London Boating Bulletin: April

Our fabulous Volunteer Lock Keepers are kicking-off their new season - read on to find out where they are this year. We also have information on our London Mooring Strategy and plans for new facilities.

London VLK

Volunteer lock keepers kick off the new season

49 people have joined our volunteer lock keeper force, bringing the total to 124. Returners from last year have already been out and about helping boaters through locks and representing the Canal & River Trust on our busy towpaths.

The new recruits have hopefully enjoyed their inductions and training and raring to get going. “I am absolutely thrilled that so many people are keen to volunteer for the Trust in such a crucial role,” said Nadia Payne – London’s volunteer development coordinator, covering for Debbie Vidler who’s on maternity leave. “The training and induction sessions have been great fun and I’m really confident that London has an excellent team representing the Trust at several of our locks.”

Here’s an idea of where you could see the teams:

Hanwell Flight (Locks 90 to 97), Grand Union – 7 days a week

Brentford Gauging (Lock 100), Grand Union – 7 days a week

Cowley (Lock 89), Grand Union – Monday to Friday

Widewater (Lock 86), Black Jacks (Lock 85) and Coppermill (Lock 84), Grand Union – Wednesdays.

Hampstead Road (Lock 1), Hawley (Lock 2) and Kentish Town (Lock 3), Regent’s Canal – 7 days a week

City Road (Lock 5), Regent’s Canal – 7 days

Old Ford (Lock 8), Regent’s Canal – Monday to Thursday, with some cover at weekends

Stonebridge (Lock 16), Lee Navigation – Tuesdays and Thursdays, with some cover at weekends.

This is an indication of when our volunteers will be available to assist.

Engagement begins for London Mooring Strategy

The Canal & River Trust is setting out its plans to develop a London Mooring Strategy to address the unique challenges and opportunities of boating in the Capital.

Boating in London has become more challenging as boat numbers on London’s waterways continue to grow. This has led to pressure on moorings, facilities and infrastructure. It can be hard to find space at towpath moorings in the most popular areas while the supply of long-term moorings isn’t enough to meet demand.

Over the past few years the Trust has been working with boaters and other stakeholders on solving the problem. While a number of trials have been carried out and there have been some positive changes, for example the creation of new long-term moorings and bookable moorings, it is clear that a plan of action that covers all aspects of London moorings, developed with waterway users, is necessary to make a significant difference.

A London Mooring Strategy will allow the Trust to take a look at how to manage these issues, as well as make the most of opportunities that will help the charity maintain the waterways for the benefit of boaters and other users.

The London Mooring Strategy would aim:

  • For better provision and management of a range of facilities and mooring types in London
  • To manage the high number of boats in London and to mitigate the environmental impacts on the waterways and neighbours
  • To help ensure fair sharing of water space
  • To enable a wider range of boaters to visit and navigate in London
  • To protect existing, and generate additional, income to maintain the waterways in London
  • To support a London waterway destination and tourism strategy
  • To ensure the mooring strategy contributes to the Trust’s aim that London’s waterways help to transform neighbourhoods and enrich people’s lives

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “London’s waterways are some of the busiest in the country and we need to manage the finite space effectively. We need to face the challenges head on, as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to develop a really world-class waterspace that people will be able to visit and enjoy. We’ll be working closely with those who use the Capital’s canals and rivers to make sure we hear everyone’s views and make well-informed decisions.”

The Trust has been gathering information from various groups, including its Navigation Advisory Group, the London Waterway Partnership, national boating organisations and other key stakeholders. There will be a programme of workshops for interested parties over the coming months.

Sorwar Ahmed, boater liaison manager for London, adds: “Over the past 12 months we’ve been gathering information about moorings, facilities and new opportunities in London, and we’d now like to share this and engage our users in developing a strategy”.

We are holding a special User Forum meeting on Tuesday 24 May 2016 at the Holiday Inn Camden Lock, from 6.30pm to 9pm, to start the public engagement process and hear from as wide a range of waterway users as possible. This will be an opportunity for you to discuss your needs as a waterway user, and to help us explore opportunities to improve mooring provision and facilities and identify other partners we can work with to achieve the strategy.

