Stop planks do not work (apparently)

Published: Monday, 03 June 2019

WHO would have thought it? After all these years 'stop planks', those lengths of timber we often see by canal bridges and narrow sections, are a waste of time, writes Ralph Freeman.

So the likes of Brindley, Telford and Jessop were wrong and wasted all that time an money providing the slots to take them.

Hard to believe

Who says so? ABC Leisure's Marina Manager says so that's who. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but bear with me.

KOM Entrance 01The issue, I'm told, started not long after King's Orchard Marina opened and it was soon discovered that the elegant blue bull nose bricks used to line the tricky offset entrance were not, on their own, narrowboat proof (surprise surprise). So the wooden fendering (shown below), was retro fitted to protect the bricks. (It may be a coincidence, but no one can remember seeing the original stop planks after this modification).

Covered stop plank slots

It's obvious the person supervising the fitting of the fendering was not a boater as they put it over the stop plank slots completely destroying their purpose! That brings us to the present situation where, not only are there no stop planks, but there are not even slots to fit them.

I have always assumed it has been a requirement, for a connection to be granted to the canal system, that stop planks and the appropriate slots should be in place at the entrance to a marina.

Told stop planks don't work

I have complained about the lack of this feature at King's Orchard Marina. for almost a year now. Subsequently I have been informed by marina staff the Marinas Manager has employed a consultant and now claims because the marina is much deeper than the canal, a breach on either side of the entrance is not an issue! It was also claimed that stop planks wouldn't work as you can't fit them in case of a breach.

Brindley thought otherwise, and to be honest I'll go with him on this one.

20 Pounder 2Rejected as valid reason

The marina is home to some beautiful specimen fish, perch and bream in particular. I did suggest that stop planks could provide a much needed barrier in case of pollution. I also pointed out that the busy A38 runs adjacent to the Coventry Canal just north of Streethay and accidents do happen. This too was rejected as a valid reason for having stop planks.

I find, as a boater, it is almost incomprehensible that ABC Leisure should adopt a 'couldn't care less attitude' regarding the integrity of the canal infrastructure and well being of the wildlife it contains.

The pound in question runs all the way from Fradley Junction to the foot of both the Glascote and Curdworth flights of locks. That's a distance of 12 miles plus three miles. Apparently putting this length of the Coventry Canal in jeopardy is not a worry to ABC Leisure's Marina Manager.

Trying for almost a year

I have been trying for almost a year now to get this serious omission rectified but to no avail. Let's hope someone at CaRT has a word in ABC Leisure's ear. Either that or perhaps ABC Leisure ought to have a canal oriented person in charge or (heaven forbid) a boater who knows about canals!

[Ralph Freeman has sent a complaint in to Richard Parry and received a reply from his office stating that the situation would be investigated. So CaRT is now aware.]