Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Pretty as a picture

Pretty as a picture
April 2018


Helen has been keeping secrets from me and, as we all know, "suspicion tears you apart". Not good news on the run up to our 30th wedding anniversary (23rd July).

She has been nurturing this secret from months, coyly alluding to "something special" every now and then, but never letting on what she was keeping from me. Whats more,I knew there was money involved, which disturbs an ex banker to his roots. 

Jan Vallance's painting of our boats under way

Finally. a few days ago Helen started a gradual reveal. The money was for a gift to both of us to celebrate our forthcoming anniversary, but such was its physical size there was no way she could smuggle it onto the boat for the actual day, or even hide it away at home.

Today I was expecting a big pre season glass delivery, but instead the parcel man arrived bearing a big flattish package which was snatched from my grasp by "Mrs Secrets". She returned beaming with a pair of scissors and asked me to open it. 

After a brief tussle with the parcel tape I got in and there was the back of a picture. Oh er - we are not always in agreement when it comes to artwork, so it was more than a bit of nervousness I turned it over. 

It was a specially commissioned Jan Vallance painting and not just of any old canal scene, but instead it was one of our own boats making their way north along the Worcester Birmingham Canal. It is fantastic, lovely, amazing and all so technically accurate! I love it and immediately saw that the chimney breast in our dining room was the ideal place for it. As you can imagine, Helen was there way before me....

Barry's original photograph
But that's not all. The actual image is included in Barry Tutenberg's top fifty photographs from their 2015 travels.

So a vote of thanks, first to Helen, the continuing Mrs Tidy whose secretive behaviour is not only forgiven but forgotten. Secondly to Jan Vallance for creating such a lovely and unique painting which will inspire be during the long winter days at home, and finally to Barry Teutenburg who not only supplied the original image but also suffered my glacially slow progress along the Worcester Birmingham canal for hour after hour!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Cley next the Sea

Cley next the Sea
April 2018

After all the cold followed by the rain I was blessed with wall to wall sunshine during a recent visit to North Norfolk.


I went out with my mother to follow the North Norfolk coast round from Cromer to Hunstanton. Along the was we saw the wave spray splashing over the shingle bar at Cley next the Sea. We drove down to the beach which offered an opportunity to grab some images before my fingers went numb.





Thursday, 5 April 2018

North Walsham and Dilham Canal revisited

North Walsham and Dilham Canal
April 2018

I guess I visit the North Walsham and Dilham Canal about once a year, paying a watery pilgrimage when I come to visit my mother who lives in North Walsham, just a mile or so from Swafield where the restored navigation will end.


Ebridge Mill with lock and spillway

A year seems to be a good gap to appreciate progress and a cracking article by Martin Ludate in the July 2017 edition of the Eastern Daily Press's magazine "Norfolk" only served to whet my appetite.

Distinctive ground paddle

I started out at Ebridge Mill with its tranquil pool and well preserved lock chamber. When I was at school this was a sea of reeds with the remains of a steam dredger stranded on the mud in the middle. Today it is a glorious spot and the development for 2017 was the restoration of the spillway by a WRG camp. At the time of my visit the canal / river was brimming full and the spillway was in use, bypassing the old lock chamber.


Bacton Wood Lock

A little to the north west you come to Bacton Wood Bridge which is now the home for a slightly primitive trip boat, or should I say raft. I have long felt that the restored length would benefit from a trip boat and I guess you have to make a start somewhere!

 Trip Boat



Distinctive castings for the North Walsham and Dilham Canal

The restored lock at Bacton Wood stands ready to carry its first boat and it was particularly interested to take a closer look at the "lock furniture" which is all original and recycled. The castings are unique to the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, even bearing the legend G Cubitt, Nth Walsham.



North of Bacton Wood the canal is kind of wet rather than watered but stroll up to the culverted Royston Bridge and you return to a canal full of the wet stuff. The relationship between the restorers and the Environment Agency has been very like the Brexit Negotiations with angst and strong words, but over time they are making progress.


