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News article created on 11 December 2015

London Boating Bulletin: December

Find out more about London's new towpath ranger, mooring at Rembrandt Gardens, winter stay times, repairs, open days, James Bond and more.

London Boating Bulletin

Darren Starling (left main image) has joined the Trust as the new London towpath ranger. A boater all his life, Darren has plenty of experience of life along the towpaths. “Joining the team is a dream come true,” said Darren, “I’ve met many of the volunteer towpath rangers already and I’m looking forward to working with them on encouraging all towpath users to look out for each other.”

Dick Vincent (right main image) is now working as the national towpath ranger and estending the Trust's “share the space, drop your pace” message to the rest of the country. “It’s been great introducing Darren to the role,” said Dick.

Find out more about our national campaign

Book a mooring at Rembrandt Gardens

Have you thought about booking a mooring in central London? There are two moorings in the Pool at Little Venice that can be booked in advance. Changeover days are on Tuesdays and Fridays, the maximum stay is a week in any month. To ensure everyone has a chance, you are limited to 14 days within any 12 month period.

Bookings are made via email to enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk, and are taken one calendar month in advance. For example, bookings for all dates in March are taken from the first of February. January dates are available now!

When making a booking, please make sure your email includes:

  • your name
  • your address
  • a contact telephone number
  • your boat’s name
  • your boat’s index number
  • the dimensions of your boat (length and width)
  • your booking will be confirmed by email.

These moorings are free! By booking you agree to abide by the terms and conditions, a copy of which will be provided to you to confirm your booking and can be provided in advance on request.

More information about mooring at Rembrandt Gardens

Winter stay times on Visitor Moorings in London

You may have heard that the Trust’s new Short Term Moorings Framework recommends that stay times on visitor moorings should relax to 14 days over the winter, unless there is a clear safety need or customer need.

This is designed to relax rules where there is little demand for short stay moorings over the winter. In London there is a consistently high demand for mooring space, especially at visitor moorings, many of which are already designated as 14 day stay.

For this reason, we don’t propose to relax stay times on visitor moorings in the most popular places in London. Thankfully, there is lots of mooring space along our towpaths, not just at visitor moorings, so those needing to moor for up to 14 days will still have lots of choice.

The visitor moorings where we won’t be relaxing stay times this winter are:

  • All those on the Regent’s Canal
  • Paddington Basin and Little Venice on the GU Paddington Arm
  • All 4hr/24hr/48hr moorings

These will have signs indicating that the stay time applies all year. Stay times on all other visitor moorings will be relaxed to 14 days.

As many people are unaware of the approach we have taken in London, this will apply from 6 January 2016. Until then, we will be relaxing stay times to 14 days.

Winter mooring etiquette

If you haven’t bought a winter mooring permit this year, remember that you can moor on any winter mooring site temporarily if there is space. You can stay for up to 14 days if there is space, but bear in mind that you will need to move off straight away if a permit holder arrives and needs to moor. Spaces sometimes appear when permit holders go to fill up with water or empty their toilets, so don’t assume it’s there for the taking as you may be faced with the hassle of having to move again quite soon!

We recommend avoiding winter mooring sites if you don’t have a permit, as it saves lots of inconvenience for everyone concerned. There are still spaces at most of our sites in the London waterway region, so if you’d like to take up a permit as the colder weather arrives please visit our website for information about how to sign up. Our moorings website has an interactive map showing availability, so you will have a wide choice of locations on either the Upper Lee or Stort, and the Grand Union. Kensal Green has proved very popular, so is already completely sold out, unfortunately. This is one place to avoid if you don’t have a permit already!

Multi-tonne lock gates craned out of River Stort for repairs

As we reported in the last issue, a project has begun to remove and repair the four massive lock gates at Latton Lock on the River Stort. Approximately 20 years old, the gates will now be refurbished to ensure they don’t allow leaks, having suffered wear and tear over the past two decades. The gates each weigh between 2.8 and 3.5 tonnes, with the project costing approximately £180,000. Work is due to be completed by the end of November.

