Boaters' Update 28 Jan 2022

Welcome to the second edition of the year. Read on to find out about the return of Crick Boat Show (and what it offers), what work we've been doing for boaters out on the cut and how you can benefit from volunteering with us. All this alongside the usual news roundup and this weekend's stoppages.

Ellesmere Visitor Mooring - 2

Welcome to the latest edition. We’ve almost cleared the first month of the year and it appears that, with the relaxation of some rules, the experts think we’re through the worst of the Omicron wave. Hopefully this trend will continue and we can all look forward to a full year of boating which, as described in the first article, is set to include the boating bonanza that is Crick Boat Show.

Read on for an update on the work we’ve been doing in our winter programme of repairs and how, via our Open Days, you can come and see what we’re doing. Finally, find out how you can join our team this year, which we’d love, in a variety of volunteering roles.

As always, read on for a round-up of news and, in the bits and bobs section, an interesting correction about boat lifts, news of the next disabled boaters’ forum and a call out for your help in spring cleaning our online map.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up

Recently you may have seen that:

  • Dec – Just before Christmas and together with the Poetry Society, we were delighted to announce the appointment of Britain’s new Canal Laureate: Roy McFarlane.
  • 12 Jan – We’re inviting people to have their say on proposals to upgrade Hartshill Reservoir.

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Crick Boat Show is back!

Ok, so there was a scaled back version of the show last August but this year Crick Boat Show is back in all its glory and returning to its traditional late spring slot.

Richard Parry at Crick Boat Show 2018The event, which takes place at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, will be held across the Bank Holiday Weekend celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (3-5 June 2022), with an extra Trade & Preview Day on Thursday 2 June. Advance tickets are now on sale, saving up to 15 per cent on the entry price. 

Those who’ve been before will attest that it’s Britain’s biggest inland waterways event.  The Show is organised by Waterways World in association with the Canal & River Trust and Crick Marina, and is expected to attract over 26,000 visitors.

As well as being the canal world’s biggest marketplace, showcasing the inland waterways industry with nearly 300 exhibitors, Crick Boat Show offers a fantastic day out with dozens of boats to view, free boat trips, free advice seminars on boat ownership, live music, children’s activities, a real ale marquee, and a large variety of food and drink stalls.

Peter Johns, publisher of Waterways World and show director, says: “We are looking forward to welcoming people to our 2022 Crick Boat Show, back to full strength after the difficult last two years for live events – with some new features to be announced shortly!  Crick Boat Show is firmly established as the top destination for waterways enthusiasts looking to buy a new boat, upgrade or improve their existing boat, for newcomers wanting to get afloat for the first time and for those seeking a day out by the water.

Crick Boat Show 2018“Now in its 23rd year, the Show hosts the largest display of new inland boats, both narrowboats and wide beams, and for three days it becomes Britain’s largest chandlery when almost 300 exhibitors bring together the complete range of equipment and materials for inland boating.

“Our extra ‘Trade & Preview Day’ on Thursday 2 June offers a maximum of 1,000 pre-booked visitors the opportunity to talk in-depth with companies offering equipment and services for inland boating and to see the boats before everyone else.”

For Friday 3, Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 June, adult tickets are £18.00 on the gate, £15.30 if purchased in advance.  Entry for children aged 16 and under is free on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Three-day adult tickets are £40.00 on the gate, £34.00 in advance. 

Tickets for the Trade & Preview Day on Thursday 2 June are only available in advance (from February) and are priced at £25.00 each.  Preview Day visitors will have access to an exclusive online booking system for boat viewings as well as receiving a gift bag and complementary hot drink.

If you plan on making a weekend of it, camping pitch prices start at £45.00 for one night for a 6m x 6m pitch for a tent and car.  Mooring costs start at £1.50 per foot.

Visit the website for more information and to book tickets, camping pitches and moorings, or call 01283 742970, Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Crick Boat ShowMatthew Symonds, national boating manager for the Trust, adds: “Crick Boat Show, the UK’s biggest inland waterways festival, celebrates Britain’s fantastic network of canals and rivers.  This year we will be celebrating the Canal & River Trust’s 10th anniversary, looking back at what the charity, alongside our volunteers, boaters and partners, have achieved.”

Fancy a chance to get your tickets and mooring/camping pitch for free? Well, all you need to do is guess the name of either of the original artists who this year’s headline acts are covering. Both are tribute acts to two internationally acclaimed music artists and all you need to do is send in the correct name of either of the original artists. Enter the competition on the show’s website.

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Work continues to prepare waterway network for year of boating

As a regular reader you’ll know that we spend the cold, dark and damp months of winter working through a comprehensive programme of ‘big’ maintenance and repair jobs. In spite of the Omicron outbreak, where record numbers in the country were testing positive and having to isolate, we remain largely on track.

picture of a filled lockedAs part of this, we've now started works to replace two giant sets of lock gates at Newark Town Lock. Costing more than £330,000, and due to last until mid-March, we will be installing temporary dams so we can drain the lock to enable us to lift the new gates safely into position. 

Rufford Lock Leeds & Liverpool gantryThe gates have been hand-crafted using traditional methods in our specialist workshops at Stanley Ferry in Yorkshire. A single lock gate can take up to 20 days to make and has a working life of between 25 and 30 years. In order to be watertight they need to be built with precision, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.

