1 to attempt (eg the fulfilment of an obligation) by exertion of effort; 2 archaic to strive to achieve or reach ~ vi to make an effort to do something n a serious determined effort
Northampton Branch Newsletter - August 2012
IWA Northampton Branch Committee member joins South East C&RT Partnership IWA has long promoted the idea that the body managing our inland waterways should be an independent single entity and this was partially realised on the 12th July with the nationwide launch of the Canal & River Trust taking over from British Waterways and The Waterways Trust in England and Wales, thus representing a completely new approach to caring for the country’s waterways. Hopefully, at some future date the navigations managed by the Environment Agency will also be assimilated. Earlier this year Northampton Branch Committee member (and ex. Chairman) Lynda Payton was appointed to the South East Waterway Partnership, one of twelve Regional and one Museums and Attractions Partnerships which have been formed to help shape future policy and decision making for our local waterways. At the local launch party at The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne, Lynda said: “The transition of British Waterways into the charitable sector heralds a new and exciting chapter in the history of our waterways and is probably the most momentous development since IWA was formed in 1946 to campaign for their conservation and restoration. Continued on page 13
The Stoke Bruerne launch of C&RT (Lynda insert)
The IWA was founded in 1946 to campaign for the retention, restoration and development of Britain’s navigable waterways and for their fullest commercial and recreational use. The IWA is a registered Charity (no. 212342) , whose work is supported by members’ subscriptions.
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EDITORIAL MUSINGS On the 12th July the Canal & River Trust took over the running of our canal system from British Waterways, representing a completely new approach to caring for a large slice of the waterways in England and Wales. Now the C&RT is asking for your help by way of volunteering or making a small donation to local projects. There are two of these in our immediate area that are requesting assistance, we are told. First, to create an accessible viewing platform for the spectacular Iron Trunk Aqueduct at Cosgrove, thus ensuring that this incredible, recently restored heritage icon can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. With your help, I understand that the Trust can convert an existing engineering structure by installing a timber decking and modifying the handrail to meet safety regulations. Secondly, Give a Vole a home on the Leicester Line. A 300-metre long stretch between bridges 25 & 26 has eroded and requires urgent repairs to protect the towpath. The Trust needs to raise money to install coir rolls to protect the towpath as well as creating a much needed habitat for water voles and other canal wildlife. By installing coir rolls it seems we can help endangered local water voles increase their chances of survival. I think we should all pull together to aid these projects although, of course, always bearing in mind that we should never compromise the established objectives of our Association. Rememberâ€” we are primarily a campaigning body. These are just two projects; there are others all over the country and to find out more visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk The C&RT aims to build on public passion to return the canals from dereliction and decline through increased fundraising, volunteering and community involvement. Sounds pretty good to me, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Meanwhile, reflect for a moment what at least one navigation in our Branch patch experienced this summer. The pictures were taken at the Middle Nene Cruising Club at Titchmarsh Mill near Thrapston.
8th & 9th & Introduction to Traditional Canal Painting course at the 22nd & 23rd Canal Museum. More details on 01604 862229 9th 2pm Walk about 5 miles starting at Cosgrove Lock, part of the National Heritage Weekend. More details from Athina Beckett on 01908 661217. 11th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Speaker: David Bond — Parks and Gardens along the River Nene 24th 7.45pm IWA Milton Keynes Branch Meeting at Pavilion Community Sports Club, Worelle Ave, Middleton, MK MK10 9AD off Tongwell Street A4146 (V11). Speaker: Richard Thomas - The River Lea or Lee from source to Olympics. 29th & 30th Village at War Weekend, Stoke Bruerne. More details 01604 862229 ( also see pages 9 & 24)
October 11th 8pm
IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Speaker: David Blagrove — Canal Carrying IWA Milton Keynes Branch Meeting at Pavilion Community Sports Club (see above). Speaker TBA
November 10th 7.30 13th 8pm
IWA Northampton Branch Annual Dinner at The Heart of England, Weedon (see page 19) IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Speaker: David Ingleby — The Pennine Crossing, Dereliction and Restoration IWA Milton Keynes Branch Meeting at Pavilion Community Sports Club (see above). Speaker TBA
December 8th 5pm 11th 8pm
Carols and Illuminated Boats at The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree, Blisworth. Quiz Night with Mick & Catriona Butler.
Buckingham Canal Society Work Party Dates September 6th, 9th, 20th, October 4th, 14th, 18th, November 1st, 11th, 15th, 29th December 9th, 13th, 27th.
