THE purpose of narrowboatworld, which came into being in 2000, is to promote the waterways, and at the same time keep you informed and up-to-date of the happenings of the boating world, in what we believe is the waterways' most accessible and easiest navigable website.
It is a purely non-commercial, with everyone connected with it, and particularly those listed on this page, giving their time and effort completely free, purely to keep you both entertained and informed.
It is accepted as the most frequently updated and the most visited waterways site on the web, visited perhaps as Brian Holmes once related because it is written by boaters, for boaters, about boating.
News items are generally kept on the site indefinitely, so that people can search and refer to them, but columns that are of a more personal nature are kept for just six months.
With its new Content Management System, introduced in early 2009, it is no longer updated only in the mornings, but whenever material is available, sometimes many times a day or some days not all. In its new format it allows reader involvement with a Forum in addition to sending in comments as emails using the link above. There is now the facility to upload your pictures into a Gallery, all giving more of a community spirit. We of course welcome any item that would be of interest to our readers.
There is strict privacy with no emails address given to a third party or published, except on the express wish of the writer.
We are particularly concerned about including links, with such to polls, Facebook, Twitter or other forums not allowed, as we are concerned that by including such a link, we are thus seen as supporting. This site is run as as a web newspaper, and not a vehicle to promote others.
The editor—Tom Crossley
TOM was an actual newspaper editor for 28 years, and though narrowboatworld is of course an internet site, his long newspaper association still shows, as does his grounding as a press photographer.
Boating experience is like that of many others, first hiring narrowboats, on canals from the Kennet & Avon to the Leeds & Liverpool, until 1996 when he built his own narrowboat from a windowless and door-less shell, which took a year to complete, and was then used extensively for cruising when finally finished.
In 2001 a sailaway was built by Simon Piper, which he also fitted-out, and which, also named Bounty like the former boat, is used for two main cruises a year, in May and September and the weekly days out, and is shared by Jan, known as She Who Must Be Obeyed!
To date they have cruised most of the waterways, and the major rivers of the Trent, Thames, Severn and Nene, all the time gaining the knowledge that is indispensable for narrowboatworld.
Their favourite waterway is the Huddersfield Narrow, that both see as real boating, but worry that it could be lost.
The designer—Jason Crossley
JASON first designed narrowboatworld—and chose its name—way back in 2000, with the whole remit to create a site, where content was king, and ease of navigation was all important.
In the early days, the site, like others was in Microsoft Windows,using Frontpage, but at the end of 2005, Jason decided that narrowboatworld was getting rather dated with too much colour and too cramped text, and as new methods of design and authoring were now available he redesigned it using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), but more importantly totally away from Microsoft to the new Amaya as the web authoring tool.
Then he decided we should leave Microsoft and Windows completely for the open source Linux operating system.This multitasking, multiuser operating system based on Unix, offers a security that Microsoft will never achieve.
Over the subsequent years there were one or two 'tweaks' as new methods came into being until March 2009, when Jason decided the site should have a complete change, and encompass Content Management System (CMS), the latest all-singing all-dancing web authoring tool, that enabled greater reader involvement and facilities, making narrowboatworld we believe to be technically amongst the the most advanced waterways website in existence.
Of course this meant a terrific amount of work for Jason and another massive learning curve for us, but eventually it came together, and thanks indeed to Jason for his unfailing endeavours in getting it all together to be the attraction that it is today.
Ted Sedman—Proof reader
TED first started with narrowboatworld in 2004, advising us of typographical mistakes, and perhaps was surprised that instead of taking umbrage, we actually thanked him for his effort. Since which time he realised that his help was appreciated, and so took it on himself to become our official proof reader, spending time most days going through the new items and pointing out any mistakes that get through. With the new format he has been given Editor permission, and so makes corrections direct on the site.
