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waterways Keeping Our Waterways Alive

Winter 2009 | ISSUE 226

YOUR WATERWAYS NEED YOU! Volunteering: past, present & future


AT RISK! YOUR WATERWAY NETWORK Restoration Update The interview Cromford Canal Plans

COVER Winter.indd 2

Timothy West

News & Views

Latest Developments

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National Chairman’s Column


The future prospect for the funding of our waterways continues to concern us. Despite British Waterways putting in place a reorganisation of their waterway units to achieve annual cost savings of around £10m, including the loss of 100 senior employees, their ‘reward’, and that of supporters who hoped that this action might reduce the pressure on the maintenance budget, was an announcement from Defra that their 2010/11 grant to BW would fall by nearly 17% compared to the current year. Arising at a time when most waterway stakeholders were looking to a future influenced by BW’s proposed transition to the Third Sector (meaning neither Public nor Private sectors) and the updating of Waterways for Tomorrow into Waterways for Everyone, it seems ironic that the sponsoring Government Department, Defra, has come under such pressure from HM Treasury that waterway funding and government’s commitment to it has come back to the top of the agenda. At a time when the waterway network is larger than at any time since IWA’s founding, probably in better general condition (other than depth), and more widely used, this is even more unfortunate. I know that the individuals at Defra dealing with waterway matters are dedicated to their role and are no doubt as frustrated as we are that across the board cutbacks on their department’s spending, imposed by faceless treasury officials with a lack of understanding, can do so much harm. If each £ of taxpayer’s money spent on the waterway delivers between £6 and £15 in public benefit, then it is the public benefit that will bear the multiple impact of any short term cut in grant. It is pertinent to look back at Defra’s Rural Payments Agency’s problems four years ago in distributing £1.6 billion each year to farmers; this resulted in additional unnecessary costs to the taxpayer of £622m, according to the National Audit Office. The consequence of these failings puts BW’s grant of £47.8 million for 2010/11 in context. That wasted RPA money would have funded BW at current levels for the next 13 years. So, if you do manage to struggle around our under maintained system next year, just think about that level of wastage and the lack of management oversight at the heart of Defra. Our SOS 2010 campaign (see pages 6-7) draws attention to the impending problems of reduced maintenance. Save our System is designed to get the attention of the public at large and to convey the problems and issues of waterway funding, so that they can join us in saying to Government at a national and local level ‘Support our System’. When one looks back over our Bulletins from the last 60 years the recurring theme is waterway funding and often a grand vision of a National Waterways Conservancy arises. On a positive note, BW’s 2020 Vision of being a Third Sector organisation may be the embryo for such an organisation. An essential part of the equation must be the retention of their property assets as a form of dowry to allow them to achieve, gradually over the years ahead, financial stability, rather than deal with last minute reductions in funding. This may be just a dream, but we could start to turn this into reality as we approach 2010 and celebrate the centenary of the birth of one our founders, Tom Rolt.

Contents 6


SOS 2010

IWA launches its campaign to save the waterways



News News and views from around the network

A full report from Redhill-on-Soar

38 Our Friends in the North

40 26 Your Waterways

IWA in action in York

Waterway Cuttings

Need You!

What the press have to say about the waterways

A look at the issues surrounding waterway volunteering

Readers’ letters

32 Restoration Update

The Interview We talk to famous actor Timothy West

36 Festival IWA National 2009

From the Thames & Medway and Cromford canals

43 Inbox 44 Directory

Who’s who at The Inland Waterways Association

WATERWAYS EDITOR: Keith Goss Tel: 01283 742951 E-mail:

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

A non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee (612245), Registered as a Charity (No. 212342)

Founded: 1946, Incorporated 1958 Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453 E-mail: Web site: Chief Executive – Neil Edwards, Operations & Information Systems Manager – David Forrester Finance Manager – Helen Elliott-Adams Campaign & Communications Manager – Jo Gilbertson l IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in Waterways but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated, otherwise the Association accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Although every care is taken with advertising matters no responsibility whatsoever can be accepted for any matter advertised.

Clive Henderson

Waterway Images

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

COVER PICTURE: The horse-drawn hotel boat Sian on the Montgomery Canal. Maintenance problems on this waterway have resulted in holidays having to be cancelled – see News pages.

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• Breakdown and Call Out Service • Gas service and repairs – Gas Safety Registered • Plumbing service and repairs • Refits and refurbishments • Heater service and new sales

• Marine equipment sales, service and repairs • Dry dock and blacking – undercover • Electric service and repairs • Repaints full or partial – undercover • Engine service and new sales • Bespoke boat building

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Look o for you ut r SO car/boa S t stickers

SOS 2010


t the National Festival & Boat Show at Redhill-onSoar over August Bank Holiday IWA announced the launch of its Save Our System (SOS) campaign. The campaign reflects IWA’s increasing alarm at the depth of the cut in grant-in-aid for British Waterways in 2010/11. It is being reduced from this year’s available grant of £57.448m to just £47.848m, representing a reduction of some 16.7%. There is concern that the Environment Agency will have to face a similar reduction in funding. Launching the campaign, National Chairman Clive Henderson said: “We believe that the threat of under investment in the waterways must be addressed by all stakeholders in the waterways – now. Government is slashing British Waterways’ budget and unless we stand up to this we can expect more of the same. We must defend our waterways system. We are therefore launching our Save Our System 2010 (SOS 2010) campaign. We need to know how these cuts are affecting the system and do something about it before it is too late. “IWA is calling upon all IWA branches and regions to contact colleagues in

other waterway organisations together with local waterway societies and trusts to identify, in partnership with local navigation authority managers, issues of poor maintenance and slipping standards – especially those affecting safety. The collection of evidence about problems caused by under funding locally will allow us to build the national picture so that no-one can deny the effect of these cuts and so that the under funding can be reversed.”

Members’ Briefing at AGM At IWA’s AGM at Milton Keynes on 26th September, a comprehensive briefing was given outlining the aims of SOS 2010 and seeking the support and commitment of members. It will be a phased campaign with the following objectives:


Find out and report facts. Members are requested, along with other interested parties, to document and record problems on the waterway network, reporting them to British Waterways or the Environment Agency as appropriate, determining where possible which ones result from funding issues. IWA should also be informed via the website.


Raise public awareness. We all need to mobilise public support for your local waterways- the local community needs to be advised of the benefits that the local waterways provide to the whole community and need to have explained the consequences of lack of funding on amenity - make and distribute flyers and, hold ‘waterway awareness’ days out on the towpath or in the local town and villages. Get out and talk to the walkers , cyclists and fishermen – they are our allies . Gain media support. Our concerns and local support for the waterways through holding awareness days and our campaigning should be used to make a strong case to the local press and broadcast media. It is important that the media’s focus should then centre on the benefits that the community enjoy from well maintained waterways locally and the likely concerns of non boaters caused by (walkers cyclists, home owners etc) loss of local amenity (and possibly the adverse impact on homes and businesses locally) if funding is reduced and continues as such. It should be stressed that good well maintained waterways benefit us all – and declining waterway standards are a cause for concern for everyone and not just for boat owners.


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Get political support. All MPs with ‘waterway constituencies’ should be approached, appraised of the situation and ‘recruited’ to the cause. With the general election likely in May, prospective parliamentary candidates should be similarly briefed. IWA members should also contact local councillors, as they are often key to local support for the waterway corridors- get them on board literally; take them out on a boat, do the same for any prospective candidates, and ask them to publicly support your campaign and the waterways in the local press. IWA supporters might like to consider in the longer term offering themselves to become ‘champions’ of the waterways, to go and speak up for them at council meetings, or even stand for seats on parish councils with waterways running through the area and attempt to influence local spending plans in a way that might benefit the waterways, such as towpath maintenance etc. Vote for the waterways. Members should strive to make waterways funding a local issue in each riparian parliamentary seat – and consider voting for the candidate/party offering the best future prospects for the waterway system. Change government attitude. Many riparian seats are marginal constituencies and active campaigning can make a difference to the attitude of sitting MPs and their opponents. IWA members can

5. 6.

affect waterways funding by working on and with parish councils – towpaths and recreation spending is often influenced from this tier of local government.

A Question of Timing The following timetable is suggested to gain maximum impact for the campaign: now – gather evidence of local problems and report them; before Christmas – launch publicity campaigns and garner local support; before the general election – gain as much political support as possible; between March and over the May Bank Holiday 2010 – organise mass protests and local waterway event days throughout the network.

Raising the Stakes SOS 2010 has already received the support of various organisations, including the Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs (AWCC), Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Save Our Waterways (SOW), Residential Boat Owners Association (RBOA) and the Boating Association, formerly the Great Ouse Boating Association (GOBA). IWA is supporting the campaign with a round of intense political lobbying and has attended the main party conferences, whilst meetings are being arranged with the Waterways Minister Huw Irranca-Davis and his Conservative and Liberal Democrat shadows. Furthermore, riparian MPs will be targeted and made aware of both the nationwide situation and the specific condition of the waterways within their constituencies. To raise the stakes further, IWA is seeking a 10 Minute Rule Bill, by calling for statutory protection for the waterways and is requesting an adjournment debate in Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity. Left: The aftermath of last year’s breach on the Stourbridge Canal. The problems there are still not fully resolved. Below: Repairs underway on Shebdon Embankment on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Get Involved! Notwithstanding the above, it is the ordinary IWA member who will ultimately determine the success or failure of the SOS 2010 campaign. Without IWA’s unwavering commitment to the waterways over the past 60 years, the system in its present form would not exist and it is inconceivable that decades of dedicated campaigning and physical restoration work by so many should be put at risk by short-sighted government policy and penny-pinching economics. Members can find out more information on the campaign, register their support and record issues and download their own photos in support of the collection of evidence and order campaign materials at:


At the time of going to press well informed parliamentary sources lead us to believe that British Waterways property portfolio will be put up for sale as part of the Government’s ‘fire- sale’ of assets in order to help plug the spending deficit. The removal of BW’s assets is a significant and retrograde step, it will cause an extra £45 million hole in BW’s budget at a time when the grant in aid has already been slashed by more than half since 2003/4. It is not over stating the case to say that this in general terms means the end of BW’s shared aim with government to become more self sufficient. It will lose its autonomy and discretion over its spending priorities as a result, and be wholly at the mercy of whatever grant government is able to find. This will undoubtedly, once implemented put the operations of the waterways under impossible strain owing to lack of adequate funding. The waterways will decline and some may inevitably have to close. We will be back in the dark ages of state ownership of the late 1940’s. The ability of BWs property portfolio to support BWs operations is at the heart of how the waterways are run, funding over half of its operations. The cash generated helps keep the waterways open and running. This revenue is also at the core of its strategy to move towards the third sector under the 20/20 proposals. This becomes an impossible dream if these proposals are implemented. For the price of less than half a day’s interest payments on the national debt, government is not just selling off the family silver, but the family trust fund – it is cashing in something valuable and part of the heritage of the waterways for a ‘pile of beans’. If you thought SOS wasn’t important – it ought to be now – everything is at stake.

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IWA Launches Pre-Election Briefing for Riparian MPs and communities, and goes on to detail the fundamental components that are needed for waterways to flourish. Clive Henderson, IWA National Chairman, said: “Our aim is to give Members of Parliament a full appreciation of the benefits which good well maintained waterways can deliver for the waterways in their constituency. We want every riparian MP to appreciate just how wide-ranging the advantages are

Tom Rolt Centenary 2010 sees the centenary of the birth of Tom Rolt, one of IWA’s “founding fathers”. Born in Chester in 1910, he trained as an engineer and had a passion for Victorian engineering of all kinds. As well as campaigning for the waterways he was also a lifelong vintage car and steam railway enthusiast. From working within the engineering sector, Tom moved on to become a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. However, many of those titles reflected his enthusiasm for engineering structures and those who had designed and built them. One of his first books, Narrowboat , which chronicled his tour of the inland waterways in 1939 with his wife, Angela, on the restored Shropshire Union narrowboat Cressy, prompted the formation of IWA in 1946. To celebrate this centenary, several events are currently in the planning stages but two have already been confirmed. IWA Chester & District Branch will be staging a Tom Rolt Centenary Celebration Rally at Tower Wharf in Chester during the weekend of 26th-27th June 2010. The Talyllyn Railway will also be represented during the weekend and hopefully local representatives from the Vintage Sports Car Club will bring their cars – enabling the Rally to celebrate Tom’s wide ranging interests throughout his life. There will also be a Centenary Dinner taking place – further

details available soon. For further information about the Chester celebrations, please contact Lesley Taylor on 0151 342 6651. At the other end of the country, near to Oxford and Banbury, the starting point for Tom’s Cressy cruise, the National Festival & Boat Show at Beale Park on the River Thames over August Bank Holiday weekend, 28th-30th August, is also being promoted as the Tom Rolt Centenary Celebration Event. Once again, it is hoped to demonstrate Tom’s wide ranging interests through displays and the attractions that will be running during the weekend. For further information telephone: 0844 800 6583 or visit the IWA website www.waterways. for updates. Other events will be taking place, around the Cressy Cruise route and members may like to consider retracing part of that route – leaving from Banbury, heading up to Chester for midJune, back down through the Potteries and returning to Beale Park for the National Festival at the end of August.

for their local communities. The picture postcard impression that the waterways are all about boating is just not the case. The waterways support a full spectrum of leisure opportunities. More than 50% of the country’s population live within 10 miles of a waterway and they receive in excess of 500 million visits each year - they are our ‘forgotten ‘national park’. “In addition to obvious leisure benefits from walking, cycling and

angling, it has been increasingly recognised by government that waterways help improve health, social cohesion and integration and regeneration. Our document explains what key components must be in place to deliver these benefits - not least, proper financing of the publicly owned navigation authorities.”  Visit uk/Library/IWAOfficesResource/ ParliamentaryBriefing.

Shropshire Union Canal to reopen Following repairs to Shebdon Embankment carried out by contractors working for British Waterways, the Shropshire Union Canal was scheduled to be fully reopened by 24th October. The waterway had been closed because of a breach in the canal bed between Shebdon Bridge and Park Heath Bridge, which occurred on 13th August. The closure resulted in a substantial drop in the number of boats using the Shropshire Union Canal and prevented navigation of the popular Four Counties Ring.

