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Issue 360 - April 2002

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Chairman's Column

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The Newsletter

Another 'bumper' issue of the Newsletter for your consumption. Our Editor must be complimented for putting together such an interesting Newsletter each month. Well done Peter! We are also grateful to Laura's company, the hjs group, for continuing to sponsor the production and distribution costs.

Now.......how about other Society members doing their bit. Just the occasional article now and again on where you have been on your travels or, for boat owners, details of work or alterations/refurbishment you have carried out, and your methods.

Shy ... or cannot write an article? ... Don't worry. Just give us the details and we can prepare it for you. After all, that is how the biographies of the rich and famous/infamous are mostly done!

Refreshments Rota

Tea and biscuits

So far, nobody has volunteered to do the refreshments at our June and July meetings. One of our members has volunteered to cover four months as well as assist in other ways. So come on, please do your bit both for the Society and for your colleagues.


'Remus the Narrowboat & His First Adventure'

I am delighted to advise members that Sue Lewis's first children's book (though adults can read it as well) 'Remus the Narrowboat & His First Adventure' has now been published and is on sale on the Society's Sales Stand at £4.99.

Sue has kindly agreed to a contribution to the Society's funds from the sale of each book. Sue is working hard to distribute her book around the waterways network so hopefully you will see copies on your travels. It might be helpful if you could give Sue some feedback on where you see her book.

A full review will follow in the May Newsletter. In the meantime, come on now, buy yourself, your children or your grandchildren a copy (or three) and let us help to make this a 'best seller'.

Advertising in the Newsletter

This is something we have never tried before (or if we have, it must have been a very long time ago). So, if you have anything you would like to dispose of (other than at the Society's May Auction, of course) why not put a free advert in the Newsletter. All you have to do is to write out the details and send it to the Editor, Peter Oates.

2002 Annual General Meeting

As you will know from our published programme, this year's AGM is scheduled to be held on 6 June. However, it has been realised that there is potentially a problem with that date as it falls within the schools' Whitsun holidays - and your Chairman, Vice-Chairman/Treasurer and Secretary are all likely to be away cruising that week. I think you will agree with my decision that one cannot hold an AGM with all its officers absent. Therefore, at its next meeting the Committee will be considering a change of programme order. More details in the next Newsletter.

Society Auction - 9 May

Another gentle reminder to look out for items for our Society Auction on 9 May.

Proposed Crofton Trip

Crofton Beam Engines

We now have about twenty members who have shown interest in the proposed Society trip to Crofton. We will now start looking at possible dates and a programme. See the next Newsletter for further details.

There is still time to add your name to the list. Please see Ray on the Sales Stand or contact me.


Paul Herbert


March Meeting

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At our March meeting we were entertained by Society members, Ron and Myra Glover, whose talk was entitled 'Elsa leaves France on the Coal Canal and travels on the Rivers Saar, Moselle and Rhine to Holland'. Ron and Myra are no strangers to our programme having previously given us talks on their various exploits on the European waterways, including 'Paris to Switzerland' and 'The Ups and Downs of Belgian Waterways'. On this occasion they gave us an account of their 2001 European travels on board their 42' Dutch steel cruiser 'Elsa'. The journey took them through five different countries and on an amazing variety of waterways. Their expedition was not undertaken as one long cruise, but during the various school holidays last year.

They started on the Coal Canal in France which leads to Saarbrucken in Germany, joining the River Saar. Then through the attractive vine-covered hillsides of the Rivers Saar and Moselle where a detour was made into Luxemburg. Not many people can say they've been to Luxemburg by boat! It was then back along the Moselle to join the great River Rhine at Koblenz. 'Elsa' could only travel down the fast flowing Rhine through Germany passing through the towns of Bonn, Cologne and Dusseldorf. It was interesting to see slides of all the other waterway users from giant cargo vessels and passenger boats, to skiffs and canoes.

Holland was entered along the River Ijssel and firstly we were taken on an extensive tour of the eastern side of the country, travelling the small canals that pass through the towns and villages, over the large system of Friesland lakes, and along the main Princes Margriet Canal, the 'M1' of Holland.

Crossing the Ijsselmeer was an adventure. We saw how rough it can be in winter and how calm in summer. Now on the western side of Holland, the journey took us from the Naval port of Den Helder in the north through the tourist town of Amsterdam and out of Holland into Belgium.

To return to France meant travelling through the docks of Antwerp, quite an adventure for a 42' vessel, dwarfed by sea-going craft. We were taken on a trip of 1,432 metres up the Ronquieres slope which carries boats in a tank to the summit 68 metres above.

At Charleroi they passed through the centre of a vast steel works and we could just imagine the noise and filth involved with this industry - certainly not a place for stopping!

An interesting event occurred at the end of the trip when they were 'boarded' by a journalist who was writing an article encouraging people to use the River Sambre in Belgium. The article in 'Liberte' contained three photographs of 'Elsa' and her crew, together with an article telling readers about their exploits.

'Elsa' then headed her way back into France to moor awaiting the 2002 boating season.

Just a few 'extras' to this write-up.......

We also heard about mooring problems experienced in various locations on the rivers, where all the obvious places were reserved for the large trip boats. Then there were the automatic locks which opened mysteriously as they approached, with no sign of anybody doing the work, and also those remote controlled locks which the boat crews operated themselves, using a hand control. Then there was the interesting situation at the junction of the Rivers Saar and Moselle which is located on the borders of Germany, France and Luxemburg - which courtesy flag to fly? Solution - 'Elsa' flew all three!!!

Then there were the stories about mooring up (by accident!) amongst 'Nudist Colony' boats on a lake; their visit to an Ice Cream boat, where they gratefully re-stocked their freezer; seeing many remaining traditional boats and we saw slides of many of these beautiful craft under full sail; and not seeing a single tulip in Holland, despite it being Easter!!!

I cannot finish this write-up without referring to Ron & Myra's mode of transport from the UK to wherever there boat is moored at a particular time. They used to travel by car but then there was always the problem of having to travel back to collect the car from wherever they had left 'Elsa' at the end of a cruise. They have solved that problem and now use a motorbike, upon which they manage to stow themselves and all their gear. We then saw what happens when they arrive at 'Elsa'. Ron has cleverly constructed/adapted a demountable hoist which is used to lift the bike onto its cradle on the foredeck, and then dismantled and stowed below. A brilliant solution and as Ron said, done very cheaply compared with the cost of a purpose-made piece of marine equipment.

Thanks to Ron and Myra for sharing with us your extensive travels through Europe last year and for an entertaining evening. We will all look forward to your next talk on your future travels.

Paul Herbert


The I.W.A. 24-Hour B.C.N. Challenge Cruise

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Held on the weekend nearest to the longest day, this annual event, now in its 10th year will be held on Saturday and Sunday 22nd and 23rd of June.

The challenge, organised by Chris and Helen Davey and ably assisted by a small band of scrutineers, commences precisely at 9:00 am from a choice of venues, Smethwick (Engine Arm Junction with the Old Main Line, or below the Engine Arm on the New Main Line), Wolverhampton Top Lock, Windmill End or Gas Street Basin.

BCN Challenge logo

The aims of the challenge are to increase awareness and use of the remaining 100 miles of the Birmingham Canal Navigations and to prove beyond all doubt that people do care about these waterways and are prepared to cruise, if at all possible, every available arm, loop and basin as well as the more popular through routes. The I.W.A. statement some years ago, "Cruise it or lose it" still applies. Rarely used sections of the B.C.N. system can still fall prey to the developers, the Ridgacre Branch being the latest example.

The duration of the cruise is any 24 hours between the start time and 3:00 pm on the following day, allowing 6 hours rest which can be taken at the boaters' discretion. The preferred finishing point is Gas Street Basin. During this time participants gain 'points' for the miles cruised and locks worked, bonus points being awarded for particularly difficult or rarely cruised parts of the system. The boat crew gaining the highest number of points and being able to prove it in the form of a timed log book backed up with photographic evidence will be deemed to be the winners.

