2017 Lichfield Branch News

Donation to Lichfield Canal Restoration - November 2017

At the IWA Lichfield Branch meeting on 15th November, Chairman Phil Sharpe was pleased to be able to present a cheque for £1,000 to Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust Chair, Christine Bull.

This represents another good year of fundraising for Lichfield Branch, chiefly from the Sales stand run by Helen Whitehouse and helpers at meetings and at waterway events including Fradley Junction, Moira and Huddlesford.  (Over the past 30 years Lichfield Branch has donated £44,000 to waterway restoration projects, including £23,000 to Lichfield & Hatherton.)

Christine said the donation will be put towards their Tunnel Vision Appeal for the Lichfield Canal, which needs to raise £1m by early 2019 to fund a tunnel for the canal under the railway in Lichfield.  The appeal has already raised £400,000 since its launch and IWA is pleased to be able to support this vital project to help secure the continuing restoration of the canal.

For further details visit: http://www.lhcrt.org.uk/suchet.htm

Ongoing Work Parties over the Winter – November 2017 to March 2018
Offside Vegetation Clearance on the Trent & Mersey Canal

We have been invited by CRT to join in their project of offside vegetation clearance during the winter months. This will take place from Great Haywood down to Rugeley (and beyond if possible).

CRT are providing a workboat with welfare facilities, all training, health and safety requirements, Personal Protective Equipment, and their insurance will cover the work. For anyone travelling a distance to training, then travel expenses can be claimed.

Each work party will have a:
Wood Chipper
Pole Pruner
One other
(one of the workers will be a CRT employee)

This is a new venture for CRT, their ‘normal’ volunteers and us. It is a project which is well worth doing but we probably all need to be a bit flexible till we get used to it.

CRT volunteers will probably cover 2 days a week (penciled in as Monday and Wednesday). Our plan at the moment is that IWA will do some Fridays - the frequency will depend on availability of our volunteers and the weather. As time goes on it may well be that we fill in on other days (or CRT volunteers or staff fill in on our Fridays).

There is no commitment on anyone’s part to do work on a weekly basis, but it is only fair to CRT to make a commitment of at least 3 days over the winter months as they are paying for training etc.
Initially we need to organise training:

Wood Chipper Training - this is a one-day course (probably at Fradley Junction) and a mix of classroom and practical work.

Pole Pruning - this is essentially a chainsaw up a pole and therefore needs one-day training plus one-day assessment. Please note that this job is NOT SUITABLE FOR ANYONE WITH A BAD BACK.

Helmsman/woman - anyone with a helmsman certificate should be able to steer the boat. However, if you have experience of boat handling but no certificate CRT are prepared to do ‘on job’ assessment of your boat handling and if that is ok you will be signed off to steer.
At the moment there is no plan to offer boat handling training.


Margaret Beardsmore

Volunteer Coordinator
IWA Lichfield Branch

Email:  margaret.beardsmore@waterways.org.uk

Tel:  07581 794111  (but note that if ringing before the 23rd October I am in Spain so will only get calls on my mobile and it might cost you money !)

HS2 High Speed Rail Update - July 2017

On 17th July 2017 the Secretary of State issued a very large number of HS2 documents including:

Phase 1 – Design & Pre-Construction Contracts award decisions

Phase 2 – Strategic, Economic & Commercial Case documents, etc.

Phase 2a - Deposit of Bill with Environmental Statement, Plans, Design Refinement Decisions, etc.

Phase 2b – Route Refinement Decisions & Maps, Route Engineering Reports, Safeguarding Maps, etc.

In Lichfield Branch area, significant changes affecting waterways since the last consultations on Phase 2a in September and on 2b in November 2016 include:

Phase 2a Fradley to Crewe

At Fradley, noise fence barriers across the Phase 1 Trent & Mersey Canal Viaduct are now shown as up to 2m high on both sides, which will help protect the moorings by Fradley Wood above Shadehouse Lock.  However, our requested extension of the fencing onto the adjacent embankments, here and as a general case, to prevent noise “spill over” around the ends of the bridge has so far been ignored and will need to be repeated.

North of Fradley removal of the maintenance loops from Pipe Ridware to near Stone and ‘other design requirements’ have resulted in changes to the vertical alignment across the Trent valley.  The height of the embankment immediately north of Fradley has been reduced, which will help limit the visual and noise impact on the Trent & Mersey Canal between Wood End and Kings Bromley Wharf, with a 2m noise barrier on the section nearest Kings Bromley Marina (about 0.8km away).