BUT More Problems on the Stourbridge The Stourbridge Canal was closed twice during September after a leak was discovered in the embankment at the site of last year’s breach, when 50ft of embankment, and a section of canal bed were washed away. Safety checks revealed that the newly built and strengthened embankment was not in any danger, but it was discovered that

The Stourbridge Canal breach site during initial repairs.

faulty clay had been used by the contractors on the initial repair. Temporary repairs have been carried out to the latest leak, and the canal will remain open for the remainder of the year. The waterway will then be closed from 4th January until 12th March to allow the whole section to be reexcavated, and a new clay lining to be installed.

Graham Booth

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) launched its briefing for Members of Parliament about how important the inland waterways can be for their constituencies at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in late September. The document, entitled The inland waterways: What Can They Do For Your Constituency?, explains the full range of advantages that the waterways can provide for local people

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winter NEWS AND the Huddersfield Narrow Closes the canal above Lock 14e, into the nearby Ramsden Mill, which has previously had problems with leakage, but this time it is much more serious, with British Waterway staff having to drain the pound

Lock 14e on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal with Ramsden Mill to the left.

The drained pound above the lock.

WRG in action in the East Midlands DURING THE LATE SUMMER Waterway Recovery Group has been fitting boat mooring rings at two locations in the East Midlands. On the River Trent in Nottingham 45 rings were installed on the embankment outside County Hall for Nottingham City Council; this completes the improvement of the Embankment moorings started some years ago. As well as being a popular casual mooring this area is the main mooring site for the Nottingham Riverside Festival in August. As well as fitting the new rings bent and damaged rings were removed.   On the Witham Navigable Drains at Boston mooring rings were fitted at Cowbridge Lock for the Witham Fourth District Internal

IWA’s John Baylis hard at work in Nottingham. Drainage Board, whilst on the Maud Foster Drain in Boston new rings were fitted on the Packet

Boat Steps, beside Maud Foster Windmill, for the Environment Agency.

Graham Booth

Waterways Museum on TV A film crew working on behalf of the BBC has been recording life at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port. The filming is for a threepart documentary programme, which will focus on the difficulties of running a museum in the current economic climate. Over a period of three months,

instructions for boaters to leave the nearby lock empty to help alleviate the situation. In this case there is no obvious breach, and BW engineers are attempting to discover the reason for the loss of water.

above to prevent more water entering the mill. There have been repeated leakage issues with the canal since restoration with water previously escaping into the mill, leading to standing

Martin Clark

Martin Clark

Just two weeks after a major breach on the Shropshire Union Canal, a serious leak on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal has resulted in its closure for at least ten weeks. Water has leaked from

all aspects of the museum have been examined, and staff, visitors and volunteers have been interviewed. Two other museums will feature in the programme: the Leyland Museum, Preston and the Freud Museum, London. A screening date of late 2009 or early 2010 is anticipated.

IWA’s Winter Range IWA Promotion & Communication Committee has developed a new range of IWA clothing available for members to buy. Our clothing is in IWA blue and has the new IWA logo on the left breast: Q Poly cotton polo shirt £8.99 small XXL male and £8.49 female sizes 8-18. Q Sweatshirt with raglan sleeves £9.99 small-XXL Q Hooded, fully zipped sweatshirt £19.99 small – XXL Q IWA fleece jackets £18.99) small -- XL Q IWA tie £10.00 Other sizes -including children’s - may be specially ordered. To view the range go to http:// Clothing?feat=email# Details will shortly be sent to branches on how to order clothing with the branch name as part of the logo. Branches will also be given discount for buying more than five of any one type of garment. Prices will have to rise when the VAT rate increases in 2010. Mail order details will be available shortly. In the meantime, please contact Helen Whitehouse at 

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Learning More at Dudley

Chairmen sought for two IWA Regions Under the new arrangements for the appointment of region chairmen, nominations for all eight regions were sought in the May 2009 edition of Waterways. As announced in the August edition, there were no nominations for IWA’s London and South West regions, and these posts have been vacant since the Association’s AGM on 26th September.  Under the rules for the appointment of region chairmen (see Library/IWAGoverningDocuments), nominations for these two posts are now again invited, and should be submitted to the chief executive at Head Office by no later than Monday 4th January 2010 along with a brief biography, autobiography or statement

not exceeding 400 words, for publication as part of any ballot paper (which would be included in the February 2010 edition of Waterways). Information for potential new trustees (including region chairmen) is also available at GoverningDocuments. If you would like to discuss the possibility of standing as chairman of either London Region or South West Region, please contact either Neil Edwards, chief executive (01494 783453) or Clive Henderson, national chairman (01564 783672) for an informal conversation.  The appointments would initially be until the 2011 AGM for the post of London Region chairman, and the 2012 AGM for the post of South West Region chairman.

Dudley Canal Trust is developing plans for an innovative new Learning and Access Hub. The Hub will help enhance the experience for existing and future visitors and provide more opportunities to learn about the site’s internationally significant heritage. Dudley Canal Tunnel welcomes around 80,000 visitors a year to explore the canal tunnel and limestone caverns under Castle Hill. Managed and operated by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers the Canal Tunnel offers visitors a trip back in time and the chance to learn about the Black Country of the 19th Century, the history and formation of the limestone and the fossils within the tunnel. The Learning and Access Hub will also celebrate the role of the Birmingham Canal Navigations in the Industrial Revolution and its positive impact on the Black Country and the wider region. The Trust is working to secure funding for the Hub which will contain a range of exciting new facilities showcasing the canal tunnels and limestone mines, providing a resource which befits their rich history. To achieve its goals, it needs to be able to illustrate that the project has public support and has launched a campaign to get as many people as possible to visit its website www. and click on the “support our Learning and Access Hub” tab.

New Leeds & Liverpool Cycle Route A new cycling and walking route along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was officially opened on14th September and is expected to boost tourism in the Airedale area. The sevenmile route, which has taken four years to complete, links the canal towpath to the three town centres of Keighley, Bingley and Shipley, and to and from local bus and train stations. The Greenway, which forms a key part of the Airedale

Masterplan’s Connected Corridor, has been developed over a number of years with the Airedale Partnership, Bradford Council, British Waterways, Sustrans and other organisations. BW hopes the scheme will encourage local people and visitors to the waterways and surrounding areas by more sustainable means. The route, which principally follows National Cycle Network route number 696 along the towpath, also

includes some on-road sections to the town centres. It has been signposted using time rather than distance to help people see how little time it takes to travel from one place to another by walking and cycling. Information boards at key locations show the route, places of interest and a code of conduct for all users; a pocket sized map will also be available.

Aire & Calder Closure contractors completing site investigation, diving surveys, design, feasibility and construction. The lock is an unconventional shape, the main lock chamber being curved, making it particularly vulnerable to propeller scour from freight

vessels manoeuvring in the lock. This has caused extensive damage to the lock island wall. The new wall has been constructed from concrete and includes a fendering system capable of absorbing impact from heavy freight vessels using the lock. Repair work underway at Castleford Lock on the Aire & Calder.

New Trip Boat on the Nene


A lock on the Aire & Calder Navigation, Yorkshire’s principal freight waterway carrying around 700,000 tonnes of goods a year, underwent essential repair works in September. Castleford Lock was closed to boats for some three weeks while the works were carried out. The work on the Aire & Calder Navigation, a key route for the transportation of aggregates and oil products, has been carried out in stages over the last three years and this is part of the final phase of work. The project has included repairs to a failed 10-metre section of lock island wall and the north upstream approach wall. While the essential repairs were carried out the lock had to be completely drained of water and was closed to boats. The complex works, in a £500,000 investment by British Waterways, involved specialist

A new trip boat now operates on the River Nene at Ferry Meadows, Peterborough. The catamaranstyle vessel, built in the USA, can accommodate 12 passengers and is operated by just a single crew member. It will offer trips along the river at weekends and during school holiday periods.

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Winter NEWS Good and bad news for English Rivers The Environment Agency has released its results on the state of rivers, which showed improvements in water quality. Figures from the EA’s annual General Quality Assessment  show that seven out of ten English rivers and nine out of ten Welsh rivers, achieved ‘very good’ or ‘good’ status in terms of chemical and biological water quality in 2008. This improvement in water quality has supported the recovery of wildlife once thought to have vanished forever in some areas: v 50 years ago, no salmon were seen on the River Tyne, but already this year more than 10,000 have been recorded migrating up river. v Otters have this year been recorded in both Greater Manchester and the lower Thames for the first time in 40 years and after also  moving into Sussex this year, can now be found in every English county.

v The River Hamble, in Hampshire, has a new fish pass which enables sea trout, lamprey and eels to swim upstream for the first time in hundreds of years. v The River Mersey, once the most polluted river in Europe, is the cleanest it has been for a century. Salmon have now returned to the river. However, a new European directive sets even higher quality standards for rivers using a wider range of measures than previously. Under the Water Framework Directive 26% of rivers in England and Wales are now described as of good or high status. More needs to be done to meet these new water quality standards. The EA announced that it would be working to revitalise and transform a further 9,000 miles of river by 2015.  This will mean continuing action from the water industry to tackle discharge from sewage treatment works and the removal

England’s premier river – the Thames at Hampton Court. of water from rivers. It will also require action from farmers, to stop pollution from land getting into rivers, lakes and coastal areas. Pollution from towns and cities will also need to be tackled if the improvements required by Europe are going to be delivered.

The Environment Agency plans set out how each of these areas will be tackled, to clean up rivers, lakes, estuaries and the coast. For more information visit news/111199.aspx.

World Canals Conference in Serbia the conference, has highlighted to the Serbian authorities some of the changes that need to be made if they are to realise the full tourist potential of the DTD. Not only do they have to simplify the paperwork, but also to provide facilities on the canals, and on the River Danube itself, if foreign boats are to be encouraged to visit. Serbia is a particularly attractive destination for UK holidaymakers. It has yet to join the EU and thus is outside the Euro zone, so prices are currently still very attractive. The East–West theme was extended to future conferences with a presentation from

Yangzhou on the Grand Canal in China, with a bid to host the 2012 conference. If that is successful, next year’s conference in Rochester, New York, will be followed by Groningen in The Netherlands in 2011, then the conference will move east for the first time to China in 2012. “Eiffel’s Lock” at Becej.

Hugh Potter

a system of sluices and pumps, its initial purpose was to drain and irrigate, as required, the fertile land of the Danube plain, but it is now realised that it can also provide great opportunities for tourism. The presence of the conference has already initiated several developments. Canalside buildings have been restored, historic displays installed, and interpretation boards erected. One notable historic mill at Mali Stapar has been beautifully restored from what was a totally derelict state less than a year ago. In existing legislation, only Serbian boats are allowed to use the DTD without a special permit, which involves negotiating a hugely bureaucratic system. However one Irish boat, Mike and Rosaleen Miller’s Aquarelle, has now become the first foreign flagged vessel to navigate the system, and has been given great assistance from the Serbian waterway authorities, Vode Vojvodine. The presence of the boat, and of the foreign delegates at

The historic mill at Mali Stapar.

Hugh Potter

The World Canals Conference took place in Novi Sad, Serbia on 21st–27th September when delegates from all over the world assembled to hear papers on a wide range of topics. These concentrated on the fascinating waterways that comprise the Danube–Tisa–Danube system, 600km of navigable waterways with 16 locks linking different points of the Danube, which Serbia is intending to develop for tourism. Delegates also heard papers from Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, UK, and USA, under the overall conference title of “East and West will meet”. A pre-conference tour took delegates to see the famous Iron Gates lock complex on the Danube and a post-conference tour explored the little-known Danube– Tisa–Danube system. This was built as late as 1957–77, extending a network of earlier canals built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Using

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Boaters’ Neighbourhood Watch Residential boaters on the canals in the Coventry area are being invited to join a new scheme to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. It has been organised by West Midlands Police and British Waterways to provide canal users with a support network. Neighbourhood officers, wardens and a BW volunteer will be visiting Sutton Stop, where the northern Oxford Canal joins the Coventry Canal, to discuss the scheme. Members who join up to

the project will receive updates on crime in the area and will be invited to attend regular meetings and report any problems. The local police community partnership view is that traditional Neighbourhood Watch schemes help to reduce crime, reassure more vulnerable residents and also encourage neighbourliness and closer communities. They believe that the success of landbased schemes can be transferred to the community living on the waterways.

Roubaix Reopening Boats from the main French canal system have navigated to the summit of the Roubaix Canal for the first time in over 25 years. The canal links the French waterways at Marquette, near Lille, with the Belgian section of the River Escaut near Bossuit. Built in the mid 19th century to serve the local textile industry around Roubaix and Tourcoing, the last commercial traffic passed through in 1983. Plans to use its route for a ring road caused local communities to form an association to campaign for its restoration. Under the title ‘Blue Links’, this reached its climax on 19th–20th September, when

boats assembled at the Union Lock summit for a weekend of celebrations, culminating in a spectacular ‘Aquashow’ featuring water, lights and fireworks. The repeated appearance of the European Union symbols and anthem in the show reminded participants just how much this project had been supported by the EU – something that is lacking from restoration projects in the UK. Of the total budget of around €40m, half has come from the EU, and the remainder from a Franco-Belgian partnership. Also in contrast to the UK, volunteer input has been minimal.

A colourful gathering of boats attending the opening of the Roubaix Canal.

Hugh Potter

Sutton Stop on the outskirts of Coventry.

Potential Boost for the Soar Valley

The River Soar at Leicester with the National Space Centre visible in the background.

A new strategy, commissioned by The Waterways Trust and British Waterways, is proposing new visitor centres, restaurants, marinas and hydroelectric power generators for Leicestershire’s canals and rivers. The River Soar and Grand Union Canal Strategy aims to regenerate key areas along a 23-mile stretch from Kilby Bridge, near Wigston, to Loughborough. Although no money is as yet committed, bids are to be made to the East Midlands Development Agency, the Lottery, the landfill tax credit scheme and other sources. Private investors will also be invited to contribute. Seven areas – Kilby Bridge, Aylestone Park, Leicester city centre, Belgrave, Watermead Park, Barrow-upon-Soar, and Loughborough – have been earmarked as possible sites to attract tourists. Among the ideas outlined is a £1m visitor centre at Watermead Park, near Birstall, which will be built into a lake and accessed by bridge. Also suggested is the regeneration of Glen Parva Wharf and a white water canoe park at St Mary’s Wharf near Aylestone. This would be close to small scale hydro-electric power schemes which could be built there and on weirs in the Belgrave area. A marina is proposed near the Birstall Redhill roundabout, while cycle routes may run along the river at Barrow. A new waterfront development is envisaged for Windmill Lane, Loughborough. Near Barrow, a former gravel pit has been transformed into Pilling’s Lock Marina. The 314-berth marina with its waterside cafe opened just over a year ago. Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council and the councils of Charnwood, Oadby, Wigston and Blaby are all involved in the waterways scheme.

