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magictime

So when were the 'good old days'?

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Doom and gloom seemingly abound on the forum at the minute. Some members seem to think things are getting so bad out there, in terms of maintenance in particular, that the waterways as we know them will cease to exist before long. One or two seem to have given up on boating in despair.

 

This always leaves me a bit mystified, though, as to when things started to tail off. I mean, from what I understand, the canals were in a shocking state by the 60s, then slowly improving through the 70s and 80s as leisure boating took off... then what? Were the early 00s the high point, the time of the opening of the Rochdale, Huddersfield Narrow, and Ribble Link? Or had the rot set in by then? Are things actually worse now than fifteen years ago, say, in terms of the number and seriousness of infrastructure failures in a typical year? Anyone got any figures?

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I haven't  got any figures but I do know the picture painted generally here is different to the actuality I experience on the cut! :boat:

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3 minutes ago, Meanderingviking said:

I haven't  got any figures but I do know the picture painted generally here is different to the actuality I experience on the cut! :boat:

Yes agreed. Doom and gloom it aint. I have travelled in the last 3 months from Nottingham to Bristol and encountered no stoppages or serious breakages. A few leaking locks and a few broken paddles on the way but thats been the same for the last thirty years. There are nose to tail boats in some areas but they havnt stopped me from boating. I am going from Bristol to York next and we will see if anything changes. As for the two publicised breaches of late there have been a few of  those over the years so again not a new phenominen.

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I have a friend who grew up in Camden quite near to the canal. He tells me that in the 60's it was fenced of, and full of bricks, old tyres and dead dogs.

I cruised through that area 2-3 years ago, and it was a delight!

I have too often wondered when were these good old days?

  • Greenie 1

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35 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Yes agreed. Doom and gloom it aint. I have travelled in the last 3 months from Nottingham to Bristol and encountered no stoppages or serious breakages. A few leaking locks and a few broken paddles on the way but thats been the same for the last thirty years. There are nose to tail boats in some areas but they havnt stopped me from boating. I am going from Bristol to York next and we will see if anything changes. As for the two publicised breaches of late there have been a few of  those over the years so again not a new phenominen.

Oh no, I'm agreeing with Mr Smelly again! This is only our 2nd year aboard but recently the CRT seem to have done a pretty good job responding to local problems and looking at the stoppages emails, they've not done a bad job over the whole network. OK there are some biggies like Marple and the two breaches in the north west but sh@t happens and we all screw up from time to time. Now if they'd just get these fat boats off these narrow canals, we'd be in good shape.:)

  • Greenie 1

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37 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Yes agreed. Doom and gloom it aint. I have travelled in the last 3 months from Nottingham to Bristol and encountered no stoppages or serious breakages. A few leaking locks and a few broken paddles on the way but thats been the same for the last thirty years. There are nose to tail boats in some areas but they havnt stopped me from boating. I am going from Bristol to York next and we will see if anything changes. As for the two publicised breaches of late there have been a few of  those over the years so again not a new phenominen.

Please see "North West is Closed" thread in stoppages . Or "Marple" thread . Plenty of doom and gloom in these parts. Marple has been shut since beginning of last October barring a bare 24 hours of openness a couple of weeks ago.

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1991, the first year we rented. Peace and quiet, with no queues at locks, plenty of available spots to stop, fewer linear moorings, and I had hair!!

 

1991, had to knock in pins everywhere, as less piling around. Used the gangplank a lot as couldn’t get near the side, muddy towpaths, dog poo everywhere as who picked up back then?

  • Greenie 1

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'The norrh west is closed'..........etc etc. Rubbish.

We keep our boat near Chester and continue to greatly enjoy our boating.

 

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Any system that is over 200 yrs old will have maintenance problems.

Compounded by the fact that this must be maintained in aspic according to some, makes maintenance the more difficult.

But it works, on the whole. CRT are not perfect, neither am I, but their existence allows me to enjoy the system we have, with all its idiosyncrasies. 

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When I srarted Preston Brook was shut for years, Blisworth was shut for years, The K and A, HNC and Rochdale were all unavigable ....... may be it's not so bad now after all.

Edited by NickF
  • Happy 2

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The long suffering mrs s and i hadthis conversation only yesterday on a long leicester pound. For living we recon 1980 to 1996  few boats little hassle if you obeyed the rules , and live a boards did it out of desire not as a housing option. But rubbish vandalism and aggressive and sometimes violent anglers.

for trundling around now no need to find phoneboxes info easy on tinternet etc

.lots of canals opened in those years rochdale kennet droitwich.

for signs....now foxton is a sea of blue signs. 

Screwfix have run out of um screws..

 

  • Happy 1

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Thanks all! Looks like it not just me, then, who doesn't really recognise this image of a system going to rack and ruin, where boats are in danger of becoming an endangered species. 

 

IMHO it's a bloody miracle that any of this 250-year-old haulage system survived the growth of the railway and then the road networks to be available for use by leisure and liveaboard boaters today. When you consider that 60 years ago the network really was facing total dereliction and abandonment, with major routes like the K&A and Rochdale out of use, I find it pretty hard to see what we have today as anything but a thriving and even improving system.

 

But of course it could be that I'm taking too long-term a view there, that in fact we passed some sort of tipping point five or ten or twenty years ago, and that the canals will shortly be facing oblivion again. Which is why I was curious to see what people might say to back up the idea that 'things aren't what they used to be'.

Edited by magictime
  • Greenie 3

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"Sometimes when the future looks uncertain the only horizon we can see is the one that recedes from us into the past, then we tell ourselves things were so much better, grander and more exciting.

No matter we can see it now only in fragments the world was more complete."

  • Greenie 1

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We have had wonderful times since we retired 2 years ago. We spend 7 or 8 months cruising with very few problems. It’s lovely on the canals. Most of the boaters I speak with when out boating share my views. I guess that people who want to moan do tend to come to forums such as this to do so. I didn’t boat 20 or 30 years ago but did fish. The canals back then were far from perfect.

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Who mentioned "Good old days?" It's the state of the canals in our area today that are worrying. This year we and several other colleagues had to cancel a trip to Chester, we know at least three of them who are currently heading for Liverpool with fingers crossed. Marple is a no go area for outward or inward cruising. The pound above our moorings is 12"down because a third of the weir boards are missing. There is no date set to fix them so boats are sat on the bottom on the moorings. The pound below is 6" above normal because contractors rebuild the weir below too high, which means the flood lock has to be used in all but lowest river level and the indicator boards are 6" out. The ground paddle culvert at Broadcut lock is stuck open (and has been for years) requiring all 3 (1 broken) lower paddles to be lifted else you can't open the gates. Same at Thornes lock. Several other locks on the Calder have just 1 paddle (how long before there's another stoppage?) The swing bridge at Rodley requires an athlete on steroids to open it. Maybe it's just here oooop norf but apart from that I agree CaRT are doing a great job.

 

Now will someone please help me get this bear trap off my leg.

bear-trap.jpg.8aa0416ab109b9f3d8780898f7eba6cc.jpg

 

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24 minutes ago, Midnight said:

Who mentioned "Good old days?" It's the state of the canals in our area today that are worrying. This year we and several other colleagues had to cancel a trip to Chester, we know at least three of them who are currently heading for Liverpool with fingers crossed. Marple is a no go area for outward or inward cruising. The pound above our moorings is 12"down because a third of the weir boards are missing. There is no date set to fix them so boats are sat on the bottom on the moorings. The pound below is 6" above normal because contractors rebuild the weir below too high, which means the flood lock has to be used in all but lowest river level and the indicator boards are 6" out. The ground paddle culvert at Broadcut lock is stuck open (and has been for years) requiring all 3 (1 broken) lower paddles to be lifted else you can't open the gates. Same at Thornes lock. Several other locks on the Calder have just 1 paddle (how long before there's another stoppage?) The swing bridge at Rodley requires an athlete on steroids to open it. Maybe it's just here oooop norf but apart from that I agree CaRT are doing a great job.

 

Now will someone please help me get this bear trap off my leg.

bear-trap.jpg.8aa0416ab109b9f3d8780898f7eba6cc.jpg

 

I'm here oop north as well - I think you were helping with some of the locks at Bingley Five Rise last week as we were coming up, in fact (thanks!) - so of course I recognise some of those issues and the inconvenience they cause. We had to head the long way round last year because of the Marple stoppage, for instance, and yes, that swing bridge is a particular favourite of my wife!

