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Issue 381 - April 2004

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Chairman's Column

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Skittles Evening

Another most enjoyable Society Skittles Evening was held at 'The Kings Head' in Hursley on Friday 12 March and, again, we had an excellent turnout. [Overall winner was Brenda Pomeroy with 44, Team 5 had the highest score with 199, and David Butcher received the booby prize!]

Many thanks to Angela Faull for organising the event and she has kindly offered to organise another Skittles Evening in the autumn.

3rd Society Boat Gathering

Further to the item in last month's Newsletter, I am now able and delighted to report that we are expecting a 100% turnout from the ten Society members' boats moored in the Napton area for the Society's third boat gathering to be held at Flecknoe and Braunston over the early May bank holiday weekend. In addition, there is a possibility of one or two other Society boats joining us. This will be our largest Boat Gathering ever - for further details see the item in the March Newsletter or contact me.

Proposed Society Outings

Further to the item in the last Newsletter concerning the possibility of organising one or two Society outings - a combined boat trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal followed by a Brewery Tour and/or a visit to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton. A number of people put down their names at the March meeting and if there is sufficient interest, we will investigate those ideas further. If you are interested, please put your name on the list available at our monthly meetings, or contact me direct.

Waterworld

I was speaking the other day to Ken and Margaret Froud, our live-aboard members from Napton. They confirmed that they have videoed the whole of the new series of 'Waterworld' which has just finished its run on Central/Carlton TV. If possible we will try and get a copy for the Society Library.

Brunel's Lost Bridge is Found

During Eric Lewis's presentation at our March meeting, there was reference to the recent discovery of Brunel's original 1838 iron bridge over the Grand Union Canal at Paddington, discovered during demolition works. The 'Daily Mail' of 4 March included an item regarding that discovery, and this has been reproduced in this Newsletter.

Paul Herbert


Wey & Arun Canal Trust

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IWA has announced that the winner of The Kenneth Goodwin Trophy for 2003 is The Wey & Arun Canal Trust. Vaughan Welch, chairman of IWA's Restoration Committee, is due to make the presentation of the Trophy immediately following the official opening of the Drungewick Slipway on Sunday 16th May. The award was made with particular recognition for the Trust's new aqueduct over the river Lox at Drungewick Lane, Loxwood in West Sussex. The aqueduct is the concluding phase of the three-part Drungewick Crossing, which joins the existing Loxwood Link of almost 13/4 miles and the Drungewick Pound of 1/2 mile to Drungewick Lock. The work was financed from a wide range of grants assembled by The Wey & Arun Canal Trust, including substantial funding from IWA.

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust has also, with the help of a grant from IWA, constructed two slipways at Drungewick. These will allow craft to enter and leave the canal from the winding hole just north of the aqueduct. One will allow larger boats to be hauled up for servicing, etc, and the other will provide access to the canal for small trailed boats.

The Kenneth Goodwin Trophy is determined annually by IWA's Council from a recommendation from Council's Restoration Committee and is made in recognition of progress on a waterway restoration scheme.

The Wey & Arun Canal comprises the Arun Navigation, opened in 1787, which gave trading vessels from the south coast access to Newbridge Wharf near Billingshurst, and the Wey and Arun Junction Canal, authorised in 1813, which extended the navigation from Newbridge up to Stonebridge Wharf south of Guildford on the Godalming portion of the river Wey. The canal was abandoned in 1871, largely due to competition from the railways.

The Wey & Arun Canal Society was formed in 1970 and was reformed in 1973 as a charitable Trust Company, the Wey & Arun Canal Trust Limited. The Trust aims to achieve the restoration, as a public amenity, of the navigable link between the rivers Wey and Arun, and so recreate the direct water link between London and the south coast. The Trust has reached agreement with landowners that restoration work may take place on over half the 23-mile total length. So far, 22 bridges have been reconstructed, nine locks restored, one aqueduct and many culverts rebuilt and several miles of canal bed cleared and dredged.

IWA HEAD OFFICE BULLETIN - April 2004 - Issue No 86


March Meeting

Eric & Sue Lewis with 'Around Britain by Canal in the 70s'

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An excellent turnout again for our March meeting to see a very interesting slide show presented by our worthy Society Secretary, Eric Lewis, ably assisted by wife, Sue. As the title suggested, all of the scenes were of the inland waterways during the early to mid 1970s.

On this occasion the slides were not Eric's own work but had been taken by the late Graham Capelin, a long term friend of Eric's and Sue's and a former member of our Society and of the St Pancras Cruising Club. Regrettably, Graham passed away in 1997.

With such a wealth of slides to comment on, it is hard to know where to begin my review. We started at the Old Limehouse Ship Lock, Regents Canal Dock and finished with a view of the railway swing bridge that used to cross the Sheepwash Channel linking the River Thames with the Oxford Canal. In between we travelled through the outskirts of London, up the Grand Union to Braunston where we turned up the North Oxford, arriving at Sutton Stop/Hawkesbury Junction. We than made for the Coventry basins. After a brief visit to the end of the Ashby Canal we visited the Trent & Mersey and the Peak Forest Canals before dropping down to Manchester and the Rochdale Canal.

