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Chiltern Grapevine

Arla Milk Plant and Marsworth Developments get the nod

Issue 27

Plans to build the world’s largest milk processing plant alongside the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal near Aston Clinton have been approved by Aylesbury Vale District Council. It was thought that the government might call in the application but this did not happen. So Arla Foods has the go ahead and will proceed to detailed planning. Outline planning permission was also approved for the ancillary and supporting business park uses on the site. The proposals were not passed in their original format however, as conditions were put in place by the Council to mitigate the site’s effect on the area, including traffic and light pollution generated. It also seems that additional canalside landscaping has been included but this will hardly hide such a large complex from the waterway. It is understood that discussions have taken place between Arla and British Waterways with a view to securing improvements to the waterway frontage and upgrades to the towpath. If the latter is to be useful, it should extend the full length of the Arm from Aylesbury to Marsworth. Meanwhile in Marsworth itself, British Waterways own plans for redevelopment of the yard at Marsworth Junction look set to go ahead. The development has been scaled down so that there are fewer houses and the elevations have been lowered. Importantly, from a boating perspective, it has been agreed to retain the existing potable water connection and waste disposal, upgrade the Elsan facility and provide a new pump-out in the same location as the existing facilities. A start on the actual development will be dependent on market conditions.

Chiltern Branch Newsletter Autumn 2011

Chairman's Ramblings It may not have been a great summer and the weather didn’t favour our final event of the summer, the Lock Ransom at Marsworth. This was held over the weekend of August 6th & 7th at Marsworth bottom lock where John Brice had organised a good turnout of volunteers to man the collecting buckets. However, a succession of heavy showers on both days meant that visitor numbers were down, especially on the towpath. Yet we still raised well over £400 to go towards waterway causes. A really good result in the circumstances. But it’s been a glorious autumn. I hope you’ve been able to get out and about to enjoy the Indian summer. Hilary and I took every opportunity possible to go exploring and we were delighted to be able to join Colin Bird’s Weekend Away at the end of September. This was a magnificent trip packed with interest as you’ll gather from Barbara Hodkingson’s article in this issue. While it hasn’t been a hot summer, it has been a relatively dry one and this has been of great benefit to the teams working on the Wendover Arm restoration. A dry canal bed makes all the difference, enabling work to proceed at a much faster rate than on those days when your wellies stick in the mud. Recent workparties have

made great progress and a significant length of the current stage has been completed. We have had a good start to the new season of evening meetings. In September Chris Coburn outlined his magnificent campaigning cruises aboard the NB Progress. This was an eye-opener for me. I did not realise how much we all owe to Chris for his work in protecting canals for restoration. Brian Coggin came all the way from the west of Ireland to join us in October with a very distinctive presentation about the Irish Canals, past and present. I am relieved to find that switching our meetings to Wednesday evenings appears to be acceptable. In fact attendances are up over the same period last year and the noise levels are down. One impact of this increasing popularity of our meetings is that we could do with some more help on the night. We need a couple of volunteers to come early to assist with setting out the room and taking registrations. If you can spare an extra 30 minutes once a month please get in touch with any committee member. Full contact details on the back cover.

Peter Winter

Sign up for IWA Chiltern e-News Have you looked at the new Chiltern Branch website? It contains all the latest information and includes facilities sign up for Chiltern e-News, so that you can receive an enhanced version of Grapevine by email as well as regular bulletins about what’s going on. This means that you get a better service while reducing costs. That has to be good, so sign up at: Page 2


