I must support very strongly the plea for the retention of permanent moorings in Audlem. My wife and I have been narrow boat owners since 1986, our present boat was built locally, at Hankelow in 2005-6.
When I retired in 2000 one of the attractions of Audlem was the fact that we would be able to moor our boat within a few minutes walk of our home. Having been alerted by John Stothert to the fact that there was a mooring vacancy which would be snapped up very quickly my son and I brought the boat here from Chirk in 1999 and apart from a couple of years between boats we have moored here ever since.
I am well aware of the incredible hard work done by Bob Shepherd to make the moorings attractive. I first came up the locks in June 1963 in an ex-working boat called 'Swan'. The boat proved to be a disaster, but that's another story.
A few years later I bought another ex-working boat called 'Mayflower' and between 1966-1971 I brought many groups of boys to Audlem. The canal was very different then. Tom Whitley, ex-professional oboist, lived at the stables at the bottom of the locks. He had been one of the pioneers of hotel boating with a pair of boats 'Prince' and 'Makfeking' (I think). He kept 'Prince' – a boat I had known in my small boyhood days and had indeed ridden on when one of the great Oxford Canal boatmen, Jack Harwood, had owned and worked it – tied up outside the stables and may actually have lived on it.
I can think of not one valid reason for BW to contemplate closing the moorings. Such maintenance work as is done to the banks would have to be done anyway. No attempt has been made to dredge the pounds for decades. The moorings above the bridge have only recently been dug.
On the positive side they actually enhance the environment, particularly if they are well maintained and look smart. Most of the moorers live away from Audlem so bring trade to the village. If 'The Mill' stocks boating equipment which permanent moorers need they will buy it there.
Personally, if I were forced off the mooring by BW I would be forced to sell the boat as I simply could not begin to pay the sort of mooring fees that one has to find at marinas. Moreover I don't want any of the expensive facilities that marinas offer.
There are no convincing arguments for closing Audlem moorings. On the contrary, those boat owners who currently moor there should be given a long term guarantee of security, and the vacancies should be filled by boats encouraged to use them.
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