Welcome to our final Boating Bulletin of the year! We have advice this month about staying safe over the holidays; news about towpaths, facilities and maintenance; a podcast on our London Mooring Strategy; and important information about lock opening times over the festive period.
Have you responded to the draft London Mooring Strategy consultation yet? We had over 50 people attend our consultation workshop at the London Canal Museum on 28 November. After a presentation by Matthew Symonds from our national Boating team and a question and answer session, there was lots of interesting discussion in three break out groups on the themes of greener boating, meeting needs around boater facilities, and meeting demand for moorings.
You can hear an audio recording of the presentation and Q&A session here courtesy of Joel Sanders, who you may know as the stand-up comic ‘The Angry Boater’. Joel has a whimsical blog about boating life and a series of podcasts featuring people working and living on the waterways. Check out his latest podcast where he talks to our London Mooring Ranger Gareth George.
Closing date for submissions is 18 December 2017.
The canals are an integral part of the history of this great city, and form an important part of the urban landscape in London. The environment around them is constantly changing, and the Kings Cross area is no exception. For the past two years the towpath between St.Pancras Lock and the Granary Square steps have been closed to allow for the safe re-development of the Fish & Coals building. As this work is nearing completion, the towpath moorings will be coming back online shortly, with the pontoon being removed and the hoardings coming down. We’ve also agreed with the developer, Argent, that they will upgrade the mooring by installing new mooring rings in the towpath edge, making life a lot easier when the ground is rock hard in summer or mushy in winter. So, winter weather permitting, look out for these re-instated moorings in February.
If you’re in east London and have had to take a diversion around the Victoria Park area due to towpath works, you’ll be pleased to know that towpath is due to re-open imminently. Access at the junction of the Hertford Union canal and the Regent’s in Bow has been shut for some months due to building works and a fire affecting the new build properties on the adjacent site, but the towpath is now due to re-open on 8 December 2017.
We’re always looking at better ways of communicating with everyone who uses the waterways, using both digital and more traditional methods. Recently, you may have noticed Trust colleagues out and about looking at our towpath noticeboards. We haven’t used these to their potential recently and many are worse for wear. Over the coming weeks we hope to have a new insert installed in each noticeboard, customised to each locality. All noticeboards will be checked and overhauled too so the contents can be easily read.
Each noticeboard insert will have a section where information on boater facilities in the area can be found, as well as another for topical news (to cover events and forthcoming navigation closures/restrictions etc). We envisage updating the topical news section each month to keep you informed of what is going on.
We look forward to your feedback on these so do please tell us what you think of the contents and if there is anything else you would like to see included.
We want to say a massive thank you to all our amazing volunteers for all the incredibly valuable work you do to help look after the waterways. From volunteer lock keepers, volunteer towpath rangers, welcome station volunteers and volunteer caretaker boaters, to London Waterway Partnership Members, corporate volunteers and adoption groups (and many more!), many thousands of hours have been contributed and many miles of waterway cared for. We thank you all, and wish you a happy International Volunteers Day! Keep up the amazing work! Visit our website for more information on volunteering
As we continue to improve the boater facilities at Old Ford Lock on the Lee Navigation, we’re happy to announce that The Hive at Swan’s Wharf are on now on board as volunteer caretakers. Old Ford on the Lee is one of our busiest customer service facilities, and also one that is most often misused and abused. Its exposed location makes its vulnerable to fly-tipping and vandalism, so we are working on a range of improvements to the site, including new secure facilities and CCTV.
The Hive will work closely with us to reduce fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour in the area. They will also open and lock the boaters’ toilet in the recently refurbished boater facilities block, ensuring that that the toilets are not abused out of hours. The new toilet opening times will be 0900:1800 every weekday, times may vary at the weekend. The re-located Elsan is unaffected, remaining accessible at all times with a boaters’ key. This partnership will continue to evolve, working closely with our team of Volunteer Lock Keepers and other local business and trading boats.
If you’d like to get more involved in looking after the area, please contact Sorwar.firstname.lastname@example.org
Vegetation around the waterways is an essential part of their unique character, but needs constant management to keep the waterways flowing and the towpath clear. Our teams are out and about regularly snipping, sawing and grubbing up where necessary. We’re also working with volunteer groups to focus on areas that need special attention, engaging local people and working towards an ‘adoption’ for those areas.
