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AUTUMN 2011 | ISSUE 233


Horsepower to Diesel

Droitwich Reopening

National Waterways Charity




News from the branches

Join a WRG work camp

Focus on youth

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Autumn 2011


6 IWA AT WORK What’s been happening around the branches

10 THE NATIONAL WATERWAYS CHARITY IWA responds to the Government’s Third Sector proposals



Join a WRG work camp this autumn

22 THE NEXT GENERATION Attracting young people to the world of the waterways


24 AGENDA The column of the National Chairman

25 NEWS A round-up of the main stories from IWA and beyond


30 FREIGHT Commercial carrying developments around the network

34 HORSEPOWER TO DIESEL The story of propulsion on inland waterways



Max Sinclair recalls the early days of the Droitwich Canals restoration project

42 CUTTINGS What the media has been saying about the world of the inland waterways


45 INBOX Readers’ letters WATERWAYS EDITOR: Keith Goss Tel: 01283 742951 E-mail: ART EDITOR: Kerry Hogston ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER: Ian Sharpe Tel: 01283 742977 E-mail: ADVERTISING DESIGN: Jill Brown, Clare Salisbury ADVERTISING PRODUCTION: Samantha Lloyd E-mail: EDITORIAL BOARD: Neil Edwards, Jo Gilbertson, Keith Goss, Clive Henderson, Peter Johns, Jim Shead 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. ISSN 0969-0654 G

pologies if you were expecting to read National Chairman Clive Henderson’s regular column on this opening page of the magazine. Never fear, his Agenda message appears on page 24, as an introduction to a section of specific IWA news items. This gives me the opportunity of highlighting a number of key features published in this edition of Waterways. There are no prizes for guessing that the lead story is once again the National Waterways Charity – and IWA’s response to the major issues surrounding funding, the future of Environment Agency navigations, trade and commerce, dredging etc. Read our detailed analysis on pages 10-15. The other major talking point at the moment – and very much a ‘good news’ story – is the long-awaited official reopening of the Droitwich Canals on 1st July. We have a selection of photos from the opening ceremony on page 27, whilst veteran campaigner Max Sinclair – hailed by many as the saviour of these delightful waterways – looks back to the early days of the restoration campaign (40-41).

What’s the difference between a kerdonkk and a kerdoink, kerdoink? Committed enthusiasts will know that the former is the sound of a Bolinder in full voice, whilst the latter emanates from one of the other vintage narrowboat engines to be found around the system. Read more on this topic in our Horsepower to Diesel feature which traces the development of propulsion on inland waterways. Contained within are Ten Top Tips for avoiding a breakdown, which we hope that the boat-owners among you will find especially useful. It all starts on page 34. And then there’s our regular features of course, including Cuttings, IWA at Work and The Next Generation, which focuses on IWA’s attempts to attract young people to the world of the waterways. This column is, judging by your recent responses, proving particularly popular since its inception a few issues ago. Please keep the e-mails and letters coming, telling us what you like – and dislike – about Waterways. After all, it’s your magazine. Enjoy the remainder of the summer out and about on our magical rivers and canals.

Keith Goss EDITOR

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 – Helen Elliott-Adams Operations & Information Systems Manager – David Forrester Campaign & Communications Manager – Jo Gilbertson G

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

COVER PICTURE Cruising on the River Thames at Clifton Hampden. ROBIN SMITHETT

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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E-mail your news and photos to

IWA at Work News from around the branches compiled by Jim Shead Waiting for the tide to launch.

Solent & Arun Branch Cruise


he section of the River Arun south of Pallingham is just as much part of “London’s Lost Route to the Sea” as the Wey & Arun Canal. The river is legally navigable as far as its tidal limit near Pallingham Farm Bridge, just north of the junction with the Arun Navigation. For many years IWA’s Solent & Arun Branch has organised an annual cruise to assert the right of navigation, although in recent years the number of boats participating has declined. This year the Wey & Arun Canal Trust promoted the event as part of its Small Boat Rally programme. The response was encouraging, with over 20 craft taking part in the event on 15th May. The most obvious place to launch a boat is from the slipway at Pulborough, next to historic Swan Bridge. To reduce congestion, smaller craft were asked to launch at Stopham, about a mile further upstream. Thick walls of reeds and fallen branches sometimes make passage difficult. Traditionally, the leading boats carry a selection of cutting tools to clear the channel, but this year they were not required. Beyond the site of Pallingham Lock conditions became quite challenging as the Arun becomes a fast flowing brook. At this point most boat crews resorted to person power to reach Pallingham Farm Bridge. The successful 2011 Arun Cruise was organised by IWA’s Brendan Whelan and John Taylor-Cram from the Wey & Arun Canal Trust.


Towing a boat with an overheated outboard.

Nearing the head of navigation and getting narrow!

| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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IWA at WORK WELCOME SIGNS OF CO-OPERATION Representatives of Stoke-on-Trent’s City’s Canal Partnership beside the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Volunteer Steve Wood of IWA Stoke-on-Trent branch has been working over the last year with Councillor Peter KentBaguley, to co-ordinate input from all the voluntary waterway groups and the council. Steve comments: “The City’s Canal Partnership has brought the organisations interested in Stokeon-Trent’s waterways even closer together, and is enabling effective ongoing communication and co-operation on all types of initiatives, from work parties to canal conservation area reviews and master planning for the future.” The latest result of this partnership is the welcome signs that have been installed marking where the Trent & Mersey and Caldon canals enter Stoke-on-Trent. The signs celebrate the rich waterway heritage of the Potteries with a striking 21st century design and incorporate a map for those on the towpath and a tourist information leaflet box – accessible to canal users via a British Waterways key. Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor, Denver Tolley, unveiled the first sign at Harecastle (other signs are located at Trentham and on the Caldon Canal at Norton Green) on 25th May. This was the penultimate engagement of his civic year as he retired the following day. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Denver’s wife Lynne, are themselves boaters and Denver, who has served Stoke-on-Trent continuously as a councillor for over 25 years, had vowed to celebrate the people of the city during his year in office. The occasion was an appropriate conclusion to their highly successful civic year which started with attending the 2010 Etruria Canals Festival and sparked the formation of the City Canals Partnership, bringing together Stoke-on-Trent’s voluntary canal societies, BW and the City Council. At the unveiling the Lord Mayor thanked the representatives from all the partners for their full and wholehearted support, adding “All the partners continue to be fully committed; the signs are the first tangible outcome of the partnership, which aims to improve Stoke-on-Trent’s waterways through monitoring development, advocating good design and promoting initiatives that enhance and celebrate the city’s canals.”

MILTON KEYNES MURAL The Wolverton Train Mural beside the Grand Union Canal looks splendid following the refurbishment completed in early April. It was originally created under the supervision of community artist Bill Billings in 1986 as part of the Milton Keynes Urban Aid Scheme (itself a spin-off from IWA’s National Rally the previous year) and covered up some objectionable graffiti. For a while it remained remarkably free from vandalism but over the years the mural has been restored by volunteers from IWA’s Milton Keynes Branch, who repainted weathered and vandalised sections and regularly cut back encroaching vegetation. In 2010 members of MK Branch convened a meeting at Wolverton Town Hall with representatives of the voluntary sector and members of the local community interested in the mural. There was strong support for the repainting project, and to fund a limited amount of work on the mural, IWA obtained a grant from the Milton Keynes Community Foundation. Help also came from Electrolux plc, the Milton Keynes Christian Foundation and Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council, who agreed to fund the majority of the costs of repainting the mural using Section 106 funds, so-called ‘planning gain money.’ BW loaned equipment to ensure that the work site was a safe environment to meet the necessary health and safety requirements. Three community artists, David Fenton (leader), Neil Keen and Ryan Billings (son of Bill Billings who created the mural in 1986), have repainted it with the support of the Thames Valley Probation Service which provided Community Payback offenders, volunteers from the local community and from MK Branch. RIGHT: Repainting the Wolverton Train Mural beside the Grand Union Canal. BELOW: A job well done!

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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IWA at WORK SHEFFIELD & TINSLEY CLEAN-UP No doubt that as long as waterways exists A haul of rubbish from the some people will feel Sheffield & Tinsley Branch. compelled to throw rubbish into them. This was the situation facing IWA’s South Yorkshire & the Dukeries Branch when they held their first clean up of the year on the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal along with members of the Abbeydale Rotary Club, Tinsley residents and British Waterways. The whole of the Tinsley flight and the canal up to Chippingham Street received attention. There was a varied assortment of rubbish including drinks cans, angling equipment, plastic bottles, car tyres etc. Adsetts Canal Project’s work boat Naburn was used to gather up the bags for transportation back to Tinsley Marina for disposal.

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FESTIVAL Over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend about 70 boats supported IWA’s National Campaign Festival at Becket’s Park, Northampton in the 250th anniversary year of the opening of the Nene Navigation. The event was organised by Northampton Branch led by Festival Chairman John Pomfret. The Festival had two main campaigning aims: to support greater use of Northampton’s riverside by encouraging the process of reconnecting the riverside with the town; and to raise money for waterway causes. Following the official opening of the Festival by Tim Coghlan of Braunston Marina, the public visiting Becket’s Park saw the attractions on offer, including society and trade stands, catering outlets, children’s activities, including Wild over Waterways, and entertainment ranging from the Limelight

Theatre School to belly dancers. St John Ambulance provided very popular boat trips, while the Sea Cadets did what they could to keep the river alive with activity, despite very strong winds throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, winds were too strong to run the usual boat handling event, although some racing between Sea Cadets in rowing boats and narrow boats was possible. A number of boaters rose to the Westbridge Arm challenge and, for the first time for some years, one boat managed to reach West Bridge. Various prizes and awards were presented at the festival, including the Duckham Trophy (a National Festivals award) for the best turned out boat, which went to Jules Cook on Towcester, a craft immaculate from stem to stern despite spending its life delivering coal. The Festival was a huge success financially, realising almost £3,000 to distribute to waterway causes. The main beneficiary will be IWA’s Inglesham Lock Appeal, while the Sea Cadets and St John will also receive donations. The proceeds of a raffle will go to support the local Air Ambulance whose ability to reach remote spots on our waterways, in particular parts of the Nene with no road access, helps to support IWA’s aims by making the waterways safer for boaters and towpath users alike.

NATIONAL TRAILBOAT FESTIVAL The Welsh Waterways Festival, incorporating IWA’s National Trailboat Festival, took place over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend at Resolven on the Neath Canal in South Wales. Despite mixed (at times very wet!) weather, the event was a success with a good turnout of both spectators and trailboats, including a sizeable contingent from the Wilderness Boat Owners Club. Many of the boating visitors took the opportunity to cruise sections of this most scenic canal. One of the highlights of the weekend was the illuminated boat show on the Sunday evening.

ABOVE: One of the many Wilderness craft at the National Trailboat Festival at Resolven.

ABOVE: John Pomfret, Tim Coghlan and Bernard Morton at the opening of IWA’s National Campaign Festival at Northampton. LEFT: Towcester – winner of the Duckham Trophy for best turned out boat.


RIGHT: A participant in the illuminated boat show. PHOTOS: Wilderness Boat Owners Club

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| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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a r E w e N e Th THE NATIONAL WATERWAYS CHARITY ays” for the Waterw ra E w e N “A t n docume or body. s consultation to a third sect it in d ys e a ch n rw u te la a re s W Defra ha implications a nsform British e a th tr t a to h s w se d o n p posals a 8. on how it pro nge since 194 look at the pro a d e ch il st ta e e g d ig a b e e tially th Here we tak what is poten in ys a rw te a w for the

IWA respon

10 NWC.indd 1

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The New NWC Era


Key Strategic wo centuries issues ago, private enterprise


of thousands of IWA has beenfunded calling the for acreation third sector model to miles of canals navigations run Britain’s waterways sinceand theriver middle of the to service thedoubt world’sthat firstthis Industrial last century. We are in no is the Revolution. the twentiethof Britain’s right way forward for theInmanagement centurywaterways. the Government stepped in to take these inland waterways andsupport with thethe tireless campaigning It followsover, that we principles of the by IWA and others over the pastresponsibility 65 years, have Government’s proposals for the for overseen theirof transformation from neglected the operation the British Waterways (BW) inland industrial relics into to thetransfer bustlingtorecreational waterways network a third sector body we know today. –waterways the New Waterways Charity (NWC). However, right Thethe waterways network has become a haven from outset IWA has consistently expressed for people and wildlife, a valuable open-space serious reservations about key aspects of the for local communities and traffic-free ‘green’ routes for proposals. These are that: boaters, walkers,package joggers must and cyclists. In 2009, I The funding be sufficient to over 340 million were made to the anin ensure that visits a sustainable charity canwaterways; be delivered increase 80 million compared with the previous the long of term. year. The Government believes that millions more I The governance arrangements must encourage can enjoy our canals and rivers, if wewith can localism liberate community engagement consistent their potential to provideofmultiple benefits, andtoget so that local ‘ownership’ waterways can lead all sections of our society actively involved in their tangible benefi ts for the waterways. future and I Withprotection the decision todevelopment. phase the integration of the Public ownership, however, limits by the2015/16, network’s Environment Agency (EA) navigations the ability to adapt andtoinnovate. new model transfer. of Government needs plan nowAfor an orderly ownership mighttobe to unlock the full potential We will want seeable a satisfactory arrangement of the waterways; one of that enable cruising it to concerning the future thewould commercial, broaden and strengthen funding and and remainder waterwaysitsthat meetsbase, the charitable increase the roleNWC of local helpingand to purposes of the in acommunities manner thatinsustains decide how their local canal or river is run. enhances existing usage.

What’s The Funding Planned? Package OPPOSITE PAGE: Over 340 million visits were made to the waterways in 2009. This is Foxton on the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal, a popular location with all manner of visitors. BELOW: British Waterways cares for 2,500 km of canals, including the GU’s Leicester Section seen here at Watford Locks.

