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Portfolio - Mark Welton, nb Tallulah LEFT: Tyrley Locks, Shropshire Union

RIGHT: Bridge 21. Middlewich Branch

ABOVE: Weaver Aqueduct, Middlewich Branch, Church Minshull at OverWater by Mark Welton Shroppie Fly PaperFRONT COVER: Evening Page

Summer 2014


The Editor's cut... Welcome to the summer issue of Shroppie Fly Paper, which as usual is full of news and views from around our branch area and, occasionally, a little further afield. The festival season kicked off in style once more at Norbury, where SNCT’s potentially risky weather strategy of selecting the first bank holiday weekend of the year paid off again. Although perhaps not quite as glorious as last year, 2014’s festival enjoyed enough sunshine to bring the crowds flocking to the junction to enjoy the pub, the boats and the traders’ offerings. Isn’t it strange how the second May bank holiday weekend is often worse than the first? The Crick Show suffered once again, this time with an epic storm of almost biblical proportions. That didn’t seem to dampen the mood of the visiting public, though. The waterways media and individual traders have reported a greater sense of optimism and an increased level of visitor spending, which is encouraging to hear. We still have plenty of our own shows coming up during the summer, with Audlem, Whitchurch and Maesbury still to enjoy. And towards the end of September IWA is holding its national annual general meeting on the Caldon Canal in the Staffordshire Moorlands at Leek, which is not at all far from our area. Hopefully, many of you will be able to attend both the open meeting and the associated festivities that will be taking place over the AGM weekend. Elsewhere in these pages you will see that we have secured the services of someone who should be a fascinating speaker for our Autumn Social Evening & Talk in November. John Yates, who lives within the branch area at Wem, is a man with a very full CV, having worked coal-carrying narrowboats for years and now an active contributor to English Heritage and multiple CRT committees. See page 16 for details of the event. And finally, let's welcome the return of Michael Limbrey as our branch chairman. Michael needs little or no introduction to many of our readers, but for those who are unfamiliar with his name he has been an ardent supporter of the work of the IWA, particularly its restoration efforts, over more years than he cares to admit. One imagines that Michael will have been as delighted as the rest of us, if not even more so, to have witnessed the re-watering of the latest stretch of the Montgomery Canal in early June. Well done to the SUCS volunteers, whom we fervently hope can keep going, with some WRG assistance, to Llanymynech and beyond! Michael Haig Next copy date: October 15, 2014 Summer 2014

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The Branch Committee President & Chairman Vice Chairman

Michael Limbrey, Fulshaw House, Llanymynech SY22 6EN 01691 839992 michael@limbrey.net David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk NW Region Chairman Alan Platt, Argoed, Pen y Cefn Road, Caerwys, Flintshire CH7 5BH 01352 720649 alanplatt@hotmail.co.uk Secretary & Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS Membership Sec. 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Treasurer Denis Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DL 01270 811157 janden1@btinternet.com Heritage & Peter Brown, 34 Waterside Drive, Market Drayton TF9 1HU Planning Officer 01630 652567 iwa@peter-quita.demon.co.uk Webmaster Alan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359650 alan.wilding@waterways.org.uk Newsletter Editor Michael Haig, 7 Barnton Edge, Stone ST15 8ZR 01785 813550 michael.haig@waterways.org.uk Social Secretary Val Haig, 7 Barnton Edge, Stone ST15 8ZR 01785 813550 val.haig@waterways.org.uk Navigation Officer Fiona Pearson, 1 Inglis Road, Park Hall, Oswestry SY11 4AN 01691 662109 fionapearson@yahoo.co.uk Committee Members Hugh Appleton, 1 Maes Dinas, Llanfechain, SY22 6YR 01691 828124 annandhugh@btinternet.com Janet Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem CW3 0DL - contact as for Treasurer Gerallt Hughes, Ty’n y Coed, Arthog, Gwynedd LL39 1YS 01341 250631 gerallt.hughes@waterways.org.uk Susan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359 650 alan.wilding@waterways.org.uk Branch Web pages

www.waterways.org.uk/shrewsbury www.facebook.com/pages/IWA-Shrewsbury-Branch/388651831206061

Shroppie Fly Paper The Shroppie Fly Paper is the newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of The Inland Waterways Association with a membership of about 330. Nationally the IWA has about 16,000 members and campaigns for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways. For further information contact any committee member. Copy for the Shroppie Fly Paper is welcome by email, on disk or in manuscript form. Photographs may be in any common computer format or as prints. Please supply a stamped addressed envelope if you require photographs to be returned. ‘Letters to the Editor’ intended for publication are invited, as are comments for the Editor’s private guidance. Copy and letters submitted for publication may be edited. The Inland Waterways Association may not agree with the opinions expressed in this Branch newsletter but encourages publicity as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as official policy unless stated otherwise. The Association accepts no liability for any matter in this newsletter. Any reproduction must be acknowledged. The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No 612245. Registered as a charity No 212342.

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From The Steerer It was a surprise – and a privilege – to be asked to act again as branch chairman. I never tire of telling IWA friends from other branches that our area includes the country's finest canals! There are significant restorations too: the Montgomery and Shrewsbury & Newport Canals both have features unique in our waterway network, face challenges to reopening and offer a valuable contribution to the area, as does the Whitchurch Arm project. Much has changed since we started out as a branch nearly forty years ago. Then we had to campaign for the value of our waterways to be appreciated, and the IWA's new branch structure was a way of bringing that campaign into each part of the country. Today there is a recognition of the value of our waterways and what we do to sustain, protect and promote them makes a contribution to the well-being of our area, telling a wider audience what it has to offer. There is too a new level of enthusiasm within Canal & River Trust. That Trust is of course the realisation of a vision promoted by IWA many years ago (though so far incorporationg only ex-BW waterways) and we work with CRT more closely than ever for the benefit of our waterways. Today's recognition of our canals and navigable rivers comes from their considerable social value, their economic, social and environmental benefit. They bring visitors from far and wide – many, especially on the Llangollen, from overseas – and are one of the most important features of local tourism, and hence of the local economy. As well as what we do locally, the branch has a role as part of the national association. Nationally the IWA is active in protecting and promoting our waterway network and, when it has to, takes issue with the Government, the Canal & River Trust or anyone else. Nationally and locally there are many matters which affect our waterways, from the extension of the national grid network to the construction of new marinas or the impact of HS2 and IWA can take a public stance on such issues to reflect the concerns of members, and is not constrained in the way that CRT might be. At the same time, any organisation has to adapt to the world around it: I am sure Summer 2014

