Monthly Archives: October 2020

crt broadens online booking facility for tunnels and locks

crt broadens online booking facility for tunnels and locks

The Canal & River Trust is making journey-planning easier for boaters by making passage through more staffed locks and tunnels available to be booked in one place online.

Boaters are asked to book passage in advance for some tidal and river locks, lock flights, long tunnels, and other structures like Anderton Boat Lift and the Ribble Link.  While a few of these structures can already be booked online via the Trust’s online licensing portal, many others have individual, local booking processes.

From 2 November 2020, boaters will now also be able to book the following passages online: Thames Lock; Braunston Tunnel; Saddington Tunnel; Blisworth Tunnel; Boston Tidal Lock; Newlay & Kirkstall Forge Locks; Bingley Three and Five Rise Locks; and Harecastle Tunnel.  They join the likes of Standedge Tunnel, Liverpool Link and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park waterways which already use the online booking system.

Before they book passage, boaters will be able to see all the information they need, including any necessary dimensions, and opening days/times.

Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at Canal & River Trust, said: “We are pleased to be extending our online passage booking offer.  We ask boaters to book passage through some of our structures in advance so our colleagues are prepared and boaters have a smooth, uninterrupted journey.  We’re committed to offering the best possible level of service to our customers and we believe boaters will appreciate a more modern booking process that’s available 24 hours a day, and a choice of how to interact with us.

“We hope that, by reducing the admin, this will give boaters more of a chance to focus on the excitement of planning a cruise.  We are planning to bring even more of the booked passage structures into the online process ahead of next summer’s main cruising season.”

Boaters can find out more on the ‘Booking your passage online’ page of the Trust’s website.  Bookings can be made via the online licensing portal, in the ‘Bookings’ section.  The online system is already used by boaters for licence renewal, amending details and booking moorings.  Boaters will still be able to book by telephone if they are not able to book online.

crt broadens online booking facility for tunnels

The Canal & River Trust broaden facility to book more staffed locks and tunnels online. From 2 November 2020, boaters will now also be able to book for Thames Lock, Braunston Tunnel, Saddington Tunnel, Blisworth Tunnel, Boston Tidal Lock, Newlay & Kirkstall Forge Locks, Bingley Three and Five Rise Locks and Harecastle Tunnel.
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featured author – winter 2020

featured author - winter 2020

bill savage

It all started after having a bit of a brain wobble.

Bill SavageFor some reason which I am yet to fathom, I signed up to complete two half-marathons, three 10K races, climb Snowdon, the Yorkshire Three Peaks then, to top it all off, climb Mount Fuji. All within the year.

They were all for good causes, but I’m not very athletic and the only running I can remember was to get to the pub before it shut. Friends and family started to distance themselves from me as I asked for more and more donations, and I realised this was something I could not back out of easily. I needed to get fit, and quick, so I joined the local gym. Blimey, it was boring. Muscular blokes preening themselves in the mirror ignited my inferiority complex and made me feel like a complete wimp. Running the local lanes wasn’t much better. Cross country was more interesting, but paths are not always easy to follow, and I’d end up getting lost.

canal boat at Hawkesbury JunctionI don’t live too far from the canal. So why hadn’t I thought about it before? It’s quiet, peaceful, no traffic, no pollution, it’s interesting and there are no preening blokes. Actually, there are preening blokes, but that’s another story (see chapter 3). The towpath soon became my regular training ground but running back and forth along the same path soon became pretty boring.

Curzon tunnelLuckily, I discovered the Warwick Ring on my doorstep. A 115 mile circular route in the Midlands, using 5 different canals, crossing 4 counties, connecting 2 cities, 7 towns and many hamlets and villages. You may have guessed it, I like a challenge. So, to make life a little more interesting, I decided to travel this circular route only clockwise, without turning back, and using public transport to get to the start and for the return journey home. This meant training sessions became much longer, often starting before dawn and always taking up the whole day, with lots of public transport (something I’m not too familiar with or very good at).

Hatton LocksWell, this opened up a whole new world to me, travelling between idyllic rural tranquillity and industrial urban grunge. Seeing the wonders of our canal system up close and personal, much of it built around 250 years ago, with no satellites or software to work out the best route, or earth-moving equipment to dig the path. Concrete wasn’t developed until the mid 1800’s and the only means of transport across the land was by horse or foot.

