IWA Bulletin July 2014

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Waterway Celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon this July

Stratford River Festival (photo by Jeanne Smith)Photo: Stratford River Festival (photo by Jeanne Smith)

Celebrations are planned across Warwickshire in 2014 to mark the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. This year, IWA is also celebrating significant anniversaries relating to the restoration of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and the Upper Avon in Warwickshire.

  • This year marks the centenary of the birth of IWA's co-founder Robert Aickman who led the campaign to re-open the Stratford Canal and Upper Avon in the 50s and 60s. (100)
  • This year also sees the 70th anniversary of the publication of Narrow Boat by IWA’s other co-founder, Tom Rolt, which inspired a revival of interest in the waterways. (70)
  • IWA was founded by Robert Aickman and Tom Rolt in 1946, which was 68 years ago. (68)
  • Many early IWA members, under the leadership of David Hutchings, achieved the restoration of the southern Stratford Canal, which was opened 50 years ago in 1964. (50)
  • The restored southern Stratford Canal is some 13 miles long. (13)
  • David Hutchings went on to lead the restoration of the Upper Avon, which was completed through Stratford 40 years ago. (40)
  • The restoration of the Upper Avon, along with the earlier reopening of the Lower Avon provides some 46 miles of navigation, from Tewkesbury to Alveston. (46)
  • 2014 is the 44th Anniversary of the creation of IWA's Waterway Recovery Group (WRG). Since 1970 WRG has helped to restore hundreds of miles of derelict inland waterways - thereby enabling many more boats from different parts of the country to reach Stratford than would otherwise be possible. (44)
  • Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust was set up to facilitate extension of through navigation on the Avon to Warwick, and linking it to the Grand Union Canal. Among its other advantages, this extension will add some 13 miles to our national inland waterway cruising network. (13)
  • And six is the number of organisations involved in the revival of these waterways and promoting them today: (6)
    1. The Inland Waterways Association
    2. Avon Navigation Trust (formerly Lower Avon Navigation Trust and Upper Avon Navigation Trust)
    3. Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust
    4. Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society
    5. Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways)
    6. The National Trust    

Which adds up to 450 reasons to take advantage of the waterways which have been restored and campaigned for by IWA, and navigate to Stratford-upon-Avon this summer.

The 2014 Stratford River Festival, taking place on 5th - 6th July, will be held on the banks of the River Avon, opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. On Friday 4th July, there will be events to celebrate the two waterways anniversaries, plaques unveiled, and speeches at Bancroft lock, together with a floating orchestra on the Avon.

The event will include an exhibition of historic photographs from the 1964 and 1974 periods, put on by IWA, The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society and Canal & River Trust (CRT). There will also be music, craft and food stalls, family zone, charity stalls, illuminated boat parade, spectacular fireworks and the widest spectrum of inland waterway craft to be seen anywhere on the system.

IWA News

IWA's Himalayan Balsam Campaign Update

Himalayan Balsam BannerPhoto: Himalayan Balsam banner on IWA Leicestershire Branch volunteer's bicycle (photo by Alison Smedley)

The 21st – 29th June was the first of two Himalayan Balsam focus weeks in IWA’s 2014 campaign against the invasive species.

Across the country, IWA branches held Himalayan Balsam pulls in the lead up to, and during this week, to help tackle the problem. Volunteers found some areas to be dense with plants that had, in places, grown taller than themselves. However, the volunteers also saw that their efforts were paying off with new and different vegetation growing in patches already cleared, and numbers of the plant reduced in areas that has been tackled in years before. So far volunteers aged two and half, to over eighty, have given over 180 hours of their time at Himalayan Balsam work parties.

During the week, IWA also worked to raise awareness of the plant and the problems it can cause on waterways through social media, banners and leaflets.

Find out more about the work parties that have happened so far in IWA's Himalayan Balsam progress report and check the list of work party dates if you fancy getting involved with the campaign in July.

IWA & ANT Celebrate Aickman Centenary

Aickman Centenary eventPhoto: Attendees at Harvington Lock, River Avon to celebrate the centenary of Robert Aickman's birth
Left to right - Richard Sanders, Clive Matthews, Walter Thomson, Les Etheridge, Clive Henderson and Roger Clay

On 27th June 2014, IWA and Avon Navigation Trust (ANT) celebrated the centenary of the birth of Robert Aickman, one of IWA's founders, who led the campaign to re-open the Upper Avon.

At 2.30pm, a small group, including representatives from IWA and ANT, gathered at Aickman Lock to mark the centenary.

