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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cobbler's Lock Cottage beside the K&A Canal for sale again

British Waterways put the lock-side cottage on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Hungerford up for sale with property auctioneers, Savills as an investment property with sitting tenants in October last year.
At that time it had a guide price of price of £110,000 and it was bought before the auction by international property investment company, Regis Group, who following the death of the tenant have put it up for sale again — this time with vacant possession and a guide price of £145,000 plus.

The cottage is in an idylic setting on the edge Hungerford Marsh Nature Reserve and beside the K&A Canal with the River Dunn behind it.
The freehold two bedroomed, two storey cottage described as 'in need of modernisation and refurbishment'  comes with 0.16 Acres of land.
To view the cottage contact  Savills on 0207 824 9091
Full details go to Lot 36 at: Cobblers Lock Cottage 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Britain does best?

Picture by Bob Naylor©
This sign near Devizes sums up what a local farmer thinks we Brits are good at — with no international competition for 'British' bacon production it looks like we are left with only one area of excellence.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Comedian Jo Brand will take part in this year's Crafty Craft race on the K&A Canal

Jo Brand
Picture by Andrew Moreton
Jo Brand will be taking part in the Crafty Craft race from Hungerford to Newbury on Monday 2nd May as part of a series about Britain's obsession with water called 'Jo's Big Splash' that is due to be broadcast on TV Channel 'Dave' in September.

Jo insists that she won't be taking part saying, "One thing I won’t be doing is heading off on some stupid challenge that could be more accurately titled ‘How Long Before Jo Drowns?’” 

But Marcus Franks, one of the event organisers, is sure she will set off from Hungerford as part of an all women crew … he is just not sure how far she will go.
This is the 37th running of the race and the paddlers will set off from below Dunmill Lock, Hungerford at 8.30am heading for  Victoria Park in Newbury — with teams arriving from about 10.30am.

Teams from Newbury Scouts and Boys Brigade battle 
it out as they head for the finish line.

Picture by Bob Naylor©
The 8-mile event, with 10 locks to carry the craft round, often has more than 50 entries. The record for the fastest time is held by Hungerford Mongrels who completed the course in one hour and 40 minutes in 2009.

This year the event takes the Royal Wedding as its theme and the mottley assortment of vessels will have to be  'Right Royal Crafty Craft’. 
There will be festivities in Victoria Park on the day, with a fun fair and live music.
This year the proceeds go Newbury and District Scouts and Guides. 

Find out more about the event at: www.craftycraft.com

Bats about canals

British Waterways want you to take part in its annual Wildlife Survey and help to put creatures living in and along canals and rivers on the map. This year’s survey highlights bats,Britain’s only flying mammal, whose numbers have declined dramatically since the 1950s.
Brown Long Eared Bat:
Picture by the Hugh Clark/
Bat Conservation Trust©

Changes in farming practice have fragmented wildlife-rich areas, such old pasture, woodland, heritage parkland and reservoirs  and so canals and hedgerows play a vital part in Britain’s natural world by acting as 'green corridors'.  Sheltered passages through open farmland that allow bats and many other species to travel safely between feeding grounds.

These routes between habitats are especially important for our 17 species of native bat because they rely on the dark, insect-rich environment that canals provide at night, as well as ideal structures, such as bridges and aqueducts, to roost and breed in.

British Waterways’ national ecology manager, Dr Mark Robinson, said, "Intensive use of land for residential, commercial, transport or agricultural purposes has meant that vast areas of untouched habitat, rich in thousands of different species of plant and animal have been reduced in size and isolated from one another. The passage between these ‘islands’ has become an exhausting journey for the animals that have to cross them and makes them an easier target for predators
"For bats, canals are like a cross between the M1 and Tesco’s

"Our 200-year old bridges, aqueducts and tunnels provide ideal nooks and crannies for bats to roost in, while the high water quality and plant-rich channels ensure plenty of insects, which are bats only source of food.

“Modern buildings and landscaped parks tend to be highly maintained which, while great for us, is not so good for bats as they rely on undisturbed, safe places to roost, such as old tree trunks or the eaves of roofs. Canals offer the best of both worlds: welcoming millions of commuters and leisure seekers during the day, but remaining a refuge for these fascinating, yet mysterious and elusive mammals at night.”

