No 41 Autumn 2007


Archive Project
Walking in the Rain
Virworthy View
Canal Day 2007
The Bude Canal Tub Boat
R.N.L.I. Weekend
Visit to Rolle Canal, September 2007
Bude Canal Regeneration Project Update
Membership Report
Bude Canal Map 1904

The Wreck of the Bencoolen 1862

Please use contents to click to a specific part of the newsletter - you can easily get back here again too!


The Explorer and Dasher - a pair of Naval training vessels which may revisit Bude when the Canal has been dredged




Archive Project

The application to 'Awards for All' for a grant to further develop our Archive has been refused. However, the Trustees have agreed that with careful planning and use of our own funds much of the planned project to be funded by the 'Awards for All' grant can be achieved over the next couple of years. In the coming months visits will be made to local Record Offices in Cornwall and Devon with a view to select the best items to be digitally copied for Bude Canal & Harbour Society's (BCHS) archive. Additionally, acid-free storage materials will be purchased to protect the 1820 letters purchased last year. Local sources will also be visited with a view to securing additional images, etc

.Bude Lower Canal Basin 1950

As part of the Archive Project the Society wrote a letter to the Bude & Stratton Post asking its readers if any of them had relevant material about the Bude Canal to consider allowing BCHS to borrow it and scan the items. Unfortunately, the response was not as encouraging as had been hoped. However, Mr D M Hines of Holsworthy had two items of interest, which we have borrowed and scanned. One was a postcard with a view from Falcon Bridge of the canal c. 1950 which shows the water level in the canal as being exceptionally low, and the other a photograph of a small vessel outside the sea lock showing a group of local men who had been fishing. This was taken in August 1933 and on display were sharks, large dogfish, and a large sunfish the group had caught.

Sailing boat with caught fish handing on show 1933

The occupants were all named except one man. This is where the photograph aroused a personal interest. The occupants of the boat were named left to right: A W Petherick, Alfred Hedley Hines, 18 yrs, Hedley Francis Hines, Robert Victor Hines, the unnamed man now identified as Les Hussey, and Orlando Jewell with his arm on the tiller, my great uncle. It is likely that the boat was his.
The plot thickens as it became obvious that Hedley Francis Hines, father of D M Hines, was the son of Capt H Hines of the 'Ant'. The 'Ant' was involved in the Great Blizzard of March 1891, when the cabin boy, John Stapleton aged 12 years died of exposure and was buried at sea. The mate of the 'Ant', John Jewell, was father of Orlando, my great grandfather, and father of Archie Jewell of the Titanic. Small world, isn't it? Chris Jewell

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 Walking in the Rain

Under an overclouded sky (no change) our almost full coach set out from Bude at 10.00am on Saturday 30th June on to the Atlantic Highway through mist and drizzle for Falmouth.
We passed through Camelford and St. Kew on to the A30 to Truro not stopping except for the traffic jam. As we arrived in Falmouth we passed a sign which was appropriate on that day - "Park and Float" (or ride). We had been told to meet at the Prince of Wales pier at 4.30pm for the 4.45 boat to Truro
.Editor and chairman braving the elements Falmouth dockyard en route for Truro
As we alighted in the busy High Street 'coffee' was the word on many lips. The Post Office is attached to a cafe - shared doorway - worth remembering.
Leaflets had been handed out on the coach containing information on the National Maritime Museum and Enterprise Boats and many people had a very interesting visit to the museum which has had many additional exhibits since the Society's last visit there. Others wandered in the drizzle, heavy showers, and mere cloud around the hilly town of Falmouth which is well-served with almost any type of shop, or charity shop, you could wish for. The Art Gallery had a 'Stuff Art' exhibition worth visiting: a cat climbing a wall, and crows made from a metal frame covered with straw and black bags and almost walking on the floor!
Bearing in mind our boarding instructions, another brief walk around the town after lunch and on to the Prince of Wales' pier where our boat 'Enterprise' was waiting. Falmouth is the third deepest natural harbour in the world and it was maybe the wettest trip to Truro that many of us have experienced. Jill White
(The saloon was crowded but Audrey and I, having our full wet gear with us, shared the upper open deck with four other intrepid souls for the interesting trip, which now has three other intermediate stops. In the coach I asked ladies to avert their eyes while I removed my (outer) trousers. I was surprised when two of them offered to help! Ed.)

