Monthly Archives: September 2020


the restoration of 'whimbrel'

a work of love

the background

Whimbrel as she was when Colin Ogden first bought her

About six years ago, Colin Ogden came across a small boat which had been abandoned and left to rot on the lakeside in Bowness on Windermere.

It was in a terrible condition, but Colin, with all his experience as a plumber and heating engineer and with his passion for restoration work, was undaunted. His wife, Lynda, had always wanted a small boat. So Colin bought it for her as a birthday gift.

Lynda's birthday present

Lynda, a very special lady, immediately fell in love with it.

"I always said I would buy her a little boat - she cried when I first brought her back on the trailer. She fell in love with her, she was her baby. She was always fussing around her, I taught her to steer her. She loved it."

A member of the RSPB and an avid bird watcher, Lynda named the boat after a shoreline bird known as a whimbrel.

For the following four years, Colin and Lynda worked on Whimbrel, trying to get the boat back into some sort of usable state. But sadly, before their project was finished, Lynda passed away.

in loving memory

Whimbrel in Glasson Dock

Left to cope with his grief, Colin's salvation came with the Covid Lockdown. He saw the lockdown as an opportunity to do something momentous in his wife's memory. Colin decided to completely strip down and restore Whimbrel and hopefully get the boat relaunched in time for what would have been their 21st wedding anniversary.

Whimbrel, as she was now known, was originally built in 1965 by Shepards Boat Builders in Glebe Road. Through the remainder of the sixties, at least, the boat was used as a water taxi on Lake Windermere.

The engine was a Stewart Turner engine and was much older being built in 1937.

restoration project

For the following 8 weeks, Colin spent his time stripping Whimbrel down to her bare hull and then painting and varnishing her. The Stewart Turner engine was also fully restored. Colin did all his work at Glasson Dock, and speaks very highly of the security, help and support he received there.

Colin Ogden's Whimbrel

the re-launch of whimbrel

At last, she was ready for re-launching, and the date was set. On 12th August, with a goodly crowd, Whimbrel was relaunched and dedicated to Lynda.

whimbrel re-launch

WHimbrel is re-launched

Colin says, "I have done it in her memory and the love we had for each other."

these days

Colin often cruises with Whimbrel along the upper reaches of the Lancaster Canal beyond Tewitfield. Along with Colin, Lynda was an avid campaigner for the restoration of the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal. The couple wanted to see the reconnection of the 42 miles of the southern canal - from Preston to Tewitfield - with the Northern reaches that go into Cumbria. These were abandoned in the late 50s, and most of the canal was later filled in.

Whimbrel ready for her re-launchColin, now already well in to another restoration project, is a regular fund raiser for the RNLI. He is currently planning a mammoth fund raising event with the RNLI for next year.

He also offers himself and Whimbrel for other fund-raising events, saying if he can't sail, he will trail Whimbrel to them.

But Lynda remains at the heart of everything Colin does:

"The restoration of Whimbrel reminds me of how she loved boating and Whimbrel was very dear to her.  I will never part with her, as I promised Lynda. No amount of money will be enough."

View Lynda's video here

I would like to thank Colin Ogden for his story, and Frank Sanderson who took the time and trouble to send me details and photographs. It was Frank who first wrote the story and shared it with BBC TV, BBC Radio Cumbria, and various newspapers and magazines. They in turn covered the relaunch of Whimbrel, and helped to spread Colin & Lynda's story.

rebekah louise

Since completing the restoration of Lynda's boat 'Whimbrel', Colin has turned his efforts into the restoration of a second boat, 'Rebekah Louise'.

colin ogden's boat rebekah louiseColin is carrying out this second restoration in memory of their daughter who died when she was only three weeks old. Their daughter would now have been 20 years old.

The vessel will be moored alongside her Mum’s boat at the Aquavista marina in Glasson Dock, near Lancaster.

He explains: “As you can imagine losing our daughter was devastating for us both, it was worse for Lynda. So I have decided to renovate Rebekah Louise in her memory. Both boats will stay together.”

CRT seeks boaters’ views on licence t&cs

The Canal & River Trust is asking boat licence holders for their views on licence terms & conditions. They are being encouraged to complete an online survey which highlights the changes between the proposed and existing terms and invites feedback on the changes. The consultation gets underway on 28 September and will run for twelve weeks.
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rescue of river avon stranded boats

Following the failure of the Twerton sluice gates on the river Avon on Tuesday evening (15 Sept), River Canal Rescue has performed a logistical miracle,  to recover 47 boats. Three boats, moored near steep banks between two weirs, have sunk and six are at risk of sinking. The remainder are stranded due to parts of the river completely drying up.
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river avon stranded boats update

river avon boats recovered by river canal rescue

Following the failure of the Twerton sluice gates on the river Avon on Tuesday evening (15 Sept), River Canal Rescue has performed a logistical miracle, pulling teams and equipment together, at short notice, to recover 47 boats.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton, reports three boats, moored near steep banks between two weirs, have sunk and six are at risk of sinking. The remainder are stranded due to parts of the river completely drying up.

“One of our members alerted us to the situation midday Wednesday, and then the CRT took control and asked us to manage the recovery process.

