Find out more about London's new towpath ranger, mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, winter stay times, repairs, open days, James Bond and more.
Darren Starling (left main image) has joined the Trust as the new London towpath ranger. A boater all his life, Darren has plenty of experience of life along the towpaths. “Joining the team is a dream come true,” said Darren, “I’ve met many of the volunteer towpath rangers already and I’m looking forward to working with them on encouraging all towpath users to look out for each other.”
Dick Vincent (right main image) is now working as the national towpath ranger and estending the Trust's “share the space, drop your pace” message to the rest of the country. “It’s been great introducing Darren to the role,” said Dick.
Have you thought about booking a mooring in central London? There are two moorings in the Pool at Little Venice that can be booked in advance. Changeover days are on Tuesdays and Fridays, the maximum stay is a week in any month. To ensure everyone has a chance, you are limited to 14 days within any 12 month period.
Bookings are made via email to email@example.com, and are taken one calendar month in advance. For example, bookings for all dates in March are taken from the first of February. January dates are available now!
When making a booking, please make sure your email includes:
These moorings are free! By booking you agree to abide by the terms and conditions, a copy of which will be provided to you to confirm your booking and can be provided in advance on request.
You may have heard that the Trust’s new Short Term Moorings Framework recommends that stay times on visitor moorings should relax to 14 days over the winter, unless there is a clear safety need or customer need.
This is designed to relax rules where there is little demand for short stay moorings over the winter. In London there is a consistently high demand for mooring space, especially at visitor moorings, many of which are already designated as 14 day stay.
For this reason, we don’t propose to relax stay times on visitor moorings in the most popular places in London. Thankfully, there is lots of mooring space along our towpaths, not just at visitor moorings, so those needing to moor for up to 14 days will still have lots of choice.
The visitor moorings where we won’t be relaxing stay times this winter are:
These will have signs indicating that the stay time applies all year. Stay times on all other visitor moorings will be relaxed to 14 days.
As many people are unaware of the approach we have taken in London, this will apply from 6 January 2016. Until then, we will be relaxing stay times to 14 days.
If you haven’t bought a winter mooring permit this year, remember that you can moor on any winter mooring site temporarily if there is space. You can stay for up to 14 days if there is space, but bear in mind that you will need to move off straight away if a permit holder arrives and needs to moor. Spaces sometimes appear when permit holders go to fill up with water or empty their toilets, so don’t assume it’s there for the taking as you may be faced with the hassle of having to move again quite soon!
We recommend avoiding winter mooring sites if you don’t have a permit, as it saves lots of inconvenience for everyone concerned. There are still spaces at most of our sites in the London waterway region, so if you’d like to take up a permit as the colder weather arrives please visit our website for information about how to sign up. Our moorings website has an interactive map showing availability, so you will have a wide choice of locations on either the Upper Lee or Stort, and the Grand Union. Kensal Green has proved very popular, so is already completely sold out, unfortunately. This is one place to avoid if you don’t have a permit already!
As we reported in the last issue, a project has begun to remove and repair the four massive lock gates at Latton Lock on the River Stort. Approximately 20 years old, the gates will now be refurbished to ensure they don’t allow leaks, having suffered wear and tear over the past two decades. The gates each weigh between 2.8 and 3.5 tonnes, with the project costing approximately £180,000. Work is due to be completed by the end of November.
This winter the Canal & River Trust will be working on around 164 lock gates across the country, as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels. Over £45million is being spent. Graham Smith, Canal & River Trust supervisor, said: “We’re really pleased to be getting these gates repaired. They’ve suffered over the years of being constantly opened and closed, so we need to get them out of the water and make some repairs. The Stort is a beautiful waterway, and this is a great example of the type of work that needs to be done to keep it in top condition so that everyone can continue to enjoy it.”
For more on the winter stoppages in London, please see below.
On 14 October, 60 people came to the London Canal Museum for the latest in our series of Waterway Forums. It was a packed agenda, with plenty of time for people to ask questions. Highlights included:
We’re really grateful to all who came along and hope it was interesting. If you have any ideas of what you’d like to hear about at future events, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each year, as part of our winter works, we hold open days to allow visitors to have an up close look at our canal and to enter a drained lock chamber or canal itself to get a unique perspective on these amazing structures. This year the London Open Day will be held at Kentish Town Lock in Camden on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January. Seeing a lock from inside is a real treat and as most gates are changed every 25 years, you’ll be waiting a long time to get the opportunity again!
