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Tuesday 3 July

Olympic flame arrives at Foxton Locks

The Olympic torch came to Foxton Locks in Leicestershire on 2nd July. 

The torch bearer, Rob Gomez, a local cricket club chairman and charity fund raiser, travelled aboard the historic Cowburn & Cowpar working boat Swift, down and through one of the famous locks at Foxton, where he was met by Canal and River Trust chairman Tony Hales. 

Despite the wet weather a good crowd of local people gathered around Foxton Locks to welcome the torch to the waterways. 

Andrew Denny  | 4.12pm | add a comment

Staveley Basin Festival

Local residents flocked to the inaugural Staveley Canal Festival over the weekend of 30th June – 1st July at the new Staveley Town Basin, marking the current terminus of the five-mile restored section of the Chesterfield Canal. 

Geraint Coles, the development manager of the Chesterfield Canal Partnership, said it was expected to be an annual event, and marked the first time the basin had been put on the ‘public map’ since its official opening late last year. 

The Duke of Devonshire and George Wharmby, chair of Derbyshire County Council, jointly unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening, and the Duke went on to name the Trust’s brand new trip boat Hugh Henshall, the product of an award last year from the People’s Lottery.  

Canal stalwart John Lower had his narrowboat Madeley Wood craned into the basin so as to be able to cruise up to Chesterfield, and a Caraboat and large cruiser were launched using the new slipway.

A wide range of events entertained the local residents – the canoeing was particularly popular – who turned up in large numbers to see this latest addition to their canal scene.

Regular public boat trips operated to the Hollingwood Hub and a free heritage bus service was provided between Hollingwood, Staveley and the nearby Barrow Hill Round House which held a special steam weekend.

Staveley Basin, completed last year, has been developed as part of the Markham Vale regeneration project and will eventually incorporate start-up business units, training facilities, affordable cottages to rent and a bunk house for volunteers. It is planned that income generated by the development will support maintenance of the restored canal in future.

Above: Chair of Derbyshire County Council George Wharmby and the Duke of Devonshire (centre, L-R) unveil the plaque to commemorate the opening of Staveley Town Basin, 30th June 2012.

A model boat enthusiast sails his model schooner
at Staveley Canal Festival, 30th June 2012. 

Andrew Denny  | 3.06pm | 1 comment

Friday 29 June

Travellers' site application sparks fears about Lichfield Canal restoration

The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust has expressed fears that restoration of the Lichfield canal could be obstructed, after a family of 'travellers' bought a field on the line of the canal just south of the M6 Toll motorway – and put in planning permission for a caravan site. 

On 11th June local councillors rejected the application, saying it represented “inappropriate development … harmful to the openness and visual amenity of this green belt location.”

The field has already been cleared of vegetation by the family, and was to have been concreted over to provide standing areas for six mobile homes, two touring caravans, utility buildings and septic tanks. Other amenities, not mentioned in the application, would also have been required by law if permission had been granted. 

The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust was among the objectors, since the land lies directly on the line of the canal at the south end of the Lichfield canal aqueduct, installed when the M6 Toll was built. 

The site is also adjacent to where the famous ‘Staffordshire Hoard’ of Saxon treasures was discovered in 2009.  If permission had been granted, there were also fears that it might prevent a future Mercian visitor centre being built - or further archaeology taking place. 

In rejecting the application, little mention was made of the canal restoration. The canal restoration’s supporters now fear that a renewed bid could be made. it is reported that the local council may be short of its imposed target to make provision for travellers, so the decision is likely to go to appeal. This could lead to temporary permission for five years.

If it were to get approval, even temporary, the applicants would be ‘sitting pretty’ on the land. The canal trust fears that this could make restoration of the line up to Ogley Junction very problematic indeed.

The field at the end of the Lichfield aqueduct 
subject to a planning application for a traveller's camp site. The canal restoration would be made on an embankment at the end of the field, and would overlook the field.  

Andrew Denny  | 5.05pm | add a comment

Broads boaters encouraged to double moor

With the demand for mooring space far outstripping supply at many favourite Broads mooring sites, the Broads Authority is asking boaters to be more ready to share moorings.
Responding to feed-back from boat hirers that they sometimes have trouble finding moorings the Authority has identified 20 locations in the northern and southern Broads which are suited to double mooring.
Five free 24 hour moorings are being trialled in the northern Broads, and 15 in the southern Broads. They include Great Yarmouth Yacht Station, Norwich Yacht Station and Reedham Quay.
The moorings have been selected by taking into account the river width and strength of tides and new signs have been put up to encourage boaters to welcome others alongside.

