Water shortage may leave boat show grounded

MHDE-25-06-11 RALLY JUN68 (14)'Historic Narrowboat Rally, Braunston Marina.
MHDE-25-06-11 RALLY JUN68 (14)'Historic Narrowboat Rally, Braunston Marina.

THE future of a historic boat rally which draws thousands of people to the Daventry area is at risk due to water shortages.

The Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally features around 100 boats with people coming into the area from far and wide. It provides an economic boost to local businesses, shops and pubs.

But a severe shortage of water on the canal network could put this year’s event, scheduled for June 23 to 24, at risk.

Tim Coghlan, from Braunston Marina which organises the event, said: “We’re going to have a meeting with British Waterways to discuss the problems.

“Normally we get 100 boats coming along. We’re having a meeting soon to see if we can go ahead. Plan B would be to just have 50 boats, and plan C would be to cancel it.

“The foot soldiers of British Waterways are working hard on the ground to deal with the situation, and we applaud the fact they are getting to grips with it now rather than later.”

The key problem is that to get to Braunston most boats will have to pass through a lock flight. Everytime a boat goes through locks water flows downhill and, unless replenished, canals can run dry.

With the canal reservoirs in Daventry, including the one at the Country Park, suffering from seriously low water levels, there are concerns there might not be enough water to top the canals back up.

In the drought of 1976, when many sections of the canal had to close, Braunston was one of the few stretches which managed to remain open.

Mr Coghlan said: “The strange thing is though, while we may have to cancel our rally, another section of British Waterways is supporting the application for a 600 berth marina at Onley, saying there’s no problems with water levels.”