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Issue 434 - March 2009

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Chairman's Column

 
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Alan Moorse

I am very sorry to have to inform members that we have lost another of our long-time members, Alan Moorse. Alan passed away last month at his home in Hopwas, Staffordshire. Members may remember my writing about Alan and his wife, Sonja, in previous Newsletters and how they always looked forward to welcoming visitors from the Society and inviting them to moor up overnight at their canalside cottage in Hopwas. Gill and I have done so on a number of occasions as have Eric and Sue Lewis and other members. Whenever we popped in Alan loved to talk about the years he and Sonja cruised the canals and they always enjoyed receiving and reading the Society Newsletter. Our thoughts go to Sonja, Mike, Rita and the family at this very sad time.

Welcome to our Speaker

We are delighted to welcome Peter Paine, lock-keeper at St John's Lock on the Upper Thames, to our March meeting when he will be telling us about "The Life and Times of a Thames Lock-keeper Today".

Society New Year Lunch

Details of our Society Lunch held at The Blue Hayes Restaurant on Saturday 31 January are included in this Newsletter.

Proposed Boat Gathering

Further to the item in last month's Newsletter, I am pleased to confirm that this very informal get together of Society boat owners will be going ahead over the early May bank holiday. If you would like to take part and haven't yet spoken to me, I would be delighted to hear from you as soon as possible.

Proposed Visit to the Purton Hulks

Further to the talk by Paul Barnett last November we mentioned at that time that we would be planning a tour of the Purton Hulks this Spring. Whilst Paul's tours normally take place on Sundays he has agreed to fit in an additional one for us on Saturday 16 May. The cost for a tour of 2+ hours, starting at about 11am, will be £3.50 per person. As with all our outings in recent years we will make the journey under our own steam but car sharing should be encouraged. I understand there is a Pub nearby where we will be able to get coffee on arrival and lunch later if required. Further details of this outing will appear in this Newsletter in due course.

11 June Meeting

In the last Newsletter I advised that it was necessary to change the date of our June meeting to Thursday 11th. We have recently considered the programme for that date and thought it would make a nice change to break away from our usual programme of speakers and present a 'Home Grown' event. Therefore, we plan to hold a Society 'social' evening comprising a Silent Auction and a General Knowledge Quiz - both in support of a charity yet to be determined. There will be wine and soft drinks, and maybe a few nibbles. Further details in the next Newsletter.

Proposed Boat Trips

We are currently considering possible Society boat trips and ideas at present include a 'Steamer' on the River Thames and a coastal trip on the paddle steamer 'Waverley' or the motor cruiser 'Balmoral'. Further details in due course but we would appreciate any views on these suggestions or your ideas for alternative trips.

Day-Star Theatre

During their last visit in October Pete and Jane hinted that they might be able to come and see us again sometime this year. I am delighted to say that such a visit has now been arranged. They were already booked for the long weekend which included the date of our October meeting. In addition they need the services of a lighting technician for their new productions and he would not be available on Thursday evenings. So, it has been decided to bring forward the date of our October meeting to Friday 25 September and I hope that revised date will be convenient for the majority of our members. More details of the production that evening will be published in a future Newsletter.

Next Month's Speaker

At our April meeting we will welcome Alan Smith and learn all about "Alaska and the Yukon".

Paul Herbert


Trolley Hotline Scheme

 
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A hotline has been launched to help members of the public report abandoned shopping trolleys in canals and rivers. British Waterways, which is organising the scheme, estimates 3,000 are dumped annually, and that fishing them out of its network costs £150,000 each year. It says the hotline will be used to help recover trolleys, and name the supermarkets which own them.

British Waterways is concerned that 320 supermarkets located close to their canals and rivers are not doing enough, and whilst some chains had 'cleaned up their act', they are concerned that  others are happy to write off the loss of their trolleys instead of tackling the issue.

IWA is supporting the initiative as it considers trolley dumping to be a significant impediment to navigation and a risk to wildlife.

The Trolley Hotline can be contacted on 01923 291120, and members of the public can report abandoned trolleys by visiting www.britishwaterways.co.uk/trolley.

IWA's subsidiary management company Essex Waterways has resolved this problem on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation following pressure on Tesco. The company has now employed a sub contractor to remove trolleys from watercourses close to a number of its stores, and this sub-contractor in turn now pays Essex Waterways Ltd a fixed monthly fee for keeping the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation clear of Tesco trolleys. The arrangement seems to suit all parties, covers our costs and keeps the waterway clear.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - March 2009


February Meeting

Ron & Myra Glover - "Crossing Germany West to East"

 
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Our members, Ron and Myra are, of course, regular contributors to our speakers' programme, when we learn about their cruises on the European waterways onboard their steel cruiser 'Elsa'. On this occasion we heard about their cruises from West to East Germany during Easter, Whitsun and summer of 2005.

Their illustrated talk started from the River Rhine and travelled eastward through Germany to the Polish border cruising on seven different waterways: Rhine Herne Canal, Dortmund Ems Canal, Mittelland Canal, the Havel Navigation, the Mecklenburg Lakes and the Oder Spree Canal.

Highlights of their journey included a visit to the Henrichenburg lifts and locks on the Dortmund Ems Canal, where two lifts and two locks have been built since 1899, of which one lift and one lock are still in use to carry 4000ton ships up to Dortmund.

