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SUMMER 2011 | ISSUE 232


EVENTS 2011plete

The com listings

A New Era

Preparing for the Third Sector

Waterway wildlife A PRECIOUS REFUGE THE INTERVIEW WRG’s Jenny Black COVER.indd 2


News from the branches


Inspiring the youngsters 20/4/11 11:16:29

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The Column of the National Chairman

Summer 2011


What’s been happening around the network

11 FREIGHT A round up of commercial carrying developments

14 THE NEW ERA IWA’s reaction to Defra’s eagerly awaited Third Sector consultation document

20 EVENTS 2011 A comprehensive listing of rallies and festivals throughout the waterway network


A WILDLIFE PARADISE What’s to see on the inland waterway network

28 THE INTERVIEW We talk to Waterway Recovery Group’s Jenny Black

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


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

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

42 INBOX Readers’ letters

A New Era for our Waterways

We have now seen Defra’s detailed consultation document on their proposals to establish a new charitable body to take on the operation of the waterways currently run by British Waterways and to which the waterways operated by the Environment Agency, also Government funded, are planned to be transferred in 2015. You can read more on this on pages 14-17. I would encourage you to read or download the full consultation and submit your own personal response by the end of June. IWA will of course submit a central response reflecting the views of trustees after input from the branches and regions.

The new Waterways Charity has to be viable

Whilst IWA welcomes the commitment to a long term government contract for the charity, we expressed our disappointment at the immediate scale of cuts in Government grant and the likely impact on waterway budgets. We all have concerns about aspects of the condition of the waterways on the day that the charity is planned to take them over, we would not want them to get worse. Our support for the concept of an independent charity operating the majority of the waterway network of Britain has been conditional on there being adequate Government support and funding to secure a viable and sustainable future for the new charity. The months ahead will be a critical time for the trustees of the new charity to negotiate the long term funding contract to ensure that it is, and is seen to be, adequate.

The Good News

I read the Foreword to the consultation from Richard Benyon, the Waterways Minister, with some pleasure as it recorded the vital role that the waterways play in our country today, as well as paying tribute to the successes of recent years that would, in my opinion, not have happened without IWA and its members. Government’s policy for the waterways is contained in this document; we must grasp it if we are to work towards the new era it proposes. To do this we must all change our attitudes to volunteering and engagement. We must forget any problems of the past and work with a broader group of stakeholders.

WATERWAYS EDITOR: Keith Goss Tel: 01283 742951 E-mail: ART EDITOR: Liane Hunt ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER: Ian Sharpe Tel: 01283 742977 E-mail: ADVERTISING DESIGN: Jill Brown, Clare Salisbury ADVERTISING PRODUCTION: Samantha Lloyd E-mail: EDITORIAL BOARD: Neil Edwards, Jo Gilbertson, Keith Goss, Clive Henderson, Peter Johns, Jim Shead REPROGRAPHICS: Waterways World Ltd, 151 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 1BG. Printed in England by Warners (Midlands) PLC, Bourne, Lincs Articles may be reproduced provided permission is obtained and acknowledgement made. ISSN 0969-0654 

One of the challenges is to really engage with all communities that live around or visit the waterways. In terms of diversity the waterways fail most modern measures in terms of youth and ethnicity. For youth, the activities of WOW, to which IWA and BW give time and resource, have not always reached as broad an audience as we would have liked in order to enthuse the next generation of supporters. There is an ongoing role for skilled or enthusiastic volunteers in this arena. On diversity, the challenges are even greater but perhaps one day the measure of success will be when the sight of boats displaying a fish emblem with the initials BCF inside will be matched by sights of others with BMF initials that have no connection with the British Marine Federation (think about it). These aspects should not overtake the good news story that is happening so please share that with your neighbours, friends and those you meet around the waterways. There are a wide range of festivals and events coming up over the summer, use them to gather support for the new era.

What’s in a name?

I will close with a comment on the name that may finally be given to the new charity. I have read that Tony Hales, the BW chairman, would like to see only a modest change in name from BW, presumably along the lines of many of the examples in the consultation. Others think that the necessary cultural change within the current organisation will only be achieved by a major change. My personal view aligns with the latter but I must confess that most of the currently aired contenders seem remarkable unimaginative and boring so I will throw my own suggestion into the debate to be ridiculed or supported as you see fit but I do so in the hope that it will challenge you to propose your own ideas to the consultation in Q29. My suggestion is: ‘We  Waterways’. I would love to wear a tee shirt bearing that name as it gives the right message, simple but not boring. The other words given in the consultation of trust, canals, rivers, charity or national can be covered in footnotes or strap lines; they don’t grab young peoples’ attention.

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Founded: 1946, Incorporated 1958 Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453 E-mail: Web site: Chief Executive – Neil Edwards Company Secretary – Helen Elliott-Adams Operations & Information Systems Manager – David Forrester Campaign & Communications Manager – Jo Gilbertson Nothing printed in Waterways may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated, otherwise IWA accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Although every care is taken with advertising matters no responsibility whatsoever can be accepted for any matter advertised.

Where a photo credit includes a note such as CC-BY-SA, the image is made available under that Creative Commons licence; full details at

COVER PICTURE Swans and hire boaters share the serenity of the recently restored Droitwich Barge Canal. ROBIN SMITHETT

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| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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n 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 24th September 2011 at 2pm. The venue for the meeting will be Cookley Village Hall, Lea Lane, Cookley, DY10 3RH. Full details of the meeting will be provided in the next edition of Waterways. In accordance with Article 43, nominations to stand as an elected trustee (two places available) are sought. Nominations are also sought for the posts of region chairman to serve until the 2014 AGM for London Region, South East Region and Eastern Region.

IWA Volunteering Opportunities Volunteers with Financial Experience Required Help is needed to support the operation and management of the Association, through the oversight work of the Finance Committee, to start early 2012. We are particularly interested in hearing from anyone with a financial or commercial background involving the management of staff, and /or budget responsibility in a multi-tiered organisation. The committee meets six times per year, in the Warwickshire area, for which travelling expenses may be paid. If you would like to help us, please send brief details of your experience and qualifications to: Gordon Harrower, gordon.harrower@waterways., or to the chief executive at Head Office. Please include your telephone number and e-mail address.

Any member can submit a nomination for a nationally elected trustee, which should be accompanied by confirmation from the nominee that they are willing to be elected as a trustee of the Association. Nominations for region chairmen should be made by a member of the relevant region. The nominee should also be a member of that region. All nominations should be accompanied by a brief biography or statement not exceeding 400 words, for publication as part of any ballot paper with the notice convening the AGM to be issued in the next (August) edition of Waterways. All nominations should be received by no later than 2pm on Friday 1st July (i.e. 85 days before the AGM).

Canalway Cavalcade Help is needed to assist in running the Cavalcade over the May Day weekend to do jobs such as setting up equipment, erecting signs and fencing, bucket rattling, brochure distribution, stewarding and bar staff. For more information please see canalway_cavalcade_2011_/volunteer_ oportunities.

The Waterways Festival It takes over 300 volunteers to stage this event, so if you can spare any time your support is needed. On completion of the online volunteer form Personnel Manager Ann Myall will contact you nearer to the event and organise with you personally how you would like to help and in what area. No previous experience is necessary. Simply complete the online form. We aim to be out and about for the four weekends prior to the Festival, so need support for this. Once again no experience

is necessary as you will always be accompanied. E-mail sandy.jones@

Photo Archivist Required Volunteer archivist – to help re-organise IWA’s digital photo archive and scan in paper and slide archives at Head Office in Chesham. Work hours are flexible and full training will be provided. For further information please e-mail gemma.

IWA Branch and Region Help Wanted Planning Officer - North & East London Branch of IWA seeks a member to act as the Branch Planning Officer. This involves liaison with local council planning departments, the scrutiny of planning proposals relevant to the waterways, and providing comments on them, especially where, if they were approved, that might prejudice the enjoyment and benefits derived from the local waterways.

Working Holiday Leaders Interested in becoming a Canal Camp Leader for the Waterway Recovery Group? As a WRG Canal Camp Leader you will experience the wonderful scenery the UK has to offer, help restore part of the nation’s industrial heritage, meet volunteers of all ages and backgrounds and most importantly have fun. Find out more by joining them on the 14th May for the Leaders Training Day. For more information please go to www. become_a_leader.


For a full list of volunteer opportunities go to: www. waterways. vacancies/ vacancies.

The National Festival always needs volunteers.

| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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Inglesham Update


ince the last edition of Waterways planning works and donations have been carrying on apace, and three full WRG work camps are planned for the year. 13th August - 20th August CC201115 Cotswold - Inglesham (Gloucestershire) £56. 20th August - 27th August CC201117 Cotswold - Inglesham (Gloucestershire) £56. 27th August - 3rd September CC201119 Cotswold - Inglesham (Gloucestershire) £56.

You can be part of the first canal camps at Inglesham Lock! Inglesham Lock is seen as the gateway to the Cotswold Canals restoration. The Inland Waterways Association is in the process of raising £125,000 to enable volunteers to restore and recommission this iconic structure just off the River Thames at Lechlade.

What your money is going to be spent on in 2011... Work will include construction of a site compound, landing stage and dam. Volunteers will also start rebuilding the upper wing walls of the lock. These camps give volunteers the opportunity to get their hands dirty right at the start of an exciting project.

This will include: 1. Construction of a temporary dam at the river entrance. 2. De-watering the contained area into a settling lagoon upstream of the forebay, to allow access into the lock chamber. 3. Construction of a temporary compound access and hardstanding. 4. Relocation of the existing lock coping stones to an excavated strip behind for safe keeping whilst restoration takes place, maintaining their sequence and making safe the chamber for clearance purposes. 5. Installation of pilings to create a new landing stage. 6. Depending on the stability of the bottom lock gate recess wall, set up a barrow hoist to remove material from the invert under the bridge and the tail end walls. 7. Once clear, the brickwork under the bridge can be prepared and made good. We are making sure the bridge support suffers no further degradation. We also want to get scaffold in to point up the bridge and remove the ivy. 8. The tail walls are going to be dismantled as necessary and re-built, during which stop plank groove installation and invert detail will be resolved. 9. In addition there’ll be track maintenance and probably work on the ends of the bridge walls where they are disrupted by the hedge and tree growth. If you want to get involved and help out on site, please contact Jenny Black on 01494 783453, e-mail If you would like to help our appeal and make a donation please go to

IWA Member Discounts and Special Offers


he following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members: 5% discount at Midland Chandlers; special hire rates with Europcar. It should be noted that all discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers’ discretion. For full details of how to take advantage of these offers please go to uk/support_us/member_ services/member_ discounts_special_offers_ public, or telephone 01494 783453.

Overcrowding issues


n 4th March the first meeting took place of a working group to look at the extent of alleged overcrowding in the Central Shires BW area and the impact of new marinas in recent years thereon. The group is led by British Marine Federation and includes other representatives together with IWA’s chair of the Navigation Committee as the only user representative. The intention is to develop criteria to objectively define overcrowding and to identify palliatives. The Trent & Mersey Canal – one of our busiest waterways.

