Oct 142013

JP2 LengthmenHi everyone,

Saturday 19th October draws near and our trip on the John Pinkerton is shaping up very nicely. I can now confirm that we will be on JP2 our new boat. While it would have been nice to have had one last farewell trip on the old boat, JP2 is much more comfortable.

I can also confirm that Roger Cansdale will give an entertaining presentation on the way up to King John’s Castle, and that BCA Canal Manager Fiona Shipp will also be joining us and will be happy to chat and answer all your questions.

I currently have a total of 34 confirmed which just leaves 14 of you to respond and it would be really nice to have you with us. We depart Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham at 14.30, returning about 17.30. The trip is completely free for Lengthsmen and just £5 for guests. We have a licensed bar and there is always the Waterwitch Pub afterwards for a drink or even dinner. (Please only reply if you have not yet done so, thanks.)

Lock cleaning & tidying. I have been asked by the rangers to see if a group of us can help with a program of light work in the locks. Let me explain;

Using a work boat we will enter each lock and proceed though. As the water level changes we will carry out a few simple housework tasks which will include, fixing a cill marker to the lock wall, remove weed and moss from the walls and gates, and remove any debris from the floor of the lock.  We will then move on to the next lock and thus do all 29! This is a BIG ask, I know. I also appreciate that it could be way too energetic and dirty for some. However, on the plus side we get to mess around on the canal, see it from a different point of view, learn some new skills, meet other Lengthsmen, and save the rangers a huge amount of man hours work.

This whole scheme will kick off with a day of training ‘on the job’. Monday 4th November at 10.00 at the work boat moored at Bridge Barn, Woking (km7.4). From there we go upstream to lock 7 the first of the St. John’s flight. Ranger Andy Loader will be training us to do the required work safely and efficiently. Everything, gloves, overalls and all tools and kit will be provided. I then expect to start working the following day and work our way up the St Johns flight. However, depending on who is available and when we could head down to lock 6 and then work our way to the Wey!

You can help on many levels, from simply moving the work boat to different locations, to joining the team to do the actual work and on to act as a project leader in my absence. Working perhaps 3 – 4 days a week you would be able to pick and choose what is most convenient for you, never forgetting the key word in this entire scheme is ‘volunteer’.  It is envisaged that we would complete the project before Christmas.

Our first step is to do the training on Monday November 4th. Please, please if you think you can spare any time and get involved in any way it would be very much appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to contact me to volunteer or for further details. Looking forward very much to hearing from you soon.

Two little problem areas. The stretch between locks 27 and 28 is losing water, and it’s not altogether clear why. As foul play could be one explanation perhaps you could keep an extra observant eye out.

Up at Fleet some recent militant and illegal parking in the BCA car park and access at Reading Road Wharf has led to a ranger and vehicle being trapped. Obviously this is not right and if you can spot any offenders and perhaps report a licence plate number we could help solve this problem before it gets out of hand. Naturally only if you are near to these two areas.

Friday October 4th.  I had a meeting with representatives of the Surrey Wildlife Trust about their River Search Project. This is an initiative to get people on the ground or in our case at the water’s edge to be aware of the health of the county’s canals, rivers and wetlands and to take on tasks like surveying for Wildlife like Otters an Water Voles, identifying pollution threats, sampling and testing the water and a host of other small tasks that we could easily do. In the spring they will make a presentation which will explain everything and then offer a one day training course to all who are interested in helping with this project.

Sunday October 6th. On a glorious day assisted by lengthsmen John and Rus as well as Mrs Rus, we moved the work boat from Coxheath Bridge (Km35.0) up to Yew Tree Copse (Km43.5). This was of particular interest to these two as it was John who reported the serious breach at Km 38.5 just on a year ago. His alertness and quick reporting prevented a rather serious breach. Then Rus was on site to report the Dogmersfield land slip just before Easter this year. Being in the right place at the right time, he made possible a very fast response by the rangers. Having the chance to cruise past these two points was extremely satisfying for both and made a very pleasant trip extra special. I can think of no other finer examples of the value of the Lengthsman Scheme.

The Rangers Bi-annual Inspection walk is scheduled for the end of October. This is a rare chance to walk with the ranger responsible for your length and see the canal through their eyes. If you fancy getting involved keep October 20 to 31st free. As soon as I can confirm dates I will.

Another Workshop? Following our well received Water Management Workshop in August it has been suggested that we hold a similar event and tackle a new topic in the New Year. I have some ideas but what about you? Any thoughts? Any pet subjects? Anything unclear? Your thoughts please.

Winter Works Advance Warning. (From the BCA)

“Swingbridge” workboat (Surrey Care Trust) is working in Woking area during October but should be easily passable.

Closure of Malthouse Bridge in Hampshire from Mon 28th October for all of November. No boats will be able to pass under this bridge as it will be dewatered for brickwork repairs.

Closure of Woodham flight January 2014 through to mid February 2014 for replacement of lower gates at Lock 5

Closure of Brookwood flight January 2014 through to mid February 2014 for replacement of Lower gates at Lock 14

One other lower set of gates still to be confirmed in either St Johns or Deepcut to be done at the same time as the others.

Mooring construction works at the canal centre Mytchett during November. This may cause the odd temporary delay while posts are being driven from the work boat. Approach slowly and make the Rangers aware of your presence and they will move out of the way.

Offside cutting will be taking place in Hampshire this winter. Work is mainly carried out from the dredger and shouldn’t obstruct boating. However always approach the dredger slowly and make the ranger team aware of your presence. They will provide further instruction if required.

A contractor will be carrying out winter towpath cuts over sections of the canal (12km in total) which might result in some temporary towpath closures during the winter. We will give more detail nearer the time. This cut will be quite significant and will also remove saplings right up to the waters edge from the towpath side.

The Canal Society will be working on a new landing stage at N. Warnborough lift bridge, installing piles over 3 weekends from 27th October. There may be a temporary closure for a few hours while piles are being driven.

That’s about it. Please remember it is always good to hear from you, even if it’s only to say “nothing to report”.

Enjoy the autumn.