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Monday 9 January

Shobnall Boat Services ceases trading

We learned this morning that Shobnall Boat Services, the chandlery based in WW's home town of Burton-on-Trent, has ceased trading.

Owner Andy Garside said: "We have fallen victim to this terrible recession and have seen a marked down-turn in business over the last two years, coupled with increased competition. We were fortunately only 1 - 2 days away from completing work on a repaint of the only boat we had in our workshop at the time, and through the tremendous support of our staff (now unpaid) and a tremendously generous offer from Robert Neff at Mercia Marina of the use of his dry dock for a couple of days, we have been able to completely finish the work to the customer's total satisfaction."

The site is owned by the long-established Jannel Cruisers (01283 540006/07837 546032), who operate the moorings at Shobnall Basin - which are not affected. They hope to be able to reopen the dry-dock, gas and sales in the next few weeks. Shobnall's surveyor Iain Jones is continuing to work on a self-employed basis (07860 119476).

Richard Fairhurst  | 1.40pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • New Chesterfield canal basin is full chesterfieldpost.co.uk

    It's a major milestone for the Canal, with the basin years in the planning, after construction started last March. Throughout the process there have been excited local people standing on bridges admiring the works and now the finished basin is already attracting lots of positive interest from walkers and cyclists as well as canal lovers....

  • Kidderminster paper launches £7,000 Stourport boat appeal kidderminstershuttle.co.uk

    A £7,000 appeal has been launched in Stourport by local news paper the Kidderminster Shuttle to restore historic narrowboat Bramble, based at Stourport Canal Basins. The appeal will finance much-needed mechanical and electrical work, furnish new cloth covers and fenders, repaint the boat and install a new prop shaft. The volunteers also intend to furnish the interior with historical replica items. A Fellows, Morton & Clayton motor dating from 1934, Bramble was donated by British Waterways to local group Stourport Forward, who plan to use it for education and boat trips. ...

  • Work begins on new Thames road bridge at Walton bbc.co.uk

    Work has begun on the first new road bridge over the River Thames in nearly 20 years. The £32m crossing between Walton-on-Thames and Shepperton is expected to be completed in the summer of 2013, and will replace two long-serving temporary bridges. ...

Friday 6 January

Today's news from the web

  • New Oxford Canal marinas get go-ahead cropredymarina.com

    At a meeting on 5th January, Cherwell District Council’s planning committee gave final planning permission for two new marinas on the South Oxford Canal at Cropredy, both to be built on farming land, giving a total of 280 berths. 

    The largest, with 249 berths, will be Cropredy Marina, to be sited north of the village, above Broadmoor Lock. It will not have a boatyard or residential moorings, but will include basic canalside facilities including diesel, pumpout and sanitary station, and a slipway. 

    At the other end of the village, near the BW facilities at Cropredy Wharf, the smaller marina, as yet unnamed, will have only 31 non-residential full-length berths and no facilities for passing boaters. The marina's owner said he was considering holding a competition amongst local children to select a name for it.  

    Local opposition to both marinas was considerable. In particular, the local primary school complained that the smaller marina, being adjacent to the school, would present a “risk of drowning” to the pupils, and that the school’s ‘forest school’ nature lessons would be threatened. 

    In addition, claims were also voiced about the potential extra traffic stressing water supply on the Fenny Compton summit level. However, the planners decided that overall benefits to boaters and the local economy outweighed all objections. 

    Cropredy Marina is being developed by the owners of Crick Marina, who said that the Oxford Canal badly needed more offline moorings. “Presently, there is only one small offline marina on the Oxford Canal in the 44 miles between Oxford and Napton, which is reflected in the large numbers of boats moored along the banks of the canal.” 


Thursday 5 January

Today's news from the web

  • Cropredy marina plan 'could put children in danger' thisisoxfordshire.co.uk

    Children’s lives could be put at risk if a marina is built next to a primary school, it has been warned. Residents said the plan for a marina for 31 boats and 21 parking spaces at School Lane, Cropredy, posed a “risk of drowning” to Cropredy Primary School pupils....

  • Full steam ahead for Cotswold canal work thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Canal restoration work has been steaming ahead at half a dozen locations along the Stroud valleys. The ongoing reopening of the waterways between Stonehouse and Brimscombe includes new bridges, locks, flood gates and an overflow weir. The renovation sites are all part of Phase 1A of the major scheme to eventually reopen the long-disused canal link between the rivers Severn and Thames....

Wednesday 4 January

Today's news from the web

  • Oil spillage at Gloucester Docks as fishing boat sinks thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Oil has been spilled into Gloucester Docks after a fishing boat dramatically sank, dismaying traders and residents. The 46-year-old ship Lucia sank at its mooring in Monk Meadow Dock, causing fears for wildlife after the contents of its engine flowed into the Gloucester Sharpness Canal....

  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct visitor centre gets £125,000 upgrade bbc.co.uk

    Plans to extend a tourism centre for visitors to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct have been approved by Wrexham councillors. Officials want to improve facilities to boost visitors to the towering landmark on Llangollen Canal. A local group says the plan could hit local businesses. But the council says retail will be limited to souvenirs....

  • Roman brothel token discovered in Thames telegraph.co.uk

    A Roman coin that was probably used by soldiers to pay for sex in brothels has been discovered on the banks of the River Thames....

Monday 2 January

Picture of the day: How many BW workers does it take to fix a lock?

In an undated photo from the WW archives, eight (count 'em) BW staff insert stop planks at  Buckby Top Lock, prior to repairs.

Andrew Denny  | 10.32am | 1 comment

Today's news from the web

  • New Year's Eve fireworks display on the Thames ushers in 2012 dailymail.co.uk

    Some astonishingly arresting photos and video this New Year's Eve of fireworks over the Thames. A good selection (including video) on the Daily Mail website. ...

  • Calls to extend Mon & Brec canal to Cwmcarn southwalesargus.co.uk

    With the increasing popularity of the Fourteen Locks Canal visitor centre, calls are being made to extend the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal all the way to Cwmcarn. Since opening three years ago, the visitor centre, at Rogerstone, has welcomed around 150,000 visitors from countries such as Russia, China, New Zealand and Canada. The canal passes through Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Newport county boroughs, but Islwyn MP Chris Evans has now called for the Caerphilly arm to be reopened to the public- a move which would bring much-needed investment and tourism into the area....

  • Chippenham canal locks in cash gazetteandherald.co.uk

    A grant from the owners of the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald will go towards the restoration of a swathe of Chippenham’s long-lost waterway. The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust say they are delighted with the £5,774 Gannett award, which will help pay for the final dredging of the canal’s Pewsham stretch....

  • Canal network could be used to transport biomass for power plants guardian.co.uk

    A scheme by the energy services company Dalkia that uses the Aire and Calder Navigation canal system in Yorkshire to carry timber for the power industry is being repeated in other parts of the country, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA). "It is perhaps not right to call it a renaissance yet but there is huge potential for carrying biomass fuel, civic waste and building materials on the waterways. It can make commercial and environmental sense," said a spokesman for the FTA....

Saturday 31 December

Today's news from the web

  • Burslem branch canal restoration will cost £51.5m less than forecast thisisstaffordshire.co.uk

    Work to reinstate part of a former canal will cost £51.5 million less than forecast. Government agency Renew North Staffordshire had priced the restoration of the Burslem Branch Canal at £56 million. But a study by engineering firm AECOM has predicted that the design and construction of the Burslem Arm will cost £4.5 million; 1/12th of the original sum....

  • Houseboaters being 'forced out' from Olympics area hackneycitizen.co.uk

    British Waterways (BW) has been accused of “forcing out” Hackney’s boaters after it announced plans to limit mooring times and impose fines for overstaying in an area close to the Olympic site. The organisation, which looks after waterways including the Regent’s Canal and River Lea, wants those who live on narrowboats to buy visitor passes, some costing in excess of hundreds of pounds per week, to moor in a specially designated zone close to the site. British Waterways said the measures were necessary to cover the costs of increased security in the area and to ensure all boaters had a chance to book spots close to where the London 2012 Games will take place....

Friday 30 December

Sharpness locals protest at 400 ft wind turbine plans

Local boaters and residents at Sharpness are protesting at plans by British Waterways to install a giant 400 ft wind turbine in the old Sharpness docks area. 

"We feel very strongly about this. It will ruin the view of the estuary and stand out like a sore thumb", the owners of Sharpness Marina Alan Crowhurst and Brian Williams were reported as saying in local paper Gloucester Citizen. 

The giant wind turbine would be installed on Sharpness dock island, currently owned by British Waterways. It could produce enough electricity for between 736 to 1,226 households a year, and is part of a renewable energy programme by BW in conjunction with Partnerships for Renewables.

A former mayor of the nearby village of Berkeley, Valerie Watts, said: "It sounds rather intensive. A smaller one away from houses might be better. I am not against wind turbines, but they have to be the right size." 

Andrew Denny  | 11.24am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • 1968 canal hunt for 'Fred West victim' thisisgloucestershire.co.uk

    Today in the Gloucester Citizen there's an interesting account of a police search of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in 1968, in a hunt for a missing schoolgirl, as the third episode of a series.  

    Notorious mass-killer Fred West confessed in prison to his son, shortly before he hanged himself, to having murdered the girl, whose body was never found. 

    "Pieces of a Monopoly game had been found near a canal bridge and Mary Bastholm had been carrying the game when she went missing.

    "So Detective Chief Superintendent William Marchand, of the Metropolitan Police Scotland Yard Murder Squad decided areas of the Gloucester-Sharpness canal were to be searched.

    "One morning, Sergeant Clive Jefferies put his head around the Stroud CID office door and told me the Under Water Recovery Section had been requested by Marchand and ordered to carry out a search – we were to hunt 20 yards each side of the bridge..." 

    The girl's body was never found back then, and the first two episodes of the story - here's No. 1 and here is No. 2 - suggest that perhaps she was buried in ground where West had done building work.

    It would be interesting to know how such canal searches are done nowadays in these circumstances, and if they have different techniques in addition to the gadgets available for location bodies and evidence.

  • Crayfish invasion of England's waterways tracked by radio guardian.co.uk

    Members of an aggressive species of crayfish which have been invading England's waterways are being tracked with radio transmitters in an attempt to better understand them. The Environment Agency said virile crayfish (Orconectes virilis), which are non-native, prey on native wildlife and spread crayfish plague, a disease deadly to native white clawed crayfish. The north American predators have recently been seen in waterways in east London after first being found on the river Lea near Enfield in 2004. They have since colonised more than 10 miles of the river and linked waterways, spreading into Hertfordshire. ...

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