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Issue 446 - March 2010

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Chairman's Column

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March Meeting

We are pleased to welcome Alan Copeland to our March meeting. I believe this will be Alan's first visit to the Society and I am sure we will thoroughly enjoy his presentation, with the interesting sounding title, "Curiosities of the Chilterns".

Society Skittles Evening

I am having to write my input for this Newsletter before our Society Skittles Evening takes place on 26 February. Therefore, a write-up on the event and (hopefully) photographs will be published in the April Newsletter.

Proposed Boat Gathering

This is the last call for boating members wishing to participate in the proposed Boat Gathering to be held in the Napton / Braunston area over the early May Bank Holiday. This informal event can only go ahead if there is enough interest. So, if you would like to take part, or would like further information, please contact me as soon as possible.

Vacancies for Chairman and Treasurer & Membership Secretary

Further to my announcement at last year's Annual General Meeting of my decision to retire as your Chairman, and a Committee Member, at the 2010 AGM, and my announcement at last month's meeting that there was a need for volunteers to come forward from the Society membership in order to fill that vacancy, and also that of Treasurer & Membership Secretary, as Anne Coleman has advised she will not be standing again. I have now written to all Society members asking for volunteers. It is imperative that those Committee and Officer vacancies are filled as, otherwise, the future of the Society cannot be assured.

Membership Subscriptions

Just another reminder that our new membership year starts on 1 April and subscriptions (Individual - £15; Joint/Family - £22) should be paid to Anne at our meeting on 1 April, or if you are unable to attend that meeting, as soon as possible thereafter.

Paul Herbert

Canal link for Melksham

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An ambitious project to build a new section of canal in Melksham could bring a café culture to the town and millions of pounds in revenue.

A partnership bidding to restore the former Wilts & Berks Canal in Wiltshire has announced it will prioritise the Melksham link this year, to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Wilts & Berks and Kennet & Avon Canal.

The 3.5km Melksham link will start at the Kennet & Avon Canal in Semington, run past the Berryfield estate and join the River Avon in Melksham, before heading north towards Lacock.

An artist's impression

An artist's impression of the restored Wilts & Berks Canal running past the Berryfield estate

It is hoped the Melksham link, which will run alongside the former A350, will be completed by 2014. A community hall and play area would have to be relocated if the plan gets the go-ahead.

Residents will be consulted on the proposal, which would need planning permission and funding of up to £10 million.

Campaigners hope the Wilts & Berks will be restored from Semington to the River Thames in Abingdon within 15 years.

Dave Bentley, landlord of the New Inn in Semington Road, said: "I think the plan is excellent. Not only will it increase the character of the area and look nice, but as a landlord it will also increase my trade."

Shirley Webb, 63, who has lived in Berryfield Park for 12 years, said: "It will be a nice thing for the area and good for the café and pub, but I think it would be better to spend the money on the town rather than on a canal. Melksham needs more money invested in it."

Chamber of commerce president Graham Ellis said: "I think it will bring in a tremendous amount of people into the area.

"It will also do wonders for the canal frontage and for business and tourism for the area as well as looking so nice."

Ken Oliver, canal officer at Wiltshire Council, said: "We chose the Melksham link to start with because we wanted something very significant for this year, and it is something that will deliver immediately because boats will be able to come off the Kennet & Avon and travel through Melksham.

"The original line is not restorable as some of it goes through the town centre in areas that have been built on, so a new solution has been sought.

"Reopening the canal will bring many opportunities for regeneration in Melksham and the development of a café culture, with new canalside pubs and restaurants. The Kennet and Avon Canal is recorded as bringing in about £20 million a year and it's not just the boaters.

"The scene brings people in and they spend money on things like bed and breakfasts and bike hire among other things."

He said the canal would head towards Lacock, through Pewsham near Chippenham and eventually onto Swindon.

Mr Oliver said funding will come from opportunities for canalside development but the partnership will also apply for grants.

Much of the route is on private land and negotiations are ongoing with the owners. 12 February 2010

February Meeting

Eric and Sue Lewis - "Round Britain in the 1970's"

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Our long-standing members, Sue and Eric Lewis, have given us quite a few interesting presentations over the years and their double act certainly didn't let us down on this occasion.

