Apologies for delay in photos for this newsletter - awaiting colour pics which I will need to process - check back soon!
A Very Special Gig Day for Bude
The seeds that were sown over two years ago have finally grown into a mature Pilot Gig Club in Bude. From a small idea a Pilot Gig club was formed and fund-raising began with the objective of eventually having a gig owned by the club and based at Bude. Much support was forthcoming and soon sufficient money was available to commission the well-respected gig builder, Ralph Bird of Falmouth, to build it.
Sunday, 4th July, saw the culmination of this endeavour with the official naming and launching ceremony at the Bark House Green, Lower Wharf.
The weather was kind, warm and sunny and a good crowd gathered to witness this historic occasion for Bude. This is the first time in its history that Bude has had a gig which is strange when one considers the strong maritime history of the town.
The Town Band entertained the crowd whilst they were awaiting the arrival of guest dignitaries and other Gig clubs. Whilst people were waiting, there was the opportunity to inspect the new and very elegant boat in blue, white, and red livery as she rested on her trailer.
Chris Bale, the chairman of the Gig Club, outlined the events leading up to the present and thanked everyone who had given so much support to the project. Certificates were issued to the people involved in the day’s ceremony as a commemoration and a special commemorative certificate was presented to Bude Gig Club by Brian Chenoweth of the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, to mark the fact that the Bude Gig was the 100th gig to be constructed in Cornwall. Without more ado, the Mayor of Bude, Anne Davies, poured Champagne over the boat and officially named it ‘BEDEHAVEN’. There followed a blessing by ex-Methodist Super-intendent Paddy Kyle. An uncommon feature of the boat is that the name ‘BEDEHAVEN’ is written through the horizontal arm of the flag of St. Piran.
The boat was then put into the Bude Canal and its crew rowed it away for the first time to great cheers from the gathered crowd and accompaniment from the town band. Another visiting gig, Corsair, then joined it and the two rowed together down the canal to the lock where together with two visiting catamarans they locked into the open sea.
It was a very moving scene as the sponsored oars were given full power and ‘BEDEHAVEN’ accelerated out of the harbour, past the Barrel and into the open sea for the first time. Bude can now look forward to seeing this very attractive gig on the sea off Bude on many more occasions. We wish her and all who crew her, every success in the future.
To learn more about Bude Pilot Gig Club contact: Chris Bale, 2 West Park Road, Bude, Cornwall EX23 8PB.
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Bude Canal tub boat - Survey
In the Autumn of 2003 the tub boat kept by Bude Stratton Town Council in the Barge Workshop at Helebridge, Marhamchurch, near Bude was thoroughly surveyed by Dr Lucy Blue, a Marine Archaeologist from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Southampton University, with a conservator, Mr Powlesland.
The Town Council has accepted various recommendations and these will be carried out in the autumn of 2004. Additionally Dr Blue wrote a "Theoretical Construction of the Bude Canal Tub Boat". This text and a drawing by J Belchamber of ISCA of how a complete tub boat looked have been converted into display panels and a leaflet for use at the Barge Workshop. This text and drawing are now reproduced on pages 9-12 for your enlightenment.
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Bude Canal Project - update.
The bids for Heritage Lottery Fund and Objective 1 Fund grants have been submitted. By April 2005 it will be known if the required amounts have been granted. If so a detailed planning period up to October 2005 will take place with works commencing in February 2006 and the project must be completed by 31 December 2007.
The Intereg Project which is separate but complementary to the Canal Project is ongoing. The main emphasis at present is the circular walk of 20 miles which uses canal towpaths, public paths and the coastal path. Bude is the start and finish and the circle goes inland through Marhamchurch and Launcells parishes, up the Tamar valley via the Bude Aqueduct to Tamar Lake, on through Kilkhampton parish and down the Combe Valley to Duckpool, and back to Bude via the coast path; a remarkable walk seeing canal, countryside and coast.
