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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Canal drawing workshop
A drawing workshop being run by The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust is aimed at helping people to focus their observational skills and improve their drawing of boats, wildlife and people.

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:  www.kennetandavonaldermaston.co.uk  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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crofton in steam — end of season steam Gala success

Pictures by Bob Naylor

The fourth Steam Gala at Crofton Pumping Station on the K&A Canal was held to coincide with this year's last scheduled steaming of the 1812 Boulton and Watt and the 1846 Harvey beam engines that were built to supply water to the summit of the Canal.

Visitors were able to see the oldest working steam engine in the world that is still doing the job it was built to do as well as a host of other attractions including stationary steam engines, traction engines, vintage and veteran cars, The Ramsbury Silver Band, a fairground organ and Aldbrickham Clog Dancers as well as enjoy local beer and cider. 
Hats & neckerchiefs were the order of the day
Two Aveling and Porter steam rollers and Colin Hatch of Swindon with his dairy boiler

1930 Alvis                                                                                                1920 Model 'T' Ford
Talking about model boats — and beer
The pound below the pumping station was brought to life with a rally of boats from the Devizes and Pewsey Wharf boat clubs.

Friday, September 24, 2010

BW to be abolished says Daily Telegraph

Quango cuts: 177 bodies to be scrapped under coalition plans

K&A Canal: Gibson's Boat Services - Winter Opening

Winter opening at Gibson's Boat Services at Honeystreet on the Kennet & Avon Canal come into effect from October 1st.

Planners OK canalside art for K&A's 200th anniversary
By Bob Naylor
A permanent monument will mark the 200th anniversary of the Kennet & Avon Canal now planners have given approval for it to be erected beside the canal in Bath

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

K&A Canal pump-outs back in action
The problems with the card readers on the pump-outs at Great Bedwyn and Pewsey have now been fixed and all the BW pump-outs on the K&A Canal are now working. 

Report any problems to: 01380 722859 
Poll has River Kennet in top three worst rivers
In an on-line survey to find the best and the worst rivers in the country the River Kennet is currently standing number three after the Thames and the Mersey in the worst rivers category.

Bradford on Avon Fringe Festival
Boats & Folk at the Canal Tavern
The Canal Tavern at Bradford on Avon came alive last night as members of the K&A Canal boating community took to the stage with an evening of foot stomping folk and blues hosted by Tom Rockliffe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Warning to Boaters - Southcote Lock to Burghfield Lock
Monday 20 September 2010 until further notice
Due to a technical problem with an Environment Agency weir the water level on the pound between Southcote Lock (103) and Burghfield Lock (104) will fluctuate — dropping up to four inches (10cm).
This will not affect navigation but the ropes on boats moored in this pound should be adjusted to take account of the fluctuating levels. Enquiries: 01380 722859
Telling towpath tales
Memories and tales of the towpath alongside the Bath Flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal are being collected as part a restoration plan for the area. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

K&A Canal restricted lock operations between Great Bedwyn and Little Bedwyn

Sunday 19 September 2010 — until further notice
Little Bedwyn Lock (67)
Because of very low water levels in the area locks 64 to 67 will only be open between 9am and 4.30pm. 

Please share locks to save water whenever possible.

The locks affected are Church Lock (64) at Great Bedwyn, Burnt Mill (65), Potters (66) and Little Bedwyn (67).

For more information call: 01380 722859
Bradford on Avon Fringe Festival
Fantastic first Fringe Festival at Bradford on Avon

Ten days of live entertainment in the town's pubs and clubs — with most of it free — the Fringe Festival in Bradford on Avon aims to complement the town's Arts Festival. 

Pictures by Bob Naylor

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Towpath pedal for Pakistan
Flood victims in Pakistan will benefit from the pedal power of two pupils from Box Primary School near Bath. 

Jamelia, seven, and Anisha, six, decided to do a sponsored bike ride to help the flood victims in Pakistan. On Saturday (18 September 2010) they set off to ride 23 miles along the Kennet & Avon Canal towpath from the Caen Hill Flight in Devizes to Bath.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Get your boots on and help restore the glory of Bradford on Avon's canalside
Bradford on Avon's lock is reckoned to be one of the busiest in the country for boat traffic and the picturesque town attracts huge numbers of visitors — especially day trippers from the nearby World Heritage City of Bath.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

K&A Canal — Aldermaston Lock stoppage

Tuesday 21 September 2010 - Wednesday 22 September 2010
Aldermaston Lock 95 will be closed from from 8am 21st September 2010 to 4pm 22nd September 2010 for work on the bye wier

For more information ring: 01380 722859

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

K&A Canal — Crofton Flight restriction

Thursday 16 September 2010 — until further notice 
Crofton Crossing Lock 61 to Crofton Lock 55 will be shut from 4.40pm until 9am to save water and to allow the pumps to replenish water supplies.

Before entering be sure that you have 1.5 to 2 hours to clear the flight.

For more information ring: 01380 722859
K&A Canal Trust cash crisis
Cash strapped Trust makes General Manager part time, cuts staff and launches a new fundraising drive in a desperate bid to balance the books

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Swindon celebrates the 200th anniversary of its canal at the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Festival 
It was a chance for the town to see and enjoy the benefits of having a canal — and people flocked to the event held on Sunday at a restored section of the Wilts & Berks Canal at Wichelstowe in south Swindon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

David Rees
Resignation setback for BW's 'Third Way' plans

By Bob Naylor

British Waterways' pilot of its Third Sector plans on the Kennet & Avon Canal has been dealt a blow with the sudden departure of K&A Canal Trust Chairman, David Rees.

BW tug Burland - for sale
K&A work boats in BW sell off

By Bob Naylor

British Waterways is selling off work boats that are no longer needed — among them are three that have given good service on the Kennet & Avon Canal over the years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Visitors enjoy free visit to historic K&A Pumping Station

By Bob Naylor

Claverton Pumping Station near Bath opened yesterday for visitors as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme.

Wilton Windmill        Picture by Bob Naylor
Free entry to Wilton Windmill 

Wilton Windmill is taking part the Heritage Open Days scheme this afternoon. Saturday 11 September 2010

There will be free guided tours, traditional childrens  games, Windmill Bread for sale and refreshments available. From 1.30 to 4.30pm

Bath policemen in night time river rescue
By Bob Naylor
Two Bath policeman who saved the life of a man who got into difficulties after he jumped into the River Avon off Pulteney Bridge in Bath have been nominated for Royal Humane Society bravery awards.
Pulteney Weir, Bath: Picture by Bob Naylor

BW Wildlife Survey — get spotting
By Bob Naylor

Waterway ecologists are asking for your help to monitor the wildlife on canals and rivers by taking part in the annual British Waterways wildlife survey.
The Kennet & Avon Canal is noted as a haven for the water vole and there have also been sightings of otters. A few years ago one of Britain's rarest birds, the Bittern, a shy, reed-dwelling bird that is on the RSPB's 'Red List' of endangered species was recorded on the K&A Canal.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Canal Trust floats its boat for Swindon Canal Fest

'Dragonfly' on the K&A Canal at Semington 
this week before being taken by road to Swindon.
Picture by Bob Naylor
By Bob Naylor

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust's new trip boat has been craned into a restored section of canal in Swindon in time to be used this weekend to carry passengers at the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Canal Fest at Wichelstowe on Sunday.

The 36ft narrowboat was named Dragonfly by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at a ceremony at Semington on the K&A Canal on Wednesday.

The boat was taken by road from the K&A Canal after being used in a ceremony to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Wilts & Berks Canal by marking the start point of the planned link from the K&A Canal to the River Avon in Melksham. On the eastern side of Melksham there will be a link from the river to the canal that, when restored, will form a link to the River Thames at Abingdon.
The Wichelstowe Canal Festival is on from 11am to 4pm on Sunday.
There will be a demonstration by local canoe clubs, Swindon Angling Club will be there to teach youngsters how to fish. Children's entertainment will include a bouncy castle, trampolines, hopper races and an inflatable obstacle course.
There will also be face painting, glitter bugs and henna art.
The trust stand will be there to with information about the canal, its industrial heritage and the techniques being used to restore the canal.
For more information visit:  www.wbct.org.uk/canalfest
How to get there
Recommended route,
Redposts Drive
(off Wootton Bassett Road, Swindon)
Recommended route,
The canal towpath from the rear
of the Esso Garage, Kingshill Road
The footpath from Old Town to Mannington
that crosses the canal then use the towpath south

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bradford on Avon Lock — intermittent stoppage

Wednesday 15 September 2010 - Thursday 16 September 2010

Bradford On Avon Lock will be closed to boat traffic for periods of up to one hour between 8am and 4pm for electrical repairs in the adjacent pump chamber.

For more information contact BW at Devizes: 01380 722859

Royal start to Wilts & Berks link to the K&A canal

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, wearing her dragonfly brooch with pride: Picture by Bob Naylor
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Trust celebrated its 200th anniversary in royal style when Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall took part in the ceremony to mark the start of the new link from the K&A Canal at Semington to the River Avon in Melksham.

She arrived at Semington proudly wearing a dragonfly broach — the W&B emblem... and the Duchess who is patron of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust then performed the naming ceremony for the very vessel she arrived on. 

She poured a bottle of Wadworths K&A 200 celebration beer over the bow —and named the boat "Dragonfly".  

After naming the boat she then went on to cut the first 'sod' to mark the official start of the link from the K&A Canal to the Wilts & Berks Canal.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

K&A Canal Trust hosts museum treasures exhibition

Decorated milk churn
from the K&A Canal Museum.
Picture by Ayesha Robson.
A touring exhibition of photographs of Wiltshire Museum treasures taken by photography and media students from Swindon New College can be seen at the Canal Centre on Devizes Wharf until the end of the month.

The project, Photographing Wiltshire's Treasures, is a collaboration between New College and Wiltshire Council Museums Advisory Service with funding from Renaissance South West.

Nine museums, including the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Museum had a student on a week long placement. They photographed a selection of objects from the museum collections with guidance from  museum staff  and a professional photographer.

During the project 900 objects were photographed.

The exhibition can be seen at The Canal Centre on Devizes Wharf until 30th September, at Pewsey Heritage Centre from 1st October until 22nd October and at Bradford on Avon Museum from 23rd October until 5th November.

Many of the pictures taken by the students can be seen at: http://www.newcollege.ac.uk/wiltshirestreasures/exhibits.html

Canal stoppage at Aldermaston — reminder

Aldermaston Lock (95) 
Tomorrow — Wednesday 8 September 2010 
Closed from 8am to 4pm for emergency repairs.
Enquiries: 07917186070

Monday, September 06, 2010

Cow rescued from the Kennet & Avon Canal

Firefighters were called out to rescue a cow from the Kennet & Avon Canal near the Cunning Man pub at Burghfield near Reading yesterday (Sunday Sept 5th, 2010). 

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue specialist large animal rescue unit based at Caversham Road, Reading was called out shortly after 5pm and they arrived to find the animal firmly stuck in the canal.

In less than an hour they had the animal hauled out and released to rejoin the herd — none-the-worse for the adventure.

Out of order pump-outs on the K&A

The Pump-outs at Great Bedwyn and Pewsey are still out of action because of problems with the card-readers.  BW have ordered new parts which they hope will arrive this week. They will be fitted as soon as possible.  Watch this space....

Use Gibson's Boat Services at Honeystreet.  

George and Shelagh are still operating their Summer opening hours:  9am - 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10am - 6pm on Sundays ...until the end of September.

As soon as they announce their winter openings we will put them on line — along with a full list of their services. Telephone them on:  01380  851232                                                                                                                                   

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Fly-tipping is a huge cost to BW

K&A fly-tippers are a huge financial drain on British Waterways'  funds

People from towns and villages near the K&A Canal are using the BW canalside boaters' rubbish compounds as convenient dumping grounds for everything from everyday household rubbish to unwanted electrical appliances, batteries and even waste engine oil - sometimes causing the compounds to overflow leaving the area around them an unsightly and potententially health threatening mess.

Great Bedwyn Wharf                                                                 Picture by Bob Naylor
The problem is particularly bad at Bathampton,
All Cannings and Great Bedwyn.

At Great Bedwyn so much rubbish was strewn around the compound recently that a large skip had to be brought in by Biffa on the instruction of BW to deal with the overflow.

But... because of the operating practices of Biffa the skip remained unfilled — and the rubbish was not put in the skip and removed until BW brought in Wiltshire Waste to clear up the site.

BW's Kennet & Avon Contracts Manager, Richard Harrison, said, "Unfortunately, when we have to bring in other contractors to clear up these problems the cost is not met by Biffa. We have to pay for this extra work out of the K&A Canal's annual budget — money that could be better spent on other essential works."

The sign on the Great Bedwyn waste  compound
In an attempt to reduce the problem at Great Bedwyn new gates have now been put on the compound.

These gates are locked with a BW boater's key —  and there are now signs that give directions to local household recycling centres, along with the their opening times... AND threats to prosecute fly-tippers.

Rubbish collection on BW waters is contracted out nationally to Biffa and this has been the cause for complaint on the K&A Canal for some years.

In October 2008, before the latest  BW re-organisation, Nick Worthington, then BW SW Region Operations Manager, told a Canal Users' Forum at Woolhampton that the contract for the K&A Canal was to be taken from Biffa — but then later boaters were told that the K&A Canal would have to continue with the rubbish service that is provided by Biffa.

There were complaints about rubbish not being collected at Dundas, near Bath, as well as damage to the roof of a historic  toll office building by Biffa's trucks. Biffa have now sub-contracted the work at Dundas to Wiltshire Waste — since when there have been no complaints.

No rubbish disposal at Hungerford

Hungerford loses waste disposal

At Hungerford the rubbish collection service has now been removed from near the Sanitary Station because of access problems for the Biffa 'one man' waste carts.

Boaters are now informed that the nearest place east of Great Bedwyn that they can they can get rid of their rubbish is 5km beyond Hungerford —  at Kintbury.

To report fly-tipping and any other problems with the waste disposal sites contact BW in Devizes: 

01380 722859 or by email to: enquiries.kennetavon@britishwaterways.co.uk

Friday, September 03, 2010

BW Corporate typeface

British Waterways' corporate typeface comes from the library of the Berthold Type Foundry. It is: 'Akzidenz Grotesk' (...read it out loud) — an interesting choice for an organisation that puts safety at the top of its priorities. A graphic designer's little joke perhaps?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Duchess of Cornwall to mark the start of Melksham Link and the 200th Anniversary of the Wilts & Berks Canal

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will travel aboard a narrowboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal on Wednesday 8th September 2010 when she cruises from from Hilperton to Semington for a ceremony to mark the start of the work on the proposed link from the K&A Canal at Semington to the River Avon in Melksham as well as the 200th Anniversary of the opening of the Wilts & Berks Canal.