London Boating Bulletin: March

There's details of free Easter treats in this month's bulletin! Also information on a cruise of the waterways of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, unpowered craft at Maida Hill Tunnel and our recent Waterway Forum.

Olympic Cruise

Join our cruise of the Bow Back Rivers

To celebrate the plans for re-opening the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park waterways a public cruise and evening reception will be held on Saturday 9 July 2016. The cruise is open to all boaters and organised by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), St Pancras Cruising Club, the Canal & River Trust and the London Legacy Development Corporation. If you want to take part please fill out the registration form and return to . Numbers are capped so secure your place quickly!

Three Mills public mooring will be available to boats participating in the cruise from 12 noon on Thursday, 7 July. At 1pm Saturday, 9 July a safety brief will be held. Cruise of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will take place from 2-6pm and an evening reception will be held from 7.30pm onwards. Boats will be expected to be clear of Three Mills public moorings by 12 noon of Monday, 11 July. We look forward to you joining the first public cruise of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways since summer of 2014.

Central London Easter treats!

Head to King’s Cross for some free family fun this Easter and an Easter treasure hunt from Thursday 24 March to Saturday 2 April. Eleven poems are hidden around the King’s Cross estate: challenge the kids to find the poems and fill in the missing words. Once you’ve solved all the clues, hand your completed map in at the Visitor Centre and receive your Easter treat! Download the Easter treasure hunt trail map.

Until 30 March, brightly coloured Easter eggs will be hidden around Paddington Central and delicious prizes await for those who find them! Six of the retailers are offering a selection of tasty treats, with an egg created for each prize. The more eggs you find and upload to social media, the greater your chance of winning a prize. If you manage to find and upload a picture of all eight eggs you could be in with the chance of winning an overnight weekend stay at the 4 star Novotel in Paddington with full access to the pool, sauna and fitness suite.

Massive Docklands’ lock gates floated off for repairs in £920k project


A project to repair the historic lock gates in West India Dock, which enable the cruise liners, luxury yachts, navy ships and other vessels from all over the world to enter London’s Docklands, is underway.

The lock gates, which date back to 1929 and sit in the shadow of Canary Wharf, weigh 160 tonnes each and are so heavy that they have to be floated out of position, rather than being craned out.

The works include: upgrading the gates to withstand corrosion from the salt water in the Thames; improving the pintel (a top-hat shaped steel object which the gate stands on) on the lock bed; and relining the under-water seals between the bottom of the gates and the lock bed to make the lock watertight.

The project is essential to ensure the lock gates operate efficiently for the hundreds of boats that pass through them each year. They are also vital for controlling the water levels within the Docks.

The project, which costs £920,000, is the largest part of the Trust’s programme to repair and restore waterways across the country this winter. Colin Perkins, project manager, said: "The chance to make these repairs is a once in a generation opportunity. At other locks around the country we crane the gates out for repairs but the ones in West India Dock are so big that we have to float them off. It’s certainly an unusual sight to see the water pumping out of a gate and it slowly rising out of the water and tilting flat: it’s like it has a life of its own. The work is very technical, particularly because of the size of the gates and weight of thousands of cubic metres of water, as well as the tidal pressure of the Thames. Ships from all over the world come to London and these are the only gates that enable access into the Docks, so it’s vital they are in top condition."

London Waterway Forum on 16 March

Around 50 people came to our spring forum at the London Canal Museum. Jeannette Brooks, the London team’s new development & engagement manager, led the tables on a discussion of the purpose of the forum, what issues we should be looking at, who we should be making sure comes along and how meetings should be organised. Points raised included:

  • the length of the meeting and whether whether there should be more meetings in other parts of the Waterway,
  • a moderated internet forum could be useful,
  • There should be more opportunity for hearing from the floor,
  • How we could reach a more diverse audience,
  • Whether we try to cover too much.

The Forum also included an interesting update on the waterways of the Queen Elizaveth Olympic Park from Steven Wilding and Sam Anderson-Brown. Steve Parker of the Kings Arms and Cheshunt Angling Society (KACAS) gave a rundown of the challenges faced when angling on the waterways and Debbie Vidler and three volunteer lock keepers spoke about the diverse range of volunteering activities underway. The evening ended with an update on recent work by London’s enforcement team. The evening’s slides are available and we’ll be updating soon on the discussions about the future of the Forum.

London Mooring Strategy workshop

With the challenges facing waterway users from boating growth, high demand for moorings and pressure on facilities, work is underway to develop a comprehensive mooring strategy for the waterways in the Trust's London region. This aims to address a range of themes, covering short term moorings (both ‘visitor’ and casual moorings), long term and residential moorings, ‘premium’ moorings where a higher standard of service could be offered, winter moorings and business boating.

