This month's bulletin includes a report on our recent Open Weekend at St Pancras Lock, information on delays to winter works at Brick Lock on the Stort, and how you can book your place at our Spring Forum.
We are looking for three members of the modern-day boaters’ community, who live and work from their boats and are willing to be interviewed about life on the water in 21st century London.
What is it for?
As part of the new public-facing information at Carpenters Road Lock (currently being restored) in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, we are creating digital multimedia that visitors can explore using their smartphones. Some of this will be historical (old photographs, reminiscences, diagram of the lock mechanism), but we are also looking to bring the story of Britain’s waterways up to date.
We hope to introduce the public to the inside story of living on the water by interviewing three boaters about the lifestyle, community and practicalities of boat life.
We have arranged with a local oral history organisation to carry out three short interviews with boaters and edit these down into usable segments. The interviews would take about 20 minutes, and the segments would be used on a smartphone-friendly web app launched at Carpenters Road Lock from the information panels.
The focus of the interviews will be on three main topics:
If you are able to support your interview with any suitable photos of yourself, your boat or your best moments on the water, that would be very useful to add. We are able to scan the images if they are not already digital.
How much of my material will be used?
We don’t know exactly, but we expect to edit one extended piece of between 60 and 90 seconds from each interview, plus some possible use of the ‘offcut’ material for background.
How do I sign up?
We would like to carry out the interviews in early March, with an aim to have the edited material ready to use by the end of April. If you are interested in taking part, please contact us asap.
See our website for more information.
Do you remember the search for Rose’s diamond necklace in 1997’s Titanic?
Well … it’s not quite the same ... but one of our 45 tonne work boats recently found a safe hidden in the depths of the Regent’s at King’s Cross. It took us an hour to crane it out and … it was empty. There wasn’t even a sketch drawn “like one of your French girls.”
Stewart Qureshi, who craned the safe from the water, said: “We do find unusual things in the canal from time to time, but it’s usually when we drain the water out to make repairs. We suspect the raided safe was dropped off the nearby bridge and it’s only because our work boat has a deeper hull than most boats that we discovered it. We’ve been in touch with the police to see what they have to say about it.”
Enquiries London’s very own Sam B was one of the stars of this year’s Climate Coalition campaign, featuring in national posters in her Trust polo.
By supporting the campaign, we’re saying that “Unless politicians know this is something we all care about, they won’t have the mandate to act. So let’s show our politicians that so many of us do care, that this issue is really important to us. Because it affects the things we love most. Our families. Our hobbies. Our passions. Our lifestyles. Our safety and wellbeing. We’re saying loud and clear – let’s act on climate change, for the love of everything we hold dear.”
We’re really grateful to everyone who showed up at our Open Weekend at the start of February and to all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make it a success. Forty-eight Friends joined the Trust, 3,377 visitors enjoyed tours of the lock chamber and 350 people came to the first ever gig in a lock on the Saturday night.
We trialled other activities such as contactless giving, bird box building, selling pieces of lock gate, visits to the top of the nearby Victorian water tower – giving fantastic views across London – guided heritage walks and free boat trips to the London Canal Museum, all adding to the visitor experience.
Influential bloggers were invited to a preview of the event on the Friday, and live video was streamed to the Trust’s followers on Facebook. Campaigns manager Sarah Burns said: “I want to thank everyone who played a part in the weekend’s success, particularly the operations team who were there all weekend, gave up their Saturday nights to help with the music event and provided very engaging and informative lock tours. And, of course, our marvellous volunteers, without whom we would not have been able to hold the event.”
St Pancras Lock on the Regent’s Canal had been drained to allow for the gates to be replaced as part of £158,000 lock improvements. The lock opened as planned on 10 February.
Brick Lock (Lock 14) on the River Stort has been closed since 4 January for a reconstruction of the chamber wall. This has not been going as smoothly as we planned. The wall that we’re replacing was not constructed as anticipated and much more had to be removed. This then uncovered issues with the foundations and we have had to re-design our solution in response to these factors.
The works will not be sufficiently complete for the lock to reopen on 31 March. We will be able to advise the new opening date before the end of February. Make sure you are signed up to receive notices to keep up to date.
A new bridge is being installed to link the developments at Granary Square to Camley Street. The navigation will remain open during these works but there may be delays. The towpath will be closed from 27 March to 14 April. We understand that the bridge doesn’t open to pedestrians and cyclists until the summer.
Alongside the London Legacy Development Corporation we are seeking floating businesses to moor up in vibrant Hackney Wick, alongside Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
As London’s east end waterways continue to grow in popularity, supported by the transformation of the Park, the Trust and the Legacy Corporation want to create new opportunities for boaters and businesses that will make the waterway even more appealing. They are looking for high-quality businesses that will bring something fresh and inspiring to this busy and pleasant area.
Mike Grimes, our head of boating said: "This is a great opportunity for boating businesses to bring something a bit different to a really exciting part of our waterways. Hackney Wick is home to a diverse, creative community. With Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on its doorstep it’s also a popular place for visitors. The waterways in this area have been transformed and more people live, work and stroll along them than ever before. We’re delighted to see more people enjoying the waterways and we want to offer them as wide an opportunity as possible to do so.”
Sam Jefferys won the Trust’s catch of the year prize for the stunning Linear Carp he caught along the Waterway Wanderers section of the Regent’s Canal. It weighed a massive 35lbs and we think it’s one of the largest carps to have been caught on the canals in London. Well done, Sam!
Old Ford Lock on the River Lee in Hackney Wick was given a vital deep clean this month, thanks to a team of a dozen local volunteers. A floating conveyor belt helped to scoop the litter from the water, while volunteers also gathered rubbish from the towpath. Sandile Mthiyane, Canal & River Trust volunteer leader, said: “We’re really grateful to the volunteers who turned out to help us, as a charity we need this type of support if we are to keep the River in the best possible condition. If we get help on projects like this, it also frees up more time for us to focus on other improvements in the area too. You can see the difference a few extra pairs of hands can make, so if you are keen to get involved then get in touch.”
We’ll be hosting our next London Waterway Forum on 19 April at the London Canal Museum, 2-13 New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, London, N1 9RT from 7pm to 9pm. It’s another chance to meet with Trust staff and discuss the issues that matter to you! Places are limited and so we ask that you book by emailing us.
People leaving gates or paddles open have contributed to recent low water levels on the Regent’s. Can we ask that all gates and paddles are closed? … particular problems have been reported at Actons Lock (Lock 7) Old Ford Lock (Lock 8) and Commercial Road Lock (Lock 12).
We have an electronic system that updates us on the network’s water levels and so if you’re experiencing low water levels it’s very likely that we’re aware and sending water down to you. But you can always report to us by getting in touch.
Join us at Towpath Taskforce!:
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