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waterways Keeping Our Waterways Alive

Summer 2009 | ISSUE 224

WHO NEEDS AN ENGINE? Canoeing on canals


Restoration special Events 2009 All the rallies and festivals

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News & Views From around the network

Get Dirty with WRG Summer canal camp programme

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No.1 For Brokerage and Sales • • • • • •

Large selection of Narrowboats in stock Four page colour brochure on every boat we sell Each boat has its own web page on our web site Our marina is centrally located and easy to reach Our sales staff are dedicated, professional and friendly We have over 400 satisfied customers a year who use our brokerage service

Free valuation anywhere on the waterways system Turn your boat into cash as we buy them too! New Sales Office now open at Wigrams Turn Marina. Telephone: (01926) 815333

Email: MARINA OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK Telephone: (01327) 842577 Fax: (01327) 843964 Whilton Locks, Nr Daventry, Northants, NN11 2NH whilton copy.indd 1

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National Chairman’s Column


I wrote last time of the impact of the recession and the ongoing funding crisis facing our waterways. Our hope is that the updating of the Waterways for Tomorrow document, accompanied by some hard facts about the tremendous benefits that each pound of support from users and government brings to the local and national economy, will help to secure long term stable funding. However, this may take some years to establish. The case for the waterways does not appear to be a hard concept to sell and the funding sought from their ‘owner’, the State, is relatively modest when compared to other demands. It is a particularly convincing case when benefits of 15 to 30 times are measured from the result of every pound of support. Despite this position, the consequences of under funding remain as they have for many years. Unlike the early days of our campaigning, there are no calls today to fill in or close waterways. However, those which are navigable are under-funded and there seems no appetite within central government’s policies to expand the network through actively supporting restoration rather than merely not hampering it. The challenge of restoration is being taken up by many restoration groups and the more encouraging signs come when this is in partnership with local authorities and the whole community. I encourage users of BW waterways to attend one of the 14 customer forums outlined on page 8 or to pass on your views to your local branch contact so that they can be raised. I would expect these to be interesting meetings, past ones have been. Struggling waterway businesses include pubs, long used to the challenges of operating in a classically seasonal market. Some sections of waterway are impacted by the fact that around 40 pubs are closing every week so a previously popular pub appearing in waterway guide books and acting as a destination for a walk or cruise is found to be closed. Perhaps this is a consequence of the survival of the fittest principle, which is apt when the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth is being celebrated, but the situation is not helped when large pub groups ultimately own so many pubs with licensees working hard to pay unrealistic rents that do not reflect the current market situation. Let us not forget the good news, reported elsewhere in this issue, that the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal’s breach has been repaired and the canal is reopened, the Liverpool Link is open and the restoration of the Droitwich Canals is proceeding well so should usable by next year. The Olympic site is the focus of much work that will leave a lasting waterway legacy. The increase in overseas visitors to our waterways that I predicted in the last issue seems to be borne out by recent figures from hire operators.

Contents 6



News and views from around the waterway network

Help the Waterway Recovery Group this summer

36 Cuttings

What the press have had to say about the world of the waterways

A round up of this year’s major rallies and festivals

Readers’ letters

Who’s who at The Inland Waterways Association

14 Get Dirty 38 Events with WRG

41 Inbox 18 Restoration Update 44 Directory

From the Liverpool Link, the Grantham Canal and the Fens Waterway Link

24 Who needs an engine?

Go canoeing on the canals and rivers

Which canals are being restored and when will they reopen


28 Waterways of the Future WATERWAYS EDITOR: Keith Goss Tel: 01283 742951 E-mail:

ADVERTISING DESIGN: Jill Brown E-mail: ADVERTISING PRODUCTION: Samantha Lloyd E-mail: EDITORIAL BOARD: Gillian Smith, Jo Gillbertson, Neil Edwards, Keith Goss, Peter Johns REPROGRAPHICS: Waterways World Ltd, 151 Station Street, Burton-onTrent, Staffordshire, DE14 1BG. Printed in England by Warners (Midlands) PLC, Bourne, Lincs l Articles may be reproduced provided permission is obtained and acknowledgement made. ISSN 0969-0654

Clive Henderson

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, Operations & Information Systems Manager – David Forrester Finance Manager – Helen Elliott-Adams IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in Waterways but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated, otherwise the Association 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. l

Robin Smithett

ART EDITOR: Liane Hunt ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER: Tony Preston Tel: 01283 742965 E-mail:

COVER PICTURE: Canoeists look on as a hire boat enters Ashford Tunnel on the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal – which is now once again open throughout.

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CHANDLERY We offer a wide and ever expanding range of products with a fitting service available

BOATYARD SERVICES For surveying, blacking, painting and repairs. Mechanical and electrical work to the highest standard.

DAYBOAT HIRE Enjoy a trip on the picturesque Oxford canal for groups of up to 12.

HIRE FLEET Our well known 21 boat hire fleet is independently inspected by Visit Britain. Boats are available for short breaks, weekly hire – or longer!

Rose Narrowboats Ltd Fosse Way Stretton-under-Fosse Nr Rugby, Warwickshire CV23 0PU 01788 832449 4 / IWA WATERWAYS / Summer 2009

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Mon & Brec Open Again Following 18 months of repair work following a serious breach at Gilwern, the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal is once again open throughout. At a ribbon cutting ceremony – part of a family fun day - at Goytre Wharf, near Abergavenny on 29th March, Waterways Minister Huw IrrancaDavies declared the canal officially open. Also present were Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri

Morgan and British Waterways’ general manager Julie Sharman. “This waterway is an important feature of the local community,” said Ms Sharman. “After 18 challenging months, and an investment of £8.5m, we are delighted to stage this celebration to thank the local communities for their patience and support during a difficult spell in the canal’s history.”

Brecon’s Theatre Basin on the fully reopened Brecon & Abergavenny Canal.

Bridgewater Canal Change Effective from 1st April, the Bridgewater Canal is now being operated independently of the Manchester Ship Canal Company by a new Peel (Land and property) Company, The Bridgewater Canal Company Limited. Peel Holdings state that the restructuring of the Bridgewater Canal “will give greater autonomy to the new

company ensuring that they can invest in the long term future of the historic waterway “. The new contact details for the company are: The Bridgewater Canal Company Limited, Peel Dome, The Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8PL (Tel: 0161 629 8334, www.

Cromford Canal Works The Cromford Canal is to benefit from an £850,000 improvement and repairs works programme. The work will include renovating the footbridge at Whatstandwell railway station, structural repairs to retaining walls on the canal, tree felling to encourage more wildlife and repairs to the boiler at the ancient Leawood pump house. Derbyshire County Council has secured a grant of over £400,000 from the East Midlands Development Agency to carry out the work. This is to be combined with £279,000 from the council and money from Network Rail and canal volunteers, to allow the extensive maintenance programme to begin. A section of the canal towpath is currently closed as investigations take place at the railway aqueduct.

IWA Award for David Drew

Green Light for G&S lights

IWA has given its 2009 award for ‘Parliamentarian of the Year’ to David Drew, MP for Stroud. The award was made at an exclusive dinner at the House of Commons on 31st March, held on behalf of IWA and hosted by Bob Laxton MP. Also in attendance were the Waterways Minister, Huw IrrancaDavies MP and Anne McIntosh MP, Shadow Minister, as well as many leading MPs from all the major parties. All the MPs present had made significant contributions to the well-being of the waterways during the past year, and there were several leading contenders for the prestigious award. In Presenting the Award to David Drew, Clive Henderson, national chairman of IWA said : “David has shown dogged determination not to let severe difficulties and setbacks cause a major strategic restoration within his constituency to falter, and has given support and guidance to his local authority and local trust, and helped rescue what might initially have seemed a lost cause. He has attended all the

The traffic light system for the movable bridges on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal was switched off in November 2007 following research which suggested that there were fewer accidents at road traffic junctions not controlled with lights, as people took greater care for their own safety. This move proved unpopular with regular users of the canal who complained that turning off the control lights had in fact had a negative impact on water safety. Furthermore, it was regarded by many as merely a cost-cutting exercise on the canal on the part of BW. However, following an investigation by Tony Stammers, BW’s Head of Health & safety, it was agreed that turning off the lights had not improved safety and they were restored to use on 2nd March. Reinstatement of the bridge control lights on the canal was welcomed by IWA Gloucester & Hereford branch chairman Martin Turner, who had campaigned vigorously for that outcome. He also expressed satisfaction that explanatory literature concerning the use of the lights had been improved, with an agreed system put in place to stop boaters jumping the red lights.

adjournment debates, and worked furiously behind the scenes to bring many elements together, being a willing ear to IWA concerns. He has also been generous in his support of the waterways in general, by chairing the two select committee investigations into British Waterways, the reports from which have helped inform the debate on the future of the waterways and funding, and in doing so promoted waterways in the minds of Parliament and ministers; he has not just helped support the cause of the Cotswold Canals restoration, but of all waterways in general.” David Drew receiving his award from national chairman Clive Henderson.

Roving Moorings Plan Dropped British Waterways has abandoned plans to trial ‘roving’ mooring permits on the Kennet & Avon Canal. The controversial scheme had been suggested to free boaters without a permanent mooring from the restrictions of a continuous cruising licence. It would have allowed them, on payment of a premium on their licence, to moor within a limited area. The trial was to have been undertaken on the stretch of the K&A between Devizes and Bath. However, the scheme met with strong opposition when it was announced in a consultation document last year and BW has put the plans on hold indefinitely, both on the K&A and on the wider network.

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summer NEWS Droitwich Marina Plan

2009 Annual General Meeting

In accordance with Article 71 of IWA’s Articles of Association, notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Association will be held on Saturday 26th September 2009 at 2pm.  The venue for the meeting will be at the Council Chamber, Milton Keynes Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3HQ. Full details of the meeting will be provided in the next edition of Waterways. Nominations to stand as an elected trustee should be received at IWA’s Head Office (addressed

to the Company Secretary) at least 85 days before the date of the AGM (ie by Friday 3rd July). In accordance with Article 43, any member can submit a nomination, which should be accompanied by confirmation from the nominee that they are willing to be elected as a trustee of the Association.  Nominations should be accompanied by a brief biography, autobiography or statement not exceeding 400 words, for publication as part of any ballot paper with the notice convening the AGM to be issued with the next edition of Waterways.

With construction work on the Droitwich Junction Canal virtually complete, Wychavon District Council has approved plans for a 238-berth marina on land adjacent to the canal at Westfield Farm, off Hanbury Road. Planning approval was given, subject to the resolution of some minor concerns expressed by the Environment Agency, and work is expected to start almost immediately so that the marina is ready when the canal opens next spring.

Your IWA Needs You! Many of IWA’s longstanding region chairmen have announced that they intend to retire from their posts this year. IWA is, as a consequence, looking for ‘new blood’ to replace them. As a result of the changes in IWA’s structure, region chairmen will, in future, be directly elected by the members of the regions that they will represent, by postal ballot to be issued in the August edition of Waterways magazine. Applications are requested from any IWA member who would be willing to be elected to the position of region chairman, by 3rd July. Applicants need to get another member in the region to write in with a nomination (there is no set wording) to the Chief Executive at Head Office, IWA, Island

House, Moor Road , Chesham, HP5 1WA; and state which particular region is being stood for, and submit a short supporting statement of not more than 400 words. IWA is looking for dynamic, enthusiastic leaders who have a passion for the waterways and who are able to provide inspiration, motivation and support to branches and members. An ability to manage and coordinate activities in their region is also required. Region chairmen are automatically ex-officio trustees of the Association, and will be required to undertake the duties inherent with that position, including participation in strategy and policy formulation, and the attendance of at least seven

Community payback on the GU

Saturday meetings per year. Good communication skills are therefore essential, and the availability of broadband communications facilities are also desirable. Terms of office will vary initially between one and three years, although no region chairman should normally hold office for longer than six years continuously. If you would like to discuss the possibility of standing as a region chairman, please contact Neil Edwards, chief executive, on 01494 783 453 or Clive Henderson, national chairman, on 01564 783 672 for an informal conversation. The full procedures for election of region chairmen and region byelaws etc are available at IWAGoverningDocuments.

Offenders on community orders are to be put to work clearing the towpath along the Grand Union Canal. The Community Payback Initiative was launched in Hayes on 26th February by the Mayor of Hillingdon and will be used as an example of best practice to show other London boroughs how their local environment could benefit from the scheme. The project involves offenders removing rubbish, foliage and cleaning up graffiti from the canal area which will open up the towpaths and make it a more pleasant area for residents to enjoy. London Probation is working closely with Hillingdon Council to make sure the project is completed to the council’s specifications. British Waterways London is supporting the scheme by providing floating hoppers to allow for easy transportation of rubbish and foliage cleared by offenders.

IWA’s ‘Lionel Munk’ Award goes Green IWA is to support ‘The Green Blue’ environmental awareness initiative, by including environmental considerations in its prestigious ‘Lionel Munk Award’, which is made  to the boat builder who in addition to meeting the normal criteria for standards of comfort and construction, can also demonstrate what they have done to minimise environmental impact in their build. Boat builders entering for the award at the IWA National Festival this year, which is to be held over

August Bank Holiday weekend at Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire, will each be asked to submit a list of environmental measures that have been included in the build. Judges will then nominate five boats based on construction, design, value for money fit out, innovation, and these environmental considerations. The five nominees will each be handed a framed certificate for each boat to display during the show indicating that they are a

‘nominated boat’.  Clive Henderson, IWA’s National Chairman, said, “We are delighted to be able to support The Green Blue in this way. IWA believes that being more environmentally friendly starts with the boat builder introducing measures such as the use of timber from sustainable sources, eliminating water pollution from fuel and oil spills and using a hull design which reduces wash and propulsion energy.  A number of boat builders are already

introducing eco-measures into the build in response to growing demand from the boating public. By highlighting environmental measures through the award, IWA will demonstrate that improving boating sustainability is key to a sustainable future for the waterways”. For more information please contact Peter Bolt (IWA National Festival Awards Officer) on 0151 678 9300 or e-mail peter.bolt@

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Major Award for Foxton A number of well-deserving projects have won honours at this year’s Waterways Renaissance Awards, run by The Waterways Trust and British Urban Regeneration Association. The ten categories of entry saw a diverse range of projects recognised for their achievements in revitalising the inland waterways. An award for Outstanding

Achievement (Historic Environment Category) went to the Foxton Locks and Inclined Plane project: a well-deserved accolade after five years of development of the 20-acre historic site beside the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal which has become a key regional tourism destination. The five-year project costing £3.8m was led by British

Waterways on behalf of the Foxton Locks Partnership, and involved the installation of new viewing areas and upgrading 3 kilometres of paths. Additional interpretation panels were put in place and there were substantial engineering works too, including refurbishment of the bottom canal basin, clearing and re-profiling of the inclined plane slope, and relining and rewatering of 200 metres of the upper canal arm. The site has also benefited from a new pub/ restaurant, café, improved road access and more extensive car parking. Other winners included the Montgomery Canal Restoration – Aston Nature Reserve Extension (Natural Environment Category), Bringing the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Life, Chorley (Education & Learning) and Kirkintilloch Canal Festival 2008 (Recreation & Tourism).

Hydro-Electricity Power on BW Waterways British Waterways has announced that it is arranging £120 million of investment over the next three years in a project aimed at generating enough renewable energy to power thousands of homes. It has signed a partnership with The Small Hydro Company, which develops hydro-electricity installations. The new project plans to develop 25 hydro-electricity schemes along British Waterways’ network, including the Severn and the Trent. BW says that building the plants would create 150 construction jobs, and generate 210,000 mega watt hours of renewable energy a year, which would be enough to power about 40,000 homes and save 170,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Planning permission is being sought for the first five schemes, to be built next to weirs and dams on the Trent and on the rivers Aire, Ouse and Don in Yorkshire. BW said that it

was also exploring ways of harnessing hydropower on the Severn. Further energy may be generated from the supply of water into canals from some of BW’s 90 reservoirs. It is thought that waterways being considered for the scheme would be river navigations rather than canals, as these retain a natural flow. The project is to be funded with a £120 million investment from Climate Change Capital, a £1.1 billion investment fund focused on renewable energy technology. The cash will be spent over the next three years, installing turbine equipment and other infrastructure to generate and distribute about 40 megawatts of power, starting in 2010. Passages for fish will be built into the infrastructure where necessary. The Small Hydro Company will now start a programme of local consultation and will seek environmental

British Waterways Directors Seek Customer Views British Waterways directors Simon Salem (marketing & customer service), and Vince Moran (customer operations) are to host a series of customer forums with boaters, anglers, walkers, and other canal users. The regional meetings are intended for BW to give a brief update on financing and management issues affecting the waterways before answering questions and garnering customer views and opinions about waterway priorities. The 14 regional forums will take place between May and September and follow similar sessions held by BW chief executive Robin Evans last year. The first meeting is scheduled to take place at Crick Boat Show on 24th May.  The full list of events will be available on BW’s website: meetings.

Gunthorpe Weir on the River Trent.

and planning consents, with the aim of having the first schemes running in 2010 to help meet the government’s 2010 hydro renewable targets. BW announced in 2008 a plan to use riverbanks to build 50 wind turbines that would have the capacity to generate 100

megawatts of renewable electricity. Any income generated from these schemes would be reinvested in the maintenance of the waterways. About 40 per cent of the United Kingdom’s renewable electricity is provided by hydropower but there have been few large schemes constructed since the 1980s.

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Summer NEWS Planning Controversy IN BRIEF at Oldbury Widespread local concern remains regarding recent unauthorised infilling in an historic Black Country canal basin, the base for Les Allen the BCN boat-builder in the latter half of the 20th century. Haulage firm Joseph Holloway Ltd, which used to operate canal boats as well as lorry haulage, was told to stop work at Valencia Wharf, Churchbridge, Oldbury, after piling rubble into it without permission. The firm has applied for permission to continue the work. It wishes to fill in the canal basin with crushed concrete, brick hardcore and stone, so that it can add an extra 5,000 sq ft of lorry parking space at the company’s premises. The application states that filling in the basin will add much needed space for manoeuvring and parking lorries and trailers, making vehicle movements safer and more efficient. There will be no increase

in vehicle numbers as a result and the mouth of the basin will remain as an historical feature, according to the report. This has sparked protests from canal enthusiasts including IWA, the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society and the Residential Boat Owners Association who want to see the site, which dates back to 1769, preserved as a tourist attraction whilst continuing to maintain canal heritage. Waterway interests are concerned that planners may allow, subject to conditions, the canal basin to be filled in with ecologically safe materials, and that the firm’s application for permission to continue the work would be recommended for approval. However, it is understood that a decision on the application has been deferred pending an inspection visit by Sandwell MBC councillors.

Grand Western Improvements Devon County Council, which owns and manages the Grand Western Canal Country Park, has allocated £375,000 capital funding over the next four years, for works on culverts and the creation of a reed bed. A total of £335,000 is earmarked for comprehensive surveying, cleaning and repairs of the canal’s 30 culverts, most of which are siphon culverts with difficult vehicle access. The Council envisages that, due to the access issues, its bridge maintenance team will organise the majority of

Chris Daniels

Tiverton Canal Basin on the Grand Western Canal.

the cleaning using enclosed access teams rather than jetting machines. Meanwhile, some £40,000 has been earmarked for the creation of a new silt trap and reed bed system to reduce silt and nutrient inputs at a point where a stream enters the canal.  A separate capital bid for £240,000 for the construction of a new visitor centre at Tiverton Canal Basin has also been given approval, subject to evidence that the scheme is deliverable and that additional external funding can be obtained.

From 1st April a late payment charge of £150 has applied for any British Waterways boat licence which is more than one month out of date. In these instances BW will issue a revised renewal notice to the customer which will include the additional fee. The charge has been introduced in order to encourage boaters to renew their licence promptly, thereby improving BW’s ability to process payments. BW say the money generated from the late payment charge will be used to offset licence enforcement costs. The Broads Bill has now finished its passage through the Lord’s Select committee; it is expected that it will receive its third and final reading after the Easter parliamentary recess. Newly announced figures from British Waterways indicate that the number of people visiting BW waterways is up on last year. BW measures numbers of visitors in a typical two week period, which during 2008 rose over 6% from 3.2 million to 3.4 million people. Waterway users are also visiting more often with the number of individual visits rising 7% from 245.3 million in 2007 to 262.6 million in 2008. Visitor numbers are considered an important indicator of the value of the waterways as a local resource for communities up and down the country in discussions with central and local government regarding funding. The 22nd World Canals Conference will be based in Novi Sad, Serbia and will take place from 20th-27th September. The overall theme of the conference will be raising awareness and improving the economic performance of waterways, especially those in Eastern Europe and Asia. The 2009 updated version of the popular Launderette List has been produced by the Aylesbury Canal Society. It is, for the first time, available from IWA Sales, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA (01494 7834530) or visit The price is £4.50 including postage. Alternatively, copies may be obtained from the ‘welcome boat’ at Aylesbury Basin. British Waterways has installed anti-vandal paddles on locks 14,15,16 and 17 on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal. The locks are operated with a standard BW key. New moorings have been provided at the upstream limit of navigation on the Little Ouse. Managed by the Great Ouse Boating Association, the 48 hour moorings are situated at Santon Downham Bridge, some 161/2 miles above the river’s confluence with the Great Ouse.

Strabane Canal Closure Strabane Canal is likely to remain closed for at least another year. The gates of the canal have remained locked since 2007, when Strabane Council highlighted numerous flaws in the work carried out by Strabane Lifford Development Commission, the body tasked with completing the £1.3m restoration project; since then little progress has been made.The snag list includes the removal of an unstable ramp, loose stonework and repairs to drainage. The cost of bringing the project right up to standard could be as much as £300,000. Following a heated debate the Council has decided to await the results of an audit.

IWA WATERWAYS / summer 2009 / 09

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Trolley Talk

Save water on the K&A

According to British Waterways, it costs a total of £150,000 per annum for its staff to recover thousands of abandoned shopping trolleys from the nation’s canals and rivers. In a new ‘get tough’ policy, BW is calling to account the UK’s biggest retailers, and has opened a new trolley hotline to allow members of the public to report sightings of abandoned trolleys in the water. Information provided will be used to help recover trolleys, to map ‘hotspot’ areas, and to identify a league table of the nation’s least and most environmentally responsible retailers. As an incentive, BW will be presenting a ‘Golden Trolley’ award later in the year to the retailer showing best environmental management of its trolleys, while an ‘Off Your Trolley’ award will go to the least environmentally responsible retailer. To report abandoned trolleys in BW waters call the trolley hotline on 01923 201120 or visit

British Waterways has asked boaters to help conserve water on the Kennet & Avon Canal following a pump failure. The main water source for the canal is from an abstraction on the Avon near Claverton. This water is supplemented by a number of other smaller feeders along the 87 miles of the canal and is then recycled using a back pumping scheme.  A pump failure at Bradford-on- Avon, next to the most heavily used lock on the canal, and the largest pump in the chain, has led to the need to conserve water until the repairs can be carried out. BW operates two pumps at Bradford-on-Avon. With one of them out of use BW cannot get the water from below the lock pumped back up to the upper wharf as quickly as necessary. As well as sharing locks, boaters are asked to make sure that all lock paddles are fully lowered to prevent unnecessary leakage and that local signs and advice are followed.

Waterway Images

Bradford-on-Avon Lock.

Saturn at Frankton The Shropshire Union flyboat Saturn took part in a notable event at Frankton locks on the Montgomery Canal on 17th January when IWA’s Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch installed a plaque to commemorate the conversion of her fellow Shroppie fly-boat Cressy at Welsh Frankton in 1929. Cressy was, of course, subsequently made famous by the voyages of L.T.C. Rolt recorded in his book Narrow Boat. When the Shropshire Union company finished carrying in 1921 Cressy was bought from them

– among a number of boats - by millers A & A Peate of Maesbury on the Montgomery Canal, who continued using narrowboats until February 1934. Before this, however, Cressy was bought by John Beech, the boatbuilder who owned the Frankton dock, as a changeboat. Beech then converted her fitting a steam engine – and sold her to Tom Rolt’s uncle, Kyrle Willens. In 1939 she passed into Rolt’s hands and his well-documented life aboard her led to the writing of Narrow Boat, the book that was largely responsible for creating the

post-World War II revival of interest in the waterways and the founding of The Inland Waterways Association. The plaque – mounted on the towpath side tail wing wall of Lock 3 – was unveiled by Tom Rolt’s widow Sonia, an IWA vice president and one of the ‘Idle Women’ of wartime service fame on the canals. Sonia gave an interesting speech and later wanted to get aboard Saturn and into what were to her the familiar surroundings of a back cabin. With the assistance of Sue and Mike Lambourne, who now

own the original boatyard site, it was possible to photograph Saturn in exactly the same location as Cressy was pictured when she came off the dock 80 years ago. The occasion was further enhanced by the presence of Crick and Hope Grundy. The Grundy family were pioneer IWA campaigners and kept their original cruiser at Frankton. Crick and his late brother Martin were among the very last people to navigate Frankton Locks before they became derelict, whilst Hope worked on Saturn during her hotel boat days.

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INL AND WATERWAYS FREIGHT Please send any news and views on inland waterways freight to David Hilling c/o IWA Head Office

LOSS OF COASTAL BULK SHIPPING IWA’s Freight Group has always adopted the view that Britain’s domestic waterborne freight should be considered as an integrated whole, embracing inland, coastal and short-sea shipping. Indeed, the distinction is often far from clear – the Thames barge or the Severn trow often appeared in all three roles as did the operators of smaller river-sea ships.  The advent of the river-sea ship with its full sea-going capability but dimensions facilitating penetration of inland waterways was purposeful recognition of the logic of combining the functional roles. The number of river-sea ships increased dramatically and they are to be seen in ports large and small, coastal and inland. British firms became involved in the building of such ships (Cockrane, Selby; Cook, Wivenhoe; Yorkshire Drydock, Hull) and operating them. At a peak, over 20 companies  operated short-sea ships including names such as Crescent, Carisbrook, Everard, Lapthorn, Rix, Union Transport, Whitaker and Willie. The number of builders and operators declined greatly in recent years.  Lapthorn’s ‘Hoo’ fleet of low-profile ships, mainly at the smaller end of the scale at 1,200 to 1,400  deadweight, could be seen at Thames wharves, in London’s docks, at Trent wharves and ports such as Littlehampton, Fowey and Mistley to name but a few. Until December 2008 the former Lapthorn ships, most of them shorn of their distinctive ‘Hoo’ prefix names, had been acquired and were being operated by Coastal Bulk Shipping and it is with great sadness that this company has now ceased trading, citing problems deriving from reduced demand, weakness of sterling and inherited pension fund liabilities.

ECONOMIC CRISIS On many European waterways (Rhine, Mosel, Neckar, Elbe, Danube) 2008 was a good year but our suggestion (Waterways, Spring 2008) that 2009 could  be a ‘significant’ year might well be true but for the wrong reasons!  In European inland shipping circles, including Britain, there is growing concern regarding the likely adverse effect of the global economic crisis on the demand for  waterborne freight. On some waterways, the Rhine in particular,  there is considerable containerised general cargo traffic but this seems likely to decline. Indicative of a wider trend was a reported 16% fall in Felixstowe’s  January 2009 year-by-year traffic. On many waterways, and certainly those of the UK, a high proportion of traffic  comprises construction materials of various types – aggregates, cement, steel sections, timber – and the building industry has already showed marked decline. It seems quite possible that 2009 will not show the increases in traffic that might otherwise have been expected and we can but hope that Olympic site traffic really does expand rapidly to make up for a drop elsewhere.   A transformer being loaded onto the Green Hannah at Tilbury.

CARRY ON LOBBYING It is good to learn that both the Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) and Freight by Water (ex Sea & Water) have been busy lobbying. In the case of CBOA, jointly with British Waterways, two senior officials of the DfT’s Freight and Logistics Division were taken to inspect aspects of water freight activity in the Yorkshire region. At Whitwood, Lafarge staff were on hand for the arrival and start of unloading of 450 tonnes of aggregates from the Trent, whilst at Castleford there was the opportunity to discuss lock instability problems. The visitors were then taken to Leeds to see the site at which trial barge shipments of steel sections from a Trent wharf were unloaded for ASD Metal Services which is keen to continue using water transport but with problems of wharf provision at Stourton. On a second day there were visits to oil terminals at Fleet and Rotherham Also during March, Francis

Power, the executive director of Freight by Water, and acting chairman Mike Garratt had a “highly constructive” meeting with the shipping minister, Mr Jim Fitzpatrick MP. Issues raised included the lack of acknowledgement of the potential of waterborne freight across the DfT and the lack of resources currently available for BW’s maintenance of its commercial waterways. The minister agreed to encourage greater emphasis on use of water transport by the sustainable freight team and in response to the low take-up of grants for water freight asked FbW to submit members ideas for a more user-friendly mechanism for ‘buying lorry miles off the road’. After 15 months as chairman of FbW, Mike Garratt has stood down and his place has been taken by Tim Lowry. FbW’s new offices are at 35/37 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W OBS, telephone 020 7953 4042.

