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THE BUTTY

HLF award for Crofton £½m.

The magazine for members and volunteers of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Issue No: 212

Autumn 2017


KENNET AND AVON CANAL TRUST Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf, Couch Lane, Wiltshire SN10 1EB Telephone: 01380 721279

The Trust is a registered charity, no: CC209206, and a company limited by guarantee registered in England, no: 726331.

WHO’S WHO President:

Enterprise Board:

Administrator:

David Bruce

Graham Day

Jean Cook

Will Job (Chair)

office.manager@katrust.org.uk

Vice Presidents:

David Line

Richard Benyon MP

Daisy Mundy

Finance:

Donald Collinson

Tony Nares

Helen Flavin

Michael Corfield

Deborah Robinson

finance@katrust.org.uk

Michael Goodenough

Hon Advisers:

Membership:

Terry Kemp

Chris Churchouse

(IT)

Becky Barker

David Lamb

Simon Loaring

(Heritage)

admin@katrust.org.uk

Sir Francis Price

Simon Eveleigh

(Assets)

Bill Fisher

Prunella Scales

Booking Administrator:

John Webb

Contacts:

Jen Furmage

Timothy West

Trust Council Chair

bookings@katrust.org.uk

Rob Dean CMG Trust Council:

chair@katrust.org.uk

Mike Bailey

Museum Curator: Terry Mundy

David Copley

Hon. Treasurer:

museum@katrust.org.uk

Rob Dean (Chair)

Tony Nares

David Fearns

treasurer@katrust.org

Will Job

Archive Administrator: Elaine Kirby

Daisy Mundy

Company Secretary:

Terry Mundy

Daisy Mundy

Tony Nares

secretary@katrust.org.uk

archiveadmin@katrust.org.uk

Peter Turvey Branch Contacts: Bath & Bristol

David Fearns

Reading

David Copley

Devizes

Sharmain Washbourne

bathandbristol.chairman@katrust.org.uk

d.copley247@btinternet.com

devizes.secretary@katrust.org.uk

Bradford on Avon Bryan Baker

Hungerford

Bruce Boats

bradford.chairman@katrust.org.uk

hungerford.chairman@katrust.org.uk

Crofton

Newbury

Peter Turvey

crofton.chair@katrust.org.uk

Mike Rodd Trevor Staig

newbury.chairman@katrust.org.uk

Paul Eames

bruce.chairman@katrust.org.uk


A Note from the Editor What exciting times for Crofton! The Heritage Lottery Fund award of £½ million is going to mean a terrific amount of work over the next few years to bring the plans to life and leave a legacy for the future. The hours that went into the application have paid off. Well done to all involved. I was inspired to visit Crofton at Easter for the steaming; enjoy a fish n chip supper and win a Quiz Night on board the Kenavon Venture; attend the 40th birthday re-launch of the Jubilee and enjoy the Carnival on the Canal at Devizes. And all because I had read and learnt about these events in pulling together my first Butty. I hope that for you, reading this edition, you will also find inspiration to get out and about and involved in some way. I was so pleased that Alison Cannon jumped at the invitation to write about her Girl Guides on the Lady H. Her account is brimming with creative ideas for taking youngsters on a narrowboat residential trip. I met Carole Hawkins at Crofton and immediately asked her to write a piece, to highlight how yet another lady volunteers with the KACT. For those with a special interest in the historical side of things, no doubt you will be enthralled by Bill Fisher’s latest memoirs and David Harris’s re-working of a press release he compiled in 1966 as part of the campaign to restore our canal. It is good to look back and be reminded of how far we have come and how we arrived at where we are today. The Branches have all had a busy summer season, with the volunteers having worked hard on not only the boat trips, but also the special events all designed to bring the K&A to the attention of the public and work towards fulfilling the aim of the KACT: to protect, enhance and promote the canal in numerous respects. The Santa trips will be booked up fast, so don’t delay if you are intending to do so. The collage on the back cover of Lock 14 at Bradford on Avon during the major works earlier this year, reminds me of the collection of lost property found among the 5 foot deep, 30 tonnes of debris dug out from below the water line: 25 windlasses, numerous pairs of sunglasses, a few mobile phones and the jackpot? A motorbike! A huge thanks once again to proof readers Steve Hooper, Denise Heals, Mike Bailey and Chris Churchouse for their painstaking work in getting this edition ready. Happy reading. Lesley Hooper

thebutty@katrust.org.uk 1

CONTENTS 1.

Note from the Editor

2.

Heritage Lottery Fund Award

4.

Transfer of Bruce Boats

4.

Bruce video training package

5.

Meet Carole Hawkins

6.

Devizes Doin’s

7.

The Rose

8.

Carnival on the Canal

9.

Another brick in the wall

10.

Bill Fisher’s memoirs

13.

Puzzle

14.

Crofton Connections

15.

Cosmetic surgery for Rose

16.

3 days on the Lady H

18.

Phew! At last it’s happening

19.

Success in Bath

20.

You just never know

21.

Painted Lady Part 2

22.

Waterways potential

24.

Special place; Obituary

25.

Newbury News

25.

Training up the troops

26.

Crofton Beam Engines

28.

CRT: K&A scoops awards

29.

New members

30.

Reading Branch goes visiting

31.

Reading Waterfest 2017

32.

From the Chairman

33.

Collage of drained lock

Front Cover Photo: Youngest Crofton volunteer opens Engine no. 2 stop valve

Back Cover: Firing the boiler at Crofton


HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND AWARD WILL ENABLE THE TRUST TO SECURE THE FUTURE OF CROFTON er from the entrance area of the Engine House. The entrance area will then be expanded and refurbished to provide an excellent space for welcoming visitors to Crofton and explaining the significance of the site.

Living heritage landscape at Crofton More than a year of hard work by a Trust volunteer team was rewarded in October by an announcement from the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund, that it would provide a grant of £559,300 as a 66% contribution to the £845,000 we need to complete a major project at Crofton Beam Engines to assure the future of this magnificent site. The project is entitled ‘Our Crofton Story’. The award marked the end of a ‘Development Phase’ that required detailed planning and design together with fund raising for the remaining 34%. With the fantastic support of members, volunteers and number of other charities and foundations, we have exceeded our fund raising target and are now ready to start a 2 year ‘Delivery Phase’ that will see big changes at Crofton. Over the coming winter, contractors will be undertaking some of

the important restoration and building works. The boiler house roof needs to be stripped off and restored, including refurbishment of the roof lantern. The massive timbers that support the engines need treatment and restoration. The exposed west wall will be repointed to halt water ingress, and a specialist asbestos contractor will remove and make safe asbestos lagging used around parts of the engines. This work will secure the future of the Engine House and ensure we are able to keep steaming those magnificent engines. We will then start work to improve the visitor facilities. The toilet block will be extended and refurbished to provide toilets that are accessible to all. A new volunteer and staff toilet will be provided alongside the crew room. That will enable us to remove the 1970s toilet and show2

Crofton Beam Engines steaming

But there’s a great deal more to this project. We’re planning to tell visitors not just about the engines but also the stories of the people who have lived and worked there, including the heroic work of volunteer restoration and management since the Trust bought the site 50 years ago. We will be doing that through new interpretation and signage throughout the site. There will also be new activities to broaden the appeal of Crofton such as 1920s Cottage Garden reproducing the garden maintained by the Giles family at Crofton in the 1920s. An interactive water feature will help us to explain to children how the combination of pumps and locks enabled the building of the Kennet & Avon over the summit.


Engineer Mr Willmott and Boilerman Mr Beckingham at Crofton 1949

get started on that but they will always welcome help from anyone who wants to get involved in this exciting and rewarding work. If you’d like to know more about the project, please get in touch with Crofton Chairman, Peter Turvey on 07528 628953 or at crofton.chairman@katrust.org.uk Where’s funding coming from? The project will be funded as follows:

Clever use of technology through the ‘mechatronics’ element of the project will enable us to measure and monitor the working engines in ways not possible before. That means we can look after them better and also use the data to illustrate graphically to visitors, just what is happening as the engines pump. Finally, our oral history project will capture the memories of those who have worked and care for Crofton over the past 50 years.

A welcome to . . .

Evelyn Taylor

K&A Canal Trust reserves and fund raising: £76,000

Evelyn has been appointed as Project Manager for the Our Crofton Story Project. Evelyn was already well known to us having dedicated many hours of volunteer effort to the bid to HLF. Evelyn is a heritage professional having managed refurbishment of the Painted Hall at the Old Naval College at Greenwich. She has quickly got to grips with the strange world of the Trust and Crofton and will be using her skills to ensure we make good use of the funds we have raised and deliver everything we have planned.

The value of our volunteers’ time: £87,000

Evelyn can be contacted pm@katrust.org.uk.