Over the last 12 months work has been underway to gather baseline information about the range and distribution of moorings and facilities across the London region. Over the spring, we’re planning to engage with waterways users to hear about the diverse ways people use and enjoy the waterways, and what they need from our moorings offer. Watch this space for details of how to get involved in the strategy, including a  workshop to hear about mooring needs and explore opportunities for new or improved mooring facilities.

"Learning the ropes" - welcome aboard Jena for boater events!

We’re looking forward to meeting lots of boaters aboard Jena, the Trust’s very own wide-beam boat, in a series of events for boaters in London. Starting in April, Jena will be hosting events across the London waterways where boaters can come and meet Trust staff, share advice and experiences about boating in London, and discuss good boating etiquette!

The first event is called ‘Learning the ropes’, and is a chance to practice some seriously useful knots, and take part in boater-led discussion about good practice in tying up safely and securely. The event will be aboard Jena at the Grand Entrance to Victoria Park on the Regent’s, on Saturday 16 April from 11am to 1pm. Future events will be held monthly, covering boat and personal safety, engine basics, battery health, safe stove use and maintenance and solar power.

If you have suggestions for other topics you’d like to hear about, or you have some specific experience or expertise you’d like to share, please let us know. For more information, please contact

Keeping our ducks healthy: Waterways becoming 'no dough areas'

Feeding the ducks using a duck food puch

Last year we launched a campaign as six million loaves of bread were thrown into our canals and rivers by well-intentioned people feeding the ducks each year. The bread wasn't great for them or their habitats and so we asked you to swap the bread for healthy snacks and to exercise some portion control.

Ducks up and down the country are benefiting from thinner waistlines and cleaner homes after figures show many people are choosing to feed them healthier treats.

The new data shows a 20% drop in the number of people feeding ducks bread – over 80,000 fewer loaves each year. And the good news continues, as the number of people feeding ducks healthier snacks such as seeds, fruit and vegetables has doubled.

Despite the positive changes however and the overwhelming public response over the last 12 months, there’s still work to be done as a hefty 3.5 million loaves of bread are still being thrown into canals, rivers, ponds and lakes every year and potentially polluting the environment.

Uneaten soggy bread can cause a build-up of bad nutrients which can lead to greater algae growth, spread disease and encourage pests such as rats. Throwing bread into a canal or river can also create overcrowding of bird populations, as the birds will flock to the same location in search of their starchy treat. Too many ducks or waterfowl in one place can stress the birds and lead to their habitats being damaged. It also creates excessive amounts of bird droppings which, along with being smelly and slippery underfoot, can reduce water quality and clog waterways with harmful algae.

It only takes a few simple changes such as swapping bread for healthy food that is closer to a duck’s natural diet – like oats, corn or peas. If everyone avoids going to the same duck-feeding hotspots and exercises portion control that would also make a big difference.

We’re also giving away “quak snack” pouches and activity booklets packed with fun ideas for children and top tips on what to feed the ducks. Get yours today!

£1.75 million to restore historic lock at Olympic Park

Plans are moving forward to restore Carpenters Road Lock on the Old River Lea. The project is one of the final pieces of a ten-year programme to restore the Bow Back Rivers and preserve an important part of London’s industrial heritage.

Carpenters Road Lock

We're leading the £1.75 million project, which includes £680,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £100,000 from the London Legacy Development Corporation and £4,500 from the Inland Waterways Association.

Carpenters Road Lock is significant from an engineering point of view, as it had the only ‘double radial lock gates’ in the country. Built in the 1930s this design included two convex-shaped gates that lifted up vertically to enable boats to pass through. When restored the lock gates will provide the opportunity to navigate from the waterways around the former Olympic Stadium to Waterworks River, which in turn runs south to Three Mills Lock then out to the River Thames.

Joint working group on EA waterways

The Trust and the Environment Agency have established a joint working group to explore options for running 620 miles of EA-managed river navigations. It is the Government’s ambition to transfer the EA’s responsibility for navigation of the rivers to the Trust, subject to affordability and approval by our Trustees. Headed up by Peter Walker, National Infrastructure Services Manager the review group will begin with an information and data gathering exercise looking at all of the EA’s navigations, including: the non-tidal River Thames, River Wye, River Medway, River Ancholme and East Anglian navigations. The review is expected to take 12 months.

Unpowered craft in Maida Hill Tunnel

A group of paddlers getting ready to get in their canoes

From Monday 4 April we’ll be running a trial to allow unpowered craft to pass through Maida Hill tunnel on the Regent's Canal.

The trial is planned initially for 12 months, with a review after ten months.

