David: Conditions in London

Published: Friday, 03 August 2018

WE WERE thinking of making the trip to London next year, having not been since 2013, but a conversation with a boater I met on the Weaver is giving us second thoughts.

He is an experienced boater based on the Leeds & Liverpool at the western end and has done most of his boating in that part of the world.

Earlier this year he retired and decided to do a long cruise down to London, which he had never done before. He went via the South Oxford, Thames and Brentford, intending to cruise into London and spend a few days there. He was horrified to discover the current state of the Grand Union as you approach London.

He said that for eight miles there were boats moored nose to tail and often double banked. The towpath was piled up with rubbish and from the smell some of them had been emptying their toilets into the canal. He was so disgusted that as soon as he got to Little Venice he turned round and retreated to Alperton, where he tied up in a marina and visited London by underground.

It sounds as if the situation has got a lot worse since we last went to London and that CaRT are completely unable to do anything about it. The only references to CaRT activity in the area has been about providing more facilities for permanent moorers, which I would have thought would only encourage them.

Perhaps it should consider reducing facilities; if it abolished all the water points within, say, 20 miles of Little Venice the moorers would have to make genuine cruises to fill up, while genuine transients, forewarned, would arrive with full tanks and have their stay naturally limited by the need to fill up again.

That logo

I have recently attended a couple of functions where CaRT have had one of their blue pagodas on site, mainly with the aim of drumming up 'Friends'. This gives the opportunity to try and raise a few points with them.

I asked one of their people, (an employee, not a volunteer) how many customers had said they liked the new logo—he squirmed a little and admitted that the figure was fairly adjacent to nil and was considerably out numbered by the critics of it.

The CaRT Chairman, Alan Leighton, has some experience of scrapping pointless rebrandings, as it was he who put an end to the nonsense of Royal Mail calling itself 'Consignia'. Perhaps he could use his experience to persuade CaRT that the exercise has failed and to return to the old branding before too much more money has been wasted on new signs.

SunCreamNoticeTalking of signs, I saw this one outside the Red Bull office on the Trent & Mersey. Just who do those at CaRT think they are? Whether I or anyone else puts on sunscreen is none of their business—or are they afraid of being sued if someone gets sunstroke from walking on the towpath?


I think I have worked out what the logic of CaRT's vegetation policy now is. On the Trent & Mersey, Coventry and North Oxford most of the time the waterside vegetation was six feet high, to the extent that you can't see anyone on the towpath, even if they are there and getting off the boat in an emergency would be impossible.

However, wherever there was steel piling the edge had been properly cut whether they were designated moorings or not, as it was for about 20 yards on either side of each bridge. This shows that the neglect of edge cutting is a deliberate policy, which Fountains Forestry, the contractor, has been ordered to implement. The major snag about this on the Coventry and Oxford is that there is very little steel piling, so you can cruise for miles without being able to stop, emergency or not.

Perhaps this is a subtle way of discouraging continuous moorers, by restricting them (and everyone else) to a few locations where they can be monitored.

I raised this point at the CaRT pagodas and nobody could explain what the rationale is, though one man did agree that it was an obvious health and safety issue and that there isn't much point in 'making life better by water' if the towpath walkers can't even see it. I was promised that someone would phone me from CaRT and explain what is going on, but I am still waiting over a week later.

David Hymers