News article created on 8 March 2019

Boaters' Update 8 March 2019

Welcome to the latest update where you'll be able find out what our direct services have been fixing, get some advice on how to safely refuel your boat and take a stroll down memory lane with a review of the 2008 and 2009 Crick Boat Shows as its 20th anniversary approaches.

Standedge Fair

Hopefully you managed to get out on the cut last week as we enjoyed the warmest winter day on record. It would have made a pleasant change for our teams on the bank repairing and restoring vital parts of the canal and river network. In this edition we shine a light on the hard work of one of those teams - direct services.

Elsewhere we offer some advice on how to safely refuel your boat and take a stroll down memory lane with a review of the 2008 and 2009 Crick Boat Shows as its 20th anniversary approaches.

The regular round-up of other boating news, stoppages and events are, as ever, here for you too. If there’s an article you’d like to read in a future event then do please drop me a line.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead                              

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

  • 5 Mar – Engineers are now working on repairs seven days a week in order to reopen Lock 16 on the Kennet & Avon Canal in time for spring.
  • 6 Mar – Ahead of the Gloucester Tall Ships Festival in May, a once-in-a-decade principal inspection was carried out by specialist engineers at Llanthony Lift Bridge in Gloucester Docks.
  • 6 Mar – Children and young people from all over the country are being invited to book their tickets for the 2019 Cadet, Junior and Youth Canal Angling Championships.

Below I’ve picked out some Open Days where you can come and see what we’re up to (along with a whole host of things) over the next few weeks. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities if none of the below take your fancy. Just visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • March – The 2019 Montgomery Canal Photographic Exhibition is now on in Newtown. The exhibition brings together photographs taken by members of the local community and beyond, as well as pictures covering the restoration including some archive ones.
  • 8 & 9 Mar – Travel back in time to 1908 and join the Night Watchman on his shift in the Docks at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port. Meet the Constable and get involved in an immersive experience – you can even decide how the story ends.
  • 9 & 10 Mar – Come along to our Open Day and see what the skilled team has been up to at Lock 17 of the Grand Union Canal (Northampton Arm) – as well as chatting to our experts you’ll be able to take part in fishing taster sessions and watch time-lapse video of the works in progress.
  • 17 Mar – Why not take up the Inland Waterway Association’s invite to join them on a towpath walk along the Regent’s Canal?

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What we’ve been fixing

As a boater you’ll notice more than most that we have a big planned programme of repair and restoration jobs that we carry out over winter while the canals are less busy. Of course, if you’re out cruising on a regular basis then you’ll know that not everything goes to plan – we sometimes have to respond to emergencies as well.

More often than not our direct services team steps in to save the day. If nothing unexpectedly breaks, leaks, ruptures or collapses (wouldn’t that be nice?!) then there’s always something else that they have to get on with. Below is a brief summary of what the team did in January:

  • 18 planned construction projects finished with a further three emergency jobs also completed
  • 1,000 volunteer hours contributed to construction works
  • 12 lock gates manufactured in our workshops
  • Project highlights include:
    • Weavers Bridge, Middlewich Branch – new bridge deck
    • Rochdale Canal repairs at locks 88 and 92
    • Soulbury Pumphouse progress
    • Cosgrove Lock, Grand Union Canal new top and bottom end gates
    • Rodbaston Lock Landing on the Staffs & Worcester
    • New lock gates at Kilnhurst Lock on the South Sheffield & Yorkshire Navigation
    • Tinsley Flight bank protection works
    • Lock stoppage at Greenberfield Lock, Leeds Liverpool

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Fuelling your passion

Moored boatsAs we edge towards warmer weather and lazy days on the cut, many of you will be fuelling up your boat in readiness for that first cruise of the year. While not always as straightforward as filling up your car in a petrol station, a few simple principles can reduce the risk of damaging the local environment and wildlife:

When refuelling

  • Use a fuel collar to catch drips
  • Avoid overfilling your tank to reduce the risk of fuel overflowing from vents
  • Allow room for expansion in the tank
  • Use an appropriately sized funnel
  • Carry a spill kit on board to deal with small scale fuel spillages

Onboard

  • Use a drip tray under the engine to catch leaks
  • Install an inline bilge filter to catch oil and fuel or use a bilge sock, to stop fuel being pumped out with bilge water
  • Always use a funnel when pouring fuel or oil
  • Maintain fuel lines, connections and seals to help avoid leaks
  • Transfer oil and fuel in proper containers
  • Dispose of waste oil/fuel soaked material at appropriate facilities. Find out where you can dispose of or recycle old oil at the oil bank line or call 03708 506 506

Pollution incidents

Despite your best efforts you may come across pollution from another source – there are over 500 pollution incidents reported to us every year, costing between £50 and £50,000 each to resolve.

