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Issue 453 - October 2010

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Chairman's Column

 
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October Meeting

On behalf of the Society I am delighted to welcome back, Peter and Jane Marshall and the crew of the DAY-STAR THEATRE. We are to be taken back to the year 1954.

After the performance we will, as usual be enjoying an American Supper.

Saturday's Horse Drawn Boat Trip

Thank you Maureen and Brian Greenham for organising this very enjoyable day on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Photos and a report will be in the December newsletter.

November Meeting

Richard Thomas returns with "Remember Remember" - the background of the "Powder Treason" with Guido Fawkes in November 1605.

Also, a "treat for us at the break" - Hot Dogs!

December Quiz

We will again be hosting The Annual Inter-Society Canal Quiz, On the 2nd December.

Last year's winners, IWA Salisbury will be setting the questions.

Volunteers are invited to form our Team.

Alan Rose


British Waterways "to be abolished"

 
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A LEAKED Cabinet Office document published by the Daily Telegraph has revealed that British Waterways is indeed on the list of public bodies, known as quangos, that will be abolished by the new government.

The complete list comprises of some 177 quangos, with British Waterways' name appearing under the heading 'Bodies to be abolished', that also includes that of the Inland Waterways Advisory Council that we had already revealed.

Environment Agency could be safe

A surprise is that the Environment Agency comes under the heading of 'Bodies still under review', and therefore could be saved, but there are no waterways bodies under 'Bodies to be retained'.

The government has promised it would smash the 'gravy train' of the many quangos introduced by the previous government, with their colossal waste of public money on many useless bodies, and their highly paid officials, though in actual fact neither British Waterways nor the Environment Agency are technically quangos, being left over from nationalisation.

'Third way'

Very much is now being made of the 'third way', by the use of volunteers to take the jobs of British Waterways' staff, but this appears to many, and especially to narrowboatworld contributors to be a retrograde step, leaving the welfare of a 200 years old system in the hands of untrained amateurs.

British Waterways Chief Executive Robin Evans has been quick to attempt to quell his staff's concerns:

"You may have heard news reports this morning that British Waterways is one of the public bodies facing the axe as part of next month's government spending review. This is part of the inevitable speculation that happens before such reviews.

"I know this is unsettling and so I want to share with you what I believe will happen - based on close discussion with ministers and officials.

"The Westminster government is very close to making a firm decision to go ahead with our proposal to move BW's waterways into a charity. We expect an announcement about that in more detail next month. This would be a tremendous result for us as it adopts the strategy we have argued for during the last 18 months.

"Clearly there are still a great many areas to look at before a major move like this can take place: The new trust will need governance structures put into place and the level of future government funding through a contract will need to be agreed. Defra is looking at the possible inclusion of EA navigations and the Scottish government will want to consider the inclusion of Scottish waterways."

However the Environment Agency refused to drawn, offering no comment.

www.narrowboatworld.com 24 September 2010


Insight on lost Wilts and Berks Canal

 
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Never-before seen images are revealed in a new book about a forgotten canal that once linked Chippenham and Calne.

Wilts and Berks Canal Revisited offers a glimpse into the history of the waterway, which was abandoned a century ago, with photographs of England's bridge in the 1890s and Deep Cutting Bridge in the 1960s.

The 128-page paperback contains 180 images and chairman of the Melksham, Chippenham and Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Rob Jones is delighted with the content.

He said: "We hope it will inspire even more people to learn about this formerly forgotten piece of local history, and the important part it played in the development of this town.

"We hope this book will persuade them to pause and reflect on what has been lost, and perhaps inspire them to work with us to bring it back to life."

There is a growing campaign to restore the link, particularly for its potential to encourage tourism. However, obstacles remain.

Wilts & Berks Canal Revisited, compiled by Doug Small, and published by The History Press Ltd, is available from bookshops or via www.thehistorypress.co.uk

www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk 26 September 2010


September Meeting

 
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The Sparrow Hawk - Dennis Bright

Dennis Bright, on his sixth visit to the Society, put forward a controversial but well presented case history of his experiences of the Sparrow Hawk, interlaced with his usual sense of humour.

In the 1970's, many bird populations dropped possibly due to pesticides and shooting. The number of Sparrow Hawks dropped dramatically and they were re-introduced.

Back in July 2008, Dennis raised the issue of the declining number of small birds in our own area due to the growing number of Sparrow Hawks. Since then, their numbers have grown to over 40,000 pairs in the UK, each requiring 3 meals a day, more when feeding their young!

He recalled feeding his garden birds when a Sparrow Hawk flew in low and fast, taking a wood pigeon out. Later the "Famous" Robin was no longer around.

Of course Jays and Magpies are also fledgling and egg thieves!

Dennis is frustrated that the wildlife documentaries, such as Country File, do not recognise the damage the Sparrow Hawk has done to our native birds.

One of our members asked about the re-introduction of the Red Kite around the M40 area. Apparently they do not take down birds in flight they only clean up the remains.

His superb photography showed a "Piebald Blackbird", Blue Tits who were step parents to 11 eggs! We all remember the Mistle Thrush nest in the crane jib at the salvage yard and seeing the flocks of Starlings on the cranes in the Docks.

We ourselves have taken notice birds of around our garden and found a mud lined nest of a Song Thrush.

Alan and Angela Rose


K&A Canal Trust cash crisis

 
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Cash strapped Trust makes General Manager part time, cuts staff and launches a new fundraising drive in a desperate bid to balance the books

By Bob Naylor

At a K&A Canal Trust Council meeting last week the departure of the chairman who had been in post for less than nine months was announced - and Treasurer, Neil Lethby, told Trustees that extreme measures must be taken to try to reverse the Trust's deepening financial crisis.