IWA waterways - Summer 2011 | News-Summer.indd 9


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Taylor’s Boatyard faces brighter future


hanks to IWA’s Chester Branch, the future of an old Shropshire Union Canal boatyard in Chester is looking more secure. This specially built canal boat dock is known locally as Taylor’s Yard since J. Harry Taylor took it over from the canal company in the 1930s. As the carrying trade reduced, however, they turned their attention to maintaining pleasure cruisers in the area. They also built a range of elegant mahogany canal cruisers in the 1950s and ‘60s, some of which still grace the waterways. However, much remains of the more historic aspects of the yard – some of which dates back to the 1840s – and deserves conserving. A number of obstacles have stood in the way of the restoration of the yard. One of these was an oak tree adjacent to the sawmill. It was a hazard and a potential threat to the Grade II listed building as well as possibly compromising the use of the yard as a working boatyard. Although there was a good case for its removal, local authority permission was required for this, since the yard is in a Conservation Area. This permission was obtained by Chester Canal Heritage Trust (CCHT) in July 2010. The Chester Branch of IWA has always been a strong supporter of the plans to restore the yard and had earmarked some funding for this purpose from the 2005 IWA National Festival at Runcorn. It made a generous grant towards the cost of felling the oak tree, the work being carried out in mid-February. As part of this work, the trunk of the tree has been planked and the timber returned to the yard, where it can be used either for work on

a boat or some other appropriate project. Although the buildings have been empty for some time and in a very poor state of repair, British Waterways has now selected new tenants for the yard, who moved on site just before the end of 2010 and are now getting ready for business. Pete and Yvette Askey, the owners of the company JP Marine, will be offering a full range of boatyard serices. They have already cleared a good part of the slipways and are planning a programme of restoration work on the derelict buildings. Chester Canal Heritage Trust has been working closely with the new tenants, who are sympathetic to the historic nature of the yard and are keen to work with the Trust, and other interested volunteer groups in preserving and displaying its heritage. As part of this, the Trust has recently organised three further Recording Work Parties to continue the task of compiling a written and photographic record of objects in the yard that are of historical significance. IWA Chester Branch members have been involved in the various work parties that CCHT has organised since 2008. Well over 150 objects have been uncovered and recorded, including some dating back to the yard’s Shropshire Union days. With new tenants hoping to create a viable working boatyard again and more work parties planned, the future for the semi-derelict yard now looks much brighter, although significant funds will be needed to restore the buildings to their full glory. Ray Buss & Gillian Bolt

ABOVE: The problematical oak tree... BELOW: ...was felled in mid-February.

Continuous Cruising Judgement


udgment was made in March at Bristol County Court concerning the interpretation of Section 17 of the British Waterways Act 1995 (relating to Continuous Cruising). Mr Davies, the defendant, kept his boat on the Kennet & Avon Canal in the Bradford upon Avon area and declined to respond to BW’s repeated warnings that his boat movement was not sufficient to meet the licensing requirements. These state that to qualify for a BW boat licence, a boat must have a home mooring – somewhere where it may lawfully


be kept when not being used for cruising. An exception is made for boats which ‘bona fide’ navigate throughout the period of the licence. Because Mr Davies did not move sufficiently or agree to comply with its other terms and conditions, BW refused his application to license his boat. And, because the boat is Mr Davies’ home, BW followed its usual procedure of asking the Court to decide on this case. There was little or no dispute as to the extent of Mr Davies’ boat movements. Central to the issue considered by the court was the meaning of the term ‘bona fide navigation’.

The Judge noted that his purpose in keeping the boat between Bath and Bradford was so that his home was within convenient distance of his place of work and his social circle, and that his purpose in moving the boat was to escape the requirement to have a permanent mooring. The Judge said: “What is clear to me is that the defendant who is clearly living on the boat cannot successfully claim that he is using it ‘bona fide for navigation’ by moving it every so often up and down a short stretch of canal.” Mr Davies was given until 30th June to remove his boat from BW waters.

| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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he IWFG has always argued the case for maximising the use of water transport where construction sites are located alongside navigable waterways. On the large scale it was hoped that water transport could play a significant role in the development of the Olympic site but dilatoriness stymied this. Works for Crossrail and Thames Tunnel both provide considerable scope for waterborne freight with some examples of its use already in place – most recently the Green Barge Company’s three year contract for removal of spoil from Beckton to Mucking for Thames Tunnel. The tunnel works require a number of construction sites and the alignment of long sections of the tunnel either under or close to the Thames really favours use of the

river. Choice of the actual sites is currently open to consultation. One can but hope that lessons have been learned from the Olympic experience and that the rail and tunnel companies with proactive engagement of shipping interests will not waste the opportunities for freight by water. At a very different scale it was pleasing during March to see traditional canal boats at work in Berkhamsted on the Grand Union. Since the demise of Bridgewater Boats there has been an on-going debate regarding the site redevelopment proposals and considerable opposition to the complete elimination of all signs of the canal boat heritage. Work is now in progress on a development which retains a boatyard facility with residential development and most commendably



ABOVE: Castle Wharf, Berkhamsted as it once was. RIGHT: Building materials on site – having been delivered by narrowboat. Thameside Construction, the development company, has been persuaded to use canal boats for the removal of some demolition material and also items of incoming building materials. Inadequate maintenance and particularly dredging has at different times and on a number of waterways served to restrict freight carrying

n a recent issue of Ships Monthly magazine the readers’ debate presented the case for and against concentration of port activity. The recent trend has been towards concentration, larger ships and closing of peripheral ports. Our concern for using water transport to the maximum favours retention of smaller regional and inland ports to allow sea trade to get as close to its market as possible and reduce road haulage from a few large coastal ports. In the May 2011 edition of the same magazine it was noted that increasing ship size has also been a feature in short-sea trades with a declining number of ships able to serve smaller, and especially inland ports. Early in 2010, the Torrent, 1,200 tonnes capacity and a 1991 product of Hull’s Yorkshire Dry Dock Company, loaded pulverised fuel ash 90 km inland by way of the Humber at Drax for direct shipment to Waterford in Ireland. The alternative use of lorries does not bear thinking about. Given the present financial position it is unlikely that there will be any action to check the decline in small ship numbers and it is not easy to see what form this might take.

capacity and a narrowboat engaged in the Berkhamsted traffic was stopped by accumulated silt at a lock and had to reduce its load and draught before resuming work. This is definitely not the way to attract freight off roads and on to water.

Oil back in the frame


ecent oil price increases have put oil back in the headlines and at the recent Freight by Water seminar in Bristol there was a powerful paper regarding the likely availability of oil in the future. Present estimates of ever increasing demand are unlikely to be met by anticipated growth in supply with the political factor adding greatly to the risk. Even if one were prepared to ignore the evidence of global air pollution and warming, very unwise, there are strong arguments for encouraging the forms of transport which economise on oil use – and this must favour water transport. Precisely the position we had in the mid1970s and we must hope that we now take more notice of the portents than we then did. It is difficult to be optimistic but while the arguments in favour of water transport grow stronger, the chances of positive action seem to become weaker.

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River Wye tops the charts


he Wye has been voted the nation’s favourite river. The river came top in a public vote ahead of the Thames, the Dart in Devon, the Great Ouse and the Wandle which runs into London. The award was organised by the Our Rivers campaign - backed by the RSPB, WWF-UK, the Angling Trust and the Salmon &Trout Association. A plaque to mark the honour was handed over to members of the Wye & Usk Foundation, the conservation charity which cares for the river. A short film by respected wildlife cameraman Hugh Miles was also unveiled to celebrate the award. It can be seen on YouTube by visiting Ralph Underhill from the Our Rivers campaign said: “We were really pleased with the response from the public when we launched this award to find the nation’s favourite river, a lot of people out there are very passionate about their local river. “The Wye was always a front runner for the award, with its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, so we’re delighted to be handing this award to the Wye and Usk Foundation who do so much to protect it.” As well as highlighting the nation’s favourite rivers, the awards also emphasised the threats many rivers face including pollution from agriculture, sewage discharges, over abstraction and invasive species. The Thames was voted the country’s worst river ahead of the Kennet in Wiltshire, the Mersey, the Lea in Hertfordshire and the Trent. Following the success of the awards the Our River campaign is set to return later this year when it will be putting further pressure on decision makers to protect river wildlife.

The Kennet & Avon Canal is trialling one of the Waterways Partnership schemes.

Waterway Partnerships trialled


head of next year’s launch of a new waterways charity for England and Wales, British Waterways is currently recruiting people with an interest in their local waterway to advise and influence the management of canals and rivers in both the West Midlands and North West. The trial ‘Local Partnerships’ will work with local waterway managers until the new waterways charity becomes fully operational in 2012 and will run in tandem with a third trial already underway on the Kennet & Avon Canal. The role of each Partnership is to give local people a greater say and role in how their local canals and rivers are run, guiding local management decisions. Under the current consultation, each of the existing eleven administrative waterway regions in England and Wales will have Local Partnership Boards appointed by the new charity to guide local decisions. The trials being set up now will provide important lessons ahead of 2012 about the scope of the charity’s Local Partnership Boards and how they should operate. Roger Hanbury, chief executive of The Waterways Trust, working with David Fletcher, chair of the National Association of Boat Owners, and the respective local waterway manager, has appointed Peter Mathews CMG Chair of the West Midlands Trial Partnership, whilst Professor Steven Broomhead is to become Chair of the North West Trial Partnership. The target is for the Partnerships to be operational by 1st May. A written record of all meetings will be available to the public on the web. All positions on the Partnerships will be unremunerated, but agreed expenses will be reimbursed.

Who’s who at IWA


ith effect from this issue, we have moved the Directory from within the magazine to the carrier sheet as a trial. It is hoped that this will prove even more useful to members; all the vital who’s who information will still be available with Waterways but now it can be kept separately without the need to cut up the magazine. We hope you will welcome this innovation but do write and let us know your views.


| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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a r E w e N The ys� r the Waterwa fo ra E w e N “A cument body. nsultation do a third sector co s to it in d ys e a ch n rw u te ritish Wa tions are Defra has la at the implica to transform B h s w se d o n p a ro ls p sa it o on how ce 1948. t the prop est change sin etailed look a g d ig a b e e k th ta y e ll w a Here potenti ays in what is rw te a w e th r fo


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The New Era


wo centuries ago, private enterprise funded the creation of thousands of miles of canals and river navigations to service the world’s first Industrial Revolution. In the twentieth century the Government stepped in to take these waterways over, and with the tireless campaigning by IWA and others over the past 65 years, have overseen their transformation from neglected industrial relics into the bustling recreational waterways we know today. The waterways network has become a haven for people and wildlife, a valuable open-space for local communities and traffic-free ‘green’ routes for boaters, walkers, joggers and cyclists. In 2009, over 340 million visits were made to the waterways; an increase of 80 million compared with the previous year. The Government believes that millions more can enjoy our canals and rivers, if we can liberate their potential to provide multiple benefits, and get all sections of our society actively involved in their future protection and development. Public ownership, however, limits the network’s ability to adapt and innovate. A new model of ownership might be able to unlock the full potential of the waterways; one that would enable it to broaden and strengthen its funding base, and increase the role of local communities in helping to decide how their local canal or river is run.

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

The Government proposes to place those waterways in England and Wales which are currently owned by the state in trust for the nation through the establishment of a civil society organisation, a New Waterways Charity (NWC). Currently, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible for over 4,000 km of the inland waterway network of England and Wales. The two largest navigation authorities managing this network on behalf of the Secretary of State are:  British Waterways, a public corporation, which cares for 2,500 km of canals, 500 km of river navigations, 15 km of docks and many thousands of associated locks, bridges, embankments and aqueducts; and  The Environment Agency, a non-departmental public body, primarily concerned with flooding, pollution and rivers, which cares for 1,000 km of mainly river navigation. Government plans for the transition of British Waterways into civil society are already welldeveloped and more advanced than those for the Environment Agency navigations. The Government therefore proposes a two-phased transfer into NWC with British Waterways’ operations moving first in 2012, and the Environment Agency’s river navigations moving after the next Spending Review in 2015, subject to affordability and the agreement of the NWC’s Trustees in 2014.

