Boaters' Update 5 October 2018

Welcome to the latest edition. The last edition's plea for rain had some effect - you can read about the canals we've been able to reopen for boating below. Elsewhere you'll find a report on our Annual Public Meeting, one way in which our volunteers have been celebrated and plenty of ways that you can get involved...

Boats on the Chesterfield Canal, courtesy Richard Croft Boats on the Chesterfield Canal, courtesy Richard Croft

I hope you’ve been able to get out on the cut over the last couple of weeks in this, erm, mostly cloudy, and sometimes damp, weather. The good news is that this change in weather has enabled to us to reopen navigation on some drought-affected canals – more on this below.

What happens pretty much regardless of the weather is the monumental effort made by Canal & River Trust volunteers all over the country. In this edition you’ll be able to read about one of the ways their hard work is recognised. 

Elsewhere you’ll find a report on our Annual Public Meeting along with the regular roundup of other boating news, stoppages and events. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition then please drop me a line.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead               

Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:

  • 27 Sep – We publicised two senior appointments as part of plans to boost the number of people using the West Midlands’ waterways as a place to go boating, keep fit, volunteer or just get away from the pressures of modern life.
  • 27 Sep – Northwich’s Hayhurst Bridge, the world’s first electrically-operated swing bridge, is to receive essential repairs with work starting earlier this week.
  • 2 Oct – Lucy McLauchlan, one of the UK's leading female street artists, has this week begin work on a major 80-metre mural in the historic Diglis Oil Basin in Worcester
  • 3 Oct – A former work boat has been transformed and, following its refurbishment, it will now be used by local people to help improve the waterways in Bath.

Below I’ve picked out some highlights to see and do over the next fortnight. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network: visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • Until 4 Nov – Why not get steaming (well, actually, watch someone else do it) at the Ellesmere Port Steam Days where you’ll see huge 1870s, Victorian steam-driven pumping engines in action – showing the power that once drove the hydraulic cranes and capstans at the dock.
  • 7 Oct – You’d be quackers (sorry) to miss the opportunity to cheer on your favourite duck in our second international, cross-border duck race at Chirk Aqueduct.
  • 7 Oct – Author Miles Hudson will read extracts from, and discuss, his new book '2089' at the National Waterways Museum Gloucester.
  • 14 Oct – Who doesn’t love live music, decorated boats, an arts and crafts market, dance displays, family entertainment and food and drink? No-one. You’ll find them all, and proof that life is better by water, at Banbury Canal Day 2018.

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More boating opportunities in the north following recent rainfall

While the hardier among you can still be seen at the tiller in shorts and t-shirts, the heady days of the heatwave are a slowly cooling memory. With the arrival of autumn we’ve returned to more usual conditions. This has meant that some helpful rainfall in September has replenished canal pounds and led to some refill of reservoirs allowing us to reopen sections to boats:

Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool between Gargrave and Wigan Top Lock have now been reopened. It follows the reopening of the eastern section of the canal earlier in September meaning that boaters will now be able to use the canal between the top of Wigan Flight and Leeds.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal, MellingLocks at Barrowford (locks 45-51), Greenberfield (locks 42-44), Bank Newton (locks 36-41), and Gargrave (lock 30) will operate within restricted opening times (between 10am and 4pm each day) to protect reservoir levels and enable pounds to recover ready for the following days boating.

The canal at Wigan will reopen once works to repair locks 73 and 81 are completed. The flight is expected to be available for use over the October half term holidays, which is a popular time for many boaters. With works being brought forward from the winter maintenance programme the canal between Wigan Flight and Liverpool will be available to use throughout the winter.

The Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals

The Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals are set to open tomorrow, on 6 October, once works at Lock 11 are completed. Locks will be open each day between 8am and 1pm for the first week and then, subject to water resources, will reopen as soon as possible afterwards.

Huddersfield Narrow, Caldon and Rochdale Canals

Elsewhere the Huddersfield Narrow, Caldon and Rochdale canals are all fully open – although the latter is still being closed overnight at Hebden Bridge to preserve water.

Further south, where the limited rainfall has not significantly improved reservoir holdings, we’re restricting opening times in a number of places. The precautionary measures will see locks at Watford (locks 1-7) and Foxton on the Leicester Line (locks 8-17) open between 10am and 4pm and Buckby on the Grand Union Canal (locks 8-11) open between 8am and 5pm.  These follow earlier restrictions in place at Napton, Marston Doles (both 10am – 4.30pm) and Claydon (10am – 4pm) on the Oxford Canal.

Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support said: "It’s fantastic that the recent rainfall has enabled us to reopen further sections of canal for boaters to enjoy. The storms in September have by no means resolved the drought situation entirely but they have improved water holdings enough for boats to get back on the move in many places.

