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Is the current infrastructure really any worse than the 70s 80s?


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I've paid a bit of attention going through locks today and one thing I reckon has reduced is the amount of "little boys" as my mum used to call them, water spouting out from the brick work when going down in locks.  There was only one lock today in the S&W where we would have got a wet floor if the centre doors were open but it used to be nearly every lock you would get wet 

Edited by Rob-M
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36 minutes ago, cuthound said:

The condition of the locks, towpath and depth of canal improved steadily through the 70's and 80's and peaked by the mid 90's.

 

 

 

I think that is what a lot of us have said - peaked in the mid-late 90s and gone backwards ever since.

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On 15/04/2022 at 16:35, Rob-M said:

Just had a CRT guy out at Compton Lock, branch stuck in gate paddle so lock wasn't emptying particularly well.  Someone called it in about an hour ago and the CRT guy arrived with his keb and dragged the branch out.  Pretty good service on a bank holiday Friday.

In the sixties we carried our own Keb and cleared minor things ourselves .

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1 minute ago, Ogwr said:

In the sixties we carried our own Keb and cleared minor things ourselves .

Which does imply that things are definitely better now than then, seeing as how we don't need to any more. That being said, got my back deck power washed at Quoisley lock this morning. Got my shoes clean, too. 

There was a notice on a broken paddle at the previous lock, report noted as June 2021, I think. Someone had amended the expected repair date from 2023 to some time next century.

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19 minutes ago, Arthur Marshall said:

There was a notice on a broken paddle at the previous lock, report noted as June 2021, I think. Someone had amended the expected repair date from 2023 to some time next century.

 

Did it have one of those expensive-looking yellow covers over the windlass pedestal, clearly designed and made for the job?

 

Fitting one of those seems to sort of 'legitimise' the year-long delay it seems to take to get a busted paddle fixed nowadays. You'd think they'd have sorted out how to fix broken paddles in a few hours by now instead of many months. They can't STILL come as a total surprise to the CRT management.

"Core business" and all that.

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15 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

Did it have one of those expensive-looking yellow covers over the windlass pedestal, clearly designed and made for the job?

 

Fitting one of those seems to sort of 'legitimise' the year-long delay it seems to take to get a busted paddle fixed nowadays. You'd think they'd have sorted out how to fix broken paddles in a few hours by now instead of many months. They can't STILL come as a total surprise to the CRT management.

"Core business" and all that.

 

That yellow bag was there last year I think it says something like "Under repair". It should say "Not under repair until the other paddle breaks".  Can anyone provide a sensible reason why C&RT don't fix the paddle and prevent a stoppage. They would also get a tick in their dismal KPI record.

Parry - "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power"

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13 minutes ago, Midnight said:

 

That yellow bag was there last year I think it says something like "Under repair". It should say "Not under repair until the other paddle breaks".

 

Ah yes, that grates. It's not "Under repair" at all is it?

 

"Awaiting repair" would be the true state of affairs and more honest.

 

 

 

 

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I know you all like a good quiz so here's two pics from my 2021 Llangollen trip both taken on the same day.

Q: When resources are scarce which one is more important to spend money on?

     A: Fixing the broken Paddle
     B: Erecting the blue sign marking a winding hole


Mr Parry: I already have you down for 'B'

 

 

llangollen.jpg

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2 hours ago, Midnight said:

I know you all like a good quiz so here's two pics from my 2021 Llangollen trip both taken on the same day.

Q: When resources are scarce which one is more important to spend money on?

     A: Fixing the broken Paddle
     B: Erecting the blue sign marking a winding hole


Mr Parry: I already have you down for 'B'

 

 

llangollen.jpg

 

 

Winding 'ole signs are critically important, as they are virtually invisible to the naked eye. 

 

 

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On 15/04/2022 at 17:13, PaulJ said:

It is a generally good system (I love it) but Eaton Socon lock has been shut since Xmas and not due for reopening until approx Mid May. Quite a stoppage for an unexpected replacement of a  pair of gates! Even CRT manage to accomplish some rather more major repairs in this time.

So swings and roundabouts I reckon 😀

And Godmanchester Lock reopening was a good week later than originally said and even then the electrics failed on the first day.

 

And I love it too.

