History repeating itself?

Published: Friday, 27 October 2017

THROUGHOUT most of the period during which they existed, British Waterways progressively degenerated into what eventually became CaRT, and CaRT really aren't doing anything much other than elevate BW's short-sighted and bloody-minded incompetence to new levels, writes Tony Dunkley.

The problem that this leaves us all with is that our system of canals and river navigations won't survive many more years of the treatment they're now on the receiving end of from Parry and his cohorts.

No system available to us

Unless this process is halted in the very near future, there isn't going to be a useable/navigable, or linked up, system available to us. All that will be left will be isolated lengths of semi-derelict waterways, full of boats that don't, and can't, go anywhere on account of lengthy sections of the waterways being 'temporarily' closed due to navigational, operational, and maintenance problems.

This has, in fact, already begun with the Leicester Cut closed for an unspecified period between Kilby Bridge and Aylestone because CaRT can't keep enough water in it to make it passable, even by today's shallow drafted pleasure craft.

Public ownership

If anyone thinks that I'm spouting alarmist nonsense about this, I suggest that they swat up on a bit of late 1940's, early 1950's waterway history. The Kennet & Avon came under British Transport Commission control in 1947 when the majority of this country's waterways were taken into public ownership, ie. 'nationalised', by the post-war Labour government.

The waterways were then in a very similar condition to that into which all of the CaRT controlled canals have degenerated since they replaced BW in 2012, and following a series of 'temporary' closures due to operational problems and leakage the canal was closed to through navigation in 1951 after a breach near Avoncliff Aqueduct—all in all, a remarkably similar train of events to that which now appears to be manifesting itself on the Leicester Cut.

In CaRT's early days it was very fond of promoting a slogan about 'Keeping people and History connected'. It would seem that this objective has possibly become its one and only area of positive achievement. Not content with merely keeping us us all 'connected' with history, they are demonstrably doing their very best to repeat some of it for us!