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Shroppie Fly Paper The Newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Spring 2011

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Audlem Queen’s Head

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Iced Water Lilies?

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nyone visiting Audlem before Christmas, during the November to December arctic spell, would have found the canal frozen solid. Apart, that is, from a pool below each lock where the very rapid flow of water from the bypass weir caused an area of unfrozen water. Rather strangely those pools contained plates of ice, many the size of dinner plates with slightly curved up edges like white water lily leaves. It has been mentioned on the Audlem On Line web site but as far as I know no one has given an explanation of how they were formed. I would really like to know, so if anyone can solve the mystery or has an interesting theory please let us know or better still write a note for the next issue. Denis Farmer Page 3


The Branch Committee President Chairman Vice-Chairman

Michael Limbrey, Greenfields, Weston Lane, Oswestry SY11 2BD 01691 654081 michael@limbrey.net David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Position vacant

Alan Platt, Argoed, Pen y Cefn Road, Caerwys, Flintshire CH7 5BH 01352 720649 alan.platt@waterways.org.uk Secretary Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Treasurer Denis Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DL 01270 811157 janden1@btinternet.com Heritage and Planning Officer Peter Brown, 34 Waterside Drive, Market Drayton TF9 1HU 01630 652567 iwa@peter-quita.demon.co.uk Social Secretary Janet Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DL 01270 811157 janden1@btinternet.com Membership Secretary Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Web-master Alan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359 650 alan.wilding@btinternet.com Newsletter Editor David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Committee Members Gerallt Hughes (General Secretary Committee for Wales) Ty’n y Coed, Arthog, Gwynedd LL39 1YS 01341 250631 gerallt.hughes@waterways.org.uk Carolyn Theobold carolyn_t@mac.com Region Chairman

Shroppie Fly Paper The Shroppie Fly Paper is the newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of The Inland Waterways Association with a membership of about 390. Nationally the IWA has about 18,000 members and campaigns for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways. For further information contact any committee member. Copy for the Shroppie Fly Paper is welcome in manuscript form, on disc or by email. Photographs may be in any common computer format or as prints. Please supply a stamped addressed envelope if you require photographs to be returned. ‘Letters to the Editor’ intended for publication are invited, as are comments for the Editor’s private guidance. The Inland Waterways Association may not agree with the opinions expressed in this Branch newsletter but encourages publicity as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as official policy unless stated otherwise. The Association accepts no liability for any matter in this newsletter. Any reproduction must be acknowledged. The Inland Waterways Association is registered as a charity No 212342.

Next Copy Date: 1st June 2011

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Editorial

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his year the branch Annual General Meeting has a different format. The usual mid-week evening meeting was clearly inconvenient for many members so a different time and location has been chosen. The AGM will be at Aqueduct Marina at 2pm on Saturday 26th March. Following the meeting Liam D’Arcy-Brown, author of ‘The Emperor’s River’, will give a presentation entitled ‘The Grand Canal In China’. There will also be an opportunity to look round the marina — Graham and Sue Russell have offered to show visitors round KING, a former Fellows Morton & Clayton working narrowboat — so this should be a more enjoyable experience than the previous formal meetings. There are more details on page 8; don’t forget to contact Janet Farmer if you would like to book lunch. Alan Platt, Region Chairman and Trustee, will be at the AGM and has kindly agreed to answer questions, particularly those relating to the IWA’s response to the New Waterways Charity. Several members have expressed concern regarding the services or rather lack of services at Wheaton Aston. The branch has been in touch with the BW manager and was advised that repair work, including the installation of a new pump, was due to start during December but had to be cancelled due to the weather. The contractors are due to start again now. The issue will be raised again at the next BW user group meeting. Once again we are indebted to Miss Jean Evans who has made another very generous donation to the branch. She has asked that it be used for “… the Shropshire Canal, for whatever you think will be useful to the IWA”. Miss Evans, who has previously provided trees and a bench for the Aston nature reserve, will be invited to a boat trip during the summer to show our appreciation. Please don’t forget to send in your photographs for the branch calendar. For details see page 30. This will be an important source of funds which will help towards the cost of producing this magazine. Entries will displayed on the branch web pages which are now much easier to access. The address is now: www.waterways.org.uk/shrewsbury which gets you directly to our stuff without first trawling the main and branch pages. David Aylwin Front Cover: Icicles on the Vyrnwy Aqueduct Acknowledgements: photographs by Janet & Denis Farmer, Alan Wilding, Dawn Aylwin Thank you to all who contributed articles.

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Regional Chairman

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efore I write this regular article for your magazine, I do two things: look at the last one I wrote to make sure I’m not repeating myself, and look at the National Chairman’s article in Waterways to make sure I’m not just repeating what Clive Henderson has already said. This time the exercise is frustrating; a great deal has happened as regards the future of British Waterways in the last few months and yet the future remains exasperatingly unclear. Another annoying thing is that by the time you read this, things may well have changed and this will be out of date. Last month Clive came up to one of Chester branch’s social evenings and nearly 100 people turned up to hear him give an update on the current situation as regards the New Waterways Charity. Not much has changed since then. The Scottish Government has decided that the Waterways there will remain under government control. This is a pity in that it diminishes the size of what’s left, but the Scottish stakeholders group agreed with this view and I can see why, maybe because I too live with devolution as a reality. The IWA remains convinced, as do BW management, that the new body should include Environment Agency navigations, but there are those who don’t share that view and as I write the decision is still with the Waterways Minister. So if the EA is left out are we just left with another restructuring of BW? If so then a great opportunity to realise something like Robert Aickman’s ‘Waterway’s Conservancy’ will have been missed. The new charity will be governed ultimately, not by a government department but by Trustees appointed by a Council containing stakeholders and there will be regional councils including users etc to advise and consult with local waterway managers. Is that enough of a change; many of you may think not, and I think I may join you. It will be a ‘least worse‘ option and that is not good enough. The other main factor is funding and this has provisionally been set at £39m for 2011/12 and less still for the first ten years or so of the new charity’s life. This is not enough and if this is not increased then there is no doubt the condition of the waterways will suffer. We are arguing strongly for more money, but you are all aware that we are one person in an overcrowded boat in doing so. There are those who argue that the IWA should not be talking to BW and DEFRA and should simply say ’This is not good enough’. However what is the alternative? If BW were to stay under DEFRA’s direct control then the best forecasts show the system will become even worse even quicker. There is no Plan B, so we must stick in there arguing for the best Plan A that we can Page 6


achieve, at least for the time being. To do otherwise would not be in the interests of our members or of the Waterways. And finally, maybe because of this, we have a record number booked in for the region AGM on March 5th. If you disagree with me, come along and talk to me about it then. Anyway I hope to see you all there at Anderton. Alan Platt

Liverpool Boat Show

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t has just been announced that the Liverpool Boat Show, that was to start on 29th April, has been cancelled. Rob Mackenzie, Managing Director of Maine Industry Events, said: “Our decision is obviously appalling news and it has been an extremely difficult decision to take, not least because of the enormous sense of responsibility and partnership we feel for everyone in Liverpool. The city council and its corporate partners, British Waterways, Liverpool Marina, Albert Dock Liverpool and the local sailing community have worked very hard to support this project. The failure and the financial loss and its consequences is MIE’s to bear alone, but it is better to cancel the show to protect Liverpool’s reputation rather than to allow exhibitors who booked in good faith and visitors who would have traveled from all over the country in expectation of the participation of brands who’d made late decisions not to take part. More than anything else, we’ve cancelled the show to protect the integrity of what we know to be the enormous long term potential for a major Boat Show in Liverpool.” After meetings with Liverpool City Councillors, Liverpool Vision, British Waterways and others, a revised event is planned with the working title 'Spring on the Waterfront'. Dates are as before, 29th April – 8th May, and existing logistics will stay the same for Historic Narrow Boat Mersey crossings and L&L canal link transits. Except that the visiting boats will now be in Salthouse dock, rather than on Liverpool Marina berths. The draft, programme is as detailed below Tall Ships (Canning and River) Historic Narrow Boats (Salthouse) Inland Waterways Feature including IWA Street Theatre Liverpool Sea Shanty Festival (Tall Ships and Albert Dock) Liverpool Comedy Festival (everywhere and Maritime Museum) Liverpool Yacht Club Regatta (River) Dinghy Sailing, Canoes, water sports Sea Cadets, Royal Navy P200s, Merseyside Fire Brigade, Police Shanghai Pavilion (Mann Island) Page 7


The Inland Waterways Association Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch invite you to

A talk by Liam D'Arcy-Brown At the GALLEY, Aqueduct Marina Church Minshull, CW5 6DX 2.30 pm Saturday 26th March 2011 Liam D'Arcy-Brown was the first Westerner in over 200 years to travel the length of the Grand Union Canal in China — the world's oldest man-made waterway. His book The Emperor's River has recently been published and will be on sale after the talk. Programme 12.30 2.00 2.30

A pre-booked lunch IWA Shrewbury District & North Wales Branch AGM The Grand Canal in China For more information please contact Janet Farmer 01270 811157 or email janden1@btinternet.com.

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Audlem Canal Art Exhibition 10th April to 7th May 2011

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udlem Mill, by the Shropshire Union Canal in South Cheshire, is holding its annual exhibition of paintings of canal and waterways scenes from 10th April to 7th May. Audlem Mill is one of the oldest and best known canalside shops in Britain, and this is probably the only opportunity in 2011 to see so many canal paintings brought together in one place. Confirmed so far are works by most members of the Guild of Waterway Artists (Sheila Bury, Sylvia Hankin, Helen Harding, Jim Hillier, Rob Lowman, Dusty Miller, Sarah Pressland, Robin Smithett, David Wright), plus Harley Crossley, Dave Holloway, Dave Gardham, linocut artist Eric Gaskell, and local watercolour artist Sheila Webster. Entry to the exhibition is free, and all works are for sale. The exhibitions at Audlem Mill in previous years have proved to be extremely popular, and visitors have travelled from all over the country. During the exhibition (and for the whole of the spring and summer season), Audlem Mill is open seven days a week. Visitors should ring 01270 811059 or visit www.audlemmill.co.uk for further information.

Festival Of Transport 31st July 2011

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he annual Festival of Transport in Audlem, Cheshire attracts several thousand visitors, enjoying a wonderful free day out with over 300 old cars, motorcycles, lorries and buses in the village playing field, very close to the canal. Canal enthusiasts will also enjoy seeing all the historic narrow boats moored up in the ‘town pound’, outside Audlem Mill and the Shroppie Fly pub. SATURN, the 105 year old Shroppie fly boat, will be moored at the wharf and there will be many other boats of interest including at least three former FMC ex-steamers dating from around 1910. Owners of other historic boats are most welcome to bring their boats, but are asked to contact Audlem Mill on 01270 811059 as soon as possible to make arrangements. Page 9


Canal & Food Festival (with a royal flavour) Saturday 30th April and Sunday 1st May 2011

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his year the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust has united with the Norbury village community and the Junction Inn to jointly organise the annual May Bank Holiday Canal Festival at Norbury Junction on the Shropshire Union Canal. This new close working relationship is going to create a bigger and better event with a lot of added attractions and much more local involvement. The festival is being held on the Saturday and Sunday of the Royal Wedding Weekend and it is open from 10am on both days. A new addition to the event this year will be a farmer’s market food festival on the Saturday. This will sit alongside the traditional stalls and refreshments in the garden of the Norbury Junction Inn and on the canalside. A large marquee will host the food and craft stalls during the day but on the Saturday evening it will feature local bands including Dan the Banjo Man, plus the Loveless, the Beat Back Brothers and Inertia. Tickets will be £5 in advance or £6 on the night. They can be bought in advance at the Junction Inn. There will be plenty of WoW activities to keep children occupied. The entries to a Royal Wedding painting competition amongst local schools will be exhibited in the Junction Inn and prizes will be awarded on Sunday morning followed by a children’s Royal Wedding Brunch in the marquee. Visitors will have the opportunity to look inside some of the traditional and working narrow boats to see what life is like on board. Other attractions include boat trips, a small fairground and bouncy castle, WI tea stall, outside bar, barbeque and a brass band. The traditional canalside church service will be held on Sunday afternoon. Early on Sunday evening the marquee will be used for a charity auction to raise funds for the local restoration of the canal. More attractions are still being booked so watch this space. Boaters booking forms are available on www.sncanal.org.uk. John Myers

