September - December 2016 / Issue 173 IWA South West Region
South West Region Committees South West Region Committee: Chairman: *Roger Holmes Members: *Bob Abbott Hon. Secretary: *Ray Alexander *Geoff Harman Sou’Wester Editor: *Joyce Potts *Peter Kelly Navigation Committee Lynda Martin *Martin Turner *Tony Pugh Representative: Avon & Wiltshire Branch Committee: President: Fred Blampied Chairman: Vacant Hon. Secretary: *Tim Wheeldon Hon. Treasurer: *David Chalmers Events Officer: *Geoff Harman Assistant Events Officer: *Geoff Brown 100 Club Administrator & Publicity: *Vivienne Hook Salisbury Group: *Ron & Myra Glover Jon Van de Geer
Gloucestershire & Herefordshire Branch Committee: Chairman: *Martin Turner Members: Maggie Jones Vice Chairman & David Ramsey Publicity Officer: *Roger Holmes Secretary: Vacant Treasurer: Vacant
South Wales Branch Committee: Chairman: *Tony Pugh Hon. Secretary: Vacant Treasurer: Henry Brown Membership Officer: *Tony Pugh Publicity Officer: Vacant
Members: Gareth Hughes Mike Synan Gill Thomas
West Country Branch Committee: Chairman: *Bob Abbott Members: Pat Robinson Hon. Secretary: *Peter Kelly Julian Gibson Hon. Treasurer: *Ray Alexander Gwyneth Wright Minutes Secretary: *Chris Jewell Volunteer Co‐ordinator: *Mike Slade *Contact details for these appear inside the back cover. 2
It has been a summer of good and bad news. The Cotswold Canal Trust disappointingly did not get the expected grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which has put back the plan to join Stroud to the main system at Saul. I understand that they will be resubmitting the bid in the near future, I hope they will be successful next time. It was pleasing to hear that the Hereford and Gloucester Canal Trust received the Queen’s award for volunteering. The IWA AGM will be soon upon us. Details have already been sent in the latest edition of Waterways. It is not the boring event you might think, just look at the programme. There are some important changes to the articles of association (the rules) which should if passed improve the way IWA is run. It is about now that branches start their social programmes, I know that a lot of effort goes into this and elsewhere in this edition there are details. The summer so far has not been good and those boaters amongst you have had to survive everything the British summer has to offer. There also appears to be a larger number of stoppages on the system which I hope is not an indication of lack of maintenance by CRT (Canal and River Trust). I have personally noticed that the towpaths etc. seem to need some extra mowing etc. This is something CRT needs to address. Roger Holmes
Notices IWA Avon and Wilts Branch 100 Club The winners of the Summer Draw for the Branch 100 club were: Mr Phillips £29.70 1 prize: nd Mr Ware £17.82 2 prize: rd Miss Reeder £11.88 3 prize: The monies raised this year will be donated to the WRG Van Appeal. If you would like to participate in the 100 Club draws (3 per year) please contact: email@example.com st
Wanted & Unwanted? Items wanted: Any Gardening/Scrub clearing hand Items Free to Collector: tools, long handled Rakes/Hooks, grap‐ Old but good Overhead Projector (Not pling irons and large nets etc. etc. for Power Point). Also small portable TV/ West Country Branch Volunteers Video player. canal side work. Phone Bob Abbott (Somerset area) on Can collect. Contact mobile or leave message. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 07850 529102.