Narrowboats passing the Houses of Parliament where much lobbying remains to be done. Robin Smithett

IWA Government The believes that the proposes fundingtopackage place those on offer is waterways to insufficient in enable Englandthe and waterways Wales which to beare maintained currently owned in a manner by the consistent state in with trustNWC for the aims, nation taking through risks the establishment that are simply too of great a civil for society a successful organisation, launch of athe New Waterways NWC and for it toCharity have a (NWC). financially viable future allowingCurrently, it to fully the meet Secretary its charitable of State objectives. for Environment, Food Defra’s and Rural Arm’sAffairs Length is responsible Body funding for announceover 4,000 km of the in ment inland December waterway 2010 network was aofcut England for BWand grant Wales. The year this two largest to £41.5m navigation compared authorities to £48m managing in 2010/11 this –network a reduction on behalf of 13.5%; of the Secretary thereafterofthe State contract are: to let to the charitya ispublic to a value of £39mwhich per I be British Waterways, corporation, annum nominal (no inflation the concares forin2,500 kmterms of canals, 500 km so of river tract falls in real terms over time) – a reduction of navigations, 15 km of docks and many thousands nearly 19%. locks, bridges, embankments and of associated IWA’s bestand estimates based upon published inforaqueducts; mation are that BW has been allocating in the region I The Environment Agency, a non-departmental of £150m perprimarily annum for direct expenditure on the public body, concerned with flooding, waterways in England and Wales. However pollution and rivers, which cares for 1,000 in km2008 of amainly KPMGriver report commissioned by BW concluded that navigation. BWGovernment was operating with funding deficitofofBritish circa plans fora the transition £30m per annum to society achieve are ‘steady state’ (meaning Waterways into civil already wellin all round and goodmore condition with than maintenance developed advanced those forconthe ducted promptly) for its network. So the company Environment Agency navigations. The Government should be proposes spending aabout £180m per annum. therefore two-phased transfer into In commercial BW receives about £35m NWC with British income Waterways’ operations moving from andthe about £61m from other revenue first inproperty 2012, and Environment Agency’s river sources at present moorings, navigations moving(utilities, after theboat nextlicences, Spending Review marinas so intototal about £96m. Together with in 2015, etc) subject affordability and the agreement aof£39m government the NWC’s Trusteescontract in 2014.for the NWC this is

about per annum short of what the charity The £15m Government believes that the move to needs to continue withthe a similar budget available civil society will secure long-term financial to BW now, and about £45m short of achieving sustainability of the waterways. It plans to transfer ‘steady state’. all of British Waterways’ property assets to the The company’s own projections that under charity, as an endowment, and to are commit to a the currentfunding financialcontract. scenario The its spend onwill major long-term charity also worksnew will have to go down £22.6m last from year have opportunities for from growing income to £15.5mgiving, this year and to £10.2mopportunities, in the first year voluntary new commercial of the charity. The implications are that whereas BW efficiencies, and growth in volunteering. had planned to reduce the percentage of itsthe assets in The proposal also hopes to demonstrate poor or very poor condition to the percentage Government’s commitment to10% ensuring waterways is now and up to 20% and rising. that Evenlive withalongside assumptions users, the communities about new resources which appear to in behow highly them, are given greater involvement optimistic –are for managed. example within the decadeand from waterways It aims tofirst empower a starting point zero a to risebring to £13m donations encourage moreofpeople theirinexpertise and – on thetocentral assumptions the assets in poor or passion the organisation. very poor condition document could be assets highout as 26% at the The consultation a possible end of the first 10 years of the governance model for the newNWC. charity, which aims Government needs toof make an in depth to The reflect the great diversity waterways users, studybalance of the finance to allowoutlook the NWC and the needrequired for a national withtoa operate its waterways network in a properly mainlocal focus: tained Once thatadvise, is completed, there are I Localcondition. Partnerships would assist and many options that Government could pursue to critically support local management. They would achieve a package alleviate financing difficulties. help to develop theto local strategy, build partnerships Elements it could incorporate into a sustainable and alliances, and raise funds for local projects. funding package to:needs of local people They would ensureinclude that the I Meet the past pension liabilities BW so are reflected in theservice decision-making process,ofand that the charity a clean sheet on pension encourage local starts peoplewith to take more responsibility liability. for the future prosperity of their waterways. a transition to cover theto I Provide The Council would fund have both a responsibility increasedguidance costs needed a successful launch of provide to theforTrustees on their overall the charity andinthe performance fulfilling thepromoting NWC’s ‘charitable costs of broad based purposes’. It would also have the including power tofinance local ownership of our waterways, appoint dismiss Trustees. It is envisaged to pumpor prime locally determined projects. that theIndex Council havefunding. between 35 and 50 I the would indicative members, drawn from the different I Provide certainty of funding beyondcommunities 10 years. thatFind usefunding or benefit from theofwaterways, including I for the cost bridge repairs which boaters, walkers, anglers, have risencanoeists, exponentially for BW given cyclists, the nature heritage, environmental community groups, and axle weight of today’sand commercial traffic, as well asthe chairs of Local Partnerships. including option of transferring responsibility for maintenance I A small Board of road of Trustees, bridgesappointed to the relevant by thelocal highway Council, would authorities. have ultimate responsibility for Howeverthe Government might to give everything charity does and choose for making sure that the organisation charity a better start sotothat this flitsagship works well deliver purpose. Big The Government to makeofthese changes Society project has aseeks real chance success from through thethe Public currently being the outset, costBodies wouldBill only be the equivalent considered Parliament. Subject to the of 180-550 by metres of the high speed rail passage Londonof the Bill andproject parliamentary approval the Birmingham (HS2). About 180 of metres subsequent NWC is expected take equals what Order, BW hasthe been spending. 550 to metres over inbring April 2012. would the network up to a good fully maintained standard. TheConsultation Government has indicated that if despite The best endeavours,seeks the NWC ndshow, itselfin in financial The consultation views fion future, the diffi culties, it will in return the and waterways to public inland waterways England Wales that are ownership, or makeonanother arrangement, currently managed behalf of the Secretarytoof State ensure the protection of the waterways. comfor Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, willThis be run. mitment notrationale included the consultation. A clear It sets outisthe forinmoving these waterways declaration of intent from is required out of the public sector andGovernment into a new civil society to reassure waterways stakeholders the the organisation, and the principles whichabout will guide future of theinwaterways. Government deciding on the way forward.

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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The consultation document invites views on the key Governance elements of the Government’s including: The consultation concludes thatproposals, the charity should I What youfair think about the charitable purposes begin lifedo with representation and that any deciof the charity? sion onnew whether or not to become a membership I Do you agree with proposed governance organisation should bethe a matter for the charity to model forinthe charity – and what consider duenew course. improvements you suggest? IWA is awarecould that some believe that the charI should How could people be helped toorganisation. become more ity begin as a membership involved and take more responsibility for their local Membership: waterways? I Can be a way of raising funds; TheCan Government expects to representation publish its response to I ensure broad based without this sense consultation this autumn. the of exclusivity which ‘fair representation’ might convey; and I Need not suffer undue influence by a vocifThe Vision for from the Future erous minority (e.g. model similar that adopted The waterways todaya are enjoyed bytomillions of by the Woodlands Trustwhile would solve this issue). people every year and, their original function IWA recognises that there counas However, a freight network has diminished, theyare have been ter favour ‘fair representation’. put arguments to new usesinthat theirofbuilders could never have imagined. TheBW’s waterways been transformed Additionally, currenthave consumer research from derelict intoathriving corridors for suggests thatbackwaters the NWC has better prospect wildlife, people and businesses. Where they once of income generation from a monthly donation carried rather coal and timber now carry holiday model than fromthey subscriptions for an boaters;membership. towpaths now provide recreation for annual walkers and cyclists. Where theytrustees were sometimes IWA believes that the interim should toxic, lifelesstochannels, they are nowis precious be allowed decide which model right for the habitats forcriteria some of our rarest animals and plants. NWC. The should include that which: AndIs where canalstowere hidden I best suited allowonce the locked NWC toand efficiently away out behind high walls, they are now open for carry its functions. everyone, revival ofculture our I Is most and likelyantoemblem result infor thethe necessary towns and cities. change within BW, recognising the values and ethos over of people regard the waterways of Today, the new and90% different organisation. as an important national assetnational delivering a range I Is most likely to generate interest. of social, economic and environmental benefits. I Has the best prospects for the generation of (British Waterways market research – Inland income. Waterway Visitor Survey 2010). The Government believes that millions more can Local Partnerships enjoy our canals andPartnership rivers, if weareas can liberate Some of the Local may betheir simpotential to provide a full range benefits,Where and get all ply too large to be practical or of effective. sections societyboth actively involved their protection areas areofdiverse in terms of in community If we achieve this, the rewards are and development. waterscape the NWC will need to consider clear: from the provision and care essential whether it will be appropriate to of have more natural than and green infrastructure, to strengthened aresources single Partnership. It will also need to address ecological networks; from increasing health, well-being how Partnerships can develop to reflect natural and recreation, flourishing waterways tourism; local affiliationstoand the areas that these evolving from sustainable transport Partnerships should cover.and renewable energy to increased leisure access opportunities for local It would boostand enthusiasm for and engagement communities and greaterifsocial with Local Partnerships they cohesion. were able to deterThe expenditure Governmentpriorities believes for thatboth: a charity will be mine better placed than a public body to liberate such I A significant proportion of locally raised funds; benefits and promote the waterways network and across all sections ofelement the community: I A discretionary of fundingreaching allocated by out to young from people, finding new funds, constituencies Partnerships central charity to suppleof interest, and generating the sort nationally of widespread ment mandatory funding to meet deterand deep commitment that will guarantee the mined standards for waterways. waterways’ future prosperity. In order to ensure this thriving and sustainable Environment Agency Navigations future for our waterways, long-term and The Government has stated that it thinking is committed solutions to of current are by needed. to transfer the EAchallenges navigations 2015/16, The first for and the waterways todayofis the subject to challenge affordability the agreement that ofTrustees. community engagement. Over half of the NWC

12 NWC.indd 3

waterways in England Wales for by We believe that the and charity willare notcared be operating theitspublic body, British reporting to full potential until Waterways, that integration takes to place. Defra. British Waterways actively The fullWhile advantages to be gained when engages the EA naviwith stakeholders nationally gations are incorporated are:and locally, and provides leadership through I A stronger focus for on the sector core mission of its these membership Association Inland Navigation waterways in of thethe best interests of the community, Authorities, its current governance structure is not with improved scope for a genuinely new body designedcross to encourage wider community ownership through fertilisation. andAengagement. Government therefore I simplification The of the management of the sees an opportunity to make changesand thatthe would waterways to the benefit of business public. encourage moreability involvement, and at respond the samequicktime I An improved to gauge and inspire a feelingcustomer of greater responsibility on the part ly to changing needs. of local users. I Better value through the economies of scale to is also a needthe to bring more beThere achieved through creation of funding a single to organithe waterways in order to sustain lastfor decades’ sation, and a co-ordinated systemthe with, examachievements, and to achieve even more. As our ple, a single navigation licence. canals and river for navigations age, they over become I More scope the development timeever more costly toidentity, maintain. Waterways manages of a national likeBritish the National Trust, The the third Parks, largestand collection of listed structures in National the national museums; increasthe usage, country:volunteering heritage which intensive ing andrequires charitable donations. management anditsignificant funding. At the same IWA considers vital that the process of proper time the network is under increasing pressure preparation and implementation planning, includfroma other factors increase costs, including: ing funding line, that should be underway immeextremesThe in weather patterns such as drought diately. 2014 review of the charity and the and floods; the incursion of invasive andno next Government Spending Review species; should be the wear tear that with greater public more thanand exercises tocomes confirm that the arrangeusage. ments arenumerous on track and there should ABOVE: for BWtransfer manages ancient structures throughout British Waterways has been raising its ownto quesbe no issues to cause the NWC Trustees the system, including the commercial income for some time now, and its tion the absorption of the EA navigations. Anderton Boat Lift linking the Government grantCanal in England and Wales now Trent & Mersey with the River Weaver. accounts for lessClassifi than half of its actual expenditure Waterways cation on maintaining waterways. However,must the review IWA considers its that the Government constraints of working within old waterboth the classification of thea 50-year ‘commercial’ governance structure limit the potential for ways and the ‘remainder’ waterways. generating significant further sources of incomeshould for the IWA believes that commercial waterways waterways. Government committed to reducing be retainedThe where there areis reasonable prospects public expenditurewaterway to focus public sectoreconomically activity only of a commercial becoming on what must be donesustainable. in the publicThis sector and cannot and environmentally would protect be done elsewhere. It iscurrently clear thatusing publiccommercial funding alone the business of firms is not the answer. waterways for freight, and allow these waterways May 2009 British revived a debate to In remain available forWaterways expanded commercial trade which began almost half a century ago,the about as industry and Government recognise green taking its waterways of the Once publicasector; this credentials of freightout by water. waterway idea has gained widespread stakeholder and crossbecomes unsuitable for larger commercial traffic it party support. is unlikely to be brought back into serious commerdocument sets out the cialThe useconsultation in the future. Government’s how, by empowering IWA believesvision that afor structured Working Group waterways users local communities to have should be set up and to review the existing classifi cation greater involvement in how they are run, our of commercial waterways and advise the Secretary waterways funded, protected andproposals further of State oncan the be issues and options when invigorated future. a commercial waterway; are receivedintothe reclassify and that where additional funding is required to maintain waterways for commercial traffic, Navigations in England and Wales this should be funded from the km Department for There are approximately 5,000 (3,000 miles) Transport’s budget as a transport of fully navigable inland waterwaysissue. in England and Wales, about 450 km of which are tidal. I British Waterways is responsible for about 3,000 km, Remainder Waterways of which about three are canals. Many waterways whichquarters have remainder status are I The Environment Agency manages almost 1,000 actually navigable. An example is the Kennet & km, most Canal of which are has navigable rivers. for many Avon which been navigable

The River Thames – seen here at Marlow is one of numerous the waterways ABOVE: BW–manages under structures the controlthroughout of the ancient Robin Smithett Environment Agency. the system, including the Anderton Boat Lift linking the Trent & Mersey Canal with the River Weaver.

