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Issue 454 - November 2010

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Chairman's Column

 
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November Meeting

On behalf of the Society I am delighted to welcome back Richard Thomas where he will be telling us about the lead up to the "Gunpowder Plot" and  Guido Fawkes.

October Meeting

We all enjoyed The Day-Star Theatre's production last month. It was a very enjoyable evening finished off by the excellent American Supper provided by you all. Thank you everyone.

2010 Inter-Society Waterways Quiz

A further reminder that we will again be hosting the Annual Quiz at our next meeting on Thursday  2nd December. IWA Salisbury, last years winners, will be setting the questions. As always the quiz will be followed by the usual American Supper provided by our members.

Most importantly we need volunteers for our SCS team!!

Skittles Evening

This is being held on Friday 19th November at the same venue as last year: The Phoenix, Twyford. Any questions please see Maureen Greenham or email maureen.greenham@talktalk.net or telephone 02380 406951.

Membership Subscriptions

A reminder that if you haven't paid your membership subscription for the current year, could you please see our Treasurer & Membership Secretary Gill Herbert? Thank you.

Just in

Southampton Canal Society burgees are now available - £12.50 each or £13.50 posted - contact Angela.

Alan Rose


Anger As BW Plan 'Compromises Water Safety'

 
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Commenting on the plans to turn British Waterways (BW) into a National Trust-style charity, the Unite union's National Officer for docks and waterways Julia Long, said: "We have real fears that the vital maintenance work that is needed on the network will be forced to rely on the efforts of volunteers to fill gaps left by qualified engineers, if enough funding is not found.

"Caring for this 250-year old working heritage spanning reservoirs and locks requires intense management and significant funding, yet year after year central government funding has only been enough to fund 90 per cent of the urgent work. It is simply not appropriate to hand over essential infrastructure maintenance to volunteers.

"BW maintains the 2,200 mile canal network in the UK so this news is very disturbing, as it increases the level of flood risk to the homes, offices and buildings along the banks of this network.

"Unite therefore calls for the government to provide some guarantees that there will not be a wholesale cull of the workforce and that there will be sufficient employed, skilled staff to prevent the potential devastation which would be caused if, for example, just one of the banks gave way."

The water network provides a system £65 million worth of drainage from fields as well as leisure and environmentally-friendly freight transport. Half the population lives within five miles of a canal or river and an incredible 13 million people use them every year as part of their everyday life - as a short-cut to work, walking the dog or simply taking time-out and watching the boats.

BW provides 1,800 jobs involved in managing a portfolio including 1,654 locks, 54 tunnels, 3,115 bridges, 417 aqueducts and 91 reservoirs.

www.build.co.uk - 15/10/2010


Former GB Olympic rowing star dies

 
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Great Britain's double Olympic champion rower Andy Holmes MBE died recently at the age of 51.

Holmes was part of the coxed four crew, which included Sir Steve Redgrave, that won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He then partnered Redgrave to gold in the coxless pairs at the Games in Seoul four years later. Holmes had been involved in coaching over the past two years after a return to the sport in which he also won gold in both the coxed four and coxless pairs at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.

Holmes is believed to have died from the bacterial infection Weil's disease, also known as leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis - The Facts


Society Boat Trip - Saturday 2 October

 
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Only twenty five Society members and their guests had been able to book for last month's boat trip at Kintbury on the Kennet & Avon Canal. This was insufficient to make this outing viable and, under normal circumstances, our booking would have had to be cancelled, but Maureen Greenham came to the rescue by opening up the trip to members of her U3A (University of the Third Age) group and we were delighted to welcome seventeen of her colleagues on this combined outing. Completely separately, a family group of ten, celebrating a birthday, had also booked for this date, thereby ensuring a full boat.

Bonnie ready for her task Many of us met up at the canalside 'Dundas Arms' for a quick snack lunch before crossing over the canal to Kintbury Wharf and meeting our one horse-power propulsion unit, 'Bonnie', a 23 year old Shire/Clydesdale cross, and boarding 'Kennet Valley'. After watering up the boat we set off, being manually turned at the nearby winding hole and then 'Bonnie' was harnessed up and we started our cruise.

To those of us more used to diesel engines throbbing beneath our feet, it was almost surreal to glide through the water without a sound, apart from the chattering within the boat. After the almost continuous heavy rain on the Friday we were so lucky to be able to enjoy a lovely autumn afternoon for our cruise. The countryside through which we cruised was very peaceful, with some of the trees beginning to adapt to their autumn colours. A kingfisher was even seen by one or two people as it flashed past the boat.

The group photograph We passed under Shepherd's Bridge and soon reached Dreweat's Lock where some of the passengers disembarked in order to walk to the next lock. After passing through Copse Lock 'Kennet Valley' was winded and we headed back towards Kintbury. On our return journey we enjoyed our delicious pre-booked cream tea. It is rumoured that some even had seconds!

