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Issue 384 - August 2004

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Time Gentlemen (and Ladies) Please!

Alarm Clock

There has been some concern over the timing of our monthly meetings and, on occasion, we have over-run the period of our hall hire. The Committee has recently discussed this matter and it has been decided that, with effect from September, all meetings will start at the advertised time of 7.45pm If that start time proves unpopular with members the situation will be reviewed. In addition, we will attempt to streamline the operation of our meetings in order to ensure we finish on time.

It has also been noted that the same members are being left to set out the furniture for our meetings. If you arrive at the hall early, can you please assist. Thank you.

Rising Costs

Empty pockets

Unfortunately the Society is being hit with rising operational costs. Many speakers now ask for expenses, in addition to a donation to their society or other good cause. In addition, we will shortly lose the financial assistance of the Hunt Johnston Stokes Ltd which has supported the Society for many years by printing and posting our monthly Newsletter. It is also likely that the hall hire charges will rise. The Committee has discussed this issue and will be recommending to the Annual General Meeting an increase of £2 on all subscriptions. This action is most regrettable, but unfortunately unavoidable if the Society is to continue its operations at the existing level.

Former Sales Stand - Stock

As members will be aware, for many years the Society operated a sales stand for members' benefit. However, sales dropped off, despite the introduction of new items, and a couple of years ago the Committee reluctantly had to decide to close down the stand. However, there is still some stock left and the Committee has decided to use that for future raffle prizes. However, it will still be possible for members to purchase items direct. Details of available items will be published in the September Newsletter.

Society Burgees

Just a further reminder that the new supply of Society burgees has now been received. All orders to Martin Cripps who will be pleased to provide you with a smart pennant for your boat at a modest cost of just £8.

British Waterways Annual Report and Plan for the Future

BW logo

As is usual, the Society has received an invitation to BW's Annual Meeting to be held on 16 September 2004. Enclosed were BW's 2003/04 Annual Report & Accounts and 'Our Plan for the Future: 2004-2008'. Copies of those documents have been placed in the Society's library for members' perusal.

Coach trips to The Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

A number of our members have taken advantage of coach trips organised by Coliseum Coaches, covering a five day trip to the Lochs and Glens of Scotland, which have included an excursion to The Falkirk Wheel. If you are interested in such a trip in the future I would suggest you look out for Coliseum Coaches' advertisement in local free newspapers, or ring them on 023 8047 2377 or look at their website at: (With thanks to member Laurie Pearce for spotting their advert. in the 'Advertiser' of 6 May).

'The Water of Life'

"A unique Festival celebrating the importance of water in the natural world, in our local communities and in our lives". That was how 'The Water of Life', held at St.Mary the Virgin Church, Eling between 18 and 21 June, was described. This was truly a memorable event, enjoyed by many people including Eric and Sue Lewis and Gill and myself. Eric had provided copies of his articles on local waterways, published in 'Canal and Riverboat' for the Festival and those formed part of a display on inland waterways.

Refreshments Rota

Cup of tea

We still need volunteers for our monthly refreshments rota. Please see Gill Herbert at any meeting. Remember - no volunteers means no tea!


We are still finding that our membership is not very forthcoming when it comes to contributions to the Newsletter. We know there are interesting stories out there, so please help our Editor by sending him your items.

"How Clean is Your House?"

Did you see the TV programme "How Clean is Your House" a few weeks ago, which featured a family living on a narrow boat? I have often suspected that this programme is a bit of a set up, as I find it hard to believe that people can live in the squalor so often portrayed. It is difficult enough living in the close confines of a narrow boat but the family and boat in question had to be seen to be believed. It was incredibly untidy and filthy (both very much understatements!!!).

Paul Herbert

July Meeting

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust - Peter Smith

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Hot on the heels of Peter Crawford's talk on the work of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust at our June meeting, we were pleased to welcome Peter Smith, Restoration Director of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust to our July meeting.