Heritage Lottery Fund £559,000 Private Trusts and Foundations including: Garfield Weston Foundation, Manifold Charitable Trust, Tanner Trust, Charles Hayward Foundation, The Saddlers’ Company, Wolfson Foundation, Sylvia Waddilove Foundation, Bruce Trust and family & Waitrose Community Fund: £108,000 Donations from Trust members and supporters: £20,000

at

(All figures rounded to nearest £1,000)

Volunteers welcoming visitors to a steaming gala

We will be using the project to recruit new volunteers to ensure we can keep operating, and we will develop events and facilities that will ensure we receive the income needed to look after Crofton for the next 50 years. This is an ambitious project and there’s a great deal of work to be done over the next 2 years. We have a team ready to

By working together on this HLF project we want to protect and develop Crofton for future generations, so they will know all about its history and significance

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Sharmain Washbourne, Devizes Branch writes about

TRUST COMPLETES TRANSFER OF BRUCE BOATS

BRUCE BRANCH DISTANCE LEARNING VIDEO

Trustees have reviewed our Strategic Alliance with the Bruce Trust which, for the past 2 seasons, has seen us running the 4 specially-designed, purpose-built, wide-beam canal boats of the Bruce Trust which are used to provide holidays and days out for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people along with their family, friends or carers. 2017 has been a good season with excellent take up of the boats. More importantly, the newly formed Bruce Branch of the Trust has worked really hard under the leadership of chairman, Paul Eames, to manage and care for the boats, ensuring they look great whenever they go out, training and supporting hirers and crews, and developing plans for the future. The prospects for 2018 are good with more than half of the planned boat hire capacity already booked. Trustees agreed unanimously that the viability of running the Bruce boat operation had been demonstrated and they would accept the gift of the boats and associated equipment with the intention of running the fleet for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly users, in perpetuity. This means we will commit to long term funding of boat refurbishment and replacement. This can be achieved by a combination of retained Bruce boat trading surpluses, the Trust’s own fund raising and application for support to outside Trusts and Foundations. The Bruce Trust has already committed to ongoing financial support for 5 years Trustees recorded a vote of thanks to the Bruce Branch committee for their amazing hard work over the past year, welcomed them fully to the Trust and wished them and all their team well for the future in continuing the fantastic work started by the Bruce family.

In the last edition of The Butty, we reported on the first phase of filming for Bruce Branch’s video package. Timothy West provided a voice over and now with a supporting cast of fifteen, the package is complete. It has been made available on-line for would-be crews, skippers and helms on the Bruce boats so they can learn the basics before actual hands-on training. Over the course of a few days in April, a select few Trust and Bruce Branch volunteers came together under the expert eye of film-maker Martin Rubach, to put the ‘Hannah’, one of the Bruce fleet, through various scenarios in order to give a visual study aid. As a narrow boater himself, Martin was the ideal person to direct and produce the films. The result is a comprehensive guide for any prospective hirer. Avoiding Incidents, Locks, Basic Boat Handling, Preparation and Who’s in Charge? are the main headings for each five minute video. The volunteer crew were filmed showing the physical and practical aspects of manning a boat along with interviews with various skippers and helms. Each section ends with a quiz. On May 15th at our head trainer’s house we had a ‘wrap’ party, complete with champagne and nibbles, where we (mostly) sat and cringed to see and hear ourselves on the big screen!

Rebecca with a group on board for a day trip Photo Doug Staples 4

It’s possibly not in the running to be nominated for next year’s Oscars but as an invaluable source of information for anyone thinking of hiring one of the Bruce boats, it is a very well put together package and was great fun to be a part of.


Girl power! Meet Carole Hawkins, another lady volunteer…

I really am just following in the footsteps of Charlotte and Alison, both engineers at Crofton, who have been involved for longer than I have. Charlotte is currently taking a break from volunteering to raise her son but Alison is very active both on steaming days and as a member of the Tuesday working party. She is an accomplished driver and has an amazing depth of knowledge of both the history and workings of the engines. She has inspired me to break out of the traditional catering role and into a more customer facing, preservation role with the engines. I am learning a lot from the other volunteers by listening to what they tell the visitors – everyone has an odd little fact that I haven’t heard before and I learn something new each time I go there! This, along with some reading and quizzing my husband (also a volunteer engineer), is helping me to become a more confident volunteer. I like to think that seeing a woman on duty encourages visitors to ask a wider range of questions which I can answer in language that I, and hopefully they, can relate to. I have also been delighted by the number of visitors who know a lot more about the engines than I do who tell me so much in the friendliest way – I’m sure a lot of them just enjoy a chat and I am happy to be able to join in with them. The more experienced volunteers have also been very kind and patient in showing me tasks that need doing and letting me practise under their supervision – it is by far the best way to learn. I can definitely say that everyone has made me feel very much part of the team and I really look forward to participating in steaming weekends – it is a world away from my office based day job but all the better for being so!

Congratulations to the Bruce Trust, which has received the most votes for an award from the Berkshire Masonic Charitable Foundation. The result has secured them a staggering £25,000.

KACT AGM The 56th Annual General Meeting of the KACT will be held on Saturday 12th May 2018 at 10.30 a.m. at West Lavington Village Hall, Sandfield, West Lavington, Devizes SN10 4HL. Please note the date. We hope to see as many of our members as possible at what is always an interesting morning.

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DEVIZES DOIN’S It’s almost time to say goodbye to the Summer, although August seems to have brought the autumn early.

the waterway with us. It seems that the KV is becoming something of a magnet for said wildlife.

In spite of the adverse weather our Kenavon Venture has continuously attracted record numbers of passengers through July and August. Public and private trips have seen the boat filled to capacity on nearly every trip. The week-end ones have done exceptionally well.

So far in the last few weeks we have had ducks roosting on the roof, swans pecking the paint off the gunwales and a dramatic (and successful) hedgehog rescue during our last EST training session. The little creature had decided unwisely to cross the cut by swimming it. Our gallant trainees jumped to action and Mrs Tiggywinkle lived to eat slugs another day. I wonder if the trainees books were signed off with ‘hedgehog’ overboard drill completed?

Our regular Friday music nights have proved a big hit, with three new acts in the mix. They attracted people of all ages for a good old sing song and scrummy fish and chip supper. A great combination for a super evening on the canal.

Our volunteer numbers have increased with four worthy souls passing their first EST and Induction training. Next year’s entertainment programme is already complete, with acts as diverse as a 1940s ladies duo. We plan to decorate the KV with newspaper bunting and are considering a ‘ration book’ supper to boot. We have had three quiz nights that have all been very successful, although somewhat raucous on occasion. Our thanks to Richard and Rosie for putting it all together. Can we have easier questions next time please? As anyone who lives or works on or near a canal knows there is an abundance of wild life that shares the waterway with us. It seems

There is a whole raft of people (‘scuse the pun!) who look after and maintain our lovely wharf buildings and in this ramble I would like to make a special mention of our Alan Smith. As well as being our resident engineer, electrician, plumber, bunting putter-upper and GDB, he has been spending a huge amount of his time painting, pointing and generally beautifying the outside of the main wharf buildings. He found time to instruct a team from Trowbridge College, recruited by Jean Cook, to help out, but the brunt of the task was down to ‘Alan the Builder’. On behalf of the branch committee I would like to say a big thankyou to Alan and a big ‘sorry’ to ‘Mrs Alan’ who must forget what he looks like sometimes.

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As the season winds down and we look forward to our Halloween and Santa cruises, we can all look forwards to an exciting and busy 2018, once the tinsel is packed away and the turkey a distant memory! From all at Devizes…… MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Sharmain Washbourne

Devizes Branch

The Kenavon Venture with a party of school children from Bath learning about life on the canal.

Photo by Vicki Messam


THE ROSE OF HUNGERFORD As we approach the end of the season and prepare for our many very popular Santa trips – both for the kiddies and for some senior groups – we can look back on another bumper year with probably the highest number of charter trips for many years. To achieve this of course, The Rose has been working very hard as have our amazing volunteers (especially Bob and his team of loo-pump-outers). But even with our 3 most welcome new Boatmasters this year, and despite a good number of new recruits, Glenys and Tony continued to battle to ensure we always had a full crew. As with the other boats, we have had to work even harder than ever to seek new crew – and our social programme organiser, Jean, works tirelessly to arrange regular social events and ensure we make every volunteer feel welcome and wanted. A supperevening at Crofton was wonderful and especially helped Rose folk to understand what the Crofton Project is about. Our skippers have all tried to raise donations towards this project from our passengers.

Hungerford Bookshop chose to launch Steve Wallis’s new book of poems 'Along the Way' - a collection of poems on the social, political and natural histories of the Kennet & Avon canal. After a selection of Steve's verses the floor was opened for the audience to recite their own poetry. The evening concluded with Steve’s poem about the reopening of the canal which included the Queen on the Rose.

(Like some of our crew?) our ageing and troubled engine is of concern and despite the valiant efforts of Chris and John, our 25 year old Barrus engine (incidentally their very first marinised diesel in the UK) is showing her age and approaching the end of her very hard-working life. Indeed, Barrus themselves believe that it has exceeded even their expectations! This engine replaced Rose’s original motor – an exLondon taxi engine, which apparently was not a great success.

Finally, the Rose helped to pay tribute to a local Hungerford celebrity, Elizabeth Grant, on her 90th birthday. She was driven to the Rose in a tuk-tuk owned by local garage owner Dave Hunter, and serenaded on her way by the Hungerford Town Band. (See picture.) Steve Bariff

In October we were part of the revitalised Hungerford Chamber of Commerce’s “Totally Locally Fiver Fest”, where local organisations made available a range of special offerings for £5! During the month we made this offer to all adult/senior visitors to, and residents of Hungerford. We look forward to the new-look “Victorian Evening” – after 25 years this is being re-badged simply as the “Hungerford Christmas Extravaganza”. It is to be held on the 8th of December, with the Rose being one of the main attractions. The Crofton Stokers will once again be playing and singing for our visitors who join us for Sara’s soup and an appropriate drink. Our various charters have continued to entertain the crews as well as our passengers. A large wedding party, in all their finery (and wedding shoes!), joined us at Dunmill, but first had to walk down the hill as the coach driver decided the road was too narrow for his bus! And then did the champagne flow as we took them to their lunch celebration at Kintbury. (It rained heavily all the way back to Hungerford so the skipper sent the Branch Chairman to helm the boat!!) Then there was an unusually well-behaved “Hen Party” – but we finally worked out that this is the result if you bring your mum and grand mum with you on your celebration! And a lovely 18th birthday party for a group of youngsters from a Newbury school. The skipper was worried about monitoring the licencing implications, so the birthday boy brought his dad – who turned out to be a local senior school teacher – no nonsense then!!

Working even closer with Hungerford’s organisations and integrating with its events is proving to be very valuable. So we were delighted that 7


CARNIVAL ON THE CANAL The weather forecast was promising, media messages were out, and the team were assembled. ‘Carnival on the Canal” was here again – the sixth festival we have organised on Devizes Wharf.

background to a lot of chat and gentle drinking in the evening sunshine by the canal. The hard work by volunteers behind the bar in the beer tent meant there

“Food and drink, music and dancing, boat trips and canal-related stalls” are our regular offer, and the Wharf looked suitably festive, with bunting and gazebos, and flags fluttering overhead. The weather stayed dry – an essential part of the success of any outdoor event – and our place within the official Carnival timetable meant there was a good turn-out. was little queuing; two kegs of draft beer sold out rapidly. There was a good range of other drinks too – the beer tent is an offshoot of the bar on Kenavon Venture – and this year the boat itself was open for hot drinks and a quiet place to sit. On the wharf, food was excellent, with Keith’s tea room family bbq-ing burgers, while another team produced delicious macaroni cheese and risotto. As usual, the dancers of Devizes Jubilee Morris started the musical programme. The music then moved to the acoustic swing trio Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club playing their “good-time, swingy, jazzy, folky stuff”. We finished the evening with perennial favourites the Crofton Stokers, who provided their usual mix of folk and blues – this group, who perform for us on an expenses-only basis, are a real asset to our outdoor Trust events. For some the music was just a

Hours of volunteer work were involved, putting up tents, decorations and lighting; some people were on the wharf almost continuously for thirteen hours, and we certainly had the best team of helpers ever – many stayed to help de-rig afterwards, and even completed the tidying up the next morning. Why do it? We want to promote the canal, of course. There are still some Devizes residents who barely know the canal is there, 8

only a few hundred yards from the bustling Market Place. We can also tell people something about what we do, though we want to improve our impact in coming years – Crofton’s offering was rather more eyecatching! Last but definitely not least it is a fund raising event: the beer tent had an amazing four figure turnover, and volunteers also ran a tombola, and various other games. A few semicommercial stalls paid a small fee, and the food tent generated a generous donation. Free taster trips on a day boat lent by the local hire fleet brought in further donation income. The Trust will have made over £500 from the event – a good return on the investment of energy and time even if on the day we are glad we only do it once a year!

Next year’s event will be on Friday 31st August – do put the date in your diary and come and join us! Paul Jakeman Devizes Branch


ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL…. Graham Long from Bradford on Avon C&RT celebrates the placing of the final stone of the Hen’s Orchard Project Over the past three summers the C&RT volunteers in Bradford on Avon have been rebuilding the canal retaining wall in Hen’s Orchard, which is situated between the Tithe Barn and the children’s play area in Victory Field. The original retaining wall was built when the canal was built in 1794 but had fallen into total disrepair. C&RT had enclosed the site in Heras fencing because it was potentially unsafe. When the canal was reopened in the 1980s the canal at this point had a concreted profiled bed, therefore the wall was no longer required to support the canal, but was needed to support the towpath. Work started in spring 2015 with the demolition of part of the old wall which was then rebuilt using the stones which had come out of the wall; although these needed to be cut by machine or by hand to make a suitable replacement wall. This process continued throughout the taking down part of the old wall and then rebuilding it before proceeding with the next section of the wall. C&RT employed a stonemason who was on site for several days a week initially, then one day a week during the works. He had the responsibility for the finish of the wall as well as training the volunteer group in masonry skills of lime mortaring, scutching, hammer and bolster work and machine cutting. C&RT organised a specialist company to train volunteers in the use of the stone cutting machine. In all over thirty volunteers have been trained and worked on the wall’s reconstruction. Over the three-year period the volunteers have been working three days a week between April and October. The wall has the hand cut/ machine cut stones on the front plus four courses at the rear of the wall facing the canal. Behind each row of stones, the void is filled with hearting stones and then topped with a lime mortar before starting the next row in the wall. This allows water to pass freely through the wall, which should minimise future damage by ice and frost. Insects and small animals find it a nice new home also !

A section of the wall as it was before the work began.

The almost completed wall, September 2017.

The finished wall will have a topping course consisting of ‘cocks and hens’ to match other walls in Bradford on Avon. A post and rail fence, to match that which exists around the nearby Tithe Barn, will be erected to prevent people falling over the wall. The works have been overseen by Engineers and the Heritage Advisor from C&RT together with input from the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust whose land is being used as the construction site and will eventually become part of the orchard field adjacent to the site. All that needs doing is to complete the installation of the topping stones, finish the fencing and clear the site. Landscaping will be carried out to put the land back to its original profile. These finishing touches are being supported by a generous donation from the Bradford on Avon Secret Gardens Owners and Organisers.

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A champagne moment as the volunteers place the final stone in the wall, leaving just the topping stones to be completed.


MY LIFE ON THE KENNET & AVON AND OTHER WATERWAYS Copyright Bill Fisher 2015 All pictures courtesy of the Bill Fisher archive.

Our trip to the Kennet was uneventful but very, very slow. I think I spent as much time hunting down petrol stations with my 2 two gallon fuel tanks as actually boating. We should have taken a bike with us. One enormous advantage on the Thames is that all the locks we passed through are wide enough to fit both boats side by side (canal parlance - breasted up). We stayed that way for the journey to Reading, now the Kennet & Avon. The Kennet was a struggle. We should have had a horse. The current on the Kennet is a little stronger than the Thames and the channel is narrower, too many overhanging trees and how the wind did blow. Apparently the wind was good for drying Sally’s nappies but as far as I was concerned this was about all. The two tents acted as a sail and the cross wind constantly blew us into the river banks. At this time the canal was open as far as Tyle Mill where we were met by our very good friend Harry Bartlett, the Lockkeeper/Lengthsman on this section. Harry’s greeting was “Hello Bill! If I’d a known you was a coming I’d a come down on the bike and helped you”. And he would have, though it did little for our humour at the time. But we had arrived. We moored at the tail of the derelict Tyle Mill Lock. How to get at least one of the boats to Newbury as there were twelve locks and numerous Swing Bridges between Tyle Mill and Newbury still to be restored? Sev-

eral of these were turf-sided but waiting for the canal to reopen, if ever, was not an option. At the time I asked John Benham who was, like me, a Newbury lad and long standing member of John Gould’s Navy, if he would be interested in starting a Horsedrawn Passenger boat in Newbury. He was quite keen, but waned a little when I told him the boat was at Tyle Mill; however John was instrumental in hiring an articulated lorry with an extending trailer from his employers Reed Board Mill at a very reasonable rate. The drawback was that this had to be done on a Sunday. John was also able to buy a very long steel cable at scrap price to make into slings. As for the crane, with this I fell on my feet. Bringing the boats through Reading I saw a very large crawler crane involved in the building of a new bridge over the river. I drove over to Reading where I found my way to the site and asked if I could speak with the crane driver. Most of the men on the site were very amiable Irishmen; this included the crane driver. I explained what I wanted, expecting to be told to go away, but no, much to my surprise he said he would have to see the foreman. This we did. The instant response was “I don’t want to know about it” and he walked away. I said “So that’s it, is it?”, “No” he said “it just means we have to do it very early on Sunday morning”. This was Wednesday. We had the

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cables for lifting, some railway sleepers as packing but the boat was at Tyle Mill and the crane was in Reading, seven locks and 3 swing bridges away. The faithful outboard motor had managed to make it to Tyle Mill but refused to even run again, so we had no option but to bow haul the boat to Reading, canal parlance for being a two legged substitute for a horse. I think there were four of us and a bike. This was ideal. One to steer, top job; one to go ahead on the bike. This left two to do the bow hauling. I have always believed it is often better to be short of crew than have too many. Too many bodies means that everybody thinks that some other person is doing what needs doing, resulting in a crew of spectators watching nobody doing anything. As our trip was downstream, we made good progress arriving at our lifting place in the late afternoon. The crane was standing at the water’s edge as arranged, which was fortunate as there was nothing to moor to. So we tied ‘Basildon’ soon to become Kennet Valley to the crane for the night. We did have the foresight to arrange transport back which duly arrived to whisk us back to Tyle Mill. Sunday; the day of the big lift. All went remarkably well. The Irish crane driver arrived on time as did the lorry; the crane driver and lorry driver were first class, manoeuvring the lorry and loading the boat in a very restricted space. By the time we arrived at West


Mills Wharf, Newbury the streets were aired and the day was a little older. People were appearing, we had an audience and a Newbury Weekly News reporter arrived. We had built two platforms on the wharf using cross braced railway sleepers to the same height as the lorry bed. The plan was to winch the boat off the lorry on to the sleepers. We greased the top sleeper and winched away. This also went remarkably smoothly, which was just as well as we were rather blocking West Mills Road about ten minutes before morning service began. I tell you no more but I don’t think many people were actually late for church. The reason for keeping the boat out of the water was to enable us to caulk the seams between the planks with oakum. Oakum is tarred fibre strands rolled into strings and driven into all the seams and joints with a caulking iron and then tarred again resulting in squashed and bruised fingers as proof of our labours. Having done this the hull was slid into the water on greased planks. Word had spread that the launch was to take place; she went with quite a rush, sending a tidal wave across the canal and onto the towpath wetting the feet of our not insignificant audience. We thought this highly amusing until I realised that my wife Suzanne with our newly arrived second daughter Emma in her push chair were among the wet footed unfortunates on the towpath, who I must say, still managed to raise a cheer. Through the early summer we fitted out the now Kennet Valley. We installed a cabin complete with a small shop, a galley and an awning over the passenger acco-

Fire Float in Newbury Lock modation, steps, seats and yes, a loo. The only major problem was no horse. Because of the publicity we had received from our friendly press, the Newbury Weekly News, we had received a number of enquiries from schools, clubs etc. wishing to book Kennet Valley. With no horse and no money to buy one, if we found one he or she would almost definitely be untrained for the job. John Gould offered to tow Kennet Valley with his motor launch Kelston in order that we could earn some money from the trips offered.

article appeared in one of the Sunday papers about a Horsedrawn Hotel Barge that was offering boating holidays on the southern Grand Union Canal operating out of Berkhamstead. In addition to this, the owner, Mike Baldy, had acquired some Shire Horses that had been neglected by a previous owner. I contacted him to explain our situation regarding a horse, but was of the opinion that a Shire Horse was probably too big for our little barge. Much to my surprise he said he might just be able to help. He then invited Sue and me to come over for a day’s horseboating with him and Eve. Off we went to Berkhamstead the following week-end. Ian Lewendon also asked us to take photographs of Kennet Valley with us.

