Monthly Archives: September 2011

136 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News April 1991 – Part 4 More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

136Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News April 1991 – Part 4

More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

One Upmanship

During the 1960s many long cherished traditions on the railways were swept away.  The scrapping of steam and the closure of many branch lines are well known, but in fact almost every aspect of railway life was changed.  For many decades the railwaymen had worked to their own hierarchy, whereby the most senior guards got the best pay, and generally easier jobs.  Then the tide of change began to sweep in.

As a goods senior guard at Bescot, Sid was among the more senior of the staff and had become used to the ‘plum jobs’.  One of these was the Bescot toSheffieldgoods train as this involved maximum pay for minimum effort.  One morning, however, a new policy was introduced.

The foreman introduced a slightly scruffy looking young man to Sid.

‘This isNorman’ he said, ‘He’ll be taking over some of the Sheffields, so can you show him the road and make sure he’s OK?’

Sid was far from pleased.  The youth was a new recruit and had what we would call today an attitude problem.  Sid was determined to show him just who was the boss.  Once all their duties were done, Sid and Norman climbed into the brake van.  The driver of theSheffieldbound train also knew what was at stake, and intended that this new youth should be put in his place.

ToNorman’s surprise, Sid lay stretched out on the bench in the brake van and apparently dozed off.  Normandid not know that in this position Sid had a good view of the train through the ducket in the side of the van.  Through half closed eyes Sid watched the loco until its cylinder drain cocks opened prior to the train moving off.  Sid yawned and appeared to wake up.  ‘It’s about time we were off’ he said nonchalantly.  ‘How do you know?’ began the youth, but before any explanation was given the van jolted forwards.  They were off.  ‘It’s a sort of sixth sense you get’ said Sid mysteriously.  Sid pretended to doze off once more while all the time looking carefully through the ducket.

After a few minutes Sid stirred again.  ‘I reckon the peg’ll be against us at Brownhills’ he said.

‘Why do you say that?’ said Norman.

‘Just a feeling’ explained Sis, not, of course, admitting that he could see the approaching signals.  Sure enough, the train slowed and Sid laconically pulled the hand brake on.

At every junction, station or landmark along the way Sid would mystify his unwanted pupil, pretending to be asleep until his mysterious sixth sense popped up/

‘Smell that?’ said Sid ‘That’s the hops at Marston’s Brewery.  It’s a totally different smell to the hops at Bass brewery.  If you’re going to work this line at night you’ll have to tell the difference or you’ll not know what part ofBurtonyou’re in.’

Young Norman’s self-confidence was beginning to crack.  Did you really have to be a beer expert to become a railway guard? **

Just outside Sheffield Sid drove his point home.

‘Ah!’ he said ‘Roast mutton’.  PoorNormanwas mystified.

‘What day is it?’ asked Sid.

‘Err… Thursday’ repliedNorman.

‘Then we must be at Millhouse, you see theVictoriapub serves roast mutton on Mondays and Thursdays.  The pub’s right next to the railway, so you can’t miss the smell.   The trouble is, the Railway Hotel at Heeley also serves mutton, but on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, so you need to remember what day of the week it is and who serves what on what day of the week, otherwise if it is foggy, you might not know where you are.  Is that all quite clear?’

Normanjust did not know what to think.  Not only did you need to be psychic and a beer expert, you had to be familiar with all the pub menus on either side of the railway and a walking almanac.

Needles to say,Normansoon left the railway and the ‘Sheffields’ remained in the hands of the senior men a while longer.

9Actually, those railwaymen who knew Sid would probably say that he DID know the pub menus on the line from Bescot toSheffield!)

** Experience at Chasewater proves the answer to this question to be a resounding ‘YES!’

Please note: While these stories are as they were told to Sid’s grandson, and have not been knowingly embellished, the author cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy!  If they are not true, they ought to be!

