Tuesday, November 30, 2010

K&A Canal Aldermaston lift Bridge(28) work complete


The repair work to the main bridge bearings on Aldermaston Lift Bridge (28) is now completed —the bridge is now working normally for boat and road traffic. 

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Devizes celebrates its canal's 200th birthday


The parade of decorated and illuminated boats from Devizes and Pewsey Wharf Boat Clubs was led by a former BW work boat that has been restored by a group of volunteers of the Avon Vale Group who took the prize for the best dressed boat.
Devizes took its spectacular annual lantern parade to the K&A Canal wharf on Friday to wish the canal a happy 200th birthday.

The town wharf was packed with lantern carrying revellers who came to sing happy birthday to the canal, watch a parade of illuminated boats — and then escort Father Christmas back to the Market Place for the switching on of the Christmas lights followed by a firework display.
Pictures by Bob Naylor






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Friday, November 26, 2010

KA Boaters' update: Friday 26 November 2010

Stoppages:
Aldermaston Lift Bridge:
Closed to road and boat traffice until 30 November for replacement of main bridge bearings.

Wootton Rivers (Locks 51-54):
closed until  Friday 17 December for new lock gates to be fitted (Scheduled winter stoppage).

The Bath Flight: Widcombe Lock(7) to Bath Top Lock(13) 
Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th December for scaffold installation and on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th February for scaffold removal.
Between these dates refurbishment work will be done on the iron tail bridges over the locks — the flight will stay open with a reduced headroom of 2.4m. 

Navigation Restrictions: 
Oakhill Down Lock (68) near Froxfield is now open — but by appointment only. BW staff will operate the lock at 9am and 2.30pm until futher notice. Bookings must be made at least 24 hours in advance, call Alistair Ogden on 07711 403471 (Bookings for weekend passage should be made before 12 noon on Friday).

Between Burghfield Lock (103) and Southcote Lock (104) from Tuesday 30 November 2010 to Friday 11 February 2011 the water level will be lowered by 250mm (approx 10 inches) so that fenders can be installed on piles set below normal water level. The work is on a river section so levels be affected by changes in the river flow. Enquiries: 07920 824 310

From the west of Hungerford at Cobblers Lock (72) to Wire Lock (76) on the eastern side of the town there could be delays of up to 30 minutes and occasional drops in the water lever for dredging and bank protection work.
The Bath Flight — Widcombe Lock(7) to Bath Top Lock(13) Height restriction of 2.4m between 10 December and 19 February 2011

Water levels:
Water levels are good throughout the canal — although there may be lower levels from time to time  between Cobblers Lock (72) to Wire Lock (76) for the work going on there.

Boating facilities
  • BW report that all of their pump-outs are working.
  • There is no longer rubbish disposal at Hungerford — use Kintbury or Great Bedwyn.
NOTE: Bradford on Avon lock (14): As reported last week the stoppage planned for Monday 29 November 2010 to Wednesday 1 December 2010 for repairs to the lock structure and sluices has been cancelled. It will now take place next year - probably January or February.


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Above inflation increase to BW boat licences

British Waterways will  increase boat licence fees by 5.1% from  April — a figure that they say is 2% above the governments Consumer Price Index — and with the increase in VAT next year the increased cost to the boat owner will be more than 7%.

BW say that they they expect this rise to give them an extra £0.85m in 2011/12.

BW propose a raft of other changes to boat licencing that they will introduce after consultation. These will include:
  • Changes to the pricing of short-term licences that will see the cost of a 3 month licence rise from 35% of the annual fee to 60%, 
  • Continuing with the £150 late payment charge but replacing the 'prompt-payment' discount with an 'early-payment' discount (10% discount for payments received two weeks before expiry)
  • Increasing the cost of a replacement index plate to £20 (including VAT).

The Gold Licence will rise by 2.5% plus the increased VAT.

To take part in the consultation go to: Licence consultation document

Drowning swan in Newbury rescue

A drowning swan was rescued in the centre of Newbury early yesterday afternoon (Thursday) after it got its head stuck in an underwater hole.
A passer by pulled the  swan out and with the help of a police officer drained the water from the swans lungs and and they then gave  it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The swan revived and was later taken to the Swan Lifeline Centre in Eton with only minor damage to its beak.

Contact The Swan Lifeline Centre on: 01753 859397

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New book celebrates K&A Canal's 200 years

Queen of Waters — a new book about the Kennet & Avon Canal is to be published on the 28th December — 200 years to the day after the opening of the canal that allowed boats to travel from Bristol to Reading.




The book abounds with many previously 
unpublished pictures of the K&A Canal
When the Kennet & Avon Canal opened on 28 December 1810 it really was 'the wonder of its age'. A broad waterway built across southern England as a trade route between the country’s two greatest ports — London and Bristol — and the countryside through which it passed would never be the same.
   Yet only 30 years after it was completed, Brunel’s Great Western Railway opened and robbed it of much of its traffic. Trade on the canal declined and after decades of neglect came ultimate dereliction for the canal.
   The K&A lay like a sleeping princess, weed-choked and silent, its locks and bridges crumbling – but there were people determined to keep it alive and thanks to their effort it became the Queen of Waters — the title of a new book to be published in December by Kirsten Elliott, subtitled "A journey in Time along the Kennet & Avon Canal".
   In the year celebrating the bicentenary of the first cargo travelling from Bristol to Reading — and twenty years on from the grand reopening by the Queen —  this new book pays tribute to the canal that refused to die.



A full review of the book will follow — but in the meantime you can pre-order the book from the KAcanalTIMES bookshop: Queen of Waters




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Monday, November 22, 2010

Water loss tests on the K&A

Increased pressures on the water resources of the canal network through climate change, tougher environmental legislation and increased usage are likely — and a Water Resources Plan for the Kennet & Avon Canal is being produced so that the demands of future canal use can be met. 

'Stilling tests' in the pounds have to be done to estimate losses in the canal and these will need locks to be closed overnight.

Stilling Tests
During the trials lock gates will be sealed with ash and padlocked to prevent them being used and water coming into the canal will also be controlled. The level in the canal will be monitored and BW staff will walk the pounds to identify areas of loss. 

Following the test a volume calculation will be made and a leakage rate determined. The stilling tests will take place overnight so there should be little inconvenience to boat users.

The locks involved in this test are Bath Top Lock (13), Bradford on Avon Lock (14) and Buckley's Lock (15) at Semington. They will be locked at 4pm on Tuesday 30 November and re-opened at 9am on Wednesday 1 December 2010.


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BW announce national dredging contract

Marine-based civil engineer Land & Water Ltd have won the British Waterways national dredging contract to run from December 2010 until March 2015. 

BW national dredging manager, Ian Marmont said, “Funding in the public and charitable sectors over the next few years is going to be particularly tight and we must ensure that we get the absolute maximum benefit from the money available.  With plans to prioritise spend on dredging in each of the next two years, this national contract with Land & Water is welcome news for the waterways and those that use and enjoy them.” 

Spending on dredging in 2011 and 2012 will be increased to £5m a year — BW say that by awarding the national contract to a single company they will get more dredging done for their money.
James Maclean, Managing Director of Land & Water Services Ltd welcomed the award of the contract saying, “This single-source contract award is a reflection of the long-term partnership we have been developing and investing in with British Waterways for more than 15 years."

He continued, "We have always believed in the philosophy of ‘working together’ and we welcome the incentives in our new contract to find ever-greater efficiencies, increase recycling opportunities, and reduce the environmental impact of our joint operations."


Kennet & Avon Canal not on 2011 dredging priority list
BW has announced that the dredging priorities for 2011 include the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Farnhill and Bingley, stretches of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and the Aylesbury Arm of The Grand Union Canal.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

New bridge for the Wilts & Berks Canal

The Bailey Bridge had to be moved very carefully
making sure that the fibre-optic cables supported
underneath were not disturbed.
An historic steel bridge that was destined for the scapyard will get a new lease of life thanks to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.

Mendip District Council donated the historic Bailey Bridge to the W&BCT because it is being replaced by a new £200,000 bridge that will be opened in January 2011.

The bridge had spanned the river in Frome since 1986 - but it had to be closed to traffic in 2006 for safety reasons.

The bridge has been taken to Semington where it will be renovated by Trust members and the parts will be used to build a slightly shorter-span farm crossing on the new canal link from the Kennet & Avon Canal at Semington to the River Avon in Melksham. 

Mike Lee the W&B Canal Trust Director of Engineering said, "I worked with the contractors to make sure the bridge was dismantled very carefully so that all reusable parts were saved for renovation although, unfortunately, all of the decking and the stringers that support it had to be scrapped." He continued, "Although we planned how the bridge was to be removed very carefully it was still nerve-wracking to see the structure being lifted out gently by the crane."

WBCT Chairman, John Laverick said, "The Melksham Link project is a key part of our restoration plans and the bridge will be put to good use.
"Many people who use the canal enjoy the connections with our great industrial heritage so we will include interpretative signs on the towpath to highlight the historic significance of this type of bridge. It is an honour to have this historic structure as part of our waterway." 
For more information about Bailey Bridges got to: Bailey Bridge History
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust websitewww.wbct.org.uk
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Bag o' sh*t







Mike Roberts, a photographer, graphic designer and cartoonist who lives beside the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire gives a view, shared by many, about a continuing towpath problem — and now that the leaves have gone from the hedgerows along the canal the evidence is plainly there for all to see.


Hand on heart, I've never been a 'doggy' person

I tolerate dogs. I tolerate them when they bark and growl at me. I tolerate them when they stinky slobber on my hand. I even tolerate them when they leap up and try and knock me over. Actually, I just remembered back to a little Yorkie I used to know called Chewy. Chewy was OK.

But poo is the problem. Poo on your shoe. Poo in areas where children play. Poo in areas like nature reserves where ecologists play - grovelling on hands and knees, looking for marsh fritillary larvae or early signs of squinancywort. 

Good dog owners pick up the poo [scoop the poop] in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the appropriate manner. A hearty round of applause for all those good folk. 

Bad dog owners shiftily avert their gaze to admire a passing cement truck and continue their sauntering walk as Effin' Fido dumps a pile in the middle of the pavement/footpath/canal towpath. 

But there's an in-between breed [crossbreed?] of dog owners whose behaviour is, quite frankly, incomprehensible. After dutifully bagging up their pet's excrement they throw the bag down into the grass, under some bushes, or even tie the bag onto a branch of a bush.

What do they think will happen to the bagged-up shite? Do they walk past the bag each day and admire it? The polythene is very effective at preserving its contents and preventing it from breaking down naturally. No chance of dung-loving insects processing it in there.

I am totally flummoxed by these people. I wait in hope of enlightenment from someone who has insight into their mindset.


Visit Mike's Blog at: miketoons.blogspot.com
His website at: miketoons.co.uk
and see more of his his photographs and cartoons at: flickr.com/photos/miketoons



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Saturday, November 20, 2010

River Kennet is the country's second worst river says poll

The River Kennet in Hungerford: Picture by Bob Naylor

The River Kennet was judged to be the second worst river in a poll run by 'Our Rivers' — a pressure group that is a coalition of The Angling Trust, The Salmon and Trout Association, the RSPB and the WWF. 

The River Kennet at County Lock in Reading: Picture by Bob Naylor
The River Kennet came in second behind the River Thames  — which strangely was judged to be both the worst and the second best river in the country — and the River Mersey came in third worst behind the River Kennet.

The poll asked the question, "Is your local river teeming with wildlife or choking with pollution? Is it a place for quiet contemplation, or toxic contamination?" and said, "Whether it's a sparkling stream or a dried up desert, we want to know."
Voters were asked to rate the worst rivers for the presence of invasive species such as crayfish and mink, over abstraction, agricultural pollution, man-made structures blocking fish movement, pollution from roads and sewage and other discharges .

For the best river voters were asked to rate them as great for fishing, a place to relax, the presence of wildlife, access for visiting and great for swimming, canoeing and boating.