Partially re watered north of Royston Bridge

The Agency were not at all happy about the watering of the section between Bacton Wood and Ebridge and applied a stop order on their work. But over time relations seem to have thawed and there seems to be a cautious acceptance that the watering of the Swafield pound will be a good thing. 



 Dredging progresses

From a flood control perspective the big canal channel has to be a better bet than the narrow ditch which represents the current bed of the River Ant. The restorers have both cleared out the reeds and dredged the section north of Royston Bridge to a depth of about 18 inches. Water marks on the banks bear testimony to a full depth trial re watering in Jan 2018 when their integrity was tested. There is evidence of extra material being added to the top of the south bank in recent weeks and hopefully this is a prelude to full and permanent re watering.

Swafield Bridge reach

I have to admit that the restoration team always seem to be blessed with some seriously good kit which is parked here and there along the canal. All in all the volunteer enthusiasm, heavy duty kit and increasingly supportive authorities should see this top couple of miles in water in the very near future.

I will keep you posted...


Friday, 30 March 2018

Naburn Locks

Naburn Locks
March 2018

In my last post covering the CRT National Council Meeting in York I mentioned a site visit to Naburn Locks.

CRT and Council members gather at the Naburn Locks workshops

Naturally, I took my camera with me to record this far flung outpost of the connected waterways system, a location I would very much like to visit by boat. However, Naburn is Ouse equivalent of the Trent's Cromwell Lock. It forms the top of the tidal Ouse beyond which the waters of the Ouse are controlled. 

Bridges over Naburn Locks

We were given a guided tour by the resident lock keeper who has lived and worked on the site for 35 years, supported by volunteers. 

Naburn Banqueting House

The first and smaller lock was built in the 1750's and a larger one capable of carrying 400 ton craft was built next to it in 1888. Between this time the Trustees of the Ouse Navigation built the imposing Banqueting House next door. This fine Greek revival building has been hotel, night club and guest house in its time but alas it is prone to flooding and occupies a very remote location. As a result it has been a  commercial failure and rumour has it that it has defaulted to the ownership of Nick Mason of pink Floyd who is looking to sell.

The lock island used to host a four story water mill which was demolished about 100 years ago. However, the old navigation buildings still stand and are being creatively redeveloped by volunteers who have transformed them to a visitor centre on a shoestring budget. The complex includes a forge, a workshop and offices.

Naburn Lock Keepers cottages

To date attention has focused on the workshop and forge which contain period machines and an interpretation boards. The offices are stripped out and restoration is ongoing.

Outside a nature  and heritage trail is being established funded by the 'Tesco Bags for help' scheme which includes six locally relevant totem poles created by a local chain saw artist. As it stands the site justifies a couple of hours plus, in good weather, a picnic on the open grass area.

Archbishop's Palace

Perversely, this lock island is the only land owned by the Trust in the area so they are making what they can of it and it is great to see its potential being realised.

Return to York

Thursday, 29 March 2018

CRT National Council jottings

CRT National Council Jottings
March 2018

Canal and River Trust's National Council meets once every six months and follows a pattern of one meeting taking place immediately after the Annual Public Meeting in September and the other in various locations around the country.

You may recall that my first March meeting took place at Liverpool Docks, last year was in Bath and this year we gathered in the Yorkshire Museum in York.

I have to admit that I find this roaming approach to the spring meeting very informative, even if it creates travel issues. The formal meetings run from 11.30 till 4.30 but on each occasion there is an optional site visit and thhis time the reward for showing up at 8.30 was a coach trip to Naburn Locks and a boat trip back to the meeting venue in Museum Gardens. Its surprising what you learn on these trips. Did you know that whilst CRT owns the river navigation of the Ouse through York, they own no land in the city and the Naburn Locks site is their closest bit of real estate? They are therefore, with much volunteer assistance, developing the flood prone lock island into something of a visitor attraction which is well worth a visit and how better to travel the six miles than by boat. Its good to see aspects of CRT in action as it "grounds" discussions. These informal site visits also offer an opportunity to have a chat with CRT staff, the Trustees and other council members which is a massive plus. I sometime think that my greatest influence on the Council is via the informal discussion opportunities it offers rather than formal questions raised "in session".

