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Issue 404 - July 2006

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Chairman's Column and Bits 'n' Pieces

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Margaret Fletcher

The Inland Waterways movement lost one of its most stalwart campaigners on 6 May 2006 with the sad passing of Margaret Fletcher, wife of IWA National Chairman, John Fletcher. Society members will remember Margaret when she accompanied John on his visit to us in November 2003.

A short obituary appears below and fuller obituaries to Margaret have appeared in the various inland waterways publications.

I have written to John offering him the condolences of the Society.

July Meeting

We are pleased to welcome George Fleming to our July meeting, who will be talking to us about 'Waterways at War'.

August Meeting

A reminder that our August meeting, the Annual General Meeting, will in fact be held the last Thursday in July, viz. 27th.

39th Annual General Meeting

I hope to see many members attending for this year's AGM. Just a reminder that all officer and committee posts are up for election on an annual basis so if you would like to contribute more to the Society, please do not hesitate in putting your name forward. You can always contact me first if you want to discuss a possible nomination and to find out what is involved.

After the formal part of the evening we will be entertained by a DVD on the large screen.

Society Outing to the Wey & Arun Canal

We have had an excellent response for the Society outing to the Wey & Arun Canal on Saturday 7 October, details of which were published in the last Newsletter. Maureen has advised me that, if all those who put their names down on the list confirm, at the time of writing there are only two places left! If you want to take advantage of those places, you will need to contact Maureen a.s.a.p. Her contact details are: Email: or Tel: 023 8040 6951. Maureen will be collecting money for the trip at the 27 July and 7 September meetings.


Ken and Margaret Froud, our long-time members who reside on the Engine Arm at Napton Locks on the South Oxford Canal have recorded the most recent series of Carlton TV's "Waterworld" and have kindly lent the Society their tape. Ray Brooks has agreed to make copies for the Society Library and these will be available in due course. Many thanks to Ken, Margaret and Ray.


Gill informs me that the current refreshment rota runs out this month and we are, therefore, now looking for willing volunteers for the new rota, starting with the AGM. Can you please see Gill as soon as possible and add your name to the list.

Paul Herbert

Margaret Fletcher

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The Inland Waterways Association are deeply saddened to announce the death, in the early hours of 6th May, of Margaret Fletcher, chairman of IWA's North West Region and of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Society, at the early age of 57. She had been suffering from cancer and had spent much of the past three months in hospital whilst doctors tried, unsuccessfully, to identify the exact cause. Her funeral, on 14th May, was attended by over two hundred friends. Other than her husband, John, Margaret had no living family.

Margaret Fletcher first gained an interest in the inland waterways on a holiday on the Norfolk Broads in 1973, and developed a great enthusiasm for the canals around her home area in the North West. Soon after the formation of Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society in 1987 she became its chairman, a position she held until her death. Margaret was an active worker for IWA at all levels, initially with Manchester Branch, then for North West Region, becoming region chairman and member of the Association's Council in 2002. Margaret was also active with many other local organisations, being chairman of a Manchester-based architectural charity and a council member of the Mersey Basin Campaign. Undoubtedly, Margaret's greatest talent and success was in the winning of hearts and minds of key-decision makers in advancing her many causes with minimal resources, mostly through sheer hard work, perseverance and force of character.

John Fletcher has felt tremendously supported by all the letters, cards and e-mail condolences he has received, and is most grateful for each and every one. However, as he had received approaching 2,500 such messages, he will find it impossible to thank everyone who has supported him in this way and still get anything done for the charities that he and Margaret supported. Indeed, although he has read all the messages, just trying to remember who has sent them has totally overwhelmed him. He hopes that the senders will understand and know how much their thoughts and messages were appreciated.

Gillian Smith, already an elected member of Council, has been appointed as successor region chairman.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - June 2006

Annual General Meeting 2006

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In accordance with the Constitution, notice is hereby formally given of the Southampton Canal Society's Annual General Meeting on the 27th July 2006 at Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth Road, Chilworth, Southampton at 7.45pm.

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.

June Meeting

Runnalls Davis - "Idle Women"

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We were very fortunate again to welcome a speaker who had such a great deal of knowledge about his subject, the story of the women who stepped in to operate the working narrow boats during World War II.

Runnalls had had a long career with the Foreign Office, spending many years working abroad, in a large number of countries. However, as he explained, having spent so much of his life overseas he knew little of his own country, so he purchased a narrow boat and travelled the canals.

He described how the scheme to employ women from 'off the cut' started on the River Severn, the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the Worcs & Birmingham Canal. Daphne French become the prime mover and Kit Gayford the main trainer of these 'new girls'.

He went on to describe the various trainees (one of whom was Sonia Rolt, the widow of LTC Rolt), and their backgrounds, their first introduction to the canals and the type of boats they used. They obviously were not used to work of that nature let alone the lack of amenities and facilities on board the boats - conditions were pretty primitive, to say the least. Naturally, they were not, at first, accepted by the boat people who had been born and bred on the waterways. Apparently the nickname 'Idle Women' was derived from the initials 'IW' on the trainees' badges. This stood for Inland Waterways but the boat people called them those idle women!

We learnt of the training the girls undertook, the journeys they made to deliver or pick up loads, and the kind of goods they carried.

Runnalls referred to a number of books that had been written by or about these 'boat women' one of which, at least, is in part fact, and part fiction. Nobody has ever written a definitive book about the subject and he has been extensively researching the background and the experiences of these 'Idle Women' in preparation for such a book.

Many thanks Runnalls for such an interesting evening - good luck with your continuing research, and with the book.

I am aware of four books written by or about these boat women: "Maidens' Trip" by Emma Smith; "The Amateur Boatwomen" by Eily (Kit) Gayford; "Idle Women" by Susan Woolfitt; and "Troubled Waters" by Margaret Cornish. These titles are now published by M&M Baldwin as part of their 'Working Waterways' series.

Paul Herbert

Basingstoke Canal

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The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society has secured a sponsorship deal worth more than £20,000 from the banking group HSBC for a package of support for improvements to the Basingstoke Canal and adjacent Country Park at Brookwood, Surrey. Work to improve the bankside alongside the canal and area designated as a permanent park, is well advanced, providing hard surfaced pathways for walkers and disabled access to the many natural features, including reed beds, ponds and woodland, an area rich in a wide variety of wildlife. HSBC has donated £20,500 to the Society towards the cost of environmental works and materials for access paths and driveways to the canal and lock sides. In addition local staff from the bank have volunteered their time on Saturdays and Sundays to join work parties on site, supervised by Peter Redway, the Society's chairman and work party organiser.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - June 2006

Member's Photo

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Boat at Curbridge

Member Colin Huggins' boat at Curbridge (next to the Horse & Jockey) on the River Hamble

Photo: Colin Huggins


Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth, Southampton - Thursday 27 July 2006 at 7.45 pm

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1.  Announcements.

2.  Apologies for Absence.

3.  Minutes of 2005 Annual General Meeting held on 28 July 2005 (herewith) and matters arising.

4.  Chairman's Report (herewith).

5.  Secretary's Report (herewith).

6.  Treasurer and Membership Secretary's Report (herewith). (Income and Expenditure Account for the year ended 31 March 2006 and the Balance Sheet as at 31 March 2006).

7.  Review of Annual Subscription Rates.

8.  Election of the following Officers:-




Treasurer & Membership Secretary

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

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

Note: 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.


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The Annual General Meeting was chaired by Paul Herbert, Chairman of Southampton Canal Society.


There were apologies for absence from:-


An attendance register was circulated and 25 members recorded their attendance. The attendance register forms part of the minutes of the Annual General Meeting.


The minutes of the 37th Annual General Meeting held on 29 July 2004 had been provided in advance to all members attending the meeting and it was proposed by Alan Rose and seconded by Maureen Greenham that the minutes be accepted. On being put to the vote the minutes were accepted by the members present. The Chairman signed the minutes as an accurate reflection of the business discussed at that meeting.

There were no matters arising from the minutes of the 2004 Annual General Meeting.


The Chairman's report had been provided in advance to all members attending the meeting. Therefore, Paul Herbert presented his report, as read, just highlighting items of particular note. There were no questions.


The Secretary's report had been provided in advance to all members attending the meeting. Therefore, Eric Lewis presented his report as read, just highlighting items of particular note. There were no questions. Annegret Evans wished to record her thanks for an excellent programme of speakers during the year.


The Treasurer and Membership Secretary's report, which included the income and expenditure account for the year ended 31st March 2005 and the balance sheet as at 31 March 2005, had been provided in advance to all members attending the meeting. Laura Sturrock tabled revised accounts which included a minor adjustment to the accounts previously provided. The Auditor, Sue Lewis, had signed off the revised accounts. Laura Sturrock presented her report as read, highlighting items of particular note.

Surplus stock from the former Sales Stand was valued at approximately £192 (cost value) and was currently shown as an asset of the Society. Whilst some stock would be used for raffle prizes there was little movement in the stock. The Committee had discussed the matter and had agreed to write off the value of the stock over four years, which represented good accounting practice. That action was approved but it was agreed that the remaining Sales Stand stock should be advertised in the Newsletter and items sold at a reduced price.

Since the Society lost its former sponsorship of the Newsletter it has had to fund the cost of envelopes and postage, which was equivalent to £2 per annum per member. Fortunately, one of the committee had been able to arrange for the printing of the Newsletter, at no cost to the Society. However, it was uncertain how long that arrangement could continue. The Committee had considered the situation and put forward two options for consideration at the AGM:-

a.  Continue with a monthly Newsletter and increase subscriptions (Family £2 and Individual £1) to contribute to the cost of postage and possible future paper and printing costs;

b.  Change to a bi-monthly Newsletter which would halve the postage cost and provide funds to contribute to the possible costs of paper and printing. This would allow the subscriptions to remain unchanged for the coming year.

There was a lengthy discussion of the above options and a number of others were put forward, including the possibility of providing electronic versions of the Newsletter to those members with Internet access. It was the general view of members that the Newsletter should continue to be published on a monthly basis; that views of the membership on the possibility of providing an electronic version via the Internet be sought through a future issue of the Newsletter; and the issues of the Newsletter and membership subscriptions for 2005/06 be considered as separate matters.

There was a proposal from the floor that the cost of refreshments at monthly meetings be increased and it was agreed that the new rate be 30p.

There were no questions on the accounts. It was proposed by Michael Pomeroy and seconded by Andy Berncastle that the Treasurer and Membership Secretary's report and the accounts be accepted and this was approved by the members present.


Following on from the previous agenda item, there was a discussion of the subscription rates that might be charged in respect of 2005/06. A number of members expressed the opinion that the existing rates represented excellent value, particularly when taking into account the quality programme available during the year. It was proposed that the subscriptions be raised by £2 for Family memberships and by £1 for Individual memberships. The rates for 2005/06 would therefore be £18 and £13 respectively.

Upon being put to the vote, there was an overall majority in favour of the proposed revised rates.


That part of the Annual General Meeting was chaired by the President, Brian Evans, who advised that all the current officers were willing to stand for nomination for a further year. No other nominations had been received prior to the meeting or were put forward at the meeting.

The following officer appointments were proposed en bloc by John Silman and seconded by Andy Berncastle:-

Position Name
Chairman Paul Herbert
Vice-Chairman Laura Sturrock
Secretary Eric Lewis
Treasurer & Membership Sec.  Laura Sturrock

The President advised that existing committee members Peter Oates, Martin Cripps and David Townley-Jones were willing to stand for nomination for a further year. Regrettably, Paul Taylor had had to submit his resignation, due to family reasons. The Chairman advised the need to strengthen the Committee. None of the existing officers would serve indefinitely and Laura Sturrock and Peter Oates were planning to relocate to the Midlands in the near future, though they did intend to continue their roles with the Society, at least for the foreseeable future. Other nominations were therefore invited for places on the Committee. Maureen Greenham and Alan Rose indicated their willingness to serve. It was proposed by Alan Howarth and seconded by Sue Lewis that all those nominated be elected, and upon being put to the vote, the above committee appointments were approved by the members present.Upon being put to the vote, the above officer appointments were approved by the members present.

Peter Oates confirmed his willingness to continue as the Society Webmaster and Editor of the Newsletter.


There had been no notice of any other business, relevant to an Annual General Meeting. However, John Silman expressed thanks to the Officers and Committee and Andy Berncastle wished to add thanks to all others involved in the work in the Society. The President wished to place on record his appreciation of the valuable work carried out for the Society by its Officers and Committee.

The meeting closed at 9.15pm.

Southampton Canal Society - Chairman's Report - 2005/2006

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Time certainly moves fast. It only seems a year or two since I became Chairman but now I find myself writing my fifth Chairman's Report.

I hope that members share my own belief that we have had another successful and enjoyable year. We are most fortunate that our membership regularly supports our monthly meetings and also our other activities, including outings. Before I go any further I want to thank all those in the Society who do so much for the Society and also for the support you give me.

On a very sad note we have lost a number of current and former members in the last twelve months and they will be sorely missed. We had to say goodbye to Rita Johnson, Mary Lewis, Robert Walton and Des Townley-Jones. Our thoughts go to their families.

The Society's performance during the last year has been very satisfying. On the membership front, the previous level has been maintained though I would like to see an influx of new members in order to further strengthen the Society. Attendances at our monthly meetings have fluctuated somewhat but overall we have upheld our reputation of always providing a good audience for our visiting speakers.

We have again managed to provide an interesting programme of speakers and other events at our monthly meetings. In addition to visiting speakers our own members John Silman, David and Margaret James, Eric and Sue Lewis and Bob Dukes also entertained us. Many thanks to them. The traditional Inter-Society Quiz and American Supper attracted a good-sized crowd and our own Southampton Team came up trumps again. A very enjoyable time was had in January with the annual Member's Photographic Evening and Competition. We also enjoyed another enjoyable outing organised by Maureen Greenham and, on this occasion, with the assistance of John Silman, when we visited Whitchurch Silk Mill and Longbridge Mill in April.

In May we were able to hold another Society Boat Gathering which attracted the crews of seven boats, for all or part of the weekend, and a good time was had by all.

Society Members have continued their involvement with other varied activities on the waterways, including assisting Peter Oates on the IWA Stand at Southampton Boat Show.

There have been major happenings on waterways in our area. There was considerable concern over reduced funding of the Basingstoke Canal by the local authorities, particularly, Surrey County Council, which culminated in a very successful campaign rally in Woking at the end of May. It is now understood that the County Council has re-instated its current level of funding. Another success was the award of £1.5m to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust by The Heritage Lottery Fund for the Itchen Navigation Project.

Despite our ever increasing running costs the Society's financial position remains sound and I am grateful to our Treasurer, Laura Sturrock, to whom we all owe a debt of thanks.

The Society continues to attract valuable publicity through the waterways press and particularly via our monthly Newsletter and excellent website.

The Committee has worked well as a team, considering our programme of events, reviewing our financial position, planning for the future, and the all the other tasks that face such an organisation such as ours. One of the major issues that has had to be addressed is the future of the Newsletter despite celebrating Issue No.400 in March. We are grateful to Martin Cripps for printing the Newsletter since we lost our previous sponsorship and arranging its delivery even on those occasions when he couldn't personally attend meetings. We also introduced the new initiative of Electronic Newsletters via the Internet.

A very successful auction was held in December raising £150 for Society funds. Many thanks to all those who generously donated items to auction. The raffle continues to be an 'interesting' interlude at our monthly meetings as well as producing a healthy income stream. Many thanks to David Townley-Jones for organising the raffle and to his 'assistant' Laurie Pearce, and to all those members who kindly donate prizes on a regular basis.

Turning to the most enjoyable and rewarding task of Chairman, that of thanking those Society members who do so much to aid our success. As is traditional I will start with my fellow officers and committee members. Despite their moving out of the area, Laura Sturrock continues to excel in her triple roles of Vice-Chairman, Treasurer and Membership Secretary and Peter Oates doubles up as our Newsletter Editor and Webmaster, bringing his many skills to the advantage of both. Eric Lewis puts together our interesting and varied programme of speakers. We all owe these three officers a big 'thank you' for all their hard work and success. Thanks to Martin Cripps for the printing of the Newsletter, to David Townley-Jones for running the raffle, to Maureen Greenham who has become our outings organiser, and to Alan Rose for his valuable input at Committee meetings. Thanks also to our librarian, Alan Howarth, and to our 'Catering Manager' Gill Herbert, and her panel of volunteers. I appreciate those members who regularly arrive early at our meetings and lay out the hall, a very important function.

And so, what for the future? We will be celebrating the Society's 40th anniversary in 2007 and your committee is working on a number of initiatives to mark that special year in our history. We are aiming to book a number of key speakers and 'Day-Star Theatre' had already agreed to pay us a return visit. We are planning further outings and it is hoped to organise some more skittles evenings, which always proved popular. I said in my report last year that the future looks bright for the Society if we are able to maintain our membership numbers and our sound financial position. One of our key initiatives must be a membership drive. I am aware that, for example, there are quite a few narrow boat owners in our area and we need to identify them and invite them to attend our meetings.

It just leaves me to conclude by thanking all members for your continued support to the Society as we prepare to enter our 40th year.

Paul Herbert

Southampton Canal Society - Secretary's Report - 2005/2006

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As Secretary my thanks go first to Paul Herbert, our Chairman, for successfully leading the Society through its 39th year.

