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Tuesday 21 May

New stamp features the Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is one of ten British engineering achievements of the last half-century celebrated in a new series of Royal Mail postage stamps issued on 2nd May.

The series was prompted by the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Awards, which celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.

The Falkirk Wheel didn't win the MacRobert Award, it wasn't even nominated when it was brought into service in 2002. But in the years since it has become an unmistakable design and engineering classic. It's uniquely British, created by a team that included Scottish designers, British Waterways engineers and the Butterley Engineering company, whose rise to prominence in the Victorian era relied in large part on the Cromford Canal.

Other British engineering achievements celebrated include the Raspberry Pi computer, the catalytic converter, MRI scanning, synthetic bone-graft material, and a four-stamp set of the Harrier jump-jet.

The Falkirk Wheel, one of ten British achievements in engineering to feature on a new series of 1st class stamps from Royal Mail.

Andrew Denny  | 2.45pm | add a comment

Obituary: Cliff Penny

Waterways visionary and driving force behind the restoration of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal.

I well remember, more than 50 years ago, watching a farmer ploughing out the old profile of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal as I trudged through the countryside on a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition.

Some 30 years later I was to meet the man who, with equal audacity and vision, was hell-bent on reversing this sacrilege. This was Cliff Penny, whose skills and tenacity in the field of waterway restoration were already recognised.

Cliff was someone whose vision was underpinned by a whole raft of skills which translated particularly well into canal restoration. As a chartered civil engineer and chartered town planner he held senior positions in the water industry, before going on to found Penny Consulting with his son David.

It is hard to think of Cliff in isolation, as in reality he was part of an extremely effective team that included his wife Joan and David. Not only did they boat widely together, but as a consultancy they brought a variety of skills to bear in promoting and protecting the canal in many different ways.

He was a master of planning gain, winning assets for the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust that will go on generating income. At the Hereford Bypass enquiry, he established the need for a new bridge crossing the canal… 32 miles away from the nearest navigable section. He was to repeat this success when the nearby Roman Road fell due for an upgrade.

Penny Consulting became a UK leader for planning and environmental law in the water industry, as well as winning major enquiries at Manchester Airport and Cardiff International Rail Freight Terminal. On the strength of this, Cliff was asked to set up the planning system for the United Arab Emirates, but he declined as he regarded it as being ‘too hot’.

As the last chair of the former Canal Society and the first chairman of HGCT, together with serving on the council of management, Cliff gave almost 30 years of dedicated service during which he was also long-standing editor of The Wharfinger.

He always held the hard work of the trust volunteers in high esteem and never overlooked thanking anyone for their contribution to ‘the cause’. It was in this area that I felt his overriding sincerity was most apparent.

Jonathan Mosse 


Cliff Penny

Cliff Penny completed his steam engine driver's course in 2013, aged 60. His love of waterways and trains will combine in taking the H&G through Newent railway station.

Andrew Denny  | 2.43pm | add a comment

Government to fund Cotswold 'missing mile'

Cotswold canals campaigners, in their attempt to finish the Stroudwater restoration and link it to the main network, have received a stunning measure of support from the road builders.

Traditionally roadbuilding projects have destroyed or at least threatened canal restoration projects. But now Highways England has offered £4m to the Cotswold Canals Trust to help bridge the 'missing mile' that is probably the most difficult part of the restoration.

The money comes from the Designated Funds Programme of Highways England. Created in 2015, this goes beyond traditional roadbuilding and is designed to minimise the disadvantages and leave a positive legacy for future generations.

The Missing Mile is the section of the Stroudwater cut off by the roadbuilding depredations of the 1960s and '70s. These included the M5 motorway and a large roundabout on the A38, which would require two tunnels and a cutting.

It's only part of the 4-mile Cotswold Canals Connected project – previously known as Phase 1B. The Cotswold Canals Trust and its partners won £872,000 of development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund last year to pay for planning the CCC project.

The overall cost is estimated to be £23.4m, but success in this HLF application is partly dependent on raising an additional funding gap of over £1m.

Highways England's interjection could change the game on the whole project, because it would bring forward several of the major engineering tasks all at once, things like tunnelling that cannot be done by volunteers, and that would substantially speed up the work.