To take part in the Wildlife Survey, or find out about guided bat walks or download a guide to waterways wildlife visit www.waterscape.com

Common Pipistrelle bat: picture by the Hugh Clark/Bat Conservation Trust©

To learn more about bats visit:  www.bats.org.uk 
or call the National Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228 
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats and their habitats in the UK. Its vision is a world where bats and people live in harmony. BCT runs the National Bat Helpline, providing advice on any bat-related issues — and it also keeps track of bat populations through the National Bat Monitoring Programme. BCT also runs training courses for professionals and volunteers to promote good practice. It is supported by more than 5,000 members. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

K&A navigation notice: Monkey Marsh Swing Bridge (44)

Monkey Marsh Swing Bridge (44) on the Kennet & Avon Canal has been vandalised and is now fixed open. It is closed to pedestrian traffic until further notice.

Boat traffic is not affected.

For further information phone: 01380 722859

Bradford on Avon volunteer work party

There will be a work party at Bradford on Avon tomorrow  (Thursday 21st April).
Meet Derrick Hunt at the stables by the tea room on Bradford on Avon Wharf at 9.30am. He says that the tea room is now on its summer opening schedule so there will be tea and coffee.
Derek would also like to have volunteers shirt sizes for the green polo shirts that are being sponsored by the Kingston Mills developer. They must be ordered soon so if you can't be there tomorrow contact him on: 01225 863066 

Wyn Gould dies on the K&A Canal's 'Cruiseway Day'

Wyn Gould: Picture by Bob Naylor©
Wyn Gould, who stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband John in their tireless battle to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal to a fully navigable waterway, died on Monday 18th April at the age of 95 — on the very day that the elusive 'Cruiseway' status that they had spent most of their married life fighting for was finally granted to the canal.

Wyn had been living at the home of one of her daughters near Marlborough for the last 18 months and it was there that she died peacefully on Monday in the company of her two daughters Jenny and Jane.

The canal became Wyn and John's whole life and she blamed herself for fanning the flame of a passion that was clearly in him. "Tom Rolt's book Narrowboat had just been published",  she said, "and I bought it for him for Christmas and sent it to him in India where he was serving in the Army. That fired the enthusiasm that had been dormant in his mind to come back to England and see what could be done to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal."

When John returned from India and left the Army he needed to find work and he began working for the British Transport Commission on the canal. It wasn't long before John decided to buy a pair of working boats and after a search he finally bought the motorboat, Colin and the Butty, Iris.
John and Wyn Gould arrive at Newbury Lock with Colin and Iris. Wynne is at the tiller of Iris with her oldest daughter Jane sat on the hatch in front of her.

They carried topsoil from New Mill in Newbury to nurseries at Sunbury-on-Thames but that stopped when British Waterways Board closed the canal.  

They then got some dinghies and skiffs and hired them out at Victoria Park in Newbury.  Wyn said, "We had five children and we literally dragged them up at Victoria Park where we hired out the boats".

They started doing boat trips and by getting schools interested they were able to get very busy with that but with the canal closed the time came for the working boats Colin and Iris to go. Iris was hauled out onto Newbury Wharf and burned. Then, Wynne explained, "John took Colin near to Bulls Lock where he and Bill Fisher dug out a pit for her and that is where she sank and disappeared — it was all very sad".

They later began the John Gould hire-boat business at Newbury Lock where they had cruisers and houseboats and it became very busy and popular.  Wyn said, "This meant that I not only brought up the children, but I hired out the boats and turned the houseboats round every weekend — changing all the bedding and cleaning them out ready for the next day."

And while Wyn was doing all this John was busy campaigning to save the canal. There were countless meetings to increase support for the canal but, said Wynne, "In the early days we never thought it would come off, not at this end of the canal anyway so it was really special that we lived long enough to see the canal opened. But not getting Cruiseway Status was so irritating."

"It was really special that we lived long enough to see the canal re-opened but not getting Cruiseway status was so irritating"
Wyn related that when they met the Queen at the opening ceremony in Devizes the Queen said, "Well John Gould I have heard a lot about you and I'm really glad to meet you at last, perhaps we shan't see your picture in the papers so much now."

Wyn said that their lives were quite different to other people's, "We ate when we had time and the children spent half their time down at Victoria Park."

The hire boats and trip trips were completely dependent on the weather and as the children got older they needed more money, "But", said Wyn, "money was the last thing John thought about — he would just say — Oh! we will get by, we can always eat the furniture". To help make ends meet Wynne took a job in a launderette and each day when she finished there she went to Victoria Park to hire out the boats and later go home and get a meal and do the washing. As she said, "We had no washing machine then, it was a very intense time and we just lived life from day to day and week to week".
"People who come through this canal now have no idea what it was like when we started"
The canal in the Newbury area was not getting any attention so they organised work parties to  repair the lock chambers and lock gates.  She said,  "It was unbelievable what we had to do and people who come through this canal now have no idea what it was like when we started.

