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News article created on 6 November 2015

Boaters' Update

This latest edition of Boaters' Update includes an article by head of boating, Mike Grimes, news of our Water Resources Strategy and the bicentenary of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal among others.

Boats moored along towpath in rural area Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The autumn half term has been and gone, and with it the increasingly popular Halloween festivities. It’s now that most shops, and those in the service industry, start their frenetic promotion of all things Christmas.

As they ratchet up their activities so do we, but for entirely different reasons. As things become quieter on the cut we get to work on some big projects and you’re invited to come and see some of them - this weekend is the first of our winter Repair & Restoration Open Days in Newark.

If you’re not able to get along to it then don’t worry, there are plenty more happening around the country.

In this edition you’ll find:

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:

  • 26 Oct – We released the results of our Great Nature Watch in which a record number of people took part logging an incredible 163 species from ducks and geese to water voles and even 23 different types of butterfly.
  • 26 Oct - A lock paddle left open on the Kennet & Avon Canal caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage after the weight of water released caused an embankment to collapse.
  • 26 Oct - In line with our three-year commitment to limit boat licence fee increases to inflation only until 2016 (based on the August 2015 Consumer Price Index) we announced that there’ll be no increase in fees next year. More on this below.
  • 30 Oct - Celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the completion of Britain’s longest single man-made waterway, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal got under way, more on this below.

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

  • 1 to 30 Nov – If you’ve the time, you can make a difference this month by joining one of our hard working volunteering teams.
  • 7 & 8 Nov – As mentioned above, you can enjoy a free tour of an empty lock on the River Trent at the Newark Town Lock Open Day. Go along and ask our experts how we maintain these magnificent structures!
  • 7 Nov - Be dazzled, next to the River the Soar, by Leicester’s biggest bonfire and firework display at the city’s official celebration featuring a fantastic family event with live entertainment, the main fireworks, and a quieter, Star Wars themed, children’s firework display.
  • 14 Nov – The second open day is held, this time on the western side of the network, at Diglis Lock in Worcester. You’ll get to take a tour through the drained lock, meet our lovely maintenance team and see how we're fixing it up.

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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Six months in Mike Grimes, head of boating, shares his thoughts

It’s strange how things happen. I spent my childhood messing about on boats on the Norfolk Broads. I then left the world of water for the air and spent a considerable chunk of my working life in the airline industry.

Here I am, though, back with boats. I’ve spent a decent amount of time out on the water with some of you and it seems my journey – around boats in youth, spend time away and then return – isn’t particularly unique.

Quite a few I’ve cruised with have told me, until recently, they hadn’t boated in nearly 20 or 30 years but the ‘bug’ never left them. The proverbial nest egg always had one eye on that 60ft retirement plan.

Of course, not everyone gets exposed to the joys of boating so early in life. There’s a whole generation of boaters who are in their second or third year afloat after a life ashore.

What has struck me, already, is that the route to being a regular boater is probably one of the very few defining differences in the boating community. But, it’s not actually that important.

Boating in WalesWhat is important are the similarities you share. Without fail I’ve been bowled over by passion, enthusiasm and knowledge. It hasn’t mattered whether the boater in question is still, relatively speaking, a bit green or an old hand.

I’m getting to know my team better by the day but we already agree that it’d be great if we can tap in to these qualities. We want an open, co-operative, partnership with boaters to really make a positive impact in the boating world – whether that be in moorings, maintenance or how we communicate - over the coming months and years.

If you do see me out and about please do come and have a chat.

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No rise in licence fees in 2016

There will be no change to boat licences in 2016. This is in line with our three-year commitment to limit boat licence fee increases to inflation only until 2016 (based on the August 2015 Consumer Price Index) and applies to all private and business boats.

Mike Grimes said: “Boats bring life and colour to our canals and rivers and we are committed to offering fair prices to boaters who chose to cruise on our waterways. Licence fees won’t be changing in 2016, and this means boaters’ budgets will be able to stretch further. We hope it will help those who explore our canals and rivers, as well as those who live and work afloat.”

The new, full, price lists for licences from 1 April 2016 can be found on our website.

For further information please contact the Boat Licensing Team on 0303 040 4040.

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Leeds & Liverpool Canal bicentenary

If you’re cruising about in the north west over the next year and feeling a little old while opening a lock gate then spare a thought for the Leeds & Liverpool – it’s just clocked up its 200th year!

A heritage mile marker project, a new choral symphony, the pioneering Desmond Family Canoe Trail, the Super Slow Way arts project and dozens of festivals and events will mark the special 200th anniversary year along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal's 127-mile route.

