Bude Harbour and Canal Co. - Byelaws
Mrs Mary MacMahon recently
gave to the Society a copy of a poster showing relevant byelaws laid down
by the Canal Company at their General Assembly held at the New London
Inn, Exeter on Wednesday May 2nd, 1821.
The byelaws covered almost all eventualities in the use of the canal and
harbour by persons or vessels, e.g. an offence such as , Byelaw VIII;
"Improperly moored vessels." fine £5; Byelaw XXIX, "Riding
on towpath", fine £5; Byelaw XLVI "Bathing naked in the
harbour or canal", fine £5.
An interesting byelaw is No XXXVIII - "for putting down head or tail
cloughs otherwise than with a handling or carelessly", fine £5."
What are "cloughs" and "handlings"? Possibly a "clough"
is a paddle in the locks and "handling" the device for winding
the "clough" or paddle.
The maximum fine for breaches of byelaws is £50. One of these is
for failing to report arrival of vessel at the harbour to HM Customs within
48 hrs and failing within 60 hours to deliver a true copy of the manifest
to the company's office.
The most serious offence listed is "wilfully and maliciously damaging
any banks or other works of the canal and harbour".
That is listed as a felony and would have been triable at the Assizes
and, bearing in mind the period these offences relate to, could have resulted
on conviction to possible execution or transportation to the colonies.
All other offences would have been heard before a Justice of the Peace
for the county and when proved, the fine to be recovered by distress and
sale of the goods and chattels of the offender; and for the want of sufficient
distress the offender could, and probably would, have been committed to
the common gaol or House of Correction for a period not exceeding of 6
As an observation it makes me wonder whether we are going forwards or
backwards these days with crime and punishment, when you consider the
terrible occurrences which seemingly attract little or reduced sentences.
This document has been photocopied and laminated as the original is quite
fragile. If you wish to examine the copy please contact me at my home
address on 01288 352 298.
Annual General Meeting
Audrey Wheatley, welcomed a packed hall of members and visitors to the
5th AGM of the Society at the Falcon Hotel, Bude on Sunday 12th March
The Chairman and then the Secretary reviewed what they both described
as a very full year for the Society. The subjects covered ranged from
the Society's support for the Bude Canal Regeneration scheme to a very
successful Canal Day in 2005.
Three members of the committee retired by rotation: Betty Moore, Jill
White, and Stan Noakes. The first two were re-elected whilst Stan Noakes
had expressed the desire to stand down from the committee. He was warmly
thanked for his services as chairman and a member of the committee.
After the business Tim Dingle, NCDC Countryside Officer outlined the progress
being made with the Interreg path project of the regeneration scheme.
He announced that two new path sections would be opened before Easter
and that leaflets on these would soon be available.
Ian Mander, Regeneration Project Manager, then gave a talk on the "Progess
of the Project" which he said was coming along well. The development
phase was drawing to a close after which a further bid for funding would
Bryan Dudley Stamp
General Meeting - Treasurer's Report
The balances for the Society's accounts as at 31 December 2005 are as
Account 1 £1,751.58
Account 2 Educational Fund £ 507.51
Account 3 Project Fund £2,020.86
Account 4 Canal Day £ 403.71
All the accounts operate well and reflect the continued support of our
members and the consistent hard work put into our fund-raising activities.
The most successful form of fundraising is the sale of donated and second-hand
goods which over the last 5 years has raised hundreds of pounds for the
Society. This activity and all other events are supervised by Betty Moore,
our events secretary. Our thanks to you for your continuing efforts.
All donations are gratefully received and fund the Educational Fund in
Account 2. The maintenance of our popular website is funded by this account
as well as other educational matters.
Account 3 holds monies set aside for projects. Of the £2,020.86,
£1,000 is pledged to the Canal Regeneration Project. The balance
of £1,020.86 is available for a contribution to the cost of stabilising
work on the tub boat which is still to be done.
