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Wednesday 2 March

Guy Martin's Reckless attempt to be the next Fred Dibnah

The BBC is taking a confident punt tonight that it can turn racing motorcylist Guy Martin into the next unlikely prime time reality show star, with a profile to rival Fred Dibnah. 

Occupying a time slot usually reserved for soaps like East Enders, The Boat That Guy Built will chronicle Guy's attempt to restore what the press called a 'run-down' canal boat into something modern and desirable.  The twist here is that he will use old techniques that help to build the Industrial Revolution and hope to learn (and demonstrate) something about our own heritage and history. 

The boat he selected is called Reckless, and it wasn't just 'run down', but ironically an utter wreck.  About 5 years ago it was the target of an arson attack, and ended up at Streethay Wharf, where I witnessed the aftermath.  Here's the boat's traditional engine room shortly after the attack: 



A year later, in 2007, I blogged about it on Granny Buttons in the post "Recked Reckless".

Streethay's chief engineer bought the wreck and attempted to rebuild it himself as a private project.  But as with many project boats he ran out of time, and sold it on to the show's producers, who were presumably attracted by the disaster inherent in the name. 

(Actually, when built about 1999 it was originally Recklis, but a new owner was reckless enough to rename it, ignoring the superstition that renaming boats is bad luck.)    

The series will attempt to show how Britain became the world leader in building things, and appropriately Guy Martin starts off the series by find the materials to make the equipment to, er,  make a cup of tea.  (But isn't that how all canal boats get made?)

We'll follow the series with interest.   

 

Andrew Denny  | 6.16pm


Tuesday 1 March

Today's news from the web

  • Waterways minister's official statements on transfer of EA to waterways charity publications.parliament.uk

    In phase 1, the liabilities and assets of British Waterways in England and Wales will transfer into the new charity, alongside an "endowment" consisting of the property portfolio owned by British Waterways in England and Wales. In phase 2, the EA navigations would transfer to the new charity, if sufficient funding can be found in the next spending review to enable the charity to take on the liabilities associated with them, and subject to the agreement of the charity's trustees....

  • Guardians of a lost age to return to our waterways thisisbath.co.uk

    The role of the lock-keeper, for decades a prestigious and important job on the West's canals, is being re-invented for the 21st century, as the popularity of life on the waterway continues to increase. But, in keeping with 2011's age of austerity and do-it-yourself Big Society, British Waterways is looking for volunteers to man the locks on the iconic Kennet and Avon canal through the West. So while the lock-keepers of the 19th century had cottages and salaries, the new versions will be asked to volunteer for at least one day a week, with no more benefit than a uniform and the privilege of working on the canal, meeting people and lending a hand....


Monday 28 February

EA to be included in new waterways charity in 2015

The Government has confirmed the Environment Agency waterways WILL be included in the new waterways charity alongside BW canals and rivers - but not until 2015.   While BW will move into the new body next year, the EA move is to be held back to ensure sufficient funding is available to take on the liabilities associated with the EA navigations, including the expensive and vital flood and weir controls.

Commenting on the announcement, British Waterways’ Chairman, Tony Hales said: “We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to the planned ‘national trust for the waterways’ and hope the EA navigations may be able to benefit in the future.  While there will be some who are disappointed by the decision not to include all the state-owned waterways from the outset, we appreciate the Government’s caution in ensuring the considerable issues of financial sustainability for the EA navigations have first been fully addressed.”

The consultation on how the new ‘national trust of the waterways’ will be set up will begin this month.  Assuming Parliament consents, the new waterways charity is expected to be up and running by April next year.

Defra has already started the process of establishing the new charity, in January appointing an Advisory Panel on First Appointments and Transition to provide advice to Ministers, and advertising for ‘Transition Trustees’ who are due to be appointed in April.

Andrew Denny  | 12.30pm | 1 comment


Today's news from the web

  • Stourbridge canal leaking after yobs cause £30k damage stourbridgenews.co.uk

    Water is leaking from a Stourbridge canal after vandals caused £30,000 damage to a historic Stourbridge site. Police are investigating incidents of criminal damage caused to the boundary wall around the canal dry dock off Canal Street. ... “The damage is so severe that holes in the wall are starting to show, causing canal water to leak through the wall out onto the dry dock, which is now damaging the surrounding land.”...

