Butty Updates from across the canal Find out what's being happening along the K&A Canal
Sulis surveys the canal Discover more about the high-tech gadgets used to map the canal in 360°
OBE celebrations A familiar name in The Queen’s Birthday Honours list
In this edition Capturing the canal
News Updates from across the canal
6 OBE celebrations David Bruce appeats in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in recognition for charity work
Meet Michael Goodenough
In memory of John Webb and Robert Shopland Dedications for two figures of the waterways
9–10 News from the Nivernais Tales from the waterways of France
Julie's Silver Oak
Character of the cut We pose questions of Laura Mullholland, CRT ecologist
13–18 Branch updates Find out what our branches have been up to over the last six months
21 oxphere, Cover image: Ge l na ca the g yin surve
From the archives
Discover more about the history of the K&A Canal
Sulis surveys the canal
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Welcome Who's who President: Rob Dean CMG
So, how do I start this first letter as the new Editor of the Butty? Firstly, I would like to thank Lesley Hooper, the retiring Editor for her amazing commitment to the magazine over the last five years. Secondly, a bit about me. I am a Trust member and a volunteer on the Kenavon Venture out of Devizes, also secretary of the Devizes branch, all of which started in 2013 when I was press-ganged (very willingly) after a trip on the KV. I have been hooked ever since. The theme of this issue is “New Beginnings". We have all had a tough 18 months one way or another so now is the time to put that to one side and look forward to a future with great excitement and promise for the Trust. There has been an awesome response to our request for articles and photos across the whole of the Trust. Despite the problems encountered during the pandemic there have been some great events and efforts made by all concerned to continue to promote the canal and our lovely trip boats and Crofton. We would love to know what you think of our new approach to the magazine,and we are hoping to include a 'letters to the editor' page in future editions. Finally, I would like to thank my new colleague, Zaira, who has been invaluable with her technical and marketing knowledge. We are excited to work together to produce an eclectic magazine which will reflect changing times and new beginnings for us all. With all good wishes,
Sharmain Washbourne Editor
Get in touch 01380 721279 email@example.com • firstname.lastname@example.org /Canalboattrips @kennetandavoncanaltrust
K&A Canal Trust, Devises Wharf, Couch Lane, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 1EB
Vice presidents: The Rt Hon Lord Benyon Bill Fisher David Lamb Michael Corfield Michael Goodenough Prunella Scales Timothy West Trust council: Chris Sims, Chair: email@example.com Chris Bolt, Treasurer: firstname.lastname@example.org David Copley Graham Snook Mike Bailey Peter Turvey, Health & Safety Robert Dunton Terry Mundy, Museum: email@example.com Tim Pyatt Zaira Puddephatt, Marketing & Communications Enterprise board: Chris Churchouse, Chair firstname.lastname@example.org Carolyn Calder Ceri Hanlon Chris Bolt Chris Sims Graham Puddephatt Julian Foley Tim Pyatt Office: Jen Smith-Furmage, Bookings: email@example.com Helen Flavin, Finance: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trust is a registered charity, No. CC209206, and a company limited by guarantee registered in England, No. 726331 Autumn 2021
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News The Butty – How would you like your copy?
Matilda named at Water Fest
We are keen to know your preference as to how
Reading's Water Fest resumed in August 2021
you would like to receive your copy of the Kennet &
and it was enjoyable to take part with an in-person
Avon Canal Trust membership magazine, The Butty.
event again. There was fun for all the family along
Our membership preferences are due to change.
the banks of the canal, into the Abbey Ruins and
From next spring, if we hold an email address for you
Forbury Gardens. A number of boats joined us at
on file you will receive a digital copy unless we hear
Chestnut Walk all decorated in their finery. This
from you to opt into a hard copy.
year's winner of the Best-Dressed Boat was Emma,
You can change your preference at anytime – let
which belongs to Ellie and Muz.
us know by contacting our office on
One of our highlights was welcoming Reading's
email@example.com or 01380 721279.
Mayor and Mayoress, as well as the Trust Chairman, to officially name Reading's trip boat
Are you our Golden Guest?
The past eighteen months has been like no other period in our living memory. We have relied so much on those who care and support others. By way of a huge thank you to all those who care for others the Bruce Boats has attracted sponsors for a limited number of special day trips for those run from the start of 2022 season. In celebration of the upcoming season they are also looking for a ‘Golden Guest’. Do you know someone who will be celebrating their 100th birthday in 2022? The Bruce Trust will sponsor and entertain
Credit: Reading Water Fest
incredibly special people, our carers. These trips will
them, with eight of their family or friends, for a day on the canal, lunch included. For more details of either trip please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01380 721279
Partnership work is key Representatives from the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust have been meeting with groups under the umbrella of the Kennet Catchment Partnership, including Action for the River Kennet, the Environment Agency, the Canal and River Trust. The aim is to balance environmental, leisure, agricultural and commercial interests. If nothing else, we need to continue to allow other parties to see the canal as bringing many benefits to all and defend the use of the canal against the radical view of some fishing groups that the canal and its use are a blight on the rivers which should be abolished!
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News The Rose receives a much needed facelift As well as a full exterior repaint she embarked on a trip to Newbury for dry docking, MCA inspection and blacking the hull. This provided an interesting experience for some of her crew who had not previously sailed in a fast-flowing river navigation. Moving forward over the ground while operating astern gear provided a tricky challenge in steering her as the flow past her rudder reversed the normal helm operation! The skill of our helmsman was remarkable and earned some well earned praise from the accompanying crew. The Rose of Hungerford is nearly forty years old; she continues to need care and attention. How she will meet the developing requirements for safety, pollution and the environment will need to be addressed. Meanwhile, long may she provide pleasure and interest for passengers as well as profit for the Trust.
