From top: the Honda motorbike being fished out of the canal, and new rules to try and prevent too much night time noise; maintenance manager Sam Thomas (right) and boating liaison manager Sorwar Ahmed at Sturt’s Lock; a shrine to popular boater Mark Stevens, 46, who died last year; the reclaimed pushbike; a shopping trolley glimpsed under the water; and a car door from the canal
Published: 3 January, 2014
by ANDREW JOHNSON
THE Honda motorcycle looks in quite good condition as it’s fished out of the canal. It was probably dumped by thieves in the City Road basin after a joy ride It is lowered next to a scooter fished out a little earlier. That has already been reported stolen.
About three motorbikes a month are lifted from the Islington section of the canal. Not to mention shopping trolleys, bicycles and the odd car door.
One of the crew of The Ducketts, the maintenance boat on the canal, has a 40-year-old Carlton pushbike which he reconditioned after finding it a couple of years ago.
“We’ve had a spate of safes recently,” maintenance manager Sam Thomas says. “All with the backs burnt out of them.”
They are actually looking for a ground paddle post, however, which opens the sluice gates of the lock. It has been knocked off by a wayward boater.
“It’ll cost about £1,000 for a new one,” says waterways manager Sam Thomas, “plus another £1,000 to install it.”
Only a short stretch of the Regent’s Canal runs through Islington – from York Way, through the 200-year-old Grade II-listed tunnel at Angel via City Road basin and then to Sturt’s Lock just past the Narrow Boat pub when it enters Hackney – a distance of around two miles.
But, says Mr Thomas, it is the busiest part after Camden Lock, and brings with it a degree of conflict between cyclists and walkers on the towpath and boaters and home owners.
Numbers of all types of users have shot up in the past five years.
Boating manager Sorwar Ahmed says that the number of boat owners registered on the canal has doubled to 250. They are allowed to moor for free, but must be on a “continuous journey”, which effectively means they have to move on every fortnight. Although some can pay for a five-month winter licence.
Similarly, a recent survey of cyclists and pedestrians at the busiest times found the numbers for both had increased by around 25 per cent, with cyclists far outnumbering pedestrians.
The Canal and Waterways Trust has just announced a raft of measures to try and reduce conflict between the different users of the canal.
These include one-boat-only moorings (rather than allowing boats to double up side by side) on some parts of the canal, and making the area a quiet zone.
In the summer the City Road basin area becomes packed with people, and now there are plans to make the area easier to manage.
The pump house café, recently opened, wants to build a decking area and there will also be an allotment to be maintained by Hanover School.
“It would be quite a vibrant area,” says Mr Thomas, who adds that he would like to put a lido in the basin itself.
“People swim in it during the summer,” he says.
“It’s not safe. On the continent they have pop-up lidos, which are filled with fresh water. I’d love to do something like that. The basin itself is leased to Islington Council though, so it’s not something we can do.”