News Chiltern Branch Volunteers: The Branch’s successful participation in last summer’s events was aided by the help provided by a number of volunteers. We are also in need of help during the autumn and winter months. If you have some spare time time, volunteers are needed to help in various areas such as publicity, newsletter production and meeting arrangements. Please contact any committee member if you can help. New Members: Chiltern Branch is pleased to welcome the following new members: Ms S Bowers and Family; Mr and Mrs P Chadwick; Mr C Gostick; Miss J Moore and Mr T Arnold; Mr and Mrs M Thompson; Mr and Mrs M Zugg; Mr and Mrs C Hammond; Mr J Hicks; Mr T Matterson; Mr and Mrs E Dessington; Mr K George; Mr and Mrs S Rodger; Mr and Mrs R Wonnacott; Mr and Mrs C Beetlestone; Mr and Mrs G Johncock; Mr and Mrs C Plumb; Mrs Z Talbot – Watt and Mr A Watt; Mr and Mrs R Wightman London Region Newsletters: The Region Committee expressed disappointment at the recommendation by Finance Committee to reduce support for newsletters from four issues to three issues per year. Region AGM: Future Region AGMs are to be held alongside a branch AGM starting with Lee & Stort in 2012. Planning Applications See the front page for the latest news on the Arla milk plant and Marsworth developments. AUT UMN 20 1 1 IS SUE

Volunteers wanted for Waterways Chaplaincy Jenny Dibsdall leads a chaplaincy network in our area. She is seeking Volunteer Chaplains and is also wants to enlist others who can act as ‘eyes and ears’ to identify people who might be in need of help on the canals. Contact at or call 07717 813682. British Waterways Canal & River Trust is the name selected for the charity that is planned to replace British Waterways in England & Wales in April 2012. Final negotiations are underway to determine the contract between the Trust and DEFRA. It has been confirmed that the Trust will not be a membership organisation in the first instance. Major works for 2011/12 in the SE Area include 17 gates to be replaced at 10 locks, gate repairs at a further 18 locks, a new auxiliary slip weir at Weston Turville reservoir, work on Tringford Pumping Station, dredging on the Aylesbury Arm and refurbishment and redecking of the Winkwell swing bridge. Water shortages: the dry summer led to a number of closures across the network, but water supply for the southern Grand Union remained above critical levels. However, BW emphasises that there is a continuing need to conserve water in case the winter rainfalls are low and that boats should always double up in wide locks whenever possible.

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From the Region Chairman As your newly elected Region Chairman, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself to you through your branch magazine. My love affair with boating began at the age of 11 when my uncle taught me to sail on the Norfolk Boards. My wife and I have owned a boat on the canals for nearly thirty years, mostly moored in the London area and we have won the best decorated boat at Canalway Cavalcade and been runner up several times. I am a previous Chairperson of Chelmsford Branch and have been on its committee since the mid 80s. Between 2007 and 2010 I was an elected trustee and already represent London on IWA’s Navigation Committee and Promotions Committee. Next year is going to be a challenging one for the IWA in general and London Region in particular. To ensure we have the maximum representation on the new Waterways Charity we need to widen the membership of the Association so that others recognise us as being a broad “church” representing not only boating and heritage interests but also all other users such as walkers and casual visitors. We also need to broaden the age profile of the Association. One way that branches can help is to work with local British Waterways volunteer coordinators to arrange working parties on their behalf. If you can help in organising working parties please talk to one of your committee members I am certain they would be pleased to hear from you. Whilst on the theme of working parties we can all help in the preparations for the Page 4

Olympics. In the period leading up to the games we will join with others to make the canals and rivers round London look their best ready for the visitors to the event. With no National Festival, the 2012 Cavalcade, takes on special importance and we need to make it particularly memorable so that IWA's message reaches the widest possible audience. The money on offer from government for the Canal and River Trust is well below that needed for a sustainable future. Whilst there might be some “wriggle room” on the offer and the removal of the dead hand of the Treasury from BW will allow the Trust to use its assets more profitably, the threat to the waterways caused by the economic situation is real and on-going. We have come a long way over the last few years and one of our long term aims, establishing a National Waterways Conservancy, is within our grasp. Ensuring that the embryonic Canal and River Trust is not starved of funds needs firm leadership and I believe the only organisation that can give that leadership on a national level is the Inland Waterway Association. At a local level you can help by supporting your branch lobby for the future of your local waterways. Finally I wish to thank Roger Squires for all the work he has done in looking after the Region after James Kennerley had to resign due to ill health. He will be a very hard act to follow. I hope to write a few words for future editions of Grapevine.

Paul Strudwick C H IL T E RN G RAP E V IN E

Beehive in Irish Waters Jenny & John Brice go trailboating in the Emerald Isle The Wilderness Boat Owners Club’s conThe other Wilderness boats arrived to join nection with Ireland came about due to one us from their various travels. We also had of its members working there and he obvi- another trail boat join us belonging to John ously spent some of his holidays discover- Last, a 32 foot Sea Otter; he had launched ing their waterways. He became firm his boat earlier and had invaluable advice friends with Pat O’Connor a member of on all the rivers and canals he had already the Royal Canal Amenity Group (RCAG), travelled. During the week we spent cruisthe group involved in restoration of the ing together, I discovered that he worked Royal Canal. In 1999 they invited the Wil- on restoration in Suffolk and knew Pete derness Boat Owners Club (WBOC) to Bowers, one of the Wendover restoration join the celebrations when the restoration team. had reached Abbeyshrule. This trip was so successful that the WBOC said they would return and celebrate the full opening of the canal when it reached the Shannon at Cloondara. This was completed by October 2010, but as it was late in the season only one boat attended. It was therefore arranged for six boats to join the Amenity Group’s Rally in August 2011. We arrived at Ballynacargy, 65 miles west of Dublin on the Royal Wilderness Boats in full dress at Cloondra Canal on a Wednesday afternoon in August ready to launch when the rain Our hosts, the RCAG organised numerous started - and it seemed to rain intermit- trips by coach to many local tourist attractently for the whole of our month’s visit. tions, Belvedere House, the Whiskey DisWe had been warned about SOFT weather, tillery, The Trackway at Corlea Bog, Boora Bog, Clonmacnoise historic site and but this was more like torrential showers. On collecting the slipway key from the the Arigna Mining centre. These visits local garage, it transpired that Tom expanded our knowledge of the surroundShanley the owner had worked at AEC in ing country, something you do not norSouthall where John completed his appren- mally get when boating. ticeship. When John turned up later they We also had many superb meals. My faspent the next hour reminiscing. Tom to- vourite was the Thursday evening on the tally ignored the queue waiting to pay for RCAG barge. After the meal the music their petrol, and in true Irish fashion no commenced and egged on by the locals ALL the members of our Wilderness party one was bothered! AUT UMN 20 1 1 IS SUE

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Beehive in Irish Waters (continued) were up dancing, some more willingly than others. Pat said it was the best night ever in the barge. We finished the Rally with the RCAG awards dinner on the Saturday evening. On the Sunday four Wilderness Boats – Matchbox, Wilderness Wanderer, Olive and Beehive continued their exploration of the Irish rivers and Loughs. Each boat had a different return date, so were retrieving at various locations along the way. The

locks accessed via a prepaid credit card; some of these were very deep and we had to extend our mooring lines. Unfortunately there was no towpath, so our bikes were of no use. We were now down to two boats, Wilderness Wanderer and Beehive who ventured north onto the Upper Erne waterway, a large lough, quite scary, more like a sea. We managed the trip to Enniskillen in one long day, in torrential rain for some hours. We stayed for a few days exploring Enniskillen, an interesting town surrounded by rivers making it an inland island. It is a busy trading centre with shoppers coming over the border from the South to take advantage of the cheaper Pound. From there we did a short trip on the Lower Erne, but the weather was stormy with the

The Rough ... On Lough Erne

weather was calm so we all headed up the Shannon towards Carrick-on-Shannon a town built on tourism from hire boats, then continued and stopped at Lough Key set in the most idyllic landscape. While moored at Lough Key we were approached by a couple from an adjacent ...and the Smooth boat (a rather large and expensive Broom) A peaceful mooring on Lough Key recognising John they said ‘Are you the guy that bought us a drink at the IWA meeting we attended in Buckinghamshire wind and waves making our Wilderness several years ago?’ Yes he was, they had boats bounce around.- not pleasant. visited the UK and attended the talk As we still had a week left of our holiday we retrieved Beehive, headed south and “Green and Silver” in Amersham. Three boats continued north up the Shan- relaunched on the Barrow Navigation. non and Erne waterway. This had electric Amazingly this river was very low through Page 6


Approaching Graignamanagh on the River Barrow

lack of rain, but this was soon rectified because the rain had followed us from the North. The Barrow goes through beautiful landscape but can flow fast, and you need a navigation chart as there are many shallows and rocks hiding inches below the surface. Throughout our stay we were helped through many locks by Waterways Ireland staff, many of whom remembered the previous visit in 1999. The slipways were superb and really well used by the locals. These made Ireland a trailboat paradise.

