CHELMSFORD B RA N C H N
Preston Brook Bridgewater Canal by John Carlaw
Campaigning for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the Inland Waterways Disclaimer: The IWA may not agree with opinions expressed in this Newsletter but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed herein may be construed as policy or official announcement unless stated otherwise. The IWA accepts no liability for any matter in the Newsletter
Content From the Editor Donations From the Chairman From the Regional Chairman A Gift Goings Wharf Christmas Social 2013 The Mid-Week Working Parties John Heap Salver Branch Working Parties Storms Along the C & BN
Page 2 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 6 Page 6 Page 6 Page 7
Susan in Dry Dock Social Events AGM Volunteers Our Weekend A Trip Another Canal Camp Seven Mile Walk Just For Fun Branch Committee
Page 8 Page 9 Page 9 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 14
From The Editor With the stormy end to 2013 and the general first shipping forecast of 2014 of ‘severe gale force 9 veering southwesterly and increasing storm force 10 later’. The local Thames forecast being ‘Wind: South or southwesterly 7 to severe gale 9, increasing storm 10 for a time, Sea State: Rough or very rough, becoming very rough or high, Weather: Rain or squally showers, Visibility: Good, occasionally poor’. With the pressure dropping, it seems that a number of duvet days are called for. Whilst hiding under the covers think of those articles, photographs and information about your canal, boating, Navigation adventures that you would like to share with the other branch members. Your membership is very important. We need your continued support to the Chelmsford Branch and Inland Waterways Association but most importantly for the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation which is operated by the Inland Waterways Association’s subsidiary company, Essex Waterways Ltd. We would like to increase our contributors to this Newsletter please make time to look out your photos, articles and ideas and send them in for our next Newsletter: Last inputs for Spring Newsletter 21/03/2014. For those on e-mail please send your input to email@example.com Those without just give me a call to arrange for collection. 07837 576464.
Wishing you and your families a very happy and prosperous 2014. John G Carlaw
Donations Over the course of the year members bring foil, aluminium drink cans or other non-ferrous metals to our social meetings. Roy Cox then takes them away and sells them to his local scrap dealer. Then just before Christmas he brings a cheque to boost the Branch funds. This year we received £65. Not to be outdone by her husband, Sylvia Cox saves pennies and this year it came to £7. Our sincere thanks go to Roy and Sylvia who have been doing this for many years now.
From The Chairman A very happy new year and wishing you good conditions to enjoy whatever aspect of our waterways interests you is my wish for the coming year. It occurs to me that you might wonder what sort of things are discussed at committee meetings, which take place six times a year, weather permitting, at Paper Mill. Everybody is able to report on their area of responsibility, of course, and issues are sometimes raised which need a lot of discussion but there are quiet times in the year when meetings are over pretty quickly. In the last couple of meetings, subjects raised include requirements for tools to be bought for volunteers on the Navigation, with the proceeds from Kirsten’s harp concert and a Section 106 money transfer for work on the Indigo Wharf wall in Springfield Basin. Section 106 of the planning regulations can be very useful when the nNavigation is affected in some way by development proposals and Roy Chandler is a past master at negotiations in this area. The loss of contractors working on piling the locks repairs was a problem that he and EWL have had to deal with, together with the fact that there have been delays to the wall repairs at Indigo Wharf. The very severe storm / hurricane seriously affected work on the Navigation, especially as some forty trees came down and had to be dealt with. Kirsten is hoping to discover how interested her school’s 16 - 18 year olds would be in taking on a waterways project and we discussed what form this project might take, as well as the legal and social implications of different activities; for example, advice might have to be sort about insurance matters. Those of you who are particularly interested in the progress of the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust might like to know that at the last AGM. it was decided that “complete physical restoration..... would no longer be the Trust’s main priority”. BW had to withdraw funding that would otherwise have been forthcoming. The cost of full restoration would today be eleven million and we are told that health and safety considerations would make it necessary to replace that main cables of the lift every two years, at a cost £30,000 each year - this, in addition to the regular maintenance. The FIPT will now use funds already raised for the improvement and enhancement of the “visitor experience”: if you go to Foxton (a trip well worth taking,) look out for the difference. Finally, if you are able to give a talk, show a set of slides or a video, do let the committee know. Our most recent booked speaker was, at the last moment, unable to be with us and reserves had to be called into play, in the form of videos of the Navigation, supplied by Roy Chandler. There is always the need for someone who is prepared to step into the breach! Molly Beard
From The Regional Chairman Winter 13/14 Sitting down in the dark days of winter, the summer and the opportunity to go boating seems a long way off. Certainly with all the rain we have had so far this winter we should not have a lack of water this year! This year I will have completed three years as your Region Chairman and will be coming up for re-election. IWA being a democratic organisation gives you a say who leads the Region and if you would like a chance to become the Region Chairman please look out for the call for nominations in Waterways later in the year. In previous Region Chairman’s notes I have talked about the role of the Trustees and some of the Associations major committees. I thought this time I would talk a little about the work of the branches and regions. Most people are familiar with the social meetings and work parties organised by the branch committee. This is the public face of the local IWA but what you may be less familiar with is the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to protect the canals in your area. The branch committee regularly works with, and lobbies, CRT on a range of issues from the standard of maintenance of structures to cutting of vegetation and general cleanliness of the canals in your local area. They also monitor planning applications and lobby local authorities and developers for changes where they feel that the development would be detrimental to the canal or its environs. Your Branch does a lot of work supporting the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. The Region carries out a coordination role to ensure that all branches across London are working together and have a common approach when dealing with CRT and regional authorities like the GLA. Finally both the Region and Branches raise funds to allow them to make donations to appropriate waterway causes that support IWA’s objectives. Last year I set the objective for the London Region to find a solution to the mooring problems in London. I have to report that so far we have failed to achieve this. We are still having regular meetings with local resident boaters without a home mooring who wish to stay in a narrow geographic area, CRT and our friends in RBOA and NABO under the auspices of The London Waterways Better Relationships Group. This year the GLA produced a report on the problem which was generally supportive of our position. There has been some progress, CRT have started, in Central London, to clearly mark bollards for use by boats operating locks by painting them yellow. This should help eliminate the dangerous practice of mooring on lock landings. The Better Relationship Group is now moving on to consider the use of designated visitor moorings. We will keep up the pressure to find a way forward. Finally as I said last year we always need volunteers to help us run events such as Cavalcade, and to carry out the numerous activities that helps IWA’s continuing campaign to ensure our waterways prosper. Paul Strudwick
A Gift to Chelmsford Branch I am delighted to tell you that the Branch has received a beautiful, signed piece of craftsmanship. A good many years ago, a gavel was presented to the then Chairman, who used it regularly. Then it disappeared, never to be seen again, and we have had to manage without one - not always the easiest task when you are all feeling very chatty. We have now been presented with a rather special new gavel and block made by Roy Cox, a former Chairman. When the Blisworth Tunnel was closed for repairs, effectively cutting the Grand Union in half, it was relined in part with concrete pre-formed sections. In-addition to the concrete, thousands of wooden plugs, I am told, had to be inserted in the appropriate holes. They were made of ash, a lovely hard wood, still used these days for tool handles. ("Essex Girl" was lined with ash). When Roy was up in the Blisworth area, he was able to acquire several of those plugs and made the first of our gavels with one of them. With great skill he has now produced a new gavel with the second plug. It has a cherrywood handle and an oak block. The gavel and block are lovely to handle and both are signed and dated by Roy. How appropriate that such an artifact should find a new use by the IWA Molly Beard
Goings Wharf Heybridge The recent refurbishment of a canal side warehouse in Heybridge has seen the large building close to Wave Bridge completely re-clad in black metal sheeting in readiness for its new role as a ‘white goods’ warehouse! Also particularly noticeable from the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation is the revealing of the original wharf that served the site, complete with original stone copings.
