No 34 Winter 2005/6


Voyage of Ocean Princess
Bude Canal Day
Bude Canal Regeneration Project
Intereg Walking Routes Project
Canal Exhibition
"Awards for All" Grants
Purchase of old documents
Virworthy View
School Competition
Glimpse of the Past
Visit to Bude Canal
The Mince Pie Walk 2005

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"Ocean Princess"nearing the sea lock gates at Bude

At the Parkhouse Centre in the evening of 18 October, James Griffin entertained us greatly with a continuation of the voyages of Ocean Princess. This time they travelled up to Scotland via Bangor in Ulster and across the Irish Sea to the Caledonian Canal, all illustrated with many slides of the marvellous scenery of Scotland and on the return via Douglas in the Isle of Man as well as harbours, moorings and the open sea.

"Ocean Princess" heading towards Bude

He showed us again with the help of his wonderfully detailed model of the narrow boat how it was modified for ocean travel. It was a great pity that such an interesting talk should have been heard by so few; only four were members of the public. Only seven entrance fees (at £2.50) were paid and a raffle at a pound a strip added another six pounds. With advertising, hire of hall, and fee to the speaker the Society suffered a big loss of funds in consequence. Ed.

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 Bude Canal Day 2006

Steaming forward to Bude Canal Day !

Bude Canal Day will be held on Sunday 6 August 2006, again in conjunction with 'Gurney Day' organised by Bude Stratton Town Council, The date chosen will allow the use of the sea lock at about 4.30pm. Efforts will be made to ensure some craft are available to lock into the canal. Further details in issue 35 in 2006.Musicians entertaining at Bude Canal Day

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Bude Canal Regeneration Project

The Development phase is in full swing with a mass of work being done by various companies as well as the Project Officer, Ian Mander, and his assistant, Andrea Vaillancourt-Alder. The development phase has to be completed by March 2006 so that the reports and work done can be submitted to the funders for consideration
of granting the funds to commence the implementation phase. Subject to that, the following 18-24 months will see a radical change take place along the canal, although mainly in the 2 mile section from Bude to Helebridge.
At present there are some issues with the Environment Agency over water abstraction from the canal and about flooding in the Helebridge area and these have to be resolved although there is goodwill between the Project and the Agency.
As part of the Development Phase all of you will have received at least one consultation form with a freepost return address. I hope you have been able to complete one copy and return it by post. If not, please reconsider. Your views are important and required. The forms need to be completed by 1 February and returned to the freepost address. You were sent the forms by the project team with your committee's blessing. I apologise if you had more than one form, a slight misunderstanding with the Asst. Project Officer. There is a positive attitude now about the project and all being well it will come to fruition and secure the canal for the next hundred years.
Report by Chris Jewell

Things are beginning to happen on the canal:
At each side of Rodds bridge a hole has been sunk to determine the depth of the bedrock; at Whalesborough the upper pound is being shut off to lower the level of
the middle pound with a view to dredging the lock. This has now been done at both locks. Ed.

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Resident otter on the Bude Canals

Intereg Walking Routes Project

The Canal and Coast footpath is continuing but the dream of a complete circular walk has stalled due to the difficult landowner at Burmsdon. The effect is as previously described, a shorter circular walk from Bude via Marhamchurch, Launcells, Stratton, and back to Bude. However, on that walk there will be direct access down the Hobbacott inclined plane and along the former towpath to Cann Orchard. The work on that important section should be ready by Easter 2006. A relevant leaflet will be available.
The Launceston arm route seems to have died the death as landowners where the former canal still exists have closed the door on negotiations about this walking route. This is very sad as the parishioners have no say in the matter and many of them support the concept of off-road paths, a facility that does not exist in several parishes in the Tamar valley.
Progress continues to be slow for similar walks in the Holsworthy area as described in issue 33 of The Tub Boat. One bit of good news is that whereas this project was due to come to an end in 2006, there is a move to extend the period for completion which gives more time for implementation. A decision from Europe is awaited.