The other walks are the extension of the Tamar Way, a long distance walk, and shorter circular walks in the Holsworthy area which it is hoped will have links to the Ruby Trails project in the Holsworthy/Hatherleigh areas.
Finally, the constitution for the Bude Canal Partnership (BCP) which will oversee the project under the guidance of NCDC will not be implemented until the position regarding the funding is certain. Our Hon Secretary, Bryan Stamp, will be the BCHS's representative on the Steering Group of the BCP.
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Our new gazebo did sterling work at Castle Green on Carnival Day and on Bark House Green on the Saturday and Sunday of RNLI weekend. Six people can erect it in two minutes and fixing of guy ropes and bunting take another five or ten minutes or so. Much more time is needed to set out the goods for sale but on Carnival Day it was in operation for about four hours, the middle of which were very hectic, resulting in a good profit.
It was manned for about six hours on the two days of RNLI weekend and brought in a profit for both events of £367.
We were pleased to have the help of our new amanuensis, Judy Crabtree, both days and Fred Copeland helped on the Sunday. The bulk of the work still falls on your committee members who give of their time unstintingly. Our Events Secretary, Betty Moore, and Chris Jewell particularly do much of the preliminary work as well as on the day. It is with doubts and trepidation that we face next year when Chris resigns as Treasurer. To date no one has come forward to take on this task.
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Comings & Goings
Few readers are not familiar with the 1897 photo of the lower basin of the canal from the wharf to the sea lock with ships moored bow to stern and the whole scene bristling with masts as far as the eye can see. For most of us, this is the way Bude should look, so the recent influx to Bude of sea-going yachts has been a welcome pleasure to all.
In August 2002 the yacht "Quando", a two-masted, wide-beamed, iron clad and somewhat unlovely vessel entered the sea lock to make her way up to the lower wharf to moor. She became stuck on the top cill and had to be hauled off by the lifeboat's tractor which luckily was kept permanently on the lockside. Despite the tow she continued grounding on her way up the canal until it was discovered she was grossly overloaded with drinking water (at least they said it was water) and a vast quantity of heavy iron anchor chains. Eventually, after a splendid pantomime of shouting, gesticulating and off-loading "Quando" was able to proceed normally to her allotted mooring on the wharfside where she remained for the next two years. For all that time there had been no apparent movement on board and rumour had it that the owner had scarpered and "Quando" was for sale in lieu of mooring and locking charges! On August 28th 2004 those of us busy behind our trading stall on Barkhouse Green on the first day of Lifeboat Week, noticed activity on "Quando's" decks immediately in front of us. Judicious (and downright nosy) enquiry from two of our number elicited the information that "Quando" was sold, her former and new owners were both on board and that she would be locking out on the first suitable tide the next day. For extra measure the new owner rhapsodized over her engines which he said were alone worth what he had paid for the whole boat!
During all this time and subsequently, our sea-lock was busy and other yachts appeared and were moored all along the wharfside and beyond, where they could be squeezed in among the fishing and rowing boats. Normally the former would be down in the harbour for at least another month but the disastrous floods of a few weeks before, (remember Boscastle?), had wrecked some and filled the rest with silt, necessitating their premature locking up to their winter berths for repairs. So, into an already crowded basin, "Windthief", a familiar friend of the two previous years, "Celtic Spirit", "Torva", "Lanula", and the very handsome "Cordelia" joined "Quando", now ready to put to sea again.
From Falcon bridge the sight of so many tall masts may not have equalled the vision of 107 years ago but it was exciting and heartening nonetheless and at the time of writing all but "Quando" are still there. She slipped out the next day but earlier than planned, so we were all caught napping bar a lucky few who watched her round Barrel Rock in a big sea and head off south under sail, on her way to Suffolk. She had moved down the canal without incident and so far, no-one has reported her getting hung up on the top cill this time. We all miss her.
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The aqueduct is
somewhat short of water just now even with the amount of rain we have had lately.