The Government believes that the move to civil society will secure the long-term financial sustainability of the waterways. It plans to transfer all of British Waterways’ property assets to the charity, as an endowment, and to commit to a long-term funding contract. The charity will also have new opportunities for growing income from voluntary giving, new commercial opportunities, efficiencies, and growth in volunteering. The proposal also hopes to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring waterways users, and the communities that live alongside them, are given greater involvement in how waterways are managed. It aims to empower and encourage more people to bring their expertise and passion to the organisation. The consultation document sets out a possible governance model for the new charity, which aims to reflect the great diversity of waterways users, and balance the need for a national outlook with a local focus:  Local Partnerships would advise, assist and critically support local management. They would help to develop the local strategy, build partnerships and alliances, and raise funds for local projects. They would ensure that the needs of local people are reflected in the decision-making process, and encourage local people to take more responsibility for the future prosperity of their waterways.  The Council would have a responsibility to provide guidance to the Trustees on their overall performance in fulfilling the NWC’s ‘charitable purposes’. It would also have the power to appoint or dismiss Trustees. It is envisaged that the Council would have between 35 and 50 members, drawn from the different communities that use or benefit from the waterways, including boaters, canoeists, walkers, anglers, cyclists, heritage, environmental and community groups, as well as chairs of Local Partnerships.  A small Board of Trustees, appointed by the Council, would have ultimate responsibility for everything the charity does and for making sure that the organisation works well to deliver its purpose. The Government seeks to make these changes through the Public Bodies Bill currently being considered by Parliament. Subject to the passage of the Bill and parliamentary approval of the subsequent Order, the NWC is expected to take over in April 2012.

The Consultation The consultation seeks views on how, in future, the inland waterways in England and Wales that are currently managed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will be run. It sets out the rationale for moving these waterways out of the public sector and into a new civil society organisation, and the principles which will guide the Government in deciding on the way forward.

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The consultation document invites views on the key elements of the Government’s proposals, including:  What do you think about the charitable purposes of the new charity?  Do you agree with the proposed governance model for the new charity – and what improvements could you suggest?  How could people be helped to become more involved and take more responsibility for their local waterways? The Government expects to publish its response to this consultation this autumn.

The Vision for the Future The waterways today are enjoyed by millions of people every year and, while their original function as a freight network has diminished, they have been put to new uses that their builders could never have imagined. The waterways have been transformed from derelict backwaters into thriving corridors for wildlife, people and businesses. Where they once carried coal and timber they now carry holiday boaters; towpaths now provide recreation for walkers and cyclists. Where they were sometimes toxic, lifeless channels, they are now precious habitats for some of our rarest animals and plants. And where canals were once locked and hidden away behind high walls, they are now open for everyone, and an emblem for the revival of our towns and cities. Today, over 90% of people regard the waterways as an important national asset delivering a range of social, economic and environmental benefits. (British Waterways market research – Inland Waterway Visitor Survey 2010). The Government believes that millions more can enjoy our canals and rivers, if we can liberate their potential to provide a full range of benefits, and get all sections of society actively involved in their protection and development. If we achieve this, the rewards are clear: from the provision and care of essential natural resources and green infrastructure, to strengthened ecological networks; from increasing health, well-being and recreation, to flourishing waterways tourism; from sustainable transport and renewable energy to increased leisure and access opportunities for local communities and greater social cohesion. The Government believes that a charity will be better placed than a public body to liberate such benefits and promote the waterways network across all sections of the community: reaching out to young people, finding new constituencies of interest, and generating the sort of widespread and deep commitment that will guarantee the waterways’ future prosperity. In order to ensure this thriving and sustainable future for our waterways, long-term thinking and solutions to current challenges are needed. The first challenge for the waterways today is that of community engagement. Over half of the


waterways in England and Wales are cared for by the public body, British Waterways, reporting to Defra. While British Waterways actively engages with stakeholders nationally and locally, and provides leadership for the sector through its membership of the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities, its current governance structure is not designed to encourage wider community ownership and engagement. The Government therefore sees an opportunity to make changes that would encourage more involvement, and at the same time inspire a feeling of greater responsibility on the part of local users. There is also a need to bring more funding to the waterways in order to sustain the last decades’ achievements, and to achieve even more. As our canals and river navigations age, they become ever more costly to maintain. British Waterways manages the third largest collection of listed structures in the country: heritage which requires intensive management and significant funding. At the same time the network is under increasing pressure from other factors that increase costs, including: extremes in weather patterns such as drought and floods; the incursion of invasive species; and the wear and tear that comes with greater public usage. British Waterways has been raising its own commercial income for some time now, and its Government grant in England and Wales now accounts for less than half of its actual expenditure on maintaining its waterways. However, the constraints of working within a 50-year old governance structure limit the potential for generating significant further sources of income for the waterways. The Government is committed to reducing public expenditure to focus public sector activity only on what must be done in the public sector and cannot be done elsewhere. It is clear that public funding alone is not the answer. In May 2009 British Waterways revived a debate which began almost half a century ago, about taking its waterways out of the public sector; this idea has gained widespread stakeholder and crossparty support. The consultation document sets out the Government’s vision for how, by empowering waterways users and local communities to have greater involvement in how they are run, our waterways can be funded, protected and further invigorated in the future.

ABOVE: BW manages numerous ancient structures throughout the system, including the Anderton Boat Lift linking the Trent & Mersey Canal with the River Weaver.

Navigations in England and Wales There are approximately 5,000 km (3,000 miles) of fully navigable inland waterways in England and Wales, about 450 km of which are tidal.  British Waterways is responsible for about 3,000 km, of which about three quarters are canals.  The Environment Agency manages almost 1,000 km, most of which are navigable rivers.  The Broads Authority controls a 200 km riverlake system.

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The New Era  The Middle Level Commissioners manage 200 km, most of which have a dual function as drainage channels and navigations.  The remainder are managed by a wide range of other bodies, including local authorities, port authorities and charitable trusts.

Scope of the Proposal

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

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

The Government is committed to delivering a “national trust for the waterways” that includes the British Waterways and the Environment Agency navigations. To give the charity the best possible start in the current tight fiscal climate, it wishes to take a phased approach to delivery of this vision: with British Waterways’ canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs in England and Wales transferred into the new civil society body, as soon as parliamentary authority is gained, and the inclusion of the EA navigations into the new waterways charity, after the next Spending Review in 2015, subject to affordability and the agreement of the NWC Trustees. This phased approach reflects the fact that Government plans for the transition of British Waterways into civil society are already well developed and more advanced than its plans for the Environment Agency navigations. Unlike the British Waterways navigations, where a dowry of commercial property investments can be transferred into the charity to provide additional income to manage the long term liabilities associated with the canal network, the EA navigations are currently dependent solely on an annual public grant. The Government intends to find the additional funding for these liabilities, from the next Spending Review, if affordable, and subject to the agreement of the NWC Trustees. This decision would be advised by a Government review of the charity’s progress and achievements, and the options for transferring the EA navigations, in 2014, i.e. two years after the charity’s creation.

Scotland This proposal specifically excludes the canals currently managed by British Waterways in Scotland. Inland waterways policy and sponsorship in Scotland are devolved matters and so British Waterways’ activities there are under the oversight and ultimate control of the Scottish Executive. The Scottish Executive has decided that its canals, and British Waterways Scotland, will remain in the public sector.

Other Navigations There are many other smaller navigations not currently managed by Government. The charity will be set up in such a way that over time, it may agree to partner or merge with these other navigations if they so wish.

As part of its transition to civil society, British Waterways is also discussing options for closer collaboration with The Waterways Trust.

What Does IWA Think? IWA has advocated that the right way forward for Britain’s navigable inland waterways is probably for them to be managed by a third sector body, and is pleased that the detailed proposals on how Government intends to change British Waterways into a new civil society body are now available for detailed review and consideration. IWA will take time to consider the detail of how this transformation is to be achieved with great care, but will aim to share its preliminary thoughts with members and other stakeholders as quickly as possible. IWA has maintained all along that the funding package needs to be viable, the governance needs to be right, and that the new body should also inherit the Environment Agency navigations. IWA is therefore, especially pleased that the Government in launching this consultation has now signalled that it shares the Association’s views. Specifically: The commitment in principle to inclusion of the Environment Agency navigations in 2015; the stated aim that this move to civil society must create a sustainable model for the future of the inland waterways; and the emphasis on governance arrangements that involve local stakeholders in decision making for their waterways. The Agenda for IWA, is to now consider how these aims can best be translated into a successful civil society body which can flourish in the future. Key aspects of the consultation that the Association will be looking therefore, will be how:  the indicative funding stacks up in delivering a sustainable charity. -Currently, IWA firmly believes that the proposed Government funding package is inadequate, despite the additional benefits being in a charity would confer, and that at present this would lead to a significant decline in the quality of the system. We will be pressuring both the Government and the interim trustees to ensure that a better settlement is made.  the governance proposals can best achieve community engagement consistent with localism and so that local ‘ownership’ of waterways can lead to tangible benefits for the waterways.  the Government is planning to ensure that the Environment Agency navigations can transfer smoothly in 2015/16.’ Whilst there are proposals and options for freight in the document, no mention is made of how remainder navigations might be treated. IWA will therefore also want to explore in further detail how the status of the commercial, cruising and remainder waterways will be dealt with to meet the charitable purposes of the body in a manner that sustains and enhances existing usage.

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1 1 0 2 s t n e Ev

Sat 11th Marlow Town Regatta & Festival Sun 12th Marlow Dragon Boat Festival

ting of rallies, lis e v si n e h re p A com enings for 2011 p p a h r e th o d n festivals a da Payton n y L y b d e il p - com

April/May Sat 30th April May Day Festival Canalside, Campbell Park, Milton Keynes Sat 30th April & Sun 1st May Norbury May Day Rally Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust Sat 30th April & Sun 1st May Loughborough Canal & Boat Festival Sat 30th April to Mon 2nd May IWA National Campaign Festival Becket’s Park, Northampton

Fri 27th to Mon 30th May Federation of Bridgewater Canal Clubs Boat Rally Victoria Dockyard, Runcorn

Sat 28th to Mon 30th May Crick Boat Show Crick Marina, West Haddon Road, Crick, Northamptonshire Sat 28th to Mon 30th May Wendover Arm Trust Canal Festival Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead

June Sat 4th to Sat 25th Sale Festival Sale, Bridgwater Canal

Mon 2nd May Standedge Craft Fair (Canalside) Horses at Work Standedge, Yorkshire

Sun 5th Erith River Festival

Sat 21st & Sun 22nd May Moira Canal Festival Moira Furnace, Furnace Lane, Moira, DE12 6AT Sun 22nd May Mud and Mayhem Off Road Multi-Sport Festival (Nene 250 Celebrations) River Nene and Delapre Park, Northampton

Sun 12th Dinghy Dawdle Weston Arm to Maesbury on the Montgomery Canal Fri 17th to Sun 19th Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival Sat 18th Barge Driving River Thames Sat 18th & Sun 19th Northamptonshire Crusader Trips (Nene 250 Celebrations) River Nene, Becket’s Park, Northampton

