Page 1


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 - February 2016


see Chairman’s Jottings page 7 & map on centre pages

WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE AT BECKET’S PARK IN AUGUST 1971! Recently discovered pictures of the IWA’s National Rally of Boats at Northampton’s Becket’s Park in August 1971 enphasise the sheer size of the event. More than 650 boats attended — this is the view downstream from Town Lock, with huge crowds thronging the riverside. How boat styles have changed! More pictures pages 22 - 23.

SAVE THE DATE Branch Boat Gathering at Nurser’s Dock, Braunston, from Friday 29th April to Monday 2nd May. See pages

14 & 15 for more details 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 Last issue I wrote about “local heroes”, putting forward Athina Beckett, the driving force for so many years of the Buckingham Canal Society, as a prime example. But we also have similar heroes in other spheres of activity and this time I would like to consider those representing the commercial side of the waterways. In our area a name which immediately springs to mind is Tim Coghlan. Tim is the enthusiastic and energetic boss of Braunston Marina which, seemingly singlehandedly, he rescued from near oblivion and turned it into the thriving business it is today. In the process, he saved and restored many of the marina’s original features, including the old Nurser’s Dock where the Branch is “Boat Gathering” this spring. Tim is a strong supporter of the Inland Waterways Association, especially of the Northampton Branch, as well as of other local canal and associated organisations, notably The Friends of The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne and The Friends of Raymond. There are others too, of course, who must be recognised, and I salute here all the advertisers who loyally support this magazine. Their input enables us to produce what is acknowledged as one of the best IWA branch publications. This is not a cheap undertaking by any means (both in time committed and money!), particularly when postage costs enter the equation, for although some members do elect to take Endeavour electronically, the majority still prefer the printed version via the post. So our sincere thanks to all our advertisers. Readers – do please use their services whenever you can, mentioning that you saw their advertisement in Endeavour. One hesitates to single out a specific advertiser, but there is one deserving a special mention at the moment. This is the ABC Leisure Group, operators of Gayton Marina, who have just agreed to sponsor our Northampton Arm guide leaflet, a greatly appreciated gesture which enables the Branch, in turn, to support other voluntary waterway organisations and related activities. Then there are also those who willingly donate prizes for our events. Our raffles always raise several hundreds of pounds, money which we donate, the Buckingham Canal Society, for example, often being a beneficiary. I think we should look at it as being one big team effort for the general good of our waterways. Thank you all. May this happy co-operative situation long remain. Meanwhile, we currently mourn the sad loss of a landmark feature at Northampton’s Becket’s Park – namely, the boathouse by the lock, a focal point of so many of our Boat Gatherings {see report on page 30). It was demolished a few weeks before Christmas to make way for a footbridge from the Park, over the river, to link with the new extensive University of Northampton Waterside Campus now under construction on the south bank. Witness also the extensive works being undertaken at nearby Midsummer Meadow, all part of the same development. Times a-changing. As Alfred, Lord Tennyson reflected: “So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.”




8th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch AGM at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth, followed by Tim Coghlan — “By the Waters of Braunston” 17th 8pm The Friends of The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne in the Schoolroom at rear. Speaker: Tim Coghlan — “The Brays and Whitlocks Book, The Last Run”

April 12th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Speaker: Richard Thomas — “Waterway Wonders” 21st 8pm The Friends of The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne, in the Schoolroom at rear. Speaker: Lorna York — “Sister Mary”

May 10th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Speaker: Tony Conder — “Canals through the Artist’s Eye”

June 18th –19th Family Festival Weekend at Stoke Bruerne (see page 18 for details)

July 11th –12th Cosgrove Festival organised by The Buckingham Canal Society at Cosgrove Lock and Village Hall (for details Phone 0300 3231350)

NORTHAMPTON ARM TASK PARTY DATES March 13th, 29th. April 10th, 26th. May 15th, 24th. June 12th, 28th For details contact or phone 01604 453932 BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOCIETY WORK PARTY DATES March 10th, 13th, 24th. April 7th, 10th, 21st. May 5th, 8th, 19th. June 2nd, 12th, 16th, 30th. For details contact Athina Beckett on 01908 661217

STOKE BRUERNE CANAL PARTNERSHIP WORK PARTY DATES March 9th. April 13th. May 11th. June 14th. For details contact

IWA Northampton Branch web site Please visit it regularly to see any updates



Stowe Hill Wharf, Heyford Lane, Weedon, Northants NN7 4SF Tel: 01327 341365 Proprietor Robert Gudgeon welcomes you to Stowe Hill Workshop 

