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Issue 319 - April 1998

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DEVELOPMENT OF CYCLING ON TOWING PATHS

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IWA have recently issued two press releases about cycling and towing paths. The first on 2nd March:

The IWA reaffirmed today that it is opposed to a major extension of cycling on towing paths as recently proposed in a joint statement by BW and the cycling organisation, ctc. IWA believes that any suggestion of converting the whole network of towing paths to cycleways would be impractical and damaging to the waterways and their present uses. IWA does, however, believe that BW should be obtaining funding from the Government's 'green transport' budget as well as its existing maintenance grant-in-aid.

BW have proposed to the Government that they be granted £158 million of public money to convert all 2,900 kms of their waterway towing paths to cycling routes within 7 years. They have also asked for a further £4.6 million per annum for increased maintenance costs. These proposals are contained in BW's response to the Dept of the Environment, Transport and the Region's consultation on Developing an Integrated Transport Policy.

BW have also issued a joint statement with ctc which claims that towing paths are a major transport network and suggests that funding should come from an increase in tax on motor vehicles. However, it is the waterways which are the transport network and towing paths are merely there for local access. Proposals by Sustrans for the widespread conversion of towing paths to cycle routes have been much reduced in view of the many practical difficulties involved and the opposition to major structural changes to the heritage of the waterways.

IWA supports the present level of cycling on towing paths for working locks, access to boats, safety and low level recreational cycling for people who are using the towing paths because they appreciate the waterway setting. IWA does not support the expansion of towing paths into cycleways as an alternative to roads for cycling commuters. There are some urban sections of canals and navigable rivers where sufficiently wide pathways can be created without detriment to the waterway landscape, but proper consultation is needed with all existing users before such changes are made.

IWA National Chairman, Mrs Audrey Smith, said "IWA will continue to campaign against the wholesale conversion of waterway towing paths into hard surfaced, high speed commuting racetracks which would damage the amenity and threaten the safety of walkers, anglers and boat crews."

Mrs Smith added, "We are very concerned that BW have issued a Joint Statement with ctc proposing a major change to the waterway environment without any consultation with the user groups who would be directly affected by such change. In their response to the Government's Integrated Transport Policy initiative, BW have claimed that much of the waterway network could be adapted for safe, economic and sustainable cycling by purchase of additional land or construction at different levels. We believe that BW have not properly considered the devastating effect this would have on the unique environment of our waterways which is the nation's irreplaceable heritage."

The second press release was issued on 21st March:

IWA & BW are agreed that BW should continue its plans to involve national user groups and cycling organisations to develop and define safe and sustainable levels for the management of cycling on the towing path.

BW and IWA agreed the following key points:

BW confirmed that its bid for additional funding for cycling does not imply the necessary conversion of the whole waterway network to hard surfaced cycle ways. It is not BW's intention to do this. BW's submission to DETR on integrated transport policy says that any adaptation of the network for cycling 'should also enhance the unique heritage and environmental qualities which make inland waterways so desirable for recreation.'

It would seem that BW have been quick in retracting their earlier statements. Surely, BW should have a reasonably consistent policy regarding cycling on their towing paths or at least have listened to all parties before issuing Joint Statements of such a profound nature. What do our readers think?


DAY-STAR THEATRE

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The Day-Star Theatre, who were a big hit at the 30th Birthday Party last year, have been booked again to appear at the June meeting of the Society. The theatre company (all two of them) have become well-known on the waterways scene in the last few years. They will be coming to Southampton to give us a special performance of their brand new play for 1998 - which is, as yet, unnamed. Judging from last year's production, Something in the Water, this will be thoroughly enjoyable: humorous but not without a more serious side.

Light refreshments will be available after the performance.

An admission charge will have to be made this year to cover the costs of bringing the production to Southampton. When the tickets first went on sale at the February meeting, they were offered exclusively to SCS members at a price of £2.50. Whilst they remain at this price to members, tickets are now available to the public at a charge of £3.50. The tickets have been selling very well and there are only a finite number to be sold. A sell out is certain. Get your tickets from Eric Lewis - NOW or you may well be too late!!!


March Meeting

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The Somersetshire Coal Canal was authorised by Act of Parliament in April 1794 and closed in 1894. At our meeting it was quite amazing how our speaker, Roger Halse, brought 'back to life' a canal that has lain derelict for so long. Through endless research he has uncovered many old photographs of the canal and its installations and we were able to compare slides of these old scenes with pictures of the present state of the canal taken in identical positions. Sometimes the series of pictures included the railway that has come and gone in the meantime, and which in places was built on the course of the canal.

During its working life many thousands of tons of coal were transported from the Somerset Coalfield along the canal via the link with the Kennet and Avon at Dundas. These cargoes also greatly contributed to the prosperity of the Kennet & Avon and the Wilts & Berks Canals.

There are still a few features of the Somerset Coal Canal remaining and we wish the Society good luck with their work in the preservation.

Sitting on the border of the Avon & Wilts and Solent & Arun Branches of the IWA, it is always interesting to see who turns up for what subjects. This talk was well attended and drew visitors from both areas.


SOCIETY LIBRARY

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You will doubtless have read in recent issues of the newsletter that our librarian, Sue Lewis, has had to say that, for domestic reasons, she will be unable to store the Library's books at home after the Society's AGM in July. As yet no-one has volunteered to look after these books. Sue is prepared to either continue running the library, to assist the volunteer in any way or to step aside and let the member run the library on their own.

The library has been a well used part of the Society's facilities for many years. It contains many books that have been donated from to the Society by members and well-wishers. Some of the titles available have been out of print for a considerable time and a few of them are difficult to find elsewhere.

The Committee has considered the problems that would be caused if no volunteer were forthcoming to look after the books. Reluctantly it has decided that, in this circumstance, it can see no alternative but to arrange for the disposal of the entire contents of the Library.

This would surely be a sad day for the Society and a serious loss to our membership. Please, please consider whether you (and I mean YOU) could look after these books. It may be that you feel you could not carry these books to and from every meeting or that you don't wish to commit yourself to attending every meeting. Well, there may be alternatives to this. It is possible that only a rotating selection is brought to each meeting or only to certain meetings. Maybe a comprehensive catalogue of the books could be made available and members might order their reading material from this. May be you can think better ways than these out of the difficulties we find ourselves in.

If you feel that you can help in any way or can give any ideas, please have a word with either Sue Lewis or Brian Evans. Please don't let the Library die - obituaries do not make pleasant reading.


Events and Meetings in 1998

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The following is a list of waterway oriented events happening around our area. This list proves there is plenty of waterway interest within a moderate distance of Southampton. Something on this list must interest you! Phone numbers of contacts are given at the end of the list.

2nd April (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - "Lots to do at the Soo" - A look at North American Waterways with Colin Ward. Details from Eric Lewis.

4th - 19th April - Easter Bunny Canal Trips on the Chichester Canal. Children may bring their parents / grandparents. Find the bunny and collect an Easter Egg. Boat leaves Canal Basin at 10.00, 11.30, 1.00, 2.30 and 4.00. Fare: Adult or child £4.00. An Easter present for every child! NB whilst children of all ages are welcome to participate, these trips are aimed principally at the under 10's. Booking essential - Edward Hill on 01243 783150.

5th April (Sun) - Beaulieu Boat Jumble - the ultimate boat bits boot sale. Follow the signs - or the car ahead!

8 April (Tue) - Talk on The Foxton Inclined Plane by Mike Beech (Curator of the museum of the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust). Held at Westgate Centre, Woking, by Chobham Road Bridge, starting at 8pm. Details Arthur Dungate.

18th - 19th April (Sat & Sun) - Working Party at Murtry and Coleford Aqueducts and other sites near Frome held by Dorset & Somerset Canal Study Group. Details from Derrick Hunt on 01761 434618.

19th April (Sun) - Informal walk along the lower section of the Andover and Redbridge Canal, taking in a visit to the Eling Tide Mill and a pub lunch. Meet at the Tide Mill at 11am. Please let the guide, Peter Boyce, know you're going.

20 April (Mon) - "Kennet and Avon Heritage Lottery Fund" by John Laverick (BW Project Manager). Basingstoke Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey (off A321 Frimley - Guildford road) starting at 8pm. Details from Tony Davis .

3rd May (Sun) - Drungewick Aqueduct Cruise - the Wey & Arun Canal Trust will be holding a small boat cruise on the Loxwood / Drungewick section of the canal. A rare chance to take your own boat on this restored section. Details of cruise available from John Lisk.

7th May (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - River Lea (Part 2) - Bow Back Rivers by Richard Thomas. Details from Eric Lewis.

