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Issue 461 - June 2011

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Chairman's Column

 
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June Meeting

This Evening your Committee Alan, Paul, Angela, Gill, Maureen and David have arranged:

Here's to an enjoyable evening. The proceeds of this evening will go into our own Society funds.

Society Burgees

These are available at £12.50 each or £13.50 posted. For further details contact Angela, Club Secretary (contact details here).

July Meeting

This meeting on the 7th July will be a talk on "The History and Design of the 'Bailey Bridge'" with Pablo Haworth. Even I remember my Dad telling me about these. For a sneak preview look at the Bailey Bridge web page on Wikipedia.

August Meeting

This is to be held on Thursday 28th JULY and will be our 44th Southampton Canal Society AGM - further details to follow.

Summer Boat Trip

A few seats are still available on the Boat Trip arranged for the 19th July running from Gosport to the Beaulieu River and return. Please see the item below.

Alan Rose


Summer Boat Trip

 
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LAST CHANCE to join the Gosport Ferry boat trip to Beaulieu on 19 July. The cost of £20 includes the sea journey into the Beaulieu River with commentary, travelling past the ships in dock at Southampton, returning via the north side of the Isle of Wight and a trip round Portsmouth Harbour, plus lunch of jacket potato or ploughman's. Payment and your choice of food at the June meeting please. Or contact Maureen Greenham by phone on 02380 406951 or email at maureen.greenham@talktalk.net

Maureen Greenham


Membership Subscriptions

 
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Our Treasurer & Membership Secretary, Gill Herbert, wishes to remind members that subscriptions for 2011/2012 were due on 1 April. If you haven't yet paid Gill would be grateful to receive payment (Single - £15 or Joint £25) at the next meeting or could you please send her a cheque at the address shown here. Thank you.


Day-Star Theatre

 
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Day-Star Theatre have been booked to appear at Chilworth on Friday 7th October giving a performance of their new play for 2011: "A Long Weekend."

More details about the play will be given in a future issue of this Newsletter. However, tickets for the show are now available from Angela Rose priced at £8.00 each.


Mikron Theatre

 
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The Mikron Theatre have already begun their tour around the country. They will be giving a number of performances within fairly easy reach of Southampton (see Waterways Events page).

This year they are presenting two productions:

Hell & High Water

In 1761 there were two earthquakes in London, a transit of Venus was observed in 120 locations around the world, George the Third was crowned King and, on July 17th, the first boatload of coals was borne smoothly along the Barton Aqueduct over the River Irwell on the Bridgewater Canal - the engineering marvel that was the wonder of its age.

In the turbulent times of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester's demand for coal was insatiable and there was an urgent need to get it there quickly and cheaply. Mikron's new show for 2011 takes us back to 1761, when three men had a vision and hundreds of others toiled to make it a reality. Over rivers, under rock, through "Hell and High Water", they proved that determination can literally move mountains.

Beer Street

...a heady draught of people, pubs, brews and brewing.

A lively, rumbustious show telling the story of pubs and beer and the part they have always played in society. Mikron's 40th anniversary production happily coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Campaign for Real Ale.

Has the traditional pub managed to survive as the social centre of a community in this age of pubcos, trendy wine bars and chilled out café bars?

How has the smoking ban affected pubs?

How do we deal with the new generation of 'binge drinkers' and the associated health problems?

This fast-paced production will be full of fun, music and lively bar room chat.


May Meeting

 
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The Suez Canal Past & Present - Dr Roger Squires

Only 22 members were able to attend April's meeting which was very disappointing when we had booked such a well known speaker. However, those unable to get there missed a very interesting presentation which would have broadened their knowledge of the history of this international waterway.

Roger's talk was split into two parts, the first dealing with the long history of the development of the canal and the second giving his personal experience of traversing this major waterway.

Roger had obviously undertaken significant research into the history of the Suez Canal both the waterway as we know it but also the ancient canals built in the land of the Pharaohs. It appears that there were a number of waterway constructions in the area almost throughout history. A canal was supposedly built by Thutmose III in about 1500 B.C.E. Inscriptions of Rameses 2 (1279-1212 BC) claim that he finished (or repaired) a canal leading from the Nile to the Red Sea. However, many of these early canals silted up or were reclaimed by the desert.

The first modern attempts to build a canal came in the late 1700s when Napoleon Bonaparte conducted an expedition to Egypt. However, construction met with difficulties and was soon stopped.

The next attempt to build a canal was at the instigation of the (now) famous Ferdinand de Lesseps. Construction was begun in 1859 and the Suez Canal opened ten years later in November 1869 - at a cost of $100 million. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Roger took us through the building of the canal describing the various major difficulties that had to be overcome, the highly complex political situations and the actual operation of the canal. Later came the closures of the canal due to the Suez Crisis and the Arab/Israeli wars.

Today the Suez Canal is operated by the Suez Canal Authority. The canal itself is 101 miles (163km) long and 984 feet (300m) wide. It begins at the Mediterranean Sea at Port Said, flows through Ismailia in Egypt and ends at the Red Sea's Gulf of Suez. It also has a railroad running its entire length parallel to its west bank. The canal can accommodate ships up to 210,000 deadweight tons. Most of the canal is not wide enough for two ships to pass side by side so traffic has to be one-way at a time. Whilst there is only one shipping lane there are several passing bays where ships can wait for others to pass. There are no locks on the canal and it takes between 11 and 16 hours to pass through, ships having to travel in convoy at low speed to prevent erosion of the banks.

