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Issue 349 - March 2001

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January Meeting

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Our January meeting was always going to be rather a poignant affair, being the Society's 327th and last event in the St John Ambulance Hall in Kings Park Road, Southampton before moving out of Southampton to our new home at Chilworth Parish Hall.

This final event was advertised as 'Southampton Canal Society and St John's Ambulance Hall' with the double act of our Chairman and Secretary, Brian Evans and Peter Oates respectively, looking back on our long association with Kings Park Road. In the event, because of Brian's unexpected incarceration in hospital over the Christmas and New Year period, Peter had to go it alone (albeit using some of Brian's notes and other material along with his own research).

Peter reminded us that the Southampton Canal Society had its beginnings in early 1967 with a number of letters in the Southern Evening Echo. The Society's first meeting was held on 1 June 1967 at the 22nd Millbrook Scouts Hut, attended by 20 people. The Society had to be on its way after only a few meetings because the old Scout Hall had to be demolished to make way for a more permanent structure.

One or two meetings were then held at the Old Thatched House in Old Shirley before, in December 1967, the Society moved to its new home for a few years, the Temperance Institute in Carlton Terrace. Because of overcrowding (!!!) it was decided to move to new premises and in December 1973 the Society moved to the St John Ambulance Hall in Kings Park Road.

Membership had passed the hundred mark in 1971 (an increase of 43% was reported in the Echo in May) and by February 1972 this had further increased to over 130.

Peter's presentation included slides and a variety of photographs, news cuttings and other printed material from the archives shown by using the Society's recently purchased Episcope.

Peter covered many different aspects of the Society's 34 year life, including the first Chairman (Brian Evans, still going strong in the Chair) and other officers and editors of the Society's Newsletter (including Peter himself, who has been the incumbent since 1995).

He continued with a glimpse into various Society activities in the early years including boat and other trips and restoration working parties, mainly on the Kennet & Avon and Basingstoke Canals. In the early 1970s, several of these were referred to, with some accompanying photographs.

In 1976, the Itchen Navigation Society was formed and Southampton Canal Society members surveyed the navigation - their results being published in 1977 (the famous yellow booklet, now a collectors' item).

Peter's presentation continued with reference to more recent activities including exhibitions in local libraries and museums and, in 1996, how the Society celebrated the 50th Jubilee of the IWA by participating in the carriage of the region's jig-saw piece on local waterways.

To conclude, Peter referred to Brian's 30th anniversary as Chairman of the Society when our guest speaker on that occasion, in 1997, Audrey Smith, IWA National Chairman, presented Brian with a waterways print from the Society which has pride of place in Brian and Annegret's living room. Shortly afterwards, in June 1997, Society members enjoyed their 30th birthday party.

Peter had put together, with Brian's assistance, a very interesting and entertaining presentation which all those present, be they long term, or more recent, members thoroughly enjoyed.

Paul Herbert


February Meeting

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An illustrated talk by Tony Pratt of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust was divided into two parts.

He first told us of a bullion run in 1825 when two barges loaded with gold bullion made the journey from Portsmouth to London. It is not known where the bullion originated but he was able to give us many other facts.

The barges travelled from Portsmouth into Chichester Harbour, before joining the Portsmouth & Arundel Canal to the River Arun. Using an incoming tide, the barges made a speedy journey up the River Arun before joining the Wey & Arun Canal and continuing on the Rivers Wey and Thames.

Knowing the dates on which the journey was undertaken, Tony's precise research revealed the times of the tides on the two days, how long each part of the trip would have taken, and where the two overnight stops were made. He was even able to tell us from the records what the weather was like at the time.

For the second part of his evening, Tony showed us how restoration of the Wey & Arun Canal is progressing. A number of refurbished locks and bridges await being connected by a navigable channel. Despite the wet winter, work has continued in several places. We saw slides of a new bridge built by contractors to carry Drungewick Lane over the canal, this being the latest job completed.