Given the numbers involved in these meetings they tend to be a succession of presentations and information dumps, designed to inform and offer some scope to challenge in question and answer sessions which follow each segment. However, time is limited and we have to crack on to keep to the timed agenda.

What follows is a precis of my notes, which are not formal minutes and are simply the things which struck me during the meeting and may well contain personal misunderstandings, errors or omissions. With those caveats in place here goes:

Richard Parry 
Key comments
  • With an operating turnover of over £200m the trust had a small surplus of £800k last year.
  • Income was slightly above plan
  • £2.7m was received from the Postcode Lottery and the Trust is now a "Direct beneficiary" (which is a good thing)
  • There have been lengthy legal appeals regarding water abstraction on the River Lea and currently they find in CRT's favour, which may have a positive impact on future income.
  • Public safety - 300 recorded incidents last year which was about average.
  • Towpath satisfaction stands at 91%
  • Volunteers offered 490,000 hours and were 96% satisfied
  • 205 community adoptions are in place
  • Donating friends stand at 23,500 vs a target of 28,500
  • Public brand awareness is rising but stands at 36% vs target of 40%

Operations
  • Breach as Middlewich is significant but not as large as Dutton last year. Access is difficult and the closure will be lengthy. Limited damage to third party property.
  • Lea Navigation at Pyms Brook - a tanker full of oil was illegally dumped in the brook and has been very difficult to clear up and has resulted in a 5 week stoppage.
  • Following another towpath death in Manchester there have been renewed public appeals for the installation of barriers which is being balanced with boater needs and heritage issues.

Winter Works
  • 240 planned stoppages
  • 180 gates replaced
  • Marple Locks have included a near complete rebuild of one lock which was not expected. Canal opens in early May. Aqueduct railings added to offside funded by Postcode Lottery.
  • Extensive pinning needed on the Mon and Brec.
  • Significant repair work to quadrants on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which had developed cavities beneath.
Engagement and Participation
  • 8 open days took place attracting 15,000 visitors (2 cancelled)
  • There has been a focus on safeguarding this year
  • The CRT re-organisation has seen an emphasis shift and the exec roles have been reduced to 7. Senior manager numbers have dropped from 78 to 60 of which 42 are filled and 18 are open.
  • No gender pay gap exists within the Trust.
  • The Trusts aim is moving progressively to a Waterway and Wellbeing Trust. In effect this is extending its aims to a wider audience.
  • The quality of contractors used is being closely scrutinised following well known issues with Carillion etc.
  • The EA transfer now appears unlikely.
  • BWML is seen as a non core operation and a buyer is being sought. 

