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The magazine for members and volunteers of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Issue No: 216 Autumn 2019

KENNET AND AVON CANAL TRUST Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf, Couch Lane, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 1EB Telephone: 01380 721279 www.katrust.org.uk President:


Rob Dean CMG

Jean Cook is the

Vice Presidents:

Trust Administrator, office.manager@katrust.org.uk

Richard Benyon MP Michael Corfield

Tel: 01380 721 279

Bill Fisher Michael Goodenough Terry Kemp

David Lamb

Any of the lovely office staff—Jean, Jen or Becky will deal with your enquiries and help connect you with the right person, regarding:

Prunella Scales

Volunteering with the Trust

John Webb

Booking boat trips

Timothy West

Making contact with the local Branches (see below)

Trust Council Chair:

The KACT Archive

Chris Sims

Enterprise Board, the KACT Company


Becoming a KACT member

Council: Mike Bailey

….and any other enquiries you may have.

Chris Bolt CB David Copley Robert Dunton David Fearns

We have Trust Branches, based in Bath, Bradford on Avon, Devizes, Hungerford, Newbury, Reading; the Bruce boats at Gt. Bedwyn and the Beam Engines at Crofton.

Daisy Mundy Terry Mundy Graham Snook Peter Turvey

KACT is a registered charity: no.CC209206,

KACT (Enterprise) is a company limited by guarantee: no. 726331 KACT is an ambassador for #GreatWestWay

Enterprise Board Chair Vacant 2

A Note from the Editor


Lesley Hooper: thebutty@katrust.org.uk

Another bumper issue of The Butty is


KACT contacts

here for your delight. I am pleased to


Note from Editor

include an article from young Shelley


Scratching the Barbara Mac


Restoring historic wharf


Newbury News


Fending off!


Picture Puzzle

board the Lady H will encourage you


New KACT members

once again, that young people are enjoying our canal alongside those of


Narrowboating & D of E

more advanced years. The twinning between the K&A and the Canal


Tigers & old rope

du Nivernais looks set for revival. Do get in touch if you would like to


Boatman’s holiday

be involved in this in some way.


Canal twinning

The historical slant of the magazine looks at our turf locks and makes


Thelma aboard the Admiral

interesting reading.

The KACT archive is a rich resource we are


Summer at Crofton

fortunate to have. At Bradford on Avon, those of us who regularly


Chocks away!

bring the Barbara McLellan back to her berth at the quay, are very


Turf Siders


Community Spirit & Sulis


The Rose


Devizes Doin’s


An Auspicious Day


Waltzing Matilda


Bridging the gap


AGM 2020 date


How to volunteer

who volunteers with the Bruce Branch and brings all her youthful enthusiasm to the job.


Cannon’s bright account of the girls from the guiding community, on

appreciative of the new fenders that have been installed. This is amply covered with the background and further on, the nitty gritty of the installation. I LOVE the GIRL POWER that simply booms out of Sharmain’s article

mysteriously entitled “An Auspicious Day”. This boating business is definitely for us girls too. We are enjoying the autumn colours now on the canal, as the countryside looks forward to settling down and going to sleep over the winter months.

I know that there will be lots of work by KACT

volunteers taking place, to ensure another bumper summer season ahead for us and our visitors, both on land and on water. Boats and buildings to maintain, programmes to prepare and of course, Santa trips to thrill

both young and old alike.

Front Cover: Lucy Clark, Brownie Leader, working towards Queen’s Guide Award

Happy volunteering to all our volunteers!

Photo: Alison Cannon

Back Cover Photos: David Throup 3

Scratching the Barbara McLellan Boat modellers regularly look for an unusual boat to create in model form and would be interesting to build and one perhaps that no one else has built. As a regular walker along the canals in the area, watching the various boats pass by, I suppose I am your typical Gongoozler. My first real experience of the Kennet and Avon canal was back in the 1970’s. The canal then was in quite a poor state and it fell to many volunteers (of whom I was one) to help clear the waterways, maintain the locks and enable these majestic water highways to be reopened across the country. I still like to walk these same canal tow paths many years later and this is how I came across the Barbara McLellan at her moorings in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. We took an afternoon trip, and by the time we returned I was already building her, in my mind’s eye, as a scale model. I was quite busy at that time working on other projects to earn a living so time was not really available to take on this build. Having now more time available it seemed a good moment to take the plunge. The Barbara McLellan was built in approximately 1982 by Hancock and Lane as a trip and party boat and originally named the Aquarius. These particular boat builders were very busy in the 70’s and into the 80’s, sadly ending operations in around 1984. They were originally

well known for the ‘Norsman style’ canal boats but they also built a smaller canal boat with a raised front deck commonly referred to as the ’Marlin’. The Aquarius (Barbara McLellan) was possibly a one off specification construction project so was certainly unusual in that respect. However, with the company having by now ceased trading, the original plans could not easily be found. A new set of plans had to be created, drawn to the selected scale. New plans were probably going to be necessary anyway, as a model plan differs somewhat from a full boat yard build, being less detailed and there would have been changes over the last 35 years.

The final model should not be too large, yet of a suitable scale so as to ensure the interior furniture & fittings can be seen quite easily. On a later visit, the crew of the vessel very kindly gave me the opportunity to come on board to photograph & measure up the entire boat. This was both externally from bow to stern and the internal spaces including furniture, doors and interior fittings. The next step was to create a set of plans to create a model of sensible scale. After reviewing the boat scantlings, a scale of 1:24 was selected, which 4

achieved the desired outcomes of the finished build. This would give a completed model length of 82.5cm x 13.6cm wide x 13 cm keel to top. Barbara McLellan is L 19.8m x B 3.26m x Depth 3.21m (Depth includes draft and air draft) There are various ways to build model boats. Many come in kit form where all pre-made parts are supplied, such as an ‘Airfix’ style of construction. Obviously no kits or pre-made parts were available for this boat, so the build had to be completed by creating parts by hand, using the newly drawn plans as a guide. This is commonly described by modellers as a “scratch build”. There are many materials that can be used for building model boats and one of the easier materials to use is Balsa. This comes in many different types and hardness so it is important to select the right type. The hull section was formed of a balsa base and sides. Bulkheads were inserted w h e r e required in the original b u i l d positions of the boat. The topsides or the cabin sides were also built of a hard balsa and the openings of windows doors and hatches were carefully measured and cut in to the wood. This can be quite difficult as you are cutting across the wood grain so very sharp fine tooth saws and modelling knives are required.

The interior was completed using various materials, some that can even be found around the house. I much prefer the recycling of a material, or an object that can be reformed to appear as something q u i t e different in a boat model. I have used this method a few times over the years in various builds. There is quite a bit of repetition required for the interior as having been constructed as a Party /Trip vessel she has many tables and vertical bench seating along the entire interior length both sides of the passenger cabin area. This had to be recreated and finished with the correct furnishing colours. As the model interior would be totally enclosed, the interior has been illuminated with small lights fitted into the deck head along the entire boat length. This is the only part of the build where I allowed a slight liberty during the build process, with the installation of some hidden lighting out of visual sight to ensure an even better illumination of the interior fixtures and fittings.