ABOVE: The Fenland rivers are also EAadministered. This is the Old West at Stretham. Robin Smithett

| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

21/7/11 1:18:20 pm

The New NWC Era

The consultation is available for inspection at consult/2011/03/30/ waterways-1103/ It is open until 30th June 2011.

BELOW: The River Thames (seen here at Abingdon) is currently managed by the Environment Agency. PHOTOS BY ROBIN SMITHETT

years I Thebut Broads whichAuthority has only controls recently abeen 200 reclassified km riverlake‘cruiseway’ to system. status. A remarkably large number I waterways of The Middlecurrently Level Commissioners classified asmanage remainder 200are km, most of maintained actually which have to a dual cruiseway function status, as drainage as justified channels by the level andofnavigations. use. IIWA The believes remainder that arethe managed Government by a wide should range review of other all the ‘remainder bodies, including waterways’, local in authorities, consultation portwith authorities andsocharitable stakeholders, that those trusts. remainder waterways that are used for navigation now are recognised by Government a reclassification to ‘cruiseway’ Scope of theby Proposal status before the NWC vesting day. This woulda The Government is committed to delivering provide appropriate statutory protections, “nationalthe trust for the waterways” that includes such as protection fromand adverse bridge or water the British Waterways the Environment supply Agencydecisions. navigations. To give the charity the best possible start in the current tight fiscal climate, it wishes to take a phased approach to delivery of this vision: with British Waterways’ canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs in England and Wales transferred into the new civil society body, as soon as parliamentary authority is gained, and the inclusion of the EA navigations into the new waterways charity, after the next Spending Review in 2015, subject to affordability and the agreement of the NWC Trustees. This phased approach reflects the fact that Government plans for the transition of British Waterways into civil society are already well developed and more advanced than its plans for the Environment Agency navigations. Unlike the British ABOVE: Inland waterways Waterways represent a vital resource navigations, for wildlife. where LEFT: The River Trent a dowry of remains an important commercial commercial waterway. property investments can be transferred into the charity to provide additional income to

The Kennet & Avon Canal was recently granted ‘cruiseway’ status.

WHAT IWA THINKS IS manage the long term liabilities associated with the canal network, the EA navigations MISSING FROM THE are currently dependent solely on an annual CONSULTATION public grant. The Government intends to find the additional Policy funding by for these liabilities, Waterways Public Authorities fromDefra the next Spending Review, if affordable, The consultation does not contain proposals andthe subject of thewaterways NWC for wholetoofthe theagreement navigable inland Trustees. advised by in EnglandThis and decision Wales. It would focusesbeprincipally on athe Government review the charity’s and BW waterways, whichofrepresent aboutprogress 60% of the achievements, transferring network (3,000 and km),the andoptions sets outfor conditional plans thethe EA EA navigations, 2014, i.e. to twothe years for waterwaysintransferring NWCafter in the charity’s creation. represent a further 20% of 2015/16. Its waterways the network (1,000 km). The consultation contains no proposals for the Scotland remaining 20%specifically of the network, other that they This proposal excludes thethan canals might choose to merge or partner with the currently managed by British Waterways in NWC at some timeInland in thewaterways future. Scotland. policy and sponsorship believes the following to in IWA Scotland are that devolved matters issues and soapply British the inland waterways a whole that Waterways’ activities network there areasunder theand oversight the policy could help that entire netand correct ultimatepublic control of the Scottish Executive. work to flourish. The Scottish Executive has decided that its canals, and British Waterways Scotland, will remain in the public sector. Planning The proposed charitable purposes for the NWC includes Navigations the restoration of waterways. That purpose Other is essential to theother NWC. But the shortcomings There are many smaller navigations not of the planning systembyare a barrier to The the NWC being currently managed Government. charity will able toup pursue thisa purpose besttime, effect. be set in such way thatto over it may agree planning system is unduly restrictive in to The partner or merge with these other navigations if encouraging they so wish. the protection of the line of disused waterways when there a reasonable degree As part ofonly its transition to iscivil society, British of certainty isofalso a restoration Waterways discussingproject optionsproceeding for closer in whole or in part within the development collaboration with The Waterways Trust. plan period. Such lines should also be protected when there is clear potential for restoration What Does IWA Think? outside the time span of the development plan period. IWA has advocated that the right way forward for Derelict waterways are waterways linear entities which often Britain’s navigable inland is probably cross planning It’s nobody, good for them to be authority managedboundaries. by a third sector for planning authority to protect a partonofhow a andone is pleased that the detailed proposals proposed restoration, work has Government intends toperhaps changebecause British Waterways started or iscivil about to start, another then failsfor into a new society bodyif are now available to protect the route because no work is planned detailed review and consideration. in IWA its area thetime foreseeable future. willfor take to consider theRestoration detail of schemes take severalisdecades to achieve how this may transformation to be achieved with their crossing authorities planning greataims care,and butroutes will aim to share its preliminary boundaries are members vulnerableand to disparate attitudes. thoughts with other stakeholders This is not aastheoretical as quickly possible. problem - often the most difficult bit maintained is left until last and this bit can IWA has all along thatdifficult the funding be that most vulnerable to further encroachment. package needs to be viable, the governance needs Government change guidto The be right, and thatshould the new body planning should also ance planning system, appropriate, so inheritand thethe Environment Agencyasnavigations. that planning authorities protect the that lines the of all IWA is therefore, especially pleased disused waterways that have prospects Government in launching this realistic consultation has of being broughtthat backit into use. now signalled shares the Association’s views. Specifically: The commitment in principle to inclusion of the Environment Agency navigations The Natural Environment in 2015; the stated aim thatthe this move to civil The consultation recognises value of the natural society must to create a sustainable the environment wildlife and how themodel open for space future of by thethe inland waterways; andcan thecontribute emphasis provided waterways corridor on much governance arrangements that far involve local so to quality of life. However, greater rec-

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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ognition The consultation has beendocument given to theinvites environment views onbythe thekey elements of the Government outside Government’s the confinesproposals, of this consultation. including: IInWhat Aprildo Defra youannounced think aboutathe £110m charitable scheme purposes to of the new improve wildlife charity? on rivers with the prospect of kick I Do you starting restoration agree with worth the at proposed least £600 governance million to model forthe improve thehealth new charity of more– than and what 880 lakes, streams improvements and other watercould bodies you– suggest? £92 million to remove I How could non-native invasive people weeds be helped and animals, to become clearmore up polinvolved lution, and and remove take more redundant responsibility dams, weirs, for their landings local waterways? and other man-made structures so that wildlife can The Government thrive in water catchments; expects to £18m publishtoitshelp response to farmto this with ers consultation measuresthis to autumn. prevent agricultural pollution. This is a substantial programme. More recently, in the early Future June Defra announced The Vision for the of a today UK NEAare (National The results waterways enjoyedEcosystem by millions of Assessment) which provides the truefunction value of people everystudy year and, while their original nature, strengthening thediminished, argumentsthey for protecting as a freight network has have been and enhancing environment. report shows put to new usesthe that their buildersThe could never have that there The are real economic reasons for looking imagined. waterways have been transformed after places a value on the benefi ts. Defra from nature derelictand backwaters into thriving corridors for has said people that theand findings “have Where played they a bigonce part wildlife, businesses. in shaping Environment carried coalour andforthcoming timber theyNatural now carry holiday White Paper that will help us revitalise our for towns boaters; towpaths now provide recreation and countryside”. walkers and cyclists. Where they were sometimes Thelifeless inland waterways haveare much offer to this toxic, channels, they nowtoprecious Government programme but areanimals under resourced habitats for some of our rarest and provide the canals investment to ensure that they And where were required once locked and hidden can their high full part. of thefor White awayplay behind walls,Implementation they are now open Paper needs toan target how the inland waterways everyone, and emblem for the revival of our can contribute provide the appropriate resourcing. towns and and cities. Today, over 90% of people regard the waterways as an important national asset delivering a range Regeneration of social, economic and environmental benefits. The proposed charitable purposes include (British Waterways market research – Inland regeneration of waterways and the adjoining Waterway Visitor Survey 2010). land corridors. The Government believes more can It is right that both urbanthat andmillions rural regeneration enjoy our canals and in rivers, we can liberate should figure highly the ifaims of the NWC.their There potential provide a full range of shows benefits, and get all is a strongtobody of evidence that how sections of society involved in their protection restored canals areactively a catalyst for regeneration in and down development. If weand achieve this, thecomponent rewards are run urban areas an essential clear: from the provision and care of essential natural of those redeveloped areas. Outstanding success resources and green infrastructure, to strengthened is in evidence in places such as Birmingham, ecological networks; from health, well-being Manchester, Sheffield andincreasing Gloucester. In these cities and recreation, flourishing waterwaysare tourism; well maintainedtoand used waterways a focus for from sustainable transport and renewable energyshops, to waterside housing, commercial development, increased leisure and access opportunities for local public houses and restaurants etc. Depending on communities and greater the circumstances, every social £1 of cohesion. taxpayer money The Government believes that aa return charityofwill be pumped into waterways delivers better placed than a public body to liberate such between £6 and £15 in public benefi t. benefits and promote the waterways network Some Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) across alljust sections of therevitalised community: reaching realised how much waterways out to young people, findingprosperity. new constituencies can contribute to economic The East of interest, and generating the sort of widespread Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) is an and deepofcommitment will guarantee the example an RDA that that decided to help to deliver future prosperity. awaterways’ vision for waterways in its area. It established In order toRegeneration ensure this thriving andthe sustainable a Waterways Fund with aim of future for our long-term thinking and improving the waterways, environment by bringing forward solutions tovacant current challenges are needed. previously and underused sites, as well as The first challenge for would the waterways today is supporting projects that boost employment that stimulate of community engagement. Over halfmarkets. of the and commercial and residential

14 NWC.indd 5

waterways in England and Wales are cared for by the public body, British Waterways, reporting to Defra. While British Waterways actively engages with stakeholders nationally and locally, and provides leadership for the sector through its membership of the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities, its current governance structure is not designed to encourage wider community ownership and engagement. The Government therefore sees an opportunity to make changes that would encourage more involvement, and at the same time inspire a feeling of greater responsibility on the part of local users. There is also a need to bring more funding to the waterways in order to sustain the last decades’ achievements, and to achieve even more. As our canals and river navigations age, they become ever more costly to maintain. British Waterways manages the third largest collection of listed structures in the country: heritage which requires intensive management and significant funding. At the same time under increasing pressure from Butthe notnetwork all RDAsisfully grasped the opportunities otherwaterways factors that increase costs, including: extremes that offer to improve the environment in weather patterns such as drought and floods; the and economic prosperity. incursion of invasivePartnerships species; and(LEPs) the wear and tear Local Enterprise will come that being comesinwith greater the RDAs. into 2012 as thepublic successors Waterways raising its ownof the It isBritish important that has theybeen should be aware commercial income for that somecan time and itsby regeneration benefits benow, conveyed Government grant and in England and Wales now inland waterways Local Waterways Partnerships accounts for less than half ofthemselves its actual expenditure should consider affiliating to LEPs so on that maintaining its waterways. However, constraints they can provide direct input to LEPthe policies. It is of working within a 50-year old governance important for central Government to playstructure its part in limit the potential for generating further highlighting the benefits to LEPssignificant and in recognising sources income for the waterways. The cannot Government bids for of such investment. Regeneration be is committed reducing public in expenditure stimulated bytothe NWC acting isolation. to focus public activity only what must be done the IWAsector is concerned that on in discussions with theinLGA publicthe sector and cannot done elsewhere. It is clear over proposals in thebe consultation, LGA indicated funding aloneinis substantive not the answer. that public they had not been discussions In BW Mayor 2009 Waterways revived a might debate with DefraBritish over how local authorities be which began half a century ago,Eraabout involved in thealmost implementation of New initiatives. taking waterways of thetrustees public sector; this IWA its urges the NWCout interim to ensure idea the has charity gained enter widespread stakeholder and that into discussions with thecrossLGA party support. to ensure that all opportunities for influencing and The consultation sets out fully integrating localdocument authorities into thethe necessary Government’s for how, by empowering support of the vision NWC are realised. waterways users and local communities to have greater involvement in how they are run, our Small Navigation Authorities waterways can be already funded,managed protectedbyand further Other navigations charitable invigorated in such the future. organisations as Avon Navigation Trust and Essex Waterways Ltd might be interested in voluntarily transferringintoEngland NWC alongand with Wales the EA navigaNavigations tions due course. Thereinare approximately 5,000 km (3,000 miles) should beinland able towaterways adopt andincare for addiof NWC fully navigable England and tional those Wales,waterways, about 450 especially km of which arethat tidal.connect to NWC’s waterways, waterways are 3,000 restored I British Waterwaysasis these responsible for about km, to suitable condition. But we accept that there will of which about three quarters are canals. need be an appropriate mechanism in place I ThetoEnvironment Agency manages almost 1,000 km, to ensure that adequate maintenance funding is most of which are navigable rivers. in and that the existing network be Iplace The Broads Authority controls a 200will kmnot riverrobbed of resources to facilitate this upgrading lake system.

ABOVE: BW manages numerous ancient structures throughout the system, including the Anderton Boat Lift linking the ABOVE: The River Avon is currently run by the Avon Navigation Trust. BELOW: The waterways of central Birmingham are a classic example of waterway-inspired inner city regeneration.

Trent & Mersey Canal with the River Weaver.

Dredging work underway on the Stratford Canal.

| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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The New NWC Era  The Middle Level Commissioners manage 200 km, LEFT: The Chelmer & most of which have a Blackwater Navigation dual function as drainage is controlled by IWA channels and navigations. subsidiary company Essex Waterways Ltd.  The remainder are managed by a wide range of other bodies, including local authorities, port authorities and charitable BELOW: Fradley Junction is one of the ‘honeypot’ trusts. locations where extra

Scope of the Proposal

The consultation is available for inspection at consult/2011/03/30/ waterways-1103/ It is open until 30th June 2011.

