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Issue 448 - May 2010

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Chairman's Column

 
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May Meeting

Welcome to our May speaker, Paul Gosling, with 'Gosling's Gallivants 2009'. I believe that boats, railways and airplanes are all involved.

Aelred Derbyshire

I was sorry to hear that our member Aelred has been ill since the beginning of the year and has been in hospital for some time. I spoke to Sue Derbyshire recently enquiring as to Aelred's condition and passed on the best wishes of all their Society colleagues.

Vacancies for Chairman and Treasurer & Membership Secretary

............ and we are still waiting for volunteers to come forward. This does not bode well for the future of the Society.

Membership Subscriptions

Just another reminder that our new membership year started on 1 April and if you haven't yet paid your subscription (Individual - £15; Joint/Family - £22) to Anne Coleman, it is now overdue.

2010 Annual General Meeting

Further to the item in the last Newsletter, this is to confirm that this year's Annual General Meeting will now be held one week earlier than originally planned. The new date is Thursday 22 July and I suggest you note this in your diaries.

Day-Star Theatre

Pete and Jane Marshall will be paying us a return visit in the autumn with Day-Star Theatre's production of "The Worst Summer Ever". The date will be Friday 8 October, the day after our usual meeting for that month. Further details of this production have been published elsewhere in this Newsletter. Tickets at £8 each will be going on sale at our June meeting. Let us try and make it a full house again. There will be the usual American Supper after the show.

Society Burgees

A reminder that we are considering ordering a new stock of Society burgees. Enquiries to Angela Rose please.

Our Next Speaker

Our next meeting will be held on 3 June and our speakers on that occasion will be Society member, John Silman, and Tony Yoward who will be presenting "Canals and Mills General & Industrial".

April Newsletter

Apologies to those members who normally receive their Newsletter by post. Due to an administrative oversight there has been a most regrettable delay in sending out the April Newsletter.

Paul Herbert


Society Visit to Bursledon Brickworks

 
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Maureen Greenham has organised a visit to Bursledon Brickworks on 10 June starting at 2pm

The cost to cover the admission charge, a guided tour and a cream tea

(comprising 2 scones, clotted cream and jam, tea or coffee) is £7.50

To book a place on this visit, please contact Maureen

Tel: 02380 406 951 Email: maureen.greenham@talktalk.net

Brickworks logo

Bursledon Brickworks was founded in 1897 by a Mr Ashby who previously ran brickworks in Chandlers Ford, until the clay deposits ran low.

The surviving buildings are the main part of the southern complex, which at its height was producing 20 million bricks a year and provided extensive local employment for around 180 people. The northern complex on the other side of the M27 was demolished a number of years ago and is now the site of the NATS (Swanwick Air Traffic Control Centre). The brickworks was a family run concern until after the Second World War when it was amalgamated with the Sussex and Dorking Brick Company and became Redlands Limited in 1959.

It remained open until 1974 when a combination of factors including the decline in quality of the clay, problems with its extraction and increased labour and running costs and the interruption caused by the construction of the M27, meant the works were no longer viable and it was closed.

Twenty years passed and the old brickworks fell into a state of dereliction and were in danger of disappearing altogether, when it was saved and given listed status.

The brickworks was sold to Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust, for a token sum, as a result of an agreement with Redland plc which included an endowment to provide some of the funds needed for the restoration of the buildings.

Restoration began and is still an ongoing operation, which means there is plenty to keep visitors interested and find out just how much more there is to making a brick than you might think.

This is the last surviving Victorian steam-driven brickworks in the country and is run by enthusiastic volunteers to preserve the site for future generations.


April Meeting

Liam D'Arcy Brown - "Chinese Grand Canal"

 
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It was very unfortunate that only nineteen members and three guests experienced Liam's talk to us at the April meeting. I am aware that being Easter a number of members were away on holiday whilst others were attending the Maundy Service at their church.

Liam introduced his talk by explaining that he started studying China and the Chinese in 1989 when he attended University in Taiwan and Shanghai. He admitted to not having any wide knowledge of canals but his speciality is China, and his extensive knowledge of that country soon became apparent.

His dedication to his thirst for knowledge of China was indicated by commencing a three month tour of that country in 2006 - just three days after his marriage (and no, his wife did not accompany him but, surprisingly, was awaiting him on his return!).

Liam is an experienced writer and presenter of talks. In fact, he is in significant demand for the latter and has a considerable number of talking commitments booked to date. As previously said, he has considerable experience of China and is the first westerner, in over 200 years, to travel the full length of the Grand Canal, all 1000 plus miles of it! Whilst parts of the canal's route have been changed a number of times during its life, today it stretches from Beijing, in the north, to Hangzhou, near Shanghai, in the south. As Liam describes, "You can hear - and smell - the Grand Canal of China for a good half-mile before you see it".