 

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135 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – April 1991 Part 3 A new Tank for Lion – Ian Newbold

135 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News -April 1991 Part 3

A New Tank for Lion – Ian Newbold

When I bought this loco, I was aware that its saddle tank had seen better days, but I was naively optimistic despite over a decade of playing with other people’s locos. I should have known better! As the loco’s rebuild progressed, in the normal far from smooth manner, I started to investigate the tank more closely. Now some of the older hands at Chasewater were probably having a quiet snigger at this stage, and after a few days of shovelling debris out of the tank and hitting it with a hammer I realised I had quite a problem. This problem is known by a number of names, in Italian it is Fiat, in Japanese it is Datsun, in plain English – rust, and it has an iceberg-like quality – you only initially see the tip of the problem. At this point, I went away and started asking for advice. In reality, patching the tank was unlikely to solve the problem for more than a very short while, also, how do you weld to a lace petticoat-like structure? I think it would be a case of ‘chasing the dragon’. Anyway, I tried to keep all the options open in my mind, including a lorry-load of glass fibre and car body filler. If Flying Scotsman’s second tender could have six tons of concrete in the bottom to stop it leaking, I’m sure I could find a solution to Lion’s tank. Enquiries gave a guide commercial price of around £3,500 to £4,500 for a replacement saddle tank which to be honest was a little outside my price bracket, and as I didn’t want to upset the bank manager, it was find a cheaper option time. A feasibility study into the loading effects of side tanks proved that they were a contender which, while still pricey, were a fair bit cheaper than a saddle. Rubberised and other coatings for the inside of the original tank also came in for investigation. Whilst all this was going on, a chance question from an acquaintance at work started the ball rolling in a different direction. For the benefit of those who are unaware, I have the dubious fortune of working in the newspaper industry – not one of the world’s most stable jobs these days, and noted for its internal politics. Anyway, I was asked how the loco was coming on and I remarked ‘Fairly well except for the tank’. Later the same week a ‘piece’ appeared in the Birmingham Post about a chap who wanted a new saddle tank for his loco. The next day a gentleman named Peter Johnston, Director of the Coventry fabricating and plant installing firm of A.G.Brierly Ltd. contacted me at work, and after a phone chat he asked me if I could send a sketch with dimensions, and if he could handle the size he would do his best to help, provided I could wait until his workload was slack. That sketch was in the post to him later the same day. In the intervening time, I attempted to prise a copy of the loco’s drawings out of the NRM at York, however it seems that if you have a hairbrained scheme such as trying to re-create a mainline loco you can have the drawings, but to repair an existing industrial you have got no chance. Personally I think someone has got their priorities a bit wrong, why bother to keep these drawings if they cannot be used for what they were intended? Why not just have a nice bonfire? Anyway, about eighteen months later, last November, I received a phone call from Peter Johnston asking if the tank was ready to be taken away. It was, and about a week and a half later it was in Coventry. It was a few weeks later that my work roster allowed me to go and have a look at how things were progressing. What I saw came as a surprise, for I had been expecting the rotten section of the old tank to be renewed. What I was witnessing was the creation of a brand new faithful copy of the original made without drawings using modern construction techniques. A.G.Brierly Ltd. even went to the trouble of fitting false rivets to keep the appearance the same. My own feelings at the time were difficult to sum up simply, but elated gives a fair impression of them. Peter Johnston, it transpired, had been a coppersmith at Swindon Works and was undertaking this as a one-off project. Basically it was his donation to railway preservation. Also, having talked to him and to those associated with him, he is a very genuine person, a true gentleman. The new tank made its appearance at Chasewater the same day that the new coach arrived. I had attempted to ensure it arrived the day after, but a foul up over police escorts meant the coach arrived a day late – the best laid plans of mice and men and all that…. Needless to say that it proved to be a fairly exciting sort of day! As a public thank you, I managed to get the ‘Birmingham Post’ to do a follow-up ‘piece’ with a photograph of the new tank being fitted. I will admit to being a little apprehensive as the tank was lowered into position, as the fit between the front of the cab and a lip around the smokebox is rather snug. I needn’t have worried, to quote a friend of mine who watched the proceedings ‘it fitted like a glove’, an example of true craftsmanship. The gift of this new tank has helped ensure a reasonable future for ‘Lion’ as a working loco and I personally will always be indebted to Peter Johnston. I would also like to say thank you to all those at Chasewater who helped – especially Peter Aldridge for painting the inside of the tank – I believe his appearance afterwards was a sight to behold.

