East Side Ramblings

Andrea Fisher, East Side Boat Coordinator, relates goings-on around Marsden.

(Autumn 2011)

The Marsden Shuttle has had a mixed start to the 2011 season as she hasn’t been well! The gear box packed in and it wasn’t a straightforward job compounded by a subsequent diesel leak during the Engineer’s holiday. However, I am now pleased to say she’s fine and back in harness, so, as ever, if you’re keen to give her a spin, please do give me a call (01484 686136).

(Spring/Summer 2010)

What a long winter it’s been for everyone! It feels good to be looking forward to weekends outside in sunshine again, messing about on the ‘Shuttle’.

She’s had a service, stern gland re-done and a cosmetic job on the bow lettering. Ronnie Rose has tended to her throughout the winter and made sure she was turned over (engine wise) and generally in good shape.

Thanks Ronnie, and also for all sorts of snippets of information regarding the canal and how things were progressing with the new arrangements at BW.

March 7th saw about 30 of us gathered at Portland Basin for a joint get-together down to Dukinfield on the Tameside Canal Boat Trust’s ‘Still Waters’.

We were very fortunate with the weather and also how little we picked up on the notorious prop of the tug. Good to see so many faces, many I’ve not seen for a while; much good natured banter about each others county of origin, I have deep seated beliefs about which is best!

I’ve spent part of the winter helping to crew ‘Community Spirit’, where most of our crew did their training, and have dipped in and out of their training days just to ‘keep up to speed’.

You know about the trip they are doing to Liverpool, as I’ve covered it to a degree in previous letters, well, I can now let you know the dates they will need our help.

Leaving Portland Basin on the 8th of May, they work their way to Diggle to come thro’ t’ tunnel on Monday the 10th, staying overnight at Tunnel End, taking advantage of Bev and Gary’s accommodation and the al fresco appeal of their boat!

There will be a get-together and meal that evening at the pub for anyone who is interested, but I will need to know numbers before hand, PLEASE get in touch and let me know, 07837162942, thanks.

On Tuesday the 11th they will be going down thro’ the locks to Huddersfield and this is where they will need our help the most. It will also give us the opportunity to do some ‘locking’ practise, again, let me know if you would like to help.

That m’dears is about everything. Looking forward to you being in touch with regard to any of the opportunities I have mentioned, as well as your availability for shifts running the ‘Shuttle’.

One last thing, many thanks to Peter Ruffley for his organisation and free use of ‘Still Waters’; ‘twas a good day out.

(Winter 2009)

Greetings one and all! Another season finished and I'm happy to be able to tell you the takings are up by over 50% on the previous year (2008 - £1,553, 2009 - £2,362). So, despite some poor weather and quiet days, the crew and all who helped, kept the "Shuttle" holding her own and more, financial doom and gloom notwithstanding!

For next year, she needs a spot of tarting-up; paintwork touched up, signing on the bow re-done and possibly re-located (at the moment she's "The Arsden Shuttle"!) and after the introduction of Bob's flash new timing boards, she's a little bit of a Cinderella, and that won't do.

Talking of Bob, I'd like to say how much I enjoyed his evening of Bulgarian Culture along with the talented, colourful Bisserov Sisters. Not really knowing what to expect, I think just about everything was covered. Talented musicians, singers, acting that was funny and informative, and at least half of the audience cavorting round the Thomas Bourne Room like overgrown children. BRILLIANT. So, thanks again Bob and Sisters for coming up with a great evening.

The 15th November saw a small group of us wandering round the outskirts of Marsden. Led by our Ronnie Rose, it was a very pleasant day, weather wise, and Ronnie always has plenty to tell us about the history, how the place used to be worked, from where the water was drawn down and stored etc. All this and good natured banter and recalled stories. Anyone interested in the next walk? Well, it's the 13th December, 10.30am at the Marsden Station cobbles / car park. Just a local ramble, nothing over-taxing.

I've been in touch with Peter Ruffley and between us we thought we would organise another Still Waters - Portland Basin Bistro trip in the New Year. Everyone enjoyed the last one, despite the cold and snow, so I'll be in touch at some point to let you know details.

