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Friday 16 September

Today's news from the web

  • New River Trent bridge completes missing link waterscape.com

    The new replacement for the long-closed Long Horse Bridge near Shardlow was craned into position over the River Trent on 15th September, re-establishing the footpath link to Sawley that was lost when the old bridge, dating from the 1930s, was demolished in 2003 after it fell into disrepair. When opened later this year the new £1.4m single-span bridge will give a full public bridleway, allowing access across the River Trent for walkers, cyclists and horses. A new greenway linking the bridge with Shardlow is also being constructed, crossing open land and following the Trent & Mersey Canal. Over a mile of new hedgerow is also being planted. Derbyshire County Council contributed £213,000 and raised a further £303,000 towards the cost of the project through grants from other organisations. Leicestershire County Council also contributed £15,000, with the balance coming from British Waterways. ...

  • Bumpy reception for Regent's Canal speed humps islingtontribune.com

    Measures to slow down speeding cyclists on narrow towpaths along the Regent’s Canal in Islington were branded “virtually useless” by campaigners for safe walking this week....

  • River Weaver route's £120,000 upgrade northwichguardian.co.uk

    Cyclists and walkers will be able to navigate the River Weaver more fully thanks to a £120,000 upgrade. A 2km mud track between Vale Royal Locks and Newbridge has been transformed into a multi-user path and cycleway. The 2m-wide path, which is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, links directly into the Weaver Parkway, in Winsford....


Tuesday 13 September

Defra announces charity consultation results

Defra has published the summary of responses to its consultation about transferring the waterways from public ownership to the new waterways charity, called ‘A new era for the waterways’.

The three-month consultation, which ended on 30th June, was to take into account the public’s views on how the new charity should manage the English and Welsh waterways, and particularly in gaining new ideas on how to secure their financial stability in the wake of all the funding cutback of the last few years.

Defra said over 350 responses were received on the consultation, from individuals, charities and the main associations connected with the waterways.  

Many of the familiar demands by waterways users were addressed, including a key one that canal towpaths would be opened up as rights of way (currently towpaths are only available for public use at ‘the discretion of’ BW. )

A clear majority of replies favoured the merger of EA navigations into the new charity, and Defra said this is now likely to happen, possibly by 2014 rather than the original target of 2015, “subject to affordability and the agreement of the NWC Trustees at that time”.

The original consultation proposed a series of region-sized ‘Local Partnerships’, and while the proposal is likely to go ahead,  there was criticism that their name belied their large size and that there should be more ‘localism’ in the partnerships.   Defra has agreed, and is renaming them ‘Waterways Partnerships’, with an instruction that they should develop ‘localism strategies’ that allow a greater involvement from local communities.  

The current plan is for 13 Partnerships.  Eleven would be based on waterway management boundaries, one for museums and one ‘All-Wales Partnership’. But the proposal should not prevent the Partnerships from evolving into the future.

The shape of the new charity Council was also unveiled.  This will initially consist of 35 members.  Boaters will be pleased that five of these will come from their ranks, and others taken from various other interests – including two from boating businesses and one from employees of the charity.  Four of them will come from the various other interests, such as cyclists, anglers, ramblers, etc.   These interests will comprise half the Council, and they will elect their members, while the other half will be appointed, including heritage and environmental appointees, and one each from the 13 Waterways Partnerships.

The name of the new charity is still under discussion. “The Government and Trustees recognise that the name of the charity must accurately represent its scope”, said the report.

“Furthermore, in addition to the word ‘waterways’  (well understood by enthusiasts), consideration also needs to be given to words more familiar to  the wider public (including ‘canal’ and ‘river’) if the name is to have the widest possible appeal.  

“It is recognised that the Welsh name for the charity needs to be one that resonates in that language and is not necessarily a straightforward translation of the English name.”

The results of the consultation can be downloaded on www.defra.gov.uk/consult/files/110912-waterways-summary-responses.pdf

As it published the report, Defra also launched another six-week consultation about the proposed ‘Transfer Order’.  This will run until 24th October, and sets out the legal framework for transfer of the waterways and associated powers and responsibilities from BW to the new charity.

Details of this supplementary consultation can be seen on www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2011/09/12/waterways-1109/ 

Andrew Denny  | 2.45pm


Today's news from the web

  • The green mile: Water fern covers Lancaster Canal posing threat to children and wildlife dailymail.co.uk

    It may look like a perfectly manicured lawn. But actually this is a stretch of Lancaster Canal. The sea of green is the result of rampant water fern, which has spread rapidly along a mile-long stretch of the 200-year-old waterway....