Full Repaints

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

NEW — Fuel Polishing Service

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



Branch Chairman’s Jottings by Bernard Morton A Happy New Year to you all, though the first few weeks of 2016 have led me to believe that it could be far from “happy” for those who use and enjoy the Grand Union Canal and the Northampton Arm within our patch. PROPOSED NATIONAL RAIL FREIGHT TERMINAL. Make no mistake about it, if this huge rail freight terminal proposed on land between the villages of Blisworth and Milton Malsor and between the A43 and the A508 goes ahead (see map showing the affected area on the centre pages), the immediate canal environment will be irrevocably damaged. Proposals for the 8 million square feet Rail Central development became known in early January, coming as a complete shock to most locals. The proposals have been met, inevitably, by fierce local opposition. Geoff Wood and I attended a public meeting called by Blisworth Parish Council on 4th January when outline site drawings and representatives from Ashfield Land (who have acquired, or have options on, most of the land between Blisworth and Milton Malsor, stretching from the A43 and Gayton Junction area towards the A508) were present. Because of what Geoff and I learned at that meeting, your Branch committee is gearing itself up for a prolonged and very important battle to protect our local canals and have alerted CRT to the proposal. Although it’s very early days in what will certainly become a planning saga of some magnitude, it is already reported that the aim is to have the first stage up and running by 2021. A tad presumptuous, I would submit. It can be seen from the map that the canal will be affected primarily from near Blisworth towards Gayton Junction and from there well down the Arm. The boundary line of the proposal includes a section of the Grand Union Canal. Our Planning Officer, Helen Westlake, has already written to Ashfield Land to ascertain if this is an error and, if not, what they are proposing to do with this section. The likely impact on our canal environment is difficult to estimate at this time. Sites already acquired by the developer are reported to include, ominously, Arm Farm. Purchase options have been acquired on other areas of land. What’s been going on that no-one knew anything about? The scheme has been put forward by an organisation called Ashfield Land. Similar to the still growing DIRFT site near Crick (which does not impinge upon the GU’s Leicester Line), it will see the building of warehouses, rail sidings, a hotel, a pub and restaurant, a service depot and HGV parking. However, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, in one of its reports, indicates that at 8 million square feet, it would dwarf even DIRFT, which currently covers about 6.2 million square feet. Those of us familiar with DIRFT will realise full well that it is BIG, dominating the area in a quite daunting manner. It’s not difficult to picture the situation right bang on our doorstep — the sprawling infrastructure, the warehousing, so many hundreds of workers travelling day and night to and from the site. Effectively, Blisworth and Milton Malsor will be joined. I find the prospect alarming, to say the least. Ashfield Land say the Government is very keen to switch long distance freight from roads and motorways to rail as much as possible. The location is ideal, the developer claims,

8 because it is both near the M1 and where the Northampton Loop rail line meets the West Coast Main Line. Where do we go from here? By the time you read this, initial public meetings will have been held, local MPs will have been involved and no doubt plans of action will be well on the way to formalisation. We may well be aware of more details from the developer and a consultation process will be starting. I understand that because of the high priority placed on reducing road freight, the ultimate decision on whether the development receives the green light will be taken by central Government rather than locally. If the Secretary of State gives the go-ahead, then land not already acquired would be compulsorily purchased. So along with others, clearly we have an enormous fight on our hands. In the 1980s, the Branch managed to persuade planners of the A43 dual carriageway to move the road a little further away from the Arm at one point. It helped — but Rail Central is in another league. There will be those, I expect, who will see little point in objecting, believing that the Government’s juggernaut planning processes will overcome, “in the national interest”, all those daring to mount a challenge. That’s defeatist — and one thing the IWA and the waterways lobby has never been, is defeatist. All I would say at this moment is: “watch this space”. Onto happier matters … CRT VOLUNTEERS’ MEETING. On 12th December I, along with several Branch members, attended CRT’s Volunteers’ Meeting at Stoke Bruerne. This was a bringing together of all adoption groups and volunteers from within the South East Waterways area. It was good to hear just how much volunteer work is being done to support CRT by all these groups. I was very pleased that the Volunteer Group of the Year Award was given to the Buckingham Canal Society, very worthy recipients and long overdue, I would venture to suggest! On a sad note, John Highmore (Volunteer Co-ordinator) announced that he was leaving his role at CRT and seeking new pastures. John was with us from our earliest discussions about adopting the Northampton Arm and has attended several of our Task Parties. We wish him well in his new endeavours. At this meeting, I was very pleased to be able to present Lorna York, Vice-Chairman of The Friends of The Canal Museum, with a cheque for £400 for the Sculptor Fund which was part of the surplus from the Festival of Water held in Northampton last August. This was in recognition of the vital help that Sculptor and her crew gave us in the loan and transportation of infrastructure (items such as marquees, gazebos, tables, chairs and cooking equipment) to and from Becket’s Park. On the same day, the long awaited Interpretation Panels at Stoke Bruerne, towards which our Branch made a financial contribution, were unveiled by local MP Andrea Leadsom and Ark Stained Glass Workshop, near the tunnel entrance, was also officially opened by Andrea. BOAT GATHERING 2016. May I remind you all of our Branch Boat Gathering being held at Braunston from 29th April to 2nd May 2016. We are already busy organising some new and interesting attractions to the format that we have followed over the years (see pages 14 & 15). Do come along and join our friendly Gathering — you’ll be assured of a warm welcome — and do tell your boating friends about our event. As always, enjoy your boating, canal walking, cycling, fishing et al along our canals and inland waterways. I hope to meet many of you out there as the weather gets better.


