Page 1




Good Bye BW, Hello CRT

Launch Event at Fradley Junction

Issue No. 2012-2

Summer 2012


st Midlands R e W eg A. . io .W a g ti vi

The IWA is a national organisation and campaigns for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the Inland Waterways.

For administrative purposes, England and Wales are divided up into eight ‘Regions’. One of these is the West Midlands Region. This Region, like all the others, has a Region Committee who meet regularly, presided over by a Region Chairman. The current Chairman of the West Midlands Region is Vaughan Welch.

Meetings are timed to take place shortly after “board meetings” of the Trustees of the Association and other national sub-committees that coordinate the running of the Association. Trustees and representatives of the other national committees present at the Region meeting can pass down information from the recent national get-togethers and by this means communications are filtered down, eventually to rank and file members at monthly branch meetings and socials, etc.

Regions and Branches Regions are sub-divided into a number of branches. There are 34 Branches in all.

West Midland Region branches :

is divided into four

• Birmingham, Black Country and Worcestershire Branch. • Lichfield Branch. • Stoke Branch. • Warwickshire Branch. Navigation West Midlands Region communicates directly with its members by producing a quarterly magazine, called Navigation. Stoke Branch also produce three copies per year of their longstanding publication; ‘Knobsticks’. This is circulated to members of the Stoke Branch. 2.

Summer 2012

Navigation 2012/2

Contents Page 4 5-6 7-8 8 9 - 10 11 - 12 13 - 14 15 - 18 19 - 20 21 22 - 23 24 - 25 26 27

Item CRT Launch Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant Institute of Civil Engineers Awards Waterways Renaissance Awards Hatton Locks / Tardebigge leak Waterways Events Letters to Navigation Social Events Region Chairman History Stoke Branch Chairman Lichfield Chairman Obituary - Alan T Smith Contacts

Cover photo courtesy of Waterways Images. The pictures shows a celebration of the launch of Canal and River Trust with Ray Bowern steering the boat, with Charlotte Atkins, Nicholas Bostock, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire & Tom Franklin, CRT Trustee.

The event marks the biggest change in British Waterways since nationalisation over 60 years ago. Another picture taken at Fradley Junction follows on page 4.

The IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy, or as an official pronouncement, unless specifically identified as such.

The Association accepts no liability for any matter published in this magazine, including adverts. No reproduction is permitted without acknowledgement. We would like to thank contributors of photographs for providing their property for publication.

WRG stands for Waterways Recovery Group, a subsidiary of the IWA. The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is a registered charity No. 212342. IWA Registered Office : Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel 01494 783453 Printed by Colour Image Printers, 7 Derehams Lane, High Wycombe, Bucks HP10 9RH

Summer 2012


The Long-awaited Launch of Canal and River Trust The Charity replacing British Waterways

A picture courtesy of Waterways Images of the “officials� and IWA members present at the CRT Launch at Fradley on 12th July 2012. from left to right : Harry Arnold MBE (Vice President of IWA and member of CRT Central Shires Waterways Partnership), Darren Green (Central Shires Waterways Manager), Helen Whitehouse (IWA Lichfield Branch), Nicholas Bostock (Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire), Charlotte Atkins (Chair of Central Shires Waterways Partnership), Tom Franklin (CRT Trustee), Alison Smedley (IWA Stoke on Trent Branch), John Evans (IWA Leicestershire Branch), and Beryl McDowell (IWA Leicestershire branch and member of CRT Central Shires Waterways Partnership).


Summer 2012

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Thames Pageant President and Kildare set off on Sunday 20 April 2012 The flotilla at the Pageant was on 03 June 2012. Steam powered narrowboat, President, and the accompanying butty, Kildare, based at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, were commissioned by the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire to represent the county in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames. The pair set off on 20 April from Stoke on Trent with a rousing send off attended by all the local media and the Mayor and other dignitaries. Visitors had an opportunity to see an exclusive onboard ‘Staffordshire cargo’ supplied by President’s principal sponsors and showcasing the diversity of industry the county has on offer. It includes a JCB digger, a steel swan, created by St Modwen, a Michelin tyre and a hand crafted Diamond Jubilee Commemorative set from Wedgwood.

President was one of some 40 narrowboats to assemble near Hammersmith to join over 900 other boats of all descriptions to take part on 03 June in one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the Thames. Built in 1909 and being 73 ft. long, she was the oldest and longest of the narrowboat class of craft. On the way down south, President and Kildare stopped several times in our Region to interact with the public : 21 April : Stone 22 April : Fradley Junction 22 April : Hopwas 23 April : Alvecote 24 April : Hawkesbury Jtn 25 April : Braunston before moving on to 26 April : Stoke Bruerne nb President at Fradley on 22 April. Harry Arnold of Waterways Images is seen photographing the Mayor and Mayoress of Lichfield on the rear deck. The Swan Inn and the junction with the Coventry Canal are in the background. President was to leave the Trent & Mersey Canal here.

Summer 2012


President and Kildare at Fradley Junction It was rather a wet April day when the heritage boats stopped for a 2 hour photo-opportunity. The media event included a traction engine and a variety of vintage and classic cars for the public to view. Despite the weather, there was a good turn out and the crowds made good use of the dry periods to enjoy the historic occasion.

Some of the vintage cars arriving to add to the spectacle. A large display was assembled on the car park. At about 14.00, the working pair left the Trent & Mersey Canal near to its southernmost point, to proceed towards Braunston and the Grand Union Canal. The IWA provided several marshals to ensure that all went smoothly and the public were kept safe at the waterside. Thanks to Mike Moorse, Roger Savage and Julie Arnold. Some of the cargo on view within the hold of President. Some deliveries of coal were also made along the way.


