AGM Notes 2018

The 2018 Branch AGM was held on Friday 16th March at the Rushcliffe Arena. Here are notes on the main reports presented. As usual, the Accounts were also presented and approved.

1) Chairman ( Mike Snaith )

Thank you all for attending today’s Annual General Meeting.

We started the year off in January 2017 with Treasurer Brian White and I presenting a £500 donation to the Canalside Heritage Centre alongside Beeston Lock on the Nottingham Canal. This project has brought back to life the derelict cottages beside the Lock and involved creating a Heritage Museum and Exhibition Gallery, along with a resource centre for schools and community groups, coupled with a community café and allotments for schools to grow their own produce. The Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting the project and has awarded £800k, however this does not include any mooring facilities for passing boat traffic. The IWA donation would be used to get detailed plans drawn up and a Structural Engineer on board to build a landing stage and mooring for narrowboats in the derelict river Lock, alongside the canal. This in particular will allow the Nottingham City community narrowboats (and others) to moor alongside the centre and provide disabled access from boats to the new facilities on land. It’s a worthy cause all round and hopefully the IWA donation will boost the number of visitors to the centre once complete, helping to generate revenue for continuing operation.

One of the joys of my role as Chairman is being able to officially recognise the contributions to safeguarding or restoring our local waterways made by often unseen individuals. It was therefore my great pleasure to present the Champion Webster Cup at the AGM in February to not one individual but this year to an outstanding team of individuals, Dave Kiddy and the Chesterfield Canal Work Party Team.

The Work Party were onsite working several times a week. You may recall over the previous three years, they had put in over 35,000 hours along with WRG colleagues to build the new Staveley Town Lock and prepared the 300 yards beyond the lock to Hartington Wharf which was used for the IWA National Trailboat Festival in May 2016. I am not so sure that the attendees at the Trailboat Festival really understood the huge achievement of Dave Kiddy and colleagues when they were at the event, hopefully this award shined some light. So, what a pleasure it was to award the Champion Webster Cup 2017 to Dave Kiddy and the Chesterfield Canal Trust Work Party Team.

Moving forward to Saturday 5th August, 6 volunteers made their way to Derwent Mouth Lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal in Shardlow for our now annual Lock Wind, armed with windlasses and cakes. We operated the lock and provided cakes for most of the day. There were 34 boats through this year and we were pleased to see a further two volunteers join us for the afternoon efforts. This year we were raising funds to support the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association’s project to purchase and further renovate Sandiacre Lock cottage. A worthy cause as the cottage has been progressively renovated by the Association over decades to its current condition and it was earmarked for sale by owners CRT with a consequently uncertain future. The Association were tasked with raising £65000 within a limited time frame so every bit of assistance counted. The event raised £140 and a big thank you is due to all the boaters and their crews who gave so generously. A big thank you also goes to the volunteers taking part and to Mavis White (ably assisted by daughter Sandra and granddaughter Katie) for making those tasty cakes.

Later in August we attended the IWA Festival of Water at Gallows Inn Fields, Ilkeston, over the Bank holiday weekend August 26-28. It was a great few days out for all the family with lots of entertainment and things to do and see. Waterway Recovery Group’s “learn to drive a digger” sessions were particularly popular but there were over a hundred narrowboats moored canalside, many resplendent with bright colours and bunting which also proved a major draw.

Our gazebo and exhibition stand was positioned close to the main IWA marquee and we had a steady flow of people stopping by, giving us an opportunity to explain the local waterways and issues which neatly complemented the national picture. There were also good displays from local waterway restoration groups and I think the whole holiday weekend was a success in raising the profile of IWA, the underused local waterways and the great potential of the nearby restoration projects. The Branch exhibition stand was manned by a small group who put in an impressive effort over the Bank Holiday, a significant amount was raised towards our Sandicare Lock Cottage efforts and a big thank you goes to all involved, Archie, Brian (and perhaps above all Mavis, Sandra and Katie White, giving up their weekend). With all those people enjoying the festivities, plus seeing the achievements taking place the event was a worthy success.

A further main activity took place on a sunny Sunday 23rd September. About 25 volunteers turned out in Nottingham for a clean up of the Nottingham Canal from Meadow Lane Lock in towards the city centre. The day was organised by the Branch in partnership with CRT. Volunteers included IWA members, boaters, local people and an enthusiastic cohort from local company Xylem, who all wanted to get involved in cleaning up the surrounding area. Teams of volunteers with grappling irons pulled out 25 bicycles, 5 shopping trolleys, tyres, fence panels, traffic cones/signs and other assorted items. This year there seemed to be fewer shopping trolleys but many more duvets/blankets and camping chairs. As the grapplers moved along, more volunteers were active litter picking on the towing path side, whilst another team of volunteers set off on CRT’s workboat “Blaby”, to tackle offside and any waterborne litter as well as transporting the grappled scrap to CRT’s Trent Lane depot for recycling.

Overall a huge amount of scrap and rubbish was cleared and the whole canal appearance was significantly improved. A big thank you goes to all involved who made such a difference on the day.

September also saw IWA hold its Annual Members’ Meeting for the first time for a long time within our Branch boundary in Aldercar near Langley Mill. There was a refreshingly good turn out of attendees. As well as the summary of the national view of the year gone by the meeting will be remembered for the presentation of the new marketing study culminating with the launch of the Association’s new vision and long term goals for the next five years. The presentation concluded with the overall rebranding of the organisation and the launch of the new logo. A question and answer session followed where differing views expressed.