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Winter NEWS Montgomery Canal Problems Lack of maintenance to the Montgomery Canal, apparently caused by cuts to the British Waterways’ budget, has seen stretches of the canal, most notably between Belan and Brithdir, clogged up with weed, leading to the only horse-drawn holiday cruise company in Britain having to cancel bookings. Bywater Holiday Cruises suggest that their horse-drawn cruises are being put in jeopardy because of an abundance of weed in the water. Recently they had to cancel a cruise holiday that had been booked because the boat simply couldn’t get through the canal due to it being so clogged up with weed. The owner asserts that there have been cut-backs to the waterways budget and because the location is isolated from the main canal the boating company is not high up on BW’s list of priorities. The company has now called on local MP Lembit Opik to see the problem for himself and highlight the problems being faced. Lembit Opik commented: “There are two simple objectives for the Montgomeryshire Canal. Firstly we need to get these weeds cleared and make it useable again, and secondly we need to get ourselves connected to the British canal network. Both of the objectives are achievable and affordable. There is lots of evidence showing us that investment on the canal pays for itself. For every pound we spend on the canal we get approximately £6 in return to the tourism industry. By sorting out our canal it opens up a tourism artery – I am going to make sure we do exactly that.” The horse-drawn boat Sian can be seen cruising the Montgomery Canal from April to October and is a popular local attraction.

IN BRIEF IWA’s Branch Achievement Award has been made to Stoke-on -Trent Branch.This was particularly in recognition of the branch’s continuing work on the Burslem Port Project, Uttoxeter Canal restoration, Cheshire Locks campaign, close working with boat clubs and waterway societies in their area and lobbying of local politicians, particularly Staffordshire Moorlands MP Charlotte Atkins, IWA’s 2008 Parliamentarian of the Year. The award was presented to Alison Smedley, secretary of Stoke-on-Trent Branch. IWA is going on the road and wants to have a look at grass roots participation and what goes on at branch meetings. It will be a light hearted but serious appraisal, involving playlets and workshops to share experiences, and to practice new skills and learn from others in a safe and non-stressful environment. The key topics will be: how to keep your members and interest them more in branch activities; analysis of the membership survey and how we can best respond to members requirements and wishes; and, not least, SOS 2010 - sharing tips and thoughts on how to make it work for your area and let others know what we’re achieving. The seminar, to be staged at Head Office on 6th February, is open to everyone and transport from the nearest station and accommodation will be available if required. To register an interest and receive further details please contact or contact  Head Office on 01494 783453. Clive Henderson has been reappointed as IWA national chairman, whilst Les Etheridge, John Pomfret and Vaughan Welch have been appointed as IWA deputy national chairmen with effect from the November meeting of trustees.

Hugh Potter

British Waterways’ annual winter stoppage programme includes more than £28m of improvements and major engineering projects, including the replacement of nearly 200 lock gates. Other major works to be carried out between November and March next year include a £1m refurbishment of the Wilmcote flight on the Stratford Canal, essential engineering works to the summit reservoirs in the Pennines, and continuation of the £2.5m repairs to Vale Royal Lock on the River Weaver. The BW stoppage programme is available as a download from www.

Stamp of Approval Arthur Guinness on the stamp, and the first day cover photograph depicts Guinness barges moored at Victoria Quay on the River Liffey circa 1910. For further details visit

Guinness ver showing A first day co es on the River Liffey. barg

AN Post

The horse-drawn hotel boat Sian is one of the premier attractions of the Montgomery Canal.

The Irish postal service An Post has issued a stamp to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. Arthur Guinness commenced brewing at St James’s Gate in the city in 1759. Exports to England started ten years later and, using the growing network of canals in Ireland, Guinness was soon to be sent all over the country. The 82c stamp and cover were designed by Zinc Design. They feature a portrait of

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New Bridge on the Macclesfield… Following nine years of negotiation and fund raising by Bollington Civic Society and Macclesfield Borough Council (now Cheshire East Council), a new footbridge, numbered 26A opened on 29th August, connecting Clarence Mill and the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal. Clarence Mill contains more than 80 apartments and many small businesses, and the mill and the houses are at the end of a cul-de-sac. The new bridge provides quick access across the canal to the towpath and nearby recreation ground. It also gives towpath users, and boaters mooring on the nearby embankment, access to the mill and its facilities, which include the Waterside café and Discovery Centre. Attendance at both these venues has increased by in excess of 30% since the bridged opened.

Award for Stourport The British Waterways project team for the restoration of Stourport’s canal basins won the Best Heritage Project title at this year’s National Lottery Awards, broadcast live on BBC TV on 5th September. The restoration project received an incredible show of public support throughout all stages of the competition and won the prestigious title of Best Heritage

Project and a £2,000 cash prize to spend on the scheme. BW stated that the lottery funding has been vital to this extensive restoration project, which has truly made a huge difference to the local area and the community, giving Stourport a new lease of life. The award has enabled the project to be recognised on a national platform.

Tim Boddington

The new bridge at Bollington.

… and across the Severn Planning permission has been granted for a new footbridge and cycleway crossing of the River Severn at Diglis, Worcester. The bridge is being built by cycling charity Sustrans and local councils, and will provide foot and cycle access from the canal basin and the Severn Way on the east bank of the river, to the open space and riverside paths on the west bank. Henry Harbord from Sustrans commented: “I am certain that this project will really open up the riverside environment for everyone in Worcester to enjoy.” The new bridge is scheduled to open in June next year. Artist’s impression of the new Diglis bridge.

Looking across Stourport’s Clock Basin to York House.

A Safer Leeds? Flood defence plans in Leeds have taken a step forward with senior councillors giving their backing to the proposals. The decision by the council’s Executive Board to support the proposal which includes approval of a design and vision guide for the project should  allow the plan to go before the Environment Agency’s national review group in October. The council has announced it is willing to put £10m into the scheme to try to ensure the city gets the sorts of defences it wants. If the scheme wins both agency and Government approval, work could start in late 2010 or 2011. A report to the board said the agency’s preferred option for Leeds

was a £145m scheme requiring no council or other third-party funding. But the report added that a steering group of council, British Waterways, Yorkshire Forward and Yorkshire Water representatives felt the agency’s preferred option would block some waterfront views and prevent access to parts of the riverside. Leeds came close to serious flooding in 2007 and 2008. The agency has estimated that a major flood in the city would affect 4,500 residential and commercial properties and cause £400m in damage. The proposed defences cover a 19km stretch of the River Aire from Newlay Bridge and on through the city centre to Woodlesford.

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Winter NEWS Inland Waterways Advisory Council Appointments Seven new members have been appointed to the Inland Waterway Advisory Council with effect from January 2010. The Waterways Minister Huw Irranca-Davies has appointed Mike Cooksley, John Dodwell, Amanda Nobbs, Tamsin Phipps, Colin Powell and Alan Stopher. The Scottish Minister Stewart Stevenson has appointed Ronnie Rusack. Mike Cooksley is the Chair of Weaver Valley Management Board and Visit Chester and Cheshire, a board member of Natural Economy North West and a former vice-chair of Anderton Boat Lift Trust. John Dodwell is the Chair of Commercial Boat Operators Association, a director of Freight by Water and a member of the British Waterways Advisory Forum. Amanda Nobbs is the Chair of the Environment Agency Thames Regional Flood Defence Committee, a member of the Environment Agency Thames Regional Environmental Protection Advisory Committee and a former chief executive of the Council for National Parks. Tamsin Phipps is the Public Affairs Manager for the British Canoe Union, an official for the International Canoe Federation and a volunteer for a local community narrow boat (the Falcon Adam). Colin Powell is the Principal Country Parks and Grant Officer for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, a member of Afan Forest Park Tourism Growth Area Project Board and has a 25-year involvement with canals in Wales,

in particular with restoration works on the Neath and Tennant canals. Ronnie Rusack is the Chair of Seagull Trust Cruises, a member of British Waterways Scotland Group, a member of the Freshwater & Saltwater Group, a member of the Scottish Pleasure Boat Operators and was the sole owner/operator for 35 years of the Bridge Inn in Ratho which employed 70 staff and included two restaurants, four bars and three canal boats. Alan Stopher is a retired Property Services Assistant Executive Director for Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, a former project director of Huddersfield Canal Company and has advised on the Cotswold Canals restoration project by leading the Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council independent review team commissioned by Stroud District Council. All of these new Members will replace those who are leaving IWAC at the end of the year. After serving at least two threeyear terms, the IWAC Members leaving at the end of 2009 are David Dare, Christine Johnstone, Wyndham Mitchell, John Pomfret and Fiona Willis. IWAC members are unpaid. Ministers appoint a minimum number of twelve members, including two whom Scottish Ministers appoint. The Scottish Minister Stewart Stevenson has also reappointed existing IWAC Member Duncan McGhee for a further three-year period. For more information visit

Slow boats to Stratford British Waterways and the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) have launched their search for an operator to run a new commercial boating base at Limehouse Basin, which will include a waterbus service to the Olympic Park. The project is part of the leisure and regeneration plans for Limehouse Basin and the Lower Lea Valley. The vision for the Limehouse Quay scheme includes moorings for restaurant barges, community boats and Thames sailing charters as well as waterside businesses.  As the lead regeneration agency for the Lower Lea Valley, LTGDC’s aim is its transformation into a vibrant, high quality and sustainable mixed use city district with unrivalled landscape containing new high quality parkland and water features.  Mark Blackwell, Business Development Manager, British Waterways said: “The London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, coupled with the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and nearby Stratford City, provide a superb opportunity to breathe new life into east London’s canals and rivers, creating a world-class waterway legacy for London. The vision for the Lower Lea Valley is for a ‘Water City’ – a new destination where leisure and business opportunities are created around the waterway. We are looking for an operator who can

help us turn Limehouse Quay into a leisure destination, that’s got colour and character. It’s perfectly located with its own DLR station and a direct waterway route to the Olympic Park.” Limehouse Basin is at the start of a waterway route to Old Ford Locks on the River Lee Navigation, where visitors will be able to access the Greenway and the western spectator entrance to the Olympic Park. The route will also take in Three Mills Island, Bromley-by-Bow, which is home to the world’s oldest standing tidal mill. The waterbus service to the Olympic Park will be one of many floating business opportunities on offer at Limehouse Quay. Mark Blackwell commented: “At 4mph the waterbus service is realistically going to appeal more to those visitors wanting a leisurely journey to the Olympic Park, seeing east London from a different perspective. The service will be able to offer visitors an unusual way to travel to the Olympic Park via its surrounding network of historic canals and rivers. The waterways are rich in history and wildlife and will, we believe, surprise and delight visitors in the lead up to, during and after the 2012 Games.”  Information for potential boating base and waterbus operators is available from limehousequay.

Boston Lock Award The design of the new Black Sluice Lock at Boston, the first part of the Fens Waterway Link, has been recognised with a shield as part of the Boston Preservation Trust’s Civic Pride awards. “The waterway team has worked tirelessly to bring this lock back into use,” commented Environment Agency area manager Andy Baxendale at the awards ceremony. “It represents the EA’s dedication to working with its partners to improve people’s quality of life, and to protect the environment.”

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As long ago as 1991 Cory Environmental submitted an application to the then Department of Energy to construct a waste to energy facility on the site of a former borax works at Belvedere on the Thames opposite Dagenham. Such are the planning procedures that work finally got under way in 2008. The arguments in favour of the scheme were reduced pressure on landfill sites (many now being phased out), electricity generation, local heating and, of particular interest to IWA’s then Inland Shipping Group, maximising use of  transport by water. Indeed, Cory Environmental, with its seven tugs and 47 barges, is the largest lighterage operation on the Thames and moves some 600,000 tonnes of waste a year to landfill sites in Essex. Some years ago the firm was the recipient of IWA’s Vivian Bulkeley-Johnson award for its wholehearted promotion of waterborne freight and  on several occasions IWA gave support in its tussles with officialdom.  The new facility will take 585,000 tonnes of waste a year from existing barge transfer stations at Wandsworth, Battersea and Walbrook (City of London) and 500,000 tonnes of this will arrive by barge. The 180,000 tonnes of residual ‘bottom ash’ will be moved out by barge in covered containers for recycling into road building material and construction aggregates. Existing barges are to be upgraded and four new tugs are due for delivery during 2010 from the Damen yard in the Netherlands. These have been specially designed for Thames work. The plant will feed  66 MW into the electricity grid and there are plans for the use of residual heat for local heating. Going on stream in 2011, the facility will be operated by Riverside Resources Recovery Ltd, a Cory subsidiary, and it is difficult to understand why a scheme which has such inherent sustainability  faced the opposition it did from planners, politicians and the public. Cory is to be commended on its persistence in the face of opposition and in providing a facility which demonstrates a high degree of joined-up thinking and a possible model for waste disposal on other waterway arteries – the Severn and Trent being obvious examples but could the Lee Navigation not be brought into the picture? The Olympic Development Authority is, after all, putting a lot of emphasis on  legacy.


Tom Chaplin

The elegant houses on St Marks Crescent in Camden back onto the Regent’s Canal. They have had a number of distinguished residents in the past, including historian A. J. P. Taylor, trade

unionist Clive Jenkins, and Viscount St Davids, who was a key figure in the waterway movement and founder of the ‘Pirate Castle’, Camden’s community boating project which provides training and water-based activities for young people. A new resident continues the tradition of ‘social responsibility’ when carrying out work to upgrade his property by making sure that rubble and building waste are disposed of in a sustainable manner. The waste material is being taken away by barge to the Powerday recycling facility at Willesden.