This winter the Canal & River Trust will be working on around 164 lock gates across the country, as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels. Over £45million is being spent. Graham Smith, Canal & River Trust supervisor, said: “We’re really pleased to be getting these gates repaired. They’ve suffered over the years of being constantly opened and closed, so we need to get them out of the water and make some repairs. The Stort is a beautiful waterway, and this is a great example of the type of work that needs to be done to keep it in top condition so that everyone can continue to enjoy it.”

For more on the winter stoppages in London, please see below.

The Autumn Waterway Forum

On 14 October, 60 people came to the London Canal Museum for the latest in our series of Waterway Forums. It was a packed agenda, with plenty of time for people to ask questions. Highlights included:

  • Simon Cadek presented on the latest from the Enforcement Team in London and asked a couple of questions about boats on a continuous cruiser licence and how the Trust could best communicate their efforts.
  • Adam Comerford, the national hydrology manager, gave an interesting introduction to the water management challenges and the Canal & River Trust’s Water Resources Strategy that’s taking a long-term look at future challenges.
  • Steven Wilding provided an update on access to the Bow Back Rivers and the waterways around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  • There was an introduction to Jeannette Brooks, the new development and engagement manager for the waterway in London.

We’re really grateful to all who came along and hope it was interesting. If you have any ideas of what you’d like to hear about at future events, please let us know by emailing enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk.

Read the Q&A and meeting slides

Winter Works Open Day at Kentish Town Lock – 23 and 24 January 

Each year, as part of our winter works, we hold open days to allow visitors to have an up close look at our canal and to enter a drained lock chamber or canal itself to get a unique perspective on these amazing structures.  This year the London Open Day will be held at Kentish Town Lock in Camden on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January. Seeing a lock from inside is a real treat and as most gates are changed every 25 years, you’ll be waiting a long time to get the opportunity again!  

More event information here

Talking boater facilities with the NBTA

After a series of productive discussions about bringing the Victoria Park visitor mooring toilet facilities back into use, the National Barge Travellers Association (London Branch) invited  Sam Thomas (Customer Operatons Manager) and Sorwar Ahmed (Boater Liaison Manager) to a public meeting with boaters to discuss facilities and moorings provision.

Over 30 boaters attended the meeting in Dalston, where Sam and Sorwar heard boaters’ feedback and described the Trust’s investment in facilities and moorings over the past couple of years, as well as our plans for the future. There was a positive discussion about how underused spaces, dry docks and moorings – some of which are outside the Trust’s control - could be used to provide much needed facilities or animate underused parts of the waterway network.

It was agreed that by working together with boaters, it might be possible to bring some of these projects forward. The event was a great way to hear feedback and share ideas, so it was agreed that more would be organised to keep the dialogue going. Many thanks to Helen Brice and and NBTA(L) for arranging the get together, and to the Save the Date Café for their hospitality.

Bond on a boat

Bond on a boat

If you’ve seen the new Bond film, Spectre, then perhaps you identified the Regent’s Canal! Dead Dog Basin at Camden featured as the Thames-side entrance to Q’s underground workshop.  Cassie Clarke who handles filming on our canals has more details here.

Inland Waterways Association 2017 Calendar Competition

There’s still time to enter the IWA’s 2017 calendar competition. Prizes include copies of the calendar itself plus a complete set of Nicolson’s Guides for the overall winner. As with last year they are looking for waterway scenes from any season, not just summer, so a good excuse to take your camera out on your local waterway over the Christmas break. 

The closing date for entries is 31 January 2016. For more information please see the IWA website.

Electrofishing stuns the Regent's Canal

A major operation on the Regent’s Canal in East London has rehomed hundreds of fish as millions of litres of water were drained during vital repair work to 1km of canal wall.

More than 800lbs of fish including roach, perch and bream were collected. We also recovered 11 carp weighing between 20-27lbs and 67 endangered European eels. 

The eels, along with hundreds of fish, were relocated from the canal near Mile End because of our two-month project to repair holes in the historic canal walls.

