IWA Bulletin - 24th May 2018

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Support our Campaign to Improve Boaters’ Facilities

Boaters Facilities Campaign

We are asking boaters to help identify areas on the UK’s waterways where basic facilities, such as water points, rubbish and sewage disposal, are missing.  Having carried out some initial monitoring, we are now gathering more evidence to share with navigation authorities to encourage them to provide new or additional facilities in the right locations.

Over the last few years some boaters’ facilities have been closed leaving gaps in the provision of facilities. This is an issue across the waterway network, and causes problems for many boaters, particularly if they don’t wish to travel very far each day.  We consider that basic boaters’ facilities (water, elsan, rubbish) should be at locations which are no more than 5 hours cruising time apart with pump out available every 10 hours cruising time.

The difficulties that boaters’ face in trying to recycle their waste is also a concern and so we will be campaigning with navigation authorities for more recycling points to be provided.  In the meantime boaters are encouraged to be responsible about the disposal of their waste and to use existing recycling points whenever possible.

So, whether you heading to our IWA Festival of Water in St Neots, making your way to an IWA Silver Propeller Challenge location, or just pottering around your local waterways, please do let us have your reports.

Please let us know of any gaps in facilities or where a site is in need of major refurbishment by filling in the Gap Tracker form at waterways.org.uk/gaptracker.  Alternatively you can email the details to our Campaigns Officer, Alison Smedley (alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk)

HS2 agrees to IWA proposal

In our Petition on the HS2 Phase 2A (West Midlands – Crewe) Hybrid Bill, submitted on 26 February 2018 the following request was included:  "The height of the route across the Trent and Bourne Brook valley, including the Kings Bromley viaduct, Bourne embankment and River Trent viaduct, should be reduced to the minimum necessary for the road and river crossings to limit noise propagation over a wide area which includes the canal, and to reduce visual impact and construction costs."

A similar request was made by both Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Council in their Petitions.

On 19 April HS2 Ltd published an evidence paper for the Select Committee on the River Trent & Kings Bromley Viaducts Lowering Alternative.  This conceded that, with minor changes to the drainage channels on the viaducts, the heights of the viaducts could be reduced by up to 3.5m with landscape and visual benefits and a cost reduction of £3.3m.

On 23 April at the start of the Councils’ combined evidence to the Select Committee, their Counsel reported that:
“Sir, first the good news, and that relates to Kings Bromley viaduct. Sir, there have been ongoing discussions regarding the content of an assurance from HS2. HS2 provided a revised assurance last week and there have since been further discussions and HS2 have today, that is to say this afternoon, agreed to further revisions. They have agreed to the inclusion firstly of a good faith provision in the draft assurance, and also a provision as to engagement and, sir, on that basis, Staffordshire County Council and also Lichfield District, which is the relevant district, are content with that assurance and as such, sir, we don’t propose to address you upon it.” (Hansard)

Whilst the text of the Assurance is yet to be published, it is clear that the request has been agreed.

We welcome this change which will enable us in further evidence made to the committee, to concentrate on other changes we have requested to improve noise mitigation for canal users at Fradley and Great Haywood.

Pull Snap Stomp - Look Out for Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan balsam closeup by Erica Martin

Photo: Himalayan balsam closeup.  Photo by Erica Martin

If you are out for a walk along a waterway this summer, don’t forget to look out for Himalayan balsam and pull some up if you can.   Growing to a height of over three metres, the plant is a highly destructive invasive species which crowds out native plants and causes erosion.

Here’s what to do:

  • Pull -  Check our Himalayan Balsam identification guide to be certain that it is Himalayan balsam and  then pull up individual balsam stems – they pull up very easily,
  • Snap – Break off the root below the lowest growing node,
  • Stomp - Put into a small pile to rot down, away from the path.  Bigger piles can be stamped on to assist the rotting process – small children love doing this and it makes a great sound!

And that’s all there is to it.

There are just a few further things to be aware of:


If the seeds have already developed then please don’t pull the Himalayan balsam as there is no benefit and you could spread it to new locations; Himalayan balsam is non-toxic, but it is still advisable to wash your hands after carrying out this activity (and before eating) due to animal-carried diseases such as Weils Disease; be aware of the water’s edge or any steep drops and leave any plants that you can’t safely reach; don’t trespass onto private land beyond the towpath or bank, and if anyone asks what you are doing – refer them to our campaign and website.


Some people defend the plants as the flowers attract bees and can actually look quite attractive on the canal or river bank.  However if bees are drawn to the swathes of Himalayan balsam flowers, pollination of native species decreases with the knock on effect that local wildlife sees a reduction in native plants which act as food and habitat for animals who shelter there.   So whether you are walking the dog or out with family and friends, everyone can help control the spread by pulling up a few plants when you see them.  It’s essential to do this before the seeds have started to develop, and to make sure that the land owners are happy of course!