"My introduction to canals was in 1966 when my brother-in-law-to-be hired a Maid Line cruiser from Reading on the Thames to Brinklow on the North Oxford. Seven young men in a hire boat should not have been allowed, but we had a wonderful time going from pub to pub." Tells Ted.
"After I was married we hired boats several times and in 1974 we bought our first narrowboat which we moored near Reading on the short length of the Kennet and Avon that was then navigable. In the 80's our second boat was kept on the Thames at Pangbourne, and in this we came South to Godalming, and later went North as far as Ripon, or at least as close as we could get with the Ripon Canal only partly restored.
"In the 90's our boating decreased as a result of my acquisition of a Penny-Farthing bicycle. So the boat was sold, but it was always the intention to get another when I retired, and recently we have been fitting out a steam narrowboat. It is now on the Basingstoke Canal, near to where we now live."
The picture is Ted winning the 'Fu Manchu' class at the World Beard and Moustache Championships!
Principal reporter—Alan Tilbury
ALAN has been interested in canals for over 60 years. As a child he spent many hours watching working boats negotiate the Three Locks at Soulbury having been evacuated to his uncle's farm there during the war. It wasn't until 1980 that he first took a holiday on a canal boat although he never missed a chance to visit a canal during the preceding years.
Since that first holiday Alan has travelled most of the canal system mainly on hire boats. Living in East Kent he couldn't be much further from the main canal system so owning a boat was never a viable option.
Alan started submitting snippets of news soon after narrowboatworld went on line, he initially became known as the body man as he frequently seemed to find news of people meeting an unpleasant end in the waterways. Since retiring and having more free time to research canal associated news from various sources he is now our main contributor and principal reporter.
He enjoys walking canal towpaths with his camera and has submitted several articles that we put under the heading of 'A Walk on the Wild Side. He also takes to the water with us on Bounty.
Alan supplies most of the material contained in the Latest News.
Political journalist—Allan Richards
ALLAN'S purpose in narrowboatworld seems to be creating a balance between the favourable 'spin' created by British Waterways and reality. His articles are thoroughly researched, and give the actual picture of the state of the waterways and finances, often to the distress of authority.
He started boating way back in 1960 aged 12. Canoeing on the Lee (particularly Dobbs Weir) and Thames with the scouts, and GP14 dingies at school.
In 1970, after several hire trips on the broads and canals, he took the plunge with a 13' 6" (grp hull with marine ply superstructure) cruiser with a seagull outboard, trailed all round the country, and boating ever since.
Hiring, shared ownership for ten years and now, having retired, sole ownership of a narrowboat usually cruising with his wife and son (who has Downs Syndrome). Having worked for OwnerShips in the past as a local manager, he has some experience of the commercial side of inland waterways. He is also a volunteer helmsman for the Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs with a special interest in working with disadvantaged children, particularly those with learning difficulties.
Allan tells us that unlike some boat owners, he admits to being a keen towpath user, particularly for dog walking and cycling with his son. He even fishes.
Next year he will have clocked up 50 years of boating, so can obviously write on the waterways with authority.
Jan—She Who Must Be Obeyed
JAN'S efforts appear from time to time, usually as features depicting an element of a cruise. As an highly qualified freelance riding instructor she is very used to giving orders, which has earned her the title of She Who Must Be Obeyed!
She shows this when she meets hirers such as Canaltime crews who are obviously in need of instruction, then she always asks if they would like some help, and if so, certainly gives it, brooking no objections!
Her boating is as the other half of the crew of Bounty, and previous to this as a hirer. She is a competent helmsman, and insists upon turn and turn alike with steering the boat and working the locks.
In the picture Jan is on Bounty in Birmingham, just up from Gas Street Basin, demanding that she be taken to the local Chinese restaurant to have a crispy duck
WITH us since day one, and in fact way back from the old newspaper days, Victor is one of the old style journalists, yet brings a breath of fresh air to the writing of the waterways, really telling it like it is, to the consternation of many, which is now being copied—though obviously not so well—by others!
