Newsletter Archive

Issue 322 - July 1998

Previous Issue
June 1998
Current Newsletter
This month's Newsletter
Archive Index
Archive Index
Next Issue
September 1998

City pleads for new marina

  Next Article
Next Article

New gravel workings could open the way to the creation of a new marina linked to the Chichester Canal, it was claimed at the city minerals inquiry.

There were pleas for both recreational and nature conservation use of new lakes which will be created if workings proposed for the Kingsham area are allowed to go ahead.

But West Sussex County Council said recreational ideas would need to be fully examined, to establish whether there was any conflict with the main nature conservation objectives for the site.

The council said the opportunity to create new lakes for nature conservation was supported in principle by English Nature, the RSPB, Chichester Canal Society and the Environment Agency.

Mr Alan White, representing the Solent and Arun Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, said it objected to the "unimaginative and vague" approach to land reclamation.

"We remain to be convinced that the council has begun to grasp the full potential of the site to provide an area in which recreation and conservation can be integrated into a mutually supportive unit," he said.

If this was managed and operated in conjunction with the canal, it would add variety and interest to the canal and contribute to its viability.

An area closest to the A27 might be developed for marina use, with other areas for conservation purposes and quiet recreation.

Mr White said after the hearing: "We should be looking forward to the creation of an exciting new concept in the harmonising of leisure activities with serious nature conservation.

"But unless there is a change of attitude, not at all apparent from the planners today, I fear that the people of Chichester, having put up with the misery of gravel extraction for some years will be rewarded with nothing more inspiring than a series of inaccessible lakes that will yield little income to pay for their management, and a canal denied the enhanced opportunities that might have been available with more positive planning."

Chichester District Council also called for a specific mention of a possible marina in the north-western part of the site.

"The development of such a marina could partly fund a comprehensive canal restoration programme," it added.

"Combined with a footpath, this could greatly increase recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to Chichester."

Chichester Observer - 18 June 1998


How do we find £500 million for canal restoration?

  Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

The following article by Mike Palmer, Chairman of Waterway Recovery Group appeared in the most recent issue of Navvies. As it raises some fundamental issues, I do not apologise for devoting a quite a bit of space to it.

An undervalued asset

The recent furore about prioritisation has actually highlighted the major problem behind restoration schemes. And that problem is simply not enough cash either from the public purse or from private sources. And before anyone says politics is the problem, I'm coming to that!

You can't have failed to have noticed BW's very effective campaign to show that there is not enough money for the existing network, and you will all know there's nowhere near enough funding to support all the current restoration schemes. As a (not very accurate but rather illuminating) exercise, take the restoration schemes listed in the 'Navvies Diary' in this issue and add up the total funding required to complete them. About £500 million - and that represents just the handful of schemes that WRG groups are supporting in the next few months. Would anyone like to bet on £500 million being available soon, from any source never mind the much-hyped National Lottery funds? I'd rather bet on my brother turning up on time!

And so that is why everyone has jumped up and down about a prioritisation study, because even the most broad based, honest, realistic assessment of the status of every scheme is still going to heavily influence the people with the cheque books and many schemes can see their chances of getting their hands on that small amount of cash disappearing altogether.

Thus the most important thing is for this report to lead onto a serious investigation into how we can drastically increase the cash flowing into schemes. (Either that or make restoration schemes cheaper!)

IWAAC have already started this with their recent report 'An Undervalued Asset' which, in a nutshell, said "Canals are absolutely fabulous and if they were given the same recognition as - say - national parks or museums, then they would be rolling in cash and the system would be safeguarded." A considerable simplification admittedly but that was the main message.

So why don't we get that cash? Well the simple fact is that not enough people care about canals. And it really is a case of not enough people for - no matter how loudly a person shouts - (s)he still only has one vote. What politicians and Whitehall types care about is votes, votes, votes (and I'm not complaining about that - as a system it's OK). To the vast majority of Joe Public (yes, even the ones that walk their dog every day down the canal and say "ahh it's right nice by the old canal, but they ought to do it up a bit more" the status of the system isn't actually something they will consider a voting issue.

And so, with apologies for the lapse into management-speak, what is required is a serious 'broadening of the customer base'.

David Fletcher and BW were very astute in suggesting their 'BW Trust' membership scheme. So many people got side tracked with 'it won't financially work' arguments that they missed the real aim. By aiming for a membership of 200,000 public subscribers to 'A Trust that protects the system', they could go to Parliament, saying not "we represent 40,000 boaters, many of whom don't like us very much" but "we represent 200,000 people who believe the canals are worth saving." That is the whole point of the BWT membership. Yes, on a good day it would make money, but if it only broke even it gave them infinitely more political clout.