The second part of Roger's talk was dedicated to a trip he took through the canal, from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. With the use of his digital images he described the various landmarks on route. Whilst the Egyptian side of the canal is developed and much of the land is under cultivation, the opposite bank is still mainly desert with only the occasional habitation to be seen. Following the Israeli wars the route of the canal is now a fortified zone, with many barracks and other military installations to be seen.

It is obviously not possible to provide a blow by blow account of all the sights shown to us by Roger but it was a most interesting tour of a canal I suspect most of us have never travelled.

Many thanks Roger for coming down from your London home to speak to us and for providing such an insight into the history, both past and present, of this major international waterway.

Paul Herbert


Girl wins World Pooh Sticks Championships

 
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A nine-year-old girl from Oxfordshire has won the individual prize in the World Pooh Sticks Championships. Saffron Sollitt, from Wallingford, beat 500 other competitors from around the globe at Days Lock in Little Wittenham, near Abingdon, on the River Thames. The game was written about by Winnie the Pooh author A A Milne and involves racing sticks under a bridge.

Team Kelly took the top spot in the group competition. Last year's event was cancelled due to high water levels. The competition attracted entries from New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands.

Individual winner Saffron said: "It was my first time so I was amazed to win. I used a few tricks like putting my stick in pointing upwards and picking the part of the river with the fastest flowing current."

The championships started in 1983 when the lock keeper noticed walkers recreating Pooh's pastime on the River Thames. He thought it would be an excellent way of raising money for his favourite charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The event went from strength to strength until the lock keeper's retirement when it was passed to the Rotary Clubs of Oxford Spires and Sinodun. Money raised this year, expected to be excess of £1,500, will go to the RNLI, Little Wittenham Church and other charities supported by the Rotary club.

Lesley Hunt, from Rotary Club of Oxford Spires, said: "It was such a shame last year was cancelled but this year was tremendous. The weather was beautiful and everyone left with smiles on their faces."

www.bbc.co.uk/news 27 March 2011


Wyn Gould dies on the K&A Canal's 'Cruiseway Day'

 
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Wyn Gould, who stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband John in their tireless battle to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal to a fully navigable waterway, died on Monday 18th April at the age of 95 - on the very day that the elusive 'Cruiseway' status that they had spent most of their married life fighting for was finally granted to the canal.

Wyn had been living at the home of one of her daughters near Marlborough for the last 18 months and it was there that she died peacefully on Monday in the company of her two daughters Jenny and Jane.

The canal became Wyn and John's whole life and she blamed herself for fanning the flame of a passion that was clearly in him. "Tom Rolt's book Narrow Boat had just been published", she said, "and I bought it for him for Christmas and sent it to him in India where he was serving in the Army. That fired the enthusiasm that had been dormant in his mind to come back to England and see what could be done to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal."

"People who come through this canal now have no idea what it was like when we started."

When John returned from India and left the Army he needed to find work and he began working for the British Transport Commission on the canal. It wasn't long before John decided to buy a pair of working boats and after a search he finally bought the motorboat, Colin and the butty, Iris.

They carried topsoil from New Mill in Newbury to nurseries at Sunbury-on-Thames but that stopped when British Waterways Board closed the canal.

They then got some dinghies and skiffs and hired them out at Victoria Park in Newbury. Wyn said, "We had five children and we literally dragged them up at Victoria Park where we hired out the boats."

They started doing boat trips and by getting schools interested they were able to get very busy with that but with the canal closed the time came for the working boats Colin and Iris to go. Iris was hauled out onto Newbury Wharf and burned. Then, Wyn explained, "John took Colin near to Bulls Lock where he and Bill Fisher dug out a pit for her and that is where she sank and disappeared - it was all very sad."

They later began the John Gould hire-boat business at Newbury Lock where they had cruisers and houseboats and it became very busy and popular. Wyn said, "This meant that I not only brought up the children, but I hired out the boats and turned the houseboats round every weekend - changing all the bedding and cleaning them out ready for the next day."

And while Wyn was doing all this John was busy campaigning to save the canal. There were countless meetings to increase support for the canal but, said Wyn, "In the early days we never thought it would come off, not at this end of the canal anyway so it was really special that we lived long enough to see the canal opened. But not getting Cruiseway Status was so irritating."

Wyn related that when they met the Queen at the opening ceremony in Devizes the Queen said, "Well John Gould, I have heard a lot about you and I'm really glad to meet you at last, perhaps we shan't see your picture in the papers so much now."

Wyn said that their lives were quite different to other people's, "We ate when we had time and the children spent half their time down at Victoria Park."

"Every time we went out it wasn't a trip, it was an adventure."

The hire boats and trip trips were completely dependent on the weather and as the children got older they needed more money, "But," said Wyn, "money was the last thing John thought about - he would just say - Oh! we will get by, we can always eat the furniture." To help make ends meet Wyn took a job in a launderette and each day when she finished there she went to Victoria Park to hire out the boats and later go home and get a meal and do the washing. As she said, "We had no washing machine then, it was a very intense time and we just lived life from day to day and week to week."

The canal in the Newbury area was not getting any attention so they organised work parties to repair the lock chambers and lock gates. She said, "It was unbelievable what we had to do and people who come through this canal now have no idea what it was like when we started.

"Sometimes you could only go a few yards on a boat with a propeller so we had 'paddle unit' boats that went flopping through the water and that got us along more quickly and more safely.

"Every time we went out it wasn't a trip, it was an adventure.

"Because the canal was in such a bad state the people we took out had to realise that we might not get back at the scheduled time - and we often didn't."

Bob Naylor©

http://kacanaltimes.blogspot.com

 

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