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Dredging the River Aire above Leeds Lock


Contents Regional Chairman’s Thoughts Northern Navigation News - Rivers of Culture Boating when not-as-young-as-you-were Book Review - “A Voyage Around Ireland” Brian Ernest Holden West Riding Branch AGM - Agenda Email addresses Notes from the Editor A working weekend A bridge chapel too far Update on HS2 75th anniversary in 2021 Recent West Riding Branch Open Meetings Sheffield Canal’s Big Birthday Bash 2019 Open Meetings

3 5 6 8 10 11 11 12 12 14 16 17 18 19 20

CHANGING ADDRESS All the IWA membership records are maintained centrally at Head Office, who are also responsible for distributing the Milepost to those members who have elected to receive it by post. So if changing address there is no need to contact the branch, you only need to contact IWA Head Office. And IWA Waterways Magazine and the Milepost will be sent to your new address.

Front cover picture - Peter Scott


REGION CHAIRMAN'S THOUGHTS The summer of 2018 has been ‘eventful’ in all senses. Our major public event, the peripatetic August Bank Holiday Festival of Water found itself in St Neots at the further end of the Great Ouse system of waterways, and boats visiting from the Midlands needed a tidal passage in both directions to complete their round trips. Secondly, continuing that theme of tidal passages from the September 2018 Milepost, all of our inland waterway connections from the North East to London were closed for lack of water, save for the tidal River Trent, reliably conveying only those confident enough to use it, as mentioned in Adrian Moreton’s article on page 14. Thirdly, as regular attender of IWA Annual General Meetings, for once this year we gave priority to a trip on the historic sea-going paddle-steamer Waverley, which during its annual sojourn to London, was offering a trip from Tower Pier down the Thames, via Southend Pier into the mouth of the River Medway, then returning to London. This was a brilliant day out, giving a higher viewing platform for the river than we usually have from nbFulbourne. While that trip was warm and smooth, the discussions at the AGM were less so. The presentation of work on restoration was well received, but the finances discussion was much more fraught. The view of this from a West Riding perspective is tricky to discern, the meeting being a long way for our members to travel. It started in Stonehouse, Stroud, Gloucestershire. That’s whichever of those that best create a mental picture of the distance from, say, Leeds (182 miles or 3hrs30mins by train) or Skipton (190 miles or a 6.30am train from Shipley). Maybe my straw poll of audience reactions covered all our participants from oopnorth. Whether representative or not, the view was that the Top Table was disorganised, and couldn't answer whatever-it-was that the questions about the accounts were asking. See for the full minutes of the meeting. Of the many thousands of digits in our Annual Report, a couple had succumbed to the Eric Morecambe syndrome "I'm playing all the right notes, ... but not necessarily in the right order". It was, fatefully, in a total which was supposed to be £1,165,070 which had been typed (in one of the two places it appeared) as £1,160,570. It's obvious that all the adding-up ought to be done in a spreadsheet


REGION CHAIRMAN'S THOUGHTS CONTINUED with the relevant numbers transferred automatically from there to the printed report. Well, that didn't happen properly for this particular number, but by the time it had been talked about at the meeting for an hour, the difference between the correct and mistyped versions somehow became an actual lump of IWA money that had gone awry. Maybe if any of the audience had been given any relevant papers, of had anything like the above explanation, they wouldn't have thought it a bright idea to adjourn the meeting without a decision on the accounts. And we wouldn’t now be worrying about how much of our members’ subscriptions was used in subsequent fidddling-about with numbers and which other extra costs and problems were related to the original mistype. Maybe many members attending the AGM were already disconcerted by the decision-making about future Festivals of Water. Enough members had signed resolutions for them to appear on the AGM agenda. These suggested separating our Events Committee from its supervising Marketing Committee, and that there should be a report on how these two had (not) been communicating earlier in the year. We need to be concentrating on being a members’ organisation campaigning for the Inland Waterways and minimising our spending on writing-up how much we spent last year. As an example of a closure that could surely have been avoided, C&RT have, see allowed some works in Birmingham to extend from a January start to May, well beyond the end of the Winter Works Programme; they tell us that an ‘alternative route’ is available. It might work for navigators concerned only with the beginning and end of their journey, but it denies appreciating the section of canal, in this case Dudley Port Junction to Factory Junction, as a delight in itself. C&RT is best placed to explain and argue for canals to stay open, when the statutory undertakers (gas, electricity, water supply, sewage, telecomms, ...) want their works to fit with their own schedules. They all have different rights to insist on their timetables and I understand the challenges in keeping our canals open. Here is an unrelated difficulty: you are in charge of a pedestrian bridge over a waterway (not C&RT in this example) and there are four wires that form part of its parapet. A couple click a padlock on to one of the wires and ceremonially throw the key into the waterway. What is your policy? Then some friends do the same ... Peter Scott