BELOW: The River Thames (seen here at Abingdon) is currently managed by the Environment Agency. PHOTOS BY ROBIN SMITHETT

revenue could be generated for the waterways. Waterway Images

The Government is committed to delivering a “national trust for the waterways” that includes the British Waterways and the Environment Agency navigations. To give the charity the best possible start in the current tight fiscal climate, it wishes to take a phased approach to delivery of this vision: with British Waterways’ canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs in England and Wales transferred into the new civil society body, as soon as parliamentary authority is gained, and the inclusion of the EA navigations into the new waterways charity, after the next Spending Review in 2015, subject to affordability and the agreement of the NWC Trustees. This phased approach reflects the fact that Government plans for the transition of British Waterways into civil society are already well developed and more advanced than its plans for the any Environment Agency navigations. Unlike before such transfer is made. This includes the British Waterways navigations, canals already within BW’s ownershipwhere whichaare dowryrestored of commercial propertyCanal, investments being (e.g. Grantham Montgomery can bePocklington transferredCanal, into the charity Arm to provide Canal, Wendover of the additional income to manage the long term GU, Swansea Canal (part BW owned), Lancaster liabilities Reaches associated with canal Manchester network, the Northern (part BWthe owned), EA navigations are BW currently dependent on Bolton & Bury (part owned), Hathertonsolely Branch an the annual public grant. The(part Government intends of Staffs & Worcs Canal BW owned)), and to findthat the are additional funding for these liabilities, others under extensive restoration but not from next Spending Review, if affordable, in BWthe ownership such as the Cotswold Canals and and Chesterfi subject eld. to the agreement of the NWC the Trustees. This decision would be advised by a Government review of the charity’s progress and Trade/Commerce achievements, options for transferring The leisure and and smallthe commercial marine industry the EA navigations, in trade 2014,and i.e.directly two years after is worth £3.1 billion in employs the charity’s about 34,300creation. people. Marinas are estimated to deliver trade about seven times the direct income from berths (£55.9 Scotland million), supporting a further ten jobs and This proposal specifically excludes theover canals above those employed directlyWaterways in the marina currently managed by British in business. ThereInland are also many hundreds of marine busiScotland. waterways policy and sponsorship nesses on the waterways – boatyards, boat in Scotland areinland devolved matters and so British sales, chandlery, etc. there are under the oversight Waterways’ activities Revenue from tourism is estimated to be up to and ultimate control of the Scottish Executive. £1 andExecutive that would higher that whenitstaking Thebillion, Scottish hasfar decided canals, into account all non-boating visitswill which is estimatand British Waterways Scotland, remain in the ed to be about 500 million per year. The value of public sector.

the waterways is therefore far greater than the 13 million visitors per year that visit the canal towpath, Other Navigations contributing to maintaining entire social communiThere are many other smaller navigations not ties especially in rural currently managed bylocations. Government. The charity will the income oftime, BW for IWACs beWhen set upexamining in such a way that over it may agree 2009 Report, Insightswith intothese the Funding of the Inland to partner or merge other navigations if Waterways of Great Britain, IWAC indicated that it they so wish. was find that to thecivil retail income of BW Assurprised part of itstotransition society, British was so low. isWe surmise, as IWAC does, this Waterways also discussing options forthat closer might be because BW has sought to concentrate collaboration with The Waterways Trust. primarily on developing its property portfolio. The need toDoes realise IWA more revenue for the NWC should What Think? force a major rethinkthat of strategy. IWA has advocated the right way forward for With over 13 million each year to their Britain’s navigable inlandvisitors waterways is probably estate, there must be signifi opportunities to for them to be managed bycant a third sector body, exploit retail opportunities with these visitors and is pleased that the detailed proposals on even how ifGovernment it’s as simple as ice-cream andBritish soft drinks sold at intends to change Waterways honey pot sites mannedbody by volunteers. We wonder into a new civil society are now available for also if there are and opportunities to raise additional detailed review consideration. revenue from holiday lettings fromthe redundant IWA will take time to consider detail of canalside properties, as successfully realised with by the how this transformation is to be achieved Landmark Trust,itsrather than by great care,Trust but and will National aim to share preliminary disposing these at auction exploitation by thoughts of with members andfor other stakeholders third parties, retaining the capital inside the as quickly as thus possible. NWC IWAestate. has maintained all along that the funding package needs to be viable, the governance needs to be right, and that the new body should also Drainage inherit the waterways Environment Agencyacts navigations. The inland network as a land drain IWA is therefore, pleased that the by and buffer against flespecially ood risk. But it isn’t funded Government thisbenefi consultation hasthe the highwaysinorlaunching agricultural ciaries for now signalled that itdespite shares the the fact Association’s views. service it provides, that the network Specifically: commitment to suffers from The siltation as a resultinofprinciple accommodating inclusionfrom of the Environment Agency run-off these sources, which hasnavigations to eventually in 2015; the by stated aim that this move to civil be removed dredging. society must create a sustainable model forfor the Proper accommodation and recognition the future thedrainage inland waterways; and the emphasis role of of land needs to be accounted for in on governance that involve local the governmentarrangements funding settlement. stakeholders in decision making for their waterways. The Agenda for IWA, is to now consider how Dredging theseactual aims costs can best be translated into akey successful The necessary to maintain aspects civilthe society bodyfor which can flourish in the future. of network, example the parlous state of Key aspects consultation Association dredging of of thethe network are notthat fullythe accounted for willany be BW looking therefore, will be costings. how: in funding or operation According  BW, the indicative funding stacks up inrequest delivering to via a freedom of information by a sustainable charity.requires -Currently, IWA to firmly believes IWA, BW currently 291km be dredged that the proposed Government fundingcondition, package is to maintain the network in a navigable inadequate, the additional benefits being this at a costdespite of between £80,000 to £200,000 in a km charity would confer, and that at present per for unpolluted spoil, and £500,000 to this would leadper to km a significant decline the quality £800,000 for polluted spoil.inWhen asked of the system. We will be pressuring both the by us, on the basis of these funding requireGovernment and theit interim to ensure ments, what would actuallytrustees cost to carry out that a better settlement is that it didn’t know this dredging, BW informed  the governance proposals can best the actual cost. It could only inform us achieve of what is community consistent localism being done engagement at present which is of thewith order of £5m and year so that local ‘ownership’ waterways per expenditure. The BWofcomment tocan us was leadto tangible benefits for the waterways. “We would not like to guess as the variation is so  the Government planning £23mto ensure great”... (Somewhereis between andthat £245m). theThe Environment Agency cancost transfer interim trustees arenavigations urged to fully the smoothly risk in 2015/16.’ dredging and ensure that it is properly covered in Whilst their funding negotiations Government. there are proposals with and options for freight

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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21/7/11 1:20:23 pm

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| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

20/7/11 11:55:10



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IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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17 20/7/11 12:00:12

? d n e k wee

Fancy a dirty London WRG in action on the Hereford & Gloucester Canal.

Somewhere, every weekend throughout the year, there will be a dirty weekender helping restore the waterways of Britain…


lot of voluntary work has to be done at the weekend, and The Inland Waterways Association’s Waterway Recovery Group has seven regional groups that run weekend work parties restoring the derelict waterways of England and Wales. This ensures that almost every weekend there will be volunteers at work somewhere in the country restoring the waterways. Despite being ‘regional’ groups, most attract volunteers from various parts of the country. Dirty weekender facts: Cost - between £8 & £15 (includes food & accommodation); Age Open to anyone 18+; Accommodation - basic, you will need to bring a sleeping bag and karrimat; Transport - WRG can pick you up from the nearest rail/bus station or try to find you a lift; Kit - You’ll need a pair of steel-toe capped boots and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty but apart from that we will supply you with all the safety equipment you require.

Find your local group WRG North West is our most northern regional group, based in Manchester. It mainly organises digs in and around NW/NE of England and in Wales. Many of the members of WRG NW started in canal restoration a number of years ago when canals were derelict, mud was mud and green woolly bobble hats were every-


where. NW has been everywhere - seen it, done it, got the experience. As well as organising weekend digs they also raise lots of money to fund their work by means of ‘Paperchases’ - waste paper collections. This might well be the most fun you can have in Crumpsall on a wet Saturday in February, but the fish and chips are free to those who turn up to work. To find out more about WRG NW please contact David McCarthy (“Mr Mac”). Tel: 0161 740 2179 or e-mail

ABOVE: Volunteers from Essex WRG working on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation.

WRG BITM (Bit in the Middle) draws membership from anywhere that isn’t covered by our other groups, and even some who are. WRG BITM work on a wide variety of sites, based mainly around central and southern England, within easy travelling distance of the M1, M4, M5, M6 quadrangle; although they have been known to venture beyond. WRG BITM have a working party once a month with between 15 and 20 volunteers converging on a village hall on the Friday evening, ready to spend the weekend getting dirty, sometimes wet, and very tired.

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Dirty Weekenders To find out more about WRG BITM please contact Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874 437 or e-mail WRG South West was formed in 2004 with the aim of restoring canals in the South West of England including the Cotswold Canals, Grand Western Canal in Devon and the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal in Wales. WRGSW are always looking for new members so why not find out what they are up to in 2011. We don’t have a ‘membership’ and any interested volunteers aged 18 - 70 are welcome – you don’t even have to be from the south west. The current group of regular volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, and no previous experience or knowledge is required (though we will try and put any you do have to good use) – just a sense of humour! We aim to organise a dig every four to five weekends throughout the year, with a longer break over the summer when many of us are involved in the main WRG Canal Camps season. To find out more about WRG SW please contact Harri Barnes e-mail Essex WRG started, like most of the other groups, to work on their local threatened waterway; in this case, the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Essex WRG now works all over southern England, with occasional forays into South Wales and the Midlands. A particular favourite is Foxton Inclined Plane ... so if you want to work on a unique historic site, you know where to come. Essex WRG now has members in Northants and Milton Keynes, and all parts of Hertfordshire and Essex. Jobs on site can include hedge laying, dry stonewalling, scrub clearance, and making the tea! Accommodation is usually in village halls, scout huts or community centres – bring your own sleeping bag and sleeping mat/airbed. To find out more about Essex WRG please contact John Gale. Tel: 01376 334 896 or e-mail: London WRG works on the canals of southern England, such as the Wilts & Berks, Cotswolds and Basingstoke canals, and occasionally further afield in the Midlands, with most of its members coming from London and the Home Counties. London WRG helps restoration in a practical way by running regular weekend digs, usually every three weeks. The work they do is very varied - including brick laying, scrub bashing, demolition and use of plant. No experience is necessary - you just need to be willing to get involved and have fun. London WRG offer minibus transport to digs, usually leav-

ing Waterloo Station at about 7pm on Friday evenings. They welcome anyone to join them, wherever they live. Pick up from a train station nearer to the dig is also possible. To find out more about London WRG please contact Tim Lewis. Tel: 07802 518094 or e-mail WRG East Midlands is based in the Nottingham/East of England area and the group carries out work on various canal projects in the local area. On a Friday they can often be found working alongside the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association helping to restore the Erewash Canal. To find out more about WRG East Midlands contact John Baylis email: WRG Forestry is a voluntary group which carries out scrub and tree clearance for canal restoration projects throughout England and Wales. The group has a firm belief in safe working and all members have the appropriate training and qualifications to the industry standard. WRG Forestry has had a busy start to 2011 so far, working on sites including Inglesham Lock & Eisey Lock on the Thames & Severn Canal, Nynehead Lift on the Grand Western Canal and Latton Basin on the Wilts & Berks Canal. This year WRG Forestry is also running a canal camp on the Grand Western Canal (Devon) from Friday 21st October to Saturday 29th October. The group welcomes enquiries regarding work and new members. If you have any queries please contact Clive Alderman (WRG Forestry Coordinator) email clive@ calderman.orangehome. WRG attracts a wide range of people, from young volunteers taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme; to waterway enthusiasts who wish to make a contribution to restoring and preserving the system; to people who just want to get outdoors and dirty, have fun and learn new skills. Volunteers attending our activities must be aged between 18-70, but apart from that age doesn’t matter, nor does previous experience. So why wait … come along and find out what being a dirty weekender really involves.

FORTHCOMING DIRTY WEEKENDER DATES Aug 6/7 WRG BITM Wendover Arm, Grand Union Canal (Hertfordshire). Aug 6/7 Essex WRG Location TBC. Aug 13/14 London WRG Wilts & Berks Canal, Seven Locks Flight (Wiltshire). Sept 9/11 WRG NW Lancaster Canal (including Kendal Torchlight). Sept 10/11 London WRG Location TBC. Sep 17/18 WRG BITM Location TBC. Oct 1/2 WRG NW Lichfield Canal (Midlands). Oct 8/9 Basingstoke Canal – Pete Redway Memorial Dig (Surrey). Oct 15/16 WRG BITM Location TBC. Oct 23/24 WRG SW Grand Western Canal (Devon). October 21/29 WRG Forestry Grand Western Canal (Devon). Keep checking the WRG website as dates will be added throughout the year

m Lock Scrub clearance work at Inglesha stry. being undertaken by WRG Fore

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THE NEXT GENERATION We look at attempts to attract young people to the world of the waterways

Why don’t we get more young people involved?


his is a common question raised at IWA meetings across the country and many of us do our best using the WOW activities which are very popular. In a good year, over 2,000 children will have taken part in making a lace plate or duck headdress at one of our waterways festivals around the country. Other organisations also approach us to use some of the WOW activities – an example would be the Boaters Christian Fellowship who are planning several events during July. To spread the word further, we are also currently working on a small WOW booklet which can be distributed in different ways, one possibility being to families on hire-boats for holidays. The booklet will include a couple of activities for children and a wildlife poster with reminders about water safety. As it will be distributed by IWA, this may also raise IWA’s profile with hirers. However, there are also a surprising number of other

groups working with young people in a waterways context. The British Canoe Union is very well known, but less so is “Get Hooked on Fishing” - like IWA, a national charity (see below). The Waterways Action Squad, based at Ellesmere Port under the auspices of The Waterways Trust, were also introduced to readers in the last edition of Waterways and they have been doing good work in the North West with young people aged between 16 and 25. However, funding cuts mean that they may not be able to continue some of their projects. The way forward may well be for IWA to work with other groups who already have young memberships. The BCU are happy to attend IWA waterways events seeking to recruit new canoeing enthusiasts. The Waterways Action Squad have brought their young volunteers to waterways events to assist with children’s activities and provide musical entertainment – thereby greatly lowering the average age of the attendees.