The Trust now intends to launch an appeal for £450,000 to build an aqueduct over the River Lox, planning to commence the work in 2002. When that is built they will be close to completing six miles of continuous waterway. About 25% of the Canal will have been returned to original condition.

Tony finished his presentation with some very impressive slides showing recent flooding on the River Arun.

Our thanks for a very interesting evening which brought us right up to date with the latest stages of restoration.

Brian Evans


LOOKING FOR A NEW CHAIR

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At the last Committee meeting, the Society's Chairman, Brian Evans, confirmed his intention of standing down with effect from the Annual General Meeting on 5 July 2001.

Brian is not only one of the few remaining active founder members of the Society, he has been its Chairman since it was first formed in 1967.

Brian now feels it is time to hand over the reins and give someone else the opportunity to guide the Society. The Committee received news of his intention to retire from the Chair with much regret but appreciated the sentiments behind his decision.

And so... the Society needs to find a new Chairman. Brian would agree that, unlike the earlier days of the Society, the post is not too onerous. The main tasks are hosting the monthly Society meetings and keeping the other Committee members under some form of control at its meetings, which are usually held bimonthly.

The Committee is now seeking nominations for the post of Chairman from the whole of the Society's membership. You can nominate yourself or another member. Whatever, you need to get a seconder for your nomination and establish that the person you nominate is willing to stand.

In advance of the Annual General Meeting, nominations can now also be submitted for the Society's other officer posts (viz Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and other Committee members).

All nominations please to our Secretary, Peter Oates, whose address and telephone number are printed elsewhere in this Newsletter.

Paul Herbert
Vice-Chairman


PARLIAMENTARY WATERWAYS GROUP

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On 28 November 2000 the Society's representative on the Parliamentary Waterways Group, Eric Lewis, attended the meeting of that Group in the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons, when the topic was the Countryside Agency (CA).

The speaker on that occasion was Terry Robinson, Head of Recreation and Tourism at the Countryside Agency. He explained that the CA was a new organisation founded by Government in April 1999 to carry on the work of the former Countryside Commission and take on the national and rural elements of the work of the Rural Development Commission.

The CA's aims were to conserve and enhance the countryside and promote social equity and economic prosperity in a sustainable way. Their research and advice helped to inform the debate, especially in central and local government. The CA was keen to demonstrate new ways through practical projects. The recent Rural White Paper contained much for the CA to do and the CA hoped it had gained respect for the start it had made.

The CA welcomed the recent White Paper 'Waterways for Tomorrow' and confirmed the inland waterways of England were of prime importance to the CA. They looked forward to using it as a framework for their relationships with navigation authorities. Partnerships were important if Government was to realise its vision for a waterways system fully, imaginatively and adventurously used by all.

The CA's detailed aims are:-

  1. To ensure the countryside maintained its diverse character and outstanding beauty. Inland waterways added generally to beauty and in some cases inestimably so, for example the Broads. In Terry Robinson's view, 'Waterways for Tomorrow' did not stress sufficiently the importance of retaining beauty. The architecture of waterways added enormously to their aesthetic and historic value.
  2. To ensure the countryside was prosperous and inclusive. The CA was embarking on a programme to reinvigorate market towns as local capitals for the surrounding countryside. Many were on the waterway network.
  3. The countryside was full of economic opportunities and enterprise. The CA hoped the potential wealth of the countryside would be realised. There were 3 million day visits to the countryside in 1998, 42% of which were to walk. £12.26 billion was spent by day visitors to waterways in 1998.
  4. Sustainable agriculture was vital. The CA was keen to develop a stronger relationship between producers and consumers and an understanding of what they consumed, for example agricultural goods. The repercussions of production on the countryside needed to be understood. There might well be a role for inland waterways, for instance in farmers' markets, which the CA was keen to develop.
  5. To ensure the countryside served people without destroying its essence. The CA welcomed the use of waterways for freight. The movement of agricultural and horticultural produce was one not previously realised and should be encouraged.

