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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Canal saves cash with ash

British Waterways' electricity bill on the Kennet & Avon Canal has been reduced thanks to a donation of coal ash which is being used to seal up leaks on the lock gates and reduce the need to back-pump water on the Caen Hill Flight in Devizes .

Pictures by Henrietta Ross, BW

Lock keepers are using coal ash donated by the Avon Valley Railway in Bitton, near Bristol, on the Caen Hill Flight to maintain water levels during maintenance work which has already saved British Waterways thousands of pounds.

The traditional method of 'ashing-up' gates’ was used every night in the canal’s industrial hey-day when water on the flight was constantly in short supply. 

The technique involves pouring the ash into the canal just above a lock. The flow of water then sucks the ash into the small gaps in the gates allowing them to form a totally watertight seal. 

The method has been revived by lock keepers to help achieve and maintain the exact water levels needed while repairs were being carried out and they are now 'ashing-up' to help to maintain and preserve water during the summer months when water is in shorter supply.

The Avon Valley Railway has donated about eight tonnes of the ash produced by their steam engines to to BW, some of which will be held in reserve for future use. 

"Working with the Avon Valley Railway has made all the difference to our works on the Kennet and Avon Canal," said Lock keeper, Trevor Skoyles. "It is great to see traditional techniques, which celebrate the heritage and history of our waterways, brought back to life with the support of local organisations and enthusiasts.”

David Cole from Avon Valley Railway said: “It is great to be able to make use of the coal ash from our locomotives — so when British Waterways approached us we were delighted that it could be put to use on the canals."

Burned rugby shirt clue in hunt for Bath sex attacker

Police searching for the sex attacker who assaulted two girls aged 14 and 11 near the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath on Tuesday have found the burned remains of a rugby shirt near the scene.

The shirt, which matches the description given by a witness of that worn by the attacker, was found on a path at Kensington Meadows behind Morrison's supermarket near the River Avon on Thursday July 14. The charred fabric is now being examined by forensic experts.

Detectives are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the shirt being burnt, or who knows someone who owned a very distinctive blue, pink and grey-hooped rugby-style polo shirt with long sleeves.

The assault happened at around 4pm on Tuesday July 12, on a track between Ringswell Gardens and the Kennet and Avon canal.

The girls were walking home from school when they became aware of a man behind them. He overtook them, slowed down as he reached Grosvenor Bridge and then turned round.

He grabbed the elder girl and subjected her to what police say was a low-level but nevertheless frightening sexual assault. 

The younger girl tried to pull him away, but he pushed her over. 

The girls' screams were heard by two fishermen nearby who ran to help. The attacker walked and ran off the way he had come, towards the canal.

The girls were severely shaken and upset, but not physically injured.

The offender is described as white, 25-30 years old and around 5ft 10in tall. He has very short blond or fair hair and was wearing that blue, pink and grey-hooped rugby-style polo shirt with long sleeves, blue jeans and trainers.

Det Insp Charlotte Tucker of Bath CID said: "We are still appealing for people to come forward and help us with information about this serious but thankfully isolated incident."

Anyone with information should call Bath CID on 0845 456 7000. 

Or call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by email:  www.crimestoppers-uk.org. They never ask for your name or trace your call.

K&A Canal Bradford on Avon work party

The canalside at Bradford on Avon on the K&A canal continues to get regular attention from the local work party who meet again on Thursday 21 July 2011 with British Waterways heritage advisors joining them to inspect the canal boundary walls.

The working party is currently working on: 
  • adjusting the height of the hedge at the back of the cafe garden 
  • removing vegetation from Victory Field wall 
  • removing vegetation from Tithe Barn wall

Meet at Bradford on Avon Wharf for 10am start — organisers will be there from 8.45am. 

Derrick Hunt describes the work as 'mostly light gardening' — but he recommends you come with stout boots. Tools will be provided.

For more information phone him on 01225 863066

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Obituary: Dorothy Lindley-Jones

Dorothy Linley-Jones who with her husband, Peter were very active in the campaign to save and then to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal died on Sunday 10 July 2011.
Dorothy’s Lindley-Jones in 2008 with her daughters Susan Barker, left and Jane Barr at the ceremony  to name a lock on the Caen Hill Flight in Devizes in memory of her husband, Peter. Picture by Bob Naylor© 

Like so many wives involved as Kennet & Avon Canal Trust volunteers, Dorothy was hugely supportive of her late husband Peter in his role as Trust fund raiser, author and campaigner. Using her skills as a short hand secretary, she took care of the administration of countless projects which Peter masterminded, notably the two Newbury Boat Fairs in the 1960's, the 'Adoption Scheme' with Terry Kemp  and the 'Buy a Bench Scheme' in the 1970's and early 1980's, and Peter's co-authorship of the K&AC Trust History book in the 1990's. 

They were jointly awarded the John Gould  Award by British Waterways for services to the restoration of the Kennet & Avon. 
Following their move from Newbury to Hungerford, Dorothy was appointed secretary of the Trust's Hungerford branch and Peter became involved in the revamp of Crofton's cafe and shop.This involved him in designing and building the shelving and decorative panelling and Dorothy played a major part in stocking and staffing the new shop.
Their long term commitment to the canal and its restoration culminated in the purchase and fitting out of "Bumble Bee", a 30ft Springer narrow boat in which Dorothy supplied the creature comforts.
Aside from her canal activities, Dorothy was an accomplished organist, an active member of Devizes Conservative Ladies and the local Woman's Institute, and latterly together with Peter, joined the volunteer team staffing the National Trust's shop at Lacock.

Summing up Dorothy's contribution to the Trust, close friend Peter Jordan said " Dorothy was always there helping at the Trust's local events where and whenever she could. She was a real stalwart for which the Trust is truly grateful."
David Harris
Her funeral is at St Mary's Church, Great Bedwyn at 11.30 on Tuesday  19 July 2011 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Schoolgirl sexually assualted near K&A Canal in Bath

Bath police are appealing for witnesses and information after two girls aged 14 and 11 were assaulted by a man near the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath yesterday (Tuesday 12 JUly).

Two girls were walking home from school on a track between Ringswell Gardens and the Kennet and Avon canal at about 4pm when they became aware of a man behind them. 

He overtook them, slowed down as he reached Grosvenor Bridge and then turned round.

He grabbed the elder girl by the throat, pushed her into the bushes and sexually assaulted her. The younger girl tried to pull him away, but he pushed her over.
The girls' screams were heard by two fishermen nearby who ran to help and the attacker first walked and then ran off the way he had come, back towards the canal.

The girls were severely shaken and upset, but not physically injured.

The man the police are looking for is described as: white, 25-30 years old and around 5ft 10in tall. He has very short blond or fair hair and was wearing blue, pink and grey-hooped rugby-style polo shirt with long sleeves, blue jeans and trainers.

Det Insp Charlotte Tucker of Bath CID said: "This was a serious assault on two young girls in the middle of the afternoon on a well-used path. We are extremely keen to find the man responsible as soon as possible."

Today, police are carrying out forensic tests, and uniformed and neighbourhood community police are at the scene speaking to possible witnesses.
Anyone with information, or who recognises the description, is asked to call Bath CID on 0845 456 7000. Or call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New waterway charity seeks 'draconian' enforcement powers says boat dweller's group

Up to 10,000 boat dwellers could be made homeless when British Waterways transfers to charity status according to a boat dwellers campaign group who are calling for MPs to reject an amendment to the Public Bodies Bill that would increase BW's law making powers.

The National Bargee Travellers Association claim that Amendment 99A to the Public Bodies Bill, which comes up for its second reading on 12 July 2011, would give 'draconian' enforcement powers to the new charity — and such powers should only be held by an accountable public body.

Greater powers to make law — little public scrutiny 

In a briefing document to MPs the NBTA say that BW currently has the power to promote private acts of parliament and byelaws — but Amendment 99A will give BW the power to make Statutory Instruments. This would give them the power to make 'subordinate legislation' with greater powers to make law than now with very little parliamentary or public scrutiny.

The NBTA say that since 1990 BW has tried to get powers to criminalise people living on boats without a permanent mooring despite the 1995 British Waterways Act that requires no long-term mooring. At a British Waterways board meeting in January this year the directors agreed to seek greater enforcement powers on the back of the Public Bodies Bill.

The NBTA cite the the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee report of the 7 March 2011 which expressed concern about the BW amendment saying: “Especially in the absence of a convincing explanation, it is not appropriate for an existing power, to make subordinate legislation, to be transferable to another unidentified body.”

BW 'out of control' 
"British Waterways appears to be already out of control," says the NBTA, "and is acting in excess of its existing powers by carrying out summary evictions that violate the Human Rights of boat dwellers. These new powers will make BW unstoppable in its effort to oust residential boaters — so lobby your MP to vote NO to Amendment 99A."

Previous stories on this topic:
BW must review Continuous Cruising Guidelines following K&A court case
Court finds in favour of BW in K&A Continuous Cruising case

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Bristol Old Vic outdoor Treasure Island — BBC film

BBC tv report of outdoor show: Treasure Island

MEP supports K&A Canal Trust stance on BW Charity plan

The British Waterways ‘top down’ approach to any problem is its biggest failing says South West of England MEP Ashley Fox. 

"You can’t have people in London micro-managing maintenance in Trowbridge", he said following a meeting with the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust in Devizes: "We need to ensure that the new charity gives greater power to local people."

He expressed concern that the ‘New British Waterways Charity’ will continue the tradition of centralised control currently practised by British Waterways, bypassing an opportunity for greater community involvement in the management of Britain’s waterways which are a key part of our industrial heritage.

He paid tribute to the work done in the past by the Trust and commented: "The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust is a first rate example of what can happen when local organisations are given control. They have done wonders in linking National Lottery funding with volunteer, council and business groups and have, over the last decade, restored the canal to the wonder that it is today.

"Our waterways are part of our history and still used today by millions of people across the South West in a whole variety of ways, from fishing and boating, to walking and cycling. It is only right that those who use our canals should decide on their future.

Fox now plans to write to the Minister and urge that the excellent work by the Trust and its partners which has achieved so much be used as the model for improving our inland waterways into the future.

Centralised autocracy of BW must be replaced says Trust
The K&A Canal Trust has expressed serious concerns about the  short timescale for the intended implementation which it says: "Has not allowed the many important lessons learned from the pioneering work on the Kennet and Avon to be adequately reflected in the current proposals."

The Trust has endorsed the concept of giving waterway users and the communities that live alongside them greater involvement in how they are managed. "Unfortunately" they say, "the highly centralised management structures, largely reflecting the current worst features of BW, put forward in the consultation document are the opposite of these worthy principles.

"A new NWC requires a totally new organisational structure. It also needs a totally new management culture which replaces the centralised autocracy of BW by cooperation with partner organisations and respect for their views. The current negative perception of BW among many waterway users is not a good foundation for a new NWC."

Trusts taken for granted
The Trust response is critical of BW staff who are saying: "When we take over" in their dealings with local canal societies increasing concerns that the cooperation or extinction of current societies is being taken for granted. 

BW donations prediction 'optimistic'

The K&A Canal Trust, which has suffered disasterous fund raising efforts in the recent past, sent an email to its members earlier this year describing 2010 as a 'financial nightmare' for the Trust and described its funding raising as "an absolute washout". In its submission it says that the predicted level of donations to the NWC appears optimistic and:"Whereas the proposed level of the Government Funding Contract is significantly lower than that provided to BW in recent years lack of any reference within the Consultation Document to the future of the waterways should the finances fail to meet DEFRA expectations is of serious concern. There is no Plan B."

National Trust comparison — misleading
The K&A Canal Trust believes that the implied comparison with the National Trust can be misleading because the National Trust embraces properties with a viable financial legacy for on-going operation. In contrast, the NWC will inherit the legacy of an underfunded BW with a backlog of deferred maintenance. 

The Trust says
  • The NWC must, in its Charitable Purposes, mention responsibility for protecting the heritage of the Waterways.
  • The NWC must remain bound to provide public access to information, otherwise it will become a law unto itself. Keeping some aspect of the organisation publicly accountable matches its on-going stewardship of this strategic, public resource.
Lack of accountability
"The fundamental question of accountability of the new organisation deserves careful examination", says the report, "before this great national asset passes into the hands of a less accountable board of charitable trustees. The new organisation must be both transparent and open."

The Trust's complete 3,000 word response to the Defra consultation can be found on their Website at: New Era for the Waterways

Friday, July 08, 2011

Caen Hill Flight K&A Canal closed for emergency repairs today

K&A Canal stoppage
There is a one day stoppage on Caen Hill on today (Friday 8th July) for repairs to damaged Quoins and masonry on 
Lock 29.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Delays on the K&A at Crofton tomorrow

Emergency repairs to Lock 59 on the Crofton Flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal will cause delays of up to two hours tomorrow (Friday 8 July 2011) and the water level in the pound between Locks 59 and 60 will be lowered by about 2½ inches while the work is done.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Treasure Island play takes to the streets of Bristol

Bristol is said to have given Robert Louis Stevenson the inspiration for Treasure Island and this this summer Bristol Old Vic is taking to the cobbles of King Street to present the classic pirate adventure in a specially designed open air theatre in the form of a 50ft (15 metre) ship surrounded by tiered seats.

The show is suitable for 6-years-olds and upwards and you can go along in fancy dress if you wish. The performances will go ahead come rain or shine — so take appropriate clothing — but no umbrellas are allowed although rain macs and sun hats are permitted.

£10 Mutineer Mondays
On 11, 18 and 25 July there will be Mutineer Monday performances where every ticket is £10 which will be sold on a first-come first-served basis.

For more information go to the Bristol Old Vic website: Treasure Island - Old Vic

Jazz Festival beside the Nantes a Brest Canal in Brittany

The beautiful town of Chateauneuf-du-Faou beside the Wilts & Berks Canal's twinned French waterway, the Nantes a Brest Canal, in central Brittany has its seventh annual riverside jazz festival at the end of the month.

On the bill this year are British Blues and boogie pianist, Ben WatersLes Doigts de l’Homme who bring new life to the music of Django Reinhardt and his Hot Club de France,combining homage to the master of gypsy jazz with a show which is pure entertainment.
New Meeting Quartet a group from Nice represent the popular face of modern and innovative jazz, combining their own compositions with Brazilian rhythms, in a repertoire which also features jazz classics by the likes of Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Michel Petrucciani, Richard Galliano and the Brazilian Hermeto Pascoal. 

Festival website:  Jazz Festival

More than 80 musicians will be taking part:

Tourist office email: officedutourisme.chateauneufdufaou@wanadoo.fr

28, 29 and 30th July 2011

How to get there

Brittany Ferries have teamed up with the event organisers to offer a special weekend ferry offer that includes reduced entry to the festival on production of your Brittany Ferries travel ticket.
More information: Brittany Ferries website

A coach is being organised to go to the festival from Liverpool via Plymouth — if you are interested in travelling on it contactDennis Harrison: 
harrison_d18@sky.com for more information.

Love your river? — go swim in it

The beauty and diversity of UK waterways will be celebrated on Sunday (July 10, 2011) when swimmers at Stowford near Trowbridge will join thousands of swimmers across Europe who will be leaping into rivers at 4pm in the Outdoor Swimming Society Big Jump campaign to encourage swimmers to love their rivers, go swimming in them and to raise awareness of clean water issues.
Picture by Sarah Tunnicliffe©

Join the Farleigh & District Swimming Club  when they meet at 1pm on Sunday for a picnic followed by a jump into the river at 4pm — led by Kate Rew, founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society and author of  'Wild Smimming'. 
The bad weather plan is for people to gather at 3pm. All are welcome at this free event.
Farleigh & District Swimming Club, Stowford Manor Farm, Wingfield, Trowbridge Wiltshire BA14 9LH
More information: Outdoor Swimming Society

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Mikron Theatre lottery boost

Mikron Theatre will get £4,000 towards the writing of a new show about the Luddites for 2012 thanks the the success of the The Lawrence Batley Theatre's  bid of  £55,197 to the Jubilee People's  Millions for its Cloth, Culture and Communities project.  
The Project which will involve dozens of artists and communities from the Huddersfield, Dewsbury and the surrounding villages is a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings in West Yorkshire  when skilled workers smashed factory machines in resistance to the Industrial Revolution.

Learn more about the project at: Luddite-Bicentenary

This short film by ITV Yorkshire about the bid by the Lawrence Batley Theatre features music from Mikron Theatre.

Mikron Theatre return to K&A tomorrow

Mikron Theatre, who staged their show, Beer Street, at the the Rowbarge Inn at Woohampton on the Kennet & Avon Canal on Friday are back again tomorrow (Monday 4 July 2011) to perform their latest play, Hell and High Water.

Mikron Theatre's play Hell and High Water goes back to 1700s when in the turbulent times of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester's demand for coal was insatiable.
     There was an urgent need to get it there quickly and cheaply and three men had a vision and hundreds of others toiled to make it a reality.
      Over rivers, under rock, through "Hell and High Water", they proved that determination can literally move mountains and in 1761 the first boatload of coal was carried smoothly along the Barton Aqueduct over the River Irwell on the Bridgewater Canal — it was an engineering marvel that was the wonder of its age.
     The Guardian said of the Mikron Theatre Company: "The skill, ingenuity and vitality of the troupe is out of all proportion to the modesty of the settings in which they appear and their combined ability to create effective entertainment and instruction from minimal resources and basic techniques" 

Mikron website: http://www.mikron.org.uk
Monday 4 July 2011
The Rowbarge, Woolhampton: Hell and High Water
Collection after show
8:00pm: Rowbarge, Station Road, Woolhampton, Reading, RG7 5SH. Tel: 0118 9712213

K&A Navigation update: Sunday 3 July 2011

Water Levels
There are low water levels below Ham Lock (87) — navigate with care.

Because of extremely low water levels on the summit level between Cadley Lock (54) and Crofton Top Lock (55) these locks will be opened at 10am and closed at 3pm. Share locks whenever possible

On The Long Pound Kennet Lock Devizes (50) to Wootton Rivers Lock (51) the water level is very low and boaters at Pewsey and Honeystreet are reporting that they are unable to get their boats off their moorings because they are stuck firmly on the bottom — however the 14 mile pound is still navigable — but slowly.

Stoppage notice
There will be a one day stoppage on Caen Hill on Friday 8th July for repairs to damaged Quoins and masonry on 
Lock 29 

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Aldermaston Blues festival today

The sixth Aldermaston Blues festival, an outdoor music event with great local and national blues bands, kicks off today at 12.30pm today (Saturday 2 July 2011)with local bad, Bad Penny.

This years line-up includes:
Robin Bibi Band
Make a return to Blues on the Meadow — brilliant guitarist

Earl Green
Earl and his band, The Right Time, make a return appearance to BotM. Earl is an award winning singer and songwriter and a leading UK blues vocalist

Nicky Moore's Blues Corporation
This will be Nicky's and Blues Corporation's 4th appearance at Blues on the Meadow— back by popular demand

More information and tickets:
Tel: 07788 428076 or 07798802591

How to get there: 
You’ll find ‘Blues on the Meadow’ clearly sign posted between the A4 and A340 at Aldermaston, West Berkshire. 
SatNav:  51.39358, -1.14979