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100 Club

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n the last issue we invited members to help us by donating the equivalent to £2 per month to join a 100 Club. Half of the money received will be used to pay for chances in a draw and the remainder used to help with the work of the Branch. The need for this extra source of income arises because it is becoming increasingly difficult to earn the amount we need from our present method which mainly consists of carrying a sales stand and the sand game paraphernalia to various events and rallies. Our balances are slowly but surely diminishing. So far, although the take up has been reasonable, we are still someway short of the number needed to make the scheme viable. We are, however, conscious of the fact that we are asking members to dig deeper into their pockets having already paid their membership subscription to the IWA and also, no doubt, having to meet increased costs everywhere else. So it's more a matter of providing you with an opportunity to help the Branch rather than persuading you to join. The Branch Committee will not decide whether or not to abandon the project until just before the next magazine is due to go to press so if anyone else would like to join please e-mail me at janden1@btinternet.com or phone on 01270 811157. I need at least 10 to 15 more "chances" at £2 per month (£24 pa) each to make it viable. Denis Farmer

Trains and Boats and Planes The Winter Walk

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es it was on Sunday and not Saturday as mentioned in the Diary Section of the last issue. Sorry about that but we did try to contact all members who have an e-mail address. We awoke on Friday morning to 3 inches of white powdery snow which hung around for Saturday but fortunately was washed away over night so Sunday dawned bright and sunny with a beautiful clear blue sky. The perfect day for a brisk Winter Walk. Or so we thought! The car park was like a skating rink but the modern car was not daunted and all our walkers managed to park without Page 11


mishap. Unfortunately parts of the towpath, shaded from the warmth of the sun, were also a little slippery. However this did not spoil the enjoyment even if it did make progress a little slower than anticipated. Full notes on the walk are below. Our thanks go to Peter Brown for organising the walk and writing the historical notes and to Richard Dibble for taking over the lead at the last minute. We were very pleased to welcome Kevin and his family from Telford and a small group of Friends of the Montgomery Canal.

Winter Walk 2011 : Horseshoe Falls to Llangollen

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NESCO made the eleven miles of canal from Chirk Bank to Horseshoe Falls a World Heritage Site in July 2009. The citation states: '... The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal are early and outstanding examples of the innovations brought about by the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where they made decisive development in transport capacities possible. They bear witness to very substantial international interchanges and influences in the fields of inland waterways, civil engineering, land-use planning, and the application of iron in structural design.’ Brief history As authorised in its 1793 Act of Parliament, the Ellesmere Canal was to go from the River Severn at Shrewsbury to the Dee at Chester and then on to the Mersey at Ellesmere Port. However, the section from Trevor to Chester was never built, principally because of financial problems. The plans were changed: a link was made from the Whitchurch Branch to Hurleston Junction, on the summit level of the Chester Canal. The water supply for the long summit level of the canal was to have come from the hills to the north-west of Wrexham. With the change in plan, this source was no longer available. It was therefore decided to build a feeder from the River Dee above Llangollen to Trevor, and it would not cost greatly more to make this feeder navigable. It was opened for traffic in 1808, three years after the completion of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the Whitchurch–Hurleston section. At the same time, in order to enable water to be drawn from the Dee during the drier summer months, the dam at Lake Bala was increased in height and two reservoirs built in the hills west of Bala. Horseshoe Falls The curving weir on the River Dee brings water into the canal through the intake sluice and the meter house. The cast-iron cap to the weir was added in the early 1820s. Page 12


The Act authorising the intake contained clauses protecting the water supply for the mills at Llangollen. It did not give permission for the canal company to sell water to industries but by the late 1940s this had become significant, the principal users being Monsanto at Cefn Mawr, the creamery at Ellesmere and the London Midland & Scottish Railway (by then the canal’s owner) at Chester. The position was regularised by an Act in 1944, which allowed water sales for the next ten years and introduced the requirement for accurate monitoring of the volume of water taken into the canal. As a result, the meter house was built. By the time the 1944 Act expired, a further Act had been obtained to supply domestic water to south Cheshire. King's Bridge Viaduct The five-arched viaduct was built in 1902–6 by Denbighshire County Council. Chain Bridge The first Chain Bridge was built in 1817 (not in 1814, as is stated on the hotel's website) for Exuperius Pickering whose extensive business interests included supplying coal up the Dee Valley to Corwen. There were three people with this delightful name — father, son and grandson — but the one responsible for the bridge was probably the father. Following damage by flooding the Chain Bridge has been rebuilt twice, in 1870 and 1929. Although the design has changed, the original chains have been re-used, making them probably the oldest suspension chains in use in the world. (Contrary to what one sometimes reads, there is no evidence that Thomas Telford was involved in its construction.) It is now owned by Denbighshire Council and it is hoped that it will be restored. The wharf here became the head of navigation. The Chain Bridge Hotel is an unattractive structure, particularly when seen from the back. There was a hostelry here by the 1830s. Ty Craig Bridge and lime kilns The canal company gave Pickering permission for the feeder to be improved so that boats could get to a wharf at the Chain Bridge, but Ty Craig Bridge (48A) was not rebuilt, hence it is the only bridge which the towpath does not go under. Set in the river bank just east of the bridge are four limekilns which would have been charged with coal and limestone from the canal. These, with the limekilns’ manager’s house, were built by one of the Pickerings. Afon Eglwyseg Aqueduct The aqueduct is built to the traditional canal design with strong masonry retaining walls, the canal being carried in a puddled clay earthen trough. After the success of Chirk and Pontcysyllte, much lighter structures with partial or full iron troughs, one wonders why Thomas Telford and Thomas Denson (the resident engineer) reverted to the concepts of the previous generation of canal builders. Pentrefelin slate wharf Page 13


The Oernant slate quarries, in what is now usually called the Horseshoe Pass, have been in production since at least the late 18th century — indeed they were mentioned in one of the Ellesmere Canal’s prospectuses. Exuperius Pickering Junior (the son) became a joint lessee of the quarries in 1807. Packhorses had to be used to bring the slates down to the canal, which had been made navigable as far as Pentrefelin. In 1852 Henry Dennis built a tramroad from the quarries to the dressing shed between the canal and the river. This necessitated an embankment across the valley, still clearly visible, and a lift bridge across the canal. The dressing shed is now the motor museum and also houses a small canal display including some excellent models showing how canals were constructed. Into Llangollen The next mile of canal includes one original bridge (46). Horse-drawn pleasure boats have operated in this section since the 1880s. In the last decade the winding hole has been extended and much-needed moorings created. Llangollen Wharf The canal company's wharf and warehouse, constructed in stone, dates from the early 19th century. It was later heightened and extended in brick. There is a crane on the wharf quay. The building was re-used as a canal museum in the later 20th century but is now a café and the base for the horse-drawn boats. Llangollen Bridge The first Llangollen Bridge is thought to have been built in the early 12th century. It was probably reconstructed in 1346 by Dr John Trevor (the Bishop of St Asaph) and then replaced in the 16th century. The four-arched bridge was extended at the north end to span the railway line in 1863 and the parapets were rebuilt. The bridge was greatly widened on the upstream side in 1873 and in 1968 it was again nearly doubled in width on the same side. Llangollen Railway The Vale of Llangollen Railway, from Ruabon to Llangollen, was opened in 1862 to a temporary terminus at the eastern edge of the town. The current Llangollen Station was built in 1865 when the line was extended to Corwen. The continuation to Dolgellau was completed in 1868. It was closed to passengers in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts. Clwyd Council having bought the land, restoration commenced in 1975. The first trains ran in 1981 on just ¼ mile of track; Berwyn was reached in 1985, Deeside in 1990, Glyndyfrdwy in 1992, and Carrog in 1996. The Transport and Works Order for the extension to Corwen has now been approved, and the Welsh Assemby has promised a £500,000 grant, subject to match-funding being obtained. Peter Brown

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North West Region AGM Saturday, 5th March 2011 Come and join us for a great day out at the fabulous and famous Anderton Boat Lift. Your Region AGM venue gives you a rare opportunity to see and hear about the history of the area, meet the people and examine the control room of this wonderful structure as well as enjoy a good lunch. Programme 10.30 - 12.00 Visit the Control Room and see how the lift works Enjoy a walk around the country park surrounding the lift 12.00 - 1.00

A talk by Colin Edmundson, Weaver historian, entitled "A Virtual Walk from the Salt Museum to Anderton

1.00 - 2.00

A buffet lunch from the Anderton Lift caterers

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Region Annual General Meeting

If you would like to have lunch and listen to the speaker, there will be a modest charge of ÂŁ6 per person otherwise attendance at the AGM is free. There will also be a raffle to help cover expenses with any surplus going to the IWA's National Appeal for Inglesham Lock. Please book your place by emailing Gillian Bolt, gillian.bolt@waterways.org.uk and if you require lunch please send a cheque and covering note to Gillian Bolt, 4 Poplar Farm Close, Saughall Massie, Wirral CH46 5NZ We look forward to seeing you. (Please note: the lift will not be operational due to winter maintenance) (The lift site is off the A533 at Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich CW9 6FW between Northwich & Runcorn. Trains run into Northwich and if you need collecting please let us know. A regular bus service also runs in that area.)

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Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch

Diary 5th March

Region Annual General Meeting Region AGM at the Anderton Boat Lift visitor centre. See page 15

26th March

Branch Annual General Meeting The Branch AGM and a talk entitled Grand Canal in China by Liam D'Arcy-Brown at Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshall, Cheshire CW5 6DX See page 8

1st April

Skittles Challenge The annual inter-branch challenge at the Bickerton Poacher. See page 29

29th April to 8th May

Liverpool Boat Show

30th April to 1st May

Norbury Junction Canal & Food Festival

12th June

Dinghy Dawdle

Gillian Bolt 01516 789300

Janet Farmer 01270 811157

Janet Farmer 01270 811157

Albert Dock, Liverpool See page 7

Festival and boat rally organised by Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust See page 10

Paddle your canoe from Weston Arm to Maesbury on the Montgomery Canal See page 28 22nd - 23rd July Lock Wind at Quoisley A weekend event when you will need your Windlasses again. We also need home made and home grown produce for the stall so why not come along and ‘bring and buy’. Please join us even if it’s just for a few hours. Full details on page 27

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John Myers www. sncanal. org.uk Peter Richards 01691 831455

Dawn Aylwin 01691 830403


29th - 31st July IWA National Festival & Boat Show IWA's main event of the year will be at Shobnall Fields, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire. 30th July

Discovery Day Stalls, crafts, activities and guided walks at Llanymynech Heritage Area. See page 29

31st July

Audlem Festival of Transport Historic boats and vehicles at Audlem See page 9

6th August

Day Out at Ironbridge Sight seeing and boat trip See page 23

20th - 21st August

Friends of the Montgomery Canal

9th - 11th September

Ellesmere Festival

17th - 18th September

Whitchurch Rally

Lock wind at New Marton Locks

Rosi 01691 839147

Audlem Mill 01270 811059

Janet Farmer 01270 811157

Peter Richards 01691 831455

The Branch book stall will be up and running all weekend so please come along and ‘bring and buy’.

More details in the next edition

14th November The Plas Kynaston Canal A talk by Peter Brown, the branch historian 7th January

www. Waterways. org.uk

Winter Walk at Shrewsbury Details in the Winter edition

Peter Brown 01630 652567 Peter Brown 01630 652567

Committee meetings are usually held at 7.30pm on the second Monday of each month at the Narrow Boat Inn (Maestermyn Marina), Whittington. Members are very welcome to join us and will not be pressured into any of our vacant jobs unwillingly. Please confirm with a committee member before attending.

