No 25 Autumn 2003

Second Canal Day 2003
RNLI weekend 22/August
Inclined plane rails
Tub Boat care
Bude Canal Project
Locomotive repair visit
Bude in 1813




It has been a busy summer for the Society - more accurately its committee members.
The second Canal Day was a great success mainly due to the organisational skills of Chris Jewell, Ann Longley, and Stan Noakes with good support from the other committee members and two out-of-town members helping in care and maintenance of the tub boat in the barge workshop
From June to the end of September members have manned the barge workshop for possible visitors and on one Sunday in each of those four months a committee member has led a walk from the sea-lock to the workshop. More visitors than last year joined us on these occasions.
Our Events Secretary has arranged outings to Culdrose, Falmouth Maritime Museum, and the Bodmin Wenford Railway to see work on restoring the West Country class locomotive "Wadebridge".

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Canal Day 2003

The second annual Bude Canal Day took place o the erection of the marquee.
Stalls were manned then and on Carnival Day and RNLI weekend.
Several yachts and motor boats entered the lower basin via the sealock largely due to publicity by the society.
Prodding by the committee led to the dredging of the waste material in the canal round the upper lock gates left by the gate installers. Progress is being made slowly in obtaining promises of funds for the update of the canal and on Sunday 27th July and this year incorporated a celebration of the life of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, “Bude’s Forgotten Genius”. The event, jointly organised by your Committee and Bude-Stratton Town Council, was held in order to raise awareness of the area's rich history, to encourage use of the canal and sea lock and to further inform the public about the proposed Canal Regeneration and Limelight projects.
A marvellous day preceded by heavy rain two days before, ensuring sufficient water in the canal to use the sea lock if boats arrived, and cloud and sunny intervals with little wind on the day combined to make it a great success.
Your committee began by erecting a marquee with the help of other members, and your editor and Events Secretary with the aid of the instruction leaflet put up a new smaller gazebo, in which Friggin Riggin and the Jays performed later, and the united committee dealt with our new larger gazebo in record time thanks to the ingenious construction.

Capt. G. A. Hogg RN, trustee of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, opened the day with an address that praised the organisers for their efforts and encouraged those present to “go out, enjoy, and remember the past”.
The whole day was well attended with crowds of people enjoying a variety of activities - from a children’s painting competition to the locking in of several vessels through Bude’s recently restored sea lock. The canal is an important aspect of Bude’s heritage and still supports a wide range of activities, as was illustrated by a Bude Canal Angling Association competition, a Canoe Polo match and a minuet yacht demonstration.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793 – 1875), inventor of the Bude Light - a lighting system used in the Houses of Parliament, was an early pioneer of steam power. Fittingly, a celebration of steam took place in the grounds of The Castle, which was built as a home by Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830. The Trevithick Society operated a fascinating steam powered replica of the ‘Puffing Devil’ - the worlds first successfully self-propelled vehicle. A unique steam powered bicycle - literally ‘steaming’ around the castle grounds - also generated much interest, as did a Goldsworthy Gurney exhibition in the Parkhouse Centre.

The soundtrack to the day was provided by music from Friggin Riggin, The Jays, Bude Metric Band, Bude Town

Band and a traditional fair organ. Children from Whitstone Primary School danced to The Cavaliers and Bude Junior School preformed a ‘Mini Wreckers’ broomstick dance. Festivities continued into the night with a concert at the Falcon hotel featuring Phil Williams and Sarah Deere-Jones supported by Friggin Riggin.

Other attractions included, a display of model boats and restored reed cutting boat as well as representation from organisations such as Bude Motor Club, The Bude Pilot Gig Club, Bude Surf Life Saving Club, The Old Cornwall Society, The North Devon Maritime Museum, North Cornwall District Council, The Environment Agency, South West Lakes Trust, Grand Western Canal Trust and the Rolle Canal Society.

A children’s painting competition depicting local landmarks received many entries of a high standard. The winners were: Juniors – 1st Luke Stephenson, 2nd Lucy Reagan. Infants – 1st Emily Barker, 2nd Tom Cappleman–Lynes. Any winners who were not present for the award giving should call Anne Longley on (01288 353 839) to claim their prize! A selection of the paintings are currently on display in Bude-Stratton Museum (situated on the Lower Wharf).

The Bude Canal Angling Association competition was won by Simon Allen with a catch of 9lb 7 ½ oz. He was presented with ‘The Falcon Cup’ by Mr Tim Browning of the Falcon Hotel, Bude. In second place was Brian Powell (with a catch of 8lb 8oz), joint third place was shared by Nathan Underwood and Adrian Hill (who both landed catches of 8lb 6oz). The Canoe Polo competition for the Bude Canal & Harbour Society Shield was won by Bude Canoe Club, with Adventure International as runners up.
For much of the above we are indebted to Mary Myers' report to local papers.

