With hours to spare, the first boat cruised through Staveley Town Lock ahead of IWA’s Trailboat Festival. The event, which took place over the Bank Holiday Weekend, was combined with the Chesterfield Canal Trust's annual Festival to promote the restoration of the Chesterfield Canal.
Photo: First boat through Staveley Town Lock with CCT volunteers
The opening of the lock was the culmination of a massive effort by volunteers from Chesterfield Canal Trust and IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group, to finish building the lock and a further 300 yards of canal beyond it.Since 2011 WRG volunteers have contributed over 10,000 hours towards the restoration of Staveley Town Basin, helping with block laying, putting in footings and assisting with many concrete pours.
During the festival boats gave trips through the newly opened lock. Dozens of trailboats and thousands of visitors attended the event, which also featured illuminated boats, canoeing and WRG’s learn to bricklay and digger driving experiences for the navvies of the future.
Photos: Top - Working on the lower basin and bottom - laying concrete blocks.
1st-12th June is Volunteers' Week, which is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution volunteers make across the UK. As a volunteer-led charity, IWA relies on the enthusiasm and support of members and volunteers who help protect and restore our wonderful waterways.
We are incredibly thankful for the support of hundreds of volunteers across the country who organise campaigns, lobby government, rebuild locks, dig canals, clear litter and vegetation from canals, paint, cook, organise meetings and events, plan festivals, write and edit content, design printed material, monitor planning applications, chair committees, raise funds, take on challenges, represented IWA and much more.
We asked some of our fantastic volunteers why they get involved...
The Festival, organised by IWA's Chester & Merseyside Branch, is going to be a unique event for the award winning Eldonian Village. With Leeds & Liverpool Canal short boats, “Shreck” the boat horse, Mersey convoys to get there and nearly 100 visiting craft it will be a weekend to remember.
1968 saw the IWA National Rally held on the very same site to campaign for the arm down into Liverpool to be kept open and IWA are still campaigning, nearly 50 years later, aiming to improve facilities for boaters making the journey down into the docks as well as encouraging CRT to increase the numbers of craft that can navigate the link. That aim has already been achieved with CRT recently announcing that they intend to double the numbers passing through the Liverpool Link locks – so a good start. It is also hoped to leave a legacy of new moorings rings and interpretation boards as well as updated sanitary facilities although it may take a little longer for these legacies to be put in place.
As well as live music by brass bands and country & western groups, the Festival will also have the local school performing for the visitors, doing a dance routine and also an Old Time Music Hall number in full fancy dress. With children’s WOW activities, a free trip boat and “Get Afloat” activities using canoes, it should be a great weekend for all the visitors – showing the local community and all visitors what a difference a vibrant and functioning canal can make to an area.
Eldonian Village is a special place – in the early 70’s the local community were due to be rehoused out at Kirby New Town, way outside Liverpool. They objected, received a grant and formed a Housing Association – building a few small houses at a time. Now they have hundreds of them in a universally admired village style community. They have won Unesco Awards for their forward thinking and the great and the good (including Prince Charles and Gordon Brown) have visited to get ideas on how to regenerate cities in a way that meets the needs of the local people.
Come to the Festival and see Eldonian as well as having a great weekend with waterways colleagues. For more information and opening times as well as a list of all the entertainment and music take a look at our Eldonian Village Festival pages.
Following on from the report in the last issue of Bulletin about Thames sailing barge Gladys wintering at Heybridge Basin on IWA's Essex Waterways here is some history of the vessel. Sailing barges were the lorry of their day, plying their trade more often than not, within the relative comfort of the Thames Estuary. Some barges ventured further afield around the country, to Ireland and across to the continent, they were usually built to order and had specific trade in mind. Gladys was built for the grain trade, she carried wheat from Tilbury docks to Ipswich where the milling firm Cranfields turned the grain to flour. She was initially built for a subcontract firm called Whitmores who operated the barge exclusively for Cranfields. She was built in 1901 by Canns of Harwich and named Gladys after one of the daughters of Whitmore.
Photo: Thames Sailing Barge Gladys in Heybridge Basin
Within a few years she was bought by Cranfields and operated by themselves (along with other barges). She ploughed this lonely furrow under sail until 1953 when she had her first engine fitted, gradually becoming a motor barge. In the early 70’s Cranfields was bought out by Allied Mills, part of the Weston group of companies. On inspection of the books by the accountants it was discovered that they had not only bought the Mill but had inadvertently bought two sailing barges! Gary Weston, the then CEO decided to have Gladys converted to become his yacht and used her for holidays. She went to the Channel Island and Holland, with a motor launch in attendance at a discreet distance in way of a lifeboat should anything go wrong! It didn’t. Underused, she was taken to London and used to wine and dine the great and the good, what is now termed corporate entertainment.
