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CHESTER & DISTRICT BRANCH AUTUMN 2013

Editor: Margaret Pitney

Editor: Position vacant

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REPORT OF THE BRANCH CHAIRMAN I need to apologise to the branch members who elected to receive the Chester Packet electronically. The May addition has only just been sent due to a combination of circumstances. These are technical difficulties, committee members away and a breakdown in communications. The branch committee is made up of volunteers, all have other calls on their time, such as employment, family, house and boat maintenance and sadly illness so the job of running the Chester & Merseyside Branch has to fit in around these other tasks. I am sorry if anyone has been inconvenienced and I know the committee will do everything it can to ensure it does not happen again. On a more cheerful note the canals have experienced a summer this year, what a difference it makes to cruise without the waterproofs, to enjoy a meal outside and a pleasant walk in the evening. The Branch is hoping this will be repeated in 2014 as planning has started to hold a Rally at Tower Wharf to highlight the Dee Branch, the Chester to Ellesmere Port canal corridor and the importance of the canal and River Dee to Chester’s future prosperity. In 2014 after 50 years of employment I will be retiring and having a Gap year as they did not exist when I was younger. This means I will stand down as Branch Chairman at the AGM in March. These are interesting and challenging times for the Waterways so I am sorry to step back but time stops for no man and I want to achieve one or two other things before it is too late. The Canal & River Trust is now a year old and in many ways is better than British Waterways but still has a long way to go before it achieves its potential so it is vital organisations like IWA have a strong voice. This voice comes from the local branches via its committee but this committee needs to be at full strength to cope with the demands required for dealing with full time staff at C&RT, the local authority and other professional bodies. As mentioned in the second paragraph IWA is well aware of the demands on people’s time but if you can spare a few hours a week the benefits outweigh the effort. Please join the committee. Thank you Brian Phillips

As space is limited in this flyer, more news will be published in the next edition of the magazine. It should be noted that the views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of th IWA but are included as being of interest to our members. The IWA is a registered charity No.212342.


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MERSEYFLAT MATTERS Report from Dave Smallshaw, Merseyside Liaison Officer Improved water quality and a menace reported on the Manchester Ship Canal On the canal approval has been attained for United Utilities to upgrade the sewerage system that will help the water quality. The scheme includes the construction of an underground storage chamber on a site at Trafford Park. This will help to clean up the waterway as it will reduce the need to discharge waste water into the canal, such as to prevent flooding at times of heavy rainfall. At present there are over 20 discharge areas from the sewer network into the canal and 14 of these have been classed as ‘unsatisfactory’ by the Environment Agency and other water regulators. So the scheme will improve two of these discharge pipes and is part of a wider review of discharges into the canal where a screening chamber will be established to check any flows which may need to be discharge into the canal. Elsewhere reports are to hand that giant hogweed, a plant that contains toxic sap which can cause sever blisters and burns, has been spotted close to the canal paths at Moore. The removal of species such as giant hogweed costs the nation’s economy a minimum of £1.7 billion per annum and the species are spreading quickly across the UK and in 2011/12 the Environment Agency and its partners spent £657,000 controlling the plant. Contact with any part of this plant should be avoided at all costs as even minute amounts of its sap can cause blistering.

Volunteering on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal The Canal and River Trust are supporting local residents in Sefton who are aiming to keep the Bootle towpath clean and tidy. A change of personnel at the Trust sees Alice Kay take over the post as the new Volunteer Team Leader for the North West. We wish Alice every success in her new role and we hope that, in the near future, we will be able to establish links with her with a view to supporting the volunteering activity on the canal.

Alternative Sankey News About time! A 21 year old man has been accused of taking a motorbike and riding it dangerously on a canal footpath. The man of Blackbrook, appeared in St Helens Magistrates’ Court charged with taking a 400 cc Honda motorbike unlawfully and riding it in Merton Bank, near to the new double locks in St Helens. It is also alleged that he was disqualified from driving and had no insurance at the time of the alleged offence and the man who pleaded not guilty, will now appear at Liverpool Crown Court. Irresponsible motor cyclist s have long plagued canal users and Merseyside Police in St Helens should be congratulated on their enforcement action over this long standing problem. Elsewhere on the waterway…. Fire crews rescued a man from the canal in Sankey Valley Park in July. The rescue boat was sent out as well as an air ambulance and four fire engines after reports of a man 'standing' in the water. He was pulled from the water and then taken to hospital. A police spokesman said: "Officers attended the canal near the borough bridge in Sankey Valley along with other emergency services. The man was taken to hospital to be assessed." ‘Standing in the water’ - SCARS restoration work parties had, therefore, better alert the appropriate authorities when they do any reed bashing in future to avoid any misunderstandings! The use of the rescue boat must mark the first working vessel to appear on the canal in this region for 50 years!


