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The Newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Summer 2012

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Maesbury Canal Festival 1st & 2nd September 2012

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ust over two months to go! And your last chance to book in your boat or a stall. So don’t delay as we are starting to organise the available space. At the moment we can just about squeeze in one or two more boats and possibly three or four stalls although only if you have your own gazebo. Space in the tents we have hired is at a premium and has already been snapped up. Tickets are now available for the Saturday evening supper — Lasagne or a vegetarian pasta dish, salad plus crusty bread and butter followed by a musical evening with Naomi Payne and her band. All at the bargain price of £12.50 but don’t leave it until the last minute as admission is by ticket only and Fiona and Iain at Canal Central will need warning of the numbers required. The thirty boats already booked into the festival include SATURN, old working boats (you will also get an opportunity to step aboard one and see how the old working people lived) and three trading boats; SQ11 selling Welsh cheese, DUTIFUL DUCK selling canal ware and the CANDYBOAT (no prizes for guessing what they will be selling). So a lot of colour and pizzazz along the towpath which is also reflected in the orchard and field alongside with over 30 stalls selling crafts, food and beer, demonstrating or just providing fun and games. Don’t forget the fun dog show on Sunday at 12.00 noon which is being organised by Beastly Thoughts Professional Dog Services, and Stokes of England will be on site all weekend giving you the opportunity of having a go at blacksmithing. There will also be fun and games aplenty for children making this a great family weekend. Swingboats, face painting, WOW (Wild Over Water) activities including the very popular fog horns (so bring your earplugs), make your own bird feeder and help to create a 50 yard long rope walk to name just a few. And just booked in we have the ‘fabulous football’ fun inflatable pitch. Young people (under 16s) are also invited to join in the Junior Fishing Competition on Sunday which is being run by Weston Pools along the new section of the canal. The drop off point (or parking if accompanied) is courtesy of Peter Frank, at Morton Farm (SY10 8BE) which is a quarter mile off the B4396 Llynclys to Knockin road, turning at the new canal bridge at Redwith. The draw will take place at 8.30am so no lying in bed too long! To book your place, please ring 01691 671812. Numbers are being restricted and only the first lucky 30 young people will get the opportunity to take part. A festival not to be missed! Why not come for the day (or even the whole weekend)? Food will be available at Canal Central’s tea room, from the Mean Bean coffee van and from French Connection which will be selling sweet and savoury crepes. So a really great choice of food to keep you going while you listen to the band, browse round the stalls or just sit and soak up the atmosphere. See you there! Page 3


The Branch Committee Michael Limbrey, Greenfields, Weston Lane, Oswestry SY11 2BD 01691 654081 michael@limbrey.net Chairman Carolyn Theobold, Nb Albion, The Wharf, Norbury Junction ST20 0PN 07976 250681 carolyn_t@mac.com Vice Chairman David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 shrewsandnwales@waterways.org.uk Region Chairman Alan Platt, Argoed, Pen y Cefn Road, Caerwys, Flintshire CH7 5BH 01352 720649 alanplatt@hotmail.co.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@waterways.org.uk 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 Susan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359 650 alan.wilding@waterways.org.uk Hugh Appleton, Ann Appleton 01691 828124 annandhugh@btinternet.com President

Branch Web-pages

waterways.org.uk/shrewsbury

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 November 2012

Printed by Downstream Print

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Editorial

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n estimated 3,000 visitors cheered Joanne Gregory when she carried the Olympic Torch aboard the Shropshire Union Fly-boat SATURN as it was bow-hauled across the Pontcysyllte aqueduct by members of the Saturn Trust. Canal artist Mary Parry was at the helm. Alan Platt’s account of the event is on page 10. This was closely followed by the Montgomery Canal Triathlon; so much excitement in one week! Unfortunately it was too late for this edition but if you entered why not write about your experience, good, bad, humorous or nightmare for the Shroppie Fly Paper? Whether you were competing or just watching send your photographs and they may be featured in the next edition. Thank you to all who have volunteered to look after CRT noticeboards. We now have a team ready to go but unfortunately there has been a slight delay getting material prepared and obtaining keys. It is still hoped that the scheme will be up and running by the time British Waterways formally becomes Canal & River Trust. We still need help with the Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal and New Marton Lock on the Llangollen Canal noticeboards so if you can spare an hour or two every few months please get in touch. There have been over 110 photographs entered for the Branch 2013 calendar. Both quantity and quality is much higher than last year. Audlem based artist Sheila Webster and Region Chairman Alan Platt have the difficult job of choosing the most suitable pictures. The calendar will be on sale at Maesbury, Ellesmere and Whitchurch festivals, Shrewsbury Christmas Card shop and details of mail order will be in the next edition. When contacting members by e-mail recently a significant number were returned un-deliverable. Please make sure that IWA head office has your correct e-mail address. If you have changed e-mail since joining but have not let us know then you may be missing important information. After 6 years and 18 editions of Shroppie Fly Paper I feel that it is time for someone with a different approach and new ideas to take over. Most of the text is written by others, never-the-less here is an opportunity for someone to present the Branch activities in both printed and electronic format. As editor you will have a completely free hand but all text does have to be approved by an IWA trustee before publication. This is just a formality to make sure that nothing libellous is printed. If required I will be very pleased to help someone get started; please get in touch if you can help. David Aylwin

Front Cover: The Olympic Torch aboard SATURN picture by Harry Arnold WATERWAY IMAGES Acknowledgements: photographs by Dawn Aylwin, Ray Moore, Peter Brown, Janet Farmer, Alan Platt, Lyneal Trust Thank you to all who contributed articles.

