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Winners and Losers At every canal festival and rally the boaters who attend can usually enter various competitions â€“ from the best kept engine room to the boat which travelled the furthest to attend. However the two events last September at Maesbury and Whitchurch each had only one: the best decorated boat. The theme at the Maesbury Canal Festival celebrated the opening of the new length of the Montgomery Canal and was entitled 'Go The Extra Mile', and no, it wasn't actually a mile and no, boaters couldn't actually cruise down to Pryce's Bridge. However this did not deter the boat decorators. Two boaters had similar ideas - a life sized model of a canal worker taking a well earned rest - however the judge, Ian Easby, our local CRT Waterway Manager, decided nb Carmel owned by David Koring was the winner. At Whitchurch the theme of 'horse' produced a wide variety of decorations. Romping in last and loosing the race were the Whitchuch Whelpies. Not so well known as the Kelpies but just as scary, these mythical creatures may be seen prancing on the grassy patch near the lift bridge in the light of a full moon particularly when viewed through the bottom of an empty pint glass. Please report any further sightings so records can be kept up to date. And finally, on a more serious note,one other important winner: branch member Sue Russell from Church Minshull was crowned Brain of Monty 2014. Congratulations Sue. Dawn Aylwin
nb Carmel's winning entry at Maesbury, left, and the Whitchurch Whelpies, below.
FRONT COVER: CRACKER, guided by Stephen Rees-Jones, pulling nb Saturn at Frankton Locks en route to Maesbury - PhotoPage by Harry Arnold/waterwayimages.com Autumn/Winter 2014 Shroppie Fly Paper
The Editor's cut... Each year, the autumn issue of Shroppie Fly Paper gives us an opportunity to reflect on the busy summer months now passed and to gather our thoughts for the year ahead. The boating season drawing to a close has been blessed (save for August) with prolonged spells of excellent summer weather and we hope that those of you with boats have enjoyed good times aboard them and perhaps visited some of the events that took place around the glorious waterways in our area. We were fortunate this year to have a particularly important event on our doorstep: the national AGM hosted by our neighbouring branch in Leek. The recurring theme, both in the morning session's discussion groups and in national chairman Les Etheridge's AGM presentation, was the hugely important role the IWA's membership has in the Association's work and how the IWA can better engage with both existing and prospective members to further that. In particular, the morning discussion groups explored ideas for engaging with a younger demographic, who are vital for the future of the IWA as a representative voice for all waterway users. It is apparent to most observers that, with the successful transition of former BW waterways to Canal & River Trust, the backdrop to the IWA's activities has changed enorrmously - mostly for the better - and there is general agreement that we need to change our style from the one that has served for almost 70 years in order to reflect that. So it is encouraging to hear about the activities of those such as the energetic IWA members behind nb Wandering Duck (pages 18-19) and to see the amount of enthusiasm they are putting in to attracting a new, younger audience to the waterways. Enjoy the magazine, and do come along to our events! Michael Haig
Autumn - Winter - Spring Highlights p16: p20: p27: p17: p9:
Nov 10 Jan 3 Feb 23 Mar 21 May 16
Autumn social and talk with John Yates in Shrewsbury Winter walk at Chirk Quiz night at Maestermyn Marina, Whittington Talk & walk the Shrewsbury & Newport after our AGM Top of the World tour, Anderton Lift & Weaver boat trip
Next copy date: March 15, 2015 Autumn/Winter 2014
Printed by Downstream Ltd, Nantwich
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The Branch Committee President & Chairman Vice Chairman
Michael Limbrey, Fulshaw House, Llanymynech SY22 6EN 01691 839992 email@example.com David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 firstname.lastname@example.org NW Region Chairman Alan Platt, Argoed, Pen y Cefn Road, Caerwys, Flintshire CH7 5BH 01352 720649 email@example.com Secretary & Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS Membership Sec. 01691 830403 firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer Denis Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DL 01270 811157 email@example.com Heritage & Peter Brown, 34 Waterside Drive, Market Drayton TF9 1HU Planning Officer 01630 652567 firstname.lastname@example.org Webmaster Alan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359650 email@example.com Newsletter Editor & Michael Haig, 7 Barnton Edge, Stone ST15 8ZR NW Region Rep. 01785 813550 firstname.lastname@example.org Social Secretary Val Haig, 7 Barnton Edge, Stone ST15 8ZR 01785 813550 email@example.com Navigation Officer Fiona Pearson, 1 Inglis Road, Park Hall, Oswestry SY11 4AN 01691 662109 firstname.lastname@example.org Committee Members Hugh Appleton, 1 Maes Dinas, Llanfechain, SY22 6YR 01691 828124 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org Susan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359 650 email@example.com Branch Web pages
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 Indefatigable gets a score of 20 in Scrabble. It's a good score for our branch committee too: I don't think you could find a bunch less defatigable. Just look at all the reports in these pages to see what's been going on this summer. With a branch covering a large area – over 150 miles of canal either navigable or in a restoration project – the branch has spread itself around, taking the IWA message to Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, Hurleston, Maesbury … the list goes on. As we look outwards, what is that IWA message? We care for our canals and want others to do so too. A recent IWA Press Release highlights the activities of Waterway Recovery Group, who obviously care for our canals: they reckon there were “a staggering 15,000 hours of canal restoration” with volunteers aged from their late teens to their 70s, including 14 from the continent. One of these continental visitors was at Meretown Lock when we presented the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust with a donation to support their work. From the earliest days IWA has been committed to reopening lost waterways and you will have seen that your autumn issue of Waterways included tickets for the IWA’s Restoration Raffle. The aim is to raise £10,000 for restoration, and as I write it looks as though the target will be exceeded. You can choose a project when you buy a ticket and the proceeds will be shared between them. Currently, the Shropshire Union Canal Society is one of the bigger beneficiaries, and the Shrewsbury & Newport is coming up on the outside! More tickets? – ask for more or buy online – use the IWA website if you can or 'phone (01494 783453 ext. 611). Outside our branch area, but very important to the network, has been the IWA's success, with CRT, with proposals for HS2 to safeguard the Trent & Mersey at Fradley, a spot I have no doubt many branch members have visited this summer. As with the mid-Wales wind-farm and pylons, so with HS2: it is not IWA's job to challenge the project itself except where it adversely impacts on our waterways. And the pylon debate continues: the informal pre-submission consultation has ended and now comes the formal pre-submission consultation! Later this year National Grid will give details of the proposed route: will there be any greater protection to the Montgomery Canal, especially Carreghofa?
