David—An anniversary cruise

Published: Wednesday, 17 October 2018

WE HAVE just done short cruise to celebrate 30 years of boat ownership.

RoyalOrdananceSepot1We went to Weedon, as we wanted to satisfy a long held desire to see inside the old Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon.

Although this closed as a military facility in 1965, the Georgian buildings are still intact and in use for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes.

For many years the site was inaccessible, being guarded by ferocious security. A recent change of policy now allows free access to the public to the whole site and one of the buildings now houses a large second hand bookshop (mainly fiction), a cafe and an antique shop.

There is also a newly opened visitor centre, open Wednesday to Saturday 10am-4pm, which recounts the fascinating history of the site. The depot was once served by a branch canal off the Grand Union, which crossed the railway on the level by means of a sliding bridge similar to the one which still exists on the Stainforth and Keadby. The canal still acts as the central focus of the site. If you're passing Weedon, do go and visit.



 Water resources

I think CaRT are entitled to some credit for keeping so many canals open, especially in the south, at this time of water shortage. The water management system introduced by British Waterways after the last drought seems to working; even the South Oxford is still open, as are the Leicester line and Braunston and Tring summits, albeit with restrictions, all of which would almost certainly have closed in previous droughts.

In the case of the Oxford and Braunston summits at least, this is due to the operation of effective back pumping systems installed by BW. Perhaps CaRT should consider this for those canals which have been a problem in the north—especially the Macclesfield. Let's hope it rains over the winter.

It was also good to see that the locks had all received a recent coat of paint and everything was in good working order; perhaps the management of the south Oxford should go and look.


I have to report that the towpath edge vegetation on the Grand Union has been properly cut, unlike some other canals I could (and have) mentioned. The only odd thing was where saplings of ash and willow were growing at the edge they had been left alone; this seems odd as they will grow into big trees in fairly quick time.

Perhaps sapling cutting is not in the contract or the responsibility of a different department at Fountains Forestry. However, the offside of the canal is in great need of cutting, though there was some evidence that a little has been done.

David Hymers