News Bridgwater & Taunton Canal By Ray Alexander Canal & River Trust is investing £159,000 this summer on refurbishing Standards Lock on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal in Somerset. The eight‐week programme involves replacing the lock gates and other renewal works to the lock chamber. Standards Lock is approximately 5 miles south east of Bridgwater Docks and has a rise of just over 5 feet. It is at the southern end of one of the sections of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal that has been adopted by the West Country Branch volunteers. Photo of Standards Lock on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal by Julian Gibson
Bridgwater Tidal Barrier Campaign By Ray Alexander
The Environment Agency issued a note in April, following the public consultation in March, which rather unfortunately included the statement that “Some feedback showed a desire to hold the water at a higher level in Bridgwater by 4
penning the river. This is not something we are proposing to do.” In light of this a meeting was held with the Environment Agency at which IWA received assurances that this relates solely to the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier project and that it will be perfectly feasible for a separate project to take forward the many issues relating to penning water on the River Parrett and to seek to achieve the community and other benefits that penning can bring, always assuming that the design of the tidal barrier facilitates penning. A first meeting of the Stakeholder sub‐committees took place in June. This included discussion on the proposed location of the Tidal Barrier, where the previously identified potential locations have recently been reduced from 7 to 5,
which will now be subject to a detailed appraisal that will include downstream defences, a key element of the proposed tidal defences. The locations that have been eliminated are sites 1 and 3, both of which involve very wide barriers and hence greater costs. The Environment Agency also disclosed that they are proposing to evaluate just three gate types, one of which is the gate design that IWA put forward in a report from Roy Sutton, IWA Consultant Engineer, as long ago as July 2015. The gate types are (i) a rising sector gate, (ii) a radial gate and (iii) a vertical lift bridge; only the first of which would permit penning. The Campaign team has recently completed a new presentation “Regenerating Bridgwater’s Waterways” the principal purpose of which is to illustrate that restoration projects in the UK are still attracting funds and continue to address significant infrastructure and other issues along the way. In addition the presentation looks at the economic case studies for a couple of restored waterways and summarises the principal arrangements that could be adopted for a project to regenerate Bridgwater’s Waterways. The new presentation has so far been given to Sedgemoor District Council, the Environment Agency, Bridgwater Town Council and the Bridgwater Town Development Forum. Photos of The River Parrett by Mike Slade: the one on the left shows the river at low water with low tidal flow; the one on the right shows how it could be. 5
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust By Carolyn Pascall, Company Secretary, H&G CT The exciting news arrived on 5 April, 2016: Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust had been recognised with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service for 2016. But there was an embargo on the news being released until 2 June, the Queen's official birthday. The cost of breaking that embargo and telling the press ‐ indeed anyone else ‐ early could forfeit our receiving the award. We had to keep it under our hat for another two months. It all started with the launch of H&G Canal Trust's 225 Anniversary Campaign at Eastnor Castle last summer. One of the guests was describing how appropriate it would be for H&G Canal Trust to apply for QAVS, and how it would strengthen our position, as our organisation is composed almost entirely of volunteers, and many who spend much of their free time working for H&G Canal Trust, and have done over many years. So after much investigation and precision drafting to a stringent word count, the application was duly completed and submitted last September. A rigorous interview in November, by two Deputy Lieutenants of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, put three of us through our paces. The sun shone as proudly we showed them Over Basin and Vineyard Hill, the former completed by volunteers for £65,000 instead of the £750,000 quoted by contractors, a very appropriate demonstration of the power of volunteers and private sector working together with public sector facilitation. The two Deputy Lieutenants then went away to write their joint assessment and recommendation to the Cabinet Office from where the QAVS is administered. Along with the news of our receiving the award came an invitation for two people to attend one of the garden parties held at Buckingham Palace in May. David Penny and Maggie Jones, representing H&G Canal Trust volunteers, attended on 24 May, 2016 where they met other winners of this year’s award in the presence of the Queen and other members of the royal family. H&G Canal Trust is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given to groups across the whole of the UK this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges. 6
The award was presented to H&G Canal Trust in a ceremony at Over Basin on Wednesday, 13 July, 2016 by Dame Janet Trotter DBE, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, because the charity's headquarters, The W h a r f H o u s e , i s i n Gloucestershire. Air Vice Marshal Mike Smart, Deputy Lieutenant of Herefordshire, assisted at the ceremony, and represented the Countess of Darnley, Lord‐Lieutenant of Herefordshire, as it was widely recognised that H&G Canal Trust is an enterprise across both counties. More than 90 H&G CT volunteers, assembled on heritage boats and waving flags from the banks around the Basin, cheered during the presentation and were joined by Sailing4Disabled volunteers and Gloucester Model Boat Club members, both of whom use the Canal Basin weekly. Both photos courtesy of Jonathon Watkins, Photoglow: top photo l‐r: The Right Worshipful Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Neil Hampson, and the Right Worshipful Sherriff and Deputy Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Said Hansdot, Lord‐Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Dame Janet Trotter DBE, Air Vice Marshal Mike Smart DL presenting the award to Janet Moult, Chairman of H&G CT, Bottom photo: Presentation party with QAVS Crystal and volunteers across the basin.
