Welcome to our first London Boating Bulletin of the New Year! This month, why not get out and about on our first Volunteer Day in Millwall Dock, or visit Old Ford Lock to see our young people’s mural? Read on for more and news on Limehouse Basin visitor moorings, unpowered craft in Maida Hill Tunnel, winter works, the London Mooring Strategy and our new Canal Laureate!
BWML Ltd, who manage the Limehouse Marina, have now submitted a planning application for their proposed changes to the visitor moorings in Limehouse Basin. The proposals involve new pontoons along the Basin wall providing better disabled access for visiting boats, as well as increasing the capacity for visiting sailing boats coming in off the Thames.
Following discussions with us and testing of the proposed changes to assess the potential impact on navigation, the proposed pontoons have now been reduced in length. BWML have also agreed to re-locate the public pump-out machine to the northern end of the existing service pontoon, enabling safer and more convenient access for boaters passing between the Regent’s Canal and Limehouse Cut.
The current length of free 24-hour moorings will be retained, using the wall and one of the new pontoons, thereby improving disabled access. The proposals will provide additional space for those wanting to stay for more than 24 hours while they visit London, available on a pre-bookable basis. The Trust is always happy to work with boating groups to accommodate additional mooring needs if required for large events. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Maida Hill Tunnel on the Regent’s Canal runs under the Edgware Road, a short distance away from Paddington Station. Despite being a short tunnel by waterway standards, canoes and other unpowered craft were prohibited from using the Tunnel. Around the country, unpowered craft are often permitted to use much longer tunnels, so we decided to look again at how it’s used.
It’s now been over a year since we started a trial to allow unpowered craft to transit the Tunnel. Any groups who wished to do so were asked to apply for authorisation. Active 360 was the only group which applied, being granted authorisation which has now been extended until April 2018.
Following a review of the trial, we will now be opening up the Tunnel to allow free use by unpowered craft, with an opening date estimated to be April 2018. A review will be carried out 12 months after the opening date.
In order to facilitate the safe use of the Tunnel by unpowered craft, we will be updating all the tunnel signage to make it clear that unpowered craft will be permitted, and that they should wear a personal flotation device and have a forward facing white light. We will also be improving the signs for powered craft to make them more legible, even though they meet the current tunnel signage standards. As part of the tunnel signage review we will work with key parties to ensure they meet the needs of all waterway users.
At the Islington Tunnel, however, there is no change and unpowered craft will continue to be prohibited. We will be updating the signage there to make them clearer and more legible as well.
In line with the Inland Waterways Association briefing note “Navigating Canal Tunnels Safely”, which has been endorsed by British Canoeing, we recommend that commercial operators review their operating risk assessments following the guidance within.
Did you have your say on the draft London Mooring Strategy? The online survey closed on 18 December and we received over 1200 responses, so thank you to everyone who took part. As some people requested paper copies of the survey very close to the deadline, we allowed some additional time for them until 18 January. We are busy reviewing all the consultation feedback and aim to consider any changes needed in February and March. In the meantime, please think of your neighbours and fairly share the waterspace!
Winter moorings are in full swing as we enter the coldest months of the year and the second half of our winter works programme. If you’d like to take up a winter mooring, there are some places still available (permits can be purchased up to the end of February). You can purchase these by logging into your online account and selecting “Winter Moorings”. Simply search your location and the nearest Winter Mooring will show. Alternatively, please check our website for information.
Did you know that Rembrandt Gardens in Little Venice is the only bookable visitor mooring we offer in London (other operators are available!)? We have now opened up bookings at Rembrandt Gardens for the whole of 2018, so if you’d like the reassurance of a guaranteed mooring when you’re visiting the area, please visit our website to book.
As part of our draft London Mooring Strategy, we are looking at other similar sites, generally not on the towpath side, where we can offer a bookable mooring option for those who want it. Watch this space!
Did you know that we also look after the wide expanses of water on the Isle of Dogs in London Docklands? Join us on Thursday 25 January between 10am and 3.30pm at Millwall Outer Dock for a satisfying day's work at Docklands. We'll be helping to improve the greenspace for visitors and wildlife by collecting litter and cutting back overgrown vegetation. This is a very special project as it is the first of its kind in the Docklands area. We are also going to include a floating litter pick within a boat trip in the water space surrounding Millwall Outer Dock!
