As the summer season draws to a close, we can reflect on an incredibly busy, not to mention hot, period on the Navigation, during which we were able to keep the whole Navigation operational thanks to adequate water flow, unlike several parts of the national canal system. We now look forward to a productive period of maintenance to further improve the Navigation for one and all next year.
The ongoing hot spell has provided ideal conditions for duckweed to flourish this year. While this UK native is, as the name suggests, a food source for wildfowl, it is a nuisance for navigation, and particularly for canoeists and Stand-Up Paddle boarders. Floating Pennywort, a North American alien species present along the Navigation, grows very quickly in late summer and early autumn. Our weed boats, complemented by hand clearing, have been particularly busy between Stonhams and Cuton locks.
Heybridge Basin Lock
The caisson gate, now regularly in use, has entered its reliability-testing phase. Visit the lock at any daytime high tide to see it in operation.
Important work has been carried out to maintain and repair our crane.
The reclaimed timber from the old lock gates has now been moved into storage at Hoe Mill to be used on projects elsewhere on the Navigation.
Vegetation overgrowing the permissive path between the off side and the gravel pits has been cleared to facilitate access.
From neighbouring Marconi Sailing Club, a few miles down the estuary, to cross-Channel continentals from Belgium, France and the Netherlands, many visiting yachtsmen have enjoyed the Basin and all it has to offer this summer in what has been a very busy season for our resident lockkeeper Grant Everiss
Over mature and potentially dangerous willows were removed from the Heybridge towpath during a visit from Waterways Recovery Group’s specialist Forestry Team over the last weekend of September.
Lock clearances at our’ inner-city’ lock in Chelmsford have been carried out on numerous occasions, removing bikes, trolleys and other rubbish.
Paper Mill Lock
Victoria trip boat is up and running, having now completed 75 trips this season. She is available for group bookings.
For more information or to book ‘Victoria’ please call Sue Clift on 07507 055021, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to
Thanks to Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ grant funding volunteers and staff have re-surfaced the towpath between Tesco and Chapman’s bridge. Apart from a short section opposite Tesco there is now an all - weather path from Beeleigh Lock to Heybridge Basin.
Large overhanging trees that were almost blocking navigation have been cut back between Cuton and Stonham’s locks. These trees will receive further works to improve navigation later in the winter.
A number of landing stages have been repaired and/or replaced.
New top and lower gates are planned for replacement over the winter. The timing of this work needs to be co-ordinated with our contractor and notification will follow. The next lock to receive new gates will be Rushes Lock, sometime in 2019.
A dredging project is currently being planned between Beeleigh and Chapmans Bridge. We are currently seeking the necessary permits.
Further substantial work is required to cut back and remove trees from the section between Stonham’s Lock and Cuton Lock.
We are pleased to report that a joint application by Essex Waterways Ltd and Chelmer Canal Trust to Essex & Suffolk Water’s Branch Out fund has resulted in a donation of £4,600 for costs towards Floating Pennywort removal. This work is ongoing and requires continuous vigilance to avoid the invasive weed taking a hold on the Navigation again.
The long awaited final phase of rebuilding Cressy Quay in Springfield Basin should get under way in November.
We are always looking for volunteers to come and help maintain the Navigation. From crewing our new trip boat at Heybridge to cutting grass and hedges or maintaining landing stages a wide variety of jobs await and volunteer roles can be tailored to suit. Please contact the Navigation Manager.
Residential Caretaker Vacancies
There is currently a vacancy for a residential caretaker at Paper Mill Lock.
Residential Caretaker positions come with a residential mooring (with local authority planning permission approved), for which the incumbent is charged the going rate (dependent on boat length). The post-holder is then expected to spend a minimum of 8 hours per week undertaking maintenance and security duties at the moorings area (e.g. grass cutting) for which they receive a modest salary. For more information please contact the Navigation Manager.
Can all customers please be reminded that our mooring agreement requires all boats to have their name displayed on the boat.
A boat owner moored at Sandford Mill has recently reported a break-in to their vessel. Whilst, so far as we know, this is an isolated incident, boat owners are reminded to ensure their vessels are properly secured, and to keep a look-out and to report any suspicious sightings to the Navigation Manager. We also suggest that any valuables are removed from boats when unattended for any significant period.
