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Keels and cuckoos August 2017

CONTENTS  The elsecar branch  Visitors to our area  Dawn rose to norwood tunnel  Branch agm report  Forthcoming Events

KEELS AND CUCKOOS THE INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Inland Waterways Association nor the South Yorkshire and Dukeries Branch Committee

KEELS AND CUCKOOS CHAIRMAN’S CONTEMPLATIONS Looking to the future, this edition of Waiting outside West Stockwith Lock 1965 Keels and Cuckoos has acquired a slight change in style, as it seemed unfair to Malcolm to continue with a format which he had made his own. The plan is to focus on the navigable, or once navigable, waterways within the branch area. These are, the Chesterfield Canal; the Dearne and Dove Canal; including both the Elsecar and Worsborough Branches; the River Idle; the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation together with the River Trent, west bank downstream from Cromwell Lock. Where news at a national level is urgent, this will also be included if publication dates permit, but the IWA house magazine, Waterways, is the appropriate medium for national news. Obviously there is a danger that Keels and Cuckoos will become a slim little thing if there are no contributions from you. So, please, if you have memories from half a century ago, or just last week, do let the editor know. In recent years the committee has not organized social events as the level of support from you was woeful. At the AGM there was criticism of this year’s location, but last year’s AGM on Victoria Quays was less well supported.

The Committee is optimistic that given a suitable subject. Members will attend. With that in mind we have booked a presentation by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution at The Red Lion Hotel, Todwick on October 10th 2017 at 7.00 for 7.30. Admission is free and open to all, but a collection for the R.N.L.I. will be taken . If you have thoughts or ideas for subjects and venues that you could support, please do let me know 01777 704224 or There is still much for IWA to do. Government policy (which ever party is in office) needs to be constantly monitored. E A waterways need to be transferred to C&RT and of course that body itself will be more efficient if it can continue to draw upon the knowledge and experience of the IWA.

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KEELS AND CUCKOOS ANTIDOTE TO BAD NEWS If you read the regular press or watch the news on mainstream, television, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world was about to end. Even waterway magazines carry articles about the semi-dereliction of some E A navigations and the shortage of water due to the dry spring. The anti-dote for this depressing news can be found locally. The Chesterfield Canal has been awarded two “green flags” by the charity Keep Britain Tidy. One is for the length in Chesterfield. The second is the length from Welham to West Stockwith. Helen and I are particularly pleased with this, as the canal is some 200 yards from our home in Clarborough and the towpath is one of our regular walks. Locals compete to collect the small amount of (usually wind-blown) litter so that helps with the environment.

route lifts the blight that has halted restoration on the western Chesterfield for some four years. However the implications for the Dearne and Dove, not to mention the homes and businesses on the chosen route are dire. One wonders sometimes, if HS2 has become an unstoppable juggernaut, a bit like the story of the Kings New Clothes, where no one wants to be identified as being unable to see the long-term benefits. It has long been a conversation topic and I have yet to meet any one who believes that it will actually happen, that the Nation can afford it or who anticipates using it. But then I know very few people anxious to get to London twenty minutes faster than they can now!

IWA Protest Cruise Worksop 1962

The Canal and River Trust staff, volunteers and contractors must be given credit for the way that this length is managed with regard to the navigation first and attention to the flora and fauna a close second. Staying with the Chesterfield Canal, the recent announcement of the Government’s preferred choice of route for the proposed HS2 is a mixed blessing. The superb news is that the eastern