3 SANKEY CANAL RESTORATION SOCIETY—Around the Boroughs Report from Colin Greenall, SCARS Liaison Officer

HALTON Interlocks Project, SCARS along with Halton BC and Warrington BC are now in the process of seeking funding from the Cory Environmental Trust to refurbish the locks at Spike Island New Mersey Crossing;- On 29th June Halton BC announce that the preferred bidder to build and operate the New Mersey Gateway Bridge would be the Merseylink Consortium Warrington Towpath improvement;- Work on the second phase of towpath improvements is due to start as soon as Warrington Council can come to an access agreement with Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. This will then allow the section of towpath from Fiddlers Ferry Marina to the boundary with Widnes at Johnson’s Lane to be upgraded. St.Helens Canal bank collapse;- There has been no progress on the repairs to the towpath walls in the Hey Lock to Newton Brook section EVENTS So far this year SCARS has been out with its sales and exhibition stand at the following events:Willow Park Rural Craft Display; Spring Bank Holiday Monday 27th May, normally a good event but this year spoiled by heavy rain that sent visitor home early, even so taking were good and many people expressed interest in our efforts to get the canal restored. Scarisbrick Marina Festival Weekend;-This is a new event that the organisers hope will be held annually from now on. It was at the new Marina on the Leeds &Liverpool Canal and with perfect weather proved to be very popular with boaters and visitors, again takings were good and much time was spent talking to people about the Sankey Canal and our vision for its reopening to navigation. Penketh Carnival;-Another new venue for our sales and exhibition stall, although we were at this event not merely to sell items but more importantly to gather comments and support from local people for our bid to reopen the section of canal between Fiddlers Ferry Marina and Spike Island. This proved to be a very interesting exercise and along with glorious sunshine very enjoyable. Newton Town Show:-Retuning after an absence of thirteen years this event was blessed with good weather and a fine turn out of visitor both local and from further afield. Once again SCARS took the opportunity to gather comments and support for the reopening on the canal. Members’ Meetings 26th September;-Tom Ferguson, “The Mersey Forest and Green Infrastructure”, St. Patrick’ Social Club, Earlestown. 31st October;-Neil Wilding, “Films of Fred Dibnah”, Friends Meeting House, Church Street, St.Helens. 28th November;-Paul Wright, “Lost Railway Stations of the North West, St. Patrick’s Social Club, Earlestown.


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The following are some extracts from the Sankey Canal Newsletter:WE’RE ‘LINKING THE LOCKS’ YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONSULTATION WALK On Wednesday 17 July children from Penketh High School braved the heat wave to walk along a stretch of the Sankey Canal from Penketh to Widnes led by members of The Sankey Canal Restoration Society (SCARS). They were joined by officers from Halton and Warrington Borough Councils and an independent wildlife expert who highlighted the points of interest along the canal. The young people then had a chance to say what activities they would like to see on the canal. pupils from Penketh filmed the occasion as part of Their media studies and will be producing a DVD About the project in the Autumn term.

IWA MEMBERS VISIT THE SANKEY CANAL It was a bright and sunny day when the NorthWest area members of the Inland Waterways Association visited the Sankey Canal in April to find more about the Interlocks Project. Fidlers ferry Sailing Club provided the venue and a warm welcome—also a superb buffet lunch. After SCARS made a brief presentation on the history of the waterway and the restoration project committee members led a guided walk around the lock and the immediate Boat Haven area. The support of the IWA will be vital for the implementation of the Project and it was felt that visitors actually seeing the site would be of great help in the future.

