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Issue 365 - September 2002

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Chairman's Column

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I am drafting my contributions for this Newsletter whilst on our summer cruise covering the Warwickshire Avon and surrounding waterways. It is difficult to concentrate on what I should be writing when so much seems to be happening all around me! However ....... we have a very tight deadline for this Newsletter so I had better keep my nose to the grindstone.

Re-election as Chairman

Thank you to all those members who attended the 2002 Annual General Meeting and re-elected me for my second year of office. During my first year I certainly didn't achieve all the things that I intended to but, at least, I now have a second year to try again. I hope that with the Committee's help and support from the wider membership we can come up with some new ideas and events for the forthcoming year.

Change of e-mail address

I have again experienced problems with my service provider so have decided to change to AOL. Can you therefore please note that until further notice my e-mail address is: PaulLHerbert@aol.com

Change at the Top at the Inland Waterways Association

John Fletcher has been elected by the Council of IWA to succeed Richard Drake as its next National Chairman in November. Richard will have completed four years in the post and announced his decision to retire as National Chairman earlier this year. John has been a member of the IWA for over 25 years and is currently Chairman of IWA's North West Region and is also a trustee of The Waterways Trust.

...and at British Waterways

For those who were not already aware, British Waterways' Chief Executive for the last six years, Dave Fletcher, who was awarded the CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of his services to the UK's inland waterways, is retiring in December. It has recently been announced that his successor will be Robin Evans, currently Commercial Director at BW.

Dave and Mary Fletcher have recently been appointed honorary life members of the IWA and, in addition, Dave has been appointed a Vice-President of the Association.

Additions to the Society Library

British Waterways held its Annual Meeting on 11 July for which it published its Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2002 and its 'Plan for the Future 2002 to 2006'. A copy of the latter document has been placed in the Society Library.

Talking of important documents, I have a copy of The Waterways Ombudsman's report for 2001/2002 if anyone would like to peruse it.

'Remus the Narrowboat'

Sue Lewis's first adventure of Remus the Narrowboat was reviewed in the September issue of 'Canal & Riverboat'.

Restoration of the Southampton & Salisbury Canal?

In the June 2002 Newsletter I referred to a letter received from Society Life Member, Mike Handford, questioning whether there is any interest in the restoration of the former Southampton & Salisbury Canal. I subsequently received a follow-up letter asking for his letter(s) to be published in the Newsletter. This we are pleased to do and both Mike's letters are reproduced within this Newsletter on page 6. The Committee discussed this matter at its last meeting and decided that after taking into account the fact that very little now remains of this former canal and that the Southampton Canal Society is no longer actively involved in the physical restoration of waterways, Mike be advised that the Society would not wish to become involved. However, the Society would have no objection should Mike wish to form an organisation to attempt such a restoration. I have written to Mike informing him of the Committee's decision.

Society Visit to Crofton Beam Engines

It is nearly time for our visit to the Crofton Beam Engines. Please see the item elsewhere in this Newsletter.

Day-Star Theatre

On 3 October we will look forward to welcoming back Day-Star Theatre for their annual visit to the Society. Their production on this occasion will be 'The Moon on the Water'. It is essential that we sell sufficient tickets for this event to more or less cover our costs so please make a special effort to attend and why not bring your friends and make it a real evening out. Full details in this Newsletter.

New Sweat-shirts and Polo Shirts

Don't forget to place an order for your new Society sweat-shirt and/or polo shirt. Orders to me or to Ray Brooks on the Sales Stand.

Paul Herbert


25 July Meeting

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It is appreciated that not all Society members are able to attend Annual General Meetings, so, for those who couldn't make the 2002 AGM held on 25 July, I am pleased to provide this resume.

The agenda and all the necessary supporting documentation, reports and accounts etc, were sent out to all members in advance of the meeting. In the Newsletter following the 2001 AGM I commented that "the 34th AGM held on 5 July 2001 was attended by 25 members, the highest attendance since 1997....." Well, we surpassed ourselves this year with an attendance of 30 members and, in addition, there were five apologies.

