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Issue 380 - March 2004

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Chairman's Column

 
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Skittles Evening

It is now just over a week to our third Society Skittles Evening at 'The Kings Head' in Hursley. I understand (at the time of writing) that there are still a few places left but, as the two previous events were sell-outs, these are expected to go fast! Full details of this event are included in this Newsletter. Bookings (with money) to Angela Faull (contact details: 'Phone: 023 8047 6112. E-mail: Faull@waitrose.com).

3rd Society Boat Gathering

Whilst the early May Bank Holiday may seem many months away, the organisation of our annual boat gathering has to start early in the New Year. Currently, out of the ten Society boats moored at various locations at Napton, eight have 'booked' in to our 2004 Boat Gathering. I am waiting to hear from the remaining two boats and it is also possible that one or two others moored in the general area may also participate.

To remind you of the details - the gathering will be held at Flecknoe and Braunston over the Bank Holiday weekend, 1-3 May. We usually gather on the excellent moorings adjacent to Flecknoe Farm on the Friday evening/Saturday morning. During the day we enjoy each others' company and join together for a barbecue late afternoon/early evening. The following day we get together for lunch and in the afternoon cast off and head for Braunston. That evening we walk up the hill to 'The Old Plough' for our evening meal. Next day we all do our 'own thing' before dispersing after lunch and heading back to our respective moorings.

If anybody would like further information of this event, please contact me.

Proposed Society Outings

Your committee has given some thought to possible Society outings and, at its recent meeting, from a long list of possibilities, thought that two ideas might be popular with members. The first could be a combined outing - first a boat trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal from Devizes Wharf followed by an evening tour of Wadsworth Brewery. The other idea is a visit to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton, near Chichester.

As with previous Society outings, to keep down the cost it would be the intention for members to make their own way to the venue rather than hiring a coach. It is not possible, at this time, to give an indication of possible dates or costs etc.

In order to proceed it is necessary to ascertain interest from the membership in either or both of these proposals and then find someone to organise them! Any offers??? If you are interested in these visits (or in assisting to organise them) could you please contact me as soon as possible.

Society Clothing

Martin Cripps is considering placing a final order with Jancraft for Society sweatshirts etc. So, if anybody would like to acquire further items, please let Martin know or, alternatively, contact me and I can pass on your order.

Peter Glover

Many members will recall that long-time Society member, Peter Glover, moved to Weymouth a year or so ago but was very keen to remain in membership. Peter's exploits in one or another of his small, hand-built, boats will be well remembered. He has recently written to the Society and parts of his letter appear on the back page.

End of Year Donations

It is usual towards the end of each financial year for your Committee to consider making special donations to waterways projects out of our 'surplus' funds - thereby adhering to the Society's objectives 'to assist in their (waterways) preservation, restoration and development'. At a recent Committee meeting it was agreed to make donations of £100 each to the following:-

Waterworld

As our January meeting was about to start, Angela Faull reminded me that Carlton Television's first programme in their new series of 'Waterworld' was to be screened (in the Midlands) that evening. Without delay, a telephone call was made to our permanent Midlands representatives, Ken and Margaret Froud, living on their boat at Napton Top Lock, on the Old Engine Arm. Margaret was able to confirm that the programme had just started and they were videoing it as we spoke. So, it is possible that, as we 'southerners' are not to be allowed to watch this popular TV programme as it is screened, we may be able to catch up with it later on video.

Offer of Help - Boat Maintenance or Crewing

We have received an enquiry from a retired gentleman in Fareham who has "lots of time on my hands - do you know of anyone that would like help on their boat, in any way at all? I am retired ex RN engineering so can turn my hands to most things. I would also help with crewing if necessary. Hope you can help."

So, if any boat owner out there would like to take Roy up on his offer, please let me know and I can put you in touch with him.

Paul Herbert


February Meeting

Andrew Stumpf, Regeneration Manager (South), British Waterways

 
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We were delighted to welcome Andrew Stumpf to our February meeting which was attended by a near capacity crowd.

In a very polished, often humorous, hi-tech presentation, delivered by Andrew at somewhat of a high pace (!!!), we learnt of his background concerning the waterways. Originating from Basingstoke, he became an important part of the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal where he became very attached to 'Perseverance', the steam dredger. He had currently been with British Waterways for 27 years, in a variety of roles.

Andrew's theme for the evening was "Building New Canals: Finding New Funding:" and concentrating on the proposed Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway; the Cotswold Canals; and the Droitwich Canals.

British Waterways logo

Fortunately the waterways now had increased Government support as demonstrated in DETR's 'Waterways for Tomorrow' published in August 2000.

