IWA Bulletin - 23rd August 2017

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EA Waterway is Not Fit for Purpose

Yet again IWA campaigners have very clearly shown that a waterway under the responsibility of EA is not fully navigable despite it being a statutory navigation.  On 16th July 2017,  the cruiser Marie II with Lois and Roy Parker and narrow boat Olive Emily with Richard Bramley, Eddy Edwards and John Revell successfully navigated the Old Bedford River from the tidal river at Salters Lode to the current head of navigation, Welches Dam lock, a distance of 14 miles.  The two boats returned by the same route as non tidal access to the Old Bedford ended 11 years ago when EA piled the entrance to Welches Dam lock in 2006.

This was the second successful cruise in 2017 of this historic waterway first opened in 1637.  Thanks are due to EA staff who made this trip a success and the Middle Level Lock keeper who operated the Old Bedford sluice and guillotine for all their help.  The Old Bedford River is a statutory navigation controlled and managed by EA.  On this occasion the proposed dates had been fixed well in advance with EA (Waterways) who had then consulted other parts of EA.  EA (Water Resources) had asked the local Middle Level Commissioners lock keeper to put more water into the non tidal river which made the normally tricky access from the narrow tidal stream much easier.  But, unexpectedly, EA (Waterways) asked for the whole cruise to be called off or delayed until October - a similar request for delay had occurred prior to the previous campaign trip in April 2017, albeit for a different reason and with rather more notice.   On this occasion EA (Waterways) cited concerns from EA (Fisheries) about  low dissolved oxygen from "wind blown accumulations of decaying algae" in one section of the river.  EA (Fisheries) were of the opinion that navigating through this in the two boats might give rise to a "significant risk of an environmental (fish distress / kill) incident."  Following discussions with David Venn, Chairman of  IWA Peterborough Branch, the hardy boaters decided that a proportionate response to this concern would be to continue the planned trip and assess the situation when they reached there as the problem appeared to be very localised around the village of Welney.   EA had known about the accumulations of decaying algae for some time and any steps they might have taken to improve the situation had proved largely unsuccessful.  Other navigation authorities might have used weed boats to physically remove the material but the next scheduled weed cut was not until October, four months later as part of EA's (Flood Defence) budget.   The boaters were told (confirmed by an eye witness)  that EA (Fisheries) had themselves used a small boat with an outboard to take the oxygen measurements in this area on 13 July.

As the boats approached Welney the crews found a short stretch of foul smelling, floating rotting material.  They were met by two helpful staff from EA (Waterways) team and it was decided that the narrow boat could proceed very slowly and cautiously along the middle of the channel under their close supervision. The cruiser was stuck (see photograph) and so it was pulled through the weed by ropes from the narrow boat again under EA's close watch.  Having successfully navigated this localised section of river at Welney to everyone's satisfaction they continued without difficulty to their destination, passing the cheery local eel catcher hard at work accompanied by the equally cheery dogs sharing his small outboard driven boat.  Subsequent tests at Welney by EA after the passage and return of the two craft showed minimal effect on oxygen levels.

Reaching Welches Dam lock was a bittersweet occasion.  It is an attractive location with a fine lock side cottage close to the extensive RSPB Ouse Washes nature reserve. The residents in the cottage were delighted to see the boats.   What a shame that EA stanked off the lock in 2006. Although EA claimed at the time that piling the entrance to the lock was to prevent water leakage through the gates, this is misleading.  The piles do not extend across the full face of the lock entrance leaving a gap of about five feet, which just stops boats using the lock.  

Restoring Welches Dam lock to full navigation would not be rocket science nor would restoring the short distance of Horseways channel which connects the Old Bedford to the Middle Level and then to the rest of the system. A single lock needs to be lengthened and modernised, something CRT and IWA's WRG do all the time.  The short section of Horseways Channel needs to be re-lined to prevent leaks.

