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Issue 371 - May 2003

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Chairman's Column

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Second Society Boat Gathering

I am writing my input to this Newsletter on board our narrow boat 'The Evelyn Broadbent', moored at Flecknoe on the five mile pound between Braunston and Napton Junction. This will be the site of the Society's 2nd Boat Gathering which will be held over the early May bank holiday weekend. As that event is only a few days before our May meeting, the review of the Gathering will have to be held over to the June Newsletter.

Increasing Attendances

In recent months I have been delighted with the attendance figures at our monthly meetings. Whereas, in recent years an average attendance of 30/40 was usual, recently this has increased to 40/50. Well done to all.

However, I am still anxious to increase our membership base so if you know other boat owners who live in the general area, and I am aware that there are quite a few, or other people with a general interest in the waterways, please try and persuade them to come along and have a look at us. I think we are a friendly group, with a common interest in canals etc, and hope we always make our guests welcome.

Annual General Meeting

Just a reminder that the Society's 36th Annual General Meeting will be held on 5 June. As always, all Officer and Committee posts will be up for election so, if you would like to take an active role in the work of the Society, why not put your name forward. See the back page in this Newsletter for details of the supporting programme for the AGM.

Laura Sturrock and 'Raymond'

In last month's Newsletter I wrote about the article in the March issue of 'Canal Boat and Inland Waterways' covering Peter's and Laura's trip on 'Raymond' on the latest recreation of the Last Jam 'Ole Run. What do we find when we receive the May issue of that magazine but a postcard (part of their Historic Boat series) affixed to the front cover showing Laura at the helm of 'Raymond'. I am worried that all this exposure in the media might lead Laura astray!

IWA Salisbury Group Boat Trip

Another reminder, this time about the Salisbury Group's boat trip from Brassknocker Basin at the junction of the Somersetshire Coal Canal and the Kennet and Avon Canal (Dundas Aqueduct) on Sunday 18 May. Details of this trip are included again this month on the back page. At the time of writing I don't know whether there are still any places left but if you would like to go, please contact Jon Van de Geer on 01722 412841, or alternatively, catch him at our May meeting.

David Pearce

Congratulations to Society Member, David Pearce, currently Commodore of the St Pancras Cruising Club, who has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs. David was formerly a Vice-Chairman.

Society Polo and Sweat Shirts etc

We are now taking orders for a second batch of the Society's new branded clothing. So, if you would like either a navy blue polo shirt or sweatshirt bearing the Society logo, please see Martin Cripps at any of our meetings.

I have been asked if it is still possible to obtain a Society burgee. I am afraid that we are currently out of stock of these but I am sure we could get a further supply providing there was sufficient demand. If you are interested in 'flying the flag', please have a word with Martin.

Southampton Airport Charity Fun Run

Do you fancy some fairly modest exercise, whilst raising money for charity at the same time? If so, please see the item on page 3 of this Newsletter.

Sylvia and Brian Allen

I have received a letter from Sylvia and Brian advising that, with regret, they are having to resign their society membership for the present. Their other commitments are such that they find it very difficult to join in the Society's activities but they are still avid narrow boaters so those of us who regular cruise the waterways will look out for them. Good cruising Sylvia and Brian and we hope that we may be able to welcome you back into the Society in due course.

Paul Herbert


April Meeting

Frank Banfield - Transport Films

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At our April meeting we again experienced a change in the type of presentation to our monthly meetings when our speaker that evening, Frank Banfield, entertained a full house with a number of 16mm films (the real thing - not videos!!!), the majority of which had a waterways theme.

Frank's programme started with two short silent films, the first being a very old film about World War I, followed by a feature on hydroconic tugs which included some evocative scenes of shipping and working tugs on the Thames in the heyday of London's docks.

We then came to the main feature of the evening which was a sound film, made in 1950 - 'Boat to Birmingham'. This showed a pair of boats from the British Waterways fleet, crewed by Bill and Joe Beresford, collecting their orders at the Bulls Bridge Depot to proceed to Brentford to collect aluminium ingots for delivery to Sampson Road Depot in Birmingham. This film was most interesting as it passed through well known waterways locations, via both narrow and wide canals, showing the lives of working boatmen and their techniques for working boats and locks etc.

There then followed a 10 minute short - 'A Yarn Worth Spinning' which told the story of jute and showed its many and varied uses. This film was punctuated with scenes of the docks, railways, roads and, of course, canals.