North West Waterway Manager, Chantelle Seaborn (left) and Bicentenary Project Manager Sarah KnightThe celebrations will be led by us, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, the Inland Waterways Association and the 12 boroughs through which it travels.

These will culminate in October 2016, with the award-winning, heritage education boat, Kennet, run by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, re-creating the first complete trans-Pennine journey along the canal by the merchants of Yorkshire and Lancashire 200 years ago.

Chantelle Seaborn, the local waterway manager, says: “The Leeds & Liverpool is such a special waterway and it’s fantastic that so many people want to celebrate this landmark anniversary with festivals and other events.

“To leave a lasting legacy, we will be launching a major project, EveryMileCounts, in November to replace the missing or severely damaged mile markers which have been lost from the canalside over the last two centuries.

"We’re very excited to work with local communities who want to be involved with refurbishing or replacing mile markers, and are looking for sponsors who would give £200, in our 200th year, to help with this important legacy project.”

Any organisation or volunteer who would like to get involved in the bicentenary celebrations should contact project manager Sarah Knight.

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Stanley Ferry Aqueduct should be an historical A-lister

Following on from the last edition’s article on the Roundhouse, this time Bill Froggatt, heritage advisor for the north west, picks the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct as a first among equals:

“Stanley Ferry Aqueduct carries the Aire & Calder Navigation over the River Calder north of Wakefield. It was opened in 1839 and was designed by Leeds engineer George Leather. It has a fifty metre long cast iron trough suspended from two arched iron girders.

“The three metre-deep sides of the trough are lined by a colonnade of cast iron Doric columns, while the Bramley Fall stone abutments are disguised with cast iron Doric porticos.

Stanley Ferry Aqueduct

“It is generally regarded as the largest cast iron aqueduct in the world and allegedly carries more water than the whole of the nineteen arches of the celebrated Pont-y-Cysyllte aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal.

“Leather introduced this type of suspended bridge to Britain (he built two suspended bridges in Leeds, sadly neither of which survive today) and is thought to be the first in the world to build an aqueduct in this style. Alongside is a modern aqueduct built of reinforced concrete – a triumph of function over imagination.

“The aqueduct is surrounded by historic structures, including a toll house built in a similar Greek Revival style, and a boat yard that was for a while the principal repair yard for the whole Navigation.

“In particular the Tom Puddings (dumb boats used for transporting coal) were first trialled at Stanley Ferry and were later maintained at the workshops there. The workshops are used to this day by us for the construction of lock gates.

“Few people have heard of Stanley Ferry Aqueduct and even fewer of George Leather. He was one of the outstanding engineers of his time and came from a family of eminent engineers. His father served his apprentice with James Brindley, whilst his son and nephew were both successful engineers.

“Unfortunately Leather’s career ended in ignominy as in 1852 his dam at Bilberry Reservoir above Holmfirth collapsed killing 81 people. The subsequent inquiry cleared Leather of blame but neither he nor his career recovered.

“The aqueduct is now the last remaining testament to this outstanding engineer. Its significance is recognised by its Grade I listing (it is also a Scheduled Monument), but it really ought to be more famous than it is today.”

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Water Resources Strategy published

Water is vital to everything we do at the Trust and certainly not something we take for granted. Last year, with this in mind, we set out to create a long term water resources strategy to protect, as far we can, this precious resource. Some of you were kind enough to send us your thoughts on this in the consultation phase.

Well, it’s now complete and hydrologist Emily Crisp has written a blog explaining why and how the strategy was formed and what some of the key actions are.

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Bits and Bobs

  • We weren’t even into November before some were predicting a cold, and white, winter. The Met Office isn’t so speculative just yet but, on the off chance the snow-mongering headlines are true, now might be a good time to reacquaint yourself with our ‘Winterising your boat’ guide which was put together with the generous help of River Canal Rescue.
  • I was lucky enough to be sent a link to this wonderful restoration story of a replica of HMS Pickle. If you’re on the Trent and anywhere near Keadby Lock then please take a picture and post it to our Facebook page.
  • In the last edition I mentioned that you are now allowed to stay, until 31 March 2016, on visitor moorings for up to 14 days unless a sign at the site says otherwise. Some have asked on social media if this also means where there’s a sign denoting a winter mooring site. If there’s not a boat occupying that winter mooring berth then, yes, you are entitled to moor there until a boat with a permit for that site turns up (and can’t moor up because you’re there) or the permitted stay time is up, whichever is the sooner.
  • And finally, don’t forget that voting for the Council elections begins in one week. Make sure you have a read of each nominee’s manifesto and have your say before the deadline on 11 December.

Thanks for reading and happy boating!

Damian

About this blog

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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