This may sound like heresy, given the outcry over cyclists using the system and requiring 5m wide towpaths. But I'm not advocating changing the system to attract more people, just educating more people about the system, and education is the key.

I was rather surprised at a recent staff meeting at work (yes I do go occasionally) to be told that we all had to love our customers (as if I've got time for that!) But in the case of canals it is true that what we all need to do is teach more people to love the waterways. Not just make them aware, but properly educate them as to the unique asset they have. And the thing about educating people about canals is that it's all terribly easy - you don't need visitor centres and interpretation sites, the water simply sells itself.

The problem with even the best industrial museums such as Ironbridge Gorge, is that visitors are just that - outsiders that are not fully involved. You can wander round a few acres of carefully cultivated museum as actors recreate the past at specified showtimes. Contrast this with what has to be the largest industrial museum in the country - the Canal Network. The waterway system is "living history" - where you really can immerse yourself in probably the most important 250 years of Britain's development. All the heritage of the industrial revolution is there to see, touch and, most importantly, use.

You can trace the origins of industry right up to the present day - both the industrial revolution and the social revolution accompanied it are clearly laid out to learn from. Take a cruise up Tardebigge locks and you begin to realise how hard life was on the Worcs and Brum far better than any CD-Rom will tell you. And amazingly, all this is superbly intertwined with one of the richest and diverse ecological systems that this country possesses. You can use all of it and learn as you go.

It is the IWA's and others' duty to promote the network, as it is only if society appreciates its importance that it will be protected. Ignorance almost destroyed the system once - it must not happen again. So to safeguard the network by getting everyone to love, respect and honour it, what must we do? The oversimplified answer is to put them on boats.

So how do we get the Great British Public onto boats? Well it's going to have to take an awful lot of co-operation between those currently concerned with canals and a realisation that there needs to be a genuine investment to achieve long term gains.

Boating (or at least an introduction to boating) has to get cheaper - the IWA Jubilee boat has done sterling service getting ordinary people on the water; with co-operation from others, it is surely time to expand this to longer trips.

Day boats are a cheap way to get people on the water but without safe, regular moorings people get bored with the same section of water. We need to get together to find a way for day boats to move around the system.

BW need to get together with everyone else to work out how we can get more community boats on the water. And we all need to get together to run projects that will prove just how essential and valuable an asset the canal network is as an educational tool. BW are doing some good work especially around the BCN but now is the time to expand that service and it is not enough just to make them aware (that just leads to them finding somewhere new to throw stones). You have to actually involve them - educational packs are not enough. Local Authorities need to give more help and include the canals in all areas of their work be it highways planning or education policy.

And we mustn't fall into the trap of thinking just about boats, all the other groups (BCU, Ramblers, TAG etc) need to encourage ways of visiting the canal that enables everyone to visit and fall in love with the system.

Yes I know what I'm suggesting sounds terribly like "Waterways For All" but I would like to think that this will be a more system-wide movement that is funded enough to not just promote awareness of the system but to actually involve them. And behind all of this must be the understanding that the canals are not to change - they are there for boats and swans and nice things like that. And if you want to get involved because you see it as a new plaything for your motorbike, water-skis or whatever then b***** off and go elsewhere.

How does this all happen? It won't be cheap. Real funding will be required if we are going to convince Dept of Education, Local Authorities, schools and universities that a boat is an essential part of their resources. However that doesn't mean that we can't have a trial to prove the ideas and then campaign for the real big funders to take it on as a national policy.

I realise that all of this is sounding like idealised romantic tosh - "Let's put all the vandals and property developers on a trip boat and soon they will all be voting for the Green Party, campaigning to stop the BNRR, and all contributing to a large voluntary fund to dredge the entire system whilst the Government announces a massive increase in BW Grant in Aid ..." But let's be quite clear, there is currently not enough money to achieve our aims and if we are going to achieve them it is going to have to be found from somewhere. A reassessing of this country's most undervalued asset is the only way to get both the cash and the political will that will see a fully restored and properly safeguarded system. And if we are to manage this then it is going to require some visionary ideas as forward thinking and imaginative as our illustrious predecessors.


Want something to write with?

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

Why not visit the Society Sales Stand and buy a pen there and benefit our funds at the same time? See the detailed advert on page 4. [not included in the archive]


June Meeting

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

Day-Star Theatre paid us their second visit at the June meeting following their successful appearance at our birthday party last year. Always one wonders whether revisiting something of which one has fond memories will be disappointing but I need not have worried.

