The 'green men'

Published: Wednesday, 17 June 2020

YOUR mention of the 'green men' brought back memories of those days when the canals were at their best, writes T. Lang.

In those days you could not go out without seeing them patrolling their patches and they were there to make sure all was working properly, and there was no way you would come across the problems that are so prevalent today.

EU bureaucracy 

Like you, I am talking back 20 years or so when there was also the major maintenance during winter and before the EU brought in all its bureaucracy that has been foisted upon us resulting in little jobs becoming major operations. For this we cannot blame the later British Waterways or Canal & River Trust that had to abide by such difficulties.

HeartbreakBrokeI remember being broken down in our old boat on Heartbreak Hill [Trent & Mersey Canal] near one of the twin locks where a lock gate was being replaced with the gate arriving by boat and the old gate lifted out and the new one installed by three 'green men' and a set of chains (not sure what they are called) on a simple gantry.  I understand that now if one of the twin locks breaks, that's it—it's gone.

Falling so far behind

Nowadays a crane, snap cabin, toilet and God knows what before work can even start, then in comes the health & safety, and a week later the job is done, that in the old days took a day!  So  at such inflated cost there is little wonder that maintenance is falling so far behind.

But what has made it worse is that those 'green men' have all gone, replaced by management figures with high faluting titles to impart that bureaucracy, and of course a good packet of its own bureaucracy too!

This really is a case of 'the good old days'.