All the known local groups who use unpowered craft have been contacted to inform them of the trial and the need to apply for authorisation if they wish to use the tunnel. We also are holding ongoing dialogue with all of our local commerical boat operators.

British Canoeing have put the information below into their monthly newsletter to reiterate our intentions and to spread the news wider.

As a reminder, the criteria that "authorised groups" will sign up to if they want to transit Maida Hill Tunnel are:

a) The person named on the application is responsible for ensuring the group that they represent comply with these terms and conditions.

b) Boat licences and insurance certificates must be kept in date.

c) The Canal & River Trust reserves the right to retract the authorisation at any time.

d) If authorisation is granted, we will email the local commercial trip boat operators a copy of your estimated transit timetable.

e) All craft must only enter the tunnel if the transit is clear of oncoming craft.

f) All craft must not pass other craft in the tunnel.

g) A bright white forward facing light of not less than 80 Lumens (i.e. a head torch) must be used. Retro reflective strips on clothing and paddles, and a rear facing red light should also be considered.

h) Buoyancy aids must be worn.

i) Staff must be able to manage an emergency in the tunnel e.g. managing a capsize etc.

j) There are to be no lone transits.

k) An unpowered craft to transit the tunnel shall be:

  • Any canoe, kayak, Bell boat or Stand up Paddleboard used, must be recognised by British Canoeing for paddle sport.
  • A small conventional rowing boat/dinghy under oars and correctly crewed i.e. not overloaded, is also acceptable.
  • Non–approved unpowered craft shall NOT transit the tunnel e.g. rafts and other types including inflatable arrangements designated for “fun” use.

l) Everyone must be patient and courteous to all other tunnel users.

m) Any accidents, near misses or incidents must be reported to

Rennovations to West India Quay Footbridge

With the conclusion of the Crossrail works, boats will once again be able to pass from West India Quay to other parts of Docklands and out to the River Thames. In anticipation of this, work was conducted through the winter on the West India Quay Footbridge to ensure the lift mechanism is ready to return to use and to make some enhancements. This has included overhauling the hydraulic cylinders that lift the bridge and replacing all uplighters and floodlights with LEDs. The bridge re-opened on 13 March.

End of winter visitor mooring times

This winter, the stay times at many visitor moorings around the country were relaxed to 14 days to recognise the lack of demand over the winter months. In the London waterway region, this only applied to visitor mooring outside central London. With the end of our official ‘winter’ season in sight, the stay times at all visitor moorings change back to match the stay times indicated on the signage on site. This change takes effect on 1 April, so please move on to give others a chance once you’ve reached the stay time limit.

New mooring rings programme underway

As part of our customer service improvement programme, we’re starting to install mooring rings around the network to improve the quality of mooring available to boaters. To start with, we’re focussing on improving the mooring facilities at four of our winter mooring sites in advance of next year’s winter season, reflecting feedback from customers. We’ll then review other opportunities around the London waterway network, and will ask boaters to help us identify the best places where new rings could be installed during the year. This will also help us to formulate plans for future mooring provision in the London mooring strategy. Contractors are now site installing rings at the winter mooring sites at Brentford (WM ‘site 1’ only), Alperton (opposite the new boater facilities coming at Atlip Road), Cowley, and Dobbs Weir. Although the contractors can work around any boats on site, please help by moving any pins or ropes that may be in the way.

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
  • St Pancras Lock (Regent’s Canal): gate replacements in November (for four weeks) - Navigation will be closed.

Canal & River Trust and the Inland Waterways Association give evidence to HS2 Select Committee

On 4 February, the Canal & River Trust and the Inland Waterways Association gave evidence to the HS2 Select Committee in Parliament on the potential impact of the high speed rail link on the country’s historic waterways. Marcus Chaloner, the Trust’s national design manager, and IWA’s Gren Messham separately briefed the cross-bench committee of MPs on the organisations’ concerns about HS2 Ltd’s plans in the vicinity of the waterways, and improvements to protect the attractiveness and historic character of the canals.

We hope that the Select Committee will recommend that the requests of the two organisations are incorporated into the final design of the HS2 project. The next stage will be for any changes to be incorporated into the Bill before it moves into the House of Lords, with Royal Assent anticipated at the end of 2016. Works are due to start some time during 2017.

Since the High Speed Rail project was announced in 2012, the Canal & River Trust and the Inland Waterway Association have worked closely with canal societies, the Government and HS2 Ltd to protect the nation’s historic waterways and improve the HS2 rail link. This has resulted in significant changes to the scheme, leading both to cost savings and environmental benefits.

