Boaters' Update 17 May 2019
In this edition, and with just a week to go until the 20th Crick Boat Show, you'll find a preview. You can also read about our museums' top finds and get an update on the work we're doing to reopen the Leeds & Liverpool in Burnley. Of course, there's the regular roundup of waterway news, stoppages and events!
Welcome to the latest edition. In a week’s time it’ll be another Bank Holiday weekend. We know that spending time on or by the water is good for your mental and physical health so why not make the most of the upcoming long weekend by coming along to Crick Boat Show! You can read all about what’s on offer below.
Other topics covered in this edition include the top seven National Waterways Museum finds, an update on the repairs at Finsley Gate on the Leeds & Liverpool, and the regular roundup of latest news, stoppages and events!
If there’s an article you’d like to read in a future edition then do please drop me a line.
In this edition:
- News round-up and the fortnight ahead
- Crick Boat Show not to be missed
- Seven top waterway museum finds
- Restoration teams working round the clock to re-open Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Burnley
- Get Involved
- Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend
- Bits and bobs
Over the last few weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
- 3 May – As the Lancaster Canal celebrates its bicentenary the project officer, Carrie House, is asking people to get involved in discovering the canal’s hidden gems and help to restore the rich local heritage of South Cumbria.
- 9 May – We launched an exciting new challenge for all ages to enjoy in Leeds this summer in partnership with hospital charity Leeds Cares.
- 9 May – Scientists on the River Severn have recorded the year’s first sighting of one of Britain’s rarest fish, as a vital research phase of the Unlocking the Severn project got underway in Worcestershire.
- 10 May – We launched a children’s poetry competition celebrating the Llangollen Canal to mark ten years since it became a World Heritage site.
Below I’ve picked out some events you might be interested in over the next few weeks. 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.
- 18 May – Thanks to funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund we're currently restoring the Grade II listed Soulbury Pumping Station. Come along on this open day to see what we've been up to!
- 18 to 19 May – Get along to the Moira Canal Festival on the Ashby Canal to experience a living history display, childrens entertainment, Battle of Britain flight flypast, morris dancing and a duck race.
- 18 to 19 May – It’s been 50 years since the Welford Arm (Leicester Line) reopened and, to celebrate, there’ll be a whole host of activities including live music, historic boats and tractors as well as things to keep the kids busy!
- 18 & 19 May – There is a lot to see at this year's Rickmansworth Canal Festival, and things for the whole family to enjoy. From rock choirs, rock music and poetry to historic wooden working boat 'Roger', books, gifts and ice creams.
- 25 to 27 May – This year Crick Boat Show will be celebrating its 20th anniversary, and it's set to be even bigger and better than last year. Read more below.
It’s here! Since early January I’ve been charting the history of Crick Boat Show to celebrate its pedigree as the show, in just a week’s time, marks its 20th birthday. The only show I haven’t covered is last year’s so there’s a quick review of that below, alongside what you’ll find at this year’s show.
Last year was one of extremes. We had snow in March followed by a string of ‘warmest on records’ – the warmest London Marathon and warmest May were topped off by the warmest summer in England. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle couldn’t have picked better weather for their wedding in May.
In the world of sport, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, England flourished at the World Cup, going on to rank fourth in the competition after reaching the semi finals.
In spite of record breaking warmth and dryness we managed to keep over 90% of canals open for you to enjoy. This also meant that many of you, around 26,000, flocked to Crick Boat Show to enjoy the three-day boaty extravanganza packed full of exhibitors and show boats.
This year’s Crick Boat Show
It’s big. In fact it’s the biggest inland waterway festival in Britain:
- Over 250 exhibitors offering a huge range of products, from fenders through to cratch covers. Whatever your boat needs, you’re likely to find it at Crick Boat Show.
- Relax in a beautiful setting with like-minded boating enthusiasts and enjoy the food marquee, real ale bar and live music, with Los Pacaminos featuring Paul Young (yes, that one!) headlining on Saturday 25 May.