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RNLI weekend 22/25 August 2003

Your committee erected the new gazebo on the Saturday and Sunday at the Bark House green to set up our stall. Six peopl;e are required for this operation: one at each corner of this ingenious structure and one in the middle of each long side. On the word of command all walk backwards and outwards to the full stretch of the metal supports and then each releases a button and extends each leg (of the gazebo - not the operator). This takes about three minutes now that the team is becoming efficient. After that one or two can drive in the pegs and attach the guy ropes and the edifice is secure. The same number are required for the dismantling. Much more time is required to fetch and set uip tables and display the wares nd then to man the stall. No doubt the Treasurer's report will indicate the amount of profit made at this venue.
The devotion of this small number was repaid when Anne Longley and David Phillips provided pasties and beer or wine on the patio of their lovely home in Breakwater Road while we watched the fireworks so thoughtfully supplied by the RNLI.
During Monday four gigs rowed from Port Isaac arrived and locked in to the Lower Basin to join Windthief, Quando and Moderation. Chris Jewell, David Phillips and two other Society members, Alan Hawkins and John Harris, were in the lock operating crew. Another member, Malcolm Mitchell, is also a regular volunteer.

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Bude Canal Inclined Plane Rails
Bryan Dudley Stamp writes:
Mrs Philippa Fitzpatrick, Curator of the Bude Museum on the Lower Wharf, has been asking if the vertical rails used for the canal overflow close to the museum are ex-inclined plane rails.
On inspection one can see that they are, indeed, U-shaped rails used back to back.
Knowing that rails have been used as lintels at Box's Foundry at Marhamchurch I paid it a recent visit. There is, indeed, a storage building at the top end of the foundry adjacent to the Marhamchurch inclined plane where two U-shaped rails have been used. They appear to be the same size as those used on the canal overflow.
I have asked Gerald Fry, Restorations Manager for the Bude Canal Trust, for his comments. He says that both U-shaped and L-shaped rails have been unearthed at the Veeland inclined plane on the Bude Canal aqueduct. This would seem to suggest that both types of rail were used on the inclines: possibly the U-shaped on the right and the L-shaped rail on the left going up. Or it could be that U-shaped rails were used at both the top and bottom ends of the plane to guide the tub boat wheels on to the L-shaped rails used higher up.
As there are no known drawings or plans of the planes in existence it is all a matter of conjecture.
Nevertheless, perhaps some of our readers may have further comments.
Chris Jewell points out that although David Tew's book "Canal Inclines and Lifts" is silent on the shape of the rails, there is what is described as a contemporary drawing of the type of wheeled boat used on the Bude Canal sitting on a pair of L-shaped rails.
He shares the view expressed above that channel rails were used at top and bottom to guide the wheels into the L-shaped rails used above and below.
On page 154 of "The Canals of South West England" Charles Hadfield says of the Bude Canal, "They (tub boats) were fitted with small wheels of 14in diameter which projected from the sides, and ran in channel rails on the inclined planes..." The word 'channel' implies a U-shape. Ed.

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The Bude Canal tub boat
Recently, the Bude Stratton Town Council , which has the tub boat on loan from ISCA, has had Dr Bleu, a marine archaeologist from the Centre of Marine Archaeology at Southampton University, visit Bude to look at the tub boat. Her initial comments are that the boat is in reasonable conditions and is being kept so. It is important that BSTC are treating the boat with the significance that it deserves. Dr Bleu will be making another visit with a conservator to do a detailed report on the boat.
The council has recently been offered the ownership of the tub boat by ISCA, its owners, for the sum of £1 with the condition that they be offered the boat first should the council ever decide to dispose of it.
This is an important development as it will allow BSTC to make grant applications for funds to cover the various works known to be needed plus any matters identified by Dr Bleu's detailed examination.
It has been agreed that any funds over £1,000 in the Society's Project Fund be dedicated towards any match funding needed for any such project.
Chris Jewell

