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Wednesday 13 April

Today's news from the web

  • Spelman pledges £110m to revive unhealthy waterways bbc.co.uk

    Otters and salmon will benefit from a £110m boost in spending on England's lakes, rivers and streams, the government has said. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said the funds would revive "lifeless" bodies of water, allowing wildlife to flourish by tackling invasive weeds....

Tuesday 12 April

Waterscape launches 'Reservoir Watch'

British Waterways has launched a 'Reservoir Watch' on its website. The organisation's Hydrology department, which keeps an eye on water levels, is making the information publicly available so that boaters can be better aware of when they need to share locks, husband water supplies and generally ensure that the winter's rain can be eked out through the hot summer. 

The relevant page is on http://www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/features/british-waterways-reservoir-watch.  It will include a brief summary of rainfall and weather over the previous month, comparing it to long-term averages, and canal reservoir levels around the country, including an at-a-glance chart from the Met Office, the UK's national weather forecasting service. Also included is a monthly PDF showing current levels for those reservoirs designed to feed the canals.   

It's a welcome move that is long overdue.  In the past, getting the information out of BW month by month was a complicated process for boaters and anglers, and often a few days of rain might give a mistaken impression the reservoirs were full. 

Now, by bookmarking the relevant page, ordinary canal users can easily be aware in advance when and if they need to guard against wasting water.  

The group hydrology manager at British Waterways, Adam Comerford, said that they monitor each reservoir weekly throughout the year, helping them to understand how much water has gone into or out of a reservoir. 

"We use the reservoir holding information to manage our water resources, deciding which reservoir(s) to use to feed the canal at different periods in the boating season and whether to use alternative resources, such as pumps, to supplement the reservoir water.

“Our records show reservoir levels for every week going back over many years, so we can compare the current situation against historical years, including drought periods.”

Below: Outfall of Wormleighton Reservoir, Oxford Canal summit, August 2010.

Andrew Denny  | 10.47am

Today's news from the web

  • Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation half-marathon event cancelled maldonandburnhamstandard.co.uk

    A half-marathon event scheduled for next month has been cancelled. The Chelmer Canal Trust had planned to stage the event on the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation towpath on May 8. However, due to the lack of volunteer marshals, it has had to be shelved. Neil Frost, Chelmer Canal Trust trustee, said: "We very much regret having to take the decision to cancel the event. A lot of hard work had been put into the planning by several people, two of them not even connected with the trust....

Monday 11 April

Free smoke alarm for Harecastle Tunnel boaters

Boats going through Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal are being offered free smoke alarms if they do not already have them fitted. The offer comes from British Waterways after a safety review in conjunction with the Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service.   

Loan fire extinguishers are also now available to boaters for the duration of the tunnel passage, although these must be returned upon exit. 

Andrew Denny  | 2.58pm

Friday 8 April

Today's news from the web

  • Long Awaited Canal To Open Paris Freight To The Sea handyshippingguide.com

    Battle lines are being drawn up by those in the rail freight sector after this week’s announcement that the much mooted plan for a canal linking Paris to the North Sea ports via the Belgian system of waterways is to proceed. With an estimated cost of €4.5 billion the canal is being touted as a major carbon saver aiming to take half a million trucks off the roads of France, in truth the 4,000 tonne barges are likely to affect the track borne logistics of the country to a far greater degree....

  • Friends ignore advice from 999 operator to save the life of man drowning in icy cold canal dailymail.co.uk

    Two friends who were walking home along a canal after a night out saved the life of a drowning man despite orders by ambulance officers not to go into the freezing water. Joshn Felvus, 20, and Liam Jempson, 19, spotted the man struggling in the waterway close to Bristol city centre. They dialled 999 and were told by the operator not to go into the freezing 8ft deep water because it would breach their safety guidelines....

Thursday 7 April

Forth & Clyde and Union Canals get cruiseway status

The Scottish Government has officially upgraded the Forth & Clyde and Union canals to 'cruiseways'. The move, welcomed by BW Scotland, follows the similar reclassification by Defra recently of the Kennet & Avon Canal.  And like the change in the latter’s status, it is more of an open public commitment to maintain the canal fully as it is now rather than a plan to increase its maintenance. 