Ian Lewendon

Kennet Valley at Kintbury This we did on an evening and week-end basis except for the schools, and we took days off work for this. Then we were very lucky. An

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I think he, like all good horse owners, was rather keen to see to whom, what and where he might be selling his horse. Mike explained that he did own a smaller horse than his Shires but had stopped using her as she was a little too small for his bigger barges. At the end of the trip on the Horse Barge we felt we had received a thorough vetting. We chatted about our experience with boats and horses. Sue had ridden for some years with her own horse and I had worked on commercial boats through his patch regularly.


As captain, I had been in charge of the motor boat towing the butty where the rope work of towing was very similar to horseboating. I think Mike was reasonably impressed and he said we had better come and meet Primrose. Primrose, what a lady, and she was to be ours! An Irish cob standing 14.2 hands in her stocking feet, she was instantly a star. She had not forgotten what she had learnt towing a barge on the Grand Union Canal. She soon learnt to stand on the lock side, just where the companionway would be when the boat stopped, for attention and sweets. Her biggest downfall was beer. She was anybody’s for a pint. I was quite happy for the passengers to buy her a few pints on the return leg but not on the way out especially if it was my day for driving Primrose, as this entailed walking behind her.

Primrose at Benham Lock

At the end of our first full season we were still horseboating evenings and week-ends which was very restricting especially for School and Senior Citizen Trips. I wanted to run the boat full time, as Antique Restoration was already taking second place in my waterside workshop at West Mills. I suppose this was inevitable. John was not keen on this proposal as he had many years’ service with Reed Board Mills and a pension to consider. Eventually I bought John out and we parted amicably.

Starting the next season was a very different undertaking but it had to work. Gone were the days of wives and friends working the boat’s on-board shop for the fun of it. We had full-time staff to pay plus all outgoings, including rent and rates on the West Mills Property. Our two daughters spent many hours on the boat’s cabin top in the day and with Grandparents when we had evening trips. It was during this first season that Primrose fell in for the first time. I was walking with her below Benham Lock where Primrose was taking the strain to start the boat out of the lock. This entails walking forward with the towline attached and then stopping. The stretch in the rope causes the boat to move forward; then the horse walks on. This is known as laying in the collar. On this occasion she stepped on a piece of polythene that should not have been there, slipped and fell sideways into the canal. I panicked, the person walking with me panicked, but Primrose, true to form, took all this in her stride. She stood up in the mud and reeds, waded into the middle of the canal and carried on forward as though she was on the towpath, still towing the boat. It was a very hot day and I think she was beginning to enjoy the water. I took my shoes and socks off and swam out to her. By the time I reached the middle of the canal, Primrose had passed. I was able to grab the towline and pull myself up to her, holding on to the whippletree (the bar to which the towline is attached). I gathered up her reins and tied them off, still progressing at quite a pace towards Higgs Lock with Kennet Valley 12

still in tow, under the railway bridge to the lock. Above the lock where the footings of one of the canal’s many second world war Pill Boxes protrudes into the canal, I coaxed Primrose into this little piece of hard standing and took off the towline. Primrose walked out, shook herself like a dog - harness collar and all - then walked, unfazed by her experience, onto the lock side as usual to see if any treats were on offer. I still feel a cold chill when I think of that day.

Another of Primrose’s escapades that also had a happy ending was at the end of an evening trip with a group from Hungerford. We came into West Mills at about “ten of the clock” just as the most enormous thunderstorm started. The street lights went out. Instantly, I dropped the tow line off Primrose and went to her head. No problems. As usual she was totally unperturbed.

Primrose at West Mills

The passengers stayed on-board until the storm ended. Confession: I left Primrose mowing the grass on the bank-side and dived for cover in the boat with the passengers and crew. Soon the storm abated and I jumped onto the bank to remove the harness from Primrose. No


Horse. I was not too bothered. As the street lights were still off I listened for the sound of hooves on the tarmac path but heard nothing as the passengers were making quite a lot of noise. I walked up the towpath with a torch looking for hoof prints in the wet mud but there were none. There was only one other option. She must have gone into the town centre. Off I went, running and shouting “Primrose”! then stopping and listening for her shoes on the road or the jangle of her harness, all to no avail. I arrived in the Market Place where the lights came on again. No Primrose, but there was a policeman. He did not say “What’s going on here then?” but he did say “What are you doing wandering the town singing a song called ‘come on good girl Primrose’?” What else could I say other than “I’ve lost my horse, Constable.’ He didn’t say ‘Now pull the other one it’s got bells on”; he paused and said “Is this the horse that pulls the barge up the canal?” ‘That’s the one” I replied. So with the policeman now on side, we both walked the streets for some time but it was left to me to shout “Come on Primrose.” I think it was beneath his dignity to shout with me. I returned to the boat empty handed. The passengers had gone, the rain had stopped and silence reigned. Then I heard a noise, a munching noise. Not five metres from the boat is a garden with a gate onto the towpath. Primrose was in the garden pruning the lower branches of a copper beech tree. Best not talk about the state of the garden. How do you take back a horse to apologise?

PICTURE PUZZLE

“We think it is a well-used mooring bollard seen from above, with the big fixing bolts just visible. The considerate boater knows that one should be prepared to share a bollard or mooring ring, especially at busy places. The inconsiderate boater rushes past fast enough to pull on the lines, and occasionally uproots a bollard.” wrote KACT member Marion Pearse. And she is quite correct.!

Have a look at the object below. A little trickier maybe? Answer next time!

Chris Churchouse Bradford on Avon KACT member Anita Churchouse from Bradford on Avon is a volunteer lock keeper and shared these photos of a very large Dutch barge that was travelling downstream in August. ‘I didn’t think it was going to fit in the lock but the owner knew what he was doing and soon he was on his way”

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CROFTON CONNECTIONS TWO CENTURIES AGO This article was prompted by a conversation between Jane Giles and David Bruce.

Richard and Jane Giles have had a long connection with the Kennet and Avon Canal beginning with Richard in the late 1940s as a young fisherman when his father was secretary of the Pewsey and District Angling Association and then getting rather more serious in the 1960’s. Richard and friends initiated the Pewsey Zixex Rowing Club. They delighted in long-distance rowing even in the days before restoration, rowing four times from Pewsey to London and five times from Pewsey to Bristol. Jane became involved in the Kennet and Avon Canal Junior Trust canal restoration in the late 1960’s with Captain Mansfield Robinson and General Sir Hugh Stockwell. Jane also took part in a number of more relaxed Pewsey Zixex Club expeditions on the K and A and other waterways. In 2006 Jane joined the Bruce Trust group of volunteers working on the Trust boats at Great Bedwyn. Both have visited Crofton Pumping Station a number of times and so it was quite a moment to find, when Richard began researching family history in 2001, that he had a 3x great grandfather, James Elkins, who had worked on the canal in its early years. James and Jemima married in 1812 and lived, at first, at Crofton Lock house.

1813 as the junior engineman at Crofton Pumping Station. In 1815 Jemima was earning 6 pence per chain, or 22 yards, for ‘quick weeding’ which may have been connected with newly planted canal-side hedgerows. James and Jemima had five daughters and three sons. Daughter Harriet married Thomas Hoare of Wilton in 1845 and would become Richard’s 2x great grandmother. By 1833 James was senior engineman at Crofton but moved sideways into lock-keeping when a newly installed pumping engine needed attendant staff from Cornwall in 1847. Jemima died in 1851 aged 64, James died in 1872 aged 84. Pursuing family history Richard discovered a distant cousin, related to the Hoare family of Wilton, in Toronto. Cousin Don and wife, Marg, visited Pewsey in October last year and were thrilled to be able to visit Crofton Pumping station to see where Don’s forebears had lived and worked.

Crofton Top Lock Cottage. Photo from the Archive, with thanks to Elaine Kirby.

Thanks to the help of Peter Turvey, Ian Broom and the Crofton Archives it is now known that James was earning 21 shillings per week in

Crofton in working days 14


COSMETIC SURGERY FOR BEAUTIFUL ROSE

Painting work to give the beautiful Rose a facelift began in April of this year with volunteers Mike, John, Chris, and Bob getting on with the main painting of the roof and side panels. This was extremely hard work not helped by ducks walking on Mike’s newly painted roof (Part of the delights of working on the K&A but Mike would still be very interested in the siting of any green footed mallards!!) However, with all the appropriate paint kindly supplied by Alan Whitewick the whole job was made a great deal easier. The first trips of the season were carried out anonymously but the famous Rose logo was soon painted on.

The tricky sign writing had to be left to the professionals and Andy Jackson was called in to undertake this painstaking, highly skilled work. He was fortunate with the weather since the work was far from easy.

Painting the boards on the inside of the doors that depict sylvan canal side scenes was undertaken by KACT volunteer Sara. 15


3 days on the Lady H “What’s a mooring?”, “How can the table have only two legs?”, “Where do you drive from?” These were just some of the questions asked by a group of excited girls aged 10-14 on their first evening aboard Lady Hilda. I skippered two such trips this year for five girls and two leaders each from 1st Chew Magna Guides and 4th Maidenhead Guides. Lady H is a fantastic youth boat and Great Bedwyn is a brilliant base. A two-day trip would take one to Hungerford and back whilst a three-day trip in the other direction, which we chose both times, has all sorts of delights in store. Here is a summary of our three days.