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we spend much more time these days in maintaining contact with public organisations and agencies to promote waterways and our restorations. It is some years since a council officer had to tell me that not only had 'they' 'changed the goalposts' but the pitch had been moved as well! So we have to keep our eye on the ball – and the pitch! Boats are an essential part of the waterway scene. I am not a boat-owner, but have travelled many waterways over the years – and a number were not even open when I first discovered canals. Most of my colleagues on the branch committee have much more boating experience than I. It is important to continue the focus on boating: do you know any boater who benefits from the work of the IWA but doesn't belong? So what might happen during my spell as Chairman? In the first place, the branch has a committee of volunteers who give a lot of their time for the benefit of our waterways. Have you noticed that there are more names in the committee page at the front of SFP? Extra help means we can be more effective in what we do, and do more. And actually, I think we all derive some pleasure from meeting regularly as friends and from joining activities which benefit our waterways. (There may be many definitions of 'pleasure' of course!) What would I like to achieve? I would like the branch, its committee and its members – • to engage with public bodies and the general public to ensure that our waterways, navigable and under restoration, are valued, • to be aware that the branch and the IWA itself is part of a larger world of people who want the same as we do, • to encourage people who care for our canals to support events which improve or promote them, • and to encourage canal users to value and support what the IWA does for them. Michael Limbrey - Branch Chairman Editor's note: In his opening sentence Michael alludes to the fact that this is not his first term of office as branch chairman. In fact he has served the branch in this role on two previous occasions: first around 1980 and more recently from 1994-1997. With his many other waterways commitments, including the chairmanship of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, we are fortunate that Michael could be persuaded to lead the branch for a third term.

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Region Chaiman writes 2014 seems to be a year of anniversaries. In IWA terms the most significant is the centenary of Robert Aickman’s birth, and there are plans to try and get a Blue Plaque erected outside his former home in Gower Street, London, which was also the first IWA head office. Following on from Tom Rolt’s centenary year in 2010, I am reminded of how committed and eccentric both these key figures in the history of the Association were. We live in different times and your current trustees seem rather less colourful and perhaps less strong willed. If true, that may be just as well, living as we do in a different age, ruled by risk assessments and KPI analyses. However, though we may exhibit a duller style than our founders showed, I hope we still have some of their enthusiasm and spirit, and certainly we share their love of and commitment to the waterways. This year is also one of events in our area. The Monty triathlon is now becoming firmly fixed in the calendar and the organisers are to be thanked and congratulated for another excellent event. Later in the year we have the Maesbury rally, plans for which seem well advanced and this again is another excellent way of achieving valuable publicity for the Montgomery Canal and its restoration. With the first phase of the Montgomery’s Heritage Lottery Fund bid accepted, the appointment of a Project Manager imminent and the recent rewatering of the SUCS restored section to Pryce’s bridge, things are looking up for the Monty. As they are also for the other major restoration in our patch: the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals. Another successful HLF Phase I bid, by all accounts an excellent Norbury festival in May, and major progress at Wappenshall and elsewhere on the restoration all augur well. I hope many of you were able to make it to the National Campaign Rally at Chester in early June. I have to confess that, among the many delights offered by the schedule, the one that caught my eye was pole dancing, which must be a first for a waterways festival! While reluctant to end on a sad note, I must mention the recent funeral of Ann Appleton, one of our valued committee members. Our membership secretary, Dawn Aylwin, remembers Ann in more detail overleaf, but let me add that It was enlightening to learn from her eulogy that this quiet unassuming lady, always ready to lend a hand when needed, was so active in so many areas. We shall miss her, and our sympathies go to Hugh and their family. Summer 2014

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Membership Matters We are delighted to welcome the following new members who have joined the Branch since the spring edition of this magazine and look forward to meeting you all at one of our forthcoming events. Mr & Mrs Allen from No Mans Heath, Mrs Andrews from Hurleston, Mr Bell from Mostyn, Mr Howell from Corwen, Mr & Mrs Keyes from Ellesmere, Mr Mackenzie from Harpenden Hertfordshire, and Mr O'Keeffe from Whitchurch, This year, more than ever, we desperately need your help at some of the branch activities especially at the lock wind and at the Maesbury Canal Festival (full details elsewhere in this magazine). Our usual pool of helpers has diminished due to hip and knee replacements, broken bones, and other age related reasons. So if you have two working legs and at least one hand please get in touch! Seriously, if you can spare an hour or two your help will be much appreciated. Don't delay phone a member of the committee today - if you leave it till next week the chances are that, having read this magazine from cover to cover, it's likely to be in the waste paper recycling bin, and then you'll forget!

We will miss them‌ It is with great sadness that I have to report that Ann Appleton, a branch committee member, passed away on 12 May, at the Severn Hospice. Ann and her husband Hugh joined the committee two years ago, and were very active in branch activities. Before joining the branch, Ann developed an interest in canals through visiting canal museums and enjoying a week's holiday on a narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal as a leader with a party of Girl Guides. This interest was further increased by numerous walks along canals, as well as taking part in branch activities, including the visit to the Dudley Canal Tunnels. Ann found taking an active role in the Branch very rewarding and helped to ease the workload on other committee members. Along with Hugh, Ann worked tirelessly as a volunteer at the last Maesbury Festival; she also worked at the Shrewsbury charity Christmas card shop where she was able to add up quicker than calculators, a skill she developed when working as an accountant. Needless to say Ann will be missed. Our thoughts and sympathies go to Hugh and their three daughters. May was not a good month and sadly our thoughts go also to Helen Love whose

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husband, Frank, passed away at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital after a long illness. Frank and Helen attended every festival at Maesbury in their narrowboat Giverny and helped with the children's WOW activities; Frank will be missed not only by us, but also more importantly by Helen, his children and grandchildren. Dawn Aylwin

On the Telly again! ITV Wales came to Llanymynech on June 2 to film our stretch of the Monty for the programme ‘Coast and Country’. They started on the boat on the Welsh side of the bridge and filmed the very short trip from Wales to the Wharf Visitor Centre. Here, Carl Edwards, the presenter, and his adorable Shnauzer puppy, Peggy, disembarked to go to the Hoffmann Kiln. For the next couple of hours Tony Beardsell took the team around the Kiln in the Heritage Area. Jerry, the cameraman, and Helen, the producer, were most appreciative and loved the venue.

