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Issue 466 - November 2011

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Chairman's Column

 
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November Meeting

On behalf of the Society I am delighted to welcome back Paul Barnett from the "Friends of Purton."

Paul's presentation this evening is "Lydney's Lost Fleet" which is situated the other side of the Severn Estuary from the Purton Hulks. This looks to be a very enthusiastic and informative evening.

Future Events

Maureen Greenham's popular Skittles evening will be held at the Phoenix, Twyford on Friday 18th November. At the time of writing, there are still four vacancies left. If you are interested in going to this enjoyable evening, contact Maureen by phone on 02380 406951 as soon as possible.

October Meeting

We all enjoyed "Our Long Weekend" with Pete and Jane Marshall and The Day-Star Theatre Team. The evening was very well supported by our members and friends, the American Supper was an excellent way to finish off.

Thank you everyone.

December Meeting

The meeting on Thursday 1st December will feature the Inter Society Waterways Quiz which is being hosted by Southampton Canal Society on behalf of last year's winners: IWA Guildford & Reading Branch.

Nick Grundy, from IWA Salisbury, has kindly agreed with G&R to continue as question setter this year, particularly as only around half the questions he had carefully prepared were in fact used on the night.

As always the quiz will be followed by our usual "splendid" American Supper.

Alan Rose


Christmas / New Year Lunch

 
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Lunch 2009 Lunch 2010 Lunch 2011

Members enjoying previous years' lunches

Maureen Greenham has been busy organising the fourth Society Lunch to celebrate / recover from the aftermath of the Christmas and New Year festivities. As previously, this will be enjoyed at the Blue Hayes Restaurant.

The cost will be £20.35 to include three courses, coffee/tea and tip. Maureen would appreciate a deposit of £10 or full payment at the November meeting (this Thursday).

If you're not at this meeting or have any queries, please contact Maureen as soon as possible on 02380 406951 or via email maureen.greenham@talktalk.net to discuss arrangements.


Happy Birthday

 
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Laurie Pearce, a founder member of the Society, celebrated his 90th birthday on Trafalgar Day (21 October). He received congratulations from a number of well-wishers, including a card from the Society.

Laurie acknowledges and thanks all who have wished him well on this momentous occasion.

Laurie celebrated his birthday with dinner in Havant on the following day.

I'm sure everyone in the Society will join me in wishing Laurie many happy returns.

Peter Oates


For Free!

 
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Our member Colin Huggins has contacted the Newsletter to say that he has 8 small (12") tyres which he reckons would make good narrowboat/canal fenders.

FREE but collect from Hayling Island or agreed accessible venue.

Colin can be telephoned on 02392 467828 or emailed at tidereach@tiscali.co.uk


A real lifesaver

 
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Dust cart loader Nicola Young, who lives aboard a narrow boat, plunged into the Kennet and Avon Canal during darkness to save a man from drowning.

Ms Young, 44, lives on her boat in the Pewsey Vale and works for Wiltshire Council as a refuse loader.

On November 30 she will find out if she has won a new national award at the St John Ambulance First Aid awards in London for her bravery.

Ms Young remembers vividly the night of the rescue in May, being first alerted when she heard a thump against her boat.

Despite it being the middle of the night and wearing just her pyjamas Ms Young grabbed a torch and went to have a look but could see nothing until a man on the towpath said his friend had gone missing. Renewing her search from the gunwhales of her boat and peering into the murky water at the side of her boat she spotted a hand.

"I shone my torch down and all I could see was this hand under the water; the man was totally submerged," said Ms Young, who learned her first aid skills at Durrington School.

"I jumped in and grabbed him by his collar and pulled him out from under the boat," she said.

"I called to his friend to help me get him out of the water "He was unconscious, his breathing was very shallow and I could see he had a nasty head injury," said Ms Young, who by then was muddy and bedraggled. "I put him in the recovery position and stayed with him until the ambulance paramedics arrived."

Ms Young said all she knew about the man - who she later discovered had suffered a fractured skull - was that he was a tourist staying on a hire boat.

He later wrote to thank her and she also received a letter of commendation from Wiltshire Police, who attended the incident.

Ms Young said: "I originally did my first aid training at school and I have always kept up the refresher courses wherever I have worked."

She also helped save another man's life a few years ago when she came by a horrific road crash in Marlborough and climbed in through car window to support the man's head until an ambulance crew arrived.

Ms Young said: "I acted on instinct on both occasions but I am so glad that I knew first aid and was able to help."

She said she believes first aid should be a curriculum subject in all schools and said: "It just goes to show you never know when you may need it."

Ms Young has been short listed for the Guy Evans Award given in memory of a 17-year-old Didcot schoolboy whose moped ended up in a ditch in August 2008 - he died because no-one at the scene was first-aid trained.

She is one of five candidates for the award given by Guy's mother Beth Chesney-Evans to reward "heroes who have been the difference between a life lost and a life saved".

http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk - 22 October 2011


Cotswold Canals lose Dudbridge hydro scheme funding

 
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The Cotswold Canals Trust learned on Friday 28th October that they have lost the bid to get £100,000 funding for installing a mini-hydroelectric scheme at Dudbridge Locks on the newly restored Stroudwater Canal.

