Friday, April 17, 2015

Waterways Marathon fundraiser

David Edwards-May 
Veteran waterways enthusiast David Edwards-May will be running in his first marathon at the age of 65 to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Inlands Waterways Association and raise money for the Waterways Recovery Group.

David said: “Running in the London Marathon is also a celebration of my 50 years of involvement with inland waterways — and it will raise money to help to buy essential plant and machinery for the WRG.”

David’s enthusiasm for the waterways began at a young age. He was  16 when he went to the London Boat Show and bought Stanford’s Canoeing Map of England and Wales — which led to him exploring hundreds of miles of canals. He joined the IWA in 1968.

He volunteered with Operation Ashton to help restore the derelict Ashton and Lower Peak Forest Canals before moving to France in 1976 where he helped on the restoration of the Rivers Lot and Baïse, and the re-opening of the Canal de Roubaix.

Over the years David has been a researcher and consultant on many waterways restoration and protection projects. His maps have been a ‘must have’ for all users of mainland Europe’s navigations and his submission to UNESCO resulted in the Canal du Midi achieving World Heritage status in 1996.

David is a vice president of  Inland Waterways International (IWI)which runs the annual World Canals Conference — this year to be held in Ghent, Belgium and in 2016  Scotland’s five canals will be celebrated when the confernece is held in Inverness.

David aims raise £5,000 for the WRG and you can sponsor him by going to: 

or send a cheque payable to ‘The Inland Waterways Association’ to Toby Gomm, IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA

Canal worker saved from drowning on Kennet & Avon Canal

A canal worker’s first day on the job almost ended in tragedy when he plunged into a lock on the the Devizes flight on the K&A Canal on a quad bike on Wednesday Evening.

The Caen Hill on the Devizes Flight of locks on the K&A Canal. Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx 

An eye witness said that the man in his 60s was having problems with the quad bike and after being given advice by a colleague he careered off and crashed into the canal. 

He was rescued by Barry Reed who’s house overlooks the lock witnessed the incident and rushed to the canal and found the rider face down in the water. 

Sergeant Vince Logue of Devizes police said: "Barry was a real hero. The outcome could have been much worse if he had not been there."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coal boat run on the K&A

Victoria and Spencer Collins are making a fuel run from Hilperton to Wootton Rivers on the Long Pound on the K&A Canal this weekend.

They were at Foxhangers today — up the Devizes Flight tomorrow and along the Long Pound over the weekend and back to Foxhangers on Tuesday.

Give them a ring on 07790 017418  or stop them them on the way.

Diesel 77p a litre
Coal (all 25 kg bags)
Wildfire £7.70, Stoveglow £8.50, Excel £9.35, Supatherm £9.30, Homefire £11.05, Taybrite £10.65, Anthracite (small nuts) £8.60 

Calor gas: £27.25 

They can take card payments over the phone.

Saturday — at Pewsey Wharf

Monday, September 01, 2014

No boaters' rubbish disposal for busy Devizes Wharf says CRT Contracts Manager

The return of rubbish bins to Devizes Wharf seems unlikely to happen in the near future — if ever — following a statement from the Canal and River Trust Contracts Manager Richard Harrison who claims that the bins were pushed into the canals ‘on occasions’ and that the ‘vast majority’ of the rubbish was from the general public and not from boating customers.

At a recent Canal Users’ Forum K&A Canal Waterways Manager Mark Stephens was asked about the removal of the bins from the wharf and he said that he hoped to re-instate rubbish collection on Devizes Wharf in cooperation with the local authority. 
  But in answer to an inquiry about progress on the return  of the bins to the popular and busy canal stop-over Mr Harrison said: “There are no current plans to replace these bins. These were continually abused while they were on the wharf with the vast majority of the rubbish being from the general public and not boating customers. The containers were also pushed into the canal on occasion.
  “We have rubbish facilities at both Caen Hill and Horton Bridge Inn which are a short travel distance in either direction.”

Boaters refute CRT claims
This claim of abuse of the bins has been robustly contradicted by canal users with a long association with the K&A  Canal — and Devizes Wharf in particular. 
Sandy Saddler, who moored his boat Kismet beside the slipway near the bins said: “I moored my boat there for 30 years or more and I do not know of a single instance of the bins being pushed into the canal or of the bins being used to any great extent by anyone other than by boaters.”
This was a view echoed by Bob Naylor who has kept his boat in the Devizes area for 25 years who added: “Abuse by Devizes residents is an easy excuse to make to justify removing the bins — but it just does not stand up to scrutiny.  I was moored near the bins over a weekend and I photographed people bringing rubbish to the bins by car — and they all turned out to be boaters — except for one person, the owner of a local cafe, who was putting commercial waste in the bins. When I spoke to her about it saying they were exclusively for the use of boaters she claimed she believed they were there for general public use — but I never saw her use the bins again — and to be fair I don’t recall seeing a sign saying they were ‘boater’s’ bins.”

