Hello and welcome to the June edition of London Boaters’ Update.
Keep reading for all your June news from the waterways of the capital.
In this issue you will find:
Hayes Canal Festival
Info on past and future boaters' surgeries
An update on the London Mooring Strategy
A look forward to our 10th anniversary as a charity
Info on the Thames Lock booking system
The Trust at London Pride 2022
A chat with one of our London rangers
Upcoming known works/closures
Additionally, we now have a sign-up form for this newsletter, so please forward the link on to anyone who you think may be interested in subscribing to London Boaters' Update.
Hayes Canal Festival
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came along to see us at Hayes Canal Festival at the end of May, and also to all of our volunteers and colleagues who did such a fantastic job. We hope you enjoyed the event.
We welcomed thousands of people from across the community who enjoyed boat trips, paddleboarding and Let's Fish sessions on their local stretch of the Grand Union Canal.
As well as the water-based activities, there was an entertainment stage run by local radio station Hayes FM with bhangra dancing, singers and bands performing all day. Younger visitors were able to learn circus skills including juggling and stilt-walking as well as having the chance to build their own Lego narrowboat at the Trust stand.
Visitors included Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell as well as the Mayor of Hillingdon and local councillors for Hayes Town Centre.
David Brough from the Hillingdon Canal Partnership commented: “We had a brilliant day with well over 2,000 Hayes residents taking advantage of the canal that passes through our town centre. There was a great mixture of activities on and off the water. To see families from our diverse communities all coming together and having fun is truly one of the best aspects of Hayes Canal Festival.”
Info on past and future boaters' surgeries
As things have started to open back up after the pandemic and we've been able to meet more of our customers face to face, we have begun holding boaters' surgeries at a few of our summer events. These surgeries enable boaters to ask questions, give feedback and get more information on the Trust's activities, straight from our experts.
Our first two surgeries have already taken place, at IWA Canalway Cavalcade and then at Rickmansworth Festival. These surgeries were well-attended, with boaters getting a chance to raise issues and give feedback about our work to our experts, from the mooring rangers to the boat licensing support officers. It has been lovely for our licence admin team to hear the positive customer service feedback.
Our surgeries are attended by representatives from different teams in the Trust, so there's a high likelihood that your query can be answered face-to-face by one of our experts. In the case we simply don't have the information to hand, we will take your details and pass the query on to the relevant team. It is lovely to be back out on the towpath engaging with customers in person, so pop along to our next surgery and chat to us. We want to hear both positives and negatives about your experiences, and we're here to listen to any feedback whatsoever. Overall, our in-person boaters' surgeries are a great way for you to get your concern or feedback to the immediate attention of the Trust.
If you cannot attend a surgery in-person, the best place for your customer service enquiry is to email [email protected]
Linslade Canal Festival - 30 July
Angel Canal Festival - 4 September
Oxford Canal Festival - 17 September
An update on London Mooring Strategy
We have recently been running a consultation on paid moorings in London as part of the London Mooring Strategy – looking to increase the number of pre-booked paid moorings (some seasonal). We consulted on:
Creating additional paid for pre-bookable visitor moorings
Increasing the overstay charge for exceeding short-stay mooring times
Not allowing double mooring of widebeam boats on some sections
Opinions on the principle of creating more permanent online moorings in certain less busy areas
There were over 1,000 responses to the consultation, 96% from boaters. We're finalising our proposals in response to the consultation and plan to publish these soon.
Celebrating 10 years
As you may know, this summer the Trust will be 10 years old, having been launched in 2012 to take over the responsibilities from state-owned British Waterways.
Our charitable status means that in addition to government grants, in order to protect and preserve the canals for navigation and for the millions who benefit from our free, accessible and local source of wellbeing, we need the support and help of volunteers and donations from the public.
Please look at our website for volunteering opportunities. Throughout July we are asking people to take part in a Canalathon to raise money for the Trust, or to become a Friend of the Trust from just £5 a month. Find out more here.
The Thames Lock booking system
In response to requests from boaters, we've been working to improve the Thames Lock booking system. As a result, we have a few updates to share with you:
Cancellations have now been changed so that customers can cancel a booking anytime. This will include right up until the booking.
The booking page has now been edited to make the process simpler for customers. You now only need to press ‘Save and Complete Booking' for it to go through.
The Limehouse journey has now been added to the booking system.
We are thrilled to say that we will be at London's Pride celebrations on July 3 with a stall on the Mall, celebrating all the contributions of our LGBTQ+ staff and volunteers.
At the Trust we care passionately for our waterways, and as importantly, for those who look after and use them. We strongly believe that a diverse workforce brings with it a diversity of ideas, thinking and ways of working which enhances what we do as a Trust.
Sonia Blackett, community and youth events coordinator at the Canal & River Trust, commented:
“A diverse workforce gives us access to a wider talent base and so enhances the overall capability of the Trust. It allows us a richer range of experiences and perspectives, improving the quality of our plans and decision-making. It also increases our ability to engage with the diverse communities in which we operate, promoting increased volunteering and other involvement. Our commitment applies to all of our employees, volunteers and other representatives including contractors, agency workers, and trainees. At the heart of our values is a commitment to treat everyone with respect.”