We were presented with a plethora of slides of the various waterways travelled by Eric and Sue and friends during the 1970's. We started off with some views of London's canals, including Limehouse Basin, the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal with sights of the old Paddington Basin, Brentford Dock and the former Fellows, Morton and Clayton's dock. There were atmospheric shots of old working boats, the tractors used for towing them through the locks, old warehouses, various paper mills, the Ovaltine and Roses Lime Juice works, nearly all of which have now disappeared.

We travelled northwards on the Grand Union via the dry dock at Bulbourne Junction, Marsworth Wharf and the site of the entrance to the old Newport Pagnell Arm (long since filled in), the old Buckingham Arm, Stoke Bruerne, and then on to Braunston. Later we found ourselves at Hawkesbury Junction/Sutton Stop with the 'Greyhound', Sephtons Boatyard (where Jose and Rose Skinner's "Friendship" was built), and the long derelict pump house. A quick trip up to Coventry past industrial sites and the Weavers Cottages, and into the (then) derelict Coventry Basin and its sad looking warehouses (hardly recognisable from the restored site we can experience today).

Where to next - far too many places to include in this brief write-up but, just to mention a few - the Trent & Mersey Canal with the old Thurlwood Steel Lock and the northern portal of Harecastle Tunnel; up the Macclefield and Peak Forest Canals to Whaley Bridge; back down to Marple Junction and through into Manchester via the Ashton Canal; down through the (then) infamous Rochdale Nine to Castlefields. Later, to the Anderton Lift and the River Weaver. Onto the Shropshire Union Main Line to Chester and Ellesmere Port; along the Llangollen Canal; then the Staffs & Worcs Canal and finally (I think) down the South Oxford Canal. Phew - I am feeling quite worn out now!!!

What I found particularly interesting was how some areas have hardly changed at all in the last thirty years or so whilst others are hardly recognisable, mainly because of new developments replacing the former loading docks and warehouses etc. We saw a wide variety of cruising boats from hire companies that went out of business many years ago. In fact I think there was only one company shown that is still in operation today.

Many thanks Eric and Sue for sharing your 1970's experiences with us. For some of us who were cruising regularly back in those days it was quite a nostalgic experience.

Paul Herbert

Southampton Then and Now

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Your editor recently received the email printed below from a Southampton based writer asking for help with her current project. I said that I would see if any of our members were in position to help.

If you feel able to assist Penny Legg then please contact her directly, but I would be interested to hear that you have been in contact.

Peter Oates


Dear Mr Oates,

I wonder if it is possible that you and the Southampton Canal Society might be able to help me please?

My name is Penny Legg and I am a writer and photographer based in Southampton. I have been commissioned to produce a book, Southampton Then and Now, by The History Press, which will be published in October 2010.

This book follows a tried and trusted formula: it presents pairs of photographs, an archive image with a modern colour photograph, to illustrate the changes to the city over time. Each photograph is then captioned. The changes can often be startling and the books are very popular.

I am looking for archive images that are suitable to be retaken in the modern day and I wondered if you and your members would be able to help me please? I am looking for family snaps showing people and places, landscapes, buildings, the waterways, anything in fact that goes to show the city and its immediate area. I have been working on this project for some time and the search for old images is the hardest bit! My deadline for the book to be with the publisher is at the end of March and I still need quite a few images. Do you think that your members might have photographs that they would not mind being used in the book? Full credit for them will be given in the book, of course.

For information, I am a member of the National Union of Journalists and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. I have been commissioned to write four books for The History Press, of which Southampton Then and Now is the second. The first, Folklore of Hampshire, is due out in July 2010. My website: gives a flavour of my life and work.

I do hope you can help me and I look forward to hearing from you.

Very best wishes and many thanks,

Penny Legg

Writer, Editor, Photographer

Address: 22 Wentworth Gardens, Southampton, Hampshire, SO19 9QG

Tel: 02380 438931 (office), 0752 669 0226 (mobile)


IWA Launches Tailored Boat Insurance Scheme With Built in Breakdown Membership

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The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has teamed up with both Navigators & General and River Canal Rescue to enable an insurance facility that it believes is unique to the market, with the added benefit that every policy taken out and subsequently renewed helps IWA, and so helps our charitable work for the waterways.

