Thames & Medway Canal
The Thames & Medway Canal Association’s work party made some progress in spite of Covid restrictions by keeping pace with the abundant reed growth and clearing a line of sight toward the obelisk on the southern bank – the obelisk used to identify to which diocese the fishing rights belonged: London to the west and Rochester to the east. TMCA did manage to conclude the installation and dedication of benches which now provide an excellent view over the RSPB marsh area to the Thames. The association’s base at Mark Lane is now fully established and is ideal for sheltering from the elements, taking refreshments, storing tools and equipment, and for having an alfresco lunch when the weather is kind; as it is next to a Metropolitan Police training site, it is also fairly secure.
A time-consuming item has been the response to a proposal to develop land adjacent to Gravesend Canal basin. A 600m stretch was infilled in the early 1970s separating the Thames basin from the canal. TMCA and IWA have been in discussion with the developer of half the section which has finally agreed to construct a channel of suitable size and design with the provision of a clear area as a passing place to enable its future development. The original plan was for just three separate pools of water merely to represent the canal separated by solid ‘bridges’ which was totally unsuitable. The intention is to provide a navigable waterway with the least amount of work, but this is still a huge challenge as bridges and locks are needed. The latest plans can be seen at albionwaterside.co.uk.
Around 3 miles eastward, the canal is now impassable. The planning authorities have advised that to dredge this section would be prohibitive due to asbestos contamination; therefore TMCA is developing this section for wildlife. The intention now is to link the canal basin with the section from Mark Lane. The association is in discussions with both the council and the developers, with invaluable help from IWA, to establish the requirement for a more useable and joined-up waterway which one day it is hoped will provide respite and moorings for those entering and leaving the Thames.