Protests of wide beam boats using Oxford Canal

Published: Wednesday, 13 December 2017

BOATERS are complaining of the use of wide beam boats using the North Oxford Canal, that is built as a narrow canal with limited width.

Narrow three miles pound

One of our contributors Kevin McNiff is one of the boaters complaining to Canal & River Trust of the use of wide beam boats between the narrow three miles pound between Braunston and Dunchurch Pools, with the Trust actually allowing a wider entrance to be constructed clearly for the use of wide beam boats to gain access.

All Kevin received was the normal 'out of office' reply, but nothing more after what was then, in November, six weeks, and so raised the matter as a formal complaint.

Boaters consider it to be potential misuse of the navigation by craft out of maximum dimensions as are stated, with wide beam craft causing hazzards to narrowboats attempting to pass and being moored.

Nothing could be done

In a recent email exchange with a CaRT, a staff member told that nothing could have been done when the planning application was made for the wider entrance. But boaters feel there was a great deal that could have been done, including restrictions placed disallowing movement of wide beams on the three miles between Braunston and Dunchurch Pools.

In discussions of this issue with many boating colleagues and friends they all believe that the interim solution is to physically restrict the width of the canal at bridge 90 in Braunston to 8ft.

The length between this bridge and Braunston Turn is hardly wide enough for two narrowboats to pass when the moorings on both side are occupied—that is nearly always—so what will happen if a wide beam attempts to navigate with an oncoming narrowboat in the way? Or two wide beams with nowhere to go?

Should have been prevented

Kevin comments:

"I believe that CaRT should have prevented this form of navigation at the outset and not have ignored common sense, health and safety risk assessments concerning damage to the infrastructure and assets as well as the well-being and safety of narrowboat users."