HERE AND THERE… On the Manchester Ship Canal 75 tonnes of paving slabs were taken by barge from Liverpool to Salford Quays for surfacing on the Media City UK site – a development to house creative and digital activities including the BBC. This, like the King’s Place, London, development demonstrates the logic of using water transport for construction sites alongside waterways. It is reported that 400 containers will be moved on the MSC this year.

On the Thames the Green Barge Company’s Green Hannah has been used to transport a 250-tonne transformer from Tilbury to Bow Creek close to the destination site at a West Ham electricity substation. The Green Hannah returned with the transformer that had been replaced. Again the use of barges for abnormal indivisible loads makes sense where the origins and destinations are adjacent to waterways. 

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Nene Dredging The Environment Agency used a giant crane to dredge the River Nene as part of a six-week clean-up operation to improve the town’s flood defences. The silt taken out of the Nene near the Carlsberg factory in Northampton was used to improve flood

defences in other areas of the town. Instead of removing the silt and sending it to landfill, workers put it onto barges and then transported it downriver before using it to shore up the raised earth flood defences near Bedford Road.

John Sully

Montgomery Guide

Lowering a new gate into place at Salters Lode in November last year.

Problems at Salters Lode Problems are still being experienced at Salters Lode Lock on the Middle Level Navigations in Norfolk. Although a new guillotine gate was lifted into position in mid November last year, the lock has remained closed since the commencement of the stoppage. Salters Lode is situated at the junction of Well Creek and the tidal Great Ouse and is unusual in that boats lock up and down through this gate into and out of the tidal river, with only a limited time

allowance either side of high tide. Its purpose is to control navigation to the tidal estuary, as well as providing flood protection to properties in the local area. A reopening of the lock had been scheduled to take place shortly before Christmas. However, once the new gate was in place, technical problems were discovered within the hydraulic operating mechanism. Contractors for the Middle Level Commissioners have been trying to rectify the problems since January.

Beastie Spotting on the Waterways British Waterways launched its sixth annual wildlife survey on 3rd April. Visitors to the waterways, whether aboard a boat or land based, are invited to go ‘beastie spotting’ and record sightings of anything seen, whether birds, mammals, fish, insects – indeed anything that moves! To help people get started, BW has produced a guide to what wildlife can be found along the nation’s canals and rivers, including information on bumblebees and tips on how to support them. BW ecologists, and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, will use the records of sightings to build up a comprehensive picture of those species that are doing well and ones which need support. Running alongside the survey is a photography and drawing competition for adults and children, with prizes up to £100 on offer. To find out more and to download a wildlife survey guide, visit

The Friends of the Montgomery Canal have compiled a guide giving advice on access for the disabled along the 35-mile length of the canal. The guide was produced as a result of an enquiry from a wheelchair user wanting to visit this part of mid Wales on holiday, and who wanted to see something of the canal whilst in the area. Designed with the assistance of British Waterwayss, the guide includes appropriate access information, along with suitable facilities located nearby. It may be downloaded from the ‘Friends’ section of the Montgomery Canal website at or is available, upon receipt of a large stamped address envelope, from Freda Davies, Villas Cottage, Hope, Welshpool SY21 8HF (Tel: 01938 552817).

Young Volunteers sought in the North West A new scheme has been announced to encourage young volunteers onto the canals of the North West. Set up by British Waterways and The Waterways Trust, the project aims to get young people to help out in four main areas: conservation; recording the natural environment; historic interpretation; and canal customer services. The work will cover the Shropshire Union, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Rochdale, Ashton and Leeds & Liverpool canals. Young volunteers will also be sought to assist at the National Waterways

Museum at Ellesmere Port. As well as the practical benefits resulting from the work, it is hoped that the scheme will change young people’s attitudes to waterways – as well as changing the attitude of waterway users to young people. The costs of setting up the project, thought to be in the region of £300,000, will be met by a grant from ’V’, the youth volunteering organisation, and the Bank of America. The initial grant is for a two year period, but it is confidently predicted that the initiative will continue beyond that time.

Burscough on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal – one of the waterways set to benefit from young volunteers.

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Keeping things simple. We don’t just supply Adverc Battery Management systems and alternator controllers. Our twenty-six years experience has gone into making life on-board easier. So let us show you how to get the best from a twin alternator set-up, for example. Just as important, why not integrate this into a ONEbox concept, having AC & DC consumer functions embracing a host of components: switches, breakers, fuses, solenoids, buss bars, split-charging, low voltage protection, an inverter and mains charger facility, even a galvanic isolator and DCM monitor. We make a range of standard systems but are just as happy to supply a bespoke version. Simply hook it up – job done! Reduce fitting out time by up to 75%, saving you money. We’ve done the hard work, saving hours spent in fitting out your boat and increasing reliability of on-board power systems.Other components in the system can feature:

Adverc Battery Management (with a 5 year warranty). After twenty-six years and approaching 20,000 unit sales, Adverc is still the simplest and most reliable alternator controller available. No gimmicks or fancy claims, just fast, effective, complete & safe battery charging. A must for twin alternator configurations. 5 year warranty and, of course, British made.

DCM MkIII Monitor. The most underated product in the Adverc portfolio. Simplicity itself, a unit which can check and diagnose faults in your charging system. It can save you fuel by informing you when to start and stop charging – no need for ampere-hours.

Galvanic Isolator.


Question: Do you need one?

A highly efficient DC-DC Charger. Suitable for charging auxiliary batteries from a donor battery when no mains power is available and the engine is running.

Answer: Only if you (and perhaps your neighbour) rely on shore-power to provide a mains supply on the boat and you wish to preserve your boat and perhaps your health! The easy way to tackle galvanic corrosion. 50 Amp rated. EC/73/23/ EEC, 89/336/EEC & ISO13297 compliant.

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Further details on all of the above are available on our website or give us a call for a hard copy Remember we also supply Alternators, Mains Chargers, Cables, Solar Panels, Batteries, Inverters, Combis, Low Voltage Protection and much more. Almost all of our equipment is British made, with an unrivalled twenty-six years of technical know-how and customer support always freely available. Adverc - worth that bit extra!

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Get dirty with WRG

Robin Smithett


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ooking back on 2008, Waterway Recovery Group had another very successful year with 1,200 volunteers contributing over 5,000 working days towards the restoration of the derelict canals of England and Wales. WRG ran over 20 week-long canal camps throughout the year, along with over 50 weekend digs being run by WRG’s regional groups around the country, from Sussex to Lancashire, Essex to Devon. An equally varied and exciting programme of camps has been scheduled for 2009. WRG’s canal camps are a unique volunteering opportunity and volunteers can learn new skills to improve and widen their future employment opportunities, such as bricklaying, the use of lime mortar and using specialist excavation and construction machinery, as well as taking the chance to be part of a team that really make a huge difference to the waterways. The price is £49 per person per week including food and accommodation.

Canal: Montgomery Canal Location: Shropshire Dates: 20th- 27th June; 27th June- 4th July Work: Last year WRG helped transplant and restore the aquatic vegetation of a new section of the canal. In 2009 work continues working on the next section of channel restoration and providing soft bank protection. Work may involve laying clay matting liner, in preparation for rewatering the next section of canal, or undertaking stone wall construction at Crickheath Wharf, the terminus for the next length of canal restoration.

Robin Smithett

Canal: Basingstoke Canal Location: Surrey Dates: 27th June- 4th July; 4th – 11th July Work: The Basingstoke Canal was constructed to continue the development of the agricultural trade of central Hampshire and Surrey. Construction of the canal took nearly six years, beginning in 1778 and included the building of 29 locks, as well as a 1,230-yard long tunnel through Greywell Hill. The canal eventually became derelict after many years of neglect but in the early 1970s restoration work began and now the canal is navigable again. Improvement work still continues on the canal and this year WRG will be involved in a multitude of tasks including the provision of a pipeline to provide the canals with a reliable water supply. Canal: Wilts & Berks Canal Location: Wiltshire Dates: 4th-11th July (Pewsham Lock); 25th July – 1st August (Seven Locks) Work: The Wilts & Berks is one of the most ambitious canal restoration projects in Britain. In July WRG will be returning to Seven Locks, to continue the restoration of the brick-built locks that carried the canal up a hillside west of Wootton Bassett. The summer also sees WRG

go to a brand new site at Pewsham Lock, with a wide variety of exciting work planned including a full lock clearance and rebuilding of a culvert under the canal! Canal: Cotswold Canals Location: Gloucestershire Dates: 11th- 18th July (Eisey Lock); 18th-25th July (Eisey Lock) 25th July – 1st August (Gough’s Orchard); 1st - 8th August (Gough’s Orchard); 8th15th August (Gough’s Orchard); 15th – 22nd August (Gough’s Orchard) Work: In 2009, WRG will continue the work started in 2008 with a major effort to restore Gough’s Orchard Lock. The work will utilise a wide variety of restoration skills, but will focus on rebuilding the lock walls, undertaking repairs to the lock bridge, towpath and landing stages and replacing the by-wash. After two years establishing the site at Eisey Lock, this year will see a complete rebuild of the main lock chamber walls and top cill - a fantastic chance to learn or improve your bricklaying skills!! Canal: Monmouthshire Canal Location: South Wales Dates: 11th-18th July; 18th- 25th July; 24th – 31st October Work: At Rogerstone, just outside Newport, the Crumlin Branch of the canal plunges down the hillside in the spectacular Fourteen Locks Flight. In 2010 the Inland Waterways Association’s Trailboat Festival is going to be held on the Crumlin Branch of the canal so this years’ camps will play an important part in making the festival a success. Work will include the raising of a footbridge and extending the slipway to be used during the festival. There will also be stonework and volunteers will have the opportunity to be trained in the use of lime mortar. Canal: Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation Location: Suffolk Dates: 11th- 18th July; 8th-15th August Work: The River Gipping was made navigable by the construction of the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation in 1790-3, but in the early 1930s the locks fell into dereliction. Two locks have now been restored and in 2008 WRG started work on Baylham Lock demolishing, rebuilding and strengthening the lock’s structure. This year will see our volunteers moving into the lock chamber for major rebuild of the main chamber walls. Canal: Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Location: Herefordshire Dates: 25th July – 1st August; 1st -8th August Work: An ideal site for a slipway has been identified at Aylestone Park on the outskirts of Hereford which will provide access for boats so that the local community can enjoy navigating already restored parts of the canal. The aim is to build the slipway within just two weeks so the work will consist of excavating the location of the slipway, concreting the different sections of ramp and completing the side walls.

Canal: Chesterfield Canal Location: Derbyshire Dates: 15th- 22nd August Work: Restoration on this canal is now much advanced with much of it open to navigation. WRG’s job for 2009 is to construct a wash wall to protect the new bank at Renishaw Narrows. Work will include foundations in steel mesh and concrete and then blockwork to build the wall. Canal: Grand Western Canal Location: Devon Dates: 24th- 31st October Work: The work for the October camp is going to be at Nynhead Lift, a historic vertical lift constructed by James Green from 1831-8. The lift was designed to raise small rectangular wooden tub boats 24ft from the canal to the aqueduct above. There will be plenty of scrub bashing, fencing and the possibility of erecting a timber barricade with access door across the carriageway under arch. There may also be the chance to start work at Lowdwells Lock. In addition to the above, volunteers are needed help WRG make vital preparations for the major waterway festival of the year. From 24th August to 3rd September WRG will be involved in setting up IWA’s National Festival & Boat Show beside the River Soar at Redhill, Nottinghamshire. Volunteers will assist with the build up, erecting marquees, display stands and fencing, and when the event opens will help to entertain and educate the public, provide site services and much more. This 10-day camp costs £70 and includes food and accommodation. Furthermore, well over 50 weekend digs will be held throughout England and Wales. Anyone is welcome to volunteer for a Canal Camp or weekend dig; the only restriction is that they must be over 18 and under 70 years of age. No previous skills or experience are required. An information pack detailing opportunities to join in waterway restoration work all over the country, including the 2009 Canal Camps brochure, is available free of charge from Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783 453, e-mail: enquires@ Alternatively visit uk for further information and a look back at what WRG has already achieved.

MAIN PICTURE: The delightful Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal will host two camps this year. This is Over Basin, restored by WRG a few years ago, where a trip boat operates in the summer months. TOP INSET: Having fun during last year’s Droitwich camp. BOTTOM INSET: WRG in action on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation.

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Liverpool Linked at Last

Cotswold Progress

The long awaited official opening of the Liverpool Link was performed by British Waterways chairman Tony Hales on 25th March. A party of VIPs travelled along the link from the new lock in Princes Dock aboard the Haskayne-based community boat Pride of Sefton. The vessel travelled to Pier Head where its arrival was greeted by cheering crowds. The 1.4 mile, £20m Liverpool Link enables boats to cruise from the western terminus of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, via the Stanley Dock Branch, right into the heart of the city, past the ‘Three Graces’ buildings and into Albert Dock, before mooring in adjacent Salthouse Dock.

