Newsletter Archive

Issue 416 - August 2007

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Chairman's Column

 
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2007 Annual General Meeting

Welcome to all members attending the Society's 40th Annual General Meeting. The agenda and much of the supporting documentation was included in the last Newsletter. Unfortunately, it was not possible to include the report of the Treasurer & Membership Secretary or the 2006/07 Society Accounts in that issue. However, copies will be circulated at the AGM.

September Meeting

Next month we will be welcoming Colin Scrivener to Chilworth with his "Reflections on the 50's".

'Day-Star Theatre'

Tickets for the 'Day-Star Theatre' production of "What's all the fuss about?" on 4 October went on sale at our last meeting and 34 have already been sold to date. A full house is expected so please don't delay in getting your tickets. Don't forget, this event is not just restricted to Society members so bring your friends, family and colleagues along. Tickets, which can be obtained from me, are priced at £5 and include the after show supper.

'Day-Star Theatre' - After Show Supper

There is a change of plan this year concerning the supper arrangements following Day-Star Theatre's performance on 4 October. In previous years the Committee has provided the food etc but it has been decided to change to an American Supper along the same successful lines as always enjoyed after the annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz. Wine, soft drinks and tea & coffee will be provided but each member or guest should bring along food for all to share.

Society Autumn Boat Trip

As you will be aware from the last Newsletter, a Society horse-drawn boat trip has been arranged on the River Wey & Godalming Navigation on Saturday 6 October and Maureen Greenham is now taking bookings. Full details of this outing are included on the back page this Newsletter. As 'Iona' can accommodate up to 48 passengers there will be plenty of room for members, their families and friends.

Proposed Society B-B-Q

It had been hoped to organise a special 40th Anniversary B-B-Q this summer but as we couldn't find anyone to organise it and as our beautiful summer is fast running out it has been decided to defer that event until next year.

Tea Time!

A reminder that we have just started a new volunteer rota for our monthly refreshments. Can you please see Gill at any meeting and add your name to the list. Many thanks.

The 'Virtual' Newsletter

Many Society members now receive their monthly Newsletter via the Internet. This obviously reduces our printing and postage costs. However, we are aware that there are other members with Internet access who still receive paper copies of the Newsletter and it would be very helpful if some of those could consider changing over to 'virtual' copies. Please contact Peter Oates for details - or, if you are having problems accessing the Newsletter site.

Paul Herbert


June Meeting

Colin Ward - 'Lots to do at the Soo'

 
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Unfortunately we only had an audience of 22 members to welcome Colin Ward to our June meeting with his enthralling talk about the waterways of North America. However, it is appreciated that many of our members were no doubt taking their summer break.

Colin was obviously extremely knowledgeable about those waterways and provided us with so much information, accompanied with many slides, that I don't know how to attempt to cover his talk in the space available to me. Therefore, I can only provide the briefest outline here.

Colin described how and why canal building commenced in North America. There was very little canal building expertise and, at that time, there was no United States School of Engineering. People had to be sent over to England to view our canals and their boats.

The first canal referred to by Colin was the 363 mile Erie Canal with locks 90' x 15' with a 4' draft. The first sod was cut on Independence Day in Rome in 1817 and it took 8 years to build. However, within 9 years the canal was unable to cope with the level of trade and had to be enlarged. The canal, which was in profit after only 10 years, had to be enlarged again in the 1860s. The growth in trade was incredible - the principal cargo being people! In the early 20th century the canal continued to be enlarged and improved. Commercial traffic peaked in 1960 but the main use of the canal is now for leisure.

Following the early success of the Erie Canal, on Independence Day 1828 work started on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal - 360 miles, mainly along the line of the Pontiac River to reach Pittsburgh.....but....not very far away the first sod was being turned for the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, following the same route of the canal to Pittsburgh.

Colin continued with tales of many other canals and river navigations in North America, right up to the Canadian Border. We heard about the successes, enlargements, subsequent detours and, of course, the decline of the waterways - many of which are now long disused and derelict. However, the USA has recognised the importance of its waterways heritage and has preserved their remains and many museums now exist along the routes of those canals which are now closed, or truncated.

And 'the Soo'? This refers to the massive Soo Locks on St Mary's River in Michigan's oldest city, Sault Ste.Marie on the USA/Canadian Border.

So, with apologies to Colin for such a brief report on his talk but, as always, we only have so much space available for these write-ups. Many thanks Colin for taking us to so many waterways and the beautiful countryside of North America.

Paul Herbert

Members might be interested to note that we have two books in the Society Library about North American waterways - the "Chesapeake and Ohio Canal" and "The Ohio River Handbook and Picture Album" - the latter published in 1950!


July Meeting

Roger Cansdale - 'The Basingstoke Canal'

 
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We were delighted to welcome Roger Cansdale of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society (SHCS) to our July meeting to talk to us about the history of the Basingstoke Canal and to bring us up to date with current developments. Roger started his talk by introducing himself and his various roles with that Society - he is the Talks Organiser, Editor of 'Basingstoke Canal News' and is a Director of the Society.

He provided a general history of canals and their development and then brought in the Basingstoke Canal, how it was originally envisaged, its building and operation and its subsequent chequered history - going through a number of bankruptcies and subsequent sales (including the infamous Bottomley Swindle!) with the many ensuing name changes. One of the strange things about the Basingstoke was that it was always a financial disaster commercially yet it was always popular for leisure use.