  • Houseboats will not help solve the housing problem dailymail.co.uk

    Even if barges were parked nose-to-tail along Britain's 1,864 miles of navigable waterways, it would only provide 150,000 homes - three-fifths of the number of new homes that the Department of Communities and Local Government previously estimated are needed every year. ...

  • River Avon safety works near completion eveshamobserver.co.uk

    A two-year project to make the River Avon safer is nearing completion. Brand new barriers have been installed at the top of five of the river's weirs, including Evesham, to make them less dangerous for boaters. Improved signs and portage for canoeists has also been planned as part of the project - a partnership between The Environment Agency and The Avon Navigation Trust. ...


Monday 12 September

Today's news from the web

  • Kirkintilloch canal festival gets 20,000 visitors kirkintilloch-herald.co.uk

    Around 20,000 people enjoyed an array of activities – showcasing the area’s leisure, culture and musical heritage - at this year's Kirkintilloch Canal Festival. This year the festival was expanded over a week to tie in with celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of Kirkintilloch becoming a Burgh of Barony. Now in its 11th year, the popular festival has grown to be one of the highlights in the town’s events calendar....


Friday 9 September

Today's news from the web

  • 25th Angel Canal Festival honours Crystal Hale with plaque islingtontribune.com

    Hundreds of people flocked to the 25th Angel Canal Festival on Sunday – despite the typical summer weather conditions of pouring rain – to eat world cuisine from the food stalls, watch a Punch and Judy show and play in puddles. The day honoured the festival’s founder Crystal Hale with a green Islington People’s Plaque – which celebrate notable residents of the borough and are voted for by the public. Ms Hale’s plaque was unveiled by her daughter Rebecca Hale on the wall of Hanover School, looking south down the canal basin, a view she loved....

  • Falkirk Wheel masterplan rebranded as ‘Portdownie’ thedrum.co.uk

    A planned 58-acre mixed use development neighbouring the Falkirk Wheel will henceforth be known as ‘Portdownie’ following a rebranding exercise conducted by Whitespace. Development partners British Waterways and Falkirk Council selected the brand to reflect the historic name by which the canal basin is known....

  • Saltaire ice cream barge is allowed to stay thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

    A canal boat selling ice creams to tourists visiting Saltaire’s World Heritage Site has been allowed to stay by councillors. The Are-Jay Bargie can continue operating after councillors granted permission for boat businesses on the 36-metre stretch of the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal where the brightly-coloured boat has been moored for two years....

  • Volunteer lock keepers wanted for Droitwich canal network droitwichadvertiser.co.uk

    Volunteers are being urged to come forward to help run the town’s newly restored canal network. Following the successful work of helpers on the restored Droitwich Canal, British Waterways is now inviting more people to get involved in a unique opportunity that will see them carry out an iconic role....


Thursday 8 September

Brick kiln at Fenny Compton to be restored to working condition

A ruined old canalside brickworks at Fenny Compton on the South Oxford Canal is to be restored as one of the UK’s few remaining working Victorian brick kilns, after volunteer craftsmen from the Guild of Bricklayers agreed to give up their weekends to repair the building. 

The canal-side kiln, now owned by British Waterways, operated alongside Bridge 138 from 1840 until it closed in 1917.In its heyday it provided many of the bricks for construction along a large part of the Southern Oxford Canal, for many local houses and the (long-closed) Fenny Compton railway station. 

The Guild volunteers will stabilise the kiln and carefully remove sections of the original brick walls which are in danger of collapsing. Carefully salvaging the original bricks the volunteers will then carefully reconstruct sections of the building, ensuring that all of the old historic bricks are reused. 

Other local volunteers have already cleared the vegetation around the site to allow easy access and working for the skilled bricklayers. 

Steve Barlow from the Guild of Bricklayers said: “Our volunteers will carefully and sensitively help restore this lovely old building and give it some much needed TLC.”  

When the kiln is fully restored, it is hoped that it can eventually produce bricks for future canal projects.Classically made bricks are in short supply for heritage projects; the canalside location offers the hope that the kiln’s output could be carried by narrowboat to other canalside building sites, exactly as it did during in the Victorian era. 