Keith Hadden Memorial On Saturday 22nd October a gathering of Wilderness Boats from far and wide cruised to Godstow Lock on the Thames for a dedication ceremony to pay their respects and install a bench for the memory of Keith Hadden. Boats were decorated in full bunting for the occasion; it was a celebration of his life. On the lock side 50 people witnessed the bench being unveiled by Wilderness Chairman John Parker and Pat Hadden. Toasts were made to Keith in Champagne or pints of Bitter. The bench was organised by the Wilderness Boat Owners Club in recognition of Keith’s contribution as its Chairman of many years. Sarah the lock keeper at Godstow liaised with the Environment Agency to ensure the bench could take pride of place by the lock. Pat and Keith had spent most autumns on this part of the Thames over the last 14 years, and were well known for their winter boating. Thames in flood! they just ran for shelter AUT UMN 20 1 1 IS SUE

onto the Oxford Canal and Christmas was usually spent at The Talbot at Eynesham. After the dedication, about 30 boaters attended a meal at the nearby Trout Inn. Some of the local lock keepers also made time to attend. Next time you are in this area make time to sit awhile on his bench at Godstow Lock and remember Keith. John Brice Page 7

Another Wonderful Weekend Away Barbara Hodgkinson reports on the recent trip to the Thames, Gloucester Canals and Didcot It doesn’t seem a year ago that we were on nine locks before arriving at Wallingford our last trip; time does come round quick! where Ray was waiting to drive us to the First thing, the weather showed promise Holiday Inn at Gloucester. By then we with an early morning mist, heralding a were running late, but had just enough great September day. Ray our coach driver time for a quick wash and brush up before made the rounds of Chesham, Amersham dinner, with food and wine and lots to talk and High Wycombe and we were soon on about after a very busy day. our way to Henley for our first joy of the Luckily on Saturday, the weather was day, the River and Rowing Museum. We lovely as we were going to be outside for were greeted by a Friend of the Museum, much of the day, with our host Dick Skeet who informed us about the layout, then we of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire had couple of hours to look around. It’s great fun to see the fashions of the day in the old photos! There were displays about the wildlife, boats and traditional boat races held on the Thames to mention just a few. We saw ancient dug-out canoes that had been, er, dug out of the silt and interesting boats such as an ornately carved Canadian canoe and an elegant camping skiff. We enjoyed the models of the “Wind in the Willows” story as much as the children! At midday, we boarded the “Mary Stuart” for a 5½ hour trip up the Aboard the ‘Mary Stewart’ on the Thames Thames to Wallingford. Along the way we saw large houses with fresh mown Canal Trust. Our first stop was at Yarkhill, striped lawns and trim borders, not to men- 8 miles from Hereford, where a stretch of tion the boats moored at the bottom of restored but unfilled canal had recently them. Our captain pointed out homes of been mown and strimmed. Some trees had the rich and famous - Vince Hill, Paul been felled and the tricky bit of removing Daniels and Uri Geller to name a few. We the stumps was in progress. admired the wildlife and sat up rubbing our Next stop was Aylestone Park, a recently eyes at some strange sheep – no, they were created park on the outskirts of Hereford, of llamas! A fine barbeque buffet lunch where a small stretch of restored canal runs was served followed by delicious deserts along its edge complete with a slipway. and coffee. Altogether we passed through This enabled the first Aylestone Boat FesPage 8


tival to be organised last May attracting three “Wilderness” boats to the waters. A major problem for the restoration here was polluted canal silt caused by discharge from an old factory. This was solved by stabilising it in concrete blocks that provided the foundations for the driveways and car park. Ray, incidentally had the honour of parking the first coach here!