Previous removal — and return — of the bins by BW
On a previous occasion when the bins were removed by a member of BW staff Di Harris, then the editor of The Butty, contacted the BW press office and she got a  statement from BW saying: “It is only 5 minutes down to the BW office on the Caen Hill flight — and there are bins there.” 
Di said: “It may be five minutes in a car. It is down three locks in a boat or a round trip walk of more than 3km, possibly in the rain, carrying rubbish bags. And, even more worryingly, the BW member of staff was suggesting a course of action that meant boaters carrying all their rubbish through the café garden. I can’t imagine that would be very popular. It is just another example of BW staff exhibiting a total lack of understanding and respect whilst effectively stamping their feet and saying, ‘We are BW, we can do what we want and we have no interest in what you tell us because that would make our lives difficult.”

CRT continue BW lack of understanding
Di Harris continued: “Since the inception of the Canal and River Trust what might seem to be a lack of understanding and respect for the needs of leisure,  live-aboard or hire-boat holiday makers have persisted.  At the recent meeting in Devizes when the new CRT Chief Executive, Richard Parry, was on his ‘meet the canal users’ tour a member of the audience who raised the subject of rubbish disposal was challenged by CRT K&A Patrol Officer Corrine Rotherham who said: “I must just ask a question of you. As a resident, if I want to dispose of something like a washing machine I am expected to take it to a tip — if I want to dispose of batteries I must take them to the tip.  Why should it be different for anyone else. That's my question to you?”
But the point at issue was the disposal of everyday waste — of the type that Ms Rotherham, or any householder would have collected from their home on a fortnightly basis. The fact is that all boaters will create a similar amount of waste each fortnight as any household — and with very little recycling opportunities along the K&A Canal they are likely to produce more.”
Ian Sharpe who operates White Horse Boats from the Wharf said: “There has been very little abuse of the bins by non-boaters — and a compound with a “BWB key “  would probably stop this — we really do need bins back with the number of boats stopping over in Devizes now.” 
“And” he said: ‘I regularly take bags of rubbish home from inside the Elsan Point left there because there is nowhere else to leave rubbish.”

The K&A Canal Trust had the bins removed
The latest removal of the bins was in November/December 2010 at the instigation of the then K&A Canal Trust General Manager, Dr Mike Rodd prior to the visit of the lantern parade to the wharf as part of the canal’s bicentenary celebrations.
He was quoted in the Wiltshire Gazette on 28th November as saying:” British Waterways knows nothing about them and Wiltshire Council at first said it wasn’t even their land, which is alarming as we have been paying them rent for many years.
“We have contacted the skip owners, Biffa, who said they had no details of any contract here. The skips have been here for months.”
Di Harris said: “If Dr Rodd was quoted accurately by the newspaper it is ridiculous for him to claim that neither BW or BIFFA knew anything about the skips because they had been previously removed and then replaced after complaints to BW by boaters.” 
"It is unfortunate that the K&A Canal Trust should have been instrumental in having the skips removed, but then Dr Rodd does not boat on the K&A and may have little understanding of local boater’s needs.” 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Damsels in distressCommon Darter dragonfly: Picture by Ian & Gill McColl

Common Darter dragonfly: Picture by Ian & Gill McColl
The wettest winter since records began could have damaged dragonfly and damselfly populations for years to come say the Canal & River Trust — and it is asking people to monitor the insects as part of its annual Great Nature Watch which starts today. 
 Fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away dragonfly larva (or nymphs) an as larva live underwater for up to three years, the recent floods may have a long-term effect on dragonfly populations.

Canal & River Trust group environment manager, Peter Birch, said: “Dragonflies, and their sister damselflies, flourish in clean water which is rich in bankside vegetation, such as reeds. This makes them a fantastic indicator of the health of a canal or river. While this year’s floods have had an obvious impact on larger animals, birds and fish, we are also particularly concerned with the impact on invertabrates, which form the foundation stones of a healthy water environment. We would expect to see an increase in numbers of mosquitoes and midges which prefer stagnant and isolated water, but we may also see a drop in the numbers of dragonflies emerging this Spring."

Dragonflies are an ancient species, whose ancestors were around before the dinosaurs. While many of us recognise them as beautiful flying summer insects, they spend most of their lives as underwater larva. They emerge ‘on the wing’ for a few brief months to mate and lay their eggs before dying.

The Great Nature Watch asks you to record your sightings of all wildlife you see on a canal, river, reservoir or lake. Records can be submitted by downloading the Trust’s free mobile app or online at

Anyone can take part, and record as many sightings as they like between now and September.
Damselflies mating: Picture by Ian & Gill McColl

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wiltshire Radical History Day

White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Union Council will be running its second Radical History Day on Saturday at The Cause in Chippenham. 
 Entry is free and the event runs from 10am to 4pm.  

