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1 to attempt (eg the fulfilment of an obligation) by exertion of effort; 2 archaic to strive to achieve or reach ~ vi to make an effort to do something n a serious determined effort

Northampton Branch Newsletter - November 2015


Actors and waterway enthusiasts Timothy West and Prunella Scales officially open the Festival of Water at Becket’s Park. On the right is IWA Northampton Branch Chairman Bernard Morton. Report and more pictures from page 20 The IWA was founded in 1946 to campaign for the retention, restoration and development of Britain’s navigable waterways and for their fullest commercial and recreational use. The IWA is a registered Charity (no. 212342) , whose work is supported by members’ subscriptions.



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EDITORIAL MUSINGS We hear a lot these days about “local heroes” – for example, volunteers involved in good causes. They come in all shapes and sizes across the age range, many deservedly picking up awards along the way. The waterways scene, nationwide, is well populated by such people, invariably shunning recognition until it is forced upon them. Indeed, where would all the restoration schemes be without this indefatigable breed of people? Precisely nowhere. On our patch, I would suggest, we have a prime example of such a person. Look no further than the Buckingham Canal Society and the long-time driving force behind this group of canal restorers – Athina Beckett. A lot of you will know Athina well. For many years she has been a regular attender at our Branch Boat Gatherings and also at our monthly social meetings. She is also a familiar face at other local waterway events with the Society’s well-stocked sales and promotional stand. Well, in October, Athina stepped a little more into the limelight (by default, actually) as speaker at the Branch social meeting at the Walnut Tree Inn at Blisworth. She was a late deputy for advertised speaker David Blagrove, whose recent unfortunate spell of ill health prevented him from attending. Happily Athina, who doubtless would have been there in any case in the audience, responded and presented an illustrated talk comprehensively outlining the activities of the Buckingham Canal Society and the dramatic progress now being made. It is only by hearing at first hand that you realise the achievements to date of the BCS. The Society is fortunate in possessing numerous active supporters (naturally, it always needs more!) who turn out at the Society’s regular working parties (for dates, please turn to the next page of Endeavour), but someone has to lead and organise all this as well as lobbying, fund-raising etc etc – and this is where Athina has excelled over the years, although she would probably be the first to acknowledge the help and encouragement given by her colleagues. Endeavour keeps you up to date with BCS progress but I didn’t realise how far they had actually got until Athina explained it all at the meeting. Therefore it was most pleasing, at the Branch’s annual dinner, that the popular vote for the evening’s raffle proceeds should go to the BCS, thus maintaining our tradition of financially supporting this dedicated group of enthusiasts. This time £146 went into the Society’s coffers. As the supermarket advertising slogan says, “Every little helps”. Keep up the good work, Athina. Her contact details are on page four. I feel I should also mention the highly successful Village at War weekend at Stoke Bruerne in September, with all proceeds supporting the Museum there. I don’t think I have ever seen so many people on the canalside and around the village. Several IWA Northampton Branch members put on their Friends of The Canal Museum hats at this time and play a prominent role in the event’s organisation. Well done to them.



December 8th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, 12th 5pm

Blisworth. Christmas quiz with Sam and Lynda Illuminated Boats and Carols on the Museum Green at Stoke Bruerne Christmas market at The Navigation all weekend (see page 14)

January 12th 8pm

IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Speaker: John Pomfret — Waterways of the Low Countries

February 9th 8pm

IWA Northampton Branch Meeting at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Speaker: James Clifton (CRT) — River Trent and Humber Estuary 13th & 14th CRT Open Weekend at Stoke Bruerne. Come and see while a lock 10am gate is being fixed March 8th 8pm IWA Northampton Branch AGM at The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth. Followed by speaker: TBC

NORTHAMPTON ARM TASK PARTY DATES December 15th (provisional). January 10th, 26th. February 14th, 26th. March 13th, 29th. April 10th, 26th. May 15th, 24th. June 19th, 28th For details contact or phone 01604 453932 BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOCIETY WORK PARTY DATES December 3rd, 13th, 17th, 31st. January 10th, 14th, 28th. February 11th, 14th, 25th. March 10th, 13th, 24th. April 7th, 10th, 21st. For details contact Athina Beckett on 01908 661217

STOKE BRUERNE CANAL PARTNERSHIP WORK PARTY DATES December 9th. January 13th. February 10th. March 9th. April 13th. For details contact

IWA Northampton Branch web site Please visit it regularly to see any updates



Stowe Hill Wharf, Heyford Lane, Weedon, Northants NN7 4SF Tel: 01327 341365 Proprietor Robert Gudgeon welcomes you to Stowe Hill Workshop 

Full Repaints

Hull Blacking/Stern Gear

Inspection and Repairs

Engine Repairs and Maintenance

Complete Fit-Out and Woodwork Alterations

Plumbing Installations and Repairs

Electrical Installations and Repairs

NEW — Fuel Polishing Service

Stockists of Morris Oils and Grease

Full range of Batteries always available (please let us know your requirements)

By road we are easily found, a few yards off the A5 at Stowe Hill towards Nether Heyford. By boat close to Bridge 26



