Shroppie Fly Paper
The Newsletter of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Spring 2010
A Surprise Donation
he Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch of the IWA received a very generous donation from Miss Jean Evans from Lichfield. She gave the money in memory of her parents Thomas and Elsie Evans and it was decided to place a bench in the established Nature Reserve at Aston top lock and plant three oak trees in the newly established reserve by the bottom lock.
Councillor Pat Broomby & BW Manager Wendy Capelle with members at Aston Thomas Evans was a Shropshire man who loved the countryside and particularly the waterways. He was a gardener and for a time worked at Millichope Hall. He joined the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and served in both world wars. Later he lived at Ironbridge and died in 1973 aged 79.
When we suggested planting trees and placing a bench in the Aston Nature Reserve Miss Evans was delighted, she said “I am thrilled that the bench and trees will be where friends and families can meet and watch the birds and wildlife in their natural habitat. Had my father been alive today I’m sure he would have been pleased at this use of the donation”. Despite the showers and very muddy conditions British Waterways General Manager, Wendy Capelle, with the help of Howard Griffiths a waterways supervisor, planted one of the oak trees on behalf of Jean Evans during National Tree week.
his year is the centenary of the birth of Tom Rolt, the founding member of the Inland Waterways Association, and there will be several events to celebrate this. In addition to canals Rolt was interested in steam engines and other historic forms of transport so the Llangollen Railway Trust have invited the Branch to take part in their fundraising gala at Llangollen on 23rd to 25th August 2010. Although this is primarily an event for railway enthusiasts they want to attract a wider audience interested in restoration and local history. We will be there to promote the IWA’s ‘Save Our System’ campaign but we need your help to man our display for a few hours during the three days. No special skills needed; just enthusiasm for the waterways. We will also taking the SOS campaign to the May Day Canal Festival at Norbury Junction which is organised by the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust. This time our stall will be alongside Nb LEO so please keep your fingers crossed for fine weather because we hope to be out on the towpath in the sunshine. In this magazine there are several appeals for help; everything from stewarding at the national AGM to photographing mileposts. With such diversity there must be something that appeals to you and although some of it sounds like hard work it really isn’t. It is an enjoyable opportunity to meet people and will ensure that the campaign started by Rolt and Aickman continues. With every government department threatening cut-backs this is even more important than ever. With a bit of luck and a trailing wind this edition will get to you before the Branch AGM (see page 27). The speaker will be Chris Chambers, Chairman of the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust so we look forward to an interesting evening and I hope to meet you there. David Aylwin
Cover photograph: Audlem Locks in the snow by Denis Farmer. Acknowledgements: photographs by Dawn Aylwin, Carolyn Theobold, Janet Farmer. Thank you to all who contributed articles.
Next Copy Date: 1st June 2010 for the Summer Edition Page 3
The Branch Committee President Chairman Vice-Chairman Region Chairman Secretary
Michael Limbrey, Greenfields, Weston Lane, Oswestry SY11 2BD 01691 654081 email email@example.com David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 email firstname.lastname@example.org Position vacant Alan Platt, Argoed, Pen y Cefn Road, Caerwys, Flintshire CH7 5BH 01352 720649 email email@example.com Position vacant
Denis Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Moseley’s Yard, Audlem CW3 0DL 01270 811157 email firstname.lastname@example.org Heritage and Planning Officer Peter Brown, 34 Waterside Drive, Market Drayton TF9 1HU 01630 652567 email email@example.com Social Secretary Janet Farmer, 8 Kingbur Place, Moseley’s Yard, Audlem CW3 0DL 01270 811157 email firstname.lastname@example.org Membership Secretary Dawn Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 email email@example.com Newsletter Editor David Aylwin, Wyndcliff, Pen y Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS 01691 830403 email firstname.lastname@example.org Committee Members Gerallt Hughes (General Secretary Committee for Wales) Ty’n y Coed, Arthog, Gwynedd LL39 1YS 01341 250631 email email@example.com
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.
t is now one year since I agreed to take on the onerous role of chairman so it is appropriate to look back and review what was generally an enjoyable, but sometimes difficult, experience. After the pressure that was Monty 08, the IWA National Campaign Rally, this past year has been a little quieter and the meetings somewhat more calm. However with both IWA and BW reorganising themselves we havenâ€™t been short of excitement. The restructured IWA regions have now been in place for one year and I would like to congratulate and thank our former branch chairman, Alan Platt, for all the time and effort he has put in to the new enlarged North West region. Despite this I am still not completely clear what benefit the restructuring has achieved at branch level. Within our area there have been three major breaches during the year. Grindley Brook, Shebdon Embankment and Bettisfield. Shebdon was by far the most serious and presented BW with some difficult problems; not least how to access the site with heavy machinery. It is interesting to note how quickly local businesses, particularly those in Audlem, noticed how the lack of boats affected trade. Often potential trade is used as an argument for restoring derelict canals and here is first hand evidence that could be quoted. Despite the 12 week closure to navigation BWâ€™s response was prompt and innovative and the branch felt that it was important to acknowledge this. Our planning officer Peter Brown has continued to monitor planning issues for the branch. One new marina has opened on the Middlewich Arm and several are proposed including Audlem and Soudley. A new Tesco store has finally opened on the Ellesmere Creamery site, however, despite all the planning enquiries and consultations it is curious that the final building bears no resemblance at all to the many drawings and plans that were on public display. What exists is a Tesco standard building which does nothing to enhance that historic site. In June a 12 mile section of the Llangollen Canal including Chirk and Pontcysyllte aqueducts was declared a World Heritage Site. Peter Brown is the IWA representative on the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site Steering Group. The branch has had a full programme and was present at Norbury Junction Rally, Llanymynech Discovery Day (where we co-ordinated WOW activities), Montgomery Dinghy Dawdle, IWA National, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Festivals. Last October was the 40th anniversary of the Big Dig at Welshpool. The anniversary celebration took place over two days and included a re-enactment Page 5