For further details, please contact Athina Beckett on 01908 661217
Stowe Hill Wharf, Heyford Lane, Weedon, Northants NN7 4SF Tel: 01327 341365 Graham Shepherd and Robert Gudgeon welcome you to Stowe Hill Workshop
Hull Blacking/Stern Gear
Inspection and Repairs
Engine Repairs and Maintenance
Complete Fit-Out and Woodwork Alterations
Plumbing Installations and Repairs
Electrical Installations and Repairs
Stockists of Morris Oils and Grease
Full range of Batteries always available (please let us know your requirements)
By road we are easily found, a few yards off the A5 at Stowe Hill towards Nether Heyford. By boat close to Bridge 26
ALL WORK UNDERTAKEN, FROM SIMPLE TASKS TO COMPLETE FIT-OUTS
Branch Chairman’s Jottings by Bernard Morton I can only offer sincere apologies, as your Chairman, for the cancellation of this year’s Boat Gathering. It has all been a rather sorry story. As has been well documented, the original Gathering in early May was postponed because of high river levels on the Nene, a state of affairs which is only really abating as I write these notes at the end of July. At the time, the organising committee felt they should not abandon the event in 2012 and immediately announced a new date for the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Come early July when the early summer’s rains had eased the water supply situation on the canals - a factor which had understandably reduced the potential participation of boaters from the canal system at the Gathering in May – the organisers perceived a disappointing level of interest in the re-arranged event, demonstrated through a reluctance to confirm attendance at Becket’s Park. It was also noted that several regular attendees, stalwarts involved in the setting up and dismantling of the site, would not be able to be there because of prior holiday arrangements. This left an enormous hole to be filled and as there was just nobody around prepared to commit themselves firmly to plug the gaps, it was decided to cancel in good time before non-recoverable payments were made. I know there are a number of members who have been disappointed by the committee’s decision, but I can assure you it wasn’t taken without great thought and discussion. Now we are looking ahead to the 2013 Gathering. What we really do need though is for more volunteers to join the organising committee, most of whom have been around for a good number of years – and are getting on in years, too! You know where to contact me. Please, we really do need you. Meanwhile, those of you who have taken pictures intending to enter them into our Photographic Competition – please hang on to them. We shall be holding the competition next year with the continuing support of Skears Photographic, of Wellingborough Road, Northampton, the intention being to produce a Branch calendar for 2014, which at the moment seems light years away but will arrive far sooner than many of us may wish! CONGRATULATIONS. My heartiest congratulations to Lynda Payton whose involvement with the new Canal & River Trust is announced in this issue Lynda, who appears to have indefatigable energy and commitment to the waterways cause, is the ideal person to fulfil this role and we wish her well in her endeavours. Bill Joyce, her successor as Branch Chairman, and then myself, have found her a challenging act to follow. I am sure you will join me in wishing her
8 well in her efforts in representing the waterways corner in the C&RT portfolio. I am confident she will do a good job and will keep us posted on what is going on. FLOODS. So we really bought a packet from above this summer! The rains certainly “saved the bacon” on the canals, but didn’t do the river boaters any favours! Well, you can’t have everything. Actually, it is worth remembering that it has been around two years since the River Nene has been in serious flood. I know most of you are aware I keep my boat on the Nene at Titchmarsh Mill. Sometimes the power of the water gushing through the fully opened locks has been truly frightening. In several instances it has taken weeks for boats to get back to Middle Nene CC after attending the river’s primary event of the year at Peterborough YC. Happily, I haven’t heard news of any serious boating mishaps as a result of the high water levels, which illustrates at least that people are taking greater note of the navigation warnings issued by the Environment Agency. The EA’s personnel at all levels I think should be congratulated on their tireless efforts in controlling a river which can so easily, particularly in the past, flood dangerously. Investment in flood control measures do really seem to be working, especially The Washlands scheme alongside the A45 at Northampton. BRANCH ANNUAL DINNER. We are returning to the Heart of England pub at Weedon in November for the Branch annual dinner on Saturday, 10th November. The event there last year seemed to go down very well which merited a “return fixture” this year. We took on board the many comments made afterwards which indicated that, although the entertainer was well received, there is no real need for entertainment during the evening, inferring that people actually prefer to chat informally. It was also pointed out that some of you felt we were packed in too tightly. This observation was taken on board too and the outcome is that we can still accommodate around 50 but with a different table configuration. Enclosed with Endeavour is an entry form for the dinner, and with numbers limited, clearly spaces will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Enjoy your boating and other activities around the waterways for what remains of the summer and into autumn. Please remember that our regular monthly social meetings at the Walnut Tree Inn at Blisworth resume on the second Tuesday in September. As always, Graham Treagus has arranged an interesting range of speakers. Please give these meetings your full support. At some of them Catriona and Mick Butler will be bringing along the Branch sales stand, the proceeds of which raise invaluable funds for waterways causes. As the familiar advertising slogan says, “every little helps”.
Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally survives lock restrictions Despite one of the worst early summers on record - with the cruel combination of rain and lock restrictions - the two-day Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally still went ahead. The weather was cool but largely dry on both days, with heavy rain coming only late on the Saturday night. The field parking held up, 62 historic narrowboats attended – well down on last year’s record 113, but still enough to make a spectacle - and visitor attendance was only about 10% down on last year. Tim Coghlan of Braunston Marina, commented: “We have had narrow escapes with this event in past years, but none came as close as this one!” The Rally was officially opened by BW Chairman Tony Hales, a longtime avid supporter of the event. Sportingly he donned traditional boatman’s kit, and in the well established tradition, at 11.00 am on the Saturday of the Rally, he – with a little help from a Raymond Friend – steered the historic butty Raymond under Braunston Marina’s famous Telford iron bridge, where he declared the Rally open. His entry was fanfared from the quayside by the local Salvation Army band BW Chairman Tony Hales opening the show – to acknowledge the Sallies’ great works in times past and today in serving the poor working boatmen. To keep this annual event special, there is now a focus in alternate years between the large surviving FMC fleet - as featured in 2011 - and all the other fleets with Braunston associations - Samuel Barlows, Blue Line, Nursers, Willow Wren and the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company, which were the feature of the 2012 Rally. This year’s Rally also saw the commemorations of the combined fiftieth anniversaries of the founding at what is today Braunston Marina, and with it the formation of the Blue Line fleet in February 1962 by the energetic modern canal-pioneer Michael Streat. Canal carriers Samuel Barlows had closed its Braunston canal carrying operation and Streat, who had a small hire base in Barlows Yard, acquired the rump of the
11 fleet. Initially he took on four pairs of boats – soon reduced to three - whose liveries were repainted in the Cambridge blue of his hire boat fleet. Through his resourcefulness, Streat kept the fleet going until October 1970 when it made the last long-distance working run under regular contract on the canals. This was the so-called “Jam ’Ole Run.” It went from what is today Braunston Marina up to Atherstone, north of Coventry to load, and then down to Southall in West London to unload at the Kealey & Tonges jam factory. Of the Blue Line fleet of five boats that made that last journey, four survive in working order: Raymond and Nutfield – which are wonderfully maintained by the charity Friends of Raymond, who will be the principle beneficiaries of this year’s Rally - and the privately owned Renfrew and Stanton. All attended the Rally. The fifth boat is the Lucy which is currently undergoing restoration on the bankside at Braunston Turn, on the route of the BW Chairman Tony Hales in traditional boatman’s daily parade. So momentar- attire presenting Edward Parrett (overalls) and Neil ily the whole of that last Hawkin (cloth cap), trustees of the Friends of RayBlue Line fleet was remond, with a £2,000 donation. Tim Coghlan, of united. Braunston Marina, is on the right. Behind is NutEach year produces special field, which has recently undergone major restoracelebrations, and this year tion, including a cabin repaint
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12 one of them was the hundredth birthday of the FMC horse-boat Ilkeston, which visited the Rally for the first time as one of its stops en route to being on display at the London Canal Museum. The boat had recently undergone major restoration in the Heritage Boatyard of the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port – a Working boats at the entrance to the marina task which involved the young trainees in the boatyard, supported by the ‘Skills for the Future’ scheme. The Ilkeston was towed by the National Waterways Museum’s GUCCC Northwich motor Radiant – also visiting our Rally for the first time. Since the Rallies were started in 2003, an astonishing fifty five surviving GUCCC boats, from of its various classes, have attended. One happy-return after an absence of two years for major restoration was the Stoke Bruerne Museum’s Sculptor. The boat looked quite magnificent after burning a lot of the midnight oil to get things ship-shape in the run-up to the Rally. All the historic narrowboats with Braunston connections were moored in the old Oxford Arm in the marina. Other historic narrowboats were moored out on the mainline, thanks to the support of British Waterways. Together they made a fine sight. Many of the historic narrowboats participated in the now famous parades. Another event at the Rally was the first retrospective exhibition of the paintings of the well-known canal artist Alan Firth, who died earlier this year. Through help from his fam-
Nutfield in the parade of boats
13 ily and friends, twenty six of his paintings were on display in an empty workshop especially made-over for the exhibition. Some seventy people attended the formal opening of the exhibition by BW Chairman Tony Hales in the presence of Alan Firth’s three daughters. Through generous sponsorship of the event by Braunston Marina and Canals Rivers + Boats, donations totalling £6,000 were made to the sixteen canal and narrowboat preservation societies who attended the rally. The principle recipient was the Friends of Raymond, who received £2,000, followed by £1,000 for the Friends of the Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne. Other donations were made to local causes including £500 to the restoration of Braunston church – the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’ . Tim Coghlan, owner of Braunston Marina said: “It all came right on the day, and I was impressed that we attracted visitors from as far afield as Canada, the USA, South Africa and Australia especially for the event. The real bonus was when the boats paraded, which is what makes our rally unique and so special. A special thanks to BW and their team for all their support.” The Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally is sponsored by Braunston Marina and Canals Rivers + Boats magazine, and is supported by British Waterways. Braunston Marina will be hosting the event again next year on the same last weekend in June – 29th – 30th June, 2013.
Continued from front page
I’m delighted to be part of the new governance structure which will give more waterway users, communities, organisations and individuals a greater role in how our waterways are managed for the benefit of the nation. I’d also like to urge IWA members to give their support to the new Charity by becoming a Friend and supporting our local fundraising appeals.” Four new fundraising appeals in the South East were announced at the launch. These are: Create a viewing platform at the Iron Trunk Aqueduct; Give a Newt a home in side ponds at Lock 40 on the Grand Union canal; Give a Vole a home along a 300metre-long stretch of the Leicester Line between Bridges 25 and 26; and Create a butterfly highway at Fenny Compton. To find out more or to make a donation (from only £3), speak to Lynda at our next Branch Meeting or see the Appeals page on the C&RT website at http://canalrivertrust.org.uk The IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated, otherwise the Association accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Neither the editor nor IWA can accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the magazine, and opinions stated are those of individual contributors. We will, however, gladly publish corrections if notified. The editor reserves the right to shorten or modify articles published in the interests of clarity or space. The Inland Waterways Association is registered as a charity (No. 212342)