Regarding the particular challenge of securing funding, from the Lottery and other sources, he mentioned that "People like canals - they are apolitical"...... There is extreme competition for money and in order to interest potential funders it was essential to "ask not what you can do for the canal but what the canal can do for you" and match the project in question to other people's objectives viz. jobs, economic development, regeneration of depressed areas etc. Fortunately, these days, due to recent waterway re-openings and new projects completed, there was plenty of success to build on.

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterways Trust banner

Concentrating on the proposed new waterway to connect the Grand Union at Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse at Bedford, Andrew described the total support for the scheme from the various local authorities and other agencies; explained some of the engineering challenges to be overcome; and the possible sources of funding, including from developers who would be taking the opportunity of developing waterside properties. Despite early optimism, it was now estimated that it would take twenty years to complete this new, major waterway.

Cotswold Canals Trust logo

Moving on to the Cotswold Canals, this was, of course, a major canal restoration linking the Rivers Thames and Severn. Even though restoration was in progress, there were many challenges to be overcome. For example, whilst many of the canal structures have high heritage value, only a few are listed. However, the opportunities that the re-opened canals would bring would be widespread. Several areas along the lines of the canals are unattractive, underused and are in decline. Andrew went through in some detail the benefits that reopening these waterways would bring. Regarding anticipated completion of the Cotswold Canals, Andrew reckoned a ten year programme was still possible.

Droitwich Canal emblem

Despite running out of time, Andrew responded to friendly demand from the meeting to provide some detail regarding the restoration of the Droitwich Canals, and a current update on the Lottery bid. These two canals were particular contrasts - that in the west was one of the oldest canals whilst the eastern end was one of the newest. Some of the original line of the canals had been lost but alternative routes, including diversions into adjacent rivers/water courses, were feasible. As with the Cotswold Canals, there were many heritage structures along the route but, again, only a few are listed. Andrew hoped that the Droitwich canals could be reopened in about five years.

Andrew covered significant ground on all his topics and, despite this fairly long write-up, it is not possible to give any more than a flavour of the areas he covered.

Many thanks Andrew to a most enlightening and interesting presentation. Good luck to you and all involved with the planning and actual work involved in funding and completing these three important waterways.

Paul Herbert

Postscripts: At the beginning of the February meeting I was pleased to make a presentation to Laurie Pearce of "The Great Days of the Canals" by Anthony Burton, in recognition of his winning the members photographic competition at the January meeting.

We were delighted to welcome Kath Everitt, our International member, to our February meeting. Kath now lives in France but has continued with her Society membership and she was pleased to renew her acquaintance with her friends in the Society.


Basingstoke Canal - Bits & Pieces

 
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Aldershot Military Town

Outline proposals for the redevelopment of Aldershot Military Town will have a considerable impact on the Basingstoke Canal. The existing military buildings south of the canal from Government Road to Queens Avenue, between the dual carriageway and the canal, will be scheduled for reconstruction. Working together, the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society (SHCS) and the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) have responded to the consultation process, advocating landscape works on the south bank of the canal to provide a screen and proposing water storage facilities, with drain-down responsibility being vested with BCA. Those facilities would reduce the volume of surface water run-off into the canal in heavy rain, meeting Environment Agency criteria, whilst also providing some water catchment for use during dry conditions.

Military land release is also probable west of Queens Avenue. Redevelopment is planned from 2005/06 to 2010/11.

Peter Redway, Chairman of SHCS, and Leigh Thornton, Canal Manager for BCA, were invited to give a joint presentation to a Planning Workshop in December, and they again advocated water storage facilities within the new development, leisure facilities and towpath improvements. Feedback on the final day was positive. Outline possibilities included a canal lay-by/mooring facility and retail kiosk facilities for canal visitors.

The eventual planning applications will show how successfully their presentation for improvements and canal facilities was received by the various authorities.

A Link to the Kennet and Avon Canal?

Further to previous (recent) research into the possibilities of creating a link between the Basingstoke and Kennet & Avon Canals, SHCS has a small working group progressing this activity.

Surrey County Council Offices Move

Surrey County Council is proposing to move its headquarters offices from Kingston-upon-Thames to the canalside Brewery Road Car Park site in Woking. As owners of the canal in Surrey, such a move should result in a more pro-active corporate response from SCC. The opportunity to seek enhancements for the canal, now that the decision to move has been made, should not be missed and SHCS has a number of initiatives for improving the canal facilities which they now intend to pursue with the respective authorities.

