Victor asks why it took so long

Published: Saturday, 24 July 2021

LOCK 85 on the 'Rochdale Nine' is finally completely repaired—taking five weeks.

That obviously prompts the question—why so long? After all, it was only a gate that needed replacing that failed on the 17th of June.

r tunnel 85 2It took a week to decide that the bracket that was required for the repair had to be approved, so all it then needed was the lock to be dewatered and the bracket installed.

But it wasn't!  Instead we learnt it then required 'design and methodology' as the bracket did not solve the problem, so the navigation was closed for a further two weeks.

Then it was realised with the lock being under a building there was not enough height for a normal crane to lift the gate, so it had to go before a committee we were informed, that then obviously took up our Keith's suggestion of an 'A' frame and block and tackle', that to our minds was obvious.

Eventually, come the 16th July, we were told the lock was finally open to navigation.  But though a broad beam canal the lock was only open to narrowboats as the repair wasn't repaired!

But came Friday, all was complete, the lock really is fully open. But taking five weeks...

I just wonder how long it would have taken to be repaired by the men under British Waterways, who knew what they were doing, instead of these contractors, who obviously don't?

MooredKAOver a thousand moored boats

One of our regular contributors, Stewart, first completed the Kennet & Avon in 1997 and encountered very few boats either moored or moving.

So this time he decided to time lapse the trip and watched it recently and counted 1,200 linear/moored boats (included all types of boats) from Reading to Bath, telling it made it very slow going.

I wonder how many were legal? Just swapping places every 14 days...  Or perhaps, under this regime, not bothering.  But it certainly doesn't make for easy cruising.

No way José

I felt sorry for another of our contributors, Dave, who was unable to complete the Leicester Ring, but how ridiculous that not one of those many volunteer lockies thought to tell him the Leicester Section was closed, he locking down Foxton then having to lock back up again. Or perhaps CaRT had not told them...

We were lucky at our last attempt to Market Harborough only having a couple of hold-ups and just getting back before the section was shut down.

One thing for sure, never again.  How many stoppages at present?

Ratcliffe again

One is Ratcliffe Lock on the Leicester Section that is closed for the third time by silt either stopping the bottom gates from closing or causing the boats to ground.

The first stoppage resulted in the silt being moved down to the lock moorings—where we become stuck when attempting to moor!

Then there was a second attempt to move the silt, but no idea where it went that time, but the gates opened okay, until last week when yet again boaters were unable to use the lock, so the silt has to be 'juggled' again!

It was in September 1998—23 year ago—when we first used Ratcliffe Lock and many times since, with no problems other than getting the lock water level owing to the leaking bottom gates, but no silt piling up.  That can really only point to one thing—lack of dredging.

Coupled with the incompetence of today's contractors.

And still they come

And now our Keith tells that boats are grounding elsewhere on the Leicester Section, this time north of Bishop Meadow Bridge (42) with  boats getting completely stuck.

This is causing a bit of a blockage, especially for wide beams we are told.  That is if they can actually move!

CaRT would have us believe this 'is a combination of deep 'drafted' boats or lower river levels, and even tells of a sand-bank.  Sand?  I don't think so—it's silt!

I do wish that these people would not state drafted. As drafted is the act of drawing.

It is draughted, with the dictionary stating: 'the depth of water necessary to float a ship freely'. Obviously too much to expect as they don't have the knowledge, as their many mistakes show.

A summer of arts

Canal & River Trust is unveiling a summer of arts along its waterways, our being told—'which will focus on communities facing socio-economic disadvantage, disconnected from creative hubs and opportunities, with thousands of local people connected to their canal by talented local artists'.

What the hell that means I haven't a clue, only that even more cash is being wittered away from the upkeep of the waterways.

A summer of maintenance—of the scores of broken paddles and decrepit swing bridges would make more sense.

Sense? That's a laugh!

Victor Swift