The B.C.N. has gained the reputation of being inhospitable, rubbish strewn, hemmed in by derelict, industrial buildings and cursed by vandalism, but the newcomers to the B.C.N. Challenge have been quick to discover that this situation is now largely in the past. The Black Country Canals are being transformed. Many of the derelict areas are now regenerated for commercial or leisure use including locations such as Old Turn Junction, Gas Street Basin and the Merry Hill Complex. There has been much landscaping of disused mining areas especially on the northern B.C.N. and various canal side buildings are being restored. The 'remainder' status, however, of much of the British Waterways operated B.C.N. means that only minimal funds can be spent on maintenance. Only by making the public and general boating enthusiasts more aware of the delights of these waterways will they become more heavily used, thus increasing pressure on Government and Local Authorities to improve this unparalleled amenity in the very heart of England.

My experience of participating in the challenge illustrated to me the fine efforts of the I.W.A., the B.C.N. Society and others. I encourage all boaters to explore the B.C.N.

Boaters wishing to participate in the challenge should contact Chris and Helen Davey (Tel : 01730 814670) for details.

Eric Lewis


SOUTHAMPTON CANAL SOCIETY BOAT RALLY/GATHERING

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From current reckoning it looks as if seven members' boats will be attending the Society's first Boat Rally/Gathering in the Napton area over the Bank Holiday weekend 4-6 May. This is an excellent response from the nine boats moored at Napton. The crews of the other two boats have prior booked commitments so will not be able to join us this year.

The provisional programme for the weekend is for the boats to gather on Saturday alongside the towing path north of Bridge 19, at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal. That evening there will be a Barbecue and 'fun & games' (whatever that means???). There could be music....there could be colourful lights....there could be a quiz....there could even be fireworks....who knows? It is proposed to gather together for lunch on Sunday (eating up Saturday night's left-overs???) (or a visit to the nearby 'Boat' for a jar or three) and then those who want to can do their own thing for the rest of the weekend. One suggestion is for some of the boats to cruise in convoy to Braunston or Hillmorton. We can play it as it comes, according to the weather and people's wishes etc.

This event is not solely for boat owners - all members of the Society are invited to attend. Either one can 'cadge' a berth on one of the boats attending or drive up to Stockton for the Saturday Gathering and Barbecue. We would love to see as many Society members as possible.

For further details of this first Society Boat Rally/Gathering, including directions to the site, please contact me by 'phone or e-mail (details elsewhere in this Newsletter).

Paul Herbert


SCS MEMBERS' BOAT REGISTER

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It will be remembered that in the August 2001 Newsletter it was proposed to publish a simple 'register' listing brief details of boats owned by Society members, who were invited to put forward their details for inclusion, if they so wished.

This has been a very successful initiative and sixteen entries have been received from the following Society members:-

In addition to the owners names, the register will include the name and a brief description of their boat and its mooring location.

The register will be published in a suitable easy-to-read format. If there are any other Society boat owners who would like to have their details included, please contact me by the end of April, at the latest.

Paul Herbert


CUTWEB NAPTON BOAT GATHERING

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Cutweb logo

Cutweb Internet Boating Club, as its name indicates, is a 'Virtual Reality' Boat Club. From 20-22 September they will be organising their Napton Boat Gathering at Holt Farm, Napton Top Lock (which happens to be the mooring location for three of our Society members).

On the Friday evening there will be a general get-together, followed by a Bar-B-Q Saturday afternoon and musical entertainment in the marquee by 'Meet on the Ledge' on Saturday evening. On Sunday there is a varied programme including a Boaters' Auction, Boaters' Games and a Quiz.

Entry to the rally will be £12 per boat or £10 if booked before 31 July. A plaque will be available at £5.