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Tugboat Ted

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inter can be a dull time for us bears. Not much movement of LEO and little human company.

The past weeks have been somewhat different. No sooner had LEO's hull been blacked at the end of October we were moved up the lock to be nearer the house to have some painting done on the port side. This was conveniently timed with the work on Hack Green Locks so that there were no boats coming through Audlem. The painter congratulated herself on managing to apply paint on the rare occasions that the weather allowed and was just thinking that maybe we should move onto our permanent mooring when the cold spell struck. Nobody realised how long this was going to last of course and it seemed to make sense to leave the boat where it was for the chief "stoker" to put a fire on board each day. For various reasons LEO isn't drained down and neither the humans or ourselves relished a burst pipe! Firmly embedded in ice LEO was still in the same place for Christmas and a spell afterwards before it was sufficiently thawed to move back on to the mooring. It meant that Ethelted and I had a daily visitor to the boat and a nice warm environment! During this spell the canal was very beautiful, if not functional. The hard frost on the trees made them incredibly dramatic for quite a long spell and we gather that the cameras were doing overtime! No sooner was Christmas over than it was time for the Branch New Year’s walk at Llangollen on 9th January — even winter weeks seem to fly by! I travelled in the car with the humans, all of us well wrapped up with scarves etc. The plan was for us to meet up at the Bridge End Inn for food and the human's car would be available to get anyone back to Horseshoe Falls where the walk started. The 15 or so walkers seemed to have enjoyed a shortish but tricky walk, lots of ice about in Llangollen even though the day was sunny, so we were able to be of use and it was nice to see the incredible scenery in winter mode. One of the human's favourite walks is the towpath from their house towards Nantwich, with a stop at Overwater Marina's Cafe for a snack when appropriate. This works well in reasonably dry weather but, recently the mud on the towpath has made it virtually impossible. Enquiries reveal that this problem is due to be solved with chippings being put down, probably in March. Until then that path is

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off the list for walking — fortunately Audlem has other walks to offer — not completely mud free but at least negotiable. An exciting project in Audlem is the ferry boat which it is hoped will ply between Overwater Marina and the bottom lock (15). We understand that the boat will be moored at the Marina and will be manned by volunteers, proceeds will go to charity. It is hoped to take visiting parties of children for rides — there is an island in the marina with wild flowers as well as wildlife which will be a good introduction for young children. A name for the boat is being sought and we understand that the official launching will take place at Easter. The Branch Quiz at the Narrow Boat Inn will have taken place by the time you read this. I look forward to this event — one of our early public outings of the year. The human's have set the questions this time and we are told that Bears will definitely be a feature! I will report later. March 26th sees the AGM at Aqueduct Marina and with an interesting speaker and setting; everyone has high hopes that this will be a successful day. Details are elsewhere in the magazine and we hope to see lots of you there. Maybe it's a bit late to wish people a Happy New Year but we do all wish members well and lots of enjoyment on canals for the spring and summer, be it walking, boating or just looking! Tugboat Ted

Llanymynech Wharf Visitor Centre The Visitor Centre (SY22 6EA) will re-open for the 2011 season at Easter. Saturday 23rd April and Sunday 24th April from 1.30 to 4.30 Monday, 25th April from 11am to 4pm for Eggciting Easter Eggscursions, BBQ, Easter Bunny Hunt, Easter Egg Hunt, & other Easter activities. On 24th April at 1.30 we will be dedicating a seat in memory of John Martin. Please come along if you knew John. Paddy would really appreciate seeing his many friends and acquaintances. After Easter the Centre will be open on Sundays and Bank Holidays (not 2nd May) until 30th September, Sundays 1.30 - 4.30pm. Come along for Boat trips on the ‘George Watson Buck’, Crafts, Displays and Refreshments. On Bank Holidays from 11am to 4pm there will be special events such as Pirates of Llanymynech and Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. For more information contact Martin Clare 01691 839564 Page 19


Overcoming the Neglect of Urban Canals – 60s style

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s a student in Birmingham in the 1960s I was also learning the secrets of our canals. These were not the municipal parks open for healthy exercise that today's managers are striving for; instead they were secret and neglected, left-overs from the days when they had been arteries of our transport system, populated by people who were themselves on voyages of discovery, in converted pontoons, sawn-in-half narrowboats, and cruisers made of plastic and plywood. Down-at-heel as they were, Birmingham's canals had much to offer and I walked many miles of towpath and took my first trip on the BCN. Yet the seeds were being sown for a new future, shiny buildings, busy towpaths and the 42nd President of the United States downing a pint. Did we really think it would happen? The cover picture for IWA's Bulletin 85 shows “some of the 600 Ashton volunteers dealing with a lock in Droylsden during the September Dirty Weekend. There comes a time,” it said — in the campaigning talk IWA was so good at — “when we can no longer tolerate the appalling neglect of some urban canals; remedy: move an army in for two days.” Inside, Bulletin 85 also included a report on another event which, though I knew of it, I regret I never went to. It is full of particulars — including a lengthy quotation from Sir Frank Price, then the new Chairman of BWB (who later promoted the formation of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust) — and you will not thank me for giving you more than edited bits [... and if you don't mind I will leave out those annoying ... showing I have edited the original ...]. 'Proposals in the September 1967 Waterways White Paper, generally so much better than we had expected (as distinct from what we should have liked) represented a dreadful threat to the survival of the BCN. Whereas so many miles of other canals were dubbed "cruiseways", assuring their future retention, a great question mark was poised over 89 miles of BCN, leaving only the Birmingham to Wolverhampton Main Line, the Birmingham and Fazeley and the Netherton Line through to Stourbridge. 'In the face of this threat, our Midlands Branch organised a West Midlands Waterways Conference at Birmingham University. About seventy delegates participated: there was abundant evidence that the majority of them left fired with enthusiasm to press canal improvement plans on their respective authorities. 'Opening the proceedings, Mr Max Sinclair introduced Sir Frank Price, making his first public address on waterways since he assumed office: "Sir Frank, if you are prepared to wipe away the years of neglect; to develop fully all the challenging opportunities our canal system presents: then you can be assured of the full support of our Association. And as supporters, we can offer a wealth of practical advice and aid." Page 20


'Sir Frank complimented the Association on changing the climate of public opinion which in turn "has played a significant part in the Board reaching its policy decisions over the last couple of years". 'Sir Frank demonstrated that he is an enthusiast for canals, and because of this was determined that their future prospects should be hopeful. 'Next speaker was Peter White, who works with Birmingham City Architect's Department advising on various aspects of canal use and landscaping, as well as having been the driving force behind the West Midlands Waterways Study Group, a body essentially concerned with improving the urban character of "this delicate tracery of waterways". Mr White placed emphasis on sympathetic changes: retaining the best of old architecture and industrial archaeology and opening up views and vistas of water. 'Although from the Sewers and Rivers Department of the City of Birmingham, the next speaker concentrated on the amenity aspect of canals, stressing their usefulness as walkways remote from road traffic, passing through areas of dense population. Ideally, the paths and their maintenance should be made the responsibility of the local authority (as suggested in British Waterways' The Future of the Waterways) and the bridges similarly transferred. 'In a discussion that followed, various practical means of opening towpaths to the public and encouraging canalside owners of land to landscape their banks were suggested: Mr Grantham of British Waterways mentioned the circumstances of Messrs Cincinatti's excellent waterside planting at Minworth, and expressed his strong wish that other firms would make an effort to turn their canal frontages into attractive parks. 'The final session was devoted to detailed plans for Birmingham's canals, presented by the Architect/Planner for the Birmingham City Centre Redevelopment. Already there are signs appearing to illustrate the changes in store for some sections of the BCN, and on the whole these improvements should make the canals more exciting. It really is most heartening to find that at long last initiative for using canals in the urban landscape is coming from planners as opposed to boating or canal enthusiasts. The concept of amenity value of inland waterways in towns is gathering momentum.' The closing notes will find an echo in so much that the IWA has been involved in the years since 1968, and will be in the future: 'as local authorities play an increasingly vital role in waterways affairs, then our responsibility for educating their representatives becomes all the more pressing.' And on one day in those years Bill Clinton had a pint at the Malt House in Brindleyplace. Michael Limbrey Page 21


2011 : 200th anniversary of Whitchurch Wharf

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he Ellesmere Canal passed a mile to the north of Whitchurch, much to the annoyance of the leading townsmen. In 1806 a group of businessmen led by William Turner agreed to finance a branch into the town, lending £2,000 to the canal company, who then entered into a contract with Samuel Turner, a Whitchurch builder and William’s brother. The lawyers pointed out that the Act authorised a branch only as far as Sherryman’s Hill, not Castle Well — the latter being a much better site for the wharf, being nearer the town centre. It was therefore agreed that the canal company would apply for an amending Act but that construction could start immediately. The branch opened to Sherryman’s Hill in 1808, but the lawyers had omitted to do anything about the amending Act. The application was made to Parliament in the autumn of 1809. Telford drew up a plan for the basin, but this would have given William Trevor, who owned much land there, total control of the wharfs. William Turner drew up an alternative plan whereby five people (including Trevor and himself) would have been able to make wharfs, and it was this alternative plan which was submitted to Parliament. Trevor petitioned Parliament to object, but the local feeling was that all he wanted was a monopoly, so a rival petition was submitted and was clearly going to win the day. The Act was duly passed and the final part of the branch built, opening in 1811. Curiously, the basin was neither the shape of that in Telford’s plan nor that in Turner’s — those showed a rectangular basin, but what was actually built was a narrow triangle (as at Ellesmere). This was not the end of the arguments with William Trevor. There was a difference of opinion about the amount of land to be taken for the canal, so a high-powered subcommittee, including the Earl of Bridgewater and Sir John Hill, was deputed to meet him and settle the differences. The following year, he alleged that John Kynaston Powell (the previous chairman of the canal company) had promised him that a footbridge would be erected over the Whitchurch arm; a subcommittee investigated and, without admitting liability, offered to pay him £60 in lieu. Peter Brown

Whitchurch Water Trust

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he Inland Waterways Association is looking for a member to represent them on the WWT. If you would like to do this please get in touch. David Aylwin Page 22


Red Diesel — a continuing saga

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t seems that the EU can never let the regulation of the fuel we use in our boats rest. From the 1st January 2011 a new directive requires that it should contain no less than 10 milligrams of sulphur per 1 kilogram of fuel, which means virtually sulphur free. There are, no doubt, various ways in which suppliers can meet this obligation but if they yield to the simple solution of adding a red die to road diesel, which contains 7% bio diesel or FAME (fatty acid methyl ester), then all sorts of problems arise. These include bugs growing in diesel tanks and damage to fuel pipes, filters and seals, especially in engines more than ten years old. The British Marine Federation has produced a lengthy paper on the topic (BMF Guidance Note to Industry December 2010). The advice we are given is, if possible, to seek suppliers of FAME free fuel. Alternatively change filters more frequently, reseal any joints that start to leak and watch out for deterioration of fuel lines. Research is ongoing on this topic and there is no doubt we will be reading a lot more about it. As if that is not enough there are reports that in Belgium the authorities have taken the view that our red diesel, even with duty paid, does not comply with the European Union rules and have been penalising boats which stray across the channel with UK fuel in their tanks. Seemingly the EU agrees and has asked our Government to ban it in our boats. Where will it all end? Denis Farmer

Early Warning - a Day Out at Ironbridge 6th August

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ronbridge Scenic Cruises run a boat from the Museum of the Gorge, old severn warehouse adjacent to the car park and goes to Ironbridge and back (45 mins approx). Because of the difficulties of water depth and currents there has to be a slight question mark over its availability but mostly it is OK. We thought that we would combine this with some sight seeing and are inviting members to join us for a day out exploring. The itinerary, if all goes well, would be a cruise in the morning followed by lunch and from there go on to explore Wappenshall Wharf and the Longdon Aqueduct under the guidance of our branch historian Peter Brown. The cost would be ÂŁ6 per head for the boat trip. If you would be interested please contact Janet Farmer on 01270 811157 or e.mail janden1@btinternet.com - further details will be given to you nearer the time. Janet Farmer Page 23