The trial follows the Environment Agency’s successful 'Moor alongside' campaign on the River Thames to encourage boaters to moor alongside others.
Trudi Wakelin, Broads Authority Director of Operations, said: “New moorings can be very expensive and complex to get permissions. So one of the options we looked at to ease the pressure on mooring was to see which of our 63 moorings met our byelaw criteria for double mooring. We would encourage all boaters to be helpful and considerate to those who haven’t found a bank side mooring space and welcome them alongside.”
Tony Howes, Secretary of the Broads Hire Boat Federation, said that his members have been constantly reminded by hirers of the difficulty in finding mooring places at busy times on the Broads. 
He said: “This development should be very helpful if all boaters are made aware of the new rules.  We will shortly be distributing a notice for use at handover and in Skipper's Manuals to advise hirers of the opportunity to moor in this way - and the "etiquette" involved.”
Richard Card, Chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association(NSBA) which represents private boaters, said: "The NSBA's recent survey of members identified shortage of moorings as a major problem. It is being addressed but the solution will take time. 

"The Broads Authority's initiative in identifying locations where double mooring is possible is to be welcomed as a short term mitigation of the problem. We would encourage skippers to behave considerately by maximising the capacity of popular moorings while treating fellow boaters with courtesy." 

Double-moored boats at Great Yarmouth.

Andrew Denny  | 12.32pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Edinburgh Canal Festival launched this weekend local.stv.tv

    Once branded a 'derelict backwater', the waterway, linking from Edinburgh to Falkirk, has come a long way since its coal-transporting days of the 19th and early 20th century. ...But one group of enthusiasts, who have made it their aim to engage with canalside communities from Edinburgh Quay to Wester Hailes, have been singing its praises for the past eight years, and this Saturday, will transform the canal's Lochrin Basin into a waterside carnival. For the fourth year in a row, the Edinburgh Canal Festival will bring all the fun of the fair – on land and water-based – to celebrate the historic transport route....

  • Council steps in to save rotting Sutton Weaver swing bridge chesterchronicle.co.uk

    Cheshire West & Chester Council has agreed to pay £3.5m of the £4.5m cost of repairing the 90-year-old swing bridge over the River Weaver at Sutton Weaver. The cash will allow the re-strengthening required to enable the ageing bridge to cope in the future with its current 40-tonne vehicular weight restriction. “It has been a hard decision to make – particularly when money is so very tight – but the alternative is just not worth contemplating,” said Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for community and environment....

Thursday 28 June

Today's news from the web

  • Shock at rent demand for Neath Canal 'back gardens' thisissouthwales.co.uk

    A group of residents with property bordering the Neath Canal face being charged for going into what has effectively become part of their back gardens. They have been looking after a small stretch of land between their gardens and Neath Canal for decades. But now they have been sent letters asking them to pay an annual rent on the land. Around eight homeowners at Penydre have been asked to pay a yearly rent — between £50 and £250 — by the Neath Canal Navigation Company. Residents said they knew the land was not part of their property, but they had been the only ones maintaining it for decades, by cutting the grass and removing Japanese knotweed. Nicola and Jonathan Davies have been requested to pay £50 a year because they have constructed a paved area up to the edge of the canal. ...

Tuesday 26 June

Today's news from the web

  • Rochdale Canal remains blocked after floods waterwaynews.blogspot.co.uk

    The Rochdale Canal will remain closed for several more days following last Friday's flooding. There are also several blockages to the towpath. The most serious problem for boaters is a boat blocking the canal near Hebden Bridge. As river levels rose rapidly, a torrent of water flooded onto the canal below Lock 12. A section of towpath was ripped up by the water and a moored boat was torn from its mooring pins and carried half a mile down the canal. The boat was then swept onto an overspill weir and was left stranded across the canal, with its bow resting on the overspill weir and its stern embedded in the opposite bank. Fortunately there was no-one on board the boat at the time. British Waterways staff are assessing how the boat can be re-floated and the canal will remain closed to through navigation until this has been achieved....

  • C&O Canal boat soon to be destroyed and become history georgetowner.com

    The beloved Chesapeake & Ohio Canal boat, the Georgetown, is leaving us. The 19th-century style, mule-pulled, 90-foot cargo boat sits on blocks on the canal between 33rd and Thomas Jefferson Streets. Captivating visitors for a ride along the C&O Canal for decades, the boat has deteriorated and is deemed unsafe for passengers....

  • Queen and Duke watch river pageant google.com

    The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have watched a river pageant as they joined thousands of guests at a Diamond Jubilee garden party. The royal couple were applauded by guests and by several hundred people who gathered on the opposite banks to watch as they arrived by passenger steamer at the party in the grounds of Henley Business School near the picturesque town of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. More than 30 vessels including a Viking Boat crewed by University of Reading rowers featured in the flotilla celebrating the history of the River Thames....

