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The Newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Winter 2012 Page 1

Maesbury Canal Festival 2012

Laurens and Gregory Smith try their hands at peg loom weaving

A young visitor shows off her skill with red-hot metal

Louis and Tyler Mansell make bird feeders from recycled plastic bottles

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Cllr Vince Hunt, Cllr David Lloyd MBE, Jim Forrester Chairman C&RT local Partnership and John Abram MBE High Sheriff of Shropshire formally declare the Maesbury Canal Festival open

VIP guests are taken by horse-drawn Nb DUCHESS OF MAESBURY…

…to inspect the restoration work near Redwith Bridge

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The Branch Committee Michael Limbrey, Greenfields, Weston Lane, Oswestry SY11 2BD 01691 654081 Chairman Carolyn Theobold, Nb Albion, The Wharf, Norbury Junction ST20 0PN 07976 250681 Vice Chairman David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 Region Chairman Alan Platt, Argoed, Pen y Cefn Road, Caerwys, Flintshire CH7 5BH 01352 720649 Secretary Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 Treasurer Denis Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DL 01270 811157 Heritage and Planning Officer Peter Brown, 34 Waterside Drive, Market Drayton TF9 1HU 01630 652567 Social Secretary Janet Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Audlem, Crewe CW3 0DL 01270 811157 Membership Secretary Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 Web-master Alan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359 650 Newsletter Editor David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 Committee Members Gerallt Hughes (General Secretary Committee for Wales) Ty’n y Coed, Arthog, Gwynedd LL39 1YS 01341 250631 Susan Wilding, Priory Lodge, 154 Longden Road, Shrewsbury SY3 9ED 01743 359 650 Hugh Appleton, Ann Appleton 01691 828124 President

Branch Web-pages

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 February 2013

Printed by Downstream Print

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t the beginning of July the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was spectacularly illuminated to celebrate the transition of British Waterways into the Canal & River Trust (see front cover). There has been much confusion and misunderstanding regarding the role of Trust, its council, various committees and partnerships. There are even those that think C&RT is somehow linked to the Inland Waterways Association. On page 10 Peter Brown, C&RT Council member, and Alan Platt, member of the C&RT Area Partnership for North Wales & Border Counties untangle this web and explain the relationship and responsibilities of each group. C&RT is planning to make maximum use of volunteers and is hoping to work with all the canal related organisations to establish a ‘Towpath Taskforce’ in each area (see page 30). One such group has already been at work clearing vegetation at the Llanymynech Heritage Area (see page 15). The IWA has appointed Alison Smedley to promote volunteer work parties and the winter issue of Waterways magazine reports on the work being done by many branches. It is still planned that Shrewsbury District & North Wales and Chester Branches will look-after C&RT noticeboards. The project has been delayed while repairs to the boards are completed but we hope that it maybe operating by next spring. You can lookout for volunteering opportunities by visiting the branch website and now on facebook The Branch AGM will be at The Alb, 14 Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury, on 9th March 2013. The main interest will be a talk by John Dodwell, C&RT trustee and historic boat owner, followed by lunch then a short boat trip from Victoria Quay. I look forward to meeting you there. David Aylwin

Front Cover: Pontcysyllte aqueduct illuminated. Courtesy of Canal & River Trust Acknowledgements: photographs by Lorna Hankey, Denis Farmer, Waterways Images, SNCT, Llimeys, Alan Wilding, Peter Brown, Peter Richards Thank you to all who contributed articles.

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From the Steerer


or reasons which will become clear, this is a shorter than usual contribution “From the Steerer” as this column is known, as I've had little opportunity to do any steering either literal or metaphorical in recent months. In the last edition of SFP, I wrote about the privilege of being elected Chairman in April. In the event, I managed to chair one Committee meeting in early August before being taken ill (the two are not connected!) suffering a stroke and undergoing subsequent surgery on my carotid artery. Unfortunately this happened just as we were about to set off on our much looked-forward-to three week cruise taking in the Maesbury Festival (of which more elsewhere in this newsletter) so my poor husband, Ira, spent his break on hospital visiting duty. I am pleased to report that I am making an excellent recovery with no lasting damage, and hope to be back to normal activities soon. In the meantime, the wonders of email mean that my Branch colleagues have kept me fully in touch with what's going on and have put up with my sporadic contributions to discussions. We always expected this to be an exceptional summer with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. We hadn't expected it to be quite as exceptional in terms of weather! The Branch has been involved with what feels like a record number of shows and events; from a one-day festival at Shrewsbury in June held in the same torrential rain as fell on the Thames River Pageant the same day, to our “own” Maesbury Festival in September, taking in WOW activities at Middlewich and stands at Norbury, Ellesmere and Whitchurch. The new Canal & River Trust is talking to us about more joint volunteering projects — yes, the Noticeboards Project may yet happen! — and we have many things we'd like to try out to raise awareness of the IWA and the Branch in particular in our local area, so there are more busy times ahead. You can read more about these elsewhere. But the summer has also highlighted how much we need YOUR help to be able to carry on doing all those things. For at the same time as I was ill, another Branch officer was in hospital for planned surgery (a dubious Branch record – two officers in intensive care at the same time?) and other key people had serious family problems to deal with. I can't thank them all enough for keeping going and doing so much on our behalves. The main reason we all do it of course is that we have fun and can make a real difference to our waterways and would be delighted if more of you would join us. You don't have to be on the Committee or come to meetings, but look out for opportunities for volunteering with us or just come to one of our social events – I'm sure you'd have a great time. Carolyn Theobold Page 6

The Inland Waterways Association

Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Invite you to a talk by

John Dodwell C&RT trustee and historic boat owner at The Alb, 14 Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury, on 9th March 2013 Programme 10.30am 10.45am 11.15am

Coffee Branch AGM Talk by John Dodwell

Followed by optional lunch and then a short walk to Victoria Quay for a town loop boat trip.

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Notice is hereby given for the 2013 Annual General Meeting of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of the Inland Waterways Association to be held at The Alb, 14 Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury, on 9th March 2013 at 10.45am. Agenda Apologies for absence Minutes of the 2012 AGM Matters arising for the minutes Chairman’s Report Treasurer’s Report Adoption of accounts Election of committee members The meeting will be followed by a talk by John Dodwell. We welcome all branch members, particularly anyone who is interested in joining the committee or helping out at any of the events. If you are unable to attend the AGM but would like to join the committee or would like further information, please call the Secretary, Dawn Aylwin on 01691 830403 or any committee member. Page 7

High Bridge : now Listed Grade II


art of the role of the Branch’s Heritage & Planning Officer is to keep aware of issues concerning listed structures. Last autumn I was asked to help to try to get High Bridge — that is Bridge 39 near Norbury Junction, carrying the A519 over the Shropshire Union Main Line — listed as a Building of Special Historic Interest. Most of the other bridges in that area were listed, but not that one, presumably because it was no longer in its original condition having been rendered with concrete. Thomas Telford was the consulting engineer responsible for the bridge. Whether he had any involvement in actually designing it is a matter for conjecture; the actual work may well have been done by Alexander Easton, one of his ‘disciples’, who was the resident engineer. It was built by William Provis in 1832–3. Provis was another of Telford’s ‘disciples’, but one who in the late 1820s had switched from designing and supervising to contracting. The proportions of High Bridge, narrow but with an arch 12.2 metres (40 feet) above water level, was a result of Telford’s choice of such a direct route from Wolverhampton to Nantwich, which required deep cuttings. The strainer arch seems to have been put in fairly soon after the bridge was built, but it hasn’t been possible to establish exactly when. The concrete rendering was done in 1961. The bridge is best known for the short telegraph pole on the strainer arch. Telegraph cables were installed by the UK Electric Telegraph Co between Autherley Junction and Ellesmere Port in 1861; they were taken over by the Post Office in 1870. Telephone wires were substituted in 1897. High Bridge is now the Shropshire Union Main Line’s ‘iconic’ structure. For example, it appears on the brass plaque which one can buy as a souvenir for one’s boat after having travelled this route. Show this image to most canal boaters nationally, and they will know which canal it is on, even if they have never been there. Because of its engineering and historic interest, in July 2012 English Heritage agreed to award it Listed Building status. The photograph opposite is reproduced by courtesy of Harry Arnold, who is the young man sorting out the towline at the rear of ‘Mary’, the horse. The boat is MARGARET, a hostel-boat (ex Peate’s of Maesbury, Midland & Coast, Fellows Morton & Clayton, and John Whalley), skippered by the legendary Jack Roberts. Harry’s wife Beryl is the lady leaning out towards the towpath; the legs belong to Margaret, then the cook, who eventually married Eddie Frangleton. This was Harry’s first trip on this section of the Shroppie — he had no idea that he would be living nearby in four years’ time. Peter Brown Page 8

High Bridge being rendered, 17th September 1961. (Harry Arnold WATERWAY IMAGES) Page 9

Canal & River Trust – Structure


he structure of the Canal & River Trust (C&RT for short please, not CART) is complicated. We thought it might be helpful to try to explain it and to say what powers and duties the various bodies and committees have. Trustees As with all charities the Trustees are ultimately responsible in law for the management of the charity. The initial eleven Trustees were appointed by DEFRA, but in future they will be appointed by a committee of the Council. They meet frequently and have executive powers, overseeing the management of the charity. Trustees are unpaid but may claim expenses. Directors and Management These are responsible for the day-to-day management of the Trust, maintenance of the system, management of the property assets etc. They are largely the previous British Waterways management who have now transferred over to the new charity. Under employment law (TUPE regulations) with a restructuring such as this all employees, including directors, transfer over with the same employment terms etc to the new employer. It has recently been announced that some senior directors’ remuneration packages are being reduced to levels that are deemed more appropriate to a charity. The C&RT is retaining the basic area structure of the old BW for the time being, but this may change, for example on the incorporation of Environment Agency navigations into the C&RT structure. Council The Council’s role is principally advisory: debating strategy, raising issues of concern, and being a ‘sounding board’. It also has limited (but important) constitutional duties in that it acts as the guardian of the long-term values of the charity and, though a committee, appoints the Trustees. It meets twice a year. Some members of the Council, for example boaters and trade representatives, are elected and some are nominated by interest groups such as the Ramblers, Sustrans, the Wildlife Trusts and the Local Government Association. Technical Advisory Committees Initially there are six Technical Advisory Committees: Navigation, Heritage, Freight, Environment, Angling and Volunteering. These are purely advisory, and meet as required. Area Partnerships Each C&RT Area has its own Partnership Committee under a Chairman who is also a member of the Council. There are also an All Wales Partnership and a Page 10