Digital refresh Over the next few months, we are updating the Trust website. This will form the start of enhancing our digital presence, offering many opportunities to better communicate with those interested in our canal as well as you, our members. Our email communications are also in the spotlight; thank you to everyone who responded to our request for email addresses. Look out for emails from your branch chairs who will be in touch to keep you up to date with local activity. If you would like to hear more from us, please contact email@example.com confirming your email address. We are also on the look out to recruit some social media and website volunteers. If you know someone who could spend some time helping us promote the Trust online – even sourcing content can be helpful! You don't need to have vast technical skill or know anything about Facebook as full training will be provided – contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested!
Aerial view of canal aquired The Trust was recently offered two reels of 16mm film shot by Nicholas Shipley MKBS in 1983 using a handheld camera onboard a helicopter. The footage captures images across the length of the canal, showing some sites under restoration and others yet to be tackled. We were able to get the film digitised at no cost to the Trust, and now hold the copyright. The digital files are held by the Trust Archives, and we hope to make the film more widely available soon.
Let’s get quizzical! 19 November 2021, gather your friends and family to join our first ever KACT virtual quiz! It would be great to have a team representing each Branch. Your team can be split between multiple locations or all in the same room. There will, of course, be a canal-focused round – but don’t let that put you off, anyone can join! Prizes will be awarded to the winning team. For joining instructions, email email@example.com
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News Lock surveys We are in the early stages of coordinating a Trust-
Jump onboard a Discovery Day Trip! This year Bruce Boats has embarked on a
wide project to help monitor the condition of the locks
partnership with Crofton Beam Engines. Our
along the K&A and identify issues. The intention is
“Discovery Day Trips” will start in 2022 and include a
that a full survey of each lock will be carried out once
visit to Crofton as part of the day out.
or twice a year and fed into a database; data can then be reviewed, and appropriate action taken from small maintenance tasks (which the Trust could carry out) to
Credit: Chris Slaney
highlighting more major works to CRT for action.
We are looking for volunteers from each Branch to
The trips will focus on education around the canal,
help complete the surveys and hope to find someone
operating canal boats and of course the history and
to 'adopt' each lock. Do you regularly visit a specific
operation of Crofton – as well as the other activities
lock and could help? Full training will be provided. If
KACT offers. This is a great opportunity for young
you are interested email firstname.lastname@example.org
people, and details will appear soon on the Bruce
or call Graham on 07802 154504.
Boat & Crofton websites.
Hello to Hercules! Meet Hercules, who joined the Devizes museum staff in June. Hercules came from Pony & Carriage Ltd in Devon and is a life size model of the type of horse that might have been used to pull unpowered narrowboats on our inland waterways. He is showing the type of harness that would have been worn; however, the design of the harness did differ in some regions and the horses would also have varied in size and breed as well, depending on the size of boat and the tonnage carried. The harness that Hercules is wearing is for a larger horse but shows off the general arrangement of the collar, tow line, blinkers and bobbins. Hercules is on display in the museum on Wednesdays and Thursdays – please come and visit!
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OBE Celebrations In June 2021, David Bruce was delighted to be awarded an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours for his charitable work as a Founding Trustee of The Bruce Trust and as the immediate past-President of The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. The Bruce Trust was created by David and Louise Bruce in 1988, following the sale of Bruce's Brewery and the Firkin Pubs in London. Being keen to plough back some of the proceeds into a project which would benefit the community, they became intrigued with the
The Bruce Trust relies upon the hard work of
possibility of providing for disabled, disadvantaged, or
volunteers each week during the season, to clean inside
elderly people the opportunity to enjoy self-steer, self-
and out, carry out engineering checks and then, when
catering holidays, cruising on the Kennet & Avon
the new group arrived, help them on board and escort
them down the canal to familiarise themselves with the
They donated £80,000 of the sale proceeds to their Trust and started designing their first wide-beam boat which would provide the ultimate flexibility to
boat. Some volunteers also crew for local groups to enable them to enjoy a day trip on the canal. Since 1990, when the Bruce Trust first became
accommodate even the most seriously disabled
operational, over 25,000 people with special needs and
their families, friends and carers have enjoyed holidays
Their first boat, The Rebecca (named after their
with the Trust. There has been a high percentage of
first daughter), began construction in October 1989
repeat bookings, more than 63% which is a measure of
and was delivered in January 1990 to Great Bedwyn
where she was fitted out by a couple of David’s bar-
David became Vice-President of The Kennet & Avon
fitters from the Firkin pubs. She was fully booked for
Canal Trust in 2008, becoming President from 2011 until
that season even before her first hirer arrived in the
2019. This was at a particularly challenging time when
spring of 1990.
British Waterways made a successful bid for funding
That first season was so successful, providing
from the National Lottery to enable the restoration work
holidays for 243 disabled people, together with their
to the Kennet & Avon Canal to take place. It was
carers, that a fundraising campaign was launched and
followed by a Public Consultation to enable British
The Hannah (named after their second daughter),
Waterways to obtain charitable status, becoming The
joined the fleet in 1992.
Canal & River Trust.
Over half a million pounds has now been raised to
In 2013, David was honoured to receive on behalf of
develop the current fleet of four boats which now
all The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust volunteers, The
comprises 1 x 12, 2 x 10 and 1 x 6 berth boats, each
Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, presented at
featuring state-of-the-art facilities for every
Devizes by HRH The Princess Royal.
conceivable type of disability, including a hospital bed on The Rebecca.