After the interval, we saw films of the building and launch of the 'Queen Mary', followed by scenes of that liner, the 'Normandie' and 'Queen Elizabeth' in use as troop ships. The film continued with the harrowing sight of 'Normandie' on fire in her New York berth on the Hudson River where she capsized and sank.

The programme continued with a 1930s film of the Eblag canal in East Prussia and a 1935 LMS film of the River Clyde valley, starting off with a bustling Glasgow with people thronging the streets, the trams fighting their way through, and scenes of the busy ship building yards with a number of vessels under construction including the 'Queen Elizabeth' and various warships. As the film moved down the valley away from the industrial areas, towards the sea, we passed through the very attractive scenery and stopped off at the resorts along the way.

Our evening's programme concluded with a 1950s film showing the extensive mining operations beneath the sea, and the laying of vast amounts of explosive, to remove the two pinnacles of Ripple Rock in the Seymour Narrows off the west Canadian coast. These rocks had always been a danger to navigation and this was the final attempt to remove the obstruction. On 5th April 1958 a vast explosion lowered the rock by 50' below the surface at low tide - the explosion was spectacular. An apt way to end our meeting.

Many thanks Frank for entertaining us with a feast of 16mm films, some black and white, others in colour, some silent and others with sound - whilst all the time the projectors were whirling and clacking away.

Paul Herbert


Enjoying the Waterways

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Cartoon

Gill Herbert received this card upon her recent retirement from teaching and thought Society members might find it amusing.

Your Chairman strongly denies that there is any connection between the scene shown and the way he treats Gill or any other crew member on board their narrow boat 'The Evelyn Broadbent'.


Memories

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As readers of this Newsletter will be aware, Gill and I decided to dispose of our large collection of waterway magazines going back to the mid-1970s. Much of the collection was in binders, which are going to a different home than the magazines themselves, and it was therefore necessary to open up each volume to separate out the magazines. This exercise exposed some of the contents, which we couldn't avoid looking at, and we became quite nostalgic.

We came across many scenes of the waterways we have visited in the last 25 years or so and noted the multitude of changes. We were reminded of a number of our favourite mooring places, and the memories they provoked, particularly due to the antics of the various cats that have cruised with us.

There were sad memories too of well known characters that are no longer with us and of boats too that are now missing from their regular haunts, particularly some of the older and more famous Hotel Boats.

And how the design and layout of boats have changed since the 70s and 80s, now equipped with all the latest mod cons, including microwaves and computers and the latest in communication and satellite television receivers. Just look at the prices back in those 'old days' compared with today. It is unbelievable.

The waterways too have drastically changed, with so many former derelict and 'lost' canals now fully restored and open to navigation. The list is almost endless. In those days no one thought that totally new canals would be built in the future, such as the Ribble Link, let alone structures such as the Falkirk Wheel!

And then we came across pictures of our 'old' Society friends, Pete and Jane Marshall of 'Daystar Theatre', looking remarkably young, and also of a youthful 'Mikron Theatre Company', and you realise that time is passing by for ourselves, also.

In the January 1983 issue of 'Canal and Riverboat' we re-discovered the review of our own 50' narrow boat, 'The Evelyn Broadbent', not yet two years old at that time, but now, in 2003, still going strong and looking as attractive as ever.

In another, far later magazine, we came across our long-time friend and Society Secretary, Eric Lewis, explaining the background to the naming of the Lewis family boat, 'Remus'.

And looking back on it all, as we flicked through nearly thirty years of magazines, we were reminded of the various landmarks in our lives, some happy and some sad, both before we started our lives on the waterways, and the many years since.

Paul and Gill Herbert


Southampton Airport Annual Charity Fun Run

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Southampton Airport's 4th charity fun run will be held on Saturday 21 June. Runners will be able to enjoy a 5km course which will include the whole runway and taxi-ways. This event is a great opportunity for local charities to raise much needed funds. Organisations etc are invited to take part by entering a team of up to 10 runners. Each team member must aim to raise a minimum of £25 sponsorship. It is anticipated that the 2003 Charity Runway Fun Run will raise over £50,000 for local charities and it is expected that over 1,000 runners will take part.

Our worthy President, Brian Evans, has suggested that the Society might consider entering a team for this event. Whilst admitting that many of our members may be 'past their prime', Brian feels confident that 'surely we have ten who could manage to waddle 5km'. He has further suggested that the Waterway Recovery Group's current fund raising campaign 'The Right Tool for the Right Job' (see separate article in this Newsletter) might be an appropriate good cause for the Society's fund raising.

