We don’t often moan on our blog but yesterday (Saturday 2/8) we, along with other boaters, got decidedly grumpy about BW Moorings at Brentford and have decided to commit our views to “print”. Let’s be straight, we are not unhappy by about the excellent practical assistance we got from local BW staff, or the great facilities that they have installed (washing machines, pump-out, showers etc.) just how BW have set up their mooring arrangements; more later.

We left Cowley at 9:00 and had a relatively uneventful trip on the lock-free section to Norwood, although we did find that Ewen Hardie (Barefoot for Burma) had stopped overnight on a boat just before Cowley Peachey. He aims to reach Westminster by Monday. Close to the M4 we also passed the other end of the waterways’ aggregate operation.

We took on water from the wharf at the top of the Hanwell Flight (Norwood). It is a shame that since we came up the flight in 2003 the BW yard has closed and has a desolate air. The Hanwell flight is still pretty and well maintained. The interpretation boards are very informative and describe how the flight was used when the Victorian asylum was in operation. The description of the ramps to allow horses get out of the canal if they “take a look” was particularly interesting. However, one can’t help thinking about what a grim area it must have been a century ago.

Hanwell Flight Lock Cottage

We arrived at Brentford around 2:00PM and found very little space on visitor moorings. This was despite the fact that those going onto the Thames and had already left and we had been assured on the phone that there was space. In fact they were in total just two moorings; one 55ft long and the other about 40ft long. By talking to the BW local staff we eventually managed to move an unoccupied boat and enlarge the 55 ft mooring into 60ft to fit in Albert.

Brentford Basin

As the afternoon progressed, the only remaining mooring filled up. You might presume from this congestion was all caused by a lot craft planning to take a trip down onto the Thames. You would be wrong. The moorings are 14 day maximum and most of the boats here were unoccupied when we arrived and remained so overnight.

It is quite clear that many boaters are using the basin not as a staging post for entering or leaving the canal system but as a convenient mooring place to leave their boats in London for days on end. Why does BW restrict and enforce 2 day maximum mooring at rural Cosgrove on the basis that it is a “honey-spot”, and then allow 14 mooring in Brentford basin when the congestion by boats passing through is great and the new facilities so good? It makes no sense.

Although BW has indicated on signage that they want narrow boats to double-up it takes a brave boater to double-up against a boat with no crew on-board; protocol demands that you ask permission. Our views on these difficulties were reinforced when in the early evening around eight boats came up from the Thames and searched in vain for moorings. Some used unauthorised moorings close to the Gauging Lock, some travelled north and then moored close to the A4; hardly an ideal location and what a welcome to the canal system particularly given the improved EA moorings at Teddington! Surely the whole point of the Brentford developments, so far as boating is concerned, is to encourage boaters to travel to and from the Thames and get them to stop and explore Brentford as they pass through, not to encourage them to leave their boats unoccupied for some time.

Steve discovered the Boatmans Institute, where boat children were educated when they were not travelling. We enjoyed a good Italian meal at Prezzo which overlooks the basin and saw a Hindu wedding going on in the nearby Holiday Inn. Through the large plate windows we saw the bride in her beautiful ornate dress and the guests were enjoying dancing to bangra.

At the far end of the basin we had a quiet night.

Boatmans Institute, Brentford