NOTE FROM THE EDITOR the firstname.lastname@example.org The Trust Council decided that this edition of The Butty would be a version emailed out to members. Reading The Butty such as you usually receive as an “on-line” copy would be very difficult. I decided to meet the challenge by putting together something quite different that will bring some news from “the cut” and be easy to read on your device.
LETTER FROM THE CHAIRMAN Hello everyone, I hope you are all safe and well. As I write this in late August, I’m delighted to say that the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust has been operational with boats out and about, cafes open and Crofton accepting visitors since July. We often refer to the Trust as a volunteer led organisation and it’s our volunteers I’d like to talk about in this forward. You may not be aware that the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust consists of two companies, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust which is the charity and most commonly referred to as the Trust Council and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (Enterprise) which is the trading arm of the Trust and often called the Enterprise
Board. Trust Council currently has 11 members with representation from most branches plus a standing invitation to our President and former Chairman Rob Dean. At one stage in 2019 the Enterprise Board was down to three members. Now we have full representation from all of our branches with Chris Churchouse as Chairman and Julian Foley as Director of Boats. Throughout lockdown Trust Council and the Enterprise Board met collectively over Zoom firstly to discuss the orderly shutdown of the Trust operations and then occasionally to see whether conditions had altered sufficiently to allow us to
recommence operations. Finally, in conjunction with the branches the Enterprise Board having satisfied themselves as to the quality of our policies and procedures for adhering to government guidelines and we were ready to restart trips on a number of our boats and family holidays on the Bruce Branch.
Special mention needs to go to our Trust Treasurer Chris Bolt who ensured that we applied for and received any central government or local authority financial support to which we were entitled. Thanks to Chris’s diligence the Trust is in a far better financial condition than would otherwise be the case. Everybody on Trust Council, the Enterprise Board at Crofton or our other Branches is a volunteer, please join me in commending them all for their efforts over the last few months. As I mentioned, Crofton has reopened and whilst we will not be steaming this season, I
can thoroughly recommend a visit. The new interpretation boards have all been installed and they are fantastic ! In additional the new play equipment is in place along with a new set of boiler room doors. We have a new café licensee at the Devizes Wharf, Victoria Harvey has opened ‘The Kingfisher’ a new vegan café. In addition, I believe she will be moving her wool shop ‘Pins and Needles’ into Devizes Wharf. I also need to mention Cruises for Carers, an initiative being run by the Bruce Branch where you can nominate and / or sponsor a Carer for a day trip on one of the Bruce Boats. Finally, whilst messing about on the canal is good for our well being, we must all ensure that we are following government guidelines and that we are using common sense. Look after yourselves, each other and stay safe. Chris Sims
DUNDAS AQUEDUCT Produced by - The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Archive 17/03/2015
The Kennet & Avon Canal crosses the River Avon on the Dundas Aqueduct (started 1796). A fourth arch was added when the Great Western Railway was built (opening 1857).
The Somersetshire Coal Canal is top right entering at Brassknocker basin.
Dundas Aqueduct near Limpley Stoke in Wiltshire was engineered and built by John Rennie for the Kennet & Avon Canal Company. It was built to carry the canal over the River Avon and now also crosses the First Great Western Wessex main line railway. The Great Western Railway Company bought the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1852. The Aqueduct is considered to be one of John Rennieâ€™s finest architectural achievements being the first canal structure to be scheduled as an ancient monument by the Ministry of Works and was Grade I listed in 1956. Coffer dams were used for work below the waterline. Work above the water line started in 1796. The aqueduct was completed around 1800.