The Castle, Bude
The Castle, which is now a refurbished building and houses the Heritage Centre, Local Archive, and educational facilities, is open to the public. BCHS has always supported the Town Council in this project and the Centre is well worth a visit. Enclosed is a flyer giving details of admissions. The Centre will be open from November to Easter, from 10 am to 4 pm., last admission 1 hour before closing. Chris Jewell

Check out the Town Council site for further information


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Virworthy View

The good late summer weather has given us time to catch up on jobs that were supposed to be done during May and June. The variable weather has had some effect on the flora. The blackberries have been small and lots of fruit did not form. The sloes also have been poor. Have you noticed how the British people are hell bent on raping the countryside. What hedgerow fruit has formed has been systematically taken by pickers. Not content with a few blackberries to make a pie but plundering the hedgerows to the extent of four/five pounds a time –as one visitor remarked. I did ask if they had left any for the birds! One woman was pulling down hazel branches and taking the nuts. Squirrels don’t make as much damage. I’m told foxes and badgers like blackberries. This may account for some animal droppings I noticed recently, which was almost Virworthy Turtle ! totally blackberries. This year the squirrels and mice should be all right for acorns. It looks like an unusually heavy crop. Nature does have its compensations.
Our turtle has survived the influx of visitors but he keeps his head down - wisely. We have seen an increase in visitors this year but the wildlife seems to be in decline. I’m not suggesting these are related! Not so many varieties of birds at the bird table this year. This was confirmed by the many bird watchers (twitchers) we have met. During one of my walks I did observe a beautiful example of a large Red Admiral butterfly. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. The footpath along the whole length from Virworthy Mill to Burmsdon Bridge has been almost impassable during the summer, because of the overgrown vegetation, but has now been rough cut.
Canal work boat on the feeder armClearing the vegetation from the canal basin, about a hundred yards from the Wharf, revealed an original workboat. These boats were used by workmen to keep the canal free of grass and weeds when the canal was used to convey water to the treatment works at Venn. Geoff Lowe

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Canal Day 2007

The best ever this year, again a collaboration with BSTC's Gurney Day but also incorporating the official opening of the newly refurbished castle and museum. A very big amount resulted from sales on our stall. There were several other stalls, the weather was fair and good crowds watched the steam and vintage vehicles, canoe polo, and enjoyed the music of Metric Brass, Bude Town Band,Society stall on the Castle grounds Bideford Youth Pipe Band and the 'Boscastle Busker'.

The Castle and museum were officially opened by Lord Tyler of Linkinholme and many people wandered around inspecting the exhibits and models. The gigboat 'Bedehaven' and another locked out later in the afternoon.

Our chairman, Audrey Wheatley, presented the BCHS shield to the winning canoe polo team, Penzance, with RNAS Culdrose a close second and Tim Browning presented the Falcon cup to Simon Allen, the winning angler, with Nick West, runner-up. Thanks are due to the few willing helpers and above all to Chris Jewell for his excellent organisation of the whole Day.

Simon Allen being presented with the Falcon Cup
Unfortunately, Carnival Day dawned wet and overcast and eventually it was decided not to erect our gazebo or to open the stall. Typically, the weather improved in the afternoon, too late for us. Ed.


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The Bude Canal Tub Boat

The tub boat owned by BSTC and kept at Barge Workshop, Helebridge has had some basic conservation work carried out recently. Tub Boat being sprayed in Barge workshop
On Thursday, 13 September 2007 Mr Richard Barnett, a marine conservator, attended the Barge
Workshop. The tub boat was brushed and hoovered to remove excessive dust, etc. It was then treated with a solution of boron, a natural mineral which is sudden death to bugs and infestations and will give continued protection to the wood.
Mr Barnett also secured some loose components on the boat and installed supports under the boat bottom boards to prevent sagging of some of them. There is some slight darkening of the wood. A job well done. Chris Jewell

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R.N.L.I. Weekend

We opened our stall in the Castle grounds on Saturday and, although business was slow we still made about the same amount of money as in previous years.

On the Sunday high tide, a Tamar Class lifeboat, one of the latest type 177, locked in and moored at the wharf where more than 1000 visitors were shown over the boat which is full of high tech equipment. On Monday she locked out on the high tide, about 5pm.

Visiting lifeboat leaving the sea lock

The gigs racing from Padstow were supposed to lock in on the same lock of water but, because of a strong head wind, none appeared until after the lifeboat had left. The lock, Breakwater Road, and the wharfside were all packed with visitors, more than I have seen in previous years. In the evening your committee enjoyed pasties and cyder or wine while we watched the firework display courtesy of Anne and David at No. 8 Breakwater Road. Ed.


