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Issue 346 - November 2000

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Our Man at Westminster

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Many Society Members may not be aware that the Southampton Canal Society is an Associate Member of the Parliamentary Waterways Group (PWG). As its name suggests, the Group consists of a number of MPs who are interested in the waterways who meet on a regular basis with representatives of British Waterways, the Environment Agency, IWAAC, Canal Societies and Trusts etc etc etc... Each meeting focuses on a specific topic.

The Society's representative on the PWG is former Treasurer, Secretary and Committee Member, Eric Lewis, who attends as many of the PWG meetings as possible. This is real dedication as all the Group's meeting are held at Westminster, in the evening.

The most recent meeting was on 24 October when the venue was the Grand Committee Room in the House of Commons when the topic was the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA).

AINA promotes the shared interests of navigation authorities in the UK, many of whom are Associate Members of the PWG. Its strategy for the future of inland navigations of the UK, launched this year, "aims to give a strategic and unified purpose for all waterways whatever their size or location".

The AINA Chairman, Dr David Fletcher (who is, of course, also Chief Executive of British Waterways) opened his presentation to the PWG by reminding the Group that it was now a year since the AINA launched its strategy "Steering a Fresh Course" and that the PWG provided an ideal opportunity for him to report on AINA's actions to date and progress towards its implementation. It was particularly timely that he was speaking to the PWG given the current concentrated attention being focused on inland waterways by the launch of the Government policy paper "Waterways for Tomorrow" and the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry.

AINA was set up in December 1996 with strong encouragement from Government to provide, for the first time ever, a single voice on waterway management issues. Its broad purpose is to facilitate the management, maintenance and development of the inland waterways as an economic, environmental, recreational and social resource. Between them AINA's members, which currently number 30 organisations of varied size, structure and constitution, own, operate and manage some 5,000 km of waterway, representing almost a complete UK coverage.

AINA's vision is to bridge the gap in investment in our navigations not only in terms of financial resource, but in manpower, time and goodwill to take the waterways into the new century as the integrated, well managed, multi-functional and accessible leisure resource which it has the potential to be.

Dr Fletcher continued with an outline of AINA's objectives and he explained details of its strategic approach in "Steering a Fresh Course".

He went on to describe the roles AINA has in connection with Leisure and Recreation, Tourism and Commercial Activities, the Built and Historic Environment, Transport, the Natural Environment, Water Resources, and Other Resources.

Dr Fletcher concluded his presentation to the PWG as follows:-

"AINA has come a long way in a few short years. It has:

"But we have only just begun. "Steering a Fresh Course", like "Waterways for Tomorrow" is a long term strategy which will require the skilful application of resources and the concerted efforts of many to deliver. To achieve its objectives, AINA will be encouraging others, including commercial operators and the wide variety of users to take forward their respective roles in the strategy."

Following Dr Fletcher's presentation there was a question and answer session.

(Editor's Note: The details of Dr Fletcher's presentation to the PWG, which was illustrated with slides, would require several additional pages to this Newsletter. If any Society member would like a copy of Dr Fletcher's draft presentation notes, please advise me and a copy will be made available).

The next meeting of the Parliamentary Waterways Group will be held on 5 December 2000 when the topic will be The Countryside Agency.

Eric Lewis and Paul Herbert


October Meeting

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Our long time member Frank Stokes is certainly not a newcomer when it comes to presentations to the membership. Frank had previously given us a presentation on a visit he and Norma had made to China in 1989 when, on their return journey to the UK by train, they had passed through Berlin, only weeks before the fall of the Wall (that is the Berlin Wall of course .... not the Great Wall of China!!!)

Frank's talk at our October meeting was mainly based on their trip to Germany in September 1999, organised by Inland Waterways International. The purpose of that visit was mainly to see the new works being commissioned since re-unification (in 1990) to upgrade the German waterway infrastructure to meet European standards, improving the links between Berlin and the East and West (known as Projekt 17). That trip also gave Frank and Norma the opportunity to look at some of the older waterways and their industrial history.

Frank first showed a map and slides of the "Magdeburg Cross" which, when completed, will take the Mittelland Canal on a (new) aqueduct over the flood plain of the River Elbe, the present (1934) Rothensee Ship Lift, and the new locks to supersede it.

Frank and Norma then went on to Dresden to see the first known boat lift, recently restored, on the Churprintz Canal and the last surviving floating mill. In the city they saw rebuilding work on the Cathedral (destroyed during the World War II air raids) and took a trip on the Elbe on one of the eight paddle steamers still operating (a couple of which are over 100 years old!)