The area has recently been improved by IWA Warwickshire Branchwho refurbished the memorial and repainted the lock, railings, bridge and gantry. The monument to Robert Aickman was originally built alongside the lock at Harvington in 1983 to celebrate his contribution to the local waterways.

After reading Tom Rolt's book Narrow Boat, Robert Aickman was inspired to take action to save the declining waterway network, and subsequently founded IWA with Rolt in 1946. Aickman led the campaign to re-open the Upper Avon and Southern Stratford Canal in the 50s and 60s, and was credited with saving the British waterways network almost in its entirety.

Richard Sanders, Chairman, IWA Warwickshire Branch said "The monument to Robert Aickman was built alongside the lock at Harvington which was the final lock in the restoration of navigation of the Warwickshire Avon between Stratford-upon-Avon and Evesham.

IWA Warwickshire Branch members thought it fitting to repair the effects of numerous floods over the last 30 years. The monument has been cleaned and damaged bricks replaced and the bronze portrait of Robert Aickman burnished. In addition, over 200 volunteer hours have been spent at the lock, which bears his name, cleaning and re-painting the lock gates and the two associated bridges."

Clive Matthews, General Manager of ANT said "We are very grateful to IWA Warwickshire Branch for the splendid work they have carried out in the refurbishment of the Robert Aickman Memorial and Lock. The Avon Navigation has a 375 year history and the Avon was one of the first rivers to be made navigable in the country.

The restoration of the Lower Avon navigation dates back 65 years and was the first restoration supported by IWA and the first of its kind in the country. The River Avon owes a great deal to Robert Aickman and the support of the IWA."

Further celebrations will be taking place at Stratford River Festival over the weekend 5th and 6th July 2014.

Call for More Summer Canal Restoration Volunteers

Photo: WRG North West on the Pocklington Canal

IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) is still looking for more volunteers to get involved in its programme of Canal Camps, so why not lend a hand this summer and help restore Britain’s derelict canals.

Volunteering with WRG is a great experience for anyone who loves being outdoors and enjoys meeting people from different backgrounds and of different ages (18+). WRG offers volunteers a fantastic chance to learn new skills such as bricklaying, stone walling, machine operation and restoration techniques! Each week costs £56, which includes food and accommodation.

Two projects in particular have lots of work planned so are looking for additional volunteer support:

Chesterfield Canal Camps 2nd-9th August and 9th-16th August
It promises to be another busy summer at Staveley on the Chesterfield Canal this year, with WRG volunteers planning to undertake the following work:

  • Face 25 metres of precast towpath wall with single skin blockwork.
  • Continue wash wall blockwork construction from Northern Loop Road Bridge to Lock.
  • Construct blockwork towpath wall from Lock towards precast wall.
  • Clad Staveley Town Lock Bridge lower wing wall with single skin bricks.
  • Where machinery is available, remove and replace lock rear walls backfill - properly compacted.
  • Bitumen paint, backfill and compact rear of wash wall. Remove spoil from canal bed and heap to the rear of compound.
  • Cast concrete footings and paddle culvert support walls.

No experience necessary, you just need to have a willingness to get involved and have fun! Book online now.

Driffield Navigation and Pocklington Canal Camp!
Pocklington School has kindly offered one of their boarding houses as accommodation for the camp so this Canal Camp will have beds, shower facilities on site and a common room for socialising. Running from the 16th-23rd August the camp will be split over two sites – the main team will be working to improve around 400m of towpath undertaking small earthworks to level the path and then lay of a new surface. Pocklington Canal towpath is well used by the locals and this will make a big difference to them. A small team will also spend a few days using brushcutters to clear vegetation to create a nature trail type path along part of the Driffield Navigation. Book online now.

There are a number of other camps with spaces available, use the links below to find out more about each location and the work that needs to be done.

If you have any queries about any of WRG’s Canal Camp please contact Jenny Black on 01494 783 453 ext 604 or jenny.black@waterways.org.uk.

Proposed Marina on the Llangollen Canal

A planning application has been submitted to Cheshire East Council for the development of a 200-berth marina at Wrenbury on the Llangollen Canal.

The proposed location for the 200-berth marina is on the towpath side of the canal in Wrenbury before the lift bridge. IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch does not support this application and is calling for volunteers to help build its case against the proposed development.

The Llangollen Canal has over 17,000 boat movements a year and the branch believes that the development of a marina at Wrenbury would increase congestion along the canal especially at pinch points such as Grindley Brook. This could have a negative impact on businesses along the canal, such as holiday boat companies who could lose repeat business if visitors to the canal spend over a day of their holiday queuing.

