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Issue 359 - March 2002

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Chairman's Column

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In memory of Brian Percy

It was with great sorrow that we heard at the February meeting of the death, the previous week, of Brian Percy, Chairman of the Southern Region of the Inland Waterways Association. Our thoughts are with Brian's wife and family, to whom the Society's condolences have been sent.

An Apology

In my write-up on December's Inter-Society Waterways Quiz in the last Newsletter I incorrectly gave the credit to the Avon & Wilts Branch IWA for winning the 2000 Quiz. My sincere apologies to the Salisbury Group who were, of course, the winners on that occasion.

WRG Stamp Bank

WRG logo

Many thanks to the users of Surrey Court Day Centre in Eastleigh for their endeavours in collecting so many used stamps which have been passed on to the Waterway Recovery Group. The Society's thanks have been sent to Surrey Court.

Refreshments Rota

Many thanks to those who have volunteered to assist with the refreshments at our monthly meetings. There are still some dates waiting to be filled so please see the rota on the Treasurer's table.

We are particularly indebted to Angela Faull who has offered to look after the refreshments bag and keep it stocked.

Society Auction - 9 May

There is not long to go now until our Society Auction in May. Please support this event because, without your active participation, we will not be able to have such a successful and enjoyable evening and raise funds for 'The Friends of Raymond' and the Children's Hospice - 'Naomi House'

So start looking through your cupboards, lofts, junk rooms etc for all those long forgotten family heirlooms that would really benefit from seeing the light of day and a free transfer to someone else!

Items for Newsletter

Many thanks to those members who have contributed to the Newsletter in recent months. However, it is still left to Peter and myself to write the majority of the Newsletter and we know there are interesting stories out there which would be of interest to other members. So please do your bit for the Society and submit an article or two for a future Newsletter.

Proposed Crofton Trip

Crofton logo

Thanks to all those who have shown interest in the proposed Society trip to Crofton some time this summer. If you haven't yet indicated your interest but would like to do so, please add your name to the list on the Sales Stand.

HIAS Trip to the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

Gunpowder Mills banner

Don't forget this trip on Saturday 13 April, organised by the Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society. Details were included in our last Newsletter. If you want any further information or would like to make a booking, please contact Jon Sims on 023 8073 2868.

Eastleigh Local History Fair

This event is being held at The Point Dance & Arts Centre, Leigh Road, Eastleigh on Sunday 24 March - from 12 noon until 4pm. Admission is free. Leaflets with details of the event are displayed on the Sales Stand.

[See also the article on page 6 about 'Pirelli People' which is taking place at The Point on Saturday 23 March - Editor]

Paul Herbert


February Meeting

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Sue and Eric Lewis, long time members of the Southampton Canal Society, entertained us at our very well attended February meeting. Sue and Eric have cruised extensively over many years on board their narrowboat 'Remus', from its base on the Old Engine Arm at the top of Napton Locks on the South Oxford Canal. Sue took unexpected early retirement during 2000 and, therefore, she and Eric have since been able to extend their cruising range.

The first half of their presentation covered their trips in 2001 to the Basingstoke Canal and the eastern waterways via the River Nene. Because of their intention to extensively cruise both BW and EA waters in the same year they decided to cash in their BW licence and exchange it for a combined Gold Licence.

We saw 'Remus' entering Napton Locks at the start of their first five week cruise which took them down the Grand Union Canal onto the River Thames, then onto the River Wey, turning onto the Basingstoke Canal and then, retracing their steps and cruising to the limit of navigation on the Thames before returning to Napton via the Southern Oxford. This first cruise coincided with the Foot and Mouth outbreak but, fortunately, this was on the wane when they set out and the safety restrictions gradually reduced the further they cruised down the Grand Union.

This part of their presentation focused particularly on the Basingstoke Canal - it having taken ten years to be able to get 'Remus' onto that waterway, due mainly to water restrictions etc. Eric and Sue have strong links with the Basingstoke - during the restoration of the canal Eric was involved in the building of lock gates in the workshop based on the old army swimming pool at the top of the Deepcut Flight, whilst both he, Sue and her late father worked on the restoration of Lock 19.