The speakers during the day will be:
Jeremy Corbyn MP
From Wiltshire to Westminster

Professor Steve Poole from the
University of the West of England
The gallows, the gibbet and the rural poor

Melissa Barnett
Curator of Chippenham Museum on
Dame Florence Hancock

Nigel Costley
South West TUC Regional Secretary on
West Country Rebels

Rosie MacGregor
The life of Angela Gradwell Tuckett

Saturday 29th March 2014 10am-4pm

The Cause, 42 The Causeway, Chippenham SN15 3DD
● Free entry ● Bar and buffet lunch ●

For more information and to register in advance email:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Continuous Cruising Judicial Review claim withdrawn — but gives 'no comfort' to CRT

Any hopes the Canal and River Trust (CRT) had that a judgement in its favour in a Judicial Review claim brought by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) would give the force of law to its interpretation of the rules governing ‘continuous cruising’ were dashed yesterday (Wed 19 February 2014) when the action was discontinued.

Nick Brown, Legal Officer of the NBTA
Nick Brown, claimant in the judicial review proceedings against Canal & River Trust (CRT) to decide whether the Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring is lawful, yesterday afternoon discontinued the action. He said “During the hearing it became apparent that this case could not after all decide on the lawfulness of the Guidance because I am not facing any enforcement action myself. Therefore the case should not continue”.

In his judgment Mr Justice Lewis stated:
"During the course of argument I raised a problem that is that the Courts are reminded of the undesirability of deciding an issue absent a proper factual context... the Court has warned against abstract actions and needs a proper factual matrix to assess cases... In the light of that there is very little purpose to this hearing as it would not resolve anything. CRT would prefer, as a responsible public body, to have a judgment that would allow it to discharge its duties in the right way but any judgement that I could give would be very little use on the ground.”

Nick Brown who was represented by Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership and Martin Westgate QC said: “The arguments presented by my legal team will be of assistance to boaters who are subject to enforcement action”. 
“The more you look at the statute the weirder it becomes”
The judge raised a number of legal points that will be of no comfort to CRT. He found s.17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act unclear: “The more you look at the statute the weirder it becomes” he commented. He added that it would have been helpful if CRT had addressed this dispute by seeking new legislation. Mr Justice Hildyard also told CRT this in the Moore case in 2012.
"as far as 'bona fide navigation' was concerned, what was good for boaters with moorings was also good for those without. “An occasional trip down to the Dog and Duck” might very well be bona fide navigation whether this was from a marina or from a towpath spot."
Mr Justice Lewis agreed that as far as “bona fide navigation” was concerned, what was good for boaters with moorings was also good for those without. “An occasional trip down to the Dog and Duck” might very well be bona fide navigation whether this was from a marina or from a towpath spot.
 “Place” could be as small as an individual boat length”
Mr Justice Lewis also observed that “Place” could be as small as an individual boat length, by stating that the mooring or other “place” to keep a boat required by s.17(3)(c)(i) has the same meaning as the “place” used in s.17(3)(c)(ii).

Mr Justice  Lewis also stated that in his opinion, the Guidance took legislation that was already difficult to understand and did not make understanding it easier. Mr Brown observed that this means the Guidance is of little assistance to a boater seeking to ensure he is compliant with the British Waterways Act 1995. Contrary to CRT’s assertion that the Guidance remains “valid and applicable” it is now called into question.

Mr Brown was granted leave to proceed with the judicial review by Lord Justice Jackson in July 2013. Permission was confined to the issue of whether the Guidance accurately reflects s.17(3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. This governs the obligations of boaters without home moorings. Non-compliance can result in the seizure and removal of the boat.

CRT attempted to claim costs in excess of £100,000 which could deter other challengers, but Mr Justice Lewis rejected CRT’s application and ruled that CRT would have to justify the amount claimed.

Fran Read the National Press Officer of the Canal & River Trust CRT said: “The Trust’s legal team has always viewed this claim as misconceived and confirms that the Guidance remains valid and applicable for boaters without a home mooring.”

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Kintbury panto to aid boating charity

The annual pantomime by the Kintbury St Mary's Drama Group this year will raise money for the Bruce Trust — a charity which provides boating holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or older people from its bases at Lower Foxhangers and Great Bedwyn on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Bruce Trust Fact File
The Bruce Trust was formed in 1988 by Louise and David Bruce after they sold their chain of Firkin Pubs in London.

They were keen to plough some of the proceeds into a project that would benefit the community and they had become intrigued by the possibility of offering self-catering holidays to disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people cruising on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

After much research they initially put their own money into the project — and over the years they have received many generous donations to the Trust enabling the fleet to be increased to four specially-designed, purpose-built, wide-beam canal boats.

The extra width of the boats gives plenty of space for wheelchair users to manoeuvre and the boats have special built-in facilities, including hydraulic lifts, wide-access boarding ramps, low-level bunks, heating and specially fitted showers and toilets.

Their have been designed so that wheelchair users can steer the boat using the tiller and both Hannah and Rachel have been fitted with a remote steering device that enables people with less upper body mobility to steer from their wheelchair using a joystick.

The Bruce Trust has made it possible for more than 13,000 disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people — and their carers, friends or family — to enjoy participative canal-cruising holidays on the boats. As one family said:

“With increasing age and disability my father Harry’s days of enjoying canal holidays seemed to be over. But last week, there he was rising up on the lift to take the tiller once again and having a wonderful holiday with four generations of his family”.

