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Tuesday 14 June

Today's news from the web

  • Bath canal court case campaigner has to move out of city thisisbath.co.uk

    A canal boat owner has had to give up his job in Bath to fall in with a legal ruling which has sent shock waves through the narrowboat community. But the law firm which fought his case is urging people living along the canal not to lose heart over confirmation that Government agency British Waterways has the right to keep moving on owners without a permanent mooring....

  • Milton Keynes MP backs Iron Trunk Aqueduct bid for restoration aboutmyarea.co.uk

    Milton Keynes MP Mark Lancaster is encouraging everyone to vote for the refurbishment of the Iron Trunk Aqueduct, which carries the Grand Union Canal across the Great Ouse just outside Old Wolverton. People will get the chance to secure £60,000 for the structure's restoration after Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council bid for a chance to take a slice of the Jubilee People's Millions, marking the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The Aqueduct will go head to head with a project in neighbouring Wellingborough on ITV's People's Millions on Monday, June 27 from 6pm, on the news show, Anglia Tonight....

Monday 13 June

Today's news from the web

  • Boris revives Pownall's Grand Contour Canal waterwaysworld.com

    Cycling to work in the rain on Friday, Boris Johnson got soaked. As he was drying off, he watched on TV as Environment minister Caroline Spelman warned we were in the middle of a drought.

    "Drought! I said bitterly," he writes in today's Daily Telegraph. "You must be joking. How can we tell people that they can't have baths, when they only have to step outside to be soaked to the skin? 
    "Then I listened a bit longer, and of course I saw her point. We have just had the driest spring for 20 years, and across the country rainfall has been down about 45 per cent. The crops are miserable and wilted; the brewers and the farmers have been so short of water that the price of food and beer is apparently set to rise even higher – exactly what people don't need in the current economic conditions. We ought to forget this June dampness and concentrate on the drought of the past few months."
    Boris Johnson goes on to ask why canals cannot be used to bring water to the Southeast from the wet north, and adds:  

    "I believe we might go even further, and retrieve J F Pownall's magnificent 1942 plan for a Grand Contour Canal, which would follow the 310 ft contour of the hills all the way from the Scottish borders to the South East."

    It's interesting to see this concept resurface. In WW2 Mr Pownall observed that there was a natural 'contour' down the spine of England, around the 300ft level, and put forward the idea that this could be used as a large (by British standards) ship canal. Pownall's Grand Contour Canal would have taken 300-ton continental-size barges from Teeside to Lancashire, Gloucester, London and Southampton, with no locks and just a boat lift at a few stopping points.

    It was pointed out that even at the time, such freight might be uncompetitive with road transport.  However, Pownall said that water transfer would be another benefit, and his draft map shows water-supply extensions, from Wales and through to Norfolk.    

    But in the 1940s Britain had more immediate, pressing problems. Waterways were seen as dying, and the energy for such massive projects was channelled into road transport. 

    It's interesting to speculate on the cost of reviving the Pownall project. It would likely come way under the cost of the new HS2 high speed rail project.  It could reduce the need for freight-carrying motorways and it could have long-term economic benefits. 

    On the other hand there's the H-word - Heritage. This ambitious scheme would destroy many of the more charming and historic aspects of our cute little peregrinating waterways, in a far more drastic way than the motorways did. 
    There's not a lot online about Pownall's Grand Contour Canal.  Wikipedia has a short outline article here, and Granny Buttons did a piece several years ago.  

    But I've been looking in the back issues of Waterways World, and there are two excellent,  detailed and interesting articles about it in the September and October 1975 issues, written and researched by Michael Baldwin, including a map specially drawn for the feature (below).  Currently these articles aren't available for download, but if there's enough interest we might be prepared to scan them.  


  • Oswestry marina plans suffer funding blow shropshirestar.com

    Plans to build a canal marina near Oswestry have suffered a set- back after a bid for vital funding was rejected. But bosses at Shropshire firm Morris Holdings, which had planned to build a marina and a five star touring caravan park on 25 acres of land at Queen’s Head, said today they were hoping to carry on with the ambitious project. The proposed development site is next to the A5. It is between Oswestry and Shrewsbury, adjoining the Montgomery Canal and Aston Nature Reserve....

