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Help with the Rothersthorpe Locks (Northampton Arm)

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I moored below bridge no. 9 last night and single handed up 10 of the 14 locks. All very lovely, plenty of depth and well maintained, I might add. At lock 4 a man calling himself Leon appeared, explained that he was neither an employee or volunteer for CRT but would I like some help?

 

Now I was already prewarned by something that Pipistrelle had mentioned to SWMBO but I was happy to have a bit of help and took the risk. He requested that I did not get off the boat. A reasonable request, I thought, after all what's the point of my getting off the boat if he is working the paddles and gates? I set my terms in reply which were that he was to draw no paddle until he had the OK from me. I also said that I would accept his help only if he had nothing better to do with his time.

 

We went up the last four like fun. He crossed that bottom gates with one open which, on those gates, without walkways, I won't do, drew the paddles as instructed and all was well.

 

At the top lock hw pointed out his sleeping accommodation to me, a one man tent under a corrugated awning beside the hut on the offside of the top lock. Before we left he asked me for a fiver. I had been expecting that so handed it over. I found nothing wrong with what he was doing except for the fact that he did not mention payment at the beginning.

 

Pipistrelle might want to add something but if she doesn't then I will tell what I remember of her story.

 

N

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I moored below bridge no. 9 last night and single handed up 10 of the 14 locks. All very lovely, plenty of depth and well maintained, I might add. At lock 4 a man calling himself Leon appeared, explained that he was neither an employee or volunteer for CRT but would I like some help?

 

Now I was already prewarned by something that Pipistrelle had mentioned to SWMBO but I was happy to have a bit of help and took the risk. He requested that I did not get off the boat. A reasonable request, I thought, after all what's the point of my getting off the boat if he is working the paddles and gates? I set my terms in reply which were that he was to draw no paddle until he had the OK from me. I also said that I would accept his help only if he had nothing better to do with his time.

 

We went up the last four like fun. He crossed that bottom gates with one open which, on those gates, without walkways, I won't do, drew the paddles as instructed and all was well.

 

At the top lock hw pointed out his sleeping accommodation to me, a one man tent under a corrugated awning beside the hut on the offside of the top lock. Before we left he asked me for a fiver. I had been expecting that so handed it over. I found nothing wrong with what he was doing except for the fact that he did not mention payment at the beginning.

 

Pipistrelle might want to add something but if she doesn't then I will tell what I remember of her story.

 

N

A better experience than me.

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Yes he is a known hanger-around on that flight. In our case he did offer help for money, we declined. But then we were in company with the CRT lockie so he had to be upfront. TBH I see no problem with him offering his services for money, he is obviously down on his luck and better to do that than, eg, go stealing. There's worse ways to spend a fiver.

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He's been there for few years , a friend who comes up and down the flight a couple of times a year regularly books his services, reckons it's good value.

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I'm pretty sure this is the same guy who volunteered to help us both up and down the flight a few years back now. He was great, courteous, helpful and hard working.

Bob

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We met him a few years ago and he helped us down the flight and was most pleasant.

We also set ground rules about paddles and refused his request that we did not get off the boat. We also agreed at the outset that we would not give him money but would give him food. He seemed to be very happy with that.

 

Top Cat

  • Greenie 1

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Welcome SD and yes, you have chosen a unique night in the forum's history to post but never mind, it was a good post with which I agree. You've just got your first greenie. Which is pretty good because it took me months to get one!

Edited by nicknorman

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WhiIst some boaters may feel vulnerable to Leon for good reason - for those of us that are OK with him, I hope we can give the chap a break of some type. Clearly he has fallen on hard times and is making an effort. He was upfront with us regarding paying for his services; we share a meal at the top of the flight too. He has been befriended by some local boaters who were a great help - but the underlying issues don't go away easily, I believe.

 

We also came across a small gang of young urchins at Stamp End lock, Lincoln. The one who claimed to be their leader announced that boaters sometimes gave them money or sweets for their help through the lock. And a few minutes later, said that sometimes they don't.

  • Greenie 1

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My word!

I am truly humbled and extremely honoured to receive such an accolade from your goodself!

It really does mean a lot, thank you!

SD

It's your lucky night, someone's given you another one!

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We had help down from Leon once, I had him help draw paddles and open the bottom gates so OH could go and set ahead. Didn't give him any cash, but did give him a windlass, as he said he'd lost the previous one in the cut accidentally.

 

No problems, and would accept his help again if I saw him and he offered- hobblers helping with locks being a fine old canal tradition, after all. Not that we've seen him, the last three times we've been down there.

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We have also encountered Leon three years ago. Unfortunately it wasn't such a positive experience as others seem to have had. He approached us in Northampton Town centre while we were moored near Morrisons and asked if we were going up the locks and if we wanted help, to which we replied, politely but firmly, that we did not want help as we enjoyed doing locks, had a crew of 3 and didn't find the locks to be hard work. Leon also seemed fairly drunk and was drinking from a bottle of cider. We thought no more of this and set off towards the flight. Later on about halfway up the flight we noticed the overflow/side weir on one of the locks flowing fiercely, almost flooding. And then we saw the reason for this, the pound two pounds up from our boat was dry and Leon was there insisting on helping us. I can't be sure he drained the pound but it seems likely, I can't recall exactly which pound it was but when speaking to crt the next day we were told it was not one know to drain, and a boat had been up thw flight a couple of hours before us. Regardless, the delay caused a lot of stress and meant we couldn't get up the locks before dark.

