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Endeavour 1 to attempt (eg the ful filment 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 2017

Likely beneficiaries identified

DISTRIBUTING JOHN’S LEGACY Meetings have already been held by Northampton Branch Committee to consider the distribution of the sizeable legacy left to the waterways movement by John Faulkner following his death in December 2015. John, a member of the Branch since the late 1960s and a Branch Committee member for over 20 years, gifted more than £125,000 in three equal shares of £41,870 – one share to the Branch, another for wat erway projects in Northamptonshire and other areas of the UK, and a third share to the IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group. However, Branch Chairman Bernard Morton, says it is too soon to give specific figures. “ At this early stage, there are many background details to be examined about the projects we are proposing to support, although we can announce a number of likely benefi ciaries,” he explained.

New Nene footbridge at Thrapston These include the Buckingham Canal Society, the Sea Cadets based at Becket’s Park in Northampton, and financial assistance towards the Environment Agency’s plans to build a footbridge over the River Nene with a greater clearance than the existing bridge to ease navigation below Islip Lock at Thrapston. On the Northampton Arm there will be a community project involving several local schools to produce a mosaic trail along the whole length of the Arm. Also, on the Arm, the plan is to provide interpretation panels at either end, at Gayton Junction and at Lock 17 at Far Cotton, with the latter panel to feature information about the historic crane now sited nearby. Continued on page 13 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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EDITORIA L MUSINGS The annual get-together at Stoke Bruerne’s Canal Museum, organised the Canal & River Trust to acknowledge the work carried out by volunteer groups in the area, is always a pleasing event to attend because it illustrates strongly how much is being achieved by these committed enthusiasts. I feel the Trust should be heartily congratulated in harnessing such willing workforces whose aim is clearly the betterment of the waterways as a whole. Last year this get-together was held in early December when the recipient of the Trust’s Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award in the South-East was the Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership. This was the second accolade to be received by the Partnership in 2016, the other being a Commendation in the Art and Interpretation category of the CRT’s Living Waterways Awards. Helen Westlake has contributed an article about the activities of the Partnership in this Endeavour (pages 22). Sonny King, the Trust’s seconded Volunteer Development Co-ordinator, who presided at the get-together and presented the shield to the Partnership’s Rob Westlake, said there were now more than 20 Adoption Groups in the CRT’s South-East Region, including our own Northampton Arm group, one of the biggest – if not the biggest – in the country. He expressed his sincere thanks to all the volunteers, saying they were making such a dramatic impact towards the improvement of the overall condition of the network. Then, keeping it in the family, Sonny’s dad, SE Maintenance Manager Lee King, said the area around Lock 17 at Far Cotton in Northampton was “just one of the many places I go to which are looking better than ever”. For the record, our patch seems to have a firm grip on the Recognition Award. In 2011 it went to the Whilton and Buckby Locks Association, 2012 to Blisworth Canal Partnership, 2013 to Braunston Canal Society, 2014 to IWA Northampton Branch and 2015 to the Buckingham Canal Society. Well done, folks! On a different tack, I wonder how many of you have noticed that the River Nene is now spanned by two new bridges at Northampton, where it’s all been happening at Midsummer Meadow and Becket’s Park. The first bridge to appear in the autumn was the road bridge linking Bedford Road with the new University of Northampton campus on the south side of the river, scheduled for completion in 2018. Soon afterwards a gracefully curving footbridge was placed into position at Becket’s Park where it passes close to the lock and the old boathouse. This means there are now six crossings of the river between Lock 17 and Midsummer Meadow. I would suggest one of them, the one painted in the Saints rugby club colours, urgently requires TLC with the paint brush. In the midst of all this stands the relatively new Northampton Marina. It’s fascinating to see all this waterfront development going on. For those with long memories, it is in sharp contrast to the post-war years when town expansion was a tedious business – but when it did take off in the 1970s, boy, wasn’t it explosive. (See new bridge pictures on page 14).


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DIARY DATES March 14th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch AGM at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth, followed by a talk by Tony Brooks on Boat Maintenance

April 11th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Speaker: John Pomfret —The Chelmer & Blackwater and nearby navigations

May 9th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Speaker: Barry Watson —The Agony and Ecstasy of Hotel Boating 19th to 21st

IWA Northampton Branch Boat Gathering at Stoke Bruerne. See Chairman’s Jottings and page 16 for details

NORTHAMPTON ARM TASK PARTY DATES March 5th, 21st. April 2nd, 18th. May 7th, 16th. June 4th, 20th. July 2nd, 18th. August 6th, 15th. Contact: geoff.wood @waterways.org.uk or phone 01604453932 BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOCIETY WO RK PARTY DATES March 9th, 12th, 23rd. April 6th, 9th, 20th. May 4th, 14th, 18th. June 1st, 11th, 15th, 29th.

