Latest News & Events

Coronoavirus and Boating Update from C&RT , dated 23 June 2020

Staying on your boat

As you may have heard, the Government has today announced measures to continue the easing of lockdown. Importantly, this means that from Saturday 4 July all boaters in England will be able to stay overnight on their boats.

While longer journeys are now possible, and our navigations are open in full, please bear in mind that booking for some passages and services will be required. Anything that is likely to affect your boating will be listed on our website.

In Wales, you can go out on your boat if you can do it locally. This generally means not travelling further than five miles to where your boat is moored. There should be no overnight stays on boats, no landing in any place beyond the immediate local area and a return to the point of departure. The restrictions on staying local could be lifted on Monday 6 July, if conditions allow, and we will update further when this is confirmed.

Ashby Canal Trail Award

We are pleased to announce that the Ashby Canal Trust, after a detailed submission by project advisor, Geoff Pursglove, has been awarded an IWA Waterways in Progress grant of £10,000 to establish a footpath on the line of the proposed Ashby Canal restoration between Snarestone and Measham – see also Waterways Issue 267/Spring 2020 and http://www.ashbycanaltrust.co.uk/news.html.

This footpath will be a precursor to the main restoration project and will help raise the profile of the ACA /ACT efforts to further raise the necessary funding for the full restoration, especially with the residents of the area. 

The footpath will be a joint venture between the ACT and ACA and will involve a great deal of volunteer time from our work party team. The major groundwork clearance and preparation, and installation of the necessary pedestrian gates will be carried out by contractors. The work will be commenced in earnest during the autumn of 2020, but some preparation work is likely to take place before then.

The existing Ashby Canal towpath will form the first 1/3 mile of the route. Crossing Gilwiskaw Brook, where the route will enter a Special Area of Conservation, the length will follow the original line of the canal to Ilott Wharf and then pursue the Transport & Works Act Order route to Measham, passing the old preserved Measham Midland Railway station, now Measham museum.

IWA awards ACA for 50 years of membership

Only a small number of supporters have been members of the IWA for fifty years or more. The ACA is a corporate member and this is reflected by a logo on our letterhead.

As a thank you for our support, and in recognition of our loyalty, the ACA has received a commemorative gold-coloured plaque in celebration of this anniversary.

Both the IWA and the ACA have changed in many ways since their inception, but at heart both parties continue to ensure the protection and restoration of our waterways for our future generations to enjoy.

The ACA looks forward to continuing to support the IWA over the coming years.

ACA form a “Working Partnership” with Canal & River Trust

The ACA formed a Working Partnership with Canal & River Trust on 28th January 2020.

ACA secretary, Cyril Blackford, formalised the agreement by shaking hands with Richard Bell, Waterway and Volunteer Operations Manager, based at Swarkestone, Derbyshire.

ACA will provide the manpower, in terms of volunteers, whilst C&RT will provide the plant and machinery, leadership and expertise in helping to maintain the Ashby Canal for both boaters and towpath users.

Initially there will be two work parties in the near future  (t.b.a.). Both work parties will be run by C&RT, but with ACA providing the volunteer labour; one work party will be at Snarestone and one on the towpath opposite Trinity Marina. Richard Bell (left) Cyril Blackford (right)

 

Moira Canal Festival – cancelled for 2020, and new date set for 2021!

Moira Canal Festival Cancellation – official notice issued on 20th March 2020

The Moira Canal Festival committee has been monitoring the current evolving public health advice regarding COVID-19 outbreaks across the UK. They have regrettably made the decision to postpone this year’s Moira Canal Festival, 2020.

Geoff Pursglove has been involved with the event since it began in 2000. “We feel we have a responsibility to act in the best interest of our visitors, entertainers, traders and volunteers” he said. “This decision has not been taken lightly, but to be positive, we are now planning to hold what would have been our 20th Anniversary festival this year, on 22nd and 23rd May next year, – 2021!”

For further information please visit their website:

http://www.moiracanalfestival.co.uk

       or their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=moira%20canal%20festival&epa=SEARCH_BOX

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: https://youtu.be/OtQJVfg2d_g

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.

Bygone Measham

A trio of rare photographs, which were recently posted on the Facebook page, have been presented to the ACA. They show views of Measham and its close relationship to the canal, whilst it was still in water.

Volunteer Lengthsmen Wanted!

The ACA is looking for volunteers who are willing to act as ‘lengthsmen’ along the whole 22 miles of the canal, in order to keep the towpath free of litter and generally care for its managed appearance. You can choose which section you wish to adopt and  maintain, and the ACA can help you out with any tools you may require.  Above all, please let us know if you find any tasks that may require a larger team effort. There are no set times for this volunteer work; how and when and where you maintain your ‘patch’ is entirely up to you.

If you are interested in becoming a lengthsman, please contact any member of the committee.

 

 

“The Measham Boat Lady” by Tom Henshaw

 

A short story by the late Tom Henshaw is now available to buy  at the shop in Snarestone Wharf, or by post.

The book is a 28 page paperback and all profits made will go towards the restoration of the Ashby Canal.

The paperback costs £3.50 + £1.00 p&p. It can be bought in person at the shop, or by card over the phone by contacting Michael Wooding on 07805 602618.

Front Cover