- Perhaps you’re in the market for a new boat? Look no further than the 40 plus boats that will be on display – from long and wide ones all the way through to short and narrow.
The list highlights a few of the things that might pique your interest. Visit the Crick Boat Show website to find out more.
Of course, we’d love to see you too! Come and find us in our marquee where our museums team will have a fantastic display and visitors can learn about life on the canal in the 19th century.
You’ll also have the opportunity to see (and join in with!) apprentices demonstrating lime mortaring and brickwork skills live as they build a stone wall over the course of the weekend.
Our ever-popular fish tank will be back and full of canal-dwelling fish and our fisheries and angling team will be on hand to tell you all about angling along the network.
The environment team will have information and activities about the wildlife living in and near the cut and our water management team will be there with their special canal flume to demonstrate how we manage water levels on the network.
There will be plenty more things to keep children (and big kids!) busy, with colouring-in, a sticker trail, and traditional roses and castles painting with CanalArts where you can paint a rose onto a wooden spoon to take home.
The boating team will also be on hand to answer any questions. So, if you’re thinking about buying your first boat, need to renew your licence, considering starting a boating business or have any other questions, come along and have a chat.
Away from our marquee, and for the first time ever, we’re hosting a seminar in the Crick Boat Show seminar schedule. This will be all about volunteering for the Trust and the breadth of work volunteers can do, and will consist of a panel of volunteers discussing their experiences and opening up to questions.
There’s now only 48 hours left to book your advance tickets and save up to 15 per cent on the entry price for the event (closes at midnight on Sunday 19 May). It 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.
When you’re out on your boat enjoying the therapeutic effect of being on or by the water it can be easy to forget about the history of the network. That’s where our museums come in!
There’s a massive range of exhibits and activities at each location – Gloucester, Ellesmere Port and Stoke Bruerne – some of which use the latest technology to bring the past to life, while others employ more traditional ways to evoke the history of the waterways, including scaled-down models of historic structures, maps, old photographs and film. Below you’ll find a taster of what you’ll find if you get the chance to visit the next time you’re in the area:
- Witness a working dock
At the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester Docks, housed in an impressive Grade II Victorian grain warehouse, there’s a fascinating model of Gloucester Docks in their heyday. The model gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the sounds and images of a bustling, multicultural workplace, once at the heart of a regional transport network and Gloucester life.
- See a Severn Trow rope replica
Also at Gloucester, you can discover a six-metre long rope recreation of a Severn Trow – a type of cargo boat unique to the area, whose flat bottomed design allowed it to sail through the shallow sections of the river. These tough little ships were capable of navigating the stormy tides of the Severn estuary from the ports of Bristol and South Wales, as well as on the river to Worcester and Stourport.
- Find a Window on the World
At the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, the latest augmented reality enables you to experience life through the eyes of the real 19th century workers who made their living in the docks and on the historic slipway there. The stories of Carpenter Henry Leadbetter, boatwoman Harriet Price and night watchman Charlie Broster, are among the voices bringing history vividly to life
- Take the Ice Breaker Challenge
Also at Ellesmere Port is an interactive display that offers the chance to find out what an icebreaker did and to test your skills as a boater by having a go on the digital icebreaker to see how much ice you can break before time runs out.
- Step back in time at Porters Row
After you’ve worn yourself out on the icebreaker challenge you might want to take a stroll around the four Porters Row cottages and garden that recreate domestic life in the canal docks through the ages. Built in 1833, the cottages are now dressed to evoke homes from the 1830s, 1900s, 1930s and 1950s, each with features of their time, from oil lamps to electric lights and from coal-fired coppers to early hand-operated washing machines.
- Climb aboard an historic working boat
Outside the Canal Museum in Stoke Bruerne, in the heart of rural Northamptonshire, narrowboat Sculptor is moored up on the Grand Union Canal and offers you the chance to see what life on board a working boat was really like. Built in 1935 and originally owned by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company, Sculptor was used to carry a variety of cargo, such as cotton and coal, between the Midlands and London.
