its vice chairman Steve Connolly explains: “We would like to promote the message that the canals of this area are for everyone to share and enjoy.” It’s an ambition that recently inspired the branch to team up with Incredible Edible – a network of groups around the UK that encourages communities to come together by growing food, while at the same time supporting local grocery businesses and generally helping people to stay happy and healthy. The result is the Incredible Edible Ashton Canal Garden at Lock 4, which was completed during a branch work party in June 2016. It saw volunteers construct a raised bed and plant it with strawberries, beetroot, chives, onions, parsley and peas. The garden also features an information board providing background on the plants, such as their growing cycle, as well as recipe suggestions for using them in the kitchen. Local people are encouraged to tend to the garden as well as pick the fruits of their labour as required. Now more than a year after launching, it’s fair to say the garden has been a huge hit. The produce has been shared across the community, and in between the branch’s monthly work parties it has always stayed watered and well tended by members of the public. Its success has spurred the branch to create a second one – and the plans are getting bigger and, we hope, better. Work on the garden at Lock 7 started this spring, with volunteers

above left: The raised bed by Lock 4 being planted with vegetables and herbs. right: Volunteers building the raised bed.

below: View of the Etihad Stadium from the canal, which forms part of the Sportcity complex.

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:56

clearing away undesirable vegetation and roots in the soil, and digging the ground over. It now boasts the beginnings of a flower garden and, at the next work party, the aim is to create a walkway to it. Further work parties will focus on constructing another raised-bed vegetable patch next to the flower garden. As if that was not enough to be getting on with, a special area will be devoted specifically to wild flowers as part of grander plans to encourage more wildlife along the canal. Steve explains: “We would like the Ashton Canal to become a ‘bee highway’ and for this reason we’re sowing wild flowers for pollen production along our adopted stretch.” Along the way the branch is taking care to keep the project as sustainable as possible. The Incredible Edible garden planters are a good example of the possibilities of recycling – each is made from the reclaimed wood of replaced lock gates. The timber for the display boards was also salvaged – further testament to the branch’s commitment to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

The people Long-term projects like this are best achieved with as many different people and groups working together as possible, and the branch is thankful to everyone who has helped and contributed. Most important, of course, are the volunteers – the driving force of IWA work parties. Over the past few years their numbers have grown rapidly, with most motivated by the simple desire to make a positive difference to their local waterway. One such volunteer, Bryony Evens, explains: “It’s great to be involved as I cycle the canal daily and want to do my bit to keep it the fantastic place it is. It’s good to be out chatting to passersby about the work of IWA and even to involve impromptu volunteers – a gang of kids stopped by in the sun at our last work party and helped out with a bit of painting!” Collaboration with CRT, especially through volunteer leader Terry Evans, has also been important to the project’s success, not least in organising the necessary training (for the use of power tools, etc) with which to upskill enthusiastic volunteers. Other partners have included the Incredible Edible team, whose wealth of knowledge of similar projects has proved a rich mine to seam, and the support of the Etihad Stadium in providing secure parking and access, as well as the use of their facilities. As the seasons turn and autumn sets in, the branch is looking hopefully to the future. It encourages all visitors to the continuously improving Ashton Canal to pick herbs and berries from the vegetable patch, enjoy the heady scents and bright blooms of the flower garden, or simply marvel at the remarkable transformation this stretch of city waterway has undergone in recent years.


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An original canalside cottage stands opposite a former cotton mill near the centre of Manchester.

Reversal of fortunes The 1896 Oarsman’s Guide was uncompromising in its depiction of the unlucky Ashton: “Its course is entirely through a manufacturing district with the usual unpleasant surroundings. The vapour rising from its waters caused by the factories
on the banks, condensing their exhaust steam therein, is sometimes so thick as to make it difficult to see one’s way.” Just over 120 years later and public perception has changed somewhat. Here’s how the waterway’s current navigation authority, the Canal & River Trust, sees it: “Today, the canal is a green link from the city centre to Ashton-under-Lyne, bordered by an interesting mix of modern and industrial architecture. Improvements to the towpath have made it into a pleasant route, accessible to walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users. [Meanwhile], Portland Basin Museum gives an insight into the heritage of the canal, with a reconstruction of a 1920s’ street, and information about the hat-making, textiles and coal industries in the area.” What’s not to love?! Portland Museum at Dukinfield Junction.

Maarja Kaaristo

Heading down the Clayton flight.

left: Working on the site of the new garden at Lock 7. IWA volunteers and branch members have also been busy painting lock furniture and installing new mooring rings along the Ashton Canal.

Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:56

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21/07/2017 09:57


A moored boat near Roydon.

THE RIVER STORT Claire Norman, IWA Marketing Committee member and senior media advisor for Friends of the Earth, explains how her GRP cruiser has shaped a greater appreciation of her local waterway Tell us about your boat? I have a 25ft GRP river cruiser – a Buckingham – which was built in 1975. I bought it two years ago on a bit of a whim having not long had a relationship break up. I was living with a friend, figuring out what to do next, and I realised I was happier on boats. Prior to that I had owned a 1967 wooden Norfolk Broads cruiser for two or three years. It had been a hire-boat in the 1960s and I really liked that. Hire-craft tend to be quite sensibly proportioned (plenty of head space etc) and storage is good. Plus, they invariably have quite comfortable living quarters.

You used to live aboard? Yes, I was on a residential mooring on the Thames, near Hampton Court – a really gorgeous part of the river. These days I’m moored in and around Roydon. I spend the winter in a marina but in summer most of my cruising is on the River Stort. At 25ft, my current boat is pretty limiting but fortunately I don’t live there fulltime. Nevertheless, every last inch of room Claire’s beloved is maximised – I really Buckingham love intelligent use of cruiser. space.


| IWA Waterways

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Claire’s best bits Local waterway: River Stort Favourite stretch: The whole lot from Bishop’s Stortford to where it meets the River Lee at Hoddesdon. There’s a lovely sculpture, with this inscription by Parndon Mill: “1769 – The River Stort open to navigation flowing into the Lea and onwards to the Thames then out to the sea and so to all the ports of the world.” The Stort has a slightly bashful, even modest reputation but it’s lovely to me because the lie of the land gives the impression of travelling right through fields. Best-kept secret on it: I’m not sharing!

Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:57

Love Your Waterways - The River Stort

Brick Lock with Roydon Marina behind.

There’s a misconception that cruisers make better ‘weekend’ boats than permanent homes. What are the advantages of residing on a cruiser, as you once did, rather than, say, a lengthier narrowboat or a wide-beam? Certainly cost. You pay for the hull material, and a narrowboat or wide-beam is more likely to have a pricier steel shell. Also, the length of boat usually dictates how much you pay in mooring and navigation authority fees, so cruisers generally cost less there too. As a single-handed boater, another advantage of smaller craft is that they are much easier to manage on your own. Having said that, I think narrowboats are a fantastic example of marketing done right. Everyone visualises narrowboats when they think of boats on our inland waterways. And they do have a wonderful, working heritage, whereas GRP craft are obviously a more recent addition to our waterways. But I have a real soft spot for cruisers.

You mentioned narrowboat heritage... Is one drawback of cruisers that they don’t have the same history attached to them? No, not at all. That’s like saying I really like the theatre so I can’t appreciate television. Cruisers are newer, that’s all. And they’re cheaper and therefore more accessible and I don’t want the waterways to be the preserve of the lucky, well-off few. I don’t want to see something as joyful and life-affirming as boating restricted to just one particular demographic.

You’re clearly a great advocate for more diversity of craft on our waterways... Yes, and I think it’s fascinating to see how changes in the world are reflected on the waterways. I’m pretty sure that developments in the North Sea oil industry, for example, is why we’re currently seeing so many orange life-boats dotted around the system. I’m all for diversity. I think that it would get boring pretty quickly to have only one identifiable kind of boat. I think boats in and of themselves are wonderful things, and they should be celebrated in all their many forms.

Talking of diversity, are you encouraged to see the canal-using demographic changing, especially in London? Yes, people worry that it’s leading to an overcrowding problem but I think it will settle down. We’re probably at – or around – the peak of it. I suspect the rise of boaters living in and around London is a result of the housing crisis, and that’s the root problem we have to address. It also means we have to think about providing extra resources for boaters, so that insofar as possible it’s still an enjoyable pursuit and environment for as many as possible. Autumn 2017 030 LYW_Claire.indd 31

As a media advisor, do you think the British press has a responsibility to reflect the waterways more realistically? It has a responsibility to be accurate, but that doesn’t always make for engaging copy! I think we are all well used to regular features in the Evening Standard and suchlike about chucking it all in and moving afloat – as if that’s the answer to all our problems. Obviously it’s rubbish, it can be misinformed, it is often inaccurate, but it’s a lifestyle piece, it’s copy, it’s what journalists do. I think it’s up to us, as boaters, to know how to handle the media if we’re approached for comment, and that might mean declining.

How have your experiences on the inland waterways informed your role at Friends of the Earth? Well, I hate litter and I’ve had the lived experience of knowing how closely it impacts upon my immediate environment. The stuff that I’m putting in my sink right now, for example, is about to be swum through by the swan I can see outside my window. I think that’s a really useful thing which we lose sight of in contemporary cities. So when I’m working on things like the circular economy or dealing with the latest raft of statistics on plastics waste in the ocean, it is very meaningful to me and I worry about the disconnect that modern life can have if people don’t see the effects of what they’re doing.

How can we ensure that people’s love of the waterways extends to being responsible around it? We should encourage individual action – picking up litter, for a start. But there are other ways too. We need to make things that don’t end up as rubbish. Things need to be produced that will biodegrade quickly, or that have a value (for example the Bottle Deposit Scheme) to incentivise the consumer to change his or her behaviour. The other approach is putting pressure on politicians to legislate differently. That might mean a charge on something, for example the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge has radically reduced plastic waste, and that’s a good thing.

And charities like IWA and Friends of the Earth have a part to play in this too... Yes, it’s important to remember just how radical IWA was when it was set up. So much of our fantastic system just wouldn’t exist today without those people who broke rules and challenged authority. These days, however, we have to find a way to reconcile what is increasingly ‘A Tale of Two Rivers’. Heritage, preservation and conservation stir the soul and are wonderful things, but we must also do that difficult thing of adapting and recognising how life is changing around us. Conservation charities need to talk about history and legacy, but not to the extent that we’re incapable of adapting appropriately to what’s around us now. IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:57

CLIMBING ‘EVEREST’ It’s the highest navigable waterway in Britain with a gruelling 74 locks – but that didn’t stop a plucky flotilla from enjoying the Huddersfield Narrow’s breathtaking scenery and incredible engineering in June. Steve Wood reflects on a memorable journey...

Friday 23rd June:

Saturday 24th June:

Welcome meeting at Portland Basin Marina

Dukinfield to Stalybridge | 2 miles | 6 locks

Thirteen. Unlucky for some, but quite the reverse for the crews of 13 boats assembled at Portland Basin Marina on a late Friday evening in June for a week-long Pennine Explorer Cruise. The event, organised by Huddersfield Canal Society and a team from Canal & River Trust’s Manchester, Pennine and Potteries Waterway, aimed to bring more boats back to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal by navigating a 20-mile stretch between Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne and Huddersfield, before finishing at Mirfield on the Calder & Hebble Navigation. There had been some debate about whether my ex-working boat would fit along the canal. I’d measured her at 70’5” long and 6’9” wide and feared she might struggle for length on the tightest bend in Standedge Tunnel. But I was keen to go and consent was granted on the proviso I would be last through on the day. Before then, however, I’d be leading from the front: having the biggest, deepest-drafted boat meant I’d benefit most from the topping up of pounds overnight.

This morning saw the cruise get underway properly. I was met at Lock 1W by CRT volunteer Roger who, as it transpired, was to stay with me for the rest of the day. We soon settled into a comfortable division of labour and the climb to Stalybridge passed without incident. I moored up and, after thanking Roger with the customary tea and biscuits, greeted my crew member for the week, Eve, and got to know some of our fellow Pennine cruisers. A convivial evening was spent at the legendary Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar, where all present agreed that the pie and peas were delicious!


