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In this edition you can read how we, and volunteers, have started on the huge effort to repair flood damage. Head of boating, Mike Grimes, is also asking for boaters' views. Talking of which, more of you have been in touch regarding how to moor properly. You can also read, among others, a heritage advisors take on graffiti.
Welcome to the latest edition of Boaters’ Update. Well, that’s nearly a month of 2016 gone already. Maybe for you, like me, it’s flown by – I feel as though I’ve lost time! One discussion I’ve had this week gave me some perspective though.
For those on a relatively small part of the network, and affected by the recent flooding, it might be a long, arduous, and emotional journey putting their life back together. But, as someone remarked to me, every day another step in the right direction is made so the quicker the days fly by the better.
In the first article you can read more about the huge efforts volunteers have already made to help us start to repair the damage.
Elsewhere in this edition you’ll find more news of Crick Boat Show, a heritage advisor’s take on graffiti and an article from head of boating, Mike Grimes, among others:
If there’s something you’d like to share with the boating community via this update then please drop me a line.
Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:
Before the next edition is published you might like to know that:
Of course, there are plenty of other activities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.
As mentioned in the introduction, as each day goes by a step is being made towards repairing the damage caused by the recent floods.
Such is the damage in some areas, our own workboats either can’t get to them or are being used on other flood-related repairs. Thankfully members of the Calder Navigation Society (CNS) and Inland Waterways Association (IWA) came to the rescue with their boat-handling skills to enable staff from the local team to assess the damage from the water.
Using a boat lent by hire firm Shire Cruisers at Sowerby Bridge, members of the CNS and IWA took staff out to get a better look at lock gates and mechanisms and also to check out any obstructions in the water. The Safe Anchor Trust based in Mirfield has also made a similar offer of help. Thanks to this help we were able to confirm that the navigation between Sowerby Bridge and Salterhebble was clear of obstructions and it was reopened shortly afterwards.
The damage isn’t just to the navigation though. A towpath clean up took place at Elland last Saturday - around 60 people joined forces with junior soldiers from Harrogate Army Foundation College to clear the towpath between Elland Lock and Park Nook, removing debris and rebuilding a dry stone wall that had been destroyed by the force of the water.
Elsewhere a Herculean effort from volunteers, supported by the Trust, helped to reopen the first stretches of flood damaged towpath along the Rochdale Canal. Amazingly, over 200 tonnes of stone and other materials have been moved – the weight of 15 double decker buses – to fill holes and long scours that were left by flood waters along the popular towpath through Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.
As I’m writing this a couple of days in advance of publication, I can’t promise but we are hoping that, by today (29 Jan), local residents will once again be able to use the towpath all the way from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge.
Of course, there’s a huge amount of work ahead. If you’re in the Sowerby Bridge area tomorrow morning (Saturday 30 Jan) then your help would be greatly appreciated. All volunteers are welcome: meet at the Wharf at 10.30am. Just bring sturdy footwear, warm clothes and be prepared to get stuck in!
We want to get these waterways open to boaters and local residents as quickly as we can. Part of this drive has been to launch an appeal - to find out more please click on the link below to visit the dedicated webpage.
Please share this appeal as far and wide as you can so we can raise as much awareness (and money!) as possible.
Continuing with his monthly contribution, Mike Grimes, head of boating at the Trust, is encouraging boaters to give us their views:
"Before getting on to my main topic I want to thank all those helping us with the mammoth clean up and repair of the flood damaged waterways in the north. I visited the area last week and came away with two contrasting feelings.
”Firstly, I felt miserable after seeing the state the flooding left some of our most picturesque canals and rivers in. But that feeling was trumped by one of inspiration. Throughout the day I talked to some boaters and boating business owners who had been helping, pretty much since day one, by volunteering their time and skills to help with the work.
“Their passion and enthusiasm, along with that of the local community, left me feeling much more positive than I had on my arrival.
“So, as the title says, I wanted to talk about a bit of BOV’er. Before starting I should explain that BOV actually stands for Boat Owners’ Views. And that’s exactly what we want.
“In the next couple of weeks we’ll be emailing, or posting if you haven’t given us an email address, a survey out to around a third of boat licence holders. It’s a relatively wide ranging survey asking questions about everything from customer service through to your boating habits.
“It’s been a couple of years since the last one but, from this point on, it will be repeated each year with the aim of having contacted the majority of boaters in each three-year cycle.
“One thing is obvious – as a collective you’re a passionate and knowledgeable bunch and it’s really important that we listen to what you think we’re doing well, so we can make sure it’s done all around the network. On the flip side, it’s just as important to hear what you think we should be improving on – it’ll help us prioritise our work.
