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Issue 426 - June 2008

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Chairman's Column

 
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June Meeting

This month we are pleased that our own member, Bob Dukes, is returning to 'centre-stage' when he will be telling us about "Silk, Myth & Mystery" - the history of how silk came from China, the start of its production in Europe, the UK and America, industrialisation, etc.

2008 Society Spring Outing

Further to the Society's excellent day out on the Basingstoke Canal and 'The Watercress Line' on Saturday 19 April, the full details of which, including photographs, were published in our last Newsletter, I was delighted to thank Maureen Greenham publicly at our last meeting for making all the arrangements and presented her with a bottle of wine, as a modest token of our appreciation. Maureen is now working on ideas for our next outing.

As a follow-up to that trip on 'The Watercress Line' Dave Yaldron of the Mid-Hants Railway will be coming to speak to us at our September meeting.

2008 Society Boat Gathering

An informal gathering of Society members with boats moored in the Napton area was held over the early May bank holiday weekend. See the item and photographs in this Newsletter.

Purton Barge Graveyard & the IWA Salisbury Group

The narrow bank between the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the River Severn, to the north of the Severn Railway Bridge, has long been used as a graveyard for old barges, with the aim of protecting the bank from erosion by the strong currents in the river. Paul Barnett, who will be the visiting speaker at our November meeting, leads guided walks explaining the history of the hulks.

On Sunday 6 July the IWA Salisbury Group has arranged a visit to the site. See item elsewhere in this Newsletter for further information.

For further information on this interesting and historic site just enter 'Purton Hulks' into your Internet browser.

Day-Star Theatre

Tickets for Day-Star Theatre's production of 'Put That Light Out', which will be staged at Chilworth on 2 October, will be available at our July meeting priced at £7.00 each.

Skittles Evenings

Following the previously successful Society Skittles Evenings I am pleased to advise that a further event will be held at the usual venue on Friday 7 November 2008. Please note that date in your diaries and look out for further details in a future Newsletter.

Monthly Raffle

I want to take this opportunity to thank all those members who donate prizes for our monthly raffle. The income from the raffle is one of our main regular income streams and each donated prize means it is one less to buy. Many thanks and please keep up the good work.

July Meeting

Our next meeting, on 3 July, will see a welcome return visit by the renowned wildlife photographer, Dennis Bright. His talk on that occasion will be 'Wild West Wales'. Those members who have been to Dennis's previous illustrated talks will know it is an event not to be missed.

Paul Herbert


River Thames Lock Houses

 
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Following parliamentary lobbying by IWA and other Thames user-groups, an Early Day Motion has been tabled by Ian Taylor MP (Esher and Walton), concerning the proposed sell-off of Lock Houses on the Thames by the Environment Agency.  Early Day Motion 1587 states:

"That this House is concerned about the Environment Agency's proposal to dispose by sale or letting of 22 lock-keepers' homes along the Thames; recognises the importance of lock-keepers being resident in homes adjacent to locks to maintain safety on the river; fears for the welfare of the lock-keepers and their families; and calls on the Government to ask the Environment Agency to re-examine its decision so as to protect this unique part of the nation's river heritage and the tradition of lock-keepers living at the site of locks."

IWA is encouraging all waterway supporters to lobby their MPs to support this Early Day Motion.  IWA's lobbying for the Environment Agency to change its mind is gathering considerable support in the national media, including a series of letters in The Times and coverage on various radio broadcasts.

In response to this, the Agency has offered assurances that no lockkeepers would be made redundant or homeless as a result of its plans, and that the sales would take place over a five-year period.  All 45 locks would continue to be manned on a roster basis, as they are now, providing help to boaters and managing water levels.  The Agency also says that it has a positive vision for the future of the river set out in the Thames Waterway Plan, which is agreed with customers, businesses and government in 2005.  In the last 3 years it has invested over £15 million improving the Thames as a waterway, and plans to continue this level of investment over the next three years. 

IWA remains concerned, however, that the Agency plans to sell-off operational water-side assets that it will never be able to buy back again, and that as a consequence it will find it increasingly hard to retain suitable staff in the area.  Furthermore, IWA believes it is exactly the wrong time to sell residential property, and that short-term renting would enable the Agency to retain control over the properties and thus ensure a steady income stream, and the Association therefore strongly disapproves of the Agency's plans.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - June 2008


May Meeting

Clive Field - "Narrowboats to Norway"

 
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Over the years the majority of our speakers have entertained us with tales of the inland waterways of the UK. Occasionally we have been told about narrow boat journeys around our coasts. We have learned about journeys within Europe's canal and river systems. But to take narrow boats across the channel and all the way to Norway.....!!!

Clive, ably assisted by wife Jilly, told us about the plan to take four narrow boats to Norway during August 2005. First of all, he had to take their boat single-handed from Saul Junction on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal across country to Limehouse Basin in London. The next stage saw the flotilla of four boats, including the working pair 'Aldgate' & 'Angel' making their way, breasted up, down a very choppy tideway where they locked up into Tilbury Docks ( in which jelly fish apparently thrive!) for the next part of their journey to Sweden.

