Weil's Disease (Leptospirosis)

Friends of Cromford Canal - 26th October 2010

Prevalent in the news this week is the sad and untimely death of double Olympic gold medal rower Andy Holmes, who succumbed to Weil's disease. With this high profile case, it is important to remind all waterways users of the possible dangers of this infection.

Weil's disease, also known as Leptospirosis, is most typically caught through contact with river water carrying urine from infected animals (particularly rats and cattle). Whilst predominantly associated with water sports on moving water, the possibility of infection for canal users remains, especially if they routinely come into contact with the water. The likelihood is greatly increased during times of high water levels, particularly if following long periods of low water levels.

As a general precaution, water users should ensure that all cuts are kept covered and clean, and anyone presenting flu-like symptoms within several days of possible water contact should seek medical attention - NOTE that is important to inform the doctor of the possibility of Weil's disease as it is not a part of the routine blood test, and in order to treat most effectively it must be diagnosed promptly.

More information can be found here.

Smotherfly Sunday Success

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 28th September 2010

74 Walkers turned out on Sunday (26th September) to support the FCC through the annual sponsored walk, this year running from Langley Mill Basin to Pinxton Wharf. The event was kindly supported by the Langley Mill branch of ASDA (opening later in the year), with water bottles and fruit being provided to all the walkers. In addition, they made a generous donation of 400, which helped to bring the total raised to around 900. Thanks to all who helped out and took part, and we will see you all again next year!

Cutting the ribbon
Richard Jackson, manager of the new ASDA store at Langley Mill, which sponsored the event, cuts the ribbon to get the walkers underway. He is accompanied by Mike Kelley, Vice Chair of the FCC.

Walkers awayWalkers stream away at the start
Sales stand
Whilst at the finish the Sales stand does brisk business!
Thanks to the organisers (predominantly John Barker in the centre - accompanied by his notes) and ASDA for sponsoring the Smotherfly Sunday Plod 2010.

FCC Information boards in the news

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 13 Jun 2010

The Friends' plans to erect two public information boards at Ambergate have been receiving media attention recently, as local authorities try to charge a total of 650 in planning permission fees. This charge is in comparison to a quoted fee of 95.

The information boards are planned to further publicise the canal and restoration attempts, and would be placed on parts of the disused canal at Ambergate. They are being funded by money from the donation made by councillor Blake, as reported elsewhere on the site, but the huge increase in planning fees is forcing the Friends to rethink the way forward.

The council has indicated that the reduced fee does not apply in this instance, since it is intended for buisnesses, and that they cannot waiver such fees since they are set by national government. Further options are being looked at.

More information can be found on waterway watch and narrowboat world.

As a member of the committee, I should stress that this planning issue is something that has arisen since the last full meeting of the committee and so no decisions have yet been taken about future courses of action, but I will bring updates when they become available.




I can now add that progress is being made with the planning applications for a significantly reduced fee. More information as it arises. (13th July 2010)


Success!!! Planning permission has now been granted for the two signs at the reduced fee. The final design of the new boards is being completed at the moment and so we'll hopefully have them up in the near future. (10th October 2010)

Brian Blessed recieves a cheque for FCC

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 20 April 2010

On behalf of the Friends, president Brian Blessed last Monday (12th April) received a cheque for £3,343.48. This money was donated by councillor Juliette Blake, from a community fund given to councillors to spend on good projects. It has to be spent on the section of canal within Juliette's ward.

The cheque was received in Sawmills, after which Brian entertained around 60 people who had turned out to witness the event. He then took the opportunity to visit the works being carried out on the canal by the FCC and the local sivic society in the area.

Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, Brian said:
"The Cromford Canal for me is a miracle. It's so wonderful. I think you're doing such a great job to hold on and keep this project going.Derbyshire, because of places like the Peak District, is without doubt my favourite place and I am thrilled to bits to be here.The courage and imagination here I find incredibly moving. This is going to be a great project. The canal will grow and grow, we'll see it out

He also had this to say to councillor Juliette Blake:
"I think it is so generous of you, £3,000 these days - in a recession, it's very difficult for a charity to find. You display such vision, you have a great heart."

The full article in the Derby Telegraph can be found here.