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In memory of
John Webb 1935–2021
After a short illness John Webb died at his home in
At that time, he produced a nine-page list of works
Bath in early January. John was an enthusiastic and
and expressed “It would be wonderful if by the end of
committed canal supporter. Taking family canal
2012 we had made a big dent”. It is a long list indeed!
holidays and owning two narrowboats.
For several years John coordinated the group, and a
He was vice-president and member of the Trust
very big dent wasmade in the list. After handing over to
Council when Mike Rodd was the chairman. He took
his successor, he moved his attention to improvements
on the difficult task of finding a solution to the mooring
at Dundas Wharf. Over the next few years, he oversaw
congestion on the western end of the canal, attending
the restoration of the old Toll House, resurfacing and
many difficult meetings and harrying the CRT. He was
restoration of the Acramans Crane, leading to the award
chairman of the Avon and Wilts Branch of the IWA for
of the prestigious Transport Trust Red Wheel.
10 years. John had a distinguished career as Quantity
He continued to lead the group until shortly before
Surveyor, expert witness and International Arbitrator.
Christmas 2020. The transformation of Dundas Wharf
Working on huge construction sites and travelling
will remain a monument to John’s exacting and
toarbitrate on prestigious international projects.
painstaking attention and drive. By the time of his
He used this experience to great effect along the
retirement John had accrued in excess of 4,000 hours
western end of the K&A. He knew details about
volunteering for CRT. However, the actual total is
structures and requirements of Conservation Plans,
which he regularly reminded BW and then CRT about.
It was an honour and
He kept a close eye on planning applications that may
privilege for so many to
affect the canal and played a significant role in the
work with John over the
planning application by the Wilts and Berks Canal
last 11 years and to be
Restoration Trust, for the Melksham Link Project.
able to call him a friend.
John was a practical hands-on man. He initiated and
We all miss him, and a
managed a large number of “make a difference
John Webb shaped hole
projects” along the canal from Bath the Dundas and
will be forever at Dundas
on the River Avon down to Hanham Lock.
At Claverton, John project managed the construction of a wonderful replica of the wharf crane
Before his death, we were able to tell him that the Toll
at Burbage. It will remain as a testament to John’s
House at Dundas is to be named “The John Webb Toll
professional skills and attention to detail, attributes
that he brought to bear on everything he undertook.
Subsequently the volunteers and many members of
After Claverton he drove the reformation of the Bath
his family, including his widow Olive, dedicated a plaque
and Bristol Branch of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust
on 12 May 2021. We raised a few glasses of fine wine
in 2012 which has morphed into the current Towpath
(another of John’s passions) and shared many stories of
Workforce in Bath.
John and his rich life. —David Ferns
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In memory of
Robert Shopland 1940–2021
Robert Shopland, a former K&A publicity officer for
To publicise the volunteer effort still further, he invited
the Trust’s Bath & Bristol branch in the sixties, and
editors of the waterway press to meetings at a rented
later publisher and editor of Waterways World passed
lengthman’s cottage just around the corner from Dundas
away on 24 May 2021 at BUPA Norwood Lodge Care
aqueduct. And so came Hugh MacKnight (editor IWA’s
Home after a lengthy illness.
Bulletin), Illtyd Harrington (editor IWAAC journal) and
Robert, or Bob as he was popularly known, first became interested in canal restoration when he joined
John Liley (editor Motor Boat and Yachting). Perhaps his greatest achievement, together with Don
the IWA South West branch to help save the
Collinson was persuading Bath Corporation to fund half
Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. A hard-fought
the cost of restoring the Widcombe flight of K&A Canal
campaign in which he was directly involved in the
locks in Bath. This success led him to apply for the post
production of a 38-page report, persuaded IWRAC to
of General Secretary of the Inland Waterways
retain the waterway.
Association, a post he occupied for eight years at the heart of the restoration movement. As the rise in the number of canal restoration projects increased and more and more people took to boating, Bob – together with Harry Arnold and Russ Goodwin – decided there was scope for a waterway magazine and launched Waterways World in 1972. As editor, Bob devoted himself to making a success of the title which was achieved within a matter of six years. Alongside the title, he introduced a series of Cruising Guides of the most popular canals, and Reader Cruises aboard cruise liners. With a boyhood interest in shipping since he worked as a clerk for the Port of Bristol Authority, and with Waterways World well established, Bob purchased Ships Monthly and began the task of stopping the fall in sales by enlisting shipping experts to contribute articles.
This success led him to join the Bath & Bristol branch
Over time, Bob played his part in bringing the joy of
of the K&A Trust where he set about publicising the
canals to the wider public through his volunteer work
volunteer efforts to save the canal from closure. He
publicising and campaigning for the restoration of the
took display stands to steam and transport rallies,
Kennet & Avon, and there-after through his publishing
wrote copiously to the local press and organised
ventures. To Virginia, his partner of 28 years, we extend
branch evening meetings with speakers and slide
our condolences. —David Harris
shows. Autumn 2021
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News from the Nivernais How apt that the theme for this edition of the Butty should be “New Beginnings”. After 48 years of living on boats, and 40 years of which were spent here in France on my Dutch barge Johanna, I have moved “on to the land” as the French bargees say. And what a sad time to be leaving the canal with a second year of late openings after the winter closure, due to not only lockdowns [or am I not supposed to mention that!] but also to stoppages. The hotel boats are only now, in the mid-August, starting to fire up their engines with a very different clientele on board, often Europeans, notably Spaniards, rather than the traditional Americans who are obviously absent. But perhaps this is a new beginning! The hire-boat industry also had a very slow start to the season, but now has almost record bookings, the
Hotel boat Randale moored
A small step in the right direction, when for many
hirers being mostly Swiss, German, and French.
years the waterways here have been dominated by us
Every cloud has a silver lining; due to recent
foreigners. Again, perhaps a new beginning.
circumstances, the population here in France, as
Recently, we spent a day on a Danish friend’s small
elsewhere, is tending to holiday at home, and the
Dutch barge and navigated from the summit pound at
canals are being rediscovered and used by the very
Baye and through the three tunnels and intermediate
people who can vote and consequently influence the
wooded cuttings, then down the magnificent and
authorities and public opinion.
picturesque flight of sixteen locks, passing through the “magic” valley of La Collancelle.