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Sunday 25th June:

Stalybridge to Roaches Lock | 3½ miles | 8 locks Today went well, not least because it was one of the few dry days we saw all week! Scout Tunnel is narrow and shallow so I crawled through against the water flow at a snail’s pace. For the first time we

got a real sense of the beautiful Pennine scenery as we approached Mossley. However, on reaching our overnight mooring at Roaches Lock, we also got our first taste of the challenges that lay ahead – I couldn’t get within 2ft of the towpath! Monday 26th June:

Roaches Lock 15W to Diggle | 4 miles | 18 locks With 18 locks and six hours of boating to the summit, today was always going to be a long one and it kicked off at 7am. CRT staff were manning Lock 17W where there was problem with the bottom gates and risk of serious water loss. Care was taken at Lock 21W too, the first of two (in)famously narrow locks which many historic boats struggle with. Fortunately, aside from being slow to operate, I passed through without problem. We paused for a late breakfast in Uppermill before setting off again – and straight into trouble above Lock 23W, where lack of water saw three boats start to scrape the bottom. I walked back to the previous lock to stop anyone else coming up while the issue was sorted with the assistance of CRT once more. Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:58


Pennine Explorer

Tuesday 27th June:

Through Standedge Tunnel to Marsden | 4 miles | 0 locks Standedge Tunnel is invariably the first thing people think of when the Huddersfield Narrow is mentioned. The first boat entered a little after 7am, with subsequent craft following every 45 minutes or so. CRT provided a pilot for each boat to talk through the various sections and to check in with Marsden control centre at four points in the tunnel. You need good concentration for a couple of hours but it’s well worth it. A few of the wider-cabined boats caught their handrails a couple of times, but nothing worse than happens in many a bridge hole. We didn’t get lucky and see a train in the parallel tunnel, but it is a remarkable experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Emerging into the daylight at Marsden was a moment I will long remember. Wednesday 28th June:

Marsden To Slaithwaite Fire Station | 3 miles | 21 locks The descent from Marsden starts with a flight of closely spaced locks. The canal generally hugs the north side of the valley whereas the roads are on the south. The feeling almost all the way from the summit to Slaithwaite is rural, often in woodland and passing open fields at other times. The early starters were on the move soon after 7am, but unfortunately the timing of boats between locks wasn’t always right and water levels quickly became a problem in a couple of places. Drawing a lock can make 9-12” difference in some pounds so it’s important to Autumn 2017 032 pennine explorer.indd 33

above: Fixing a broken paddle.

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal down to Milnsbridge.

draw paddles on the lock ahead to stop water being lost down the bywashes. Several locks have restrictors meaning that you can’t always tell from a distance whether they are up or down. With so many people around (both boaters and volunteers), crews sometimes lost track of who had done what, and paddles were not always closed properly. The combination of these problems and very wet weather meant that a number of bywashes were incredibly lively. On a couple of occasions my boat was pushed into shallow water before I could even get out of the lock. The guillotine Lock 24E is the shortest on the whole canal. My boat fitted in with very little to spare, even after lifting the bow fender, and we watched both ends very closely as she descended. Slaithwaite is a remarkable little place where the restored canal runs down one side of the main street. The road bridges here were the lowest we saw all week. Thursday 29th June:

Slaithwaite To Milnsbridge | 3 miles | 13 locks Today we were one of the last to leave. There was plenty of water so it was nice not to be the one setting the pace. The run down to Milnsbridge went without incident other than at Lock 12E where a large tree branch, presumably from storms overnight, had prevented the top gate from closing properly. The boat was well down in the lock when we realised just how bad a leak this was causing. We had to refill the lock and haul the branch out. Friday 30th June:

Milnsbridge to University, Huddersfield | 2 miles | 8 locks We’d all moored in the pound in the centre of Milnsbridge overnight and when the time came to leave it wasn’t long before the level was down so much that some boats were grounded and


They were busy all day, for further problems at Lock 30W (it was taking forever to empty) saw another call-out. After half an hour we were able to pass through and complete our climb to the summit. It emerged that lifting the bottom paddles did not move anything below the water. Several hours were spent improvising a solution and eventually everyone reached the summit around 8pm.

listing. Water had to be run down three locks to get everyone afloat again. The run into Huddersfield is particularly fascinating. Much of the canal takes a new channel or levels have been changed to accommodate later developments, such as a factory which was built across the line of the canal. The solution here was to move a lock and tunnel under the factory. It looks spectacular and works well. There are several examples of such creative thinking along the canal; a credit to everyone involved in this “impossible” restoration. Our mooring in Huddersfield was slap-bang in the middle of the university. Boats breasted up on both sides of the canal, making quite a sight for passers-by. The towpath here is well used by students and others from the local community and it is no surprise that quite a few cameras were spotted during the day. Saturday 1st July:

Huddersfield To Mirfield | 6 miles | 11 broad locks Today the smaller boats continued through Sir John Ramsden’s Canal, where the locks are shorter and wider, with three longer boats preparing to turn for the return journey. Everyone got together one last time for a social evening hosted by the Calder Navigation Society at South Pennine Boat Club. A very enjoyable evening was had by all before we headed off in various directions the following morning. It was a remarkable week for many reasons. Despite the incessant rain people enjoyed themselves immensely and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal turned out to be a fascinating journey. Yes, there were problems in places but most of these came because we were travelling in convoy. Having since completed the return journey I can say that water management is not an issue with two boats travelling together in the same way it is with 13. IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:58

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21/07/2017 09:58

restoration HUB:



olunteers are vital to canal restoration projects, but without proper health & safety procedures in place there’s a grave danger they can be exposed to unnecessary risk. Fortunately, that’s where IWA’s Restoration Hub can help... Last summer the restoration world was rocked by the death of a 63-year-old Wilts & Berks Canal Trust volunteer, who was fatally injured when a wall he was working on at Upper Pewsham Lock, near Chippenham, collapsed. Of course, incidents of such seriousness are rare. However, by their very nature construction sites of any kind, including on the waterways, are inherently risky. Working at height, near water, or on muddy towpaths where slips, trips and falls are more likely are just some of the potential dangers to navigate. Having to handle hazardous materials and powerful equipment can make for further H&S headaches. Learning how to mitigate the risk is not just a box-ticking exercise. It’s a really important part of making sure that every volunteer’s experience is safe, productive and fun. And that’s where IWA’s Restoration Hub comes in – drawing together a wealth of experience gleaned everywhere from WRG canal camps to the latest government legislation to ensure rules are followed and mishaps fended off.

