Boaters Newsletter - April 2017

Dear Users,

As Easter approaches, our ambitious winter maintenance programme, which has delivered a number of substantial improvements to the Navigation, nears completion.

Work Completed

Weed removal
Ongoing work by volunteers and members of Chelmer Canal Trust’s work party has led to yet more removal of the highly invasive alien plant, American Pennywort.

Heybridge Basin Lock
The contractors have been on site since October. On-going engineering issues further delayed the installation of the outer dam. Due to these delays in the programme over the winter the new caisson gate will now not be fitted until next autumn/winter. This work will take place during a planned closure from 2nd October 2017 with the aim of completion by Christmas.

The new upper mitre gates have now been installed and fully tested. The old gates have been dismantled and re-cycled. The temporary bridge has been removed and access restored across the upper gates. The lock is now open.
A new sewage handling system has been installed at Heybridge Basin. The old septic tank has been replaced with new pumped system that should be operational by Easter.

Hoe Mill Lock
New lower gates have been successfully installed.  The February cold snap interspersed with a couple of spells of rain created very difficult conditions for EWL staff and volunteers and flash flooding of the Navigation from rain running off frozen ground caused the lock dams to need re-setting at least 7 times!
Paper Mill Lock
This February a Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) camp managed to remove a great deal of towpath vegetation and overhanging trees below Paper Mill Lock.  This work paves the way for substantial culvert and towpath repairs planned for later in the year. In addition, significant brickwork repairs were carried out on both lock wing walls.

Little Baddow Lock
Following Environment Agency consent for the works, landing stage and bank piling has been replaced.  With equipment hired from Avon Navigation Trust twinned with our own plant and machinery the EWL staff and volunteer team successfully delivered this challenging project on time.  Old plastic piling and wooden posts have been removed and new galvanised steel piling capped with oak boards now provides a safe and welcoming mooring area below the lock.
The oak timber for this project was sourced from Essex Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Weeleyhall Wood, near Clacton, in a partnership between Essex Waterways and EWT.  Felled as part of EWT’s woodland management programme the trees were recovered by staff and volunteers of both organisations, transported to Danbury and milled to size.  In 1993 a similar venture provided the timber for Springfield Lock gates.

Grass cutting
The grass cutting season is upon us.  Our volunteers, residential caretakers and lengthsmen will all be out and about keeping mooring sites, locks and towpath safe and presentable over the next few months.

Work Planned

Barnes Lock
New lower gates are scheduled for delivery and fitting week commencing 3rd April.

Springfield Lock
New top and lower gates are planned for replacement over the winter 2017-8 period.

Mooring stages
Boaters are politely reminded that mooring stages must not be altered or painted without prior consent from EWL.Please note that it is planned to carry out maintenance and cleaning of mooring stages.

Important Information

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.

Electricity Supplies
One of the electrical supply points at Sandford has been tampered with, rendering the connection unsafe.  Boaters are reminded that they must not in any way alter the configuration of any electrical installations on the Navigation.

Social Scene

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 13th April
Richard Thomas – Gunpowder on the Lea

Thursday 11th May
Social boat trip on the River Stort.
To book your place contact:

10K Challenge on the Chelmer Towpath

On Sunday 17th September IWA and Essex Waterways will be hosting a 10k fundraising event on the scenic Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation in Essex. The event is being held to raise funds to improve the local towpaths, so more people can easily enjoy this local asset.

For the past two years, IWA has hosted a popular triathlon in the same area, but this year the intent is to host an event more accessible to all. The ‘Essex 10k’ will be a circular, cross-country route, starting and finishing at Hoe Mill Lock in Ulting, taking in the scenery of Maldon and the surrounding area along the way. A large stretch of the route will be along the towpath, where runners can enjoy the unique landscape and the relatively flat running conditions!
Entry will be £15, with concessions for affiliated runners and Early Bird entries. More information is available on the IWA website and the event Facebook page. Any questions can be emailed to Sara Frayne at
For those who don’t want to take part, why not consider volunteering at the event? There will be lots of roles available from the tea/coffee stand to marshalling on the route. Find out more on the Essex 10K page online.

Don't forget to vote!

As you may know, IWA Chelmsford Branch, in partnership with Essex Waterways, has succeeded in getting through to the in-store voting stage of Tesco’s ‘Bags of Help’ scheme, with a project to transform a stretch of towpath directly opposite the Maldon Extra branch. There is still just over four weeks to cast your vote and help our project get up to £5,000 in funding. Every purchase in a Tesco store will mean you receive a token to cast your vote and help us create local waterways walks accessible to all. Find out more on the IWA Chelmsford branch webpage.

Wildlife Sightings

The early March sunshine encouraged several toads out into the warmth. Two were spotted on the towpath side just above the moorings.

Paper Mill Lock
The kingfisher has been a daily sighting almost up to the end of March, fishing between the bridge and the upper island. Kingfishers have also been a regular sight on many parts of the Navigation throughout the winter, particularly at Heybridge Basin and the Long Pond, Hoe Mill Lock and Little Baddow Lock.

Hoe Mill Lock
During the February cold spell the slower flowing stretches of the Navigation along with adjacent lakes and gravel pits, were frozen solid for several weeks. On one particular day, 35 cormorants were ‘fishing’ where the faster currents prevented ice from forming. Several days later, after re-setting the lock dam and pumping out the water around 1000 roach were rescued. It is thought they had found sanctuary from the cormorants beneath the ice and as the dam ‘popped’ they forced their way into the lock. Similar large aggregations of fish were witnessed at Paper Mill Lock.

Little Baddow Lock
A mink was spotted swimming across the weir pool on 17th March.

Swans disturbed
It is very disappointing to report that Paper Mill’s resident pair of Mute Swans suffered wilful disturbance to their nest, adjacent to the non towpath moorings during the week commencing 20th March. This kind of disturbance is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. If you witness any similar activity please report it to the Navigation Manager.

Spring Migrants
Right on cue, 21st March saw the first migrant arrivals to the Navigation in the shape of 2 singing chiff chaffs at Hoe Mill.

Send your wildlife sightings to the Navigation Manager, contact details below.

Contact Us 

Navigation Manager, David Smart 07966 375351,
Heybridge Lockkeeper
, Grant Everiss 07712 079764,
Moorings Administrator, Christine Walsh 01494 783453  ext 612,

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