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Bude Canal Project
Since issue 23 there have been two meetings of the Bude Canal Partnership led by North Cornwall District Council, the latest being on the 10 July 2003 The main matters of interest are as follows:
i confirmation of an offer letter for just under $1m from South West Regional Development Agency
ii An offer letter from Intereg (European Regional Fund) for £95,000.
This is a complementary grant and not part of the main applications.
It will be used to establish walking routes as recommended in the consultants' final report, these being the completion of the Tamar Trail, a long distance walk, a circular 20 mile walk,and three short circular walks in the Holsworthy area. All of these walks will utilise, where possible, the towpaths of the canal.
The grant is for immediate use and needs to be spent by the end of the year 2005. As well as the physical implementation of the routes it will cater for signage, interpretation, leaflets, and a website which can include the Barge Canal section between Bude and Helebridge.
This funding can also be used as complementary for both the Objective 1 and Heritage Lottery Fund bids.
iii Planning applications for works on the Barge canal section. There are 18 items in the applications which range from landscaping works and restoration of the inland locks, to the slightly more controversial building of four workshops on the Barkhouse Green.. This is necessary to show an "economic output", ie jobs for the Objective 1 bid and to provide NCDC with a source of income for the future maintenance of the canal. The initial proposed design for these workshops raised concerns about the loss of "through views". This has been communicated by the Society and Bude Stratton Town Council to NCDC in a meeting on 4 August 03. The design of those workshops is now under urgent review to find an acceptable alternative as it is crucial to have local support and to achieve planning consent so that the bid applications can be submitted by the end of September 2003.
iv If all goes well and there is no more slippage in the timescale and the funding is secured, capital works should commence in February 2005 on the Barge canal with an expected conclusion of all works by December 2007.
Once done this will breathe new life into the canal corridor by an improved environment for residents and visitors alike making Bude an even better place in which to live or visit.
Chris Jewell

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"Wadebridge" 34007
Led by Society member, Fred Copeland, a party of enthusiastic members visited Bodmin in september to see the progress being made on the Locomotive Restortion Project of one of Southern Railway's Light Pacific engines, "Wadebridge". This is the earliest "West Country Class" steam locomotive still in existence.
The party were shown the engine's boilet undergoing repair and its frame being assembled at the workshops at Bodmin General station. It is hoped that the engine will be completed in 2004.
In addition the engine workshops of the Bodmin Wenford Railway were also inspected.

One delight was the eight-year old boy clad in overalls and a good coating of soot who announced proudly that he was the only one small enough to enter the firebox to clean it.
To round off a most interesting and sunny day, there was a trip to Bodmin Parkway and back (albeit by diesel engine). Certainly a good time was had by all.
Bryan Dudley Stamp.

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Bude in 1813

The following extract is from "Voyage Round Great Britain Vol 1" written by Richard Ayton in 1813 and published in 1814, six years before the first sod was cut on the Bude Canal.
"This place is called Bude Haven, though at present only a sandy creek, where small vessels venture to ground, and are so exposed to the wind and sea, that they have a fair chance of having their bottoms knocked out by every returning tide. It was once a large and commodious port, all traces of which are now buried under the sand. The river Bude meets the sea here, and at its confluence formerly spread into a wide estuary, capable of receiving ships of great burden, but now runs to the sea in a shallow stream, navigable only for ducks and geese. The destruction of the haven is attributed both to the sand from the sea and the mud from the river; the first imbankment was of sand, which obstructed the mud in its passage to the sea, and co-operated with it in filling up the channel of the haven. But though Bude has at present no title to the character of a harbour, it is still frequented as a port, in consideration of what it was formerly, and greatly to the emoluments of the shipwrights. I saw several vessels moored on the sand, and was so struck with their evident exposure, that I could not forbear from expressing my opinion of their danger to some of the captains: but they all explained to me the cause of their situation by observing, and that too in a tone of justification, that Bude was once as good a harbour as any on the coast of Cornwall. I have never seen the game of follow-my-leader more desperately pursued.
The village of Bude is very small but has some neat houses in it, which are let out as lodgings to visitors, who go thither for the benefit of sea-bathing, though the place is not supplied with any conveniences that can render the act of bathing either comfortable or decent, particularly to the ladies. No bathing machines are employed, and consequently the ladies are reduced to the necessity of undressing themselves in the dark and dismal caverns hollowed in the cliffs by the sea, and of parading into the water not unseen. At the precise moment which they choose for their dip, some male starers are certain to be picking up shells at the water's edge, who, under this pretence, have an opportunity of seeing the whole exhibition.
There is no circulating library or trinket shop at Bude, where the visitors can spend their money and their mornings, so that, in spite of the bracing effects of the cold bath, I think I discovered some symptons of flaccidity about them, and a certain anxiety in their countenances which declared that they were seeking more than they could find. I have heard some seamen say that they preferred a storm to a calm, and I confess that beating hemp would be more to my taste than waiting three and twenty hours every day for a plunge in the sea.
(An earlier "Tub Boat" gave an acount by a lady of the difficulties of bathing towards the end of the 19th century, and another describing ships unloading at the Strand by Grenville's cottage in the 17th century but it was not clear that Bude was a "large port". Ed)


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