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KNOBSTICKS Summer 2015 IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire

First regular Working Party at Burslem Port in February clears trees and vegetation at the junction with the Trent & Mersey Canal. Photo: Steve Wood

Editorial Well that’s quite enough of me asking you to part with some of your money. The rest of this issue often asks you to part with some of your equally valuable time: Pages 3-4 explain how you could help on the committee, as a member or officer. Page 5 lists a host of dates all through the Summer, when you can go along and help cut down Himalayan Balsam on the Caldon or Uttoxeter Canals.

At long last cars (and boats) can now display a brand new window sticker with the very old slogan “I Dig Canals”. Well actually the original slogan back in the 1970’s/1980’s was “We Dig Canals”, when “Dig that Man” and “Groovy” were part of teenage lingo, but this version of the slogan is just as good, and the mud-splash very realistic. Margaret and I already have 2 on each of our cars (and 2 on our narrow-boat), so I thought that I would make sure you all knew about them. Sorry for the poor quality of the picture above as I stole it from the IWA shop web-site, the print quality of the actual stickers is much better. If you would like one (or more) then simply go to the IWA online shop web-site and search for WRG (or WRGCS if you want to go straight to the sticker). They will cost you the princely sum of £1.50 each, but that is because they are one of the many ways in which IWA and WRG are raising money to replace their ageing van fleet. See page 10 for more details of this appeal. Page 2

Page 9 (top) explains how we are allocating a whole week for you to help repaint Hazlehurst Junction Bridge (and also mentions that this means that the June Uttoxeter work party date has had to be moved). Page 9 (bottom) has an appeal from Gillian for you to help in building, running and dismantling our stand at the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival. Pages 12 & 13 want you to reserve the dates for next season’s social programme, so at least this request can be done sitting down. Pages 14-15 encourage you to go along to a Burslem Port work party. Pages 16-17 encourage you to go along to a Cheshire Locks work party. Pages 18-19 encourage you to go along to a Congleton work party. Page 21 encourages you to go along to a Uttoxeter Canal work party. Page 24 (Back Cover) gives you ALL the Summer working party dates, and introduces the new Caldon/Uttoxeter organiser. Enough appealing, see you again in the Autumn. KNOBSTICKS

Chairman’s Report contractors over the winter to cut back offside and towpath vegetation. From a branch perspective the last quarter has again been busy with both our AGM and Annual Dinner. At the AGM, Committee members were elected / re-elected for the new year and at the subsequent Committee meeting, Branch officers were elected. Full details of all committee members can be seen on the inside back cover of this (and every) edition of Knobsticks.

Hello All, Well, winter is hopefully now a thing of the past and with that the canal winter stoppage programme. Already the good weather of recent weeks has seen a noticeable increase in boats along the ‘Cut’ as well as people out walking, cycling and generally enjoying the canal and associated towpaths. Recently I had the opportunity to cycle the length of the Macclesfield Canal (and back again) as part of the work we are doing in preparation for a major IWA project. Over the next 12 months we plan to replace / install new mooring rings along the Cheshire Ring as part of the celebration next year of the 40th anniversary of its re-opening. Cycling along the towpath was a very enjoyable experience as there is always so much to see and generally people one meets are always happy to chat (which makes a good excuse to have a break from cycling). It was good too, to see the Macclesfield Canal looking much improved following the work done by both volunteers and CRT Summer 2015

As I have commented before, you will note that we still have a number of committee vacancies and so once again, please let me know if you feel you could help out in any way, either simply as a committee member or indeed if you would be interested in any of the vacant Branch Officer roles. As you know, we are a busy branch; however in order to continue our busy programme we do need people prepared to take on committee membership roles to ensure we can maintain our programme. In this edition of Knobsticks. you can read a report (See Page 19) on our Annual Dinner at Middleport Pottery and what a great evening it was. I must start my remarks with regard to the Dinner by first of all thanking Barbara Wells our Social Secretary for organising such a successful and enjoyable evening. As many of you will know, Middleport Pottery re- opened during last year as a visitor attraction and what a great job they have done. For those of you who perhaps haven’t been along there yet, I would recommend a visit as there is much to see and a very nice coffee shop too. Following the meal, (as Barbara mentions in her report) Harry Arnold, in his role as an Page 3

Chairman’s Report IWA Vice President presented Peter and Karen from The Canal Cruising Company with their Richard Bird Medal. This was originally awarded in 2013 but, as they were not able to collect it previously, the Annual Dinner provided a good occasion to present them with their well deserved award for their contributions to the IWA and the Inland Waterways over many years. So, many congratulations to them.

thanks to the leaders of each of the work parties for their commitment and support as well as the excellent volunteers we have who attend the different work parties. You will also see, later in this magazine, details of the dates. If you would like to come along (even if just for an hour) then your support would be really beneficial as we do our bit to ensure that the waterways remain an asset that we and future generations can all enjoy.