Nadia Payne joins the volunteering team

Debbie Vidler, our volunteer development co-ordinator, is taking a break from work to have a baby! She has our very best wishes for the exciting (and sleepless) months ahead. And so Nadia Payne is joining us, and at a very exciting time as we’ve just successfully recruited almost 50 new volunteer lock keepers! "With so many fresh faces joining the team in London, it’s a great time to start!" said Nadia. "I have many years’ experience of working with volunteers, having been most recently with Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Volunteering is a great way to make a difference. I love the way it can empower local communities." We’re sure that you’ll soon see Nadia around the waterways, so please give her a warm welcome.

Springtime is a great time to Go Green!

Everyone can make changes that will minimise their impact on the environment. Have you visited It’s full of ideas for helping the environment whilst afloat. One of our key impacts is through phosphates in grey water – that’s the water from sinks and showers that goes straight in to the canals and rivers. Phosphates encourage algae, which then dies and, as its broken down by bacteria, the oxygen in the water is depleted. Environmentally friendly, phosphate-free products are available from most supermarkets. In addition, the Green Directory aims to provide boating consumers with information and a choice of products and services which can be more environmentally sensitive.

IWA's 2016 Canalway Cavalcade

Will you be coming down to this year’s Canalway Cavalcade, on the May bank holiday weekend (30th April to 2nd May 2016)? The programme includes a wide range of activities for all the family. Here’s some photos of last year’s events to whet your appetite!:

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

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.

Old Ford Lock (Lock 19) to Bridge 5A at Bow Interchange, Lee Navigation: Thames Water, Crossrail and National Grid are each conducting works on the towpath of the Lee Navigation from Old Ford Lock (Lock 19) to Bridge 5A near Bow Interchange. This will be from 21 March to 15 April 2016. A diversion will be in place through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and pontoons will be provided. Please follow the signs.

Lea Rowing Club Spring Regatta, Clapton, Lee Navigation: Lea Rowing Club's Lea Spring Regatta takes place on Sunday 24 April 2015, from 9.30am to 6pm. The navigation and towpath will remain open throughout this series of rowing races but care should be taken and there may be slight delays. Mooring will be restricted to a single line.

North of Bridge 6 (Commercial Road), Limehouse Cut: There will be offside works on the canal walls from 21 March to 13 May 2016 about 50m north of Bridge 6 (Commercial Road) on the Limehouse Cut. The navigation will remain open but please take care.

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.

Various towpath locations on the Grand Union and the Paddington Arm: To improve winter mooring provision, mooring rings are being installed in the towpath:

  • between Bridge 207A (Orbit Footbridge) and the Bridge 208A (Railway Bridge), Grand Union Canal
  • south of Bridge 187 (Gas Works Bridge), Grand Union Canal
  • east of Bridge 11aa (Hazel Grove Footbridge), Paddington Arm

These works will be taking place from 14 March to 15 April 2016. It will be necessary to suspend part of the moorings as the works progress along the length. Please observe signage on site and be prepared to move your boat if access to the mooring is required.

Between Horton Bridge (Bridge 193) and Iron Bridge Road North (Bridge 194A), Grand Union: Improvements are being made to the towpath on the Grand Union between Horton Bridge (Bridge 193) and Iron Bridge Road North (Bridge 194A). Diversion will be to a pontoon on the water. Please take care and cyclists should please dismount. Works will start on 28 March and last until 4 June 2016.

Norwood Top Lock, Lock 90 (Hanwell Flight), Grand Union Canal: There is damage to one of the walls of Norwood Top Lock (Lock 90 of the Hanwell Flight) on the Grand Union and we are keeping this under close observation. In the meantime, the width of the lock has been very slightly reduced to 4190mm.

Bridge 7 (B470), Langley, Slough Arm: The Local Highway Authority will be carrying out repairs to Bridge 7 (B470) over the Slough Arm at Langley. The navigation will remain open but pedestrians and cyclists on the towpath will not be able to pass beneath. Please follow the signs and take care crossing the road to rejoin the towpath. The works will last from 21 March to 30 April 2016.

West India Dock Entrance, London Docklands: We'll be concluding repairs to the lock gates at West India Dock Entrance and this will mean that the lock will be closed from 6 to 8 April 2016. Please remember that West India Lock must be booked in advance. Availability is restricted to one hour either side of High Water at London Bridge (minus approximately 20 minutes) between 07:00 to 16:30. Only where you have a confirmed berth or booked visitor mooring is there no charge. In addition, entry to West India Dock requires full salvage cover / wreck removal insurance. To book the lock, call West India Marine Control on 07710175280.

Millwall Cutting Bridge: In recent weeks we have experienced considerable difficulties in the operation of Millwall Cutting Bridge between South Dock and Millwall Inner Dock. The bridge will be closed for repairs until further notice.To discuss bridge operations in Docklands, please call West India Marine Control on 07710175280.

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

Last date edited: 24 March 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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