The reason is a breach under the spillway at the wharf allowing the spillway
and the footbridge to collapse and so preventing the level of water to be maintained.
The power of water in causing erosion is incredible and cannot be underestimated,
as we have seen at Boscastle. Not that we have such a serious result at the
wharf, but nevertheless there is a major engineering task necessary to repair
the spillway with its near five foot drop into the stream leading to the Tamar.
August 26th was a memorable day. At about four o’clock in the afternoon I was walking the dogs by the lower lake and I observed what I thought was a duck diving for fish but after the third dive, to my astonishment, turned out to be an otter! Having spent the last nine years looking for evidence of otters at the lake without success, I now know it is possible they may take up residence again.
Last year at this time I reported that our oak trees had no acorns – well this year it is literally ‘raining’ acorns! So, is this a sign of a hard winter to come? It is also unusual that we have no squirrels at the Wharf. I believe mice and voles like acorns but I don’t know of any other animals that like them except pigs – and we have no wild pigs either. I do know they are poisonous to horses if eaten in quantity so our ponies are kept strictly away from them.
We have recently obtained an aerial photograph of Virworthy Wharf dated 1967. Interestingly it shows the road bridge as a square structure and a barge upstream of the bridge. The bridge now has a circular brick culvert that would prevent movement of barges through it. I wonder what date the bridge was changed. I also understand the bridge is cracked and Devon County Council are going to dig it up to see what has happened. This will probably be done in October.
On a lighter note, the Melanistic pheasant I reported went wild last year still comes to the garden for food on a regular basis but will not be contained again. I am pleased and relieved that she has survived in the wild for so long.
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Visit to Rolle Canal Saturday 30th October 2004
guided walk of the Rolle Canal has been arranged to look at important features
of the canal.
Interested members should make their way to the car park adjacent to the Kingsley statue beside the river Torridge in Bideford where we can assess numbers etc.
The proposed itinerary is as follows:
10.30am Drive to Annery
11.00am Guided visit to lime kiln and tidal lock
12.30pm Leave Annery. Lunch break. Members can go straight to Rosemoor and take their luinch there or elsewhere and be at Rosemoor by 2.15pm.
2.15pm Guided walk, visiting the feeder arm and former lime kiln, etc.
4.00pm Short presentation by Rolle Canal Waterways Society on their plans and to view their archives. Refreshments available.
5.00pm Leave for Bude.
There is a small charge of £2 per person as a contribution to Rosemoor's overheads. Members of Rolle Canal & North Devon Waterways Society may also attend.
This is an interesting canal and worth a visit. As you may know it was built by James Green in late 1820s. It opened in 1827 and successfully operated until 1871 when it was superseded by the railway. The canal took its name from the Rolle family who promoted the idea. It is also known as the Torrington Canal.
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Talk/slide show "Visiting the Isles of Scilly by Narrowboat"
Tuesday 12th October 2004 at 7.30pm at the Parkhouse Centre Bude, Mr James Griffin
will give a presentation of his epic voyage in his purpose built narrow boat
"Ocean Princess" from Linslade, Bedfordshire, to the Scilly Isles
and returning to Linslade via Bristol in July/August 2003. During the trip he
called at Bude on 6th August (see Tub Boat No. 25 pages 5 - 7).
This is surely an event not to be missed. Admission is £2.50, including refreshments; children under 16 free.
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Budehaven School Canal Competition
This competition, which is judged and part-sponsored by the BCHS, took the form this year of a newspaper feature article for the Bude and Stratton Post.
The Year 8 children were asked to research and write an article on the history and future of the canal, in a suitable format for printing in the newspaper. There were a number of very good entries and selecting a winner was quite tricky, (necessitating copious tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits.... so much nicer than a wet towel!) The winning entry was printed in the newspaper on 5th August and was surrounded in traditional fashion by advertisements which the children had canvassed from local businesses. One entry, which did not conform to the rules, but was considered a very nice piece of work, was in the form of a poster, which will be on display in Bude library during the month of October by kind agreement of the librarian.
