We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

News article created on 26 May 2017

London Boating Bulletin: May 2017

Has all of this sunshine got you thinking about winter stoppages?! Well ... our bulletin has the latest on this and pre-booking visitor moorings at Rembrandt Gardens to April 2018. But we're also looking at summer festivals in Bishop's Stortford, Ware and East London ... and gearing up for Boat Safety Week.

Carpenters Road Lock, courtesy of Debbie Humphry

Massive lock gates installed in £1.8million waterway restoration in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

A project to restore the historic Carpenters Road Lock in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has reached a pivotal stage with the installation of two giant new lock gates.

The work is being carried out by us and is one of the final pieces of a ten-year programme to restore the Bow Back Rivers and includes £680,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £100,000 from the London Legacy Development Corporation and £4,500 from the Inland Waterways Association.

The new gates, which weigh over 14 tonnes each – heavier than a London bus – have been carefully swung into position using a 350-tonne crane.

They are the only ‘double radial lock gates’ - two convex-shaped gates swing up vertically to enable boats to pass through - anywhere in the country and will provide the opportunity to navigate from the waterways around the London Stadium to Waterworks River, which in turn runs south, eventually out to the River Thames. They will also ensure that the lock plays an important role in flood prevention, with the gates being automated to enable flood water to be distributed to channels within the Bow Back Rivers.

To celebrate the restoration, alongside our partners, we are planning a range of community events and activities, including an East London Waterways Festival on 28 August, so people can learn about the history of the lock and rivers. The event will include free boat trips, water sports activities and a film screening with Nomad Cinema.

2017 national boat count shows licence evasion down

Our annual national boat count shows that licence evasion on the waterways has reduced by 0.7% overall in the past year to 3.7%, with 96.3% of boats holding up-to-date licences. This is the eighth year the rate has stayed below 5%.

The survey, completed in March, identifies boats on waterways across England & Wales and provides a comprehensive snap-shot of licence evasion. The information is used to support our day-to-day work.

Jon Horsfall, our interim head of boating, said: "Boaters’ licence fees contribute in helping us to carry out the huge task of keeping our canals and rivers open. It’s important that everyone plays their part and we are delighted that the evasion rate has reduced again this year. Our boat licence customer support team has done a fantastic job working with boaters to make sure they are licensed correctly.

"Unfortunately, a small minority continue to enjoy the benefits of boating on the waterways without putting anything back to fund their upkeep. In 2016/17 we had to remove 101 boats from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions. There’s also an important safety aspect: if a boat isn’t licensed we can’t know that it’s safe, which could be a risk for both the boat owner and other boaters."

The national boat count also paints a picture of the changing numbers of boats across the country. Our waterways in London have seen an increase of 339 boats – an increase of over 9% – with numbers in the central East, the South West and the South East regions also rising.  Boat numbers in the North, North Wales and Midlands have seen a slight drop.

Boat Safety Week 29 May to 4 June

During the national Fire Kills Campaign’s Boat Fire Safety Week, firefighters, Trust staff and representatives from the Boat Safety Scheme will be taking the message to boaters – "No more fire and carbon monoxide (CO) deaths".

We will be taking Jena and a fire brigade RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) from Park Royal to Little Venice with leaflets and free alarms. Timed for the start of the boating season, the message is that all crew members should understand the risks and follow the published advice from the Boat Safety Scheme.

Boat Safety Scheme manager, Graham Watts said: “In the past 20 years, 30 boaters were killed in boat fires and another 30 lost their lives to the highly toxic CO gas. It’s time everyone in the boating community said ‘no more’ – let’s end this unnecessary death and destruction.”

Limehouse Basin Visitor Moorings

BWML Ltd, who manage the Limehouse Marina, are proposing changes to the visitor moorings there to enable a range of different boats to use them. This involves new pontoons along the Basin wall providing better disabled access to visiting boats, as well as providing the capacity for visiting sailing boats coming in off the Thames. The current length of free 24 hour moorings will be retained, with additional space for those wanting to stay for more than 24 hours while they visit London. Before submitting a planning application for the physical changes, BWML is working with the Trust to test the impact this might have on navigation, turning within the basin and access to the public boater facilities. From 1 June for a month, we will be floating five yellow buoys with a line between them to mark the extent of the proposed new pontoons. Please observe local signage and be aware of the waterspace restrictions. If you have any feedback on the impact on navigation, please get in touch.