WOW balls were a major hit at the recent Leeds waterway festival. A project taking shape in the North West sees IWA combining with British Waterways and volunteers from “Get Hooked on Fishing” (GHOF), working with young people aged between 11 and 16. The aim is to encourage positive attitudes towards the waterways through angling, thereby discouraging vandalism and antisocial behaviour which can result from young people being out and about by the canals, particularly in the summer months. If this pilot is successful, it could well be something that IWA and GHOF can support in other areas.

Working with other youth groups, like the Scouts and Guides through canal cleanups and other waterway events, will bring IWA into their “world” and maybe gain us extra youth credibility. They might even join us when they get older! For more information e-mail

Get Hooked on Fishing Liverpool


et Hooked on Fishing is a personal development programme based around fishing, helping to teach the skills and understanding to young people to enable them to take control of their own lives. Part of the national charitable trust, Get Hooked on Fishing Liverpool has been serving local communities and schools with its alternative educational and personal development programmes since 2005. We deliver fun and interactive training around the sport of angling. Our programme is designed with the help of young people to give the participants more confidence and to demonstrate that there are alternative pathways and better opportunities available to them.


In 2010 we worked with IWA Chester Branch on their Tom Rolt Centenary Rally in Chester, by providing an angling taster activity as part of their WOW programme for children. We are also hoping to work with IWA and British Waterways on a project aimed at young people in the Northwich area later this year. A recent quote from the Home Office Positive Futures department said: “Most Youth Service professionals who have encountered the Get Hooked on Fishing scheme have sensed something special about the project. There is an apparent synergy of vision, commitment, process and tangible outcomes.

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The Next Generation Waterway Action Squad

BW’s WOW Education Issues BW training days

Live music at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port.


une saw the end of the first phase of Waterways Action Squad, the youth volunteering project being delivered in partnership by The Waterways Trust and British Waterways. Since July 2009, the project has engaged over 900 young people aged 16-25 in diverse waterways volunteering activities across the North West. The end of the project was marked with a volunteer conference and celebration event at the National Waterways Museum on 15th June. Waterways Action Squad volunteers, funders, representatives from BW, The Waterways Trust and the National Waterways Museum, and local figures all celebrated with a series of youth-led workshops, practical willow-weaving and aquatic species ID sessions. There was also an awards ceremony, recognising the contributions of young people and the staff and volunteers who had supported them. This was followed by an evening BBQ, waterzorbing and live music. The next phase of Waterways Action Squad is due to start shortly and will engage 16-19 year old NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training) in six- month volunteering and social action projects within the Trust and BW. Project 24:24 is funded by v, the national young volunteer’s service and the Department for Education, and will see five young people based at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port volunteering for 24 hours a week for 24 weeks. The diverse programme of activities will include: developing boat handling skills, customer care roles, assisting in the archives and collections, administrative duties and practical towpath improvements etc. Future cohorts will be based in Northwich (from January 2012) and Wigan ( fromAugust 2012) For more information on this project or to register your interest, please contact Youth Engagement Coordinator, Emma Wright on 0151 373 4392 or email emma.wright@

Following the successful recruitment of our first education volunteers, a series of eleven training days were organised to provide them with the skills and knowledge to deliver our learning activities. The first “School Days” training was delivered to 21 volunteers in Birmingham, Foxton and Gloucester. The day’s programme included an introduction to British Waterways, WOW and the New Waterways Charity, top tips for working with children, safeguarding, working safely, advice on how to book a school visit and practical demonstrations of our key learning activities to be delivered in schools. Other training days have taken place such as “Writing for Children” led by children’s author and heritage interpreter Cathy Lewis and “Waterway Discovery Days” which equips our volunteers with the skills to lead canal side visits. Family Discovery Day training also took place in July. Not all our volunteers work in direct contact with children; some offer their support and advice in different ways. We have volunteers who help with our website, some assist with administration and also help to design our WOW education resources.

Droitwich Canals Play in a Day The ‘Play in a Day’, A Canal Runs Through It, was delivered by The Waterways Trust as part of the Droitwich Canals restoration, with our contribution being the production of a WOW resources pack to act as a legacy of the play’s performance and as a means of encouraging other schools to use drama to explore our waterway heritage. Our volunteer designer has produced a great downloadable resource which is about to be launched on the WOW website.

New Member of the WOW team We have a new Education Coordinator. Elaine Stanley has joined our team and will be based in BW’s Watford office.

Elaine brings a wealth of experience as she has worked as a teacher and as a learning coordinator for BW in London – and with the New Waterways Charity fast approaching we are all looking forward to working together in these changing times. Elaine and Sarah Cook will be focussing on developing a team of WOW education volunteers who will deliver the WOW education learning programme to schools, to cubs, scouts and brownies and out on the towpath. Initially we are concentrating our efforts at specific locations around England and Wales, with Elaine covering the South and Wales, Sarah, the Midlands and North. If you want to get in contact with Elaine or Sarah please email them at

BW WOW Education Volunteer hunts for bugs in Bath Jan Davey, the first WOW education volunteer recruited for the Kennet & Avon Canal, assisted in bug-hunting workshops taking place on the towpath in Bath during June. This was part of a Heritage Lottery Funded Project to celebrate completion of restoration works to the pump chimney and wrought iron bridges by the flight of locks through Bath. Local school children had an action packed day – not only did they hunt for canal creatures with Jan, but they also learnt how to work locks assisted by volunteers from the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and had a go at traditional canal painting taught by volunteers and staff from the newly refurbished Holburne Museum. Jan was concerned that she would not be able to identify the fresh water invertebrates that the children found but she needn’t have worried – she very quickly became very knowledgeable. She can now explain the difference between a mayfly larva and a damselfly larva with all the confidence of an expert! Watch the WOW website for a new trail along the locks in Bath which will be coming soon.

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The Column of the National Chairman We eagerly await the New Era for our Waterways The consultation responses are all now with Defra for their detailed consideration. Many respondents have shared them widely and I have found them interesting reading. It will be important to ensure that the final outcomes show that they have considered the range of responses. With only eight months to go to April 2012, there is much for Defra, Parliament, The Transition Trustees, Local Waterway Partnerships and BW to sort out. The vital wider engagement with local authorities and the communities they represent can begin immediately as can more effective working with volunteers. I hope that IWA members will rise to this volunteering challenge now and not sit watching and waiting on the sidelines to see how things turn out. We hope to establish a ‘can do and will do’ attitude going forward.

The more the merrier I know from reading various responses that traditional waterway supporters are, in the main, supportive of the general direction set out in the New Era consultation. The real test will be to see how much wider the base for support and volunteering activities is seen to be. In waterway circles the specialist environmental, wildlife and nature interests are sometimes seen as more in evidence when they want to stop an activity or impose conditions, but I hope that in future volunteers from both waterway and wildlife bodies can increasingly work together to raise funding and to roll up their sleeves to help out with actions contributing to their specific interests. I hope we will see such cooperation more and more, as we all need to be seen to be contributing to the future of the waterways. By acting as green corridors the waterways offer a migration route for bad things as well as good. So we have invasive species such as mink, signal crayfish, floating pennywort, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam spreading at alarming rates. Again, we need to work together to help clear these aliens away for the benefit of both navigation and native wildlife. In a similar way local communities need to show that they appreciate the history and heritage of their local waterway as well as the convenience of a safe footpath along the waterway corridor maintained at no direct expense to them. When these activities are widespread the scope for all parties to work together to establish mutual understanding and respect for all differing interests will, I hope, evolve for the good of all.

Much to be glad about This summer I was delighted to witness the reopening of the two Droitwich Canals after their restoration, as this was the first major restoration in the West Midlands since the Upper Avon opened in 1974. I don’t know when we will see the next major reopening but I know how much work is going on across the country to fulfil many more dreams.


It has been a good summer for waterway events and festivals across the country and generally, at the time of going to press, below average rainfall has been managed well with navigation authorities coping with water levels. Our Waterways Festival returns to Burton-on-Trent over the last weekend in July and I hope to see many members there as well as at our AGM at Cookley near Kidderminster, on 24th September.

Looking forward As well as the launch of the New Waterways Charity, 2012 will see London hosting the Olympics in a waterside location in July and, before that, a 1,000-strong flotilla will sail along the River Thames on 3rd June when the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant will be one of the main events of a four-day bank holiday weekend marking the Queen’s 60-year reign. She will head the fleet, which will include vessels from the UK, Commonwealth, and all around the world. Crowds are invited to line the Thames to watch the pageant. In view of the busy summer, IWA has decided to support a number of local waterway festivals next year as an alternative to running its usual National Waterways Festival. I hope that you will all get involved at an event near you to celebrate the New Era and to show off the waterways to as many people as possible.

Clive Henderson

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Praise for Lichfield Branch

Will be held at Cookley Village Hall, Lea Lane, Cookley, Kidderminster, DY10 3RH

At 2.00 p.m. on Saturday 24th September 2011. Agenda 1. To receive, and approve the minutes of the fifty-first Annual General Meeting. 2. To receive, and approve the Report and Financial Statements for the Association for the year ended 31st December 2010, and the Report of the Auditors thereon. 3. To re-appoint Saffery Champness as auditors of the Association in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Acts, and to authorise trustees to fix their remuneration. 4. To hear the result of the ballot for the appointment of nationally elected trustees. 5. To hear the results of the ballots for the appointment of Region Chairmen for Eastern, London and South East regions. 6. To consider, and pass a Special Resolution confirming trustees’ recommendation that: From 1st January 2012, the subscriptions shall be amended as follows: Ordinary Member (UK) Family or Joint Adult Membership (UK) Overseas Members - (per single address outside UK) Senior Citizen (UK) Senior Citizen (UK) - two members aged over 65 Corporate - non-profit making bodies Corporate - profit making bodies - up to 20 employees Corporate - profit making bodies - more than 20 employees Single Life membership (UK) Joint Life Membership (UK) Overseas Life Membership (per single address outside UK)

Annual Monthly £30.00 £3 £37.50 £3.75 £65.00 £6.50 £23.00 £2.30 £28.00 £2.80 £52.00 £5.20 £57.00 N/A £114.00 N/A £600.00 N/A £750.00 N/A £1,300.00 N/A

The qualifying age for senior citizen membership is 65. 7. To hear an address by the national chairman, Clive Henderson, followed by questions. By Order of the Council HELEN ELLIOT-ADAMS Company Secretary


ritish Waterways has paid tribute, through its volunteering scheme, to IWA’s Lichfield Branch for the work branch members have undertaken on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Rugeley (see IWA at Work, Summer 2011 Waterways). The branch regularly organises work parties to clean-up and improve the canal through the town, with dozens of members and local people taking part. Work has been carried out from Brindley Bank Aqueduct right through the town, and includes canal bank repairs, vegatation clearance, litter and graffiti cleansing, removal of derelict fencing, repair and repainting of benches, and refurbishment of notice boards. The longer term aim is to resurface the path leading from Wolseley Road, reprofile the historic ‘Bloody Steps’ and carry out general improvements to the canalside area.

Notes to the Agenda Directions to the AGM are available at uk/agm/agm or from Head Office.

Copies of the minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting are available on request from Head Office (Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA - Tel: 01494 783453 - e-mail: and on the Association’s website at www. Proxies Any person being a member of the Association is entitled to appoint a proxy to attend and vote on his or her behalf at the AGM. A proxy need not be a member of the Association. Forms for nominating a proxy may be obtained from Head Office, as above, to which they should be returned by 2pm on Thursday 22nd September 2011 in order to be valid.

Subscription Rates Subscription rates were last revised at the AGM held in 2010, since then we have suffered inflation* of just over 5%. (*Increases in subscription rates are based on the Retail Price Index). This presents an erosion in the Association’s income, and trustees propose to increase subscription levels to remedy this loss. Increases in senior citizen and overseas rates are slightly higher as part of the gradual move to bring a 20% discount on the standard rates, which commenced at the 2009 AGM. Lunch is available if pre-ordered before 19th September - online or cheque payment in advance to head Office - £5 per head.

Ballot for Trustee Elections 2011 Nominations for the 2011 trustee ballots closed on 1st July. For the nationally elected members, there were two vacancies and two nominations (Ray Carter and Gordon Harrower). Doug Beard decided not to stand again. For the three regionally elected members (London, Eastern and South East), there was one nomination in each case (Paul Strudwick, Alastair Chambers and Paul Roper respectively). No ballots are therefore required this year. Because there was a vacancy, Paul Strudwick became London Region Chairman and a trustee with immediate effect.

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Three go boating


hree members of IWA’s Head Office recently spent a day completing their Inland Waters Helmsman’s Certificate on the Shropshire Union Canal under the guidance of Terry Robinson, of T.R. Boat Handling. David ma Bolton David Padfield, Jenny Black and Gem Padfield, Gemma Bolton and ling. with Terry Robinson of T.R Boat Hand Jenny Black, despite being active users of the canal towpath through running, cycling and photography, had little experience of boat-handling so IWA’s National Chairman Clive Henderson suggested that they should attend the course to gain a better understanding of the waterways and have some hands-on experience of boating. The day started with Terry explaining the basics of a narrowboat - showing us the engine and explaining how to do the normal routine checks. We then moved onto ropework, how to secure a boat and safety issues. After about an hour we were ready to try our hand at handling the boat. Terry let us take turns in steering the boat, trying out different speeds and taught us the art of reversing through bridges (much to amusement of fellow boaters!). We continued on past various IWA member’s boats, through Cowley Tunnel until we reached Wheaton Aston Lock. After turning the boat we returned through the lock and back to Norbury Junction, practising the skills we had learnt in the morning. Despite nearly losing Gemma overboard a few times, we thoroughly enjoyed our day with Terry and now feel inspired to get off the towpath and onto a boat again sometime soon. More details of T. R. Boat Handling’s courses can be found at or call 01785 824 012.

