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Issue 350 - April 2001

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On Thursday, 26th April 2001, Southampton Canal Society will again be host to the Day-Star Theatre Company. They will be presenting the first public performance of their new play for this year.

2001 sees Day-Star's 20th annual Waterways Tour. Watching a Day-Star performance is to experience a unique style of theatre often performed in whatever available space there is in canal side pubs or at festivals. With a few props, a little costume and your imaginations they will take you, the hall and anything else that gets in the way on a very unusual theatrical journey.

The Play

A rural village in Middle England. A canal climbs down a flight of locks to the wharf and pub before continuing on it's way across an embankment. Below the embankment lie the village allotments and the new executive houses. Along the main street can be found a church with a steeple, a general store and post office and an occasional bus service. All in all, Sandy Edge is a pleasant over night stop for the holiday boater.

Stay a bit longer and you might meet the locals. There is the old gardener with pathological weed and insect killing tendencies. There is the self righteous chairman of the Parish Council who owns the shop. There is the vodka drinking, wickedly mischievous Freda from the Old Vicarage. So when Josie Collins and her two boys decide to tie up their narrow boat in the 'long pound' and make Sandy Edge their home for a while they soon meet the locals and they soon get to hear about the war time legend of the hero of Sandy Edge Wharf.

This is the story of a rural village and the influence of the canal that runs through it. It is also a story of pride and prejudice, romance and heroism......... and its all built on sand ......

The performers probably need no introductions, but here they are anyway:

Jane Marshall

Co-founder of Day-Star. She has appeared in the film Robin Hood and on T.V. in Brookside. Jane also paints and runs courses on traditional canal painting. A country girl at heart and mad about horses. She also plays the fiddle.

Duffy Marshall

Co-founder of Day-Star and writer of all Day-Star plays, songs and music. He has appeared on T.V. in Watching, Coronation Street, Medics, Children's Ward and Brookside. He knows nothing about horses and prefers to sing songs in pubs. 'Duffy' is his mum's maiden name, his real name being Pete.

They moved on board an old wooden narrow boat called Day-Star in 1977 and by 1982 they were a touring theatre company. They now live and tour on The Angry Bull and are based at The Old Stables at Audlem on the Shropshire Union when not touring. Other hobbies include watching fishermen and laughing.

So having whetted your appetite - do not delay - this all happens in just 3 weeks time. Tickets at the low cost of only £3.00 (which includes our traditional light refreshments after) are available now from Peter Oates. Address, phone number and email are given on the back page. Don't forget that this was our 'May' meeting that was rearranged before Mr Blair decided to mess up the Society's plans.

March Meeting

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During the first half of the meeting our speaker, Alan Palmer of 'The Friends of Raymond', gave us a talk on the history of this narrow boat.

It was the last working narrow boat to be constructed of timber and was built for Samuel Barlow at Braunston in 1958. Raymond was built in 4 months by four full-time workmen plus some part-timers, cost £1200 and was built of English timber, mostly grown in Northamptonshire.

Paired with a motor boat called 'Roger', they were crewed by Arthur and Rose Bray and Ernie Kendal. They spent most of their time carrying coal from Atherstone to Southall. In 1962 the boats passed to Blue Line, owned by Michael Streat, along with two other pairs, and the carrying continued until 1970.

The Brays and Ernie then bought the pair of boats to live on.

In 1981 'Raymond' was sold to the Collins who lived on her until 1990 when she began to sink.

She then passed to the Wooden Canal Craft Trust but no repairs were done. In 1995 'The Friends of Raymond' was formed and after fund raising the boat was finally towed to a dry dock at the top of the Tardebigge flight on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, where Phil Babb, assisted by Richard Clapham, began work to rescue it.

After our tea break, we watched a video recording of the restoration work. Well it was more of a rebuild since there was very little original timber that was not rotten. All the iron work was, however, usable.

Although a narrow boat looks of a relatively simple shape when sitting in the water, most members were surprised just how complicated the construction was with so many pieces of timber formed by saw or in the steam chest. Phil Babb and Richard Clapham are to be congratulated on the beautiful woodwork that they put into the 'new' Raymond, and also Alan Palmer for the work he did in helping to get the project started and with fundraising.

Our thanks to Alan for bringing this interesting programme to our meeting.

Brian Evans


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Full-length locks on the Millennium Ribble Link, the new waterway that will connect the Lancaster Canal to the main inland navigation system, are now set to be constructed.

The funding for the locks was assured today with the news that the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has guaranteed a total of £45,000. This will be matched by The Waterways Trust, the owner of the new canal. A total of £90,000 was needed to enable all the locks on the Link to be built to pass the standard full-length narrow boat of 72 feet (22m), rather than the 62 feet (18.9m) length which the budget allowed. This is consistent with the standards of the Lancaster Canal. Navigation of the Link by full-length narrow boats will however require special supervision and manoeuvring where the channel is constrained by the road and rail crossings at Tom Benson Way. British Waterways who will manage the new Link will, if necessary, provide manpower to help full-length craft navigate this pinch-point.