Despite having made prior arrangements they had to wait a long time at Lock 1 for the Canal Ranger to arrive to let them onto the canal, though they had to work the locks themselves. Their ascent of the canal to its current head of navigation south of Greywell Tunnel was hard work due to very wet weather conditions and the poor standard of maintenance of the canal. In contrast to the outward journey, the descent was blessed with good weather. Their overall comment on the canal was that "it is a very pretty canal but very hard work". During their whole trip on the Basingstoke they saw only a handful of boats actually on the move.

Later in the year saw 'Remus' leaving his mooring again at Napton for their second five week trip, travelling the Grand Union to Gayton Junction and then down the narrow Northampton Arm and onto the River Nene. We heard about their various exploits on the Nene and the connecting Middle Level waterways with the River Great Ouse system, all well illustrated with slides. They reached Bedford on the Great Ouse where, by chance, an IWA mini-rally was in progress. Former IWA National Chairman, Audrey Smith, and her husband were in attendance with their boat. Ten boats, including 'Remus' went up the Great Ouse to the present head of navigation whilst five boats were craned out and proceeded over land to the National Waterways Festival at Milton Keynes as part of the promotion of the proposed Bedford-Milton Keynes waterway link.

Eric commented on the heavy gates of the restored locks, for which a special key was needed. On their way back down river they saw a seal in the short tidal stretch at Earith (not an everyday sight on our inland waterways).

Never ones to let unexplored waterways go by unchallenged, Sue and Eric cruised to the head of navigation on a number of the Lodes off the River Cam, before reaching Cambridge - their first visit to this famous university city by boat or any other means! It was obvious that they both liked Cambridge very much and we were entertained with slides of the various colleges and punting on the upper reaches of the River Cam. However - our intrepid explorers decided not to try their hands at punting. Said they didn't have time!!!

Back to Denver Sluice where they were able to take 'Remus' through the recently opened lock onto the Relief Channel which takes the floodwaters from the River Great Ouse directly out to sea near Kings Lynn. They found their first visit to this waterway interesting and we saw views of Downham Market, Denver Sluice at low tide and the restored windmill, also at Denver.

It was then back via Salters Lode Lock, under the direction of the lock-keeper, and the shortest possible route back through the Middle Level to the River Nene and then back to Napton.

After the interval we saw slides of Sue and Eric's 1996 trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal, which they joined from the River Thames at Reading. They referred to the different and interesting range of locks (including two turf-sided) and the challenges of the river sections.

The highlight of their trip was the excitement of going down the Caen Hill flight, whilst a helicopter circled overhead taking photographs. In due course the helicopter landed near to the locks and Sue spoke to the crew (well - she will talk to just about anybody!). Subsequently, 'Remus' became quite a celebrity, with his photograph appearing in four waterways publications.

'Remus' continued along the K&A, passing the site of the former entrance to the Wilts and Berks Canal at Semington before arriving in Bath where they locked down onto the River Avon. Their cruise finished successfully at Bristol Docks - where they had to turn round and retrace their steps back to their base at Napton.

Many thanks to Sue and Eric for a very enjoyable evening. Knowing of their proposed cruising plans for 2002, I hope we can expect a presentation about those travels on a future occasion.

You couldn't really expect Sue to miss the opportunity to plug her first children's book - 'Remus the Narrowboat and His First Adventure' which is to be published in March.

Copies will be available at our April meeting - price £4.99

Paul Herbert


PUBLIC BOAT TRIPS

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The following is a list of trip boats on inland waterways providing trips for the public during 2002 within approximately 50 miles of Southampton. It has been compiled from various websites and is as complete as the editor can ascertain. However, no responsibility can be accepted for errors or omissions. To avoid disappointment, the operators should be contacted on the telephone numbers listed.

Basingstoke Canal

John Pinkerton

Details for the 2002 season have not been published on Surrey & Hampshire CS website yet but the 2001 public cruise program was:

Every 1st and 3rd Sunday - From May until except Bank Holiday weekends (see below) 2 1/2-hour round trip leaving at 2.30pm from Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham.

Wednesdays and Fridays in August at 2.30pm from Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham.

At Bank Holidays various trips from other places along the canal.