  • Repairing Britain's damaged landscapes bbc.co.uk

    The Industrial Revolution, which made Britain the powerhouse of the world in the 19th Century, may have been consigned to the history books but it has left a legacy of environmental problems. Experts warn it continues to pollute drinking water, poison rivers and threaten flooding and in the process it fuels climate change and affects huge swathes of the modern landscape. The mining of lead, tin and other metals is thought to have contaminated nearly 2,000 miles of waterways. Estimated repair costs run into the hundreds of millions....

Tuesday 19 June

Google partners Canal & River Trust

The new Canal & River Trust has announced that Google will be one of its first partners when it launches on 12th July, according to a story first published in the Guardian today. Soon, Google Maps will be updated to allow users to plan journeys including bridges, locks and more than 2,000 miles of canal and river routes.

The project is being launched with the Canal and River Trust, which begins its stewardship of the nation's waterways on 12th July. 

Tony Hales, the chairman of the trust, said: "We are delighted that these exciting partners have come on board as we launch. This is a huge vote of confidence in the Canal and River Trust and recognition of the important role it will play as the guardian of one of the nation's environmental treasures."

Ed Parsons, a geospatial technologist at Google UK, said of the project: "Canal towpaths offer green routes through our towns and cities, and by working with the Canal and River Trust we're adding towpaths to Google Maps and encouraging people to discover their local waterway."

Andrew Denny  | 8.04am | add a comment

Monday 18 June

Today's news from the web

  • Bangladeshi boat race on Thames at Oxford draws hundreds oxfordtimes.co.uk

    A Bangladeshi boat race drew crowds to Donnington Bridge as rowers battled it out on the River Thames. Organiser Mohammed Mannan, from Cowley, hailed yesterday’s Falcon Rowing Club race a success. He said: “It went very well and it was very well attended. “There were about 600 or 700 people there and the weather was good as well, so everybody enjoyed it. “This was the fifth year and it is getting bigger and bigger every year. “Our community doesn’t have many opportunities to come together and have fun and it’s a chance to promote our culture.”...

  • Thames cable car opens for passengers on 28 June bbc.co.uk

    The new Thames cable car spanning the river in east London will open to the public at midday on 28 June. The Emirates Air Line will create a direct link between the 02 Arena in Greenwich and the ExCel exhibition centre and carry 2,500 people an hour. A single adult fare on the pay-as-you-go Oyster card will cost £3.20 while the cash fare will be £4.30, Transport for London (TfL) said. The service will operate through the week from 07:00 BST until 21:00...

  • Speech by John Dodwell at Lichfield & Hatherton AGM waterscape.com

    Speech given by John Dodwell, Canal & River Trust Trustee at the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s AGM on 15 June 2012 ...

Friday 15 June

IWA trailboat festival shows Cotswold Canals returning to life

The Cotswold Canal Trust's Perseverance and Wilts & Berks Canal Trust's Dragonfly were amongst some 30 boats at the IWA 2012 National Trailboat Festival, each providing boat rides for the public. The festival was part of the Stroud on Water event so that both canal enthusiasts and local families were drawn in and both were impressed with the pace of restoration with clear evidence of work recently completed or in progress.

Upstream of the festival site, at Bowbridge railway viaduct, where some of the line was lost to an A419 realignment, a fleet of earthmoving plant was parked above the excavated channel climbing up through one of the arches, the new line clearly established and apparently nearly ready for lock construction.

CCT members were still reflecting on the February visit in their 40th anniversary year by the Princess Royal to their new visitor centre. On that occasion she reopened Wallbridge Upper Lock and the distinctive new Stroud Brewery Bridge, taking the A46 over the canal near the centre of the town.

Downstream of Wallbridge Lower Lock, still to be addressed, a section of canal through to the festival site at Marling School had been dredged to full width only days before the event. This could be accessed down a steep ramp adjacent to a recent housing development.

Dudbridge Locks also need to be rebuilt but the large excavation alongside was to take a hydro turbine which can be earning over £2,000 per month while other restoration continues. It appears to have potential for use in reverse as a pump in a suggested water transfer scheme. From here the channel was fully restored for over two miles to the railway culvert west of Stonehouse and many minor obstructions had been removed just before the festival.

A floodgate at Ebley now protects the canal and local residents downstream from spates, excess water passing over a new weir and fish pass to the adjacent River Frome and the towpath being taken over a new lattice footbridge. Overtopping of the Dudbridge temporary bund on Saturday evening, following rain, led to concerns for its stability and the moored boats were moved to downstream of the Ebley floodgate although the bund held.