The campaign was launched last year to fight for clean and healthy rivers — in the same year as a Government report revealed that 74% of the UK's rivers are failing to meet EU environmental targets.


For more information about the poll go to: www.ourrivers.org.uk 

Friday, November 19, 2010

KA Boaters' update: Friday 19 November 2010

Stoppages:
  • Wootton Rivers (Locks 51-54) closed until  Friday 17 December for new lock gates to be fitted. (Scheduled winter stoppage)
  • The Bath Flight  — Widcombe Lock(7) to Bath Top Lock(13) Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th December for scaffold installation and on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th February for scaffold removal.
Between these dates refurbishment work will be done on the iron tail bridges over the locks — the flight will stay open with a reduced headroom of 2.4m. 


Navigation Restrictions: 
  • Oakhill Down Lock (68) near Froxfield is now open — but by appointment only. BW staff will operate the lock at 9am and 2.30pm until futher notice. Bookings must be made at least 24 hours in advance, by calling 01380 722859. (Bookings for weekend passage should be made before 12 noon on Friday).
Note: tomorrow (Sat 20th November) you can use the lock between 10 and 10.30 am without booking because the lock will be operated for boats already booked.
    • From the west of Hungerford at Cobblers Lock (72) to Wire Lock (76) on the eastern side of the town there could be delays of up to 30 minutes and occasional drops in the water lever for dredging and bank protection work.
    • The Bath Flight  — Widcombe Lock(7) to Bath Top Lock(13) Height restriction of 2.4m between 10 December and 19 February 2011
      Water levels:
      Water levels are good throughout the canal — although there may be lower levels from time to time  between Cobblers Lock (72) to Wire Lock (76) for the work going on there.

      Boating facilities
      • BW report that all of their pump-outs are working.
      • There is no longer rubbish disposal at Hungerford — use Kintbury or Great Bedwyn.
      Note: Bradford on Avon lock (14): The stoppage planned for Monday 29 November 2010 to Wednesday 1 December 2010 for repairs to the lock structure and sluices has been cancelled. It will now take place next year.


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      K&A Canal Bradford on Avon Lock stoppage postponed

      Bradford on Avon lock (14)

      The stoppage planned for Monday 29 November 2010 to Wednesday 1 December 2010 for repairs to the lock structure and sluices has been cancelled 

      It will now take place next year.

      KAcanalTIMES website now online at:  www.kacanaltimes.co.uk

      Wednesday, November 17, 2010

      Adopt a tree for the K&A's bicentenary

      Twenty nine oak trees — one for each of the locks on the Devizes Flight — that includes the world famous Caen Hill Flight — are to be planted to mark the Kennet & Avon Canal's 200th birthday. If you would like to commerate a special event or person you can sponsor a tree for £75.
      The trees will be planted to form an avenue up to the BW car park on Caen Hill. Sarah Brice the BW Regeneration Project Manager for the South said, "We at BW feel that this contribution to the landscape and biodiversity will provide a lasting legacy for the future." 
      Pupils from three local schools and volunteers from the British Trust for Nature Volunteers will be planting the trees — but there is room for more volunteers.
      If you would like to be involved in planting the trees on November 30th — or you would like to sponsor a tree — get in touch with Sarah by Email at: Sarah.Brice@britishwaterways.co.uk

      Tel: 01452318049 or Mobile: 07748 936950
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      Tuesday, November 16, 2010

      K&A Canal: Bath Flight - change to stoppage

      Bath Flight from Widcombe Lock(7) to Bath Top Lock(13)
      Stoppages:
      Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th December for scaffold installation.
      Thursday 17th and Friday 18th February for scaffold removal.

      The stoppage for refurbishment work on the iron tail bridges over the locks has been changed and the flight will stay open through the Winter, albeit with a reduced headroom of 2.4m from 10th December 2010 until Saturday 19th February 2011 when the flight will be re-opened for normal operation.