If you know of an area of waterway that would benefit from a more concerted Himalayan balsam bashing session, please contact your local branch.  A number of IWA branches are planning work parties this year in locations as far and wide as Lancashire, Worcestershire and Somerset.  

Check the events details on the website for these and more.
Further information is available on our website, including an identification guide, fact sheet and step by step guide to organising your own Himalayan balsam work party.

Silver Propeller Challenge - News and Updates

New locations added
Due to their importance as campaigning locations, three locations in Scotland and Wales have been added to the list of Silver Propeller Challenge locations.  

Berriew on the Montgomery Canal has been added to encourage more people to get afloat on this unconnected 11 mile long section of canal.  Berriew is currently the southern limit of the length which goes north through Welshpool up to Ardleen Bridge beyond Burgedin Locks.  

Port Dundas on the Glasgow Arm of the Forth & Clyde Canal, and Lochrin Basin at the end of the Union Canal in Edinburgh, have been added to encourage as many boaters as possible to access each of these locations, particularly in the light of current restrictions being imposed on these waterways by Scottish Canals.  

Springs Branch blocked by a rockfall
A rock fall on the Springs Branch has been limiting navigation on this branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Skipton since January 2016.  The Springs Branch is one of the destinations in our IWA Silver Propeller Challenge, and we urge as many people as possible to use the length of the branch that is still accessible, and to write to CRT to encourage them to progress the reopening of the full length.  Until the rock fall, just below Skipton Castle, is removed, the location for the Silver Propeller Challenge will be Mill Bridge, or the rock fall itself just beyond it.  

Trip boat on Springs Branch of Leeds & Liverpool CanalPhoto: Trip boats on the Springs Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal are currently having to turn just before Mill Bridge, due to the rockfall below Skipton Castle, which continues to block the full length of this branch canal.  Photo by Ian Moore

Trailboaters disappointed at weekend closure of Crossways Swing Bridge on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal
Boaters using the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal should note that Crossways swing bridge, which is approximately 1 mile from Bridgwater Docks, is the subject of a stoppage for a 12 month period from Tuesday 8 May 2018 in connection with adjacent construction works.  The CRT stoppage notice requires boaters to give 48 hours’ notice to use the swing bridge on weekdays and confirms that it will always be available for boaters to use at weekends.
Regrettably, on the previous weekend (the early May bank holiday weekend) the bridge was locked out of use which prevented boaters from using the canal, including a flotilla of Wilderness boats that were attending a rally at Bathpool near Taunton.  These had set out to cruise to the far end of the canal at Bridgwater Docks, which is an interesting heritage site in its own right and also an IWA Silver Propeller destination.
The contractors have since apologised for their actions and have explained that problems with steel plates had affected the balance of the bridge, which resulted in it being locked out of use.  They have confirmed that this has since been rectified.

Crossways Swing BridgePhoto: Some of the flotilla of boats at Crossways Swing Bridge

Huge Funding Boost for the Stroudwater Navigation Project

We were delighted to hear the significant news that Stroud District Council and Cotswold Canals Trust have secured £842,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding for the Stroudwater Navigation Connected project.  The monies secured as part of this phase will make sure everything is in place before the partnership submits the full application reports for a further £9 million of HLF money to allow the whole project to go ahead.  The stretch of water between Stroud and Stonehouse is almost restored and bringing the remaining four miles back in to use will link it to the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the rest of the country.

“We knew that the bid was very strong but this is a huge relief and it means that working with partners, we can drive the project on and look forward to making Stroud and Stonehouse canal towns once again” said Stroud District Council leader Doina Cornell

The project aims to take the canal under the M5 motorway, reinstate the ‘missing mile’ of canal near Eastington and forge a new stretch of canal under the Gloucester – Bristol railway line at Stonehouse – and bring many other benefits to the area.
The SDC-led restoration between Stonehouse and Thrupp has transformed the canal corridor, attracting £115million of private investment.  Studies suggest that boaters and visitors to a restored canal would spend more than £5million a year in the Stroud district.

IWA supported the Phase 1B funding submission and we look forward to building on our effort and involvement delivered during phase 1A.  This year alone WRG is running six week long canal camps at Inglesham Lock and it is our objective to complete the structural restoration of the lock this year.  Last year, WRG volunteers spent over 4000 hours on the project removing the coping stones, installing scaffolding, taking down damaged brickwork and starting repair work. 

Scotland’s Lowland Canals Navigation Restricted 

Navigation on the Lowland Canals in Scotland continues to be severely restricted due to reduced operating times, as well as the failure of several lift bridges which have closed the Forth & Clyde Canal as a through route, as reported in the January and March issues of Bulletin.