The model has been painted using standard paints that can be found in a DIY shop. Although I have a range of paints from previous builds to select from, I could not quite achieve the correct colour match. This was finally achieved after a few visits photographing the boat very close up at different times of the day and attracting one of two odd and bemused looks from the local dog walkers. The colours were then computerised and mixed at a local DIY store. The application was completed by using small art brushes, and the final outcomes are as close as could be expected to the original colours. The completion of any model requires the small, detailed parts that finally bring the model to life. The observer should have the impression that they could walk aboard, start the engine and get underway to the first lock. Ladders, boat hooks and barge poles are placed on the roof during trips and these had to be carefully made by hand to precise scale. A number of safety life rings are also positioned along the length of the roof. The life rings are the only parts of the entire build that were purchased as these are very


difficult to create. However, the finished painting and rope lines were all created by hand. The boat fenders at the bow and stern and along the vessels sides were also created by hand, as were the fire extinguishers both for the interior of the model and for the machinery space. Finally, to make the model as authentic and realistic as possible. the three knitted dollies, paper clipboards, the till and several bottles of spirits on optics were placed in the bar area just as they are on the vessel. How long did it take to create? It has been quite a while because of pauses in the build activity for other work I had to do. The total is round 200 hours, mainly because of the great detail that I wanted to achieve. However, during this time the Barbara McLellan had also been updated by the Canal Trust with newly hand painted side panels and flower emblems. This meant the originals already applied to the model had to be removed and updated with the new style. Further upgrades to the boat are planned in

the future, however this is a snapshot in time as she is now. Will I do another? Probably yes. The K&A Trust have other canal boats for day trips. Despite the challenges of this model it has been a very enjoyable build. I have also met along the way the hard working and volunteer crew of this boat. Their joint efforts ensure the public continue to enjoy the canals and help to raise awareness so these magnificent waterways continue long into the future.

Mike Vanstone has lived close to the K&A canal for many years. He has built numerous boat models of various types in the past and creates specific models for those that request them. KACT – CRT – AIM PARTNERSHIP WORKS TO IMPROVE BRADFORD ON AVON UPPER WHARF. For many years now the edging of the wharf at BoA has slowly disintegrated and crumbled. Some of the railway sleepers that previously acted as fenders have broken from their fixings and have been lost. Concrete edging has broken away and exposed steel reinforcing rods which protrude from the wharf, particularly where KACT trip boat M.V.Barbara McLellan moors, creating a very real risk of significant damage to her hull as she comes alongside. CRT were unable to replace the wharf edging with new edging stones. However after further discussions and research, CRT agreed to part fund a proposed solution, which, although not repairing the wharf edging, will prevent any significant damage to boats mooring at the wharf, in particular the KACT Trip boat Barbara McLellan. An approach was made to Avon Rubber PLC, based in Melksham, Wiltshire, for assistance under their Community Help Scheme and they came up trumps. Avon Impact Management (AIM), part of Avon Rubber, offered to design and manufacture high impact rubber fenders free of charge! However the rubber material and fixtures and fixings would have to be funded from other sources. 39 fenders would be required to be fixed along the length of the wharf stretching from the BoA lock mooring, (Lock 14), to the CRT water and pump out point east of the lock. This stretch included Barbara McLellan’s mooring. The fenders would be attached to the existing steel piling. CRT agreed, in principle, to take technical responsibility for the Project and that the work would be undertaken by CRT Volunteers lead by Mr. Graham Long, a chartered Civil Engineer. Suitable fixtures & fittings were identified and a set of drawings produced. Work was planned to take place in June-July 2018 and was expected to take 4-6 weeks. Unfortunately this timescale coincided with Barbara McLellan’s peak operational window but we were confident that with some careful planning we could continue to operate trips and if necessary, with CRT approval, temporarily move our overnight mooring further up the canal. Everything appeared to be on track until CRT dropped what was a potential showstopper. After further reviewing the Project they decided that only half the required funding could be made available! Not wanting to slow the momentum gained by the Project I approached KACT Trustees and suggested we offer to fund the other half of the Project, to which they agreed. However as with most large projects the inevitable delays crept in and work did not actually commence until February 2019. From Barbara McLellan’s point of view this couldn’t have worked out better as during this period she was off her moorings and in dry dock having a new engine fitted ! Phew!! Work progressed rapidly, thanks to the dedication and commitment of CRT Volunteers and the whole job was completed in much less time than the 6 week estimate originally proposed and in plenty of time for the Barbara McLellan to return to her enhanced mooring.

This Project demonstrated the close working relationship Bradford on Avon Branch of the KACT has developed with the local CRT Team and their Volunteers and amply demonstrates what can be achieved when interested parties work together to “Promote, Protect and Enhance” the beautiful Kennet and Avon canal for the benefit of all it’s users. Bryan Baker: Chair Bradford on Avon


NEWBURY NEWS At Newbury branch there have been a few changes on the Committee this year. After several years as Chairman Trevor Staig, who had also previously served as Jubilee’s Boat Manager, stepped down together with our longestserving member, Bob Alderman.

We will miss them and thank them for their years on the Committee. However, we are delighted that Rosie and Howard Bass have joined, keeping the Committee at full strength. Both are keen crew on Jubilee and will be a great asset. We have gained a new Chairman, Julian Foley, and a new Vice Chairman, Sally Hodnett. One of the new Committee’s first tasks has been to start planning for next year’s Newbury Waterways Festival which will take place on Sunday 5th July 2020. Save the date!!

To mark Trevor’s “retirement”, a group of us from the Newbury Branch were given a guided tour of the West Berkshire Brewery at Yattendon in May. Trust Vice President and Brewery Chairman, David Bruce, kindly showed us round - followed by some sampling! It was a great evening. A big thank you to David for being such a fantastic host. The first photo shows Trevor, his wife Jill and David Bruce inside the brewery production area. Despite the fairly dismal weather at times, particularly at the start of the season, Jubilee’s wonderful volunteer crew have been very busy running our trips here in Newbury. A Jubilee crew member, Zoe Johnstone passed her MCA exams in June and is a welcome addition to our team of skippers. Congratulations Zoe! Jubilee’s trips here in Newbury have drawn in lots of passengers. Further afield, in June she was at the Reading Waterfest, using the time spent on the 4 days of transit trips as a crew training opportunity. At the Festival itself, it turned into a record-breaking day, with over 330 passengers having a short trip around the Gaol Loop and seeing how things look from on the water. The second photo shows Jubilee’s Maintenance Manager and helm, Brian Emerson, on the back of Jubilee at Reading. At the time of my writing this, we are just coming towards the end of the school summer holidays. Our extra Thursday trips have proved to be as popular as ever and for 4 weeks in August, Jubilee became a Pirate Galleon taking little Pirates and their families out on the water to raid old Newbury town every Tuesday afternoon. However, our season is far from over. We look forward to our continued public trips in the late Autumn sunshine as well as running Creepy Cruises at the end of October, and of course our popular and fun Santa Trips in December. Sarah Foley


FENDING OFF AT BoA Graham Long, CRT Volunteer, brings us up to date with the Fender Project

After nearly 2 years in development, the fender project at Bradford on Avon wharf on the K&A Canal got underway in late February 2019. The finance for the scheme was a joint venture between CRT, the K&A Canal Trust, Avon Impact Management (AIM) and SPC Rubber Compounding. The installation was carried out by volunteer teams from the Bradford on Avon CRT Tow Path Working Party. The benefits of the rubber fenders include their long lifetime, their excellent impact properties, and the way in which AIM were able to tailor make them for the project. The new rubber fenders arrived at the wharf from AIM who had made the 39 units with materials supplied by SPC Rubber Compounding. The design was a collaboration between the volunteer group who were going to install the fenders and the engineering team for CRT in Devizes. Each rubber fender unit has been fixed to the current sheet piling wall using 12mm ‘Hollo bolts’. The number of bolts ranges from 4 on the shorter length units to 8 on the longer units. The bolts were financed by the K&A Canal Trust. Work started on the fenders at the end of February with the removal of all the old timber baulks which were in a very poor state of repair and had been there for 30 years plus. Installation followed over the next 7 weeks with teams working on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. An additional 2 units were required as the gap between the units was reduced from 200mm to 50mm during installation. Installation involved marking then drilling the rubber fender, marking the sheet piling wall before drilling pilot holes then cutting out the required hole ready to receive the ‘Hollo bolt’. This expanded behind the pile wall to hold the fender in place. Bolts were inserted through the fender and the pile wall and torqued up to 80Nm. In all, over 200 bolts were installed in this way. Luck would also help in the installation as the K&A trip boat, the “Barbara McLellan” which is moored in the middle of the wharf site, had to leave the wharf for major maintenance which left the site clear for the team to install the units without having to continually move the trip boat. CRT chaps threading fender

