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Monday 10 July

Today's news from the web

  • Tavistock Canal Poetry Trail restored to its former glory okehampton-today.co.uk

    The poetry trail along Tavistock Canal has been restored to its former glory thanks to a few dedicated local residents. Poetry for the trail was created in 2012 by pupils at Tavistock Community College but parts had become shabby and worn away over time. In order to bring the trail back to life, local resident Jane Miller spent six months renewing the area, with the help of artist Gary Hammond and poet James Crowden....

Tuesday 16 May

Today's news from the web

  • Erie Canal locktenders honored at Lockport ceremony niagara-gazette.com

    Hundreds of residents and local officials honored the some 120 volunteer locktenders Saturday afternoon for their role in supporting the city's historic heritage, tourism and economic development. The ceremony featured the first Flight of Five locks demonstration of the season and the first with the city's new boat, The Erie Traveler. Before the tribute, volunteer locktender David Chatt received the 12th annual Key to the Locks award....

Friday 12 May

Today's news from the web

  • Police seize scrambler bike after it is raced on Sale canal path at high speed messengernewspapers.co.uk

    A scrambler bike was seized by police after it was spotted being driven at high speed along the canal path in Sale yesterday afternoon. An officer was called to the canal bank close to Sale Waterside around noon on Wednesday May 10. He blocked the canal path and stopped the scrambler and the young man driving the bike fled on foot. “The rider had no thought for other pedestrians and children at around midday on the narrow canal path,” said a spokesperson for GMP Trafford South. “The bike was seized and is most likely going to be crushed.” Police are urging anyone who sees off road bikes to report them to 101, providing as much description as you can for the rider and the bike....

Wednesday 10 May

Today's news from the web

  • Body of dog tied to bags of cement is found in L&L canal liverpoolecho.co.uk

    A dog with a bag of cement tied round its neck was discovered in the Leeds & Liverpool canal in Bootle. The body of a male Staffordshire bull terrier - with a rucksack filled with bags of cement tied around its neck - was pulled from the canal in Litherland Road on Saturday. The RSPCA has launched an investigation after vets at Greater Manchester Animal Hospital concluded he died from strangulation. It is not clear whether the dog was alive when he was thrown into the canal but the vets believe he had been in good health as he had short nails - which indicate he was being walked - and a post mortem revealed he had eaten before death....

Monday 8 May

Today's news from the web

  • As house prices rise, would you buy a home on the water? thisismoney.co.uk

    Rising property prices are encouraging many thwarted homebuyers to look at boats as an affordable alternative. They are cheaper to buy and purchases are free from stamp duty. But living aboard a canal boat is not always as idyllic as you might imagine. There are maintenance issues, mooring costs and insurance problems. ...

Thursday 4 May

Today's news from the web

  • Adventurous narrowboat gets stuck leaving Bude thepost.uk.com

    There was some commotion at Bude Sea Lock recently, when the narrowboat, Orbis, became stuck in the low tide when trying to leave for Bristol. On Thursday, April 20, Vicki and Lee Bond were planning on heading back to Bristol after spending a year moored up at Bude Canal, but their narrowboat, Orbis, became beached on a sand bar on its way out of the lock....

Tuesday 2 May

Today's news from the web

  • Liveaboards to the rescue after tree blocks Kennet & Avon Canal bathchronicle.co.uk

    Chainsaw-wielding narrowboat dwellers at Avoncliff came to the rescue of holidaymakers on the Kennet and Avon Canal who found their path blocked by a fallen tree. High winds had felled the tree late Sunday morning, blocking the canal. But local live-aboard boaters were quick to dispose of the obstruction with chainsaws. ...

  • How did terrapins end up in the Huddersfield canal? examiner.co.uk

    Laura Foleher spotted a pair of terrapins basking in the sun on the canal bank at Fartown. “I have not seen them before but have been told they were spotted last year and have grown bigger,” said Laura. The most likely scenario is that they were indeed dumped, according to Deberah Tate who runs Reptilia Reptile Rescue, based in Ossett. Deberah said terrapins were classed as an invasive species under an European Union regulation which made it illegal from January 2015 to sell your terrapin or to release it into the wild. “That’s why so many are being dumped because people have nowhere to take them,” she said. “We are not allowed to take them as the EU has ruled that they are an invasive species.” ...

Thursday 27 April

Today's news from the web

  • Parents welcome real ‘water baby’ born on canal boat in Bedford bedfordtoday.co.uk

    A river narrow boat is the last place you would expect to want to give birth – but it was the first choice for new mum Bethan Williams. Her canal boat home became a makeshift maternity ward for the birth of baby daughter Matilda – for what’s believed to have been the first ever birth at Bedford’s Priory Marina where the boat is moored. Read more at: http://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news/parents-welcome-real-water-baby-born-on-canal-boat-in-bedford-1-7935463...