Fish experts were drafted in to carry out the operation, known as ‘electrofishing’. The process involves using a harmless low electrical current to temporarily immobilise the fish. They are then scooped up, transferred to large containers filled with fresh water and moved to safety on a nearby unaffected stretch of canal.

Kings Cross and Islington moorings update

After the end of the consultation period for the Kings Cross visitor mooring proposals, we held a public meeting on 22 October 2015 to enable people to express their views to us in person and to hear more about our thinking behind the proposals. We also wanted to hear feedback on how the Islington Visitor Mooring management plan had been working, and to discuss proposals for the future. At least 40 people attended the meeting, including boaters (both continuous cruisers and those with home moorings), local residents, boating organisations and Islington Council.

Kings Cross Visitor Mooring Trial

The meeting was independently facilitated to give everyone a chance to have their say and to hear the viewpoints of others. By the end of the meeting there was a sense that by acknowledging the needs of everyone who uses the canal in this popular location, solutions could be found that engaged residents and boaters in looking after the area together. There was a strong onus on the Trust to look at the feedback and amend the proposals to reflect more closely the views of users and residents. Residents from the Islington Visitor Mooring had also consulted local people and identified some measures that could help address the impacts of mooring.

The Trust has been considering the feedback from the consultation and public meeting, and aims to publish revised proposals for the Kings Cross Visitor Mooring and the Islington Visitor Mooring management plan review in the New Year.

Volunteering update: January Towpath Taskforce events

Join us at Towpath Taskforce to help blow away those winter cobwebs and work off some of that Christmas cheer!  All tools, equipment and instruction will be supplied, please wear old clothes and hard-soled footwear and if the weather forecast is looking wet, don’t forget the waterproofs!

  • Saturday 16 January, 10am – 3.30pm – Continuing the buddleia and litter blitz on the Limehouse Cut between Bow and Limehouse.  Meet us by Bow Locks (a few minutes walk south from Three Mill Lane bridge), E3 3JY.  Nearest station Bromley by Bow.
  • Tuesday 19 January, 10am – 3.30pm – Graffiti busting and towpath clean up on the Grand Union at Hayes.  Meet us by bridge 198 (Woolpack Bridge/Dawley Road), UB3 1EJ.  Nearest station Hayes & Harlington.
  • Thursday 21 January, 10am – 3.30pm – Towpath litter pick on the River Lee from Rye House to Dobb’s Weir.  Meet us by Rye House Bridge (bridge 58), EN11 0GR.  Nearest station Rye House.
  • Saturday 6 February, 10am – 3.30pm – Graffiti busting and towpath clean up on the Grand Union Paddington Arm at Kensal Green.  Meet us on the towpath behind Sainsbury’s Ladbroke Grove, W10 5AA.  Nearest station Kensal Green.

Mooring opposite High Line in Northolt?

On the Paddington Arm, many boaters choose to moor on the towpath opposite the High Line Boatyard in Northolt. It’s important to bear in mind that the verge here can be soft in places and mooring pins can easily work their way loose. Please make every effort to satisfy yourself that your boat won’t be bobbing away if you’re mooring in this area.

Top tips for winterising your boat

If you’re going to leave your boat unattended for any period of time you will need to take steps to protect it from the damaging effects of winter. Remember that boats should not be left for long periods without some form of inspection by the owner or a friend to check on the mooring and condition of the boat:

Consider moving any soft furnishings to a warm and dry environment.

Engine:

  • Change the oil and service according to the manufacturer's instructions before storage.
  • If you have a sealed water system, the strength of the engine antifreeze should be tested and topped up or discarded if less than fifty per cent.
  • Where no drain plug is available, disconnect a hose, drain the water from the system and leave disconnected.  Although this will not empty the system completely, it will allow for expansion should the water freeze and reduce the risk of ruptured pipes. It’s also worth insulating any accessible tight bends as this is where fluid will collect even after draining. Once you’re ready to start cruising again, reconnect any pipes, refill the system and open the seacock.
  • If the engine’s winterised or seacock’s closed, clearly mark the engine and its controls; it should prevent accidental operation.
  • It is a good idea to place an oily rag in the exhaust outlet and to cover the air inlet to the engine, this stops the air moving through the engine and causing corrosion of the valve gear.
  • Give the engine a good spray with WD-40 paying particular attention to the electrical components and wiring - this will keep the damp away and prevent bad connections in the spring.

