Not encouraging wide beams on the Oxford Canal

Published: Wednesday, 30 March 2022

I FEEL Brian Jarrett, in his recently published piece (Wide beams on the Oxford costing CaRT) creates a misleading impression, writes Alan N Estherby.

Canal & River Trust have hardly been encouraging wide beams onto the Oxford; indeed notices have been erected by CaRT on both southern approaches to Braunston Junction notifying that the North Oxford is a narrow canal, and wide beams should not use it unless transiting to or from one of two marinas located between Braunston and Hillmorton; such transits must be pre booked and undertaken without stopping, with mooring not permitted anywhere between the marinas and the junction on either the towpath or off sides.

Marinas at fault

The fault here lies with the marinas; it is they who have encouraged wide beams onto this unsuitable waterway, with one (relatively newly built) marina having features specifically designed to accommodate wide beams.

Mr Jarrett also mentions surveys and work being undertaken by CaRT to improve clearances at a couple of specific locations; the locations mentioned are not on the Oxford at all, but are on the Grand Union (Napton Junction to Birmingham section) which is a designated wide canal, suitable for wide beams. It is entirely appropriate that CaRT should be undertaking maintenance along this waterway to ensure wide beams (or breasted up narrowboat pairs) can pass without clearance issues.

Width restriction

As far as the North Oxford is concerned, for the long term I believe a previous correspondent here has suggested installing a width restriction under the A45 road bridge at Braunston to physically prevent wide beams travelling north of Braunston.

This seems to me to be an excellent idea, with appropriate notice being given to wide beam owners based in the marinas affected to enable them to remove their craft to more suitable locations.