Peter and Joan Marshall were on form with their performance of their new play. I won't recount the story - if you were there, you will know it already - if you weren't (shame on you) then I won't spoil the story for when you do see it. Suffice to say that, as usual, there were many costume changes as the two actors played six characters between them and told a story about a working boat left to a woman who detested the canals and boats. Our thanks to Day-Star for an engaging tale.

After the performance, a buffet was laid on for members and guests. That everyone thought well of the food was evidenced by the way in which it all seemed to disappear quickly. Thank you to all those who helped prepare the spread.


SOCIETY LIBRARY

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

A very big thank you must go to Tony Fry who has recently offered to store and run the Library, thus rescuing this facility for members from oblivion. I do hope that you, the members, will support Tony and the Library in the coming months.

The committee would also like to thank Ivor Thomas for his kind proposal to store the books which has been made unnecessary by Tony Fry's offer.

Finally, thanks are due to Sue Lewis who has successfully and cheerfully run the library service for the past few years.


Future Meetings

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

The August meeting, as has been the tradition for a good number of years, will be the Members' Slides evening. Please sort out a number of your best / favourite / most interesting slides for showing to other members. If everybody brings a few (maybe 10 or 15) there should be plenty to keep everyone entertained.

In September we will have a talk by Brian Evans entitled "An Evening with our Chairman". I understand that Brian plans to cover such diverse subjects as the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal, the River Arun cruise and boating in Hong Kong. It sounds like an interesting mixed bag. I hope to see you all there.


It's a giveaway

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

- a special offer is being made to all members - all old issues of waterways magazines on the sales stand are available FREE and gratis. You don't often get something for nothing in this world but the Society is able to make this irresistible offer to YOU. Get in quick!!


Events and Meetings in 1998

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

The following is a list of waterway oriented events happening around our area. This list proves there is plenty of waterway interest within a moderate distance of Southampton. Something on this list must interest you! Phone numbers of contacts are given at the end of the list.

2nd July (Thu) - Southampton CS AGM and Waterways Videos. Details from Eric Lewis.

5th July (Sun) - IWA Salisbury Branch are organising a boat trip on the Upper Thames starting at Lechlade. Details Tony Fry.

5th July (Sun) - Chichester Canal Guided WalkWalk and Cream Tea. Starts at 2.00pm at Salterns Lock, Birdham. Details from John Cooper.

8th July (Wed) - Illustrated talk on The Chichester Canal - Its History by Edward Hill at Chichester District Council Offices at 8pm. Details from John Cooper.

11th July (Sat) - Chichester Basin Barrel Races organised by the Chichester Canal Society. Teams of paddlers in spectacular racing. Details from John Cooper.

18th July (Sat) - Mikron Theatre will be performing "Imogen's War" at Geoffrey Osborne's Conference Centre, Chichester (adjacent to the Canal Basin). Performance starts at 8.00pm. Details from John Cooper.

18th - 19th July (Sat & Sun) - "Optimist" sailing for youngsters at Chichester Canal Basin. Opportunity to try sailing. Details from John Cooper.

25th - 26th July (Sat & Sun) - Littlehampton Regatta. Many attractions (including IWA Branch stand and cruise). Organised by Littlehampton Harbour Board - contact Paul Naish on 01903 721215 (office hours).

26th July (Sun) - There will be a return cruise from Littlehampton to Arundel in support of plans to create public moorings at Arundel for visiting boaters. Details from Alan White.

25th - 26th July (Sat & Sun) - The Newbury Branch of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust are organising the Newbury Waterways Weekend. This includes a Canal Fair from 10.00am to 5.00pm on the Sunday which will include craft and canalware stalls, waterway and local society stands, boat trips and various other entertainments. Details from Eddie Middleditch 01635 42041.

6th August (Thu) - Southampton CS Members' Slides. Bring along a few slides and show them to other members. Details from Eric Lewis.

9th August (Sun) - Chichester Canal Guided Walk (as above).

23rd August (Sun) - Chichester Canal Water Fair and Steam Boat Rally. NB Please note change of date from that announced last month. Many attractions on and off the water. Parade for all types of boat; chance to cruise the canal in your own boat. Hire a skiff or ride the trip boat. Chichester Canal Basin 12.00 to 5.00. Contact John Cooper (or Alan White if you would like to help run the IWA S&A Branch stand).

28th - 31st August (Bank Holiday) - International Festival of the Sea at Portsmouth Dockyard. Find the IWA S&A Branch stall among 400 other stands and a thousand other boats. Ticket hotline and information on 0870 909 1998. If you would like to help on the IWA stand contact Alan White.

