Latest News & Events

Report on the AGM and social evening on Monday 13th January 2020

In spite of Storm Brendan bringing high winds and torrential rain, 41 members managed to attend the ACA’s annual AGM at Donisthorpe Woodlands Centre starting at 7:30 pm. Chairman Peter Oakden reviewed the year’s events and gave an update on the pending transfer of the Transport & Works Act Order from Leicestershire County Council to the Ashby Canal Association. Treasurer Bob Taylor presented an overview of the healthy state of the accounts, and Secretary Cyril Blackford presided over the re-selection of three committee members.

The formal meeting finished at 8:30 pm. It was followed by the premiere of a short film in which founding member, Brian Goodwin, reminisced with the late Tom Henshaw about coal carrying on the Ashby Canal, the early days of the ACA, and the royal opening of the restored Stratford Canal in 1964. The film was made in 2016 by Tom’s daughter, Lesley, who was also in the audience.

Unfortunately technical gremlins that evening led to the audience having to initially watch a film with no sound, and soon after listen to an audio with no visuals. In the end we listened, rather than watched, an interesting and witty conversation between two long-standing friends.

Amongst other anecdotes, Tom and Brian recalled the construction of a concrete platform at Gopsall Wharf, which enabled lorries to offload coal into barges, without the danger of the lorry reversing into the canal. “Who built the concrete platform?” asked Brian. “It was the local boy scouts!” replied Tom. A member of the audience then mentioned that he had been one of those boys scouts involved in its construction. There was further interaction from the audience as another attendee recounted some technical problems with offloading the coal at Gopsall Wharf.

The entertaining evening finished at 9:45. Once the film has been uploaded to the internet, this website will include a link to the video, so that other members can enjoy their memories.

Report on the social evening on 5th December 2019

The ACA returned to The Miller’s Hotel at Sibson for an illustrated talk by Tim Coghlan (of Braunston Marina fame) on the shipwright Aubrey John Berriman, who spent much of his working life in Braunston, and who died in March 2019 at the grand old age of 94.

Aubrey was born in the coastal town of Bideford, Devon, which had a long tradition of wooden ship building. In 1940, at the age of 14, Aubrey learnt the craft of boatbuilding, working at Blackmores. However, by the 1950s, trade had dried up, and layoffs began.

When Samuel Barlow Coal Carrying Company Ltd. of Braunston Marina put an advertisement in the Western Morning News for a shipwright, Aubrey applied and was offered the job. He and his young family moved to Braunston.

Aubrey was instrumental in building Raymond. It was launched in 1958 and proved to be the last wooden narrowboat built for the canals. When Barlows ceased trading in 1962, the yard was acquired by Blue Line Cruisers. Aubrey was made their foreman and he diversified into building leisure craft. He retired at the age of 63 and continued to live in Braunston until his death.

He is commemorated in a plaque on the so-called Braunston Wall of Fame at the marina.

Report on Quiz Night on 15th November 2019

Over 70 people attended the annual quiz night at Stoke Golding Club, which for the first time was held on a Friday night.

Fourteen teams took part in the contest to answer 8 rounds of questions and 2 picture rounds. Aided by a new sound system and a new method of collecting scores after two rounds instead of one round as previously, the quizzing took place at a fast pace. The fish and chip suppers arrived promptly at 9 pm as planned, at which point the second picture round was handed out.

There were 10 questions on each topic: film and TV, transport, science, sports, food and drink, general knowledge, geography, and pot luck. Each team was allowed to play their joker once (but not on the picture round), which doubled their score.

The questions were somewhat more achievable than in previous years, which was reflected in the final scores. The winning team was “Splinters” with 89 points, followed closely by 6 teams whose scores ranged from 88 to 84 points.

Thanks to your support, the quiz night raised £397.42 for the restoration.

Put next year’s quiz in your diaries – Saturday 14th November 2020!

Work Parties – next one on 19th January 2020

Our  work parties usually take place on the third Sunday of the month, and the usual starting location is Snarestone Wharf, Quarry Lane, Snarestone (sat nav postcode DE12 7DD), or Ilott Wharf, Bosworth Road (Google map ref. 52.696407-1.484737) from around 10:00 a.m.

The next work party will take place on Sunday 19th January 2020. We We intend to erect a new fence between the land where the wooden chalets are being built (the offside bend in the canal just north of Snarestone slipway) and the land owned by the ACA. We will be inserting wooden posts into the ground and then attaching the timbers to create a secure fence.

Meet at 10 am at Snarestone Wharf DE12 7DD. Please bring your own lunch and wear appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear.

There are some ongoing projects, which also require volunteers:

BenchesWe have a number of benches, seats or picnic tables spaced along the canal between Snarestone and The Lime Kilns pub. A small number of volunteers have been assigned to various locations along the canal corridor and good progress is being made in repainting these.