Account 4 is used to run Bude Canal Day which will be held on 6th August
2006. The balance of £403.71 may need to be 'topped-up' to ensure
Canal Day is effective and enjoyable.
As at 28 February 2006 this was as follows:-
Total number of memberships incl. Life members 128
Total number of members incl. Life members 141
Total number of life members 20
has been successful with its bid for a grant having received in February
2006 the amount requested, £1,225, towards the archive project.
The balance of £540 needed is covered by a grant from Bude Stratton
Town Council of £300 and £240 from BCHS's Educational Fund.
The project will see the remaining six 1904 Bude Canal Maps copied and
made available for easy access by the public and the establishing of a
mobile archive unit based on the 'Hidden History' exhibition in November
2005. The archive will then be actively taken on tour around the Bude
district to allow better access to elderly and disadvantaged people.
It is hoped the whole project will be complete and in place by 6th August
2006 - Canal Day. Full sets
of the maps and notes will be presented to Bude Stratton Town Council,
Bude Stratton & District Old Cornwall Society and Budehaven School.
The whole set of maps and notes will be available (at a cost to be decided)
in A4 format and bound.
Finally, the Treasurer thanked Mike Moore for his support, John Harris
who examines the accounts,
and his fellow trustees and members who work for the benefit of the Society
and the Bude Canal.
Any member who would like a copy of the accounts should contact me.
In the last issue of The Tub Boat, No.34, you will have noticed there
were a couple of lines missing from Virworthy View between pages 6 and
7. The Editor has apologised for the omission but the missing lines were
"….by one day! A reasonable dry period allowed a caisson to
be constructed for the concrete, some seven cubic metres of it. The small
amount of water running down.…" Does it make more sense now?
This time of the year there is little to report. The countryside is very
drab and wet. I don't think I have seen the towpath so muddy and with
standing water. Perhaps this is a penalty for having more people tramping
along it. Talking of people one day at the lake end of the path I encountered
two men installing what they referred to as a 'People Counter'. It is
the size of a gatepost, some nine inches square and four feet high. Apparently
there is a thermal electronic eye in it to count the passing people!!
I understand these are being installed on many of the 'Walks' in Devon.
I wonder who wants to know.
I did observe frogspawn on the 14th of February, which I thought was a
little early and it doesn't seem to have developed. Perhaps there is too
much running water. The frog population last year was very sparse.
Our young Peafowl have now been given the freedom of the garden to familiarise
themselves with their surroundings. Hopefully they will stay around with
the others. There is always a danger with foxes too. In fact I came home
one night recently to find four chickens dead. It must be the same fox
the dogs often chase on our morning walks; perhaps he is getting his own
Train and Boat Trip Special Event
Saturday 22nd July 2006
The society is planning a visit to Paignton for a trip on a steam train
to Kingswear; then a ferry to Dartmouth where there will be time for lunch
and an opportunity to explore (or shop!). We then board a river boat to
Totnes along the River Dart at 4.30pm, taking in views of the Britannia
Royal Naval College, Sir Walter Raleigh's boat house, the estate of the
late Dame Agatha Christie, and numerous other interesting views.
The combined fares will be:
Adult £20.00; Over 60 £19.00; Children (under 15) £11.50
If you are interested please complete the enclosed booking form and return
with your payment by 15th June. Please make cheques payable to "Bude
Canal & Harbour Society".
The coach will leave Bude Crescent car park at 9.00am and will leave Totnes
for Bude at approximately 6.30pm.
This is sure to be a very popular trip so book early
to avoid disappointment and bring a few friends to enjoy the river too
and to have a super full day out.
the following new members who have joined since December:
Mr & Mrs M A Godfrey, Pyworthy, Devon.
Mr & Mrs T Martin, Poughill, Bude.
The level of membership renewals this year has been excellent with a number
of the renewals being by standing order, which helps to keep down our
admin costs. However, five members have still not renewed their subscriptions.