Proper health and safety on site promotes a happy workforce

Accidents happen... Here are six of the top factors that WRG has found leads to accidents on volunteer sites. Note that they are not quite the same as on ‘normal’ construction sites. And that’s the first lesson really: every restoration differs widely, not just from conventional building sites, but from each and every other canal conservation project currently ongoing around the country. It’s acceptable to manage heath and safety slightly differently depending on each individual case – so long as you can prove it’s appropriate, provide the required documentation, and ensure all those with responsibility agree to it. 1) Knowledge (or ‘lack of’...) Are the people working on your restoration aware of all the hazards on site? Have they been trained sufficiently? Can they recognise their own capabilities and limits? 2) Keenness An enthusiastic volunteer workforce – it’s just what the chairman ordered, isn’t it? However, beware the overexuberant few who, in their rush to get on site and help out, may often do so before planning is quite complete. 3) Complacency And what about the stalwarts who’ve been active on site for the last five summers already? Surely they know what they’re doing by now? The danger here is that overconfidence can sometimes leave scant regard for health and safety basics, as well as an uncompromising “Well I’ve been doing it this way for years” attitude.


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WRG volunteers undergo scaffolding training ahead of going on site.

4) Peer pressure Sometimes new volunteers don’t want to look foolish in front of ‘old hands’ and could be too timid to ask the obvious questions – at their cost. 5) The right tool for the job ‘Making do’ with the equipment you have rather than investing in the proper tools creates unsafe practices. 6) Site management If the site leader cuts corners, unnecessary risk could become the acceptable norm on site. No job is too trivial to have a proper H&S plan in place.

Here’s how they can be avoided... 1) Create a good safety culture This all comes from strong leadership with visible, active commitment from the board and trustees, effective ‘downward’ communication systems and structures, and making sure good H&S decisions are integral to restoration plans. 2) Volunteer involvement Engage volunteers in making safety decisions so they understand why something is being done the way it is, foster effective ‘upward’ communication and provide any training that’s necessary. 3) Assessment and review Identify and manage health and safety risks and don’t be afraid to seek out advice from the experts. Once you’ve got a system in place, make sure you monitor, report and review it regularly.

Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 10:59

Restoration Hub


How the Hub can help Our Waterway Recovery Group has nearly 50 years of restoration experience and, in that time, has picked up a thing or two about staying safe on site. Visit for details about accessing its resources. You’ll find policies and guidance on: • Preparing Risk Assessments, an important tool in protecting volunteers, staff and your business, as well as complying with the law. • Conducting Toolbox Talks, short discussions by supervisors to staff/ volunteers. These generally last no longer than 15 minutes but focus on one specific topic and address it in simple terms. We’ve got helpful information sheets on safety subjects as varied as how to use brick saws and brushcutters, to lone working, Weil’s Disease and manual handling. • There’s also a useful link to everything you need to know about accident reporting, which is a legal requirement, and encouragement to introduce similar reporting for near-misses, to reduce the risk of a more serious future accident. • You can access a range of WRG documents and videos, from the H&S information booklet given to all new volunteers on site, to a guide for site leaders. What’s more, keep your eyes peeled for details of upcoming training days including, later this year, a one-day H&S course aimed at helping site leaders manage their restoration projects safely. Meanwhile, WRG’s Training Weekend, which runs every July, is open to anyone involved in canal restoration.

Report cards like this can help you identify and manage risks.

Heavy plant are just one of the hazards to plan for on canal restoration projects.

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LICHFIELD & HATHERTON CANALS RESTORATION TRUST Dora Hancock, director of health & safety for LHCRT, evaluates the impact of IWA’s Restoration Hub on her organisation: IWA has been very generous with risk assessments for events and work parties. The big thing for us is that they’re so quick. If I’ve got a problem I not only get an answer, but I get it within 12 hours, which is incredibly helpful. With restoration, sometimes you have ages to plan and organise an event, but sometimes you don’t and it’s very helpful, on these occasions, to have someone send you what you need without any unnecessary delay. That’s one of the things I really appreciate. It’s also good just knowing an expert’s there, even if I don’t ask anything. It’s very reassuring. A specific example of how IWA has helped our health & safety is when we organised a ‘Drive a Digger’ experience for our biannual festival, whereby children were allowed a ride on the machine. The question of H&S and insurance came up beforehand, of course, and I received a really quick answer from IWA with all the risk assessments, guidance notes and instructor advice to enable me to say, “This is what we need to do and we’re covered by our insurance – this is all okay.” In the past, IWA has also sent representatives on site to advise us. Again, knowing that’s a possibility in future is great – the knowledge that we’re never on our own. LHCRT has always been a very safe organisation. We’re made up of mostly older, retired men who really know what they’re doing. We’ve been safe statistically, in that we’ve not had accidents, and we’ve had a safe way of working. But what we’ve not been so good at is all the recording of things – going through procedures and writing formal risk assessments etc. Thanks to IWA, we’re getting better at things like that. We’re raising awareness, no question about it, and trying to make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be and that we have all the documentation to demonstrate that. I have great support from the site leaders who are trying to implement what we talk about, and a tremendous amount of support from the board too. People are really keen to get this right. We know it’s important – we want everyone who works on the project to go home healthy and happy at the end of the day.

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 10:59

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21/07/2017 09:59


Taking it up a


How far would you go to support IWA’s important restoration work? For one man, Paul Shaw, the answer was quite specific: over 1,000 miles on an epic Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride. We caught up with him fresh from his success in the saddle...


t’s fair to say that Paul Shaw isn’t someone to do things by halves. Almost exactly a year ago, a routine visit to his local optician resulted in a surprise diagnosis – he was Type 2 diabetic. “Nothing serious and no symptoms,” says Paul, “I didn’t need to take tablets or anything. Instead, the general medical advice was to eat healthily and do more exercise.” For Paul, however, the news came as a massive shock, not least because his brother is quite severely affected by diabetes too (Type 1, in his case). “I thought I needed to take the advice to heart,” Paul continues, “so I changed my diet immediately.” And when it came to the second part of the ‘prescription’ – to do more exercise – he was equally extreme. Not for him a gym membership or weekend jog around the park – instead Paul decided a far better course of action would be a 1,000-plus mile cycle over two weeks in the summer of 2017. Of course.