NOTICE OF AGM IWA Northampton Branch NOTICE is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Northampton Branch of the Inland Waterways Association will be held on Tuesday, 8th March, 2016, at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth, commencing at 8pm. AGENDA: (please bring this agenda to the meeting) 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8:

Apologies for absence Minutes of previous AGM held on 10th March, 2015 Matters arising Chairman’s Report Treasurer’s Report Statement of Committee size Election of Committee members AOB

Under the IWA Branch bylaws effective from 12 November 2007, there is no restriction on the maximum size of the committee. Geoff Wood retires by rotation and seeks re-election. It is no longer necessary for those who wish to stand for election to be nominated and seconded but all who wish to stand must agree to do so. Written consents from Branch members wishing to stand for election should be deposited with Branch Secretary Sandie Morton before the commencement of the AGM business. {signed) Bernard Morton, IWA Northampton Branch IWA Northampton Branch now has a Facebook page. It’s at https:// Members will find posts there about our talks, Task Party dates and much more, as well as being able to use it for discussion purposes. We’d like to hear your views. We also have a Twitter account @northamptoniwa where you can leave us a message or engage in discussion on what’s happening.

10 Obituary

John Faulkner At past Branch rallies you may have noticed a tall, large elderly gentleman and his boat Johan. He was John Faulkner, who sadly died in December at the age of 87. Although not recently active in the Branch, John was one of its early members when it was first formed as the Eastern Branch of the IWA in the late 1960s. When the Branch was host to the 1971 National Rally of Boats in Becket's Park, John, who worked for local builders’ merchants Martin and Partners, was involved with providing facilities, especially water pipes etc. Also he was a valued member of the Branch Committee from the 70s through to the early 2000s. More recently he had been a keen supporter of The Friends of The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne and various canal restoration societies. He extensively cruised the system each summer, single-handedly since his wife Joan died, although he did seek help with the locks as he later had mobility problems. As far as I know, the only time this caused him any difficulty was when he was not allowed to take his boat through Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow because he would be unable to climb up to one of the access shafts in an emergency! Rodney Hardwick This picture of Branch veterans involved with the IWA National Rally of Boats at Northampton was taken in 2001 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Rally. John Faulkner is third from right; others (from left) are Roger Hasdell, David Martin, Rodney Hardwick, John Russell and David Blagrove

Picture: Northampton Chronicle & Echo

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12 BRANCH COMMITTEE MEETINGS REVIEW DECEMBER Urgent Business A letter received from IWA Head Office confirmed that the Association agreed in principle with CRT taking over navigation from EA but committee members thought it was a bad time to be pushing for change. With the Government making cuts, it was considered unlikely there would be sufficient funding available, as happened when CRT took over from BW.

Treasurer’s Report

Current Branch balance stood at £7,973.90 which includes liability for milepost and plaque, Arm Adoption fund, and £2,500 from the sale of the marquee to The Friends of The Canal Museum. Replacement tentage still has to be purchased. It was agreed that donation cheques from the Festival of Water surplus should be £400 to The Friends of The Canal Museum, £200 to the Crusader Boat and £200 to Northampton Sea Cadets.

Boat Gathering 2016

It was reported IWA Warwickshire Branch is unable to participate. CRT’s Vicky Martin has agreed to reserve main line moorings as in 2014.

Northampton Arm

Task Parties have focused on clearing by-pass weirs at CRT’s request. Lock 16 and locks 6 and 7 have been done. Vegetation has been cut right back and flow restored. Two more regular attendees have agreed to be trained as First Aiders on a one-day course.


It was reported that the Trust’s Boating Sub Group had met and discussed changes to visitor moorings, along with a pilot study in SE area which will compare CRT guidelines with an IWA study of matters such as bridge widths and winding holes (what length of boat can turn).

Reports from Local Societies

Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership reported that the interpretation panels were finished and would be unveiled by local MP Andrea Leadsom on 12th December. Stoke Bruerne Lock Open Weekend is planned for 13th and 14th February. The defibrillator is now installed on the wall of the Museum. Helen Westlake thanked the Branch for its donation.

13 JANUARY Treasurer’s Report Current balance £6,996.42 which allows for cheques not yet cashed (£544.05). Commitments include cost of milepost and plaque, Arm Adoption fund and marquee replacement. It was reported that the donation cheque had been presented to the Canal Museum Friends’ Sculptor Fund. The donation for the Crusader Boat was on hold at their request due to current re-organisation. The Sea Cadets were delighted with their recognition and asked for it to be presented at one of their regular meetings. The Cadets have an appeal this year to fund a new boat and asked the Branch to come up with a name. It was agreed that members attending the AGM should be given the opportunity to suggest names, with a prize going to the person choosing the winner.

Boat Gathering 2016

CRT’s Vicky Martin has agreed to open the Boat Gathering. Lorna York has confirmed that Sculptor will be attending and will transport any equipment the Branch borrows from the Museum Friends. Bill Mann has confirmed his availability for the Friday night barbecue.

Northampton Arm

Work on clearing the by-pass weirs has continued with great results. Next weirs to be dealt with are at Locks 10 and 11. The notice board at Lock one is to be replaced. Bellway Homes have agreed to fully sponsor the mosaic work in connection with the bench project at Lock 17.


There are currently 292 Memberships (463 members), figures which remain stable.

Planning Matters

A 20 metre high telecoms tower, near the junction of the Buckingham Arm with the A5, is proposed. This planning application has been forwarded to Buckingham Canal Society The proposed rail freight terminal between Blisworth and Milton Malsor was discussed at length.

Reports from Local Societies

The Friends of The Canal Museum reported that the Illuminated Boats and Carols had drawn large crowds, which had caused problems with road access and parking.


New look Boat Gathering at Braunston Friday 29th April – Monday 2nd May Michael Butler, Chairman of the Boat Gathering organising committee, writes: After a year’s break because of the IWA’s Festival of Water at Northampton last August, the annual Branch Boat Gathering is being held again at Braunston Marina over the early Spring Bank Holiday weekend, Friday to Monday 29 th April -2nd May. We’re planning to give the event, which will be centred on the historic Nurser’s Dock at the marina, a fresh look this year. Nevertheless, all the traditional attractions will be there, including the ever-popular “open all hours” Real Ale bar. There will also be entertainment on the Friday evening (fun and games for all), Saturday evening (live music, sing-along and dancing) and Sunday evening (quiz night). As always, the Gathering is an open event, so if you know boaters who are not members of the IWA, please encourage them to come along — and then recruit them as members! Non-boating Association members are also welcome. There will be an official opening on the Saturday morning when we shall be welcoming Vicky Martin from the Canal & River Trust. Many of you have probably met Vicky in her role as Manager of CRT’s South-East Waterways. We look forward to her joining us. An entry form for the Gathering is included with this issue of Endeavour. It is also available on-line at You will see there is a discount for early entry, so please confirm your attendance as soon as possible as this also helps with the overall organisation. Outlining the weekend’s programme, the Gathering opens on the Friday evening with a barbecue followed by entertainment. New to the programme will be informal talks by waterway personalities on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, one of the speakers being Lorna York whose topic will be Boatmans’ Ancestry. We also hope to arrange for guided walks around the area during the weekend. A highlight on Sunday will be the Boaters Auction, but the success of this depends largely upon your support by donating items for auction. These do not necessarily have to be waterway related and if it is considered they are not suitable for auction, they will almost certainly find a home on the tombola or bric-a brac stalls! Please see the section on the Gathering entry form requesting auction contributions. Raffles are also a big feature of the weekend and all monies raised from these go towards local waterway causes. A fish/chicken and chips van will be in attendance early Sunday evening (please order in advance) to set us up for quiz time. There will be a prize for the best decorated supper table as well as the best decorated boat. Cat’s Café will be in full swing all weekend — homemade cake a speciality — with a new vintage theme. We hold our breath in anticipation… Again our sincere thanks are due to Braunston Marina supremo Tim Coghlan for his generosity in allowing us to hold our Gathering at the marina. Please join us for what always proves to be a thoroughly relaxed and friendly get-together where people get to know one another very quickly. The more the merrier!



