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Issue 497 - June 2014

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Chairman’s Column

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June Meeting

This evening we look forward to all the “Ups & Downs of the South Pennine Ring” with Gordon Osborn SCS member & committee member.

Society Boat Gathering

The May Bank Holiday weather was very kind to us as we set up for our BBQ at Flecknoe on the Saturday. We had very good company with Peter and Laura on Stanton, Terry and his son Andrew on Dolly, Eric and Sue on Remus , Paul and Gill with the Evelyn Broadbent, Angela and I on Liberty .

Sunday morning saw us all cruise down to Braunston and found moorings. After refreshments on the towpath, some of us walked around the IWA Northampton Branch Rally being held in the Marina. We were pleased to see a Canal & River Trust presence with Richard Parry, the chief executive who was listening to other IWA members and joining in on a boat trip.

Our evening meal at the Boat House was good.

We had arranged to meet up with Pete Boyce and Irene at the Tess Yard on the Braunston Turn on Monday morning.

After Pete’s talk in April, it was good to be able to see and touch the wooden boats that are being restored: James Loader, Clent and Lucy which are detailed in the May Newsletter. Also we saw in the sheds where the tools, machinery & materials are kept for the painstaking work being carried out. It was evident that time for restoration, as always, is a major restraint! After coffee, cake and biscuits we went our separate ways.

Stanton stayed in Braunston as it was going into the dry dock at the bottom lock later in the week. Evelyn Broadbent was taken to Calcutt for an engine service. The rest of us were going back to the Engine Arm up Napton Locks. But at third lock up the flight there were problems! The spill way culvert had got blocked and water backed up causing the lock tail wall and bank to collapse. This led to the canal being closed as major work was needed to make it safe. We left Liberty moored down from the Folly Inn.

The CRT website later said that a temporary repair had allowed the lock to be re-opened within a week and that full repairs will be carried out in the Winter.

Unfortunately, Ken and Margaret Froud were not able to join us this year as Margret had hurt her knee and was suffering other ongoing health issues. Angela and I visited them for a chat and cup of tea later and gave Best Wishes to them from all at Southampton Canal Society.

July Meeting

Our Next Meeting will be on Thursday 3rd July Annual General Meeting. This will be followed by Cheese & Wine and a Natter.

Alan Rose

What lies beneath?

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Our volunteers are used to collecting a weird and wonderful array of rubbish from our canals and the towpaths that run beside them. But occasionally they come across something that makes even the most seasoned volunteer raise their eyebrows. Just what, we wonder, is the story behind these items – all found by our Towpath Taskforce teams:

Weird and wonderful findings:

  • A safe (found at Harlesden) full of locker keys and £1 coins
  • The top half of a female mannequin – which gave our team quite a fright!
  • A polar bear made of wire
  • A child’s sit-in peddle car
  • A postman’s trolley
  • A toy digger
  • A wheelchair
  • An aeroplane propeller
  • A pair of crutches
  • An air rifle

Also worthy of mention is the row of underpants found hanging up along the canal in Willesden!

Then there are the items which you would think are unusual, but actually our teams regularly find them in or near the canals.

And that, we think, is a story in itself.

More regular findings:

  • Child’s bike
  • Motorbike
  • Microwave
  • Fridge
  • Clothes
  • Washing machine
  • Shoes
  • Mattress
  • Traffic cones
  • Underwear (you can’t help but wonder… how?)

At the end of April, staff from Marks & Spencers joined forces with our staff for the annual M&S clean-up event. Among their haul was a leopard-print thong found on the Rochdale Canal in Manchester, a Flymo on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes and an angle grinder besides the River Severn in Worcester.

Now this all makes quite an amusing tale, but without the efforts of our staff and volunteers, items like this would remain in our beautiful canals and rivers: damaging the natural environment; threatening the local wildlife and of course, spoiling the area for everyone.

So once again, we say a heartfelt thank you to our amazing Towpath Taskforce teams and all of our hard-working volunteers.

23 May 2014

Membership Subscriptions Reminder

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Subscriptions for the year 2014/2015 were due on 1 April 2014. This year the joint subscription is £27 and £16 for individuals. I would be happy to receive subscriptions at the next meeting. Many thanks.