After a series of productive discussions about bringing the Victoria Park visitor mooring toilet facilities back into use, the National Barge Travellers Association (London Branch) invited Sam Thomas (Customer Operatons Manager) and Sorwar Ahmed (Boater Liaison Manager) to a public meeting with boaters to discuss facilities and moorings provision.
Over 30 boaters attended the meeting in Dalston, where Sam and Sorwar heard boaters’ feedback and described the Trust’s investment in facilities and moorings over the past couple of years, as well as our plans for the future. There was a positive discussion about how underused spaces, dry docks and moorings – some of which are outside the Trust’s control - could be used to provide much needed facilities or animate underused parts of the waterway network.
It was agreed that by working together with boaters, it might be possible to bring some of these projects forward. The event was a great way to hear feedback and share ideas, so it was agreed that more would be organised to keep the dialogue going. Many thanks to Helen Brice and and NBTA(L) for arranging the get together, and to the Save the Date Café for their hospitality.
If you’ve seen the new Bond film, Spectre, then perhaps you identified the Regent’s Canal! Dead Dog Basin at Camden featured as the Thames-side entrance to Q’s underground workshop. Cassie Clarke who handles filming on our canals has more details here.
There’s still time to enter the IWA’s 2017 calendar competition. Prizes include copies of the calendar itself plus a complete set of Nicolson’s Guides for the overall winner. As with last year they are looking for waterway scenes from any season, not just summer, so a good excuse to take your camera out on your local waterway over the Christmas break.
The closing date for entries is 31 January 2016. For more information please see the IWA website.
A major operation on the Regent’s Canal in East London has rehomed hundreds of fish as millions of litres of water were drained during vital repair work to 1km of canal wall.
More than 800lbs of fish including roach, perch and bream were collected. We also recovered 11 carp weighing between 20-27lbs and 67 endangered European eels.
The eels, along with hundreds of fish, were relocated from the canal near Mile End because of our two-month project to repair holes in the historic canal walls.
Fish experts were drafted in to carry out the operation, known as ‘electrofishing’. The process involves using a harmless low electrical current to temporarily immobilise the fish. They are then scooped up, transferred to large containers filled with fresh water and moved to safety on a nearby unaffected stretch of canal.
After the end of the consultation period for the Kings Cross visitor mooring proposals, we held a public meeting on 22 October 2015 to enable people to express their views to us in person and to hear more about our thinking behind the proposals. We also wanted to hear feedback on how the Islington Visitor Mooring management plan had been working, and to discuss proposals for the future. At least 40 people attended the meeting, including boaters (both continuous cruisers and those with home moorings), local residents, boating organisations and Islington Council.
The meeting was independently facilitated to give everyone a chance to have their say and to hear the viewpoints of others. By the end of the meeting there was a sense that by acknowledging the needs of everyone who uses the canal in this popular location, solutions could be found that engaged residents and boaters in looking after the area together. There was a strong onus on the Trust to look at the feedback and amend the proposals to reflect more closely the views of users and residents. Residents from the Islington Visitor Mooring had also consulted local people and identified some measures that could help address the impacts of mooring.
The Trust has been considering the feedback from the consultation and public meeting, and aims to publish revised proposals for the Kings Cross Visitor Mooring and the Islington Visitor Mooring management plan review in the New Year.
Join us at Towpath Taskforce to help blow away those winter cobwebs and work off some of that Christmas cheer! All tools, equipment and instruction will be supplied, please wear old clothes and hard-soled footwear and if the weather forecast is looking wet, don’t forget the waterproofs!
On the Paddington Arm, many boaters choose to moor on the towpath opposite the High Line Boatyard in Northolt. It’s important to bear in mind that the verge here can be soft in places and mooring pins can easily work their way loose. Please make every effort to satisfy yourself that your boat won’t be bobbing away if you’re mooring in this area.
If you’re going to leave your boat unattended for any period of time you will need to take steps to protect it from the damaging effects of winter. Remember that boats should not be left for long periods without some form of inspection by the owner or a friend to check on the mooring and condition of the boat:
Consider moving any soft furnishings to a warm and dry environment.
The start of December saw engineers from the Canal & River Trust surveying the four million bricks that make up the Islington Tunnel and assessing any structural changes that have occurred to the tunnel, including checking for cracks and identifying any restoration work required.
The tunnel took four years to build, starting in 1814 before completion in 1818, with the vast majority of the original brick work remaining intact to this day. The last repairs took place in 2000.
Florence Salberter, Canal & River Trust heritage advisor, said: “Islington Tunnel is an amazing piece of London’s heritage. The bricks inside were handmade and put in place two centuries ago, given the technology available in those times it’s amazing to stop and think of how much was achieved. Today, going inside is like stepping back in time. The confined space means you’re travelling through this dark, quiet tunnel, even though you are right under the hustle and bustle of Islington.
