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Issue 478 - November 2012

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November Meeting

On behalf of the Society, I offer a very warm welcome to Pete, Jane and George Marshall of the Day Star Theatre. We do appreciate their yearly visit.

Tonight we are spending time at the second most haunted house in England: "Blackstone Hall." An evening of loyalty, devotion, principles and the odd bit of cheating.

After the performance we will, as usual, be enjoying an American Supper

Next meeting - December 6th

This is the Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz.

Peter Oates will be setting the questions and Laura Sturrock will be keeping the scores.

As on previous occasions, thank you to all who bring along a variety of food to share, to finish off the evening.

Volunteers are requested to form our team, please.

SCS Christmas / New Year Lunch

A seasonable lunch will be held at The Blue Hayes on Saturday 12th January 2013. Price: £20.50. Please see Angela at the November Meeting or email or telephone 02380 675312.

Thank you

A Thank You card was received from Paul Herbert but, although taken to the last meeting, it was not read out at the October Meeting and some members may not have seen it:

To the Chairman, Committee and Members of Southampton Canal Society

My sincere thanks for the kind gift made to me on my retirement from the Committee.

Thank you very much.


March 2013 Meeting

We welcome John Dodwell, a Trustee of the Canal & River Trust and longstanding IWA member. He will update us on the Trust, plus give us the opportunity for Questions and Answers. SCS would appreciate fellow IWA members to support this meeting. Please email me at if you wish to come along and any questions which you may wish to ask John.

Alan Rose

Max Sinclair wins English Heritage Angel Award

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Max Sinclair

Max Sinclair, the founder of the Droitwich canals restoration movement, has been awarded an English Heritage Angel Award for "Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Site" for the now-reopened Droitwich Barge and Junction canals.

Sponsored by Lord Lloyd Webber, the English Heritage Angel Awards honour individuals and local groups rescuing heritage sites on English Heritage's 'Heritage at Risk' Register.

Abandoned in 1939 and severed by the M5 motorway in the 1970s, the canals were overgrown, silted up and missing most of its operational parts. From the 1960s Max Sinclair wrote letters and lobbied locally, inspiring the creation of the Droitwich Canals Trust in 1973.

Over the years many volunteers contributed time and energy to the restoration project, raising funds and carrying out many of the tasks needed to restore the canals. In 2004, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £4.6 million towards the £11 million project and British Waterways agreed to a final restoration push in 2007. After 38 years of work the Droitwich Canals were finally opened in July 2011.

Canal & River Trust sells office block

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A private buyer has snapped up a Manchester city centre office block as England's waterways charity offloads its property assets.

Acting on behalf of the owner of Giants Basin, Canal & River Trust - the new name for British Waterways - the Manchester office of Sanderson Weatherall has completed the sale of the 10,376 sq ft Castlefield building for £925,000.

Giant's Basin is partly let to Tangerine Public Relations and Coaching, which occupies about 5,500 sq ft on the ground, second and third floors. A further 4,800 sq ft is available to let on the ground and first floors of the four-storey building.

The building was producing an income of £19,540 per annum for the Trust, with the rent due to increase to £39,059 with effect from January.

Jonathan Tinsley, senior estates surveyor for the Canal & River Trust, said: "The sale of this building follows a strategic review of the non-operational property held by the Trust and we expect more sales over the coming months, as we rationalise our investment portfolio to focus on core incoming producing assets. The receipts from the sale will be reinvested."
29 October 2012

October Meeting

Magic Lantern Show - Alan Brindle

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As a member of the Magic Lantern Society and a former photographer at the Ordnance Survey, Maybush, Alan was very knowledgeable about his subject.

From the early 1800's, the lanterns were first run by candles and then by oil burners. The pictures were taken by professional photographers. The slides were hand painted, 1 person doing the red, another green and so on.

The American Rail Roads are vast, we started our journey by looking at New York Grand Central Station, on a train running to Buffalo,112mph with a wood burner feeding the power. We then saw Ottawa and Chicago stations in their full glory.

This was followed with a scene of the Eric Canal in the Mohawk Valley. We then went through the Appalachian Mountains showing a train round the Horseshoe Curve on a 1 in 59 gradient. More American railroads with glimpses of the halcyon days of 5 star travel, a 1880 box car travelling in wonderful luxury.

Back to England with scenes of Boulter's Lock on the Thames and, on the same river, at Abingdon and Thames Ditton. Going north we visited the canal at Llangollen to view a horse drawn boat. Up to Scotland to look at views on the Caledonian Canal and down to the West Country to Greenways, Agatha Christie's home, overlooking the River Dart.

After the break we had the humour of slip slides (moving slides!) which ended an interesting and amusing evening.

Alan has since sent details of a fellow MLS member, Aileen Butler who is from a boating family. She offers guided walks around the Paddington Arm, visits to the Canal Museum and Magic Lantern Shows which includes more of the waterways, which, may be of interest to us at SCS.

Angela Rose

Barge sinks - two years after warning to owners

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CANAL boaters have been warned to steer clear of an historic sunken barge.

Maritime historian Paul Barnett says he told its owners two years ago it risked going to the bottom of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal but Gloucester Waterways Museum said it made regular checks and was surprised to see the concrete lighter under water at Purton.

"I had it registered on the historic ships register two years ago and I asked the museum (then the National Waterways Museum) then what they were doing about it," said Mr Barnett, whose group the Friends of Purton works to protect vessels known as the Purton Hulks, which saved the canal from being eroded away by the River Severn.