Canal camp leader But when it comes to jumping in at the deep end, Paul has form. Having previously lived in Lancaster, he gradually became involved with the Lancaster Canal Trust, the volunteer group, set up in 1963, with the objective of restoring and Autumn 2017 039 fundraising.indd 39

reopening to navigation the full length of the waterway from Tewitfield, just north of Carnforth, to Kendal. In this, LCT has been well supported by the Waterway Recovery Group, and it wasn’t long before Paul became involved with them, too. Dipping his toe in the water, so to speak, he signed up for a summer camp on the Grantham Canal in July 2005. “We spent a week demolishing a mass concrete bridge,” he remembers, “and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My only regret was that I hadn’t discovered WRG much earlier!”

“My only regret was that I hadn’t discovered WRG much earlier” Since then he’s certainly made up for lost time, not just by periodically picking up a shovel for them, but immersing himself in a staggering three to four week-long camps every year. From humble volunteer he’s moved on to canal camp leader, chainsaw operator and plant instructor. And that’s outside of the extra work he does at weekends for WRG NW and WRG Forestry. IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 11:01

Good towpath on the Weaver Way.

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal north of Wigan – just before Paul’s halfway point.

Crossing the border.

Sponsorship motivation So when the idea of the long-distance cycle ride popped into Paul’s head, it perhaps shouldn’t come as any surprise that his passion for WRG was somewhere in the back of his mind too. Paul says: “I mentioned it to a couple of colleagues in WRG, and following on from that decided to do the ride in aid of WRG. That actually turned out to be a good decision, as the amount of sponsorship I’ve raised gave me the motivation to get out and do the required training.” And there was a lot of training. While Paul admits he’d fancied cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats long before his diabetes diagnosis, the idea had never progressed much further and he was woefully out of pedalling practise. “In fact, I hadn’t really done much cycling since I moved to Holmfirth four years ago, “ he says. “The hills around here looked a bit frightening!” They were nothing, however, on the challenges he was about to encounter en route. Paul set off from Land’s End on 20th June which, as most readers will fondly recollect, fell slapbang in the middle of one of the warmest weeks in decades. Heathrow recorded Britain’s hottest June day in 41 years with a temperature of 34.5°C – just shy of the 35.6°C of 1976, the all-time high since records began. Newspaper front pages were dominated by photographs of families frolicking in the sea, juxtaposed by a warning issued by Public Health England urging families to keep an eye on their neighbours during the sweltering conditions.

‘Red hot’, roadkill and midges All the while, Paul was forced to pedal on. He cites “red hot” Day Two as being the worst of the whole trip, while wet and windy conditions on Day Eight also had him cursing our


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Loch Ness – no visible monsters!

unpredictable British summer. What he learned between the lashings of rain and layers of sunscreen, however, more than compensated for his discomfort. “During the ride,” he says, “I’ve amazed myself at being able to just keep going.” And he’s referring not just to the weather, nor the roadkill carcasses (“which don’t half stink”), nor the questionable manoeuvring of the motorists he’s encountered along the way (“most people on the road have absolutely no idea how to overtake a cyclist safely”), nor “the real Scottish monster – the midge!” (he recommends Avon Skin So Soft for “keeping the little b**gers at bay”). Because on top of all this Paul had to adjust to a string of health niggles too, especially during the latter stages of his ride. After one particularly gruelling day, his Facebook update read: “My left thigh is really hurting. Although it has been like that at the start of a day previously, the pain disappeared fairly quickly once I’d started riding. That didn’t happen today, and it’s been another struggle. I was unable to get above 10mph on the flat, and into a mainly headwind with some long uphill drags, it was always going to be a big ask to make it to my planned destination at Tongue. I decided to call a halt just north of Lairg, 31 miles short where we are now camping overnight.”

Highlights But Paul’s perseverance paid off. On 4th July he finally reached journey’s end in John O’Groats where his partner, Lynda, who had formed a one-woman motorised support team along the way, rewarded him with a medal and bottle of Orkney’s finest Highland Park 12-year-old single malt whisky. Looking back less than a week after completing his mission, Paul can easily pick out the highlights: “I’ve seen some amazing bits of the country Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 11:02


“I’ll be finding other less strenuous challenges for the future!” Journey’s end, with partner Lynda.

on my travels, and I have to say that for overall scenery the Scottish Highlands have been fantastic. However, for ‘in-yourface’ majesty the most stunning stretch was definitely through Cheddar Gorge. I’d recommend anyone to cycle through there – up or down – just to get a feel for it.” He’s also optimistic that his dual aims of raising money for WRG and working on his fitness have been achieved. So far he’s raised over £1,800 with donations to Virgin Money Giving, direct to IWA or handed to him in cash. “This generosity totally astounds me,” says Paul, clearly humbled. “The Virgin Money Giving page will be open for another three months, so please feel free to continue donating.” Meanwhile, he confesses to feeling healthier than he has in a long time. “I’m back at the doctors for the annual review next week – I’ll be amazed if things aren’t now all they are supposed to be!” But the million-dollar question still begs to be asked... “All in all I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend the idea to anyone with a mind to do it. Would I do it again, though?

The bike ride by numbers Number of days in the saddle: 14 Number of hours in the saddle: 94 Total mileage: 1,022 Total climb: 52,800ft (the equivalent of going up Everest 1.8 times) Total raised to date for IWA: £1,800

Absolutely... not! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which I will always treasure, but I’ll be finding other less strenuous challenges for the future!” You can still sponsor Paul at PaulShaw7. Donations will be quickly processed and passed to WRG. Alternatively, send a cheque to ‘The Inland Waterways Association’, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA, stating that you are sponsoring him.

Make a difference Inspired by Paul’s long-distance pedal? As a charity, IWA relies on donations and fundraising efforts like his to keep up its important work. There are plenty of ways to make a monetary difference. Visit donation for further details.

Autumn 2017 039 fundraising.indd 41

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 11:02


The newly constructed paddle arch at Inglesham Lock.

School’s out but the hard graft has only just begun for hundreds of WRG volunteers across the system. We look at progress to date – and what’s still to come... ‘Wey’ to go!