Heading north again they visited the vast double shaft locks on the Spree-Oder Canal (passing one canoe at the time) and were privileged to take a ride on the spectacular ship lift on the Havel-Oder Canal. Although 90 metres in length, it is now too short for modern craft and is to be replaced.

Frank ended this section of his programme with views of the rebuilding of the Berlin Technological Museum and a boat trip on the River Spree in Central Berlin, seeing the new building work associated with moving the seat of the German government from Bonn back to the Reichstag.

In complete contrast to industrial Germany, Frank finished the evening's programme with pictures from a family holiday in Ireland in 1997, when they hired a cruiser on a one-way trip from Knockninny in Northern Ireland visiting Enniskillen and the many islands on Lough Erne.

They then traversed the Shannon-Erne Waterway (restored and re-opened in 1994) to the River Boyle and the beautiful Lough Key, returning their boat to Carrick-on-Shannon in the South.

Frank gave us a very informative presentation on some of the waterways (showing their vast scale, compared with waterways in the UK) and other centres of interest in Germany, finishing with scenes of the beautiful waterways and countryside in Ireland.

Thank you Frank for a very enjoyable evening.

Paul Herbert


Reminders

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Waterways Quiz:

As yet we have not been flooded out with nominations for the Society's Team to take part in the Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz on 7 December. Come on - don't be shy. There must be one or two of you out there who would be willing to share the stand and make up a team of four.

American Supper:

Don't forget....... the Christmas Meeting/Quiz Evening also incorporates the usual American Supper so please bring your goodies along!

Questionnaires:

Many thanks to those members who have already handed in their completed questionnaires in connection with our search for a new 'home' for the Society. As January will be our last meeting in the St John's Ambulance Hall we need to find a new venue quickly.

So, if you haven't yet returned your questionnaire, can you please do so as soon as possible. Many thanks.

Future speakers:

Please help your Committee to help you........ We are anxious for your ideas on the kind of topics/speakers for future meetings.

If these decisions are just left up to the Committee members we cannot guarantee that we are providing a varied programme which meets the interests and expectations of the wider membership. So come on - let Peter Oates (or any Committee member) know what you would like to see and hear.

Polo Shirts:

Please don't forget to let Paul or Ray know if you are interested in owning a Society Polo Shirt. Some interest has been shown but I'm sure there must be other members who would be keen to 'show the flag'.


INTRODUCTION TO CONTINENTAL CRUISING

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The magazine Waterways World recently issued the following Press Release which might interest some of our members, particularly after hearing from Frank Stokes at the last meeting.

As well as their regular annual cruises, this year Waterways World magazine are offering a Spring Mini Cruise on the canals and rivers of Belgium and Holland. This will be an ideal introduction to the delights of continental cruising without the hassles and worry of taking your own boat, yet in the company of fellow enthusiasts. WW have chartered the 126-berth Esmeralda for a 6-day cruise from Maastricht to Rotterdam.

The journey takes in the impressive Albert Canal and many of the complex waterways and locks of the Rhine Delta. Stops will be made at the two largest ports in the world - Antwerp and Rotterdam - as well as visits to two aspects of the massive Dutch Delta Storm Protection Project, and a Genever (Dutch gin) museum! The cruise takes place from 29th March to 3rd April and costs from £580 per person.

Other cruises offered by WW for 2001 are a Dutch Sailing Barge Holiday from 27th July to 5th August in Friesland (from £525 pp) - ideal for family groups - and a Wine Valleys Cruise on the Millennium-built 80-passenger Europa from 1st to 12th September, taking in the full navigable length of the meandering Mosel and the scenic Saar as well as the Rhine Gorge (from £1,650 pp).

A brochure giving details of all these cruises is available from

Waterways World, The Well House, High Street, Burton-on-Trent, Staffs, DE14 IJQ.
(Tel: 01283 742951; Fax 01283 742957;
e-mail: ww@wellhouse.easynet.co.uk).


Raffle Prizes - Donations

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Many thanks to those members who have donated prizes for our monthly raffle. This is very much appreciated.

The raffle provides a useful income, supplementing that received via members' subscriptions and from refreshments, the sales stand and library.

Every prize donated means one less that has to be purchased, thereby increasing the profit element. Future donations would be appreciated - if you have a useful item that you would like to donate as a future raffle prize please see Paul or Ray on the Sales Stand.


Correction

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Please note that the talk on the work done by the Friends of Raymond was advertised in last month's Newsletter as the April meeting. Apologies, but it should have been listed for the March meeting as shown on the right.


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