It was built of Bath Stone in the Doric style. Unfortunately, the quality of this stone was inferior and there are brick repairs to the north side. The structure originally had only three arches. The semicircular headed central one spans 64 ft. (19.5 m) over the river and is flanked by smaller oval headed ones. The total length is 150 ft. (46 m). The stone parapet is pierced by balusters at the sides. The remarkable cornice juts out about 4 feet, the ends of the aqueduct curve outwards and have stone revetment walls. There is towpath on both sides of the aqueduct. The railway line was completed in 1857 and tunnels through the western end of the structure. After passing over the railway line the canal bears north, past Dundas wharf, towards Claverton and Bath. The Somersetshire Coal Canal approaches from the south and its entrance is in the wharf basin. In 1838, bronze inscription tablets were installed at the centre of each parapet below the cornice. The one on the south face is dedicated to the man who had given his name to the aqueduct: Charles Dundas. He had been chairman of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company for 40 years from its commencement in 1793. The other was dedicated to John Thomas who had been Superintendent of the Works in 1803. The Dundas Aqueduct was originally planned to be built north of Limpley Stoke. The second Kennet and Avon Canal Act (1796) altered the site to be 7 furlongs (1.4 km) below Limpley Stoke to avoid having to cross the valley of the Midford Brook down which the Somersetshire Coal Canal was later routed. In 1801 a tramroad linked the eastern end of the aqueduct to Conkwell Quarry on the brow of a hill. The quarry was soon abandoned because of the poor quality of the stone. The depth of the aqueduct with a full head of water is just over 4 ft (1.3 m). In practice, this depth has not generally been maintained so the maximum permitted draught has historically been rather less than 4 ft, sometimes as little as 3 ft. 3 in. (1 m).
The condition of the canal had been deteriorating in the middle years of last century. In 1954 the British Transport commission proposed closure. This was vigorously fought and led to a petition to the Queen and the formation of the K & A Association. In the early 1960s the Inland Waterways Redevelopment Advisory Committee recommended that the canal should be redeveloped by British Transport Waterways (BTW) and the Kennet & Avon Canal Association reformed as the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust in 1962. Nearly 20 years later, a proper restoration job on the Dundas Aqueduct had still not been done and it was leaking. Permission to open up navigation from Bradfordon-Avon had been refused until this problem was fixed. A temporary waterproofing job was to be undertaken by the K&ACT in 1981 but this plan failed. Although responsibility for the Dundas Aqueduct as a scheduled monument rested with the British Waterways Board (BWB), the board made no financial commitment at that time.
One of John Rennieâ€™s drawings for the construction of Dundas Aqueduct The restoration of the aqueduct was made possible by
Sir Frank Price when he was chairman of the BWB. In 1983 he persuaded his Board to take on the repair of the aqueduct. In October 1983 the wharf basin was drained prior to the start of work on the aqueduct. In July 1984 Dundas Aqueduct was reopened, six years before the official opening of the entire canal in 1990. Part of a substantial HLF grant enabled conservation work was undertaken in 2002 to refurbish the aqueduct. Apparently, a herd of goats had to be turned out from under one of the side arches before work could commence. Charles Dundas 1751 â€“ 1832 Born Amesbury Wiltshire, died of cholera in London. Buried in Kintbury Berkshire. Sat on the first committee of the proposed Western Canal 1788, later the Kennet & Avon Canal 1793 1810.
John Rennie 1761 -1821 Born near Edinburgh. Buried in St Paulâ€™s Cathedral. Engineer of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Thanks to Elaine Kirby, Archive Administrator for this article.
BARBARA MAC BACK IN ACTION The Barbara McLellan at Bradford on Avon began operations on 12 August. Our plans have been pared down to 3 public trips each week. We have been drawing from a small pool of our crew, who are able to work in a socially distanced, Covid19 secure environment without threat to their well being. This is what our trips look like.
Passengers form an orderly queue along a rope marked out at 2 metre intervals.
Hands are sanitized before embarking.
Our crew wear face coverings and stand back to allow the passengers to board. Gangplank handles are sanitized after each “bubble”.
Handles inside the boat are cleaned between “bubbles”.
Crew keep their face covering on while preparing refreshments all in disposable cups.
Payment is made by card, with crew behind a Perspex screen. This is our Emma, seen here using the app on the phone to take orders from the bar. Some of our older volunteers glaze over at the mention of using an app on the phone. Not so Emma. This is her world! A most amazing thing is that working in the bar was tricky for Emma pre– app and card reader. She has said it’s ok to let on that mental arithmetic isn’t one of her many strengths, but the phone app does all the hard work in adding up the total now. Emma didn’t need to be taught how to use it—she instantly knew how it worked. And another amazing thing is that we now call on Emma to train other crew members in how to use it. And Emma is 6 feet tall as a result!
“ Big Mike” joined us as crew this year. And what a joy it is to work with him! Mike has done several training sessions and has signed up on the roster as a trainee numerous times. He is keen to learn all aspects of running a trip and has been able to consolidate his learning during passenger trips. Mike has gained enormous confidence on the helm already. Oddly, we have two other new “Mikes” this year, and already had one! So we have dubbed him “Big Mike”, a gentle giant. This is what Mike has to say about his newfound volunteering role: “Hello everybody, having just completed 40 odd hours of training I thought I would share my experience with you. Firstly the quality of the teaching was simply outstanding, hence the Queen’s Award for training. All delivered in a fun but comprehensive manner, and having been involved with training at my old university these trainers certainly know their port from their starboard. As well as the official training and induction led by the Trainers, learning from the very experienced crew, mates and skippers has been an absolute pleasure. One of the best learning experiences I've ever been through and I've done a few over the years. Thanks to the whole team who have made me feel like one of them. Cheers!” Mike Wedekind, new crew member!
SOME LINKS TO RECENT EVENTS ON THE
K&A: CRT reminds cyclists to slow down
(Image: Tracey Weedon)
Boat sinks in lock at Bath Sluice gate failure sinks boats
(Image: National Library of Scotland)
Tom Hine talks about Burghfield Mill
(Image: Towpath Talk)
Wire Mill open day
Firing on all jets
K&A WILDLIFE Laura Mullholland, CRT Ecologist, joined members of the Reading branch for an online talk about wildlife that can be seen on the canal. Here are some videos you might also enjoy.
(Image: Jeremy Dexter
Waiting for water voles
Snakes at Caen Hill
CHARACTERS OF THE CUT One of the interesting people who live and work on the K&A is Dru Marland. She is an artist and a poet, and will feature in our next magazine.
Canal themed postcards
Barn Owl over Crofton
Take a look at more of Druâ€™s art online.
CANAL ADVENTURE IN NB “JAMES BRINDLEY” This story will be told in the next edition of The Butty. Richard Cartwright sent in a delightful diary of the trip from when he was just a boy. The adventure took place on the Shropshire Ring in 1953 and sparked Richard’s love of canals. Enjoy some of his photos from that era. “James Brindley” near Stone.
Hotel Narrowboats, Hayward Junction.
Narrowboat carrying refuse from Wolverhampton.
On the Shroppie.
Tea break at Harecastle
DEVIZES DOINS…(OR NOT!) Normally coming to the end of the season there would be lots of things to write about….trips, passengers, special events, charters, parties and so on. As a group the Kenavon Venture crews have made sure we have kept in touch with each other, at a distance of course, with phone and facetime calls and over the fence chats during the daily exercise trips. Those of us who have gardens have found time to give the Chelsea Flower show a run for its money. The boat herself has been looked after by our pet engineer Mervyn who attends at least once a week to turn the engine over, blow her tubes out and to stop the weeds growing in her places where weeds might grow! I will leave you with an adaptation of a well known song “Messing about on the River” to hopefully make you smile. Stay safe and carry on (thinking about) cruising… from all of us at Devizes. Sharmain Washbourne The Kenavon Ditty When the weather is fine it’s a really good time, For a trip on the Kenavon Venture. There’s a skipper and crew and they’ll all welcome you, When you come to the Kenavon Venture There’s music and chatter and a galley for tea We’ll even provide you with somewhere to…… See all the beautiful sights by day and by night When you ride on the Kenavon Venture There’s a quaint little wharf, where you get on and orf! When you come to the Kenavon Venture A museum and shop, you can spend quite a lot Once you’ve been on the Kenavon Venture. In sunshine and hailstones and cold winds that blow If there’s only one passenger we will cast off and go! With the rain in your face there is no wetter place Than the helm on the Kenavon Venture, Through our fair countryside Kenavon will glide Taking you on a scenic adventure So just sit and unwind, leave your worries behind As you cruise on the Kenavon Venture.
She’s big and she’s stately and really quite slow And sometimes it’s hard just to get her to go……..(dramatic pause) But there’s one thing I bet, you will never forget Your Trip on the Kenavon Venture.