At Oxenhall Lock We made for a bit of life at the Rose Garden Pub as 30 of us descended for lunch. Then we were off to Oxenhall to inspect the aqueduct, where the canal passes over a stream. Work here involved the reconstruction of the bridge arch. A walk further on revealed a picturesque re-watered part of canal leading to a lock-keepers cottage and lock. The residents of the renovated cottage have a quiet, peaceful place to live. Our final visit took us to the restored canal AUT UMN 20 1 1 IS SUE

basin at Vineyard Hill on the west bank of the Severn in Gloucester. An old hospital had been demolished and new housing built above the basin as part of the whole project. Two old lock cottages had been demolished and the Wharf House, a smart restaurant and B&B built in its place, run by the Canal Trust. Finances ran only to building the external shell of this building, and volunteers completed all the internals using bits salvaged from the hospital when possible. The old parquet floors were very nice! This was a posh place with overstyled crockery. I had to laugh – we turned the plates over to see where they were made – and admired the teapots looking like genies lamps. We tucked into the generous helping of cakes, putting leftovers in bags. So much work had been done to make the place look well loved. Now it was time to get back to the hotel for the evening meal, more food, wine and chat. Our final day started at Gloucester Docks, which have been gentrified with the old buildings converted into apartments and suchlike. One large building housed the Gloucester Waterways Museum, but sadly we did not have time to visit. Instead, we boarded the” Queen Boadicea II” for a two hour trip down the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. Our captain was a bit of a wag, entertaining us with an excellent commentary on the history of how the docks had been used for imports of grain and timber for transport up the Severn to the industrial Midlands. The Severn was so twisty-turny that this wide canal was constructed to make transport easier from Sharpness. The weather turned wet, but we sheltered under the canopy on deck, a few rugs handed out if you felt chilly and it was good to have a Page 9

Weekend Away (continued) coffee and cake to warm up! On the return trip, the captain told us about the boat, which first plied up and down the Thames, then at other places before her moment of glory as one of the little boats that came to the aid of our troops at Dunkirk. Our final destination and lunch stop was the Didcot Railway Museum. Most of us got on the steam railcar running just half a mile to take us down to the end, making the day a bit of fun, then walked back through the sheds, containing engines and carriages being worked on, or the resplendent restored engines. You could climb up and play “engine driver” in some. They also had an air raid shelter telling you what it was like in the war during a raid. Enid and Ron Pittaway came in, so we had a sing-song of “Run Rabbit Run”! There was also a good little museum, and we found that this place had been started back in the early 60s by three 16 year old schoolboys.

Steam Railcar at Didcot

Photo: John Ellis

Then back home, going through Wallingford by road this time. What a wonderful three days we had! Thanks to Ray our driver, and to Colin who organised the trip. Now I look forward to seeing photos at one of our meetings!

Meeting Venue Evening meetings of the Chiltern Branch are now held on Wednesdays commencing at 8.00pm at the Amersham & Chiltern Rugby Club, Ash Grove, Weedon Lane, Amersham, Bucks, HP6 5QU. Tel 01494 725161. When arriving at the club, it is best to use the second entrance on the right after you have passed the club house. Directions are: From the north: · Follow A416 through Chesham, past 2 garages opposite each other, over a small roundabout and up the hill towards Amersham. · At next roundabout (1½ miles) turn right at into Copperkins Lane. · Take 2nd left (½ mile) into Weedon Lane. Take first right (¼ mile) into Ash Grove. The club is at the end of this road (100yds). Page 10

From the south:

· Take A416 from Amersham to Chesham and over roundabout (Boot and Slipper pub on corner). · Turn left at the next small roundabout (¼ mile) into Copperkins Lane. · Take 2nd left (½ mile) into Weedon Lane. Take first right (¼ mile) into Ash Grove. The club is at the end of this road (100yds).