The York City Council is considering a report on a new cultural strategy for York to cover the years 2019 to 2025. As part of this strategy there are proposals to make the rivers an attraction in their own right. Local residents are keen that the rivers be more of a feature of the city. Charlie Croft, Assistant Director Communities at City of York Council, said at the meeting: “The question of the rivers came out really strongly in all the consultation, in the sense of needing to open up access to the rivers, having arts and heritage activity alongside the rivers and really making them more of an attraction for both residents and visitors.� Mr Croft said there was need to address some residents’ concerns about anti-social behaviour and drinking culture in the city. The consultation brought to light concerns over a lack of space for artists and entrepreneurs in the city, with a lack of brownfield sites or warehouses to accommodate creative work. There are also hopes for the city to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status. The new provisional cultural strategy is due to be presented at a meeting of the executive in January.

Entrance to the River Foss from the River Ouse


Boating - when not-as-young -as you-were What a pity to have to start the new year with the final edition of Milepost, especially in view of the muchpublicised talk of alleviating the loneliness and isolation of housebound elderly or handicapped people, many of whom have, for a number of years, enjoyed its interesting miscellany of reports and pictures, however unusual or, at times, hard to understand. Perhaps if no-one is prepared to exercise their editorial skills, some members might prefer to offer a day's or even a few hour's trip on a canal boat, or even a short towpath walk which may provide diversion and a new experience for someone not able to explore the delights of the waterways for themselves. Having been fortunate enough to be taken on many canal trips over a number of years in almost every month of the year, when no longer able to drive or holiday independently, I can testify to the benefit and often unexpected pleasure of spending time "afloat". Especially memorable were the ten Christmases spent on board a narrowboat, when none of the other co-owners needed the boat. Luckily, the first of these occurred in ideal December weather, bright, cold and sunny days and clear, moonlit nights, resulting in ice-breaking, an interesting new experience, with the added entertainment of watching the ducks and swans sliding about on the moving ice. Warmth and comfort presented no problems, both being more than adequately provided by the radiators heated from the engine, as well as a very efficient stove. Memorable moments included arriving in Stratford-on-Avon on Christmas Eve, where the crew proceeded to entertain the assembled company moored near the statue of Shakespeare to some handbell ringing. Another festive season saw us moored beneath Chester Cathedral where bellringing took place in the Campanile, which we were invited to explore on Christmas morning, back in the days when we still able to negotiate the spiral staircase and take advantage of a welcome seat in the spectators' gallery


Boating - when not-as-young -as you-were

Who could not fail to be entertained by an unexpected ride in the Big Wheel in Birmingham, giving a splendid aerial view over the city with its festive lights? As we were not familiar with the city we pressed the button which promised us a commentary, only to be regaled with information of the aerial views by night of Notre Dame and Moulin Rouge! Further button-pressing gave us several other languages, the last unrecognisable, but we guessed might be Arabic. After further investigation we learned that the wheel had been hired by the council from Paris for the few days of Christmas and no-one knew about the commentaries!

Peggy Furniss

Making herself useful!