Canal Management Plan

SHCS has recently received a draft copy of BCA's new Canal Management plan for comment. Perhaps the most immediately striking thing about it is the emphasis on the SSSI designation and its impact on virtually every aspect of the canal and its management.

Television - A Note for your Diaries

The 'Country Ways' programme on the Basingstoke Canal featuring the John Pinkerton and Ron McLaughlin, made last October, will be transmitted at 7.30pm on Thursday, 25 March 2004 on Meridian.

BCA's Maintenance Audit

BCA is currently carrying out a huge audit of necessary repairs along all 32 miles of the canal. After some 13 years (longer for many sections) of use and abuse since the re-opening, the canal is in need of some quite serious work, as was emphasized during last summer's low water levels. The results of this audit will form the basis of BCA's maintenance action plan for the coming few years, tying in with its new Canal Management Plan. It will also identify key areas where major structural works are required, which will have to form the platform for increased capital funding, whether from the partner authorities or external bodies.

BCA hopes to work together with SHCS to use the advantages of BCA resources combined with the Canal Society's charitable status and knowledgeable fund raisers to access new sources of money.

Heritage Lottery Funding

Hampshire County Council has secured Heritage Lottery funding (£ ¾m) towards stabilising and improvements to King John's Castle and the surrounding area, including the towpath and bankside walling. Work should start in 2005 after the plans have been approved.

Canal Internet Websites

SHCS website has moved to a new address:- www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk

BCA has got its own website at:- www.basingstoke-canal.co.uk

Muck and Bullets!

(From SHCS Newsletter - Summer 1974).

There was an unusual find at Ash Lock during a clearing-out dig on 5 May. A .22 Browning automatic pistol was found in the lock chamber. The person who found it had hoped to keep it, suitably disabled, on his living room wall but the Police kept it, informing him that it would be used at the Police Training School to teach self-defence to cadets!

With acknowledgements to 'Basingstoke Canal News' No.201 Spring 2004, published by Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society.


IWA Solent & Arun Branch

Forthcoming Events

 
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Sunday 28th March

NATIONAL CANAL CLEANUP - TITCHFIELD CANAL

We are carrying out our annual inspection of the unique Titchfield Canal of 1611, and picking up any litter we find on the way. Meet at the northern end of the Titchfield Haven beach at 10:00 for a 10:30 start. Then we have a gentle walk back to the town for a picnic lunch. Rubbish sacks provided, please bring gloves and walking footwear.

Sunday 25th April

RIVER ADUR - CUCKOO'S CORNER CRUISE

In view of the increasing interest in the fate of Ropetackle slipway during and after the redevelopment there, we are actively campaigning for retaining and improving boaters' access to the Adur in Shoreham. We have two hours either side of high water at 15.44, so we meet at Emerald Quay from 13:00. The cruise will visit all potential slipway sites in Shoreham, and we will take refreshment upriver at Cuckoo's Corner. Suitable for craft from canoes to powered trail boats.

For full details of timings and locations please contact me for the 2004 cruise booklet below.

Pete Boyce Cruise Organiser
Greensleeves Cottage, Hambledon Road, Denmead, Waterlooville, Hants PO7 6PW
Tel. 02392 269642
E-mail pete@greensleeves.freeserve.co.uk


John Finch
IWA (Ipswich Branch)

 
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Our speaker for the April meeting will be John Finch of the Ipswich Branch of the IWA. He will be showing slides and talking about the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation on the River Gipping in Suffolk, and the restoration work that the Branch has been undertaking. More details about the Navigation may be found elsewhere in this Newsletter.

The Branch itself was founded in 1974 and its members have long been involved in the preservation, and more recently restoration of the Navigation from Stowmarket to Ipswich. John, together with his wife Joan who will also be with us on the evening, has played an active role with the Branch over many years, including a long stint on the branch committee as the Editor of the newsletter, Anglian Cuttings. At the same time Joan was the Social Secretary, arranging a supply of speakers for the winter monthly meetings.

John Finch

John has also been an active volunteer for the restoration work for many years, and continues to support them today on a regular basis. He was recently awarded the Branch Chairman's Plate, which is awarded annually to an active non committee Branch member. Joan also keeps busy providing a supply of handmade rag rugs for the Branch stand.

Since retirement John and Joan have spent more time exploring the rest of the canal network, firstly as a part owner of 'Copperkins', one of the early craft managed by Ownerships, and more recently on their own purpose built narrowboat 'Fringilla', I will let John explain the name! Based near Foxton, over the last two years 'Fringilla' has been seen as far north as Huddersfield, York and Ripon, but that's another story. Having been as far north as the connected system permits, future plans, possibly later this year, include the most southern points on the Kennet and Avon.

