A very positive meeting at the Crofton Pumping Station was held with Mark Evans, recently appointed as the Waterways Director. I emphasised how pleased NABO was, and indeed most boaters were, that Mark was now in this position, especially as he would be building on his previous excellent work running the K&A & B&T. Mark was very positive about the future, although noting that there were many staffing changes that needed to bed in. He also acknowledged that CRT's management of its contractors often needed attention. I could only agree with this, especially noting the dreadful mess their vegetation cutters had left the Mon & Brec towpath in – over long sections (and for over three months now) it was a mud-path, so bad that many of its regular users had to avoid it.

I did though take the opportunity to also congratulate Mark on CRT's (and indeed its contractors!) work at Crofton, where major engineering is taking place, largely related to improving the water feed for the K&A. Here the collaboration between CRT and the K&A Canal Trust, responsible for restoring and now running the accompanying historic pumping station, was excellent. Part of this work included relocating underground the historically-unsightly CRT pipeline - presently located right across the front of the station. It is responsible for moving water from the Wilton Water reservoir up to the feeder leat, which then provides water for the canal from its highest point.

Mike Rodd

Both the K&A and the Mon & Brec have seen very welcome and extensive winter work, and on the K&A we were delighted to see that CRT is at last introducing so-called ‘composite’ lock gates – basically steel but with sacrificial wooden components. Both Canal Trusts have been working on these for some five years and have installed sets on the non-CRT part of the Mon & Brec. With costs similar to wooden gates, but having lives of up to 100 years there is no argument! Do they look odd? When showing them to some senior CRT folk, they asked where they were – all they could see was normal gates. They were then told they were sitting on them!

Extensive cutting back of vegetation has generally been well done, although the towpaths have often been left in very dubious states. On the K&A, there continues to be a lack of boating facilities, made worse this year by those at Hortons Bridge being removed by the pub owner because of local abuse - mainly by non-boaters. While restoration of the water point is promised, CRT has just announced that the bins will not be restored - resulting in a 3½ mile trip to the nearest ones. But, from the start of the year, we have the excellent and well-liked (by boaters) Mark Evans back as the Regional Director.

Mike Rodd