Calls made to re-open The Old Bedford River

Skipper John Revell successfully negotiates his narrowboat ��Olive Emily�" through the tidal doors of the Old Bedford sluice onto the Old Bedford River.
Skipper John Revell successfully negotiates his narrowboat ��Olive Emily�" through the tidal doors of the Old Bedford sluice onto the Old Bedford River.

Calls have been made to open up one of Britain’s oldest artificial rivers to boats .

The Old Bedford, which runs between Denver and Earith, near Chatteris, has been closed for eight years .

The Environment Agency sealed the channel over flooding fears in 2006.

But March-based narrow boat, the NB Olive Emily, with skipper John Revell an dcrew member David Venn, managed to navigate a section of the river.

Calls have been made to re-open the Old Bedford, which still retains a Public Right of Navigation. Mr Revell and Mr Venn were hoping to navigate Olive Emily from the lock at Salter’s Lode to the Lamb and Flag at Welney.

But unfortunately had to turn back a mile into the journey due to the weed.

Mr Revell said: “This latest attempt to again navigate the Old Bedford was to show that it is still possible to access the waterway in a narrowboat.

“There was enough depth of water at the start to collect more crew and we set off hoping to reach the Lamb and Flag at Welney. However just over a mile into the trip the river became shallower and the propeller began to collect masses of cottweed bringing us to a complete standstill. We turned around using poles and slowly made our way back to the Old Bedford sluice.This trip proved once more that it will remain difficult to reach Welney or Welches Dam lock until the Environment Agency takes action to make this river navigable again. It is not rocket science. They could increase the depth of water in the river, they could dredge and they could remove the cottweed.”