Newsletter Archive

Issue 489 - October 2013

Skip navigation links Previous Issue
September 2013
Current Newsletter
This month's Newsletter

Archive Index
Next Issue
November 2013

Chairman’s Column

Next Article

October Meeting

This evening on behalf of our members we welcome Elaine Kirby, Archivist for the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust based at Devizes.

In “Why Archives,” Elaine will explain why records from the last 200 years have been kept for the future. A selection of photographs will finish the evening.

November Meeting

Day-Star Theatre will present their play “The Making of Geoffrey Phelps” on Thursday 7th November.

Peter, 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.

Tickets available tonight at £10 each.

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

December Meeting

A reminder that the Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz will be taking place on Thursday 5th December.

As last year’s winners, Guildford & Reading will be organising the Quiz. SCS members will be hosting the evening, with the traditional pre- Christmas occasion of an American Supper which finishes off the evening.

SCS Members: We need you to volunteer for our Team!!

Main Details from the AGM held in July

The cost of a cuppa is now a minimum of 60p per cup.

Subscriptions from April 2014 will be: Single: £16.00 Couple: £27.00.

SCS Christmas/ New Year Lunch

Finally, it is proposed to have our traditional, seasonal lunch on Saturday 11th January 2014 at the Blue Hayes. Please indicate to Angela if you are interested.

Alan Rose

Itchen Navigation Footpath Closures

Previous Article

Top of Page

Next Article
The vandalised footbridge

The vandalised Withymead Lock footbridge. © Marie Keates

Further to earlier news about the Itchen Navigation Footpath, it still seems to be closed both at Brambridge between Kiln Lane and Highbridge Road and also at Withymead Lock north of Bishopstoke.

At the latter place, the footbridge at Withymead Lock was vandalised several months ago as can be seen in this photograph. My thanks go to Marie Keates for permission to use her picture which appeared in her blog at Marie has descriptions and photographs of various walks she has recently made including several along the Itchen Navigation.

The remains of the bridge have now been removed and the process of replacement is expected to take until February 2014 to be completed.

In the meantime, there are diversions to the path described at

New boating guidelines proposed for K & A Canal

Previous Article

Top of Page

Next Article

The Kennet & Avon Waterways Partnership is seeking views from boaters, businesses, local authorities and other canal users on ideas for improving fair access to moorings on the canal between Devizes and Bath.

The Partnership is looking for feedback from all those who use and enjoy the popular canal to help it develop a 12-month pilot project. Among the proposals people are being asked for their views on are:

The consultation takes place from Friday 30 August–Friday 29 November 2013. It has been sent to all boaters known to have been using the K & A Canal over the past 12 months, as well as canal-side businesses, local authorities and local interest groups associated with the canal. Following the consultation, and subject to any changes resulting from it, there will be a 12-month pilot of the plan.

The aim of the Towpath Mooring Plan is to improve access to moorings for everybody, give boaters more confidence that they are complying with their licences, and better accommodate the needs of people who live on this section of the canal.

Further information about the proposals can be found at
9 September 2013

September Meeting

“Water Management” with Adam Comerford and Gordon Osborn

Previous Article

Top of Page

Next Article

20 people supported a very interesting evening hearing about “Water Management”.

Dr Adam Comerford, who studied Geography at Southampton University, is now Group Hydrology Manager at the Canal & River Trust and in charge of the Trust’s Water Management team. Adam gave a presentation to the Society on the background to the complex water resources system of the Trusts canal network across England and Wales. The system has evolved over the past 250 years and now benefits from a high-tech electronic monitoring system for levels and flows called SCADA or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. The SCADA system, which is frequently solar powered, communicates through the mobile phone network and monitors over 400 water levels, 125 lock use counters use and 90 flow points. The SCADA system is also used to control 70 pumps and 66 sluices or weirs.

Graph showing modelled projections for reservoir holdings in 2012

Simulating the range of possible effects of the worsening drought upon Oxford and Grand Union Canals water holdings in 2012.

Adam provided a quick description of the water resources of the system: Reservoirs 51% (CRT has 72 reservoirs); Treated sewage 7% ; Groundwater 3%; Controlled feeders 29%;and Uncontrolled/sidelong catchment 9%. These then are used to satisfy the system demands: Losses (leakage, seepage, evaporation, transpiration, gate leaks, vandalism, boater misuse) can be a significant proportion of the total demand; Lockage (water used each time a lock is filled and emptied); Abstraction (water sales customers) but brings around £4.5million to the Trust; but also Environmental compensation flows. The control of the system is based on the three ‘M’s of Monitoring – Modelling – Management.

The prolonged period of below average rainfall during much of 2011 and into 2012 presented considerable challenges to the management of water resources for the UK’s 2,500 km canal network. He described the meteorological and hydrological conditions that led to the ‘navigational drought’, and how the Trust undertook innovative hydrological modelling to simulate the range of possible effects of the worsening drought, in anticipation of the main boating season in 2012 (which was expected to be a high profile year in a number of ways). Adam explained the sudden transition from drought conditions, that took place in late Spring 2012, and the unparalleled recovery of reservoirs and river flows that followed, even leading to damaging flooding of a number of canals. He went on to describe how the Trust manages flood risk, with a particular focus on recent breach events, and how complex computer modelling has been carried out to improve the understanding of the risk of flooding from embankment breaches and culvert failures.

Map of the Waterways Resources Model

The waterways modelled in the Waterways Resources Model.

The Canal & River Trust strives to be more open and engaging about the challenges of Water Management which is a complex science, with the future pressures adding to this challenge.

