2017 Lichfield Branch News

National Trailboat Festival at Moira - Saturday & Sunday 27-28th May 2017

National Trailboat Festival at Moira - Ashby Canal and Moira FurnaceNational Trailboat Festival at Moira - boats and canoesNational Trailboat Festival at Moira - IWA standThe IWA National Trailboat Festival was held this year in combination with the annual Moira Canal Festival on the restored but isolated section of the Ashby Canal at Moira.  This is the 17th Canal Festival held here in the grounds of the historic Moira Furnace and this well organised and popular local event was boosted by a large attendance of trailboats from all round the country.

As well as processions of boats along the canal there were canoes and paddleboards, with training sessions for children, boat trips on the 'Joseph Wilkes', and a duck race to enliven this usually tranquil section of canal.

Land based transport included a steam roller and miniature steam railway, historic stationary engines and classic cars, whilst in the air there were model aircraft and a 'Battle of Britain' flypast of a Hurricane and Spitfire.

Other warlike activities were the explosive cannon shots from the Coldstream Guards 1815 re-enactors, whilst more melodic sounds came from the various bands performing around the site.

Lots of children's entertainment and a wide variety of stands and stalls vied for attention at this family friendly event which was blessed with pretty good weather this year, especially on the Sunday.

Lichfield Branch members manned the IWA stand with a good selection of sales items, display boards and recruitment material, and fielded a steady succesion of questions from people wanting to learn more about the canals in general, the Ashby Canal restoration in particular, or opportunities for getting afloat.  On the Sunday we also hosted the Festival awards ceremony to round off a very successful and enjoyable weekend.

(Report and photos by Phil Sharpe)

We need a new Treasurer - Can you help?

Our long serving Treasurer, Barbara Hodgson retired at the AGM in March and Lichfield Branch needs someone to help us with this vital role.

The job is not onerous, and every assistance will be given by Barbara in handing over the accounts with the software to maintain them and advice on how it all works.

IWA is a charity and depends on volunteers to help us protect and promote the waterways.  We are a friendly bunch who enjoy what we do in arranging activities for our members and raising funds to support waterway restorations.

But for our Branch to continue functioning effectively we need somebody to bank cash donations collected at our public meetings, walks and occasional other events, to write cheques for room hire, speakers’ expenses and our donations to waterway causes, and to provide a monthly summary for the committee, a quarterly return for Head Office and an annual report for the AGM.

Barbara estimates that on average this takes about 2 hours a week, and most of it can be done at times to suit the Treasurer.

As a committee officer post, it will help if you can attend our monthly committee meetings, which are currently held on a Thursday afternoon in Rugeley, but can revert to evenings if more convenient and/or another venue within the Branch.

So if you have some experience of doing the accounts for small organisations or are willing to learn and have some time available to help IWA, we would very much welcome your call or email.

For further information contact our Chairman Denise Bending on 01283 761971 or denise.bending@waterways.org.uk or our ex-Treasurer Barbara Hodgson on 01785 716806 or barbara.hodgson@waterways.org.uk

We do hope you can help us to keep IWA’s Lichfield Branch as one of the best branches in the country.

Other opportunities

If finance isn’t your forte but you are able to help in other ways, we are also looking for someone to take on the role of Secretary, and would like to strengthen our committee generally with more members able to help out with individual events.  See under Lichfield Branch in the Volunteering Directory.

HS2 High Speed Rail Update - April 2017

IWA continues its campaign to get full navigation provision and better noise protection for all the affected waterways and their users, working closely with CRT and the local canal societies and trusts.

Phase 1 London to Birmingham and Handsacre

The House of Lords Select Committee report was published on 15 December, but disappointingly made no reference to IWA’s evidence on noise mitigation and Wood End Lane.  The committee stage and the final votes in both houses were largely formalities and no significant changes were made before Royal Assent to the Bill was granted on 23 February.  Various surveys, ground investigations and enabling works are now due to start in the Spring although there is no firm date yet for the construction works.

Community Drop-In Event

Anyone wanting to learn more about preliminary works in the Armitage and Handsacre area, and construction of the Handsacre Link, can attend an HS2 Community Drop-In Event at Armitage Village Hall on Thursday 13th April between 3 pm and 7 pm.  A Phase 2a representative will also be present to answer questions about the continuation of the route north of Fradley Junction.  Similar events for other affected areas are expected to be arranged shortly.

Phase 2b Kingsbury to Leeds and Crewe to Manchester

The Phase 2b Design Refinement consultation was announced in November and a summary of how the route changes affected various waterways was given in our last report in November (see 2016 News).

In Lichfield Branch area these are the Coventry and Ashby canals.

The Coventry Canal crossing at Polesworth is unchanged and will be on a 10m high viaduct across the moorings in the old colliery basin, with the line cutting through the middle of Pooley Country Park.

The Ashby Canal crossing at Measham has been moved from near the A42 to the other side of the town.  This will enable a stalled housing site to go ahead which includes reconstruction of the canal arm into Measham Wharf.  However, the new crossing of the restoration route is at entirely the wrong level for the canal.

The canal restoration route authorised by the 2005 Transport & Works Act Order partly follows the old railway line and is crossed by the new HS2 route just north of the brickworks, where the track level is about 2.7m below water level.  To change the canal level here to accommodate the railway would need it to be raised or lowered by nearly 7 metres to provide the necessary clearances, which is equivalent to 2 or 3 conventional locks.  But locking up and down again to a very short summit on an aqueduct, or alternatively locking down and up again to tunnel under the railway, would clearly both be totally impractical.  Not only would this be expensive to build, maintain and operate, with large pumps required to supply water to the summit or drain the sump, but after the initial novelty value had worn off it would be seen as a major navigational barrier to boaters and discourage them continuing into Measham, which is the main purpose of the restoration.

The alternative of lowering HS2 by about 7m would conflict with the Atherstone Road crossing and possibly the River Mease SAC.  The better option for the canal would be to raise HS2 by the 7m, which would reinstate the vertical alignment of the route considered in 2012 but presumably rejected because of its impacts on nearby housing, more of which has since been built, so this would not be acceptable locally.

A possible compromise is to divert the canal route into higher ground to the northeast to pass under HS2 where its level is higher and it would not have to be raised as much.  But to gain the full height necessary to maintain the canal level would require the diversion to go beyond the Bosworth Road, which would need additional bridges as well as the deep cuttings, and the proximity of HS2 to Measham Cemetery means the railway would also need to be moved laterally.

Another alternative would be to move the HS2 route further eastwards, south of the brickworks and further away from the Measham properties, where its level could be more easily changed to bridge the canal route, although there are wider implications of such a horizontal realignment.

The present proposal fails to allow for the continuing Ashby Canal restoration and is therefore completely unacceptable.  Whatever solution is eventually agreed, IWA will insist that any extra cost to the canal restoration project must be covered by HS2 Ltd., as is being done for the Lichfield Canal at Cappers Lane.  IWA will continue working with the Ashby Canal Trust and Association, CRT and Leicestershire County Council to help resolve this.

IWA’s full national response was submitted in March and the text can be seen here.