Given the number of craft at risk, we pulled in engineers from around the country, re-juggled their priorities and started amassing extra equipment and getting everything in one place,” explains Stephanie.

sunken boat on river avon recovered by RCRDespite supply issues created by the Covid climate, RCR met its deadline of Thursday to source and have all equipment on site and prepared for recoveries from 6am Friday.

Additional items, to find in less than 12 hours, included: 20 bilge pumps and batteries, six Tirfor lifting and pulling machines, 100 metres of rope and 60 metres of hose.

river avon sunken boats update

RCR’s senior management team was also onsite on Thursday to assess the situation, undertake risk assessments, bring all stakeholders together and outline their next steps.

Engineers and office staff arrived at 6am Friday and by 8.30am the first sunken boat was raised.

Number two followed by 10.30 and the third, it is hoped will be raised in the afternoon.

Stephanie continues: Vessels in a perilous position are our next priority and we are confident that by Sunday, every grounded boat will be up and floating again.

The Environment Agency has agreed to cover the costs incurred by those affected by the incident.

fern floating fine art

featured roving canal traders

fern floating fine art

Fern Floating Fine Art is a nomadic arts illustration business, currently making its way around the inland waterways of Britain.

Fern Floating Fine ArtI live on, work in and sell from my little boat ‘Fern’. I am a painter of fauna and flora and resident artist at Fern Floating Fine Art. My work is influenced by folklore, superstition, fireside tales, canal and traveller traditions, the macabre, Victoriana, and I take constant inspiration from the seasons and the countryside around me.

I am fascinated by animals and their connection to the natural world. Their interdependence with the world around them, that as human beings I feel, we have now largely lost. I use my exploration of animals and the subsequent paintings as an attempt to reconnect with nature and the forgotten elements of our own culture. One way that I attempt to do this is by always painting the creature whilst we are making eye contact. In this moment I feel a special knowledge is passed between us. I use flowers as symbolic signposts to direct the meaning of the painting. Each flower is carefully chosen to represent and to compliment the birds status and the meaning of the work.

I like to separate my subjects from their everyday existence and instead venerate them to icon status by infusing them with vast amounts of symbolic flora. I pay no regard to accurate or relative proportion, instead preferring to use this to further separate the subject by using the flowers to create busy almost abstracted backgrounds. This technique and my use of colour is very much influenced by my traveller culture where almost everything is highly decorative. My paintings reflect rather than illustrate the stories that I come across through my travels.

As an artist my mission is to create a feeling of connection and guardianship towards our planet and the life it contains.

John creates our beautiful handmade wooden frames, using wood that we have found and reclaimed along our travels.

All of the work is professionally printed and comes either mounted ready for framing or framed in our handmade reclaimed wood frames.

Shiam Wilcox, photo by canal photographyShiam and John Wilcox sell from their narrowboat wherever they happen to be on the waterways.

You can follow them on Facebook to see where they are, or you can buy direct from their website.

You may also contact Shiam by phone on 07528 802 967

steph’s packed lunch on channel 4

steph's packed lunch

steph mcgovern presents new lunchtime show on channel 4

crt staff welcome steph mcgovern to Leeds DockStaff from waterways and wellbeing charity, Canal & River Trust were on hand to give a warm waterways welcome to their new neighbour Steph McGovern.  Today, the former BBC Breakfast presenter launched her new daily lunchtime television show - Steph’s Packed Lunch.

Steph arrived at her new studio at Leeds Dock via water taxi on the Aire & Calder Navigation, welcomed by a socially distanced crowd – with music, dancing and cheers.  Becca Dent, strategic programmes delivery manager and Jade Wilkes, community roots engagement coordinator helped to escort the water taxi in the waterway charity’s canoes.  Lizzie Dealey, partnerships and external relationships manager joined Joy Van Rensburg, community & youth events coordinator to cheer on Steph from aboard the Trust’s workboat ‘Beale’.

Caleb & Fiona Price (Courtesy CRT)Local boater Caleb Price and his wife Fiona were also on hand to cheer from their narrowboat.  Caleb was one of the first to bring his boat into the newly regenerated Clarence Dock area almost quarter of a century ago, with the 1996 opening of the £42.5million purpose-built Royal Armouries Museum.

Becca Dent, strategic programmes delivery manager said: “In the absence of Leeds Waterfront Festival this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we’ve really missed seeing Leeds Dock draw in the crowds coming to enjoy music, performance and activities on the water, so it was especially great to be giving Steph a warm waterways welcome.  With the new studio overlooking the water at Leeds Dock, it would be great to see Steph and her guests making the most of this fabulous waterside setting and getting afloat themselves by canoe or even paddleboard.”

Pete McCabe, community engagement manager (Yorkshire & North East) for the Trust, said: “It was really great news for the city when Channel 4 decided to relocate to Leeds, and we’ve been really keen to work with them to show off our fantastic network of waterways and highlight the amazing work of our staff and volunteers.”

Steph's Packed Lunch is broadcast live on Channel 4, weekdays from 12.30-2.10pm, with a mixture of entertainment, lifestyle and celebrity guests, plus a changing panel of audience members reviewing the day’s news and chatting to celeb guests.