If you do spot an oil spillage or any other pollution, perhaps by noticing fish in distress or dead, or an obvious change in the water colour, please get in touch with us as soon as you can on 0303 040 4040 or our dedicated 24-hour emergency contact number 0800 47 999 47 at evenings and weekends. The relevant environmental regulator also wants your call:

  • Environment Agency (in England) on 0800 80 70 60 (Freephone, 24-hour service)
  • Natural Resources Wales (in Wales) on 0300 065 3000

Our local teams respond to all reports and take whatever reasonable measures they can to contain and minimise the impacts of the pollution. If the pollution is serious, we support the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales who'll lead on responding to the incident. For less serious incidents, we will look after containing and minimising the impacts of pollution.

You'll find more information and advice on preventing pollution on our waterways and reservoirs from The Green Blue and Environment Agency.

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Crick Boat Show’s 2008 & 2009

It’s now only two months, two weeks and two days until the country’s biggest inland waterway festival, Crick Boat Show, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

In the fifth of the series, this article takes a stroll down memory lane as we reminisce about the previous 19 shows:

2008

Crick Boat ShowSporting achievements, such as Lewis Hamilton becoming the youngest ever Formula One champion and the GB Olympic team having its best Olympics in a century, were overshadowed by the credit crunch with the Government putting in to action a £500billion bank rescue package.

Cries of Mamma Mia could be heard up and down the country. While some were no doubt a reflection of the country’s finances, it was mostly heard in cinemas as the musical romantic comedy hit movie screens.

Thankfully, and as is still the case today, relief could be found on the waterways. The £500,000 renovation of Clarence Dock in Leeds was completed as were Middlewood Locks on the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal.

Narrowboats passing on Droitwich CanalThe good news didn’t stop there: just off the Trent & Mersey Canal, work began on the super-sized Mercia Marina and planning approval was given for the Droitwich Canals restoration project resulting in the opening of Barge Lock later in the year.

Saturday of that year’s Crick Boat Show was, by all accounts, a glorious day to be surrounded by boats and water. Unfortunately, the following day, the water started coming down from above and rarely stopped. Monday was drier but the rain gave way to 45mph gusts of wind.

In spite of the weather, it would seem, exhibitors still did ‘roaring trade’ and visitors still managed to get around most of the boats and displays before they were soaked through.

2009

The year didn’t start so well when, early in January, the national institution that was Woolworths closed all its 807 stores. Then, in the first half of February, the country had its biggest snowfall in nearly two decades with some places being buried in up to 22inches of snow.

Image showing Liverpool LinkMore positivity could be found in the country’s canals and rivers though. The new Liverpool Link opened at Easter, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal fully reopened after 18 months of substantial repairs, and the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct was designated as a World Heritage Site.

It was also the year in which British Waterways first announced its intention to move from the public to the voluntary sector. Although reports of the day suggest that the transition could take up to 10 years…

The weather was favourable for Crick Boat Show and, under a benign sky, visitors showed lots of interest in the boats on display but, as with all industries in the global recession, sales were reportedly down.

In the meantime, check out the show website for details of this year’s exhibitor list as, no matter what boaty product (or boat!) you’re after, it’s likely to be there. And, while you’re there, you can also book your advance tickets and save up to 15 per cent on the entry price for the event, which takes place at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, during 25-27 May, with an extra Trade & Preview Day to be held on Friday 24 May in association with LeeSan.

Thanks go to Waterways World for its help in providing archive material for research.

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Get Involved

Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering (such as those who contributed to the 1,000 hours of help that our construction team had in January) or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, and life better by water, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:

  • We’re inviting disabled boaters and/or their carers, partners, or family, to a couple of meetings to talk about their experience and how things could be improved.. The first is on 22 March in Leeds, at 2pm at our offices at Fearns Wharf, Neptune Street, Leeds LS9 8PB. The second is at St Margaret’s Hall, Bradford on Avon, and is on 26 March at 2pm. If you're not able to attend but would like to contribute, we’d still like to hear from you. You can send questions, comments, or suggestions – please get in touch. The notes from the last meeting, held in Newark, can be found here.
  • Has your waterways project made a splash? If so we’d love to know about it. Our flagship awards programme, the Living Waterways Awards, is now open for entries. They shine a spotlight on the amazing work being done to transform canals, rivers, lakes and lochs across the UK, helping to make life better for millions of people on and by the water. There are six categories up for grabs: Art, Culture or Events; Built Environment; Engaging Communities; Heritage & Conservation; Learning & Skills; and Natural Environment. Visit our website for entry forms or, if you have any questions, drop Justine Lee a line.

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

As someone who’s out on, 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 affect you if you’re planning on a cruise this weekend.

Of course, we still have a few weeks left of our winter stoppage programme and, as you can see by the list below, there’s a hive of activity repairing and restoring a variety of things. Below you’ll find, by canal or river, those that may affect your plans 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. The tech savvy among you may already know that you can set up your smartphone to notify you if a notice is issued for a canal or river that you’re interested in. For those that didn’t know, check out this guide to setting it up.

If you have any questions about a specific closure then just get in touch.

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The boaters' update

Think of this blog as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events.

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