After the break, Gordon Osborn, society member and consultant with ABPmer presented a number of case studies undertaken for the Canal and River trust and its predecessors covering a period of 1950 to the present day. These examples outlined the various modelling options employed to simulate and understand the complexity and operation of the canal and river network, including full scales trials, physical modelling and more recent numerical modelling studies.

These studies included the details of the two bespoke models developed for British Waterways, the Water Management Model and the Water Resources Model.

The Water Management Model, which takes in the majority of the canal network, includes; 988 miles of Canal, 3660 Bridges, 2237 Weirs and 964 Locks. The software allows the simulation of water transfers around the canal system to determine the capacity of the canals and weirs.

Gordon finished with a short description of the Resources model which had been critical to the understanding of the Navigational drought, described earlier by Adam.

Thank you to Adam and Gordon for a very interesting and informative presentation.

Angela Rose

Solar voyage to Pewsey saves energy

Previous Article

Top of Page

Next Article

Boater Gary Marsland received a warm reception when he arrived at Pewsey Wharf on Saturday after completing a 1,000-mile journey on his solar-powered narrowboat.

The 51-year-old set out on his voyage to cruise the inland waterways of England, leaving no carbon footprint, in February 2012 from Brinklow, near Rugby.

His 32-foot narrowboat, Merganser, was refitted with solar panels over the cabin roof which provided power to the electric outboard, a laptop, mobile phone, slow cooker and travel kettle.

Mr Marsland, who is now moored in Pewsey, said: “I wanted to spread the word about low-impact living and get more people to run their boats by solar power rather than diesel.

“I had no other source of power and I travelled at about two miles an hour. It was quite a journey, all the people I met had a really positive reaction and the words I was hearing were ‘amazing’, ‘wow’ and ‘really cool’, which was nice.

“Waking up in the morning and knowing that someone might say what I was doing was brilliant was a tremendous feeling. It was trying at times but very enjoyable.”

Mr Marsland, a low-impact living adviser, originally from Stevenage, travelled on the Coventry Canal, Trent and Mersey, River Trent, the Grand Union, Oxford Canal, the Thames and the Kennet and Avon on his 19-month trip.

He said: “Originally I’d planned to do it in a year but I had a few technical glitches on the way. I’ll definitely be keeping the solar panels and I might try to do 1,000 miles in a year next year and maybe get some sponsorship.”

He arrived at Pewsey Warf at 2pm on Saturday to friends, family and members of Pewsey Environmental Action Team (PEAT).

He said: “There was a banner and Iona Hassan and Ffinlo Costain played Bring Me Sunshine on the guitar and violin.”
Thursday 26th September 2013

200 year old canal helps make tea during Coronation Street

Previous Article

Top of Page

Caen Hill lock flight is helping millions of people enjoy cups of tea during breaks in TV programmes, thanks to innovative technology.

The Canal & River Trust have joined forces with Open Energi to turn off water pumps on the historic Kennet & Avon Canal at times when the National Grid needs to ‘borrow’ electricity to cope with major surges in demand. Sporting competitions and breaks during popular TV shows are among the times when the technology is needed, with the canal supporting as many as 10 ‘events’ each day.

The National Grid is unable to store electricity and reducing consumption from large electricity users for a few minutes during ‘events’, by turning off equipment such as heaters and air conditioning units in large office blocks, provides a green and affordable solution. It is the first time the canal network has been used for this purpose.

Absorbing 'excess' energy

Pumps at Caen Hill lock flight, Seend, Semington, Wootton Rivers and Bradford-upon-Avon send the equivalent of 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools back to the top of hills along the Kennet & Avon, after the movement of boats through locks has brought the water down the slopes.

Open Energi’s technology can also turn the pumps on if there is too much energy in the grid, which can lead to equipment failures. For example, when over 17 million people watched Andy Murray win the Wimbledon title in sweltering temperatures, the canal’s pumps helped to absorb the ‘excess’ energy which was, in effect, left on the grid while people were busy cheering Andy and not making cups of tea.

The technology earns CRT approximately £17,000 per year, as well as contributing to CO2 footprint savings.

Embracing cutting-edge technology

Darren Parkinson, from CRT, said: “It’s great that something 200-years old is solving a very 21st Century-century problem. The Kennet & Avon Canal is a really beautiful, scenic waterway, full of wildlife. That it’s embracing cutting-edge technology and doing its bit to help people all over the country go about their daily lives is fascinating.

“It doesn’t affect how people use the canal, as the pumps are only turned off or on for a matter of minutes at a time. Open Energi’s technology monitors potential ‘events’ and sends a request to activate the pumps - all of this happens automatically in matter of seconds at the locations where the pumps are. We are delighted with how the project is progressing. We always say the canal offers so much more than people think, and this is further proof.”

Ged Holmes from Open Energi, added: “Most people don’t realise but every day National Grid faces a constant challenge to balance our electricity supply and demand. By embracing our technology, CRT is doing its bit to keep the lights on and help the UK meet its future energy security needs. At the same time it is cutting carbon and generating income to support the charity’s preservation work, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

The Open Energi equipment works in tandem with the Trust’s own pump control systems to provide a second by second grid balancing service, which does not compromise the requirement to pump water.
9 September 2013

Send your comments to the Web Site manager.

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2013. 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 6 October 2013 - last updated 1 November 2013.

  Previous Issue
September 2013
Current Newsletter
This month's Newsletter

Archive Index
Next Issue
November 2013

This page is valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS 2.1!