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Issue 457 - February 2011

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February 2011 Meeting

The Talyllyn at Dolgoch

This evening we offer a very warm welcome to Alan and Jane Inder as they present to us the "Talyllyn Railway." As you probably know, this is an historic narrow gauge railway set in Mid Wales running from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn, all through beautiful countryside.

Next Month's Meeting

Our next meeting is on March 3rd and the talk is entitled "Horsham to Littlehampton in 100 years" with Tony Pratt. He will tell us about the River Arun and its history based on old postcards, current photographs and old maps. He will also show some amateur film clips and a short excerpt from a 1921 silent film.

Tony will also give us a short update on the Wey & Arun Canal Trust's restoration progress.

New Year Lunch

Thank you Maureen for organising this yearly get together at the Blue Haze Restaurant on Saturday January 15th. It is so good to enjoy the opportunity to relax and chat to other members and catch up on their other activities and interests.

Society Burgees

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

Alan Rose

New Year Lunch




Above: A drawing by Brian Evans of the Talyllyn Railway that appeared in this Newsletter on the occasion of our last talk about the railway in 2003.


Left: Society members enjoying themselves at the Blue Haze Restaurant
© Maureen Greenham

Shiplake lock voted best-kept on Thames

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The award comes after hundreds of river-users voted for the lock in the Environment Agency's Thames Waterways Awards.

Lock-keeper Geoff Horsnell, who has run the lock for the past 20 years, said he was delighted. "For Shiplake to be voted the best kept lock by users of the river is a great honour," he said. "I really am very flattered.

"I look after all the plants and flowers myself but, being a keen gardener, it gives me great satisfaction and it really is a labour of love. The flowers come out in the summer and go back in the winter every year and it is very satisfying to know that they are enjoyed by the boating fraternity."

Barbara Bullock, from Somerset, who was on a boating holiday on the Thames, was one of the people who voted for Shiplake lock during the boating season from May to October.

She said: "The gardens and facilities are very good. The floral display especially is always of a very good standard and kept in excellent condition." Second place went to Romney Lock and Teddington Lock was third. Gail Bradstock, waterways operations manager for the Environment Agency, said: "These awards give members of the public a chance to let us know how we are doing on the River Thames.

"They are a great opportunity to recognise the important work the Thames waterways staff do in helping to promote the Thames as a great destination. We received some excellent feedback and comments about our locks and waterways staff."

Mr Horsnell will receive a cup and plaque to mark his success.

The awards were sponsored by Jacobs Engineering, Halcrow Group, Jackson Civil Engineering and Mackley Construction.

Henley Herald, 24 January 2011

January Meeting

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Members' Slides, Prints and Photo Evening

Paul Herbert welcomed us all to our first meeting in 2011 which was attended by 29 members and 1 visitor. He reminded all members of Health & Safety and the fire exits in Chilworth Parish Hall.

A number of members showed selections of pictures:

Eric Lewis was first in line and showed his and Sue's August 2010 trip on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The views of Stanley Locks and the water frontage at Liverpool were amazing.

Alan Rose then showed us a picture which was possibly the last view of Croxley Paper Mill at Apsley, on the Grand Union, as the site was being re-developed.

Anne Coleman came next with views of the Coventry Basin, Hawkesbury Junction and a snowy and iced-up canal at Devizes which included the crew looking over the bow: Dolly and Andy (shortened from Anderton Boat Lift, where this cat was born).

David Townley-Jones displayed scenes taken in the spring of the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Traditional Boat Show held at Beale Park.

David Doulton showed us Bristol Floating Harbour and, on the Kennet &Avon Canal, a burnt out boat, reminding us all to be careful especially with gas on board.

Brian Evans had pictures to his usual high standard taken in France. He showed the Canal Du Nord at the link up with the River Somme running up to Belgium. We also saw N.B. "Cleggs of Aylesbury", a Great Big Watering Can & Giant Wellies found in Epernay. This brought a smile to Annegret's face!

Laurie Pearce reminisced with images of the Great Liners, France and Canberra, in 1965 in Southampton Docks. Finally he showed pictures of IWA Sales Stand at the Southampton Boat Show in the , 1970's, when Laurie was in his 50's.

The Annual Photographic Competition followed after the interval. Ten entries were shown forming a varied range:

A Misty Bridge, Bridge 53 on the Caldon, Thistles, Dogs, A Frosty Morning, Soldiers on the Llangollen, Coventry, Newbold Tunnel, Bonnie (the horse) at Kintbury and a view of Beale Park.

It was a close run thing but Pam Mckeown with "Thistles" was voted the winner, a very well thought out photograph with thistles in the foreground, a sunny canal bank and still waters in the background. Beautiful!

Angela Rose

Plans revealed for Brimscombe Port

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Artist's impression

An artist's impression of the proposed development at Brimscombe Port

MORE than 400 jobs could be created under plans revealed this week for a major re-development of Brimscombe Port on the Thames & Severn Canal.

The proposals, unveiled as part of the canal project, are for 214 flats, 25 houses, a business park, shops, restaurants and a hotel which could be completed by 2014.

Plans have been in the pipeline since 2003 but stalled in 2008 when British Waterways pulled out of the canal development. Stroud District Council hopes to gain outline planning permission by March and will then look for a developer.

On Thursday, more than 60 members of the public attended a meeting at Brimscombe and Thrupp Social Centre to see much-anticipated sketches of the plans.

