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Issue 353 - July 2001

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THE ROAD TO NOWHERE

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Photo of the short cycle path

The end of the road: The cycle path built by a canal in Dudley. At just 15 yards, it is an exercise in futility, claim cyclists

£2,000 canal path that has baffled cyclists

Daily Mail Reporter

AT a mere 15 yards long, a ride along this path is finished almost as soon as it starts.

But the line of puzzled cyclists wondering exactly what it is meant for is getting longer and longer.

The path has sprung up on the banks of a canal behind a shopping centre in Dudley, West Midlands. As if anticipating heavy traffic, it has been designed with a generous two-way system.

But the fact that it is sandwiched between two wooden fences ensures that the chances of cycling snarl-ups are extremely limited. The bikes simply couldn't fit on.

What the path lacks in size it more than makes up for in cost. Developers are said to have shelled out an estimated £2,000 to build it.

'It's a bit mystifying really,' said cyclist Martin Briselden. 'Cycling is my hobby and my bike is a great form of exercise but I cannot see the point in riding up and down on this thing - you just get dizzy.

'I have no idea who they have designed this for. Perhaps it is for very small people or perhaps for children. It just looks odd placed there.'

Simon Woodings, spokesman for the Automobile Association, was just as scathing. 'Why anyone would want to construct a cycle lane in an area like this, where there is clearly no major road, is beyond me,' he said.

'What on earth do you do once you have cycled the 15 yards and come to the end? Dismount and climb over the fence?'

There is some method in the apparent madness, however. According to Dudley metropolitan council, which gave planning permission for the path, this is the first stage of a plan to link up a network of similar paths.

It was built as a sample section to see how such a path would look alongside a canal walkway. A spokesman for the developers said: 'It's simple prototype path. The idea is to look at the relationship between footpaths and cycle paths against the canal route.'

No decision has been made to continue the path beyond its 15 yards. However, cyclists keen to stretch their legs a little more are hoping it leads to bigger things.

Thanks to Paul Herbert for sending in this article which appeared in the Daily Mail on Wednesday, June 13 2001.


June Meeting

(that is to say the 24th May event)

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'Escargot and other DIY Boats' was, as we have come to expect of Jon Sims, informative, relaxed and amusing.

Jon began with Escargot, the American-designed, pedal-powered 4 berth cruiser, and showed slides taken from the time the plans were received, through building stages, to testing on the River Itchen. He even had a slide to show of Waterway Recovery Group members taken when he met them on their route as they pedalled the cruiser from Birmingham to the IWA National Festival at Henley-on-Thames.

Jon brought to our meeting Colin Jones, the builder of Escargot, who was able to give us building details, materials used and times taken etc ...

Jon then showed us pictures of other boats that he had built, including one that he had designed and constructed from cheap materials all available at local DIY stores.

Colin told us of several projects that he was involved in, including building a boat with pupils of Mountbatten School, Romsey, which was one of eight identical craft being built around the country. The Romsey boat would soon be completed and handed to the school for use by pupils who would be under the supervision of a teacher who would take care of the project.

No doubt we will be hearing more of these boats in the near future.

Our thanks to Jon and Colin for a very pleasant evening.

Brian Evans


FROM NAPTON TO THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL

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Over a five week period in May and June this year, long standing Society Members Eric & Sue Lewis fulfilled a long awaited dream to take their narrowboat 'Remus' from its mooring on the Old Engine Arm at Napton to the Basingstoke Canal. Eric has fond memories of the Basingstoke from the time when he assisted with the manufacture of lock gates at the old Pirbright swimming pool site during the long restoration of the canal.

Their long journey, which was blessed with good weather, took them onto the Grand Union Canal to Brentford where they joined the tidal River Thames to Teddington, and then up to Weybridge where they entered the River Wey Navigation and then onto the Basingstoke Canal.

On their return journey Eric and Sue travelled to the end of the navigable River Thames and then back to Napton via the South Oxford Canal.

Eric and Sue have kept a photographic record of their journey and have kindly agreed to give Society members an illustrated talk at some time in the future.


New GEOprojects Canal Maps

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GEOprojects has recently published three new canal maps to add to their already extensive list. Two of these celebrate the completion of two major restoration projects.

To mark the recent re-opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal, GEO have published a new map showing that canal together with the Union Canal (which will join with the Forth & Clyde following the opening of the Antonine or Falkirk Wheel). This map also includes the Crinan Canal. (Price - £4.75)

With the re-opening of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, GEO have produced a map showing that canal, together with the Huddersfield Broad Canal and the Ashton Canal. (Price - £4.00)

The third new map covers the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals (and also includes the Ashton Canal). (Price - £4.00)

The Sales Stand now has a limited supply of each of the above maps.

A fourth GEO map covering the Worcester & Birmingham Canal will be available in the near future.


Lost & Found

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At the end of the DayStar Theatre's visit to us on 26 April a blue & red woollen scarf was found on one of the front seats. Is it yours? If so, please reclaim it from Paul or Ray on the Sales Stand at Society Meetings or, if you are not a regular visitor, call Paul Herbert on 023 8026 2365.


NEWS FROM WESTMINSTER - PARLIAMENTARY WATERWAYS GROUP

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We are getting a bit behind with our reports on the proceedings of the Parliamentary Waterways Group (PWG) which is attended on a regular basis by the Society's representative, Eric Lewis. The following report is on the meeting held on 6 February 2001 when the topic was EC Directives Concerning Waterways.

The proposed Water Framework Directive will have major implications for everyone involved in water and river management. It is likely to emerge as the most significant piece of water quality legislation for 20 years, in effect giving a stronger hand to wildlife interests on rivers and other watercourses. The Recreational Craft Directive may lead to high costs for emissions tests for boat engines.

The speaker on these and other related issues at the February meeting was Dr Geoff Mance, Head of Water Management at the Environment Agency (EA). The meeting was chaired by Bill O'Brien MP.

Dr Mance circulated a paper ('The Water Framework and its Implications'. A single copy is available free from Katie Ridge, Environment Agency, Rio House, Waterside Drive, Almondsbury, Bristol. BS32 4UD) and said that many European Directives affected waterways, such as those concerned with surface water abstraction, freshwater fish, dangerous substances, sewage treatment, urban wastewater treatment, groundwater and pollution prevention and control. EA had to ensure compliance with all these.

The Habitats and Birds Directive was concerned with the biological quality of the environment and covered a considerable geographical scale, for example 14% of Hampshire and 80% of the coast.

The Water Framework Directive was the most significant for waterways. It had been agreed in autumn 2000 by the EU. It was due to be implemented in part by 2007 and in full by 2012. It sought to bring together and simplify all the directives affecting water. Its aim was to halt the deterioration of water and return it to a good ecological status. It recognised the difference between natural and man-made waterways. EA were required to prepare new River Basin Management Plans based on their current catchment management plans. Government officials were working on how the new plans should look.

River navigations were designated as heavily modified water bodies. It was not sensible to try to turn them into natural winding streams since they might never have been in this form. This was the first Directive to concern itself specifically with water quantity. It required a modified abstraction licensing system. Navigation brought benefits to rivers, such as lock keepers on the Thames who carried out many duties relating to flood defence and water resources.

Communities were turning more towards rivers as pollution disappeared. EA had begun its Thames Ahead scheme to discover how communities wanted their river to be managed.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were key avenues for lobbying and tapping into financial resources of the EU. Waterway organisations could tap into web sites relating to MEPs and the EU, and write to MEPs (details available from public libraries). It was vital the EU understood the needs of users if sensible directives were to appear in future.

There then followed a discussion session.

In response to a question from the Thames Hire Cruiser Association, Dr Mance said EA's abstraction licensing charges rose ahead of inflation because of extra work the Government asked them to do after the great drought. EA had to consult on proposed charges in advance and this was done in public through their consultative committees.

In response to the Norfolk and Suffolk Yachting Association, he said any directive required the Government to show it had been translated into British legislation. Most could be done by Ministerial Orders. Directives should be reconciled with local legislation at the start. EA had been discussing directives in their formative stages to ensure there was no conflict. The Habitats & Birds Directive did not conflict with British law, it overlaid it with more demanding requirements.

Members of the public could complain to the EC if they believed directives had not been properly implemented by the British Government.

In response to a question about noise and exhaust emissions which could affect old engines in new boats and new replicas of old engines, Dr Mance explained that if users were not satisfied with proposed amendments to the Recreational Craft Directive, they should write to their MEPs.

The Royal Yachting Association representative advised that there was a list of British members of the European Environment Committee on the RYA web site. A proposal for 'in use' testing could equate to a massive extension of the Boat Safety Scheme to all waters.

Regarding a question from the Electric Boat Association, John Redmond of EA said boat charging schemes were being harmonised. He had suggested horsepower should be included in the calculation, however EA was consulting without preconceived ideas on how to calculate charges and users' views were welcome.

In response to a question from the Chairman, Dr Mance explained that local EA plans (LEAPS) were consulted on through meetings in village halls and town halls to engage the community in each area. About 600 local councillors were on their consultative committees.

Under the Framework Directive, river surroundings were included as well as the water itself. River planning would need to be incorporated with the town and country planning system, to ensure it was the town's plan, not EA's plan. DETR (the former Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions - no longer in existence as a result of Cabinet and Departmental changes following the General Election in June) had yet to determine on what geographical basis river basin plans were to be drawn up. He would be surprised if any matter for consultation on this Directive emerged during 2001.