HERE AND THERE A view from the regions is that things have been looking up with respect to general enquiries regarding water transport – even on smaller waterways. However, restrictions on navigation are never good news and make it difficult for barge owners to provide the longer-term guarantees of capability that customers must expect. Draught restrictions are in operation on the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation and Green Line Oils are already unable to load to full capacity to the Rotherham wharf that they serve. While the Three Mills Lock is now able to take Olympic traffic, access to the Lee Navigation is affected by a 12 inch reduction on permissible draught on the Limehouse Cut  and the Lee below Old Ford, as BW effect maintenance work on waterway walls on the Bow Back Rivers.  A recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between Crossrail and the Port of London Authority  should put five million tonnes of excavated material on to barges for movement to a planned  600ha nature reserve at Wallasea Island on the Crouch estuary in Essex. The material will be clean and uncontaminated and therefore ideal for land reclamation. Proximity of the Park Royal Crossrail construction site to the Grand Union Canal also raises the possibility that excavated and construction material could be moved by barge. Mayor Boris Johnson has said that use of barges “is a supremely brilliant plan.” Not quite

our words but just what IWA has been saying for nearly 40 years – we can but hope that the action matches his rhetoric! Wood, Hall & Heward’s movement of construction waste and material at several sites on the Paddington Arm and Regent’s Canal demonstrates the value of water transport in servicing waterside construction sites in urban areas. This needs to be far more widely appreciated in all local authorities with waterways and by politicians of all levels who represent them. Over the summer, the Fusedale H of Humber Barges has been engaged on a three-month contract with Lafarge for movement of aggregate from Besthorpe to Whitwood – a sign of ‘green shoots’ in the construction industry perhaps?  The granting of planning permission to Peel Holdings’ for their scheme for a multi-modal freight interchange on the Manchester Ship Canal between Barton and Irlam must be good news for water freight in that region. Port Salford is to have two berths for sea-going container ships and the associated distribution park will offer the potential for interchange between sea, road, rail and inland waterway transport. Clearly, this opens the opportunity that Manchester once again becomes a significant  port and the MSC ceases to be the grossly under-utilised artery that it has become. Maximum inland penetration of sea-going ships must be encouraged for a whole range of environmental reasons.

EA BARGE AUCTION The Environment Agency offered 28 barges and workboats for sale by tender in September. Most of the craft were from the EA’s Thames dredging fleet, and have potential for use on London’s waterways, including the River Lee and the Grand Union Canal. The boats date back to the days of the Thames Conservancy when, following the 1947 floods, a long-term programme was instigated to increase the capacity of the river.

Tom Chaplin


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


PHOTOS: Mike Haddon

Tom Chaplin

While the Belvedere project will have been 20 years from drawing board to start-up of operation, Three Mills Lock and 350-tonnes barge access to the Olympic site took a mere three years but it could still be argued that what might, indeed should, have been a ‘gold’ for waterborne freight, sees it still struggling from the starting blocks. The Olympic Delivery Authority can certainly claim that it has more than met its target of 50 per cent for traffic to and from the site by ‘sustainable’ transport modes but this has been achieved by rail operations – and even they feel that they could have done much more.  As for water transport, after the official lock opening in June Bennett’s Barges started moving out containerised waste and in September the Green Barge Company started taking out ‘filter cake’ (a by-product of decontamination of soil on site) which could amount to 3,000 tonnes a week. These are steps in the right direction but if the £19 million investment in the waterway improvements are to

be justified there must be some really big strides forward. BW’s sustainable transport manager has said that there is strong interest in waterborne freight from site contractors and it is vital that everything possible is done, by all the authorities concerned, to turn interest into action. There needs to be a far greater sense of urgency to tap traffic potential while the Olympic Park is still under construction and a proactive approach to ensure that as regeneration continues postOlympics, water transport has a significant role.  Much has been made of the role of ‘legacy’ as a factor influencing London’s successful bid but the literature available at ODA’s recent ‘open house’ was almost entirely in terms of water as a landscape feature spanned by new bridges and essentially recreational in character. So what about transport?  The Lee Navigation provides a transport artery that could be used for the movement of waste and recyclables and a unifying regional axis for a rationalised waste disposal network.

View looking north towards the A11 crossing with cap welding of one of the fender poles in progress.

Prescott Lock awaits the start of regular waterborne traffic to the Olympic site.

Piling underway on a fender pole just to the Prescott Channel side of the bridge at the junction with the River Lee proper. View looking south with Prescott Channel going off to the left. Notice the leisure boat moorings created in the centre of the River Lee on the short section before a sluice prevents further navigation in this direction.

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news Cruising past Newark Castle on the River Trent.

Hugh Potter

Punt Police on the Cam

Trent Valley Improvements A project to rebuild community links and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of the River Trent has been given the green light after the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership received approval for it’s £2.8m scheme from the Heritage Lottery Fund. As the application has passed the second phase of the funding process a £1.6m grant will now be made from HLF with the rest of the funding coming from partners and in-kind support from volunteers and community groups. Work will commence on the scheme in January 2010 and will benefit the parishes along the River Trent from Newark to Gainsborough. Projects will include archaeological investigations, creation of a Trent Vale grazing herd, renovation of a key heritage building,

conservation of hundreds of hectares of vital wildlife habitat, a small grants scheme, environmental and heritage education work, improved moorings, heritage festivals, visitor guides and much more. The scheme, which will run for three years, will directly create five jobs, help secure many more and create training opportunities for hundreds of people. Sean McGinley, British Waterways’ Acting General Manager said; “British Waterways is delighted that the hard work of the partnership has been recognised by the confirmation of this grant from HLF. This scheme provides a unique opportunity to create an identity and long lasting legacy for the communities on this part of the River Trent and we’re looking forward to what promises to be a very exciting future.”

More Success for Anderton For the sixth consecutive season, the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire has received a Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme Award from Visit Britain. “With its unique blend of history and heritage, the boat lift and visitor centre has so much to offer visitors looking for a day out,” said boat lift manager Tim Turner. “Winning the award consecutively maintains our profile, and has certainly attracted visitors from further afield.” For details of opening times telephone the visitor centre on 01606 786777, or visit

Cambridge Council is spending £10,000 on three ‘punt police’ in high-visibility jackets marked ‘Enforcement Officers’ to patrol the River Cam. The Council has introduced this initiative as a result of some high profile incidents between rival punt operators. Their task is to clamp down on touts who use ruthless tactics as they try to attract tourist passengers (a single 12-seat craft, of which there are 260 on the river, can earn operators up to £150 an hour). In the past three years there have been 31 reported incidents between rival touts, including threats of violence involving knives. One visitor suffered a broken hip after being knocked over in a tussle and boats have been sunk and bolt-cutters used to set craft adrift. Whilst they do not have the power of arrest, the officers are able to enforce bylaws by reporting incidents to the police and the Council. A local hire boat operator has stated that it has been the best year on the river for a long time, due to the officers’ presence. IWA advocates the use of Police Community Support Officer patrols on towing paths around the inland waterways as a cost effective means of opening up access to more people and making the local community and boaters feel more secure in using them.

Canalside Power Station for Burton The Irish state electricity company has announced plans to build a gasturbine power station beside the Trent & Mersey Canal in Burtonon-Trent. The power station would be built between the suburbs of Branston and Shobnall, in a triangle of wood and scrubland enclosed by the canal (offside) and the A38 road. There would be two chimney stacks which, at over 200ft high, would be three quarters of the height of the nearby derelict Willington power station. The Irish company, Electricity Supply Board (ESB) International, claims that the plant will be odourfree, and that “noise levels will be kept within permitted limits.” They expect to start construction in 2012, and open the plant in 2016. It will have a 25-year life. The works will include a gas pipeline to Alrewas, following an as yet undisclosed route. An underground cable will connect

to the National Grid an another disused power station in Drakelow, and the works will include a canal crossing. Both the defunct Drakelow and Willington sites are propsed for revival as similar gasturbine power stations. Local meetings are to be held to gauge local reaction to the scheme, following which an application will be submitted to the Department of Energy & Climate Change. The proposed new power station at Burton with the canal shown in blue.

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Visit our show rooms for special Offers and great prices every day at Stourport on Severn or Wolverhampton Brokerage service now available, no sale no fee on all boats within 10 miles of our shops. • AT STOURPORT ON SEVERN The Boat Shop, Mart Lane, Stourport DY13 9EL TEL: 01299 821111 Opening Times: WWW.LIMEKILNCHANDLERS.CO.UK TUES – FRI 10am TO 5pm SAT 10am TO 4pm. Closed Sunday

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BOATS WANTE D Space a vailable

oats Other B ble a il a v A R CALL FO S IL A T DE


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Ref 1003 The Hideaway 2007 45ft reverse layout cruiser stern by Compass Boat Builders on a Piper shell. The fitout is to a very high standard in light oak with solid trims and door frames. Beta Marine 35.






NEW Ref 1017 Copper Jewel 1998 50ft Trad by Nimbus Narrowboats. Good level of equipment. L-shaped dinette. Solid fuel stove + Gas CH, separate bathroom with shower & cassette toilet., Side doors to galley. Well equipped and ideal liveaboard. Beta 38/PRM150. SS water tank. 2Kw gas generator. £41,950

Ref 1020 58ft Semi-trad Christal Haze 2005 shell, launched in 2007. Reeves hull with build by Weltonfield Narrowboats. Whispergen power station. Conventional layout in maple with solid maple trims and floor. Victron inverter/charger. Beta 43 + PRM150. Hydraulic bow-thruster. A superb boat in as-new condition that would cost well over £100,000 to buy new. A bargain at £79,950

Ref 1014 57ft Semi-Trad Never on Time New 2009. Just completed in Church Minshull, contemporary style with reverse layout and through bathroom. High technical specification. £79,950 NEW Soporific. 57ft Cruiser stern. Liverpool shell with owner fitout to a high standard. See website for more details.

Ref 1018: 52ft Semi-Trad Bowstones. Recently extended and refitted. Would make an ideal liveaboard boat. £27,950. SOLD. Ref 1007 : Giocoso 58ft cruiser stern. Isuzu engine, standard layout. Fixed double, separate bathroom. 1800W inverter SF stove, diesel boiler, Maple finish. £42,950 SOLD Ref 1004: Shroppie Lass 51ft trad by Banbury Boats. A cosy boat with a warm feel.Vetus engine, much work done following full survey. £32,000 Ref 1009: Half Pint. A go-anywhere ‘bijou’ boat, just 23 feet long. Ideal day-boat with occasional overnight accommodation. £8,950 only. Under Offer. Ref 1010: Following the prompt sale of their boat here, Scenic Boatbuilders are starting another 58ft boat shortly. Sailaways to any level of completion also available. Ref 1023: NEW 55ft Tug-style Trad. See website or call for more details.

LOCATED IN THE HEART OF CHESHIRE ON THE MIDDLEWICH BRANCH OF THE SHROPSHIRE UNION CANAL All viewings accompanied by brokerage staff. Open 7 days a week. Credit facilities available Full Range of services available including slipway, blacking, welding, engineering, painting and cleaning FIND US Just south of Church Minshull on the B5074. CW5 6DX

For more information call 01270 525041, email us at or Visit &

IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 21

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Keith Goss talks to famous actor and seasoned inland waterways campaigner Timothy West


Interview Keith Goss: How did you first become involved with inland waterways? Timothy West: It was way back in the mid 1950s, when I was a student. I just happened to be visiting friends in Bath when I noticed that there was to be a public meeting about restoration of the Kennet & Avon Canal. I decided to go along, was enthused by the project and became involved, eventually becoming, along with my wife Prunella, a patron of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. KG: And you campaigned long and hard for the K&A’s full restoration? TW: Yes, we supported the campaign for many years, and it was a great moment when the canal was reopened throughout in 1990.

Stanley Ho


The full re op was a gre ening of the Ken ne at its restor occasion for all w t & Avon Canal in 1990 ation. ho had be en involved in

ate commemor tratford to terway restoration. aque at S pl wa a to g n ilin Unve ributio hings’ cont David Hutc

KG: When did you first go boating? TW: That was not until the mid 1970s when Lynn Farleigh, an actress friend of ours, lent us her 45ft narrowboat for a week. We spent a blissful holiday on the Oxford Canal and loved every minute of it. Within a couple of years we had acquired our own narrowboat, a 60ft craft built by Barry Morse at Banbury, which we still own to this day.

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I would welcome anything that simplified and unified the management and maintenance of the inland waterway system. KG: So which waterways have you cruised? TW: Most of the canals of the Midlands, the Grand Union Canal to London, the Llangollen, up to Ripon in the north, down the Northampton Arm and along the Nene. And I have on occasions lived aboard for a period – at Bath, Bristol and Leeds – when it has been convenient for work commitments. KG: But the Kennet & Avon Canal remains your favourite waterway does it? TW: Yes, it does. It has such special memories for us. After the canal was reopened throughout in 1990 our boat was the first to cruise the entire length between Bath and Reading and that was a great thrill. Over the years we have returned many times, cruising out of our moorings at Newbury. It’s all very lovely but we especially enjoy the section west of Hungerford, where the canal runs through such endearing places as Crofton, Great Bedwyn and Wootton Rivers. I also made a four-part series about the K&A for Harlech TV which was fun to do. I’ll always enjoy the K&A but it has to be said that maintenance standards have fallen below those on the rest of the system, with leaking lock gates, broken paddles etc. The local British Waterways people do their best but the problem is shortage of money. KG: You are a member of Inland Waterways Association. When did you join? TW: It was in the early 1980s. I supported the aims of the Association, of course, and as an enthusiast it just seemed the natural thing to do. And Sonia Rolt is a great friend of ours, so how could we not join? KG: Are you an active member? TW: Not terribly active I admit, although I do give talks at branch meetings from time to time. I gave one at Coventry recently, talking partly about the Higher Avon project. KG: I gather you’re a patron of the Avon Navigation Trust? TW: Yes, the River Avon is a beautiful river and I would dearly love to see it made navigable from Stratford up to Warwick to link with the Grand Union Canal. But it’s desperately hard to make progress on the scheme, due almost entirely to widespread opposition from riparian landowners, who are dead set against people boating past on the river. It’s really rather sad.

