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Thursday 5 May

Sharpness docks overnight manning ends after 50 years

British Waterway has ended its round-the-clock manning of Sharpness Port, over 50 years after it was introduced in the wake of the Severn Bridge disaster of 1960. In future, staff will not be on duty between 9pm and 9am unless a ship passage is booked.  

The round-the-clock manning was introduced after five men died when the fuel barges Arkendale H and Wastdale H became lost in fog and collided with the old Severn Railway Bridge near midnight on 25th October 1960. 

Waterway Manager Nick Worthington says the 24-hr coverage has not been needed for several years, after the decline in carrying and the advances in technology. He expects it to make a 'significant saving' in staffing costs.

Andrew Denny  | 9.49am

Today's news from the web

  • Fight is back on to preserve London’s oldest canal eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk

    Conservationists are back in the fight to preserve London’s oldest canal—after losing the opening skirmish in the High Court. Public consultations are under way for a conservation area around the Limehouse Cut that links the River Lea to East London’s Limehouse Basin by the Thames. An earlier conservation scheme along the canal aimed at protecting building of historic interest on the quayside from developers was overturned in February. ...

Wednesday 4 May

Student dies while trying to swim Thames at Kingston

A student died when trying to swim the Thames at Kingston on 28th April. Niall Pawsey, aged 20, disappeared after jumping into the river near the Kingston Mill pub. London Coastguard said he was believed to have been drunk and unclothed when he went into the river.  His body was recovered three days later. Fellow students later organised a 'memorial' for him at the bar on Kingston University Campus. 

Boat operator Richard Turk, owner of Turks Launches nearby, said: “People think because of the weather it is nice and warm but it is freezing. Hypothermia probably got him. It has happened quite a bit and it is mainly students after a few drinks.” 

Andrew Denny  | 11.00am

Today's news from the web

  • Plans for hydropower on the River Thames visitthames.co.uk

    The search is on for community groups and/or developers to construct and operate sustainable hydropower schemes on River Thames weirs in the Windsor and Maidenhead area. The Environment Agency has joined forces with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) to promote the opportunity to develop small scale hydropower schemes at Marlow, Boveney and Boulters weirs....

Monday 2 May

Today's news from the web

  • Revived part of Wilts and Berks Canal officially opened bbc.co.uk

    A restored section of the Wilts and Berks Canal, which fell into disrepair nearly a century ago, has been officially reopened. Volunteers have spent the past few years clearing a two-mile stretch of the waterway from Pewsham to Reybridge. Guests at the ceremony boarded a boat to become the first to travel on the canal since it was abandoned in 1914....

Monday 25 April

Today's news from the web

  • New Stroud canal bridge due to open in June bbc.co.uk

    The £1.8m canal bridge in Stroud is expected to open by mid-June, engineers have said.The new A46 Merrywalks Bridge, which will allow boats to pass underneath, was due to be finished by November....

  • Rescue services called out en masse to canal over men 'messing about' in dinghy menmedia.co.uk

    A helicopter, inshore rescue boat and a fire crew were called to three men paddling a dinghy along a canal. The trio had been floating along the Manchester Ship Canal, at Trafford Park, on Sunday when a passer-by mistakenly thought they were in trouble. Following a call to emergency services the fire service's water incident unit, a police helicopter and firefighters from Stretford station were sent to the scene. But they arrived to see the three men, all in their 20s, reach Barton Swing Bridge in Salford, then gently glide to the shore and get out....

  • Youngsters condemned for 30ft plunge into Liverpool’s Stanley Dock liverpoolecho.co.uk

    Youngsters were condemned for risking their lives after diving headfirst from a 30ft high wall into Liverpool docks. The youths, accompanied by some adults, were leaping from a wall at Stanley Dock, off Great Howard Street, into the 40ft deep Stanley Dock. ...

  • Complicated auction of Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath property times-news.com

    The property owned by Brian and Tammie Grosh at 1 Elizabeth St. along the C&O Canal Towpath is being sold at an absolute auction by the Century Auction Group on May 18 at noon. ...  “The property is perfectly desirable and very unique. It is hard to set a price on this property. So, we are going to allow the public to set the price,” said Tom Gimer, auction associate. “There is truly no comparable property in the area,” says the Century Auction Group’s website.    

    [Now, read on...] 

Thursday 21 April

Today's news from the web

  • BW gets free rebrand waterscape.com

    British Waterways reports that the international design agency Pentagram has agreed to help redesign its corporate identity for free, as it moves to become a charity. 