And all too soon we were back at Kintbury Wharf, time to disembark, thank the crew and 'Bonnie' of course and pose for the traditional group photograph.

Finally, many thanks to Maureen for organising such an enjoyable outing and for making up our numbers to that the trip could go ahead.

Paul Herbert

Postscript: Our Chairman and Secretary, Alan and Angela Rose, are in the process of moving their Large Northwich motor 'Purton' (built in 1936 for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co) from its mooring on the Kennet & Avon Canal to a new mooring on the Grand Union Canal, and had moored the boat at Kintbury to coincide with our outing. During the trip on 'Kennet Valley' they had overheard comments about the lack of kingfishers in the area. The following day, in the pouring rain, Alan and Angela saw two - one of which was seen to hover over the canal before diving in and bringing out a small fish!


SCS Christmas/New Year Lunch

 
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A seasonable lunch which will be held at The Blue Hayes on Saturday 15 January. Prices and menu to follow. To express interest see Maureen Greenham at the November meeting or email maureen.greenham@talktalk.net or telephone 02380 406951.


Skittles Evening

 
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Maureen Greenham is organising a Skittles Evening at the same venue as last time:

The Phoenix Inn, Twyford - Friday 19 November 2010 - £10.50 to include food and small prizes.

It's not too late to book. Payment and menu choices at the November meeting please. If you can't make the meeting, email maureen.greenham@talktalk.net or telephone 02380 406951 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.


Jam 'Ole Run 2010

 
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In the January 2010 issue of the Newsletter, I wrote an article about the Jam 'Ole Run in which I promised that Laura Sturrock and I would be taking our boat Stanton on "the 40th anniversary re-run in October 2010 in memory of all those boatmen and boatwomen who have gone before us."

Well, Laura and I kept our promise and were joined by a number of other working boats that took part for either some or all of the run. These were Stanton and Renfrew (both of which were on the last run in 1970), Corona, Victoria, Archimedes and Ara, Dove, and Purton. We were also accompanied by the pleasure boat Kismet.

It was at 9.00am on Saturday 16 October 2010 that 6 boats left Braunston, where the Blue Line fleet was based, making for Atherstone where the boats used to be loaded with coal. We were blessed with bright sunny weather. Indeed, during the whole week we only had one afternoon of rain and a few showers on the last day. However, we awoke on a number of mornings to a frost that made moving about the boats quite precarious.

Some of the fleet at Bulls Bridge Sunday morning (at 4.30am) was such a morning as we started our journey southwards towards London. Passing through Braunston in mid-afternoon, we tied up for the night at Weedon at about 7.00pm. Monday and Tuesday were also early starts with overnight stops at Grove Lock (just south of Leighton Buzzard) and Rickmansworth.

As we were then only 12½ miles and 8 locks from Bulls Bridge, we had a late start on Wednesday at 7.00am, pausing en route at the café at Cowley Lock for bacon butties. The Tesco's at Bulls Bridge gave the opportunity to buy stores for the return trip. It was here that we were joined by our Chairman and Secretary: Alan and Angela Rose on Purton for the trip north.

Left: Some of the fleet at Bulls Bridge - the fore-ends of Renfrew, Stanton, Victoria, Dove and Corona. The stern fenders of Archimedes and Ara are on the right. The site of the Jam 'Ole is 250 yards away under the bridge. (Photo: Laura Sturrock)

Below: Stanton and Purton prepare to leave Braunston Bottom Lock with the end of the run in sight. (Photo: Angela Rose)

Stanton and Purton

The boats assembled at the site of the Jam 'Ole (just 250 yards from Bulls Bridge Junction up the Paddington Branch) at about 3.30pm where we paid our respects to those who had made this journey regularly month after month.

Overnight berths at Willowtree Marina just up the canal allowed us to have showers, a cooked meal and a few drinks. After a "lazy" day, Thursday was a contrast: slipping out of the marina at 4.00am with a long heavy day in front of us - it was almost 9.00pm when we tied up at Cowroast after a gruelling 31 miles and 45 locks. A slightly later start on Friday meant we descended Marsworth Locks as it was getting light at the start of a warm sunny day. This led to drinks at the Boat in Stoke Bruerne in the evening.

Saturday was a less hectic day and we arrived back in Braunston in the late afternoon after 246 miles and 188 locks in 8 days. We rounded off the trip with a meal in the Old Plough that evening.

The next morning we went our separate ways. The trip enabled us to renew old and to make new friendships. There was a great sense of camaraderie on this trip where everyone looked out for each other. The only thing that went wrong on Stanton was a blown light bulb in the back cabin. All in all a memorable week.

Peter Oates


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