CRT chaps fixing fender


Tightening the bolts

New fender in place

Welcome to new KACT members

PICTURE PUZZLE The answer to the puzzle from the last edition is as follows: There is a matching slot in the opposite bank of the canal. Wooden beams are then slotted in to cut off the water flow. This allows a

Mr Jones

Mr & Mrs Maxton-Livesey

Mr Katipalli & Ms Mr Gordon Rowland Mr Roper

Mr Burnell

Mr Franklin

Mr Brind

for maintenance, although it can

Mr & Mrs Thomas

Mr Boys

be used to deal with a serious

Mr & Mrs Card

Mr Heath

Mr Rolls

Mr Levey

Mr Throup

Miss Brister

Mr Dunton

Mr Hide

Mr Menarry

Mr & Mrs Franklin

Mr & Mrs Collis

Mr & Mrs Price

Mr & Mrs

Mr Brady

section of the canal to be drained. It is often used to allow a lock to be completely emptied


And here is this edition’s picture puzzle from Chris Churchouse:

Do you know what this canal side sign indicates?



Narrowboating and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Alison Cannon (Skipper) and Laura Tierney (Crew) recount activities aboard the Lady Hilda

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, at Gold level, requires participants (aged 16 – 24) to take part in a residential experience with people they have not met before, for at least five days and four nights, working towards a common purpose. A narrowboat provides an ideal venue for this, and in July the first such residential was run on Lady Hilda since she became part of the Bruce Branch. Although the trip was organised by Girlguiding Somerset North, participants came from all over the UK and also included some taking part in Queen’s Guide Award – the highest and most challenging award available to young people in Guiding. Here are extracts from the Lady Hilda log book, written by the young people themselves: I was very nervous when I signed up for this trip as part of my Queen’s Guide Award, as I am scared of boats. However, the skipper told us everything we needed to know and was very reassuring. The Lady Hilda is very cute and cosy and does not travel fast. 24th July: 9 locks, 1 swing bridge, 5 miles, 4½ hours On the first day we arrived on the boat …some of our group have come from as far as Wales and Scotland! After playing some icebreaker games, we set off on our adventure. We travelled from Great Bedwyn to Hungerford. Once we had moored up for the evening, we enjoyed a lovely dinner of Spag Bol. Later in the evening we did some “Roses and Castles” painting on wooden spoons. We enjoyed some lovely bell ringing courtesy of the church ringers.

25th July: 11 locks, 2 swing bridges, 8½ miles, 7 hours Today our mission was to successfully navigate the boat through locks. We took it in turns to drive... At Newbury we ventured outside to eat our curry, before heading to town to purchase our well-deserved icecreams (it was an extremely hot day, reaching temperatures of 34oC)… Things learnt from Day 2: how to catapult a strawberry with a spoon and “it’s good to have friends”.

We all went ashore to watch and ended up helping out. It was great to watch and it was fun to help them out with their ropes. Then we continued to Hungerford – which was very busy but thankfully a kind couple let us moor alongside them. In the evening we had a very tasty meal and then played a game of Canal Mania. 28th July: 10 locks, 2 swing bridges, 5 miles, 6 hours

26th July: 12 locks, 4 swing bridges, 7 miles, 7 hours We luckily managed to survive another night without being attacked by the angry imaginary fox (introduced by Anna and her sleep-talking). We set off from Newbury and headed to Thatcham… Whilst at Thatcham we got taught how to successfully throw a rope… we then turned the boat around and began heading home... 27th July: 10 locks, 1 swing bridge, 8½ miles, 7 hours

We survived yet another day on the boat. We left Newbury and headed to Kintbury for lunch. En route we came across a horsedrawn narrowboat.

Helping with the horse boat 10

Last day on the boat. Headed back to Great Bedwyn, back to base. For breakfast we ate like queens, finishing up all the leftovers before heading off. As usual we took it in turns to drive and work the locks and on the way back we were in a spin – taking it in turns to wind the boat.

Lovely time away, meeting new people and exploring a new location. Very calming trip with lots learnt and new friends made.

TIGERS AND OLD ROPE It’s official, tigers love to play with old boat rope. Or at least two Sumatran Tigers at Shepreth Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire do. So much so, they’re on the hunt for more.

The D of E group, Guiding Skipper, Alison Cannon with Lucy Clark (Bucks), Anna Davies (Gwent), Mhairi Ferrier (Angus), Tegan Jones (Glamorgan), Bethany Hibbert (Somerset) Alison summed the experience like this: “They were a great bunch of people and we were impressed at how quickly they learnt to drive the boat. For all except Lucy it was the first time they had been on a canal – but we have a feeling they will be back for more before too long!”

Keepers for Kelabu (11) and mum Ratna (16) are requesting donations of natural fibre marine rope, which they will repurpose to provide enrichment for the tigers. Playing with rope keeps them stimulated and encourages natural behaviour, which has a positive effect on their physical health and mental wellbeing. The two tigers were transferred to Shepreth from Chessington World of Adventures in March. With numbers for the Sumatran tiger at an estimated 300 to 500 in the wild, Ratna was part of a breeding programme to keep the critically endangered subspecies going in captivity. Now retired, she lives with daughter Kelabu at Shepreth which is also home to Meerkats, Macaques, Wallabies, Emus and Lynx. In May, online rope company Buy Rope donated two coir boat fenders to Shepreth. Kelabu in particular has been a big fan ever since.

All donations of rope will enable Shepreth Wildlife Park to continue to provide innovative enrichment for Kelabu and Ratna, and will hopefully lead to the creation of a tiger-size cat scratch post! ꜛLunch & ꜜCanal Mania CAN YOU HELP? Do you have any unwanted, natural fibre rope that you no longer need? If yes, Kelabu and Ratna would love to hear from you. Email: alicervassallo@hotmail.co.uk By phone: 01763 262226


Boatman's Holiday Thanks to Richard Bennett, Devizes Branch Volunteer

As volunteers on the public trip boats, many of us will

The following day we set off on the easy section to

be pretty familiar with “our patch” of the Kennet &

Bradford-on-Avon. At least we thought it would be

Avon Canal. But while my wife Rosie and I have

easy, but unfortunately the weather had other ideas,

walked sections of the tow-path and taken the odd boat

sending some torrential and persistent rain our way.

trip in other areas, we have not really seen that much

Whose idea was this holiday? A couple of us

of its 87 miles. Some of our fellow volunteers felt

reluctantly took the helm but nobody was willing to

much the same way, so when it was suggested we hire

take the blame. But having shown us that our

a narrow boat and head from Devizes to Bath it was

cagoules needed reproofing, the rain eventually

easy enough to get a “crew” together.

abated and after a quick change of clothing we had time for a wander around this lovely old town and a drink in one of its pubs before eating on board. The next day was showery but did not spoil our enjoyment of the section I had really been looking forward to, as the canal winds its way over the Avoncliff and Dundas aqueducts and through the Brass Knocker Basin all along the beautiful river valley between Bradford and Bath. And then the splendour of Bath itself as we navigated the locks including the second deepest in the country, watched by a number of tourists and a surprisingly relaxed heron, down to the river for a look at

Pulteney Bridge and the weir from an unfamiliar low level. “The Crew”

It was as we turned the boat in the river, wary of the

Allowing ourselves six days for the return journey (as

unfamiliar current, that the throttle handle decided

opposed to about an hour and a half for the round trip

to come off its splines. Our experienced helm was

by car) we set off from Foxhangers at the bottom of

able to push it back on before we got into any

the Caen Hill Locks so as not to have to spend the first

difficulty, but not in quite the right position,

and last hours of our trip negotiating the flight. After a

meaning limited throttle control until, having made

delayed handover we travelled the seven locks and

the turn, we had time to find the onboard toolkit and

four swing bridges to Semington before mooring up

refix it. We moored on the river, and the next day

for the night, and after a nice pub meal we turned in to

we went our different ways in Bath, shopping and

listen to the night sounds of the canal and countryside.

sightseeing and some of us meeting up with friends. I had returned to the boat and was just settling down


to a cuppa and a crossword when the tranquillity of the afternoon was broken by a shrill cry. “Help, there’s a woman in the river!” I looked out and there, not a

Re-introducing our French twinned canal

hundred yards from the boat, was a man holding on to a young woman as a couple of others ran to help and as if by magic three policemen suddenly appeared. She was pulled from the river and an ambulance was very quickly on the scene, and last we heard she was recovering in hospital. The river can be a dangerous

Mike Kelham a long-serving volunteer with the Trust at Bradford on Avon, and Dundas back in the days of Jubilee, recently holidayed on the Canal du Nivernais.

place! After another night on the river we made our journey back through the deep lock and headed east back towards Devizes. It was Saturday and the pumping station at Claverton would be open, so we stopped off for a tour. A very knowledgeable and enthusiastic young man showed us around this very interesting site. As we continued our journey the weather was fair, we heard a cuckoo, saw a pair of swans with eight (!)

cygnets, numerous herons, and the best view I have ever had of a kingfisher which obligingly posed on a branch as we chugged past. It was all that we had hoped for from the trip. We reluctantly handed the boat back after a very enjoyable break, and as we dispersed after breakfast there was only one question on our lips. How far can

Hearing Mike talk about the twinning of that Canal and the K&A and seeing some of Mike’s holiday photos (one above) prompted me to find out more. Di Harris tells us the background and brings us up to date….

we get in a week heading east from Devizes Wharf?

The twinning agreement between the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, France was signed on 12 April 1991, but the links between the two canals goes back to the restoration of the Bath flight of locks in the 1970s. Jo Parfitt was a young apprentice toolmaker in Enfield at that time and he visited Bath at weekends as a KACT volunteer. Indeed, he remained a lifelong member of KACT.

After moving to France to work he couldn’t fail to see the similarities between the K&A and the Nivernais but he also recognised that what the Nivernais lacked was an association through which enthusiasts could support the navigation. So in 1989, with a handful of friends, including his wife 13

at the time, he formed Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais. Looking to raise their profile, he proposed the twinning of the Nivernais with the K&A and Jo approached KACT Council Member, Mike Lee, who had a boat in France. The proposal was enthusiastically received by Trust Council. Although the canals themselves are twinned, the signatories to the twinning are KACT and ACN (Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais) as well as the respective navigation authorities – British Waterways as it was in 1991 and VNF (Voies Navigables de France).

Current officers of Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais, Guylaine Perrault, left, Secretary, Jean Marc Voyot, President and Muriel Chassagnette, Treasurer. Photo CAN

For two decades there were regular twinning events with each canal hosting events on alternate years. The organisation of these twinning events fell to the voluntary organisations with the VNF and local politicians providing strong support of all events in France. As the years passed, Mike Lee took a back seat and then Jo sadly died. Although there remain strong personal links and several KACT members visit the Nivernais and meet with Les Amis, there have been no formal twinning visits since 2009. This year has seen another change at Les Amis. Founder member Philippe Benard has stood down to spend more time with his grandchildren. But Mary Ranger, Jo’s ex-wife, has returned to take up the role of Vice President, whilst newly retired Jean Marc Voyot, who was previously the Canal Officer for the Yonne département, has taken over as President. Both Mary and Jean Marc are keen for the twinning to become active once again.

Gifts are exchanged at a reception at Baye on the summit of the Canal du Nivernais during a twinning in 2008. From left, Jean Louis Lebeau, Mayor of Chevroches, Olivier Georges, then President of Syndicat Mixte du Canal du Nivernais, Di Harris, the then Editor of The Butty and Jo Parfitt, then President of Les Amis du Canal du Nivernais. Photo: Bob Naylor: WaterMarx

Anyone wanting to get involved or know more about this twinning should contact Di Harris at di@diharris.co.uk or on 07711 367124. The Abbey of Saint-Germain in Auxerre, the northernmost city on the Canal du Nivernais Photo: Bob Naylor: WaterMarx

Photo submitted by Mike Kelham

A well-attended rally at ChâtelCensoir in July 2013 — with a Wilderness boat from the K&A Canal in the midst of the parade. Photo: Bob Naylor: Watermarx 14

With Thelma at the helm, The Admiral offers free fun and wellbeing Meet Thelma Edwards, volunteer greeter for the 5,000 visitors who step aboard The Admiral floating visitor centre each year. The shell of The Admiral, a wide beamed boat, was craned into the canal at Devizes Wharf in December 2015. After being kitted out by volunteers, it started operating as a visitor centre at Caen Hill in July 2016. “I love my role - it gives me a sense of purpose that gets me up every morning now that I’m retired. I meet people from all over the world and I enjoy watching their reactions when they look at the before and after photos of Caen Hill’s amazing restoration.” Part of Thelma’s role is to develop craft activities for children and display boards for the adults. “I used to promote oral health for the NHS, so understand how to create displays, learning programmes and resource packs. I link my displays to visitors’ frequently asked questions.” She also promotes the Trust’s national campaigns, such as the Plastics Challenge anti-litter campaign. As a Granny, Thelma knows that children enjoy interacting with things rather than being told about them. She’s created three waymarked trails with eight features to discover around the Trust’s adjacent Diamond Jubilee Wood; Thelma encourages children to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and learn about wildlife. Her craft activities are relevant to the family trail. “I’m a firm believer that giving ourselves time to just ‘be’ rather than constantly striving to ‘do’, is incredibly important for our wellbeing. Spending time by water definitely makes us happier and healthier.” In recognition of her tremendous efforts and enthusiasm, the Trust has awarded Thelma a gold badge for the 2,000 hours (250 working days) she’s given of her own time. Could you be a volunteer? Thelma could do with some help so if you enjoy talking to people and might like to become a greeter aboard The Admiral, please email steve.manzi@canalrivertrust.org.uk, or phone 07710 175278. For more information about other ways you can volunteer visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer

Susan Litherland, Canal & River Trust 15

Crofton’s Biggest Ever Summer Of Fun (and it’s not over yet!) Some 2019 event advertising

Wow! What an amazing summer season we have had at Crofton. The events and engineering teams have pulled off a spectacular set of events from Easter through to the end of September. Any of you who visited us this year will have had the very best of times - and if you could not visit then here is a flavour of what you missed. Of course, Crofton would not be Crofton without some engineering being carried out on our engines. Just before the start of the season our #1 engine got

a new throttle arm and inlet valve stem. Carefully tagged to mark them as replacement parts. The old parts are in an increasingly heavy heritage archive!

Terence Conran prize for furniture innovation. Jamie and Vincent keep the grounds neat and tidy for our visitors creating a great first impression. Jamie is also a keen archaeologist and played a key role by giving a talk along with other guests at our Archaeology Weekend . Science and James Watt was the theme of the May Bank Holiday steaming. With contributions from

the Institute of Physics and Badminton School Outreach Scheme we were treated to some really inspiring fun science to appeal to children of all ages.

