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Canal Company rules for the towpath

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In the modern world of the CRT the towpath is open to all, but there was a time when only the boatmen, their horses and canal workers were allowed on the towpath and this was a long standing view point set in stone and enforced through fines mentioned in bye laws.

 

In a notice for the Dudley Canal Navigation dated August 16th, 1784 the following was included:

 

Great Damage having frequently been done to the banks and fences  of said canal, by persons unlawfully angling, bathing and riding along the towing path thereof;: All persons are desired to desist therefrom, or they will in future be prosecuted from the same.

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Access to L&LC towpaths was reviewed in 1961, with the following report being produced. The halfpenny day ticket dates from 1908, one bankranger having been hit on the head by two old ladies who thought he was begging when he asked for their half pence to walk on the towpath.

1961 towpath access 122.jpg

1961 towpath access 123.jpg

half-penny receipt.jpg

  • Greenie 1

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A few years back you used to have to pay BW for a cycle permit to use the towpath and display it

 

The problem is who is going to stop people to ask for their permit and is the cost of doing so worth it, when it was only £5

for the yearly permit

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19 minutes ago, max's son said:

A few years back you used to have to pay BW for a cycle permit to use the towpath and display it

 

The problem is who is going to stop people to ask for their permit and is the cost of doing so worth it, when it was only £5

for the yearly permit

 

The only cost will be printing and distributing if they get the volockie to check cycling permits. If reintroduced however (and that's debatable if it reduces the visior numbers and results in their grant being reduced) the cost should reflect at least their costs, amd preferably a bit more to cover any additional towpath maintenance  costs incurred.

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The folk lore of the cut is that towpath's were protected from becoming rights of way in their enabling legislation, and that, as a result it is more likely that the towpath of an abandoned canal is a right of way as the enabling legislation has been repealed. I think it more likely that, from day one, canal companies were vigilant about who was allowed on their towpaths and so public rights of way never became established by default. It is undoubtedly easier to manage a canal if the towpath is not a right of way, as closure for maintenance and excluding undesirables is so much easier. 

2 hours ago, Pluto said:

Access to L&LC towpaths was reviewed in 1961, with the following report being produced. The halfpenny day ticket dates from 1908, one bankranger having been hit on the head by two old ladies who thought he was begging when he asked for their half pence to walk on the towpath.

 

 

 

 

You do come up with some delightful bits of canal history Mike! I wonder which research agenda would cover that one... 

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You may have heard of the trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932, but they were behind the times, with a mass trespass taking place on L&LC property in 1911. Some documents outlining the case, which was won by the local trespassers, are below.

P9152344.JPG

P9152345.JPG

P9152346.JPG

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I remember seeing temporary signs at towpath entrances in Penkridge (Staffs & Words) noting that the towpath was closed for one day (Jan 1st). At the time I assumed that was to prevent the towpath from becoming a right of way. This was around 1964, and until I noticed the "for one day" bit the sign was very disturbing because not using the towpath would add a mile or so to my walk to school.

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I cannot be certain whether it applies to all Canal towpaths, but certainly the Canal sections of the K & A are not a public right of way, what the public has is what is known as "Permitted Access" which can be withdrawn at any time by the Navigation Authority. I discovered this during the Foot and Mouth outbreak some years ago, when I was Parish Clerk  and had to organize the temporary closure of all footpaths, and the placement of notices, in the Parish. As part of the process I had to contact all landowners who had public footpaths on their land, the longest of which was the canal towpath from Dundas Aqueduct to Avoncliffe Aqueduct.  I contacted BW who informed me that they were already in the process of closing the towpath under the "Permitteed Access" provisions. I checked the accuracy of BW's assertion with the County Council Rights of Way Officer, who confirmed that the information given to me by them was correct

Edited by David Schweizer

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I can clearly remember as a boy having to stand in front of the British Waterways Board Area Engineer (Len Barnard) in his office at Reservoir House, Icknield Port and having to justify why I wanted a Towpath Permit, an annual event for me up to about 1975 and which was always granted at a minimal cost to me.

 

In the 1990's I had to have a Cycle Permit, which I acquired at the Stop House, Braunston at no charge - a nonsense in my opinion :captain:

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25 minutes ago, pete harrison said:

 

 

In the 1990's I had to have a Cycle Permit, which I acquired at the Stop House, Braunston at no charge - a nonsense in my opinion :captain:

I had one of them as well form there, in a little plastic holder that let the rain in

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It was refreshing to see that much of the Bridgewater canal towpath is no cycling, and in the main there were no cyclists in those areas.  So presumably there is some enforcement.

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1 hour ago, john6767 said:

It was refreshing to see that much of the Bridgewater canal towpath is no cycling, and in the main there were no cyclists in those areas.  So presumably there is some enforcement.

Enforcement takes many forms! This awaits the unwary cyclist on the Aylesbury Arm... 😱

20190804_152821.jpg

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On 21/08/2019 at 11:05, john6767 said:

It was refreshing to see that much of the Bridgewater canal towpath is no cycling, and in the main there were no cyclists in those areas.  So presumably there is some enforcement.