BOB THE BLACKSMITH Visit his forge at the tunnel entrance Take a short stroll to Stoke Bruerne’s southern portal of the famous 1 and 3/4 mile (3km) long Blisworth Tunnel and you will find a classic reminder of a traditional rural craft being carried out by blacksmith Bob Nightingale. In the old Tug Store building, close to the entrance of the tunnel, Bob is steadily building up a viable business, not only selling his goods locally but also to many overseas countries, notably the USA and into Europe. Among his regular customers are the National Trust and English Heritage. A Northampton man, Bob was always keen on metalwork at school. He learnt his blacksmith’s skills at an early age at the hands of a master blacksmith in Dorset. Subsequently he returned to the Northampton area and worked for over 20 years with the village blacksmith in Blisworth. He established his own business in Blisworth in 1990, but as the years passed he found his overheads getting just too expensive and he began looking for alternative premises. The vacant Tug Store proved the ideal location and last year he moved there with all his forge equipment. Already he has become something of a tourist attraction. Working seven days a week – “I really love what I do, it is my life,” he says – with an always open door to his blacksmith’s shop, he will chat happily with visitors, demonstrating the intricacies of his trade. He believes firmly in putting back into society – hence his willingness to explain and demonstrate. Increasingly he is welcoming parties of schoolchildren to his workshop. Bob’s output ranges from making anchors to car chassis, toasting forks, chains, railings, fire baskets, chisels for stone masons, tongs for farriers – the list is endless. His prices are also very competitive. The highlight for visitors is to see his forge burning at full force at temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees centigrade and witness him crafting a piece of ironwork. He says: “I go out of my way to give people a close insight into the blacksmith’s skills and, if the conditions are right, I encourage people, especially youngsters, to have a go at tapping the anvil.” Over the years Bob has trained several youngsters – “no girls yet, apart from my wife!” – but he is concerned for the future as there is little, if any, apprenticeship funding available. “Nothing I do could be more different from operating a computer,” he says. “But I am sure smithy work appeals to some and that such skills will be passed on, although the situation could be rosier.” This article, by Endeavour’s Old Stager, first appeared in the Stoke Bruerne Gala Weekend programme in June
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FINE WEATHER HELPS STOKE BRUERNE GALA ATTRACT THE CROWDS Pirates raising money, an impressive display of pyrotechnics on a floating treasure island and boats galore were part of our fun packed timetable of entertainment at this year’s Gala Weekend at Stoke Bruerne, writes Lynda Payton. With the Northampton Carnival cancelled at the last minute, visitors flocked in to enjoy the pirate spectacle, take boat rides into the famous 1 ¾ mile long Blisworth Tunnel and get a glimpse of what life would have been like on the historic waterway with a display of working narrow boats, canal craft demonstrations, children’s storytelling workshops and one woman theatre shows about life on “the cut” from Roundham Theatre’s Kate Saffin. As usual the weekend kicked off early with an evening performance on the canal side by the waterborne Mikron Theatre Company on Thursday evening and a gettogether with a musical jam session and bar on Friday evening. The weekend continued with live music, model boats, cream teas, champagne and strawberries, tombolas
Crowds gather to look at the boats and visit the varied stalls
17 and trade stalls, children’s games and face painting, vintage canal films, guided heritage walks and a real ale bar. In addition, Stoke Bruerne’s new blacksmith Bob Nightingale was giving regular demonstrations in his forge at the tunnel entrance and on Sunday, hundreds of vintage pre 1931 Sunbeam motorcycles dropped in as part of the Annual Rose of the Shires run through Northamptonshire. There was even a best dressed pirate competition! All-in-all the watery weekend was a wow with everybody. David Blagrove, Chairman of The Friends of the Canal Museum, event organisers, said: “We were absolutely delighted to see so many people enjoying the waterside and all the activities we laid on and our grateful thanks go to Northamptonshire County Council, South Northants Homes and the Co-operative Society who helped cover some of our costs this year, enabling us to raise even more money to help support projects at the museum.” This year visitors travelled to the Festival from as far afield as Northern Italy. Canal Museum Manager David Henderson said: “We were very pleased to be joined by guests from the Museo della Navigazione Fluviale, Battaglia Terme, with whom we
One of the remote control boats on display: this fishing trawler featured sounds of seagulls, a dog barking, a working bilge pump and a seagull on a rotating pole at the stern
Pirates making their escape
are now twinned and which is not far from Venice. Like our museum, our Italian twin was started by a canal worker, Riccardo Cappellozza, one of the last bargemen who amassed a collection of artefacts and persuaded his friend, the local librarian, to help put them on display. Our Italian friends were most impressed by Stoke Bruerne, our museum and the Gala Weekend. We are looking forward to our staff and volunteers making a reciprocal visit to Battaglia Terme in July.â€?
Pyrotechnics played a big part in the pirate enactment, drawing the crowds to watch. Then they came with buckets to relieve you of your money!
Annual Dinner Saturday, 10th November, 2012 The Heart of England, Weedon, 7.30 for 8pm Please bring a raffle prize After the success of the 2011 dinner, we are returning to the Heart of England and we've listened to comments made last year and decided not to have any entertainment. Also, numbers will be strictly limited to 50 (as some felt it was overcrowded last year), so it’s first come, first served!
Please book early to avoid disappointment. OLYMPIC TORCH CROWDS? NO WAY, OUR NATIONAL WAS THE BIGGER ATTRACTION! The arrival of the Olympic Torch at Northampton’s Becket’s Park in early July not unsurprisingly drew big crowds - but in no way approaching the sheer numbers of people who thronged to the Park in August 1971 when the local IWA staged the Association’s National Rally (now Festival) there, writes Old Stager. Over three days, literally thousands came along to see what it was all about. No-one was able to make a reliable estimate of the overall attendance - people were pouring in from all sides. The Sunday was the most hectic, with a solid mass of people in the afternoon queuing patiently down the path from Victoria Prom to the riverside to gain entry to the rally site. I know what it was like as I was there taking money at the gate. I confidently believe that our National in l971 attracted the biggest crowds ever to Becket’s Park, before or since. I can’t see them being exceeded — unless we stage another National!