The holiday makers are helped on their way by the dedication of more than 90 voluntary helpers who make sure that the Trust can operate in the best and most economical fashion.

Some volunteers also crew day trips — this year more than 400 people from day centres or residential homes for the elderly were able to enjoy a day of peaceful cruising on the canal.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Coal & diesel deliveries on the Long Pound on the K&A Canal

Spencer and Victoria Collins of The Boatyard, Hilperton will be delivering solid fuel, gas, diesel and some chandlery along 
the Long Pound between Devizes and Wootton Rivers on the Kennet & Avon Canal between the 3rd and 6th of January.

You can stop them and buy — or text them on 07790 017418 — and they will deliver to your boat whether you are onboard or away. You can pay by card or cash  in advance or on the day.

On board they have: 
Calor Gas: 13 kg Propane £25.49
Diesel: 82p per litre (domestic)


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Coal Boat is coming

Spencer and Victoria Collins onboard their coal boat. Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©

Spencer and Victoria Collins of Hillperton Boatyard will be making a coal run to Wootton Rivers on their new workboat Aquilo — leaving  Hilperton on Saturday 23 November. 

They expect to be in Wootton Rivers on Tuesday and back to Hilperton on Thursday so give them a ring to place an order on: 07790 017418 or stop them along the way.

They are selling: Diesel @ 82p a litre, Calor Gas @ £25.49 and solid fuel from £7.95 for 25kg.  They carry Wildfire, Stoveglow, Excel, Supatherm, Homefire and Taybrite — and they accept card payments

Friday, November 01, 2013

Devizes Boat Club — talk on flying boats

John Blunden will give a talk on the history of flying boats and the impact they had on long-distance travel. 

John regularly gives talks on aviation subjects to the U3A, Probus and other organizations.

During his flying career John flew a wide range of aircraft from Spitfires to jet planes — and he flew helicopters for a while.

John joined the RAF and learned to fly during WW2 and towards the end of the war he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and spent much of his time flying from aircraft carriers.

John founded the Aviation Group of the Devizes Branch of the U3A and he is still active in that group.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jail for K&A Canal boat burglar

A thief who had previously been spared prison for robberies from, caravans has been sent to jail for robberies from canal boats.

Allan Campbell whose robbing spree along the Kennet & Avon Canal left boaters devastated by the damage he caused to their homes, the loss of their valuables and the theft of items of sentimental value has been jailed for four-and-a-half years at Swindon Crown Court.

Campbell, 39, who was finally caught in Lincolnshire after a nationwide search and brought back to Wiltshire to stand trial had earlier this year been given a suspended sentence at Exeter Crown Court when he was found guilty of burgling more that 80 caravans on the south coast.

It was only days after this conviction that he began breaking into narrowboats on the K&A Canal and he broke into boats along much of the length of the canal. He pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and he asked for 14 further offences to be taken into consideration.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

K&A Canal stoppage

The River Avon from Saltford to Hanham is closed until futher notice due to flood conditions.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Devizes canal death man named

The man who died after being pulled from the Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes recently has been named as Gary Hedges.
Police reports say that Mr Hedges, 65, who was was looking after a boat (nb Marmalade) for a friend, suffered a heart attack as he jumped ashore to moor up the boat near Coate Road Bridge.
He was pulled from the canal on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th of October and despite being given CPR he was declared dead at the scene.
Police say they are satisfied that there are no suspicious circumstances behind Mr Hedges’ death.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Man dies in K&A Canal at Devizes

Police officers were called to the Kennet & Avon Canal between Devizes Wharf and London Road Bridge this afternoon (Wednesday) and pulled a man, believed to be in his 50s,  from the water.   

Attempts were made to resuscitate him but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Boat trafffic moving again on the K&A Canal between London Road and Devizes Wharf after a man died there this afternoon. : Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Richard Benyon loses waterways post

Richard Benyon: Pic: WaterMarx©

George Eustace
Newbury MP Richard Benyon has lost his post at Defra as Waterways minister (parliamentary under-secretary of state for natural environment, water and rural affairs).

He will be replaced by George Eustace, MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.

George Eustace said: “I spent ten years working in the farming industry and policies relating to water and the fishing industry are particularly important  to Cornwall.  I am really looking forward to working with colleagues within Defra to champion the interests of rural communities.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

K&A Canal: Caen Hill Flight winter opening

Caen Hill Flight — locks 44 to 29

01 October 2013 – 31 October 2013 — 08:00 to 15:00hrs (to clear the flight by 19:00)
01 November 2013 – 31 March 2014 — 08:00 to 13:00hrs (to clear the flight by 16:00)

Caen Hill Flight, Christmas Closure
The flight will be closed on 25, and 26 December 2013 and 01 January 2014.  

Winter opening hours will operate on all other days.

For further information call: 03030 404040

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

K&A Canal swingbridge fault stops boat traffic

Padworth Swingbridge (27) at Aldermaston is currently open to road traffic and closed to boat traffic today (Tuesday 10  September) due to a fault — it should be re-opened tomorrow (Wednesday 11th September).

