Canal development could mark turning point for Ramsey

RAMSEY could become a venue for river festivals with new houses overlooking an ever-changing waterways scene and narrow boats travelling up and down. All it needs is a turning point on the Ramsey High Lode Canal large enough for modern boats – and that wo

RAMSEY could become a venue for river festivals with new houses overlooking an ever-changing waterways scene and narrow boats travelling up and down.

All it needs is a turning point on the Ramsey High Lode Canal large enough for modern boats - and that would be a real turning point for the town, campaigners say, because it would open up the waterway to the whole of the rest of England.

Nigel Long, secretary of the Inland Waterways Association for Peterborough, told The Hunts Post: "This would connect the canal to 2,200 miles of waterway, allowing boats to visit from any part of England, not only producing a vibrant basin in Ramsey but bringing in people who would spend money in the town."

Mr Long said the restoration had been held up by uncertainty about the development of the northern end of Ramsey but, now that had been resolved, the issue should be tackled.


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The restoration project is the vision of retired teacher John Taylor (husband of the current mayor of Ramsey, Councillor Pat Taylor) and last year's mayor of the town, Councillor Neil Dick.

The two men have launched a campaign to regenerate the Ramsey Basin, to turn it from a near-derelict area to a thriving tourist attraction.

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Mr Taylor told The Hunts Post: "Here we would have the enjoyment of the variety, colour and spectacle of boating pageantry at its best. Such improvements would enhance the town in so many ways."

Currently the Ramsey Basin - once a thriving dock where the stone for Ramsey Abbey was unloaded in the 11th century - is too narrow for boats to turn round so that traffic does not travel so far up the canal.

Mr Taylor said: "Modern narrow boats are longer than the 62 feet turning circle offered by the basin. Unable to turn round, they would then have to reverse the three-quarters of a mile back to the Bill Fen Marina. This is no easy task in a craft of that length. The basin needs to be widened to cope with the 72-foot boats now popular with the hire boat companies for the family holiday trade."

He added that the work needs to be done before the land was built on by developers about to regenerate the north end of Ramsey.

He said: "With the on-going construction work at the northern approach to the town and the imminent development of this area, including a new superstore and a community centre, this is an ideal opportunity to turn a neglected area into a real asset for the town."

He said: "This is a godsend that is not being capitalised on. From the developer's point of view, houses overlooking a viable waterway and a moving landscape must be worth at least 30 per cent more than homes overlooking a derelict canal.

"We need to act now because, once there is Tesco on one side of the canal and houses on the other side, no one is going to want to excavate under the buildings."

He added: "The landing stages at the Ramsey end of the High Lode have collapsed on one side of the moorings, and the whole area looks very sad and in need of refurbishment."

Mr Taylor and Councillor Dick are proposing to form a company called Ramsey Navigation so they can approach Huntingdonshire District Council and other bodies for support and grants.

INFORMATION: If you have an interest in boating and developing this area for the benefit of Ramsey or if it just sounds the sort of project you would like to know more about, e-mail John Taylor at ramseytaylors@hotmail.com or neil_dick@msn.com.

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