It is necessary to gather evidence of the problems the proposed marina could cause to develop a sound case against the development. IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch and Shropshire Union Canal Society have made arrangements with CRT to gather this evidence through boat counts to show the extent to which the stretch of canal is already used. The two groups plan to hold daily boat counts from 9am to 5pm from Saturday 19th July to Sunday 10th August with a view to extending the timeframe if sufficient volunteers are available. Peter Brown, Planning & Heritage Office for IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch, is leading the initiative and intends to put together a volunteer rota comprising of half-day shifts to undertake the boat count over this period. If you would like to contribute to the boat count please contact Peter Brown at peter.brown@waterways.org.uk.

Slough Arm Dredging Update

Dredging on the Slough ArmPhoto: Dredging on the Slough Arm (photo by CRT)

Dredging on the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal has continued following a slow start due to silt disposal complications.

CRT’s plan is for the main dredging to occur between Highline Boatyard and Slough Basin, a stretch that includes the location of the Slough Canal Festival. This is to be followed by spot dredging between Highline Boatyard and Cowley Peachey Junction. The dredging got off to a slow start after complications surrounding the silt disposal arose. CRT had hoped to dispose of the silt at a local tip but the owner refused to take the silt when they saw the water content. As a result the silt is having to be taken to Peterborough for disposal, which necessitated the sourcing of extra lorries and will increase costs.

At the end of June, the dredger was between Bridges 11 and 12. CRT planned to finish this stretch of dredging and remove the dis-used jetty at the terminus of the Arm before starting the planned spot dredging. CRT has said once dredging is completed its contractors will begin weed removal along the length of the Arm. CRT also plans to spray and remove Floating Pennywort.

CRT’s dredging and weeding of the Slough Arm should improve navigation and mooring for those who wish to attend the Slough Canal Festival over the weekend of 13th and 14th September. It is hoped that the work, once completed, will also encourage greater use of the Arm throughout the year.

Destination Leeds

Clarence DocksPhoto: Entrance to Clarence Dock, Royal Armouries, Leeds (photo by Jacqui Hatcher)

IWA West Riding Branch
, Leeds Council and CRT and its North East Partnership are currently working to make Leeds a more attractive destination to boaters through the Destination Leeds project.

Boaters visitng Leeds City Centre have commented that it is difficult to find moorings, but there are a number of options. Clarence Dock was redeveloped over ten years ago and has since been permanent moorings with a trialled scheme to open empty spots up to visitors facing difficulties that prevented its continuation. However, more moorings are planned for the other side of the Dock on the floating pontoon in the future.

Granary Wharf between Locks 1 and 2 on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is an alternative location to moor with a variety of options in its vicinity open to boaters. There are a few boats moored here permanently, but also paid for moorings with electricity in a nearby layby, a layby for mooring above the dry-dock, moorings parallel to the canal that are free and secure moorings on the offside above Office Lock. The Destination Leeds project is also working to improve moorings at Brewery Wharf. 

Other mooring spots nearby include the island opposite the entrance to Clarence Dock, the floating pontoon in the weir-stream below Leeds Lock (Lock 1 on the Aire & Calder Navigation), the facilities pontoon below Leeds Lock and on the bollards below those needed for working the lock. The signage for all these has recently been improved.

An alternative and perhaps less obvious but still convenient place to moor when visiting Leeds is Thwaite Mills on the Aire & Calder Navigation. Although not in the city centre, it is only 5 miles from Leeds, a distance easily covered by a short bus trip.

Run in the 2015 London Marathon for IWA

IWA has secured a place in the 2015 London Marathon.

The place was awarded through the Virgin Money London Marathon Charity Ballot and IWA now seeks to fill it with an enthusiastic runner who would like to raise money for the Association. This is a brilliant opportunity to step up to the challenge and take part in the largest annual fundraising event in the world. IWA is looking to raise at least £2,000 from this opportunity, but it could be for a waterway cause chosen by the selected runner.

If you are interested in running for IWA in the 2015 London Marathon please write a brief paragraph on why you would like the place and how you would spend the sponsorship money, and send this to Toby Gomm at toby.gomm@waterways.org.uk or telephone 01494 783 453 ext.611.

About People

Brian Amos & Bill Walton

IWA is saddened to report the death of two well-known figures in waterway restoration circles: Brian Amos, who with his wife Maureen, was a regular attender of Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group and WRG events, including those linked to the restoration of the Droitwich Canals, for more than twenty years passed away on 22nd June. Bill Walton, who lived alongside the Top Lock on Droitwich Barge Canal, and who recently passed away, was one of the prominent figures in the restoration of the waterway, and latterly operated a small day boat from his lock-side cottage. Bill’s late wife Anne was chairman of Droitwich Canals Trust for many years.