Saturday, September 07, 2013

K&A re-opened after fire at canalside industrial site

The Kennet & Avon canal and towpath have been re-opened at Sells Green near Devizes following a fire yesterday (6 September).

The fire destroyed two units within a 100m x 50m building. The building contained acetylene, propane and argon cylinders, which led to a safety cordon being put into place and the canal and towpath were closed as a precaution.

Fire crews stayed on site until after 10 pm yesterday.

A fire investigation is still taking place but initial findings suggest the cause to be accidental.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Industrial unit fire closes K&A Canal and towpath

The Kennet & Avon Canal and towpath at Sells Green, between Devizes and Melksham, has been closed today (Friday 6 September) because of a fire.

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service was called to an industrial unit at Hillview Farm early this afternoon and found a number of vehicles and a workshop on fire.

The building contains acetylene, propane and argon cylinders, so a safety cordon has been put in place.

Six fire crews – from Devizes, Trowbridge, Calne, Bradford on Avon, Corsham and Ludgershall – are tackling the blaze, supported by a water carrier from Pewsey and an incident command vehicle from Devizes.

The cordon will remain in place until firefighters are sure that the cylinders no longer pose a risk.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Caen Hill Flight on the K&A Canal closed again

The Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal has been closed for the second time in only a few days after two boats became jammed in a lock today (Tue September 3).

Two boats jammed in a lock on the Caen Hill Flight. Picture by Bob Naylor©
The boats had travelled together down the Devizes Flight with no problem.  They entered lock 41 on Caen Hill with no difficulty but as they emptied the lock they became jammed and ‘hung-up’ in the lock.  

The damaged coping stone.
The crews quickly refilled the lock and the boats were re-floated but they both became jammed under the coping stones on the edge of the lock. 

And there they stayed until Canal & River Trust (CRT) staff were able to assess the situation and bring in the equipment needed to remove the coping stones and to free the boats — a process that took more than five hours.

After the two boats were freed they were moved through the lock one boat at a time and CRT staff and volunteers helped to bring the queue of other boats trapped on the flight through the lock and to clear the flight.

The Caen Hill Flight is now open to navigation. Single boats only through Lock 41. Please take extra care around Lock 41, where the damaged area is fenced off.

A mini-digger was brought in to move the coping stone

Easing one of the boats out of the lock.

Free to travel on

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

K&A Canal Winter stoppages

04.11.13 — 29.11,13: Cadley Lock(54) Heathy Lock (52) & Wootton Rivers Lock (51) 
11.11.13 — 29.11.13: Bulls Lock (88)
25.11.13 — 20.12.13: Tyle Mill (99)
02.12.13 — 13.12.13: Woolhampton Lock (94)
02.12.13 — 20.12.13: Culvert 21a
16.12.13 — 20.12.13: Fobney Lock (105)
06.01.14 — 14.02.14: Hungerford Lock (74)
10.02.14 — 14.02.14: Church Lock (64)
17.02.14 — 14.03.14: Aldermaston Lock (95)

Man in court over thefts from boats on the K&A Canal

Alan Campbell, 39 of no fixed address,who has been sought by Wiltshire Police in connection with thefts from boats on the Kennet & Avon Canal dating back to late last year, appeared at Salisbury Magistrates Court this morning.

Campbell was remanded in custody to appear on September 27 at Swindon Crown Court — charged with five counts of burglary.

Campbell was arrested in Leicestershire on Monday and transferred back to Wiltshire and police enquiries continue into other thefts from boats on the K&A.

Devizes Flight on the K&A Canal should re-open on Saturday

Locks 22-44 on the Devizes Flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal that includes the famous Caen Hill locks should re-open on Saturday says the Canal & River Trust.
Lock 23 on the K&A Canal that has closed Devizes Flight since Saturday: Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©
The damaged collar on the lock gate: Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©
The all metal top gate on the lock was damaged by a boat on Saturday August 24 and work will begin to re-set the collar tomorrow (August 29).

Providing the mortar has cured the flight will be re-opened on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

K&A Canal boat thefts — man arrested

Allan Campbell — now in custody
Allen Campbell, 39, who has been sought by Wiltshire Police following a series of thefts from boats on the Kennet & Avon Canal has been arrested.

Early yesterday morning he was arrested by Lincolnshire Police and he has been brought back to Wiltshire and he is being held in Melksham Police Station.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

George Gibson: Marine Surveyor — obituary

Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©
George Gibson who died last week was a boating man to his very core.  He served as an engineer officer in the Royal Navy for 37 years. His last job with the admiralty as a Commander included the responsibility for several hundred small boats belonging to, or affiliated to, the services so when George retired from the Navy in 1985 he put this knowledge of small boats to good use when he became a marine surveyor specializing in canal and river craft.

George and his wife Shelagh in
his Royal Navy days
George was one of a band of entrepreneurs who put their faith, and money, into setting up businesses on the K&A Canal at a time when many thought it would never re-open. George and other riparian businesses, along with volunteers working on restoration projects, helped to drive the restoration forward. He was Chairman in the early days of the Association of Canal Enterprises (ACE), which later became the Kennet & Avon Canal Trade Association.
George ran an electric trip-boat, Patricia, from Hilperton and in 1986 he and his family moved to an old builders' yard and cottage alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal at  Honeystreet.
At that time the canal was closed. The weed clogged, shallow water of the 14 mile Long Pound was only just navigable largely thanks to the movements of the landlocked nearby Pewsey Wharf Boat Club.

