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Tuesday 10 April

Today's news from the web

  • Threat to canal holidays as drought bites telegraph.co.uk

    Holidaymakers planning canal trips across parts of the Midlands and the south face measures that will force them to avoid travel along many attractive routes. British Waterways has placed new “restrictions” on an estimated 245 miles of its national network, with many open at certain times, at weekends or are closed completely. Locks on some routes have been padlocked while certain areas have banned overnight mooring as the dry weather leave some reservoir holdings at “critical levels”. Areas affected by the measures include swathes of the Grand Union Canal, which links London to Birmingham, such as its "Leicester line” and Northampton and Aylesbury arms....

  • Thames riverside 300ft frontage building plot for sale near Henley henleystandard.co.uk

    An undeveloped riverside building plot has come to the market for the first time in 50 years. On the market for a guide price of £1.25million, the siteenjoys a unique and stunning location at the confluence of the River Thames and the River Loddon, 500 yards downstream of Shiplake Lock, providing the perfect opportunity to realise the dream of developing a unique home on a unique site, subject to planning consent. ...

Saturday 7 April

Official: Canal & River Trust is now a registered charity

On 4th April the Canal & River Trust was officially recognised as a charity by the Charities Commission. The new Trust, which already has a Board of Trustees, a governing Council and the Prince of Wales as Royal Patron, is now legally permitted to start fundraising to support its objectives.

The Canal & River Trust is due to take over the 2,000 miles of English and Welsh waterways, historic buildings, museums and archives from British Waterways and The Waterways Trust. Once approved by Parliament, this will be the largest-ever transfer of a public body into the charitable sector.

The transfer is being backed by a guaranteed 15-year funding contract from the government. This guaranteed amount replaces the annual negotiating round of ‘grant in aid’ which has made planning the future of the waterways so difficult in previous years. 

“The creation of the Canal & River Trust is one of the most exciting projects in the charitable sector at the moment and will hold in trust for the nation one of our most extraordinary national treasures”, said Lynne Berry, deputy chairman of the new trust. 

“Charitable registration means that we are now almost ready to start raising income from charitable sources, to add to the waterways’ solid foundation of Government and self-earned income. The Canal & River Trust is all about securing the future of the waterways, and today’s announcement brings us one step closer to realising this dream.”

Andrew Denny  | 12.41pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Thames cruise boat stuck against Westminster Bridge on Thames bbc.co.uk

    A tourist cruise boat from Thames company City Cruises got stuck after it was pushed against Westminster Bridge in central London by the tide. The boat became stuck on Friday afternoon after the tide nudged it away from its berth at the pier on the bank of the River Thames. ...

  • Public [including Waterways Recovery Group] find pleasure in working holidays ft.com

    This Easter weekend, people all over the country will be digging, bricklaying, litter-picking, building bridges and even guarding osprey nests in the Cairngorms – but they will not be paid a penny for their efforts. Despite the recent furore over companies using unpaid interns, growing numbers of people are embracing the national mood of austerity and turning to unpaid working holidays – with some even paying for the pleasure of labouring for free. ...

  • Royal Opera House chairman Tony Hall ponders travel along the Thames ft.com

    There can be few more exhilarating forms of travel than bouncing along at 40mph on a rib down the Thames from Tower Bridge to Bow. There’s nothing much between you and the water, and my grip on the fairground ride-style handlebars tightened every time we crossed the wash of some other larger craft. ... The expedition – I know this rather over-dramatises it but that’s how it felt – was the result of a challenge put to me by Tony Hales, chair of British Waterways. As Tony knows, I’m chairing the board overseeing the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival. “The only way to see the Olympic Park,” he proclaimed, “is by boat.” So there we were, a small group under the command of a jolly British Waterways skipper, slowing to a more comfortable pace as we approached Bow Creek. ...

  • Canal cops vow to cut crime on Staffordshire waterways thisisstaffordshire.co.uk

    Police have launched a crackdown on crime on waterways across North Staffordshire. The Canal Watch scheme will see officers patrol trouble spots along Staffordshire's 154 miles of canal towpath to keep them safe....

Wednesday 4 April

Wey & Arun Canal Centre opens at Loxwood

A crowd of over 200 enthusiastic supporters and guests attended the official opening of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s new visitor centre, at Loxwood in West Sussex, on 1st April.  

Mike Coleman, Chairman of West Sussex County Council, cut the red ribbon and saluted the exceptional work by all the volunteers. 