Discussions continue at national and local level to make progress but with little success and many will have read of the extraordinary development of EA issuing a formal emergency closure of this lock back dated to July 1, 2006 with a footnote added  "created on May 2, 2017".  The Old Bedford River is not a dead-end waterway leading nowhere but part of a long-established route connecting the Middle Level and the rest of the canal and river system.  It needs to be restored to full navigation then it would make an interesting cruising ring. It has been navigable since 1637, well before the main canal era started, it is a statutory navigation and it needs to be maintained. 

IWA believes that responsibility for navigation matters on rivers currently managed by EA should be transferred to CRT.  No one would claim CRT is perfect but a major advantage is that CRT has the ability to raise funds and invest with far more flexibility and speed than EA can achieve with its multi functional systems, competing and, at times, conflicting priorities and complex organisation.   Waiting four months for another part of EA to clear an obvious obstruction to navigation and general environmental hazard is not in anyone's interest, least of all the residents of Welney and those who walk, fish, collect eels, and occasionally boat along the river.

IWA members and other interested parties are urged to write to their MP to express their views on this situation.  Go to IWA's EA Transfer Campaigns page for more information and how to take action. 

obrweedPhoto by John Revell:  Marie II stuck in floating weed and algae

welchesdamlockPhoto by Eddy Edwards:  Marie II and Olive Emily at Welches Dam lock

IWA's Festival of Water at Ilkeston

Erewash Canal is obviously the place to be over the August Bank Holiday weekend for IWA's National Festival of Water.  As well as all the activities going on at Ilkeston (see IWA's Mid August Bulletin) there are attractions like the D H Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Bennerley Viaduct, Trowell March, Sandiacre Lock Cottages, Trent Lock, Erewash Museum and the Great Northern Basin in the Erewash area.  For fans of historic boats there will be an array of working boats - Fulbourne, Kew, Purton, Pavo, Skylark and Stewart and lloyds Tug No 2. 

fulbournePhoto by Tim Lewis:  Historic narrow boat Fulbourne can be seen at Ilkeston on August Bank Holiday weekend

There will be an abundance of musical entertainment with BFAB Street Dancers, the ever popular Braunston Pickle, Umpteen Reasons to Swerve, Mick & the Moonshiners and plenty of jazz. 

Follow this link for more details of IWA's 2017 National Festival of Water

Waterway Photographs Needed for IWA's Famous Calendar and Cards


You could have your favourite waterway, structure or boat featured in IWA's printed products.  Images reflecting different times of the year, a variety of waterways and an assortment of features or vessels are being sought for IWA's 2019 calendar and cards.  Details of the specifications and prizes for this photographic competition are available through this link.  So, when out and about on the waterways and at festivals, make sure you have your camera with you.

IWA's 2018 calendar is now available through this link for £5.50 including post & packing. 

New Sea Lock Gates for Essex Waterways

The second phase of a scheme to replace the sea lock gates at Heybridge Basin on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation is due to begin on 2nd October.  The work, which is being carried out by Essex & Suffolk Water, will involve the installation of a new steel caisson lower gate below the existing wooden mitred gates. The sliding caisson gate allows for many more boats to pass through each cycle of lock operation, which can be crucial as the lock is only available for a limited time at each high tide, and it can get extremely busy in the summer months, especially with visiting boat clubs from the continent.  Earlier in the year £2.2 million was spent on the first phase of the project.

Adrian Caswell, from Essex & Suffolk Water said: "The lock gates are an essential part of this waterway, so we have worked hard to plan a replacement scheme which will ensure that this route can be used and enjoyed for many years to come.

David Smart, Navigation Manager for Essex Waterways said: “We are looking forward to the installation of the new Caisson gate this winter.  It will be a big improvement for us, bringing 21st Century technology to Heybridge to work alongside the original manual gates dating from the late 1700s."

heybridgegate2Photo: Heybridge Sea Lock, Essex Waterways

Not a Mission Impossible - Saving Geldeston Lock

Works to preserve one of the last remaining locks in the Broads system has begun, with help from a 14 strong team from IWA's WRG.  For the past two years, the River Waveney Trust has set about finding a way to salvage Geldeston Lock, as it looks to maintain it for years to come.  The volunteers, who worked as part of a summer camp ran by the group, began the project by replacing brickwork to restore one of the lock chamber walls in the first of three phases of work to be carried out over the next three years. 

