All posts by Bonded Warehouse

Despite Covid-19 Lockdown Work Continues at SNT

We thought that our loyal supporters and the public at large may be interested to know what has been going on at the Bonded Warehouse during the last 6 months of ‘lockdown’ due to the Coronavirus Cov-19 pandemic. Despite the limiting nature of the measures required as a result of the Coronavirus Cov-19 pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of annual events at the Bonded Warehouse we have managed to make a lot of progress with many of the major projects which were approved at our January 2020 Trust Meeting.

Passers-by may have noticed the recent scaffolding which was required to safely facilitate the last stage of repairs to the roof of the office buildings. We took the opportunity of the scaffolding being in place to commission a replacement of guttering and re-pointing of the rear wall which in places was in a poor state causing water ingress through the walls causing damp patches in the ground floor parlour and stairwell. A job well done and one which will safeguard the integrity of the building for many years to come.

Following the successful refurbishment of the Ladies toilets last year, the same extensive treatment has been given to the Men’s toilet in the Bonded Warehouse. One of the few advantages of the building being closed is that the contractor could work safely, avoiding interaction with our customers and generally it didn’t cause us any bookings inconvenience as the building wasn’t being used. All the tiling and flooring has been finished too and it does look very nice and to a high standard – Gents please watch your aim!

The three boilers in the Bonded Warehouse have been serviced with the good news that they have passed the required tests and we have a new gas safety certificate. Repair work has also been done on the control panel in the Bonded Warehouse for the heating system, requiring the replacement of a few outdated components. The gas meter in the Bonded Warehouse has also been changed. The electrician has completed the annual electrical inspection at the Bonded Warehouse and this has pleasingly passed without any further work needed to be carried out. Nine new LED lights have been fitted in the Brindley Room, securely attached by new cables to the beams to prevent hirers from attaching items around them. Two new ceiling lights outside the toilets have also been fitted and the outside lighting by the fire escape is now working properly on the light sensor. The new lights are very bright when you look directly at them so have been finely adjusted to avoid them shining into people’s eyes.

Of course all of the above projects will enhance and safeguard the buildings and some of the maintenance tasks are now mandatory to ensure that as a facility used by the public it is a certified as safe – this has meant a significant hit on our funding given that our main income streams have needed to be cancelled, but due to great fiscal diligence by our Treasurer, Chris Dyche, we are keeping our heads above water (no pun intended – well OK it was!) and financially we are positioned satisfactorily going forwards and certainly better off than many other charitable organisations and businesses who have serious concerns for their survival.

We are delighted to report that following a risk assessment and consultation with many of our regular hirers (e.g. Yoga and Slimming World) we are now starting to ‘open up’ the Bonded Warehouse as long as social distancing measures and other Government guidelines are complied with. Pilates classes on Mondays and Thursdays during the day are also resuming on 7th September, Meditation class are considering returning on 9th September. Yoga evening classes are considering returning towards the end of September along with the Stourbridge Bonsai Society.

Posters and hand sanitisers are in place in the building as protective safeguards for our hirers. Our Manager, Heide, has sent out our risk assessment and special conditions of hire with regard to Covid-19 to our regular hiring groups and any groups that are returning will have to add their Covid-19 risks to their risk assessment form. Groups such as Slimming World that have multiple sessions in one room hire meeting will be exiting the building from the Brindley room down the rear fire escape and out through the gate into Canal Street using a one way system.

Malcolm, one of our stalwart Tuesday Club volunteers, has kindly put up hand towel dispensers in the Kitchen, Green room in the Bonded Warehouse, basement kitchen and the Elsan, as we can’t use our normal towels due to Covid-19. Disposable / once usable paper towels are a cleaner safer option. Also the office building has been fitted with two dispensers in lieu of hand dryers.

Our manager has held a meeting with our Cleaner and Caretaker to discuss issues about re-opening the building and agreed enhanced cleaning procedures, they have been provided with -Covid-19 cleaning requirements for them to follow and to decide on a cleaning schedule to work around the groups that will be hiring. PPE such as plastic aprons, gloves and a face visor have been made available as we need to insure their safe working conditions and also that of the public that are using our buildings.

This essential preparation has clearly involved a lot of work by our Manager to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude in working hard to ensure that we are all as safe as possible.

Malcolm again has been very busy undertaking Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in the Bonded Warehouse and the offices, yesterday he was working all day in the basement to ensure that all of our electrical items, and there quite a few are working safely and compliant with the standards – thank you Malcolm, it is most appreciated.