29th April—2nd May, 2016 Nurser’s Dock, Braunston Marina

Join us for a new look IWA Northampton Branch

BOAT GATHERING Non members welcome Booking forms are on the Website and Facebook or contact phone 07939 977859/01327 857573

Details will be updated on our Website, Facebook and Twitter

16 Acknowledging Museum Friends’ help at Festival

IWA Northampton Branch Chairman Bernard Morton presents a £400 cheque to Lorna York, Vice-Chairman of The Friends of The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne, acknowledging all the Friends’ help, including the loan and transportation of equipment by nb Sculptor to and from the IWA Festival of Water at Northampton in August.

Sea Cadets reward A cheque for £200 was presented to Northampton Sea Cadets, whose members were involved in activities at the Festival of Water. The money will go towards the Sea Cadets’ fund to purchase a new boat. Branch Treasurer Alex Madisons is handing over the cheque to Andrew Jolly with Branch Gathering Chairman Michael Butler on the left.

17 NEW BRANCH MEMBERS ARE WELCOMED We extend a warm welcome to the following who have joined Northampton Branch since the last issue of Endeavour

The Navigation Stoke Bruerne

NEW MEMBERS Mr S & Mrs S Furniss, Weedon Mr R P Seckington, Northampton Mr P and Mrs G Jaynes, Blisworth Mr G & Mrs L Johnson, Northampton

MEMBERS WHO HAVE MOVED TO THE BRANCH Mr B & Mrs R Lake Warboys, Mr A Ridley, Braunston

We look forward to meeting you all at Branch events

2 Meals for £10 Monday – Thursday Live Music every Friday Like our facebook to keep updated with all offers and promotions

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Rail freight terminal measuring 8 fields near Northampton (the ar

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Looking back to the IWA National Rally at Becket’s Park in 1971 Since the November issue of Endeavour, which reported on the IWA’s 2015 Festival of Water at Northampton, a selection of photographs has come to hand illustrating in graphic fashion the enormity of the Association’s 1971 National Rally of Boats held at the same site on the River Nene at Becket’s Park — an event recalled by Old Stager in our August issue. The scarcity of pictures from 1971 was puzzling to Old Stager — plenty of newspaper cuttings but no actual prints. But now these new photographs, reproduced from colour slides, by local man Brian Barrett, then a mere 28-year-old fascinated spectator, help to place this record-breaking “National” into perspective.

Plenty of action on the river — the crowded moorings in Becket’s Park looking towards the footbridge with the lock a short distance beyond. Most of the boats on the left came from Dunstable Boat Club, whose members seemed to arrive en bloc. A picture of one of the early performances by the Mikron Theatre. The sign tells us the show in progress is “Still Waters”. In the background is the Northampton Chronicle & Echo’s publicity caravan.

Moorings stretched the whole length of Midsummer Meadow and downstream towards where the river is now spanned by the A45 dual carriageway. On the right, the buildings form part of the old electricity power station.

23 A fine view of the now demolished electricity power station cooling towers — they “fell” in the mid 70s — behind Avon Cosmetics HQ block and manufacturing facility. A feature of the Rally site was the fragrant aroma wafting across on the breeze which reminded rally-goers that Avon were definitely calling.

A cooling tower stands proud as a backdrop to moored boats in Midsummer Meadow. Warm water from the cooling towers was discharged into the river to find its way into the nearby open air swimming pool. It was always a pleasure to go swimming in “Middy Meadow”.

An assortment of well decorated craft moored in Midsummer Meadow. Compare the boats with the “floating cottages” which are found around the system these days! Not many mod-cons to be had in the early 1970s...


CRUISING BIRMINGHAM’S CANALS A BCN Explorer Cruise described by Northampton Branch members Roland and Fiona Rawlings, nb Loch Rannoch The Birmingham Canal Navigation Society organises two Explorer Cruises each year to enable boaters, particularly those with little experience of the less well frequented parts of the BCN, to get a first-hand appreciation of the canal network around Birmingham, to learn a little about the BCN development and to visit some of the lost waterways. The September cruise was, as in recent years, ably led by Stuart and Marie Sherrat, who were well supported by BCN Chairman Charley Johnson and members Phil and Robert. There were 21 boats at the start of the cruise but unfortunately, due to engine problems, one of the boats had to drop out on the first day and another had to withdraw later. We arrived a couple of days early to make use of the opportunity to visit the centre of Birmingham and were able to moor opposite the Barclaycard Arena (National Indoor Arena) where we had a very enjoyable stay. Whilst it was a vibrant location, away from the immediate vicinity of the pubs and restaurants, it quietened down Mooring on the Midland main line quickly in the evenings in central Birmingham and there were no security fears. Boaters met on the Friday evening before the cruise outside the Sea Life Centre to give the BCNS leaders the opportunity to meet everyone and to explain the cruise. Afterwards, we had an evening get-together at one of the local pubs. Day 1, Saturday 12th September, cruised to Titford (6miles 9 locks) Travelling in our own time to avoid overly long delays at the locks, we continued on the main line to Smethwick. Here we had a choice of routes, either to continue on the

25 new main line to take the Spon Lane locks to the old main line or to take the three Smethwick locks to the old main line. We took the Smethwick locks after which we were able to moor next to the new (1892) Smethwick Pump House which was open for a Heritage Weekend event. Our timing was fortuitous, for not only were we able to look round the pump house, we were able to go with a local guide to the old pump house (1779) situated down the Engine Arm, a short walk away. To get to this from the old main line, we had to cross the new main line on Telford's cast iron Engine Arm Aqueduct, a scheduled ancient monument. Only the excavated foundations of the original pump remain but they too are also a scheduled ancient monument. They give a good insight into the pump’s construction. After this we continued towards Oldbury Junction, where we ascended the Titford locks (aka The Crow) to the Titford Pump House. A social evening was held at the BCNS headquarters in the Pump House and included a welcome to the BCNS by their Chairman, followed by a team quiz on British canals arranged by Mike Rolfe, BCNS work party coordinator. It was not easy and even some well experienced boaters didn’t get all the correct answers! The evening finished with group members providing the entertainment in the form of music and verse.

Open day at Smethwick Pump House

Day 2, Sunday 13th September, to Wednesfield (11 miles 6 locks 6 hours) Some boaters visited Titford Pools yesterday afternoon but most went there before leaving this morning. All those who successfully took their boats into the Pools were awarded a plaque by the BCNS. The boats then left Titford and descended the Titford locks before turning left at Oldbury Junction and continuing on the old main line through Tipton and Coseley to Horseley Fields Junction. Here they turned on to the Wyrley and Essington Canal and continued to Wednesfield where they moored in and around the Bentley Arm outside the Nickelodeon pub. A few boats, however, were delayed in Titford as one of the boats picked up some mattress springs on its propeller. We stayed to help and it took a lot of hard work from a number of crews but eventually the propeller was cleared. However, by then it was too late for us, in a hire boat, to meet up with the main party and two of the delayed boats stayed with us, mooring at Tipton.

26 Day 3, Monday 14th September, to Pelsall Common (12 miles 0 locks 4 hrs) Phil Bateman, a local councillor keen to promote the use of the canals, came to meet cruise members and the opportunity was taken for a photoshoot before the group left Wednesfield and continued on the Wyrley and Essington Canal to Pelsall Common. Fortunately this day’s cruise was fairly short and it enabled the three delayed boats to catch up with the main party. Day 4, Tuesday 15th September, to Longwood (13 miles 0 locks 5 hrs) We left Pelsall Junction and continued to Catshill Junction. The opportunity was taken by some of the group to see Anglesey Basin but we opted out and continued via Daw End Canal to Longwood. We all moored at Longwood Boat Club where the boat club welcomed us with a wonderful afternoon tea with homemade cakes. A big thank you to the club. In the evening we had a fish and chip supper when an interesting talk about the BCN was given by Phil Clayton from BCNS. Early in the week it was identified that a number of the boaters played a ukulele and a scratch ukulele band was formed. After a very limited opportunity for rehearsal, they rounded off our evening with an excellent performance. Day 5, Wednesday 16th September, to Moorcroft Junction (7 miles 9 locks 6 hrs) We left Longwood and Stuart Sherrat accompanying a descended the Rushall boat through Titford Pools locks and travelled to Rushall Junction, turned right on to the Tame Valley Canal which led us to Ocker Hill. Turning right onto the Walsall Canal, we continued to a mooring area adjacent to Moorcroft Junction and Willingsworth Hall Bridge. This was an excellent venue for us all to have barbecues and spend the evening on the bank together. Day 6, Thursday 17th September, to Walsall Town basin (4 miles 0 locks 2-3 hrs) In the morning we had a leisurely walk to the Bradley workshop lock gate manufacturing facility. During this walk and visit, we were joined by local canal historian Andy Tidy who explained the history of the branch and helped us to orientate our-

