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Issue 494 - March 2014

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Chairman’s Column

 
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March Meeting

This evening we offer a very warm welcome to Stuart Fisher, editor of the Canoeist Magazine.

Sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet of drifting by canoe searching out the “Elusive Canals & Navigations” the waterways you cannot reach easily from the main system by narrowboat.

NOTE: The venue changed for this meeting to

ST DENYS’ CHURCH HALL, OLD CHILWORTH VILLAGE, SO16 7NN

From our usual venue, follow the A27 towards North Baddesley and Romsey. Ignore the left turn into Chilworth Manor and the Southampton Science Park.

About 350 yards further on, turn left into a road with signs saying Chilworth Old Village. Very shortly you should see St Denys’ Church on your left. The church hall is just past the church in Fowler’s Walk on your left. Parking should be possible there or in the immediate vicinity. Please do not block the narrow lane.

April Meeting

This is another joint meeting with IWA Guildford & Reading Branch on 3rd April.

Peter Boyce will be talking about “The Restoration of Wooden Narrowboats” to include the work currently being carried out on James Loader, Clent and an update on Lucy. Friends and visitors welcome, as they are at all of our meetings. Please support this evening.

Proposed Boat Gathering

An informal gathering for boaters in the Napton / Braunston area has been suggested to be held over the first May bank holiday weekend 3rd/5 th May.

This is not an organised event, just a small number of boat owners joining up for a casual get-together. If any members in the area would like to join in, could they please contact me as soon as possible.

February Meeting

Thank you to Paul Herbert and the Committee for welcoming Geoff Watts to the meeting. Afterwards, we received this email:

At the next SCS Meeting would you please give my very grateful thanks for the reception for my Titanic talk and the donation from Gill yesterday evening. The donation will be added to other donations from my talks and used to benefit local charities.

Many thanks one again for the invitation and donation.

Best wishes Geoff.

Geoff also sent a list of his other talks for us to consider.

Alan Rose


Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society

 
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Recently, your editor received the following email which is self explanatory:

Dear Peter,

A few years ago when I was still a member of SCS I did a talk [in April 2006] on the Royal Naval Cordite Factory, Holton Heath. Since then we have filmed a 110 minute DVD and we also have a cut down 45 minute version. On June 2nd I am bringing this version with some talk to the Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society who meet at the Underhill Centre, St John the Evangelist Church, St John’s Road, Hedge End. (start at 7.45pm).

You might like to include it in your newsletter if anyone is interested.

Regards to all

Bob Dukes


National Flood Appeal launched

 
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The Canal & River Trust (CRT) are appealing to friends and supporters for help in coping with the continuing extreme weather that is causing major challenges right across its 2,000 miles of waterways.

Vince Moran, Canal & River Trust operations director, said “We are appealing for your support which will help us fund the immediate and longer-term repairs that will be necessary to bring our towpaths and waterways back into use as quickly as possible. Every penny you give will be spent directly and entirely on repairing and protecting flood affected waterways.”

Further details about damage to the waterways system and the National Flood Appeal can be found on the CRT website: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk


February Meeting

The Titanic

 
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RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912

At our last meeting a large number of members and visitors enjoyed a fascinating talk on the aftermath of the Titanic sinking by Geoff Watts, a Southampton Tourist Guide. This brief write-up can only skim the surface of Geoff's account of the disaster and what followed.

Whilst we all know the sad story of the Titanic's maiden journey and its sinking, Geoff's presentation concentrated on the widespread social and economic problems and deprivation caused to the city and people of Southampton by the disaster. His presentation began with a brief history of the city from medieval trading to the arrival of the railway, Royal Mail and the development of the Eastern Docks. The White Star Company transferred from Liverpool and set up offices in Canute Road for their luxury passenger liners. In 1912 Titanic arrived in Southampton in preparation for her maiden cruise, recruiting a large number of local people for employment on the liner. At that time there was a national coal miners strike, but White Star Lines purloined coal from their other vessels in the docks in order for Titanic to sail. (Just think, if those other ships had not been present, or their coal stocks too low to complete the bunkering of Titanic, that ship couldn't have sailed and the disaster wouldn't have happened).