Sat 4th & Sun 5th Riverside Festival/Boat Rally Mile Straight, Leicester

Sat 18th & Sun 19th Waterside Festival Campbell Park, Milton Keynes

Sat 4th & Sun 5th Etruria Canals Festival Stoke-on-Trent, junction of Trent & Mersey and Caldon canals Fri 10th to Sun 12th Beale Park Show Lower Basildon, River Thames

Sun 12th Canal Museum Gala Weekend Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire Sat 11th & Sun 12th Pelsall Canal Festival Pelsall Wood Common, off Wood Lane, Pelsall

Sat 28th & Sun 29th May Kidderminster Canal Festival

Sat 30th April to Mon 2nd May Canalway Cavalcade Little Venice, Paddington, London

Sat 21st & Sun 22nd May Rickmansworth Canal Festival Rickmansworth

Sun 12th Chelmer & Blackwater Guided Walk Essex Records Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford at 9.30am

Sun 19th Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival River Nene, Town Bridge, Peterborough

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Wed 22nd to Sun 26th Thames Ring 250 mile Running Race River Thames and GU/Oxford Canals starting at Streatley and heading anti-clockwise via Bulls Bridge Sat 25th Great River Swim 2011 Chiswick Pier, round Chiswick Eyot and back, River Thames Sat 25th & Sun 26th Historic Narrowboat Rally & Canal Festival Braunston Marina, Braunston Sat 25th & Sun 26th Leeds Waterfront Festival Sat 25th Jun to Sat 9th Jul Peterborough Festival River Nene Embankment, Peterborough 01733 237073 Wed 29th Jun to Sun 3rd Jul Henley Royal Regatta Henley, River Thames Sat 30th June to Sun 3rd July Crinan Classic Boat Festival Crinan Canal

July Fri 1st to Sun 3rd Droitwich Canal Opening (Boat Rally & Droitwich Music Festival) Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire

Sat 2nd St Giles Hospice Dragon Boat Challenge The Washlands, Watson Street, Burton upon Trent DE15 9HF

Fri 27th to Mon 30th May Welsh Waterways Festival & National Trailboat Festival Ynysarwed Farm, Abergarwed, Resolven SA11 4DD

| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

Sun 19th London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival Royal Albert Docks, London

Sat 2nd The Ware Festival River Lee, Ware

Thurs 26th to Mon 30th May Audlem Music & Art Festival Audlem, Shropshire Union Canal


Sun 19th Wellesbourne & Shakespeare Raft Race River Avon from Wellesbourne to Stratford-on-Avon

Sat 2nd Guildford Lions Raft Race Millmead, Guildford to the Waterside Centre in Stoughton

The Beale Park Show at Lower Basildon.

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Sat 2nd Great London Swim Victoria Docks, London Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd Stratford-on-Avon River Festival Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire Sun 3rd Marple Locks Heritage Society Festival Marple Fri 8th to Sun 10th Evesham River Festival Workman Gardens, Evesham, River Avon Sat 9th & Sun 10th Kingston Regatta & River Festival River Thames, Kingston, Surrey Fri 8th to Sun 10th Clogfest 2011 Canal Basin, Skipton & other locations in Skipton

The Historic Narrowboat Rally at Braunston.

Sat 23rd to Sun 31st Bristol Harbour Festival Bristol Harbourside, Kennet & Avon Canal Fri 22nd to Sun 24th Alrewas Canal Festival Alrewas, Staffordshire Sat 30 Jul Maidstone River Festival River Medway, Maidstone Sat 30th Linslade Canal Festival Tiddenfoot Waterside Park, Linslade Fri 29th to Sun 31st IWA National Festival & Boat Show Shobnall Fields, Burton upon Trent on the Trent & Mersey Canal Sun 31st Audlem Festival of Transport Audlem Mill

September 1st & 2nd Maesbury Canal Festival Saturday 3rd & Sun 4th Shackerstone Family Festival Shackerstone, Ashby Canal


Sun 4th Angel Canal Festival Angel, Islington, Central London

Fri 5th & Sat 6th Wargrave & Shiplake Regatta River Thames at Shiplake & Wargrave

Fri 9th to Sun 11th Black Country Boating Festival Windmill End, Netherton, Dudley No.2 Canal

Sat 16th & Sun 17th Bridgewater Canal 250th Celebrations & Worsley Festival Worsley

Fri 5th to Sun 7th Nottingham Riverside Festival & Dragon Boat Challenge Victoria Embankment, Nottingham

Sat 10th & Sun 11th The Mayor’s Thames Festival Between Westminster & Tower Bridges, Central London

Sun 17th Dragon Boat Challenge Canbury Gardens, Kingston upon Thames

Sat 6th & Sun 7th Blisworth Canal Festival Blisworth, Northamptonshire

Sat 10th & Sun 11th Gathering of the Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club & Retford Heritage Weekend Retford

Sun 17th Dragon Boats Festival (Nene 250 Celebrations) River Nene, Northampton

Sun 7th Northampton River Festival (Nene 250 Celebrations) Becket’s Park, Northampton

Sat 23rd Goring & Streetley Regatta River Thames, Goring

Sat 13th Sunbury Amateur Regatta Rivermead Island, Sunbury on Thames

Sat 16th & Sun 17th Marlow River Swim & Triathlon Higginson Park, Marlow Bridge, River Thames Sat 16th & Sun 17th Thames Traditional Boat Rally Fawley Meadow, Henley-on-Thames

Sat 23rd & Sun 24th Standedge Tunnel & Huddersfield Narrow Canal Bicentenary Fun Day Standedge Visitor Centre, Standedge Fri 22nd to Sun 24th Cosgrove Canal Festival Cosgrove Lock, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire

Sat 6th & Sun 7th Horses at Work National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port Sat 13th to Sun 28th Rochdale Canal Festival Sat 27th & Sun 28th Hyde Music Festival Cheshire Ring pub at Hyde

Sat 10th & Sun 11th Standedge National Heritage Open Days Standedge Sat 17th The Great River Race Between Millwall and Ham, River Thames Sat 17th Huddlesford Boaters Gathering Huddlesford Junction, Lichfield Cruising Club, WS13 8PX Sat 17th & Sun 18th Huddersfield Canal Society Bicentenary Festival - Diggle Summit Boat Gathering

Sat 17th & Sun 18th Tipton Canal & Community Festival Neptune Health Park and Coronation Gardens, Birmingham Old Main Line Sat 17th September to Sat 1st October Marple Festival Marple Sun 18th Rochdale Canal Summit Festival Nr Littleborough Mon 19th to Sat 24th World Canals Conference Groningen, Netherlands

October Sat 1st Stone Food & Drink Festival Stone Sat 1st & Sun 2nd Village at War Weekend Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire Sun 2nd Banbury Canal Day Banbury, Oxford Canal Sat 15th & Sun 16th Stourbridge Navigation Trust - Annual Open Weekend & Canal Rally Stourbridge Navigation Trust, Bonded Warehouse, Canal Street, Stourbridge www.thebonded

December Sat 10th Illuminated Boat Procession & Carol Singing Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire

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The adorable water vole. PHOTO: TOM MARSHALL


e s i d a r Pa Britain’s inland waterways are rich in all manner of plant and animal life. Here’s a brief flavour of what’s to see…


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Wildlife on the Waterways


ho loves our waterways most? Boaters, towpath walkers, cyclists…or maybe it’s the angling fraternity. It’s probably none of them, but rather Britain’s wildlife, for whom our network of 5,000km of navigable canals and rivers provides a priceless refuge within this densely populated and highlyindustrialised island. Trees, shrubs, aquatic plants, insects, birds, fish and mammals all thrive alongside, on and beneath the water. And the slow pace of boat travel or towpath walking couldn’t be more conducive to observing and enjoying the magic of nature.


IWA’s own waterway, the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, is blessed with an abundance of white willow trees which grow alongside the waterway between Chelmsford and Heybridge Basin. The willow trees are carefully harvested – with a programme of replanting in place – and the wood sold to merchants who then export it in cricket bat size pieces, mainly to India. The finished products are then sold worldwide, many of the bats returning to the UK for use in first class matches. With cricket becoming ever more popular throughout the world, the willow trade is flourishing and generates income in excess of £20,000 annually for IWA’s subsidiary company Essex Waterways Ltd.

Trees, shrubs and plants



Tree-lined canals abound. From the mixed woodlands of the Shropshire Union’s many cuttings to the pine trees of the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal in South Wales, the variety of species is vast. But three trees readily suggest themselves as waterside favourites: the hazel, allder and willow. There are many kinds of willow, with a measure of cross-breeding between them, but look out especially for the ubiquitous weeping willow, pussy willow, crack willow and white willow, the latter being the source material in the manufacture of cricket bats (see right). There are willow shrubs too: the purple willow and the common osier. Lining the banks of rivers and canals, they not only provide a splash of colour but their roots also serve to bind the banks to help prevent erosion. They also offer food for insects.

Colourful vegetation beside the Shropshire Union Canal.

Water lilies enhance the beauty of the River Cam at Bottisham.

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Canada geese on the Rochdale Canal. The red-beaked moorhen.

The male (left) and female mallard – Britain’s most prolific water bird.


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The kingfisher is a much-loved resident on Britain’s waterways.


The stately heron.



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Water lilies carpet the surface of quieter canals and sluggish rivers in the summer months, creating the idyllic image of gently ‘messing about on the river’. Among the myriad of other aquatic plants are the wild water watercress, the semi-submerged water starwort and the water crowfort, the latter displaying white, buttercup style flowers. Far less desirable is the invasive knotweed encountered on numerous waterways nationwide. Along the towpath or riverside path you’ll encounter wildflowers aplenty. Primroses, violets, bluebells and dandelions are among them, generally found close to or under hedges. Next to lock-gates you may discover the distinctive cow parsley plant, with its white, umbrella-like flower heads.

British Waterways wildlife surveys


For most of us, feeding the ducks at the local park or down by the canal is one of our fondest childhood memories. Fortunately the tradition continues to this day, as evidenced by throngs of families clutching bags of bread at popular waterside locations throughout the land. The most common recipient of all this nourishment is the mallard, followed by the Canada goose and the graceful mute swan. Other everpresents include the red-beaked moorhen, the great-crested grebe and the curious coot, with its extra large feet and white beak. Britain’s favourite waterside bird may well be the kingfisher, at least judging by the number of boats named after it. With its gorgeous bright blue plumage and long beak, it may be observed perched on a branch overhanging the water. It will then suddenly dart and swoop low over the water before snatching its fish meal from canal or river. Another accomplished fisherman is the stately heron. It stands, solitary and motionless, at the edge of the water before shooting its neck and powerful bill forward to take its prey. The heron is a good friend to the boater, often languidly flying just in front of a boat for a mile or so, before peeling off and returning whence it came. But other birds are drawn to the waterways too, representing as they do a ‘green corridor’ of opportunity, being rich in food and nesting sites. As just one example, try mooring just below Haywood Lock on the Trent & Mersey Canal. In the woodlands adjoining the canal you may well see (or hear) owls, woodpeckers, jays and buzzards, as well as more everyday species such as sparrows, starlings, thrush, blackbirds and robins. Migrant birds will come along too and put on a spectacular show, skimming low over the water to take insects in mid-flight.



Beautiful black swans on the Grand Union Canal.

