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Issue 418 - October 2007

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Chairman's Column

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October Meeting

We are delighted to welcome back Pete (Duffy) and Jane Marshall with Day-Star Theatre's special compilation programme "What's all the fuss about?". Long-standing members will remember that Day-Star used to make annual appearances at Southampton up until 2004 when they decided to end their waterways tours after so many years. We are very grateful to them for agreeing to visit us again from their base on the Shropshire Union Canal in Audlem, Cheshire, as part of our 40th Anniversary Celebrations.

November Meeting

All members are encouraged to come along to our next meeting when Neil Arlidge will be telling us about the "Adventures of the Tuesday Night Club".

Society Autumn Boat Trip

This is your last opportunity to book a place on the Society's horse-drawn boat trip on the River Wey & Godalming Navigation. This outing takes place on Saturday 6 October. To reserve your seat(s), please contact Maureen Greenham on 023 8040 6951 or by email:

Membership Subscriptions

A reminder to all members that subscriptions are now due for the year 2007/08. As agreed at this year's AGM, subscriptions are now £15.00 for individuals and £22.00 for joint membership. I understand that there are still some subscriptions outstanding for last year (2006/07). Can members please contact our Treasurer & Membership Secretary, Anne Coleman, (contact details in this Newsletter) and ensure their subscriptions are up to date. Many thanks.

2007 Inter-Society Waterways Quiz

Because of our impending extended cruise (which will have ended when you read this) I am having to write my column for this October Newsletter in August! At present Christmas still seems a long way off but it will only be a couple of months between our October meeting and our annual Waterways Quiz on 6 December. Therefore, thought now has to be given to the Society's team - volunteers needed please! Can you contact me (in an orderly queue, please) with your names. Thanks.

Anniversary Clothing

Alan and Angela Rose have been busy making arrangements for our 40th Anniversary clothing, items of which have been demonstrated at recent meetings. Please contact Alan and Angela with your orders (Angela's contact details are in this Newsletter).

Alan and Sonja Moorse

Many congratulations and best wishes to our long-standing members, Alan and Sonja Moorse, who live canal side at Hopwas, on their 60th wedding anniversary on 4 October.

Our President's Birthday

We received a note to say that Brian Evans turned 70 last month. He was heading with his wife Annegret to the Isle of Wight for a week to mark this momentous event - with a picnic at the Needles. We were told that he's not a champagne, five-star kinda guy. We trust that Brian had a most enjoyable birthday and wish him many happy returns.

BW Annual Report etc

We have received from British Waterways their Annual Report & Accounts 2006/07 - entitled "Waterways - Great Value for the Nation". It contains an interesting quote from Tony Blair, in December 2006 - "Over the past few years there has been a very significant rise in the way that people have used our canals and waterways, and British Waterways has done a superb job". What about the DEFRA cuts then? Seems another case of the right hand and the left hand etc....... The report will be placed in the Society Library in due course. We have also received the usual invitation to BW's annual meeting which this year will be held in Birmingham on 17 October.

IWA Review of the Year 2006

The Inland Waterways Association has published its 2006 Review and a copy of that document will also be placed in the Society Library.

Paul Herbert

September Meeting

Reflections of the 50's by Colin Scrivener

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This meeting was full of the memories and the photos of a young lad apprenticed at BSA Tools Birmingham. His earliest pictures were mainly taken on the northern Stratford Canal: the ideal area for a young lad to watch and follow boats hoping for a trip. "Pretty Barges" he called them. He showed us Majors Green, now known as Shirley swing bridge; there were even queue's in the early 50's.

Colin cycled miles to see boats, sometimes hitch hiking at weekends and even taking holidays with many of the "early Campaigners". He showed photographs of trip boats overloaded with maybe a hundred or more passengers - there was no Health & Safety in the 50's.

We joined, (photographically) the "Ivy& Apple" Lowe family with 7 children and he told that he used his "emergency ration book" towards the housekeeping. He also told the story of one early pleasure boat that had a cast iron bath with 3 Primus stoves under to heat the water.

At this time there were plenty of working boats around the system and Colin showed plenty of pictures of these. Among these were photos of boats at the Anderton Lift. He recalled that once he saw sugar in 2 cwt sacks being unloaded there. One of these bags dropped and spilt. He thought it strange that suddenly so many paper bags came out of pockets!

Other photographs included Thames sailing barges waiting at "Starvation Buoy" for cargoes, plenty of working narrow boats including "Clematis" with Charlie Atkins which, incidentally, Peter Oates steered along the Trent & Mersey Canal earlier this year towing "Gifford" which was returning from Braunston to Ellesmere Port.

Colin also told of a trip through Harecastle Tunnel with John Knill. They were part of a long queue of boats and Colin reckoned that he lost one of his nine lives when he was almost overcome by all the fog and fumes.

On one of his trips, Colin met his wife to be Sheila. When they married they bought the narrow boat "Hazel", a 6-plank Bridgewater boat which had been built at Runcorn, with an early Penta engine. After they had had 3 children, they finally moved off the cut.

The quality of Colin's slides was generally very good, especially considering that the original photographs were taken over fifty years ago using "Brownie" box camera. Each slide Colin showed was explained with all the emotion of still being there.