Later in the afternoon, the pair steamed through Huddlesford Junction. Bunting was erected by Joy Weetman, and several well wishers cheered the boats through in the rain, even though there was no scheduled stop. Summer 2012

Aftermath of the Jubilee Thames Pageant Following the BBC coverage of the extremely wet event over several hours of broadcasting, there was considerable criticism of the presentation and preparation by the program makers. The commentators appeared to have little in-depth knowledge of many of the craft in the flotilla and there seemed to be a lack of preparation of key information and interesting facts to put over as the cameras picked up the vessels.

An e-petition was started on-line which was signed by several thousand people from all over the country. Many eminent waterways spokespersons and several organisations added their weight to the general complaint about the quality of the coverage. Hundreds of thousands of spectators stood in the rain to witness the spectacular and millions watched it on TV and it was felt that they were let down by the BBC.

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) West Midlands Awards. Major development and refurbishment projects ranging from a colliery reclamation scheme to preserving a rural cottage were among the nominations in the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) West Midlands Awards. The annual awards showcase the best of civil engineering excellence in the region and take place in May at the ICC. A total of 20 projects were nominated, including the £2.5 million highway project to facilitate a ‘Tesco Extra’ in Walsall and the £12.7 million restoration of Droitwich’s canals. Alastair Templeton, ICE West Midlands chairman, said: “Every single day, civil engineers in the West Midlands are working to overcome challenges from water supply to transport access, usually with little or no recognition. “The work done by civil engineers is essential for society to function and this is our opportunity to celebrate the work done by our members with both the public and private sectors. Summer 2012

A couple of the nominations involved Midlands canal related projects. 1. Droitwich Canals Restoration – British Waterways with Wychavon District Council, Worcestershire County Council, The Waterways Trust and Droitwich Canal Trust The opening of Droitwich Canals in July 2011 marked the end of a 38-year drive to restore these two lost canals with work starting in spring 2008 after a £12.7 million fundraising campaign. The vision was to create a linear park centred on the restored Droitwich Canals which will seek to conserve and enhance the natural and built environment and provide a range of opportunities for local people and visitors, generating economic benefit and contributing to the well-being of the people of Worcestershire. Environment Minister Caroline Spelman said of the project: “I pay tribute to everyone involved in this wonderful restoration. Reconnecting and reopening the two canals is a great engineering achievement.” 7.

2. Chasewater Reservoir Remedial Works – Staffordshire County Council working with URS and Galliford Try In order to mitigate internal erosion within the eastern embankment of the reservoir near Lichfield, the Chasewater Reservoir project was undertaken on safety grounds due to fears of leaks and flooding. Started by Lichfield District Council, the project was continued by Staffordshire County Council in May 2011 and URS,

the council’s engineers, to work on the 200-year-old reservoir. As part of the work, the reservoir was drained and the drawdown culvert was located and inspected for the first time in 200 years. The project has demonstrated a partnership culture between all parties which was considered essential when dealing with such a complex and historical structure which is a major Midlands asset. It is expected the reservoir will be fully restocked by next year.

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) West Midlands Awards - The Results. The ICE entry for Droitwich Canals Restoration won the construction category and went on to win the overall winner. The ceremony was attended by the construction team and Wychavon DC on Wednesday night, 09 May.

Region Chairman, Vaughan Welch said, “Fantastic news and a credit to all those who have worked on the project over the last 38 years…”

The Waterway Renaissance Awards The Waterway Renaissance Awards where presented at a Dinner in the ICC in Birmingham on 23 May. Since its inception 10 years ago, the Waterways Renaissance Awards, run by The Waterways Trust, has recognised over 100 exceptional projects that are using canals and rivers to enrich people’s lives across the UK. Twenty-nine outstanding projects along canals and rivers in the UK were recognised at the prestigious event. Winners include the Peace Bridge, constructed to unite two once divided communities in Derry~Londonderry, the stunning Granary Wharf in Leeds and 8.

the pioneering White Cart Water flood prevention scheme in Glasgow We are delighted to report that the

Droitwich Project won the Outstanding Achievement Award,

the top award that is only awarded on very special occasions. Thanks to all who have been involved, and in particular the many volunteers (including Max Sinclair, who was specifically mentioned in the acceptance speech) over the years. Summer 2012

Hatton Locks Work Party Warwickshire Branch, February 2012.

In keeping with our Branch’s commitment to help make boating through Warwickshire as safe, easy and enjoyable an experience as possible for both local and visiting boaters alike; in February, some thirteen Branch members (and two dogs) [Fig 1] cleared the off-side access to the locks in the middle section of the Hatton flight. When the ‘new’ locks were constructed in the 1930’s, several in the middle section of the flight were located on the ‘off-side’ - ie. on the far side of the old (narrow) chambers – relative to the towpath. In order to prevent crews from having to cross the new (wide) gates, and the old (narrow) chambers to get to the towpaths when working ahead, off-side paths were created – as at nearby Knowle - and as often found on other flights on the southern GU.

Over the last few years these paths have become overgrown and neglected. [Fig 2]. This has meant that not only have ‘shore-parties’ had a longer walk between each lock, but also have often had to cross two pairs of double lock-gates on each lock transit. BW-WM was receptive to our proposal for reinstating the off-side access; and on a cold Sunday in mid-February we set-to and achieved our aim. [Fig 3]. The Branch has now made a commitment to repeat this work in the future, thereby, hopefully preventing these paths from becoming overgrown and unusable again. By clearing the undergrowth, and reinstating the old paths between locks 32 & 36, we believe that we have made passage of the Hatton flight a little easier, safer, and hopefully more enjoyable for all boaters who pass through this part of ‘our patch’.

Fig 1. Summer 2012

Photo : I Fletcher


Photos : I Fletcher

Fig 2.

Fig 3.

Catastrophe Averted at Tardebigge On 11 June, a shift in the towpath close to the Rolt-Aickman IWA-founding memorial was noticed and reported to British Waterways. An investigation showed that much of the earth filling of the towpath at the top of the flight of locks had been washed away. Almost the only thing holding back approximately 40 miles of water, was the vertical concrete piles - just a few centimetres thick. 10.

Millions of litres of water were poised to cascade down upon built up areas near Bromsgrove. The cost of the imminent breach, both in monetary terms and the potential loss of life, would have exceeded all the recent breaches, running into millions of pounds. Rapid action was taken, including a stoppage during the repair work, and the catastrophe was averted.

Summer 2012

Summer Events Stratford-Upon-Avon 30th June and 1st July 2012.

Stratford River Festival Despite the wet conditions, the programme of events ensured that’s there was something for all the family to enjoy. Many decorated narrow boats, river demonstrations by the dozens of national clubs, craft markets, an assortment of global foods, and joining in on the fun in the family zone or supping a pint of real ale, were all there to mark the occasion. For more details of the outcome : www.

Forthcoming Events Dudley


15 Sep - 16 Sep 2012 Black Country Boating Festival : Dudley No.2 Canal

08 Sep - 09 Sep 2012 Kidderminster Canal Festival : Staffs & Worcestershire Canal

Black Country Boating Festival

Kidderminster Canal Festival

Windmill End, Netherton, Dudley No.2 Canal

Dreamcatcher trip boat - British Waterways working heritage boat - Music and other entertainment throughout the weekend - North Worcestershire Amateur Rabbit Show - Charity Duck Race on the River Stour

The Black Country Boating Festival is a boat gathering and community festival held during September each year in the Bumble Hole Nature Reserve, Windmill End, Netherton.

Summer 2012


River Festival at Evesham cancelled 7th July 2012

The would- be Golden Anniversar y The Evesham River Festival had been held on the Avon in one form or another for well over 30 years thanks to Mr Barwell and his dedicated band for securing such a splendid facility as there is today in the middle of town. Sadly, as with so many other events up and down the country this year, the weather put paid to months of planning and anticipation. The river rose to an unseasonally high level making navigation, let alone a festival, impossible. Re-enactment The plan was to begin on Saturday July 7th with a re-enactment by the Avon Navigation Trust of the flotilla of boats first undertaken in 1962, travelling from Wyre Mill club near Pershore up to Workman Gardens at Evesham to be met by the Mayor when the Festival would be officially opened. In 2012, the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the River Avon to the sea, it was to have been a golden event. It would also have commemorated the first attempt in the world at a voluntary river restoration.


Stranded. Pictures courtesy of festival website.

Vessels left stranded away from the edge, unable to navigate high waters.

In 1950 the Avon was sold to a Mr Barwell who was a member of the Inland Waterways Association. The Midland branch of the I.W.A. formed a sub committee with Douglas Barwell as the Chairman. They undertook to restore the semi derelict section of the river from Evesham, via Pershore to Tewkesbury joining the River Severn. The sub committee went on to form the Lower Avon Navigation Trust (LANT) and as well as raising the finance and rebuilding the numerous locks and weirs, they completed the task in June 1962 making it possible to navigate from Evesham down to the docks at Gloucester and beyond to Sharpness. The river took over the path and lapped around the feet of riverside benches. Only a swan and a duck venture where crowds would have stood. Summer 2012

Letters Handrails Readers might be interested in the latest situation regarding the ‘handrails’ issue, on the narrow ‘lock-tail’ bridges: On behalf of Dave Pearson and the BBC&W Branch, I have been keeping up with progress, started by the HNBC, particularly Ros Prettyman, in getting changes to BW’s initial designs for new handrails. I have kept our Committee informed, and others ‘in the loop’ also, so if you have any queries you will find someone to talk with. The situation is that BW ‘middle’ staff are apologetic about the shambles, but admit that it was brought on by inadequate advice (and ‘we’ would add ... experience!). From our Branch’s point of view, we are anxious that IWA collectively makes these points to the most senior levels of the new Canal & River Trust: a. We note another example of BW handling a H&S issue with a degree of incompetence - i.e. handrails hastily ‘designed’ which had to be modified to meet safety requirements of boaters. We sincerely hope that this does not happen next time a very disobedient and foolish child has an accident on some other part of the Waterway’s property. b. We note that senior BW staff appear to be reluctant to take any personal responsibility, or to issue any meaningful guidance to their staff. (H&S advice inadequate, Heritage and Conservation advice inadequate, navigation advice inadequate, pedestrian and classification of bridge advice inadequate).

Summer 2012

(We may combine these two, but I think it important to take issue with the management, while adding to ‘a.’ above that the staff DID consult after they found themselves in trouble!) c. There should be a national policy (i.e. by IWA), without being too complicated, to outline the principles of restoration, conservation and maintenance of the waterways by the Canal and River Trust. (maybe this exists in some forms - but it should be simplified and addressed as if to all waterway management). It should include: Such (long term if necessary) objectives of restoring to original or MAXIMUM dimensions for each length or ‘throughroute’ of canal, subject to generally accepted improvements that might have been achieved over the years. This should promote a ‘default’ criteria which would have prevented the ‘shallow’ repair on the Stourbridge recently, ‘too narrow’ restoration of the Huddersfield, as well as preventing the ‘lowered’ headroom at Falling Sands lock which they have agreed to modify (the proposed mod looks good, but we have yet to see their designs for Stourport, the site of the original accident! .. DWS). Somehow we should add the requirement to conserve historic mechanisms (e.g. paddle winding gear), in their existing form, subject to correcting erroneous repairs over the years, both in order to conserve the basic engineering processes in our care, but also to enable appropriate education and training. Other similar technologies might inadvertently become the subject of widespread mis-appropriation of resources unless 13.