All tools and equipment will be provided, together with expert and friendly support and refreshments. We'll be delighted to see you there. You're welcome to join us for the morning or bring a packed lunch and stay all day!
For more information and to apply, please visit our website, call or email today.
We're on the lookout for volunteers to join our Towpath Taskforce – a regular group that gets out by the water to clear vegetation, tidy the towpath and paint bridges. Taskforce volunteers will be supported by our staff, who want to spruce up the waterway so it’s in top condition for the thousands of boaters, walkers, runners and cyclists who use it.
Forthcoming events include:
No experience is required to join the Towpath Taskforce, you just need to be willing to get stuck in. Please wear old clothes appropriate for the weather conditions (e.g. waterproof jacket, warm layers) and sturdy footwear or wellies. For details of these forthcoming events, have a look at our Towpath Taskforce diary or by searching for an opportunity near to you.
The waterways are wonderful places to enjoy, but spare a thought for what would happen if you or someone else fell in. We provide safety chains attached to the canal wall to enable anyone who falls in to find their way to a safety ladder and climb out. If you are looking for somewhere to moor your boat, please do not tie up to safety chains or the loops attaching them to the wall. Not only does this block access for anyone in the water, it also weakens the loops and eventually pulls them out of the wall. Please think of your fellow canal users when mooing, and do take care on the towpath, especially in wet and icy conditions.
We’re now deep into our winter works programme, when we carry out all our big repair works while while you’re less likely to be out on the cut.
Just before Christmas we replaced the massive lock gates at Hardmead Lock on the River Lee in Great Amwell, and this month we’ve completed an emergency repair at Osterley Lock in west London, following what looks like criminal damage to the gate mechanisms.
When any restrictions to navigation happen, we get them up on to our website as soon as we can – its always best to have a scan before you set off for a cruise. If you have any questions about a specific closure in the London area please contact email@example.com.
Of course, there are other times when we need to fix things that unexpectedly break, so check the London list to see if anything’s happening that may affect you before you set off. Please remember to plan ahead – make sure you’ve got enough diesel and that you’ve made suitable arrangements for emptying your toilets, topping up your water supplies and disposing of your rubbish.
The Canal Laureateship was established by The Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust in 2013, to encourage exciting new writing about the canal network. The project is part of the Arts on the Waterways programme, a wider partnership between the Canal & River Trust, Arts Council England and Arts Council of Wales.
Our first ever Canal Laureate was boating poet Jo Bell. Jo was appointed to the role with a brief to bring a new perspective to the nation's historic canals and rivers and encourage more people to see their local waterways in a new light.
In January 2018, Nancy Campbell took over the role after our most recent canal laureate Luke Kennard's successful term came to an end.
Oxford-based poet and kayaker Nancy has a keen interest in arctic, marine and water conservation, following on from her winter residency at the most northern museum in the world in Greenland in 2010, and subsequent museum residencies in both Greenland and Iceland over the last seven years.
During 2018 she will "seek out and share stories" from the people and places she will encounter during her travels along the 2,000 miles of the nation’s historic canals and waterways looked after by us.
Nancy's new poems and observations will be published on Waterlines. Follow Nancy’s adventures via Twitter @CanalPoetry.
Inspired by our London Waterway Partnership’s strategic aim to devise and deliver arts projects which connect with young people – we’ve been collaborating on an arts project with Core Arts in Hackney, who provide learning, training and employment initiatives that help people who experience mental health issues to overcome barriers, fulfil their potential and take part fully in their community.
Core Arts ran a project called 'Wishing you Well' at Old Ford Lock on the Lee Navigation, encouraging young people aged 16 to 24 to explore how the local canal could promote wellbeing, through a series of workshops and the creation of a mural. These started in September 2016 with three design sessions that looked at the concepts of a mural.
The young people came up with their own ideas and themes for what the mural would look like. This included brainstorming ideas for the message of the mural and what landmarks would appear in the final design. They were also encouraged to go ‘out and about’, taking photos for inspiration and getting to know their local stretch of canal.
With a design created from these sessions, painting the mural happened in a series of day-long workshops, twice a week over three months. Around eight young people took part each time at the Core Arts centre in Hackney Wick.
The mural has been installed at the Old Ford Stables welcome station on the Lee Navigation next to the Old Ford Lock, with help from our own volunteers. Opened during the Carpenter's Road Lock festival in the summer of 2017, the welcome station wall is now a full-length version of the mural.
Why not pop in a take a look for yourself?
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