Geoff Doggett, River Waveney Trust founder, said: “It is extremely exciting to see work beginning and it has gone much better than expected. This project is a rescue mission for the lock.  We have been fundraising for the project since February and the public response has been phenomenal.”

While funds have been raised to make this phase of the project happen, the Trust is still working towards its target of £15,000, which is needed to fully bring the lock chamber up to the standard they hope to achieve.  As part of this, personalised bricks are being sold to members of the public, which will be used in the wall and display messages for years to come.

geldestonPhoto by Nick Butcher:  Work begins on the restoration of the historic Gelderston Lock

Need Help with Restoration?  Host a Canal Camp in 2018

Are you a canal trust or society that needs a lock restored or section of canal relined?  Why not consider hosting a canal camp in 2018?

With only a few weeks left of the 2017 summer canal camps IWA is starting to think about 2018. In order to arrange site visits for any potential projects WRG need submissions for 2018 Canal Camps from waterway restoration groups by the 13th September 2017.

To help us get a better picture of the proposed work please include
- A description of the work
- Any plans, details of permissions and funding
- Any photos of the site
- Details of potential accommodation for the WRG volunteers
Find out more by clicking here

IWA Policy on Carbon Monoxide Alarms

There is a risk to boaters from carbon monoxide generated by their own activities such as use of portable generators on board rather than on the towpath, as well as the more obvious use of inadequately ventilated stoves, cookers, heaters or other combustion appliances.  The tragedy at Wroxham Broad in 2016 also identifies the risk arising from others’ use of such appliances in close proximity, where significant levels of carbon monoxide from others’ activities can be propelled into boats through open doors and windows.

IWA policy is to work through its presence on the Boat Safety Certificate Advisory and Technical Groups to have carbon monoxide alarms added to mandatory equipment required on hire and private boats with enclosed cabins covered by BSS inspections as a matter of urgency. IWA will also act immediately to advise boaters to fit a carbon monoxide alarm on their boat, and to expect to see alarms fitted and working on boats they hire or otherwise use.
For further information click this link to BSS web site.


Mick Beattie

We are saddened to report the death of Mick Beattie of Waterway Recovery Group who had a major influence on WRG and its Canal Camps in the 1990s.  Mick first attended a Canal Camp, on the Pocklington Canal, in 1987 and his knowledge and skills, being in the building trade, were of immediate benefit.  The following year he established his abilities as assistant leader of a particularly successful Camp at Bugsworth Basin and then took on the logistics of organising all the tools, plant, catering kit and vehicles for running all of WRG’s Camps and more.  During his tenure as leader of WRG’s Logistics Group, and leader of the newly established ‘Navvies Anonymous’ regional group, WRG’s Canal Camp programme rapidly expanded and standards of both Health & Safety and provision of support kit at WRG sites improved beyond all previous recognition, and the pattern for WRG’s current regular programme of works became firmly established.  Partly on the strength of his achievements with WRG, Mick successfully took on a post with waterway contractors Land & Water but, sadly, suffered a protracted fight with cancer over the past seven years.

Mick's funeral will take place on Tuesday 29th August at St Augustine's Church, Rugely at 2.30pm.  He requested that mourners should wear black.  No flowers but donations to St Giles Hospice.   

IWA Branch News

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch

Winsford Salt Fair is a five day festival from 13th – 17th September which celebrates the town’s rich salt heritage and the historic charter granting Royal Consent for an annual fair and weekly market.  One of the main highlights of the event is the Winsford Salt Fair Regatta from the 15th-17th September, located at Winsford Marina.

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch would like to welcome all boats to its fifth year at the head of the River Weaver.  A fun weekend for all, including a colourful boat parade, reception, bands, stands, stalls and Mikron Theatre.

Boat entry costs £15. Please email the Branch contact or tel: 01606 553 433.  For further information about the Winsford Salt Fair please visit Winsford Council's web site.