A chat with one of our London Rangers
Gareth George has been a London mooring ranger for the Trust for over five years, where his role is to improve the boating experience in London by managing the water space on a day to day basis.
What does an average day as a ranger on London's waterways look like?
I live on a boat myself – I've spent six years as a continuous cruiser so I'm never really away from it. People know the job I do so they'll knock on my door if they need help, and usually on my day off! On an average day at work, first off I check any new cases that have come in. Then replying to customers, boaters and inquiries that are urgent.
After that I'll go out on site visits – it could be a boat moored inconsiderately or requiring assistance, or a member of the public negatively impacting canal life. Sometimes you get called out to a boat which is “polluting”, to find it's just their shower pumping out into the canal. Sometimes it's a bit of education to the public, other times to boaters.
We do anything you can think of... I also manage the paid bookable moorings in Paddington and Rembrandt Gardens so if boats are already in London or coming in from outside and want to be sure of having a mooring they have that option. We look after temporary suspensions to moorings or navigation, whether that's for third party works, new bridges etc or festivals like Cavalcade. We had to move every boat out of the Hertford Union Canal in January for a three-month restoration project.
It's a good idea for boaters to sign up to the notices and stoppages emails for waterways they use if they haven't already. (Set up a Canal & River Trust account to sign up
We manage the Eco Mooring Zones at King's Cross and Islington. We helped advise on the installation of the electricity bollards and worked on the booking system – which is going to be changing soon! At the moment we have an individually numbered space but that's become very hard to manage so we're changing it to meterage. So you might have a specific space but you're booking a 60ft section of the mooring. I also manage Henry who's the Eco Mooring Ranger. We've got other eco moorings in Camden which you can use on a first come first served basis.
Do you feel that there are any misconceptions about what rangers do?
We don't have many enforcement powers, but people think we do. We aren't the “Canal Police”. I try to avoid going in heavy-handed because when you get a complaint you're only getting one side of the story. So you try to get the other side too and find an amicable resolution. It's all about communication– bridging the gap between differing views.
Why is rangers' work important?
The way I best describe my job is that we do everything that everyone else doesn't have time for! Part of our job is boater-facing signage – visitor moorings, no mooring areas… Stopping people tying to railings and damaging the infrastructure. We do a lot of work with the London Mooring Strategy, having new rings installed and suggesting locations for others. There's the Harlesden Canalside Project as well and we give feedback into things like that as well.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Rough sleeping is the most challenging part of the job. The Trust does not allow people to sleep
rough or camp out on our land. So we've developed a policy in London where we make first contact and explain what the process is to the rough sleeper and then work with others to try to help them. We then contact the local council outreach team so that they can make contact too before we go any further. Then we'll do a Section 9 – part of the Waterways Act - which is to remove personal items from Trust land. Colleagues take part in the yearly rough sleeper count. But nobody's rough sleeping for no reason, so you get to hear some stories that are pretty tragic.
**What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When it comes to rough sleeping, over the years I've had a few really positive outcomes. One guy we managed to persuade the council to pay for him to go back home, because he was stuck here without a job. For another chap, we managed to get some work on the trip boats at Little Venice and he's since purchased a small boat and is now continuously cruising with a place that he can call home. But we have limited funding and limited powers and it's just frustrating that we can't do more.
The next generation of boaters will see London's waterways in all their glory in a new episode of CBeebies favourite JoJo & Gran Gran. The ‘It's Time for a Boat Ride' episode features an animated narrowboat trip as well as real-life filming which took place in and around Little Venice last year. Watch it on BBC iPlayer.
3 July - We are running an event with London Fire Brigade at Acton Fire Station to promote fire safety for boaters. Come along for the opportunity to get expert advice on fire-proofing your boat, and what to do in case of an emergency.
30 July - Linslade Canal Festival
4 September - Angel Canal Festival
17 September - Oxford Canal Festival
Known works and stoppages
Starts at: Bridge 68
Ends at: Bridge 65, Ware Town Bridge
What: Reserved mooring due to Ware Boat Festival
Date: 27/06/22 - 04/07/22
Towpath closed? No
Starts at: Bridge 24, Ferry Lane Bridge
Ends at: Lock 16, Stonebridge Lock, Western Side
What: Two mooring suspensions due to Community Roots boat activities
Dates: 24/06/22 - 27/06/22 AND 15/07/22 - 18/07/22
Towpath closed? No
Starts at: Bridge 4, Three Mills Lane
Ends at: Bridge 5, Bow Bridge (A11)
What: Mooring suspension, towpath and access point closure due to third party works, navigation unrestricted.
Date: 04/07/22 - 18/07/22
Towpath closed? Yes
Starts at: Lock 9, Mile End Lock
Ends at: Bridge 55, Roman Road (B135)
What: Mooring suspension due to community event by Regent's Park Heritage.
Date: 14/07/22 1900hrs - 17/07/22 1200hrs
Towpath closed? No
Grand Union Canal
Starts at: Brentford Gauging Lock
Ends at: Clitheroe Lock
What: Reserved moorings due to Brentford Canal Festival, in place between the first mooring north of the boaters facilities (pump out) to the pontoon (approx. 110m)