A new canal company has been set up to enable the

restoration of the Cotswold Canals between Stonehouse and Brimscombe Port – classified as Phase 1 when British Waterways was engaged in the project. The Stroud Valleys Canal Company has acquired the route of the canal, plus any other land deemed necessary for the completion of restoration. Negotiations are well advanced, and include the route of the old Stroudwater Navigation from Saul to Wallbridge, the Thames & Severn Canal between Wallbridge and Brimscombe, and land at Brimscombe Port. The new company, which came officially into being on 26th March, is limited by guarantee and will hold charitable status. Interests are held by Stroud District Council as lead partner, the Cotswold Canals Trust and each of the landowners who vested their property in the company. Meanwhile, teams of volunteers who have spent almost a year restoring Brimscombe Port walls celebrated their achievement at a special event marking completion of the restoration project on 22nd January. The project to restore Brimscombe Port walls won an £80,000 grant from ITV’s People’s Millions Lottery programme in November 2007, after thousands of local people voted for the project.  Local residents, people who use the towpath and children from Brimscombe Primary School have all lent a hand in the restoration process. A large number of volunteers took part in the masonry skills training and helped repair the two-hundred year-old stone walls. Volunteers included groups from the Cotswold Canals Trust, Nelson Trust and Leyhill Open Prison. In addition to restoring the walls, an interpretation display has also been provided to tell the story of the Port. The walls are almost the only visible remains of Brimscombe Port, so securing their future is considered to be an important step for protecting the heritage of the area. Brimscombe was a major transhipment port on the Thames & Severn Canal and the walls were covered in dense vegetation with several trees growing out of the top. This was a last chance to save the walls which had not been touched for over 70 years after the canal closed in 1933.

1] The official opening of the Liverpool Link. 2] The press boat departing from the new Princes Lock.

Martin Clark



4] Entering the Link’s third and final tunnel under the new Museum of Liverpool.

Martin Clark

Martin Clark


Martin Clark

3] Emerging from the Link’s second tunnel under Pier Head Gardens.


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RESTORATION UPDATE Boston Lock Party Woolsthorpe

Lock Restored – thanks to IWA legacy

Boston Lock, the first part of a £100m project to create the Fens

Waterway Link, was officially opened by TV presenter Michaela Strachan on 20th March. VIPs were carried in two boats – a river patrol craft and a Spalding water taxi – and were led out of the lock by a Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Service vessel carrying a television crew. A large and enthusiastic crowd lined the bank to witness the three boats sailing through the lock to the Haven before returning to the new moorings above the lock. The £8.5m project, funded by Lincolnshire County Council, the European Regional Development Fund and the East Midlands Development Agency, has seen the installation of steel gates at the new Black Sluice Lock, permitting navigation onto the Forty Foot drain for the first time in 40 years. The gates will also act as a flood defence. Once completed, the Fens Waterways Link will be the largest waterway enhancement project in Europe and will open up 149 miles of Fenland cruising waters, linking the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely.

John Sully

Following a £100,000 legacy to IWA, Woolsthorpe Top Lock on the Grantham Canal has been saved. When a large crack developed in the offside wall of the lock chamber, British Waterways’ solution was to install Acrow-type props to stabilise the brickwork to prevent it collapsing. However, the long-term cost of hire for the props proved prohibitive, and BW looked at alternative solutions. Meetings of BW with the Grantham Canal Society and the Grantham Canal Partnership early last year resulted in the ultimatum that if proposals to rebuild the lock, or take over the cost of props, were not forthcoming then the lock would be filled in at the end of March 2008. Volunteers were concerned that, once infilled, the lock would be even more expensive to repair when funding became available. Fortunately, IWA received news that it had been left £100,000 from the estate of the late Fredrick Woodman.

Wilts & Berks Setback  

Berks Canal through Cricklade and a green corridor linking the town with Swindon has been shelved because of a lack of available public funds. Promoters of the Cricklade Country Way scheme were forced to revise their plans after the project failed in a bid for a £25 million Big Lottery Fund award in 2007. Revised plans have now been submitted to Wiltshire Council for approval from planners. The project’s ultimate goal is still to reopen a section of the Wilts & Berks Canal, revive a bygone steam railway and link up a national cycle trail as well as creating a 50-hectare country park between the two towns. However, the revised plans now indicate that the canal will terminate a quarter of a mile outside of Cricklade at the same point as the railway line. In addition to problems with funding, English Heritage also objected to the scheme because of the archaeological threat to the town’s ancient scheduled monument within its historic Saxon walls.

John Baylis

A proposal to create a restored section of the Wilts &

IWA East Midlands region chairman John Baylis then put a rescue package forward, using the legacy as part funding. However, BW was concerned that, unless IWA could prove that it had sufficient money to complete a full restoration, then the lock would be demolished. IWA and the Grantham Canal Society immediately started a campaign to obtain further guarantees of funding to complete the rebuilding, and started to get quotations from building companies capable of completing the work. This ultimately resulted in the appointment of Morrison Construction, and work began just before Christmas last year. At the end of March, all major civil engineering works at the lock were complete, and contractors had vacated the site. Land surrounding the lock will now be left to stabilise before landscaping work is carried out; an appropriate commemorative event to Frederick Woodman will then be staged.

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London’s Lost Rivers Some of London’s “lost rivers”, which for centuries have been used

as open drains, covered over in concrete, hidden behind high walls and even built over, are to benefit from ambitious plans to uncover them. Under the plan, 92 projects will be announced covering 14 different waterways in London, at least seven of which have been buried by history, including the Effra, which rises in Crystal Palace and flows north to the Thames at Vauxhall, the Ravensbourne in south-east London, the Wandle in Croydon, and two tributaries of the Lee near the 2012 Olympic site in east London. The Environment Agency, which will lead the work, hopes to uncover at least 15km (nine miles) of river in the next six years. The full list adds up to double that length, while other schemes are still being proposed. The Environment Agency estimates that 70% of London’s 600km river network is concreted, covered over, interrupted by weirs or otherwise modified. Some can only be glimpsed in odd places, such as a tunnel through Sloane Square tube station carrying the Westbourne, or guessed at from local road names such as Fleet Street or Spring Path.  During the 20th century huge improvements were made to water quality, but the lack of natural features to offer cover for wildlife means the rivers are often still ‘ecologically poor’, according to the Environment Agency. Restoration of London’s rivers began in the mid-1980s; since then 15km have been completed. Full restoration of some stretches has included the recovery of the oncelost Quaggy River through Sutcliffe Park in south-east London. The park was also restored as a flood plain to protect local homes and businesses in the event of heavy rains. Other projects are defined as “rehabilitation”, usually adding natural features such as gravels or reed beds into the existing modified channel.  The next phase will speed up the rate of restoration, and target tougher schemes in built-up and often socially deprived areas. Many projects will also incorporate improved flood defences to cope with climate change, habitat schemes and urban regeneration along with features to encourage local people to use parks more, including dipping ponds and education areas. The full cost can be as much as £500,000 a kilometre, though they are often lower, and are to be paid for by a funding cocktail comprising the EA, environmental charities and private developers. EA believes recent restorations have attracted more visitors to riverbanks and nearby parks, as well as leading to a reduction in anti-social behaviour, the return of fish such as chub and dace, and birdlife, such as kingfishers. More information is available at

Extending the Ashby Leicestershire County Council project leaders now

believe that it is likely that funding problems which have delayed work on the restoration of a waterway may be overcome. The Ashby Canal restoration is approaching a critical juncture, with a decision on a bid for funding expected within the next few weeks. Meanwhile, work has begun to extend the current head of navigation on the Ashby Canal at Snarestone by 100 yards. Although a short extension, the project is regarded as a significant step towards restoring the canal back to Moira, where a 11/2-mile isolated section has already been reopened. This contains the only lock on the canal, required due to mining

subsidence in the area. The start of the work was officially launched on 26th February by Leicestershire County Council chairman Tony Kershaw and Ashby Canal Association chairman Audrey Boston. The project is to be managed by British Waterways, with the work likely to be carried out by BW’s newly appointed omnibus contractors May Gurney. In a separate development, plans have been agreed for a wildlife conservation area by the River Mease at Measham. The county council’s development control and regulatory board will shortly meet on to consider plans for a water storage lake, also to be used for recreation, to the east of Measham.

Looking towards the current head of navigation on the Ashby Canal at Snarestone.

Grand Union Canal - Daventry Arm The master plan for Daventry’s new marina and canalside development is set to go out to public consultation. Daventry District Council’s strategy group is thought likely to approve draft plans for the Site Three development on the Eastern Way playing fields, after hearing a presentation from the companies that prepared it. The design

includes layouts for a canal and marina scheme that would see a waterway created from Eastern Way going out of the town, around Daventry Country Park and out to the existing Grand Union Canal. The report going before the committee states the canal’s design is still being worked on, but that investigations along the route are complete, and

£75,000 worth of funding for designing a boat lift has been secured. The plans would see a marina built on land next to Daventry Country Park by the new Eastern Way roundabout, extending into the new waterside development. Councillors have said the development, complete with water; will be built even if the canal isn’t. The buildings along

the waterfront and around the marinas are expected to be a mix of homes, along with commercial office space and leisure facilities, potentially including a hotel and cinema. If approved by the committee, the draft master plan will be opened to public comments before a formal outline planning application is made, probably towards the end of 2009.

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country craft Narrowboat holidays on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Gentle cruising through the spectacular Brecon Beacons National Park. Modern fleet of 2/6 berth narrowboats, competitvely priced. Pets welcome, short breaks available.

Tel: 01874 730850 Web:

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Saul Junction Marina

Unique and attractive location At the junction of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and The Stroudwater Canal Wide variety of cruising available High quality facilities block. Minutes from M5 (J.13) Competitive rates held for 2009 To reserve a mooring or make enquiries call the marina Tel – 01452 740043 Email –

We offer lock free cruising on our well appointed 2-7 berth narrowboats. Boatyard services include: Diesel • Gas • Solid Fuel • Pump-out • Moorings For a free colour brochure

Tel/fax: 01772 769183 Website: or call in and see us at Ashton Basin, Tulketh Brow, Preston, PR2 2SD

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CANOEING ON THE WATERWAYS Canoeing in the rain on the River Wreake in Leicestershire.

Who needs an engine?


he sport and recreation of canoeing has played an important – and often overlooked – role in the story of the inland waterway network. For many youngsters, especially those growing up in deprived urban areas, the local canoe club has given them a positive introduction to the world of canals, which are thus perceived as not just somewhere to hang out, get into mischief or dump rubbish, but a place to have fun, increase fitness and realise potential. The first tentative visit to the neighbourhood club is, in some cases, the beginning of a lifelong interest in waterways. There is certainly no shortage of clubs in the Midlands, those on the Wyrley & Essington Canal, on the Staffs & Worcs Canal on the outskirts of Wolverhampton

and at Coventry Basin being three thriving examples. London has scores of clubs – at Richmond, Tower Hamlets, Battersea, Chiswick etc, plus the well known Regent’s Canoe Club at City Road Basin on the Regent’s Canal. Liverpool has, among others, its Liverpool Canoe Club on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Lydiate, whilst Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield all have clubs which welcome absolute beginners. The sport’s governing body is the British Canoe Union, which has 60,000 individual and club based members throughout the UK. BCU estimates that some two million people take to the water in a canoe every year: on canals, in the sea, on upland rivers offering spectacular white water and on lowland rivers and lakes. Membership of BCU has risen by almost 7% over the last five years and canoeing is considered to be the fastest growing leisure/sporting activity in the country.

Mercia Canoe Club

The Mercia Canoe Club is perhaps a typical example of an inner city canoe club. It is in fact a division of the Coventry Canal Society and is based in one of the historic warehouses at Coventry Basin, at the terminus of the canal. All ages and abilities are welcomed, from complete beginners and those just wanting to have some fun, right through to those seeking specialist coaching. MCC coaches all possess nationally recognised coaching, water safety and first aid qualifications. The club has a full range of paddles, canoes and kayaks available and can provide all necessary safety equipment, such as buoyancy aids and helmets. There is a choice between open, stable kayaks for anyone to use, shorter more dynamic boats and flat water racing and touring kayaks. Saturday sessions are held at the Canal Basin, Unit 1 Canal Warehouse, Leicester Row, Coventry, starting at 2pm. It is possibl to pay on a per session basis, before deciding to take out full membership. For further details contact Mercia Canoe Club chairman Nigel Wooltorton, telephone 07833 705806 or visit

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Raising awareness Canoeing activity has done much to raise public awareness of canals undergoing restoration, and to promote use of isolated reopened sections on waterways where restoration is continuing elsewhere. A good example is on the Ashby Canal’s northernmost section, at Conkers Basin, Moira and Moira Furnace, the latter being the venue for this year’s IWA National Trailboat Festival over the Spring Bank Holiday. The westernmost section of the Chesterfield Canal is well used by paddlers and nowhere is more popular with canoeists than the restored lengths of the Wey & Arun Canal in West Sussex. Then there are the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal, the Grantham and the Cromford, and many more; show us an isolated section of waterway, and we’ll show you canoes aplenty. Meanwhile, the Montgomery Canal restoration project has benefited greatly from the staging of the Montgomery Dinghy Dawdle & Meander, organised annually by the Shropshire Union Canal Society with the assistance of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, and supported by IWA. The event involves all manner of unpowered craft, including canoes, dinghies and even coracles, travelling along the canal, the craft being carried across lowered road crossings as necessary. Always well attended, the Dinghy Dawdle is a major fundraising and publicity success story for the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust. This year’s event is to be staged on 7th June on the southern section of the canal between Garthmyl (Penllywn Lodges) and Freestone Lock, Aberbechan. (For full details visit www.

Join a club! Anyone wishing to try their hand at canoeing is strongly recommended to join a local group or club - it’s safer, more fun and enables the basic skills to be mastered quickly. Activity holidays often include canoeing and these provide a pleasant and practical introduction to the sport. In addition, BCU organise a number of regional events aimed at beginners, where it is possible to talk to experienced paddlers – and then have a go out on the water. For a full list of canoeing clubs contact the relevant national organisation:; www.welsh-canoeing.;; www. Alternatively, contact British Canoe Union, 18 Market Place, Bingham, Nottingham NG13 8AP, telephone 0845 370 9500, or visit

The Rivers Access Campaign

Youngsters enjoying the restored northern section of the Ashby Canal at Moira Furnace.

ABOVE: The Montgomery Dinghy Dawdle is always a popular event. BELOW: Coping with some ‘white water’ on the River Wye.

