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Issue 496 - May 2014

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Chairman’s Column

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May Meeting

As usual, there will be NO May meeting as the hall will be in use for elections.


At last! Spring and the Sunshine have arrived, time to plan our holidays and days out.

SCS Boat Gathering

Reminder of the proposed Boat Gathering for boaters in the Napton / Braunston area.

An informal gathering at Flecknoe and Braunston will be held over the weekend of the early May bank holiday. This is now NEXT WEEKEND!! To date five boaters in the area are coming along.

Casual plans:

BBQ on Saturday afternoon / evening.

Cruising to Braunston on Sunday followed by an evening meal at the Boat House. (In previous years we have frequented the Plough but they no longer serve meals on Sunday evenings!)

Monday a.m., for those who wish, Pete Boyce & Irene have kindly offered to show us around his yard, situated on Braunston Turn, to look at Lucy, Clent & the other boats he is restoring. This will be interesting and a follow up to Pete’s talk at our last SCS meeting.

If any members with boats in that area would like to join us, could they please contact me as soon as possible on 07831 706411 or home telephone number 02380 675312.

June Meeting

At our meeting on 5th June, SCS member Gordon Osborn will tell us about the “Ups and Downs of the South Pennine Ring” as we look at the canals of that part of Yorkshire.

It has come some way since the “impossible restoration” project of a few decades ago. See just how far at the meeting!

Alan Rose

Over £85m investment in the waterways this year

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At Canal & River Trust, we've outlined our plans for investment in the waterways over the next three years. Expenditure will rise to £85.4m this year and continue to rise to £93m in 2016/17.

We've set out a detailed plan for our major engineering projects, waterway maintenance and customer service over the course of the 2014/15 financial year. The bulk of this investment is all targeted around improving and protecting the waterways for boating.

Our planned major works expenditure for the year includes:

Much of the expenditure will be on the canals in the north of England where the percentage of assets in poor condition is highest. This includes major works to fix the leaking Horbury Culvert on the Calder & Hebble Navigation, repairs to the Bosley and Elton reservoirs in the Manchester & Pennines region and works to the Barlow Wood and Calverly embankments on the Peak Forest and Leeds & Liverpool canals respectively.

Across the rest of the country, works include a programme of grouting on various lock walls, stabilising and repairing bridges on the Oxford and Grand Union Canals, works to Dog Head Stakes Weir on the Kennet & Avon Canal and gate repairs at the West India dock in London.

The dredging works are the next stage in the our enhanced programme of £80m over ten years and will include work at 15 locations including the Slough Arm, the Grand Union Canal and the Birmingham Mainline.

In addition, the general waterway expenditure budget will include:

Vince Moran, operations director for the CRT said: “We’re very pleased to be able to increase our investment in caring for the waterways, making them safer, more resilient and more enjoyable for everyone that visits. As well as protecting the fabric of the waterways, the vast majority of this investment - which equates to £230,000 each day - is focussed on improving the waterways for navigation so that boaters in particular will benefit from these works.” 15 April 2014

Basingstoke Canal Reopened

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After the closure of the Basingstoke Canal at Dogmersfield caused by the landslip reported in the March issue of this Newsletter, the Canal was re-opened in mid-March to suitable boat traffic.

Our tests showed that we could successfully get boats through and based on the dimensions of what was passing and what was getting stuck we are putting a restriction on the beams and drafts of boats that can pass this area. They are fairly good so shouldn’t cause too much restriction for boaters.

The slip is shallowest at the upstream (Barley Mow) end and may require a few extra revs at this point. It is very narrow and we advise you go through with caution. Because the slip is very narrow this causes problems for wide boats with a deeper draft (hence our restrictions). There is also a tight bend half way along, but 72ft John Pinkerton1 managed to get through so this should be fine as long as you take it carefully.

There is a post and rail fence, and rope (to avoid posts causing difficulties at the turn) left in place to give you an eye line to follow on the towpath side. Please pass with caution and avoid driving into either bank, the fence, or the rope.

No one is allowed to moor up or disembark in the landslip area or 200m either side of it.

Further information about navigation on the canal can be found at

April Meeting

“The Restoration of Wooden Narrow Boats” by Peter Boyce

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Twenty four members enjoyed an interesting, informative and lively evening with Pete and Irene. Unfortunately the expected joint meeting with fellow IWA members did not materialise.

Why are there Wooden Narrowboats? They are built from manageable materials. At the start of a project Pete’s motto is “Know your boat”:- record and research, repair and restore.

Firstly: we saw pictures of work being carried out on Pete’s own boat James Loader built in 1946 for Leonard Leigh Ltd by Joe Worsey of Walsall in oak & elm. Pete showed his replacement of the fore end planks and top bends.

CLENT is a wooden motor boat built in 1947-8 for Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd. It was the last wooden narrowboat to be built by FMC at their Uxbridge yard and cost £1080. It had an expected working life of 20 years. This is a major cabin & hull restoration. Pete’s work on her involves serious money for the owner!

LUCY is a wooden butty built at Braunston by Frank Nurser at the Samuel Barlow Coal Co’s boat dock, for the carrying fleet of John Knill. Registered at Daventry as number 548 on 24th Feb 1953. In 1962 Lucy was re- registered by Blue Line Cruisers Ltd, steered by the Whitlocks. It was paired with the motor Ian and later with Renfrew and she finished carrying on the long distance Jam ‘Ole run in October 1970, and retired to Braunston in 1971. Rose Whitlock lived on her outside the Marina until 1977.

