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SWALLOW CRUISERS

NEWSLETTER

Wharf Lane, Lapworth. B94 5NR Telephone/Fax (01564) 783442 Email: theboatyard@live.com

www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk

Bridge 27 on the Stratford on Avon Canal Open seven days a week, including Bank Holidays

VISIT OUR CHANDLERY FOR YOUR NARROWBOAT AND CRUISER EQUIPMENT Agents for MARINE MART fittings Safety work and other repairs undertaken

Most makes of outboard and diesel engines serviced and repaired Calor Gas Diesel Pump-out Coal

Society Regalia Look good and promote the Society in our Polo Shirts Most sizes Only ÂŁ15 Available at Meetings

Summer 2012

Issue 355


The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society The objects of the Society are to promote the fullest use, maintenance and improvement of all Inland Waterways of Great Britain, and in particular the Stratford upon Avon Canal Stratford upon Avon Canal Society meetings are usually held on the third Friday of each month from October to April at 7.45pm. We meet at Wootton Wawen Village Hall which is situated in the village of Wootton Wawen, very near to the A3400. All are welcome. Admission to meetings is charged at £2 per person. This also covers tea/coffee etc. From the south, leave Stratford on the A3400, pass under the aqueduct at Wootton, past the village store on the left and then the road takes a 90-degree turn towards Henley in Arden. At the apex of the bend, turn left onto the B4089 towards Aston Cantlow/Alcester. On the corner you will see the Bulls Head pub and the entrance to the village hall is 100 yards from the junction, opposite the pub car park. From the north, leave Henley in Arden on the A3400. As you approach Wootton Wawen, the road goes down a slight hill and then takes a 90-degree turn to the left. On the apex of the bend, turn right and follow the instructions as above. Join the Society - Membership rates are now £10 for any number of members living at the same address, per year. Send a cheque (payable to ‘Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society’ together with your name and address to the Membership Secretary (details inside back cover).

Newsletter No. 355

Summer 2012

The Committee and Society may not agree with the opinions expressed in this Newsletter; we encourage the publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed herein can be construed as policy or an official announcement unless it is so stated. The Society and Committee accept no liability whatsoever for any matter in the Newsletter. Date for final contributions for summer issue 356 is 1st September 2012

Small Ads, for sale or wanted, are welcome. Send details to Clive Henderson. (inside back cover)

Front cover: The IWA and the Canal Society were represented on the Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Nanshe heads for the start with Clive, Helen, Steve, Beryl and friends aboard -before the rains set in! Photo Dusty Miller

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Joint Chairmen Alasdair Lawrance Waterside House, Wharf Lane Lapworth SOLIHULL B94 5NR alawrence@me.com Jeremy Scanlon 1 Canal Cottage, Old Warwick Road, Lapworth,SOLIHULL B94 6BA 07973 483724 jeremyscanlon@googlemail.com Treasurer Olwen Blackborow 50 Billesley Lane, Moseley, BIRMINGHAM B13 9QS Membership Secretary Clive Henderson The Bridge House, Church Lane, Lapworth, SOLIHULL B94 5NU 01564 783672 07836 523118 bridgehouse@onetel.com Programme Secretary Volunteer needed PLEASE.......

Minuites Secretary Jack Priest jack@mistweave.co.uk Other Committee Members: Arthur Beeston 24 Stratford Road WARWICK CV34 6AS 01926 419571 art.beeston@sky.com Steve Burt 6 Pear Tree Close, SOLIHULL B90 1LP 0121 244 8439 steve@3mph.co.uk Dan Farrell PO Box 1402 STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CV37 9GR 01789 413119 John Glock 33 The Maltings, LEIGHTON BUZZARD LU7 8BS 01525 382311 john.glock@hotmail.co.uk Malcolm Sadler 3 Swallow Close, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CV37 6TT Tel: 01789 205571 malcolmsadler@live.co.uk

Newsletter Editor Dusty Miller Furze Hill, London Road, SHIPSTON ON STOUR CV36 4EP. Contributions to the newsletter to: brassokid@googlemail.com PLEASE

