The winter maintenance programme is in full swing with a number of important projects already completed and much more planned before the start of the warmer weather.
American Pennywort has been particularly prevalent in the Long Pond and EWL staff, volunteers and members of Chelmer Canal Trust’s work party have all been working hard to try and remove as much as possible, to eliminate and limit the spread of this highly invasive alien plant.
Heybridge Basin Lock
The contractors have been on site since October. Progress has been a little slow with various problems encountered with preparation for the installation of the outer stoplog (dam). Most of these problems have been resolved and the contractors are now busy drilling 600mm deep holes in steel reinforced concrete for the stop-log retaining frame. This will be left in place after works are completed to enable the stop-logs to be ‘dropped in’ for any future works or repairs. This work is further complicated by the relentless tidal ebb and flow coupled with short daylight hours. This means that with each day’s work the lock has to be pumped-out for access.
The upper lock gates have recently been removed and the canal dammed off with more conventional sheet piling. A temporary bridge has been installed across the lock chamber to divert foot traffic and allow access and viewing of the works.
At present, the delays should not affect the opening of the lock to through traffic by the planned re-opening date of 1st April 2017, although the new caisson outer gate may not be functional until later in the season; however, so as far as the Lockkeeper is concerned it’ll be business as usual.
The coping stones have been cleared of grass and soil.
Hoe Mill Lock
Volunteers from Essex WRG have improved the canoe landing stage, adding a lower level to improve access.
Paper Mill Lock
The new bridge has been installed across the tail of the lock. Complete with new access ramps, this will provide for safe and wheelchair access to the EWL office.
The October WRG camp resulted in a great deal of towpath work between Paper Mill Lock and Boreham Bridge including surfacing and scrub clearance.
A concerted effort from EWL staff and volunteers in November saw a complete refurbishment of the lock. The top gates have been fully re-boarded and sealed. The lower gates, previously re-boarded, were repaired carefully to ensure the integrity of the gate framework and new paddles have been installed. The chamber has been de-silted and the brickwork has been re-pointed where necessary. Bank erosion has been repaired adjacent to the landing stage below the lock.
Towpath moorings above the lock have been dredged.
Steps and landing stages cleared of vegetation and repaired.
Warning signs, provided by UK Power Networks, have been replaced along the Navigation, warning anglers not to fish within the vicinity of pylons.
Little Baddow Lock
Environment Agency consent has been granted to repair the piling below the lock. This work is planned for February, weather permitting.
Hoe Mill Lock
The lock will be closed from mid January, weather permitting, for several weeks in order to install new lower gates.
New lower gates have been ordered for delivery and installation before Easter.
New top and lower gates are planned for replacement later in the year.
Please note that the padlock access code has changed. Long term moorers can gain entry to the car park with the normal key. Please contact Hoe Mill caretakers or Navigation Manager for the new code which will be issued at management discretion.
Beeleigh Flood gates
Please ensure that you leave these gates CLOSED. This is imperative as it prevents any salt water that may overtop Beeleigh Weir on a spring tide from entering the Long Pond which would cause flooding issues and damage the ecology of the canal.
Please also remember that the flood gates adjacent to the Maldon bypass are currently CLOSED until the sea lock re-opens in March.
Permanent moorings on the Navigation are almost at current capacity (other than in the marina at Springfield and the upstream end of the Heybridge moorings). If you plan to buy or sell a boat please ensure that you contact the Navigation Manager well in advance to facilitate mooring.
The annual User’s Meeting will take place at Langford and Ulting Village Hall opposite the Museum of Power (B1019 Maldon Road, Langford CM9 4SS) on Tuesday 7th February at 7.45 for 8pm start. Everybody welcome. This will be an opportunity to review the progress made on the waterway during 2016 and to raise any questions.
Hoe Mill now has a new caretaker. Laura Ellis and her husband Colin arrived at Hoe Mill in their new home on 7th December. They are very excited about living on the Navigation and getting used to their new environment. Please say hello to Laura and Colin when you are passing through or visiting Hoe Mill.
Unfortunately this is the time of year when marinas and moorings throughout East Anglia are targeted by thieves. Please ensure the safety of your possessions by removing valuables and ensuring your boat and engine are secure. If visiting your boat please remember that landing stages can be slippery when frosty or wet.
We are very fortunate to have a number of volunteers who help in variety of ways and we are very grateful for their help throughout the year. However, we would like more volunteers in order that we can continue to improve the Navigation for all its users. If you would like to help in any way or know someone who would please contact the Navigation Manager (details below).
You are always welcome to The Inland Waterways Association Chelmsford Branch social meetings. Meet at 7.45pm for an 8pm start, home made cakes provided. These are held at The Galleywood Heritage Centre, The Common, Galleywood, Chelmsford, CM2 8TR
This is 1 mile from the A12 junction 16. Further information on directions/local map on the Galleywood Heritage Centre website
Thursday 12th January - Steven Wilding – Olympic Legacy Waterways Framework
Thursday 9th February - Jim Jenkins, EWL Director – Abberton Reservoir
Thursday 9th March - AGM followed by Adrian Wright – 150 years of the Great Eastern Railway
There are lots of birds to be seen on the mudflats at Heybridge Basin, with many species of waders and wildfowl, even with all the busy and sometimes noisy lock work. Up to 3 kingfishers have been present between Tesco and the Basin.
Paper Mill Lock
Dragonflies were still on the wing well into November, benefitting from the very mild autumn. A nuthatch was spotted in the car park trees in October while the ‘resident’ kingfisher has become rather tame, posing for photographers on its favourite perches. Grey wagtails are still regular around the lock. See the kingfisher on our Facebook page.
Send your wildlife sightings to the Navigation Manager, contact details below.
Navigation Manager, David Smart 07966 375351, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heybridge Lockkeeper, Grant Everiss 07712 079764, email@example.com
Moorings Administrator, Christine Walsh 01494 783453 ext 612, firstname.lastname@example.org
Essex Waterways Ltd. Out of hours Emergency No. 07968 020554