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Issue 427 - July 2008

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Chairman's Column

 
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July Meeting

We are delighted to welcome back Dennis Bright. This month Dennis, who has visited us on a number of occasions, will be presenting his programme about 'Wild West Wales'.

Purton Barge Graveyard & the IWA Salisbury Group

Just a further reminder that the IWA Salisbury Group will be visiting the Purton Barge Graveyard on Sunday 6 July. If you would like to join in that visit, please contact Ron and Myra Glover or Jon Van de Geer.

Anniversary Clothing

Sales of the Society's 40th Anniversary clothing have been most successful and the range includes Polo and Sweat Shirts and Fleeces. Angela and Alan have samples available at most meetings.

Day-Star Theatre

Tickets for Day-Star Theatre's production of 'Put That Light Out', which will be staged at Chilworth on 2 October, are now available from our Secretary, Angela Rose, priced at £7.00 each.

2008 Annual General Meeting

At our next meeting, on 31 July, the Society will be holding its 41st Annual General Meeting, together with supporting programme. Normally, this issue of the Newsletter would contain the documentation for the AGM but this will now be re-produced in the next issue. Can those members who receive their Newsletters via email, please print off that August Newsletter and bring it to the AGM. This will avoid additional printing cost for the Society.

Paul Herbert


Cotswold Canals

 
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On 5th June, Stroud District Council voted to step into the breach left by British Waterways' withdrawal from restoration work on the Cotswold Canals. Councillors decided to apply as lead partner to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the original £12m allocated to the restoration for the canal from Saul Junction to Brimscombe Port in Stroud. This allocation was put on hold when British Waterways unexpectedly withdrew as lead partner in February 2008. 33 Councillors voted in favour of taking the lead in the project; 3 voted against and 3 abstained. At a public meeting held in Gloucester on 14th June, Robin Evans, Chief Executive of British Waterways, confirmed that should the application be successful then BW would transfer its lease on the Stroudwater Navigation to Stroud District Council.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - July 2008


River Thames

 
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The Environment Agency has announced that, following representations from its Thames lockkeepers, their trade union, MPs, IWA and other waterway user groups, and consequent to a meeting with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Minister Phil Woolas and MPs Martin Salter and Theresa May, the Agency has put on hold any changes proposed by the lock house review (i.e. any new sales and leases) until it has completed a full review of its waterways-staff roles and responsibilities, and terms and conditions.

The Agency has agreed that no action will be taken to sell or rent lock houses until these negotiations on the full review are completed. It anticipates that this will take about six months but has agreed not to sell or lease any lock houses until all negotiations are completed or 1st January, 2009, whichever is latest. The Agency will then review the position on lock houses with lock-keepers and their representatives and with the MPs group.

Prior to this announcement, which was made on 20th June, the Agency had, on 17th June, conceded that, despite lobbying, it still intend to sell six houses. Four of these were not on the lock site and the other two were the second house on the site. It then considered that it would rent out the further 16 properties, that it does not need for its operations, when they become vacant, and was confident that this can be done while still maintaining a good level of service on the river.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - July 2008


Kennet & Avon Canal

 
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British Waterways and many Kennet & Avon Canal users alike have been concerned for some time at the high levels of licence evasion on the Canal, particularly in some known areas. In November 2007 the evasion rate along the whole waterway was 11.5%, although it has now reduced since that date. The process of removing unlicensed boats can be expensive in terms of administrative staff, external solicitors and operational staff supported by specialist contractors and equipment to remove vessels from the water when the legal process is completed. Once removed from the water craft surveyors are employed and boats stored for at least six weeks in secure premises prior to being sold or destroyed. The cost of these processes has to be met from budgets that would otherwise be spent on canal infrastructure and facility maintenance or improvement, and having to tackle the high-level of licence evasion is therefore to the detriment of all licence paying craft owners and other waterway users.

As a next stage to reduce craft licence evasion, BW proposes that the locks at each end of the Canal (Hanham Lock at the western end, and County Lock, or another nearby, at the eastern end) would be staffed such that unlicensed craft are not permitted onto the Canal. Staff at the locks would also sell licences to those arriving without one. This would be supported by the random manning of other locks from time to time with licence checks. Where such checks were performed by lockkeepers, the policy would be one of "no licence, no passage". The consequence of staffing locks at either end of the Canal would be that opening hours would be introduced with the locks being secured each evening and reopened the following morning. Opening hours at either end of the canal would be 9a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to October and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from November to March. BW is currently undertaking a formal consultation on these proposed arrangements.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - June 2008


June Meeting

Bob Dukes - "Silk: Myth and Mystery"

 
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Our talk last month was something completely different in that it had nothing to do with canals. Society member, Bob Dukes, talked about silk, its origins and the legends and tales that have been built up over the years. As Bob pointed out, silk has been second only to gold in causing strife and intrigue, as those who had it tried to keep it and those who hadn't tried to get it.

