Victor: Another ridiculous excuse

Published: Monday, 08 May 2017

I RECKON we are all now aware of the excuses from Cart attempting to cover its inadequacies of maintenance, but the very latest of its evasions defies description.

Notice MeafordMeaford Road Lock (33) on the Meaford Flight out of Stone is a very slow filler, with  'She Who Must, etc, etc' remarking that it was exactly the same last May when we cruised the Caldon and back.

But this time Cart has done something about it, but alas, don't get too excited; it has not been repaired, but a notice has been attached to one of its gates telling us the slow filling is due to 'a restriction in the paddle culvert', as can be seen in the picture.

Do you believe it?

Do you believe it? Don't, for all it is is yet another excuse.  Just like the period last year it had of claiming that it was boaters who caused lock failures, and the more recent excuse of 'preventing water loss' as an excuse for lock failures.  So now we have 'restriction in the paddle culvert' as an excuse to cover even more lack of maintenance.

Meaford Rd LockAn excuse for what?  Just look at the picture of the bottom gates of the lock—that shows you exactly why the lock is a slow filler—it has badly leaking gates that need attention, and have done for years.

So someone at Cart's Department of Excuses, came up with blaming paddle culverts. It won't wash mates, the picture tells it all.

It is very plain to see—the bottom gates are leaking so much, there is no way the lock will fill anything but very slowly. It is difficult to understand why the people at Cart make such an excuse and also such fools of themselves by blaming a paddle culvert when everyone can see it is badly leaking gates that so obviously cause the problem.  Must think we are idiots.

Path at StokeWhere did that come from

One of our favourite stopping places is along the 'straight' opposite Stoke City Football Ground, with a good walk for the dog, so imagine the shock that instead of a the path along the side of a field, we get a great building in our way, but at least there is a diversion.

It seems this area is going to be a major transport hub, as it is the second such building, the one further away that was being finished off last year, is now a warehouse for Dunhelm.

What will be there next time we come along is anybody's guess. (Sorry about the condition of the picture but the sun was still rather low, casting a shadow, when we set off in the morning.)


At least the broken ground paddle on the bottom Stoke lock has been repaired.  This concrete structure was the result of the ring road taking up a lock and so two locks being made into one, so you can guess just how long it took to fill with just one ground paddle. But all is now well and it fills rather quickly and is very easy to operate.

Harecastle'She Who Must, etc, etc' believes it was built whilst they still had the knowledge unlike now, with giving all the work to contractors, who know little.

Then it was Harecastle Tunnel for the thirteenth time, and it was somewhat unlucky for us.  The attractive lady lock keeper estimated it would be just 30 minutes before the single boat in the tunnel came through, so we took the boat across to the water tap and filled up, being back in good time. 

But there was no rush, as the 30 minutes arrived and went, and 45 minutes came and went, and it was whilst the lock keeper was considering making it an emergency that the boat finally arrived, having taken one hour 20 minutes.

We don't dash through but it took 'She' exactly 34 minutes to get through, so that boat must have been ricocheting along the sides the whole way at such a slow speed.   Pleased we were not behind it!

Since the death of the boater who fell from the back of his traditional boat and drowned in the tunnel last year, a system costing £50,000 had been installed allowing emergency telephone calls to be made from inside the tunnel.  Yet this was not mentioned in the safety information given upon entry, and there was definitely no mobile signal available when inside the tunnel...

Stone hire boatsFew hire boats

Though not a bank holiday week it was May Day early in the week, and the hire people should now be well into their swing, but there was a real absence of hirers about, with only a few Canaltime  and a couple of Aqua boats seen on the Trent & Mersey Canal over four days.

The picture shows the boats of one hire company back in Stone that paints a dismal picture for the industry, and other hire bases we passed had no shortage of boats.

Macclesfield Canal

So on to the Macclesfield, then our suddenly realising it was a 'V' configuration canal, and so difficult to moor into the side unlike the more common 'U' configuration.  But difficult to moor or not, we soon discovered there were a great many moored boats than when we last cruised the entire canal in 2006.

Alan BosleyAnother thing we noticed was that there were very few moving boats, and perhaps all those moored boats were the reason, constantly having to slow down every few hundred yards or so.  It really must be a pain to many.

Alan Tilbury

We picked up our usual extra crew member at Congleton in the shape of Alan Tilbury, our Senior Reporter, who manages to join us on our cruises wherever we are, who came in very handy as it was the day we were working the 12 Bosley Locks, and here's a picture of Alan (on the left) with a crew member.

As I mentioned it was 10 years since we last travelled this way, so obviously, as was to be expected, the condition of the locks and paddles had somewhat deteriorated.  Needless to mention, many of the gates leaked, so being the first up the flight we encountered low pounds, the one in the picture being extremely so.  In the distant past we would have phoned the then British Waterways and someone would have been out pretty sharpish, but alas no longer, as we discovered last year, so Jan nipped up the flight and let the water down until there was enough to get the boat over the cill.

Empty BosleyThe lock before the low pound had water pouring out of both top and bottom gates, so the cause was obvious.  What the situation will be like by the end of the season is anybody's guess, or even perhaps next season should the same amount of winter maintenance be forthcoming. Not really good enough is it?

And though the ground paddles were easy to work on the flight, most of the gate paddles were extremely hard, with the 'Yorkshire' windlass out a few times.

No licences

My regular readers will be well aware that it is many years since I had my obsession—yes I admit it—about unlicenced boats, as over the past years these have become very infrequent due to the activity of Cart's licensing team, so have had little cause to comment.

But I was amazed at the number of boats with no licences or out of date licences showing on the Macclesfield Canal.  I hadn't noticed at first, now having little interest, then I realise there were many, so counted them going through all those moored boats at High Green and counted 15! 

Floating DueceThen in the next 'batch' of boats there were another three and then three more in another batch of boats—making 21 boats not showing current licences within a distance of about two miles!  And the many boats on 'finger' moorings I could not count.

It being a Sunday and late morning, many of these boats without licences had people in them, and others with side doors open, so the reason could not be as they had not visited their boats—they were there! 

I just cannot understand why so many. It is obvious there is no licence inspection whatsoever on the Macclesfield. But at least I was pleased to see a well known boat to us 'Floating Duece', formerly belonging to good friends of ours, that did have a current licence.

Br 6 MaccPatched up

Another bridge in a near state of collapse is Bridge 6 on the Macclesfield, with the workman we spoke to telling that it was a patch-up job, as all they were doing was inserting timber to hold the bridge up and a cobbles on the towpath under the bridge to smooth out the surface, and I have to tell he was not at all impressed.

Especially as to make it look good, they had instructions to point the brickwork.

It makes you wonder just what the state of our waterways will be in in a few years time? Calculating on the last few years under the control of Cart, it will be a bloody mess.

Victor Swift