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Friday 29 June

Today's news from the web

  • Edinburgh Canal Festival launched this weekend local.stv.tv

    Once branded a 'derelict backwater', the waterway, linking from Edinburgh to Falkirk, has come a long way since its coal-transporting days of the 19th and early 20th century. ...But one group of enthusiasts, who have made it their aim to engage with canalside communities from Edinburgh Quay to Wester Hailes, have been singing its praises for the past eight years, and this Saturday, will transform the canal's Lochrin Basin into a waterside carnival. For the fourth year in a row, the Edinburgh Canal Festival will bring all the fun of the fair – on land and water-based – to celebrate the historic transport route....

  • Council steps in to save rotting Sutton Weaver swing bridge chesterchronicle.co.uk

    Cheshire West & Chester Council has agreed to pay £3.5m of the £4.5m cost of repairing the 90-year-old swing bridge over the River Weaver at Sutton Weaver. The cash will allow the re-strengthening required to enable the ageing bridge to cope in the future with its current 40-tonne vehicular weight restriction. “It has been a hard decision to make – particularly when money is so very tight – but the alternative is just not worth contemplating,” said Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for community and environment....


Thursday 28 June

Today's news from the web

  • Shock at rent demand for Neath Canal 'back gardens' thisissouthwales.co.uk

    A group of residents with property bordering the Neath Canal face being charged for going into what has effectively become part of their back gardens. They have been looking after a small stretch of land between their gardens and Neath Canal for decades. But now they have been sent letters asking them to pay an annual rent on the land. Around eight homeowners at Penydre have been asked to pay a yearly rent — between £50 and £250 — by the Neath Canal Navigation Company. Residents said they knew the land was not part of their property, but they had been the only ones maintaining it for decades, by cutting the grass and removing Japanese knotweed. Nicola and Jonathan Davies have been requested to pay £50 a year because they have constructed a paved area up to the edge of the canal. ...


Tuesday 26 June

Today's news from the web

  • Rochdale Canal remains blocked after floods waterwaynews.blogspot.co.uk

    The Rochdale Canal will remain closed for several more days following last Friday's flooding. There are also several blockages to the towpath. The most serious problem for boaters is a boat blocking the canal near Hebden Bridge. As river levels rose rapidly, a torrent of water flooded onto the canal below Lock 12. A section of towpath was ripped up by the water and a moored boat was torn from its mooring pins and carried half a mile down the canal. The boat was then swept onto an overspill weir and was left stranded across the canal, with its bow resting on the overspill weir and its stern embedded in the opposite bank. Fortunately there was no-one on board the boat at the time. British Waterways staff are assessing how the boat can be re-floated and the canal will remain closed to through navigation until this has been achieved....

  • C&O Canal boat soon to be destroyed and become history georgetowner.com

    The beloved Chesapeake & Ohio Canal boat, the Georgetown, is leaving us. The 19th-century style, mule-pulled, 90-foot cargo boat sits on blocks on the canal between 33rd and Thomas Jefferson Streets. Captivating visitors for a ride along the C&O Canal for decades, the boat has deteriorated and is deemed unsafe for passengers....

  • Queen and Duke watch river pageant google.com

    The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have watched a river pageant as they joined thousands of guests at a Diamond Jubilee garden party. The royal couple were applauded by guests and by several hundred people who gathered on the opposite banks to watch as they arrived by passenger steamer at the party in the grounds of Henley Business School near the picturesque town of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. More than 30 vessels including a Viking Boat crewed by University of Reading rowers featured in the flotilla celebrating the history of the River Thames....

  • Repairing Britain's damaged landscapes bbc.co.uk

    The Industrial Revolution, which made Britain the powerhouse of the world in the 19th Century, may have been consigned to the history books but it has left a legacy of environmental problems. Experts warn it continues to pollute drinking water, poison rivers and threaten flooding and in the process it fuels climate change and affects huge swathes of the modern landscape. The mining of lead, tin and other metals is thought to have contaminated nearly 2,000 miles of waterways. Estimated repair costs run into the hundreds of millions....


Tuesday 19 June

Google partners Canal & River Trust

The new Canal & River Trust has announced that Google will be one of its first partners when it launches on 12th July, according to a story first published in the Guardian today. Soon, Google Maps will be updated to allow users to plan journeys including bridges, locks and more than 2,000 miles of canal and river routes.

