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Tuesday 1 May

Bishop’s water journey for WaterAid

The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, is travelling this week aboard a narrowboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Thames as a way of ‘getting to know his patch’ and encouraging the clergy in Berkshire to take time out from their busy lives. Each evening he will hold a service in nearby churches to which everyone is welcome.

His journey began in Newbury on Monday 30th April, in the west of his diocese, and will end in Windsor in the east a week later. He will be accompanied by his wife Dr Janice Proud and his chaplain for the week, the Revd Graeme Fancourt. Along the way he hopes to raise money for WaterAid in Ethiopia – where he served as a bishop before moving to Reading a year ago.

“The Area I serve is vast, and its shape makes it very difficult for us to feel connected to each other,” says Bishop Andrew.

“A year into my time here, I decided I wanted to do something to bring as many of us together as possible, to help me understand the Area better. I’m hoping this will be a chance for us to draw breath and reflect on the fast pace of our life in Berkshire.”

Bishop Andrew is encouraging as many people as possible to join him for the evening services in their locality. "Please help me to make the best of this pilgrimage," he says. "Please prayer for us, that we shall all be touched by the renewing love of the God."

Andrew Denny  | 4.52pm | add a comment

Northampton Boat Gathering postponed

The irony of too much rain – rather than too little – has caused the postponement of next weekend’s Northampton Boat Gathering, on the River Nene at Becket’s Park.

Earlier this month it had been feared the Gathering would be curtailed because of drought restrictions preventing boaters from coming via the Northampton arm of the Grand Union. Then agreement was reached with British Waterways to allow the event to go ahead with a provisional six-day opening of the Arm.


But now the heavy rains have led to flood conditions on the River Nene, closing it to navigation and stopping river-based boats downstream of Northampton from reaching Becket’s Park.

The Northampton branch of the IWA has organised the Gathering for many years. The branch’s chairman, Bernard Morton, said: “We’ve decided to postpone the event until later this year, probably until the August Bank Holiday weekend. By that time we hope the water shortage situation on the canals will have been resolved – and this would  allow many more canal-based boats to get to Northampton, resulting in a bumper Gathering.”

Highlighting the dangers of the swelling river last weekend, over a thousand holidaymakers were evacuated from the nearby Billing Aquadrome and Cogenhoe Mill riverside camping sites, as a ‘precautionary measure’.

Andrew Denny  | 1.26pm | add a comment

'Diagonal lock' campaigner calls for BCN museum

Engineer and waterways campaigner Terry Fogarty has proposed a plan to set up a museum in Birmingham dedicated to the canals of the city, and the role they have played in its development.

Surprisingly, the ‘Second City’ doesn’t have its own canal museum, despite being at the heart of Britain’s waterways.  

Terry, who has been promoting his own invention of the ‘diagonal lock’ for almost decade, believes a museum could be located alongside the Camp Hill Locks at Bordesley, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Birmingham Canal navigations.

“I haven’t got a specific building in mind for the museum, but there are plenty of disused buildings that could serve the purpose,” he said.  “The area around the Camp Hill flight is badly neglected and discourages boaters as well as tourists. A museum would act as a focus for development and improvements.

Another suggested location for a BCN museum has been at the old (and long-closed) ‘Fiddle & Bone’ pub, near Brindley Place. However, he criticises that as too central, losing the opportunity to regenerate the area around Camp Hill, at Acock’s Green and Bordesley.

Terry’s diagonal lock vision is not short of sceptics. Many have criticised it as ‘hare-brained’ or worse. However, Terry says it has been backed in principle by BW chief engineer, George Ballinger. Installing the first one at Camp Hill would be a perfect accompaniment to the museum, proving the concept and drawing in the tourists.

He has now raised his museum idea with South Birmingham Development Planning and Regeneration official Peter Wright, who has already publicly backed the diagonal lock proposal.

Andrew Denny  | 12.31pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Chesterfield Canal's Staveley basin project honoured in construction awards derbyshiretimes.co.uk

    Work carried out on the Staveley Town Basin land reclamation scheme was named the merit award winner in the small project category of the ICE East Midlands Merit Awards. The awards, held by the Institution of Civil Engineers, recognise the region’s top civil engineering projects. The small project category is open to projects in the East Midlands which cost less than £750,000. The project, designed by Derbyshire County Council and carried out by principal contractor NT Killingley Ltd, saw the construction of a new canal basin on the Chesterfield Canal at Staveley carried out in partnership with the Chesterfield Canal Trust Ltd and the Chesterfield Canal Partnership....