We visited the Anderton Lift and the River Weaver and then moved to the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum before visiting Chester and the Dee Branch and then on up the Llangollen with a brief stop at the entrance to the derelict Montgomery Canal.

Later, after returning to the Shroppie Main Line we moved on to the Staffs and Worcs Canal and down to Stourport Basins. We then jumped to Napton Junction where we journeyed down the South Oxford Canal to the end of navigation at Oxford before dropping down through Isis (Louse) Lock to the Sheepwash Channel and the Thames.

Many thanks to Eric and Sue for sorting Graham's slides into such an evocative and entertaining show. For many Society members who have been cruising the inland waterways over many years, the slides certainly brought back memories of how things used to be!

Paul Herbert


Red Diesel

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The government Budget announcement on 17th March included an increase in the duty on rebated gas oil ('red diesel') and fuel oil of 2.42 pence per litre from the previous rate of 4.22 to 6.64 pence per litre. The Treasury announcement said that this was "to narrow the differential between these and the main road fuels and reduce the overall attractiveness of oils fraud. When combined with the ongoing impact of other measures under the UK oils strategy, this will assist Customs in achieving the aim of reducing the illicit oils market in England, Scotland and Wales to no more than 2 per cent in 2006."

As well, as the duty rate mentioned above, VAT is also charged. The VAT position for marine fuels is complex, but for most recreational craft it is currently charged at 5%, which adds another 1p to 2p per litre.

Prior to the budget, the duty on diesel for road fuels was 53.27 pence per litre, and VAT at the full rate of 17.5% added a further 11p to 12p to the price - the diesel on its own costing only about 13 pence per litre. The European directive 2003/96/EC, from which the UK has an exemption until the end of 2006, requires fuel for recreational craft to be subject to tax at 0.302 euros (about 21.2 pence) per litre, and to VAT at the full rate.

IWA HEAD OFFICE BULLETIN - April 2004 - Issue No 86


Daventry Canal

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Our member Margaret Froud sent your editor the following letter:

The enclosed caught my eye in the Daventry Express dated 26th February. It was at a meeting of Community Groups in the town.

We certainly hadn't heard anything about it.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at Flecknoe in May.

Daventry District Cllr Chris Over urged people not to get too concerned about ideas in the plan for a canal in the town.
The proposal to build a canal round the country park, along Eastern Way and end it in a basin near the town centre was one of the most discussed issues at the meeting.
Cllr Over said people were 'flogging the canal to death' and should focus on the wider issue of commenting on the more important overall sites.

Editor's comment: To reach a basin adjacent to Daventry Reservoir and near the town centre, the canal would have to rise some 40 or 45 feet (six or seven locks). It is not a proposal your editor has seen before. Thanks, Margaret, for the clipping.


Montgomery Canal

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British Waterways has published a consultation document The Montgomery Canal: A Sustainable Restoration covering its future plans for the canal and seeking comments. The proposals have been prepared from work undertaken over eighteen months to provide an overall framework for future restoration, and included conservation surveys, a rural regeneration study and consultation at local community events.

The published document is a final draft and includes a questionnaire for comments. There is a very short consultation period, with comments requested by 7th April. See page 13 for details of how to obtain a copy. Members of IWA's Restoration Committee have been involved in earlier stages of production of the report and, in association with members of IWA's Shrewsbury, District and North Wales Branch, are providing detailed comments to BW.

IWA HEAD OFFICE BULLETIN - April 2004 - Issue No 86


River Avon (Warwickshire)

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River Avon

Over the past thirty years, the Upper Avon Navigation Trust and other bodies have put forward proposals to create a navigable link between the Avon and the Grand Union Canal in the Warwick and Leamington Spa area - and consequently create a safe, tide- free, broad-beam link between the rivers Thames and Severn.

Map of River Avon between Warwick and Alveston

The relative technical ease with which this could be achieved has been dwarfed by political problems, mainly caused by well-organised opposition from local environmental and riparian interests who have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of boating. However, Warwickshire County Council is now reviewing the situation and the views of the public are being sought in a consultation exercise, which has an unfortunately short period for comment, closing on 12th April.

A number of pro-navigation interests - including IWA - are co-operating and coordinating their specific group responses. However, a wider range of individual responses would greatly assist, providing they are succinct, and submitted on a specific form, available along with some background notes from: ( Regeneration Projects - Avon Navigation, Planning Transport & Economic Strategy, PO Box 43, Shire Hall, Warwick CV34 4SX. All data can also be downloaded from the County Council's Internet site: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/Web/corporate/pages.nsf/Links/C1CD6CB6C13AAD6580256E450057C10E

The response form for written representations, along with further information and guidance on submitting a response to the consultation, is also available from IWA's Internet site at:

www.waterways.org.uk/branch_new/warwickshire/river_avon/background.htm

One point that respondents may wish to bear in mind is that the proposed link is seen within the county as being something of national significance, but of no real benefit to the county and its residents. In order for the project to gain local support, this view will need to be counteracted, along with perceptions that boaters are inconsiderate and do not care about the environment.