The girls arrive late afternoon and eat their packed tea on board while they get used to their new surroundings. We remain moored at Great Bedwyn and fill the evening with important information such as how to operate the toilets and what to do if you fall in. After fitting life jackets (quite a challenge in itself!) we walk up to the first lock before returning to the boat to learn how to read a canal map

and then have a look at what lies in store the following day: ten locks… a tunnel… four more locks… the girls are beginning to wonder what they have let themselves in for. A mug of hot chocolate soon turns their thoughts to bed, however, as they work out how to juggle five girls getting changed simultaneously in a confined space. Much laughter ensues, especially from those struggling into their sleeping bags on the top bunks.

are helping each other; in subsequent locks it will be just two girls and two adults – with the girls doing most of the work. By the time we reach Crofton everything is going smoothly and the lock teams have learnt their routine well; before long the tenth lock is completed and no-one can quite believe that we’ve made it to the top. A wellearned break for lunch follows before we get ready for the big excitement: The Tunnel. And what a beautiful tunnel it is! The boat’s headlight illuminates the warm red brickwork as Lady H makes her stately way through… After that, a few more locks and somewhere to moor for the night. The girls are ravenously hungry, tired but happy. And quite glad that the following day will be lock free! In the evening we play some games, and soon everyone is ready for bed.

Next morning everyone is up bright and early and ready for breakfast by 7.45am. The table is laid and the scent of fried bacon wafts from the galley. The girls are now excited to get going, so we clear away as quickly as possible and before long we are off! Everyone wants to sit on the bow. The first lock approaches, the boat is tied up and the crew goes ashore. Everyone looks serious as instructions are given for the safe passage of a boat through a lock, and the girls are hesitant as they try to remember the correct order to do things. For this lock they 16

The middle day of the trip is relaxing – ducks to feed, bubbles to blow, felt frogs to sew, and time for everyone to have a turn or two at the helm. The girls are surprisingly good at this and want to make sure they all have a turn steering under a bridge. The countryside opens out and there is a glimpse of a White Horse on the hillside. A heron waits in Wide Water and canoeists paddle by. If we’re lucky we may glimpse a kingfisher. Girls are keeping an eye out also for the random collection of items on their “spotter sheet” – a dog on a boat, a damselfly, a plastic duck and a military pill box, to


name but a few. We turn round just before Honeystreet and in the afternoon stop off at Wilcot, a pretty collection of thatched cottages round a village green with swings and climbing frame. The girls let off steam and leaders relax on a nearby bench. A nice pub next to the swings would make this the perfect stopover! Another hour or so cruising and we moor up for the night. Tonight we try some more ambitious crafts, perhaps painting our own “canal art” wooden spoons. But, conscious of the busy day to follow, we do not stay up too late.

The final day sees an early rise to ensure we have plenty of time to get through the locks and back to Great Bedwyn on time. Back through the tunnel, as beautiful as ever. Down through the locks to Crofton. The girls are old hands now and we make good progress, perhaps stopping for a visit to the pumping station and an ice cream after lunch. The final part of the journey sees a hive of activity indoors as those on board pack away their belongings and clean the boat. We reach the final lock; there is another boat coming through and lots of people around to help. I feel the girls have done enough

locks and may want a rest: ‘This is the last lock, but there’s lots of people so if you want to stay on board, you can do so...” All five clamber eagerly ashore, windlasses in hand, not wanting to miss the final part of the adventure. The girls have spent three days away from their phones, TVs and computers, experiencing briefly an escape from their normal way of life. They have lived together, worked together and played together on their small floating home and have made memories that will stay with them for many years to come.

Lady Hilda is the Trust’s best kept secret; I hope this article will encourage others involved in youth or community groups to consider using her for a holiday afloat. And if any Guide or Brownie leaders would like to give it a go (perhaps as a treat for your PLs/Sixers?) I should be more than happy to skipper for you. Alison Cannon Girlguiding Narrowboat Skipper & Guide Leader

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Useful contacts: Lady H bookings: ings@katrust.org.uk

book-

Girlguiding skipper enquiries: aecannon@virginmedia.com Another community narrowboat, owned by the Thames and Kennet Narrow Boat Trust, is based at Aldermaston: http:// www.narrowboattrust.co.uk/

Vicki Messam from Devizes captured the Kenavon Venture on one of their lock experience trips.


PHEW! AT LAST IT’S HAPPENING! On the 15th July 2017 Bradford on Avon saw a lot of hard work, organisation and worry come to fruition in the form of a Canal Fete. The Fete was the brainchild of BoA Branch member Deborah Wray and CRT Volunteer Phyllis Giddings.

tainment was provided by ‘The Melksham Ukulele Band’, Andrew Bezeley (solo blues singer) and a great sing along set was also provided by ‘The Crofton Stokers’. Some of Barbara MacLellan’s crew dressed as pirates, complete with ‘Pieces of Eight’ - a very noisy pirate parrot! They patrolled the canal side fearsomely advertising our forthcoming pirate trips and John and Joan MacIver did us proud by dressing as traditional ‘bargees’.

Masterminded by Deborah and Phyllis, stalls and entertainment were organised weeks in advance and the days programme was rapidly filled up. Phyllis spent many hours in her spare time producing enough ‘yarn bombs’ to decorate the whole of Bradford on Avon Lock-side. Her knitting skills certainly made the lock very attractive. Perhaps CRT should consider dressing up all their locks in a similar fashion!

Yarn bombed lock As the day dawned, well about 8:30 a.m. really, many volunteers and stallholders gathered to set up their stalls and their gazebos. There was a gentleman selling handcrafted cheese, bee keeping demonstrations, craft stalls, the local Kettlesmith Brewing Company (my favourite), wooden spoon painting, CRT and of course KACT both promoting the canal heavily! Enter-

The Motley Crew The Wharf Café was open for business and provided a continual supply of fantastic food and drink throughout the day. Our own M.V. Barbara McLellan was running short trips all day and proved very popular. Although everything appeared to run smoothly on the day, like all these things, as anyone who has been involved in organizing such an event knows, ‘expect the unexpected’! Like the Morris dancers who, although booked well in advance, pulled out, not leaving enough time to find a replacement team. Like the two floating traders who, for reasons best known to themselves did not turn up on the day and worst of all poor Phyllis, who, just days before the event fell and fractured her hip and spent two weeks in the Royal United Hospital. It looked like all her hard work in producing yards of “yarn bombs” would not be seen! All was saved however by her daughter, Carol, who turned up on the day with said “yarn bombs” and Anita Churchouse who did Phyllis proud by decorating the lock. “All these things are sent to try us” so someone once said! What do they know? All I heard was Deborah saying quietly “Phew! At last it’s happening”.

The Barbara McLellan joins in the fun

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Despite the last minute antics the event was very well attended, everyone enjoyed the day and a small profit was made for KACT funds. Our thanks go to Deborah and Phyllis for their dedication and hard work and to all our volunteers who helped on the day.

The Crofton Stokers The good news is that Phyllis has made a good recovery and is now up and about once again. Although the weather didn’t play ball totally, it didn’t rain! What do you expect for mid July – Sun?

Melksham Ukulele Band

Busy Beekeeping Bryan Baker Chair Bradford on Avon

SUCCESSFUL YEAR FOR BATH VOLUNTEERS

It has been a very successful year for the Bath Canal and River Trust Towpath Task Force volunteers during 2017. The Bath group was formed from a core of K&A volunteers who had previously worked on the Burbage crane, Claverton pumping station and Dundas wharf.

Some major achievements for the year include: 

Continuing extensive ongoing work at Dundas, with the site being awarded the Red Wheel Award. Complete refurbishment and painting of the Bath flight of locks;

Submitted proposal for new design to Friends of Sydney Gardens, BANES Council and CRT for Sydney Gardens lower level abatements which have been lost under dredgings, accumulated filth and decades of neglect. The plan is to renew and enhance the site to the original design;

Submitted a proposal to Waterspace Partnership a collaboration between BANES Council, Wessex Water, Environmental Agency and CRT, for the purchase of a dedicated working boat to support the re-generation of the River Avon and support the work on the K&A

Removal and clearance of vegetation to deter rough sleeping at entrance to the K&A and removal of himalayan balsam;

Submitted proposal for upgrading of towpath in Bath;

Supporting various voluntary group such as BANES Council, Lloyds and MACE;

Effectively managing and

The group covers an extensive stretch of river and canal from Hanham through to Dundas covering 12 locks – 5 with landing stages, 2 tunnels, 6 bridges over 16 miles.

The group meets every Thursday and carries out a wide range of activities completing major building restoration, preparing and painting locks, repairing broken seats, drainage work and vegetation clearance alongside the towpath and on the riverbank. The group work alongside the CRT staff and their contractors. There are currently 24 volunteers on the books, an increase of 9 over the year. An annual estimate is that the volunteers contribute around 3500 - 4000 hours a year to the work of the CRT.

The importance of a permanent work boat in Bath for the K&A and the River Avon has become paramount as it has been central in the continuing work of the volunteers. 19


upgrading the CRT Vale of Pewsey work boat with a complete internal refit and new operating procedures established; 

Extensive training for skipper and deckhand;

Providing numerous talks and walks in and around Bath on the Heritage of the Canal system and attendance at World Heritage Day Bath;

Completed training and assessment in Health and Safety, the use of hand held tools – strimmers, brush cutters, CATS, Boat Helmsman and Deckhand;

John Webb, K&A Vice President, awarded CRT Gold Award for achieving 2000 hours of volunteering;

The K&A canal being awarded the Green Flag award – “impressed with the contribution of the volunteers along the K&A”.

