London Boating Bulletin: February

This month we're updating on our Kentish Town Lock open weekend, the details of our spring Waterway Forum and how to avoid nesting birds delaying your cruise.

Richard Parry and Jonathan Ross OBE

Open weekend at Kentish Town Lock a huge success

We're really grateful to everyone who came down to our open weekend at Kentish Town Lock on 23 and 24 January. And a big shout-out to our fabulous volunteers who ensured the whole thing went off very smoothly. Nearly 3,750 people came down to the bottom of the lock and listened to our engineers and operations staff discuss its features and history. Even television and radio presenter Jonathan Ross made a surprise appearance (see above).

To ensure that our tours were accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people, we worked with an organisation called StageTEXT. As you can see in the photograph above, our guides spoke into a mobile telephone and subtitles appeared on small tablets.

Kentish Town Lock: Re-opened ahead of schedule

Originally we thought that the works at Kentish Town Lock would see the navigation closed until 11 March. We were all delighted when works finished early and the navigation is now open. We think the new lock gates are doing a fabulous job and we’re really grateful to our Volunteer Lock Keepers for giving the beams a new coat of paint.

Boater events programme launches

On Saturday 12 March in Paddington, our spring boater programme kicks off with “Learning the ropes”, a morning event where you can join us for a rope tying workshop, tips on mooring and navigating safely, and a ‘surgery’ with an enforcement officer where you can have some one-to-one time to find out about our enforcement procedures. The event will be aboard our widebeam boat Jena, moored in the Paddington Basin approach (oppoiste Starbucks), from 10.30am-1pm. The event is free, but as space is limited please let us know if you’d like to come by emailing

London Waterway Forum: Spring Forum

Jon Guest, manager of the London Waterway, will be hosting our spring forum from 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday 16 March at the London Canal Museum,12-13 New Wharf Road, London, N1 9RT.

It’s a great opportunity to hear news and views from across your local waterway, taking perspectives from boaters, cyclists, pedestrians, local business owners, residents, anglers and wildlife lovers. If you’d like to come along, please book your place by emailing All are welcome, but places are limited. Please book early to avoid disappointment!

Nesting birds

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides that it is an offence to intentionally take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird while the nest is in use or being built.

This means that it would be illegal to move boats which host occupied nests.

We have raised this issue with Natural England and they have advised that a licence to disturb nesting birds would not be granted for boating activities. Boat owners must wait until the young have fledged and prevent further birds from nesting before moving.

It is obviously very inconvenient if you are living aboard a boat and prevented from moving it for two months or more, as this may prevent you emptying your tanks or filling up with water. We’d advise everyone to think now about how they can make their boat less tempting as a nesting site. For example, a whole tyre as a fender might provide a snug little space just above the water line. How about removing the bottom third? Other spots can be covered with plastic or netting and little windmills or old CDs that catch the sunlight can encourage birds to find a better spot.

IWA's 2016 Canalway Cavalcade

We’re already getting excited for this year’s Canalway Cavalcade on the May bank holiday weekend (30th April to 2nd May 2016). It's one of the largest waterways festivals in the country and an important tradition in the local community. Boaters travel for miles to attend and the event attracts visitors from across London, and beyond.

The programme includes a wide range of activities for all the family. There will be floating events and competitions, Morris Dancers, food stalls and a licensed real ale bar, a trade and craft show and music. Children’s activities range from kayaking to creating traditional canal art. There will be a themed pageant of decorated boats, a procession of illuminated boats and a parade of historic and working craft.

It’s a really special weekend and we recommend that you come along. The nearest tube stations are Paddington and Warwick Avenue.

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.

Virtual Open Day coming to Docklands

We’re currently carrying out a major project to repair the massive, 160 tonne lock gates in West India Dock in Docklands. As part of this we’re planning to host our first ever ‘virtual open day’, where we’ll be live tweeting one of the more unusual jobs we’re doing this winter. We’ll be describing the work, hearing from engineers, harbour masters, historians, divers and more, as we see what is required to get this work done. It’d be great to hear what you think too, so keep an eye out on our Twitter account @canalrivertrust at the beginning of March.

Kings Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team

The Kings Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team includes the Lee Navigation in Hackney Marshes and they are creating a Canal Watch – much like a Neighbourhood Watch – for boaters and towpath users. If you’re keen to get involved or want more information, please email or follow @MPSKingsPark on Twitter.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways

The six kilometres of rivers in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park were once a key transport network for the industries that lined the river but the decline of canal freight after the Second World War, together with a build-up of silt, saw the rivers become virtually un-navigable and derelict until they were eventually closed altogether by the 1960s.

This all changed with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The waterways were to become the green veins of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a massive restoration and clean-up operation was put into effect.

Throughout the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority to improve the condition of these rivers. We created new river walls and towpaths, dredged deeper channels, improved wildlife habitats and refurbished disused locks. Since handing the rivers over to the London Legacy Development Corporation in 2012, we’ve continued to work in partnership to breathe new life into these once hidden and forgotten waterways.