27 selves during the walk, explaining with the help of photos and maps which he had brought with him what the area would have been like when the use of the branch was at its peak. Day 7, Friday 18th September, to Tipton.(10 miles 11 locks 6 hrs) Some boats had to leave the group in Walsall to start making their own way home that day. We left the basin early to return on the Walsall Canal past the Tame Valley Junction. The Walsall Canal is very little used and, as a result, is overgrown with weed, necessitating taking it very slowly to avoid snagging the prop on weeds or rubbish. It is a pity this section is so little used as the local authority in Walsall has done much to improve the town basin and they see the canal improvement as an important contributor to the regeneration of the area. It is very much a “Catch 22” situation as visitors are going to remain few while the access is so difficult but, without regular use, cruising the Walsall Canal is going to remain difficult. No doubt it will improve, as has so many other parts of our canal system, but it will probably need to be a joint action enabling increased use of the towpath by cyclists and walkers as well as the canal itself by anglers and boaters. The Ryders Green locks to the new main line took a fair amount of time, one of the pounds having drained overnight. We identified a few problems with the lock equipment and, following calls to CRT, repairs were carried out very promptly. From the new main we again had a choice of routes to the old main line to moor at Tipton Green, which was the end of the BCNS Explorer Cruise and where the Tipton Festival was being held —an excellent end to a really wonderful week. Our thanks to everyone from the BCNS who helped us and special thanks to Stuart and Marie who worked so hard to make the whole week so enjoyable NOTE For all those interested in exploring the 100 miles of canals known as the Birmingham Canal Navigation, the BCNS arrange two Explorer Cruises annually. We thoroughly enjoyed the week and would certainly recommend the experience to those looking to visit a central, but little used, part of our canal system. It provides a sociable week with plenty of variety and places of interest to visit

Getting ready for a barbecue

28 Bradley Workshop At Bradley workshop, we were met by CRT staff and were allowed to tour the facility at our own pace. After the visit, some returned to their boats while the rest of us took a detour around the Wednesbury Oak Loop and Gospel Oak Branch back to our moorings. We then left the moorings in the early afternoon to travel to Walsall town and a great crowd to share this with. Travelling as part of a group of twenty boats plus leader is enough to make even a dull stretch of canal interesting. Given the relatively short distances to be travelled some days, we expected to have an easy week but we were surprised how busy we were with plenty to keep us occupied. We still had to get the boat to and from the start and finish points of the Explorer Cruise, so all in all a busy and satisfying two weeks away. Information about future Explorer Cruises can be obtained from Stuart Sherrat, Email: Obituary


The death of canal boat painter and sign writer Ron Hough, on 11 th December, marked the passing of the last of those master craftsmen who had both painted the old working boats in the twilight of canal carrying and brought that tradition into the new era of canal leisure boating. Ron was born on 3rd October, 1934 in Birmingham into a family of working boatmen, but in a house and not on the canal. His parents soon moved to Braunston because his mother wanted her children to have a proper education in the village school. At about the age of 16, Ron began working for canal carriers and boat-builders Samuel Barlow in their Braunston yard, as an apprentice working in boat building and repairs. But he was soon attracted to the yard’s tradition for boat painting, especially that of its foreman, the legendary Frank Nurser. Self-employed, Ron worked around the waterways, including Samuel Barlow, and the new world of canal leisure boating. When the work was not there, he would turn his hand to being a house painter and decorator. Ron continued working as a canal painter into his seventies. His charge-rates were modest; as he said he had all he needed to live on and liked working. Ron was married in Braunston Church in 1958 to a London girl, Yvonne. He had met her walking the village towpath when she had come up to visit her sister. They had three children. Ron was buried in Braunston Churchyard, only a short distance from his mentor Frank Nurser, and the many working boatmen and women also resting there, whom he knew in his Samuel Barlow days. Tim Coghlan Ron Hough painting the recently restored Raymond in 2002. (Photo: Peter Andrews, Friends of Raymond)



Boathouse demolished as new pedestrian bridge brings big changes at Becket’s Park By Sue Cant, the Environment Agency’s Lincolnshire & Northamptonshire Waterways Team Leader

You may have noticed that Northampton’s landscape has changed recently. No, not the Express Lifts Tower — that’s still visibly there — this particular change is much closer to the river. At Becket’s Park, in fact, where work started in late November 2015 on ground works that will support a new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking the town centre with Northampton University’s evolving Waterside Campus. This bridge will follow a distinct curved design, rising in the Park and crossing the navigation downstream of Town Lock. Finding the right location for the bridge in an area that is very ‘busy’ in terms of river control structures has not been easy. We could not consent anything that would cross