If you’d like to attend, please book a place by contacting

New mooring rings and boater facilities coming soon

The customer service improvements programme continues apace with new Biffa bins for boater domestic refuse available at the Black Horse pub at the Greenford Visitor Mooring (Paddington Arm), and three new water points now installed at Ponders End lock, Uxbridge Road Visitor Mooring (Bankside, Southall) and the Slough Basin.

The water points will be available for use as soon as installation checks have been completed.

The boater sanitation facilities at Talevera Moorings (Acton’s Lock) on the Regent’s are now open for use as public facilities for all boaters, and a new Elsan, pump out and water supply will also be coming soon for all boaters at the new long-term mooring at Atlip Road, Alperton (Paddington Arm).

We’ve also been busy installing around 90 new mooring rings in four locations around the London network, which aim to make mooring in soft bank more secure and improve the choice of mooring locations, especially for winter moorings. Work at Brentford, Cowley (both Grand Union) and Alperton is now complete, with work at Dobbs Weir (Lee Navigation) due to finish in May, altogether improving over 560m of moorings. As part of the London Mooring Strategy we’d like to hear from boaters about what other locations we should consider for mooring improvements.

Old fashioned manners reintroduced to London's canals

Did you see our campaign to promote the 'Share the space, drop your pace' message for everyone on London’s towpaths? We created a zone from Kingsland Basin to City Road, a 'mile of manners', where everyone was invited to tip their hats or doff their caps to each other. Stencilled messages on the towpath encouraged people to 'smile and say hi as you go by'.


Dick Vincent, Canal & River Trust’s national towpath ranger, explains: “For many people our towpaths are among their most precious green spaces, antidotes to the pace and stress of the modern world and places to relax and unwind. They are ‘super slow ways’, providing a slice of peace and calm through the centres of our busiest cities.

“Today they are more popular than ever, with more investment in improvements and better signage, but with that success there are also problems. As we move away from towpaths of old, we also seem to be moving further away from remembering our manners – we want to remind our visitors that old fashioned manners still have a place on our modern towpaths.

“Whether cycling, running, walking, mooring your boat or fishing, please help by being considerate of others, slowing down and remembering we are all there to enjoy the space. If you’re in a rush, the towpath is not the best place for you so please choose a different route.”

In 2015, we secured more than £10m of funding to improve our towpaths, and we're planning a further £10m investment in the next 12 months.

The Limehouse Social: Launch of new market under the DLR Arches

Building on the popularity of the Limehouse Social last summer, we are delighted to welcome a regular market to the Basin.

The Limehouse Social’s market will be launching on May bank holiday, Saturday and Sunday 28 and 29 May from 12-5pm with confirmed traders including astounding cakes by Cat Food in addition to Falafal Queen, Raastawala, Curate and Made in Limehouse.

View of Limehouse Basin on Limehouse Cut with boats and flats in the foreground and skyscrapers in the background

Run by Sugar for My Soul’s director Sara Farrell, the market will be monthly on the last Saturday of each month with an additional day at Bank Holidays, and will welcome people to sample the best in independent hot foods, fresh produce and artist and designer crafts.  

Sara’s extensive experience at Camden Lock and Brick Lane Markets coupled with her vision and shared values has already been enthusiastically greeted by community representatives and local businesses, including Limehouse Community Forum, Moo Canoes and Limehouse Elite Gym.

Sara shares the Limehouse Social’s view that markets are often the testbeds for entrepreneurs starting out in their chosen trade or industry, and should act as the heartbeat to the community. With a carefully curated offer with a price point to suit all budgets, the market will support and offer local people a trading platform to sell their home-grown produce and handmade designs.

It will be a place for conversation developing ideas and building community to enhance the local area over time. Cultural events celebrating creativity, local history, community activity, social enterprise, charities and future generations will be part of each market, alongside the best in independent food, trade and culture.

From her business perspective, Sara agrees that it is vital that the market welcomes all members of the local community and showcases the fantastic ideas, products and activities that are going on in Limehouse and the wider Tower Hamlets area.

2016 Market Calendar: 28/29 May; 25 June; 30 July; 27/28 August; 24 September: 20 Octover; 26 November; 10/11 December (Christmas Market)

Location: 2 Minutes from DLR station under the arches at Limehouse Basin, E14 7JZ

Pupils celebrate the first anniversary of their canal adoption

Pupils and staff from Westminster Academy have been recognised, after working more than 150 hours in the last year to improve a stretch of canal they have adopted.