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KEELS AND CUCKOOS THE ELSECAR BRANCH OF THE DEARNE AND DOVE This may seem an odd topic in the great scheme of our Inland Waterways but its inclusion in this edition of Keels and Cuckoos, needs no apology. The branch is ( I understand) in the ownership of Barnsley Metropolitan Council and so does, I feel, justify a separate identity. Further the branch remains largely intact and shows some indication of attention from its owner. The tow-path is easily accessed and makes an interesting ninetyminute ramble each way, with much remaining to be seen along the route. Elsecar itself is easy to find and parking a car presents few problems. There is a good pub close to the canal basin, so sustenance at the start or conclusion of a tow-path walk is available. Elsecar is a small settlement of some two thousand five hundred souls and seems to owe its success to coal and iron production. Earl Fitzwilliam played a prominent role in developing these industries and was instrumental in ensuring that Elsecar was connected to the National waterways network at the very end of the eighteenth century. The waterway prospered, but became threatened by its own success. Such was the quantity of coal removed from this part of Yorkshire that subsidence became an increasing problem. Banks had to be raised as the original levels slumped and by the time that the railways arrived they provided an obvious and cheaper alternative form of transport. The branch is just over two miles in length (2 miles 1.5 furlongs in my 1952 edition of Edward’s). It was constructed with six

locks and the chambers should accommodate craft up to 58’ in length and up to 14’10” in beam. Looking at the channel today, either much of it has been lost or the skippers were very skilled in passing each other. The eastern end of the branch and indeed the junction with the main line look to be lost “for ever” under new roads and recent developments, but that is no reason to drop this quite charming branch from our campaign. Elsecar has re-modeled itself to some extent and is now a thriving “Heritage Center”. Running alongside the canal is the later railway, now preserved as “The Coal Line” it is, or soon will be, a two-mile length of track boasting steam-hauled trains for visitors. It is worth recalling that one of the worst mining accidents in the UK happened close to Elsecar when 361 men and boys were killed in a single underground explosion, with, on the next day 27 of the would -be rescuers killed in a second explosion. For those of you able to find the time, this tow-path will indicate just how much of our canal system looked in the early sixties. For those of you with long-standing memberships the walk will bring back many memories from your youth. Given ever increasing road traffic and the escalating cost of overseas holidays. There must be potential in developing local tourist attractions at minimal cost. A revitalized Elsecar branch would offer one-way boat trips with the steam railway providing a return ride.

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ABOVE Elsecar basin early evening BELOW Top Gates on the Top Lock

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ABOVE Culvert but with clearance for “air draft” if restored to navigation. BELOW This beautifully built basin just awaits the return of boats

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ABOVE This pond is still in water BELOW Over bridge remains intact

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VISITORS FROM “FOREIGN PARTS” The Cotswold Canals Cruising Club is unusual in that it has neither a club mooring nor a marina base, but consists of likeminded boaters, mainly from the southwest who travel together to enjoy each other’s company and the inland waterways. This year one of the club’s ambitions was to cruise the available length of the Chesterfield Canal. It was Thursday July 6th, that Helen and I represented the branch at an event hosted by the Chesterfield Canal Trust to recognize the fact that the entire fleet had arrived at the current head of navigation, the eastern portal of Norwood Tunnel. A gettogether over a buffet meal in the near-by Station Hotel allowed Robin Stonebridge, chairman of the CCT to say a few words of welcome. Martin Turner, a former IWA branch chairman and now commodore of the CCCC responded with some very favourable remarks about the recently restored length from Shireoaks to Kiveton Park. It was also pleasing to hear him confirm that the River Trent had failed to live up to its reputation of being a “monster” and had, in fact, provided a benign cruising route as far as West Stockwith lock, the beginning (or end) of the Chesterfield Canal. He explained that the flotilla was planning a lazy cruise back to West Stockwith but with no firm long-term destination in mind. Some members had spoken of a run up to Sheffield’s Victoria Quays, whilst others favoured the voyage over Trent falls

and on to Ripon. Which ever destination was finally decided this intrepid band deserves fair weather and a following wind to speed it on its way. The individual boaters that we spoke with were unanimous in their enthusiasm for our local narrow canal,. It was obvious that they had been expecting “pit heaps, flat caps and ferrets” but had been delighted with the early rolling scenery but more so the tranquil and secluded Ryton valley through which they had climbed steadily to the summit. If you have not experienced this restored waterway then to correct that oversight, your alternatives are to park, or leave the train, in Shireoaks, and walk up the gently rising tow path to Kiveton Park. Here it is possible to get the train (or a bus) back to Shireoaks. Alternatively you can cruise with the CCT in the Hugh Henshall which, from time’ to time runs all the way to the summit and back. Details of dates and prices will be found on