Creating vital habitats for threatened birds Last year British Waterways received a share of a £10,000 grant from The Waterway Trust’s Small Grants Scheme to support a number of important wildlife habitat improvements. The annual awards support community-led environmental, access, education and activity projects taking place along Britain’s waterways. The grant was used to help projects focussed on the waterway birds that rely on our network of rivers and canals to live and breed, and was shared between seven new projects: the installation of barn owl and kestrel nesting boxes at Naseby Reservoir on the Grand Union Canal; a volunteer project to create a floating island at Fradley Junction on the Trent & Mersey Canal to provide additional habitat for reed nesting birds, in particular the reed bunting; in partnership with the West Midlands Bird Group, the creation of floating reedbeds around the heronry at Gailey Reservoir on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal to allow reed buntings to nest and to protect the heronry island from erosion; the installation of barn owl nest boxes at Tunnel End Reservoir, Marsden on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal; the creation of nest boxes for various species of waterway birds along the Kennet & Avon and Bridgwater & Taunton canals; a project

As part of its commitment to protecting and preserving wildlife through the network, BW organises an annual wildlife survey to record sightings of all manner of animals, birds and aquatic life. Between March and September last year, nature enthusiasts recorded more than 40,000 sightings, the data being subsequently collated and refined by BW’s ecological experts. The results showed that kingfishers, newts, toads and otters had all been spotted in record numbers on Britain’s waterways. Sightings of these species soared, with kingfisher recordings increasing by more than 20%. The survey also revealed: several endangered birds were spotted by canals, including curlews, merlins and song thrushes; the number of water voles sighted increased by 33% on 2009; mink sightings fell by 36%, perhaps due to increasing numbers of otters which are able to outcompete mink for territory. The top 20 sightings for 2010 were as follows: mallard 6,779; Canada goose 3,354; moorhen 1,758; swan 1,702; house sparrow 1,641; starling 1,456; rabbit 1,329; damselfly 1,055; bumblebee 1,007; butterfly 993; roach 882; frog 873; coot 783; stickleback 606; heron 601; kingfisher 596; ladybird 585; robin 567; dragonfly 547; perch 427. Anyone wishing to take part in BW’s 2011 wildlife survey should visit

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Fish stocks are generally healthier today than for several decades, due in part to a programme of re-stocking by British Waterways and other agencies. But the major factor has been the cleaning up of Britain’s waterways, such that trout and salmon have returned to the Thames and other major rivers after a barren period of almost 50 years. Course fish remain the primary residents, of course. Roach, rudd, tench, bream, zander, carp and perch populate canals and gently-flowing rivers, such as those of the Fens and the Broads, whilst dace, grayling and barbel prefer swifter streams. Minnows, gudgeon and stickleback are to be found everywhere. The pike is the undisputed king of freshwater fish. Growing up to 40lb in weight, it is known as the ‘freshwater shark’. A powerful and aggressive feeder, it lies motionless and well-camouflaged among reeds before moving with speed and precision to take its prey of roach, dace, minnows and other small fish. It has even been known to attack water fowl and small mammals. A host of small creatures inhabits the murky depths of canal and river: freshwater cockles, mussels, mitten crabs, snails and water stick insects. There are crayfish too and, comparatively recently, the American crayfish. The latter appears intent on wiping out its British cousin, as well as devouring virtually anything that crosses its path. It is a most unwelcome newcomer.

Mammals Canal towpaths and riverside meadows and woodlands are home to mammals galore. As well as all the ‘normal suspects’, such as foxes, rabbits, hares, badgers, hedgehogs and squirrels, watch out for the water vole, immortalised as ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Grahame’s epic children’s tale The Wind in the Willows. This delightful creature, which makes its nest of reeds and grasses in the river bank, feeds largely on beetles and other insects. After a period of drastic decline, water vole numbers are increasing again in parts of Britain (see right).


Water voles are timid but charming creatures, and the sight of one busily feeding by the riverside can be the highlight of a wildlife lover’s boat trip. Towards the end of the twentieth century a national survey reported the water vole had disappeared from a staggering 89% of its former habitat, making it the UK’s most endangered native mammal. A variety of causes led to this decline, loss of water meadow and marsh habitat, and the arrival of the water vole’s nemesis: the American mink, which proved to be a voracious predator. It sounds like a desperate situation but, with the help of organisations like The Wildlife Trusts, water voles are coming back from the brink in several areas of the UK. The Wildlife Trusts have been leading on the National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project, aiming to develop a water vole and mink database for England, Scotland and Wales. This will be crucial for understanding trends in water vole and mink populations, and helps organisations understand where their efforts can really make a difference. Locally, Wildlife Trusts are involved in restoration of degraded habitat and work to reduce the impact of mink predation, all of which have helped to boost populations.



Below the surface


Spotlight on: water voles in London’s rivers London Wildlife Trust’s work on the River Crane is a great example of how rivers can be transformed to make them more hospitable for water voles. The river is part of the West London Green Chain, a 20 mile stretch of linked green spaces. Some sections are cared for by local people and are rich in wildlife, but other sections need to be restored and reconnected. London Wildlife Trust has removed some of the over-hanging trees at Crane Park, increasing the chance of herb colonisation, and therefore creating habitat for many species. London Wildlife Trust is planning ‘meander restoration’ in partnership with the Environment Agency to increase bankside habitat. And the removal of toeboarding (wooden boards laid out to reinforce and halt erosion along the bank) will increase the growth of the reeds and sedges which water voles like to live among. At Frays Farm Meadows reserve in the Colne Valley, London Wildlife Trust is again working its magic: de-silting of ditches and scrub clearance has enhanced huge sections of uninhabitable ditch into suitable water vole habitat, with monthly mink monitoring taking place too.

Spotting voles If you want to find your nearest wetland Wildlife Trust reserve to try and spot a vole, you can use the reserve map, which lets you search for reserves by the nearest county, town or postcode. TWTReserves.aspx. And if you spot a water vole on your travels please do let your local Wildlife Trust know.

More information London Wildlife Trust is the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital’s wildlife and wild spaces, engaging London’s diverse communities through access to nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education. For more information on London Wildlife Trust, and its wetland restoration work, visit There are 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney. The Wildlife Trusts are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitats and species whether in the country, in cities or at sea. For more information, and to become a member, visit


to lay a hedgerow along the Rochdale Canal; a grant to protect nationally scarce Magnesian limestone (or dolomite) grassland habitats along the Aire & Calder Navigation, providing good nesting opportunities for ground nesting birds such as willow warbler and meadow pipit. All the funding for The Waterways Trust’s Small Grants Scheme is donated by members of the public. For more information on The Waterways Trust and their appeals, visit www.

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Wildlife on the Waterways

You will be remarkably privileged if you are ever lucky enough to see an otter. Nevertheless, this shy but magnificent animal, for so long persecuted by hunters and then driven to the margins of Britain by pollution of its habitat, is making a strong comeback in many areas of the country thanks to more enlightened attitudes and cleaner waterways. Sightings have been recorded on a number of navigable rivers, including the Thames and the Severn. More remarkably, perhaps, otters have been sighted on a number of Midland canals, notably the Trent & Mersey Canal at Wolseley Bridge near Colwich, where the creatures are believed to also hunt and play in the adjacent (un-navigable) River Trent.

Wildlife centres This treasure trove of wildlife is there for everyone to enjoy – entirely free of charge. Just find a quiet stretch of river or canal, settle down by the water and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. You will be amazed by what you see.

For a more organised experience, however, you can visit a waterside wildlife centre – there are dozens to be found throughout the country. One of the finest examples is the Broads Wildlife Centre at Ranworth Broad in Norfolk. Managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, it actually floats on the edge of the broad and is an unrivalled location for bird watching. A small exhibition inside explains the history of the Norfolk Broads and details the work carried out by the NWT. A boardwalk leads visitors along a nature trail through woodland and fen to open water and the centre itself. Wildlife is prolific, but look out especially for butterflies, dragonflies, great crested grebes and swallows. An electric ferryboat runs regularly to the centre from Ranworth Staithe, providing a superb opportunity to spot wildlife from the water. For further information on the centre, including opening times, visit www.norfolkwildlifetrust. or telephone 01603 625540. For a comprehensive list of waterside wildlife centres throughout Britain visit

Above: A powerful hunter, the magnificent otter is making a strong comeback in many parts of Britain thanks mainly to cleaner waterways. To observe this wonderful creature in the wild is a magical experience. Opposite above: The timid water vole is making a comeback thanks to organisations such as the London Wildlife Trust. Opposite below: London Wildlife Trust volunteers are seen here reed planting on the capital’s River Crane.

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Interview THE

Keith Goss talks to Waterway Recovery Group’s Jenny Black

Keith Goss: What is your exact role within IWA? Jenny Black: Working for IWA allows you to get involved in many different and varied activities. My main role for IWA is to look after the WRG database – this includes processing canal camp bookings, driver authorisation applications and Navvies subscriptions. As well as the administration side of managing WRG, I also work on publicising WRG activities – this includes designing the canal camp brochure and other publicity material. I’m also on the team working towards the redevelopment and redesign of both IWA’s and WRG’s websites. As well as WRG, I’m involved in the activities of the Festival and Restoration committees.

KG: How long have you been performing these duties? JB: I’ve been at IWA for over six years; it’s my first job after graduating from university.

KG: How do you go about organising the WRG work camps/ holidays for the year ahead?

LEFT: Jenny Black getting hands-on experience with Ken Burgin of the Cotswold Canals Trust. ABOVE: WRGies in action at last year’s IWA National Festival at Beale Park. RIGHT: It’s not just beans on toast at a WRG Canal Camp.

Don’t forget, WRG has over 20 working holidays this year. Visit for full details.

KG: Who else within IWA/WRG is involved in the process? JB: The organisation of the camps schedule is initially down to the WRG’s Committee & Board. As the schedule is put into place, then volunteer canal camp leaders and their assistants arrange site visits and start planning their camps.

KG: What are the major problems you face? JB: WRG is lucky to have an active and dedicated volunteer base. Despite this we are always looking to recruit new volunteers. One of the struggles we face is educating the wider (non-waterways) community about WRG and what we get up to. The National Trust and BTCV are well known for their working holidays and volunteer opportunities and WRG needs to find ways to reach the mainstream market.

JB: Planning for camps usually starts in July when letters are sent out to local trusts/societies or councils who are involved in waterway restoration projects. We give them a low-down on what we do/what is expected from them and from that WRG receives requests for canal camps. WRG representatives also make site visits to restoration schemes to see if there are any suitable projects for WRG to work on the following year. Then in October or November, at WRG’s Reunion weekend, the committee get together and plan the camps schedule for the year ahead. The provisional schedule is released over the weekend and we use this opportunity to start recruiting leaders for the camps.


KG: Have things changed over the years – for instance is there more bureaucracy/paperwork involved now than previously?

JB: A lot has changed since WRG was formed back in 1970. Over the past 40 years health and safety practices have transformed dramatically which means the WRG Board have to ensure that the organisation keeps up to date with regulations. The Board offers volunteer leaders support and training to ensure that paperwork is not seen as a daunting task. A Leaders Training Day is held every year (this year it’s being held near Coventry on 14th May) as well as a Training Weekend where volunteers can learn or improve on their restoration skills.

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The Interview KG: Do some camps prove much more popular than others? JB: I think it really depends on the work whether a project

KG: How do you advertise the canal camp holidays – apart

is popular or not. WRGies, enjoy a wide range of projects from the big technical canal camps which work towards the restoration of a lock or rebuilding of a bridge, to the less technical winter scrub clearance camps. WRG are really looking forward to starting work at Inglesham Lock on the Cotswold Canals this summer. WRG are also revisiting some old favourites this summer, such as the Basingstoke Canal in Surrey and Chesterfield Canal in Derbyshire.

