Access: docks in London

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Digimeister
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Access: docks in London

Post by Digimeister » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:51 pm

I've just been out for a paddle on Greenland Dock in East London. Two different people came to tell me this is not allowed: one from the watersports centre based beside the dock, one from the marina that occupies part of it. Apparently the dock is owned by Southwark Council, who employ people to "control" it, i.e. to tell me to get off it.

I'm so used to the access situation in Wales now that it hadn't even occurred to me that anyone would try to stop me. So... how is this dock different from a Welsh river? I crossed no private property to access it, and did no damage to the "property" I was apparently trespassing on once on the water. I told the bloke from the watersports centre this, and he just got huffy and refused to discuss things further. I told him I'd continue to paddle on it, and he went away but didn't look pleased.

Any suggestions? How is the law any different because this is a man-made dock, yet almost exclusively bordered by public roads?
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Sophie
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Sophie » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:15 pm

Hmm, interesting one. It may come under the same category as canals, which you are required to have a BCU licence for. I've never really questioned this before since these are maintained waterways. I guess a dock is a maintained area too, but it is Thames water. You would have thought council-owned land would also be public, much like a park. On the other hand reservoirs are usually owned by the water authorities, and access is restricted. It would be interesting to know what their argument for not allowing you on the water was. Many of the other docks in East London are used by rowing clubs and for swimming

mfflower
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by mfflower » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:28 pm

According to this website run the by environment agency:
"If you own a canoe, you can take it anywhere on the River Thames once you have registered it with the Environment Agency".

So yes you can. If memory serves correctly we get one free registration for affiliating to the BCU. I remember getting a sticker to stick to something for just that purpose. Not sure if it's still true though.

Edit: An un-powered registration appears to be £29.50 for the year - so in theory everyone who does DW has to pay the fee?

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Pete the kayaker
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Pete the kayaker » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:37 pm

The answer is that because the dock is man-made and it was built on private property (by the 1st Duke of Bedford) you are probably trespassing. This is different to a Welsh river in that the owners do actually possess deeds for the property. However as you point out, it is now owned by Southwark Council, so if you could face the labyrinthine tangle of sorting out who you should ask - you may be able to get permission (as you should - they no doubt purchased it with rate-payers/tax payers money). The other option is to ask the watersports centre operative what his issue is and not to get the hump or be be blue and blubber about about it ;)

There will always be some clown around who will tell you that it's illegal to paddle, whatever the circumstances.

BTW Mfflower - your points only refer to the non-tidal Thames above Teddington.
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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:52 pm

Presumably the man from the watersports centre would happily take a fee off you and allow you access from his premises. Speculating of course.

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morsey
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by morsey » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:01 pm

They have loads of stuff on the council website, links to the BCU, a current Watersports Photo/art competition.
They even have contact info:

Contact us:
Jay Yeats
Head of leisure and wellbeing
Tel: 020 7525 0891
jay.yeats@southwark.gov.uk

I would wager a guess that BCU membership might cover you for use (RYA membership appears to cover use).


(On a slight aside the university canoe clubs in Bristol get free docks licenses from the council/Harbour master, and club membership covers those in the Bristol canoe club)

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quicky
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by quicky » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:21 pm

Difficult one as it may well be a private … need to look at the status of the Dock,,, some are owned… needs to be checked.

This has just come out from the Port of London Authority (PLA) re canoeing on the tidal Thames…

http://www.pla.co.uk/display_dynamic.cf ... recreation

PLA have jurisdiction up to Teddington and it’s the EA above that… and Yes the DW does have to get licences.. if the people taking part are not members of Canoe England
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Kayacb
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Kayacb » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:55 pm

It's a sticky wicket, the dock is not natural in any way and so in a way like the nene, you will proberbly find that although there is public access the land in actually private surrounding the dock and permission is required to use the water.

A much easier (Trained over the winter for the dw and not a peep)place to paddle is just the other side of the Rotherhithe tunnle on the Regents canal. (Free parking too)

All of the dock based centres will charge you a fee for use of the water as they have to pay for a licence to run activites. There are several and prices vary.

Royal Victoria Docks

Shadwell

Docklands Sailing centre

Surry Docks (You've met them)

There is also Southmere if you are ever over Belvedere/Plumstead way Which is headed by a most accomadating chap!