  • British Waterways defends £23,730 spent on "party gear" civilsociety.co.uk

    British Waterways has defended itself over the £23,730 spent on what critics said was "party gear" for the launch of the Canal and River Trust this summer. The launch will use over 30,000 balloons, 30 miles of bunting and 25,000 stickers for celebratory events across the country. BW said that any third party applying to host an event along the towpath can use the balloons and stickers to help raise awareness of the new charity. “An important element of the Trust’s strategy will be to increase public awareness of the importance of our historic canals and rivers to both people and wildlife, and to encourage towpath visitors to become active supporters either as volunteers or donors. “To do this it is essential that we increase awareness of the Canal and River Trust’s name and what it stands for.” ...

  • April is the wettest for 100 years bbc.co.uk

    It has been the wettest April in the UK for over 100 years, with some areas seeing three times their usual average, figures from the Met Office show. Some 121.8mm of rain has fallen, beating the previous record of 120.3mm which was set in 2000....

Monday 30 April

Developers sought for historic 38-acre Leeds & Liverpool canal factory site near Burnley

A clean-up campaign has been completed at the historic William Blythe chemical factory, canalside at Hapton, near Burnley, and the owners are looking for investors to develop the site, reports the Lancashire Telegraph. 

The Blythe plant, which at its peak in the early 20th C employed over 1,000 people, closed in 2006, and since then efforts have concentrated on cleaning up the land.

Around a third of the 38-acre site will be available for housing, with the rest, at the western end, converted into a nature haven as part of a £2million programme.

Mike Dove, of Leeds-based property agents Dove Haigh Phillips, said: “Up to 280 high-quality houses can be built within a pleasant green setting by the historic canal. It has the potential to be really stunning.

“There will be large areas of open space and a restored country park within the green belt for the use of residents to the development and the wider Hapton community.”

The last significant structure on the site, the 150ft chimney, was felled in 2009, as recorded on video by the Lancashire Telegraph

The site can be seen clearly on Google Maps, with the chimney still standing

Andrew Denny  | 12.42pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Wounded soldiers crew narrowboats to Thames Pageant bbc.co.uk

    Two narrowboats crewed by wounded soldiers are leaving Shropshire to go to the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. The Shropshire Lad and Shropshire Lass will be crewed by nine wounded and injured soldiers from the Personnel Recovery Unit based at Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury. The narrow boats are specially-adapted for use by disabled people....

  • Spring clean for the Calder & Hebble at Brighouse basin brighouseecho.co.uk

    Volunteers rolled up their sleeves and pulled on their rubber gloves to give the canal in their area a spring clean. British Waterways, the Calder Navigation Society, Calder Future and Pennine Canoe Club helped with the clean-up of the Calder and Navigation through Brighouse....

  • I want to take adrenaline-seeking teenagers on a Thames boat trip. What is on offer? telegraph.co.uk

    I want to take some adrenaline-seeking teenagers on a Thames boat trip. What is on offer? A boat trip along the River Thames doesn't have to be a sedate affair - there are plenty of high-octane, action-packed options too. Here are some that are sure to quicken your pulse....

  • Tewkesbury sets up flood incident room as river rises bbc.co.uk

    The Environment Agency (EA) has warned of localised flooding across parts of southern and eastern England, the Midlands and Wales. Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, which was devastated by flooding in July 2007, is on alert and the EA has set up an incident room there along with two others in the Midlands and another in the Wessex area. Forecasters warned that more rain is expected to fall in the coming week with southern and western areas likely to see the worst of the wet weather. After a brief respite today, more heavy showers are expected this evening and through Tuesday. The damp conditions then look set to continue right through the week....

Wednesday 25 April

Today's news from the web

  • Canal chaos at Wakefield as boats untied by vandals wakefieldexpress.co.uk

    The owners of a marina say someone could have been killed after vandals untied boats and let them drift into a canal. One boat at Fairies Hill Marina in Altofts drifted to a weir and was only saved at the last moment. Mel Smith, 63, who has a boat moored there said it could have had fatal consequences. He said: “One boat ended up doing a balancing act on a weir, but thankfully no one was on board, as those responsible could have been facing more than just criminal damage charges."...

  • 'World's first' canal-top solar project in India delivers up to 15% more power economictimes.indiatimes.com

    Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated the 'world's first' canal-top 1 MW solar project on Narmada branch canal network, to the national grid at Chandrasan in Mehsana district. Modi termed this pilot project to be an innovative merger of "jal and urja shakti" for a greener tomorrow, which virtually eliminates the need to acquire huge tracts of land, as is typically needed in setting up such plants. The trial run of plant shows that solar panels here produced 15 per cent extra power as compared to land installations as the water flowing under the panels keeps them relatively cool, he said. ...

Tuesday 24 April

Today's news from the web

  • Queen's Diamond Jubilee: 'President' narrow boat already on her way to pageant dailymail.co.uk

    In June, one thousand boats will gather on the Thames to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. But for one boat, the pageant has already started. To reach London in time, she has already begun steaming her way along a canal in the Midlands, at walking pace, on the first leg of her 336-mile voyage on England's waterways to the capital....

  • The Ellesmere Canal - When engineering went pro eandt.theiet.org

    Civil engineering was formally recognised as a profession in the early 19th century. The building of Ellesmere Canal was a key project that helped it on its way. ...

  • Heathfield priest gets on boat in support of the Queen theargus.co.uk

    A priest is preparing to board his narrow boat in a show of support for the Queen. Many clergy have a “bolt-hole” to which they can escape and recharge their batteries. For Malcolm Jones, parish priest of St Richards in Heathfield, and his wife Frances, this is a narrow boat, Frances Anne, which lives on the Grand Union Canal at Harefield in Middlesex. The pair have been asked to take part in the flotilla for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant....

  • Steam dredger SND4 set to return to Gloucester Waterways Museum after boiler repairs thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    The oldest steam dredger in Europe is set to return to Gloucester Waterways Museum after undergoing extensive repair thanks to funding from Heritage Lottery. Dredger SND No 4, which used to dredge the Gloucester and Sharpness Docks, has been the star attraction at the Waterways Museum since it opened in 1987 because of its hissing steam action and clanking steel buckets. But earlier this year it was discovered that several boiler tubes needed replacing. Thanks to £43,300-worth of funding from Heritage Lottery the Dutch built dredger has been in dry dock for the past three months and is set to return to the Museum this weekend in a fanfare of glory....

  • Leeds to Liverpool horse-drawn canal cruise is first for 68 years yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk

    A journey from Leeds to Liverpool takes about 90 minutes by car or rail. Sue Day is taking three months. Not only is she travelling in meandering style along the Leeds-Liverpool canal by narrow-boat. ... She is promoting horse-drawn boating as part of Britain’s heritage and for educational purposes. She is one of only five operators of horse-drawn craft in Britain, and in 2001 helped set up the Horse Boating Society....

  • Five-year plan to transform Cromford Canal thisisderbyshire.co.uk

    Engineering consultant Atkins have said that the Cromford Canal could be turned into a nature reserve attraction within five years. And they have also outlined a long-term scheme to make the entire 17-mile waterway, from Langley Mill to Cromford and Pinxton, navigable again in a project that would cost about £44 million. That work would take between 30 and 50 years. ​ The pump house at High Peak Junction on the Cromford Canal. A report outlines options for the future of the canal, including creating a nature reserve and a full restoration. Engineering consultant Atkins has drawn up options for the canal's future after being commissioned by the Cromford Canal Partnership, a body including Derbyshire councils and the wildlife trust. The partnership was set up to make the canal more attractive to visitors. About 40% of the canal is currently in water, with 45% filled in but with the line of the waterway still visible. The remaining 15% is gone completely....

  • DUCK TRAGEDY AVERTED buckslocalnews.com

    There was a little excitement on South Main Street when the mother of more than a dozen baby ducks, discovered in the parking lot of Ye Old Yardley Florist on South Main Street, started making moves in the direction of heavily traveled South Main Street. “We were outside with a customer,” store owner Susan Gorka explained when someone said, “On the corner by the street -- look at all those ducks!” Gorka was immediately scared for her newfound feathery friends. ...

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