Editor’s Note: The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. 7
Waterworks Update IWA By Heidi Carey, Senior Project Officer (Canal Restoration) Neighbourhood Services for Torfaen County Borough Council
Waterworks a heritage lottery project taking place in the South of Cwmbran is now in the final three months. Works have been progressing well with all remaining stonework nearly complete and the remaining lock gates due to be installed shortly by our volunteers from the local community. Over two weeks in July Waterway Recovery Group supported the project and twenty volunteers attended site and helped with the construction of the new picnic site for visitors to the area and helped to carry out some of the essential landscaping on site. They also carried out the tough job of removing an invasive weed that was taking over the project site and had fun getting in the canal in waders to carry out the work. In June, the project held its first event of the year with dignitaries being invited to the project to celebrate. The first set of metal lock gates installed in Lower Brake Lock were tested with the dignitaries taking a trip on the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canal Trust trip boat (The Edith Elizabeth). with Chairman Roger Frances at the helm, through the lock for the first time since 1926. The Bishop of Monmouth blessed the gates when returning back through the locks and fun was had by all who were involved. Top photo courtesy of Ben Thompson, Waterway Recovery Group Bottom photo courtesy of Torfaen County Borough Council
Restoration project – The Duchess of Cocklemoor By Ray Alexander
The West Country Branch is lending its support to the restoration of the ‘Duchess of Cocklemoor’, a historic passenger ferry which has been based on the River Parrett at Langport in Somerset since 2015. The passenger ferry was built in 1908 and for much of its life it plied between Teignmouth and Shaldon on the River Teign in Devon, prior to being based for a short while on the River Dart at Dartmouth, also in Devon. Ian Macnab, a long‐time resident of The boat is being restored by its owner, Langport and a Town Councillor, who is aiming to complete the restoration in time for the 2017 season. The boat will be able to accommodate up to 12 passengers plus crew and is designed for beach landings, which makes access to and from the riverbank straightforward. Once the restoration has been completed it is anticipated that the boat will be used as a trip boat at Langport and will also be available for private hire, thus boosting the overall usage of the River Parrett. The River Parrett above the former Oath Lock is non‐tidal and during the boating season is an ideal waterway for pleasure boating. It traverses the Somerset Levels for 6.5 miles from the disused Thorney Mill Bridge Lock to Oath Tidal Sluice, passing through Muchelney, with the remains of its former monastery, and also Langport, with its delightful riverside community space of Cocklemoor and the historic Bow Bridge and Wharf. Plans are currently being put in place to refurbish the existing slipway at Huish Bridge, half a mile upstream of Langport, to enable trail boats to access the River and it is hoped that this will further enhance usage of the river. Photo courtesy of Design Somerset 9
The Continuing Saga of Rodds Bridge By Chris Jewell, Chairman of Bude Canal and Harbour Society
Following a recent reminder email to Councillor John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council, about our questions on the need for investment in the Canal, in particular the Rodds Bridge situation, as per the meeting of 13th October, 2015, we received a reply on 11th April, 2016. It was an apology for the late reply and advising BCHS (Bude Canal and Harbour Society) that a bid for a grant from the European Structural and Investment Fund has been submitted in September, 2015. If we needed details, we should contact Mrs P Hoskin, the Senior Environment Officer responsible for such bids. On the 15th April, I spoke to Coralie Barrow, the local Environmental Services Officer, and a subordinate of Mrs Hoskins, about the above bid. She advised me that she had been instructed to liaise with me about the bid. After a discussion, the true situation emerged. The bid to ESIF (European Social and Investment Funds) for grant monies related solely to management issues such as scrub clearance, invasive plants, ditch clearance, canoe access, bank stabilisation, and habitat enhancement, and NOT about replacement of structures, ie Rodds Bridge. (This bid has not yet been approved). A bid for such structures would either need to come from Cormac Solutions, who are responsible for the roads and bridges in the County for Cornwall Council, or possibly a joint application. There are no such “pots” of money on offer for such a project. We have sent an email to Councillor Pollard, Mrs Hoskins, and Cormac Solutions stating that we support any funding that sources the canal and its environs, BUT expressing our concerns that unless the release of these “pots” is carefully monitored the opportunity to replace Rodds Bridge could be missed. Additionally BCHS are aware of Capital Funds allocated by Cornwall Council to do works on the inland locks, banks and extensive dredging in the future. Again, BCHS supports this initiative, which is really maintenance, which should have a “budget line” in the scheme of things. Now for something different, but on the same topic. BCHS are corporate members of the IWA and are within the IWA ‐ West Country Branch area. I am a committee member of that Branch and they are aware of the “Rodds Bridge saga” and have some monies set aside to contribute to the replacement of the bridge so that navigation can take place, just as BCHS has monies set aside in Account 3 ‐ Project Fund. The West Country Branch’s area of interest covers Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. In Somerset, at Bridgwater, SSC (Somerset County Council) have a project which includes replacing a manual swing bridge over the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. This 10
bridge is surplus to SCC’s needs and they have offered the bridge to the West Country Branch to find a use for it. The bridge will be cut up for scrap if no useful alternative can be found. The West Country Branch have offered the bridge to BCHS for possible use to replace Rodds Bridge. BCHS have details of the bridge which is larger than the current Rodds Bridge. West Country Branch would like a response by June 2016 as to whether the bridge can be of use to Bude. With that in mind, BCHS have forwarded details to Cornwall Council/Cormac Solutions offering them the bridge for re‐use on Bude Canal by replacing the current Rodds Bridge. They have been advised to liaise direct with West Country Branch and as soon as possible advise BCHS as to whether they intend to pursue this offer or not. If not, West Country Branch will offer the bridge to another canal in the area, probably the Cotswold Canal Trust, who have an active restoration project for their canal. Editors note: Since this article was written, Cornwall Council has declined the offer of the Swing Bridge and this is now being made available to other canals in the region.