Our thanks go to Colin for bringing us one of the best presentations to the Society in a quite number of years. Thanks must also go to Eric and Sue Lewis for giving Colin and his wife a bed for the night.

Alan and Angela Rose

Purton Hulks

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On Sunday 9th September, four members from SCS with others from the K&A Trust visited Purton on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal to explore and clamber over the remains of the "Purton Hulks". These are a variety of craft beached in the 1950's to protect the bank of the canal at this point from the erosion affects of the River Severn. The craft included the "Harriet" a Kennet barge built at Honey Street on the K&A in 1893. Well worth a visit!

Alan and Angela Rose

NB It's not too late to go and have a look yourself in the company of L P Barnett, a marine historian, on a number of Sundays during the rest of this year. See Waterways Events.

Itchen Working Parties - S&A Time Team

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IWA Solent and Arun Branch will be holding two scrub bashing and investigative working parties at Mansbridge Lock, Southampton, in the Autumn.

The dates are Sunday, October 21st and Sunday November 18th, meeting at 10:00hrs at the car park off the A27 Mansbridge Road west of where it crosses the River Itchen. The White Swan is east of the bridge. Call me on 07729 139765 for more details.

The work is: Manual clearance of brush and small trees from around Mansbridge Lock. Archaeological survey of remains.

Peter Boyce

From IWA Cargoes Newsletter, Autumn 2007

Waterways Funding

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As anticipated by IWA, the House of Commons Select Committee report echoed all the major concerns that IWA had about the funding of British Waterways and recognised the consequences for the waterways. IWA maintains that many of the points raised by the Select Committee also apply to the funding of the navigations controlled by the Environment Agency.

IWA understands that the new Minister is to respond to the Select Committee by the end of September. IWA also recognises that there is a new relationship developing between British Waterways and the new Minister, in which a public commitment has been made to them working together to attempt to resolve the problems identified by the Committee.

IWA additionally notes that there is recognition within many parts of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as well as the Select Committee, of the value of the inland waterways and of the wide number of government agendas to which the waterways make a contribution.

IWA has warned however, that it is now clear that there is no funding from the Treasury to reinstate the previous levels of support for the navigation authorities. It is IWA's analysis that, as predicted by British Waterways during its evidence to the Select Committee, the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement to British Waterways for the next three years is likely to be of the order of "flat cash minus [up to] 5%".   This would leave British Waterways significantly and increasingly under-funded.   There is a possibility of a modest allocation of funds from a separate capital budget, which would partly diminish the impact of ever-increasing cuts.

In November 2006, IWA put a number of proposals to the Treasury, to allow British Waterways to use its assets more effectively.  British Waterways has also explored similar options with Defra, but these have been limited owing to the relationship with the previous minister.

Defra appears to be indicating a willingness to do "everything within its power" to assist British Waterways to make what funds it can generate itself, and to support it with what it can get from H.M.Treasury.

IWA considers that the time is now right for it to adopt a pragmatic approach to the next phase of its campaign, and should concentrate on what is achievable. However unfair, past misjudgements by Defra ministers and senior civil servants are going to have a long term impact and IWA recognises that there is very little chance of any campaigning overturning this situation in the near future.

Whilst former ministers and civil servants have moved on, IWA believes that there is little value in personally targeting their successors, who are proving to be much more understanding of the waterways agenda and this suggests that IWA needs to engage the new administration in a wholly constructive manner.

IWA believes that inappropriate strident campaigning at this moment could jeopardise this new and developing relationship that could allow IWA to influence the ways in which new opportunities could be explored, and it is the "new opportunities" that IWA believes will present the greatest chance of minimising the deteriorative effects of budget reductions.

IWA sees that there are other areas where it is possible to capitalise on the contribution of British Waterways - such as its work in minimising effects of the recent floods, and promoting awareness of the extra cost of the floods on navigation authorities, and British Waterways in particular.   IWA will also remind those in power that the independent navigation authorities, including IWA's own subsidiary Essex Waterways Ltd, receive no Government funding despite their vital role in flood alleviation and control, and in addition to delivering other important contributions to the Government's agenda.

IWA's strategy is therefore to:

Commenting on the development in strategy John Fletcher, IWA national chairman, said:

"This doesn't signal any lessening of our campaigning; but rather a reflection that conditions have significantly changed. We need to recognise that there is a new relationship evolving between Government and British Waterways.

"The responsible choice now is to adopt a more subtle and carefully targeted approach to take advantage of this new development; one that maintains the current high profile, whilst continuing to emphasise further the benefits and public appreciation of the inland waterways and fully demonstrate their relevance in fulfilling key government agenda commitments. IWA is fully committed to obtaining the best possible outcome, hence our revised approach; but should it become clear that no progress is being made, then we shall return to a strong critical lobby."

The Treasury's Comprehensive Spending Review of Government expenditure for the next three financial years is due to be agreed very shortly. It would be helpful if members could write soon to their constituency MPs to ask them either to ask a Parliamentary Question or to write to the waterways minister Jonathan Shaw MP, raising inland waterways concerns that have emerged during the summer.

These concerns should be locally linked but relate to a lack of funding for both BW and EA. Issues could range from the costs of the summer floods to the effects of future cuts to budgets, lack of maintenance leading to closure of parts of the system, lack of personnel due to funding cuts.

IWA Autumn Campaign Strategy

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