29th - 31st August (Bank Holiday) - National Waterways Festival, Salford on the Manchester Ship Canal. Details from IWA Head Office 0171 586 2556 (office hours).

3rd September (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - An Evening with our Chairman. Details Eric Lewis.

12th - 13th September (Sat & Sun) - Godalming Working Boat Rally. Details Mike Adams 01483 773512.

17th September (Thu) - Canalside Camera by Jon Sims. Salisbury Rugby Club, Castle Road, Salisbury at 7.30pm. Details from Tony Fry.

20th September (Sun) - Beaulieu River Small Boat Cruise. This will be upstream to the top of the navigation from Bucklers Hard. A launching fee of £6.00 is payable but the river is extremely attractive. A gentle cruise and picnic followed by a cream tea in the village. Details from Peter Boyce.

1st October (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - Black Country Waterways with Ron Cousens. Details from Eric Lewis.

5th November (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - A Small Boat on Local Waterways by Peter Glover. Details from Eric Lewis.

19th November (Thu) - Canalware Painting by Bocraft. Salisbury Rugby Club, Castle Road, Salisbury at 7.30pm. Details from Tony Fry.

28th November - 24th December - Father Christmas Trips daily on the Chichester Canal. Details from John Cooper.

4th December (Thu) - Southampton CS meeting - Annual Inter-Society Quiz and American Supper. Details Eric Lewis.

First Wednesday in most months - IWA Dorchester Group meets. Information Graham Pugh 01305 262305.

Throughout the year - Wey & Arun Canal Trust run cruises on n/b Zachariah Keppel on the restored canal. Information from John Lisk.

Throughout the year - Chichester Canal Society run cruises on n/b Egremont on the canal from Chichester. Information from John Cooper.

Telephone numbers of contacts are:

Peter Boyce (IWA Solent & Arun Branch) 01705 269642
John Cooper (Chichester Canal Society) 01243 671051
Tony Fry (IWA Salisbury Group) 01722 710192
Eric Lewis (Southampton Canal Society) 01703 860384
John Lisk (Wey & Arun Canal Trust) 01493 752403
Alan White (IWA Solent & Arun Branch) 01243 573765


Bits & Pieces

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
Next Article
Next Article

What price canals?

BW staff had to operate short-period closures on the Aire & Calder Navigation above Fishponds Lock during May while the £9m Aire Valley Viaduct was built across it. It is part of the A1/M1 road link costing £190m, or twice BW's essential maintenance backlog.

BW Monthly - May 1998

IWA's Environment Policy

IWA published its draft policy for environmental matters at the end of May. Comments have been invited from all parts of the Association, canal societies, boat clubs, navigation authorities and other interested bodies.

It is intended that a definitive Environment Policy Document for the IWA will be published later in the year. This will then be the standard guidance that all parts of the Association will use in local and national campaigns. It will be strongly recommended to navigation authorities and other relevant bodies.

A copy of the document is available from your editor or Justin Taberham, IWA Head Office, 114 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 8UQ. Comments are requested no later than 31st July 1998.

IWA Towing Path Policy

Following consultation, a new Towing Path Policy has been approved by IWA Council. The document offers guidance when dealing with towing path issues. Your editor has a copy which members may borrow.

Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal Authority's bid for Heritage Lottery funding has been declined. It is believed that this was largely because the project comprised works which were essentially new build rather than the restoration of existing structures of heritage value. This includes the back-pumping facilities at Woking, which were never an original part of the canal, but are needed to deal with the Canal's shortage of water.

IWA Head Office Bulletin June 1998


RESTORATION SCHEMES - THE OTHERS

  Previous Article
Previous Article
Top of Page
Top of Page
 

In the May issue, an article from BW Monthly was reproduced covering the "big four" restoration schemes - the Huddersfield Narrow, Kennet & Avon and Montgomery canals and the Millenium Link. Seven other schemes involving BW that are either in progress or planned are described below. For each canal there is an active enthusiasts' society or trust working with BW to achieve restoration. This article first appeared in BW Monthly, May 1998.

ANDERTON LIFT

Links the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Weaver Navigation near Northwich. The iron and steel structure, the first of its type in the world, is scheduled as an Ancient Monument.

Built: 1875 Use stopped: 1982

Main physical obstacles to restoration: Main structural columns are corroded.