The money would have come from the British Gas Energyshare scheme for renewable local energy projects, and would have been for preparatory work on Dudbridge Locks, before their final restoration next year. Despite attracting 1,028 supporters, the second-highest number in its group, the project won't be one of ten selected for Energyshare funding.

"The Members involved with the management of the application are, quite frankly, gutted, especially after all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes in the last few weeks", said David Pagett, editor of Cotswold Canals News.

The £300,000 hydro scheme has already received planning permission and it could still go ahead if the funding for initial works can be found from somewhere else before restoration starts next year. Not having the project would not impede restoration of that section of the canal, although it is a golden opportunity to create something extra of value to the canal at comparatively little cost.

The scheme would provide a steady flow of electricity (and income) for the canal operators in the long-term. However, it is thought too expensive to 'retro-install' once the restoration is underway.

http://www.waterwaysworld.com - 30 October 2011


Thames turbine switched on

 
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The owners of an Oxfordshire watermill have unveiled a water turbine which could provide power for homes. The £500,000 Archimedes screw project is funded by the Mapledurham Estate, owned by the Blount family since 1492. The estate includes a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house and the last commercial working watermill on the River Thames.

From this Sunday, visitors to the house will be able to view the giant turbine by walking over a footbridge.

The new Archimedes screw will replace an old turbine which is located in the river bed on one side of the 15th century watermill.

The previous turbine was installed in the 1920s and supplied the manor house with electricity for many years, but is no longer working.

Corry Starling, water bailiff at Mapledurham Estate, said the new turbine would pay for itself in 10 years, and would generate income for the estate's upkeep.

He said: "It's a huge great big screw, known as an Archimedes screw. Our turbine will have the most water going through it of any Archimedes screw in the country."

The turbine is expected to generate 500,000 kW hours per annum. It will be powered by 1,800 gallons (8,000 litres) of water per second, the equivalent of 280 Olympic sized swimming pools every day, according to Mr Starling. The hydro electricity project has taken two years from planning application to completion.

The Mapledurham estate's watermill will continue to produce flour for sale.

The mill was used as a location in the film The Eagle Has Landed and also featured on the cover of the eponymous 1970 debut album of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news - 25 October 2011


Flood fears over lock keeper cottage rent plan

 
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Empty houses belonging to the Environment Agency at nine locks and weirs along the River Thames are to be rented out to the public.

The riverside cottages in Surrey, Oxfordshire and Berkshire were previously occupied by lock keepers.

Cleeve Lock

Cleeve Lock

The GMB union says losing lock keepers could lead to a slower response time and possible flooding.

The Environment Agency says it needed to make savings, and other lock keepers could perform the same job.

The decision to rent out up to nine residential properties formerly used by resident lock and weir keepers along the Thames was taken by the Environment Agency on Friday.

Lock keepers' houses at seven of the locks in question are currently vacant, or will be vacant within the next few months.

The houses are in Grafton, Cleve, Goring and Whitchurch in Oxfordshire, Blakes Lock in Berkshire and Chertsey and Sunbury in Surrey.

Environment Agency waterways manager Matt Carter said there had been an £800,000 reduction in government funding for waterways operations.

He said at Chertsey, Cleeve, Grafton and Sunbury there had been no resident lock or weir keeper for some time.

"Resident lock and weir keepers are not on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are not obliged to respond to any incidents that happen outside of their normal working hours," he said.

"Instead, we have a pool of more than 250 employees who are on call around the clock, and whose job it is to respond rapidly to incidents, wherever they may occur on the river."

He said renting out the cottages would bring an extra £416,000 to the waterways budget.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news - 12 October 2011


Plans to automate weir at Northmoor Lock criticised

 
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Residents in an Oxfordshire village have criticised the Environment Agency (EA) over plans to spend £2.5m automating a weir on the River Thames.

Northmoor Weir

Northmoor Weir

The Northmoor Weir near Appleton is currently a manually operated paddle and rymer system controlled by a lock keeper.

The EA said it needed to mechanise the weir because it was no longer safe for its employees to use.

But campaigners said the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Mike Hill, one of the campaigners, said there was no evidence that a mechanised weir would protect homes from flooding better than a manual weir.

He said the current system could last another 40 years without modification.

He added: "One wonders what the real reason is behind this move by the EA.

"They've talked about health and safety and yet we have a lock keeper that's retired after 30 years of service on that part of the River Thames, who has got no health and safety issues at all, no injuries."

The area manager for the EA, Innes Jones, said that paddle and rymer weirs used heavy pieces of wood that were three times the weight that it was legal for an employer to make someone lift.

He added that, during the serious floods in 2007, it took two specially-trained members of staff several hours to fully open the Northmoor weir.

He said those kinds of delays could put houses at risk of flooding.

The new mechanised system would be push-button operated and useable by a wider number of EA staff.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news - 26 October 2011


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