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News article created on 20 November 2015

Boaters' Update

In this latest edition there's some important safety advice, news on how to vote in our Council elections, Crick's 2016 headlining acts and much, much more...

Anderton Boat Lift and surrounding area covered in snow Anderton Boat Lift in snow

Hopefully none of you suffered under the battering of Storm Barney earlier this week. But, as you read this, a blast of artic air is moving in. This weekend should see the first cold snap of the winter.

This probably doesn’t bother you because, as you know, most boats can be cosy and snug in the winter - a broad range of heating systems see to that. But, as our first article explains, it’s important to know how to heat your boat safely.

Talking of winter, don’t forget that our £45 million repair and restoration programme is underway (why not come along to one of our Open Days?). If you’re planning on a cruise please check our latest stoppage information to ensure your route isn’t subject to a 3.6 tonne lock gate being hoisted about by a crane!

Elsewhere in this edition you can read about:

If there’s something you’d like to share with the boating community via this update then please drop me a line.

Happy boating,

Damian

Last week, this week

Over the last week or so you may have heard, or seen, that:

Before the next edition is published you might like to take a look at some of the following:

  • 21 Nov to 24 Dec – With only five weeks until Christmas, Santa has started his rounds early this year when he arrived in Retford by boat. He was aboard the Seth Ellis, one of the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s trip boats. Feeling festive already? Then you too can join Santa on one of the Trust’s Santa Special Cruises.
  • 21 Nov – Less festive and definitely much harder work, at least for the participants, will be the Soar Head 2015 Boat Race.
  • 28 Nov – Pretty much in the centre of the country, so not far wherever you are, is our Lapworth Lock Flight open day in Warwickshire. Come along and see the works that are going on.
  • 28 Nov – If you have any interesting stories or items related to Samuel Oldknow, Mellor Mill Estate, Marple Aqueduct or the Lime Kilns then Marple is the place to be. Please come along to add your stories to the archive. While you’re there, catch a special screening of ‘The New Navvies’, a campaign film created by the Peak Forest Canal Society in Marple in 1965.

Of course, there are plenty of other activities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

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Cold and safe is better than dead cosy

Just over a week ago the Boat Safety Scheme issued a necessarily blunt Generator in cabinwarning about generators. Too often it’s finding that boaters are running generators aboard their boat – just look at some of the pictures on the right.

Of course, not everyone is doing it to power heaters but as winter starts to bite more might be tempted to do so. With these colder, darker months the temptation is to hunker down with the heater on and watch a film on the laptop Generator on Cruiser under coverusing the genny to provide the power.

But the blunt warning is, well, very blunt. With 10 boaters dead and another 10 badly injured, the risk is very real. The major hazards are fires and explosions, often from petrol leaks or fuel being mishandled and the other critical issue, in fact the main killer, is Carbon Monoxide (CO) – the silent killer – being pumped out with as a component of the exhaust fumes.

Generator running on deckThe genny doesn’t even need to be in the cabin. If you’ve got it on the external aft deck or even on the bank near one of your boat’s vents or windows then the fumes can steadily seep into your cabin.

Just earlier this week a boater was in touch with another CO-related horror story:

‘A young adult was pulled unconscious out of a boat this week by a fellow No generators on deck signboater. They were staying on a friend’s boat and not been shown how to use the burner. The chimney was blocked so the burner had no draw and wouldn't stay lit.

‘To keep it lit, the young person ran it with the door open and went to bed. The flue design wasn't suitable for a solid fuel stove. A hospital visit, positive test for CO and some oxygen meant no lasting damage was done but it could have been much worse.’

Make sure you stay safe (and warm) and follow the advice on the BSS website.

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Hartshill Yard – you can feel the past

Over the last couple editions you’ve read about the coffin shaped windows of the Roundhouse in Birmingham and the Doric porticos of Stanley Ferry aqueduct. This time Central Shires heritage advisor, Mark Clifford, regales us with the privy and pig sty of Hartshill Yard:

Hartshill Yard in the 1960s‘Back in the canal boom, and as a working commercial enterprise, routine maintenance of a canal and its equipment was vital. Most canal companies owned a maintenance yard, a group of specialised buildings where materials were stored, work boats serviced, repairs carried out and new items made. 

‘Hartshill Yard sits on the 1790s Coventry Canal which links the Trent & Mersey with the City of Coventry and on to the Oxford Canal. It is likely the original yard was built around 1800, however, much of the current structure dates from the 1840s with unconfirmed rumours that a fire destroyed the original in 1841.

‘Most yards were either square (such as Hartshill), linear or ‘off-line’ (situated on a short arm off the main line). Designed for security with gated walls and inward looking buildings, this often gave them a sense of enclosure which is evident at Hartshill. Many of the buildings at Hartshill also feature curved walls allowing ease of passage for heavy wagons.

‘One of the most important buildings in any maintenance yard was the blacksmith's shop. Here cogs, collars, and pins were made from wooden casts pressed into trays of sand. The shop has direct access to the 'boat-hole' which runs under the length of the building and is accessed by the door opposite the entrance to allow easy loading and unloading of raw and finished materials.

