the tenth lock, brierley hill

our pub of the season, spring 2023

the tenth lock, brierley hill

I don't know whether it is the location, the quality of food and drinks, or the landlord and landlady and their team which make a pub that little bit more special than others. In the case of The Tenth Lock, it is all three factors which make the difference.

the tenth lock, brierley hill

the tenth lock brierley hill


The location of The Tenth Lock is excellent, being right beside the bottom lock of a flight which runs down from Merry Hill towards the Stourbridge Canal. There are eight locks. Which leads one to question what happened to the Ninth Lock, and why the pub is called the Tenth. The pub has a back garden which overlooks the 7th lock, and the car park opens directly onto the canal, so it is very handy for boaters. There is even a secluded mooring spot just over the lock, enough for two boats, and with a very convenient layby next to it where you can safely park your car if you have one.

wining and dining

The pub is a Marstons pub, so the food is standard fare that you would expect in any of these establishments. We can, however, personally recommend the fish, scampi, Hunters chicken, steak and ale pie (and especially the gravy). The children's menu is good, too - with a choice of larger appetite dishes for those who are almost ready for a full adult portion (but have eyes bigger than their bellies!). Food is served daily from noon.

The bar is a busy one with real ale, good choice of lagers, wines and spirits - anything you might want. If you go there on a Tuesday, you will hit Real Ale night with discounted prices on any real ale on tap.

The locals are very friendly and there is a television area with live sports, plus a darts board. The pub has its own successful darts team (described affectionately as 'the dream team'). Tenth Lock is also popular with card players.

The pub holds charity events, has live music on special occasions, and more frequently, disco cum karaoke evenings. All of these are well attended and very popular with locals and visitors alike.

Children and dogs are welcomed.

tenth lock darts team

the staff at the tenth lock

the people

The Tenth Lock is run by Nicola Potts, (Nic, the Boss) and supported by a team which are second to none. There is Ruby (Gobby) and Chloe (Silent but Deadly). There is one other person on the team - and that is Patrick, Nicola's fiancé. Patrick is always ready to talk, and he told us how he and Nicola came to be running the Tenth Lock. Patrick says:

"My fianceé Nicola had a dream of one day running her own pub. She dreamed, but never made any move toward bringing this dream to reality. She never had the push she needed. Until one day she actually listened to me, and started to look at a few that were available. Nothing really suited her - until we came to view the Tenth Lock, and it just clicked with her. She knew it was her home, her dream.

"I am her biggest fan, and even now I'm still astonished at how she gains her momentum and stamina. It is her commitment, her passion and her drive to make the pub work, that has made everything happen."

special events

Patrick went on to tell us of their early days in the pub, and about their first official engagement - a charity Duck Race. He said:

"From start to wobbly duck finish, It was hilarious.The kids loved squirting water and throwing bucketfuls at us; we were like drowned rats! But it was all for a good cause, and after it all calmed down we realised it had all been a pleasure. 

Patrick then went on to tell us about a charity walk which started and finished at the pub.

"The walk was for Maya, 3 years old. We didnt know her, but her dad Ray came into the pub one day and asked if Nic would provide a finishing point for the walk, and before he could finish his sentence, both Nic and myself had said yes. It was an honour and a pleasure.

"We started out at 7am, with 29 walkers, locals in the pub, plus sponsors. We raised £10,038! 

Patrick told us that he had pushed Ray's friend Al in a wheelchair for 22 miles, and that it was hard graft but worth it:

"Walking behind the fire brigade with little Maya in her father's arms, smiling after three bouts of chemotherapy - it was well worth all the effort. 28.6 miles for a smile!"

The evening then went on, with Nicola hosting the entertainment, providing food, and overseeing everything with dignity and humility. As Patrick says, the pub is her life. They have never had so many friends, and they love it!

Karaoke night at The Tenth Lock

happy customers at the tenth lock

Nicol and Patrick, the Tenth Lock

Nicola Potts and her fiancé Patrick offer more than a warm welcome as they invite you in to their home, their dream, their castle! Plus they say that anyone visiting will be welcomed by the very best local people - wonderful people! We can certainly vouch for that!