For the past five successive years the Trust has made huge financial losses - and the forecast is that without drastic measures it will not break-even this year.

A survival strategy was agreed by Trust Council that involves the General Manager working part-time, the warden and shop/café manager at Crofton not being replaced when they leave later this year and the Trust Honorary Magazine Editor, Alan Whitewick, taking responsibility for fundraising at least £1000 a month. He aims to recruit a team that will include two members from each of the Trust's seven branches to run this fundraising campaign so that the K&A Canal Trust can fulfill its mission to protect, enhance and promote the waterway.

This new fundraising initiative comes less than a year after the Trust launched Membership Plus, a major fundraising campaign headed up by Trustee Terry Kemp that set an ambitious target of raising £100,000 from contributions and by recruiting new members.

The K&A Canal Trust's financial problems have come to a head at a time when British Waterways has formed a partnership with the Trust to run a pilot scheme on the K&A for its plans to become a 3rd Sector organisation.

BW aims to become what would in effect be a 'national trust for the waterways' - with greater involvement from local communities and organisations in the running of the country's canals and rivers and a greater emphasis on volunteer labour for maintenance.

David Rees, the recently departed K&A Canal Trust Chairman, was to have headed up the Local Waterways Partnership that will run the K&A Canal.

The Partnership meets for the first time in two weeks time and the pilot scheme will run for 18 months with meetings every six to eight weeks at locations along the K&A Canal.

http://kacanaltimes.blogspot.com


BW to lead the way in hulks salvation

 
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The Friends of Purton are overjoyed at the news that after 12 years of delicate negotiations, the Purton Hulks have been formally adopted by British Waterways, who have taken the pro-active step of registering ownership of the land encompassing the hulks.

In a recently released statement, Mr Brian Casey of BW formally acknowledged that "This land has been registered and is in British Waterways ownership." Further more Mr Casey went on to advise "We have checked our records, cross referenced these with the Land Registry and can confirm that BW now own the land on which the Hulks sit."

The Harriett

The Harriett

Upon hearing the news. the elated Friends of Purton Chairman Paul Barnett stared, "This is a great day for these last remnants of our maritime history. For too many years we have witnessed our heritage being habitually destroyed by vandalism and arson. Now, at last, British Waterways, by taking this monumental decision, have embraced the challenge to ensure that these few remaining relics to are to be given a fighting chance. We therefore applaud BW and welcome the chance to strengthen existing ties with the land owner for the benefit of the regions heritage and tourism."

The news comes in the wake of an announcement earlier this year that the site's last remaining Kennet built canal boat Harriett has been afforded legal protection as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Initial indications are, that now the ownership of the site has been recorded with English Heritage, Natural England and the County Archaeologists, there will be little in the way to prevent the site from being registered as an assemblage worthy of further designation and protection.

www.friendsofpurton.org.uk


21st Century Canal Engineering at its Finest

 
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Poster for talk

Scotland's Falkirk Wheel renewed the link between the Union and Forth & Clyde Canals. It involved the construction of a unique rotating boatlift, aqueduct and tunnel to negotiate a 35-metre change in levels.

This is a unique opportunity to learn how architectural imagination and engineering ingenuity created a working sculpture and Scotland's most unusual tourist attraction.

Professor Ric Russell OBE, the man responsible for its innovative concept, presents a fascinating and inspirational story at Stroud Subscription Rooms.

Cotswold Canals Trust's Chief Executive Ken Burgin will then describe England's own inspiring waterway restoration... the link between the Thames and Severn.

Stroud Subscription Rooms at 7.30pm, Thursday 28th October 2010 (Doors & Bar 7pm)

Tickets: £7 in advance, £9 on the door, CCT members £5, Bookings of parties of 10+, £6 per person. Available from: Cotswold Canals Trust Visitor Centre, Bell House, Wallbridge Lock, Stroud, GL5 3JS, Tel: 01453 752 568; Heritage Centre, Church Lane, Saul, GL2 7LA; or Subscription Rooms Box Office Tel: 01453 760 900 or online at www.subscriptionrooms.org.uk


World's oldest steamship returns to London

 
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The Robin under tow

SS Robin, the world's oldest complete steamship, arrived at the Port of Tilbury on Saturday 18th September after London's principal trading port stepped in to offer the newly restored ship a home.

After successfully completing two years of major conservation works the historic ship left Lowestoft on Friday 17th, arriving at Tilbury the next day. After being delayed by adverse weather conditions since Sunday 12th September, London's SS Robin arrived back on the River Thames having celebrated its 120th anniversary on Thursday.

The £1.9m programme of conservation works, funded by Crossrail, was completed on SS Robin this summer, converting the 1890 built ship into a dynamic floating museum for 21st Century London. She is regarded as one of the most important British built ships.

Before it reaches the capital, the SS Robin has been given a temporary home by Forth Ports PLC, owners of the Port of Tilbury, while the Trust which owns it evaluates options for its future base in the capital.

www.maritimejournal.com


Skittles Evening

 
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Following our popular skittles evening earlier in the year, Maureen is organising another at the same venue:

The Phoenix Inn, Twyford - Friday 19 November 2010 - £10.50 to include food and small prizes.

Please indicate your interest to Maureen as soon as possible at the October meeting or email maureen.greenham@talktalk.net or telephone 02380 406951. Money for the evening will be collected at the October meeting and your food choices can be made then also.


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Page created 8 October 2010 - archived 5 November 2010.

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