So, do we have any (reasonably) fit and willing members who would like to represent the Society and take part in this very worthwhile event? We haven't much time if we are to enter a team as the closing date for all completed application forms is Friday 16 May. Please contact Paul Herbert if you would like to enter.


Latest on the Basingstoke

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Following the opening of its new £500,000 back-pumping system at the end of March, the Basingstoke Canal is now able to welcome more boats. The pumping station and 1½ mile pipeline pumps water back up the six locks of the Woodham flight, shortly after the Canal leaves its junction with the Wey Navigation.

This important work was funded by local authorities and the Surrey and Hants Canal Society with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Much of the actual work was carried out by the Canal Society and WRG volunteers.

The completion of this scheme will hopefully permit year-round navigation of the canal to Woking.

WRG is now working on the installation of back-pumps on the St Johns Flight.

(With acknowledgements to 'Canal Boat and Inland Waterways' - May 2003 issue)


A Star is Born

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Such was the heading of an article in the April issue of 'Canal Boat and Inland Waterways' about our friends in the Day-Star Theatre Company. It was good to see that Pete and Jane Marshall had been given a double page feature, complete with a number of photographs, that described the early days of Day-Star right up to the present time.

Pete and Jane met at school and bought Day-Star, a wooden Joey boat, in 1977. In autumn 1981 they left their jobs to tour the canals for a year, intending to support themselves in the summer by performing, however a terrible winter created many problems for them, particularly when they were iced in for three months. Their German Shepherd dog, Jude, had to be pressed into service to bring shopping over the canal ice on a sledge.

Day-Star logoThat enforced rest gave them plenty of time to think about new plays and they began to develop the satirical reflections on canal life for which they later became famous. Though Pete was a trained drama teacher, Jane had no theatrical experience, her qualifications being in agriculture. Gradually Jane was introduced to performing until she found herself as the second full member of the cast.

The article described living aboard their boat with their children, George and Jack. Their current boat, 'Angry Bull' is moored outside their former Shropshire Union Canal Company stables at Audlem on the Shropshire Union Canal. Nowadays, Pete and Jane work from this base most of the year. They regularly perform in schools as well as in village halls throughout the autumn and Christmas period. They tour by boat in summer but use their van at other times of the year.

Pete writes all their material. After 21 years, Day-Star's fame has spread beyond boaters, so his themes tackle more general concerns through a waterways-based plot. The article concludes with the following comment from Pete - "I do like performing though it's a love-hate relationship, really, I get quite wound up about how it's going to go, because it's always an unknown quantity - but you get such a buzz from a successful performance!"

Day-Star Theatre will be returning to perform for the Southampton Canal Society on 2 October 2003.

Paul Herbert
(With acknowledgements to 'Canal Boat and Inland Waterways' - April 2003 issue)


The Right Tool for the Right Job

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The Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) has an ambitious programme of work planned for the next few years. WRG's volunteers are committed to assisting canal restoration projects wherever they are needed, but cannot do it without our help. Seven years ago, the IWA's Golden Jubilee Appeal resulted in a significant investment in WRG. By any standards the return on that investment has been excellent. However, there now needs to be further investment so IWA is launching an appeal for £75,000 under the banner of 'The Right Tool for the Right Job'.

Leaflets which have been published by the IWA describing the valuable work of WRG contain a shopping list of the items for which they are seeking funding. The list of wants range from a minibus, dumper tracks and generator to training courses, safety helmets and personal protection kits.

Later in the year the Society will be looking to make donations to waterways organisations from any surplus funds and I am sure that 'The Right Tool for the Right Job' will be high on the Committee's list for consideration.

If you would like further information on this new appeal, see the leaflets on display at Society meetings or for those with Internet access, go to: www.waterways.org.uk


Waterways on TV

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There has been a lot of criticism directed at Carlton Television for failing to show their popular 'Water World' series nationwide, or producing videos of same (other than the very first series). However, a new television initiative featuring the UK's inland waterways network is due to be shown on Channel 4 this autumn. The producers of a new daytime terrestrial television series are searching for contributors to 'Water Stories'.

The 'Water World' series has already received popular acclaim after its fourth series was aired earlier this year in Carlton Television's Central region. Now the independent company Televisionary Ltd is looking for subjects for this new series.

"We're looking for people who have given in to their passion" says producer Jeremy Hibbard. "We know there are people out there who live and breath the inland waterways. They may have an extraordinary boat or an unusual water-based job or hobby. Above all we're looking for characters to tell us their stories".