You can contact Nicola and Patrick on  01384 79041, visit their website , or follow them on Facebook 

stuart atkinson

author of the season - spring 2023

stuart atkinson


To introduce myself, I am a writer and amateur astronomer living in Kendal (as in the Mint Cake, yes…!), up in the Lake District. I have been writing children’s astronomy books since 1988, when my first title – “Journey Into Space”- was published by Viking-Kestrel, with a foreword by famous science fiction author Isaac Asimov. I have now had 12 children’s astronomy reference books published, the most recent of which, “The Solar System – A Ladybird Book”, was published last year by Ladybird. I am probably best known for “A Cat’s Guide to The Night Sky”, which was published by Laurence King in October 2018. Since its publication the book has been translated into more than 20 languages worldwide, has won a major award in Germany (the EMYS children’s non-fiction prize), was long-listed for the 2019 SLA Information Book Award and has been featured and enthusiastically reviewed on many blogs and websites. It is being released in softcover this April, with a national promotional campaign by Hachette.

For the past 25 years I have also been an astronomy and “space” editor/consultant for many publishers. I have edited or acted as a consultant/expert on almost every astronomy- and space-related title published by Usborne Publishing since 1994, including their award-winning “The Story of Astronomy and Space” and “The Astronauts Handbook”, the latter of which was produced in co-operation with the European Space Agency and British astronaut Tim Peake. Most recently I was the consultant/checker on Buster Books’ two very successful astronomy titles written by popular Sky at Night presenter Dr Maddie Alderin Pocock . I also worked with Penguin on fact-checking and revising a new junior version of “Unlocking the Universe”, by Stephen and Lucy Hawking.

When I am not writing or editing astronomy books I am kept busy writing features and articles about astronomy for a number of monthly UK astronomy magazines, such as BBC Sky at Night Magazine and All About Space, and I post a lot of online astronomical content on social media too. My Facebook page is full of pictures of Mars – and my cat – and I have over 10,000 Twitter Followers, who enjoy looking at the images I take of the night sky and the NASA images of Mars that I process: recently one of the images of Mars I processed was viewed over 130,000 times on Twitter!

Journey into space by Stuart Atkinson

Star Ghosts by Stuart Atkinson

The Solar System, Ladybird book by Stuart Atkinson

Felicette by Stuart Atkinson

So why am I author of the season for CanalsOnline Magazine?

I have to be honest and tell you that I have never been on a boating holiday, so I am not qualified to talk about boats, sailing or other aspects of a boating holiday. However, I am a very enthusiastic camper and caravanner and I am aware of many similarities between the two pastimes - holidays away from home, surroundings changing regularly, sometimes daily, time spent in remote and dark locations...

My partner and I regularly take off in our caravan or tent to enjoy short breaks out in the countryside, and several times a year go up to Kielder in our caravan to attend “star parties” at the beautiful Kielder Campsite. These are organised events where amateur astronomers get together to enjoy looking at the night sky, and sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with others.

But every time we go on holiday just by ourselves in our tent or caravan I end up holding informal stargazing sessions for our neighbours, and without fail they love learning how to find the stars and constellations they have heard about so many times.

I know from talking to friends who do enjoy canal holidays that at the end of a busy day of sightseeing or other activities many of them usually “call it a day” and either head down to the nearest pub or go inside as darkness falls. But that is such a waste! Many boaters will be totally unaware that if they stayed outside, especially if they were moored at a dark sky location, away from lights, they would be able to see some of the wonders of the universe, without the need for a telescope or even a pair of binoculars.

Although many canal routes across – and beyond – the UK pass through heavily light-polluted areas, others pass through “dark sky” regions, making them ideally placed for stargazing. It’s a great shame that many holiday boaters will pack up and go home totally unaware that they missed out on an amazing experience during their holiday – exploring a beautiful starry sky. My dream is to take the place of a friendly amateur astronomer and lead boaters, whether they live on a boat, take regular boating holidays, or perhaps a 'just once in a lifetime' boating holiday. I would like to take them somewhere dard, introduce them to the starts, constellations and planets they can see. Or it would just sit with them, out on deck, and point out some of the amazing things they can see – if they just take the time to look.