IWA Staff

Helen Ringsell, Membership Assistant at IWA Head Office, departed on maternity leave at the end of June.

On 30th June, Joni Duncan joined the Association's staff at IWA Head Office as Membership Assistant, to support Membership Officer & Office Manager, Tracy Higgin. Joni can be contacted at joni.duncan@waterways.org.uk.

Other News

Paddlers Celebrate Journey that Saved Canal

Photo Participants of the celebration of Fox and Pinder's journeyPhoto: Participants of the celebration of Fox and Pinder's journey

On Saturday 21st June, nine paddlers in six canoes and kayaks assembled at Wharf Tavern in Hockley to replicate and celebrate Michael Fox and John Pinder’s 1957 journey that saved the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal from closure.

In March 1957, Michael Fox bought the required ticket and hired a Canadian Canoe from J. Vincent David Pleasure Boat Hirers, which he, accompanied by John Pinder and other paddlers, paddled along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal from Stratford-upon-Avon to Hockley Heath over six weekends, leaving the canoe behind hedges during the week.

This ticket was later produced as evidence to demonstrate the canal had been navigated in the previous three years when Warwickshire County Council sought to close the navigation to reduce their costs when replacing a bridge in Wilmcote in 1958. This evidence prevented the Council from closing the canal and allowed volunteers to restore it under a lease taken out by the National Trust that same year.

It is now widely recognised that the efforts of these two canoeists helped turn the tide for Britain’s neglected canals and the event on Saturday was a fitting tribute to the pair’s foresight and endeavour. Michael Fox died on 20th June last year but his daughter Geraldine Dahlke was amongst the paddlers who were set off by John Pinder after local CRT waterway manager Ian Lane said a few words to commemorate the occasion.

Several Stratford Canal Society members took part including Ian West, Clive Henderson and recently joined member and CRT Chief Executive Richard Parry. Two of the modern kayakers, Joe Clench and Mark Kelly from Stratford were so keen to demonstrate the benefits of an open and restored waterway that they paddled all the 15 miles home to Stratford, arriving at 11pm that evening.

Wharf Tavern, which marked the start of the event on Saturday, was also the venue for the first committee meeting of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society on Monday 27th November 1956 with Messrs Fox (Hon Secretary) and Pinder. It was also reported that the previous evening a meeting took place between Robert Aickman, Don Burton, Pat Saunders and Michael Fox discussing the most effective policy that could be adopted by the Society for opening up the Southern section of the canal. The canoe trip less than four months later was a crucial action.

Further celebrations of the reopening of the canal are planned in Stratford over the weekend of 4th to 6th July. IWA with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society and CRT will share a marquee beside the basin throughout the weekend to celebrate the history of the restoration work through pictures and home cine presentations.

CRT Publishes Response to London Assembly Mooring Report

Boats on the Lower Lee NavigationPhoto: Boats moored on the Lower Lee Navigation (photo by Roger Squires)

CRT has responded to the London Assembly’s mooring report, which was published last November and concluded that an increase in moorings on London waterways was necessary to deal with the increase in boats in the area.

The report largely commented on CRT’s role in dealing with the increase in demand for moorings but also noted that support would be needed from other interested parties. CRT has echoed this in its response and believes to find the best solution, support from the Greater London Authority, the fifteen local authorities with waterways in their areas and other partners such as the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority will be needed. The Trust also recognises the need to work with third party landowners and planning authorities to encourage the inclusion of new mooring facilities as part of waterside developments.

CRT has said that it is already developing a number of initiatives to improve the supply and management of moorings on London waterways, including:

  • The provision of new towpath moorings.
  • The development of practical guidance on creating affordable residential moorings.
  • The provision of boater facilities at new Trust moorings.
  • Enhanced security measures at boater facilities.
  • Partnership working with the Police and local authorities to enhance community safety.
  • Working with developers and local planning authorities to incorporate moorings.
  • Working with London Legacy Development Committee to return boating access to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  • Assessing opportunities to provide new moorings on Trust waterways in Docklands.

CRT’s full response to the London Assembly Mooring report is available to download at the CRT website.

The London Assembly mooring report can be downloaded from the Greater London Authority website.

Anglian Waterways Strong Stream Advice Access

The Environment Agency (EA) has removed the Strong Stream Advice table for the Anglian waterways from the Gov.uk website, as it was unable to guarantee that it showed the most up to date information.