  • Regent’s Canal 'a wasted freight-moving asset’ says waterway campaigner islingtontribune.com

    The Regent’s Canal, running through Islington, is a wasted asset that could be used to transport hundreds of tons of freight, according to a waterways campaigner. Gerald Heward told a packed meeting of the Friends of the Regent’s Canal that he has devised a scheme to make more use of the capital’s 150 miles of waterways, which he has submitted to London Mayor Boris Johnson....

  • Freak boat accident severs man’s foot thecomet.net

    A pensioner is in a serious condition in hospital after his foot was chopped off in a freak boating accident. The 65-year-old Stevenage man was with friends on their boat on the river Ouse near St Neots on Saturday evening when he fell overboard and caught his foot in the propeller – severing it from his leg. The emergency services were scrambled to the scene, arriving shortly before 6.45pm. The Magpas Helimedix team and ambulance paramedics used a tourniquet to stem the bleeding and dressed the wound, before the man was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for surgery....

  • Dogs get swimming access on the Itchen Navigation bbc.co.uk

    Dedicated access points for dogs have been installed on the Itchen Navigation to help prevent disturbance to wildlife along the waterway. Dogs getting in and out of the water have trampled vegetation, eroded the bank and disturbed wildlife, a wildlife trust says. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has put in two "dog dips" along a 10.5 mile section. The swimming points have been installed in Shawford and near Allbrook. The trust is asking dog owners to encourage their pets to use the access steps into the water....

  • Enchanted Tagg's Island on the River Thames telegraph.co.uk

    Ben Fogle marvels at Tagg's Island, a hidden gem near Hampton Court that remains a haven of peace close to the big city...

  • Measham Council in opposition to Ashby Canal Association over opencast coal plan burtonmail.co.uk

    A parish council is to reinforce its opposition to a controversial opencast mine scheme—despite some of its own members speaking favourably about the plan. The council voted to send Councillor Brown to speak at the meeting to outline its decision, taken in November 2009, to oppose the scheme. That came after fellow member Glenys Banton had spoken out in favour of UK Coal’s plans and the company’s offer of £2million cash towards extending the restoration of the Ashby Canal to Measham....

  • A network of canals is needed to carry water from the wet North to the dry South, writes Boris Johnson telegraph.co.uk

    A network of canals is needed to carry water from the wet North to the dry South, writes Boris Johnson. "Professor Roger Falconer, of Cardiff University will tell you that [the experts] are blinkered and wrong. He has been looking at all sorts of proposals for improving our current network of canals so as to integrate them into the water supply. He talks of linking up Welsh mountain reservoirs via the Wye and the Severn with the Thames, or of sending the water from the Severn and the Trent round to East Anglia – for many years the driest part of the country. I believe we might go even further, and retrieve J F Pownall's magnificent 1942 plan for a Grand Contour Canal, which would follow the 310 ft contour of the hills all the way from the Scottish borders to the South East....

Saturday 11 June

Today's news from the web

  • Police plea after walker struck with a hammer on Llangollen Canal shropshirestar.com

    A woman suffered head injuries after she was the victim of an unprovoked hammer attack as she walked along a canal towpath near Oswestry, police said. Officers said the victim was attacked by another woman as she walked along the towpath at Hindford on Tuesday. She had just left the Jack Mytton pub on the canal and was walking along the towpath at about 9.10pm when she passed her female attacker going in the opposite direction, police said. ...

Friday 10 June

Today's news from the web

  • Floating Cinema on Lee Navigation close to launch designweek.co.uk

    Back in December, we reported on the Floating Cinema due to take to the debris-strewn waterways of East London. Now, finally, the good ship is gearing up for her maiden voyage; having announced a brilliant programme of events coupled with some stunning design work. Created by Hackney-based architects Studio Weave and artist duo Somewhere (Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie), The Floating Cinema will host screenings, canal tours and Open Thursdays with rare films selected especially by Somewhere. The Floating Cinema is a continuation of UP Projects’ Portavilion programme of temporary pavilion commissions, this time for the waterways of east London....