On the technology front, we have invested in BT’s new BT Halo System which commenced on 19th August so it will be a change over from a normal phone line to the internet based solution which affords greater clarity on the new handsets and has inbuilt resilience of 4G in the event of broadband outage. On the back of the installation of the necessary new router we have installed three BT Wi-Fi extender disks to give improved coverage across the offices and the warehouse for the benefit of our volunteers but also as a service improvement to our hirers who will soon be able to access the managed free to use Guest Wi-Fi service.

In addition, because we were having problems with the annual PCI DSS certification, we have installed a new Credit Card device using GPRS access which will improve our capability to take payments in both buildings using a roaming SIM – the signal is excellent even in the carpark.

Letters have been posted to all of our Tuesday Club volunteers providing them with an update of activities and importantly asking if they would like to return back on 1st September. We are pleased to report that the group has since reformed and have an unusual and quite beneficial situation in that they can concentrate on routine maintenance tasks for the immediate future as resources will not be required to orchestrate the Open Weekend and Santa Trips – the proverbial silver lining in the Coronavirus dark cloud. Expect to see many a paint brush earnestly in action over the forthcoming months. Just today one team replaced a rotting window cill on the top floor of the rounded end of the building whilst others did a litter pick (4 bins full) and tidied the overgrowing vegetation on the carpark which now looks much better.

If you would like to join us at the Tuesday Club please get in touch as many hands do indeed make light work. It is a fulfilling role and one to which you can commit as much or little time as you are able.

We hope that you find this update of interest, useful to know and that you will return to provide your valued support to Stourbridge Navigation Trust in 2021 when perhaps we can return to some sort of normality.

Bonded Warehouse Re-opens for Slimming World !

We have some good news to report for a change in what was been an unprecedented difficult year for us all –  our first  room booking for a community event cautiously went ahead without any problems on the evening of the 11th August.
This was in partnership with our good friends at Slimming World who bought their  national standards and expertise of Coronavirus measures from their professional risk assessment to safeguard their clients. They were split into smaller groups, kept at appropriate safe social distances and channelled through a one-way system using the rear exit.
Slimming World will run a repeat session this week under the same controls and for the immediate future until lockdown is further released slowly.
Our Chairman, extended thanks to everyone involved in getting the building up and running again, particularly Heide, the SNT Manager, who we jest has cornered the market in Bluetak as she has  printed, laminated and put up so many signs to ensure everyone knows the rules.
Soon we will be hosting and assisting our regular  Yoga and Pilates sessions to get up and running.

2020 Open Weekend and Santa Boat Trips Cancelled.

With there still being much uncertainty about the ongoing risks and longer-term impacts of the current Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, after much consideration and discussion during a meeting of the Trustees of the Stourbridge Navigation Trust, with reluctance it has been decided to cancel both the Annual Open Weekend in October 2020 and the popular Annual Santa Boat Trip experience at the Bonded Warehouse on all weekends in December 2020.

It is our sincere hope that it will be possible to safeguard all of our volunteers, visitors, boaters, traders, entertainers and food retailers, sufficiently to organise the Open Weekend in 2021 in its traditional usual weekend of Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th October 2021.

Santa sends his sincere apologies and his elves are distraught at the thought of disappointing all of the lovely children who come to see him. However, we hope that you will all understand why this decision needed to be taken. It does give the elves an opportunity to plan for a bigger and better Santa experience in 2021 and we have already pencilled in the dates for weekends next year (10th/11th/12th December and 18th/19th December) as Santa is a busy man!

Trustees and volunteers thank you for your continuing support and understanding in these difficult times.

“We, including Santa and his elves will be back!”

NEWSFLASH: Bonded Warehouse Closed.

It may come as no surprise but with great disappointment we have to advise you that the Stourbridge Navigation Trust  premises, including the Bonded Warehouse,  are now formally closed due to the Coronavirus COVID-19.

We have clearly needed to adhere to government instructions and the closure for an undetermined period of time was always in the offing as the virus spread with many of our hirers needing to cancel their bookings, again correctly following government and expert medical guidance. 

 The Trust Manager, Heide,  will be arranging her attendance in the office as required but will mainly undertake her vital duties by working from home. If you do wish or need to contact her, the best mechanism is by email in the first instance ( and if necessary a time to speak on the telephone can be arranged.

We are very sorry to have to close this vibrant community hub as it pays an important role for many of our valued customers as well as providing the income stream the Trust, as a Registered Charity, requires to maintain and operate the unique buildings. We do hope that this pandemic will pass in the coming months and we are grateful for your anticipated understanding of the position we and many similar organisations find themselves in.

We will be back !

In the meantime, keep safe and we thank you for your support.

Blackcountry Man Boat Trips – Coronavirus Cancellations

Due to restrictions put in place to help fight the current Coronavirus pandemic we are going to adhere to Government advice and cancel/postpone all of our boat trip bookings for the months of April and May 2020.