The Chasewater News magazine cover on No. 133 shows Lion with the new tank.

134 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseumBits & Pieces From Chasewater News April 1991 Part 2

134Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News April 1991 Part 2

The “Derby Works” Centre Car

After several months of anticipation, former BR Class 116 DMU centre car No.59444 finally made it to Chasewater on 22nd January 1991.  This coach, purchased by Mr. Les Emery, started its journey on the previous Sunday when it was shunted from the BR maintenance depot to the Birmingham Railway Museum.  On Monday 21st it was loaded on to the low-loader and set out for Brownhills West.  Unfortunately, a mix up with the police escort for this abnormal load led to it being left overnight at the transport café known as the ‘Greasy Spoon’, just off the M6 at Gailey.

The following morning, however, the journey continued and by 11.30 the huge lorry was in position for unloading.  All that we had to do was to propel the flat wagon up to the unloading ramp, couple up, and pull the coach down the ramp.

At this point, the lorry with Mr. Newbold’s new saddle tank arrived causing a few minute’s delay as the tank had to be unloaded onto the flat wagon we were about to use.

After about twenty minutes, the flat wagon, complete with its £6,000 worth of saddle tank was cautiously propelled up to the coach.  Remembering the entertaining few hours we had recently spent unloading the two recently acquired brake vans, all those present were rather anxious, as I am sure readers will understand.  We need not have worried, as the coach came down the ramp and onto our tracks without any problem.  By the time we has shunted the coach into ‘Elsley’s Siding’ and coupled it to a brake van, the haulage company were already off down toLondonto take a coach from Stuart’s Lane to the steam railway at Swanage.

Once safely coupled to the brake van, (remember that there are no handbrakes on a 116 centre car), we indulged in a brief trip down the line to Willow Vale and took the opportunity to take a few photographs.  With a 20 ton ‘Toad’ one end and the Fowler diesel on the other, the latestCLRacquisition was certainly a heart warming sight.

It is anticipated that this coach, which requires almost no interior work, will enter service early this year, but will be repainted in a suitable colour scheme in the summer.  The coach will carry theCLRnumber 104, and its old BR number of 59444 to keep the gricing fraternity happy.

Although many steam railways have whole rakes of coaches delivered at a time, we can feel suitably pleased with our coach, the first of its type in preservation.  Many thanks and congratulations are due to its proud owner, Mr. Emery.

133 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News April 1991

133Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News April 1991

Editorial – Nigel Canning

This looks like being the year that the Railway Inspector finally pays us another visit, as he has written saying he will inspect our railway ‘in the summer’.  If what he sees meets with his approval we may have a longer length of line to run on, if it does not we might not have a line at all.  It is now up to all of us to do our best to ensure that he sees an improvement in the existing railway, and that the extension to Willow Vale and beyond meets his requirements.

Later this year ‘Lion’ should enter service, and hopefully after that, ‘Asbestos’, which means that by Gricers Day we could have three engines in steam together for the first time in nine years, and even the new platform fro them to run trains into.  Let us just hope the Railway Inspector is impressed during his visit!

Locomotive News

No.4 Asbestos – Work on this loco has continued through the winter months and in March it passed its visual/ultrasonic boiler inspection.  Examination, however, has revealed that part of the firebox crown is nearing its limit on plate thickness and it is only a matter of time before serious repairs will be necessary.  The boiler will now be prepared for its hydraulic test.