The project is the brainchild of Dennis Maney, heritage advisor at British Waterways.“The kiln building has suffered from neglect over the years and has branches and tree roots growing through it, which has caused a huge amount of damage”, he said. “There is a lot of work to do, but we feel it is well worth it to get the kiln working again the way it used to be.”  

Andrew Denny  | 5.29pm


Today's news from the web

  • Suspected arson attack on marina at Worcester destroys boats and car worcesterstandard.co.uk

    Five boats and a car were destroyed during a suspected arson attack at Northwick Marina on the night of Wednesday 8th September. Firefighters arrived at Neweys Hill at about 12.15am and found a 25ft narrowboat and two smaller boats on fire, as well as a Ford Galaxy people carrier. Two other vehicles were also damaged as the fire spread, but no-one was hurt....

  • Walliams battling on despite illness oxfordtimes.co.uk

    Comedian David Walliams abandoned his target destination last night after battling severe sickness on his third day swimming the Thames. But he won cheers from supporters along the route, after making a remarkable recovery to swim from Abingdon to Wallingford on the third day of his 140-mile swim....


Wednesday 7 September

Waterways minister announces figures for rise in London-area boats

BW’s official figures for the increase in the number of boats on the central and east London waterways were given out by waterways minister Richard Benyon on September 5th in answer to a parliamentary question from Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali. 

The MP had asked “how many boats with (a) a home mooring licence and (b) a continuous cruising licence have moored on average in (i) the Rivers Lea and Stort and (ii) the Regent's Canal in the last five years.”  

In his reply, Richard Benyon gave figures only for the four years 2007–2010. 

He said BW’s annual licence check surveys showed a 24% increase in five years of boats officially moored on the Lee & Stort (from 571 to 712), and 125% in the number of continuous cruisers (from 107 to 241). 

The shorter, more urban, Regent’s Canal saw a modest 3% rise in officially moored boats (from 295 to 304) over the five years to 2011, but a marked rise of 240% in continuous cruisers (from 33 to 112 boats). 

Both areas showed a doubling of figures for ‘other’ types of boat, including those visiting from non-BW waters (e.g. the Thames) and those who had no mooring declaration, although the total numbers of this type were smaller.

Andrew Denny  | 12.56pm


Today's news from the web

  • All aboard for a jaunt around Birmingham dailymail.co.uk

    Could there be a better parable of modern Britain? Approaching Birmingham at 3mph in a car and we'd be fidgeting, tooting our horns and snarling at other drivers. Approaching it at 3mph by canal - on a sleek, green 66ft narrowboat called Herring Gull - and there is no such stress. All is serenity as we glide along the Birmingham and Worcester Canal, past pubs and churches, fields of sheep, neat suburban gardens, joggers, cyclists and parents pushing buggies along the towpath. It's Middle England in miniature....


Friday 2 September

Today's news from the web

  • Plaque will pay tribute to Regent's Canal's battling 'Boadicea', Crystal Hale islingtontribune.com

    She was described as “Islington’s Boad­icea”, a formidable campaigner who fought a long and hard battle against British Water­ways when it wanted to fill in the canal at the much-loved City Road Basin. Crystal Hale, who died in 1999, aged 83, and who cham­pioned the cause of the Regent’s Canal in the 1960s, is to be finally honoured with a plaque at the 25th Angel Festival on Sunday. ...

  • Bangladeshi boatmen set to do battle oxfordtimes.co.uk

    Thames visitors and residents will be able to see a Bangladeshi sporting spectacle on Sunday. The Nowka Bais – which translates as boat race – will feature 18 teams from across the country going head-to-head in a 400m dash. ...


Thursday 1 September

Wey & Arun Trust builds new visitor centre at Loxwood

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust has begun building a new visitor centre beside the canal at its Loxwood base. 

The new centre will provide information about the whole canal restoration project, the history of the Wey & Arun Canal and local information about the village. The timber building will have a curved ‘green roof’, which will be planted as a wild flower meadow.

“A dedicated amenity such as this has been long awaited and has been a long time in preparation,” said the Trust's chairman Sally Schupke. 

“For years we have had to make do with a temporary shed attached to the Onslow Arms pub. The number of visitors to the area has increased significantly and better facilities are needed to meet their needs and also those of the volunteer staff."

The prefabricated structure is being made by by Fordingbridge a specialist in environmentally sensitive and sustainable buildings, and the project is due to be finished in time for Christmas.

Andrew Denny  | 3.40pm


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