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Canalside Planning Application Cophams Hill Farm, Bishopton, Stratford upon Avon Planning application 11/02121/FUL There has been debate in the Stratford Herald following a planning application for a moto-X track on Cophams Hill Farm, Bishopton, This is on the west side of locks 49 and 50 at the bottom of the Wilmcote Flight or Old Stratford Locks as they were once known, I understand there has been an unofficial track there for some time - I’m sure I have heard bikes as I've cruised by and this is a retrospective planning application. There is opposition from residents on the town side of the by-pass who have formed an action group (AIM), to have the permission turned down. The debate argues both sides. The opposition states the noise factor. While those in favour argue the case for activities for young people in Stratford. The question is – Do we support the group thus keeping the quiet waterway corridor? As someone who has helped to provide a recreational facility for young people I don’t think I should pass judgement and as editor I should only be impartial in these pages. All I will say is that I would rather have youngsters enjoying a sport in a safe and controlled way, rather than unlicensed and unroadworthy machines using the towpath as a track as happens in many areas.

2011/12 SonACS Programme of Events Annual Dinner As last year we will hold our dinner at Le Bistro Pierre . Tables have been booked for 6.30 pm. Pleas e-mail or contact Clive at the address inside the back cover.

29th June

31st June / 1st July

The Stratford upon Avon River Festival

21st September

The winter programme of evening meetings resume

The Committee would like to hear from members if they have ideas for future meetings. Unless otherwise stated, there is a £2 admission charge to SONACS Wootton Wawen meetings This includes tea/coffee and biscuits.

W&BCS Meetings at The Boat and Railway PH, Stoke Prior. 7th August

Society Walk - See web site for details

4th September

AGM - Amusing tales of treasure hunts BirminghamBob

2nd October

Curious Cuts

Phil Clayton

BCNS Meetings at Titford Pump House, Oldbury. 2nd August

Walk - Details in Boundary Post

Ray Shill

6th September

Women’s life on boats

Mike Miles

4th October

Shrewsbury & Newport Canal

Brian Nelson

IWA Meetings at The Sports Connexion, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, CV8 3FL The moto-x track seen from about 1500ft. Locks 48/49/50 are behind the trees on the right. The thick of Wilmcote rises from lock 47 at the top left of the picture. Sratford northern bye-pass runs left/right Photo Dusty Miller

At the time of preparation of this Newsletter the IWA Website had no details of the new seasons meetings. We suggest a visit to their website at a later date. For IWA Warwickshire forthcoming activities visit www.waterways.org.uk/warwickshire

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Message from the Chairmen and so it came to pass‌ Regular readers will know that the launch of the Canal & River Trust, (CRT), has been delayed, and the date for launch put back to July 12, as at June 24. This is partly because the Commons Select Committee wrote to Ms Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment to ask if she was happy with the arrangements for financing the system in the future. Her reply might be summarised as "Whatever...but there's no more money for anything from Government". At least we now know where we stand, if we didn't before.

Somewhere we must have passed Her Majesty and the Royal Party but it was difficult to see anything in the driving rain and all ones concentration was needed to man the helm. Then it was all over and the long soggy haul in single file to the Barrier and return to West India Docks. Unfortunately the lock was full so we had to go round again by which time we were all soaked through, shivering and very hungry. We finally tied up at our moorings at ten pm. Ambulance crews were at the lock side to treat crews suffering from hypothermia. What a wet, cold, grey and wonderful day, which I'm sure the young Scouts and Guides will remember for the rest of their lives.

