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Issue 341 - May 2001

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WELCOME DAY-STAR

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Southampton Canal Society is happy to welcome the Day-Star Theatre Company to the Chilworth Parish Hall for another performance. The new play for this year is entitled "The Hero of Sandy Edge Wharf" and is being premiered here tonight.

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 ......


April Meeting

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In his young days, Terry Putnam was a fan of steam railways and spent much of his time observing the trains passing on the main line through Berkhamsted, his home town. With the end of steam haulage, he lost interest in trains and turned his attention to working narrow boats. In Berkhamsted he was ideally situated to see them working up and down the Grand Union Canal.

He became fascinated by the colourful boats and their crews and began to find out more about them. Where did they come from and go to, what were they carrying, and by travelling to various points along the Grand Union began to get to know the families aboard.

Fortunately he photographed the boats at every opportunity and as he followed their travels, mostly between 1965 and 1970, he was steadily documenting the end of regular commercial carrying on narrow boats.

His talk to us at the April meeting, 'Last of the Narrow Boat Families', highlighted the difficulties the crews were up against, with the boats becoming older and failing, poorer and poorer maintenance of the waterways, British Waterways staff indifference and ice in the winter.

Terry showed his irreplaceable slides and told the story in a way which encouraged the audience to join in. A very enjoyable and extremely informative meeting.

Brian Evans


NARROW CANAL OPENS ... BUT TOO NARROW

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Once known as the "impossible restoration", half of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was opened between Ashton under Lyne and Wool Road, Dobcross on 9th April. The remainder of the canal, the Standedge Tunnel and the Standedge Visitor Centre will open on May 1st.

There were, however, red faces at British Waterways when it was discovered that Wade Lock, Lock 21W in Uppermill, is too narrow. The British Waterways' narrow boat "Tyseley", used by the Mikron Theatre Company, became jammed in the lock.

The vessel was making its way upstream, ready to be one of the first boats through to Marsden, where the Mikron Theatre Company is based. It passed below High Street Bridge and into Lock 21W. Once in the lock, the front of the boat became firmly wedged between the sides of the lock. It was reported to have been there for three hours until winched back out of the lock. The boat is now moored just below High Street Bridge awaiting revised plans.

The Pennine Moonraker and other boats of around 6' 10" beam have successfully passed through the lock. "Tyseley" is believed to have a beam of 6' 11¼". The Huddersfield Narrow Canal has a nominal navigational width of 7 feet.

This is going to be a huge disappointment to some boat owners, particularly some of the older boats which may not now be able to reach Standedge Tunnel.

The west side of the lock has a distinctly curved wall to the left, narrowing towards the head gate (see photo). This will restrict the lock for boats around 70' to those with a beam of up to 6'10". Shorter boats of up to 60' with a slightly broader beam may be able to fit into the lock as long as they keep to the tail end. It is not uncommon for locks to have a bowed shape. The right hand wall was rebuilt during restoration and is straight.

The Theatre is putting on a series of performances of a play "Warehouse Hill" to mark the re-opening of the canal at various locations along the canal's route and it will be a big disappointment if they are unable to have the boat present.

Reproduced with acknowledgements to Pennine Waterways web site: www.penninewaterways.co.uk/ring.htm


DONATIONS

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In recent months, the Society has made a number of donations:

In thanks for the talk in February by Tony Pratt on the Bullion Run and restoration on the Wey & Arun Canal, the treasurer has sent a cheque for £75 towards the funds of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust.

Alan Palmer spoke to the Society in March about the restoration of the wooden narrow boat Raymond. A cheque for £50 has been sent to "The Friends of Raymond" to help with further work on the boat.

As a result to two nationwide appeals for donations to waterways projects, two cheques of £100 each have been despatched:


MORE DONATIONS

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The Committee would again like to thank all those members who have made donations of prizes for the Society's monthly raffle. This enables more money to be raised by the Society which in turn goes toward the donations made to other waterway organisations such as those detailed on the left.


GIVE MORE ...

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Brian Evans has written the following asking for a little more towards the Society:

Peter Oates is looking weary. That's because every month he has to put Newsletter together all on his own. He even has to reproduce material from other journals. He needs help from you, in the form of a short article, written in biro, pencil, with computer, or on the back of a fag packet, he's not fussy.

Not an epic on how you travelled from south to north and back in three months. Just short, single experiences, for example -

How you fell in a lock .... And who you blamed for it

Or how you pinched your finger in the paddle gear .... And what you said [this is a family magazine - Ed]

Or what made you sneeze your false teeth into the wood-burning stove.

Go on, please let Peter have your story.


REMEMBER

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Tie a knot in your handkerchief to remind yourself!

Next meeting: Thursday 24th May at 7.45pm.

Speaker: Jon Sims on "Escargot and other DIY boats"


FUTURE MEETINGS

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We were unable to book our meeting at Chilworth Parish Hall on the 3rd May as the hall was to be used as a polling station in the forthcoming local elections.

Now those elections have been postponed to 7th June. This disrupts another of our meetings when Roger Hanbury, Chief Executive of the Waterways Trust, was due to talk to us. Roger has many commitments and this talk has had to be postponed until the October meeting.

As a "last minute" replacement, a new speaker has been arranged for the 24th May. Local writer Jon Sims was instrumental in getting Escargot, the pedal powered canal cruiser, built and launched. This boat was crewed by WRG volunteers who pedalled it from Dudley to the IWA National at Henley-on-Thames in 1997. Jon will also be talking about other small boats he has known and loved.

The date for the general election has yet to be fixed. Your secretary will tear his hair out if it's on 5th July!!


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Page created 2 June 2001. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 13 December 2003.

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