No.5 Sentinel – This loco also passed its boiler examination in March and again looks like being the only serviceable steam loco for at least the first half of the season.  Repair work over the winter has included re-machining of the steam brake valve, fitting of a new cast fire grate and work on the paintwork in preparation for the ‘gasworks red’ livery to be applied as soon as weather permits.

No.2 Lion – A brand new saddle tank was delivered to Chasewater and temporarily fitted to the loco in January to check its dimensions; it was virtually perfect!  Other work has included the installation of sliding cab shutters and the boiler has been washed out.  The boiler now awaits the fitting of new washout plugs before the hydraulic test can be carried out.

S100 – Work has continued on this loco with the redesign of the hornguide grinding machine.  Another of the four main leaf springs has been stripped, cleaned and re-assembled.

DL7 – This loco was taken out of service for a couple of weeks recently while the injectors were removed, overhauled and refitted.

Fowler – This loco has remained in service without problem over the winter hauling works trains to the extension pastWillow Vale.

Smith Rodley Crane – This vehicle has seen only minimal use lately although work has continued on its repair and restoration.

Permanent Way News

The majority of work carried out by this department recently has been concentrated on the extension of track pastWillowVale.  Whilst the number of volunteers has fallen slightly, those brave enough to carryon through the worst of the winter have at least had a comfortable works train.  The favourite formation for this appears for some reason to be: the Fowler diesel, the DMU centre car and the two GWR brake vans with, of course, the stove kept well stoked.

The concrete platform for Willow Vale Halt has yet to be collected from theSevernvalley Railway as it is planned to carry out this job when the evenings become lighter allowing longer hours to be worked if necessary.

One extra job urgently requiring attention is the repair of the bridge handrails, which having recently been repaired and increased in height, have now been totally destroyed by the local toe rags.

Carriage & Wagon News

Midland four-wheel passenger brake – This vehicle has remained sheeted over during the winter, but work will continue as soon as the weather improves.

Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln six-wheel coach – Some progress has been made on this vehicle, but again the damp weather has limited the type of work that can be carried out.

Great Eastern six-wheel passenger brake – All of the doors have been removed from this vehicle for repair ‘off-site’, and the bodywork has been prepared and painted in yellow primer.

Wickham 2 car DMU E56171 & E50416 – The trailer car of this set has remained coupled to theGloucesterover the winter, and work has been carried out on refurbishment of the bar.                                                                                               A start has bee made on repairing, rubbing down and priming the bodywork of the power car ready for a repaint.  Work has also been carried out inside, removing seats and tables to make room for re-decoration.                                                                  Since the last issue of Chasewater News a preservation group dedicated to restoring the Wickham as a working DMU has been formed.  This organisation is currently drawing up its proposed constitution which is expected to be similar to that of the Hudswell Group in that the DMU will remain at Chasewater.

Gloucestertrailer E56301 – Little work has been carried out on this vehicle over the winter and there are rumours that another society may be interested in purchasing it for preservation elsewhere.  In the meantime it will be used on trains at Chasewater coupled to either the Wickham trailer or the new centre car.

Derby centre car W59444 – This coach arrived at Chasewater in January, having travelled from Tyseley diesel depot by low loader.  Before it enters passenger service, it is planned to fit a bar as a replacement for the one in the Wickham trailer.  Livery will probably remain BR blue and grey for the time being, although early BR carmine and cream has been rumoured as the intended replacement.  One problem has become apparent in that being a centre car, it has no handbrake so it has to be marshalled between another braked vehicle and the loco or the buffer stops.

General News From The Line

It now seems that the large portacabin which had been intended for use as a station buffet will not now be coming to Chasewater.  In view of this, work has started on renovating and converting the two smaller units which arrived in December to form a smaller buffet and separate kitchen.  As this work is likely to take quite a while, catering on a limited scale will take place on the train and possibly in the Wickham power car once more.                                                                                                                                           The portaloo is now in its final position next to the south end of the platform where it will be much appreciated by the loco dept.  Work on its refurbishment is progressing well and a race is now on to see whether the buffet or portaloo opens for business first.