For more information contact Athina Beckett athinabec@aol.com 01908661217 07721319404 Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership Work Party Dates March 8th. April 12th. May 10th. June 14th. July 12th.

Contact: stokebruernecanalpartnership.org.uk

IWA Northampton Branch web site www.waterways.org.uk/northampton Please visit it regularly to see any updates


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Branch Chairman’s Jottings by Bernard Morton There’s no hiding from the fact that in recent times attendances at our Boat Gatherings, the Branch’s principal annual fundraiser, have been disappointing. Even in the last years at Becket’s Park, numbers were tapering off. So your organising committee thought a change of venue to the historic Nurser’s Dock at Braunston Marina might encourage a few newcomers along as well as some of the faithful who had fallen by the wayside. Sadly, no. Also, last year wasn’t helped by the fact that several regulars couldn’t get there because of illness or other unavoidable commitments. Nevertheless, we gathered – but it was not what we had hoped for. Now, this May we have switched venues again – to Stoke Bruerne. And a new date – the weekend of 20th – 21st May, although things get underway on the Friday evening, the 19th. In other words we have abandoned the traditional early Spring Bank Holiday dates in favour of a weekend which precedes the Crick Boat Show and the hope is that we shall attract travelling boaters on their way there. I’m assured by Branch greybeards this will be the first dedicated Branch Gathering (or rally) to be staged at Stoke Bruerne. Branch organised rallies have definitely been held at Stoke in the past, but these were essentially protest events urging Government and BWB action to repair and reopen Blisworth Tunnel in the early 1970s. I’m also told one Branch Gathering was held near Blisworth instead of at Becket’s Park, but the reason for this in unclear but it was probably due to high river levels. The most recent big rally at Stoke Bruerne was in 2005 to celebrate the bicentenary of the opening of Blisworth Tunnel. Several Branch members were involved in the organisation of this, but it was certainly an independent event although well supported by Northampton IWA. However, turning to the Gathering being held in May, CRT are giving their full backing and a number of mooring spots will be reserved for us above Top Lock with the excess in the Long Pound. Details are still being finalised but there will be the usual Friday evening getting-to-know-you occasion in the main marquee with games, lighthearted quizzes and something new, a jam session. Participants for this have already expressed a willingness to get the ball rolling. Saturday evening will feature music and dancing with a quiz on Sunday evening after our now traditional fish/chi cken supper. As always, there will be a prize awarded for the best decorated supper table. This has now become a feature and people are going to great lengths to present an eye -catching display. Join in – it’s great fun. The Gathering, of course, is fully licensed throughout with the sale of cask ales being a speciality. The bar will be housed within the main marquee sited in Quarry Field alongside the canal. This is an area of land acquired by CRT which will be used for a


8 range of waterways related activities. If you recall it was used for the first time last September for the Canal Museum’s Village at War Weekend, proving most successful. There will be a variety of ongoing activities over the two-day Gathering such as a treasure hunt, talks and walks together with the ever-popular Cat’s Vintage Tearoom with home-made cakes. One or two trade boats might be there too. Also, there is a strong possibility of two different perform ances by Kate Saffin, with her onewoman show about the wartime Idle Women on the cut. Do please make every effort to join us. Come by road, or even with a caravan, if you can’t get there by boat. The more the merrier. An entry form, which includes caravan parking details, is enclosed with this Endeavour. The form can also be downloaded from the Branch website www.waterways.org.uk/northampton Note: entries received before 21st April quali fy for a £5 discount. LEGACY DISTRIBUTION. You will see from the main story in this Endeavour that good progress is being made towards the distribution of John Faulkner’s generous legacy. It is not such a straightforward process as it might seem. To all intents and purposes it is similar to the distribution of National Lottery money. If memory serves me correctly, in the early days of the Lottery, criticism came the way of the organisers for handing out money without undertaking sufficient enquiries and assessment procedures as to the long-term viability of certain large and ambitious schemes which, in due course, ran into trouble from the lack of satis factory supporting revenue streams. Thus, today’s focus on sustainability. Wasting money, especially from legacies, in this way would be a gross misjudgement. John certainly wouldn’t wish this to happen. Hence our close examination of the schemes we decide to support. Patience and understanding may well be required in some instances. There will still be money remaining in the kitty after we agree the first tranche of grants. We are open to ideas. Please get in touch. PUBLICITY OFFICER. The Branch is still seeking a publicity officer following the unavoidable resignation from the post of Lynda Payton due to husband Sam’s illness. Previously Roger Hasdell filled this role but he is reluctant to take up the reins again becaus e of advancing years and his admitted inability to cope with today’s communication techniques! Meantime, we get through on a make-do-and-mend basis, but clearly this is not satisfactory long term. Publicity is a key role in the Branch’s activities. It is not an onerous job – just important! Your committee would be really grateful if someone would step forward to fill the void. LOOKING AHEAD. And so we move forward to another “ cruising season”, although all true canal people do not care to recognise this expression. Moving around on the waterways is a genuine 12-month experience for many, only curtailed by ice


9 and unavoidable maintenance closure demands. However, as more and more people treat their boats as country cottages – (I’m sorry but I do find this approach somewhat frustrating) – so we must expect the fair weather boaters to dominate. Memo to self: the waterways are for all and I must learn to be less curmudgeonly over this sector of fellow boaters. Just think about the volume of business they bring with them! So, let’s hope as always for a good season ahead. Hot, but not too boiling, and plenty of water. At the time of writing I think we are okay about the latter but no guarantees about the former.

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

NEW MEMBERS Mr B & Mrs J Chipps, Bugbrooke Mr R A & Mrs J A Judd, Rushden

MEMBERS MOVED TO THE BRANCH Mr T & Mrs D Scandling, Crick Marina

We look forward to meeting you all at our Branch events

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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, 14th March, 2017, at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth, commencing at 8pm. AGENDA: (please bring this agenda to the meeting) 1: Apologies for absence 2: Minutes of previous AGM held on 8th March, 2016 3: Matters arising 4: Chairman’s Report 5: T reasurer’s Report 6: Statement of Committee size 7: Election of Committee members 8: AOB Under the IWA Branch bylaws effective from 12 November 2007, there is no restriction on the maximum size of the committee. Alex Madisons, Tony Clarke, John Pomfret, Helen Westlake and Sam Line retire by rotation and seek re-election. Gemma Kinsey and Paul Lynam were co-opted during the year and seek 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. (signe d) Bernard Morton, IWA Northampton Branch IWA Northampton Branch now has a Facebook page. It’s at https:// www.facebook.com/IWANorthamptonBranch 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.


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Distributing John’s legacy In addition, there is the possibility of assisting the Friends of the River Nene group to provide more mooring sites along the river, while back on the canals, consideration will be given to helping towards the cost of establishing an electricity supply to the Canal & River Trust’s recently acquired Quarry Field sited alongside the canal at Stoke Bruerne – an area which will be used during the Branch’s annual Boat Gathering in May. Members of the Buckingham Canal Society are looking to fund the rebuilding of Bridge 1 at Cosgrove – a development which will enable the re-watering of the canal to the A5. Meanwhile, the development of the Sea Cadets site at Becket’s Park has already received planning permission. Initially this will focus on enhancing the changing and shower accommodation and generally modifying and improving the main hall to allow for better training facilities and greater us e by visiting groups and organisations. With grants being obtained from elsewhere, it is hoped this work will start during the summer. “The support of the Sea Cadets project is particularly close to our hearts as the Cadets have been enthusiastic participants in our Branch Boat Gatherings at Becket’s Park over many years,” said Bernard. “We feel it is appropriate to encourage as many youngsters as possible to get out on the water in a safe and disciplined manner – after all, they are the future of our waterways.” Bernard emphasised: “There is still a great deal of groundwork to be completed before the actual payouts from John’s generous legacy can begin. Indeed, your committee recognises it has considerable responsibilities in ensuring it meets what we hope are John’s wishes and the money is spent wisely. Nothing will be hurried or undertaken lightly. If anyone would like to contribute ideas for other projects for support, please let me know so that they may go forward for consideration.” Before any paym ents are made, it should be noted that the Branch’s recommendations will require rati fication from the IWA’s Trustees. Bernard added: “ But as I mentioned in the last Endeavour, IWA Head Offi ce has inform ed me that Northampton Branch will have first call on the amount designated for Northamptonshire and other areas of the UK, and our wish of course is that we would prefer the money to go to local causes and projects.”

“There is still a great deal of groundwork to be completed before the actual payouts


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New bridges over the Nene

Our Editorial Musings refer to the new bridges over the River Nene at Becket’s Park and Midsummer Meadow. Well, here they are. The top picture shows the curving footbridge by the lock looking towards the growing University of Northampton buildings. The other, a road bridge, links Bedford Road also with the University development. Our Musings note there are now six crossings of the river between Lock 17 and Midsummer Meadow. But should this actually be seven, if you count the bridge over the tail of the lock, as seen here?


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DAVENTRY CANAL - planning permission is gained, but the protests will continue After reporting in the last Endeavour (November 2016) that Daventry Town Council had unanimously objected to Daventry District Council’s revised plans to build a canal arm into the town from the Grand Union, there cam e a new twist to the story in January when the District Council’s planning committee approved its own Council’s application to build the 1.6 mile arm. According to the Daventry Express newspaper, the approved application includes six locks rather than a boat lift, but did not deal with the waterfront development proposed for the Eastern Way playing field. The application was originally submitted to the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, but with the WNDC now disbanded, its planning powers have been trans ferred to the District Council. Members of the planning committee were reminded that it was not a planning committee’s role to consider the economics of any planning application. The committee had to base its decision on planning terms. “We don’t want it” was not a valid reason to refuse planning permission. The idea is that planning permission is just that – a legal permission to build rather than a financial or political judgement whether it should be built. It was noted that the canal proposal has been on the table for more than 10 years and, as part of local master plans and strategic plans for the town, has been open to public consultation. The proposal that planning permission be granted was nine for and two against. It is now up to the District Council, as a whole, to decide if there is a business case for the project and if it has, and it wants to commit, the money to build it. Either way, the planning permission will lapse if no work commences within three years. Cllr Colin Poole, the District Council’s economic, regeneration and employment portfolio holder, is reported as saying: “The Daventry canal arm is a key part of our vision to create a thriving town, so we’re delighted it has been grant ed planning permission.” He added: “ Now that permission is in place we can explore funding options for the canal arm, as well as detailed plans for a boat li ft. This landmark structure would not only have a practical function, but would also create a tourist attraction of national – and possibly international – significance, putting Daventry on the tourism map. This would bring great social and economic benefits locally, but would also help to drive future investment into our district worth millions of pounds.” Meanwhile, the Labour group on Daventry District Council say the fight against the proposed canal arm will continue. Many people regard it as a complete waste of money. Opponents say the District Council needs to find about £20m to construct it, with no guarantee that funds will be found. Labour also claims that the DDC is still planning to spend more than £1m on designs for a boat lift and more than £2m on the waterspace. Labour Cllr Ken Ritchie comments: “When there is no assurance of money to build the canal arm, DDC is gambling with council taxpayer’s money for a project we neither need nor want.” The meeting was well attended by members of the public, among them IWA Northampton members.


18 Obituary

STEVE MILES — a prolific writer of

canal fiction Tim Coghlan writes: It was by chance, and rather late in life – in 2005 at the age of 58, that Steve Miles becam e a writer of canal fiction under the nom de plume of Geoffrey Lewis. But in the following decade, with an average a book a year – each of about 80,000 words - he developed into probably the most prolific writer of canal fi ction there has ever been. Steve pictured at Nurser’s Dock at Braunston Marina To ensure the publication of his works, he even set up his own publishing house called SGM Publishing – his initials, the G for Geoffrey - so he did not need to find a publisher or work under its editorial control. Despite this, his books were always meticulously written. He once wrote: “Searching for the correct word for its context can be one of the chi ef frustrations of being a writer.” The book themes frequently involved children as their heroes – A Boy Off The Bank, A Girl At The Tiller to mention just two. They often had a troubled theme, set against a wartime background of WWII or WWI. The story of A Boy Off The Bank is about the ten year old son of a drunken working boatman, who abuses him, and he is also treated ‘as a skivvy’ by his mother. As the blurb reads: “ On a bitter cold night in January 1940 he sets out to commit suicide.” This storyline was almost a premonition of Steve’s own tragic end in the winter of 2016, in a lonely place, aboard his large American cl assic car. Despite the gloomy themes of some of his novels, Steve always said he had had a happy childhood. He was born in north Oxford near the Oxford Canal in Jericho in 1947, which he knew well during the twilight years of canal carrying, and which became a theme of his books. Steve’s father ran a success ful car mechanic business, and the family was comfortably off. Because of the business’s relative close proximity to the US Airforce base at Heyford, it became a major supplier of spare parts to the servicemen’s American cars, and many of those cars used to be driven to the business, which enthralled the young Steve. Soon he was invited over to the base, cycling there with a friend to take


19 photographs of the parked cars. His parents were happy to allow him to do so. Such things were quite possible in those days, and the excursions started a lifelong love of both those big classic American cars and photography. A bright pupil, Steve passed the Eleven Plus to Oxford High School for Boys, where he opted to study sciences. He did not go on to university, choosing to go to Hatfield Polytechnic and a career in the pharmaceutical industry until, after a succession of redundancies, he gave it up in 1991. Steve’s canal involvement now began in earnest. He moved onto a 44ft narrowboat he had bought, and set up a photographic business, which in time also failed. It led to his buying and running the Linda Cruising Company in 1995, which used a former working narrowboat built in 1912 and now convert ed to a trip-boat based at Cosgrove. This Steve ran for nine years, replacing it in 2000 with a new purpose-built trip boat the Elizabeth of Glamis, in honour of the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday Steve had already begun writing as a side-line from the early 1990s, including a number of books and articles on classic American cars, and some detective fi ction, before moving full time into writing canal fiction in 2005. In about 2006 Steve became involved with the Friends of Raymond, a canal charity that owns and runs the former pair of working narrowboats Nutfield & Raymond. Without a ‘proper day-job’, as he liked to put it, he was able to become the volunteer captain. For many years, during the summer months, he was in charge of moving the finely restored pair of boats to canal boat shows and rallies, where he would then be on hand to explain the boats to visitors, wearing his signature wide-brimmed America leather hat. Between 2013 and 2016 he was Chairman of the Friends, and for many years the editor of its newsletter. In his Cosgrove days, he was also for some years Chairman of the Bucking- Steve Miles in red with fellow Friends of Raymond after Raymond’s end of season makeover in November 2014 ham Canal Society.


20 Steve never married – he spoke of a very unhappy relationship in his early life that had left him deeply affected, with no desire to become involved in a relationship again. He had no children. For the latter part of his life he lived alone in a rented housing association flat near the Oxford Canal at Kidlington, just north of Oxford, where he wrote his books and kept his large American classic car. In the opening chapter of Narrow Boat, the great canal author Tom Rolt wrote in 1944 on the paucity of canal literature: “ One small shelf in my library is suffici ent to contain all that has been written about Braunston book launch of A Girl At The Tiller canals.” Steve Miles in March 2008. Steve is in the centre flanked by produced another shel f Tim Coghlan (left )and Braunston just on his own, which county councillor and canal enthusiast Robin Brown will be read by canal enthusiasts for many years to come.

Local Crafts & Gifts THE CANAL SHOP at Stoke Bruerne Under the management of Sue Austin, who warmly welcomes all visitors Crocheted lacework a speciality Special offer –10% off for boaters Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am –3pm until Easter. Easter onwards: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11am - 3.30pm

Contact 07760 778638 Steve reading his book Starlight during a quiet moment at the 2009 Ownerships Show at Braunston

You will ind The Canal Shop opposite the Museum at

Stoke Bruerne


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22 STOKE BRUERNE CANAL PARTNERSHIP IS HELPING TO MAKE HISTORY COME ALIVE By Helen Westlake, Chair of Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership In December 2013 an amazed Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership received the news that it had been awarded a significant sum of money by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The funding provided for an interpret ation project involving 10 information panels and various direction signs, to be installed along the canal corridor between Blisworth Tunnel south portal and the bottom of Stoke Bruerne lock flight, a distance of over a mile. The news was all the more surprising because the Partnership did not have a penny of its own for this or any other purpose. Apart from three small, though valued, donations, the project was to be funded almost entirely by HLF, which was unusual. Clearly, a good case had been made for the need to provide accurate and interesting visitor information along the site, to match that available in the Canal Museum. However, the award came at a price in terms of additional heritage events that had to be provided to inform and engage the wider public in their local history. The Partnership itself is unique, dating back in origin to the early 1990s, when it was realised that valuable projects, which couldn’t be afforded by any one body, might nevertheless happen i f organisations combined effort and budgets. At that time this was a ground breaking approach to getting things done. The Partnership in its present form is made up of representatives of The Friends of the Canal Museum, Northampton One of the prizewinning interpretation panels at Stoke Bruerne


23 IWA, the local Parish Council, South Northants Council, Northants County Council, the Canal & River Trust, Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, local businesses and local residents. In 2012 it produced the latest in a series of Development Plans, in which interpretation improvements featured strongly. The HLF bid was made to achieve these. Because the Partnership had no budget or staff of its own, consultants were engaged to help put the project into effect. Carol Parr and Associates provided advice, ideas, artwork and support for heritage events throughout 2014 and 2015. Oral reminiscence days, heritage walks, geocaching events, art days and combined walks/boat trips through and over the tunnel filled the calendar. A photography project involving the local village primary school culminated in a wonderful 2016 calendar of Stoke Bruerne scenes and canal detail. Alongside all this activity, the consultants advised on and draft ed the information panels. Many hours were spent debating the best location for each panel, the detail of the panel content and the design of the panel supports. In this we were very fortunate to have the wisdom and local knowledge of two members of the Partnership, Brian Collings and the late David Blagrove. In addition, we had wonderful artwork prepared by Brian Collings for a series of local information leafl ets (still available in the Canal Museum). For the sake of continuity and because the unique style and content worked so well, these formed the basis for the panel content. The design of the supporting structures was chosen to reflect the local canal vernacul ar and setting. Again, we were very fortunate in being able to recruit the skill and inventiveness of Bob Nightingale, the resident Stoke Bruerne blacksmith, who designed and constructed the metal legs, complete with individual hidden creatures for children to find. Finally, we were fortunate to receive a supply of surplus oak lock sills from the Kennet and Avon Canal, courtesy of CRT, which formed the cross support for the panels. But above and beyond all this, the bonus so appreciated by the Partnership was the time, effort and skill of numerous volunteers without whom the project would never have been completed. Some volunteers were recruited by advertisement and speci ally trained, for example, in oral history recording or as heritage walk leaders. Others came from what is known as the Adoption Group. This group of faithful volunteers came about when Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, under the then leadership of David Blagrove, adopted that length of canal between the tunnel and bottom lock, with a view to enhancing its appearance beyond what CRT is able to do on a day to day basis. Projects great and small, from litter picking, hedge cutting and vegetation management to the creation of cycle barri ers, lock painting and bulb planting have followed. None, however, so big as the Interpretation Project! Volunteers helped move the timbers from the lower lock slipway onto nb Sculptor and up to the blacksmith’s forge. Later, they helped move each finished panel support to its individual site and fixed them to concrete bases previously installed by CRT, then painted them in traditional black/white to echo lock beams and finally fixed the panels to the supports,


24 making good round each. With the winter of 2015 fast approaching, it was a mammoth effort to complete the project on time. The panels were offi cially unveiled by Andrea Leadsom MP in December 2015. Since then many visitors have stopped to read them and been impress ed and enlightened. Offici al recognition came in the form of a third place ‘Commended’ in the Art and Interpretation category of the annual CRT Living Waterways Awards, behind prestigious winners Mikron Theatre. During 2016 the Partnership had something of a well earned rest but has also been waiting for the outcome of CRT’s Destination Management Plan for Stoke Bruerne. The Adoption Group, however, often aided by work hungry volunteers from the Northampton IWA Adoption Group, have continued in their efforts to keep Stoke Bruerne looking tidy and attractive. In December 2016 it was awarded the annual CRT shield for voluntary groups working in the South-East region. If anyone would like to join this friendly bunch of people working in a beauti ful location on worthwhile tasks, we meet every second Wednesday of the month. Just phone myself or Rob Westlake on 01908 542414 – we would love to see you! Local MP Andrea Leadsom officially unveiling an interpretation panel on the Museum Green at Stoke Bruerne. Others seen, from left, are Helen Westlake, James Clifton (CRT Enterprise Manager, SE) and Rob Westlake


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NEW BRUSH STROKES FOR COLIN Well known boat painter, Colin Dundas, a long time IWA member and advertiser in Endeavour, is changing his work focus following the retirem ent of business colleague Kevin Humphrey, whose back has finally decided it has “ had enough”. For many years, Colin and Kevin have worked as a team throughout the area painting boats and other waterways artefacts, with a base in the floating dock at High House Wharf, near Heyford. Now, although continuing with boat repaints, Colin is aiming to scale down a little – “ I’m 60 later this year and want things to be a little less hectic. It’s not so easy to clamber about boats as the years take their toll.” Although staying on at High House, one of Colin’s ideas is to develop teaching days or workshops, with an emphasis on “hands on”. “ I shan’t just tell people how to paint their boats – I shall get them to do it under my guidance so that they can do some of it and maybe I can finish off the diffi cult and challenging aspects,” he explains. In other words he will be developing a DIY approach to boat painting, with his professional help and advice to hand. The outcome: sizeable cost savings for the client – a critical factor now that full boat repaints can cost up to £10,000 and, in some cases, even more. Colin, who hails from the village of Loughton, now part of Milton Keynes, was originally a piano maker with local firm Kemble Pianos. He was in his early 20s when made redundant but, already aware of his artistic capabilities, he enrolled on a yearlong signwriting and coach painting course at Chesterfield College of Art and Design, gaining his qualifications in 1984. Since then, he has been painting signs (as well as boats) throughout the Midlands and elsewhere including trackside signs at Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch motor racing circuits. Always essentially self-employed, Colin says he will paint virtually anything, from boats to vans, lorries and buses plus shop fas cias and general advertising hoardings. Numerous finely painted boats in Northamptonshire and around bear ample testament to his skills. “ It is now time to pass on some of my experiences to others to keep the art of signwriting alive and also, I hope, to save people money,” he says. “ I love the canals, the boats, the history and traditions involved and I expect much of my future work will still be waterways orientated.” Colin, previously the Spiderworx man, is now trading under the new name of Colin A Dundas Signs. He will be announcing more details of his planned painting classes and related activities soon. Having tested the market, he anticipates an enthusiastic response. He may be contacted at colinadundas@gmail.com or phone 07802 784901. See advert on page 29.


26 Letter to the Editor

More light shed on David Blagrove’s IWA shield Many thanks for the very kind words about Waterway Images, myself and my family in the last issue of Endeavour. Regarding the Shield Trophy: Having some knowledge of traditional decoration I recognised the roses as by Tooleys of Banbury, which of course could lead to a Rolt connection. But I have spoken to Tim Rolt and he hasn’t found anything referring to it yet in his father and mother’s effects. So I asked my friend, painting expert, artist and author Tony Lewery and I quote from his response: “ Yes, I photographed it at David Blagrove’s in 1993 and my notes say ‘Inland Waterways Association trophy-shield – possibly made in the late 1950s, certainly pre.1967, inscribed Painting by Herbert Tooley, carving by John Whale’. It was owned by David then so that information would have come from him.” It takes some getting used to that David - our mate for so many years – is no longer with us. When we all sang one of his songs at the end of his funeral service was one of the poignant moments of my life; although in a way uplifting. There will be many memories of his stories, songs and conversations we had in pubs – enough for a couple of books – but may I recount one of his amusing off-the-cuff remarks which sticks in my mind when I think of him? Long-standing members (certainly Old Stager) will remember when IWA held a National Waterways Fortnight during which branches organised events throughout the country. There was no Lichfi eld Branch then so we in the Trent & Mersey Canal Society took over the then Lichfield Arts Centre for two weeks of waterway orient ated exhibitions, culminating in a sort of Saturday night variety show of which David was our ‘star turn’. Approaching the start of the show there was no sign of him and we were starting to panic. No mobile phones then of course. But with about 10 minutes to go he arrived, only slightly flustered, and casually remarked – “ Sorry, the M1 was two inches down!” Harry Arnold (via email)

University adopts canal at Cosgrove Working with the Canal & River Trust, a mile of canal at Cosgrove has been adopted by the University of Northampton. It is hoped the adoption will help this stretch of waterway through the village develop as a place for people to visit and enjoy. It is likely students will also help the Buckingham Canal Society with their restoration work. The University’s Alan Lovell said: “The adoption allows our Travel and Tourism students to get hands-on real-life experience of managing a visitor attraction in conjunction with experts from the waterways sector.”


27 Old Stager recalls…

HOW DAVID TOLD A WATERBORNE CARGO STORY TO THE MEDIA IN 1983 I go back to Monday, 23rd May 1983. On that day, David Blagrove, on behalf of the Branch, issued a Press Release headed “Northampton cargo shows canals can still carry it”. It was no easy task to set the exercise up. Later, David reported that the cargo run, part of an IWA-organised National Waterways Fortnight, generated some of the widest publicity the Association had ever had. PRESS RELEASE “ Northampton Branch of IWA have now success fully delivered to Northampton Borough Council the first waterborne cargo to arrive in the Borough since 1971. The cargo was 45 tonnes of rock salt to be used for highway maintenance purposes by the Borough Engineer’s Department at West Bridge, Northampton. It was loaded by ICI (Mond Division) at Middlewich, Cheshire, and brought via the Trent and Mersey, Shropshire Union, Birmingham, Northern Stratford and Grand Union Canals to Northampton. This is a journey of 133 miles involving the working of 154 locks. Three boats were used, Lynx, Tench and Seaford, operated by Midland Canal Transport. Although a generous time allowance was made to allow for possible bad conditions on the canals, no trouble was experienced. The journey could have been made more com fortably in half the time allotted. “Because West Bridge Depot is not beside navigable water, it has been necessary for the salt to end its journey by road. This short road haul accounts for almost 10% of the total transport cost. “ During the canal journey the boats caused no congestion, fatal accidents, wear and tear to highways or damage to buildings, nor did they make any calls on police or emergency service time. The fuel consumed in the exercise by all three boats was about equal to the consumption of one and a half heavy lorries doing the same work. The exercise underlines IWA’s argument that by carrying direct to waterside industry or plant, transport costs can be substantially reduced even allowing for the outmoded dimensions of most of Britain’s canals. Updated and modernised, waterways can show substantial economies, as our EEC neighbours demonstrate. “ It is hoped that other waterside industries will be encouraged to investigate the feasibility of water transport and in the immediate future, Northampton Branch will be following up various local possibilities. “ Northampton Branch would like to thank ICI (Mond Division), British Waterways Board and Northampton Borough Council for the cooperation which has made this demonstration possible. The whole exercise had greatly furthered the aims of both the IWA and of the National Waterways Fortnight.”


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RICHARD GILL BSc, MABSE BOAT SAFE TY TESTIN G

BW A ND E A A PPR OVE D

EXP ERIEN C ED E XA MIN ER W ITH 25 YEARS WORKING ON THE WATERWAYS

Grand Union, Oxford & Leics Canals Rivers Nene and Thames RING: 07889 10 99 39 rgbarcos70@btinternet.com

HIGH HOUSE MARINA LTD High House Wharf, Heyford Lane, Weedon, Northants NN7 4S F OUR SMALL MARINA (ONLY 24 BOATS) IS A VERY FRIENDLY PLACE TO BE MOORED, HENCE OUR CLIENTS TEND TO STAY PUT Our car park is quite secure and well hidden from the road WE D O N O W AN D A G AI N H A VE A V A CA N C Y, SO W H Y NOT GI VE US A CA LL ? Contact Phil Gardner on 01327 349519, E-mail:phil.h.gardner@btconnect.com

Baxter Boat Yard Ltd Dry Dock, Pain ng, Welding services, Engine Ins talla ons & Servicing, Carpentry, General repairs, Wharf Services & small Chandlery.

Bridge 60, Yardley Gobion Tel:01908 542844 baxterboatyard@gmail.com

The IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated, otherwise the Association accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Neither the editor nor IWA can accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the magazine, and opinions stated are those of individual contributors. We will, however, gladly publish corrections if notified. The editor reserves the right to shorten or modify articles published in the interests of clarity or space.


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BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOCIETY Our fi rst work party of 2017 took place on Sunday 8th January at Cosgrove, writes Athina Beckett. Work is continuing on Bridge 1 at Cosgrove and the original tow path which went under the bridge has been uncovered. A considerable amount of earth covering the original bridge has now been cleared. At present the work for our volunteers is part excavator/dumper truck activity and part hand digging by volunteers. Work will continue at Cosgrove over the next few months. Any IWA members who would be interested in helping would be would be very welcome to join us. We go out on alternative Thursdays and on the second Sunday of each month (see Diary Dates on page 4). Other dates for your diary are: BCS Cheese and Wine Social Evening/AGM takes place on Saturday 18th March at 7.15pm at Buckingham Community Centre, Cornwalls Meadow, Buckingham. The evening will include an update on the work being carried out by the Society and a talk on the Lenborough Hoard of Anglo Saxon Treasure which can be seen at the Old Goal Museum, Buckingham. Our annual Canal Festival with a Craft Fair in Cosgrove Village Hall takes place over the weekend of 22n d -23rd July. Booking forms for boats are now available . Our excavator “Blue� hard at work


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ADVERTISING All advertisements must comply with the requirements of the Trades Descriptions Act and avoid misrepresentation of goods offered for sale. The Business Advertisements (Disclosure) Order 1977 requires that businesses seeking to sell goods must clearly indicate this in an advertisement.

CO MMERCIAL RATES 1/4 Page (box) £12.00 +VAT 1/2 Page (box) £25.00 +VAT Full Page £40.00 +VAT Other sizes by arrangement 10% discount for 4 issues paid yearly in advance 5% discount for 4 issues paid quarterly

CLASSIFIEDS (suggested donations) £1.50 for 22 words, 15p each additional word £3.50 for box around classified advertisement (nb. telephone numbers count as one word) £3.50 for photographs

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 14th, March AGM followed by a talk by Tony Brooks on Boat Maintenance Tuesday 11th, April Speaker: John Pomfret — Chelmer & Blackwater and nearby Navigations Tuesday 9th, May Speaker: Barry Watson — The Agony and Ecstasy of Hotel Boating The next edition of Endeavour will be published in May 2017


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WHO’S WHO IN NORTHAMPTON BRANCH 2016/2017 Branch Chairman Bernard Morton 07785 375787/ 01604 858294 E-mail: bernard.morton @waterway s.org.uk

Vice Chairman, Joint Task Party Organise r & Membe rship Se cre tary Geoff Wood E-mail: geoff.wood @waterway s.org.uk

Branch Meetings Gemma Kinsey E-mail: gemma..kinsey @waterway s.org.uk

Boat Gathering Chairman & Joint Task Party Organise r Michael Butler E-mail: michael.butler @waterway s.org.uk

Branch Secre tary Sandie Morton

Planning Office r

01604 858294 E-mail: sandie.morton @waterway s.org.uk

Helen Westlake E-mail: helen.westlake @waterway s.org.uk

Tre asure r Paul Lynam E-mail:paul.ly nam @waterway s.org.uk

Ne wsle tte r

We bsite & Social Me dia Office r Sam Line E-mail: sam.line @waterway s.org.uk

Tony Clarke

Committee Membe r

07939 977859 E-mail: tony .clarke @waterway s.org.uk

Alex Madisons

Region Chairman/ Committee Membe r John Pomfret E-mail: john.pomfret @waterway s.org.uk

E-mail: alex.madisons @waterway s.org.uk

Publicity & Grants Office Vacant (voluntee r re quire d)

Boat Gathering Sub-Committee members

Non-Committee post Endeavour Assistant Editor, Advertising & Distribution, Archivist Roger Hasdell 01604 248582

Michael Butler (Chairman), Catriona Butler, Tony Clarke, Paul Lynam, Alex Madisons, Bernard Morton, Sandie Morton and John Pomfret


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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Endeavour - IWA Northampton Branch Newsletter Feb 2017  

Articles this issue include, John Faulkner's legacy, new bridges over the River Nene, Daventry Canal update, canal fiction writer Steve Mile...

Endeavour - IWA Northampton Branch Newsletter Feb 2017  

Articles this issue include, John Faulkner's legacy, new bridges over the River Nene, Daventry Canal update, canal fiction writer Steve Mile...