Rufford Lock Leeds & LiverpoolIt would be a lot easier if every lock was the same, and all had easy access. But just as every lock gate is unique, the means of lifting out old and replacing with new, needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. At Lock 2 on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, for example, we had to set up a gantry over the lock to help with this. As you can see in the photos, extensive preparatory work needs to done before we can start work. 

Lock 57 Hassel Green Trent & Mersey repairedAs you’ll know, it’s not just the gates that matter on a lock. Spalling brickwork – where the constant penetration of moisture results in the brick cracking – was replaced on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Lock 57 (Hassel Green). 

Similar work, along with ladder and gate repairs, were completed ahead of schedule on the Shropshire Union Canal at Greenfield’s Lock. The photo below right also, again, demonstrates just how much ‘setting up work’ necessarily accompanies most jobs done in or around Greenfield's Lock Shropshire Unionlocks. 

Come and see the work

As mentioned in the introduction though, why not supplement these written updates with a visit to one of our Open Days? The first project mentioned in this article, at Newark Town Lock, is one of them, on 26 and 27 February, giving you a behind the scenes tour of the project. You’ll be able to step down into the drained lock on specially installed walkways to get a close up view of the works and speak to our skilled teams. There’ll also be family friendly activities available in the lock-side garden, and an opportunity to visit the town’s dry dock, the largest inland dry dock in the UK.

A large black steel structure straddles the canal, for lifting boats from one level to anotherIf Newark isn’t in your neck of the woods then you might want to pop along, on the same weekend, to the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ aka Anderton Boat Lift. There you’ll see the ongoing works and be able to learn more about the planned refurbishment – the biggest since its restoration 20 years ago.

In fact, wherever you are in the country, there’s a chance you’ll be near an Open Day with others occurring on the Llangollen Canal at Grindley Brook, on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Seend, on the Hertford Staffordshire & Worcestershire CanalUnion Canal in Victoria Park and on the Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge – regardless of location we’d love to see you and share details of the expert work our teams are doing for boaters.

We’ve even got those unable to travel to one of our ‘in person’ Open Days covered. There are a series of virtual Open Days on our website, including at Ryders Green on the Walsall Canal and at Mamhilad on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.

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Our appeal for volunteers in 2022

From lock keeping to wildlife conservation, research shows volunteering by water comes with extra health benefits. Many of you will have first-hand experience of this as boaters have long been amongst those raisingtheir hand to help look after the nation’s canals and rivers.

Why you should join the team

Gill, volunteer lock keeperFrom the iconic lock keeper to wildlife conservationists, boat crew and towpath rangers, we have a wide variety of volunteer roles designed to protect the world’s finest network of industrial heritage.

Many of the roles are outside and you’ll be able to meet many fellow boaters and towpath visitors protecting and preserving the waterways and helping to tackle the biodiversity crisis in our towns and cities. They are perfect for those who like being amongst nature, enjoy meeting new people and who want to give something back .

Last year research showed that people who volunteer by water for the Trust report being happier, feeling more worthwhile and feeling less anxious than those who volunteer elsewhere or who don’t volunteer at all.

Green spaces on your doorstep

Christine Mellor, our head of volunteering, comments: “In recent years it has been shown by many organisations that volunteering can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing and improve life satisfaction. And whilst all community volunteering is good for you, volunteering by water with us is particularly good for a healthy mind and body.

Volunteering on the Rochdale Canal“With an exciting year ahead of us, we are on the look-out for people to join the team in a wide variety of roles from lock keeping, crewing boats, helping with urgent wildlife conservation, self-organised citizen science programmes and even going into schools to teach children about our wonderful canal heritage and staying safe by water.

“These past months, we’ve seen local canals become a back garden for the everyone. Millions of people have joined boaters in discovering these special green spaces on their doorsteps. Whether you are looking to boost your wellbeing, get fit and active, or just make a new year’s resolution to give something back; join the thousands of people already benefitting from volunteering by water and #ActNowForCanals.”

So, if you want to be happier, improve your wellbeing and become less anxious then check out the roles you might want to fulfil.

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work 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 what may affect you if you’re planning to get out on your boat this weekend. Please note that we’ve now entered our winter works programme where you’ll see us doing some of the bigger jobs around the network:

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. You can set up your smartphone to automatically alert you if a notice is issued for a canal or river that you’re interested in. Check out this guide to setting it up.

If you have any questions about a specific closure, or spot an error in our system, please just get in touch.

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Bits & bobs

  • First, a correction. In the last edition I referred to Anderton Boat Lift as the first in the country. It wasn’t. One reader politely informed me that two earlier boat lifts existed. I quote ‘Built in 1875 it was easily preceded by boat lifts at Tardebigge Top Lock (1808) and just by the Grand Western Canal (1839)!’.
  • The next Disabled Boater Forum will be held on 16 Feb, between 4pm and 6pm. Follow this link to register your interest.
  • Finally, and I appreciate that we’re a good seven or so weeks from the actual season, but can you help us spring clean our online map? In particular we want the information about crucial customer service facilities (things like water points, elsans, recycling etc.) to be as up to date as possible – not all of them are operated by us so, sometimes, changes happen that we’re not aware of. So, if you’re out on a cruise, or a towpath walk, and come across something that should, or shouldn’t be, on our online map then please do let us know via this map correction reporting tool.

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Stay safe, happy boating,

Damian

Last date edited: 28 January 2022

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The boaters' update

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