Part of the reason for the government money is that it's not only being done for boats. They see a need to increase biodiversity, creating more than 90 acres of wildlife habitats and improved flood prevention measures. In addition, it will make good walking and cycling routes, create environmental improvements, attract visitors to the area and help the local economy.

Nevertheless, along with the M5 and A38 crossings, boaters would benefit from two new locks, two boat mooring basins and a mile of new canal on a new route.

The Cotswold Canals Trust estimates that CCC will draw approximately 700,000 hours of volunteer work and support new apprenticeships through contractors.

Highways England says the project aligns very closely with its own cultural heritage aims. The restored canal “will increase awareness of and access to a historical asset, provide a leisure amenity benefiting education and well-being and meet Highways England’s stewardship of the heritage assets obligations”.

Meanwhile Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has developed the Environmental & Biodiversity Plan with the Environment Agency. The priority habitats created will form one of the UK’s largest biodiversity offsetting projects.

For more information on Designated Funds see highwaysengland.co.uk/designated-funds/.

The crossing of the A38, the key component of the Cotswold Canals 'missing mile' project, being funded by Highways England.


CCT chair Jim White, Sarah Lewis of Highways England and Shelley Anderson of CCT sign the agreement for the £4m.jpg 

Andrew Denny  | 2.39pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Hillingdon's canal boat celebrates 50 years of service hillingdontimes.co.uk

    At a celebration at the Hillingdon Narrowboat Association's boat house on the Grand Union Canal, Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, praised the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers who work to run Pisces and her sisters, introducing many thousands to the canals. He said “Community boats like Pisces are the unsung heroes of the waterways, doing such a lot of good work, promoting their benefits for the well-being of everyone, and especially getting young people onto the waterways.” He presented the Mayor, Cllr David Yarrow, with a traditional painted watering can to mark the occasion....

  • Brownhills canal festival back with bang expressandstar.com

    The Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Society stepped in to organise the Brownhills Canalside Festival on the 18th-19th July. The popular event had not taken place for two years after organisers claimed they were too old to stage it – and Michael Smith-Keary of the BCN Society said the society will look at whether they will bring the event back in 2020. The event saw trade boats and stalls moor along the canalside, off Silver Street. There was also historic boats on display and a number of boat trips up and down the canal....

  • Shrewsbury & Newport submits planning application to excavate Wappenshall Basin shropshirestar.com

    The Shrewsbury & Newport Canal Trust has applied for permission to excavate a filled-in canal basin in Telford and restore it to its former glory as part of a tourist attraction. The trust has previously submitted an application that would see one of its Grade II listed warehouses at the wharf converted into a shop, reception, conference facilities, offices and an exhibition space....

  • CRT makes statement on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct after teen fell to his death dailypost.co.uk

    A canal trust will explore ways to make a world-famous tourist attraction safer after a teenager fell to his death - but says changes to the structure could be "very controversial". The Canal & River Trust was responding to concerns raised by John Gittins, coroner for North Wales East and Central, during the inquest into the death of 18-year-old Kristopher McDowell. ...

Friday 17 May

Today's news from the web

  • Anti-Brexit boat owner plans to block Union Canal at Linlithgow linlithgowgazette.co.uk

    The European elections, which were not supposed to take place, will of course go ahead next Thursday (May 23.) Polling stations will open at 7am and voters have until 10pm to cast their votes.They will be afforded just one choice on their ballot paper. Closer to home, it’s emerged that Edinburgh man Norman Foulner whose boat ‘Thistledown’ is moored at Linlithgow’s Canal will be attempting to block the canal with his craft as a protest....

Monday 13 May

Today's news from the web

  • Yorkshire Waterways Museum closes as parent charity goes into liquidation thirdsector.co.uk

    The Yorkshire Waterways Museum and its parent charity The Sobriety Project have closed after public funding cuts in Humberside meant it was unable to cover its costs The Sobriety Project was set up in 1980 at Goole docks and used the historic Humber Keel Sobriety as a base for personal development and training for disadvantaged people. ...