LOCKED UP IN LOCKDOWN When I wrote The Rose of Hungerford’s report for the Spring edition of The Butty, I ended with the hope that we would have a happy, safe and busy 2020. Little did we know what was in store and we certainly had no idea that the entire world would soon be affected by a coronavirus pandemic. As usual, the first few months of the year were spent getting The Rose and her crew ready for the new season. Then Covid-19 appeared on the horizon and proved very quickly that it was not something to be taken lightly. In the middle of March the Trust took the sad, but sensible decision to cancel all trips on all boats in an effort to protect the health and welfare of our valued volunteers and passengers. No trips, no income and none of the enjoyment and camaraderie of being part of the crew. When the isolation and lockdown regulations slowly eased our volunteers were soon back working on the boat, masked and following social distancing guidelines. Amongst the many jobs done, rust patches were removed, old water tanks replaced and smart new door panels were sent off to be painted. We wanted to be ready for when it was considered safe to resume trips, but until then, The Rose would be confined to her mooring.
It was a difficult spring and summer for everyone and ‘keep safe’ soon replaced the usual email valedictions. The profound, and in many cases tragic impact on families and friends was widespread but then, at last, some good news arrived. It was decided that it would be safe to start operating again and we were able to
announce that trips on The Rose would begin on 15th August, with a number of changes and safety precautions. Despite the work that now had to be done, there was an optimistic, positive and contagiously hopeful atmosphere among the crew and the general public responded with their enthusiastic booking. Shorter and fewer trips, fewer passengers, amended seating layout, face coverings, antibacterial sanitisers, screens, in depth cleaning and revised crew procedures are just a few of the precautions that were put in place. This is where the story gets better and better. Our esteemed volunteers sprang into action and we were so grateful to our passengers for coming with us and giving us such tremendous support. This meant that, despite the season only being 2Â˝ months long, The Rose has carried nearly 700 passengers, on public trips and private charters, and thanks to some very generous end-of-trip donations we have broken even and managed to earn a substantial amount for the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust; much needed in these difficult times. Very sadly we had to decide not to offer any Father Christmas trips this year. The success of these very popular events is largely due to the interaction of passengers and crew and it was felt that this personal contact was not acceptable in the current circumstances. This was explained to the bookings and enquiries we had already received and everyone quite understood the situation. As I write this, we are approaching the end of the season and our Chairman, Ceri Hanlon has asked me to pass on his gratitude to all the volunteers on The Rose of Hungerford for pulling together during this unprecedented and difficult year. Your support is much appreciated and we hope for better things in 2021. Sarah Warburton
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS WONDERFUL IDEA THAT THEY CAME UP WITH AT GT BEDWYN? The Bruce Boats Cares for Carersâ€Ś The Coronavirus crisis has highlighted to the whole nation the value of carers, whether working in care homes or the community. They have had little time to relax during the crisis and as front-line workers are undoubtedly facing danger. Caring for Carers is our small way of saying THANK YOU. The Bruce Boats at Bedwyn Wharf provide holidays and day trips on the Kennet and Avon Canal for disabled, elderly, and disadvantaged people in specially designed wheelchair-friendly broad-beam canal boats. During the last 30 years, our highly trained volunteers, skippers and crew have seen at first-hand the wonderful and dedicated work of carers and have always had huge admiration and respect for their work. We are offering several sponsored FREE DAY TRIPS for carers working in care homes and day centres, and home-carers, aboard one of our specially equipped wide-beam canal boats. If you are a carer, or would like to nominate a carer, please contact us soon to reserve a place by emailing our bookings team at email@example.com. Each trip will cruise along the beautiful Kennet and Avon Canal in the heart of Wiltshire, gliding through peaceful countryside and stopping for lunch in a secluded spot. Trips will run alongside our usual hire programme once restrictions are lifted and it is safe to operate â€“ but bookings can be made now.