Landing Stage above Firepool Lock at Taunton By Bob Abbott, West Country Branch Chairman The Landing stage above Firepool Lock at Taunton is now fully useable again by everyone. Without it, the tying up to re‐set the lock proved extremely difficult. After liaising with CRT about repairs, West Country Branch Committee agreed that, following an opportune donation of monies, our own Members and Volunteers with suitable experience would carry out these repairs to a specification agreed with CRT’s engineers and local management. This was done in August and the result looks very professional after a hard day’s work by us, (including the Chairman, contrary to the rumour that all he does is to send and answer emails!). The Landing Stage itself has significant historical importance as it services the first/last Lock into/out of the entrance of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal from the River Tone which is its source of water supply all the way north to Bridgwater, into the River Parrett and then on to the sea. If you travel south, through the man‐made channel into the River’s Navigation and the very centre of Taunton, there is a convenient landing stage. The whole 15 miles of the B&T Canal and River Tone Navigation, with only 5 locks and 4 swing bridges and gated mooring in the centrally located and historic Bridgwater Docks, is a beautiful Somerset gem which deserves much more use by boaters albeit that it suffers occasionally from seasonal low water and weeds. There is a secure (British Waterways key) marina slipway only one mile below this lock at Bathpool. 11
Appeal! The West Country Branch is currently seeking: persons to Helm their Zodiac Rib maintenance/workboat that is regularly used to get into those small and difficult corners on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal and in the Bridgwater Docks for the purposes of general removal of detritus and reporting/observing problems areas. The only Qualification is a minimum of the 'RYA helmsman certificate', or any other maritime qualifications that permits the use in Class A/non‐tidal waters such as ours. As a volunteer you would be called upon 'as & when' to fit in with your own commitments and which could be any days of the week. There may also be opportunities to skipper other larger vessels owned by the Canal & River Trust along the length of this hidden canal gem of 15 miles with just a few locks and swing bridges. We have ample supporting and knowledgeable crew and health & safety procedures in place. "The West Country Branch seeks a person who would like to get involved with taking minutes at our busy 8 weekly Committee meetings. This may be a permanent arrangement as our present Minute Secretary is suffering from ill‐health. Location is not a major problem because we move our meetings around the four counties of the West Country and endeavour to share transport whenever possible. Please email Chairman Bob Abbott; email@example.com or phone him on 07850 529102.
Branch Reports IWA Gloucestershire & Herefordshire Branch Report It’s the slow time of year when everyone is away hopefully cruising. I have been on a good trip to Birmingham, the River Avon and to the Stratford and Pershore River Festivals. Excellent places to go and meet old friends and generally relax and enjoy. 12
That’s what we work for when campaigning to restore and improve our waterways. Progress on the automation of the bridges on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal goes ahead. The IWA have been heavily involved with the testing as has the Cotswold Canals Trust with their trip boat Endeavour being hired on several occasions by CRT (Canal and River Trust). My boat has been used extensively as have other IWA members. The app was downloaded to several phones and was tried out, some bugs were found and there will be more tests in September. Back in June, Points West arrived and filmed us all trying the App, my boat became the platform for the camera and Steve Nibbs. The interview and pictures went out that night and was seen by many. I am sure, come this autumn, the project will be signed off by CRT and we will within a few months see the automation of the bridges start. Gloucestershire is definitely becoming a destination to a new range of boaters as more restaurants open up in the docks and festivals appear. I noticed on the food festival weekend a record number of 47 boats went through Gloucester Lock and, something I have never seen before, a long queue on the wall approaching the lock of all types of boats. The IWA has tried to obtain improvements here many times without success so far, as potentially t h e mooring is not safe especially for the inexperienced boater. The photo shows the extent of the mooring and situation. Time I think for some changes here. The current makes grabbing a chain as you go by an unsafe procedure. It was sad to see that the bid by Cotswold Canals Trust for a grant from the HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) to finish the connection of the Stroudwater to the main network (phase 1b failed this time). The amount of work put into the bid by a very impressive team was amazing. The trust intends to make another bid and there have already been discussions with various bodies as to the way forward. HLF have indicated modifications and the IWA will do everything it can to support the new bid. Hereford and Gloucester Canal Trust seem to get all the plaudits at present with awards for various projects the most important being the award from the Queen to volunteers. The volunteers were praised for a coordinated effort. 13
I was lucky to attend the presentation of the award at Over by the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire on behalf of the Queen. Many volunteers attended representing all aspects of the project including WRG. The citation was as good as they get. Hereford and Gloucester should be proud of their efforts. Lydney Harbour has been an area the IWA has been involved in for at least ten years via myself originally and more recently Roger Holmes. The EA (Environment Agency) have been told to sell the area and hopefully have now found a buyer. He is a local businessman who owns a large derelict factory on the approach road. EA are currently going through the final negotiations and will most likely require a harbour revision order to finalise the sale. In the meantime, the District Council have received a grant of £50k to restore the swing bridge to the one mile canal that finishes at a wharf near the town and adjacent to the Dean Forest railway. The potential for moorings and other commercial activities is obvious so at last progress is being made. Photo courtesy of Martin Turner Martin Turner, Branch Chairman
IWA South Wales Branch Report th
Thursday, 5 May found us in Wales in the grips of election fever. We had the Welsh Parliament elections and IWA had printed and distributed to every candidate a Welsh Waterways Manifesto laying out the vision of the IWA for the restoration of the Welsh canals. There is now no overall control in the Assembly and never been a better time to lobby the smaller parties. Wednesday, 25th & Thursday, 26th May found Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust (MBACT) supplying boat trips at Goytre Wharf for school children from the area on their annual eco day. The Spring Bank Holiday Weekend of 28th to 30th May was a well‐supported function with MBACT boat trips at Tredegar Park, Newport working with the National Trust in a very positive relationship. Saturday, 23rd July brought the Pirates Day at Fourteen Locks Canal Centre but with no boat trips this year as there was little water coming down the canal. Work is being undertaken on the canal by Caerphilly Council at the top end of the Crumlin Arm at Pontywaun. Better news is that Welsh Water has since restored a feeder at Ty‐sign and it will be interesting to see if it helps with water supplies at fourteen locks where the MBACT hope to have a boat in the future. 14
Saturday, 30th July saw an open day at Goytre Wharf held between Canal and River Trust (CRT), the Waterside Café and Alvechurch Boat Company (ABC). The MBACT were plying for trade with their trail boat which is kept at Goytre. ABC has now taken over the running of the Goytre Wharf site from CRT. The Neath & Tennant Canal Trust boat, the Thomas Dadford. is now back in operation after replacing their outboard engine although the weed cutter belonging to the Neath Navigation Company who own the canal, is out of action. It will be an interesting summer. Please refer to the local canal websites in south Wales for the most up to date information. The Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust http://www.mbact.org.uk The Neath & Tennant Canals Trust http://www.neath‐tennant‐canals.org.uk/ The Swansea Canal Society http://www.swanseacanalsociety.com Friends of the Montgomery Canal http://www.montgomerycanal.me.uk/mwrt.html Tony Pugh, Branch Chairman
IWA West Country Branch Report
We held our AGM on Saturday, 19th March at the Boat & Anchor Pub alongside the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal (B&T Canal) at Huntworth. It was a good turnout of 20 people some of whom probably only came due to the planned walk following the lunch break down the canal to the old canal Junction with the River Parrett. This area is also the proposed site where the new Colley Lane Industrial Park road and bridge will pass over the canal on its way to meet up with the A38 roundabout near to the M5 Junction 24. This will force the permanent removal and disposal of the existing Swing bridge but will not be happening for at least 18 months we have been informed. We have been offered the Swing bridge, once removed, by Somerset County Council if we can find another home for it. To this end, we have suggested to Bude Canal & Harbour Society that it could be put to good use at Bude to replace the existing navigational limitation of Rodds Bridge over the canal which would then allow a few more miles of accessible waterway, especially if their Slipway proposals also comes to fruition. 15
We continue to seek ongoing funds for the ever increasing consumables costs of supporting our ever growing band of Volunteers whose work and successes along the B&T Canal and the River Tone continue to be recognised by Somerset Public and Local Authorities. The Bridgwater Town Council have been particularly supportive encouraging us to apply for a small grant which we have just done. Also, following the cessation of the ‘Wardens Service’ whose sterling work along the B&T Canal over many years has been largely overtaken by our own working parties and observers, they were kind enough to donate their remaining monies to this Branch, along with several hundred high quality canal maps for us to convert into cash for branch coffers, all to be spent along the Canal. (These large folding quality coloured maps also depict on the reverse side the several walks which can be accessed along the canal are available from me at £4.50 inclusive of p&p. If you email me [see ‘Contacts’ list at rear of this Sou’Wester] we can exchange home addresses and they will be mailed following receipt of a cheque). We are also funding the repairs and improvements of the landing stage facilities above the Fire‐pool Lock by carefully using the funds that were donated to us for these purposes some time ago. Branch committee are slowly building the case for a new Slipway in the Bridgwater vicinity which is needed if visiting Trail boats are to be encouraged in future years as the nearest fully accessible one to Canal and River Trust (CRT) key holders being the other end of the canal at Bathpool Marina, Taunton some 14 miles away. Also one of our committee members has just donated a small inflatable ‘rib’ type boat to us and we are currently applying to Head Office for its insurance and to the CRT for a licence and this will enable a work party to access the many small canal and dock corners to identify and collect floating debris. It is powered by a Mariner 4hp outboard which was likewise given to us last year by an ex‐member. The original owner has offered to store and maintain it all of which is very much appreciated by this branch. Our working party groups are now headed up by team leaders who themselves are trained to give proper Health and Safety briefings aligned to the tasks being undertaking whilst all operators of powered equipment have been authorised by the CRT’s assessors. The Branch continues to make its presence felt by maintaining the lobbying we started over a year ago now for the Proposed Tidal Barrier design on the River Parrett to be fit for Navigational purposes from the sea and at least up to the confluence with the River Tone. Paramount in our proposal when this is built, several years hence yet, is for suitable penning of water to be impounded behind the Barrier [and maybe a lock!] at a high enough level to allow boats to pass between the Canal/Dock onto the River Parrett via the currently defunct Barge Lock at the Bridgwater Dock. The budget is tight and the Environment Agency 16
are not currently of the opinion that it is their role to facilitate this. We are battling hard with our presentations, meetings and local publicity to emphasise at least some of our wishes which has been broadly accepted would bring tremendous tourist and recreational benefits to the Bridgwater environs and beyond. To this end we also have the support of the IWA’s Navigation committee as well as from our Honorary Engineer who has produced several time consuming and highly technical reports with recommendations to support our long term plans. If this water level was in place, at least during the summer months, it would be possible to motor up to Oath sluice which is below Langport and even beyond the confluence with the River Tone which itself could be navigable for about 3 miles. On the subject of Langport, the local council is discussing with the Environment Agency, the possibility of ownership of the Cocklemoor river bank and also the currently disused Slipway and, when completed, will allow 5 or 6 miles of the extremely beautiful non tidal River Parrett. It’s going to be a long haul methinks! Bob Abbott, Branch Chairman
IWA Avon & Wiltshire Branch Salisbury Group
INTRODUCTION TO THE CANALS AND RIVERS OF EUROPE: At short notice there was a change to the advertised programme for our April meeting. Instead of our planned talk on the Basingstoke Canal one of our members, Nick Grundy, spoke about his introduction to the canals & rivers of Europe. This took place on board Ron & Myra Glover’s Dutch steel cruiser “Elsa”. The trip started at Gorinchem in Holland and finished in Peronnes in Belgium. Nick is fascinated by barges and on this trip he was able to see many varieties of commercial vessels up to 3,100 tons carrying various cargoes ranging from grain, coal, sand to vast numbers of containers. There were bridges of many designs including vertical lift bridges that enable sea going vessels and yachts with tall masts to pass under. The audience were amused to see, on one occasion, a barge that had to lower the wheelhouse to pass under a low bridge and the head of the skipper could just be seen above the super structure. Nick was fascinated by the variety of locks (sluices) found in Europe and the fact that many of them were automatic, controlled by someone in an office possibly miles away watching CCTV screens. On one occasion Elsa had to turn around inside a lock chamber as it was discovered that the canal ahead was closed. Nick commented that he could have made a similar move in the lock with his full size English narrow boat. 17
For Nick, the best day of the trip was to travel up the Ronquiere incline plane and then to travel down the Strepy Thieu ship lift. These are two massive structures unlike anything found in Britain. Alongside Strepy Thieu he also saw the original four boat lifts built in the style of the Anderton lift in England these four are now classified as historic monuments.
WATERWAYS RECOVERY GROUP (WRG): For our May meeting, we were honoured that the head office of WRG had written this talk especially for us at Salisbury IWA which was presented to us by George Eycott. WRG was founded in 1970 and has been restoring canals for over 45 years; it is part of the IWA. Anyone over the age of 18 can be a volunteer; they come from all walks of life. 40,000 man hours are given each year by these volunteers. Every year there are week long canal camps that are held throughout the country, amounting to 25 in total. This year WRG are working on 16 different restoration sites. Some youngsters work with WRG whilst achieving the residential section of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. Members have to undergo specialist training by professionals to be able to carry out skilled tasks. This involves training to operate machines, driving dumper trucks and learning to use chain saws etc. They are also trained for many tasks such as brick laying and lime mortar work. The WRG are always looking at the year ahead in order to ensure that they have sufficient people with the right skills and qualifications and equipment available to fulfil future tasks. It is interesting to note that in the 1970s and 80s Green Shield stamps were collected and used to purchase excavators known as “smallies”. One example of the achievements of WRG was in 2012 on the Hereford and Gloucester Canal when 50 volunteers restored 275 metres of canal in just two weeks. This was one of the biggest earth moving exercises undertaken so far. We were also shown many pictures of “before & after” situations of the work carried by WRG. It is amazing what can be achieved! When clearing out the canals they have discovered interesting items such as safes (stolen), fire arms, motorcycles, tyres and of course many supermarket trollies. The final question is “Why restore these canals?” The simple answer is that canals are used more & more by the general public. The canal network provides huge linear parks for leisure & recreation and are also rich in wildlife and traditional heritage. “SERVE ON”: At the June meeting we welcomed Craig Elsdon from “Serve On” (SO). This is a quick response team comprising of highly trained people 18
available 24 hours a day to save lives. None of our members were aware that this international rescue team is based right here in Salisbury. We discovered this when one of our members came across them training in the river and weirs at Harnham here in Salisbury. On chatting to Craig he was only too pleased to come to speak to our IWA group. All the members of “SO” are volunteers who undergo intensive training. When there is a major catastrophe anywhere in the world they make themselves available as a quick response team to save lives. Like lifeboat crews, most have very understanding employers who realise the need for their immediate departure. For example as a result of the devastating earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 the team were able to carry out their first rescue within 23 hours of the initial tremor. Craig‘s team is often first on the scene, when other agencies arrive they are then able to pass over the rescue to others. “SO” also played a major role in the Nepal earthquake in 2015. “SO” is a registered charity, they do not charge for any rescue but have no government funding. When they are deployed they take all their own supplies that last up to 14 days. Craig brought a lot of the equipment that they use to show us. This included the suits that they wear to do water searches, amazing tools including one that can hear movement through thick concrete, first aid supplies including resuscitation equipment. Unfortunately Craig could not bring the 4 rescue dogs as they are based in Gloucester! Another aspect of “SO” is that they get involved with projects within the community, however large or small. Since hearing of this group we have noted their presence on the National TV news and in newspapers. We were deeply inspired by Craig’s presentation and understand their need for continued financial support from the public. Annual Boules match: For our July meeting, after days of blue skies and sunshine we were disappointed that at 7pm on Thursday, 21st July the skies became overcast and the rain began to fall just as we threw the first jack for our annual boules match. Not to be down hearted the first game continued until the wonderful BBQ was served, which was eaten in the dining room of the Green Dragon instead of under the sun shades in the garden. However the rain eased enough to allow the final matches to take place. The members of the winning team were each awarded a chocolate orange for their efforts. Jacques, our resident French guest umpired each match to ensure fair play. Ron & Myra Glover 19
Forthcoming Events IWA Avon & Wiltshire Branch Salisbury Group Programme Venue: The Green Dragon, Old Road, Alderbury, Salisbury, SP5 3AR 7.30pm Thursday, 20th October “The Thames Sailing Barge” ‐ These craft were commercial vessels with flat bottoms built for the shallow waters and rivers of the Thames Estuary in the 19th Century. They can dry out at low tide and could carry cargoes of 100 tons. Gareth Jones, a member of the Thames Sailing Boat Trust, will be telling us about the history of these craft and their use today. Thursday, 17th November 7.30pm “Pleasure Boating in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s” ‐ Nick Grundy’s grandparents started pleasure boating on early hire boats before the Second World War. After the war, they cruised extensively on their own boat and were involved in some early IWA campaigns. Nick will present an illustrated talk using many old photographs, surviving log book and other historical material. Thursday, 1st December 7.30pm Waterways Quiz at Chilworth Village Hall organised by Southampton Canal Society. Questions will be set by the 2015 winners ‐ Salisbury IWA. Thursday, 15th December 7.30pm Christmas Dinner at The Green Dragon, Alderbury. All enquiries to Ron & Myra Glover ‐ contact details can be found on page 23 Or Jon Van de Geer ‐ 01722 412841
IWA Avon & Wiltshire Branch Programme Venue: Saltford Hall, Wedmore Road, Saltford, BS31 3BY Access from the main Bath Road, where there are regular bus services from both Bristol and Bath, is via Norman Road. th 7.30pm Thursday, 6 October “Breaches on the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal over the Last 200 Years” a talk by Phil Hughes. The history of this canal and its engineering challenges. 7.30pm Thursday, 3rd November “The Design and Development of Wilderness Trail Boats – a 45 Year Obsession” a talk by Ian Graham 20
Thursday, 1st December 7.30pm Quiz set by Tim Wheeldon followed by Christmas refreshments. Entry £ 10 for a team of four Thursday, 5th January, 2017 7.30pm “Canadian Watery Adventure” a talk by Ron and Myra Glover. Cruising on the west coast of Canada 7.30pm To be announced Thursday, 2nd February All enquiries to Geoff Harman ‐ contact details can be found on page 23
Gloucestershire and Herefordshire Branch Meetings Venue:
The Warehouse Climbing Centre, Parliament Street, Gloucester, GL1 1HB which is just by Gloucester Dock - There is a bar where simple food is served. Free parking nearby.
Thursday, 1st September 7.30pm Aerial views of Gloucestershire waterways by Rick Kelsey ‐ TBC 7.30pm Thursday, 6th October “Travels round the Severn and Inland Waterways in a Drascombe Lugger” by John Christie 7.30pm Thursday, 3rd November “The most expensive canal in the country” by Phil Hughes 7.30pm Christmas Event Thursday, 1st December
Message from the Editor!
When I took on the role of Editor of the Sou’wester, I made a point of not writing an editorial as I am not involved in any other role on the IWA South West Region Committee or the IWA Gloucestershire & Herefordshire Branch but it occurred to me the other day that I have been Editor for 12 months! How time flies. I hope that you have all enjoyed reading the Sou’wester and like the changes to the layout that have been introduced during that time ‐ I have certainly been receiving good feedback. Is there anything else you would like to see in the magazine? Finally, I’d like to thank my colleagues on the IWA South West Region Committee for all their help and support over the last twelve months. Joyce Potts, Editor 21
Waterways in the IWA South West Region
Avon & Wilts Branch Rivers Avon & Severn: Tidal navigation that is the responsibility of the Bristol Haven Conservancy, downstream of the second Severn crossing Avon Navigation: Hanham to Avonmouth, including River Avon & Bristol Docks Kennet & Avon Canal: Hanham Lock to Froxfield Bridge North Wilts Canal Somersetshire Coal Canal Wilts & Berks Canal: Kennet & Avon Canal to County Boundary 1m West of Shrivenham Gloucestershire and Herefordshire Branch Coombe Hill Canal Gloucester & Sharpness Canal Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Leominster Canal Lydney Canal River Severn: from Mythe Bridge, Tewkesbury to a point on the tidal navigation which is the seaward extent of responsibility of the Gloucester Harbour Trustees, downstream of the Second Severn Crossing Stroudwater Navigation Thames & Severn Canal River Wye: Hay‐on‐Wye to Severn Estuary South Wales Branch Brecon & Abergavenny Canal Glamorganshire and Aberdare Canals Monmouthshire Canal Neath & Tennant Canals Swansea Canal River Usk River Wye ‐ Hay‐on‐Wye to source West Country Branch Bridgwater & Taunton Canal Bude Canal Cann Quarry Canal Chard Canal Dorset & Somerset Canal Exeter Ship Canal Grand Western Canal Liskeard & Looe Canal Par Canal River Parrett Somerset Navigations Stover Canal Tavistock Canal River Tone Torrington (Lord Rolle’s) Canal Westport Canal 22
Contacts Bob Abbott Vivienne Hook firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Ray Alexander Chris Jewell firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Peter Kelly Geoff Brown firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Joyce Potts David Chalmers firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Myra Glover Tony Pugh firstname.lastname@example.org 01722 710322 email@example.com Mike Slade firstname.lastname@example.org Ron Glover Martin Turner email@example.com 07860 521876 Geoff Harman firstname.lastname@example.org 01179 623812 Tim Wheeldon email@example.com 01225 723890 Roger Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Next Issue of Sou’Wester The next issue of Sou’Wester is due out in January, 2017. Please send all copy to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org by
Thursday, 1st December, 2016. The photo (courtesy of Bob Abbott) on the front cover shows the fixed Landing stage about Firepool Lock at Taunton The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of IWA. The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is a non-profit distribution company limited by guarantee. Registered Office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, Bucks, HP5 1WA. Tel. 01494 783453 Registered in England no. 612245. Registered as a Charity no 212343. www.waterways.org.uk 23