Friday, December 31, 2010

KA Canal Boaters' update: Friday December 31, 2010

As dawn broke today at Caen Hill, Devizes on the 200th anniversary of the Canal being officially open for commercial traffic the only movement is lock keeper, Robbie Preston, taking the padlocks off of the locks.

200 years ago two coal barges ascended the flight but a third was thwarted by the frosty conditions —  a single stone barge had gone through the flight on the 28th — but the canal was not officially opened to commercial traffic until the 31st. 

It seems very unlikely that there will be any boat movements on this part of the K&A today.  

Lock Keeper, Robbie Preston, unlocks the Caen Hill Flight: Picture by Bob Naylor

Despite the milder conditions today there is still ice up to 6 inches thick on parts of the canal and with a low of 0° forecast for tonight and down to -4° over the weekend the ice looks to be with us for a while longer. 

Caen Hill Opening Times (Locks 28-44)
31st December - Open 8am to 4pm
1st January to 3rd January - Closed.
4th January to 9th January - Open 8am to 4pm

Stoppages:
Wootton Rivers (Locks 51-54): Stoppage extended
closed until Friday 7 January 2011 
Because of sub-zero temperatures tents have been built over the locks so that they can be heated to help the lime morter to set.

Dunmill Lock (75): Delayed by one week 
Monday 17 January 2011 - Friday 11 March 2011
The start of this stoppage has been delayed a week to allow the completion of the dredging works and the transit of delayed craft from the Wootton Rivers 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, 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 30th November 2010 to Friday 11th 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.

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.
Enquiries to BW Devizes Office:  01380 722859
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

200th anniversary of the opening of the K&A Canal

On the evening of Friday 28th December 1810 a single barge carrying stone for the Earl of Ailesbury ascended the Caen Hill Flight of locks without ceremony and marked the completion of a continuous inland water route from Bristol to Reading.  

Horse drawn boats on the Caen Hill Flight in Devizes
With the possibility of delays in completing the locks traders had been informed by the canal superintendent, John Thomas, that the canal would be open for business from the following Monday, December 31st.

On that day two boats passed through the Caen Hill Flight carrying coal but a third boat was stopped by the frosty conditions.

Canal Engineer, John Rennie
It had taken 16 years from the passing of the Enabling Act of Parliament to finally complete the through route, although sections of the navigation had been in use for some time. 

The waterway between Reading and Newbury had opened for navigation in 1723 and in 1727 a river link had been completed between Bristol and Bath. The report to shareholders in 1803 said that the canal was open from Bath to Foxhangers near Devizes with goods being taken on to the town on horse drawn wagons on an iron railway.

In 1810 the French Revolution had finished and the Napoleonic Wars were in progress. Britain had celebrated the success of the Battle of Trafalgar five years earlier, although there would be another five years to wait until the Battle of Waterloo.

The world had heard none of Chopin’s music nor Robert Schumann’s because both composers were born in 1810 — and there was still three years to wait for the publication of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, though Beethoven’s Fur Elise was composed in that year.

The British slave trade had been totally abolished only three years before, King George III was finally declared ‘mad’ in 1810 and gaslights had only recently been introduced to illuminate the streets of London.

The Wharf charges for Devizes issued on December 28th 1810
Businesses were prospering along the K&A, but still the working man didn’t have a vote and poverty was commonplace. The population along the more industrial stretches of the K&A took their part in national food riots.

The Factory Act that would ban the employment of children under the age of 10 was still 70 years away and it was common for young children to have to work very long hours, sometimes doing extremely dangerous jobs in factories.

The opening of the K&A Canal was inexorably linked with the industrial revolution it fuelled — without one there could not have been the other.

The K&A brought the industrial revolution to the rural towns along its length where advantage was taken of the waterway access to the Somerset Coal Fields and many factories were being built to be powered by steam.

But the industrial revolution and mechanism had a huge impact on the lives of working people and discontent and direct action followed in its wake.

At Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge, in the heart of the west country woollen district, both men and women assembled to protest. Civil protest against the introduction of mechanisation into the workplace had already led to the hanging of Thomas Helliker from Trowbridge in 1803 — wrongly convicted for masterminding the burning down of a mill at Semington. 