IWA West Country Branch

Wessex Water has presented  IWA West Country Branch Somerset volunteers a cheque for £250 which will purchase two multi function motorised tools to assit the volunteers in keeping their adopted sections of the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal in good trim. 
wessexchequePhoto:  Presentation by Michael Robbins of Wessex Water to Mike Slade, Volunteer Coordinator for IWA West Country Branch, with some of the Somerset volunteers at their work session held at Bridgwater Docks.

IWA Branch and Region Network

IWA is organised through a network of eight Regions and 33 Branches across the country.  To find a Branch near you click on this link which will take you to information about the Branches, their newsletters, contacts and the local waterways in their area.

Other Waterway News

Carpenters Road Lock Looking Promising for the East London Waterways Festival

CRT's boat Jena was spotted on Saturday 5th August having a trial run through Carpenters Road Lock ahead of the official opening at the East London Festival on Monday 28th August. 

jenacarpentersrdlockPhoto by Roger Squires:  Testing Carpenters Road Lock

With the opening up of Carpenters Road Lock the waterways around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are now accessible to boaters.  To celebrate this long planned for achievement there will be an East London Waterways Festival on August Bank Holiday Monday.  The completed lock site will form the centrepiece of the festival, which will include a boat flotilla, dragon boat racing, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, rowing, free boat trips and pedalos. There will also be live music and dance performances, activities for children, heritage walks, food stalls and more. In the evening Nomad Cinema will be hosting a screening in the lock of the film ‘How We Used to Live’ introduced by the writer Travis Elborough.


Discover the Delights of the Grantham Canal Day

The Grantham Canal Society’s annual Discovery Day is on Sunday 8th October.  There will be entertainment, activities including bricklaying skills with WRG and pole lathe turning with the Wobbly Bodger, from the heart of Sherwood.  There will be the opportunity for a guided tour around Lock 15 restoration site.

Raptor Rescue, Lincolnshire Bat Group and Hedgehog Welfare will have some recovering patients for all to see.  The Woodland Trust and Butterfly Conservation, along with local waterways groups and craft stands means there’s something for everyone.  Will the wicked witch, the ducking stool or the duck eating spider prevent competitors' duck finishing the seriously silly Dirty Duck Race?   

Hot food from the WW1 field kitchen and BBQ, along with home-made cake and refreshments in the Carpenter’s Shop will ensure no one goes home hungry.  Camping and caravanning is available on site for those wishing a weekend break or longer stay.  Discovery Day takes place at: The Carpenter’s Shop Canal Depot, Duck Lane, Woolsthorpe by Belvoir, nr. Grantham.  NG32 1NY.  Go to the Grantham Canal Society's web site for further details of this event and the work of the Grantham Canal Society.

granthambricksPhoto:  IWA's Jenny Black teaching the skills of bricklaying at last year's Grantham Discovery Day

warkitchenPhoto:  Hot food will again be available from this WWI field kitchen

The Grantham Canal Society has restored 23% of this fabulous waterway to date - a remarkable achievement for a purely volunteer organisation.  It has working partnerships CRT and WRG on the present restoration of the Woolsthorpe Flight of locks – a project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Once complete, this will extend the navigable section into Leicestershire.

British Marine Inland Boating Recognise Exceptional Lock Keepers

The award for British Marine Inland Boating (BMIB) Lock Keeper of the Year 2016 was presented by BMIB members Dorenda and Gordon Horry of Hotel Boat Kailani as they passed through Abingdon Lock, Oxfordshire on the River Thames on Tuesday 8th August 2017.  The names of Richard Hawkins and Frank Jordan will be added to the shield which features lock keeper’s names since the award’s inception in 1997.  Engraved lock keepers’ windlasses are also presented to the winners.  bmiblockkeeperawardPhoto by Harry Arnold, Waterway Images:  Left to right -  BMIB Vice Chairman Russell Chase, Environment Agency resident lock and weir keeper, Richard Hawkins, Dorenda and Gordon Horry of Hotel Boat Kailani, volunteer assistant lock keeper Frank Jordan and John Dutson, River Thames Team Leader Environment Agency - with the hotel boat’s guests and visitors to Abingdon Lock looking on.