Going down the flight of 16 locks Autumn 2021
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News from the Nivernais The towpath was very busy with “gongoozlers” walking and cycling and lockkeepers constantly on the move locking boats, mostly hire boats, up and down the flight. Private boats are only now leaving their winter moorings due to travel restrictions now being lifted, notably British boaters who are sorely missed, as a retired lockkeeper pointed out to me. It was wonderful to see this part of the canal being appreciated when it is so easy for the heavily locked and tunneled parts of a canal to be overlooked, as they are onerous to maintain and often located in distant rural areas. Often the bigger towns, in our case Auxerre and Decize at either end of the canal, attract visitors and hire-bases, allowing the often remote, central part to become neglected. Beware! Another silver lining, and again due to circumstances has been that the canal and riverbanks have only recently been mown, allowing a plethora of Weed cutter in action
varied and beautiful wildflowers to flourish. The roadsides in these rural areas have similarly become a marvel to the eye.
However, the growth of weed in the canal itself has also been prolific, but not so well appreciated. The weed cutter has been put into service several times this year, and perhaps due to fewer big boats moving through the water, or perhaps due to cleaner and clearer water, thanks to improved sewerage systems, the growth of this weed is rampant. Our association, Les Amis du Canal de Nivernais, have despite circumstances been able to meet up and organise some events. Our biennial conference of canal users and businesses of all spheres had to be held virtually but was nevertheless very successful. A photographic exhibition of local canals and lockkeepers took place onboard the theatre boat moored in Auxerre, preceded by a talk about the system of “flottage”, the floating of wood down the rivers to Paris over the centuries, which was well attended. So here is to new beginnings for us all! —Mary Ranger
In the tunnel cutting
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Meet Michael Goodenough Trust Vice President
BW commissioned a Socio Economic Study which showed that if the funds could be found, the completed project would enable businesses along the waterway to invest with confidence and generate increased income, enabling the waterway to become sustainable. The study also identified the newly formed Heritage Lottery Fund as the most likely source. Over the next 18 months the project was worked up by BW and application made. We all now know resulted in The Partnership being awarded the largest ever single grant of £25m. I feel very privileged to have worked with such people as David Lamb, the then-Trust Chairman, Brain Oram, the Chairman of the Partnership and Fleur de RheI joined British Waterways as Waterway Manager
Philipe, the Trust Administrator to mention just a few. I
of the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1992. My previous
also became acquainted with many other Trust members
background was from the construction industry as a
during my time as Waterway Manager many of whom
dreamed up a number of innovative ways of raising
I took over from Terry Kemp who was seconded to the Trust to spearhead the campaign to raise money
funds to support the project. In addition to my Waterway Manager’s role, I also
to fund a back pump scheme at Caen Hill which up to
became Project Director and oversaw the successful
this point risked closing the waterway each summer
delivery of the £29m five-year project.
due to lack of water. Following the successful restoration work to re-
In 2003 BW underwent a major reorganisation and I became Regional Southwest Services Manager based in
open the waterway in 1990 it became clear that a
Gloucester. I did not find this role as satisfying as my
significant amount of additional money was needed to
K&A role and left BW to pursue other interests in
address the outstanding work to give the waterway a
secure future. The Local Authorities were becoming
The Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership has been
increasingly unhappy with their annual financial
recognised as one of the most successful cross agency
contribution and required a long-term solution.
Partnerships and the Trust’s role was crucial in this
My brief was to find a way to safeguard the future of the waterway and as an interim measure it was
success. I have fond memories of my twelve-year association
agreed that the L.A.’s annual maintenance monies
with The Trust and I am immensely proud to have been
would be used to help fund the Caen Hill Backpump
appointed a Trust Vice President. Whilst I am not
scheme. The Waterway Advisory Committee
currently actively involved with the Trust, I look forward
comprising BW, The Trust, The Local Authorities and
to receiving The Butty and I maintain a keen interest in
The Association of Canal Enterprises, representing
how the Waterway continues to operate and fully
the waterway businesses was renamed The Kennet
support the initiative to explore a more sustainable
and Avon Canal Partnership and met regularly to
solution to replacing lock gates which Bill Fisher and
explore how to secure the future of the waterway.
Terry Kemp are currently engaged with.
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Character of the cut
Laura Mullholland, CRT ecologist Tell us a bit about your links to the canal I have been working for the Canal & River Trust for more than eight years, starting out as the ecologist for the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. As colleagues have left the Trust, I have slowly taken on more canals within the Wales & Southwest region and up until the middle of July, I was the sole ecologist for the region. Luckily, I now have some support from a parttime ecologist, and I will be hanging on to the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Most memorable moment on the K&A canal? It was a few years ago now, but we were very lucky to have a visiting family of otters spend some time feeding and resting on the lock flight at Caen Hill and I
What brings you to the K&A canal? I’m very fortunate that I live almost in the middle of
was fortunate to see them playing in one of the side pounds in the middle of a very drizzly day!
the Wales & Southwest regional area so I can get to each of the canals that I’m responsible for within
What’s the best thing about the K&A?
about an hour’s drive. I started looking after the west
Well, it has to be the wildlife! We’re really lucky to
end of the K&A after I had been with CRT for about a
have a good population of the endangered water vole on
year but only took on the east end when my manager,
the Kennet & Avon Canal and they’re just about hanging
Oda, left to work for the EA. Oda had been with CRT
in there with pressures from invasive species like the
for almost 20 years and I’m sure many of you knew
American mink and from degrading soft bank which they
her. She was the main ecologist for British Waterways
have to share with more and more humans.
during the restoration of the west end and had worked very closely with Natural England and the EA to try
Transport yourself to a spot on the canal network for
and lessen the impacts of the canal on the protected
a day, where would you go and why?
