South West Herts Narrowboat Project

List of articles
Forthcoming events
Contact us
Location map

Villager News title image

Articles in the local Villager News magazine
[written by one of our volunteers].

May 2012

Who was it who said, "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink"?

With much of the UK under drought restrictions, there is now a worry as to whether the flotilla of boats that frequent the canal festivals up and down the country will be able to reach the events. Key to this area is the Canal Cavalcade at Little Venice between 5th and 7th May 2012, as many of the participants then position themselves to come up to Rickmansworth. Movement on the southern let of the Grand Union is, as I write, unaffected; however, going north beyond Berkhamstead and therefore anyone starting their journey above Tring Summit is experiencing problems. A summit in canal terms is the highest piece of ground through which the canal journeys. Where the terrain changes, locks have been constructed to enable boats to climb upwards or drop down, each use of the lock requires huge amounts of water which, with gravity, goes down stream and not up!

The following facts are from

The volume of water used in the operation of a broad lock (that's two boats wide) is roughly 0.24 megalitres (240,000 litres, or nearly 53,000 gallons). In a narrow lock this figure is abour 0.14 megalitres (140,000 litres or 31,000 gallons).

Braunston, at the heart of the (Grand Union) network, sees around 6,000 lock operations each year.

British Waterways have put in place a series of restrictions whereby the locks are only opened for a limited number of hours per day - 10am to 3pm - maximising the space inside each lock with two boats and not wasting water by having to fill it without a boat inside it. The levels in the canal have also been lowered so boats are having to take special care not to ground themselves.

The situation was also causing concern for a Scout troop in the Midlands who have a place in the Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames and were fearful that the restrictions would prevent them sailing down.

The Project would like to wish good luck to all who are taking part in the Canal Cavalcade; we can see from the programme that old friend Janul is performing on all three days, and we know that Boatshed Grand Union area representative Phil Bassett has set off in Persephone.

Do check out these websites for the Cavalcade:

and the Rickmansworth Canal Festival:

Dick's Folly's A to Z of Tasks
Continuing unmasking the unsung champions who are the mainstay of the Project and the A to Z of tasks that they do. The growing list can be seen on this page.

L is for Lock. A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied. At either end are gates, which allow the boats to enter and exit. These gates frequently have paddles in them which, when open, allow the water levels to change. Locks are dangerous places and require every person on board to be very alert.

W is for Windlass, or lock key. This is a cranked handle for opening and closing lock paddles. If these are not put in place correctly, they can give you a black eye, or worse!

Angi Naylor
Project Volunteer


Dick's Folly narrowboat.


Top of page...  

Registered Charity No. 299973.