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Tuesday 20 December

Today's news from the web

  • Queens green energy scheme nears completion environment-agency.gov.uk

    The day when Windsor Castle is powered by green energy came a step closer today when the second of two 40-tonne turbines was lifted into place at the Environment Agency’s Romney Weir on the River Thames. Once up and running in the new year the Archimedes screws, the largest in the UK and designed to be fish-friendly, will generate 300 kilowatts of energy every hour for up to half of the royal residence. Any surplus electricity will be sold back to the national grid by the developer Southeast Power Engineering Ltd (SEPEL) for use in homes in Windsor....

Wednesday 14 December

Birmingham canalside to be transformed around the NIA

The stark canalside front of the National Indoor Arena (NIA) at Birmingham's Old Turn Junction is set to get a remarkable £20 million transformation.

Plans announced for the venue, owned by the NEC Group, will take advantage of its location to feature a new showcase entrance straight from Brindleyplace into the arena, with large glazed views over the water and the city.

The work is due to start later this year, and should improve the ease of access and comfort for the building as well as hopefully giving it a much more attractive aspect to boaters. No announcement has been made about the visitor moorings popular with boaters alongside the building. 

Despite the impressive crowds attracted to events in the building since it opened 20 years ago, the NIA has long been criticised for the way it 'turns its back' on Birmingham's waterside, with fire exits and concrete driveways being the most prominent feature overlooking the canal. 

As well as 81,000 sq.ft of main refurbishment,including a glazed gallery that will look out over Old Turn Junction, the design will include an extra 64,000 sq.ft. of shops, bars, restaurants and other retail space. 

Aidan Ridyard of architects Broadway Malyan said: “We see the new NIA as a waterfront window onto the excitement of the entertainment within and the heritage of our city surrounding it.”

Andrew Denny  | 5.39pm | add a comment

Sagar Marine closes

Sagar Marine, which has been building high quality narrowboats and Dutch barges at Brighouse on the Calder & Hebble since 1975, has gone into voluntary  liquidation. 

Founders Stephen Sagar and Wendy Sagar said they had taken the decision reluctantly, due to a downturn in trade.

“Over the last 12 months the lack of business has just got worse due to the economic climate,” Stephen Sagar said. “We decided to go into voluntary liquidation, so all the suppliers and customers have been paid and no-one has been left out of pocket.

“I am more disappointed about the five redundancies we made as most of them had been with the company for at least 25 years.”

Working with sons Jonathan and Andrew, the Sagars had built a reputation in the waterways world, with loyal customers and several awards and were awarded the coveted John Beardsmore award for excellence.

When the Sagars started they were rare amongst boatbuilders in doing almost everything themselves from building the original steel hull to carpentry and upholstery work.  They initially specialised in narrowboats, building their first Dutch-style barge in 1991 and introduced their Mini-Luxe, designed specifically for narrow canals in 1993.

A Sagar Marine barge in Brighouse Basin

Andrew Denny  | 2.37pm | 2 comments

Today's news from the web

  • Major 'Crick' Grundy - obituary in the Daily Telegraph telegraph.co.uk

    Major 'Crick' Grundy, who has died aged 85, was awarded an MC in the Korean War and, in later life, played a prominent part in the restoration of inland waterways in England....

  • A soundmap of London’s waterways londonist.com

    London Sound Survey is a truly extraordinary site... Site owner Ian Rawes has spent years compiling audio recordings from around London – from street sounds to the clicks, whistles, squarks and hoots of the capital’s wildlife. It’s a priceless archive of the sounds of the city...an aspect often overlooked in our camera-obsessed society. Most splendidly, Ian has found imaginative ways to present his recordings. We’re particularly taken with this Tube-style diagram of London’s waterways. As well as following the Regent’s Canal, Grand Union Canal and their offshoots, he’s also tracked the various surface rivers of London such as the Lea, Wandle and Brent. Representative sound recordings have been made at regular intervals along each route, and embedded into the diagram. ...

Tuesday 13 December

Today's news from the web

  • BW dismisses reports of crocodile in River Lee waterscape.com

    Ecologists from British Waterways have stated that they do not believe there is a crocodile or alligator in the River Lee, following rumours of a beast lurking in the waters near the Olympic stadium....

  • 'Olympic Monster' Lurking In Waters By London 2012 Site huffingtonpost.co.uk

    "Olympic competitors are quaking in their spiked running shoes after tales emerged of a killer creature lurking in swampy waters close to the 2012 site in London", reports news blog The Huffington Post. "According to reporter Louis Emanuel at the Hackney Citizen, the as-yet unidentified, monster was spotted dragging a 16lb Canada goose under the water 'so fast it disappeared without a sound'. The breathless report claims that the "mysterious killer beast" is lying in wait for sprinters and high jumpers somewhere in the River Lea near to the Olympic park in Stratford. The Sun speculated that the peculiar beast may be an alligator or a giant turtle." British Waterways told WW: "This story has not come from us. It originally 'surfaced' about 5 years ago, when a boater who is opposed to the Olympics reported seeing it. Since then, we've heard nothing - until now. If it is the same creature, it must be getting very hungry." ...

