Photo: Pleasure Cruiser Victoria
The Inland Waterways Association's subsidiary company Essex Waterways Ltd took over the management of the Navigation on 14th November 2005, following negotiations with the Company of Proprietors and the joint administrators of the Company. The arrangement provided that IWA undertook day-to-day responsibilities for the Navigation, as well as assuming responsibility for all income and expenditure relating to it, although the freehold ownership of the waterway remains with the Navigation Company.
In particular, IWA took on responsibilities for licensing boats to use the navigation, for moorings, for operating the sea lock at Heybridge and associated services, for looking after the willow trees along the navigation - which provide a source of income through timber sales for cricket bats - and general maintenance of the navigation, its structures, the towpath, water supplies, waterside furniture and operating mechanisms. IWA also looks after the lock cottage at Heybridge, the Company's small office at Paper Mill Lock (near Little Baddow), facilities for boaters at Springfield (Chelmsford), Paper Mill Lock, Sandford, Hoe Mill and Heybridge, and the company's former maintenance vessels, motor vehicles, plant and equipment.
The tearooms at Paper Mill Lock, the Old Ship public house at Heybridge and trip-barge Victoria were all sold by the administrator. Lock cottages at Paper Mill Lock, Hoe Mill Lock and Sandford Lock were also sold by the administrator, along with some other pieces of land that were outside the core-navigation assets. The proceeds from these sales were used to help clear debts to the Company's creditors.
IWA's agreement to manage the navigation was for an initial period of ten years, and then renewable for further periods of ten years, at IWA's option, in perpetuity. The Navigation is being managed through the Association's subsidiary company so as to keep the undertaking separate from the Association's main charitable work. Essex Waterways Limited is wholly owned by the Association. The operation needs to break-even, after taking into account any fundraising for the Navigation undertaken by the Association. A series of safeguards were built into the agreement to protect the Association in the event that these arrangements fail for any reason. IWA did not take on any liability for the Company's debts or any commitments incurred before November 2005.