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Issue 456 - January 2011

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Happy New Year

As this is our first Newsletter of 2011 it gives me great pleasure to send all our members my best wishes for the New Year.

We are currently working to complete our remaining programme for the year and it is anticipated that, once again, we will be enjoying another year of interesting talks and events, with one or two trips thrown in for good measure.

First time ever ...

the December Inter-Society Quiz had to be postponed because of Snow and Icy conditions in early December! - Climate Change!!

Proposed new date for the quiz will be our APRIL meeting, Thursday 7th - 2 weeks before Easter. Please put a note in your "new" diaries as your support will be needed.

January 2011 Meeting

Fingers crossed, tonight will be our Members' Photographic Evening and Competition. We missed out last year due to the snow!

Everyone has the opportunity to show pictures that will entertain, amuse and/or educate their fellow members.

Our thanks to David Doulton for bringing along his Digital Projector this evening, for us to use as necessary.

New Year Lunch

Looking forward to this on Saturday January 15th. Thank you to Maureen for organising this yearly get together at the Blue Haze Restaurant.

February Meeting

At the meeting on Thursday 3rd February 2011, Alan and Jane Inder will give us a presentation on the "Talyllyn Railway". This will be an interesting evening. We are due an update: July 2003 was the last talk the Society had.

Request for Help

About the request in the December Newsletter. I don't know about the "senior colleagues" of the Society, but I recall the Timber Merchants by Northam Bridge as W M Howards.

Society Burgees

These are available at £12.50 each or £13.50 posted. Contact Angela, Club Secretary (details on this page).

Alan Rose

Aldermaston Wharf to go

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THE long expected plans to develop the historic Aldermaston Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal have now been submitted.

These plans are for the construction of three terraces of houses that will be built on the wharf area, but to appease the Kennet & Avon Trust the developers have agreed to restore the visitor centre and toll house.

Commercial venture

This is another commercial venture between British Waterways and the developers H2O, with British Waterways stating the plans have been undertaken following extensive consultation with local residents, Padworth Parish Council, the Kennet & Avon Canal Canal Trust and English Heritage.

Aiden Johnson-Hugill, Development Manager for H2O states:

"Our consultation has been a major help in informing and shaping the plans and we believe we have been able to address most of the issues raised. Our aim has always been to create a high quality development that retains the spirit of the historic area and the site's heritage."

Mixture of heights

Each house will have its own private garden space, both front and rear, as well as external storage space. The buildings will be arranged in three individual terraces and will be a mixture of heights ranging from 2.5 storeys to 1.5 storeys.

When the plans were first raised, objector Joan Dronal felt that:

"There will soon be nothing left on the Kennet & Avon as all the wharfs are being sold off. Talk about selling the family silver, it's not in it."

Many objections

There have been many objection to the loss of the wharf, with Ian Farthing, one objector remarking:

"It was all cooked-up between the canal trust and the companies, as the trust objected strongly but were 'bribed' by the promise of its visitor centre having a makeover. Turncoats are what they are."

Mike Rodd of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust stated:

"We initially had several reservations about the earlier plans. However, we are delighted with the way that H2O has responded in addressing our concerns. We feel the design of the new buildings is sympathetic to the listed visitor centre and toll house and fully support the latest plans."

The planning application will go before West Berkshire Council in early 2011.

Boatyard remains open

Throughout the development the existing boatyard will remain open, with Aiden Johnson-Hugill telling us:

"The development in no way affects the boat hire, chandlery and repair business at Aldermaston, no wharf side facilities have been affected by the proposals. In fact we hope that more people will be able to come and enjoy the waterway and its facilities as a result of the development here." 6 December 2010

Autumn Mornings

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A sunny, misty, frosty Sunday morning

On a sunny, misty, frosty Sunday morning in October the four boats Dove, Victoria, Stanton and Renfrew prepare to depart.

The boats had moored overnight in Braunston after the 2010 Jam 'Ole Run. The frost was hard enough to ensure that all ropes were frozen solid.

Photo: © Angela Rose

Steering in mist

The view from the stern of Stanton on the Oxford Canal south of Hawkesbury Junction one misty morning in October 2010.

Photo: © Laura Sturrock

'Heritage Heroes'

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Wey & Arun Canal Trust volunteers were thanked on 8 December in the splendour of the Banqueting House, Whitehall, London.

The Trust had gained a runner's up award for the volunteer work involved in getting the canal under the High Street at Loxwood, West Sussex, after 130 years of the route being blocked by a causeway.

