As the boating season gets underway, there’s lots going on across the London waterways whether you enjoy boating, visiting or getting stuck in! This month we have news on new mooring opportunities in Kings Cross, a community arts programme on the Lee Navigation, a community-led Canal Watch scheme, and volunteer Towpath Taskforces across the region. And remember, if you’re out in a boat, help us save water and keep the waterways flowing!
If you’re passing through King’s Cross this spring, you’ll find that the Regent’s Canal towpath between Granary Square and St.Pancras Lock is now open! After more than two years of re-development work at the Fish and Coal Buildings, you’ll now be able to walk or cycle alongside the canal again, taking in views of Camley St. Natural Park. For a more direct route between Gasholder Park and Granary Square, an alternative path is already open behind the Fish and Coal Buildings, providing stunning views over the regeneration of the Coal Drops Yard.
With the opening of the towpath, this section is open again for casual mooring, where boats can stay for up to 14 days, avoiding the bollards marking the lock landing. Following discussions between the developers, Argent and us the grass verge has been replaced with new mooring rings to protect the high-voltage electricity cables that run under the towpath and provide more secure mooring. It’s been a long time coming, but the re-instated moorings will be a big boost for those visiting this amazing and fast changing canal-side quarter!
If you like all things watery, there’s a busy summer of waterway festivals ahead! The festival season kicks off this year with the Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice over the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Organised by volunteers from the Inland Waterways Association, this unique annual boat gathering has been going from strength to strength since 1983. Little Venice will become a hub of activity with a boaters’ gathering, a pageant of boats, trade shows and stalls, live music, competitions, Morris Dancers, a real ale bar, a wide variety of snacks and food, and fun activities for all the family.
We’ll be at Cavalcade, so come and meet us on board our widebeam boat, Jena, to hear about all the hidden places you can visit on the London waterways, how we’re looking after them, and how you can get involved. The Cavalcade runs from 5-7 May 2018, and admission is free. For more information please visit The Inland Waterways Association.
Twice a year we hold open Forums to share news about the waterways and hear your feedback. Our Spring Forum will be on Wednesday 18 April from 7pm – 9pm at the London Canal Museum in Kings Cross. Come and meet the team, hear about developments, what we’re doing to make the waterways a great place to enjoy and how to get involved.
The evening will cover presentations about our work and table discussions based on issues raised by participants. The agenda includes the our regional re-structuring plans; the publication of the London Mooring Strategy; new projects, volunteering, forthcoming events and festivals; and discussions on safety and security (‘Canal Watch’ initiative), litter, community-led projects and moorings.
Please book your place here so we have an idea of numbers attending. We hope to see you there!
A new neighbourhood watch scheme is taking shape on the London waterways, to promote a sense of community and help ensure waterways remain safe and enjoyable places for all. Following the Reclaim The Towpath/Human Chain event on the Lee Navigation in October 2017, boaters have created Canal Watch London - a towpath patrol providing a presence that deters crime, and encourages the community to take control of their space.
Working with local police, the marine police unit, Canal and River Trust, and the Shomrim (Community Safety Patrol) at Stamford Hill to adopt the most effective protocol and ensure a safe way to look after towpath users, Canal Watch is currently operating along the Regent’s and Hertford Union Canals in the Victoria Park area.
Canal Watch are organising events to raise safety awareness along the canal, in partnership with the police and us. Whether you want to be kept updated with towpath safety, or want to take part in patrols, Canal Watch would like to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
Spring is in the air and many water fowl are feeling amorous. As a boater, you need to be aware of the love lives of your local birds, or else you could find your boating plans thwarted by a nest where you don’t want one.
Whilst it might seem like a wonderful thing to watch nature up close for a few weeks, awaiting the chirps of newly hatched babies, as a boater it can cause major havoc with your plans. By law you will not be able to move your boat until the baby birds have left the nest. This can delay cruising for a couple of months, potentially ruining holidays or leading the cancellation of dry docking bookings made months in advance.
If you are liveaboard boater it could be even worse, leaving you seeking alternative accommodation for the duration once your water tank is empty, your toilet tank full, and depending on the location of the nest, being unable to run the engine to generate power.
For more information on your legal obligations and tricks to avoid nests developing, visit our website.
Despite the recent heavy rains, we have been suffering a prolonged period of dry weather over the last few years, and the River Lea/Lee Navigation in particular is suffering low flows. Conservation of water supplies is important if we are to keep our waterways flowing. Here are some tips to help you use less water as you cruise around:
For more advice about saving water when you’re out boating visit our website.