His boating? Not a boater for so long as most of the other columnists, but from the early nineties, after an impromptu three days on a hire boat from Grebe Canal Cruises on the Grand Union, and being hooked. He has now cruised most of the system.
The picture shows Victor on his Bermudian mode of transport riding down Front Street in Hamilton, an island he often retires to, usually whilst we suffer our winter cold.
David Hymers—Idle Thoughts
DAVID'S contributions are very much of the waterways, and entertains us about his many and varied experiences, and tells us:
"I first became interested in the canals as a result of a summer job in 1970, when I was supervising a user survey being done for British Waterways in the Braunston/Buckby/Napton areas. I lived in a caravan at Buckby Top for a couple of months, and learnt how to work locks acting as unofficial lock keeper at Watford.
"Once I started teaching I organised twice yearly school trips, which usually had ridiculous schedules that these days I would not contemplate—the Avon Ring in a week for example. But it kept the kids busy, which was the main point—some of them are still boating.
"We usually organised an adult trip over Christmas/New Year, back when you could find hire boats at that time of year. These usually involved a lot of night cruising, getting iced up (once for three months—the boat, not us) and so on. It was on one of these that we went through Dudley Tunnel, just getting under the low bit and then getting stuck in the exit.
"I first bought a share in a boat (with some friends) in 1988—it was one of Gordon’s hire boats from Napton. We replaced that in 1997 with a second-hand Mike Heywood boat and sold that in 2005. We then ordered a new boat fitted out by Napton Narrowboats on a Colecraft hull to our own design, which largely replicated the successful layout of the previous boat. So far we have been very pleased with it.
"It is my slightly arrogant boast that I have cruised every part of the connected system, except the Lancaster (not connected for long enough), the Basingstoke (always shut for low water whenever we get there), the Leeds & Liverpool beyond Aintree (never got round to it and now waiting for the extension) and the Yorkshire Ouse (frustrated by 2007 floods)."
Richard Swan—on Boating
RICHARD has had a wealth of experience in writing for and organising canal society publications, as well as official positions.
Of his boating experiences, Richard tells us:
"1976 was the year that my 'hands on' boating experience started when, in a weak moment, I took my eldest two sons for a week on a hire boat. We hired from Gordon’s Cruisers at Napton and cruised from Napton down the Grand Union to somewhere south of Blisworth. This had us hooked and from then on we took annual hire cruises on various canals, the most memorable being a very wet Easter on the Macclesfield. In 1991.
"We went to look at a house by the locks at Whilton. We arrived to view on a May Bank Holiday and found that the garden was invaded by customers of the next door pub so, having made an abbreviated inspection, we looked around for something else to occupy the rest of the day. By chance it was Braunston Boat Show weekend which we visited and came away with an order for a Colecraft which we bought instead of the house! This was completed early in 1992 and we operated out of Braunston until the summer of 1997 when I retired and we moved to Staffordshire to live beside the Shroppie."
The picture is of Richard ascending the rather leaking Anderton Boat Lift.
Orph Mable—Another View
On completion of 24 years military service in 1992 Orph with wife Jan, purchased a 57ft narrowboat after a life-changing holiday on the Mon & Brec. This reliable craft became the second home for most free weekends and all holidays for the next 12 years.
During that time most canals and navigable rivers in the south of England were visited.
Deciding that more could be done to put something back, Orph joined the Wey and Arun Canal Trust, gaining a Boat Masters Licence in order to skipper the trip boat Zachariah Keppel.
This came to an end when the family moved to Oxfordshire and 'discovered' the Wilts & Berks Canal was only half a mile from the front door. Becoming a member and eventually a director of the Trust, enabled many aspects of canal restoration to be understood at first hand, from digging ditches to attending Council Planning meetings. A very satisfying time.