We feel that this year’s competition has made a good contribution to raising awareness in the rising generation of the importance of the canal which is their heritage.
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Storm and Flood, 16th August 2004
had our share, in Bude, of the disastrous rainstorm and flooding which caused
such havoc in Boscastle and Crackington on 16th August. Both our lifeboat and
our main fire engine were called down to Boscastle, but luckily nobody here
needed rescuing, although the river was in furious spate and very nearly topped
the bridges. Standing on the lockhead around high tide in the evening, it was
clear that the fishing boats in the harbour were at serious risk from the torrent
bearing down on them, and sure enough one by one they began to be swamped. Altogether,
some nine boats finished up on the bottom full of sand, and another two were
swept out to sea and lost. The next day was spent on the beach digging them
out with the help of three excavators, and bringing the sorry remains back in
through the lock to safety. The flood also did a lot of damage at Helebridge,
where the basin was swamped and filled with debris, including someone’s
car. At least two of the cottages there were flooded to a depth of about 3 ft.
or more, walls collapsed and a thick layer of mud coated everything. Two of
the Sea King helicopters which had been rescuing people at Boscastle were diverted
to the aid of the cottages' occupants.
The old barge workshop which BCHS open to the public on behalf of the town council had water and mud everywhere, with the tub boat set adrift on its plinth to find itself a new position diagonally across the room. The council will be cleaning and disinfecting it so it should be open again next season.
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There have been two recent publications which are of particular interest to
anyone who has an interest in Bude.
1. "The Ketch Ceres" 1811-1936 by Charmina Astbury
2. "The Bude Canal" by Monica Ellis and Helen Harris
No 2 is a facsimile edition in the Cornish Library series published by West Country Books Ltd of Launceston. It is probably the best book on Bude Canal and a must for the enthusiast.
Both of these books are now part of BCHS's sales stock and available for members.
No.1 is £4.50 + 50p&p; No. 2 is £14.99 + £1 p&p.
Members who live in the EX23, EX22, PL32 & PL15 areas can receive purchases free of postage. Orders will be delivered to their address.
Please send orders to C. R. Jewell, 4a The Crescent, Bude, Cornwall EX23 8LE with cheque payable to Bude Canal & Harbour Society. Allow up to 28 days for delivery.
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You will find enclosed in this issue of The Tub Boat a copy of the revised "Way Forward", which is our publicity and membership application form.
The form now incorporates membership application, standing order mandate, and Gift Aid mandate in one A4 sheet.
If you have a family member or friend who is interested in the Bude Canal do please encourage them to join by passing on the "Way Forward" or even treat them to a year's subscription.
Please try to make use of the "Way Forward".
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We welcome the following new member who has joined since June: Miss L. E. Thomas, Carteret Road, Bude.
As many of you will realise, this is the time of the year when I have to remind you that subscriptions were due on 1st September for all members except those who joined after 1st May. Renewal forms (where appropriate) are included with this newsletter.
Members are encouraged to return the Standing Order Form to me as it is a more efficient method of payment for the society and avoids your renewal being overlooked.
Membership cards will automatically be sent to members who have already completed Standing Order Mandates. Can I also remind those members who are taxpayers and who have not completed a Gift Aid declaration that they can obtain a copy from the Treasurer or download from this site.
The Society has received an invitation from the Stratton & District Branch of the above to attend a display of the society's records in the Parkhouse Centre on Saturday 16th October 2004, from 9.30am - 4.30pm.
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Theoretical Construction of the Bude Canal Tub Boat
It is suggested that the first stage of construction of the Bude Tub boat was
undertaken upside-down. The two single piece, solid pine chine keelsons (also
referred to as chine keels or simply chines) roughly 0.25 x 0.25m square, were
laid on the ground and pre-shaped elm floor planking was then secured to the
chine keelsons. The planking was fastened by iron nails up to 0.3m in length,
driven from outboard through the thickness of the planks and into the chines.