BOOK REVIEW 'VOYAGE INTO IRELAND' Out-of-the-blue, as it were, came an email from Roger Burnett, who now lives in Dominica in the West Indies, with details of his book about Ireland's inland waterways, based on his voyage from 50 years ago. 'Voyage into Ireland' is a softback of 160 pages printed by, and available from, Amazon (ISBN 9781729493939, ÂŁ11.95). It sent me to my bookshelves in search of Ray Gardner's 'Land of Time Enough', also about 1970's Ireland and Tom Rolt's 'Green & Silver' which gives a view from another twenty-five years earlier. The three bookstructures are similar and all the authors were reluctant to leave at the end of their Irish journeying. All explain their routes, with tales from those they met, and expanded views on the topics they covered and the lands through which they passed. Roger's book has more on the navigational challenges and how well other published sources helped (or didn't help) with his journey. Each of his chapters is sandwiched between evocative sketches, and there are no photographs. I looked up 'Just My Type' (Simon Garfield) for advice on why the San Serif font was somehow diverting my concentration on the text: maybe it's just so unfamiliar in published books that it feels a new idea, contrasting sharply in a book with text written fifty years ago. Roger retains unchanged this original, evocative, text, for example his impression of the Great Bog of the Irish midlands and the then-recent mechanisation of peat and turf-cutting by the Turf Development Board. He predicts that "the turf industry has only a limited future" because "within 25 years all the areas of workable bog will have been exhausted". That send me in search of the Irish Times, reporting that the said Board intend to stop harvesting peat for energy by 2030. Overall, the book is an thoroughly enjoyable read. Roger also mentioned his membership of the IWA's North East Committee in 19678 and that sent me to the minute books. In May 1967, "Mr Burnett had received a letter from the West Riding County Planning Dept., requesting further constructive ideas on the Yorkshire Waterways.", and in June "Mr Burnett stressed that membership of I.W.A. was deterred by the subscription amount and Mr H Sykes proposed a probationary period of membership at 10/- " then in June "Mr Burnett reported that BWB. at Watford had given him permission to moor at Anchor Pit Lock but Mr Millis the Section Inspector had sent a verbal message for him to move to Brighouse Basin.". Roger recalls a boat rally held to bring attention to the canal and in particular to Sowerby Bridge Wharf, which the local authority was intent on filling in and using as a car park. The warehouses were also threatened with demolition. Also the first


BOOK REVIEW 'VOYAGE INTO IRELAND' boat that he sailed to the Caribbean in 1973-4 began her voyage from Sowerby Bridge Wharf after "we spent the winter moored below the Sunday School that years later was to be my studio. The canal and sailing scene everywhere is different today to what it was then. Here in the Caribbean, idyllic anchorages which I had all to myself in the early days are now crowded with marinas and hotels along the shoreline. Fortunately my books about the Caribbean captured the island as they were before mass tourism." He signed off "rushing for a refreshing bathe in the river before it gets dark," It is to Sowerby Bridge Wharf that Roger is forever entwined by his sculpture of lockkeeper and child pushing a lockbeam at the entrance to the Basin, and its plaque remembering local contributions for the commission in 2002. My picture was taken the next year, and within another year, the lockkeeper's windlass handle had been broken off. That is a shame because it's a brilliant piece of canal art, showing passers-by accurate detail of how canal structures are traditionally operated. Roger's response to the damage was that a repair shouldn't be too complicated, that he could advise-from-afar, and that it was a challenge to the businesses and people thereabouts to secure the money and enthusiasm for a proper fix. There is an excellent volunteer opportunity for a local member to bring this about.

Peter Scott


BRIAN ERNEST HOLDEN 20 November 1930 – 25 September 2018 We are very sorry to report the death on the 25th September of Brian Holden, longstanding secretary of the Rochdale Canal Society. Brian’s well attended memorial service was held on the 16th October at Spotland Methodist Church. John Taylor, who obviously knew Brian well, gave a wonderful eulogy which raised some wry smiles from the congregation. Brian had a career as a Classics teacher and was involved in the Methodist church, where he regularly played the organ. And a good many of the attendees obviously knew Brian from these activities. But there was a good scattering of people from a waterways background, who like me knew Brian from his many years of involvement with the Rochdale Canal, dating back to the start of the restoration scheme in 1974. Indeed, back in 1993, Brian was awarded the IWA’s Christopher Power Prize, for the person society or trust who has made the most significant contribution to the restoration of an inland waterway. It is possible with the canal having been opened throughout, over 16 years ago, that the magnitude of the project is fading in people’s memories. But the canal remains one of the restoration movements’ great achievements and as many people have said, a fitting memorial to Brian Holden. Ian Moore Hon Secretary, IWA West Riding Branch Listen to Brian speaking in1990 about the restoration of the Rochdale Canal. (for 30 secs from about 38 secs from the beginning)


WEST RIDING BRANCH AGM - AGENDA The Annual General Meeting of the West Riding Branch of the Inland Waterways Association will take place on Friday 8 March 2019 at the Canal & River Trust Offices, Fearns Wharf, Neptun e Str eet, Leeds LS9 8PB following a talk by Seán McGinley, Regional Director of CRT Yorkshire & North East (details on page 20) 1.

Apologies for absence


Approval of minutes of the 2018 AGM as published on page 18 of the June 2018 edition of the MilePost


Matters arising not covered in reports


Secretary’s report (Ian Moore)


Treasurer’s report (William Jowitt)


Regional Chairman’s report (Peter Scott)


Election of Committee members - Nominations for the Branch Committee may be made at the meeting or beforehand by e-mail to the Secretary.

E-MAIL ADDRESSES Sometimes there may be late changes to branch open meetings. When this happens we try to get information updated on the IWA Events Calendar on the IWA website and an e-mail circulated to those members who are on the branch circulation list. For the latter to happen, IWA Head Office needs to have your up to date e-mail address. The way the system works is IWA Head Office maintains all the membership information centrally, in line with the data protection rules. We send the email we want circulated to IWA Head Office and they circulate it. So if you haven’t already done it please consider registering your e-mail address, which can be done on the IWA website. And please keep this up to date. As this is probably the last edition of Milepost, being on the circulation list means you get Branch information and get reminded about the meetings . Ian Moore


NOTES FROM THE EDITOR Happy new year everyone. I hope you all had a good festive season. There having been no response to our pleas for someone to take on the job of editing the Milepost, this will probably be the last issue. I am rather sad about this as I think the local magazines can cover items with a local bias. I have much enjoyed putting the magazines together, especially when, like for this issue, members have sent me contributions. Many thanks to all those who have done so over the years since I took over the editing. Just for fun there are some pictures of our recent “boating” weekend - a few days spent in one of the best dry docks I have ever seen at Circus Field Marina in Aylesbury ( Even the heating, dedicated kitchen, workshop and shower did not make 71’ 6” any shorter when we started painting! If you enjoy seeing historic narrowboats, there is a Historic Narrow Boat Club gathering at Hebden Bridge 24th to 27th May. Or there's the canal lock feature at the Chelsea Flower Show the previous week or watch out for the Dewsbury Canal Festival in Savile Town Basin 27th-28th July. I look forward to seeing you all at IWA events. Enjoy the waterways, Elaine Scott


Going up the slipway on the trolley



View from the bottom

View from the top

View from the back

Supervising the work on the bottom


A BRIDGE CHAPEL TOO FAR?- ADRIAN MORETON In mediaeval times, many river bridges had chapels built on them - some at one end or the other, some in the middle. There are now just six left in England. At Derby and Rochester the chapel is at the end (and not near the connected system) but the other four stand proudly in the middle, and all can be visited by boat. It wasn’t particularly in our plans to visit all four in one season, but once we had ticked off the third, visiting the final one was an obvious goal. The first we passed was at home in Wakefield – so we’ve been past this one many times. Stedman II was moored at Fairies Hill over winter, and in late March we took her up to Figure of Three for the weekend. Wakefield cut bypasses the bridge, but the chapel can seen by walking up from Fall Ings lock. Wakefield’s is the oldest of the four, completed in 1356, and it’s the only one of the four which still holds regular services. The reason we headed up to Figure of Three was to take part in a bell ringing competition at Ossett. We did well enough to qualify for the final in Cambridge in June, so in mid-April we set off from Stanley Ferry heading east then south up the Trent. We made our way to the 1 St Ives, Cambridgeshire Great Ouse via Leicester, Northampton and Peterborough, by which stage we were well into the long hot summer. Once on the Great Ouse, we travelled to the end at Bedford, passing our second bridge chapel at St Ives. This is the only one you can actually cruise past, and dates from 1426. It’s had many uses in its time, including being a pub and a doss house! From Cambridge we decided to get full value from our gold licence by heading back to the Grand Union, down to Brentford and up the Thames. At Reading we took a detour on to the K&A – we’ve boated all the eastern end before, but never ventured beyond Trowbridge. At Bradford on Avon we reached our third bridge chapel. Here the canal and river are some way apart – 2 Bradford on Avon Bridge