As has become traditional with talks on restoring closed canals, Peter first introduced the history of the Wilts and Berks Canal. The main line, which opened in 1810, ran for 52 miles from the Kennet & Avon Canal at Semington near Melksham to the River Thames at Abingdon. Branches also linked the canal to Chippenham, Calne, Longcot and Wantage. In 1819 the North Wilts Canal opened which joined Swindon to the Thames & Severn Canal at Latton near Cricklade. That 9 mile route became part of the Wilts & Berks Canal in 1820. The canal declined in use towards the end of the 19th century because of competition from the railways. Through traffic ceased when Stanley Aqueduct, between Chippenham and Calne, collapsed in 1901, and the canal was finally abandoned by an Act of Parliament in 1914.

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Logo

Restoration, at least in part, commenced with the establishment of the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group in 1977. That Group became the W&B Canal Trust in 2001. Restoration got a major lift in 2003 when the Wilts & Berks was promoted to Tranche 2 of IWAAC's priority list for waterway restorations.

Peter continued by describing the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership, formed in 1997, which includes all the local authorities along the route of the canal, the Trust, neighbouring canal trusts, British Waterways, The Waterways Trust, Environment Agency, developers and waterway related businesses.

Peter described the restoration works currently in progress and those planned, including the challenges to overcome major obstacles on the original route, such as Swindon and Melksham! Peter's slides showed the canal at various locations and the ongoing restoration works.

In a humorous note at the end, Peter announced the official opening of the restored Wilts & Berks Canal on 8 September 2020 by HRH King William V.

Many thanks Peter for visiting Southampton and bringing us up to date with your Trust's valuable work towards the restoration of this important waterway which will form the core of the Wessex Waterway Network, linking the Cotswold Canals, the River Thames and the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Paul Herbert

Day-Star Theatre

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2004 is Day-Star Theatre's 23rd and final annual Waterways Tour. Indeed, the performance at Chilworth on the 7th October will be the last appearance on this tour. So this is likely to be your last opportunity to see Pete and Jane Marshall at Southampton.

Day-Star will still be based on the Shropshire Union Canal at The Old Stables, Audlem, Cheshire. As well as developing their "Rural Tours" and continuing with their "Plays and workshops for schools" and "Roses and Castles painting weekends", they will be working on other new projects.

The play, 'Taking a Chance', centres around one canal side building and is set in two different times. In the summer of 1963 the Profumo scandal had just rocked the political establishment, Kim Philby was settling down to life in the Soviet Union and Ready Steady Go was about to make it's first appearance on the telly. The building is a run down pub and Iris and Cedric are struggling for any custom at all after the longest prolonged cold spell in recent history and a general decline in canal traffic. The pub is appropriately called The Cat in Hells Chance and a lack of road access means that the beer is delivered by canal but unfortunately the canal does not deliver the customers.

In 2004 the building is long since derelict and is up for sale. There appear to be three interested parties who would like to buy the property. However the lack of any legal road access means that the chance of owning a detached isolated canal side property could mean taking a chance. There is the smart, Porsche owning business woman. There is the couple who live on a boat and want a bit of space on the bank. And there is the un-co-operative farmer who owns the track that nearly reaches the building. He says he doesn't want to buy it..... yet

The play flits from the present day to 1963 and back and goes some way to explain the eventual demise of the Cat in Hells Chance pub. It is also about taking a chance but it is worth bearing in mind that to take a chance could mean to take a risk or it could mean to take an opportunity.

Oh yes, the other thing that happened in the summer of 1963 was the Great Train Robbery. Just about a mile from the Cat in Hells Chance pub actually.

Tickets are now available from Eric Lewis (contact details on back page) for just £4.00 (no concessions). Don't forget - this year is your last opportunity for "Taking a Chance" with Day-Star.

Treasurer's Report for year ended 31 March 2004

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The accounts for the year ended 31 March 2004 are attached for review. They have not yet been audited.


Membership subscriptions have increased this year with new members joining. As at 31 March 2004 we have 43 joint and 19 single members.

Once again the revenue from the raffle has increased. This year we made £498, making this our greatest source of revenue after subscriptions.

The visit by Day-Star was a financial success. We put the price of tickets up from £3 to £4 and sold far more, resulting in a surplus of £64. The previous year there had been a deficit of £57.