Kayaker completes voyage – thanks to IWA


eter Woolsey was just 16 in 1957 when he canoed on his own from Kendal to London by inland waterways. Peter, now 70, has just recreated the whole trip again. IWA’s Jim Shead assisted by helping put together the route and provided advice. Meanwhile, IWA’s Warwickshire branch arranged a reception for Peter as he approached Hawkesbury Junction, where the Oxford Canal meets the Coventry Canal, He was then helped by Oxfordshire Branch as he made his way down the Oxford Canal to complete his marathon journey in London on 12th June. Peter said: “Clive Henderson, IWA National Chairman, kindly met me at for supper at Napton with Greta and Adrian Russell and their very kind colleagues from IWA’s Warwickshire branch. My special thanks must also go to Graham (Nick) whom I renamed Sampson for his valiant efforts in assisting me portage my kayak round so many locks during two days with them. I also want to mention Chris Wardley and his IWA team on the Oxford Canal, especially Peter Ellement, who organised assistance, and Tricia who organised a meeting for me with the mayor of Banbury.”


IWA Branch and Region AGMs


t their June meeting, IWA’s trustees agreed to make the current requirement for regions to hold an Annual General Meeting optional. It will be up to each region to decide whether it wants to hold them in future or not. Where region AGMs are not held, committee members and officers of the region other than the region chairman should be appointed by the branches within the region, with any disputes that cannot be amicably settled by the branches, or by majority view, being decided upon by the region chairman. Where regions continue to hold AGMs, the costs of doing so should be met by the branches within the region. Trustees will be amending the region byelaws shortly to reflect this change. Trustees have also changed the branch byelaws, so that the time each year by when a branch is required to hold its AGM has been extended to the end of May, from the current end of March deadline. Branches are also now allowed to give formal notice of AGMs on the branch’s area of IWA’s website, as well as other current methods such as inclusion in newsletters. These changes for branches and regions are part of a move to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and cost.

Waterway Projects Win Lottery Grants


rojects to build an electric trip boat on the Chesterfield Canal Trust and to refurbish the Iron Trunk Aqueduct at Cosgrove on the Grand Union Canal have both gained grants from the Big Lottery Fund. The projects were entered into the Jubilee People’s Millions competition and were both finalists in their regions. The winners were chosen by TV viewers after viewing short films. The CCT will now be able to build its craft, fully accessible for the disabled, which will be based at Kiveton. Wolverton & Greenleys Town Council won £60,000 to restore the Iron Trunk Aqueduct on the Grand Union Canal. The restoration will involve cleaning and repainting the aqueduct in its original colours and returning it to its former glory. Thanks go to all IWA members who took the trouble to vote in the Jubilee People’s Millions competitions.

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Droitwich Canals Reopened


n perfect summer weather, the Droitwich Canals were officially reopened on Friday 1st July. Accompanied by Peter Luff, MP and Edward Moore, chairman of Worcestershire County Council, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman unveiled the plaque that is to be embedded in Vines Park to record the day. Ms Spelman paid tribute to everyone involved in the 50-year restoration project, saying: “Reconnecting and reopening the two canals is a great engineering achievement. I am delighted by the environmental sensitivity of the work.” The first through traffic on the new Droitwich Canals took place the previous weekend, when the working boat motor Atlas and butty Malus travelled from Hawford Junction on the Severn through to Hanbury Top Lock by the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Following behind was IWA National Chairman Clive Henderson aboard his boat Nanshe. Clive said he was “deeply honoured” to be aboard the first leisure craft to make the passage along the newly reopened waterways. The opening ceremony saw some 70 boats gathered around the town’s Netherwich Basin.

A busy, happy scene at the reopening of the Droitwich Canals in Vines Park.

The next day, another plaque was unveiled to the “unknown volunteers” – the thousands who worked so hard over the years until such time as Lottery and council funding enabled contract work to begin on the two canals. (See also Reopened at Last on pages 40-41.)

ABOVE LEFT: National chairman Clive Henderson with veteran campaigner Max Sinclair. ABOVE: Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman declares the canals officially open for business.

Caretaker Vacancy on the Chelmer & Blackwater


Heybridge Basin at the eastern of the navigation.


n opportunity has arisen for a new residential caretaker position on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. It comes with a residential mooring (with local authority planning permission, just granted) at Heybridge Basin at the eastern end of the Navigation, for which the incumbent will be charged the going rate (dependent on boat length). The post holder will be expected to spend a minimum of eight hours per week undertaking maintenance and security duties at the moorings area (e.g. grass cutting) for which they will receive a modest salary. Because planning permission relevant to the mooring is for a fixed period, with renewal subject to review, the post would be for an initial period of 18 months. For more information or to apply for the position go to: residential_vacancy or contact the navigation manager Colin Edmonds on 07966 375351.

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• Competitive moorings available • Excellent cruising routes • Llangollen Canal • Secure parking • Hoist/Slipway • Blacking

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| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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t is now customary for the IW Freight Group to fly the flag at the Braunston Historic Narrowboats Festival and this year we shared our space with Commercial Boat Owners Association (CBOA). This year over 100 craft attended. Apart from impressive gridlock on the cut during the ‘parade’ it was interesting to see just how many narrowboats there are, either still working or in

a condition to work. It was also interesting to see that a number of these seem to be in the hands of younger people clearly interested in working them. Far from dismissing the narrowboat as purely of heritage interest, we should be encouraging work for them wherever possible. Thanks to Tim Coghlan for another excellent weekend and for all his support for waterway groups of many kinds. Historic narrowboats at the Braunston Festival.

Severn corridor and inland distribution




he IWFG strongly opposed the redevelopment for housing of Diglis Basin, Worcester, and pressed for a site for replacement facilities. Such a site, just downstream of Diglis, was identified but a wharf was never developed. Thomson River Transport (TRT) has long-standing interests in the Severn for transport and has handled about one million tonnes of aggregates from Ripple to Ryall for the CEMEX company. Plans for use of larger barges, one being acquired, to move aggregates to a batching plant at Gloucester came to nothing with BW and CEMEX seemingly at loggerheads over details regarding the unloading terminal. In the 1980s BW published proposals for the improvement of the Severn Corridor which would allow 1,500 tonne seagoing ships to Worcester and 2,500 tonnes to Gloucester. Despite support from the local MEP, the proposal simply gathered dust on a shelf somewhere and the availability of ships of suitable size and design has since declined. However, TRT has new plans for a cargo handling facility at Worcester on a 15 acre site with planning permission for industry and with proximity to the M5 to serve as a distribution centre for bulk, unitised and general cargoes. Barges of up to 560 tonnes could link with main ports downstream. This would give a whole new meaning to river-sea transport and emphasises the importance to water transport of supply chains involving several transport modes. The IWFG has long had an interest in greater use of the Severn and TRT deserves full support for its initiative.


ecent correspondence in Waterways World draws attention to the central role of freight in Aickman’s visions for British Waterways, IWA and the proposed National Waterways Conservancy of the 1950s. Within IWA, Charles Hadfield’s creation in 1971 of the Inland Shipping Group, now the IW Freight Group, was also prompted by a realistic view of freight movement by water where that was feasible. Most discussions at Braunston (see above) hinged on concern for waterborne freight under the new charity. With the abandonment of its freight marketing group, BW effectively terminated what had for long been a less than satisfactory concern with freight. In discussions regarding the proposed charitable status for BW, there has been little attention to the way in which freight might fit into the new scheme of things. Indeed, the impact could be negative. Levels of maintenance and dredging could be reduced and some freight waterways could be reclassified to lose that status. The CBOA has argued that current nonuse of a particular waterway does not necessarily justify declassification. The requirement that freight by water should pay its way is certainly not applied to other waterway users nor to other modes of transport. There are no proposals for purposeful promotion of freight yet the transport press indicates growing concern regarding the long term ability of oil supplies to satisfy rapidly growing demand and the near certainty of steeply rising costs. Add the environmental considerations and what is totally lacking from charitable status proposals now being considered is any positive and pro-active concern for freight by water (see also ‘The National Waterways Charity’ on pages 10-15).

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here can be no doubting the media interest and heightened public awareness of freight by water when the Tesco name was associated with the barge transport of imported wine from Liverpool to Manchester by way of the Ship Canal. The capacity of this shuttle has since been doubled. The movement of steel sections by barge from the Trent to Leeds and the recent barge movement of imported Scandinavian timber from Goole to West Stockwith on the Trent are just the sort of examples which could influence local planners in retaining or safeguarding wharves. The use until recently of narrowboats in the movement of aggregates from Denham to West Drayton and current use in servicing a construction site at Castle Wharf, Berkhamsted on the Grand Union serve to

bring waterborne freight to the attention of a wider public. A recent visit by a historic London dock tug to Essex Wharf on the Lee served to demonstrate that this wharf, under serious threat of redevelopment, could have a strategic role in future development of freight on the Lee. And this must surely be the way we are thinking. Barges and tugs of the Wood, Hall & Heward fleet demonstrate the invaluable role of water transport in support of a range of waterside construction and engineering projects. Recent examples include bridge repairs at Uxbridge, towpath repairs at Hayes and Old Ford, and construction work on a water-taxi site for use during the Olympics. All these examples help to illustrate use of the waterways about which politicians, planners and the public seem all too ignorant. How many of our

parliamentarians know that a million tonnes of freight passes their Westminster windows every year by barge? Just try putting that down Whitehall and around Parliament Square and there would be questions in the house.



ctivity on many mainland European waterways is undoubtedly impressive and it is all too easy to contrast this with the very low level of waterborne freight in Britain. There is certainly a contrast between a far more positive approach by government and commerce in many of our neighbours and the indifference and lack of support found here and evidenced in the BW Charity proposals. However, also to be taken into account are great differences in the geography of rivers, extent of lowlands, nature of terrain, and the distribution of resources, economic activity and people. This is not to argue that Britain’s waterways could not carry far more freight than they do. The members of Berlin-based European River Sea Transport Union at their recent meeting were given a presentation on ‘Island Britain and River Sea Transport.’ The IWFG has been a member of ERSTU for many years and a copy of our freight pamphlet was given to the delegates. The ERSTU President made a point of drawing attention to the IWFG’s list of ‘What needs to be done’ and expressed the view that this agreed precisely with ERSTU policy and was what was needed in most European countries. Albeit in a more favourable situation than Britain, water freight interests across Europe feel that they are a neglected mode, do not receive the priority that they deserve and that there is a constant battle to ensure proper recognition of their role.

TOP: Clitheroe helping to rebuild the towpath at Old Ford on the Lee Navigation. ABOVE: Construction spoil being removed by water at Berkhamsted .

Quarry work for Derwent


ntil sold by British Waterways as part of its sale of historic boats, the original Leeds & Liverpool short boat Derwent was lying at Northwich. However, she has now been brought south for restoration, ready for commercial use. It is planned that the vessel will participate in a project to backfill the Lea quarry at Denham.

ABOVE: Short boat Derwent at Northwich. RIGHT: Serious freight traffic in Europe: barges on the Danube.

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HORSEPOWER O TO DIESEL The story of propulsion on inland waterways


arious experiments with cable haulage were undertaken on the inland waterways of the British Isles. In the early 1850s this mode of propulsion was suggested for the River Severn, utilising a number of flexible iron bands which a tug was able to grip between rollers. The plan was to lay them from Welshpool downstream to Gloucester. Cable haulage was also considered for the River Suir in Ireland, whilst rope haulage was the option preferred for the River Trent. Meanwhile, a moving wire rope driven by two waterwheels was trialled in Morwellham Tunnel on the Tavistock Canal. It damaged the tunnel sides and invert, and was soon abandoned. In the final years of the 19th century electric traction was introduced to trams on Britain’s streets, and its application to inland waterways appeared feasible. It was first tried on the River Wey at Guildford, and a number of electric traction canals were mooted, but none came to fruition. On the Staffs & Worcs Canal, a short length of waterway near Kidderminster power station was equipped with poles and overhead wires. The boat


picked up the current via a trolley pole which drove an electric motor. Trials were relatively successful, with a speed in excess of 5hp being achieved. The only long term application of electric power was, however, the Harecastle Tunnel tug on the Trent & Mersey Canal which operated into the 1950s.

Horse-boat Haulage But the early years of canal carrying were inextricably linked with the boat-horse, as depicted in countless evocative photos, such as the title picture in this article. There was no such thing as a boat-horse breed. On England’s narrow canals, low bridges meant that smallish animals of about 15 hands were ideal, whereas on the Grand Union Canal, Shires were used to pull narrowboat pairs. In some instances, carthorses were pressed into service, as well as breadvan horses; most were mares or geldings. Some boatmen used mules or donkeys to pull their craft. Although a number of boatmen owned their own horses, they could also be hired. On the Severn, for instance, towing path

TOP: Pure nostalgia – horsepower on the BCN in a bygone age. D. Wilson ABOVE: 21st century power – a Mitsubishi-based Vetus diesel engine.

“Gradually from the 1930s, the semi-diesel began to be replaced by the full diesel.”

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Horsepower to Diesel companies provided both horses and drivers. Many of the larger carrying firms supplied horses, such as the Shropshire Union, who in 1905 had 328 beasts. Other companies, such as Fellows, Morton & Clayton and Seddons of Middlewich, provided horses too. It was a hard life for these animals. Horses regularly worked from 6am until 8pm, and had to eat and drink on the way, from a nose tin. They slowed down to do so, but didn’t stop. However, adequate overnight stabling was generally provided. One of the major problems of horse haulage related to passing and overtaking. As a general rule, drivers had to keep their horses to the left and steerers had to steer their boats to the right. The effect was of sending one boat and horse outside the other, such that the driver of the outside horse had to stop and lower his line, enabling the inner boat and horse to pass over it.