The later Swing Riots and Chartist activity would erupt in towns and villages alongside the K&A. The canal clearly played its part as an artery of civil unrest. For the Canal's shareholders,  however, it brought prosperity until the coming of the railways undermined its profitability.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve River Avon rescue

A man was rescued from the River Avon in Bristol on Christmas Eve by Avon Fire and Rescue

Crews from Temple Back and Redcliffe were called to the River Avon between Clarence Road and York Road at about 7.30 pm yesterday where they used ropes to rescue a man who was then taken to hospital.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Drowned K&A boater named

The man who's body was found in the Kennet & Avon Canal at Caen Hill on the Devizes Flight on Monday afternoon was named today as Stuart Williams, 51.
The British Waterways moorings at the top of Caen Hill on the K&A Canal: Picture by Bob Naylor
Mr Williams had kept his narrowboat, Daylight Monarch, on the BW moorings at Caen Hill for the last 18 months.  It is believed he slipped into the ice covered canal while walking his dog and it was the confused dog pining on the moorings that alerted another boater who looked and spotted Mr Williams in the water.
Police say there are no suspicious circumstances and the Coroner has been informed.

KA Boaters' update: Friday December 24, 2010

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2010

The frozen state of the canal is likely to make this notice redundant — but when the canal thaws this is the way it should be on the K&A Canal
Caen Hill Christmas Opening Times
In mid-November Christmas opening times for Caen Hill were announced but it now looks increasingly unlikely that these will have any effect on boat movements.  

The original published times had the Caen Hill Flight closed on December 28th but Waterway Manager Mark Stephens agreed to the flight being open for anyone who wants to go up or down the flight on that day — the 200th anniversary of the day when the flight was opened completing the link from Bristol through to Reading. 

However, there was no ceremony when the flight opened 200 years ago — it is said that the shareholders just had a meeting and a drink in the Bear Hotel in Devizes Market Place and unless there is a dramatic change in the weather it is likely that members of Devizes Boat Club who had planned to take boats down the flight will probably do the same. 

Caen Hill Flight (Locks 28-44)
Saturday 25 December 2010 - Monday 3 January 2011
20th to 24th December - Open as normal (8am to 4pm)
25th to 28th December - Closed: Now open on the 28th by request
29th to 31st December - Open as normal (8am to 4pm)
1st January to 3rd January - Closed.
4th January to 9th January Open as normal (8am to 4pm)

Stoppages:
Wootton Rivers (Locks 51-54): Stoppage extended
closed until Friday 7 January 2011 
Because of sub-zero temperatures tents have been built over the locks so that they can be heated to help the lime morter to set.

Dunmill Lock (75): Delayed by one week 
Monday 17 January 2011 - Friday 11 March 2011
The start of this stoppage has been delayed a week to allow the completion of the dredging works and the transit of delayed craft from the Wootton Rivers 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, 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 30th November 2010 to Friday 11th 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.

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.
Enquiries to BW Devizes Office:  01380 722859

The KAcanalTIMES website is online at: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk
To subscribe to the email posting service send an email with 'join' in the subject line to: news@kacanaltimes.co.uk   (to cancel send an email to the same address with 'cancel' in the subject line).

Reed planting lesson on the K&A

Picture by Bob Naylor
Bankside improvements on the Kennet & Avon Canal will involve more volunteer work in the future and British Waterways plan to give volunteers the chance to get experience of reed planting in the New Year at Freeman's Marsh, Hungerford when they begin replanting the repaired canal bank.

Derek Hunt, who organises monthly work parties at Bradford on Avon Wharf, is looking for volunteers to go with him to help plant reeds and and learn skills that can be used elsewhere on the canal.

The work will involve:
  • Preparing the ground for planting
  • Selecting suitable plants to comply with a planting schedule
  • Planting a range of marginal plant species
  • Placement of brambles and thorn cuttings over the plants to protect them from grazing waterfowl 

Weather permitting the trip will be on Friday 7 January from 10am until mid-day.