    The pro bono redesign is being led by Pentagram partner John Rushworth, who was also responsible for designing the existing corporate identity, over 20 years ago. This identity is all over the waterways, from the striking and famous 'bridge and bulrush' logo to the numerous signs that tell users what to do at every mooring and sanitary station and the documentation and company reports.   

    This time round Pentagram will offer free 'design consultancy' on the new waterways charity’s name, logo and imagery, when that is decided later this year. Simon Salem, BW's marketing director, is clearly pleased, since a world-class design agency’s work is normally very expensive. 

    “The government’s public consultation document ‘A New Era For The Waterways’ recognised that ‘keeping the British Waterways name’ is not an option,” he said.

    “The look and feel of the new organisation will be an integral part of its future success. It’s vital we get it right. Having [Pentagram] offer its services free of charge is a huge endorsement and a massive step forward for the charity.”  

    John Rushworth said: “We are pleased to be able to offer the new charity consultancy and design services which we hope will help it get off to the best possible start.”   

    Nevertheless, creating the new identity is only the start. Once the design is done, rebranding or replacing thousands of signs – perhaps with simple vinyl stickers - will be hugely labour intensive, and BW clearly hopes volunteers can help.   

    Jo Gilbertson, of the IWA said:“People need to feel part of the new charity and the best way to do that is by voluntarily taking part. One suggestion has been for volunteers, boaters and BW staff to be given easy-to-use kits to enable them to help rebrand signs across the network.”

    Simon Salem added:“I am excited about help from volunteers but we still hope to cover other costs, such as the kits.I have had preliminary discussions with a number of companies [about] securing funding and other services towards the rebrand.”

    The name of the new waterways charity is the subject of a three-month public consultation which runs until the end of June. Final decisions about the new charity’s name and brand will be made this summer following the appointment of the organisation’s first trustees. 

    The BW 'bridge and bulrush' logo has been a memorable success, seizing on two of the waterways' most enduring images - the permanent 18th and 19th century bridges of the early industrial revolution, and the seasonally changing natural world. 


  • British Waterways' 2010 National Wildlife Survey waterscape.com

    We need your help. Between now and September, we'd like you to tell us about the wildlife you've seen on your local canal, river, dock or reservoir. We want to know how many creatures you have seen and where you have seen them. Each sighting recorded helps British Waterways' ecologists to monitor, protect and preserve the amazing biodiversity found on our waterways....

  • China's Grand Canal applies for World Heritage status news.xinhuanet.com

    China's Grand Canal is the world's oldest and longest man-made canal and it's still in use. Now, China has officially launched a campaign to inscribe the canal on the United Nation's World Heritage List. According to information from the Grand Canal Protection and World Heritage Application Conference recently held in Yangzhou of East China's Jiangsu Province, a total of 35 cities in eight provinces along the Grand Canal of China will submit a joint application. China started applying for World Heritage status for the canal in 2009. The conference in Yangzhou marked the successful completion of the groundwork for the final application....

  • Bats rely on canals says BW telegraph.co.uk

    British Waterways is highlighting the plight of the country's bats, which have seen numbers decline dramatically since the 1950s. According to ecologists at the organisation, Britain's wildlife is facing an increasingly fragmented landscape, with habitats such as woodlands, meadows, old parkland and reservoirs isolated between intensive agriculture and development. Features such as canals and hedgerows act as "green corridors" between wildlife-rich areas. And British Waterways said canals were particularly valuable to Britain's 17 species of bats because they provided a dark, insect-rich habitat at night and structures such as bridges and aqueducts where the flying mammals can roost....

  • Leeds & Liverpool canal boaters told to go in pairs bbc.co.uk

    British Waterways is urging boaters on the Leeds-Liverpool canal to go through locks two at a time. The organisation is putting preventative measures in place to conserve water after a recent dry spell. ... It wants to avoid a repeat of last year, when it had to close part of the canal to replenish reservoirs. A British Waterways spokesperson said it was "optimistic" that it would not have to close the canal this year....

Wednesday 20 April

Today's news from the web

  • Waterways Renaissance Awards shortlist announced thewaterwaystrust.org.uk

    Nineteen outstanding projects along canals and rivers in the UK have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award. Inspirational education programmes, innovative engineering and construction schemes and pioneering environmental initiatives are all seeking to win a coveted Waterways Renaissance Award. The Waterways Renaissance Awards, run by The Waterways Trust, recognise exceptional projects that have turned inland waterways into desirable places for living, learning and leisure....

Tuesday 19 April

BW Olympics moorings site goes live

The official British Waterways Olympics moorings reservations website has now gone live.  

An initial tranche of moorings during the Games are now available for booking immediately, including the Hertford Union Cut near the Olympic Park, in Docklands, on the Lee north of the Park, and on the Regent's Canal through North London to Paddington Basin.  

