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Issue 335 - October 1999

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August Meeting

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At our August meeting a small (but select) audience sat almost spellbound as roses and castles materialised in front of them from the hands and brushes of Society member, Ray Brooks.

Originally self-taught, Ray subsequently attended one of Brian Collings' canal art classes at Stoke Bruerne and then developed his own style. Aware that Ray had gone on to paint many items, large and small, for friends and others he was a natural choice to be included on the Society's programme of guest speakers. He kindly agreed to come along to our August meeting to demonstrate canal art and his particular methods of working.

I don't know what we expected - most probably to sit in a small group around Ray whilst he showed us how to paint a small object. How wrong we would have been. Whilst Ray has taught canal art at adult education classes, he has never undertaken the type of venture as on this occasion - demonstrating to a largish audience. So that was his first 'first'. He had decided to erect two boards on easels so that we could more clearly see what he was doing, and therefore, was painting in a very large scale - his second 'first'. He was not finished there - he usually paints with enamels but, because of the large scale, this time he had decided to paint in oils - his third 'first' - if you understand what I mean!

Ray then started to enthral us as, together with a running commentary, he started to develop one of the traditional castle scenes - complete with all the usual features - mountains, lakes, boats and bridges, etc on one of the boards. Meanwhile - on the other board he started work on a traditional swag of roses. While Ray worked the audience plied him with questions on painting techniques and the history of canal art.

All too soon Ray had finished his demonstrations and we were able to see the two finished scenes. Marvellous!

In the view of those who attended this had been one of the best Canal Society evenings for many years. Many congratulations and thanks to Ray for agreeing to come along and demonstrating and sharing his skills with us - he clearly enjoys his craft!

Paul Herbert


September Meeting

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Unfortunately Peter Oates and Laura Sturrock were unable to be at the September meeting so the slide show on the Chesterfield Canal had to be postponed until November. They had, however, arranged for Hugh Gough to come along and show some of his home-made video.

This turned out to be an excellent evening. The quality of Hugh's videos, both visual and sound, was super - far better than many of the productions that are available from 'professionals'.

For the first part of the meeting we be a journey in Birmingham, which took us up the Shropshire Union, on to Chester and the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port. Then returning south to Hurleston Junction we followed a trip up to Llangollen, where that part of the programme had to terminate.

After the break we travelled on a trip with readers of Waterways World up the Danube and along the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal as far as Nürnberg on the hotel boat Esmerelda. This was a very different trip with everything on a gigantic scale, wide river, deep locks and large commercial craft. We saw how great effort had been put into lessening the impact on the environment of the Alltmuhl Valley when the new canal had been excavated.

Not all members were happy that we should have gone Continental after the tea break. Hugh still had a lot of footage unshown about his return home from Llangollen, along the Trent & Mersey, Grand Union and Thames. To pacify those members we have asked Hugh to visit us again and show the rest of that particular journey. Meanwhile, many thanks for a very interesting evening.

As a result of Hugh's show, a donation of £50 has been sent to the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society to support the back-pumping project.

Brian Evans


Boats at Botley Quay

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On 12th September, the IWA Solent & Arun Branch held the fifth and final summer cruise up the River Hamble from Swanwick to Botley. Brian Evans went to by road to Botley and reports:

We got to Botley Quay at 2.15pm, just after most of the boats had arrived from Bursledon. About 200 visitors were watching the 'sailors' disembark from around 20 small boats; a busy and colourful scene.

The IWA had a sales table, as did the Botley & Curdridge Historical Society, and in between, under a large canvas stall, the ladies of the Historical Society were providing tea and scones for 'a donation'. It all seemed like a garden fête with a bit of boating.

Among the IWA items for sale were charcoal from Ampfield and flour ground at both Eling Tide Mill and Bursledon Windmill. These items had been brought up river as cargo.

The weather was glorious. Unfortunately, remembering that two years ago there were a few briars and nettles, I changed from shorts to long trousers before leaving home. I need not have bothered for in the interim period council workmen had tamed the site making a pleasant picnic spot in a peaceful setting. A row of shrubs and trees had been planted, which will hopefully one day hide the too-close and overpowering housing development, and the grass was neatly mown so that Peter Boyce could lead the Wickham Morris dancers on a flat green sward. On the previous occasion they had performed one leg up, one leg down dancing on the sloping slipway.

The bad news was a large oak tree that had fallen from an opposite bank, blocking off the channel to a large part of the wharf, and the fact that I was only able to count five Southampton Canal Society faces in the crowd.

Most of the boaters left around 4.00pm, not wanting to be caught by the receding tide. Out in mid-channel Peter Glover gave us a twirl, I hope the photo will be a good one.

There was a bit of clearing up at the end and as usual the canvas-covered stall was loaded into the useful van of Alan and Anton White.

We owe our thanks to these two lads for the work that they have put in to make a success of the five Solent & Arun Branch summer cruises.


Waterways Quiz

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In December last, the IWA Guildford and Reading Branch won the annual waterways quiz that had been held for the last few years at St John Ambulance Hall, Southampton. As winners, they are responsible for organising this year's quiz. They have decided to hold this on Monday 22nd November at their usual meeting place of Byfleet Boat Club, The Boat House, 4 Old Parvis Road, Byfleet, Woking, Surrey. We have accepted the invitation to take part so that the trophy can make its way back "down south" where it belongs.

We now have some "volunteers" to answer the questions so you'll be relieved to learn I'm not asking you to test your knowledge. It is proposed that a number of cars will be organised so that the team and, hopefully, lots of supporters can share transport costs. If you want to cheer the Society team to victory or just have an enjoyable evening then let me know. I'm willing to act as a clearing house for transport. So if you have spare seats in your car or if you want a lift, please let me know - the sooner the better. I hope to include a map of where the venue is in next month's newsletter.

Peter Oates


Society Sweatshirts - Last Reminder.

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Recently, there have been a couple of pieces about Society sweatshirts. The stock of 30th Anniversary sweatshirts from 1997 is almost depleted and it has been decided to make one last, final order. This will have to be based upon actual orders made by Society members through the Sales Stand or by contacting Paul Herbert on 01703 262365. So ... if you want one of these sweatshirts (or a spare), contact Paul immediately as he will be placing the order this month.


IWI Tour 2000

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At our meeting in September, Hugh Gough showed us members of a Waterways World holiday enjoying themselves on the River Danube and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

Inland Waterways International will be running a similar trip in September 2000 on the River Rhone in France, beginning near Marseilles, travelling north up the Rhone and on to the Saône. The holiday will take about 9 days.

There will be several side excursions, beginning with a visit to the Camargue and later two steam hauled railway trips.

The tour is for IWI members, but subscription to IWI is only £7.00.

Anyone wanting more details should contact Annegret Evans (01794 517115).


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