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Friday 30 December

Sharpness locals protest at 400 ft wind turbine plans

Local boaters and residents at Sharpness are protesting at plans by British Waterways to install a giant 400 ft wind turbine in the old Sharpness docks area. 

"We feel very strongly about this. It will ruin the view of the estuary and stand out like a sore thumb", the owners of Sharpness Marina Alan Crowhurst and Brian Williams were reported as saying in local paper Gloucester Citizen. 

The giant wind turbine would be installed on Sharpness dock island, currently owned by British Waterways. It could produce enough electricity for between 736 to 1,226 households a year, and is part of a renewable energy programme by BW in conjunction with Partnerships for Renewables.

A former mayor of the nearby village of Berkeley, Valerie Watts, said: "It sounds rather intensive. A smaller one away from houses might be better. I am not against wind turbines, but they have to be the right size." 

Andrew Denny  | 11.24am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • 1968 canal hunt for 'Fred West victim' thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Today in the Gloucester Citizen there's an interesting account of a police search of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in 1968, in a hunt for a missing schoolgirl, as the third episode of a series.  

    Notorious mass-killer Fred West confessed in prison to his son, shortly before he hanged himself, to having murdered the girl, whose body was never found. 

    "Pieces of a Monopoly game had been found near a canal bridge and Mary Bastholm had been carrying the game when she went missing.

    "So Detective Chief Superintendent William Marchand, of the Metropolitan Police Scotland Yard Murder Squad decided areas of the Gloucester-Sharpness canal were to be searched.

    "One morning, Sergeant Clive Jefferies put his head around the Stroud CID office door and told me the Under Water Recovery Section had been requested by Marchand and ordered to carry out a search – we were to hunt 20 yards each side of the bridge..." 

    The girl's body was never found back then, and the first two episodes of the story - here's No. 1 and here is No. 2 - suggest that perhaps she was buried in ground where West had done building work.

    It would be interesting to know how such canal searches are done nowadays in these circumstances, and if they have different techniques in addition to the gadgets available for location bodies and evidence.

  • Crayfish invasion of England's waterways tracked by radio guardian.co.uk

    Members of an aggressive species of crayfish which have been invading England's waterways are being tracked with radio transmitters in an attempt to better understand them. The Environment Agency said virile crayfish (Orconectes virilis), which are non-native, prey on native wildlife and spread crayfish plague, a disease deadly to native white clawed crayfish. The north American predators have recently been seen in waterways in east London after first being found on the river Lea near Enfield in 2004. They have since colonised more than 10 miles of the river and linked waterways, spreading into Hertfordshire. ...

  • Praying for rain with (Midland river/canal) levels at all-time low northamptonchron.co.uk

    The Nene, Ouse and Tove must be at their lowest levels, by turn-of-the-year standards, in living memory. The canal is at least six inches down with British Waterways’ feeder reservoirs – Drayton, Boddington etc – all way, way down when they should be brim full, and Even BW sucking water out of the Ouse and the Tove at alarming rates can do little to help the cut. Numerous local lakes and ‘commercials’ are also at unhealthy lows, as are Anglian Water’s reservoirs. Whether things would have been much better in some places had Anglian Water had the bottle to introduce local hosepipe bans and the like back in the summer, or BW the sense to restrict lock usage, is a debate now in the realms of ‘I told you so’....

Thursday 22 December

Today's news from the web

  • Funding for canals - Comment - Huddersfield Examiner examiner.co.uk

    ...In just five months the Government will put canals and rivers under the care of a new charity called the Canal And River Trust. It will be heavily reliant on Government grants and although there are moves to protect this level of funding for the next 10 years it’s hard to be sure how much will be forthcoming when the country is in such dire economic straits. It’s vital a realistic sum is ‘ring-fenced’ by the Government to make sure the Trust gets the funding it needs to continue with the expensive maintenance work our waterways need to keep their link to the past alive and continued prosperity from visitors and tourists in the future. The greatest tragedy would be if it was allowed to decay again for once maintenance starts to slip it’s very difficult to get it back on course. Read More http://www.examiner.co.uk/views-and-blogs/comment/2011/12/22/funding-for-canals-86081-29993733/#ixzz1hGVPepve...

Tuesday 20 December

Today's news from the web

  • V*rg*n censorship hits c*n*ls bbc.co.uk

    An overzealous automatic 'profanity checker' was blamed for an outbreak of censorshp on Virgin's TV and radio services last week.   Among the programmes hit in the guide was a repeat of the acclaimed The Golden Age of Ca**ls  on BBC4.  

    "Also offered were highlights of the 'Manchester City v A***nal' game and 'Jarvis C**ker's Sunday Service'. Meanwhile, movie lovers could tune into The 39 Steps, a 'Hitchc**k remake", the BBC reported.


  • Waterways consultation - government extends FoI to Canal & River Trust waterscape.com

    Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, has today published the Government’s response to the supplementary consultation on the transfer of British Waterways in England and Wales to the Canal & River Trust. The Government response clarifies a number of technical aspects related to the Transfer Order, and confirms that the new Trust will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act for those statutory functions which it inherits from British Waterways. Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, comments: “The Trustees support the Government’s conclusions including those relating to the Freedom of Information Act. We are committed to ensuring that the new Trust operates to the highest standards for openness and transparency in its new status. The Minister’s statement is another important step towards the establishment of the Canal & River Trust next year.”...

  • Pilot plan to re-open Lagan Navigation build.ie

    Belfast City Council is behind a bid to rejuvenate the Lagan Canal for its length within the Belfast boundary. The £8.62m Lagan Gateway initiative, which would see boats and barges back on the water for the first time in over 60 years, is among a number of priority projects, which could benefit from Belfast City Council's investment package next year. Over the next few years, and with the necessary funding in place, it is proposed that around 17 kilometres of the Lagan Navigation, from Belfast to Lisburn, will be reopened....

  • 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....

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