Alex

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Randy Fandango
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Randy Fandango » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:41 pm

Kayacb wrote:
There is also Southmere if you are ever over Belvedere/Plumstead way Which is headed by a most accomadating chap!

Alex
Oh I wouldn't say that. I've heard he's a regular PITA when crossed.....
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Mike A
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Mike A » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:49 pm

Not just in London that there are issues with docks.

My local docks are part of British Waterways network, and are easily accessible via a number of slips, however to use the water you are required to have a "water users license" from the harbour master.

This license is not available to individuals, so thats me scuppered as I'm not a member of a club, and the BCU agreement with BW apparantly does not apply.

cerberus1957
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by cerberus1957 » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:53 am

Dear Sir

I was interested to read your account of the events of last week, when a member of my staff, kindly asked you to stop paddling on Greenland dock due to safety and control issues. If you would like to visit the watersports centre, I am sure that all the points you raised in your posting can be explained and you can obtain a clearer understanding of the rules governing the use of Greenland Dock.

You can, after consulation witn the PLA, use the River Thames, but I would not advise doing so unless weraing a Buoyancy Aid, something that you had forgotton to put on last week.

Kind regards

Andrew

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morsey
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by morsey » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:25 am

Andrew seeing as though you took the time to come here and post, perhaps you could answer the questions raised here?


Not wearing a bouyancy aid on a flat water dock, outrageous behaviour!
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RichA
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by RichA » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:39 am

Indeed, I feel it would be useful to post the reasons on here so that more than just one person will be aware of the issues. Two birds with one stone and all that...

Digimeister
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by Digimeister » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:28 pm

Thanks for all the comments and advice everyone.

A few replies:

Yes, I could pay to join the centre, and get access "during their kayaking sessions". But for me the main attraction is going out for a quick paddle whenever I want, and having the dock to myself...

Yes, I could paddle on the Thames. I will do so from now on, simply to avoid hassle.

Yes, I will wear a BA on the Thames. On the dock, I would be happy to do so if it makes anyone happier. However, contrary to Andrew's post, this was not given as a reason for asking me not to paddle, it was merely mentioned in passing. As morsey points out, its not actually necessary to wear a BA on flat water... I wasn't wearing my deck, drysuit, helmet or elbow pads either.

I'm intrigued by these "safety and control issues". When I was apprehended on my paddle round the dock, there were several local youths jumping off the quayside into the dock, generally enjoying the water and the sunshine. It seems to me that they posed a far greater "saftey and control" risk to themselves and to others than I did, yet no one tried to stop them. I am an accomplished kayaker, but even if I was not and I got into difficulties on the dock, I find it hard to see how anyone other than myslef could possibly be to blame.

Andrew, I feel we should have this discussion here, in public. I understand that you and your staff have a job to do. My objections go rather deeper - Southwark council spends my taxes on owning and maintaining this lock, and I feel I should be allowed to enjoy them, much as I would a public park. Perhaps you can tell me if being a BCU member would allow me free access? It would give me an incentive to join again for the first time in many years. It would also mitigate some of your concerns over safety and control. If this is not the case then at some point I may approach Southwark council and suggest this, but I'd appreciate your opinions.

Ralph.
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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by TechnoEngineer » Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:25 pm

Treebasher - you could try Brentford Boating Arch.
Digimeister wrote:I am an accomplished kayaker, but even if I was not and I got into difficulties on the dock, I find it hard to see how anyone other than myslef could possibly be to blame.
What you have to bear in mind is that someone who's not up to your standard could imitate you, get into trouble, and then the owner of the facility could be held responsible. It's akin to a swimming pool, they wouldn't let you swim without a lifeguard on duty.

On the Thames there's also a "terrorism" concern with canoes/kayaks loitering near bridges, ships and docks.
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Re: Access: docks in London

Post by twopigs » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:33 pm

TechnoEngineer wrote: On the Thames there's also a "terrorism" concern with canoes/kayaks loitering near bridges, ships and docks.
Wow! I guess we'll have to check in and have our kit examined for devices...... They don't check the underside of cars do they? I remember those days when taking a car onto MoD property involved mirrors on wheels, a check under the bionnet and in the boot.....
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