. . . continued


there is clear guidance in principle to ‘conserve for maximum useage’, e.g. in the event of another ‘accident’ leading to ‘reaction’ steps from management. We would like to put these thoughts into a more formal statement, for all waterways management, but in a succinct and easily digestible document - not a handbook of detail, just a list of principles. It should also indicate an assumption that new build waterways should be accommodated, incorporated or connected - as a natural extension of existing systems, whenever such become promoted. (e.g. in Bedfordshire). Such a document should be deposited with local, District and County Planning Authorities, and widely referred to - so needs to be indexed in parallel with road and rail planning guidelines. The reason for this? after several fiascos from BW; remember spindles?, bollards, and now handrails, it is clear that BW have not had the ‘navigation’ aspect of the canals in their minds when addressing maintenance, H&S, heritage, or conservation (or the environment for that matter). We should take the lead and help to formulate the long-term ambitions of the waterways community to put right the mistakes of the past, to help C&RT get off to the right start. We hope that the other Branches will comment, contribute and press for IWA nationally to agree a form of words that would be acceptable professionally to help C&RT. David W Struckett BBC&W Branch


Lock Tail Bridges

I write as an IWA member to add my voice to those of Vaughan Welch and others.   Some of the temporary structures erected along the Staffs & Worcs Canal were much less safe than the unprotected tail bridges, and at one time on 2nd April the partially-dismantled structure at Ebstree Lock was left unattended and with scaffold poles simply lying along the tail bridge – quite unbelievable as part of a health & safety exercise!   BW’s failure to consult effectively on this matter demonstrates once again that their mindset is not changing to reflect their new status. The word ‘partnership’ appears everywhere but some elements within BW seem reluctant to adopt a partnership approach.   Yours faithfully    John Butler

New West Midlands Region Trophy A new West Midlands Region trophy is to be awarded annually. The inscription, wihich is self explanatory will read : IWA West Midlands Region John Bedingfield Award Best Recruiting Branch

Summer 2012

Social Events There are many social events (talks, slide shows, walks, etc) organised by the local branches and by other organisations in and around the Region. All are open to the general public. Below are listed just a few, please come along, enjoy and in doing so, show support. Many events provide refreshments, some are even in licensed premises.

Birmingham, Black Country and Worcestershire Branch Meetings have been held at Ashwood Marina Social Club, (Ashwood, Kingswinford, West Midlands DY6 0AQ) in recent years, but may be about to change. Full details will be on the ‘pink card’ included in the next Navigation to Birmingham members. Negotiations are taking place to re-locate meetings to Coombswood Social Club at Hawne Basin. More information as we get it. Meetings start at 7.15 for 7.30. Non–members are very welcome. For more information on talks, contact: Chris Osborn Tel: 01299 832 593 or e-mail: The Branch are working on their next Events Calendar card for the coming season. Details will be reproduced in Navigation for the benefit of non- Birmingham Branch members and those who reside close to the boundary of the Branch.

Lichfield Branch Meetings are held at College Hall, The Close, Lichfield Cathedral WS13 7LD Parking available close by, off Bird Street. 19.30 for 19.45 Contact Pat Barton, tel. 07947 337491 Evening meetings will resume in September. During the summer, the Branch organise a number of outdoor events for the benefit of members, friends and the general public. A full list of all the talks and social gatherings will be included in the Autumn Navigation.

Summer 2012


Stoke Branch Meetings are held at Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club, Endon Wharf, Post Lane, Endon, STOKE-ON-TRENT ST9 9DT Meetings will be held from the Autumn on the second Friday of each month until May 2013. Contact is Alison Smedley MBE, Tel: 07779 090 915 The Etruria Jubilee Canals Festival was held over the holiday weekend of 2nd and 3rd June.

Warwickshire Branch Meetings held, second Wednesday in the month, at Sports Connexion, Rytonon-Dunsmore, CV8 3FL - just off A45 at junction of A423 and A445 Contact : Tina Jackson, Secretary, contact details on page 27. The programme for the 2012/13 season will be printed in August in our programme card along with our A4 newssheet “Bear Essentials”, available on request in a PDF format. July 11th Wednesday Evening Picnic and optional walk at Newbold Comyn, Leamington Spa Meet 7:30 pm - Bring your own food and drink. If weather is inclement, we may adjourn to the Newbold Comyn Arms. Park near the Swimming Baths. Grid Ref: SP330659 August 19th Sunday Walk Around Brinklow – more Oxford loops Meet 10:30 am Stretton Wharf GR: SP440810

The Rhodes Thomas Collections.


To contribute to the costs of archiving storage containers for storing the 22,000 or more slides in this collection; we are now starting to sell some of the hundreds of waterway, railway and industrial archaeology books also bequeathed to the Branch. For the public, this exercise began at the Braunston Historic Boat Gathering on June 23rd/24th.

Summer 2012

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust 22nd Annual

General Meeting.

This was held on : Friday 15th June 2012 - at Park View Centre, Chester Road North, Brownhills WS8 7JB Guest speaker : John Dodwell, Transition Trustee of Canal & River Trust. Details on website or from Sue Williams on 01543 671427

Birmingham Canal Navigations Society Meetings are held at Titford Pumphouse, Engine Street, Oldbury B69 4NL at 19.30 Social Secretary : Geoff Peakman tel. 0121 559 7486 Talks on the BCN Contact : Phil Clayton, tel. 01902 780920 / 07890 921413

Worcester-Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society Winter venue (November to March) will be held at Alvechurch Boat Centres meeting room, Scarfield Wharf B48 7SQ at 8pm. Our summer venue will be held at The Boat and Railway, Stoke Prior B61 4QE for the months of April. May June September and October. Contact : Denis Pike, Programme Secretary, tel. 07870 939121, e-mail : Droitwich Water Festival was held at Droitwich on 22 Jun - 25 Jun 2012 Droitwich Water Festival - Vines Park Activities included a real ale bar - allday, hot and cold food, music, boating skills (prizes awarded), competitions, guided walks and cycle trails.

Summer 2012


Stratford upon Avon Canal Society

Meetings are held at Village Hall, Wootton Wawen (B4089 opposite The Bull) Contact : Clive Henderson 01564 783672 or Visit :

Leicester Branch

Meetings are held in the Functions Room at The Gate Hangs Well Pub, Lewin Bridge, Fosse Way, Syston, Leicester LE7 1HN at 19.30. Contact : Beryl McDowall, Social Secretary, tel. 07710 029247, e-mail : Riverside Festival / Boat Rally at Mile Straight, Leicester, was held 9 / 10 June

Notts & Derby Branch

Meetings are held at the Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7HY Contact : Mavis White, Social Secretary, tel. 01636 671726 Guided walk along the Cromford Canal was held 15 June. It started at Cromford Wharf and set off towards Leawood Pumphouse. Leader : Mike Kelly

Derby and Sandiacre Society Meetings are held at Gregory’s Bar, Aspen Drive, Spondon, Derby DE21 7SG Contact : Graham Treagus, tel. 01604 870515 Details on the website.

Lincolnshire Branch The Three Shires Trip Boat - bookable by contacting Fiona, tel. 01949 850 999 Grantham Canal Society The society is currently undertaking work on bridges, which plays a fundamental part in the restoration efforts.

Northampton Branch Meetings are held at the Walnut Tree, Blisworth at 20.00 Contact : Graham Treagus, tel. 01604 870515


Summer 2012

Trust, thus protecting the assets were CRT to flounder.

April saw the very first meeting of the Members of the new Canal & River Trust (CRT) at which there was little formal business other than to appoint the Trustees. Most of the meeting was devoted to getting to know you sessions although it was felt that meeting every six months was too much of a gap if the members are to have any influence on the way that the new Trust is run. The next meeting therefore took place at the beginning of July when guidance to the Trustees was given on such matters as the development of adequate water resources for the waterway in the next decade; perhaps an odd but important topic given the monsoons that we’ve been suffering during the past few months. Given the views that some people have expresses it does however show a long term commitment to navigation. As many of you will have doubtless seen on the TV the new Trust was formally launched on July 12th at several local events throughout the country; it was however vested at 00:01 on Monday 2nd July and some ‘honey pot’ sites were re-branded during the interim period by members of the Association. It was perhaps very symbolic that it took place on a bright and sunny day, the first for many days. Whilst the Canal & River Trust (CRT) will operate the network it is owned by a separate subsidiary Trust known as the Waterway Infrastructure Summer 2012

In my notes in the last edition I expressed some concern about change for the better and I’m delighted to note that the message hit home. The matter of consultation on the provision of handrails on lock tail bridges has at last taken place with IWA, it was just a pity that strong words had to be said before this happened.. It was apparent that only very selective consultation, that caused me to comment as I did, had taken place and the Government’s guidelines on such matters (remember that the canals were still Government owned at the time) had been overlooked. This matter caused considerable concern for both Birmingham and Lichfield Branches; the former’s Vice Chairman’s article on the subject appears elsewhere in this magazine so I won’t to go into the detail on this matter other than to perhaps report that a number of schemes, including one that had been previously installed, have now been redrawn as a consequence. The matter caused some considerable debate at the local West Midlands User Group meeting earlier this year and clearly our views were echoed by others within the waterways movement so we’re not a lone voice; and I notice this has already been subject to some comments in the national waterways press. To his credit Dean Davies, the local Waterway Manager, handled the situation very well and he even extended an open invitation to all user groups to follow the arrangements that IWA, and some other key ones, already have with him to set up regular meetings to bottom out matters of concern before they become a problem. It is hoped that other Waterway Managers will follow his example and that 19.

the confrontation, that has at times been of necessity to preserve the integrity of our much cherished waterways, will become a thing of the past and we can now work together for the mutual benefit of the waterways. Furthermore the local Waterway Partnership has recognised the problem and is to look at the whole process as part of its community engagement strategy, in this case the engagement with the waterways community rather than those that live alongside. Being one of the three established Partnerships it is hoped that others will take its recommendations on board and this will not happen again. And finally apparently navigating the waterways is bad for their health, at least that’s what is implied by the results of a recent ‘Stakeholder’ consultation carried out by Birmingham City Council in regards to the outputs of a study that was carried out a few years ago into the movement of Freight along the West Midlands Canals. So who were the ‘Stakeholders’ you may ask, well IWA (who was involved in the production of the original study) and HNBC were not invited and as far as I know it has not been discussed by either the West Midlands Waterway Partnership (i.e. part of CRT) or the West Midlands Canal Partnership (i.e. each local authority in the metropolitan county and key user groups like IWA), so another governmental body that appears to be unaware of what is expected of them when they consult. So who did attend, well the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (a misnomer if there ever was one given that we’re talking about one of the biggest built up areas in England) did, 20.

as did Friends of the Earth, so given the ‘selected’ stakeholders the outcome was perhaps predictable. So we’re left with uncontrolled and growing lorry movements on our local highways, the reduction of which is something that one would have expected both of these organisations to support, and the canals left to a seemingly much reduced leisure traffic this year most probably affected by the as the present economic climate and government cuts on family support incomes, although the appalling weather so far this summer will have undoubtedly made a significant contribution. As a result of the views of the above bodies we now seem destined to continue with uncontrolled and growing lorry movements on our local highways. This seems a strangely ironic suggestion considering the ‘traditional’ stances of these two august bodies. But is this just another example of CRT and its new and supposedly ‘green-lobby’ friends wishing to ‘air-brush’ boats out of the inland waterways scene?

West Midlands Region Committee Meeting

At the meeting on 17 April, Jo Gilbertson from Head Office attended to make an important announcement. Alison Smedley MBE is to join the staff as Branch Campaign Officer. Her role will be to plan and co-ordinate branch work parties, as part of IWA’s ongoing commitment to local campaign work. Alison’s remit is to start working with branches in the Midlands initially, with a view to getting some projects up and running over the summer.  Although Alison is a paid member of Head Office staff, she will be working from home in the Midlands (when not out on site visits and meeting branch volunteers) and will cover the whole network of IWA branches. Summer 2012

Looking back A little bit of history from the Tame Valley Canal Arthur Pagett founded a canal and road haulage business in Perry Barr in the early 1920’s. He purchased a considerable parcel of land between College Road and Perry Well Lock from the canal company at £13 per acre. He moved the business from the Black Country and used the southern towpath, which he leased, to moor and as a loading wharf. He named three of the boats after his sons : Ronald Kenneth, Arthur Robert and Claude. This was a common practice in those days. He also owned a couple of dredgers which he contracted out to the canal company. The dredgings, together with the ash from Moor Lane municipal destructor, in other words, the local incinerator for household dustbin waste, was heaped on a local site nick-named ‘Pagett’s Mountain’.

Decades later when the M6 was built and needed an embankment, the ‘mountain’ was levelled to provide material under the roadway. Another sideline was keeping the canal open in winter, especially the cold one in 1942, his icebreaker would charge up the cut pulled by two horses, with 6 or 8 men aboard rocking it from side to side. As time went on, the road haulage side of the business progressed and a garage was built next to the road bridge. Today there is little sign of the original business, but the canal survives thanks to the use it was put to by men like Arthur Pagett.

Navigation is about to imitate the No. 29 bus : you don’t see one for ages, then two come in quick succession.

E d i t o r’s

Ex c u s e s

Welcome to version 3 of the Summer 2012 issue of Navigation. Sadly versions 1 and 2 did not survive the dreaded virtual shredder - the publications equivalent of the ‘grim reaper’. The story behind the dramatic 11th hour snatch of version 2 out of the very hands of the printer, is still classified. My lips are sealed.

Summer 2012

Due to the wettest “Summer” in history, events were being cancelled sooner than we could publish the announcement that they were going to take place. Even the CRT launch in Birmingham was postponed ! However, we do like to publish four issues per year, so this Summer issue will shortly be followed by the Autumn issue, which traditionally details all the events programs of various branches of IWA, as well as other organisations related to waterways.


S t o ke B



c h C h air m

an r ge Ro ge va Sa

This will be my last report as Chairman as I intend to give up the position from the end of June. My thanks to all those who have helped in the running of the branch since I became Chairman. AGM and Election of Officers I was unable to attend the AGM where Steve Wood and Julie Arnold gave a presentation covering the year’s events. At the April Committee meeting, most officers were re-elected, with new members taking on Membership, Navigation and assisting with Publicity and WoW. Following Vaughan’s question about last 2 years turnover compared to what we hold – Alan has checked and the last 2 years turnover was approximately £5000. We do not think our holdings, much of which is ring-fenced for on-going projects – are unreasonable. It has enabled us to facilitate the organisation of the Etruria Festival for example. Alison is to be congratulated on her appointment as Branch Support Officer. Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partenmership has been awarded £1.89m by HLF. This will lead to a range of projects on the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals, along with others across the wider area. It is expected that they will start in the middle of this year, once the legal formalities have been completed 22.

and appointments made. The Trust officers who have been prominent in taking this project, which is led by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, forward are to be congratulated on this achievement. Maureen Shaw I attended the funeral of Maureen Shaw whose died recently. Over 100 people followed her coffin which was placed on nb Tay, a sister boat to the Spey on which Maureen spent much of her working life, to take her from her home at Wardle Lock to the Town Wharf in Middlewich. Several hundred people attended the service in St. Michael and All Angels church. It was a moving procession and ceremony. The boat was steered by Jim Taylor, BW assisted by John Watson. Gillian and John were thanked by the family for going to great lengths to make this happen. As Gillian said afterwards, “Maureen would have loved it.” A fitting send off to a feisty boating lady. Etruria Canal Festival Arrangements are well in hand. Boat and trade stand bookings are coming in. The Museum building will be open for the Festival; boat entries – more cruising boats than last time and a good entry of working boats; the combined “Join us in June” leaflet will not now be printed – each festival is doing its own thing. The Organisers will be looking to the Branch to fund the manufacture of mugs which will be sold as part of the fund-raising at all three events. Steve Wood has created a website for the festival which has all the booking forms on it: The other two June events are Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival – 16th/17th June organised by Middlewich Town Council and Northwich Boat Festival – 23rd/24th June organised by Chester Branch and River Weaver Society. Summer 2012