KG: And you’re involved with The Waterways Trust too I believe? TW: Yes I’m a trustee of TWT as well – so I guess you could say I’m something of a serial patron/trustee! I am trying to raise awareness of the difficult times being faced by our waterway museums, especially the one at Gloucester. I am campaigning for proper state funding for these museums, and for free public entry, about which I feel very strongly. KG: Looking forward, are you confident about the future of the waterways? Are you concerned about the funding crisis? TW: Yes of course, we all have to be anxious about the shortage of money available to maintain the system. But I have heard whispers that there could possibly be some more funding for ‘heritage’ after the general election so that could benefit the waterways. So I’m trying hard to remain cautiously optimistic that things might be about to improve. KG: How would you feel about a new body being established to look after the waterways instead of BW, a National Trust style organisation making greater use of voluntary labour – the so called ‘Third Sector’? TW: I would welcome anything that simplified and unified the management and maintenance of the inland waterway system, and if it enabled volunteers to play a greater part, then so much the better. KG: Among all your major film, stage and TV roles, you are of course especially well known to waterway enthusiasts as the presenter/narrator of the TV series Waterworld. How did that series come about? TW: I was approached by the producer Keith Wootton and asked if I wanted to do the series, and of course I jumped at the chance. It was so much fun to make the programmes and I got the chance to meet so many interesting people and visit lots of canalside locations I’d never been to before. We did nine series but, sadly, it doesn’t look as if there will be any more. KG: Do you get recognised a lot when you’re out on the waterways? Is that something of a pain? TW: Yes, I do get lots of folk come up and talk to me but, in the main, it’s enjoyable to meet people in that way. Sharing locks and having a natter is one of the pleasures of being out on the waterways. But just occasionally people can be mildly irritating.

Someone will ask me what programmes I’ve been in and when I tell them they say things like: “Oh, I didn’t like that at all”, or “I’ve never seen that, it’s shown on Fridays and that’s my pub night”! KG: What are you working on at the moment? Have you any exciting projects coming up? TW: There are always lots of things in the pipeline, it’s a matter of waiting to see which of them come to fruition. As a matter of fact I’ve just finished making an episode of Lewis in Oxford with Kevin Whateley. Kevin is a good friend and we always recall the time I nearly got him drowned on the Bristol Avon! I took him and the rest of the cast out for a trip on our narrowboat and it was after a period of heavy rain. In the fast running current we got swept onto the weir at Swineford Lock and very nearly over it. It took the combined efforts of a passing canoeist and a very large lorry to get us off the weir – otherwise I think we would still be there to this day! KG: Given all your inland waterway interests, do you have time to get involved in other projects and hobbies? TW: Prunella and I are supporters of the SOS Childrens Villages charity which helps orphaned children around the world, particularly in Africa and Asia. Through the scheme we have ‘adopted’ a young girl in Bangalore, which is both rewarding and deeply moving. And I am a very keen member of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, and have enjoyed numerous memorable trips aboard the Waverley. We are currently engaged in trying to get the Maid of the Loch fully restored and operating again on Loch Lomond – how marvellous that will be when we achieve it. KG: So what unfulfilled ambitions do you have? TW: That’s a difficult question to answer. My acting career has already been varied and richly rewarding. In terms of travel, I’ve been lucky enough to have visited many wonderful countries around the world, but I would still love to see China one day. And I haven’t explored all our inland waterway network yet – there’s still the Mon & Brec, Gloucester & Sharpness and Chelmer & Blackwater, among others, for me to get to. And some of the delightful French waterways, like the Canal du Nivernais, would be splendid for a holiday. Not to mention the Shannon, Barrow and various canals in Ireland – there really is so much still to do. It’s all very exciting. IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 23

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

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24 / IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009

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

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

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IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 25

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Your waterways

need you!

Could far wider use of volunteers be the solution to the funding problems facing the inland waterway network? We investigate some of the issues involved he Association of Inland 60 YEARS OF VOLUNTEERING Above: WRG promote better understanding of


Navigation Authorities (AINA) is staging its annual conference in London on 2nd November, at which the key topic will be volunteering and its role in restoring, maintaining and improving the inland waterway network. The keynote speech will be given by Waterways Minister Huw Irranca-Davies, who will set his address within the context of volunteering within the wider community – 11.6 million people volunteer at least once a month in the UK, with an estimated benefit to the nation’s economy of £27.5 billion. The conference will examine the scope for waterways volunteering to be substantially extended beyond restoration projects and will look at how it can become more accessible to local communities. It is hoped that examination of the issues will

existing and potential volunteering across the network and sets out with three principal objectives: to raise awareness of the value of volunteering and the associated opportunities to the nation’s inland waterways; to identify effective approaches with a view to their potential application in the management and use of the inland waterways; to consider how navigation authorities, working in partnership with the voluntary sector, can develop a cohesive strategic approach to volunteering as a key element of their role as custodians of the inland waterways. There will be presentations from ten bodies, including Waterway Recovery Group, Environment Agency, Community Boats Association, The Waterways Trust, Volunteering England and the Cabinet Office for the Third Sector.

It was in 1949 that Douglas Barwell purchased the unnavigable Lower Avon for just £1,500 and began the modern era of voluntary work on inland waterways. His Lower Avon Navigation Trust successfully restored the river up to Evesham and reopened it in 1965. It set the pattern for voluntary schemes throughout the country and was followed by the restoration of the long derelict southern Stratford Canal under the inspirational leadership of David Hutchings. Volunteer labour – some coming from local prisons – did the hard graft on the subsequent Upper Avon project, this section of the river being reopened to navigation in 1974. Other major schemes saw volunteers descending in large numbers to work on the Ashton and Peak Forest canals, resulting in the popular Cheshire Ring cruising circuit being back in business by 1974. A notable event occurred

volunteers at work on Droitwich Barge Lock. Opposite top: The Lower Avon was the first major voluntary restoration project. Opposite centre: The ‘Big Dig’ at Welshpool in 1969. Opposite bottom: Restoration of the Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal brought about reopening of the entire waterway in 1990. Far right: WRG volunteers tackle scrub clearance on the Grand Western Canal.

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Waterway Images Robin Smithett

on the Montgomery Canal in October 1969, when some 300 volunteers arrived at Welshpool to clear, reopen and rewater the waterway through the town – effectively saving it from disappearing underneath a proposed bypass. Over the years the volunteer-led restoration successes have kept on coming. Some 35 years of campaigning and physical work by members of IWA and the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust saw the reopening of the entire navigation between Reading and Bristol in 1990, whilst the Huddersfield Narrow and Rochdale canals were reopened in 2001 and 2002 respectively. And the work goes on. Throughout the year members of IWA branches and canal societies are out on the waterways, rebuilding locks and bridges, clearing vegetation, trimming hedges and tidying up towpaths. Projects are underway throughout the country, from the Wey & Arun in the south to the Lancaster Canal in the north. Some schemes, like the Droitwich, are close to completion, others are decades away from being finished. Today the vast majority of canal volunteering takes place away from the main network, on waterways undergoing restoration. Not all of it, however: IWA and Birmingham Canal Navigation Society members regularly undertake clean up ‘blitzes’ on the far flung outposts of the BCN; IWA’s West Riding Branch provides volunteers to man Castle Mills Lock at the entrance to the River Foss in York (see page 38); the Shropshire Union Canal Society

has installed visitor moorings at various points along the ‘Shroppie’; and Macclesfield Canal Society members help boaters through Bosley Locks on busy summer weekends. Waterway Recovery Group has been instrumental in co-ordinating and supplying volunteer labour for restoration and maintenance work throughout the waterway network for almost 40 years. WRG was established in 1970 by a group of enthusiasts, led by the late Graham Palmer, who had been active in restoration work since the mid 1960s, many of them in the IWA London & Home Counties Working Party Group. A feature of WRG’s early years were the ‘Big Digs’, when large numbers of volunteers were supplied to carry out large scale restoration or remedial work. These took place at locations throughout the country, including Dudley, Manchester and Woking. In recent years WRG has acted more as a co-ordinating force, supporting local IWA branches and canal societies on worthwhile projects, although it also runs a programme of some 20 Canal Camps annually, on waterways throughout the system. It is almost impossible to overstate WRG’s contribution to the waterway network over the years – without the efforts of its skilled organisers and dedicated volunteers many of the canals we blithely cruise on, walk beside and fish in today would simply not exist in their present form. (A full length article on Waterway Recovery Group was published in the Autumn 2008 issue of Waterways. To find out more visit IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 27

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Learning from others When British Waterways launched its Twenty Twenty Vision document (see Autumn 2009 Waterways) it referred to the importance of “making the most of the support from individuals and communities, increasing volunteering and potentially fundraising.” It is this same sentiment that will form the focus of discussion at the forthcoming AINA conference in London. But are not BW, along with others such as the Environment Agency, a little late in arriving at the party? Did not other organisations recognise the importance of maximising volunteer labour years – or even decades – ago? Every time UK Athletics (formerly the Amateur Athletics Association) organises a major championship or Grand Prix meeting, do they have to employ and pay the track judges, timekeepers, starters and other officials? No, they are all volunteers. And when Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and other superstars of track and field arrive for the London Olympics in 2012, will they be under the supervision of a host of well paid officials? No, the 2012 Olympic bid costings were based on the utilisation

of voluntary labour at the athletics stadium and other sporting venues – otherwise the entire enterprise would have been untenable. But for an even better example, perhaps we should take a look at the National Trust. Like BW, the Trust is charged with the responsibility of taking care of a hugely important part of Britain’s heritage, stretching throughout the nation and receiving millions of visitors annually. The Trust is not backward in putting these visitors to work. In 2008, some 52,000 volunteers between them contributed over 3 million hours of (unpaid) work to the Trust, at an estimated value of £22.3m – just think how far that sum of money would go in maintaining and improving the waterway system. Nor is it all light forestry and tidying up work that these volunteers carry out. The Trust maintains an excellent website whereby you put in your postcode and learn what opportunities exist in the vicinity. Try it – you may discover vacancies for event organisers, drivers, receptionists, site stewards, education officers etc. Even

some of the volunteer co-ordinators are themselves volunteers! There are other examples too. Cycle charity Sustrans operates with a very small staff, but benefits from a huge team of volunteer rangers who ‘adopt’ a section of route, keep it in good order and look out for serious problems – a model that would be admirably suited to the inland waterways. Sustrans also has volunteer engineers to help with bridge and tunnel works. A host of other jobs for which BW engages expensive external contractors, from the provision and maintenance of IT systems down to simple leaflet production, could be done much more cheaply by skilled and committed volunteers. Pertinently, engaging volunteers could be a way of soliciting contributions from the countless millions who enjoy the waterways but pay nothing towards their upkeep: the walkers, cyclists and casual visitors. It is important to emphasis, however, that additional voluntary labour would serve to complement the work carried out by IWA branches and canal societies rather than replace it.

TOP LEFT: A team of volunteers assembled by IWA and Grand Union hire company Wyvern Shipping gathered late last year… TOP RIGHT: … and pulled a huge volume of rubbish from the canal. ABOVE: Cyclists enjoying the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bradford-on-Avon – it is hoped that more such users can be persuaded to join the voluntary movement.

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The way forward A ROLE MODEL Of course you don’t have to look too far to see just how effective the prudent use of voluntary labour can be – just as far as Essex in fact, where the fortunes of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation have been turned around in just a few years. In an extremely poor state of repair when IWA – through its subsidiary company Essex Waterways Ltd – took over in 2005, the navigation today is almost unrecognisable from that time. Lockgates have been replaced, sluices overhauled, new footbridges built, more and better moorings provided with a range of associated facilities, banks repaired, dredging carried out, and much more besides. And although there are two full time employees - a manager and a lock-keeper at Heybridge Basin – as well as an administration assistant and a number of part-time residential caretakers, the vast bulk of the improvements to the waterway have been carried out by volunteers. Working parties from Waterway Recovery Group have attended regularly, but it is arguably the teams of weekday volunteers who have played an even greater role in upgrading the standard of the navigation. These are drawn from the local IWA branch and the Chelmer Canal Trust, but they also include local boaters, walkers and cyclists. And, making a valid comparison with the National Trust model, these volunteers do not just carry out the simpler tasks such as towpath maintenance and hedge trimming, but rather they are trained to operate all manner of machinery, including boathandling to RYA Level 1 standard. This enables them to use, among other equipment, the company’s workboats. There are no serious Health & Safety issues, because adequate supervision is always provided. Regular consultation meetings are held at navigation headquarters at Paper Mill Lock, and are attended by boaters, walkers and anglers, together with local parish councillors and villagers from Little Baddow and Woodham Walter; everyone has the chance to identify ongoing problems and suggest solutions. Users of the navigation are stakeholders in the true sense of the word: they identify difficulties which need to be addressed, then they get out there and do the necessary work to help put things right. So could the Chelmer & Blackwater blueprint be made to work nationwide? It would be naïve to make a direct comparison between this 14-mile, fundamentally river navigation and the extensive British Waterways network with its vast array of embankments, cutting, aqueducts and tunnels, all with their associated engineering challenges. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of quiet satisfaction down in Essex about the progress being made on this lovely navigation and clearly there are some important lessons which could be learned by BW and others. The lovely Chelmer & Blackwater at Little Baddow.

So is it all too good to be true? It is conceivable that the successful contribution of voluntary labour within the National Trust operation could be replicated on the inland waterway network, but there would have to be a major change of attitude on the part of BW. Too often, perhaps, BW is perceived as adopting a ‘cautious bordering on negative’ attitude to volunteers, frequently citing Health & Safety concerns to justify its reluctance to embrace the concept of wider use of volunteers. However, recent statements suggest that a fundamental shift in BW’s mindset could perhaps be on the horizon. But ultimately it may take a change in BW’s status to kick off a new era of voluntary work on the system. People are understandably less likely to devote their free time to a Government agency than to, for example, a charitable trust or community interest company. So if and when BW moves to the third sector, the case for which it outlines in its Twenty Twenty Vision document, the chance to develop a voluntary labour force on a par with that of the National Trust would be there for the taking. And the reward of such a course of action could be immense: a more affordable, better-managed inland waterway system.

Project Pugwash

WRGies in action at Heybridge Basin.

British Waterways is celebrating the importance of volunteers to Yorkshire’s canals and rivers by recognising those involved with volunteer project, Project Pugwash, which has dramatically benefited the region’s waterways over the past 12 months. Once a year BW celebrates the contribution of volunteers by presenting an “acknowledgement” award to ten projects that have illustrated the successful partnership between volunteer groups and the waterways. In Yorkshire, Project Pugwash was chosen for its enthusiastic and supportive approach to volunteering on the waterways, helping to engage many new people through boating experiences and Towpath Tidy events. Laurence Morgan, BW general manager for Yorkshire, presented the volunteer team with their award at an informal ceremony at Yorkshire’s regional head office along the River Aire in September. In 2008 BW was involved with volunteer-led projects that contributed 15,994 volunteer days to the promotion and upkeep of the waterways worth in excess of £1 million.

IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 29

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IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 31

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Fens Link Developments

Wey & Arun News Funds for ongoing restoration of the Wey & Arun Canal were boosted by in excess of £1,000 following a sponsored cycle ride on Sunday 6th September. The ride followed in the footsteps of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s annual ‘Poddle’ sponsored walk. This, the first ‘Pedal’ attracted 22 cyclists, who followed a figure-of-eight route amounting to some 30 miles. The circuit included stretches of the canal between Bramley, where the ride started and finished, and Loxwood. Not quite up to the Tour de France standard, but the leading riders nevertheless completed the ride in less than four hours – an excellent achievement. Meanwhile, progress continues to be made on the Wey & Arun project. An elegant brick bridge now spans the tail of Loxwood New Lock, which had to be constructed by the Trust to enable the pound to be lowered to allow passage under the main road bridge at Loxwood. The back pumping system for the lock has just been installed beside the top offside gate. Attractive traditional local wooden fencing beside the canal contrasts with the ugly high fence on the road bridge, which the Trust had to install at the insistence of the local council to ‘protect’ horse riders.

The official head of navigation on the reopened South Forty Foot Drain is on the A52 at Donnington Bridge, although some boats have already travelled further. However, there are currently no moorings at Donnington Bridge, the nearest being at Swineshead Bridge, four miles downstream. Lincolnshire County Council has now confirmed that it is preparing plans for moorings at Donnington Bridge, but the A52 is a very busy road. Before moorings are sited there, a new cycle track and walkway will be built beside the A52 from Donnington Bridge to Donnington, two miles away, in order to create a safe route into the village. Meanwhile, the council is continuing work on the detailed design to take the navigation above Donnington Bridge, which will include channel widening. Black Hole Drove pumping station will have to be bypassed, and a number of bridges and service crossings will have to be reconstructed on the route to Guthram Gowt. A new navigation channel will be built, with a new bridge under the A151, as well as a new lock to take the navigation into the River Glen. Black Hole Drove pumping station on the South Forty Foot Drain.

John Sulley

PHOTOS: Hugh Potter

Bridge spanning the tail of Loxwood New Lock.

Voles Halt Chichester Restoration The presence of voles has caused the long-running Chichester Canal restoration project to come to a halt. The long-term aim of the restoration of the canal, widely supported in Chichester, is to restore the canal’s link with the sea, allowing boats to sail in via a lock straight up to the canal basin, not far from the city centre. Major expenditure including work on road crossings and improvements to the sea lock, possibly running into millions, will be needed before the final

objective can be achieved. Meanwhile, volunteers have been working on improvements to the towpath and eroded banks. Voles are a legally-protected species and landowners are obliged to look after their habitat. West Sussex County Council is the owner of the threemile waterway and has required work to halt while the vole habitats are secured. Unlike other parts of the country where there has been a dramatic decline, at this site the population is said to be thriving.

Back pumping system for the lock has been installed beside the top offside gate.

Traditional local wooden fencing beside the canal.

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RESTORATION UPDATE Improved Prospects WRG support for Chesterfield for the Thames Canal Restoration & Medway the Chesterfield Canal; we read about the appeal and decided that this was a good way to show our appreciation”. Funding is already in place for the new Staveley Town Basin, upon which work will start after the imminent completion of a road scheme that has involved the restoration of half a mile of canal. However, in order to lower the canal so that it can get under the railway bridge further east, a new lock must be built just beyond the new basin. This will be Staveley Town Lock, number 5a.

WRG recently built new ‘narrows’ for a footbridge near Renishaw.

Cotswold Canals The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Stroud District Council and the Stroud Valleys Canals Company have now signed the official Funding Agreement. This confirms that the full HLF grant of £11.9m is available to the project. As lead partner, the council can now move forward with the project. Work is expected to begin in October with construction of a new bridge over the canal at Upper Mills, Stonehouse and dredging between Stonehouse Ocean and Haywards Bridge. This should be welcome news to residents at Bridgend, whose homes have been affected by flooding. The agreement had to be renegotiated following the sudden withdrawal of British Waterways from the project last year due to budget cuts and funding issues caused by the need to repair a major breach in the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.


Artist’s impression of the proposed Albion Quay scheme.

David McCarthy MBE of the Waterway Recovery Group presented a cheque for £500 to David Fox of the Chesterfield Canal Trust at the IWA National Festival. The cheque was a contribution to the Trust’s Staveley Town Lock Fund. Waterway Recovery Group has worked on the Chesterfield Canal many times, recently building a new washwall at Renishaw. Mike Chase who was in charge of this recent work camp explained the reason for this generosity saying: “We always receive a wonderful reception from our colleagues at

Hugh Potter

The Thames & Medway Canal was a short cut (seven miles, as opposed to 47) between the two rivers. It was never a success, as it saved little time and barge skippers preferred to avoid its tolls. In 1844, the failing canal company formed a railway subsidiary, and built a single-track line on the towpath through Strood Tunnel. Barges and trains shared the tunnel for a while, but by 1849 the South Eastern Railway had taken over the company, and installed a second track. The canal between Gravesend and the tunnel mouth at Higham was abandoned in the 1930s. Development at Gravesend resulted in the canal’s stop lock, and a length of canal beyond, being built over, although Gravesend Basin remained in use. In 2003, outline planning permission was given for Albion Quay, a development of 1,000 dwellings, and 8,500 square metres of other premises, on what is now a derelict industrial site straddling the canal at the west end of Gravesend Basin. This was followed in 2006 by an application for full planning permission, but that has still not been granted. Gravesham Council would like to see the area regenerated, and so discussions with the developer have recommenced. The council supports the reopening of the canal between Gravesend and Higham, and the developer has agreed to protect its route. However, several issues have arisen. The developer had not realised how wide the canal was, and so had reserved too narrow a route for it through the site, but may now be willing to widen it. The proposed road access to the development crosses the stop lock on the level, as there is insufficient space to provide a fixed bridge with adequate headroom. A moveable bridge would be required for navigation, but this could be costly as it will have to carry a two-lane road, and it would also be part of a bus route. Two low pedestrian bridges are also proposed, but building them higher should not prove expensive. A major concern is that the developer wants to leave the stop lock infilled, and the canal bed beyond dry and only partly excavated. The Thames & Medway Canal Association is concerned that restoring the waterway later would be much more expensive than doing it as part of the development, and that a future restoration might be opposed by the new residents along the route. The outer gates of the basin’s river lock have been removed, and so it is now usable for only short periods when the tide in the Thames makes a level with the basin. The council would like the developer to reinstate the gates to encourage greater use of the basin, which could be a haven for inland craft travelling between London and the Medway, or those making a Channel crossing. Reopening the canal to Higham could usefully provide many new moorings. IWA has provided engineering advice on how best to treat the canal through the Albion Quay site. If an economic solution can be agreed for undertaking the restoration as part of the development, perhaps involving some grant assistance, then the Thames & Medway Canal may soon see more use than it ever has before. Adrian Stott

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New Cycleway planned for the Derby Canal The Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust wants to build a new cycleway at a cost of between £700,000 and £1m, along the route of the former waterway. The plan is for it to run for seven-and-a-half miles from the Erewash Canal junction at Sandiacre to Pride Park, via Breaston, Draycott and Borrowash. The Trust wants the track to be the first step towards rebuilding the Derby & Sandiacre Canal and making it navigable again. There is already a path along the one-and-a-half miles between Draycott and Breaston. If planning permission is granted for the £40m-£60m canal project, it would become the waterway’s towpath. However, the Trust is struggling for initial cash to help it unlock a £42,500 grant from Derby City Partnership to cost and design the path. Chairman Rob Hartley said the trust needed to show its intent by raising, or “matchfunding”, £17,000 towards the project itself. Two property developers planning to build on intact parts of the canal, at Draycott and Spondon, had been expected to provide some cash but the current downturn in the real estate markets meant this promise of support has been withdrawn. A planning application for the track is to be submitted to South Derbyshire District Council, Erewash Borough Council and Derby City Council provided the three authorities grant outline planning permission for the trust to develop the canal corridor. It is expected that an application would be registered with the councils in November. The Trust hope that planning permission could be granted by the end of the year and the path built by next June. The Trust would apply for money to build the path from, among other groups, the three councils and East Midlands Development Agency. The plans have been backed in principle by urban regeneration company Derby Cityscape. Any individual or business wishing to help should e-mail

Bedford & Milton Keynes Progress Local councillors and Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries have congratulated Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust on the progress being made with the proposed link from the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the Great Ouse at Kempston. Recent achievements include: significant progress on the underpass near Stewartby which will carry the waterway beneath the A421; the installation of a waterway interpretation board at the Forest Centre (three more are to be installed along the River Great Ouse in Bedford as the result of a £7k Lottery grant); and the purchase of a parcel of land to ease the passage of the waterway from Stewartby to Kempston. The Trust has been working for eight years to get this far and the first piece of the 26km waterway is in place. The link is expected to be completed over the next 10-20 years. For more information on the scheme visit

MP visits Droitwich Canals The Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff visited the Droitwich canals project in mid September. He walked through the new tunnel under the A449, witnessed dredging of the Barge Canal between the A449 and the River Severn, and saw the restoration of the two locks between the river and the tunnel. Having seen the progress with the project for himself he took the view that it will bring new life to the town and with it future economic opportunities.

He felt that the project represented a real reason for optimism in difficult times. He congratulated British Waterways and all their partners, especially the volunteers in the Droitwich Canals Trust, on what has been achieved, adding that he believed that the new Worcestershire Cruising Ring being created would be one of the most popular waterway destinations in the country, representing a huge boost to local tourism.

The Barge Canal is the focal point of Vines Park in Droitwich.

Sankey Canal Setback A newly installed bridge, near to the new St Helens Chamber building in the town centre, stands just a few feet above the surface of the water making passage along the canal impossible. It was built by developers Langtree to create a walkway to the site of the proposed new St Helens rugby league stadium. At present, boats cannot use the town centre stretch of the canal because of various obstructions but the Sankey Canal Restoration Society hope restoration work will soon make the canal navigable, at which time the bridge may be raised. Local councillors have criticised the installation and the apparent lack of consultation with the local restoration society.

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RESTORATION UPDATE Exciting Plans for the Cromford Canal The Friends of Cromford Canal have launched plans to completely restore the historic Derbyshire canal in an ambitious £57m scheme which would provide a major boost to the county’s economy. The Friends wants to make its entire 17-mile length – from Langley Mill to Cromford and Pinxton – navigable by boat by 2039. The Friends are joining forces with Derbyshire County Council to win backing from the Big Lottery, which has already handed out substantial grants to other UK waterway schemes. The scheme is said to have the enthusiastic backing of Derbyshire County Council, and British Waterways believes that the scheme has the potential to secure millions, rejuvenating the area with new housing developments and marinas. The Friends hope that the canal will bring prosperity through employment during construction and after it is finished, with a massive increase of visitors to the area. The canal restoration was one of the local schemes featured at IWA’s National Festival. For more information on The Friends visit Leawood Pump is probably the Cromford Canal’s best known feature.

Ulster Canal Meeting The reopening of the Ulster Canal to join Lough Erne with Clones was discussed at a meeting in early September  attended by a number of Stormont officials. The Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA and Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA, along with Lagan Valley MP MLA, the Rt. Hon. Jeffrey Donaldson, attended a Blackwater Regional Partnership showcase on the need for the Ulster Canal to be reopened. A spokesperson for the Blackwater Regional Partnership explained that canals are being restored and regenerated all over Europe as people realise their potential. The Partnership believes the Ulster Canal restoration is an iconic project that has the potential to provide direct benefits for the local communities living along the canal corridor. This includes the economic benefits in providing

employment during construction and the resulting increased tourism and private investment opportunities. The Ulster Canal was an active waterway between 1841-1931, and is seen as a missing strategic link between waterways in the north and south of Ireland. Some 96km in length, it spans five local authority boundaries. Listed built heritage features along the canal include locks, lock-keepers cottages and aqueducts. The waterway is thought to have the potential to generate £8m to the economy, generating countless jobs during construction. The southern Ireland government is committed to reopening the canal from the Shannon to Clones. In supporting the bid, claims have been made that each boat on the water attracts 78 people to the waterway and the canal creates an opportunity for both land and water based recreation.

PHOTOS: Hugh Potter

A steam train crossing the infilled line of the Pinxton Branch at Ironville.

High Peak Junction is the setting for a shop and exhibition.

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9 0 0 2 l a v i t s e f l a n IWA Natio

Success on the Soar


ot no mud?” was the comment from many seasoned National Festival visitors at this year’s Redhill event, and indeed festival organisers could hardly believe their luck this year. Very dry weather during the build up, some heavy showers which quickly dried during the preparations on the Friday and a lovely dry weekend overall meant that the site stayed pristine, giving a great welcome to visitors. Great support from BBC Radio and television in Nottingham and Leicester, ticket competitions on Smooth Radio plus a mention on Radio 2 on Saturday morning combined with substantial local press coverage resulted in queues at the gates every morning and an estimated footfall of nearly 20,000 over the three days. National Chairman Clive Henderson used his opening speech

to launch the new campaign against waterway funding cuts, called “SOS – Save our System”. This calls upon all IWA members to engage with other waterway groups and lobby MPs, local authority figures and others to reinforce the message about proper waterway funding being vital for a sustainable future (see pages 6-7). The IWA marquee was dramatically revamped this year and proved to be one of the highlights of the show. With a “stop and browse” shop design, café, children’s play area with miniature diggers and tractors, it proved very popular with visitors. With a good selection of Wild Over Waterways (WOW) activities and a Waterway Recovery Group mini-bus and bricklaying next door, the whole area was very impressive. Over 100 new members were recruited during the weekend, so the IWA message clearly came across loud and clear. The IWA Promotions & Communications Committee ran a

quiz for visitors, based on picking out key words from the IWA banners around the site and this helped to reinforce IWA’s image and branding. The winner of the quiz will receive a free boating holiday in 2010 from Riversdale Barges in Ireland. Advance ticket purchasers also entered a quiz for a boating holiday, courtesy of UK Boat Hire, and Central Marine Services donated a Zodiac Zoom inflatable craft in return for a free raffle (donations were welcomed). The proceeds from the raffle were divided between IWA and the local Air Ambulance Association the boat being won by a local visitor. Trade exhibitors reported brisk and profitable business – a point reinforced by the number of visitors leaving in the afternoon laden with purchases. Many traders promptly signed up for Beale Park 2010 at the exhibitor’s evening on the Sunday night, allowing them to take advantage of the significant discounts being offered.