So, if you, or someone you know that might fit the bill would like to take part, contact Jeremy Hibbard on 07767 427666 or e-mail: Waterstories@televisionary.co.uk

Paul Herbert
(With acknowledgements to 'Waterways World' - May 2003 issue)


Overplating

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Society member Margaret Froud has kindly sent the following article about work done recently on their boat Duorf II. As an older boat, the hull was beginning to get a bit thin in a few places and so she and husband Ken decided to have the boat "overplated"; ie have steel plates welded over the outside of the old hull.

Lifting boats in and out of the water at Braunston Marina is a tricky business. The manoeuvre has to be carried out close to the covered wet dock where the bank is strong enough to support the mobile crane. On the day in question, there were three boats to be lifted into the water and three craned out - the crane driver deciding in which order this should be done. Each boat is lifted onto a low loader lorry and moved into position before final placement - this means moving the crane as well, so its stabilisers have to be withdrawn and put out each time. This takes ages, and DUORF II was the last boat to be moved that day!

A steel platform the width and length of the boat and twenty inches off the ground was waiting with the new base plates welded together and slotted down the middle already in place. Lowering DUORF II into position on this was not easy and required some manpower to get it exactly right. Ken had made a staircase of seven steps with handrails to fix to the side hatch to gain access to the boat and an electric hook-up was provided to make life on board comfortable. A water supply was close by, so everything was as normal. Most of the time work was being done we were away staying with our family - just living on board at weekends to check on progress. As the weather was perfect it didn't take more than two weeks to complete.

Job description of the work carried out by David Thomas

The slots in the base plate were 4" x 1" and cut a yard apart down the middle - these were then welded around the edges, the inserts replaced, then welded again. The new plates were welded all round the edges as well.

The side plates were blasted and treated before being welded in place - these came 4" above water line on the hull.

Once the hull was painted with epoxy, it was transformed and now weighs two tons more than before. This has necessitated removing a lot of ballast and we have also offloaded our complete set of Waterway World magazines amongst other things.

Ken is now carrying out a complete repaint of the upper structure - new cratch covers and signs are ordered - so to all intents we shall have a "new" boat before the SCS boat gathering at Flecknoe. We are both looking forward to this and having a well earned rest!

Margaret Froud 14.04.03

Thanks for the article, Margaret. Having seen the "new" boat this weekend at Flecknoe, the transformation is amazing. Whilst a little painting remains to be done, the boat has gained a whole new lease of life. At the time of writing, the boat is on a trip to the Ashby Canal. We trust you're having a good trip, Ken and Margaret.


BRAUNSTON CAROL SERVICE

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Back in January, Angela Faull sent me the following Yuletide article which I promptly forgot all about. After a gentle reminder, I now belatedly include it with thanks and apologies:

Over the weekend of the 14th /15th December Michael and I accompanied by David and Maureen Butcher on their narrow boat Wychwood No 2, cruised to Braunston. We had booked a pre Christmas meal at the Plough for the evening, and also wanted to stock up with coal and diesel from Ivor and Mel on Nb Mountbatten, prior to the closure of the Puddle Bank on the 6th January. Whilst chatting to Mel she happened to mention the candlelit carol service at Wolfhampcote Church at 4pm.

Following discussion after mooring up, we all decided it would be a good idea to attend. The Church stands in the middle of a field and is about a 20-minute walk from the moorings, so having wrapped up warmly we set off with our lanterns. It was quite muddy due to the recent weather, but we had come prepared, all wearing our boots. It was a lovely service of Carols and nine Christmas stories (as opposed to the usual nine lessons), the whole church was lit by candles and each member of the congregation had either a torch, candle or lantern. It made such a lovely scene. The Bilton School Band provided the music and several of the villagers either did a musical turn or told a story.

Making our way back to the boat it was by now of course dark, but looking back all one could see was a procession of lights snaking their way back through the field, it really did make a wonderful sight, and provided us with a truly seasonal experience, which we will definitely repeat. It is an annual event, and if anyone is interested for this year, nearer the time it will be advertised on the Braunston Village Website, which can be accessed at www.braunston.org.uk

Angela Faull


Walking through Braunston History

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On the Monday morning of the recent Society Boat Gathering, most of the boats were moored in Braunston. Eight of the Society members went on the first of a series of walks which were described in a leaflet parts of which are reproduced below. If the next two walks are as good as the first they can be thoroughly recommended.