To this day she still carries a ‘cargo’ of people on private business trips, typically four hour evening cruises down through the opening Tower bridge to Woolwich and back up to London Bridge City Pier. She made the headlines across the world in 1998 when the then President Clinton's motorcade was split either side of Tower Bridge when Gladys came through leaving security one side and the Clintons on the other. “Gladys waits for no Man” was the headline in the Times! Gladys can proudly boast as being the last and only barge to still be involved with the waterway for which she was built, albeit with a different but an arguably more demanding cargo!
To view a video about Essex Waterways and Heybridge Basin click here.
After discussions with IWA's local branches, the developer Black Hawk Ltd has agreed to provide visitor moorings, as well as offering long term moorings for boats cruising the river Soar, at their Mountsorrel Staithe development.
The mooring basin is accessed via a short navigation channel on the non-towpath side from the river Soar between Bridge 25 (the 1860 Bridge) and the narrow footbridge a little further downstream. The basin forms part of a very attractive housing development and there is pedestrian access to Mountsorrel Town Centre. Mooring rings are provided along a stone quayside, with 2 water taps. With a maximum boat width 9 foot 10 inches the berths are ideally suited for boats less than 57 foot long, but can accommodate 1 or 2 full length narrow boats.
If you are interested in using these moorings contact Black Hawk Ltd or phone 01509 425001.
Photos: Brand new moorings at Mountsorrel Staithe
IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group has produced a new video which will be shown to all volunteers attending their week-long Canal Camp working holidays. The WRG Health & Safety Video was filmed on the Grantham and Cotswold canals and features WRG volunteers demonstrating various elements of site health and safety.
The video, which was launched at WRG’s recent Leaders Training Day, is intended as an introduction to site safety and contains important information that all volunteers need to know before going on site. It covers topics such as using the right tool for the right job, keeping a tidy site, safety clothing and equipment, vehicles and plant, working at height, reporting accidents and near misses, working near water and using hazardous materials. Full training and briefings about specific sites, projects and individual tasks will be given during the canal camps.
Mike Palmer MBE, Chairman of WRG, said “Canal restoration is really rewarding, but sites can be dangerous places to work, even for experienced volunteers. This video aims to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all volunteers.”
IWA Lichfield Branch is planning a visit to the Cromford Canal, Arkwright's Mill and Leawood Pumphouse on Sunday 7th August. This will include a trip on one of the few horse-drawn passenger boats, a visit to the steam-powered beam engine that pumped water from the River Derwent into the canal, and a tour of the world’s first water-powered cotton mill.
The trip will start at Arkwright’s Mill at Cromford giving time to have a tour of the mill and see the machinery demonstration in the Weaving Shed. There is a café at the mill and another at the canal wharf where lunch can be purchased or visitors could bring their own and have a picnic at the wharf.
The horse drawn boat will depart from Cromford Wharf going to Leawood Pumphouse where the engine will be operating in steam. A short walk away, the Wharf Shed at High Peak Junction (terminus of the Cromford & High Peak Railway) can also be visited. Payment must be made to the branch by 25th June to secure a place.
For details and booking please email the branch or phone 01283 7161971.
Following queries and concerns expressed by IWA and HNBC (the Historic Narrow Boat Club) members, the organisations undertook a joint survey of winding facilities on CRT waterways in 2014. The findings, although highlighting many shortcomings at these locations, notably excess ‘veg’ and not enough of ‘dredge’, also showed an even greater confusion around the status of many sites. For example were they official, unofficial, permissive or private? The confusion was further increased when it was found that in ‘Nicholsons’ the locations of the winding hole arrows sometimes not only changed from one edition to the next, but also sometimes differed from those shown on the waterway maps on CRT's website for each canal.
In a perverse way it was heartening to find that when the subject was broached with CRT, it was also not 100% sure of their data – because this has now led to a joint wish to ‘sort the whole thing out’. And so, for the last few months, branch and region officers have been working with local waterway managements to improve their database of at least their official / traditional winding holes.
According to CRT's asset register, CRT considers two types of location where boats may be turned. A traditional ‘triangular notch’ in the off-side bank is categorised as an ‘064’ (whereas an ‘098’ is defined as “another location where boats may turn” – eg. junction, arm, basin or ‘wide’ etc). CRT has on record in excess of 500 ’064’s’ – whereas the surveys only showed up problems at just over 100. Obviously this statistic does not necessarily mean that around 80% of CRT's official locations are OK because, in general, members only recorded problems at the winding holes that they used - and boaters all invariably cruise past many more than those where they turn.
