Saturday 4 February 2012

Backroom Boating, C&RT elections and all that jazz...

Backroom Boating, C&RT elections and all that jazz...
February 2012

January isn't usually seen as a high profile month for boating. The canals are at a virtual standstill, either closed for repairs or locked solid in winter's icy grip and boaters minds are just starting to turn to cruising routes for the next season. Not so January 2012.

I spent much of January in Istanbul on business catching up on the boating news each time I returned to the UK - and what a lot of news there was to read. 

First there were the C&RT Council elections. E-mails from BW confirming receipt of my nomination papers, confirmation that all my sponsors were bona fide boaters (I was a bit worried about the one from Mr M Mouse, but its seems to have gone through OK) and then the inclusion of my name on the 33 boater representatives posted on Waterscape.

But against this there was the "will they, wont they" dance from the Trustees who were petitioning for a more credible funding package from the Government and threatening not to proceed with the transfer from BW to the new C&RT charity. For a while it looked like the election for the Council would be a pointless exercise. In the end there was compromise all round in the classic British way and a mutually unsatisfactory middle ground was found:

1. There is more money on the table for the new trust
2. The review period is reduced so an upward revision can be considered sooner if  needs be.
3. The grant period has been extended to 15 years to provide a solid base for planning.
4. The implementation date for the transfer has been delayed by three months to June.
5. The  Council Elections will go ahead as planned!

On the watery front its a mixed bag of news. 

1.Tring summit is closed and the empty reservoirs don't bode well for southern boating this summer.

2. C&RT, with the support of the bellowing Brian Blessed, have put out an appeal for volunteer lock keepers around the country. Personally, I find the prospect of Brian roaring at me in the cavernous bowels of The Bratch a bit intimidating, but the good news is that Mr Truth has answered the call and you may well see his much more tempered approach at some locks near you.

3. The Bingley Five Rise attracted 7000 visitors whilst they were dewatered for repair. This degree of public interest has to be good news for the Trust.

4. A few brave Council nominees have had their candidacy savagely tested within the Boaters Manifesto Facebook site and the Canal World Discussion Forum. Of course, I am referring to Alan Fincher and Peter Scott who have faced the brickbats of adversity with gentlemanly grace. Hmm, that was poetic enough to stay on the right side of Mr Blessed I think!.

5. Capain Ahab and Dr D have ventured forth not once but twice to the darkest corners of northern Telford in search of the remains of the long lost Tub Boat network. The results will continue to be rolled out over the coming weeks. Bear with me - I will get back to trip reports just as soon as the ice frees Wand'ring Bark from its mooring. These hunts add another dimension to the boating experience.

So there you have it, lots of canal related action.

But it dosn't stop there. Monday will see the C&RT council election papers being issued and Wednesday marks the start of voting. The future of our inland waterway network is at a pivotal moment, the most important in a generation, and its crucial that we don't make any big blunders. I want to do all I can to ensure that the network is maintained and developed in a responsible and sustainable manner, satisfying the needs of all its users but never losing sight of the undeniable fact that canals were built for boats and without boat movements the network would soon lose its life and vibrancy. 

I believe that I have much to bring to the National C&RT Council. I have been so encouraged by your words of suport and endorsement but now its time for action. Can I ask you to scroll down the long list of candidates and mark Andy Tidy as your preferred candidate. Oh, and of course - don't forget to post it off or press "submit" if you are voting on line.

If I can take this support one stage further I would be immensely grateful. The internet is a powerful medium and your personal endorsements will carry far more weight than my bloggings! Can you spread the word among your boating contacts please?


Sue said...


On that page that you have put the tabs on it would be great if you could put at the very top under the title something like Andy Tidy CRT Council Member Candidate so that it catches people's eyes?

It isn't obvious when you click on that page that you are a candidate until you realise right at the bottom with the link to your manefesto.

Andy Tidy said...

Good point Sue - is that better?

Sue said...

That looks much better.. now to spread the word ;-)

Unknown said...


Love what you have found and done here. My parents moved back to Telford in 1977 although my extended family have lived here (Wrockwardine wood & St Georges) since the 1800’s. I have many fond memories of spending time with aunties etc and exploring the old industrial past of the area such as the Granvile pit. I have always had a keen interest in the old mineral railways and canal routes of the area. I am currently looking to investigate these old routes in more detail and log them either by web or book. Could you point me in the direction of sources of information and or local groups. As time goes by we are losing such information and it is a great shame.


Andy Tidy said...

The core material came from the Godfrey Edition maps which are based on OS maps from the 1st decade of the 20th century. They also contain some good historical commentary.
Then there is the booklet "Shropshire Canals" which has some coverage of the area from the 1950's.
Waterways World published an article on the area about 20 years ago (long before my own version).
There is some good info here too:
I am not sure about local history societies - mine was more a geographic project to see what is left than an in depth historical analysis.
I hope this helps. Andy

Unknown said...


Many thanks for your swift reply and very helpful information, between this and your research there is not much for me to do except maybe get personal accounts of what was left in the early 1900’s and more photographic evidence both past and present.

Ref: Your research “Wombridge Canal pt 3 - Church Road to Wrockwardine Plane” My mother has told me how she used walk along the remains of the canal from Wrocwardine Wood inclined plane, across what is known locally as the cockshutt and on to Oakengates where it met up with the Lillishall company mineral railway. She tells me that she remembers there was still water and some stone work present at this time. I have traced this part of the canal and fount some still visible evidence. Please let me know if you would like photographs to add to you research.

Many thanks again.


Andy Tidy said...

Its a fascinating corner of history which deserves a higher profile.
I did my best to follow the entire line but I am sure I have missed some fragments here and there. One big problem with research is that apart from the section near Trench there is no photographic evidence from when the system was in use - it appears that it was abandoned before photography became popular. If you find any old images please let me know.

Unknown said...


It certainly is and fascinating too. It’s amazing and sad how the area has changed even in my life time (I’m only 42) If I make any new discoveries I will of course let you know.
Many Thanks