  • Drought declared in East Anglia, with other parts on brink guardian.co.uk

    Parts of East Anglia are officially in a state of drought, according to the English environment department Defra and the Environment Agency. Areas in the south-west, south-east, the Midlands and Wales are experiencing near-drought conditions following the driest spring on record in south-east and central southern England. Overall, England and Wales are at their driest since 1990. Widespread hosepipe bans are unlikely, although Severn Trent Water has said it is considering "every option". Farmers face restrictions on drawing water from water courses and rivers to protect wildlife....

  • Website of the Week: www.waterscape.com - Mail Online dailymail.co.uk

    Strengths: The detail on the main canals and rivers. I'm looking at the coverage of the lovely Kennet and Avon Canal. As well as offering me an excellent, downloadable overview guide, I can pore over lots of detailed walking and cycling routes, with everything from distances to ice-cream stops spelt out, and contacts for boat hire are given. You can find out what waterways are near to you by clicking on "in your area", and then the county you live in. ...

  • Speeding cyclists on Regent’s Canal towpath: ‘Someone will end up in canal’ islingtontribune.com

    Leading figures from two of Islington’s most influential campaigning groups intervened on the side of walkers this week in the row over towpath cycling. Gillian Comins, an Angel Association committee member, and Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends of Regent’s Canal, called on British Waterways to take action before someone “ends up in the canal”. Ms Comins, 78, said she now avoids walking along the towpath close to her home at City Road Basin at commuter times for fear of being hit by a speeding cyclist....

  • Leisure hopes slipping away at Sheffield canal basin sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk

    Attempts to find a food and drink operator to help attract visitors to Victoria Quays, the old canal basin on the edge of Sheffield city centre, look like being abandoned after 15 years. Ground floors of former terminal and grain warehouses near Park Square roundabout have remained empty, despite extensive marketing as a restaurant or bar. Now council permission is likely to be granted for offices. Property agents say food and drink operators are deterred by a location too far from leisure circuits, a lack of convenient parking and traffic on Exchange Street being too much of a barrier....

  • Death wish for canal travellers townsvillebulletin.com.au

    ...Should you fall in, there's a 90 per cent chance you'll die. And falling in is a real possibility because to operate the lock and actually go anywhere, you have to walk across the top of it, on a little beam 30cm wide. And slippery. You're also provided with a big metal handle to wind the sluice gates open and shut. Sometimes they slip, too, and smash your teeth. Or your brain. You never see a workplace health and safety officer on a canal. They all fell in years ago. It could be worse, I suppose. I could be on the Titanic. Perhaps I am. Next year I'll choose a road train....

Thursday 9 June

Today's news from the web

  • All-party Parliamentary Waterways Group discuss new waterways charity financing waterways.org.uk

    The All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group met again on the 8 June at the House of Commons. Giving evidence to the inquiry on behalf of IWA, Clive Henderson briefed the assembled MPs on the history of the funding gap and built the case based on information in the public domain, that the amount of funding currently on the table amounted at best to a £15 million shortfall and possibly as much as £45 million. He then went on to detail that these figures didn’t seem to include an un-quantified dredging deficit amounting to 291kms of waterway, that might according to a freedom of information request lodged by IWA, with British Waterways, amount to anything between £23 million to £245 million....

  • Marlow gears up for Regatta bucksfreepress.co.uk

    Marlow's social showpiece occasion – the town Regatta – is almost here, with a new music bonanza kicking off the weekend's events tomorrow. The battle of the bands will bring a new dimension to the weekend of celebrations as the banks of the River Thames are braced to burst yet again with regatta revellers. The Marlow Town Regatta and Festival gives Marlovians a reason to catch up, come home and enjoy the sociable surrounds their town has to offer....

Wednesday 8 June

Today's news from the web

  • Peel begins consulation on £500m River Mersey port expansion plan liverpooldailypost.co.uk

    Peel Ports today launches a public consultation about its potentially controversial £500m plans to expand its River Mersey dock operations. The Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal owner is inviting all stakeholders from the city and the wider region to comment on the economic and environmental impact of its plans to develop new facilities. ...

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