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Issue 501 - October 2014

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In this issue

 
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Chairman’s Column
Bits and Pieces
Chichester Canal Trip
September Meeting
Putting Water into Waterways
15,000 volunteer hours restoring the canals!

Chairman’s Column

 
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October Meeting

This evening we welcome back Geoff Watts with his new talk “Memories of the Great War” in our area, taken from archives, letters, poems and postcards.

November Meeting

Day-Star Theatre will be coming to Southampton to give a performance of “A Bad Penny.” See September’s Newsletter for a synopsis. Pete, Jane and George Marshall will be travelling down from their home and craft workshop, based in 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 4th December. As last year’s winners, IWA 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!! Revision notes and homework will be offered?? (if needed).

New Year seasonal lunch

Time to make enquiries regarding our New Year seasonal lunch. Its early days yet but we are possibly looking at Saturday 10th January 2014. We noticed that the Blue Hayes Restaurant is under “New Ownership” - we will investigate! Please indicate to Angela if you are interested.

Thank you all again for supporting your Society.

Alan Rose


Bits and Pieces

 
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Happy Birthday

One of our founder members, Laurie Pearce, will be 93 this month. He comments that he’s “beginning to feel it!!” All our members, I am sure, will join me to offer our congratulations and wish you a very Happy Birthday, Laurie.

New address

Please note that our Treasurer, Aelred Derbyshire, has recently moved house. His new address and other contact details can be found on the back page.


Chichester Canal Trip

 
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Richmond and Poyntz Bridge

The trip boat Richmond approaches the restored and re-sited Poyntz Swing Bridge

It was a lovely autumn afternoon when 23 members and friends of the Society assembled at Chichester Canal Basin. They had chartered the trip boat Richmond for a two hour cruise to see and learn about the Chichester Ship Canal. The weather was nigh on perfect; an early mist had burned off to provide a still, warm, afternoon.

Accompanying them was Barbara, an official Chichester Guide, to provide a commentary. She made this come alive by not only sketching the history and purpose of the Canal, but by providing anecdotes about some of the characters who had lived and worked along the canal. She herself lives beside the canal and has cycled the towpath, in all weathers, for more than 30 years.

During the outbound leg the crew of the Richmond served up a delicious cream tea, with scones and cakes made by volunteer members of the Ship Canal Society. After an hour we winded just short of the Crosbie Bridge at Donnington for the return leg, when we had a planned stop at Hunston Junction. This enabled the party to stroll down to the site of the Poyntz Swing Bridge, now replaced by a fixed footbridge, to view Chichester Cathedral across the water meadows, a view immortalised in a famous painting by JMW Turner, now in the Tate Britain Gallery.

We saw a variety of wildlife, some of it exotic. As well as the usual mallards, coots, moorhens and swans, much excitement was caused by a sighting of one of the resident herons, perched in a tree and waiting for a quiet period to continue fishing. The canal is also home to a small colony of terrapins, which were released into the canal as a result of the Mutant Ninja Turtles craze a few years ago, and we were fortunate enough to see one sunning itself near the winding hole.

All in all it was a most enjoyable and interesting trip and we thank the organiser and crew from Chichester Ship Canal Society for providing it.

Aelred Derbyshire


September Meeting

Old Photos by Eva Drinkwater and Foxton Inclined Plane with Alan Rose

 
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SCS trip to SS Great Britain

Above: SCS members aboard the SS Great Britain on a Society trip to Bristol photographed by Eva Drinkwater.

Left: Foxton Inclined Plane in 1900.

One of our longstanding and more senior members, Eva Drinkwater, presented us with a selection of her waterways photographs.

We were shown pictures on the Basingstoke Canal with her young boys, raft building, camping, boating and walking along the K&A when John Knill’s goat ate the food from their tent. Also featured was an SCS trip on the River Thames along with pictures of Stoke Bruerne in 1978.

We also heard and saw about a Society trip to Bristol and the SS Great Britain (see right).

Eva also told us of her recent trips to see the Falkirk Wheel and a view of her walking the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal.

With Eva's usual sense of humour she entertained 26 members and three visitors, two of whom joined the Society on the evening.

To take us up to the tea break, Alan Rose showed and spoke about "Wrecks and Ruins" found around the country and pictures taken over a period of time by Mike Beech the Curator of Foxton Museum.

Foxton Inclined Plane in 1900

After the break, Alan was pleased to run another series of pictures supplied by Mike Beech containing the history of Foxton and the neighbouring canals. First was the Leicestershire & Northamptonshire Union Canal. Often known as the "Old Union Canal," this waterway was intended to join Leicester to Northampton and via the Grand Junction Canal to London. Building started in 1793 but the money ran out in 1797 and the canal only got as far as Debdale Wharf, about a mile north of Foxton. Eventually an extension to a final terminus at Market Harborough was opened in 1809.

A new canal, the Grand Union (now called the Old Grand Union), was built on a different route to join the Grand Junction at Norton Junction and included the ten narrow locks at Foxton, opening in 1814.

