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NEWSLETTER 2 February 2020

What a start to 2020!


Dear <<First Name>>

Great news, important challenges and a serious appeal to all members

IT IS GREAT NEWS that the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal are now on the verge of taking over Topsham Lock Cottage, pictured above. Exeter City Council offered us the building when it became vacant, which happened last month.
Our immediate plan is to display information inside about the canal — its heritage, present day activities, and our vision for a future with more boat traffic and better facilities that will make the canal once more a thriving waterway.
Our aim is to turn the former lock keeper’s cottage into a destination for everyone interested in the canal and the amenities and wildlife of the River Exe estuary, and be ready to open at weekends and peak holiday times possibly from Easter.
Nick Hawker, Secretary of the Canal Friends, has stepped down. We thank Nick for the considerable amount he has done for the Friends since he became secretary, and are very pleased that he will remain a member.
We now face a very serious situation. The Friends must have a secretary!
The job is a great deal more exciting and rewarding than taking notes at meetings and writing them up afterwards. It is a real opportunity to make a positive impact for the good of the canal.
Turning projects into reality, keeping the Friends well organised, carrying out research and helping with publicity can all involve the Secretary from time to time. But you won’t be left on your own; support is always available.
Could you give it a go? If you think you would enjoy it or are ready to try, please let John Monks know by email by clicking on this link or by phoning 01392 493559.
The bottom line is that we cannot run without a secretary. It is as simple as that. So please get in touch no later than 11 February. A special general meeting of the Friends will take place if there is no one who will take on the role. Members will then have to decide how to continue. 
Maclaines Warehouses are the last remaining unoccupied buildings on the Canal Basin that could be returned to waterway-related uses. Now two of the warehouses face being turned into offices.
The Canal Friends believe it is a wrong move at this time when a Canal Management Plan is to be drawn up by Exeter City Council. The facilities of the Basin were built for the waterway and the future of the canal still depends on what the Basin can provide. 
The Friends will oppose the planning application. We urge the city council and Exeter Canal and Quay Trust, the landlords of the buildings, to get together urgently to consider the future of the canal and the occupation of the associated properties in a joined-up, holistic way that would develop boating related business.
A feature of the Canal Basin beyond Maclaines Warehouses is the dockside crane in the boatyard. It has been there since before 1905, when it first appeared on an Ordnance Survey map, and today, although disused and rusty, it still attracts interest from passers-by. The Friends have been wanting to refurbish the crane, perhaps through applying for a Heritage Lottery grant. 
As a first step we are considering making an application to have the structure listed because of its intrinsic interest as part of the industrial heritage of the whole Basin. A precedent is Bridgwater Docks in Somerset where the entire docks facility, including the fittings, is listed.
An application to Historic England to list the crane at the Basin will need research and if you would like to help, please get in touch. We would also like to install an information panel. 
Guy Parker has been at work on the boat’s hull, strengthening areas with new fibreglass. It is now nearly time to replace the floor. When that happens, the cavity beneath the floor will be filled with plastic drinks bottles. Empty, of course!
We need the larger, one litre size, with their caps screwed firmly on, so please start saving them now. Details about where to deliver them or how to have them collected will come later. 
We shall also need volunteers to prepare and stow the bottles. It’s hoped this novel ingredient of boat refurbishment will attract some publicity and to this end we are thinking of how to organise a ‘message in a bottle’ scheme. Please watch out for more details in future newsletters, as well as for the dates and times of the next work parties.
Jack Nott has offered to arrange a cruise on the canal for the Canal Friends, their families and friends, on Friday, 1 May. The trip, with Stuart Line Cruises, will leave Exeter Quay at 2pm. If there are more than 15 in the group the discount price will be £10 per person.
The outward trip from Exeter to Exmouth is the best way to tell the canal's history from Trews’ Weir to the Port of Exeter's limits at sea. Please email Jack if you are interested or would like more information. If enough people wish it, a minibus back to Exeter could also be arranged.
Remember, please send in your own contributions. Here are the first eight lines of a canal sonnet by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967), who loved canals and their towpaths:
Leafy with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.
The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.
We hope to see you at a Canal Friends event very soon.
With all best wishes

John Monks
Friends of Exeter Ship Canal
01392 493559

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 Richard Crisp, membership secretary:
Copyright © 2020 Friends of Exeter Ship Canal, All rights reserved.

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