ITV in Llanymynech

Photo: Joan Zorn

Then, back on the boat to cruise the 600m to the ‘dry bit’. (Thanks to Alan Barnes for his expert helming of the boat). Jerry spent his time hopping on and off to film from the towpath as well as the boat. This all tied in well with the TV crew’s morning engagement - filming the re-watering of the Redwith to Pryce’s Bridge section of the canal. Only another 2½ miles to go to get to Llanymynech! The programme is expected to be broadcast at the end of July. Watch out for it. You may also be interested in a new phone app for Llanymynech Limeworks Heritage Area produced as part of Powys CC’s ‘Walking with Offa’ project. Look for 'Trails Mid Wales'. There is also an ebook (for iPads only). Go to http:// bookry.com/user/powys/ , click on 'Public stores belonging to Powys' then 'Trails Mid Wales'. Scroll down to see all the ebooks. Joan Zorn Summer 2014

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Shropshire Council’s £30,000 Shrewsbury towpath resurfacing Over the last year Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust (SNCT) has held regular work parties in Shrewsbury to clear the canal towpath into the town. This length, from Factory Bridge (opposite Ditherington Flax Mill) to Shrewsbury town centre, had fallen into disrepair in recent years, the surface had deteriorated and it had become impassable in some areas in wet weather. Brambles have now been cleared right along the length, particularly in the St Michaels Gate area, and a massive amount of rubbish has been removed. For the first time the Trust was also allowed onto the Morris Lubricants site to clear back and clean up the area next to the towpath on their side of the fence. Shropshire Council has agreed to spend £30,000 to re-surface the path along the whole route. The path has now been asphalted and the fall to the edges of the towpath will ensure that rain water runs off the path, making it usable throughout the year for everyone. John Myers Inter-Branch Skittles Evening - Saturday, October 25, 2014 7.30pm Stafford Boat Club Maplewood, Wildwood, Stafford ST17 4SG - 01785 660725 The appearance of this item may deceive some of you into thinking it’s spring, as the popular Skittles Challenge was traditionally held in April. But this year the date has changed – to October 25. Some things stay the same, however. The venue will again be Stafford Boat Club, the hosts are IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch, and the hosts retain the trophy, which they prised from the grasp of Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch in 2012. Once more the contest is a threecornered affair as IWA Lichfield Branch is joining us again. So come along, see if you can help our branch recover the trophy, and enjoy an entertaining social evening in Stafford. Overnight moorings may be available - contact SBC for more information. Meet at 7.30pm for a supper of Beef Hot Pot and Apple Pie & Cream, cost £7.50 per head including skittles. You can pay on the night, however the club needs to know by October 18 (for catering) how many will be attending, so please contact me at val.haig@waterways.org.uk or 07976 280174 as soon as possible to book your place. Why not do it now before you forget and recycle this valuable magazine?

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"Time To Say Goodbye" This is the title of one of the humans' favourite songs and she fancied using it for this occasion! Music of all kinds was the theme in Audlem for the May Bank Holiday, when the village hosts its extremely popular annual festival and the place comes alive from noon till what seems like late into the night. Living as we do on the Wharf, we got the full "benefit"! The humans remarked that it must have been a bit like Glastonbury or Woodstock but without the mud.

Tugboat Ted & Ethelted bid farewell Photo: Janet Farmer

Lots to enjoy there, so the beginning of June seemed comparatively peaceful with just the RNLI Open day at Overwater Marina overflowing into the village. People stopping for refreshment on their way home at the end of a glorious sunny day made us all feel very privileged to be part of a canal village with so much going on. It was in 1997 when I took over from Ethelted to write for the Shroppie Fly Paper. Before that, I am told, the male human wrote and covered a few controversial topics! I was found to help look after the recently built nb Leo and gave a running report on life on board and our travels. Ethelted was my constant companion and advisor and we both have good memories. Now seems the right time to retire and thank people for their interest and feedback. It was lovely to hear fellow boaters enquiring after us on our trips and while we are happy being House bears, we don't forget our boating days and we are assured that the human's won't either. Cheers - Tugboat Ted

Audlem RNLI Festival at OverWater Marina The third Audlem RNLI Festival, hosted by the marina on June 1, proved to be even more successful than the previous two years, with over 1,500 people taking part to raise ÂŁ4,000 in donations to support the valuable life-saving work of the RNLI. Summer 2014

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The sun shone for the event, which was a fun day for all the family. The return of the ‘round the island’ raft race attracted seven teams with the Bridge Inn team from Audlem winning first prize. After several sinking moments, Audlem’s Fire Station team just managed to avoid taking the wooden spoon. Providing historic interest were the fly-boat Saturn and a steam powered launch. Expert boat handling, hiring and buying advice was on hand, while the emergency services were also well represented. IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch unveiled its extremely Fly boat Saturn and steam launch at OverWater smart and still very shiny new Photo: Michael Haig gazebo, and we were fortunate to be able to have our branch’s 2015 calendars for sale thanks to an impressively swift turnaround from the design team and the printers, Downstream of Nantwich. We were also fortunate to have plenty of willing support at the event to man our stand and thanks go to all who volunteered. The Audlem Lass boat service ferried numerous visitors from Audlem on its regular run between OverWater and Lock 15. Since its launch three years ago, the boat has notched up an impressive 5,000 miles – enough to get from Liverpool to Brazil – and has carried more than 12,000 passengers as well as pushchairs, wheel chairs and over 500 assorted dogs, earning over £16,000 for the RNLI. Michael Haig BOAT JUMBLE at

MAESBURY FESTIVAL SEPTEMBER 6-7, 2014 Put forgotten and overlooked treasures to good use The Branch Committee plans to sell donated items useful to boaters, canal enthusiasts and others at the IWA stand during the festival. We have some jumble left over after parting with our narrowboat Leo, including a hand pump out unit, a 2' x 4' luggage trolley and a number of smaller items, but need more. If you have any spare items that you can donate please bring them along on the day or contact any committee member (see page 4) Our space for storage is very limited but I've no doubt we will manage. Direct to the stand however will be helpful. Janet & Denis Farmer

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From the Social Secretary As many of you will know, our first brewery tour proved a spectacular success! The fifty places available on our visit to Joule’s Brewery in Market Drayton on May 6 were fully subscribed and we even had a waiting list, which unfortunately we were unable to accommodate. However, those who booked early enough were rewarded with an excellent evening, an informative talk about the origins of the Joule’s brand and its brewing, a guided tour of the Brew House, a substantial pork supper and, importantly, as much free beer on self-service as desired! No wonder I’ve been receiving requests to make this an annual event. We probably won’t actually do that, but may well arrange a repeat either at the same or an alternative brewery another year. So onwards and upwards…in the Branch Diary pages and elsewhere you will find the programme for the rest of 2014. Joule's Brewery visit