"They came down and pumped it out but it's been lying very low in the water."

The craft was one of around 80 beached between 1909 and the 1960s on the banks of the Severn as part of a successful attempt to build up the eastern bank between the river and the canal.

Mr Barnett said it was pulled out of the bank about 20 years ago and brought up to Gloucester Docks but was moved to Hempsted, then in 1997 to Purton.

He said the lighter, FCB52, was built in 1941 in Barrow-in-Furness and there are eight similar craft. They were used to transport vital raw materials during World War Two.

It was moored up next to ponds which were once used to store timber being floated up the canal but now all that can be seen is a traffic cone marking the semi-submerged tiller.

Museum manager Doreen Davies said regular checks were made on the vessel.

"As I said to Mr Barnett we check the concrete barge on a regular basis and pump it out," she said. "We were waiting to see if we could get funding to restore it.

"We went to check on it last month and it was tied up, so it came as quite a shock last week to find it submerged."

She said the museum has not yet decided on how to bring it back to the surface. 13 October 2012

Olympic gold locks at Eton Dorney on River Thames

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The control boxes at two locks on the River Thames are being painted gold to mark the Olympic and Paralympic wins at Eton Dorney Lake during London 2012.

Boveney and Bray are the closest locks to the lake on the Berkshire-Buckinghamshire border, which hosted the rowing events during the Games.

The gold box and a commemorative plaque at Boveney Lock, Buckinghamshire, were unveiled on Friday. Berkshire's gold box and plaque at Bray Lock will be unveiled on 22 October.

Matt Carter, from the Environment Agency which has painted the boxes, said: "This is a fun way to mark the achievement of all of our Olympians and Paralympians, who have done such a fantastic job of making the country proud."

New canal bridge swung into action

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A MAJOR new bridge has swung into action as part of the ongoing restoration of the Stroud canals. The £300,000 crossing of the town's Chestnut Lane was officially opened by councillors.

Capable of carrying the heaviest vehicles on the road the completion of the bridge was the latest milestone in the Cotswold Canals' restoration.

"This underlines the tremendous progress we are making on regenerating the canal," Coun Geoff Wheeler, leader of Stroud District Council said. "We know residents and businesses have been inconvenienced whilst the crossing was closed but we are very grateful for their fantastic support and tolerance."

Coun Roger Sanders, the district's executive member for regeneration assisted at the ceremony. First across the bridge was a car driven by Janet Blake, co-owner of Cristie Electronics, one of the firms most affected during the six-month closure of the route.

The swing bridge is operated by an electro-hydraulic system using a key normally carried by boaters. 10 October 2012

Council backs Melksham canal project

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THE scheme to run the restored Wilts and Berks Canal through Melksham has won the backing of Melksham Town Council.

Councillors voted on Monday to support an application to extend the existing canal from Semington to the River Avon in the town centre, in the first part of an ambitious scheme which will eventually connect the town to Abingdon and the River Thames.

Three kilometres of new waterway will be built, along with a pedestrian and cycle path. Three new locks, two road bridges and a weir in the river will also be added, allowing boats to travel through the town.

Melksham will be the only town directly on the restored 19th century canal, which was abandoned in the 1920s.

The application from the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust was unanimously approved by the development control committee on Monday and will now go to Wiltshire Council for a final decision.

Cllr Richard Wiltshire, chairman of the council's canal working group, said: "This proposal will add much interest and character to Melksham and the Berry-fields area, in particular. "It will revitalise the river at Melksham and increase visitors for boating and other recreational activities associated with canals, footpaths and cycleways"

The scheme is the second phase of the 58-mile project to renovate the canal.

Cllr Terri Welch said: "As a town council we should support this scheme, as it will bring large benefits to our town." 19th October 2012

Inland voyage of discovery

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Coventry Light

Above: Two boats moored near Tusses Bridge on the North Oxford
Canal with the now demolished "Coventry Light" in the background.

Left: Mrs Mabel Wilson in the hatches of her Samuel Barlow butty.

An exhibition of unique photos that capture the last generation to work Britain's industrial canals is now displayed at the London Canal Museum.

These pictures of Hawkesbury Junction in Warwickshire and surrounding area in the 1940s and 1950s were taken by Coventry factory worker turned photographer Robert Longden.

They were once vital industrial routes used to supply coal to Britain's biggest mines and home to hundreds of workers. But now relegated to leisure use, a unique collection of photos of Britain's canals give a rare insight into lives of the last generation to work the inland waterways.

The new exhibition, "An Inland Voyage," at the London Canal Museum includes pictures from the late 1940s and early 1950s before the use of the waterways changed forever. The pictures by Coventry factory worker turned photographer Robert Longden taken at Hawkesbury Junction in Warwickshire, where the Oxford and Coventry canals meet, have been restored and curated by his great grandson Stephen Pochin.

Mrs Mabel Wilson

His unique photographic archive conveys an intimate social history of a working life now long gone. In the late 1940s, the area around Hawkesbury was dominated by heavy industry with six massive cooling towers visible along the skyline.

The Oxford canal provided the main coal supply route to London from Wyken Colliery and nearby pit heads around Hawkesbury Village and Exhall.Longden became president of the Coventry Photographic Society and won several awards for his work. Today, his archive is considered to be of unique social and historical importance.

Many but not all of the pictures in the exhibition may be found in Sonia Rolt's book 'A Canal People.' The exhibition runs until February next year. 6 October 2012

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Page created 1 November 2012 - archived 8 December 2012.

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