Now is as good a time as any to look back over 2005.In the spring there was the usual Quiz Night at Drayton ably organised by George and Ruby.
In April we had the Saturday Publicity day centred around East Challow Village Hall with several guided walks. It was pleasing that many people came along, and the then prospective ( and now present) MP for Wantage Ed Vaisey joined us at the Village Hall.
In Dragonfly 98 Brian Roberts looked at the development proposals around Grove so I won't say any more here. We await the Local Inspector's report with anticipation. The summer saw the usual crop of guided walks around Wantage and Challow and Grove. We held two under the auspices of the Wantage Summer Festival in June.
The first was very well attended, in fact the best attended I can recall for some time. We took the assembled masses for a tour of West Challow and Childrey, and a very nice evening was had be all concerned. A fortnight later we arrived at West Challow just as the first rumbles filled the sky (and I am not talking about my empty stomach). After taking a vote of the eight people who turned up we decided to set out towards East Challow but turned back when the storm decided to aim directly for us, and I thought that perhaps being in trees in a thunderstorm was not a good idea! Having returned to West Challow Vic and I discovered the road was submerged in flood water and were able to clear the entrance to the road drain. We were rewarded very quickly with the sound of trickling water in the canal and the waters started to reduce.
I also took a group from Abingdon Round Table for a walk from the top end of Grove, starting at Smallmarsh Lock along the embankment (fending off nettles/thistles etc.) through to West Challow. I would encourage the branches along the canal to get in contact with the Community Service Officer for their local Round Tables to see if they can get involved in a project.
The most entertaining of all was a guided walk for a group of ladies from Ardington WI. I had given a talk to them a while back and had promised a tour at some time. We set off to walk from Grove to East Challow and only as we were climbing over the stile into the field did I realize that some of the ladies were, how shall I say it, rather advanced in years. However, we managed to get the less lithe ones over the stile...at which point I remembered there was another one at the other end of the field. We took another route back to the cars!! As far as I am aware they all survived the journey. Perhaps it was just as well some were picked up at East Challow Village Hall.
Otherwise the other major event of the summer was the work camp at Childrey New Road at which the stalwart band made a great job of the re-building of Childrey Wharf. There was more on that in the last Dragonfly.
My thanks go to the stalwart work party teams both at the weekends and the Monday Mob who have put so much effort in over the year. Incidentally if you are at a loose end during the week and wish to join the Monday Mob, contact Roy Murrell for more details. It is amazing what can be achieved.
I have given various talks through the year: Berkshire Industrial Archaeology Group, Stanford in the Vale History Group and Hanney History Group. I made the brave decision to transfer my talk onto lap top and this seems to have worked well. I must thank my friend Mike for helping with the technicalities. However, despite lots of photos I keep seeing gaps in the story and must put some time into taking new pictures to keep up to date with restoration work.
In October we were delighted to have Bruce Hall from the Cotswold Canal Trust along to our Branch Meeting to bring us up to date with work on the Stroudwater Navigation and Thames & Severn Canal. The destinies of the North Wilts and the eastern section of the Thames & Severn seem interlinked and I look forward to seeing progress on both. The work they have done on the Cotswolds Canals so far is extremely impressive. I aim to organise a branch away-day to the area next year.
Whether this arrives before Christmas or after may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a successful 2006.
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