Photo: Michael Haig

You will see that we are asking for your support to help us regain the coveted Inter-Branch Skittles Trophy at Stafford Boat Club on October 25. We loaned it two years ago to North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch, but unfortunately have been unable to win it back since! Members of the committee and I are also working on our Autumn Social Evening and Talk. We have a date, a venue and a speaker, so please make a note of them in your diaries. The Social Evening will be on Monday, November 10 at Brooklands Hotel on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. Our after-dinner speaker will be John Yates. Recalling our 2013 Autumn Talk at the Narrowboat, Whittington, which was very well attended despite dreadful driving weather, this year we are going for a venue that is more accessible to most on major roads. We hope you will approve of this and turn out to support the branch. Details are on the Diary page. Finally, the Friends of the Leominster Canal extend a warm invitation to branch members to join them on any of their regular walks on the Leominster Canal. Details are on the Branch Diary page of Shroppie Fly Paper. Val Haig Summer 2014

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CRT winter stoppage consultation 2014-05 Between our spring and summer issues CRT announced the timetable for its winter stoppage consultation for Winter 2014-15 and also details of the proposed stoppages themselves. Comments on the first version of CRT’s plans closed on Friday, June 20, for CRT planners to assess the online feedback and make any amendments that they can. Thereafter the revised plans will be released for a second round of consultation from July 14 to August 8, with a final stoppage schedule to be determined on August 29. CRT is proposing that this winter the stoppages on the Llangollen Canal will take place before Christmas, and those on the northern Shropshire Union Main Line and at Cholmondeston Lock on the Middlewich Branch after Christmas. Specifically, the stoppages include, between November and December, the Chirk and Whitehouses tunnels, Frankton Locks, New Marton Locks, as well as Poveys and Quoisley locks, while in the new year work will be taking place at SU locations including Audlem, Woodseaves and Cholmondeston. The full list of planned stoppages in our branch area can be found on the CRT website. In IWA’s regular dialogues with the three waterway managers in our North West Region, they have been very enthusiastic in expressing their wish to receive more user comments during the consultation process. So please, when the second consultation phase begins, visit http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices/winter, check the full list of planned stoppages and have your say if you think there are issues that have not been adequately addressed. Michael Haig

Water Adds Value : IWA/CRT Conference It is two years since the trumpeted launch of the Canal & River Trust. How are IWA and CRT getting along? For an answer look no further than their joint conference, Water Adds Value, held in Birmingham – unfortunately on the day of the Montgomery Canal Triathlon! On display was a map showing derelict canals around the country: no less than 95, including of course the three active projects in our branch area. Shroppie Fly Paper

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The conference was built around a study, entitled ‘Water Adds Value’, by the University of Northampton. It looked at the added value of restored canals: the economic, social and environmental impacts of restoration. Seven projects were considered, north and south, urban and rural. The study found that canal restoration has “a huge unrealised potential to support local and national economies through boosting tourism, regeneration and community action”. Significant benefits were identified in each restoration: in visitor numbers, what those visitors spend, the jobs and business opportunities they bring, and the opportunity for valuable canalside development (that does not mean ribbon development along either bank, but developments such as the Falkirk Wheel or Reading's Oracle Centre that have made restoration there worthwhile), plus additional opportunities for outdoor exercise, conservation of historic structures, flood protection, land drainage and improved biodiversity. A couple of examples: • over 50 jobs created in recreation, leisure and tourism from reopening the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, with over 600,000 visits generating spending of approx. £1.7million, plus enhanced property values; • an increase of about 20% in towpath visitors following the reopening of the Droitwich Canal, with £1.1million spend from boating supporting 11 full-time jobs, some £2million private investment in a new marina, and plans for significant waterside development. It is actually much more interesting to see all this summarised in a short presentation which you can find at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg0B_2v-bLk. Following this study we heard from three different restoration projects, all in rural areas and all facing the challenge of restoring waterways which were abandoned long before those in our area: the Cotswold Canals running from Gloucestershire to the Thames above Lechlade, the Wiltshire, Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership focusing on canals centred on Swindon, and the Hereford & Gloucester Canal, a 34 mile canal, derelict for 150 years, where the Trust assists developments which benefit the canal and the local community. We have always known that Water Adds Value. It has been very exciting to have that confirmed and set out by this latest study – and then to present that information at the Montgomery Canal Forum. It just goes to show what opportunities there are for Welshpool, Pant and Llanymynech, Whitchurch, Newport, Shrewsbury and other towns and villages in our area! Michael Limbrey Summer 2014

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IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Branch Diary 2014 All branch members are welcome to join us at our regular branch business meetings, which are preceded by an opportunity for supper and socialising. Meetings begin at 7.00pm, with supper from 6.00pm. In order to give our venues an idea of numbers it would be appreciated if you could let the branch know if you would like to attend. shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk July 14 - Aug 3

Linocut art exhibition at Audlem Mill, featuring the work of celebrated canal artist Eric Gaskell.

July 14 - Aug 8

CRT winter stoppages consultation period, phase 2. See page 14.

July 20

Aqueduct Marina Church Minshull Open Day. Please come along, enjoy the fun and support the branch stand.

July 26-27

Audlem Festival of Transport and Gathering of Historic Narrow Boats. Over 50 historic boats will squeeze into Audlem for the largest gathering to date. See page 21.

August 2-3

Branch lock wind at Hurleston bottom lock. We really do need your help and support. Please see page 30.

August 11

Branch business meeting at Narrowboat Inn, Whittington SY11 4NU.

August 30

Leominster Canal walk - Orleton Village Hall 10.30am. Hosted by Friends of the Leominster Canal www.leominstercanal.co.uk

Sept 6-7

Maesbury Festival. See pages 19-20.

Sept 20-21

Whitchurch Gathering of Boats. See page 21.

Sept 27

IWA national AGM at Leek, Staffordshire Moorlands. See www.waterways.org.uk/agm/agm

Sept 28

Waterway community event on the Caldon Canal at Leek. See www.waterways.org.uk/agm/agm

Oct 13

Branch business meeting at Horse & Jockey, Whitchurch SY13 4QJ

Nov 10

Autumn Social Evening & Talk at Brooklands Hotel, Mill Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9JT. 6.30 for 7.00pm supper. John Yates, an English Heritage inspector, a member of CRT's Heritage Advisory Committee and Museums & Attractions Partnership, as well as CRT Council, will speak on 'Canal Heritage - a Journey': his personal canal heritage journey through living on boats and coal carrying to his career in conservation and involvement in CRT's heritage work and museums. The cost of ÂŁ9 per head includes the talk and a fish & chip supper (vegetarian option available). Please book with Val Haig (contact details on page 4) by November 5 (for catering numbers) and pay cash on the night.

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Grindley Brook Boat Count The Llangollen Canal is the busiest in the country. When an application is made for a new marina, we tell the local planning authorities that congestion will increase and the delays at locks are likely to seriously interfere with people’s enjoyment of their holidays. As this canal has the greatest proportion of first-time hirers, it could mean that some people never again take a canal holiday — bad for the local and national economies, and bad for the future of canals. But there is a big difference between asserting that there is a problem, and proving that there is one. If the local planning authority is going to turn down a planning application, it can only do so on good evidence. Following discussions with CRT’s management, it has been agreed that IWA and SUCS volunteers will carry out a survey to assess the level of congestion in the peak summer weeks at Grindley Brook, which is the worst bottleneck. We propose to hold a count of the number of boats in the queue at the top lock on the half hour from 9am to 5pm from Saturday 19 July to Sunday 10 August. The count at the bottom is not as straightforward as the boats queue in two places, below the staircase and below all six locks. These would be done at quarter past and quarter to each hour. This is no small task and will require help from a number of volunteers. A suggested plan is to have half-day shifts, 9am to 1pm and 1pm to 5pm, a total of 46 shifts over the proposed period. The logging period could be extended for a further week, which will give a better result, if volunteer numbers are sufficient. Ideally we would like to record for how long boats have to queue for as well as actual boat numbers. If you can spare a couple of half days during this period your assistance would be greatly appreciated. For further information or to volunteer please contact Peter Brown on 01630 652567 or email him at iwa@peter-quita.demon.co.uk

VOLUNTEERING Jointly with IWA North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Branch, we are supporting Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust for their first himalayan balsam bash on Saturday, July 12 from 10.00am at Black Shed, Water Lane, Newport TF10 7LD. Contact John Myers on 07711 858986 or jma@onetel.com. Please bring gloves and wear suitable footwear for working by the canal. You will find reports of various volunteer activities that have been taking place in our branch area on pages 18 and 19 of this issue . If you would like to get involved in future activities please contact: STTV: Paul Mills, 0151 336 1049, exelbee@sky.com or Maurice Ward, 01942 260459 / 07791 350207, drmdward@hotmail.com SUMBA: Graham Russell, 01270 522731 / 07853 275222, ggtr@btinternet.com

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Middlewich Branch – volunteers get cracking The Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union has seen a burst of volunteering activity during the spring and early summer, as three separate projects got under way. At Wardle Lock, on the ‘shortest canal in the country’ (the Wardle Canal at 154ft), IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch teamed up to promote a series of work parties to enhance the lock and its immediate surrounds.

Off-side clear at Wardle Lock

Photo: Roger Evans

Unfortunately we were forced to cancel the third event at the end of May due to bad weather and unsafe working conditions, but earlier we managed two well-

attended and productive work parties. The teams painted the woodwork and metalwork of the gates, as well as various fences and signs. In mid-May a second coat of white was put on the balance beams, and some railings by the next bridge were also painted. However, the principal job was to expose and tidy-up the offside bank below the lock. Such a massive change was made that it looks like a different place! At the other end of the Branch, the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch Adopters (SUMBA), a new group formed by moorers at Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull, have adopted the stretch of canal from Barbridge Junction to Bridge 11 and started to hold regular monthly work parties.

SUMBA's haul of large litter

Photo: Graham Russell

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Bridges 2 and 3, the group has painted the two benches at the junction itself, reerected and painted the totem post by the water point, and begun rubbing down the rusty railings and posts between the water point and rubbish compound for a planned future re-painting. April also saw the Small Tasks Team Volunteers (STTV) complete its 50th task for the Canal & River Trust since the group’s first project in 2012. On April 2-4, timber board and aggregate steps (with hand rails) were installed at Hoolgrave Bridge (Bridge 11) to improve access between a public footpath crossing the bridge and the canal towpath. Additionally, an access gate with adjacent fencing was installed at the head of the steps.

Completed steps at Bridge 11

Photo: Paul Mills

Later in May, STTV erected wooden railings at the lock mooring below Hurleston bottom lock, where a small but steep and potentially slippery grass bank slopes down from the towpath to the mooring bollards themselves. Michael Haig

Maesbury Canal Festival September 6 & 7, 2014 With just over two months to go there is now only space for one or two more boats; so don't delay if you want to come by boat, get in touch as soon as possible. For those of you who live locally and don't plan to come by boat, we are also taking bookings (tickets available from Canal Central or by post from David 01691 830403) for the following evening entertainment: Friday September 5 at 7pm: Boaters, Volunteers and Friends Pre Festival Bash £10.00 per head to include supper (soup and spicy mixed bean casserole (V) or cottage pie with cheesy leek topping) and a quiz set by Mike and Sue Lambourne from Frankton. Saturday September 6 at 7pm: Open to all £12.50 per head to include supper (chicken curry or mushroom stroganoff plus a pudding) and entertainment by Libby Gliksman Summer 2014

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Back by popular demand, festival-goers will be entertained by Percussion Unlimited on Saturday and The Street Band on Sunday. Another returning attraction is the very popular dog show, organised by 'Beastly Thoughts' professional dog services, which will be on Sunday at noon. In a very welcome change this year, a local scout group will be organising the parking on site and at Peate's Mill, the official event car park. They are using the festival as part of their fund-raising effort to send a representative to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan in 2015, so expect them to be shaking their buckets! They will also be entertaining the crowds with their impressive drum group. Please support them. Festival Photographic Competition We hope to be able to create an exciting and interesting collage of pictures depicting the highlights of the festival and to do this we are holding a photographic competition. There will be a prize for the photograph which best captures the spirit of the event. Images (a maximum of 5 per person) must be submitted in digital format (preferably .jpeg) and can be landscape or portrait. Please send your name, telephone number and e-mail address with your photo to: shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk by 1st November 2014. By entering this competition you agree to your photographs being used in any future advertising. The best 2014 pictures will be displayed on the website www.maesburycanalfestival.co.uk. Silent Auction in support of the Festival Dave Walker, fender maker, has generously donated the following two fenders to be auctioned in support of the Maesbury Canal Festival, and to be collected at the event during the weekend September 6-7: One Long Button fender and one Button & Wings (tipcat) 6 sides Please indicate which fender (or both) you are interested in and send your sealed bid to: Button Auction, Pen-y-Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS by 1 August . As well as the amount of your bid please include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. For further details please contact Dawn Aylwin - 01691 830403 or visit www.maesburycanalfestival.co.uk DawnAylwin

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Audlem Gathering of Historic Boats 2014 July 26-27, 2014 Just over 50 boats have booked in to the Gathering of Historic Boats at Audlem on July 26-27, a record entry (nearly 50% up on last year). They range in age from the 1880s to about 1960, and include a wide variety – the usual large number of Grand Union and FMC boats, but also other fleets are represented – Cowburn & Cowpar, Midlands & Coast, Stewarts & Lloyds, Samuel Barlow Coal Company, and Thos. Clayton (Oldbury). Some boats of interest include Saturn, the only Shroppie fly-boat remaining as such; Gifford, the horse drawn tar boat; Ilford and Aquarius, carrying around 36 tons of loose coal to promote the extension of the Ashby Canal; Ian, the last wooden motor boat built; Tycho, an ice-breaker, still with its five foot steel ice-breaking ram on the bow; and Elizabeth, believed to be the oldest converted boat (the conversion is 80 years old, in art deco style). Whilst the boats will be in Audlem all weekend, the historic and classic car part of the Festival of Transport is on the Sunday afternoon only. Geoffrey Lewis, popular canal novelist, will be signing copies of his books at various times during the weekend at Audlem Mill. Peter Silvester

Whitchurch Gathering of Boats 2014 September 20-21, 2014 If you wish to book a boat in to the Whitchurch Boat Rally please be aware that we are restricted by space so don’t leave it too long before making up your mind. The same restriction applies to stalls and the spaces are rapidly diminishing. Details are available on our website www.whitchurchwaterway.org.uk where forms can be downloaded. Booking forms can also be obtained by contacting Lindsay Green, Chemistry Farm, Whitchurch. SY13 1BZ or telephone 01948 662779/07968 339335 or email chem1bz-wwt@yahoo.co.uk Our fund raising expert is working hard on our behalf and it is hoped to put a bid in to the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the latter part of the year with work starting in 2015. We have also been involved in a project headed by our local McDonalds to tidy up the section of Sandstone Trail between Chemistry Bridge and Meadowcroft Bridge. The bank above the footpath has been cleared and seeded with wild flowers and benches have been placed for weary walkers. We have mentioned that they will be underwater in the not too distant future. McDonalds has been very diligent in picking up any litter around the canal area for which we are very grateful.

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Tyrley Tattle After seventeen happy years at Tyrley this will be my last Tyrley Tattle before we move to Northamptonshire to take up residence in a house, near the River Nene, which has a much smaller garden for us to look after as we get older. It is interesting to reflect on the changes to the Shroppie which have taken place during the time we have spent here. There is noticeably less boat traffic than there used to be, whether this is general I don’t know, but my impression is that this section of the system has never really recovered from the long stoppage caused by the breach at Knighton in the height of the season in 2009. One consequence is that queues for the locks are almost a thing of the past. At one time the IWA had Tyrley Locks on its list of bottlenecks and certainly on at least a couple of times each summer boats could be seen queuing from the top lock back past the 48 hour and permanent moorings to Bridge 59. Now it is unusual to see even two boats waiting for the top lock unless there is a hold up for any reason. Other changes are more general but very noticeable when you live next to a lock flight. The operation of the waterway has altered significantly and whereas the locally based staff used to be seen here regularly cutting the grass in summer and carrying out other maintenance, much of the work is now contracted out and the directly employed staff work around the whole of the North Wales and Border Counties area as required. Much more efficient, no doubt, but one does miss people like “Reg the Dredge” who once sat here for three whole days doing nothing but read his newspaper and drink tea while he waited for a new bucket to be delivered for his dredger! Not something which would be tolerated nowadays, I feel. Health and Safety is now paramount, of course, at CRT in common with all large organisations. No longer do you see men working alone and, depending on the activity, groups of three are often necessary to comply with the rules for a particular job. The safety measures now taken when replacing lock gates are a wonder to behold compared with 15 years ago, when precautions to prevent people falling into the empty lock were minimal. All for the best, no doubt, but it does sometimes all seem to be rather over the top. Another noticeable change has been the increase in the number of live aboard boats. Unfortunately, a minority of these choose to disregard the idea of time limited visitor mooring like the 48 hour places at Tyrley and there is often at least one overstaying boat to be found here. Whilst this is not a problem when things are quiet it is annoying for cruising boats in the height of the season when visitor Shroppie Fly Paper

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moorings in this area are at a premium and it also reflects unfairly on the folk on the adjacent permanent moorings who have to pay for their spaces. Over the years I have written about the wildlife to be found here at Tyrley and this never ceases to surprise us. Interesting as it can be, it also gives rise to some annoyance, as in the last couple of weeks, when a badger decided to convert the lawn next to the house into a sieve. Goodness knows what it was digging for. Someone suggested bumble bees, but it certainly made the grass look unsightly. The unusual occurrence was one day last month when I went to climb aboard my narrowboat. There were several splashes between the boat and the bank and then I saw a fully grown grass snake swimming off down the canal. The past year has also seen a pair of magpies arrive as regular visitors, but until now they have rarely been seen in the garden. We did have a pleasant surprise in April when three mandarin ducks climbed out of the canal and walked to our pond for a swim which is the first time we have seen any here, no doubt they were looking for tadpoles. There has been a marked decline in the number of frogs using the pond to lay frog spawn. At one time up to thirty pairs could be seen mating but this number has steadily declined over the years and this year we only saw four pairs.

Mandarin ducks spotted at Tyrley Photo: Richard Hall

During my seventeen years here I have been a member of the BTO Garden Birdwatch scheme, for which members do a continuous bird count on a weekly basis. Based on the figures submitted I was very surprised last week to find that in the course of the 17 years I have recorded no less than fifty different species of bird, though not all have been regular visitors and some were definitely one off sightings, such as a flock of snipe that landed one day. A satisfying reminder of the delightful time spent living at Tyrley. Richard Hall Ed. Our thanks go to Richard. We will miss his regular news and views from Tyrley and wish him well in his new home

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CRT’s first welcome stations seek volunteers Canal & River Trust’s first welcome stations in the Shrewsbury & North Wales branch area are now open and are looking for volunteers to join the team. Based in key locations around the country, welcome stations are a new nationwide initiative from CRT, devised as places to introduce boaters, walkers and other canal visitors to the local waterways and nearby places of interest. The first welcome station on the Shropshire Union opened in April at Norbury Junction – in time for the Norbury Canal Festival – and others are now planned for Hurleston Locks, Llangollen Town and Trevor Basin. The site at Hurleston is expected to open in the second half of July. Thanks to volunteers from the water company United Utilities, which operates the neighbouring Hurleston Reservoir and has “adopted” the Hurleston lock flight, the former stables next to Hurleston top lock are being converted into a heritage site from which visitors will be able to get practical, useful information about the canals and increase their understanding of and affinity with the waterways. CRT plans to follow Hurleston by refurbishing the portable office at Llangollen, which many readers may recall as the place to pay Llangollen’s visitor mooring charges, and by incorporating welcome station materials into the Visitor Centre at Trevor Basin, which is primarily occupied by CRT’s Museums & Attractions team. Volunteering opportunities exist at all these locations, and CRT would especially like to hear from people with an interest in helping at the Llangollen and Trevor stations. CRT says, “You don’t have to be a waterways expert, but we are looking for people who are friendly and approachable.” Since those qualities surely apply to Shrewsbury & North Wales branch members – who are also knowledgeable, passionate and articulate about our local waterways – please consider helping both the IWA and CRT by giving a small amount of your time to this excellent idea. You can find out more by contacting our local North Wales & Border Waterways volunteer coordinator, Glenn Young, at glenn.young@canalrivertrust.org.uk, or apply online to the central volunteering team at http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/ volunteering. Michael Haig Shroppie Fly Paper