Illustrative route of the new foot and cycle bridge at Becket’s Park directly over the lock or the weir, as this would interfere with our ability to maintain and repair these structures. It could not pass through the marina as its constant use would cause too much disturbance to marina residents and users. Our requirement for any new bridge spanning our waterways is a minimum of 3 metres clearance between the bridge soffit and the river during normal water levels and we worked hard with the designers to ensure the new bridge should provide this on both sections of the river it crosses. We were also keen the new bridge should not provide areas on the Lock Island which could encourage the reappearance of the antisocial activities this area of Northampton has suffered in the past. To achieve this, the new bridge will in part be cantilevered off the Lock Island and pass over the water between the island and the marina.

31 Inevitably, something had to give and in this case it was the final demise of the old boathouse, which has now been demolished as part of the ground preparation works. I say ‘old boathouse’ but we understand this particular building had stood on site since only the 1960s, replacing an earlier boathouse destroyed by fire. It had seen little use of its intended purpose, though, for quite some years.

The detailed design of the new pedestrian and cycle bridge is yet to be submitted as a conditions discharge to the original planning application. However, the designers have given an indication of their proposals, as may be seen from the illustrations here. Town Lock will remain open throughout the duration of the construction works, although there may be short periods when delays are inevitable – for example when the bridge structure is lifted into place. Updates will be posted at various lock sites along the river and also on our webpages anglian-waterways-river-conditionsclosures-and-restrictions, and tweeted via @PaulSeparovicEA. Please plan ahead and take care when in the area, allow extra travelling time for any delays, and follow the on-site contractors’ instructions at all times.







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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



BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOCIETY Against very strong competition, Buckingham Canal Society (BCS) has won the Canal & River Trust South East Region Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award 2015. BSC has been awarded for its outstanding contribution to volunteering within the South East Waterways Region, with particular recognition for its high output levels, ambitious restoration projects and successful range of achievements within a Community Adoption Agreement at Cosgrove. The award includes a certificate and a shield which the Society keeps for a year. Athina Beckett, on behalf of the Society, commented: “This recognition is for all members and friends of the Society who have helped us achieve this award over the past year. I feel everyone in the Society should be congratulated and should share my excitement that all our efforts have been acknowledged by CRT. Well done everybody!” The BCS runs regular practical task parties on alternate Thursdays and second Sundays of each month and always welcomes new volunteers. For more information visit or email information @ Buckingham Canal Society volunteer leader Athina Beckett (second from right ) receiving the Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award from the Canal & River Trust’s (left to right) Miriam Linforth, John Highmore and Lee King

Athina Beckett and fellow volunteers pictured with the Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award and Shield at a Buckingham Canal Society Sunday work party at Cosgrove.


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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

NEXT MEETINGS Tuesday 8th March AGM followed by Tim Coghlan — “By the Waters of Braunston” Tuesday , 12th April Speaker: Richard Thomas — “Waterway Wonders” Tuesday, 10th May Speaker: Tony Conder — “Canals through the Artist’s Eye” The next edition of Endeavour will be published May 2016


WHO’S WHO IN NORTHAMPTON BRANCH 2015/2016 Branch Chairman Bernard Morton 07785 375787 E-mail: bernard.morton

Vice Chairman, Joint Task Party Organiser & Membership Secretary Geoff Wood E-mail: geoff.wood

Branch Secretary

Branch Meetings Graham Treagus E-mail: graham.treagus

Boat Gathering Chairman & Joint Task Party Organiser Michael Butler E-mail: michael.butler

Sandie Morton

Planning Officer

E-mail: sandie.morton

Helen Westlake

Treasurer Alex Madisons E-mail: alex.madisons

Publicity & Grants Officer Lynda Payton E-mail:lynda.payton

Newsletter & Joint Website Editor

E-mail: helen.westlake

Committee Member John Pomfret E-mail: john.pomfret

Joint Website & Social Media Officer Sam Line E-mail: sam.line

Tony Clarke 07939 977859 E-mail: tony.clarke

Non-Committee posts Sales: Catriona Butler 01604 473756 Endeavour Assistant Editor, Advertising & Distribution, Archivist Roger Hasdell 01604 248582

Boat Gathering Sub-Committee members Michael Butler (Chairman), Catriona Butler, Linda Clarke, Tony Clarke, Alex Madisons, Bernard Morton, Sandie Morton and John Pomfret


Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

February 2016 wpdf  

IWA Northampton Branch Newsletter.

February 2016 wpdf  

IWA Northampton Branch Newsletter.