The cost of hiring the hall went up from £22.50 to £30.50 per month during last year and this year we have seen the full effect of that increase.

Our insurance premium continues to increase.

This year a couple of speakers have asked for travel expenses in addition to a donation which has added to our costs.

Donations made by us to outside bodies during the year amount to £635. These are published in the newsletter but to recap:

Tal-y-llyn Railway 35
Macclesfield Canal 50
Inland Waterways Association 100
Residential Boat Owners Association 50
Cotswold Canal Trust 50
Cancer Research UK 50
Lichfield & Hatherton Canals 100
Droitwich Canal 100
Wey & Arun Canal 100


The excess of expenditure over income for the year was £185 and our accumulated surpluses amount to £1,368. This is in line with the policy outlined two years ago to reduce the accumulated surplus by making donations.

Future plans

The committee has decided to transfer the value of the sales stand stock to the raffle. Using this stock as raffle prizes will be a good way of realising its value as it will reduce the expenditure on raffle prizes. The stock will also be available for sale and Paul will prepare a list of the items for publication in the newsletter.

Review of subscriptions

Hunt Johnston Stokes Limited (and previously Hunt & Co) has sponsored our newsletter for many years. Unfortunately, that is about to come to an end. The committee has considered the cost of paper, printing, copying, envelopes and postage which could become a significant cost to the society. Various ways of limiting the costs are being considered including the use of email rather than postage.

In view of this cost and the general increases in expenses noted above, it is felt to be appropriate to increase subscriptions by £2, so that they become:

Family £15
Single £11


Our auditor, Sue Lewis has audited the accounts for the year ended 31 March 2003 and I am pleased to say that she found them to be correct.

Laura Sturrock


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Polo shirts & sweat shirts  
  Sales 75.50   433.75  
  Less: value of stock sold 69.45 6.05 397.62 36.13
Sales stand  
  Sales   136.80  
  Less: value of stock sold   0.00 89.53 47.27
  Ticket sales 356.00   159.00  
  Costs 291.73 64.27 216.15 (57.15)
Subscriptions 634.00   536.00
Raffle 498.61   422.43
Auction & raffle 0.00   105.00
Refreshments 63.42   46.67
Donations 46.00   14.00
Interest 0.59   4.02
  1,312.94   1,154.37
Hire of meeting room 413.00   356.00
Lecture fees and costs 60.00   50.00
Donations 635.00   430.00
Subscriptions 35.00   35.00
Trophy 0.00   6.00
Prize 10.00   16.99
Library 14.52   13.92
Postage & stationery 33.22   24.19
Insurance 199.25   147.25
IWA Chairman's dinner 33.48   0.00
Gifts 49.95   0.00
Depreciation 15.00   111.00
  1,498.42   1,190.35
Balance brought forward 1,553.90   1,589.88
Balance carried forward 1,368.42   1,553.90
Episcope less depreciation 64.00   79.00
Stock (raffle prizes) 192.47   192.47
Stock (sweat shirts) 23.50   0.00
Debtors & prepayments 357.47   457.50
Deposit account 705.65   705.65
Current account 26.62   169.01
Cash in hand 65.07   163.85
Creditors (66.36)   (213.58)
  1,368.42   1,553.90
Represented by accumulated surplus of
income over expenditure
1,368.42   1,553.90

Michael James Lanigan

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We are sad to report the death of Jim Lanigan at the end of May.

Jim had been a member of the Society for many years though, through ill health, had not been able to attend meetings for some time.

Jim usually supplied some sort of contribution to Members' Night, and those with long memories may recall his 8mm films of a trip out from the Isles of Scilly to Bishop Rock Lighthouse, cruising the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness on a Caley Cruiser, and a holiday on the Douro in Portugal.

A dinghy sailor from young age, Jim was never far from boats. For many years he and his wife, Monica, used a car top dinghy (now in a museum) and there was barely an inlet or creek on the South Coast that they had not explored.

Brian Evans

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Page created 30 July 2004 - archived 18 August 2004.

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