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1 to attempt (eg the fulfilment of an obligation) by exertion of effort; 2 archaic to strive to achieve or reach ~ vi to make an effort to do something n a serious determined effort

Northampton Branch Newsletter - November 2011

TEMPERATURES SOAR AS STOKE BRUERNE GOES BACK 70 YEARS Village plays host to 40s re-enactors

Thousands of visitors flocked to Stoke Bruerne‘s annual Village at War event in record breaking temperatures over the weekend of 1-2 October to enjoy the popular 40s spectacle organised by The Friends of the Canal Museum and villagers. The event, which is now in its fourth year and has won many awards and accolades, was bigger and better than ever. Continued on page 16 The IWA was founded in 1946 to campaign for the retention, restoration and development of Britain’s navigable waterways and for their fullest commercial and recreational use. The IWA is a registered Charity (no. 212342) , whose work is supported by members’ subscriptions.


AA unique opportunity to experience the delicate flavours of Indian cuisine at its best!





EDITORIAL MUSINGS Winter cruising has its own special charms — morning mists, lovely autumn colours lasting into the colder months and, above all, the peace and quiet of it all. There are seldom queues at locks; sometimes you don't even see another boat on the move. Then there is the glowing fire to keep you warm in the evenings. Linda and I have had several good times cruising in the winter, especially over the New Year period following the hustle and bustle of Christmas. It‘s just nice to get away from ―civilisation‖ and if you plan it right you can watch the New Year fireworks all around you from your boat for free. Quite frankly, it‘s all about relaxing before having to return to work (for those of us who have to work that is!). Yes, cruising in winter is different, and yes, it can be cold, but just put on that extra jumper and an extra pair of socks! After all, we all keep cruising in the rain in the summer by putting on a waterproof to keep dry. Just make sure that you know about the winter closures so that you don't get stranded by locks being shut and obviously, stay alert for weather forecasts warning of frost. The last thing you want is to be stranded miles from your home mooring — especially if your holding tank is rising to an embarrassing level… So looking towards 2012, what a momentous year it promises to be with the launching of the new Canal and River Trust. To my mind, the portents look promising. I know that potentially much can go wrong — some of it probably will — but we must remain optimistic that teething troubles will be kept to a minimum. Of course the main obstacle, as in so many instances, revolves around money. But if we all pull together, I honestly do believe we can have a success on our hands.

REGIONAL NEWSLETTER ON-LINE Members are reminded that Aegre, the East Midlands Region newsletter which features information about all the Branches in the Region, including Northampton, is available (in full colour) to read on-line on the IWA website at: aegre_online Or just go to and follow the links to Regions & Branches, then East Midlands




1st BW are planning a clean-up at Welford, details see page 23. 8th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Speaker: Richard Thomas — “A day in the life of a Thames tug”. 10th from 5pm Illuminated Boats and Carols, a magical celebration of Christmas on the canal at Stoke Bruerne. Sing along to Christmas carols with the children from village’s C. of E. Primary School.


10th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Speaker: John Pomfret —”Waterways of Bohemia and Central Germany”. 23rd 7.45 IWA Milton Keynes Branch meeting at the Pavilion Community Sports Club, Worelle Ave, Middleton, MK MK10 9AD off Tongwell Street A4146 (V11) (Rodney Evans 01908 376449). “Scottish Puffers and the PS Waverley”, with John Toy, authority on working boats. 28th 7.15 Buckingham Canal Society AGM at Buckingham Community Centre.


14th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Speaker: to be announced. 27th 7.45 IWA MK Branch AGM as above plus “MK Confidential”, episodes from the history of MK Branch with Les Franklin.

Buckingham Canal Society Work Party Dates December 1st, 4th, 15th January 5th, 8th, 19th February 2nd, 5th, 17th For further details, please contact Athina Beckett on 01908 661217



Branch Chairman’s Jottings by Bernard Morton It doesn‘t seem five minutes since I wrote my last Chairman‘s Jottings, but here we are, mid November already, which means we are well into the planning of events for 2012 with our annual Boat Gathering at the top of the agenda. Brief advance details appear elsewhere in this Endeavour and entry forms will be included with the next issue, but meantime please make a note of the dates – the early May Bank Holiday Weekend, Friday 4th to Monday 7th of May - and resolve your utmost to be there. Mick Butler has taken over from John Pomfret as Chairman of the Gathering Committee. This was one post too far for me to return to this year, as for my sins I have just begun a two-year stint as Commodore of the Thrapston-based Middle Nene Cruising Club. What with busy times in the day job, one can sometimes feel overloaded! Please give Mick all your support. He is a great enthusiast, leading by example and never afraid to get his hands dirty. For the record, he is now also very much involved with the Canal Museum‘s Village at War weekend at Stoke Bruerne. The fact that I am still your Branch Chairman is indicative of the fact that we urgently need more bodies to join the main Branch Committee. Presently our numbers are sorely depleted. Thus, if you are so-minded to join our ranks, please contact me and I will let you have more details of how you can help. Encouraging features of the autumn period so far have been the increased attendances at our social evenings, in particular the October get-together when David Blagrove gave one of his fascinating illustrated talks, this one on the K & A Canal, embracing revealing descriptions of his links with the canal when he lived at Reading in his younger days. The audience included members of the Friends of the Canal Museum, whose monthly meetings have now been amalgamated with ours. A warm welcome to our new ―friends‖. We have also adopted a more friendly seating lay-out for these meetings. Instead of the usual rows of chairs, tables have been placed informally with chairs around them to encourage a more sociable ambience. It appears to be a well accepted idea. Also, the attendance at the Branch Annual Dinner at the Heart of England Hotel at Weedon was double that of the 2010 occasion. Was it because of the change in venue, a more flexible and slightly less expensive menu on offer – I don‘t know, but it seemed to work and thanks to all of you attending for your support. Report elsewhere in Endeavour.

7 In October, I attended an East Midlands Regional Meeting at Langley Mill, headquarters of the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association. The main thrust coming out of this meeting was the need for volunteers willing to join ―local boards‖ to advise and influence the management of canals when the new Canal and River Trust organisation gets underway in April. Again, please get in touch with me if you are interested in an involvement. Meanwhile, our congratulations must go to Roger Hasdell, who has been awarded a Richard Bird Medal by the Association this year, as reported elsewhere in this Endeavour. Roger joined IWA in 1970 and immediately set to work using his professional skills as a journalist to assist the team organising the highly successful 1971 National Rally of Boats at Northampton. I understand the publicity generated, particularly at local level, was immense, including a visit from the first BBC local radio station based at Oxford. He also edited the Rally brochure – a 76-page affair which I don‘t think has been exceeded in size since. I suppose it is not surprising then that he moved on to edit for 17 years the IWA‘s national magazine, in those days known as The Bulletin, later to be transformed into a larger publication with a name change to Waterways and, in due course, a front cover picture in colour. Quite a breakthrough in those days! In the mid 2000s, he succeeded Lynda Payton as editor of our prize-winning Branch magazine, Endeavour, which is still financially self-supporting largely due to the high level of advertising Roger was (and still is) able to elicit. There are also surplus funds available from the advertising income which allows the Branch more scope in making donations to various waterways causes and projects. By his own admission as being not in the least mechanically minded, Roger nevertheless understands sail and keeps his hand in by helping with Northampton Sailability, the charity providing opportunities for disabled people to sail. He does this at Pitsford Reservoir, headquarters of Northampton Sailing Club of which he was a founder member in 1956. I know that if he was offered an exotic holiday or a week‘s sailing on the Norfolk Broads, the exotic holiday wouldn‘t stand a chance. Thanks, Roger, for your efforts over the years and may you be around for many more, still undertaking the odd job or two. Among his current duties are those as Branch Archivist, so if you have any material you feel should be kept, you know where to send it – to join all the rest of the historical stuff in cardboard boxes testing the strength of Roger‘s attic joists. This about wraps it up until the next time. My sincere Season‘s Greetings to you all. Keep cruising and keep the waterways alive during the winter months if you can. If not, ensure your stationary boats are properly winterised and check them out from time to time. You don‘t want to find too many nasties awaiting you in the spring!


IT WILL SOON BE THE TIME FOR US TO GATHER AGAIN IN BECKET’S PARK The early May Bank Holiday is again, as always, the time of the 2012 annual Branch Boat Gathering in Northampton‘s Becket‘s Park. The dates are Friday through to Monday May 4,5,6,7. So do please note these in your diaries and make every effort to come along, not necessarily by boat. The organising committee, under the new leadership of Michael Butler, is already hard at work setting up the event, which essentially will be a return to ―normal service‖ after 2011when the Gathering was upgraded to National Campaign Festival status. The programme is being tweaked. For example the popular Friday ―meet and greet‖ get-together will have more variety whilst maintaining the overall ―fun‖ theme. Reports from the organisers indicate that if one thing doesn't work, another one will be wheeled out, all of which will be preceded by a barbeque. Sounds interesting. Saturday, of course, will be the usual musical evening and Sunday the ―Quiz Night‖. There will also be the regular boaters‘ events over the weekend, including the Westbridge Arm Challenge and the Boat Handling competition plus, as usual, the Real Ale Bar will be on tap More details in the next Endeavour with a booking form for you to confirm your attendance.

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Photographic Competition Once more, Steve Skears, who runs Skears Photographic in Wellingborough Road, Northampton, has generously agreed to sponsor the Photographic Competition at the Boat Gathering. To encourage more entries, the 2012 competition carries the theme “Waterways Throughout the Year”, which gives you enormous scope to scroll through the images you already have on file as well as taking new pictures between now and the Gathering date, when you simply bring your prints along to be judged. Early days yet, but there is the possibility that if enough prints are entered and are of a sufficiently high standard, the publication of a Branch calendar may be considered.

Presentation of Boat Festival funds Northampton Branch Chairman Bernard Morton (right) presents a cheque to Dan Read from the St John Ambulance’s boat Crusader, which is based at Becket’s Park. Crusader was the popular trip boat at the 2011 Campaign Festival over the early May Bank Holiday, providing free trips along the River Nene during the entire weekend. We hope to welcome Crusader again at our 2012 Gathering.