If you can help, or would like to know more, please get in touch with Clive Walker on  01827 282298 or David Watts on 01455 846007, or e mail:

Working Wednesdays

We hold informal work parties most Wednesdays at Snarestone Wharf,  from approx 10.15 am to early afternoon.  There are usually plenty of jobs to be done – including grass cutting, weeding, keeping the site tidy, sorting  bric-a-brac,  putting up notices, maintaining our sheds, etc.  Very informal but rewarding.  If you would like to join us – you would be most welcome.

Please call Rod Smith on 01530 833307 or David Watts 01455 846007 for details

Report from the work party on Saturday 21st September 2019

The hedge was trimmed and the middle of the offside nature reserve was strimmed. A large amount of orange balsam was also removed. Work also continued on the canopy over the shop front. 

Report from the work party on Sunday 28th April 2019

Essential maintenance was carried out on a birch tree at Snarestone Wharf that is in danger of becoming uprooted following recent stormy weather.

Report from the work party on Sunday 24th March 2019

At Ilott Wharf a number of volunteers repaired a fence that had been damaged by a fallen willow, whilst others made the most of the good weather and burnt scrub. The day finished with some reed cutting in the nature reserve at Snarestone Wharf.

Report from the work party on Sunday 18th February 2019

Eight volunteers continued to trim the towpath hedge, whilst two other volunteers removed the planks from two damaged benches opposite Hinckley Marina. The benches will eventually be re-fitted with fresh, treated planks..

Report from the work party on Sunday 20th January 2019

Six volunteers helped trim the towpath hedge between Snarestone Wharf and bridge 62.

Report from the work party on Sunday 16th December 2018

Twelve volunteers helped trim the towpath hedge between Snarestone Wharf and bridge 62.

Report from the work party on Sunday 21st October 2018

Fourteen volunteers cleared scrub at the entrance to the car park at Ilott Wharf, thus improving the visibility of the noticeboard from the Bosworth Road.  In addition, grass and brambles were cut around the bases of the saplings that line the wooden fencing. This will improve their chances of further growth.

Report from the work party on Sunday 3rd June 2018

Six volunteers cleared rubbish, cut down saplings and burned scrub in preparation for the visit of the University of Leicester between 5th and 7th June 2018. In order to improve accessibility, and to make the terrain more visible, it has been decided to contract a local farmer to mow the grass before the start of the archaeological dig. This may also help to reduce the prevalence of ruts which make the ground very uneven and difficult to walk or work on.

Report from the work party on Sunday 15th April 2018

Twelve volunteers cleared scrub at Ilott Wharf, and repaired the wire fence that borders the site of the car boot sale. Afterwards the volunteers enjoyed a BBQ at the new purpose-built site at Snarestone Wharf.

Report from the work party on Sunday 18th February 2018

Twenty two volunteers, including several new faces, cleared scrub, broke up large hay bales, painted gates and tidied the hard standing area at Ilott Wharf.

Report from the work party on Sunday 28th January 2018

Sixteen volunteers worked either side of the Gilwiskaw Brook clearing and burning further scrub and brambles. 

Report from the work party on Sunday 12th November 2017

Fifteen volunteers, five of whom turned up for the first time, helped clear scrub and brambles from both sides of the Gilwiskaw Brook, The yellow and red engineering posts, that mark the location of the pending aqueduct are now clearly visible and more easily accessible.






Latest Additions to Snarestone Wharf

If you have been to Snarestone Wharf recently, you may have noticed a few changes and additions:


There is a sturdy noticeboard supported by iron posts, welcoming visitors  to the Ashby Canal Restoration. It is situated alongside the winding hole, for all to see.


At this time of year, many of the shop’s contents are brought outside. Their display has been enhanced by a colourful painting created by Emma’s Crafty Kids at this year’s Moira Festival. 


Hot drinks are now available to purchase from the shop at £1.25 a cup.

The shop front will shortly be adorned by an awning enabling sale items to remain outside in all weathers..

Report on the Shackerstone Festival 2019

The Shackerstone Festival celebrated 25 years on the weekend of 31st August and 1st September 2019. It has since been decided that there will be no further Shackerstone Festivals and so this anniversary marked the culmination of the event:

As usual, there was a wide variety of stalls, entertainment and working boats. The ACA too was present with a marquee, meeting members of the public. selling merchandise and drumming up membership.

Calendar of Social Events up to March 2020 – dates for your diary

The ACA has planned a series of social events for the forthcoming months, between October 2019 and March 2020. The variety of dates and venues should appeal to a broad range of members:

Wednesday 9th October 2019 7.30 pm at Millers Hotel, (A444) Twycross Road, Sibson, CV13 6LB

Roger Butler will present an illustrated talk entitled Canal Holidays 50 years ago. Roger is a well-known speaker on waterways subjects, and his talk will include some atmospheric photos of canal holidays in the 1960s. We hope to see a good attendance at what promises to be a very entertaining evening at a new venue. Free admission, all welcome.