THE HORSE-BOATING SOCIETY The Horse-boating Society exists to promote horse-boating and to preserve the heritage and skills of this once common form of transport. Members take part in horse-drawn journeys, often to major rallies such as IWA’s National Festival. Other members offer horse-drawn trips for passengers during the summer months, including the Godalming Packet Boat Co on the River Wey, the Kennet Horse Boat Co on the Kennet & Avon Canal, the Tiverton Canal Co on the Grand Western Canal and Welsh Canal Holiday Craft on the Llangollen Canal. For further information visit

Marine Engines Steam powered propulsion on inland waterways first appeared in 1787, with trials taking place on the River Hull. Further experiments took place on the Forth & Clyde Canal a dozen years later, before steam cargo barges were tried out on the Sankey Brook Navigation and the Bridgewater Canal in 1789 and 1793 respectively. Steam power had its limitations and the inland combustion engine, when it arrived some 100 years later, was able to run without attention, far less space and was more economical on fuel. Although steamers were more powerful, it was soon realised that motor narrowboats were capable of towing a butty. By the early 1900s light petrol engines with electric ignition had been adapted for marine use, but for inland waterway craft the vertical semi-diesel was the best bet. One of the preferred makes was the two-stroke Bolinder manufactured in Sweden. The company went on to produce a wide range of power units for barges, tugs, fishing vessels and ocean-going ships. Other makes of engine suitable for inland waterway craft were Petter, Widdop and Gardner. Bolinders burning heavy oil or parafin dominated on the narrow canals, with Fellows, Morton & Clayton fitting their first Bolinder in the narrowboat Linda in 1912 and sticking loyally to the make until the end of their carrying days in 1947. Gradually from the 1930s, the semi-diesel began to be replaced by the full diesel. Working on the four-stroke cycle, multicylindered types provided greater power in relation to their size. Because they operated

A horse-drawn journey to the IWA National Festival at Autherley in 2008.

at higher revs, they required a reduction gearbox, but advantages included smoother running and compactness of scale. The top make in narrowboats was Russell Newbery, followed in the 1940s by the Lister JP. A decade later air-cooled engines began to usurp the water-cooled variety, with Petter, Lister and Armstrong Siddeley to the fore.

ABOVE: The steam-powered narrowboat President regularly attends events all over the country. She is seen here towing the butty Kildare on Well Creek.

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Diesel Domination

The Pleasure Boat Era The earliest inland waterway cruisers were powered, in the main, by inboard petrol engines. When diesel engines replaced them in larger craft, the two-stroke petrol outboard became the obvious choice for budget-price canal craft in the 1970s. Following a period of decline in the early 1980s, outboard-powered canal cruisers enjoyed a renaissance as entrylevel purchasers for river boaters. Following the introduction of larger four-stroke outboards, the concept has been extended to wide-beam cruisers. Four-stroke outboards are cleaner than their two-stroke cousins. Their emissions do not include burnt oil, although quantities of toxic carbon monoxide are present and can find their way into the water through the exhausts. Larger four-strokes can be converted to run on LPG, which is less polluting than petrol. Four-stroke outboards enjoy one major advantage over almost every other form of propulsion. In a light craft, a slow-running fourstroke petrol outboard competes with even electric propulsion for quietness. The major players in the outboard market are Honda, Yamaha and Evinrude.


Diesel propulsion completely dominates the narrowboat scene today. Fortunately, diesels have come a long way since the 1970s, when excessively loud engines detracted considerably from the ‘peace and quiet, get away from it all’ appeal of canal holidays. Who, among boating veterans, can forget the days of shouting oneself hoarse in a vain attempt to be heard above the throb, throb of a Lister installation? Today’s diesel engines are predominantly water-cooled, as opposed to air-cooled, one of the major factors in quieter propulsion. Although the inland diesel engine market has contracted somewhat in recent times, there is still a bewildering choice of engines suitable for inland waterways craft. Top of the pile is possibly Beta Marine’s range of Kubotas - smooth-running Japanese engines admirably suited to canal cruising and very quiet. Kubota-base engines are also used by Nanni, one of Europe’s largest engine marinisers, via A.R. Peachment. Lister has a long history of narrowboat usage, going back to the days of commercial carrying. Lister Petter base engines are now marinised by Marine Engine Services in partnership with Cotswold Diesel Services. Lister Canal Stars use the British industrial LPW Alpha range - all water-cooled, unlike the earlier SR, ST and TS Canal Star designs. It has, however, re-introduced the air-cooled TR2 and TR3.

ABOVE: Smaller hire craft utilised outboard engines throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s. This is the Shropshire Union Cruises’ base at Norbury Junction. Waterway Images

LEFT: A Yamaha four-stroke outboard.

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Stretham Old Engine on the Old West River. A gleaming Russell Newbery.

From the early years of the 20th century, steam power may have lost out to diesel aboard working narrowboats, but static steam engines continued to play a vital role in pumping stations up and down the waterway network. To this day, a number of iconic structures remain as testimony to this vital role, among them Crofton on the Kennet & Avon Canal and Stretham Old Engine on the Cambridgeshire Fens. Crofton Pumping Station was built in 1807 to provide water to the summit level of the K&A Canal. The first engine installed in the building was a 36in bore Boulton & Watt which had a wooden beam and began working in 1809. In 1812, a 42in bore Boulton & Watt engine was installed beside it. In 1846, the 36in bore Boulton & Watt was replaced by a Sims Combined Cylinders engine built by Harveys of Hayle. Both the 1812 Boulton & Watt and the 1846 Harvey engine are in working condition and are steamed at Crofton on several weekends through the summer from a coal-fired Lancashire boiler. For further information visit www. Stretham Old Engine is the last survivor in Southern Fenland of over 100 steampowered pumping stations engaged in Fen drainage in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is also the largest and most complete example of any of these, and one of the earliest, being built in 1831. Located five miles south of Ely beside the Old West River, it is open to the public on selected dates from Easter to September (

Crofton Pumping Station on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Lister TR2 with patriotic ag.

Beta 43.

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Japanese Mitsubishis have been installed in narrowboats since the early 1970s. The Dutch mariniser Vetus continues to supply these engines for the narrowboat market. Yanmar, another Japanese company, has its impressive range of Shire engines marketed by E.P. Barrus. Barrus has recently introduced a new range of engines referred to as ‘Shanks’, to operate alongside the Shires. HM Isuzu entered the market in 2000 but ceased producing engines suitable for narrowboats in 2010. Three former HMI employees subsequently set up Engines Plus, based in Gloucestershire, and introduced a new range called Canaline in sizes from 27hp to 70hp, mainly based on Korean Kioti engines. The Russell Newbery has not been built in quantity for some time. However, the company has just been purchased by David and Deborah Bixter of Hillmorton so the situation may change. An increasing demand for wide-beam boats has led to all marinisers extending their ranges upwards. One manufacturer who only builds for this market is Perkins Sabre whose M92B is supplied by Finning.

Vintage engines “Not so much an engine, more a way of life.” That quote from a proud owner of a Bolinder says it all: vintage engines are for many enthusiasts the key attraction of narrowboating. Vintage diesels have become big business in recent years, supported by a growing number of dedicated engineers. Indeed, many refurbished vintage engines are today installed in brand new narrowboats. For some makes, parts and service are only slightly less readily available than for modern engines. The Swedish-made Bolinder heads up the list of the most well-known vintage makes. Bolinders were among the first internal combustion engines to be fitted in working narrowboats. The sound of a Bolinder is instantly recognisable: “Kerdoinkk” as opposed to the “kerdonk, kerdonk” of other vintage diesels. Its other idiosyncrasies include an ability to blow smoke rings from the exhaust stack. Bolinder owners are a close-knit ‘band of brothers’, sharing information, anecdotes and encouragement through the website www. Russell Newbery is famous as the engine fitted in the narrowboats that launched the large-scale fleet expansion of the 1930s. RN launched its first diesel engine in 1930 and subsequently licensed production to the National Gas & Oil Engine Co to build engines for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co. National’s version differed from the Russell


Newbery’s, and over the years they grew further and further apart. The Lister JP2 is a popular vintage engine with narrowboat enthusiasts even though it did not feature in carrying fleets of the 1930s. The initials JP stand for joint production – the project being launched with Ruston & Hornsby, although the companies went their own way within a few years. Lister’s JP series was built in large numbers between 1930 and 1952 and a good number survive today, including the threecylinder JP3. Spares are in good supply too. The other half of the JP partnership, Ruston & Hornsby, played very little part in working boat history. However, its engines were built in large numbers – both as marine and industrial units – with the result that second-hand engines are readily available for narrowboat installation. Gardner engines enjoy a glowing reputation – based on precision of manufacture and care in building. Gardners have been described as the Rolls Royce of diesels, and many enthusiasts regard them as the ultimate narrowboat engine. The Scottish company Kelvin is also right up there in terms of quality and reputation. Its engines, once found as regularly in top of the range pleasure boats as in commercial craft, possess exceptional corrosion resistance qualities. Kelvin’s J, K and P engines, together with their spares, are still widely available, especially in the central belt of Scotland. Other vintage engines sometimes encountered in narrowboats include Armstrong Siddeley, Dorman, Petter, Ailsa Craig, Kromhout and Perkins.

ABOVE LEFT: Bolinder semi-diesel. ABOVE MIDDLE: The Kelvin J series is well suited to narrowboat usage. ABOVE RIGHT: Immaculately restored vintage Gardner.

| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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21/7/11 1:45:34 pm

Horsepower to Diesel TEN TOP TIPS FOR AVOIDING A BREAKDOWN Suggested by Stephanie Horton of River Canal Rescue


Electric dreams Cast your mind back 30 years or so to the late 1970s/early ‘80s, when the dream was of a silent, electric-powered future for narrowboats and cruisers. Sadly, the dream foundered, largely on the lack of a nationwide charging network. There was consumer resistance too. After all, one of the major attractions of canal cruising is being able to stop for the night precisely where you choose – not at a series of designated charging points. But dwindling oil supplies and environmental issues may yet dictate that largescale electrical propulsion will once again be high up on the agenda. Canal cruising of the future may well be based on diesel-electric drive or electric with diesel back up – perhaps sooner than you think.


“Dwindling oil supplies may yet dictate that large-scale electrical propulsion will once again be on the agenda.”

Much of the material for this article was provided by Graham Booth. All uncredited photographs are Graham’s. His book The Inland Boat Owner’s Book (4th Edition), published by Waterways World Ltd, contains several detailed chapters dealing with Engines and Engine Installation. Thanks are also due to Stephanie Horton of River Canal Rescue for information supplied. Finally, Edward Paget-Tomlinson’s excellent study The Illustrated History of Canal & River Navigations, published by Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, was the source of much historical data utilised here.

Look for leaks (fuel/water oil + air in) and check engine oil and water levels, plus gearbox oil level. 2. Check engine mount and prop shaft bolts. 3. Spin the prop by hand – should be no tightness or grabbing. 4. Check fan belt – look for cracking/ fraying. 5. Check the air filter – and clean if needed. 6. Check battery voltage and charge rate: should be 12V+ and charging at minimum of 12.8V+ (dependent on engine and alternator – check manufacturer guidelines). 7. Loosen water trap drain plug and empty (following environmental guidance when disposing of water). 8. Dip your fuel tank (using a clear plastic hose) and identify level of water and if any contamination. 9. Check battery terminals and earthing locations. 10. Loosen the bolt on top of the skin tank and bleed skin tank to remove air locks and stop overheating. And here’s one for luck: Carry the right spares: spare fan belts – two of each; spare control cable; spare bulbs; spare fuel filters – two of each; spare impellors; spare length of wire; Marine 16 – one bottle per full tank of fuel; relays for engine; fuses 30A/40A etc; 1 gallon of oil and ATF oil if gearbox hydraulic; 3in M 10 bolts for couplings; 2in M 10 bolts for engine mounts; M 10 nylock nuts; M 10 washers; PTFE tape; self amalgamating tape; supply of grease; cable ties. And the right tools: two sets of spanners 8mm to 24mm; set of crimps; snips; Philips and standard screwdriver set; jump leads; filter wrench; round file; adjustable spanner; wood or hacksaw. But if the worst happens and you do suffer a breakdown, there is always the option of a call-out engineer to help. A full list of call-out engineers nationwide is published in the Waterways World Annual 2011. River Canal Rescue – a marine equivalent of the AA or RAC – provides various levels of cover and lots of peace of mind (

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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21/7/11 1:47:52 pm

The Droitwich Canals -

reopened at last!

The Droitwich Canals finally reopened on 1st July. Max Sinclair – one of the saviours of the canal – looks back over 40 years of restoration


was born in Worcester in 1930 close to the Droitwich Barge Canal at Hawford. This became my childhood and schoolday’s playground, as the abandoned and derelict canal was a marvellous attraction for bird-nesting, building reed huts and having camp fires. During the war the canal bridge at Hawford (now the A449 dual carriageway) was inadequate for the convoys of D-Day tanks travelling from Liverpool. Italian prisoners of war came to infill the bridge and widen the road. I was happy to eat their sandwiches in return for English lessons. None of them escaped. I became a railway enthusiast and, as secretary of the Worcester Model Engineers in the 1950s, helped build the society track at Diglis. I was taken away by fellow member Doctor Rogers to work at weekends on the Festiniog Railway where we opened this wonderful railway to operation. Eventually my children (six) rebelled at sitting by the track watching the rain running off the Welsh slate. Bob Smallman, FRS Publicity Office, invited us for a day out on the Staffs & Worcs Canal in his converted ‘barge’ (sic) Spitfire. That

did it. Driving home a tired voice at the back of our mini bus yawned, “Dad we must have one of those”. My wife Jocelyn and I joined the Midland Branch of The Inland Waterways Association in 1958 where we fell under the spell of the legendary David Hutchings. Before long the mud of the Stratford Canal was clogging our boots. This made me think about Droitwich and at one of our Midland Branch committee meetings I raised the subject. The then Chairman Michael McFarlane said “You’d better do something about it.” I wrote letters to local newspapers and the Town and County Councils for some time and was


called ‘The Severn Bore’. There was a vitriolic attack on me from local landowners who claimed restoration impossible, but really wanted to absorb the canal into their property. I had been subpoenaed onto the Droitwich Council canal sub-committee for two years when it was discovered all the spoil from the M5 Motorway construction was going to be used to destroy both the canals and dumping started. Fortunately, the new town architect Gwillym Rees and chief engineer Tony Hartshorne had been won over to restoration by an IWA conference at Birmingham University which I chaired including a day trip on members’ boats for their children. Dumping was stopped but not until the canal through the town had been infilled. Getting frustrated by the slow progress and bumbling bureaucracy, Worcester Birmingham Canal Society volunteers arranged a 10th March 1971 work party ( 200 years from the opening ) to start removing the dead elm trees. We just got carried away, removing over 1,000 trees and selling the firewood to purchase plant and chain saw fuel over the next two years. This continued until October 1973 when the Canals Trust was formed at a public meeting attended by Robert Aickman and we were granted a long restoration lease. I was elected Chairman and years later, Life President. Shortly after we had the magnificent clearance weekend when over a thousand Waterway Recovery Group volunteers striped a great length of the invisible canal to the amazement of the locals, many who had never seen that they had a waterway.

