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Friday 9 December

Today's news from the web

  • 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....

  • Fourteen Locks Canal Centre reopens after blaze southwalesargus.co.uk

    The popular Fourteen Locks Canal Centre [on the ‘Mon & Brec’ canal] at Rogerstone, has reopened, just three weeks after being extensively fire and smoke damaged. And its education manager Tom Maloney said despair felt by staff after the fire, had been replaced by optimism due to the support and good wishes they have received. ...

  • New canal-focused development for Stanton suggested by canal trust ilkestonadvertiser.co.uk

    An alternative canal-focused development on the Erewash for the old Stanton ironworks site has been suggested by Dr Geraint Coles, development manager for the Chesterfield Canal Trust. 

    His suggestions included restoring the canal that ran through the old ironworks and two areas where narrow boats could moor. 

    … He explained that including a canal basin in the development would attract tourism, jobs and create revenue. “100 - 120 narrow boats could fit in one of these basins, four narrow boats pay around £10,000 to moor for a year. 

    “There is a lot of money to be made from the canal when you work it out."


Tuesday 6 December

Picture of the day: TV detector van afloat

How many liveaboard boaters buy a TV licence, especially continuous cruisers? It's unlikely anyone's ever done a survey, and since it's nigh-on impossible for ordinary people to speak to a human within the TV Licensing Authority, it's unlikely we'll find out what they are thinking or doing about it. 

Last week we came across this undated, uncaptioned photo in the WW archives, showing a 1980s TV licence van crossing on what looks like a Norfolk Broads chain ferry.  Any guesses as to the location and date? 

It set me thinking a cascade of questions, starting with "What would a dedicated TV detector boat look like?", passing through "Would the TVLA  investment be worthwhile", and finishing with "Would we be forgiven by liveaboard boaters without a TV licence for drawing the TVLA's attention to this extra, untapped source of licence money?"

Andrew Denny  | 11.49am | 2 comments

Is ‘Summer Breeze’ the first narrowboat with the new Trust logo?

Suddenly, having the 20-year-old ‘bridge and bulrush’ logo of British Waterways painted on your boat alongside the registration number is going to look so very last year, darling. 

When Audlem-based Cheshire Cat Narrowboat Holidays had their hireboat Summer Breeze repainted in November, they asked signwriter Rob Wagg to include the new Canal & River Trust logo alongside the registration number.  

“Could this be the first boat to feature the new logo?” asks Cheshire Cat’s owner Linda Andrews, after the boat was launched at the end of November. 

Andrew Denny  | 11.15am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Thames Water launches water saving campaign ahead of potential drought edie.net

    Thames Water has launched a local river protection campaign in a bid to encourage people to save water - as it prepares for a possible drought next summer. The 'Care for' campaign was set up as a result of a year of very low rainfall across the Thames Valley and the south east, which Thames Water warns could lead to a potential drought next summer. Thames tributaries included in the campaign run from Kent to Gloucestershire, with the Kennet, Darent, River Lee, Wey, Wye, Pang and Colm all part of the scheme, which will see bill board posters placed at train stations and other local centres, explaining which river people's water comes from. As well as urging people to use less, free water-saving devices are also being offered by Thames Water. ...

  • How British Waterways is being rebranded into a charity guardian.co.uk

    The main challenge is to make a fresh start without spending much money, says Simon Salem from the Canal & River Trust. "The government was determined that we transform British Waterways into a new kind of organisation with a new name which, for a marketing director, presents a fantastic and unusual opportunity. The challenge is to make this fresh start real to people, without spending much money and against a backdrop of scepticism about "rebranding". ...

Monday 5 December

Today's news from the web

  • Swansea copper heritage boat Black Prince's maiden voyage bbc.co.uk

    A community boat running river trips through Swansea's industrial past has made its maiden voyage. Called 'Black Prince', the boat will take up to 50 passengers a time from Swansea marina to the Liberty Stadium and back. Charles White, chair of Swansea Community Boat Trust, said he was delighted it had been given the green light a year after buying the vessel. The tour will pass the site of the Hafod copperworks, which was promised a £540,000 heritage grant on Friday. The charitable trust raised funds including corporate sponsorship and grants to buy the Black Prince from a company which ran canal cruises in Leeds....