At Great Haywood our previous representations have had some effect and noise fencing across the viaduct has been extended and raised, from 1 to 2m on the north side and from 2 to 4m on the south side adjoining the marina, but we will continue to press for further improvements.  The height of the viaduct has been marginally reduced but at 15.4m is still higher than should be necessary.  It has been confirmed that access beneath the viaduct to the amenity area and parking will be reinstated on completion, but the viaduct construction will take over 3 years.

The main construction compound just across the existing railway from Hoo Mill Basin will be operational for 6 years from 2021, with major road traffic and construction noise impacts in the area throughout that period.  The viaduct is to be built and slid across the valley from a ‘launching yard’ east of the railway and visualisations show a very thick concrete structure dominating views from the marina and along the canal.  The construction period in particular will have a damaging impact on the business prospects of the marina and its associated farm shop and café.

Phase 2b East – Marston to Leeds

At Measham the unexpected decision not to proceed with the 2016 consultation route east of Measham removes the major problem of conflicting levels which would most likely have required diversion of the Ashby Canal from the TWA restoration route.  But reversion to a route west of Measham, modified by moving 80m east to avoid the Plastic Omnium factory, will have a major impact on the approved housing development that was set to fund and provide a significant length of new canal along the old railway and restored canal into Measham Wharf.  The new HS2 alignment will cut through the housing site and isolate a further area between HS2 and the A42.  This may render the whole site untenable and lead to total loss of the funding for the canal.  At best, it will halve the developable area and reduce the length of canal that can be provided

No doubt the housing developer will make a substantial compensation claim for this, and it is vital that any settlement includes compensatory payment to fund the originally agreed canal infrastructure.  The plan shows the viaduct over the Mease finishing just across Burton Road with an embankment across the projected canal line.  But the track level is about 99m compared with canal water level of 92.35m which will give ample headroom for a canal bridge or extended viaduct, provided that HS2 can be persuaded to provide this.

Other Phase 2b changes

Beyond Lichfield Branch, other changes to Phase 2b affecting waterways include confirmation of the revised eastern route through Yorkshire, removing the main threat to the Chesterfield Canal, although details of the crossing at Norwood and the Staveley Depot spur remain to be resolved.  Near Leeds a new site for a Rolling Stock Depot with an extra bridge over the Aire & Calder Navigation is being consulted on.


IWA will be responding to consultations on the Phase 2a Environmental Statement and the Phase 2b Eastern Leg Rolling Stock Depot before their respective deadlines of 30 September and 12 October.

National Trailboat Festival at Moira - Saturday & Sunday 27-28th May 2017

National Trailboat Festival at Moira - Ashby Canal and Moira FurnaceNational Trailboat Festival at Moira - boats and canoesNational Trailboat Festival at Moira - IWA standThe IWA National Trailboat Festival was held this year in combination with the annual Moira Canal Festival on the restored but isolated section of the Ashby Canal at Moira.  This is the 17th Canal Festival held here in the grounds of the historic Moira Furnace and this well organised and popular local event was boosted by a large attendance of trailboats from all round the country.

As well as processions of boats along the canal there were canoes and paddleboards, with training sessions for children, boat trips on the 'Joseph Wilkes', and a duck race to enliven this usually tranquil section of canal.

Land based transport included a steam roller and miniature steam railway, historic stationary engines and classic cars, whilst in the air there were model aircraft and a 'Battle of Britain' flypast of a Hurricane and Spitfire.

Other warlike activities were the explosive cannon shots from the Coldstream Guards 1815 re-enactors, whilst more melodic sounds came from the various bands performing around the site.

Lots of children's entertainment and a wide variety of stands and stalls vied for attention at this family friendly event which was blessed with pretty good weather this year, especially on the Sunday.

Lichfield Branch members manned the IWA stand with a good selection of sales items, display boards and recruitment material, and fielded a steady succesion of questions from people wanting to learn more about the canals in general, the Ashby Canal restoration in particular, or opportunities for getting afloat.  On the Sunday we also hosted the Festival awards ceremony to round off a very successful and enjoyable weekend.

(Report and photos by Phil Sharpe)

We need a new Treasurer - Can you help?

Our long serving Treasurer, Barbara Hodgson retired at the AGM in March and Lichfield Branch needs someone to help us with this vital role.

The job is not onerous, and every assistance will be given by Barbara in handing over the accounts with the software to maintain them and advice on how it all works.

IWA is a charity and depends on volunteers to help us protect and promote the waterways.  We are a friendly bunch who enjoy what we do in arranging activities for our members and raising funds to support waterway restorations.

But for our Branch to continue functioning effectively we need somebody to bank cash donations collected at our public meetings, walks and occasional other events, to write cheques for room hire, speakers’ expenses and our donations to waterway causes, and to provide a monthly summary for the committee, a quarterly return for Head Office and an annual report for the AGM.

Barbara estimates that on average this takes about 2 hours a week, and most of it can be done at times to suit the Treasurer.