Museums & Attractions Partnership. The Partnership Committees are advisory with no executive powers, and meet about every two months. Members are selected to give a wide range of relevant experience, not as representatives of various bodies, although they include many people who are already actively involved on canal matters. User Forums The long-established User Forums in each Waterways Area will continue to meet twice a year to discuss issues of local concern. Commercial Activities Charities by law are not allowed to indulge in commercial activities. The practice adopted by C&RT (as well as by the IWA) is to form a Commercial Trading Subsidiary to manage those aspects of the former BW’s operation, such as the marinas and the leasing of ‘non-operational’ property, and for this company to transfer its trading profits to the charity. Waterways Infrastructure Trust The actual ownership of the waterways system is vested in a separate Trust so that, in the remote event of the C&RT becoming financially insolvent or otherwise failing, the Government may transfer the management of the waterways to another charity. (The former BW’s non-operation property has been transferred to the C&RT.) Local IWA involvement Alan Platt, who is a member of the IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch Committee, IWA North Western Regional Chairman and an IWA Trustee, is a member of the C&RT Area Partnership for North Wales & Border Counties. Peter Brown, also a Branch Committee member, is a member of the C&RT Council as nominated by the Railway & Canal Historical Society and also sits on the C&RT’s Heritage Advisory Committee. These multiple allegiances must often seem confusing to IWA members — they are confusing enough to us! We just hope we never encounter a serious conflict of interest or suffer from certifiable schizophrenia. The two organisations have quite distinct purposes. The C&RT is responsible for the management of much of the waterways in England and Wales under a contract to the Government. The IWA is a totally independent membership-run organisation which is concerned with all the navigable waterways in the country, not just those controlled by the C&RT, and has strong commitment to canal restoration and development. But both want to see a thriving, well-used waterway network. Peter Brown & Alan Platt

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Tugboat Ted


t's difficult to imagine that Autumn and Winter are almost upon us after what might be described as an ‘intermittent summer’. Ethelted and myself feel somewhat deprived; it was June before the humans felt inclined to use LEO and trips since have been few and far between. One explanation for this could be the arrival of a new campervan and the explorations which have ensued. However, I have tried to keep up to date with canal events and we bears have been assured that there will always be a home for us but maybe not necessarily on LEO! Looking back, our most recent Branch social event was the trip across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in July. We considered ourselves lucky to see some sunshine and not too much rain! EIRLYS, run by Jones the Boat, had every seat taken by IWA members and friends and I was fortunate to have a window view of the spectacular scenery from the information table. The fish/chicken and chips were good and liquid refreshment of all sorts available — it was quite a jolly as well as interesting trip. The Lock Wind had a change of venue this year — the bottom lock at Hurleston. We were there with LEO and understand that it was successful and some new volunteers helped to ease the muscles of the usual recruits. The only "down" seemed to be that it was slightly further to carry the coffee but we managed. It's always good to meet fellow boaters even on a casual basis and most seem in sympathy with IWA aims and were interested to hear about the transition from British Waterways to Canal &River Trust. LEO didn't attend the Maesbury, Ellesmere or Whitchurch Festivals so neither did bears. The Humans however were at all of them at some stage and reported some lovely weather and good times, particularly at Maesbury which I am sure will be written about elsewhere. There are more improvements taking place in Audlem. The wharf outside the Shroppie Fly is being rebuilt and while it isn't ‘a pretty sight’ at the moment it will be better eventually. Sadly, the Shroppie Fly is in the process of changing hands — their chips have always been special and the service good — so we can only wish the new landlord good luck! Some work is due on the locks over the winter and certainly some of the gates are badly in need of attention, so we watch with interest. Back in the summer, the Audlem Festival of Transport was its usual success. The sun shone for most of the day but for us boaters the highlight was the visiting working boats which were present for some days. There were more than ever but they seemed to fit in and local artist Sheila Webster has done pictures of them all with written details of each boat. There is more about this elsewhere but we understand that there has been a great demand for the book which the humans have seen and can appreciate why. Audlem Mill has a few left and is ordering more—it could be a Christmas present solution! Page 12

For the near future: On Nov 12th November we will be meeting at the Narrowboat Inn to hear Alan Jervis talk about progress on the Montgomery Canal. In January a walk has been arranged, a necessary antidote to Christmas as well as interesting and fun. Our usual quiz evening is arranged for 15th February at the Narrowboat Inn, Whittington. Details are on page 23 and it will be good to see members at any or all of these events. Have a good Autumn/Winter. Tugboat Ted

A Sketch of Time – Historic Narrow Boats, One

Day in July


anal Book Shop, based at Audlem Mill, has recently published its first book, which contains superb sketches by local artist Sheila M Webster of all the 35 historic boats that attended the Audlem Festival of Transport on 29th July. Sheila is very well known for her atmospheric watercolour paintings of scenes on the Shropshire Union and Llangollen canals, but in this book she explores a different medium – coloured pen and ink. The book also includes colour photographs of all the boats, and an informative commentary on each by Peter Silvester. This is probably the only canal book of its type and it would make a wonderful gift for any canal enthusiast. The A5 size book is available at from Audlem Mill at £19.95 or from at £23.70 including postage. For more details contact Peter and Christine Silvester at Audlem Mill Limited, The Wharf, Audlem CW3 0DX. Tel: 01270 811059

NB DARLEY by Sheila Webster Page 13

At Last it Begins


rom small beginnings… The Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust (SNCT) was formed some ten years ago with the objective of reopening the canal route from Shrewsbury to Norbury Junction. After a long wait in July this year we saw the first actual restoration along the line of the canals. In June this year a group of prisoners from Stoke Heath Prison did some preparatory work for the Trust at Moss Pool Bridge, close to the A41 near Newport, Shropshire. They removed all the ivy and undergrowth from the bridge and recovered the bridge’s capping stones from the bottom of the canal bed where they had been pushed by vandals some years ago. In the process of removing the undergrowth they discovered that a tree root had managed to penetrate the stonework, three courses down, and had cracked the mortar and lifted all the stones above. The original plan to replace the capping stones had to be abandoned until a way could be worked out to remove all 17 stones, take the tree root out and then replace and re-mortar them with lime mortar. The Trust’s regular monthly Newport workparty met on the 7th July at the Black Hut, a former canal warehouse at Newport Wharf. A group of volunteers, including Kevin Taylor and Paul Boston from the Norbury to Newport Canal Restoration CIC group, were despatched to the Moss Pool Bridge. There, led by Steve Evans with his JCB and Fred Cooper, the SNCT’s expert mason, they set about the task of taking the bridge wall apart, removing the tree roots and then rebuilding it. It was heavy work but, with great enthusiasm and lots of elbow grease, the group managed the complete job within the day. Rain at the very end just precluded re-pointing the external faces of the stones, which was done at a later date. John Myers

Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust members are thrilled to have TV presenter Julia Bradbury as their 1000th member. Pictured are (back, left to right) Julie Harris, Alan Harding, David Crow and chairman, Bernie Jones, with young canal fan, Grace Harris. Page 14

Work Parties on the Monty at Llanymynech


ith the help of Glenn Young from Canal & River Trust the Llimeys (Friends of Llanymynech Heritage Area) and friends have begun the huge task of clearing the brambles, saplings etc. from around the wharves on the canal. Although the area was cleared about seven years ago when Stephen Lees got this stretch of canal reopened there has been no on-going maintenance and the vegetation is getting out of hand. So far we have had two work parties and another is planned for 3rd December (9.30ish – 1pm). This is just the start. We expect to Volunteers working at have more sessions in the early Llanymynech Heritage Area part of next year before the birds begin nesting. We’ll then take a break until Autumn 2013. There’s a lot to do before visitors can appreciate the historic character of this part of the canal. If you fancy joining us for a fun morning in good company just come along to the Stables in the Llanymynech Limeworks Heritage Area, or email or ring Rosi at the Village Hall on 01691 839147 for more details. Joan Zorn

The Llimeys

The Llanymynech trip boat GEORGE WATSON BUCK is lifted from the water for maintenance partially funded by the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch.

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Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch

Diary 12th November Illustrated 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. 24th November The Spiderweb Experience Learn how to make a bookmark, canal boatman’s belt or other piece of work using spiderweb stitches. 1st & 2nd December Traditional Canal Bonnets (2 day course) Introduction to making a canal boatwoman’s bonnet. Kit and instructions are provided. 1st December

Saturday Branch Business Meeting 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.

1st December

Aqueduct Marina Christmas and Craft Fair 10.00am to 4.00pm Unfortunately we can’t be there but if you would like to go and sell Branch calendars and Christmas Cards please get in touch.

3rd December

Llimey’s Work Party The Stables, Llanymynech Lime-works Heritage Area at 9.30am. See page 15 or contact Rosi 01691 839147

5th January

Winter Walk Walk off the seasonal excesses from Newtown to Brynderwen Lock. See page 26 for details. Walk leader Michael Limbrey 01691 654081

2nd February

Annual Dinner See page 18. There is limited space so please book early.

11th February

Branch Business Meeting Narrowboat Inn (Maestermyn Marina) Whittington at 7.30pm preceded by supper at 6.30pm. Members are very welcome to join us but please confirm time and date with a committee member before attending. Page 16

15th February

Quiz Come and pit your wits against the other teams. Details on page 23 Please contact Janet Farmer 01270 811157

9th March

Talk by John Dodwell and AGM at The Alb, 14 Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury Details on page 7 Please contact Janet Farmer 01270 811157

9th & 10th March Boat Fender Making (2 day beginners course) Make (and take away) fenders using traditional techniques of crowning and half-hitching. Includes a kit with all materials. 23rd March 24th March

Cabin Crochet (beginners) Cabin Crochet (improvers) Learn how to make traditional narrow boat crochet pieces.

6th & 7th April

Traditional Canal Bonnets (2 day course) Introduction to making a canal boatwoman’s bonnet. Kit and instructions are provided.

20th April

Rag Rugging Learn the basic methods of rag rug making, including the different materials and tools used.

9th June

River Severn Festival

14th – 16th June Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival Details on page 27 June/July

Annual Branch Outing Museum visit, boat trip and a possible behind the scenes tour at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port. Look out for details in the next edition.


Lock wind Date to be arranged and details in the next edition.

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CANAL SOCIETIES ANNUAL DINNER At the Sweeney Hall Hotel, Morda, Oswestry Saturday, 2nd February 2013 Arrival from 7 pm £22.50 per person STARTERS Homemade ‘Country House’ Pate with a Cumberland Sauce Or Broccoli and Stilton Soup with Toasted Pine nuts Or Smoked Salmon, Avocado & Mango salad, with lime & Coriander Dressing MAIN COURSES Grilled Sea Bass Fillets, with a wild mushroom, herb & lemon stuffing Or Sautéed Breast of Chicken, stuffed with goats cheese and served with a tomato and sweet pepper sauce Or Roast Leg of Local Lamb, with a mint sauce and gravy Or Mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecan Strudel, with a Mornay sauce PUDDINGS Glazed Lemon Tart with Raspberry sauce Or Rhubarb and Vanilla Brulee with shortbread biscuit Or Chocolate and Hazlenut Meringue Roulade FINISH WITH Coffee with cream and mints

For bookings, telephone Peter and Judy Richards on 01691 831455 Or e-mail, by the end of December Cheques to The Friends of the Montgomery Canal, posted to P.A.Richards, Canal House, Morton, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 8BQ