If anyone would like to join the group please contact Trevor Clark Lead Volunteer Bath Towpath Task Force. His email address is t.clark603@btinternet.com

Vale of Pewsey refurbishment group

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW! Every year we welcome many interesting people on board the Barbara McLellan during the course of the season. A particularly interesting passenger this year was a lady called Anna Blake. Anna won gold and silver medals at the World Cerebral Palsy Games in 1982 and two bronze medals in the freestyle swimming event at the World Paralympics in 1984. Being a Paralympian led to other opportunities for Anna, including helping to build a workshop for disabled people in Kenya in 1991; meeting Mother Teresa in India while helping to build a home for

boys in 1997; meeting the Queen at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. Anna is the only woman to have cycled 1,126 miles around Britain and Ireland in 1986 to raise money for Cerebral Palsy Overseas.

Anna is pictured with skipper Graeme Bowyer

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Handbells ring out on the Barbara MacLellan

On another cruise we welcomed the tower outing from St Andrews in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. The bell ringers were en route to ring at St Peters, Freshford as part of a tour of ringing. They played handbells for us as we cruised to Avoncliffe where they then took the train to continue their journey.


PAINTED LADY PART 2 You may recall that in the Spring 2016 Edition of The Butty, I wrote about the facelift that our Bradford on Avon trip boat M.V Barbara McLellan underwent in an effort to make her look young again ! We had the superstructure stripped back to bare metal and professionally treated and painted under cover of Semington Dry Dock.

painting session, we had two of our busiest seasons yet !

November to have her bottom blacked!

Now, however, I can report that progress has been made! “Hurrah” I hear our volunteer crews shout! We have finally been able to make a start on the sign writing, but wait, just when we thought all was going to plan, disaster struck yet again! Having completed one of the main panels, the boat was turned to allow Hannah, our sign writer, to access the starboard panel but she noticed that the prepared panel was starting to blister.

We have arranged with Hannah to take advantage of being under cover again for her to come back and complete all outstanding work. The only proviso being that our volunteer paint party completes all necessary preparation before Hannah returns!

Facelift phase 1 To reduce the cost, the idea was to bring her back to her mooring at Bradford on Avon where our volunteers would complete the painting of the side panels, gunwales and bow in readiness for some traditional canal boat sign writing to finish the job. ‘Best laid plans of mice and men… “ as the saying goes. Here we are nearly two seasons later and the job is still not completed!! Not for want of trying I might add. It seems that over the interceding months everything possible has conspired against us to prevent much progress being made; weather, temperature, illness, unavailability, even the sign writer had to abort her planned visit due to personal circumstances! Between trying to fit in a

One side down, one to go

Making a start Consequently after careful examination and discussion we came to the conclusion that it would be unwise to continue to apply the sign writing until we knew why the paint was starting to blister. Removal and re-painting of the underlying red panel was obviously the best way forward. This of course meant that the sign writing had to be postponed yet again. All is not lost however since we are docking Barbara in 21

Although it has taken a lot longer than originally anticipated I doubt whether there is a husband or partner out there who has not discovered that when their lady is applying her “slap” time does not come into the equation - so it is with our Barbara! Bryan Baker Chair Bradford Branch


POTENTIAL OF OUR WATERWAYS How volunteers fought to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal

In this article written in 1966, David Harris, former Publicity Officer of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust describes the coming of the canal era, the construction of the Kennet & Avon Canal, the Trust’s plans for the canal’s complete restoration and the first major project at Sulhamstead lock. Issued as a press release, this was part of the publicity campaign leading up to the second Newbury Boat Fair in May of that year. Water fascinates – has done for centuries. Vital to man’s existence he has through the ages harnessed it in different ways. First, he used it as a means of transport with his paddle and sail, then with steam, petrol and diesel and now atomic powered ships. Secondly, he has used water as a source of power from the water mill to hydro-electric schemes. And now to a greater extent water is being used for pleasure. To come closer to home though it was water which played a significant part in the birth of the Industrial Revolution largely through the building of canals and what better and surer way of providing a reliable and in those days quicker means of transport. But are those glorious days of the horse quietly plodding along the tow-path gone? Commercially speaking as the canals are at present, yes, but look what lies beyond. Look at the plight of our over-crowded island where last year over one million British tourists were lost to the teeming beaches of Spain.

And remember those traffic jams on the Exeter by-pass? For only a mere drop in the ocean of Government money, the canals and rivers of England and Wales have the greatest recreational potential that this country has ever had. Only last year a special Minister of Recreation and Sport was appointed to look into just this very pressing problem – how to provide and encourage recreational activities throughout Great Britain for a nation of what I believe to be increasingly apathetic and materially minded people. The Kennet & Avon Canal The Kennet & Avon Canal is just one waterway within 2000 miles of interlinked inland rivers and canals in England and Wales, but geographically it is the only wide waterway spanning the West Country. From its small beginnings in 1723, its far sited local financers opened up a vital waterway link between the ports of Bristol and London. This is what the Kennet & Avon Trust (which is run entirely by volunteers) exists 22

for – the complete restoration and re-opening of this magnificent canal. In doing this, the Trust believes that it has in the past and will to a greater extent in the future, provide a real challenge to young and old alike to contribute towards a job really worth doing. How it all began The first section of the canal – The River Kennet Navigation from Reading to Newbury – was opened in 1723, and provided a quicker and more reliable means of transport for local agricultural products. And it also meant an uninterrupted and cheaper journey to London via the Thames. Five years later, the River Avon section from Hanham Mills (the tidal limit of the Avon) to Bath was opened to trade. But it was not until 1810 that the final section between Newbury and Bath was opened thus completing the Kennet & Avon Navigation, an 87 mile wide waterway linking the two great ports of London and Bristol. A roaring trade The Kennet & Avon Canal, being


a wide waterway, was used by barges which could carry up to 60 tons, treble the capacity of narrow boats on the canals in the Midlands. Trade prospered further with the opening of the Somerset Coal Canal, joining the K&A at Limpley Stoke near Bath, and the Wilts & Berks Canal linking the canal at Semington with the Thames at Abingdon. In addition to coal, other cargoes carried included timber, grain and many other agricultural products. In 1818, there were seventy 60 ton barges operating on the canal, and by 1832 some 300,000 tons of goods were carried per annum. Railways take-over But alas, the prosperity was short lived for Great Western Railway (GWR) which opened in 1834, purchased the Kennet & Avon Canal Company in 1851 with the aim of eliminating competition with the railway. Gradually through shoddy maintenance work, an increase in tolls, ludicrous laws such as prohibiting powered craft and forbidding week-end working, the canal fell into near disuse. By 1906, both the Somerset Coal Canal and Wilts & Berks Canal had closed, and traffic dwindled by design of its railway owners. In that same year, the Royal Commission on Inland Waterways reported that tolls on the Kennet & Avon were 50 per cent higher than any other canal. The GWR were too concerned with their branch lines and faster locomotives to bother about con-

ditions and life on the waterway. Apathy towards the canal prevailed through the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s until 1948 and the nationalisation of the railways. Attempted closure defeated Now that both the railways and canals came under Government control in the form of the British Transport Commission, a final attempt to close the Kennet & Avon was made in 1955. The proposal prompted two campaigns. The first was a Petition, drawn up by the Kennet & Avon Canal Association and signed by 22,000 supporters which was canoed from Bath to the Houses of Parliament. The second was by John Gould, the last trader on the canal who sued the Government for preventing him from legitimately carry on his business. Whilst the Government settled out of Court, John’s action together with the Petition led to the withdrawal of the closure plan. Spurred on by their success, the Association gathered many sympathetic supporters and immediately started its own huge restoration task. Money and practical help were, and still are the two vital necessities to fight the further decline of the canal and lack of Government support. Volunteers and money Boat rallies, exhibitions, jumble sales, public meetings, lectures and working parties soon got going and after eight years restoration experience, the K&A 23

Association produced its own Redevelopment Plan. This laid out a simple and effective way of completely restoring the canal together with a practical way of running it at a profit. Above all, the Association believed that instead of the nation having a derelict canal on its hands, it could have a waterway that could provide a recreational amenity so desperately needed in this age of speed and congestion. With the publication of the British Waterways Board’s report “Facts about the Waterways” in December 1965, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust (successor to the Association) urged the governing bodies of recreation and sport to get-together with British Waterways. They could then discuss ways and means of providing an amenity waterway with recreational facilities which the Trust was convinced the public would not mind paying for. Let’s get on with it What is clearly needed now is some positive action from the Government, for fundamentally, our inland waterways have much wider social implications than just for boats. These include angling, walking, camping, adventure training, nature study, supervised swimming and historical studying. In addition, they open up the possibility of attracting marinas and holiday cottages. To further this belief, the K&A Canal Trust has just finished work on its first


major restoration project – the complete rebuilding of Sulhamstead lock using H.M.Prison labour, volunteers and army engineers and equipment under BW supervision. To pay for this and work being undertaken on each of the Trust’s five branches, the Trust is organising its second Boat Fair at Newbury on Whit Monday, 30th May 1966. Approved by the Ship and Boat Builders National Federation, this year’s one day event (from 10am to 7pm) sets out to provide something for everyone – Fair Ground attractions, side stalls, a gymkhana, a traction engine rally, miniature railway, marine trade exhibitions and demonstrations on the water and on land … with refreshments throughout the day.

A SPECIAL PLACE

The garden at Bradford on Avon Canal Cafe was blooming as always but on this Sunday in June the secret was out. For the first time the garden was visited by over eighty people as part of the Bradford on Avon Secret Garden Scheme. Visitors enjoyed tea and cake with a smile from Victoria and Tarkan and a quiet stroll or sit in the garden watching the ever changing canal scene.

If you are interested in boating, fishing, cycling, walking, nature study or just being out in the countryside, then the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust has plenty to offer – why not see for yourselves on Whit Monday, 30th

I COULD HARDLY BELIEVE MY EYES!