Crofton is very proud of the range of talents that its volunteers can offer. Apart from endless cups of tea, Jamie Wright earns the We also had a visit from BBC Wiltshire Radio, the first of many throughout the year. Inspiring technology in the shape of a Connex beam engine appeared. Solar powered rather than steam but what great fun and originality. 16

The Tuesday crew room at lunch - drew crowds of knowledgeable They were a very interesting group more tea! When I went outside there visitors poring over the exhibits and were a few more but it’s like herding listening to the talks. cats and once they were fed they were off back to work. It’s not all work at Crofton. We are members of Visit Wiltshire and there is a reciprocal arrangement that allows Crofton ‘staff’ to visit their sites and learn from how they work. On a visit to the SS Great Britain

Catherine took the helm. Thankfully it is still in the magnificent dry dock! As part of our outreach programme we supported the Reading Branch at the Reading Waterfest. A great day out, the Crofton model beam engine

worked tirelessly fascinated crowds.



Meanwhile at Crofton we joined with our partners from the AtwellWilson Motor Museum in Calne to put on a show and lectures centred around heritage motorcycles. This

of people and very ‘hands on’ with their vehicles. The end of July brought the most spectacular show ever to Crofton. Together with Steamhenge from Salisbury we hosted a Steampunk weekend. Entertainment, exhibits, stalls and costumes featured large over the weekend. No room here to describe what the alternative universe of Steampunk is all about but if teapot racing, nerf guns and costumes seem like fun then this is for you.


Bank Holiday saw the

Makers and Crafters Fair. It was a great weekend and enjoyed by all our visitors. The traders were very happy with the opportunity to sell their Not to be unique goods and the engine house outdone some of was good and busy. the Crofton crew put in a lot of effort with their costumes.

Even our simple steaming weekend in mid August turned out to be special with a visit from a group of very early Landrover Defenders.

Above, we have some prototypes of the new information panels which our visitors are keenly reviewing.


A measure of the loyalty and dedication of our volunteers came to the fore during one of the hottest steaming weekends when there was a blockage in the waste pipe from the new toilet block. Despite the rising level of malodorous material in the manhole David Payne, who was only visiting at the time with his relatives and in his best shirt, got to work with drain rods to save the day. In recognition of services above and

beyond normal he was presented with the Order of the Golden Plunger by Terry Gray. Other notable events during the season included a visit from Madeleine and Howard Stride on their annual pilgrimage to Crofton. It is always a pleasure to see them and this time we got them to work driving our #1 engine!

Tom Alexander, our youngest volunteer, celebrated his 17th birthday with a cake and candles. He

demonstrated his boiler firing skills opportunity to get some eerie shots by blowing them out effortlessly. around the site. A photographers Some of our more senior volunteers delight. looked on in envy. Crofton has also been busy with a Catherine, Crofton Site Assistant number of off site talks and events extraordinaire, took the fashion which have been very successful with great attendance from people award during the Steampunk who might not visit Crofton but have weekend wearing a gorgeous gown a passion for other areas of life. Our record attendance will be over 230 people over two showings of ‘Secret Spitfires’. Keep a check on the Crofton website croftonbeamengines.org for details of our programme.

You will be seeing another logo associated with Crofton as we are now an accredited attraction under the Visit England made by Chris Morgan as a ‘bit of a scheme. Well done challenge’. Personally, I have trouble to all our staff and with sewing buttons. volunteers. Moving on to our final steaming of All of this programme could not this season sees Crofton Steaming have been achieved without the into the night. This is a very special help and enthusiasm of our volunteer and staff members. Well done to you all. We are currently working on our 2020 programme and in addition to our engineering volunteers we are looking for people to help with our event programme. If you would like to help with one or more of our exciting events in 2020 in any number of customer facing roles working with a great team please contact us through an email to: crofton.manager@katrust.org.uk David Throup


CHOCKS AWAY In the last edition of The Butty, we

moments as a loud ‘clunk’ noise

refit has been welcomed and we



came from under the boat. “What

have a much quieter, more reliable




was that?” A large piece of wood

and more efficient boat.

work was

floated to the surface. “Hmm –

completed just in time for the

must have hit something in the

And so to the next phase of

2019 season, without cancelling

water.” Then it happened again –

any trips. It was a tight squeeze as

and again – and again. Oddly, we

the work did overrun by quite a

realised that the wooden chocks

margin, but we got there in the

used in the dry dock to support

end. The boat now has a shiny

the boat (as the boat has a keel

(yes – it’s still shiny!) new Beta

and is not flat bottomed) had

60 engine AND new engine room

stuck to the underside of the boat

electrics. We have removed the

and were coming loose one at a

fresh-water cooling system and

time. We travelled along the

replaced it with sealed skin tanks,

canal leaving a ‘breadcrumb trail’

so crew now don’t need to clean

of wooden chocks behind us.

the cooling water filter before

Driving the boat has required

to spend more time on developing

some re-learning. Not only have

the requirements to reduce the

we had to learn the new engine

approval risks and keep within our

sounds and revs associated with

budget while still achieving our

different speeds but it now has a

main goals. Hence we now plan to

right-handed prop instead of the

carry out the work during the

It was with a huge sigh of relief



winter of 2020/2021. Instead, we

that we took the boat – complete

makes a difference mostly when

will put the boat into dry dock

with new Passenger Certificate –

reversing and this has taken quite

early in 2020 for some routine

out of the ABC boatyard at


maintenance work.

Hilperton. Then a few worried

Nevertheless, the whole engine

engine refit.



undergoing That

every trip. We have fitted a 3kW inverter




removing gas from the boat and using electricity to heat water for hot drinks.







refurbishment. When the previous article was written, the plan was to refurbish the interior during the 2019/2020 winter season.. We have been seeking a new design with a flat floor, movable seating and many other improvements. This has proved more complicated than




reasons, cost and the uncertainty about MCA’s likely approval. We have had to take the hard decision


And that is where we are at. We may have more to report in the next edition of The Butty. In the meantime,




magazine you will have read Mike Vanstone’s article about the model of the Barbara McLellan. Chris Churchouse Boat Manager, Bradford on Avon 19

Turf Siders In some ways the Kennet and Avon waterway is akin to the River Wey:


both are wide waterways, partly canal and canalised river and both have

misgivings expressed that the lock

turf sided locks. The Wey opened to Guildford in 1653 and the Kennet

was not quite long enough to take

to Newbury in 1723 according to Henry Rodolph de Salis aka Bradshaw

two narrow boats breasted up.

in his “A Chronology of Inland Navigation.”

This is in fact so, but to make the

The early Kennet turf-sided locks, could pass 120 ton boats from the

lock that bit longer would have

Thames to Newbury as they were 122 feet long and 19 feet wide (37.1856 metres long and 5.7912 metres wide). Burghfield Lock is on the River Kennet, five miles west of Reading. It was built to allow canal traffic to pass the mill situated close by, and was one of the turf-sided locks on the Kennet navigation. Over the years various repairs and reconstruction work were carried out,

and the effect was to narrow the waterway until finally it was only 13ft. 9in. wide. After through-navigation on the canal ceased the lock remained in working order although in poor condition. When “N.B. Enterprise” was running trips from Reading, passengers had to disembark while she was locking through owing to the risk of the gates collapsing, and grim notices were attached to the gates drawing attention to the risks involved. In 1965 the bottom gates collapsed and navigation through the lock ceased.




added very considerably to the cost. The occasions when two narrow boats arrived together at the lock would have been rare indeed, and this economy measure was thus justified. British Waterways invited tenders

for the work, and Messrs. A. E. Fair were successful in obtaining the




contract documents and technical supervision were carried out by Mr. B. Waters of the Southern Region Engineers staff. The dayto-day supervision of the job on

In 1964 the Trust offered to rebuild Sulhamstead Lock, the two

behalf of British Waterways was

intervening locks being in working order. This offer was accepted and

looked after by Section Inspector

the lock was rebuilt in 1965. The British Waterways Board then turned


their attention to Burghfield and prepared plans for its complete


rebuilding. It was felt that a partial rebuilding of the top and bottom

1968. They first carried out the

gate structures would be extremely difficult to carry out because of the

steel sheet piling of the sides of

existence of old underwater remains of some of the original piling and

the new lock, and then two ends,

other works. This would prevent the driving of sheet piling which

leaving the piles standing to

would be required to dam off the river water while repairs to the bottom

provide a cut off wall to keep the

cills were carried out. For the same reasons and also due to the

water out of the chamber. This

narrowness of the lock as mentioned previously, the idea of

was pumped out and the concrete

constructing a new lock inside the old, as at Sulhamstead was not

floor was placed. Fifty-nine tons

thought advisable. It was finally decided to build a lock very similar to

of sheet piling were driven, and

Sulhamstead immediately above the existing lock.