Jenny Abramsky - appointments committee chair
  • Terms of Reference amended to reflect the new Regional Advisory Boards
  • Recruitment of chairs is underway in the 6 regions (was 10)
  • It defines the max and min number of seats on regional committees.
  • Following the departure of some experienced trustees replacements are being sought
National Council Review
  • Group discussions took place and concluded that a Council Member handbook would be of benefit, defining what a council member does, how its is done and how best to maximise the influence membership offers.
Long Term Debt
Stuart Mills (Chief Investment Officer and Sandra Kelly (Finance Director)
  • At its inception it was agreed that the Trust should carry some debt, initially via a £25m revolving credit line upped to £50m in 2016.
  • This debt was consolidated in a private placement of £150m at the end of 2017. 
  • This debt is agreed over a 30 year term at less than 3% interest, offering stability.
  • The money is invested in the Trust's investment portfolio of which property is making 10.8% and non property 9%.
  • In effect the trust is borrowing cheaply based on its asset base and inherent strength, investing the money is assets which are earning a return which is higher than the financing costs and the difference (called arbitrage) is profit applied to the trusts wider operations.
  • (Andys comment 1. Dont get blinded by this high  finance stuff. In simple terms the trust owns investment assets of £800m which is an endowment providing income. They see an opportunity to make more money from this source and are borrowing some long term money to buy more commercial property. Its a bit like a glorified "buy to let" where you use the value of your home to support a cheap second mortgage to buy another property which you then let out.)
  • The private placement was to a number of well known North American and European institutions which, we were assured, do not carry reputational risks. (Andy's comment 2 - I was rather worried about this because the names are not in the public domain).
  • (Andys comment 3 - I am comfortable with this overall arrangement which appears prudent and well stress tested, however, as with personal debt, a bit is fine but one can overdo things. The Trustees assured us that they have no current intention of any further placements beyond £150m and in my view any further increase in long term debt should be discussed before it is entered into)
Licensing
John Horsfall (Interim Head of Boating)
  • 32,000 leisure licenses and 1,000 business licenses covering 2,000 craft.
  • Generates £27m of income
  • The rules covering licensing are within the BW Act of 1995 and are "opaque". (Andy's comment - Think of the Pirates Code - not  so much rules as guidelines...)
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the number of boats used as dwellings since the act was passed. Mostly these are on a continuous cruising basis.
  • The recent review is about fairness, not income generation.
  • Consultation elicited 11,000 responses and an overriding desire was to see area included in the calculation.
  • The details of the new structure are in the public domain and have so far generated 15 to 20 complaints.
  • Some areas such as discounts such as Electric, Historic and areas of high demand are subject to further ongoing review to ensure that they deliver the desired outcomes.
Brand Update
Nicky Wakeford
  • Brand awareness has been growing and has risen from 30% in April 16 to 37% today.
  • The cascade of engagement is : Beneficiary (say towpath user) to Follower (say Facebook) to Friend and then Volunteer.
  • The slower than expected growth in public awareness is a major issue as it is inextricably linked with the bid for further government grant funding when the existing package expires.
  • Focus groups were convened to identify the key message needed. Well Being emerged as the key message we are not getting over - the benefits of being able to spend time beside water which has a proven link with peoples emotional and physical wellbeing.
  • The resulting strapline is "making life better by water".
  • This altered strapline will be accompanied by a change of logo 
  • The colours will be blue and green and the logo will be circular to better fit on social media.
  • This new identity will launch of 21 May (I havnt seen a draft)
  • There will be a 2 to 3 year roll out
  • The cost is being bourne be the normal Marketing budget and we are assured that this exercise has not involved expensive consultancies. It appears quite home grown.
  • Assets bearing the Trust Logo will be rebranded as they are replaced in the usual cycle.

Andy's comment on re branding

  • As soon as I saw this my heart sank and like many of you I thought "here we go - another go at rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic where the only winner is the PR agency commissioned". Actually this is far from the case and in my view this step is essential - let me explain why.
  • As boaters and canal lovers we all know the benefit of time by the water but this message isnt getting out there fast enough
  • A massive 25% of the Trust income is from the government grant which is subject to renegotiation and possible termination in a few years time.
  • The trust is doing what it can to increase income from other areas such as friends, investments and utilities but this is not enough to replace the grant should it stop.
  • Its clear that if we want to see the canals and rivers maintained in the next decade the continuation of the government grant is essential.
  • Governments are always looking for ways to cut costs and the CRT  grant is a sitting duck for the butchers block.
  • Maintaining a pretty canal network for a handful of boaters isnt a compelling argument but if the millions who benefit form the canal environment recognise the benefit they receive and use their voice to lobby the government the chances of success are much higher
  • Put simply, if we want to keep our river and canal network we have to see the public engagement increase dramatically. At the moment they use the asset but dont recognise who CRT are. If we dont get this cracked we will be in serious trouble in a few years.
  • Everyone realises that the current logo is fine for us existing users - but its not hitting the spot for the wider world.
  • If something isnt working you have to bite the bullet and make the change. The Logo / strapline is in exactly this position and I would argue strongly that we embrace the change, and move to being active advocates of the Waterways and Wellbeing concept asap.
  • For me this is pure self interest. I want to see my watery playground continue and improve and if it takes a switch of emphases - fine. Bring it on.
I think thats about it. I am sure I missed some issues but these were the stand out's from the event. Please give me feedback of issues you think should be considered / communicated.