The CA was progressing work in integrated transport, like championing greenways: shared paths for skateboarders, horse riders, cyclists and walkers. Towpaths offered a vital link for non-motorised users. The CA was helping to develop a national cycleway network.

The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) was researching countryside access rights and assessing demand for the future. The CA was aware of the potential for conflicts between users and the need to resolve them. Users did not clash when videoed by CA researchers.

There then followed a discussion session, the main issues of interest being:

An additional point for information:

At the end of the meeting, the PWG Chairman said he had contacted Cllr Stacey, a member of Birmingham City Council and Chairman of the Regional Planning Board. The councillor had assured him that the City Council supported the Lichfield & Hatherton Canal restoration and would make representations to the DETR about the need to ensure full restoration would proceed.

The next meeting of the Parliamentary Waterways Group would be held on 6 February 2001 when the topic would be EC Directives Concerning Waterways.

Eric Lewis and Paul Herbert


Can you help?

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The following letter has been received by the Society and in view of the local interest, it is reproduced below. If anyone can help, or knows someone who might help, they should contact Mr Nobes directly.

W E D Nobes,  
'Pen-y-Bont', 01895 232998
9, Benbow Waye,  
Cowley,  
UXBRIDGE,  
Middx. UB8 2EY. 5th. February 2001

Dear Sir,

British Reg. Ship 'Sandora'. No 182317

I am trying to research the full history of the above vessel which is at present in my ownership. I enclose a summary of the results of that research to date, from which you will see that she has operated in the Southampton Area at one time.

The details on the summary between 1936 and 1948 are possibly suspect. Should you have any more factual knowledge or indeed any additional information about these twelve years of her history then I would appreciate your letting me know.

Recently I have visited the National Maritime Museum's record section at Woolwich Arsenal where I found a record that the original propulsion machinery was 'motor' - petrol or petrol/paraffin engine supplied by Messrs Dixson Brothers and Hutchingson in 1916.

No details are available to me of the above suppliers, although I think they may have been a Scottish Marine Engineering firm in existence before, during and for some time after the First World War.

I shall be obliged, therefore, if you will please send me any details you may have of such a marine engineering organisation.

Yours sincerely,

W E D Nobes.

BRITISH REGISTERED SHIP 'SANDORA'
Part 1 Registry Official No. 182317
(Ex British Admiralty Launch No. 750)
Leading Dimensions:- LOA 35.1 Ft. (10.71 m), Beam 8.0 Ft. (2.43m), Depth 4.1 Ft. (1.24m)
No of Tons:- Gross 9.78 Registered 6.89
Present Engine:- BMC 2.2 ltr. Diesel 48 BHP (36 Kw)
Port of Registry:- SOUTHAMPTON
Built:- Alexander ROBERTSON and Sons Ltd., SANDBANK, Argyll, Scotland, (Nr Dunoon, Strathclyde).
History:-
Ordered: 3 November 1915. Delivered: 12 August 1916
Allocated to HMS 'SANDHURST'- Destroyer Depot Ship - (Ex Merchant Ship 'Manipur'). Served with that ship until put into store at Devonport in 1934.
Sold via Admiralty Disposals on 27 June 1936 to the Belsize Boatyard, St Denys, Southampton, (on River Itchen), as one of a batch.
Sold in 1937 to Mr. Walter J. DESTY. He ran a boatyard located opposite the 'Belsize' and converted the craft into a motor cruiser, naming her 'CANUTE' and installed a Kelvin J2 Diesel Engine - 2 Cyl. 22 BHP
Sold to Mr. R.S. Collins in 1948. He registered her as a 'British Ship' on 31st. May 1948 -Official No. 182317 - (no. 42 in 1948 at Southampton), renamed as 'SANDORA'.
Registered owner at that time Mr. Ralph Sextus COLLINS, of 'Southcliffe', De la Warr Road, Milford on Sea, Hants.
Sold on 30 December 1952 - registered 9 January 1953 to Mr. George William NOBES, of 36, Old Oak Lane, Willesden Junction, London, NW 10.
G W Nobes died on 7 May 1961, his wife Dorothy Edith NOBES of 36, Old Oak Lane, Willesden Junction, London NW 10, became owner - registered on 30 June 1961.
Sold to William Edward Dennis NOBES (son of above two previous owners) on 12 January 1963 - registered 16 January 1963.
1st Registration renewal 20 May 1994, 2nd renewal 21 April 1999.