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Canal Exhibitions

On the 19/20 November 2005 a canal exhibition entitled "The Hidden History" about the canal but which featured a display of photographs and artefacts relating mainly to the tub boat canal, was held in the Parkhouse Centre, Bude. It was very well attended on both days and raised awareness of this 'hidden history' which was the object of the exercise. The exhibition also featured a display and information about the canal project and, in particular, the walking routes project. The event was organised by NCDC in conjunction with our Society and Bude Canal Trust.Bude Canal Exhibition - the hidden history

L-R - Gerald Fry, Andrea Vaillancourt-Alder, Tim Dingle, Chris Jewell, David Phillips - Photo Paul Hamlyn

On the Saturday the exhibition was visited by three authors of books on the Bude Canal: Bill Young of Stratton, Joan Rendle of Werrington, and Helen Harris of Tavistock. Thanks to Bude Stratton Town Council and Bude-Stratton Old Cornwall Society for the loan of photographs. Since then the exhibition has visited Boyton where it was well received. It is planned to take the exhibition to Chilsworthy on 17 January 2006 and Grimscott on 20 January. Both sessions will be open from 4 to 8 pm. On 21 January at the Parkhouse Centre there will be 'meet the designers day' when the proposed ideas for work on the canal will be on display. The Canal Exhibition will be at that event also. All these events will have local publicity in January 2006.

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"Awards for All" grants

The Society has applied to 'Awards for All' lottery fund for grant to:
i) copy the remaining plans of the canal from Bude to Tamar Lake, circa 1904 and then make copies available to Budehaven Community School and Bude Stratton Old Cornwall Society.
ii) establish a portable archive unit for use at events and to visit remote areas to educate the public, particularly older and disadvantaged people.
Bude Stratton Town Council have earmarked £300 towards the cost and BCHS will use £240 from its Educational Fund with, hopefully, 'Awards for All' giving a grant to cover the balance. The total cost of the project is £1,765. It is hoped that part of the archive will be a display based on the canal exhibition as mentioned previously. 'Awards for All' have indicated that a decision should be made by early January 2006.

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Purchase of old documents

Recently the Society purchased a quantity of correspondence from the 1820s relating to Bude Canal. It is mainly about disputes over land, acquisition of land and the like. The letters are all reasonably legible but have yet to be studied and possibly catalogued. Any interesting letters will in due course be printed in future issues of 'The Tub Boat'.
The above four items supplied by Chris Jewell

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Bude lower basin with a wintry coating of snow - unusual!

Virworthy View

Did you know that a rare fungus called Hypocreopsis rhododendri (known also as hazel gloves) is found in only two areas in Britain, one in western Scotland and the other in Devon - in fact at Virworthy, according to Dr A Martyn Ainsworth from Windsor who has written an English Nature Research Report on the subject. I met Dr Ainsworth one day on my walk along the towpath. He was jubilant and clutching a piece of dead hazel on which he had identified the said fungus. He showed me the sample before he carefully ensconced it in a phial. I now know what it looks like and have endeavoured to find some myself - without success to date!
Work on repairing the spillway at the Wharf has been completed, beating the rain by one day! A reasonably dry period allowed a caisson to be constructed for the concrete, some seven cubic metres of it. The small amount of water running down during the groundwork was easily diverted and the small residue was pumped away.

Virworthy towpath, looking towards Bude

Having a small digger on site, the opportunity to clean out part of the Wharf basin was too good to miss. We can now see clear water and with the new gate in situ the view from the road has been transformed.
Since being repaired there has been a tremendous amount of water cascading over the spillway, which means there is a depth of some four feet at this point. With water now in the upper part of the canal the ducks are in their element. The geese are still cautious of going down the banks, but given time....
The snow on 25th of November gave the whole area a magical look with four to five inches of snow on the trees and fences - a real picture postcard look. Needless to say no traffic came down the lane that day. We did manage to get out the following day though.
Is this a taste of winter to come?
Geoff Lowe


School Competition

For the third year running, HBH Woolacotts and the Bude Canal and Harbour Society teamed up with Budehaven Community School‘s History Department for the Year 8 Bude Canal Competition. Entrants were asked to prepare a poster to be used as publicity for the annual day of activities celebrating both Bude Canal and Sir Goldsworthy Gurney. The overall winner was Charlie Rudman with Sophie Thorne, second was Jenny Hicks and third Beth Middleton. Budehaven’s History Department thank HBH Woolacotts and Bude Canal and Harbour Society for their generous prize money.
Jane Addy Budehaven Community School History Dept.
Budehaven Community School - Canal competition winners 2005