I don't think so. Sustrans have upgraded it from Dunham to Manchester city centre. and it has become a race track. I have cycled from Dunham to the M6 on occasion with no repercussions

  • Greenie 1

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7 hours ago, Cheshire cat said:

I don't think so. Sustrans have upgraded it from Dunham to Manchester city centre. and it has become a race track. I have cycled from Dunham to the M6 on occasion with no repercussions

Certainly the bit through Sale allowed cyclists, there was a sticker over the no cycling sign (on the board with all the do’s and don’ts) on that section that said cycling was allowed.  The other areas to the west, in the main at least, that was not the case and there were still the no cycling signs at each access point, and very few cyclists actually on the towpath.

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It is perhaps a topical subject that cyclists have come to be mentioned in this thread. Since the creation of CRT the towpaths have become more accessible to walkers and cyclists. In this respect there is a historical case of recording such a change. In Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester for example has lead to the making of new access routes to the canal side.

 

In Birmingham the process has been on going since the 1990's after the canals there were dredged and toxic materials from the days of chemical works and gas industry removed., such work included the ICC canal frontage, the Brindley Place development. and the various Worcester Wharf schemes. That trend has continued to include the Oozells Lopp and now  is extending to the Icknield Port Loop.

 

Work on the Oozells after the old Sheepcote Street factories were demolished or adapted.-

 

    

648910.jpg

Edited by Heartland

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The Surrey Canal was not keen on Children playing there

 

RCHS Hugh Compton Collection 40441

40441.jpg

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As I understood it, people weren't allowed to go along the towpath unless they had a boat up until the 90s? Am I wrong in thinking that?

 

I have a vague recollection of walking through Little Venice in the mid-late 90s and fences were all locked and you couldn't get onto the towpath, unless you hopped over the fence. I could have been wrong but that does feel somewhat familiar.

 

When did the towpath open up to all and sundry to walk along?

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21 minutes ago, NB Caelmiri said:

As I understood it, people weren't allowed to go along the towpath unless they had a boat up until the 90s? Am I wrong in thinking that?

 

I have a vague recollection of walking through Little Venice in the mid-late 90s and fences were all locked and you couldn't get onto the towpath, unless you hopped over the fence. I could have been wrong but that does feel somewhat familiar.

 

When did the towpath open up to all and sundry to walk along?

I don't know about Little Venice, but the towpath on the BCN was definitely locked to the public back in the 1960's. There were 7ft walls adjacent to every bridge with a locked 6ft wooden door for access by keyholders only.

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Just now, David Schweizer said:

I don't know about Little Venice, but the towpath on the BCN was definitely locked to the public back in the 1960's. There were 7ft walls adjacent to every bridge with a locked 6ft wooden door for access by keyholders only.

My 1969 BCN guide showed the location of access points to the towpath on the maps - essential as there were so few of them. I annotated my copy with the location a few hole-in-the-fence type accesses I found as I walked the towpaths as a teenager in the 70s. Nobody ever told me I shouldn't be there.

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29 minutes ago, David Schweizer said:

I don't know about Little Venice, but the towpath on the BCN was definitely locked to the public back in the 1960's. There were 7ft walls adjacent to every bridge with a locked 6ft wooden door for access by keyholders only.

 

I remember visiting Birmingham by boat in the early 70's and although the tow path was open to the public in places, the high walls and gates were still in existence.

Edited by cuthound

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38 minutes ago, David Mack said:

My 1969 BCN guide showed the location of access points to the towpath on the maps - essential as there were so few of them. I annotated my copy with the location a few hole-in-the-fence type accesses I found as I walked the towpaths as a teenager in the 70s. Nobody ever told me I shouldn't be there.

I was bought up near Salford Bridge and spent most of my youth (from about 8 years old) on the canals of Birmingham. I was usually stopped at Garrison Locks and would have to show my Towpath Permit in order to continue whatever I was doing - and I am pretty sure I was stopped at Perry Bar Locks as well. 'Young' Charlie Atkins would want to see my Permit now and then, although he ended up 'giving me the nod' to help boats through Farmers Bridge and Aston Locks during weekends and school holidays. I think the requirement to carry a Towpath Permit ended in about 1975, but getting onto the towpath of the Birmingham canals remained a challenge :captain:

 

Edited by pete harrison

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Perhaps CRT is missing a trick here.

The earlier canal companies were worried about people simply walking on the towpaths.

Modern towpath activities range from simply walking and cycling to angling, magnet fishing, selling and even administering drugs,and the provision of sexual services.

Selling permits for all these things could be a huge source of revenue.

And there is no need to put volunteers at risk,collecting the money.

In Hull marina,which they own, they already employ a firm of parking enforcement heavies who demand cash on the spot, and march people to ATM's to get cash if they are carrying none.( I know this to be true from the account of the wife of a friend, who was so intimidated by being told to get into a van with strange men that she called the Police and insisted that an officer accompany her).

There must be plenty of such agencies in the larger cities.

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