 

But are things actually getting worse, in general, and if so when did this trend begin after the decades of restoration and improvement that started in the late 60s? That's my question, and that's why I used the phrase 'the good old days'. (If things are worse now - enough that people who used to enjoy boating now feel it may be time to leave the water - they must have been significantly better at some point in the past.)

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I think the usage & attitude towards the cut has changed in "my days" of boating 1958/72 working & hotel boating the majority of boaters were canal enthusiasts & the boats were not purpose built in a lot of cases, pontoon conversions , ex ships life boats & ply wood home built cruisers & a number of ex working craft that would be cut in half etc., the system was in a state but folk didn't have as high expectations & were prepared to do a bit of DIY to get on. The boat #'s were far fewer & the "i'm going to buy a boat & live on it" was not as common a statement  as present day , with the increase in boat numbers has brought an increase in rule bending or non compliance + the seeming ly present day MeMeMe attitude in all walks of life has brought more rules & regs by both BW & C&RT It seems that the condition of the system re the water part is better although to me it seems more failures /stoppages,  winter closures; possibly more traffic but lack of maintenance I'm sure plays its part.  the purpose of use & modern expectations is a different ball game to the days of the first volunteer refurbishment of the system in the 60's/  70s for my own part through my 83 years of life at the time you remember the bad bits years later with hindsight & rosie  goggles it"s the good bits  My hope is that future generations can enjoy the system in their time spans as I did with my time on the cut

  • Greenie 2

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1994 was a good era for me, lots of parties and ladies, i had long flowing hair and a slim waist, no idea what the canals were like coz i was having fun.

 

For me its about how will the system be in 30 years time, who will be running it, who will own the system...

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Early to mid 80s just before things started "improving"..

 

That said I was pleasantly stoned from '97 to 2000 so those were nice liveaboard times.

 

After that kids, moorings and responsibilities made the shift ashore not such a traumatic event.

 

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9 minutes ago, carlt said:

Early to mid 80s just before things started "improving"..

 

That said I was pleasantly stoned from '97 to 2000 so those were nice liveaboard times.

 

After that kids, moorings and responsibilities made the shift ashore not such a traumatic event.

 

What if "the good old days" were 1997 to 2000 and you missed them? ;)

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I too have been stoned, I estimate along most of The Regents I was also bottled and shot at by air guns.

 

I remember the good old days, one was definitely a Thursday the other was one of my weddings but I can't quite remember which.

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I certainly preferred canals as they were in the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was still much surviving from their commercial carrying days, and many old canal workers to talk to. Canals were still an unknown world to many, so they were much quieter as well. However, keeping them in that condition would have been impossible, and change had to come. It is all part of canal history. There are things I would like to change in the way they are kept today, but they do have more of a future than fifty years ago. For the public to appreciate the heritage they have with regard to their local canal does require more work, which is why I am proud of what the L&LC Society has done with Kennet, taking canal history out to local communities.

  • Greenie 1

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Depends on the liquid in each person's glass, half full or half empty, like most things in life it consists of ups and downs but with an upward trend. 

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After years of hiring, we have owned our boat for the last 32 years - regretfully moored up for most of the time - but it's our own fault - we are fair weather cruisers - and when linked to the early death of a lifelong friend (a cruising companion and crew) we have lost interest - and further linked to our old age and gradual loss of physical abilities - not being strong enough to manhandle a heavy boat and heavy lock gates (jumping across narrow locks is a thing of the past) - where to carry on exposes us to the risk of accidental serious harm suddenly befalling us if we fail to recognise the fact.

What has all this to do with 'boating as we know it?

 

No it is not the infrastructure, my wife says, it's the people. "...they were all friendly in the old days - but not now. These days we seem to meet too many bad mannered and bad tempered impatient people...."

 

 I would add it might be statistically insignificant because it only takes one bad tempered person out of a 100 to spoil the day - albeit it does not matter whether it is a boater, lockie, walker, fisherman, publican, cyclist - or whatever.

 

 

 

  • Greenie 2

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