The lock keepers at Bradford on Avon see some interesting sights. This is not one they see often!

OBITUARY The gardens are looked after by KACT volunteers throughout the year, so thank you to them for their commitment, without which there wouldn't be this special place to enjoy.

A piece of treasured KACT historical memorabilia owned by David Harris. 24

We mark the passing of Fred Blampied 1923-2017. This quiet man was responsible for the vision of what could be achieved within an old commercial dock, namely Bristol, that set a precedent that has been widely copied around the UK. He also kept alive the hope in 1970 that one day a restored K&A might provide an east-west broad beam waterway. This hope was key in securing the Heritage Lottery funding for the final restoration of this waterway. He was a remarkable man.


NEWBURY NEWS Although we couldn’t say ‘Here comes the sun’ at the Newbury Waterways Festival in July, we had a fun day of Beatlemania! A good selection of boats attended with Terry Gray on Cloud 9 deservably winning Best Boat for the third time with his fantastic yellow submarine .

ended the Festival and our MC Terry Kemp, together with our canoe duck catchers led by Marion Quimby, managed to make it a very exciting event!

Cut out Sgt Pepper’s are left to right: David Copley, Trustee and Reading Branch Chair, Peter Turvey, Trustee and Crofton Chair, Richard Parry, Canal & River Trust CEO and Rob Dean, Chair of Trustees.

Terry Gray aka Sgt Pepper with his winning boat Cloud 9

Thanks to all boaters for their help over the weekend. The tents wouldn’t go up without you. A special thanks to Dave and Mandy from the K&A Brewery for rescuing our wet Saturday night party with tables and benches so we could fit everyone in the tents – and for the beer of course! Our band, The Acoustic Beatles Shambles were a great success and had everyone singing along to their favourite Beatles song. Jubilee and Crew worked hard running 3 full trips during the day to give visitors a taste of the Canal from the water. A huge thank you to Graham Smith, our site manager, who books in all our traders and organises the park. He works quietly at this every year, belying the sheer amount of work he does. He is much appreciated. As usual our ‘famous in Newbury’ Duck Race

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s narrowboat Jubilee, a special birthday tea for the boat and its volunteer crew was held on the Wharf on Saturday 1 July. The guest of honour was Mr James Puxley, the LordLieutenant of Berkshire, who met crew members and gave a short speech before joining other special guests for a short cruise through Newbury.

Santa trips – best time of year! Jubilee Crew are looking forward to our popular and fun Santa Boat Trips during December. Presents are being bought and wrapped, Santa is growing his beard and the mulled wine tested. It is this time of year we are grateful to Newbury place names: we cruise to ‘Greenham Land’! 25

TRAINING UP THE TROOPS AT CROFTON

Tom joined Crofton as a volunteer with his father, Rob, at the beginning of the season in 2016. He is still at school and also enjoys the Fire Service ‘Young Firefighters’ training, already having completed his first course successfully. To begin with Tom was kept busy at Crofton on steaming days by filling the coal bunker by the boiler from the pile in the yard. He works really hard and enjoys keeping busy.

This season, Tom has begun duties on the beam gallery where he is learning quickly and interacting with the visitors. He has also spent time selling raffle tickets and at the Steam Gala was even brave enough to enter the leat to rescue escaping ducks from the Duck Race!

He is a great example to youngsters of how they can become involved at Crofton by volunteering. The older volunteers are full of useful knowledge about the site and love to pass it on to younger volunteers just starting out.. Carol Hawkins Volunteer Crofton


CROFTON BEAM ENGINES

BACK IN STEAM FOR 2017

The Spring edition of The Butty left us in suspense as to whether we could complete all the certification and reconstruction work following on from our extensive boiler repairs. The testing and certification had to take place before we could replace parts of the boiler house and test our engines. It was a superhuman effort by our volunteers to get the station ready for the Easter Steaming. In appreciation and the only way it knows how, our Lancashire boiler shows its joy at being put back to work again.

The Engineman’s Rest Café reopened under the management of Team Bibby, Luke and Sarah, and all through the summer they have maintained the reputation of

Crofton’s famed eatery for offering a mouth-watering array of freshly prepared meals and snacks to our visitors. By just going that extra mile and hosting a music night and another event in support of The Rose at Hungerford they have created a great reputation to carry forward into next year. On our Steaming Days I am often asked about the size of our band of volunteers. Of course, it’s not all about the engineering; there are a host of other supporting activities that go toward providing our famed visitor experiences. In early summer just before opening for the day, this photo shows the group of Crofton and KACT members on site and ready to help.

Crofton to new audiences and have proved to be very popular. Meanwhile at Crofton, as part of the ‘Wiltshire at War’ commemorations for the First World War, we hosted an exhibit from Wiltshire Museum Service in the Old Smithy showing the work of ‘Women on the Home Front’.

Between our busy Crofton based weekends we were able to take the Crofton heritage story out to the wider world. Our pop-up stand appeared at Wiltshire Steam and Vintage Rally at Rainscombe, Newbury Waterfest and the Carnival on the Canal at Devizes Wharf.

Over the summer a fantastic new video about Crofton, produced by Philip Timm and Trevor Neil, has been released. Starring our patron Phil Harding and our volunteers it is an excellent introduction to Crofton and its people. Go to croftonbeamengines.org and select the clapperboard to play the video. Well done to all involved, a great

These events help us to promote 26


resource that we will use a lot.

the live music and dance.

In August we were delighted to receive two additional bench seats complete with commemorative plaques by kind donation from Martin Woodgett. They have been sited outside the Old Smithey and on the top lawn and it was not long before they were being ‘tested’ by the volunteers. They have certainly proved to be very popular with our visitors for the rest of the season.

There were crafts on display and a chance to top up the winter jigsaw and book collection. On the canal side, there were more exhibits and the opportunity for a trip along the canal in Jubilee, one of the KACT boats. In a first for Crofton in all of its 200 year plus history there was a sponsored duck race where in the late afternoon the ducks were dropped enmasse into the No2 engine launder only to emerge and circulate for a while before heading down the leat. They were then rescued by Professor Quacked, aka Trust Chairman Rob Dean, and the winners presented with their prizes.

The Heritage Open Days in early September were very popular especially at the weekend. Crofton takes on a different feel when it is not steaming and it is great to be able to spend time with visitors giving more attention to the history and development of our beam engines than is generally possible on steaming days. Despite this being an opportunity for free access many visitors left generous donations

Another first for Crofton was a magical performance by a sound artist who has crafted an hour long piece celebrating the work of James Watt in sounds from his engines. This was originally performed in the church where Watt is buried in St. Mary’s Church Handsworth. This well attended multi loudspeaker performance was held on the Saturday evening at St. Mary’s Church, Great Bedwyn.

junior members - the more junior the better. So we welcome Logan Dunford 2yrs 11months our newest recruit - a Boilerman in training. His Mother Charlotte, a Crofton volunteer herself, says "He is eager to start properly but I told him he has to grow a bit more". We hope to see him again in a boiler suit.

Now we look forward to 2018. We have a lot of work to carry out on the engines, pumps, building and grounds. There will be opportunities to visit on some of the winter works days and these will be shown on the Crofton Website calendar. So keep checking there! We have already published our 2018 steaming dates on the website but here they are: Steaming Dates 2018 31 March, 1 & 2 April - Easter 5, 6 & 7 May - Early May Bank

The finale for the Crofton Steaming season for this year was the Steam Gala and what a fantastic weekend it was. The weather was at its best as we hosted both steam and other classic vehicles alongside

26, 27 & 28 - Late May Bank Holiday

23 & 24 - June 28 & 29 - July In common with many volunteer led organisation our average age demographic tends to be, to put it kindly, in the upper end of middle age. You can work wonders with statistics (lies, damn lies and statistics) though by recruiting a few 27

25, 26 & 27 August 29 & 30 September *Steam Gala David Throup


K&A SCOOPS THREE AWARDS FOR ENVIRONMENT, HERITAGE AND TOURISM As we start to look back over the summer months and the issues around lack of water due to low rainfall, we at the Canal & River Trust would like to share some of the successes we have enjoyed recently.

The Kennet & Avon Canal is the first canal in the Canal and River Trust (CRT) 2000-mile network to receive a prestigious Green Flag covering its entire length (87 miles). It comes within weeks of being awarded its fourth Red Wheel, recognising its importance for transport heritage. In addition, Bradford on Avon Wharf and Hungerford Wharf have both recently been awarded Trip Advisor Certificates of Excellence. Caen Hill Locks Flight was awarded one a couple of years ago. The Green Flag scheme, which is run by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign and supported by government, sets the national benchmark for top quality green spaces and is judged by experts using strict criteria including cleanliness, environmental management and community involvement.

wonderful 200-year-old structure that is being cared for in a sensitive and proactive manner by a committed team, including an impressive number of active volunteers,” says Green Flag. More than 300 core volunteers help to keep the canal running smoothly. “The amount of work that takes place on the Kennet and Avon, delivered by volunteers from both CRT and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, was recognised by the judges and we are always extremely happy with the work they undertake on the canal,” says Waterway Manager Mark Evans. It joins five other CRT waterways and an aqueduct that are among 1,797 parks and green spaces across the UK judged to be some of the best green spaces in the country.

