I thought I should write a blog on my highlights and lowlights of 2013 and looking ahead, what I’m looking forward to in 2014.
I believe there is a specific date after which you can't wish a Happy New Year to people... but still, I think I might just about get away with looking back on the last year and ahead to 2014?
2013 has been a very busy year for me as this is the first full year I have been covering both the London and South-East waterway areas which together, have over 350 listed buildings, 9 scheduled monuments and 78 conservation areas.
The highlights of 2013 include the dismantling and relocation of the boat weighing machine that has been moved from the Stoke Bruerne disused top lock to be relocated to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Seeing it removed from the empty lock had been an ambition of the Stoke Bruerne Partnership for some time. It was really interesting researching this welsh designed and welsh built amazing piece of engineering, and seeing it being carefully dismantled and lifted out was very special. Another structure I got to know a little more is Tringford Pumping Station and its amazing 1927 pump that is still working. The building won’t be known to all as it is on the Wendover Arm rather than on the main line of the Grand Union. But it is another marvellous piece of engineering that keeps the summit in water. Our engineers have been doing some in-depth research into its intricate workings, alterations and evolutions over the years, and it makes for fascinating reading. It also introduced me to the Wendover Arm Trust and 'KESCRG' who are doing some amazing work.
Other volunteering organisations I got to know better are the Waterway Recovery Group and the Blisworth Canal Partnership. Seeing the Blisworth Tunnel hut transformed by the latter and given a new reason to be is wonderful. While on the subject of volunteers, I really enjoyed working with Samantha, Anne-Marie, Charlotte, William and Arantxa. All are students or recent graduates who have been helping me in various tasks.
The Open Day at Hampstead Road Lock, in Camden was fantastic and even after over six years at the Trust, I still marvelled at the workmanship of those who built our structures in the past and the skills and knowledge of colleagues today. Going to see a dewatered lock is still a treat. How many times have colleagues heard me saying: “look at the quality of the workmanship in this 200 years old brickwork!”
The lowlights were that two close colleagues in the environmental team have left us and that we didn’t get HLF funding for the restoration of Carpenters Road Lock. Not getting the funding was a real blow, but we haven’t given up and are looking at other ways of returning this amazing structure back into use. That’s something to be looking forward to in 2014, which brings me nicely to this year.
No doubt 2014 will be another busy year. Works to various locks will be taking place over the next few months which will see me driving up and down the M1 and M40. Recently, one of those revealed a military helmet that the Imperial War Museum kindly identified for us!
I am also working on a pilot project to develop the first National Listed Building Consent Order in partnership with English Heritage. You can read about this on the Heritage section in About us.
We should also start working on the restoration of Soulbury Pumping Station, currently on the Aylesbury District ‘at Risk’ Register.
In the coming weeks, the lattice steel bridge on the Olympic Park illustrated above, which we saved from demolition before the games, and ended up framing many television backshots of the stadium, is to be professionally cleaned, refurbished and repainted. Arantxa has recently come back volunteering for us and Kahir, a graduate archaeologist is just about to start doing some archive research.
2014 is no doubt going to be another year full of suprises and challenges I am looking forward to it!
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.See more blogs from this author