For those of a masochistic disposition, It's worth having a look at some of the evidence given to the Committee at a hearing on March 16th. It wasn't without its lighter moments, but the Committee still felt the need to communicate its doubts to the Secretary of State. In one significant exchange, Tony Hales, our Member and Chair of the new CRT was asked what the motivation for the change of Governance was now that since 2008 the 'ability to borrow money' reason had disappeared, and been replaced by "...our belief in a Governance structure that takes responsibility and accountability much closer to the people who actually use and live by the waterway". If that is really the intention, so far it has not been obvious, and it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that it's another example of simply taking public assets out of the public commonwealth. Our gas, elecricity, water, road and rail transport are now largely owned by foreign conglomerates, never mind chocolate factories and loss making toll motorways. At least our muddy ditches are our own, but as Peggy Lee once said, "Is that all there is?". And in the case of complaint about the actions of CRT, to whom is the organisation responsible - the Charity Commissioners, the Secretary of State, or even its paymasters, for example, boat licence payers, or CRT Property Lessees? There was also mention, for the first time that I'm aware, of 'The Protector'. This is a person, (a surveyor with a background in property) who will oversee the Trust's activities, and make sure that "what were public assets are not squandered and badly invested or mis-managed by the Trust". Whilst I have complete faith in the integrity of the Board and the Officers of CRT, it's good to

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Centenary heads down river with the Scouts and Guides aboard

A letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire As a trustee of The Narrowboat Trust I want to thank The Stratford upon Avon Canal Society for their very generous support of Centenary's participation in The Queen's Jubilee River Pageant. She represented Warwickshire and was crewed by county Scouts and Guides. Despite the downpour they had a day that they will remember for the rest of their lives and Centenary is now making her way home. There were items that needed replacement and essential servicing to be done before Centenary went up to London and your kind grant helped to make this possible. Thank you very much. Martin Dunne

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tugs passed us with the now deeply loaded lighters. We met with the other 20 narrowboats who had taken a slightly shorter route via Bow Locks and entered the River by the Dome and finally entering the vast West India Lock. There must have been probably a total of Decorating Centenary 120 boats in the lock. Saturday 2nd June. An easy day. The Scouts and Guides arrived and we decorated Centenary with the Bear and ragged Staff flag of Warwickshire, the RSC flag and patriotic bunting. All aboard then had to be accredited to receive their wrist bands and the boat had to be scrutinised. Sunday 3rd June. 7.30am. In the lock for the journey up to the Mustering point at Chiswick on the buoys. Our prayers for fine weather were not answered as it looked ominous. Final scrutineering and we were given our pageant flags. Then at 2.37pm we were off! The convoy of 40 narrowboats formed into eight rows, five wide and as we went downstream other classes of craft cast off in front of us making up the flotilla of 1000 boats. There were 100 TV screens along the way and the crowds lined the banks, waving their Union Flags and cheering as we went by,- the atmosphere was electric. As we progressed the sky darkened and down The Queen’s barge “Gloriana” came the rain straight into our faces being blown by a strong headwind. The soaked crowds still waved enthusiastically - only in Britain!! By the time we reached central London most boats had their headlights on to add to the spectacle.

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know that there is an individual keeping an eye on things. Who appoints this individual, and if it's a fixed term post or in perpetuity is not clear. Another surprise was the formation of the "Waterways Infrastructure Trust", which is apparently the body that will hold 'all the core network assets that make the network work, not just the water and towpaths, but also the pumping stations, the reservoirs and so on'. CRT will be the sole trustee of this trust, and the WIT 'will not be able to sell any part of the permanent functional endowment without seeking the consent of both the Secretary of State and the Charity Commission'. Without some definitions this would be difficult to enforce, but there is sometimes strength in vagueness. CRT is still free to deal with the property dowry as it sees fit, and close scrutiny will be needed to ensure that it isn't frittered away in these stormy financial seas. The session seemed to be quite robust, and in particular, Barry Gardiner MP was, it seems, quite incisive and aware of the potential pitfalls. We can but hope that the brave new world will be better than the old one - at present, it doesn't seem better than 50/50 to this observer.