As you will learn the Branch continues to be an active 'Restoring' IWA branch and all its fund raising goes towards this end.

Charles Stride


This Newsletter

 
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A bumper edition of the Newsletter this month with 10 pages. It's all had to be a bit squeezed in and there was even more that I was thinking of putting in. However, don't let this deter you from sending in items for publication. There'll be more room in future editions.

Peter Oates, Editor


A Potted History of the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation - River Gipping

 
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Gipping emblem

By way of an introduction to next month's talk by John Finch, SCS member Charles Stride (also a member of IWA Ipswich Branch) has provided this history of the waterway.

To many people the river Gipping is just another pleasant watercourse, starting life somewhere west of Stowmarket and gently wending its way down the Gipping Valley to end at its confluence with the Orwell as it enters Ipswich.

But the river is much more than that, for it was a navigable waterway as far back as 860 AD when the Danes sailed up the river to establish the village of Ratles-Dane, known as Rattlesden today, from where they attacked the Saxon stronghold and camp of Haugley Castle. From 1065 to 1095 stone was brought from Caen in Normandy, up the rivers Gipping and Rat, to build the Abbey at Bury St. Edmunds. The river was still in use in the 17th century but no serious improvements were ever made.

Improvements had been planned since the early 18th century but had always been blocked by Ipswich Corporation who feared a loss of trade. However, in 1790 six trustees were appointed to administer the newly created Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation which was formally opened in 1793. It subsequently suffered flood damage in 1796 and was reopened to navigation in 1798.

A plan to extend the navigation from Stowmarket to Bury St. Edmunds came to nothing, presumably for the same reasons that Ipswich Corporation had objected to the original navigation proposals.

Fifteen locks were built to raise the barges the 90 feet from Ipswich to the head of navigation at the wharf near the Pickerel Inn, Stowmarket, a distance of nearly 17 miles.

The construction of the Navigation employed 200 navvies using picks and shovels and cost £26,263 - 10s. Tonnage rates charged were 1d per ton per mile. The average journey by the original horse-drawn lighters took 7 to 8 hours with an average load of 30 to 40 tons.

With the coming of the railway in 1846 trade fell away and by 1900 there were few traders left. Manure was still being carried to Stowmarket and gun cotton taken down river, with fertilizer still being transported by the river from Fison's and Packard's at Bramford to Ipswich Docks, but trade finally ceased in 1932.

Years of subsequent neglect left a legacy of waste and dereliction but most of the historic features of the Navigation are still to be seen, the terminal basin at Stowmarket, nearly all the locks, and many of the watermills. The river has played a major part in the history and development of the Gipping Valley and a few years ago The Ipswich Branch of the IWA, together with a number of local organisations, in conjunction with the Local Authorities, commenced actively pursuing its restoration, not only as a valuable part of our industrial heritage, but as an integral part of the landscape and a peaceful refuge in a busy world.

The initial work involved repairing the towpath at several points along the route of the navigation where the path was eroded and impassable. Following this initial undertaking the river can now be walked for its entire length as part of the Gipping Valley Countryside Walk.

Exploratory work has also been done at a number of lock sites and work has been undertaken, clearing rubbish and shrub and root growth, which was threatening the structure of the locks and the waterway itself. We have also assisted in the clearance of rubbish and dangerous structures at both ends of the navigation in Stowmarket and in Ipswich.

Tug and barges on Navigation

Over a period of some three years, an active core of Branch volunteers, with the help of the Waterways Recovery Group (WRG) over a number of summer camps and the Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG) at numerous weekends, undertook a major renovation and reconstruction at Bosmere Lock, Needham Market. The whole chamber is now complete again and only awaits the replacement gates. The lock has now become one of the main attractions of the Needham Lake Water Park.

The volunteers, with the continued support of WRG and KESCRG, then continued their restoration work and concentrated on the next lock downstream, Creeting Lock. There, with the kind permission of the landowner, the upper and lower ends have been repaired, coping stones removed and reset, and the millstream bye-wash restored. Recent work has included the sympathetic restoration of the bridge across the tail of the lock.

Future plans include the possible provision of an electric trip boat to run between the two restored locks, but further major restoration work needs to be the subject of a feasibility study. In recent years both Ipswich and Stowmarket have realized that they have an asset to their towns, which can be improved upon and they have made efforts in this direction. With all the locks, bar one still being in existence it would be perfectly possible to once again have a complete Navigation. There were even early plans to connect from Stowmarket to Cambridge and in today's positive restoration mood could we one day see Ipswich connected to the main canal system? - Who knows!