RIGHT: The Big Dig at Porters Mill in 1973.

| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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LEFT: Boating on the newly-reopened Droitwich Junction Canal. BELOW: Vesta – restored to cruising condition by Max – at the 1969 National at Stratford.

ABOVE: The first working party on the Droitwich Canals in 1971. LEFT: Mud, glorious mud – Lock 4 on the Barge Canal, 1978.

We started the enormous task of dredging 300,000 tons of spoil using restored drag lines and a First World War designed narrow gauge railway laid over one mile long sections. I had served my National Service in the Royal Engineers sharing a hut with a Lt Everard who had become the Western Command Brigadier, and was persuaded that civil engineering and building lockgates from firewood oaks at Chepstow was good practice. Crumbling Barge Locks were rebuilt often in the most dreadful conditions as the whole canal was filled with Droitwich sewage. A council bowling green was built in Vines Park partly destroying a section of the navigation. We had to purchase additional land, partially losing out on derelict land grants. In addition to much earlier development on the canal line, house builders Persimmon Homes were allowed to further block the canal, albeit a bridge was built over the adjacent river that as compensation could facilitate navigation. I think that IWA can claim to have saved from destruction this lovely, historically important navigation with the magnificent help of a team of hard working navvies who after forty years are reducing in numbers. On the canals I saved Gifford, and Lady Hatherton from fire and restored Vesta and Ballinger to cruising condition. We won the best amateur conversion of Vesta at the

Stratford 1964 National Rally where we led the Queen Mother into the Bancroft Basin in a magnificent atmosphere. Reviving traditional working boat decoration, we enthused other owners to adopt the style rather than the dull sombre schemes used in the 1950s. Researching 1770s history, I realised that the experimental work Brindley undertook on his locks had been neglected. He built a trial lock in the grounds of his home, New Hall Stafford, sadly demolished, so he had some misgivings. I have the invoices for the construction of the canal, ranging from a large ball of twine for laying out the digging route, to drinks for the workmen. I have photographed every stage of restoration and have a fine collection of the sailing barges and their documents when they regularly carried up to 115 tons of salt to the English and French coasts. I was fortunate to have such capable fellow trustees, including Nick Grazebrook who was an excellent legal secretary, often fighting difficult cases. Ian Bruce, engineer, organised work parties, Bruce Osborne (Cadbury-Schweppes) had good fundraising schemes including the beautiful bronze medallions which raised a lot of money. The brick laying skills of members blossomed toiling away at replacing the thousands of damaged bricks, and our lockgate building workshop at Ladywood was producing fine low cost structures which could have supplied all the canals’ needs. With more support I’m sure the restoration could have been completed years ago, but I am glad to have survived to see the Droitwich Canals navigable once again.

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PEARLS OF WISDOM FROM BORIS History sometimes has a funny way of repeating itself. Hands up those who remember the drought year of 1976. That was back in the Stalinist days of British Waterways, when entire sections of the cut were closed overnight with no consultation with anyone. The then Government famously appointed Dennis Howells as Minister for Drought, an appointment that caused much Press smirking and the labelling of Mr Howells as “a baggy-panted ex-football referee”. Nevertheless, irrespective of the bagginess or otherwise of Mr Howells’s nether garments, within days of his appointment the heavens opened and a deluge began. This spring a similar situation arose so far as a drought is concerned, but with the difference that Boris Johnson, not noted for bagginess, entered the fray with an article in The Daily Telegraph during mid-June calling for long-term measures to be taken (“It’s the drought we need to think about” he abjured us). The timing was opportune, what with the imminent arrival on the scene of the New Waterway

Charity, and a possible revival of an ancient campaign by this Association. For Mr Johnson reveals that Professor Falconer of Cardiff University “has been looking at all sorts of proposals for improving our current network of canals so as to integrate them into the water supply… I believe we might even go further, and retrieve J.F. Pownall’s magnificent 1942 plan for a Grand Contour Canal, which would follow the 310ft contour of the hills all the way from the Scottish borders to the South East.” Boris deals with the inevitable water company objections in typical style; they sound “like tripe to me, and I am glad to say that Prof Falconer agrees”. His persuasive advocacy of our cause continues “A canal is a beautiful thing, and if we have to expand the current network with some new stretches, then we should not expect the nimby frenzy you get with a new road or a highspeed railway”. I take it that Boris is not too-well informed on matters in the Cotswolds in this respect. He concludes with the news that “Prof Falconer and

other experts will be having a conference later this year… to discuss a water grid. Their ideas need careful thought, but I like what I hear.” Needless to say, I read this article in an hotel in Bournemouth gazing at torrential rain.

AQUATIC COMMUTERS IN PARIS As if this were not enough, the following day the Telegraph ran a story about French plans to provide an aquatic commuter service along the Seine for Paris. “The service has been modelled on Thames Clippers and Thames River taxis, partially-subsidised services that carry passengers from Putney to Woolwich Arsenal pier. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has promised to turn Thames river travel into ‘a truly integral, as well as an extremely pleasant, part of our transport network’”.

WEST COUNTRY SUCCESS STORIES Quite possibly the term “crazy and magnificent” could apply to the rapidlyevolving scheme for restoring the Wilts & Berks Canal, for the Western Daily Press’s report of early May told us that “Today, for the first time in 97 years, a boat will journey down the Wilts & Berks Canal after years of fundraising and backbreaking effort by a hardy group of volunteers.” At first glance readers might be tempted to think that the waterway was once more open from Abingdon to Semington, but in fact the reopened section is a two-mile length in Wiltshire between Pewsham and Reybridge. This is itself a most praiseworthy effort, and as the Canal Trust’s chairman is reported as


saying “Only a few years ago there were still some people who said we were trying to achieve the impossible…They claimed it would place an intolerable burden on local taxpayers. But we managed to repair and restore this wonderful piece of our industrial heritage almost entirely through our own fundraising efforts, together with generous donations from local businesses and the kind support of local There has landowners.” been much media-generated mirth at the concept of “The Big Society”, but this, as with so many other IWAinspired projects, is surely a practical demonstration of how such a concept can work. The next issue of the paper carried a picture of a small boat navigating the restored

length and concluded “The Wilts & Berks Trust has a long way to go before boats from the national network will be able to travel through such places…but say they are determined to carry on their good work.” Amen to that. Finally the paper published a pleasant colour picture of a boat passing through Maunsel

Lock on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal on Easter Monday. Nothing special in that you may say, but some of us can remember when the B&T was considered a basket case navigation by all except IWA, especially the South Western Branch. Now it is an important part of the West Country leisure scene.

TURKISH DELIGHT I have received items from Western parts, where the Western Daily Press told the world in April that “Turkey reveals plan for new 30-mile canal”. The item went on to say “Turkey is to build a ‘crazy and magnificent’ canal to bypass the tanker-clogged Bosphorus in a massive feat of engineering. The waterway, to be named ‘Canal Istanbul’ would link the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, which leads to the Aegean Sea”. I am not sure from where the phrase “crazy and magnificent” originates, but I rather like it, and can think of a number of British waterwayrelated schemes to which this might apply. No prizes offered for suggestions though!

| IWA waterways - Autumn 2011

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Cuttings Please Send all your waterway cuttings to David Blagrove at IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

CRUISEWAY STATUS AT LAST And while in the South, in April The Newbury Weekly News published a touching obituary for Wyn Gould, who died during that month aged 95. She was, said the paper “a tireless supporter of the campaign begun by her husband John and a small group of enthusiasts to prevent the Kennet & Avon Canal from closure and to bring it back to life.” It was a sad coincidence that the day she died was the same day in April that the legal status of the K&A was raised to “Cruiseway” throughout. Since it’s reopening in 1990 the greater part was still classified as “Remainder” under the Transport Act, 1968. Both John and Wyn would doubtless have been pleased to learn from the BBC local radio in April that at long last an outbreak of sense seems to have taken hold of the Environment Agency for its website recorded “Community groups and developers have been invited to set up hydro-power schemes on River Thames weirs. The Environment Agency (EA) has teamed up with Windsor and Maidenhead council in Berkshire to look for schemes at Marlow, Boveney and Boulters weirs. Work is already under way to generate electricity at Osney and Goring weirs in Oxfordshire.”

The Kennet & Avon Canal at . Hungerford – a ‘cruiseway’ at last

HYDRO-ELECTRIC FUTURE Which brings me back to our old friend The Yorkshire Post, for in late March it revealed the “Plans for a £1.7m scheme to build a hydro-electric plant on the River Don in South Yorkshire have been unveiled by British Waterways. The scheme, which engineers said would also include a ‘fish and canoe pass’, is a joint project with a private firm…and is planned for the river at Sprotborough.” Furthermore we learn that “Money earned from the electrical power generated will be spent on maintaining Yorkshire’s 200-year old network of canals and rivers”. In late May the Post reported that the scheme had been approved by the planning authority and that another scheme was afoot for a similar installation in Sheffield. Such a scheme seems eminently sensible to me. It is not new; mills at Newbury and on the Thames were used for generating power to move their own machinery and to sell back the surplus to the grid over fifty years ago, while Goring Mill is stated by Fred Thacker in his monumental History of the Thames as being a generating station for electric launch batteries over a century ago. It may be small-scale, but the water may be used many times over. Also it is unobtrusive and must surely be preferable to covering the countryside with windmills.


ALL HUMAN LIFE... ON THE INLAND WATERWAYS I cannot let this quarter pass without reference to the enormous sheaf of extracts from (of course) The Yorkshire Post. Once again, all Human Life is there, from Culture (”Thousands flock to new Hepworth gallery…The largest purpose-built gallery to open in Britain for the past 50 years…set in the waterfront area of Wakefield on the banks of the River Calder), to Adventure (“It’s cold and damp and mucky, water is dripping from the arched stone roof just above our heads…No wonder people claim it is haunted. Welcome to the Standedge Tunnel.”). But In view of the current and imminent changes in the administration of the waterways, I can only conclude with a reference to a fullpage article in the Post during May, which perhaps foreshadows things to come. “The narrowboat…looks like any other pleasure craft cruising on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal until it suddenly veers across to a tree-lined bank and slows to a halt, then two men start to prune the overhanging branches with pairs of loppers. Further along the canal is a lock known as Dowley Gap, where the lock gates have clearly not been maintained for many a year. But now they are being spruced up for summer, not by British Waterways staff but by volunteers”. To be fair the article goes on to describe another volunteer scheme operating in Wensleydale with buses, but it is surely a sign of the age in which we, for better or worse, live. IWA was in many ways a pioneer of the “Big Society” concept; we should not lose the initiative.

field Narrow Canal.

Standedge Tunnel on the Hudders

IWA waterways - Autumn 2011 |

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The Winter 2011 issue of Waterways will be published in November 2011. Editorial closing date is 27th September 2011.

Do you have something to say about IWA or Waterways? It’s your magazine so please write and tell us your views. We will aim to publish responses to letters that ask questions about any aspect of IWA policy or decision-making. Please write to The Editor, Waterways, c/o IWA, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA or e-mail

( Star Letter (

WILDLIFE RESPONSES I thoroughly enjoyed your feature on waterway wildlife in the last issue of Waterways. It was good to see such a topic covered within the magazine. If I have a criticism – and I appreciate that you only had a limited number of pages at your disposal – it is that you did not stress the threat to our indigenous wildlife being posed by invasive species. I will give just three examples but there are many: Canada geese whose numbers are increasing annually; the American signal crayfish which continues to wreak havoc by consuming almost everything it encounters – plants, invertebrates, small fish, snails etc; and the American mink which has decimated the water vole population in recent years. Full marks to the Wildlife Trusts who are working hard to ensure the survival of the water vole and other endangered species.

Russell Hall, Retford, Nottinghamshire *********************************************************** What a lovely selection of photographs accompanied your article on waterway wildlife. I thought you might like to see mine, taken at Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal in early May. It shows two proud parents with 16 adorable ducklings – surely a record number of offspring! Whether all will survive is of course extremely doubtful, but when I returned to the same spot a couple of weeks later they were all still there. Waterways is an excellent magazine – keep up the good work!

Dyan Lancaster, Eccleshall, Staffordshire

Quite a brood: 16 ducklings starting out on life on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

PRAISE FOR NWC RESPONSE I read with interest your response to the Government’s consultation document for the National Waterways Charity (Summer Waterways). My congratulations to all involved as I found your response clear, easy to understand and raising important issues needing to be considered in a well-balanced, informative prose. Should the NWC be established with all the issues raised by the IWA fully addressed, then it will have every opportunity to develop and improve such a unique national treasure as our waterways.

Brian Cave,Via e-mail Further thoughts on the National Thank you for publishing my letter in the Summer issue of Waterways regarding your earlier report on the upcoming IWA National Festival & Boat Show. I fully understand and agree with your response that there is a need to attract as wide an audience as possible but that was not the issue. My concern was the lack of any mention of waterway restoration or of the equally important work of volunteers on existing waterways in any of the promotional material that IWA issues for this important national event each year. Yes, of course you must keep “ . . . over 350 boats . . . chandlery . . . bands and other entertainment . . . real ale . . . fairground rides . . . WOW activities for children” and, I will

concede, even the “home-made sweets.” But potential visitors to the IWA National Festival & Boat Show, who may well currently have little or no knowledge of inland waterways or what makes them unique, should surely also be told that at the show they can see how the inland waterways are constantly being restored, extended and improved (and in some cases even maintained) by volunteers all over the country?

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Waterways Autumn 2011  

The Magazine of The Inland Waterways Association

Waterways Autumn 2011  

The Magazine of The Inland Waterways Association