Reflections of an Ancient Boater—lock usage declines

Published: Friday, 04 June 2021

FIRST of all, thanks to Kevin McNiff for confirming that Fradley is still busy on a bank holiday, but then again so are a lot of places.

At Barton Marina the car parks for the shopping mall and the Waterfront pub were full to bursting. That was exactly the reason I went to Fradley on the 27th and not the 31st, (I hate queuing and crowds), then stayed moored up and out of the way on the 31st!

Avoid bank holidays

Whilst cruising I have always tended to moor up somewhere off the beaten track during busy periods, for example the Fazeley end of the B&F for the week before/after a bank holiday.

That's why I was surprised Fradley was quiet just a couple of days before the bank holiday. Indeed I have, in the past, tended to 'hide' for the whole month of August. The trend seems to be for folk to be using their boats for shorter trips, and the long term extended cruises seem to be getting less. Maybe it's an age thing; the hardy 8 to 12 months a year boaters are literally dying out?

wood endWoodend Lock

I had a quick shufti on the Net and came across BW/CaRT's Dr Adam Comerford's annual reports which summarises the lock usage across the system. Not all locks have the required telemetry outstations fitted, but the data gives a very useful guide as to which are the busiest sections of the system.

Hillmorton locks are the most used, but Woodend Lock (pictured) is not far behind and rated 6th, itself just behind Colwich Lock. Obviously moorers at Kings Bromley Marina tend to prefer to turn left rather than right?

Woodend Lock usage

Woodend Lock T&M

2012  2013  2014   2015  2016  2017  2018  2019  2020
8491  7661  7068  7009  6828  6861  6811  6188  4450

Fall in usage

Over the period 2012 to 2019 the usage of Woodend lock fell by 27% if my maths are correct. I have ignored the 2020 figure because of Covid, but included it for reference. Note these are CaRT's own figures but from an engineering department not a 'PR desk wallah'.