River Kennet Special Site of Scientific Interest at the eastern end; big boots to fill!
My favourite canal is the Bridgwater & Taunton; it’s really peaceful down there and much more like a nature reserve than a navigable canal. It’s really lovely to see
Given an unlimited budget what one thing would
people enjoying and exploring the canal from unpowered
you do to enhance the K&A canal?
craft like kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and you
Repair all the degraded/degrading soft bank in a
definitely see more wildlife from the water!
water vole friendly way in the hope that we can move this species from the endangered list!
Carrying out watervole surveys
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Branch updates Newbury Branch – Julian and Sarah Foley It has been wonderful to resume Jubilee’s operations and welcome back our lovely passengers. At the time of writing, in August, our summer trips at
Ruth and David Tofield
reduced capacity have gone well and we hope to be
Rather like a Butty, I followed David! Initially I had
able to run our popular Halloween and Santa trips later in the year. For all our crew, after such a long
offered to assist in the galley, little did I realise that I
break it has been like starting over. Especially for our
would end up doing the full crew training! —Ruth Tofield
relative newcomers who joined us just before or during lockdown, like David and Ruth Tofield, Roger
The most enjoyable thing about volunteering on
Still and Haleema Shakur-Still, but also to older hands
Jubilee, is that so many people give so freely of their
like Roger Peachey, long-time Santa on Jubilee, who
time, knowledge, and friendship. We really appreciate
retired during lockdown and now has more time for
the way we’ve been welcomed into the team and highly
regular crewing. Here in their own words is their story.
recommend volunteering. —Roger Still and Haleema Shakur-Still
We moved from London in 2018 and having recently retired, I was looking for a new challenge. As
As with most things, it started in the pub, when a
we settled into life in Newbury we got chatting to
fellow customer said “I always liked boats and as I can’t
people including Jubilee crew members and this got
afford one of my own, I have started volunteering and
me interested. It's so worthwhile and fulfilling to be a
crewing on a narrow boat. Why don’t you come along?”.
Jubilee crew member, it’s good to be part of a team
Eight years later I’m still here, one of the most
and it’s lovely to see passengers enjoying the trips
experienced crew and now trainee helm. —Roger
and having a good day out. —David Tofield
Bath and Bristol Branch – David Ferns
Looking back over the work plans for the last 6
We have a volunteer team of approximately 25 and
months I am amazed by the variety of jobs and
operate 2 workboats, under the auspices of the Bath
activities we have covered. These included maintaining
Waterspace Project and the Canal and River Trust.
our high safety standards through training and audits,
The Waterspace project is financially supported by
lock maintenance, rubbish clearance, removal of
KACT. After the hiatus of 2020, we were able to get
Himalayan Balsam, inspecting and repairing safety
back to volunteer work on the K&A in March. We
lines, and fencing tasks. We also have an exciting
obviously had to comply with the appropriate COVID
surveying project on the go (see more on page 22)
security and hygiene criteria as laid down by CRT. One of these criteria is to limit the number of people on board the main boat, Sulis, to 6 and to just 2 people on the small boat, Community Spirit. This together for 3 days a week instead of 2. This gives us more working space and we can visit a wider range of locations to carry out different tasks.
has actually worked out well and means we get
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Branch updates Bruce Boats, Bedwyn Wharf – Tony Gorham
Finally, our wharf, which hasn’t changed since day 1, all those years ago (32!) is due for an update. We will
There is a very special feel to the Wharf and our canal boats just now. Not sure if it is the fact that we are fully back, busy doing what we do, or the fact that we are reaching out to more customers, some of whom are new to Bruce Boats. Perhaps the message is getting out there that we do ensure those who are less able, in company with their friends and family, can reap the benefits associated with boating. Steve Colman does a fabulous job coordinating us volunteers. Making sure we have the right people in the right places is key because to prepare a boat for hire the boat team works closely together to make sure the preparation is complete, ready for dispatch. A couple of hours on a Friday or Saturday morning is all that it takes. The tasks are various so there will be something of interest and of course our work is not only about preparing the boats. We do enjoy our tea break and the obligatory lardy cake and biscuits! All very social!
come up with a plan very soon. We are looking at options now and getting some costings under way. We are planning to complete some new buildings, a customer reception area etc. during 2022. Wow! Exciting times ahead and you can be part of it. If you would like to book a trip or volunteer, please visit the website bruceboats.katrust.org.uk where you’ll find lots of information and contacts to help you. And hopefully, we’ll meet on Bedwyn Wharf one day!
Reading Branch – Graham Puddephatt We had a rather eventful summer around Reading which mainly surrounds Southcote Lock (104) which was badly damaged by a boat coming upstream. Their and surrounding stonework cracked. CRT swiftly assessed the damage and spent the next month or so making the necessary repairs. These included a stone
Credit: Paul Lee
bow got caught under the top gates which were lifted,
mason to create a new cornerstone for the gate to sit on. The broken lock not only impacted the usual holiday traffic but prevented Mikron Theatre Company from carrying on their tour by boat, reverting to their van. Our trip boat Matilda also suffered, ending up on
Our volunteer work party has adopted three locks, Fobney (105), Southcote (104), and Burghfield (103), carrying out minor maintenance tasks. Our winter meetings have just resumed, with Mikron Theatre Company and Action for the River Kennet (ARK) joining us most recently. Going virtual has meant a wide
the wrong side to where she usually departs. Our
variety of speakers have become available; as such we
volunteers did an amazing job rearranging departures
are arranging a socially distanced gathering at Bel and
from Burghfield. She also took part in Reading’s
the Dragon but there is also the option to join virtually.