Another Lifeboat
There must be others besides me for whom the sight of the Tamar Class lifeboat tied up alongside Lower Wharf dressed overall on 27 August evoked happy memories of a long time ago.

Visiting lifeboat moored in Lower Wharf 2007

As a small girl in the 1930s, not a resident of Bude but holidaying in my grandfather's Victoria Square house in Holsworthy and visiting Bude daily for "the seaside", I had the thrill of seeing the Padstow lifeboat dressed overall moor in Bude on Lifeboat Day. She locked in on the high tide and tied up at the wharf. When we saw her approaching the haven, we all galloped at top speed from Crooklets beach round Nanny Moore's bridge to the lock-side in the hope of being in time to see her lock in.
I have always supposed that the Padstow boat visited Bude on Lifeboat Day each year until the war, but childhood memories can be deceptive. Does anyone reading this know? Audrey Wheatley

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Visit to Rolle Canal, September 2007

After slight error twelve people arrived at Annery where Hilary Wills gave us a brief history of the lime kiln explaining how ships unloaded limestone into the river which was then manhandled to the kilns.
Her husband, Adrian, then joined us and led the walk along the route of the old Rolle Canal and later railway, now part of the Tarka Trail. The first major point was the inclined plane raising the canal some 40 feet (compare this to Hobbacott where the rise was 225 feet). Nearby is the site of the original wheel pit where some minor excavations had taken place. It was found that some damage to the vault had occurred when the railway lowered the level of the original canal route Walkers inspecting the retored bridgeby some 5 feet. Along the walk several examples of the former canal bed were clearly visible. From the former railway bridge we could see the Beam Aqueduct over the river Torridge which orignally carried the canal. A considerable part of the film 'Tarka the Otter' was made at this location. The Clinton estate undertook the restoration and clearance in 2000 of an original bridge over the canal together with a small portion of the canal and towpath.
We then went through the woods to Weare Gifford. A local landowner, Richard Oke, discovered the original 15th century bridge which he restored with help. The current new bridge is known as Chopes Bridge - the original was known as Jopes Bridge.
After a pleasant walk we arrived at the Cyder Presse pub where we lunched. After this we continued the walk through the village to Annery, on the way noting the original route of the canal clearly visible by the tree line. Crossing over Halfpenny Bridge (circa 1860), we arrived at our original starting point.
We were led along the former towpath, now adjacent to a row of cottages past two clearly defined basins. Before reaching the tidal lock we came across the former gravel barge Advance in the basin. I was very impressed and amazed by the work undertaken to restore the tidal lock. We were shown photographs of the area before restoration work began and of work in progress. The level of silt was at the top of the stonework when restoration began and some fifteen feet have since been dredged out. The Waterway Recovery Group have had work camps here helping Adrian to rebuild and repoint the lock walls. Due to prohibitive costs of replacing original granite, Adrian Restoration work on the sea lock at Anneryhad moulds made and cast replacements in concrete himself. It is worth noting that the lock was constructed only two years after Bude sea lock and the design was by the same engineer, James Green.
Adrian admits that the work he and Hilary have done has gone from a hobby to an obsession!
We were given more refreshments and the opportunity to acquire locally produced books and pamphlets on the Rolle Canal including Barry Hughes 'The Rolle Canal & the North Devon Lime Trade'. This was an excellent day which we should love to repeat. Don't forget the open day on 21st October. Ralph Daniel

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Bude Canal Regeneration Project Update


Since the last Tub Boat (No.40) the overspill car park has been completed. Work has commenced on providing the towpath underpass at Helebridge, Nr. Marhamchurch which will allow pedestrians to access the Helebridge Basin area without crossing the A 39.Widening bridge to provide footpath under the A39
Information panels have been erected at Helebridge and Lower Wharf to give information about the aims and intended work to be done on the canal. (It is a pity that the river is named as the Neet rather than its correct name, Strat. This is because the Ordnance Survey changed their maps in accordance with Mrs Ethel Jewell's claim and now will not change it again although they have since admitted her claim was wrong. Ed)

The following works are to start as dated: Work on Lower Wharf resurfacing with setts, 1 Oct; Construction of workshops on Barkhouse Green 22 Oct; Extension to Tourist Information Centre early in 2008;