RICHARD BIRD MEDAL FOR ROGER HASDELL Branch member Roger Hasdell was among several recipients this year to receive a Richard Bird Medal recognising their notable contributions to the IWA‘s campaign and allied activities over many years. Below, Roger (right) is pictured being presented with his Medal by IWA East Midlands Region Chairman John Pomfret at the Branch Annual Dinner in November. Normally such awards are handed over at the Association‘s AGM but Roger was unable to attend this as on that day he was engaged on alternative waterways activity wearing one of his other hats – namely, as a member of The Arthur Ransome Society (Swallows and Amazons and all that ...), otherwise known as TARS. On this occasion he was leading a group of TARS on a canal day at Stoke Bruerne. The group met at Bottom Lock where Roger briefly outlined the history of the canal in this area and the working of locks before the party, either afloat or ashore, travelled to the Top Lock. Here they enjoyed a picnic on the Museum Green, after which they had a look at the tunnel mouth and learned about the tunnel‘s construction and subsequent major repairs in the early 1970s. Endeavour editor Tony Clarke and his partner Linda generously gave up their Saturday and contributed greatly to the huge success of the ―expedition‖ by bringing along their boat, thus allowing several TARS first-hand experience of passing through a flight of locks. If there are any Arthur Ransome enthusiasts out there who would like to get involved in the activities of the Society, Roger would be please to provide more information on 01604 767212 or try or email

11 Roger started canal boating in 1964 as an alternative to racing sailing dinghies, finding it facilitated a more family – orientated activity! He joined the IWA in 1970 and was one of the organisers of the IWA National Rally at Northampton in 1971 before becoming editor of Waterways (then The Bulletin), the Association‘s national magazine for 17 years to 1989, for which he received The Cyril Styring trophy, the IWA‘s most prestigious trophy. He largely retired from the waterways scene in the 1990s owing to family illness before returning to a more active role at local level in 2000. The medal was given in recognition of his long and sustained service to the IWA. Roger is pictured here briefing Arthur Ransome Society members at Stoke Bruerne Bottom Lock. Ransome never based any of his stories around the canals but had he kept on writing the Swallows and Amazons series, surely this would have happened. Two of his stories are based on the Norfolk Broads.

MU SE UM SO IREE About sixty people attended a social evening at the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum on 19th November, hosted by the Friends of the Canal Museum, writes Friends Chairman David Blagrove. The aim of the evening was initially to thank both members and nonmembers who have assisted the Friends with their various activities over recent times, thus helping to stabilise the Museum‘s finances and to secure its future. Among the guests was Neil Owen, the Regional Engineer for British Waterways, who briefly outlined the role that volunteers were likely to play within the framework of the forthcoming Canal and River Trust. Once the Trust is formed the existing Waterways Trust, the body that is responsible for Museums among other matters, will become subsumed within the new organisation and will effec-

tively become a division of the Canal and River Trust. Since 1999 the Museum has been separated from BW, who initially inaugurated it in 1963, and in some ways this has not always been beneficial. Once the changeover is effected there are likely to be numerous ways in which voluntary efforts may be channelled. Neil outlined a number of ways that willing hands will be able to assist in keeping the waterways in good condition, and these do not mean that the trained professional staff will find their jobs threatened. Finally Neil told the guests that, far from creating a climate of financial uncertainty, the imminent changeover has already helped the engineering staff to plan several years ahead rather than to be constrained by an uncertain annual budget. This can only benefit the system. Within the Museum much excellent work has already been done by volunteers in conservation, maintenance and refurbishment.

12 BRANCH COMMITTEE MEETINGS REVIEW September Correspondence Jim Shead has invited Branches to put forward “Achievements” for inclusion in Waterways magazine. Several possible subjects were suggested.

Treasurer’s Report

It was reported that the Branch’s £2K donation to the Inglesham Lock Appeal was still to be forwarded. The treasurer would check with IWA Head Office as to how this should be done.

Branch Meetings

The results of the membership survey were discussed at length. The number of responses was disappointing. Some responses indicated lack of time, distance and other commitments. Others were unfriendly and unwelcoming. All opinions were acknowledged by the committee and changes, where possible at a local level, will be implemented. For example, at Branch social evenings a new layout will be trialled with small tables instead of lecture style rows. (Now in operation and seemingly a


Branch Dinner In the absence of any feedback on this year’s Branch Dinner, it was agreed to move away from half-term to Saturday 12th November at the Heart of England Hotel at Weedon, giving a choice of 2 or 3 courses.


Developers have submitted plans for development near to the crane at lock 17 on the Northampton Arm at Far Cotton. The Branch will urge that full consideration of the crane’s historic siting should be taken into account.

Reports from Local Societies

It was noted that there had been discussions relating to the forthcoming changes to BW in April 2012 and how these will affect the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne and the role of volunteers in the new set-up.

Any Other Business

Tony Clarke reported that Roger Hasdell is to receive the Richard Bird Medal for his outstanding contribution to IWA. This is due to be presented at the AGM but Roger is unable to attend this as he has a prior

13 October Matters Arising It was agreed that new members are urgently needed on the Branch committee. Presently the committee is only 8 strong with 4 vacancies. Correspondence Eric Young reported that the Stroudwater Canal was on the short list for a £100,000 grant for a hydro-electric turbine at Dudbridge Locks and votes in support of this bid were required via a web site. Branch Meetings It was noted that Mick and Catriona Butler will organise a quiz after the Branch AGM in March instead of their customary pre-Christmas December engagement. Branch Dinner It was decided that a raffle will be the only fund-raiser and members will be asked to give generously. Website The Branch’s website has been updated and old items removed. Details of the Branch Dinner will be uploaded as soon as available. IWA Head Office have a training course on website management and it is planned that committee members will attend if possible. Boat Gathering First meeting will be held 10th October. New members for the sub committee are urgently needed. Planning Nothing further has been heard about plans for a new house fronting onto the canal at Blisworth, or the development by Lock 17 on the Northampton Arm Reports from Local Societies and Partnerships Buckingham Canal Society reported encouraging news revealing that the section towards the A5 is to be re-watered during autumn/winter 2011/12. Friends of the Canal Museum noted the blacksmith was now installed and working in the old building by the tunnel entrance. (See page 26). Any Other Business An illuminated boat parade celebrating the opening of the Iron Trunk Aqueduct has been publicised, date not known at this time. This should be included in the next Endeavour.