The British Canoe Union is actively engaged in the Rivers Access Campaign, not only on behalf of canoeists but all members of the public. This campaign is being supported by IWA. The legal situation in England and Wales is different to most other countries in the world, where canoeists are generally able to paddle along large and small non-tidal rivers without seeking permission, as the beds of these rivers are not privately owned. Under these more open and fairer regimes, there is little, if any, conflict between land ownership, angling and navigation interests, each having rights to use the water. BCU makes the following points: only 2% of rivers in England and Wales have public access; the public has no access to 65,000 kilometres of rivers in England and Wales; nearly all the most beautiful inland rivers are inaccessible to the public; whoever owns the land along the river (the riparian owner) also owns the property rights to the river bed; if a river doesn’t have a public right of navigation and you don’t have consent from the riparian owner, you are committing trespass by paddling or even wading in it; canoeing is an increasingly popular activity and is an affordable means of getting out on the water for everyone, including young people and the retired; providing greater access to rivers will result in a healthier and fitter nation. Following the passing of the Countryside Rights of Way Act, giving the public wider access to the countryside and the ’right to roam’, it is considered iniquitous that swimmers and canoeists are still denied access to the majority of the nation’s rivers. Or, as Outdoor Enthusiast Magazine commented in an editorial, “Whose rivers are they anyway?”, before going on to say, “The frustration lies in the fact that at a time when obesity levels have risen to an unprecedented level and the government is encouraging more active lifestyles, this unique resource remains out of bounds”. Anyone wishing to learn more about the Rivers Access Campaign should contact BCU, John Dudderidge House, Adbolton Lane, West Bridgford, Notts NG2 5AS, Tel: 0115 982 1100, or visit

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WRG volunteers at work on the Lichfield Canal.

Bob Williams


Waterways of the Future What will Britain’s inland waterway map look like in 50 years time? How many more miles of canal will have been added to the network by then? KEITH GOSS peers into his crystal ball to seek some answers


e report elsewhere in this issue on the opening of the nation’s newest canal, the 1.4 mile, £20m plus Liverpool Link which enables boats to cruise from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal right into the heart of this vibrant maritime city. Also just opened is Boston Lock, the first stage towards creating the Fens Waterways Link, whilst the Droitwich Canals will restore the connection between the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the river Severn by the spring of next year. Add to these exciting developments the significant progress being made on the Ashby, Cotswolds and Chesterfield canals, to name just three examples, and it is tempting to conclude that a Golden Age of canal restoration is upon us. But the reality is, of course, less clear cut as Britain’s deep recession and credit crunch cast a deep shadow over all walks of life, including canal funding and restoration.

Where it all began The modern era of waterway restoration began in earnest on the Lower Avon, which had become largely unnavigable during World War II and was purchased by Douglas Barwell in 1949 for just £1,500. He established the Lower Avon Navigation Trust (LANT) to restore and maintain the river up to Evesham, a project successfully completed by 1965. It is fair to say that LANT set a pattern for voluntary restoration schemes that has been followed time and time again over the intervening years. Between 1961-64 the long derelict southern Stratford Canal was restored under the leadership of David Hutchings, who then turned his attention to the Upper Avon between Evesham and Stratford, completing the necessary works by 1974. The Avon Ring, which many of us take for granted today, was once more open to navigation. Meanwhile, another early success story saw thousands of volunteers working to clear tons of junk and debris from the Ashton and Lower Peak Forest canals, which British

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The Restoration Man With all due respect to Douglas Barwell, saviour of the Lower Avon, and to Graham Palmer and other Waterway Recovery Group stalwarts, no-one has thus far contributed more to the waterway restoration movement than the legendary David Hutchings. Known to many as The Restoration Man, his dynamic leadership and engineering skills were the prime factors in the restoration of the Stratford Canal (completed in 1964) and the Upper Avon (reopened in 1974). Furthermore, his charisma and unbridled enthusiasm for the waterways inspired countless others to follow in his wake. An architect with Coventry City Council, he announced his arrival on the waterway scene by organising, at short notice, the IWA Coventry Rally in 1957, an event which proved to be an unqualified success. He also found time, during the Stratford project, to play a role in the Stourbridge campaign. David died in April 2005 but will live on in the hearts of all canal restorers – and all those who have come to love the Stratford Canal and the Warwickshire Avon.

Above: Moira Furnace on a restored section of the northern Ashby Canal. Below: Boating near Fladbury on the beautiful Lower Avon. Below right: Excavating a new channel at Renishaw on the Chesterfield Canal.

Waterways had wanted to close in the 1960s but were vigorously opposed by IWA and the Peak Forest Canal Society. The volunteers’ sterling efforts over a number of years lead to the reopening of these two canals by 1974 and the Cheshire Ring – one of today’s most popular cruising circuits – was back in business. Reopening of the entire Kennet & Avon Navigation between Reading and Bristol took place in 1990, thanks to tireless campaigning, fundraising and physical restoration work by IWA and the Kennet & Avon Canal Society over a period of some 35 years. The Huddersfield Canal was officially reopened throughout in 2001, followed by the Rochdale Canal a year later. In both cases, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, both political and physical, had been overcome and a new North Pennine Ring created.

unifying factor, however, is that all involve the dedicated commitment of teams of volunteers, from IWA and other bodies, working to see the waterway in question fully restored for public use. Choosing just ten major schemes to highlight here is clearly an invidious task, but the following represent a purely personal choice. Ashby Canal. The Ashby Canal once ran from Marston Junction near Bedworth to Moira in Derbyshire, but mining-induced subsidence resulted in the closure of the northernmost eight miles of canal beyond Snarestone. Supported by Leicestershire County Council, the Ashby Canal Association is promoting full restoration. Target date: 2012. (IWA’s National Trailboat Festival is this year taking place at Moira Furnace over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend – see page 38).

Ongoing Restoration Schemes

Chesterfield Canal. The Chesterfield Canal is currently navigable for some 34 miles from the river Trent to the collapsed Norwood Tunnel, and for five miles from its western terminus at

Hugh Potter

From the Wey & Arun Canal in West Sussex to the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal in Cumbria, from the Montgomery Canal in mid Wales to the river Stour on the Essex/Suffolk border, there are scores of restoration projects underway throughout the land. And each is unique, in terms of the engineering challenges faced, the funding issues involved and the potential for use after completion. Moreover ownership varies too: many waterways under restoration are under the control of BW, others come under the remit of the Environment Agency, some are owned by local authorities and others by private individuals. The

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David Jowett

Chesterfield to Staveley. Restoration is planned in three phases: from Staveley to Killamarsh; around a housing estate built along the line of the canal at Killamarsh; and the final challenge for the restorers – the issues relating to Norwood Tunnel. The Chesterfield Canal Partnership is working on plans to overcome this obstacle and a target date of 2020 would not seem too unrealistic. (IWA’s National Campaign Rally is this year being staged at Kiveton Park near Rotherham, close to the tunnel, also over Spring Bank Holiday – see page 38). Cotswold Canals. The Cotswold Canals comprise the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal; together they provided a link between the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal at Saul Junction and the river Thames at Lechlade, the route traversing some of the most beautiful scenery in southern England. Considerable engineering challenges need to be overcome.Nevertheless, the Cotswold Canals Trust – one of the largest and most efficient canal trusts in the country – is aiming at the completion of Phase 1a by 2012. Droitwich Canals. Almost there! Thanks to the dedicated work of the Droitwich Canals Trust, IWA, Waterway Recovery Group and others, restoration of the Droitwich Barge Canal and the Droitwich Junction Canal is virtually complete, with the official reopening planned for Spring 2010. This will restore the link between the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Hanbury and the river Severn at Hawford, thus creating a new 21mile cruising ring through unspoilt Worcestershire countryside.

Top: A restored section of the Stroudwater Navigation at Oil Mills, Ebley. Above: New staircase locks on the Droitwich Junction Canal.

Waterway Images

Left: Restoration work underway on the Montgomery Canal way back in the 1970s. The project continues…

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals. Well known actor and waterway enthusiast David Suchet has thrown his full backing behind this scheme, which aims to restore the link between the Coventry Canal at Huddlesford and the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Calf Heath. Its completion would give ready access from the mainstream Midland canals to the quiet waters of the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations. Much has already been achieved but this remains a long term project, with a possible opening date of 2030. Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal. The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal ran from the river Irwell in Salford to Bolton and Bury – a distance of some

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15 miles. This was not one of the early restoration projects, but has come up strongly on the rails, with an active canal society promoting its cause and a strong measure of support from BW. In September last year, the completion of the first restored section was celebrated when a narrowboat entered the new deep entrance lock at Middlewood, Salford. There remains a number of obstacles to restoration and progress towards completion will depend on funding – but ultimate success is surely only a matter of time.

Wey & Arun Canal. ‘London’s lost Route to the Sea’ ran for 23 miles from the river Wey at Shalford

near Guildford to the river Arun at Pallingham, north west of Pulborough. Land access, ownership issues and engineering difficulties stand in the way of restoring this link, but the Wey & Arun Canal Trust is an accomplished and professional body which has already achieved much, including the reopening of 11 locks, rebuilding of 24 bridges and restoration of two of the waterway’s three aqueducts. Possible reopening date: 2030. Wilts & Berks Canal. Definitely a long term project, this is the restoration scheme facing the biggest challenges of all. The waterway once ran from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Trowbridge to the Thames at Abingdon, but was officially closed in 1914. Much of the canal has been infilled and built over in parts of Swindon, Melksham and Abingdon. Undaunted, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust continues to press on, restoring numerous isolated locks and bridges. In 2006 an IWA grant of £60,000 paid for the construction of a new length of waterway connecting the canal to the Thames near Abingdon. (Optimistic) target date: 2050.

The delightful Wey & Arun Canal near Drungewick Lane Bridge in West Sussex.

Hugh Potter

Monmouthshire Canal. The project calls for the Monmouthshire Canal to be restored down from Five Locks Basin, Cwmbran to a connection with the river Usk near Newport; the picturesque Crumlin Arm is also undergoing restoration. Plenty of locks on the main line have been restored, and excellent progress is being made on the Crumlin Arm, thanks at least in part to successful WRG Canal Camps. With parts of the line lost to road building in Cwmbran and Newport, the scheme must be regarded as a long term one, with a target date of 2020.

Montgomery Canal. For many enthusiasts, this is THE restoration project they most want to see completed, simply because the prize is so great: 35 miles of canal from Frankton Junction on the Llangollen Canal to Newton in mid Wales, through some of the most sublime scenery imaginable. The waterway was abandoned in 1936 and restoration has been in progress for over 30 years. So why is it taking so long, particularly in view of the fact that comparatively few major engineering problems stand in the way? The answer, at least in part, is that the canal is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for much of its length. Restoration plans have, therefore, had to incorporate a wealth of measures to safeguard the survival of these life-forms. Nevertheless, the canal is open from Frankton to south of Maesbury, as is an isolated 11-mile section from Berriew to Ardleen, centred on Welshpool. Possible reopening date: 2025.

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WATERWAYS OF THE FUTURE There are, of course, numerous other projects underway, all deserving of mention, but space precludes us from doing so. The Grantham and Cromford projects could arguably be described as ‘just outside the top ten’.

New waterways under construction…or planned

Ones for the Future There is, it seems, no limit to the enthusiasm and appetite for waterway restoration on the part of IWA and waterway society members throughout the land. In addition to all the above projects, there are also well researched proposals to restore a host of other waterways, ranging from the Bradford Canal in West Yorkshire to the Portsmouth & Arundel Canal in Hampshire/West Sussex, from the Swansea Canal in South Wales to the Horncastle Navigation in Lincolnshire.

IWA’s commitment to restoration One of the principal stated aims of IWA is to advocate the restoration of derelict inland waterways throughout the British Isles. Its restoration objectives are: to secure support for restoration from local communities, local authorities, navigation authorities and funding agencies; secure human and financial resources for restoration; obtain legislation documents etc from Government and its agencies that are favourable to restoration; achieve high quality sustainable restoration suitable for navigation and other public use, with adequate provision for future maintenance to appropriate standards. To these ends, IWA makes grants of up to £15,000 to organisations promoting the restoration of navigable or formerly navigable inland waterways. Applications from bodies promoting new navigable waterways are also considered. Over the years hundreds of thousands of pounds have been paid out in grants, enabling many restoration projects to be successfully concluded.

Opposite page: One of the first narrowboats to use the Liverpool Link passing the Liver Building on 25th March. Below: Approaching Boston Lock during the official opening celebrations on 20th March.

John Sully

Not content with restoring canals and rivers which have fallen out of use, voluntary groups including IWA, with the help of statutory bodies, have also turned their attention to the construction of brand new waterways. We depict the opening of the Liverpool Link and progress on the Fens Waterway Link on pages 18-20, but there are a number of other schemes in the pipeline too. The Higher Avon has long been mooted, being an extension of the navigable length of Shakespeare’s Avon to provide a link with the Grand Union Canal at Warwick, although opposition from wealthy landowners has prevented any progress thus far. The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway

is being promoted as an exciting project which would see a new canal linking the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes with the Great Ouse at Bedford, serving at the same time as the core of a linear water park. Other proposals include a Daventry Arm off the Grand Union Canal, the Leven Navigation in Scotland which would connect Loch Lomond to the Clyde estuary, the Ouseburn waterway on Tyneside, the Rother Link in the East Midlands and the Wissey Navigation Extension in West Norfolk.

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John Sully

John Davidson

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A Continuing Saga On occasions, waterways restored and reopened in a blaze of glory subsequently fall into decline again, requiring voluntary groups to come to the rescue once more. Nowhere provides a better example of this than the Basingstoke Canal, which was reopened in 1991 following a largely volunteer-led restoration by the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society, supported by IWA and others, and financed by Surrey and Hampshire county councils. The Basingstoke Canal has been bedevilled by water supply and other problems almost ever since, resulting in summertime closures in some years, and further work is continuing to install back pumping along the canal, financed through voluntary fund raising and grants, with much of the work carried out by WRG. Another case study is the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in Essex, taken over by IWA subsidiary Essex Waterways Ltd in 2005; the waterway had by then fallen into a serious state of disrepair. Since then an ongoing programme of maintenance has seen a comprehensive upgrading of the waterway’s infrastructure, with much of the work undertaken by IWA and other volunteers. WRG’s 2008 ‘Bonfire Bash’ brought about further improvements to the navigation.