In 2004 Orph and Jan purchased Oxley Marine on the Staffs & Worcs Canal. This being a very full time occupation, free time is at a premium, so unfortunately the family boat had to go! Only to be replaced with many and various craft that come through the business. Extended boating trips, other than occasionally skippering the trip boat Stafford and recovering broken down craft, are something for the future.
Kelvin Alexander-Duggan—News from the Fens
A Consultant Engineer based in the wilds of the Fens, where a watch is kept on the activities of the Middle Level Commissioners and the East Anglia Region of the Environment Agency.
Kelvin is a sailor who is equally at home on the inland waterways as well as out at sea, and tells us:
"I grew up on the Jurassic coast along the shores of Poole Harbour in the 70's and early 80's. The wide expanse of the natural harbour forming a playground throughout my childhood (It could be said I could sail before I could walk) messing around in boats from a early age.
"First come into contact with the inland system when I went to Uni in Manchester where one of the campuses overlooked the Bridgewater and the lower end of the Rochdale nine. Started to explore the local network by bike, One time in the course of the day finding myself in Skipton that evening after following the waterway from Manchester up through Wigan along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
"Bought the first narrowboat in the mid 90's and things went on from there. So far having fitted out three narrowboats with ongoing plans for a seagoing Dutch Barge.
At the present time Kelvin prefers to take weekends out on the Nene when time permits, rather then the Great Ouse or a spot of sailing off the Jurassic coast and around the Solent area. His long term future plans for a cruise along the length of the Goto Canal in Sweden in the planned Dutch Barge.
I retired early, mainly due to the death of manufacturing in the Midlands, sold my house and took to the canals in 2002. My present base is Aston Marina near Stone on the Trent & Mersey. I continuously cruise for eight (or more) months of the year but have a winter mooring in case of severe weather.
During the spring/summer/autumn I cruise the narrow canals from Napton in the south to Preston Brook in the north. However, winter cruising (when possible) is my favourite. I tend to move often, but relatively short distances, as that gives me a tank of hot water and charges the batteries for the day.
That is why my 50ft trad is called the Grey Nomad! Other than keeping the said boat afloat, my main hobby is photography. I often cruise early in the morning which is bliss, just me, the wildlife and the Cut (and of course a camera).
I am a liveaboard boater with my wife Trish and Jack our rescue dog (a Jack Russell!). We moved on in 2001 when our boat was built and launched. Prior to that, I started boating in the spring of 1976 on a hire boat from Oxford and got truly hooked. Since then we took annual one or two weeks holidays up until 1990 when we took a share in an Ownerships boat for 10 years, then took the calculated decision to move onto the cut permanently.
We have a Long Term Mooring at Lower Heyford that since retirement is our winter mooring though we pay to ensure we have it for 12 months each year should we need it. We were allocated it when British Waterways were more lenient with those that were liveaboards provided they were accepted by the community and took care of their moorings. We are also a security measure together with others.
We are both passionate about boating, and share with all the contributors the concerns, not just of the (mis)management of the inland waterways, but the ever increasing 'don't-give-a-damn' attitude of many boaters these days. I learned my basic boating skills while on hire/shared ownership and am continuing to learn as new challenges come around the bend!
I am the company secretary of the Russell Newbery Register and editor of the RNR Newsletter. My other current duty is as rally organiser for our annual gatherings around parts of the network.
So I see a lot of what goes on and what is treated with 'blind eye'.
I was a photographer volunteer on the very first community newspaper in the UK which is still in print. Had a background in engineering at a very famous shipbuilders, and time in the electrical industry.
In 1975 all this changed and I became a Police Officer, with a varied career, and after injury from several serious assaults I eventually left the service in 1997, whereupon I purchased a narrowboat and set off for a quieter life.
I later joined what I consider to be the finest canal boat club on the system—the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club at Runcorn. I have been with them since 2006, but my quiet life did not continue as I became heavily involved in the club and devoted a huge amount of time assisting the promotion of the club and it's facilities for the benefit of the members, and I have had the honour of being elected as Vice Chairman for the last two years.
