A damaged culvert brought part of the Grand Union canal to a stop last week. Unfortunately I’d left Bristol Fashion in the middle of the closed section of the canal. After work I found a British Waterways dredger under the bridge next to the Turning Point pub, blocking the entrance. At the next bridge men in overalls milled around putting up barriers. Further on, Cowley Lock was closed and padlocked.
The next morning British Waterways sent me a text message at 9.57am asking me to move the boat by 10.30am. As if that was going to happen! That afternoon I took a couple of hours off work and took the boat through the lock. A steady stream of well-painted and polished boats was headed at speed in the opposite direction, trying to reach Little Venice in time for the Canal Cavalcade this weekend. There were quite a few pairs of working boats among them.
Going under the damaged bridge, water was spurting out and there was a huge plastic hose in the water. I was asked to kill the engine and drift through so as not to damage it.
It was interesting to watch as divers went into the water and constructed a dam made of scaffolding and plastic sheets. The owner of narrowboat Tafelberg has some photos of this at www.tafelblog.com.
At midday on Saturday the lock was re-opened and a queue of boats good-humouredly negotiated their way through, just in time to rush to the Cavalcade. Bet they were glad there are no more locks all the way to Little Venice.