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Tuesday 8 May

Wilts & Berks restoration reaches Pewsham locks

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust celebrated another milestone over the May Day bank holiday, with the official reopening of 175 yards of the waterway between Melksham and Chippenham. The event coincided with a five-mile sponsored walk by the Trust, between Chippenham and Lacock on the line of the canal, to raise funds for restoration. 

The latest advance takes the Wilts & Berks as far as Pewsham Bottom Lock, just east of Chippenham, putting just over a mile in water on this section since last year. 

The latest excavation operation was largely funded by a £5,774 grant from the Gannett Foundation. Trust volunteers have given thousands of hours of their own time to provide most of the labour – removing roots, raising and widening the towpath, and rebuilding the wharf wall at the foot of the locks. Other improvements include the installation of new information boards, birdboxes, batboxes and benches, as well as the planting of hundreds of trees.
Trust chairman John Laverick said: “We have been able to extend the rewatered section to include the wharf where narrowboats would wait for their turn to enter the flight. There is still an earth dam separating the newly-restored stretch from the longer line of canal opened last year, to protect against any unexpected leaks, but we expect this to be removed within the next few weeks.

“With the stretch between Melksham and Chippenham being extended further every year, our dream of a fully restored canal is steadily becoming a reality.”
Much of the current cost has been met from local grants and donations, but the charity hopes to secure more funding from national bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.

As with the K&A, supporters believe it will generate a multi-million pound boot to the local economy through increased tourism and employment, as well as providing a popular attraction for walkers and cyclists.
For further information on the local restoration campaign, visit www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk, or the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust website, www.wbct.org.uk, for the whole waterway. 

Below: (L-R) Peter Williams, Duncan Hames MP, John Laverick and Rob Jones ceremonially cut the ribbon opening the latest stretch of Wilts & Berks Canal 

Below: Excavation of the latest stretch below Pewsham Bottom Lock in progress earlier this year 

Andrew Denny  | 3.09pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Cycling the Kennet and Avon canal - Britain's best bike rides guardian.co.uk

    The Guardian lists the K&A as "Britain's most popular long-distance waterside cycle route."...

  • Edinburgh to Falkirk on the Union canal guardian.co.uk

    Scotland's Union canal stretches from Edinburgh to Falkirk, tracing contours around the hills it passes. The towpath starts a few minutes from the castle. The scenery is industrial as the trail leaves the historic city, but soon opens out into a beautiful, scenic ride, passing over spectacular aqueducts and under pretty bridges, through the towns of Broxburn and Linlithgow with its palace, to Falkirk...

  • Crowds flock to view restoration work on North Walsham & Dilham Canal eveningnews24.co.uk

    Hundreds of people descended on a mill pond in remote north Norfolk at the weekend to learn more about work to restore the county’s only canal. Up to 400 people visited Ebridge Mill pond as part of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the Act of Parliament which allowed the North Walsham and Dilham Canal to be built. ...

  • Cam narrowboater fine after 'river rage' attack on rowers cambridge-news.co.uk

    A river rage attack in Cambridge ended with two rowers assaulted by a narrowboat owner, who beat one with a broom handle. The riparian peace of the River Cam was shattered when Craig Darbyshire, 58, set upon the rowing coaches. An eight heading towards Cambridge was hailed to come alongside an embankment wall near Elizabeth Bridge to allow a narrowboat to pass and to receive instructions from their coaches. Darbyshire, who was skippering his narrowboat Pyxis, collided with one of the rowing crew’s blades, breaking it. He started to shout at the rowers and they asked him to calm down, saying it was only an accident....

  • Dream of restoring Wilts & Berks canal slowly becoming a reality thisisbath.co.uk

    A canal which has been filled with water for the first time in 100 years has edged another step closer to the biggest town on its route. A mile of the Wilts & Berks canal was restored last year between Lacock and Chippenham, and already this year the volunteers have advanced another 160 metres towards the foot of Pewsham Locks....

Sunday 6 May

Today's news from the web

  • Firefighters' weir boat rescue on Avon at Keynsham thisisbristol.co.uk

    Firefighters were called to the River Avon after a 30ft narrow boat carrying three people got stuck on a fast flowing weir in Keynsham. Crews from Brislington, Bedminster, Bath and Keynsham went to Avon Mill Lane at 3pm yesterday to find the boat stuck on the weir between two pubs – the Brassmill and the Lock Keeper – located on opposing sides of the river. The boat had got stuck on the weir coming round the corner and was in difficulty because of the high water level and fast flowing water....

