Moira Furnace Officials Hit Out After Canal Swimmers Cause Damage To 100-Year-Old Barge During Re-opening Weekend

  Posted: 03.08.20 at 17:41 by By Swadlincote Nub News

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Moira Furnace officials say their first weekend back fully open has been marred by trespass, criminal damage and theft from their 100-year-old canal barge The Joseph Wilkes.

Police have been informed following the discovery that items have been taken from the boat, wires tampered with and swimmers have been standing on the roof and using the barge to jump off.

As a result, security measures are now being upgraded to try and catch anyone who tries something similar - and now the there is the added possibility of police action being taken against anyone caught.

The barge is used to give visitor trips on the Ashby Canal which runs alongside the Museum and Country Park.

Operations Supervisor Tom Phillips told Swadlincote Nub News: “The majority of the people who come here, enjoy the site responsibly.

“But we have people here who work hard keeping the area looking so beautiful and it’s a real shame that, once again, the few are spoiling it for the majority.

“It comes at a time when we’ve re-opened the museum and we’re running the boat again on the canal. People have put hours of effort into that boat, it was all part of our out of water maintenance for insurance purposes.

“This time they went all out to completely repaint and tweaked the engine which is from a 1960s van. It’s sparkling and dazzling.

“Now we have people swimming out to it - it’s the only way you can get on to the boat while it’s chained up.

“They’re climbing on to it and throwing stuff into the canal among other things. You ask yourself ‘Why?’

“There’s a 10-12 foot gap either side but people have figured out how to get on to it. I’ve spoken to some youngsters who admit to jumping off but not to causing damage.

“The boat is over 100 years old and idiots are using it as a diving board and chucking stuff off because they think it’s a laugh.”

The Furnace’s Facebook page adds more details in a message posted on Monday which says: “As you may be aware, we have had young people swimming in the canal during the hot weather.

“This is dangerous due to hidden objects under the water and diseases that live in there. However, if they want to swim despite the warnings, then so be it.

“What we are aggrieved about is the damage they are doing to our beautiful 100-year-old canal barge, The Joseph Wilkes.

“Over the last week, we have had several things broken or gone missing. Last Monday, someone returned our antique life ring which has recently been lovingly repainted by a volunteer.

“It had been found on the canalside after someone had removed it from the boat. We are missing several umbrellas, the metal cap for the chimney stack hole, a sweeping brush, and have had our net we use for fishing out litter, broken, and discarded in the hedge. We have also had wires tampered with causing electrical issues.

"The boat, as you may know, is moored on chains in the middle of the basin with the only access being via the water, most likely swimming.

“As you can see from the mud on the roof, people have been standing on the roof, probably jumping off. This is trespass, criminal damage, and theft.

“The police have been informed and they are patrolling the site on a regular basis. We are in the process of upgrading our security and CCTV to assist us in getting the bottom of this.

“What we ask is that everyone continues to be vigilant and reports anything they see to us AND the police using their 101 service. The more calls they receive about such behaviour from differing people, the greater their presence on site.

“We don't like reporting on these kinds of things, especially after such a successful weekend, and want to once again thank everyone who has supported us.”

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