Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Continuing cuts and departures at troubled K&A Canal Trust

By Bob Naylor

Aldermaston Café  and Visitor Centre                Picture by Bob Naylor
In the continuing battle to bring its finances back on an even keel the troubled Kennet and Avon Canal Trust has now made the manager of its Aldermaston Café and Visitor Centre redundant and the business will now be run by a commercial operator in what is described as a 'commercial partnership'. 

The K&A Canal Trust has made huge losses for the last five years and the board of Trustees were told by their Treasurer, Neil Lethby  at a recent meeting that without drastic measures they would not break-even this year.  They immediately made the post of General Manager part time and announced that they will not be replacing the café/shop manager and caretaker at the Crofton pumping Station that is home to an 1812 Boulton and Watt beam engine — thought to be the oldest beam engine in the world still in its original engine house and capable of doing the job it was installed to do.

Café changes
These are the latest moves in a string of cost cutting measures that began at the end of last year when the Trust office manager and the café manager at Bradford on Avon  were made redundant and the Trust put the Bradford and Newbury Cafés in the hands of commercial operators.  

Now all of the Trust's cafés apart from Crofton will be run by outside businesses with no volunteer help — and a question mark must now hang over Crofton with the ending of the manager's job there.

When asked this week about the situation at Aldermaston, General Manager, Mike Rodd said, "We are in negotiations with three people who have expressed an interest in running the café at Aldermaston but no agreement has been reached yet. Neil Lethby is dealing with the situation there."

Clearly there is confusion at the Trust because in mid-September a new website went online at:  promoting the café saying, "Wayne & Lesley are pleased to announce that the K&A shop is now under new management".

On the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust Facebook page on 13th September Wayne Sangwell announced, "The K & A Shop & Tea Room at Aldermaston, will now be open all year for teas, hot snacks & sandwiches. It will also be a local shop offering every day items. New opening times will be posted soon." The next day this elicited this response from Trustee, Terry Kemp, "Great stuff - Don't forget to sign up new members from your customers and get them to join on  Facebook."

More Trustee resignations
Following the departure of the Trust Chairman, David Rees, it now emerges that the Trust Director of Marketing, Tim Coleman and Charles Reiss, who headed up a committee that produced a comprehensive review of the communication strategy of the Trust, have both resigned — and although the Trust Magazine, The Butty, still lists Waterways Minister Richard Benyon as a Vice President his office say that he resigned from the Trust on June 18th this year.


  1. At last, someone really telling it as it is!

  2. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

  3. Sounds good, I like to read your blog, just added to my favorites ;).