READERS who follow the comings and goings of the Oxley engineering team may feel that I don't have time or inclination to follow the day to day issues that beset our navigation system, writes Orph Mable.
In this, I can only say that they are very mistaken. For several years I even submitted articles to this august publication, passing comment and small gobbets of information.
Nowadays, I am afraid that the ceaseless number of system failures, regular occurrences of towpath stupidity and idiotic mooring/continuous cruising arguments just depress me. So I just focus on the engineering aspects. But as another ‘boating season' draws to a close I thought I'd bring attention, and a little support, to an area which still cheers me.
Whilst the Canal and River Trust, with its layers of managers, consultants and charity organisers seem to struggle to keep up with the operation and maintenance of the navigation system, individual canal societies and trusts quietly get on with restoring those disappeared canals that would add to and enhance, the unique network that is our national navigation system.
Where would the system be today without those visionaries that restored such as the Kennet & Avon, the Huddersfield Narrow and the Avon Navigations? Thankfully I can report like-minded folk are still getting on with the business of restoration.
Those of you who have ever been involved with any sort of restoration will know all too well, you get more ‘bang for your buck' if you do the ‘easy bits' first. Well there are no longer any easy bits and today's restorers are having to find new routes and ingenious ways to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems.
Health & Safety
In today's world there is the Health & Safety aspect to seriously consider, meaning that no ‘risky' short-cuts can be made and all aspects of planning must be adhered to. Funding is difficult, and much of the effort in any project today is to gain the funding and necessary approvals before a ditch can be dug or brick laid.
Today I received a Press release from the Hereford and Gloucestershire Canal Trust (www.h-g-canal.org.uk) that is currently working on a really interesting project to increase the navigable section of the restored canal.
From the press release—'A recently-acquired section of the canal route southwards from Oxenhall links the site to Newent's old [railway] station, on the east side of the town. The plan is to restore the station platforms, which are still in situ, and run the canal between the platforms. (The above photograph if of the derelict station platforms, whilst the one below is an artist's impression of the finished canal and proposed buildings.)
An original footbridge, which has been stored on site, will be restored to its former glory and a tea room and visitor centre will be built in the original style of the former station building'.
A real visitor attraction
Sounds exciting and the artist's impression that was supplied, gives a good idea of the finished project. When completed, it will be a real visitor attraction to this canal.
One must wonder at the vision of this group of restorers who can look at what is there today and not only visualise but plan the project that will bring it into fruition.
I would urge anyone interested in learning more to visit the web site (details I gave earlier).