Our tailored inland waterway insurance policies cover loss and damage to your vessel, protect against legal claims, pay out for injury and damage caused to other property and provide the additional security of inclusive breakdown membership.

Speaking on behalf of IWA, Neil Edwards, chief executive, said:

"IWA currently arranges insurance for over 170 of IWA's corporate members, including most waterways societies and trusts, many boat clubs, community boat groups, navigation authorities, educational, industrial archaeological, waterways leisure and heritage bodies, museums and a wide range of other non-profit making organisations. This is something that IWA has done as a non-profit making service for over 35 years, and has helped save many thousands of pounds from waterways insurance bills. IWA's experience in insurance matters led us to believe that something advantageous could be put in place for private boat owners too. We believe that our partnership with Navigators & General, a leading pleasure craft insurer, and with River Canal Rescue, the foremost boat breakdown organisation, makes this scheme a market-leading proposition, and one which provides additional financial benefit to IWA that will allow it to further its charitable work for the waterways."

More at:

IWA Press Release - 22 February 2010

Solent & Arun Branch Small Boat Cruise Programme 2010

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Sunday 25 April 2010: River Arun to Pallingham

We again exercise the right of navigation at the top of the tidal Arun, from Pulborough to Pallingham and back, some 20 miles from the sea. Suitable for small craft under about 16ft and under about 400kg gross on trailer, as it's impossible to get a car on the slipway at Pulborough, so depends on willing hands and a long rope if necessary. (This cruise may be extended to include options from further downriver, in liaison with the Arundel Boat Club).

The main event

Meet at the slipway at Pulborough 'Swan' Bridge (A29) (OS Grid Ref TQ046185), north bank, east side of bridge, at 11.00, to launch and set off at 11.30. Park on south side of river except when launching/recovering, or elsewhere in town or at station. High Water at Pallingham should occur at about 13.30. Explore the old canal briefly on foot on arrival from 13.00 and cruise back to Pulborough by 15.00. Picnic lunch recommended. Bowsaw could be useful for small branches in the river or above it, particularly for any small cabin craft. Possibility of launching small dinghies at Stopham, or calling there briefly at the White Hart pub, just off the A283 (avoiding the submerged metal stakes of an old landing stage, by the pub garden wall below the old bridge), if time and tide permit. Landing at Pallingham Quay Farm is by special arrangement with the land-owner, to access the public footpath. Please respect this privilege.

Sunday 13 June 2010: Port Creek

Port Creek, next to the A27 dual-carriageway, is what makes Portsmouth into an island. Tidal, with low bridges, we again attempt the challenge of navigating it in the time-window when there is both enough depth and enough headroom. For the confident harbour cruiser, a muddy launch at Fareham (OS Grid Ref SU579056) around 09.00 for a 12-mile cruise (using main channels, shorter if confident navigationally) through Port Creek eastwards to Langstone (Ship Inn), to recover at the good slipway there. High Water is at about 13.00. For the less bold, meet at Highbury (OS Grid Ref SU666043), to launch directly into Port Creek near the railway bridge, from 10.30, to get away at 11.00. Explore Port Creek in both directions and either recover at Highbury (or Hilsea), or head east to Langstone (6 miles). Lift available to recover cars if necessary from launch site.

Sunday 26 September 2010: Beaulieu River

High Water at Beaulieu at about 13.45. Meet and launch at Buckler's Hard from 11.30, or earlier if you fancy going down river first. Access is via a private track to the Marina (OS Grid Ref for Marina Office SU406993); please check in there to pay slip/harbour dues and get parking instructions in this lovely but busy spot. Cruise up to Beaulieu for a picnic lunch at the quay, or sample the pub or café, or just browse among the ice creams and giftware, admiring any New Forest ponies. Return to Bucklers Hard at leisure, but don't run out of sea-water; it should be OK to leave Beaulieu up to 15.00 latest.

For all cruises:

Please contact Andy Berncastle (Tel: 023 8027 3599 or email to or Brendan Whelan (Tel: 01903 816012 or email to to let us know to expect you and for any advice or guidance. All take part at own risk.

Send your comments to the Web Site manager (Peter Oates)

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2010. Except where otherwise indicated, information on these pages may be reproduced provided permission is obtained from the Web Site manager beforehand and due acknowledgement made to the Society.

Page created 6 March 2010 - archived 6 May 2010.

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