Stray Thoughts from The Co-Chair We are still in mourning for the loss of Unicorn. Before 2001, we ran Unicorn trips from April through October. In the decade since, with freedom to choose, we easily chose to keep the same schedule, so for as long as Dorothy and I have been a couple we have lived the larger part of our life afloat. Of course, Canal Cottage keeps us very close to the cut, but every passing boat is a painful reminder that we are earth bound. Depression about boating, or rather the lack of it, was aggravated by illness. Having enjoyed good health for almost my whole adult life, I was dismayed to find myself seriously unwell for the first four months of the year. Had age finally caught me up? Two persistent infections were finally cured in hospital, but replaced (there?)by an E-coli infection. Still more antibiotics, and experiments with therapeutic fasting, finally restored me to health, and an out of the blue email put me briefly back at the tiller.

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A woman I had scarcely known 40 years ago, in Massachusetts, wanted to take a friend on a canal cruise. She was afraid to do it on her own, so I arranged her hire of a Maestermyn cruiser, which Dorothy and I would crew. Serendipitously, our leisurely cruise to Llangollen was, almost to the day, on the 44th anniversary of my very first canal cruise—to Llangollen. Just like the first time, the weather was relentlessly cold and wet. Just like the first time, we had a lovely time. Note: if you get up that way, the Sun Trevor still offers a very fine dinner. I will be seeing those of you arriving at the River festival by canal. As usual I'll be lurking by the barge lock to hand out mooring instructions. If you want some advance information, give me a ring: 07973 483 724. Also as usual, Dorothy and I will be crewing the Sonacs tent and book stall. And we hope to see many of you at the annual dinner. Please note: we do not appear to be getting close to filling the room, so have no hesitation about coming along even if you never got around to booking. And any amiable non-members are very welcome. Being stuck ashore has had one good effect: I have finally finished the book about hotelboating I began nearly 20 years ago. At least I have a completed manuscript. The last time I reached this stage, it cost many hundreds of pounds to have a designer lay out attractive pages, and many hundreds to have more copies printed than I really expected to sell. This time, I am trying to find out, if, with inexpensive software, I can DIY a word processed MS into print-ready pages, after which the print-on-demand revolution should make it unnecessary to risk stacks of unsalable books. I began the story of my (then) 15 years of hotel-boating with a chapter explaining how a Yank ever came to do such a daft thing. When this chapter reached 100 MS pages, with Unicorn still a distant dream, I realized this was a separate book. Eventually I started again on the book I am calling Innkeeper Afloat; in the meantime, Innocents Afloat was, as described above, expensively self-published. Mustn't grumble: the first printing sold out pretty briskly. There are still a few left from the third printing. A copy purchased at the River Festival will not only carry my invaluable autograph, but will make a one pound donation to Sonacs.

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another page possibly with vital information on which you had to act. One of these had the pageant route which was 50 pages - reams of paper and an innumerable number of printing ink cartridges. Saturday/Sunday 12th/13th May. Meet with NB Gort at Brentford for a run down to Limehouse over the pageant route and practice picking up moorings fore and aft on buoys. Wednesday 30th May 10.30am. A beautiful day to meet with Centenary at Bull's Bridge for a final service check when we found that the drive shaft coupling bolts had worked loose. A frantic 2 hours looking for a motor accessory shop that sold spanners and Allen keys which was not easy when very few of the local population speak English. In the end the needed key had to be filed to size as imperial sizes weren't available. Down the Hanwell flight and the weather broke with a thunderstorm and met with another boat from Warwickshire who had just put their back end on the cill and folded the rudder. Ray helped them to become mobile again so they could proceed to Brentford for docking. Thursday 31st May 8pm Through Brentford Gauging Lock and a couple of hours wait for the tide and the Deeply loaded lighter with spoil from the Olympic Park

The Olympic torch

boats that were meeting us from Teddington. Then on down through London to moor in the Regents Dock or Limehouse Marina as it's now called. Our crew of Guide leaders left for home and Phil and I awaited our Evening narrowboat briefing followed by a supper. Friday 1st June 5.30 am. Left Limehouse for West India Dock but instead of locking down onto the Thames we continued up the Limehouse cut and through the Olympic Park (after a two hour security wait) reaching Three Mills Lock. This is a modern hydraulic concrete lock with a lock keepers tower. This is where technology stopped as he had to lean out and shout orders " 'Ere you lot, git art o' me lock"- we were in East London. Another two hour wait while two tugs with massive lighters came up to load spoil from the Olympic site. Before we had reached the Thames via Bow Backwaters and Bow Creek the