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The Prees Branch The original 1793 Ellesmere Canal Act provided for a branch which went to Whitchurch then rose through three locks and terminated at Prees Heath, but in 1795 John Duncombe, the company’s resident engineer, resurveyed the area and recommended a level route to Prees Heath past Edstaston (two miles north of the town of Wem) and then going a mile to the north of Prees but missing Whitchurch. This upset the Whitchurch lobby, of course, so the 1796 Act included both the Prees Branch and a branch from Whixall Moss to Whitchurch. The construction contract was let to Samuel Betton, and the branch was completed as far as Quina Brook, on the Wem-Whitchurch turnpike, in 1804 or 1805. The rest of the intended branch was never built. The principal traffic on the canal was limestone and coal to canalside kilns, where the limestone was converted into quicklime for spreading on fields in order to improve the yield of crops. The canal company built kilns at Quina Brook, though they were deemed to have ‘acted improperly’ because they built them on land belonging to Admiral George Bowen without getting his permission. A rent of 10 guineas a year was subsequently agreed. Over the years, five kilns were built at Quina Brook, at least two at Wrens Nest (half a mile west of Edstaston wharf), three at Waterloo and one by Starks Bridge (Whixall). Surprisingly, no evidence has been found for any limekilns at Edstaston, the principal wharf on the branch. Rural lime-kilns had largely fallen out of use by the 1860s.

Advertisement in the Chester Courant of 1 January, 1811 Courtesy of Peter Brown

Coal was brought in for use in the towns and also for brick-kilns, such as that canalside near Starks Bridge. There was a coal wharf with a weighbridge at Quina Brook and two coal businesses, probably also with a weighbridge, at Edstaston.

Thomas Whittle & Co’s advertisement of 1811 shows the types of traffic then passing through Edstaston wharf. Unlike a canal company’s list of tolls, which has to cover all eventualities, a carrier’s advertisement presumably gives a good guide to the traffic actually carried. Slates would have been brought along the coast to Summer 2014

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Chester from north Wales, and could obviously compete with those coming down the canal from Llangollen — perhaps the quality was higher. Kelp (seaweed) was used as a fertiliser and also had industrial uses. Although the list largely comprises agricultural products and timber, that is, traffic going out, records for other wharves serving towns show that it is probable that more goods for Wem came in than were dispatched. The Ellesmere Canal Company and its successor, the Ellesmere & Chester, were sensitive to issues of supply and demand and public pressures. For example, in 1816 the tonnage on grain, malt and flour boated from Edstaston to Chester was reduced from 2d to 1½d per ton per mile ‘upon this express condition that the traders charge no more than ten shillings per ton for the freight of these articles’. By ‘freight’ the company almost certainly meant the amount for carriage excluding the tonnage of 4s.10½d for the 39 mile journey, whereas the reference to ‘freight’ in Whittle’s advertisement included the tonnage.

Edstaston Wharf, with the line of the canal in the foreground Photo: Peter Brown

The products of the iron foundries of east Shropshire (now the Telford area) came by road to Edstaston, where they were transferred to a boat to be taken to Ellesmere Port then across to Liverpool. This traffic ended in 1835, when the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal opened, and canal transport could be used for the whole journey via Wappenshall, Norbury Junction and Nantwich.

The Ellesmere Canal had originally been intended to join Shrewsbury to Chester but the last eleven miles from Weston Lullingfields to Shrewsbury were never built, the company having exhausted its funds. In 1817 Thomas Telford was asked to appraise a horse-drawn tramroad connection from Edstaston to Shrewsbury, but he thought it would not cover its costs. Pigot’s 1835 directory entry for Shrewsbury states that Peter Hilton provides a daily carrier service from his warehouse in Bridge Place to Edstaston wharf, meeting Swanwick & Co’s fly-boats for Liverpool and Manchester, an example of integrated logistics. Richard Stedman also provided a carrier service from his house in Mardol to Edstaston wharf three or four times a week. Curiously, the entry for Wem does not mention Swanwick & Co — the canal carriers are given as Fairhurst, Tilston & Co and Turton & Co, both of whom provided a daily service.

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Although the Shropshire Union became the principal carrier on its canals in 1845, it was not until 1860 (two years after the railway through Wem was opened) that it started to operate the wharf at Edstaston itself. In 1872 it spent £210 on extending the warehouse and installing a new hoist; it also provided a new 3 ton crane at a cost of £80. As late as the 1890s, the Shropshire Union made a wharf beside Dobson’s Bridge, Whixall. A crane is also recorded by Starks Bridge. Nearby was a canalside malt kiln complex. Because of wartime cost inflation and growing competition from motor lorries, the Shropshire Union ceased carrying in its own boats in 1921. Private firms took over some of the boats, but they struggled to provide a viable service. The last recorded commercial traffic on the Prees Branch was in 1934: roadstone from Chirk to Whixall and coal from Tunstall to Waterloo wharf. Back in 1864 an agreement had been made to extract clay from land at Whixall for puddling the canal, then in 1911 an adjacent field was leased for its clay. A small tramroad, with the loaded wagons drawn by a winch, took the clay to the waiting maintenance boats. Despite the formal closure of the canal in 1944, this arrangement continued until the mid-1950s. For a couple of years after that, the clay was moved on-site by lorries. Extraction ceased about 1960, but in 1975 the flooded clay pit reopened with a new use as a marina, and the first mile of the canal was dredged. In 1972 dams were built at Waterloo Bridge and Boodles Bridge and a nature reserve created. Now owned by the Canal & River Trust, it is managed by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust and is now protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest containing such uncommon plants as monkey flower, frogbit, skullcap and water violet. The former canal to the east of Waterloo Bridge has now largely dried out; some has reverted to farmland. But why was the Prees Branch built? The Ellesmere Canal’s other branches had obvious purposes: to serve the market towns of Ellesmere and Whitchurch, and to access the valuable limestone quarries at Llanymynech — but the Prees Branch doesn’t even get to Prees, which then had a population numbering less than 1,500. Ostensibly it was to also serve the town of Wem, which had a similar size population. However, I suspect that the underlying reason was to improve the estates of one of the principal promoters of the Ellesmere Canal, John Hill (1740-1824) of Prees Hall — Sir John Hill after he had succeeded his brother as 3rd baronet in 1808. He was MP for Shrewsbury 1784-96 and 1805-6; never active, he gave ‘silent support’ to the Whig cause. A typical country squire, he was still foxSummer 2014