This April saw WRG’s continued support of the Cotswold Canals Trust’s endeavour to rebuild Weymoor Bridge. Volunteers came from all over the country to help on tasks as diverse as repointing and clearing the brickwork on the underarch, to landscaping and vegetation clearance. Once all work was completed, they moved onto Inglesham Lock to reconstruct a paddle arch. There was also significant progress on the Grantham Canal thanks to 18 campers’ efforts at Lock 15, alongside regular Grantham Canal Society volunteers. Achievements included modifying an overflow weir, reconstruction of the lock chamber and removal of the old cill/rebuilding the cill wall. WRG will be back on site for another four weeks from 5th August - 2nd September.

One thing leaders to another... Meanwhile, WRG held its annual Leaders Training Day on the 13th May at Lapworth Village Hall in Warwickshire. With a relaxed and inclusive format, some 45 attendees engaged with topics ranging from underground services and health and safety reporting to dealing with a difficult volunteer and working with vulnerable adults. There was also a culinary workshop for volunteers eyeing a camp cook role.

below: Week one volunteers at Weymoor Bridge. Learning fast on the WRG training weekend.

Training Day Finally, the last weekend of June saw volunteers from WRG, the Cotswold Canals Trust, Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and the Buckingham Canal Society attend a training weekend organised by WRG to pass on valuable canal restoration skills. The event was funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust to develop heritage skills within the volunteering sector. Participants were trained in beginner and advanced bricklaying, operating plant (dumpers and excavators), scaffolding, safe use of bricksaws, CAT scanning, vans and trailers.


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Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 11:03


First time at the top

What’s it like making the jump from volunteer to assistant leader? Matt Baines reflects on his breakthrough role on WRG’s Chelmer & Blackwater Camp in February... To say I was nervous is an understatement, but the opportunity to take on more responsibility with WRG is something I’ve been aiming for since my first camp back in 2013. In the intervening years I’ve witnessed my fair share of diverse leadership teams from various backgrounds and with varying levels of experience. Some teams prefer to co-lead, sharing responsibility for all the jobs over the duration of the camp. Others will split the tasks up – perhaps the leader will plan the work on site while the assistant concentrates on activities in the evening. I have even been on camps where there is just one leader supported by experienced volunteers. It really does depend on what works best for the group! In my case we chose to split the workload evenly, with the camp leader dealing with paperwork and logistics and keeping me up to date with communications. I vastly underestimated how much planning was required before each camp could even begin, but with the support of the camp leader and WRG head office I was able to write my own risk assessments and method statements in the run-up. As the camp booked up it was great to see a good mix of both experienced WRG volunteers and fresh faces. Afterwards, it was gratifying to reflect on what else I had learned over the week. I took away a lot of new skills and the added responsibility was a big boost for my confidence. I have learned to communicate better, work more successfully in a group, make decisions and see them through to the end. WRG invested a lot of time and effort in allowing me to become an assistant leader, including training days and weekends ahead of starting the role. The whole experience has helped me develop both personally and professionally. Would I be part of the leadership team again? Yes, in a heartbeat! It’s been a massive challenge but one of my greatest achievements to date! For further details or to express an interest in cooking, assisting or leading future canal camps contact the WRG team on 01494 783453 ext 604, email or visit Matt Baines (second from right) gets stuck in with his team.

Still to come... Here are just a few of the interesting projects WRG will be working on later this year! Lapal Canal, Midlands Dates: 29th July-5th August Last summer WRG volunteers started work to repair the towpath wall at Harborne Wharf. Over the years the wall has deteriorated significantly, with brickwork missing and several sections being undermined. In 2017 we will continue repair work, strengthen existing foundations and repair damaged brickwork. Volunteers will also clear vegetation around Selly Oak Park Bridge, one of the two oldest surviving original canal bridges in Birmingham, in preparation for archaeological investigations. Once repaired, there are plans to re-water this section, creating an amenity for local residents and an area for boats to turn. River Waveney, Suffolk Dates: 5th-12th August The River Waveney forms the boundary between Suffolk and Norfolk, running past Bungay and Beccles before eventually discharging into the sea at Great Yarmouth. For the first time, WRG volunteers will be working at Geldeston Lock, the lowest of three locks on the navigation. The construction of the locks allowed trading wherries to navigate above the tidal stretch of the Waveney up to the head of the navigation at Bungay, where there were established milling and malting activities. Over the week volunteers will remove vegetation from the lock chamber, repair the damaged brickwork using lime mortar and repoint the chamber walls. Once work in the lock has been completed volunteers will landscape the surrounding area, and install mooring rings and fencing. It is hoped, once the lock has been stabilised and access improved, that it will be used for educational and recreational purposes – as well as a mooring for the wherry Albion, which was built for and owned by the Waveney Millers. North Walsham & Dilham Canal, Norfolk 
 Dates: 12th-19th August This is WRG’s first venture to Norfolk in several years. The North Walsham & Dilham Canal is Norfolk’s only artificial, locked sailing canal and was originally built to transport coal. However, the arrival of the railways meant it was cheaper to transport it overland and the canal’s main cargo became farm produce instead. The top section of the waterway was abandoned in 1927 but the North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust has made steady progress since 2000 clearing vegetation from the line of the canal and restoring a lock. In 2017 WRG volunteers will start work to restore the recently uncovered Ebridge Weir. The weir is in a poor condition so there’s lots to be done! Volunteers will use an excavator to remove a damaged concrete slab, replacing it with a weed control mat and crushed stone. There may also be the opportunity to carry out repair work to Ebridge Lock. Each week costs £70 for food, transport to site and accommodation, and camps are open to anyone over the age of 18. To book on or request a Canal Camps 2017 brochure please visit WRG’s website: Alternatively, you can call or email the WRG team on 01494 783453 ext 604 or email

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IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 11:04


IWA Chiltern Branch volunteers (in blue) assist boaters through Marsworth Lock 39 as part of 2016’s Lock-Aid.