We’re currently working on an extensive vegetation cut on the Lee Navigation between Carthagena and Aqueduct Locks, to cut back overhanging trees and low branches to increase the width of the navigation. In partnership with Lee Valley Regional Park and the Broxbourne Rowing Club, the work will continue through the winter months using a combination of the Trust’s boats and equipment supporting volunteers and staff from the rowing club and the Park.
We are also just completing our grass cutting programme for the year, in readiness to start our tree works programme across the whole of the London Waterway. Trees have already been surveyed and those which have been identified as dead, diseased or dangerous will receive the necessary attention from tree surgeons. The winter veg works will commence outside of nesting season following the completion of the seasonal grass cutting
Despite the prolonged dry spell this year, heavy rains brings the prospect of flooding each winter. We now have a page in the water safety section of our website providing advice on water safety during flooding. Should there be any flooding in your area during the winter, this is well worth checking out.
With towpath moorings increasingly under pressure across the London region, we’re seeing more boats mooring up in precarious places such as tying to bridges, railings or escape ladders. This can be dangerous and can often damage the fragile waterway infrastructure.
Land on the offside is mostly privately owned, and therefore there is no right to moor unless you have the landowner’s permission. At Hale Wharf in Tottenham, on the offside above Tottenham Lock, a major new re-development is taking place and the site will be a building site for some time. During the works, there will be access rights across the site to the existing pontoon moorings. However, except for the pontoons, which are for permit holders only, the rest of the site is not available for mooring, so please do use the extensive towpath moorings opposite.
Have you seen the canals on film lately? Sometimes it’s hard to miss them! The waterways are so photogenic that we get numerous requests to use them as film or photography backgrounds, many featuring characters living or working on the water.
Highlights this year include Paddington 2, the Paddington Bear feature film, which includes a whole scene in Little Venice featuring a chaotic chase with Paddington riding on the back of a dog and creating havoc in Browning's Pool. Two films will be coming out next year featuring London canals and rivers with characters living on boats: Swimming With Men and Finding Your Feet, which is set in Little Venice. In 2014, the Regent's Canal doubled up as the River Thames for S.P.E.C.T.R.E, and in February 2015 Three Mills on the River Lee Navigation became Vienna for a scene in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (our widebeam boat Jena had a cameo role!).
Lots of TV dramas were filmed on our canals in the past year too, from Silent Witness, Gunpowder, and EastEnders to Guerrilla and Lucky Man. And of course the wonderful Great Canal Journeys starring Prunella Scales and Timothy West is in its eighth series, with a new episode featuring the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal airing on Channel 4 this week.
While filming can often involve a large crew and lots of equipment, we try to keep disruption to a minimum. We find most boaters are happy to co-operate when space on the towpath is needed, in the knowledge that accommodating filming and photography brought in £120,000 in fees last year across the country, which is reinvested in looking after canals.
Stoppage closures are always subject to change so please check here for the up to date listing for the London Waterways when planning a mooring or journey.
Please be aware that Thames Lock, Brentford Gauging Lock and Bow Locks will be closed on 25 December 2017 and 1 January 2018.
For any bookings between 22 December 2017 and 2 January 2018 please call and book by 18 December on 03030 40 40 40 or email us.
Bookings made after this date cannot be accommodated over the Christmas period.
The Docklands office, where your emails are received and answered from as well as where you can buy cards and keys, will be closed from 5pm on 22 December until 9am on 2 January.
The Little Venice office will be closed on the same basis as Docklands.
Waterside Café boat at Little Venice, which sells pump out cards and boater keys, will be closed from 23 December – 5 January inclusive.
Stonebridge Café at Stonebridge Lock on the Lee, which sells pump out cards, will be closed Christmas/Boxing Days and again on New Year’s Day. The Café is open generally 8am – 5pm Tuesday – Sunday.
Thames Lock at Brentford, which sells pump out cards and boater keys as well as offering short term licences, will be closed 25 December and 1 January.
Please make sure you stock up with sufficient cards to meet the extended closure over the festive period. However you spend the festive season, we wish you a wonderful time and look forward to supporting you again after the Christmas break.
We wish all our readers the warmest season’s greetings, and would like to say a big thank you to all our many supporters, Friends and especially volunteers who have done so much to keep the waterways amazing!
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 canals.See more blogs from this author