Early news of the tragedy of the vessel was very confused. One report said the Titanic was being towed, another said all were accounted for, whilst yet another mentioned rescue boats. Local people went to White Star Chambers in Canute Road and eventually saw lists of names on blackboards.

Geoff's illustrated talk showed the areas of Southampton where large numbers of crew members who were lost had lived. There were many families who had lost husbands, fathers, brothers and the situation of the widows was particularly desperate. There were no benefits in those days but various charity funds and the Workers Compensation Act provided a little financial support for the families of the drowned men. The majority of the provisions etc for the liner were supplied by Southampton firms and they suffered badly as a result of the tragedy.

The talk concluded with the Southampton locations of the various memorials erected by the trade bodies of the lost crew.

Gill Herbert


Further Closure on the Basingstoke Canal

 
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Storm damage at Dogmersfield

Many of you will be aware of the landslip at Dogmersfield that took place last Spring, which temporarily closed the Canal. After a difficult period, the navigation was thankfully reopened for much of the 2013 cruising season (though the towpath has had to remain closed), and it has remained open – that is, until last Monday (10 February). Almost inevitably, as a result of the torrential rain, the ground on both sides of the water has moved again (reactivating an old slip on the offside, left, and distorting the protective fence), with the result that trees now lay across the Canal and the channel has been severely narrowed. Naturally, the navigation has had to be closed for safety reasons, not least because several trees still standing on the slopes are at risk of falling. The Society’s work to cut and remove logs from the area has also had to be curtailed until further notice.

When the navigation will be open again is currently unknown. Phil Allen, Hampshire County countryside manager (who only recently returned to work following an illness) issued the following response to a question about the status of the landslip from Jan Peile, of the Galleon Marine operation in Odiham:

“Jon Green [head ranger], myself, and one of our engineers visited the site on Monday. There are around 6 medium sized trees across the upstream section of the slip, which have fallen as a result of a significant movement and extension of the offside slip. Both slips have moved, and the navigation channel is very much smaller, and with a tighter radius at the curve. I doubt if the JP2 could get through.

The dredger is currently clearing fallen trees upstream, and staff will make their way towards the slip to clear the fallen trees there. When this is done, our engineers will need to take another view on what we do next.”

The renewed closure is very disappointing. The Basingstoke CS has been working on plans to take the John Pinkerton II to Woking to showcase it and the Canal in July. We also want to take the old JP to the dry-dock at Deepcut, so it can be prepared for sale, including obtaining a boat safety certificate (as we now have several people who are seriously interested in buying it). We are now discussing how best we can proceed with the JP1 sale, and how to meet our commitments providing trips during Farnborough Airshow week, and in Woking. The situation will also be bad news for Galleon Marine and also the Accessible Boating operation, who have a boat stranded on the wrong side of the slip.

Phil Allen adds, “We will do what we can to enable boats to pass to avoid stranding. We’ll be in a better position to judge once the trees are removed and we can test the navigation.”

As more information comes to hand, the page shown below will be updated. The Basingstoke Canal Society will of course do all it can to assist with returning the Canal to full navigation.

http://www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk/ 14 February 2014

Updates to this notice will appear at http://www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk/headline/latest-dogmersfield-landslip-february-2014/


“Susan” and Six

 
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Continuing our story by John Silman about his introduction to the English canal system in 1963.

From Worcester Bar to Birmingham the scenery had been decidedly industrial but at least pleasing in some respects with its functional cast iron bridges and 18th and 19th century brick factory buildings. From Tipton onwards the surroundings became even more industrial and after some time we arrived at Wolverhampton top lock. Here we knew that the canal descended by 21 locks to the level of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. What we did not know was that these 21 were in one continuous flight. By 9pm we had reached the pound’ between locks 9 and 10 and having decided we had had enough for one day we three men left to sample the hospitality of the nearest pub.