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hunting when he was 80. He fathered sixteen children, five of his sons, including Viscount Hill (commemorated by Lord Hill’s Column outside Shirehall in Shrewsbury) distinguishing themselves in the Napoleonic wars. John Hill attended 78 of the 102 committee meetings during the construction period of the Ellesmere Canal (1793-1805), more than any other member, and he chaired 24 of them, a number exceeded only by John Kynaston of Hardwick Hall (who chaired 32 meetings). Hill also chaired the first three and many subsequent General Meetings of the company. He was therefore well placed to influence the decisions. Peter Brown

Montgomery Triathlon 2014 The rain, wind and mud did not deter the participants or the volunteer marshals. The 3rd Montgomery Canal Triathlon attracted nearly 300 entrants from all corners of England and Wales. Over 200 attempted the whole course, and most of them successfully completed it.

Wet but happy: Richard Parry and family members complete the canoeing leg Photo: Peter Richards

Jean Ashley from Malpas, Cheshire, reached Frankton locks in only 5¼ hours, half an hour faster than the previous record. Some took twice as long, but succeeded in raising considerable sums for their charities.

Other notable achievements include: • Moses Tumukende, of Newtown, who set himself the target of running all 35 miles and beating the triathletes. He succeeded in a time of 4 hours 48 minutes •The youngest competitor was 2 year old Scarlett Carter, with a bit of help from her capable parents, and the bravest was David Greenwood, a blind veteran who reached the Border with the help of a guide on a tandem, and in a 2-seater kayak. • The Liverbirds team, who entered on a tandem and used an inflatable canoe, raising over £800 for the Midlands Air Ambulance.

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We were pleased to have CRT's Richard Parry take part, with his brother-in-law and niece. Richard not only completed the triathlon in a very respectable time, but also recovered enough to present the commemorative medallions after the event. We would like to say many thanks to all the branch members who volunteered. Your help was much appreciated and we hope to see you again at next year’s triathlon on May 9, 2015. Dawn Aylwin and Peter Richards

Montgomery Canal Forum – Restoring the Montgomery Canal It was most appropriate that Restoration was the theme for the Montgomery Canal Forum on 2 June 2014 because shortly beforehand John Dodwell, a trustee of the Canal & River Trust, had started the process of letting water into the latest section to be restored, a length of the canal which had been derelict for over 60 years. Speakers told the Forum what had been done over the years by volunteers of Waterway Recovery Group and Shropshire Union Canal Society as their contribution to bringing the canal back to life, with pictures showing dereliction before work started, volunteers at work, and the finished canal. Some of these were of the length from Welsh Frankton to Maesbury, which is visited by hundreds of boats each year and will be busy on the first weekend in September with the Maesbury Canal Festival. Alex Ball from Canal & River Trust told of the progress with the Heritage Lottery Fund project, where the coming months will be taken preparing the submission for the full grant, on a project which should deliver another length of restored canal and additional nature reserves in Shropshire, habitat works on both sides of the border, and a number of community projects. Michael Limbrey

Thanks for supporting the Acheman Challenge IWA's national fundraising officer, Toby Gomm, has written to thank those branch members who supported the IWA head office Acheman Challenge team, which successfully completed a 50-mile quadrathlon along the Grand Union Canal in April. The team completed the challenge in 10¾ hours, raising £13,495 towards the cost of a new excavator for IWA's Waterway Recovery Group. Summer 2014

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Branch Lock Wind - Hurleston Bottom Lock August 2-3, 2014 This year the annual Lock Wind will again be at Hurleston Bottom Lock, during the first weekend in August when we hope there will be lots of boaters cruising up and down the Llangollen Canal. The lock wind is one of our major fund raising events so please support your branch. As we have recently committed money to match-funding for two HLF grants in our area we need to earn as much as we can.

Scene at the 2013 lock wind Photo: Michael Haig

We really do need your assistance not only to help wind locks but to provide lots of things to sell; any surplus fruit and vegetables from your garden, home-made cakes, pies, pickles and jam are very popular and every year we run out of supplies. If you can spare the time we would welcome your contributions and especially your presence. A little more help would be appreciated even if it is just an hour or two!

You are very welcome to join us by boat but please let me know beforehand as CRT have asked how many boats are likely to attend. There is plenty of mooring space on the main Shropshire Union with room to turn round if you need to return to your mooring after the event. You are equally welcome if you come by car. There is plenty of parking space on the old road which is just after Snugbury's Ice Cream shop on the A51 Chester & Tarporley road out of Nantwich. You can't miss it. Just turn off the main road by the 'Free Range Eggs' sign, park, then walk down to the bridge and turn right along the tow path. It's not just a working weekend! The lock wind is a social event giving an opportunity to meet and talk with fellow canal enthusiasts, so please come and enjoy the fun. We look forward to seeting you all. Dawn Aylwin

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Montgomery Canal Rewatering Redwith Bridge to Pryce's Bridge - June 2014

A CRT excavator removes the clay dam to allow the Montgomery Canal waters to reach the stop planks at Redwith Bridge Photo: Dave Peters

John Dodwell (left) and Mike Friend prepare to lift the top stop plank at Redwith Bridge Photo: D. Aylwin

Mike Friend steers nb Montgomery, the first boat down the newly rewatered length, carrying a barrel of ale generously gifted by the Cross Keys in Llanymynech to the volunteers who had worked on the length Photo: Michael Limbrey

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Norbury Canal Festival 2014

Councillor Leon Murray, Mayor of Telford,accompanied by Mrs Murray, formally unveils a new information plaque with SNCT chairman, Bernie Jones Photo: John Myers

Graham Hayward on nb Hakuna Matata, awarded "best decorated boat" of the festival. Photo: Michael Haig

SNCT volunteers with their popular trip boat, loaned by Norbury Wharf, which carried hundreds of visitors during the festival. Photo: John Myers

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2014 06 Shroppie Fly Paper  

Shroppie Fly Paper is the newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of The Inland Waterways Association.