Its probably fair to say that the boating and business issues are mostly addressed at working group meetings which happen two or three times a year than at these big National Council meetings.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Cold Water

Cold water
March 2018

With our week on the slipway complete, Wand'ring bark was winched back into the murky waters of Hawne Basin, but not before the reinstatement of the weed hatch had been confirmed. That oversight would result in a quick submarine impersonation, and that would never do!

Back into the water

We followed a slow moving Hawne, the Coombswood Trust's workboat, though the Gosty Hill Tunnel. Their progress was hampered were by the Joey they were towing over to Wolverhampton for the BCN clean up weekend. In classic towing style they were trying to keep the unmanned Joey on a straight course using a length of chain dragged from the stern. The other time honored approach is a bucket on a rope.


Hawne towing

Free of our own butty we were fairly scooting along and were soon past them and were half way through the Netherton Tunnel before Hawne's very unsubtle Ford Transit engine bellowed into the western portal behind us - sending waves of noise and vibration all down the bore.

With Factory Locks closed till May we scooted round to Brades where I unwisely let myself drift to the offside and promptly picked up a bladeful of poly bags. A quick trip down the weed hatch was enough to clear the problem but it was soon apparent that the water temperature was little above freezing. Hmm, I muttered to myself, I really hope I don't pick up anything nasty today because I don't fancy having my hands in the water for long. 

We met Rob from Hawne at Brades. He had jumped on a bus at the Tividale Aqueduct and arrived just in time to set the Staircase pair for us.

New towpath at Deepfields

We pressed on through Tipton to Coseley where extensive towpath improvements were underway, work that went on fairly continuously Wednesfield on the Wyrley and Essington. The works near New Cross Hospital seem to be extensive, needing a double width pontoon which was anchored mid channel and barely left enough deep water to get by. Its the first time I have seen a wide beam on the BCN, even if it is made of is single narrow pontoon hinged in the middle.



Works in the Wyrley and Essington at Wolverhampton

We made good progress till Short Heath where the debris started to get really bad. We weaved in and out of the obstacles but I guess it was inevitable that we would come a cropper in the end. Just as we approached Lane Head Bridge we snagged what we later found out was a double duvet. We poled ourselves to the visitor moorings and made a tentative foray down the weedhatch. Wow the water was cold! A bit of prodding revealed a nasty bundle round the prop and attempts to saw the stuffing off were spectacularly unsuccessful. However, I have never been defeated and have found that with patience most things can be removed. In this case we managed to haul a section through the weedhatch and so started to clear it out of the water. The stuffing was best removed by tearing small bits by hand whilst the cotton cover was best removed with a serrated knife. In the end we cleared in in about 45 mins which left just enough daylight to get to Sneyd Junction where we moored on the offside of a workboat on the water point.

A refurbished Pelsall Works Bridge

Having woken early I was up and away by 7.00am and by the time Dan emerged at 11.00 we were through Aldridge and just 40 minuted from our mooring at Longwood,

It was good to give the boat a pre season shake down and I identified a few issues which need to be addressed before we set of for our 2018 summer cruise in a few weeks.



