The Newspeak of Sharing

Everyone is up for sharing the waterways, and in particular the towpath, right?
We certainly are, and sharing is a common mantra of the Canal and River Trust (CRT), and organisations such as the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), when they introduce new policies or propose changes in towpath usage. Given this, you would think that sharing the towpath would be an area of common ground. But when you compare what we mean by sharing and what they mean, it becomes clear that it never can be.

As boaters in general, and itinerants in particular, we have the established right to moor on the towpath for up to two weeks and then move on to another place for up to another two weeks and soon. We use the towpath as our home and then move, leaving that space free for someone else. While we are moored up, other people -walkers, cyclists – are still free to use the towpath; and still others -anglers, duck feeders, canoeists launching their boats etc – are free to use unoccupied towpath to pursue these activities. The space is being shared in a common way by a myriad of people.

Sometimes – OK, quite often in London – we aren’t able to moor in the particular place or area that we may want to; and so it goes for the anglers, duck feeders and canoeists. In other words, we have a common (if often atomized) experience of what is a shared, common space.

But that isn’t what CRT and its friends at the IWA think the future of sharing should be. To them, sharing the towpath shouldn’t be a common, shared experience, but rather an individuated one; and to this end we are seeing more and more partitioning of the towpath.

Whether it be the London Mooring Strategy’s dedicated pop up mooring spaces, prohibited mooring in watersports zones, increased permanent business moorings and further developed winter moorings, or the IWA’s Vision for London’s mooring free spaces to improve the visual experience and increased limited stay visitor moorings, the language of sharing predicates a partitioning of what should be a common space. In this version, sharing is done at the expense of a group of users (normally itinerant boaters). With each guarantee for a particular group to use a space, at least one other group is denied the ability to use it.

So the next time CRT and its friends start talking about “sharing” and “fairness”, just think about who is going to lose out in the sharing newspeak equation.


Andrzej Evicted

Andrzej from the boat commonly called ‘the Caravan Boat’, has been evicted by the Canal and River Trust (CRT). CRT sent over 10 enforcement bailiffs and CRT staff members with two RIBs and two police officers to evict Andrzej. Barring him from retrieving his belongings, including his work tools, CRT towed his boat and craned it out at Bulls Bridge (West London) before transporting it 200 miles to Cheshire.

It was 2 months before we were allowed to retrieve what remained of his possessions, and due to CRT’s legendary incompetence, some 80% of these had suffered water damage.

Andrzej had applied for a licence for his boat; he had up-to-date boat safety; insurance and he was using his boat for navigation and intending to carry on navigating. Therefore, we believe CRT has broken the British Waterways Act 1995 section 17 where it states our right to not be refused a licence. We have started the process of challenging CRT refusing Andrzej a licence.





Stop eviction at Chess mooring

Sadie who skippers for the Pride of Batchworth and a local scout leader is under threat of eviction from her mooring at the Chess Basin by Waterways Heritage Limited for her boat not being ‘smart’ enough.
It started when waterways charity Canal and River Trust (CRT) which owns most of the England’s inland waterways leased the moorings to private company Waterways Heritage Limited.


Sadie was raised on her boat at the Chess Basin moorings. Sadie has been on the mooring for 34 years. It was her mother’s boat which was built on the mooring with the intention that it would stay on the mooring. In fact the boat is too high for travelling on the canal. Her boat is unable to be moored anywhere else.


Waterways Heritage Limited told Sadie that the mooring rent would go up from under £3000 to more than £8,500 per year. After much thought about how much less Sadie would have to live on per year, Sadie agreed to a new tenant’s agreement with Waterways Heritage Limited. However, Tim Woodbridge, the director of Waterways Heritage Limited, refused Sadie.


Within months of his lease of the Chess Basin, Woodbridge had cut down trees and levelled the environmentally friendly garden, replacing it with turf. Ahead of a new hotel being built on the old Travis Perkins site, he then issued eviction notices to Sadie and another tenant who has a narrow boat there.


Sadie has told us that:
“This has been absolutely devastating. I bent over backwards to meet every demand from Mr Woodbridge, but he clearly had his own agenda after taking over the lease from CRT.


“My mother had Hibiscus built here, and being here and looking after the boat and the garden is part of honouring her memory. I have no idea now where I will go or what I can do.”


Ali Rawlings was a resident at the Chess Basin moorings until she got a termination notice:
“I came into the basin 6 months ago as a temporary measure as I needed to sort some things out in my personal life. I was told I could have a permanent mooring when the improvements were made. My mooring was fenced, I was given a shed and a lawn was laid.