JB: A lot of our advertising is done through volunteer centres

KG: Which have proven to be the most popular in recent times? JB: Eisey Lock and Gough’s Orchard Lock on the Cotswold Canals have proven to be popular sites in recent times. Both have involved major lock restorations so tasks included demolition work, brick-laying and landscaping. We receive fantastic local support from the Cotswold Canals Trust which ensures our camps run smoothly. Volunteers also enjoy visiting the Cotswolds because of the scenery and the local ale! The Montgomery Canal is an old favourite of WRG’s as well – and this year we are running four week-long working holiday’s trialling several innovative and sympathetic approaches to restoring a length of the canal.

KG: Do you get the same ‘old faces’ returning year after year, or are you always attracting new recruits?

JB: The split is around 40% returning volunteers and 60% new recruits. This leads to a great mix of experience and enthusiasm on the camps where ‘Old Hands’ pass on their knowledge and experience to our new volunteers.

from within the pages of Waterways of course? and student career services. We also have our magazine Navvies which keeps our regular volunteers and armchair supporters up-to-date with what projects WRG are working on.

KG: Do you get the chance to go on any WRG camps yourself? JB: I try to get out and do a few weekend digs with the Kent & Essex Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG) over the year as well as one week-long camp during the summer depending on other commitments. I also volunteer at IWA’s National Waterways Festival on the 10-day canal camp that WRG run – and usually spend the three days of the festival parking cars as part of the Traffic Team.

KG: What do you enjoy about them? JB: For me camps are about the people – you get to meet such a diverse and interesting range of people. The bonus is that you are also helping to restore a canal in the process. I also enjoy learning new skills such as driving dumpers and bricklaying … but I have to admit I prefer the simple tasks such as brick-cleaning and digging holes!

KG: Which has been your favourite WRG camp of all time? JB: Last year I volunteered, with a friend, to cook on a summer canal camp on the Cotswold Canals. Although I was quite daunted by the challenge (feeding 16 hungry volunteers for seven days), it was a really rewarding experience and at least I no longer worry about cooking dinner for family and friends!

KG: Looking to the future, do you foresee any changes to KG: What feedback do you get from first-timers? JB: After every camp our volunteers are sent a feedback questionnaire. The questionnaire is used as part of the continual improvement in Canal Camps we strive for. We ran a camp on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation (Essex) in February and here’s some feedback we received from volunteers when asked what they enjoyed about the week … ‘I enjoyed working with the excellent team on the camp with me, we all got on really well and worked very well together. The food was good and I thoroughly enjoyed the socialising in the evening, Absolutely excellent week!’ ‘Teamwork and Hardwork. Just like to thank our leader, she was great and the Duke of Edinburgh Students worked really hard. It was a great delight to work with them.’ ‘Meeting new people and a sense of satisfaction when a task was completed.’


I suppose you must occasionally get people saying “never again!” JB: Luckily not too often! Obviously canal camps aren’t for everyone but the nice thing about WRG is that everyone usually gets involved and has fun whatever the activity. WRG attracts such a diverse range of people from different backgrounds and of different ages … on my first camp we had an 18-year Duke of Edinburgh student all the way up to a retired coupled in their late 60s – everyone got on well and we had a great laugh!

the way camps are run in the years to come – or will it be business as usual until the network is fully restored? JB: I think it is going to be interesting to see how volunteering within the New Waterways Charity is going to develop and whether or not WRG will end up working alongside the NWC or continue as we are. The biggest challenge ahead is to ensure the momentum and enthusiasm for restoring the waterways is not lost in the restructuring of how the waterways are managed across England and Wales.

KG: How about yourself – could you imagine one day taking over from Mike Palmer as chairman?

JB: Being the chairman of WRG is a very demanding and challenging role … or rather ‘job’ as it probably feels like sometimes! Mike plays an important role in making sure WRG moves forward in the right direction, from managing the politics behind restoration projects, to ensuring that the dayto-day running of WRG is all in good order. As chairman you also need a good knowledge of the waterways system and the ability to advise on technical restoration projects … I think I’ll stick to brick-cleaning!

KG: If you didn’t work for IWA/WRG, what would you like to be doing?

JB: I really enjoy working for a volunteer organisation so I think even if I wasn’t working for WRG I’d still be doing something similar in the volunteer/charity sector. Either that or I’d be a mountain ranger roaming the hills of Scotland!

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IWA at Work

E-mail your news and photos to

News from around the branches compiled by Jim Shead



Northampton branch has worked very closely with the two Canal Partnerships on its patch and in 2010 the sum of £1,000, the surplus of the Annual Boat Gathering at Northampton, was donated to the Blisworth Canal Partnership towards the development of a canalside ‘pocket park’ on an embankment at the north portal of Blisworth Tunnel. The Partnership has now entered into an adoption agreement with British Waterways for the embankment and two successful work parties led by local villagers have already been held to create a woodland walk out of what is currently an overgrown area. The Woodland Trust is providing 420 trees and local landowner Sir Charles Wake has donated a number of blackthorn whips. Once the trees are in and the hard path installed, benches and picnic tables made by local craftsmen will be positioned alongside to give a stunning view of the canal, including the tunnel entrance. Raising funds for a canalside park at Blisworth.

In IWA London Region, the Towpath Walks programme was founded in June 1977 by Michael Essex-Lopresti and is now organised and promoted in partnership with the London Walks group. The walks guided by the IWA Towpath Walks Society visit Uxbridge and Enfield, and go along the Regent’s Canal, the Grand Union and the Paddington Branch, the Lee Navigation, and the Bow Back Rivers. About half our participants are visitors to Showing visitors the delights of London’s canals. London. Many first time walkers appear to enjoy what is offered, as is shown by the numbers who return to take part in further towpath walks. With over 800 walks guided so far, over 13,000 walkers have taken part and over £30,000 has been raised for IWA. With IWA organising so much walking, you may wonder why there is still a perception of us as a boater’s group.


Seven years ago Chester Branch was thinking of doing something to encourage the general public in the area to take an interest in local waterways. Like several other branches, they hit on the idea of putting on a monthly walk, open to everyone, and advertised it in the local press and on various websites. They decided that each walk would start and finish at a pub and, of course, include one or more waterways. Since then they have gone from strength to strength, organising walks which included the rivers Dee and Weaver and the Shroppie, Trent & Mersey, Bridgewater and even the derelict Runcorn and Latchford canals. Over the years a selection of 30 circular walks have been developed, each time from a different pub so that the whole area is catered for. The first walk attracted 15 people, half of whom were already waterway enthusiasts. After that, more and more complete novices arrived, together with the ‘regulars’, and are now well and truly initiated into the wonders of our canal and river system and into the aims of IWA. Now usually between 20 and 32 come each month, and to make the day even more attractive they are booked in for a pub lunch at the end of the walk which results in a friendly, social occasion (and, of course, gives them a legitimate reason for parking in the pub car park). The walks are restricted to 4.5 miles or less so that all ages can take part.


Michael Essex-Lopresti (right) with IWA’s Roger Squires.

OXFORD “OPEN DOORS” This event is held as part of National Heritage Weekend, this year to be staged on 10th-11th September. The Oxford Preservation Trust, along with similar trusts throughout the country, participates in the Oxford local event known as “Open Doors”. This is designed to promote the city’s history and enable people to visit many buildings not normally open to the public. Until 2009 this event had not included the waterways which are, of course, just as much part of the city’s heritage as many of the buildings. The event is IWA offers free boat trips on the canal at Oxford. attended by thousands of people and has become important in the Oxford Branch calendar as it provides an ideal opportunity to promote the work of

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IWA at WORK The Inland Waterways Association and increase membership. It is particularly useful in drawing attention to and gaining support for the restoration of the terminal basin on the Oxford Canal within the city. Other local restoration trusts join IWA at this event to promote the waterways within the city, provide information to the public on the history of the inland waterways, in particular the Oxford Canal and River Thames, and to bring to the attention to all the benefits of the waterways. There are free boat trips, stands, exhibitions, canal walks and Wild Over Waterways (WOW) activities.

MILTON KEYNES CLEAN UP Over 12 tons of rubbish were recovered from the 10 miles of the Grand Union Canal running through Milton Keynes over the weekend 1st -3rd April by the Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, working in partnership with British Waterways and the Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd. This biggest haul ever from the twice yearly clean ups included two telescopic sighted rifles, a blown safe, 22 shopping trolleys, 38 bicycles, a sunken metal dinghy, nine mattresses, wheels, tyres, scaffold poles, TVs, fridges, a motor cycle and more – all retrieved from the canal by grappling from the back of the towed collecting workboat and the bank. Then there were some 30 black sacks filled from rubbish collected from the towpath and adjacent hedgerow between Fenny Stratford and Wolverton. This is a sad reflection on those who treat the wonderful natural asset of the canal as a dump. Some 50 people helped in the clean-up including an energetic band of Leighton Buzzard scouts and a number of new volunteers who responded to the earlier publicity appealing for help. They supplemented the IWA members and their boats, plus BW’s manned special lifting boat for recovery of the some very heavy items including the safe. Jeff Whyatt, BW Senior Manager, has sent a message of congratulations to all involved with the event. He is always staggered by the quantity of discarded material recovered.

VOLUNTEERS IMPROVE RUGELEY CANAL TOWPATH Over the weekend of the 12th-13th March, 25 local volunteers continued their improvements to the canalside area in Rugeley town centre and Brindley Bank in a continuing series of working parties to improve the canalside environment. The weekend was organised by IWA Lichfield Branch, but supervised by British Waterways, who also provided a workboat and driver. The boat was used to clear waterborne rubbish and offside litter, which was then taken away at the end of the weekend. Rugeley Lions’ members put in a huge amount of BELOW: Clearing rubbish from the canal at Rugeley. RIGHT: Scrub-bashing at Brindley Bank.

effort, whilst the Community Payback Team did a further litter pick throughout the area. The Landor (local history) Society gave their moral support by way of cake and biscuits. On the very wet Sunday morning, everyone ‘swooped’ to clear many years’ of vegetation and rubbish on the bottom of the ‘Bloody Steps’, so called after the murder of Christina Collins on the canal in 1839. It was here that Christina Collins’ body was carried after being found in the canal. Some said that her blood had dripped on the steps and stained them, giving rise to the local legend of the ‘Bloody Steps’. The aim at this part of the canalside is to create a pleasant open parkland area that attracts walkers. It is also hoped that a greater use of the path will deter youths from anti-social behaviour. IWA Lichfield Branch is planning a public consultation in the near future, to discuss what improvements local residents would like to see in the Brindley Bank/’Bloody Steps’ area. In the meantime, the next Rugeley work party date has been set for Sunday 22nd May, 10am-1pm.


A spectacular haul from the Grand Union Canal at Leamington. In late March a small group of volunteers from the Warwickshire Branch undertook a productive, and highly successful, canal clean up and towpath tidy along the Grand Union Canal in the vicinity of Europa Way, Leamington. Their ‘haul’ included: 20 shopping trolleys, one motor bike, eight bicycles, two football goal posts from the neighbouring playing fields, a 30ft length of 5in diameter plastic pipe, and a similar length of guttering. Additionally, five full bags of litter and drinks cans were collected from the adjoining towpath together with a very heavy stolen, but empty, cigarette machine. On collection for disposal by British Waterways, their volunteer coordinator Murray Woodward expressed himself as both impressed and pleased with this ‘haul’.