Local organisations, with our support and advice, have formed themselves into a group, Keep Canals Alive! (KCA!).  The group is an alliance of all those involved with the Forth & Clyde and Union canals, with an interest in promoting this message in the face of a growing tendency on the part of Scottish Canals to ignore their statutory duty (under the provisions of the 1968 Transport Act) by dismissing the need to maintain the Lowland Canals as Cruising Waterways.

Soon after the Lowland Canals re-opened at the beginning of the Millennium, a local councillor noted that ‘One of the key issues in stimulating business development is that you have to have the movement of boats and something actually happening on the water to generate the interest of people to stop and spend’.

The Forth & Clyde Canal has effectively been open for one day so far this year, and this largely to allow one of the Falkirk Wheel trip boats to return to its base, from the dry dock in Kirkintilloch. At the same time three other boats travelled east and one headed west to Glasgow.

A couple of days previously, two boats that had been waiting down at Bowling (one since before Christmas) navigated Locks 37-21, through the bascule bridges – one lifted by a crane – onto the top pound of the Forth & Clyde. Subsequently, a second bascule bridge has failed meaning that, together with Bonnybridge and Twechar, there are currently four defective bridges on 36½ miles of canal.

KCA! has been proactive in drawing the plight of the navigations to the national press; MSPs, Regional MSPs and Scottish MPs, together with members of the Scottish Canals’ Board. The Times reports a drop of 30% in hire boat bookings, with hirers limited to just 34½ miles of cruising which, even on an out-and-back basis, they are finding hard to make fill a week’s hire.

Old Bedford River - IWA 2018 Campaign Cruise to Welney and Welches Dam lock

Boaters heading to the IWA Festival of Water at St Neots are reminded of the opportunity to take part in the Old Bedford River Campaign Cruise which is taking place between Sunday 19th and Wednesday 22nd August.

Welches Dam, one of our Silver Propeller Challenge destinations, is the destination for the cruise and it is hoped to get about a dozen boats taking part.  More details have now been published about the cruise, and associated gatherings at Horseway Lock and Salters Lode, and can be found at [link to events pages]

People are also encouraged to take part with canoes or small portable boats, or just to go for a walk along the river in the Ouse Washes Nature Reserve and enjoy the unusual sight of a number of boats in addition to the wildlife for which the area is renowned.

Ahead of the August cruise, veteran of previous campaign cruises on the Old Bedford River, John Revell, will be taking his boat, Olive Emily, onto the river in early July, in order to ascertain the effectiveness of recent dredging and to help plan for the larger number of boats, and different types of boats, taking part in the August cruise.

End of an Era for London Boat Show

British Marine has announced that the 2019 London Boat Show will not be going ahead due to insufficient stand bookings from the marine industry.  

In 2014 we received a special award from the organisers to recognise our status as a founder exhibitor and we understand that we are one of only three exhibitors to have attended every London Boat Show since it started 64 years ago.  Over those years we have seen the inland waterways aspect of the show vary.  Although the Boat Show was primarily aimed at the offshore sea-going boater, it was once the only national show of its kind, and enabled us to encourage thousands of newcomers to canal and inland rivers over the years.  It is always a shame to lose an opportunity to showcase the wonders of our inland waterways to a new audience.

National Planning Policy Framework Should Reference Inland Waterways

We have submitted our comments to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government for its recent consultation on the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework.  

In the submission, we outlined our wish to see appropriate recognition and emphasis given to the major contribution that the inland waterways make to the national economy, to recreation and leisure, to sustainable transportation, and to heritage conservation.  

Our comments support the views of the Commercial Boat Owners Association concerning sustainable transportation, asking for wording to incorporate bulk transport “by rail, sea and inland waterways” and “ the commercial use of railways and waterways” to be included in the final version of the framework.

We placed an emphasis on the role of waterways in urban regeneration in addition to sustainable rural tourism and leisure development.  Our full submission on the National Planning Policy Framework can be found here.

Hottest IWA Canalway Cavalcade on Record

Boats in the pool IWA Canalway Cavalcade 2018

The hottest May Day Bank Holiday weekend since 1978 brought the crowds out in droves in Little Venice, where the 36th annual IWA Canalway Cavalcade took place.  140 boats lined up along the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals and moored by their sterns in Brownings Pool. With bunting gently bouncing in the breeze and their paint- and brass-work gleaming they presented a colourful spectacle, alongside marquees and gazebos selling a multitude of items. The Noyze Boyz played in the Pool, and soul bands, flamenco dancing and the nationally acclaimed Rock Choir performed in the Amphitheatre to huge crowds, who waved, joined in the singing and danced.