‘Entering the Hartshill blacksmith’s shop is like entering a time capsule with many of the original tools and equipment left on pegs from when they were last used. It was easy to imagine how it must have been when it was brought to life back in February with a blacksmith working the forge for a public open day. 

Hartshill Yard 2015‘In a prominent position overlooking the yard is the imposing Clock House/Bridge House (depending on the census enumerator). It was occupied in the mid-1800s by two generations of the Sinclair family - John Sinclair and his son Robert Cooper Sinclair - who both held the post of the Coventry Canal Company's Resident Engineer. The façade is typical of houses built in the late Georgian period of the early 1800s by artisan builders using pattern books.’

‘Hartshill is one of the least altered and therefore most historically significant of our maintenance yards. It is often cited as one of the best examples of a yard with a multi-purpose building, housing a dock, blacksmith's shop, carpenter's shop, offices and stores under one roof.’ 

‘Whether it’s stepping inside the blacksmith’s shop, admiring the beautiful Regency staircase in the Engineer’s House or exploring the outbuildings to see an abandoned pig sty and privy, walking round Hartshill Yard always fills me with a sense of the past.’

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2-4-6-8 Motorway

If you’ve clicked on this article’s link in the contents list because you know, and like, the song then you have to go to the Crick Boat Show next year – 28 to 30 May.

That’s right, Tom Robinson will be headlining next year’s Sunday night show and performing his classic hits – including 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby - along with material from his new album.

Headlining the day before, on Saturday, is Blondied, the leading Blondie/ Debbie Harry tribute band which has performed internationally and widely across the UK. The show includes all Blondie’s hits, from their raucous early records right up to the slick pop/rock that has become their trademark.

Other acts will be announced in the coming months covering genres as diverse as Americana, Blues, Classic Pop, Cajun and Gypsy Jazz, to name a few.

So, to get early bird savings of up to 20% off the gate prices on one-day tickets, three-day tickets and family tickets visit the website or call 01283 742970. We promise not to leave you Hanging on the Telephone (hopefully at least one Blondie fan out there enjoyed that…).

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Cast your vote

As many will know in the past few months we’ve asked for boaters to come forward to volunteer to sit on our governing Council as representatives for private boaters (four) and business boating (two).

A week ago the independent organisation running the process, the Electoral Reform Service (ERS), confirmed and validated eight nominations for private boaters and four for business boating.

By now, if you’re a boat licence holder, you should have received an email from the ERS. The email contains a link, specific to you, which directs you to the voting portal (you won’t find it by Google!). If you haven't seen it, have a look in your spam folder, if you still can't find it then please email onlinevoting@electoralreform.co.uk or call 020 8889 9203

Ultimately, those sitting on the Council will be there to represent your views so please do take the time to vote… You have until midnight on Friday 11 December.

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Winter Mooring sites – should I stay or should I go?

At a few Winter Mooring sites there's been a little confusion about who can stay and for how long. This year we’re taking a flexible approach and will allow visitors to moor at these sites for the standard time period if there are spaces available. I appreciate that this might be open to interpretation so, hopefully, the below adds some clarity:

A row of moored boatsI think it goes without saying that if you’ve just tied up at a site for which you’ve bought a Winter Mooring Permit then you can stay for as long as your permit… permits.

If you haven’t purchased a permit for that site then, as long as there is space, you can use the mooring for the relevant stay time but, if a boater with a permit turns up, then you have to move (regardless of whether the relevant stay time has been reached).

A follow-on question has been what we mean by ‘relevant stay time’. This year, for the first time, all visitor moorings reverted during winter (1 November to 31 March) to 14 days stay time unless there’s a sign at the site that says something along the lines of ‘Applies all year’. So, once you’ve tied up, take a quick stroll and have a look at the signs – unless you see the above you can stop there for 14 days.

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Bits and Bobs

  • Congratulations go to Shire Cruisers which was given special recognition at Yorkshire  Tourism’s White Rose Awards held just over a week ago, being ‘Highly Commended’ under the ‘Self-catering’ category. The awards are the biggest tourism awards in the UK and have been recognising tourism stars for more than 25 years. Nearly one of 100 businesses, Shire Cruisers was the first ever canal boat holiday provider to be shortlisted for this year’s White Rose Awards.
  • When the temperature drops we all want to keep our boats cosy and a real stove can be just the job. As well as making sure your stove is safe and well ventilated (see article about the dangers of CO poisoning) please be considerate of those around you and try not to smoke anyone out! This is particularly relevant if you’re in a built up area with buildings nearby. If you stick to using smokeless fuel you’re unlikely to bother anyone, but for advice there is a list of fuels that are approved for use in ‘smoke control areas’ on the government website. If you’re using wood make sure it is dry and well-seasoned as burning damp wood or the inappropriate wood brings its own list of risks and dangers

Happy Boating!

Damian

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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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