A Cat's Guide to the Night Sky

A Cat's Guide to the Night Sky, by Stuart Atkinson

a cat's guide to the night sky

With beautiful illustrations created by one of the UK’s most popular and accomplished artists, Brendan Kearney, “A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky” was published by Laurence King in October 2018, and is a guide to the night sky and getting started in amateur astronomy with a unique twist: the book’s main character is a starry-eyed, stargazing cat called Felicity!

“A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky” was inspired during a trip to the Kielder Starcamp (”star camps” are special camping events, where amateur astronomers get together at a remote site to enjoy observing and photographing a night sky unspoiled by light pollution) in late 2016, when I briefly took my cat, Peggy – a rescue cat who had a very hard life before being adopted by my partner, Stella – outside to allow Stella to tidy their folding camper without interruption.

Whilst holding Peggy I noticed she was looking at the night sky, eyes darting from constellation to constellation. A classic “light bulb moment” followed: I wondered if cats were as fascinated by the night sky as humans? After all, they were often out all night, and from the tops of trees and tall buildings, often in very dark places, they would have a grandstand view of the night sky…

This idea became “A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky”, a richly-illustrated, fun guide to the night sky, which explains to young readers how to identify stars, planets and constellations. There are star charts for each season, as well as advice on how to see the phases of the Moon, meteor showers and even the northern lights.

The book’s guide is a fun, starry-eyed stargazing cat called Felicity. She is seen on every page, observing the stars and leaping across the night sky, and was, of course, inspired by and is a tribute to Peggy, who accompanied Stella and I on many astronomy expeditions before she died in 2017. In the book, Felicity strongly resembles Peggy – but with one striking and touching difference: Felicity has a tail, whereas Peggy’s tail was cut off when she was young.

The book is also a tribute to another cat – Félicette. Most people are familiar with the story of Laika, the first dog in space, but few know that in 1963 a French stray cat called Félicette became the first cat to go into space, so I decided to name the book’s narrator in her honour.

Cat Peggy alongside 'A Cat's Guide to the Night Sky'

Shooting Stars - a page from A Cat's View of the Night Sky

Stuart Atkinson is a prolific writer of books on Astronomy, and has written many reference books and fictional books for children. His books are of relevance to anyone with an interest in the universe or in learning more about the night sky.

Stuart's books are available to buy from Amazon or from good book shops. You can contact him by email or you can find out more by visiting his website

the voyage of friendship 5a – milton keynes

the voyage of friendship

part 5a: milton keynes

Hello again family and friends.

When I was a small person in a village primary school, my class was told that the area where we lived in North Bucks was to be built into a new and very modern city called Milton Keynes. We were given a chance to draw what we thought it would be like and I remember that my contribution was a design for a multi-story cow shed! Now here I am, 50 years later, moored up in my narrow boat to visit my family who still live in what became the city of Milton Keynes.

narrow boat in MIlton Keynes

My daughter Jane was still with me for most of the week, STILL on Christmas hols from university and enjoying with me a great time visiting my dad and brothers, eating lots of home cooked food and having them visit the boat along with nieces and a nephew.

Daughter, Jenny with her husband and little Edith and Thomas also visited for a family "fish and chips" evening. These are wonderful relaxing times.

giant dinosaur in Milton Keynes

lonely boat moored

I've really enjoyed exploring this city which is built around big parks and nature reserves, cycleways and footpaths. Bunty has had a week's intensive training on a lead and socialising with other dogs, and we've visited all kinds of brilliant art installations and sculptures, such as concrete cows, giant dinosaurs and a peace pagoda- its very different from other cities, but there's no multi-story cow shed!

I've spent time alone here too, which has given me my first taste of living aboard and not travelling. I feel that I'm part of the canal community as fellow boaters are always chatty and ready to help each other. It’s been a cold week with Therapy being iced in for part of the week, but today Ewan visited and we moved her like Titanic through the icebergs to Simpson.

aqueduct near milton keynes

Philippa, a close friend from school is my next crewmember and although she now lives in the Channel Islands, her family home is beside the canal in Simpson. It was with joy that we hugged each other on the towpath outside her mum's house- I know that we will have fun this week.

Thank you for lots of encouraging messages,
Love and warm wishes to all,

the voyage of friendship 5 – tunnels and locks

the voyage of friendship

part 5: tunnels and locks

Hello friends and family.