I urge them to do so, otherwise they will not receive any further copies
of "The Tub Boat".
in Well Working
the years there has been much speculation about the working of the chains
and gearing to the buckets in the wells at Hobbacott inclined plane. Barry
Hughes has sent us this account of how he thinks the system worked.
No original drawings of the machinery which worked the incline have as
yet been found. I have therefore, attempted to calculate the workings
from the remaining evidence of the incline and canal basins, two rather
indistinct but vitally important photographs of the headgear machinery
taken in about 1870, contemporary engineers' reports on problems encountered
with working the incline & machinery breakdowns and maintenance and
the known dimensions of buckets, shafts, tub boats, cargoes, chain sizes,
etc. Measurements taken from the photographs are based on the known width
of the upper basin below the headgear and the width of tub boats and the
channels by which they were directed on to the incline.
The incline was equipped with two sets of cast iron, trough type rails
in which the 14inch diameter wheels ran. Boats were pulled up the left
hand side and descended on the right, viewed from the foot of the incline.
They were pulled up and lowered on a continuous chain about 2070 feet
long made up of 1 inch diameter wrought iron bar which circulated the
headgear, the inclines, and the large revolving wheels at the base of
the incline. The chain was driven from the top of the incline where it
was wrapped around two 14 ft diameter winding wheels set 18ft apart in
a massive timber framework. These wheels revolved independently and the
chain was redirected between them by two 6ft diameter pulley wheels set
at right angles to the winding wheels. They also acted as tensioners for
the whole chain and were probably set on a pivoted weighted frame which
could move and so dampen the effects of sudden strain when loaded tub
boats were hooked on or unhooked. The tensioning was also important as
the drive for the chain was imparted by friction from the powered head
wheels. At the bottom of the incline the chain revolved around an 18ft
diameter wheel set horizontally on a central pier in the lower canal basin.
The bucket machinery apparently worked in this way: the two bucket shafts
were situated on either side of the upper basin at the top of the incline.
They were slightly offset to allow for the diameter of the winding drums
on which the buckets were raised and lowered.
The shafts were known as the North Pit and East Pit. A steam engine of
16hp was later sited near the top of the north pit to drive the machinery
when breakdowns prevented the buckets from working the inclines. The pits
were 10ft in diameter and 225ft deep. An adit drained water from the base
of the pits into the lower canal basin at the foot of the incline. The
buckets were of wrought iron 9ft 6ins diameter and 5ft 6ins deep. The
base of the buckets had a central hole fitted with a self-acting plug
which was pushed open when the bucket landed at the bottom of the shaft.
A chain wrapped around the winding drum enabled the plug to be pulled
from the top of the shaft to empty the bucket in the event of an accident
to the machinery. Each bucket could hold 390 cu.ft of water weighing 10.87
tons They were each suspended from the 10ft diameter winding drums by
two chains forged from 1 in dia. wrought iron. A space below each drum
was needed so that the buckets could be removed for repair and a spare
bucket was kept as a standby.
wonderful drawing is by Barry D Hughes - you can download a larger
by clicking here but please always acknowledge Bary's copyright
It is probable that the two chain drums were constantly linked by a shaft
across the top of the incline as the descending bucket, whilst powering
the incline, also wound up the empty bucket in the opposite chaft. One
of the problems inherent in the falling bucket system for driving the
incline chain was that the full bucket at the start of its descent had
to overcome the inertia of eight tons of stationary incline chain plus
starting a loaded tub boat weighing about 5 tons on to the slope at the
bottom of the incline and in addition starting to wind the empty bucket
plus its two fully extended chains up from the bottom of the opposite
shaft. Calculations suggest that the power available at the start of the
descent would have been only just sufficient to start two loaded tub boats
but ample if only one at a time was hauled up, as was the usual practice.