In February 2001, IWA took the initiative to raise extra funds by pledging £20,000 towards the estimated £90,000 required to build full-length locks, and The Waterways Trust offered to match any funds raised by the Association £ for £. The Association called on other organisations with an interest in boating to make contributions to finance the shortfall. The deadline for the decision on constructing the full-length locks was the end of March 2001. Funds raised so far have left a shortfall to be underwritten by IWA at just over an additional £22,000, i.e. around £42,000 in all.

IWA have given their guarantee at this stage so that work can proceed, but their appeal for funds will now remain open.

IWA National Chairman, Richard Drake, said "IWA is delighted that the scheme to build full-length locks on the Millennium Ribble Link will now definitely go ahead. Raising the additional funding has been a real challenge, given the very short timescale involved, and we are delighted that The Waterways Trust has offered to match all monies raised through IWA's efforts.

"Constructing full-length locks at this stage is much cheaper than lengthening existing locks at a later date, and, importantly, the scheme will allow full-length narrow boats to use the Link when it opens. We would stress that it is not too late for other organisations to contribute funds to the scheme and would encourage them to do so."

Roger Hanbury, Chief Executive of The Waterways Trust, said "I am delighted that The Waterways Trust has been able to extend its financial commitment to this worthwhile scheme in partnership with the IWA. This is an important development for narrow boat owners that will improve access to the Lancaster Canal, soon to become an integral part of the UK waterway network. I applaud the IWA for their initiative and all those who have already made generous contributions to the appeal. I hope that boat clubs and canal societies as well as individuals will be able to make further contributions to the IWA, thereby releasing some of their funds for other waterway causes".

The original 1792 plans for the Lancaster Canal intended it to be constructed from Wigan to Kendal with aqueducts over the rivers Lune and Ribble. The sections from Wigan to Walton summit (near Preston) and from Preston to Kendal (including the Lune aqueduct) were eventually built but then the money ran out. The southern length from Wigan to Whittle-le-Woods became part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and from Whittle-le-Woods to Walton Summit, a branch of that canal. A horse-drawn tramway connected the canal from Preston to Walton Summit, but the intended Ribble aqueduct was never built. The tramway was closed in 1879 and the Lancaster Canal has been isolated since then. The northern part of the Lancaster Canal, above Tewitfield was closed in 1955 and the M6 motorway subsequently blocked the canal line; this section of the canal is the subject of separate restoration proposals.

The Millennium Ribble Link will provide an alternative route for a link to the national system via the Rufford Arm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Ribble Estuary. The project has been made possible by a partnership between The Waterways Trust, Lancashire County Council, the Ribble Link Trust, British Waterways and a grant of £2.7 million from the Millennium Commission. The Waterways Trust has contracted British Waterways to supervise the construction and subsequent management of the link.

Funding raised for the locks so far includes: £1,000 pledged by the Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club, £500 donated by DBA - The Barge Association, and £500 offered by IWA North Lancs and Cumbria Branch.

Joint Press Release from IWA and Waterways Trust, 20 March 2001


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Below is a transcription of a printed letter that was discovered some years ago behind some panelling at the Shoe Inn, Plaitford on the Southampton to Salisbury road. This was rather appropriate as the letter was addressed from this very establishment nearly 197 years ago!

This letter forms the last, rather desperate plea to the shareholders by the Company's clerk, Thomas Ridding, to advance more money to complete the ailing canal. The canal had had little work done on it for about a year as a result of a lack of funds.

Indeed, on the same day that this letter was written, George Jones, who was the resident engineer, issued a writ against the company for his salary. As the company was unwilling to defend the action, judgement went against it by default and during July and August the sheriffs of Southampton and Wiltshire seized sections of the canal within their jurisdictions.

The company struggled to keep the entire canal open and it appears that barges continued to use the ruinous waterway until about 1809-10.

Our thanks go to Mr Eric Kemish of West Wellow who recently forwarded a photocopy of the original letter to Brian Evans.


                                                             SHOE INN, PLAITFORD, JUNE 14, 1804.
                  THE SOUTHAMPTON and SALISBURY CANAL is now navigable
from the West End of the Tunnel near Southampton, to the East End of Alderbury
Common, and would be to Northam (the great Depot for Coals) but for an accidental
Interruption in the Tunnel.

          The Committee have been enabled to compleat the Navigation thus far, by the
liberal Assistance of the Treasurers and others,who now withhold further Aid, until their
present Claims are put in a State of Liquidation. The Committee therefore recom-
mend to the Serious Consideration of the Proprietors, How the Work is to proceed to
its Place of Destination at Salisbury, without which, it cannot be rendered either ser-
viceable to the public, or advantageous to the several Persons interested in its Success.