Friday 15th November 2019 7.15 pm at Stoke Golding Club, 42 Hinckley Road, Stoke Golding CV13 6DZ

Our popular annual light-hearted Quiz Night, with a Fish & Chip supper. Not canal-related so it will appeal to everyone. Advance Bookings only. Tickets £9.00 (+ £1.50 postage, unless collected on door) – for card payments please phone 07805 602618. See separate advert for further details.

Wednesday 4th December 2019 7.30 pm at Millers Hotel, Twycross Road , Sibson CV13 6LB

A fascinating talk by Tim Coghlan, from Braunston Marina, about Aubrey Berriman, the shipwright to the ‘Raymond’.


Monday 13th January 2020 7.30 pm at Donisthorpe Woodlands Centre (DM’s) Church Road, Donisthorpe DE12 7PY 

Annual General Meetingfollowed by waterways films and talk based on the extensive archive of the late Tom Henshaw. Bar available and plenty of parking.

Monday 10th February 2020 7.30 pm at Donisthorpe Woodlands Centre, Church Road, Donisthorpe DE12 7PY

Mike Kelly will present a talk about the Sleeping Beauty -The Cromford Canal.  Bar available and plenty of parking.

Thursday 5th March 2020 7.30 pm at Dadlington Village Hall, The Green, Dadlington CV13 6JB

Film Night – “The Bargee”  This will be a ticket only event. Bring your own drinks. More details in the next issue of “Spout”

The Ilott Wharf Project with Funding Awarded by The Heritage Lottery Fund


The Ilott Wharf Project

For the last 2 years the ACA has been working on the Archaeology and Social History of Ilott Wharf which is on the line of the Ashby Canal, just west of where the Gilwiskaw Aqueduct once stood.

Through the generosity of Lottery players we were given a grant of £10,000, to which we added £1000 of our own money. We have also put in many hours of voluntary work.

The purpose of the project was to find out what state the underground remains of the structures at the Wharf are in, with a view to possible future archaeology excavations before the canal is restored through the site. We also did a social history investigation: who lived there, what their lives were like, and what did they do on this industrial canal site.

What did we find? Basically, because of repeated destruction and vandalism on the site, there were no remains underground which would justify excavations. We used state of the art geophysics investigations: LIDAR, magnetometry and ground radar. Whilst disappointing, this result means that we can now go ahead with restoration.

In fact, there was one small corner of the site near the level crossing on Bosworth Road where we found some remains of walls and a street lamp, so ACA members and others were able to do some supervised archaeology.

The social history investigation was also successful. We traced several people who lived on the site in both the houses there. Amazingly, we managed to identify two people from the same family who lived there 60 years ago and had completely lost touch after the site was demolished in the 1960s after which the occupants went their different ways. Just like “This is your life”!

We have a film of some of the findings on YouTube:

These are some of the photos which show what we did:

This is a map of the site a few years before the closure of Ilott wharf. You can see that the left arm of the canal had already been dewatered in the 1950s when Measham town lost its stretch of canal.

The lads putting up the sign at the car park at Ilott wharf. They had previously scrapped the car park so it could be used again.

The chute at Ilott wharf in about 1965, just before demolition and dewatering of the canal back to Snarestone Wharf. The trains from Measham Mine were backed up on the siding, and men shovelled the coal into narrowboats moored on the canal.

The engine used to pull the coal wagons crossing Bosworth Road just west of the old coaching inn.

Referring to the previous steam engine photo, Peter Oakden is seen here having excavated the base of the street lamp, with even the electricity cable sticking out of it.

Trains crossing the fields coming from Measham Mine (on the horizon), heading towards Ilott Wharf.

In 1965 the canal was dewatered. Just before it happened the Ashby Canal Association was formed in order to try to stop the closure. Sadly, the ACA failed, but one of the protests was by “Prince” seen here at Ilott Wharf, having just passed the gauging station.

This house, one of two at Ilott Wharf, had been a coaching inn on the Measham to Bosworth route. It was demolished in 1965. It belonged to the Coal Board and the last occupant was a manager from the mine.

The house in the background was the Ilott House which belonged to the Midland Railway Company, which also owned the canal. The little black shed in front of it was the tally shed where canal records were kept. Also shown are the loaded wagons on the raised siding and boats waiting to be filled.


This is a view from the east side of the aqueduct looking towards the gauging station. This was around 1965 and Ilott House had already been knocked down. Margaret Goodwin, the last tenant, remembers, that whilst they liked living there, the house had no electricity or running water. It was condemned as unfit.

Another view taken at around the same time. Ilott House has been demolished. The dilapidated tally hut is still there, as is the greenhouse seen in front of the tree.

Life on the Wharf

Although life was hard, there was fun to be had for children. In the background, there is a train on the siding, and the coal shute can be seen on the far left.

Margaret and Brian Goodwin outside Ilott House 60 years ago.

The Goodwins at Ilott wharf. The gauging station is in the background. They borrowed the canoe from Bill Bradford, the local carpenter and undertaker, who lived at Bosworth Grange just east of the aqueduct.