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Letters We purchased MOLLIE in 2010 from Nantwich Marina as virtual novices having previously only hired a narrowboat. We were shown over it by Clinton Ford (no, not the singer just his namesake). I found Clinton very amicable so enquired whether Nantwich Marina would be willing to do several little jobs that needed doing to MOLLIE and could she remain moored there whilst I looked for a permanent mooring. The answer to both was in the affirmative and that she could stay until April the following year, a good decision on both of our behalf because I then asked if they would clean and re-black the underside of her. When, in April 2011, I moved her to her new mooring at OverWater Marina just a few miles down the cut just outside Audlem, I asked Clinton if they would be prepared to continue with her regular maintenance, service and winter programme. They agreed to go to the boat whenever I asked. This year our first trip was up the Llangollen Canal and on the journey up MOLLIE developed a fuel leak from one of the filters, not severe, but enough to need attention. We moored at Llangollen for 48 hours and upon arrival I phoned Nantwich Marina and explained the problem. They said that they would phone Shaun who looks after MOLLIE and get him to ring us which he did immediately, asking where we were actually moored. Unbelievably Shaun, who at the time was working in Welshpool, arrived within the hour. He diagnosed a faulty filter and said he would get a replacement for the following day. I explained that we intended to stay for two days so there was no immediate panic. His reply was “let’s get it fixed sooner rather than later”. He left at approximately 17.00 hours and arrived back at 08.00 hours the next morning with the replacement filter. By 09.00 hours he was gone without even having a coffee. On our way back to OverWater we stopped at Nantwich Marina to ask how much I owed to which the reply was “nothing, we only fitted the filter two weeks ago so the problem is not of your making, we will pursue it with the manufacturer”. That’s what I call good service, two visits to the boat, the filter changed and no charge. Thank you Nantwich Marina and thanks to Shaun. With service like that they can continue to look after MOLLIE for as long as I own her. Bob Gale Dear Dawn, In your article (A Royal Date for the SHROPSHIRE LASS) you mentioned that there were several estimates of the distance to the Thames followed by the boats. According to my canal planner and taking the T&M route to Limehouse it is 242.7 miles and 197 locks. No doubt you will receive many other guestimates. Kind Regards Vic Moses Page 19

The Chain Bridge


n 1814, Exuperius Pickering obtained the Ellesmere Canal Company’s permission to construct a wharf 300 yards short of Horseshoe Falls, in a suitable place for him to build a bridge across the Dee to transport coal up the valley to the Corwen area. Because navigation had not originally been intended to extend this far up the feeder, Ty Craig Bridge does not have a towpath under the arch, the only such bridge on the canal. The bridge was completed in 1817, shortly before the section of Telford’s Holyhead Road between Llangollen and Corwen was constructed (1819–22). The original three-span bridge was made from wooden decking supported on wrought iron chains suspended between oak pillars. There is no evidence that Thomas Telford had a hand in the design, contrary to what is stated in some books and websites. Much later, a wooden framework was made to strength the middle section. Berwyn Station, with its unusual mock-Tudor building, opened in 1865 and the inn which had been built on the north side of the bridge, by then called the Chain Bridge Hotel, was remodelled in a similar style. By the 1870s the first bridge had been so seriously damaged by floods that it was beyond repair. It was therefore replaced in 1876 by a new bridge built by railway engineer and ironmaster Henry Robertson, who had designed Cefn and Chirk viaducts. The second bridge was similar to the first and incorporated the original suspension chains, but it had iron pillars and railings, produced at Robertson’s Brymbo Ironworks. This bridge was severely damaged by floods in 1906 but was repaired as it had become such a popular tourist attraction. But in 1928 the worst floods in living memory destroyed the bridge, fallen trees washed down river by the fast current having smashed the bridge supports. The current (third) bridge was built by Henry Robertson junior, using men and materials from Brymbo Steelworks. Unlike its predecessors, it is only a footbridge. It looks like a conventional suspension bridge but still uses the original chains under the deck — they are therefore almost certainly the oldest surviving suspension bridge chains in use anywhere in the world. The bridge was closed in 1985 as it had become dangerous, but in 2011 it was bought by Llantysilio Community Council and Llangollen Town Council for a nominal sum. Grant aid from various sources, particularly the Heritage Lottery Fund, have enabled detailed plans for the restoration to be drawn up and an education and interpretive plan written. It is hoped that funds will be obtained for its full restoration, which could be completed by the summer of 2014. Peter Brown Page 20

Acknowledgements The photograph of the first bridge in about 1870 was taken from ‘Berwyn Memories’ by Paul Lawton — an interesting history of the station and the people and places it served. (Available from Llangollen Station bookshop.) Extensive use has been made of the notes to the display ‘Web of Iron: Nature, Art and Engineering’, produced by Stephen K Jones for ICE Wales Cymru’s exhibition in the Chain Bridge Hotel in October 2012.

Chain Bridge Berwyn Page 21

Tyrley Tattle


e have finally returned to Tyrley with the boat which has been in London for the whole of July, August and September, principally to serve as living accommodation for one of our sons. He is a member of the Metropolitan Police Special Operations team which has been working on the Olympic site for the last three years as part of the security provision. During the Games they had to work long shifts which stopped him getting home when off duty so the boat proved a real godsend. The rest of the family made good use of it too whilst it was there so we have spent quite a lot of time away from Tyrley this summer. Considering that, when we left, the drought was still affecting our choice of route the weather soon made it clear that this state of affairs was not to persist. In the six weeks of cruising getting to London and back we only had four rain free days! This prolonged rain has had a very deleterious effect on Woodseaves Cutting here at Tyrley. The saturated banks have become even more unstable than usual and the Trust have had to close the towpath from Bridge 59 at Tyrley to Bridge 56 near Goldstone because of the of slips of soil and trees onto the path. The width of the navigation has also been restricted by several slips of the offside bank too. I don’t think that in 17 years at Tyrley I have ever seen the cutting look so precarious. I just hope that we don’t get any severe frost this winter as that will destabilise the ground even more because it is in such a saturated condition. The Autumn is seeing some changes here at Tyrley as two of the four houses here have now been sold as their owners have reluctantly had to move to easier accommodation because of their advancing years. Anyone passing here towards the end of October will have seen the two “SOLD” boards displayed by the lockside. If the new owners of the Old Stables, the house with the outside staircase, are successful with their recent planning application users of the lock will see some changes in the appearance of the house as extra windows are put in. Another Tyrley change, for those who walk up to the Four Alls, is that Tyrley Church is no longer to be used as a church. Instead, Alison, who lives in Tyrley Lock Cottage, has been given planning permission to use it as a craft workshop for her rocking horse business. Since the Canal & River Trust succeeded BW they have made it known that they are now actively discouraging permanent moorers, particularly on timelimited Visitor Moorings. This does seem to be having an impact as there hasn’t been a problem at Tyrley since I mentioned the subject in May. It was noticeable coming back from London that their new policy does seem to be working as Braunston, in particular, had many more visitor mooring spaces available than usual. Page 22

