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Issue 410 - February 2007

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Chairman's Column

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February Meeting

I am afraid that we have an unforeseen change of speaker this month. Neil Arlidge had been booked to speak to us about the "Adventures of the Tuesday Night Club". However, due to a diary glitch, Neil is unable to attend but he has been re-booked to speak to us in November.

We are very grateful to George Fleming who has stepped into the breach at very late notice. We had George down on our list of likely speakers for the future. Members will remember George's excellent presentation of "Waterways at War" last July. His topic this month is "The Royal Military Canal".

Spring Outing

I am pleased to confirm that the re-arranged Society outing to the Wey & Arun Canal will be held on Saturday 21 April. Details will be as before viz. we have chartered the Canal Trust's narrow boat "Zachariah Keppel" which operates from the "Onslow Arms" at Loxwood in Sussex. The plan is to start the boat trip on the restored Loxwood Section at 10.30am. On our return, lunch can be taken in the "Onslow Arms". We are hoping that, as planned originally, the Trust Chairman, Peter Foulger, will be able to show members around his restored Brewhurst Mill, just a short distance away from the canal. We are awaiting confirmation regarding that aspect.

The cost for the boat trip will be £7.50 per person or £5 for children. Members will be responsible for making their own way to Loxwood (in accordance with our usual practice) and for the cost of meals etc.

The "Zachariah Keppel" only accommodates 30 passengers so early booking is essential. Full details of this trip including Maureen Greenham's contact information are on the back page of this Newsletter.

Skittles Evening

A reminder about the Society Skittles Evening, organised by Rogan Olding, which will be held at "The Kings Head" in Hursley on Friday 9 March. Rogan and I were delighted with the initial response to the announcement of this event when seventeen members expressed interest. The total cost is £10 per person which includes food. The maximum capacity of the skittle alley is about thirty and similar Society events in the past have sold out. So don't miss the opportunity of joining with your colleagues in this excellent social event. Full details are advertised on the back page of this Newsletter. Rogan will now require your money to confirm the booking!

Paul Herbert

January Meeting

Members' Slides, Prints and Photo Competition

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This is always a very popular and well attended annual event and this year's was no exception. As last year, we were shown slides, photographs and digital images. The following members exhibited their work: Anne Coleman, Brian Evans, David James, Frank Stokes, Tony Fry, Paul Taylor, Michael Pomeroy and Andy Berncastle.

We saw:-

(Sorry I cannot include details of all the photographs shown - simply far too many to list them all).

During the evening we ran the annual photographic competition, which attracted eight entries. As always there was a varied range of exhibits but the clear winner was Brian Evans with a photograph of the River Severn at Worcester, who was awarded with the prize of a bottle of wine. Congratulations Brian.

Thanks to all those members who participated in a very interesting and enjoyable evening.

Particular thanks to Peter Oates who spent the evening juggling with images in different formats, moving quickly from the Society's trusty old slide projector to our episcope to the laptop with its linked projector. Well done Peter - you must admit we always try and keep you on your toes! Thanks also to Peter and Laura for the loan of their laptop and projector.

Paul Herbert

News of the Waterways

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Breach on the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal

A 1.5-mile stretch of the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal in South Wales was drained following a breach on 17 January. A culvert beneath the bed of the waterway had collapsed, allowing water to escape from the canal channel and run into the adjacent river Usk.

BW's engineers undertook an initial survey of the site and made safe the surrounding area over the next two days. Contractors were sourced and commenced on site on Monday 22nd January. Design engineers have been on site throughout 22nd to 26th January and are currently finalising timings for the completion of necessary works. Repairs are expected to cost in the region of £500,000.

The canal and its towing path will remain closed between Bridge 122, two miles west of Llangattock, and Bridge 129, close to the village of Llangynidr. None of the boats that use the canal were affected by the sudden reduction in water levels.

BW has previously said that, following the funding cuts, it has no spare budget for repairs if there were to be a major breach on its waterways over the winter. Until BW engineers have assessed the scale of the works needed to repair this breach, it is not clear how quickly repairs can be put in hand.

John Fletcher, IWA national chairman, took part in Radio 5 Live's 'drivetime' programme the afternoon of 16th January, and drew attention to the risks and adverse consequences of the DEFRA cuts in funding for BW and the Environment Agency, pointing out the difficulties that could occur in the event of a breach such as this.