 

Edited by pearley
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The mid 60s were grim, there was no guessing where you'd spend the night , get near the bank or even find a through passage.  Sticking to a main line like The G.U. was more predictable than exploring a tributary like The S.U. Trying your luck on streams like The Caldon was foolhardy.  Yards like Double Pennant advised against such horrors and wanted everyone to buy Microplus or Loftus Bennet with Perkins outboards.

The 70s saw more boats about and hire boats too. The mere act of shoving steel hulls and large cruisers around like Maid Line had started to make less used canals deeper and more navigable.  But most of the system was still unmaintained and a lot of us were carrying old tins of used engine oil to pour over paddle gear as we travelled.

The 80s weren't too bad, lots of traffic with oodles of hire boats.  I was running around with a pair of Small Woolwich and most people were capable of flushing water through to low pounds.  Hire boats were doing so well that sponsoring a hire boat became the thing to do.  Many locksides still sported kebs and no one would have dreamt of calling out Waterways, you just kebbed the bricks out from behind the lock gate and went your merry way.

I carried a Tirfor winch and only shouted for Waterways once when my motor got hopelessly stuck in Rodbaston, and the Tirfor wasn't enough, nor was flushing out.

 

I generally think the infrastructure is better now.  The attitude has changed though.  I don't believe today's boaters are navigators, they want to be customers and expect it all to be maintained in order to make it easy as possible for them. 

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Another change is that today's boaters want the biggest boat they can have where as in the 70's having a small fibreglass cruiser was acceptable.  My parents started with a MicroPlus which 4 of us used to stay on, then moved up to a Shetland and eventually a narrow boat but even then it was less than 50'.

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2 hours ago, MtB said:

 

 

Winding 'ole signs are critically important, as they are virtually invisible to the naked eye. 

 

 

Sadly winding 'oles appear to be all too invisible judging by the number of boats I have seen moored opposite them.

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15 minutes ago, Rob-M said:

Another change is that today's boaters want the biggest boat they can have where as in the 70's having a small fibreglass cruiser was acceptable.  My parents started with a MicroPlus which 4 of us used to stay on, then moved up to a Shetland and eventually a narrow boat but even then it was less than 50'.

Yes, this is so true. We started with a 16' boat in the early 70s, got a 20' homemade, then a 25' GRP Dawncraft, 35' narrowboat, 45' boat extended to 60' and then we sold it. I'm back to a 19' Shetland, but it's enuogh for me to enjoy the canal. The idea that 'I can't get on the canal until I've got a narrowboat' is a complete nonsense to me. 

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13 minutes ago, Rob-M said:

Another change is that today's boaters want the biggest boat they can have where as in the 70's having a small fibreglass cruiser was acceptable.  My parents started with a MicroPlus which 4 of us used to stay on, then moved up to a Shetland and eventually a narrow boat but even then it was less than 50'.

True, but did as many live on boats as do today?

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On 15/04/2022 at 14:58, Midnight said:

The infrastructure remains as it always has, old and in need of constant maintenance. It's the management of it that's in steep decline. Mr Parry's C&RT is not fit for purpose and certainly don't see navigation as a high priority. 

 

15 - 10 years ago we would leave our mooring at Ripon for 3 week holidays without any thought of closures. When things did go wrong they were fixed pretty promptly by local BW staff. Now we are based on the Calder and can cruise all summer but are constantly worrying if we can get out and get back. The Yorkshire and North West is a shambles with stoppage after stoppage. Many of those would have been fixed quickly under BW. Now it's days or even weeks and months. But there are lots of nice cycle paths and loads of pretty blue signs proclaiming it's better by water. Shame it isn't better on the water.

I have been boating on inland waterways for over 50 years (60 if you count unpowered craft). 

I think that the question posed is perhaps unintentionally devisive because infrastructure condition has improved but is now falling back. Also the level of expectation has changed over time. 

 

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be is the current infrastructure really any worse than in 2012?

 

Based on CRT measures of "Stewardship Score" and "Asset Condition" it has improved. 

 

However, over the last ten years mid year stoppages have increased significantly from about eight per day to about 14 last year. 

 

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I checked my scoresheet from an 80's Easter cruise on the BCN and compared it with last December. Mattresses down 84%, dead dogs down 100%.

 

As someone said earlier, a long gangplank was always an essential whereas after so long with it sat on the roof unused, mine is now in my garage, available for 'special occasions'. Not necessarily always a good thing, I'll grant thee, but my wussy Ship's Dog wouldn't cross it anyway! Maybe Ship's Dogs have gone downhill since the 80s?