In summer 2016 we are once again going to be looking after the day-to-day care of these rivers, continuing to work closely with the London Legacy Development Corporation.  We have jointly produced a strategy – our Olympic Legacy Waterways Framework – which sets out how the waterways can continue to be improved and enjoyed by all in the years to come.

If you have any questions about Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways or would like to express an interest in future cruises please email

Divers inspect WW2 bomb gates that kept London safe from canal flooding

A team of divers braved the cold water of the Paddington Arm in Little Venice to check the condition of the Air Raid Protection (ARP) gates, which have remained largely unaltered for over 75 years. We are examining how the gates have fared and what future works might be needed to maintain an important part of London’s wartime history.

The gates were designed to close automatically if the canals were damaged during the Luffwaffe’s air raids. There were a number of bombs recorded to have fallen in the vicinity of the canals in London during the war period, but no large scale flooding due to canal damage is known to have occurred.

Florence Salberter, Canal & River Trust heritage advisor, said: “London’s canals are filled with fascinating stories and the gates, which are still just visible above the waterline, are a great example of this. The Luffwaffe used the city’s rivers and canals as a way to navigate so it was a very real prospect that they could have been hit. We’re examining their condition to decide how best we can manage that piece of our canals’ rich history.”

Once the condition of the gates is fully understood we will seek to retain gates at key locations. We are also on the lookout for anyone who might have family who worked on the ARP gates during the war or has any other knowledge about them, so that they can add details to the Trust’s archives. Anyone with information can contact:

Winter moorings over for another year

The Winter Mooring period is coming to an end on 29th February. Our winter works programme is also now complete, apart from the replacement of the 160-tonne lock gate at West India Dock, so all our navigations in the London region are open for cruising once again. We’d like to remind our winter mooring permit holders that you are entitled to remain on your Winter Mooring site until this date, but not beyond it. The standard 14-day stay time on the towpath does not apply after your permit expires, so we’d be grateful if all permit holders would please move on before 1st March. We hope that winter moorings have given some welcome respite from cruising during the stoppage season. If you have any comments on the winter mooring permit scheme this season, whether you’ve had a permit or decided against taking one this year, please email

Volunteering update

Do you want to get involved in a water quality project?

No experience is required, just a good pair of walking shoes and a keen eye!  Our Environment Team are seeking enthusiastic volunteers to survey various waterways including the River Stort, the Grand Union including the Paddington Arm and Slough Arm and the Brent Feeder (and possibly reservoir) . Training and equipment will be provided, so if you fancy spending some time playing ‘I Spy’ (spotting discharges into the waterways) please do get in touch – stating which area you would like to get involved in.  Training is expected to start this month so please do get in touch.

Volunteer Towpath Rangers – recruiting now!

We are looking for new volunteers to join our fantastic team of Volunteer Towpath Rangers.  As a Ranger you will help make sure the towpaths are an enjoyable place for everyone by being the Canal & River Trust’s eyes and ears, promoting the Share the Space, Drop your Pace campaign, carrying out visitor counts, managing towpath signage, leading some towpath walks and doing the odd spot of towpath gardening and maintenance too!  We are looking for volunteers who live, work or travel through London’s waterways, particularly the Lower River Lee, the Docklands area and the Grand Union Canal including the Paddington Arm. Our Towpath Ranger page has more information. 

Ware Visitor Welcome Station – volunteers needed

This spring we are working with Lee Valley Parks to open a new visitor information point by the River Lee in Ware.  We are looking for volunteers to help open up the information point at weekends throughout the summer months.  You’ll be welcoming visitors to the towpath and river, answering questions, providing information on the local area and wider Lee Valley and helping with the general upkeep of the towpath through Ware.  If you like talking to people, are enthusiastic about Ware and the wider Lee Valley area and are able to volunteer around two weekend days per month then this could be perfect for you.  If you are interested in finding out more please contact Debbie Vidler:

Dates for Your Diary

Sunday 28 February, 10am to 1pm: Friends of Brent Reservoir clean up in partnership with Phoenix Canoe Club.  Meet at Phoenix Canoe Club at 10am.  For more information please email

Sunday 28 February: 10am at Angel Tube Station – Free ‘Discover the Regent’s’ guided walk from Angel to Camden

Sunday 6 March, 10am: Friends of Slough Canal Clean for Queen Clean Up.  To find out more please visit the Friends of Slough Canal Facebook page

Sunday 6 March, 11am to 1pm: Moo Canoes and Lower Regent’s Coalition litter pick starting at Limehouse Basin – for more information visit the Lower Regent’s Coalition Facebook page.

Sunday 27 March: 10am at Angel Tube Station – Free ‘Discover the Regent’s’ guided walk from Angel to Camden

Advance notice: a closure on the Lee Navigation in Tottenham

During the 2016/17 winter, Network Rail are planning to replace the railway bridge over the Lee Navigation in Tottenham (Bridge 23). This will see disruption to navigation and closure of the towpath. We have been working with Network Rail to ensure that this is for as short a time as possible.

