Have you noticed our subtle name change this month? From now on, your usual monthly e-newsletter will be known as the London Waterway Bulletin, to reflect all the interesting stories and news we bring you from across our London Waterway region, from boating and visiting to arts, community, volunteering and much more. Read on for this month’s news!
During March Paddington Basin will be home to Barge Fiodra, a floating venue for cinema and arts events. Part of an ongoing event programme supported by Merchant Square, Fiodra will be moored up next to the Paddington Basin floating Pocket Park.
Bob Chase, Fiodra’s skipper, has put together a programme of canal-related films and live events that should delight boaters and intrigue landlubbers. Films include The Bargee (1964) and Painted Boats (1945), both shot on the Grand Union Canal 19 years apart. Bob will be introducing the films and providing some fascinating background information. There will also be a chance the see the beautiful film L’Atalante (1934), shot on a French barge and directed by Jean Vigo.
Two special evenings are also in the programme, featuring one writer with a repertoire already under her belt, Kate Saffin, and one new to the canals, Nancy Campbell, our new Canal Laureate.
Kate is putting together a special evening which, if we are lucky, will include glimpses of the wonderful women canal characters she has created over the years. Nancy will be premiering ‘The Cut’, a filmpoem she has been making with Toronto-based filmmaker Pierre Tremblay. She will also be sharing her plans for the coming year as our Laureate.
You can find out more about the programme, which starts on 5 March, and book tickets to all these events on Fiodra’s website.
We are disappointed to report that Defra has indicated that it is not minded to proceed with the transfer of the river navigations currently managed by the Environment Agency to the Canal & River Trust. Having worked positively and collaboratively with the EA over the past 18 months or so to put forward a proposal, we remain convinced that the transfer would be in the wider public interest.
It would deliver the real essence of value for taxpayers, and benefits for the users of these waterways while securing the long term future of the navigations themselves. We will, of course, continue to cooperate actively with the EA in the running of our respective navigations to ensure the best possible experience for all river and canal users.
From March 2018, those with a boating business will be able to manage their licence requirements using our online licensing system. Existing business licence holders will be able to renew online as well as update their details and make any amendments to their licence requirements.
Please note that if we have your email address then we’ll be in touch that way so keep an eye on your inbox! New boating business customers will also be able to submit their operating proposal online within the next few months, but in the meantime still need to complete the form available to download from our website.
Volunteer lock keepers play a crucial role on the London waterways and help keep age-old traditions alive. In 2017 we had over 100 dedicated volunteers assisting boaters, greeting towpath users and carrying out maintenance work at locks across London. This year we’re looking to recruit more people to join the team, including forming a new team of ‘roving’ volunteer lock keepers based on the upper River Lee and River Stort, and volunteer mooring rangers to provide information and a welcome at moorings.
Recruitment is now underway and the closing date for applications is Friday 16 February. Click here to find out more about being a volunteer lock keeper, other opportunities in your area and how to apply.
Join us at Towpath Taskforce to help blow away those winter cobwebs! More information on each event can be found by clicking the links below. All tools and equipment will be supplied, please wear old clothes and hard-soled footwear and if the weather forecast is looking wet, don’t forget the waterproofs!
Did you know our partners the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority own and look after parts of the towpath along the Lee Navigation? During February they will be repairing and resurfacing 850 metres of their towpath near the Old Mill and meadows in Broxbourne.
Starting on 12 March, the works will head south from Crown Bridge towards Wharf Road. A towpath diversion will be in place, and mooring will need to be suspended from Sunday 18 February for two weeks to enable the works to goa ahead.
Over the last few months we have welcomed two new apprentices to our team. Linzi Joy McDonald arrived on in November 2017 as our Apprentice Volunteer Development Co-ordinator, and she’s been joined this month by Amy Conway as Apprentice Waterway Operative.
Click here for more information regarding becoming an apprentice with Canal & River Trust.
Each month, we’ll bring you a profile of one of the many people who care for and enjoy the waterways, from our staff, volunteers, boaters and waterways users, to local people, community groups and waterside businesses.
This month, we focus on the newest member of the London Waterway team, Jamal Jones-Thomas, who joins Enquiries London as customer support administrator.
"I’m the newest member of London’s enquiries team based in London Docklands. We answer the phones and deal with most things canal-related from lock bookings to selling boaters’ keys, pump out cards and licenses.
We handle calls reporting incidents, for example a damaged lock, injured bird or an oil spill then log and send this information to the relevant teams. We’ve even had reports of a seal in the Dock at west India Quay, so I assure you it’s not all doom and gloom! Sometimes, it could just be a leisurely call from a member of the public trying to find the best jogging or strolling locations across the network, or how long it takes to travel by boat from Bishops Stortford to Rickmansworth, we handle it all.
As much as I’m new to the Enquires team, I’m not new to the Trust. I think I hold the title for the longest standing member of the fundraising team, with three years of experience on our face to face campaign across the towpaths, engaging the public and empowering them to join our Canal community and friendship scheme supporting the Trust financially with a small but regular donation. This helps us continue with maintenance, improvements and other community engagement programmes across the waterways. I love it because you are exposed to such a wide range of people who all love the canals and rivers.
I started off three years ago without much knowledge of the canals as a basic fundraiser, working my way up to team leader within six months and have fulfilled various roles since, acquiring many different skills along the way and feel grateful to the Trust for the good opportunities that have come my way.
Being a London boy myself, it’s always good to be able to give to back to the communities I’ve grown up in and come from."
Sorwar Ahmed is Waterway Boating Manager for the Canal & River Trust in London. He’s engaging communities and developing social enterprises to improve the waterways for everyone! Every month he gives a round-up of news and views, essential reading for boaters and anyone with an interest in London’s canals.See more blogs from this author