I have a well developed sense of honour and believe we should all be treated as equals, I speak out if I see injustice in any form, I do not suffer anyone who takes advantage of anyone else and believe in keeping my word and working for the collective good and believe that hard work should be rewarded, and shirkers should be avoided. I make no apologies for my views.
The first boat we ever hired, was a cruiser from Wallingford on the Thames in 1986, and then hired boats for 15 years.
We were hooked on it. Deciding to stay in the one bedroom bungalow we moved into in 1988 at Quedeley near Gloucester, and save for our own boat.
We even hired a boat at Falkirk to do the Falkirk Wheel, proceeding to Edinburgh and returning down the wheel.
We bought our boat Peewee in 2010. It is a Aqualine Regatta 58 of which only seven were made. We changed the specification considerably (paying extra of course).
This year (2012) we cruised the Severn, Avon, Grand Union Canal, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Trent & Mersey Canal, Macclesfield Canal, the Peak Forest Canal, Huddersfield Narrow and Broad canals.
Then it was the Calder and Hebble, Aire and Calder, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Bridgewater Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Llangollen Canal, Staffs & Worcs Canal back to the Severn.
Had to stay at Upton on Severn due to flooding and sign indemnity forms to travel from Upper Lode Lock to Gloucester Lock because the Severn was 1.7 metres above normal levels. This we did reluctantly as we needed to return.
I am currently employed at Royal Mail, and I am the Chairman of Quedgeley Area Conservation Association. I have also served as a Parish Councillor, Chairman of Gloucestershire Wildlife Rescue for five years and was the Honorary Secretary for the League Against Cruel Sports from 1987 to 2001.
I decided to retire early due to the incompetent benefits system and employment attitudes in this country so I sold up and bought a 40ft narrowboat to live on.
Most of my life was spent as a marine radio operator and electrical test engineer. I am an active Radio Amateur now.
I am a live-aboard and I'm trying to be a proper continuous cruiser and work within the rules, which is becoming harder and harder due to the stupid rules being imposed by all and government etc.
I have to say I do not like incompetence in authority or high office and detest anyone who tries to gain privilege from their position in authority. I also detest those who try to pass the buck when it is clearly their problem or come out with ill-thought out excuses that clearly shows the speaker thinks everyone they are talking to is either stupid or illiterate.
The winter has just been spent on the southern Grand Union but I think I like the narrow canals better. I avoid most of the rivers in winter for obvious reasons. I do enjoy having a smile when I see some of the antics and hear some of the excuses by those who think they can handle a vessel competently only to demonstrate otherwise. I also share the concerns of some of the other contributors about the ‘don't give a damn attitude' not just of other boaters but also those who are supposed to be in authority etc.
I like photography and I'm an enthusiast for old engineering structures. I liked the Kew Steam Museum, well worth my visit and I'll be visiting a few more museums up and down the country as time allows.
Well the sun's shining and the engine's running so it's time to cast off and go and find summer—see you all further down the cut.
I retired early from a life in academia after spending some 25 years annoying both staff and students. My partner in life is Mags who retired around the same time from the same university after completing some 27 years. We like to think that we got time off for good behaviour. Our employer gave us a big pile of money to leave. The first purchase was a paper scraper to get the smiles off our faces.
Our children have all left home and have been replaced with a pair of Wire Haired Fox Terriers. We think this exchange of children and dogs should be made compulsory from the mid teens.
Prior to purchasing our own boat we had enjoyed a number of holidays on hire boats. Our last hire was taken in February so that we could get a feel for cruising in the winter months. The cold did nothing to curb our enthusiasm.
I have an opinion on everything and I'm prepared to share it with anyone whether wanted or not. I have a very well developed sense of humour and an even greater sense of irony. Whilst we are not cut out for the full time live-aboard lifestyle, time on the boat is very important quality time for the pair of us. However, we both prefer to enjoy holidays in warmer climates during the coldest months.