"Sometimes you could only go a few yards on a boat with a propeller so we had 'paddle unit' boats that went flopping through the water and that got us along more quickly and more safely".
"Every time we went out it wasn't a trip, it was an adventure."
"Because the canal was in such a bad state the people we took out had to realise that we might not get back at the scheduled time — and we often didn't."

Newbury Mayor, Councillor Gillian Darrant, and Wyn Gould 
opened the 2006 Newbury Waterways Festival.
Picture by Bob Naylor©
Wynne always kept in touch with the local Canal Trust Branch in Newbury and she supported the working boat rallies and later the Newbury Waterways Festival. In 2006 she and Newbury Mayor, Councillor Gillian Darrant, opened the festival at Victoria Park where she had hired out rowing boats for so many years.
Bob Naylor©

Wyn's funeral takes place at St Nicolas Church in Newbury on Thursday 28th April at 2.30pm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bath Flight ‘Open Air Museum’ workshop tonight

Monday 18th April at 7pm in the Canal Centre on Devizes Wharf.
British Waterways has been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve the historic fabric of the flight and explain how the canal influenced the social, industrial and cultural history of Bath and tonight (Monday 18th) Sarah Brice of BW will lead a workshop about the project.

There will be an update on the restoration of the Bath Bridges and chimney,  a canal quiz, an interpretation workshop and the chance to share stories about the canal in Bath.

Cruiseway day for the K&A

Fifty five years after the attempts by government to close the Kennet & Avon Canal the aim of the the canal's supporters has been achieved. Today (18th April 2011) the canal's future is assured now that it has been officially re-classified as a 'cruising' waterway throughout its entire 87 miles from Hanham Lock on the River Avon near Bristol in the west to Reading and the junction of the River Kennet with the River Thames in the east.
The friends of the K&A Canal have always made their feelings known — here they are demonstrating in 2007 against BW funding cuts by blockading the canal at Devizes Wharf
The defiance, the civil disobedience, the campaigning, fundraising and hands-on restoration of the countless supporters of the Kennet & Avon Canal leaves a legacy that will benefit future generations.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Devizes Flight will now be open on 'Cruiseway' day

AP Herbert Lock (46) Devizes
will be open for 'Cruiseway Day"

All the locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal should now be useable on Monday 18th of April — the day that whole length of the canal will be classified as a 'Cruising Waterway'.

The work to replace the bottom gates and cill on AP Herbert Lock (46) on the Devizes Flight will now be completed on Sunday 17th April and the lock will be in operation from 8am on the 18th April.

K&A Canal navigation notes: Friday 15th April 2011

AP Herbert Lock (46), Devizes: 
stoppage extended

AP Herbert Lock (46) Devizes 
The emergency stoppage for replacement of the wooden bottom gates has been extended. The lock is now due to re-open at 8am on Friday 22nd April.

Reading: County Lock (106)
The floating pontoon at the entrance to County Lock is in a very unsafe state — BW have taken steps to prevent its use. Do not attempt to use it.

Crofton Flight (lock 60)
One of the ground paddles is out of action — as it has been for a considerable time.

Great Bedwyn Church Lock (64)
One of the ground paddles is still out of action - as it has been for 3 years.

Crofton waterpoint
Still out of action because of contamination. The nearest water is at Great Bedwyn Wharf or below Wootton Rivers Lock (51)

Rubbish disposal
There is no longer a waste disposal bin near the sanitary station at Hungerford  because of access problems for the Biffa 'one man' waste carts. The nearest rubbish disposal bins to Hungerford are at Kintbury and Great Bedwyn Wharf.
To report fly-tipping and any other problems with the waste disposal sites contact BW in Devizes: 01380 722859 or by email to: enquiries.kennetavon@britishwaterways.co.uk

Pump outs
There are no reported problems with the BW pump outs on the canal.
Cards for BW pump-outs can be bought for £10 each from:
 • Aldermaston Wharf Canal Centre
 • Frouds Bridge Marina
 • Bev & Geoff's Pitstop, Newbury
 • The Dundas Arms Hotel, Kintbury
 • Tutti Pole Tea Room, Hungerford 
 • Great Bedwyn Post Office
 • The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf
 • The Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf
 • The Caen Hill Café, Devizes
 • Foxhanger Canal Holidays, Devizes 
 • The Boatyard, Trowbridge
 • ABC Leisure Group, Trowbridge
 • Sally Boats, Bradford On Avon
 • The Bath and Dundas Canal Co., Somerset Coal Canal
 • Bath Narrowboats
For contact details for these businesses go to: www.kacanaltimes.co.uk where they are listed under canal services.