“Then out of the blue I was given a termination notice. I was told to pack up and leave within 6 weeks.


“I was told if I blacked and painted my boat and made it look smart I could reapply to go back. The cost would then be doubled. I will not be painting and blacking my boat as in my opinion it is not necessary.”


Please email Waterways Heritage Limited and ask them to not evict Sadie:
Also please email CRT to demand that Waterways Heritage Limited doesn’t evict Sadie:
If you want to be involved in this campaign to stop Sadie being evicted please email:


‘Pop up’ trade moorings

NBTA London proposes a solution for ‘pop up’ trade moorings which it believes could benefit roving trade boats without negative effects on other boaters, and support the ideal that that towpath is for all boaters to use.

In the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) London Mooring Strategy, CRT proposes pre-bookable ‘pop up’ moorings for trade boats for a ‘short time’ on the towpath at Kings Cross. It isn’t clear if other boaters would be able to use the mooring space when it’s not being used by trade boats, nor is it made clear how long a ‘short time’ is. CRT hasn’t indicated if they are planning to charge for these ‘pop up’ moorings.

If a charge is levied on trade boats for the use of the mooring this will disadvantage poorer traders and give CRT a great incentive to turn yet more towpath into permanent business moorings. It would give an elitism of mooring with people paying the trade premium to access desirable moorings whether they trade or not.

If other boaters cannot use the moorings when they are not being used by trade boats, or if the moorings are more than 14 days, this would disadvantage other waterways users and make them no different from any other business mooring.

NBTA London believes that all waterways users should be able to use the towpath, be it for living, leisure or trade. We are therefore proposing that
where pre-bookable ‘pop up’ trade moorings are proposed by CRT, they are no longer than 14 days, not chargeable, and allow other boaters to use them
when not being used by trading boats. Trade boats should have priority on the ‘pop up’ moorings, so they could ask someone who is already there to move but it must be reasonable.  A trade boater shouldn’t be able to just turn up late in the day and tell someone to move on, for example; clear signs at the mooring space would be good to give prior warning of the booking.

NBTA London vows to fight all business moorings which disadvantage other waterways users, particularly permanent towpath business moorings. We are therefore organising a march to CRT’s London offices, rally, party and flotilla on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th of May.
For more info check our website:

Update Andrzei anti-eviction campaign

The Andrzei enforcement case is said to be no longer being dealt with by the local enforcement officer and regional enforcement manager. This after Section 7 of the British Waterways act 1983, which lays out the process in which the Canal and River Trust (CRT) must do before claiming a boat is unsafe, was brought to their attention. Both CRT enforcement staff claim to have no knowledge of this section.

Andrzei’s case was then passed on to the CRT legal team for a internal ‘review’. At the end of this ‘review’, CRT is no longer saying his boat is unsafe; they are now just relying on a court judgement from 2017. The court order is to remove Andrzei’s boat from their waterways for being ‘unlawfully’ moored. For Andrzei, English is a second language and he didn’t make his case to the court. He put his licence in his girlfriend’s name and CRT was happy with movements of the boat, giving it a winter mooring. It was licensed until CRT revoked the licence, claiming the boat was ‘unsafe’.

Andrzei, with up to date insurance and Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, is able and willing to use his boat for navigation and has sent in a new licence application form. So far CRT is still saying they are going to evict.


Email CRT to change their minds in evicting Andrzei

Here is a template email:Template email to stop eviction 2

If you’re happy to be called upon to try to stop CRT evicting or if CRT tries to take his boat, please email your number and we will tell you when CRT turns up. Many people have already said that they will come and support Andrzei; however we would like as much support as we can get.

Also if you are between Paddington and Watford and you see CRT enforcement officers and/or tugs which are used for evicting boats, please text and tell us which way they are heading. The number is; 07459354163


He has moved it about 7 miles in the last three weeks and many more miles are planned.


Here is the story before the update: htt://

Boat dweller threatened with eviction. Urgent help needed

Certified gas engineer and boat dweller, Andrzei, has been given an eviction notice by the Canal and River Trust (CRT) and is under immediate threat of eviction.

He is on the boat commonly called ‘the caravan boat’, which is a WW2 landing craft onto which he has skillfully welded and fixed a mobile home. He constructed a platform at the stern and mounted an outboard engine as well as reducing the air draft so it can go under many of the bridges in the system. His boat is a fully mobile boat home.

CRT is claiming the boat is unsafe despite him being a certified gas engineer and having an up to date Boat Safety Scheme Certificate. The boat safety exam was done by trusted boat safety examiner, Pete Wakeham, late last year.

