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Issue 455 - December 2010

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Chairman's Column

 
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December Meeting

Once again our Society is hosting the Annual Inter-Society Waterways Quiz. It is always a pleasure to welcome the participating teams. As reigning champions, IWA Salisbury have organised the Quiz and provided the Quiz Master.

Tonight's teams: IWA Guildford & Reading, IWA Solent &Arun, Southampton Canal Society and IWA Salisbury. Thanks also to Eric Lewis for engraving and polishing the Trophy.

As tradition the evening will finish off with an American Supper.

January Meeting

On Thursday 6th January 2011 we will be holding our Members' Photographic Evening and Competition.

This gives everyone the opportunity to show some pictures that you feel will entertain/ amuse/ educate your fellow members.

Just before the tea interval, entries for the Photographic Competition will be shown, you don't have to be showing other picture during the evening to enter. One picture only, to do with the waterways.

As before we hope to accommodate any format. Please contact Peter Oates if you have any questions about this.

2011 Programme

Please look at the Waterways Diary page for details of speakers for next year's programme up to March.

Society Skittles Evening

Another very successful event was held on 19th November. A report on this evening can be found elsewhere in this Newsletter. Again, our thanks go to Maureen Greenham for organising a excellent evening.

Seasonal Greeting to all our Members

We have now reached the end of our 2010 programme and, as is usual at this time of year, I wish all our Members a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Alan Rose


New book celebrates K&A Canal's 200 years

 
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Book coverA new book on the Kennet & Avon Canal is to be published on the 28th December, 200 years to the day after the opening of the canal that allowed boats to travel from Bristol to Reading.

When the Kennet & Avon Canal opened on 28 December 1810 it really was 'the wonder of its age'. A broad waterway built across southern England as a trade route between the country's two greatest ports - London and Bristol - and the countryside through which it passed would never be the same.

Yet only 30 years after it was completed, Brunel's Great Western Railway opened and robbed it of much of its traffic. Trade on the canal declined and after decades of neglect came ultimate dereliction for the canal.

The K&A lay like a sleeping princess, weed-choked and silent, its locks and bridges crumbling - but there were people determined to keep it alive and thanks to their effort it became the Queen of Waters - the title of a new book to be published in December by Kirsten Elliott, subtitled "A journey in Time along the Kennet & Avon Canal".

In the year celebrating the bicentenary of the first cargo travelling from Bristol to Reading - and twenty years on from the grand reopening by the Queen - this new book pays tribute to the canal that refused to die.

Queen of Waters: A Journey in Time Along the Kennet and Avon Canal by Kirsten Elliott. 216pp Price: £20.00


New bridge for the Wilts & Berks Canal

 
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An historic steel bridge that was destined for the scrapyard will get a new lease of life thanks to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.

Mendip District Council donated the historic Bailey Bridge to the W&BCT because it is being replaced by a new £200,000 bridge that will be opened in January 2011.

The bridge had spanned the river in Frome since 1986 - but it had to be closed to traffic in 2006 for safety reasons.

The bridge has been taken to Semington where it will be renovated by Trust members and the parts will be used to build a slightly shorter-span farm crossing on the new canal link from the Kennet & Avon Canal at Semington to the River Avon in Melksham.

Mike Lee the W&B Canal Trust Director of Engineering said, "I worked with the contractors to make sure the bridge was dismantled very carefully so that all reusable parts were saved for renovation although, unfortunately, all of the decking and the stringers that support it had to be scrapped." He continued, "Although we planned how the bridge was to be removed very carefully it was still nerve-wracking to see the structure being lifted out gently by the crane."

WBCT Chairman, John Laverick said, "The Melksham Link project is a key part of our restoration plans and the bridge will be put to good use.

"Many people who use the canal enjoy the connections with our great industrial heritage so we will include interpretative signs on the towpath to highlight the historic significance of this type of bridge. It is an honour to have this historic structure as part of our waterway."

http://kacanaltimes.blogspot.com 21 November 2010


November Meeting

The Gunpowder Plot - Richard Thomas

 
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Our members were pleased to welcome back Richard Thomas and his wife Celia. Richard is connected with the former Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey, where he was asked in 2005, to put together an illustrated talk, looking at the background of the "Powder Treason".

James I, when crowned, agreed to view the Catholics favourably, but as we know the church interfered with running the country.

The wealthy Catesby, Percy and ten other conspirators including their "old" school friend Guido Fawkes, laid the plot. How did they manage to conceal many drums of black powder in rented rooms under the "House of Lords"? Many other influential people were drawn in to finance the plot, and, to help with the eventual escape.

