Friends of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

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C&BN Friends



An exploratory meeting was held at Paper Mills, Little Baddow, on 26th September 1995. There a constitution was drafted and following some amendments it was adopted and officially launched at the public 'Friends' inaugural meeting at Moulsham Mill, Chelmsford on 7th June 1996.

Since those early meetings much has been achieved to get the 'Friends' organisation afloat. But there is much to do before we are properly established, and a democratically elected Executive Committee is installed to carry on the good work, later next year.

In the meantime we are not working alone, because we are already affiliated to the Inland Waterways Association and also we are working very closely with other groups who have similar aims to our own or are sympathetic to our intentions. If you are involved with any such groups or organisations we would like to hear from you.

In future issues of our Newsletter we'll be letting you know how you can get involved perhaps as a Executive Committee member or just participating in one of our events.


SPONSORED WALK SUNDAY 22nd September 1996

The occasion will enable a new group of "Friends" to get together socially, and enable us all to look closely at the length of the towing path.

The routes can be chosen by members and friends to suit their own convenience and wishes with four main starting points: Springfield Basin, Sandford Mill Lock, Hoe Mill Lock, and Heybridge Basin. Everyone will be checked in by a steward who will then set you off to Little Baddow for lunch. The facilities at Treasure Island have been kindly loaned for the day by the London Borough of Newham's Outdoor Centre. It is there where a barbecue lunch will be provided - so please let us know in advance if you're coming!

Needless to say that members who would prefer to come for the drinks and barbecue only will be very welcome.

At the end of lunch everyone will be asked to suggest any improvements that will enhance both the access and the appearance of the towpath and its environs.

Any sponsorship money will be pledged towards providing whatever 'towpath improvement' scheme is identified by the walkers. Any queries, sponsorship forms required (or offers of help!) to DUDLEY COURTMAN Secretary on 01621-892231

Editors Column

Welcome to the first Newsletter of the 'Friends' - a recently formed group of enthusiasts with a common aim to preserve and where possible enhance the C&BN, its unique heritage and natural features for now, and future generations. Through this newsletter we hope to build strong links between the Company of Proprietors, who maintain the navigation, and our members who may wish to undertake voluntary, practical activities or just further the navigation's amenities. However, we need more help and support, so after reading this first edition let us know what you think, tell us anything you know about the navigation's history but most importantly tell 'Your Friends' about the 'C&BN Friends', so that something positive can be achieved with a combined effort.

Editor Ron Abbott

Letters to the Editor

Dear Ed

As a new organisation we want to keep in touch with members as much as possible. We have a wealth of experience and wisdom on which to draw if we can make access to it.

As part of our policy to achieve this Members and 'Friends' must be invited to write to the Newsletter on any topic which it is felt would further our endeavours to conserve and enhance the navigation. However, there are two very important subjects that our organisation needs to address very quickly.

Firstly, how do we commemorate the Opening of the Navigation in 1797?

Second, what tasks could or should we undertake to improve, enhance and conserve the navigation in the short to medium term?

So please get writing and let the 'Friends' know what you think. Once we have got the way forward mapped out clearly we can get everyone more involved.



The newly launched Friends of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation held their first event on Friday 19th July and were blessed by a warm sunny evening.

The new group chartered the Cruise boat "Victoria" and some thirty five "Friends" and acquaintances cruised down the Canal from Paper Mill Lock to Ulting Church and return, when they enjoyed one of the most attractive parts of this historic waterway, passing through Rushes Lock en route. A commentary on the canal and its history was given by John Marriage the well known local author and historian. A cold buffet was provided.

Among those present were the Mayor of Chelmsford Councillor Mrs Mountain and the Deputy Mayor Councillor Lane and their consorts.

The Chelmer And Blackwater Aids The IWA Jubilee Celebrations

The Friends of the Chelmer and Blackwater are now affiliated to The Inland Waterways Association which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. At the end of April this year the Chelmer and Blackwater was used to carry part of a giant jigsaw made to represent a geographical map of England and Wales showing all navigable waterways and also some under restoration.

The complete jigsaw measures 7 metres high by 5 metres wide.

A piece of jigsaw was given to each IWA branch to be transported by water to Birmingham. The local Branch, Chelmsford started at 9.00am at Springfield Wharf with a send off by the Mayor of Chelmsford Councillor Alan Wilsher and Mr. Henry Marriage of the Proprietors of the C&BN. The jigsaw piece was carried with the assistance of three sea cadet boats from Chelmsford and IWA members. There was a stop for lunch at Paper Mill where the party was met by Bill Spall (Chelmer and Blackwater Manager) who had prepared a letter of congratulation to the IWA on its Jubilee. The journey continued to Heybridge Basin where the jigsaw piece was met by Councillor Boyce (Chairman Maldon District Council) and Miss Beryl Claydon (Chairman Heybridge Council) it was then transhipped to the boat of Mr. Colin Edmunds (Heybridge Sea Lock keeper) for a trip round to Maldon Quay the jigsaw piece was handed over to the Sailing Barge Pudge and the Deputy Chairman of Maldon Town Council, Councillor Keith Munnion, for its journey to Limehouse Basin and final transhipment to the Steam Barge President, destined for Birmingham.

On the 23rd June all 35 pieces of jigsaw had arrived in Birmingham and were fitted together, on the side of the International Conference Centre as part of the World Canals Conference. Mrs. Audrey Smith the Chairman of the IWA praised the efforts of all the Branches and especially those on the extremities of the main network. The event was a great success and produced a lot of interest and favourable publicity and it was fitting that the Chelmer and Blackwater should take part in the celebrations.



First in a series starting from Springfield Basin (By courtesy of Blackwater Boats)

Approaching Springfield Lock, going upstream, the River Chelmer flows from the left. It is possible to navigate a short way up river towards the weir gates where there are moorings along side the meadow near Moulsham Mill Craft Centre. Alternatively mooring in the basin, which is the head of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation, is possible via the recently restored (1993) Lock and old brick bridge. Recently new Cycle ways and foot paths have been opened around the basin to provide easy access to the town centre. Although much of the basin surroundings are still used commercially, as they were in the days when barges unloaded coal and timber, the new developments now taking place are bringing new life into the area.


First President
- Lord Petre of Writtle Park
- Bill Andrade
Joint Secretaries
- Dudley Courtman & William Marriage
- Martin Hale
Other committee members :Sir Alastair Stewart, Henry Marriage, Ron Abbott, Richard Porter, John Marriage, Rebecca Loader, Barry Ryder, Simon Marriage, Anthony Cramphorn.

Contributions for the next issue please to

Ron Abbott, Bumblebee Cottage, Boxted Road, Colchester, C04 5HF. By 1st December 1996.


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