Old Stager writes…
“MARINAS – WHY NOT SIMPLY CALL THEM BOAT-HARBOURS?” I was pleasingly surprised by the reaction, admittedly mainly among the grey-beards, to my reminiscences of John Gagg in the last Endeavour. Indeed, they do remember him well, and with some affection, and enjoyed his style of writing which engaged him easily with those of all ages in the waterways world. Others younger said they would keep an eye open for his books on the second-hand circuit. I wish them successful searching. So I thought I would take another look at John’s writings, again from his A Canal and Waterways Armchair Book (published by David and Charles in 1975) to see what he had to say about marinas. Remember, he was penning this in the early 1970s. He starts off by stating that the word ‘marina’ does not yet appear in dictionaries but here I would like to take him to task because it does in mine of that era. Not to worry, as John points out that ‘marine’ means ‘to do with the sea’, since it is from the Latin for ‘sea’. He goes on: “To use the word ‘marina’ on inland waterways, then, seems ridiculous, but it looks as if it is here to stay. It would be more sensible and pleasant, though, to use the word ‘harbour’, which means ‘a refuge for boats’. And I still hope that future developers will call their refuges harbours. (Sorry, John, that just didn’t happen). “Anyhow, whatever their name, these gatherings of boats alongside waterways seem to rouse strong feelings. Older enthusiasts talk sarcastically about ‘boat-parks’, and imply that here is a sort of motorway-mentality coming on to the waterways. This seems to me a strange attitude, and I feel that what they are really saying is that they would rather not have all those boats on the waterways at all. For without the boatparks the same boats would be moored in endless lines all along canals and rivers, most certainly destroying all pleasure for boaters, anglers and walkers alike, and looking like cars in London suburban streets. “An unspoken objection to marinas is that one has to pay to moor in them. Some
21 people are funny about this. They happily invest several thousand pounds in a boat, then fall over themselves to avoid having to pay anyone for mooring it. If they can get away with it they will tie it to a tree somewhere, then complain bitterly if the local hooligans have broken into it, cast it adrift, or even – as has happened – set it on fire. Of course many people hate paying to park a car, so maybe this is some quirk of human nature. “For two reasons, then, surely boat-harbours are good ideas. They not only gather boats together where they have some greater degree of safety, but they also help to ensure that the waterways themselves are clear and peaceful for people to use. “There is one thing that needs to be said, however. It is important that any new harbours should be sited in sensible places. Some parts of our waterways have far too many moorings already, so that at weekends the surrounding waters and locks are in chaos. In one place, undoubtedly, the number of boatyards and marinas permitted nearby has led to lock closures. Yet there are great lengths of waterway, particularly near London, where there are no sizeable moorings for boats at all. “The obvious places for new harbours are firstly well away from existing collections of boats, and secondly well away from possible bottlenecks such as flights of locks or narrow channels and heavily built-up areas. More harbours in the right places would be very welcome, and if there were enough of them this would help to keep mooring charges down. “There are several points which new developers (or for that matter some existing owners) might consider. If someone is paying to moor his boat, he will surely need, for example, his own reserved stretch of pier, so that he does not come back from a cruise and find someone else tied to it. He should be able to get there or leave without having to move other boats out of the way. He should be able to get near to his boat with his car, so that he does not have to lug things for long distances. There should be somewhere to leave the car itself in safety. Fuel and water-points should be easily accessible and not always cluttered up with other boats. There should be rubbish and toilet-disposal points, competent repair services, and winter facilities. “The whole aesthetic idea of a mass of boats gathered together in this way is certainly distasteful. But to my mind it is far less distasteful than to have 2,000 miles of waterway lined with boats, bouncing into each other as everyone else passes, some sinking, some abandoned for ever, many with covers adrift in the breeze. Linear moorings can become the major eyesores of our waterways.” And so it came to pass – and who can honestly argue with his final observation? These sorties into the past (and amazing, to the oldies at least, to think that the 70s can now legitimately fall into that category) are not only fascinating but thoughtprovoking as to how the overall situation has evolved.
Buckingham Canal Society Our Annual Festival took place over the weekend of 21st-22nd July and this year on the Sunday we held a combined day with the Iron Trunk celebrations. Unfortunately, as some of you may already know, my partner Jonathan Brown and I were in a car crash a week before the festival so unfortunately because of the accident I was unable to spent as much time as I had hoped at the festival but I was there on Sunday lunchtime and the towpath was packed with people walking from both sites. We were very fortunate with the weather this year and we reckoned that we had about 3,000 attending the festival and the funds raised exceeded last year with over ÂŁ1,500 collected. Like other outside events this year, our tasks have been made that much harder because of the amount of rain we have had this summer. The work parties that have been taking place at the Nature Reserve have spent half of the time removing water from the lock chamber so that the work of re-pointing the lock can begin. This is all rather ironic as at two of our other sites we are desperate to have water in them! Work has been continuing to remove the very thick, dense mud from the bottom of the lock chamber. Part of the remains of the old lock gates have been found at the bottom of the lock and discussions are taking place as to the best way to remove these gates so that they can be replaced with the gates donated by BW from the Northampton Arm. If it proves impossible to remove the gates by hand, the plan is to wait until we have an excavator on site in September and to remove the old gates and install the new gates on the same day. The re-pointing work has gone well with the lock chamber wing walls completed and work continuing on the rest of the lock. Two of our volunteers attended a WRG training weekend and are now qualified to drive dumper trucks and excavators. The plan is to hire in a 20 tonne tracked excavator for the weekend of the 29th-30th September to install the lock gates. To make access to the site easier, a farm gate also needs to be installed at the west end of the canal bed so that the excavator installing the larger of the gates can be brought along the canal bed. We hope to carry our this work on Sunday 9th September. The two smaller lock gates will be brought across the Poor Law land and through the gap in the hedge and then lifted into position. Preparation work needs to be carried out by our volunteers in August before this can happen. Hopefully, by the beginning of October, the lock gates will be in place and give a real boost to the nature reserveâ€™s appearance. In September we have two groups from Santander joining us on site at Cosgrove. These groups will be helping our volunteers install two gates along the towpath at Cosgrove. Once installed these gates will allow access to the far end of the canal by Bridge No.1 by dumper trucks and excavators, allowing the work to build the earth dams to take place from October onwards and the first trials to re-water this section of canal hopefully to be carried out before Christmas.
23 Once the work at Cosgrove is completed we plan to move the work parties to Bourton Meadow from about January 2013. They will then start to carry out the smaller tasks involved with re-watering this section of canal. Once funding for the major part of this project is secured, an access point across the River Ouse will be built to allow contractor’s vehicles to carry out the re-lining of this section of canal, hopefully in the summer of 2013 As part of the National Heritage Weekend, I’m leading a five-mile heritage walk starting at Cosgrove Lock at 2pm on Sunday 9th September and Northampton IWA members will be joining us. Milton Keynes IWA members are also very welcome. We look forward to seeing you all on this walk with us. Athina Beckett Buckingham Canal Society.
Boat Gathering cancelled Uncertainties over the number of boat entries because of holiday commitments and a consequent lack of adequate site manpower led to the cancellation of this year’s Branch annual Boat Gathering at Becket’s Park, Northampton, over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Gathering had already been postponed from May as a result of high river levels on the Nene. However, it is hoped normal service will resume in 2013 and the dates of 3-6 May, the early Spring Bank Holiday, have already been earmarked for the event. See Chairman’s Jottings on page 7.