A full report and pictures of the breach are on IWA website

Protest Cruise

The protest cruise past the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 16th January was a resounding success. There was a good selection of boats, large and small, all with appropriate banners. Eight MPs, a selection of TV crews and media reporters, and representatives from all the user main user groups (including IWA vice presidents David and Sheila Suchet and Chris Coburn) took part in the cruise aboard the passenger vessel Kingwood (provided free of charge by King Cruisers) organised by IWA and British Marine Federation. The rain just held up for all the MPs to stand out on deck and wave their support; there were no accidents or unwanted incidents, and the media coverage exceeded expectation. The event appeared on the breakfast, lunchtime and early evening news of nearly all the TV channels, featured on Radio 4's Farming Today programme in the morning, and a seven-minute live interview with John Fletcher on Radio 5 Live at peak-listening time in the afternoon. David Suchet featured as 'IWA's spokesman' on BBC News. The event also featured on local radio programmes throughout the country, as well as in many newspapers, including, prior to the event, the Daily Express and Sunday Telegraph. There are photos of the cruise on IWA's web site and also at

Lorry Hits Middlewich Aqueduct

Middlewich Aqueduct which carries the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal over the A530 was struck by a skip lorry on Thursday 25th January. The impact resulted in the spandrel wall above the arch ring being lifted approximately 200mm upwards and 50mm outwards. This wall is now unstable and requires urgent repair. The structure is Grade II listed.

Navigation and visitors on the towing path are unaffected at present and the waterway remains open. The A530 has been closed and will remain so until the works are complete. BW's contractors planned to commence works on site on Tuesday 30th January. The works are expected to take 4 weeks.

There are pictures and a fuller copy of this report at

Visitors to BW waterways

BW have provided the following breakdown of numbers of visitors to their waterways for 2005:

Visits to a specific attraction 6.5 million
Visits from anglers 4.8 million
Visits to use a boat with an engine 7.3 million
Visits to use a boat without an engine 1.6 million
Visits to walk, ramble, run for leisure 116.1 million
Visits to walk dogs 90.0 million
Visits to get somewhere else 41.3 million
Visits from cyclists 24.7 million
Visits for other purpose 4.9 million
Total Visits 297.2 million

This works out to a government contribution of just over 18p per visit - without taking into account all the other benefits of the inland waterways such as their drainage function, which is otherwise unpaid for.

Whilst comparable figures are not available for the waterways managed by the Environment Agency, it is considered likely that similar proportions of visitors benefit from its waterways, albeit that towing paths are not consistent alongside all river navigations. The figures were requested by users at a meeting with BW to help demonstrate to politicians the wide diversity of people benefiting from the waterways, albeit that only a very small percentage of these people make a direct contribution.

IWA remains totally dissatisfied with the poor response from government ministers to the representations made by waterway users, and over 200 MPs, for the cuts to grant-in-aid to be restored.

Future Protest Events

A programme of events is being organised throughout the country over the weekend of 3rd & 4th March, similar to that organised over the last weekend in November 2006. However, the emphasis on this occasion will be to demonstrate the widest support of all waterway users, as well as boaters. IWA is working closely with all other waterway user groups in this campaign and is encouraging all IWA branches to consider organising an event in their area, and to invite local MPs along to accept letters of protest to deliver to government.

Events are currently being organised at Camden Lock, London; Braunston; Marsworth; Devizes, Newbury and Pewsey on the Kennet & Avon; Hertford; Leicester; and Cheddleton on the Caldon Canal. In addition to these definite plans, there are possible events being discussed for Pontcysyllte, the Rufford Branch, Macclesfield, Fradley and Tamworth.

Other News

Early Day Motion 90 (Inland Waterways No 2) currently has signatures from 207 MPs - sixth out of 821 motions. EDM 50 (Inland Waterways) has also been signed by 157 MPs. There are at least six further EDMs with waterways related motions. Some Tory MPs have expressed some reluctance to support EDM 90 because of the requested guarantee of funding for BW.

Will Chapman's e-petition to the Prime Minister on the Number 10 website ( currently has been signed by 5,605 members of the public but still needs more. This petition must be signed by 21 February 2007.

Based on IWA News and Press Releases

Skittles Evening

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Sweet & Sour Chicken
Vegetarian Option

Bookings and further information from
Tel: 02380 263660

Spring Outing & Boat Trip

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Zachariah Keppel





Possible visit to the restored Brewhurst Mill

ADULTS: £7.50 CHILDREN: £5.00

Bookings and further information from


Tel: 02380 406951


Local Cruises

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Organised by the IWA Solent & Arun Branch:

Sun 1 Jul 2007 - A transit of Port Creek between Portsea Island and the mainland. Trailable motor boats with a low headroom should be able to navigate from Fareham town quay all the way through to Langstone harbour, for a one way or return trip. High water is around 13:00 BST

Sat 15 Sep 2007 - All boats invited for the bi-annual Hamble cruise, from Swanwick to Curbridge and Botley Quay. High water around 14:30 will take us up for a pub/picnic lunch and a visit to the restored quay on the second rise in the tide.

Further information from Peter Boyce: 07729 139765. Email:

Send your comments to the Web Site manager (Peter Oates)

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2007. Except where otherwise indicated, information on these pages may be reproduced provided permission is obtained from the Web Site manager beforehand and due acknowledgement made to the Society.

Page created 3 February 2007 - archived 2 March 2007.

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