A Reminder About CRT's Licensing Consultation

Following the completion of the opening stages of its boat licensing consultation, CRT and Involve, the independent charity commissioned by the Trust, are reflecting on the results of discussions with boaters.  Once complete the third and final stage of the process will get underway in which all boaters are being encouraged to take part.

Ian Rogers, customer service and operations director at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “The first two stages of consultation have been really informative. We spoke initially with boating organisations and followed this with a series of workshops across the country attended by 100 boaters, randomly selected, covering the range of boaters using our waterways. The groups discussed outcomes of the first stage and contributed further to shaping the final stage of consultation.

“Our initial timetable was to report back on the topics and views that came up in the workshops in late July before widening out the consultation to all boaters and boating groups.  However due to the fantastic feedback we’ve had, it will take a little more time before publishing the report and subsequently opening the third stage of the consultation.  We’re aiming to start stage three of the consultation in late August and we’ll be getting in touch with all licence holders to encourage them, as well as members of the general public, to take part.  It is important that we have a full view of boaters’ thoughts and feelings to help shape the future of licensing.”

More information about the boat licensing consultation can be found here

Upcoming Volunteer/Cleanup Events

To find out what branch activities and working parties are going on in your area have a look at IWA's events calendar.  By volunteering for these clean up events you can make a big difference to your local waterway.  You can also search by event type or find out what's going in on your area with the map search.

To advertise your restoration/cleanup events in the bulletin please add details to IWA's events calendar

IWA Shop


Find your way around the waterways with Imrays Map of the Inland Waterways of Great Britain.  Click this link to go to IWA's on line shop to order this indispensable tool for route planning.

For more detailed information about cruising make sure you have the latest Nicholson guides.  Never miss out on navigation guidance, moorings, water points, sanitation disposal, shops, pubs, places of interest or marinas by having up to date local details to hand.  Available from IWA's online shop through this link

IWA Member Discounts and Special Offers

The following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members:

Enjoy the Waterways Through Hire Boats and Leisure

ABC Boat Hire - 15% discount on holidays (Direct Bookings Only)
Blackwater Boats, Essex CO4 5HF - 10% discount off boat trips
CanalCruising.co.uk - 10% discount
Canal Boat Magazine - 5 issues for £5.00
City Centre Cruises - 10% discount for Sunday lunch cruises
Frangipani SUP Ltd - 10% discount
Jenny Wren, London NW1 8QS - 10% discount off cruises
Middlewich Narrowboats - 25% discount off hire price of Willow
Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd- 10% discount on published prices

Eating Out

Bounty Pub, Bourne End SL8 5RG - 10% discount off food
Clifford Arms, Staffordshire ST18 0SR - 10% discount off food
Fingerpost Pub & Restaurant, Pelsall WS3 5AU - 10% discount off food
Kings Lock Tearooms, Leicester LE2 8LT - 10% discount off food
Waterside Inn Leamington Spa, CV31 3JZ - 15% discount on food from main menu
Ring 'O Bells Pub, Marple SK6 7AY - 10% discount off food
Three Locks Pub, Soulbury, Stoke Hammond MK17 9DD - 10% discount off food
Wharf Pub, Bugbrooke NN7 3QB - 10% discount

Better Value on Boats and Equipment

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
Kings Lock Chandlery – 5% discount on purchases excluding all fuels (diesel, gas, coal, wood, etc)
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
Harbour Clean - 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

Boat Insurance

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

Free Donations to IWA Every Time you Shop Online

It is so easy to do your shopping via easyfundraising.  Every time you do, a percentage will be donated to IWA and it will cost you absolutely nothing extra.

There are over 3,100 shops and sites for you to browse and buy through on the easyfundraising site.  Usually the thing that stops people raising money in this way for their favourite charity is that they simply forget.  Since we launched IWA onto easyfundraising we have raised over £1000 so it is a brilliant way to support IWA.  Find out more about easyfundraising.

How to remind yourself to raise money for IWA via easyfundraising:

By using the app, the reminder toolbar or shopping through the easyfundraising site, you can help IWA raise hundreds and hopefully thousands of pounds.

Contact Us

IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
01494 783 453