This is (we think) the 3rd CIBC Boat Gathering and from the accounts of some Society members who are either Cutweb members or have attended previous events, this is a most enjoyable weekend. I know of three Society boat crews who haven't attended before who are hopeful of going this year.

You can access the CIBC rally website at http://www.cutweb.org.uk/rally.htm and this shows photographs of previous gatherings. For further details of the rally contact:

Mike Wooding, 5 Ware Orchard, Barby, Nr. Rugby, CV23 8UF Tel: 01788 890365 e-mail at: rally@draco.org.uk

Paul Herbert


From BW's waterfront magazine Spring/Summer 2002

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BAPS

Although waterways are man-made they provide a great range of natural environments that are inhabited by a huge number of plant and animal species. Waterways, hedgerows, towpaths and even built structures are home to bats, snakes, otters and sponges to name a few!

BW produces BAPs or Biodiversity Action Plans - which are basically plans to look after waterways wildlife and their habitats. For a leaflet explaining BAPs and a postcard please contact the BW customer service centre on 01923 201120 or email enquiries.hq@britishwaterways.co.uk

SAVOUR A MOMENT IN TIME...

Believe it or not promotional films about inland waterways were being produced as early as the 1930's. BW has just re-released a collection of historical films capturing the unique waterway atmosphere from days gone by.

Five VHS videos entitled Waterways our Heritage, Inland Waterways, Broad Waterways, Take to the Boats and Gentle Highway, each comprising of two or more films, are available at £14.95 each (plus £2 p&p) from the BW Customer Service Centre by phoning 01923 201120 or emailing enquiries.hq@britishwaterways.co.uk

BLUE IS THE NEW GREEN!

Black, royal blue and white have replaced the green workwear we are used to seeing on the canal bank. BW has introduced the new uniform after extensive consultation with staff and users about colour and the quality of the garments. The new workwear uniforms were introduced in February 2002.

EXTENDED OPENING HOURS FOR BW CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTRE

Extended opening hours for the restructured BW Customer Service Centre have been introduced to include weekday evenings and Saturday mornings. The new opening times are part of a series of moves to improve the services available to boaters and other waterway visitors looking for information on the inland waterways.

The new BW Customer Service Centre combines the expertise of the Customer Service and Craft Licensing teams, providing a one-stop shop for all enquiries about using or visiting the inland waterways.

For information about the inland waterways there is also the revamped BW website at www.britishwaterways.co.uk, which provides a fun, interactive resource, including a state-of the-art mapping facility. In addition, BW staff in waterway offices throughout England, Scotland and Wales are able to help with local waterway enquiries.

Out of hours, BW continues to provide a 24-hour emergency freephone service on 0800 47 999 47. You can no longer dial 100 and ask for freephone canals, however this direct dial number is now also free for mobile users.

The BW Customer Service Centre can be contacted 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays, by telephone on 01923 201120, by fax on 01923 201304 or by email: enquiries.hq@britishwateways.co.uk. The service is closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Heritage Open Days 2002

Would you like to be part of England's biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event? Heritage Open Days is run by the Civic Trust and takes place this year from 13-16 September. The event is a celebration of architecture, local history and culture, offering free public access to a huge range of historic and contemporary buildings across England including sites on the waterways.

To receive more information, contact The Civic Trust, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AW, or visit their website www.heritageopendays.org or call 020 7930 9294.

Screen saver

Download the free BW screen saver by clicking on www.britishwaterways.co.uk/screensaver and transport yourself from your screen to scenes from the canal, complete with rippling water effect.


CONTACTING THE EDITOR

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The editor has recently changed his Internet Service Provider (ISP) and as a result has changed his email address to peter.oates@btopenworld.com Whilst his older email address will still be available for a bit longer, would all members please try to use the newer one. For the time being, the Society's website will remain on the old address but, time allowing, it is hoped to move it within the next couple of months.

