Spring has finally sprung, so it’s a great time to get out and about on our waterways, whether boating, enjoying the towpaths or getting stuck in as a volunteer! This month’s Bulletin will, sadly, be the last in its current form. From Monday 4 June the London Waterway becomes the London & South East Region, so our future editions will bring you all your usual news, just with a more regional flavour. We hope you've enjoyed the London Bulletin, and hope you'll stick with us!
After five years in which we have successfully established the Trust, we are looking ahead to the wider, significant role we can play in enriching lives.
We have an amazing legacy, with 8 million people across the country living with one of our waterways on their doorstep, in both urban and rural areas, so we can make life better for millions by encouraging people to use and enjoy them, to improve their health and wellbeing and get involved in helping us to care for them.
Right now, we know that only around a third of the general public know about the Trust, way below other national charities. This means that a large proportion of the millions of people who live around us, and may even use their local waterways or towpaths, don't know who we are or that we need their support. It is essential that we change this if we are to secure our long-term future.
The new look for the Trust has been developed to appeal to those who don’t currently know about us, whilst still connecting with our existing users and supporters. Our new look will be rolled out gradually over the next couple of years, as and when things need replacing, so the majority of costs would be part of our normal on-going spend. Very little has been spent on developing our new branding, and it has been paid for through our existing marketing budget. Our work to care for the waterways themselves continues to increase.
The brand re-launch will be key to securing the waterways’ long term future; the Trust has to connect with, and build support amongst, a much larger and broader group of people than know about us now. The re-launch is critical to achieving this boost in awareness and support over the long term so that, many years from now, we have the resources to enable us to care for the waterways as effectively as we can today.
That is why investing time and effort in re-positioning the Trust, and revitalising our brand, will give us a significant return, many times over, in the future. We will be launching our new, revitalised brand on 22 May.
We have appointed six new regional directors to drive the next phase of the Trust’s development, as we take forward our transformation to become a charity for waterways and wellbeing, enriching the lives of millions of local people with waterways on their doorstep. The external appointees will be joining the Trust during July and August, with interim arrangements in place until then.
The Trust’s new regional structure goes live on 4 June 2018, with the London Waterway and part of South-East Waterway merging to form the new London & South East Region.
The regional director for London & South East will be Ros Daniels, who joins the Trust with extensive experience of the heritage and tourism sector, most recently as Head of Historic Properties, London at English Heritage. Tav Kazmi, currently acting waterway manager for the South East, is appointed as deputy director, recognising the scale and impact of London & South East as a region, with many complex challenges specific to the capital and its surrounding area, and with huge potential opportunities for the Trust to grasp.
Following the restoration of Carpenters Road Lock we were delighted that the project was shortlisted for two London Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyor Awards. The project was nominated under the Building Conservation category as we carefully followed the original designs, restored original pieces and opened up this historic loop. We were also entered under the Leisure and Tourism category in recognition of the new setting for boating, sport and cultural activities that the lock and surrounding public space provide. While we missed out on the top prize at the awards cermony on 16 May, being shortlisted is proof of the hard work staff and volunteers put into the engineering work, the East London Waterways Festival and the ongoing activities at Carpenters Road.
We have been granted planning permission for 16 new residential moorings in Millwall Outer Dock, providing new homes for those seeking life on the water.
Living afloat in London has never been so popular, with the number of boats on London’s waterways going up by over 70% in the past five years. Residential moorings are often oversubscribed, so this new development will provide a much-desired resource for the capital.
The new mooring scheme will see high quality pontoons, water, electricity and other facilities built in the dock. There will be plenty of space left in the dock for sports like canoeing and sailing. Floating planters alongside the pontoons will provide a home for ducks, coots and other wildlife.
The moorings will be managed by Waterside Mooring - the part of the Trust that looks after over 300 long term mooring sites across England and Wales.
As we mentioned at the last Waterway Forum in April, we are proposing two priority repairs to lock gates on the Regent’s Canal this summer. While most canal stoppages are scheduled for our winter works programme, to minimise disruption to cruising and boating businesses, we’re proposing these urgent repairs to address the low water levels regularly experienced on the Regent’s Canal. The works will involve short stoppages for up to a week at Acton’s Lock (to replace the pot pintle and heel post) and at Mile End Lock (to carry out repairs below water level). We will shortly be writing to boating businesses and other stakeholders with more information. In the meantime, please keep an eye on our stoppage notices to ensure you plan your cruising around these works.
Despite the heavy rains in recent months, we have been suffering a prolonged period of dry weather over the last few years, and the River Lea/Lee Navigation in particular is suffering low flows. Conservation of water supplies is important if we are to keep our waterways flowing. Here are some tips to help you use less water as you cruise around:
Find out how you can save water when you’re out boating.
Volunteers in Broxbourne have been rebuilding a popular stretch of towpath since the start of May, and it’s a pretty big task! We will be continuing over the summer months, on a twice-monthly basis. We’d love more volunteers so if you’d like to lend a hand please visit our website.
Volunteers are an essential part of the Canal & River Trust team, helping to look after the London’s waterways and making them a welcoming place for people and wildlife. We've a range of events and opportunities going on from festivals and towpath taskforce, to eel monitoring and floating litter picks. To find out more please check out the latest newsletter on our website.
Join us at Towpath Taskforce to help keep London’s waterways looking their best.
Please click the links below for more information. We'll supply the tools (and the tea) - you supply the enthusiasm. Please wear old clothes suitable for the forecasted weather and hard-soled footwear. The remaining date this month is:
Roger Anthony, who volunteers at Ware Welcome Station in Hertfordshire, recently celebrated his 70th birthday with a canal-themed cake, a surprise from his wife Eleanor Anthony who is also a volunteer in Ware. It’s clear that the waterways, and the Trust, hold a special place in their hearts. A belated Happy Birthday, Roger!
In this month’s profile, Bob Chase shares his reflections on mindfulness. Bob, a former city worker now travelling the making new friends as a freelance mindfulness teacher, runs Fiodra, a purpose-built widebeam barge which is his floating home and venue.
‘The promise that owning a boat will free you from life’s worries is a potent one. We are all invested in this message to different degrees. Suggestions that it might, sometimes, be less than wonderful don’t get much air time and can be uncomfortable.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the boating life; after all, I have lived on three boats spanning thirty years. My own experience is that whilst it has its compensating joys, many cares followed me onto the boat and were added to by new ones.
Boat living is also a compromise solution for many people. After separating from my partner my return to boating life was driven by finances as much as a love of the Cut. It has been tough at times and I know I am not the only one to experience this. Mindfulness has become a way of looking after myself, during both good and difficult times on the Cut.
Acknowledging this gap between how we want the world to be and reality is central to Mindfulness. Focussing on the present moment can help us notice this gap and our reactions to it. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says “When you drink tea - just drink tea”. That is, to intentionally focus on what you are doing and your present moment experience without judging it. Easy, huh?
So, for us boaters we can start by: just steering the boat when we steer; just lifting the paddle, when we lift a paddle and Oh! when someone takes your mooring space, smile at them and see how it feels. Find out more from the Mental Health Foundation and Bob’s Mindfulness events specifically for boaters.
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