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In our branch area, Peter Brown has been giving his usual attention to planning proposals: since we care for the canals it is important that we should comment on developments near a waterway. Too late really can be too late and the canal can be blighted for ever. A branch member drew our attention to Lidl's proposal for a new store in Welshpool. Lidl says “the proposed store will not have any direct access to the canal and will be screened from view by the existing trees”. Is this the best way to enhance Welshpool, creating a tree-lined corridor hiding the canal from the town, and the town from the canal? In Ellesmere, there is the long-expected outline planning application for housing and a hotel/marina/leisure complex alongside the canal (see Peter Brown’s commentary on page 20). It seems that many in the town favour the plan. It will certainly change the canal and the town: will it enhance both? Are there other proposals out there which may affect our waterways, directly or indirectly? There may be a local exhibition for a major scheme – like Lidl in Welshpool, developers often use them to explain their plans and may even change them in the light of the responses they get. It would be helpful to know about any proposal that you feel may impact on the canals, so do let me know. Can't we leave all this to the Canal & River Trust now? The short answer is 'no'. CRT is entitled to be told of any application near one of their waterways and now – in a change from the old BW practice of commenting only on technical issues – is more likely to consider itself guardian of the 'canalscape', and may comment on matters of appearance. However you – and we – may consider that the canal is affected where a council or CRT do not think so. And where is IWA now we have CRT? The Canal & River Trust is obviously the fulfilment of a long-standing IWA vision, and IWA has worked with CRT on the HS2 project and at the Water Adds Value conference in May – and we have nearly lost count of the number of times Chief Executive Richard Parry has visited our area! With the new Trust, and the widespread recognition of the value of our waterways, we don't have to campaign as we did years ago. However IWA has much experience and many skills – and of course members who are out on the canals all the time. It was said at our National AGM in Leek that CRT may view the waterways from the bank but the IWA views them from the centre of the track. There is an important debate about how the Association can develop, with many exciting ideas which can benefit our waterways and their communities: you will be hearing more as they evolve. Michael Limbrey – Branch Chairman Shroppie Fly Paper
Region Chairman writes It has been a busy summer; elsewhere I write about the Maesbury Festival, brilliantly organised by the Friends of the Montgomery and the branch, and before that members helped out with another well-supported Monty Triathlon. There has been a lock wind at Hurleston and attendances at Norbury and Whitchurch rallies, again both based on active restoration projects, and our thanks are due to those who made these successful. Our neighbours in Chester staged a stunningly effective Campaign Rally to promote the reopening of the Dee Branch and to work towards the achievement of navigation on the River Dee above the weir in Chester. Elsewhere in this issue your branch chairman casts his net wide and comments on some of the broader aspect of the IWA as next year the branch celebrates its 40th anniversary and nationally we approach our 70th birthday. There is a temptation to look back, to celebrate our past achievements, and while this is understandable there is a trap there that I am nervous of falling into, of living in the past. The IWA was founded as a campaigning body and I think that still lies at the heart of our purpose, but we need to address the challenges and issues of today and the future. Rolt, Aickman and the other founders lived and worked in an era of official indifference towards the waterways. The precursors of today’s Canal & River Trust were to some extent the enemy, against whom they had to campaign for the right of navigation and against closures. Today we work together with CRT – and an excellent example of this is to the south of our area where, jointly with CRT, we have persuaded HS2 to alter the line of its proposed crossings above Fradley and saved a beautiful part of the network from potential ruin. This was no token partnership. The initial drive and the germ of the alternative engineering plan came from the IWA and we needed the greater technical resources of CRT to succeed, but without the IWA this would not have happened. At the same time as working with CRT we also act as an independent watchdog; the term ‘Critical Friend’ was not liked by some within CRT but I thought it served one of our roles well, and of course in a national context we are concerned and campaigning for the 40 per cent of the waterways not (yet) under CRT control. Restoration is another area where the IWA leads and this is acknowledged by the Autumn/Winter 2014
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joint working party which assists with CRTâ€™s emerging interest in that area. There has been a growth in work parties organised by CRT and this is to be applauded, but we must remember that IWA, through branches and specifically the Waterway Recovery Group, has been and is there already. We have a different perspective, as a totally voluntary and democratic association, and as a member of the local CRT Partnership I am very aware of the different ethos between us. So in my opinion we have a role and a place in the present and the future of the waterways; we need to engage for example with the many boaters who are not members, and we need to ensure that people are aware of us and what we are about. This may be a matter of selling ourselves better and emphasising our relevance to the present as well as our importance in the past. Meanwhile the evenings draw in, the heating goes on, and many of us with boats tuck them away for the winter. I guess this means Christmas approaches; please join in the branchâ€™s social activities and have a good one. Alan Platt
Membership Matters We are delighted to welcome the following new members who have joined the branch since the summer edition of this magazine and look forward to meeting you all at one of our forthcoming events. Ms Andrews from St Georges, Telford; Mr & Mrs Brandreth from Leighton Buzzard; Mr & Mrs Done from Oswestry; Mr Francis from Rhewl; Mr & Mrs Gaston from Telford; Mrs Harman from Ellesmere; Mr & Mrs Knight from Tyrley; Mr & Mrs Lowe from Horsehay, Telford; Ms Ormerod from Gorsedd, Holywell; Mr Perry & Mr Stephens from Braintree; Mrs Rowell from Chirk; Mr Schofield from Buckley; Mr Snelling from Bicton Heath; Mr Stiff & Ms Wardman from Audlem; Mr Treagust from Donnington; Mr Smith from Newcastle-on-Clun. A massive thank you to everyone who volunteered to help out at events during the summer. The lock wind (covered on pages 14-15) and Maesbury festival (pages 22-23) were great successes thanks to all our helpers - the weekends wouldn't have run so smoothly without you. Finally thank you for supporting and helping on the branch stall at the Whitchurch Gathering of Boats. Please continue to support branch activities and events where we take the branch stall; we really do need and appreciate your help. Dawn Aylwin Shroppie Fly Paper
Have you ever wanted to see the Anderton boat lift up close? Now you can! We have arranged a "Top of the World" tour and a boat trip on the Anderton Lift and the River Weaver on Saturday May 16, 2015. The outing has been organised in conjunction with the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust, so we anticipate considerable demand for the limited number of places. The Top of the World (TotW) tour is open to up to 16 people (in two groups of 8). It will take you along the aqueduct and into the previously unseen control room and machine deck. As it takes you to the top of the lift it is not suitable for anyone with a fear of heights and there are steps to climb. The two tours will be in the late morning and you will be allocated a tour time when booking. After the tour and lunch, there will be a boat trip down the lift and along the river. This begins at 2.15pm and gets back at approximately 3.30pm. Thirty places have been reserved on the boat but if there is sufficient early interest we can try to increase these numbers. The costs per person are £10 for the Top of the World tour and £9.75 for the boat trip (or, yes, £19.75 for both). There is also a free exhibition, focusing upon the lift’s history and the people who worked on and around it. The lift control centre is located within the exhibition, enabling visitors to get up close and personal with the lift on its busy daily schedule. There is also a coffee shop on site. You will need to arrange transport to and from Northwich independently and we will offer suggestions for lunch venues when you reserve your places. Please book early, especially for the TotW tour as it is anticipated that this will fill up fast. Our spring social event in 2014 was over-subscribed, so, while we know some of you find it difficult to make diary commitments, please don't leave it too late! To reserve your place on the TotW tour please send your details and a cheque for £10 (made payable to Inland Waterways Association) to 7 Barnton Edge, Stone ST15 8ZR. Please indicate if you and/or another member of your party wish to take the boat trip as well. Payment for the boat trip will be due by Friday, April 10 (the Friday after Easter) at the latest, though if you wish to pay for both the tour and the boat trip at the outset that would ease our administration. Val Haig Autumn/Winter 2014
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WRG at Meretown Lock Meretown Lock at Newport, Shropshire, hasn’t seen the light of day since the 1960s. Following the abandonment of the Newport Canal in 1944 it was dammed, infilled and ‘lost’ at the north eastern end of the surviving stretch of water, retained as a linear fishing pond, alongside which a well-used former towpath crosses immediately below the lock making an attractive circular walk back into the town. Things changed dramatically in January 2014 with the arrival of a weekend work party from IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) followed by a week-long work camp in August at the invitation of the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust (SNCT). In January WRG exposed the outline of the lock chamber brickwork in preparation for the Michael Limbrey presents IWA's donation to SNCT chairman Bernie Jones Photo: Susan Wilding second, 18-strong party, led by Bob Crow of Colchester, which included volunteers from far and wide - a young man from Spain (improving his English) and three Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award participants. They were able to expose more of the Meretown lock chamber and demolish the concrete dam and several courses of bulging brickwork in the offside wall. This was rebuilt and capped off with new bull-nosed engineering headers. Clearance of the lock head culverts and extensive scrub clearance of dry channel above was also achieved. During the work, the chairman and several members of the branch visited the lock bringing a donation of £450 towards the cost of plant hire. Bernie Jones, chairman of SNCT, accepting the cheque from IWA branch chairman Michael Limbrey, said there had been an extremely good reaction to the initiative with further support received from Newport Town Council. He said SNCT had spent in the region of £2,000 at Meretown and further money would be raised for re-watering. An interpretive board is being erected alongside the lock and SNCT has now begun re-instating the ‘Golden Triangle’ – a locally renowned area of prolific primroses bounded by the canals to Norbury and Gnosall and the railway back to Newport. Our presentation was prominently featured in the Shropshire Star and a video entitled Meretown Lock 2014 can be found on YouTube. Alan Wilding Shroppie Fly Paper
Are queues too long? The Llangollen Canal is the busiest narrow canal in the country. Most boaters can tell you tales about how long queues can be at the locks, and the impression is that if another marina were built the problem would become intolerable. But what is the truth? Are long queues really a problem and when do they occur? A joint IWA/SUCS survey at Grindley Brook tried to establish the facts. Grindley Brook was chosen because it was thought that the staircase of three locks, with a further three single locks below, caused the worst hold-ups, though New Marton locks are slightly busier. The first three weeks of the summer school holidays were chosen because it was assumed (rightly) that they were three of the busiest of the year. A team of volunteers counted the length of the queues, both going down and going up, every half hour from 9am until 5pm. Also, if it was evident that a descending boat would be delayed for a significant time, the time elapsed between when it arrived and when it entered the top lock was recorded. (This required some estimation, but should be accurate to within ten minutes.) The weather was generally excellent, with just one wet morning and two other days with occasional showers.
Grindley Brook staircase Photo: Peter Brown
The results A total of 454 boats descended during the three weeks, an average of 21 a day, though the range was between 12 and 32. Of these, seven (1.5%) had to wait more than two hours, the longest time being 2 hours 43 minutes, and a further sixteen (3.5%) had to wait at least one hour but less than two hours. But it is striking that the worst 13 delays were all on the same afternoon, a Wednesday. Because of the layout of the locks it was not practicable to calculate the actual delay times for ascending boats, but the data for boats below the staircase shows that it is probable that there were long delays on just two afternoons, a Thursday and a Wednesday (but not the same Wednesday as for the descending boats).
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For descending boats, none were waiting at just over half of the counting times. One, two or three boats were waiting at 41% of the counts. Four or more boats were waiting at only 6% of the counts and half of these occasions were on that bad Wednesday afternoon, the longest recorded queues being seven boats. For ascending boats, each half hour a count was made of the number of boats waiting below the staircase, the number in the three single locks or the pounds between them, and the number waiting below the bottom lock. At 17% of the counts no boats were present but at 11% there were six or more boats in total. On two occasions the total was nine and the biggest total was eleven. There was a slight indication that hire-boaters tended to incur the longest waits. Both descending and ascending, afternoons were usually busier than mornings. The Grindley Brook lock-keepers record the total number of boats each way each day. Between late May and mid-August this showed that Wednesday tended to be the busiest day but the down and up movements were reasonably balanced; Thursday and to a lesser extent Friday were the busiest for descending boats; and Sunday and to a lesser extent Monday were the busiest for ascending boats. Conclusions A headline ‘Boats wait up to two & a half hours at Grindley Brook’ would be true but misleading. In reality the great majority of boats waited for less than half an hour and many had no wait at all. What is striking is how unpredictable queueing is, beyond saying that it is much more likely to happen in the afternoon. It all depends on exactly when boats arrive at each end. A very heavy flow in one direction causes little queueing, as the boats follow each other through the flight. To have a problem there must be a heavy flow in one direction and a fair flow in the other, as then the policy of allowing only three boats one way if a boat is waiting at the other end causes the queue to build up in the quarter hour it then takes that other boat to come through. The lock-keepers keep the boats moving well and prevent arguments. In addition, pressure has been reduced by most hire companies' encouragement of some weekly hirings to start on a Friday or a Sunday instead of the traditional Saturday. Thus, perhaps disappointingly for some readers, the survey has not shown an overwhelming justification for opposing new marinas purely on the grounds of congestion. My thanks to everybody who took part — without you there would have been no survey. My thanks also to the lock-keepers and CRT volunteers who made us welcome.
Peter Brown Shroppie Fly Paper
Royal Recognition for the Audlem Lass Now in the fourth year of operation, the Audlem Lass team were proud to receive royal recognition for their creative fundraising activities which include developing the Audlem Lass water taxi service that operates at weekends from OverWater Marina to the local canalside village of Audlem, Cheshire. Rodney & Christine Cottrell, the driving force behind Audlem Lass, were guests at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 3 June, hosted by RNLI president, HRH Prince Michael, Duke of Kent. The event was held to recognise the continued support and level of commitment shown by the RNLI fund raising teams all over the country.
The Audlem Lass team at OverWater Photo: OverWater
At a further prestigious RNLI ceremony held at York Racecourse on 29 June, RNLI Crewe & Nantwich Branch committee members, Philip & Penny Everall, were very honoured to receive an award that highlights the appreciation for their branch's unsurpassed fundraising efforts to help save lives at sea. These awards are only given in truly deserving cases and reflect the dedication of past and present members and volunteers who continue to pledge their support. Following the third extremely successful Audlem RNLI Festival, attracting 1,500 visitors and achieving ÂŁ4,000 for this event alone, the Audlem Lass team are extremely proud of this recognition and their certificate is now on display at OverWater Marina. Alexandra Davis
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Hurleston boost to canal restoration funds The branch held another very successful annual lock wind at Hurleston Locks on the first weekend in August, raising several hundred pounds towards the major canal restoration projects in the branch’s area. Over twenty volunteers, including some members of neighbouring IWA branches and some non-members, helped almost 85 boats to transit the locks at the junction of the Llangollen and Shropshire Union canals. A highlight of the weekend was the passage of the 108-year old restored Shroppie fly-boat Saturn, bow hauled through the flight (by none other than John Yates, who delivers the talk at our Autumn Social Meeting on November 10) and preceded by her motor, the historic working boat Plover. Although boat movements were less than at last year’s event, perhaps due to heavy rain on the Saturday, boaters again contributed generously and both donations and sales of produce, books and the branch’s 2015 pictorial calendars raised more funds than in previous years. Although the weather scotched our plans for a communal barbecue Photo: Michael Haig evening amongst the volunteers who arrived by boat, we were at least lucky that the branch’s boat-borne gazebo, display tables, banners and all the other paraphernalia of the stall arrived in the nick of time on the Friday afternoon and could be assembled in the dry. Fly boat Saturn and motor Plover arrive at Hurleston
We were particularly pleased too with the amount of volunteer support that we received, which enabled us to assist boats not just at the bottom lock but also further up the flight. Given the need to keep boats moving efficiently in both directions, as well as to have a friendly interaction with passing crews, the extra help was much appreciated and, as can be gathered from the kind letter opposite, contributed immensely to the fun of the occasion. As ever, we are also indebted to those who kindly produced jams, cakes and other home-made produce for us to sell. Without their efforts and generosity the success of the lock wind would be much diminished.
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Finally our thanks go to our ‘host’ for the weekend, CRT’s always good-natured lock keeper Martin, who wryly observed at the end of it all that he wished our volunteers could be present more often at busy weekends during the summer season. Kind words, but I’m not too sure that the wallets of the passing boaters would agree with you there, Martin! Michael Haig We were delighted to receive this letter from two of our volunteers and are pleased to reproduce it as it captures the social side of the event - Ed. To the lock wind organisers, We had set off to visit the lock wind simply to contribute some paperback books to your stall and to hand over the large bag of postage stamps which we had been collecting. We arrived just before lunchtime and were given a very warm welcome. Tom volunteered our services to operate the locks (as we miss doing this now we no longer have our own boat), the weather was glorious and we soon relieved a couple of volunteers who were due a lunch break. Then we were hooked! – and spent the remainder of the afternoon helping boats through the locks. Photo: Michael Haig There was some excitement when Saturn locks up Hurleston historic boats Plover and Saturn arrived and were duly helped on their way to Maesbury for their next event. Later a request went out “where can we buy an onion ?” by a boater in the lock and within minutes one was magically produced by one of the volunteers whose boat was moored nearby. I reckon that was the most expensive onion ever as we held them “hostage” whilst a suitable donation was made!! It was all in good fun and there was much good natured banter with passing boaters. We were very pleased to be able to participate and both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We even enjoyed a nice cup of tea and some of Janet’s lockwind fruit cake! Thanks to all, Claire and Tom Baker Autumn/Winter 2014
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IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch 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. email@example.com
Subject to identifying sufficient content, the branch hopes to produce a commemorative issue of Shroppie Fly Paper to mark its 40th anniversary in 2015. If you have any material that you think might be suitable, please contact the editor (details on page 4). Thank you.
Diary 2014 November 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.
Christmas Fair & Car Boot Sale at Church Minshull Aqueduct Marina.
Branch business meeting at Narrowboat Inn, Whittington SY11 4NU.
Diary 2015 January 3
Winter Walk. 10.45am start. A circular route based on The Poachers, Chirk LL14 8DG. See page 20 for details.
Branch business meeting at Horse & Jockey, Whitchurch SY13 4QJ
Quiz Night at Narrowboat Inn, Whittington SY11 4NU. See page 27
Branch AGM at The Coracle Inn, Sundorne Road, Shrewsbury SY1 4RR, followed by a talk, lunch and optional walk. See opposite page.
Mar 22-Apr 19
Canal Art Exhibition at Audlem Mill. The largest collection of canal and waterway paintings and other art works in Britain - at least 140 from more than 15 artists. All items are for sale.
Nantwich Jazz, Blues & Music Festival. www.nantwichjazz.com
Branch business meeting at Narrowboat Inn, Whittington SY11 4NU.
Rag Rugging course at Audlem Mill. wwww.audlemmill.co.uk
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Norbury Canal Festival. All boats welcome - boaters' meal and goodie bags. For boat bookings contact harbourmaster Ray Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07981 334282.
Montgomery Canal Triathlon - organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal with support from the branch. An endurance challenge for competitors but an interesting and enjoyable day for the marshals, so if you are able to help for just an hour or two please get in touch with Dawn Aylwin.
Social outing to Anderton Lift, including a chance to experience the Top of the World Tour. Limited places - see page 9.
Boat Fender Making: two-day course at Audlem Mill
Middlewich FAB (Folk & Boat) Festival - 25th Anniversary www.midfest.org.uk
Jul 11-Aug 2
Eric Gaskell Linocuts Exhibition at Audlem Mill
Audlem Gathering of Historic Narrowboats and Festival of Transport. For boat bookings call Peter Silvester at Audlem Mill on 01270 811059. Spaces limited.
IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Notice is hereby given for the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of the Inland Waterways Association to be held at The Coracle Inn, Sundorne Road, Shrewsbury SY1 4RR on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10.45am
The meeting will be followed by a presentation from Bernie Jones, chairman of the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust, and after lunch there will be an opportunity to walk the waterway, which is close to the venue. SNCT intends to unveil its latest interpretive sign describing the Sundorne length at the event. All branch members are very welcome to attend the AGM and we hope to meet as many of you as possible. The formal notice of the AGM agenda will be posted on the branch's web page in due course (www.waterways.org.uk/shrewsbury) VOLUNTEERING You will find reports of various volunteer activities that have been taking place in our branch area on pages 26 and 27 of this issue . If you would like to get involved in future activities please contact: STTV: Paul Mills, 0151 336 1049, email@example.com or Maurice Ward, 01942 260459 / 07791 350207, firstname.lastname@example.org SUMBA: Graham Russell, 01270 522731 / 07853 275222, email@example.com
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Wandering Duck hostel boat heads to Llangollen! Mark Bratt and nb Wandering Duck ventured outside their normal cruising comfort zone onto the Llangollen Canal this summer. Here is their story... I suppose I should start with a little about Wandering Duck. We're a kind of modern day take on the original hostel boats that ceased operating in the late '70s. We take individuals on two- or three-night mini-adventures on the canals. We also run private charters; groups such as hen weekends, families, or walking groups can book us for a weekend. Our base is at Bugsworth Basin on the Upper Peak Forest. This year, our third season, we decided to try a longer trip. On September 13 we embarked on an eight night one-way adventure from Castlefield Basin in Manchester to Llangollen. We had four paying guests on this trip (we can take a maximum of eight): a couple in their thirties, and two women in their sixties who both booked independently. Castlefield Basin is a great place to start a canal boat experience. To me it's the canalsâ€™ birthplace the first true canal and home to the oldest of the UK's canal warehouses. But it's also adapted beautifully to modern city living. You could sit at a bar overlooking the water without beginning to appreciate that this basin was the start of a new industrialised world which led to the regular working week and eventually the very reason you now enjoy your Friday after-work pint. Getting high - The Duck at Hurleston
Photo: Mark Bratt
As we depart Manchester the blend of modern apartments combines with industrial wasteland, decaying warehouses and graffiti. Quite a contrast to what lies ahead! When we arrived at the Llangollen Canal I was immediately struck by a huge number of people in bright jackets brandishing tools and brushes. Was this a mass community service project? No, it appears that the Small Tasks Team Vounteers are a thriving bunch who meet regularly to undertake very well thought out projects. We have a couple of volunteer groups in Manchester too, but the work going on here at Hurleston Junction involved some very skilled labour and some some serious machinery. I would love to see this kind of stuff happening in Manchester. The Llangollen Canal is different to anything else we have experienced. It's busy Shroppie Fly Paper
with hire boats, and moorings are pretty much restricted to 48 hours. The canal is in exceptional condition. I am sure that this canal acts as a great model for other canal societies. But it also felt all too easy. It was controlled, lots of signage to make it work efficiently. I somehow felt that we had lost the sense of adventure that comes from cruising the shallow and overgrown Peak Forest, or the unloved Ashton Canal. The stretch of canal from Chirk to Llangollen really made the entire journey worthwhile. Of course, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was our big reason to visit Llangollen in the first place and it didn't disappoint. The canals in general may seem rather uneventful to the average passer-by. Yet travelling across the aqueduct feels like we're flying through the sky, and as I stand on the edge of the cruiser stern I have a feeling in my stomach that takes me back to Alton Towers. I try to enjoy the moment but in my excitement I'm taking photos and videos on my camera and my phone to satisfy every social media channel and potential promotional opportunity I can think of. I had no preconceived ideas of what the remaining journey between Trevor and Llangollen might be like. However our last day from The Sun at Trevor to Llangollen was spectacular. We were fortunate to experience a misty morning which made for a magical view across the hilly landscape. We were certainly not in England any more. In fact, Austria and Switzerland were mentioned as we made effort to Higher still! Duck meets aqueduct Photo: Mark Bratt compare. The winding narrows were great fun and challenging in a 69ft narrowboat and the water was clearer than anything I've ever seen on any canal, owing to the fact that it's fed from the river. I think it's fair to say that the trip exceeded the expectations of us and our guests. In Llangollen we went our own ways for a few hours to either enjoy the various tea houses and pubs of the quaint little Welsh town, or to venture along the remaining stretch of shallow canal to Horseshoe Falls, either drawn by horse-drawn boat or on foot. We met for one final meal at the wonderful Corn Mill pub where we reflected on the journey and discussed what next yearâ€™s big adventure might be. The Duck's adventures can be followed at www.wanderingduck.co.uk. The boat features in a campaign by STA Travel and Visit Britain to highlight how exciting the UK can be for travellers in the 18-to-30-something age group.
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Winter Walk at Chirk Saturday, January 3, 2015
This winter's annual walk will take us from The Poachers (better known under its former name The Poacher's Pocket) south to Rhoswiel Bridge, then across the fields to Chirk Bank; through the valley up to Chirk village on what is actually the pre-turnpike road, along Castle Road to the canal and back along the towpath to reach The Poachers in time for lunch. Our chairman, Michael Limbrey, has kindly volunteered to lead the walk and Peter Brown will provide his customary interesting and informative notes on what people can expect to see. This includes not only the canal features but also the tramroads, railway, roads and mining. There is a remarkable amount of history in such a small area! The suggested walk is about four miles but shorter options are available. The suggested walk is not suitable for anyone with mobility problems as it includes stiles. Please wear suitable footwear. Because this is not a formal guided walk and people will do it at their own pace, the IWA accepts no liability in the event of anyone having an accident (or getting lost!). Meet at the car park of The Poachers, Chirk, Wrexham LL14 5DG from 10.30am for a 10.45am start.
Transforming Ellesmere After a couple of years of rumours, the outline planning application for a major development at Ellesmere has now been submitted. As well as a 200 berth marina, the proposal for the canalside area includes a 120 bed hotel, a restaurant/pub, leisure spa, tennis courts, about 50 chalets and hardstandings for more than 60 touring caravans. Behind them would be an estate of about 250 houses. The developer has promised to retain the most valuable hedgerows and ‘to improve the site’s green infrastructure and opportunity for biodiversity’. And it is asserted that: ‘Travelling from the west along the canal corridor, a variety of tourist and leisure based facilities are positioned to gradually build in scale and create an attractive approach to the town, with the “gateway building” hotel at the entrance to the town arm canal helping to re-enforce the connection to the re-developed historic wharf area and the town centre beyond.’ (The documents tend to be written in ‘planner-speak’.) Shroppie Fly Paper
This development is huge: it stretches alongside the canal for about 750 metres (almost half a mile), from a little way down the Ellesmere Arm to Stanks Bridge (Bridge 60). It’s so huge that it is impossible to show a meaningful plan to accompany this article — instead it is best to look for yourself at application 14/04047/OUT on the Shropshire Council website <http:// planningpa.shropshire.gov.uk/online-applications/>. In Shropshire Council’s latest land-use plan the whole canalside site is designated for leisure use. Furthermore, it has Ellesmere Town Council’s full support because of its tourism potential and the employment it will create. Thus, despite the loss of the rural aspect of a long section of the canal, it would probably be futile to oppose the principle of the application. Instead it is necessary to concentrate on the detail, such as the siting of the elements, their design and integration into the landscape. As readers may recall, in my article twelve months ago ‘Planning law and marinas’ I wrote that we can object to applications only on ‘material considerations’, and these do not include over-provision unless it has a material effect on another relevant and significant planning matter. My formal response alluded to the implications of a 200 berth marina on New Marton Locks, which CRT assesses as having the greatest number of boat movements of any narrow locks on the system, and the increased pressure on the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site. Another matter of concern is the visual effect on the Grade II* listed depot and the former canal offices at the junction. This depot is acknowledged as the best remaining example on the canal network. The developer’s Heritage Assessment states that the visual impact of the 2-3 storey hotel on the depot would be ‘moderate’, and goes on to say that ‘this impact must be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, which in this case are substantial’.
The Grade II* depot at Ellesmere Photo courtesy Peter Brown
At this stage the application is for outline approval. There will be the opportunity to make further representations when the applications are made for detailed approval of the elements. Peter Brown Autumn/Winter 2014
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Maesbury Canal Festival September has traditionally been the month for rallies and events on the Llangollen system; the rush of summer visitors has subsided and residents can enjoy the canals in some peace. The first Maesbury event, part of an ambitious twin venue national campaign rally, was in 2008 and was designed to dovetail neatly into established events at Ellesmere and Whitchurch on the Llangollen main line. Since then the event has become established as a biennial affair and seems to grow and grow each time. In 2008, Canal Central was virtually at the end of the connected navigable length and I remember mooring there and donning my boots for a walk down the dry section and past Llanymynech, Carreghofa and over the aqueduct to Four Crosses. Now, of course, thanks to the Shropshire Union Canal Society, HLF funding and WRG, the first Foreground (l-r) Judith Richards, Mary & Arthur section of this is in water and the Walpole and CRT's Richard Parry at the Maesbury towpath much improved. With the opening ceremony. Photo: Alan Platt recent approval of Stage 1 of the latest HLF bid, a real chance of stage 2 funding and the continued efforts of SUCS, we have the prospect of water to Crickheath and a winding hole, enabling the section from Gronwen to Crickheath to become navigable. The recent opening of the section beyond Redwith added an additional and enjoyable focus to this yearâ€™s festival. Canal festivals can live or die by the weather and the general rule is to bring your wellies just in case; this year was mercifully blessed with some sunshine and no rain and this doubtless contributed to the good crowds on both Saturday and Sunday. The location is excellent and much is due to Iain and Fiona of Canal Central who provided a magnificent site as well as doing wonders with the catering, especially for the Friday and Saturday party nights in the marquee. Friday night had an excellent, if stamina sapping, quiz set by Mike and Sue Lambourne and on Saturday we were entertained by Libby Gliksman, who is, I am informed, the areaâ€™s answer to Adele. Both were entertaining evenings enlivened by local beer and food and good company. Saturday had the not too formal opening by Arthur Walpole, the local councillor and Shroppie Fly Paper
a long term supporter of the canal, and his wife Mary, and we were also visited by Richard Parry, chief executive of CRT, who is becoming a regular visitor. On the IWA front, my fellow trustees John Butler and Gren Mesham, respectively chairmen of Events and Navigation committees, also attended and visited the new stretch of canal with the other VIPs, conveyed there by horse drawn boat, which was also running for the public over the weekend. The canal was lined with decorated boats, including Saturn, and several boat traders were selling everything from cheese to bacon baps. On the main site there were craft stalls, more caterers and stands by CRT, the local canal societies and a small fairground for the younger patrons, who were also catered for by a variety of WoW activities. Dave Walker had an intriguing rope walk in operation and also generously donated a set of fenders for auction in aid of the event. As well as the evening entertainment, there was music provided during the day by bands in the marquee and folk style entertainers on the field. Sundayâ€™s events included a very popular dog show, a gurning competition sponsored by Bywater Cruises, as well as the draw for the well supported raffle. The sun still shone and the last of the beer was sold at a reduced price to round off a perfect week end.
Visiting boats lined the canal from the Navigation Inn to Canal Central. Photo: Michael Haig
The aim of such events is not to raise money, although it is pleasing that it was solvent, but to raise and maintain the profile of the Montgomery as a prime restoration project and engage with the local community and get their support for their local canal. This Maesbury does achieve most effectively and our thanks are due to those who put in the enormous amount of work necessary to stage the event. Maesbury is billed as a joint effort between the Friends of the Montgomery and the IWA branch; the reality is that it is the result of hard work by individuals who happen to wear those badges. Next year we look forward to a very different type of event, â€˜Making Wavesâ€™, on the Welshpool section of the canal which has its own unique but real challenges. This is in the early stages of planning but augurs well. Alan Platt Autumn/Winter 2014