NEW BRANCH MEMBERS ARE WELCOMED We extend a warm welcome to the following IWA members who have joined Northampton Branch since the last issue of Endeavour NEW MEMBERS Mr D & Mrs H Aird, Ringstead, Kettering Mr M Bean & Mrs M Bradford, Kettering Mr A Miller, Rushden Mr T & Mrs L Munton-Willis, Billing Aquadrome Mr P Brumbridge, Yelvertoft TRANSFERRING TO THE BRANCH Mr I Lindsay, Upper Harlestone
We look forward to meeting you all at Branch events
CANAL VILLAGE PREPARES FOR WAR AGAIN STOKE BRUERNE STEPS BACK IN TIME TO THE 40s
Friday 28th September – Sunday 30th September For the fifth year in succession, Stoke Bruerne is preparing to step back in time some seventy years to the days of the Second World War. As in previous years visitors will be able to experience life in the forties including air raids, watch detachments of the Home Guard undertaking their duties, take cover in a bomb shelter and learn to ‘do’ the Lambeth Walk. Members of living history groups from all around the country will be in evidence. Watch out for the Women’s Land Army who will be ‘digging for victory’ and .Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Winston Churchill PC, and Field Marshal Montgomery inspecting the troops. This year on Saturday, a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be buzzing the skies overhead at 1.30pm and on Sunday morning there will be a Drumhead Service on the lock side. Musical entertainment will be provided by singer Lola Lamour and George Formby look-alike Paul Casper, while the Village Hall will be hosting a Tea Dance provided by Ruzzit Buzzit (with full instruction for novices). On Saturday evening there will be a Swing Dance at nearby Roade Village Hall with Sticky Wicket and Linda Morris. As usual tea and cakes will be available at the Nippy Tea Rooms (aka Stoke Bruerne Primary School) and a collection of military vehicles will be on parade. On Friday night there will be a Forties Music Night in the Navigation pub with Lola Lamour appearing, and on both days there will be a reminisces exhibition and fashion show at the Church. David Blagrove, Chairman of the organisers, The Friends of The Canal Museum said: “Stoke Bruerne has changed little in the last seventy years and the canalside provides a setting that is unrivalled for both its intimacy and its ambience. We are immensely grateful to the residents of Stoke Bruerne who not only put up with the bangs and air raid sirens but enthusiastically decorate their houses in appropriate 40s style for visitors to enjoy.”
Various items of military hardware will be on display and there will be an assortment of working boats tied up along the canal. A representative of the Ministry of War Transport will be on hand to ensure that traffic is kept moving and that boatmen do not spend valuable working time in the licensed premised beside the canal. Refreshments, hopefully off ration but not Black Market, will be available on both days. Because of the open nature of the village, the organisers will be asking for an admission fee of £5.00 per adult and £2 per car payable at the village car parks. Admission for children under 16 accompanied by an adult is free. All surplus proceeds go to the organisers, the Friends of the Canal Museum, a Registered Charity, who thereby manage to support the Museum and its work. For further information please see www.friendsofcanalmuseum.org.uk. All photos from last year’s Village at War
Thousands flock to Blisworth for annual Canal Festival Jan Andrews reports: The annual Blisworth Canal Festival, staged over the weekend 11-12 August, is over. The team is exhausted, although an hour of blowing our own trumpet has left us riding on a wave of thinly disguised euphoria. Our third canal festival has been a blistering success. All of the hard work and planning has been long forgotten. It was finally decided that we had 3,000 cars in the parking field on both days and a total of 20,000+ visitors. Traders and attractions are clambering to book in for next year. The invited charities are sending in the amounts they raised and this should reach a collective total of several thousands of pounds. Someone has suggested that we organise a music festival at the same time, and why not? A canalside display arena has been offered and two time slots already filled. Planning for 2013 starts tomorrow. The word free will feature heavily again, it's our trademark.
A busy scene at the ever popular Blisworth Canal Festival held in August
BLACKSMITH in Tug Store at tunnel entrance, Stoke Bruerne Wrought Iron Work for Boat or Garden
For further details, either visit or ring O1604 859726 / 07761 833049
Deaths on our waterways The tragic drowning of a two-year-old boy in the canal at Far Cotton, Northampton, about 100 yards from his home, has led to his father calling for the canal at this point to be fenced off. The incident, at the end of July, happened on the length between Lock 17 (bottom lock on the Arm) and the Towcester Road bridge spanning the canal where there is a good, firm path ideal for walking or cycling. The boy was reported last seen playing in the street with his favourite bike. Apparently other children were around. Friends, family and neighbours began a search, with a police officer eventually finding him lying covered by reeds in the water. Despite resuscitation attempts, the boy later died in hospital. The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reported the Canal & River Trust’s sadness at the boy’s death. However, a Trust spokesman warned that fencing off the canal might not be a solution. He said: “Although fencing can be seen as one way of preventing access to the canal, it is not always suitable. In many cases fencing off the waterway can actually hamper rescue efforts of the emergency services should they need to quickly gain access to the water. As a result of his tragic accident and part of our own investigations, we will carry out further risk assessments of the area and make a decision [about additional safety measures].” On July 20th, police officers were called to Braunston Marina where the recovery team pulled a man’s body from the water. It is believed he kept his boat moored there. On July 24th, a 15-year-old boy drowned after diving from a bridge and getting into difficulties on the Nene between Woodford and Denford. The Northamptonshire Telegraph has revealed that half of the life-belts along the Nene are missing as it is the Environment Agency policy not to replace them if they are vandalised or stolen three times. Villagers, organised by the local pub landlord, have launched a fundraising drive to pay for replacement life-belts. On August 4th, police were called to a remote location on the Grand Union Leicester Line near West Haddon where a male in his 40s, who lived on his boat, was removed from the water. It is thought he had been in the water for about two days.