Early maps show that this site was originally part of the adjoining Goings Wharf, a brick built warehouse that still stands alongside Wave Bridge. The site was also previously part of the large Bentall’s iron foundry complex famous for the production of his revolutionary broadshare plough. The Navigation was used to transport materials and goods for operations here. A 1908 postcard shows the site prior to the construction of the modern warehouse and makes an interesting comparison with the recent photo.
This was completely hidden by self sown trees and vegetation that were growing from the wharf and canal and have now been removed by the developers because they were unsafe.
Christmas Social. 2013
The Chelmsford Branch of IWA held their Christmas Social on Thursday 12th December. It was very nice to see a large crowd and some new faces. The evening started with a few technical problems which sent Adam and Kirsten off to the shops to buy some leads for the laptop! Molly decided we could start helping ourselves to the Christmas buffet so we very happily filled our plates with tasty savories provided by all the party goers. Very soon the evening’s presentation was ready. Tony Plunket showed us a DVD on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant. This was a polished presentation giving the audience historical information about the craft as well as excellent views of the Thames and those participating in the pageant. So much better than the television coverage at the time! The weather was terrible that day as Roy and I remember! We stood for hours in the crowd in the relentless drizzle and then heavy rain. It was all worth it, an amazing spectacle! Re-living the event in the warmth of Moulsham Mill was very enjoyable. After Tony’s presentation we had the chance to ask questions and then it was time for a second helping of food including some delicious cakes. Sylvia Cox had her lovely Christmas cake on show and this was soon cut and handed round. There were lots of raffle prizes to be won and everyone had a very enjoyable evening. Thanks to Jean Maxwell for organizing the speaker and to Molly and Stephanie for arranging the food and drinks
Chris Chandler 5
The Mid-Week Working Parties A fairly mixed bag of jobs have been done this time. These ranged from cutting back overhanging branches, to the last of the year’s mowing. We’ve also done some litter picking, rescued two bikes from Springfield Lock, and assisted the WRG Canal Camp by driving dumpers and an excavator. We’ve acted as banksmen on the towpath while willows were being felled (this was to avoid squashing any pedestrians under the falling trees). We have also moved a lot of chippings and spread them on muddy parts of towpath. John Gale
John Heap Salver The October Branch Social Meeting saw Paul Strudwick, IWA London Region Chairman, present Roy Chandler with the IWA John Heap Salver. The salver is awarded annually to the person who, in the opinion of the Trustees, has made an outstanding contribution to raising funds for the Association. The Trustees cited Roy as having raised over £1 million of funding for the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation which has been operated by IWA’s subsidiary company, Essex Waterways Ltd. Paul said that the actual figure raised, including work funded and carried out by others was nearer £3 million. The salver is awarded annually and was first presented in 1966. Roy’s name joins a list engraved on the salver which includes many well known waterway supporters.
Branch Working Party The first weekend in December saw a joint two day working party between Essex WRG and Chelmsford Branch on the Chelmer & Blackwater. There was also a welcome contingent from the Sandford Boat Club and two members of IWA Head Office staff as well as two of Essex Waterways' staff. As most of those present belonged to more than one of the participating organisations, it was difficult to know who was wearing which hat.
There were several jobs to be done. The main one, with the aid of a three ton excavator, was to level some ground alongside the towpath ready for seeding with grass and planting some willows. There was masses of rubbish to move as well: lots of timber and rusty sheets of corrugated iron.
Another job was to create a safe space to have future bonfires. The final job was collecting, barrowing and spreading wood chippings on the first half of the muddy path between Hall Bridge and the Lakes. This was a journey that started off with a few yards to push wheelbarrows and ended with a quarter of a mile. The weather was kind to us and all the jobs were successfully completed. The next joint working party is on 1st and 2nd March. If you feel like joining us, contact Roy Chandler on firstname.lastname@example.org or myself on 01376 334896 a couple of weeks before that date.
