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Issue 432 - December 2008

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Chairman's Column

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December Meeting - 2008 Inter-Society Waterways Quiz

Once again our Society is hosting the annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz and it is always a pleasure to welcome the participating teams. This year we have the traditional line-up of teams from IWA Salisbury Group, IWA Solent & Arun Branch and, of course, Southampton Canal Society. In addition, I am delighted to welcome a team from the IWA Guildford & Reading Branch. As the reigning champions, IWA Solent & Arun have organised the Quiz and provided the Quizmaster. As always, the Quiz will be followed by the traditional American Supper.

January Meeting

As announced at our November meeting, because the first Thursday in January falls on New Year's Day, and on the assumption that few members would be willing (or physically able???) to come out that evening, it was decided to change the date. Unfortunately, the hall was already booked for another purpose on the second Thursday so we have gone for Tuesday 6 January - so can you please make a note of that date in your 2009 diaries. I hope that alternative date will be convenient for the majority of members.

Whilst I appreciate that the majority of members will not need a further reminder, but just in case, at our January meeting we will be holding our annual Members' Photographic Evening and Competition. Further details are in this Newsletter.

2009 Programme

Our Secretary, Angela Rose, has been busy organising speakers for next year's programme. There are still some slots to be filled but in February Ron and Myra Glover will be taking us across Germany, from West to East. This is followed in March by Peter Paine with 'The Life and Times of a Thames Lock-keeper Today'. At the beginning of April we will be visiting Alaska and the Yukon with Alan J Smith and then, at the end of that month, moving a lot further south to the Panama Canal with Roger Squires. More details of our 2009 programme in due course.

Society Skittles Evening

Another very successful Society Skittles Evening was held on 7 November. Full details and photographs are in this Newsletter.

Proposed Society (Late) Christmas Dinner

At its last meeting the Committee proposed that the Society organise a Christmas Dinner. As it was a bit too late to fit this in before Christmas it was instead suggested that this might be held in January (or possibly even February, depending on the time needed to organise such a function). At our November meeting I mentioned this idea asking for members' views and was delighted with the positive response. We now need to find a suitable venue/date/menu and then provide those details to members as soon as possible, most likely via email and post.

Bob and Ann Duke

I have recently received a letter from Bob and Ann Dukes:

"You may have been aware that we have not been attending meetings very regularly recently and we have reached the conclusion that, reluctantly, we will not be continuing our membership of the Society. Let me hasten to add that we are both quite well but a round trip of some 80 miles (Bob and Ann live in Broadstone, Dorset) at the end of the day is more than we feel able to do. We would like to record our appreciation of all the good work by yourself and the various committee members over the years who have organised the entertainment which has been varied and interesting and we will miss it. Our regards to the other members."

I have replied to Bob and Ann thanking them for their past participation in the Society's activities and wishing them the best for the future.

Membership Database

Recent Newsletters have included a form for members to complete in order to update the Society's membership database. If you haven't yet returned your form to our Membership Secretary, Anne Coleman, can you please do so as soon as possible. Thank you.

Seasonal Greetings to all our Members

We have now reached the end of our 2008 programme and, as is usual at this time of the year, it gives me the greatest pleasure to wish all Society members A Very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Paul Herbert

November Meeting

'The Purton Hulks' - Paul Barnett

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Paul is a Marine Historian and an acknowledged expert on the Purton Hulks, the boat graveyard situated on the banks of the River Severn, adjacent to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. He briefly gave his background to the subject - he first saw the hulks in 1976 and became involved in their preservation, protection and history from 1999. Paul has spent many years studying the site and has identified the vast majority of the vessels and researched their histories. He also organises guided tours of the site.

For many years redundant commercial river craft were beached along the banks of the Severn between Sharpness and Purton in order to protect the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal against erosion. The boats involved ranged from wooden schooners, trows and barges to wartime concrete lighters and, at the Sharpness end, some more modern steel vessels. In excess of 80 boats are known to have been beached here and the site represents the largest boat graveyard in mainland Britain. Up until the 1990s British Waterways was still burying vessels in spoil and rubble at the northern end of the site.

This unique site is constantly under threat from vandals and souvenir hunters. Name panels from the vessels made attractive ornaments and from the 1940s many of them started to disappear. In 1986 no less than eight vessels were destroyed and several others were damaged by a mindless arson attack. Recently, graffiti has appeared on one vessel and every year timber is removed for barbecues and hand made iron nails are stolen for ornaments.