Denver Sluice Complex

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hat, I was wondering, is the greatest engineering triumph on the waterways of Britain? Pontcysyllte Aqueduct? Anderton Lift? No — I think it is the drainage of the fens of south Cambridgeshire and west Norfolk, at the heart of which is the Denver Sluice complex, fourteen miles up the Great Ouse from King’s Lynn. These works have to do several jobs: Keep the sea out; Take the river water from the uplands to the sea; Drain the water from the low-lying fenland — as the land levels have sunk it has been necessary to install pumps, first driven by the wind, later by steam, by diesel and now by electricity; and Not impede navigation between King’s Lynn and Huntingdon, Bedford and Cambridge more than necessary. This last is now of minor importance, more significant being the link from the River Nene and the Middle Levels via Salters Lode. Two further requirements have been added in the last fifty years: To permit surplus water to be transferred to Essex by reversing the flow of the Cut-Off Channel; and To make the Flood Relief Channel navigable to Downham Market and beyond. The system should be designed so that it maintains itself as well as possible in the long run, in particular, siltation should be minimised. Not all these requirements are compatible, yet the system must continue to do them under occasional extreme conditions. No other type of civil engineering faces so many challenges. Unsurprisingly, the system has developed piecemeal. The first element, the Old Bedford River, dates from the 1630s; the second, the New Bedford River, the washlands between the two Bedford Rivers, and the original Denver Sluice from the 1650s. Both elements were designed by Sir Cornelius Vermuyden. The Sluice was destroyed in 1713 and not rebuilt until 1750; the present Sluice is substantially as rebuilt by Sir John Rennie in 1832. Because of the floods of 1947, the defences were reappraised by Sir Murdoch Macdonald, which led to the construction of the Cut-Off Channel (which intercepts the Lark and the other rivers to the east of the Ely Ouse) and the Flood Relief Channel. These works were completed in the 1960s. Most recently, the Relief Channel Lock was opened in 2001. Page 24


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Ch

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Salter’s Load Lock

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Well Creek Old Bedford Sluice A G Wright Sluice Denver Sluice

Peter Brown

Impounding Sluice

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Relief Channel Lock

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Ne un w B d re e d d F ford oo t C Rive ha r nn el)

Old Bedford River

The only way to properly appreciate the Denver complex is to walk round the site and along the flood defence embankment to opposite Salters Lode Lock. And then have a drink at the Jenyns Arms, situated alongside Denver Sluice.

Cut-off Channel

The Denver Sluice Complex

Membership Matters

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very warm welcome to the following members who have joined the Branch since the last edition of the Shroppie Fly Paper: Mr Barton from Acton, Miss Bates from Shavington, Mr Carr from Rhuddlan, Dr & Mrs Evemy from Weston, Mr Gray from Wellington, Mr Higson from Lee, Mr & Mrs Hubbard from Audlem, Mr & Mrs Hurst from Shrewsbury, Mr Jervis from Audlem, Mr & Mrs Pearson from Llandudno, Mr Senior from Holmes Chapel, Mr Thomas from Llandudno, Mr Willows from Wrexham. It is good to see new people joining the Association and we look forward to meeting you all so please come along to one of our events and support your Branch. Please note that if you joined in February, details had not been received before this edition went to the printers so look out for your name in the Summer edition. There are several other ways all members can help and support the Branch: for example we are still looking for volunteers to report on the state of the canals in our area; we need members to let us know if there is a waterway’s event nearby so we can advertise it in the Branch magazine; photographs and articles for the magazine are gratefully received; we want a volunteer to run a sales stall; and last but not least we welcome new members onto the committee (the only qualification being enthusiasm and a love of the waterways). So please Page 25


contact me if you are interested in helping the Branch. We need you all to take an active interest to keep the branch alive. I understand that a number of members tried to get tickets for the annual joint dinner at the last minute. Unfortunately the event was very popular and sold out quickly. Sorry you were unlucky – you missed a great evening. Our thanks go to the Friends of the Montgomery Canal and Peter & Judy Richards in particular for organising the evening. Don’t forget that you can keep in touch with the latest news and photographs by logging onto the Branch website - www.waterways.org.uk/shrewsbury Dawn Aylwin

Quiz Night

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've never seen myself as much of a quizzer so it was a bit of a surprise to me to be included with Janet, who is quite good, as one of this year's quiz masters. Having said that, my chief role was technical support — producing pictures on the computer and scoring. That's because I can write spread sheets and, if needed, add up! Despite my misgivings everyone seemed to enjoy the evening; a little unruly with light hearted banter, which is as it should be. And the person who inadvertently gave away one answer really helped to make the occasion. Scoring was high too; the lowest 66%, the highest 79% - an average of 73%. I've long since lost touch with exam grades but I suspect they would all be A's or B's - which can't be bad. The winning team was "Haven't a Clue" be misleading) and they collected the in case they wish to take up the

(which just proves that names can prize of chocolate and a quiz book option to set next year's quiz. Denis Farmer

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Lock Wind at Quoisley 22nd - 23rd July 2011