"It gives boaters time to enjoy some cruising ahead of the winter. We’d like to thank all the boaters and businesses on those sections of canal affected for the understanding and patience they’ve shown over the summer.

"We are still seeing some challenging conditions on parts of the network in the south where rainfall has been lighter and so not significantly boosted reservoir holdings. That’s why we’re introducing some sensible precautions on the Oxford Canal and Grand Union – including the Leicester Line - to make the best possible use of our water resources and enable boats to get to where they need to be."

To get further detail on specific opening times go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn all tropical again.

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Annual Public Meeting

We held our Annual Public Meeting in Birmingham last week (26 September). The well attended event – with a good mix of waterway stakeholders, partners, boaters and members of the media – gave those present the chance to hear how we, the Trust, are continuing to evolve to give our waterways the best possible care now and in the future.

Chair Allan Leighton welcomed guests before chief executive Richard Parry spoke about the importance of creating a Trust that is fit for the future, how the charity is working towards that goal, and is widening the appeal of the nation’s waterways. 

Attendees heard an overview of how the Trust is funding the task of caring for the waterways now and sustaining their care for the longer term; working with partners and those who live, work and travel along the waterways; engaging communities with the work the Trust carries out; managing water resources; and making sure the Trust is in the best shape possible for the future, with new brand positioning and a new devolved regional structure.

After the annual meeting, the Trust held the 15th meeting of its governing council where Jennie Price CBE and Sarah Whitney were appointed as trustees of the Canal & River Trust.

They replace Frances Done CBE and Manish Chande who have completed their second volunteer terms as trustees and retired from the board.

Jennie Price CBE has been chief executive of Sport England since 2007 and has recently announced her departure later this year, she is also chair of the Youth United Foundation, a member of the Health & Wellbeing Advisory Board at Disney, and a visiting fellow at Cranfield School of Management. 

Sarah Whitney BSc FCA has been director of Whitney Consulting, a real estate, economic, finance and investment consultancy, since 2012.  She previously held senior positions at CB Richard Ellis, DTZ Holdings, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She holds non-executive positions at University College London and The Land Trust, and is a senior visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.

Allan Leighton commented: "I’m delighted to welcome Jennie and Sarah to the Trust. They bring a depth and breadth of understanding that will enrich our thinking as we look to the future. Jennie’s considerable experience at Sport England and beyond will provide invaluable input to our positioning as we stress the importance of health and wellbeing, while Sarah’s impressive investment background makes her perfectly placed to take a lead role on the Trust’s investment decisions.

"I’d like to thank Frances and Manish for their wisdom and commitment over their time with the Trust, in particular the significant roles they’ve played as chairs of our audit & risk, and investment committees, respectively."

To watch the Facebook Live feed again and see the full presentations from the APM visit our dedicated webpage.

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Waterway awards celebrate volunteering excellence

Most, if not all, boaters will have at some stage benefitted from the tireless efforts of our volunteers. It might have been a particularly spotless set of visitor moorings, a set of locks made so much easier by a volunteer lockie, or even a nugget of local information that would have otherwise passed you by - the list goes on.

Wigan Lock volunteeringThis hugely positive impact has been celebrated by us, together with Marsh Christian Trust, at an awards ceremony, and we’re pleased to announce the winners of this year’s volunteer awards which recognise volunteer excellence along the nation’s waterways.

Now in its fourth year the awards were hosted by our chief executive, Richard Parry, and Charles Micklewright, Trustee of the Marsh Christian Trust. The awards were presented at a celebration event in Birmingham which brought together volunteers from across the country. 

The winners from each category are:

Volunteer Ambassador Award – This award recognises those volunteering with the Canal & River Trust in customer facing roles, engaging with the public and promoting the importance of our canals and waterways.

Winner: Tom Misselbrook - volunteer on the Worcester & Birmingham and Droitwich canals and at Gloucester Docks.

Volunteer Specialist Award - This award recognises those who volunteer with the Canal & River Trust within specialist teams such as engineering, hydrology, and marketing. These volunteers contribute expert and technical skills which are a huge asset to the organisation, and often come up with new ways of working.

Winner: Bill Darch – volunteer at the National Waterways museum.

Volunteer Impact Award – This award recognises volunteers with the Canal & River Trust who have made a significant impact through their dedication, ability to bring about changes, and that show drive and enthusiasm for the organisation.

Winner: Michelle Hale – volunteer on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.

Volunteer Leader Award – for volunteers who take on responsibility of leadership, using skills to plan, deliver, promote and celebrate their team’s work.

Winner: Marcus Hill-Jones – who has volunteered with teams in the East Midlands and Yorkshire & North East waterway regions.

Volunteer of Special Merit –  This is an additional award for a volunteer who had gone above and beyond in their role and made a special contribution which the judges felt could not be overlooked.