As the full bucket descended, the weight of its own chain would add to
its power, while at the same time the weight of the empty bucket's chain
would be decreasing as it was wound up on to its drum. The machine would
therefore tend to accelerate. To counter this, the lower end of the incline
seems to have started out at a slope of about one in five and the upper
end, where the power would have been greatest seems to be steeper, about
one in three and a half with an average in between of one in four. This
may have been Green's design to cope with the power change or it may be
due to later subsidence of the incline. I tend to think it was the former.
An efficient brake would have been needed to control the final descent
of the bucket so as not to damage the self-acting plug when the load of
the tub boats was released as they crossed over the upper sill into the
upper pound. One bucket descending would have been sufficient to haul
up just over half the length of the endless chain and pull two loaded
tub boats up the whole length of the incline. To do this a gear train
between the bucket drum and the headgear wheel would have required one
revolution of the bucket drum to turn the headgear chain wheel three &
three quarter turns.
Using contemporary calculations (1856) on the strength of chains, those
used should have been adequate but later safe loading figures (1897) show
that the chains were just on the border line for safe working. As most
of the problems with this incline were caused by chains breaking it seems
that Green was over-optimistic in his expectations for chains manufactured
in the early years of the 19th century.
As the endless chain was always worked in one direction - clockwise when
viewed from above - the gearing of the headgear had to be reversed at
the end of each bucket descent. The existing photographs are not distinct
enough to show this gearing but a gear wheel of about 5ft dia. seems to
be fitted to the outer ends of the main chain wheel drive shafts. Some
form of clutch mechanism, possibly of the type illustrated by Fulton in
1796, would have been needed to disengage one of the headgear chain wheels
and allow it to freewheel as the opposite chain wheel imparted power to
the incline chain. The bridge, clearly seen in the photographs would have
enabled the incline keeper to cross the upper basin to work the sluices,
clutch levers, and brake levers of the opposing sets of bucket machinery.
It is not surprising that the canal company made strict rules that only
the incline keeper was allowed to operate the machinery.
The method of working could have been as follows:
Situation: both buckets empty, one at the top of its shaft, one at the
bottom of the other. A loaded tub boat at the bottom of the inclined plane.
1. Engage brake on the drum holding the empty upper bucket so that it
2. Engage gear train connecting the upper bucket drum to the headgear
chain wheel by sliding it along the shaft.
3. Ensure the lower bucket drum is disengaged from the headgear and that
its brake is off.
4. Open the sluice to fill the upper bucket with water.
5. Signal the boatman at the bottom of the incline to hook the tub boat
on to the endless chain.
6. When boatman signals this has been done, gradually release the brake
to take up all the slack in the incline chain and start to pull the tub
boat on to the incline.
7. Stand by the brake and start to apply it gently as the descending bucket
passes the halfway mark.
8. As the tub boat crosses the upper sill to float free in the upper basin
apply the brake to ease the descending bucket on to the plug release spike
at the base of the shaft and let the water out. The brake can then be
released as the weight of the bucket chain will hold the opposite empty
bucket at the top of its shaft.
9. Disengage the chain wheel gearing and cross over the bridge to work
the machinery of the opposite shaft as above.
If, due to breakdown, only one bucket shaft could be used, the steam engine
could be used to wind up the empty bucket. The steam engine may have been
originally installed to lift spoil and water from the shafts as they were
being constructed and then retained to provide a back-up power service.
NB The headgear and machinery of the water wheel powered inclines was
Barry Hughes, Northam
to the above, Bryan Dudley Stamp has drawn my attention to a Bude Rambling
Booklet circa 1930 containing an article by Arthur A Isaac, a Bude chemist,
which helps to make clearer the method of hooking the tub boats on to
the endless chain. He says: "...at the bottom of the (Marhamchurch)
plane were two great chain wheels, mounted on heavy baulks of timber,
forming a frame with the great chain-wheels overhead. These wheels were
grooved around the periphery to carry the heavy chain, the diameter of
the wheels being great enough to allow the chains to run in the centre
of the tracks on which the boats travelled". He goes on to say that
a man standing on the central pier between the two channels at the bottom
of the plane used a boat hook to ".... guide the boat under the great
chain which fell into an iron-bound V groove fitted in the bow to receive
it. As soon as the chain caught in the front V the boat was propelled
up the incline on to the rails of the plane and the chain lay along the
centre of the boat, catching another of its links in the V at the stern
of the boat." He adds that there were two 24 inch "jockey"
pulleys with similarly grooved rims to take the weight of the sagging
chains as they approached and left the great wheels and fell on the sleeves
or rollers in the centre of each track. It appears there was only one
great wheel at the bottom of Hobbacott inclined plane. Ed.
