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BEAR ESSENTIALS The Newsletter of : -

IWA Warwickshire Branch Issue No. 48 – April 2017.

Two Canoes - and a Piece of Paper: Early in 1957 – encouraged by IWA, and assisted by family and friends (including his young daughter Geraldine, and a teenaged John Pinder) - the late Michael Fox undertook a truly historic canoe journey on the then virtually derelict Stratford canal - crossing the Edstone Aqueduct (see right) in March of that year. His licence / ‘toll-ticket’ for that epic event was subsequently used to thwart Warwickshire County Council’s plans to make an ‘Application for Formal Abandonment’ of the southern Stratford canal. That action paved the way for the David Hutchings led restoration of the canal in the early 1960’s – a project that not only became the ‘template’ for hundreds of miles of further canal restorations over the following decades, but also helped to generate a wider interest in our inland waterways; and this in turn helped to preserve and enhance the national inland waterway network that we all know and love today. Just as the original journey was suggested and encouraged by IWA; on th th Saturday March 18 2017 - the 60 anniversary of the crossing of the aqueduct - ‘we’ encouraged British Canoeing to help celebrate that historic event by jointly organising a re-take of the original, photograph. They did so in-force, with a flotilla of more than 60 canoes - and one pedalo !

Photo from Stratford Canal Society Archive;

The contrast that you see here – between the drab and deserted, monochrome world of the 1950’s, and the vibrant multi-coloured world of our waterways today – is but a micro-cosmic reflection of what has been achieved ‘on the ground’ over the last sixty years. In 1957 it was inconceivable, and today it’s still hard to believe, that the employment of thousands and the enjoyment of millions can be traced back to just two canoes - and a piece of paper!

Passage and portage at Bearley Lock. Departure from Wootton Wawen.

Photos by Richard San Harry Arnold photographs John Pinder’s Clive Henderson and Richard Parry helping return to the aqueduct. Geraldine Dahlke (née Fox) re-live her 1957 trip. Photos by Richard Sanders.


If you’d like to know more of Michael Fox’s historic journey, please visit the History section of the Stratford Canal Society’s web-site. Some may say that here in Warwickshire we’re so fortunate in being ‘at the centre of things’. This may be so, but I firmly believe that it is people not geography that make things happen. Read on, and be proud of what your fellow branch members are achieving today.

Photo by Ian Fletcher.

However, when doing so, we should all bear in mind the background to the story above. That campaign would not have taken place if local IWA members had not been vigilant as to what was being planned in their area. Today such threats seem much reduced. This may be true - but the need for vigilance still remains. .


Ian Fletcher.

Bear Bones:

Bear in Mind:

An outline of upcoming activities. Our Spring/Summer Programme of Activities. Unless otherwise stated all evening events take place at:

Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry, CV8 3FL All evening meetings start at 7:30 pm. Wednesday, April 12th 2017: The Wendover Arm. As

Its history and its restoration, by Ray Orth. As a long serving member of the Wendover Arm Trust, Ray is the ideal person to update us on this rapidly progressing restoration project, and to show us how and where our recent donation to the Trust is being spent.

Sunday, April 23rd 2017: A Visit to The Purton Hulks Graveyard, with Paul Barnett. After Paul’s talk to us last April, & Jeremy Paxman’s recent TV programme, now is the time to see this amazing place ‘for real’. Meet 10.00 am at CRT Bridge House car-park, Purton St John. GL13 9HS. NGR SO695045. Paul will give a guided tour of this fascinating place - followed by a short walk to Sharpness and back. Lunch will be at the Tudor Arms, Slimbridge.

Wednesday, May 10th 2017:

Running a Marina and a Hire-Fleet.

by Matt Preen of Calcutt Boats. Matt, of the well known Preen family from Calcutt will be talking about the highs and lows of running one of the oldest established marina & hire-boat companies in the country – based right here in the middle of our ‘patch’

Wednesday, June 14th 2017: A Walk around Ufton and Bascote: Meet at 6.30pm at the White Hart Inn, White Hart Lane, Ufton CV33 9PJ. NGR SP378622. for a 4½ mile walk on rural paths & canal towpath including part of the Centenary Way & Bascote Staircase – finishing with refreshments at the inn. Sorry, but there are no short cuts on this walk.

Saturday & Sunday July 1st – 2nd 2017: Stratford River Festival. Once again we will have a Branch presence at the River Festival. If you can spare time to help-out in our marquee on the ‘Rec.’ then please contact Greta Russell. Boat entry forms are available on the Stratforward website:< >

Wednesday, July 12th 2017: A Picnic & walk around Braunston. Meet at the Stop House Car Park and Garden, Braunston, at 6.30pm bring your own picnic & chairs. After the picnic we will walk round Braunston to see current & ex public houses. Location: NN11 7QJ. Note: Access from A45 is down the first drive & round behind boat builders - not the second exit (into the marina and housing).

Sunday, July 9th 2017:

Possible Balsam Pull, in Warwick (?)

On this date we’re hoping to repeat our ‘bashes’ of previous years, Confirmation and details at up-coming meetings, and on our web-page.

Additional Work Party info.* CRT-WM Towpath task-force. A) First Wednesday & Friday of each month - Hatton. B) Second Thursday & Friday of each month - Stratford C) Third Thursday & Saturday of each month - Lapworth. *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.

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Carole’s Considerations. Our December and January meetings are invariably more social than watery. This winter was no exception, and we all enjoyed our ‘Northamptonshire Skittles’ evening at the Queens Head in Bretford, and another excellent Annual Dinner at The Kings Head in Napton. As so often our January and February walks were both muddy underfoot, but their organisers had arranged some beautifully sunny weather. In February CRTs ecologist Paul Wilkinson gave us a superb talk on the problems of invasive species; and after the brief formalities of our March AGM, Ian Fletcher told us of the pleasures of narrowboating on tidal waters - which we all enjoyed. Nick and I have planned a Thames Barrier trip in May, and I hope that it inspired others to try this too. th On March 18 - with other IWA & SonACS members, Richard Parry of CRT, and a large number of British Canoeing members – we enjoyed a trip from Wootton Wawen to Wilmcote. This commemorated th the 60 anniversary of the canoe trip that prevented the closure of the Stratford Canal, and kick-started canal restorations. The next day saw large numbers of members, friends and local residents ‘grappling’ in Leamington. It was very ‘productive’ with vast amounts of rubbish collected. We also promoted IWA and its activities to passing locals. Still to come we have talks on The Wendover Arm, and Matt Preen from Calcutt talking about hire boat and marina operation - as well as a trip to the Purton Hulks. June & July then see our two evening walks. Committee-wise we’re still ‘light’. The work is enjoyable, and you can start by being co-opted - as Nick was last year. Please consider helping us maintain the busy and varied programme of events that you seem to enjoy. Finally I’d still like to hear from members about my proposed buffet with talk on wines and winetasting with a few wines to sample in December. I need a ‘yes’ you are interested or ‘no’ you’re not by the end of May. If not I’ll cancel it anyway, and someone else can come up with an idea.

Carole Nicholson.


Random snippets from around our patch

Bear-faced Lines: Another Leamington Clean-Up: th

On Sunday 19 March, more than seventy volunteers, including local scouts, residents and boaters – and, as ever, generously supported by Steve Lambert CRT’s volunteer coordinator, and his team of regular volunteers providing both equipment and ‘muscle’ – undertook yet another clean up on the GU through Leamington. This time we concentrated on the canal and its towpath between Tachbrook Road (Bridge 41) and Myton Road (Bridge 44). Although this section is well under a mile in length, it is within easy ‘trolley-trundling’ distance of five supermarkets and a DIY store. Unsurprisingly therefore our most prolific haul was of some 40 supermarket trolleys; of which more than half were found in the vicinity of just one bridge - the footbridge (Bridge 42) linking Queensway with Old Warwick Road.

Person(s) of The Match: The choice of MoTM for this edition has been quite the hardest that our independent panel of judges has yet had to make. The three short-listed contenders were:A) Branch members Steve Burt and Beryl Windsor – for their sheer effrontery in persuading British Canoeing that peddling was akin to paddling, and therefore their pedalo, Boaty McBoatface, was in fact just a ‘grown-up’ th canoe - and consequently eligible to take part in the 60 anniversary celebrations described on page-1.

Photo by Ian Fletcher.

Hitting the jackpot !

Photo by Greta Russell.

The most unusual item retrieved this time was a fruit machine - perhaps predictably - without its cash box! Other notable items included:- a settee, a vacuumcleaner a cassette-player, a lawnmower, a length of guttering, road and roadworks signs, traffic-cones, tyres, two motor scooters and a model of Buddha. This was all in addition to the more usual haul of over 30 cycles, and 28 black bags of litter from the adjoining towpath.

B) Carole Nicholson: Our chairman is included on this occasion for her exemplary devotion to duty when helping to reconnoitre the route of the celebrations that we described on page-1. While passing through Wilmcote, she took time to check the depth of the visitor moorings - to ensure that they would be adequate for overnight visitors on their way to July’s Stratford River Festival. Photo by Clive Henderson C) However, after much debate, and by a far from unanimous vote from our panel; we are pleased to announce that the winner this time is the Warwickshire Branch men’s barn-dance team – seen here at the WRG th Barn Dance at Lapworth on March 18 .

This enormous load was Photo by Ian Fletcher. collected in just three hours, and easily filled CRT’s large hopper. It was transport back to Hatton for unloading, by volunteers of CRT’s volunteer boat moving team, including branch members Nick Nicholson and Brian Bayston – seen here below.

Photo by Ian Fletcher.

Heading for home.

Photo by Greta Russell.

Such was their performance on the night that comments such as ‘amazing’ and ’incredible’ echoed around the hall as they performed. So heartfelt were these comments from their fellow-dancers that team-captain Pat Rudeck was completely overcome with emotion.

Bear with us:

National Round-up.

Friends and Neighbours.

Time Trials:

New Life for Old Loop:

IWA colleagues in the London area have reported a ‘rash’ of new CRT signs informing both pedestrians and cyclists how long it will take them to reach the next notable towpath location or landmark.

Branch member, local bistro and historic narrowboat owner Ian Lauder surveys the preliminary work on the latest waterway restoration here on our ‘patch’.

Unfortunately, this information is entirely subjective, as it depends on the speed that you walk or ride at. The adjacent example [Islington Tunnel – 2 minutes] will require a cyclist to ride at some 10 to 12 mph. IWA believes that not only will this lead to a more competitive approach to towpath cycling, but is also far too fast for a busy, ‘mixed-traffic’ towpath. IWA has therefore asked CRT to re-consider such signs designated with the more objective measurement of distance, rather than time. However, CRT has indicated that they wish to rollout this idea nationally. Local members are therefore encouraged to feed back any examples of this – primarily in urban areas such as Birmingham and the Black Country in our Region, but also Coventry, Rugby or Leamington in our Branch area.

As the leading ‘mover and shaker’ in ‘The Old Mortonians’ – a local civic group that cares for the environment around Hillmorton Locks – his vision is to turn part of the old Oxford loop, at the bottom of the locks into more than just a mooring basin for historic narrowboats. The first practical steps in this project were made in mid-February – when a party from WRG’s Forestry Group undertook some serious tree-felling and scrub-bashing. With both CRT and HNBC ‘on-board’ this looks like a project that will soon ‘fly’.

Braunston Historic Boat Show:

Some Up-Coming BCNS Events: th


Saturday April 8 BCNS Spring Cruise. Info via:


May 12 – 19 BCNS Spring Explorer Cruise. Info via:



Last Word: IWA Warwickshire and Northampton Branches will be manning an IWA stand at the above show on th th Saturday & Sunday 24 - 25 June 2017. We are seeking helpers for those dates, and also for assistance in setting up the marquee on the Friday rd afternoon (23 ). If you are available to help us, please email

Along with our friends at British Canoeing, we would very much like to thank Nick Brown - the landlord of the Navigation at Wootton Wawen - for opening th early on Saturday March18 . His superb coffee, and brilliant bacon sandwiches were greatly appreciated by all involved in our celebrations that day. On reflection he’s probably our real ‘man of the match’ this time - sorry Colin, Richard and Pat.

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. Editor: Ian Fletcher, 4 Village Hall Cottages, CV47 9QH Phone :01926 – 815 413. E-mail : For local contact on all other Branch activities please e-mail: < > Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA Tel: 01494 783453 Web: The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee. Registered in England no. 612245. Registered as a charity no. 212342

For up to date info. between BE editions visit our web page: < > Please inform Head Office of your e-mail address changes.

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Bear Essentials Issue 48  

Newsletter of the Warwickshire Branch of the Inland Waterways Association

Bear Essentials Issue 48  

Newsletter of the Warwickshire Branch of the Inland Waterways Association