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Issue 464 - September 2011

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October 2011

Chairman's Column

 
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September Meeting

We give a very warm welcome to our President, Brian Evans, who will show us slides of Cheddleton Flint Mill, & Consall Forge on the Caldon Canal. He'll also include Bewdley and Bridgnorth and the railway between them. May be a bit of Continental too!

October Meeting

On Friday 7th October, Peter and Jane Marshall, in the guise of Day-Star Theatre, will be bringing their excellent production "A Long Weekend" to Chilworth.

Tickets available now £8 each from Angela, Gill or Maureen. The Show will be followed by an American Supper.

Please support your Society, let us have a "full house." Please note that this meeting is on a Friday, not Thursday.

Society's AGM

A necessary and worth while AGM was held on 28 July. This will have helped our Society to continue forward in the present economic climate, in Health, Wealth and Age, it effects us all.

The cheese and wine which followed was much appreciated, thanks to Gill and Maureen.

Thank you to Paul Herbert for writing up all the notes from the evening's discussions.

Future Events

Maureen Greenham has arranged two treats for us! The first is another popular Skittle Evening on the 18th November when we return to The Phoenix in Twyford. Price £10.50 to include a hot meal. Please give your names to Maureen. See Waterways Diary for contact details.

On Saturday 14th January 2012, the Society's Christmas / New Year Lunch at The Blue Hayes has been booked. Fuller details will appear in a later edition of the Newsletter.

Here's to an enjoyable Indian Summer.

Alan Rose


Water shortages mean boating restrictions

 
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Due to an exceptionally dry spring and summer so far, the reservoir levels for the Oxford and Grand Union Canals are close to the minimum at which they can operate.

On Monday 15 August the BW Oxford/Grand Union hydrological unit was recording 33% reservoir capacity. From the following day the estimated current water availability in reservoirs was:

All the above forward estimated capacities are clearly based on usage and on nil support from rainfall.

Some restrictions had been in place since the beginning of August but now become much more restrictive. BW is giving a strong message to boaters to avoid the affected areas and reduce boating activity overall, if boating is to survive to the end of the season; quoted as the end of October, now some 9 weeks away.

At the time of going to press (26 August) the following restrictions are in place (or will be by the end of the month):

In the south west, the River Severn continues to be in drought regulation and water resources feeding the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal are limited. The current and predicted river flows and tide cycles will reduce BW's capacity to pump water to support lock usage. As a result, it will be necessary to implement certain restrictions at Gloucester Lock and Sharpness Lock.

Leisure users are being asked to plan their journeys and wherever possible to share these two locks. Whilst not formally restricting the opening times, it may be necessary to delay journeys on occasions.

BW say boaters can help the situation by "ideally restricting movement altogether. If you absolutely need to boat, please try and avoid the affected area." Boats should share locks where possible and not fill an empty lock or empty a full lock unnecessarily.

Unless serious amounts of rain fall soon, some sections of waterway will probably have to be closed: in particular the GU Leicester Line north of Foxton Locks.

Tim Coghlan, managing director at Braunston Marina, said that Northamptonshire's historic canal network is "grinding to a halt" due of a chronic lack of rain and too many boats on the water. The water level in his marina, he said, had fallen by around eight inches. He said the problem was being exacerbated by the number of marinas being planned along the canals in the county.

www.waterscape.com and www.northamptonchron.co.uk


July Meeting

'The History and Design of the Bailey Bridge' - Pablo Haworth

 
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23 Members gave a very warm welcome to Pablo and his wife Gill. We all enjoyed a very interesting talk and digital presentation about the Bailey Bridge that was designed by Donald Coleman Bailey (1902-1985).

Slides were shown of the busy Drawing Offices at the British War Office. The Bailey Bridge was finally tried, tested and adopted as the Standard Military Bridge in 1941 and proved to be one of the greatest inventions of WWII.

We learnt about the modular, light but strong and versatile steel bridge system. This and the fact that it could be assembled with minimal aid from heavy equipment made the bridge so successful. Most, if not all, previous designs for military bridges required cranes to lift up the pre - assembled bridge and lower it into place. The Bailey parts were made of standard steel alloys, and were simple enough that parts made at a number of different factories could be completely interchangeable.

Each individual part could be carried by a small number of men, enabling army engineers to move more easily and more quickly than before, in preparing the way for troops and materials advancing behind them.

Finally, the modular design allowed engineers to build each bridge to be as long and as strong as needed, doubling or tripling up on the supportive side panels, or on the roadbed sections.