Children’s Festival, taking lots of excitable children on
Anyone from across the canal network is most welcome
trips, hosted a number of afternoon teas, and has
– more details can be found on our Facebook page at
even been seen out litter picking.
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Branch updates Hungerford Branch – Tony Grewal It has been an interesting, if challenging 18
Fallen and overgrown trees produced significant obstructions and two trips were needed. Intrepid and
months. The Rose of Hungerford and her volunteers
agile work by volunteers was successful in reducing
rose to the challenge with enthusiasm and humour. A
impingement, while the helm gained valuable experience
new seating plan was created with significantly
in handling of the boat and recovery when hard aground!
reduced capacity and sensible guidance created on
The Rose of Hungerford is acknowledged to be the
operations to ensure all felt safe while enjoying the
single biggest tourist attraction in Hungerford. Working
with key partners such as the Town Council was
Despite restrictions, the Rose broke even.
interrupted by the pandemic; these contacts are being
Maximum capacity has increased, charter trips are
re-established, initiatives restored, and new ones
back and when the MCA heel test is passed, we will
be back to full capacity. New volunteers have joined, and we look forward
Much of our work going forward will involve building on and refining past successes: maintaining passenger
to their becoming fully qualified crew members. A
numbers, increasing charters and range of “special”
number of minor improvements have been
implemented, some as a result of COVID, some from
A notable achievement has been the superlative use
experience and some given the opportunity for
of local and social media to publicise the Rose of
reflection and review.
Hungerford and the canal. This requires effort and
An unplanned contact with another boat, with two
expertise, developing volunteers with these skills will be
astonishingly differing versions of events, means the
a priority. Recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers
Rose now has video recording equipment. When first
remains a major task. Do get in touch if you can help via
employed, however, two crew forgot about the sound
email@example.com, we'd love you to join the crew!
recording facility and their conversation was captured for all to hear!
Get in touch with your local branch! Bath and Bristol – David Fearns firstname.lastname@example.org Bradford on Avon – Martin Hollis email@example.com Devizes – Carolyn Calder firstname.lastname@example.org Crofton – Graham Snook email@example.com Bruce Boats – Martin Rubach firstname.lastname@example.org Hungerford – Ceri Hanlon Newbury – Julian Foley email@example.com Reading – Graham Puddephatt firstname.lastname@example.org Autumn 2021
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Branch updates Crofton Branch – Graham Snook At Crofton, the Trust is responsible for operating and maintaining the oldest beam engine in the world still in its original location and still able to fulfil its original task – pumping water to feed the summit level of the canal a mile away. After a year off in 2020 because of Covid restrictions, our first steaming of 2021 was on 26 June. To operate the engines and manage the visitor flow in a Covid-secure way, each steaming day needs a minimum of 24 volunteers. But thanks to the Crofton volunteers, we expect to have steamed on seven days by the end of the season. The Boulton and Watt engine at Crofton was
The problem was tracked down to a broken linkage in the condenser. Our ingenious volunteer team rose to the
installed in 1812 – before the Battle of Waterloo! - and
occasion, partially drained the condenser tank to install a
the No 2 Harvey engine in 1846. So, it is no surprise
temporary bolt. Normal service was resumed for the rest
that Crofton is Grade 1 listed putting Crofton on a par
of the day.
with Salisbury Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. But
The spectacle of the safety valve operating does
with machinery that old, there are occasional
remind us that the engines are powered by steam and
the boiler is a key part of keeping the Crofton running.
Following a survey over the winter, we identified
The Crofton boiler was built in 1899. It was acquired
some cracking in the parallel motion assembly of the
from the Imperial Tobacco factory in Bristol and installed
Harvey engine. (The parallel motion is James Watt's
in 1987. As a condition of our insurance is inspected
invention to convert the rocking motion of the beam
annually. Repairs have been undertaken periodically,
into vertical motion for the pump.) In order to examine
most recently in 2015/16. At the 2019 inspection, some
this, the whole assembly including the pump will need
further defects were identified, and it was agreed to
to be disconnected – a major task. So, No 2 engine is
commission a full boiler survey to identify the work
not steaming this year, and we are relying on the
needed to keep the boiler in service for the next ten
1812 Boulton and Watt engine alone.
years or so.
The June steamings were uneventful. But the
This survey found that we need to replace further
steaming on 24 July, when we welcomed 124 visitors,
rivets and build up some of the flanging which has
turned out to be full of drama – not because of the
wasted, as well as replacing the sparge tube (which runs
threatened thunderstorms (which failed to
the length of the boiler and ensure that boiler feed water
materialise), but because the engine developed a
is distributed evenly).
hitch. Even with the attention lavished by our volunteers, things don’t always go to plan! During the second engine driving period, the level of
Trust Council has agreed that H A McEwen, leading contractors for heritage boilers, should be engaged again. The work is expected to be undertaken in
vacuum reduced to half its normal level and the throttle
November, costing around £30,000. Our immediate
was fully open to keep the engine running. The engine
challenge is fundraising for these boiler repairs – no
was brought to a standstill, and visitors were treated to
repair would mean no steaming in 2022!
the sight and sound of steam billowing from the safety valve in the boiler house.
Full details can be found on croftonbeamengines.org. Any donation, no matter how small, will help us keep Crofton steaming. Thank you!