BW will provide gloves for the planting and you will need to wear wellingtons or stout footwear — outer clothing is likely to get muddy.


It is planned to car-share to get to Hungerford.

If you are interested contact Derrick by email at: derrickjohnhunt@btinternet.com or Tel: 01225 863066

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Visitor parking boost for K&A Canal Pumping Station

The water powered Claverton Pumping Station on the 
Kennet & Avon Canal. Picture by Bob Naylor
The historic, water powered, pumping station at Claverton on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath will soon be able to welcome many more visitors thanks to a deal struck between the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, who run the pumping station under a lease agreement with British Waterways, local landowner, Digger Smith and Bathampton Angling Association.

Digger Smith of Watership Farm has sold land next to the railway line near to the Pumping Station allowing a new car park to be built. Anglers and visitors to the pumping station will no longer have to struggle to find parking space in the very narrow Ferry Lane.

It has taken almost four years to finalise the deal — getting planning permission from Bath and North East Somerset Council for a for a car park took two years — and then it took another two years for the legal process to buy the land.

The cost of the land was met jointly by the K&A Canal Trust and Bathampton Anging Association and work will begin in the new year under the project management of John Webb.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Man's body pulled from the K&A Canal in Devizes

Early this afternoon emergency services were called to the pound below Prison Bridge in the Devizes Flight and a man's body was recovered from the water by a Wiltshire Fire Brigade water rescue team from Chippenham.



The man in his 50s is believed to have been living on a boat in the area.  His name will be released once his next of kin have been informed.

The man had been in the water for some time and was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police say that there are no suspicious circumstances 

Historic river bridge repair not in Bath's Western Riverside agreement

Victoria Bridge has been the centre piece of promotional material for Bath's Western Riverside development but it will not be repaired as part of the agreement for the first phase of the project that was signed between Crest Nicholson and Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) last week.
  
Promotional picture for Bath's Western Riverside Development with Victoria Bridge centre-stage

The agreement will allow work to start in the New Year on the first 299 homes of the development that will eventually have 2,200 homes on the site between Victoria Bridge and Windsor Bridge — but a Council spokesman said, "The bridge is a side issue and will have to be repaired separately."

The northern entrance to Victoria Bridge - sealed off
Picture by Bob Naylor
Victoria Bridge was closed in August for safety reasons and after an assessment by B&NES' structural engineers, the Council decided to re-open the bridge at a reduced width in October — only to close it again a few days later without giving any explanation except to say that in response to new information it was decided that the bridge should be closed to all users in the interests of public safety.  

Victoria Bridge, a Grade 2 listed structure, is an example of the work of Bath engineer James Dredge. It was built in 1836 and like the many other bridges he designed that are still in use all over the world it is a radical alternative to the established suspension bridge design.

Victoria Bridge — with the shuttering in place to restrict the width of the bridge: Picture by Bob Naylor

For more information about the work of James Dredge go to: Derrick Hunt's-James Dredge website 

Another, smaller scale, example of James Dredge's work can be seen spanning the Kennet & Avon Canal at Wilcot near Pewsey where one of his footbridges links parts of the Stowell Park Estate. 

Defra cut BW funding by £9.8m

British Waterways grant from Defra next year will be reduced to £41.5m. This is a reduction of £9.8m (or 19%) from the 2010/11 grant of £51.3m.  Government funding is approximately half of the spending on the waterways so BW's available funds will be reduced by about 12% in 2011/12. 

This is the last annual grant to British Waterways in England and Wales. A longer term contract is expected to be in place in April 2012 when BW's canals, rivers and docks are expected to be transferred into a new charity.

Defra also announced that funding from 2012/13 to 2014/15 will be £39m a year and that funding will not fall below that level before 2022/23. 

BW Chairman, Tony Hales
British Waterways’ chairman, Tony Hales, said, “In the current climate it would be unrealistic to expect British Waterways to be exempt from cuts in public spending and we will have to make difficult decisions to ensure the continued maintenance of the historic canals and rivers in our care.  