14 November Matters Arising The transfer of £2000 to the Inglesham Lock Appeal has now been paid. It was intimated that the Iron Trunk illuminated boat parade will probably not take place until after Christmas due to stoppages.


A letter of thanks has been received from the St John Ambulance Crusader personnel acknowledging the donation from the Campaign Festival.

Branch Dinner

It was reported 52 people have booked for the dinner with 1 more possible, almost double last year’s attendance. A simple questionnaire will be asked to be completed. Ideas for entertainment were discussed. Geoff Wood offered to approach Chris Allin of nb Nestamay to see if he is available. After discussions it was agreed that the beneficiary from the raffle proceeds would be Buckingham Canal Society as they are within our area and are planning to rewater a section shortly. It was agreed Athina Beckett should be invited to say a few words during the evening.


There have been 8 new members to the Branch since the last meeting, some having booked to attend the Annual Dinner. Clarification of the Branch’s membership as opposed to members is 302 memberships, giving (ie including joint and family members) 481 members.

Boat Gathering

The first meeting for the 2012 Gathering was held on 10th October A new sub-committee has been formed with Mick Butler as Chairman. It was noted that the committee is keen to confine activities to the usual boaters’ events on Lock Island. The Northampton Borough Council will be encouraged to stage an event in Becket’s Park to build on last year’s success. More members are needed to join the sub-committee.

Regional Meetings

It was reported that Milton Keynes Branch has been awarded the Branch Achievement Award 2011

User Group Meeting

Topics raised at a recent BW User Group meeting revealed that overhanging branches between Milton Keynes and Stoke Bruerne are to be removed by outside contractors.



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Continued from front page

Living history groups and individual reenactors came from all over the country to entertain and show visitors what life was like in wartime Britain. The glamorous singer Lola Lamour and George Formby (aka Paul Casper) were performing to packed audiences on the Alhambra Stage (under the arches of the canal bridge) and in the NAAFI tent. Wartime fare such as spam sandwiches and bread and dripping were available and Monty and Churchill were on hand to carry out troop inspections. Tanks and all kinds of military vehicles were on display, the local Pitsford Home Guard were on parade and the Land Army were back again with their Dig for Victory Garden. The history and fashion parade at the Church was a big WOW with visitors, many of whom went on to learn how to dance the hokeycokey at the Village Hall Tea Dance before sipping a well earned cuppa at the Nippy Tea Rooms (aka Village School). And, and of course, there were the colourful vintage canal boats packing the towpath, many of which had once played important roles carrying vital cargoes for the war effort.


A new feature this year was the Sunday morning service conducted by the Reverend Colin Hutchings with members of the Royal British Legion, and in the afternoon it was eyes to the skies once again as thousands lined the canal banks to watch an impressive air display by a Lysander aircraft from the Shuttleworth Collection. All in all, the weekend was a cracking event. David Blagrove, Chairman of the Friends said: ‖This year we have been blessed with wonderful sunshine and high temperatures which have ensured a huge turn-out and everyone has enjoyed themselves immensely, at the same time raising funds for our Museum and other worthwhile local charities. I am immensely grateful for all the volunteer effort which has gone into making Village at War such an enormous success and I sincerely hope we can muster enough volunteers to do it all again next year.‖


Old Stager discovers that…

“IRTHLINGBOROUGH COULD WELL HAVE BEEN THE FILM CAPITAL OF ENGLAND” Most of us know Irthlingborough from our boats, probably mainly because of its tricky and narrow low-arched bridge. But I wager that very few of you realise that this small east Northamptonshire town, standing proudly on the northern bank of the Nene midway between Wellingborough and Thrapston, could well have become the filming capital of England, a Pinewood Studios or perhaps even a mini Hollywood. I was certainly unaware of this, and I reckon I am pretty clued-up on local history. But all was revealed whilst reading a fascinating “off the wall” book entitled “Great British Bus Journeys – travels through infamous places” by Guardian journalist David McKie. One of the unlikely trips he undertook was from Northampton to Irthlingborough via Earls Barton, Rushden, Higham Ferrers and Raunds. Like all the other 24 journeys he made the length and breadth of England, Scotland and Wales, he unearths a wealth of local history and knowledge, much of it eccentric, whereby the most unglamorous of locations become truly glamorous. Hence: Irthlingborough’s venture into the world of film-making just before the First World War. It seems that the Duke of Wellington, victor of Waterloo, who used to come to these parts to visit one of his mistresses, said it reminded him of the countryside south of Brussels. I quote now at length from David McKie’s book: One day in 1912 an American called Charles Weston, impressed by Wellington‘s comparison, arrived in Irthlingborough to make an epic film called The Battle of Waterloo. He set up camp in the little town and started recruiting his cast. Because much of the action was taken up with battle, he needed hundreds of extras, and by offering 7s 6d a day, as well as the prospect of possible fame, he soon found plenty in Irthlingborough. So many went absent from some of the local factories that employers had to shut down until Weston had finished work He further bumped up the numbers by recruiting unemployed men from Northampton labour exchange. ―Never before in the annals of Irthlingborough,‖ said the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, ―have there been scenes so exciting and magnetic as those enacted this week in the making of this historic film. For three days the battle raged, and whether in the town itself or on the stretch of land lying behind the Three Chimneys, or on