The journey took them along the dull, straight and virtually lockless Mittelland Canal full of commercial traffic, mainly East European to and from Poland.

Another highlight was crossing the River Elbe on the Rothensee aqueduct. Building this commenced in 1938 but stopped at the beginning of World War II. Rebuilding started in 1993 and the aqueduct had only been open for about two years when Ron and Myra crossed it. That aqueduct is 918 metres long and 32 metres wide.

Approaching Berlin they headed north towards the beautiful Mecklenburg lakes which reminded them of the Norfolk Broads fifty years ago, albeit twenty times larger. They navigated across the enormous Muritz See which covers 117 square kilometres, and later also crossed the Schweriner See, finally to reach the most northern navigable point at Hohen Viecheln, which is not too far from the Baltic Sea but which, unfortunately, is unreachable by boat.

Ron and Myra then retraced their path to the fascinating city of Berlin, where a most convenient free mooring was found right in the centre of the city where they were well placed to explore modern day Berlin, including Check Point Charlie and the remains of the Berlin Wall.

Continuing towards Poland, upon reaching the border they found that, due to the dry summer, there was only a depth of 38cm in the River Oder. As 'Elsa'' draws much more than that, they sadly had to retrace their steps to leave the exploration of Poland to another occasion.

'Elsa' was left in Eastern Germany over the winter and Ron and Myra brought her back to 'the West' the following year.

Many thanks to Ron and Myra for an interesting and enjoyable evening. We saw areas of Europe that many of us will never experience other than through their slides.

Paul Herbert

(Many thanks to Ron and Myra for their assistance in compiling the above).


Museum Boat

 
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A fundraising appeal to raise £20,000 to ensure the future of ex-working narrow boat Sculptor has been launched by The Friends of the National Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne. Sculptor, currently moored on the Grand Union Canal outside the museum at Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire, is unable to move because of the poor condition of her hull and the fear of sinking.

Sculptor is a 71ft 6ins long composite boat (iron sides and wooden bottom), built on a 7ft 1in beam in 1935 by W.J. Yarwood and Sons Ltd at Northwich in Cheshire for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company. She is thought to have worked initially carrying general cargoes between London and Birmingham. During World War II, from 1943, she saw service as a fire fighting vessel in the London area, returning to the Company two years later.

The most urgent work required to safeguard Sculptor is complete re-bottoming (or planking) of the hull. Linked with this major task is work involving the repair of replacement of worn rivets in the rubbing strakes on the lower hull and the doubling, or replacement, of hull plating behind the knees.

IWA's Northampton Branch has started the appeal with a donation of £500.

Donations to the Sculptor Appeal can be made via Laura Sturrock, treasurer of The Friends of The National Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne, at 39 Church Street, Nether Heyford, Northants, NN7 3LH (cheques made payable to Friends of the Canal Museum). Alternatively, donations may be made on-line at www.friendsofcanalmuseum.org.uk

IWA Head Office Bulletin - March 2009


Standedge Tunnel

 
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When Standedge Tunnel re-opens for through boat passages on 30th March 2009, it will be under the new system of boats going through under their own power.

Passage will take place on three days a week - Monday, Wed-nesday and Friday. Three boats in each direction will be allowed into the tunnel each day, at 45 minute intervals to prevent boaters being affected by the diesel fumes of other boats. Each boat will carry a BW "chaperone", a qualified tunnel pilot who will supervise the passage and offer advice. The pilot would be able to steer the boat through tricky sections of the boater wished but the boater may steer the boat the whole way if preferred.

Boaters wishing to use the tunnel must book a passage at least 24 hours in advance by phoning 0113 281 6860 (line open Monday to Friday, 8.30 am - 4.30 pm). It is advisable to book a slot as far in advance as possible, but you should be aware that BW will charge you £50 if you don't show up (unless you have phoned to cancel 48 hours or more in advance).

But if you haven't got a boat then there is good news for you as well! There will be monthly through trips for passengers on the electric passenger module.

These trips will be on the first Saturday of each month, with the first being on Saturday 4th April. The westbound trip leaves Tunnel End, Marsden at 9.00 am and the eastbound trip leaves Diggle at 1.00 pm. The fare will be £10 per person (£8 children and concessions) and places can be booked by ringing 01484 844298.

Bus number 184 runs hourly through Diggle and Marsden, passing the top of the lane leading down to Tunnel End, for those who don't fancy making their return on foot over the moors.

The short trips into the tunnel from Tunnel End will operate as in previous years and will start again this year when the Standedge Visitor Centre opens on Saturday 4th April.

www.penninewaterways.co.uk


Society New Year Lunch

 
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31 January 2009

General view of the lunch room

Thirty-one members and guests attended the Society's first New Year Lunch at the Blue Hayes Restaurant at Shootash, near Romsey, on Saturday 31 January. As the restaurant's function room can only accommodate thirty-two, organiser Maureen Greenham must be congratulated on reaching capacity!

Some of the diners

As this event was in effect a late Christmas lunch, members with Christmas Crackers left over contributed those which, together with Party Poppers, gave our party a seasonal flavour.

More diners

On the whole the food was excellent, though those who had lamb found it a little on the tough side, though with good flavour. Our hosts apologised for the lamb and provided a part refund.

Yet more diners

The feeling of those who attended was that they enjoyed the occasion and would be pleased to participate in a similar future event.

Many thanks to Maureen for her splendid organisation, once again.

Paul Herbert


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