As I mentioned above we are a very busy Branch and, whilst thanks go to the various members of the committee, there are also others who work tirelessly in the background in support of the Branch activities, helping out at various events and other occasions. So it was good that on this occasion the Committee wanted to recognise publicly the work of two such members, Anne Chetwyn and Pauline Savage. Both Anne and Pauline have provided great support and help over many years and Gillian and Alison on behalf of the Committee presented both ladies with a potted plant as a token of thanks for their invaluable work behind the scenes.

Finally, you will see from the Committee members list at the back of this magazine (See Page 23) that currently we do not have a Navigation Officer and so in addition to my role as Chairman, I am also looking after this role. Many of you will no doubt be out and about in your boats or walking along the towpaths in our branch area over the coming weeks. If you do notice something not quite right that affects the smooth navigation around the canals in our area then please do let me know, so that I can follow it up with the appropriate CRT individual. In this way we can hopefully then avoid more minor issues turning into major ones that result in unexpected stoppages It is great to read in Alan’s article (See Pages with the inevitable delays and frustration 6-8) that financially the evening was also that can cause. very successful, achieving our best financial result ever. All in all, a great evening, Well, it looks like spring is almost here, enjoyed by all, so thanks again to all involved even if at this moment, it seems to have in any way and to all those members who taken a step or two backwards with heavy supported such a good evening. rain and wind, so for those off boating, walking, canoeing, angling or cycling on and As you will know from the previous edition alongside our canals, have an enjoyable of Knobsticks., we now have a very active summer (and hopefully no need for the programme of work parties across the heating or a hammer! – see Alan’s article on Branch area, with regular monthly work Steel, Steam and Stars) . parties on the Uttoxeter / Caldon Canals, Burslem Port, Cheshire Locks and Best wishes and regards Congleton. You can read updates on the Bob various work parties later in this edition but Page 4


IWA/CUCT Himalayan Balsam Work Parties in Churnet Valley Location

Date, Time, and Leader


Bridge 70, Denstone, Uttoxeter Canal

Saturday 20th June 10am to 3pm Robert Frost

First of the Saturday Bridge 70 work parties. No parking available at site, so meet at 9.30am at Denstone Village Hall, College Rd, Denstone, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire ST14 5HR for a lift; or meet on site at Bridge 70 at 10am having made your own way on foot.

Bridge 70, Denstone, Uttoxeter Canal

Thursday 25th June 10am to 3pm Robert Frost

No parking available at site, so meet at 9.30am at Denstone Village Hall, College Rd, Denstone, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire ST14 5HR for a lift; or meet on site at Bridge 70 at 10am having made your own way on foot.


Monday 29th June 7pm to 9pm Robert Frost

EVENING WORK PARTY Meet on top of Froghall Tunnel to work upstream towards Cherry Eye Bridge. Can be followed by a drink in a nearby pub if participants wish, to be arranged informally on the evening.

Consall Station downstream to Flint Mill Lock.

Thursday 2nd July 10am to 3pm Alison Smedley

Meet in the station car park. Joint with Churnet Valley Railway volunteers. CRT aluminium boat requested.


Sunday 5th July 10am to 3pm Robert Frost

Meet at Cheddleton Top Lock to work towards the Boat Inn at Basford Bridge. CRT aluminium boat requested.

Bridge 70, Denstone, Uttoxeter Canal

Thursday 9th July 10am to 3pm Robert Frost

No parking available at site, so meet at 9.30am at Denstone Village Hall, College Rd, Denstone, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire ST14 5HR for a lift; or meet on site at Bridge 70 at 10am having made your own way on foot.