After the formal meeting was concluded members were invited to participate in either a cruise along the Cromford Canal in trip boat “Birdswood” or a tour of the historic Great Northern Basin, its buildings and the restoration work taking place on this section of the Cromford. Overall a very enlightening meeting and I wish more members could have been there to take part.

As an experiment, on October 8th I took a cut down version of the exhibition stand to the Grantham Canal Discovery Day. The weather was good and upwards of 2000 people turned out to participate in the event at Woolsthorpe by Belvoir. It really was a good event and the ever popular Duck Race really got the children and their parents enthused. I am grateful to the support I received from The Sleaford Navigation Trust helping to set up the display and helping me out during the day, with no other IWA members support theirs was critical. It was successful in fundraising but proved to my satisfaction that one person operation of the exhibition stand is not a feasible way to promote IWA and its causes.

As you can see we had a reasonably successful year fund raising in 2017, with the Lock Wind in the summer followed by the Branch stand attendance at the Ilkeston Festival of Water and Grantham Canal’s Discovery Day. In November it was therefore a great pleasure for Treasurer Brian White and I to present £500 to Norman Cornwell, Chairman of Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association, towards their appeal for funds to purchase Sandiacre Lock Cottage – the purchase being successfully completed by the end of the year. The cottage can now be used by ECP&DA and the local community for a variety of activities and will be looked after and maintained for future generations by their members.

It is worthy of note that during 2017 this Branch made donations of £1000 to local waterway causes. All of us can take pride in that and thank you for your support.

Looking back to the speakers who have presented to us over the year there has been a particularly rich and varied number of topics which I do not have time to give full justice too but I will pick out a couple of my highlights to illustrate – in May we had an excellent escorted visit around Attenborough Nature Reserve on the banks of the River Trent. Ranger Tim Sexton with his spotter scope was extremely knowledgeable about the fauna and flora of the ex gravel pits throughout the reserve. By the time Tim had informed us about the life of the respective birds, two hours went by in the wink of an eye. To crown it all as we got back to the car park the evening twilight just held to view the Daubenton’s bats setting out for their night’s ventures. What a fascinating treat to visit such a special place so local to the Trent.

The meeting on Friday 17th November was also a cracker, “The Tall Ships Trust” - an illustrated talk by Kevin Miller about those majestic 3 masted sailing ships and the volunteers that sail and maintain them had me enthralled. Excitement, teamwork, motivation, tenacity, sharing and caring, it had it all. What an inspiration to see what can be done with motivated volunteers on the briny sea.

Although the speakers will change, the overall series of activities and events were so successful that we plan repeating them during 2018 and everyone in the audience is welcome to join in. Further announcements will be made when the dates are known.

As we come to a conclusion I would also like to encourage members of the audience and anyone they know who might be interested to help out on the committee. As you may recall David and Angela Dunham retired at the AGM last year and moved away from the area. The small remaining group have struggled through the year to keep up. We are an informal, sociable and carefree bunch so you don’t need to be shy. This year is an ideal time to join the committee as IWA Head Office is organising a series of Volunteer Days at various venues to help and support Branch volunteers and attendance at such an event would be a great start for you and a tremendous fillip to move the Branch forward – have a word with me later if you know anyone who might be interested in joining the committee.

None of the above activities, nor any Social activities, could take place without people willing to organise them. I would like to thank fellow committee members Brian and Archie, for all their hard work and support, it’s been a very active year. Similarly I would like to thank Anne Madge and Stephen Parker for all the hard work they do behind the scenes organising socials and looking into potential publicity opportunities. Last but not least thank you also to members and non-members who help attend socials and donate raffle prizes without whose help we could not carry on. Thank you.

Secretary’s report:  ( also Mike Snaith )

Since the last AGM we have held seven social meetings, one visit and six committee meetings.

At the last AGM John Wilkinson enlightened us about the scenic beauty of the Danube in the Balkans area of Europe.  In March Chris Madge talked to us about the past, present and future of the Derby Canal with hopeful news about restoration in the Draycott area.  In April Geoff Pursglove talked to us about the latest developments along the Ashby Canal with new lengths being restored upstream at Snarestone but the spectre of proposed high speed train HS2 wrecking plans in the Measham area. May saw us on a guided evening tour around Attenborough Nature Reserve with sightings of a variety of birds and informative descriptions of their activities and migration by a very knowledgable ranger.

The summer break followed and our meetings recommenced in October when John Rawlinson of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust talked about the excitement of steam locomotive “Tornado” breaking 100 mph on the East Coast main line and the work taking place to build a new Gresley P2 steam locomotive, “Prince of Wales”. In November Kevin Miller of the Tall Ships Trust told us all about those majestic sailing ships and the volunteers that crew and maintain them – awe inspiring stuff. In December our Christmas Social was the first back at Rushcliffe Arena and with a talk on the beauty and architecture of the canals of north east France from Champagne to Alsace by John Wilkinson, along with good company and good food it was a really fun evening. The first meeting after the New Year in January was an illustrated talk by Kieran Lee about the history of and restoration plans for the Bennerley Viaduct spanning the Erewash valley near Ilkeston – one of only two such wrought iron structures left in the country. A truly fascinating enlightenment about this iron giant, its history, its importance and its future potential.