Book Reviews “Cattle & Sheep & Boats” by Geoffrey Lewis (Soft back, £7.99, SGM Publishing, firstname.lastname@example.org) This follows on from the Michael Baker trilogy and follows the life of Michael and Harriet who went to Australia to run a farm that was left to them. The book is all letters being sent to England from Australia and the replies, keeping all their friends informed of what is happening in their lives. A very good book giving a true description of what people would write in letters, from the mundane to news of good and bad things. If you have read the trilogy, this is a must read with a lot of interesting facts about the Baker family and their friends.
“Gameboy” by Geoffrey Lewis (Soft back, £8.99, SGM Publishing, email@example.com) This is another Geoffrey Lewis crime novel with D I David Russell, the 5th of these novels. There are a lot of twists and turns with nosey neighbours helping out. Another good read. Editor
28 The Little Mermaid Gift Shop at Stoke Bruerne is open again, but we’re now called
DAY BOAT HIRE FROM BRAUNSTON
Cruise either towards Napton or Hillmorton and return
Opening times Wed-Sun 10.30am - 4pm Canalware, Wooden Toys, Rag Dolls, Novelty Soaps and Bath Accessories, Jewellery, Giftware and more
The Ouzel 11 seats up to 12 people. It has hot and cold water in the galley, crockery, cutlery and glasses on board, a gas ring, kettle and flush toilet. Buoyancy aids on request. Prices: Weekends and Bank Holidays: £145.00 Monday - Friday: £110.00 Returnable deposit: £50.00
A warm welcome for all old and new customers
UNION CANAL CARRIERS LTD,
The Wharf, Stoke Bruerne, NN12 7SE
Braunston Pump House, Dark Lane, Braunston, Daventry, Northants. NN11 7HJ
Tel: 01604 863148 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel 01788 890784
Fax 01788 891950
SUPPLIES We are a family run, customer friendly business based adjacent to Bridge 32 at Nether Heyford. Our service point is clear of moored boats making your stop quick and easy. We offer the following services:
DIESEL – always competively priced PUMP OUT – no meter clock here BLUE TOILET FLUID ODORLOS – organic waste tank treatment CALOR GAS – all sizes of bottled gas including Camping Gaz. SOLID FUELS – all types of smokeless fuel or coal. Plus firelighters, sticks and logs. CHARNWOOD STOVES – all sizes of multi-fuel stoves with or without boilers MORRIS OILS – popular grades of engine oil plus water resistant grease FUEL SET FUEL CONDITIONER
Most Major Credit Cards Accepted. Open: 8.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 1.00pm on Saturdays
Fred Tarry Bridge Cottage Furnace Lane Nether Heyford Northampton, NN7 3JY
RESTAURANT º BARS º BOAT TRIP DINE IN STYLE IN WOODWARD’S CANALSIDE RESTAURANT 01604 862428 www.boatinn.co.uk
RECYCLING REMINDER The Branch recycles ink jet cartridges and mobile phones to raise cash to help local projects. Please bring them along to Branch meetings or ring 01604 767212 to arrange collection. Please no Epson ink tanks.
Evelyn Hunt’s WWll Diary on the Northampton Arm In the February issue of ENDEAVOUR, we included a small extract from Tim Coghlan’s current serialisation in CANALS RIVERS + BOATS of the newly discovered canal war diary of Evelyn Hunt, an ‘Idle Woman’ – in which she visited our Walnut Tree Inn at Blisworth. We now include a longer piece of her one recorded visit to Northampton, after loading at Limehouse Basin. The diary, now owned by the Stoke Bruerne Museum, gives a fascinating daily insight into life on the canals and the Home Front in 1943. Friday, 23rd July 1943 Bull’s Bridge We have never taken longer than we did today to get from Limehouse to the top of the locks. Audrey was on the motor most of the way and there were horse barges and the cement barge with the motor ahead of us so that we had to breast up outside every lock and hang about for some time. We started up to leave the Dock soon after 6.30 am. We did not reach the top of the locks till about 12.30, then we had a good run to the Bridge which we reached about 5.30 pm. We pumped the Butty, which seems to let in rather a lot of water now and I went home for the night. We are bound for Northampton with a cargo of sausage meat, which is rather fun. (We now move on a couple of days)
A stern view. Wrapped in concentration, Audrey Harper at the helm of the GUCCC motor Sun and towing the butty Dipper under a road bridge in London’s East End in May, 1944. Known to the GUCCC authorities as Steerer Harper, she was in effect captain of the trio of Idle Women, known to their namesakes as Audrey-AnneEvelyn – the christian names of the trio. (John Monnington Collection)
32 Monday, 26th July 1943 Thrup Bridge (Ed: Castlethorpe Bridge – called Thrup Bridge by the boatmen, between Stoke Bruerne and Cosgrove) No misadventures today amongst our friends or the crew and we arrived at Thrup in good time, though we found too much mud to tie near the Bridge and were forced to go astern, uncomfortably and with difficulty, to the first pair of stumps! We all picnicked on the bank again and as we had finished our meal two Josser motors came up and tied ahead of us. The two steerers were very friendly, but I think they thought us quite mad, especially when they saw Anne and Elinor preparing to camp out in the field! They thought it very strange that, in the normal way, Anne, Audrey and I didn’t all sleep in the butty, so that we could have a fire all day in the motor and roast joints, etc there! We went up to the pub for a drink, but met these two coming away, telling us that they had run out of beer. But they let us have some water at the pub and we saw a paper which told us of Musso’s abdication. Hooray! (Ed: Mussolini) It is an attractive pub and the back seems stories higher than the front and the back window looks out high on the cut! (Ed: The Navigation Inn still exists, much as described here – except the beer is now plentiful and good.) Tuesday, 27th July 1943 Northampton Our entrance into the unknown was less dignified than when we went to Leicester, as Elinor waited at the Arm End Bridge with a cup of cocoa for Audrey, hoping to be picked up and in the picking up process Audrey got the stern on the mud and we stemmed up on the corner. I had previously visited the bakery at Blisworth and had come back with two really hot loaves. The funny little baker was very hot and the sweat was running