Over the years proper wharf facilities and moorings at the 'bottom of the garden' site were installed and Builder’s Wharf run by George and his wife Shelagh was considered to be one of the best kept moorings on the canal system.
When British Waterways introduced the Certificate of Compliance (C of C) in 1990 (the forerunner of the Boat Safety Scheme) George was one of the first Surveyors in the scheme. His reputation for fairness in his examinations and his willingness to share knowledge is legendary — as are George’s surveys that he bashed out on his old typewriter with its distinctive italic type face.
As well as running a business on the canal George was involved with the K&A Canal Trust and he had been a volunteer engineer at its steam powered pumping station at Crofton. When, thanks to the efforts of the K&A Canal Trust and Bath City Council, the Widcombe Flight of locks in Bath was re-opened in June 1976 George and Shelagh were amongst the first to travel up  the flight in their boat  Border Gypsy
George finally retired at the age of 80, Builder’s Wharf was sold and he, his wife Shelagh and his son Chris moved to Devizes.
George is survived by his wife, Shelagh and two sons, Chis and Stephen and granddaughters Leila and Yasmin.

George Randle Gibson born 1931 died July 5, 2013

Bob Naylor

George's funeral is on Monday 15th July at 2.30pm in St. Mary's Church, Alton Barnes, Near Marlborough, SN8  4LR.  

Tea after the service in the nearby Coronation Hall.  Family Flowers only.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Legendary K&A boat surveyor dies

George Gibson who was well known on the Kennet & Avon Canal as a marine surveyor and owner of Gibson's Boat Services on Builder's Wharf at Honeystreet near Pewsey died today (Friday July 5th).

Details of the funeral, which will take place at St. Mary's Church, Alton Barnes, and a full appreciation of Georges contribution to the maritime world will follow shortly.

Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©

Thursday, January 31, 2013

K&A Waterways Partnership Chair stands down

Fleur de Rhe-Philipe:
Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©

Fleur de Rhe-Philipe who became the first Chair of the Kennet & Avon Waterways Partnership when it was created after the Canal & River Trust was formed in July last year has stood down.

Fleur de Rhe-Philipe says that she is giving up the role because of other commitments. She said: "I am a cabinet member on Wiltshire Council and you just cannot do both jobs. 

“I am very proud of the work the Partnership has done, not least helping the Canal & River Trust in its transition to the third sector. I know my colleagues on the Partnership have the passion and commitment to drive it forwards and establish a strong vision for how the local waterways will develop.

Roger Hanbury, head of governance services at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We are hugely grateful to Fleur for the work she has done to date, which has been crucial to the work of the Partnership while the Trust has gone through a period of major transition."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waterways Charity admits its cruising rules are not legal

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) which manages waterways in England and Wales has admitted that the rules that it has required a sector of its boating customers to obey actually have no legal standing.

Canal & River Trust Head of 
Boating, Sally Ash
Picture by Bob Naylor: WaterMarx©
Continuous Cruisers (boaters with no home mooring) asked for clarification of the British Waterways (now CRT) rules being enforced — saying: “Why can’t you make it simpler and just tell us how far it is necessary to move? ” In a background paper for a meeting in Milton Keynes in November 2012, the CRT Head of Boating, Sally Ash said: “We would if we could but it’d be wrong and we’d be going beyond our powers. ‘Place’ can only be defined within a local context. That’s why we’re trying to develop local mooring plans in true cooperation with all sections of the boating community”.

In admitting that it cannot lawfully specify a minimum distance that boaters without home moorings must travel in order to comply with Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act, CRT are now returning to a definition that was given by the then Kennet & Avon Canal Waterway Manager, Ian Jarvis at a meeting in Bath in January 2005 attended by Bath MP Don Foster, representatives of Bath & North East Somerset Council, the West Kennet Boating Community and National Association of Boat Owners. The minutes of that meeting state: “regarding the Guidelines for Continuous Cruising it was confirmed that the guidance note suggested that a progressive journey was necessary. The boaters asked what was the realistic expectation for a progressive journey and Ian Jarvis confirmed that the requirement would be to move from one neighbourhood to another — and one definition of this would be to move from one parish to another.” The boater representatives at that meeting said that they were happy with the continuous cruiser guidance that had been reviewed by user groups — that it was good guidance — although it needed clarification.
In the background notes for the Milton Keynes meeting in November the CRT also said that it has dropped the enforcement target of putting all boats that travel less than 30km during their contract period into the enforcement process — stating that the target was unrealistic.

Panda Rainbow of the K&A Boating Community said: “There isn't much evidence of true co-operation with “all sections” of the boating community here on the K&A in the light of Sally Ash’s rubbishing of the views of the liveaboard boaters on the Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group and her unilateral termination of the steering group in late 2011 just as it was reaching a consensus.”