The last boat through to Basingstoke was in 1910 and in 1913 there was the closure scare which led to Alec Harmsworth's epic journey attempting to get his boat through to Basingstoke. The Harmsworth family had had a long association with the canal through boat building and the manufacture of lock gates and, in 1923, Alec Harmsworth purchased the canal. In the 1930's the terminal basin in Basingstoke was sold off. Alex Harmsworth died in 1947 and his four sons put the canal up for sale. The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) wanted to purchase the canal to save and restore it but it was purchased by 'their' bidder Mrs Marshall, who actually bought it for herself. However, despite a number of efforts, the canal remained in a semi-derelict condition and two significant breaches at Farnborough (flooding the airfield the day before the Farnborough Air Show) and at Ash Embankment seemed to sound the death knell for the canal.

However, in 1966 the SHCS was formed to commence the mammoth task of restoring the Basingstoke. During the 1970s Hampshire and Surrey County Councils purchased the canal and, in 1978, the Canal Society's trip boat 'John Pinkerton' made its first trip. In 1991 the canal was finally re-opened.

With some excellent historic and more recent photographs, Roger took us through the history and subsequent restoration of the canal.

More recent happenings have included the proposal by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to restore the canal into Basingstoke Town Centre (quickly dropped once the financial implications were realised) and the building of the new canal aqueduct over the Blackwater Valley Relief Road.

Roger outlined the canal's problems today:

The Basingstoke Canal Authority and the Society have been working hard to resolve these difficulties with the priorities being future management options, secure funding and providing sufficient water supplies for year round access. An old idea has also been resurrected - to provide a possible link to the Kennet & Avon Canal via a new Hants & Berks Canal!

Roger finished his talk by announcing that a new pictorial book about the Basingstoke Canal, written by Dieter Jebens and himself, is to be published shortly.

Many thanks Roger for such an interesting talk about our 'local' canal, which was much appreciated by the members present.

Paul Herbert

For further information about the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society visit their web site at: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk You can also access the Basingstoke Canal Authority's website at: www.basingstoke-canal.co.uk


Society Boat Trip

 
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River Wey & Godalming Navigation

Trip boat Iona

Saturday 6 October 2007

aboard the horse-drawn narrow boat

'Iona'

hauled by one of the heavy horses: Ben or Rosie

2 hour trip from Godalming Wharf at 2.00pm

Tickets: £12.00 per person

(includes a Cream Tea on board)

Bookings from Maureen Greenham

Telephone: 02380 406951

Email: maureen.greenham@dsl.pipex.com


Day-Star Theatre

 
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  Day-Star banner  
Peter Marshall Show title - What's all the fuss about? Jane Marshall
Part of show title
Part of show title

Day-Star Theatre with a special compilation show of extracts from some of their past plays

This will be followed by an American Supper

(drinks provided but bring food for all to share)

Thursday 4 October 2007

7.45pm at Chilworth Parish Hall

Tickets: £5.00 per person

Bookings from Paul Herbert

Telephone: 02380 262365


British Waterways Moorings

 
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IWA has launched an online petition in response to the British Waterways moorings tender trial. This action is as a result of the strength of feeling expressed to the Association by waterway users against British Waterways in introducing this trial against the advice of IWA and all other major waterways user groups. The online petition can be accessed via:

www.waterways.org.uk/News/OtherCampaigns/MooringsTendering/MooringPetition

The petition is open to all waterways supporters. In addition, IWA has suggested that members and other waterways supporters should write to British Waterways with their views (Sally Ash, British Waterways, Willow Grange, Church Road, Watford, WD17 4QA). Despite only modest publicity for the launch of the petition, it attracted over 150 signatories within a couple of days, and continues to grow. The petition is likely to be key evidence in demonstrating the unpopularity of tendering mooring spaces.

IWA expressed its concern at British Waterways' decision to proceed with a trial of tendering mooring vacancies because it is unfair to those who have been patiently waiting on lists, gradually working their way to the top and because it is socially unjust, with the less well-off and elderly being priced off the system by the highest bidder. BW decided that, for a trial period, rather than fill mooring vacancies with the first name on the waiting list, as has been the practice for many years on those moorings where demand exceeds supply, BW is to put these moorings to tender. The mooring will then be allocated for three years to the highest bidder. This new process of allocating moorings is to be trialled for twelve months, during which time the existing waiting lists will be suspended, and which is now expected to involve about 400 moorings. BW has issued a briefing on its trial, which is available at:

www.britishwaterways.co.uk/accountability/moorings_tendering/index.html

British Waterways has also announced that for every ten new off-line (marina) moorings, one on-line (towing path) mooring will be discontinued.  For some time, British Waterways has discouraged the establishment of new on-line moorings, which, whilst popular with some boat-owners who have them, tend to be unpopular with many other boat-owners, largely owing to the need to slow down when cruising past them.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - June & July 2007


Newsletter Articles

 
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For the last few issues of the Newsletter, the only contributions I have received have come from your hard-working Chairman. I would like to issue an appeal to our members and other readers for further articles, news items, reminiscences, notes, letters, details of forthcoming events or indeed anything (preferably waterways related) that might be of interest to your fellow members.

Peter Oates, Editor


Drink & Drive

 
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Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman announced on 13th June that the Government is to extend the legal limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, the equivalent to that already in existence for professional mariners and road users, "to those persons involved in the navigation of a vessel greater than 7 metres in length and/or capable of a maximum speed of more than 7 knots".

The Department for Transport is due to issue a consultation on a set of draft regulations later in the summer.  The government undertook a similar consultation in August 2004, to which there was an overwhelming response that such regulations were entirely unnecessary and would do nothing to improve safety on the inland waterways - a view that does not appear to be challenged either by any accident statistics, or by government itself.  It is also widely acknowledged that policing such regulations would be near impossible, and it would appear that any prosecution would be likely only in the event of a serious accident or public disorder, for which there is already existing legislation in force to control.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - July 2007


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