Help out at a Towpath Taskforce

Come and join us at Towpath Taskforce this month, it’s a great way to enjoy the sunshine and help make London’s canals even more fantastic!  No experience or booking necessary, just a willingness to get stuck in and get dirty!  Follow the links below for more information.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday 3 June, 10am-3.30pm – pothole repairs on the River Lee near Clapton.  Meet on the towpath at Lee Rowing Club on Spring Hill, E5 9BL.  Nearest station Clapton.

Saturday 3 June, 10am-3.30pm – fencing, jet washing, vegetation cutback and litter on the Grand Union Paddington Arm at Southall.  Meet us on the towpath opposite the Hambrough Tavern, on Bankside, UB1 1NH.  Nearest station Southall.

Tuesday 6 June, 10am – 3.30pm – graffiti removal, vegetation cutback and litter on the Regent’s Canal at Treaty Street, Kings Cross.  Meet us in Treaty Street Gardens, where Treaty Street meets the Regent’s Canal, N1 0TE.  Nearest station Kings Cross St Pancras.

Wednesday 7 June, 10am – 3.30pm – grapple hooking, litter and vegetation tidy at Little Venice.  Meet us on the towpath outside the Canal & River Trust office, under Westbourne Terrace Road Bridge, W2 6ND.  Nearest station Warwick Avenue or Paddington. 

Thursday 8 June, 10am – 3.30pm – painting, litter and vegetation cutback at Bow Lock on the River Lee.  Meet us by Bow Lock, nearest access from Three Mill Lane, E3 3JY.  Nearest station Bromley-by-Bow.

Thursday 8 June, 10am – 3.30pm – vegetation cutback, painting and litter at Bishops Stortford on the River Stort.  Meet us on the opposite side of the river to The Port Jackson pub, CM23 3BX.

Saturday 17 June, 10am – 3.30pm – lock painting at Ponders End on the River Lee.  Meet us by Ponders End Lock, off Wharf Road, EN3 4XX.  Nearest station Ponders End.

Art on the waterways

It’s no secret that London’s waterways have been inspiring artists for generations. We recently caught up with Tom Jones-Berney. With his sister Jess they form the design duo known as Tomartacus. With Jess taking photographs of the pairs’ favourite spots in London, Tom sketches them using a Wacom tablet, resulting in a unique brand of hand drawn digital prints. We spoke to Tom.

Are you from East London?

“Jess has lived in Hackney for the last seven years and I flit between here and Nottingham. We mainly create London art because it’s an unendingly interesting city, where inspiration is infinite. The contrast of the modern world up against the city’s big historical stalwarts creates incredible panoramas; the city from Archway Bridge, the silhouette of St Paul’s holding its own alongside newer contenders like The Barbican and The Shard are a few examples. We like to think our art is a bit of fun for the eyes, a slightly wobbly look at the world, with some added colour if you would want it.”

What is it about the canals in London that attracts you?

“We love how they snake through the different boroughs connecting up some of our favourite spots in East London: Broadway Market, Victoria Park, Hackney Wick and Limehouse Basin. The waterways here are ever-changing as new boats moor up bringing pops of colour along with them. The Bethnal Green Gasworks have been a huge influence, the more you look at and observe these vast rusty behemoths the more colour and life you notice emanating from them. They also seem to conjure up lovely memories when people see them in our work.”

Are there any painters you find inspiring? Whose paintings of waterways do you admire?

“I love the way David Hockney captures the movement of water. I’m mainly influenced by my Spotify playlists and tea. Irrational fears. Funny stuff. Inspirational quotes. David Lynch. Nick Cave. Anything ridiculously colourful.”

If you’ve found inspiration from the waterway and want to share your work, please send us an email.

Rembrandt Gardens: pre-book your moorings to April 2018

Pre-bookable moorings at Rembrandt Gardens have proven very popular. On Thursday 1 June we’ll be releasing winter 2017 and spring 2018 dates for everyone to book. 