In Tilbury Docks the boats were craned out and on to low 'dollies' which were then loaded onto the ferry for its 36 hour crossing to Sweden. Fortunately, after the rough Thames passage the crossing was smooth. Arriving at the port of Goteborg (Gothenburg) the boats were unloaded and re-launched back into their more natural environment. Before making their way via canals and lakes into Norway, they moored at Gothenburg Maritime Museum for four days where their boats soon became part of the attractions, which included several other interesting craft, including a destroyer and a submarine. Visitors to the Museum took advantage of the presence of the narrow boats and droves of them made their way onboard (after all, it is not very often the Swedes would have seen boats of that type). The crews of the visiting boats found everyone very friendly and helpful.

After leaving Gothenburg the flotilla made its way along the Gota Navigation to Lake Vanern. On that navigation there is the famous seven chamber staircase flight. Alongside is a former flight which was used up to 1916 when it was replaced by the present flight. The older locks are beautifully maintained but are now only used by maintenance boats. Nearby are the remains of an even older flight.

On the approach to Lake Vanern they passed the famous trip boat 'Juno' - used from time to time for the 'Waterways World' tours. The lake itself is vast, 87 miles across at its widest point - it is the third largest fresh water lake in Europe and is now officially designated an Inland Sea. The lake can be really rough at times but luckily their crossing was calm. Then it was through the Swedish Lakes system and interlinking canals and eventually into Norway and on to the Halden Canal. Part of that canal is only 1.5km from the Dalslands Canal in Sweden. There has long been a dream to connect those two canals but, regrettably, it must remain just a dream - there would be significant environmental and other objections to such a link.

And then it was time for the homeward journey, stopping off at the World Canals Conference on the way.

We heard a great deal about the places Clive, Jilly and the other crews visited and the interesting people (including resident Brits) they met. During the subsequent question and answer session we learned that, because of the short daylight hours, and the presence of ice during the long winter, the Scandinavian boating season is very short. On the question of cost of the trip, including craneage and ferry costs, it worked out to about £2,500 per boat - obviously a once in a lifetime trip.

Many sincere thanks Clive and Jilly for such an entertaining talk. I know the large audience thoroughly appreciated its content, the superb photographs, and the accompanying humour.

Paul Herbert


Captions Required!

 
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Paul Herbert

During the Society Boat Gathering (see below), there was quite a story about 'some chocolate cake'. This photo of Paul Herbert was taken by Lynn Olding and she feels members might like to suggest some 'quotes' or 'captions' to go with it, as a bit of fun. Send your suggestions to the Newsletter Editor (contact details) and we'll publish them next month.


Boat for sale

 
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Swallowdale

It is with some regret that Laura and I have decided to sell our boat (to make way for another). Swallowdale is 65ft long, has a Colecraft hull, fit-out by John Woollard in 1987. She is powered by a Russell Newbery DM2 in it's own engine room. 15' 6" lounge with Squirrel stove. Spacious galley. Bathroom with shower over bath. Pumpout toilet in own compartment. Traditional boatman's cabin with 4' 6" wide cross-bed. £52,000 ono. Further details and photos on http://apolloduck.net/82903 or from the Newsletter Editor (contact details).


2008 Society Boat Gathering

 
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An informal boat gathering was held at Flecknoe (near Napton) and at Braunston over the bank holiday weekend, 3 - 5 May and an enjoyable time was had by all.

Barbecue Boats and members attending included Ken & Margaret Froud on 'Duorf II'; Eric & Sue Lewis on 'Remus'; Terry & Ann Phippard on 'Dolly'; Rogan & Lynn Olding (with friends David and Pauline) on 'Merlin'; and Gill and myself on 'The Evelyn Broadbent'. Our first mooring was at Flecknoe where we joined together for a barbecue on Saturday evening. On Sunday we cruised to Braunston where, that evening, we enjoyed dinner at 'The Old Plough' (where we were joined by Society member Ray Brooks and an old friend of a number of Society members, Julie Unwin). Monday lunchtime we all met up on 'Merlin', at the kind invitation of Rogan and Lynn, for a splendid (and very filling) American Lunch.

Above: Saturday evening barbecue at Flecknoe.
Below left: Sunday evening meal at The Old Plough, Braunston.
Below right: Eating again (!) aboard 'Merlin' at lunchtime on Monday.
Photos: © 2008 Paul Herbert and Lynn Olding

Sunday evening Aboard 'Merlin'

After that lunch the gathering broke up, some of us then going cruising whilst others made the way back to their respective home mooring.

We were very lucky with the weather - apart from a shower just before the barbecue, we had excellent weather throughout the weekend, and that was the start of that glorious ten days or so at the beginning of May. Everybody agreed that it had been a very successful and enjoyable weekend and it is hoped to repeat the experience next year.

Paul Herbert


Salisbury Group Outing

 
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On Sunday 6th. July the Salisbury Group of the IWA is organising a trip to The Purton Hulks. If any member of SCS is interested in joining them, then please contact Ron & Myra Glover tel 01722 710322 email: glover3@gotadsl.co.uk for further details. (They will be away until 17th. June.) NB: Members will make their own way to the site and meet at Purton, Gloucestershire (OS ref: SO692044).


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Page created 10 June 2008 - archived 4 July 2008.

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