FCC Awarded £4000 IWA Grant

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 09 February 2010

The Friends of the Cromford Canal (FCC) have been awarded a £4,000 grant from the Inland Waterways Association. (IWA) This grant will go toward the engineering design for the Pinxton Arm of the canal, across the Smotherfly ex-opencast coal site. UK-Coal who owns the site made a diversion channel for the River Erewash whilst working the original course, the Planning Application required UK-Coal to return the site to open land when the river had stabilized back in its original course the river diversion channel filled in and lost as a water feature.
The FCC has obtained planning permission, to enable the diversion channel to become a water feature and part of the restored Pinxton Arm of the Cromford Canal. This site will provide a much needed water venue for the local area, such as canoeing for schools and clubs, rowing, increased fishing and safe level, traffic free walking for all, especially for those who require wheelchair and pushchair access to the countryside. This scheme has had the support three prominent local MP’s, Geoff Hoon, Judy Mallaber and Dennis Skinner, as well as Derbyshire County Council, Amber Valley Borough Council and Bolsover District Council.
The FCC wish to thank the IWA for their foresight and help offered, both now and in the past.
Pat Morriss, Chairman of FCC stated:
"Significant contributions such as this IWA grant are indicative of the importance the national waterways movement place on efforts to restore the Cromford Canal, in line with the Inland Waterways Advisory Council’s earlier decision to place the restoration of the Cromford Canal in its ‘National importance’ category”
Vaughan Welch. Chairman of IWA Restoration Committee said:
"IWA saw the immediacy of the situation when we were approached by FCC to help the Cromford scheme because as part of the project to reinstate the site following open cast mining UK coal had agreed to do the reinstatement works within a set time limit provided the Friends provided the necessary engineering drawings to enable them to do so. Put simply, no drawings, no reinstated canal. Under the circumstances IWA felt obliged to act promptly to assist and help fund the production of the engineering plans for the Friends."

FCC concerned at the fate of the Butterley Company site in Ripley, Derbyshire

Friends of the Cromford Canal - 07 January 2010

Before the railway age there were shafts and interconnections between the Butterley Tunnel on the Cromford Canal and the site of the Butterley Company near Ripley. Raw materials were taken out of narrowboats using a unique underground wharf and transferred to the iron works above. Finished goods were lowered down another shaft for shipment around the UK, this included armaments during the Napoleonic War.

All this history is in danger of being swept away for ever as demolition of the old Butterley site continues apace. Very few buildings on the site (which also played an important role during the Pentrich Revolution of 1817) have listed building protection. The Friends of Cromford Canal were very active during the campaign to get the first redevelopment project on the site amended to protect the line of the tunnel and to ensure that any historic features uncovered were correctly recorded before building commenced on what became Morris Homes Cromford View. It now appears that along with many other concerned local people, Councillors and historical groups the FCC must once again take up the cause of this historic site.

Despite raising concerns as early as spring 2008 when yet another planning application was lodged, English Heritage stated that it "had considered all the evidence and decided that none of the other (unlisted) buildings on the site were of sufficient merit to be added to the statutory lists". The FCC remains to be convinced that the underground features have had proper consideration and will receive any protection at all. The statutory position is that any structure within the “curtilage” of a listed building, built before 1948, has the same protection as the “principal” listed building and cannot be demolished legally without listed building consent. Beyond doubt however is that any structure attached to a listed building, of any age, needs listed building consent for its demolition.

Viewed from the vantage points available to the public it appears that many pre 1948 buildings have been demolished. Rachael Coates Conservation Officer at Amber Valley Borough Council has yet to answer FCC concerns. The FCC would welcome a tour of the site accompanied by the developer/demolition contractor to help allay the community’s fears.

IWA 2010 National Festival to be held at Beale Park, Pangbourne

IWA Press Release - 25 June 2009

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) today announced that their 2010 National Festival would be held at Beale Park on the River Thames at Pangbourne, near Reading during the August Bank Holiday weekend, 28 - 30 August 2010.

The 2010 National Festival also coincides with the centenary of the birth of one of The Inland Waterways Association’s founders - Tom Rolt. L T C Rolt met with Robert Aickman and others at a historic meeting in August of 1945, at Tardebigge Lock, on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. This meeting led to the formation of The Inland Waterways Association in the following year.