With the coming of the railways, competition was starting to bite and Fellows Morton & Clayton (FMC) wanted to use bigger boats to take coal from the North to the London factories. The thought was that Foxton and Watford locks could be widened?

Engineer Gordon Cale Thomas was put in charge of the project. Wide locks were dismissed as using too much water from the summit pound. His solution was to build a boat lift to his patented design and large scale model to test the design was constructed at Bulbourne Depot in 1896.

Photographs and other information was shown of the planning and building of the Foxton Inclined Plane, plus some very interesting pictures of the flamboyant figures looking proud as the Inclined Plane opened in June 1900. Pleasure boat trips were organised on the lift, tourists standing in the hold of a cleaned up carrying boat as the 25 horsepower steam engine is turned on and they ascend the hill. The other tank descends either loaded with boats or water. The entire operation has taken 12 minutes, and could move two boats up and two down. A big saving against the 45 minutes (plus waiting time) taken to use the locks.

The lift worked well but by 1909, the FMC steam boats worked "fly" for 24 hours a day and the expected traffic did not increase. The plane required three men to operate it and it would have been uneconomic to keep the engine in steam overnight.

In 1911 the lift was mothballed to save money, the traffic returning to the locks which have been in use ever since.

In 1928 the lift machinery was finally sold for scrap.

In 1950 the IWA held the first Inland Festival of Boats at Market Harborough.

1980 saw the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust formed and the Foxton Canal Museum opened in 1989.

Angela Rose


Putting Water into Waterways

 
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Our water management team work tirelessly to make sure that there’s enough water for you to cruise on. It’s a complex job and one that takes a lot of planning. What they’re now doing is asking you for your views via the Water Resources Strategy Consultation.

Adam Comerford, Group Hydrology Manager, comments: ‘Delivering a long term security of water supply to the waterway network will help us achieve our vision of living waterways that transform places and enrich lives. To enable this, we are developing a Water Resources Strategy to allow us to plan successfully for the future. The strategy sets out our aspirations for the next five years, but looks as far ahead as 2050 to understand the longer term pressures and challenges.

‘The consultation outlines the key issues that we wish to understand and manage better, and wants the views of all our customers to help influence the work we do in the future. It is the first time that these issues have been openly presented by us and we believe this embodies our values of being caring, open, local, involving and demonstrating excellence in our work.’

The consultation runs for eight weeks, from 9 September to 4 November 2014. Please read the consultation document and complete the questionnaire online.

Alternatively you can email CRT at water.information@canalrivertrust.org.uk, when responding please state your name, organisation (if applicable) and contact details. We’ll publish a Statement of Responses to the consultation and the final Water Resources Strategy in due course.

canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views Boaters' Update 12 Sep 2014


15,000 volunteer hours restoring the canals!

 
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September saw the end of a very productive Waterways Recovery Group Canal Camp summer season with over 2,500 volunteer days spent restoring the canals of England and Wales. Based on an average of six hours of volunteering per day that’s a staggering 15,000 hours of canal restoration by Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) volunteers!

WRG has supported restoration of derelict inland waterways by co-ordinating volunteers and providing expertise and equipment since its formation in 1970. Every summer WRG organises over 20 week long working holidays aimed at giving canal restoration projects a ‘big push’ with extra volunteers, technical support and advice.

Over the summer WRG volunteers visited twelve restoration sites. Volunteers worked on the Cotswold Canals helping with restoration work at Bowbridge Lock and Griffin Mill Lock near Stroud; they created a nature trail on the Driffield Navigation; and installed a new landing stage on the Basingstoke Canal. Volunteers also spent two weeks on the Chesterfield Canal constructing a concrete wall near Staveley Town Lock as well as digging out Ironville Locks on the Cromford Canal to allow for a restoration survey to be undertaken.

One of the highlights of the summer involved making significant progress towards the restoration of Inglesham Lock, on the Cotswold Canals, with WRG volunteers contributing over 300 volunteer days to the project. Volunteers cleared a large volume of silt and debris from the entrance to the lock chamber to allow for new stop planks and a sand bag dam to be installed. The work will allow for a full survey of the chamber to be undertaken by one of IWA’s Honorary Consultant Engineers, once the rest of the lock chamber has been cleared.

Over the summer, WRG also ran working holidays on the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals , Uttoxeter Canal, Pocklington Canal, Grantham Canal, Lancaster Canal, Swansea Canal and the Monmouthshire Canal.

Amber Jenkins, WRG’s new Assistant Volunteers Coordinator said ‘This is my first summer with WRG and I have met so many enthusiastic volunteers who aim to have fun whilst making a big impact restoring canals. It’s amazing to see how much 18 volunteers can get done in one week … from laying a new towpath to installing stop planks and filling 2,000 sand bags!’

Although our main Canal Camps Programme ends in September that doesn’t mean WRG volunteers go into hibernation. Our Forestry Team are heading to the Cotswold Canals at the end of October to carry out tree clearance work and in November (8th/9th) WRG will be holding their Reunion Weekend on the Chesterfield Canal. For more details please go to the WRG website www.wrg.org.uk

WRG Press Release 15 September 2014


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Page created 3 October 2014 - last updated 8 November 2014.

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