Friday 21 April

Today's news from the web

  • Bridgewater Canal user complains of 'ridiculous amount of enforcement activity' warringtonguardian.co.uk

    A Bridgewater Canal user fears 'boating activity' on the waterway at Lymm is at risk due to 'a ridiculous amount of enforcement activity'. The 39-mile waterway, which connects Runcorn, Manchester and Leigh, is owned by Bridgewater Canal Company Ltd and currently employs two enforcement officers. However, Chris Pilgram, who has had a boat on the canal for more than 20 years, said there is now a 'lack of boating activity' because of a management change. "Since that time there has been a ridiculous amount of enforcement activity, such as pestering boaters to move off the towpath even when they are causing no problems," he said. "Canal and River Trust (CRT) licence holders are chased off the canal after seven days with no return for a month. So they don't come....

  • Clay cored dam plans for Stover Canal middevonadvertiser.co.uk

    Volunteers restoring the historic Stover Canal are ploughing ahead with their latest plans to attract visitors and walkers. The Stover Canal Trust has submitted plans to create a new clay cored dam and improvements to facilities for visitors. It wants to create a an ‘interesting and attractive’ new focal point at the head of the canal. The proposals follow the completion of the Stover Canal Trail by Devon County Council in 2015 which is used by cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and runs parallel to the northern half of the canal....

  • Mon & Brec towpath users in pot hole misery abergavennychronicle.com

    Potholes on the canal towpath near Gilwern are creating such a hazard for cyclists and users of mobility scooters that one local resident has called on MP David Davies to take up the issue with the Canal and River Trust. Ironically, the problem seems to be a direct consequence of the canal network’s recent rise in popularity as a tourist destination....

  • Nice story of a replica based on a model basic on a historic US canal boat indeonline.com

    The boat — St. Helena II — has become a symbol of Canal Fulton as it has been nearly 60 years since the replica was constructed. The boat has undergone restoration in the past and is seeing some new changes now. Earlier this month, work began to give the St. Helena II a “cosmetic facelift,” said City Manager Mark Cozy....

Tuesday 18 April

Today's news from the web

  • London's new affordable neighborhood: The canals wdef.com

    London’s meandering canals look like an oasis on a sunny spring afternoon, but increasingly they’re a last resort for many who say the city has left them nowhere else to go. Andy Winter is among hundreds of people who, unable to make ends meet in the capital, gave up life in an apartment to live on a narrow boat, reports CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti from London....

Monday 10 April

Today's news from the web

  • Events proposed to celebrate 200 years of the Caledonian Canal & Inverness Highland Games pressandjournal.co.uk

    The bicentenaries of the opening of the Caledonian Canal and the staging of the first Highland Games in Inverness will fall in the same month in 2022. Ideas are now being explored by local authority officials in the Highlands who are keen to mark the occasions in some way. They are considering ways to link the celebrations to the “Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters” in 2020 and the “Year of Scotland’s Stories” in 2022. Tourism agency VisitScotland confirmed the plans for the two “themed years” last month. Proposals are expected to be drawn up by Highland Council’s events team “in the months ahead”....

Sunday 9 April

Today's news from the web

  • London boat-dwellers unite in protest against 'draconian' clampdown on continuous cruisers hackneycitizen.co.uk

    A clampdown on cruising boaters by the UK’s canal regulator was criticised as ‘draconian’ by boat-dwellers at a Towpath Gathering on Hackney’s Regent’s Canal on Sunday. A floating marketplace and stages carrying jugglers, singers and performers lined the towpath along Victoria Park to celebrate those who live on the waterways and their way of life. But the gathering also aimed to raise awareness about the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) plans to clampdown on boaters with continuous cruiser licences who “do not move often enough”....

  • Walkers on Rochdale Nine at night could face £100 fine manchestereveningnews.co.uk

    People could face fines if they walk down the 'Rochdale Nine' locks in central Manchester at night. The towpath, between Dale Street and Auburn Street, has already been closed off between 10pm and 7am. But from April 24 people who ignore than ban could be fined up to £100 and face a court summons. At least five people have died in the area over the last few years. Now it is hoped that a public space protection order, a geographically defined version of an anti social behaviour order, will prevent future incidents....

Thursday 6 April


“We cannot sit back and allow the hard-won progress of the last 60 years to be reversed”

EA’s threat to close some Anglian waterways requires urgent action, says IWA chairman Les Etheridge

A boat having obvious difficulty navigating Salters Lode Sluice, which gives access to the Old Bedford River. (MICHAEL DANES)

Back in 2015, the Inland Waterways Association relaunched its campaign to get parliamentarians to agree to redress the missed opportunity from three years earlier, when the Environment Agency’s navigation responsibilities were retained by the government agency and not transferred to the Canal & River Trust, along with those of British Waterways.