“You really are our eyes and ears on the towpaths – an ever present community that will notice things that we don’t so your lived experience should inform our work. If we do get in touch with you and ask for your thoughts please do take the time to complete the survey’
“We’ll be publishing a summary of the results in May and I hope that they will give us an insight into both the general and the more localised subjects that matter most to you.”
Many readers of this Boaters’ Update are proud boat owners. There is, however, a decent proportion who are either part-owners or holiday boaters. If you fall into one of the latter two then you might want to head to Crick Boat Show, on the late May Bank Holiday this year.
As the inland waterways’ biggest boat show in the UK, it’s an unrivalled opportunity to see more than 50 boats in one place, visit exhibitors covering every facet of leisure boating and boat ownership and indulge your love of the waterways.
So, if you’ve been hankering to own a boat but, as a newbie, are nervous about how to navigate the waterways, then the new Boat Handling Taster Sessions are an ideal way to build confidence and get a feel for what’s involved. Hour-long sessions will be taking place throughout the weekend and will be expertly led by The Narrowboat Skills Centre, Willow Wren Training and Watercraft.
Each boat trainer will talk you through the basics of casting off, mooring up, boat etiquette, rope handling, breaking down boat jargon as well as the dreaded lock navigation! You’ll get the chance to take the tiller under the supervision of an experienced boater.
The training boats can accommodate up to four people at once so you, your partner or family (children must be aged 12 and over), can experience it all at the same time.
Places are limited, so advance booking is recommended. Bookings will open in early February at www.crickboatshow.com or you can book a place by calling 01283 742970.
To receive more information, including an update on when the bookings open, sign up at www.crickboatshow.com.
Of course, if you’re an old hand on the inland waterways then why not just come along, catch a seminar or two, browse the many exhibitors, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a weekend with those that share your passion?
Continuing the series of articles from our regional heritage advisors, Florence Salberter, responsible for London and the south east, takes a look at the different perspectives on graffiti:
”The London Waterways have recently acquired a new weapon against graffiti, it is called ‘Thermatec’. It works by using high temperature vapourised water which means the pressure can be reduced limiting the potential damages.
“The network in central London, in particular, is blighted by graffiti… or is it adorned? A freedom to express ourselves is embedded and cherished in our society, just as is the protection of our own private property and that of the nation’s heritage.
“Our museums in London are thriving with the Tate building an extension on the South Bank and the ‘Olympicopolis’ for the Queen Elizabeth Park being developed with major institutions such as the V&A and the University of the Arts. All of us appreciate one form or another of artistic expression.
“Graffiti is not new either. The cave of Lascaux in the Dordogne-Périgord are these days closed to the public to protect the prehistoric paintings from carbon dioxide produced by visitors, while carefully reproduced copies are on display.
“These days, some graffiti by famous people like Banksy have been protected behind a sheet of plexi-glass or even ‘lifted’ out of their substrate so it can be sold. Pieces by well-known graffiti artists have at times been described as a gift and museums have held exhibitions of Street-Art.
“I can hear some of you telling me that surely there is a distinction between ‘Street-Art’ and awful ‘tagging’. The first being beautiful and enhancing our environment while the latter is vandalism, sometimes used by gangs to ’mark’ their territory, like a dog spraying a wall.
“The distinction between ‘tagging’ and ‘Street Art’ can sometimes be slightly blurred, and, after all, who decides what is Art? This is a philosophical question still being debated centuries after philosophers such as Plato, Kant and Nietzsche having had a go at it.
“Judge Hardy who jailed five members of a graffiti group in 2008 said “It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge that some examples of your handiwork show considerable artistic talent (…) the trouble is that it has been sprayed all over other people’s property without their consent and that is simply vandalism”.
“Our inland waterways are made of, literally, thousands of historic structures built by our ancestors. Some of these are protected by legislation, and spraying paint at these is a heritage crime that can lead to prosecution. I will appreciate the artistic quality of some pieces but ultimately, it might legally need to be removed using our new weapon.”
Thanks Florence. Now, while this may be a can of worms I should leave the lid on, I can’t resist asking ‘what’s your experience and views on waterside ‘graffiti’ – love it or hate it?’ Please drop me a line with your thoughts…
After the last edition, which included an article that reported on your views on mooring properly, quite a few of you got in touch with more mooring feedback, tips and diagrams – it’s always appreciated – and I thought that regular readers would be interested in the advice being offered and to see what else is being said.
As mentioned in the first article of this edition some parts, although a relatively small percentage, have suffered damage as a result of the festive flooding. With this in mind, please make sure you check the stoppage section of the website before setting off on your cruise. You might also want to check the weather…
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