Lift Bridge raise for canal boatI was amazed at the sheer magnitude of this bold engineering project, built by Navvies using the simplest of tools, just pickaxe and shovel, a little gunpowder and loads of blood, sweat and tears. Travelling through my hometown, Birmingham, was like entering another world, one I didn’t recognise. It felt like I was crawling through the bowels of the city, literally seeing everything from a completely different perspective. I was awestruck.

Farmers Lock, Birmingham with canal boatAfter completing the challenges, I continue to walk the ring, completing the whole route at least once a year. The slower pace allows time for the occasional chat with interesting and quirky characters along the way and with a rich vein of history to dip into and discover. From Iron Age to Jet Age, the Gun Powder Plotters to the Peaky Blinders, with some unexpected finds.

These included one town with a disturbing connection to the Slave Trade and a very dangerous and completely bonkers ball game which has been played there every year since 1199. Birmingham and Coventry were both manufacturing giants and to tread the actual path which fed our industrial revolution is very sad at times. Contemplating the unfathomable destruction of our once proud, world beating industries, one word keeps popping into my brain. Why?

Rappers under bridge with graffitiHaving to use public transport certainly adds a new dimension to the already entertaining canalsy goings-on, transforming my once boring training sessions into unexpected adventures, sometimes a tiny bit weird, often hilarious, always eventful and inevitably informative. There is also the occasional, unfortunate mishap along the way, but nothing too serious. Yet. I posted a few of these adventures onto my Facebook page and got some great feedback. Then, a friend of mine said “… why don’t you write a book?”  And that was the seed I needed to create ‘Canal is King”.

There is a chapter dedicated to every day it took to complete the journey, starting out from Birmingham to Fazeley (near Tamworth) and finishing with Shrewley (near Warwick) back into Birmingham. And I go off-piste a couple of times, following my nose for more adventure. Discovering the amazing history scattered around the Warwick Ring is one thing, but the interesting characters and unexpected encounters, either on the canal or on public transport is what I enjoy the most. That’s why I continue to trudge any towpath, anywhere. Chatting with the people I meet and learning more about our National Treasure, the Canal Network.

You can buy a copy of Canal is King from Amazon or from Bill Savage's Etsy Shop where he also sells prints of his stunning photographs.

You can also follow Bill Savage on Facebook - don't forget to like his page!

rose of hungerford

the diary of Iris Lloyd

the rose of hungerford

Rose of HungerfordThe Rose of Hungerford is a traditional canal boat offering public trips and private charters, owned by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and run and maintained by fully-trained volunteer members of the Hungerford branch.

It was built by Peter Nicholls at Napton, Warwickshire, was launched at Great Bedwyn in 1982 and commissioned at Hungerford Wharf in 1983, now its home mooring.

It is 55’ (16.7m) long and 10’ 6” (3.2m) wide. Its original engine came from an ex-London taxi, then a Shire 40 engine was fitted in 1997 and lasted 20 years.

It is now powered by a Barrus Shire 50 Diesel engine (50bhp at 3000rpm), fitted in 2017.

The boat was named for John O’Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, third of the five sons of King Edward III who reached adulthood, who gave the Commoners of Hungerford fishing rights on the River Kennet (now strictly controlled). These rights were granted in addition to the grazing and hunting rights already received.

The red rose is the symbol of the House of Lancaster (the white rose is the symbol of the House of York), and since then has been a symbol of Hungerford. A red rose is presented to a reigning monarch whenever he or she visits the town.

Queen Elizabeth II on Rose of HungerfordThe current Duke of Lancaster is Her Majesty the Queen. She travelled on The Rose when officially opening the restored Kennet and Avon Canal at Caen Hill, Devizes, on 8th August, 1990, 30 years ago. In 2013, The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust was honoured by Her Majesty, who awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for voluntary groups. In 2014, The Princess Royal visited the Trust’s Headquarters in Devizes to present the Award.

During lockdown, the Rose has been treated to six new door panels, for the side and engine doors, beautifully painted with traditional roses by Bradford-on-Avon based signwriter, Ginny Barlow.

Further details of the crew and trips provided will be given in my next article for CanalsOnline magazine.

Iris Lloyd, Waterways chaplain (with thanks to Sarah Warburton, who provided the details given above and also took the photographs, except for the one of the Queen)