Victor reckons there's no hope for freight

Published: Sunday, 15 August 2021

IT IS rather obvious that those in government know little of the present state of our waterways.

Aire Calder Breach3Its Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stating that canals 'can have  a rebirth as transport links' clearly shows its lack of knowledge of the present condition of the waterways.

Its main artery from Goole Docks has been closed since the 10th of December, and for the life of me I can't see why, as the breach, shown, hardly needs the colossal amount of work—and moneythat it is taking as shown in the image below.  Perhaps a 'nice little earner' for the contractors is the reason.

The other main artery along the Thames is also closed, seemingly indefinitely whilst the varying factors argue who pays for the collapsing Hammersmith Bridge, that has closed the river and its freight.

AireCalderBreach400And those in government certainly cannot know of the virtually daily closureseven five in one daythat would certainly put the damper on any movement of freight, notwithstanding the now nearly complete lack of dredging that would hardly allow such deep draughted boats to even move.


It was some years ago that the movement of gravel by boat was started by Gunthorpe Lock on the Trent, moving it down river to a processing plant, that I well remember commenting upon. I pointed out that the gravel had to be loaded into a lorry that transported it to the site then unloaded into the barge, which two people would take through the locks down river to its destination to be unloaded into another lorry for its short journey to the plant when it would be unloaded.

This lasted a couple of months at quite a cost owing to the time taken by two people on the boat, the lorries and tackle needed for the operation and often being prevented movement owing to the tide.

Then came a lock closure, with the plant simply loading a lorry and taking it direct to the plant, I calculated in 35 minutes.  As against often a full day by boat.

There was another idea to move waste paper from I believe Sowerby Bridge, or somewhere near, to Manchester by boat on the Rochdale Canal, that needless to say, I also commented upon the time taken by two people to work 91 locks against taking it direct by lorry at 30 minutes!

Obviously common sense prevailed so it never saw the light of day.  And what if it did and was operating now... 

Another week

Though the 'plan of repair' has been organised for Lock 63 on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the dams will be installed next week to enable work to commence on the broken cill, it is anticipated it will take another week.

So once again its a Monday to Friday job, as nowadays is so well 'established'...

Makes you wonder eh?


Back in the days of British Waterways we were offered a discount of 20% for early payment off our boat licence payment.

But somehow or another that has been changed and is now just a 5% discount but plus 3% inflation.

Resulting in the cost last year of just over £700 rising to £960 this.

'Crafty ' hardly covers it.

Environment Agency too

The Environmental Agency doesn't intend being left behind as it too is after more cash from its boaters. It doing this with the usual (and of course very suspect) 'consultation'.

'A new charging framework' is its excuse being to 'ensure a consistent charge scheme across all its waterways'.

It proposes annual increases on a rolling basis starting on the 1st January 2022 and online registration only.

Now what there is to consult about I cannot imagine—the charges are going up year after year, like it or not.

Better by water?

All too often we are bombarded with the slogan that it is 'better by water', reassuring people to use the towpaths, yet there is a worrying amount of attacks on these often isolated and deserted paths.

Not only those intent upon robbing people with the use of knifes but the increase in pushing people—usually elderly vulnerable fishermen—into the waterway, no less than three reported in the last few weeks, together with a cyclist being pushed in, all by gangs of teenagers seemingly out for 'a bit of fun'.

It certainly was not 'better by water' for them. Eventually it must surely end up with someone being drowned.

For ourselves, we no longer walk the towpaths alone.  As we are told don't many others.

Victor Swift