DICK HERNE BRAUNSTON HISTORY SOCIETY

This Guided Walk is one of three in May/June this year, staged as part of our two-year Local Heritage Initiative (LHI) Project 'Exploring Braunston's History'. (LHI is a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nationwide Building Society and the Countryside Agency). In conjunction with British Waterways, Northamptonshire County Council, Northamptonshire Canal Partnership and Braunston Parish Council, we are researching the history of Braunston village and its associated canals, culminating in the establishment of a set of permanent way-marked walks with a related leaflet and history booklet.

After the walk

Canal Society members relaxing after their walk.
Fuller details of the Boat Gathering will appear in the next Newsletter.

Copies of the leaflet and booklet will be made widely available through various tourist outlets (locally and further afield) and delivered to each household in Braunston. In addition, we aim to provide a copy of each for visitors from outside the village who have attended any of our events (open Days/Guided Walks) during the Project. (For this, as a newcomer, please ensure that we have your name and address).

Distribution of those publications will come at the end of the Project. That final stage should occur in the spring of next year, with an Open Day and three Guided Walks, each inaugurating one of the permanent way-marked routes. I will write to advise you of the date and place of the planned events closer to the time.

In addition, further information about this project - and our other activities can be found on our website, the address of which is: www.braunstonhistorysociety.co.uk.

GUIDED WALKS PROGRAMME - 2003

The object of the walks is to cover some of the historical heritage to be found along the canal at Braunston and through parts of the village. This will involve much explanation of the relevant historical background at several key points along the route of each walk; consequently, the pace will be leisurely and the overall distances to be walked will be relatively short. However, it is very much regretted that walks 2 and 3 will not be suitable for wheel-chairs or those who are less mobile, due to the steps of a bridge on the route in each case. No advance notice of attendance is necessary. Further information is available from Chris Pardoe, 14 Field View, Braunston (01788 890448).

WALK 1: MONDAY 5th MAY.
Meet at 10.00 a.m. at the Stop House, Braunston. To cover the western section of the village, including The Wharf, Manor Field, High Street from Westfield House to Cross Lane and Nibbits Lane. 1-2 miles. 2-3 hours. To be led by Alan Mees.
 
WALK 2: MONDAY 26th MAY.
Meet at 10.00 a.m. at the Stop House, Braunston. To cover the canal from The Turn to The Tunnel. 3-4 miles total (including return to the Stop House). c. 3 hours. To be led by Clive Goodchild.
 
WALK 3: SUNDAY 22nd JUNE.
Meet at 10.00 a.m. outside Braunston Village Hall. To cover the eastern section of the village/High Street including The Green and the canal from Butcher's Bridge to Bottom Lock. c.2 miles. c. 3 hours. To be led by Chris Pardoe.

IWA Salisbury Group

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IWA Salisbury Group is organising a boat trip. There are some places left so any members of SCS will be welcome. Please contact Jon Van de Geer on 01722 412841.

Date Sunday 18 May 2003
Canal Kennet & Avon
Starting Point Brassknocker basin at the junction of the Somersetshire Coal Canal (Dundas Aqueduct) and the K&A
Start Time 10.00am
Duration All day
Distance Possibly to Bath top lock and return
Boats 3 Electric boats, open with a canopy
Cost £10 per person
Refreshments Picnic lunch or pub on route - possibly The George at Bathampton
Sightseeing Possible stop at Claverton pumping station

June Meeting

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The after the formal part of our June meeting (see below - and which we hope to complete as quickly as possible) we will be showing a video called 'The Lost Wey To the Sea'.

This video has only recently been released and was described by the publisher as a chance to rediscover an epic Victorian journey along the Surrey & Sussex Canals.

Accompanied by his faithful companion 'Rowan', Tony Pratt sets out in his collapsible boat 'Frog', to retrace the diaried account of Victorian yachtsman J.B.Dashwood and rediscover his epic 1867 inland voyage along the Wey & Arun Canal System.

Filmed from the water where possible, this unique video takes an atmospheric journey down the Wey & Arun Canal from Guildford to the South Coast, exploring some of the most picturesque areas of rural Surrey and West Sussex, visiting many sections not normally accessible to the public.

Helped by dedicated volunteers of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, the story is told of this unique example of British heritage, featuring its industrial past, present day beauty and future as a navigable waterway.


Annual General Meeting 2003

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In accordance with the Constitution, notice is hereby formally given of the Southampton Canal Society's Annual General Meeting on the 5th June 2003 at Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth Road, Chilworth, Southampton at 7.45pm.

Any member may request an item to be included on the agenda of the AGM by giving at least fourteen days written notice of the item and its nature to the Chairman.


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© Southampton Canal Society 2003 - 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 7 June 2003 - layout changes 13 December 2003.

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