President & Kildare representing Staffordshire at Royal Jubilee Thames Pageant. Planning for this event is well advanced. The Industrial Museum premises will be available for the launch. Alison has completed the risk assessment for all three occasions. We need to finalise numbers and names of IWA stewards at the Etruria and Stone events and to liaise with Lichfield Branch over the Fradley event. I have spent several hours helping to arrange catering and parking. The boats will be at each of the venues from 12pm to 2pm: Etruria – 20th April; Stone 21st; Fradley 22nd. The Lord Lieutenant and representatives of the 16 sponsors will attend. Stone. Following the death of John Moss, Karen Wyatt is filling the towpath leaflet boxes and Brian Artis will become the point of contact with the Stone Canal Conservationists. Staffordshire Waterways Group – The meeting on March 15th was well attended. The meeting clarified the objectives and reduced the frequency of meetings; councillors will only attend if there is something specific for their area of responsibility. It is planned to invite Charlotte Atkins to a future meeting once CRT is up and running. There have been a number of positive outcomes from this Group, with a councillor helping to unlock a stalled property matter for L&HCT and discussion about towpaths and working together with CRT. There is a possibility of adapting the detailed cycling maps to include more canal towpath details. Stoke-on-Trent Waterway Partnership There was a meeting held on 13th March where Fiona Huyton reported on the Canal Management Strategy. It has not Summer 2012

yet been decided what legal form this document will take. There will be an Olympics event in Hanley Park on 30th May. The torch arrives at the park that day and leaves the following morning. There will be no formal canal event but boaters are welcome to turn up. Burslem Port up-date Most of the work at the moment is behind the scenes, renewing contacts and developing our presentation. An inspector from English Heritage examined the wharf buildings and is to suggest surveyors with the right expertise to evaluate the property. Geraint Coles is to come to Stoke in May to help facilitate progress with landowners and council. We have learnt that the Developers of the Slater Street site are not now expecting to start work for another 12 months. A “Factory Nights” event is planned for April 21st. Trent & Mersey Canal Society. Arrangements have been made for attending the Etruria Festival and Mercia Marina Open Day in July. A new web-site has been launched with over 4000 hits in the first months. Cheshire Locks Campaign The branch has been making progress with this and some dates have now been fixed for work parties on the flight. Work parties will take place Saturday 18th August, Tuesday 18th September, Saturday 20th October and Tuesday 20th November. Each session will start at 10 am and finish by 4pm. Tasks will include vegetation clearance from walls and bridges, removing weeds and grass from cobble setts and painting handrails, balance beams and bollards. For further information contact Alison Smedley ( 01538 385388 or 07779 090915. 23.

ke Mi se or Mo Throughout April and as I looked out of my window across the canal, it was raining – again! I was listening to the radio and they said that there was now officially a drought in the West Midlands – ever since it seems to have rained every day. This takes me back to the long hot summer of ’76 – Denis Howell was appointed as the Minister for Drought – it then rained virtually continuously for two weeks! Seriously though, there is a severe water shortage this year. I have been keeping an eye on BW’s Reservoir Watch on their website and some reservoirs in the southern half of the country are desperately low, whereas in the north they are overflowing. Common sense needs to prevail when we go boating, on narrow locks adopt a one up one down practise, and on wide locks wait and share if you can, also, do you really need to travel so far each day? A shorter trip can be just as enjoyable, moor up and explore the local countryside. I know it may seem a bit tedious at times, especially if you arrive at a flight of locks just after they have closed for the day, but, surely, it is better to be able to cruise for a short while than not at all. As for Lichfield Branch, our winter programme of public meetings and talks concluded with a very interesting talk by Brian Draper on The Wildlife of the River Severn. Public meetings and talks resume after the summer 24.

break on September 19th with a talk by Tom Kitching on Restoring a Wooden Narrowboat. Just to keep you interested, though, we are having evening walks in May and June, firstly an evening walk on May 16th along the route of the proposed Stafford Riverway Link, and then on the evening of June 20th a circular walk around Rugeley to include part of the Trent and Mersey Canal Towpath. There will also be some of our regular Thursday daytime walks. Details of all these events can be found on our website and will also be found on your new programme cards that should be included with this issue of Navigation. I am now going to make an appeal to you all, apart from our winter public meetings and walks, is there anything else you would like us to try and arrange for you? Last year we organised a trip through Dudley Tunnel followed by a meal at Ma Pardoes, can we do anything else on these lines. Anyone fancy a trip down the Manchester Ship Canal, or a boat trip on the River Severn? Or, maybe, a coach trip to explore the River Severn or Avon or Wye? Just let me or any other committee member know what you would like to do and we will see if it is feasible. Another appeal (or maybe two!) – we will soon be looking at a venue for our Christmas Meal (I know – it is not even summer yet and I am thinking of Christmas but you have to plan ahead) – last year we went to the Oddfellows in The Boat, any suggestions for this year would be appreciated. Also, we are always on the lookout for suitable venues for holding our public meetings. Whilst the present meeting place at College Hall meets our needs, it is not the cheapest place, once again, if Summer 2012

anyone has any ideas for suitable meeting places, preferably in Lichfield area, please let me know and I will take a look at them. Next, I am hopefully not going to bore you too much by telling you about our summer plans. Jenny and I will be setting off on n.b. GUELROSE at the beginning of June, heading for London. Hopefully we will be able to get there, but, water supply is a problem as I have already said. Our preferred route is the Grand Union, straight down to Bulls Bridge and then along the Paddington Arm to Little Venice. The alternative is longer and more expensive (Thames licence required) which means cruising down to Oxford and then along the Thames. Why, you may ask, am I thinking about heading south when there is no water down there? Well, following on from a successful Waterways Festival at Burton on Trent in 2011, the Waterspace Team, comprising of Dave Pullen, Pat Barton, and myself, were approached by British Waterways, and asked if we could manage moorings in London for boats attending the Olympics. Basically, BW are renting out moorings for boaters who wish to moor in London and attend the Olympics. BW were so impressed with our management of waterspace at Waterways Festivals over the years, that they asked us to manage the moorings in London. Pat Barton and I will be based at Little Venice for eight weeks to cover the Olympics and Paralympics and have a team of other boaters (all with a Festival background) covering six mooring sites in London. By the time we get down to London, stay in London for eight weeks and get back (water supply permitting) it will be towards the end of September – where does the time go? Summer 2012

Finally, when we go cruising, I try to keep a blog updated of our travels and anything else of interest, if you want to see where we are and what we are up to just log onto www.nbguelrose.blogspot. com Well, that’s about it for now, see you all in September. MM

Postscript : It’s worth a visit to Mike’s blog to see his £5M property neighbours (for 10 weeks) on the Regents Canal, and to read how he dropped his dongle in the canal. Something for future archaeologists to find in centuries to come ?