“The Kennet and Avon Canal is a

In its feedback on the K&A, Green Flag notes: “A clear vision is outlined, as are the values of the organisation. Management of all aspects of the canal is based on comprehensive and well-tested approaches. Heritage and environmental management have a strong profile.” The K&A has scooped the award for its entire 87 miles. Opened in 1810, the waterway stretches from the Bristol Channel to the Thames at Reading, taking in sections of canalised River Kennet and segments of canal. It was the motorway of its day, carrying vast quantities of cargo such as stone, coal and agricultural produce across country. Now a major tourist destination, Green Flag considers the K&A to be “open and welcoming, with good access for all at the majority of visitor sites”, dovetailing with one of its primary aims - to ensure that everybody has access to quality green and other open spaces, wherever they live. Green Flag also picks up on the Diamond Jubilee Woodland at Caen Hill, saying it is an “exciting and imaginative scheme which will do much to enhance the visitor experience and involve the local community”. To add to the K&A’s celebrations,

Devizes Wharf by Bread and Shutter 28


the Dundas Basin near Bath received a Red Wheel plaque from the Transport Trust, marking its historical significance. The Basin has a Grade 1 listed aqueduct, and joins the other big heritage sites of Caen Hill Lock Flight, Claverton and Crofton pumping stations with Red Wheels - similar to English Heritage’s blue plaque scheme.

“Here at the Canal & River Trust we are gearing up for our winter works and preparing for boats to take up their Winter Moorings. It would be great to have some significant rain this winter – I appreciate not great for all, but good for the canal!” says Mark. (These stunning photos of Devizes and Seend were submitted as part of a K&A photograph competition run by the CRT)

From left: Cherry Beath, chair of Bath and North East Somerset Council; Sir William McAlpine, president of the Transport Trust; and Mark Evans, K&A Waterway Manager, unveil the Red Wheel plaque at Dundas Basin. Photo by Caroline Robson CRT’s Heritage Adviser David Viner said “The Dundas Basin was a vital connection along the Kennet & Avon Canal. The junction the basin formed with the Somerset Coal Canal, ensured that the Somerset coalfields could supply the city of Bath by boat at a fraction of the cost of transporting the goods by road.” The icing on the celebratory cake comes from the travel website Trip Advisor, which has given Bradford on Avon Wharf and Hungerford Wharf Certificates of Excellence. It awards these to destinations and establishments that consistently earn outstanding reviews from its travellers.

Barge at Seend Photo by Craig Purvis

WELCOME TO NEW KACT TRUST MEMBERS

Dr Vize & Mr Thompson

Reading

Mr Lloyd-Hart

Crofton

Mr Howse

Newbury

Mr & Mrs Parsons

Crofton

Mr & Mrs Turner

Hungerford

Mr & Mrs Adley

Central

Dr & Mrs Cox

Hungerford

Ms Barltrop

Central

Mr & Mrs Summers Hungerford

Mr Spreadbury & Ms Hirst

Bruce

Mr Dinham & Mrs Alston

Devizes

Mr Rubach

Bradford

Mr Hiscocks

Devizes

Mr & Mrs Hodnett

Bradford

Miss Hardy

Devizes

Ms C Stagg

Bradford

Mr & Mrs Lark

Devizes

29


READING BRANCH GO VISITING It is several years since Reading Branch held a members’ outing so this year we compensated by holding two. Our first trip was in June when terrestrial members joined 5 members’ boats for a short cruise from Burghfield Bridge to Theale where a communal picnic took place on the towpath just west of the swing bridge. There is some confusion as to whether the locality should be referred to as Sheffield Bottom, as in Sheffield Lock, or Shenfield Bottom as in Shenfield Mill immediately opposite our picnic site.

Shenfield Mill from the Mill Stream

The mill came into prominence a few years ago when lawyers proved that responsibility for expensive repairs to the weir lay with BWB rather than the mill owner, at that time singer Kate Bush. She has now moved on and the new owners, businessman Mike Taylor and his wife, had offered to show us round the site. Mills have existed on the River Kennet before opening of the navigation and have adapted over

time. At Shenfield Mill grain grinding

skills with them. Donations were made to assist his future specialised training. Shenfield Mill is not normally open for visits but recent landscaping has resulted in the mill walls now being partly visible from the canal and towpath.

Branch members in the gardens with Mrs Taylor

eventually gave way to paper production, one part of the mill producing brown paper for wrapping vegetables and the other making white paper, much of which was used for packing material in the Huntley and Palmer biscuit factory in Reading. This came to an end in 1877 when the mill was destroyed by fire. After an outline of the historical background, we were left to explore the extensive site where, after very many years of decay, the Taylors have now stabilised the ruins of the mill and are developing the gardens. They have also installed an Archimedes screw alongside the famous weir, generating electric power for their home in the mill house and several local properties with excess being sold to the National Grid. We rejoined them for tea on the lawn and were introduced to a young “apprentice” guide dog who is learning initial house

30

The Mill from the tow path Our second trip at the end of August took us to a waterway which rarely features on boaters’ itineraries – the Chichester Canal.

Reading Branch members picnic on the tow path

This once formed part of a long inland water route used to take naval stores between London and


Portsmouth without encountering unfriendly foreign ships on the sea. The canal no longer links with the River Arun but a 4 mile section remains between Chichester basin and tidal Chichester Harbour. The Chichester Ship Canal Trust operates two boats from an attractive basin at Chichester towards the salty end of the waterway but a low road bridge currently prevents cruising the full length. Remedial work is planned. Our group had exclusive use of the Trust’s smaller boat Kingfisher while their larger craft operated their popular timetabled public trips. Our thanks to Mr & Mrs Taylor who showed us around their land, the two families who organised the trips and those who provided transport.

READING WATERFEST 2017

Reading WaterFest 2017 took place on June 10th in our usual venue on the Forbury Loop of the River Kennet in central Reading. The site is split into two by a main road bridge (with underpass). Trade stands, the Trust stands and some members boats use the western part outside the ruins of Reading Abbey and Reading Gaol whilst local charity stands and more boats use the eastern part outside Homebase. Additional events also take place in the nearby Forbury Gardens.

David Copley

The busy eastern end of the Waterfest Jubilee leaves Chestnut on another busy trip

Is mine winning? @ the Duck Race

Unusually, the weather remained dry all day and, in addition to land events and entertainments organised by our partners in Reading Borough Council events team, visitors were treated to 2 parades of decorated boats and a water demonstration by volunteers of Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue. Trust trip boat “Jubilee” was kept busy on short public trips and carried 298 people in a single day. Thanks crew! 31

single day. Thanks crew!

The Mayor of Reading, Councillor Rose William and her grand-daughter, take a trip around the site in the launch Stanley, accompanied by Reading Branch Chair, David Copley.

We are now planning Reading WaterFest 2018 for June 16th 2018. We welcome visiting boats from everywhere but particularly from other parts of the K&A. Contact David Copley, d.copley247@btinternet.com for details. We are hoping that initial restoration/ stabilisation of Reading Abbey will be completed in time to welcome visitors during WaterFest 2018. David Copley Reading Chair


The Chairman writes:

Dear Members and Volunteers…. I’m sure that 2017 will be remembered as an important year in the history of the Trust. It has certainly been a busy one and, as we head towards Christmas, I know that our members, volunteers, and staff will be able to look back with satisfaction at a great year’s work; helping to look after the canal and Crofton, running boat trips and events, and helping others to enjoy the canal. More than that, we have had 2 important developments this year and these are set out in more detail in this edition of The Butty. The first is our headline story: the success of our bid to the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund for a major grant to support our project to secure Crofton for the future. With more than £½m from the HLF and a further £150,000 that we’ve raised from other foundations and the generosity of our members (thanks!), we will be able to secure the future of Crofton as an important feature of our canal. Winning this grant was by no means easy; it has taken several years of hard work by our project team of volunteers and staff. The sheer volume of paper that the HLF needs to see filled 2 large ring binders. During the last month or so of the bid process, most of the project team did little else. It wasn’t just volume as the quality of our work was praised by the HLF in feedback from their decision committee. The tough job is now starting, of course. We have just 2 years to deliver all we promised to do and the HLF will be monitoring us carefully to ensure we do. I’m confident we will suc-

ceed; it’s what the volunteers and staff of this marvellous Trust have been doing for more than half a century. I mustn’t let my happiness (and relief) over the success of the HLF bid overshadow our other big step this month. We have brought our alliance with the Bruce Trust to its obvious conclusion by taking on, permanently, their 4 boats which are specially-designed and purposebuilt, for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people. We’ve been managing the operation for 2 seasons now and this year has seen our newly formed Bruce branch working so hard to demonstrate that the boats fit in well with our Trust’s aim and objectives. Promoting the restored canal is one of our primary roles and what better way to do so than enabling those groups who might otherwise find it hard, to get afloat and enjoy the beauty of the Kennet & Avon? I want to say a big welcome to the volunteers and staff of our Bruce branch. We are pleased to have you as members of the K&A Canal Trust family. Stepping back to look at the Trust overall, we now have 8 branches, 9 boats, a Grade One listed Pumping Station, a museum, 5 cafes and visitor centres, an archive, 6 staff, and a £845k major project to deliver. We have a lot going on and a lot to manage. Our staff are dedicated, hardworking and important. But the Trust’s foundation is management by volunteers. We rely on a wide range of skills and engagement from crew members offering a day a month up to branch teams, Directors and Trustees, many of whom devote 32

a great deal of time and professional expertise to making the Trust a successful charity by ensuring we operate in a business-like way. The branches will be meeting in November to consider ways of recruiting more volunteers across the Trust. I’d like to ask our members to help as well. I’m particularly looking for some skilled professionals who would join us as trustees and directors to help manage our important work. Please write to me at chair@katrust.org.uk if you know somebody who might be able to offer us their help and commitment even if it’s only a few hours each month. I need to finish by ensuring I thank all of our volunteers and staff for an amazing 2017. The Trust is in great health as it ends its 55th year. That’s down to the hundreds of dedicated supporters who love the Kennet & Avon and give so freely of their time and passion to enable us to Protect, Enhance and Promote this beautiful waterway. I wish you a Happy Christmas and a successful 2018. Rob Dean CMG Chair of Trustees


The draining of Lock 14 at Bradford on Avon February 2017


The Butty  

The magazine for members and volunteers of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust

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