EA has confirmed that it is still possible to access the Strong Stream advice via the Floodline information number. To use this call 0845 988 11 88, choose option 1 and enter the relevant river quick dial number (River Nene – 032112, Great Ouse – 033211). EA will also continue to operate its Strong Stream Advice Automated Voice Messaging Service for its Anglian Waterways.

All other navigation notices, restrictions notices and closures notices for Anglian Waterways can still be found on the Gov.uk website in the normal locations.

Dredging Project Begins on the Trent & Mersey

Bank repairs during dredging on the Trent & MerseyPhoto: Bank repairs during dredging on the Trent & Mersey Canal (photo by CRT)

CRT has started a project to dredge the Trent & Mersey Canal between Stenson Lock and Swarkestone in Derbyshire.

The length has been identified as in need of dredging using the more rigorous assessment criteria that was introduced as part of CRT’s dredging strategy. The project is also in response to comments from boaters that use the stretch of canal.

CRT has also taken the opportunity to repair a section of canal bank near Stenson Lock. The repairs have involved using a special membrane called Nicospan that is pinned in place with large wooden stakes. Once in position the Nicospan is backfilled with the dredgings from the canal forming a sturdy, natural-looking bank. The environmentally friendly membrane enables grasses and other waterside plants to grow through creating habitat for invertebrates and, in just a few months, the repairs naturally blend in with the rest of the canal.

CRT Launches Boat Owner Attitude Tracker

In June, CRT started a new survey of boaters, the Boat Owner Attitude Tracker, to keep up-to-date with boaters’ thoughts and feelings between the existing biennial surveys.

CRT plans to run three waves of research each year, the first starting in June 2014. The views of around 1,000 randomly selected boaters will be gathered each time, with invitations sent out by independent research agency BDRC Continental, who is conducting the survey for CRT. The survey will be sent to different boaters each time and over the next two years, CRT expects that all boaters who have registered their email address with the boat licensing office will have been invited to take part.

A short report on key attitudes will be published after each round of the Boat Owner Attitude Tracker.

CRT to Re-organise Staff Teams

At the end of June, CRT announced a series of changes in the way its teams are organised.

CRT has said the new structure is part of the deliverance of its ten-year strategy and has been developed over recent months in consultation with staff from across the charity.
As part of the re-organisation CRT hopes the eleven waterway units will change to have a greater focus on the delivery of customer service to boaters and other visitors, growing the numbers and range of volunteering opportunities, improving day-to-day operation, and working with Waterways Partnerships to create closer relationships with local communities and stakeholders. Under these changes, the technical responsibility for looking after the condition of assets will fall to a national team to plan and deliver engineering works on behalf of the waterway units. 
To support these changes CRT plans to recruit a new head of customer service, to take on responsibility for leisure boating, licensing and enforcement.

Dudley Canals Project Wins Further Funding

Dudley Canal Trust has secured further funding towards its Portal project, receiving £60,000 over two years from The Headley Trust.

The Headley Trust join other grant giving bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund in supporting the project, which will dramatically improve facilities available to visitors at the Trust’s Todd’s End site.

The Portal should enhance the connection between the Dudley Canal and Limestone Mines and the Castle Hill Development Project including the nearby Black County Living Museum, giving visitors to both attractions new opportunities to explore both sites. In addition to new car parking, a swing bridge across the canal, and a covered area for people embarking on boat trips, there will be more volunteering opportunities for people to get involved in protecting, conserving and learning about the heritage of the area.

Construction on the new building will start before the end of the year, with the building opening in mid-2015.

New Footbridge on the Chesterfield Canal Opened

A new footbridge over the Chesterfield Canal was opened by Councillor Joan Dixon on the first day of the Chesterfield Canal Festival, Saturday 28th June.

Constitution Hill Bridge links the footpath from Staveley High Street to the Trans Pennine Trail and the canal towpath on the other side.

Derbyshire County Council managed the project to build Constitution Hill Bridge and contributed around £45,000. Chesterfield Canal Trust provided £6,000 and volunteers who helped to install the bridge, with Chesterfield Borough Council adding £3,000 and the North East Derbyshire Ramblers £500. IWA's WRG also helped with the construction of the bridge and has planned to return to the Chesterfield Canal this Summer in its programme of Canal Camps.

Part of the redevelopment of the Chesterfield Canal has seen the development of Staveley Basin, which can house up to twenty large canal boats and twelve smaller crafts. Volunteers from the Chesterfield Canal Trust are still working on the basin to finish building a new lock and the upstream wing walls to the lock bridge, which will carry a road over the canal.

