Fringe Box



Richard’s Wey April 2013

Published on: 8 May, 2013
Updated on: 8 May, 2013

Richard Cant, the Stoke lengthsman of the River Wey and Godalming Navigations.

The latest of our riverbank tales from the local Stoke lengthsman Richard Cant

The River Wey and Godalming Navigations are owned and maintained by the National Trust for the benefit of both river users and wildlife. For this to be possible the navigation is split into six lengths, each looked after by a lengthsman, with my length stretching around 3.5 miles from Millmead Lock to Bowers Lock. My main roles include weir operation to control the water levels, grass cutting, painting, tree work and running events. With the other lengthsmen I work on a rota system so that there is always someone on hand for any incidents that may occur along the Navigations.

It seems a long time ago now but the cold weather of early April didn’t only put the start of the boating season on hold, it also meant that the grass hadn’t started growing properly, the trees weren’t in leaf and the bird nesting season was delayed.

By my estimates everything is around four weeks behind where it should be for this time of year, although after the unimaginably wet year we had last year nothing the weather does is surprising!  In the middle of the month were some very heavy ‘April showers’ that put the river into flood conditions for a brief period – unfortunately just long enough to spoil the plans of those people who wanted a trip out on the boat at the end of the Easter holidays.

Thankfully after this wet spell the weather brightened up and the temperature began to rise which saw everything finally spring into life. The warmer weather also meant that I could finally start painting the locks; the sub-zero temperatures of early April had been stopping me getting them done before Easter as I usually would.

The rubbish collected by volunteers from Marks `& Spencer.

The rubbish collected by volunteers from Marks `& Spencer.

With the help of some of my volunteers I managed to get both Stoke Lock and Bowers Lock spruced up with a lick of paint by the end of the month. As with all the work I do, I try to take into consideration the needs of visitors, such as waiting until after the busy school holidays to paint locks and avoiding noisy strimming or hedge trimming in busy areas at peak times (whenever possible).

The fight against riverside litter in town got a welcome boost in April, as 19 members of staff from Marks & Spencers helped me to collect litter from the towpath between Ladymead and the Town Bridge.

The day was a great success, collecting 13 bags of litter, six bags of recyclable rubbish, two car tyres, one shopping trolley, one traffic cone and a slightly unexpected television set. This mass litter pick was part of a national campaign organised by the Marine Conservation Society, known as the Big Beach and Waterways Clean-up.

So now the weather is looking decidedly better I look forward to seeing you all along the Stoke Length enjoying the beautiful setting, tranquillity, and wildlife that the Wey Navigations have to offer.

Richard Cant, Stoke lengthsman.

Tel: 07786 703 832

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Responses to Richard’s Wey April 2013

  1. Aubrey Leahy Reply

    May 18, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Interesting piece. Good to know folk still care.

    I was intrigued by the word “lengthsman” Sounds almost Saxon. Good example of how language develops. Cannot find in the O.E.D. Was it coined locally? If so, by whom?

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