Denford to Cheddleton

Friday 10th July 7pm to 9pm Alison Smedley

EVENING WORK PARTY Meet at Holly bush to walk towards Cheddleton and return for a drink at the Holly Bush


Wednesday 22nd July FAMILY VOLUNTEERING DAY 10am to 3pm Advertised to public but specifically aimed at Alison Smedley families, during 1st week of school hols. Meet at Lime Kilns to walk upstream to Oakmeadowford Lock and work downstream back towards Consall. CRT aluminium boat requested.

Summer 2015

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Steel, Steam and Stars and a Record Breaking Dinner

Loco 4270 (a 2-8-0 Tank) at Carrog Every few years a group of enthusiasts, who are building a replica of a steam locomotive, have a fundraising Gala on the Llangollen Station Steam railway. These Gala’s, entitled ‘Steam Steel & Stars’ are multiple day events involving 8 or more steam engines, including a number of visiting locomotives from other railways. This year was the fourth of these Galas (SSS IV) run over two long weekends, 6th-8th and 13th-15th March. My wife Anne and I, having been to SSS II and SSS III resolved to go. Could we combine it with a canal cruise? Examination of the stoppages list showed a clear route and our personal commitments allowed a clear period from 1st March to 20th March except for a very important event on the 13th; Yes! The Branch Dinner. Page 6

A bit of thought and Anne came up with a plan. A couple of phone calls later and the solution was in place (More on this later). Having decided to go we de-winterised our boat ‘Almira’ on Friday 27th February and prepared her for the trip. A crucial task was to test our diesel heating boiler and yes, you’ve guessed, it coughed but refused to fire up. Having tried all the usual tricks to get it going, without success, I sort of ‘lost it’ and used the handle of the screwdriver I was holding, to deliver three sharp blows. It started up at once and gave no further trouble. On Sunday, 1st March we set off from our mooring in Market Drayton and headed for Adderley and Audlem locks en-route for the KNOBSTICKS

Steel, Steam and Stars and a Record Breaking Dinner Llangollen Canal. In spite of very high winds, and some wintry weather, we were progressing nicely until we got to Wrenbury on Tuesday 3rd March. Here we found that CRT were repairing the lift bridge.

Fortunately it was time for lunch anyway. Within two hours it was all fixed and CRT even operated the bridge for us! The following day we worked through Grindley Brook Staircase with no lock keeper on duty on the way to Ellesmere and a visit to one of our favourite pubs. ‘The Red Lion’; for a meal and a good ale. On Friday, having filled up with diesel for an eye -watering price at Chirk Marina, we enjoyed all the wonders of the Chirk aqueduct and tunnel, then Pontcysyllte before lunch on a scenic mooring at Sun Trevor (photo below),

followed by an early afternoon arrival at Llangollen. The beauty of being based on the boat during a SSS Gala is having overnight accommodation in Llangollen that is handy for the station, all the B&B’s etc being long since booked up. A bonus came when we went to pay for 2 nights mooring. At this time of year there is no charge! For the rest of Friday we took photos of the trains and visited the Loco-shed and workshop. The Llangollen Railway has recently been extended to Corwen. On the Saturday we travelled the full length to visit this new track for the first time then rode up and down taking in the various attractions at the other stations. Later on we caught the 8:00pm train from Llangollen (It left at 9:18pm – some things never change) for another full round trip in the dark.

Loco 34092 ‘Wells’ At Corwen More photographs on Sunday 8th March then we started back. Suddenly, having seen only 10 moving boats all week, they were coming out of the woodwork so that we crossed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in a convoy of 4 boats, then they all seemed to vanish! Pleasant days of cruising and another meal in Ellesmere followed, until a spot of drama on Summer 2015

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Steel, Steam and Stars and a Record Breaking Dinner Tuesday 10th March at Grindley Brook. The boat in front of us became trapped on the cill between the middle and bottom chambers with the bow rising as the water level was clearly dropping. Fortunately, I was able to quickly run water down through the top chamber to re-float him. Again, no lock keeper. A similar problem was evident at Hurleston Locks, which appear to leak from the pound above the second lock so that boats hit the top cill (It had happened to us on the way up). I therefore flushed water down in front of us to remedy this.

this. In fact, the failure was mine as I later discovered that the real total was £353; He’s not getting his £1 back though! I am sure that the various presentations made on the night are detailed elsewhere. On a personal note, however, Anne was surprised and grateful to be presented with a potted plant as a ‘thank you’ for all the hard work that she puts in behind the scenes, and at various events helping Gillian on the Branch Stall. This was given pride of place on our deck on the way home.

