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Issue 390 - March 2005

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Chairman's Column

 
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Proposed Society Visit to the Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton

In our February Newsletter details were included of the Society's proposed outing to the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton, being organised by Maureen Greenham. The date advertised was Sunday 22 May but it has since been learnt that this clashes with the IWA Salisbury Group's visit to the remains of the Southampton & Salisbury Canal. As both the Society and Group have 'shared' members we have changed the Society outing to Sunday 8 May. Details of the Museum and of the proposed trip have been re-printed in this Newsletter. Just to clarify the transport situation, as with all our trips in recent years we rely on members to use their own transport, as the cost of hiring a coach can be prohibitive. Car sharing for such an outing can really be a bonus for all concerned.

Obviously, with any outing of this nature, we do have to achieve a minimum number of participants to make all the planning work worthwhile. So, if you haven't yet put your name down, please contact Maureen, without delay, on 02380 406951 or e-mail: maureen.greenham@dsl.pipex.com

E-mail Contact

Further to the item in February's Chairman's Column, I am pleased to advise that most of my computer gremlins have been sorted and my e-mail system is up and running again. However, I now have a change of e-mail address: paul@herbertpaul.wanadoo.co.uk and I would be grateful if that address could be used in future.

Future Programme

I mentioned in last month's column about a change of date for our October meeting (second Thursday viz. 13th). Members will recall that we are never able to hold our May meeting on the first Thursday because the Hall has to be reserved for possible election use. Therefore, our May meeting will also be held on the second Thursday viz.12th [Mr Blair willing - Ed].

Our programme for 2005 is now virtually complete. Please see the article elsewhere in this Newsletter.

Jigsaw Puzzles

If one of your hobbies is doing jigsaws, see the item inside this Newsletter.

Refreshments Rota

To date no one has come forward to assist with the provision of refreshments for our May and June meetings. Please remember - no volunteers means no refreshments on those two dates.

Newsletter

I would like to place on record the Society's thanks to Martin Cripps who is currently arranging for the printing of our monthly Newsletter. However, we are still investigating the longer term issues.

Paul Herbert


Weald and Downland Museum

 
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Set in 50 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside is a very special place to wander amongst a fascinating collection of nearly 50 historic buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century, many with period gardens, together with farm animals, woodland walks and a picturesque lake.

Rescued from destruction, the buildings have been carefully dismantled, conserved and rebuilt to their original form and bring to life the homes, farmsteads and rural industries of the last 500 years.

For a complete contrast visit the Downland Gridshell, the Museum's workshop and store for supporting collections - in an amazing award-winning architectural tour de force, the first timber gridshell in Britain. Tours daily at 1.30pm.

Society Trip

It is planned to arrange a trip to the Museum on Sunday 8th May, meeting there about 10.15am.

Maureen Greenham is arranging a guided tour at 10.30am taking in the main exhibit buildings lasting for about 1½ to 2 hours. Lunch would follow this and is available at their restaurant by the lake or we can picnic in the grounds. After lunch we would regroup at 1.30pm for the Gridshell tour until about 2.10pm. After this people will be free to wander around on their own as desired.

Our group will probably be limited to 25 and will cost £7.50 each to include the tour. Please let Maureen know that you want to come - contact details above.


February Meeting

Down the Rhine and up the Neckar - Ron & Myra Glover

 
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We can always be assured of a very interesting presentation from Society members Ron and Myra covering one of their latest tours around the inland waterways of Europe, and their illustrated talk at our February meeting was no exception.

On this occasion Ron and Myra told us about their first venture into German waterways, which took place in 2003, on board their Dutch steel cruiser 'Elsa'.

Their trip started at the junction of the Canal du Rhône au Rhin and the River Rhine near Mulhouse. They travelled down the Rhine through locks up to 15 metres deep, where locks were shared with 1350 ton Rhine barges, via Strasbourg to Mannheim, where the Neckar joins the Rhine. This journey took them the full 201km of the river, through the 27 locks to the end of navigation at Plochingen.

It was interesting to compare this waterway with the British canals that we are more used to. Mooring wasn't very easy so most stopovers were spent at boat clubs where they found local members would 'fall over backwards' to make them welcome. Facilities were excellent and at Plochnigen Boat Club, where they had been the only British visitors that year, they even had a meal cooked especially for them when the locals found that the village restaurant was shut that evening.

