Saturday, 7 December 2019

Exploring the lost Bentley Canal

Bentley Canal in Wednesfield
December 2019

Well, I have finally got cracking on the next series of Canal Hunter, starting off with the elusive upper half of the Bentley Canal and the Neachells Branch.


Bentley top lock

This section has been heavily built over, but thankfully there are lots of photos to fill in the gaps. 

Here is an easy link to the video:

Canal Hunter series three - Bentley Canal (part one)

Click subscribe on the YouTube channel to catch future episodes.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

CRT Jottings - Elected Boaters meeting 26th Nov 2019

CRT Jottings - Elected Boaters Meeting 
26 Nov 2019

A meeting between CRT and the Elected Boater Representatives took place last week in Aqua House, Birmingham and the following issues were discussed:

Strong Stream warning system
This on line service is not currently available due to a technical issue which is being addressed. 
The issues with the service are not limited to the current technical problems and it probably true to say that it is more accurately described as a water level indicator, as most measures don't include flow rates. The wording describing the warnings needs to be changed to better reflect what it does and where the data comes from. These feeds include SCADA, Manual input, EA measures plus inconsistent measures from the Kennet and Avon and other non CRT waters such at the Warwickshire Avon.

A single, consistent nationwide system is needed.

There is also inconsistency between the on line measures and the bankside boards where canals meet rivers.

The priority is to resolve the on line offering which can be done quickly and at minimal cost. Changes to the "in the field" hardware have budget implications and will will be considered alongside other asset requirements.

Election Update (CRT National Council)

The invitation for National Council nominees has resulted in a larger number or candidates than four years ago.

There are:
5 nominees for the two Business Boating seats
34 nominees for the four Private Boating seats.

The election process is detailed on CRT's website.

After election an integration programme will be deployed to bring the new representatives up to speed as quickly as possible.

There was concern that the nominees may not all appreciate what is expected of them beyond the 2 annual National Council meetings. It was suggested that in future an explanation paper should be issues to all individuals submitting an application, giving a detailed insight into what role is and entails before the closing date for withdrawal is reached - helping candidates make informed decisions.

Boater Survey update

The main annual boaters survey issued in Feb / March to 1/3 of license holders is now being supplemented by bi weekly surveys issued to 2500 licence holders triggered by boat sightings. These requests deliver approx 300 results every 2 weeks, and this supplementary research work generates near real time insights month by month. Because it is based on boat movements recorded it delivers opinions of travelling boats rather than those of moorers.

The overall satisfaction levels in the main annual survey had dropped to 62% (from 71%) but the additional feedback showed this score rising from 64% in April to a rolling average of 67% in September.

The key issues raised are facilities, non compliant boats, dredging and overhanging towpath vegetation.

I small Hire Boaters survey has been undertaken and the results will be circulated in the near future.

Overall the North, Wales and East Midlands are rated the highest.

Most respondees had visited CRT's website and 65% found it easy to use.

Key take away was that movers were more satisfied than those that don't move much. Also the levels of satisfaction were improving over the summer.

Wide-beam issues

There have been seven unbooked wide-beam passages through Blisworth Tunnel this summer. This is in contravention to license T&C's and represents a very significant H&S risk. There is also concern that some craft with excessive air draft may damage tunnels and bridges. The plan is to feed such passages into the license renewal approval process.

There was discussion about adding movable width restrictors at the ends of the tunnel, but given the levels of non compliant passages a retrospective warning system is preferred.

Wide- beam mooring can also be an issue and inconsiderate mooring on some bends,  and a suitable approach to apply penalties is being considered.

Three Words positioning application

This application is becoming more widely used to pinpoint individuals locations. CRT's call centre staff have this system available and a comms is being developed to raise awareness.

Water Point compliance

The need for various adaptations to public CRT water points was raised including insulation and non return valves. More stringent anti back syphon rules apply to taps near Elsan / pump out points.

CRT will take this potential away and consider what action may need to be built into their facilities programme.

Emissions issue

Feedback has been sought re the level of impact the proposed changes will have. So far CRT have 400 responses and these will be collated and submitted to the Government in Jan 2020.

Next Meeting is in February 2020.

Canal Hunter Series Three starts

Canal Hunter - Series Three Introduction and the Slough Arm
November 2019

For those of you that don't already subscribe to my YouTube channel "Life at 2.3 Miles per Hour", I have started a new series hunting for the lost sections of is Birmingham Canal Navigations. 

This season I will be looking for the remains off the Wyrley and Essington Canal, and my plan is to publish and episode each Saturday till we reach the bottom of Ogley Locks near Lichfield.

That should keep me busy for most of the winter!

Click here for Series Three, Episode One - Introduction and The Slough Arm.

Happy watching!

Saturday, 23 November 2019

CRT's National Council Elections

CRT's National Council Elections
November 2019

CRT will soon be holding elections for seats on their National Council.



The names of those standing will be published on 25th November and voting will take place on line between 20th Jan and 14th Feb 2020.

All 12 month license holders on CRT's books as at 19th Sept will be eligible to cast a vote.

I have represented Business Boating for the last four years I can confirm that I will be standing for re-election. However, because the 500 Roving Traders have now been included in the Private Boating constituency, I will this time be seeking votes from the wider combined Private Boating and Roving Trader community.

The election pages limit me to a manifesto of just 200 words so, to supplement this, I have produced a short YouTube video explaining the role of the National Council and why I am standing for re-election for a further four years.

Click on this link to take you straight to my video.

I would be grateful if you would 1. share this around the various on line forums to spread the word and 2. vote for me when the time comes.

Many thanks.


Friday, 22 November 2019

Exploring the Aylsham Navgation

Canoe trip down the Aylsham Navigation
November 2019


I spent much of my adolescence messing about on the River Bure near my home village of Coltishall in Norfolk. If I wasn't swimming in it I was fishing, sailing or canoeing. 

One way or another I always seemed to find myself somewhere near the river, and often on the reaches above Coltishall Lock which comprised the Aylsham Navigation, before it was washed out in a huge flood in 1912.

I have always fancied making a canoe trip along the old navigation and a few weeks ago I have the opportunity to do just that, accompanied by my son Dan.

We sent a day travelling from Aylsham to Coltishall in a canoe rented from The Canoe Man, taking advantage in a small window of opportunity when the river level subsided enough to make the passage possible.

I took my trusty GoPro with me and made thee videos of the trip into which I have woven an account of its history, along with my recollections of life on the river in the 1970's.

For those of you without a YouTube account her are three links to the videos: