Latest News & Events

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

 

 

 

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.

The Ashby Canal From Above – New Video for 2017

ACA member Paul B. has been photographing some well-known landmarks from his quadcopter since 2014. There are also a number of his videos uploaded to YouTube:

 

 

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Furnace

Moira Lock

Moira Lock

The next restoration stage - Gilwiskaw Aqueduct and Ilott Wharf

Gilwiskaw Aqueduct and Ilott Wharf

Marston Junction.

Marston Junction

Bosworth Marina.

Bosworth Marina

Coal Event at Snarestone April 2014

Coal Event at Snarestone April 2015

NB Aquarius and Ilford April 2014

NB Aquarius and Ilford April 2015


News and advice for Boaters

News and advice for Boaters – Sept 2017

Boaters travelling north on the Ashby Canal from the direction of Marston Junction, please note you can pick up an information leaflet/canal guide from the yellow box on a post near the Limekilns Water point, just before bridge 15.  (You will need a CRT “Watermate” key to unlock the box.)  Or you can refer to the new sign on the towpath nearby for mileages and a list of attractions. Smartphone users can scan the QR code on the sign to access this website and the downloadable version of the canal guide.

Though it is just about possible to cruise the 22mile length of canal from Marston Junction to Snarestone in a long day, this is not recommended.  Allow at least a day and a half each way. If you want to take in all the sights, and enjoy the peaceful countryside, allow much longer.  The canal was built saucer shaped, and is often shallow at the sides and on the inside of bends, so you need to adjust your boat speed accordingly and try to keep to the main channel which is in the centre.

You may wish to download and print our brief cruising guide from this website – just click on the yellow button on the right.

Facilities for boaters can be found at Trinity Marina, Hinckley;  Ashby Boat Company, Stioke Golding Wharf;   Ashby Canal Centre, Stoke Golding;   Bosworth Marina, Market Bosworth.

Market Bosworth’s lovely town centre is a longish uphill walk from the visitor moorings, but it is a good spot to restock the boat’s food cupboard, as there are no shops beyond here.  Arriva’s Leicester  bus service turns round near the marina, soyou could use this to get into Market Bosworth if you don’t fancy the walk,

The canal from Carlton northwards to Snarestone is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Boaters are requested to take special care to protect the area’s flora and fauna.   CRT Information signs are posted at Carlton, and there is an interpretation board by Bridge 61 at Snarestone.

The canal northwards from Shackerstone, through Gopsall woods, is one of the most beautiful stretches of the waterway, and should not be missed.  Moorings are available just south of the tunnel for Snarestone village and pub. Note, however, there is no shop in the village.

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Boaters wishing to access the newly restored length of canal from the Pumping Station to Bridge 62 are advised that the winding hole beyond the new bridge 62 is limited to boats of 16 metres or less  (approx 52 feet).  Longer boats must be prepared to reverse for a considerable distance.  Otherwise, please turn boats round at the full-size winding hole just before the water point and sanitary station.  Swing Bridge 61A, which marks the end of CRT waters,  is  kept locked and bolted.   Volunteers, when on duty at our Snarestone site, will be happy to give advice.  Please inquire at the little kiosk, if open.   We have some new volunteers for the 2017 season, but they are just that – they are not paid, and are there in their own time, so we regret we cannot guarantee that there will be someone available.

If you are working the bridge yourself, a CRT “Watermate” key is needed for the padlock, which is on the off-side of the bridge near ground level. Please remember to re-lock, and bolt, the bridge after use.  Remember, boats over 16m (approx 52ft)  will not be able to turn round on this stretch, so check the boat length before proceeding, or be prepared to test your boating skill by reversing for a long distance!

Our little shop and information kiosk should be open on most days.   From September onwards, the shop will be closed Sundays and Mondays),  (Hours vary according to the availability of volunteers.)

new  caretaker Michael Wooding with ACA chairman Peter Oakden.    Michael and Krystina arrived in NB “Draco” in May to look after our shop and information kiosk at Snarestone.

Postcards, gifts, navigation plaques, pens, souvenir mugs, tea-towels, loo-blue, etc., are on sale, and locally made ice cream from nearby Gopsall Farm.          We also have a stock of beautiful specially photographed canal-scene greetings cards.  You can also get a souvenir navigation certificate if you have travelled the length of the canal. Our adjacent bric-a-brac emporium has lots of bargains.  All proceeds help the ACA’s funds and go towards the care and restoration of the AshbyCanal.

Membership forms are also available should you wish to join the Association.

Moorings beyond the swing-bridge 61A are limited to 48 hours, thereafter £10 per day. Boaters are welcome to enjoy this pleasant stretch.  However, please note that these waters are governed by Leicestershire County Council regulations, which require boats to have a CRT licence, comply with boat safety regulations, and be insured.   Concessions for moorers are available for ACA and AWCC club members – please enquire.  For details of slipway access, etc, please click on the slipway and moorings  button at the top of his page.

Measham village, which can, tantalisingly, be seen in the distance from the canal terminus, is not yet reachable by boat. (The restoration effort continues…..  we’ll get back there eventually !) You could walk or cycle into Measham where there are cafes, pub, a good Co-op, a Tesco Local shop, newsagents, butchers, mueum, etc. but it will talk about half an hour, and you are advised to ask our caretaker for directions.  The lane into Measham is fairly quiet but narrow, and you need to take care,

An off -line nature reserve is alongside the canal at Snarestone – providing a protected habitat for submerged and floating plants and aquatic creatures.  23 aquatic species were recorded last year in this small reserve.  The offside of the newly restored length is rich in wild flowers in the summer, and lots of different bird species have been spotted. Herons and  buzzards can frequently be seen, and a kingfisher has been spotted nearby.