Monday 12 December

A Bargee's Pail

You might remember a fascinating BBC TV programme that aired earlier this year, called 'The Golden Age of Canals'.  It gave the story of the tail-end of commercial carrying on the canals, told mainly through home movie footage, with assorted 'talking head' interviews with witnesses to the era. 

(It's being shown again, on BBC4 TV on Monday 19th December at 7pm.) 

The producer of that fine programme, David Parker, writes that he's now making a TV programme about 'traditional food', and adds: 

"I've come across a way of cooking called the 'Bargees Pail'. Have you ever heard of it, and do you know anybody who can simulate it on a narrow boat today? I'd like to find someone cooking in this style if at all possible. Any advice would be gratefully received." 

Andrew Denny  | 5.17pm | 1 comment

Today's news from the web

  • Louth canal work 'to cut flooding risk' bbc.co.uk

    Work to remove 22,000 tonnes of silt from a Lincolnshire waterway will help prevent flooding, officials have said.

    The Environment Agency is to clear a 10km (6.2 mile) of Louth Canal between Tetney Lock and the small hamlet of Austen Fen.

    The three month project, which will close a nearby footpath, is designed to restore the capacity of the canal to allow water to flow faster.

    As part of the project, owl boxes will be installed along the route.

    The agency said the £60,000 work would help protect 70 properties and a water treatment facility.

Friday 9 December

Love is having someone to steer the butty

Aylesbury Canal Basin, May 1987. 

Stanley Holland sent in this picture almost 25 years ago, adding: "It seemed, however, that when the couple sailed away for their honeymoon on the 'motor', they had decided to leave the butty behind."

So who did get married, in early 1987, who had what looked like a wooden traditional butty in Aylesbury Basin?  

Andrew Denny  | 3.02pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Ilminster attempts canal restoration thisisthewestcountry.co.uk

    Volunteers have been enjoying swashbuckling [sic] adventures on the Ilminster Canal in an attempt to clear the historic landmark. A new blog has launched on Ilminster Town Council’s website – a captain’s log – detailing the work of ‘Cap’n’ Cllr John Pallister and his helpers. They … are hoping to restore the canal to its former glory, aided by technical advice from civil engineer Richard Sothern. The Ilminster Canal used to be a link between Chard and the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal and was open from 1842-66, when it was purchased by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, closed and refilled. … Town clerk Julia Thorne has now written a letter to the badger community to politely request that they move to an area on Brittens Field so that work can continue. ...

  • Quietly, a huge new port is being built close to London economist.com

    Some 25 miles east of London, on the site of a former oil refinery, the biggest infrastructure project most people have never heard of is under way. Giant earthmoving machines level mounds of sand and mud dredged from the River Thames. Reinforced concrete pillars as tall as Nelson’s Column are sunk at the rate of one a day. They will support the quay and the cranes that will unload containers at the London Gateway port. The first three of six berths will open in December 2013....

  • Safety concerns at Keadby Lock southyorkshiretimes.co.uk

    A boatman has slammed the “totally irresponsible” attitude of British Waterways (BW) over its handling of safety issues at Keadby Lock. A row over the issues at the lock - where the Stainforth to Keadby Canal meets the River Trent - erupted last March, close to the end of its winter hours, when BW enforced strict closing times at the site. ...A BW spokesperson said the organisation does not provide 24 hour lock-keepers at the site, adding that users should familiarise themselves, in advance, with operating times....

  • Blow-by-blow account of how gales lashed Leicestershire thisisleicestershire.co.uk

    ...The wind brought down some trees around the county that had already been weakened by several days of gusts. They included a 15-metre ash, which was blown over at Market Harborough Canal Basin, off Leicester Road, on Wednesday afternoon, landing partly in the canal and partly across the deck of a narrowboat which was moored up. The boat suffered slight damage. Steve Allen, of Allen Ground Care, which was called by British Waterways to remove the tree, said: "The trunk was in the water and the crown was resting on the narrow boat. It's quite a big tree but, fortunately, it has only caused superficial damage."...

Thursday 8 December

Major fire drill at Wast Hill Tunnel

Hereford and Worcester Fire Service are conducting a training exercise simulating a fire on a boat in the Wast Hill canal tunnel near Kings Norton tomorrow (Friday 9th December).

The exercise will involve both Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service and neighbouring West Midlands Fire Service, since the 1.5 mile tunnel extends into both areas - with the southern end of the tunnel in Worcestershire and the northern end in the West Midlands.

Friday’s exercise, scheduled to start at 10am, will aim to test how the two fire and rescue services would work together to respond to a fire inside the tunnel, with particular emphasis on communications and tactical planning.