Lock gate setting
It is most important to ensure that when re-setting lock gates that they are mitred correctly. The mitred faces of the uprights MUST meet correctly in order for the gates to function correctly and safely. It has been noted on numerous occasions that this best practice has not been followed. Should anyone require a lock use refresher, please contact the Navigation Manager to arrange.
Boat owners are politely reminded that they are NOT able to offer their mooring to any potential purchasers. Essex Waterways retains discretion over mooring allocation and upon the sale of any boat the mooring will be offered to existing customers who have already asked to move. This is conditional upon boat dimensions and mooring space available. Any boats ‘sold with moorings’ will not be permitted to stay on any given mooring without the prior consent of the Navigation Manager.
Boaters are politely reminded that mooring stages must not be altered without prior consent from EWL. Please note that it is planned to carry out maintenance and cleaning of mooring stages.
Permanent moorings on the Navigation are almost at current capacity (other than in the marina at Springfield). As above, if you plan to buy or sell a boat please ensure that you contact the Navigation Manager well in advance to facilitate mooring.
Heybridge Basin car parking (IMPORTANT, please read)
Car parking enforcement is now underway at Heybridge Basin. This is being undertaken to protect the boaters’ car parking area from unauthorized parking and to ensure that those who are entitled to park have somewhere to do so. You must visibly display an Essex Waterways car parking permit (old or new version) which must be affixed to the inside of any window in your vehicle. If you do not have a permit, you can obtain one from Grant Everiss at Heybridge Basin or from David Smart at Paper Mill. If you do not display a valid permit correctly you will receive a fixed penalty notice. Essex Waterways is NOT be able to revoke tickets once issued, as the patrols are undertaken, and fines are levied, by a third-party company under a contractual arrangement.
Please remember that the speed limit on the Navigation is 4mph.
Please note that fishing from boats is currently permitted from your mooring but fishing on the bank within 15metres of any mooring is not. This includes the landing stage. The fishing rules can be found in the Maldon Angling Society’s handbook.
Mooring fees 2019
Despite rising costs we have been able to limit our increases to current inflation figures which is in line with IWA’s response to other navigation authorities, some of whom are intending to increase licence fees by up to 10.0%. Our mooring fees will increase by 2.5% with effect from 1st January 2019. Unlike most other waterways, on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation boaters only pay a single mooring fee, rather than a separate licence fee as well as mooring fees. A full schedule of charges will be available on our website from late December.
Most mooring contracts are for periods of five years at a time (subject to a month’s notice from either party), and that the current five year period will come to a conclusion on 31st December 2018, when a new contract for a further five years will be offered. If you wish to retain your current mooring it is important that you sign and return the new contact before 31st December.
Our Socials are at The Galleywood Heritage Centre:
The Galleywood Heritage Centre,
Time: 19:45 for 20:00
Thursday 11th October
Mervyn Linford - The Long Pond to Paper Mill - Chelmer Moods, Blackwater Memories.
Thursday 8th November
Malcolm Case - The History of Navigation at Sea
Thursday 13th December
Christmas Social - Quiz and bring & share finger buffet
Thursday 10th January
Dr Colm Lanigan - The Work of Mercy Ships
Thursday 14th February
John Pomfret - The story of Braunston, canal age transport hub
Thursday 14th March
Chelmsford Branch AGM. Followed by Martin Wade - The work of The Mersea Lifeboats
Thursday 11th April
Athina Beckett - The Buckingham Canal Society
Thursday 9th May – T.B.C.
Seasonal changes in birdlife are notable at Heybridge Basin, with large numbers of waders and wildfowl assembling on the mudflats in the estuary. Highlights are the still summer-plumaged Black Tailed Godwits, newly returned from their breeding Sites in Iceland! Further upriver, kingfisher sightings have increased, with the Paper Mill bird just arriving and preparing to pose for the camera. Swan families have had mixed fortunes with some pairs rearing cygnets while the Paper Mill residents lost both of theirs. Grass snakes have been seen swimming at Sandford and on the down side, mink have also been seen regularly in a few locations.
Send your wildlife sightings to the Navigation Manager, contact details below.
Navigation Manager, David Smart 07966 375351
Heybridge Lockkeeper, Grant Everiss 07712 079764
Moorings Administrator, Christine Walsh 01494 783453 ext 612
Chelmer Cruises, Sue Clift 07507 055021
Administrative Assistant, Sarah Phillips, 01245 226245
Essex Waterways Ltd. Out of hours Emergency No. 07968 020554