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Issue 490 - November 2013

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Chairman’s Column

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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 keeping an eye out for 53 year old Geoffrey Phelps, as he faces life changing events, some of which are very pleasant and unexpected.

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

Next meeting - December 6th

This will the Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz. As last year’s winners, Guildford & Reading will be organising the quiz. SCS members will be hosting the evening, with the traditional pre- Christmas occasion of an American Supper.

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

SCS Members: We need you to volunteer for our team!!

SCS Christmas/ New Year Lunch

Our traditional, seasonal lunch will be held on Saturday 11th January 2014 at the Blue Hayes.

Please let Angela know if you are interested.

Future Meetings

The following meetings have been arranged for the first part of the New Year:

2nd January 2014 - Members Annual “Waterways Photographic Evening and Competition”.

6th February - Geoffrey Watts, a member of the “Titanic Society” will speak about the Tragedy and the effect on the people of Southampton, showing the various memorials around the town.

6th March - Stuart Fisher, editor of the Canoeist Magazine, gives a canoeist’s view of the canal system with particular emphasis on the canals that cannot be reached by narrow boat.

Many Happy Returns

Congratulations to our member Laurie Pearce who celebrated his 92nd birthday in October.

Alan Rose

Gennets Bridge Lock Appeal

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The latest major restoration project on the Wey & Arun Canal is the reconstruction of the next lock northward from Loxwood. The Canal Trust treasurer explains:

We have begun the work of restoring Gennets Bridge Lock. Nothing remains of the original lock. The lock is No 8, the numbering starting from Newbridge where the Wey & Arun Junction Canal extended the 4.5 mile long Arun Navigation (built in the 1780s). The restoration will include a bridge to take the Surrey/Sussex Border Path over the tail of the lock - hence we need to fund Gennets Bridge & Lock.

The site of Gennets Bridge Lock

The site of Gennets Bridge Lock after initial clearance. (Photo: Dave Verrall)

This will be the last lock to be completely rebuilt in Sussex. Locks 9-16, which will take the canal up to the summit level, will all be in Surrey.

We expect a contractor's quote of £175,000 to construct the concrete floor and walls of the lock. It is not possible to split this large sum into smaller bites as this would mean increased costs if the contractor had to muster his kit and take it away more than once.

Once the contractor has withdrawn, volunteers can - as at Southland - take on the bricklaying and the many other tasks needed to complete the work. We have bought, and have in store, 40,000 bricks

Apart from the construction costs of the Bridge & Lock, there are costs of about £55,000 for "enabling works". These costs are being met outside this appeal. The "enabling works" include laying on electricity and water from the nearest supply and a 'haul road' which is strong enough to take the ready-mixed concrete lorries and other heavy plant which the contractor will use.

The entire project cost is estimated at £365,000.

Jim Phillips
Hon Treasurer
Wey & Arun Canal Trust

See this article in this Newsletter for a way to make the Government help pay for this restoration.

Record numbers visit the waterways

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Record numbers of people have made a trip to the nation’s canals and rivers this summer. During August, 5.4 million people visited a canal or river over our busiest fortnight, breaking previous visitor records as people took advantage of the good weather to come down to the waterside.

The previous record visitor numbers to the canals and rivers across England and Wales were in August 2009 when an average of 5.1m people visited in the peak fortnight.

The Trust also measures the number of boats using its canals and rivers. While definitive figures will only be available in the New Year, early indications are that there were more boaters out taking advantage of the sunshine compared with 2012.
17 October 2013

October Meeting

“Archives recording the past for the future” with Elaine Kirby

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Our speaker at the October meeting was Elaine Kirby, Archivist for the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust based at Devizes.

The Kennet & Avon Canal covers three counties, is 86¾ miles long, with two rivers: the Avon runs west and the Kennet runs east.

France has the oldest and largest National Archive, founded in 1808. Great Britain’s National Archive is centred on Kew and is followed by the National Trust and English Heritage archives all in great looking buildings.

In contrast, the K&A archives are held in a “Portakabin” at the top of the Caen Hill flight, in the Canal & River Trust complex.

To date, there are 9500 entries on their database which, incidentally, uses the MODES(Archive) computer system to catalogue the material in the archives. Elaine showed us a selection of drawings by the K & A’s engineer John Rennie.

All books in the archive are now numbered and can be easily located as requested. The massive photograph collection is an ongoing digitising task and hundreds of slides have yet still to be tackled.

To ensure the archived material is kept in the correct atmosphere, the thermograph (an instrument that records temperature) is changed monthly. Other measures are taken to prevent deterioration of the archives. For example, pure cotton string is used for tying up documents. For writing a 2B pencil is used, as it rubs out if needed without marking the document. Micro crystalline polishing wax is used to preserve metal objects. And all this carried out in a Portakabin!

Elaine, with the help of her husband John went through a selection of slides showing some of the artefacts held in the archives:

To finish off we were treated to a 1990’s helicopter flight by the Royal Army Air Corps, Devizes to Marlborough and the return, which we all said yes too, in case we missed anything the first time!

After the meeting, this e mail was received from Elaine:

Thank you we did enjoy the evening, a lovely group of people. I hope to spend your donation, (SCS cheque for £45) towards the digitisation of the Crofton Film as mentioned.

Best Wishes, Elaine & John.

Angela Rose

Restoration donations work harder through match funding

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Donating £10 to the Wey & Arun Canal through will soon result in £20 going towards the work to restore the canal and reconnect the Rivers Wey and Arun.

