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 12 December 2020

A sense of direction for
the road map


Dear <<First Name>>

Exeter Canal and Quay Trust (ECQT) has backed the Friends' proposal for a 'road map' for the reinvigoration of the canal and basin by setting up a working group to develop a common purpose.

The group will bring together representatives of the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal, the City Council and Port Authority, and the Trust to consider the form a road map for the future would take.

Making The Canal Matter Again to Exeter—the Friends' outline for a revival plan—has attracted wide approval at the same time.

I attended the Trust's meeting last Monday (7 December) and put the case. Our suggestion is for a consultant to be engaged to develop a route map for making the most of the canal's recent Heritage Harbour designation, and for stimulating a maritime and heritage revival of the area. The study would be funded by the Trust.

The Friends have urged the various public bodies involved to join together, and with stakeholders, to work on common objectives. Grahame Forshaw, the Harbour Master, agreed at the meeting that it would be beneficial for all parties to work together.

The working group is an excellent outcome. The project will knit together the aims of the different bodies and focus attention on a cohesive and workable plan. It will bring some immediate wins as well as a long-term outlook. We have in mind an experienced consultant with a successful record of achieving active maritime and heritage renewal of the kind that Exeter's waterways need. 

Our ideas for the future, that are set out in Making The Canal Matter Again, have been welcomed not only locally but also within the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), the Maritime Heritage Trust and elsewhere.

The interesting photograph at the top of the newsletter is of a vessel called Bertha outside the Exeter Maritime Museum warehouses in the mid-1970s.

Friends committee member Ray Alexander writes: Bertha was the scraper dredger at Bridgwater Docks from when the Docks opened in the 1840s until the late 1960s when the Docks closed to shipping. She moved up and down the inner basin of the Docks stirring up the silt brought in by visiting ships. The silt was then flushed from the inner basin to the outer, tidal, basin using water from the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal and was subsequently flushed into the River Parrett using sluices around the edges of the outer basin.
Bertha subsequently found her way to Exeter and was part of the Maritime Museum collection until that closed in the 1990s.  Thereafter she moved to Eyemouth but is now at Sharpness Docks having been acquired by the SS Great Britain Trust, which has plans for her restoration.

Cycle count
Ray, who also chairs the West Country Branch of the IWA, spent some of his time over September and October sitting in his car counting cyclists. He explains:
The Friends of Exeter Ship Canal are supporting proposals by Devon County Council to replace the existing A379 bridges across the Exeter Ship Canal with new moveable bridges. We lobbied the County Council for the height of the bridges to be raised to enable cyclists, pedestrians and boats up to a certain size to pass under the bridges. Larger boats would continue to need the bridges to be opened.  
The principal purpose of the cycle count was to provide a broad indication of the number of cycles currently crossing the four-lane dual carriageway at Bridge Road. The results give an estimate of the number of cycles that would no longer need to cross if the canal bridges are rebuilt at a raised level which is sufficient to enable cyclists to pass under the bridges using a new towpath/cycle path.  
The cycle count was carried out on five separate 1-hour occasions in September and October. September was largely dry and warm; however, the final count was undertaken after the weather changed and also later in the day, which is reflected in the outcome.  The results are summarised below and have been passed to Devon County Council and Exeter City Council.  
Day and date of count Time No. of cycles
Wednesday 2 September 1110 – 1210  108
Thursday 10 September 1220 – 1320  107
Thursday 17 September 0950 – 1050 87
Saturday 19 September 1420 – 1520 208
Monday 2 October 1630 – 1730  43
A big thank you to you all for your staunch support for the Friends over the past year. 2020 is ending for us on a better note than expected! Please keep supporting us and encourage your friends and neighbours to join the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal. This is really important. On the brink of so much we need to increase our membership to keep going.

Do take care and keep yourself and others safe over Christmas. I wish you all the good wishes of the season and a happy new year. I hope we can get together at a canal event soon.

With all best wishes

John Monks
Friends of Exeter Ship Canal
01392 493559


The Transport Trust recently awarded a prestigious Red Wheel to Exeter Ship Canal. The wording on the plaque states:

Opened 1566 and later extended.
The first canal to be built in Britain since Roman times and the first to use Pound Locks
The Transport Trust, established in the 1960s, promotes and encourages the preservation and restoration of Britain's transport heritage in all its forms—road, rail, wings and water.


We are always keen to welcome new members who are supporters of the canal. If you know anyone who may be interested please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.

Membership is:
Individual – £8 a year
Family – £15 a year
Lifetime – £100

Corporate or business membership can also be arranged.
For all membership enquiries please contact:
Mick Green, secretary
Copyright © 2020 Friends of Exeter Ship Canal, All rights reserved.

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