Since then there has been encouraging progress, not least in the creation of a joint CRT and EA working group to examine the problem areas that will need to be resolved to enable a transfer to take place.

But now we appear to have reached a tipping point, and hard decisions need to be taken that will allow the transfer to move forward. If politicians lose their will now the discussions will collapse again, with potentially disastrous consequences for EA waterways.

Closing navigations

When we began our current campaign 18 months or so ago, we highlighted the fact that EA’s budget for capital expenditure on navigation had slumped from £10.7m in 2012/13 to just £3.5m in 2014/15, with further cuts expected. We warned then of the increasing risk of navigation closures, and the false economies of deferring maintenance on locks and other structures for the sake of short-term savings.

Now it seems our worst fears are being realised, with EA officials on the transfer working group talking about closing navigations due to lack of funds.

We see these latest developments as a totally unacceptable breach of the government’s responsibilities and obligations, and a complete vindication of our campaign to rescue EA navigations from a spiral of neglect.

We are extremely wary of EA’s statement that “there is no immediate risk of closure to any Anglian Waterway navigations”, as we see how many navigations have already been closed by the agency in recent years and remain so, including the lower River Stour, the upper River Ancholme and the Forty Foot Drain. In addition, the Old Bedford River is mostly unnavigable due to lack of maintenance. What is the agency’s definition of “immediate risk”?

Government indifference

We are also alarmed by some of the responses offered by the current waterways minister, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra, Thérèse Coffey, to questions asked in the House of Commons by David Mackintosh MP in February, and we have written to her to seek reassurance on several items.

A number of her statements completely ignore the fact that EA has a statutory obligation under Section 8 of the Anglian Waterways Authority Act 1977 to maintain the main navigable channels and navigation works for recreational navigation. We say that government agencies have no right to ignore laws that are inconvenient, and should be held to account.

Invoking the all-embracing “health and safety reasons”, Dr. Coffey makes light of EA having “temporarily closed some assets such as locks and landing stages, that have made some waterways difficult to access for some craft”.

The Horseway Channel, viewed from Welches Dam Lock looking towards Horseway Lock.(ALISON SMEDLEY)

Some of these closures have, in effect, made whole lengths of waterway inaccessible, such as Harlem Hill Lock on the River Ancholme, where the top 2 miles of navigation have been cut off since the lock was closed for an inspection in 2012.

And it gets worse. Welches Dam Lock in Cambridgeshire – a key route from the Middle Level to the Great Ouse – was closed without notice in 2006 by EA, which piled the lock entrance and made passage by boats impossible. Eleven years later, EA has still not agreed either to restore the lock itself or allow the voluntary sector to restore it. Temporary closure?

Back to the dark days

It’s not only the declining budgets, under pressure from the political whims and shifting priorities of government, that are a depressing throwback to the bad old days of British Waterways, which IWA fought so hard to change. Even the rhetoric is similar.

In the 1950s and ’60s, government attempted to close waterways on the basis of lack of use, conveniently disregarding the fact that it was government that had allowed them to become unusable. Today’s minister seeks to reassure that EA “will consider” (no guarantees there!) reopening closed navigable waterways “depending on the amount of future funding available and the importance [of the waterway to be reopened], such as the level of use”.

Sound familiar? IWA has never accepted “level of use” as an excuse for closures. These are important national assets that bring a host of benefits to the communities and regions through which they flow. We cannot sit back and allow the hard-won progress of the last 60 years to be reversed.


As long as we have had inland navigations – be they rivers or canals – directly funded by government, the resulting penny-pinching and ultimate deterioration always seems the same.

Our preferred solution remains that EA waterways are transferred, with a sufficient and suitable funding package, to the stewardship of CRT. But we are also calling on the minister to ensure that, whether or not the transfer is achieved, the waterways receive the increased funding they need from government to halt the progressive deterioration that is currently taking place. A return to the budget levels of 2012/13 would be a good start.

You can download the magazine page of this article.

Bobby Cowling  | 8.00am | add a comment

Monday 27 March

Today's news from the web

  • Georgetown Heritage georgetownheritage.org

    A plan to restore the first mile of America's historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Washington's poshest neighbourhood could kickstart US historic canal restoration: "Our first priority is to restore and revitalize the mile-long section of the C&O Canal that runs through Georgetown. It is a unique and beloved piece of our neighborhood’s – and America’s – history. It is a gateway into the story of our industrial past, and a place for exercise, recreation, and reflection." ...

  • NY canal system set to open in May; no tolls for boaters lockportjournal.com

    State officials have announced the opening date for the New York State Canal System, which will be free for recreational boaters this year. State officials say to commemorate the bicentennial there will be no tolls or fees for recreational use of the canal system this year....

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