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From the (new) Steerer

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aving had the privilege of being elected Chairman at the April meeting of the new Branch Committee, realisation dawned that it would fall to me to write a Chairman's Report for each edition of the Shroppie Fly Paper. I must confess, I have on several occasions offered to write something for the paper but somehow each deadline passes, so I am beginning to suspect that this is a cunning ploy by our Editor to concentrate my mind on the matter and get an article out of me! For inspiration, I turned to past editions of the SFP. Of course, we have been without a Chairman (in name) for the past year and David Aylwin will, I am sure, continue to write his excellent editorials on current issues. But to begin with, as many of you will not know me, I thought I'd better introduce myself and how I got to be writing this. Waterways have been with me as long as I can remember. I grew up near the River Trent by Beeston Lock, and some of my earliest childhood memories are of family holidays on the Norfolk Broads. My father always dreamed of owning a boat but it never happened — I wonder what he'd think of me actually living on one? The route from then to now has followed a pattern familiar to many — hiring boats with groups of friends in the late 1970s, planning trips around closed canals and public transport; a gap while friends moved on to have families; coming back to boating in the mid 90's when I met my husband Ira and we hired day boats from Trevor and Welshpool. I can't believe now that our first trip with four excitable children was over Pontcysyllte, we still have the video evidence; eventually acquiring a share in a narrowboat, buying our own boat when four weeks a year was not enough of a boating fix, and more recently the ultimate step of living aboard. Like many, we joined the IWA when we bought a boat. I met Dawn and David Aylwin in 2007 when I responded to an appeal for books for the Branch stall, and next thing I knew I was on the Maesbury Committee for Monty '08. From there I did a brief spell as Secretary of Friends of the Montgomery Canal and joined the Shrewsbury District and North Wales Branch Committee until Ira's work took us to live in Norfolk for a while. In 2008 I also became Minutes Secretary for IWA's Restoration Committee. On returning to the Branch area in January 2010 we moved to live on our narrowboat at Norbury Junction, when I was elected back onto the Branch Committee and for good measure in 2011 became Secretary of the new Norbury to Newport Canal Restoration CIC. This Branch of ours covers a huge area. I like to think I am as familiar with it as anyone. For many years I worked in the NHS based in Mold and Wrexham, and regularly travelled throughout North and Mid Wales with work. I know how long it takes to travel the length of the North Wales Coast, across to Bala, and southwards to Newtown – in fact, I got to know and love the Monty from those drives alongside it. Now I live on the borders of Staffordshire and Shropshire, at the Branch's southern limit, and I know how long it takes to get anywhere else Page 6


in the Branch area from there too! So I understand how difficult it is for members to get involved with our activities as they inevitably tend to get centred around the Ellesmere to Oswestry axis in the centre of the patch. It was fantastic that so many members from so far afield made it to the AGM at Norbury Junction (the location and my election are purely coincidental!) and particularly pleasing to welcome three new faces onto the Committee. We welcome any suggestions from you for venues and activities which might allow more of our membership to take part, and if anyone would like to join us at Branch Committee meetings we will be delighted. Carolyn Theobold

Region Chairman

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trange things have been happening since the last edition of this magazine, but mainly on the climactic front where the heating still is on in May and we have the combination of water shortages in the south at the same time as torrential downpours in late April. Conversations with friends in the south lead me to believe that the canals in this region will be very busy this summer, with many running the gauntlet of restricted hours on the Grand Union etc to come up North for their boating. I think getting as far away from the Olympics as possible may also have something to do with it, but then I am a renowned cynic. Our local contribution to the Olympics has been the passage of the Olympic flame over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct on 30th May on board SATURN followed by its progress down to Llanymynech. One can have too much of a good thing if it is politics so I refer you this month to Peter Brown’s piece on his nomination to the CRT Council. Some think IWA should have also had a nominated place on that body but that could have caused problems with other groups. In the event there are a number of IWA members on the Council including Tony Hales the Chairman of Trustees. Peter states his concerns over CRT’s fund raising targets which are shared by many. At a recent meeting of Northern Canals Assocation I heard Ruth Ruderham, their new head of fundraising give a spirited address on their plans; in conversation afterwards Clive Henderson was promised that their efforts would not knowingly impinge on those of IWA or canals societies etc. Their main target will not be boaters but towpath users and they are introducing a ‘Friends of CRT’ for regular monthly contributions. This may be seen as combining the benefits of subscription income without the democratic hassle of a membership charity, but that may be my cynicism again. We must remember in all this that BW/CRT operate only 46% of the navigable waterways in the country. For instance our near neighbour the Bridgewater Canal is operated and owned by Peel Holdings. The Government is formally committed to transfer the extensive Environment Agency waterways to CRT but, I suspect, this will depend on the CRT trustees being satisfied that the funding for the enlarged body is viable. Page 7


I have attended my first meeting of the Partnership covering North Wales and Border counties BW/CRT area for which I was selected; this like the Council is an advisory body and not a management committee. This body has a wide range of members representing different groups of stakeholders and my initial impression is that we have an excellent Chairman, Jim Forrester, and the potential is there for this to assist in the cultural changes and challenging times ahead of us. The Chairman of the All Wales Partnership has also been announced but the recruitment process for members has not started yet; this group will have a strategic role differentiating it from the partnerships based on operational areas. And finally for those with an interest in such matters, the National AGM will take place on 29th September at Chelmsford, which I understand is in Essex. This is a little remote for some of us, but the event is being expanded to make a weekend giving the chance to investigate the Chelmer and Blackwater Canal, which is leased and operated by the IWA through Essex Waterways — and very successfully too. Who knows one day this also may be transferred over to the CRT! Alan Platt

Waiting

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e have been waiting for this moment. If you have supported the Branch at Shrewsbury Flower Show, the Shrewsbury Steam Engine Rally, National Rallies or other events; if you have supported the sand game, our raffles or any other fund-raising over the years, this is the moment you have been waiting for. In April, after approval by the Board of the new Canal & River Trust, a bid was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a series of projects on the Montgomery Canal. We are particularly pleased at this recognition from the new Trust that the Montgomery Canal is a cross-border project of national significance with an important built and natural heritage and needs to be restored. The bid is for ÂŁ3.3 million towards a ÂŁ4.7 million package which aims to support the volunteer contribution to restoration, assist nature conservation on both sides of the border (which can ensure continued and developing boating use), with other projects for access and interpretation. The package includes further dredging on the Welsh length, restoring the winding hole at Crickheath (to add to the work of Shropshire Union Canal Society and Waterway Recovery Group on the length from Redwith), extending the Aston nature reserves, and repairs to boundary walls and hedges and structures at risk (unfortunately this probably will not include the Vyrnwy Aqueduct). As you can see, the bid has to be supported by other funding. This has included an appeal to us, and after many years of gathering a significant reserve for just such a moment, the branch has responded by committing over half its funds to support the package. I am pleased to say that there has been a similar move by Page 8


the Council of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust and I am sure we can expect respectable contributions from SUCS and Friends of the Montgomery Canal too. There should be news of this bid in July, and if it goes forward there will be bids to other funding bodies, starting in September. If all this succeeds, the four-year project could get under way in the later months of next year. But for now we have to wait. Michael Limbrey

Volunteers in Action

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uring the Branch lock-wind at Quoisley Lock last summer a local resident approached us — probably mistaking us for BW staff — to discuss several near accidents caused by children running onto the busy A49 from the tow-path. We are pleased to report that on 15th May a team of BW volunteers under the supervision of Paul Mills installed a new gate which was first assembled and prepared at the Ellesmere yard.

Paul with the volunteers Photo by Ray Moore

Canal Restoration n 12th November at the Narrowboat Inn, Whittington, Alan Jervis from the Waterway Recovery Group will give a talk about restoration work on the Montgomery Canal. As usual, there will be a chance to have a meal before the talk which will start at 7.30pm Contact: Janet Farmer on 01270 811157 or on janden1@btinternet.com if you wish to join us for a meal.