For information and seat bookings phone Marion Gough on 01962 713564 (10am - 8pm)

Dragonfly

Operating from Kiln Bridge at St Johns near Woking, aboard the new 10-seat canal cruiser. Half-hour trips at weekends, Bank Holidays and some weekdays during school holidays. From 10.00am to 4.00pm. Adults: £2. Children: £1. First come, first aboard! There is a cabin and covered cockpit providing all weather protection. Further details on 01252 672189.

Daydream and Merlin.

45 minute boat trips from Basingstoke Canal Centre, Mytchett run Easter to September: Saturday and Sunday, plus Tuesday to Sunday during school holidays. Just turn up! Day boats and boat charter are also available by arrangement. Contact: Gourmet Cruises - (UK) 01252 378779

Chichester Canal

Cruises on n/b Egremont on Chichester Canal. Bookings and enquiries Jenny Pine on 01243 670786.

No other details to hand.

Kennet and Avon Canal

Lancing

Trip boat operates from Reading Town Centre and the Cunning Man at Burghfield Bridge. Further details from Norman and Jennifer Briggs on 0118 987 1115

Kennet Valley and Avon

The former is a horse drawn boat operating from Kintbury, the latter a motor barge from Newbury Wharf. Public trip timetable available in April. Kennet Horse Boat Co - telephone 01635 44154

M V Rose of Hungerford

Public return trips, lasting from 1 to 2 hours, from Hungerford Wharf at 2.30pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday from Easter to the end of October. Extra public trips on Saturdays in July and August and on Bank Holidays, at 4.30pm. Public trips on Wednesdays, June to September, at 2.30pm. 'SANTA' trips in December - Bookings only. Private charters available.

For booking forms and other enquiries contact: Ann Myall: 01488 683389

Kenavon Venture

Public Trips: 90 minute trips from Devizes Wharf on Sunday afternoons, commencing at 2.00pm from Easter to the end of September. Saturday afternoons during July and August and on Bank Holidays.

Prices: £3.00 per person. Children £2.00 and under 5's free. More details from Ian and Sue Sharp on 01380 728504

Narrowboat Barbara McLellan

Public trips from Bradford on Avon Wharf to the spectacular Avoncliff aqueduct and return. Trips leave the Wharf on the Frome Rd, Bradford on Avon.

Public trips every Sunday and Bank Holiday from Easter to the end of October; on Wednesdays, July to end of August; Saturday trips in June to end of September.

Times: 14.30 on Wednesdays; 11.30 and 14.30 on Saturdays and 11.30, 14.30 and 16.30 on Sundays. Some tickets can be booked in advance or turn up 30 minutes before the trip. (Call 01225 868683)

Private charters available from one to four hours. For charter bookings, call Mary Antcliff 01225 782080

Wharf Shop and Tea Room. Open daily from Easter to end of October. Souvenirs, gifts and canal information teas and ice cream.

Narrowboat Jubilee

Operating from popular Brassknocker Basin Visitor Centre with restaurant, shops, car park etc, we are 5 miles out of Bath on the A36 (Warminster) road opposite 'The Viaduct' Inn.

Public trips every Sunday and Bank Holiday from Easter to end of October (except August 27th and 28th) Depart 12.00 noon and 2.30 p.m. to Claverton and spectacular Dundas Aqueduct.

Private charter trips available for up to 30 adults. Booking and details from Brian and Sandy Blake Tel: 01373 813957.

Share our beautiful part of the Kennet and Avon Canal and join us in narrowboat 'Jubilee' at our delightful new visitor centre. Our website address is: www.bath-narrowboat-trips.co.uk

Wey and Arun Canal

Zachariah Keppel

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust runs a 50ft trip boat capable of carrying up to 30 passengers, named after the contractor originally engaged to build the canal.

The Zachariah Keppel gives cruises on the idyllic Loxwood Link section of the canal on the Surrey/West Sussex border. Cruises usually start from the Onslow Arms, although due to water restrictions cruises may start from one of the two locks on route. Brewhurst Lock is only a short walk from the Onslow Arms, which is alongside the B2133 road in Loxwood (OS Map grid reference TQ 041312).

Public trips take place every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday.

Standard public trips do not require pre-booking, but availability can be confirmed by checking with the WACT office ) 01403 752403 (weekday mornings plus answerphone).