I have absolutely no issue with people accepting help from Leon and would do so myself if single handing these locks, but he should appreciate that some boaters will not want help for whatever reason and to let them be rather than try to force them to accept help.

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Similar experience about three years ago. Leon was NOT drunk, and very polite. However, despite being told on several occasions that we did not require assistance, walked ahead and prepared the locks. Now that in itself might have been helpful, but we did feel uncomfortable. Needless to say, no money exchanged hands although we did proffer cups of tea/coffee whenever we were having one and also bottles of beers (again when we were having one). Perhaps, in hindsight the beer was not a good idea, but we didn't know about his "problems" at the time.

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Yes he did seem to feel some entitlement to the locks and helping all boats that come through. Crt told us at the time they were trying to get some sort of restraining order in place to keep him away. I would say it just needs boaters who do like his help to remind him some boaters will not want help and to accept this.

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I always chat with Leon when he's around, but we don't normally avail ourselves of his services. The exception was when we were following a very slow, very stressed set of newbies up the flight. They wouldn't take help from us, so certainly wouldn't have liked Leon's high-speed style, but I agreed with him that I'd pay him £20 if the newbies never found a lock against them or a low pound (this was in the days when low pounds were endemic....). He did exactly what we'd agreed, and was well worth his money. I don't think the newbies ever twigged.....

 

 

He's fine to deal with, but I have seen him too drunk to be safe around locks. Judgment is required.

 

Cheers,

MP.

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We have also encountered Leon three years ago. Unfortunately it wasn't such a positive experience as others seem to have had. He approached us in Northampton Town centre while we were moored near Morrisons and asked if we were going up the locks and if we wanted help, to which we replied, politely but firmly, that we did not want help as we enjoyed doing locks, had a crew of 3 and didn't find the locks to be hard work. Leon also seemed fairly drunk and was drinking from a bottle of cider. We thought no more of this and set off towards the flight. Later on about halfway up the flight we noticed the overflow/side weir on one of the locks flowing fiercely, almost flooding. And then we saw the reason for this, the pound two pounds up from our boat was dry and Leon was there insisting on helping us. I can't be sure he drained the pound but it seems likely, I can't recall exactly which pound it was but when speaking to crt the next day we were told it was not one know to drain, and a boat had been up thw flight a couple of hours before us. Regardless, the delay caused a lot of stress and meant we couldn't get up the locks before dark.

I have absolutely no issue with people accepting help from Leon and would do so myself if single handing these locks, but he should appreciate that some boaters will not want help for whatever reason and to let them be rather than try to force them to accept help.

That could have been me, he was telling people I didn't know what I was doing, refused his help and drained the pound. I met one of the people he told this to the next week.

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Leons ok, I try not to use his services as I like it just me & the missus & I don't like paying for something I don't have to pay for, & of course I'm steering & she does the locks, & so has a different opinion to me!

I just can't see him draining the pound though. Also I was very pleased he was there when the pounds were so low I wouldn't have even tried, but he seemed to know exactly how much water was just enough for us to get through, & he was right. Also the quickest I've done the arm in was 3 hours, & that was with his help.

I know of a few boaters that regularly book him & probably wouldn't do the arm if it wasn't for his services.

But I do wish he'd wear underwear more often than he does, I don't need to see that!

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We went down that flight a year or two ago. Had to wait overnight at the top whilst CaRT sorted out the empty pounds. Have heard this happens a lot. We declined Leons services on the way down but did have a chat.

On our return we eent up the first few locks with no trouble. I remarked that a lot of water was coming down the bywashes which must be a good sign suggesting there was not likely to be any empty pounds ahead of us. Leon the arrived telling us several pounds ahead of us were empty but he knew how to sort this out. We declined his services and noted that only one pound was very low which we sorted out. Draw your own conclusions as to why so much water was coming down the flight ahead of us?

 

..................Dave

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He helped us up a couple of years ago. Wouldn't take any money so we offered him some alcohol that he gratefully accepted. We got up the flight in bloody good time I might add, well worth it!

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We went down that flight a year or two ago. Had to wait overnight at the top whilst CaRT sorted out the empty pounds. Have heard this happens a lot. We declined Leons services on the way down but did have a chat.

On our return we eent up the first few locks with no trouble. I remarked that a lot of water was coming down the bywashes which must be a good sign suggesting there was not likely to be any empty pounds ahead of us. Leon the arrived telling us several pounds ahead of us were empty but he knew how to sort this out. We declined his services and noted that only one pound was very low which we sorted out. Draw your own conclusions as to why so much water was coming down the flight ahead of us?

 

..................Dave

Yes my conclusion when this happened to us was that a leaking pound couldn't empty that quickly or it would never be navigable. Only the paddles on the gates could empty it that quickly...

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Hmmm... Ascending the flight one morning recently we got to about lock 6 without problems before encountering a low pound, at which a man (carrying an open can of cider) appeared, spoke to us and appointed himself to open paddles above to let water down while we waited. He didn't ask for money or even suggest he expected some either before or after this operation, and didn't get any, There was also a man in an Enterprise hire van going up and down the flight, who I took to be CRT; he spoke to our helper but didn't seem to have any problem with him. It's worth mentioning that there is a CRT stoppage scheduled next month to repair the bottom gate of lock 6. I'm not sure what conclusions to draw.

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Well I have had no bad experiences with Leon, been up and down the flight many times, sometimes declined his offer of help but given him lunch and a beer cause at some time in our life we all need help. On a couple of occasions I have given him a pre negotiated fee for helping.

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