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If you would like see the Waterway Recovery Group in action then come along to the Montgomery Canal anytime between the 4th August and 1st September when they will be working on the section from Prices Bridge towards Crickheath Wharf. Who knows, you may even be inspired to join a camp yourself. WRG run over 25 Canal Camps every year - mostly in the summer months from June to September, but there is also an October Camp and one running from Boxing Day to New Years Day. They are open to anyone aged between 18-70 and cost between £56-£80 (this includes food & accommodation). The working day usually runs from 9am to 5pm ... but don't worry there will be plenty of tea breaks! If you have any energy left there are social activities in the evenings (eg swimming, cinema and boat trips) for those who want to take part. For more details visit www.waterways.org.uk/wrg Page 9


Olympic Torch

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hose of you who know me will be aware of my enthusiasm for anything to do with sport and so will not be surprised to learn that when I received an invitation to attend the visit of the Olympic Torch to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, I seized the opportunity with alacrity even though it meant leaving home before 7 am. These days I get confused over what hat I am wearing and recently attended an event wearing my IWA tie only to find I was there representing the CRT area partnership; anyway this event did not require a tie and the day job beckoned afterwards so I just turned up soberly attired. I had got dressed to the rather odd spectacle on breakfast TV of Chris Bonnington being tearful on the top of Snowdon which seemed odd for a man who had just got out of a train, but in the past had climbed Everest and my anticipation was further whetted by the sight of policemen every 100 yards on the road through Acrefair, which I suspect normally only happens at chucking out time when Wales have beaten England at Rugby. The car park in the field was already filling up and a fair crowd was already there, including the local Froncysyllte choir with unusual accompaniment of full sized harp and electric piano, and a great crowd of schoolchildren as local education seemed to have been suspended for the morning at least. I promptly bumped into Fiona and Anne who will be known to many and who brazenly purported to be my paramours for the day so as to gain access to the VIP area, robustly rebuffed by the clipboard wielding steward. I managed to avoid being given a tambourine advertising some noxious soft drink, but could not avoid having a small Welsh Flag pressed into my hand, presumably to wave violently when something happened. Lest you are overcome with envy, the VIP area was the bit past the visitor centre by the aqueduct, from which one could not actually see a lot. I met up with a few colleagues from the partnership and so we were able to talk shop while we waited for something to happen ... and waited. When not putting the waterways to rights we could admire the variety of chains sported by civic dignitaries and the universal dark blue worsted favoured by the local councillors and be thankful it was a warm day. Then small children started to shout and clap and a young lady ran past us carrying the sacred flame and took it halfway along the aqueduct where SATURN and another young lady were waiting. The flame was duly exchanged and the first young lady returned, having switched her torch off, presumably to guard it safely until she could get home and see how the bidding on E-bay was going. The stout men of SATURN then took up the strain and duly towed her into the basin with the second young lady proudly holding her torch aloft and trying to look like Kate Winslett in that film. And that was it more or less. The crowd, estimated by the BBC as 3000 (but they did call SATURN a barge), went about their way and us dignitaries repaired to the Telford, where it being a bit early for their excellent steak pie and a pint, had to make do with a cup of tea and a slice of bara brith. Anyway as Max Boyce said in a different context… “I was there!” Alan Platt Page 10


To Print Stuart and I would like to keep the printed word. He doesn't go anywhere near a computer — he believes it was something invented by the devil, I think. We never get anything from head office now, as we went onto the electronic version, and just couldn't cope with it. Stu never read it, and I was trying to speed read it, and run backwards and forwards to the living room trying to tell him snippets. So, eventually it was cancelled, because when we go out boating, it was filling up my email inbox, and when we got back a few months later, it was just all being deleted. Plus it was jamming other things from coming in. If the branch magazine goes the same way, then we won’t know what is going on, and will certainly question what we are paying a subscription for, and might consider cancelling altogether. The standard of paper and printing is up to yourselves, do you ever enter into the magazine competition at the National? It needs to be easily read though, as the ageing population — which makes up most of the membership — likes to read things easily. Those are just a few thoughts Julia and Stuart Finch

or Not to Print I am completely in favour of electronic copy only. I run as near to a paperless office that I can. Given that most people have an email address these days it's archaic to pay for printing and postage. There are much better things to spend money on that would benefit members. Plus there would be plenty of opportunity for members to submit photos, for instance, in full colour that would not cost an extra penny to include. I'm probably a bit biased as I write a monthly newsletter which has been electronic only for about 15 years! I bit the bullet and decided hard copy was stopped and only one person complained. He then set up an email account and was converted! Now I upload it onto my website and send out the link to it for downloading. No attachments to get caught by over-eager spam filters. It's obviously possible to maintain 2 databases for electronic and hard copy recipients, but hardly efficient or cost-effective. It is 2012 after all! Best of luck persuading members to sign up for the electronic option. Regards Paul Jervis

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hank you to all who contributed to the debate regarding print versus e-mail. Just two of your responses are shown above but they illustrate very clearly how opinion is divided. Nine members have now opted to receive Shroppie Fly Paper electronically. The printed version is safe for the immediate future but it is important to continually monitor costs. Branch member Edward Leetham, Downstream Print, has offered very favourable terms for printing and we are hoping that he can improve on the recent poor quality pictures. To offset the impending increase in postage we have purchased enough stamps for the next edition. Please keep sending your comments. Page 11


The Canal & River Trust

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t the time of writing, the launch of the Canal & River Trust is likely to be at the end of June or in early July. This is later than had been hoped, but the legal issues are complex, especially as this is the first organisation of its type. Never before has a part of government been transferred to a charity. There will actually be two charities. The Waterways Infrastructure Trust will hold the heritage waterways. The Canal & River Trust, a charitable company limited by guarantee, will hold the non-operational assets and will be the managing trustee of the Waterways Infrastructure Trust, but if the government considers it to be in serious breach of its duties or is becoming insolvent, it can transfer the management role to another charity. However, the assets cannot be renationalised without an Act of Parliament. For legal and taxation reasons, there will also be a commercial trading company which will covenant all its profits to the Canal & River Trust. All the principles have been agreed by DEFRA (the sponsoring government department) and the Charity Commission. The Transfer Order was laid before Parliament on 29th February and will be debated by both Houses. The financial settlement was not generous but should be adequate provided there are no catastrophes such as a major breach or the collapse of a tunnel. However, I’m personally sceptical about the fund-raising forecasts. All the Trustees, Local Partnership Chairmen and Council Members have been appointed. The role of the Council of the Canal & River Trust is principally advisory: debating strategy, raising issues of concern and being a ‘sounding board’. It also has important constitutional roles as it appoints the Trustees and acts as the guardian of the long-term values of the charity. I am a member of the Council, having been nominated by the Railway & Canal Historical Society, and am also a member of the Heritage Technical Advisory Committee. The boater representatives on the Council are all IWA members (Clive Henderson, Ivor Caplan, Vaughan Welch and Ann Farrell — Ann is also Vice Commodore of the Nantwich Boat Club), as of course is Mike Palmer, who was nominated by the Waterway Recovery Group. Many of the other nominated representatives also have good experience of the waterways. On 28th March I attended the first meeting of the Council, mainly a ‘get to know you’ session, but many of the governance issues were discussed. Everybody involved is determined that the Trust will succeed. Peter Brown Page 12


Seeking Extra Income

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ritish Waterways does not get money only from sources directly related to boats and their loads — and this is nothing new.

