Victor tells of ten closures so far this month

Published: Sunday, 09 April 2023

YES, my friends, the canal closures since Saturday the 1st April—just eight dayshave now crept up to ten!

What a record for the end of winter maintenanceit surely breaks them all!

And most obviously prompts the questionwhat winter maintenance?

But what of you boaters planning a cruise over this holiday period? It has been somewhat dicey for a while now, especially on the northern canals that seem to take the brunt of the closures.

With the Regent's having a lock gate that will not work, two paddle failures on a lock on the Hanwell Flight on the Grand Union and the Winkwell on the blink again also on the Grand Union, there are still problems southwards however.

LeedsLockI wonder about their future

But it is the northern canals with failure after failure, that must give boaters the most problems of where to cruise.

Of these recent failures three are on the Aire & Calder, with Leeds River Lock (pictured) connecting it with the Leeds & Liverpool, then the Caldon, the Rochdale and the Huddersfield Narrow all having closures.

Before this batch, during February and March, when the waterways had little use, the two most popular waterways, the Leeds & Liverpool and Rochdale failed five times, including two more in March on the Aire & Calder making a mockery of the desire to have it return to carrying freight.

It may seem a ludicrous statement, but the continuing failures of these northern canals, especially after the end of winter maintenance makes me wonder about their future.

BoatInLiftThe way to get round it

Should you undertake an advanced booking as instructed by CaRT it will incur a booking charge on the Anderton Boat Lift.

Yet it states that the next available passage is free of all charges!

It seems CaRT being very subtle in making sure that it does not infringe the charging rules as laid down when the lift was refurbished. So no charge for its use perhaps, but a charge to book it's use!

Boaters need only to wait until they get there and are ready to take the trip before booking the next available lift. That way it will not incur a charge!

That's the question...

A very good question indeed from a boater about CaRT who asks:

"What I can't understand Tom is, as they've now just about sacked all their blue collar workers who do the suits actually manage?"

Exactly!  And all those 31 new appointments advertised of managers, supervisors and the like—what on earth will they find to do?

Other than take their salaries of course.

Lock38MarsdenWill cover a multitude of sins

That new phrase from CaRT describing the stoppage between locks 32E and 42E (Lock 38 pictured) on the Huddersfield Narrow I reckon is a gem!

'Prone to error' will cover a multitude of sins and is much better that the host of excuses of the past. I can see it being well used.

For of course it implies a third party error, never of course one of itself!

This time it told—'prone to error and so a significant water loss'.

Badly leaking lock gates is my guess!  Or perhaps joining with the tunnel restrictions of only open Tuesdays and Fridays.  Take your pick.

Not finished yet

Late news just in before I pressed the button—the Caldon closed again, with a pile of silt below Lock 16, that had already been been cleared last Wednesday by contractors, but obviously not good enough as it has to be cleared yet again as again impassible for boats.

So that makes it eleven closures in nine days at the start of the season.

Victor Swift—telling tales for 23 years.