Interesting visits were made along the route, including to the famous university town of Heidelberg, the spa town of Bad Wimpfen, and the underground caverns of the salt mines near Heilbronn.

Along the Neckar we saw numerous castles, mostly in ruins, the vineyards on the steep slopes, and the Mercedes factory at Stuttgart. Interesting historical points were discussed including facts about the chain tug introduced in 1878 and the spectacular fire in 1986 which destroyed the 13th century Blue Tower in Bad Wimpfen.

Their journey finished at Heilbronn where we saw a crane capable of lifting 25 tons, whisking their Honda 800cc motorbike over the top of the moored boats ready for their journey back to England.

As always, Ron and Myra, many thanks for a very interesting tour of some of Germany's waterways, introducing the majority of us to waters we have never seen before. We will look forward, in due course, to your talk about your foreign travels during 2004.

Paul Herbert


2005/2006 Society Programme

 
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We have a very interesting and varied programme of events and speakers booked for the remainder of this year and the beginning of the next and I thought members would be interested in a broad outline.

Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust logoBarn owl

Next month Cliff Penny of the Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust is coming to speak to us about the plans for the restoration of that waterway. On 8 May we are hoping there will be sufficient interest in a Society trip to the Weald & Downland Museum at Singleton. A complete change of theme in May when renowned local photographer will be making a very welcome return visit to the Society with his programme 'Valley of the Barn Owls'. Back to the waterways in June for Richard Thomas talking about 'A Day in the Life of a London Tug'. Our speaker for the 7th July meeting has yet to be confirmed. We will be holding our Annual General Meeting, with supporting programme, at our August meeting (to be held on 28 July).

Starting off our late summer/early autumn programme, Jeremy Coles will be introducing 'The Work of the Upper Severn Trust'. Another change of theme in October when Society member John Silman and Tony Yoward will be tasking us with the statement 'So you think you know about Industrial Archaeology'. On into November when we will be delighted to welcome James Griffin (of Wyvern Shipping on the Southern Grand Union Canal) with his exploits of his sea-going narrow boat 'Ocean Princess' - 'South Coast Circular Cruise'. Our December meeting will, of course, be the traditional Inter-Society Waterways Quiz and American Supper.

Camera

It is also hoped that a 'musical interlude' will somehow be included in this year's programme.

On into 2006 with our annual Members' Photographic Evening & Competition in January, followed by what promises to be a fascinating talk by Peter Atwill in February on the subject of 'My Work as Padre to the Inland Waterways.

I hope members will agree that we have a very interesting and entertaining year ahead of us.

Paul Herbert


IWA Salisbury Group

 
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The Salisbury Group have had to change the venue for their meetings from The Three Crowns at Whaddon to The Green Dragon, just a mile away in Alderbury (see the map to the right). Details of their future meetings can be found in Waterways Events.


IWA REPUBLISHES EARLY ARCHIVE BULLETINS ON CD

 
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The Inland Waterways Association has announced the launch of a new CD featuring back issues of all its early Bulletins to members, covering the period November 1946 (Issue 1) to June 1964 (Issue 71).

IWA's Archive Bulletin CD contains a fascin.ating collection of news articles, correspon.dence and occasional photographs highlighting the work of the Association from its formation in 1946, up until 1964 and the restoration of the Southern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.

Highlights include the high drama surrounding the Stourbridge Rally (Issue 67 1962), IWA Council's reaction to the Minister of Transport in the wake of the Suez Crisis (Issue 53 Feb 1957) and, on a lighter note, the IWA's involvement in historical events such as the Festival of Britain in 1951:

"To the South Bank Exhibition in London our Association is contributing two painted narrow boats; most generously provided by our mem.bers Messrs. Hercules Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd and Messrs. J.A. Phillips & Co. Ltd, both of Birmingham, who have gone to considerable expense in the matter and to whom we are most grateful...It is fair to say that few objects in the whole of London this festival year stand out more prominently that these two boats...The voyage to London and the exhibition of the boats has attracted extensive press and wireless publicity the world over, including a large photograph in The Times (on 28th April) of the boats passing through Braunston." (Issue 27, 1951).