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The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant It all started for "Centenary" this time last year when Martin Dunne, the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, who is one of the Trustees of the Stratford upon Avon Narrowboat Trust, asked if she would be suitable to be the official representation from Warwickshire. Without really thinking further than "What a great experience this would be ". I answered "Yes". So all the necessary forms were filled in - on line of course as this was to become almost the only form of communication there was with the organising team. Then there started the long wait to find out if our application was to be successful. We were sworn to secrecy until then. At last on the 31st December an e-mail came through accepting our place. Just in time as I was off to see my grand children on the 4th Jan for two months which left the onus of confirming and filling in the start of many forms to others. When I returned at the end of February, that's when the work really started. E-mails flew through the ether faster than emigrating swallows. As Centenary provides a waterway facility for youth it was decided that on board for the day should be young people from the County so approaches were made to the Commissioners for Guides and Scouts. They came back with three girls and three boys aged 15 to17 who had been chosen on merit. Also there was a leader from each movement. With young people on board the steerers had to have CRB clearances - No problem there as both Phil and I (who does the RYA courses on Centenary with me) are both involved in Scouting and is a compulsory part of adult membership. Next, came security clearance. Each person aboard had to fill in a form for the Metropolitan Police giving driving licence and passport numbers and photographic evidence of identity which would again be looked at on scrutinising on the great day. Each week there came over the computer a Narrowboat Newsletter and a Pageant Newsletter full of the latest information which had to be passed on to the other crew members, the Scout and Guide leaders and also to the leader of the crew that were getting the boat to London. Often in these news letters there was an item that required you to "click here" which would open up

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Editor's Report Forgive me but I’m going to start with a bit of a winge. There could have been a couple of small gaps in the Newsletter this month. We usually manage a 24 page edition in the summer but this time we are down to our usual 20. There must be quite a few members out there that do something interesting on or around the waterway network. PLEASE share your experiences with us. You may have cruised a waterway for the first time or recruised a canal that you haven’t visited for years. Tell us about it. Maybe you could let us know what brought you to waterways, whether it be recently or years ago. Have you a particular knowledge on a certain aspect of waterways? Maybe you are fascinated by the architecture or the engineering, the flora or fauna. Perhaps your interest lies in old boats or engines. Do you get your enjoyment from simply just walking the towpath. I’m sure everybody has a tale to tell. You can send in your contributions to me at the contact details on page 18. E-mail or proper old-fashioned writing - I don’t mind! It’s your Society and your Newsletter so let’s hear from YOU. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Stratford River Festival on Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July on the recreation ground opposite the theatre. The Society will be having a display in the gazebo. Please volunteer to come along and talk to the public about our canal. There are more boats booked in this year and the Festival is fast becoming a popular event in the boating calendar. There is music on the bandstand to suit all from jazz, blues and rock to pop and groups for rather more high-brow tastes. The Olympic torch will be travelling through Stratford and across Clopton bridge on the Sunday. And the Festival is a FREE event! See you there. Book your seat for the Society dinner on the Friday of the Festival. See page 7

