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Tuesday 15 May

Today's news from the web

  • Antarctic scientist's 'floating eco-home' on the River Cam telegraph.co.uk

    When scientist Andrew Rankin got a job with the esteemed British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, his excitement was swiftly followed by dismay when he realised he would struggle to afford a home in one of the most desirable cities in England. With property prices in the centre of the ancient seat of learning way out of his range, Andrew looked to the river Cam: the smooth, dark green waterway that furrows along the college “Backs”, for inspiration. He joined the nearly 100 narrow boat owners who moor along the Cam’s grassy banks, most on the lower river. “I bought a 58ft-long hull 'shell’ for £10,000 and fitted it out myself using reclaimed wood for the internal panelling,” says Andrew, who has lived on the dark green and red Coroskeir — named after a favourite childhood holiday spot in the west of Scotland – for 10 years....

  • Queen's Jubilee canal visit to Burnley burnleycitizen.co.uk

    The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles will travel together on a barge along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal while they are in Burnley. The Royal party will travel from Finsley Gate wharf to Sandygate on the barge, and the public will be able to see them from some places on Finsley Gate Road and at Sandygate. The trip was revealed as Burnley Council offered advice to people keen to see the Royals while they are in town on Wednesday. ... Before the Royal party arrives there will be entertainment in the town centre between 10.35am and 11.35am featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer....

  • Olympics waterbus company defends £95 canal trip charge bbc.co.uk

    A canal boat company has defended the amount it is charging to get people to the Olympic Park during the Games. Water Chariots is charging £95 for adults and £50 for children for the journey to the Park from either Tottenham Hale or Limehouse Marina. Founder Peter Coleman said the cost covered security and staff, and provided people with direct entry to the Games without having to queue....

Monday 14 May

Genesis of Cotswold Canals restoration honoured on 40th anniversary

Forty founder members of the Stroudwater Canal Society – the progenitor of the Cotswold Canals Trust – held a special reunion dinner on Saturday 5th May to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the public meeting that led to the founding of the society.  

In May 1972 Michael Ayland organised a meeting in the Subscriptions Rooms in Stroud. This meeting resulted in the birth of the Stroudwater Canal Society, which has now become The Cotswold Canal Trust.

The anniversary dinner was held in the Dockers Club in Sharpness, and original attendees of that first meeting travelled from around the country to greet old friends that in some cases they hadn't seen for over thirty years

A large amount of photographs, newspaper cuttings and memorabilia on display triggered long conversations on those early days, when a group of enthusiasts with no money and no experience of canal restoration set about restoring not only the Stroudwater but the Thames and Severn as well.

Phil Holland, a past chairman of the Society, presented Michael and Beryl Ayland with an engraved fruit bowl, in honour of their role in founding the society. In a speech Michael recalled the events which lead up to that meeting, and reminded the gathering that the multi-million pound restoration work now in progress stems directly from the enthusiasm of the founder members in that first meeting.

Profits raised from the evening will be spent on repairs to the circular weir at Bowbridge, which was an early restoration project but which has since been vandalised

On the Cotswold Canals Trust website Michael Ayland remembers that first meeting well: 

“To put it on to a sound footing we felt we needed a society and we called a public meeting at the Subscription Rooms in May 1972. I booked the George Room which would take fifty people as we thought there would be twenty or so likely to come.

“A couple of days before, we realised it may be more like one hundred so hastily the Subscription Rooms agreed to let us have the ballroom which was just as well as over three hundred people attended the meeting at which the Inland Waterways Association’s John Humphries wooed the assembly with tales of other restoration projects and the Stroudwater Canal Society was born. 

“Within the early months membership grew rapidly, but most of the early joiners had a bigger objective than the Stroudwater Canal – that of the jewel of restoring the Thames and Severn Canal.”

Above: Michael Ayland (centre) is honoured for his role in organising the founding meeting of the Stroudwater Canal Society in May 1972, by Phil Holland, a former chairman of the society. 

Below: 40 guests gathered at the Sharpness Dockers Club on 5th May 1972 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding meeting of the society.

Andrew Denny  | 5.00pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Leicester Grand Union Canal to reopen after April showers (sic) bbc.co.uk

    A section of canal in Leicester which closed last month due to low water levels is being reopened. Boats have been stopped from using the 11-mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal between Kings Lock and Kibworth Top Lock since 13 April. But British Waterways has announced it is reopening the section after weeks of rainfall saw water levels improve at Saddington reservoir which feeds it. The organisation said the situation would be reviewed again in June....

Saturday 12 May

Today's news from the web

  • Loughborough canal cleaning volunteers to get new boat after arson attack bbc.co.uk

    A canal conservation group that had its boat destroyed in an arson attack is to get a new one built. The Clear Cut Conservation group faced the possibility of abandoning their work after the fire on 2 May, in Leicestershire. The volunteer group had taken two years to restore the boat, used to clear local canals. Boatyard owner Mark Harris, who will build the boat, said he was organising parts, including a new motor....

Thursday 10 May

Grand Union’s Leicester line to reopen following April rainfall

It’s been the wettest April on record, and it has finally brought relief to the thirsty canal network. British Waterways says that the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal will reopen to navigation tomorrow (Friday 11th May), and some lock opening hours in areas affected by drought lengthened, after reservoir holdings improved over April.

The closure of the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal, between locks 18 and 38, is to be lifted from Friday 11th May with boats able to navigate between 9.00am and 4.00pm. In addition opening hours at Foxton, Watford, Buckby, Braunston, Calcutt and Stoke Bruerne are to be extended by around two hours. The measures will be reviewed after the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday in June.

However, BW is still warning that water supplies remain low, and is asking boaters to continue to  be careful about not wasting water, by taking a few simple steps such as sharing locks, ensuring paddles are closed after use and – in broad locks - opening both gates when entering or leaving, to avoid damaging their watertight seal.

BW’s operations director, Vince Moran, said ; “Whilst the situation looks a lot brighter than it did a few months ago it’s important that boaters aren’t complacent. Reservoir holdings traditionally fall over the course of the summer anyway, so it’s important that everyone uses water efficiently to keep things running smoothly right through to the end of the main boating season.”

Shortened opening hours are to remain in place for the time being on the Tring Summit of the Grand Union as the reservoirs there are closely linked to groundwater levels and have not responded as quickly as others elsewhere on the network.

Similarly there will be no change to opening hours on the Oxford Summit, partly because holdings in Boddington Reservoir are being held down for engineering reasons. Reservoir holdings will be monitored closely and actions taken when it is appropriate to do so.

A map showing the updated opening times along with reservoir reports can be found at http://www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/features/water-management-in-2012.

Andrew Denny  | 5.15pm | add a comment

Wednesday 9 May

New Brentford canalside development gets detailed planning permission

Detailed plans have been submitted for the first phase of the new Brentford Lock West development bordering Brentford Gauging Lock, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Thames. 

Isis Waterside Regeneration has already secured outline planning consent on the scheme, which will eventually build over 500 residential units on the site of the old overhanging warehouses off Commerce Road. 
The plans include upgrading and opening up the towpath, maximising water frontage and retaining the popular visitor moorings. The developers want to create a mixed waterside community with residential, commercial and leisure space. Community uses have also been incorporated into the plan, including space for the local canoe club, EDGE, in association with Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.
Work is expected to begin in winter 2012 on this first phase, a mix of 150 apartments and townhouses, together with commercial units in retained buildings.  

ISIS, part-owned by British Waterways to develop its waterside property portfolio, submitted an application to redevelop the site in November 2010. The designs have received commendation from the Sustainable Development Committee at Hounslow Borough Council and gained an Urban Design Award earlier this year. 

Artist's impression of the first stage of Brentford Lock West development - work should begin later this year, subject to final planning approval.

Andrew Denny  | 11.28am | add a comment

Continued rain raises canal restrictions

British Waterways is starting to relaxing locking restrictions on several lines. First off - and just in time for the Crick Boat Show - is a reopening of the Leicester Line of the Grand Union. Waterscape has just announced this:

Restriction: Grand Union Leicester Line Kibworth Top Lock 18 - Kings Lock 38 - 

UPDATE (09 May 2012): Due to improved reservoir holdings we are lifting the closure currently in place on this section of the Grand Union Leicester Line.

From Friday 11th May 2012 this section will be open daily between 9.00am - 4.00pm until further notice.

Locks 18,30 & 38 will be padlocked to ensure there are no abuses/unnecessary water losses. We will continue to monitor the reservoir situation closely and if we get further improvements we may lift the overnight locking altogether.

Andrew Denny  | 8.48pm | add a comment

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

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