  • Environment Agency search for tenants to take on business premises at Denver Sluice cambstimes.co.uk

    The Environment Agency is looking for a tenant to take on a 2.4-acre site at Denver Lock, on the banks of the River Great Ouse near Downham Market. The lock, well situated between Ely, Cambridgeshire, Downham Market and King’s Lynn, could be used for a variety of business including boat, canoe and cycle hire. The site already has a picnic area, parking, toilet, pump-out facility, access to a public slipway and a landing stage with water-point....

  • Fleet Air Arm Museum restores rare aircraft carrier news.bbc.co.uk

    The worlds' oldest aircraft carrier is being restored at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset. A 1918 Thorneycroft Seaplane Lighter was discovered in the River Thames by a maritime journalist who saw a rusting hull sticking out the water. Museum director Graham Mottram said he was astonished at the discovery. "I was well aware of the story of these seaplane lighters, but was astonished to find that one had survived intact," he said....

  • Rising from the depths - what ten volunteers pulled from the canal leamingtoncourier.co.uk

    Twenty shopping trolleys, eight bicycles, one motorbike, two sets of goalposts, 30ft of plastic piping and another 30ft of guttering were among the items pulled from the Grand Union Canal in one day last week. Volunteers from the Warwickshire branch of the Inland Waterways Association dragged the haul from the stretch of the canal around Europa Way on Tuesday using grappling hooks and drags....

  • ‘Nearly a sin’ boater admits to ‘careless’ driving along the Thames in Berkshire environment-agency.gov.uk

    A boater who drove a launch along the River Thames at such a speed that a water skier could have skied behind it has been ordered to pay a total of £475 by magistrates. Chris Thibault was fined £400, ordered to pay £60 costs and a £15 victim surcharge at Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court on Friday (25 February). ...


Saturday 26 February

Today's news from the web

  • Devizes canal bid to attract tourists thisiswiltshire.co.uk

    British Waterways is hoping that Lottery funding will enable it to set up a visitor attraction at Caen Hill flight of locks in Devizes. Plans have been drawn up for the recreation area, referred to as an enhanced visitor destination, on land near the existing café at the top of the flight of locks. ...


Tuesday 22 February

Today's news from the web

  • Government responds to 'Protect Our Canals' petition with 10-year plan hmg.gov.uk

    The government has finally replied to the 'Protect Our Canals' petition on the No.10 e-petition website of over a year ago, with a statement issued today. 

    The new 'charitable model' for British Waterways was announced last October, with full transition to the new charitable organisation by April 2012, with a longer term guaranteed funding model.  Today's statement confirms not only the transfer of BW's existing property portfolio, but an annual fixed grant giving support at the preannounced 2014/15 level (£39 million) through to 2022/23 - a much longer timescale than previously hinted. 

    This long-term fixed commitment is something BW has long requested, to allow it to plan more comprehensively for the future.    

    The official statement concludes: 

    "The Government will give the new charity the best start it can afford, with the transfer of the property portfolio and a long term contract.  As a first step, the Government has provided a new long term commitment to a grant allocation at the 2014/15 level (£39m) to 2022/23 inclusive (covering the next two Spending Review periods) that will enable the development of a funding plan which gives confidence to the incoming Trustees of the new charity.  The amount and length of the contract will be subject to negotiation with the Trustees, who will be appointed this April."

    ...

  • Canal towpath north of Audlem to close for a month crewechronicle.co.uk

    Ore than half a kilometre of canal towpath will be closed off near Audlem for a month for resurfacing work. Around 600m of the towpath from Bridge 80 southwards towards the village will be shut from Monday, February 28 as improvements are made to provide better access to Audlem. The stretch has become notorious for its muddiness which becomes almost impassable after heavy rainfall....