Storms Along The C&BN The recent storm force winds brought down around forty trees along the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Particularly badly hit was the lower end of the waterway around Heybridge and Maldon.
Many of the fallen trees were willows, although a large oak below Hoe Mill will be removed to a local saw mill for conversion into sawn oak beams for heritage work.
At Freshwater Crescent, Heybridge, several mature willows were blown right over and fortunately fell across the Navigation rather than towards the nearby houses. The wrenched root systems did however cause damage to the adjoining footpath in several places.
Essex Waterways staff quickly cleared a navigation channel along the waterway and reopened the tow paths, although total clearance of all trees will take longer. Photos show some of the fallen trees.
Contractors were called in to assist Essex Waterways staff remove the whole row of willows here for use for cricket bat making. Several large piles of logs and wood chippings were left for use elsewhere and the volunteers are dealing with these.
Roy Â Chandler
need of replacement, ownership was transferred to the Passmore Edwards Museum in the London Borough of Newham to enable repair work to take place.
Susan in Dry Dock Susan, the sole remaining timber Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation lighter is now in the dry dock at St Osyth boatyard and the second phase of her restoration is underway. Built in 1953, her design follows that of earlier horse drawn lighters which from 1797 carried a variety of commercial cargoes between Chelmsford and Heybridge Basin. These lighters were of a totally different design from those found elsewhere on the canal system. The design is believed to be based on that of lighters which were already in use on the Blackwater estuary and therefore pre-date the Navigation. Susan was the first lighter on the C&BN to be fitted with an inboard engine and her heritage is acknowledged by her inclusion on the National Register of Historic Vessels. Julie, a later steel built Chelmer & Blackwater lighter also survives powered by a Harbourmaster outboard engine. She was re-plated by Essex Waterways in 2005 and is used as a maintenance barge on the Navigation.
In 1991 Susan was donated by the Passmore Edwards Museum to Chelmsford Museums. She was brought to Sandford Mill near Chelmsford where she remained as a working exhibit crewed and maintained with the help of the Chelmer Lighter Preservation Society members.
Susan has now spent longer in preservation than in her original working life and her survival is without doubt due to the several enthusiastic owning groups who have ensured her repair and preservation. Originally built for and owned by Brown & Son, timber merchants in Chelmsford, she became redundant in 1972 when commercial traffic ceased on the Navigation. She was then used by the Navigation Company as a maintenance barge. In 1976 the Chelmsford Branch of IWA purchased Susan to prevent her being broken up.
In 2005 Chelmsford Borough Council realised that Susan needed considerable repair work in order to keep her afloat and operational and proposed to make her a land based dry exhibit. It was realised by the several organisations that had been involved with Susan that this would be the beginning of the end for the vessel. The Susan Trust was therefore formed, bringing together Chelmsford Museums, The Chelmer Lighter Preservation Trust, The Chelmer Canal Trust and The Inland Waterways Association. The ownership of Susan was transferred to the Trust along with a sum of £25,000 from the Council towards her preservation. Since this time, The Susan Trust has raised a further £45,000 towards the restoration, moved her down the Navigation and onto St Osyth where Phase 1 of the restoration replaced the main keelson, in-order to prevent her back breaking. This time greenheart timber was used instead of the softwood of the previous keel. Chelmsford IWA has donated £5,000 towards the restoration and is very keen to see her operating on the Navigation once again.
In 1979 The Chelmer Lighter Preservation Society was formed to purchase Susan and preserve her in working order. The Society raised adequate funds to buy back the original Thorneycroft engine from the Navigation Company and reinstall it. In 1984, when the main keel and other structural timbers were in 8
Susan in Dry Dock (cont.)
Every now and then we have late changes to our social program. I try to let everyone know, but this has to be done by e mail. I realise this means a few people will not be able to receive them, but if you are on e mail, but not yet on the IWA members data base, and would like to be, if you let me know I will hand on your request.
Phase 2 of the restoration involves replacing some of the oak ‘floors’ (joists supporting the bottom planking), the side ribs, side keelsons, side planking and doubling the bottom planking. The Susan Trust still needs to raise around £15,000 to complete Phase 2 and now has the dilemma that this current phase needs to be completed to make Susan watertight so that she can leave the dry dock.
Jean.Maxwell@waterways.org.uk Feb 13th Dr Phillipa Noon, the River Manager of Conservators of The River Cam, will be talking about her work Mar 13th AGM plus speaker Les Etheridge (currently IWA National Chairman) 3rd Apr Jimmy Lawrence will provide a talk call ‘it Wasn’t Always Summer’ May 8th Tim Whitlock will be talking about Canal Art
The final phases of the restoration will complete the side decks, provide a cover and an educational exhibition that will travel with Susan to events along the Navigation. Susan will be based at Sandford Mill and will again be an important working exhibit whilst also operating on the Navigation. Roy Chandler
We do hope to see you at these meetings
Stop The Press April 5th Public art installation and Boat Gathering, Indigo Wharf, Springfield Basin Chelmsford
Please put a note in your diary that the Region AGM’ will be on the 12th March at Croydon. More details will be sent out.
Volunteers Essex Waterways has many useful and willing volunteers who assist on both a regular basis or for specific projects. These include several with very useful skills or qualifications such as excavator drivers, chainsaw operators, electricians and structural engineer. The current project programme would benefit greatly from the services of a plumber. If you have such skills and are willing to assist, we would be very pleased to hear from you. Roy Chandler
crafts, accessories, books, food, drink, cakes, icecream and of course the marina shop. The beer tent was popular and provided varied musical entertainment. It was lovely to see Timothy West & Prunella Scales (wearing traditional canal clothes) wandering around among the visitors and stalls, allowing some to take their photo.
Our weekend at the 11th Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally & Canal Festival
Having a love of the canals and narrowboating and especially an interest in the historic narrowboats, we finally managed to coordinate time off and camping near Braunston while the rally was being held this year. We arrived at the Marina on the Saturday morning in time for the Opening Ceremony which included the Fellows, Morton & Clayton steam narrowboat President with butty Kildare, on board were Timothy West & Prunella Scales, with music played by a local Salvation Army band.
The rally is free but there was a charge for car parking, for which profits were going to canal and local causes. We had a fabulous time at the rally and took many photos - all of boats!, and supported quite a few of the stalls and marina shop!! Getting up close and personal to some of the boats i found myself covered in soot at the end of the day!! It really is a good festival and rally - anyone who would fancy it next year it will be held on the weekend of 28-29 June 2014. We may be back again ourselves!
A parade of all the historic boats followed, some to reverse into the marina and moor in the marina arm, and some cruising past the marina entrance to turn around at Braunston Turn, return to enter the marina and pass through the marina to exit back onto the Grand Union to moor - this was done with precision and expertise on the day, however the commentator did say it had not always been the case at previous rallies!!
Stephanie Mason & John Grieve
The commentator gave a good history about each boat passing into the marina, some information included engines which had been kept in kitchens (and long suffering partners!), one engine had been rescued from the flower bed! For those boat owners who had not provided the boat information the boat was described as a 'Springer with a seagull engine and well turned out!' (no offence to any Springer owners) much to the amusement of the crowds, and the people on the boats in question!! The weather was lovely, and the rally well attended by a mixture of people, families and dogs. There was plenty to keep you busy exploring the exhibitions, trade stands, canal societies and stalls, with varied 10
The engine was switched off and we carried quietly on under sail with several guests taking turns at the wheel, before turning about.
A Trip on the Thames Sailing Barge ‘Kitty’ On Friday 8th November an IWA associated walking group came to Essex for a weekend to explore the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and enjoy a sailing trip on the Thames Barge ‘Kitty’. The group numbered about thirty and included Clive Henderson, the recently retired Chairman of IWA, and his wife Helen. They had previously visited the C&BN when Clive was Chairman. Roy and I met the group on the quay at Maldon and soon boarded the ‘Kitty’. This was to be her last trip of the season and as the skipper welcomed us I looked at the bright sky to the west and then to the black sky to the east! At least it was calm and mild and the surface of the incoming tide was smooth with hardly a ripple.
