BEAR ESSENTIALS The Newsletter of : -
IWA Warwickshire Branch Issue No. 39 – April 2014.
Friends In Deed In mid January, in a ‘groundbreaking’ initiative by CRT, five Warwickshire Branch members joined seven other CRT - WM volunteers to assist the professionals with some critical remedial work to lock 40 on the southern Stratford Canal. For some years now a growing ‘bulge’ in the lower, near-side wing-wall of the lock, combined with some subsidence in the quadrant brickwork above, had caused BW, now CRT, some concern; however, tackling the problem never quite made it onto any high-priority list for winter maintenance.
Apprehensively watched by husband Nick, and fellow Branch member Neil Skerry; committee member Carole Nicholson, acquaints herself with some of the ‘Big Boy’s Toys’ used on this project. Meanwhile (below) Pat Rudeck just gets on with the job. Photos by Steve Lambert of CRT.
Such problems don’t go away, and if left un-tackled, sooner or later, at the very least, can lead to boats jamming when using the lock; or, at worst, result in a ‘blow-out’ – with far more serious consequences for all traffic on this busy canal. th This year above all; the 50 anniversary of the reopening of the canal, with traffic-flows on the southern Stratford likely to be the largest ever, as boaters head to and from Stratford and the Avon for a summer of celebration; the consequences of closure were too great to contemplate. This probably was a factor in CRT’s thinking when they conceived such an ambitious volunteer project to help bring this into their winter maintenance programme - and in turn was of course a factor in our willingness to help CRT. Whether the twelve volunteers were ‘Friends of CRT’ – or, as IWA members, were ‘Friends of the Waterways’ - didn’t matter; at a time of need they were all ‘friends in deed’.
So far this year one cannot but be impressed by the quantity, quality and sheer variety of the volunteering work that members have undertaken. From the quiet, unglamorous, on-going, ‘back-room’ work of cataloguing thousands of waterway slides at the County Records Office, to Stratford’s Lock 40 high-profile rebuild, our Branch members have been ‘popping up’ with a ubiquity that almost matches that of CRT’s CEO – Richard Parry. There is far more enthusiasm in general around for our inland waterways now, and here at the heart of the network our Branch, and you its members, more than reflect this. Enthusiasm can be catching, and last month it seemed to have been caught by more than 80 members and local residents, in what was – by a long way – our most successful ‘clean-up’ to-date. See page 3. Some months ago I wavered when wondering how we could rise to the ‘Year of The Bear’ challenge in 2013-14; but I now feel quite confident that we can. Editor:
Ian Fletcher. Committee Changes:
At our AGM, our secretary Tina Jackson stood down, and our long-serving treasurer Anthony Davies announced his move to a ‘temporary tax-haven’ in n-east China! - fortunately Ian Jackson has agreed to assist by looking after financial matters here ‘on the ground’ in Warwickshire, and Greta Russell will undertake secretarial matters until a Tina replacement can be found. However, despite these moves, the need for ‘new blood’ is now even more pressing – as our Chairman comments on page 2.
Bear in Mind:
An outline of upcoming activities.
Our Spring / Summer Programme of Activities. Unless otherwise stated, evening events take place at:
The Sports ConneXion, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry CV8 3FL All evening meetings start at 7:30 pm. Sunday Morning
April 6th 2014: A walk along part of the Wreake Navigation, arranged by Ian Jackson. Meet 10:30am. at Leicester Rd. Sports Ground car-park, off the A607 in Melton Mowbray. April 9th 2014: Boating on Less Tranquil Waters, by Roger Clay. In his inimitable style, Roger offers us this guide to safe boat-handling and mooring, on both tidal and non-tidal rivers. May 14th 2014: Historic Narrowboats – A boat-spotting guide, by Alison Smedley MBE. As owner of an ex-working boat, and ‘leading light’ in the Historic Narrow Boat Club, Alison is the ideal person to guide us through the subtleties of design and decoration in this fascinating facet of our waterway heritage. May 18th 2014: A walk around Alvecote & the Coventry Canal, led by Pat Rudeck. Meet at 10:30am. at The Samuel Barlow pub*, Alvecote Marina, B78 1AS, or GR:SK249044. for an easy 4 mile walk. *Note the new start point. June 11th 2014: A walk around the R. Avon & G.U. in Warwick, led by Sue Roy. Meet at 7:30pm. outside the Punch-Bowl pub. At Priory Rd. / Cape Rd. junction, in Warwick. July 9th 2014: A walk and a Picnic at Lapworth, led by Richard Sanders. Meet at 7:30pm. at Brome Hall Lane car park.
.Work Party Info* th
A/ Aickman Memorial, Harvington, nr. Evesham Saturday April 12 . B/ ‘East-Enders’: CRT-SE organised ‘tasters’ on the N-GU east of Bridge 34. th a) Radford bottom lock (Lock 23). Friday April 25 , at 10:30am. b) Stockton Flight. Yet to be arranged, check web-sites for further info. st C/ CRT-WM Towpath task-force: a) 1 Mon & Wed of the month – Hatton. rd b) 3 Thur & Sat of the month - Lapworth. th th D/ IWA’s National Himalayan Balsam Bash Week 19 – 27 July *Note: For the most up-to-date information on Branch work-parties (and all other Branch activities) see our Branch page on the IWA web-site. << www.waterways.org.uk/warwickshire >>
Thank you to all those of you who attended the AGM, and particularly to Helen Henderson – who in her fascinating talk afterwards let us into some of the secrets of the Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant. However, I was disappointed that in the business meeting beforehand members appeared reluctant to volunteer to serve on the branch committee. The committee is essential to the smooth running of the branch and new members bring fresh ideas. We particularly need members with PR / publicity and secretarial skills. For a full list of committee members and vacancies please see our web-page. That said, we have had three very successful events this quarter, one being a clean-up of the Leamington stretch of the Grand Union which attracted support from two organisations: Army Cadets and Warwick University Students – covering the whole age group we need to encourage if the waterways are to be appreciated, used and maintained in the future. The other two events have completed the vegetation clearance on the Hatton flight and started the reinstatement of a safe pathway between locks 30 and 31. In coming weeks we will arrange further work parties to complete this work – look out for announcements of dates. The Stratford River Festival is fast approaching. Warwickshire branch will be running its own marquee with a display of our activities over the last year. To encourage the general public into our marquee we need to provide a number of activities which appeal to young people and adults. Help is needed now to plan and prepare the design of displays, creation of games and other attractions. During the festival, from th th Friday 4 to Sunday 6 July we will need at least six people on duty in the marquee. This means that we need at least a dozen volunteers from our branch to be involved. If you can help for half a day or more, please tell a committee member or preferably email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bear-faced Lines: Walking the World:
Photo by Greta Russell.
Random snippets from around the patch: The Robert Aickman Memorial: The Aickman Memorial at Harvington, along with its adjacent lock, was built and unveiled in 1983 – two years after Aickman’s death. Over the last 30 years it has suffered the ravages of a river in flood many times, and it is starting to look a little ‘tired’. Surely in this, the year of the centenary of Robert Aickman’s birth we should give his memorial some of the ‘tlc’ it deserves; and we should do this not just to honour the memory of someone closely associated with the Avon restorations, but someone without whom there would probably be neither an IWA, nor indeed a national inland waterway network as we know it today.
Not content with walking across Canada* in January; some of our more energetic members, as seen above, walked a ‘great circle’ route from Napton to New Zealand** and back in February. Could any other IWA Branch’s members have walked so far on just two Sunday strolls – and still got back to the pub by lunchtime ! ? * For Canada, read Canada Bridge, Bridge 60, southern Stratford Canal. ** For New Zealand, read New Zealand Farm - between the Oxford Canal and the northern GU, near Stockton. What on earth (!) could be the next serious challenge for Warwickshire’s worldly wanderers ? California anyone ?
Leamington Clean-Up: The word successful somehow just doesn’t seem to do justice to our recent clean-up of the GU in Leamington on March 9th. Much of the credit for this must go to branch member Brian Bayston, who: through his links with CRT arranged the provision of the tug and hopper, through family contacts arranged for an impressive number of Warwick University students to join us, and through local publicity had attracted a platoon of local Army Cadets, and many local residents, to join in as well. He also arranged some superb weather ! The day’s final statistics were impressive. More than 80 people took part! - including many locals simply out for a Sunday stroll. Not only was this our largest turn-out to date, but also our largest ‘haul’ yet – with some 50 supermarket trolleys and 20 bikes heading the list! And all this from a mere 1½ mile section of the canal from Clemens St. to The Avon Aqueduct at Emscote.
Photo by Antony Carver.
The above photo shows how difficult it was towards the end of the day for Steve Lambert and his CRT push-tug driver to see over their load, and also how difficult it was becoming for Brian to take on yet more scrap.
Photo by Richard Sanders.
