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Issue 477 - October 2012

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This evening

We welcome Alan Brindle with his very interesting "Magic Lantern Show." So sit back and enjoy Victorian Humour, Comic Strips, American Railroads, and a selection of other plates from Alan's vast collection.

Next Month's Meeting

On Thursday 1st November, Pete & Jane Marshall will present to us "A Night At Blackstone Hall." Details of the evening and play can be found on here.

Pete, Jane and George will be travelling down from their home and craft workshop, based at Audlem, on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Bring along friends and family and enjoy the evening.

An American supper, kindly brought along by our Members will follow the performance.

December 6th

A reminder that the Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz will be taking place as usual at the beginning of December. As last year's winners, SCS will be hosting the evening.

Peter Oates & Laura Sturrock have kindly offered to be the Quiz Master and Scorer.

Also as part of the traditional pre-Christmas occasion, an American Supper will finish off the evening.

Alan Rose

Brandy Island plan approved by council

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Plans to turn a derelict water treatment works site on an island in the River Thames into a marina have been approved by councillors.

Cotswold Boat Hire's proposal to develop Brandy Island at Buscot Weir, near Faringdon, in Oxfordshire will see 17 new moorings built.

The plans were approved by the Vale of White Horse Council on Wednesday night.

Residents, the National Trust and others had objected, saying it will ruin a tranquil part of the river.

The application had been supported by planners but the council had received 348 objections mainly on the ground of increased traffic, noise and disruption to wildlife. There were just 54 responses in support.

Cotswold Boat Hire plans to turn Buscot Mill, known as Brandy Island after a distillery that was housed there in the 19th Century, into a boat hire business.

The plans also include a car park and turning the old chlorinator building, pump house and garage into a visitor reception, storage and boat repair areas.

Villagers 'devastated'

The firm says traffic generated will "have an imperceptible impact" on the local roads and a majority of the site towards the western end would be an "ecological restoration area for wildlife".

"There would be no loss of existing trees or vegetation and a wildlife pond would be created," it said.

But residents say the new boatyard will be an eyesore and will destroy a beautiful area.

Ellen Hopkins, of the Save Buscot campaign, has lived at the Old Parsonage next to St Mary's Church for 30 years.

She said all 200 villagers had objected against the plans.

Mrs Hopkins said: "We are so devastated by last night. We were defeated unanimously. We haven't been represented by our elected representatives. It wasn't so much a vote for the boatyard, it was against the local community."

Brandy Island was compulsory purchased by the Water Board in 1955 and the pumping station remained in use until 1992. In 2009 Thames Water sold it at auction.

The National Trust, which owns surrounding land, also opposed the proposal and had tried to buy the site but its offers were rejected.

Trent & Mersey Canal will be closed for months

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Following the recent heavy rain, the entire 16 miles pound of the Trent & Mersey Canal between Middlewich Big Lock and Preston Brook is at present (28 September) closed due to two breaches. Initial inspection of the breaches have revealed that although one repair can be completed in weeks, the other will take much longer.

The flooding water caused no damage to buildings or injuries, but the breaches are extensive.

The repair to the breach at Croxton Flash will take a number of weeks to complete, but the one at Dutton Hollow will take longer, and could run into months before the waterway is reopened.

Nine boats are stranded in the dry section near the breach at Dutton Hollow, and an attempt is to be made to re-float them, with other boats stranded throughout the length of the waterway, though some have made it to visitor moorings.

To limit potential damage temporary dams and stop planks have been installed at a number of locations throughout the affected area including at Bridge 174 (Croxton Aqueduct), Bridge 181, Bartington Wharf and Bridge 213. The Flood gates at Marbury and Wincham have been closed and locked shut.

However. engineers surveying the situation are attempting to reduce the lengths of waterway under restriction by removing some of the stop planks and/or dams to allow water to raise the low sections, so boats can move.

A Canal & River Trust spokesman says that the opportunities for movement between Croxton and Preston Brook are very limited and asks boaters to remain at visitor moorings for the short term. Boaters who are stranded have been asked to contact the Red Bull office to ensure that it has contact details so that their difficulties are understood.

September Meeting

The Wilts & Berks Canal - Chris Coyle

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25 members and 3 visitors enjoyed a very informative evening with Chris Coyle Secretary of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust at our September meeting.

A former member of SCS, Kath Everitt, came along as well. As some members may remember, Kath and her husband moved to France 9 years ago. Kath now lives near Devizes and is involved with the WBCT as Fund Raiser. We were also able to pick up leaflets ,cards, etc from their sales stand.

The aim of the Trust is to restore the canal to a navigable state from the "Jubilee Junction" with the Thames near Abingdon to the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham passing along the Vale of White Horse and through Swindon.

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust logo

Chris was a very enthusiastic speaker. He began by giving brief details of the history of the waterway. In 1793 work started on the construction of the canal and the route of 52 miles opened in 1810. It ran from the K&A at Semington near Melksham to the Thames at Abington. The main cargo was coal from the Somerset coalfield.

Through traffic ceased when the Stanley Aqueduct between Chippenham and Calne collapsed in 1901 and the canal was finally abandoned in 1914. Now, nearly 100 years later, much of the route has managed to survive.