Plumbing

  • Water pumps should be disconnected and run dry to remove any traces of water. Water tanks and calorifiers and pipe work should be emptied.
  • Leave the taps in the open position. It’s also a good idea to ensure the shower is drained and shower head removed, with the valves left open.
  • Batteries should be fully charged and ideally left on a float charge from a purpose built marine battery charger; if this is not possible then check their charge every month and top up when required. Ensure the electrolyte level is correct and battery terminals are free from corrosion.
  • If you are moored on the main line where there is a greater chance of craft passing by when the cut is frozen, you can drop planks of wood from ropes into the water to run alongside your hull. The planks will absorb some of the impact of the sheets of ice created when people start ice breaking to get to the water points.
  • Consider fitting an automatic bilge pump float switch. Moored boats can rock from side to side as a result of high winds or even the wake of passing boats and take on water. An automatic bilge pump float switch will give you peace of mind as you can be sure that small amounts of water will be removed from your bilge.
  • Grease the stern tube before leaving the boat, this will prevent water ingress.
  • Ventilation can be improved by use of wind socks, which are sold specifically for ventilating boats. These will deflect most of the winter weather and allow proper ventilation of the cabins.
  • Ensure boat mooring pins and ropes are secure, yet slack enough to deal with the normal rise or fall of water levels. In extreme weather or prolonged rainfall, visit the boat regularly to adjust mooring ropes and check bilge pumps and batteries are coping with the situation.
  • Spray terminals with a silicone-free lubricant and grease all available grease points on the engine and drive, plus electrical connectors. Also lubricate linkages and gear/throttle slides, this will prevent rusting/corrosion and give these components a longer life.
  • If not in use, store your generator in a gas-tight locker. The same regulations as Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) apply.
  • Even if you have a secure mooring it's a good idea to remove or put out of sight any alcohol, valuable and electrical items. Make sure you have decent locks and the right insurance policy. Also worth checking that all windows are firmly shut and any vents are closed.
  • Visit the boat regularly to turn over the engine and charge the batteries (beware of doing this if you’ve drained the cooling system). You should run the engine for at least 30 minutes until it reaches its normal operating temperature.
  • While you're there you should also pump out rainwater and clear cockpit drains and bilge pump suctions of leaves.

Inspection of the Islington Tunnel

The start of December saw engineers from the Canal & River Trust surveying the four million bricks that make up the Islington Tunnel and assessing any structural changes that have occurred to the tunnel, including checking for cracks and identifying any restoration work required.

London winter worksThe tunnel took four years to build, starting in 1814 before completion in 1818, with the vast majority of the original brick work remaining intact to this day. The last repairs took place in 2000.

Florence Salberter, Canal & River Trust heritage advisor, said: “Islington Tunnel is an amazing piece of London’s heritage. The bricks inside were handmade and put in place two centuries ago, given the technology available in those times it’s amazing to stop and think of how much was achieved. Today, going inside is like stepping back in time. The confined space means you’re travelling through this dark, quiet tunnel, even though you are right under the hustle and bustle of Islington.

“Because of the age of the tunnel, its location and depth, it’s important we give it an MOT. It’s obviously such a crucial part of the canal network in London – connecting the east end of the Regent’s to the west, and beyond that the Grand Union which continues up to Birmingham. The Regent’s Canal is arguably more popular than ever before and this is a good example of the type of work needed to keep it in top shape.”

Winter Works

Until 21 December, it won’t be possible to move between the east and west of the Trust’s London Waterways without using the River Thames. This is due to the works from Old Ford Lock down to Mile End on the Regent’s Canal, which have also closed the Hertford Union.