I hope everyone is keeping safe and warm in this bad weather; I am currently moored up in the city of Milton Keynes with my daughter who is still on holiday from Glasgow university. I have family in these parts and will be staying here until 26th January. The weather has been windy and tends to blow the boat about a bit but the days are predominantly sunny and the world looks bright from the canal where people are so friendly and helpful.

I had a night alone in Braunston, a place that has a bright holiday feel about it, even in winter. Ally arrived early next day with her husband Nigel who is a shepherd friend of Ewan's. I couldn't ask for more as Ally took my washing and lent me her husband for 2 days.

We took off down the Braunston flight of locks, Nigel driving and me at the windlass working the locks. It was with great relief that I looked back at them knowing that the closure next day would not bar my way. The next exciting event was Braunston tunnel, over a mile long and very dark. We turned off the boats front light somewhere in the middle to find ourselves in complete blackness. It was quite amazing. We reminded ourselves with incredulity that this tunnel was built in days gone by when workmen had no diggers and bulldozers.

Nigel and Sally Kershaw beside narroboat Therapy

As we moored up that evening we met James who was taking his unusual concrete boat through the locks alone- quite a feat. We agreed to meet him next morning and undertake the next flight together to share the workload as well as save water. James had been in the navy and still had the urge to be on water rather than land.

The lovely Nigel treated me to supper in a canal side pub and Bunty had her first taste of being "home alone" which she managed fine.

Next morning we met James again and together we systematically got both boats through the next flight of 7 locks. The weather was deteriorating and was probably the worst day I'd had so far. But Nigel drove on manfully all the way to Gayton. the most northerly place on my journey and a third of the distance covered. I'm making great progress. Ally collected Nigel that evening and returned my lovely clean laundry. Many thanks to Nigel and Ally for all their help.

narrowboats doubled up to get through a lock

Next morning my brother Bob cycled up to join me for the next stretch, including Blisworth tunnel, over 2 miles long and one of the longest in the country. Bob was a little apprehensive to start with but quickly got used to driving Therapy. Again we were amazed at the engineering feat that was this tunnel, and remembered respectfully those who my guidebook told me died in the building of it, and the "leggers" who apparently pushed boats through the tunnel by lying on their backs on the roofs and walking them through. We also chatted about the ghosts of these people that are doubtless still there- or was that just brother and sister winding each
other up in the dark!

steering through Blisworth Tunnel

Bob had not been aboard a narrow boat before and this evening learned locks. We negotiated the first 2 at Stoke Bruerne before mooring up and going to the pub for supper. Next day we went through the last few of the flight, Bob cycled back for his car and then drove me to Milton Keynes railway station to pick up my daughter Jane. Bob took us back to the boat and took his
leave. He was delighted to have been aboard and said he loved the tunnel experience.

Jane and I continued on to Yardley Gobion where we did the boating chores (filled up with diesel, gas and water) then moored up carefully in a sheltered spot as Ewan had called to say that a storm was brewing tonight.

We were both woken by the wind blowing during the night but the moorings held and the next day was bright and sunny as we approached the big city of Milton Keynes. We travelled across a very exciting aqueduct over a river and then over a big motorway. We were now in an urban area and decided to moor up early to replenish our fridge.

working the lock gates

I'm expecting my husband Ewan to visit tomorrow and then various family members over the next week or so; adventures on board will probably be limited, but I will resume my traveller’s tale when I cast off again towards London.

Warm wishes to all

daisy’s bakin butty

featured roving canal trader

daisy's bakin' butty

I live aboard our historic narrow boat Trout, built in 1936, with my husband Lloyd (aka Bacon Boy!!) Lloyd has been around narrow boats most of his life; he started at 14 helping steer the horse drawn narrow boat Iona in Godalming Surrey.

In 2005 Lloyd convinced me to take a narrow boat holiday for a week and just like that, I was hooked: the peace, the nature, being in the middle of nowhere. I loved it! And the people were all amazing, especially after I had been working in a stressful environment!

Every year we would take a holiday on a boat somewhere in England, until we got to the point and decided to buy our own boat, with a view to retiring in a few years time to live aboard.