Funding the restoration projects Funding for restoration comes from a number of sources. In certain circumstances BW finances some of the work (although recent DEFRA funding cuts have seen this support diminish and, in at least one example, promised money has been withdrawn). In urban areas, government grant aid may be available for the reclamation of derelict land (a good example being the Liverpool Link works); European Union funding is also forthcoming, mainly for inner city projects. Enlightened local

authorities also provide support, as (less often) do private companies through sponsorship. IWA and waterway societies provide not just finance but expertise and practical assistance. Latterly the Heritage Lottery Fund has made relatively large grants to waterway restoration projects, including one of £28m to enable water supply problems on the Kennet & Avon Canal to be resolved. More recently, the Forth & Clyde-River Carron scheme in Scotland benefited from a Big Lottery Fund grant of £25m, much of the money being used to construct an impressive boat lift featuring two 30metre high ‘Kelpie’ horse heads. Clearly, difficult financial times lie ahead, and canal restoration is unlikely to be at the top of the priority list for cash-strapped government departments or local authorities. Nevertheless, we’ve been here before, enduring fiscal problems and recessions in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and yet restoration projects continued through those decades – indeed in many instances they thrived. So the probability is that they will continue to prosper.

An expanded network So what will the waterway network look like in 2060? It’s always dangerous to make rash predictions, especially in these increasingly uncertain economic times. But who, in 1960, would have foreseen that today we would be boating around the Cheshire and Avon rings, as well as along the Kennet & Avon, Caldon, Huddersfield and Rochdale canals, to name just a few restoration success stories. So let’s look forward confidently to the day when we can cruise the Monmouthshire Canal down to Newport, boat through the Cotswolds on the Thames & Severn Canal and, perhaps best of all, turn off the Llangollen Canal at Frankton Junction and head down the Montgomery Canal to Newtown. After all, it doesn’t hurt to dream.

Dieter Jebens

A solitary canoeist enjoying a restored section of the Montgomery Canal – but how long before the entire waterway is restored?

The Basingstoke Canal has had a troubled recent past.

Get Involved…with WRG

Waterway Recovery Group co-ordinates volunteers to work on a range of waterway projects around the country. Its regional groups typically spend one weekend a month working at a site, whilst week-long camps are also staged during the summer months. These have been enormously successful in recent times, a series of camps achieving the complete restoration of Hanbury Locks on the Droitwich Junction Canal. Indeed, it is unlikely that the waterway network would exist in its current form without the contribution of WRG over the years. As well as offering lots of hard (and occasionally dirty) work, WRG camps are renowned for fun and camaraderie. For full details of how to become involved call Jenny Black on 01494 783453 or visit In the meantime, a full list of this year’s Canal Camps is published on pages 14-15 of this issue.

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Boat Lift for Daventry? “Minister launches new scheme” exulted the Daventry Express in February. This was on the occasion of a visit by Iain Wright, Junior Housing Minister, to the town. He “met officials from WNDC [West Northants Development Corporation] and Daventry District Council who talked about the plans for the redevelopment of the town”. The interesting thing about this, so far as IWA is concerned, is that these plans include the construction of a new branch canal to Daventry from the Braunston Summit of the Grand Union. A Press release from Daventry District Council issued in February told us that “Funding has been secured for an innovative project to design a boat lift that could form part of a planned new canal arm

for Daventry. Daventry Council has received £75,000 from Northamptonshire Enterprise Ltd for an options study and outline design of the boat lift.” The Daventry Post reported with the headline: “Canal at heart of Leisure scheme” and pointed out that “The basins and canal will be the centre point of a new flexible layout, creating a natural linkage between a number of planned town centre redevelopments as part of Daventry district council’s Masterplan”. The Express also told its readers in another issue that “Money for the canal project is watertight”, meaning that it was ring fenced within the Council’s coffers. So let’s hope that this may prove to be part of the silver lining to the cloud of recession.

New Marina at Northampton More good news from Northamptonshire, in which IWA Northampton Branch has played a significant part, was brought by the (Northampton) Chronicle & Echo, which revealed that the same West Northamptonshire Development Corporation had granted funding of “more than £1.8 million…into plans to create a marina at Beckets Park in the centre of Northampton”. Old stagers will doubtless remember this as the site of a most successful National Rally back in 1971. It was hoped way back then that the rally and subsequent events in the park, which occupies the north bank of the Nene, would stimulate a revival of interest in the river by the town authorities, but little has been done in the intervening 38 years in spite of much prodding from IWA

Northampton Branch. Hopefully this not only spells a revival of interest locally, but a major rethink on the value of the River Nene and the Northampton Arm as essential links in this scheme. At the other end of the Nene, so to speak, the Lincolnshire Free Press carried a feature last Autumn headed “Search begins for marina site” This referred to the current project to link the Nene with the Witham across the Lincolnshire fens, and the article went on to say “The search for a suitable location for a multimillion pound boating marina in Spalding will start [in 2009]. The marina will form part of the Environment Agency’s Fens Waterways Link which aims to open up 150 miles of waterways for tourism, recreation and the environment”.

A PRINCELY TALE Meanwhile, up in what I still obstinately continue to refer to as “The West Riding”, there have been positive developments on the local waterways. Prince Charles Himself, no less, visited Sowerby Bridge last Autumn and, according to the Yorkshire Post (I’ll bet you were wondering when I’d get round to quoting that august journal!) “The Wharfside at Sowerby Bridge…was once where a disused canal came to a grinding halt and shadows of dilapidated buildings flickered in its murky waters. There would have been little outcry if it had been levelled. [Oh yes? Somehow I can’t see IWA’s local branch letting it go that easily.] But that was more than 20 years ago when the Prince of Wales first visited the rundown waterfront. When he returned triumphantly at the end of November 2008 he was able to make a proud boast: “It has become the catalyst for regenerating the whole of Sowerby Bridge”. The [Halifax] Evening Courier carried the story of the Prince’s visit on its front

page and showed a picture of him stepping aboard a narrow boat being fitted out at the wharf and reported on how he was introduced to the various stalwarts who have set up businesses round the wharves and basins. And at Wakefield the Post ran a feature about the “£100m Wakefield Waterfront Project” and gave a potted history of the Calder & Hebble Navigation into the bargain. Echoing this, no less a paper than The Times ran a “Focus Report” stating that “Reinvention of the canal system brings prosperity to inner city heartlands”. Of course all credit was given to the British Waterways Board (formed in 1962 as a result of pressure from outside, not least from IWA) and no mention was made either of IWA (formed in 1946) or of the immense part played by volunteers over the years. Robin Evans was quoted as saying “In the past 20 years the waterways have been completely transformed – they have reinvented themselves”. Something else seems to have been reinvented here: history.

The IWA National Rally of 1971 at Beckets Park, Northampton.

Waterway Images



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

MissING THE BOAT at Bath The Bath Chronicle told us a sad story of lost or perhaps deliberately bungled opportunity under the headline “River Consultation slammed as a farce”. IWA Avon & Wiltshire branch chairman, John Webb, has been involved since 2002 with Bath Council’s River Corridor Study Group “to help shape a new planning blueprint for the [Bath] Western Riverside”, a dismal area of old gasworks and derelict factories beside the Avon downstream of the city. In 2005 though, after many meetings and

so-called “consultations”, things began to go wrong. “The whole thing ground to a halt, with us being fobbed off and kept in the dark as to what, if anything was happening” Eventually the group was told that the study had been abandoned. Mr Webb “concludes: As an exercise in public consultation this whole business has developed into a frustrating and timewasting farce. Honeyed words as a substitute for a detailed statement as to what is expected simply do not work”.

Double Trouble in Derby

LOCKWHEELING UP THE Basingstoke Still in the south, Fleet News revealed that “A scheme to find extra money for the upkeep of the Basingstoke Canal may fall at the first hurdle because the groups being asked for the cash have not been able to agree on how much to chip in. The difficulties raising the funds mean the canal could fall into deeper disrepair and… the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society worry that boats will soon be unable to use it”. This is all very worrying generally, although the Autumn 2008 edition of The Hub, a magazine devoted to cycling matters, tells us that “Woking is the only town in the South East to be awarded Cycling Town status by Cycling England. Woking will be

given £1.82 million over 3 years” subject to local authority match funding”. The magazine goes on to say “This additional funding also means that the Basingstoke Canal project can continue, and we hope to improve the surface of the full 8 miles between Pirbright Bridge and the Wey navigation”. I suspect the Basingstoke problems have had a similar root to those that have affected the Rochdale Canal in the past. Few boats have as yet managed to use the canal, so the benefits of regular boating use are not apparent to the local authorities. Looking on the bright side, you should be able to lockwheel up the Basingstoke Locks pretty well in future!

Waterway Images

Shameless Profiteering

At Derby the saga of the footbridge (or to be more pedantically correct the horse bridge) that carries the Trent towpath over the river near Shardlow rumbles on its Dickensian way. Last Autumn the Derby Evening Telegraph stated that “A footpath that was closed to the public six years ago for bridge repairs will reopen next year…It will reopen on December 2, 2009 at the latest after repairs” Well Ho! Ho! Ho! to all that, because the same paper now tells us (in March 2009) that “The fate of plans to rebuild a bridge demolished six years ago will be decided at a public inquiry.” The whole sad story of this Jarndyce-v-Jarndycetype saga is too long to go into here. The bare bones are that the bridge became unsafe in 2003; Mr Elf and Mr Safety demanded

that it be closed and knocked down by its owners, BW. A plan to rebuild it further upstream was halted because adjoining owners refused to sell the land, so Derbyshire County Council issued a compulsory purchase order. This is now going to a public inquiry. The original plan would have supposedly saved the local taxpayer about £500,000. Now “the cost of the new bridge has risen to £1.2m because of the delays to the project”. Other less controversial but nonetheless disturbing news from that quarter of the globe was reported by both the Derby Evening Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post following a collision last autumn between a trailer load of slurry and Bridge 20 on the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stenson. “Fertiliser” said the Telegraph “was dumped

We have mentioned before (Spring and Summer 2008 Waterways) the ongoing rumpus over land on the canal bank at Preston that BW wishes to either sell or rent to people who have cultivated it for some years past. Now the (Preston) Evening Post tells us “For a 12-foot square chunk of premium land in a ritzy part of London you might expect a four figure bill. But while the 116 people living on the banks of the Lancaster Canal …may live on the west side of Preston, they are certainly not in the West End”. The paper goes on to explain that “they have been told to buy the land

they have looked after for many years. They will have to fork out £1,000 for any piece of land under 50 sq m, £1,500 for anything over that and £2,000 for anything 101 sq m or above plus a £500 legal fee and VAT on top”. Later in the article, “Preston MP Mark Hendrick blasted the moves as “an outrageous money-making exercise” and said he had advised residents to get independent valuations”. One might merely add that the “MP and local councillors got involved in 2007 when BW sent out bills for the land after years of not collecting rent.” Further comment here seems superfluous.

in the Trent and Mersey Canal at Stenson…when a tractor and trailer tried to cross a brick bridge running over the waterway. Part of the bridge, which is on a private road between two farmer’s fields collapsed as the vehicle passed over it. This caused the trailer to swing round and disconnect from the tractor before crashing into the canal below.” Fortunately BW

were on the ball and caught the spill before any great damage was done to the water quality, but the bridge was a listed structure, so we can expect yet another long-drawn out episode before all is completely put right. The Yorkshire Post added the information that “bridge debris had to be lifted before boats in nearby marinas could get through.”

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EVENTS 23rd-24th Brookwood Boat Rally Basingstoke Canal. 01252 617364, brookwood.

23rd-24th Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Gathering Bratch Locks, Wombourne. Chris Dyche, 01384 375582.

John Lower

23rd-25th Crick Boat Show Norwood Tunnel on the Chesterfield Canal marks the current end of the navigable route from the Trent. IWA’s National Campaign Festival is to be staged at nearby Kiveton Park.

1st-4th IWA Northampton Branch Boat Gathering Fun and frolics beside the River Nene at Becket’s Park, Northampton. This event is gaining in popularity year by year. 01604 862988, e-mail dituk@ 2nd-3rd Loughborough Canal and Boat Festival Jo Swift, 01509 635827. 2nd-3rd Norbury Junction Rally 2nd-4th IWA Canalway Cavalcade Little Venice, London. This exciting, colourful event has been taking place since 1983. Organised by IWA Festivals, it represents a fabulous day (or more) out by the water. The theme of this year’s Cavalcade will be ‘Waterway Wonders’, as the Seven Wonders of the Waterways are celebrated in style. Other attractions will include a pageant of decorated boats, trade show, musicians, boat trips, procession of historic boats, Morris dancers and much more besides. A wonderful day out for the entire family in the heart of the capital city. 07876 597941,

8th-10th Nottingham Yacht Club Boat Gathering 01427 874109,

23rd-25th IWA National Campaign Rally Kiveton Park. This year’s Campaign Festival is to be staged at Kiveton Park, near Rotherham, on the summit level of the Chesterfield Canal. IWA wants to build support for the work of the Chesterfield Canal Partnership in its plans to replace the collapsed Norwood Tunnel with a surface route and thereby reconnect Kiveton Park to those parts of the canal that are already restored, and the parts of the

9th South Pennine Boat Club Rally Battyeford Lock, Calder & Hebble Navigation. 01924 491320, 9th Wey & Arun Grand Loxwood Opening

24th-25th IWA National Trailboat Festival Ashby Canal, Moira Furnace. The IWA National Trailboat Festival will be held at the impressive Moira Furnace, at the heart of the National Forest, on a recently restored section of the Ashby Canal. A wide range of entertainment has been booked by the Ashby Canal Trust, organiser of the event. Entertainment includes a historic re-enactment group, birds of prey, bands and a variety of children’s entertainment. The Moira Furnace Museum will be open as part of the festival, and there will be a chance to see the restored canal at Moira, including the first full-size lock on the Ashby Canal. Live steam, Morris dancing, boats, displays, refreshments and a bar will add to the event. Geoff Pursglove 01530 273956,,

16th-17th Rickmansworth Waterway Festival Rickmansworth Aquadrome and Batchworth Lock. 01923 778382, 17th Llanymynech Montgomery Canal Discover Day 01691 830094, www. 22nd-24th Folk, Boats and Beer Event Crooke Cruising Club, Wigan. 01942 525409, 22nd-25th FBCC Rally Lymm Cruising Club, Bridgewater Canal. Entry fee £16. 01925 754346.

British Waterways, London


23rd-25th Tring Canal Festival 07801 280426, www.

canal already under restoration in Derbyshire. A further aim is to promote the Partnership’s plans for a new navigable link between the Chesterfield Canal and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation. The event will comprise a large range of activities both on the water and along the towpath.

The Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice, organised by IWA Festivals, is one of the most colourful, cosmopolitan events of the year.