The works have been going very well. We have a team of up to 20 on site each day (including weekends) working hard to ensure all the works are completed within the stoppage window. We’re on schedule and both the Regent’s and Hertford Union will re-open to navigation as planned by the close of play on the 21 December. There will likely be some minor finishing works along the towpath after Christmas (mainly site tidying) but nothing that will cause any significant impact.London winter works

London winter worksLondon winter works

The next significant winter stoppage is on the Regent’s Canal at Lock 3 (Kentish Town Lock) where we’ll be replacing the lock gates. The lock will be closed from 4 January to 11 March. Boaters need to give early thought to whether they want to be on the east or the west of this stoppage and move in good time.

The Thames is an obvious route around these stoppages but when it comes to navigation, the tidal Thames is a very different river to the Lee or the Stort. The Port of London Authority states that “safe passage requires a sound knowledge of the effects of the tidal stream, including the resultant currents and variable depths which are not found on the (non-tidal) canal system”. If you need to move between east to west, you must make sure you’re familiar with the risks and please visit the PLA’s useful website.

Our other winter stoppages include:

The River Stort at Lock 9 (Latton Lock): We’ll be replacing the lock gates and so the lock will be closed from 2 November to 18 December.

Limehouse Lock: We’re making emergency repairs to the lock gate seals at Limehouse Lock and the lock will be closed from 8 February to 11 March.

Other stoppages and notices

Bridge 55, Dobbs Weir Lane Bridge, Lee Navigation: Essex County Council will be replacing Bridge 55, Dobbs Weir Lane Bridge. This will see night closures of the waterway and temporary closures during the day. A towpath diversion will be in place. Cyclists are asked to dismount. Please follow the signs. Works started on 20 July 2015 and will continue into 2016.

Bridge 33 (railway bridge) to Lock 4 (St Pancras Lock) on the Regent’s Canal: From 18 May 2015 and until early 2016, towpath works will mean that the towpath to the east of Bridge 33 and for approximately 70 metres will be replaced by a pontoon on the water. For safety reasons, we ask that there should be no running or cycling on the pontoon. Navigation should be with care and with particular attention to oncoming boats.

Lisson Grove Moorings, Regent’s Canal: A section of towpath through the Lisson Grove moorings requires urgent repair. Pedestrians are asked to follow the alternative route used by cyclists. Please follow the signs.

Towpath at the Old Barge Pub, Hertford, Lee Navigation: We're making repairs to 20 metres of waterway wall on the towpath side by the Old Barge Pub, 2 The Folly, Hertford, SG14 1QD. There will be short towpath diversion, please follow local signs. The navigation will remain open but we ask boaters to take care. These works are expected to last from 7 September to 14 November 2015.

East of Bridge 201 (Oval Road), Regent's Canal, Camden: On the offside of the Regent's Canal and to the east of Bridge 20A (Oval Road), scaffolding is being erected from the bottom of the canal. This will reduce the width of the navigation immediately before the bridge but all craft will be able to pass. We ask boaters to take care. The scaffolding is expected to be in place from 26 October 2015 to 4 January 2016.

Maida Hill Tunnel to Lisson Grove Bridge, Regent's Canal: There is no towpath through the Maida Hill Tunnel and pedestrians and cyclists use local roads and footpaths to rejoin the canal. Contractors from UK Power Networks and the National Grid have now closed the towpath between the eastern tunnel entrance and the next bridge (Bridge 2, Lisson Grove Bridge) while they make urgent repairs. This means that pedestrians and cyclists are asked to follow the signs and leave (or rejoin) the towpath a little earlier (or later) than would usually be the case. We are continuing to investigate opening this as soon as possible.

You can receive email notification of our notices by visiting our website. We also tweet our notices from @CRTLondon.

About this blog

London Boating Bulletin

Sorwar Ahmed is Boater Liaison Manager for the Canal & River Trust in London. He’s engaging communities and developing social enterprises to improve the waterways for everyone! Every month he gives a round-up of news and views, essential reading for boaters and anyone with an interest in London’s canals

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