What a mess

Published: Wednesday, 06 September 2017

A COMMENTATOR on a television program recently told us that this is the new golden age of the canals—to which no doubt Victor would remark 'what utter tosh!', writes Tom Crossley.

For at the moment we have four canals closed, and every week there are stoppage notices of closures through little more that lack of maintenance, with it seems a new policy introduced of not sending out stoppage notices of all the closures, that obviously give the impression that the waterways are not too bad—which of course they certainly are.

Three stoppages

Readers will know there were three stoppages over the week-end. The Leeds & Liverpool Canal sprung a 'leak' on Saturday, meaning that pounds are low with restriction to navigation now in force, and the 'leak' not stopped.

The Ashton Canal is completely closed from end to end as a cill has given way, but of course CaRT prefer to call it 'damage', refusing to admit it had been reported as badly leaking for a very long time, and again is nothing more than lack of maintenance.

We all know about the summit pound on the Kennet & Avon Canal and the inadequacy of the pumps to keep up the supply, constantly breaking down.

Not telling

Hence the new policy of CaRT not sending out stoppage notices every time a waterway is closed, with the Kennet & Avon an example, shown by JC Bond's email to us a short while ago:

'Thought you may be interested in the fact that the pump at Bradford on Avon lock on the K&A canal has failed yet again after a long winter stoppage to repair it. Boats from Semington to Bradford on Avon are sitting on silt. CaRT have failed to issue a stoppage notice guess they must be to embarrassed about it.' 

And just this morning another email: 'Just reporting no water above Kirklees lower lock on the Calder & Hebble navigation'. Regards Sue.  Making it the fourth navigation closed this week, and only Wednesday.

And no stoppage notice issued.

We are stopped

Regular readers may remember there was to be a stoppage on the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal on the 11th to 18th of September at Wetstone Lane Lock (that would have have stopped us for three days on our proposed cruise) that was put back to October, leaving, we thought, those dates free of stoppages.  But no, CaRT had transferred the Ervins Lock stoppage to those dates—but again with no stoppage notice!

It was only by searching the list of stoppages if was discovered, and Damian Kemp was good enough to let us have the original list and the new list of four stoppages on the Leicester Section, showing that we will be stuck—again!

So it seems that the huge amount of stoppages are not looking too good for the 'golden age of the canals' with some obviously omitted.

My companion on the boat, Jan, remarked that 'the golden age of the canals was ten years ago', something I heartedly agree with, for then, stoppages during the boating season were virtually unheard of and we could—and did—have cruise after cruise with no hold-up whatsoever.  What a difference now.