The new building is only the latest presence of the Trust at Loxwood, which forms the heart of the restoration. The first was a wooden ticket office in the car park, followed by what they called the ‘black shed’, a corrugated iron lean-to behind the nearby Onslow Arms pub. 
But in the last decade, with 10,000 boat passengers a year and tens of thousands towpath walkers, this had become completely inadequate. 

The Trust then started thinking about a larger log cabin. However, a chance meeting with generous sponsors led to an even more ambitious ideas for a very ‘green’ building. Designed by Fordingbridge, a specialist in environmentally sensitive buildings, the new centre uses sustainably sourced materials and exceptionally low energy requirements.  The centre has been entirely financed by private fund-raising by Trust supporters.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sally Schupke, the Trust’s chairman, said she hoped Loxwood residents would be proud of the canal in their village. She remembers that one of the first jobs canal restorers had carried out in the area was to remove tons of glass from the canal bed behind the Onslow Arms, which had been used as a bottle dump. 

The opening ceremony also honoured Tim Jolly, a Trust stalwart who died in 2010 at the age of 62. Tim used to spend most summer Sundays at Loxwood helping on the Trust’s publicity stand and sharing his enthusiasm with visitors. 

Sally Schupke also paid tribute to all volunteers who had been involved in the building, including project manager John Pryce and the Trust’s conservation adviser, Ian Burton , who produced the landscaping design.  

The Canal Centre is now open every weekend until the Autumn. Further information is available on the website www.weyandarun.co.uk.

Andrew Denny  | 11.58am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Weeks of dry weather spark waterway fears expressandstar.com

    Weeks of dry weather have sparked drought fears across the Midlands – with the River Severn almost running dry in parts. These pictures show how the water level of one of the Midlands’ main waterways has dipped alarmingly in Bridgnorth from its usual buoyant levels, mirroring the picture for other rivers in the region. Half as much water is flowing through them as in the great drought of 1976, experts said today. And river flows on the Severn are the second lowest on record for this time of year....

  • Folly of the Salt Works project northwichguardian.co.uk

    Letter to the Northwich Guardian: "Plans to restore the Lion Salt Works in Marston and open it as a ‘working museum and conference centre’ [are] so removed from the original as to become almost worthless... "If the museum is as successful as its supporters hope it’s going to be, the volume of large vehicles using an old, narrow canal bridge is surely going to grow massively. In my opinion, this provides the classic circumstances for an accident waiting to happen. ...

  • Maureen Shaw's daughter pays tribute to community for her mother's 'amazing' send off middlewichguardian.co.uk

    A LEGEND of Middlewich's waterways who died in March following a long illness had a send off to match her remarkable life on Friday. Maureen Shaw's coffin was transported by boat along the Trent and Mersey Canal from her former home at Wardle Lock to the funeral at St Michael's Church. The narrowboat Tay transported Maureen for her final voyage which is the sister boat of Spey, which she used when she worked on the canals. Around 50 people followed the boat on foot along the towpath to pay their respects....

Tuesday 3 April

New Trust Council holds inaugural meeting

The Canal and River Trust began to take firmer shape in March, with the convening of the 35-member Council in Birmingham, and the confirmation of the transition trustees in permanent roles. 

In a surprise announcement, chairman Tony Hales said he would step down in April next year. However, no announcement was made about the BW directors, who were expected to continue in the same roles in the new Trust.  

Much of the focus of this inaugural meeting was in the members getting to know each other and understanding their role and powers. All council members are appointed for fixed four year terms.  One of their key tasks was to confirm the 11 transition trustees in their roles for an initial three years. 

The Council will meet twice yearly, with the next meeting scheduled for September.  All meeting minutes will be published online. 

Meanwhile, on 29th February Parliament began scrutinising the draft order for turning British Waterways into the new Canal & River Trust. The delays introduced by the extended negotiating over funding of the Trust means that Parliament’s approval is unlikely to be forthcoming before early May.  

The path to the new Trust has not been smooth. In particular, several people have questioned the legitimacy of the process that has led to the Council convening at all. To try to answer these questions, BW gave a six-point summary of the issues of setting up the new Canal & River Trust on its website, pointing out that Parliament had never attempted anything quite like this; there was no precedent to the process.   