Human Resources

An interesting meeting of working members was held in March to discuss ideas to improve work output on the railway by providing more organisation and planning so that priorities can be agreed in advance and last minute panics avoided.                 To achieve this, four departmental ‘foremen’, listed below, were appointed, whose job it is to liaise with each other to agree priorities and to suggest suitable jobs for anyone arriving at the railway and wishing to help out.

Permanent Way         Les Emery

Carriage & Wagon     Dave Whittle

Loco Dept                  Tony Sale

Station & Site             Steve Organ

If you don’t already have a project of your own and wish to help out, please contact any of the above people, or ask at the booking office where to find them.

 All photos – Nigel Canning

Some Early Lines – Bala – Festiniog Railway

Bala – Festiniog Railway

The branch train for Bala Junction photographed in 1953.  H.C.Casserley

History – The Bala and Festiniog Railway was a 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm), standard gauge, railway backed by the Great Western Railway (GWR)  railway inNorth Wales which connected Bala with Blaenau Festiniog.

1882 saw the completion of the spectacular branch from Bala through the wild and mountainous region to Blaenau Festiniog, where it met with the LNWR and the narrow gauge Festiniog Railway.  This view of Bala Junction, one of those curiosities, of which there have been one or two other examples of in the British Isles, of a purely interchange station only, without road access, and to or from which one could not obtain a ticket.  H.C.Casserley

The railway originally connected Bala and Llan Festiniog and was incorporated on 28 July 1873, and opened on 1 November 1882.  In 1883 the line was extended by converting the existing Festiniog and Blaenau Railway between Llan Festiniog and Blaenau Festiniog from 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) gauge to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge. The line terminated at Blaenau Festiniog (GWR) where until 1939 it connected with the Festiniog Railway to Porthmadog. At Bala Junction, the line connected with the Ruabon Barmouth GWR line. The line closed to passengers in 1960 and to freight in 1961. An unusual feature of freight operation on the line was the carriage of 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) gauge slate wagons (provided by the GWR) on standard gauge transporter wagons between Manod and Blaenau Festiniog where the wagons were off-loaded in the large station yard and their loads of dressed slate transferred to standard gauge GWR wagons for onward carriage via Manod and Bala.

Blaenau Festiniog – robertdarlaston.co.uk

The building of the Llyn Celyn reservoir necessitated the flooding of the line. A diversion was considered but never built. A short section from Bala Junction to Bala remained opened but was eventually closed in 1965.

7442 rattles along near Glyndyfrdwy on a Ruabon – Bala train in June 1956.  J.B.Snell

The summit of the line was at Cwm Prysor which lay at 1,278 feet / 390 metres above sea level. The line served an extremely remote area of North Wales, most of which was not served by a main road until the A4212 road opened in the early 1960s.

5810 waiting with a train from Bala Junction in 1953.  H.C.Casserley

In 1964, a connection was made through Blaenau to the Conwy Valley Line at Blaenau Festiniog North allowing access as far as the nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd; a loading facility for nuclear flasks was constructed a hundred yards north of the closed Trawsfynydd Lake Halt.  In 1982, the Festiniog Railway was reopened to Blaenau Festiniog Central when the former GWR station was re-opened to passenger traffic and Blaenau Festiniog North (LNWR) was closed.

A view taken in 1953 near Trawsfynydd on the Bala – Festiniog branch, closed to passengers in 1960.  The upper section between Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Festiniog, however, remained open in consequence of the construction of an atomic power station, the waste spoil from which is conveyed by means of a new connection with the LNWR at Blaenau Festiniog away down that line’s branch via Llandudno Junction fro disposal.  H.C.Casserley

Current status

The only part of the line in use today is the very short section between the two stations in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The section of line between Blaenau (GWR) and Trawsfynydd power station closed in 1998, although the track has remained in situ for several years. Much of the trackbed remains intact except for the section flooded by Llyn Celyn and some sections used to improve the A4212 road. Several other sections are open as permissive paths.

Many of the former stations are now in use as private residences.

Shunting at Blaenau Ffestiniog in March 1954.  J.B.Snell

 

A morning train from Blaenau Festiniog to Bala nears Trawsffanaeth behind 0-6-0 pannier tank No. 7442 in July 1951.  P.B.Whitehouse

Heritage railway preservation attempts

Lately, there have so far been at least two attempts in preserving at least a few miles of remaining trackbed of the line, however the first two attempts did not succeed. There is still hope one day that some of it could be re-opened as a tourist attraction which would boost the local Welsh economy, once possible funds could be made officially and a perfect name is found.

 
 

 A 74XX 0-6-0 Pannier Tank enters Trawsffanaeth station with a mid-day train from Blaenau Festiniog to Bala in July 1951.  P.B.Whitehouse

 
 
 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Canal News – Wyrley & Essington and Birmingham & Fazeley

Canal News – Waterscape

  Restriction on the Wyrley & EssingtonCanal

 Anchor Bridge, Brownhills

Anchor Bridge and Inn – 

Wyrley & Essington CanalAngleseyBranch

A452 Chester Road, Brownhills

  © Copyright Adrian Rothery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Monday 19 September 2011 – Monday 10 October 2011
Due to circumstances beyond our control, works which were due to be carried out by contractors on behalf of National Grid have had to be rescheduled until 19th September.

Works will be carried out to the gas pipe adjacent to Anchor Bridge, Brownhills from pontoons and as a result the width of the navigation will be restricted.  There will be men on site to instruct boats through the works and the pontoons will be moved as and when necessary to allow boats to pass through.

British Waterways apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Enquiries: 01827 252000

Stoppage – Birmingham & FazeleyCanal

 Aston Road Bridge

Winding hole on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal

Winding holes are used by canal boats to turn around on the narrow canal.

  © Copyright Keith Williams and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Tuesday 8 November 2011 – Thursday 10 November 2011

Contractors working on behalf of Birmingham City council are due to carry out repairs and maintenance works to Aston Road Bridge between 8pm and 7am from Tuesday 8th November to Thursday 10th November.
British Waterways apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Enquiries: 01827 252000



Canal – Huddlesford Gathering 2011 – Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust and Lichfield Cruising Club

Huddlesford Gathering 2011

My first time at the Huddlesford Gathering and what a good show they put on!  From the moment you arrive, and receive your Souvenir Brochure, to find lots of easy, well organised,  parking, to the moment you leave there is always plenty to keep you occupied.  Sadly i didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to see everything that was on offer, but I really enjoyed the narrow boats – and there were plenty of them, and the classic cars – plenty of those too!  Assuming that there will be another gathering next year, I shall make sure that I allow much more time!

For more photos, click the ‘picasa’ link on the blogroll.

Even train-spotting was possible – not much like chasewaterstuff!!

Trent Valley Model Railway Society Model Railway Exhibition Video Clips

Trent Valley Model Railway Society Model Railway Exhibition video clips are now on youtube.  This is the first of two videos, the second will be on youtube tomorrow.

http://www.youtube.com/tordy64

Trent Valley Model Railway Society Model Railway Exhibition, Lichfield September 10th 2011

Trent Valley Model Railway Society

Model Railway Exhibition

LichfieldSeptember 10th 2011

Quite a few events were happening on this weekend and I did manage to visit two of them.  Firstly I made a flying visit to the Trent Valley Model Railway Society Model Railway Exhibition at the Wade Street Church Hall, Lichfield– I really couldn’t miss this one, the hall is where I first started school at Meredith House School, over sixty years ago. 

On entering the show, visitors were given a free booklet containing a plan of the layouts and lists of the exhibitors and traders.  A first class touch – I only wish that I could have stayed longer to make better use of it!  All the exhibitors had excellent layouts, whether big or of the smaller variety. 

