Welcome to the October edition of our newsletter where we shall give you a brief insight into the busy few months we have just been through and what we have planned in the coming months as well.
Our biggest challenge of the year so far has been Ricketts Lock, which had to be closed at very short notice due to a failure of the lower lock gates. New gates were fabricated at short notice and fitted during the week 7th to 11th September, by Hargreaves of West Yorkshire. We have worked alongside them in order to get the new gates operational as quickly as we could. Whilst on site, we have fitted new capping boards, cleared the lock of silt, painted the upper gates and beams, repaired cracks in the brick work and many other tasks whilst the lock was empty. This was the first set of gates manufactured for the waterway by Hargreaves and the first lock overhaul undertaken by our own staff in recent years. The lock was reopened to navigation on 16th September. Next time you visit, try the new bench made from the old lock beams.
Work has been underway to install two new portage points for canoeists along with bank piling above Hoe Mill Lock. Our contractors Crown Build carried out these works which were completed in early September without closure to the navigation.
Our regular volunteers at Paper Mill Lock have been busy again with painting various gates and reinforcing the planking which forms the walkway over the bridge to the island. Others have replaced the barn doors on the work shed on the Paper Mill Island and donated a notice board has been made and fixed to the shed on the north bank at Paper Mill Lock. Our regular volunteers along the Navigation are a vital part of the team, and without them we would struggle to maintain the Navigation. If you would like to support us with some time to keep the Navigation open please contact Graham Brown for more information on how to get involved.
The bank piling at Smiths Yard in Springfield Basin is now complete. The Basin was fully operational again in time for the rivers festival at the end of July, which sadly turned into a very wet and windy day for all organisations involved. We are grateful to everyone who came along to support the event and help Chelmsford recognise its waterways assets right in the city centre. Further work at Cressy Court, opposite Smiths Yard in the Basin, will start when funding becomes available from Taylor Wimpey.
Other works that are on going include bank piling and wildlife habitat improvements which are being led by Essex Wildlife Trust on the towpath side bank between Paper Mill and Little Baddow locks. EWT has been working with Land and Water on this project.
Essex & Suffolk Water Company is leading on work to replace the cassion gate at Heybridge Basin. Notices have been issued informing boaters and local residents of this work. Initial works to prepare for removal of the old gate are mostly complete. The main work to install the new gate on its runners will take place over the winter. The new gate will allow the Heybridge lock keeper to increase the size of the lock on busy days meaning less lockings and that more vessels can be locked through during the limited periods of high tide.
Work continues on the A138 Chelmer Viaduct replacement and the contractors Grahams Construction is keeping us informed. There are still no planned navigation closure dates. The temporary haul bridge is now up and many readers will have seen the work being carried out on constructing the new bridge. The Pile rig is probably what most will have noticed as it stands taller than most people’s houses and is an impressive piece of machinery to watch being used.
Cills and gates at Paper Mill Lock and cills at Little Baddow are next on the agenda for projects over the coming months. The gates have already been measured up by Hargreaves, and will be fabricated over the winter. New bottom gates for Hoe Mill are also planned for later in 2016.
Another final cut of the towpaths is due to take place during the next couple of weeks before the winter sets in and we do it all again next year.
Long-term mooring fees and other charges along the Navigation are to remain unchanged for 2016. Although the Retail Price Index is running at just under 1.0%, and our costs of maintaining the Navigation are rising well above this level, we wish to maintain affordability for everyone on the waterway. This will remain dependent on the continued goodwill of all our supporters to whom we remain grateful, not least our boat-owners on the waterway, as your vigilance and care of the Navigation remains essential. There will be some adjustment to the short stay rates at Heybridge Basin and some moorings where facilities have been improved may be re-graded, and details of these will be advised in December.
Our boat trailer is available at Paper Mill Lock for trailable boats whose owners wish to remove boats via the slipway for a short period to work ashore. Contact Hugh Turner.
Please can boaters take care to use the toilet facilities appropriately. We have had instances in the last couple of months whereby it appears that oil had been poured down the toilets, causing difficulty with recent emptying of the tanks and disposal of the contents. Fortunately on that occasion we managed to find a solution but it could have been extremely expensive requiring specialist tankers to take the waste away to a contamination site. We can’t afford for that to happen. Now we have provided the facilities, please help us to look after them for everyone’s benefit.
Boat Safety Scheme Certificates and Insurance
It is noticeable that a few customers are allowing their BSS certification and/or insurance to expire before renewing or passing the details onto Christine at Head Office. Please ensure your documentation is kept up to date, it is a requirement of your mooring agreement. The majority of our customers keep all their documents up to date, but a few are causing us unnecessary expense by not providing this information. In such cases, we will need to recover these costs through a £50 administration charge. Thanks for your support in this.
Safety on wet landing stages
Please remember that landing stages can be slippery when wet. Especially as we now head into the winter period.
This continues and is a live document on our website. Please continue to update us with any new events or dates to be planned.
Most of you now receive alerts that we send out via email updating on urgent works or important information. If you haven’t registered your email address with us, then please do as it really does help us get information to you quickly, especially at short notice.
On Sunday 21st September, IWA held its first Waterways Triathlon on the Navigation in a bid to raise some additional funds for Essex Waterways and for The Susan Trust, which looks after the Chelmer Barge ‘The Susan’, which is still in dry dock at St Osyth. There were 68 competitors of all ages and abilities who took part in the event which was launched by the Mayor of Chelmsford. We are grateful for all the positive comments that were made both on the day and since it was hosted, both in person and via our Facebook page. It was a great day we thank everyone who supported the event. Without all those who turned out to help, the day would not have been such a success.
IWA Chelmsford Branch social meetings recommenced in September. New and regular users are welcome to attend our IWA social meetings. Feel free to come to join us at Moulsham Mill, Parkway, Chelmsford (between the B+M store and the 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. Full details are available on the IWA Chelmsford Branch pages.
Navigation Manager, Graham Brown 07966 375351, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heybridge Lockkeeper, Grant Everiss 07712 079764, email@example.com
Mooring and Fisheries Manager, Hugh Turner 07910 558465, firstname.lastname@example.org
Moorings Administrator, Christine Walsh 01494 783453 ext 612, email@example.com
Essex Waterways Ltd. Out of hours Emergency No. 07968 020554