Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Meeting With CRT About Our Hillmorton Locks Incident

We were invited by CRT on the 26th October to meet with them to discuss the incident at Hillmorton.

We, and our son David, met with Vicky Martin (Manager of South East Waterways) and Tony Stammers (Head of Health & Safety) at CRT Offices in Milton Keynes on the 12th November.

CRT have investigated the incident at Hillmorton on the 25th August 2015, where our full length (71’ 8”) boat was hung on the bottom gate of a lock, and was close to sinking.

They have specifically come up with a list of actions to take regarding the locks at Hillmorton:
  1. Consult the navigation advisory group “should waterway sections which have shorter than standard locks be signed to state this dimension at the first lock of that section?”
  2. Review VLK Lock keeping risk assessment to ensure the risk of boat hang ups, and also what to do in an emergency, is covered
  3. Reiterate to all lock keepers that “The boater has the overall responsibility/control. The lock keepers are there to advise, guide and assist”
  4. Replace the top bolts on the rubbing plates, with dome headed bolts similar to Hillmorton middle lock.  Also review all the other bolts on the three sets of locks at Hillmorton to see if any other bolts need replacing with dome headed ones (if they are in the rubbing zone)
  5. Review to be carried out regarding historic boat lock operating techniques, to see if VLKs need specific training relating to assisting historic boats
We have asked that they add to this list:

6. The VLK should always ask the boater before offering assistance

which they have agreed to do.

We have been assured by CRT that whenever a CRT volunteer or employee deviates from standard procedure, then that is treated very seriously, and they will be held to account, and appropriate action is taken.  CRT has reiterated to all VLKs that the boater is in charge and has overall responsibility at all times, and that they should ask the boater before offering assistance.

CRT additionally explained that prime focus of the VLK Risk Assessment documents has been on the safety of the VLKs while performing their role, and the actual hazards relating to the boats themselves, such as cilling or hanging in the lock are already addressed in other materials, and included in VLK training.  These materials are now being reviewed.

We were also told of new training initiatives for VLKs which will help them to understand the particular needs of historic boats. CRT has also apologised to us for the amount of time that it has taken to investigate this matter fully.

Tony Stammers reiterated that he hopes that boaters will report incidents and ‘near misses’ because that allows CRT to deal with the problem and prevent further incidents.


We have been unhappy about the degree of speculation that our incident has provoked, and having made this statement, we do not intend to discuss this matter further.


  1. Alan,
    I can only hope you are flagged by the system to the presence of this very delayed response to your November 2015 post.

    When I first read your comment "We have been unhappy about the degree of speculation that our incident has provoked, and having made this statement, we do not intend to discuss this matter further" I thought that sounds like CWDF, but as I had given up on those Very Important Pundits some considerable time earlier I hadn't seen the speculation.

    Whether CWDF inspired or not, I hoped that your blogging would continue in due course, but two months later nothing has appeared. Admittedly December and January may be considered non-cruising months, but, if your health has permitted it, I hope you have been doing 'something' with your boats.
    In short, please carry on blogging!!

    Incidentally, while considering how to contact you I looked up your Blogger Profile and followed the link to 'your website'. This took me to your old blog, where the last post in April 2015 expressed surprise that the site had so many visits, even though it wasn't current.
    Perhaps the link to your Blogger Profile explains the reason :-)

    Hope to hear from you soon, via this blog.

  2. Hello David,

    No we will be blogging again, I hope. Just that life has rather got in the way of late.

    I have been awaiting cataract surgery a very long while, and the first date it was scheduled for got cancelled because of the Junior Doctors' strike, (I can't complain, as I support the action they are being forced to take). I have just had the operation this week, so feel more able to tackle computer based tasks now - it really had been getting quite hard.

    We are periodically spending some time with the boats, but more to ensure they are surviving the frosts, and to keep them aired,rather than to seriously try and get on with too much until the weather improves.


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