Branch Chairman’s Jottings by Bernard Morton So the big event of the year has come and gone. By that, of course, I mean the IWA’s Festival of Water at Becket’s Park. Verdict: it could have been better, it could have been worse. It was good because on the Saturday the sun shone, it was hot, our celebrity waterway colleagues-in-arms Tim and Pru were there to open the Festival and, not unsurprisingly, they drew in the crowds. It could have been worse had it rained on the Saturday as well as on Sunday and Monday, with Monday’s all day downpour really spelling the end of what could have been a spectacularly successful occasion. Boaters, as they always do, made the best of a steadily declining scenario. Following Saturday’s bumper crowds, people did come on the Sunday – but not so many. Bank Holiday Monday’s attendance was sparse indeed. But we certainly got our message across on Saturday when we were well supported by VIPs, sponsors and others, plus TV coverage. It’s just such a pity the weather failed to play ball later on. The organisation went well. Congratulations to all volunteers involved, especially those from Northampton Branch. The run-up to the Festival wasn’t without its minidramas – they seem inevitable at these type of events – but generally it was “all right on the night”. There was a modest financial surplus and the Branch will hopefully find its coffers boosted a little when the final accounts are settled. We also recruited several new Branch members over the weekend – one of these has already joined us on three Task Parties on the Arm! But clearly it was a case of what might have been if old smiler in the sky had kept on grinning! Read Old Stager’s report starting on page 20. I think he sums things up pretty well. 2016 BOAT GATHERING. However, its back to normal service next year. We now look forward to early Spring Bank Holiday 2016 when the Branch’s Annual Boat Gathering will be held for a second time at Braunston Marina thanks to the generosity of marina owner Tim Coghlan. After many, many years at Becket’s Park, the switch to Braunston two years ago proved a popular choice and those who attended urged a return visit. The weather, as if by magic, switched from chilly to lovely and warm spring-like conditions, thus helping to create a genuine all-round friendly and enjoyable get-together. Full details will be given in the next edition of Endeavour. So if you are already planning your 2016 cruising programme, please ensure you note the dates Friday 29th April to Monday 2nd May. We’d love to see you there! BRANCH DINNER. Since my last Jottings, a major event on the Branch calendar has been our Annual Dinner in October – and what a successful occasion it proved to be. We promised “something completely different” and your committee believe we really achieved this by going afloat to wine and dine.

8 Our venue was the floating Riverboat Restaurant moored at Northampton’s Midsummer Meadow, and for those of you unfamiliar with the location, the boat is sited at the entrance to the original course of the Nene before the river was widened and straightened in the 1970s. We almost filled to capacity the main dining saloon, nearly 50 people attending. David Blagrove was our guest of honour and in spite of not feeling too well, he reminisced, as only David can do, about the old days on the waterways. He remarked on the swift passage of time, recalling the formation of the Branch (previously known as the South-East Midlands Branch) in the late 1960s and suddenly realised it seemed that only three of the originals are still around – himself, Roger Hasdell and Rodney Hardwick. It’s all a sobering thought. No-one is getting any younger – I wish … LOOKING AHEAD. So what will 2016 bring us? Perhaps a better summer, weather-wise, than last year, although I don’t remember it being particularly foul, especially when I was away on the annual summer cruise. If anything it was almost too hot. One of the things we can certainly rely upon next year, however, is that our merry and willing band of volunteers will be continuing their work of keeping the Arm in good shape. There will always be shopping trolleys to be pulled out of the water and litter to be picked from the towing path. Now, with the festive season fast approaching, my good wishes to you all and a Happy 2016 Waterway Year.

The newly refurbished Riverboat Tapas, Bar and Restaurant is now open. It has indoor and outdoor seating that faces the River Nene and Midsummer Meadow. The Restaurant provides casual dining experience, offering a selection of Indo/Chinese. We also take party bookings for birthdays, wedding receptions and corporate functions Come on board and bring the family.

Midsummer Meadows, Bedford Road Northampton NN1 5 FY Phone 01604 637325 E-mail


S AV E T H E D A T E 29th April—2nd May, 2016 Nurser’s Dock, Braunston Marina

Join us for a new style IWA Northampton Branch

BOAT GATHERING Non members welcome Full details in the next edition of Endeavour

Details will be updated on our Website, Facebook and Twitter


NEW BRANCH MEMBERS ARE WELCOMED We extend a warm welcome to the following who have joined Northampton Branch since the last issue of Endeavour

NEW MEMBERS Ms P A Ferris, Dereham Norfolk Ms G Kinsey, Alton, Hampshire Mr R Blackburn, Harpole, Northampton Mr G Crockett & Ms M Nagy, Briar Hill, Northampton Mr N Dunne, Northampton Mr R & Mrs P Haynes, Northampton Mr S Hughes, Hemsby, Great Yarmouth Mr T & Mrs S Moore, Northampton Mrs P A Paige, Cosgrove Mr M & Mrs A Steadman, Daventry Mr J & Mrs G Turnbull, Towcester Mr P & Mrs A Watkins, Northampton MEMBERS WHO HAVE MOVED TO THE BRANCH Mr P Boyce, Southampton Mr M Hacon & Mrs M McNicoll, Brackley Mr R W Sharp, Daventry Mr T R A Underhill, Welford We look forward to meeting you all at Branch events

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DIESEL – always competively priced PUMP OUT – no meter clock here BLUE TOILET FLUID ODORLOS – organic waste tank treatment CALOR GAS – all sizes of bottled gas including Camping Gaz. SOLID FUELS – all types of smokeless fuel or coal. Plus firelighters, sticks and logs. CHARNWOOD STOVES – all sizes of multi-fuel stoves with or without boilers MORRIS OILS – popular grades of engine oil plus water resistant grease FUEL SET FUEL CONDITIONER

Most Major Credit Cards Accepted. Open: 8.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 1.00pm on Saturdays

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Northamptonshire RESTAURANT º BARS º BOAT TRIP DINE IN FESTIVE STYLE IN WOODWARD’S CANALSIDE RESTAURANT Inclusive New Year’s Eve dinner/dance, £59.00 Book Now!