10th May (Sun) - Arun Navigation Campaign Cruise. This is the 16th running of the Pulborough - Pallingham Sponsored Small Boat Cruise but with a new name. See article on the front page of last month's newsletter or contact Alan White.

21st May (Thu) - The Canal du Midi by Frank Stokes and Dereck Johnson. Salisbury Rugby Club, Castle Road, Salisbury at 7.30pm. Details from Tony Fry.

23rd - 25th May (Sat to Mon) - National Trail Boat Festival at Wootton Bassett on the Wilts & Berks Canal. This is a premier event in promoting the Association's aims and objectives, and supporting local canal societies and trusts. If you can't make the National at Salford this year why not try this one! Free admission. Boat bookings to Tony Mason on 01793 852852; other details form Doug Small on 01628 544666.

4th June (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - Day-Star Theatre with their new show for 1998 (admission charge). Details / tickets from Eric Lewis.

7th June (Sun) - "The Poddle" is the Wey & Arun Canal Trust's sponsored walk. Mostly on the Surrey sections of the canal. Details from John Lisk.

7th June (Sun) - Chichester Canal Guided Walk and Cream Tea. Starts at 2.00pm at Salterns Locks, Birdham. Details from John Cooper.

13th - 14th June (Sat & Sun) - Beaulieu Classic Boat Festival at Buckler's Hard. Boats, trade show, rowing pageant. Organised by Classic Boat Magazine.

27th - 28th June (Sat & Sun) - Anglo-Welsh Waterways Weekend in Bristol Harbour. Open Sat 10.00am - 10.00pm, Sun noon - 6.00pm. Numerous land and water-based attractions. Admission free! Details from Richmond Event Management 0117 9276614.

2nd July (Thu) - Southampton CS AGM and Waterways Videos. Details from Eric Lewis.

5th July (Sun) - IWA Salisbury Branch are organising a boat trip on the Upper Thames starting at Lechlade. Details Tony Fry.

5th July (Sun) - Chichester Canal Guided Walk (as above).

8th July (Wed) - Illustrated talk on The Chichester Canal - Its History by Edward Hill at Chichester District Council Offices at 8pm. Details from John Cooper.

11th July (Sat) - Chichester Basin Barrel Races organised by the Chichester Canal Society. Teams of paddlers in spectacular racing. Details from John Cooper.

18th July (Sat) - Mikron Theatre at Chichester. Performances start at 8.00pm. Details from John Cooper.

18th - 19th July (Sat & Sun) - "Optimist" sailing for youngsters at Chichester Canal Basin. Opportunity to try sailing. Details from John Cooper.

25th - 26th July (Sat & Sun) - Littlehampton Regatta. Many attractions (including IWA Branch stand and cruise). Organised by Littlehampton Harbour Board - contact Paul Naish on 01903 721215 (office hours).

26th July (Sun) - There will be a return cruise from Littlehampton to Arundel in support of plans to create public moorings at Arundel for visiting boaters. Details from Alan White.

25th - 26th July (Sat & Sun) - The Newbury Branch of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust are organising the Newbury Waterways Weekend. This includes a Canal Fair from 10.00am to 5.00pm on the Sunday which will include craft and canalware stalls, waterway and local society stands, boat trips and various other entertainments. Details from Eddie Middleditch 01635 42041.

6th August (Thu) - Southampton CS Members' Slides. Details from Eric Lewis.

9th August (Sun) - Chichester Canal Guided Walk (as above).

23rd August (Sun) - Chichester Canal Water Fair and Steam Boat Rally. NB Please note change of date from that announced last month. Many attractions on and off the water. Parade for all types of boat; chance to cruise the canal in your own boat. Hire a skiff or ride the trip boat. Chichester Canal Basin 12.00 to 5.00. Contact John Cooper (or Alan White if you would like to help run the IWA S&A Branch stand).

28th - 31st August (Bank Holiday) - International Festival of the Sea at Portsmouth Dockyard. Find the IWA S&A Branch stall among 400 other stands and a thousand other boats. Ticket hotline and information on 0870 909 1998. If you would like to help on the IWA stand contact Alan White.

29th - 31st August (Bank Holiday) - National Waterways Festival, Salford on the Manchester Ship Canal. Details from IWA Head Office 0171 586 2556 (office hours).

