This month we’re celebrating our Green Flag Award on the River Lee and the completion of our edible garden at Stonebridge! The August Bank Holiday sees the exciting East London Waterway Festival, as well as the Angel, Slough and Hayes Festivals in September, and there’s so much to do with the Towpath Taskforce and new volunteering opportunities. Perhaps we’ll see you soon at an event?
We’re celebrating after achieving Keep Britain Tidy’s coveted Green Flag Award status for six canals and an aqueduct – including four miles of the River Lee Navigation in Broxbourne!
These special waterway sites - all judged to be ‘quality green spaces’ - are among 1,797 parks and green spaces across the UK judged to be some of the best green spaces in the country. Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “We are delighted to be flying green flags at six of our waterways. The award is great for visitors and a recognition of all the hard work by our staff and volunteers who go the extra mile to make these high quality public places for people to use and enjoy.
“The role of volunteers is key to this journey and I am delighted to report that volunteering has increased by 264% and 180 communities have joined us to adopt a stretch of their local waterway over the last five years.”
If you’d like to get involved in looking after a waterway near you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re heading out west this month, you’ll find over 600m of new and improved mooring space on the Paddington Arm and lower Grand Union. Half of this is new mooring at Old Oak and West Drayton, where the hard towpath surface prevented safe use of mooring pins. Most of the remainder is at Alperton, where we found concrete just under the surface of the grass verge. The elsan and pump-out at Alperton (offside at the Atlip Road mooring) are now open to the public, so we hope to see more of you sampling the delights of the canal out west!
Looking after our boater facilities is a never-ending task. They’re being used more and more as boat numbers grow, and often suffer vandalism due to their exposed location. We’re aiming to improve the level of services available to boaters through our emerging London mooring strategy, but it seems there are several sites that are well kept secrets!
Did you know that we have contracted Hackney Council to provide boater refuse facilities on the Lee Navigation? There are three 1100 litre paladin bins in the Hackney Marshes area that are provided for boater use, all located on the non-towpath side. One of these is at Cow Bridge (Pond Lane Bridge 16) near the Primary School and the other two are alongside Millfields Depot (Waterworks Lane Bridge 17). Our new facilities at Alperton, at the off-side mooring at Atlip Road (below Bridge 11a Railway Bridge), are also now open to all boaters, providing a pump-out and elsan point.
Unfortunately, our customer service block in Brentford has suffered from some misuse in recent months, and the showers have been occupied by rough sleepers. While we develop plans for managed access to this facility, we are having to restrict access to the showers temporarily. However, we hope to have them open for all boaters again soon. Please help us to look after our facilities by locking doors behind you when you’ve finished using the facilities, and report any issues to us on email@example.com.
The East London Waterway Festival on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August will have an exciting range activities and events, from canoe and rowing taster sessions, pedalos and paddle boarding to live music, children’s activities, boat trips and a boat flotilla marking the opening of Carpenter’s Road Lock and the Stadium Island Loop to navigation!
To enable boats to take part in the flotilla, mooring will be suspended in two stretches of the Lee Navigation between 24 August and 29 August 2017. This will be from Bow Locks to Bow Bridge 5, and Old Ford Lock 19 to Carpenter’s Road Bridge 11 (White Post Lane). Please see local signs.
If you would like to register for the cruising element of the Festival, taking place between 26 August and 28 August, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are very limited as many boats have already registered, so do get in touch quickly!
You can still take part and enjoy a fun day on Monday 28 August without a canal boat. Take a look at the full range of activities available
From 30 July to 5 August, St Paul Old Ford and St Mary of Eton will display their planning proposals for an exciting Floating Community Hub at Here East, Canalside, East Wick, London on board Elsdale II.
The Floating Community Hub would offer a diverse range of activities and services to support the growing local resident, business and visitor community and contribute to the cultural activity on the waterways. The ambitious bespoke design concept is one of the projects selected through the recent tender exercise for the Sweetwater commercial moorings, offering an efficient, practical space that aims to significantly contribute to the creative community in Hackney.
Meanwhile, the project will benefit from the use of an interim vessel – The Elsdale II – which has been kindly leased by the Groundwork South charity.
A once simple patch of grass next to Stonebridge Lock on the River Lee has this week completed an extraordinary makeover, with the Canal & River Trust and local volunteers turning it into an edible community garden.
The area next to Stonebridge Lock Café, which was little more than scrub, now boasts large timber beds installed for growing vegetables, fruit trees and a series of sculptures designed by Daniel Cordell. Over £12,000 has been invested in the project thanks to the Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative which, in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork, awards the proceeds generated from the sale of carrier bags in stores to create or improve green spaces in communities.
Landscaping work began back in the spring, with the completed garden now open for everyone to enjoy. The work was led by the Trust in partnership with Action For Kids, Stonebridge Lock Café and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
Jeannette Brooks, Canal & River Trust development and engagement manager, said: “We’re over the moon to have completed the garden. The café next to Stonebridge lock, run by Stephen Keys is really popular, but if you were here a few months ago you’d have seen how tired the space around it was. Now it’s been completely transformed into a fully accessible, wheelchair friendly space - full of colour and character. It’s a really great place to stop off and relax, whether you’re walking, cycling, boating or just want to escape the bustle of the city.
“As a charity, we rely so much on the local community alongside the River Lee and the garden here at Stonebridge still needs lots of care to help the plants establish and thrive. We have more volunteering activity planned in the autumn, so do get in touch if you like working outdoors and want to get stuck in.”
Come and join us at this month’s Towpath Taskforce to help get our canals and rivers looking their best for the busy summer season. More information on each of these events can be found by clicking the links below. All tools, equipment and instruction will be supplied. Please wear old clothes and hard-soled footwear, and don’t forget your sun cream!
If you enjoy meeting people and are looking for a flexible volunteer experience on London’s canals then this could be the one for you. We’re introducing visitor mooring rangers at sites across central and west London, to provide a welcoming information service to mooring customers and record information about boats using the mooring. We’re looking for volunteers who can give a minimum of one hour a week (this could be in the evening or weekend), with a friendly manner and enthusiasm for canals, boating and your local area. Find out more
Towpath improvement works have now been completed at Alperton, between the North Circular Aqueduct and Manor Farm Road (Piggery Bridge). We have some very minor finishing works to undertake around the utility covers but the towpath is now significantly upgraded and fully open for all to enjoy.
See our before and after photos here:
This complements the newly widened towpath between Ladbroke Grove and Old Oak Lane. The small section outside The Collective (formerly Nash House) at Old Oak Lane left just needs to be completed, which will take place later in the year when we will finally dispense with those noisy path covers.
We are currently planning the next sections of towpath improvements from Alperton to Greenford, which are scheduled to be worked on from the Autumn. This will require some towpath closures and mooring suspensions during the works and we will provide more information in due course. Ongoing design works is also taking place for future towpath improvements on the Grand Union heading north from Bulls Bridge.
More information on the programme of towpath improvements and project updates can be found on Quietways London. Thank for your patience during the works, while we bring you better towpaths!
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