The Bulletins are set against the changing political and economic fortunes of the post war period and firmly cement IWA's hard work and continued efforts to fight to save the Inland Waterways. At times it seemed to many to be a losing battle! This collection is an essential resource for anyone with an interest in transport history or who wants to see just how close we came to losing our waterways' heritage.

The CD is available from IWA's online shop at www.iwashop.com/ecommerce/products.asp?cat=60, priced at £19.95 or by post from the Association's Head Office.

IWA Press Release: 23rd February 2005


IWA ANNOUNCES GRANT TO WILTS AND BERKS CANAL

 
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The Inland Waterways Association has awarded a grant of £2,000 to the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust towards the cost of restoration of Seven Locks, Lock No. 3 near Lyneham in Wiltshire, also known as Tockenham Lock 3. The grant will help pay for materials such as bricks, sand and aggregate to rebuild the tail of the lock and installation of a lock ladder. It will also contribute towards repair of the machinery that is necessary to do the work.

Vaughan Welch, Chairman of IWA's Restoration Committee said 'The Inland Waterways Association are pleased to award this grant towards the restoration of the canal near Lyneham, which is part of a greater project to achieve restoration, for navigation and public amenity of the Wilts and Berks Canal'.

The Wilts and Berks Canal forms the central link in a net-work, comprising the Cotswold Canals, the Kennet and Avon Canal, and the River Thames. Lock 3 is on the historic line which is covered by the local authority's protection policy and forms part of the projected through route of the main canal.

IWA Press Release: 22nd February 2005


Informal Jigsaw Puzzle Library

 
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Over many years Gill and I have accumulated a large library of jigsaws, many of which have waterway and railway related themes. The majority are of 500 or 1000 pieces. I must admit that, of the two of us, Gill is the real addict and can often be seen on our boat, as we cruise along, sitting out in the bow-well with her jigsaw board on her lap.

Most of our puzzles are stored away and we have recently discussed the possibility of loaning some of them to Society members. So, for any puzzle fans out there, as from the April meeting we will bring along a few boxes for your examination. There will be no charge for loan of the jigsaws but a modest donation to the Society would not, of course, be refused.

Paul Herbert


IWA CAMPAIGNS AGAINST PROLIFERATION OF UNNECESSARY WATERWAYS SIGNS

 
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The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has warned against the proliferation of new signs across the waterways following a consultation from the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA). AINA has recently issued a consultation to selected waterway interests suggesting standardised signs and symbols for all UK inland waterways. The document explains that clear, concise, understandable and appropriate signage is key to safe use of the waterways and aims to allow waterway users to visit waters owned by different navigation authorities without the need for individual sign guidance. While IWA supports necessary improvements to safety provisions, the Association has expressed concern that new signs would be both unnecessary and unwelcome.

IWA responded to the consultation that it would support a review of safety signage to ensure that it is clear and readable from a distance by those on a boat. Often this is not the case, because the signs are not properly maintained, or are obstructed by other signs, or covered by vegetation. Yet, when they are visible, IWA believes that most of the current signs are perfectly understandable.

Roger Squires, chairman of IWA's Navigation Committee, commented, "Despite the individuality and different types of waterways, the range of signs currently in use is not difficult to understand. We are concerned that the new proposals would reduce the unique character of individual waterways. Each of the original canal companies had its own particular characteristics. Much of these have already been lost due to canal amalgamation, nationalisation and corporate vandalism of the predecessors of today's navigation authorities. Some time ago, BW was concerned enough to try and maintain some individuality between individual waterways, and did considerable work to identify them and set initiatives in motion to conserve and in places restore lost features. Unifying signs could mean a loss of some of this individuality."

Roger Squires added, "We do not want signs defacing the waterways unless there is a genuine need for them, for example either to warn of danger or provide necessary information that cannot be otherwise better communicated. Some of the standard signs are completely unnecessary. For example, there are currently only two working boat lifts in the country - Falkirk Wheel and Anderton Boat Lift - and everyone knows where they are, or it will be obvious as they approach. Therefore there really isn't any need for a standardised sign to warn boaters of boat lifts."

Although the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities anticipates that the existing signs would be retained until they need replacing, IWA is concerned that limited funds for maintenance might be diverted to this unnecessary project.

IWA Press Release: 24th February 2005


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