Winner: Imelda Weeks – volunteer in the Trust’s North West waterway region.

The winners have each won a prize of £500 per category which has been kindly donated by the Marsh Christian Trust, a grant-making body that supports environmental, social welfare, arts and heritage Volunteers at Carthagena Lockcharities. Imelda will receive a donation towards a local celebration event with her volunteering team as a gesture of thanks and appreciation.

In addition to these awards we presented Gold Badges to 97 volunteers who have donated 2,000 or more hours of their time to Trust. There are now around 120 who have achieved this and, jaw-droppingly, two volunteers who have each clocked up over 9,000 hours of volunteer time with us.

Richard Parry, chief executive at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We have many amazing volunteers and these awards recognise those that have made an outstanding contribution to helping us to keep our waterways a special place for everyone - boaters and other visitors alike - to enjoy. Last year our volunteers donated in total over 600,000 hours of their time to care for our canals and rivers; this outstanding effort shows how much people across the country value their waterways.

“Recent research shows that spending time by water makes you happier and healthier, and we believe that volunteering with us is good Cath Turpin preparing for a boat trip at the National Waterway Museumfor your mental and physical wellbeing, as well as helping the waterways.  I would encourage anyone with a little time and a lot of enthusiasm to come along to their local Canal & River Trust group and get involved.  Volunteering with us is a great way to make a difference to your local community whilst also doing yourself a power of good, and we would be delighted to welcome you along.”

The awards were judged by a range of representatives from organisations including the Canal & River Trust, the Marsh Christian Trust, national volunteering organisations, and members of the wider charitable sector.  

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Get involved

Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering (just look at the article above!) or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:

  • There’s still time to give your views on the BSS consultation regarding the mandatory inclusion of Carbon Monoxide detectors in the Boat Safety Scheme certification.
  • Following on from last month’s constructive meeting in Birmingham with people who have an interest in making the waterways more accessible to those with disabilities, Matthew Symonds (boating policy and engagement manager) is heading to London on 7 November to get more views about disabled boaters’ experience of boating on our waterways. If you’ve got something to say on the subject, you’ll find him at the Pirate Castle in Camden between 3.30pm and 5.30pm. If you can’t make it but would like to give your views please email matthew.symonds@canalrivertrust.org.uk.
  • In the last edition I promoted the Sheffield Waterfront Festival (hope those who went had fun). This inspired a reader to get in touch with a helpful insight: “If anyone from further afield ever wants to visit Sheffield by boat the moorings at the end of the Canal are virtually in the city centre. They are safe and literally about 100 yards from the tram stops. Sheffield is well worth a visit and although I live not too far away, and went to school even closer, when we’ve travelled by boat into the centre we were able to visit places easily.” If you have any any tips about mooring in particular places then do please send them in and I’ll share here.
  • Boaters play a central role in the huge task of keeping the canals and rivers open and we are very grateful to you.  We often hear feedback that you want to know more about how and where we spend the money – especially your licence fees. We want to create a leaflet (PDF) to go out with boat licences that will explain how the money we get from boaters – as well as from other sources – goes back into looking after the waterways. We hope this will give boaters an idea of where the money comes from and what it gets spent on. We’d like you to tell us what sort of information you’d want to see. This will help us develop a draft, which we’ll ask our Navigation Advisory Group and the boater representatives on Council to review. We want to make sure it covers the things boaters most want to hear about (while recognising we might not be able to fit everything in!) – and the best way to do that is to hear your suggestions!  Please send them through to fran.read@canalrivertrust.org.uk by 19 October. 

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

As someone who’s out, or by, the water more often than most you’ll know that there are times when we need to fix things that unexpectedly break. So, below, you’ll find a list of anything that’s happening that may seriously affect you if you’re planning on a cruise this weekend.

When any restrictions to navigation happen, we get them up on to our website as soon as we can – always best to have a scan before you set off for a cruise. If you have any questions about a specific closure then you’ll find the email addresses for our regional offices on our contacts page.

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Bits and bobs

  • If you’re starting to plan your winter calendar then remember that winter mooring permits are now on sale via our web licensing site. For those without an account on our web licensing site, but who are a current licence-holder, please make sure you select an option to register under ‘I am an existing Canal & River Trust customer’. If you have any questions about our winter moorings please call customer services on 0303 040 4040 or drop us a line.
  • Did you know you can buy pump out cards, Canal & River Trust keys, handcuff keys and more at your local Trust office? Perhaps you did but weren’t sure where your local office was. This handy map will help.
  • Just in case you're looking for a project, there’s a sale of a wide variety of our workboats and other equipment by auction, which opens on 11 October. Visit the website for more information

Last date edited: 5 October 2018

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The boaters' update

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