The project is being launched with the Canal and River Trust, which begins its stewardship of the nation's waterways on 12th July. 

Tony Hales, the chairman of the trust, said: "We are delighted that these exciting partners have come on board as we launch. This is a huge vote of confidence in the Canal and River Trust and recognition of the important role it will play as the guardian of one of the nation's environmental treasures."

Ed Parsons, a geospatial technologist at Google UK, said of the project: "Canal towpaths offer green routes through our towns and cities, and by working with the Canal and River Trust we're adding towpaths to Google Maps and encouraging people to discover their local waterway."

Andrew Denny  | 8.04am | add a comment


Monday 18 June

Today's news from the web

  • Bangladeshi boat race on Thames at Oxford draws hundreds oxfordtimes.co.uk

    A Bangladeshi boat race drew crowds to Donnington Bridge as rowers battled it out on the River Thames. Organiser Mohammed Mannan, from Cowley, hailed yesterday’s Falcon Rowing Club race a success. He said: “It went very well and it was very well attended. “There were about 600 or 700 people there and the weather was good as well, so everybody enjoyed it. “This was the fifth year and it is getting bigger and bigger every year. “Our community doesn’t have many opportunities to come together and have fun and it’s a chance to promote our culture.”...

  • Thames cable car opens for passengers on 28 June bbc.co.uk

    The new Thames cable car spanning the river in east London will open to the public at midday on 28 June. The Emirates Air Line will create a direct link between the 02 Arena in Greenwich and the ExCel exhibition centre and carry 2,500 people an hour. A single adult fare on the pay-as-you-go Oyster card will cost £3.20 while the cash fare will be £4.30, Transport for London (TfL) said. The service will operate through the week from 07:00 BST until 21:00...

  • Speech by John Dodwell at Lichfield & Hatherton AGM https:

    Speech given by John Dodwell, Canal & River Trust Trustee at the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s AGM on 15 June 2012 ...


Friday 15 June

IWA trailboat festival shows Cotswold Canals returning to life

The Cotswold Canal Trust's Perseverance and Wilts & Berks Canal Trust's Dragonfly were amongst some 30 boats at the IWA 2012 National Trailboat Festival, each providing boat rides for the public. The festival was part of the Stroud on Water event so that both canal enthusiasts and local families were drawn in and both were impressed with the pace of restoration with clear evidence of work recently completed or in progress.

Upstream of the festival site, at Bowbridge railway viaduct, where some of the line was lost to an A419 realignment, a fleet of earthmoving plant was parked above the excavated channel climbing up through one of the arches, the new line clearly established and apparently nearly ready for lock construction.

CCT members were still reflecting on the February visit in their 40th anniversary year by the Princess Royal to their new visitor centre. On that occasion she reopened Wallbridge Upper Lock and the distinctive new Stroud Brewery Bridge, taking the A46 over the canal near the centre of the town.

Downstream of Wallbridge Lower Lock, still to be addressed, a section of canal through to the festival site at Marling School had been dredged to full width only days before the event. This could be accessed down a steep ramp adjacent to a recent housing development.

Dudbridge Locks also need to be rebuilt but the large excavation alongside was to take a hydro turbine which can be earning over £2,000 per month while other restoration continues. It appears to have potential for use in reverse as a pump in a suggested water transfer scheme. From here the channel was fully restored for over two miles to the railway culvert west of Stonehouse and many minor obstructions had been removed just before the festival.

A floodgate at Ebley now protects the canal and local residents downstream from spates, excess water passing over a new weir and fish pass to the adjacent River Frome and the towpath being taken over a new lattice footbridge. Overtopping of the Dudbridge temporary bund on Saturday evening, following rain, led to concerns for its stability and the moored boats were moved to downstream of the Ebley floodgate although the bund held.

Another lattice footbridge gives access across the canal to Ebley residents beyond.
The staircase Ryeford Double Lock was not actually completed but was back in use for the festival, operated by CCT members who seemed to be working quite hard with the gleaming mechanisms. Adjusting them and finishing off the brickwork could follow after the crowds had gone home. At least they worked and were critical for getting craft from the steep temporary slipway at Stonehouse to the moorings at Dudbridge below the event site.

Ocean swing bridge, just short of the railway blockage below Stonehouse, was in place and in use for pedestrians but not yet swinging. To look at it, it seemed to want just the last of its wrapping paper removed.