Returning from here feeling a little better we were apprehended by the Lock-keeper who told us that we were likely to be awoken rudely at about 4am the following morning as we were moored right in the spot where two working boats would have to turn in order to enter the gas works cut. So now having become a little blasé about working locks we decided to move on to No.17 where we were assured the countryside began again. Moving forward into Lock 10 we dropped down to the level of the pound below and having opened the bottom gates of the lock Tony and I shouted at Tim “Off you go”. Unfortunately we had failed to notice in the darkness and drizzle which had commenced to fall that the bottom gates, due to bricks behind them, had not swung back into the recesses in the lock walls and Susan, steaming ahead, was brought to an abrupt halt by being too fat to pass through the only part open gates. Here was a pretty pickle; we could go neither ahead nor astern and were at the bottom of a very dark and gloomy lock. Then we suddenly remembered that part of Susan’s equipment consisted of 4 chains and bottle screws which could be stretched across the accommodation at strategic points along her length and when tightened acted as her ‘corset’.

Having put these on we could get back into the lock but still could not go forward. So bearing in mind we could not moor between locks 9 and 10 we perforce had to go astern to Lock 9 and up through it to pound 8. Unfortunately this particular pound commanded a very fine view - on the left a magnificent rubbish dump, on the right probably the biggest marshalling yards in the Midlands and straight ahead the local Gas Works. Charmed by this entrancing vista we finally went to bed. At 5.30aui the following morning I was awoken by the unusual angle at which our boat was lying, and having peered out through the hatch I was horrified to find that we were high and dry. Apparently during the night someone’s idea of fun had been to open the paddles on the lock below us and we appeared to be in imminent danger of rolling sideways into the thick mud and old tin cans left by the receding waters. Having asked, nay having begged, everyone to keep still I crept carefully ashore to try to mend the situation, but finally had to enlist the lock-keeper’s aid. Having assisted the lock-keeper to remove half a house from Lock 10 and the other half from Lock 15 we finally emerged at Aldersley Junction into reasonable countryside again. Turning to the right we soon came to Autherley Junction and a signpost at last reading Chester. Going through the stop lock at the entrance to the Shropshire Union Canal we spent a few minutes with Sam Lomas, the British Waterways representative, who duly admired our craft and extolled to us the virtues of the ‘Shroppie Cut’.

Soon we were admiring the cuttings and embankments of Telford’s finest Canal and moored the night at Wheaton Aston at a disused wharf conveniently near the village. On Tuesday we lunched at the tiny village of Gnosall (pronounced locally as Nawzall). That afternoon, being short of provisions - and working locks works up quite an appetite - we stopped to replenish our supplies at Knighton and all six of us, plus the dog, crowded into the tiny village shop-cum-post office which appeared to be in the dear lady proprietress’s front room. The size and magnificence of our order seemed to leave her somewhat shattered and she had to hastily calculate some obstruse formulae on pieces of paper before announcing dramatically that that would be £1 3s 0½d please.

The afternoon saw Susan firmly stuck in Lock No.3 of the Tyrley flight (due to last winter’s frost the lock walls had moved in slightly). We hurriedly laced the old lady’s corsets on again and were soon free to go. We moored the night at Market Drayton and went next day to see the weekly market. Tony and Tim wandered off and were found tasting all sorts of Cheshire cheese in the covered market and had to be practically dragged away.

Three miles frost Market Drayton we came to the Adderley Locks and after passing through the haunted Betton Coppice Cutting we stopped for tea just before Audlem No.1 lock, feeling that we would work the 15 locks better with something under our belts. Personally I think I enjoyed the working of locks as much as any part of the holiday as I always walked the towpath between locks preferring to prepare the locks rather than handle the boat. We finally stopped just beyond Lock No.12 and moored conveniently under the Bridge Inn (working locks is a thirsty job). This had been one of our best days for weather and we were treated to a magnificent blood red sunset which some of the crew tried to photograph through a slightly alcoholic haze, the resulting colour transparency being definitely on the shaky side.

To be concluded next month.


Membership Subscriptions Reminder

 
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Subscriptions for the year 2014/2015 are due on 1 April. This year the joint subscription is £27 and £16 for individuals. I would be happy to receive subscriptions at the next meeting. Many thanks.

Gill Herbert, Treasurer & Membership Secretary


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Page created 7 April 2014 - last updated 7 April 2014.

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