Title picture: Boaters and campers enjoy the sunshine at Redhill-on-Soar.

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General Category Rank, Hovis McDougall Penny Briscoe Cruising Category A P Herbert Robert Aickman Nationwide Anglia Stand Category Mastervolt Award Canal Boat Award Boat Category Waterways World Alfred Ritchie Cockerel Offley and Slack Prop Calor Rose Bowl Marian Munk Trophy Lionel Munk Trophy


Keepsake Prize


Best Festival Cake Best Junior Drawing

2 Bottles of wine Model Narrowboat

Rose Wyatt William Blundell

RCR Gold membership David Jarvis on Orchid 2 Longest Journey Most Enterprising journey RCR Silver membership Tony Parkes on Tom Tug Best non-continuous journey RCR Bronze membership Di & Rhys Jones on Wandering Whimbrel Best commercial stand Best non-commercial stand Best Best Best Best Best Best

Amateur fit out Working boat Cruising Club kept galley private craft commercial entry

Entertainment Galore

PHOTOS: Alan Parsons

The attractions this year included the Kangaroo Gymnasts, the Raptor Foundation with their hawks and owls, classic cars, a staged rescue of a “body” from a crashed car by the Nottingham Fire & Rescue service, live music, and line and Morris dancing. The evening entertainment included some excellent live bands, more performances by Mikron Theatre and the excellent “Beatless” tribute band on Monday night. WOW was also very busy this year with over 350 children taking part. With bricklaying from WRG, knot tying from the Guild of Knot Tyers, the Green Blue environment quiz and much more – the children were as busy as ever. One of the visitors interviewed by Radio

E.on Carriage Clock £100 cheque Muc-Off Cleaning Kit Muc-Off Cleaner E.on Umbrella Calor Barbecue E.on Carriage Clock Muc-Off Cleaner

Michael Porter with Back Cabin Antiques & Coll. Friends of Cromford Canal P Spooner, nb Wibble Mike Pinnock, nb Fazeley St Pancras Cruising Club (Andrew Phasey) Anthony Wainwright, cruiser Millenium Fallon David Pemberton, nb Hyskeir Cauldon Boat’s Fiddlestick Free

Nottingham commented on how much there was for children and what a “fantastic event” it was for families. The Festival Awards Ceremony was held on the Monday morning and the Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Cllr Geoff Findlay OBE and his wife were present, to receive the Festival’s Tiller Pin trophy from the Mayor of Rushcliffe, Cllr Peter McGowan, ready for the Beale Park 2010 Festival. Their ladies also received a surprise later when the “Tigers” parachute display team landed in the arena and presented them with a well known brand of chocolates. When the Festivals Committee announced the Redhill Marina site, in the shadow of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station chimneys, there

were considerable misgivings from various sources. The IWAF team worked very hard throughout the year to allay those fears and it was immensely satisfying therefore that the site was widely regarded as one of the best for some time. Given the current economic climate, it was also pleasing to achieve exhibitor numbers of 230 traders, 245 visiting boats and 305 camping units. These included huge RV’s, motorhomes, caravans and tents. Make sure you join us at Beale Park in 2010. This will be our Tom Rolt Centenary Event – celebrating the birth of one of our founders so we hope to make it an extra special Festival – reflecting his many talents and interests. Don’t miss it! Gillian Bolt

Festival DVDs Don’t forget to order your Festival DVD. Professionally produced DVDs of the Redhill Festival are available at only £7.50 for 45 minutes of ‘Sunny Festival Memories’. Contact Gillian Bolt at gillian. bolt@ uk to order your copy.

Festival Supporters

Thank you to all our supporters, particularly Rushcliffe Borough Council and Event Chairman, Ron Hetherington, plus Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, East Midlands Trains, UK Boat Hire, The New & Used Boat Company, Calor, Beta Marine, Voltmaster, River Canal Rescue, Redhill Marina, the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association, A S Taylor Transport, Riversdale Barge Company, Central Marine Services and British Waterways. And, of course, a very big thank you to Waterways World who are our headline sponsors.

Clockwise from top left: Busy foodstalls; and exhibitor boats; 350 children took part in WOW events; Geoff Findlay, chairman of West Berks Council, receiving the Kingfisher Tiller Pin from Peter McGowan, Mayor of Rushcliffe; Stephanie Horton of River Canal Rescue presenting the A P Herbert Trophy to David Jarvis.

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Beverley Barge Preservation Society’s barge Syntan entering the Foss.

Some of the IWA volunteers who have been manning Castle Mills Lock.


The ‘Royalty’ Class motorboat Victoria and narrowboat Kismet in Castle Mills Lock.

Ripon Boat Club chairman David Leach and his wife entering the Foss aboard their motor cruiser Shaleen With them is head lock-keeper Anthony Martin (left)..

Our Friends

in the North


t has been a busy and rewarding summer for the Yorkshire Ouse Section of IWA’s West Riding Branch. In late April local IWA members, in conjunction with the River Foss Society, began promoting the ‘secret’ River Foss as an ideal way of exploring more of York by boat, access to the little known river being from the Ouse by way of Castle Mills Lock. Since then IWA members have been manning the lock under the authority of head lock-keeper Anthony Martin, the chairman of the Yorkshire Ouse Section. The lock is able to accommodate large craft, being 112ft long by 20ft wide. There has been a good response to the promotion of the Foss, with boaters coming from throughout the system to explore the 1½ miles of navigable river. Notable summer visitors included the former commercial barge Syntan, now owned by the Beverley Barge Preservation Society, which had journeyed to York to participate in the city’s waterway festival in July. Built in 1949, Syntan was used to carry a wide variety of cargoes during her working life. A month later the former Grand Union Canal Carrying Co ‘Royalty’ class motorboat Victoria also ventured up the Foss, accompanied by the modern narrowboat Kismet. Another ‘VIP’ visitor was Ripon Boat Club Chairman David Leach who explored the river aboard his motor cruiser Shaleen.

Castle Mills Open Day

The Yorkshire Ouse Section also staged a Castle Mills Lock Open/Information Day on 26th September, once again with the support of the River Foss Society. The event was a success with a good turnout of visitors and excellent coverage on BBC Radio York, although planned boat trips along the Foss unfortunately had to be cancelled due to exceptionally low water levels in the river. Nevertheless, good publicity was generated, both for local waterways and IWA’s wider campaigns.

The Ouse News

The Ouse News is the popular and well produced Newsletter of the Yorkshire Ouse Section. Its latest edition, Autumn 2009, is notable for being the first to be financed entirely by selling advertising space and through donations. It covers all matters of local interest, reports of recent events and a diary of what’s coming up, but the last couple of issues have centred on the Section’s attempts to promote use of the River Foss.

The source of the River Foss is a spring situated beside, and flowing into Oulton Reservoir near Newburgh Prior, some four miles north of Easingwold. From there to the Blue Bridge in York, where it joins the Ouse, is a distance of 19 ½ miles. In 1806 part of the river was canalised as far as Sheriff Hutton Bridge, but today it is only navigable for 1 ½ miles above Castle Mills Lock. Headroom is restricted by Peasholme Green and Foss Bank bridges, the permissable height at normal water levels being 2.4 metres. Although there are moorings in Castle Mills Lock Basin (Ouse side of the lock), there are no overnight moorings on the Foss itself. There are only limited opportunities (subject to length) for turning beyond Rowntree Wharf. In earlier days the Foss formed a large pond within the city centre (the Kings Fish Pond), which provided fish for the city’s markets. It also created a marsh which served as part of the city’s defences. There is no city wall between Layerthorpe Postern and the Red Tower as the marsh is virtually impassable. Walkers are able to explore the river by way of the Foss Walk, which follows much of the river course from Blue Bridge to Oulston Reservoir and then on to Easingwold, a distance of 28 miles. From Oulston Reservoir there is an alternative route via Coxwold and Husthwaite, adding a further 11 miles to the distance of the walk. Another good way of exploring the river is by canoe – York Canoe Club recently celebrated its 40th birthday and always welcomes new members ( For further information on the River Foss visit

Further Information IWA (Yorkshire Ouse Section) operates Castle Mills Lock in the centre of York on a voluntary basis. There are no navigation fees. Suitably sized craft may navigate for 1 ½ miles to Huntington Road. At least two days’ notice should be given. For further details contact Tony Martin on 07588 236597, e-mail tonymartin451@yahoo. Alternatively visit

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The Dangers of Wild Swimming One of the tendencies that I have observed during this last summer is for what is called “Wild Swimming”. It has been promoted on TV as well as the press and it involves people plunging into water other than swimming pools. Harmless fun you might say and the sort of thing that human beings have been doing for centuries. Not so according to The [Doncaster] Star last July, whose front page carried the banner headline “DANGER”. Four open water sites were pictured which included the River Don and “Canals”. It seems to me that an interesting debate is opening up here, for, whilst there is undoubted pleasure in swimming in an unregulated environment, there are a number of important considerations to be taken into account before leaping into the water, often accompanied by loud shouts. The Star identified six hotspots in the Doncaster area, one of which was “the River Don at Bambury Bridge, Denaby” but two more were listed as “South Yorkshire Navigation canal at Ferry Boat Lane, Mexborough” and “South Yorkshire Navigation canal at Thorne Bridge, Thorne”. A spokesman for Doncaster Council stated that “Some of the main dangers of entering open water are that the water is extremely cold which can cause cramp, potentially making people unable to swim or walk.

Also the depth of water and what is underneath the surface of the water is unknown in most cases and could result in serious injuries”. As an organisation that represents all users of inland waterways, IWA is of course aware of such problems, but it seems to me that there is a balance to be struck between encouraging the use of nonregulated water, especially rivers, and warning of the horrendous consequences of plunging into unsuitable water. In particular, the use of navigable waters for swimming should, I believe, be strongly discouraged although I must stand corrected by a better authority than myself. Readers may be aware that the classic account of the canals in wartime, Maidens Trip by Emma Smith, has recently been re-published in unexpurgated form (a so-called Children’s Edition of the 1960s was dreadfully emasculated). Recently the magazine You published an interesting article commemorating this. It contained an interview with Emma Smith herself, now a lively 85-year-old lady living in West London. Images of Emma and the boats taken in 1944 appeared and she reminisced “In hot weather we’d jump overboard…we’d hold on to a rope and let the boat pull us along. We didn’t think about the canal being a sewer; one was less fussy back then.”

Oxford Canal Tragedy

Of course, we may be certain that nothing sells newspapers like bad news, and this summer saw all the nationals covering the sad accident at Cropredy on the Oxford Canal in which a mother was killed following and accident on a hire cruiser. As usual the simple (at least to the likes of us enthusiasts) details of the canal environment proved completely baffling, even to local journalists. According to the Banbury Guardian the incident occurred at “Varneys Lock near Old Wharf”, while the curiously-named Banbury Cake told its readers that the incident was at “Broadmore [sic] Lock”. What is even more worrying though is the fact that the police spokeswoman who

spoke to the Guardian did not seem to be aware that a boat was involved in the incident. “There were no other vehicles involved” she was reported as saying. The two papers also were unable to get the police officer’s name right, giving two different versions. Once again though sensationalism tended to get in the way of factual reporting, although the Daily Mail presented as balanced and unsensational an account as any, concluding with a statement from APCO “Holiday-hire boating is a very popular activity and each year more than half a million days are safely spent on board inland boats, which makes this tragic accident all the more unusual.”

Still Waters Run Cheap

More positively The Times carried an article about canals by Richard Morrison entitled “Still waters run cheap: why Britain’s biggest secret deserves our support”. His opening remarks are worth repeating in full: “At a time when taxpayers are expected to bail out superrich bankers and buy dogfood for the super-shameless MPs, may we have a round of applause (OK, make it ironic if you must) for some people who want to free themselves from Government’s nannying grasp, rather than begging for more dosh? I’m talking about British Waterways’ proposal to

take its 2,220 miles of canals and rivers out of state control. Instead it wants to reform itself as a kind of aquatic National trust…” Passing over why, after over sixty years of highprofile campaigning by this Association as well as others the waterways should still be regarded as “secret”, the article was well balanced and thoughtful and, amazing to relate, did not overlook the freight aspect. The Olympics site, it said, “shouldn’t be a one-off. Britain needs to use its sea lanes and inland waterways to take as many juggernauts off the roads as possible”.

Vandals on the Leicester Section Of course many of the problems relating to swimming in canals arise as a result of the summer holidays, and in August the Leicester Mercury reported a spate of vandalism on the Grand Union south of Leicester. “Vandals have smashed open locks at a canal grounding dozens of boats and affecting about 20 miles of waterway” the paper reported breathlessly, going on to say “A mile-anda-half stretch of waterway

had almost vanished after the wreckers forced open lock gates near Westminster Drive, letting the water rush downhilll”. This apparent tsunami effect was somewhat tempered by a statement a little further on from a BW spokesman who implied that in fact the damage had been done to paddle gear: “it looks like they’ve just smashed them…with a lump hammer or an axe”. Bored schoolchildren were blamed for the incident.

All seemed to have been forgotten the following week however, when the same paper announced “New waterways strategy planned”. Leicestershire County Council was due to “endorse a plan covering 23 miles of the River Soar and Grand Union Canal, between Kilby Bridge…and Loughborough Meadows. Key proposals include improving access and signage for pedestrians, cyclists and boaters, linking up wildlife sites as a continuous corridor, and

promoting visitor destinations and facilities” to which one may say, ‘Well, Whoopy-doo!” But what of protecting all this munificence once it has been put in place and the local Council Tax has duly come up with the wherewithal? I suspect that once it is in place we shall still be seeing very similar headlines about vandalism, for, like so many other well-meaning initiatives, it is strong on capital expenditure but not so much on subsequent maintenance.

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Send all your waterway cuttings to

Support for Restoration Projects

The reopening of the bottom lock of the Cromford Canal in May 2008.