The exercise will be made as realistic as possible by using smoke generators placed on a barge midway along the tunnel. 

Fire and rescue appliances attending will include water rescue craft, plus a Command Support Unit and the Urban Search and Rescue team from H&WFRS.

Wast Hill tunnel north entrance

Andrew Denny  | 1.26pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Campaign to re-open link between canal and river in Stafford staffordshirenewsletter.co.uk

    A community group set up to rejoin Stafford with the National Waterways Network is calling on town residents to help secure funding for the project. The Stafford Riverway Link (SRL) group hopes to re-open the river and canal waterway linking the town and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Stafford was originally connected to the canal at Baswich in 1816 to transport coal, but the link was closed in 1929. Officials from the group visited Stafford’s Asda store last week to consult residents and start a petition to gain funding for the project....

Wednesday 7 December

Basingstoke Canal for sale

The Basingstoke Canal near Woking in 1983 - some years before its eventual reopening. There's always hope!

Andrew Denny  | 5.24pm | 1 comment

Overwater at Audlem is first canal marina to get five Gold Anchors

The Yacht Harbour Association has awarded the maximum ranking in its Gold Anchor Award scheme to Overwater Marina, on the Shropshire Union canal near Audlem.  The marina is the first on the British Waterways inland network to gain the maximum five Gold Anchors in the scheme. 

The YHA said that this was a ‘very commendable achievement’ for a marina that had been open for only 18 months.  The scheme rates marinas on a scale from one to five, and is designed to assure boaters of the credibility and quality of the marina, based on the YHA’s Code of Practice.

The YHA's Gold Anchor Award Scheme - which won them the 2011 PBO Green Award in the Campaign or Initiative category - is a voluntary programme that assesses customer service and moorings quality. The ratings provides assurance of the credibility and quality of marinas both in the UK and internationally.

Overwater Marina is set alongside the Shropshire Union Canal, and features a ‘lakeland’ design with islands designed to give sanctuary to wildlife.  Moorings are based in small groups around the marina’s edge and separated by grassy promontories.  The marina has been designed to not only fit in to its surroundings, but to actively enhance the environment with a range of new habitats which have been created and to make use of renewable energy technology to provide hot water and heating for its facilities building.  

The award comes on top of Overwater’s recent accreditation by The Green Blue, the joint environment programme created by the British Marine Federation and the RYA to reduce environmental impact on inland and coastal waters.  The Green Blue’s ‘ICOMIA Clean Marina Award’ comes as part of the Gold Anchor accreditation.

Gareth Turnbull, general manager of The Yacht Harbour Association, said: “Janet Maughan and her staff have to be congratulated for their attention to detail and the high standard of customer service they offer in this first class marina”.

Overwater Marina: Just before Christmas it was first canal marina to get "Five Gold Anchors" - and presumably 4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree on the wildlife island sanctuary in the middle of the marina.)

Andrew Denny  | 4.51pm | add a comment

Narrowboat fire after boater removes smoke alarm battery

The Boat Safety Scheme office has issued a warning following a recent boat fire where a liveaboard boater was lucky to escape with his life. He awoke in the early hours to find his boat was filling rapidly with smoke, after the solid fuel stove in the saloon set fire to the boat’s interior.  

However, it was pure luck which woke him; some time earlier he had removed the battery from his smoke alarm to avoid false alarms. 

When the boater realised what was happening, he had to crawl out of the boat on his chest to keep below the level of the smoke. Less than a minute later, flames filled the cabin as he stood outside calling the fire brigade.

BSS manager Graham Watts said: “With just two to three breaths of toxic smoke in a boat fire, you could be unconscious, so every second counts when you need to escape. If your alarm regularly goes off when you’re cooking, replace it with one that has a hush button that stops the alarm from sounding while you make the toast! These alarms are cheap and easy to buy.

“But the alarm of choice is an optical alarm with a long-life battery, a hush button, and one that is certified as meeting either BS 5446:2000 Part 1, or BS EN 14604:2005, so it should carry a ‘kitemark’ or ‘horseshoe’ certification mark. An optical sensor alarm, although more expensive, is less likely to cause a false alarm. 

Also, test it at the other end of the boat; if it's in the saloon and you can’t hear it in the sleeping quarters loud enough to wake you, buy a second one.”

There are guidelines for choosing and installing an alarm on boat on the BSS fire safety website www.boatsafetyscheme.com/fire.

Andrew Denny  | 3.16pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Edinburgh canal park and ride idea floated scotsman.com

    Talks are under way to set up Edinburgh's first “boat taxi park and ride” service, which would take workers and visitors from the outskirts of the city into the centre. Under the radical proposals, motorists would park their cars at one of the main Union Canal car parks – likely to include Ratho and Wester Hailes – then catch a barge to Fountainbridge, the beginning of the city’s main financial district....

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