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My name is Max

To be held at

On Friday 29th June

Tables booked for 6.30 pm

MENU ENTREES SOUPE DE JOUR Soup of the day SALADE DE BETTERAVE ET CHEVRE Beetroot and goats cheese salad V PLATE AU MAQUEREAU Smoked mackerel pate, creme fraise, lemon SALADE DE CRABE Lightly curried crab with plum tomatoes BRIOCHE ET CHAMPIOGNONS Fricasse of mushrooms with bacon PLATS FILET DE LOUP DE MER Fillet of sea bass, sauteed asparagus, mange tout POULET Breast of chicken, broad bean puree, shallots DAUBE A LA BOUGUIGNONNE Braised beef,shallots , red wine,etc RISSOTTO Mushrooms, French beans, rcket and mascarpone cheese V GRATIN DE LEGUMES Aubergine, courgette, Parmesan, tomato, etc V PAVE DE STEAK 8oz rump, salad , chips and choice of three jus BURGER MAISON Berger, cheese, pickles, salad and chips DESSERTS ET FROMAGES CREME BRULEE Flavour of the day TARTE AUX POMMES Apple tart with raspberry sorbet MOELLEUX AU CHOCOLAT Chocolate torte with Grand Marnier cream MELI-MELO DE FRAISES ET MERINGUE Meringue strawberries and cream GLACES ET SORBETS Choice of ice creams and sorbets PLATEAU DE FROMAGES A rustic French cheese board and biscuits

Many of you know me as 'Max', and I'm the owner of one of the Co-chairs, Alasdair, and Hannah who's the one I've trained to feed me. I've been asked to contribute a bit, because the Editor's always looking for a bit of diversity and anyway, I hear that some mutt has been chosen as a waterways dog, at least according to Towpath Talk. I would've entered myself, but since the judges were led by a SonACS member it would've looked like nepotism, or graft, or corruption and we couldn't have that. Anyway, A. says competitions are "common", and beneath me. The only good thing is a Spaniel has been chosen, and it's well known that they're the best kind of dog to be. This is me on a trip in that tin box called 'James Marshall" that the humans keep going off in. Why on earth they want to go ploughing through these muddy ditches is beyond me, when they've got perfectly good sofas at home. And they have to find somewhere to stop every night, and A has to fiddle with an aluminium pole just so's he can watch "The Simpsons". I wouldn't mind if it was 'Crufts' or 'One man and his dog' or something useful, but there you go, takes all sorts. If you see us when we're out and about, do say 'hello', as I enjoy meeting new friends, and especially those with a biscuit or two in their pocket. There must be many boating pets out there. Dictate an article about your experiences aboard to the humans that feed you and get them to send it to me. I’m sure you have some interesting stories to tell. Ed. Swans join in the fun at the River Festival

Two Courses £17.10 Three Courses £20.10 plus a discretionary 10% service charge Please contact Alasdair or Jeremy to book your seat (see contacts in the back of the Newsletter preferably with your choice of dishes

HURRY PLACES ARE LIMITED FOR THIS VERY POPULAR EVENT Le Bistro Pierre is located in the Swans Nest Hotel near the River Festival site

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agreed. In the gathering dusk we headed for Birmingham, through Worcester Bar, and on along the main line through all the eerily lit factories to Smethwick junction. Here we turned right and went up the three newer locks in the darkness, which was fortunately relieved slightly by the glow from the factory lights. We continued along the old main line until we arrived in Oldbury where John's two other boats were tied. It was now getting quite late and as my bike lights were none too good I left it on the boat and went home by bus. When I returned the next day I found Kenelm was tied alongside the motor Columba and the butty Uranus, John's other two boats, which had also come from the Grand Union fleet. They were loaded with salt from Middlewich and were bound for the laundry at Newbury. Unfortunately Columba's engine had failed, and the load was to be transferred to Kenelm to continue to its Kenelm at Shirley Drawbridge destination, while Columba had a new engine fitted at T.& S. Element's dock. It was very interesting to look around this area of Oldbury which seemed to be totally canal orientated with many arms and basins and day boats tied everywhere. Over lunch in the snug cabin of Columba with John and his crewman we talked of the joys and sorrows of trying to make a living with the boats and of the possibility of me being able to help sometime. As I cycled home this idea seemed most attractive as a way of going boating again, but in the event it never came to fruition.