The first section of the canal was constructed by the military in 483BC (!!!). Most of the current canal was built between 600 and 700AD with further improvements in the late 13th century. The original route of the canal was 1,700 miles in length but is now only 1,114 miles. For much of its life, until its role was supplanted by the railways, the transport of grain on the canal was one of the most solemn responsibilities of government. Up to 18,000 imperial barges carried 600,000 tons northward each year.

By 1901 the canal was declared derelict and, by 1911, had been largely abandoned because of devastating flooding, competition from foreign built railways and advances in coastal shipping. However, in the 1950s it became part of Chairman Mao's command economy, and today long trains of barge laden to the coamings, towed by tugs, carry the necessities of industrialisation - bricks, sand, cement and gravel for expanding cities like Shanghai. Seventy percent of China's energy is now met by coal, and the Grand Canal is a strategically vital route. But, despite there being around 100.000 working vessels on the canal, this is emphatically not a canal for leisure. A few sightseeing boats still give tourists a tantalising glimpse of canal-life, but with the demise in 2006 of the last commercial ferry the only way to travel any great distance is to strike a bargain with a willing captain, a time-consuming and illicit tactic that demands fluency in Mandarin and not a little money.

Liam described how the physical geography of the canal changes dramatically from south to north and his talk included information on the history of the canal, its construction, various major river crossings, and the politics involved.

Many thanks Liam for your fascinating talk and it was a shame that so many members missed it. However, for more information about the Grand Canal of China, there is significant material on the internet, an excellent illustrated article by Liam was published in this April's "Waterways World" and for the story of his journey to discover this major waterway, you must read his book "The Emperor's River: Travels to the Heart of a Resurgent China" published by Eye Books.

Paul Herbert


Day-Star Theatre

 
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The Worst Summer Ever

Day-Star Theatre

will be visiting the

Southampton Canal Society

on

Friday 8 October at 7.45pm

Tickets will be £8 - available at the June meeting

An American Supper will follow the show.

It's August 1954 the Americans have just exploded a hydrogen bomb on the island of Bikini, Khrushchev is manoeuvring for total power in the USSR after Stalin's death, Roger Bannister, has run the first sub four minute mile and wartime rationing finally ends with the lifting of restrictions on meat. It is also being called the 'worst summer ever' with high rainfall, low temperatures and very little sunshine.

In the small seaside town of Shellsea they are feeling the effects of the non existent summer. The Sea Spray seafront restaurant hasn't had a customer for days, nobody wants to hire a deck chair and the Cliff View Guest House has just one paying guest, a mysterious foreigner who says he is from Basingstoke.

Some people blame the weather on the new atomic research station up on the moor and others blame the Russians but when Rosie, the new focus of male attention in the town, goes missing, suspicion starts to fall on the mysterious foreigner.

There is also a neglected and bullied wife. A redundant Spiv, a war widow and an ex R A F war hero unrequited in love so you might wonder what there is to laugh about in Shellsea. .... Quite a lot actually

Two actors, six characters, a multitude of emotions

The Worst Summer Ever is this year's offering from Day-Star Theatre


Dinghy for sale

 
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Tadpole dinghy Dinghy with sail

Member Colin Huggins wonders if anyone would be interested in the illustrated dinghy?

He says, "Bought for £400 as a tender which would enable me to still do some sailing, I found it does NOT tow at 10 knots!

"The woodwork is newly varnished, the sail's in good condition, but the trolley is not available now. A similar dinghy is currently advertised in Boats & Outboards for £200. It's gathering dust here so needs a good home - would give it away (ouch!) for a donation to the RNLI."

Anyone who feels they're interested can contact Colin on 02392 467828.


IWA Solent & Arun Branch Small Boat Cruise

 
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On Sunday 13 June 2010 the Solent & Arub will be holding another of its small boat cruises on the Port Creek.

Port Creek, next to the A27 dual-carriageway, is what makes Portsmouth into an island. Tidal, with low bridges, we again attempt the challenge of navigating it in the time-window when there is both enough depth and enough headroom. For the confident harbour cruiser, a muddy launch at Fareham around 09.00 for a 12-mile cruise (using main channels, shorter if confident navigationally) through Port Creek eastwards to Langstone (Ship Inn), to recover at the good slipway there. High Water is at about 13.00. For the less bold, meet at Highbury, to launch directly into Port Creek near the railway bridge, from 10.30, to get away at 11.00. Explore Port Creek in both directions and either recover at Highbury (or Hilsea), or head east to Langstone (6 miles). Lift available to recover cars if necessary from launch site.

OS Grid References: Fareham slipway - SU 579056 and Highbury slipway - SU 666043.

Further details from Andy Berncastle Tel: 023 8027 3599 Email: hilary.berncastle@btinternet.com or Brendan Whelan Tel: 01903 816012 Email: solentandarun@waterways.org.uk


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