David Blagrove at IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA




Boating on the Rent & Jersey

The Doncaster Free Press as well as The Star reported on plans for a 500 boat marina at Stainforth. At present the proposal is merely a plan but both papers reported that a decision, presumably of the local Planning Committee, was expected in October. A little way further south the Derby Telegraph stated in August in banner headlines that “£57m canal restoration would bring in tourists ‘by tens of thousands’”. The reference was to the Cromford Canal and the paper gave the story a two page centre spread and, at the same time, printed information about plans and progress for the “Derby & Sandiacre Canal”. Both articles were supportive, in an intelligent way, of the proposals. The importance of such projects in revitalising local businesses was not overlooked. The landlady of a pub at Whatstandwell on the Cromford Canal was quoted

as saying “I cannot think why anyone would not welcome the scheme. It would especially benefit pubs that serve food for day-trippers”. And to boaters, madam, I would add. When the canal is restored, perhaps readers will remember the landlady of the Derwent Hotel and call in! And whilst on the subject of the Cromford Canal the Yorkshire Post (yes, I know, you were all wondering when I was going to get round to mentioning that august journal) told us that the Friends of the Cromford Canal were auctioning off a rare map of the Erewash Canal (which connects the Cromford with the Trent and the outside world) on e-bay. The map “Surveyed in 1776 and drawn by F. Smith… includes a distance table and shows the route of the canal from the River Trent to Langley Bridge”. It was due to go on sale in September.

Finally some items from even further away than the Welsh borders come from Europe. Two French local papers L’Yonne Republicane and Journal de Gien carried features about our member Nicholas Hammond, an architect with the Royal Commission for Historical Monuments. To the delight of the French. Nicholas has been studying a flight of seven locks at a place called Rogny, which were originally designed and built between 1605 and 1608, some century-and-a-half before our own Bridgwater Canal. The journalists barely suppress their mirth (if my translation is not at fault) “It remains a mystery to this expert, which he is unable to explain: why were no French engineering works mentioned during the visit of the Duke of Bridgewater to the Canal du Midi?” We may well ask the same question I suppose. Presumably the Duke, like Peter Simple’s Alderman Foodbotham of Bradford Tramways and Fine Arts Committee “took no cognisance of such foreign gewgaws” And just to complete euro-British misunderstanding, a correspondent has sent me an extract from a Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. This journal’s Travel

Historic Narrowboat unearthed

From a bit further afield we have a report in the Shropshire Star that “Volunteers from across Britain who are helping to restore the Montgomery Canal … have unearthed a historic narrowboat with a tragic past.” This referred to the WRG summer camp at Crickheath on “the Mont”, where work

was temporarily suspended when the remains of the boat were found. (Or so the paper said. Can we really believe that WRG would be diverted from its task for even a second by such a discovery?) It seems that what was found were the remains of the boat “Usk”, a Shropshire Union craft, which

was involved in a tragic accident at the locks at Trench on the Newport Branch in which a boatman was decapitated when passing under a guillotine lock gate. Tony Lewery, accurately described by the paper as “Canal expert”, told the paper “After that no-one wanted to work the boat because they

section published a front page report on a family that hired a boat from Canal Cruising Co at Stone. Obviously something has become lost in transmission between England and the Netherlands. The accompanying map shows a hitherto unknown canal called the “Rent & Jersey” running between Stone and Stoke on Trent, while away to the South East of the latter city, Longton, one of the Five Towns has been renamed “Dresden”. Does this indicate a twinning or a subtle attempt at a porcelain take-over? Of five photographs, presumably supplied by an agency, four show boats and canals other than those which the article was about and the fifth, purporting to show Star Lock at Stone shows a wide lock (it is in fact “Big Lock” at Middlewich, much further north on the “Rent and Jersey”). Boating on the ‘Rent & Jersey Canal’ – alias the Trent & Mersey.

thought it was jinxed” The boat eventually was abandoned on the Montgomery Canal, and WRG subsequently rediscovered it. “So little of the Usk was left that all the volunteers can now do is photograph the remains and record the site before the dry section of the canal is restored”.

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Do you have something to say about IWA or Waterways? It’s your magazine so please write and tell us your views. We will aim to publish responses to any letters that ask questions about any aspect of IWA policy or decision-making. Please write to The Editor, Waterways, c/o IWA, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA or e-mail The Spring 2010 issue of Waterways will be published in January 2010. Editorial copy closing date is 4th January 2010.

Here we go again?


The recent announcement, by British Waterways management that they are considering transfer into the ‘Third Sector’ (Volunteer/ Charity) prompts the title of this letter. I have just stepped down after 23 years of membership of the IWA Trustee Board and its navigation committee. In that time I have seen BW grow from a simple structure into the expensive monolith it is today. Not that I have any criticism of the BW people at the operating end of the waterways, but BW administration has just grown and grown. In the end it outgrew the available money. When I became involved in IWA committee work, the redoubtable Sir Frank Price headed BW and John Heap was IWA Chairman. Sir Frank was appointed to preside over a decayed post-war network by the equally redoubtable Barbara Castle. He was a ‘City Man’ but, unlike his successors, not from the finance or business sector. His City had been London and his experience was in running the capital via the London County Council. He was a ‘down to earth’ administrator who also had superb political skills. He was also a waterway enthusiast. Most of his successors have been bankers or city executives appointed according to the whim of the government in power. By the time I became NE Chairman in 1987, Sir Frank had moved on and Sir Lesley Young, a banker, chaired BW and Ken Goodwin was our National Chairman. Between the Humber and the Mersey there were two waterway areas covering an approximately equal length of waterway. The whole of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was administered from a small cluster of offices in Wigan with a small sub-office at Bradford. The River Aire, the Aire & Calder, Calder & Hebble, the Selby Canal, the Ure Navigation and the ‘Remainder’ waterways, the Ripon Canal and the Pocklington Canal, were administered from a small office at Castleford. At that time, BW did not manage the Ouse Navigation nor Linton Lock Navigation. Stuart Sim was a young area engineer and manager at Wigan and Peter Barnes was area engineer and manager at Castleford. Under them they each had an assistant engineer stationed at a sub-office.

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

All the area engineers responded to the chief engineer at the BW Head Office at Watford. Yes there was a Head Office staff at Watford but, quite modest in numbers. No chief executive, no regional general managers or other senior posts. Then in the 1990s BW decided to reorganise into a modern corporation. That meant adding an additional tier of management. So BW regions were established, each with its regional manager, support staff and office. That in turn led to a tier to oversee the regions. That was based at the BW Head Office. Henceforth the chief engineer would not be ‘in charge’. A chief executive was appointed to head a muchexpanded Head Office staff. From that stemmed most of the senior posts we know today. Did the reorganisation lead to more workers or efficiency on the actual waterways? No! Did it lead to more expense? Yes! The latest reorganisation is being implemented as I write. We will be back to a number of areas dedicated to servicing the track with all but routine maintenance tasks managed by the Corporate Engineering Department. Despite the recent round of ‘white-collar’ job cuts the regions still exist, even though they are now called ‘areas’, with their senior managers and staff. It is doubtful that any economies made at that level will actually filter down to maintaining the track. They will just help to balance the books in the face of reduced Grant in Aid from the Government. In fact, like many organisations that we regard as important, BW is facing serious cuts in funding. None of the previous reorganisations seemed to have provided a satisfactory answer to balancing income to the spending required. And I wonder if the latest proposals to move into the Third Sector are just a ‘shot in the dark’? Whatever the answer, it is important that IWA members support the SOS campaign recently launched by IWA. In doing so we show our willingness to give BW and the Environment Agency a fighting chance to keep the waterways in the order befitting a ‘national treasure’. John Reeve, Retiring North East & Yorkshire Region Chairman

Adult, single Joint/Family

£27.00 £34.00

More on the Wilts & Berks Canal I very much enjoyed the feature on the Wilts & Berks Canal in the Autumn 2009 issue of Waterways, and was delighted to read of the efforts to restore it. However, the suggestion that it doesn’t enter Berkshire (although “it did once”) confuses the historic county with the current local government area. The English counties existed for hundreds of years before county councils were created in 1888 purely for administrative convenience. As we have seen, even since 1974 local government boundaries and council names have changed several times at the whim of politicians, but the better view surely is that the historic counties continue to retain their own identities: certainly, the people who have been brought up and live there would say so. It would be more correct to say that the canal inhabits that part of Berkshire which is (for the time being at any rate) administered by Oxfordshire County Council. By the way, if you want an example of a true misnomer, the Great Western Railway’s “Berks & Hants line” which runs beside the Kennet & Avon Canal never got into Hampshire at all! David Lyall, Cheltenham

Waterways magazine plays a vital role in communications between IWA Head Office and members. We are always striving to improve our standards of editorial content and production, and the advertising support Waterways attracts is important to both the development of the magazine and the promotion of IWA and its campaigns. When you contact any of the businesses advertising in Waterways please tell them where you saw their advertisement. IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 43

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

Regional Contacts                 East Midlands Chairman: John Pomfret. Tel: 01788 891027.                      Eastern Secretary: Nigel Long. Tel: 01733 553782.              London Deputy Chairman: Roger Squires. Tel: 020 72320987.               North East & Yorkshire Chairman: Peter Scott. Tel: 0114 2301870.                     North West Chairman: Alan Platt. Tel: 01352 720649.                       South East Chairman: Paul Roper. Tel: 0118 9813381. South West Secretary: Peter Kelly. Tel: 01752 843556.      West Midlands Chairman: Vaughan Welch. Tel: 0121 4779782.    

DIRECTORY Branch Contacts                 Avon & Wiltshire  John Gornall. Tel: 0117 962 4644.       Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Vaughan Welch. Tel: 0121 4779782. Cambridge  Stephen Foote. Tel: 01763 838936. Chelmsford Jan Thurston. Tel: 01702 529553.                 Chester & District Gillian Bolt. Tel: 0151 678 9300. Chiltern Melville Errington. Tel: 01494 678056.      East Yorkshire Mrs Chris Stones. Tel: 01482 875894.                     Gloucestershire & Herefordshire Martin Turner. Tel: 01291 650605. Guildford & Reading Paul Roper. Tel: 0118 9813381.    Hertfordshire Michael Wright. Tel: 01727 860137.                      Ipswich Charles Stride. Tel: 01728 831061.     Kent & East Sussex Roy Sutton. Tel: 01342 317569. Lee & Stort John Shacklock. Tel: 01992 465643.                       Leicestershire David Hastie. Tel: 0116 2608027.                    Lichfield Phil Sharpe. Tel: 01889 583330. Lincolnshire  Penny Carnell. Tel: 01469 530138.     Manchester Steve Connolly. Tel: 01942 679310.                       Merseyside & West Lancs Andrew Lawton. Tel: 01695 572389.                       Middlesex Robin Bishop. Tel: 020 8452 2632. Milton Keynes Peter Caswell. Tel: 07702 668924.                     North & East London  Roger Wilkinson. Tel: 0208 4589476.          North Lancashire & Cumbria Madeline Dean. Tel: 01257 231861.              Northampton  Jan Andrews. Tel: 01604 858023.                      Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire  Contact via IWA Head Office. Oxfordshire Ron Heritage. Tel: 01869 277400.                       Peterborough Nigel Long. Tel: 01733 553782.                     Shrewsbury District & North Wales  David Aylwin. Tel: 01691 830403.             Solent & Arun  Brendan Whelan. Tel: 01903 816012.                   South London Lesley Pryde. Tel: 07787 372408.                      South Wales  Jeff Roberts. Tel: 01225 872095.                       South Yorkshire & Dukeries Mavis Paul. Tel: 0114 2683927.                         Stoke on Trent   Alison Smedley. Tel: 01538 385388. Warwickshire Sue Roy. Tel: 01926 497845.                     West Country Chris Jewell. Tel: 01288 352298.                       West Riding Alastair Furniss. Tel: 0113 2539401.

44 / IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 pg 044 Directory.indd 44

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IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009 / 45

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


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

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

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WATERWAYS ADVERTISING Winter 2009 Waterways is distributed free to all members of the Association with a readership of over 20,000. Advertising in Waterways offers a precisely targeted medium for businesses in all fields connected with inland waterways, such as boating, hiring, insurance, building, publishing, catering, chandlery or brokerage. To advertise in IWA Waterways please contact Tony Preston, Advertising Manager, 151 Station Street, Burton-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 1BG. 01283 742 965 or

Index to Advertisers AB Tuckey ...................................................................... 48 ABC Leisure Group ........................................................9 Adverc Battery Management ..................................... 25 Arlen Hire Boats .......................................................... 48 Axiom Propellers .......................................................... 25 B.C Boat Management ....................................................8 Barclays Marine Finance .................................................3 Bargee Bill ....................................................................... 48 Blisworth Tunnel Narrowboats ................................ 48 Boat Shed Grand Union ............................................. 25 Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show .............................5 Botany Bay ..................................................................... 48 Braunston Marina ......................................................... 31 British Waterway ......................................................... 45 Caldwells ...........................................................................4 Canal Cruising Co ........................................................ 39 Canal Junction ............................................................... 45 Castle Narrowboats .......................................................8 Channelglaze .................................................................. 45 Church Minshull ............................................................ 42

Church Minshull Brokerage ....................................... 21 Colecraft Engineering .................................................. 45 Country Craft Narrowboats ..................................... 24 Debdale Wharf ................................................................8 Elite Furnishings ............................................................ 24 Fenland District Council ................................................4 Fox’s Boats ..................................................................... 42 JL Pinders ........................................................................ 42 Land and Water ............................................................ 24 Lee Sanitation ................................................................ 24 Limekiln Ltd ................................................................... 21 M & R Controls ............................................................ 42 Maestermyn Group .........................................................8 Mel Davis ...........................................................................4 Mercia Marina ..............................................................IBC Nottingham Boat Sales ................................................ 39 Orchard Marina ............................................................ 39 Pennine Cruisers .......................................................... 42 Powercell ........................................................................ 31 PRM Marine ......................................................................3

Reeves Boatbuilders ..................................................... 24 Riversdale Barge Holidays .......................................... 31 Rose Narrowboats ..........................................................8 Shobnall Boat Services ................................................ 45 Swanley Bridge Marina ...................................................4 Tattenhall Marina .............................................................9 Taylors of Fenny ..............................................................4 Teddesley Boat Co .........................................................4 The New & Used Boat Co ................................... OBC Tingdene Marinas ............................................................2 Towergate Mardon .........................................................9 TR Boat Handling ......................................................... 48 Ventnor Farm Marina .................................................. 45 Videoactive ..................................................................... 39 Websters Insulation ..................................................... 42 Wharf House Narrowboats ...................................... 24 Whilton Marina ........................................................... IFC Worcester Marine Windows .......................................8

48 / IWA WATERWAYS / winter 2009

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Waterways Winter 2009  

The magazine of the Inland Waterways Association

Waterways Winter 2009  

The magazine of the Inland Waterways Association