THE 100 years old horse drawn narrowboat Ilkeston is making a 200 miles journey from Ellesmere Port to London, and will pass through Camden Town this Thursday 23rd August, an event not seen locally for some fifty years, Lester May writes:
Indeed, had I not seen a newspaper article I'd not have known about this historic event, even though I attended the launch of the new Canal & River Trust at Camden Lock on 12th July, for no one thought to mention it to the 100 or so people gathered that day. (Ralph Freeman's photograph is of Ilkeston leaving Great Haywood Lock on 15th June on her journey South.)
The organisers of this historic narrowboat journey, taking some three months to travel the 200 miles from Ellesmere Port to London, have clearly involved British Waterways, for that now defunct body issued a press release about the journey when it started in June.
By chance, I saw today a notice on the railing near Royal College Street canal bridge, about a towpath closure locally. Notice RE00424 was issued a week ago, and advises the closure of the Regent's Canal towpath from Kentish Town Road bridge to Royal College Street bridge, in order that erection or removal of scaffolding may be undertaken (on Twyman House, Camden Road, which is being demolished).
The closure is effective from Monday 20th August to Friday 24th August. A search on-line reveals a rather uninformative closure notice from CART which would only be understood by those who know that the building being demolished was indeed called Twyman House.
But—and I may be wrong—it seems to me to be pretty difficult for a horse on the towpath to tow a narrowboat along the canal, from Camden Lock to King's Cross, if the towpath is partly closed because of demolition works. Perhaps the horse is one of those we saw jumping the equestrian obstacles at Greenwich—now that would be a sight to see!
The towpath was closed a couple of months ago when the demolition of Twyman House began, and within days, lengths of the yellow polystyrene tubing used on the site were floating along the canal. Why British Waterways allowed the towpath closure during the summer months at all is questionable, for the towpath receives its greatest use by locals, tourists and foreigners between April and October.
Your readers need to be aware that the horse may refuse to jump next Thursday and all they might see is a century old narrowboat either using modern-day horsepower or not underway at all.
See horse sense
I have, therefore, sent a copy of this letter to the Canal & River Trust and to the organisers of the epic journey of the Ilkeston to the London Canal Museum, in the hope that someone can get the Canal & River Trust to see horse sense.
I know CART seeks donations and volunteers, but why should it take a volunteer with horse sense to point out this nonsense?