          The Total Debts owing by the Company, including the several Sums due, to the
Treasurers and others for Money advanced, to the Land Owners and Holders of
Mortgage Bonds and for other Claims, amount to the Sum of £25000, or thereabouts
________________thus circumstanced the Committee are under the pressing Necessity of
making this their last Appeal to the whole Body of Proprietors, they say last Appeal,
for to sink or swim appears to be the only Alternative at the present Juncture. The
Committee flatter themselves however, from this true Representation of the Business,
that the Proprietors will not hazard losing what they have already advanced, rather than
subscribe a few Pounds more per Share, which would doubtless secure the Principal
and Interest on Mortgage, and probably restore their original Shares to their full Value.
If the Proprietors do not come forward according to the foregoing Proposition, there is
no other method of satisfying the simple Debt Collectors, and raising Money for the
Completion of the Canal, than by issuing Mortgage Bonds for those Purposes.

          It will then be absolutely necessary, that the Canal Lands and Premises should
be immediately taken Possession of by the Mortgage Holders, and be held by them till
their whole Principal and Interest be liquidated. This will most likely suspend the
Original Shares for One Hundred Years, if not totally annihilate them.

          The Annual General Meeting of the Company of Proprietors will be held at the
Dolphins Inn in Southampton, on Thursday the 28th Instant, between the Hours of
Eleven o'Clock in the Forenoon and One o'Clock in the Afternoon: and the Committee
beg every Proprietor will either attend personally at that Meeting, or communicate their
Intentions by Letter, (post paid) as Something decisive must then be done.

                                   I am, Sir,

                                              Your most obedient humble Servant,

                                                                                              THO. RIDDING, Clerk.
Skelton, Printer, No. 22, High Street, Southampton.]


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At its meeting on March 17th, the Council of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) discussed the issue of inland waterway closures following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.

Council supported the decision taken by British Waterways to act quickly to impose widespread restrictions as an emergency measure while the full implications of the situation were assessed.

Council noted that British Waterways has commissioned ADAS to rapidly assess the risk of re-opening individual waterways in liaison with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU).

Officers of the Association are in daily contact with British Waterways senior management and have encouraged the re-opening of waterways as quickly as can be responsibly permitted.

Council was particularly mindful of the impact of the closures on businesses that depend on the inland waterways for the bulk or all of their income. Many waterside businesses are already suffering severe financial losses as a result of the closures and if the restrictions continue their situation will rapidly worsen.

Council considered that it was inappropriate to consider the issue of licence refunds and compensation at this stage. It was mindful that British Waterways management is fully stretched in working for re-opening and that this is the current priority. Council will consider this aspect at its May meeting if appropriate.

IWA Press Release, 20 March 2001


Since the above press release, British Waterways have moved quite rapidly to reopen a large percentage of their network. Your editor, as someone who has only fairly recently acquired a narrow boat, has been suffering withdrawal symptoms from the boating drug after an enforced absence. As an observer at this distance from the canal network, they seem to have moved quickly to reopen around 90-95% of their waterway network to boaters, with most of the rest to follow.

In most urban centres waterways and towpaths have remained open to all users. However, towpaths on re-opened waterways running through rural areas will normally be open to boaters only, under special guidance. You may use the towpath during the course of your boating journey unless otherwise advised.

All British Waterways licence holders should have received detailed information on the precautionary procedures operating across the network as waterways re-open to boating. They have sent the same information to hire boat operators. One of the procedures that boaters have to follow involves disinfecting footwear whenever leaving or boarding their boat. Mooring is restricted in many areas and in a few places locks and moveable bridges are being operated by BW staff.

BW have asked ADAS to assist them in assessing the risks associated with re-opening, commercial off-line fisheries, popular visitor sites and then rural towpaths to walkers, cyclists, anglers and other visitors. ADAS will also advise on what precautions should be taken in these areas. The priority in this process will be to establish which stretches of towpath can be safely re-opened without posing a threat to livestock adjacent to the waterway. This will involve identifying access points off the towpath which lead across farmland with livestock present.

There are now are a number of reservoirs and fisheries that are re-opening to anglers and some towpaths have re-opened to general users

If you need more advice on any issues connected with the effect of the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak on the waterways, you can visit BW's website or call your local waterway office, or the Customer Services Team 01923 201120.

However, all this is not before most waterway businesses have suffered badly from loss of trade, something that is not going to recover as quickly as the canals re-open. Hire companies were not in a position to inform hirers whether the Easter holidays were still on until last week and many have suffered cancellations. Foreign hirers, who these days make up a not insubstantial percentage of the total, have been difficult to convince that they can now come here. Many seem to believe, particularly Americans, that coming here could be detrimental to their own health!

Peter Oates

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© Southampton Canal Society 2001 - 2004. 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 27 April 2001. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 11 January 2004.

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