At the Opening ceremony, The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Ian Adams, welcomed everyone to the City of Westminster and thanked us for putting on the event.  Speeches were followed by the Pageant which this year proposed the theme of Canal Builders. Boats and crews accessorized with picks and shovels, boots and wheelbarrows. One boat was covered in “bricks” to resemble a canal tunnel, another had models of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Falkirk Wheel on the roof and another went right back in history to 500BC with crew dressed in costume to commemorate the Grand Canal of China.  On Sunday evening the Procession of Illuminated Boats attracted large crowds, and boaters covered their boats with as many lights as would fit along the roofs and sides, powered entirely by their batteries.

Take a look at the gallery of photos on Flickr.

Awards were presented as follows by Mrs Laura Radley, widow of the late Arthur Farrand Radley, who initiated IWA Canalway Cavalcade in 1983.

See full list of award winners.

2019 boat bookings now open

Book online to secure your mooring for our 2019 IWA Canalway Cavalcade. Book before 1st June to get your earlybird discount.

Griff Rhys Jones reopens lock on the River Stour

Griff Rhys Jones and M Harling open Stratford St Mary Lock River Stour

Photo: Griff Rhys Jones and Mark Harding stand on the reopened lock.  Photo by Chris Howes

A further three miles of navigation have been restored to navigation on the River Stour following the reopening of a lock at Stratford St Mary in May.

The work by the River Stour Trust was supported by funding from IWA from the Tony Harrison legacy.

Supporters, well wishers, and local dignitaries gathered for the opening of the newly restored and recently named Roger Brown lock at Stratford St Mary on Saturday 16th May. The restoration of the lock was the culmination of 12 years work, and is the 4th lock on the Stour to be restored.
The opening was performed by Mark Harding of Enovert, major sponsors. Griff Rhys Jones, RST Vice President was in attendance, and spoke enthusiastically about the project and of the desirability to restore navigation to many of our rivers.  Tony Harrison’s widow, Mary, unveiled a wooden plaque at the side of the lock.

The Stour flows through ‘Constable country’, indeed the working river at Flatford Mill features in his most famous painting.

Wolverton Train Mural Gets a Face-Lift

Wolverton Mural gets a makeover
On Saturday 28th and Monday 30th April, a team of volunteers from IWA Milton Keynes Branch started work on revamping the Train Mural at Wolverton on the Grand Union Canal.

The Mural was originally painted in 1986 by Bill Billings, Artist-in-Residence of Milton Keynes Development Corporation, under an Urban Aid Scheme run by IWA Milton Keynes Branch.  Branch members have looked after the mural since it was originally painted.

Over the years vegetation has grown over the mural, with buddleia shrubs sprouting up from the path beside it.  Over the two days volunteers cleared vegetation and large branches, removed the self-seeded small trees from the canal bank and made progress on the repainting.  

See IWA Milton Keynes Branch web pages for future work party dates

IWA Branch News

IWA Manchester Branch

Volunteers from IWA Manchester had a very productive weekend in May, repainting Lock 8 on the Ashton Canal.

See IWA Manchester Branch web pages for future work party dates.

Cheshire Locks Work Party Report

Cheshire Locks New Coat of Paint
IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch volunteers supported by the Trent & Mersey Canal Society continued to paint locks, manage vegetation and remove rubbish to improve and maintain the appearance around Lock 58 at Hassell Green.

Painting was completed on the lock bridge rails, paddle gear metalwork, balance beams, gate tops, and fencing around the by-wash.

See IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch web pages for future work party dates

IWA Lichfield Branch

The Weddington Way and Mount Jud walk
A waterway walk organised by IWA Lichfield Branch in May took strollers to view Caldecote Hall and its neighbouring church of St. Theobald and St. Chad, where a gardener was able to give a brief local history of the hall.  

Walkers continued through farmland and fields of bright yellow oil seed rape, and then followed the line of local railways.   Mount Jud, a conical shaped quarry spoil heap, could be seen along the route.  The landmark has local nicknames ranging from "The Pyramids of Warwickshire" to "Nuneaton's Nipple".

Walkers joined the Coventry Canal at Tuttle Hill Bridge 23 where stone would once have been carried from the quarries by boat, and passed raised banks in the undergrowth where loading would have taken place.  

See IWA Lichfield Branch pages for future walks.

Work Party at Brindley Bank, Rugeley

Also in May, volunteers from IWA Lichfield Branch met on the Trent and Mersey Canal in Rugeley for some overdue tidying of the vegetation.  Litter was picked, grass mown, vegetation was strimmed and cut back.  

A dead tree that threatened to fall across the top path was removed, along with a section of collapsing fence by the moorings. Wild seeds were also planted around the ‘Bloody Steps’ area, so keep an eye out for blooms later this year.

See IWA Lichfield Branch pages for future work parties.

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 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
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
Channelglaze - 5% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
IceGripper - 20% Discount on ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip
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