The crew of the cruiser Woolpack called in for lunch at Upper Lock Café
Woolpack’s skipper Peter Benn is pictured at the wheel at Wallbridge on Saturday.
The current infrequency of other pleasure boat traffic on the Thames & Severn Canal mean that it was ok for Peter to tie up in the lock chamber for an hour.
Boat in a barn
We have since learned the fascinating story of how Peter found the cruiser covered in dust in a barn at Bisley.
As a serving member of the Royal Navy Peter’s instinct was to recommission the vessel.
This decision has led to many hours of hard labour for the Benn family. Some aged timber framing had to be replaced. Repairs to the fibre-glass hull were also made.
It was whilst Peter was rubbing down the hull that the word ‘Woolpack’ once again saw the light of day. Peter made some enquiries and ascertained that some twenty-five years ago the boat was owned by the licensee of a famous pub of the same name… The Woolpack at Slad!
Stroud Valleys Canal Company
The Stroud Valleys Canal Company (SVCC) is in the early stages of taking on the responsibility as the official navigation authority for the Stroudwater Navigation and Thames and Severn Canal.
SVCC’s Chair, Peter Best welcomes visiting trail-boat craft, canoes, and kayaks to the waterways of Stroud. He makes the point that restoration work is still ongoing and explains “Volunteers are actively engaged in dredging the channel of the two canals. Therefore, mud barges tugs and dredgers may well be encountered.
“Another team of volunteers is busy installing a series of Canoe & Boat Landing Stages. The landing stages have been conceived, designed, sourced and installed entirely by volunteers; again pile driving and construction vessels may well be encountered along the waterway.”
Peter Best is also keen to ensure the locks remain operable. He adds this request to his explanations… “Please refill every lock chamber as you leave it.
The reason for this is that the infrequency of boat movement means that a lock left empty could remain so for many days. A lock left empty permits the wood planking of the gates to dry and shrink. This shrinkage creates leaks that take a long time and a lot of water to rectify.
“Another important benefit of a full chamber means that should a person fall into a lock, a high level of the water makes it easier to get them out!”