It seems that prejudice has ushered CRT to call Andrzei’s home unsafe. CRT deciding a boat unsafe despite having a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate could be a slippery slope, which could see CRT think it can label any uniquely made vessel as unsafe.

We shall not let his hardworking man be made homeless by CRT.

Together we can stop this eviction.

Please email CRT to change their minds in evicting  Andrzei.


Here is a template email Template email to stop Andrzei eviction

If you are on the Grand Union main line or Paddington Arm or just in the general West London area and you’re happy to be called upon even to just film when CRT tries to evict him, please email your number and we will tell you when CRT turns up.

Please spread the word and get support to stop this eviction

Andrzei on his boat holding his Boat Safety Certificate
Andrzei’s boat


NBTA 10th Anniversary Celebration takes shape

The NBTA will be 10 years old in 2019. Since its formation by a small group of Bargee Travellers facing eviction in 2009, it has been active in defending and supporting itinerant boat dwellers throughout the inland waterways. That’s 10 years of fighting the attempts of the navigation and local authorities to get rid of liveaboards and of standing up for the the rights of itinerant boat dwellers.

We are planning a programme of festivities to celebrate the successes of the NBTA over the past 10 years and to look forward. The main events will be:

The NBTA 10th Anniversary Celebration and General Meeting

The NBTA 10th Anniversary Celebration and General Meeting will be held at Middle Floor, 23-25 Wharf St, Leeds LS2 7EQ on Saturday 27th April 2019 from 11am to 11pm. Free entry, donations welcome.

The day will start with the General Meeting and Committee elections from 11am – 1pm.

Then from 1pm to 6pm there will be speakers, workshops, films, discussions and action planning.

At 6.30pm the bar will be open and there will be live music, sounds and festivities until 11pm.

The NBTA is 10 years old this year. We invite all our members and supporters to the 10th Anniversary celebration. We hope that all our members currently in the North of England, the Midlands and beyond will join in. For members where the cost of travel would prevent you from getting to the event, the NBTA aims to make a contribution towards your travel.

Since its formation by a small group of Bargee Travellers facing eviction in 2009, the NBTA has been active in defending and supporting itinerant boat dwellers throughout the inland waterways and fighting the attempts of the navigation and local authorities to get rid of liveaboards.

If you are interested in helping to organise the celebration in Leeds please contact the NBTA – see or email or phone 0118 321 4128.

If you’re on Facebook, please share the Facebook event

If you would like to make a donation towards the cost of the event, please


Paddington Party, Rally, March and Flotilla

NBTA London, as part of the 10 year anniversary of the NBTA, are organising two events which will have our message heard that we do not want anymore towpath taken and made into ‘no mooring’ sites or business moorings.

We will be bringing our boats to Paddington, a place which has seen years of towpath being given to big businesses such as multi-billion tax avoiding ‘British Land’.


March on CRT’s London Offices

On Friday 24th of May we will meet at 1pm for music and a rally and then march to CRT offices in Little Venice for CRT to hear us, handing out leaflets to the public as we go.

Join us for a rally and march on CRT’s London HQ in Little Venice

Facebook event;


Paddington Party, Rally and Flotilla

Then on Saturday 25th May starting at 12 noon we shall be holding our Paddington Party and Rally which will include activities for children as well. We shall attach banners to our boats and form a flotilla, letting the press and public know that boats are homes and we will not let the waterways be taken.
Come along, bring your boat if you can.

All are welcome to join in!

Facebook event;

stone towpath 4

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 16.33.44

boats demo 2


Facilities meeting 2

The Business of Gentrification

Make boating in London a great experience and improve our waterways for the enjoyment of all.”  That is the vision which CRT says drives their latest attempt to manage London’s waterways – the London Mooring Strategy (LMS). It sounds fantastic – who would be against boaters having a great experience and everyone enjoying “our” waterways? Except that when you look at much of the strategy – the water sport zones, the eco moorings, the introduction of 7 day, 2 day and 2 hour visitor moorings – it is clear that the price of this improvement is being laid at the feet of itinerant boaters and their access to casual towpath moorings.

Another part of this price is CRT’s drive to buy into the “destination” fever which marks the gentrification of London’s post-industrial landscape with the continued introduction or increase of business and trip boat moorings at the expense of casual moorings. Paddington, Kings Cross, East India Dock and the Olympic Park are all locations where CRT is intent on encouraging new or further business mooring opportunities, their aim being increasing both income and the number of visitors. Given that CRT implies in the strategy that they buy into the London is full (or nearly full) myth, presumably these visitors will not be boaters and definitely not itinerant ones.

