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London Boaters' Update - May 2022

Hello and welcome to another edition of London Boaters’ Update.

Little Venice, courtesy of Helen Matthews

Keep reading for all your May news from the waterways of London.

In this edition you will find:

  • Hayes Canal Festival 2022
  • A quick thank you to our Cavalcade supporters
  • London Mooring Strategy update
  • Points of interest
  • Circular revolution
  • Stemming the tide of invasive weeds on London's waterways
  • Upcoming known works/closures

Hayes Canal Festival 2022

A group of young children getting ready to canoe

We're were very excited to bring back Hayes Canal Festival on Sunday 29 May after a nearly three-year hiatus.

There will be activities throughout the day, with something suitable for everyone, such as free boat trips or canoe sessions, and visitors will also have a chance to try their hand for free at introductory fishing sessions. Away from the water there will be face painting, community and craft stalls, a climbing wall and live entertainment.

In partnership with Hillingdon Council and Retail Revival, we are currently working on a regeneration initiative to revitalise Hillingdon High Street through a ‘Canal Retail Trail'. At the event, we encourage you to follow the trail, visiting the high street and the independent businesses there, completing the trail at Retail Revival's stall where you can then collect a free goodie bag!

Ros Daniels, London & the South East Director at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “Hayes Canal Festival is one of our favourite events and, celebrating the contribution that volunteers and partners are making across London's waterways, we're especially excited to be bringing the Festival back this summer – ten years after the Canal & River Trust was established as a charity to protect, preserve and promote these amazing waterways.

"We hope that this event showcasing the Grand Union Canal will encourage the local community to use this special blue space on their doorstep. Come along to enjoy the day's activities and hear more about the projects we're working on this year to make your local area blue, green, and better.”

David Brough, Chair of Hillingdon Canals Partnership, added:

“We started Hayes Canal Festival eight years ago to raise awareness of the local community about the fantastic asset that the Grand Union Canal provides for local people. Since it has been run by the Canal & River Trust it has gone from strength to strength and become a highlight of the year for Hayes families. After the break caused by the pandemic it is a joy to see it happening again.”

Find out more details about Hayes Canal Festival 2022.

A quick thank you to our Cavalcade supporters

A man in a hat talking to a woman

We had a fantastic time meeting so many of our boating customers at the Canalway Cavalcade. Our brilliant volunteers were on hand at our stand all weekend, as were our rangers who held a boaters' surgery – with more to follow at events throughout the summer. A huge thank you to everyone who came and said hello.

London Mooring Strategy Update

We are pleased to report that the new relocated water point at Old Ford Top Lock has been installed. The new location away from the lock means that boaters can fill up without causing an obstruction to those passing through the lock.

Points of interest

Over the winter months on the River Stort, we have focused on clearing vegetation that was set to impede navigation during the summer months. The work has now paused for the bird nesting season.

Also, on the River Stort, together with the River Lee, we have been filling in the potholes, making the towpath easier to use for boaters and others.

In West London we have completed access road improvement works at Coppermill where the poor condition of the road had been the cause of customer irritation. Over 40 tons of material was used for the repairs.

In response to your feedback we've been out to fix the balance beam at Brick Lock on the Stort. The gate had been lifted by a boat, causing damage to the beam.

Contractors are currently on site at the Greenford Quay development (former Glaxo buildings). They will shortly start the long-awaited 320m of towpath improvements between Greenford Road and Oldfield Lane, completing this section of Quietway improvements on the Grand Union Paddington Arm, costing around £100k.

Our application to the Mayor of London's Rewild London Fund has been successful. We have been awarded £50k to deliver our project to install almost 150m of reedbed habitat on the Lee Navigation. The first location will be near Tottenham Lock and the second location at Lee Park Way. We will be partnering with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and Thames 21 to deliver the project.

Circular revolution

Compost toilet waste being transformed into valuable soil conditioner

Circular Revolution's aim is to provide sustainable collection services for toilet waste for boaters living on the canals and waterways of Central London and to transform this into a soil conditioner to replenish depleted soils and brownfield sites.

Nine months into operations, Circular Revolution has almost 40 regular customers who receive a fortnightly or weekly (monthly) collection service, as well as a number of customers who order one-off collection services.

The service has collected an incredible 2020kgs of waste that would have previously gone to landfill and is now transformed into a safe and valuable soil conditioner.

Based on this initial success, the Trust has provided some top-up funding for a further year to help Circular Revolution maintain and scale up the service provision in 2022/23.

So, if you have a compost-type dry toilet, and are looking for a convenient solution to manage your waste please consider using the service. It is designed for everyone: continuous cruisers and permanent moorers – and is already collecting from various marinas, including Lisson Grove in the West, Springfield Marina and Limehouse Marina along the Lea and East London.

Stemming the tide of invasive weeds on London's waterways

Weeds along a towpath with boat passing by

Boaters in London will be familiar with the weed situation which hampers the capital's waterways every year. These species can cause major damage, out-competing native wildlife, harming eco-systems and spreading disease. They can also block canals, forming a thick green carpet which restricts navigation, clogs up propellers and damages boats. During the summer months these invasive plant species such as floating pennywort grow and spread with alarming speed, at a rate of up to 20cm per day.

