Boaters Newsletter - January 2015

Dear Users and Supporters,

Welcome to the January 2015 newsletter from Essex Waterways, and as we look forward to the New Year, I think its safe to say that we have had an excellent 2014, both in terms of the weather we have had (some of the warmest average temperatures on record!) and the projects that we have undertaken and will continue with into 2015. Most of you will also be aware, that we have purchased a few items of new equipment which have helped the team and volunteers out no end. Most of this equipment we have mentioned in previous newsletters, so there is no need to list it out again. But it does just go to show, however, that we are busy trying to improve the experience of boaters and other users of the Navigation.

Work completed
You may remember in the last newsletter, we reported on the foot boards, on which boaters stand to wind the paddles, and how we hoped to have these complete by around Easter next year. Well the good news is that we now hope to have this complete by the end of January. Working with our contractor, we have been able to move this along a little quicker than first anticipated, so next time you are out boating, the lock platforms will all be finished in oak with an anti-slip material screwed over the top.

Work on the Sandford toilet block is progressing nicely. With the help of our highly valued volunteers, we now have the majority of the slates on the roof, the doors are on and the next jobs will be to screed the floor and fix the electrics. As you read this, however, the chances are we will have further progress – simply because I am writing this early December!

The two new major sewer pipeline crossings beneath the Navigation are now almost complete. These are sited above Cuton Lock and below Rushes Lock. Navigation bank works have been undertaken above Rushes lock in conjunction with the crossing.

Work planned
Unfortunately the work that had been planned with Essex Wildlife Trust between Papermill Lock and Little Baddow on the towpath had to be postponed due to bad weather and problems with access. At this time, we have no firm dates from them as to when they expect to start but I am in contact with all the parties involved to try and put some more dates in the diary again for 2015. It is a project that we are all keen to see progress, so hopefully it will happen soon.

Work at Waterfront Place, Springfield Basin, is now well underway by the contractors and the adjoining demolition is complete. Essex Waterways played a very small part in this project by hiring our barge “Julie” to the contractors to work from and to use as a platform. Work to build new homes and re-build the wharf walls will take us well into 2015, but will eventually leave us with much better moorings including electric from service bollards. There are still wharf wall repairs required at Cressy Court and we hope these will be possible before the Spring.

Our lock repair programme for 2014 unfortunately slipped due to the difficulty in finding contractors but we are currently working on this. At the moment we anticipate being able to commence bank piling repairs above Hoe Mill Lock in February. This will be followed by lock cill repairs at Little Baddow and Paper Mill Lock. We will announce all planned lock closure dates as soon as these are available.

We have also been informed that it is intended to commence the rebuilding of the A138 Chelmer Viaduct in Chelmsford (the former A12) in February. We await further discussions with the appointed contractor with regard to any restrictions to navigation during these works. We understand that building the new bridge will take 18 months followed by 6 months to demolish the old bridge.   

We are still offering use of the Heybridge crane for a lift hold and scrub during the winter, at a price of £90 for vessels under 10 metre length. Let’s just say its looking as though there are a few boats that could benefit from this service at the moment, and we are trying our best to make the sites look as presentable as possible, so your assistance in this would be most appreciated. Contact Martin Maudsley.

Our boat trailer is 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.

The area around the crane at Heybridge Basin is a working area and also a hard hat area when the crane is in operation. There have been a few incidents of late whereby customers have used this area as a dumping ground for items from their boats. Please do not leave rubbish or belongings in this area as we have to remove or dispose of them so as to reduce the risk of slips / trips / falls to staff and volunteers.

Please remember that this time of year, with all the rain, dinghies tend to fill with water. Staff have spent time bailing out dinghies that do not belong to us. Please pop down every now and then and try and do this for yourselves, as we cannot afford the time to continue doing this without charging you. If, however, you need us to do this then please let us know and we can arrange to do so, based on our publicised hourly rate.

Please also remember that landing stages can be slippery when wet or icy. Please take care when visiting the moorings during winter.