Private charter bookings are also available - an ideal way to celebrate a birthday, a special occasion, or a corporate event.

Wey and Godalming Navigations

Unnamed boat

Run from Dapdune Wharf, Guildford by the National Trust, river trips on electric launch (sponsored by Panasonic Batteries). 23 March to 3 Nov: Thur to Mon and Tues 4 June, 11-5 (conditions permitting). Tel: 01483 561389

Harry Stevens

Boat operating from Guildford Boat House from Friday 29 March to 29th September. Public trips on Saturdays and Sundays, Wednesdays (from 8th May), Tuesdays and Thursdays (from 30th July to 1st September).

45 minute trips Adult: £2.75 Child: (5-12 years) £1.75. 1½ hour trips Adult: £4.50 Child: (5-12 years) £2.50. Children under 5 free, but must be declared for safety reasons.

A minimum of 10 paying persons is required to operate an advertised trip. For up to the minute info telephone the Talking Timetable on 01483 536186. No pre-booking - just turn up and pay on board.

Iona

Horse drawn narrow boat from Godalming Wharf. No further details to hand. Telephone: 01483 414938


The BCN Slide Challenge

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Only 4,500 slides left to sort! This was the number of waterways slides that we had inherited from our friend, Graham Capelin, on his death. Eric had already carried out a preliminary sort of the 20,000 slides in total, separating out the shipping and railway slides, and had passed these to Bert Moody for further sorting and distribution as appropriate.

We started by viewing the slides on a light box, thus enabling us to look at 50 slides at a time. If the waterway on which a slide was taken could be identified then the slide was placed in a box marked with that waterway, for sorting into order at a later date. We were also able to identify three round trips on hire boats which were Romany Princess hired from Salters in Oxford, Lorna hired from Brummagen Boats in Birmingham and Lucy Sarah hired from Severn City Boats in Worcester.

This preliminary sort took us three days and we found that there were approximately 1,500 slides of the BCN. Some of these we could identify ourselves but many were of places which have changed beyond recognition since the slides were taken.

Knowing that Helen and Chris Davey were very well acquainted with the BCN, due to them running the 'BCN Challenge', we asked them if they would assist us in the sorting of these slides. They were only too pleased to help and so on a very wet, miserable, February Saturday morning, Helen left Hebden in Yorkshire at 5.30 a.m. to drive to Banbury where she met Chris, who then drove them both on to Southampton.

After a short rest and lunch the BCN Slide Challenge commenced. Most of the slides were viewed again on the light box but some were viewed through the projector to enable more detail to be seen. Although none of the slides were labelled some occurred in small hatches which did aid identification. The GEOprojects map of the Birmingham Canal Navigations and the Birmingham Canal Navigations - A Cruising and Walking Guide, published by the IWA Birmingham Branch, were both extremely valuable aids to identifying the exact names of the places.

By 5.00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon only a handful of slides remained unidentified. Well done and many thanks to Helen and Chris, all we have to do now is put them all in order! Any volunteers?

Sue and Eric Lewis


Pirelli People Project

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The society has recently been asked by Arts and Tourism unit of Eastleigh Borough Council to publicise the following event which is of local rather than waterway interest.

The project is a multimedia performance celebrating the history of Pirelli in Eastleigh, part of which is relocating after 80 years in the town. The move will not only make a vast difference to the physical landscape but it also has a major social significance.

Pirelli has been a major employer in the town for many years now. It has been noted that Pirelli has a well documented corporate history, but without a project such s this its social history could be forgotten.

As a result of this, local organisations and professional artists have collaborated to create a truly memorable performance aimed at giving testament to the people who have worked there.

There will be a musical performance from local schools, who have been working with Andy Baker from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, based on Pirelli sounds and anecdotes. A dance performance from local Feet First Dance Company, to music created by Andy Baker, entitled 'Factory Fandango', can also be seen on the night.

Alongside this, people will have the chance to view a multi screened video piece displaying a montage of images along with archival footage of the site, which will capture the essence of the work and the people who have worked there.

There will also be a diverse photographic exhibition on display as well as artefacts retrieved from the site.