IWA HEAD OFFICE BULLETIN - April 2004 - Issue No 86


Stop Gates

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British Waterways has installed four sets of a new style of stop gates in the midlands. The gates comprise steel plates that normally lie in a recess on the canal bed. The gate rises when compressed air is pumped into a collapsed plastic cushion situated in the recess underneath the steel plate. The gate can be operated in about five minutes by a single person without any manual effort. The compressed air supply is contained in an underground chamber.

The gates, which have a life expectancy of about 30 years, have been installed at Catshill Junction and at Tongs Meadow on the Rushall Canal, at Marston Junction on the Ashby Canal, and near to Hawkesbury Junction (where the Oxford Canal joins the Coventry Canal). The purpose of the gates is to isolate sections of long pounds of water and thus to stop water escaping from the entire level in the event of a breach or other unforeseen circumstance that drains part of the canal.

IWA HEAD OFFICE BULLETIN - April 2004 - Issue No 86


After a span of 165 years, Brunel bridge is found

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Part of the 1838 iron bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, right

FOR years drivers thought they were passing across just another modern bridge over a canal. But encased within its bricks was a secret that had remained hidden for decades. The structure contained the earliest surviving iron bridge built by the celebrated 19th century engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Amazingly, the valuable piece of history was discovered only a week before it was due to be demolished.

It was found over the Grand Union Canal near Paddington Station in West London by English Heritage expert Dr Stephen Brindle. He had been leafing through Brunel's notebooks to research a history of the station when he found the designs for the 1838 bridge. Letters about the structure, from Brunel to the Grand Junction Canal Company, were also discovered, confirming his authorship beyond doubt.

Yesterday Jeremy Clarkson, who championed Brunel on the BBC's Great Britons programme, said: 'What a sensational discovery. It is astonishing to think that in a city like London, such an extraordinary part of our industrial past could lie unknown and undiscovered.'

The bridge - the earliest of only eight Brunel iron bridges in the country - was discovered days before contracts were due to be let to demolish it as part of a road improvement scheme. Westminster City Council halted its demolition plans and gave instructions for the bridge to be carefully dismantled and moved out of harm's way.

The iron bridge had long ago lost its railings, but was perfectly preserved under brick parapets. It was unrecognisable except from below, where the construction exactly matches Brunel's sketches and notes.

Now it is hoped the bridge will be rebuilt as a pedestrian footway further along the canal in time for the 200th anniversary of the engineer's birth in 2006. Councillor Colin Barrow of Westminster City Council said: 'The next stage will be to secure funding for its full restoration and confirm its new location. One option we are considering would be positioning it as a public footbridge over the canal, where it would enhance Brunel's magnificent legacy in this area.'

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: 'This unique bridge will be saved and, at the same time, all the planned public benefits will go ahead.'

The Brunel bridge will be removed next month, and the new road will reopen in 2006.

The 5ft tall giant of the Industrial Revolution

Reproduced from the Daily Mail of 4 March 2004 with acknowledgements


Prize for Caldon Canal Society

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The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) today announced that the winner of the Christopher Power Prize for 2003 is Caldon Canal Society. The prize is awarded to a person, society or trust that has made a significant contribution to the restoration of an amenity waterway and is determined annually by IWA's Council from a recommendation from Waterway Recovery Group (WRG).

Mike Palmer, WRG chairman, said, "We are pleased to recognise the society's huge increase in profile based on the Destination Froghall project, which involves the restoration of the top lock and basin of the Uttoxeter Canal at Froghall. This is the first section of the Uttoxeter Canal to be worked on, there having been previously no serious proposals for the restoration of any part of this canal. When completed the basin will provide valuable moorings and increase the attractiveness of cruising the full extent of the Caldon Canal. It should provide an added attraction for local people and other visitors to the area, as well as helping to preserve an important feature from the industrial revolution that was previously hidden from public enjoyment."

The Society started work on the overgrown site in spring 2003 with two tree felling and clearance weekends. With a WRG Canal Camp in August 2003, the lock chamber and adjacent railway siding were dug out and stonework around the basins exposed. The second lock leading out of the basin was also partially excavated, and repairs to the stonework in the first lock and the railway siding were started. A follow-up weekend was held in September, with the society hosting one of the WRG regional groups. Three further volunteer workparty weekends have been held between December 2003 and February 2004.

Graham Churton, chairman of Caldon Canal Society, said, "The Uttoxeter Canal is increasing in interest as a potential restoration scheme, with the Society considering a change of name, to include the Uttoxeter Canal, at its forthcoming AGM. The restoration of the first lock and basin of the canal is, therefore, a small but important step in this greater aim. The award of the Christopher Power Prize will help the society fulfil its future aims."

IWA Press Release - 24th March 2004


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