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New Canal Arm for Towcester! No, it’s not an April fools joke but a serious possibility raised by Canal & River Trust Enterprise Manager James Clifton at last month’s User Group meeting at Bugbrooke. Apparently a retiring solicitor is interested in funding a Feasibility Study for a new Towcester canal arm running from the Grand Union. It would certainly put the town on the canal map and open up a myriad of development possibilities. Watch this space for more news as it breaks…

12 ALL ABOARD FOR OUR BRANCH ANNUAL DINNER We were aboard the Riverboat floating restaurant on the Nene at Midsummer Meadow for this event and a nearly full house ensured a most enjoyable evening. Please see the Chairman’s Jottings on page 7. Here are a few pictures of the occasion. Obviously something to laugh about! From left, Endeavour editor Tony Clarke, Boat Gathering Chairman Mick Butler and guest of honour David Blagrove. Below, general views as the evening progresses

Members were generous in donating prizes for the raffle which raised ÂŁ146, by popular request, for the Buckingham Canal Society. Below, David Blagrove takes on liquid sustenance before reminiscing

13 BRANCH COMMITTEE MEETINGS REVIEW September Festival of Water Mick Butler reported that everyone did well on Saturday but the weather dampened things down on Sunday and Monday. Overall feedback was upbeat and indicated that the event was well organised. All monies were handed back to the Festival Committee, the surplus total not being known at this point. Boat Gathering 2016 A meeting is planned to finalise a venue. The date will be 29th April — 2nd May 2016. The old marquee has now been sold to The Friends of The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne. A new one is being sourced. Northampton Arm Adoption Geoff Wood reported that the last lock had been painted. There have been good turnouts for the Task Parties and the weather has been kind — a very successful year. The bench at Lock 17 has now been built with mosaics to be added at a cost of about £1,400, but it needs rendering first. The committee also agreed to contact Stoke Bruerne Adoption Group and offer help for a one-off extra Task Party for specific work. Reports from Local Societies Friends of The Canal Museum – Lynda Payton and Mick Butler have been made Trustees. It was reported that the Village at War event in September was the most successful ever.


Festival of Water It was noted that the accounts had still to be finalised. The provisional accounts show a modest surplus. The following beneficiaries for the surplus were agreed: The Friends of The Canal Museum (for loan of Sculptor, marquees, tables and chairs and transportation); Northampton Sea Cadets (for demonstrations on the water); Crusader Boats (for hosting the VIP cruise and running trips for the public during the Festival).

Branch Dinner All who attended agreed it was a good event and a superb location. Several requests have been made for a repeat visit in 2016. Boat Gathering 2016 — 29th April – 2nd May 2016 Bernard Morton has received the OK from Tim Coghlan regarding the use Continued on page 15


Illuminated Boats and Carols on the Canal

Put Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th December in your diaries for Stoke Bruerne's annual Carols on the Canal. This magical celebration of Christmas features carols around the Christmas tree and an Illuminated Boat Parade (Saturday 56.30pm), Santa Cruises and a Christmas Market at The NaviPicture from last year’s event by Lynda Payton) gation pub (all weekend). The Museum and other gift shops will also be open, Bob the Blacksmith at the Tunnel Forge will have special hand forged gifts on sale and lots of other attractions are planned. This year's event will also see the opening on Saturday afternoon of the new Ark Stained Glass Workshop in the Old Stables and the official launch of the new Heritage Lottery Funded interpretation trail. It's a wonderful way to start your Christmas celebrations and it's free. Organisers, The Friends of the Canal Museum, warmly welcome all boaters who would like to participate in the Illuminated Boat Parade (Contact harbmater@ to register your interest). Last year's winners, Tim and Roberta Casientieri on nb Inchy will take a lot of beating. Are you up to the challenge?

The Navigation Stoke Bruerne 2 Meals for £10 Monday – Thursday

Live Music every Friday Like our facebook to keep updated with all offers and promotions

Full details for the weekend, including programme timings, will be posted on the event website as they are confirmed at Carols on the Canal - Friends of The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne

15 TIM CARTER OVERPLATING 07774 711817 Grand Union Canal just north of Weedon

Steel Narrowboats Overplated Base plate, hull sides, swim, counter rounds

Cabin Work All aspects of steel work — we even offer hot riveting for the repair of vintage craft! Steel or wooden cabins repaired, windows added, removed, replaced, side doors added.

Stretching Narrow boats lengthened.

Hull Blacking New anodes and engine servicing also available.

Painting Some aspects of coach painting and traditional rose and castle decoration.

Pricing Prices vary depending on the type of work undertaken. Email me to discuss your requirements.

Continued from page 13 of Nurser’s Dock at Braunston Marina for this event.

Northampton Arm Adoption

Lock 17 has had grass and vegetation cut back. Litter picking carried out from Lock 17 to Bridge 14; seven shopping trollies were removed from the water by the bridge. The by-pass weir at Lock 14 has been cleared. The next Task Party will focus on the by-pass weir at Lock 16 which is completely overgrown and blocked. Alison Smedley and Emma from IWA Head Office will be joining in.


Eight new members were signed up at the Festival and one has already been on Task Parties. Memberships stand at 300, representing 476 members.


Revised plans for the Willow House site at Blisworth, for five detached houses with garages and access road, were considered. An objection has been submitted by the Branch on the grounds that this is an over-development of the site leading to a detrimental impact on the canal environment and canal archaeology.

Reports from Local Societies Canal Partnerships etc

Helen Westlake, representing Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership, thanked Branch volunteers who helped with the installation of interpretation board supports.


MARTIN BRINGS HIS STAINED GLASS SKILLS TO NEW TUNNEL WORKSHOP “Amazing work by a genuinely nice guy.” “Fantastic job – well done.” These are just two of the many compliments which have come the way of craftsman Martin Farrant since he opened his stained glass workshop in the long-disused horse stables alongside the Stoke Bruerne towpath at the southern end of Blisworth Tunnel. Since June, Martin has built up a sizeable following, particularly among the boating fraternity. He says: “A favourite is a depiction of their pet in a window of their boat, often in a forward cratch window.” Martin accepts commissions, repairs and restoration work as well as the creation of a range of gifts such as “sun catchers” – decorative glass pieces for hanging in windows to sparkle in the bright light. After passing art and design exams in London, what started as a hobby as a young man in Cromer steadily developed over the years, with studios in Devon and North Wales. He explains: “When we consider stained glass, people nearly always think of churches but, beautiful as they are, there are so many more uses and applications – lampshades, mirrors and sculptures, for example. The only restriction to what can be created is the limit of our imaginations.” Martin outside his workshop at the Old Stables in Stoke Bruerne near the tunnel entrance

Although containing all the equipment necessary for a basic workshop, Martin and his partner, Tracey, are still putting the final touches to the internal restoration and fitting out of the old stable block with canalia and information panels describing the art of stained glasswork. There are chairs so that customers and passers-by can sit and watch Martin at work – or simply shelter from the weather. There is always a warm welcome. One of the difficulties he has overcome is the lack of mains electricity, although with the help of an expert family member, he is able to function quite adequately by the illumination produced from a 12-volt battery. His workbench includes a glass cut-

17 ting area, a light box and a small grinder – “everything sufficient for the task,” he assures. He specialises in the Tiffany style or the Copperfoil method (visit him and find out what it is all about). It’s fascinating to watch him in action – genuine craftsmanship. Martin is now working towards the Christmas and New Year season and visitors to the workshop are able to buy stained glass gifts off a decorated Christmas Tree. Trading as the Ark Stained Glass Studio, Martin’s opening hours are 11am – 5pm daily, closed Tuesdays. Email for more information. 

Local MP Andrea Leadsom is scheduled to officially open Martin’s workshop on the afternoon of Saturday, 12th December, at 2.30 pm.

Martin at work in his workshop

SAVE THE BRANCH MONEY! Stop receiving Endeavour by post and instead get it electronically. You will be notified by email when it’s published on-line. This will save in postage and printing costs. The printed version will be available at Branch meetings. Contact Geoff Wood at and he will organise it. Editor IWA Northampton Branch now has a Facebook page. It’s at https:// Members will find posts there about our talks, Task Party dates and much more, as well as being able to use it for discussion purposes. We’d like to hear your views. We also have a Twitter account @northamptoniwa where you can leave us a message or engage in discussion on what’s happening.


Wendover Arm Trust Grand Draw 2015 I would like to express to your readers a very big thank you for their support for the WAT Grand Draw 2015. This year we managed to raise just over £4,500 towards the Restoration Fund. The twelve prize winners have all been advised and the common response was, as always: “I never win anything…” After sending all the prizes, the thoughts are turning to next year’s Draw, when it is hoped you will all extend your amazing generosity again. The restoration is still continuing. It was with some amusement that on the Friday before the Grand Draw, I received a telephone call from the promoter of the Monmouth, Abergavenny and Brecon Canal Trust Annual Duck Race to tell me that I had won the second prize for the ‘race’ on the August Bank Holiday this year! So no longer can I use the phrase “I never win anything” ! The full list of prize winners in the Draw is shown on the Trust website – and follow the link. (Do you know a winner ?) Again, through the Branch magazine, may the Trust say a very big thank you for your essential support. My best wishes, Michael Wright, - Grand Draw 2015 Promoter.

Big Draw event at Stoke Bruerne attracts young artists Budding artists at The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne, transformed Northampton IWA's former marquee—now acquired by The Friends of The Canal Museum—into a colourful instant art gallery during the half-term holidays when Stoke Bruerne Canal Partnership organised a Big Draw, part of an annual national drawing event to encourage everybody to pick up paints, pen or pencil and get drawing or doodling. The theme was "Every drawing tells a story" and all ages took part, even if only adding a single poppy to a growing field of poppies for display in the Museum on Remembrance Day. Prizes were on offer for three age groups judged by Stephanie Furniss, the Museum’s newly appointed Destination Manager. Winners were: up to age 6 — Ruby Taylor (age 6): 7-16 — Isabelle and Lucy (age 12); over 16 — Richard Robertson.


Local Crafts & Gifts THE CANAL SHOP at Stoke Bruerne Under the management of Sue Austin, who warmly welcomes all visitors Crocheted lacework a speciality Special offer –10% off for boaters Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am - 3pm until the end of March Contact 07760 778638 You will find The Canal Shop opposite the Museum at Stoke Bruerne

Now fully open


Diesel  Pump out

Well stocked chandlery  Groceries

Pay us a visit, just browse and see what we have to offer Open daily 9am –6pm ALL YEAR ROUND Tel 01327 844639 E-mail:

20 Old Stager, who in our last issue recalled the IWA’s 1971 National Rally of Boats at Northampton, reports on the Association’s 2015 Festival of Water on the River Nene at Becket’s Park in late August

IT ALL WENT WELL DESPITE THE RAIN There’s not much you can do about it when the weather gods decide to rain on your parade. Such was the situation at the IWA’s Northampton Festival of Water at the end of August. After a sparkling Saturday and big crowds, the fourday Bank Holiday weekend event slipped gradually to a damp conclusion on the Monday. Spirits were kept up throughout by the enjoyment and involvement of the boaters, but sadly the overall attendances by the public were inevitably not as high as anticipated because of the deteriorating weather. Nevertheless, the event still returned a modest financial surplus. Festival celebrity guests, actors and keen boaters Timothy West and Prunella Scales certainly attracted the crowds to the Saturday mid-day launch. The sun shone, it was warm and thoughts of rain lurked only dimly in the minds of the pessimistic. Unfortunately, their forebodings proved correct. Sunday began cloudy, stayed cloudy and the rain fell from mid-morning until late afternoon Admittedly the rain didn’t hammer down – you would have happily kept on boating – just annoyingly wetting and off-putting for the public. Then Monday dawned dull and the rain started falling just before seven o’clock. It didn’t stop until 4pm but the damage had been done as far as the visiting public was concerned. Although a fair number ventured to the Park, understandably the thousands anticipated stayed at home. The charity boat Crusader continued giving trips, the upside being that passengers kept dry inside. Others sought refuge in the big IWA marquee where a steady stream of entertainment kept people and the party atmosphere going - whilst the challenge to drive a mini-digger on the Waterway Re-

21 covery Group stand proved irresistible to youngsters, no matter what the weather! Earlier, on the Friday, the Festival got underway in encouraging fashion in dry conditions as boaters checked in. The evening was spent socialising and quizzing. The official boat attendance was 98, boosted by numerous crews of boats in Northampton Marina. In nearby Delapre Park, around 35 caravanners and campers gathered. So to “super Saturday”. The highlight was, without doubt, the eagerly awaited arrival of Timothy West and Prunella Scales, a moment greeted by cheers and enthusiastic clapping as Tim officially declared the Festival open by cutting an IWA- coloured blue ribbon tied across the steps of the bridge at the tail of Northampton (or Town) Lock. The guests then boarded Crusader for a VIP cruise under South Bridge into the Westbridge Arm, returning through the lock and so to Midsummer Meadow and back. Among those on board were two Mayors – those of Northampton and Walsall – local MP David Mackintosh, Festival sponsors and supporters, Environment Agency and Canal and River Trust personalities, including CRT chief exec Richard Parry and IWA Chairman Les Etheridge. During the trip, Northampton Mayor Cllr Penelope Flavell presented the commemorative Tiller Pin to Cllr Angela Underhill, Mayor of Walsall, in whose borough the 2016 Festival will be held at Pelsall. For much of the trip, Tim and Pru stood on the foredeck of Crusader waving to the crowds on the waterfront. Almost everyone seemed to be holding cameras aloft. “We’ve been made so welcome,” Tim told me. “It’s good to be back on the Nene, it’s such a lovely river – although I know the weeds can be a bit of a problem from time to time!” Later the couple mingled with boaters on Lock Island and were among the audience at one of the talks in the marquee. Their attendance at the talk and obvious interest in all that was going on was widely appreciated and we extend our sincere thanks to them for travelling to Northampton from London by train and helping to make the occasion such a red letter day.

Crowds enjoying the Saturday sunshine at the Festival in Becket’s Park


Rob Westlake (left), from The Friends of The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne, presents an historic BCN Boundary Marker to Ivor Caplan from the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society. Festival President David Blagrove is on the right The crowds continued to throng Becket’s Park and the waterside for the rest of the Saturday afternoon. There were the boats to see, mainly moored between the lock and South Bridge, in some instances up to six abreast, with plenty going on in the Park, including entertainment in the IWA marquee – a haven of comfort as the weather steadily deteriorated during the weekend. Saturday evening in the Lock Island marquee witnessed rousing entertainment l950s, ‘60s ‘70s, ‘80s style by the group Grandma’s Wooden Leg, with the dance area well filled towards the end. There was more informal entertainment on the Sunday and Monday evenings. On quieter moments, during the daytime, a programme of talks was presented in the marquee by Festival President David Blagrove (“A working boat miscellany”), Liz Payne (“Cotswold Canal Restoration”), Braunston Marina’s Tim Coghlan (“Sonia Rolt and other Idle Women”) and Festival Chairman John Pomfret (“Down the Nene and across The Fens”). Throughout, on Lock Island, which was reserved for Festival entrants, Cat’s Café, offering tea/coffee and homemade cakes, proved highly popular and a nice little earner for waterway funds – as did the evening hamburgers prepared by Bill and Liz Mann. Elsewhere, in The Boathouse, the bar did a roaring trade, even running out of beer on one occasion before extra barrels could be quickly delivered from the nearby Albion Brewery Bar. Meanwhile, on the river, there were boat handling demonstrations and several intrepid boaters accepted the Westbridge Arm Challenge – not such an easy task at the end of August as it is at Northampton Branch’s spring Boat Gatherings because of summer weed growth. The Northampton Sea Cadets were well in evidence, too, bravely pressing ahead in the pouring rain showing their boating skills. Illuminated boats also paraded after dark on Sunday evening.