Paul presented a most interesting talk showing us a multitude of images of the wrecks, many of them of individual vessels taken years apart, showing how they have either deteriorated or gradually been covered by spoil. Having researched the history of so many of the boats he was able to tell us about their working lives and showed photographs of them actually at work.

The Friends of Purton has been formed as an organisation to protect and raise awareness of the site. English Heritage are actively being lobbied to provide some measure of designation/protection for the site and a series of plaques and interpretation boards are being provided as funding/sponsorship allows.

Many thanks Paul for such an interesting talk - we will look forward to welcoming you back in the future when you can tell us all about the hulks on the other side of the River Severn. In the meantime, it is likely that we will be organising a Society trip to the site in the spring when Paul can give us a guided tour.

There is a great deal of information about the Purton Hulks on the Internet, including many photographs - just Google Purton Hulks and then click on 07.The Purton Hulks

Paul Herbert

Society Skittles Evening

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Society members and guests enjoyed a Skittles Evening at 'The Kings Head' in Hursley on Friday 7 November. These events are always very popular and we managed to fill the skittle alley again.

The start had to be delayed for a very good reason, only a few members had been able to reach the Pub. Unfortunately, IBM in Hursley had decided to hold their annual Fireworks Night on the same evening without consulting our Society first! Traffic backed up on all roads leading to Hursley and when we arrived at 'The Kings Head' we found the car park already full. So we had to find any available parking space in the village and back lanes.

As always, the organisation of the event by Rogan and Lynn Olding was excellent; the competition was fierce (well, at least competitive!), and we all enjoyed the food provided by the venue.

On this occasion names were drawn at random for teams of two. There were a number of extremely good performances and it all ended with a tie between the teams of Brenda Pomeroy/Rogan Olding and Keith McKeown/Paul Herbert. We were then faced with a play-off which was narrowly won by Keith and Paul.

Keith and Paul receiving their prizes Runners-up Brenda and Rogan

The Presentations:

Above - Keith and Paul receiving their winning prizes and certificates.

Top right - Brenda and Rogan being presented with their runners-up prizes.

Right - Rogan and Lynn earned their wine by ably organising the event

The organisers Rogan and Lynn

I had the pleasure of presenting Brenda and Rogan with their runners-up prizes whilst Rogan, in turn, presented Keith and me with a bottle of wine each, together with our Championship Certificates.

This was another excellent evening, enjoyed by all. Many thanks were given to Rogan and Lynn for organising the event and they were presented with a bottle of wine as a small token of our appreciation. They indicated their willingness to organise another similar event sometime next spring.

Paul Herbert

Banking on a bright future for Navigation

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Work to create a heritage trail along the banks of the Itchen Navigation is moving the right direction, as a five-year project gets into gear. The partnership scheme, part-funded by a £1.6m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, will repair and enhance the banks along a ten-mile stretch of the waterway.

Part of an internationally renowned chalk river system - a European Special Area of Conservation - the Itchen Navigation has the highest form of protection for wildlife in the UK.

The project team - including Wildlife Trust staff and river engineers - started work at Allbrook in September, at an area where the Navigation has overtopped and breached in the past. The banks are under great stress in this section as the river is higher than the surrounding landscape, and complete collapse is possible if the banks are not enhanced.

Itchen Navigation at Allbrook

Some of the project team at Allbrook

Truckloads of chalk have been brought in to stabilise and raise the banks, and resurface the footpath. The former towing path alongside the waterway at Allbrook has been closed until December.

Carefully planned tree works will remove trees which are a Health and Safety concern, or which are growing in and therefore damaging the fragile embankment. Heavy shade from these trees also prevents the growth of wetland vegetation along the margins of the channel, which leaves banks bare and prone to erosion.

Letting light through to the river will allow a lush marginal fringe of vegetation to develop along the repaired bank, providing a better habitat for wetland species including dragonflies, damselflies, and water vole. The vegetation will also help to prevent future erosion. Important trees which provide roosts for bats, or which have limbs overhanging the channel providing shade for salmon and trout, will be retained.

Over the next two years, the project has similar plans to improve the banks, footpath & habitat at Winchester, Shawford, Otterbourne, Brambridge, Bishopstoke, Itchen Valley Country Park, and Mansbridge. Works will focus on using engineering methods which are wildlife friendly to repair the banks and enhance the marginal habitat.

Due to engineering and tree works taking place as part of the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project, some footpaths on the 'Itchen Way' will be temporarily closed for health and safety reasons. Where practical, paths will only be closed during working hours. Upcoming footpath closures are expected as follows:

Further information about work and volunteering opportunities can be found on A number of articles on the Itchen Navigation Project can be found at

Based on article in Southern Daily Echo and above websites

Increased Funding for British Waterways

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Pleasingly, after last month's headline, it appears for a second time this month!