Friday 2 December

From the archive: Dancing on a Black Prince boat

Different times, different mores. Girls dancing on a early Black Prince boat.Check out not just the hairstyles, dress code and marketing ideas, but the more relaxed attitude to safety! 
It won't be too difficult for waterways enthusiasts to work out when and where.  

Andrew Denny  | 2.39pm | 3 comments

RiverCare reaches Nene at Peterborough

RiverCare, the volunteer-run partnership project between Anglian Water, Keep Britain Tidy and the Environment Agency, has expanded to included the River Nene through Peterborough.
Anglian Water, who fund the scheme, say that four new groups are planned in Peterborough, operated by the Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) charity.  

The charity’s Communities Team Leader, Maxine Palmer, said: “Where we start work depends in large part on the enthusiasm of local people. I am very keen to get started and get my hands dirty with this exciting project.”
If you are interested in helping to care for the Nene or other local rivers, Maxine Palmer would like to hear from you.  She can be contacted on 01733 568408, or email maxine.palmer@pect.org.uk .

Andrew Denny  | 4.44pm

Valley Cruises gets new owners

The Valley Cruises hire fleet, based at the Springwood Haven marina near Nuneaton and also known as ‘Excellence Afloat’, has been sold as a going concern. 

The business remains operating as before. The new owners, David and Geraldine Moore, themselves private boating enthusiasts from Banbury, said they had long admired the company, and intend to keep operating the existing fleet of 12 boats at Springwood Haven for the coming year. 

They also hope to expand the fleet of five boats based at the old Stratford Court canal boatyard in Stratford-upon-Avon, which Excellence Afloat acquired last year. In particular, they hope to introduce a greater variety of boats to the Stratford base. The current fleet there are described as 'too similar', and David Moore says he hopes he can introduce some smaller and larger boats to match the variety at Springwood Haven.

'Excellence Afloat at Valley Cruises' can be contacted at 02476 393333 or on www.valleycruises.co.uk 

Andrew Denny  | 4.02pm

Thursday 1 December

Picture of the day: Which Rochdale bridge?

After more than a year working at Waterways World, I've finally opened a hitherto-unnoticed door, and discovered the paper photo archive files, dating back to the magazine's founding in 1972 (and in some cases, even earlier). Where copyright permits,I'll scan some of these and post them daily for your delectation. 

Today, a bridge from the Rochdale Canal in 1983, pre-restoration. Can you guess the location? 


Andrew Denny  | 3.54pm | 2 comments

Wednesday 30 November

British Newspaper Library launches searchable archive

Waterways historical research could be made dramatically easier with the launch by the British Library of the British Newspaper Archive website. 

The new website – at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk – currently provides up to four million fully searchable pages from more than 200 newspaper titles from the UK and Ireland. The newspapers currently searchable are mainly from the 19th century, but include some dating back to the first half of the 18th century. 

Initial searching is free, with a range of options for downloading articles as images, from £6.95 for two days access and up to 500 articles, to £79.95 for an annual subscription.  The text appears not to have been proofed, with some of the search snippets showing serious scanning errors. 

Nevertheless, it seems to work well enough to make this a significant and useful research tool. We tried searching for ‘Netherton Tunnel’, and immediately several sources came up, including an 1857 report in the Worcester Chronicle of an effort by the Birmingham Canal Company to borrow more money to complete the tunnel, and several reports in various local and national newspapers of the tunnel’s opening ceremony in 1858. 

Over the past year the digitisation team, based at the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, has been digitising up to 8,000 pages of historic newspapers each day. The project is eventually expected to scan up to 40million newspaper pages.

More recent 20th century newspapers may have to wait for agreements with rights-holders, but already this seems to be a useful tool. Until now, searching newspapers involved long days patiently scanning microfilm. 

Andrew Denny  | 6.19pm

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