The Canoe-Camping Club expressed concern that the small available number of canoeing waters would be further reduced. Dr Mance said wildlife groups were very effective in Europe and had successfully influenced directives. EA's role was to support DETR to work out how they could be implemented sensibly. EA was participating in a study on access to waterways.

In response to the Residential Boat Association, he said that he was an environmentalist rather than a conservationist. Structures designed and still used for water control were being designated as wildlife sites, meaning duplicate structures would have to be built for water control. There was a risk of discrediting genuine water management.

In his summary, the Chairman of the PWG said it was important that those interested in waterways took the opportunity to comment on EC, EA and local plans.

The next meeting of the Parliamentary Waterways Group was due to be held on 10 April 2001 when the speaker would be the Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, (now former) Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. A report on that meeting will be included in the Society's next Newsletter.

Eric Lewis and Paul Herbert


Tyne for a canal?

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Photo of barge tow

Golden Days: But canals suffered from competition from the railways

QUESTION Were there ever plans to build a ship canal from the Solway Firth to the Tyne?

IN 1745, the roads between the Solway and Tyne were so bad that when General Wade tried to march his troops from Newcastle to relieve Carlisle, which was under attack by Bonnie Prince Charlie, he took three days to reach Hexham (about 23 miles) and got no further.

As the industrial revolution embraced Carlisle, demand grew for a better way to transport goods to the West Cumberland Ports and to take coal back to Carlisle. But a 1795 scheme for a canal between Newcastle, Carlisle and Maryport, and a 1796 plan for a canal from Carlisle to the Solway came to nothing.

In 1808, a committee studying the problem asked Thomas Telford for solution and he proposed a canal from Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle, eventually linking up with Newcastle. The committee deferred a decision for ten years.

A less ambitious 1818 Plan envisaged a smaller canal from Carlisle to Port Carlisle (with a later extension to Newcastle). This 11-mile canal, 54ft wide by 8ft 6in deep, was built for £73,000 and opened in 1823.

The following year, William Chapman produced for a committee in Newcastle estimates of £888,000 for a canal and £252,000 for a railway between Carlisle and Newcastle. The committee chose the railway.

The Port Carlisle canal suffered from the competition from the new railway and, in 1854, it was filled in and covered over with a rail line.

In the past two years, the idea of building a canal from Silloth to Newcastle has received some attention. Its costs today would probably have to be compared against the price of a two-lane motorway.

D. E. Earl, West Molesey, Surrey.

Thanks to Paul Herbert for spotting this Answer to Correspondents item in the Daily Mail of Monday May 14 2001


2001 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

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SOUTHAMPTON CANAL SOCIETY

2001 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth, Southampton

Thursday 5 July 2001 at 7.45 pm

AGENDA

1. Announcements.

2. Apologies for Absence.

3. Minutes of 2000 Annual General Meeting held on 1 June 2000 and matters arising.

4. Chairman's Report.

5. Treasurer's Report (Income and Expenditure Account for the year ended 31 March 2001 and the Balance Sheet as at 31 March 2001).

6. Review of Annual Subscription Rates.

7. Election of the following Officers:-

Chairman

Vice-Chairman

Secretary

Treasurer

8. Election of Committee (the Officers plus up to three other Society Members. Additional Members may be co-opted as required).

9. Any other business relevant to an Annual General Meeting, where prior notice of the item has been given.

Note 1: The Reports of the Chairman and Secretary were reproduced in the June 2001 Society Newsletter (Issue No.352)

Note 2: In accordance with the Society's Constitution, only fully paid up members are eligible to vote at a meeting of the Society. Individual members and affiliated member organisations are entitled to one vote. Joint or family membership entitles that category to a maximum of two votes. Only members aged 18 or over are eligible to vote. All votes have to be cast in person, no proxy votes being permitted.

a:\agenda.01.agm


CANAL TALK FOR THE BLIND

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On September 11th I have agreed to give a canal talk to blind and partially sighted members of Southampton Society for the Blind. Giving talks accompanied by slides present me with no problem, but I will be finding this one considerably more difficult.

To replace the slides I think that, particularly for the totally blind, it will be of benefit to have objects that they can feel.

I have two small wooden boats, a mini decorated dipper, canal stool ... but would like to borrow other items from SCS members, eg a windlass, one or two horse brasses, a brass rally plaque, and other items you may think appropriate. We must, of course, avoid any sharp edges.

I would like to borrow these items by the September meeting and would return them in October.

Brian Evans


A Bad Day Editing

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In my computer lives an invisible bug
The hole that I'm in, the deeper gets dug
Confusion reigns, my mind's in a fug
I'd love to see him, perhaps give him a hug,
But he treats me like a gullible mug.
He screws up my programs, 'cause he's just a thug.

Acknowledgements to the Inland Waterways Protection Society's Newsletter - One Seven Four


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Page created 2 August 2001. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 16 December 2003.

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