The Inland Waterways Association ( IWA ) today welcomed the announcement in the Chancellor's Pre- Budget Report that British Waterways would be getting a £5 million capital injection to spend on network infrastructure as part of a £535 million 'green stimulus package'.

The capital is to be brought forward from 2010/2011 to 2009/2010 budgets and will be part of the Grant in Aid that British Waterways receives from Government.

Speaking on behalf of IWA, Dr Roger Squires, Chairman of the Navigation Committee, said: "This is very welcome news, IWA has been lobbying hard recently within Government to get British Waterways considered as a suitable candidate for additional funding to help stimulate jobs and local economies, we are pleased to learn that our efforts have been successful."

He continued: "However, whilst this helps towards the current budget deficit, we must not forget that British Waterways is still grossly underfunded and is still in need of a further £25 million on top of this cash injection just to maintain the existing network. IWA will continue to press home the case for improvements in navigation authorities' funding, unabated and with renewed vigour."

IWA Press Release 25 November 2008

Members' Photographic Evening and Competition

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The meeting on the 6th January will be our annual Members' Photographic Evening. This will give everyone the opportunity to show some pictures - even those who feel they might not have enough of interest to make up a whole evening's show. If you can put together up to a maximum of around a dozen pictures (even just one or two) that you feel will entertain / educate / amuse your fellow members, look them out for this evening.

For those with a digital camera, we will be able to project digital photos. Please bring your pictures (virtually any format will do) either on CD or USB Flash/Pen Drive. This year, we should be able also to read memory cards (such as CF, SM, SD, XD, MMC, Memory Stick) as long as your editor remembers to bring along a card reader to connect your card to the computer's USB port. Please contact me if you have any questions about this.

As usual, we can project prints (up to 7" x 5") onto the screen as well as transparencies and digital pictures. So if you don't take slides or digital pictures, you too will be able to show something of waterways interest as well.

Again, like the last few years, the evening will also incorporate a photographic competition. To be held just before the tea interval, this competition is open to all members - you don't have to be showing other pictures during the evening. What we're looking for is one picture which can be anything to do (even loosely) with the waterways. The competition will be judged by all those present at the meeting. And as an incentive to enter, there will be a mystery prize given to the winner.

So don't be shy, this is YOUR opportunity to show others your interest in waterways, what you've done or where you went and what you saw on holiday.

Peter Oates

Membership Details

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Recent examination of our membership records has shown that there are a few mistakes in the data held. The Society's Committee is a little concerned that there may be further unknown errors.

In order to eliminate these, it was decided to ask all members to provide certain details so that our Membership Secretary, Anne Coleman, or her assistant, Maureen Greenham, may update our records.

So if you did not complete the form below last month, please provide the details requested and give the form at a Society meeting to either Anne or Maureen. Alternatively post the form to Anne at the address given on page 4.

If you don't want to mutilate your Newsletter, use of a photocopy of this page or a hand-written copy of the form below is acceptable.

Data Protection: Southampton Canal Society is a non-profit organisation. We hold personal data on computer only for the purposes of maintaining membership records, and administering activities for individuals who are members of the Society. As such we are exempt from registration under the Data Protection Act 1998. However, this does not exempt the Society from adhering to the eight principles and other provisions in the Act.

Amongst these principles is a requirement that all data held is accurate and up-to-date.

Any member may ask at any time to see the information that is being held about them, and this will be supplied.

Privacy: Southampton Canal Society takes its members' privacy seriously. Your details are only available to Society committee members, and are never given to third parties without your consent.

  Individual or Family (first) Member         Family (second) Member
Title (Mr/Mrs/Ms)         Title (Mr/Mrs/Ms)  
Forename(s)     Forename(s)  
Surname     Surname  
Telephone (daytime)      
Telephone (evening)      
Mobile phone      
Email address      



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Stanton at Hillmorton

Laura Sturrock and Peter Oates with Stanton at Hillmorton on this year's Jam 'Ole Run. The boat in it's "fetching" colour of red primer is still undergoing restoration to carrying condition and was on it's first trip after a lengthy docking.

Stanton was one of the five boats which carried the last loads of coal to the Jam 'Ole (Kearley & Tonge's jam factory in Southall, London) in October 1970.

Photo: Alan Rose

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Page created 7 December 2008 - archived 6 February 2009.

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