Lord Salisbury had his spies everywhere and Guido Fawkes was arrested, tortured and thrown into The Tower of London. Others took flight, riding 3 days up country, taking food and horses from the grand estates of Warwickshire. Catesby was shot at Holbeech House, Worcestershire. With others rounded up, they were brought back to London to be interrogated, found guilty of treason and finally, ten weeks later, hung drawn and quartered.

The presentation was excellent with old Maps and letters. A fire in the House of Lords in 1834 destroyed any chance of evidence which, with today's modern technology, would have been able to confirm some of the truth of this 405 year old story.

The Catesby family home is at Ashby St Ledgers, Northampton just off the A361. We recently discovered this lovely village on our way to the Crick Boat Show.

Angela Rose


Society Skittles Evening

 
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Members at the Phoenix Keith McKeown receives his prize Maureen Greenham and Alan Rose

Above left: Members enjoying their evening.

Above right: Keith McKeown receives the men's prize.

Right: Maureen Greenham and Alan Rose laugh over a tin of chocolates.

Another successful and enjoyable Society Skittles Evening was held at The Phoenix in Twyford on Friday 19 November. As always, we were able to attract a good crowd of members and guests (thirty in all).

We are grateful to Maureen Greenham for organising the whole event which followed the format of the competition held earlier in the year, that is no teams, just individual 'girls 'and 'boys'. Things were going quite well until Maureen announced that in the final round we would have to turn our backs on the skittles and bowl between our legs (not always a pretty sight!!!). The ladies competition was won by Maureen (who else) and the men's by Keith McKeown, who were awarded their prizes. Many congratulations to them. There were also booby prizes but I am too much of a gentleman to tell you who won those!

Maureen had organised the usual raffle - many thanks to those who donated the prizes.

It was a great evening, and all appeared to enjoy the food laid on by The Phoenix. Please keep your eye on the Newsletter for the announcement of the next Skittles Evening.

Paul Herbert


SCS Christmas/New Year Lunch

 
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Maureen Greenham says that the Christmas/New Year lunch, which is to be held at The Blue Hayes on Saturday 15 January, is now fully booked. She asks, "Please make your choices from the menu at the next meeting and pay your deposit or full payment then." If you are unable to get to the December meeting, please contact Maureen as soon as possible either by telephone 02380 406951 or email maureen.greenham@talktalk.net


New Book on Southampton

 
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Book cover Our regular readers may remember that in March a request from Penny Legg, a Southampton based writer, was published in this Newsletter. She was appealing for help with material for a book she was producing about Southampton.

Members may be interested to know that this book, Southampton Then & Now, has recently been published. The city of Southampton has a rich heritage, which is uniquely reflected in this fascinating new compilation. Contrasting a rare selection of archive images with full-colour modern photographs, this book reveals the ever-changing faces and buildings of Southampton. Covering local landmarks, pubs and hotels, churches, parks, transport, work and leisure, this is a wide-ranging look at the city's colourful history. Inspiring fond memories in many, and revealing the Southampton of yesteryear to others, this volume will appeal to all who know and love the city.

Priced £12.99 this book should be in local bookshops and would make a good Christmas present.

Penny has also written another book, Haunted Southampton, which is due to be published in January. This collection of stories tells of the inexplicable occurrences and ghostly apparitions that have haunted residents of the city for centuries. From the Roman soldiers who pervade Bitterne Manor to the Grey Lady at the Royal Victoria Country Park, the site of a former military hospital, the city is host to spirits not yet departed who send a shiver down the spines of the living. No matter where you are in the city, incidents of unexplained phenomena have taken place nearby.


Request for Help

 
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Your editor recently received the email printed below from someone asking for some information about the past. I said that I would see if any of our members were in position to help. If you can help please let me know (contact details) and I will pass the information to Bill Saville.

Hi there,

A few old codgers (including me) were talking about all our yesterdays as we tend to do a lot these days.

We were reminiscing about the large baulks of timber that used to be in the sea just out side Portsmouth Dockyard in special pens for 'seasoning' we presumed.

One of our gang recalled a similar operation that took place just upstream of Northam Bridge. Southampton, for many years, where there was a large timber merchants. We are referring to the site adjacent to the bridge and opposite the old Southern Television Studios (Plaza Cinema?) - where Hampshire Tiles now operate. Whilst we can all remember the site - large black sheds with the timber pens in the river containing huge baulks of timber at 12" x 12" and 30' long - none of us can remember the name of the company.

I would be much obliged if any of your senior colleagues can recall the name and put our minds to rest.

Best wishes

Bill Saville


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