Saturday 5 May

Today's news from the web

  • Regeneration of Marsworth Junction canal wharf gets approval bucksherald.co.uk

    Approval has been given for a waterside residential development on the Grand Union Canal at Marsworth Junction. The application by British Waterways was for the building of 12 new dwellings and the conversion of the former carpenter’s workshop to provide a total of 13 new dwellings with new and upgraded boater’s facilities, a retained and refurbished crane, minor access improvements, parking and landscaping. Work is not expected to start on the site until next spring, although this date could be brought forward....

Friday 4 May

BW changes Olympics mooring policy

BW has announced significant concessions to continuously cruising boats on the London canals during the Olympic Games.  Up to 250 new ‘summer mooring licences’ are being offered at £360, allowing the 'London boaters' to stay in one place in the north London Controlled Zone, for the entire ten-week period it operates, 3rd July to 19th September.

The Controlled Zone comprises the Regent’s Canal from Little Venice to Commercial Road Lock, the whole of the Hertford Union Canal, the Lee Navigation south of Lea Bridge Road, Limehouse Cut and Limehouse Basin.  

Previously the Olympic moorings for this zone were all being sold at premium prices. In some locations (for example, Victoria Park in Hackney) the £360 would have bought a only a single week for a full-length narrowboat. Take-up of these premium licences has been limited: by late April, a year after the automatic bookings website was opened, BW said it had sold only half of the 700 spaces on offer. 

At time of writing BW had still not announced what services were being offered to the boats, although it has also announced a 'Floating Market' of boat-based businesses at concessionary rates. 

“Given the economic situation and the potential water resource issues we are happy with this level of booking,” said Jason Leach, head of the Olympic Programmes team.

Immediately outside the Controlled Zone, continuous cruising rules will be relaxed in two areas  – on the Paddington Arm and on the Lee between Lea Bridge Road and Enfield Lock.  Here, boats can moor for free for the whole 10-week period.

However only boats recorded as being in the London area during the last national boat check are eligible for the £360 summer licence or the free 10-week licence. Continuous cruisers from outside London who want to come for the games will be refused the latest concession, and must pay for any of the remaining premium moorings. 

In the meantime, BW has taken down the bookings web site; boaters wishing to book the remaining spaces will need to call the Olympics Moorings office direct on 020 7985 7200.   

BW said that boaters who had already booked and paid for the premium moorings were being given the opportunity to downgrade to the Summer Licence if they wished, or given a complete refund if they changed their mind and did not wish to come.  

Andrew Denny  | 2.57pm | add a comment

Thursday 3 May

Official mascot announced in Canal & River Trust 'top dog' competition

A Welsh springer spaniel called Jasper has been chosen as the new canine ‘face’ of the Canal and River Trust (CRT) at its launch this summer.

Jasper, the pet of Ray and Sue Hasmall, is the winner of a competition to find a canal-loving canine to lead a marketing campaign for the new charity when it launches later this year.

Around 1,000 photographs were submitted to the competition on the Flickr photo-sharing website, featuring “dogs enjoying their time on the 2,000-miles of canal and river towpaths in England and Wales.”

Jasper’s photograph, taken on the Avon Ring during a family boating holiday in 2011, was chosen as the winner as the judges felt it was a bright, well-composed photograph and Jasper looked happy and alert and clearly enjoying himself on the water. 

A professional animal photographer is now headed to Jasper’s home at Church Lawton, on the Trent & Mersey canal, “to capture his enthusiasm for waterway walkies,” as the British Waterways press release explains. 

Runners up in the competition were:
  • Bailey, a Jack Russell/King Charles cross, belonging to Carole Sims and partner Sid from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire.
  • Paddy, a 20-month-old Irish Terrier belonging to Ken Downes and Catherine Piper from Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
  • Baker, a border collie belonging to  Sarah McGarraghy on the Trent & Mersey Canal.
Jasper is likely to be a key figure in the Canal & River Trust’s publicity when it launches, including as a ‘poster dog’ in the fight against ‘dog dirt’.  
Tony Hales, the first chairman of the Canal & River Trust, said: “As we move forward we also hope that dog walkers will help us stamp out dog fouling on our towpaths which is inconsiderate and unpleasant and together help us continue to make strides in creating an attractive canal environment.”