Gill Herbert, Treasurer & Membership Secretary

How I Caught the Canal Bug

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This month we have the first part of an article by Laurie Pearce about his boating on the inland waterways. Thank you for this contribution, Laurie.

It all started back in 1968 when friends with whom I was staying in Harrow took me out to a pub alongside the Grand Union Canal. It turned out to be the pub by the Soulbury Locks and I was enchanted by the scene and was determined to learn more about our inland waterways. The landlord told me that all the canal boats had been iced up for three months that winter which had literally decimated the trade.

I discovered that my nearest canal was the Kennet and Avon which, although derelict in parts, boasted a strong Association whose aim was to restore the canal to full navigation. I then joined the Newbury Branch whose headquarters was the old Stone Building on Newbury Wharf which was owned by BWB at the time.

My first boat was an 8ft fibre glass dinghy which I bought for £20 locally. I then acquired an old second hand outboard engine plus a roof rack for my car in order to transport my boat. I found that there was clear water at Tyle Mill where the Kennet flowed towards Sulhampstead Lock so, together with some friends, we launched Pounder, the name I had chosen for it, over the canal bank below Tyle Mill Lock. With four occupants there was little freeboard, but we proceeded mainly with the current until we were confronted by the weir before the cut to Sulhampstead Lock which was just a sea of solid weed! We hastily turned and returned to Tyle Mill feeling quite pleased with ourselves that we had navigated a part of the K&A! I gave no thought of having a licence at the time!

Over the next few months we navigated a stretch at Newbury and at Honey Street where renewing shear pins on the outboard was not our favourite pastime!! We also attended a rally at Pewsey where our third crew member was a dummy representing Barbara Castle who was Minister of Transport at that time.

In due time I became ambitious, sold Pounder which is still in being on the Hamble River, and bought a Microplus cruiser and trailer from a gentleman in Chandlers Ford. I attended rallies at Reading and another on the Slough Arm of the Grand Union, but decided that I would advance ambition further, so sold the Microplus and bought a second hand 18ft Callumcraft. By this time I was in possession of a BWB cruising licence, but didn’t require a mooring licence as the boat was kept in my garden! Both my last two boats were named Bittern , the secretive bird which nests in the reed beds.

With the Callumcraft we ventured further afield: this being possible having a trailable boat and the fact that I was still working. We went up to Wales with fellow members Peter and Margaret Wheble and launched the two boats at Govilon Wharf on the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal. Except for the after effects of eating a poisoned cream bun in Brecon, the holiday was a great success although I also had the misfortune to fall in the canal. Other trips were on the Oxford Canal for a few days, launching from a slipway near Kidlington, and a two week round trip taking in the Thames, Grand Union and Oxford Canals.

The highlight of our trips was attending the 1973 IWA Rally at Ely in the Fens. We launched at Oundle on the River Nene where we obtained our licence to navigate the Middle Levels. This proved to be a most interesting experience with the guillotine lock gates of the Nene to add to one’s pleasure!!

We were accompanied on this trip by the late Joan and John Reed, SCS members who had moved to Braunston with their Holt Abbott cruiser [seen recently near Braunston – Ed]. Much fun was had at Salter’s Lode where we entered the River Ouse and made our way the short distance to Denver Sluice. Two other SCS members also attended the Rally, David and Margaret Kesslar-Lyne, in their home built cruiser Marave.

There was much ill feeling from the local fishing fraternity who were not used to seeing such a large number of boats navigating the Fens and angry exchanges were often made!!

Laurie Pearce

To be concluded next month

Annual General Meeting 2014

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In accordance with the Constitution, notice is hereby formally given of the Southampton Canal Society's Annual General Meeting on the 3rd July 2014 at Chilworth Parish Hall, Chilworth Road, Chilworth, Southampton at 7.45pm.

Any member may request an item to be included on the agenda of the AGM by giving at least fourteen days written notice of the item and its nature to the Chairman, Alan Rose (contact details can be found at the top of this page).

Please note that the papers associated with the AGM (Agenda, Minutes of last year’s AGM, Officers’ Reports and the Society’s Accounts) will be published in the July Newsletter.

Send your comments to the Web Site manager.

© Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2014. 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 7 June 2014 - last updated 6 July 2014.

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