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The summit pound, up stream of Dog Kennel Bridge, provides over-night moorings

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FRIENDS OF DAWN ROSE Those of you who were at the recent branch AGM or who are also members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust will be well aware of just what Dawn Rose is. For many however, a brief explanation would be appropriate. Dawn Rose is in almost every way a perfect example of the canal’s former working boats. Dawn Rose was made possible because in the nineteen sixties a couple of local people, including Richard Allsopp of Worksop took photographs and measurements of the one last remaining Cuckoo, partially sunk and still containing its cargo of coal at a wharf in Worksop. Sadly this relic was lost in the nineteen seventies when the channel through Worksop was dredged and the hulk disintegrated. From those records, sufficient information existed and given the leadership of Worksop-born David Bownes, who spent his youth amongst the retired boatmen in Worksop and who, as a retired wood and metal worker had the skills to lead the team Dawn Rose was built from scratch with the use of only hand-tools. Although an integral part of the Chesterfield Canal Trust, Dawn Rose stands, from a financial point of view, on its own feet (keel?) Friends of Dawn Rose is an independent group of supporters which fundraise to cover the boat’s operating cost and also act as crew whenever the boat is moved. Friends receive a regular newsletter featuring articles about this unique craft.

You can join the Friends by contacting:Michael Edwards, F.O.D.R. Chesterfield Canal Trust, Hollingwood Hub, Hollingwood, Chesterfield, S43 2PF. Dawn Rose is shown on our front cover. The photograph is taken from the parapet of the eastern end of Norwood Tunnel. This is a sight not possible since 1908 when Norwood Tunnel became impassable. Up to that time, cuckoos would have been regular visitors to the summit, and on through the tunnel with coal for Kilamarsh and points west. From 1908 there was no through route, so although some coal and other goods may have been brought to Kiveton Park, those boats would have turned at “The Cascade” in order to return through Shireoaks and on to Worksop. Traffic from Shireoakes down to Worksop and beyond continued into the war years. The final traffic being the odd boat running between West Stockwith, the brickyards in Walkeringham and any other wharf where there was sufficient depth to allow loading or offloading. Dawn Rose has been fitted with a mast rigging and sail Should volunteers with appropriate skills and experience come forward, it is possible that Dawn Rose could emulate her predecessors. A cuckoo could once again be seen under sail on River Trent, quietly drifting down stream to Owston Ferry, or up stream to Gainsborough and possibly beyond.

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FROM THE MANAGER’S DESK or WHO ON EARTH WOULD RUN A BOATYARD? “Excellent, have you been through Braunston Tunnel. It would have taken you about half-an-hour?” “Just a minute; darling he wants to know if we have been through a tunnel or something. Are you there? No it seems as if we haven’t”. It was mid Sunday morning, the wharf was quiet and the Grand Union was alive with both private and hire boat traffic. Our fleet had all departed by early Saturday evening and Sunday promised to be the usual run of diesel sales and pump-outs. Then the ‘phone rang.

“Thank you. Can you see a bridge in either direction?” “Yes. There’s one right above me” Does it have a number on it, on a round sort of disc?” “Yes”

“Wharf Boats. Good Morning”

What number is it?

“We are on South Wharf and we have broken down”

“It has a number six on it. Is that important?”

Sorry to hear that; where are you?” “On the back deck, there’s no signal in the cabin” “Ah! What I meant to ask is where is the boat?” “I have no idea”

“It could be, please wait there the engineer will be with you in fifteen minutes”. Close to lunch-time the engineer returned. “Boss, you know the fuel on/off switch by the start key? Do you think we could make the letters even bigger!” Dredging the Grand Union, Blisworth

Pause, knowing that the boat had set off towards the north. “Have you been through Buckby Locks?” “Just a minute—Darling he wants to know if we have been through something called Buckby Locks; are you there? Yes we have”

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SITUATIONS VACANT Your branch committee is looking to recruit two further members, each for a specific task.