On the wildlife front we have recorded a new bird visitor to the garden. This was a green woodpecker which, although not an uncommon bird, is the first one we have ever seen here. We have also recorded another badger visit, this time quite near to the house, but for some reason our most plentiful mammals have been mice of various species. They ate our entire strawberry crop and have also demolished a bed of Purple Sprouting Broccoli. We are in urgent need of a good cat or a Pied Piper! Richard Hall

Waitrose Community Matters


ach month every Waitrose branch donates £1,000 (£500 in Convenience shops) between three local good causes nominated by their customers. At the checkout, you’ll receive a token. Just place it in a box of the good cause you’d most like to support. The more tokens a cause gets, the bigger the share they receive. In the summer one of the nominated charities at Shrewsbury Waitrose was IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch and subsequently we were delighted to receive a donation of £94. Why not try this at your local Waitrose? Application forms are available in each store. Just let us know if you need any help with saying what we do.

Sam Arnott of Waitrose presents the cheque to Alan Wilding

Quiz Night At the Narrowboat Inn, Whittington on Friday 15th February from 7.30pm Last years winners will be putting together questions for us all to try and answer on Friday 15th February at the Narrowboat Inn. This is always a congenial evening with a few inevitable moans, groans and mutterings as great minds or otherwise, go into action. If you wish to build up your strength with a meal beforehand, some of us will be there from 6.30 to eat but please let me know so that the pub can be warned of numbers. We look forward to seeing you. Janet Farmer 01270 811157 or e.mail Page 23

Looking Back


an you forget the wettest summer most of us can remember?

Please try to forget the weather, because it really has been a fantastic summer! Look at the effect the Olympics and Paralympics had on us all – the opening and closing ceremonies (I hope there were translations for those in other countries who do not know us so well!), so many medals and both events by common consent enhanced by all the volunteers who helped millions of visitors on their way, generating much enthusiastic comment in the national press, radio and television. A few weeks earlier we were watching the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, the highlight being the flotilla of a thousand boats. Did you see SHROPSHIRE LASS and SHROPSHIRE LAD, PRESIDENT, or the forty narrowboats, all privileged to have won their places in the flotilla ( – volunteers too)? This summer's other memorable event in the national media was the launch of the Canal & River Trust as our waterways were placed in trust for the nation. In his recorded message for the launch the Prince of Wales referred to 'the wonderful canals and rivers of our country' describing our canal network as 'a vital part of our nation's heritage'. He included a tribute to the volunteers up and down the country and referred in particular to his involvement in the 1970s with the restoration of the Montgomery Canal north of Welshpool ('this important waterway,' he called it, and it was the only one he referred to) with funding provided by the Prince's Trust to a partnership of British Waterways, the local authorities and the Shropshire Union Canal Society, who worked on that length – called since then the Prince of Wales' Section. You will have heard that the new charity is keen to engage with volunteers, quoting Brian Blessed saying, “All the best people volunteer for waterways”. We know that already. Because while these events were making the headlines, there has been so much happening locally, particularly on the Montgomery Canal, where it has again been a fantastic summer. The first event, shortly after Shroppie Fly Paper came through your letterbox – or perhaps these days, to your Inbox – was the Triathlon. Bikes, Boots 'n' Boats had over 170 entrants, from our area and as far away as South Wales, Devon, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Suffolk. This was a day which involved, first and foremost, the Maesbury Festival Committee with members of IWA and the Friends of the Montgomery Canal turning out in force. Two local scout groups entered the event, and welcome sustenance was provided by the volunteers of the Duchess-Countess Project and Shropshire Paddlesport. Page 24