19 the sloping surface of the Feast Field, or in the large meadow lying off Finedon Road, a crowd of immense proportions gathered to see the spectacle being presented before the camera.‖ Since not a lot of Irthlingborough extras could ride. Weston borrowed additional horsemen from Weedon Barracks. Even that wasn‘t enough: if you watch his film closely you see that one of the officers riding across a ford is in fact a dummy. The dead horses, of which there were quite a lot too, came from a knacker‘s yard. Napoleon‘s fine coach was brought into town on a railway train. By the time filming was finished, Weston had become attached to the place – all the more so because having given the landlord of the Horseshoe Inn a starring role in his battlefield epic, he had married his daughter. He went on to use the town in subsequent movies too, notably one called The Poacher‘s Sweetheart, for which an Irthlingborough man wrote the screenplay. Local historians believe that nine films were made there in all. Had conditions been right, Irthlingborough might have become a modest British answer to Hollywood. What killed such ambitions was the outbreak of war just a year after Waterloo was completed. Weston gave up his film-making, and Irthlingborough, its cinematic excitements over, reluctantly went back to the manufacture of boots and shoes. But Weston is still warmly remembered in Irthlingborough since the local history society has a copy of that part of the film which survives and puts it on from time to time in a hall behind the Methodist church. The film, of course, is silent, so, as in the old days, an appropriate musical accompaniment is hammered out on the piano. However many times they stage it, the hall is always full, and the evening is punctuated by cries of pleasure as people recognise familiar Irthlingborough locations, and sometimes even familiar faces (―that‘s my granddad!‖ someone exults). There are other favourite moments, too, that are usually worth a cheer: the arrival, for instance, of Blucher, at the head of reinforcements. Quite a chunk of the film has been lost, but the history society has accumulated evidence of some of the material that is missing, including one of those ballroom scenes on the eve of battle much favoured in films like this, not least for the poignant reminder they give the audience that so many of these gallant soldiers waltzing their starry-eyed ladies around the floor under huge chandeliers will be dead within twenty-four hours. Much of what survives consists of soldiers milling about, charging through fords, stamping about waving guns and swords, reeling in agony and falling down dead – although it‘s sometimes a little difficult in The Battle of Waterloo to tell who is dead and who isn‘t, since the apparently dead will suddenly lift their heads and gaze around distractedly as if looking for further instructions from the director. The fog of war is liberally administered to cover up other confusions. It is pretty clear at all times, even so, which side is winning, since the actor playing Napoleon is frequently pictured observing the action through a spyglass and reacting with expressions which proceed from apprehension through alarm to total hopelessness. You can tell he has lost when his glittering coach explodes, a disaster to which he responds with a look of utter despair. ―What will France think?‖ says a Continued on next page

20 even the imperfections of his director, who at one point blunders into a scene with the megaphone which he uses for haranguing his actors. Charles Weston, on this evidence, was no Eisenstein or D.W. Griffith, but a light must have gone out in Irthlingborough when he departed. So there you are. What an amazing story – rather like the rest of the book, although I was a total stranger to most of the places David McKie travelled between on Stage Coach et al. “Great British Bus Journeys” is published by Atlantic Books. I say to those more senior amongst us, purchase it and get some serious concessionary travel in!

A n e v e r i n c re a s i ng h o l e Collapsing brickwork reported to IWA by a passing boater during the summer of 2010 has steadily developed into a large hole in the towpath at Stoke Bruerne near the south portal of Blisworth Tunnel. To some extent it represents the hole of 40 million missing from the proposed budget for the new waterway charity, the Canal & River Trust (CRT), since cutbacks in funding meant that it could not be scheduled for repair until at least the winter of 2012/13. Happily after representations from IWA, the Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership and Stoke Bruerne villager Roy Sears, BW South East managed to find the money needed and the work is now going ahead, much to the relief of Bob Nightingale the blacksmith whose forge was looking set to be cut off from visitors by the ever diminishing towpath. IWA needs your help to make sure that the new waterway charity, due for launch next April, gets off to a good start with adequate funding and resources available to carry out both routine scheduled maintenance and cope with unexpected repairs. At the moment funding is diverted from scheduled local maintenance to repair more urgent unscheduled work nationally. This is inevitably going to result in an overall reduction in maintenance and a fall in the standards of our waterways network. Please write to your MP and tell him/her that £39 million, the amount currently on offer from Defra, is just not enough! You can contact your MP via

19th December 2010 Middle: 8th June 2011 Right: 11th October Pictures by Sam Samuelles


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along the canal. Barbara O (seller) Just like to say thanks for not only selling my Dad‘s boat, but the kindness, for keeping me in touch with the whole process and helpfulness you showed. Linda D (seller) Again may I offer deepest thanks for your kind encouragement and patience over this drawn-out procedure. Richard & Pat F (buyers) Many thanks. It was a pleasure working with you and you have made what was a bit of a traumatic experience for us both as painless as possible. In particular we have appreciated your good communication and very professional style. Andy & Julie W (sellers) Thank you for doing a great job of keeping in touch with us. All the very best and thank you again for your excellent service Gloria & Norman L (sellers) Just wanted to say thanks for everything – you have helped our little dream to happen. We can recommend you as a broker 10 out of 10 . Helen & Pete K (buyers)

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Branch Dinner was a huge success Our Annual Branch Dinner was well attended this year with 57 members and friends enjoying the atmosphere at The Heart of England Hotel at Weedon on 12th November. There was a questionnaire for people to fill in asking their thoughts about the venue, meal and entertainment, the results of which will appear in the next issue of Endeavour This year we had entertainment in the form of Chris Allin of nb Nestamay, who is moored at Cosgrove. During the meal he played the guitar and mouth organ and sang popular songs from the 60s and 70s, ending with a final sing-song. There was a raffle in aid of the Buckingham Canal Society to boost their funds. Society Chairman Athina Beckett was at the dinner and gave a short speech about what the Society was doing. She particularly asked if anyone was willing to help on the Society‘s regular work parties (dates and contact details in diary listings on page 3). There was also an auction of a Fellows, Morton and Clayton photograph, the proceeds of this also going to the Buckingham Canal Society. The total raised in all was ÂŁ208, which Athina gratefully acknowledged. Chris Allin entertains at the dinner



Could you get involved? asks BW Towpath Tidy We at BW have planned some Towpath Tidy activities in different areas that we would love you to come along and take part in. Please just let us know if you would like to take part so we have an idea of numbers. If you would like a clean up event in your area and have some volunteers wanting to take part, please let us know and we can arrange something.There are Canal Clean ups at Welford, 1st December and Stoke Bruerne, 22nd March.2012

VOLUNTEER LOCK KEEPERS We are looking for more Volunteer Lock Keepers to start on the canals in March. We have a number of priority locations, but we would be keen to see volunteers on any lock local to them through the summer months. We would love to hear from you if you are interested so we can get the induction/training completed in the winter and you will be ready to go when the sun comes out again! Priority locations include; Foxton, Watford, Stoke Bruene, Napton, Hillmorton, Stockton, Three Locks and Marsworth.

OPPORTUNITIES Tug Drivers and Boat Crews - to help move BW work boats to where they need to be. We are putting together a planned programme of works, starting in the spring. So if you are interested we can send you the details of which boat needs to be where by when and you can let us know which (if any) dates you would be able to help us on. There would always need to be at least 2 people in a boat and one of them needs to have a boating qualification (such as RYA helmsman) but we can try and pair you up with someone else if you don‘t have this. Our environmental team are keen to have some help to do surveys of features that affect water quality on the canal and are looking for an Environmental Operations Volunteer, so if this interests you please let me know. We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who has experience of using GIS mapping systems. Have you ever wondered what our bankside teams get up to? Well, now is your chance to find out! The SE waterway would like volunteers to work alongside our own teams doing practical works. You could join them for a day or for several days, it‘s entirely up to you. This allows our teams to achieve more and you to have a fun day out. If you are interested in engineering records or would like some part time administration experience, them please get in touch about our Engineering Records Volunteer role. General Computing skills needed.

CONTACT Karen Fishwick, Volunteer Coordinator (South), 07917424590


IWA Issues Call to Arms over Waterway Funding IWA is asking all waterway supporters to act now to secure the future of the Canal and River Trust (CRT). In a press release dated 2nd November 2011, the Association states: ―Things are at a critical juncture for the transfer of British Waterways‘ managed canals and rivers into the Canal and River Trust. The money is everything. A good deal from Defra will deliver a significant Big Society project, and secure the future of a national asset. IWA is concerned, however, that Defra is playing hard ball, and trying to impose a lean deal just to get BW off its books‖. IWA is asking all waterway supporters to urgently: 1. Write to your MP drawing their attention to the fact that the waterways are being transferred over into the charitable sector, and that it is vital that the funding package is sufficient that it allows them to be maintained in a sustainable condition. Let them know that you don't want to see the waterways become another Defra inspired 'forestry' type disaster. 2. Please also ask your MP to contact the Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP directly, to register their concern, and to ensure that he knows that there needs to be more money put on the table. Here are IWA's key points:  Government has initially offered to transfer the British Waterways (BW) property portfolio to CRT and to provide a 10 year funding contract indicated at cash £39 million per year. (So no index linking with the consequence of erosion in value over time by inflation). This is just not enough.

 

BW has thoroughly updated its financial projections. It says that for its waterways to be reasonably maintained, with an acceptable level of risk, it has an annual funding deficit of £20 million. The CRT would inherit this annual deficit. The BW new projections do not appear to embrace the remedy of a repairs deficit which was already significant and has been growing in recent years [in 2007 reported to DEFRA Select Committee as being an accumulated figure of £107million]. British Waterways also has a pension deficit of £65 million, nearly three quarters of which is in respect of previous employees. Ought this huge state incurred liability be transferred over to the new charity? The revised annual deficit does not take account of a large dredging backlog incurred as a result of chronic underfunding, that requires £8-12 million per year to stabilise, and ensure drainage, navigation and environmental requirements are properly supported.

Don't let the proposed transfer of BW assets become another 'forestry' debacle for Defra through underfunding! Please act now - Please write today. You can find out who your MP is and write to them directly by using this link http:// A downloadable template letter for your MP is available on documents/dear_mp


Help make Stoke Bruerne magical for Christmas The Friends of the Canal Museum together with villagers and businesses at Stoke Bruerne are repeating their Christmas celebrations on Saturday, 10th December and are inviting all boatowners to come along and make a spectacle of themselves by lighting up the canal. A prize and certificate is up for grabs for the best illuminated boat! If you‘d like to take part, be at the south portal of the tunnel between 4-5pm ready to join a procession of boats led by trip boat Charlie back to the Museum Green where the children of Stoke Bruerne Primary School will be arriving to meet you for a service of traditional carol singing at around 5.15pm. Tie up where you can so your boat can add to the scene. If you haven‘t got a boat, don‘t worry, come along, join in the carol singing and enjoy the illuminations from the bank. The local gift shops and the Canal Museum will be open for those last minute presents and there will be hot food and beverages on hand to keep out the chill. It is even rumoured that the Little Mermaid shop will be dispensing gluwein. For more information, or help with finding some spare lights, contact Lynda Payton on 01604 861205 or e-mail These two pictures showing illuminated boats at last year’s Christmas celebrations were taken by James Rudd


HISTORIC CANAL FORGE BACK IN USE Blacksmith opens up for business in Stoke Bruerne After many years of laying idle, the old forge and tunnel tug stores on the towpath next to the south entrance to Blisworth Canal Tunnel, has found a new lease of life and is ringing once more to the sound of the hammer and anvil. Blacksmith Bob Nightingale, originally based at Blisworth, has moved his operation to the historic canal side buildings in Stoke Bruerne and the official opening ceremony in early October was presided over by no less than Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery (aka re-enactors Ken Roseblade and Mike Batten), both of whom were principal guests at the Village at War Weekend taking place in the village at the same time. The formal opening was carried out by the Man from the Ministry David Blagrove, Chairman of The Friends of The Canal Museum, event organisers, followed by speeches from Churchill and Montgomery on the importance of metal workers to the war effort. Tribute was also paid by David Blagrove to Roy Sears, a member of both ―The Friends‖ and The Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, who led a long and hard campaign to get the forge brought back into use. The VIPs were transported from the centre of the village to the forge and back by one of the canal centre‘s two trip boats Charlie which runs regular trips to the tunnel mouth and back. James Clifton, British Waterways Enterprise Manager, said: "This canalside building has been empty for a number of years so we are delighted that it now has a new tenant. We are especially pleased that a traditional canalside craft of a blacksmith can once again be seen alongside the waterways and hope that visitors to Stoke Bruerne enjoy seeing Bob the Blacksmith‘s unique iron artwork." Bob has a good stock of wrought iron candle sticks, fire baskets, pokers and even larger hand crafted objects available for purchase. He can also be commissioned to produce beds, chairs, gates, tables, railings, balconies, curtain rails…the list is endless. Bob Nightingale can be contacted on 01604 859726/07761 833049.

Wartime VIPs at the official opening of the forge


SUPPLIES Northamptonshire We are a family run, customer friendly business based adjacent to Bridge 32 at Nether Heyford. Our service point is clear of moored boats making your stop quick and easy. We offer the following services:

   

DIESEL – always competively priced PUMP OUT – no meter clock here BLUE TOILET FLUID

ODORLOS – organic waste tank treatment

CALOR GAS – all sizes of bottled gas including Camping Gaz.


01604 862428


SOLID FUELS – all types of smokeless fuel or coal. Plus firelighters, sticks and logs. CHARNWOOD STOVES – all sizes of multi-fuel stoves with or without boilers

MORRIS OILS – popular grades of engine oil plus water resistant grease FUEL SET FUEL CONDITIONER Most major credit cards accepted. Open: 8.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 1.00 pm on Saturdays Fred Tarry Bridge Cottage Furnace Lane Nether Heyford Northampton, NN7 3JY Telephone/Fax: 01327-341202 Email :

The Branch recycles ink jet cartridges and mobile phones to raise cash to help local projects. Please bring them along to Branch meetings or ring 01604 767212 to arrange collection. Please no Epson ink tanks.


200-year-old bridge saved as part of canal restoration Buckingham Canal Society continues in its work to restore the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal and has completed the re-pointing and repair of one of the remaining bridges over the canal. This bridge provides a farm crossing access as part of the Little Hill Farm section of the canal, the pictures below clearly demonstrating the sympathetic brick and stone restoration by skilled craft members of the Society. Athina Beckett, Chairman of the Buckingham Canal Society, says: ―Many people will be familiar with this style of traditional canal bridge. It has been a labour of love by our volunteers and completed using traditional lime mortar and original materials wherever possible. This has been one of our work party activities and we continue to progress our restoration work on the section at Little Hill Farm as well as Cosgrove, Buckingham and Hyde Lane. ―It is wonderful to see the interest that continues to grow in this exciting project. A broad mix of volunteers both young and old have worked on this project to preserve this piece of local heritage. New volunteers are always welcome and the Society runs three work parties a month on alternate Thursdays and on the second Sunday of each month. No experience necessary!‖ From its opening in 1801, the canal was used to transport bricks, coal and manufactured goods as well as imports from the London Docks. It also provided transport for agricultural produce from the farms and villages along its route. The waterway to Buckingham ran a total of just under 11 miles from the Grand Union Canal at Cosgrove Lock along the Stony Stratford and Buckingham Arms. The original route passed through Old Stratford, Deanshanger, Thornton, Leckhampstead

29 Wharf, Thornborough Mill, Maids Moreton Mill and Bourton Meadow. Much of the canal is now dry and parts have been built over. Certain sections of the route would need to be created anew due to the development that has taken place in and around villages since the canal‘s closure in the late 1940s. Early in 2010, BCS commissioned an outline feasibility study regarding the restoration of the entire length of the canal arm. The report concluded that it was a feasible project, although significant funding and commitment will be required. BCS is actively seeking new members and welcomes participation at all levels from the community. BCS is also actively seeking grant and other funding to progress its restoration activities, working in partnership with local authorities in the area as well as private companies. For more details, please visit or email