Canal Restoration Re-opens Historic Wey & Arun Lock

Nearly 200 years after Southland Lock on the Wey & Arun Canal was built, restoration work is complete and boats can use it once again.

The official opening of the restored lock was marked by an event organised by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust (WACT) on Saturday 21st June to celebrate completion of the three-year project. More than 150 people attended the event to see Mr Simon Carter officially open the lock and hear music from the Friary Guildford Brass Band.

The lock was originally built between 1813 and 1816 but was demolished in the 1930s when the canal had fallen into disuse and many of the bricks reused on other local building projects.

Reconstruction of the lock was a major challenge for the Trust, not just financially but also logistically as the site is located more than a mile from the nearest public road. Both of these difficulties were eased thanks to the help of local landowners with the logistics and the WACT volunteers, whose work saved £125,000. The restoration costed around £500,000.

With Southlands Lock completed, the focus of the restoration work will now move northwards. WACT is working on major restoration schemes near Bramley at the northern end of the canal and near Dunsfold at the summit of the waterway.

CRT Receives Extra funding From People’s Postcode Lottery

CRT has been awarded an extra £50,000 by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, bringing the total amount awarded to the Trust from the Lottery in 2014 to £225,000.
CRT was announced as the People’s Postcode Lottery Charity of the Year earlier this year and is one of forty organisations to receive the extra funding.

Refurbished Broads Staithe Officially Opened

Hickling Parish public staithe was re-opened on Friday 27th June.

Hickling staithe has undergone major structural and landscaping improvements to provide both parishioners and visitors with state of the art launching facilities and visitor friendly information to access the Norfolk Broads. The project was jointly funded by Broads Authority’s Upper and Middle Thurne Enhancement Fund, Environment Agency and from staithe berth rentals.

IWA & WRG Work Party Reports

This section contains volunteer reports from IWA branches and IWA's Waterway Recovery Group (WRG). IWA branch reports contain information from their latest work parties where volunteers have worked to help maintain their local canals. WRG reports on its Canal Camps and weekend digs to keep readers up to date with the restoration work the group has been undertaking.

Progress for IWA's 2014 Himalayan Balsam Campaign

Himlaayan Balsam pull at Falling Sands (photo by Julio Lopez)Photo: Himalayan Balsam pull at Fallings Sands, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (photo Julio Lopez)

IWA's Himalayan Balsan Campaign has got off to a good start, which was marked by the Association's first Himalayan Balsam week (21st-29th June) when efforts to increase public awareness of the invasive species were made alongside the holding of a number of Himalayan Balsam pulls in the lead up to and during the week. Take a look at the following progress report to see what volunteers have been up to and to learn more about the best way to deal with the problems Himalayan Balsam can cause.

On Wednesday 11th June,  IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch held a Himalayan Balsam work party at Falling Sands Lock near Kidderminster on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.  Many of the branch’s regular volunteers are currently out boating so the group was small but nevertheless made a significant conclusion to efforts to eradicate Himalayan Balsam from the area. Having spotted the plant at a work party the previous month, volunteers had then worked to remove this early growth – a technique that had clearly worked as the bare patches of ground they had left were now showing signs of other plant growth. This spurred on renewed efforts to work both sides of the lock and the adjoining riverbank and the removal of this later growth was completed.

Joining the branch on this occasion was a Spanish architect, Julio Lopez who is visiting the UK to explore English systems in both the professional and voluntary sector and enjoyed the day - so he may be seen at forthcoming events! 

Evening Himalayan Balsam pull on the Leek ArmPhoto: Volunteers remove Himalayan Balsam on the Leek Arm (photo by Alison Smedley)
IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch has been out three times already to tackle Himalayan Balsam in its branch area. Its first event was on Thursday 12th June on the Caldon Canal.  A good turnout of volunteers met at Cheddleton Top Lock to remove Himalayan Balsam from the canal in the Churnet Valley. The volunteers, who had travelled from the surrounding area by a variety of forms of transport including motorbike and bus, spent a very enjoyable sunny day pulling up all the Himalayan Balsam between Cheddleton Locks and Basford Bridge. This was the third year that volunteers have tackled the Himalayan Balsam along this stretch, and in the previous two years it had taken two work parties to remove all the Himalayan Balsam, which demonstrates that the campaign is having some effect. It also emphasises the importance of returning to Himalayan Balsam sites on an annual basis, as seeds can remain dormant in the soil for up to three years. The tallest Himalayan Balsam plants were taller than the volunteers, demonstrating the slightly earlier growth this year compared to previous years. 