Likely cost: £6.7m

Current position: Funding is needed to progress with the project. Anderton Boat Lift Trust, in which BW is a partner, has a plan to develop the restored site as tourist attraction. It has pledges of money from English Heritage and local authorities, but its bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was recently rejected because the grant rules have changed. A revised bid has been prepared just to restore the lift in original condition, before the hydraulic rams were replaced by electric hoists in 1908. The trust won't know if the bid is successful until later this year.

Target finish date: 2000

CHESTERFIELD CANAL (WORKSOP-NORWOOD TUNNEL)

Originally 45 miles long connecting Chesterfield with the Trent at West Stockwith, only the lower 25 miles below Worksop is now navigable. The seven miles above Worksop to the collapsed Norwood Tunnel are currently being restored. BW does not own the 13 miles above the tunnel - several miles are navigable but housing has been built over part of the route.

Built: 1771 - 1777 Use stopped: Early 1900's

Main physical obstacles to restoration: Lowered bridges, derelict locks, silting.

Likely cost: £4.5m

Current position: BW has been managing the restoration scheme funded by English partnerships and local authorities. As well as restoring the canal and its towpath, a marina is being created out of the former Shireoaks Colliery barge dock and waterside businesses are being attracted. The first mile became navigable in April.

Target finish date: 2000

GRANTHAM CANAL

Connecting Grantham to the Trent at Nottingham, its entirely rural route passes through the attractive Vale of Belvoir. Isolated stretches are already navigable following local authority funding for work by volunteers and BW staff.

Built: 1797 Use stopped: 1930's

Main physical obstacles to restoration: A1 crossing culverted, other lowered bridges, route near Trent junction built over.

Likely cost: not known

Current position: Development as a linear park is being considered with an option to restore to navigation.

Target finish date: depends on funding.

LANCASTER CANAL (NORTH OF TEWITFIELD)

Built later than the rest of the main line, the 14 mile northern section included the only locks on the canal's route from Preston. Even though unnavigable, most of the section's route is used as a feeder from Killington Reservoir near Kendal to the 41 mile pound from Tewitfield south to Preston.

Built: open 1819. Use stopped: about 1967.

Main physical obstacles to restoration: M6 crosses at low level in five places.

Likely cost: no scheme

Current position: Feeder repairs have recently been made to navigable standards.

MONMOUTHSHIRE & BRECON CANAL (PONTYMOILE - NEWPORT)

The original 9 mile Monmouthshire Canal, linking Newport Docks with the Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal at Pontymoile, was already unnavigable when it passed from the Great Western Railway on nationalisation. It was subsequently transferred to local authorities, for whom BW is now coordinating a restoration scheme. There is an 11 mile Crumlin Branch, also derelict.

Built: 1792 - 1796 Use stopped: 1938

Main physical obstacles to restoration: New roads built over parts of route in Cwmbran new town, lowered bridges on other sections.

Likely cost: £40m including some work on the navigable section.

Current position: In partnership with local authorities along its route, BW is leading a project to gain funding for restoration of the old Monmouthshire Canal. The first goal is to restore the Newport end of the route where boats from the River Usk would have access.

Target finish date: dependent on funding.

POCKLINGTON CANAL (ABOVE MELBOURNE)

A 9½ mile rural canal from the River Derwent to Pocklington, it declined in railway ownership. Restoration of the lower 5 miles to Melbourne was achieved in the 1980's

Built: 1815 - 1818 Use stopped: 1932

Main physical obstacles to restoration: Weired locks. But it is important for nature conservation - parts are SSSIs, a Ramsar site and possible Special Protection Area. Any restoration must have English Nature approval.

Likely cost: £2.8m

Current position: Discussions with English Nature about further restoration are ongoing.

Target finish date: none.

WENDOVER ARM, GRAND UNION CANAL

The 7 mile branch was built to supply spring water from Wendover to the Tring summit of the Grand Union Canal. Porous chalk ground resulted in continual leakage and the supply was eventually piped along a middle two mile length. The remaining four miles near Wendover and a mile at Tringford remain in water.

Built: 1793 - 1797 Use stopped: 1897

Main physical obstacles to restoration: Porous ground.

Likely cost: £8m

Current position: BW acts as engineering consultant to the Wendover Arm Trust in their restoration plans. Following a failed Millenium Fund bid, the Trust is seeking other sources with BW support in principle.

Target finish date: depends on funding.


Send your comments to the Web Site manager (Peter Oates)

© Southampton Canal Society 1998 - 2003. Except where 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 10 June 2003 - layout changes 16 December 2003.

  Previous Issue
June 1998
Top of Page
Top of Page
Archive Index
Archive Index
Next Issue
September 1998

This page is valid XHTML 1.0