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Branch updates Devizes Office – Chris Bolt The administration of the Trust is in the capable
Bradford on Avon – Martin Holliss Firstly, thank you to Bryan Baker and Chris
hands of Jen Smith-Furmage and Helen Flavin. Since
Churchouse for their stalwart service as Bradford on
the first lockdown in 2020, they have been mainly
Avon Branch Chairman, Training Manager and Boat
working from home, although Jen spends a day a
Manager and lots more... and they’re still Barbara
week in the office at Devizes Wharf, and the three of
McLellan Skippers, Pirate Captain and Father Christmas
us meet there once a month.
Over the past few months, they have completed
Building on their ideas, we’ve been busy in Bradford
the transfer of all membership information to a new
on Avon! For example, we’ve created several new
system (Donorfy), and updated contact details for
themed trips including Full Afternoon Tea (dainty
those who responded to the request in the last edition
sandwiches, scones and cake), I Spy (lots of canal-
of The Butty.
related items to find inside and outside the boat), Picnic-
Later in the year, they will move Direct Debits to
in-a-Bag-on-a-Boat (a short trip for children that includes
GoCardless. Both these systems are more flexible
a delicious picnic), and even a Bat Safari (an evening
than the ones they replace and will make it easier for
trip with a bat expert) and designed a new trip leaflet
members to update their information online when the
new website now being planned becomes operational. Recently, Jen and Helen have had to deal with a seemingly never-ending stream of problems with the building itself, including water leaks, rotting doors, boiler issues, rodents, and overflowing rubbish in the CRT pump-out area, not to mention a failed electrical inspection. We lease the building from Wiltshire Council and have started discussions about a new lease to replace
As the Coronavirus threat recedes, many of our trips
the current one (which dates from 1982). With longer-
are fully booked, and most of our crew are volunteering
term security, we will be able to seek grants to fund
actively and enjoying being on the water again. New
the repair and development of the building to create a
volunteers are always welcome, and we’ve had a
visitor hub, and to move the Archive from its current
fantastic number this year which has led to a record-
home in a portacabin at the CRT office site at Caen
breaking induction programme.
Hill (which is being closed). We are also looking to reach a formal written
A lifelong canal enthusiast myself (since I went on my first family canal holiday as a child in the 1960s), it’s
agreement with CRT in respect of the pump-out
lovely to meet so many like-minded folk and marvellous
(which is located on the land we lease from the
how willing people are to share their experience and
Council), including service standards for dealing with
ideas. Long may that continue.
rubbish. In the meantime, we are planning essential safety-
With a lot more people taking “staycations” on the canals and many boaters failing to move regularly as
related work including rewiring the building. Before
required by CRT, we’ve rebooted relationships with CRT
that takes place, we will have a good clear-out with
and local hire boat companies. Canal congestion and
the help of Devizes Branch volunteers!
lock queues are throttling our stretch of the K&A Canal, are not sustainable, and we’re determined to address them!
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Branch updates Devizes Doin's – Sharmain Washbourne Well, this will be short and sweet! As with all other branches of the Trust our Devizes folk have not had much to do for what seems a very long time. However, from June this year we did return to our “cutdown covid protocols following” public trips.
encouraged by the teams’ enthusiasm and welcoming skills. Attending these events not only filled a gap, it set our place and community presence in Devizes itself. We are looking forward to our “New Beginnings” and dare I say it... Christmas Santa Cruises! Onwards and upwards!
Amazingly these have been well supported by the locals and people on holiday. We have successfully recruited six new crew members with another four in the pipeline. The recruitment success was achieved for the most part by some branch members attending several local community events, including Picnic in the Park and a “Wellbeing day “on the green at Devizes. “Flying the Flag” with our Trust stall generated a lot of interest
Kenavon Venture – Graham Day, Boat Manager After sitting silent for all of 2020, passenger trips on the Kenavon Venture recommenced in June 2021. Initially we operated under very strict Covid
However, we had a very good opportunity to talk about our own role in promoting the canal, and the efforts we make to recruit and train volunteers to provide safe trips. As you can see from the photograph, we were very
restrictions, but since mid-July we have gradually
lucky with the weather. Crew members from the KV are
increased our passenger numbers. As the confidence
Graham Snook (Training), Ann Snook (Finance), Pat
of volunteers and passengers increases, we have
Kelly (Crew Manager) and myself. The reporter referred
been able to offer more and greater variety of trips.
several times to “the two Grahams”. Graham Snook tells
We have been trying hard to promote the start-up
me that on a subsequent public trip, two passengers
of new operations and managed to secure a good
who had obviously heard the radio breakfast show
article in the local weekly newspaper. Last month, we
asked him if he was one of the “two Grahams” when he
were featured on BBC Radio Wiltshire’s breakfast
introduced himself as skipper!
show. The invitation arose because CRT were holding
So, we are back in business doing what we do best –
an event to celebrate the increased use of towpaths
providing interesting and very safe trips on the Kennet &
as the country emerges from lockdowns. Market
research shows that footfall in the Devizes area has increased 100%. We agreed a date and time for the BBC Radio reporter to visit the wharf and our boat. So, I and a few of the boat committee were found down at the boat at 6.15 am to open up and prepare for a “teaser” at about 6.45am. We shared the event with a representative of CRT (who travelled down from Gloucester) and a representative from the Ramblers' Association.
Boat crew with Karen Gardner from BBC Radio Wiltshire and Ramblers’ Association.
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Julie's Silver Oak Julie Myers is a familiar figure at the east end of the canal, seen between Aldermaston and Newbury at the helm of narrowboat Falcon Adam with a group of Brownies or Guides as her crew. In the summer holidays, Falcon Adam is converted into a pirate boat which for two full weeks this year had young people coming each day to shiver the timbers and eat the ships’ biscuits.