CRT is now keen to build on the data that has been provided with a more comprehensive survey open to all boaters. IWA would therefore encourage all boaters to contribute to this survey wherever they are in the country. If the cruising schedule allows please don’t just cruise past a winding hole, do a ‘double turn’ (after all the silting could be asymmetric). Go on - ‘give it a whirl’ !
See CRT’s blog for more details and the latest data sheet. Encourage as many boaters as you can to participate - there are over 500 winding holes to survey before September!
Photos: A Variety of Signs for Winding Holes
A new 24km waterway park between the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes and the River Great Ouse has edged a step closer to delivery as a new strategy for the project has been launched by a consortium known as The Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Consortium. It is suggested the new waterway will transform the region, bringing not only economic, environmental and social benefits, but also improved flood prevention and waterway management.
Providing a broad beam route across the country, a new brochure specially commissioned by the Consortium emphasises the positive impact on the area and shows how the project will boost tourism. The brochure and business plan were launched on Thursday 26th May at the B&MK Partnership Conference.
To take a look at the documents, go through to the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust website.
Over the week 10th to 17th May, Lichfield Canal volunteers began the long planned for task of removing the ‘Big Pipe’, which has been obstructing the process of lining a long section of the canal bed. The large concrete pipe was originally installed in the bed of the old canal when it was abandoned and infilled in the 1960s to take residual water flow and urban run-off from the south of Lichfield. Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust volunteers have had to work around the pipe, laying a concrete bed in anticipation of rewatering Pound 27 at Tamworth Road.
Now that work, along with laying a concrete blanket to protect the bank and puddled clay to seal the wall and bed joint, can be completed after consent was given to remove the pipe. The Trust’s Engineering Director Peter Buck said: “Trust officers and our consultants have worked tirelessly for the last three years to agree the necessary provisions for water to pass through this canal site and to get approvals to proceed, and even with this consent in place to remove the big pipe, we are still in ongoing negotiations with the Environment Agency on the issue of impounding water in this section." This great achievement is a significant milestone in the restoration of this section of the Lichfield Canal and, with its removal the Trust volunteers can now progress the remaining canal lining along the bed of the canal which has been prevented by the pipe being in the way. Finning CAT, the international construction plant company based in Cannock, kindly offered to provide the Telehandler for the removal of the pipe.
Photo: The ‘Big Pipe’ which has been obstructing progress on lining Pound 27 at Tamworth Road, Lichfield
Photo: The Finning CAT Telehandler in action
CRT has launched a new set of awards to mark the 200th anniversary of Britain’s longest single man-made waterway. Nominations are invited for these special prizes to recognise the best environment, education and conservation projects, the most dedicated volunteers and enterprising businesses.
CRT is also introducing inaugural awards for two categories which will continue to be presented annually – the Waterway Manager’s Outstanding Contribution Award and the Waterway Partnership Chair’s Award, open to groups and individuals who work in the community. The closing date for nominations is 12th August.
Photo: CRT North West Waterway manager Chantelle Seaborn and partnership chairman Bob Pointing launching the Leeds & Liverpool Canal special Bicentenary Awards.
Awards will be presented for:
1. Natural Environment
2. Education and Learning
3. Culture and Heritage
4. Young Volunteer of the Year (under 25 years)
5. Volunteer of the Year
7. Outstanding Contribution (Waterway Manager’s award)
8. Waterway Partnership Chair’s Award
The Blyth Navigation in Suffolk may not have seen freight since the end of the 19th century but on Friday 27th May an intrepid canoeist made the journey from Halesworth to Southwold carrying a cargo of malt.
Gerald Burns undertook this journey to raise funds towards the restoration of New Reach, a stretch of this waterway which is part of Suffolk's industrial heritage. Halesworth owed its wealth to the malting trade, using the Blyth Navigation to transport grain and malt to developing markets via coastal shipping. The waterway was opened in 1761 and allowed goods to be moved from Halesworth to Southwold in two days, navigating five locks.
Gerald set off from Patrick Stead Lock in Halesworth at 9.30am. Despite a herd of cows, dense reeds beds and an incoming tide, he delivered his sack of malt to Adnams Brewery in Southwold Quay by 5.00pm.
Photo: From Wenhaston Archive - Bulcamp Lock
Photo: Gerald Burns preparing for his voyage down the Blyth Navigation.
For further details about this project email the contact at New Reach.