After the Forth & Clyde and Union canals were reopened through the £83.5m Lottery funded Millennium Link Project a decade ago, they have effectively been maintained as cruising waterways anyway, and BW claim they have seen an increasing number of boaters each year. However, their official status was still 'remainder waterways', and BW Scotland weren't officially obliged to maintain them at the current level.  That's now changed, and the new classification gives them important statutory protections that should prevent them slipping back into dereliction. 

Last September the tenth anniversary of the reopening of the Union Canal was celebrated with a 60-strong flotilla cruising from Glasgow to Edinburgh; an estimated 15,000 people came to watch. This coming September will see an even larger event celebrating a decade since the Forth & Clyde reopened, and next year there are plans to celebrate the opening of the Falkirk Wheel – now one of Scotland’s biggest tourist attractions - and the completion of the full Millennium Link .

"After 40 years of strenuously campaigning for the reopening of the Lowland canals, the reclassification is a great foundation on which to build and protect these wonderful national assets for future generations to enjoy", said Ronnie Rusack MBE, Chairman of Seagull Trust Cruises and one of Scotland’s longest-serving waterways restoration figures. 

The 10th Anniversary flotilla at Linlithgow Basin for the opening of the Union Canal

Andrew Denny  | 12.24pm

Today's news from the web

  • Dudley Tunnel gets Red Wheel award expressandstar.com

    Dudley Canal Tunnel has been awarded a Red Wheel plaque by the Transport Trust in recognition of its status as a “unique complex of tunnels developed since 1778 for limestone and coal mining, for through navigation and increasingly for tourism.” The Transport Trust aims to raise awareness and appreciation of Britain’s transport heritage. Its website carries full details of more than 800 important locations throughout the country and across all modes of transport – from Roman roads to seaplane bases. ...

  • Foxton Locks awarded Red Wheel plaque lutterworthmail.co.uk

    Foxton Locks are celebrating after receiving a top award from the Transport Trust. The popular tourist attraction was given a Red Wheel plaque from the trust in recognition of the historical interest of the well known landmark. Richard Everard, vice lord leieutenant for Leicestershire presented the award to Foxton Locks outside the waterway’s museum on Monday. The Red Wheel scheme is a programme, much like English Heritage’s Blue Plaques, that commemorates transport sites of historical interest. ...

  • Thousand-strong Royal River Pageant planned for Diamond Jubilee thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org

    What is expected to be the largest inland waterways spectacle ever seen in Britain is being organised on the Thames on 3rd June next year, as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.   

    To be called ‘The Royal River Pageant’, it will be a huge flotilla involving one thousand boats and stretching from Putney to Tower Bridge and beyond. Almost all types of river and canal craft – rowed and motorised, historic and modern, British and Commonwealth – will be invited to join.  

    The organisers say they expect up to a million people will line the banks of the Thames to witness the event, in what is likely to be the last major waterways event before the Olympic Games. 

    All boats wishing to take part will need to be registered in advance on the official Royal River Pageant website, www.thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org.


Wednesday 6 April

Fradley Junction BW shop closing

The official British Waterways information centre and gift shop at Fradley Junction is closing at the end of April ‘for economic reasons’.   BW said it planned to lease out the premises, but would not comment further. 

Andrew Denny  | 3.31pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Caen Hill lock gates turned into a bullring at Glastonbury bbc.co.uk

    Old lock gates removed from the Kennet & Avon Canal are being turned into a bullring for this year's Glastonbury. Gates from the Caen Hill Flight of Locks near Devizes are being used to create a mock "Campo Pequeno". The "Portuguese Bullring" will be created using 70 of the 12 ft (3.6m) high gates "set up on end" in a circle. The new 200-seat arena will host mock bullfights with an artificial bull, as well as offer an alternative temporary venue at the festival....

