Victor believes we should not overlook the work of the teams

Published: Monday, 25 January 2021

ALL too often there are complaints about the work of contractors that are now let loose on our waterways.

The Keir contractors regularly fail to finish work on time, fail to fulfil it as it should be and have a habit of dropping lock gates into the drink and the like, with the trust taking the blame.

Barton Turns LockSo how good it was to read Ralph Freeman's report of how Cart's own local team went the extra mile to make sure the waters from the flooding Trent were kept well under control and doing no damage.

Ralph added a real truth to meCaRT my have got rid of lengthsmen, but the JOB still remains. This is especially true in adverse weather situations, like now at Barton Turns and the row of houses along the small stretch of road that was the original A38 are vulnerable if the spill around the lock overflows.  This has happened in the past. As the photograph shows, the bywash around the lock is not really big enough and was full to capacity, hence the need for manual intervention from a lengthsman!

Time and time again a stoppage occurs and the teams from the various areas spring into action and do a repair without the long winded—and expensivemethods of employing contractors slowly grinding through its systems.  More such teams would greatly benefit the waterways.

Worst decision ever

I well remember out local upgrade of the M1 motorway by this self-same Keir, who were over a year late in completion and night after night for months after as we came back from the boat we were halted by lane closures to make right its poor surfaces.

Getting rid of the bulk of the people whose life had been the maintenance of the waterways, and of course their knowledgenot forgetting their equipmentand replacing with contractors and hire companies must go down as the worst decision ever made in the history of the waterways.

And now we have such as the breaches—the Middlewich springs to mind—and the everlasting repair to the Figure of Three locks that the contractors make such a meal of, even to taking months 'thinking about it' before a single thing is done, and around a year to eventually repair.

It really is not good enough.

Hire companies

And what of the hire companies?  How long will CaRT be able to gather income from these people as time after time the word is spread of so many broken waterway holidays on social media?

Social media is a strong weapon, with those whose carefully planned cruises are thrown to the dogs by the never ending stoppages telling of their dissatisfaction, and certainly will not risk it again.

How can the hire companies hold up against such adversity?  With coronavirus preventing so much business, their's is a struggle indeed without the so many unnecessary stoppages making life harder still.

ShroppieBreachHoleThe reason?

The boaters and walkers who have noticed the 'leak' on the Shroppie that has been ignored for over a year well confirm Canal & River Trust's 'wait until it breaks' policy.  Plus of course the very similar 'structural failure' on the Aire & Calder, both developed into full blown breaches, but perhaps designed to show the government of the 'terrible condition' of our poor waterways, so can we please have more money?

It seems it believes this is much better than maintaining them in good condition, as they should be so that they do not fail, for what does that tell the money-men?—no need for any further cash, thank you very much.

So, should we be allowed to once more take to cruising the waterways at the end of this dreaded pandemic, it would be wise to allow yourself a little extra time when planning your cruise. Or perhaps, a lot more time! [Photograph courtesy of Dave Martin.]

Coventry leakOne ready to blow

So a leakthis time it's a real oneis still allowing water out of the Coventry and has been doing so for five years since this photograph was taken.  The ground was perfectly dry as it had been a rain-less cruise, so it obviously the water was coming from the raised canal on the left.

This is at Tamhorn Park on the embankment between the canal and the railway with my informant telling it is flowing 'quite well nowadays'. 

So about ready to blow!  And yes, we did report it at the time...


I have to admit I just have no clue as to the logic behind the recent 'Boating Experience' survey foisted upon us by British Marine, that was forwarded by our Keith.

It asks a series of questions that left my completely baffled, wanting to know from inland waterway boaters if they live aboard; satisfied with their life; have a worthwhile life; feel happy, feel anxious.

Though aimed at canal boaters is asks you to tick any of the 16 water sports you take part in; who you have taken part with in the past 12 months, which boating you do most frequently (though already told)—and wait for it—do you take your boat to sea?

Whoever churned out this load of utter crap has not a single idea of canal boating, and as to its point.  There isn't one.


I was most pleased to learn that the flood water at our marina at Sawley on the Trent had at last receded, and hope there were none of the usual sinkings, but surely time for an organisation that is only too fond of notices to consider an important notice that would certainly prevent sinkings in the future.

A prominent notice telling boaters not to tie their boats by the top of the sliding rail to the roof thus stopping it from rising with the flood and to attach a 'spring' to hold it from going under the jetty.

This will sensibly protect the boats when the floods return, as of course they will.  Here's hoping for a bit of sense.

Victor Swift