180 cu. yards of used. The timber 20


The work

contractor in


gates were made by British Waterways at their Devizes Workshops using their own labour, but they were fitted by the contractor. A revised type of paddle gear was supplied for the gates which is designed to make the operation easier. The contractor’s main difficulty in carrying out the work was the inaccessibility of the site. Virtually all the materials had to be brought up the canal by boat from Burghfield Bridge. The work was completed by June 1968, and once again the canal was open to the bottom of Tyle Mill Lock. The length from Reading to Tyle Mill was declared a Cruiseway under the 1968 Transport Act and as such must be kept open and in good repair by British Waterways. Burghfield Lock was officially re-opened by Sir Frank Brice on July 27th, 1968 when a convoy of boats sailed up to Tyle Mill for the first time for very many years. During the 1970’s there was much discussion in the Butty and throughout the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust as to the safety of using Turf sided locks, should they be restored, should they be replaced? British Waterways wanted to get rid of them but most KACT members wanted them restored to be a safe as possible. Some think the question is still valid today.

Monkey Marsh locks details being recorded before restoration it is now a listed structure and an ancient monument.

Aldermaston or Brewhouse Lock as a partial Turf sider in 1960.

Thanks to Elaine Kirby, Archive Administrator, who has compiled this article with information gathered from ‘Butties’ of the late 1960’s and other archived sources.

Steve Hooper sent in these recent photos of Garston Lock, with its turf sides. 21

COMMUNITY SPIRIT & SULIS “Community Spirit”. Community Spirit enables volunteers to access areas which would be too difficult for the larger wide beam

Sulis to get into, for activities such as litter




management. More excitingly, the boat has a drop bow, which is useful for

s u pp o rt i ng


d iv i n g

The volunteers in the Bath and

work by cleaning and applying 2-

operations for repairing lock paddles

Bristol area are going strong. The

pack protective paint to the historic

as she did earlier this year in

branch relaunched in 2012 as a small

19th century Arcamans crane, to

Widcombe. We can also operate in

group of KACT volunteers, but

preserve it for another 200 years.

separate locations when required.

through amalgamation with CRT

Numerous other projects continue

Towpath Taskforce we now number

involving many hours of hard work,

29. We meet every Tuesday and

to ensure the Wharf is preserved for

Thursday somewhere

the future.


Hanham Lock and Dundas Aqueduct and occasionally on other days of the week for special events with other clubs or societies (e.g. sailing,

rowing), community groups (e.g. litter picking) and corporate days (e.g. Lloyds Bank).

financed from a number of sources – The BANES Waterspace Partnership, BANES Community Infrastructure

There is a more itinerant group, led by Trevor Clark, which operates from boats along the waterway. Note the plural “boats"! This October marks the first anniversary of the official launch of the first BANES

The work boats are additionally


There is a dedicated group, led by

community workboat, when the

John Webb, meeting at Dundas

boat was christened “Sulis” with

Wharf, continuing a project going

ceremonial pouring of Bath Spring

back many years to enhance and

Water over the bow. Subsequently,

protect this important area. Some of

funds became available from the

you will recall that volunteers

BANES Waterspace project for a

restored the toll house and then

second smaller workboat. This is a

following wharf resurfacing, the

tough workman-like 5 metre tender

coveted Red Wheel was conferred.

with outboard motor, which has

This group has continued the good


been 22


Levy and K&A Canal Trust. These funds enable equipment to be purchased over and above that which CRT can normally provide such as a wood chipper, pole saws and tools for graffiti removal. Essential personal protection equipment is also purchased. Helmsmen and crew are trained and operate the boats in accordance with CRT’s




requirements. The work programme is jointly planned with BANES Waterspace and CRT.

This is a

unique volunteer situation for CRT and





reorganisation, there has been some

confusion and misunderstandings about the scope and aims of the volunteer group. However a recent meeting with CRT management at the Gloucester offices has clarified the working arrangements and CRT are interested in setting up a similar group in the Gloucester area. It is almost impossible to overstate the many achievements and projects completed by volunteers since the branch was reformed in 2012. It is a very long list and continues to grow. There is no doubt that the canal appreciated by visitors and local residents would be very different today without the ongoing commitment of local volunteers. BANES council have recognised, through the Waterspace Project, the importance of the River Avon passing through the city. They therefore wish to promote and support work to improve the waterway. An estimated 4,500 hours is contributed annually by local volunteers. In excess of 100 black bags of rubbish, 10 bicycles, 3 motorcycles, sections of metal fence and countless shopping trolleys have been removed from the river. CRT has recently launched their Plastic Challenge and this has become a focus for the Bath volunteers. Any bit of plastic waste in our local waterway had better look out! David Fearns: Chairman Bath & Bristol Branch

Volunteers Old and New 30 Years since the formation of the Bruce Trust On 19th May the Bruce Branch celebrated 30 years since the forming of the Bruce Trust and Lady Hilda, like the other boats, was blessed by Rev Mike Shaw in the presence of day one volunteers, the Bruce family, and those of us who had started volunteering right up to this year. We enjoyed our picnics in the village hall with the Marlborough Accordion Orchestra playing for us, which included our own Ann Cook. Alec also took to the stage in between to provide some of his own foot tapping music. We all went to the wharf for the blessing by Mike and a talk by David Bruce who very nearly kept to the script and to time. A first we all thought! It was great to see those who started out on the Bruce Boats journey 30 years ago and to share stories and show what changes and updates have been made. We will look to hold another such event as this one was a great success. 2020 is the 30-year anniversary for the first hirer group setting off on Rebecca and we are thinking about how we will celebrate this great moment, so if you missed the last picnic, there may be another chance! Paul Eames: Bruce Branch Chairman 23

THE ROSE OF HUNGERFORD Sarah Warburton writes about a busy summer season

outside. Whatever their choice, we appreciate every one of them and thank them for their time and effort and their company.

