Branch Chairman honoured at Prince Charles's 70th Tea Party

Bernard Morton, Northampton Branch Chairman was chosen as one of 70 inspirational volunteers to share in Prince Charles's birthday celebrations. Read more...

Branch Achievement Award 2018

The Branch won the 2018 Branch Achievement Award for its work promoting more widely appreciated and well maintained local waterways. The award was presented by National Chairman, Ivor Caplan, at the charity's AGM in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, attended by over 160 people in October. After the ceremony Branch Chairman Bernard Morton said:"I am very proud to receive this award as acknowledgement of the hard work and commitment of our volunteers who turn out in all weathers to help make our canals a better place for everyone to enjoy."
The Branch has won the award three times.


Win big with Club 100

The IWA Northampton Branch has launched its own Club 100 to raise funds for Branch activities. First prize is £500, second prize is £200 and third prize is £100. It will run annually so we are asking for a single payment for each year, for each share. Each member can have up to four £15 shares. (A total of four for couples with joint membership). For more details visit the IWA Northampton Branch homepage.

New Mosaic Nature Trail on Northampton Arm

May 2018

The new mosaic nature trail on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal,  featuring 34 mosaic designs, was officially inaugurated by Northamptonshire Deputy Lieutenant Joan Kirkbride on 21st April 2018.  This exciting new feature was made possible by a legacy from John Faulkner – a long-standing and active supporter of IWA, hard work of volunteers from IWA’s Northampton Branch led by Geoff Wood and Mick Butler, the designs of pupils from two local primary schools, and the talent of mosaic expert David Bowers.

Photo by Kathryn Dodington

The finished trail boasts two mosaic panels at each of the locks of the Northampton Arm, one recording an aspect of canal life, the other forming part of the nature trail with a letter identifying the aspect of nature pictured.   The trail doubles up as a challenge for children, to collect all the letters and work out the phrase they spell.  In return they will be rewarded with a Certificate of Achievement.  For full details of the Challenge, visit the IWA Northampton Branch homepage.

David Blagrove MBE

David Blagrove MBE

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of David Blagrove, MBE, in the early hours of Friday 12th August after a long and courageous battle against cancer.  David, of course, was a “household name” throughout the inland waterways world largely as an historian and author together with his deep knowledge and association with the historic narrowboat scene.  By profession he was a teacher but had also spent time as a working boatman.

As a Branch, we must count ourselves as very fortunate that David lived in our area, at Stoke Bruerne, since the mid-1960s.  He joined IWA in 1960 and was a founder member of our Northampton Branch in 1971-2 having previously joined the South East Midlands Branch which included Northampton.  He was a former Branch Chairman and remained a loyal supporter of our work and activities (often as an organiser) to the end.

For over 60 years, David actively campaigned for the restoration and promotion of our waterways, starting in the 50s when, whilst still at school, he became a member of the Kennet and Avon Canal Association whose work led to its eventual re-opening in 1990.  In June 2014, he was awarded the MBE in recognition of his services towards the restoration of UK waterways.

In the weeks ahead, the waterways press and other publications will be reviewing his life in a variety of ways.  Meanwhile, as a Branch, his passing is an enormous loss.  We send sincere condolences to his wife, Jean, and all his family.

Investigation launched after fuel leaks into Northampton Arm

fuel leak at gayton

On Saturday 6th June, the Canal & River Trust was instructed by the Environment Agency to close the Northampton Arm to navigation until further notice due to a serious pollution incident. Never did we imagine the scale of the problem but, thanks to regular updates from CRT and fellow boaters, everyone that was planning to use the Arm were well informed and understanding.

Firefighters were called shortly before 4.15am to discover a highly inflammable fuel from a pipeline near the marina was leaking directly into the water.  Assisted by the Environment Agency, the Canal & River Trust and specialist contractors, an operation was started immediately to try stop the leak and to remove the fuel from the surface of the water.

The area affected was contained to about a 600-metre stretch from the Blisworth Arm, running south towards the M1 at Rothershorpe.  The vapour created can cause breathing difficulties and as a result 10 people were evacuated from the immediate area and were individually assessed by triage staff from the East Midlands Ambulance Service. They were placed in temporary accommodation by staff from Northamptonshire County Councils Emergency Planning Service.

Police also searched all 150 boats in the immediate area to check if anyone else was on board.  Chief Supt Paul Fell, who is leading the operation for Northamptonshire Police, said: "This was a criminal act which has had very significant environmental consequences in that stretch of the canal.

"We are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in that area during the early hours of today to contact us as soon as possible on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 111 222"


A spokeswoman for the Canal & River Trust said that 50,000 litres of fuel leaked into the canal after a pipe running over the water was drilled into.

In a statement from the Environment Agency, the clear-up was complete, although  "Initial findings suggest that there has been some impact on the invertebrates and further information is limited due to the ongoing investigation on the effect of the pollution."

A message was sent out at 2pm on Tuesday to announce the Northampton Arm was navigable.

Recognition of Branch efforts


Local Northampton newspaper, Chronicle & Echo publishes story about volunteer award on 8th January 2015 with sub heading: "Their task parties have transformed the waterways".

Branch receives CRT Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award 2014

volunteeraward2014CRT SE has presented their Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award for 2014 to the Branch. The award, a shield containing the names of previous winners, was presented to Geoff Wood and Mick Butler, our Task Party Co-ordinators at the Canal Museum on Saturday 13th December.

Chairman Bernard Morton said: "We are delighted that the Canal & River Trust have chosen to recognise the hard work of our volunteers with an award. Since we adopted the Northampton Arm over a year ago a great deal has been achieved. We are very grateful to the Trust for the support they have given our group, resulting in a very visible transformation.”

The award will be held by the Branch for a year before being awarded to next years winner.

Branch Adoption of the Northampton Arm

The Branch continues to hold regular task parties on the Northampton Arm, working with other volunteer groups and corporate volunteer teams. More than a year on since the first task party, a great deal has been achieved. Most of the locks have been painted or re-painted, there has been a great deal of vegetation clearance and the sanitary station at Gayton Junction has been refurbished. See the Diary pages for details of our next Task Party. Why not join us!

We were recently made aware of a letter published in the October edition of Towpath Talk extolling the work carried out by volunteers and CRT on the Arm.

Dates for future task parties are on the Diary Page. All are welcome to join in. Contact geoff.wood for more information.



More From the Branch

Please note there will be a SUMMER STOPPAGE on Braunston Flight

Monday 3rd to Thursday 6th June 2019

Type: Navigation Closure
Reason: Essential Repairs

For the latest navigation information on the River Nene please go to the Environment Agency website

Read more local news in our Branch Magazine, Endeavour.