In the the briefing paper Sally Ash also conceded that the judgement in BW v Davies is not legally binding saying: “In making a judgement in the Davies case in 2010, a Bristol county court judge said that moving to and fro along a 10 mile stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal did not amount to bona fide navigation. This is a steer but not legally binding for other areas”.  

Panda said: “Judgements made in a county court are not binding, even on another county court and this is a significant U-turn from Ms Ash’s original statement in a press release on 1 April 2011.  That press release said: ‘The decision of the Learned Judge in the case of British Waterways v Davies will be binding on lower courts (and District Judges) and persuasive on Circuit Judges throughout England and Wales.’ This vastly over-stated BW’s legal position; apart from anything else, there are no lower courts with jurisdiction to hear Section 8 cases.” she concluded.

At the meeting it was also admitted that overstaying on visitor moorings was not a problem caused by itinerant ‘liveaboard’ boaters — and that boaters with moorings were just as likely to disregard visitor mooring time limits.

You can read the CRT briefing document in full at:  

The meeting in November took place between continuous cruisers; CRT Trustee John Dodwell; the CRT boating team and CRT enforcement staff. It was initiated by continuous cruiser Peter Macdonald following discussions with Mr Dodwell in which Mr Macdonald raised his concerns about the CRT Council briefing on Non-Compliant Continuous Cruising published in October 2012.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

K&A Canal ice skating... continued

The recent archive picture we ran of ice skating on the K&A in Devizes prompted a response from Dave Cleaver. His comments referred to a story we ran last winter — of a lone skater on the same pound.  Dave said: "I'm not sure if we are talking about the same year but sometime in the mid or late 1970s BWB had an excavator on that pound to break the ice to prevent the skaters enjoying themselves".

The picture was taken by me after I moved to the South West in 1980 after working in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire — where we used to have 'real' snow. So the picture would have been taken in the early 1980s. 

Dick Van Klavren skating on the K&A Canal in Devizes in the 1980s: Picture by Bob Naylor©

Dutchman, Dick Van Klavren, who ran the Pygmy Pinetum nursery in Devizes at the time  had been skating on the canal for a couple of days when I took this picture which was published in a number of papers. It must have attracted the attention of British Waterways bosses because they brought in Devizes Cranes to smash up the ice.  

The boss of the company, Howard Hewitt, was at the controls when shortly after he had started smashing the ice the machine slid down the bank and into the canal and Howard had to jump to safety — getting a soaking in the process. The crane lay on its side in the water for some time before it was safe to recover it.

The machine had done enough damage to the ice to prevent anyone skating on that pound — but that wasn't going to stop Dick from practicing his speed skating.  Tony Adamson, who was the landlord of the Bridge Inn at Horton, said: "After BW smashed up his rink in Devizes, Dick was not thwarted and he would skate out on the canal from Devizes to the Bridge Inn at Horton where he would have a chat and glass of lemonade — and then skate back to town."

BWB had not always taken such a dramatic approach to people going onto the ice. Dave Cleaver who had worked for BWB said: "When I worked on the cut during a big freeze our ganger encouraged us to walk on the snow-covered ice rather than on the rough towpath (they were all rough then!) but we had to get off before any bridges because the ice was thinner there — and  we had to brush the ice and snow off the hedges before we could cut them. And for that we were paid only about £10 a week!”

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snow on the Caen Hill Flight on the K&A Canal

The Caen Hill Flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal in yesterday's snow storm
Picture by Bob Naylor©

Picture by Bob Naylor©

Ice skating on the K&A Canal

This picture from the archives was taken on the Kennet & Avon Canal on the Devizes Flight — below Prison Bridge, above Caen Hill... can anyone put a date to it? Below is a picture taken from the same spot during yesterday's snow storm.

Devizes Flight on the K&A Canal  above Caen Hill: Picture by Bob Naylor©

Friday, January 11, 2013

English champion of French waterways dies

Former President of Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais, Jo Parfitt died yesterday (10th January 2013) after a battle with cancer.
A lock on the Sardy Flight on the Canal du Nivernais — and
Jo Parfitt: Picture by Bob Naylor©
Jo was the first English President of Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais (ACN) and he had run businesses on the Burgundy canals for several decades. There can be few boaters who have explored the inland waterways of France who will not know of Jo Parfitt, even if they have not benefited from his engineering skills or learned more of the Burgundy canals from his encyclopaedic knowledge of those waterways.
Jo came from a farming background but caught the bug of canal enthusiasm as an apprentice toolmaker in Enfield in the late 1960s.
He formed a canal society at the East Herts College of Further Education and by the 1970s he was spending his weekends excavating the locks on the Widcome Flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath, enjoying the local ale and — as he put it: “doing our bit to stop the local ladies becoming bored on a Saturday night”.
By 1977 Jo was running a company in Worcester building boats — including 15 for a hire base in France.
When the people who were to run the hire boats in France backed out, Jo and a French-speaking colleague stepped in and he moved to France to help run the fleet.
In 1980 Jo bought a Dutch barge (complete with a 100-Hp crane on the deck) to live, work and travel the canals and he started repairing passing boats when the hire boats were out.