Please see our website for more information about Bruce Boats, to find out where we are, to discover the unrivalled beauty of the Kennet and Avon Canal, or to explore our crewed and selfsteering canal hiring opportunities: bruceboats.katrust.org.uk Martin Rubach
CROFTON NEWS The Canal and River Trust have had several work parties recently to restore the flow of water to the Canal Feeder (Leat) that carries water from Crofton Pumping Station almost one mile away to the summit level of the Kennet & Avon canal. Over the years the feeder has become choked and clogged with reeds and debris. This has started to impact and reduce the flow of water into the Kennet & Avon Canal at Crofton Top Lock Number 55 near Wolfhall Fields Bridge. Here it enters the canal to maintain the water level on approximately two and one third mile of summit section of the canal. The K&ACT are responsible for the feeder from the Crofton Engine House to the road overbridge but thereafter it is maintained by the Canal & River Trust. The Leat (or Canal Feeder) at Crofton was dug when the Engine House was built in 1807 -09. The pumps there raise the water 40 feet and discharge it into the Canal Feeder that runs along the summit level contour west of the Engine House where it feeds into the canal. Major works also took place on the feeder at the Crofton Pumping Station end in 2019. At that time the Canal & River Trust renewed the pipework, and installed a less conspicuous outlet, and carried out other significant work to restore the Feeder. This required major preparatory work by Crofton volunteers to relocate various facilities so the Canal & River Trust contractors could get easy access to carry out the work. These are just some of many tasks that continue in and around Crofton Beam Engines throughout the year. David Eaves
These photos tell it all!
And this is the Leat that all that hard work uncovered.
NEWBURY NEWS Covid19 has turned all our worlds upside down. Activity in Newbury branch has more or less ground to a halt with trip boat operations suspended for several months and Newbury Waterways Festival in July having to be postponed until next year. We have had to limit ourselves to a series of virtual events via social media to keep in touch with our volunteers. The Branch AGM due in April also did not take place, with business conducted via a written procedure. The Branch committee remains unchanged, with the exception of Julie Dean, who decided to step down. We extend a huge thank you to Julie for the enormous contribution she has made over many years. We are delighted that she will continue to help out, not least on and around the boat notably as Santa’s chief elf with the huge task of getting all the 200-odd Christmas presents together. At times like these we tend to look back with nostalgia at happy memories from past trips to help remind us that good times will return. Since Jubilee came to Newbury in 2012 the boat has gone from strength to strength, thanks to the efforts of its fantastic volunteer crew. There have been many memorable events, tales of derring-do and lots to make us laugh and smile over the years, and not just in Newbury. This is just to mention a few of them, in no particular order. “Operation Ice Breaker”, as it has become known in Jubilee folklore, was when we made the trip to Great Bedwyn (as the first leg of our trip to Devizes for an out of water inspection followed by a professional repaint) on a very cold and frosty day in January 2017. To keep our small group of intrepid volunteer crew warm there were lots of bacon rolls and hot soup, and plenty of walking ahead along the towpath although we also had crew going ahead in a car where possible, to set locks for us. Despite the conditions, with virtually no other traffic we made the trip in almost record time. Other adventures along the canal have included participating for a number of years at Reading WaterFest and Crofton Annual Steam Gala which has always been great fun. This entailed quite lengthy transit trips where crew got the opportunity to experience different parts of the
waterway, as well as the joys along the way of occasional failed swing bridges, attempting to retrieve the odd dropped windlasses from lock sides, several herds of escaped cows in the water or blocking the towpath, to name but a few. Probably the most memorable incident from those transit trips was getting back to the swing bridge at West Mills in Newbury after a very long day returning from Crofton in late September 2015, to find that the bridge hydraulics had completely failed half an hour earlier. By the time it became clear that this could not be fixed, with darkness falling we all had to help unload everything from the boat and make it secure. A tiring end to a very long day. The boat had to be left there for several weeks as the bridge remained out of action! Another challenging situation where crew had to work outside their normal comfort zone was Christmas last December when because of very strong flows we were unable to use Jubilee for some of our Santa trips. Instead an alternative programme with Santa was held in the John Gould room upstairs in the Stone Building on the Wharf. It was all hands on deck entertaining our young guests, who all had a great time. It is of course our lovely passengers who make our trips worthwhile. The online booking technology has been a welcome addition and made life much easier for everybody involved, although we had one unticketed passenger (a very confused duck) who flew in through Jubileeâ€™s rolled up sides in order to avoid the queue! He was reluctant to leave and left his mark on several of the crew as well as the carpet!
Kennet and Avon Canal Trust's membership magazine The Butty Autumn 2020 issue.