Peter Oates


SALISBURY GROUP BOAT TRIP

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The IWA Avon and Wilts Branch's Salisbury Group's next 'meeting' will be a boat trip around Christchurch Harbour on Saturday 18 May. The vessel will hold up to 70 people so the Salisbury Group has invited Southampton Canal Society members to join them on this cruise, if anyone would like to join them.

Details are as follows: Meet at 10.30am at Mudeford Quay. The duration of the trip is 1.5 hours around Christchurch Harbour and out towards Boscombe Pier. The cost of the boat trip is £5. After the excursion people may wish to partake in a Pub lunch and possibly visit a nearby Nature Reserve in the afternoon.

For details/bookings - please see Jon Van de Geer at our Society's April meeting or 'phone Jon on 01722 412841.


NEWS FROM THE SALES STAND

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'Remus the Narrowboat & His First Adventure'

Copies of Sue Lewis's book are now on sale, priced £4.99

GEOprojects Maps

We now have in stock a limited supply of GEOprojects map of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, which includes the Droitwich Canals. The map retails at £4.00.

Society Polo Shirts

It has been decided to resurrect the idea of producing Society Polo Shirts so the supplier of our T-shirts and sweat shirts, Jancraft, has been asked for colour samples and costings. More details in the next Newsletter.


MONTGOMERY CANAL

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Recently, our President, Brian Evans wrote a letter to the Transport Directorate of the Welsh Assembly objecting to plans to build a roundabout over the course of the Montgomery Canal thereby making restoration very difficult and expensive. Brian received the following reply:

Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru
The National Assembly for Wales
Y Gyfarwyddiaeth Drafnidiaeth
Transport Directorate
Parc Cathays / Cathays Park
Caerdydd / Cardiff
CF10 3NQ

7 February 2002

Dear Sir

THE SWANSEA-MANCHESTER TRUNK ROAD (A483) (MAERDY BRIDGE JUNCTION IMPROVEMENT, SIDE ROADS) ORDER 200-

I refer to your letter of 7 January 2002 objecting to the above named draft Order.

A large amount of public concern has been expressed about the possible effects of the proposed roundabout on the viability of the future of the nearby Montgomery Canal. The scheme would not have prejudiced restoration in line with the British Waterways' 1987 Act of Parliament, which gave them powers to restore the canal within defined limits. However, British Waterways have very recently expressed doubts that they can carry out the restoration in line with the 1987 Act of Parliament because of the Canal's designation as an SSSI and Special Area for Conservation. The canal was designated because of its internationally rare population of Luronium Natans (Floating Water Plantain), for whose conservation British Waterways is the lead UK partner. British Waterways will therefore have to reconsider how to restore the canal and will need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment on their proposals.

In order to avoid constraining British Waterways options, I announced on the 31st January that the Welsh Assembly Government has decided not to proceed at this time with its proposed roundabout junction improvement. A copy of the press release is attached.

Because a need remains to address the accident problem at the junction with the B4393, we now intend to carry out a far more minor improvement at that junction. It is anticipated that this will improve safety in the short term until British Waterways have identified and implemented a safe and environmentally acceptable canal restoration. At that time the junction can be reconsidered in the light of the performance of the works now proposed.

The Welsh Assembly Government will co-operate with British Waterways and provide appropriate advice to help them achieve their objectives.

Yours faithfully

Mrs H Burr
Roads Administration Division 3

As the letter states, many objections were sent to Cardiff about the proposals. The outcome shows that, if enough people voice concern, a satisfactory result can be achieved and every little bit helps.


MIKRON GET ALL STEAMED UP!

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Trevithick's Portable Steam Engine

The Mikron Theatre group is forsaking its narrow boat and visiting the West Country in April/May. All Steamed Up - the Adventures of Richard Trevithick, the Cornish Giant of Steam will be premiered at Trevithick Day in Camborne on Saturday 27 April and then tours to venues in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset until 18 May. Catch these tour dates and more information about Mikron's 31st National Waterways Tour on www.mikron.org.uk or call 01484 843701


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

© Southampton Canal Society 2002 - 2003. 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 12 May 2002. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 13 December 2003.

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