down from under his red wig. I sympathised, for I was sweating too, having run from the tunnel mouth, along the tow path, up by the first bridge, and through the village to the bakehouse. It is a charming village. The Northampton Arm is very narrow – hardly more than a boat’s width across and bordered by banks of rushes, some of them sporting handsome pink flowers. At one point I quite wondered if we had come the right way, but, as we had just hauled the butty down 13 single locks, we thought we must be on the right road! It was hard work hauling the butty and it was terrifically hot, so at the 13th lock we stopped and had a picnic lunch and Elinor and Phil bathed. Then on to Northampton, where we found a minute little petrol crane unloading the boats. We were all driven into town in a lorry, and went to the pictures. Phil left in the evening. Wednesday, 28th July 1943 Northampton In a way today was wasted for me, as I spent most of the morning waiting to
33 have, and having my tooth pulled out! But it was worth any time to feel that I shall not be bothered by constant toothache any more. Audrey and I went into the town early, tried to see Mr Dale, but he was out; then she went to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to find an occultist, and I went across the road to the house with the brass plates on the door to see if one of the Dentists could remove my tooth for me. The nurse person was very nice and asked me to wait, which I did in a room full of people. From time to time these Dentists, some grinning and some solemn, would put their heads round the door like vultures and pick out their next victims. After some time the nurse came and picked me for torture and one of the vultures gave me gas and pulled out my tooth – a very unusual extraction, he said, for apparently my back molars are blessed with 3 prongs instead of 2! Elinor left in the afternoon and we miss our kind friends. I went to bed early as my tooth was paining me, but I couldn’t rest much as boys were bathing all around and would climb onto the boats and dive off.
‘The Northampton Arm is very narrow…It was hard work hauling the butty and it was terrifically hot.’ Evelyn & Co had to bow-haul the loaded butty Dipper down 13 of the 17 single locks of the Northampton Arm. However, in 1947 the canals were nationalised and an unforeseen benefit from this was that the new British Waterways Board started keeping a horse at Northampton Top Lock to assist loaded butties going down the flight, as seen here in 1962. The butty was one of the relatively new ‘bluetop’ steel butties, fitted with fibreglass hatch covers. It was loaded with wheat for the mills at Wellingborough. The year after this photograph was taken, BWB ceased narrowboat carrying. (David Blagrove / M.J. Payler)
34 Thursday, 29th July 1943 Halfway up to the locks between Northampton and Blisworth I shall never forget this night spent in the locks half way up, on our return journey to Southall. It was so hot at Northampton – quite exhausting, and I was envious of the lads who were swimming in the cut, diving off the swing bridge and looking so cool and happy. At 7 o’clock we set off having had to refuse a very kind invitation, sent by some lumberjacks, to have dinner with them at the Grand Hotel. They were a nice pair. We met them first as we were winding the motor and they came and helped us. One had been in the Army and had lost one eye and badly damaged one hand and the other had been in the Air Force; and now they were both felling trees in the neighbourhood. They sent a small boy with a note inviting us out, and we saw them as we passed through the first lock. Such a beautiful peaceful evening, gradually cooling – a wonderful clear sky with whisks of windy cloud and the sun sinking red behind the wooded hills. It was tiring bringing the boats up, but we had our reward when we reached lock no. 8 where we left the boats and picnicked in the dusk on the grassy lock side. Audrey and I took our towels and soap and bathed and swam in a lock. It was beautifully warm in the water and we slept out on the lock side.
A double take photo of Evelyn, believed to be working a lock on the Northampton Arm. She looks like a Sloane Ranger par excellence!
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ADVERTISING All advertisements must comply with the requirements of the Trades Descriptions Act and avoid misrepresentation of goods offered for sale. The Business Advertisements (Disclosure) Order 1977 requires that businesses seeking to sell goods must clearly indicate this in an advertisement.
COMMERCIAL RATES (suggested donations) 1/4 Page (box) £12.00 1/2 Page (box) £25.00 Full Page £40.00 Discount of 10% for 4 issues Other sizes by arrangement
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BRANCH SOCIAL MEETINGS Regular Branch Social Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to May inclusive at THE WALNUT TREE INN, BLISWORTH at 8pm All members and non-members welcome. Food and drink available
Tuesday, 11th September Speaker: David Bond — Parks and Gardens along the River Nene Tuesday, 9th October Speaker: David Blagrove — Canal Carrying Tuesday, 13th November Speaker: David Ingleby — The Pennine Crossing Dereliction & Restoration Tuesday, 11th December Quiz with Mick & Catriona Butler The next edition of Endeavour will be published November 2012
WHOâ€™S WHO IN NORTHAMPTON BRANCH 2012/2013 Bernard Morton
E-mail: bernard.morton @waterways.org.uk
E-mail: graham.treagus @waterways.org.uk
Branch Secretary Sandie Morton E-mail: sandie.morton @waterways.org.uk
Membership Secretary & Planning Officer Geoff Wood E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Chairman & Police Liaison Officer Eric Young E-mail: email@example.com
Boat Gathering Chairman Michael Butler E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer & Planning Officer
Alex Madisons E-mail: alex.madisons @waterways.org.uk
Newsletter & Website Editor Tony Clarke 07939 977859 E-mail: tony.clarke @waterways.org.uk
Michael Butler (Chairman), Catriona Butler, Roger Hasdell, Alex Madisons, Bernard Morton, Sandie Morton, John Pomfret, Sam Samuells and Eric Young (also occasional members Ian Bekusch and Peter Canfield)
Archivist, Endeavour Advertising & Distribution
Catriona Butler 01604 473756
Roger Hasdell 01604 767212
IWA Northamton Branch Newsletter August 2012