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The membership survey Only 28 members responded to the questionnaire that was enclosed with the summer issue of Shroppie Fly Paper: nine percent of the branch membership. Because the number was so small, and because the respondents were selfselecting and not a random cross-section, although the results are useful, they are not statistically valid. Of the respondents, 68% either own or share a boat, a much higher proportion than in the IWA membership as a whole. Also, members living outside the area but having their boat here seemed more likely to reply. By contrast, only two responses were received from Shrewsbury, Telford and Market Drayton, the three towns containing the greatest numbers of our branch members. The principal interests of respondents were boating (79%), history (75%), towpath walking/cycling (61%) and nature (43%). 75% were members of at least one other waterways organisation. Twenty-two different organisations were cited, the most frequent second society being the Shropshire Union Canal Society (50%). 21% were either Friends of the Canal & River Trust or active CRT volunteers (or both). Shroppie Fly Paper is obviously popular with members, being described as “a good read” and “an excellent magazine”. (Thank you! Ed.) Of respondents, 68% were very interested in local waterways news, 61% in historical articles and 46% in forthcoming events; most of the rest said each of these was “of some interest”. We last did a membership survey in 2003. That time, 47 members responded, of whom 57% were boat-owners. The interests were similar (then as now, nobody mentioned “fishing”) as were the opinions concerning Shroppie Fly Paper. However, whereas 77% expressed at least some interest in some speaker meeting topics, this time it was only 57%. The potential interest in social meetings has fallen even further: the equivalent figures were 51% last time and 32% this time. The proportion interested in visits is virtually unchanged. The one topic where responses were more positive this time concerned helping with Branch activities. My thanks to everybody who responded and particularly to those who volunteered to help. Peter Brown Shroppie Fly Paper
Branch Calendar 2015 By the time Shroppie Fly Paper reaches your doormat or computer there will be less than 60 days to go until Christmas! So if you need a last minute idea for a gift for friends and relations - especially if they are canal enthusiasts or nature lovers - then look no further. The 2015 Branch Calendar is full of fantastic photographs of local waterway scenes and will make the perfect stocking filler or present. The calendar is on sale in the chandlery at Aqueduct Marina, at OverWater Marina, Kings Lock Chandlery until sold out and at the Shrewsbury Christmas Card Shop in St Mary's Church during November. It can also be purchased by mail order at a cost of ÂŁ5 plus ÂŁ1.24 p&p from: Wyndcliff, Pen-y-Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS - Telephone Dawn to check supplies on 01691 830403 until 22nd November. After Saturday 22nd November the calendar will be available from 7 Barnton Edge, Stone ST15 8ZR. Please telephone Michael 01785 813550 before you post your order. The calendar is one of our major fund raising projects and is made possible because of the goodwill and generosity of the sponsors so please support them: Cheshire Cat Narrowboat Holidays 07867 790195; Shroppie Fly, Audlem 01270 812379; M & L Canal Services and Mobile Engineer 07970 384047; OverWater Marina 01270 812677; Morris Lubricants 01782 410391; Venetian Marina 01270 528251; Aqueduct Marina 01270 525041; Mercia Marine Insurance 01684 564457; Moors Farm Bed & Breakfast and Holiday Cottages 01938 553395; Bluerhodfa Consulting, Web Design & Hosting 07803 164802; Maestermyn Narrowboat Holidays 01691 662424; Kings Lock Chandlery 01606 737564. If you visit or use one of the services provided by our sponsors please mention the calendar and hopefully they will continue their sponsorship in the future. Dawn Aylwin Autumn/Winter 2014
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Volunteer projects yield big improvements You will have read elsewhere in this issue of the sterling work being undertaken by IWA's Waterway Recovery Group and our local canal societies, SUCS and SNCT. But there is also a lot of other activity going on to benefit our canals and you may like to consider offering your services to either the Small Tasks Team Vounteers (STTV) or the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch Adopters (SUMBA) - or both if you're feeling really keen! - both of whom offer a friendly welcome to new volunteers on their sociable and worthwhile work parties. (Contacts on page 17.) Since SUMBA's creation in April the group has been on what it describes as a ‘skills learning curve’ and has mainly concentrated on painting and repairing picnic tables and posts, signage, cutting back vegetation and litter picking. At the end of September it completed a major cutback of overhanging vegetation and a litter SUMBA volunteers at Sykes Hollow Leisure Area pick between Nanney's Bridge and Photo: SUMBA the Sykes Hollow picnic area, as well as painting the five tables and barbecue stands in the picnic area itself. Sixteen volunteers, including members of the Crewe Clean Team, contributed a total of 88 hours work and made a huge improvement to the visual appearance of the towpath. Canal & River Trust has now suggested that SUMBA carries out an offside cutback between the bridges at each side of the Sykes Hollow picnic area, together with a painting and tidy-up at Church Minshull and Cholmondeston locks. These projects will require CRT's input, onsite involvement and a great deal of planning and will be a major step up for SUMBA’s activities. Readers cruising the Middlewich Branch will also be starting to see evidence of progress with SUMBA’s environmental plan to plant bulbs, apple trees, fruit bushes and insect attracting shrubs along the towpath. The first phase of planting bulbs and some trees opposite Aqueduct Marina will complement the planting of SUMBA's first two apple trees, kindly sponsored by the marina and Trevor Hancock, earlier in the summer. The trees, a Minshull Crab and a Bee Bench, both local cooking varieties, are flourishing!
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During the autumn SUMBA agreed with Church Minshull's Canal Group to extend its adopted length to include Bridges 11 to 15 - either end of the village. In future the canal group and SUMBA will work to a combined business plan to achieve their common aims and objectives. This development takes the length of adopted canal from Barbridge Junction for approximately 5Â˝ miles. After a relatively quiet summer with many of its members on holiday or cruising, it was back to 'business as usual' for STTV in September. As part of the Ellesmere Festival and National Heritage Weekend, CRT opened the doors of the historic yard and working forge over the weekend of September 13-14. Visitors were able to see inside the buildings and guided tours were available. STTV operated the CRT water bus between Ellesmere Wharf and the Waterways Yard on the two days and went on to assist in running the water bus at the Whitchurch Boat Rally the following weekend. The end of September saw the first phase of a significant refurbishment programme to enhance the facilities at the services area above Hurleston Locks, including the installation of three new lock mooring bollards, six totem posts to demarcate the mooring for locks, mooring for services and a services waiting area, and general repairs and repainting of the sanitary station and its surroundings. The next work party will again be at Hurleston to demolish the existing brick water point enclosures and replace them with cast iron stanchion water points with block paved surrounds and new drains. Additionally a fourth lock mooring bollard will be installed. Michael Haig - based on information from STTV and SUMBA