SDC spokesman David Marshall said: "It was a positive meeting and suggestions have been made by members of the public which we hope to take on board when we revise the plans.

"We are walking a tightrope of what the community want and what will be profitable for the developers."

Some concerns were raised about parking and transport infrastructure.

District councillor Martin Whiteside (Green, Thrupp) said: "Ultimately, we are trying to put the heart back into Brimscombe."

The six-mile stretch of canal which runs between Brimscombe and Stonehouse is largely derelict but is an important area of cultural heritage which Thrupp Parish Council hopes to preserve.

Members are keen to protect wildlife and have called for nesting sites for birds to be included and a habitat for otters.

The port was an industrial hub and the heart of Brimscombe when it opened in the 18th Century. Remnants of a bygone era such as a salt warehouse still remain and there are plans to reinstall the only surviving boat weighing machine in the country which was once part of the port.

Stroud News and Journal, 26 January 2011

Wiltshire volunteers for canal care

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British Waterways has appealed for volunteers to keep the Kennet and Avon Canal looking good as it struggles with shrinking budgets.

The quango, shortly to reinvent itself as a charity, is launching a new volunteering scheme to find people prepared to give up a few hours a month to help maintain the 200-year-old waterway.

Mark Stephens, British Waterways' waterway manager, said: "The Kennet and Avon Canal is a beautiful stretch of waterway. Unfortunately, British Waterways has limited resources to be able to keep the canal looking good.

"We hope that local people will join us to help with tasks such as cutting back overgrown vegetation so the towpath is kept clear, as well as painting lock gates and clearing litter from the canal."

In Wiltshire, monthly working parties are being set up at Crofton, Bedwyn and Devizes. Each session will run from 10am to 3pm and volunteers will be supplied with all the safety equipment needed for towpath tasks.

The working parties will start in February and run throughout the year. The Crofton one will operate on the first Thursday of each month starting on February 3, at Bedwyn on the second Thursday of the month starting on February 10 and at Devizes on the third Thursday of the month starting on February 17.

Anyone wishing to take part is asked to contact volunteer co-ordinator Karen Fishwick on 07917 424590 or at

The Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, 23 January 2011

Ship capsizes with acid cargo - River Rhine shut

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On Thursday 13 January, a barge, the Waldhof, carrying 2,400 tonnes of sulphuric acid capsized on the Rhine, prompting the closure of a 70km (44 mile) stretch of the river in Germany to shipping. The accident occurred on a narrow bend of the river that is known for its strong currents and rocky bottom and has seen such accidents in the past.

However, German authorities said that none of the freight had spilled. "The hull of the vessel is still intact and the freight has not escaped into the river," said a spokeswoman for the Rheinland-Pfalz state environment ministry.

Two people were missing and two were rescued after the accident at Loreley, near Wiesbaden.

The sunken tanker

Above: The stricken vessel lies on its side with the Loreley statue just visible on the right.

But water levels were rising rapidly and meant the river would have to be closed for a longer period to all shipping regardless of the salvage operation, he said. The river had been closed earlier that week as melting snow had increased water levels, but it was later reopened.

The 110m long barge was carrying acid for German chemicals company BASF from its works in Ludwigshafen in Germany to the Belgian port of Antwerp, a BASF spokesman said. Specialists from the company were at the scene.

Capsized ship's safety is tested

Florian Krekel, a spokesman for shipping authority Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Bingen, said the specialists, who began work after two cranes were able to stabilise the Waldhof, needed to test if water had been in contact with the 2,400 tonnes of sulphuric acid in the ship's cargo and if there was a risk that highly explosive hydrogen had developed in the vessel.

Krekel added that the stretch of the Rhine between Bingen, near Mainz, and Engers, just north of Koblenz would remain closed. Although ships travelling upstream had been allowed to pass the salvage site since 21 January, but a few days later this was considered too dangerous as wash from these ships might cause the sunken barge to slip into a 16-foot deep ditch formed after the accident.

View from side of Rhine Gorge

Right: A view of the tanker from high on the side of the Rhine Gorge.

Below: Cranes were put in position to support the sunken barge after river levels had dropped.

Cranes by the barge

The river has remained closed since 13 January for downstream traffic and by 30 January some 400 vessels had congregated on the waterway near the city of Mainz as they waited for permission to pass.

Hydrogen snarls salvage plan

However, checks showed up highly flammable hydrogen in the seventh tank of the barge, causing a new hitch in plans to reopen Europe's biggest inland waterway. Rescuers were pumping nitrogen into the tank to render the hydrogen harmless.

Road, rail and water traffic through the gorge was stopped for fear that the barge may blow up, either through the hydrogen igniting or its sulphuric acid reacting with the water.

Main north-south rail lines and highways run through the gorge which cuts through rugged hills. Five nations depend on Rhine shipping to deliver loads from Europe's biggest seaport, Rotterdam.

By the time this Newsletter was going to press on Sunday 30th, pumping out the cargo of the Waldhof, which is being held in place by floating cranes and cables, had begun. It seems that upstream barge traffic has started again now that the barge is supported. Once safe, the barge will be raised and taken away.

The two missing crew members have still not been found.

Based on various websites: Reuters,, Deutsche Presse-Agentur and Südwestrundfunks

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Page created 7 February 2011 - archived 15 March 2011.

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