23 The wet Monday morning drew boaters to the Island marquee for the official prizegiving followed by a Boaters Auction which raised nearly £500, a magnificent sum echoing the success of the two evening raffles. After the prize giving, John Butler, Chairman of IWA Events, told Old Stager he was well satisfied with how the Festival had gone, notwithstanding the poor weather about which nothing could be done. He warmly acknowledged the enthusiastic input and positive cooperation of the Festival partners - Northampton Borough Council, the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust. He added: “Then, of course, there was the immense contribution from IWA’s Northampton Branch and all its volunteers who worked tirelessly towards the Festival’s success, together with the IWA Blueshirts, the WRGies and CRT volunteers manning the locks on the Northampton Arm, not forgetting the car park attendants in Midsummer Meadow. Mentioning individual names is so difficult – miss one and you’re in trouble – but I would like to single out Lynda Payton whose efforts on the publicity front must be recognised. Well done, Lynda.” Ironically, the Festival ended as the rain reluctantly stopped, with the great clear and clean up following on the Tuesday in bright sunshine. Positive feedback indicates a good time was had by all. Obviously it’s impossible to cover every aspect of the Festival, one of the aims of which was to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Northampton Arm – so much happening {as in 1971) and volunteers getting on with things efficiently but almost unnoticed. We must feel sorry for the commercial enterprises operating in the Park – it’s never good to have to “strike camp” early in the face of inclement weather. Bear in mind, though, there is a plus point here – falling rain helps to maintain the levels on the canals. So, always look on the bright side of life… Chucklefoot entertained the crowds during the day with his one-man-band, and on the Saturday evening in the marquee on the Lock Island


Moored boats on the riverside between South Bridge and Becket’s Park. In the far distance, to the right, is the entrance to EA’s Northampton Marina

WITH THE BOATS GAILY DECORATED, THE FESTIVAL PROVED TO BE A COLOURFUL SPECTACLE On sunny super Saturday, big crowds turned out to mingle with the waterside atmosphere



Our partners in the organisation of the Festival of Water Northampton Borough Council The Environment Agency The Canal & River Trust

Our Sponsors    

Persimmon Homes Briggs and Forrester Morrisons Plus all the advertisers in the Festival Programme Raffle prizes and auction items were generously donated by many individuals and commercial organisations, including...

         

ABC Leisure Group The Boat Inn, Stoke Bruerne The Navigation, Stoke Bruerne The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth Stowe Hill Workshop Whilton Marina Whilton Marina Chandlery Skears Photographic, Northampton Grand Junction Boat Company The Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne

Festival Award Winners        

RCR Award: Di & Rees Jones (Wandering Wimbrell) Robert Aickman Trophy: Peter & Jean Webb (Arachne), most meritorious journey AP Herbert Award: Alan Jones (Keeping Up), most lock miles TR Boat Handling Competition: Poly Page (Semper Fields) Best Illuminated Boat: Poly Page (Semper Fields) Birds, Boats & Bridges: Ruby Morse, Children’s Painting Competition Westbridge Challenge: John & Sam Line (Fairies Wear Boots) Special Plaque Award: John & Sam Line (for help with Festival organisation)


BEST VILLAGE AT WAR WEEKEND EVER! Visitors flock to Stoke Bruerne for vintage 40s event Fine weather and an action packed programme of forties entertainment drew in huge numbers of visitors to Stoke Bruerne’s 8th Village at War weekend in mid September. Organised by The Friends of The Canal Museum, the event was supported by more individual re-enactors and living history groups than ever before, many travelling long distances to take part in the popular vintage event and providing plenty for visitors to see and do. With almost the whole village taking part, the community pulled together to produce an atmosphere buzzing with true wartime spirit. The Primary School was busy running a Nippy Tea Room, there was a 40s Fashion Parade at the Church and the Village Hall hosted dance classes and an afternoon tea dance. Old favourites — glamorous singer Lola Lamour and George Formby (aka Paul Casper) — were joined by several new artists to keep both the troops and public entertained royally. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight obliged with a dramatic Spitfire flypast on both days and for good measure, Saturday was also graced by a Dakota aircraft plus an unscheduled but welcome flyby by the Red Arrows on Sunday.

Underneath the arches — entertainment in full swing

27 Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Montgomery and George VI were kept busy delivering rousing speeches and inspecting the troops, and on the water a number of historic boats, some in wartime livery, completed the colourful scene. One of Stoke Bruerne’s regular trip boats masqueraded as ‘HMS Charlie’, complete with anti-aircraft guns and turrets. There was even a model boat carrying munitions competing with its larger counterparts for the attention of visitors in the canal basin outside the Museum. All indications point to a record breaking financial result for The Friends charity with village organisations and charities, such as Help the Heroes and Greyhound Rescue, also benefiting. During the weekend a new book ‘Care on the Cut’. written by Dr Della Sadler Moore, Lorna York and Christopher Jones about the life of Sister Mary Ward BEM, nurse to the long distance boatmen and their families, who lived and worked at Stoke Bruerne, was launched. The book in paperback form is on sale at The Canal Museum Shop at £18.99. Lynda Payton


Karin Cotter, of nb Dihedral, finds there are …

TWENTY THINGS TO DISCOVER ABOUT THE RIVER NENE After attending August’s IWA Festival at Northampton, we took advantage of our temporary location on the Nene and, together with a few other boaters there, cruised to Peterborough before heading back to the Grand Union. This is what I discovered: 1 — You will find that herons abound along the banks of the River Nene, although a few areas, strangely, are completely devoid of these feathered fishermen. They almost always seem to face downstream and are fond of lurking in the reeds and rushes, waiting patiently for a meal and eyeing boats suspiciously. At our approach, they would often take flight with huge powerful wings lifting their steel-grey bodies high over the meadows and trees. 2 — You will also notice that red kites are making a comeback all along the river valley. Their mewing and aeronautical displays accompanied us along much of our journey, We had hoped to see otters, also, apparently, making a comeback, but we were not so lucky. 3 — Swans, much more plentiful than on the canals, have colonised all sections of the river. Their graceful shapes seem to fit perfectly against the backdrop of green meadows, elegant churches and stone-built cottages. 4 — You will probably disturb many of the fishermen that abound along the banks of the River Nene, sitting quietly heron-like, hidden in amongst the reeds and rushes, often lifting their rods for our passing boat at the very last minute. Some also like fishing from the pontoons around the locks, which makes mooring a little difficult, as the pontoons aren’t very long. We classified three varieties of fishermen: the keen fully equipped sportsman/angler with his day’s catch in his keep net; the fishermen who were catching small fish; and the young men who acknowledged us only with a wave of their hand, who carried no equipment, only a rod and a backpack, and were no doubt looking for their evening meal. 5 — You will need a special EA key in order to operate the locks and use the facilities on route. We bought ours at Northampton Marina, along with the EA licence, at a discounted price offered to Festival-goers. The marina is situated opposite Becket’s Park in Northampton, and what a friendly group of staff and boaters are based there! 6 — You will discover, as we did, that guillotine gates are hard work to open and close, whether because of the need to keep a finger on the button of the electricallyoperated ones or because of the steel wheel that has to be turned so many times on the others. Going downstream, the lock generally has to be filled before entering, as the bottom gate (the guillotine one) is always left raised. Going back upstream, once the boat is through the lock, it must be emptied again before leaving. BOATING TIP: I volunteered to steer the boat into the locks, while I let Bob put his back into it.

