Victor gets his first stoppage

Published: Friday, 18 May 2018

WELL, it did not take long—just four days into our cruise and a stoppage.

And an unscheduled one of course, with our being held up at Lock 8 on the Curdworth Flight whilst a patched-up lock beam on the bottom gate was replaced.

CurdworthBrokeHad results

Unluckily, we had arrived too late in the morning, so were held up until the old beam had been removed, but then the woman's touch from She Who Must etc., etc, had results and they brought the workboat out and used a pole to open and close the beam-less gate, and we were away up the flight.

The single gate locks were somewhat harder to operate than in the past, but we are getting to realise it could be age catching up with us! Luckily there were a couple of Jack of all Trades volunteers who were mowing the grass, watering the flowers and giving us an hand with the locks.

What's the point?

AnotherOnCurdworthI just cannot understand all these welcome signs that Cart are so fond off, especially those on the Curdworth Flight. There is of course one at the bottom, another at the top, and would you believe, still another (as shown) in the middle of the flight.

Can someone explain that? Just what is the point when you are well and truly already there?

One of volunteers told us that the Aston Flight into Birmingham was to be closed for repair for a week during June, but of course there is always the Digbeth Branch way around, though I would not expect its tunnel would be a favourite. We once lost a navigation light going through. But why the middle of the year and not the maintenance period in winter? And why a week? Perhaps like on the Leicester Section of last year they are replacing the struts on a couple of gates that actually took all of five days.

CurdworthUlicencedAll time low

Before this we had passed that line of boats above the first lock of the flight and for once I took notice of their licenses, bearing in mind that Cart had proclaimed that 'boat licence evasion on its waterways is at an all time low Its annual national boat count shows its lowest-ever level, with 96.9% of boats holding up-to-date licences'.

So I will tell them about the licences on the boats at that particular mooring:

The dates on the licences displayed along the line of boats were 03.17, 01.16, 08.16, 07.17, 02.18 and 06.16. With seven boats showing no licences at all.  Of the number of boats on those mooring I reckon it was more like 96.9% without lincences!

CurdworthNewHotelIf this is a sample of boat licensing on moorings I reckon that once again we are being fed the usual Cart exaggeration. Or should I really call it Cart crap? Rather suits, eh?

Pub replaced

We finally arrived at our normal stopping place by the old pub at Minworth Greaves, but it isn't an old pub anymore but a brand new hotel, and seemingly well patronised. Mooring was easy as the rings are still there outside the premises, making handy moorings just away from the conurbation of Birmingham, or Brum as it is well called by its residents.

MinworthTowpathWe arrived here at 10.45am, and as I write this it is 4.10pm—over five hours—yet not a single boat has passed. Which is rather worrying as we obviously realise why there are none coming up, but has that Minworth lock at the other end failed again and stopped boats coming the other way too?  Only tomorrow will tell.  The relief—two boats passed coming towards us later on in the day.

Pet subject

I haven't mentioned my pet subject of Cart visitor numbers relating to so many hundreds to every mile of waterway, but I now shall!  There were a few on the Trent & Mersey on those two 'summer' days, but the Coventry was virtually visitor-less—just a few dog walkers.

The Birmingham & Fazeley was the same, with a very occasional dog walker, throughout its entire length to Minworth Greaves, and that on a bright sunny day.

Hold on a bit, come evening at Minworth and there were a few walkers and four teenage cyclists too, one kicking the boats as he rode past!

tame propHere we are just outside the country's second largest city, yet with so few visitors, and outside an hotel at that!

She Who Must, etc., etc suggests we wait until we get to Garrison Locks that is one of the main walkways, and count how many visitors we see on a Sunday in an hour. Good thinking—will do!


So on into Birmingham and now it was stopping time to clear the stern tube/propeller that was wrapped in the normal Birmingham waterways debris, and lots of other debris thrown onto the bank obviously from other boats.

We have found that this city is the worst in the country for getting stuff around the stern having spend many an hour attempting to get debris that was wrapped around, including blue rope at Catherine De Barnes (and we are on our way there again!) and the lengths of covering off stripped cable on the Tame Valley Canal, (pictured )both taking a long time to remove.


Approaching Lock 2 towards its mooring we were suddenly brought to a stop—we had well and truly grounded! Getting the pole out it was soon realised there was very little depth, so had an interesting quarter of an hour getting free, and alas that was not the only problem!

One of the anti vandal locks had broken in its locked position, so just one paddle in use. Then the gate would not fully open, but we could see nothing stopping it, so the boat was brought in hoping that it would just push the gate, but no, for the second time we were stuck!

This time however it was easier to reverse out, take up the fenders, and all was well. Which is more that what I can say for the state of the lock, pictured—another that should have had its beam replaced.  Then looking back another boat had become grounded approaching the lock moorings, but as we could see at least four people, we left them to it.

That logo

Moored for the night, I brought up the subject of Cart's new logo of the half submerged tyre that She Who Must, etc., etc had not seen, so showed it to her, after which Jan exclaimed:

VictorCartLogo"It's rubbish. At least on the old one you could see a swan and a bridge which relates. Fancy paying all that money for that crap!"

To which, dear girl, many, I included, agree. So as we are now really in the cart with Cart, here's my suggestion of a new logo for Canal & River Trust, which I reckon is much more in keeping. We can call it In the Cart.


Off then to our usual Birmingham moorings at Star City, where, as followers of the American television Suits we shall be watching the wedding as particulary interested of how many of the actors from the series have been invited.

Victor Swift