HAVING just spent a night in Clarence Dock in Leeds, I can confirm that apart from the activity generated by the Royal Armouries museum, the place is pretty well dead.
All the shops I remember have closed, except for the Tesco Express, and the remaining restaurants did not seem to be doing much trade.
Mind you, they are not going to get much trade from boaters, since the visitor moorings provide for only five boats and one of those spaces is allocated to a trip boat.
All the rest of the moorings are labelled for permit holders, but half of the pontoons are unoccupied and the lengthy section of basin beyond the swing bridge was occupied by precisely one boat—a 'replica' U-boat, charging £1 to see round it.
Clearly CART have been unable to let these moorings, so why is there so little visitor space? Clarence Dock is an important refuge for when the Aire is in flood, so surely there should be more visitor provision for safety reasons alone.
Calder & Hebble
On up the Calder and Hebble, not one of my favourites, at least until the upper reaches. The locks are short and for some reason have the bottom gate foot-boards on the inside of the gates, so that locking up in a 57ft boat is a nervous experience. I would have thought that this a serious health and safety issue—I don't see why the foot-boards cannot be on the outside, as is usual, or for handrails to be provided to use the top of the balance beams.
Many of the lower lock landings are also, in my view, dangerous, as they are very short and provided with only a single bollard—if you get it wrong it can be very awkward. Some have been provided with pontoon landings, presumably for this reason, but the job needs finishing.
How to waste money lesson 47
Coming up the Huddersfield Broad Canal the name notices at each lock had been plated over with a new one. The old notices were of the standard British Waterways pattern, which has proved to be pretty vandal proof. The new ones are simply screwed on top of the originals and are already being vandalised, since there is a tempting edge to grip. This enabled me to see that the original notices stated exactly the same thing as the new ones and were in perfectly legible condition.
So why did British Waterway (for it was it, not CART) feel it necessary to waste several hundred pounds on each of nine locks fitting entirely unnecessary notices?
BW/CART's first law of visitor moorings, that they should be in the least convenient spot, permanent moorings getting priority, is once again obeyed at Huddersfield.
Permanent mooring handy for the supermarket, with well spaced rings, visitor moorings on the other side, with missing rings and shoal. The whole of the terminal basin is leased out for permanent moorings too.