In addition to all the canal work there was plenty of evidence of the towpath in various states of restoration in many places, even where the canal itself is still just a reedbed. All of this provides a service to local residents including those with no other interest in canals.

It was the boats decked out with even more bunting than elsewhere on this Jubilee weekend which brought home the message to many Stroud residents that their canal really is returning to life.

Stuart Fisher

Andrew Denny  | 4.29pm | add a comment


Beale Park Boat Show weathers the storms

The Beale Park Boat Show rode out the storms that lashed the Jubilee week, and produced another successful event considering the conditions. The Friday was going to be a wash-out, so the organisers sensibly decided not to open the show, as the ground was cutting up badly. Instead, with a sunny Saturday forecast, they emulated countless IWA nationals and bought in a huge lorry-load of straw. This was laid first thing Saturday morning, and when the crowds arrived, all was ready for them. Over 5000 people came through the gates, up on previous Saturdays, and the exhibitors were full of praise for the efforts of the staff.

Set in its idyllic location round a lake alongside one of the most beautiful stretches of the Thames, the show produced its usual eclectic mix of boats and boating activities, modern and old, expensive and affordable. 

Man-power, sail-power, steam-power and electric-power - every form of propulsion was there, including this year a remarkable competition for boats powered just by rechargeable electric drills. And before you look surprised, the fastest of these was running at over 8mph round the set course, powered by a V4 bank of Makita drills driving a home-designed underwater propeller. 

At the other end of the spectrum Consuta, the 52ft steam-powered umpire’s launch thundered, or more accurately swooshed its way across the lake. Built in 1898 by Sam Saunders at his nearby boatyard in Goring, Consuta was revolutionary for its construction, with four layers of 1/8th inch mahogany laid diagonally and stitched together with copper wires. The resulting monocoque hull with no frames, weighed just 3 tons, half that of similar craft, and had a top speed of 27mph, astonishing for the time.

But modern craft were also being exhibited, with a wide range of GRP day-boats and cruisers, for rivers or the sea, plus more traditional river launches and cruisers, and free river trips on one of Salter’s passenger boats.

Emrhys Barrell



The Beale Park Boat Show this year included a competition to
power boats using only Makita electric drills.



Boat show regular John Ross once again appeared with his classic decorated Mirror Dinghy Elizabeth Rose, this year decorated appropriate in a jubilee theme. 

Andrew Denny  | 3.42pm | add a comment


Sad end to "Dunkirk Little Ship" at Teddington Lock

A boat said to have been a Dunkirk Little Ship was torn apart and sank last night near Teddington Lock.  The boat, called 'Tantalus' was heading past the lock and up the weirstream, where the 'red boards' were out warning boaters not to navigate in flood conditions. 

It was reported that they needed to tie up in an emergency and got a stern rope to a pontoon, but the current swiftly spun them round and tore the whole stern off the boat, causing it to sink rapidly.

Two people and two cats were rescued. Luckily the Teddington lifeboat was based only 100 yards away and was quickly able to rescue the two people and two cats aboard. 

At time of writing it has not been confirmed that this was the Dunkirk Little Ship originally called Jovial, but later renamed Tantalus.

Andrew Denny  | 12.55pm | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • East London’s Waterway Cultural Revolution waterwaysforward.wordpress.com

    As the world turns its gaze to London’s East End this summer for the 2012 London Olympics, there’s a cultural revolution happening along its waterways. The Olympic Stadium dominates the view from the pontoon terrace of the Counter Café. This warehouse gallery and the Carlton Café are two of the creative spaces to be found along the waterways of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, London. Once empty warehouses and merchants’ yards now teem with people re-visiting waterways heritage sites put to new uses. ... At the Royal Docks, where the canals meet the Thames, a huge project to resurrect canals (londonpleasuregardens.com), will be completed in the heart of the Olympic East End....

  • Lessons learned on the 2012 Grand Union Canal Race, from the winner. debsonrunning.blogspot.co.uk

    A hundred lessons learned by Debbie Martin-Consani on this year's Grand Union Canal Race, which she won outright on her first attempt. The 146 miles from Birmingham to London - not just first woman, but first overall, in 28 hours. ...