After several months working together with the Trust to clear vegetation on the River Lee, Broxbourne Rowing Club has signed up to become one of our newest adoption partners. The group gets together monthly as part of their adoption agreement, with support from our local operations team, to tackle overhanging vegetation. They have already done a great job of clearing the navigation, which had become very narrow and difficult for it to be used by both rowers and boaters. The Rowing Club’s Ian Henley said 'It's great to see this work being started as it had been outstanding for a long time'. Our operational staff are looking forward to continuing working with the Club members to keep the navigation clear.
Have you noticed a sudden increase in floating litter? This time of year there is noticeably more litter on the waterways than normal. This is known as ‘turnover’. Essentially, as the water warms up in spring, litter, debris and other detritus that had been on the bottom of canal floats to the surface. We’ve got teams working along the waterways to get this litter cleared as soon as possible, and also have had help from our volunteers. It’s massively frustrating that this litter makes it’s way into the waterways in the first place, so we are working with everyone to raise the issue with key decision-makers and influencers to prevent littering and promote more responsible behaviour.
People throughout Enfield are being encouraged to help shape a new arts project that aims to bring creative and cultural projects to the River Lee - through ‘Talkaoke’! This is a fun and informal mobile chat-show and platform for creative exchange, which is coming to Enfield as part of Hinterlands, a national arts programme that aims to reinvigorate five areas of canal and river where there is low engagement with the waterways and the arts.
Between late April and early June, Hinterlands will offer local communities in Enfield, and children and young people from Oasis Academy and Prince of Wales Primary School, the opportunity to take part in creative river walks and boat trips, performance, spoken word and filmmaking activities with renowned and local artists including Sapphire Goss, Josh Bilton and Tiger Monkey.
Local people are invited to join Talkaoke sessions in Enfield on:
If you would like to know more about the Hinterlands programme in Enfield and get involved either as a participant or partner, please contact creative producer, Clare Moloney email@example.com
Join us at Towpath Taskforce to breathe in that spring air! We’ll be out at Broxbourne, Hanwell, Haggerston and Little Venice, helping to get our towpaths looking their best. More information on each of these events can be found by clicking the links below. Details of the May events can be found on the London Volunteering page. 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!
Visit our website for more information.
As a busy season of winter works comes to an end and the cruising season gets under way, we thought it would be nice to share some success stories from our Works team.
After successfully installing dam timbers to drain Stanstead Lock on the Lee Navigation, we were quickly able to see that the issue with the paddle was that the plastic runner had become detached from the paddle guide. The runner was removed all around the paddle and the repair was completed. Whilst we had the water out of the Lock we also replaced the paddle bolts. The repair was completed within a day and the lock opened a day earlier than expected.
Further down the Lee Navigation at Aqueduct Lock, we found that the Lock was leaking below water level. Our investigations showed that the metal work on the gate was sitting proud of the timber heel post, thus preventing the gate from being able to close against the original cill timber. A new cill timber was installed which now fits up tight to the gate, forming a watertight seal.
At Enfield Lock a complete replacement of the top lock gates was needed. We replaced the top end mitre timber cills, and installed a new pair of top gates, as well as overhauling the lock gate rams.
Over at Osterley Lock on the Grand Union, emergency repairs were needed after both paddles had been ripped off one set of Lock gates. The damage was so great that new parts were needed, and divers had to be booked to undertake the repairs. Although the initial estimate was a closure of several weeks, we were able to complete the repairs in three days.
The team was busy all winter, working hard to complete all our planned works on time for the end of April target, despite snow and bad weather. After another successful programme, that’s it for this season. We hope you enjoy the cruising season, and plan ahead by looking out for consultation on next winter’s programme on our website.
In this month’s profile of the we feature Frank Overare, our new Customer Support Supervisor for the London waterway.
‘Hello everyone, I’m Frank, the newest member of the customer support team at the Docklands office. I live in south London and have called Elephant and Castle my home and place for my two troublesome but adorable guinea pigs. I enjoy the people, culture, seasons, events and many outdoor activities available to the local community.
Prior to taking up my role, I worked with the London Overground team as a Ticket Office Clerk – giving timely travel advice to customers who ply the service on the East London Line. I enjoy communicating and engaging with the public, and solving problems due to my firm belief that "a problem shared is a problem half solved".
Here, no day is ever the same, which is quite exciting for me because I get to listen to the customers and offer a solution to guarantee a memorable experience. Sometimes it’s a bit challenging but the goal is all about putting that extra effort into putting a smile on customers’ faces, which is a source of motivation for the team and myself. My approach to any encounter with customers is this "it is all about the people". I know what it takes to guarantee a successful customer experience – making the process positive and seamless!’
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