Briefly, they were: Aylett End, Chalford,Deesdale Road, Highly Unlikely, Overkill, Thomas the Tank Engine, Waldkirsch and Z Line.  The traders were: 12 voltsdc, Derby Trees and Scenics, Keith’s Model Railway, Loughborough Model Centre, Sansome’s Model Railways, not to mention Wickson’s Travel.

Full use was made of the hall and it seemed to be building up to a very good attendance on the day, and well deserved.

 I shall have a collection of video clips linked to the blog in the next day or so.

 

Staffordshire Police set up local Canal Watch

 

 Staffordshire Police set up local Canal Watch

POSTED BY WATERWAY WATCHER ON SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2011

Staffordhire Police have started a brilliant new initiative on Facebook, a canal watch. Visit and contribute by surfing to http://www.facebook.com/StaffordshireCanalWatch. Perhaps by supporting this service we can encourage other police forces to take boat crime more seriously.

I have suggested to the organisers of Staffordshire Canal Watch that they also start a Twitter page and have asked them to send Waterwaywatch regular bulletins so that we can publish them here too.

They have requested help for the following incidents:

Can you help??
We are appealing for witnesses after a woman had her handbag stolen. This happened yesterday, Tues 23 August, at approximately 6.35pm. The woman got onto the towpath at Cromer Road and was heading towards Abbey Hulton. The offender was a male on a red bike wearing a black hoody, cycling the other way towards Hanley.
Any information please ring us as soon as possible on 0300 123 4455, quoting log number 642,23/8/11.

On Sunday 4 September, there was a report of anti-social behaviour on theTrentandMerseycanal. Groups of youngsters were sitting on benches, nearWyggeston Street,BurtononTrent, clearly under the influence of drink or drugs.

Local officers ask that if anybody witnesses such behaviour, to ring Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455.
Any problems relating to litter (especially bottles or glass), fly-tipping or other environmental issues can be reported to British Waterways on 01827 252000.

In early hours of Mon 5 September, damage was caused to 2 boats moored up on theTrentandMerseycanal in Alrewas area. The canvas on one boat was slashed and there was a footprint on the window. Youths were heard and seen walking past, in drink, during the night and the man on the boat heard a bang and discovered the damage in the morning. Anyone with any information about this or who is victim of damage to their boats within Staffordshire, please ring Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455.

A boat was reported broken into on Tues 6th Sept. The boat was moored up on theCaldonCanal, 1/2 mile from The Boat Inn and bridge no.45, Cheddleton area. Nothing was stolen however a fire extinguisher was set off inside.

Officers are asking that anyone living near the area or using the canal towpath regularly is extra vigilant and reports any suspicious people around the boats to us on 0300 123 4455. In an emergency always dial 999.

Damage has been caused to the window of a boat on theTrent & Mersey Canal, Trentham area. A small window on the boat was smashed, possibly on the evening of Tues 6th. It is not known how it happened. Can anyone in the area, living near the canal or using the towpath, please be vigilant. Anything or anyone suspicious, please report on 0300 123 4455.

If anyone has any information about this damage or any incidents listed on this page, you can ring Crimestoppers annonymously on 0800 555 111 too.

The organisers tell me that Canal Watch is fully supported by British Waterways and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. For fire safety advice onboard your boats and free smoke alarm fittings, please call 0800-0241-999 or go to www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk

They offer the following tips to help keep your property safe:

– Make sure valuables are kept out of sight
– Turn off gas and fuel supply valves when not in use
– Report suspicious behaviour to the police
– Fit good quality locks and alarms to your boat
– Fire can spread quickly, even on water. Alarms and detectors could save your life

Anyone who is an existing member of Canal Watch (and of course, those who want to join in future) can now have one of our information packs. These contain fire and safety information, window stickers, 2-3 suspicious incident report forms, contact details for Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and hints on what details to have handy if you should have to ring the emergency services from your boat, to help those services find you quickly.