Jo spent 18 months in Corbigny and 10 years in Mailly La Ville before moving to Migennes. 

After selling his business at Migennes and ‘retiring’ in 2010, Jo continued to carry out boat surveys, was establishing his general engineering business based near Clamecy and he also moved into technical journalism, writing a monthly column for the French waterways magazine, Fluvial.

Jo was a founder member of Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais (ACN) when it was set up in 1989 to promote the canal and to make it more accessible to as many people as possible without damaging its beauty and the tranquility of the countryside through which it passes.
Jo, prompted by the then ACN President Philippe Benard, looked for a canal in England to twin with. It was clear to him that the very canal that he had volunteered on as a young man, the K&A, was the most suitable.
The two canals have similar geographic and geological features — they both have 16-lock flights (at Sardy and Devizes), they both link two major rivers,  they both have tunnels and similar geological problems. Jo met with the K&A Canal Trust’s Hon Engineer Mike Lee and as a consequence of that meeting the first twinning trip took place in 1991 when Jo brought a party of 20 to the K&A.
Jo was passionate about the potential benefits of twinning. “it gives us a card to play that catches the eye of politicians and local authorities. We can show people here in France what’s being achieved abroad. In my opinion it will take European involvement to save the small central canals in France and for this we need our twinning links. There is also much more that can be achieved on the cultural front, with exchanges and projects between communities and schools.”  
Jo believed that ACN and KACT were the first canal associations to twin.  Since then others have followed. Jo’s influence prompted other French waterways to twin, including the canal D’Orleans, which is twinned with the Basingstoke (instigated by information on how to go about it from ACN), the Nantes à Brest is twinned with the Wilts & Berks and the Canal du Berry (ARICAB) has twinned with The Cotswolds Canals.
Since twinning with the K&A, Jo championed linking the Nivernais with other European waterways, including the Royal Canal in Ireland through their Amenity Group, and with the Dutch Barge Association.
Jo became President of ACN in 2008, four decades after he first caught the canal bug on the K&A Canal in England and he always remained passionate about the potential of inland waterways for recreation and employment.
Whilst he was President, ACN joined with six other French canals to form l’Entente des Canaux du Centre-France (Canal du Berry, Canal de Bourgogne, Canal de Briare, Canal lateral a la Loire, Canal d’Orleans, Canal du Centre et Canal du Nivernais) to encourage tourism and strengthen their voice in negotiations.
Jo said “United we stand, divided we fall!  It is good to have the support of the other groups and it is helpful that we can share the cost of exhibiting at the major waterways events such as Paque Boat in St Jean de Losne. And it gives us greater access to local & national politicians.”
 In 2009, his last year as President of Les Amis, Jo nominated K&A Canal Trust Hon Engineer Mike Lee to be invested as a Chevalier into the ancient French wine-makers’ society Le Confrérie des Chevaliers des Trois Ceps at the end of the two-day Fête Nautique in Vincelles to honour his involvement  in the twinning association, saying: “it needs to be now, you never know what the future may bring”. How prophetic those words were and how typical of Jo that he ensured that public recognition was given where deserved.
"No canal, no tourists — no tourists, no canal" 
Jo’s presidency of Les Amis ended in 2010, but his passion for promoting the Canal du Nivernais continued. He said: “The Nivernais, like any other canal, is an amenity for walkers, cyclists and anyone visiting the area interested in history, architecture, wildlife, botany and fishing. The canal makes a linear park that anyone passing can step into for a picnic if nothing else — and sit and watch boats go by.
“The canal supports employment in many forms, it is an artery bringing essential tourists to an area with only agriculture and forestry and a small amount of industry. Tourism is absolutely vital to the Nivernais. “No canal, no tourists!” says Jo, “but equally important, no tourists, no canal”.

Jo has left a legacy on the canals in central France that is being continued by his friends and colleague at ACN.

MERCI, très grand MERCI pour ce splendide article et surtout d'avoir fait le voyage à Auxerre... Di & Bob, nous sommes fiers d'avoir d'aussi bons amis...toute l'équipe de l'ACN vous embrasse et souhaite vous revoir bientôt. 

The French inland waterways magazine, Fluvial, marks Jo's passing...

English Translation: 
Jo Parfitt embarked on the morning of 10 January 2013 for a very long trip and we, on the dock, are left sad and shivering. It seems that he took his toolbox in one hand and, with a turn, he gave us a wink. Noah's Ark was in need a serious check-up ... But, his family, Doret, and his friends are now alone.

As soon as Jo received his ten fingers, he dismantled anything that's operation he wanted to understand.  Later, as a qualified mechanic, he set his sights on the boats, as so often have the poets and free men. In France, he created the shipyard Migennes and designed, fitted out, repaired countless boats. He was also a co-founder and one of the presidents of Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais, with the goal of saving the canal he loved.

He loved to share his knowledge and his dreams and launched, two years ago and with the blessing of Fluvial magazine, a technical column, now an orphan.

Many today feel alongside his two sons Matthew and Sam.

Sad times ...