It is a record breaking, hot sunny day as I write this and ironically one of my next tasks is the Father Christmas trip leaflets. It is testament to the confidence we have in The Rose’s popularity and the rolling routine that runs from year to year. We are confident, but never complacent, and are always on the lookout for new ideas to attract passengers and volunteers. The routine may be the same but each trip is different. Crew members and passengers change, trips vary in length and destination, event and catering choices are many and time of day, weather and seasonal surroundings all vary. However, many things don’t change which are important to the ethos of The Rose; the main one of which is teamwork. We are lucky enough to have a superb team of enthusiastic volunteers who genuinely enjoy their work. Some do more than one role, some stick to one task; some prefer to work behind the scenes, others enjoy working ‘front of house’ on the boat; some prefer inside roles, some like to be

The crew get together for social events three times a year. These are good fun and give an opportunity to welcome and get to know new recruits. Longerstanding volunteers can catch up with colleagues and we can thank ‘other halves’ for their support. These social events play a major part in creating the integrated team of volunteers The Rose is lucky enough to have. In March we enjoyed a very good dinner at The Queen’s Arms, East Garston and in July we had an afternoon party at a lodge on the banks of the River Kennet. Whether sitting on the shady verandah, soaking up the sunshine or sitting under huge oak trees by the sparkling river we all had a lovely time including some very tactical croquet. Dedication is another important factor. Many of our volunteers have been with The Rose for many years and at last year’s AGM, the Hungerford Branch Chairman, Ceri Hanlon, made presentations to Mary Wall, Graham Horn, Graham Hawkes, Richard Snook and Diana Wheatley in recognition of their support. Diana will continue to crew and to organise and wrap the Father Christmas gifts, but we welcome Gill Hanlon who 24

has kindly taken over stocking the Bar and Galley. The search for new volunteers is essential and ongoing and we were very pleased that our recent publicity drive led to the recruitment of 26 new crew members over the last year, including four newly-qualified helms. We are very grateful to the team for ensuring that we have been able to provide full crews for all our trips this year. There can be a problem finding enough time to train the new recruits, and also time when the boat is free. Helm training, crew training and annual EST take a considerable amount of time and effort and the volunteers would like to thank Ceri, Mike and Tony for their help in this respect. We renamed the role of Galley this season; now called Inside Crew to show the importance of the role. It's not just a question of serving teas, coffees and drinks. The role of looking after passengers is an important one, especially if the Boat Master is busy doing something else. The safety, comfort and care of our passengers is the most important consideration. This is something that comes up repeatedly in our reviews. Passengers often comment on the warm welcome, knowledge and efficiency of the crew and we are very grateful for all the very generous feedback that we receive. We continue to attract a number of return charter bookings

as well as return passengers on public trips which is very rewarding. The ever popular Cream Tea Trips

have been sold out once again and we have had a wide variety of private charters. Our passengers have ranged from 8 to 80 years old proving that it really is an allage attraction. We have had ukeleles, a harpist and a rock guitarist playing on board, and one of our crew members plays in a ceilidh band; just some of the musical options available for potential charters. The children’s activity sheets have proved popular and the Passenger Information booklets are now for on sale onboard. There are ‘boat copies’ on each table to be read during a trip but we ask that these are left for future passengers. The idea of having new copies for sale is in an effort to stop the table copies disappearing!

a large catchment area and we also welcome passengers from all over the country and overseas. Our followers on social media come from far and wide and many of them travel a long way to come on The Rose, often tying their visit in with other attractions in the area, such as Crofton and other sites in The Great West Way Project. Ceri and I have done some more radio and podcast interviews which are helpful in spreading the word about what The Rose does. They also publicise the need for new volunteers and tell listeners more about what crewing involves. We have had articles printed in Canal Boating Times, the Hungerford and Marlborough Adviser, Towpath Talk and Round and About. The Rose was accepted as part of the West Berkshire Lottery which at present is estimated to raise about £520 for the KACT this year. The more tickets bought the more we raise as well as giving the purchaser the chance to win £25,000 for a £1 ticket. Several of The Rose ticket holders have already won but have requested that their names remain anonymous. It has been a good season for The Rose and her crew. Passenger

The Rose is a very visible part of Hungerford life and plays an important part in attracting visitors to the town. We look forward to working further with local organisations to promote all that Hungerford has to offer. Being located where we are on the borders of West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire we are lucky to have 25

numbers are well up on last year, and the amount we receive in donations at the end of trips is as encouraging as ever and a tremendous compliment to our crew. These donations, which are free of VAT, are very important and account for a sizeable part (about 10%) of the funds raised by The Rose for the KACT, which are in the region of about £40,000 a year.

As I said at the beginning we are not complacent, and there is always room for improvement. Modern technology plays an important part in our lives, and the internet and social media are very efficient tools for promotion, but as Tom Rolt said in his renowned book ‘Narrow Boat’ … “To step down from some busy thoroughfare on to the quiet towpath of a canal, even in the heart of a town, is to step backward a hundred years or more and to see things in a different, and perhaps more balanced perspective. The rush of traffic on the road above seems to become the purposeless scurrying of an overturned anthill beside the unruffled calm of water, which even the slow passage of the boats does not disturb.” Long may it last.

DEVIZES DOIN’S It’s been a busy year so far for the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust volunteers, who have spent their time calmly and quietly just getting on with things. The year in Devizes started with preparing the boat for the MCA inspection in February and we were introduced to the Great West Way. This is an initiative to encourage foreign visitors to the country to interrupt their rush between Bristol and the Capital to enjoy the pleasures straddled either side of the A4 trunk road. After “Essential Safety Training” in February and March, the season started early for the volunteers. We had a charter in the middle of March, two weeks before the usual season opener of a Mothering Sunday afternoon tea trip, and well before the first public trip on 6th April. So much for a quiet winter! Patrick Titman’s Boatmaster training continued in April, with practical experience on the Kenavon Venture supported by KV volunteers, resulting in two more very well qualified Boatmasters for the Trust’s fleet. In June, the Branch took a stand at the Well Being Day organised by the Devizes Rotary Club. It was a foul and wet day but a stalwart band of volunteers persevered and welcomed several brave visitors,

some of whom expressed an interest in crewing on the boat.

At the beginning of July, the Branch set up a bar at the Devizes Beer Festival and volunteers sold wine, soft drinks, tea and coffee to visitors seeking an alternative to craft beer. Jean Smith did not lose the opportunity to set up a successful tombola stall. Sharmain Washbourne writes, on page 23, about the first trip crewed entirely by the ladies, and it reminds me of an enquiry from a gentleman at the end of a very pleasant music cruise recently. He couldn’t believe that the boat had in fact been very smoothly helmed and “docked” in the dark , without even a nudge by a very competent lady helm and crew, nor that I was the only male crew on board that evening. I don’t think he had been paying attention when I introduced the crew at the start of the trip! With no sign that the season is



drawing to a quiet close and charter bookings putting a strain on available crews, the Branch volunteers found the time and energy to put on their annual evening of Music by the Canal at the end of August. This year, the weather was perfect and the crowd, larger and more enthusiastic than usual, enjoyed music and Morris dancing and nearly drank the bar dry. The faces of the volunteers crewing the next day’s trips said all that needed to be said about the hard work that went into setting up and then dismantling the event.

It’s probably wishful thinking to hope for quieter times as the year draws to a close, especially as requests for charters are creeping into the closed season, but the Branch has a fantastic band of volunteers who will not let down the public who want to enjoy our canal. Simon Eveleigh

Chairman Devizes Branch

An Auspicious Day The day dawned bright, warm and NOT windy on Sunday 28th July. This was to be the day that the Kenavon Venture was delivered into the more than capable hands of an all lady crew, the first time in her history apparently. There were a few gentle digs from certain male volunteers but on the whole we had a lot of support. “Yours truly” was on the helm and I was very happy that the weather was being kind. Needless to say, the trip went brilliantly and all of us were thrilled to bits to be the first all lady crew. We had a full boat of passengers and we decided not to tell them about the “secret” until safely back at the wharf. They were all duly impressed. Thanks to Nikki our very able skipper and Carolyn and Rosie for making our “Maiden” voyage such a success and to our boat manager Simon, for allowing us to go and play on the KV in the first place. Here’s to many more of the same. Happy boating one and all! Sharmain Washbourne Devizes Branch

KV GIRL POWER! Carolyn, Rosie, Nikki and Sharmain.