Is your branch doing something that demonstrates the great work that our members do? If so let us know - send your story and pictures to

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WILDERNESS TRAILBOATS LTD Manufacturers of the NEW Wilderness Beaver 23 Available with many different levels of fit-out Prices range from £19,950 to £44,950+ (inc VAT) Bare shell for DIY fit out from £15,250 (inc VAT) Choice of 9.9 and 15 HP engines and a very wide range of optional extras Call Bob Howell on 01932 858858 or email

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Mapping the Inland Waterways of Britain

Heron Maps Creative Cartographic Publishing

All maps show navigation and historical information, visitor moorings, marinas and boatyards, boat hire centres, facilities for the boat user, shops and distance markers. Detailed town plans. Information for the tourist includes tourist information centres, places of interest, pubs, nature reserves, parks, churches, national cycle routes, long distance paths, public toilets and caravan and camp sites.

Coming soon -

Grand Union Canal Braunston to Kings Langley

Visit us at the Crick Boat Show on stand KF45

Heron Maps, PO Box 3008 Reading, RG1 9RU E-mail: Website: Also available at waterside retailers, shops and All ÂŁ5.99 plus ÂŁ1 postage per map

Heron Maps

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

New WOW Activities


ore and more branches are finding that WOW activities “pay for themselves”, they give the children visiting events something meaningful to do and also give IWA members time to talk to parents about the waterways and how valuable they are. However, we need to keep developing new activities as young critics who have done the activities before can be very quick to point this out! So we have been working hard to upgrade the appearance and signage for the WOW area as well as developing a couple of new activities to go out with the kit. These activities mean that WOW can be as small as two or three activities around a table, or as large as organisers can make it by using other providers at the event. The seven basic activities which come with the kit are: 1 Waterways trail blocks – 12 in total which can be placed around a site. One side contains a waterways image, the other information about it. Accompanied by the quiz sheet, children and parents find the blocks and learn about the waterways. 2 Green fishing game – fishing rods and blocks provided 3 Lace Plate making with supporting display boards, paper plates, templates and ribbon 4 Brass rubbing blocks – with laminated waterways map and paper template 5 Knot tying board – for making ‘dragonflies’ with cordage supplied as well 6 Boat Horse mask templates – elastic provided to keep the mask in place plus support signage and horse boating pictures. 7 Right Tool for the Right Job (boat version) laminated labels and descriptors. These items represent a lot of fun without the hassle of thinking up the activities.


And more support: “How do I run this activity?” asked the volunteer. “What’s the point of it?” To answer these questions WOW Toolkits have been put together. This is essentially a box file containing: a simplified version of ‘How to Run WOW activities’ with copies of quiz and answer documents; copies of child protection data and Do’s and Don’ts for volunteers documents; How to run …’ laminated activity sheets which give background information and very simple instructions on how to do each activity; laminated signage; sample horse masks and knot tied dragonflies so that people know what they should look like in an “ideal” world.

Volunteers still needed You have heard this before – but you are still needed! The more people who help, the more children can be introduced to waterways history, conservation and fun activities. So please get in touch if you have events where you would like to run some WOW activities, or if you would like to come and help us at some of the events taking place around the country this year. Locations include Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice, May Day at Norbury on the Shropshire Union

Lace making – one of seven basic activities for little ones. Canal, the National Campaign Rally at Northampton, the Loughborough and Leicester riverside festivals, Trailboat Rally at Neath, Etruria in Stoke-onTrent, WOW days at the Bass Museum in Burton upon Trent and the National Waterways Festival in Burton at the end of July. See the Events feature (pages 2021) for dates. We look forward to seeing you there. For further information please e-mail

Learning about heritage.

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The Next Generation New ideas entice young people to waterways

BW’s WOW Education Issues Calling all WOW Education Volunteers If you’ve signed up as a WOW education volunteer, we’ve lined up a series of FREE helpful training days to get you going...

Step Aboard

School Days - 29th June - Hatton Stimulating work for young volunteers.


nvironmental enhancement work, music projects, waterside murals, canoeing, heritage interpretation, boat restoration… Waterways Action Squad is helping to open up our waterways to a new generation. Since July 2009, over 800 young people aged 16-25 in North-west England have discovered their local canal thanks to a flagship youth volunteering scheme, Waterways Action Squad. Run in partnership between The Waterways Trust and British Waterways and funded by v and Bank of America, the Waterways Action Squad team are developing innovative and exciting projects to entice young people to explore and use their local waterway. Volunteering has many benefits for young people and Waterways Action Squad strive to ensure that the volunteering opportunities they provide are useful and beneficial yet fun and engaging for a diverse range of young people. Opportunities available to volunteers extend far beyond the traditional towpath litter pick and have included aquatic invertebrate surveying, invasive species control, willow weaving installations, marketing and administration, archive and interpretation work, and not forgetting the waterwaysinspired music created for performance at IWA’s Tom Rolt Rally in Chester last year. For more information on this project or to get involved please contact Emma Wright, volunteer coordinator on 0151 3734392 or e-mail emma.wright@thewaterwaystrust. Visit the website www. waterwaysactionsquad. com to see all the latest news and comments from volunteers.

Making music for last year’s Tom Rolt Festival at Chester.

aid understanding, and how to demonstrate working a lock.

All you need to know about leading WOW activities in schools and for cub scouts and brownies. The workshop covers top tips for working with children, working safely, have a go sessions and how to deliver our ‘All About Canals’ presentation.

Writing for Children

21st June - Birmingham Everyone likes to mess about on boats. Learn how we work together with the ‘Working Boats’ volunteers to encourage children and families to to ‘step aboard’. For further information or to book a place contact Sarah Cook on 01926 626 150 or e-mail wow@

First WOW schools volunteer trained and in school

19th May - Hatton Led by children’s writer, Cathy Lewis, this workshop will help anyone who would like to write WOW learning materials. This course will give you confidence in writing WOW resources such as fact files or children’s trails.

Family Discovery Days 22nd May - Fradley / 15th July Hatton / 16th July - Hatton Learn how to bring the canal alive for family visitors using a range of techniques including live interpretation (led by expert Andrew Ashmore), costume, storysacks and boat bingo. Meanwhile, a special oneoff day at Fradley will use the Heritage Lottery Fund project’s resource boxes.

WOW Website Training 9th June - Hatton This course will be supported by web expert Chris Powell. We’ll help you to understand how the WOW website works and try uploading some information. You’ll also get lots of helpful background information about web stuff blogging, SEOs and Flickr.

Waterway Discovery Days 15th June - Birmingham 17th June - Hatton Discover how to lead safer visits for schools and groups outside, including how to use our waterway trails, using handling items to

Following the recent Meet & Greet volunteer events new WOW school volunteer Amena Uddin is now taking bookings from schools in Durham for Waterway Workshops. These half day sessions consist of her delivering the All About Canals presentation on an interactive whiteboard, encouraging the children to Build a Canal in a sandbox and then completing a WOW craft activity. Amena is training to be a primary school teacher and is volunteering one day a week with us to gain essential classroom experience.

Latest WOW resource – Waterways Today In the course of our work we learn many things to share with others – including that both silly putty and M&M’s were invented during World War II, that the Lancaster Canal was called the ‘Black & White Canal’ and that a teddy bear can be used to teach geography. We have discovered these fascinating facts whilst creating WOW resources for children, teachers, group leaders and volunteers. They are designed to be delivered at a variety of locations, both canalside and in the classroom and to cater for a range of learning styles. The latest resource is one of our themed topic packs, which is designed to be downloaded from the WOW website, and is called Waterways Today.

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| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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IWA waterways - Summer 2011 |

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HANDS OFF OUR MAY BANK HOLIDAY! Now that spring has sprung and the grass is riz, as the New Yorkers would put it, thoughts turn to the more active side of waterways. Of course such stalwart souls as WRG and others have been busy braving the worst that the winter can throw at us, but for most of us, especially those of advancing years, the winter tends to be a period of hibernation, if not stagnation. One member to whom such a generalisation does not apply is Tim Coghlan of Braunston Marina, who joined in the recent debate over bank holidays, with a comment in the (Northampton) Chronicle &

Echo. Tourist chiefs and MPs in Northamptonshire seemed to be in favour of moving the early May bank holiday to October but “the owner of one of the country’s tourism hotspots has blasted the move. Tim Coghlan, managing director of Braunston Marina, said “We do well out of the first May bank holiday. It is our first shot at summer and a lot goes on… It’s one of the best weekends of the year and I would be very sad if it was moved elsewhere. October is just a waste of time because it is out of season and April is no good. May is a great kick start.”

Tim Coghlan at Braunston Marina.

Dundas Aqueduct on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY K&A However the onset of warmer weather has made me jump ahead, chronologically speaking, with the season’s crop of news items. Last Christmas saw the two hundredth anniversary of the opening of the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Western Daily Express duly commemorated this with a fine two-page centre-fold at the end of December last. The staff photographer was induced to be out and about and visited Devizes locks and the Dundas Aqueduct in the icy conditions that prevailed, giving us a nice wintry view looking down Caen Hill on the morning of their two hundredth birthday, along with a group at Lock

DEARTH OF VOLUNTEERS? Coming nearer to our own time the Western Daily Express also noted that “Towards the end of the 200th anniversary year, the Government body that runs the K&A, and all of Britain’s restored waterways, was set free by Whitehall to become a stand-alone charitable trust, something the people running the K&A welcomed as the dawn of a new era.” All very positive, but elsewhere the picture is not quite so rosy. The Burton Mail published a small notice in February under the headline “Canal needs helpers”. The notice went on: “Volunteers to help maintain Ashby Canal are being sought to help improve its infrastructure. Ashby Canal Association is looking for volunteers to act as work parties…starting in April. …Tasks will include brush cutting, towpath repair and restoration, cleaning and repainting, bridge work and litter picking”. Similarly the Leicester Mercury carried a brief article in January entitled “Help wanted to keep waterways clean and tidy” Here of course we are looking at an urban rather than a rural waterway and we learn that the “senior riverside officer for Leicester City Council has issued a call


42 that allegedly included John Rennie, looking, if it were indeed he, mighty chipper for a 250-year-old. This was contrasted with a summer view looking up the flight. There was a “potted history” of the canal as well which told us that “In 1963 the newly-formed British Waterways took over the canal and began restoration work”. No mention of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s and its predecessor’s long battle to prevent the complete abandonment during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, although the late John Gould got a passing mention as “a trader on the eastern section”.

Foxton Locks.

for volunteers to help him and his team. ‘It is coming round to the time of year when we ask for people to help us out in our job of trying to ensure the river and canal in this city are kept clean and rubbish free….We want volunteers from March onwards to help us clean out the water but we need people all year round to assist us in keeping all the land safe’. Apparently less rubbish has been dumped in Leicester’s waterways in recent years, but more on the adjacent land. The Leicester Mercury also reported an “invitation” by British Waterways for volunteers at Foxton. An open day was to be held at Foxton in January “for people interested in helping waterway visitors, assisting boaters through the locks and maintaining the lock area”. The feature was strap-lined “Lock-keeper role sounds so Grand”, which must now go into my List of Shame for ghastly waterway journalistic puns.

| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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Cuttings Please

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

FISHY TALE FROM THE SOAR The Leicester Mercury also revealed that large-scale fishnetting was going on along the River Soar “from Birstall to Loughborough”. It would appear that the finger of suspicion points to individuals who prefer to eat fish rather than throw them back in. Said the local angling match secretary “It’s a big problem and its happening all the time. Proper anglers will catch the fish then return them to the river because they want to preserve the sport. These people are not taking one or two at a time but lots and lots …on at least one occasion large nets had been stretched across the width of the river to try and maximise the catches”. Be warned members who boat the Soar, this is something more than a roach pole!