In recent years the branch has had almost no income as there have been few meetings and no one prepared to staff a sales table anyway. In the past, the branch received a “capitation allowance” based upon the number of IWA members in the branch. From this the branch committee would spend on the branch magazine and the mailing thereof to members.

SOCIAL SECRETARY. This is a position that would suit someone with an out -going personality and who is happy to make contact with fellow waterway enthu- Capitation Allowance has been replaced by a siasts. physical contribution form Head Office. ToThe branch needs to arrange three social day the cost of printing and mailing Keels and Cuckoos is covered by central funds. events, one each for Autumn, Winter and Spring. The job will involve visiting venues, contacting speakers and coordinating members who may have opportunities to “car share” to branch events. PLANNING OFFICER. This is a different requirement and needs someone with an eye to detail, who follows local news and is aware of the environment. At the moment Colin Crofts tries to cover our entire area, but lives to the north-east of Doncaster, so is not central to our patch. A resident in the west of the area, able to monitor the Chesterfield and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire area would be ideal. Please contact Jill Hardy if you would like an informal discussion and to meet some existing committee members before you make a decision

At the moment the branch has some residual capital, but this does need to be “topped-up” from time to time. One solution which you may find appealing is to book an IWA speaker to talk to any other group of which you are a member. For example you may be in Rotary, the W.I. the Historical Society, U3A or Probus. Whatever group you are a member of will have a speaker finder at his or her wits end trying to find a new subject to bring to a meeting. Britain’s Canals or The History of the Chesterfield Canal and its Restoration might be a couple of subjects that you could suggest. Fees are modest and all profit comes straight back to branch funds. Contact the branch chairman David Dawson 01777 704224 for more details.

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SHEFFIELD WATERFRONT FESTIVAL This major event will be held at Victoria Quays (Sheffield Canal Basin) On September 23rd 2017 The South Yorkshire and Dukeries branch, supported by members of West Riding Branch will represent the Inland Waterways Association at this Canal & River Trust sponsored event The committee will be present with a Gazebo and displays telling of the work of the IWA This is an excellent opportunity for you to meet, not only your local branch committee, but the very C&RT staff who are now working towards keeping our waterways alive. If you can spend just a few minutes on the branch stand, you will be made most welcome

R.N.L.I. EVENING The branch will be hosting an evening of talks and film clips presented by RNLI stalwart Tony Dale from Chesterfield. This will be on October 10th at 7.00 for 7.30 at The Red Lion Hotel, Sheffield Road Todwick, S26 1DJ This was the venue for the recent AGM and is popular as it is so easy to get to, being about one mile East of the intersection of the M1 and the A57. This will be an open evening so your friends are welcome. There is no charge, but a collection for the RNLI will be taken. If you want a meal before the meeting visit Or telephone the hotel directly on 01909 771654 Page 13

KEELS AND CUCKOOS TINSLEY LOCKS CLEAN-UP Twice each year, the branch holds a working party based upon the length incorporating the Tinsley flight. Some years we use the local working boat, other years, it’s a tow-path ramble. For many years Abbeydale Rotary Club has supported the branch members in this useful and visible work. Canal & River Trust provide litter pickers and plastic bags, so all you need is strong shoes, gloves and possibly some waterproof clothing! The job is planned for 10.00 on October 29th, lasts for two hours and traditionally the morning is rounded off with a pie and pea lunch in Tinsley Boat Club’s headquarters. PLEASE do telephone either Pat Davies or David Dawson (see inside back cover) before you set off to attend to confirm times, as these may change due to weather etc. The IWS’s FESTIVAL OF BOATS For those of you who visited The Erewash over the Bank Holiday will have enjoyed not only the spectacle of “wall to wall” boats, but some glorious summer sun. The campaign message behind this location is of course restoration of the Cromford Canal. Interest in the Cromford is growing, and the popularity of the trip boat “Birdswood” is bringing new people to this picturesque waterway. for cruise dates and prices. IWA’S STRENGTH One of IWA’s most important roles is often low-profile, but critical to the future of the waterways. That is working with Members of Parliament, from both houses, to promote respect and support for our waterways. June 28th saw such an event with over fifty people in attendance. HS2, moorings, and transfer of navigations to the C&RT were amongst the subjects discussed. LES ETHERIDGE - IWA CHAIRMAN At the same time as he announced his plans to step down as IWA chairman in the autumn, Les Etheridge looked forward to the future. His ambitions remain many and include; seeing the Restoration Hub established and beginning to deliver; to see progress with the transfer of the EA navigations; to mitigate the effects of HS2 on the waterways; to research how our waterways may be used over the next ten years. These and other ambitions will hopefully be priorities with his successor. The IWA officers and members owe a huge debt of gratitude to Les. Chairing any large organisation can be a thankless task, requiring fortitude, resilience and patience.

The AGM will be on September 30th at 11.30 in Aldercar High School Langley Mill NG16 4HL Page 14


MAKING YOUR BRANCH TICK Chairman David dawson 21 smeath lane Clarborough Retford Nottinghamshire DN22 9JU 01777 704224

Vice-chairman Colin crofts Staddlestones South Bramwith Doncaster DN7 5SY 01302 841619

Secretary Jill Hardy 17 Likekilns North Anston Sheffield S25 4FB

Treasurer Pat Davies 55 Rockcliff Road Rawmarsh Rotherham S62 6LX 01709 206856

Editor Helen Dawson 21 Smeath Lane Clarborough Retford Nottinghamshire DN22 9JU 01777 704224

Membership John Shaw 72 Norton Lees Crescent Sheffield S8 8SR 01142 582535 No e-mail address

Social Secretary

Joint Planning Officer



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“Invasive species” is the term used to describe any flora or fauna believed not to be indigenous to Britain. Over the years, we have come to accept Sycamore trees, Rhododendron bushes, Grey Squirrels, Canada Geese and the like, but recently far more aggressive animals and plants have arrived. Japanese Knotweed, Asian Hornet, American Mink, American Skunk-cabbage, Giant Hogweed and Killer Shrimp are some of today’s unpopular immigrants, to be found close to, or in our UK waterways. The main source of concern for IWA at the moment is Himalayan Balsam which flourishes on watersides throughout the UK and spreads rapidly, to the determent of native species. Fortunately it is easy to detect, growing to some two meters in height and bearing bright pink flowers. It is easy to pull up, as the root looks like a small “chestnut” with minimal white tendrils. The stems are hollow and snap easily. Once removed and crushed, it quickly decays. However once it has seed heads, pulling it up may risk spreading the seeds over a wider area, making the problem worse for next year. Members are asked to note, at this time of year, where the beds of Himalayan Balsam are and to re-visit late spring next year with a view to eradicating the whole bed. A simple hoe or rake is useful, scythes (if you know what you are doing and there are no children or animals in the vicinity) are good on large beds of the plant.. Please only attack weeds on, or accessible from, public footpaths or the tow-path. Do not access private land and only go where you feel safe, gloves and long sleeves are advisable as nettles and brambles are happy to be close neighbours of the Balsam. IWA has coined the strap line:_

Pull — Snap — Stomp The IWA website has more details, and illustrations of this weed. KEELS AND CUCKOOS THE INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Inland Waterways Association nor the South Yorkshire and Dukeries Branch Committee

Editor Helen Dawson 2 Smeath Lane Clarborough RETFORD Nottinghamshire DN22 9JU Phone:01777 704224 E-mail:

Keels and Cuckoos Issue 30  
Keels and Cuckoos Issue 30