What does ICE mean? In olden times, that is, about 1985 it meant In-Car Entertainment, but that has been usurped by this interloper. It's the acronym for "In Case of Emergency", and it refers to a group of apps. you can put on your smartphone to help in the event of a crisis. I'm told it is so popular that Ambulance and other Emergency staff now look for that when dealing with a casualty. It brings together all the information that might be useful, from simple name address and next-of-kin, to medications and allergies, eg., to penicillin, for example. None of us is getting younger, and it may be helpful when we're out in the sticks when something happens. The downside, of course, is that a thief will be able to tell quite a lot about you if the phone is stolen, so be prudent. (The iPhone can be locked/wiped/located from a remote computer, but I don't knowabout other devices. On the subject of smartphones, they can be useful for telling the Emergency services where you are if you need their assisstance, as well as BW. It won't tell them where you are, but it will if you have a GPS program on the phone. (A mobile phone cannot give your position by itself - all that can be deduced is the land station it's using. That's why they are of little use when at sea.) On that subject, there have been some very strange stories about the new European emergency number, 112. This is simply a pan-european emergency number, available from land-line or mobile, which will connect you to that country's emergency service, in the UK that's 999. It does not give your position, (see above), and does not work even from a phone with a flat battery, (which has been claimed), and it doesn't predict the Lottery.

Volunteers are needed on the Society stand at the Stratford River Festival

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My Early Waterway Memories My Introduction to Working Boats Early the following Saturday the Petter hot bulb engine was coaxed into life, the drawbridge lifted, and the slow progress resumed. From here onwards the condition of the canal deteriorated even further as we approached the built up area of Yardley Wood. For once the hordes of children who appeared whenever a boat came by were put to good use. There must have been more than fifty willing helpers pulling on the long towline. At every bridgehole and on the many scours the counter of the boat was lifted more than six inches from the water. Even with this help it was Sunday before the Nelson cleared the guillotine lock and reached the deeper water of the Worcester canal. How nice it was to head for Tardebigge with plenty of water under the skeg. The following Saturday we set off down the thirty, the six and the six, as the boatmen called them, to leave the boat tied to Hanbury wharf for a further week. The next Sunday, having inspected the top three very derelict locks on the old Droitwich Junction canal, we set off on a quite eventful run to Diglis Basin. Because of the salt works at Stoke Prior the long Hanbury pound had slightly salty water that makes a good habitat for a very tall variety of reed to grow. Although the water was deep the channel through the seven foot high reeds was only about six feet wide so that one had no vision sideways and hardly any forwards, particularly on the turns, where the direction of the canal had to be guessed at. As it would have been impossible to see another boat approaching, we were glad that there was not much traffic on the Worcester canal in those days. Fortunately after Dunhampstead tunnel the dense growth began to thin out. Following a stop at Tibberton for lunch we soon worked down the remaining locks to the edge of the City where, as usual

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with underused urban canals, the rubbish problem and lack of dredging made us struggle through the shallow water, especially at the bridgeholes. At Lowesmoor some urchins emptied the disgusting contents of one of the pig bins, which were left in most streets at that time to be filled with kitchen scraps to be boiled for pig food, over us as we bounced over the rubbish under a bridge. We were glad to reach Diglis Basin where we left Nelson tied up opposite Townsend's mill ready for the new owner to complete the journey. This was the last I saw of the Nelson, but it had been a most interesting journey as it had introduced me to the pleasure of boating with unconverted boats. In April the first commercial boat to use the Stratford canal for many years came through. I saw the Kenelm, owned by John Knill who had recently set up as a canal carrier, tied at the drawbridge facing Kings Norton as I rode home from work one night. It remained there for several days but when I cycled by on Saturday afternoon it had left, so I gave chase along the towpath. I caught up with the boat at Yardley Wood Church bridge where, inevitably, trouble had occurred in the bridgehole. Les Thompson, the section inspector from Tardebigge, and one of his men were helping and I added my weight to the rope. Once through, and with my bike in the hold, we all went with the boat to help at two or three other places where trouble occurred. Kenelm, a big Woolwich boat that had been Epsom from the Grand Union fleet, drew much less than the Nelson had, so it was really just a slow slog through to Kings Norton where the two waterways men left. Kenelm was heading for Oldbury and John Knill asked me if I was able to stay on the boat with his crewman so that he could go ahead by road and I readily

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SONACS Newsletter Summer 2012  

The Newsletter of the Stratford upon Avon Canal Society

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