"The Government’s commitment to the first ever long-term public funding settlement for the waterways is, however, a good step forward and I have been heartened by ministers' continued commitment to this ‘Big Society’ flagship." He concluded, "The challenge now is to develop a funding plan which gives confidence to the incoming trustees of the new charity and retains the support of waterway stakeholders."

Policeman saves man from dock on Bristol's Black Friday

A dramatic night-time rescue in Bristol Harbour was one of the hundreds of incidents recorded on 'Twitter' on Friday night on what Police call Bristol's Black Friday.  
St Augustine's Reach in Bristol Harbour: Picture by Bob Naylor
Police were called to St Augustine's Reach in Bristol City Centre where a man was threatening to jump into the dock. When the emergency services arrived the man was already in the water and a policeman, who has not been named, jumped into the water to rescue him. 
They were both taken to hospital and the policeman later went back on duty.
Avon and Somerset Police describe it as their busiest evening of the year because of the large number of pre-Christmas parties. This year they decided to use 'Twitter' to keep the public informed of the evening's events.


Below is how this event unfolded live on Friday night.


ASPolice 
#xmasudeserve Live tweets from the control room about to start
7:59 PM Dec 17th via web
#xmasudeserve Reports of male threatening to jump into the river in Bristol. Ambulance and fire called. Man in water swimming.

#xmasudeserve re: Man in river in Bristol incident: Officer being taken to hospital due to effects of jumping into cold river.

ASPolice  
#xmasudeserve Update on officer from river rescue: body temp dropped to 29 / put in heated tent / now ok - been discharged - on duty later






 tel: 01380 840584 
 Mob: 07788134901 
 Email: editor@kacanaltimes.co.uk 

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Swindon canal branch in water

 Swindon now has a newly created stretch of canal in water at Whichelstowe the new expansion area in what is known as the town's 'front garden'.

The new stretch of Canal and bridge at Whichelstowe in Swindon beside the M4 Motorway. Picture by Bob Naylor








The Wilts & Berks Canal in Swindon is currently navigable from
King's Hill to the new Swindon expansion area of Whichelstowe and this will
soon link up with a brand new stretch of canal increasing the length of
canal in water to more than 4km.

Looking back towards the the Wilts & Berks Canal from 
the new Whichelstowe branch. Picture by Bob Naylor
The new stretch of canal runs alongside the M4 motorway towards the former Wilts & Berks Canal water supply reservoir at Coate Water on the eastern side of the town.

The Whichelstowe Arm includes a lock that will be the first operational lock of the Wilts & Berks Canal restoration.


Links to other W&B Canal Trust stories on this site:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Children brave the mud to celebrate the K&A's 200th birthday

Planting an avenue of trees by local schoolchildren on the road leading to the Caen Hill Flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes had to be postponed last week because of snow.  
Devizes St Joseph's School pupils with BW regeneration Manager, Sarah Brice, plant trees at Caen Hill. Picture by Bob Naylor
A group of children from St Joseph's School in Devizes braved the mud yesterday (Thursday) and with the help of British Waterways Regeneration Managers Sarah Brice and Elaine Stanley they planted the last section of trees to complete the avenue of 27 oak trees.
Previous stories:


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Thursday, December 09, 2010

New section of Swindon Canal in water

A brand new section of the Wilts & Berks Canal at the new Swindon expansion area of Wichelstowe is now in water — go to: Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership to see a picture.

Policemen honoured for K&A Canal rescue

The bravery of two Wiltshire Policemen who jumped into the cold dark waters of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes to rescue a woman was recognised when they received commendations from the Chief Constable Brian Moore at a ceremony at police headquarters in Devizes on Tuesday night.

Chief Constable Brian Moore, centre, with PC Mark Green, left and PC Andrew List. 
Picture by Wiltshire Constabulary 

PCs Mark Green and Andrew List were called to the canal at Coate Road Bridge in Devizes shortly before midnight on Saturday July 17th and found a woman standing at the water's edge threatening to commit suicide by thowing herself into the canal.

They tried to dissuade her but the negotiations failed and she threw herself into the murky waters of the canal.