The 'Heritage Heroes' certificate was presented by Loyd Grossman OBE, the Chairman of The Heritage Alliance. The presentation was followed by a speech by Jeremy Hunt MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. He paid tribute to the canal volunteers who are working on a project which few, if any, will see completed in their lifetimes.

The work to get under the High Street took several years and cost £1.9 million, all raised independently from central or local government money. As the road could not be raised, the Trust had had to lower the canal by 2m (approx 6ft) for a distance of 400m (over 400 yards). This had involved the major reconstruction of a lock at Brewhurst, the removal of 18,000 m3 of clay, the construction of a bridge tunnel and the building from scratch of a new lock at Loxwood. Many of the volunteers during those years were Trust members, but a great number came from visiting Waterway Recovery Groups.

The canal at this section was re-opened to boat traffic in April 2009.

Wey & Arun Canal Trust Press Release 12 December 2010

SCS Christmas/New Year Lunch

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Maureen Greenham says that the Christmas/New Year lunch, which is to be held at The Blue Hayes on Saturday 15 January, is now fully booked. Any queries, please contact Maureen as soon as possible either by telephone 02380 406951 or email

Government slash waterways grant

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IT HAS been announced today (Monday 20th December) that the government will cut waterways funding by 19%.

It was announced this afternoon by Defra that its grant to British Waterways will be reduced for 2011/12 by £9.8 millions to £41.5 millions, a reduction of 19% of the baseline grant of £51.3 millions.

Effective cut of 12%

Given that Government funding makes up approximately half of the net spend on the waterways, this will translate into an effective cut of resource available of about 12% in 2011/12.

The settlement represents the last annual grant to British Waterways in England and Wales before a longer term contract comes into place in April 2012 when the canals, rivers and docks in its care are expected to be transferred into a new charity.

£39 millions in future

Defra has also announced indicative funding from 2012/13 to 2014/15 will be an annual £39m, with a long-term commitment that a funding contract running up to at least 2022/23 will not fall below this level.

British Waterways' Chairman, Tony Hales, commented:

"In the current climate it would be unrealistic to expect British Waterways to be exempt from cuts in public spending, and we will have to make difficult decisions to ensure the continued maintenance of the historic canals and rivers in our care.

"The Government's commitment to the first ever long-term public funding settlement for the waterways is, however, a good step forward and I have been heartened by ministers' continued commitment to this 'Big Society' flagship."

Tony Hales went on to say that security of funding is fundamental to achieving the government's objective of establishing a new 'national trust' for the waterways, and though he had hoped for a larger settlement, he believes BW is one step closer to turning the long-held vision of a waterways charity into reality. 20 December 2010

Not such a Happy New Year

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IT WILL not be such an Happy New Year for British Waterways staff as an estimated 230 could be made redundant following its announcement that it may slash staff resources by 12% in 2011/2012. The announcement follows the Defra publication of allocations (grants) to 13 arm's length bodies including BW.

Defra allocation

Defra says that BW have been allocated £48.0m grant this year which will be cut by £6.5m to £41.5m in 2011/12. However, in a Press Release, BW did not use the Defra figure for this year (£48.0m) but a higher figure of £51.3m stating that the cut was almost £10m (rather than £6.5).

On the subject of longer term funding BW stated, 'Defra had also announced indicative funding from 2012/13 to 2014/15 will be an annual £39m, with a long-term commitment that a funding contract running up to at least 2022/23 will not fall below this level'.

Whilst Defra have certainly announced indicative funding for 2012/13 to 2014/15, no record can be found of an announcement concerning a long term funding contract.

Wishful thinking perhaps!

The cuts

It is not known where the job cuts will fall, but it is expected that core maintenance staff will bear the brunt as they represent over two thirds of the workforce.

Head Office will not be immune, however, and advantage will be taken of the closure of its Watford headquarters to shed staff. Cost savings may be in the region of £6.5m pa, the amount by which grant has been cut.

BW also estimate that volunteering cost-saving contribution will ramp up to £5m pa over the first ten years of the charity's life.


Directors are now faced with the challenge of convincing both workforce and public that staff will not be sacked simply to be replaced by volunteer labour.

They will also have to explain what happened to the £10m pa savings that should have been made following last year's reorganisation.

Finally they have the uphill task of convincing staff why £2.5m per year cannot be saved simply by aligning directors' remuneration with that of the National Trust.

That, in itself, would safeguard 100 jobs!

Allan Richards, 28 December 2010

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