of the first cruise with local dignitaries, a plaque unveiling and a WRG work party (probably the emphasis should be on ‘party’). Social events included a cruise on the Manchester Ship Canal in July, a talk about the Montgomery Canal given by Peter Brown, a dinner held jointly with the Shropshire Union Canal Society and a quiz night. About 30 people including many non-members enjoyed the New Year’s walk, again organised by Peter Brown. Unfortunately the annual skittles challenge between the former western region branches was cancelled due to the venue being double booked but we are trying to reschedule it. We received a very generous donation from Miss Jean Evans to be used for a memorial to her parents Thomas and Elsie Evans. With the cutback in public spending donations such as this are invaluable. Without them improvements in the canal environment are likely to be impossible in future. In the coming year Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch is hosting this year’s national AGM which will be held at Grove School, Market Drayton on Saturday 25th September. Finally I want to thank the committee members for their work. Despite having nearly 400 members we rely on 8 or 9 individuals to do all the work and their efforts are very much appreciated. We also depend on a number of volunteers who regularly help at events and I want to make sure they know that they are appreciated. David Aylwin
Regional Chairman’s Report
here has been considerable activity on the political front over the last few months. British Waterways has progressed ideas for the future by commissioning a consultant’s report, which some may consider to be the sort of luxury they should try to do without. This develops the idea of their transferring to the ‘Third Sector’ and they appear to have listened to suggestions from their stakeholders, including the IWA; there still remain a number of areas where there are serious problems, principal of which is funding. There is growing concern that, having had their guns spiked on their plans to appropriate BW’s property portfolio, the Treasury may be very unwilling to enter into a long term funding agreement with a new third sector body. There is also a feeling that BW seem to be improving their attitude to volunteers but that in certain instances this will require a major change of attitude on the ground. Their new plans place great emphasis on engaging with a growing army of volunteers working with the new body, which begs the question as to how they recruit people that the IWA and Canal Societies have not already recruited. The IWA at the same time as it evaluates BW’s proposals has its own ideas for a Waterways Conservancy as first proposed by one of our founders, Robert Aickman. This obviously needs updating and developing in the light of the greatly changed modern situation and this is in process. A key and radical feature which is already emerging is for a new overall navigation authority to operate the navigable waterways currently managed by BW, the Environment Agency, Broads Authority etc, eliminating all the currently inconsistent licensing and management features of these bodies. It strikes me that one benefit of this could be that economies of scale in the central operations may well go some way towards relieving the current funding shortfalls all these bodies are currently experiencing. At the same time DEFRA has just released the first draft of ‘Waterways for Everyone’ and has held a number of consultative workshops, one of which I attended in Cardiff. This contains much that is worthy and very little of substance. Positive sentiments that no one will argue with are much in evidence but very little in the line of hard proposals. The document traces how over the years the various navigation authorities have evolved without seeming to
question whether this irrationally evolved structure should be improved. When we broke up into our discussion groups in Cardiff we were asked to come up with suggestions, but not to mention funding. Needless to say all suggestions basically involved funding as that lies at the core of any current discussion on our waterways. The progress of this project may also be delayed by the impending election. This leads us of course to the impending election and the IWA 2010 campaign. Hopefully all branches will be developing their plans for this and if nowhere else, it will be discussed at the Regional AGM on March 6th. We do need individual members to participate in this campaign and to question all candidates on the subject of present and future funding for the waterways. We know there are priorities with Health, Education etc but there must be space and funds for the waterways. In this, as in all areas, all the work cannot solely be left to a small and overworked number of committee members. We need all our members to get involved. All of which is very heavy stuff; on a happier front, hopefully the weather will improve and the waterways will be a more tempting place for us to enjoy than of late. Have a good summer. Alan Platt
Litter Pick at Welshpool Saturday 27th March 2010 Bill Bryson commented that: “Britain’s canals and rivers are incomparable spaces for people to enjoy. I urge everybody who wants to get Britain cleaned up to get involved and help tidy a towpath, pick up some litter or scrub off some graffiti.” So please join us as once again the Branch is going to support the Friends of the Montgomery Canal and help them clean up the towpath at Welshpool. Meet in Welshpool town wharf car park at 10.30am. Parking permits will be provided by the Friends so look out for Freda she will be wearing a hi-vis jacket. All the equipment (gloves, sacks and litter pickers) will be provided by British Waterways so all you have to do is just turn up! To round off the morning, refreshments will be provided. So I hope to see you there.
The Canal comes to Newtown The fourth in an occasional series of articles showing the effect of the canal on the towns in our area.
he canal nearly did not get to Newtown. The Montgomeryshire Canal Company ran out of money in 1798 when construction had reached Garthmyl, 7½ miles short of its intended destination. In 1815 an Act was obtained for the extension, but it contained strict rules requiring the finances of the new (‘Western’) section to be kept totally separate from those of the existing (‘Eastern’) section. Indeed, the extension would never have been built if it were not for the money lent by William Pugh of Brynllywarch, a man who did much to assist and promote Newtown’s interests. Although the canal’s official opening was on 1st March 1819, it was not really usable until the water supply problems were solved two years later. The effect of the opening of a new transport system can sometimes be inferred from the change in the population numbers as shown in the decennial census. In Newtown’s case the figures are striking, especially in the part of the town north of the River Severn where the canal basin was located, which was in a separate parish:
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851
Newtown (south of the river) 990 2,025 3,486 4,550 3,995 3,784
Llanllwchaiarn (north of the river) 675 699 1,007 2,005 2,847 2,775
Total 1,668 2,724 4,493 6,555 6,842 6,559
As can be seen, the population north of the river almost trebled in the twenty years after the opening of the canal. However, to attribute this solely — or even mainly — to the canal would be fallacious. Penygloddfa, the area immediately to the north of the road bridge, was a main location of the hand-loom weaving industry, which had been growing quickly since the turn of the century and which reached its peak in the mid 1830s. It was reported that in 1833 more than 3,000 people were employed making flannel in 50 factories, working 50,000 spindles, 1,200 looms and 50 carding machines. (Flannel is an open woollen cloth usually without a knap. The word derives from the Welsh for wool.) The word ‘factories’ is misleading: most were small-scale, often just a workshop above a row of cottages. If power other than from human muscles was used, it came from a waterwheel. The hand-loom industry made no use the canal except for the export of some of the finished cloth.