Having reached Hurleston the plan for attending the dinner went into action as we turned left to Barbridge then right for Middlewich. This was on Thursday 12th March, so to go back to Market Drayton, pack, go home, unpack, change and then go out again would have been a very full Friday. Instead, we cruised to Middlewich on Friday morning (in appalling weather) turned below Wardle Lock and re-ascended to moor at the end of the garden belonging to John and Gillian Watson (our Secretary). In the process we cruised the whole length of the Wardle Canal which along with the lock is within our branch area. Our cunning plan now enabled the use of Gillian and John’s shower to prepare, followed by a lift in their car to Middleport for the dinner. Putting on my Branch Treasurer’s hat, the Dinner was a spectacular success with record amounts raised both by the raffle and by the traditional after dinner auction. At the time, I jokingly told the auctioneer, our Chairman, Bob Luscombe, that he had failed because he had raised £1 short of £350. He then gave me the £1 to remedy Page 8

Having thoroughly enjoyed the dinner it was back to Middlewich where we stayed all day Saturday, shopping in the morning before lunch and a convivial afternoon with Gillian and John. All that remains to tell is of a pleasant and routine return from Middlewich to Market Drayton which we reached on Wednesday 18th March before dining in ‘The Talbot’ pub in the evening. On Thursday we drove home reflecting on a very successful and enjoyable cruise during which we saw more snowdrops than I have ever seen in my life before. (Article & Photos:) Alan Chetwyn KNOBSTICKS

Hazelhurst Junction Bridge Painting Week

Monday 8th June to Friday 12th June Joint IWA NSSC and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust Project Hazelhurst Junction Bridge Painting Week 10am to 3pm each day Come along for a day or two to help paint this iconic Listed cast iron bridge. Meet at Hazelhurst Top Lock. The best access to Hazelhurst Top Lock is on foot along the towpath from Denford Road, Denford, ST13 7JT, where parking is available on the road. In the case of wet weather we will postpone until the following day. If time allows, we might also get some paint on the side-pond handrails and the lock paddle gear on the three locks, but the main priority is to get the bridge painted. Volunteers are advised to wear old clothes and stout shoes, and to bring a packed lunch if staying all day. Further information is available from Alison Smedley, IWA Campaigns Officer, or 01538-385388 or 07779-090915.

Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival — Help needed on Stand The Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival will be 20th & 21st June this year and, once again, our branch will have its sales stand on the field by the towpath between Andersen Boats and the wharf. This year I will need help for setting up and putting away on both days as well as throughout the day. Summer 2015

Please let me know if you can offer to be there, and what times of the day you are available, so that I can plan the rota for all to see where the gaps are. I look forward to hearing from you by any of the following means : Tel: 01606-835606 Mob: 07976-318356 Email: Page 9

Waterway Recovery Group — Work Camps + Van Appeal IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) has launched it’s 2015 Canal Camp dates. Canal Camps are a good way to experience the great outdoors whilst working on really worthwhile projects. If you love spending time in Britain’s countryside learning about its industrial heritage, and like meeting new people and learning new skills such as using power tools, bricklaying or how to drive a dumper then Canal Camps are for you. Volunteers come from all walks of life; all you need is the enthusiasm to get stuck in and learn. Each camp costs £56 for the week and is open to anyone aged over 18. If you’d like to know more about volunteering with WRG please contact Jenny or Amber at WRG Head Office – 01494-783453 ext. 604, email or visit the WRG website

Help keep WRG on the Move To support these camps and enable them to take place WRG owns a set of four vans. Since WRG first purchased the current set of vans around eight years ago, they have been driven a total of 400,000 miles transporting volunteers, equipment and tools on WRG’s week-long Canal Camps and weekend digs across England and Wales. This is the equivalent of travelling around the world sixteen times! The current fleet of four much-loved Transit vans needs to be retired and it is time to find new sets of wheels for the next generation of volunteers. IWA has launched an appeal to help WRG raise £120,000 to replace the vans with the aim of buying two in 2015, and a further two in 2016. We can’t do this without you. The appeal needs the support of people like you who are passionate about waterways restoration to help reach the target. If you would like to help WRG get the essential equipment for restoring canals, then please make a donation or get involved in one or more of the many exciting events and activities taking place during the appeal. Ways to Donate Online: See for details of how to donate via the Virgin Money Giving appeal page. In 2014 18 WRG volunteers spent a week- Post: Make cheques payable to The Inland long camp working on the Uttoxeter Canal Waterways Association and send them to improving a length of Towpath and WRG Van Appeal, Island House, Moor repointing bridge 70. The work has made a Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA. great improvement to the area assisting Debit/Credit Card or Direct Debit: See the walkers, bringing publicity for the canal, and appeal leaflet inside your current issue of encouraging more people to get involved Waterways that explains how to pay by and support the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal credit/debit card or set up a direct debit. Trusts work. In November 2015 WRG will Further Information be back for its annual reunion to clear See for more vegetation from bridge 70 further along the information, or contact Toby Gomm at line of the Canal. 01494-783453 ext. 611. Page 10


The Blue Bell Hardingswood, Kidsgrove

Dave and Kay Washbrook welcome you to a true free house Opening hours: Monday

Closed (except Bank Holidays)

Tuesday - Friday 7:30 to 11:00pm Saturday

1:00 to 4:00pm & 7:00 to 11:00pm

Constantly changing Real Ales from smaller breweries Farmhouse Cider and Perry Speciality bottled beers

CAMRA award-winning Pub Summer 2015

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Social Programme

PROGRAMME OF TALKS 2015 – 2016 Friday 9th October 2015, 7.45 for 8pm The Hazel Project The “Hazel” project is the restoration of a 1913 built narrow boat to work as a well-being boat, providing time on the waterways for people suffering stress, depression etc.

Friday 13th November 2015, 7.45 for 8pm Milestone to Marple A digital presentation given by Dave Rushton on the history, locations and details of the canal milestones to Marple.

Friday 11th December 2015, 7.45 for 8pm Canal and River Trust Water Control and Scada in the 21st Century Nigel Taylor will give us an insight into how the Canal and River Trust utilises modern technology for water control and automation. He is hoping to explain what those little black kiosks do on the lock sides.

Friday 8th January 2016 NO MEETING Page 12


Social Programme Friday 12th February 2016, 7.45 for 8.00pm IWA NSSC Branch Annual General Meeting followed by Time on the Lott Once again we enjoy another digital presentation of Patrick and Angela Marks’ trips – this time on the River Lot in southern France.

Friday 11th March 2016, 7.30 for 8pm NEW YEAR ANNUAL DINNER – Venue to be advised. Contact: Barbara Wells (IWA NSSC Branch Social Secretary) on 01782-533856 or 07710-418908 for more details

Friday 8th April 2016, 7.45 for 8pm The Caledonian Canal A digital presentation by Phil Clayton on the history and tales of the Caledonian Canal.

Friday 13th May 2016, 7.45 for 8.00pm Cruising on Remote Waterways David and Jeanne Smith give us a digital presentation about the voyages of their Wilderness Trailer Boat on waterways that few narrow boaters see: Isolated sections of the Ashby Canal, Hereford & Gloucester Canal, Stroudwater Navigation, River Rother and a few more besides. Admission to talks is FREE Donations to waterway causes welcome! Refreshments available. Non-IWA members are very welcome Venue (unless otherwise stated): Stoke on Trent Boat Club Endon Wharf, Post Lane, Endon STOKE-ON-TRENT, ST9 9DU For further information contact: Barbara Wells (01782 533856 or 07710 418908) Email or visit the branch webpages at: Summer 2015

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Burslem Port Work Party

You never know what to expect when starting up a volunteer work party in a new area. I’d put up posters, shared the information by email and on social media, but really had no idea if anyone else would appear barring David from Burslem Port Trust. I was therefore more than a little relieved when 4 other volunteers showed up at Luke Street in Middleport for our first work party on 24th February. Things soon got even better when David arrived with another 5 young people he had “found” nearby who were litter picking as part of a community payback scheme. After a site safety induction, we split into two groups with the payback team and their supervisor litter picking near to the wharf and the rest of the group planning to clear trees and vegetation at the junction with the Trent & Mersey.