Gibson Boat Services:
Summer opening times

Water watch
February was the mildest since 2002 and rainfall was below normal in the south of England. The reservoir holdings for the Kennet & Avon Canal at the end of January 2011 were 69.2% of capacity and in February that dropped to 68.8% but that rose to 82.6% of total capacity in March — which is slightly above the lowest recorded holding for March in 2006 when it was at  82%.
Water levels throughout the canal are reported to be good.

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)

K&A Canal Times caption competition

Pictures by Bob Naylor©

First picture
  • "Would you like to borrow my bowler hat?"             
  • "Forgive me I Should of gone to Specsavers"               
  • "Now That's what I call a windless"
Second picture
  • "I'll just wait 'til no one's watching and that pan is mine"             
  • "Does my belly look big in this pot"

Both pictures
'I've seen advertisements for 'bare boat' charters in yachting magazines and I wondered what they meant"

A copy of Narrowboat Dreams by Steve Haywood will go to the winning caption writer. The Editor’s decision is final.

Send your entries by 9am on 30th April 2011 to: editor@KAcanalTIMES.co.uk

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poo turned the lights on?

When people in north Lancashire flush the loo the lights glow a little bit brighter at the area's biggest sewage works at Stodday that treats sewage from the 100,000 people who live in Lancaster and Heysham. Engineers at the pant are using the 'poo power' to generate all the electricity that the treatment works needs - and any extra goes into the national grid.

Process controller Phil Smith
The power comes from a 500kW combined heat and power engine installed at the plant that runs on methane produced naturally as the sewage is broken down.
Site process controller, Phil Smith said, "We get 1,000 cubic metres of sludge a day into our works and that produces 40,000 cubic metres of gas a week which is enough fuel to make us self-sufficient and at the same time we're killing more nasty bugs than ever and meeting tough new regulations." 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Win tickets for Crick Boat Show

Crick Boat Show 2011 
Your chance to win a three-day family ticket to the country’s biggest inland waterways show

The Crick Boat Show 2011 is once again taking place at Crick Marina on the Grand Union Canal on the May late bank holiday weekend (28 - 30 May). The show is a great day out for all the family as well as everyone who loves boats.

There will be a huge range of exhibitors specialising in all things boat-related as well as food, crafts, leisure and arts. For the young (and the young at heart) there is an exhaustible list of activities including face painting, circus skills, traditional fairground with Punch and Judy show, arts and crafts, bouncy castle, pedal karting, bungee-trampolining and a giant spider mountain to be climbed and conquered with a giant slide down for those who make it to the top. Little ones will also love the daily appearances from a very special guest – Peppa Pig, who will be meeting children at various intervals during each show day. 

Adventurers can try walking on water (while staying dry) in water spheres or having a go at canoeing, or for the more leisurely there will be regular free boat trips. If that isn’t enough, there will also be live cookery demonstrations, a heritage marquee, real ale, wildlife features from The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB, live music (including BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Nominees James Fagen and Nancy Kerr, David Gibb and Soul Deep, an RnB/soul band who have supported the Brand New Heavies, Mica Paris and Third World). There is also a massive £6,000 worth of prizes to be won at the show so far, ranging from a short break holiday to batteries, and lots of things in between.

In anticipation of the show, Waterscape.com is giving away ten three-day family tickets worth £52 each (each ticket admits two adults, and two children). For a chance to win visitwww.waterscape.com/crick

To find out more or to book tickets, or a mooring or camping space, visit www.crickboatshow.com

BW announce moorings plan for Olympic Games

British Watersays have announced plans for booking moorings in London for the the Olympic Games.  An online booking system will begin on 19 April 2011 so that boaters can reserve a visitor mooring on London’s waterways during summer 2012. 

BW say that this follows research that shows there will be strong demand for mooring in London throughout the Olympic Games so with the expected increase in the number of visiting boats a dedicated mooring plan will be in place with moorings reserved for those who have booked them. 

There will be a ‘controlled zone’ for several weeks throughout the Olympic summer.  All boats that have a home mooring within the ‘controlled zone’ will be largely unaffected. Visiting boats, however, will only be able to enter with a confirmed booking of a visitor mooring (with BW, another operator or individual).