      KAcanalTIMES is now online at www.kacanaltimes.co.uk

      Sunday, November 14, 2010

      Illuminate Bath — Lights Out finale


      The Illuminate Bath Festival finished on a high note on Saturday with dazzling performances in Southgate Place from students and staff from Bath Spa University. 
          The work on show used light, sound and movement. 'Open Channel' by Rolf Pilarsky featured images of the K&A Canal projected onto shop walls – there was performance poetry from a group from Bristol and a host of lost clowns got the audience to join in as they discovered the wonder of light. Pictures by Bob Naylor.





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      Friday, November 12, 2010

      BW's Winter work programme begins on the K&A Canal

      High winds yesterday put the start of the lock gate replacement at Wootton Rivers in doubt — but the wind subsided and today Nick Lewis, pictured right, and his team were able to remove the old lock gates. 


      The new lock gates have been made and they will be delivered and fitted in the next few days.




      Read more about BW's Winter programme to repair and refurbish locks on the K&A Canal at: million pound lock make-over

      KA Canal boater's bulletin Friday 12 November 2010

      Stoppages:
      • Wootton Rivers (Locks 51-54) closed until  Friday 17 December for new lock gates to be fitted. (Scheduled winter stoppage)
      Navigation Restrictions: 



      • Oakhill Down Lock (68) near Froxfield is now open — but by appointment only. BW staff will operate the lock at 9am and 2.30pm until futher notice. 
        Bookings must be made at least 24 hours in advance, by calling 01380 722859. (Bookings for weekend passage should be made before 12 noon on Friday).

      • From the west of Hungerford at Cobblers Lock (72) to Wire Lock (76) on the eastern side of the town there could be delays of up to 30 minutes and occasional drops in the water lever for dredging and bank protection work.
      • Caen Hill Flight — boaters are asked to share locks where possible to save water.
      • The Bath Flight is open — the stoppage start has been postponed until Monday 22 November 2010 but it is still expected to finish on Friday 10 December 2010
      Water levels:
      Water levels are good throughout the canal — although there may be lower levels from time to time  between Cobblers Lock (72) to Wire Lock (76) for the work going on there.

      Boating facilities
      • BW report that all of their pump-outs are working.
      • There is no longer rubbish disposal at Hungerford — use Kintbury or Great Bedwyn.
      Note:
      The George Inn at Bathampton is open again following refurbishment of the pub.

      .

      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      Million pound make-over for K&A Canal locks

      British Waterways is working on a million pound lock gate replacement and maintenance programme on the Kennet & Avon Canal this winter.


      A lock gate being craned into position 
      on the Devizes Flight last Winter.
      Picture by Bob Naylor
      In the canal's 200th anniversary year, which has had a high number of unscheduled stoppages because of lock problems, BW is working on much-needed maintenance to ensure that the canal can be protected for future generations. 

      BW are  replacing 12 sets of lock gates along the canal, including seven sets of gates at Caen Hill, where the flight of locks is a scheduled ancient monument. 

      Gates will also be replaced at Wootton Rivers, Heathy Close, Dunmill and Cadley Lock.

      The gates are hand crafted at BW's workshops and when the lock gates are craned into position on-site, the local BW team will install them and make final adjustments to make them fit perfectly.

      There will be open days on the Caen Hill Flight so that people can get a closer look at the hidden workings of the waterways and to see the massive task that maintenance of the canals is.

      Vince Moran, British Waterways’ operations director, said: “The recent announcement that England and Wales’ canals and rivers are to become part of a new ‘national trust’ for the waterways will give the public a much greater role in looking after this important part of the nation’s heritage.  I hope opening up some of our lock gate replacements and other repairs will give people along the Kennet & Avon Canal a chance to see the scale of the work we do to ensure that the waterways are preserved for today’s users and future generations, as well as gain an appreciation for the magnificent industrial heritage in our care.”
        
      Kennet & Avon Canal Winter Works
      Other maintenance works that will take place this winter include work at Martinslade Embankment (between Sells Green and Foxhangers), installation of weir booms on the River Avon, dredging work around Hungerford and Newbury and works to the iron bridges and chimney in Bath. 

      Winter Works Open Day at Caen Hill
      Saturday 12th February 10.30am – 3.30pm, to include walking tours. More details to follow.