Diary 23rd November 2011 at 8.00pm

The Grand Canal of China Liam D’Arcy-Brown One of the longest, if not the longest, of man made waterways, the Grand Canal of China has a fascinating history and geography. Liam will give us a presentation on this most interesting of waterways, which for centuries, was an artery of commerce. He is well qualified for the task having graduated from Oxford University with a degree in mandarin and ancient Chinese languages. He has travelled widely and written extensively about China. Indeed, he has a couple of books to his credit.

much travelled, and much loved, as a result of its annual peregrinations around the coastline of Britain. In the course of these it has carried many a happy traveller on excursions ranging from “doon the watter” in Scotland to Westminster to Margate in the south. Roddy was, for 17 years, Secretary of the Home Counties Branch of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Trust and is a Director of Paddle Steamer Kingswear Trust (Trading) Limited. So what he doesn’t know about these two vessels, their history and adventures, is probably not worth knowing. 22nd February 2012 at 8.00pm

14th December 2011 at 7.00pm

Haunted Canals

Chiltern Branch Christmas Party

Allan Scott-Davies Allan is a past owner of NB 'The Great Western' which he used as home and office whilst working for BW. He came across a number of ghost stories – and indeed had a couple of spooky visits at Lapworth and through Wast Hills Tunnel. It is his interest in ghosts and haunting that has led to many published books and which resulted in the History Press asking him to write two waterway based books, 'Shadows on the Waterways' and the latest 'Death on the Waterways'. Allan has also been involved with the restoration of the Moira end of the Ashby Canal, the Droitwich Canal and restoration projects along 100 miles of canal.

Our usual Christmastide event at which convivial company will be enhanced with mulled wine, excellent victuals, and a game or two. See enclosed leaflet for details and reservations. 7.00 pm start. 25th January 2012 at 8.00pm

A Tale of Two Steamers Roddy McKee We went ‘blue water’ in 2010, with a talk on the ‘Mary Rose’. We return to the salty stuff with Roddy McKee’s presentation on two steamers, the ‘Waverley’ and the ‘Kingswear Castle’, the last two operating paddle steamers in the UK. The ‘Waverley’ has become

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The Backdoor The IWA is a registered charity (No. 212342) whose work is supported by member's subscriptions. The IWA campaigns for development of Britain's waterways for use by all. The IWA may not agree with the opinions expressed in this Newsletter but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated, otherwise the IWA accepts no liability for any matter in this Newsletter. Advertising Donation Rates Single Three Issue Issues · Full Page A5 £40 £100 · Half Page A5 £25 £65 · 1/4 Page A5 £15 £40 Members small ads £1 for12 words. Extra words 10p. Send payment with the advertisement to the Editor.

This is your Branch and Grapevine is your newsletter. We like to hear your views about what’s happening on the waterways and on what the Branch is doing. We also welcome any suggestions for new activities. We’d particularly like to hear more stories from you about your boating e x p e r i e n c e s . W h a t e v e r yo u r contributions are in terms of articles, letters, photographs etc. please send them to: Peter Winter Grove Cottage, Church Road Penn, High Wycombe HP10 8NX Tel: 01494 819065; Mob: 07722 184117 Email:

Your Committee Chairman & Newsletter Editor Peter Winter

01494 819065 07722 184117

Secretary Liz Norris

01438 238187

Treasurer Ron Probert

01753 888527

Programme Secretary Colin Bird

01932 248178

Fundraising & Waterway Events John Brice

01494 873298 07740 733241

Planning Officer & Membership Secretary Carolyn Leonard

01628 526512

IWA representative to WAT Jenny Brice (non-committee post)

01494 873298 Grapevine is printed by Colour Image Printers, Loudwater, High Wycombe. Tel 01494 529999

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

IWA Chiltern Branch Grapevine Newsletter Autumn 2011  

IWA Chiltern Branch Grapevine Newsletter Autumn 2011

IWA Chiltern Branch Grapevine Newsletter Autumn 2011  

IWA Chiltern Branch Grapevine Newsletter Autumn 2011