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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

Pedal power


21 oxphere, Cover image: Ge l na ca the g yin surve

From the archives

Autumn 2021

Discover more about the history of the K&A Canal

Sulis surveys the canal | 1

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 • /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: Chris Bolt, Treasurer: David Copley Graham Snook Mike Bailey Peter Turvey, Health & Safety Robert Dunton Terry Mundy, Museum: Tim Pyatt Zaira Puddephatt, Marketing & Communications Enterprise board: Chris Churchouse, Chair Carolyn Calder Ceri Hanlon Chris Bolt Chris Sims Graham Puddephatt Julian Foley Tim Pyatt Office: Jen Smith-Furmage, Bookings: Helen Flavin, Finance:

The Trust is a registered charity, No. CC209206, and a company limited by guarantee registered in England, No. 726331 Autumn 2021 | 2

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 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 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!

Autumn 2021 | 3

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 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 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

Autumn 2021 | 4

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

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!

Autumn 2021 | 5

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

their success!

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.

Autumn 2021 | 6

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,

certainly higher.

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

Autumn 2021 | 7

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 | 8

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 | 9

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

Autumn 2021 | 10

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

Quantity Surveyor.

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

January 2005.

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.

Autumn 2021 | 11

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!

Autumn 2021

Carrying out watervole surveys | 12

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.

Autumn 2021

Credit: Geoxphere

has actually worked out well and means we get | 13

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 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.


Autumn 2021 | 14

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, 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 Bradford on Avon – Martin Hollis Devizes – Carolyn Calder Crofton – Graham Snook Bruce Boats – Martin Rubach Hungerford – Ceri Hanlon Newbury – Julian Foley Reading – Graham Puddephatt Autumn 2021 | 15

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 Any donation, no matter how small, will help us keep Crofton steaming. Thank you!

Autumn 2021 | 16

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.

par excellence!

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!

Autumn 2021 | 17

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

Avon Canal.

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.

Autumn 2021 | 18

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!

Autumn 2021 | 19

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.

Autumn 2021 | 20

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:

that Rennie intended.

Autumn 2021 | 21

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 | 22

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: 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!

Autumn 2021 | 23

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