On the return trip some of the sails were hoisted, but as the weather deteriorated, we motored back. As we approached Hythe Quay the sails were lowered and we all admired the skipper skillfully turn ‘Kitty’ and safely moor her up. A wet end to a very enjoyable trip, made all the more interesting by the recent Branch social talks by Jimmy Lawrence. Kitty Facts: One of 37 barges built by J & H Cann at Gas House Creek, Harwich, Kitty was built in 1895. Cann’s were renowned for both high quality workmanship and a reputation for building fast vessels. Kitty has won several East Coast Barge races over many years.
After safety instructions we descended to the cosy warmth of the lounge where we were served with coffee whilst we waited for more members of the group to arrive.
Kitty is 27 metres in length, with a 6.5 metre beam; she is massively build on oak frames and floors and double clad in 3 and 4 inch pitch pine. She still has her original pine keelson measuring 0.4 metres square and 23 metres long. Her spritsail rig has a sail area of almost 3000sq feet and her gross tonnage is 79 tons and when in trade was capable of carrying a cargo of 150 tons. Her draught is 1.5 metres.
During lunch we soon felt the gentle rocking of the barge as the tide lifted her off her berth. Back up on deck we all gazed at the picturesque view of the Hythe and the Promenade as we left the mooring and motored against the tide, down Coliers Reach, towards Northey Island.
Kitty was not fitted with an engine until the early Eighties. She remains fully capable of sailing with her unique and authentic spars and sails. An extensive and continuing restoration programme has been undertaken since 1990 in order to restore and upgrade her to her current glory. Restoration work has included re-planking her sides and deck plus designing a comfortable bar area and main saloon. Kitty is one of the oldest barges sailing and is on the official list of historic ships. She is available for charter.
It was a new experience to see the entrance to the lock at Heybridge Basin, the bright red navigation light, the lock house and the familiar buildings near the lock. However, the black clouds were creeping up and soon the cowards amongst us dived for cover as the rain and hail drenched the decks. During the rest of the trip we alternated between sheltering from the rain and venturing up on deck to distinguish the local landmarks. We motored on towards Osea Island and could see Bradwell Power Station and wind turbines beyond on the horizon.
Chris Chandler 11
Another Canal Camp on the C&BN
Planeings arrived on a daily basis and bank clearing and path laying continued. By midweek we decided to call upon our volunteer Nigel as another digger driver in order to speed up the work. As an extremely experienced driver, Nigel soon pointed out that we needed a larger excavator. A swop was quickly arranged, replacing one mini-digger for a larger machine, which under Nigel’s control was able to carry out the excavations for the whole path width with a single bucket width, and speed up the dumper loading.
The third and final 2013 Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camp on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation involved twenty volunteers who were provided with accommodation at the Danbury Outdoor Centre. The usual and favourite camp accommodation at the Haybay barge at Heybridge Basin was not available for the spring or autumn camps, but the facilities at Danbury are as good, albeit land based, and there is still a pub a few minutes away!
Being close to Chelmer Village and to Chelmsford, this is a well used section of tow path and it was the local residents who had requested the path was improved. It was not therefore a surprise that throughout the week there were many favourable comments made by passing public about the great improvement that was being made.
Work for this camp was between Barnes Mill and Bundocks Bridge at Sandford. Essex Waterways’ staff and volunteers had recently laid a new informal surface to the tow path between Sandford Lock and Bundocks Bridge, and just beyond this. The plan was to continue this work up to Barnes Mill. Essex County Council had agreed to provide the recycled road planeings and Chelmsford City Council had made a grant available for plant hire. The camp would provide the labour.