 

I think some things are better and some things aren't what they were on the waterways, but that probably applies to Britain in general. Even nostalgia isn't what it was...

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On 15/04/2022 at 11:58, Rambling Boater said:

I first started boating in the early 80s.  To those who still remember boating in the 70s and 80s and have current experience has the infrastructure really got worse overall? I'm not so sure.

I do wonder if anyone checks old stone bridges.  I've seen some pretty dodgy looking ones and wondered if I should report them but not sure who I would contact. 

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10 hours ago, Allan(nb Albert) said:

I have been boating on inland waterways for over 50 years (60 if you count unpowered craft). 

I think that the question posed is perhaps unintentionally devisive because infrastructure condition has improved but is now falling back. Also the level of expectation has changed over time. 

 

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be is the current infrastructure really any worse than in 2012?

 

Based on CRT measures of "Stewardship Score" and "Asset Condition" it has improved. 

 

However, over the last ten years mid year stoppages have increased significantly from about eight per day to about 14 last year. 

 

 Of course parts of the system are better now than in the 70's but it has certainly been in steep decline over the past few years. I remember a breach on the Macclesfield in 90's. We hired from Claymore and was given the stoppage notice by Derek Simpson as we set off. By the time we reached Marple it was fixed. 

 

Here in Yorkshire it's a joke. four escape routes none of which is anything like reliable. The Leeds & Liverpool often closed by breaches, locks and swing bridges! The Huddersfield regularly closed, the Rochdale unreliable (we had no other option but to return that way last year - 4 stoppages in 5 days).  Then there's the Trent if you can reach it. Thorne Lock currently closed until end of May. And if you think that's bad ask the boaters at Ripon what they think about C&RT's "Stewardship Score".

 

How can anyone plan a trip with confidence?

Edited by Midnight
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On both the Llangollen and the T&M there are stoppages waiting to happen as paddles are left unrepaired for years. Whether this is worse than it was thirty years ago I can't really remember. I can certainly remember getting a spanner out to repair lock mechanisms, but then I still do.

What will finish a lot of busy locks off is getting rid of lock keepers. I still think expecting Grindley Brook to survive without anyone in charge at the height of the season is insanity.

8 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

Is that a rhetorical question or do you really want / need an answer ?

You can't really plan any trip, any category,  with confidence. Traffic jams, flight cancellations, bust locks - it only takes one small defect to muck up the whole event chain. The only one you can definitely be sure of is a five mile walk, and then you'll probably twist your ankle climbing a rotten stile.

Boating's no worse than anything else.

Edited by Arthur Marshall
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24 minutes ago, Arthur Marshall said:

On both the Llangollen and the T&M there are stoppages waiting to happen as paddles are left unrepaired for years. Whether this is worse than it was thirty years ago I can't really remember. I can certainly remember getting a spanner out to repair lock mechanisms, but then I still do.

What will finish a lot of busy locks off is getting rid of lock keepers. I still think expecting Grindley Brook to survive without anyone in charge at the height of the season is insanity.

You can't really plan any trip, any category,  with confidence. Traffic jams, flight cancellations, bust locks - it only takes one small defect to muck up the whole event chain. The only one you can definitely be sure of is a five mile walk, and then you'll probably twist your ankle climbing a rotten stile.

Boating's no worse than anything else.

 

Grindley Brook without anyone in charge will test a few tempers? I guess C&RT will place a number of blue signs explaining where the nearest A&E dept is.

 

Confidence levels for escaping and returning to Yorkshire waterways are a lot lower than the other categories. I never heard of anyone stuck in traffic or at an airport for months on end. On the other hand .................................

Edited by Midnight
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2 minutes ago, Midnight said:

 

Grindley Brook without anyone in charge will test a few tempers? I guess C&RT will pace a number of blue signs explaining where the nearest A&E dept is.

 

Confidence levels for escaping and returning to Yorkshire waterways are a lot lower than the other categories. I never heard of anyone stuck in traffic or at an airport for months on end. On the other hand .................................

Yes I have my fingers crossed for trouble free cruising this year in Yorkshire 

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1 minute ago, peterboat said:

Yes I have my fingers crossed for trouble free cruising this year in Yorkshire 

Unless you are already here it's going to be like Russian Roulette with 5 bullets and one empty chamber. 

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