Monday 15 July 2013

Traffic and the times

When we started up the Avon last month, Bob the lock keeper in Tewkesbury was bemoaning the lack of traffic. We'd seen very few boats on the Severn, and the pattern continued. Bob put it down to the economic climate taking its toll – with the holiday-boat trade being hit especially hard.

Over the last few days we've begun to see signs of more movement. At Wheaton Aston lock today there was actually a queue of boats waiting to go down!

But we've also passed a couple of hire-boat centres, with half their fleet lying idle. It's not quite school holiday time in England, but it still seems significant that so much capacity is not being used. You'd think they could get the boats earning their keep somehow.

It's not that I necessarily want to encounter more hirers coming too fast through a bridge on a bend! But the hirers of today are the owners of tomorrow. The canal network needs both a thriving user base and a healthy wider economy if it is to develop. The times show their signs in surprising places.

Hmm… bit of a heavy post today! That's because we went up to Wheaton Aston and back to get diesel at the best price on the network, and nothing much happened apart from that. Hot day!


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