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EVENTS 2009 30th-31st Odiham Boat Rally Colt Hill, Basingstoke Canal. 30th-31st Etruria Canals Festival 01782 233144, 30th-31st BCN Marathon Challenge 01922 428644.

JUNE 5th-7th Beale Park Thames Boat Show 6th-7th Leicester Riverside Festival 0116 238 5082, www.leicester. 7th Dinghy Dawdle and Meander Montgomery Canal. 01686 640479, www.

It’s that time of year again – with the ‘rally season’ kicking off in earnest in May. A full list of events is published here, with contact details (phone, e-mail and, where applicable, website) so you can go ahead and plan your waterway outings well in advance.

12th-14th Russell Newbery Members’ Rally Shackerstone, Ashby Canal. 01452 415420/01543 432079, Register. 20th-21st Gardner Engine Rally Park Head, Dudley. 01949 869004, 27th-28th BCNS Rally Titford Pumphouse, Engine Street, Oldbury. 0121 422 4373, 27th-28th Braunston Working Boat Rally

JULY 3rd-5th Stratford River Festival 01789 299011, www. 5th Marple Locks Festival 11th-12th Leeds Waterfront Festival 25th Linslade Canal Festival

AUGUST 1st-2nd Bristol Harbour Festival 0117 9031484, 15th Pelsall Boat Gathering 0121 241 9310,

Waterway Images

23rd-25th Gathering of Boats at Snarestone A gathering of boats to coincide with the Trailboat Festival at Moira. 01455 614816,

Boats galore at last year’s National Festival & Boat Show at Autherley Junction. The 2009 ‘National’ will take place at Redhill Marina on the River Soar in Nottinghamshire.


11th-18th BCNS Explorer Cruise 0121 355 6351, 29th-31st IWA National Festival Redhill, Ratcliffe-on-Soar. The major festival of the year, the IWA National Festival & Boat Show, is being staged on the broad waters of the river Soar, allowing access to widebeam craft from the river Trent and all points North East. By mid March in excess of 200 craft had already booked in and it is confidently predicted that the 350 capacity will be reached. A good selection of historic craft are expected to attend and there will be all manner of entertainment on offer, including a gymnastic team, falconry displays, Morris dancers, folk and jazz bands etc. There will be plenty to amuse the children too, such as the ever popular Wild Over Waterways (WOW) activities. Trade stands and lots of refreshment tents complete the usual successful formula. All proceeds from the event go to waterway restoration schemes in the area – be sure to support IWA’s major event of 2009. 0844 800 6583, www.

5th-6th Shackerstone Family Festival Ashby Canal. 07767 400894, 19th Huddlesford Boat Gathering 19th-20th Whitchurch Boat Rally Whitchurch Arm, Llangollen Canal. 01948 830447,

OCTOBER 17th-18th Stourbridge Navigation Trust Open Weekend Chris Dyche, 01384 375582. 30th-31st BCNS Bonfire Rally

DECEMBER 12th Carols & Illuminated Boat Festival Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne.

IWA WATERWAYS / summer 2008 / 39

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Windlass in My Belt John Thorpe An autobiographical and evocative tale of a young boy’s journey into manhood set against the background of the Midland canal system in the 1950s and 60s. An enduring passion begins with early family trips and his parent’s purchase of a canalside cottage at Stoke Bruerne. It tells of his acceptance into the canal community and gives a vivid account on life on and journeys in, a working boat. An eulogy to friendship and the lost world of working boats

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The Last Number Ones Edited By Hugh Potter An inspiring, historic read, encapsulating the working lives of two charming, unforgettable characters. The ‘Number Ones’ were the proud elite of boat people who owned and operated their own cargo-carrying narrowboats. The term probably originated from boat gauging registers where there was a column for ‘fleet number’. 100 pages, pbk £19.99 + Free CD ROM of original BBC interviews

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JAMES BRINDLEY Canal Pioneer Christine Richardson Following the events that shaped Brindley’s life and career, we see the millwright’s apprentice develop into the nationally renowned engineer, who created the pioneering canals that form the heart of today’s network. 136 pages hbk /pbk 40 maps 36 b/w illustrations Hardback £29.95 Paperback £14.99

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21/4/09 11:11:08


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 any 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

I had not realised when I joined the committee and took on the task of editing the newsletter that the Chelmsford Branch of IWA is unique, as it covers the area containing the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. This is run by Essex Waterways Ltd, a subsidiary of IWA. I soon set about making a few changes and improving on my first edition. Renaming ‘newsletter’ to ‘magazine’ freed it up to have a broader remit and I have followed a few principles to try to make the offering successful. The main one is enabling access. This is not just being able to open the envelope when it plops through the post box! It means thinking of ways to present the material so that people will want to read it. Luckily for me, the main contributors from Essex Waterways Ltd, WRG and the IWA committee all write excellent articles. Readers have been kept up to date regarding work being completed on the navigation. I have included details of the monthly talks on the huge variety of inland waterway related topics that always have a good turnout. In pitch blackness I manage to write notes which, to my surprise, are more legible than normal! I have also given an airing to topics such as the proposed sale of lock houses on the Thames, British Waterways funding, mooring and licence fees, diesel derogation etc. The other aspect that is important to the magazine is the provision of photographs and the regular contributors demonstrate much skill in this department.

Wendy Hodkinson

Wish you were here? The beautiful Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation as featured in the new look Chelmsford Branch Newsletter.

Now, also, my camera goes where I go. This year I have managed to visit a number of the places that have featured in the articles including the Severn, Thames, Wey & Arun, Great Ouse, Little Ouse, Shropshire Union, Oxford Canal, Grand Union, Kiel Canal and of course not forgetting the Chelmer & Blackwater. Sognefjord, Aurlandsfjord, Ruskildedjord, Oslofjord, River Warnow, Lake Malaren, the Great Belt, the Winter Canal, Moika and Neva are still waiting in the wings, and I feel that an article about the Vikings is soon to be born. Realising the importance of maintaining and improving membership levels, we are designing a pull-out section to given to a friend, along with a copy of the IWA membership application form. Additional copies are to be placed in local libraries and sent to other organisations that may have people with similar interests. I keep hearing about how the IWA is seen as being an organisation just for boaters, particularly of the narrowboat breed, who are rather long in the tooth. The general public seems to take for granted that there will be attractive, safe and well maintained waterways when they want to walk, fish, canoe, sail and bird watch along their length. Few seem to remember that it isn’t naturally that way. In the main it is a man-made environment that needs to be cared for. Anything we can do to change that perception would be good. Wendy Hodkinson, Editor, Chelmsford Branch Newsletter


£27.00 £34.00

Details of all other rates are available from IWA Head Office – see the Directory on page 44.

A narrowboat passing a gas-fired power station at Keadby on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal.

D. Burrows

The View from Essex

Don’t Exclude Yorkshire! I read with interest Keith Goss’s article entitled ‘Broads, Lakes, Rivers & Canals’ in the Spring 2009 issue of Waterways. I just wonder why he didn’t mention that you can travel downstream from West Stockwith Lock to Keadby Lock at the start of the Stainforth & Keadby Canal, from where you can cruise the Yorkshire waterways.  Why oh why are boaters only told about the Fossdyke and the Chesterfield canals, lovely though they are, when after another few miles travel on the Trent they can visit the canals of Yorkshire and the North East? I feel the north-south divide setting in. Helen Goodinson, via e-mail Rebuke accepted Ms Goodinson and we shall endeavour to include more material on the waterways of Yorkshire and the North East in future issues. In the meantime, we’re publishing a photo of the Stainforth & Keadby Canal as a statement of intent – Ed.

IWA WATERWAYS / summer 2009 / 41

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Sexy WRG I have noted the popularity of the WRG camps but I now realise what must be a well kept secret. On page 21 of the Spring issue of Waterways, I note that the young lady with the wheelbarrow and shovel is working for “SEX WATERWAYS LTD”. No wonder WRG camps are so popular! Kerry Schofield, Derby Well spotted Kerry, none of the editorial team was as eagle-eyed as you. We publish a full schedule of 2009 Canal Camps in this issue – just in case you’re tempted to join the fun… and hard work too of course – Ed.

Lest we forget I have been encouraged by the letter from Stan Holland, published in the Spring issue of Waterways, to write down the speech I intended to make when I, too, was awarded a Richard Bird Medal for my services to IWA. Unfortunately, I was somewhat overcome (as he was) by the emotion of the occasion – and completely forgot what I had planned to say! Audrey and I first discovered the Shropshire Union and Llangollen canals about 30 years ago when visiting friends in the Ceiriog Valley. Our daughter, Mary, was about 10 years old at the time and insisted on walking the towpath through Chirk Tunnel where we saw, for the first time in our lives, holidaymakers in narrowboats. We looked into the brightly lit boats, and to our amazement saw tables and chairs, beds and gas cookers, instead of coal or some other cargo which I thought they would be carrying. I saw the excited look on my daughter’s face and said “Would you like to do that?” to which she replied “Oh! Yes please, Daddy”. So we looked at holiday advertisements, found out about narrowboat hire, and the next year we were cruising over the aqueduct and through that same Chirk Tunnel. We so enjoyed our first holiday that we wanted to visit another canal, and soon our canal holiday became an annual event. But then, already being motor-caravanners, we started to look out for the other canals we

could see on our maps, but which did not feature in the holiday brochures. We were in for another surprise – and nothing like as pleasant this time. When you go for a hire boat cruise you rarely see any dereliction, because you can only cruise on a navigable canal. You may pass a few derelict wharves and empty factories, but there is nothing to impede your progress along the canal. Imagine our dismay when, for the first time, we stood at the top of the then totally derelict Caen Hill flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal. We cried. We had no idea that this was the state of many of our canals at that time (and sadly still is for some of them). Our next thought was “there must be something we can do about this.” We saw a canal magazine, and bought it. Inside we read about IWA, and decided to join. We lived in Kent at the time so there was not the option of a canal society. We became active members of the Kent & East Sussex Branch and started to take part in national events as well. So started the long sequence of participation in the activities of IWA, which those who were present at the 2008 AGM heard read out by John Fletcher. I can only say, along with Stan Holland, how much I have enjoyed my involvement over the years, and pay tribute to the many delightful and enthusiastic friends I have met on the waterways. Arthur Page, via e-mail

the point in regard to these craft. Anyone who boats the system at all regularly will have come up against certain operators of such boats with just that attitude he complains of - one pair in particular spring to my mind, but I will refrain from identifying them - if I needed to!  But I hope in all sincerity that our pair do not fall into that category. I am talking of the Nutfield and the Raymond, owned and operated by the charity ‘The Friends Of Raymond’. We travel the Grand Union route frequently, to get to and from various festivals and events, with the odd foray further afield, and it is my wish and instruction to our crews that we must at all times proceed with all due consideration for other users. That isn’t to say we never get in people’s way - a pair of these old boats isn’t the easiest thing to manoeuvre - but we try not to.  And sometimes we do need to be able to overtake slow-moving boats - we may not

be carrying a load any more, but we do usually have somewhere to be, and a time by which we need to be there!  I hope, though, that we cause others the absolute minimum of inconvenience, even then.  I took over the captaincy twelve months ago - if anyone reading this has reason to have taken exception to the way these boats have been handled since then, or indeed does so in the future, I would be only too pleased to hear from them - you can come and remonstrate with me personally at any of the events we attend.  As Chris says, happy cruising to you all, and stay relaxed.  I look forward to exchanging a ‘How d’yer do’ with you along the way. Steve Miles, via e-mail

Happy Cruising I am writing in response to Chris Durham’s perceptive and amusing summation of the ‘hierarchy of the waterways’ in the Spring 2009 magazine. I cannot help but agree with much of what he says. My own feeling is that the one group doing the greatest disservice to our waterways, causing the most severe damage to the long-held traditions of friendship and camaraderie, are what a boating friend of mine once referred to as ‘the Jaguar on the motorway’ brigade - what Chris calls the ‘gin palaces’.  You know the ones I mean - the overly-shiny, not-very-old boat steered by a man in a finely-tailored shirt who contemptuously ignores your greeting, with the wellcoiffeured wife wearing soft gloves who tells you ‘we don’t like sharing locks in case you scratch our paint’. They may have the money, but whatever happened to the courtesy?  And, speaking as the captain of a pair of ex-working boats, I do take

Thank you to all the other readers who have written to us on this topic. Space constraints preclude us from publishing them all – Ed.

42 / IWA WATERWAYS / summer 2009

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Bureaucratic Disaster


In response to the continuing debate about the future for our waterways, I submit that British Waterways is another bureaucratic disaster to rival British Gas, British Steel, British Coal etc. BW was set up as a mindless Board in the late 1940s, its sole purpose being to let the waterways fill in and rot away. With all the nationalised industries sold off, BW still goes floundering on, always trying to project an expensive, polished, changed image. There are two tiers of directors. The board has ten directors who charge fees totalling £192,717 in 2008. There are nine executive directors with collective salaries of £2,021,124 p.a. When adding to this figure annual bonuses and benefits totalling £810,898, the cost to the taxpayer and canal users becomes staggering. And then there’s the pensions that will continue on for years… The Prime Minister currently receives an annual salary of £186,000 to run the country, whilst BW’s chief executive gets

Volunteers at work beside the Wey & Arun Canal. This restoration project benefits from not being under the jurisdiction of British Waterways.

The Autumn 2009 issue of Waterways will be published in August 2009. Editorial copy closing date is 1st July 2009.