Keeping these weeds controlled is a huge job for us, but we've had great success in minimising the harmful species on our waterways in recent years. You'll see our weed boats out each week right throughout the summer.

We have certainly got the upper hand in some areas, such as the work on the River Stort, during which floating pennywort was erased from the waterway in under 18 months, thanks in no small part to the help of our wonderful volunteers.

There are a few simple things that boaters, anglers and others can do to help us keep these weeds under control and stop them spreading further. Admittedly, the advice below is more for portable or trailable boats or anglers, but here it is nonetheless. The advice from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is a three-step check before you move your boat between locations, the Check, Clean, Dry method.

  • Check any clothing, tools or equipment that have come into contact with the water, or even mud around water. Even the tread on your bike or the fur of your dog might be carrying an invasive species. If you find any plant fragments, remove them and leave them at the site. Ideally, bin them, but always make sure they can't get back into the water.
  • Clean your clothing, tools or equipment. A good rinse will dislodge bits of plants and young animals that you can't see. Use a container of fresh water if you have one handy, or wash things down with a hose. Try and do it on a surface where the water can drain into the ground.
  • Dry everything completely, ideally in the sun, leaving no damp patches. Don't forget about clothes as well, things like wet suits, waders and boots. Small invertebrates can live for days in damp folds in clothing and seeds can get stuck in the tread of muddy boots.

It's also useful to report to us any sightings of invasive plant species that you come across on our waterways, so we can tackle it quickly.

Known works/closures

River Stort

Where: Lock 10, Burnt Mill Lock

What: Navigation restriction due to fault with hydraulic ram on the downstream (pub side) lock preventing gate from moving. Lock closed to wide beam craft but open to narrow craft.

Date of works: 15/05/22 - Ongoing

Towpath closed? No

Lee Navigation

Starts at: Bridge 27, Chalk Bridge

Ends at: Bridge 28, Bleak Hall Bridge (A406)

What: Towpath closure due to works by Thames Water Contractors

Date of works: Ongoing - 30/06/22 1800hrs

Towpath closed? Yes

Lee Navigation

Starts at: Lock 17, Tottenham Lock, Western side

Ends at: Lock 16, Stonebridge Lock, Western side

What: Mooring suspension for 2 boats at Tottenham Lock and 2 boats at Stonebridge Lock, due to a Community Roots event.

Date: 01/06/22 0800hrs - 06/06/22 1700hrs

Towpath closed? No

Lee Navigation

Where: Bridge 2, Gas Works Bridge

What: 3rd party maintenance works to the bridge, mooring and towpath to be suspended briefly on both sides of the bridge for scaffolding to be installed, and then again for it to be dismantled.

Date: 06/06/22 0800hrs - 09/09/22 1800hrs

Towpath closed? No

Limehouse Cut

Starts at: Bridge 1 (A12)

Ends at: Bridge 9, Footbridge

What: Mooring suspension will take place as close to the basin as possible, along the Limehouse Cut for 20 boats, due to a cruise by St Pancras Cruising Club.

Date: 01/06/22 1200hrs - 05/06/22 1500hrs

Towpath closed? No

Grand Union Canal

Starts at: Bridge 205A, Ontario Bridge

Ends at: Bridge 203A, School Footbridge

What: Mooring suspension along the Hanwell Flight for 10 boats, due to a cruise by St Pancras Cruising Club.

Date: 04/06/22 1600hrs - 06/06/22 1600hrs

Towpath closed? No

Limehouse Cut

Starts at: Bridge 4, Bow Common Lane

Ends at: Bridge 5, Burdett Road (A1205)

What: Mooring suspension due to private gathering of historic boats by HNBC

Date: 25/05/22 0800hrs - 31/05/22 1700hrs

Towpath closed? No

Regent's Canal

Starts at: Bridge 10, Primrose Hill Bridge

Ends at: Bridge 13, Outer Zoo Bridge

What: Brief towpath closure to for set up of fencing for 3rd party works by London Zoo.

Date: Ongoing - 02/06/22 1800hrs

Towpath closed? No

Paddington Arm

Starts at: Bridge 15, Black Horse Bridge

Ends at: Bridge 15A, Greenford Road (A4127)

What: Navigation restriction, towpath closure due to fallen tree

When: Ongoing

Towpath closed? Yes

Grand Union Canal

Starts at: Bridge 200, Station Road

Ends at: Bridge 200B, Gwr Bridge

What: Mooring suspension due to Hayes Canal Festival

Date: 26/05/22 0900hrs - 30/05/22 0900hrs

Towpath closed? No

A reminder that if you wish to pass through Thames Lock in Brentford, you will now need to book online at least 48 hours in advance. More details and how to book here.

We have automated email updates on new notices and stoppages. You can create an account for free, and select which waterways you would like updates on. Sign up for this service here.


Thanks for reading this edition of London Boaters' Update. As always, please forward this mailout to anyone you think may be interested, our newsletter sign-up page is available now. Please direct feedback to our customer service page.

Stay safe, and happy boating,

The London & South East team

Last Edited: 24 August 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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