However life took a different turn, when we lost 4 friends to different illnesses and realised life's too short. So within 3 months, we had sold our house, left our jobs and moved onto our boat!! The first few years were amazing, travelling to places/villages I never knew existed, meeting some lovely people. At some point we realised in order to maintain this life, we needed to go back to work, which would be challenging. How would we manage moving the boats and travelling to work....

Then Covid hit, which meant we couldn't work. During this time, more people started walking the canals and we realised there were very few places on the canal to grab a coffee and cake. The seed was planted.

After the first lock-down in June 2020, we started looking for another boat and with the help of friends, Norah was purchased!! Norah is an Historic LMS station boat built in 1930.

Lloyd and I worked hard to get her fitted out and looking the part; she needed a lot of work!! But, in March 2021, she was ready!!

Daisy an Steve

And so, Daisy's Bakin Butty was born!! the name comes from; my name, Steve Wright's radio 2 show “Only Jokin” (No G) and the fact that Norah was a Butty.

Our first opening day was the 12th March in Braunston on the Grand Union: the cakes were baked, the coffee machine was on, the flaps were open... The worry was, would anyone come? But come they did, and by the end of the first weekend we knew we were onto a winner.

Since then we have travelled from village to village opening up at weekends. During the summer we open much more, meeting some lovely people. We have customers that have visited us nearly every weekend since we opened; we call them our “Cake Stalkers”. In fact, if you visit more than 4 times, you will become a Cake Stalker!!

In 2022 we attended two  festivals and although it was hard work, we had a great time!

The past two years have been amazing, we get to keep the lifestyle, whilst earning money to get by. Believe me, we are never going to be rich!! But we get to meet some lovely people, so life is good!!

Daisy and Lloyd HampshireDaisy Hampshire and her partner Lloyd have only been roving canal traders since 2021, although they have a long association with boats and the waterway system. They live on board historic narrowboat Trout, with accompanying butty Norah. Their pop up cafe is open every weekend, and longer in summertime.

You can contact them by email: or follow them on Facebook or Instagram

rcr callout figures 2022

rcr call out figures for 2022

River Canal Rescue reports it responded to 130 major incidents in 2022; emergency situations either involving submerged, partially sunken or grounded craft, plus salvage work.

The figure is 24% lower than the 171 incidents RCR reported in 2021, in line with the previous year’s 25% reduction, primarily due to clement weather and fewer floods.

rcr tend to submerged boat

In contrast, similar to the previous year, the number of general call-outs, such as electrical, fuel and engine issues, flat batteries, over-heating and gear box failures, rose to 3411, 5% up from 3235 in 2021. RCR engineers responded to 86% of call-outs; 14% were handled by approved-contractors.

RCR’s Canal Contracting service organised 499 visits to undertake a variety of work, including: plumbing and electrical installations, gearbox replacements, inverter, solar installations and general engine maintenance. There were also 578 engine services booked in.

Its subsidiary, Key Diesels, whose team fits and supplies new and refurbished engines nationwide, completed 42 engine replacements/installs and sold 14 engines direct to customers. Out of the 56 engines supplied, 19 were new, 24 refurbished and the rest pre-owned. Key Diesels also undertook nine engine rebuilds of customers' own engines.

Stephanie comments: “Our waterways are becoming increasingly popular and while RCR is always on hand to help when and where we’re needed most, we always urge owners to give their boats a once-over before starting any journey and carry some spares ….a bit of preparation before you set sail can make a big difference to the success of your journey.

“Avoiding breakdowns is in everyone’s interest, as it can spoil holidays, place you in dangerous situations and leave you stranded in isolated areas.”

erewash canal 55th rally

erewash canal preservation and development association

55th anniversary rally 27 - 29 May 2023

In May 2023 the ECP&DA will be hosting a boat rally at the Great Northern Basin at Langley Mill. The rally is to celebrate 55 years since the formation of the association and also 50 years since the restoration of the basin, lock and surrounding area.

Following our formation in 1968 the association is still going strong and we now own Sandiacre Lock Cottages and the cottage at Langley Mill, which is our headquarters. We have an ex British Waterways work boat that we have restored. The boat, named Pentland enables us to carry out work along the canal. This includes lock repairs plus vegetation and litter clearance. We are currently involved in restoration work at Langley Mill with the Friends of Cromford Canal on the Beggarlee extension. This will take the Cromford canal under the A610 via two locks.