Considerable progress was made during the week at each end of the path, but it was not possible to complete the whole section. Essex Waterways will therefore arrange a further week of work before the spring involving its own staff and regular volunteers to complete the work.
The volunteers arrived late Saturday afternoon to a welcoming evening meal and a series of briefings about the camp, the work and of course safety. No doubt the nearby pub was sampled after this. On Sunday the two WRG mini buses took the group to Barnes Mill, where they were met by Eve Sulivan, Essex Waterways’ lengthsperson who was to spend the week on site with the camp. The day was spent clearing vegetation along the bank to improve access ready for the path laying.
Our thanks go to all those who attended the camp and to our regular volunteers for their help and of course Eve for her role in being the EWL representative. The board of Essex Waterways Ltd has reluctantly decided not to host Canal Camps during 2014 as the availability of suitable accommodation and the cost of this is proving difficult to resolve. It is however hoped that the camps will return in 2015. There will be a series of joint Essex Waterway Recovery Group and Chelmsford Branch IWA work parties during 2014. The first of these will be on 1st and 2nd March (contact John Gale 01376 334896).
Monday morning saw the arrival of two mini-diggers and two skip loaders closely followed by ten tonnes of road planeings. Chris, the camp leader had been trained to operate dumpers, but aware that the camp had a shortage of ‘ticketed’ operators for the plant, Bob Crow, one of our regular volunteer drivers agreed to join it and John Gale and Wendy also assisted on several days.
Seven Mile Circular Walk On Sunday 10th November Roy and I met the visiting IWA walking group at the Museum of Power car park at Langford. It was a bright, sunny morning as we began our walk beside Langford Cut parallel to The River Blackwater. We stopped at Beeleigh Falls to show the group this picturesque scene of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation meeting the tidal River Chelmer. We then walked past the Navigation flood gate and onto the tow path that takes you along the manmade part of the Navigation. After passing the golf course, which now has a ‘Tea Room Open’ sign on the tow path, we came across one of the many trees that had fallen during the recent storm. The main part of the tree had been cleared from the Navigation and the tow path by EWL’s lengthsmen.
As we walked on towards Heybridge Basin we trudged through some very muddy patches of towpath and were glad to reach the more recently improved surfaces along the Long Pond. It was great to see other walkers, including families with young children, and canoeists enjoying the sun and fresh air. We all gathered at the sea wall at Heybridge Basin and said our farewells to the group and to Helen and Clive Henderson. They had arranged a Sunday lunch at The Bell in Danbury before setting off to their homes. Roy and I then set off along the sea wall footpath back to Beeleigh. We walked round the lake nature reserve and recent housing until we reached The Causeway in Heybridge. We picked up the footpath again near Tesco’s and walked along the sea wall, past the other side of the golf course, and back to Beeleigh Lock. A very enjoyable seven mile circular walk. Maldon District Council publishes guides on the ‘North Blackwater Trail’ and the ‘Maldon Maritime Trail’ both incorporate sections of the route we walked. The Council also has leaflets on ‘Elm Farm Park’ and ‘Oak Tree Meadow’ which are alongside this section of the Navigation. Elm Farm Park is also the start of the Blackwater Rail Trail which is the route of the former Maldon to Witham railway. Essex County Council has a leaflet on this route. The tow path from Chapmans Bridge (by the golf course) to Heybridge Basin is a public bridleway where cycling is allowed. Several sections of this have been surfaced since Essex Waterways has been responsible for the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Chris Chandler
Just For Fun SUDOKU Fill in the grid so that each row, column and 3 x 3 block contains the numbers one to nine (1 - 9) 1
1 8 3
Branch Committee If you have any topics or subject that you wish to bring to the committees attention please use the contact details below Molly Beard:
Vice Chairman & Treasurer.
24 Longleaf Drive, Braintree CM7 1XS
London Region Chairman.
Planning and Conservation.
Newsletter and Membership.
Social and Fundraising.
Branch Web Editor.
January 2014 edition of the newsletter for IWA Chelmsford Branch