Wednesday, 21 March 2018

A bad weekend for blacking

A bad weekend for blacking
21 March 2018

Way back in the summer I booked the boat onto the slip way at Hawne Basin, opting for late March as I figured it offered the best chance for mild weather. Big mistake.


 Leaving the Longwood building site

Our two day trip from Longwood was pleasant weather wise, but being one of the first boats out and about meant we encountered a lot of submerged debris, notably a silt bank in Rushall bottom lock and then an array of washing machines and shopping trollies on the way up the Riders Green flight.

M5 gridlock

The boat was hauled out of the water at 8.30 am and promptly pressure washed, exposing lots of loose bitumen. The weekend forecast was for the Beast from the East Mk 2 so I made hay on the Friday, stripping it all down with a roto blaster disc and then applied a coat of undercoat to the gunnels, a layer of bitumen to the waterline and then a coat over all the sides in the afternoon. The afternoon was rounded off with a coat of topcoat to the gunnels before turning in for the night.


End of day 1

I woke on Saturday to a very different Hawne Basin. Gone was the mild spring weather and in its place it was -2c and blowing a gale straight into the shed. The bitumen was warmed but even so it cooled fast and went on very thick, more smearing than painting. That said, I managed to complete the blacking but there was no way I could do any more painting.

Blizzard

The plan had been to spend the weekend doing all sorts of painting, but all this had to be abandoned and Helen was called to come and rescue me. 

Stern snowdrift

The weather got worse and worse over the weekend with drifts building up around our home and I have to admit I feared for the boat exposed up on the slipway. It was with some trepidadion I returned on  Monday, with the temperature hovering just above freezing. I was so glad I hadn't tried to tough it out on the unheated boat as a drift had accumulated on the back deck and a small one had even accumulated inside the back cabin! Fortunately the systems on the boat survived the frost.

Internal snowdrift

The weather was just good enough to paint the stern and attach the fenders ready for relaunching on Friday - the rest of the painting will have to wait.

The application of the blacking is functional, but the thickness means it has more sags than usual. Hey ho - I will have to repeat the whole exercise again in three years.    


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Braunston's iron bridges

Braunston's iron bridges
January 2018


My ongoing exploration of Horsley Ironworks bridges took me to Braunston this week, a location where two iron arches span the junction joined by a short brick linking bridge.



This is an unusual configuration and one which I found challenging to photograph well. I started in Midland Chandlers car park but the side on view into the light really didn't work.



Then the heavens beamed on me and the pall of grey cloud blew away and by the time we had walked round via the main road bridge we were graced by a low January sun and clear blue sky.



Enough said about the bridges - I will let the photos speak for themselves and reveal why these two identical arches are among the waterways most iconic structures.


Thursday, 4 January 2018

CRT Jottings - Boaters Representatives Meeting

CRT Boaters Representatives meeting
3 Jan 2018

Yesterday (3rd Jan) was one of the periodic meetings between CRT and the Elected Boater Representatives on the National Council, an opportunity to explore issues both parties want to raise.

The main subjects discussed on this occasion included:

1. Trust management restructure.

  • The aim behind this restructure is to improve efficiency and at the same time to improve agility to respond to customer needs.
  • The trust has operated for 5 years within the structure developed during the transition from BW and it is now an opportune time to update itself.
  • The 2014 centralisation changes had many positives outcomes, but also some negative impacts on the flexibility of regional teams, and this process will address these issues.
  • The Trust will move to six regions each with a Regional Director with teams to deploy according to local needs.
  • The elements of the Trust which are best served by a national approach will be retained (eg. water management).
  • The Waterways Partnerships will be revised to reflect the new regions and given a clearer mandate to develop local strategy, income generation and local engagement.
  • This process is on going with the statutory consultation starting in mid December and running till mid February.
  • All senior managers (about 85) are impacted, a population which will reduce as roles are redefined.
  • A simplified "flatter" management grading system will be adopted.
  • The Representatives flagged a number of potential issues at both a governance and a practical on the ground level, and these concerns were noted for consideration in the deployment planning process.
2. Short Term Moorings
  • The Feb 2015 paper was revisited to consider if it remains fit for purpose.
  • The feeling both within CRT and among the boater representatives is that the mooring strategy is being applied inconsistently
  • There was a feeling that a "Mooring Etiquette Guide" is needed to help define the standards which are to be encouraged.
  • Particular attention is needed in relation to disabled moorings (these are self policed and CRT do not validate boaters with disabilities)
  • The regional short term mooring period guidance should be clarified to achieve greater consistency when applied.
  • Guidance should also be offered on the expectation to close of gaps between moored boats to maximise the mooring availability, particularly in honeypot sites.
  • There is feedback that some fishermen are asking for spaces to be left between moored boats. It was clarified that this spacing arrangement applies in just two locations and covers just the Winter Moorings. The policy is not applicable generally.
  • The Etiquette issue will be developed within the Navigation Advisory Group (NAG).
3. Wide Beam Boats
  • Feedback was sought on issues relating to the increasing number of widebeam boats navigating and mooring on the canals.
  • Particular issues flagged up included the introduction of wide beams as houseboats on narrow canals, which therefore create a navigation obstacle, unless they remain within a purpose built marina.
  • The increased number of wide beam craft on the Grand Union was highlighted given the limitations of navigable width in the extant water channel. It was observed that the canal was never designed for nor does it have a history of extensive wide beam usage.
  • The disproportionate increase in the introduction of wide beam craft on the Grand Union over the last decade is raising the significance of the issue.
  • It was observed that most wide beams are intended for use as house boats and the need to continually cruise to satisfy the licensing rules actually causes the navigation issue raised. 
  • Ideally the creation of off line moorings for wide beam craft would reduce the numbers navigating to just the occasional relocation trip. This  would also encourage the development of unpowered houseboats more suited for use as a home. 
  • The costs associated with supporting wide beam passages through the Braunston and Blisworth Tunnels was raised.
  • CRT staff listen to the various issues and will consider them in their future planning.
4. Licensing Review
  • As at 18th Dec the third phase of the consultation process had attracted 10,915 responses, which equates to one third of the license holders. 
  • This is a very encouraging response rate and will provide a statistically credible picture of boater views. TONIC (the review contractor) are currently analysing the data with CRT in readiness for a Board Meeting at the end of January.
  • Any changes will be phased in from April 2019 (not the current licensing year).
  • The needs of business boats will be considered in the light of what is agreed for recreational boats and subject to its own consultation process.
5. London Mooring Strategy
  • So far 1250 responses have been received out of a target of 4500, with a few more coming in after an extended deadline.
  • Feedback is being reviewed internally by CRT and results are expected by the end of February.
  • Overall the process applied to this review has attracted positive feedback.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Pottering in Pelsall

Pottering about on Pelsall Common
January 2018

Regular readers will know that we have a certain fondness for Pelsall Common, enven in the depths of winter.

Many readers will be familiar with the much photographed iron roving bridge spanning the village side of the common with the towpath leading up the Cannock Extension Canal, usually shown with the Fingerpost Pub in the background.



What is less celebrated is the more humble Pelsall Works Bridge at the Bloxwich end of the common. But take a closer look at this workaday iron bridge and you will disocver that it too was built by the Horsley Ironworks (then known as the Horsley Iron and Coal Company on account of its coal mining activities in its early years). 






Sure this is a simple flat top iron bridge which can be found across the coal mining area, but this one carries the date [ ] which sets it apart as the oldest dated bridge from these celebrated casters from Tipton. And whats more, I think that the tell grace of the classic Horsley arch with cast embellishments can be detected even in this early example.

Local boaters please note that whilst there is a sign up notifying a navigation closure from 20th Jan to mid March for major bridge repairs, I have been told by CRT that these are likely to be pushed back into next winter.