I'm pretty normal sort of a bloke, I always press more frequently on the remote control, even when I know the batteries are flat. I think CaRT is pants, I support Manchester United and we both love riding motorcycles.
I was first published in 1956 age 5. As a teen I worked as a runner for the London Evening Standard. I was next published in 1977 short story about flying. I served 25 years and 239 days in the Royal Air Force. Started writing hymns for church in the late eighties, progressed to country ballads and R'n'R. Poetry came next, selfpublished A Bakers Dozen 13 poems 1995 have been writing virtually non-stop since. I finished writing a childrens' novel last year and as well as writing here, there and everywhere I am currently writing a six part television series.
Milly M, my boat, is historical in that it was the first boat built 'online'. Web cams were placed in the workshop and the boat had its own website. There were over 10,000 visits during the build. I have been living onboard for the last six years, since returning from Saudi Arabia, September 2006. I am often out spoken and shouty in my writing. Those that have met me are surprised that I am not like that in real life. I will fight for the rights of the Genuine Continuous Cruiser and have no time for the Continuous Moorers.
I have been writing my blog, Maffi's Boat, since 2005. No one on the waterway knows me as anything other than Maffi. I am pleased to have been asked to join the team.
Maffi—nee S J Russell
Christine and I currently own a 60ftnarrowboat called Take Five which we bought in 2008. We retired fully last New Year but had gradually started to hand over our business a few years earlier. We now manage to spend about 13 to 15 weeks each year cruising around the country in two to three week blocks. We take a winter marina mooring, but live in Cornwall.
We started our boating in 1967 when we had our honeymoon on a boat hired from Canal Cruising in Stone, completing the Trent & Mersey/Shroppie Ring plus the Llangollen. Most things were a lot more primitive in those days (pump-out toilets were just that— into the canal) and breakdown calls (there were several!) involved tracking down a red phone box via an OS map.
We then bought a very small boat—one of the first that BWB acquired to create a hire business—which was not much more than camping on water. However, we covered much of the system then available, including the tidal Trent to Keadby and the Severn.
We sold that boat when we moved to the North East—sadly no canals up there—and started our family. In the intervening period we hired from many different companies most of which no longer exist, with the honourable exception of Wyvern Shipping Company at Leighton Buzzard, close to where we lived in 1980's.
In 1991 we moved to Cornwall to set up our own business providing holidays for people with a learning disability. Anyone who has set up a company from scratch will know that time off is a rare commodity and, as we had to take ours in February, canal cruising took a gap for most of the next two decades, resuming in 2006, which led us to take a hire boat for six weeks in 2007 to celebrate 40 years since the first time (http://canaljourney.blogspot.co.uk)
When we are away we keep a blog of our cruise on http://takefiveboat.blogspot.co.uk
We especially enjoy talking to youngsters at locks, getting even the youngest to help whenever possible. We hope that by involving them they will be more likely to respect the canals and not vandalise them. (It is amazing how old some ‘children' are!)
And the others
WITH such a wealth of information in narrowboatworld, it can only be expected that there are many others who support us by supplying us with material, or who perhaps even object! So our grateful thanks to:
George Boyle, 'Sooty' Black, Del Brenner, Alan Burnett, Dave Carden, Howard Clarke, Martin Cox, Mike Griffin, Tony Brooks, Lesley Carter, Tony Collins, Ruth Cragg, Roger Fox, Keith Gudgin, David Lyneham-Brown, Mike Fretwell, Richard Hall, Martin Howes, Dave Hancock, Frank Hurst, Jim Hutchinson, David King, Graham Lambden, Peter Lloyd, Jimmy Lockwood, David Lowe, Maffi, Iain Martlet, Roger Olver, Graham Phillips, David Owen-Roberts, Simon Robbins, Chip Smith, Geoff Smith, Mike Todd, Chris Wells, and those of the various organisations.