NEW BRANCH MEMBERS WELCOMED We extend a warm welcome to the following IWA members who have joined Northampton Branch since the last issue of Endeavour Mr J S & Mrs S E Jarman, Great Billing Mr M & Mrs E Blackwell, Earls Barton Mr D Coles, Brixworth Mr R Howell, Wellingborough Mr J E C Leggett & Ms V L Richley, Northampton Mr R & Mrs M Stainer, Cogenhoe Dr A D Watts, London Members who have moved to the Branch Mrs M S Thornton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire Mr C Toomer, Northampton

We look forward to meeting you all at Branch events The IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated, otherwise the Association accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Neither the editor nor IWA can accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the magazine, and opinions stated are those of individual contributors. We will, however, gladly publish corrections if notified. The editor reserves the right to shorten or modify articles published in the interests of clarity or space. The Inland Waterways Association is registered as a charity (No. 212342)



Thank you, Brian and Janet Collings Branch members Brian and Janet Collings thought of us in a big way when they moved house earlier this year, donating a huge amount of canalia to help boost funds for waterway restoration, writes Lynda Payton. Brian and Janet are familiar to many of us, having lived in Stoke Bruerne on and off for nearly fifty years and both having worked at the Canal Museum before retiring a few years ago. Fortunately for us, their new house in Towcester is much smaller, so something had to go – and it did, in our direction! Amongst the boxes of books, painted canal ware and other bits and pieces were a large number of signed limited edition prints of paintings which Brian has painted over the years and which are most sought after. All the items raised hundreds of pounds on our Sales Table and at Auction over the weekend of the Campaign Festival earlier this year, the proceeds of which were later donated to the Cotswold Canal Trust‘s Inglesham Lock Appeal. IWA was astonished to discover that Brian and Janet had given away the only surviving prints of Brian‘s iconic painting of Sunny Valley they had, so we kept one back and arranged to have it mounted and framed for them as a thank you. Brian said: ―We were sad to leave Stoke Bruerne, but are glad to be much nearer our family and delighted that our house clearance was of help to the Branch. We don‘t have any pictures on the walls of our new house yet, so Sunny Valley will have pride of place, especially as it is one of our favourite paintings.‖ We still have a large box of railway books which Brian donated to catalogue and dispose of, so if any of you are railway buffs and are interested, do get in touch and we‘ll send you a list.

Lynda Payton presenting Brian Collings with the picture of Sunny Valley





Grand Union, Oxford & Leics Canals Rivers Nene and Thames RING:


The Little Mermaid Canal Shop Stoke Bruerne Danish Gifts, Glassware Wooden Toys, Jewellery, Candles, Canal Prints and Flower Decorations ** Open daily 10.30am – 4.30pm (closed Mondays & Tuesdays) until the end of the year, when the shop will be closing. I would like to sincerely thank all my customers and friends for their valued support over the last seven years. My very best wishes to you all.


The Wharf, Stoke Bruerne, NN12 7SE 07721 - 505525




All advertisements must comply with the requirements of the Trades Descriptions Act and avoid misrepresentation of goods offered for sale. The Business Advertisements (Disclosure) Order 1977 requires that businesses seeking to sell goods must clearly indicate this in an advertisement.

COMMERCIAL RATES (suggested donations) 1/4 Page (box) £12.00 1/2 Page (box) £25.00 Full Page £40.00 Discount of 10% for 4 issues Other sizes by arrangement

CLASSIFIEDS (suggested donations) £1.50 for 22 words, 15p each additional word £3.50 for box around classified advertisement (nb. telephone numbers count as one word) £3.50 for photographs

BRANCH SOCIAL MEETINGS Regular Branch Social Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to May inclusive at

THE WALNUT TREE INN, BLISWORTH at 8pm All members and non-members welcome. Food and drink available

Next meetings: Tuesday, 13th December Richard Thomas – ―A day in the life of a Thames Tug‖ Tuesday, 10th January John Pomfret — ―Waterways of Bohemia and Central Germany‖ Tuesday, 14th February To be announced Tuesday 13th March AGM followed by Quiz with Michael and Catriona Butler The next edition of Endeavour will be published February 2012


WHO’S WHO IN NORTHAMPTON BRANCH 2011/2012 Bernard Morton

Branch Meetings

07785 375787

Graham Treagus

E-mail: bernard.morton

E-mail: graham.treagus


Branch Secretary Sandie Morton E-mail:sandie.morton

Membership Secretary & Planning Officer Geoff Wood E-mail

Deputy Chairman & Police Liaison Officer

Boat Gathering Sub-Committee members

Eric Young E-mail:

Treasurer & Planning Officer Alex Madisons E-mail alex.madisons

Michael Butler (Chairman), Catriona Butler, Roger Hasdell, Alex Madisons, Bernard Morton, Sandie Morton, John Pomfret, Sam Samuells and Eric Young (also occasional members Ian Bekusch and Peter Canfield)

Newsletter Editor Tony Clarke 07939 977859 E-mail tony.clarke

Website & Publicity Officer Lynda Payton E-mail:lynda.payton

Non-Committee posts Sales: Catriona Butler 01604 473756

Archivist, Endeavour Advertising & Distribution Roger Hasdell 01604 767212

Endeavour November 2011  

Newsletter of Northampton Branch IWA Nov 2011

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