One surprise is that bookings are only being taken for boats up to 18 metres (59ft) in length, so it appears that most traditional working boats will be barred. 

Another is the eyebrow-raising prices. A standard 59ft narrowboat will pay as much as £315 per week during Olympic fortnight for the plum spots on the Hertford Union Cut and Victoria Park (within walking distance of the stadium), £420 per week in Camden, and no less than £560 per week for a mooring in the distant (but arguably more convenient) Paddington Basin. Broadbeam boats will be charged double.

Although these are the prices for single narrowbeam boats they are not single moorings – in many cases you will be required to ‘breast up’ alongside other boats. 

As expected, the Bow Back Rivers will be closed completely to navigation during the Games themselves, as will the Lee Navigation from the A11 flyover in the south to to the A12 East Cross Route at Hackney Wick, just north of the Olympic Park. Furthermore, cruising will be restricted during the period, and you will not be permitted to enter these mooring areas unless you already have a reservation. No details have been released of any extra facilities you will get for the money.

Rather more affordable than central London will be the Lee Navigation moorings at Hackney Marshes, on the northern edge of the Park. Here, the price for a 59ft narrowboat, per week, on a double mooring, will be £70. This is actually quite competitive with permanent marina moorings in the area, albeit without the facilities of a permanent berth. 

The booking fee is payable immediately, and there are eight pages of terms and conditions you may want to read before you book. In particular, there are severe restrictions on your ability to cruise during the moorings period, although these may be open to change and interpretation.  

BW says more moorings may be released later, and this initial batch is to ensure sports enthusiasts have a place reserved before the booking period for the Games themselves ends on 26th April. 

Below: Victoria Park visitor moorings – currently free for 14 days, but up to £315 per week during the Olympic Games. 

Andrew Denny  | 12.42pm

Bath’s ‘leaning tower’ restored

At the western end of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath, British Waterways has received £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the unique chimney of the former Bath Locks pumping station.   

Not only is the chimney a ‘listed’ building, it’s also a building with a ‘list’ - that is, it leans. The restoration is keeping this quaint list - which is not thought affect the structure’s stability, and is known to have been present for over a century – as part of a wider project to promote the Bath locks as an open air ‘museum’.

The works are intended to demonstrate the cultural and social impact of the canal on Bath, and follows a project to restore two of the listed iron footbridges on the historic lock flight. 

David Viner, British Waterways’ heritage adviser, said: “The pump house chimney is a wonderful piece of architecture, and designed in the classical style that is so well known in Bath. Other chimneys along the length of the canal, such as Crofton, did not receive such artistic attention during their construction, demonstrating an early indication that the residents of Bath were keen to retain the special elegance of their city.   

 “The chimney actually had a pretty short working life. The pumping system that it was a part of only lasted about 20 years, thanks to the millers on the River Avon legally challenging the canal company over the removal of water from the river.” 

Andrew Denny  | 1.57am

Today's news from the web

  • Thames Anglers Retrieve a Sofa from the River rivertac.org

    Sunday 18th April saw our volunteers out again, this time following up on a report that a sofa had been dumped into the marginal Lower Thames It is not clear how this may have been dumped but seems possible that it was from a passing boat, from the bankside it was situated too far out....

  • A bridge too far for Driffield yorkshirepost.co.uk

    Landlocked Driffield does not rate as a maritime centre. Yet at one time it was a key part of a trans-ocean network of waterways. Cargoes of up to 70 tonnes were once carried to and from this grain capital of East Yorkshire. David Hamilton, chair of Driffield Trust Navigation Commission, thinks the canal can bring back the good times to this market town. But what stands in the way may prove to be a bridge too far – or in this case, too low. ... But there’s a snag. In 1967, East Riding County Council replaced the bridge at Wansford with a fixed rather than a swing-bridge. There was very little waterway traffic at the time and little prospect of any significant growth. This bridge left little headroom for getting any kind of vessel through. It’s only two miles from Riverhead, but seems to be a bridge too far for enthusiasts to overcome. ... David and his colleagues will promote the canal with a Dinghy Cruise Day on May Bank Holiday when small craft will be sailed from Hempholme, on the River Hull, to Riverhead. ...

  • Llangollen Canal towpath upgrade leaderlive.co.uk

    An upgraded length of towpath on the Llangollen Canal has improved access on the canal and also transformed the Shropshire gateway into the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site. The project has upgraded 800 metres of towpath along the Llangollen Canal to an all-weather surface. It was the product of a workshop undertaken by the ‘Aqueducks’ - the official Friends of the World Heritage Site which supports the legacy of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct & Canal Community Project. ...

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