Thanks also go to the many speakers who have made our meetings possible. Speakers have included James Griffin of Wyvern Shipping Company talking about his "South Coast Circular Cruise" in his purpose designed and built narrowboat, Peter Atwill relating his experiences as Padre to the inland waterways and Jeremy Cole explaining the work of the Upper Severn Navigation Trust. There were two very different talks relating to the wartime and military use of waterways. Runnalls Davis gave a very entertaining evening centred on his research of the activities of the "Idle Women" whilst George Fleming spoke on "Waterways at War".

Once again our own members must not be overlooked. They provided an excellent evening of prints and slides in January as well as retaining for the Society the coveted Waterways Quiz trophy in December. David and Margaret James visited "Odds and Ends" around our waterway system, Bob Dukes described the "History of the R.N. Cordite Works" near Poole, John Silman challenged us with "So you think you know about industrial archaeology?" and Sue and I gave a slide presentation entitled "The BCN then and now - early 1970's and 2005"

Monthly attendances remain good, which is encouraging. Our meetings continue to be publicised on local radio and in local newspapers as well as in the national waterways magazines.

Another very successful year.

Eric Lewis

Southampton Canal Society - Treasurer's Report for year ended 31 March 2006

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The accounts for the year ended 31 March 2006 are attached for review. The accounts have not yet been audited.


Membership has remained at a similar level to last year but subscriptions have increased a little this year due to an increase in the subscription rates.

We increased the price of a cup of tea and this can be seen in the increased income from refreshments.

The auction was a great success raising £150 income with no expense to the society.

The society received a donation of £30 from the Whiteparish History Society in recognition of a talk given by Peter Oates and £25 from Brian and Sylvia Allen in recognition of Paul & Gill Herbert's assistance in towing their boat.


The Society's running costs have remained at a similar level to the previous year. Postage and stationery are up by about £35 mainly due to newsletter costs. We had expected to bear the full cost of the newsletter this year but fortunately we have had help. The major cost would be printing and this has been avoided by Martin Cripps who has sponsored the paper and printing costs. I have provided envelopes and some postage costs.

Donations during the year amount to £275. These are published in the newsletter but to recap:

Hereford & Gloucester £75
J Coles £75
Hampshire Mills Group £50
Wendover Arm Trust £25
Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway trust £25
Canal Ministry £75
2004/05 donation not made (£50)

We have, once again, spent less on donations in order to retain funds for the newsletter. Also, we changed our policy and no longer make donations when a speaker is a member of the Southampton Canal Society.


Funding the newsletter remains an important issue. Peter Oates now sends a number of newsletters by email at no cost to the society. I have cut back on my mailing list so that we now only send by post to a handful of people other than members. The committee is exploring the most cost effective means of printing the newsletter as we do expect to have to pay this cost shortly.

Laura Sturrock



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  2006 2006   2005 2005
  £ £   £ £
Polo shirts & sweat shirts  
  Sales 24.00     267.10  
   Less: value of stock sold 5.29 18.71   247.58 19.52
   Ticket sales 324.00
   Costs 0.00   310.81 13.19
Brewery & boat trip
   Income 112.50
   Expenditure 0.00   112.50 0.00
Weald & Downland Museum trip
   Income 142.50
   Expenditure 136.60 5.90
Subscriptions 728.00   701.00
Raffle 404.72   448.00
Auction 150.00   0.00
Refreshments 84.24   59.47
Donations 66.50   27.00
Library 18.00   0.00
Interest 7.54   1.15
  1,483.61   1,269.33
Hire of meeting room 382.50 399.00
Lecture fees and costs 150.50 138.00
Equipment hire 0.00 44.65
Write down of surplus sales stock 50.00 50.00
Donations 275.00 325.00
Subscriptions 38.50 38.50
Trophy 0.00 7.50
Postage & stationery 87.59 53.13
Insurance 213.50 215.25
Gifts + prizes 59.50 56.75
Depreciation 8.00 10.00
  1,265.09   1,337.78
  1,299.97 1,368.42
Balance carried forward 1,518.49 1,299.97


Episcope less depreciation 46.00 54.00
Stock (raffle prizes) 92.47 142.47
Stock 0.00 5.29
Debtors & prepayments 249.50 283.00
Deposit account 319.83 312.89
Current account 875.97 659.36
Cash in hand 36.18 35.22
Creditors (101.46) (192.26)
  1,518.49 1,299.97
Represented by accumulated surplus of income over expenditure   1,518.49 1,299.97

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© Southampton Canal Society 2006. Except where otherwise otherwise indicated, information on these pages may be reproduced provided permission is obtained from the Web Site manager beforehand and due acknowledgement made to the Society.

Page created 6 July 2006 - archived 31 July 2006.

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