29 7 — Despite the relaxed rhythm of travel on the river after a relatively dry summer, lock rage exists and is alive and well. Much to our surprise, on leaving one lock we were called bad-mannered and selfish, amongst other things, because we, apparently, stole the lock from a boat which definitely wasn’t visible at the time we closed the lower lock gate and commenced filling to allow our passage. Life is too short! 8 — Some locks, especially those at Yarwell and Cotterstock, are on quite sharp bends, and, approaching too quickly, will test your steering skills. 9 — There are some really nice sloe bushes on the upper approach to Wadenhoe Lock. There is also a lovely mooring alongside the gardens of The Kings Head, where you will get an excellent meal and a decent pint of good local beer. 10 — You will notice that the Environment Agency has a much more laid-back approach to Himalayan Balsam than the Canal & River Trust. This invasive plant grew along much of the riverbank, undisturbed and kept in check by all the other plants growing along the banks, its pretty pink flowers bowing gently in the breeze. 11 — We used three guides for our journey downstream, and fairly soon realised that none of them was totally accurate. However, all were useful. We used a combination of the Imray guide, Heron Maps (which do not tell you where to find herons) and the new EA/IWA Northampton map that was launched at the Festival of Water. 12 — You will discover that suitable moorings, long enough for a narrowboat or two, are few and far between. However, the Friends of the River Nene (FOTRN) are trying to solve this problem and have created four extra moorings available to their members, with more moorings to follow, we hope. 13 — You’ll find the moorings at the Embankment, Peterborough, are extensive, alongside a pleasant park. Shops, the cathedral and the Nene Valley Railway are just a short walk away. The services there — water, rubbish, Elsan and pump out — provided free by the City Council, were all working when we arrived and we had probably the best pump-out for a long time! 14 — One of the most picturesque moorings is at Fotheringhay, below the church or alongside the Castle Mound, where the farmer is noted for the efficiency with which he arrives to collect his mooring fees. He deserves a special mention for offering to transport one of our party with limited mobility up to The Falcon pub in the village, so that we could all have an evening meal. 15 — The best moorings of all were missed by us, both on our journey downstream and on our return upstream. They lie on a short backwater at the bottom of the pub garden for the Queens Head Inn, Nassington. £15 per night, though I think it is refundable if you eat at the pub. The water was lovely and clear and looked deep enough for our boat. We visited the village by car at the end of September and enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea at the pub and an hour or so in the garden in warm sunshine. We decided if we go down the river again, and we can get the boat in, we shall moor there at least one night. Perhaps someone can tell us if the backwater is navigable by narrowboat. Continued on page 36


Blisworth Canal Festival another success Jan Andrews reports: A Trustee of CRT asked us recently just how come Blisworth Canal Festival continues to be so incredibly popular, and just how much money it generated. Well, in response to the first question, we don’t have a secret recipe, we just simply ensure we have the best ingredients to produce a brilliant outcome. Vicky Martin, CRT WaVisitors aboard trip boat Mountbatten terway Manager SE, was right when she commented on the event being planned and rolled out with military precision. Peter Underwood wrote passionately in Towpath Talk about the Festival having engaged a whole community — so true. Local press and other media responses rightly focus on visitors enjoying the amazing range of traders and attractions provided. Participants and visitors alike always comment on the relaxed, carnival atmosphere that sparkles during the Festival weekend. Of course it helps that the word “free” is a recurring theme. The Festival offers free parking, mooring and entry to venues. Charities are given free pitches, as are many regular attractions. Hence happy visitors flock in their tens of thousands. Festival 2015 welcomed an amazing 45,000+ during the weekend, the best turnout to date. Perhaps the double page spread in the Sunday Mirror that placed Blisworth Canal Festival within the Top 10 Waterway destinations for 2015 helped! For those who didn’t attend Festival 2015, shame on you, but what you’d have found is an event that

31 stretched up from the bustling waterfront into eight nearby village venues, all provided and manned by villagers and their friends. You would have had to agree that the event fulfilled the old cliché ‘something for everybody’, with its ferret racing, vintage caravans and vehicles, a dog show, boat trips, parrots, a farmyard, land and boat traders galore, rural craft demos, live music, bars, incredible food outlets, stilt walkers, heritage displays, antique and plant stalls. The list would fill a page. Planning is well underway for next year’s Canal Festival to be held over the weekend of Saturday August 13th & Sunday August 14th 2016. Once again visitors will be able to park, moor and enter for free. Blisworth Canal Partnership are determined that ours will continue to be a festival for a festival’s sake — a celebration of our village, community spirit and canal.