A giant suspension bridge next to the M60 Barton Bridge collapsed on the morning of Monday 16th May, blocking the Manchester Ship Canal upstream from the high level bridge. As reported in Bulletin on 11th February 2016, this construction was to create a new dual carriageway over the Manchester Ship Canal to relieve congestion. Work started last year to create this lifting bridge which, when complete, would be the widest one of its kind in the country. Fortunately no one was hurt when the deck crashed according to witnesses when the suspension cables snapped, but initial reports suggest that there is substantial damage to the deck, warps and towers.
According to the Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, there was one ship inland of the collapse - Arklow Vale (5100 deadweight tonnage) a modern vessel launched only last year. She arrived at European Metal Recycling Ltd's Irlam Park Wharf at Eccles, Manchester, about 0100h on 15th May, to load scrap metal then was due to depart for Santander. The wharf is about 750 metres inland of Barton Swing Aqueduct. Traffic regularly working upstream of the collapse are scrap metal (outwards) from Irwell Park Wharf and cement inwards to Weaste Wharf, Salford. The contractor (Hochtief UK) will have the responsibility of clearing the blockage to allow the stranded vessel to continue its journey and traffic to return to normal.
IWA hopes the contractors will be able to clear the blockage quickly in order to minimise the impact on shipping.
The following IWA region and branch magazines have been added to the website since the last edition of the Bulletin:
South East Region - Cargoes
Chester & Merseyside - Chester Packet
Northampton Branch - Endeavour
North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch - Knobsticks
South Yorks & Dukeries - Keels & Cuckoos
9th July - Cruise around Olympic Waterways - Email for details
Have you got a waterway event or activity to promote? - Anyone can add details of a waterways event or activity to this area on the website. You don’t even need to register with the website or provide any sort of password. Simply use the upload event form.
4th June Work Party - Chelmer & Blackwater (Essex WRG)
4th June Work Party - Burslem Arm (IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
5th June River Don - Himalayan Balsam Bash (IWA South Yorks & Dukeries)
8th June Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
8th June Work Party - Staffs & Worcester (IWA Birmingham Branch)
9th June Work Party - Uttoxeter (IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
11th June Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
15th June Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
22nd June Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
29th June Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
10th July Himalayan Balsam Bash - Warwick (IWA Warwickshire Branch)
To advertise your restoration/cleanup events in the bulletin please add details to IWA's events calendar
5th June Waterside Walk - Grand Junction & Regent's Canals (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
3rd July Waterside Walk - Regent's Canal (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
9th July Waterside Walk - The Olympics, Three Mills & Bow Back Rivers (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
13th July Waterside Walk & Picnic - River Avon (IWA Warwickshire Branch)
17th July Waterside Walk - The Olympics, Three Mills & Bow Back Rivers (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
To advertise your towpath walks in the Bulletin, please add details to IWA's events calendar
The following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members:
ABC Boat Hire - 15% discount on holidays
Airedale Cruising - 10% discount off skippered day cruises
Blackwater Boats - 10% discount off boat trips
CanalCruising.co.uk - 10% discount
Canal Boat Magazine - 12 issues for £21.99 + Gourmet Society Plus
City Centre Cruises - 10% discount for Sunday lunch cruises
Frangipani SUP Ltd - 10% discount
Jenny Wren- 10% discount off cruises
Middlewich Narrowboats - 25% discount off hire price of Willow
Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd- 10% discount on published prices
Kings Lock Tearooms- 10% discount off food
Ring 'O Bells Pub - 10% discount off food
The Fingerpost Pub & Restaurant - 10% discount off food
The Bounty Pub - 10% discount off food
The Three Locks Pub - 10% discount off food
The Wharf Pub - 10% discount
Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
Boat Windows Ltd - 5% discount
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channel Glaze - 10% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
IceGripper - Special offer on ladies walking boots
Marine Mega Store Ltd - 15% discount
Midland Chandlers - 5% discount
RoadPro- 5% discount
Solar Technology International- 10% discount on PV Logic Narrow Boat Kits & Foldup Panels
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard
Zead - Free Postage & Accessories
Europcar - Special hire rates to IWA members
Forge Studio - 10% discount
I Love Meet and Greet Ltd - 15% discount
Lee Sanitation - 10% on orders over £100
Paper Wizard - 15% discount
River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
Wavetrain Marine - 5% discount on selected training
Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.
To see details of how to take advantage of these offers, please go to the IWA Members discount page.
For IWA members who receive a printed copy of this bulletin in the post, please contact the membership team on 01494 783453 for the details of the offers.
Members can also support IWA with a Narrow Boat magazine subscription
IWA has an arrangement with insurers Navigators & General and River Canal Rescue that provides top quality boat insurance and access to the basic waterway rescue service for boat owners, with the added benefit that every policy taken out and subsequently renewed helps IWA, and thus furthers our charitable work for the waterways.
See more information about the IWA insurance scheme for boaters