The AGM followed the traditional pattern dealing with the minutes of the previous year's AGM, reports from the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer & Membership Secretary (which included details of the Society's finances for the year ended 31 March 2002), review of annual subscription rates and the election of the Society's Officers and Committee. An additional item this year concerned the proposal to establish a Society Boat Club.

Because the reports and accounts have been sent to all members I won't repeat their content here other than to say that the Society's finances remain healthy despite rising costs and we have been able to make some additional donations to various waterways projects.

As far as the various elections were concerned, all the Officers were re-elected unopposed. Martin Cripps and David Townley-Jones were re-elected to the Committee. Laurie and Linda Pearce had decided to stand down from the Committee and there was a vote of thanks to them both for their commitment during the last year. I am pleased to say that Eric Lewis has been elected to the Committee, after a break of a few years.

Regarding the item concerning the proposal to establish a Society Boat Club, there had been a lot of support from boat owning members for this initiative but a number of questions had arisen before the AGM which needed to be addressed. There were further queries raised during the discussion of this item and it was decided to refer this item back to Committee for further consideration.

Following the always welcome refreshment break, which gives members and guests the opportunity to chat together, we were entertained by viewing BW's very professional video 'The Impossible Dream' about the restoration of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which, of course, re-opened last year.

Paul Herbert


Society Trip to Crofton Beam Engines

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A final reminder about the Society visit to the Crofton Pumping Station on Sunday 29 September. Full details were included in the last Newsletter. I have confirmed the visit to the Warden at Crofton but do need to give him a reasonably accurate figure for the numbers attending - so, for those who haven't yet done so, please see/contact me soonest with your intentions.

Regarding catering - just a reminder that it is up to individuals to make their own arrangements, whether for a picnic lunch or to enjoy the hospitality of a local Tavern - but as it is a Sunday, it would probably be best to book!

Any queries regarding this trip, please contact me.

Paul Herbert


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Day-Star logo

The Moon on the Water

The plot involves:-

Dave & Doreen are farmers. They have a dairy herd, a flock of wandering sheep and two grown up sons who live abroad.

Isobel is a single woman who lives alone in a small cottage by the canal. She looks at the moon and the stars when the night sky is clear and wishes she was up there. She also keeps moonshine in a bottle!

Simon is a drifter on the water. A free spirit with a narrow boat, a guitar and a vague memory of the sixties. He writes songs and, up until now, has avoided commitment whenever he can.

They are all 53 years old and all had fine ambitions when they were 19. They were all 19 in the summer of 1969 when man first stepped on the moon and half a million young people went to the Woodstock music and arts festival in New York State.

During the course of one day and night around the sleepy canal side village of Sandy Edge in the heart of 'Middle England' their lives converge in a confusion of guilt, disillusionment and unfulfilled dreams...... and a scary iron aqueduct.

This is the second story set in the small village of Sandy Edge where the pub never shuts and the ducks turn out to be sheep....... but it is not a sequel.

Pete and Jane Marshall

The performers are:-

Jane Marshall

Co-founder of Day-Star. She has appeared in the film Robin Hood and on T.V. in Brookside.

Jane also paints and runs courses on traditional canal painting. A country girl at heart and mad about horses. She also plays the fiddle.

Duffy Marshall

Co-founder of Day-Star and writer of all Day-Star plays, songs and music. He has appeared on T.V. in Watching, Coronation Street, Medics, Children's Ward and Brookside.

He knows nothing about horses and prefers to sing songs in pubs. 'Duffy' is his mum's maiden name, his real name being Pete.

They moved on board an old wooden narrow boat called Day-Star in 1977 and by 1982 they were a touring theatre company.

They now live and tour on The Angry Bull and are based at The Old Stables at Audlem on the Shropshire Union when not touring. Other hobbies include watching fishermen and laughing.

