Latest News & Events

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

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..

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

 

 

 

Restoration of the Wooden Benches

Over the coming months all the benches between Snarestone Wharf and The Lime Kilns Pub are being restored and repainted by a small team of volunteers. Nearly all of the benches have inscriptions. These benches were initially constructed and installed by the ACA in the districts governed by North West Leicestershire District Council, and Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council.  There are no ACA-installed benches south of the A5 at the Lime Kilns pub, as this part of the canal comes under the authority of Rugby District Council, who wish to make their own arrangements.

Restoring and repainting may take some time as the task is of course dependent on the weather. There is also the logistics to consider –  transporting the materials to locations which are often some way from the road. To this end the team of volunteers have been paired up, with each pair attending to a particular section of the canal.

If you should see one of our volunteers at work on the benches please give them a wave. I’m sure they will appreciate the gesture. Below is a selection of ‘before and after’ photos showing work that has already been carried out up to mid-October 2017.

Shackerstone Festival from Above

Roger Popejoy was flying at The Shackerstone Family Festival with the Delta Hawks flying club, he took a number of photographs of the canal.

Shackerstone Festival 2017 from the air.