The Social evening on the 24th November at Tunnel End was a really good occasion; a mix of East and West and boat crews from Still Waters, Community Spirit and our Shuttle. Plenty of pleasant rivalry and leg-pulling. We managed 22 in number and thanks to hosts Bev and Gary for good food and a warm, cosy atmosphere.

Community Spirit is slowly but surely getting towards her adventure in May 2010 - the round trip to Liverpool. Definitely travelling along the Narrow on her outward journey, so they will be grateful for our help with the locks and local information (best pubs and eating houses) and being guided through "The Dark Side" as they affectionately refer to us - at that stage, we will have them at our mercy!

Community Spirit will leave Portland Basin on May 8th and will travel along the Narrow over the following few days. Anyone interested in helping with the locks up to Diggle and then down to Huddersfield can let me know. I know it's early days, but time flies.

That's all from me this year "me hearties", enjoy a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year and thanks to everyone for their time and effort.

(Summer 2009)

What a treat to be writing in stunning sunshine; at one point this Winter I thought we would never see it again, but it's here and the canal looks wonderful and vibrant again, and as you all know, the scenery is breathtaking. However, enough of waxing lyrical.

The "Shuttle" has been very popular this year and with the exception of a couple of early weekends, has done very well socially and financially - takings of £1040 so far!

More people seem to have heard of us: British Waterways and the Canal and increasingly our "clientele" come from out of the area to see what we have to offer. It's good to be able to pass on information and point people in the right direction when we don't have all the answers.

Children are still such a treat to watch and listen to; they are so enthusiastic and not shy at talking about what they want and the "ittle boat" fires their imaginations.

We've done another wedding, cruising from Lock 42 to the Visitor Centre, carrying Bride and Groom, bridesmaids and attendant parents. The weather was bright and sunny and the area just lends itself to photographs and champagne al fresco.

Down to business: We have another three volunteers with Certificates in Community Boat Management, Paul Leeman, Allen Jagger and Alex Thompson; well done lads! They all enjoyed the course and we have another three candidates in August, all being well.

Peter Ruffley, from the Tameside Canal Boat Trust's "Still Waters" has three more Boatmasters, making things a lot easier for skippering his 47-seater. Two of these Boatmasters you'll know on the East Side: Tony Zajac and Alan Morton and the third is Paul Tyler. Congratulations all round and many thanks for your time and energy.

Due to me gadding off on holiday, I've nothing to report on the social side, apart from a very lively get-together after the Annual General Meeting at the Tunnel End Inn; always a good venue when the serious stuff has finished.

Until the next Issue then, have a good Summer and feel free to contact me (01484 686136) with ideas for walks, socials, volunteering etc.

May Bank Holiday on the Costa del Tunnel End and passengers embark for the trip to the station.

(Spring 2009)

Greetings! Nothing, of course, on the boating front due to the long, cold winter months, but Ronnie has been diligent and regularly fired up the Shuttle to be sure she's ready for action in a few weeks. Thanks Ronnie.

The boat trip and dinner at Portland Basin in February was a very well attended; I think we'd about fifty at the dinner, so busy, I never did a head count. The feedback was very positive and we had no complaints. We had a mixed group of East and West, which I find really rewarding, lots of good-natured banter on the your side versus our's scenario.

We also had a full table from the Community Boats Association who have taken on our training courses for our Skipper's ticket. It was good to have them along as they've been very generous with their time - letting our candidates get used to their boat before the course. Although the banter about White and Red Rose country with them is quite intense at times!! So a very successful event for which I have to say a big 'thank you' to Peter Ruffley for his organisation.

On Sunday, March 8th, we walked from Diggle to Marsden over t' top in a coolish wind, hail stones, snow and a few rumbles of thunder; it was quite bracing, to say the least.

A number of people who were at the trip and meal turned out; plenty of leg-pulling and serious information from Bob Gough and Ronnie Rose. 14 of us on this trip, which was really good and keeps us in touch over the out-of-season period.

I shall have been badgering you with Crew duties by the time you read this, so thanks in anticipation!

That just leaves me to pass on our good wishes to Terry Lomas who's had a bout of illness, well done to Maureen who'd been administering to his needs.

I look forward to seeing you all around Tunnel End and Standedge, in hopefully good weather.

Andrea Fisher, East Side Boat Coordinator