Charles Stride


Wey & Arun Canal

 
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Wey & Arun Canal Trust logo Wey & Arun Canal Trust logo

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust
invite you to take part in their 32nd Annual Poddle
(sponsored walk) on Sunday 13 June 2004

Location:

The Poddle this year circumnavigates the pretty village of Wisborough Green in West Sussex, visiting the water wheel at Lordings Lock and aqueduct and also the Lordings Flood Gate Lock in the morning and after lunch returning by the stretch of canal between Malham and Newbridge.

The walk this year is approximately 12 miles.

The Start and Finish point for the walk is The Old Wharf, situated at the junction of the B2133 and the A272 at Newbridge east of Wisborough Green, close to Guildenhurst Farm, Landranger map 197. It will be well signposted.

Refreshments:

Refreshment stops are sited along the route, handing out squash and snacks. Refreshments are also provided at the Finish.

Lunch:

We stop for lunch at Kirdford Village Hall, where a buffet style lunch will be served. Lunch is paid for by donation into a pot at the end of the table, and this was extremely successful last year, walkers showing their appreciation to the lunch ladies for a wonderful spread. A supply of local ale will also be on sale.

The Details:

You are free to make your own pace on the walk, as the overall timetable is designed to meet the needs of all entrants. You should, however, aim to start between 8.30 am and 10.30 am (but please no later).

We hope you will want to complete the whole walk, but it is possible to finish at the lunch stop and return to the start by minibus.

SPONSOR FORMS AVAILABLE FROM
THE WEY & ARUN CANAL TRUST OFFICE ON 01403 752403
OR E-MAIL wact@weyandarun.freeserve.co.uk


Letter from Bruce Hall - Chairman of Cotswold Canals Trust

 
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Dear Member/Supporter,

Petition of support for the Restoration of the Cotswold Canals

Please will you help?

The Heritage Lottery Fund announced last month (28th Jan 2004) that it had deferred its decision regarding the bid for a grant towards Phase 1 restoration of the Cotswold Canals.

The HLF acknowledges the immense heritage and regeneration benefits of the project. However, given the current climate of fierce competition for funds, the Trustees have asked for the bid to be scaled down and to increase the participation of other partners.

The aim of this petition is to demonstrate the high level of support that exists for the Cotswold Canals project both locally and nationally. In addition to the HLF, we need other bodies to commit funds to the project as matched funding both for Phase 1 and to enable later phases of the project proceed.

The Cotswold Canals Trust with a membership of 4,400 is probably the largest for its kind, but we also now need to supplement this with evidence of all those many others in the wider community who support the restoration of these waterways and would like to see it happen now.

Will you kindly spare some of your time to collect as many signatures as you can and return them to the Trust?

Thank you for your help.

Yours sincerely,

Bruce Hall M.B.E. - Chairman

The Cotswold Canals Trust

Cotswold Canals Petition

We, the undersigned, support the full restoration of the Cotswold Canals and urge all funding bodies and authorities to do everything they can to help bring this about.

Signature Name Post Code Address (optional)
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The above DO NOT give permission for their details to be used for mailing or advertising purposes.

Forms to be returned to: Cotswold Canals Petition, 44 Black Jack Street, Cirencester, GL7 2AA

Please obtain as many signatures as you can and return it within a few days so as to avoid the risk of losing it. If you think you can collect more than 20 signatures, you may wish to photocopy this form before filling it in. Alternatively, more can be obtained from the Trust Office (tel: 01285 643440) or can be downloaded from www.cotswoldcanals.com


Regards to All

 
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When recently renewing his membership subscription, member Peter Glover wrote:

Weymouth,
Dorset

Dear Laura & Peter

Many thanks for the newsletters. Although I moved here in April, it takes a while to sort out the paper work - rearranging change of address etc to the various authorities.

Although not on any Inland Waterway system, my location is just wonderful, surrounded by the sea - my house overlooks Portland Harbour, plenty of water, enough to keep me rowing fit.

My new anchorage is W.W.W - wet, wild, windy, wonderful Weymouth!!

Regards to All,

Peter G


Skittles Evening

 
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SKITTLES EVENING

THE KINGS HEAD, HURSLEY.

FRIDAY MARCH 12TH. 7.30PM.

Clipart of skittles

£7.50 PER HEAD INCLUSIVE OF BUFFET

Commence playing at approx 7.45pm

Food at 8.45 - 9.15pm

Finish at 10pm approx.

Tickets from Angela Faull: 023 8047 6112 or Faull@waitrose.com


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