CRT says that up to 35 business moorings will be created as the result of the strategy. While most of these will be permanent moorings like the ones in Paddington, Kings Cross will see CRT’s latest idea in reducing the number of casual moorings – the pre-bookable “pop up” business mooring reserved for itinerant trade boats. Presumably these will not be available to boaters even when trade boaters are not in residence.

The 35 new business moorings figure CRT quotes may sound quite modest, but once they are gone it is unlikely they will be coming back to casual status any time soon (if at all). Every little bite the LMS takes from our ability to access casual moorings is a marginal gain in gentrifying the waterways of London; and a marginal loss for us if we fail to actively oppose it. CRT wants to turn the waterways into a “destination”; for us the waterways are where we live – they are not a destination.


Pictures below are of where the proposed “pop up” business moorings (Maiden Lane Bridge) are outlined in the LMS.



Pictures below are of where the proposed trip boat mooring (below St Pancras Lock) are outlined in the LMS.

Below StPancras_2

Below StPancras

Pictures below are of where the proposed some more business moorings at Paddington which are outlined in the LMS.

LMS_paddington_view from pointbridge

LMS_paddington_view from A40BridgeLMS_paddington_trip boat mooring

Boating on our terms

Sometimes the Canal and River Trust will say that boaters need to follow CRT’s Terms and Conditions, such as following their ‘no mooring’ signs however, do they really have the legal right to enact and enforce their Terms and Conditions?

There are no court judgements to say if CRT can or can’t enforce or enact their T&Cs. CRT doesn’t use breaking T&Cs as a main argument in court; therefore there is no case law to say one way or another. However, there are legal opinions.

CRT’s legal opinion goes like this; under the Transport Act 1962, section 43, the board (CRT) can set T&Cs for use of their facilities. CRT claims that because they can set the T&Cs they can make boat licences subject to conditions over and above those listed in Acts and Byelaws. CRT’s services and facilities include ‘the use of any inland waterway owned or managed by them by any ship or boat’ as well as actual facilities such as taps and rubbish points etc.

However, the opposing opinion is that sure; CRT can set T&Cs for facilities that they can charge for, however, there are enforceable T&C’s, and non-enforceable conditions. The T&Cs include many of the General Canal Byelaws 1965-1976, which are indeed enforceable – but only via prosecution through the Magistrates Court. But not all T&Cs are byelaws such as following CRT signs, unless it is a sign prohibiting mooring to lock structures, or in places which would be an obstruction as per byelaws above.

CRT claims that they can refuse boat licenses if a boat owner breaks its T&Cs are contrary to law. The British Waterways Act 1995 Section 17* says that the board (CRT) can only refuse a licence if a boat doesn’t comply to three conditions: having a boat safety, third party insurance and is used for navigation or has a home mooring. Any T&Cs which are not byelaws are subordinate to Acts of Parliament. Therefore non-byelaw T&Cs come under the British Waterways Act 1995 and on that basis, CRT doesn’t have the right to refuse a license if a boater breaks T&Cs such as CRT signage.

Another way that CRT claims it could enforce T&Cs is to charge a fee for staying longer on a mooring with restricted times. The first thing is that the 1962 Act gave no new power to set charges for anything not previously enabled. Secondly, it should be noted that in the 1990 bill British Waterways (precursor to CRT) asked for powers to post such signs governing where and for how long one could moor, but these were refused. On top of this, if CRT tries to charge, because of the outcome of the Ravenscroft Vs Canal and River Trust case, CRT cannot recover ‘outstanding cost’ from boat owners using Section 8 of British Waterways Act 1983 (this is one of the eviction notices that CRT issues to boaters).

CRT doesn’t hold the entire deck of cards. Many boat owners moor at places that don’t block the navigation but have ‘No Mooring’ signs, and CRT have done nothing other than to sometimes send an email claiming they shouldn’t moor there.’

Moor away!


*British Waterways Act 1995, Section 17. 

Conditions as to certificates and licences

Subsection (3) Notwithstanding anything in any enactment but subject to subsection (7) below, the Board may refuse a relevant consent in respect of any vessel unless—

(a)the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel complies with the standards applicable to that vessel;

(b)an insurance policy is in force in respect of the vessel and a copy of the policy, or evidence that it exists and is in force, has been produced to the Board; and


(i)the Board are satisfied that a mooring or other place where the vessel can reasonably be kept and may lawfully be left will be available for the vessel, whether on an inland waterway or elsewhere; or

(ii)the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.


A volunteer organisation formed in 2009 campaigning and providing advice for itinerant boat dwellers on Britain’s inland and coastal waterways