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Issue 363 - July 2002

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Chairman's Column

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2002 Annual General Meeting

Further to the 'Stop Press' item in the last Newsletter, because Chilworth Parish Hall will not be available for our planned Annual General Meeting on 1 August, the Committee has considered a number of alternative dates and venues and it has been decided to bring the AGM forward one week to Thursday 25 July. This will be held at our usual venue, and I would be pleased if you could note this date in your diaries. The AGM paperwork will be sent out to all members in about two weeks time. As has become traditional, the AGM will be followed by waterways related videos.

Peter Lewis

Following his operation reported in the last Newsletter, Peter started on a programme of Chemotherapy on 18 June. I have seen him recently and am pleased to report that he is looking well and has recently been able to re-start work on his thesis for his Master's Degree.

It was good to see Sue and Eric at our June meeting.

Members' Boat Register

And we are still not quite there!!! Peter Northway, one of our newer members, also has a boat so this will be added to the Society Boat Register. This makes 19 'Society' boats so far.

Any more out there???

Proposed Society Boat Club

I had hoped to have been able to give members an update in this Newsletter on the interest shown in this proposed scheme. However, I must express disappointment that so few boat-owning members have responded to the letter and details sent to them. To those who have responded, many thanks. To the others, can you please let me have your views, in a written note, by the end of July so that we can decide whether or not to proceed with the establishment of a Society Boat Club.

Subscription Fees

It is now time to pay subscription fees for 2002/03. It is normal for fees to be agreed at the Annual General Meeting and subsequently collected. The issue of the 2002/03 fees will be on the agenda for the AGM but the Committee will be recommending that there be no increase this year and therefore, subject to any changes made at the AGM, the subscriptions will remain unchanged at £12.00 Joint/Family and £8 Individual.

Membership Records

A number of the Society's individual membership records are incomplete - for example we haven't always got Christian names, and we need to check that all addresses are current. It would also be useful to have telephone numbers and email addresses, where available, which would enable members to be contacted quickly in the event of a last minute cancellation of a meeting or event etc. Therefore, we will shortly be asking all members to complete an appropriate form.

Paul Herbert


June Meeting

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To give our members a break from waterways topics, we were pleased to welcome Don Bradnam of the Mid-Hants Railway to our June meeting.

I am afraid that, due mainly to the half-term holiday, a large number of our regular core of members were away on holiday. This resulted in a fairly low attendance, compared to many of our other meetings this year. However, this in no way detracted from the entertaining evening and the highly absorbing illustrated talk given by Don, accompanied by his amusing anecdotes.

Don started by giving us a general introduction to railway development in the country, and the Mid-Hants Railway (the 'Watercress Line') in particular. Between 1850 and 1860 there was a lot of local demand for a railway and then in 1860 the Alton & Winchester Railway Act was passed, construction work starting in 1861.

The line opened in 1865 as a private railway, but operated by the L&SWR. In the 1870s the L&SWR took over the line. Whilst the line had been built single track, with passing loops at stations, it had been built to main-line standards.

In 1958 the line saw the demise of steam passenger traffic. February 1973 saw the final demise and closure of the line.

We heard how, in January 1928, the line had to be closed for about 10 days because of heavy snow. We saw a photograph of topiary at Ropley Station in 1930's - a practice continuing to the present day.

In 1960s the line was quite busy, including a number of diversions off the main line, including the 'Bournemouth Belle'.

Don back-tracked by explaining his origins in interest with the railways. His family started off with a live steam garden railway in a chicken run (I assume it was empty at the time!). Subsequently this was converted to electric. The run incorporated a cool, damp tunnel which attracted a number of frogs, many of which unfortunately were run over by the trains. (I dread to think what today's environmentalists would have thought of that!)

Returning to the Mid-Hants Railway, it became known as the 'Watercress Line' of course through its carriage of watercress from the beds in the area to London - 14 tons each day at the peak of the trade! The line had also been known as 'Over the Alps' because of its 1 in 60 gradient at its highest point.

Don continued with the major efforts to reclaim and restore the line - by 1975 there was a Share Issue to buy land for the line between Alton and Alresford. British Rail had lifted all track between these Alresford and Ropley. After track-laying the job of gradually collecting locomotives and rolling stock started, including a number of the former rescued from Di Woodham's famous scrap yard at Barry Island. We heard stories of station buildings, signal boxes and footbridges salvaged from elsewhere and reconstructed on the railway. Don described the re-connection of the line to the 'main line' at Alton Station and the various measures required to run stock straight through.

To close the first part of the programme Don referred to the various projects either recently completed or in progress, and gave details of the various special events that are organised throughout the year for visitors.

After the interval Don gave a brief presentation on other more general railway issues, world-wide, including the remains of pre-historic 'railway tracks' found on Malta. There then followed the usual question and answer session.

Thank you Don for providing us with a very informative and entertaining evening.

Paul Herbert


Society Branded Clothing

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In a previous Newsletter there was reference to the purchase of Society Polo Shirts. In addition, there have been requests for some more sweatshirts. The Committee has discussed the issue of further branded clothing and decided to place an order with Jancraft (the Society's traditional supplier) for a number of navy blue polo shirts and sweatshirts, bearing an embroidered Society logo.

It is important to ascertain the demand for these items before placing an order. We cannot quote an exact price at present because this will largely depend on the size of our order. However, it is anticipated that we will be selling the items at around £15 each.

If you would like a new sweatshirt or polo shirt, can you please place your order with Ray on the Sales Stand (not forgetting to state the sizes required) or see Paul Herbert.


Society Trip to Crofton Beam Engines

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The Society's trip to the Crofton Pumping Station will take place on Sunday 29 September 2002, a date deliberately planned as it is a steaming weekend.

The station houses two Cornish Beam Engines, the 1812 Boulton & Watt and the 1845 Harvey of Hayle. These engines have been restored and the 1812 engine is the oldest beam engine in the world, still in its original building, and still doing its original job of pumping water to the summit level of the Kennet & Avon Canal. Both engines are steamed from a hand stoked, coal fired, Lancashire boiler.

The Crofton site has a gift shop, light refreshments, a picnic area and easy access to the Kennet & Avon towing path and Crofton Locks.

The plan for the day is for members and their guests to make their way to Crofton using their own transport. Car sharing would, obviously, be beneficial. Participants should take a picnic lunch etc and we could partake of such refreshment either in the picnic area or elsewhere alongside the canal and locks. A guided tour of the Pumping Station has been arranged for 12.30pm. Directions to the site will be issued in due course.

The cost of entry to Crofton is £4.00 for adults; £3.00 for seniors; and £1.00 for children. This will be payable on the day.

Many members put their names down on the original list before the date was known. I would now like to have confirmation as soon as possible from those who would like to go. Can you please let me know (in person, by 'phone, by email of even a note through the post).

Paul Herbert


Annual General Meeting 2002

Variation of date

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In accordance with the Constitution, notice is hereby formally given of the Southampton Canal Society's Annual General Meeting on Thursday 25th July 2002 at Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth Road, Chilworth, Southampton at 7.45pm. Please note this is a change from the date previously published in this Newsletter.

Any member may request an item to be included on the agenda of the AGM by giving at least fourteen days written notice of the item and its nature to the Chairman.

To speed up the proceedings, copies of the Officers' Reports to the AGM will be sent to members by post in mid-July.


CONTACTING THE EDITOR

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A reminder that my email address has reverted to peter@whitenap.plus.com. I apologise for any problems caused to members.

Peter Oates


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Page created 12 August 2002. Updated 19 May 2003 - layout changes 16 December 2003.

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