A BRIDGE CHAPEL TOO FAR -?ADRIAN MORETON the navigation is a full-blown canal, not just a lock-cut to bypass a weir. The ‘chapel’ here is a 17th century replacement – the present building was used as a lockup, but never a place of worship. We returned to Yorkshire back down the Trent (the other options were all closed due to drought), and at Bramwith the temptation to visit the final chapel in Rotherham proved too great. Like Wakefield, the navigation at Rotherham is in a lock cut, and you can’t see the chapel from the boat, but we moored up after the lock, 3 Rotherham Bridge and walked back to see the old bridge and chapel. A new bridge was built in 1930, and the course of the river was diverted a little, which means the River Don now only flows past one side of the chapel – but is still in the middle of the ancient bridge! Four contrasting structures spread around the country, all reached by boat in one season. We travelled over 1700 miles and 950 locks to get there and back – the question is what do we do next year? Postscript: When writing this article, I found I had no picture of the Wakefield Chapel. So to put this right, we boated up the weir stream from Fall Ings, for a view few seldom seen.

4 Wakefield Bridge



There is a significant time and energy requirement to respond to the developments in the HS2 project, and there are major waterway implications across the whole of its route. In the latest response, our 12-page detailed appendix includes the Aire and Calder, for which we are grateful to Phil Sharp of Lichfield Branch for preparing. The latest consultation is about Phase 2B Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds. Phil writes ”A consultation on the Working Draft Environmental Statement (and the Working Draft Equality Impact Assessment Report) was announced on 11 October with a closing date of 21 December. This is a precursor to the submission of a hybrid bill to Parliament, which has now been put back to 2020. It was an opportunity to suggest corrections to errors, omissions and misconceptions and to request improvements. It was also an opportunity to raise more fundamental issues about the route, which will not be possible when the final Environmental Statement is published, as that will be after the second reading debate when MPs will be deemed to have approved the route.” Our letter, in relation to West Riding, says: AIRE & CALDER NAVIGATION HS2 crosses the Aire & Calder Navigation by the River Calder Viaduct, the River Aire Viaduct, Leeds East Viaduct and the Leeds HS2 Station deck, as well as running close to the canal between Woodlesford and Stourton. The Aire & Calder is a commercial navigation as well as being used increasingly for recreational boating. Each of the crossings should conform with the Canal & River Trust’s current minimum dimensions, and the Leeds East Viaduct access to the Rolling Stock Depot should provide sufficient headroom for future commercial


UPDATE ON HS2 navigation improvements to Euro Class 2 to access the proposed new inland port upstream at Stourton. Where temporary bridges are required, these and the main viaduct construction should be planned to minimise interruptions to navigation and provide ample advance notice The River Calder Viaduct across the Aire & Calder Wakefield Branch is close to boat moorings below Kings Road Lock (near Rose Farm) and appropriate noise mitigation should be provided. Where retaining walls are proposed near the tight bend in the navigation at Rodhill Corner, their construction should not narrow or restrict the navigation for larger commercial vessels. The visual impact of the new Leeds Station on the Canal Wharf Conservation Area of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and its listed warehouse will be significant, and great care will be needed with the station design and layout to minimise this. The station deck spanning the River Aire will have a significant visual impact on the environment and users of the navigation and light wells should be provided to break up the otherwise oppressive dark tunnel effect on the river Also significantly affected by HS2 is the Chesterfield Canal restoration, and their consultation response at begins: “The Trust believes that the restoration has been blighted for 6 years by HS2 plans, and that it is now time for Government rather than HS2 to supply written assurances and solutions to enable restoration work to continue ...�

75TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2021 IWA will have been in existence for 75 years in 2021 and we hope to celebrate our achievements and look forward to the next 75 years with some style. We are positive that you and other volunteers will have lots of ideas for how IWA should mark the occasion and ideally we would like to set up a group to help us make the most of the anniversary opportunity. Would you like to be a member of this group? The group will be responsible for collating ideas, considering how the ideas could work, developing a plan and then identifying individuals or groups to begin working on the plan. If you would like to get involved in this group please email


RECENT WEST RIDING BRANCH OPEN MEETINGS 12 October 2018 – Braunston Pickle

Photo by Malcolm Bridge

An audience of 20 people attended an enjoyable musical evening with folk duo Lionel and Barbara, also known as Braunston Pickle. The room could have easily accommodated a much larger audience but with the edge of storm Callum brushing Yorkshire that night some people may well have been put off coming. Those who were there were entertained by an assortment of folk songs mainly to do with the waterways, played on a variety of instruments.

As we got to the publicised finish time, the audience were more than happy for the duo to go on a bit longer and play another couple of songs. 9 November 2018 – IWA National Chairman Ivor Caplan Unfortunately it was another evening of not the best weather, when 14 people turned up to hear Ivor talk about his first year as National Chairman and plans for the future. But it did mean that the attendees had plenty of opportunity to ask Ivor questions afterwards. Ivor spoke about the ongoing need for the IWA and the fact that it could do things that the Canal and River Trust couldn’t or found difficult. As he pointed out, if you could guarantee that waterway funding was secure for all time, then there might be less of a case for the IWA. But of course you can’t. The IWA is well placed to campaign on waterway matters in Westminster. It can address issues on non-CRT waters and provide technical advice on restoration. And because the IWA is a navigation authority in its own right, managing the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation through Essex Waterways Ltd, we can demonstrate that we know what we are talking about. The IWA has national campaigns, like the Gap Tracker campaign to record and improve boaters' facilities nationwide. And the Silver Propeller Challenge to encourage people with boats and other craft to visit lesser used waterways. And we can focus on small things that make a difference like the provision of mooring rings. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the IWA in 2021, it is an organisation that still has a role to play.


SHEFFIELD CANAL'S BIG BIRTHDAY BASH Join the party taking place at Victoria Quays on Friday 22 February 60,000 people turned up to watch the very first boats arriving into the heart of the city on this brand new canal back in 1819. To celebrate the bicentenary of the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal C&RT are a day-long party with activities starting at 11am and finishing at 11pm. For full details see the website At 1:30pm a flotilla of boats will arrive at Victoria Quays

11am – 3pm Free activities for all the family 4:30pm – 7:30pm Performances of the canal’s ‘This is your life’? in an inflatable igloo stage. Watch as a giant storybook shows the canal’s past whilst an actor brings it to life. Tickets required. 8pm – 11pm The igloo will be the setting for a silent disco – dance the night away to round off our birthday bash. Tickets required. Details of tickets will be on the website link above.


2019 OPEN MEETINGS Meetings are free and all are welcome. Tea and coffee will be available. Latest details to be found on the IWA website.

Friday 8 February 2019 7:30 to 9:30 South Pennine Boat Club, Wood Lane, Mirfield WF14 0ED Gates open at 7 pm.

The Calder & Hebble Navigation by Keith Noble. Keith Noble has wealth of knowledge about the Calder & Hebble Navigation. So if you want to know about history of this waterway, please come along.

Friday 8 March 2019 7:30 to 9:30 Canal & River Trust Offices, Fearns Wharf, Neptun e Str eet, Leeds LS9 8PB . Talk by Seán McGinley, new Regional Director of CRT Yorkshire & North East with branch AGM afterwards. This is an opportunity to meet the director of CRT’s new Yorkshire & North East Region, which was created as part of the 2018 reorganisation. Seán McGinley was previously Waterway Manager of the East Midlands.

We are delighted to welcome any member of the general public and members are encouraged to bring their friends. To find out more about the waterways or the IWA come and join us at one of our meetings or visit the website The views expressed in this publication are published as being of interest to our members and readers and are not necessarily those of The Inland Waterways Association or of its West Riding Branch. The Inland Waterways Association Registered in England no 612245 Registered as a Charity No 212342 Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453


Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

IWA West Riding Mile Post January 2019  

IWA West Riding Mile Post January 2019