As a committee officer post, it will help if you can attend our monthly committee meetings, which are currently held on a Thursday afternoon in Rugeley, but can revert to evenings if more convenient and/or another venue within the Branch.

So if you have some experience of doing the accounts for small organisations or are willing to learn and have some time available to help IWA, we would very much welcome your call or email.

For further information contact our Chairman Denise Bending on 01283 761971 or denise.bending@waterways.org.uk or our ex-Treasurer Barbara Hodgson on 01785 716806 or barbara.hodgson@waterways.org.uk

We do hope you can help us to keep IWA’s Lichfield Branch as one of the best branches in the country.

Other opportunities

If finance isn’t your forte but you are able to help in other ways, we are also looking for someone to take on the role of Secretary, and would like to strengthen our committee generally with more members able to help out with individual events.  See under Lichfield Branch in the Volunteering Directory.

HS2 High Speed Rail Update - April 2017

IWA continues its campaign to get full navigation provision and better noise protection for all the affected waterways and their users, working closely with CRT and the local canal societies and trusts.

Phase 1 London to Birmingham and Handsacre

The House of Lords Select Committee report was published on 15 December, but disappointingly made no reference to IWA’s evidence on noise mitigation and Wood End Lane.  The committee stage and the final votes in both houses were largely formalities and no significant changes were made before Royal Assent to the Bill was granted on 23 February.  Various surveys, ground investigations and enabling works are now due to start in the Spring although there is no firm date yet for the construction works.

Community Drop-In Event

Anyone wanting to learn more about preliminary works in the Armitage and Handsacre area, and construction of the Handsacre Link, can attend an HS2 Community Drop-In Event at Armitage Village Hall on Thursday 13th April between 3 pm and 7 pm.  A Phase 2a representative will also be present to answer questions about the continuation of the route north of Fradley Junction.  Similar events for other affected areas are expected to be arranged shortly.

Phase 2b Kingsbury to Leeds and Crewe to Manchester

The Phase 2b Design Refinement consultation was announced in November and a summary of how the route changes affected various waterways was given in our last report in November (see 2016 News).

In Lichfield Branch area these are the Coventry and Ashby canals.

The Coventry Canal crossing at Polesworth is unchanged and will be on a 10m high viaduct across the moorings in the old colliery basin, with the line cutting through the middle of Pooley Country Park.

The Ashby Canal crossing at Measham has been moved from near the A42 to the other side of the town.  This will enable a stalled housing site to go ahead which includes reconstruction of the canal arm into Measham Wharf.  However, the new crossing of the restoration route is at entirely the wrong level for the canal.

The canal restoration route authorised by the 2005 Transport & Works Act Order partly follows the old railway line and is crossed by the new HS2 route just north of the brickworks, where the track level is about 2.7m below water level.  To change the canal level here to accommodate the railway would need it to be raised or lowered by nearly 7 metres to provide the necessary clearances, which is equivalent to 2 or 3 conventional locks.  But locking up and down again to a very short summit on an aqueduct, or alternatively locking down and up again to tunnel under the railway, would clearly both be totally impractical.  Not only would this be expensive to build, maintain and operate, with large pumps required to supply water to the summit or drain the sump, but after the initial novelty value had worn off it would be seen as a major navigational barrier to boaters and discourage them continuing into Measham, which is the main purpose of the restoration.

The alternative of lowering HS2 by about 7m would conflict with the Atherstone Road crossing and possibly the River Mease SAC.  The better option for the canal would be to raise HS2 by the 7m, which would reinstate the vertical alignment of the route considered in 2012 but presumably rejected because of its impacts on nearby housing, more of which has since been built, so this would not be acceptable locally.

A possible compromise is to divert the canal route into higher ground to the northeast to pass under HS2 where its level is higher and it would not have to be raised as much.  But to gain the full height necessary to maintain the canal level would require the diversion to go beyond the Bosworth Road, which would need additional bridges as well as the deep cuttings, and the proximity of HS2 to Measham Cemetery means the railway would also need to be moved laterally.

Another alternative would be to move the HS2 route further eastwards, south of the brickworks and further away from the Measham properties, where its level could be more easily changed to bridge the canal route, although there are wider implications of such a horizontal realignment.

The present proposal fails to allow for the continuing Ashby Canal restoration and is therefore completely unacceptable.  Whatever solution is eventually agreed, IWA will insist that any extra cost to the canal restoration project must be covered by HS2 Ltd., as is being done for the Lichfield Canal at Cappers Lane.  IWA will continue working with the Ashby Canal Trust and Association, CRT and Leicestershire County Council to help resolve this.

IWA’s full national response was submitted in March and the text can be seen here.