Pat Rudeck and Richard Sanders recently visited the site to assess what ‘we’ can do. Consequently a workth party has been arranged for Saturday April 12 . The location is not easy to find, and - because of travel distances involved - car-sharing will be beneficial. Anyone interested in joining this work-party should contact Richard Sanders on 01926-403179 or e-mail: < email@example.com .>
On-going Items: Kingswood Finger Post: The post has now been disassembled and removed from site. The ’upright’ has been repainted; and the three ‘fingers’ are being repaired and repainted by individual members at home. We hope that the post will be re-installed in the th next few weeks, and officially ‘dedicated’ on July 8 – th the 25 anniversary of the original unveiling. We must thank Nick & Carole Nicholson for ‘driving’ this project. East Enders: With the notable exception of trip hazard removal at lock 13, we can report little ‘on the ground’ progress in improvements to the CRT-SE section of the northern GU. CRT-SE are aware that, with all our commitments elsewhere, we are unable at present to ‘lead’ on any improvements on this stretch, but individual members are encouraged to support CRT’s local efforts. They are planning ‘taster sessions’ to encourage local residents to volunteer, the first one of which is planned for Radford Semele bottom lock on th Friday April 25 at 10:30am. Members who are able to, are encouraged to attend – suitably attired.
Stop Press ! With appearances in four of the six photos used in this edition, our ‘Man of The Match’ award this time must go to ……. Pat Rudeck.
Bear with us:
Friends and Neighbours.
Braunston Boat Gathering:
Impatiens glandulifera may look attractive; but neither its looks, nor its impressive sounding Latin name enable Himalayan Balsam to escape the fact that this invasive species is now regarded as a pernicious weed – and particularly so alongside a growing number of our inland waterway corridors.
IWA Northamptonshire Branch will be holding its usual May Bank Holiday weekend boat gathering – nd this year running from Friday May 2 to Monday th May 5 . However, for the first time in its long history, it will move from its original Northampton venue to Braunston. Attractions include:- Music, Real Ale, Guided Walks, and Boaters Auctions. Admission is free, but boat entries cost £15. Boat entry forms or further details are available from the Northants Branch web-page.
Stoke Bruerne Family Festival: th
IWA is now so concerned about the wider implications of this burgeoning ‘blight’ that a national ‘Himalayan Balsam Bashing Week’ is being planned th th - spread over a nine day period from 19 - 27 July. Here in Warwickshire we are not (yet) too badly affected by this problem – but that’s no cause for complacency. Please let committee members know if you are aware of its presence at any local locations – where a snatch in time could save nine. However, some of our regional neighbours are not so fortunate. This is particularly so for North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch – where sections of the Caldon Canal are affected; and for the Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch – where large tracts of the southern section of the Staffs. & Worcs. Canal are seriously affected. Lichfield Branch is also affected – but to a lesser extent. In due course a national ‘matrix’ of work-party dates will be issued. This will enable branches to coordinate their ‘Bashes’ with their neighbours - for maximum overall effect. It also means that individual members who may be cruising further a-field in late July can locate their nearest branch ‘bash’ - and in effect become ‘flying pick-its’ !
Events also include: live music, theatre, children’s activities, a craft and produce market, a beer-festival and boat-trips into Blisworth tunnel. Admission is free, visitors are welcome by boat or by car. However, car-parking will cost £5 per car, the proceeds of which will go to Friends of The Canal Museum, a charity supporting the museum’s work.
A Golden Celebration: Among all the other waterway causes to celebrate th this year is the 50 anniversary of the establishing of AWCC, the Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs. The highlight of this will be a national gathering of boats to be held at Black Buoy Cruising Club, on the northern GU at Heronfield – below Knowle locks. It th will be held over the weekend of July 12/13 , and be attended by boats from all over the country. We will be pleased to see them here in Warwickshire – not just as a contribution to the ‘Year of the Bear’ but also in the hope that many of them will cruise the most under-utilised part of our ‘patch’ – the northern GU from Kingswood to Camp Hill.
The IWA may not agree with opinions expressed here in this newsletter, but encourages its publication as a matter of interest. Nothing herein may be construed as a matter of policy, or an official announcement, unless otherwise stated. The Association accepts no liability for any of the material contained herein.
The IWA is a registered charity (No. 212342), founded in 1946. Supported by donations & members’ subscriptions, it campaigns for conservation, use, maintenance, restoration, & development of the inland waterways of England and Wales - for the benefit of all. Registered & General Office: - Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, Herts. HP5 1WA. Phone: 01494 - 783 453.
Over the weekend of 14-15 June, the Northants canalside village of Stoke Bruerne will be en-fête. Centred on the Canal Museum and organised by Friends of The Museum; the event will feature many craft demonstrators including ‘Roses and Castle’ painters, rag rug makers, quilters, lace and crochet makers, potters, wood-carvers, rope-splicers, knot and fender makers, and the village’s very own blacksmith - who will be giving demonstrations at his canal-side forge.
Editor: Ian Fletcher, 4 Village Hall Cottages, CV47 9QH Phone :01926 – 815 413. E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org For local contact on all other Branch activities please e-mail: < email@example.com > For up to date info. between BE editions visit our web page: < www.waterways.org.uk/warwickshire > Please inform Head Office of any e-mail address changes.