There will be two performances at The Point, Leigh Road, Eastleigh on Saturday March 23rd at 6.30pm and 8.00pm. Tickets £3.00 performance. For tickets call The Point box office on 023 8065 2333.


Communications on the Move

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I can well remember the first occasion when Gill and I saw a mobile telephone being used on a canal boat. Our comments to each other at that time were along the lines of ...." did you see that? I thought the idea of coming on the canals was to get away from the normal rigors and stresses of normal life. Some people don't seem to be able to let go etc etc........" On a later cruise we were sharing Braunston locks with another boat and noticed a very large and heavy looking black box, with a 'phone attached, in its bow well. A conversation ensued with that boat's skipper and we had our first 'introduction' to a mobile 'phone.

Now, at that time only a few people possessed mobile 'phones and they were very bulky and had certain limitations. As far as boats were concerned, electronic communication was limited to VHF/Ship to Shore and CB installations.

In due course we purchased our first mobile 'phone which was strictly for emergency use relating to Gill's work and certainly not to be used on the boat. However, as time went on it soon became obvious that it would be nonsense to own such a piece of equipment and not use it on the boat. Because of family circumstances it was necessary to make home telephone calls on a near daily basis whilst cruising and we were getting just a little fed up walking miles to the nearest public telephone box (often in the rain) only to find it out of order or similar. The mobile soon became another useful tool on the boat, to be used only when really necessary. Apart from home calls it became very useful in the event of boat breakdowns; reporting urgent lock and other waterway problems to BW; tracking down the nearest Vet when we were having problems with one of our cats; and ringing ahead to book a table at a favourite canalside restaurant!!! However - our mobile has never become intrusive because we are able to control the number of incoming calls by a very simple method - only a few people, immediate family and close friends, have our number!

Now, in addition to VHF/Ship to Shore; CB Radios and mobile telephones (which are getting smaller and lighter all the time - but watch out for all those proposed telephone masts along our towing paths), many boats are equipped with internal telephones which allow improved communication between the steerer and his/her crew sheltering inside from the rain (much better than shouting), and the increasing use of personal radios/walkie talkies which permit the boat's crew to maintain contact with their lock wheelers. By personal experience these can be very useful, particularly in lock flights when the crew working ahead are often out of sight of their boat, and can alert their steerer of the condition of the road ahead.

So what comes next?



"Beam me up Scottie"


Paul Herbert


Bits & Pieces

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Caldon Canal

The final 2 miles of the Caldon Canal, from Flint Mill Lock to Froghall Basin has been closed following collapsed waterway walls and a landslip after recent heavy rains. BW is undertaking ground investigations and expect that substantial repairs will be necessary. This part of the canal is unlikely to re-opened before June 2002. There is a winding hole just before the lock.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal

At a User Groups' meeting held at the end of February, British Waterways confirmed that there are six locks on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal that have significant pinch points, besides a number in Standedge Tunnel. As necessary re-building takes place, these pinch points will be removed and 'shaving' has taken place in the tunnel over the winter.

The time of passage through the tunnel has been reduced to a little over two hours from the three hours plus that earlier trips took. During 2002, Diggle Flight will be managed 'to prevent selfish boaters draining pounds'.

BW is aware of passage demand for the National Festival, due to take place in Huddersfield at the end of August. BW intends to arrange for volunteers to help manage the canal in the lead up to the event and will be training additional staff to help operate passages through Standedge Tunnel, which requires considerable training to ensure safety.

BW also advises that it expects permanent additional facilities for rubbish disposal, elsan and pump-out to be provided by summer 2002.

Kennet & Avon Canal

Preparation work has begun for building a new aqueduct to carry the Kennet & Avon Canal over the planned A350 Semington to Melksham bypass. A 150-metre long temporary diversion channel is being constructed and is due to be opened to boats on 15th March. Work on the new aqueduct, along the original canal line, will start later in 2002, and when complete, the temporary diversion channel will be removed.

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal is to be featured in a BBC2 television programme to be screened at 8.30 pm on Monday 11th March, and presented by the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society's President, Fred Dibnah, as an episode entitled 'Building Canals' in his 'Building of Britain' series.


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Page created 5 April 2002. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 2 December 2003

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