The Inland Waterways Association campaigns for the use, maintenance and restoration of Britain’s waterways. It is a national charity run by volunteers, and has over 18,000 members whose interests include boating, towing path walking, industrial archaeology, nature conservation and many other activities associated with the inland waterways. The Association Vision is to ensure the inland waterways of England and Wales are restored and maintained to the best possible standards, and kept accessible for the benefit of all people. A regular update on all things connected with these aims is published on their website. The South West Region of the IWA issues their own magazine, the Sou’Wester, which can be found here.
The Stover Bargee
We produce a quarterly newsletter called The Stover Bargee which is delivered to members. To see a previous issue please click here.
Wikipedia tells us that– “Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking. Generally accepted rules are to not endanger others, to minimize the impact on nature, to respect private property, and to avoid public alarm.” There is a website www.geocaching.com which shows that containers were placed along the canal earlier this year. The committee understands that the Rangers at Stover Park are aware of the placement of some geocaching boxes along the Templer Way. However, permission has neither been sought or granted for any other placement by the Stover Canal Trust. We are working to increase public access to the canal and will not, therefore, take any action in this matter provided the activity does not create problems for other users. So if you see someone acting furtively alongside the canal it may not be as suspicious as it may appear!
The Stover Canal Trust has teamed up with Easyfundraising as a convenient way for supporters who shop on-line to get traders to donate to our cause.If you find an item on-line, and the outlet subscribes to Easyfundraising, simply by redirecting to the traders site via easyfundraising.org.ukand completing your purchase in the usual way will gain a small amount of money for the Stover Canal AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU!We hope you will consider this method as a way to provide us with FREE MONEY to carry on the restoration work of the canal and it’s structures.Thank you!
Dig starts at Ventiford Basin - May 2016
This year will see the culmination of our research and the programme of work will include the complete uncovering of an early 19th-century clay barge, which worked the canal between Ventiford and Teignmouth; its timber remains have been buried in the silt, probably since before the 1870s. In the past two years, the team has uncovered small sections of the vessel, but this year we hope to have the entire bottom section exposed, all 15m of it.We will also be working on revealing an 80m-long section of the Haytor Granite Tramroad, which was in use between 1820 and 1840 to transport granite from George Templer’s famous quarries at Haytor in Dartmoor National Park, down to the canal at Ventiford. This was unearthed during work leading up to last year’s excavations and is a truly remarkable discovery.The 12km tramroad has international heritage significance and is a unique monument to industry, because the track was built from elongated granite blocks placed end to end, with flanges along the rails to guide the wheels of the trucks,
rather than using the more traditional iron rails with flanged wheels on the vehicles. Although long and impressive sections of the tramroad survive in situ within the National Park, until now it was believed that the track had been lost completely between Bovey Tracey and Ventiford. However, this amazing find, which was a siding off the main trunk, now provides the only significant surviving section of tramroad outside the national parkAlready this year we have found more sidings and rails than was originally known from previous excavations.
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2017 - See our progress since 2011 on our new pages
Annual General Meeting - March 2017
The Stover Canal Trust held its Annual General Meeting at K i n g s t e i g n t o n Community Centre on the 18th March.Opening the meeting at 10 am, Trust Chairman, John Pike, reported that significant progress had been made in the last 12 months in preparing the basin at Ventiford for potential r e - w a t e r i n g . Acknowledging that the site unfortunately looks like a building site at present, Mr Pike assured the audience that future plans include landscaping in mitigation for the loss of vegetation as a result of the preparations. Detailed plans are included in the planning application submitted to Teignbridge planners which can be found on their Planning Online website for public comment. Following the election of officers, and refreshments, members heard a fascinating talk by the Rev’d Nicholas Pearkes on the redundant slate quarry near Littlehempston. The Penn Recca Mine at Landscove, near Combe village was Devon's only slate mine. It had been worked as early as 1381, but is now totally overgrown and no longer visible. The slate had been used to roof Dartington Hall, and also the army barracks in Madras.To work the quarry, everything was initially hauled manually. Later a horse windlass was brought into use. There were rail tracks from the entrance and trucks would be hauled by pack horses to unload onto the barges on the canal. The trucks were open ended so that the heavy slate could be slid off the end to unload. The slate was all cut by hand in a saw pit. By the 1830's, steam power had been brought in to make parts of the operation more efficient. Because of the danger of roof falls, at regular intervals a very long rope ladder was lowered into the pit, and a miner had to climb up and banged the roof with a hammer to make sure that it was intact and safe. After being worked out the mine was 400 ft deep.The mine itself is now totally hidden from view by a tree lined valley.Some of the mine workers slept in 3-storey dormitories, and others occupied cottages. Each row of cottages had a pump and a water trough. The industry kept large number of people in work in the locality. Many of the buildings still standing in the area can be connected back to the slade industry including the original Managers house and the local pub.The minerals would be loaded onto tub boats and taken down the Hems Canal to Totnes. By constructing a tidal gate at the confluence of the Rivers Hems and Dart it was not necessary to dig a canal. It had no locks but had stop logs at narrow points along the route for water control. The route to Totnes was approximately 2 miles.