£279,613 to run the waterways and that’s without consideration for bonuses, benefits and a £65,000 a year pension which is rising. Out of the 19 Directors we look to for their expertise in running our canal system, only one, Mr Bower, does actually have his own boat which, presumably, he must use. There is Mr E. Prescott who apparently claims to have had 45 years’ experience of fishing on the canals. Apart from one other board member who had some involvement with Coventry Council, all the others have neither experience nor interests in the important business that they are highly paid to direct. For the board of 19 directors to have to engage and pay an outside company, who knew no more of the waterways than they do, to advise them on running a business that they themselves are highly paid to do, reflects the bureaucratic failure of BW’s boards over the last 60 years. The general attitude of those who are supposed to be looking after such a valuable, historical and industrial structure is reflected in their attendance at important committee meetings throughout last year: Maggie Carver attended once; Eric Preston attended once; Pommy Sarwall attended once; Prof. G. Flemming did not attend any. Following a Government reshuffle last year, we now have a new Waterways Minister (Huw Irranca-Davies) who again unfortunately has no knowledge of our canal system. However, he has suggested that he will be taking a canal boat holiday in the spring. Sadly, under the ‘democratic dictatorship’ that we now live with, our cherished, historical waterways have become the ‘soft golden plum for the boys’. It is we, the canal users, with the guiding hand of IWA and the supportive assistance of our canal magazines and their towpath telegraph system, who are left to address and put right our canal system for the benefit of all. The waterways belong to us and should be maintained by us, not by expensive bureaucrats without the necessary knowledge or expertise. A good guide to running the waterways can be taken from the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, which is under the control of Essex Waterways Ltd (a subsidiary of IWA), whilst the Wey & Arun Canal restoration project is another pointer to good practice, being undertaken by knowledgeable volunteers – not those who have let the system deteriorate in the first place. Jack Domane, via e-mail

Are you looking for a crew? Over the years, friends and I have hired narrowboats, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring various routes (including part of the Trent & Mersey, the Caldon, the South Pennine Ring and the Four Counties Ring). This year I would like to join a crew and am at this stage free virtually anytime, to go anywhere. I am prepared to pay my share of the costs. I wonder if through Waterways, you are able to perhaps match me up with a group searching for another crew member to make up numbers. Colleen Field, Uxbridge

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL It was a dark and dismal mid winter’s morning when I received my Spring 2009 issue of Waterways. The radio was telling tales of economic doom and gloom, there was strife in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the long-suffering England cricket team was ignominiously losing the Test series in the West Indies. What a tonic it was, therefore, to open Waterways and read the item ‘Broads, Lakes, Rivers & Canals’, with its superb collection of photographs. I especially enjoyed the view of Lake Coniston with the steam yacht and canoe heading down the lake, the photo of the fishing boat on the Caledonian Canal at Banavie, and the picture of the small boats at Arundel in West Sussex – a town I know well. It was interesting to read the interview with new IWA chairman Clive Henderson. His love and knowledge of canals, and his commitment to the cause, shone through in the replies he gave to the questions posed. Most of all though I was enthused by the ‘Restoration Update’ piece. How encouraging it was to read of the various schemes making good progress towards completion – and of the dedication and enthusiasm of IWA and canal society members working so hard to protect and expand the waterway network. Thank you to everyone involved in the restoration movement. Simon Ireland, via e-mail There is more good news to report in this issue, with the opening of the Liverpool Link and Boston Lock – see ‘Restoration Update ‘on pages 18-20. And should you feel inspired enough to join a WRG working party, a full list of this summer’s Canal Camps is published on pages 14-15 – Ed. IWA WATERWAYS / summer 2009 / 43

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DIRECTORY HEAD OFFICE Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA . Tel: 01494 783453 e-mail: Website: Vice Presidents: Harry Arnold, David Blagrove, Chris Coburn MBE, David Court OBE, Brian Dice OBE, David Fletcher CBE, Illtyd Harrington JP, David Hilling MBE, Tony Hirst OBE, James Hoseason OBE, John Humphries OBE, The Viscountess Knollys DL OBE, The Earl of Shannon, Sonia Rolt, Audrey Smith OBE, David Suchet OBE, Sheila Suchet, Paul Wagstaffe MBE, David Wain OBE All Trustees and National Committees can be contacted via Head Office. Board of Trustees: Clive Henderson (Chairman), John Baylis, Doug Beard, Derek Bradley, Ray Carter, Les Etheridge (Deputy Chairman), John Fletcher, Peter Kelly, Mike Palmer, John Pomfret, John Reeve, Paul Roper, Gillian Smith, Roger Squires (Deputy Chairman), Paul Strudwick, Vaughan Welch (Deputy Chairman), Ian West Finance Committee:   Les Etheridge (Chairman). contact via Head Office. David Carrington, Mike Dyer, John Fletcher, Tony Harrison, Gordon Harrower, Mike Palmer, Nick Parker, Gillian Smith, Ian West, Alan Wiffen, Kerry Williamson             Navigation Committee: Roger Squires (Chairman). Tel: 0207 232 0987.  John Baylis (Deputy Chairman), Derek Bradley, Ian Fletcher, Steve Connolly,  Peter Kelly, John Pomfret, John Reeve, Vaughan Welch      Restoration Committee: Vaughan Welch (Chairman). Tel: 0121 477 9782.     Chris Birks, Geraint Coles, Tony Harrison, Tony Hinsley, Martin Ludgate, Keith Noble (Deputy Chairman), Paul Roper, Andy Screen (Deputy Chairman), Luke Walker Promotions and Communications Committee: Jerry Sanders (Chairman). Tel: 01283 716 158. Julie Arnold, Helen Bedingfield, John Bedingfield, Ray Carter, Madeline Dean, Elizabeth Payne, Jim Shead, Gillian Smith, Frank Wallder, Vaughan Welch, Helen Whitehouse Waterway Recovery Group:  Mike Palmer (Chairman). Tel: 01564 785293.           Inland Waterways Enterprises Limited Board of Directors:    Les Etheridge (Chairman). Contact via Head Office    Neil Edwards, John Fletcher, Ian West     IWA Festivals Division: Ian West (Chairman). Tel: 01564 230104.   Inland Waterways Freight Group:  John Pomfret (Chairman). Tel: 01788 891027. Hon. Consultant Engineers: Roy Sutton, BA Hons MICE,  Tony Harrison, BSc (Hons), DHE, MICE. Tel: 01491 872380             Hon. Consultant Planner: Bob Dewey BA (Hons) MBA, MRTPI IWA Committee for Wales: General secretary, Gerallt Hughes. Tel: 01341 250631. Essex Waterways Limited Board of Directors: Roy Chandler (Chairman), Colin Davis, Neil Edwards, Jim Jenkins, John Pomfret. Navigation Manager: Colin Edmond

Regional Contacts                 East Midlands Chairman: John Baylis. Tel: 01623 621208.                            Eastern Chairman: Derek Bradley. Tel: 01353 661601.              London Chairman: Roger Squires. Tel: 020 72320987.               North East & Yorkshire Chairman: John Reeve. Tel: 01642 580350.                     North West Chairman: Gillian Smith. Tel: 01257 463485.                       South East Chairman: Paul Roper. Tel: 0118 9813381. South West Chairman: Peter Kelly. Tel: 01752 843556.      West Midlands Chairman: Clive Henderson. Tel: 01564 783672.    

DIRECTORY Branch Contacts                 Avon & Wiltshire  John Webb. Tel: 01225 836137.       Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Vaughan Welch. Tel: 0121 4779782. Cambridge  Stephen Foote. Tel: 01763 838936. Chelmsford Jan Thurston. Tel:01702 529553.                 Chester & District Margaret Pitney. Tel: 0151 6086487.             Chiltern Peter Winter. Tel: 01494 813338.      East Yorkshire Mrs Chris Stones. Tel: 01482 875894.                     Glouc & Hereford Martin Turner. Tel: 01291 650605. Guildford & Reading Mike Adams. Tel: 01483 773512.    Hertfordshire Michael Wright. Tel: 01727 860137.                      Ipswich Charles Stride. Tel: 01728 831061.     Kent & East Sussex Roy Sutton. Tel: 01342 317569. Lee & Stort John Shacklock. Tel: 01992 465643.                       Leicestershire David Hastie. Tel: 0116 2608027.                    Lichfield Phil Sharpe. Tel: 01889 583330. Lincolnshire  Penny Carnell. Tel: 01469 530138.     Manchester Steve Connolly. Tel: 01942 679310.                       Merseyside & West Lancs Andrew Lawton. Tel: 01695 572389.                       Middlesex Robin Bishop. Tel: 020 8452 2632. Milton Keynes Peter Caswell. Tel: 07702 668924.                     North & East London  Roger Wilkinson. Tel: 0208 4589476.          North Lancashire & Cumbria Madeline Dean. Tel: 01257 231861.              Northampton  Jan Andrews. Tel: 01604 858023.                      Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire  Contact via IWA Head Office. Oxfordshire Ron Heritage. Tel: 01869 277400.                       Peterborough Nigel Long. Tel: 01733 553782.                     Shrewsbury District & N Wales  Dawn Aylwin. Tel: 01691 830403.             Solent & Arun  Brendan Whelan. Tel: 01903 816012.                   South London Lesley Pryde. Tel: 07787 360957.                      South Wales  Jeff Roberts. Tel: 01225 872095.                       South Yorkshire & Dukeries Mavis Paul. Tel:0114 2683927.                         Stoke on Trent   Alison Smedley. Tel: 01538 385388. Warwickshire Sue Roy. Tel: 01926 497845.                     West Country Chris Jewell. Tel: 01288 352298.                       West Riding Ian Moore. Telephone Alastair Furniss: 0113 2539401.

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Glebe Farm, Stockton, Southam, CV47 8JG Tel: 01926 812134 Fax: 01926 810354 Email:


A family business of 25 years’ experience providing a reliable, friendly and personal service to transport narrowboats by road, up to 70’ long and 25 tonnes in weight. We also have a 35 tonne and 70 tonne crane for hire.

T.R. Boat Handling RYA Recognised Teaching Establishement “The experience increased our knowledge & confidence well above our expectations” Howard and Sue, Doncaster The ideal present that lasts forever 1,2 and 3 day RYA courses aboard our narrow boat or your own craft RYA Inland Waterway Helmsman certificate for both beginners and the experienced from £95.00 Friendly and understanding instructor also ICC & CEVNI courses MCA Boat Master Grade 3

“Thank you for a fantastic day. Your guidance, gentle coaxing & patience got the best from both of us” Sharon and Steve, Belper

Book your course now

Tel: Terry 01785 824012 Mob 07947 337492

IWA WATERWAYS / Summer 2009 / 45

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Webtherm Marine Spray Foam Insulation Proper price, proper job

30 01405 812682 0800 581247 Crow Tree Farm, Thorne Levels, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN8 5TF

Email: Website:

WATERWAYS ADVERTISING Summer 2009 Waterways is distributed free to all members of the Association with a total readership of over 20,000. We offer a first class service to advertisers in every field connected with inland waterways, such as boating, hiring, insurance, building, publishing, catering chandlery or brokerage. To advertise in IWA Waterways please contact Tony Preston, Advertising Manager, 151 Station Street, Burton-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 1BG. 01283 742 965 or

Index to Advertisers A & K Insulation ........................................................... 22 AB Tuckey ...................................................................... 45 ABC Leisure Group ..................................................... 21 Advanced Elements Kayaks ........................................ 27 Adverc BM Ltd .............................................................. 13 Arlen Hire Boats .......................................................... 23 Bargee Bill ....................................................................... 48 Blisworth Tunnel Narrowboats ................................ 48 Botany Bay ..................................................................... 16 Braunston Marina ............................................................5 British Waterways ........................................................ 35 Caldwells ........................................................................ 22 Canal Cruising Co ........................................................ 35 Canal Junction ............................................................... 35 Castle Narrowboats .................................................... 22 Channelglaze .................................................................. 22 Church Minshull ..................................................... 17, 45 Colecraft Engineering Ltd ........................................... 22 Country Craft Narrowboats ..................................... 21 Elite Furnishings ............................................................ 23

Fenland District Council ................................................4 Fox’s Boats ..................................................................... 22 GEOprojects .................................................................. 23 Kingsground Narrowboats ......................................... 21 Lee Sanitation ................................................................ 16 M&R Controls ............................................................... 35 Maestermyn Group ...................................................... 16 Mel Davis ........................................................................ 17 Mercia Marina ..............................................................IBC Narrowboat Buyers ..................................................... 45 Navigators & General .................................................. 17 Nottingham Boat Sales ...................................................3 Orchard Marina ............................................................ 27 Pennine Cruisers .............................................................4 Powermaster Systems ................................................. 21 Red Hill Marine ................................................................4 Reeves Boatbuilders ..................................................... 16 Riversdale Barge Co .................................................... 35 Rose Narrowboats ..........................................................4 Safeshore Marine .......................................................... 48

Saul Junction Marina .................................................... 23 Shobnall Boat Services ................................................ 45 Stephen Goldsbrough Boats ...................................... 35 Swanley Bridge Marina ................................................ 13 Tattenhall Marina .............................................................3 Teddlesley Boat Co ..................................................... 21 The Boat Shop .............................................................. 48 The New Boat Co .................................................. OBC Tingdene Marina ..............................................................2 Towergate Mardon ...................................................... 13 TR Boat Handling ......................................................... 45 Troll Publishing .............................................................. 27 Ventnor Farm Marina .................................................. 45 Videoactive ........................................................................4 Waterside Canal Craft ................................................ 21 Websters Insulation ..................................................... 48 Wharf House Narrowboats ...................................... 16 Whilton Marina ........................................................... IFC Worcester Marine Windows .................................... 16

48 / IWA WATERWAYS / Summer 2009

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Conveniently located on the Trent and Mersey Canal and close to the junction of the A38 and A50 in Derbyshire, Mercia Marina is set in 74 acres of unspoilt countryside. The Marina has been designed and built to offer boaters first-class facilities for your enjoyment and recreations. By retaining the natural profile of Willington Lake and adding islands and promontories, the design deliberately creates a number of small marinas within the larger waterscape thereby providing moorers with the ambience of a small marina but with all the facilities and benefits of a large marina. ■ Easier boat manouvering due to large expanses of open water between pontoons ■ Extra-wide pontoons with full length jetties for your comfort and safety ■ Canal-side location so no problems from flooding rivers ■ 240V/16A individually metered electricity to each berth, water to all berths ■ Car parking close to all pontoons ■ 25 super berths with pontoons on each side ■ CCTV and electrically operated security gates ■ Three high quality amenity buildings with showers, toilets and laundry facilities ■ Chandlery/Shop, Workshop, Brokerage, Tea Rooms ■ Covered double dry dock available to DIYers ■ Fuelling quay, pump out, Elsan disposal, etc. ■ Independent repair and maintenance workshop ■ Wireless internet throughout the site ■ Natural setting and a nature reserve lake ■ Easy walking distance of Willington and Findern, 10 minutes drive to Derby, 15 minutes to M1, 25 minutes to Nottingham ■ Near to Peak District National Park & Derbyshire Dales

To find out more call 01283 703332 or email OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK

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Waterways Summer Issue  

The magazine of the Inland Waterways Association

Waterways Summer Issue  

The magazine of the Inland Waterways Association