Victor reckons there's better ways to spend the holidays

Published: Monday, 27 December 2021

BETTER ways indeed to spend the holidays than the fella who took to the Huddersfield Narrow in his car.

CarNHudNarrowIt was whilst driving at some speed by the canal at Slaithwaite that he took to the air landing in the middle of the waterway and much too far from land to get back, as our Keith told me, and very luckily to be able to get out, as the vehicle went right under.

Wet and shivering he managed to attract attention—well he wouldn't he eh?stood on the roof of a submerged car in the middle of the canal!

Someone contacted the emergency services and out came the West Yorkshire Fire Service complete with ladder, two of the firemen holding down one end whilst he was rescued with the photograph, courtesy of the fire service, showing a fireman going to his rescue to get the fella back to to dry land.

GargraveBrianHow it was done in the past

Now my old mucker, Brian Holmes, one of our original columnists and stalwart of the Shropshire Union Canal Society is showing us how thing used to be done, being reminded of the lock at Gargrave that CaRT had decided was deemed unsafe on the 11th of October, Brian explaining:

'Looking back, the pound above Anchor Lock at Gargrave suffered from low levels for many years but in 1993, Anchor Lock was rebuilt stone by stone (photos taken out of season) at the time of Anchor Lock being rebuilt by British Waterway workers (NOT contractors) who knew how to do the job—and got on with it'.

From the 11th of October when CaRT deemed the lock was unsafe it will be Easter, it states, before work has been completed by the contractors and navigation reopened.

Somewhat different from those days gone by!

I just can't understand it

I am at a complete loss to understand why Canal & River Trust go to such expense and trouble to churn out so many rules and regulations in the form of byelaws when it admits it never enforces them.

It was Giles Williams who wrote in narrowboatworld that he was handed a print-out of the trust's General Canal Byelaws 1965 to 1976, he being told that these were the byelaws that are enforced on the canals and rivers, and that we should know them and refer to them.

Being somewhat concerned he made a Freedom of Information request to ascertain just how many times any of these many byelaws had been enforced, to learn to his great surprise that from the dates he requested, 2013 to 2020 none had been enforced! (Canal & River Trust does not enforce powers under byelaws.)

The trust stating: The Trust do not routinely enforce our powers under the byelaws, however we do refer to these, as we have enforcement rights under these byelaws.

I can confirm that in the time periods requested, the Trust has not enforced any byelaws by way of criminal prosecution.

Yet time and time again more such rules and regulations are churned out, such for instance as the winter mooring byelaws that the National Association of Boat Owners condemned for its three different versions all with errors making a it a 'shoddy publication'. (Three differing versions of 'Terms & Conditions' causing confusion.)

But why bother with 13 pages of what has proved to be worthless rules and regulations if it just joins the scores of other such byelaws that will never be enforced?

Is it just perhaps yet another way of a 'chief' being employed, joining the many others that this regime spends so much of its money on?  One thing is for sure, whoever it is hasn't a clue of even basic typography. And that reflects badly on the trust.

chesterfieldNorwoodLocksSomething different

As it is holiday time, how about something a little different?  Though still relating to the waterways—Chesterfield Canal in fact.

The challenge set by the Chesterfield Canal Trust is to have the last nine miles from Norwood Tunnel, under the M1 Motorway towards Chesterfield all finished by 2027, and a right job it will be, with many suggestion still being aired about now to tackle the tunnel and that mostly demolished Norwood Flight of locks up to it (as pictured) with just a couple of locks at the bottom still in existence

And there's the hope of opening the navigation onto the Rother to Sheffield and thus the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation, thus allowing access from the system without having to risk the tidal Trent, that many boaters will not entertain.

SpireAnyway, the way the trust is going, the 2027 date could be realised and once again the 240 years old waterway will be restored to allow boaters into Chesterfield.

And for something different.  For many miles cruising before the town is reached by the Chesterfield Canal the sky is dominated by our famous Crooked Spire of St. Mary and All Saints Church.

Constructed around 1360, surely those workers would never be aware of how famous is was to become and known world-wide, for though many spires are twisted, it is the only one of its kind that also leans, hence its name as 'crooked'.

It is believed it was certainly not meant to be so, and so come the conjectures as to why it not only twists 45% but also leans 9ft 6ins off centre.

Of course, the actual reason is not known, or perhaps lost in time, but conjectures are plenty.

It is accepted that the spire was originally built straight and the most realistic is that the weight of the estimated 30 odd tons of lead on what was to be discovered poor wooden structure caused the spire to tilt. Then there's the thinking that the sun shining on the south side warms the lead more quicker than the north side and the short comings of the original wood installation could not stand the expansion.

InsideSpireThen comes the reason being that the lead was added to one side before the other, and again the poor supporting wood could not stand how the weight was distributed. (The picture shows the added timber needed to strengthen.)

Leaving the realms of sensible possibilities comes the devil.  He mischievously wrapping his tail around the structure it being a church, but when the bells were rung they so startled him that in his hurry to get away it damaged the spire for all to see. The devil again as a local farrier drove a nail through his foot, and as he fled in agony caught the spire changing its structure forever.

Personally, I go for the reason being that the spire was so amazed at a virgin bride being married that it turned in surprise, bowing in admiration of her beauty then found it could not get back...until, it is believed, another virgin bride passes through its doors to get married, when it will straighten once again—in shock!

All the best for the New Year

Victor Swift