After a long dreary winter, the early Easter was equally poor, with cold wet weather all the holiday week, which seriously affected visitors to the locks (and everywhere else.) Luckily the May Day weekend was redeemed by glorious hot sunshine that brought everybody flocking out. The towpath between the locks and village finally dried out, after having water and mud most of the winter; it is desperately in need of attention. A serious breach on the canal near Middlewich (caused by vandalism) means Canal & River Trust (CRT) have a huge unscheduled expense, which will impact on works elsewhere.
The swingbridge near the locks, which has been giving problems for some time, finally failed completely, and will need to be craned out and have new bearings. The village swing bridge has also been very stiff, and some boat crews are struggling. Work has finally started on a new bridge on the Harborough Arm, near the Woodlands, which means the towpath in that area is closed, but the canal remains open to boats.
CRT are undergoing another re-structuring, which will alter the regions again. We will be in an East Midlands region, and for the first time for a long while will be in the centre, instead of on the periphery of an operational area. They are also rebranding and launched a new logo on 22 May with a staff event at the locks here. The logo can be viewed on their website, but has already attracted unfavourable nicknames! In answer to criticism of unnecessary expenditure (new uniforms, signs, publicity material etc.) CRT say the money is coming from their existing media budget. The new ethos is inclusivity, and the health and well-being benefits of our canals.
The Foxton Festival will be on 16 and 17 June, with an impressive line-up of music, including headline act King King. The BoilerHouse has reverted to being the Foxton Canal Museum (more understandable) and has re-vamped the shop area, and installed the new Bolinder engine exhibit. The summer exhibition will feature early holiday hire – something very appropriate round here, with Anglo Welsh/Harborough Marine starting up in the canal basin in 1964, and three major boat builders in the town supplying boats for burgeoning hire fleets all over the country in the 1970s. A programme of events through the year include a poetry workshop, evening bat walk, and stargazing evening. Visit the FIPT website or Facebook page for details.