Currently, the plan is for the navigation to be closed from 5 December 2016 to 12 December 2016 and then again from 2 January 2017 to 10 January 2017.

There will be a navigation restriction in place between 12 December and 2 January 2017 and from 10 January to 15 January 2017, during which time there may be disruptions to up to 30 minutes.

The towpath will be closed for the entire duration of the works (5 December to 15 January 2017) and a diversion in place.

Stoppages and notices

Bridge 55, Dobbs Weir Lane Bridge, Lee Navigation: Essex County Council will be replacing Bridge 55, Dobbs Weir Lane Bridge. This will see night closures of the waterway and temporary closures during the day. A towpath diversion will be in place. Cyclists are asked to dismount. Please follow the signs. Works started on 20 July 2015 and will continue into 2016.

Towpath north of Bow Lock, Lee Navigation: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are developing The Leaway: a new continuous walking and cycling route connecting the park to the River Thames and Royal Docks. Works on the towpath north of Bow Lock on the Lee Navigation are due to start on 4 February and last until 15 June 2016. The pedestrian route will remain open but via a pontoon walkway. For safety, we ask that there's no cycling on the pontoon. The pontoons will mean that mooring will not be possible between Bow Lock and Bridge 2 (Gas Works Bridge) on the Lee Navigation. For further information on The Leaway, please visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's website.

Limehouse Lock, Limehouse: The lock will be closed from 8 February to 11 March (inclusive) for repairs to the seals. For other locks to the Thames see our website.

Towpath from the Hertford Union Canal to the Regent's Canal: Demolition and construction work at Bow Wharf will see the towpath closed where the Hertford Union Canal meets the Regent's Canal. There will be signs directing pedestrians and cyclists to leave the towpath and to use Old Ford Road if they wish to move between these waterways. A further option would be to take routes through Victoria Park. Work is expected to last from 23 November to 30 April 2016.

Bridge 33 (railway bridge) to Lock 4 (St Pancras Lock) on the Regent’s Canal: Towpath works mean that the towpath to the east of Bridge 33 and for approximately 70 metres have been replaced by a pontoon on the water since May 2015. This will continue into the spring of 2016. For safety reasons, we ask that there should be no running or cycling on the pontoon. Navigation should be with care and with particular attention to oncoming boats.

Maida Hill Tunnel to Lisson Grove Bridge, Regent's Canal: There is no towpath through the Maida Hill Tunnel and pedestrians and cyclists use local roads and footpaths to rejoin the canal. Contractors from UK Power Networks and the National Grid have now closed the towpath between the eastern tunnel entrance and the next bridge (Bridge 2, Lisson Grove Bridge) while they make urgent repairs. This means that pedestrians and cyclists are asked to follow the signs and leave (or rejoin) the towpath a little earlier (or later) than would usually be the case. We are continuing to investigate opening this as soon as possible.

Towpath beneath Bridge 3C (Westbourne Terrace Road), Little Venice, Paddington Arm: Scaffolding has been erected for repairs to the Canal & River Trust's Little Venice office. This is on the Paddington Arm, immediately north of Bridge 3C (Westbourne Terrace Road). The towpath here will be closed from 1 February to 31 March 2016. Pedestrians are asked to follow the route used by cyclists: using Delamere Terrace to move between the boaters' facility building and the Waterside Cafe. We ask everyone to take care crossing Westbourne Terrace Road. The entrance to the Trust's Little Venice office will remain open as usual.

Towpath at Wedlake Street Footbridge (Bridge 4B), Paddington Arm: We're working with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Network Housing to make improvements to the towpath and towpath signage at Wedlake Street Footbridge (Bridge 4B) on the Paddington Arm. Works will take place from 23 February to 23 March 2016. The towpath will remain open but we ask everyone to take care.

Great Western Railway Bridge (Bridge 200b), Grand Union Canal, Hayes: An inspection of the Great Western Railway Bridge (Bridge 200b) on the Grand Union Canal will be taking place from 22 to 26 February. There will be a pontoon in the water and this will reduce the width of the navigation to about 7m. All boats should be able to pass but please slow down and take care.

Uxbridge Road Bridge (Bridge 11), Slough Arm, Slough: National Grid will be repainting the gas pipe that crosses the Slough Arm at Uxbridge Road Bridge (Bridge 11) from 8 February to 4 March. The towpath and navigation will remain open although there may be short delays while the scaffolding is erected and dismantled. Please be aware that access to the towpath from the Uxbridge Road Bridge will only be possible using the eastern access stairs. Those to the west will be closed. Please use the nearby pedestrian crossing if you have to cross this busy road.

You can receive email notification of our notices by visiting our website. We also tweet our notices from @CRTLondon.

Last date edited: 23 February 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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