In 1971, L J Dalby, a local canal enthusiast and historian, first published a book about the Wilts & Berks. This inspired others to consider the potential restoration, and in 1977 the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group was founded with a remit to protect what remained of the canal, and restore short sections for their amenity value. The Trust was formed in 1997.

Restoration will benefit not only boaters but also fishermen, bikers, walkers - indeed the public at large! The hedgerow habitat and a green corridor has already been established through sections of urban Swindon.

Various projects are currently in hand and managed by volunteers at Calne, Foxham, Dauntsey, Wootton Bassett, Shrivenham and Wantage.

Some of the interesting points that Chris and Kath mentioned:

From America a person had sent an old photograph from the book "Tom Brown's Schooldays", showing a picture of Uffington Mill.

Didcot Power Station were only to pleased to offer ASH, as much as needed, to lay over a new bridge, pictures were shown of the ash surface being rolled in.

During a discussion, Chris admitted that W&BCT do not have as large a presence or membership as the Cotswold Canals Trust. He said that they needed to set a higher profile. For a start the W&BCT are moving their main office to Melksham where major work to build a new weir on the River Avon by the former Avon Rubber Works site is in hand.

For more information and the Trust Activities visit web site or write to Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, PO Box 3630, Swindon, Wilts, SN4 4AN.

N.B. The last talk on the Wilts & Berks Canal restoration given to this Society was in April 1999 at the St John Ambulance Hall and Clem Barnett was the speaker.

Angela Rose

Thank you

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Thank you to the committee and members for the voucher given to me on my resignation from the committee. No-one who does voluntary work expects any thanks or reward so it was a great surprise and pleasure to receive such an acknowledgement of the work I have done whilst on the committee. I feel that it is time for new blood and new ideas on the committee and I am pleased to see that others have come forward. I wish the new committee well and look forward to attending events that others have organised. Thank you again for the kind gift.

Maureen Greenham

Waterwheel given top transport award

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Claverton Pumping Station, near Bath, which opened in 1813 as part of the pioneering canal route between London and Bristol, has been honoured with a Red Wheel award from the Transport Trust.

The Red Wheel programme, which is a transport equivalent of the English Heritage's blue plaque scheme, recognises Britain's greatest transport heritage sites.

The Pumping Station was designed by one of the innovators of the Industrial Revolution, engineer John Rennie (1761-1821), to supply water to the Kennet & Avon Canal which acted as a freight route between the two major trading cities.

The principal method of supplying water for canals was by drawing off from streams or rivers, but where a natural supply was unavailable an alternative method was needed. To solve this problem on the K&A, Rennie built two pumping stations to supply water from sources at lower levels. At Crofton he used a coal fired steam engine to pump water from Wilton reservoir, at Claverton he used a large waterwheel on the site of a former grist mill to pump water from the mill pond supplied from the River Avon.

Claverton Pumping Station, a Grade II listed building, is owned by the Canal & River Trust and managed in conjunction with K&ACT volunteers, who carry out all the maintenance and repair work. Today, separate electric pumps provide a regular supply of water to the canal at Claverton, but the historic pumping mechanism driven by a pair of mill wheels still works and is capable of supplementing the supply if required.

Vince Moran, operations director at the Canal & River Trust, which is responsible for the 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, said: "The Red Wheel plaque recognises John Rennie's engineering masterstroke and the dedication and foresight of today's volunteers who have made sure the station continues to operate.
12 September 2012

Day-Star Theatre

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Poster for A Night in Blackstone Hall

When Clarissa De Vere, Britain's popular T.V. psychic medium is accused publicly of being a fake by an old adversary, Dr Thomas Cruickshank who has written many books de bunking all things paranormal, the trouble is only just starting.

They agree to spend a night in Blackstone Hall, the second most haunted house in England. With their careers and reputations at stake each intends to convince the other that they are right. But neither is going to leave anything to chance even if it means a little bit of cheating.

Clarissa's personal assistant and brother and Cruickshank's charming wife are reluctantly drawn in to the conflict and as the night in the infamous Hall unfolds so do the doubts and misgivings of the visitors as well as the secret and troubling events that were taking place with the occupants of the hall during the second world war.

A story of loyalty, devotion and principles... and a bit of cheating.

Another off beat comedy from Day-Star Theatre.

One reviewer of this play wrote:

"This particular drama is their best so far. There's no way of predicting what will happen in this tale of challenge and cheating, ghostly episodes and expositions of a horrible past. The audience was completely mesmerized and charmed."

And a comment about Day-Star Theatre:

"There are many small, fine touring companies now, offering original plays or new interpretations of classic drama. Day Star with its new work and stylistic acting and staging techniques is one of the most intriguing companies around. If they come your way, don't miss them."

The Granary Theatre, Wells-Next-The Sea

- 000 -

So this is one meeting you MUST attend. Tickets are available from Angela Rose or Gill Herbert (contact details above). Tickets cost just £8.00 - where else will you get to see live theatre at such a bargain price? Members are asked to bring food for an American Supper afterwards.

Send your comments to the Web Site manager (Peter Oates)

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2012. Except where otherwise indicated, information on these pages may be reproduced provided permission is obtained from the Web Site manager beforehand and due acknowledgement made to the Society.

Page created 30 October 2012 - archived 1 November 2012.

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