This relatively new branch may be small, but punches well above its weight when it comes to fundraising flair, restoration support and a jam-packed social programme. We find out more...


here’s an old American saying: “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” For no IWA branch is this truer than the diminutive Chiltern. With just a handful (literally, five, until very recently) of committee members, there’s no luxury of delegating tasks across a broad base. Instead, as its fundraiser and waterways events officer John Brice explains, “everyone does at least two jobs”. No matter. He continues: “What we lack in numbers we’re spoilt with in terms of dedicated, enthusiastic members. The stuff that we’ve achieved would never have been possible without the people who put their hearts and souls into it.” And so work – an awful lot of it, in fact – gets done. “We’re a group of people that likes to get quite involved,” John chuckles. “We’re certainly more of a doing branch than a talking shop.” Which is important when stretches of two of the country’s biggest waterways (the Grand Union and Thames) flow through your patch, as well as an active restoration project in the form of the Wendover Arm.

Local restoration - Wendover Arm Chiltern Branch has been supporting this via fundraising efforts (in excess of £35,000, to date) and other practical assistance for well over 20 years, and many of its members are also directly involved with the Wendover Arm Trust. Nestled in beautiful countryside, the canal follows the 390ft contour around the Chiltern Hills and has no locks. Although it is possible to walk the entire arm along the towpath, boats are currently restricted to the first 1½ miles from Bulbourne to a newly constructed winding hole at Little Tring. The ultimate aim is to bring water from Wendover to the


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summit of the GU and restore full navigation. To this end, WAT has been working with the Canal & River Trust on a £1.9m Heritage Lottery Fund grant for earthworks on the dry section, which would speed up the restoration. John says: “It’s been successful at Phase 1, which means they’re on the ladder and can now prepare and submit more detailed plans and costings. Something had to be done or the project would never get finished. Enthusiasm’s one thing but the cruel reality is that you need significant sums of money to make things happen too.”

Priceless ideas But Chiltern Branch are pretty good at raising coffers, even without the help of the heavyweights at HLF. The stand-out summer fundraiser is something called ‘Lock-Aid’, which is based at Marsworth Bottom Lock and sees branch members help boaters through the flight over an entire weekend in return for small donations. These amount to anything up to £1,000, says John, and it’s also a good way to engage the public with the work that IWA does. Members bring publicity boards down to the towpath and, between their manual labour on lock paddles, still find breath to chat about restoration progress and other local issues to anyone who’s interested. “It’s a bit of a PR event,” explains John, and the format has remained relatively unchanged now for 15 years, although its name has undergone something of a tweak. “It used to be called ‘Lock Ransom,’” says John, “but we had to change that when we started adding Gift Aid and HMRC objected to the suggestion that we were collecting money under menaces! We had a good laugh about it at the branch, but I don’t think the tax people shared our sense of humour.” Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 11:05

IWA at Work

BRANCH AT A GLANCE Formed: 1990 Local waterways: Grand Union Canal (Rickmansworth to Marsworth) and its Aylesbury and Wendover arms, part of the River Thames Claim to fame: Fundraising successes and long-time support of the Wendover Arm Trust and Rickmansworth Waterways Trust. Find out more: chiltern

“We’re a group of people that likes to get quite involved. We’re certainly more of a doing branch than a talking shop”

When a bench seat at Marsworth fell into disrepair in 2015, Chiltern members built a good-looking hardwood replacement seat around the tree stump.

If Lock-Aid sounds like a great wheeze, wait until you hear about the branch’s other ways to raise money over the years. Not content with selling the usual calendar and Christmas card fare, members have come up with their own ideas to bring in the pennies, and they don’t come more ambitious than the infamous ‘Chiltern Tunnel’ – a sort of DIY theme park ride-cumlesson in heritage boating. John, whose idea it was, says he was inspired by a visit to the Dudley Tunnel and the opportunity to ‘leg’ through in the traditional way. He was so enthused by the experience that it got him thinking how he could recreate it back at branch – and make money in the process. Requisitioning an old scaffold tower, he used wooden cladding, rails and some creative paintwork to mock up a brick tunnel and the back end of a narrowboat. “It was great,” he laughs. “We had it for many years. The only drawback was that it was quite a lot of kit to take on site. Luckily I had a big pick-up vehicle at work, so could borrow that at weekends. It was worth doing because it was something different. When we do something, we don’t copy other people. We try to be innovative and entertaining. It was a fun game that raised a lot of money, which is what it’s all about.”

Chiltern fundraiser John Brice presents an event publicity trailer to Wendover Arm Trust chairman Chris Sargeant.

late summer is the preserve of Chiltern’s popular ‘Weekends Away’, which Colin has been organising since 1997. He explains: “We try to visit a place where there’s some waterways interest, restoration in particular, and perhaps a trip-boat, some decent scenery and a pub or two. This is my 21st year and we’ve been all over the place in that time including the Broads, the West Country, Wales. You name it, I think we’ve been there.” This year the destination is Staffordshire, starting at the Wedgwood pottery museum and, from there, taking a stroll along the Trent & Mersey Canal. The following day visitors will be the guests of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Trust before rounding off the weekend with a ride on the Churnet Valley Railway. “Between 20 and 30 people usually come,” says Colin. “They’re popular, I guess, because not only is it an opportunity to see what restoration is being done, it is also very much a social occasion. We visit a hotel, have a few jars and supper together: it’s generally very convivial.”

‘Ricky’ Festival For a successful branch event on an altogether different scale, look no further than the Rickmansworth Festival, now in its 24th year and, in May 2017, attracting an astonishing 25,000 people. It’s run by the Rickmansworth Waterways Trust, but Chiltern traditionally has a strong presence, including a popular IWA stand, which this year included WRG. Chiltern also received support from the IWA Events Team, who arrived with the ‘Son of Tardis’ events trailer. This was proudly on show throughout the weekend and Chiltern Branch has committed to provide funds for its ongoing maintenance and repairs. Meanwhile, John faced the mighty task of managing the festival’s waterspace: put bluntly, the logistical nightmare of accommodating up to 120 craft on a limited stretch of canal. “We had boats moored all the way from Batchworth to Stocker’s locks this year,” he recalls. “The working boats at the Batchworth end were moored four-deep, while it was three-deep for the pleasure boats all the way down, fender to fender.” Again, proof, if any were needed now, that Chiltern sees size as no barrier to performing minor waterways miracles.

Buzzing social scene

Autumn 2017 044 branch focus chiltern.indd 45

The ‘Ricky Jam’ ends the 2017 Rickmansworth Festival with a bang. LEN KERSWILL.