EREWASH SAVIOUR HONOURED The Derby Telegraph reported “Plaque to honour man who ‘saved’ Erewash Canal.” This referred to a belated tribute to the late Royston Torrington, who “was the first chairman of Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association and was its president for more than thirty years.” The article not only noted Mr Torrington’s achievements, but also made the point, “There had been

a number of protests regarding the possible closure of the Erewash Canal due to the British Waterways Act of 1962. [Actually it was the British Transport Act, DB]. Mr Torrington, with fellow Inland Waterways Association colleagues, set up the ECPDA and the group was eventually successful in overturning the closure plans and preserving the canal”.




News from the north And more from the Yorkshire Post. A new book on the history of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was reviewed, along with a fine picture of narrowboat Reliance belonging to a firm of corn millers in Stalybridge in desolate-look-

ing country near Slaithwaite in 1913. Some well-deserved Yorkshire pride surfaced, “200 years after it was built, Yorkshire’s Standedge Tunnel still ranks as one of the country’s most impressive feats of engineering”

Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Bridges new and old Many who have boated on the Thames between Shepperton and Sunbury locks will have remarked the spindly, ugly and completely inadequate road bridges at Walton-on-Thames which form the only road crossing of the river between Chertsey and Hampton Court. The Yorkshire Post showed an artist’s impression of a new bridge planned for this point. In spite of the austerity measures forced upon us, “Construction firm Costain has won a contract to build the first major road crossing over the River Thames in almost 20 years. The firm said it had received the go-ahead from Surrey County Council to construct the bridge…as part of a £32.3m scheme.” The new bridge is scheduled to be completed in 2013 replacing the two “temporary” bridges which carry some 34,000 vehicles every weekday. According to the artist’s impression the new bridge will be a graceful bowstring construction with a single uninterrupted span unlike the multi-spans of the present two bridges. The Derby Telegraph told us in January that the long-overdue replacement of the long Horse Bridge that takes (or rather “took”) the towpath across the Trent near the commencement of the Trent & Mersey Canal at Shardlow is due

to be completed this coming summer. Readers will be aware of the long-running land dispute that bedevilled this matter and prevented access. A spokeswoman for Derbyshire County Council said “The bridge is currently being built off-site and land negotiations are going well” More bridge news, though under rather than over, came in the (Northampton) Chronicle & Echo also during January. The Grand Union iron aqueduct over the River Ouse between Wolverton and Cosgrove is another structure celebrating its bi-centenary. Locally known as “the Iron Trunk” it is to “undergo a year-long programme of improvement works from British Waterways.” The following day the paper came up with more details: “Engineers abseiled off a 40ft aqueduct to collect paint samples which will be key in this 200-year-old monument’s restoration”. The paint samples were to be sent for specialist analysis “to determine the original colour of the aqueduct and its paint scheme, which is thought to be red, white and grey, when it officially opened on January 21st 1811.” The aqueduct has been plagued by graffiti placers in the past and it is to be hoped that the new scheme will discourage such vandalism.

IWA waterways - Summer 2011 | Cuttings.indd 39


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The Autumn 2011 issue of Waterways will be published in August 2011. Editorial copy closing date is 28th June 2011.

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

 Star Letter  IN PRAISE OF SEA OTTERS As a member of the Sea Otter Boat Owners Club I have to say I am very surprised there was not a mention of the benefits of aluminum boats in your article ‘A Boat of your own - getting afloat in 2011’ in the Spring issue of Waterways magazine. I believe Sea Otter started producing aluminum narrowboats about 15 years ago and have since produced some 330 boats ranging in size from 21ft to 56ft. Their revolutionary water ballast system is fitted to all lengths and does make trailing the 21ft to 31ft boats that much easier. The use of aluminum admittedly adds a small premium to the original cost but that is far outweighed with savings when taking into account the times steel boats have to be lifted out of the water for bottom blacking or GRP boats for osmosis treatment. I have seen boats that have been well looked after, are over 10 years old and still looking as good as new. Because they keep their condition, they retain excellent value which is why we personally have been able change our boat every three years; all have been very reliable. And, as Sea Otter say in their adverts, the craft are “low maintenance” giving me time to enjoy cruising, not messing around in dirty rusty bilges. You could look into any of our boat engine bays and they will look “as good as new”. We also have a very thriving boat club supported by 180 owners and their families and we have represented the Sea Otter Boat Owners club in large numbers at every IWA National Festival for many years, donating a cheque at one of these for £1,000 to IWA to be used as IWA thought best.

With support of this nature and the number of boats that have been built I really am disappointed that our style of boats have been omitted from your article. I am not asking for free publicity for Sea Otter but I do genuinely believe the boating public should at least have the knowledge that there is more to boats than steel or GRP and would hope you would be good enough to rectify this in the next magazine.

Tony Collins, Sea Otter Boat Owners Club

A gathering of Sea Otters at last year’s IWA National Festival at Beale Park.

The Pelsall Canal Festival- a good model? There has been much discussion regarding how IWA should respond to the New Waterways Charity, including how we relate to the large number of the waterways organisations, canal societies, restoration trusts, boat clubs etc. I suggest that the Pelsall Festival, to be held on 11th-12th June, is an example that IWA branches could well consider. It was initiated by the BCN Society and is actively supported by Lichfield and Birmingham BC&W Branches, the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust and Longwood Boat Club, so we have examples of each coming together. The organisers have stated that with the coming of the New Waterways Charity, it is important to promote lesser-used waterways such as the northern BCN and to encourage local people and politicians to appreciate their value. This event will do exactly that and there has already been an enthusiastic response from the local community. Greater boat movement is also important on these waterways to justify their retention and a good boating attendance is expected at the event.


The opportunity will be there for IWA branches attending to promote the Association and obviously recruit more members. Even those who are loyal supporters of local waterway organisations can be persuaded that they should also join IWA to support its national campaigns. IWA members are very welcome to come along over the weekend and judge for themselves how this works in practice. The event, to be held on Pelsall Wood Common, is open to the public on 11th-12th June or e-mail for information on boat or trade entries.

Ivor Caplan, Promotions &


Communications Committee

Adult, single Joint/Family

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| IWA waterways - Summer 2011

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20/4/11 11:28:45


Campaigning at the National In the Spring issue of Waterways you previewed the IWA National Festival & Boat Show to be held in Burton upon Trent in July. The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust have been attending the ‘National’ for 25 years - rain or shine, wherever it might be! We have many regular visitors to our stand who take a real interest in our slow but sure progress to once more link Gloucester and Hereford by 34 miles of (very attractive) inland waterway. I doubt that many of our visitors will be aware of the considerable expenditure involved in our attendance (which will exceed £900 this year); £562 to the IWA for the marquee, over £330 for van hire and fuel costs, additional passes for our volunteers manning the stand - it all adds up! However, our Council of Management do not hesitate to approve this expenditure as we consider it to be an essential part of our promotional and campaign activities attending events, both close to home and around the country. How disappointing, therefore, to read the description of the ‘National’ in the Spring issue of Waterways “ . . . over 350 boats . . . chandlery . . . bands and other entertainment . . . real ale . . . fairground rides . . . WOW activities for children” and, I almost forgot, the most important one - “home-made sweets”! Not a single mention of waterway restoration or of the equally important work of volunteers on existing waterways; and it is the same on the IWA website. Whilst there is a specific IWA Campaign Festival held elsewhere, and the topic may no longer be the primary focus of the ‘National’, the canal societies and trusts who exhibit at the ‘National’ deserve much better support for their campaigning than this.

Your comments are both interesting and relevant. You can rest assured, however, that campaigning for navigable waterways and those under restoration is at the heart of IWA policy, and the National Festival & Boat Show remains an important event in terms of publicising and raising funds for restoration projects. But it is also an event that seeks to attract as wide an audience as possible and to bring in people who would otherwise be unaware of the inland waterways and their value to the community – hence the need to provide a wide range of entertainment for all. Ed.

Cli ff Penny, Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust ROAD FREIGHT STILL RULES The British construction industry does have a spectacular gutlessness about it. There are six sizeable building sites I can see from my home close to the junction of Kingsland Basin with the Regent’s Canal, each of them with a frontage onto the canal. So far not so much as a pebble would appear to have travelled by canal while trucks rumble in and out lugging waste and steel and the means to build yet more faceless blocks of flats. It is dispiriting.

Tony Price,London

A wide variety of entertainmen t is always on offer at the IWA Nati onal.

THE NEXT GENERATION I am writing to thank everyone involved in producing the Spring issue of Waterways – it was certainly one of your best! I enjoyed most of the articles contained within, but I was especially interested to read about ‘The Next Generation’, telling of attempts to attract young people into the waterway movement. What a vital element of IWA activity this is, and absolutely essential to the well-being of the canal system in the decades to come. You don’t have to be a genius to realise that most people involved with the waterways are well beyond the first flush of youth – just take a look at those boating on or walking by your local canal for confirmation of this point. So the recruitment of young folk is vital and full marks to all those volunteers – both within IWA and belonging to other organisations – for spreading the word. I do hope to read more about this activity in future issues of Waterways.

Mauri ce Green, Cirencester

You will be able to, Mr Green, as ‘The Next Generation’ is to be a regular feature from now on. See pages 34-35 in this issue. Ed.

IWA waterways - Summer 2011 | Letters.indd 43


20/4/11 11:29:10

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Index to Advertisers AB Tuckey ........................................................... 18 ABC Leisure Group .............................................. 18 ABNB .....................................................................3 ARS Anglian Diesels ............................................. 19 Axiom Propellers ....................................................6 B Beardall Marine Services ......................................4 Barby Moorings ......................................................2 Barton Turns Marina ...............................................4 BC Boat Management ......................................... 37 Beta Marine ........................................................IBC Blisworth Tunnel Narrowboats ............................. 32 Boatshed Grand Union ........................................ 37 Braunston Marina ...................................................7 Caldwells ............................................................ 18 Canal Boat Cruises of Riley Green ........................ 48 Canal Cruising Co ................................................ 37

Canal Junction .................................................... 18 Channelglaze .........................................................4 Colecraft Boats ......................................................2 Debdale Wharf Marina ........................................ 36 Delta Marine Services .......................................... 32 Fox’s Boats .............................................................6 Heron Maps ........................................................ 33 JL Pinders ............................................................ 33 Lee Sanitation ........................................................6 Limekiln Ltd ........................................................ 36 M&R Controls .........................................................6 Maestermyn Marine ............................................ 32 Midland Chandlers ............................................ OBC Morris Lubricants ................................................. 13 Powercell Batteries .................................................3 PRM Marine Ltd ................................................... 41

Propeller Solutions ............................................... 48 River Canal Rescue .............................................. 45 Riversdale Barge Holidays .................................... 32 Rose Narrowboats ............................................... 36 Roydon Mill Marina .............................................. 37 Saga Insurance .......................................................3 Shobnall Boat Services ........................................ 41 Swanley Marina ......................................................6 The New & Used Boat Co .......................................5 Travel Sat ...............................................................2 Video Active ..........................................................6 Websters Insulation 1 .............................................8 Wharf House Narrowboats .................................. 48 Whilton Marina ................................................... IFC Wilderness Trailboats .......................................... 32 Worcester Marine Windows ................................ 18

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Waterways Magazine Summer 2011  
Waterways Magazine Summer 2011  

The magazine of The Inland Waterways Association