- Discover historic ‘short boat’ George
Part of the historic boat collection at Ellesmere Port, the newly restored George is a rare-surviving horse-drawn ‘short boat’, which once operated on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. George first carried coal between Haigh and Liverpool, and later on for the National Coal Board on the Bridgewater Canal. Built of wood, she is just 62ft long, enabling her to pass through the short locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
Coincidentally you can take the Ice Breaker Challenge, and see a small collection of historic objects, in our marquee at Crick Boat Show. If you do come along to Crick, you could combine it with a trip to the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne which is only 20 miles away!
Over the colder winter months, when the cut is quieter, we programme in a wide range of big repair and restoration projects so that, when the weather is better, you can enjoy getting out on the water.
At least, that’s the plan.
Frustratingly, despite months of intricate planning, the 200+ year old network sometimes throws us a curve ball and it doesn’t quite work out that way. One such ball came from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal earlier this year.
To deal with it our staff are working 12 hour days as part of a major project to repair the lining of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Burnley to re-open the canal as quickly as possible.
The work, which started in January, has involved removing over 1,200 tonnes of silt which was discovered at the bottom of the canal bed - almost double the amount than was first estimated. We are repairing a section of the 200-year-old canal bed at Finsley Gate, between Manchester Road and Sandholme Aqueduct.
With the silt removed and the water then drained full investigations showed that the existing towpath was unstable and needed to be rebuilt. The canal wall was also in a worse condition than expected and also required extensive repairs to make it safe. Contractors are now completing the re-lining of the canal bed and repairing the canal wall.
The project is costing over £1.7 million and the work is expected to be completed by 18 June 2019.
Daniel Greenhalgh, regional director, said: “This project has been really challenging for us to repair the 18th century canal bed and embankment. The access to the site has been really restricted and once the canal was out of water, we have discovered lots of problems with the amount of silt at the bottom of the canal and the walls were in worse condition so we’ve needed to repair them.
“We know that being by water is good for your mental and physical health which is why we’re working around the clock to try and get the canal re-opened as quickly as possible. Once we’re finished local people can once again enjoy this beautiful canal for walking, cycling, boating, fishing, canoeing and paddle boarding.”
Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering 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:
- You are invited to enjoy an exciting cruise across the Pennine hills exploring the Huddersfield Narrow Canal this summer (22 June – 1 July). Organised by the Huddersfield Canal Society and us, it’s the second Pennine Explorer Cruise and is aimed at those that have not navigated the Huddersfield Narrow Canal before, providing extra peace of mind and support for first timers to the northern waterway. Places are limited by the capacity of Standedge Tunnel, so early expressions of interest are essential. Drop a line to Huddersfield Canal Society at email@example.com in the first instance if you’re interested.
- I hope you enjoyed the warm and sunny start to this week? When such days are a distant memory we carry out some of the bigger repair and restoration jobs that need doing. We've recently uploaded our plans for the 2019/20 winter - we’d love to hear what you think of them (and the new front end of our stoppage notices system!).
- Talking of stoppages you may also have noticed a change in the way they’re displayed on website. Following feedback from you, and with the help of a working group, we’ve made it easier than ever to find out if there’s any work taking place on the route of any cruise you’ve got planned. You can use a map or a streamlined drop down list to find the bit of the network you’re interested in. After using the new system, it’d be great to hear what you think!
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.
Below you’ll find, by canal or river, those that may affect your plans this weekend:
- Bow Back Rivers
- Calder & Hebble Navigation
- Grand Union Canal
- Lancaster Canal
- Leeds & Liverpool Canal
- Lee Navigation
- Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal
- Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
- Peak Forest Canal
- Stainforth & Keadby Canal
- Tees Navigation
- Weaver Navigation
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.
- As many will know the Waterways Chaplaincy are out and about on the towpath offering support to those who might need it. As with any unexpected visitor to your door (or porthole!) it’s always good to verify the identity of the visitor. For the Waterways Chaplaincy this can be done via the photos on its website.
Last date edited: 20 May 2019
About this blog
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 as important safety announcements and upcoming events.See more blogs from this author