Julie - you're a star!
As well as promoting narrow boating to Guiding groups, and being an ambassador for Girlguiding to the boating community, Julie had also run a weekly Brownie group for 24 years and has represented Girlguiding on trips abroad. After the presentation we all enjoyed a piece of cake and a drink – the cakes were almost too good to eat, cleverly made by Sara Berryman and Una Dunford in honour of the occasion. Although only 30 people were able to be present due to Covid-19 restrictions at the Surprise award presentation
time, many more sent their congratulations. Julie is pictured here with a superb card from Frouds Bridge
Julie is also a CCBM trainer and a skipper on KACT’s youth boat Lady Hilda. On an unseasonably
Marina where Falcon Adam is now kept. Congratulations Julie – you are a star! —Alison Cannon
wet and windy Sunday afternoon in May this year, Julie arrived at Bedwyn wharf expecting to take part in a Lady Hilda open afternoon. She was somewhat surprised to see many of her family, friends and KACT representatives waiting for her, and even more surprised when Girlguiding’s Southwest Region Commissioner stepped forward to present her with the Silver Oak Leaf Award for exceptional services to Girlguiding.
Celebration calls for cake!
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Pedal power! On Thursday 19 August Timothy Griffin (16 years old), with his father and Banjo Cycles Club friend Tim Pyatt, set off on a charity bike ride from Horris Hill, Newbury, Berkshire, to Gordonstoun School, Moray, Scotland. The aim was to raise as much money for charity, Tim Pyatt collecting for Bruce Boats. The challenge was to cover the 1100km in 9 days, arriving at Gordonstoun at 1200hrs on the Friday to tie in with the school returning for the start of the Autumn Term. During the ride, the team averaged 76 miles a day, or 122 km, at an average speed of 15 mph. This meant the team were cycling for over 5 hours a day.
The final day required an early departure from Aberdeen to be ready to meet the School Principal, and Senior School Headmaster, to cycle the last 20 km into Gordonstoun. The sun shone and the celebratory ride into the school showed the grounds at their very best. Timothy was welcomed by the whole school community. It was a fitting end to what had been a fantastic experience for all the team. The ride had been 2 years in the planning, with Timothy deciding at the age of 14 that this was how he wanted to raise the money to attend one of the Charity Projects that the school supports each year.
On the whole, the weather was very good, although on the third day it started very sunny as the team left Lincoln but as they entered York, there were ominous drops of rain that quickly turned into a monsoon. At different points the team was joined by
The team was able to exceed the target of £2,500 and currently the donations have doubled this figure which will mean that more can be given to the Projects that are undertaken across the world. In addition, we have been able to raise £3,000 for Bruce Boats. Well done to all involved! —Tim Pyatt
Timothy’s younger brother William (12), who was able to cycle nearly a third of the route, a great achievement for a 12- year-old. William joins Gordonstoun this September, effectively cycling to his first day of school! The section from Newcastle to Jedburgh promised to be the most scenic cycling of the trip and the weather and terrain did not disappoint; up out of Newcastle and along Hadrian’s Wall and cycling around Kielder Water was spectacular.
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From the archives On 28 December 1810 the completed through
There are additions to Rennie’s endeavours such as
route of the Kennet & Avon Canal was finally opened,
the WW2 pillboxes, the 23 sections of canal that run
the River Kennet section joined the central canal to
through Conservation areas and the World Heritage City
the River Avon section. The two river sections were
of Bath plus the Historic site of the 1st Battle of
engineered by John Hore but they were joined
together by the then-young engineer John Rennie. By creating this safe inland route between Bristol and London two of the largest ports in the country, little did he realise that he had constructed one of the most beautiful canals in the country. The navigation includes almost 100 scheduled and
John Rennie should be pleased to know that there are also at least 607 entries on the Architectural Heritage Survey! This year is the bicentenary of Rennie’s death in October 1821. It is also the 70th year since the formation of the Kennet & Avon Canal Association, the forerunner
or listed structures such as Ladies Bridge built to
of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. —Elaine Kirby,
placate the sensibilities of a local landowner and the
Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Archive
first canal scheduled and listed structure in the country Dundas Aqueduct, beautifully still doing what aqueducts should do. Many of the canal bridges and locks are listed plus cranes and Crofton and Claverton pumping stations which are both still capable of carrying out the jobs
Contact Elaine Kirby, Archive Administrator: email@example.com
that Rennie intended.
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Sulis Surveys the Canal In July, Sulis was used by Geoxphere to carry out a Google Street Map type survey on the waterway from Weston Lock to Bathampton. This captured 360degree images every 5 metres as we cruised along. Geoxphere were commissioned by BANES, who will use these images to monitor the condition of everything along the waterway. This forms part of the Waterspace and River Line projects designed to enhance the environment, parks, and towpaths through Bath from Newbridge to Bathampton. We thought you might like to see some of the wonderful photographs captured. —David Ferns Surveying in progress
Images of Pulteney Bridge, Bath —Geoxphere Autumn 2021
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Please help keep Crofton steaming in 2022!
Crofton Beam Engines is still capable of doing the work it started over 200 years ago – keeping the summit of the K&A Canal supplied with water. If we are to steam again in 2022, we need to carry out work on the boiler this winter, which will cost around £30,000. More details about the work that needs to take place can be found online. Ways to donate Online: www.croftonbeamengines.org/boiler-appeal-2021 By text: Texting CROFTON 5 (or 10 or 20) to 70085 to donate £5, £10 or £20. By bank transfer: The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, 30-92-63, 00441822, reference BOILER Thank you!
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