He started with the legend, from 4650BC, of Princess His Ling Shi who had been brewing tea in her garden when a cocoon fell into the hot water and collapsed, providing a long slender fibre with a shiny surface. Silk was appropriated by the Chinese rulers and the secret of its production was a carefully guarded secret for 2000 years before it began to be traded along the Silk Road, eventually reaching Rome where, again, it was appropriated by the ruling elite - Julius Caesar was the only man allowed to wear silk, although ladies were allowed to if their husbands could afford it.

Bob described how the production of silk was critically dependent upon the Mulberry tree, the leaves of which are the silk worm caterpillars food, and how the process was moved westwards by means of industrial espionage and conquest, eventually arriving in Constantinople in 550AD. Over the centuries the main centres moved from there, first to Italy in the 13th century and then to France, who became the leaders in the 17th century.

James I tried to introduce silk worms into England because of the high cost of importing silk from the continent but was unsuccessful and the industry died out after about twenty years. However, the weaving of imported silk thread, aided by Huguenot refugee weavers, became a significant industry in this country from the 17th to 19th century.

In the 19th century political moves involving first the removal of the embargo on the import of French silks in the 1820s and the total removal of import duties in 1860 affected the British weavers, although some companies persisted in niche markets.

Finally, Bob mentioned the attempts to produce artificial silk over the past hundred years, none of which have quite reproduced the real thing so that there is still a large, and increasing demand, for silk, with current production well over 100,000 tons per annum and probably, like gold, there will always be a demand.

Many thanks Bob for such an enjoyable and informative talk and for bringing along a range of interesting artefacts.

The evening concluded with the usual question and answer session.

(With many thanks to Bob Duke for providing the notes of his talk.)

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. NB: Members will make their own way to the site and meet at Purton, Gloucestershire (OS grid ref: SO692044).


Captions Still Required!

 
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Paul Herbert

This picture, taken during the recent Society Boat Gathering was published last month. Showing our illustrious Chairman, Paul Herbert, it was taken by Lynn Olding and she felt that members might like to suggest some 'quotes' or 'captions' to go with it, as a bit of fun.

However, your Editor has received not one! Surely, our membership can do better than that? So, think again and send your ideas to the Newsletter Editor (contact details on back page) and, hopefully, I'll publish them next month.


Sailing by

 
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Thanks to Laurie Pearce for spotting this in a magazine in his local surgery (although he didn't give a date for the article):

The Belem French vineyards are starting to export their wines by sailing ship - a method last used in the 19th century - in order to reduce their carbon foot print, reports the Observer. Later this month, 600,000 bottles will make their way by barge from Languedoc to Bordeaux, using two canals. They will then be packed onto the three-mast Belem (above) - used in the 19th century to transport chocolate from South America - which will set sail for Ireland. The process will take a week longer than if the bottles had gone by plane, but will save 18,375lb of carbon.



Day-Star Theatre

 
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Day-Star Theatre

present

Put that light out!
Jane Marshall

Peter and Jane Marshall (aka Day-Star Theatre) are returning to Chilworth again this year by popular request.

They will be presenting a new family version of their very popular play for schools about the Home Front in World War 2 on the 2nd October 2008.

This production follows the fortunes of Elsie Roberts, a young mother of two, from 1939 to 1945.

She lives above a butcher's shop near the docks and from the moment war is declared her life changes for ever. Her husband joins the 8th Army and her children are evacuated to the country.

She becomes a crane driver at the docks but she also has to contend with Cyril Bridges her bossy landlord and newly appointed air raid warden.

There is also an insight into life at the local school with headmaster Mr. Gridlington and timid teacher Miss Bagshaw.

There is comedy and song but there is also hardship and tragedy as the characters experience blackouts and air raids, rationing and black marketeering, evacuation and digging for victory.

Pete Marshall
Scene from play Scene from play
Tickets for the performance at £7.00 each are now available from the Secretary, Angela Rose (contact details).

Annual General Meeting 2008

 
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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 31st July 2008 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.


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Page created 4 July 2008 - archived 8 September 2008.

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