Another lattice footbridge gives access across the canal to Ebley residents beyond.
The staircase Ryeford Double Lock was not actually completed but was back in use for the festival, operated by CCT members who seemed to be working quite hard with the gleaming mechanisms. Adjusting them and finishing off the brickwork could follow after the crowds had gone home. At least they worked and were critical for getting craft from the steep temporary slipway at Stonehouse to the moorings at Dudbridge below the event site.

Ocean swing bridge, just short of the railway blockage below Stonehouse, was in place and in use for pedestrians but not yet swinging. To look at it, it seemed to want just the last of its wrapping paper removed.

In addition to all the canal work there was plenty of evidence of the towpath in various states of restoration in many places, even where the canal itself is still just a reedbed. All of this provides a service to local residents including those with no other interest in canals.

It was the boats decked out with even more bunting than elsewhere on this Jubilee weekend which brought home the message to many Stroud residents that their canal really is returning to life.

Stuart Fisher

Andrew Denny  | 4.29pm | add a comment

Beale Park Boat Show weathers the storms

The Beale Park Boat Show rode out the storms that lashed the Jubilee week, and produced another successful event considering the conditions. The Friday was going to be a wash-out, so the organisers sensibly decided not to open the show, as the ground was cutting up badly. Instead, with a sunny Saturday forecast, they emulated countless IWA nationals and bought in a huge lorry-load of straw. This was laid first thing Saturday morning, and when the crowds arrived, all was ready for them. Over 5000 people came through the gates, up on previous Saturdays, and the exhibitors were full of praise for the efforts of the staff.

Set in its idyllic location round a lake alongside one of the most beautiful stretches of the Thames, the show produced its usual eclectic mix of boats and boating activities, modern and old, expensive and affordable. 

Man-power, sail-power, steam-power and electric-power - every form of propulsion was there, including this year a remarkable competition for boats powered just by rechargeable electric drills. And before you look surprised, the fastest of these was running at over 8mph round the set course, powered by a V4 bank of Makita drills driving a home-designed underwater propeller. 

At the other end of the spectrum Consuta, the 52ft steam-powered umpire’s launch thundered, or more accurately swooshed its way across the lake. Built in 1898 by Sam Saunders at his nearby boatyard in Goring, Consuta was revolutionary for its construction, with four layers of 1/8th inch mahogany laid diagonally and stitched together with copper wires. The resulting monocoque hull with no frames, weighed just 3 tons, half that of similar craft, and had a top speed of 27mph, astonishing for the time.

But modern craft were also being exhibited, with a wide range of GRP day-boats and cruisers, for rivers or the sea, plus more traditional river launches and cruisers, and free river trips on one of Salter’s passenger boats.

Emrhys Barrell

The Beale Park Boat Show this year included a competition to
power boats using only Makita electric drills.

Boat show regular John Ross once again appeared with his classic decorated Mirror Dinghy Elizabeth Rose, this year decorated appropriate in a jubilee theme. 

Andrew Denny  | 3.42pm | add a comment

Sad end to "Dunkirk Little Ship" at Teddington Lock

A boat said to have been a Dunkirk Little Ship was torn apart and sank last night near Teddington Lock.  The boat, called 'Tantalus' was heading past the lock and up the weirstream, where the 'red boards' were out warning boaters not to navigate in flood conditions. 

It was reported that they needed to tie up in an emergency and got a stern rope to a pontoon, but the current swiftly spun them round and tore the whole stern off the boat, causing it to sink rapidly.

Two people and two cats were rescued. Luckily the Teddington lifeboat was based only 100 yards away and was quickly able to rescue the two people and two cats aboard. 

At time of writing it has not been confirmed that this was the Dunkirk Little Ship originally called Jovial, but later renamed Tantalus.

Andrew Denny  | 12.55pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • East London’s Waterway Cultural Revolution waterwaysforward.wordpress.com

    As the world turns its gaze to London’s East End this summer for the 2012 London Olympics, there’s a cultural revolution happening along its waterways. The Olympic Stadium dominates the view from the pontoon terrace of the Counter Café. This warehouse gallery and the Carlton Café are two of the creative spaces to be found along the waterways of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, London. Once empty warehouses and merchants’ yards now teem with people re-visiting waterways heritage sites put to new uses. ... At the Royal Docks, where the canals meet the Thames, a huge project to resurrect canals (londonpleasuregardens.com), will be completed in the heart of the Olympic East End....

  • Lessons learned on the 2012 Grand Union Canal Race, from the winner. debsonrunning.blogspot.co.uk

    A hundred lessons learned by Debbie Martin-Consani on this year's Grand Union Canal Race, which she won outright on her first attempt. The 146 miles from Birmingham to London - not just first woman, but first overall, in 28 hours. ...

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