In the Shropshire Union area, the earliest example I have found of sale of water for industrial purposes was in 1785 when Messrs Walker, Walker & Ley were given permission to use canal water for their new Boulton & Watt steam engine at their flour mill in Chester, most of the water being returned to the canal. Water was precious, so sale of water without it being returned was not common. The most extreme example was an agreement in 1922 to supply 300,000 gallons a day to Brunner Mond at Middlewich, which necessitated 6 inch pipes with valves being put in to bypass Cholmondeston, Minshull and Stanground Locks. British Waterways are currently investigating putting turbines in some wellflowing by-weirs, as was done at Marbury Lock back in 1897. A similar proposal at Grindley Brook was discussed in 1882 but the Manager’s view was that ‘there did not appear at present any likelihood of it answering’; however, later there was such a turbine here and at a few other locations. Earlier, Welshpool Lock had a traditional waterwheel in the by-weir; its location can still be seen. Another use of the canals was the washing of sheep. A charge for doing this was introduced in 1873, despite opposition from many people claiming rights from long usage. Fishing has long been a relaxation of the working man. Canal fishing had been specifically banned in the Shropshire Union’s bye-laws, but in 1896 regulations were made for associations’ members to fish between Bettisfield and the junction with the Whixall Branch and between Nantwich and Barbridge. Many more lengths were leased to fishing associations in subsequent years. Initially, fishing was not allowed on Sundays. One complication was that the Shropshire Union itself did not have National Archives the fishing rights for large sections of its own canal — for example in 1897 it agreed to make an annual payment to the Brownlow Estate for these rights for over 12 miles of the canal in the Ellesmere area. The earliest record of augmenting the fish stock was in 1899, when 7,700 yearling perch were put in the canal in various locations. Page 13


A significant source of income for British Waterways is from fibre-optic cables buried in towpaths. The use of the line of canals for electronic communications stretches back over 150 years, an agreement being made in 1860 between the Shropshire Union and the Electric Telegraph Company. Telephone wires were strung in the 1890s. British Waterways derives much of its income from ‘non-operational property’. The same was true in the 19th century. In the early days of canals, it was common for them to create business assets, then lease them to local entrepreneurs to operate, the main aim being to get income from transporting the raw materials and finished products. The Chester, Ellesmere, and Montgomeryshire Canals all built and leased lime kilns. The most enterprising venture was the Chester Canal’s attempt to find new deposits of salt in the Nantwich area — two sets of boring rods were obtained in 1779, and an incentive bonus of ten guineas offered to the team which first found suitable rock — but nothing was found and the project abandoned after nine months. Some canal companies owned public houses, such as the one at Weston Lullingfields; these were leased out, but some control was retained over how the business was run. Particularly at Ellesmere Port, later in the 19th century and in the early 20th century, land was acquired for development by industrialists. Again a major motive was the prospect of fees and tolls, rather than the rents themselves. Another significant enterprise at Ellesmere Port was the gas works, which was created for the Shropshire Union’s own use in 1863 but which from 1893 received income from supplying gas to the town for street lighting and to other customers. Following many complaints about the excessive charges made by the Shropshire Union, the District Council opened its own gas works in 1916. Peter Brown

A Royal Date for the SHROPSHIRE LASS

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lying the flag for the county, the Lyneal Trust’s boat the SHROPSHIRE LASS will be part of one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the River Thames. Look out for it when the thousand-strong flotilla, which includes the Queen aboard the Royal Barge, is broadcast live around the world. Up to one million people are expected to line the route to witness this historic event. If you are lucky enough to be there please give the crew an extra cheer. The boat will be easy to recognise as it will be draped in the Shropshire flag. The SHROPSHIRE LASS and the support day boat the SHROPSHIRE LAD, set off from the Lyneal Trust’s base on the Llangollen Canal on Sunday 29th April to the sound of Rule Britannia and Life on the Ocean Waves. A gallant group of friends and supporters braved the torrential rain to send them on their 244 mile journey to London to take part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3rd June. The boats are being crewed by wounded and injured Page 14


military personnel based at Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury. The crews will navigate 196 locks and 14 lift bridges each way, with the military servicemen also undertaking challenge pursuits, including canoeing and mountain biking, as part of their recuperation programme. The route will take the boats down the Llangollen, left along the Shropshire Union, the length of the Middlewich Branch then onto the Trent & Mersey, Coventry, Oxford, and Grand Union Canals, finally going along the Paddington Branch to Limehouse. En route the boats will go through three famous tunnels, Harecastle near Stoke which is 2700 metres long, Braunston 1900 metres and Blisworth near Northampton, 2900 metres. The Lyneal Trust, based beside the beautiful Llangollen canal at Lyneal Wharf, three miles from Ellesmere, is the proud holder of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It has been providing cottage and narrowboat holidays for families and groups for over 25 years. Chris Symes, Chairman of the Lyneal Trust, said: “We are delighted to be representing Shropshire on this memorable day and proud to be working alongside the wounded servicemen and women who have served our country so well.” Follow their progress on Lyneal-trust.org.uk. When we moved our boat up from the London area to the Llangollen Canal we took one look at the map and the number of locks on the Trent & Mersey and chose the easier route turning onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Great Haywood. We have since cruised and worked our way up and down ‘heart break hill’ and it seems to get easier every time – has BW’s maintenance team been at work? Perhaps this stretch might even lose its name! We did not count the locks or estimate the miles when we did the trip however every report of the SHROPSHIRE LASS and LAD’s journey has a different number of miles and locks. So have you the time and patience to work it out? Dawn Aylwin

The boats set off from Lyneal (Picture courtesy of Lyneal Trust) Page 15


Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch

Diary 3rd

June

River Severn Festival, Shrewsbury

11th June

Branch Business Meeting at the Narrowboat Inn (Maestermyn Marina) Whittington at 7.30pm. Members are very welcome to join us but please confirm time and date with a committee member before attending.

15th -17th June

Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival ‘Join us in June’ at the Middlewich festival. Help with WOW children’s activities much appreciated.

18th June

‘Just Add Water’ Montgomery Canal Forum. Details on page 20. Overwater Marina ‘Safety Afloat’ day

24th June 7th July

Poole Quay Canal Festival at Crowther Hall Lock on the Montgomery Canal. Decorated trail-boats and a host of other attractions including a Branch stall at this historic canal-side site. Contact Maggie Ellis 01938 590543.

14th July

Boat Trip across the Aqueducts Meet at Trevor at 11.45am to cruise across the Pontcysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts. Details on page 25 but please note that the main car park at Trevor will not give you access to the cruise. Contact Janet Farmer 01270 811157.

21st - 22nd July Branch Lock Wind at Hurleston Bottom Lock Wanted: volunteers to lock wind, as well as garden produce, cakes, pies and jam etc. See page 23 for details. Contact Dawn Aylwin 01691 830403. 29th July

Audlem Festival of Transport

11th - 12th August Lock Wind at New Marton Lock Organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal. Contact Judy Richards 01691 831455 13th August

Branch Business Meeting at the Narrowboat Inn (Maestermyn Marina) Whittington at 7.30pm. Members are very welcome to join us but please confirm time and date with a committee member before attending. Page 16


1st - 2nd September Maesbury Canal Festival. We need your help on the branch stall, please call 01691 830403. More details on page 3. 8th - 9th September Ellesmere Rally A good opportunity to buy the Branch calendar or stock up on Christmas Cards. If you can help on the branch stall please contact Dawn Aylwin 01691 830403. 15th - 16th September Whitchurch Boat Rally Once again the calendar and Christmas cards will be on sale and if you can help on the Branch stall please call Dawn 01691 830403. For more details see page 23 27th October

A Saturday Branch Business Meeting At the Bridge Inn, Audlem at 11.30am – 1.30pm followed by lunch. Members are very welcome to join us but please con firm time and date with a committee member before attending.

26th October to 8th December Shrewsbury Christmas Card Shop Your final chance to buy the 2013 branch calendar! Volunteers needed for Saturday morning on 10th and 24th November. Please contact Dawn Aylwin 01691 830403 if you can spare the time. 12th November Branch Talk by Alan Jervis on Canal Restoration at the Narrowboat Inn (Maestermyn Marina) Whittington at 7.30pm. Supper will be served from 6.30pm so please join us for another interesting evening. 1st December

A Saturday Branch Business Meeting At the Narrowboat Inn (Maestermyn Marina) Whittington at 11.30am – 1.30pm followed by a pub lunch. Members are very welcome to join us but please confirm time and date with a committee member before attending.

5th January Branch Winter Walk From Newtown to Brynderwen Lock. Autumn issue. 11th February

More details in the

Branch Business Meeting Location to be decided so if you would like us to come to your area and have a great venue please get in touch. Page 17


NORTH STAR: BW’s Hydrographic Survey Boat

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n March I saw an attractive little boat, the NORTH STAR, moored at Market Drayton, displaying the British Waterways logo. Curiosity aroused, I started chatting with Victoria Taylor, whom I discovered was BW’s Senior Hydrographic Surveyor, and was invited on board. The three people who comprise the survey team, based at Leeds, plan to measure the profile of every BW canal and river on an eight year cycle. An acoustic scanner, mounted on the port side of the boat and housed in a blue protective cylinder, emits sonar pulses and detects their reflections. High frequency emissions have little capability of penetrating material, thus showing the soft bed depth and the effect of seasonal vegetation; lower frequencies can show the hard bed depth. The position, both horizontally and vertically, is ascertained very accurately using GPS technology. Through the computer software, the GeoScaN system provides a permanent record of the profile of the bed of the waterway. The boat has the capability of having a laser profiler which would scan everything above the water line. This is not now used because BW no longer has the in-house resource to process all the data. Peter Brown

NORTH STAR, with the acoustic scanner in place Page 18


The screen display, showing the profile of the bed of the canal when the boat was moored at Market Drayton

Just Add Water

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ifty years ago, the IWA Bulletin (now Waterways) reported the complaints in the Montgomeryshire Express from Welshpool residents: the derelict canal brought 'stench' and 'vermin', they said. However, said Bulletin, the Border Counties Advertiser reported that IWA member Mr R D R Corser had written to Montgomeryshire County Council suggesting that the canal could be used for commercial and pleasure craft, which 'would enhance Welshpool as a pleasure resort, and would have the same effect at Llanymynech'. However much Welshpool may now have established itself as a pleasure resort, it did see the restoration of the Montgomery Canal start a few years later and now half the canal has been restored. In these years we have learned to view the canal in its wider context. Many years ago John Heap passed to me a copy of a Reading University study into the use Mr Corser had envisaged. (In 1974 the total cost for the average boater — only 16% being out for more than seven days — was £32.58 a week, though a year later it was £40.32, “a fall in real terms of about 2%”.) Today, much more is understood about the benefits of waterways as a major attraction for visitors with the benefits they bring to local communities. Page 19


So we can see the contribution a waterway can make to its area. The Montgomery and Llangollen Canals bring together so many features of this borderland area – ·

National Trust properties : Erddig, Chirk and Powis

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Steam railway projects : Llangollen, Glyn Valley, Oswestry and Welshpool & Llanfair

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Long-distance footpaths : Severn Way, Offa's Dyke, Wat's Dyke and Shropshire Way

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Castles : Dinas Bran, Chirk, Whittington, Oswestry, Montgomery, Powis

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Ancient earthworks : Offa's Dyke, Wat's Dyke, Old Oswestry

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Rivers and meres : Dee, Severn, Vyrnwy, Tanat and the meres of Ellesmere

and you can probably think of more. In one community, we can see a connection between the canal and the village: in Maesbury Marsh Canal Central and the Navigation Inn contribute much to the canal, and themselves benefit from the visitors it brings. As restoration proceeds, other communities can benefit in the same way, and this is the subject of this year's Montgomery Canal Forum. The Forum is titled Just Add Water, but really it should be called Just Add Boats, because you and I know that it is the boats that bring a waterway to life, and adding water to the dry section — with such an important contribution from Shropshire Union Canal Society and Waterway Recovery Group volunteers — and reinstating the connection into Wales to bring boats back into Welshpool that can bring the full benefit of the canal. The Forum will be held on Monday 18th June 2012 in Welshpool Town Hall at 2.30pm (following a brief AGM of Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust). This is a public meeting, and IWA members will be welcome. The Forum will hear from Brent Ellis and Mark Baggett of the Navigation Inn, Iain Campbell of Canal Central, and Steve Evison of the Resources for Change consultancy (who have prepared a report on the canal), who runs a low impact ecotourism site near the canal in Pant. There will be news of the transition of British Waterways to the Canal & River Trust, of progress of funding bids for the next stage of restoration and continued work by volunteers to restore the canal north of Pant. In addition, we will hear more about this year's Montgomery events, the Triathlon Challenge and Pool Quay Canal and Maesbury Festivals. And (maybe) much, much more …. Michael Limbrey Page 20


Norbury Junction - the story of a canal community

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simply ‘must have’ book for any canal enthusiast, whether they be a boat-owner or not, is Norbury Junction – the story of a canal community’.

Norbury Local History Group published this handsome, full-colour book just in time for the launch, by Harry Arnold, canal historian in his own right, at the Annual Canal Festival, Norbury Junction on May Bank Holiday. Harry, a National Vice President of the IWA, wrote the Foreword commenting that Norbury is a special place for him, having spent many years working and living at Norbury Junction. He praised Norbury Local History Group for the compilation of “this fascinating story of what is now one of the most popular places on the waterways”. Packed with old photographs, wonderful reminiscences, and extensively researched facts and figures, this is a highly collectable history of an area of waterways history known throughout the world. Meet the characters, most of them now just a memory, read their special tales of times long gone, the happy times and the sad times — all here to treasure. Apart from being an enthusiasts’ dream of recollections it is simply a ‘right good read’. Needless to say people were queuing up for their copy at the Festival. Copies are available at £6.50, inc. postage and packing, from Audlem Mill, The Wharf, Audlem CW3 0DX Telelphone 01270 811059 Dianne Maxfield

Tony Browne, Pam Collard of the local history group with Harry Arnold at the launch of ‘Norbury Junction – the story of a canal community’ Page 21


Norbury Canal and Food Festival

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he Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust held their annual Festival at Norbury Junction on 5th - 7th May and it was a great success. This year we tried holding it for 3 days, rather than 2 and we added extra stalls in the BW field behind their site. We have learned a lot and will be reviewing what we do next year in plenty of time, incorporating the best new features. The Junction Inn field hosted the big marquee and a lot of the stalls. All the evening events were well attended and judged to be very successful. Our thanks must go to Alison Frizzell for all her really magnificent help and support this year and in past years in making this event happen. This year we were loaned two boats by Norbury Wharf which enabled us to charge for boat trips for the first time, rather than ask for donations (which were always extremely disappointing). We had no problems filling the boat and made a good profit on the venture. Our thanks must also go to BW for the loan of their wharf to run the trips from. The major disappointment of the event was the theft of a 3m x 3m banner on loan from the IWA and taken on the Saturday evening from the wall of the large marquee. The local community at Norbury Wharf think they know who has it and the police have been informed. If anyone should see a 3m x 3mm banner with a picture of Saturn at Etruria Museum on it please contact John Myers on 07711 858986. John Myers

The Branch stand at Norbury Festival Page 22


Whitchurch Waterway Trust Boat Rally 2012

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e would like to welcome all readers to the Whitchurch Boat Rally being held on 15th and 16th September 2012.

If you would like to come on your boat the entry fee is £12.50. A social evening for boaters to include a meal costs £6.50 per person and starts at 6.30pm. We supply everything except chairs, drinks and glasses so please bring your own. If you trade from your boat there is an extra fee of £12.50. Stall holders are very welcome also. The fee for commercial stalls is £20.00 and for charities and societies the fee is £10.00. If you just want to come along to see the decorated boats and stalls it won't cost you a penny. How about that for value? Details available on our website www.whitchurchwaterway.org.uk For booking forms please contact Lindsay Green, Chemistry Farm, Whitchurch. SY13 1BZ Tel’ 07968 339335 e-mail chem1bz-wwt@yahoo.co.uk Lindsay Green

Branch Lock Wind Hurleston Bottom Lock 21st & 22nd July 2012

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he lock wind is one of our major fund raising events so please support your Branch. We need volunteers to sell paperback books and produce on the stall as well as wind the locks. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to the boaters and walkers who pass by. Hard work? No not really, in fact it’s good fun! Windlasses will be provided. You are more than welcome to join us for the weekend by boat as there is plenty of room to moor on the Shropshire Union Canal, but please let us know as we have to inform BW of the numbers. However you are equally welcome to come by car. There is plenty of parking space on the old road which is just after Snugbury’s Ice Cream shop on the A51 Chester & Tarporley road out of Nantwich. You can’t miss it. Just turn off the main road by the ‘Free Range Eggs’ sign then walk down to the bridge and on to the tow path. For those of you who don’t know the area the locks are on the right. Home-made cakes, pies, biscuits, jam and marmalade are also needed. If you have any surplus produce from your garden then please remember us. Boaters are more than willing to buy. If you can’t come on the day please get in touch with any committee member and we will endeavour to arrange collection. The lock wind will also be one of the first chances you will have to buy the amazing Branch 2013 calendar. And it will be one of your last chances to acquire a Brain of Monty quiz sheet. What more incentive do you need? We look forward to meeting you all. Page 23


Tugboat Ted

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he quiz in January was a good evening with the back room at the NarrowBoat Inn comfortably filled. Our Region chairman Alan Platt had put together a interesting, and sometimes unusual selection, of questions which didn't throw the hardened quizzers amongst us — or could they just have been more clever? However Audlem Bears, for which I was the mascot, were not too despondent as the score sheets didn't put us much lower than the average and the team consoled themselves with the fact that a wooden spoon was really very useful and far less calorific than some of the other prizes. Well done to the Mediolanums (with a name like that they had to be clever) with a final score of 62 out of a possible 80, they were not too closely followed by Llanhuddle with 50 - tact forces me to brush over the lower scores. The winning team, Julia and Stewart Finch together with Richard Meteyard and Sue McKeon have volunteered to put together a quiz for next year so maybe our humans will do some swotting up. It's a good cheerful outing in January so why not try and join us. Stoke-on-Trent Branch gave us an excellent skittles evening at the Stafford Boat Club on 27th April. As an expert on the game — having attended several matches, I watched the scores carefully. It didn't help I'm afraid, the cup went to Stokeon-Trent with Lichfield close runners up. However, having held the cup for at least two years Shrewsbury Stoke-on-Trent team leader Peter Smedley and Roger Savage with the trophy handed it over with good grace and thought it was a just reward for such a good evening. In the spring edition, I mentioned that LEO had spent the winter months in Overwater Marina where there are hook up facilities and people pleased to "keep an eye". The timing was perfect too for the dredging on the locks to finish and we were able to move back onto our mooring at the end of March as planned. We understand that afterwards the dredgers were on their way to the Olympic site to prepare for the big event and The Lyneal Trust are said to be taking part in the river procession so we will be watching out for them. Page 24


The humans are glad to have easy access to the boat again and an excuse to stretch legs on some of the rather chilly spring days we have had although they will have to do their own boat minding instead of relying on the Marina. Don’t forget that Overwater Marina is having a Safety Afloat day on 24th June. The crew are all regretting not being able to attend as we will be joining the Chester branch rally at Northwich but are hoping to have a presence there with our banner and information — we feel sure that Overwater will make it a worthwhile day to visit. Fish and Chips do seem to be a feature of our boating outings and the next one is when Jones the Boat takes us over the Pontcysyllte on Saturday 14th July. The humans have been to Trevor to check out the instructions to get there which are much as given but, it might help to know that the small village of Acrefair comes just before the Trevor sign. You go through this and turn left immediately before the Trevor sign. It is marked Boat Trips "Jones the Boat" as is the next turning right in the lane which brings you on to the wharf. Bookings are coming in but we have room for more so why not join us for an unusual luncheon venue! Details are in the last magazine and on the website, or phone Janet Farmer on 01270 811157. Tugboat Ted NB, It's good to know that our editor has found the "Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything" The bears on LEO have known for ages — he just wouldn't listen!

Membership Matters

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he Branch welcomes the following members who have joined the Association since the Spring edition of this magazine: Mr Cook from Bridgnorth, Mr Ferdinando from Colwyn Bay, Mr Hall & Dr Quine from Nantwich, Mr & Mrs Healey from Nantwich, Mr Hill & Mrs Ayash-Hill from Bomere Heath, Mr Hughman from Caernarfon, Mr Keeves from Menai Bridge, Mr & Mrs Prior from Hilton, Mr & Mrs Proudlove from Colwyn Bay, Mr & Mrs Tomsett from Stoke Heath, and Mr Watts from Audlem. It’s great to see so many new members joining the Branch and we hope to see you all at one of our events this summer. Although this edition is likely to reach you by mid June the copy was sent to the printers before details of people who joined in May were circulated. Blame the Bank Holiday weekend! However you will not be forgotten and will appear in the Winter edition. If you are available and willing, please volunteer to help at one of the events advertised in the centre pages. We particularly need help with the lock wind and need volunteers to work in the Shrewsbury Christmas Card shop later in the year. We will also be running the branch stall at the Ellesmere and Whitchurch boat rallies – so why not come along and join in. Someone to cover the lunch break would be appreciated. Page 25


A Cycle Ride from Newtown to Welshpool ne of the reasons for starting the Triathlon on 2nd June with a cycle ride was the improvements that have been made to the towpath at that end of the canal.

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Access to the Severn Way is through a gate off Dolafon Road and along a short path to join the National Cycle Path 81. Soon after setting off you pass under the footbridge near the old Pump House before joining the original route of the canal. You cycle under a canal bridge before joining the original towpath that leads through pleasant woodland. There are several gates to negotiate and on one of them is a sign telling you that you are entering the Montgomery Canal Greenway — a shared use path accessible to all supported by Sustrans, Countryside Council for Wales and British Waterways. You pass the ruins of Dolfor Lock and follow the dry canal bed to Freestone Lock which hides behind a belt of trees. Here the water starts and the far banks are covered in gorse. The canal winds under a bridge before reaching Aberbechan where you have to negotiate gates to cross the road. The next lock is Newhouse, recently restored by the volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society, quickly followed by the very pretty Byles Lock with a cottage on the far bank. At the Abermule by-pass the canal goes through a tunnel and the cycleway goes through a gate and under the main road before climbing back to join the canal with the River Severn close by. At Brynderwyn lock the cottages butt right up to the narrow towpath so it has been diverted onto the other bank between the bridges. The second one, that used to take the road to Abermule, drops steeply down to the towpath as it leads back under the bridge and it is safer to dismount if the cobbles are wet or you might end up in the canal. A long straight, running by the main road, is broken up by swing bridges before you come to Glanhafren bridge, dated 1889, where it is best to duck. Until this spring, this is where the cycleway ended and the towpath reverted to grass crisscrossed by tree roots, but now a long, flat cindered straight bordered by trees leads you to a deep cutting before the first of three crossings of the A483. These crossings have been improved by dropping the kerbstones and installing easily opened single gates but the traffic can be very busy so take care. The next section is guarded by a ‘navvy’, one of the better canalside sculptures. It leads under a canal bridge before another swing bridge gives access to cottages on the far bank. You soon cross back to the other side of the road and then meet one or two exotic animals that you do not expect to find by a canal. Penllwyn Lodges are beautifully landscaped, and blend into the countryside. The towpath is now separated from the main road by fields with sheep and often flocks of Canada geese. The two routes meet again at Garthmyl where the Nags Head has recently been renovated. Crossing the main road again to pass in front of the hostelry you come to the original main road bridge and re-join the Page 26


towpath on the far side. Until recently this would have been very difficult to cycle along, but it has been supported and built up, and is now quite safe. Half timbered cottages and a nursery bring you to Refail where gates protect the crossing of a minor road. This is where the present improvements stop, but the next section to the aqueduct and Berriew was restored several years ago, so it is not until you leave the picturesque village that the Montgomery canal gets to a tunnel under the next road crossing, that the towpath reverts to grass for the time being. There are now 3 miles of the original towpath, that many prefer, but it is not so easy to cycle. Berriew lock is already within sight, and its cottage is being renovated, the garden protected by gates at either end. There is a small Aqueduct approaching Brithdir lock where it might be safer to dismount as it is very narrow here. Brithdir is the deepest lock on the Montgomery so the towpath drops steeply afterwards with a nature reserve on your left. The culvert jutting into the towpath was an accident waiting to happen and BW have now fenced this off. Anyone interested in Fergi tractors will see a graveyard of them on the way to the double locks at Belan. Do not give them too much attention as the tree roots here can throw bikes off course and the towpath is uneven under the bridges. The cindered towpath starts again after Belan for the remaining mile into Welshpool. It crosses under the old main road at Whitehouse where it might be safer to dismount and then leads straight into Welshpool, going past the Lock and Museum before reaching the Wharf. On 2nd June the Mayor and Town Crier will be waiting to greet riders on the far side of the newly restored Railway Bridge, but on any other day you must find somewhere to quench your thirst before cycling back again! Peter Richards

Brain of Monty 2012

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ack by popular demand this biennial quiz is still available although you now only have just two months to work out all the answers. There are 60 questions all taken from the tie-breakers from last time and every answer contains MONT somewhere. For example ‘The father of the RAF’ is Hugh Montague Trenchard. To get your copy please send £1 (or £1 plus a donation) and a SAE to: Brain of Monty, Wyndcliff, Pen-y-Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS. If you don’t like sending money through the post then please write your cheque to the Friends of the Montgomery Canal. The winner will be announced at the Maesbury Canal Festival on Sunday 2nd September and all profits will go to restoration projects on the Montgomery Canal. Good luck! Page 27