*The elm floor planks (twenty-one in number) varied in width from 0.2-0.4m and
were c. 0.05m thick.
It is likely that at this stage the recesses to take the cast iron wheels were cut through the thickness of the floor planks and into the chine. Each recess would have housed a wheel originally some 14" in diameter *(now a little smaller 0.33m, just over 13" due to corrosion) in a hole some 0.2m in height from the bottom of the boat, c. 0.37m deep and c. 0.09m wide.
Two wrought iron straps or plates, supported the wheels and were placed either side of the wheel longitudinally, fastened in place by square headed iron nails that were driven from outboard through the floor planks and into the chines. A separate piece of timber was wedged between the strap and the lower chine on the external side of the wheel, the recess having cut through the floor planks at this point. Four cast iron wheels were installed in pairs in symmetrical positions 0.17m from either end of the boat.
The boat was then turned upright and the chine keelsons bevelled along their internal edges. series of rectangular holes were then cut into the chine keelsons, five down each side of the boat (ten in total) some 0.9-1.0m apart. The dimensions of these holes were c. 0.06 x 0.06 in plan at their base and c. 0.12m deep into the chine, some 0.04m in from the external edge of the chine. The holes were recesses for upright frames, *all ten are still in situ. The frames are preserved to varying heights, to a maximum height above the chine on the port side of c. 0.38m. The frames were secured in the recessed holes by roved iron nails driven horizontally from the outside of the chine keelson and roved against the inside of the chine.
Against the upper surface of the chine the frame was notched over the chine and hence its length extended internally to become 0.12 x 0.06 in plan. *The frames are believed to originally have been angled, becoming narrower at the top. These frames supported pine side planking that is partially preserved to a maximum height of c. 0.3m. The longitudinal side planks sat in a recess cut into the external edge of the chine keelson. They were fastened by iron nails driven from the outside of the boat through the thickness of the plank and into the supporting frame.
Four additional frames or posts were observed in each of the four corners of the boat. These were constructed in a similar way to the side frames but were larger, being 0.12 x 0.12 at their base. Planks were also attached to these four posts at either end of the boat, bow and stern. They were fastened directly to the floor planking by iron nails driven through the external thickness of the floors and vertically up into the end side planks. They were also secured by nails driven horizontally through the end planks and into the corner posts.
*At the designated stern end, two strakes of planking are still preserved. The height of the knees and frames, still standing proud above the extant planking, would indicate that an additional strake of planking would originally have formed a third strake all around the boat.
*The planking pattern on the side of the vessel at the bow and stem displays a somewhat curious feature. In all four corners an additional rectangular piece of plank, which could be described as a stealer or a patch, was nailed to the outside lower corner of the boat. The purpose for this was not entirely clear but it would appear that the chine had been cut entirely to the floor planks at this point, perhaps to accommodate a deep post. Hence it was necessary to add an additional piece of planking to the outside lower corner of the boat in order to secure the corner posts in place and provide a base for the planking above.
Finally, two internal standing knees were fitted extending longitudinally some 0.8m from the end planks at both the bow and the stem, in towards the centre of the boat. A series of roved iron nails driven from outboard through the end planks and floor planks and through the thickness of the frames, held the frames in place. *A number of wooden pegs that filled circular holes and half holes drilled into the side of the boat between the bottom of the chine and above the floor planking, were also identified and are believed to be bungs to that when removed would have helped drain the boat.
*No signs of caulking were identified although the gaps between the floor planks despite some inevitable shrinkage due to air drying, would indicate that at one time the boat was caulked. Bitumen was believed to have been used to seal the lower hull.
*Observations by Dr. Blue on the Tub Boat at Hele Bridge, Nr. Bude.
Dr. Lucy Blue
Centre for Maritime Archaeology - University of Southampton © 2004
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