Click on the pictures to see detail of the project.
Built by our forefathers, preserved for our grandchildren
Graving Dock Lock Restoration Recognised - September 2017
The Canal and Rivers Trust holds an annual competition called the Living Waterways Awards to recognise notable achievements by canal groups all over the country.We are pleased to announce that this year, the restoration of the Graving Dock Lock has been recognised under the Restoration & Historic Environment category.Jointly funded by awards from the Association for Industrial Archaeology and the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ scheme, the major restoration was carried out by volunteers and contractors over two years. The final details of recreating the boiler structure and installing a seat have now been completed.Inspection by CRT representatives took place on the 12th June and they recommended our project to the meeting of the judging panel in July. Along with 18 other entrants under 7 differing categories, we were invited to the awards ceremony in Birmingham on the 27th September. Our category was won by the Window on the World project.
Trustees and volunteers explain the details ofthe restoration to representatives of the Canal& Rivers Trust(left)
Before and After views of the lock.
Click here to see the wholestory of the restoration.
Progress at Ventiford Basin - April 2019
The dam has been completed and faced with recycled paving slabs. Although suffering a small amount of damage following winter floods, when the flow over the dam dislodged some slabs, it has proved its value by retaining some flood water over the Winter period. Work will soon start again at Ventiford with the advent of more favourable weather.Investigations continue into the base of the crane, the remains of which are on the Western side of the basin. No drawings or details of the original have been traced, if they ever existed, and so our volunteers are having to act like archaeologists in unearthing the mechanism below ground level. This was carried out at the beginning of April and photographs and measurements taken. The structure is incredibly well engineered as was expected given the weight of the granite blocks which were loaded here into the barges. Our understanding is growing and we soon hope to have a drawing of the whole crane to work with. We can then consider the options for reconstruction.
Tree Felling - February 2019
Whilst there ongoing work at Ventiford Basin, it is very dependant on ground conditions and available manpower. In the meantime, our volunteers are using this time of the year to scrub clearance and tree felling before the main start of the bird nesting season on the 1st March.The Canal Trust is guided by the 2010 monitoring report on the Stover Canal County Wildlife Site on behalf of the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, which includes the following recommendations for the management of the canal:"1. Water bodies with less shade are generally more botanically diverse than heavily shaded waterbodies. As such it is recommended that the vast majority of the scrub and trees are removed from the length of the canal. This is especially relevant to the canal to the north of Exeter Road. Retentions of some mature and semi-mature trees along the banks of the canal is also recommended as these will provide structural diversity as well as foraging and nesting habitat for birds, Some patches of scrub adjacent to the western bank should also be retained as this would provide suitable habitat for resting otters. Although it is important that the canal is unshaded and open, it should not be too open and exposed as otters and other mammals require some cover to commute through the site.....8. The canal should be allowed to colonise naturally and no plants should be brought onto the site." In view of the monitoring report guidance, the Trust's basic approach between Ventiford Basin and Exeter Road is:- to remove virtually all of the trees and scrub growing in the bed of the canal, including sections where at present there is rarely any standing water; (This will also help to improve flood water flows by minimising obstructions) - to remove living and decayed trees on the eastern bank only for good reason such as risk to the safety of walkers/cyclists, and - to retain all healthy trees and scrub growing on the western bank and a number of smaller decaying specimens for woodpeckers and nuthatch food sources.Accordingly, Trust volunteers act to remove dead and diseased tree growth which presents a danger to the public using the towpath and adjacent cycleway.