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Issue 458 - March 2011

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Chairman's Column

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March 2011 Meeting

This evening we offer a very warm welcome to Tony Pratt. He is taking us on a journey, "Horsham to Littlehampton in 100 years". Also he's also giving us a short update on the Wey & Arun Canal's progress.

February Meeting

24 Members attended and enjoyed the presentation on the Talyllyn Railway, the write up of which is in this month's Newsletter.

Next Month's Meeting

This will be on Thursday April 7th and will be the Inter-Society Waterways Quiz that was postponed from last December. As reigning champions Salisbury IWA are organising the Quiz.

As usual the evening will finish off with an American Supper. We would all appreciate our members bringing along food to share. Plus volunteers for our own team, please.

Society Burgees

These are available at £12.50 each or £13.50 posted. For further details contact Angela, Club Secretary (contact details on the back page).

Ideas wanted!

It has been put forward that our June 2nd meeting should be a Social evening to include Bring & Buy, Silent Auction, with a Quiz running through the evening. Is there anything else you, as members, would like to include?

Please see any Committee member with any comments or ideas.

Boat trip

Maureen Greenham has proposed a Society boat trip for this summer. More details here.

Day-Star Theatre

Members will be interested to know that the Day-Star Theatre has been booked to give a show at Chilworth on Friday 7th October 2011. Further details will be published in due course but put the date in your diaries now.

Alan Rose

Competition winner

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The winning photo







After a technical hitch (the press date arrived before the picture), we can now bring you Pam McKeown's winning photo in the competition held at the Society's January meeting.


Well done, Pam.

Canal Society Chairman Dies

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Peter Redway, Chairman of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society, died on 7th February following a long period of poor health.

Peter Redway

Peter, his wife Margurite and their two sons lived in a row of cottages built by his grandfather beside the Basingstoke Canal in St John's near Woking, so it was perhaps inevitable that he should get drawn into the restoration that took place during the 1970s and 80s. It was in fact Margurite who entered a national competition for local environmental improvement proposals and won £5000, which enabled work to start on the five locks at St John's. However it was not long before Peter was leading the work parties there.

After the canal re-opened in 1991, Peter became the Society's Vice-Chairman and subsequently Chairman. Although the canal was open, he continued to lead volunteer work parties doing work to improve the navigation. His leadership technique was simple and very effective - work incredibly hard on the canal and shame everyone else into following.

It earned him the admiration and respect of the County Council owners of the canal, who nominated him for the MBE that he received in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2007. The admiration, respect and affection were shared by everyone who knew Peter and his parting will leave a huge gap that will be very hard to fill.

February Meeting

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The Talyllyn Railway - Alan Inder

The Talyllyn Railway was the world's first preserved railway.

In 1865, permission was granted by Parliament to construct a 2ft 3in gauge railway to carry slate from quarries at Nant Gwernol, 700ft above sea level to Tywyn on the Mid Wales Coast, between Aberystwyth and Barmouth.

Originally the slate was transported by pack horse but this soon changed when the railway was built in a year including engine sheds and workshops at Pendre Hey.


'Dolgoch' at Tywyn Wharf in 1949, with the complete passenger stock

The early 1900's brought strikes in other mines in the area. However, Nant Gwernol was not effected and so increased its work. A picture was shown by Alan of the last wagon of the day, coming down full of folks "joy riding" on a summer's evening.

In 1911 the railway was sold to Mr Haydn Jones who ran it until his death in1950.

Times were hard and plans were being made to sell off the railway for scrap when Tom Rolt took an interest. He found the building and tools just as the work men had left it. Mr Rolt encouraged other enthusiasts and wrote in 1943 to the press for more supporters. Ex- engine drivers on the line volunteered, other experienced engineers and machinists also came on board.

Whit Monday 1951 saw the first steam train in the world to run on a preserved railway. Alan's collection included photographs from the 1950's taken by Dick Sainsbury an old volunteer.

Since the 1950's other historic locomotives, the 1866 Guinness and Russell loco from the clay line nr Swanage have joined the stock, plus a new locomotive has been constructed in the railway's Pendre works.

This year the Talyllyn Railway celebrates 60years of success, it offers a wonderful experience for all, on a journey through the Snowdonia National Park.

The Rev William Awdry, an early volunteer guard, best known for his stories of the tank engine called Thomas: 2011 is the centenary of his birth.

Tom Rolt's book "Railway Adventure" refers to the Talyllyn Railway's early years. Also have a look at the railway's web site for more details:

Angela Rose

Ken and Margaret Froud leaving NB Duorf

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Ken and Margaret have been living the "Good Life" for 31 very happy years at the Engine Arm on the Napton flight.

They made this very hard decision recently, due to this long and hard winter. Margaret had breathing difficulties and had to call out the emergency services, not good when you have to cross the top gate of a lock to get to the ambulance.