Enjoy the Olympic Games it could be a long while before they return to our shores.


Alan Trevis Smith MBE 17th September 1932 - 28th May 2012 It is with very great sadness that we report the death of Alan Trevis Smith MBE on 28th May 2012 at the age of 79. He died at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, after a long period of heart problems, his wife Sheila was at his side. The funeral was on 15th June 2012 at Stourbridge Crematorium. Alan’s first involvement with canals began in 1960 when he bought a small cabin cruiser. Bitten by the canal bug in 1963 he purchased the 1913 ex Fellows Morton & Clayton narrow boat “Laurel” found sunk at Hartshill on the Coventry Canal, which he converted over the next few years. With his family he cruised most of the system available to a 70 foot boat. He was involved in the restoration of the derelict Stourbridge canal and served as chairman of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Society from 1971 to 1974 and president from1980 to 1981. During his period as chairman, British Waterways were misguided enough to demolish one of the original Brindley bridges over the canal at Ebstree in October 1973, This was because the dredger driver was off sick and they had to find the rest of the gang something to do. Alan was also a leading light in the Stourbridge Navigation Trust which saved the Bonded Warehouse at Stourbridge from being bulldozed into the canal to expedite the construction of a car park. As a member of the Dudley Canal Trust he was active in the restoration of the Dudley Canal and Tunnel and was vice chairman of the TRAD (Tunnel Reopening At Dudley) committee in 1973. He played an important role in excavating, recording and ultimately floating, the remains of a boat found in the 26.

Dudley limestone mines in 1988. He has continued to support the Trust and served as president for many years until his death. Beyond canals his interests included anything that could be described as industrial archaeology including water and wind mills, steam engines, railways and mines. He was the founding chairman of the canal advisory panel of the fledgling Black Country Museum in the 1970s and the founding chairman of the West Midlands Historic Building Trust in the 1980s. He served on the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council for 24 years. At the end of his service with IWAAC he was awarded the MBE for services to canals in the New Years Honours of 1998, which was a long way from being threatened with prison for the role he played in the battle of the Stourbridge Canal in 1962. Even when he was too ill to be physically active he couldn’t rest, and was busy compiling a book of photographs and old postcards of his beloved Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at the time of his death. This was to be published by Lapal Publications which he ran with Dr Ian Langford. He made an indelible impression on all who met him. His knowledge of canals was encyclopaedic and he could always be depended on to find the historical fact or photograph that eluded everyone else. He has left us a great legacy, and a vacuum that will not be easily filled by lesser men. His passing marks the end of an era. He leaves his widow Sheila, children Heather, David and Paul and grandchildren Sophie and Matthew.

Summer 2012

Contacts The next issue, No. 2012-3 is due to be published in September 2012. Your contributions and comments should be sent to the Editor, Allan Gilbert, by 1st August 2012. Please submit your news, comments, letters, photographs and articles to : Contact : 0121 682 4230

WEST MIDLANDS R E G I O N Chairman Vaughan Welch, 3 Beach Close, Northfield, Birmingham B31 3DB Tel. 0121 477 9782 Mob : 07971 202406 e-mail : Secretary Brian Kingshott, Park Cottage, Hopton Castle, Craven Arms, Shropshire SY7 0QF Tel: 01547 530457 Mob: 07831 572642 e-mail : The Region is made up of these four branches : BIRMINGHAM,BLACK COUNTRY AND WORCESTERSHIRE BRANCH Chairman

Dave A Pearson Netherton Cottage 2 Netherton Lane, Bewdley DY12 1PT Tel. 01299 404273 or Mobile 0752 7197842 - note : this may be changing to Secretary Beckie Smith-Kearny


Chairman To be announced

Secretary Alison Smedley Hazelhurst Cottage, Denford, Leek ST13 7JT Tel. 01538 385388

Summer 2012

LICHFIELD BRANCH Chairman Mike Moorse Narrowboat Guelrose, Otters Holt, Lichfield Road, Hopwas, Staffordshire B78 3AE Tel. 07799 140068 Secretary Kaye Harrison 01952 814753

WARWICKSHIRE BRANCH Chairman Ian Jackson 20 Daventry Road, Barby, Rugby, CV23 8TR Tel. 01788 891545 Secretary Tina Jackson 20 Daventry Road, Barby, Rugby, CV23 8TR Tel. 01788 891545





st Midlands R e W eg A. . io a g i t i v .W o a n

President and Kildare at Fradley Junction on 22 April 2012 The narrowboats, sponsored by the Lord Lt. of Staffordshire to represent the county in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames, stopped for two hours at this media event - full story on pages 5/6.

‘Navigation’ has been in continuous publication for over 50 years. We aim to bring readers a variety of items of local interest, news of forthcoming events and provide a local contact with IWA. We try to avoid unnecessary repetition of items printed in other waterways publications, but certain important issues may be mentioned to raise awareness. Primarily for the benefit of our members, Navigation is also distributed in a limited way for non-members to pick up and gain an insight into what’s happening in the Region and the aims and activities of the Association. Membership of the IWA is open to everyone and companies and organisations can have ‘corporate membership’.

Issue No. 2012-2

Summer 2012

IWA West Midlands Summer 2012 Newsletter  

IWA West Midlands Summer 2012 Newsletter