Last week we came down the 19 frozen and snow covered Lapworth locks from Birmingham and I meant to mention the notice pinned to the balance beams of lock 20, the bottom lock of the flight if arriving from the Grand Union. I knew it to be untrue, having just arrived from the other direction but what would I be expected to do if I had just arrived to go up the flight? Maybe walk 2 miles to the top, to verify it is possible to get through – as once committed to the flight there is no turning place until well after the top lock. Maybe I should just assume it is OK in the absence of a lock and chain? Or maybe check Waterscape.com to find out whether there is really a stoppage?
Yes that’s what I did earlier in the trip. No point in phoning British Waterways these days, as the stock answer is “have you checked Waterscape.com?” I didn’t realise it at the time but by searching for stoppages on the Stratford Canal and CHANGING THE FROM DATE I had broken the search system, which then returned a long list of incorrect stoppages! I couldn’t understand why boats had been arriving in Birmingham while I was seeing a long list of Lapworth stoppages for January to March. And then the penny dropped. The search results were showing me 2009 stoppages – I just hadn’t noticed the year until now! I tried it again at Lapworth and got exactly the same incorrect results.
Today after complaining to British Waterways about this, I notice that the search results have been corrected, and indeed there is no way to search for 2009 stoppages deliberately so last week’s results can only have been the result of an error rather than finger trouble.
So back to the plot, the notice on the bottom gates of the flight is now totally inexplicable. I wonder if it refers to the flight going down towards Stratford, which is indeed closed, although you wouldn’t be going up through lock 20 if taking that route.
So once again, no information would be so much better than half a story – if Waterscape.com didn’t exist and if someone had removed the notice from the lock when lock 19 was repaired ahead of schedule 2 weeks ago, then nobody would be any the wiser. But as it stands BW are continuing to make demands of the user without having the systems to back them up themselves. There is no excuse for returning old data from a website query, other than dodgy programming and lack of testing and the incorrect notice could have been removed by someone from the local BW Offices the day the locks reopened. Its all of 200 yards from the lock to their front door. They could do with typing practice too by the looks of it – even their own phone number has been mis-typed! It should of course be 01827 252000. I suggest we should all call them tomorrow.
Meanwhile theres no cruising log this weekend. Looking at the rain, and the forecast for even more, I have decided not to move Zulu today but hopefully the weather will improve this week.