Ken and Margaret are now having a shopping spree, to buy a new cooker, fridge, washing machine as everything on the boat is 12 volt. Plus they need a new bed!

They are setting up home in Southam, new address to follow.

On behalf of all our members we wish them Good Luck and lots of laughs in their Twilight years.

Eric and Sue Lewis, Terry and Ann Phippard and ourselves will miss our chats and the cup of tea, as we walk pass their boat to our own moorings on the Engine Arm.

Alan and Angela Rose

Government responds to 'Protect Our Canals' petition

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The government has finally replied to the 'Protect Our Canals' petition on the No.10 e-petition website of over a year ago, with a statement issued today.

The new 'charitable model' for British Waterways was announced last October, with full transition to the new charitable organisation by April 2012, with a longer term guaranteed funding model. Today's statement confirms not only the transfer of BW's existing property portfolio, but an annual fixed grant giving support at the preannounced 2014/15 level (£39 million) through to 2022/23 - a much longer timescale than previously hinted.

This long-term fixed commitment is something BW has long requested, to allow it to plan more comprehensively for the future.

The official statement concludes:

"The Government will give the new charity the best start it can afford, with the transfer of the property portfolio and a long term contract. As a first step, the Government has provided a new long term commitment to a grant allocation at the 2014/15 level (£39m) to 2022/23 inclusive (covering the next two Spending Review periods) that will enable the development of a funding plan which gives confidence to the incoming Trustees of the new charity. The amount and length of the contract will be subject to negotiation with the Trustees, who will be appointed this April."

The petition wording was "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to protect our canals by not selling off property owned by British Waterways." This petition attracted 22,310 signatures. and

Summer Boat Trip

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The SCS outing this year will be a sea cruise from Gosport to the Beaulieu River and Bucklers Hard on Tuesday 19 July, returning along the north shore of the Isle of Wight and ending with a trip round Portsmouth Harbour.

The cost will be £20 which includes a ploughman's or jacket potato lunch (we are no longer able to eat our own food on board). The trip leaves at 11.30am and returns at 4.30pm.

Will interested parties please give Maureen Greenham your names at the next meeting or by phone on 02380406951 or email to

Maureen Greenham

Last ditch effort to save steamship

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SS Shieldhall

A LAST minute appeal has been launched to save one of the country's most important historic steam ships that is struggling for survival.

Budget cuts mean that grants are no longer routinely available to pay for maintenance work on heritage ships.

Since the historic SS Shieldhall, launched an emergency appeal last month to save her from the scrap yard £20,000 has been raised but an additional £60,000 is now urgently required.

Without an essential 'MOT' in May the steam ship will be refused a licence to sail, and could be broken up.

Captain Peter Roberts, Master of the SS Shieldhall, said: "There are no longer grants available to help us keep the Shieldhall afloat. Our financial reserves have already been hit by the huge rise in fuel costs and if we lose our licence to sail, then we've already carried our last fare-paying passenger."

The SS Shieldhall, based at the Port of Southampton, is the largest remaining sea-going steamship in the UK and the last fully operational coastal passenger/cargo steamer in Europe.

She's one of a small number of vessels recognised by the UK's ship 'listing' body, known as the National Historic Ships Unit, and was named their 'Flagship' in 2009.

She is recognised as being of significant national importance and operates as a heritage attraction. All vessels 'listed' are considered a high priority for preservation, but unlike historic buildings, the UK's heritage ships aren't guaranteed financial support.

By way of comparison, English Heritage is planning to spend over £11million on properly maintenance this year and The National Trust recently spent over £166million on routine property running costs, according to the last available figures.

Maritime historians fear that if the money can't be found to get the SS Shieldhall through her May inspection, she will suffer the same fate as the Mersey-based MV Wincham, which was scrapped in April 2009 for want of £60,000 dry-dock costs.

In October 2010, the Grimsby paddle steamer, Lincoln Castle, was also broken up after a failed rescue attempt by enthusiasts.

The ship is crewed by fully qualified but unpaid volunteers and relies solely upon revenue from fares and donations for survival.

Over the past 18 years, approximately 25,000 passengers have enjoyed supervised access to SS Shieldhall's bridge, engine and boiler rooms.

To donate or for membership go to or

"All at Sea", February 2011

Thanks go to Laurie Pearce to spotting this article and sending it for publication here. Although this is not an item related to the waterways, it is of local (and national) interest and it would also be criminal for the Shieldhall to be scrapped.

2011/2012 Subscriptions

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Just to remind all members that we are coming to that time of the year again when we pay our annual subscriptions. At the 2010 AGM it was agreed that, with effect from 1 April this year, the subscriptions should be:-

I will be pleased to receive payments from the March meeting onwards.

Many thanks,

Gill Herbert

Gill's contact details may be found on this page.

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

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2011. 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 15 March 2011 - archived 18 April 2011.

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