To celebrate the centenary of Tom’s birth, The Inland Waterways Association will be holding their 2010 Festival in his honour.

Speaking on behalf of IWA, the Festivals Chairman, Ian West, said: ‘We are delighted to be returning to Beale Park, which has proved to be such a successful venue in previous years, and we are pleased to be able to hold it in Tom’s honour in this, his centenary year. In making this return we hope that many members of the IWA will join us in re-enacting part of the famous “Cressy” cruise which Tom Rolt undertook and which he recounted in his book ‘Narrow Boat’, which did so much to capture post war interest in the plight of the waterways’.

‘IWA is equally delighted to announce that to support the festival the Environment Agency have kindly agreed to discount the two week or monthly Thames Licence by 33% for boaters making the journey to the festival’.

Ecologist goes underground in hunt for one of UK's largest spiders

British Ecological Society Press Relase - 03 June 2009

A University of Birmingham postgraduate student has won a British Ecological Society (BES) grant to search for one of the UK's largest spiders in the eighteenth century canal tunnels deep beneath the Black Country.

Over the next two years, ecologist Laura Vickers will set up cameras and probes to measure temperature, humidity, CO2 and light levels in the Dudley Canal Tunnel. As well finding out whether the Cave spider has made the canal tunnel its home (the nearest known population is in Lichfield, 10 miles away across the M6 motorway), Vickers' study will shed light on a unique urban and former industrial environment, and on the habits of this rarely seen spider.

According to Vickers: “This urban, underground environment is unique and combines elements that have not been well studied in one habitat. These tunnels are ecological gems, and we don't know how species react to these environments because they have never been studied before.”

Now in the second year of a PhD into aphids and climate change at the University of Birmingham, Vickers' ecological curiosity was piqued while doing voluntary work leading tours of the underground canals with the Dudley Canal Trust, where she became their first woman canal boat skipper.

“I have always been fascinated by the amount of wildlife in and around the caverns and tunnels. These features are located in a once heavily industrialised and polluted area. The presence of animals such as spiders in the tunnels is phenomenal, and how they survive and what limits their distribution has intrigued me for years,” she says.

As well as helping illuminate the tunnels' hidden ecology, Vickers hopes her work will eventually provide an opportunity for local people to get involved in local ecology: “The next step would be to widen the survey to include mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and insect monitoring. Despite its urban nature and industrial heritage, this area is biologically very rich. We need to learn more about the value of urban ecosystems. Getting the local community involved will help speed the expansion of the project, and give people the chance to develop basic ecological monitoring skills.”

Newport, Wales to Host 2010 IWA National Trailboat Festival

IWA Press Release - 28 May 2009

The Inland Waterways Association is pleased to announce that the venue for the 2010 IWA National Trailboat Festival will be at Newport, Wales on the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canal. It will run over the Spring Bank Holiday between Saturday 29 May and Monday 31 May.

The Festival is to be Hosted by the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust, and is being marketed as the Welsh Waterways Festival 2010.

The organisers have the full support of Newport City Council who have financially supported the volunteers who have rebuilt the slipway at Bettws Lane and spent the last 3 months scrub bashing and clearing sections of the canal above Bettws lane Lock.

The Festival will be sited at Kimberley Park at Malpas offering over 2 miles of open water canal. On the main line there will be the Gwastad (No 34), Bettws (No 35) and Ty Ffynnon (No36) locks available to use, together with Lock no 2 (The first on the lower Crumlin Arm). An interesting aside to this Festival is the availability of a second smaller site at Fourteen Locks (Rogerstone) offering a further ¼ mile cruise and restored lock. Boat owners who are interested will be welcome to visit this site after the main Festival is finished. Arrangements can be made for any boaters wanting to extend their week to visit other areas of the Mon & Brec.

The Trust has garnered success at generating public support for restoration in Wales. Having previously played host to the festival in 2000 and 2004, this resulted in the formation of The All Party Waterway Group at the Welsh Assembly Government and the British Waterways document for Welsh Canals “Waterways for Wales”.

The 2010 Festival marks an important milestone for the City of Newport and falls in the year that they will be playing host to the Ryder Cup. The Festival is also seen as an important vehicle with which to promote the Canal, its potential to local politicians and the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Trust plans to use two trip boats over three days for public trips.