Boaters Newsletter - July 2014

Dear Users,

Welcome to a summer news up-date. Let us all hope that the summer weather continues.

The prolonged flooding along the river valley early in the year prevented access to many areas for a long period during the spring and delayed regular maintenance work. Our residential caretakers monitored moored boats throughout, often adjusting lines where boat owners were not available, to avoid vessels being submerged and we believe that no one suffered any substantial damage as a consequence of the weather. Our Staff have been particularly busy catching up after the floods and the subsequent wet and then hot weather has caused rapid grass grown along the towpath and around the locks, as well as early weed growth in the waterway.    

In order to deal with these challenges and with the help of our parent organisation, The Inland Waterways Association, we have purchased a new Avant 635 agricultural vehicle with mowing and flail arm grass cutting attachments. This will be able to access most of the tow path and should result in a much improved cutting regime.

Early use of our old weed cutting boat was frustrated by yet another failure, this time of the engine, despite considerable expenditure on its refurbishment last year. The decision was rapidly taken that it was no longer viable to continue to repair it and within a few days we were able to purchase and take delivery of a new Conver C420 weed-cutting boat. This comes with a trailing knife cutter which is already proving successful in dealing with blanket weed. We are again indebted to IWA for their assistance with a loan to fund the purchase.      

Work completed
Fortunately, flood conditions had little effect upon Springfield Basin, and we were able to lower water levels and re-build half the length of the wharf wall at Indigo Wharf at the recent Taylor Wimpey development. New moorings are available here with electricity and water services.
Funding was provided by Chelmsford City Council through Section 106 Planning Contributions and by Taylor Wimpey. We are currently exploring sources of funding to complete the repair of the remaining section of the wharf.   

The boaters’ car park at Paper Mill Lock was resurfaced and fences repaired in preparation for a new recessed gate access. The Highways Authority, however, lost our application for the necessary highway work and this has caused a delay in completing the work, but which should be resolved shortly.

The new toilets on the north bank at Paper Mill are now open, although there are a few minor jobs still to be finished. We wish to thank our regular Paper Mill volunteers, especially for their valuable assistance with this project.

The foundations for the new toilets at Sandford are now complete and we plan to start the construction of the building itself shortly.

Two new information boards have been installed at Heybridge Basin. One explains to visitors how the lock works and has been dedicated to the memory of Doug Beard, IWA trustee and director of Essex Waterways Ltd, who was instrumental in transferring the operation and maintenance of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation to Essex Waterways in 2005. The other describes the history of Heybridge Basin and is dedicated to Mary Christine Harrison, a lifelong resident of Heybridge Basin.

Work planned
Completion of the informal towpath surfacing between Barnes Lock and Sandford is planned to take place in July. We are grateful to Essex County Council’s Rights of Way team for their assistance with this work.

The bank repairs and tow path work above Paper Mill Lock had to be postponed from earlier in the year due to the flooded ground conditions. This is now planned for October.

Contractors have now been able to access sites to prepare works quotations for lock cill repairs at Little Baddow, Paper Mill and landings and gates at Hoe Mill. We aim to commence these works before the year end and will publish a programme of dates as soon as contractors are appointed.

We are still offering use of the Heybridge crane for a “lift hold and scrub” during the summer, at a price of £90 for vessels under 10 metre length. Contact Martin Maudsley.

Our boat trailer is also available at Paper Mill Lock for trailable boats whose owners wish to remove boats via the slipway for short period work ashore. Contact Hugh Turner.

We have recycling facilities at Sandford Lock and Paper Mill Lock. Please use these for disposal of cans, bottles and paper as required by Chelmsford City Council and to help reduce the amount of rubbish and costs associated with landfill. We have also been asked to remind users not to place paint or oil in the refuse bins as containers get crushed by the compaction gear on the freighter, causing spills over the vehicle and roadway, which we could then have to pay to be cleaned-up.

Waterway Recovery Group volunteers excavated and laid a new concrete path at the south quay Heybridge Basin at the beginning of the year and carried out work at Hoe Mill. Volunteers from Ford Motor Co. have painted the lock gates, seat and posts at Heybridge Basin. Chelmer Canal Trust continues with their work clearing invasive weed and litter picking.

We now have regular volunteers helping at most of our mooring sites as well as those who work along the whole length and those who help with excavator driving and electrical installation. If you would like to assist in any way, please contact Graham Brown.    

Social Scene
Chelmsford City Council wishes to hold a River Celebration in Chelmsford on 25th October.
They aim to organise several river events, more details to be announced.  You are therefore invited to bring your boat to a gathering of boats in Springfield Basin on this date. Please make a note of the date.

More Users are attending the Chelmsford Branch of The Inland Waterway Association social meetings in Chelmsford. Please join us at Moulsham Mill, Parkway, Chelmsford (between the Tesco Home Store and Army & Navy roundabout) 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start. There is plenty of car parking and refreshments are provided. Several of the presentations are of particular local interest.

September 11th - History of The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Dennis Padfield (Dennis moors at Sandford)
October 9th - Heybridge Basin. Denys Harrison (TBC) (Denys is known to be the local historian at Heybridge Basin)
November 13th - The Droitwich Ring, Roger Squires (Roger always gives us an interesting talk)
December 11th - Christmas Gathering and Historic Films, Roy Cox (Roy’s films are always well worth seeing)   

Also of interest
You may have noticed work underway on the construction of a large pipeline in several locations close to the Navigation. This is a duplicate pipeline known as the Chelmsford Effluent Pipeline which runs from the Chelmsford (Brookend) Sewage Treatment Works to the Essex & Suffolk Water Company’s Langford Water Treatment Works. The new pipeline will cross beneath the Navigation near Cuton Lock and also below Rushes Lock. The crossings will be bored and will not affect the navigation. Work should be completed this year.

Earlier in the year a new underground electricity supply cable was installed beneath the Navigation above Ricketts Lock.

In early May Farleigh Hospice held their ‘Walk for Life 2014’ along the tow path. The event was extremely successful with just under 1200 participants raising nearly £114,000 for the Hospice.

Contact Us     
Navigation Manager, Graham Brown 07966 375351,
Mooring and Fisheries Manager, Hugh Turner 07910 558465,
Essex Waterways Helmsman School, Hugh Turner 07910 558465
Heybridge Lock Keeper, Martin Maudsley 07712 079764,
VHF Channel 80 ‘Heybridge Lock’
Moorings Administrator, Christine Walsh 01494 783453  ext 612,

Essex Waterways Ltd. Out of hours Emergency No. 07968 020554