Pablo showed slides of women welding the sections in a factory in West Bromwich. He talked about the type and size of steel used. He mentioned that if sulphuric acid was in the paint it was found to crack the welds.

Further pictures were shown taken in 1942 in North Africa where the first operational bridge was built and from May 1943 in Italy showing the Royal Engineers under constant fire building a bridge in 2 days.

An old movie taken in 1947 at Berwick on Tweed showed a bridge that was constructed 438feet across the river in only 3 days.

Pablo thought that perhaps Mr Bailey visited the Basingstoke Canal and saw the Pyramid style bridge carrying grey water built in 1916 for his idea.

Bailey bridges local to us are Bridge 39 on the Kennet & Avon, bridges at Walton on Thames, Brooklands track at Weybridge, Chertsey at Thorpe Park and at Sherborne on the A357 built in 1942.

A new Museum in Caen at the Pegasus Bridge has been opened with a Bailey Bridge on display, plus other WWII relics.

Donald Bailey moved locally to Christchurch working at MEXE (Military Experimental Establishment). The local Bailey Bridge Pub and the Red House Museum both in Christchurch are worth a visit.

A recent example of an emergency bridge was built by the army at Workington, Cumbria after the floods when a Compact 200 bridge was constructed over the River Derwent.

We received an e-mail from Pablo the next day: "Just remembered, I said that three Bailey Suspension Bridges were built in the last war. Last year Pakistan Army ordered six. I presume to cross flood plains."

Yes it was a good evening.

For further information, Pablo suggested some books to read: "A Bridge to Victory" by Brian Harper and "One More River to Cross" by J H Joiner.

Angela Rose


August Meeting

Society's 44th Annual General Meeting

 
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Nineteen members attended the Society's 44th Annual General Meeting held at Chilworth Parish Hall on 28 July 2011. There were sixteen apologies for absence. The meeting was chaired by our Chairman, Alan Rose. The meeting followed the usual tried and tested procedure and all documentation had been published in the August Newsletter which had been provided to all members.

The Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer & Membership Secretary presented their reports, the latter including the final and audited accounts in respect of 2010/2011. It is not the intention to fully summarise those reports here as members will have had access to the full documents in the August Newsletter.

In his report Alan indicated he had had quite a learning curve in his first year as Chairman and appreciated the support of the Committee. We had enjoyed a varied and interesting programme of speakers and special events and an equally good programme had been organised for the current year. Unfortunately attendances at our monthly meetings had declined. The Society remained in a sound financial situation.

Both in his report and at the meeting Alan thanked the other Officers and Committee Members together with all those other members who contributed to the running of the Society. He also thanked those who donated prizes for the monthly raffle which provides our highest regular income.

The Secretary, Angela Rose, gave a resume of her report in which she thanked the Chairman for leading the Society through the last year and also thanked the other Officers and Committee for their support and members who regularly assist the Society. She also referred to the marketing of Society activities and wider media coverage of the waterways in general.

The Treasurer & Membership Secretary, Gill Herbert, presented her report on the accounts which had been audited. Despite increasing running costs, particularly for increased hall hire charges, speakers' fees and insurance, the 2010/2011 financial year had broken even and at 31 March 2011 the Society's assets totalled £1,226.

The AGM concurred with the Committee's recommendation not to raise membership subscriptions at the current time.

There being no other nominations, all the current Officers and Committee Members were re-elected for a further year. Both Alan and Paul made it clear that they were not prepared to commit themselves at present to continue beyond next year's AGM. Maureen Greenham had already advised that this would have to be her last year as a Committee Member.

Concerned at the falling attendances at our meetings the Committee had discussed this matter and had recommended to the AGM that the number of monthly meetings be reduced to ten. We have not been able to use Chilworth Parish Hall during May (because of its possible use for election purposes) or in August (when it was kept clear for annual maintenance). Therefore we have had to hold two meetings in April and in July. It was suggested that the second meeting in each of those months be discontinued. Following a debate at the AGM members unanimously agreed with the recommendation.

Because of the increasing hall hire charges it was suggested we consider looking for an alternative and cheaper venue for our activities. Eva Drinkwater referred to a hall which, apparently, was free for community use. The Chairman advised that this matter would be considered by the Committee at its next meeting.

Alan Howarth thanked the Committee for all their work on behalf of the Society and for their willingness to continue to serve for the ensuing year.

Following the AGM we enjoyed a Cheese & Wine Evening - the second year running we have held such an event after the AGM and it is obviously very well received.

Paul Herbert


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