Waltzing matilda The Reading Branch has had some changes in the last few months. David Copley has been the chairman for the past ten years. David decided to step down at our AGM and I have the huge task of following in his footsteps. I would personally like to thank Dave for the time and sterling effort he has put in on behalf of the Branch. Dave was one of the team of enthusiasts who got their hands dirty digging and clearing the near -derelict canal, bringing it back into use some 30 years ago. David has steered, introduced and guided me into the KACT organisation. Luckily for the Trust and myself, David is still on the Trust Council and has agreed to stand in the branch as Vice Chair. Branch Activity The Branch holds regular meetings between September and May where we have speakers presenting canal topics. This coming year includes “An appreciation of the wildlife of the eastern end of the Kennet”; “The History, Progress & Restoration of the Somerset Coal Canal” (see Branch pages on the web site for full details). On the 11th August, the Branch summer outing took us to the Wey and Arun Canal and the electric powered boat at Loxwood. An enjoyable time was had by all with lunch provided at the Onslow Arms next to the Loxwood Canal Centre and the boats mooring. One of the more “off the wall” fund raising activities has been for

Andy James (Branch Treasurer) to collect and convert aluminium cans for cash. This has produced the spectacle of bags of cans being handed over at the monthly meetings. From small numbers of members collecting cans, this has now spread to local shops and cafes collecting on our behalf. Trip Boat Matilda

activity. The boat is operating near Reading Abbey, so “Matilda” has some meaningful historical connections locally. Conversations about Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” along with “Matilda” from Robot Wars prove to be both frequent and illuminating! Waltzing Matilda?........... well, she glides gracefully across the water!

In the 1970’s, at the formation of the K&A Canal Trust, a trip boat called “Enterprise” was used to capture the interest of the general public. Support was also generated from the folk inspired by LTC Rolt’s book “Narrowboat” and concerned about the threatened abandonment of the Kennet and Avon Canal. The Reading Branch has been working to reintroduce a trip boat into Reading. This has been a long and trying exercise. We found a boat thanks to Tim Pyatt at Oxfordshire Narrowboats and brought her back to Reading in time for a cameo role at the Waterfest. At the Branch meeting in May, we held a ballot to choose a name for the boat. Matilda was chosen after several rounds of voting and discussion. Why Matilda? Matilda was the Daughter of Henry I and mother of Henry II. The three had a huge impact on the building of Reading Abbey, in its day the largest building in Europe and now as the Abbey Ruins, Readings centre of tourist 28

Matilda through the Oracle

The Reading Boat provides a short trip through the centre of Reading and the historic Abbey Quarter. Reading Borough Council have designated the Abbey Quarter, including the Abbey ruins reopened last year, as their key to the “Great West Way”. This is a new 125 mile touring route between London and Bristol, based on ancient routes that include the Kennet and Avon Canal. The KACT is, of course, an ambassador for the #GREATWESTWAY initiative. We have had a route map produced by Dru Marland, an artist living on a boat and known

for her illustrated maps of the West and East end of the K&A (available from Devizes tea shop among other places).

Dru’s map

Securing a Licence for the boat has been an experience. We needed a Business Licence, that covers both the CRT and the EA (Thames) Water. CRT has a new process and unbeknown to us, the K&A is considered as an SSSI. This meant obtaining confirmation from Natural England (formally English Nature) that we do not impact negatively on any registered SSSI site. We discovered that the closest point to a designated SSSI is the entrance to the Kennet river at the tail of the Woolhampton Lock. This cleared our application and it only took two months to get the Licence in place!

We have consulted the other KACT boat managers and have used documents and borrowed ideas from a number of boat managers. So thanks to Julian, Chris and Simon. The last hurdle was a sign off from the Trusts H&S expert. This was achieved, having discussed our plans, processes & procedures with Sue Kearney and finishing with a demonstration trip around the course. Sue made some suggestions which will improve our operation and the discussion certainly helped us think about all the aspects of running the boat.

On the 1st of July, we had our first passenger runs. Just a soft start, no great advertising and only a few runs to prove our methods. This all went well. The following week end we had been asked to bring “Matilda” to the Aldermaston and Washing Produce Show at Aldermaston Mill. We ran eight 20 minute trips on the day with an average of 11 passengers per trip (she has a maximum of 12 passengers). We took a good sum in donations! John and Pam Swift held court in a gazebo in the main area and directed visitors to “Matilda”, where Keith, Matt and Peter welcomed them on board and conducted a short but interesting tour. The highlight was probably seeing a kingfisher leading the boat down the water for a short time.

The top prize this year was donated by ABC Boats at Aldermaston. The lucky winner can explore the K&A for a day on one of their day boats. The best presented Boat and Crew received a magnum of wine each, courtesy of Bel and the Dragon Restaurant. Aldermaston Canal building In agreeing with the CRT an extension to the arrangements of the Aldermaston Tea Rooms, the K&A Canal Trust has agreed to pay for a substantial refurbishment of the small brick building in front of the tea rooms that many of you will be familiar with. This is a building that is believed to be even older than the 18th century building that houses the Tea Rooms. Its exact use and purpose are unclear. It could have been used as a toll house, a wash house or even a community bakery. We are at the beginning of this adventure of discovery and hope that in restoring the building we will find out some of its history.

Aldermaston passengers

Our first full weekend run of trips, coincided with the Reading Town Meal and the Reading on Thames Festival. We have used the Daniel Defoe quote of 1724 “Reading lies on the Kennet but so near the Thames” as a motto. “Waterfest” opened with a boaters evening on the Friday night with music from “Dolly and the Clothes Pegs” and culminated with the traditional duck race at the end of the day on Saturday. 29

Aldermaston Toll-Wash House

We hope to set up the toll/wash house/bakery as an information centre for the K&A, helping to make the Tea Rooms a popular location both along the K&A Canal and #GREATWESTWAY. Graham Puddephatt: Chair,Reading Branch Photos: Matt Girling/Tony Girling

Bridging the gap I will always remember the fateful

privilege to be taken in as part of

day when a representative from

a diverse, knowledgeable and

the Bruce Branch, wandered into

dedicated family. Each season

the Great Bedwyn Youth Club. At

and even each week has seen

that point I could have barely told

multiple lessons being learnt,

you where the wharf was, let alone

skills being shared and a motley

what happened there. Little did I

crew getting their job done.

know or understand the depth and

I fear I may be chastised for

importance of the work being undertaken!

divulging any numbers, but it would be fair to say that working with a team containing both the

Volunteer cleaners taking a bow

youthful enthusiasm of teenagers and the stoic determination and

heart of those perhaps a little longer in the tooth is a valuable experience for all concerned. Better yet the difference we make; our work to the people that hire our boats is precious and immeasurable. Shelley with Harri, getting the job done

All of this from a few hours a

At first, taking a group of young

week, as often as you can spare!

people to the wharf for their Duke

Volunteering with the Bruce



Branch is thus rewarding, simple

provided great amusement. The

and a great honour – making a

quizzical expression of a young

huge difference to our own and

man first discovering that a tea

the wider community along the

towel and a dish cloth are in fact






Tea break


items, shall see me smiling for the

Thanks to Shelley, Bruce Branch

rest of my days. That being said, following three seasons and countless turnarounds, so much more than amusement has been




volunteer for sharing what it is

The start of another weeks

like to be a young volunteer with

brilliant holiday

the KACT.

been a 30

The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Notice of AGM 2020 SAVE THE DATE! The 58th Annual General Meeting of The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust will be held at the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, Couch Lane, Devizes, SN10 1EB on Saturday 16th May 2020, commencing at 10.30 a.m.

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED JOINING THE KENNET AND AVON CANAL TRUST? Members receive The Butty twice per year together with free access to both the Trust Museum in Devizes and to Crofton. Why not join us as a volunteer on one of our boats, welcoming passengers on board, serving refreshments or helping with the many “boat” tasks? There are other volunteering opportunities too. Take a look at our website: https://katrust.org.uk and call the KACT office on 01380 721279 for more information. Photos: Simon Eveleigh/David Throup/Lesley Hooper


Keeping Crofton 32 looking good

Profile for K&A Trust

The Butty - Autumn 2019  

The members magazine of The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust

The Butty - Autumn 2019  

The members magazine of The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust

Profile for thebutty