Dredging upper reaches to upper basin subject to contract early 2008; Refurbishment of locks Feb/Mar 08; The work on towpaths etc will take place during 2008, subject to contract. The towpath at Helebridge will in due course be diverted on to the underpass being constructed.
At the Steering Group meeting on 19 September the chairman, Councillor Neil Burden, was pleased to announce that NCDC had agreed to provide £490,000 additional support fund to ensure the agreed project would be completed. This is to ensure dredging and repairs in the basins, technical support for project, repair of Burmsdon Aqueduct and the completion of the workshops. Additionally, the Council has acquired 20 acres of land adjacent to the river Neet at Whalesborough in the flood plain. They would be used for flood alleviation and developing a nature reserve with appropriate habitats. The District Council has acquired land at the base of the Marhamchurch inclined plane and are looking how to develop ideas for implementation in that area. To that end our Society has been asked to consider and develop a concept plan for this important site. The current state of this area is almost derelict and extensive work in clearance will be needed to implement the agreed scheme. Despite the effort that will be needed to develop a concept. It will be a pleasure to do so.
The key words are 'Keep it Simple' Hopefully, BCHS's ideas will be taken on board and accepted.
A report of our concept will be included in the next issue of The Tub Boat in January 2008. Chris Jewell


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Membership Report

We welcome the following new members who have joined since June:
Mr & Mrs W A Shingler, The Grosvenor, Summerleaze Crescent, Bude.
Mr A M Barnard, Poughill, Bude (life member)

As many of you realise this is the time of the year when I have to remind you that subscriptions were due on 1 September for all members except those who joined after 1 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. Thank you for your continued support. Mike Moore

old lifeboat house from east 1965 Old lifeboat house from the west 19654

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Bude Canal Map 1904

The eight maps and accompanying notes are now on our website - the maps are in PDF form and are very good to look at. Click for the 1904 map minisite to download maps, cover notes and replicated surveyors notes for each of the maps.
All of the eight maps are available in mounted format with the relevant notes for £8 in A4 size and £11 in A3 size. Contact me on 01288 352 298 or at 4a The Crescent, Bude, EX23 8LE with your order. Chris Jewell
(You will note that the map shows the river as "Strat"! Ed.)

The Wreck of the Bencoolen 1862

About midday on the above date, 145 years ago, the Bencoolen was observed driving ashore with all her masts gone except the small jury mast and one sail. Aiming for the mouth of the harbour she struck upon the sands and lay a helpless hulk before a large concourse of people powerless to help.
In five minutes the rocket apparatus was put to work; the first rocket fell short, the next failed. and after twenty minutes, due to a Board of Trade regulation that only two lines should be supplied to each station, the third fell over the ship where the despairing crew huddled on the poop. A man who rushed forward and clutched the line was washed overboard with it in his hand. A huge roller then broke over the apparatus rendering it useless.
An hour afterwards a raft with 25 men was washed clear of the wreck. Six men only were saved alive, two by means of the raft and four by swimming.
The danger attending the entrance of ships into the harbour, their only means of unshipping being to run in upon the sands and discharge the cargo as they lay, led to the building of the canal with its two basins.
From a "Picturesque Guide to North Cornwall" published by W S Cater & Co, Launceston in 1881.

Falcoln Hotel

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Forthcoming Events

Sat 8th Dec - St Andrew's Church Bazaar, Parkhouse Centre, Bude

Sun 16th Dec - Sherry & Mincepie Walk

This year our annual pre-Christmas walk will be similar to last year's but we will be reverting to our traditional arrangements when sherry will also be available at the Barge workshop.
We will meet at 11 am at Hobbacott lay-by just above Brook's Garden Centre on the right-hand side and then walk along the Planekeeper's Path, down Hobbacott inclined plane and continue via Cann Orchard and Marhamchurch to Helebridge and the Barge Workshop for the sherry and mincepies.
The total distance is about 3 miles. You can leave your car at Hobacott lay-by and we can arrange transport from Helebridge if required.
The cost is £3.60 per person including the walk, sherry and mincepies.
Betty Moore

Visiting lifeboat on Lifeboat Weekend 2007


Sun 24th Feb - Society AGM at Falcon Hotel, Bude


Tub Boat issue 42 will be available mid January 2008

copy for the next edition to be sent to The Editor, Tregea, Lower Upton, Bude Cornwall EX23 0LS 29th December 2007


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