In May 2009, Lucy was raised from the mud on Braunston Puddle Banks. We watched film of the lift, a very muddy and wet affair. Lucy was towed by James Loader to Pete’s yard at Braunston and later lifted out on to a purpose built cradle in the Tess yard at Braunston. Steel frames are fitted to hold her shape as restoration work continues. Pete has painstakingly worked stripping small areas of the structure and, using computer generated images, remaking the parts, using hand tools as used in the 1950’s. We saw Pete making up a steamer to mould 30 - 40 foot oak planks for the hull and bending them around the frame, fastening with stainless steel bolts, not iron as before, as this reacts with the oak.

The oak used for the new keelson comprised of 3 pieces 25’x10”x4” scarfed together. To date, Pete has fitted 7 ash planks, bolted through the keelson, as the hull bottom, only 60 more to go. A new pine cabin top is fitted plus part of the door frame has been reclaimed and used as part of the new framework. Quite good progress has been made on Lucy since Peter’s last talk in 2012. Pete & Irene displayed various tools and materials as used on the boats. Irene is very artistic and for the Lucy fund she displayed her cushions, pot holders, tapestry, cards and framed pictures. A donation from SCS was also made for the Lucy fund.

Angela Rose

First Google Street View images of waterways now available

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Google imagery of some of our most famous waterway locations is available for the first time today. Generated by Google Street View’s latest piece of technology, the Trekker, the images will allow anyone with an internet connection to virtually stroll along our canals and rivers – no matter where they are.

Canal & River Trust was the first organisation in the UK to take the Trekker on loan from Google. From August until November last year staff from the Trust captured footage of over 130 miles of waterways, which will now be available online so that people can make a virtual trip along a variety of waterway spots.

The Trekker – a four-foot, 40lbs backpack, fitted with a 15-angle lens camera, taking 360 degree pictures every 2.5 seconds – is designed to capture imagery in public locations that the Street View car and Trike can’t typically reach. The narrow waterway footpaths and bridges proved ideal places to trial the technology, which has also captured views of the Grand Canyon, the world’s tallest building, and some of the world’s highest peaks.

In all, 20 staff and volunteers from the Trust trekked across 72 locations around the country, including the some of our most idyllic, hidden and popular places.

Imagery now available includes: Bingley Five-Rise Locks, Little Venice and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

The locations captured by the Trekker include many of those we're recommending as a Readymade Waterway day ( for families looking for inspiring places to visit this spring and summer.

With more organisations globally loaning the Trekker, ‘armchair explorers’ can view more of these remote and hard-to-reach places than ever before.

Emily Clarke, communications manager at Google, adds: "In our Trekker programme, we work with specialist organisations to capture some of the remotest and most beautiful locations in the world from the Grand Canyon to Mount Everest. The Canal & River Trust Trekkers have captured some stunning imagery of Britain's idyllic waterways so more of us can experience them than ever before."


Basingstoke Canal Lock Flight Opening Times Extended

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The weekly schedule of lock opening times for the 2014 season was recently published by the BCA. James Taylor, Surrey CC countryside manager, explains the changes intended to give more flexibility to boaters:

Following the successful trial of the “managed navigation” policy to control use of the Surrey locks last year, culminating in only the second season since restoration that the Canal stayed open throughout the Easter – October “boating season”, the Canal Management Team reviewed the numbers and concluded that there was room to employ Lock Keepers to cover some extra days with the locks open for 2014.

The Woodham and St John’s flights will now be open 4 days per week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). Brookwood and Deepcut flights - which use the most water - will still only be open 2 days every week - principally to allow water levels to recover. If boaters want to use the locks on any of the planned open days they need to phone the Canal Centre to confirm by 1pm the preceding working day – on the basis that if there are no boats are booked in, our Lock Keepers can be doing maintenance work around the locks. After consultation with boat users we are able to offer an additional Wednesday open on Brookwood and Deepcut for journeys planned more than 7 days in advance. This is specifically to help boats based at the eastern end of the Canal.

We are losing one of our Lock Keepers this year, who is moving on to a full-time role, and with almost 7 days a week service we had planned for another member of staff anyway. Adverts will be posted at the end of April to employ two new Lock Keepers.

We hope that you all enjoy another year’s uninterrupted boating, and look forward to seeing all our resident boats and visitors out on the water this season.

James Taylor

Further details of the 2014 opening times can be found at

Mon & Brec reopens following major repairs

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Inserting a pin

A stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal reopened to boats on 25 April, following around £1million of repairs to stabilise an embankment which had ‘slipped’ after it had become so saturated with rain over the wet winter period that it slumped down the hillside.

Glandwr Cymru (Welsh name for the Canal & River Trust) have been installing almost 500 massive pins, each 10-15 metres long, along the canalside at Llanfoist in the Brecon Beacons. While the remainder of the canal has stayed open since work began in February, the full length of the waterway will now be navigable by boat for the first time this year, bringing a welcome boost to businesses in the area.

The final pins will be put in over the coming weeks, together with a mesh to secure them in place. New vegetation will be planted along the embankment to take the place of trees that had to be cut down to allow engineers to carry out the work. It is hoped that the towpath next to the affected stretch will reopen at the end of May; meanwhile walkers, cyclists and other towpath visitors can continue to use the canal thanks to a short diversion around the closed section.

Busy spring and summer

Vince Moran, operations director at Glandwr Cymru, said: “We’re delighted to get the full length of the canal reopened in time for the busiest period of year. The Mon & Brec contributes millions to the local economy, so we hope this comes as good news for all those businesses who build their trade around a busy spring and summer.

“We saw unprecedented rainfall over the winter and it has required a major engineering project to repair the canal, with 500 pins effectively nailing the embankment back against the bedrock. We are pleased with how the work has gone and delighted that so many people have continued to visit the canal over the past two months. Now the navigation is open for business again we hope that even more people come and see one of the jewels of the canal system in the heart of the Brecon Beacons.” 23 April 2014

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Page created 2 May 2014 - last updated 7 June 2014.

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