Like many others in our position we will monitor the situation closely and make decisions based on Government and Public Health advice as to our intentions with regard to trips booked to embark after these dates.

We will be issuing updates on a regular basis on our website and Facebook Group Page.

If we have not been in touch with you individually regarding refunds please ring us on 07889 908090 with the date of your trip and the ticket number on the ticket.

We are currently looking to arrange further trips later in the year if the situation improves sufficiently  to enable us to operate these.

Thanking you all for your patience and understanding in these very difficult times.


Jen’s Tailored Events : Wedding Fayre – Sunday 1st March 2020

If you are getting hitched real soon then why not pop down to the Bonded Warehouse on Sunday 1st March from 11.00am until 3.00pm to get some tips from local Wedding suppliers who can help to make your special day really special.

Free Prosecco and Goody bags to the first 25 Brides to be.

 If you are interested in demonstrating your specific wedding service at this event please contact Jen’s Tailored Events on 07578 817097 and not the Bonded Warehouse.

Free entry. Free parking.


Flood Averted (just!)

The Bonded Warehouse (housing a partly assembled Santa’s Grotto) had a narrow escape last Thursday night due to the River Stour bursting it’s banks – the flood water reached half way across Canal Street judging by the tide mark of mud and was coming up the road drains. There was no more than 2 inches of clearance under the bridge across to the old Evans & White factory and beyond the bridge the area cleared by the land preparation work was a wide flooded plain. Thank goodness for all the land preparation work for the new development which has probably saved us from a big and chaotic flood.

We are in debt to Ann Pollard, one of our Trustees (and a moored boater) who asked a volunteer (John Ganner) and her husband Gareth to attend site at lunchtime to put the defence barrier in the basement – they were both soaked due to the heavy rain and we are very grateful to them indeed in taking this action.

The stable block on the opposite side of Canal Street from the warehouse  was subject of water ingress but there was no major damage caused though it is a bit whiffy as it gradually dries out. The photograph shows just how far the water reached – ironically impacting the freshly repaired and painted end door of the stable block which serves as access to the bar on Open Weekends – another touch up job to add to the list. The basement of the Bonded Warehouse was checked on the Friday morning and everything is fine other than just a very small amount of mud was showing on the inside of the door – Santa continues !! Phew !!


Stourbridge Army Cadet Force “armed” by SNT

The Trust’s complimentary association with the Stourbridge Platoon of the Army Cadets Force has been going for 2 years now and has proved to be mutually very beneficial. Visitors to the recent Open Weekend would have seen the local platoon being highly visible either at their recruitment stand or helping out around the site during the course of both days. All of this voluntary work  is great evidence to support  their contribution to “community activity” for Duke of Edinburgh awards, so counts for not only the platoon but also for individual cadets aspiring towards this hard earned and prestigious award.

In exchange for their valued efforts a number of  “Tuesday Club” volunteers down at the Bonded Warehouse have,  over the last year, carefully tooled an armoury of wooden rifles which were in short supply and would have cost a lot of money to have been commercially produced. The work was quite intricate actually as there are some very tight angles to cut and a good amount of detail in the wooden weapons.

The Trust was delighted to receive a “Thank You” card from the platoon with the message “Dear Stourbridge Navigation Trust Volunteers, thank you for all your hard work producing wooden rifles for our Cadets. They are outstanding quality and really enhance training. As you can see in the covering photograph they will be well used, best Wishes, Stourbridge Platoon, Army Cadet Force.”

The photograph above shows the SNT Chairman, David Caunt, who has personally spent a lot his time helping to produce the rifles, lined up with a number of Cadets sporting the new rifles.

We look forward to continuing our effective working relationship with Stourbridge Platoon in the coming years.



Macmillan Coffee Morning Success

A  craft group that hire the Trust’s Boardroom on a weekly basis hosted the annual Macmillan coffee morning  on September 26th from 11.00am until 12.30pm.  Heide the Trust Manager also helped them to provide an enjoyable session in aid of a very worthwhile cause. There were plenty of visitors including passers by and indeed a variety of cakes to choose from and savour.

This is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer. People all over the UK  host their own Coffee Mornings and donations on the day are made to Macmillan who do good work in understanding the support people with cancer need to live their lives as fully as they can. From the moment of diagnosis and whenever we’re most needed,  they there to help people find their best way through. Their  help is totally focused on each individual person, so everyone receives the support that’s best for them.

We are pleased and proud that the event at the Bonded Warehouse raised £200 which was a great effort on the part of the craft group organisers and Heide so well done and thank you all to them.