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Glimpse of the Past

Bryan Dudley Stamp has kindly given me sight of the 1905 version of the 1904 Official Guide to Bude. It was truly another world, "noted for mild and balmy breezes, the purest water, and an equable climate." The Boer War had been over for three years and two world wars were an undreamt of horror in the distant future. "Where the River Strat joins the sea by Cobbledicks and Thorne's bridges or where the canal ends in locks and trading wharves Bude Haven has sprung up, a delightful holiday resort with no marine parades or endless squares but a harbour of refuge on an otherwise merciless coast". There was a men's bathing place in the harbour, a place for ladies at Crooklets and between the two mixed bathing was permitted. "At low tide Sir Thomas' Pit at the end of the breakwater is reserved for gentlemen, and is delightful for diving or swimming". The Golf links had 18 holes for men and 9 for ladies.
Postal deliveries were at 7.15 and 11.50 am and 6.20pm; a single 1st class train fare cost 38 shillings (£1.18s), second class 23s/9d (£1.3s.9d) and third class 19s. Another world indeed.
The Bude Canal "where sailing ships discharge their cargoes in the old-fashioned way, owes its existence to the value of the sea-sand so largely composed of the detritus of sea-shells that it contains no less than seventy-eight per cent of carbonate of lime, an ingredient of the highest value for wheat lands."
Follows a detailed and accurate description of the working of the inclined planes. An interesting point is that having described the emptying of the bucket in the well at Hobbacott by a stake raising a plug, it adds that "in case of accident to the machinery, the water can at any time be emptied in one minute through the valves with which a chain communicates; this chain being ingeniously made to wind and unwind as the buckets ascend and descend, so as to be always of the proper length." It finishes, "Alas! as many of the wheatlands of old England have gone out of cultivation, so the old canal has fallen into desuetude, but it crops up continually in our walks round Bude and Stratton, sometimes over our heads and sometimes beneath our feet." The orotund prose betokens a slower-moving more restful time.

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"Su-Jean" with the gig "Unity" in Bude Canal

Visit to Bude Canal

By popular request the Rolle Canal and Northern Devon Waterways Society have asked for another guided visit to the Bude Canal. This will take place on Saturday 8th April 2006. Meet at Lower Wharf outside the Library at 10 am. Cost will be £2.50 adult, children under 16 £1 each. Lunch will be at 12.30pm at the Falcon Hotel, Bude.
The afternoon session will start at 2 pm and visit Helebridge, Hobbacott inclined plane, Merrifield wheelpit and Virworthy Wharf. The visit will end between 5pm and 6 pm. Please wear suitable clothing and footwear. If coming with friends reduce the number of vehicles used where possible. Please notify me of how many and whether you want to take your lunch at the Falcon Hotel. I need to know by 25 March 2006 to finalise details with landowners, Falcon Hotel, and for level of supervision. Contact me on 01288 352298 or email on

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The Mince Pie Walk 2005

The weather, on the Sunday before Christmas, was ideal for the walk; not too cold, not too windy and it was dry: all in all, just the ticket. Six stalwarts plus one dog of large stone/small boulder carrying fame, gathered at the sea lock at the appointed hour and set course for Helebridge and the Barge Workshop.
The conditions underfoot were kind and good progress was maintained. En-route the group was able to pause and observe the various exploratory work that is taking
place at present along the canal in conjunction with, and as a prelude to, the Regeneration Project. The two inland locks, Rodd’s Bridge & Whalesborough, had been drained and dredged so that their condition could be ascertained more clearly and a better understanding of the restoration work acquired. Work also is being undertaken at Helebridge on the Atlantic Highway road bridge (A39) at present and when completed, the canal and towpath should, once again, go under the road.
At last the Barge Workshop was reached and the group was able to meet others who had gone straight there, to view the tub boat which is on display and to partake of some much needed refreshment and to chat about all things 'canal'.
Another very enjoyable walk and a good way to prepare for the coming festivities. Well done to all who walked and thanks to everyone who contributed to the occasion by providing the food and drink, especially Wendy Hutson who provided sherry freely to any who wished. All in all, a very enjoyable occasion.
David Phillips

Members and Friends at the Barge Workshop for the traditional Bude Mince Pie Walkback to contents

Membership Report

We welcome the following new members who have joined since September:
Mr G Smith, Northam, Bideford
Mr M Degnan, Poughill, Bude (Life Member)
Mr & Mrs A Bushill, Pickard Way, Bude

Membership Renewal
Many thanks to those members who have already renewed their subscription for 2005/2006 and particularly to those who have given additional donations. However, some members have still not renewed. Will they please complete the enclosed renewal form by return to maintain their support for the Bude Canal & Harbour Society and receive future newsletters.
Remember that only fully paid up members can vote at the AGM in March.You can help us reduce costs by using the Standing Order Mandate attached to the renewal form.
Mike Moore

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Tub Boat issue 35 will be available in April 2006

copy for the next edition should be sent to The Editor, Tregea, Lower Upton, Bude Cornwall EX23 0LS 29th March 2006