The Trust said the Flickr competition has proved so popular that they have set up a Facebook group, Canal & River Dog Walkers, giving people the chance to continue to share their waterside dog pictures and favourite walking routes.

Andrew Denny  | 4.10pm | add a comment

Breydon Water responsibility transferred to Broads Authority

The Broads Authority has finally agreed with the Great Yarmouth Port Company to take over responsibility for boats on Breydon Water and the Lower Bure. The move becomes official on 1st June 2012, and brings the entire Broads area under a single navigation authority.


Breydon Water is within the Broads Authority’s boundary. However, when the Authority was established in 1989, responsibility for navigation remained with the Great Yarmouth Port Authority which now delegates most of its day to day responsibilities to the Great Yarmouth Port Company.


Breydon Water and the Lower Bure are the vital link between the northern part of the Broads and the rivers Yare and Waveney, which are also within the Broads Authority’s boundary. For some time the present arrangement has been regarded as an anomaly, since boaters would have to cross the stretch under a separate navigation authority to reach other sections. 

Informal agreement between the Broads Authority and the Great Yarmouth Port Authority was reached on the transfer in 2005 and legislation passed in June 2009. 


"Breydon Water is the trickiest part of the Broads to cross – particularly for novice hirers on holiday. A single navigation authority for the whole of the Broads will provide a consistent approach," said a spokesman for the  Broads Authority. "Under the current arrangements we already provide a launch with two Rangers to patrol the area in the boating season. We could now make this a year-round operation."


The prime aim of the 2009 Broads Authority Act was to improve safety on the Broads, and the transfer of the Breydon Water area and lower reaches of the River Bure is the last major element of this legislation to be implemented.  

Andrew Denny  | 11.17am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Arsonists destroy Loughborough canal clean-up group's boat loughboroughecho.net

    Volunteers of a Loughborough group which worked tirelessly to clear the canal of rubbish say they are devastated after their boat was set alight by arsonists last night (Wednesday, May 2). Clear Cut Conservation (CCC) was set up in February 2010 to keep the canal and waterways tidy and they beat off fierce competition to win a £3,000 donation from the 3M and Loughborough Echo awards in March 2010, which the team used to buy a boat. Since then they have gone out every week depending on the weather and their efforts have been recognised both locally and nationally. But work must now come to a sudden halt after thieves broke into their base at the Peter le Marchant Trust, off Beeches Road, and stole the boats engine before setting alight to the boat itself....

  • Boat rescue for ill man stuck on narrow boat following Tewkesbury floods thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    An ILL man, drifting in and out of consciousness, was rescued after being stuck on his narrow boat because of flood water in Tewkesbury. Paramedics from Great Western Ambulance Service were unable to reach the man on board the vessel at the back of Abbey Mill. Crews from Tewkesbury fire station launched their rescue boat from the Avon and took him safely ashore....

  • Hereford & Gloucester Canal's Dymock development recommended for refusal thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Proposals for 20 new homes, 15 of which would be affordable, around a remodelled section of the canal in Dymock have been recommended for refusal. Councillors will have the final say on Tuesday but planning officers will tell them the scheme is in conflict with several local and national policies. ...

  • Dredging a hot topic in Gloucester thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    British Waterways organised a dredging forum at its city office in the Docks on Tuesday, with city councillors, boatsman, and enthusiasts all in attendance. Simon Bamford, from British Waterways, fielded a number of questions about the dredging at the Docks, mainly about silt levels. He said: "Sedimentation in the Docks has been far greater this year and last than it has ever been before....

  • Avon Vale group of K&A Trust nominated for Waterways Renaissance award thisiswiltshire.co.uk

    The Devizes-based Avon Vale Group of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, who restored a sunken boat to help keep the Kennet and Avon Canal spruced up, have been nominated for a Waterways Renaissance award. The group – John Kirby, John Peters, Adrian Softley and Rod Hannah, all from the Devizes area – joined up five years ago as a volunteer work squad to clear the canal’s banks of excess vegetation....