  • Flame gets special reception at The Falkirk Wheel falkirkherald.co.uk

    Almost 4000 people flocked to The Falkirk Wheel to welcome the Olympic Torch. A special reception and entertainment was hosted at the landmark by British Waterways, and the Torch was treated to a boat trip on the Wheel itself. The occasion was filmed for national TV, with coverage broadcast on the BBC. Alasdair Smart, Manager at The Falkirk Wheel said: “What a glorious day at The Falkirk Wheel. “The sun shone, the local choir sang, the schoolchildren cheered, the fireworks added to the occasion and the Wheel performed magnificently. “It was great to see thousands of people turn out to watch the Torch sail down the Wheel on the Maryhill puffer and enjoy everything the Wheel has to offer....


Thursday 14 June

Fifty-strong chorus is highlight of Russell Newbery Rally at Alvecote

A world-first was created at Alvecote Marina on the Coventry Canal last weekend when 50 Russell Newbery-powered canal boats started their engines in unison. 

The Synchronised Start Up, with all RN engines coming, to life on cue, was a highlight of the 15th annual Russell Newbery Register rally. It proved to be a hugely popular, and is set to be an essential feature of all future RNR rallies.

The RNR weekend followed the now well-established format of a series of practical workshops, this year based at the marina’s Samuel Barlow pub. The courses included ropework, cylinder heads, scumbling, rag rugs, chalkboard noticeboard, technical discussions and musical entertainment, which this year included a barbershop choir.



Former Russell Newbery apprentice Jamie Mason takes a cylinder head workshop at the 2012 Russell Newbery Rally at Alvecote Marina. Still only in his early 20s, Jamie lives on a RN-engined boat himself, and has run the workshops for at least three years. This year two sessions were needed to accommodate demand.

Andrew Denny  | 4.44pm | add a comment


Wednesday 13 June

British Waterways lifts drought restrictions

British Waterways is lifting its drought restrictions with immediate effect. The closures, restrictions and water-saving measures were introduced in March after some areas experienced the driest year on record in 2011. In the spring BW also announced £700,000 of additional maintenance expenditure to reduce water loss (for example in bringing forward lock gate replacement to fix leaky gates early). 

However April’s record rainfall dramatically improved reservoir holdings across the South East. Continued torrential rainfall through May and now into June has seen reservoir holdings return to average for this time of year. Indeed, in many cases reservoirs have refilled completely.

BW operations manager Vince Moran said this means that – from the perspective of navigation at least – the drought is effectively over. “Restricting opening times was a necessary measure given the particularly dry winter. But combined with the additional investment, and of course the heavy rainfall, our reservoirs are now largely back to normal”.

However he urged boaters still to conserve water. “The drought has sharpened our minds. Simple steps, such as sharing locks, ensuring paddles are closed after use, and opening both gates when entering or leaving locks to avoid damaging their watertight seal – all these can help in the longer term. The more water we have in our reservoirs at the end of the season the better equipped we will be to deal with the possibility of another dry winter ahead of next year’s boating season.”

He concluded with a gentle plea to the water gods: “Mind you, while I’m very grateful for the recent rainfall it would be nice to see it ease off over the coming weeks. “I’d like to see boaters get out there and really enjoy what promises to be a fantastic summer of cruising”.

The Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal has been closed for extra maintenance during the drought. It will finally reopen on 29th June and, apart from a three-day stoppage in July, will remain open throughout July and August.  Vince Moran says that overnight locking may be considered at selected locations on the Grand Union Canal where paddles are persistently left open.

More details of June’s reservoir holdings are about to be published in BW’s monthly Reservoir Watch:  www.waterscape.com/reservoirwatch


Wormleighton Reservoir, near Fenny Compton, after the dry summer of 2010.
Hopefully this scene will not be repeated this year.

Andrew Denny  | 5.41pm | add a comment


Today's news from the web

  • £60,000 public art project to 'brighten' the Grand Union canal at Milton Keynes miltonkeynes.co.uk

    You may not know art, but you know what you like – and Great Linford Parish Council want to know about it. The council has been granted £60,000 to spend on a unique art trail along the Grand Union Canal. Residents in Downhead Park, Willen, Pennylands and Bolbeck Park are being asked what they’d like to see the money spent on. Councillor David Stabler said: “It’s a great opportunity because, although this is a very picturesque part of Milton Keynes, we have never had any public art here before.”...


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