Coming to Chilworth

On 3rd October 2002 at 7.45pm

Tickets: £3-00

To include light refreshments

Tickets available from Peter Oates


Our Holiday Cruise

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One of the items that I held over from last month was this description by Margaret Froud (from our Warwarkshire Branch) of their recent trip around the canals. Thank you for the contribution.

Our holiday cruise began with the SCS Boat Gathering at Flecknoe, where we met several Society members for the first time - a very nice sociable start to our wanderings.

Gradually we became aware there were hardly any boats about - in fact all the way to Warwick we had the wide locks to ourselves. Even BW commented on this lack of boats several times around the system. The only time it was busy was during Jubilee Bank Holiday week - we were then on the Shroppie. Afterwards it went dead again.

The standard of towpath maintenance has fallen considerably - grass has been left to grow unchecked at the water's edge even though paths have been mowed. In some places, especially the Staffs & Worcs Canal the grass was taller than the boat making it virtually impossible to get off except at designated moorings. We don't wish to see towpaths like bowling greens but there is moderation surely. BW are letting themselves down over this, taking cost cutting too far in our opinion.

Anderton Lift was the turning point of our holiday. We first saw this when it was operational in the 1970's - in fact a BBC TV crew were there that day and we were given the opportunity of going up among the wheels on top, and seeing an Anglo-Welsh hire cruiser descend to the River Weaver. Television crews were in attendance this time as well filming Ivor Batchelor bringing his pair of boats loaded with lock gates at Northwich up the lift to Middlewich Boat Rally. Passage is tediously slow, but the whole area is quite a showpiece with excellent moorings on the Weaver.

Other places visited were:-

The Lion Saltworks alongside Bridge 193 on the Trent & Mersey Canal. It is hoped to bring this back to working order before long. A fascinating time was spent there.

Sea Life Centre opposite the NIA in Birmingham requires plenty of time to explore - walking through a tunnel with fish swimming all around is quite an experience.

The Museum of Staffordshire Life at Shugborough Hall has working kitchen, laundry and school from Victorian times with staff dressed accordingly. A short distance away is a working farm with old implements on display, also well worth a visit.

Pooley Hall Colliery Museum at Polesworth we discovered by chance after climbing the adjacent slagheap to admire the view. This has only been open since May and BW are hoping to develop moorings and signs nearby to attract boaters. The displays and videos are excellent.

A visit to Coventry Basin rounded off our eight week cruise. The moorings are very good and the 5½ miles from Hawkesbury full of interest - so different from our first visit in 1977 when a Certificate was awrded to prove we got there!

Plenty of wildlife was seen en route - even a pair of grebe on the Trent & Mersey, but no water voles anywhere. Very sad.

Margaret Froud
22-7-02


The Navy Lark

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Another item held over from the August newsletter was this cutting sent in by Laurie Pearce. Thanks Laurie - I'll let you explain:

This article from 30 years ago was in my current "Navy News" and may be of interest to some of our members.

I remember them back in the late sixties and seventies - they were built as navy vessels to canal dimensions and attended most rallies for recruitment purposes. I once met them on the Grand Union whilst on our way to a Slough Rally.

I notice they refer to them as "barges"!!

Six cast members of the BBC's 'Navy Lark' pitched up to take charge of HMS London and Reknown at the Venice Boat Show Afloat in London.

Sadly they weren't given charge of the real things, but two 60ft barges - the first two members of the Royal Navy's Canal Barge Fleet - which bore a striking, if scaled-down, resemblance to the County class guided missile destroyer and the Polaris submarine.

Four mini-ships were built to represent contemporary naval vessels which could then be toured around British cities and towns with inland waterways where the real thing could never reach.

The third and fourth barges, representing a Leander class frigate and new Type 42 destroyer, were still being built at the time, and were expected to join their Canal Barge fleet later in the year.

'Navy Lark' and real ex-Navy veteran Jon Pertwee also stopped by to visit the Navy's miniature exhibition fleet.

Navy News - July 2002


SOUTHAMPTON & SALISBURY CANAL

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In his Chairman's Column on the front page, Paul refers to two letters he has received from Society Life Member Michael Handford. The text of these is reproduced below.

16 May 2002

Dear Chairman,

Last year 'the impossible restoration' - the Huddersfield Narrow Canal including the incredible and difficult Standedge Tunnel was opened. This year we have Anderton Lift, Rochdale, Forth and Clyde, Union, Falkirk Wheel etc.

Last Saturday a Kington Leominster and Stourport Canal Society was launched. This canal was never finished and is in a wholly rural area.

Everyone knows the greatest benefits accrue in restoration in urban areas.

Why isn't SNS [sic] launching a Salisbury and Southampton Canal Society to plan/complete this restoration? Can it possibly be more difficult than any completed or planned restorations? Even if it is, it's a shame that only one major canal in the country doesn't have a restoration Society!

Go to it! Or is SNS [sic] too lily-livered!

Kind regards,

Mike Handford

 

21 June 2002

Dear Mr Herbert

Can you please print my letter in the next SCS newsletter?

The Kington Leominster and Stourport Canal was never completed. It now has a society.

The Thames and Severn Canal was never successful. It is now being restored by British Waterways as part of tranche two restorations.

The Rochdale Canal had major developments along its line: two motorways, a supermarket and a mill and a half(?) of solid concrete. It now opens (after £35m) on 1 July.

Presumably if SCS is too intimidated there would be no objection to another society being formed?

Regards

Mike Handford


Thames & Severn Canal

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British Waterways, assisted by funding from the South West Regional Development Agency, has bought a package of industrial land at Brimscombe Port near Stroud on the line of the Thames & Severn Canal. The site, once a major trans-shipment depot in the heyday of the Cotswold Canals, is important both historically and as a potential area for regeneration.

The former canal basin is now filled in, but British Waterways and the Cotswold Canals Restoration Partnership plans to re-establish the canal at Brimscombe Port as part of the £82million project to restore the 36 miles of waterway that make up the Cotswold Canals. British Waterways is also be looking at regeneration opportunities at Brimscombe, working closely with Stroud District Council and the South West Regional Development Agency.

The 36-mile Cotswold Canal project involves the restoration of the 29-mile Thames & Severn Canal and the 7-mile Stroudwater Navigation to rejoin the rivers Thames and Severn at forecast cost of £82million.

It is also understood that BW are purchasing the Round House at Inglesham at the eastern entrance to the canal from the River Thames.

Don't forget that at our meeting on 7th November, Bruce Hall MBE, Chairman of the Cotswold Canals Trust, will be giving us the latest news on the restoration of the Stroudwater and the Thames & Severn Canals. Put it in your diary now.


Wey & Arun Canal

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During the summer, contractors have largely constructed the new Drungewick Aqueduct, which will carry the Wey & Arun Canal over the river Lox. However, there remains much finishing off to complete the project, which the Wey & Arun Canal Trust plans to undertake with its own volunteers. The aqueduct is the final part of three phases to cross the river and a road, and provide a new bridge to enable access for heavy plant to an Environment Agency gauging station.

The original aqueduct on this site fell into disrepair following closure of the canal in 1871. The last remnants of the old aqueduct were removed in 1970 to aid flow on the river. The aqueduct will cost about £350,000, the funding for which has been raised from a wide variety of sources, including a Landfill Tax Credit Scheme grant of £49,000 and a substantial grant from IWA.

When the aqueduct is complete, boats from the Trust's trip boat base by the Onslow Arms in Loxwood will be able to reach the already restored Drungewick Lock, which just awaits new lock gates, a distance of 2.5 miles. Most of the adjacent 3.5 miles of the canal to the south, as far as the A272 bridge is already restored or being worked on, so that the Trust plans to have a six-mile length of the canal open within the near future.

IWA Head Office Bulletin - September 2002


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