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust has already raised £16,000 through the Grow Your Tenner match funding scheme and has signed up again in a bid to gain a further £11,000 share of the £500,000 funding available under the initiative over the next six months.

The funding is a result of a grant from the Office for Civil Society and is being administered by Local Giving. Donations made to WACT under the scheme will be matched pound-for-pound up to £10 per donation from 10am on Tuesday 15 October and, by using Gift Aid, the donation will be worth 25% more too.

According to WACT chairman Sally Schupke, the initiative presents a great opportunity to raise funds for essential restoration work and money from this new phase of Grow Your Tenner could go towards schemes like the reconstruction of Gennets Bridge Lock.

"The scheme matches single donations of £10 but the most valuable way people can help would be to pledge up to £10 per month for six months through what calls a monthly donation," said Sally.

"You are only allowed to set up one monthly donation to any one charity but perhaps other family members and friend could also register to make a donation too."

To find out more about donating to WACT and Grow Your Tenner, please visit: and click either the "Give Monthly" or the "Single Donation" button.

WACT Press Release 15 Oct 2013

Note: The Office for Civil Society is a government body which holds responsibility for charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations in the Cabinet Office.

Itchen Navigation Footpath Closures

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Whilst the Itchen Navigation Footpath is still closed at Withymead Lock north of Bishopstoke as result of vandalism to the footbridge, the section of path further north at Brambridge between Kiln Lane and Highbridge Road has been reopened although there is still work to do to improve the surface of the footpath.

‘Water’ perfect gift for Christmas

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Looking for the perfect gift for the canal enthusiast who has everything? During November and early December the Canal & River Trust are auctioning over 100 items of waterways memorabilia.

The memorabilia came to light when a trawl to identify important canal artefacts and documents hidden away in the our yards across the South East also turned up memorabilia which may be of interest to canal lovers. None of the items have been assessed as being suitable to add to our national collection.

We now plan to auction items ranging from disused British Waterways signs, to copies of prints of a Grand Junction Canal distance table and cross section profile. Each will be available for people to view and buy via eBay and could make a great gift for Christmas.

Noteworthy items

Assessing which items are acceptable for sale has involved a range of experts and volunteers, including specialists in heritage and archives. Important artefacts are being retained and transferred to our national collection and archive. So far, this includes over 16 artefacts including the original Grand Junction Canal distance table and cross section profile.

Nigel Crowe, head of heritage at the Canal & River Trust, says: “It’s great that canal lovers can own a piece of waterways memorabilia which could make some great gifts for Christmas.

“And more significantly, the trawl of offices and yards has unearthed some particularly noteworthy items with heritage value which we are transferring to the national collection and archive where they can be proudly made available for public display.”

The proceeds from the memorabilia sale will be used to help look after our waterways.

Anyone with questions should get in touch with

Each item will be listed on eBay for seven days. Auctions for the first items will start on 4th November and the final lots will end on 10th December. To see the live auctions go to
24 October 2013

Water voles caught on camera

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One of the UK’s most secretive mammals, the water vole, has been captured on camera this week as part of CRT’s conservation work to improve the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire.

Most people associate the use of CCTV camera technology with catching speeding motorists and street surveillance. However, we’ve been using hidden cameras to help track the movements of the UK’s fastest declining mammal, the water vole.

Laura Plenty, Canal & River Trust ecologist, explains: “The water vole is such a special creature but it is threatened by a combination of habitat loss and predation by American mink. We’ve been working hard to create the right habitat for water voles to survive and reverse the decline in their population.

“We knew there were some colonies of water voles on the canal near Devizes, but during a maintenance visit to a different site on the Caen Hill Flight, we spotted a water vole ‘latrine’ which is basically a big pile of droppings, and decided it would be a fantastic place to test out our heat and motion sensitive camera to catch them in the act!”

The shy water vole needs a particular habitat to thrive. They like to live along canals and rivers where dense vegetation and steep banks offer both food and protection from predators. As a nationally protected species we have a duty to ensure our maintenance of the nation’s historic waterways protects fragile water vole colonies.

Laura continues: “The Canal & River Trust, with the help of many volunteers, spends a lot of time and money caring for the canal for the benefit of people and wildlife. Viewing the footage of the vole proves that this hard work has been worthwhile. The fact that there’s a new colony of voles living on the canal is the best reward we could ask for.”

This summer we spent eight weeks rebuilding a 500m stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal towpath and soft bank near Pewsey, Wiltshire, using an innovative design which creates the perfect home for water voles. The work benefits a range of other wildlife too, like dragonflies, butterflies and nesting birds. It also helps stabilise the canal bank securing the towpath, making it better for boaters, walkers and cyclists.

Tamsin Phipps, chair of the Canal & River Trust’s Kennet & Avon Waterway Partnership said: “It costs around £138,000 to improve just one mile of canal bank and we’re appealing for people and organisations to help us ensure the canal remains a great place for wildlife now and in the future. Everyone benefits from this important work.”

We’re asking the public to support our ‘Give a vole a home’ appeal. Just £3 could provide four reed plants to be used by the team rebuilding the water vole friendly habitat. For more details about how to give and what your money will be used for visit
25 October 2013

To view videos of the water voles visit:

Send your comments to the Web Site manager.

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2013. Except where otherwise indicated, information on these pages may be reproduced provided permission is obtained from the Web Site manager beforehand and due acknowledgement made to the Society.

Page created 1 November 2013 - last updated 13 December 2013.

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