“Because of the age of the tunnel, its location and depth, it’s important we give it an MOT. It’s obviously such a crucial part of the canal network in London – connecting the east end of the Regent’s to the west, and beyond that the Grand Union which continues up to Birmingham. The Regent’s Canal is arguably more popular than ever before and this is a good example of the type of work needed to keep it in top shape.”
Until 21 December, it won’t be possible to move between the east and west of the Trust’s London Waterways without using the River Thames. This is due to the works from Old Ford Lock down to Mile End on the Regent’s Canal, which have also closed the Hertford Union.
The works have been going very well. We have a team of up to 20 on site each day (including weekends) working hard to ensure all the works are completed within the stoppage window. We’re on schedule and both the Regent’s and Hertford Union will re-open to navigation as planned by the close of play on the 21 December. There will likely be some minor finishing works along the towpath after Christmas (mainly site tidying) but nothing that will cause any significant impact.
The next significant winter stoppage is on the Regent’s Canal at Lock 3 (Kentish Town Lock) where we’ll be replacing the lock gates. The lock will be closed from 4 January to 11 March. Boaters need to give early thought to whether they want to be on the east or the west of this stoppage and move in good time.
The Thames is an obvious route around these stoppages but when it comes to navigation, the tidal Thames is a very different river to the Lee or the Stort. The Port of London Authority states that “safe passage requires a sound knowledge of the effects of the tidal stream, including the resultant currents and variable depths which are not found on the (non-tidal) canal system”. If you need to move between east to west, you must make sure you’re familiar with the risks and please visit the PLA’s useful website.
Our other winter stoppages include:
The River Stort at Lock 9 (Latton Lock): We’ll be replacing the lock gates and so the lock will be closed from 2 November to 18 December.
Limehouse Lock: We’re making emergency repairs to the lock gate seals at Limehouse Lock and the lock will be closed from 8 February to 11 March.
Other stoppages and notices
Bridge 55, Dobbs Weir Lane Bridge, Lee Navigation: Essex County Council will be replacing Bridge 55, Dobbs Weir Lane Bridge. This will see night closures of the waterway and temporary closures during the day. A towpath diversion will be in place. Cyclists are asked to dismount. Please follow the signs. Works started on 20 July 2015 and will continue into 2016.
Bridge 33 (railway bridge) to Lock 4 (St Pancras Lock) on the Regent’s Canal: From 18 May 2015 and until early 2016, towpath works will mean that the towpath to the east of Bridge 33 and for approximately 70 metres will be replaced by a pontoon on the water. For safety reasons, we ask that there should be no running or cycling on the pontoon. Navigation should be with care and with particular attention to oncoming boats.
Lisson Grove Moorings, Regent’s Canal: A section of towpath through the Lisson Grove moorings requires urgent repair. Pedestrians are asked to follow the alternative route used by cyclists. Please follow the signs.
Towpath at the Old Barge Pub, Hertford, Lee Navigation: We're making repairs to 20 metres of waterway wall on the towpath side by the Old Barge Pub, 2 The Folly, Hertford, SG14 1QD. There will be short towpath diversion, please follow local signs. The navigation will remain open but we ask boaters to take care. These works are expected to last from 7 September to 14 November 2015.
East of Bridge 201 (Oval Road), Regent's Canal, Camden: On the offside of the Regent's Canal and to the east of Bridge 20A (Oval Road), scaffolding is being erected from the bottom of the canal. This will reduce the width of the navigation immediately before the bridge but all craft will be able to pass. We ask boaters to take care. The scaffolding is expected to be in place from 26 October 2015 to 4 January 2016.
Maida Hill Tunnel to Lisson Grove Bridge, Regent's Canal: There is no towpath through the Maida Hill Tunnel and pedestrians and cyclists use local roads and footpaths to rejoin the canal. Contractors from UK Power Networks and the National Grid have now closed the towpath between the eastern tunnel entrance and the next bridge (Bridge 2, Lisson Grove Bridge) while they make urgent repairs. This means that pedestrians and cyclists are asked to follow the signs and leave (or rejoin) the towpath a little earlier (or later) than would usually be the case. We are continuing to investigate opening this as soon as possible.
Sorwar Ahmed is Waterway Boating Manager for the Canal & River Trust in London. He’s engaging communities and developing social enterprises to improve the waterways for everyone! Every month he gives a round-up of news and views, essential reading for boaters and anyone with an interest in London’s canalsSee more blogs from this author