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his event at Quoisley Lock on the Llangollen Canal is one of the Branch’s main fund raising events of the year. So please support us either in person or by providing goods for the stall. Sounds like hard work? Only if you want it to be! Not everyone wants to spend a gruelling weekend winding locks just because I enjoy the challenge (yes I actually enjoy the physical work). But how can you resist a pleasant stroll along the towpath to the locks, talk to a few boaters, sell a few books and produce, collect donations and then wander (or drive) to the nearest hostelry for a bite to eat? What better way to spend a morning, or afternoon if you decide to eat first? So please spare a few hours over the weekend and join us — it’s fun as well as rewarding. When travelling from Whitchurch on the A49 there is off road parking on the far side of the bridge on the other side of the road. BW has requested that all volunteers who arrive by car, cross the road to the towpath on the brow of the bridge where you get a clear view of the road on both sides. However if you happen to be boat owners why not join us for the whole weekend by boat? Weather permitting we have a welcoming BBQ on Friday evening but please bring you own food and let us know you are coming. Last year we introduced a home grown produce and cake stall which was very successful and popular. In fact the cakes sold out very quickly — some boaters having eaten them before returning to their boat and so had to come back for more. The jam and marmalade also sold out long before the end of Sunday. So if you have a surplus of fruit and vegetables or are willing to bake a pudding, pie, cake(s) or biscuits or make a few pots of jam and marmalade please get in touch. And don’t forget we also need good-as-new paperbacks which always sell well. Better still come along and ‘bring & buy’. To make it more convenient for those of you who are already engaged that weekend and unfortunately are unable to join us we have arranged drop off points for produce but please remember that it will take a couple of days to cruise up the Llangollen Canal for some of us so don’t leave it too late: Market Drayton Peter Brown 01630 652567 Audlem Janet & Denis Farmer 01270 811157 Oswestry/Pant Dawn Aylwin 01691 830403 Shrewsbury Alan Wilding 01743 359650 Do you live in North Wales? If so are you willing to volunteer to collect and deliver home made produce? For more information or just to let us know you plan to join us, please contact any of the above. Dawn Aylwin Page 27


Dinghy Dawdle

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his year’s Dinghy Dawdle on the Montgomery Canal will take place on Sunday June 12th. It will be a relatively long paddle over 6 miles and includes 4 locks. The start will be on the Weston Arm a quarter of a mile below Frankton Locks. There is a good car park, and only a short distance across the picnic area to carry the boats to the canal. The road access will require some care as the lanes are very narrow, and the canal bridge adjacent to the car park is by far the steepest that you will have encountered. Entrants and spectators should all approach the Weston Arm off the Whittington – Ellesmere road at Welsh Frankton, and depart towards the Hordley – Rednal road that runs by the canal to the A5 at Queens Head. There will be ample parking for trailers at your destination which is Canal Central at Maesbury, from where transport will take entrants back to the start. Shortly after the start you will meet the Graham Palmer Lock, and just before the first milepost you will cross the point where the breach occurred on 5th February 1936 which effectively cut off the remainder of the canal until the restoration in 1995. After crossing the new aqueduct over the River Perry you will be faced with the seemingly endless straight mile before the canal bears left towards the hamlet at Rednal. After 3 miles there is the disused basin which allowed transhipment of heavy goods onto the Railway. You will pass under the railways bridge and then under the turnover canal bridge that allowed the towing horses to cross over to the towpath on the other side without unhitching from the boats that they were pulling. Another long straight will bring you to the lunch stop at the recently refurbished Paddlesports’ base at Queens Head. Only 2 miles to go after lunch but you will need to conserve some energy for the 3 locks at Aston, with the Nature reserve on your right. Just over a mile after Aston Bottom Lock and you will see the chimney of the old glue factory as you reach the village of Maesbury. Only one more bridge and Canal Central Teashop is on your left. Entry forms are available from waincil@aol.com Peter Richards Page 28


Discovery Day 30th July 2011

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iscovery Day at the Llanymynech Limeworks Heritage Area (SY22 6EA) is back after a year’s rest! Make sure to put the date in your diary. There will be many stalls, activities, crafts, local organisations, boat trips on the canal and guided walks round the heritage site including the limekilns. For more information nearer the time, or to book a stall for yourself contact Rosi at Llanymynech Village Hall. 01691 839147.

Craft activities at the 2009 Discovery Day

Skittles Challenge 1st April 2011

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es it’s back by popular demand and no it’s not an April fool’s joke. Well all jokes have to be over by mid-day, don’t they? And this is an evening event at the Bickerton Poacher, so no funny surprises! Food (another delicious lamb hotpot at £7.50) will be served from 7.15pm and the match will kick off at 8.00pm. Once again it will be between our branch and our neighbours – Chester and Stoke on Trent branches, so please come and support us and help us to retain the cup. Please contact Janet Farmer if you require the meal, 01270 811157 or janden1@btinternet.co.uk, at least one week before the day. For those who want to camp at the pub for the weekend please contact the Bickerton Poacher which is on the Wrexham Road (A534), Bulkekey SY14 8BE. Telephone 01829 720228 Page 29


Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch

2012 Calendar PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION We are now inviting entries for the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch photographic competition. The winning images will be used in our 2012 branch calendar. Images should be submitted in digital format at 300dpi minimum and should be landscape format for the month pages and portrait format for the cover. There will be a prize for the best picture. Just in case you didn’t already know, the Branch area covers: the Shropshire Union Canal from Droveway Bridge at Pendeford to Barbridge Junction, the Middlewich Arm, the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals, Shrewsbury & Newport Canals and the River Severn north of Bewdley. Anyone can enter this free competition, and photos will not necessarily be judged on their technical merit. We just want to create an exciting and interesting calendar which can be enjoyed by everyone. Please send the following information with your pictures: Name, address, email and telephone number Location of the photograph Time of year the picture was taken Good luck – there’s still time to get out there with your cameras and take that winning shot. Your scope is wide: from evocative scenery – to transport history – to wildlife – in fact anything that’s a snapshot of waterway life!

Please send your photographs to shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Closing date: 1st May Page 30


The 2012 Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch calendar Sun

Sept e

Mon

Tue

mbe r

Wed

2

Thu

3

Fri

4

9

1

6

11

16

7

12

17

8

13

18

23

14

19

24

15

20

25

30

Sat

5

10

21

26

22

27 28

29

uary Thu n a J Tue

Mon

Sun

Wed

Fri

5

14 13

3

12

21

11

20

10

19

9

28

18

8

7

6

4

2

1

Sat

27

17

26

16

25

15

24 23

22 These 30 are 29 just some examples of what the calendar might look like.

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Send your pictures by 1st may 2011 Page 31


Gronwyn Bridge Montgomery Canal Page 32

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Shroppie Fly Paper March 2011  

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch newsletter

Shroppie Fly Paper March 2011  

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch newsletter