Another hot sunny day dawned for the second Himalayan Balsam session on the Caldon Canal on Sunday 22nd June. This time the volunteers met at Froghall Tunnel to work upstream towards Cherry Eye Bridge.  The embankment down towards the line of the Churnet Valley Railway was the area that was tackled, with entertainment in the form of historic diesel and steam locomotives passing close by while the volunteers were working. The age range of volunteers on this session went from two and a half to sixty something, proving this really is an activity that volunteers of all ages can get involved with!

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch was out for its third time on Wednesday 25th June. Rather than a day work party the branch trialled an evening event to make the most of the longer evenings and to provide opportunities for those who work and are busy at the weekends but want to have a go at volunteering. If this is just the kind of opportunity you have been looking for the next evening work party with the branch is on Monday 21st July.

IWA Leicestershire Branch with Himalayan Balsam BannerPhoto: Volunteers from IWA Leicestershire Branch and CRT with Himalayan Balsam banner (photo by Alison Smedley)

Volunteers from IWA Leicestershire Branch, CRT and the Aylestone Meadows Appreciation Society turned out on Tuesday 24th June to tackle the Himalayan Balsam growing along either side of the towpath of the Grand Union Canal Leicester Section as it borders Aylestone Meadows, south of Leicester. Most of the Himalayan Balsam along this stretch had been pulled or slashed by the time the heat of the hot sunny day made it sensible to stop. The IWA Himalayan Balsam Banner was used in a mobile fashion to alert passers-by to what was going on, on a volunteer’s bicycle, with work gloves and other equipment following in the bicycle’s trailer.

IWA West Country Branch volunteers with Himlayan Balsam bannerPhoto: Volunteers at West Country Branch Himalayan Balsam work party (photo by Stefanie Preston)

IWA West Country Branch also held a Himalayan Balsam pull in the heat of Tuesday 24th June at Bathpool on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. Volunteers covered about half a mile in each direction checking for and pulling out Himalayan Balsam, which was growing in large quantities at points on the bank. It appears to be spreading from a tributary of the Old River Tone that runs parallel to the canal. This shows just how easily the plant can spread from area to area with up to 800 seeds per plant that are explosively released over a radius of up to 7 metres. Volunteers removed a variety of sized plants that had stems that ranged from being millimetres thick all the way up to 8cm.

IWA Himalayan Balsam work parties continue throughout July, dates and locations as well as more information on Himalayan Balsam can be found on the IWA website.

Volunteers Continue Good Work on the Northampton Arm

Northampton Arm, Lock 17Photo:Northampton Arm, Lock 17 Far Cotton (photo by Stefanie Preston)

On 17th June, IWA Northampton Branch made the most of the dry weather and its trained volunteers and set to clearing the vegetation from Lock 17 of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal. Those with strimming and mowing certificates from CRT tidied up the area to improve access to mooring bollards and the Lock Gates. Meanwhile, a second group walked to Lock 15 litter picking the towpath, which was in a much improved state compared to the last litter pick of that stretch.

Beavers, Cubs & Scouts Help Prepare for Ware Boat Festival

Over twenty Beavers, Cubs and Scouts joined members of IWA Lee & Stort Branch on the River Lee on Saturday 21st June to help prepare for the Ware Boat Festival to be held from 4th-6th July.

Tasked with the job of clearing the towpath of overhanging vegetation as well as an overgrown patch where stalls for the festival are to be positioned the group eagerly began work cutting, pulling, sweeping, raking and moving all the debris. It was a hot day but with plenty of breaks and refreshments the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts with the help of their leaders, local residents and branch members returned the towpath to its original size and removed the nettles ready for the stalls to be put up next weekend.

IWA Volunteering Opportunities

IWA Branch Volunteer Vacancies:

Have a look at the list of volunteer opportunities within local IWA committees. There is a full list of volunteer opportunities within IWA branches.

IWA West Country Branch Publicity Officer - New Opportunity

IWA West Country Branch currently seeks a volunteer to join the committee as its Publicity Officer. An individual with good I.T. skills would be ideal as tasks would include helping to create/maintain Facebook and Twitter accounts, updating the branch web pages and liaising with the press.

If you are interested in this role please contact Branch Chairman, Bob Abbott.