A week before our work party a fibreglass boat moored at the end of the branch had been destroyed by fire after its two occupants had unwisely decided to refuel a petrol generator on board the craft, resulting in an explosion. They had survived but their dog was not so lucky. Many of the boat contents had been thrown onto the bank and so added to the already huge pile of litter that had accumulated in this area while they had been moored there. We had agreed with CRT that they would collect this rubbish at the same time as the destroyed boat was removed so some of our group bagged the smaller items and left them near to the bank for easy collection. The main task for the day was to start cutting back trees and other vegetation that had built up since the site was last tidied up as part of a Future Jobs Fund scheme in 2010. Our group used an assortment of hand tools, and soon the site was looking very different. Two volunteers from a CRT volunteer group based at Etruria, who we had met at Middleport Pottery a couple of weeks earlier joined us mid-morning and made good headway working along the waters edge. Unfortunately strong gusts of winds meant that it was difficult to keep our fire going so most of the cuttings were stacked up for

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Burslem Port Work Party burning another day (which 2 of us did the following week). The day briefly threatened to turn worse when hailstones started to fall but they only lasted a few minutes and the rest of the day remained dry and mild. Two of the volunteers had to leave in the morning, and the payback group also had to move to another site but, by our scheduled finish time of 3pm, 5 volunteers were still going strong determined to finish the job. We eventually called it a day at 3:45. I crossed the canal via Newport Lane Bridge and it was clear to see what a difference had been made. The church tower in Burslem was visible from the towpath once more and whilst there is still a lot to do the site was already looking better (see below).

In March clearance of the junction area was completed and we started to work along the line of the canal. This section has so many bushes that progress appears quite slow if you were to look at a map but is massively different when looking at the site. The view from the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal to the centre of Burslem has now been revealed and you get a sense of the junction as a destination. The local Towpath Taskforce group continued their tree clearance beside the canal, determined to use bow-saws on anything less than about a foot in diameter (serious dedication!). There are still a few that will need Rob (our trained chainsaw operator) to take out at a later date. Summer 2015

Kate from CRT restoration team also came along this time. We're working with her on an interpretation project at the moment so there was lots to talk about whilst tackling the job at hand. Hilary told us that after the work party last month she had collapsed into a chair and not moved so definitely wasn't going to overdo it this month. Hmm, that would explain the large carpet she dragged from the undergrowth then! Meanwhile Wojciech had found a shopping trolley and spotted what looked like a washing machine at the bottom of the slope but we couldn't get down to remove it. Why do people go to such extraordinary lengths to dispose of things that could much more easily go to the waste recycling site in Burslem? We're building quite a pile of junk for CRT to take away by boat! The day flew by and even a few sharp showers didn't dampen the enthusiasm of our group. By lunchtime the sun was out and it stayed out for the rest of the day. The pile of vegetation was getting bigger as the bonfire couldn't keep up so, by the end of the day, there was still a huge amount that will need to be tackled next time. It was great to have a new face from just a couple of streets away join us this time as well as all the volunteers from last month. We are clearly being noticed by the community, which is very reassuring. We have already heard from three new people who plan to join our group for future work parties and hope that the numbers will continue to grow. Why not join us on the fourth Tuesday of each month? From June we will also be working on the first Saturday of each month too! (Article & Photos:) Steve Wood Page 15

Cheshire Locks Work Party February We moved to Lock 44 Red Bull Flight from Malkin’s Bank locks. as we had essentially completed our uplift work at Malkin’s Bank (apart from some painting to catch back in the spring when the weather is better).

Despite the miserable February cold and persistent rain six volunteers came to help; our regular stalwart group, and two new faces joining our team. This was especially encouraging for me as the new organizer. At the end of our day we were wet and cold but satisfied with having made a real difference to this very popular area. Indeed, we received praise and thanks from several dog-walkers and from the one intrepid boater moving that day.

The focus of this month’s work was to cut back overgrown vegetation and clean setts and copings. It was all a bit muddy but we felt that a good start was made on Lock 44 and we made a clear visual difference to the top and bottom of the two paired locks. We also cleared out rubbish from an interesting wall feature and cut back brambles and trimmed the hedge a little. Page 16

March A glorious early spring day, such a welcome contrast to the wet and cold of February. KNOBSTICKS

Cheshire Locks Work Party teenagers (working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award) and Naomi from CRT put in a great day’s work and we almost completed Lock 44 painting at Red Bull. The lock looks so much better than it has done in a long while.

As in February, the focus of this month’s work was to continue cutting back overgrown vegetation, cleaning setts and copings and to prepare for painting. Seven volunteers, supported by Naomi from CRT, turned out for a good day’s work at Lock 44 and 45 and we achieved a definite lift to the appearance of these two paired locks.

The canal was busy with boats and dog walkers and we were rewarded with positive comments and encouragement. Hopefully the weather will be kind in May and we will complete Lock 44.

Despite litter picking in February we still collected nine bags of garbage! Altogether a very satisfying day with good progress made enabling us to concentrate on painting as the weather warms up. April At last the rain stayed away and the sun came out long enough to allow us to paint! On a glorious spring day volunteers from our regular team, two hard working

If you’ve got a few hours spare and fancy helping out on our regular Thursday, please come and join our friendly team, you will be most welcome. Article & Photos: Andy Hellyar-Brook February Photos: David Clegg, Naomi Boult

Summer 2015

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Congleton Work Party

Copy of the old map that we were sent which shows the ramp and steps leading to the former Canal Cottage. It dates from the early 1900’s. NOTE that Bridge 90 is now bridge 73 and, also that North is at the bottom of the map contrary to normal convention. A bright sunny and warm day greeted volunteers meeting at Congleton for the April work party. On this occasion, the group of willing and enthusiastic volunteers continued the work from February and March work parties to uncover and restore the old ramp leading to the former canal length-man’s cottage (see map above). In addition volunteers also undertook the usual litter pick, although it is encouraging to note that the amount of litter now collected every month seems to have reduced over the months. Hopefully evidence that our regular litter picks are also prompting people to take their litter home with them. As can be seen from the photographs (see next page) a length of the ramp has now been uncovered and volunteers have been working to replace missing stones from the walls that formed the sides of the ramp as well as laying a base layer of hard core Page 18

before adding wooden edging and fine gravel in the coming months. Over the coming months the group will continue to meet on a regular basis on the fourth Friday of the month with plans agreed with CRT (who are providing support, tools and materials) to improve the towpath along what is a well used stretch of canal. In addition the group will also carry out soft bank repairs. The local Town Council have also been very supportive and over the coming months will be providing low maintenance plants to further enhance the banking along this area of towpath between Congleton Station and the Dane Aqueduct. In addition CRT contractors have now re-laid an improved towpath surface between the Railway Station and bridge 76, as part of Congleton Town’s cycle route, making the visitor moorings in that area a much nicer place to stop, with easier access to the shops. KNOBSTICKS

Congleton Work Party

Already there are many positive comments being received from towpath users and local residents with regard to the improvements in the area. IWA, CRT, Congleton Town

Council and local residents will be working together over the coming months to build on this for the benefit of all. (Article & Photos:) Bob Luscombe

Branch Annual Dinner In mid-March, we held our Annual IWA North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Branch Dinner at the newly restored and refurbished historic Middleport Potteries in Burslem. Forty-three members and friends enjoyed an evening in excellent surroundings. The 3-course meal, prepared and served by Chef Tracey and her Team was out of this world. They were warmly congratulated for their efforts.

winnings. Then the fun began. The Auction was conducted by our Chairman, Mr Bob Luscombe, who did an excellent job it getting everyone to put their hands in their pockets to swell the coffers.

After the meal, the Richard Bird award was presented by Harry Arnold MBE to Canal Cruising Company Ltd (Peter & Karen Wyatt). Next the Raffle was drawn and members were delighted with their

P.S. Congratulations to Julie Arnold and Gary Summers who announced their engagement. A hand-drawn card was hastily created and circulated, in secret, for everybody to sign. There was much laughter when it was presented. (Ed)

Summer 2015

Well done to everyone who contributed to the Raffle and Auction. An excellent evening was had by all who attended. Barbara Wells

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01782 279547 14 Piccadilly Arcade, Hanley, Stoke on Trent STI 1DL

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Uttoxeter Canal Work Party

The April work party on the Uttoxeter Canal continued work in the Crumpwood area. One group dealt with a large clump of hawthorn which was hiding the wall of the weir-keeper’s cottage while another group went to Bridge 70 to remove a tree beside the recently restored towpath. Work to reveal buried parts of the weir also continued. An investigation of the flood control sluice on one side of the weir indicated that the paddle may well still be in place, buried under years of accumulated silt. Full investigation of this will take place