Langley Bridge lock before restoration

Langley Bridge Lock, Erewash Canal

The rally will include a mixture of trade, historic and private narrowboats plus trade stalls and display stands from other canal groups. Public entry to the rally is free. The rally will begin with historic narrowboats Bath and Meteor setting off from Anchor Bridge at 10:30 carrying the Long Eaton Silver Band to the opening ceremony by the lock at 11:00.

Other attractions are:

  • Food and drink, including real ale tent.
  • Musical entertainment sponsored by, PPL PRS. Buskers corner.
  • Battle of Britain Memorial Flypast (subject to availability).
  • View boat and butty Oak and Ash in Langley Mill Boatyard dry dock. The boatyard will also have a display of engines and those that are ticketed are for sale.
  • The Victorian pump house will be open with opportunities to learn about its purpose and how it works.
  • Take an informative guided walk along the restored stretch of the Cromford canal and learn about ongoing plans for the future.

If planning to come along with your boat please book in; forms are available on our website 
Further information and booking forms for rally can be found in the news and events section of our website.

update on sticky fuel situation

sticky fuel

update from river canal rescue

Last summer, River Canal Rescue highlighted the problem of sticky fuel and how this was causing an uncharacteristic peak in fuel-related component breakdowns not linked to diesel bug.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “We first became aware of the issue when we had two identical jobs where fuel injectors were diagnosed as needing an overhaul, yet their replacements stopped working within a week, and the injection pumps were found to have failed even though the diesel was clear and bright.

Our engineers found in both cases, the injector pump racks had seized solid and the nozzles were blocked, and when replacing the plunger filter head, they found the fuel had a sticky, syrup-like substance. Alongside stuck injection pump racks, injectors and filter head plunger failures, we also had cases of fuel filters blocking with wax inside them.

Initially we suspected sugar in the fuel, but sugar stays crystalline instead of dissolving. We’re now considering it may be related to a change in fuel and fuel treatment additives. This is not contamination in the traditional sense (all the samples sent away for analysis are clear); it’s only the smell of turps that alerts us to a problem.

“Following discussions with several leading fuel analysis companies, we’re now working with a university lab to use IR spectrum analysers and range of samples/treatments to see if we can identify what is causing sticky fuel.”

Stephanie concludes: “RCR is taking these steps as cases are increasing to two-three per week, and although there are some trends and patterns developing in the more cases we see, it’s important to have scientific evidence to back-up our theories. As an industry we must work together to find a solution.”

bottle full of sticky fuel

Here, two boaters share their experiences:

Unpleasant & expensive

Dear RCR,

Re the ‘sticky fuel issue’, we had a similar episode with our narrowboat nb ‘Many Meetings’ in August 2020.

Our narrowboat was launched in October 2011 and up to the incident had done 2,850 hours. We cruise in the summer and over winter, we’re at Aston Marina near Stone, Staffordshire.

In 2018, we did the Severn Estuary from Sharpness to Bristol and, in preparation for that, had the fuel polished in July. There was absolutely no water or contamination in the fuel.

In 2019, the boat was serviced by our engineer in the spring, and again filters and fuel were clean. We then went up to Lincoln and Boston via the Tidal Trent. We refuelled twice at Sawley Marina, twice at Burton Waters Marina and finally topped the tank off for the winter back at Aston Marina, when we arrived back there in October.

Due to the pandemic, the boat remained unused until 20 August 2020. Before taking the boat out, I checked the engine and fuel filter, and checked the fuel draining from the filter was clear, which it was. We over-nighted at Weston before continuing to Great Haywood on 21 August, and the engine (a Beta 43) ran fine.

On the morning of 22 August, the engine was reluctant to start and produced clouds of white smoke. Luckily, there was an Anglo Welsh hire base and their engineer said he would take a look at the boat the following morning, which he did.

The engineer checked the fuel and filters, which looked fine, and drained off some fuel, which was clear. He then removed an injector and tested it. He found the injector was blocked and so replaced all four injectors. The engine started and ran fine.

The following morning we set off, but only went a few miles south before stopping for the night. The engine ran fine.

The next morning, the engine wouldn't start. The brilliant engineer from Anglo Welsh came to find us on his day off and, after a couple of hours, he finally managed to get the engine started but it was running quite roughly. Gingerly, we made our way back to Great Haywood.