IWA Branch and Region Magazines

The following IWA region and branch magazines have been added to the website since the last edition of the Bulletin:

East Midlands Region - Aegre - July 2014

West Riding Branch - Milepost - May 2014
Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch - Shroppie Fly Paper - Summer 2014

The following IWA region and branch magazines have been added in recent weeks:

Great Ouse Branch - Ouse News - Summer 2014

Waterway Events

Major IWA events in 2014
23rd - 25th August 2014 - Saul Waterways Pageant

Branch Boating Events in 2014
4th - 6th July 2014 - Ware Boat Festival (IWA Lee & Stort Branch)
6th July 2014 - Rochdale Canal Boat Gathering (IWA West Riding Branch)
6th - 7th September 2014 - Maesbury Canal Festival (joint arranged by IWA Shrewsbury, District & North Wales Branch along with Friends of the Montgomery Canal)

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.

See IWA's Events Calendar for a full list of waterway events. You can also search by event type or find out what's going in on your area with the map search.

Upcoming Volunteer/Clean-up Events

2nd July Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
2nd July Work Party - Hatton Locks (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
5th July Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
5th July Work Party - Dee Branch, Chester (IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch)
7th July Work Party - Hatton Locks (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
9th July Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
9th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch)
9th July Work Party - Bridgwater & Taunton Canal (IWA West Country Branch)
10th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Caldon Canal ( IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
12th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Shrewsbury & Newport Canal (supported by IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch)
13th July Work Party - Northampton Arm (IWA Northampton Branch)
16th July Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
17th July Work Party - Lapworth (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
19th July Work Party - Lapworth (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
19th July Work Party - Trent & Mersey Canal (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
21st July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Caldon Canal (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
22nd July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Leicester (IWA Leicestershire Branch)
23rd July Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
24th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Caldon Canal (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
24th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Marsworth (IWA Chiltern Branch)
24th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Bridgwater & Taunton Canal (IWA West Country Branch)
25th July Work Party - Congleton (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
28th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Rickmansworth (IWA Chiltern Branch)
29th July Work Party - Northampton Arm (IWA Northampton Branch)
30th July Work Party - River Gipping (IWA Ipswich Branch)

2nd August Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
2nd August Work Party - Dee Branch, Chester (IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch)
4th August Work Party - Hatton Locks (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
6th August Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
6th August Work Party - Hatton Locks (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
10th August Work Party - Northampton Arm (IWA Northampton Branch)
13th August Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
13th August Work Party - Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch)
14th August Work Party - Caldon Canal (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
16th August Work Party - Lapworth (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
19th August Work Party - Trent & Mersey Canal (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
19th August Work Party - Northampton Arm (IWA Northampton Branch)
20th August Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
21st August Work Party - Lapworth (supported by IWA Warwickshire Branch)
22nd August Work Party - Congleton (IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch)
27th August Work Party - River Gipping (supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)

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

Upcoming Towpath Walks

6th July Waterside Walk - King's Cross to Camden (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
9th July Waterside Walk - Lapworth (IWA Warwickshire Branch)
20th July Waterside Walk - Little Venice to Camden (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
24th July Waterside Walk - Wey & Arun Canal (Wey & Arun Canal Trust)
29th July Waterside Walk - Basingstoke Canal (Railway & Canal Historical Society)

3rd August Waterside Walk - Stratford (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
17th August Waterside Walk - Enfield (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
28th August Waterside Walk - Wey & Arun Canal (Wey & Arun Canal Trust)

To advertise your towpath walks 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:

  • ABC Boat Hire - 15% discount
  • Airedale Cruising - 10% Discount off skippered day cruises
  • Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
  • Calcutt Boats - 5% Discount
  • Canal Boat Magazine - 6 Issues for £6
  • CanalCruising.co.uk - 10% discount
  • Channel Glaze - 10% discount on double glazing for boats
  • Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
  • Europcar - Special hire rates to IWA members
  • Frangipani SUP Ltd - 10% discount
  • Forge Studio - 10% discount
  • Grand Union Diesel Services - 5% discount
  • IceGripper - 20% discount
  • Lee Sanitation Ltd. - 10% on orders over £100
  • Marine Megastore Ltd. - 15% discount
  • Midland Chandlers - 5% discount  
  • Paper Wizard - 15% discount
  • River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
  • RoadPro - 5% discount
  • UltimateBerths.com - Free Listing
  • Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard 
  • Worcester Marine Windows Ltd - 5% discount
  • Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd - 10% discount on published prices
  • Zead - Free postage and accessories

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 www.waterways.org.uk/support_us/members_area/member_discounts_special_offers_public

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

Contact Us

IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
01494 783 453
Bulletin is edited by Stefanie Preston


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