3rd September (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - An Evening with our Chairman (Brian Evans - assuming he still is!). Details Eric Lewis.

12th - 13th September (Sat & Sun) - Godalming Working Boat Rally. Details Mike Adams 01483 773512.

17th September (Thu) - Canalside Camera by Jon Sims. Salisbury Rugby Club, Castle Road, Salisbury at 7.30pm. Details from Tony Fry.

20th September (Sun) - Beaulieu River Small Boat Cruise. This will be upstream to the top of the navigation from Bucklers Hard. A launching fee of £6.00 is payable but the river is extremely attractive. A gentle cruise and picnic followed by a cream tea in the village. Details from Peter Boyce.

1st October (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - Black Country Waterways with Ron Cousens. Details from Eric Lewis.

5th November (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - A Small Boat on Local Waterways by Peter Glover. Details from Eric Lewis.

19th November (Thu) - Canalware Painting by Bocraft. Salisbury Rugby Club, Castle Road, Salisbury at 7.30pm. Details from Tony Fry.

28th November - 24th December - Father Christmas Trips daily on the Chichester Canal. Details from John Cooper.

4th December (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - Annual Inter-Society Quiz and American Supper. Details Eric Lewis.

First Wednesday in most months - IWA Dorchester Group meets. Information Graham Pugh 01305 262305.

Throughout the year - Wey & Arun Canal Trust run cruises on n/b Zachariah Keppel on the restored canal. Information from John Lisk.

Throughout the year - Chichester Canal Society run cruises on n/b Egremont on the canal from Chichester. Information from John Cooper.

Telephone numbers of contacts are:

Peter Boyce (IWA Solent & Arun Branch) 01705 269642
John Cooper (Chichester Canal Society) 01243 671051
Tony Davis (IWA Guildford & Reading Branch) 01932 844261
Arthur Dungate (Surrey & Hampshire CS) 0181 737 4896
Tony Fry (IWA Salisbury Group) 01722 710192
Eric Lewis (Southampton Canal Society) 01703 860384
John Lisk (Wey & Arun Canal Trust) 01493 752403
Alan White (IWA Solent & Arun Branch) 01243 573765


Eling and Andover and Redbridge

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Peter Boyce, Chairman of the IWA Solent & Arun Branch, writes:

For our visit, we will assemble at 11.00am at the Tide Mill in Eling. This is well signposted off the Southampton - Totton- Lyndhurst road with brown tourist attraction signs. The mill is a unique working tide powered mill, and our visit coincides with low tide, so with any luck it will be working. We can also visit the Steam Mill, a former granary, and Eling Quay, once a busy port and shipbuilding centre. There were even plans in 1774 to build a Salisbury - Eling Canal, and the Eling tramway was built from the quay to the main line in 1851. After the mill visit, we will drive to Redbridge, where the Andover and Redbridge Canal met the sea. Here we can study the original warehouses, and the pub menu, and take lunch. Those with picnics can find a river bank or stay at Eling Mill Pond. After lunch, we will visit a section of the Andover & Redbridge Canal that was not built on by the subsequent railway. This exists as part of the Lower Test Nature Reserve, and a section has been dredged to provide a still, fresh water habitat. Remains of a bridge and a lock site can be found. Please let me know if you are coming, so we get some idea of numbers.

Peter Boyce 01705 269642


It's the £10,000 shed to store the lawnmower!

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More than £10,000 is to be spent on a run down shack by Napton Reservoir - so it can be used as a lawnmower store. Cracks in the wall, which engineers feel are part of the original features, will remain.

British Waterways will spend £10,500 in conservation and heritage repairs to the 1930's brick building, which is by the side of the lock, but want to make sure the repairs are not so noticeable so the hut can retain its character.

Mel Bannister, communications manager for British Waterways, said the hut was important as it was a reminder of yesteryear. She said: "The hut was used by the lock keeper when the canal was used commercially. He would use it to keep warm and to store his tools. The hut still has a fireplace inside it but we don't have a full time lock keeper any more."

British Waterways said it wanted to preserve the hut because it was an interesting building. A part time lock keeper is employed and he will be able to store his lawnmower and tools there.

She said: "It is an example of canalside architecture. The roof is unusual in engineering terms and it is a nice bit of history.

The small building has a rare arched barrel roof made entirely from carefully tooled bricks and will be strengthened to stop it falling down. A new retaining wall will be built to prevent slippage and steel sections will be fitted to brace the walls. The stone floor will be removed and replaced over a new foundation and a new timber door will be fitted.

Waterways manager Andrew Stumpf said: "Although this hovel is not a listed structure, it is an extremely unusual design with an interesting past, which, thanks to these conservation works, can now be seen and enjoyed by future generations of local people and visitors."

The work should be completed in time for the new holiday boating season which starts in March.

The above article first appeared in the Leamington Spa Courier on 6 Feb 1998. It was one of a number of things sent in by a member of our Napton Branch - Margaret Froud. Thanks very much - keep up the good work. If any members spot articles like this in the local or national press, then send them in for all to see.


Bugsworth Basin

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After Ian Edgar's talk on the restoration of Bugsworth Basin late last year, members might be interested in the following written by Ian (from Navvies Feb-March 1998):

Probably the most spectacular progress for many years is the transformation of the Entrance Canal which has defied volunteers' efforts to cure the leaks into the cottages at Teapot Row and into the Black Brook.

The radical solution has been to rip out all the old wall, puddle and lining of the canal which was found to be of very poor quality. As it turned out, and quite unknown to us previously (obviously!) volunteers had no chance of curing this by the traditional methods.

A new heavy concrete wall has been constructed in front of the cottages and a drain has been inserted which will divert rising water under the bed away from the cottages to the Black Brook.

The Bentonite membrane has been laid and the clay overlay. The job has run well behind schedule but that's nothing new for Bugsworth which - true to form - has thrown a lot of nasty problems at the professionals as well as us volunteers.


Bits and Pieces

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Donations have recently been made by the Society following talks given at our meetings. In response to Tom White's talk on the BT Global Challenge, £35 has been given to Save the Children Fund. Last month's speaker, Roger Halse, has earned the Somersetshire Coal Canal Society £50.


Chichester Canal Society - Help!!!

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The Chichester Canal Society has recently made an urgent appeal for volunteers to provide help and support in order to ease the burdens that continue to fall on the shoulders of a few people and, as the Society grows, inevitably become more difficult for them to bear.

Part of their difficulty centres on the fact that people have volunteered to assist, but so far nobody has been prepared to manage or co-ordinate activities. The reality is that the Society must have these leaders before they can make proper use of other volunteers. Not all needs are ongoing, some are occasional. Some activities do not require outside or physical work and could be easily carried out from home or on the telephone.

The Society has gone from strength to strength in the last four years. Its membership has increased six-fold (over 870) and its turnover massively. With that and other developments their chance of realising their main aim of through navigation grows ever closer. They ask you please not to leave their small band of stalwarts trying to carry an impossible burden.

There follows a very brief summary of the particular tasks and duties they have in mind. If you feel you can help contact Edward Hill on 01243 783150.

1. Dredging/Weedcutting etc - Dredging/Plant Manager and a Water Weed Harvesting Coordinator both required.

2. Minibus Driver - Purely driving the 12 seater minibus - no servicing involved.

3. Towing path Maintenance - small tractor, cutter and trailer. Coordination of the ongoing maintenance is vital.

4. Tripboat Skippers Season starts in March and extends to December. Commitment: half to one day per week at most. Tripboat Manager/ Coordinator urgently required. Also Bookings Secretary, Maintenance Manager and Manning Coordinator.

5. Events Organisers.

6. Society Shop at Chichester Basin - both to man and manage year round.

7. Professional Advice - accountancy, law, publicity, marketing, fundraising etc. Not expected to be ongoing.

8. Plant Maintenance.

9. Refreshments - Occasional and hands-on. Service and or preparation.

10. Sponsorship - Newsletter.

11. Items for Sale Collect and coordinate .

12. Collect Coins / Stamps. Collect and dispose.

13. Manage Angling. Prior experience of angling administration essential.

14. Canoeing - Manage all aspects.

15. Rowboating - Manage and organise winter maintenance, tickets, spares etc.

16. Newsletter Advertising.

17. Coffee Mornings. Set up a network in various localities.

18. Flora & Fauna - Provide advice, carry out/organise surveys, write articles and reports and monitor.

19. Leaflets/Posters - Manage distribution. Coordinate and set up new outlets.

20. Artwork & Design.

21. Unspecified Help - Your opportunity to assist!


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Page created 9 June 2003 - layout changes 13 December 2003.

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