Summer 2015

after a couple of large trees have been removed as part of the WRG Reunion weekend in November. Our work continues to generate much interest and attract new volunteers with three newcomers this month. We are planning to start a weekend group for those who cannot make Thursdays. If you are interested in joining this new group, please contact us. Article: Steve Wood Photos: Evie Frost

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For an extensive range of traditional narrowboat and sailing fittings

ADVICE AND FRIENDLY, HELPFUL SERVICE. Brass fittings, portholes, windows, mushroom vents, tiller bars and pins, pigeon boxes, rope, fenders. Solid fuel stoves and chimneys, cookers, fridges and freezers, showerbaths and basins, water and shower pumps, Hep 2O plumbing.




Send large SAE for our Disc or catalogue Main Honda agents, outboards and generators. Parts and service. Calor gas and fittings, diesel, DIY and yard storage, slipway, pump out.

Gifts • canal souvenirs • maps and books • clothing

Newcastle Road, Stone, Staffs. Tel: Stone (01785) 812688 Fax: (01785) 811317 email:

The Swan Inn Stafford Street, Stone Two minutes from bridge 93 at Star Lock

Serving 10 Real Ales & Scrumpy Cider Bar Snacks available Beer Garden Page 22


North Staffordshire & South Cheshire contacts President: Chris Skelhorne Vice President Roger Savage Chairman Bob Luscombe 07710 054848 Deputy Chairman + Minutes Secretary Steve Wood 07976 805858 Treasurer Alan Chetwyn 01782 279277 (No Email) Secretary + Sales Officer Gillian Watson 01606 835606 107 St Anns Road, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 0AA Social Secretary Barbara Wells 01782 533856 Publicity Officer Sarah Honeysett 01782 772295 Newsletter Editor Roger Evans 01606 834471 10 Long Lane, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0BL Web-site Liaison Alison Smedley 01538 385388

Planning Andrew Hellyar-Brook 07926 204206 Membership Officer VACANT (Contact Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club Rep. VACANT (Contact Navigation Officer VACANT (Contact Burslem Port Work Party Steve Wood 07976 805858 Caldon Work Party + Uttoxeter W.P. Robert Frost 07743 628091 Cheshire Locks Work Party Andrew Hellyar-Brook 07926 204206 Congleton Work Party Bob Luscombe 07710 054848 Other committee member: Julie Arnold 01538 361138 Maria Frost West Midlands Region Chairman Vaughan Welch 0121 477 9782

The Branch committee meets at 7:30 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of odd-numbered months at Stoke Boat Club, Endon Wharf, Post Lane, Endon, Stoke-on-Trent, ST9 9DU. All Branch members are invited to attend. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Inland Waterways Association, the West Midlands Region, or North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch. They are, however, published as being of interest to our members and readers. Š The Inland Waterways Association - Registered as a charity no. 212342 Summer 2015

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Join Us on a Canal Work Party

 Cheshire Locks (Trent & Mersey Canal, Kidsgrove to Wheelock) 3rd Thursday of each month, 10am to 3pm. Contact: Andy Hellyar-Brook Phone: 07926-204206 Email:  Uttoxeter Canal (Bridge 70, near Denstone) 2nd Thursday of each month (June is 25th instead), 10am to 3pm. also Saturday 20th June, 18th July, 29th August, 26th September, ... Contact: Robert Frost Phone: 07743 628091 Email:  Burslem Port, Stoke-on-Trent 4th Tuesday of each month, 10am to 3pm. also 1st Saturday of each month, 10am to 3pm. Contact: Steve Wood Phone: 07976-805858 Email:  Congleton, Macclesfield Canal 4th Friday of each month, 10am to 4pm. Contact: Bob Luscombe Phone: 07710-054848 Email: ——————————–——————–————————————-———————————————–——————————–———————————-—————————-—————

See the IWA website under “Events” for dates. Volunteers are advised to wear stout shoes and old clothes, and to bring waterproofs (and a packed lunch and drink if staying all day) Page 24


Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Knobsticks Summer 2015  

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch Newsletter, Knobsticks, Summer 2015

Knobsticks Summer 2015  

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch Newsletter, Knobsticks, Summer 2015