  • Volunteers clean up the River Thames in Isle of Dogs and uncover finds including a cannonball eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk

    Volunteers put on their wellies and unconcerned about the muck, got down to the edge of the River Thames in the Isle of Dogs today and yesterday to help in a river clean-up. Youngsters join in the deep clean in the River Thames near the Poplar slipway Taking advantage of the lowest tide this year to join in the deep clean organised by waterways charity Thames 21, they uncovered a cannon ball, an Indian passport, a giant tyre and a windlass, a mechanism used to winch ropes on sailing boats, thought to be over 100 years old. Around 100 volunteers over both days also got on with the task of clearing the foreshore of plastic bags which collect in the mud on the river bend and are harmful to birds and fish when they break down and are eaten. The charity says the Isle of Dogs is one of the worst affected areas for plastic bag litter in London and estimates that volunteers have removed 250,000 bags from this area since 2001....

  • Ark Royal could have new future... as a floating helipad on the Thames dailymail.co.uk

    Ark Royal could be saved from the scrapheap under plans to turn it into a heliport. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier, axed in last October’s defence cuts and due to be decommissioned next month, could be based on the Thames by May 2012. The 693ft vessel would be manned by around 150 former servicemen, for whom it would be both a home and a job, and would cater for City workers, police helicopters and London’s air ambulance. ...


Monday 21 February

Today's news from the web

  • New Moorings management plan for the River Lee waterscape.com

    British Waterways is calling upon local authorities, residents, boaters and all who use the River Lee and River Stort Navigations and the Hertford Union Canal to comment on its proposals to introduce a new moorings management plan for the area. The plan has been drafted in response to the increased number of boats mooring in the area – an increase of nearly 40 per cent over the past four years....

  • Melksham, Chippenham and Calne dig deep for Wiltshire canal trust wiltshiretimes.co.uk

    The Big Society idea may be causing controversy but the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust had no problems attracting volunteers last year. Volunteers provided the equivalent of almost £81,500 of free labour in 2010, a new record and up from nearly £74,000 in 2009. ...


Sunday 20 February

Today's news from the web

  • Waterways offer winter wonderland walks mirror.co.uk

    Stretch your legs and take in some classic beauty this half term with a healthy walk along your local canal or river. A good stroll could be just the thing to leave the whole family feeling energised and invigorated – with the added bonus that there’s probably a welcoming pub somewhere on the route. Waterscape.com, British Waterways’s leisure website, has published a selection of winter walks that can each be done in two hours or less so you won’t spend too long out if it’s chilly, and they all feature a pub so you can warm up and have some well-deserved refreshments. ...


Friday 18 February

Today's news from the web

  • Boaters prosecuted for keeping unregistered crafts on Cambridgeshire waterways cambstimes.co.uk

    Boaters from across the region have been prosecuted for keeping their crafts on waterways without registering them with the Environment Agency. The boaters received fines ranging from £175 to £350 and were each ordered to pay court costs of £115. Two boat owners were caught on the River Nene without a valid registration certificate. William Hamill, of Eskdale Avenue, Corby, Northamptonshire, and Ken Lewis, of High Street, Thurlby, Bourne, were both fined £175. Another three boaters were caught on the River Great Ouse and had their cases heard at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court on 26 January 2011....

  • Bingley landmarks could be used in film to promote tourism thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

    The rich history of the famous Five Rise and Three Rise locks in Bingley could soon be chronicled in an animated film for use in schools. Heritage consultant Marion Blockley and British Waterways are spearheading a study of the Grade I and II listed structures on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Bingley, to promote them as an attraction for tourists and historians. As part of the project, Mrs Blockley has been in discussions with the National Media Museum over plans to create the animation to show school pupils what life on the canal was like in the past....


Wednesday 16 February

Today's news from the web

  • National Waterways Museum receives £10,000 donation from Cadbury ellesmereportpioneer.co.uk

    Cadbury has given a £10,000 donation to Ellesmere Port’s National Waterways Museum toward restoring canal narrowboat Mendip. Once the work is finished the boat will make the trip through the canal network back to the Bournville headquarters of the chocolate maker....


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