Tyrley Tattle

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pril has certainly been a contrast to the same month last year. By early May last year the bees had already collected a sizeable amount of honey, this year, due to the cold and wet, they have hardly been able to forage and I still have to feed two hives with syrup. However, the poor weather doesn’t seem to have deterred boaters and the canal has had some very busy spells both before and after Easter. It seems that many boats are heading this way to avoid the drought conditions which are plaguing the Grand Union and Oxford Canals. Not that the Shroppie is entirely free from water problems with its only reservoir, Belvide, still not full although much better than at this time last year. In fact it hasn’t been used so far this year as the sewerage works at Autherley and the Staffs and Worcs Canal have, between them, been providing sufficient water to keep this canal running. One noticeable decrease has been in the number of historic working boats. We usually see quite a few passing through on their way to the Easter events at Ellesmere Port but this year there don’t seem to have been nearly as many as usual, and this was borne out by equally meagre sightings after Easter when the boats normally return home. Navigation in the area has been helped by the presence for a few weeks of the tree contractors who have been active in trimming back overhanging branches which are especially obstructive in Woodseaves Cutting. Unfortunately, the day after they finished work on this section there was a tree down across the canal in the cutting and they had to be brought back to clear it. This was the first of several incidents due to fallen trees around Tyrley, the last of which was just at the end of April when a landslip in Woodseaves cutting also caused some trees to be uprooted. The slip itself didn’t close the navigation but boats were stopped for almost 24 hours to enable the trees to be cleared with only a few hire boats being allowed passage to get them back to bases at Norbury and Brewood in time for their turnaround. One thing which has been a new feature of the visitor moorings at Tyrley has been a sudden arrival of a series of “continuous moorers,” boats which have been long overstaying the permitted visitor mooring time of 48 hours as signposted. As I write there are no fewer than three of them on a visitor mooring that only holds four boats. One of them was here for over two weeks at Easter and this causes problems for genuine visitors, especially those on hire boats. In one case a hire boat felt obliged to go down the locks in the dark as the only available mooring space was on the lock mooring itself. Angela Barnett, the BW enforcement officer, is aware of the problem and does try to keep them moving but I hope that the new Trust will take a serious look at the problem as I can’t help but feel there is a possible revenue stream being missed here somewhere. Page 28


Wildlife is as active as ever around Tyrley. After a record year last year for breeding House Martins the first of this year’s returning birds made their appearance yesterday to start examining the nests used on their previous visits. I recently acquired a wildlife camera which operates with an infra red flash at night. It duly recorded a nightly visit from a fox, one with a damaged foot which was making it limp, but to our surprise a badger made its debut in the early hours of one morning. There are badgers in the area but we have had no previous indication of them making regular visits to the garden. Our latest wildlife finds have been with the avian world as we have a wren nesting in an old mop head in the garden shed and a blackbird has built a nest on top of the wood pile in the woodshed. Regular visitors to Tyrley Locks will notice the absence of the “NO to the EU� sign on the balcony of one of the lockside cottages. Due to ill health the owners, Ken & Megan, have decided to move to a less isolated home after their many years here at Tyrley and they will be much missed by the other residents. Ken, incidentally, was responsible for making the pattern for the Shroppie mileposts obtained by SUCS to replace ones which were missing. They can be easily distinguished from the original posts by the addition of an oval date plate near the base of the post.

Richard Hall

Floats mark the obstruction caused by landslip in Woodseaves Cutting Page 29


Maureen Shaw

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riday March 30th saw the funeral of one of the great characters of the North West waterways when a crowd of some two hundred gathered at Wardle Lock to escort Maureen Shaw on her last journey by boat. Narrowboat TAY came down the Middlewich Arm to enter the lock that Maureen had cared for and lived by for so long. My memories went back to the 1980s when, as a very novice boater, I turned the corner from the Trent & Mersey and tied up to check things out. A boater was brave enough to ignore Maureen’s suggestion that he let the top paddles up ‘just a quarter’, for in those days the paddles were not limited as they are now, and the crash of his boat hitting the cill was equalled by Maureen’s comments on his foolhardiness. I was careful to take my boat up on quarter paddles! At that time she and her husband Jack had been living in the lock cottage for some years. She was born to a boating family 77 years ago and at the age of one, as her mother already had a large family, she was handed over to a childless family (an adoption procedure that is unthinkable today). As was the norm for boaters’ families her formal education was minimal and when 16 she married Jack. When the age of commercial carrying came to an end they moved into the cottage and Jack worked as a lockkeeper and lengthsman. Over the years that followed many of us made their acquaintance, and after Jack died in the 1990s following a brave struggle with cancer, she carried on minding the lock, helping boats through and making friends with all of us. The chat with the steerer would continue as the lock filled or emptied and carry on up the cut. Sweets were dispensed to children, and samples from the RHM factory where she worked handed over. Maureen also was a welcome speaker at various branch and boaters’ gatherings and I recall hearing an interview on the Radio when her cottage was the model for a London Boat Show display. Maureen carried on at the lock and the last time I saw her there, she needlessly apologized for not being able to close the gate on her side and looked very frail, so I was not surprised to hear she had moved into care, and then in March to be copied in on an number of emails telling of her passing. As TAY moved out of the lock and turned into the basin the crowd followed her down to the locks and with so many helpers at the locks and the road cleared ahead of her the three narrow locks were soon passed through and the boat tied up at Town Wharf where the hearse waited to take her the short distance across the road to Middlewich Parish Church where extra chairs had to be mustered to accommodate the family and friends. To paraphrase someone who I was chatting to as we followed her down the flight; ‘They may call it Wardle Lock on the map, but to me it’ll always be ‘Maureen’s Lock’. Alan Platt Page 30


Narrowboat TAY carrying Maureen Shaw

Maureen Shaw Appeal

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any have expressed a wish to provide a tribute to Maureen by way of an interpretation panel which would tell the remarkable story of this special lady and her life as a working boater. From being born into a working boat family, given away, and then working the boats with her husband Jack, this fascinating historical account will be read with interest in years to come by boaters and walkers alike. It will be located at Wardle Lock, adjacent to the lock cottage, where she spent the latter part of her life keeping a watchful eye and assisting the boaters. If you feel that you would like to contribute please send a donation, by cheque, made payable to IWA Chester and District Branch with the reverse side marked “Maureen Shaw appeal” to: Peter Bolt, 4 Poplar Farm Close, Saughall Massie, Wirral CH46 5NZ The closing date will be after the Middlewich Festival in June and it is hoped to have an official “unveiling” of the new panel in the autumn. Page 31


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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Shroppie Fly Paper June 2012  

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch newsletter

Shroppie Fly Paper June 2012  

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch newsletter