  • Brand new French Sein-Nord 'mega-canal' gets go-ahead independent.co.uk

    France yesterday launched the most ambitious engineering project in Western Europe since the Channel tunnel, a scheme to link Paris to the North Sea by a canal as wide as a football pitch. The €4.5bn (£3.9bn) project, first mooted 20 years ago, will divert up to 500,000 lorries a year from the roads of northern France. When completed in 2020, it will allow "mega-barges" of 4,000 tonnes to sail from the mouth of the Seine, via the Paris suburbs, to the Netherlands and Germany. 

  • Hungry fish are given their marching orders gazetteandherald.co.uk

    Half a tonne of fish have been removed from the Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal. The fish, which included large carp and pike, were netted and relocated along the canal while a proportion were taken to Toddbrook Reservoir in the Peak District. The fish were removed because British Waterways was concerned at the amount of younger fish and wildlife being eaten....

  • Chairs appointed to trial Local Waterway Partnerships waterscape.com

    Chairmen have been appointed to the two new trial Local Waterway Partnerships which will advise and influence the management of canals and rivers in the West Midlands and North West.  These trial Partnerships, alongside a third trial already underway on the Kennet & Avon Canal, will work with local waterway managers until the new waterways charity becomes fully operational in 2012. 

    Peter Mathews CMG has been appointed to be the chair of the trial West Midlands Partnership. He is already chairman of the Black Country Consortium, which works to coordinate regeneration in the Black Country area of the West Midlands, and is chairman and managing director of Black Country Metals. 

    Professor Steven Broomhead, professor of entrepreneurial education at Liverpool Hope University, is to be the chairman of the trial North West Partnership. He previously spent eight years as chief executive at Northwest Regional Development Agency, prior to which he was chief executive at Warrington Borough Council. 

Tuesday 5 April

Today's news from the web

  • MK's Record Canal Clean-up waterways.org.uk

    Over 12 tons of rubbish was recovered from the 10 miles of the Grand Union Canal running through Milton Keynes over the weekend 1st -3rd April by the Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA MK Branch), working in partnership with British Waterways (BW) and the Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd (WSC). This biggest haul ever from the twice-yearly cleanups organised by the IWA MK Branch included two telescopic sighted rifles, a blown safe, 22 shopping trolleys, 38 bicycles, a sunken metal dinghy, 9 mattresses, wheels, tyres, scaffold poles, TVs, fridges , a motor cycle and so on - you name it we found it in the canal by grappling from the back of the towed big collecting workboat and the bank. Then there were some 30 black sacks we filled from rubbish collected from the towpath and adjacent hedgerow between Fenny Stratford and Wolverton. ...

Sunday 3 April

Today's news from the web

  • NABO 2011 Cost of Boating Survey nabo.org.uk

    The National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) has launched its annual Cost Of Boating Survey. NABO says the survey is open to all boat owners, not just NABO members, and should only take 10 minutes to complete. It will them with valuable information when speaking on behalf of boaters with British Waterways, the Environment Agency, government departments and other agencies. ...

Saturday 2 April

Today's news from the web

  • Jonathan Raban on England's Canals online.wsj.com

    Acclaimed writer and cultural observer Jonathan Raban tackles the British inland waterways: Whenever I fall to daydreaming about the English landscape, I see it from the stern of a canal boat, tiller in hand, the diesel engine churring underfoot. At this speed (about 3.5 miles per hour) it seems to be the land that moves: hills climb, valleys deepen, fields swivel around you as the canal hugs a contour. That unruly hedge, where the hawthorn is white with blossom alongside the hazel, ash, alder, oak and holly, was likely planted by Saxons in the 9th century—you can tell by the number of species in it. Those long parallel bars of shadow, cast by the early evening sun on a close-nibbled sheep pasture, are relics of "ridge and furrow" medieval farming....

Thursday 31 March

Today's news from the web

Monday 28 March

Today's news from the web

  • Girl wins World Pooh Sticks Championships bbc.co.uk

    A nine-year-old girl from Oxfordshire has won the individual prize in the World Pooh Sticks Championships. Saffron Sollitt, from Wallingford, beat 500 other competitors from around the globe at Days Lock in Little Wittenham, near Abingdon, on the River Thames....

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