At Great Haywood, the engineer removed the injectors to check them and found they were welded shut. He put one in a vice and tried to pull the centre pin out with a pair of pliers, but it was completely jammed solid.

The fuel feed for the engine is above the bottom of the tank, so we removed the bottom drain and dumped the tank contents of 135 litres of fuel. We used the bottom drain and a powerful pump to rinse the tank and ensure that any contamination was washed out. We then put another 35 litres into the tank and dumped that to rinse the tank out.

Anglo Welsh very kindly disposed of the fuel for us. When we drained the tank, we took a sample from the very bottom of the tank, which did not look very healthy - although the rest of the fuel looked fine.

We replaced the four injectors again (those things are not cheap), drained all the fuel from the engine and filters, and ran the engine on clean fuel from a 5 gallon drum for an hour or so. We then put 100 litres of new fuel into the tank and ran it on that successfully. Subsequently, the engine started and ran fine. You can be sure that when (hopefully) some normality returns, I will take a fuel sample from the very bottom of the tank before we set out again.

It appears the contamination was settled at the bottom of the tank but the motion of the boat meant some of it got picked up into the engine. The engine ran fine and the injectors worked OK when the engine was hot, but it seems when the engine cooled down, whatever it was blocked the injectors.

Altogether an unpleasant experience and very expensive - dumping 170 litres of fuel and putting in eight new injectors. However, all credit to Anglo Welsh and their brilliant engineer.

Robin Sundt, Redhill, Surrey.

A bit of a pain

Re: contaminated fuel, I have experienced the same problem with my boat and it was a devil to get rid of and until I run it again, I have not proved it is gone. My boat is called Pyrus and is kept in the Grand Union at Blisworth, Northampton. It has a Greaves twin cylinder engine which is built in India and is a development of a Ruston Hornsby unit. Below are the chain of events I experienced:

1. August 2019. Having returned from a long trip through Shropshire, Wales and the North we returned to our mooring intending to have a rest for a few months from boating. In advance of mooring up, we filled up with diesel at Rugby Boats, near Weedon, and I added Fuel Set (as I have always done since owning the boat in 2012).

2. October 2019. We have a heritage cooker installed in the boat which runs on diesel and this packed up. On inspection, by draining the filter, the fuel came out looking like water, with a grey tinge. Not pink at all. I had not run the engine since August and did not at this time. I change the filters every year about April/May and they are always clear of any debris/water in the bowl.

The UK agent for Greaves is close to me and came down to help clear the problem. We syphoned a lot of fuel off to the point we thought it was clear and added two or three bottles of Marine 16 to treat it.

3. November 2019. The engine started and appeared to run OK. At this time the engineer visited to sort the cooker, but found contamination still present. It looked like frog spawn. Also by this time when trying to clean the fuel, the tank was below half-full.

4. January 2020. I got Tankbusters to polish the fuel. Took about 4 hours after which the fuel looked to be the correct pink colour and again more Marine 16 was added (the tank was also topped up at Blisworth marina). The cooker was sorted and that and the engine seemed to be working OK, following a test trip up the canal for a day. Shortly afterwards lock down was imposed which put a stop to any further use.

5. July 2020. I took the boat out for the weekend. At the end of the first day the engine was running a little lumpy. The next day only one cylinder was working and I struggled to get back onto my mooring. The injectors were seized so I took them to be rebuilt.

6. August 2020. Injectors back in boat - took it out for a 6 hour test. This started very well but as I was returning it started to run lumpy again. The following day I found the injector pump racks were seized and I assumed the injectors would be affected (which proved the case when I took them in to be fixed). I used diesel specialist, Colchester Fuel Injection, and I gave them a sample of diesel to test. The results were about 4% bio which is within limits.

7. September 2020. Injectors and pumps back in engine but not started. I pulled the boat to a local boat yard and had all the fuel removed and the tank cleaned out. Pulled the boat back onto the mooring where it was filled with fuel from fuel boat, Jules fuel. No additive was put in and I do not intend to use any. The cooker works, but I want to test the engine over a day trip as recommended by Colchester Fuel Injection rather than a short quick run.