Winter works

Yes, it’s May but we need to start thinking about Winter Works. It’s never too early to familiarise yourself with the essential repairs and maintenance we undertake when the waterways are quieter. Some of this work will close waterways and/or towpaths. 

Current planning includes closures at:

Grand Union

  • Lock 94 (Hanwell Flight) in November
  • Osterley Lock (Lock 98) in March

Lee Navigation

  • Bridge 22a (Tottenham) in November and January
  • Hardmead Lock (Lock 3) in November and December
  • Aqueduct Lock (Lock 8) in March
  • Enfield Lock (Lock 13) in January and February
  • Night closures above Old Ford Lock (Lock 19) in January and March

River Stort

  • Bridge 33A (Sawbridgeworth) in February

Regent’s Canal

  • Actons Lock (Lock 7) in January
  • Commercial Road (Lock 12) in February

Comments are welcome until Friday 16 June and will then be reviewed by the Trust before publishing a revised plan. Everyone will then have a further chance to comment before the finalised plans are published at the end of the summer.

New Waterside Mooring sites opening soon!

The Waterside Mooring team have created three new leisure mooring sites bringing 14 new berths to the waterways. The three sites, Bow Wharf, Burdett Road and Matchmakers Wharf, each offer offside moorings with gated access. Electricity and water are available on site and all sites are well located with great transport links close by.

The berths will be allocated via the auction system so if you're interested in securing a berth please add the sites to your watch list to ensure you are notified when the auctions go live.

Growing Afloat! event on 2 June

We’re hosting an evening of advice and information for budding waterway gardeners as part of our Boats in Bloom awards, and to coincide with the Chelsea Fringe Festival.

  • Hear from experienced gardeners with hints and advice about gardening in small spaces
  • Have your horticultural questions answered by our gardening panel
  • Find out how you can be a greener gardener and encourage wildlife

Boat in Bloom

Following Growing Afloat! there will be a talk from The London Essence Company, which produces a range of mixers inspired by natural flavours. The talk will discuss flavour combinations and you’ll have the opportunity to sample the drinks. Book now!

Further changes at Enquiries London

The good news is that Sam Barham – whose departure we announced in last month’s bulletin – is back! She realised that leaving the canals was a horrible mistake. But the sad news is that David Ireland is leaving for a new opportunity. He has been a huge asset to the London Waterway team and you’ll agree that we’re going to miss him terribly. But we’re busy recruiting and will have details of the new manager of your Enquiries London team in our next issue.

Stonebridge Edible Garden

We need volunteers to help us install and plant an edible community garden thanks to Tesco’s plastic bag cash. The patch of grass next to Stonebridge Lock café on the River Lee needs transforming into an edible garden, after in store public voting triggered a £12,000 donation. The garden project is led by the Trust, Action For Kids and the Friends of Tottenham Marshes with support from Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and the Waterside Café.

Drop in sessions from 11am to 2.30pm:

  • Wednesday – Design and Dig: Help design themes for the totem sculptures. Prepare the soil and install the garden planters
  • Thursday – Paint and donate: Paint the pots, timber boxes and planters. Why not bring your own plants to donate?
  • Friday – Plant: Everything in its new place!

To find out more, call Sandile on 07484 534 498. All tools and equipment provided. Drinks and refreshments for volunteers also provided. Children under 16 years old need to be accompanied by an adult.

Locks 90 and 91 on the Hanwell Flight closed on 12 June

We’ll be doing a laser survey of the lock walls at Lock 90 on the Hanwell Flight in the morning of 12 June. The navigation will be closed. Remember to sign up to receive all our notices by email.

Bishop’s Stortford Carnival Cruise

Jena will be one of the boats navigating up to the Bishop’s Stortford Carnival on 17 June. Make sure you come along for live music, stalls, arena displays and a fun fair!

Ware Festival

Ware Boat Festival, on the River Lee in Ware, promises to be another fabulous weekend. This year's theme is "Flower Power"! Arrive on Friday 30 June for the welcome barbecue and quiz night. Step aboard Jena on Saturday 1 July and Sunday 2 July to meet the Trust team and hear more about what we’re up to.

About this blog

London Boating Bulletin

Sorwar Ahmed is Waterway Boating 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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