Newtown’s woollen industry was slow to adopt steam-powered machinery, despite the severe unemployment and social unrest caused by the growing competition from more progressive rivals such as Rochdale. The first recorded use of steam power was in 1835, but it was not particularly successful. It was not until towards the end of the 1850s that some larger factories came to be established. Cambrian Mill was the first, ultimately becoming the largest woollen mill in Wales. It was situated to the west of the end of the canal basin, ideal for bringing in coal to power the machinery. Having been run by a succession of companies with mixed success, it finally closed in 1912 after suffering two serious fires. The only other canal-related mill was the Commercial or Kymric Mill. Built in 1862 on the north side of the canal where it approached the basin, it suffered fires in 1891 and 1912, but continued in production until 1935. The principal canalside industry was lime burning, for construction and agricultural purposes. The raw materials, the limestone from Llanymynech and the coal from the Oswestry–Chirk coalfield, came in by boat. A total of twentytwo kilns were erected on the south side of the canal. The Newtown Foundry, established by John Onions in the 1820s, stood virtually opposite the Kymric Mill. This would have brought in its ironstone, coal and limestone by canal. Newtown’s first gas works opened in 1827, its replacement in 1841. Curiously, neither was in the most economical location by the canal; both were on the south side of the river, necessitating coal to be unloaded from boats onto wagons and then taken three-quarters of a mile by road. There were of course numerous wharfs at the basin, some with warehouses for general goods, and others specialising in coal or timber. The price of domestic coal was said to have been reduced from 30s a ton before the canal opened to 21s a ton afterwards. The price of other commodities was reduced substantially too. This benefited not only Newtown itself, but also Llanidloes and the rest of the hinterland served by the extensive carriers’ network. The support services for the canal traders were also at the basin — two dry docks, boat repair facilities and stables — as well as facilities for the boatmen, in particular, two pubs. The 1841 and 1851 census returns show that almost all the houses close to the basin were occupied by people employed there. The building of the canal had little impact on the ‘shape’ of Newtown, the basin area remaining a relatively isolated community. Between it and the edge of Penygloddfa was almost a quarter of a mile which had not been built over in the way one might have expected. Even the construction of the Cambrian Mill did not lead to the building of more houses nearby — presumably its workers came
over the footbridge from Newtown. The 1901 Ordnance Survey map shows the basin area containing few properties which had not been there in the 1840s; for example, only three houses had been built on the far side of the principal road going along the north side of the site. In 1826 William Pugh had tried and failed to get a road bridge built from the town to the wharf. Instead the new Long Bridge to Penygloddfa was built close to the site of the old bridge. The dominance of the lime trade is shown by the average annual tonnages conveyed by the Western Branch in 1831–3: Limestone Coal for lime burning Coal — domestic etc Timber & bark Slates, building stone etc Other goods
Annual tonnage 26,035 8,890 9,186 680 456 5,031
% of total 53 17 18 1 1 10
This table also shows how unbalanced the trade was. The only traffic going away from the town was the timber & bark, slates & building stone and probably less than half of the ‘other goods’ — about 5% or 6% of the total tonnage carried. Most boats therefore returned empty. Regular timetabled services for general goods were slow to build up. In 1828, seven years after the canal opened, services were advertised as going every Wednesday and Saturday. It was not until the opening of the Middlewich Branch in 1833 that the canal was connected to the national network, thus enabling boats from Newtown to reach Manchester; the route to Birmingham was shortened in 1835. In the latter year, three firms offered a total of seven departures a week. By 1844 there was a daily fly boat service operated by the Ellesmere & Chester Canal Company. The Shropshire Union’s daily flyboat service was still being advertised in 1895. Passengers were often carried on fly boats on an informal basis, but from June 1852 to about April 1854 a remarkable passenger service operated on weekdays from Newtown to the railway station at Rednal on the Chester to Shrewsbury line — a distance of 39 miles with 22 locks. The boat left Newtown at 7am, arriving at Rednal at 12.12pm, in time for the trains which reached Chester at 2.45pm and Shrewsbury at 12.50pm. The fare was 5s first class and 3s.6d second class. The return journey was even faster. Passengers leaving Chester at 10.40am or Shrewsbury at 12.15pm could catch the boat at Rednal at 1.05pm and arrive back at Newtown at 6.10pm.
The railway from Newtown to Llanidloes was opened in 1859; a link to the canal basin was approved by Parliament but never built. Newtown to Oswestry followed in 1861, and Welshpool to Shrewsbury in 1862. At the same time the revival in the woollen industry began, largely through the initiative of Pryce Jones, who established what was perhaps the first mail-order clothing business. But once Newtown was connected to the outside world by rail, it had little use for its canal. Conclusions A party was held at the Commercial Inn on 6th June 1834 to thank William Pugh for extending the canal from Garthmyl to Newtown. It was claimed that in the course of fifteen years the canal had led to a seven-fold increase in the townâ€™s wealth. However, the canal was just one of the infrastructure improvements in Newtown in the 1820s and 1830s, for most of which Pugh was a prime mover. Others included the building of the turnpike road to Builth Wells (1823), the Long Bridge (1826) and the Flannel Exchange (1832); a little later the summer assizes moved from Welshpool (1839). It is difficult to disentangle the various causes of the 50% increase in the population and real (but not seven-fold) improvement in the local economy. As has been shown, neither the growth nor the decay of the hand-loom industry was much affected by the canal. The power-looms did not come until much later, near the end of the canal era. Apart from lime burning and direct canal-related employment, the canal did not significantly help create other industries, as is evidenced by their absence from land close to the canal and the continuing relative isolation of the canal basin. The main beneficiaries perhaps were the ordinary people of the town, particularly through the 30% reduction in the price of coal. Peter Brown
he Milestone Society intends to survey all mileposts on the canal system, and Iâ€™ve volunteered to help them in our Branch area. It involves looking at each milestone, taking a digital photograph of it, and filling in a simple questionnaire. If anyone would like to help with the Montgomery Canal's mileposts, please contact me. (My contact details are on page 4.) Peter Brown
Canal Art Exhibition at Audlem Mill 21st March to 17th April 2010
he third annual exhibition of paintings of canal and waterways scenes is being held from 21st March to 17th April at Audlem Mill in Cheshire, one of the oldest and best known canalside shops in Britain. This is probably the only opportunity in 2010 to see so many canal paintings brought together in one place. Artists confirmed so far include Sarah Pressland, Dusty Miller, Helen Harding, Sylvia Hankin, Rob Lowman (members of the Guild of Waterway Artists), Harley Crossley, Dave Holloway, and David Wright as well as local artists Sheila Webster and the late Maureen Hinchliffe. Entry to the exhibition is free, and all works are for sale. The exhibitions at Audlem Mill in previous years have proved to be extremely popular.
Audlem Mill From a watercolour by Sheila Webster Copyright Audlem Mill
During the exhibition (and for the whole of the spring and summer season), Audlem Mill is open seven days a week. There is also a wide selection of canal ware and books, giftware for all the family, and needlework, with specialist threads and a very wide range of kits from many designers, and knitting yarns. Visitors should ring 01270 811059 or visit www.audlemmill.co.uk for further information.
WINTER HOLIDAY or how a three day voyage lasted three weeks.
hat are you doing for New Year weekend?” we said to our friend Lisa. “Why don't you come with us to move the boat from Church Minshull to Norbury Junction? With your help at the locks, it's only a three day trip, we can have you back at your car by Sunday night.”
We were already on plan C. In late October, we had secured a residential mooring at Norbury Junction for our narrowboat ALBION. We would have liked to have moved straight away, before winter really set in, but work commitments got in the way so we had settled for making the journey between Christmas and New Year when we had time off. Little did we know we were about to get the worst winter weather for thirty years. In Norfolk, where we were living, the pre-Christmas snow had all gone by the time we set off for the boat on the Sunday after Boxing Day. Having driven west through a mix of sunshine and heavy rain, we were amazed to find the marina and canal frozen. Monday morning, we awoke to thicker ice and freezing fog. It was obvious we would not be setting off any time soon. By Wednesday, the ice was thawing and we were assured that the main line was ice-free. Lisa had been intending to join us at Norbury for New Year's Eve so we made our invitation to join the crew. By Thursday lunchtime most of the ice had gone, the weather forecast was for sunshine, so we set off confidently. At first it was fine. There were boats moving on the Middlewich Branch, the ice was thin, the central channel was clear, and the pack ice at the bridge holes wasn't a problem. We reached Barbridge Junction and, sure enough, the main line was ice free, but the temperature was noticeably dropping. With daylight fading fast, we moored for the night south of Barbridge in a sheltered spot and celebrated New Year. Next morning, the canal was frozen across its width. Undaunted, we broke the ice around the boat and set off. The further we went, the thicker the ice became until we ground to a halt near Henhull Moorings – less than an hour after setting off. It started to snow. Later in the morning, a hire boat came through breaking the ice from Nantwich, followed by another which had come from Audlem. We could have set off in the channel they had forged but it was already clear that our timetable was impossible and every mile took us further from Lisa's car. She and Ira walked back the 6 miles to the marina to collect it, and she left us on Saturday. The canal froze again overnight, but gradually the temperature rose, rain set in and the ice started to thaw so we set off again, mooring outside Nantwich after an essential stop at the service station. After another icy start we reached Audlem on Sunday lunchtime, enjoying cruising on a lovely sunny morning, but from that point progress was painfully
slow. Sheets of ice on the lock sides and towpath made for treacherous conditions, getting worse as the temperature plummeted once again and the canal froze over. It took the rest of Sunday and Monday to reach the moorings near the top of the flight. On a trip into Audlem for provisions, we had seen the newspaper headlines â€” coldest winter for 30 years, the Big Freeze due to last 15 days! Thank goodness the Shroppie locks are in good order, even so, operating paddle gear and gates had our feet flying from time to time! We learned the value of the old raised brickwork over the newer concrete and gravel surfaces, and how to clear pack ice from behind the gates. For much of the time, we were the only boat moving, breaking the ice in the pounds.
ALBION ice breaking at Audlem On Tuesday morning, after overnight snow, it was a little warmer and the ice not as solid. We decided to try for Adderley. We got through the last two Audlem locks with no difficulty, but as we approached the bridge before the Adderley locks, we came to a dead stop in the thicker ice. We got the bow onto the bank and a friendly boater came to help by breaking the ice ahead of us canal-side with a pole while I took a line on the bank. With the engine turned up full whack, ALBION fairly raced along breaking ice under the bridge towards the moorings.
We had been so intent on what we were doing that we had not looked towards the lock and so it was with astonishment that at that moment we saw the bottom gates open and a boat emerge. Abandoning the idea of mooring now, we headed for the lock, both boats stopping in the middle as ice resisted each side, until they finally managed to pass. Our way was now clear to Market Drayton but the weather had one more trick and threw in some freezing fog to make things more interesting as we ascended the locks! Now adept at breaking ice to get into a mooring, we stopped at the first ones we reached at Market Drayton. It now came as no surprise the next morning that the canal was frozen over, but we hadn't expected the couple of inches of snow. We ventured into town for provisions; only a fruit and veg stall and a brave seller of socks had turned up for the market. We were running low on coal by now, as well as water, so when another boat came through we followed in its wake to the wharf. The couple aboard warned us that temperatures of minus 12 °C were forecast for that night. Having loaded coal and water, there was no mooring place available so we pushed through to the moorings by the school, but as the ice yielded quite readily, the skipper made a decision to press on, much to the first mate's dismay — if she had to be iced in, she preferred to be near civilisation! But harmony was restored as ALBION entered the sheltered cutting to Tyrley locks, with ice-free water and the most beautiful snowy scenery. Those who are familiar with Tyrley locks will know that there is a treacherous sandstone shelf towpath side between locks 5 and 4. We were not familiar with the locks. Our usual routine is for Ira to move the boat out of one lock and close the gates while I go ahead to set the next one. As I opened the bottom gate of lock four I saw the notice — “Do not moor between locks. Set the next lock before leaving.” Too late. We had not seen the notice on the bottom lock because both it and the shelf itself were covered by ice and snow, and there were no other signs. ALBION was out of the lock and firmly caught on the shelf. I ran back down and we took turns on and off the boat — reverse, forward, reverse, push, pull — to no avail. It was now 3.30pm and light was beginning to fade. In desperation I ran back up to the next lock, closed the gates, filled it up and let down a lock full of water — success, afloat! We flew up the rest of the flight as dusk fell, arriving at Tyrley Wharf in the dark, digging out mooring rings from the snow by torchlight, then walking back down the flight to shut the top gates we had left open in our haste. The forecast was not wrong. Overnight, the canal froze harder than we had seen before, even in the sheltered pounds where there had been free water the day before, and there was more snow. There was not a boat moving, and not a soul at the boats moored above the Wharf. The canal was transformed to a winter wonderland; the dogs thought it was heaven. Following a second night of temperatures in the minus teens, our water tank froze — along with the toilets
and Elsan disposal at the Wharf — we were surprised it had taken that long. We trekked to the Four Alls Inn for a carvery lunch, in the interests of conserving supplies. No change on Saturday, so we walked back to Market Drayton for bottled water and a few provisions, repeating the journey on Sunday. It was going to take a long time to thaw enough to move. We boiled clean snow for washing (ladies, it's great for the hair!) and gathered firewood. It made us realise how hard life would have been for the working boat people, and it was a lesson in how profligate we are with water and how much we rely on our wheels and modern conveniences. We made new friends; a fellow dog walker who showed us some great walks and the regulars at the Wharf Tavern at Goldstone, where the landlord gave us a lift back with a bag of coal, and the promise of a lift to Norbury Junction to pick up a car once ALBION made it through. The worst moment was when we lost battery power and the engine failed to start, but it was down to the thickened diesel in the extreme temperatures and it did get going with effort. By Wednesday, a week after our arrival at Tyrley, there was more heavy snow but the thaw was under way. On Thursday, with melted ice all round us, we set off for Goldstone Wharf. Woodseaves Cutting was “interesting”, the thaw producing cascades of water on the banks but the water levels were low because of the ice and we scraped bottom a couple of times. Just out of the cutting — deja vu — dead halt in thick ice, followed by going aground on the shelf. Moored at a rakish angle, we left by the gangplank, continued our journey on foot, and headed for the pub. Heavy rain set in on Friday morning, for once, a welcome sound! The snow receded fast and gaps began to appear in the ice. Saturday morning, with help from our friends wielding poles, we finally got off the shelf and through the ice to the wharf. It was still several inches thick in places. Half an hour later I had collected my car from Norbury, and we headed for Church Minshull to collect the one we had left there. We regaled our friends there with our adventures and they were surprised we had made it beyond Barbridge! On Sunday, I headed back to Norfolk, leaving Ira to complete the journey to Norbury when the ice had cleared — which he finally accomplished on Tuesday 19 January, almost three weeks after leaving Church Minshull. Our thanks go to all those who helped us on our way, boaters, walkers and publicans, with a particular mention to the BW staff at Tyrley Wharf who fetched us coal when we were running out just before we made our escape.
arly in the New Year we met up with some of the 30 people who had enjoyed Peter Brown's historical and "bracing" walk around the canal in Whitchurch. By the time they reached the Horse & Jockey at Grindley Brook they were glowing and ready for lunch. Congratulations all round for staying upright in the icy conditions, not easy at that time and for having a wonderful bright morning, the weather â€œwent off" soon after lunch. Walkers were not the only people to get cold feet this winter. Ethelted and myself are not Polar Bears and the hard winter made us glad to spend some time in Audlem instead of on LEO in Whixall Marina. We are told that the boat has survived the frost with the help of a fan heater, on frost setting. Not a cheap option over such a prolonged cold spell but better than burst pipes â€” we have paws crossed as I write. The humans are planning to join in the gathering at Norbury over the May Day Bank Holiday. We really look forward to the first major outing of the year and we are told that the game is being put in order to help raise some funds. I am asked to remind local members that any donations of small prizes for the game will be gratefully received and help to raise branch funds. We have all been keeping an eye on the new marina development in Audlem. Progress looks good and most of the structural work was done before the snow, for which fact I am sure the developers were extremely pleased. It will obviously take time to establish grass and trees which will improve things enormously and we are given to understand that the aim is to keep everything as natural as possible. It will be interesting to watch progress over the next months as it is due to open in the spring. We all wish the owners luck! There was much relief when the weather behaved itself for 20th January, the Quiz Night at the Narrowboat Inn. Other canal societies had been invited to join us and it is hoped that they enjoyed the evening as much as we did. As usual I acted as mascot for our team and, as usual, we didn't win! We felt vindicated when there were only 7 points different in the first and last (us). Our male human excelled himself in the puzzle round (putting little balls in holes in plastic cubes) we knew he was clever! Sue and Mike Lambourne who set the quiz had promised it would be light-hearted and fun and they succeeded as well as giving
us some brain exercise. Two teams tied for first and have agreed to combine forces with question for next year. Bears had looked forward to the skittles match at the Bickerton Poacher in February — we had been guarding the cup since last year. Imagine our disappointment when, at the last moment, the pub realised that they had double booked! Many apologies and some compensation didn't really help as time was too short to change things. However, with the Bickerton Poacher keen to make amends and a promise to let us have the skittle alley free of charge, we have since arranged a date for Friday June 11th in the hope that the competition can continue. Do try and join us. As I write thoughts turn to spring — at present only snowdrops show that it is coming although we keep looking for signs of crocus and daffs — not very colourful as yet! We are sure that we are not the only ones to be looking forward to "casting a clout". We have been comparatively lucky in our area but even so, it seems a long time ago since the first snow fall. So we are all hoping for a nice warm May Day Rally when we can shed our woolly hats, gloves and scarves. We look forward to seeing some of you there. Tugboat Ted
Lock Wind at Quoisley 7th & 8th August
y August your windlasses should be well oiled and back in full working order! You don’t have one? No problem we have an endless supply.
Yes once again our annual fund raising lock wind will be at Quoisley Lock the first weekend in August and members of the committee will be really pleased if you can join us either by boat (weather permitting we will have a welcoming BBQ on Friday evening, please bring your own) or by car on Saturday and/or Sunday. When travelling from Whitchurch on the A49 there is off road parking on the far side of the bridge. BW has requested that all volunteers who arrive by car, cross the road to the tow path on the brow of the bridge where you get a clear view of the road on both sides. This year we have decided to expand the sales stall to include home made and home grown produce and cakes. The books sell well but we need to entice non-readers off their boats. So if you have a surplus of fruit and vegetables or are willing to bake a pudding, pie, cake(s) or biscuits please get in touch. Better still come along and ‘bring & buy’. For more information or just to let us know you plan to join us or have a donation to our stall please contact Dawn 01691 830403.
Maesbury Canal Festival 4th – 5th September 2010
lans are progressing, boats and stalls are booking in, and grants from Shropshire Council have made it possible for craft demonstrators to attend and some will be offering visitors a chance to ‘have a go’. More details will be in the next edition of the Shroppie Fly Paper. But in the meantime you can keep up to date with plans by looking on our web-site: www.canalfestival.co.uk which has been set up by Martin Richards and hosted by Elite-technologies. Please have a look and I hope you will agree with us that Martin has done us proud! So how can you help and get involved? There will be plenty of opportunities over the weekend of the festival but in the meantime we need volunteers to distribute leaflets and posters in local Tourist Information Centres, shop windows, marinas and any other public place you can think of. During the festival we will be running a raffle and possibly a tombola (if we get enough small prizes) so if you have any good business contacts you can ask for prizes or have any unwanted Christmas presents please let us know. So far we have a wonderful wooden wheel barrow planted out with late summer flowers and a year’s subscription to Waterways World.
The Festival Art Conpetition The Montgomery Canal goes “Wild and Wonderful”! Artists and photographers of all ages and abilities are invited to show their “Wild and Wonderful” pictures of the magical Montgomery Canal. Judging will be by public vote throughout August in Oswestry Library, where the artwork will be exhibited, as well as at the Festival itself. Prizes will be awarded in each of the three age groups and more information is available on the Festival website – www.canalfestival.co.uk – or by contacting Sarah Richards on 01939 261396 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. So, come on, let’s get those easels dusted, pencils sharpened and cameras to the ready!
Brain of Monty 2010 Quiz Forget the £25 prize money just think of the prestige of being awarded the Brain of Monty 2010! Just 80 questions; all with MONT in the answer somewhere.
For example the last Aztec emperor was Montezuma 11. It couldn’t be simpler with hours of fun for just £1. To get your copy just send me a SAE and £1 or £5 and sell the surplus to friends, family and colleagues, to: Wyndcliff, Pen-y-Garreg Lane, Pant, Oswestry SY10 8JS. Please make cheques payable to SUCS. Dawn Aylwin
The Pontcysyllte Ghost
as anyone experienced a ghostly apparition when walking across the Pontcysyllte aqueduct late at night?
Steve Haywood thinks he saw one when walking back from the pub to his boat which was moored at Trevor. As Steve and his wife reached the aqueduct a young man appeared from the path which leads up from the valley below and began to walk across the aqueduct in front of them. Steve records that “he was — what, maybe ten or twenty yards ahead? Certainly no more.” With only one torch to show the way Steve swung it backwards and forwards so his wife could see where she was going and he could check the path ahead. Steve describes the scene: “Three paces of light and a glimpse of the man ahead, then three paces of darkness. Three paces of light ahead and a glimpse of the man ahead, then — inexplicably — he wasn’t there any more! He’d suddenly vanished. Totally disappeared.” We have cruised over the aqueduct several times in the past few years but have not had the pleasure of meeting anything that was not of this world. However there have been several bunches of flowers as memorials to people who have jumped. I’d hate to think of one poor soul having to relive his demise over and over again! If anyone would like to read Steve Haywood’s book ‘Fruit flies like a banana’ then we have one copy that will be on sale on the Branch book stall this summer. In fact why not bring all your unwanted paperbacks for us to sell when you come to buy? If you can’t get to one of the events we will be supporting this year but have a lot of unwanted books please get in touch with any committee member and we will collect them. Back to the subject of ghosts. If you have a good ghost story connected to the waterways in our area please put pen to paper and let the editor know. Dawn Aylwin
2020 Vision A personal view *
he future of the waterways? Who first asked that? And when?
The question was certainly around a hundred years before the canals were nationalised, when the Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company was formed in 1846. How many reorganisations have there been since, from the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive of sixty years ago to today's British Waterways? Today BW shares with Channel 4 and the New Covent Garden Market Authority the status of a government-owned statutory corporation: it receives a substantial grant from the Government, and the Government appoints its Board. But now BW has the idea, 2020 Vision, of moving within the next 10 years out of direct state control and into the Third Sector. And while BW looks at the horizon, the Government is consulting on Waterways for Everyone: a new version of John Prescott's Waterways for Tomorrow which ten years ago set out a policy to promote inland waterways, “encouraging a modern, integrated and sustainable approach to their use, protecting and conserving an important part of our national heritage, and maximising the opportunities they offer for leisure and recreation and as a catalyst for urban and rural regeneration”. But today's story is all about cuts. IWA started campaigning against cuts in waterway funding three years ago: this year's BW budget is £10 million down, so is substantially less than is needed just to maintain the system. This led to the BW reorganisation earlier this year, a huge effort in cost and staff time; and it was only last November when we saw the end of months of speculation about the possible disposal of BW's properties, which provide an important income to the waterway system. No wonder everyone is looking to see if things can be managed better. Now, I can feel that I am losing the attention of some of you ... Where is that article by the bears? Who won the quiz? ... But you must pay attention, so please sit up at the back there! This is an important discussion for all of us who care for the waterways (and is even more exciting for those of us who sit in offices lined with leather-bound law reports, quill pen at the ready...). So, now I have your attention, what is the Third Sector?
I am not sure we even knew we had two other sectors, but the third lumps together voluntary and community organisations, charities and mutual organisations who are, it is said, in the place between state and the private sector. IWA is part of it. Fortunately we have our own Government Office, the Office of the Third Sector, with our very own Government minister, Angela Smith. The Office of the Third Sector was, we are told, “created at the centre of government ... in recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy”. We are told that organisations in the sector are non-governmental, value-driven, and principally reinvest any financial surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives and we are assured that the Third Sector is diverse, active and passionate. The work of the Office of the Third Sector is illustrated by the Compact launched in December 2009 (in partnership with Compact Voice and the Commission for the Compact). With a foreword from the Prime Minister, the new Compact will, we are promised, be a valuable tool in helping to build partnerships in the years to come. There are local Compacts too ― Shropshire's is 36 pages long, published in October 2009: it sets out how Shropshire Council and the voluntary and community sector should work together for the benefit of the people they serve. Shropshire's Compact commits us to recognise the value and diversity of the voluntary and community sector (― that's us), to be clear and transparent in actions and expectations in working together, to enable everyone to have the opportunity to get involved, and to treat each other equally, fairly and with respect. Cynics may say, 'Motherhood and apple pie! Wouldn't all this have been done anyway?' ... but we won't, will we? It is the Office of the Third Sector which leads the emphasis on volunteering which is being promoted by many national and local organisations today. (I cannot leave this topic ― though I probably should ― without telling you that in December 2008 the Cabinet Office Advisor on Third Sector Innovation, Anne McGuire MP, went to China to tell them how to do volunteering!) So, if BW is to be part of the Third Sector, what should it look like? British Waterways proposes that it should “embrace the commitment of stakeholders through a new model of governance and organisational structure” to allow greater participation by stakeholders, a more transparent and secure funding arrangement with government, the potential to make the most of the support from individuals and communities, and increasing volunteering and fundraising.
I suspect that BW has its eye on the National Trust, an independent charity. You join the Trust to get free entry to its properties, and if you join you get a vote to elect the members of the Trust's Council. The Council appoints the trustees to manage the Trust (a trustee being a person who controls property for the benefit of others). The National Trust gets its income from subscriptions, legacies and people who visit its properties. Also managing heritage properties is English Heritage, which is actually part of the Government. You join English Heritage to get free entry to its properties, but you do not get a vote because the Government appoints the Commissioners who run it. English Heritage gets its income from taxation, subscriptions, and people who visit its properties. There are lots of other Third Sector organisations: the Co-op, NFU, building societies: in each, the people who use the organisation are its members and they elect a Board to run it. So how could a Third Sector BW operate? Firstly, it would have to draw a substantial part of its income from some source other than the people who visit or use the waterways, probably the Government or local authorities. And secondly, someone would have to appoint or elect its Board. If the Government is paying a large part of the funds for BW, would it be content to let others appoint the people who will spend it? If this new BW has members, would they be like English Heritage members, or National Trust members: would they be able to vote for people to run BW? Would you vote for someone to put up your license and mooring fees? And what does IWA think? The 2020 debate has taken us back to the Association's view of half a century ago when it proposed that the entire waterways system â€• today more than 30 waterway authorities, some operating under antiquated legislation â€• should be vested in a National Waterways Conservancy, an all-purpose authority for every navigable waterway in the country. And the new Conservancy should be at arm's length from government in order to avoid policy and funding control â€• though, as I have suggested, these are probably the main questions to answer. This was all too radical in the 1950s: will it really happen in the 21st century?
Please read the disclaimer on page 4: the opinions in this article are not IWA policy. While the opinions in this article are mine, the management Newspeak, which I have quoted from various sources, is not!
Shrewsbury Boat Trip Friday 20th August 2010
he Branch cruise this year is on the River Severn starting at Shrewsbury and includes a fish & chip supper aboard the SABRINA. The Boat leaves Victoria Quay at 7.00pm on Friday 20th August so we will all meet in the Car Park by Welsh Bridge at 6.50pm. The cost will be ÂŁ20 per person - including fish and chips. We have reserved a number of places on the boat but please book early if you want to be sure of an exciting trip on the river. Contact Janet Farmer on 01270 811157 or e.mail <email@example.com>
The legend of Sabrina The boat SABRINA is named after Hafren the Welsh Goddess of the River Severn. The legend was recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth who became Bishop of Asaph in 1156. He writes of a legendary King of England who had an affair with Elfridis and they had a beautiful daughter called Hafren. Unfortunately his wife, the Queen, was not exactly happy about the affair and in a jealous rage killed the King and ordered Hafren and her mother to be thrown into the river. Hafren then became a goddess of healing and gave her name to the river. The Welsh name Hafren, translated into English became Sabren, then Sabrina and finally Severn. Geoffrey also describes how the River Severn came into being. Apparently three water spirits met on the wind swept slopes of Plynlimon to decide the best route to the sea. One spirit headed westward and her route became the River Ystwyth, the second wended her way through the hills and valleys becoming the River Wye and the third decided to pass through towns and villages which took 180 miles to reach the sea and became the River Severn. We canâ€™t promise that you will meet any water spirits but a gentle cruise can be very calming so you might be healed in spirit or will it be by Hafren! So please join us.
Branch Annual Quiz
he quiz masters promised and delivered an evening of fun rather than a series of difficult questions; so thank you Mike and Sue Lambourne. The rumour that they were not going to make the questions so hard must have spread far and wide because the room at the Narrowboat Inn was bursting at the seams. If the trend continues we will either have to find another venue (ideas please) or take over the main room of the pub. Just 7 points separated the teams. The ‘Fossils’ and the ‘Retards’ were joint winners with 49 points, a dubious honour because one member from each team will be asked to set the questions next year. The ‘Prees Arm Moorers’ (the SUCS team) and the ‘Friends’ vied for second and third place with the ‘Tug Boat Teds’ not far behind. So what did we have to answer questions on? Apart from TV programmes and 60’s music (the team I was in failed miserably on the first topic but sailed through the music questions) we had 10 Mr Men to name and 9 birds to identify (birds which had recently been seen on the Montgomery Canal). Again we were stumped by the Mr Men but won out with our feathered friends. See you all next year when once again we hope to entertain you with an action packed quiz evening. In fact the IWA Shrewsbury Branch challenges all the canal societies to pit their wits against us. Dawn Aylwin
nce again we extend a warm welcome to the following members who have recently joined the branch: Mr Babb from Mold, Mr Breslin from Rhosgadfan, Mr & Mrs Brown from Nantwich, Ms Browning from Wrexham, Mr Curgenven from Madeley, Ms Davenport from Shavington, Ms Dyke from Penmaenmawr, Mr Fowler from Nantwich, Mr & Ms Hughes from Mold, Mr & Mrs Jordan from Wrexham, Ms Kellett from Moelfre, Mr Lester from Wrexham, Ms Lyneth from Wrexham, Mr & Mrs Richards from Shrewsbury, Ms Stanford from Holywell, Mr & Mrs Stone from Whitchurch, Mr Thompson from Ruthin, Mr & Mrs Tunnell and family from Wrockwardine and the Overwater Marina. It is good to see new people interested in the waterways; please come and join us at one of our events. We are also very pleased that several members from last summer’s WRG work parties have also joined the branch. We look forward to meeting you all.
INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Annual General Meeting Notice is hereby given of the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch of the Inland Waterways Association to be held at the Narrow Boat Inn, Whittington, near Ellesmere on Wednesday 24th March 2010 at 7.30 pm.
Apologies for absence
Minutes of the 2009 AGM
Matters arising from the minutes
Adoption of accounts
Election of committee members
Discussion on issues sent to the Chairman by 29th January 2010
This will be followed by a talk given by Chris Chambers, Chairman of the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust. ........................................................................................... Nomination of Committee Members Committee members, including those current committee members reaching the end of their 3 year term and wishing to seek re-election, will be elected from the floor at the AGM for a term of 3 years. We welcome any branch member who is interested in joining the committee. If you are unable to attend the AGM but would like to join the committee or would like further information, please call David Aylwin on 01691 830403 or any committee member.
Winter Walk at Whitchurch
his was another really enjoyable well attended ‘walk and talk’ organised by Peter Brown. We started at Grindley Brook and caught the bus into town, then set off along Watergate, down Mill Street and onto a footpath which used to skirt the northern side of the canal basin. Fortunately the gate into the basin site was open and we were able to enter and visualise what the elongated triangular basin looked like in its heyday. On the north side there were the main wharf building, stores and warehouse which had an awning over the water enabling cargo to be kept dry. The end of the basin had an open wharf with a crane and there were coal wharfs on the south side. The four-storey steampowered corn mill built near the basin in 1826 has now been converted into Culshaw’s bistro. From the basin site we continued along the footpath, crossed the park to the children’s playground and then on to Sherryman’s Bridge by Sherrymill Hill. This path follows the approximate line of the former towpath. Peter assumes that the gas works which were in use by 1851 were originally where the car park is now, and when that site proved too small it expanded to the other side of Sherrymill Hill. Adjacent to the bridge on the north side of the hill there was another corn mill. From the bridge the line of the former canal branch is lost for half a mile, first under Waterside Close and then the properties in Brookfield, so we took the footpath to the north of the stream and followed it crossing the end of The Firs. We then continued on to Greenfields Rise to the eastern part of the proposed Water Park. The Whitchurch Waterways Trust wishes to bring navigation closer to the town by creating a lake in this valley. Visiting boats will be able to moor to the east while the western side would be principally an environmental lake designed to encourage wildlife. The walk continued under Chemistry Bridge and along the towpath to the main line of the Llangollen Canal where we turned right back to Grindley Brook. If you were unable to come on the walk you missed a treat but you can still get a copy of the historical notes which Peter prepared for us (01630 652567).
Letters Re: Blists Hill Victorian Town and the Art Fund Prize 2010 The Blists Hill Victorian Town has been Long-Listed in the Art Fund Prize 2010 for Museums & Galleries, the largest arts prize in Britain. I hope you can lend your considerable weight in helping the Museum by publishing this letter. We are up against some very strong competition including the Natural History Museum, the Ashmolean, Oxford and Hampton Court. We have to prove that we have excellent support from our volunteers, visitors and friends if we are to progress and ultimately win the £100,000 prize on offer. History tells us that to win the important public vote we will need over 300,000 votes, so we need to make a positive early start. Please can you ask your members to vote today by following the link www.artfundprize.org.uk and then follow the Vote for your favorite link? It should only take about 30 seconds. If they can leave a nice comment too, that would be great. Many thanks Steve Miller Chief Executive The IRONBRIDGE GORGE MUSEUM TRUST Coalbrookdale Telford Shropshire TF8 7DQ
Stewards needed for the National AGM
s was announced in the last issue of the Shroppie Fly Paper, the IWA’s National AGM will be held on Saturday 25th September 2010 at the Grove School, Market Drayton. We need at least eight stewards on the day from 9am to help with reception, coffee, and car parking. It would also be desirable to have someone trained in First Aid at the event. A free lunch will be provided. If you would be willing to be a steward or the First Aider, please contact Peter Brown, 34 Waterside Drive, Market Drayton TF9 1HU (telephone 01630652567, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible. September might seem a long way off, but the Branch Committee has quite a lot to organise in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that the Branch’s reputation is upheld. Peter Brown
The CRESSY Cruise
WA members will recall that in 1939 Tom Rolt, a founder member of the Association travelled through the waterways of Britain in his converted Shroppie fly-boat CRESSY and recorded his experiences in a book "Narrowboat" published after the war. That book inspired Robert Aickman and others to join him in a fight to save the canals which were rapidly becoming derelict and would soon have been lost forever. They were successful and we largely have them to thank for the benefits which the canals bring so widely for everyone, today. This year the IWA is celebrating the centenary of Tom Rolt's birth. As part of those celebrations Ron and Mary Heritage from Oxfordshire Branch, in their narrow boat HERON are re-enacting the cruise travelled by Tom and wife Angela all those years ago. They will start from Tooleys Boatyard in Banbury on 24th April and will attend various celebrations along the route. In our Region they will be at the "Middlewich Rally" on 19th – 20th June and will then leave the original route to attend the Chester Branch "Tom Rolt Centenary Celebration" on the week end of 26th – 27th June. Tom was born in Chester in 1910 and there will be a celebration dinner in the Guildhall on Friday 25th (£20.00 - 7.30 pm for 8.00 pm contact Lesley Taylor 0151 3426651). From Chester HERON will rejoin the original route cruising along the Shropshire Union Canal reaching Audlem in our area on the 3rd July. Tom Rolt also stopped here and mentions the town as "a group of old houses, inns and shops clustering about a church perched on a mound"; a description which many of our canal visitors might still agree with. He bought "Chorley cakes and homemade treacle toffee" and continued on his way. The stop in Audlem will give the Branch an opportunity to welcome them when they arrive on the 3rd and to arrange a short ceremony at 2.00 pm on Sunday the 4th when they leave. We have invited civic and waterway dignitaries to join us in wishing them well on their way. We will be taking this opportunity to hand them our medallion which, together with those collected from other branches, will be incorporated in a specially made stand which will be displayed en route wherever they stop and carried to their final destination at the "IWA National Festival and Boat Show" at Beale Park near Pangbourne on the River Thames over the August bank holiday weekend, where it will be displayed for all to see." We would like as many members as possible to join us at the leaving ceremony and on the flight of locks afterwards. And if one or two can bring a windlass that's even better! I wonder if there is anyone who still knows how to bake "Chorley cakes and treacle toffee. Contact Janet or Denis Farmer 01270 811157 for more details. Denis Farmer
Caption Competition ‘BW staff take a well earned rest after installing the bench in Aston Nature Reserve’
end your speech bubbles, printable ones only please, to email@example.com before 30th April and the best will win a copy of the ‘Montgomery Canal Restoration’ DVD. The winner will be announced in the next SFP; the editor’s decision is final.
Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch Diary of Events 24th March
Talk by Chris Chambers of S&NCT SD&NW Branch AGM Narrowboat Inn, Whittington Contact Janet Farmer 01270 811157
Litter Pick at Welshpool Contact Dawn Aylwin
Llangollen Railway Trust Gala Contact David Aylwin
11th June 13th
Skittles Challenge Contact Janet Farmer
7th - 8th August 20th
11th 18th 25th
Dinghy Dawdle Contact Terry Wain firstname.lastname@example.org
May Day Boat Rally Details on www.sncanal.org.uk
Cressy Cruise at Audlem Contact Denis Farmer
Lock Wind at Quoisley Contact Dawn Aylwin
Boat Trip at Shrewsbury Contact Janet Farmer
Maesbury Canal Festival Contact David Aylwin
Ellesmere Festival Contact Paul Mills
Whitchurch Rally Contact Mike Parsonage
National AGM at Market Drayton Contact Peter Brown 01630 652567
More details of some of these events can be found inside this newsletter. Committee meetings are usually held at 7.30pm on the second Monday of each month at the Narrow Boat Inn (Maestermyn Marina), Whittington. Members are very welcome to join us and will not be pressured into any of our vacant jobs unwillingly. Please confirm with a committee member before attending.