All in all a bit of a pain. My engine is rather agricultural and simple and it is the first issue I have had with it ever. I thought it would run on water. Obviously not and this fuel has been a real issue. Hopefully I am over it now.

Chris Browne, Chelmsford, Essex.

abigail joy tobler

featured author of the season - winter 22 - 23

joy tobler

Abigail Joy Tobler’s love of waterways has, sadly, never found her on a canal boat. She has, however, paddled dug-out canoes on rivers in Mexico and Brazil. In England she has enjoyed many hours walking the Thames towpath near Henley whilst dog-sitting for friends over many years. She enjoyed watching the many passing canal boats navigating the locks, and always felt especially blessed when catching glimpses of a kingfisher.

She began writing poetry whilst battling severe depression and has continued during happier times. Many poems are triggered by things heard or seen, and often reflect her Christian faith. She has published 6 collections of poems plus the booklet ‘Tales from the Towpath.’

tales from the towpath

pebbles, puddles and poppies

Joy has had a very varied and adventurous life. When she was young she was a very active sports person, especially in cricket which was her great love. A change of ambition following injury saw Joy become a grammar school teacher, with her subjects being Mathematics and Religious Education. She also studied linguistics and translation.

Joy married a Swiss, and together they went to Mexico where they underwent 6 months of jungle living and survival training. This was followed by a long period in Brazil, where Joy taught literacy and Bible translation to a group of indiginous peoples.

They lived in a village along the banks of a little jungle clad island in the middle of the Amazon delta swampland. All of the houses were on stilts, without walls, and palm thatched. Joy had three sons while she was in Brazil, athough they were all born in the city as malaria (and consequent miscarriages) were rife in the villages.

After thirteen years of life on the banks of the Amazon, Joy had to leave Brazil because of her husband's ill health. Returning to the UK, Joy worked at the home office of the mission, Wycliffe Bible Translators. At some stage she developed M.E. which damped down her life for 25 years. It was at this stage that she began writing her poetry.

Eventually, Joy moved to Sheffield to be nearer her sons and their respective families. She continues to be an active church member, singing in her church choir. Some of her poems have been set to music as anthems and one as a carol.

crossbeams - abigail joy tobler

tides, teasels and teapots

Abigail Joy ToblerAbigail Joy Tobler, better known as Joy, has written several volumes of poems. Her books are available to buy from Joy herself, although there is some availability on Amazon

You may contact Joy by email:


RCTA donate to waterway charities

RCTA donate to waterway charities

£500 each to Waterways Chaplains and Forces Vets Afloat

Since the start of Covid19 the Roving Canal Traders Association (RCTA) along with many other charities, non-profit making groups, business's & traders that make up our canal network have had a tough time. This year however, things returned to almost normal & our Floating Markets started to take off once again. This meant that we have been in a position this year to resume our annual charity donations as voted for by our members.

This year our members voted for the Waterways Chaplaincy charity & the Forces Vets Afloat Project with a donation of £500 to each.

The Waterways Chaplains work alongside Canal & River Trust to make sure boaters who have fallen in hard times or need some sort of support are not missed or lost in the system, they work with food banks around the country & make sure that essential meal, bag of coal or fuel gets to those who might otherwise go without, they maintain contact & support in so many ways. Our traders often come into contact with some of the Waterways Chaplains who are very supportive of our events so it was suggested that our donation was presented to the charity via Waterways Chaplains Malcolm & Stephanie who live beside the Shropshire Union Canal in Market Drayton & are very well known within the boating community. Mark Chester Senior Chaplain said “This donation of £500 will make a real difference in the lives of some of the boaters we encounter.”

Sue Meades presents cheque to Waterways Chaplains

The Forces Vets Afloat Project are close to finishing one of their donated boats nb Daisy ready for a Forces Veteran to make her their home. The founder of this project Andy Flint said "what a lovely email to wake up to" when we informed him of the donation. We hope it helps them with ongoing projects.

We also make a smaller annual donation to CRT if possible, as without their support Floating Markets & other waterways events would not take place.

RCTA is open to all licensed Roving Traders & we welcome new members via our website We strive to support Roving Traders and open up as many trading opportunities as possible. We are run solely by volunteers & are always looking for new volunteers to help with moving the Association forward.