Quiz Night Monday, February 23, 2015 7.30pm Once again The Narrowboat Inn at the Maestermyn Marina, Whittington (SY11 4NU tel: 01691 661051) will be the venue for the Branch Quiz Night. This is the annual opportunity to pit your wits against some of the finest quiz brains in the border counties and North Wales, so come along with some friends or join other masterminds on the night to form a team! It will be the usual format with a meal beforehand from 6.30pm - prior notice of those wishing to eat would be helpful. The quiz follows at 7.30pm. It seems a long way ahead so make a note in your 2015 calendar and join us for a fun social evening. For further information contact Val Haig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The full Monty... I have been living in Llanymynech for the past few months – though we expect to be moving to a permanent address soon. The bus stop sign outside our house is in Welsh, while the one over the road has the Shropshire Council logo on it. There is much that is interesting about this very border village, built around the quarries that brought first the canal and then the railways. (Now there are just lorries – too many, nothing to do with the quarries, and Pant and Llanymynech need a by-pass!) In our time here we have been able to take walks round the heritage area, up the tramway inclines onto the hill, and of course along the towpath of the Montgomery Canal – all evidencing the industrial, transport and agricultural revolutions that made this village. Something of this story was told on ITV's Coast and Country recently with a trip on the George Wilson Buck – http://www.itv.com/news/wales/ search/?q=coast+and+country+17 (starting about minute 6). Llanymynech boat trips have been going well this year, but the local group has decided that they are not up to the ambition to recreate the old Duchess-Countess and by the end of the year will be reconstituted as 'Llanymynech Canal Wharf' to run the trip-boat and operate the visitor centre. After Llanymynech, presenter Carl Edwards went on to Redwith to Owen Paterson MP opens the canal to Pryce's Bridge witness the rewatering of the new Photo: David Aylwin length restored by the Shropshire Union Canal Society (though it is a pity no credit was given to the work of Waterway Recovery Group and IWA who have contributed so much to the canal over the years, though less of late). The rewatering was a great achievement for SUCS who, for most of their time on the canal, have worked on structures like locks and weirs. The branch attended the formal opening of the new length by local MP Owen Paterson, just released from his former role as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Unfortunately this new length has not been holding water and I gather the difficulty may be something to do with the piling put in some years ago, which SUCS had to work to. Contractors are expected soon and hopefully the situation will be resolved by the time you read this. Shroppie Fly Paper
In the meantime SUCS volunteers are moving to the next section beyond Pryce's Bridge. The area has been fenced to exclude newts (I have never seen a newty cattle-grid before!). Unfortunately, we have just heard that Natural England â€“ taking 100 days longer than the 30 in which they should have dealt with the application â€“ have decided that more needs to be done before work can start. The section to be tackled by SUCS will be followed by the final section to Crickheath Wharf which is part of the HLF project. That project will be worked up for full funding by David Hennessey and Sylvia Edwards who have recently joined CRT as Project Manager and Community Development Officer respectively. We look forward to working with them both to ensure a successful project. Further down the Montgomery Canal, plans are developing for a celebration of the canal and its story on the Welsh length. We have established an enthusiastic committee representing a number of Montgomery canal groups. IWA is one of the lead sponsors for the event, with Friends of the Montgomery Canal and the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust. The plans are for a summer programme, called Making Waves, drawing together as much activity as we can on and around the canal. The programme, which will showcase the canal, its history, culture and opportunities, will culminate in a boating festival weekend in Welshpool on 3/4th July. There will be boats of many different shapes and sizes and a variety of opportunities for the public to experience the canal. One of next year's events will of course be the Triathlon, on May 9, which will see a change in format, with cycles starting from Newtown as usual, a changeover at Pool Quay with entrants walking to Pryce's Bridge, and finally canoeing from there to Welsh Frankton. It is hoped that by then towpath improvements will have covered the length to Pool Quay and from Four Crosses over the Vyrnwy Aqueduct to Carreghofa. Two dozen entry forms have arrived already! Making Waves is generating a lot of support, and we are delighted at the attention CRT is giving to the canal with weed-cutting and action to ensure an adequate depth for the boats that will visit. Unfortunately it is taking longer than we had hoped to confirm some of the details, but you will see boats big and small on the Montgomery Canal in Wales next year. There will be more: keep an eye on www.makingwaves2015.co.uk and @MakingWaves2015 on Twitter. Michael Limbrey
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Audlem Gathering of Historic Boats The sixth annual Gathering of Historic Boats at Audlem on July 26-27, organised by Peter and Chris Silvester at Audlem Mill, was a resounding success, with several thousand visitors, including CRT chief executive Richard Parry, drawn to the Shropshire Union Canal to see the 43 former working boats moored in the bottom three pounds of the flight of fifteen locks. This event has grown to be probably the largest of its kind in the north, and this year there were eight more boats than in 2013. In fact, there was only space for perhaps one or two more boats, as the three pounds were just about full, with breasting up the norm, and a few boats were triple moored. The CRT volunteers on the lowest four locks kept boat traffic moving with minimum delays, and were on hand to maintain water levels. This was especially important in the Town Pound by Audlem Wharf, where three of the 14 boats were heavily loaded. This was a wonderful sight, and evoked memories of fifty and more years ago. Fellows, Morton & Clayton 'Fish' class motor Tench was loaded with nearly 20 tons of hardcore, whilst the same company’s butty Ilford and Grand Union Canal Carrying Company small Woolwich motor Aquarius were carrying about 35 tons of loose coal between them. This had been donated by UK Coal, and is being carried around the canal system this summer to promote the extension of the Ashby canal. Amongst the 43 boats were several former FMC steamers, three of the eight Cowburn and Cowpar “bottle boats”, tug Atlantic, Elizabeth (converted for holiday use in 1936), Ian (the last wooden motor boat built), and Saturn, the restored Shropshire Union fly-boat that worked from Audlem Wharf carrying local cheeses to markets in Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere. The boat crews all got together for a hogroast on the Saturday evening in the garden of the lock cottage at lock 14, home to Bob and Dot Shepherd. Bob was lock-keeper at Audlem for around 30 years until retirement. Late on Sunday afternoon, Aquarius and Ilford climbed up the Audlem flight, very professionally demonstrating the technique of long lining the boats through the locks in the middle of the flight, which are very close together – known to boatmen as “The Thick”. Long lining involves climbing the locks with the motor boat proceeding up the locks one lock above the butty, joined by the tow rope. This pair of boats was using running blocks on the top planks of the butty – common perhaps in carrying days, but rarely done now. Readers can enjoy Rebekah Fuller's great film of the ascent at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4TjsROGOYM Peter Silvester Shroppie Fly Paper
Audlem Gathering of Historic Narrowboats July 2014
Aquarius and Saturn (right), Stamford and Tench opposite All photos by David Williams
Ilford and Aquarius breasted up, and winding by the old stables at the bottom lock
CRT Heritage Fleet motor Scorpio and butty Leo
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Whitchurch Gathering of Boats 2014 The perfect event to close the waterways festival and event season, the Whitchurch Gathering on September 20-21 attracted 21 boats and a record number of stalls which set up along the tow path creating a very colourful scene. It was also the 21st anniversary of the re-opening of the first stage of the arm up to Chemistry Bridge - 21 reasons why the sun shone down on the event and encouraged visitors to turn out in force.
Photos by D. Aylwin
Event organiser and Whitchurch Waterway Trust member, Lindsay Green, reported that "it was a most successful event as far as the takings are concerned, which is extremely good news as we have submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and are waiting to see if we have been accepted for the next round". Last November planning approval was given to extend the arm through Chemistry Bridge to make a small mooring basin for up to eight narrowboats to encourage more people to visit Whitchurch. If funds are available, the Trust hopes to make a start on the new basin next year.
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Shroppie Fly Paper is the newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of The Inland Waterways Association