photos of Bude Canal
These photos were sent via our web site by Mick Thorp, a former resident
of Bude, for which we thank him.
1. A coloured postcard published by Dearden and Wade is of the canal in
1957 at the time of a drought. The low water caused the Fire Brigade to
stop doing their practice on Tuesdays because of it. The young man holding
the boathook is Mick Thorp who used to help the Cook Brothers hiring out
2. These three photos show the sea lock when repairs were carried out
on the outer gates and a new balance beam was fitted.
BCHS also has some slides donated by Peter Truscott of these works.
note - please read ther est of the newsletter to see some more wonderful
Country Embroiderer's Exhibition
In November 2005 I was approached by the West Country Embroiderers group
who meet each Wednesday at the Parkhouse Centre and asked if I had any
photographs of Bude Canal between Breakwater and Helebridge basin which
they could borrow and use as the basis of a series of embroidered panels
based on the Bude Canal. I was able to oblige and let them have several
hundred photographs that I have taken of the canal over the past 10 years.
I understand that their work will be displayed in the Central Methodist
Hall for the week 28th August to 2nd September 2006. I am sure that it
will be worth visiting as those embroideries are very well executed.
In March 1906 the new Falcon (swing) bridge was taken over from the contractors
by the Urban Council, tested, and opened to the public. (Bude & Stratton
March 31st 1906: The schooner ‘Anne Davey’ collided with a
foreign steamer near Bude on Friday night. Fortunately, there was not
much damage and she returned to Mr Stapleton’s shipyard for repairs
by the next tide.
Reproduced by kind permission of the Cornish & Devon Post
The winter edition of The Lifeboat, the RNLI magazine, contains a "Peep
into the Past" item recording a rescue in 1906 by the Wexford lifeboat.
A ship had been seen signalling for help off the notoriously dangerous
Dogger Bank. The report reads, 'The lifeboat went alongside the vessel,
which proved to be the ketch "Elizabeth" of Bude, and succeeded
in rescuing the crew of three hands together with their dog and landed
them at the lifeboat station.' Ed.
In issue 32 of "The Tub Boat", the report of the walking routes
project including the Aqueduct section, the term PROW (Public Right of
Way) was used. The correct term should be "public footpath".
Whilst a "public footpath" is a public right of way, it has
a specific usage described as "being intended for pedestrians and
their natural accompaniments only". Please note this correction and
its implications. BCHS apologizes for the misunderstanding.
In issue 33 of "The Tub Boat", "Ocean Princess", the
credits given for the two photographs are incorrect. They should read,
"Harry McConville, RNLI Bude", and not as shown.
Apology: In making up the last edition of "The Tub Boat", two
lines were unfortunately omitted from "Virworthy View". See
this edition of the View.
8th April - Rolle Canal Society visit
30th April/1st May - Model Boat Festival at Bude Rugby Club
22nd July - Train & Boat Trip Special event. 9.00am Bude Crescent
6th August - Canal Day
19th August - Bude Carnival
26th/27th August - Bude Lifeboat weekend
28th Aug/2nd Sept - West Country Embroideries Exhibition
Boat issue 36 will be available in Summer 2006
for the next edition should be sent to The Editor, Tregea, Lower Upton,
Bude Cornwall EX23 0LS 29th March 2006