Ferret racing tubes

So in answer to the CRT Trustee’s second question, we aren’t all about money. We feel it should never be all about generating money. With a massive fundraising effort, our festival generates enough for us to begin the next year’s event with a bit left over for canalside projects. We are happy with that and our thousands of visitors certainly are!







Grand Union, Oxford & Leics Canals Rivers Nene and Thames RING: 07889 10 99 39

HIGH HOUSE MARINA LTD High House Wharf, Heyford Lane, Weedon, Northants NN7 4SF OUR SMALL MARINA (ONLY 24 BOATS) IS A VERY FRIENDLY PLACE TO BE MOORED, HENCE OUR CLIENTS TEND TO STAY PUT Our car park is quite secure and well hidden from the road WE DO NOW AND AGAIN HAVE A VACANCY, SO WHY NOT GIVE US A CALL? Contact Phil Gardner on 01327 349519, E-

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 an official announcement unless so stated, otherwise the Association accepts no liability for any matter in the magazine. Neither the editor nor IWA can accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the magazine, and opinions stated are those of individual contributors. We will, however, gladly publish corrections if notified. The editor reserves the right to shorten or modify articles published in the interests of clarity or space.


36 Continued: TWENTY THINGS TO DISCOVER ABOUT THE NENE 16 — You will travel on a river that is mostly peaceful and very rural. Its propensity for flooding means that most villages and towns, especially upstream of Thrapston, are situated on higher ground above and away from the course. Almost nowhere did urbanisation seem to penetrate the Nene corridor. The river only just manages to maintain contact with the bigger centres — Northampton, Wellingborough and Peterborough. 17 — The waters of the Nene fed more mills than I ever imagined. I read somewhere that, originally, there were some 43 watermills situated along the river from Newnham to Peterborough, 21 of them between Northampton and Thrapston. Some have been demolished and are long gone, some are sadly derelict and in need of some TLC, and others have been preserved and converted to residential or office use. 18 — April 1969 marked the end of grain deliveries to Whitworths Mill at Wellingborough. As we moored opposite the mill, travelling both downstream and on our return, I looked out at the brick wall of the older mill building, with the remains of the old landing wharf sticking out above the water level and imagined the narrowboats unloading their cargo. 19 — The river is much quieter than the canals – the Grand Union felt more like the M1 once we were on our way home. On the river we barely met more than three or four boats each day and most of those were returning from Peterborough, having made the same trip as us but leaving the Festival a day or two earlier. 20 — I think that the river, in its gentle guise, is a real gem, a pleasure to cruise and the best-kept secret of the waterways. Shhh — don’t tell anybody!

YOUNG HANDS HELP BCS MAKE PROGRESS AT COSGROVE Scout Explorer, Jessica Greasby, was on hand to help Buckingham Canal Society (BCS) volunteers continue their restoration project at Cosgrove recently, getting involved straightaway to show what young hands can do. Jessica, 14, and the Milton Keynes Scout Explorer leader joined work party organiser Athina Beckett and BCS volunteers to remove branches and twigs currently filling the canal at the site. The team created a bonfire as part of the cleaning up process and this will later allow for the re-watering of the canal at the site. Later in the day, Jessica also helped to uncover the brickwork of an old bridge at the site which is currently covered with shrubbery. Work is currently being carried out to see what remains of the bridge. If over 50 per cent is still in place, BCS will be able to apply for a heritage grant to repair and restore it. As a memento of the day, Jessica took away two bricks from the bridge; one an original from when the bridge was built and the second a much newer brick. She now plans to carry out her own research on these bricks.


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BRANCH SOCIAL MEETINGS Regular Branch Social Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to May inclusive at

THE WALNUT TREE INN, BLISWORTH, at 8pm All members and non-members welcome. Food and drink available

NEXT MEETINGS Tuesday, 8th December Christmas quiz with Lynda and Sam Tuesday, 12th January John Pomfret – Waterways of the Low Countries Tuesday, 9th February

James Clifton – River Trent and Humber Estuary Tuesday 8th March AGM followed by speaker TBA

The next edition of Endeavour will be published February 2016


WHO’S WHO IN NORTHAMPTON BRANCH 2015/2016 Branch Chairman Bernard Morton 07785 375787 E-mail: bernard.morton

Vice Chairman, Joint Task Party & Membership Secretary Geoff Wood E-mail: geoff.wood

Branch Secretary

Branch Meetings Graham Treagus E-mail: graham.treagus

Boat Gathering Chairman & Joint Task Party Organiser Michael Butler E-mail: michael.butler

Sandie Morton

Planning Officer

E-mail: sandie.morton

Helen Westlake

Treasurer Alex Madisons E-mail: alex.madisons

Publicity & Grants Officer Lynda Payton E-mail:lynda.payton

Newsletter & Joint Website Editor

E-mail: helen.westlake

Committee Member John Pomfret E-mail: john.pomfret

Joint Website & Social Media Officer Sam Line E-mail: sam.line

Tony Clarke 07939 977859 E-mail: tony.clarke

Non-Committee posts Sales: Catriona Butler 01604 473756 Endeavour Assistant Editor, Advertising & Distribution, Archivist Roger Hasdell 01604 248582

Boat Gathering Sub-Committee members Michael Butler (Chairman), Catriona Butler, Linda Clarke, Tony Clarke, Alex Madisons, Bernard Morton, Sandie Morton and John Pomfret


Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Endeavour - November 2015  

Inland Waterways Association Northampton Branch Newsletter - November 2015. Main feature, IWA's Festival of Water in Northampton

Endeavour - November 2015  

Inland Waterways Association Northampton Branch Newsletter - November 2015. Main feature, IWA's Festival of Water in Northampton