The area was extremely dark, lined with trees and with no artificial lighting. PCs List and Green had no idea how deep the water was but without hesitation they plunged into the canal to save the woman.  They ended up in chest high, water and although they could stand up, the bottom of the canal was covered in thick, soft mud which made it extremely difficult to find their footing and walk. 
They managed to pull the woman to the side of the canal and drag her out, a task made harder by the conditions at the scene and the build of the woman.
The woman suffered no ill effects from the incident and she was detained under the Mental Health Act.
Chief Constable Brian Moore praised them for their quick thinking and bravery and said, "It is clear that without the actions of the officers, the lady could have caused serious harm to herself."



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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

General Manager latest departure from K&A Canal Trust


The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, which over the last year has been making drastic changes to the way it is run following years of heavy financial losses, has announced further changes as it tries to address its financial and managerial problems.

K&A Canal Trust General
Manager, Mike Rodd.
Picture by Bob Naylor
General Manager to go
Having put its General Manager, Mike Rodd, onto part-time working recently, the Trust has now announced that he will be leaving the job at the end of the year. The Trust received a £75,000 grant from Kennet District Council to part-fund the post for three years on the basis of an application that said that the post would be self-financing through the General Manager's fundraising activities within the period of the grant. 
   To cease the appointment only two years into the three-year life of the grant could leave a question mark over any public money that may have been paid in advance to finance the post.

Healer appointed to minister to ailing Trust finances
Complementary health practitioner and qualified accountant, Suzanne Gaia has been appointed Treasurer. Her website says that she practices Reike, Angel and Ascension and it explains: "Angels are messengers from the Divine Source. They are very high frequency beings with no will of their own, they only carry out the will of the Divine Source." And: "Ascension means raising our level of consciousness up into a higher dimension. Our bodies are made up of millions of cells which are constantly vibrating. This is our level of vibration, otherwise known as our vibrational frequency. The more 'spiritual' we are, the faster our bodies vibrate, which increases our level of vibration. This means that our light body increases. The faster our body cells are vibrating, the higher the levels of light are in those cells."
   When Suzanne Gaia married Doug Stanley last year they had a civil wedding in Marlborough at which they both wore traditional Indian costume and they then held their reception and spent their honeymoon in a tepee at the Barge Inn beside the K&A Canal at Honeystreet.

Neil Lethby
Picture by Bob Naylor
Stand-in Chairman
Following the departure of Trust Chairman David Rees after less than nine months in the role, the Trust's treasurer, Neil Lethby, who had already given notice of standing down as treasurer, agreed to fill the post of Chairman until the end of the year.  Thanking Neil for his time as Treasurer a Trust spokesman said: "The Trust is extremely grateful for Neil’s nearly four years in this role, taking the Trust through some very difficult times."

David Inight
Picture by Bob Naylor


New Vice Chairman/Acting Chairman 
David Inight has been made Vice Chair of Trust Council, with special responsibility for developing relationships with the Branches, and for heading up a volunteering programme. David is also Chair of the Bradford on Avon Branch, Director of Boats and a Director of the KACT Enterprise Board. He will take over as acting chairman when Neil Lethby stands down at the end of the year.

Trustee comings and goings
At a recent Canal User’s Forum it was said that Mike Rodd had chaired the pilot K&A Local Partnership Board meeting. A Trust statement says: "The Council’s intention is to co-opt Mike as a Trustee as soon as possible after he steps down as General Manager, so that he can continue to play a major role in the Trust and maintain the many fruitful relationships that he has developed over the past two years, both within the Trust and with external agencies."
     The Trust has announced that Pauline King and Suzanne Gaia have been co-opted to the Trust Council but Harry Willis the Chairman of the Crofton Branch who was elected as a Trustee at the AGM in June is not listed as a Trustee in the Trust's magazine, The Butty.

Recruitment of new Trustees with 'specific skills'
The Trust says it has a current need for on-going recruitment of additional Trustees to bring specific skills to the management of the Trust. If you are interested, or want any further explanation about these recent changes, please contact Mike Rodd either by e-mail at: gm@katrust.org.uk  or by phone on 01380 721279.


Recent K&A Canal Trust stories: