ENews 2016-01

21st January 2016
 
Hello and welcome to ENews 2016-01.
 
There's no news to report yet on the progress or outcome of the communications strategy review referred to in ENews 2015-07 dated 21st October. Meanwhile I must say a huge 'thank you' to all those who were kind enough to forward their comments and observations to me. Every single one was collated and forwarded to Trust Council to, hopefully, help them in their deliberations.
 
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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE
 
Following a recent suggestion I would very much like to know whether there is a demand out there in ENews Land for a version in a larger and perhaps more readable print.
 
All editions are sent in Plain Text format because sending such a large number (over 4,500 at the moment) in HTML can, I am reliably informed, cause all sorts of technical problems from a Spam perspective for both the issuer (me) and for the host website.
 
Would you benefit from such a move? If so, how? I cannot guarantee any successful outcome…….but at least I can make some enquiries of those that know all about such things.
 
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CHRISTMAS BONUS
 
The Trust's 300 Club Winter 2015 draw was to have been made by Santa Claus himself during his visit to Saul Junction for the annual Santa Cruises. But Santa was so busy looking after all the families during his three weekends in residence that dear old Rudolph stepped into the breach.
 
The prize fund this time was £1026.00 with the first prize of £615.00 going to Mr R Tarling of London. The second prize of £307.00 was won by Mr & Mrs J B Sully of Ilminster and Mr D H Stockwell of Gloucester was the recipient of the £104 third prize.
 
For those of you who may be unaware the Three Hundred Club is the Trust’s lottery with draws held every January, April, July and October. It is only open to members of the Cotswold Canals Trust who can join the scheme at any time during the year. The annual subscription is £15 per stake and a member may hold up to four stakes.
 
There's further information and an application form on the Trust's website
that can be found at www.goo.gl/9l3wFA  
 
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CHUGGING AND TUGGING
 
Tugmeister Tony Jones reports:
 
With increasing maintenance and dredging operations in prospect to keep Phase 1A in navigable condition and potential future construction work on Phase 1B, we will be needing more volunteers trained up to crew our increasing fleet of working craft. This is to ensure we will have sufficient trained personnel available to operate the vessels on a possibly more regular basis than at present.
 
Over the last couple of years we have built up a group of specially-trained volunteers who have qualified for the Waterway Recovery Group's 021c Tug Driver Authorisation ticket.
 
The Tugging Team is out and about mainly on Mondays and Wednesdays, and some weekends depending on whatever work is going forward. No previous experience is necessary. For more information please contact me, telephone
01453 762915 or 07963 201058
 
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NEW YEAR 1A UPDATE
 
Les Morris, one of the kingpins of the Ham Mill Lock restoration, reports that work to restore the lock is nearing completion.
The towpath alongside the lock has been resurfaced and the slope down under the bridge has been reprofiled to make it less steep and to incorporate a slope and steps to improve access for walkers, cyclists, pushchairs and wheelchairs. The towpath under the bridge has been lowered to its original height to improve headroom. Fences have been renewed on both sides of the lock and the lock sides prepared for grass seed as soon as weather permits.
The aquadam has been removed and the level in the pound above the lock is being maintained by the newly-installed stop-planks. When work to stabilise the bank below the lock is complete, the wing wall will be rebuilt, and the area where the welfare cabin is presently situated will be landscaped to complete the project.
Work to remove silt from the pound between Ham Mill Lock and Griffins Mill Lock will start shortly. Access for the new long-reach excavator has been improved by the work done to remove trees on the towpath side by WRG forestry teams and our own Western Depot Logging Team.
 
Meanwhile, SDC's Dave Marshall advises progress at other key sites within 1A as follows:
 
Lodgemore Bridge: The new bridge is now in place, but is not yet operational. This is because adjustments have to be made and the approaches tarmaced and made good.
 
Wallbridge Lower Lock: Off side coping stones have been removed from the ground paddle area and repair work begun. We are about to place an order for the acquisition of props to support the failed offside wall at the bottom end of the lock. This will permit the failure to be safely examined and hopefully a solution to be developed. A local contractor has been found who is willing to work with us on this, at least in the early stages – including installation of the props.
 
Cheapside: We are hopeful of placing a contract this month for dredging of the channel between Wallbridge Upper Lock and Capel’s Mill. This remains dependent on the contractor confirming price and the in-principle agreement with the landowner (for access) being finalised. Volunteers have already removed most of the vegetation which would hinder access. Final tree removal should be undertaken by Waterway Recovery Group volunteers later this month. The contract, which needs to include stabilisation of the slipped sections, needs to be completed by the end of March.
 
Bowbridge Bridge: The scheme to restore the Thames & Severn Canal at the foot of Butterow Hill is underway. This will involve removing the earth embankment that was used to fill the derelict canal in the 1960s in order to widen the narrow bridge and replacing it with a new concrete box culvert. While the works are undertaken, access to local businesses and residences will be maintained. Butterow Hill will also remain open, with traffic controlled by signals. Completion of the scheme will be in June.
Preliminary works commenced on site 2nd December with the installation of traffic management, site welfare facilities, fencing of the works area and the setting up of the temporary towpath diversion. The existing topsoil a
nd subsoil from the verges has been excavated along with existing road surfacing, and removed from site. Operations this month will include:
– setting up of traffic signals
– diversion and protection of existing services
– creating a dam within the canal either side of the works area
– continued excavation of the existing embankment down to canal bed level
 
Bowbridge Lock: As planned the towpath opened in time for Christmas.
Rebuilding of the sloping wall on the towpath side from the bottom gate to the bridge should be completed this month – weather permitting – with the help of a visiting Waterway Recovery Group working party. Meanwhile, scaffolding against the failed wall on the offside between the bottom gate and the bridge will be installed once the lock is pumped out for Bowbridge Bridge reconstruction; this will hopefully take place this month. All 3 lock quadrants are complete. Half of the lockside has been seeded with grass on the towpath side, with the remaining area being kept as a working area.
 
Phase 1B: The decision on the Cotswold Canals Trust’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £15m towards the £20m cost of restoring the Stroudwater Navigation between Stonehouse Ocean and Saul Junction will be made on 19th April. An HLF visit can be expected next month.
 
My thanks as ever to Dave for this.
 
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ITCH TO TWITCH
 
The popular series of Wildlife Walks run by Martin Wright are back for 2016. All the dates below are Wednesdays and the walks begin at 10:00 from the start points below.
 
Free for CCT members but for non-members a fee of £3 is payable. The walks are not considered suitable for dogs.
 
The start points are as follows:
February 3rd – Ship Inn, Brimscombe. 
February 17th – St Cyrs Church, Stonehouse.   
March 2nd – Saul Junction. 
March 16th – Wallbridge Lock, Stroud. 
March 30th – Red Lion Inn, Chalford. 
April 13th – Ship Inn, Brimscombe. 
April 27th – St Cyrs Church, Stonehouse.
 
See http://goo.gl/DFmzNZ for more information.
 
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WHAT'S GOING ON?
 
The best place to find out what's up and coming is the front page of Connect, the Volunteers' website.
 
You can follow this link to go there: http://goo.gl/ukNdSa
 
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PLEASE NOTE. We keep your email address on an electronic database for the sole purpose of contacting you in this way. We will never pass it on to any third party.
 
David Pagett
Editor, ENews