This was an imaginative event which did so much to promote the Montgomery and show how people can enjoy the canal in so many ways. All thanks to the team who ran the event, and to those who helped on the day, volunteers all. The next Montgomery event was Pool Quay Canal Festival, on a wet and miry July weekend ... but I said we were going to forget about the weather. This event was organised by a small team from the Friends, supported by IWA with WoW activity, and featured many trail-boats, and it was great to see so many gathered there on the Prince of Wales' section. As a one-off event in a new location, out of town, on a poor weekend, the volunteers involved have every reason to be pleased with the Festival. In September of course was the Maesbury Festival: you were looking forward to the Festival after the appetiser in the last Fly Paper. Unfortunately I had to miss the event, but I have heard many favourable reports, a number from people who are not part of our waterways world. This of course was the third Maesbury Festival: the first being part of the bigger Montgomery 2008 programme, followed by the second two years ago. So you would think that the organising team from IWA and Friends would just repeat what had gone before – but they didn't, they exceeded it! These events were the highlights of the volunteers' summer on the Montgomery Canal. We can add to this other events on and off the Montgomery, by all our groups, the continuing work by SUCS below Redwith,visits from Waterway Recovery Group, as well as the efforts of other voluntary groups such as Duchess-Countess and the Heulwen Trust. So it is clear that all the best people already volunteer for waterways. The branch is keen too to support the voluntary activities the Canal & River Trust is planning. We have had discussions with their volunteer co-ordinators and believe that there will be opportunities for volunteers of many talents and much experience – and none – to help maintain the canal and its environment. We believe too that when working with CRT we can maintain the separate individuality of the IWA, with its campaign for the use, maintenance and restoration of inland waterways across the country, and indeed of the other local groups. At the end of the day, all are keen to see our waterways used, maintained and restored. One final event this summer which many of the 'best people' attended was the Montgomery Canal Forum, which the last Fly Paper also looked forward to. This highlighted the opportunities of the restored canal, showing what the Navigation Inn and Canal Central in Maesbury Marsh get from the canal, and what they contribute to it, with an additional contribution by Steve Evison from Underhill Farm, Pant. The Forum was attended by many volunteers, as well as representatives of local authorities and other public organisations. (Details of next year's Forum in the next edition of SFP.) Page 25

Less than welcome was the news at the Forum that the Heritage Lottery bid I wrote about in the last SFP had not been successful. We have been told that this is not unusual, but we believe that an improved bid may well stand a chance of success. So this story is continuing … This summer has seen a huge contribution by volunteers to the Montgomery Canal. Our events have shown what the Montgomery Canal can bring to the local community, how we publicise the canal – and therefore the area – across the country, and how our events bring visitors from far and wide to the area. I am sure that each volunteer will have enjoyed the experience and be pleased to have made a contribution to the future of the canal. Our thanks to all – please keep up the good work. Michael Limbrey

Winter Walk Saturday 5th January : Newtown


e will meet at stand ‘A’ Newtown Bus Station (Wesley Street, off Back Lane) to catch the 11.05am bus (English bus passes will not be accepted) to the Aberbechan turning, then walking back along the towpath, with a detour to view Penarth Weir — a stroll of about 3½ miles. This takes us past Freestone, Dolfor and Rock Locks, the pumping station where water was raised from the Severn, and several limekilns.

The Pumphouse Newtown Shropshire Union Canal Society

Keener walkers may stay on the bus until Brynderwen Lock, adding a further 1½ miles. As usual, there will be a leaflet giving the history of the sights. Lunch will be at the Waggon & Horses Inn, Lower Canal Road; this pub was built to serve the canal community, and now has an excellent reputation both for its food and its beer. Everybody is welcome: IWA members, Friends of the Montgomery Canal, and friends who just want a little exercise after the holidays. Page 26

Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival 14th – 16th June 2013


he Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival attracts over 30,000 people during the weekend. As well as attractions alongside the canal, the whole town becomes part of the festival, with street performers, a street parade, dance workshops, Morris dancing, artists from all over the world, a large marquee for concerts, as well as a variety of other venues around the town and in the pubs. Last year our Branch joined with Chester Branch and ran WOW activities – great fun! This year the organisers of the festival have asked whether anyone is interested in helping to promote the boating side of the event. Free tickets have been suggested (but unfortunately not confirmed) as an incentive. Interested? If so please contact Carolyn Theobold 07976 250681

Membership Matters


big welcome the following members who have joined the Branch since the summer edition of this magazine: Mr & Mrs Alcock from Deganwy; Mr & Mrs Annis from High Onn Wharf; Mr Batty from Barbridge Marina; Ms Bell from Bayston Hill; Mr & Mrs Carter from Lon Llewelyn; Mr & Mrs Hannah from Audlem; Mr Mackenzie from Grinshill; Mr & Mr Radcliffe from Tilstock; Mr & Mrs Sear from Woolston; Mr & Mrs Shackell from St Martins; Mr Sharman & Ms Heath from Rhydlydan; Mrs Stanley from Lymm; Mr Stent from Barbridge. Don’t forget that you can now keep up-to-date with events and news on and also the Branch facebook page

Situations Vacant Shroppie Fly Paper EDITOR Wanted an enthusiastic person to edit the IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch newsletter. This lively account of branch activities is published three times per year. Most of the text is written by others but you must be able to sort out their sometimes bizarre punctuation without laughing.

Essential experience NONE Generous salary NONE Ring David on 01691 830403 for details Page 27

The Montgomery Canal Triathlon


udy Richards, from the Friends of the Montgomery Canal committee, came up with the idea of holding an event along the whole length of the canal, using ‘Bikes, Boats and Boots’. It was over 10 years since I had walked the 35 miles with our dogs, so it required a bit of investigation to bring us up to date. Armed with Pete Kirkman’s description of the Newtown basin I was dropped off with my 30 year old Super Galaxy and found the access to the old towpath by the River Severn. This is now part of the National Cycle Route No 81, and makes a very pleasant ride to where the canal is in water at the derelict lock at Freestone. Ten years ago the towpath was rough grass but now the cycleway continues past Newhouse and Byles locks before going under the Abermule By-pass to Brynderwyn where it crosses briefly to the other side before continuing along the straight to Glanhafren. Here it reverts to a rough towpath, not suitable for my narrow tyres, but I continued to Garthmyl where Judy picked me up. The cycle route was fine, but entrants Ready, steady …. would need to use ‘Mountain Bikes’ to cope with the rougher sections. Next we needed to know if the canal was navigable by canoes from Welshpool to the border at Llanymynech. The first few miles to Ardleen is open to navigation by Narrowboats, though most of it is little used of late, so I walked with C&RT Manager, Howard Griffiths, from Burgedin locks to the border. There were half a dozen places where trees had fallen across the canal, and an old workboat was aground near Four Crosses which had slowed the flow of water so that a bed of reeds had grown around it for 30 yards. When we got to Carreghoffa the problem of fallen trees was confounded by the reeds and weeds choking the channel, in some places to the extent that you could not see the water! It took four workparties with volunteers to cut a channel from Llanymynech to Carreghofa, using two Canadan canoes lashed together to make a stable platform to work from. British Waterways cleared the fallen trees which left the reeds around the old workboat. Our workparty volunteers paddled down from the other side of Four Crosses and hacked our way to the boat. David got on the stern and reported that it was afloat, so we tried pulling it out of the way with a rope without success. A local lad came on his quad bike Page 28

to see what we were doing and kindly towed it across to the other bank, so we could make a passage through the reeds. We realised that it would take too long to work the canoes through the locks as had been done with the Dinghy Dawdle, but we did expect that BW would continue to be able to help with the road crossings on the A483. Apparently, nobody had a current qualification to put up the traffic signs on a main road, so we had to employ contractors, and Powys insisted that we had to have bi-lingual signs made! The slate medallions were another of Judy’s bright ideas, based on a design produced by Christine Palin’s granddaughter Lucy. Initially we thought we might need 50, but ended up with over 200 as the entries poured in. In the meantime, the cycle way had been upgraded all the way to Berriew so I was dropped off again on Judy’s fold-up bike to reconnoitre the whole route from Newtown to Welshpool when we were pleased to see that a dangerous culvert we had reported north of Brithdir had been fenced off by BW. Welshpool Town Council included the event in their Jubilee celebrations and were very helpful, and the Mayor of Newtown was up early on the Morning of June 2nd to see the cyclists on their way. We also had support from the Local Joint Committee, Powys County Tourism and the IWA. David and Dawn had already held the IWAlk over the section from Llanymynech to Welsh Frankton, …not so steady! so they organised the ‘Boots’ part of the event, and Paddlesports were open for refreshments for the walkers, and hosted the handing out of the medallions. 180 people took part, with 120 attempting the 35 miles, and nearly all of them were successful, the quickest time being set at 6 hours 15 minutes! Our grateful thanks to the many enthusiasts who helped on the day, without whom the event could not be staged. Entrants came from all over the country and many were sponsored, both for their own charities, and many to support the restoration of the canal. The provisional date for the next Triathlon is Saturday 18th May 2013. We will still need a lot of help clearing the canal for navigation, and look forward to C&RT recruiting new volunteers to help. Peter Richards Page 29

Towpath Taskforces – Working Together


lenn Young, C&RT Volunteer Team Leader, is keen to establish a Towpath Taskforce on each of the various waterways in the North Wales and Borders area. Provisionally these will include the Montgomery, Llangollen and Shropshire Union Canals. Glenn hopes to create regular sessions within a reasonable travelling distance of everyone who wants to be involved. However he stresses that these volunteer groups will not replace or clash with existing work parties organised by various local societies. There are a number of tasks which fall within the scope of volunteering activities and Glenn feels that you could make a real and very tangible difference to the quality of the experience for towpath users, improvements for wildlife and the preservation of the wonderful heritage within the canal corridor. In broad terms the range of work could include: Ø Ø Ø Ø

Countryside skills such as coppicing, hedge-laying, willow spilling, wildflower and grassland management Construction tasks including building towpaths, dipping platforms, boardwalks and fencing User improvements such as mooring rings, signage installation, care and maintenance of picnic benches and managing intrusive off-side vegetation Heritage preservation, managing vegetation on listed structures, painting and small repairs

However the actual task list is very much a work in progress and once the regular groups are up and running there will be training sessions to build skills if needed. All the necessary tools and equipment will be supplied along with a hot drink and biscuits. So all volunteers need to do is turn up with a smile, sign on, wear old clothes & sturdy boots and take a pack lunch. Glenn is keen to make a start on the Monty and in particular at some of the nature reserves, and hopes that members of our Branch will be interested in joining one of the groups. In working together it is hoped to make tangible improvements to the waterways and promote interest within the wider local community which in turn might encourage the recruitment of new volunteers. Last but not least Glenn points out that joining a Towpath Taskforce will be FUN. Interested? Please get in touch with any committee member.

Page 30

2013 Branch Calendar


his thirteen month A4 calendar includes January 2014 and is full of fantastic photographs of local scenes from the Shropshire Union, Llangollen and Montgomery Canals. You can see it before you buy on

A big thank you to all the businesses (Aqueduct Marina; Bluerhodfa Consulting & Web Design; Cheshire Cat Narrowboat Holidays; Junction Inn at Norbury; M & L Canal Services & Mobile Marine Engineer; Maestermyn Group Canal Holidays and Pub; Mercia Marine – Boat Insurance; Swanley Marina, Moors Farm Bed & Breakfast and Holiday Cottages; Nantwich Marina; OverWater Marina; Shrewsbury Marine; Venetian Marina) who have sponsored a month. If you visit or use any of their services please mention the calendar. The calendar was on sale at all the September festivals and proved to be very popular, in fact there are only a few left so don’t delay getting your copy or you might be disappointed. At the time of going to press it was still available at Aqueduct Marina, Audlem Mill and the Shrewsbury Christmas Card Shop. If you are unable to visit one of these outlets then please send a cheque for £4.50 plus P&P (first class £1.20, second class £1.10) made payable to IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch to: Wyndcliff, Pen-y-Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry, SY10 8JS. However it might be advisable to phone first to check we haven’t sold out. Page 31

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Shroppie Fly Paper November 2012  

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch newsletter

Shroppie Fly Paper November 2012  

IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch newsletter