The Academy works on a section of the Grand Union Canal near Harrow Road, and since March last year have helped to remove graffiti, litter pick, cut back overgrown vegetation and plant native British bulbs, such as bluebells and snowdrops.

To celebrate their year on the canal, pupils and staff along with teams from the Trust installed new signage to recognise their role in the area.

Jack Newman, the Canal & River Trust’s London volunteer team leader, said: “We’re so grateful for the work the pupils and staff have put in on the canal in the last year. The canal is arguably more popular than ever, but it needs a lot of work to help maintain and improve. When local people get involved to help us do this, we can make a real impact. That it’s young people showing interest, hard work and enthusiasm for the waterways is really great too. We look forward to working with them and seeing how their adoption develops over the next 12 months as well.”

Westminster Academy principal, Dr Saima Rana, said: “Active citizenship is a key part of life at the Academy from Year 7 to International Baccalaureate in the Sixth Form. We launched this project because we recognise a need to improve the local area, and to provide our students with opportunities to engage with our local community. Working on the canal has created a real sense of ownership and pride among the students involved.”

Year 8 student, Djellona Sadriu, explained why she is looking forward to continuing her involvement in the project for the second year running: “It’s really enjoyable; by doing this you get to be part of the community and make a difference!”

The Trust’s canal adoption has been running since 2013. Over 100 groups currently adopt a stretch nationwide, with eight in London. Activities can range from general maintenance to ecology projects to events.

Waterways inspiring art

Louisa Amelia Albani got in touch to tell us about how the waterways in east London have inspired her art. She said: “These areas seem to me in a constant state of urban regeneration, whereby nature adapts around it, finding sanctuary. It is people and nature that fascinate me most, and how they interact with their environment- children playing near the canals, men working on construction sites, joggers on the towpath, the barge owners steering their boats through the locks and tunnels. There’s a feeling of isolation from the rest of the world in these places, and yet they thrive and evolve, sometimes in adversity.”

Louisa has two exhibitions coming up in June:

Bow Open Studios: Friday 17 June 6–10pm, Saturday 18 June 1–7pm. Bow Arts Trust, 183 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ

Espacio Gallery: Islington Art Society Summer Exhibition from 13–19 June. 159 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E2 7DG

If you’ve been inspired by the waterways, let us know and we’ll consider featuring your work in a future edition of the Bulletin.

IWA Towpath Walks Society

These fascinating guided walks have been running since 1977. Originally the route was from Little Venice to Camden only but nowadays there are many more on offer throughout the year. The walks include all of the sights along the towpath but also highlight notable features away from the canal and how the waterway influenced the local area.

Walks start at 2.30pm and the regular charge is £10, concessions are £8. Upcoming walks:

1 May: Regent’s Park and River Tyburn to Little Venice (meet at Baker Street Underground station, Baker Street North / Lords exit).

15 May: Little Venice to Camden (meet at Warwick Avenue Underground station).

29 May: King’s Cross – Granary Square – Camden (meet at the taxi rank at King’s Cross).

Advance notice: lock stoppages in 2016

Current plans are for:

  • Thames Lock Brentford (Grand Union): gate replacements from June to July – Navigation will remain open
  • Hampstead Road Lock in Camden (Regent’s Canal): gate replacements from August to September – Navigation will remain open for the most part but there will be a short navigation closure
  • St Pancras Lock (Regent’s Canal): gate replacements in November (for one month) Navigation will be closed

IWA's 2016 Canalway Cavalcade

Cavalcade starts tomorrow. The London Waterway’s widebeam will be there – pop-in and say hello.

Please be aware that there will be a full mooring suspension on the Paddington Arm between Bridge 3, Harrow Road (A404) and Paddington Basin. This is from Monday 25 April to Tuesday 3 May inclusive.

Stoppages and notices

There's plenty of maintenance and repair work going on this month. Find out about the latest stoppages and notices in the region.

We also tweet our notices from @CRTLondon.

Last date edited: 29 April 2016

About this blog

London & South East Regional Bulletin

Sorwar Ahmed is Boating Manager for the Canal & River Trust's London & South East region. He engages with our customers and communities to improve boating serivces and the experience of the waterways for everyone! In this Bulletin he gives a regular round-up of news and views, essential reading for boaters and anyone with an interest in the waterways of London & the South East.

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