SS DANIEL ADAMSON PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT EVENT 2013 marks a historic milestone for the “SS Daniel Adamson” as she celebrates her 110th birthday. To mark the event members of the Sankey Canal Steering Group attended the Participation & Engagement Event on 7th June, at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, to show their support. Attendees listened to a presentation from Dan Cross (Chairman), which included a history of the Daniel Adamson, an update on the project to date, and a vision of how the Daniel Adamson would be used, creating affordable opportunities for the whole community to learn about heritage and learn new skills, once refurbishment was completed. Attendees were then treated to a visit to the Daniel Adamson, including a tour of the engine room, to see how the refurbishment was progressing. It was inspirational to see how much volunteers are learning about maritime heritage and conservation techniques whilst restoring the vessel. The project is providing volunteers with a real opportunity to learn new skills, gain practical experience and offer training opportunities. This could be an excellent example for SCARS to follow when developing their Heritage Lottery Bid. developing their Heritage Lottery Bid. www.danieladamson.co.uk


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Chester One City Plan – Waterway Strategy REPORT FROM PETER BOLT August 15 2013 Things have been happening on the Waterway Strategy over the summer and the following is an update. The Waterway Vision for Chester which was put together by John Herson (CCHT) and myself was launched at the first drop in work shop earlier this year has caused a certain amount of comment from a number of areas. Chester Civic Trust has issued a hand out document on the vision and is most supportive. A copy of the vision was sent to a local news paper reporter and it has appeared in several Chester newspapers with added comment from John when contacted. Chester Renaissance do not take the same view as both John and I and hold the view that a Waterways Strategy should focus on what could be done around the water’s edge, both Canal and River, and not so much what goes on in the water or linking the two together – this is the stumbling block. Our philosophy is based on a tried and trusted method and can be seen in numerous Towns and Cities around the country and abroad. 1) 2) 3) 4)

Create a more vibrant water space by introducing more boats. People are drawn to the action. Regeneration takes place around that area The area becomes a must go and must see area.

This can be seen locally in Liverpool Albert Dock complex and even Camden Lock in London. As it is, only 1 in 4 boats visiting Cheshire come to Chester and about 1 in 6 of those boats goes on to Ellesmere Port. The National Recourses Wales NRW (old EA) and Dee Conservancy asked to meet up to discuss the vision having seen the articles in the newspapers. We had an excellent meeting with support for the vision from both camps. We were told of their plans for a slipway to be built into the Dee about 25 meters downstream of the Dee Lock. This was primarily for the rescue services but following our request at the time of planning application was going to be earmarked for a more general use. We offered technical help by way of the IWA standard slipway design drawn up by Roy Sutton. We were offered technical help by the provision of gauge height and flow data from their Hydrometric department. This is needed to determine the number of possible safe passages which could take place throughout the year and provide boat passage numbers for determining the regeneration benefits. They have further contacted me and this information is being sent through on a disc. IWA have picked up on the vision and the Branch has been highlighted with a full page article on the vision and appeared in the IWA annual review. Hugh Potter from WW asked to visit Chester and could we show him round. Hugh came two weeks ago and he has just advised that he is writing two articles to go in successive WW. A) A circular walk around Chester’s waterways B) The waterways Vision for Chester CCHT and IWA with CRT broad approval. The latter article is delayed to coincide with the first draft document from Chester Renaissance due out in 2 or 3 weeks time. Finally, ResCom have shown interest and will be visiting Chester and Taylor’s yard in November 2014. However by then, it could all be done and dusted one way or another. Outcome, the ongoing use of the Dee Branch still remains in question even though CRT has promised to dredge next year. Also we need more boats to visit Chester and the NWM and make it a key destination cruise to rival Stratford and the Thames. Peter Bolt


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CHESTER & MERSEYSIDE BRANCH DINNER

ARE YOU COMING TO OUR BRANCH DINNER? It promises to be a splendid night out so contact Lesley Taylor on 0151 342 6651 for your tickets. Venue - The Holiday Inn, Ellesmere Port (next to the Boat Museum) Date - SATURDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2013 Speaker - Frank Carlyle. Radio Merseyside’s local historian and broadcaster who will give a talk on Canals and Rivers of Liverpool, Birkenhead and Chester Price - £25 per ticket E-mail: lesley.taylor22btinternet.com

The editor welcomes contributions from members for publication in Branch newsletters. Let us have your questions, letters or articles with or without pictures. Give us your opinions on Branch matters by email or post to the editor at 137 Higher Bebington Road, Wirral, CH63 2PN. Email : margaret.pitney@talktalk.net.