Please also remember to close and lock the car parks when entering and leaving them so as to try and prevent misuse and also to minimise the risk of any potential would be thieves.

Boat Names. Please ensure your boat has a name on it. It is vital it is displayed in case of emergency. It also forms part of the mooring agreement. Please do not underestimate how important it is that we have the correct information.

Speed limits. We have received an increasing number of complaints about the speed that boats are moving past moorings. Boaters should leave very little, if any, wash behind them and especially on the mooring sites where people are likely to be on their boats. This causes unnecessary damage to both the boats and the banks of the Navigation. Lets face it, boating is meant to be about relaxing and enjoying yourselves, not racing around.

Unfortunately winter is the time of year when marinas and moorings throughout the area have been targeted with outboard motor thefts. Please make sure yours is securely locked and remove the engine cowling and fit a temporary cover, incomplete engines are a lot less attractive to thieves. If possible take the engine home. Please keep your eyes open for anything suspicious at the moorings.

We recently had the pleasure of two Waterway Recovery Groups visiting us to carry out some towpath clearing along the stretch between Oak tree Meadow and Elm Farm, which is opposite the Tesco store in Heybridge. During the two weekends they carried out a huge amount of work and re-laid some of the towpath with wood chippings. Huge thanks must go out to all the staff and volunteers who turned up to help.

We wish to just mention that it is great to see so many of our boaters helping and assisting us with works along the canal. For example, we currently benefit from volunteers working on the Sandford toilet block as well as those who turned out for the WRG weekends mentioned above. We rely heavily on volunteers to help and assist us with the day to day running of the navigation and regardless of what skills you may or may not have, we can always find you a role to play in keeping this waterway alive. Contact Graham Brown if you are interested.

Mooring Fees and Charges
All mooring fees and other charges levied by Essex Waterways Ltd are due to rise by 1.5% with effect from 1st January 2015, other than the single day fees for class 4 licences, which cover canoes and other small unpowered vessels. These will remain at £5.  The visitor rates at Heybridge Basin have also risen by slightly different percentages to keep sums to round amounts for ease of payment.

Social Scene
We are pleased to seen an increasing number of boaters attending our social meetings and below is a list of dates planned for spring 2015. Please feel free to come and 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.

  • 8th January - Irene Allen, local historian who has written a book about the village of Langford will talk about Langford and the connection to the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation.
  • 12th February - Dennis Padfield, ‘Building my boat’ A 57ft narrowboat on the Chelmer & Blackwater.
  • 12th March - Branch AGM followed by Teresa Meadows, ‘Land Management and protecting the Chelmer & Blackwater’. Teresa is Essex & Suffolk Water Company’s River Catchment officer.
  • 9th April - Barry Watson, a hotel boater and boating musician will talk about his memories of hotel boating and will play a couple of songs....’Locking down the Rochdale nine, you don’t want to do it a second time.’    

Also of interest
At the user’s group meeting in February 2014, there were a number of people who supported the idea of having a representative from the mooring sites attend the six-monthly advisory group meetings along with other external stakeholders such as Chelmsford City Council, Highways, Essex & Suffolk Water Company and the Environment Agency. If this is something that you feel you would still like to progress please send a nomination for your mooring location to Ray O’Shea (who is based at the Sandford moorings) at He has kindly volunteered to coordinate this on behalf of Essex Waterways. Ray will compile the list of those interested and contact the person with the most votes from each site to set up a rota for a representative to attend each meeting on behalf of boat owners on the navigation.

Also worthy of note is that the Essex Waterways Helmsman’s School will not be operating during 2015 as Hugh Turner has decided to relinquish the post of instructor. We do have details of alternative schools if you would like to contact us for this information.

Next Users Meeting
The next users group meeting has been arranged for Tuesday 3rd February at 7.30pm at Langford and Ulting Village Hall, (opposite The Museum of Power) B1019 Maldon Road, Langford. Please come along for our annual review and questions. This is your opportunity to meet our staff and raise any points you may have.

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