Having fun while furthering the IWA cause is something that’s at the heart of the branch’s ethos. The responsibility largely falls on programme secretary Colin Bird, who ensures members are treated to a year-round schedule of social events. Branch talks, invariably well attended, take place monthly from September to April and have included speakers as varied as the last captain of the QEII to (next year) a pilot on Concorde. Christmas is celebrated with a branch party, while

IWA Waterways |


21/07/2017 11:05

IWA at Work

Round-up of IWA branch activity Here are just some of the recent activities carried out by IWA branches around the country. If your event isn’t included here, do let the Branch Campaign Team at Head Office know (contact details below), ideally in advance so that they can assist with publicity and planning. Tidy work There have been some sterling efforts to spruce up the system in recent months, not least Milton Keynes’ twice-yearly Canal Clean-up at the end of March/beginning of April. Members were joined by volunteers from CRT and The Parks Trust to clear the towpath and hedges of litter, working northward from Fenny Stratford to Old Wolverton. Meanwhile, volunteers working from a ‘pan’ (shallow-draughted workboat) cleared the non-towpath side of the waterway. Submerged rubbish in the centre of the canal was grappled from a hopper, while a CRT dredger helped to retrieve the heaviest items. Among the objects recovered were bicycles, a motorbike, tyres, a Playstation, a trampoline and a child’s swing. The usual crop of supermarket trolleys was hauled up too. At several points, volunteers found that dog-walkers had rightly picked up and bagged their pets’ excrement but, instead of disposing of it properly, had then tied dozens of these bags to canalside trees. These were all removed, hopefully discouraging this bizarre habit. An estimated 4 tonnes of rubbish was collected by 33 volunteers, who put in a total of 310 hours over the two days of the clean-up. Milton Keynes Branch get stuck in with a dredger.

brambles and removing litter from the towpath on the River Tone between Bathpool and Hankridge, and collecting rubbish from the towpath of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. Finally, as part of a long-term project to maintain and improve the area around Cheshire Locks, May saw volunteers from IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch team up with the Trent & Mersey Canal Society to paint the metalwork on and around Lock 41 at Kidsgrove. In addition, two members of the group completed the painting of all eight mileposts between the north portal of Harecastle Tunnel and Wheelock. RIGHT: John Lawson & Dave Sproson pictured at the last of the eight mileposts between the north portal of the Harecastle Tunnel and Wheelock to be painted.

Walk the talk Over in Lichfield, members were making the most of May weather to complete a circular stroll around Pelsall and Little Wyrley. A total of 14 walkers set off from the Finger Post pub at Yorks Bridge on the Wyrley & Essington Canal, before branching off onto the Cannock Extension and Forest of Mercia Timberland Trail. The day out culminated in revisiting the site of the 2016 Festival of Water before heading back via Pelsall Junction Bridge, where repairs are being planned to replace stolen coping stones. Early May also saw branch volunteers hold a work party at Brindley Bank in Rugeley, with the very welcome addition of three new people. The main task was to cut back the grass and vegetation which was encroaching over the towpath. After checking that no birds would be harmed in the process, a lot of overhanging branches from the top path were also lopped, which generally made the path easier to walk along. After lunch it was time to go ‘batty’ as members, on the advice of Staffordshire Bat Group, installed three heavy-duty bat boxes in appropriate trees. After some rain a few days later, a trial wildflower seed scattering was carried out. The results will determine whether more will be sown next year.

ABOVE: Lichfield members retrace footsteps to last year’s Festival of Water.

Litter picking has been a top priority for IWA’s West Country branch too. Thanks to a donation of new tools from Somerset Wildlife Trust, members set about tackling French Weir in Taunton on Easter Sunday. The new equipment was put to good use in May, too, at another litter pick in the same spot. May was a busy month with four work parties in Bridgwater and Taunton. Tasks included painting, clearing overgrown


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RIGHT: A head for heights installing a home for bats.

Details of all IWA branch events can be found on the IWA website events calendar. If you would like to get involved or have any suggestions for future work parties please contact Alison Smedley, Campaigns Officer on 07779 090915 or Autumn 2017 21/07/2017 11:05

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IWA waterways |


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IWA Classies Autumn17.indd 48

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49 21/07/2017 10:13

Then and Now: celebrating restoration success stories

Carpenters Road Lock

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways

CRT above: An artist’s impression of what to expect when the project is finally signed off


below: Carpenters Road Lock circa the mid-2000s


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Almost there! The site was still a hive of activity at the time of writing

Perhaps, for one issue only, this feature should be renamed ‘Then & Any Time Now’. As Waterways went to press, the long-awaited, £1.75m reopening of Carpenters Road Lock was tantalisingly close, with a ‘test run’ pencilled in for 5th August. The Canal & River Trust-led restoration project – supported by IWA to the tune of £4,750 – is one of the final pieces of a ten-year programme to regenerate the Bow Back Rivers and preserve an important part of London’s industrial heritage. Carpenters Road Lock is significant from an engineering point of view, as it had the only double radial lock gates in the country. Built in the 1930s, this design included two convex-shaped gates that lifted up vertically to enable boats to pass through. Restored, the lock gates will provide an opportunity to navigate from the waterways around the former Olympic Stadium to Waterworks River, which in turn runs south to Three Mills Lock then out to the River Thames. The 3-mile stretch of rivers in the Park were once used by local industries, but the drop in canal freight after World War II, together with a build-up of silt, saw them decline until they were largely closed in the 1960s. But then came the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which offered the opportunity to unlock their commercial and leisure potential again.  Jon Guest, CRT’s London waterway manager, said: “The transformation of the area has been incredible. Those with long memories will remember that the rivers in this part of the east end were all but unnavigable, subject to the tides and full of fly-tipped fridges, cars and tyres. I’m excited for everyone who will get to explore them, at a time when the capital’s canals and rivers are arguably more popular than any time in history.” The restoration of Carpenters Road Lock will be celebrated at an East London Waterways Festival at the end of August. This summer the loop of waterways around the London Stadium, which includes the Old River Lea, City Mill River and St Thomas Creek, will open to public navigation for cruising without the need for prior booking. Closures will occur from time to time as part of the security requirements for high-profile events in the park, but boaters will be notified in advance via CRT’s usual stoppage notifications.  

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IWA Waterways Magazine - Autumn 2017  
IWA Waterways Magazine - Autumn 2017