The pre-bookable BW visitor moorings will vary in price depending on location ands details will be published when the online booking system goes live on 19 April. BW say they will set the prices so that additional costs involved in accommodating the expected large increase in boat numbers are covered — any surplus, they say, will be re-invested in the historic waterway network. 

BW will appoint the Inland Waterways Association Festivals Team to manage the visitor moorings during summer 2012.

The ‘controlled zone’ will cover approximately 15-miles of London’s waterways, meaning that there remain nearly 85–miles of canal and river where moorings will be available as usual on a first-come first-served basis.

It is expected that, because of the BW's 'controlled zone', and the indications given by the security services about the restrictions to boat movement and mooring that may be implemented near the Olympic Park, visitor mooring rules on the remaining stretches of London’s waterways may be modified to help minimise the impact of these restrictions on local boaters.

BW say that by giving more than 12 months’ notice of the mooring arrangements for the summer of 2012 boaters will have plenty of time to plan their cruising routes and make their mooring arrangements for the Olympic summer in plenty of time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

K&A Canal Devizes Flight stoppage extended

One of the lock gates being removed from AP Herbert 
Lock (46) in Devizes lon Saturday. Picture by Bob Naylor
British Waterways staff worked over the weekend to remove the wooden bottom lock gates at AP Herbert Lock (46) just above the Caen Hill on the Devizes Flight and after removing the lock gates they  found the cill to be in very poor condition.  

This will have to be replaced so the stoppage has now been extended and the lock will re-open at 8am on Friday 22nd April.

Until then through passage on the Devizes Flight will not be possible.

If you need access to the moorings at the top of Caen Hill Flight contact BW Devizes office for more information. Tel: 01380 722859

Gibson's Boat Services on the K&A — summer opening times

Gibson's Boat Services
George and Shelagh Gibson are now operating their Summer opening times at Old Builders Wharf at Honeystreet on the Kennet & Avon Canal on the Long Pound between Wootten Rivers and Devizes. 

They are open 7 days a week from 9am to 6pm weekdays and Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Their services include: Deisel, Gas, pumpout & pottytip, Elsan chemicals, water, and solid fuels.   

They also have a few short-term bankside (non-towpath) summer moorings available between now and the end of September.

Contact them on: 01672 851232

For a comprehensive information about canal services go to: www.KAcanalTIMES.co.uk and follow the link to 'Canal Services'.

To update business information email: editor@KAcanalTIMES.co.uk

Friday, April 08, 2011

K&A Canal navigation notes: Friday 8th April 2011

AP Hebert Lock (46), Devizes
Devizes Flight is partially closed until April 14th
BW have issued a notice saying that the Caen Hill Flight is open again. Well that is true - the Caen Hill flight of locks is open — but through navigation of the Devizes Flight is not possible because of the emergency stoppage to replace the failed wooden bottom gates on AP Herbert Lock (46) which is expected to be finished on 14th April.

Reading: County Lock (106)
The floating pontoon at the entrance to County Lock is in a very unsafe state — BW have taken steps to prevent its use. Do not attempt to use it.

Crofton Flight (lock 60)
One of the ground paddles is still out of action.

Great Bedwyn Church Lock (64)
One of the ground paddles is still out of action - as it has been for 3 years.

Crofton waterpoint
Still out of action because of contamination. The nearest water is at Great Bedwyn Wharf or below Wootton Rivers Lock (51)

Great Bedwyn Wharf
A contractor has left a wide beam dumb barge on the waterpoint/pump out at Great Bedwyn Wharf — BW are aware.

Pump outs
There are no reported problems with the BW pump outs on the canal.

A dumb barge moored on the water point/pump out by 
Great Bedwyn bridge 
Cards for BW pump-outs can be bought for £10 each from:

Aldermaston Wharf Canal Centre
Frouds Bridge Marina
Bev & Geoff's Pitstop, Newbury
The Dundas Arms Hotel, Kintbury
Tutti Pole Tea Room, Hungerford 
Great Bedwyn Post Office
The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf
The Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf
The Caen Hill Café, Devizes
Foxhanger Canal Holidays, Devizes 
The Boatyard, Trowbridge
ABC Leisure Group, Trowbridge
Sally Boats, Bradford On Avon
The Bath and Dundas Canal Co., Somerset Coal Canal
Bath Narrowboats
For contact details for these businesses go to:  www.kacanaltimes.co.uk where they are listed under canal services.