Andrew Denny  | 9.47am | add a comment

Thursday 29 March

Today's news from the web

  • Boaters protest at hike in charges oxfordtimes.co.uk

    Boaters are complaining their mooring fees have risen by more than a third in three years on a stretch of the Oxford Canal in the city. Thirteen boaters live on narrowboats near Hythe Bridge Street in the city centre and pay for residential moorings from British Waterways. The cost is set to rise to £194.66 a year from April – up eight per cent on the previous year’s fees. Boaters say that means an increase of more than 33 per cent since 2010 and could force them to move elsewhere....

Monday 26 March

Today's news from the web

  • North Walsham and Dilham Canal restored for wildlife eveningnews24.co.uk

    Volunteers have spent the past three-and-a-half years clearing Briggate Mill Pond which had become completely choked with trees, shrubs and weeds, according to David Revill, work party organiser with the East Anglian Waterways Association. The pond is part of the near nine-mile North Walsham and Dilham Canal, which has been neglected since 1934 when the last wherry sailed there. Locals remembered swimming and canoeing around Briggate Mill pond some 20-30 years ago but it had been overgrown and without water for several years, said Mr Revill, who is also a trustee of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust, formed in 2008....

  • Drought's impact on one Norfolk river edp24.co.uk

    The River Great Ouse in the heart of King’s Lynn may have to be dredged for the first time in six years amid falling water levels and a drought. The river is being regularly monitored by the Conservancy Board as it dropped to 1.4m during low tide this week – leaving ferry passengers having to use a temporary jetty to get to the boat. There are now concerns about the impact the drought might have on the river and the town’s harbour....

  • 'Lock rage' fears on canals as opening times are cut in drought dailymail.co.uk

    Canal chiefs are reducing the times that locks are open to save water as the drought worsens. ... It means boaters may face long queues to pass through locks and officials fear the bottlenecks could cause ‘lock rage’. An Inland Waterways Association spokesman said: ‘There will be lock rage incidents. Some will even “jump” locks.’ He explained that the latter occurs when two boats approach a narrow lock and race to be the first in. ...

  • Call for research into Lancaster Canal Corridor North bbc.co.uk

    A report into the heritage of Lancaster's Canal Corridor North Area has recommended further research into its "archaeological potential". The report by The Conservation Studio was commissioned by English Heritage and developer Centros. A £150m proposal for the area by Centros was rejected following a public inquiry in 2009....

Friday 23 March

CCT ‘shocked’ at Dudbridge funding loss

The Cotswold Canals Trust was said to be ‘shocked and frustrated’ that although it came second in the recent British Gas Energyshare scheme to win funding for its Dudbridge Locks hydro plan, it was passed over in the final selection. The winning projects were ranked 3rd, 4th, 15th, 17th and 23rd in public votes.

“Anyone visiting the Energyshare website would have understood that the public vote effectively chose who got funded””, said CCT chief executive Ken Burgin. “The small print did indeed give Energshare the right to select the finalists, but we assumed this gave them the opportunity to reject non-viable schemes.  Instead, they used this to pick who they fancied with scant regard for public support.

“If they wanted to do this, they should have done it before wasting everyone’s time and pointlessly raising everyone’s hopes.”   

Andrew Denny  | 4.47pm | add a comment

HNBC drops O

The Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club has dropped the ‘Owners’ part of its name. The club said that the requirement of members to actually own a historic boat was removed a few years ago, and the change reflects this.


Now called HNBC, the club was founded in 1966 as the Narrow Boat Owners Club, at a time when nearly all traditional narrow boats were ex-working boats. At the time, nearly all leisure boats were small cruisers, and the needs of these original ‘knights of the waterways’ were overlooked. ‘Historic’ was added in 1989, since by then their numbers were being overtaken by the modern form of narrowboat.


The club says it wants to draw in anybody who shares its aims, whether or not they actually own a narrowboat. The aims include the preservation and operation of traditional working boat, campaigning for waterways heritage, and training new people in the working practices of such boats, so that the skills are not lost. In particular the club wants to ensure that the waterways are properly navigable for all such full-length deep-drafted boats. “Because wherever they can go, anyone can go!”, is their mantra.  

Andrew Denny  | 2.35pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Restoration of Lune Aqueduct takes shape waterscape.com

    Works to restore the 200-year old Lune Aqueduct is reaching the final stages as British Waterways’ contractors complete main repairs and improvement works. Following a £1 million pound grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in January 2011, which was matched funded by British Waterways and partners, a £2.4m programme of works to restore the 200-year old aqueduct to its former glory has been undertaken. The two-year restoration of the Lune Aqueduct included repairing the canal channel, removing vegetation and graffiti, undertaking re-pointing and masonry repairs and improving public access to this historically significant site....

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