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A MOST UNUSUAL VISITOR TO THE BRANCH How many other Branches have had a visitor like this? A dolphin, named Dave by the locals and clearly lost, seemed to be quite at home in the River Dee in Chester, even reaching the weir. She frolicked in the tidal waters for several days before becoming stranded on the estuary sandbanks. Rescue was at hand from the RNLI and the British Divers Marine Life rescue who stretchered and transported her to deeper waters at Rhyl Flats. (It was then the discovery was made that Dave was really Davina). She was reported as being safe and well when last seen.

CHESTER & DISTRICT BRANCH WELCOMES THE FOLLOWING NEW MEMBERS We look forward to meeting you all at the Boat Museum (see programme on Page 8) and on our monthly walks (details on page 8) Dr McManus and family Mr Iain Wright William and Linda Hanson

Liverpool Southport Tarporley


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IWA BRANCH MEETINGS All meetings take place in the Tom Rolt Centre at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port, at 7.45 pm. All are welcome, free of charge 8 October

Two films ‘Mersey Ferries’ and ‘Liverpool’s Last Tram’ Ron Martin of Merseyside Tram Preservation Society 12 November ‘Trent & Mersey Canal notices and posters; an insight into the early days of canal management’ Peter Brown, Council Member of the Railway & Canal Historical Society 10 December ‘From Boat Museum to National Waterways Museum’ Di Skilbeck MBE, President of the Boat Museum Society. Followed by sherry, mince pies and a bumper raffle! 14 January ‘The Sinking of HMS Thetis’ Derek Arnold tells us about the loss of a brand new Birkenheadbuilt submarine amid secrets, scandals, stupidity and secrecy. BRANCH WATERWAY WALKS — October and November 2013, January 2014 All walks take place on the 4th Thursday of the month commencing at 10.15 am and are open to IWA members and nonmembers .. Each walk starts and finishes at a pub. Anyone requiring lunch at the pub at the end of the walk can book his or her meal just before we set out on the walk. Halfway through each walk we stop for welcome ‘bring your own’ refreshments’.

October 24th – Wimboldsley The Verdin Arms, Nantwich Road, Middlewich CW10 0LW is about four miles south of Middlewich on the A530, The walk from here takes in a length of the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal and the remote countryside to the east of it. The walk is about four miles long, mainly on the level. OS Explorer 267. Map reference 685 622

November 28th – Moore The Red Lion, Runcorn Road, Moore WA4 6UD is the meeting place for this walk of about 4.5 miles that takes in parts of the Manchester Ship Canal, the disused Runcorn and Latchford Canal and the Moore Nature Reserve. Most of the route is on the level. OS Explorer 276. Map reference 576 842.

January 23rd – Parkgate Starting at the Old Quay pub at the end of The Parade, this walk follows the estuary of the River Dee before turning inland for the return leg which gives splendid views towards the Welsh hills. The walk is about 4.4 miles long with one uphill stretch. OS Explorer 266. Map reference 281 778. Walks from February to May will be published in the Spring edition of Chester Packet.. Further information can be obtained by contacting Ron Evans on 01928 788673 or emailing rjkingsley@tiscali.co.uk

CHESTER CANAL HERITAGE TRUST All held at The Lock Keeper, Frodsham St., Chester CH1 3LH. Free parking at Gorse Stacks and Iceland car parks. CCHT, IWA and SUCS members free. Non-members £1.50

6 NOVEMBER

‘The River Dee’ Dr. Kate Riddngton from the Grosvenor Museum on the natural history and industrial heritage of the River Dee, which in its day was a major waterway.

4 DECEMBER

‘The Ellesmere and Chester Canal’. Peter Brown of the Railway & Canal History Society talks about the history of the Ellesmere & Chester Canal Company.

5 FEBRUARY

‘Canal Travels of the Bowles Family’. The premiere of films shot by John Bowles and his family on their canal journeys in the 1960s and 1970s.

Chester flyer autumn 2013  

Newsletter of the IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch

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