Wednesday 2 May

Waterways Renaissance Awards shortlist announced

The Waterways Trust has announced the shortlist for the 2012 Waterways Renaissance Awards.  This year 29 projects bound up with canals and rivers in the UK have been shortlisted, including education programmes, innovative design and construction schemes, pioneering environmental initiatives and dedicated volunteers.

This is the tenth year of the awards, designed to recognise and reward exceptional projects that have turned inland waterways into desirable places for living, learning and leisure.

The finalists for the 12 categories are:

• A11 Bow Riverside Footbridge & Walkway, London

• Avon Vale, Devizes

• Bath Bridges & Chimney Restoration, Bath

• Beam Parklands, Dagenham

• Bedford Waterspace Study, Bedford

• Canals for the Community, Stoke on Trent

• Dewsbury Waterways, Dewsbury

• Droitwich Canals Restoration, Worcestershire

• Dutton Upper Horse Bridge, Northwich

• Edinburgh Union Canal Strategy, Edinburgh

• Education through Restoration, Cefn Flight of 14 Locks, Newport

• Granary Wharf, Leeds

• Heritage Boatyard & the Restoration of Mendip, Ellesmere Port

• Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail, Hampshire

• Kings Cross Central Canal Fund, London

• Ladywell Fields, Lewisham

• Lagan Legacy, Belfast

• Langley Mill Swingbridge, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire

• Leeds Waterfront Festival, Leeds

• Long Preston Deeps River Restoration, Settle

• On the Waterfront, Beauchamp Floating Classroom, London

• Revitalisation of the Monkland Canal, Glasgow

• River Nene Infrastructure Improvements, Peterborough

• Spalding Waterspace Study, Lincolnshire

• The Peace Bridge, Derry/Londonderry

• Tregaron Flood Alleviation Project, Ceredigion

• Wallbridge Project, Stroud

• Waterways Action Squad, North West England

• White Cart Water Flood Prevention Scheme, Glasgow

Roger Hanbury, chief executive of the awards, said: "It is truly inspiring to see that, even in these very challenging economic times, people and organisations  are continuing to work together to realise the benefits of our canals and rivers for communities across the UK. All projects reaching the finalist stage should be justifiably proud of all that they have achieved."

The awards categories are: Area-Based Regeneration, Community, Design/Construction, Education/Learning, Flood Risk Management, Historic Environment, Innovation, Natural Environment, Partnership, Recreation/Tourism, Strategy, and Masterplanning/Volunteering.

The 2012 Waterways Renaissance Awards are sponsored by CPC Civils, Galliford Try and Hyder Consulting and May Gurney. The winners will be announced at the ICC in Birmingham on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012.

Andrew Denny  | 12.42pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Thames Cleeve Lock cottage rental ‘dashed’ by access road issues getreading.co.uk

    A couple claim they have been left in the lurch after a blunder by the Environment Agency (EA) and a letting agent blocked their dream to move into a lockkeepers’ cottage on the River Thames. Ian Forsyth and his partner Gill McBlhenny had agreed to rent the cottage at Cleeve Lock in Oxfordshire just upstream from Streatley and on the opposite bank to Goring. ... The couple were on the verge of signing a contract with letting agents Lesters when they spotted a clause about restricted access which led to the EA immediately retracting its offer. After further discussion they discovered it referred to a privately owned track off the A329 Wallingford Road which meant they had no way of getting to the cottage by car....

  • House of Lords cross-examine BW directors kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk

    Five liveaboard boaters attended the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee on 24 April, to observe Robin Evans, the BW Chief Executive; Nigel Johnson, BW’s Legal Director, and Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP being cross-examined by the Committee about the Draft British Waterways (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012. The boaters observing included Frank Kelly, who stood for election to the Canal and River Trust Council, and Nick Brown, Legal Officer of the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA), who sent this report:...

  • Race to get river ready in time for Queen's Jubilee Pageant server1.pla.co.uk

    Port of London Authority (PLA) crews are hard at work laying over three miles of mooring chains for vessels taking part in the Thames river pageant being held on 3 June to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Almost 10,000 feet of chain – the length of 267 original Routemaster double-decker London buses parked end to end – is being used to construct special moorings in Barn Elms Reach, between Putney Bridge and the Harrod’s Depository near Hammersmith Bridge....

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