  • Derbyshire Wildlife Trust launches Cromford canal cottage crowdfunder belpernews.co.uk

    Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support its restoration of a historic cottage on the Cromford canal. The environmental charity is aiming to revive the ruined 19th century Aqueduct Cottage, at Lea Wood Nature Reserve, as a space for visitor information and education. Plans were submitted to Amber Valley Council in March, and now the trust has begun the long work to raise funding for the project....

Thursday 9 May

Today's news from the web

Wednesday 24 April

Today's news from the web

  • Body found in Oxford Canal in search for missing man coventrytelegraph.net

    Police say a body has been found in the search for missing man Jason Thompson. The 31-year-old was last seen at the The Folly Inn pub in Napton, near Southam, late on Friday night (April 19). He had been working on a boat that was making its way from Banbury to Coventry....

  • Deep cracks spark concerns over safety of Milton Keynes canal bridge miltonkeynes.co.uk

    A canal bridge with deep cracks the length of its brickwork is still safe to use, insists the Canal and River Trust. Members of the public have complained that Bridge 79 on the Grand Union at Great Linford appears to be in “a seriously unsafe” state. But a Canal & River Trust spokesman said: “We’ve been inspecting the bridge regularly, around three times a month, to check its condition and that it remains safe. We’re confident that in the short term, despite appearances, this bridge remains structurally sound. We’re keen to get repairs sorted and will get them done as soon as we can.”...

Tuesday 23 April

Today's news from the web

  • Paddle boarders win environmental award for removing rubbish from River Weaver winsfordguardian.co.uk

    Hundreds of pieces of plastic waste and rubbish have been prevented from reaching the Irish Sea over the past year, thanks to a ground-breaking river adoption agreement between the Canal & River Trust charity and Mid Cheshire Stand Up Paddleboard Club. The River Weaver Navigation, which runs through North Cheshire, is now much cleaner as a result of the Trust’s first UK river adoption by a stand up paddle board club last March. And the club has made such an impact locally, it has been awarded Winsford Town Council’s Trueprint Environment Award....

  • Could living on a canal boat help you get onto property ladder? thisismoney.co.uk

    'The money I save from living on a boat should be enough for a deposit to buy a home': Priced out of the property market? You could barge in....

Saturday 13 April

Today's news from the web

  • Mid Devon council agree to continue £45k grant for Grand Western Canal devonlive.com

    Councillors have promised to continue supporting the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton. Mid Devon District Council agreed to continue its annual grant of £45,000 towards the maintenance of the waterway and that an assessment is taken in liaison with Devon County Council before the financial year 2020/21 to inform decision making concerning the level of future grant support for the canal....

Friday 12 April

Today's news from the web

  • 'Human arm' among 8 tons dragged out of water during MK canal clean-up miltonkeynes.co.uk

    A realistic-looking female arm was just one on the bizarre items found in a massive canal clean-up operation. The arm dredged out of the water turned out to belong to a shop mannequin. “The rest of her was never found,” said a spokesman for the clean-up, which was organised by the MK branch of the Inland Waterways Association. A crew of 76 members and volunteers pulled an incredible eight tons of rubbish out of the canal in MK over two days....

  • Disused Erewash Canal pub to be demolished for flats derbytelegraph.co.uk

    A disused canal-side pub in Cotmanhay could be demolished and replaced with 23 apartments aimed at first-time buyers. The plans, pitched by Nottingham firm Maxwell Cohen, would see the Bridge Inn knocked down in the next few weeks and replaced with a three-storey apartment block by next year. ...

  • Historic narrowboat is BCN primary school classroom expressandstar.com

    Students at Millfield Primary School in Catshill Road, Brownhills, can board the boat for lessons in art, science, history and business. The narrowboat is moored behind the school on a stretch of canal. It was found after staff at the school got in touch with Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Trust, which told them about a boat which required renovation in Birmingham....

Wednesday 10 April

Today's news from the web

  • IWA launches Waterways in Progress report waterways.org.uk

    "Restoration schemes are not just a means to an end; they have a life of their own and can bring quantifiable benefits at every stage" Waterways in Progress is a new report to be published in the near future by IWA's Restoration Hub in conjunction with members of the Hub's High Level Panel of restoration movement representatives. Using case studies from across the UK network, from canals both restored and still striving towards completion, Waterways in Progress seeks to spell out how well thought-out, partial restoration initiatives can start to deliver right from Day One. ...

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