Library Video

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In June 1995, I arranged a canal outing for the Ordnance Survey Cine & Video Club. The trip was for 24 people and to make up numbers, there were members of the Romsey Branch of the Retired Civil Servants Fellowship and members of Southampton Canal Society.

We hired two day boats from Blisworth Tunnel Boats and our trip was through the tunnel to the bottom of Stoke Bruerne Locks and return.

Two short films and a good video record of the outing were made. Tony Shadick who shot the video has kindly given us a copy for the Society library, which members will be able to hire for a few pence.

There is no commentary but enthusiasts of this part of the Grand Union will not need one. Just sit back and enjoy the photography.

Brian Evans


Plan 'could double' size of Allbrook

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The following is taken from an article that appeared in the Hampshire Chronicleof 19 January 2001. The plan described would have an effect upon the Itchen Navigation which runs along one side of the site. The loss of the Victoria Inn would also remove the opportunity to take refreshment at a point about halfway along the Navigation.

A village is in uproar over a plan for new houses that could almost double its size.

Villagers at Allbrook, just north of Eastleigh, have been holding meetings in their own homes to discuss what they should do about the plan.

One faction is organising a petition against the massive scheme, which includes houses, flats and offices, and would span the main Allbrook Hill road.

The village pub would be demolished and replaced by a shop which could include a post office.

Edmund Nuttall, a civil engineering firm which employs about 40 people at its Allbrook depot, is behind the scheme. In its planning application, to Eastleigh council, the firm - together with its development partners, Forelle Estates - says it would give four hectares of meadow to the council for use as a public open space.

The Nuttalls yard would be replaced by two blocks of flats and a 2,000 sq ft office block. The application states: "These have been arranged so as to provide a view through to the river and water meadows from Pitmore Road, and to create an attractive landscaped frontage to the site when viewed from the footpath along the Itchen navigation."

On the other side of the main road, the plans show a three-road housing estate.

The planning application is for outline permission only, but the plans suggest the estate could contain around 36 houses, as well as two blocks. Affordable housing would make up 20% of the homes.

The applicants say they would pay for a council traffic calming scheme in the village. If residents agree, that would include a roundabout at the junction with Pitmore Road, a section of single-lane traffic and speed humps in Allbrook Hill, a continuous footway on the north side of the road, and off-street parking for Allbrook Hill residents. Drawings suggest the applicants may also provide a 12-space car park for the open space.

The currently boarded-up Allbrook Farmhouse, which is across the road from the Victoria Inn pub, would be refurbished as a private house. In the 17th century, the farmhouse is believed to have been home to Mary Beale, Britain's first professional woman portrait painter. If the scheme goes ahead, the half-timbered farmhouse would find itself surrounded by buildings.

Local councillors were quick to press for a public meeting. Steve Sollitt, for the Liberal Democrats, said a public meeting would give residents a chance to put concerns to both the council and the applicants. "This application is the most significant in Allbrook for many years. The last thing I want is a development that leads to more problems in the village."

The meeting, organised by Eastleigh council, will be at the Leigh Road Civic Offices in late February or early March.

The application is due to be discussed by the council's Eastleigh local committee at 7 pm on March 20th, but a decision on whether the scheme is allowed may be deferred to a later meeting.


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Page created 4 April 2001. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 8 December 2003

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