Registered Charity No. 702429

NEWS 2003


It is nice to be able to report two further items of good news, albeit of a very different nature which amount to a breakthrough in helping the Trust to prove its Green credentials.

The first item resulted from Jan Horton's appeal for support from the West Midlands Co-op. In September they generously awarded us a grant of 250 to spend on environmental recovery along the canals. Accordingly this has been used to purchase a Stihl chain saw. This will greatly reduce the backbreaking effort needed to re-lay the many kilometres of neglected hedgerows we need to recover over the next few years. Our grateful thanks are offered to the West Midlands Co-op for their generosity.

The second success is also related to canal environmental recovery. Mike Battisson, the Trust's Environmental Officer and his team have been attempting to introduce native British bluebells in the broadleaf copse established by Trust members near to the Darnford Lane lift bridge (See CBW 36 - Other Reports). This recovery programme was submitted to the West Midlands Wildlife Trust for consideration for an award.

The good news is: we won it.

Mike's planting of trees and wild flowers at the Darnford Lane site, together with the Trust's policy of protecting wildlife in the area, landed us the West Midlands Wildlife Trusts Conservation Award, Community Category for 2003. These awards are sponsored by npower and seek to reward and publicise examples of good practise in nature conservation. Apart from the accolade, recognised by a very handsome plaque, the prize also carries a cheque for 100 (perhaps to buy more wild flower seed). In addition, we will go forward to compete for the title of overall winner for the full Midlands region.

View from Darnford Lane looking down towards the lift bridge from near Darnford Moors (Photo by Bobbie Battisson, July 2003)

Phil Hawkins of West Midlands Co-op presenting
the new chainsaw to Mike Battisson and Brian Kingshott
(Photo courtesy of West Midlands Co-op)
Graham Peak of West Midlands Wildlife Trusts and
Liz Gater of npower present Mike Battisson with his award
(Photo courtesy of npower)


On 4th September 2003 The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) announced the appointment of David and Sheila Suchet as new vice presidents.

IWA Press Release:
Both David and Sheila Suchet are well-known waterways personalities and have done much campaigning for the restoration of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals. In addition, David Suchet is one of our country's leading actors whose work covers film, theatre, radio and television, the most famous television role being that of Hercule Poirot, which is shown in over sixty countries worldwide. His contribution to drama was recognised with an OBE in Her Majesty's Birthday Honours in 2002.

John Fletcher, IWA national chairman, said today, "I am delighted that David and Sheila Suchet have agreed to become vice presidents of the Association. There can be few people who have so effectively used the wider media to galvanise public support to the waterway cause and the dramatic progress on the Lichfield and Hatherton canals is testament to their skills as well as to the Canals Trust. I know that David and Sheila's deep love and knowledge of the waterways has already been put to great use in many areas, but I am especially pleased that they have indicated a wish to use their new positions to support less well developed waterway restoration projects."

David and Sheila Suchet said, "We tremendously enjoy working for the good of the waterways, and hope that our appointment will provide us with many new opportunities to explore the canals and river navigations of the country, and maybe help put a little back in to what we so love".


Following the spectacular lifting of the aqueduct trough into position on 16th August 2003, Carlton TV contacted Jan Horton to ask if they could film a short item on our restoration project for the next series of Water World, expected to be screened in the Midlands region in January/February 2004.

A film crew duly arrived on Friday 29th August and filmed two interviews with Jan, one with the aqueduct and M6 Toll as a backdrop, and another at Ogley Junction, plus some shots of Huddlesford Junction at the other end of the Lichfield Canal. If you live in the Carlton TV area make a note to watch in the New Year!

(Photos by Bob and Sue Williams)


David and Sheila Suchet paid a visit to the IWA National Waterways Festival at Beale Park on Sunday 24th August 2003 and naturally called in at the L&H stand to offer congratulations and share the excitement of the fact the the Lichfield Canal Aqueduct is at last up. The threat that the M6 Toll brought to our canals has finally been overcome, mainly because of the David Suchet Appeal which has brought in so much public support and donations from all over the country.

To mark the occasion Brian Kingshott presented David and Sheila with a framed collection of photographs (taken by Harry Arnold) of the aqueduct trough being craned into position on the 16th August.

Looking at the photographs David said "For Sheila and I this is the culmination and fruition of the moment I stood up at the Earls Court Boat Show, all that time ago, and pledged that the L & H would be saved. Congratulations to everyone who has made it happen. We are so very happy."

Event Chairman Chris Coburn, Sheila Suchet, David Suchet and Brian Kingshott


Malcolm Burge of Alvecote Marina visited the L&H stand at Beale Park to present us with a massive cheque for 1200 representing the first of 5 year's mooring fees for one of the two spaces at the marina generously donated to L&H.

If you would like to moor your narrowboat at Alvecote Marina on the Coventry Canal please contact us for more information at

Bob Williams accepts (with great pleasure) a cheque for 1200 from Malcolm Burge of Alvecote Marina


Friday and Saturday 15th/16th August 2003 saw a magnificent achievement in the history of the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust.

The Lichfield Canal Aqueduct has at last been put in place across the M6 Toll, ensuring that the new motorway is no longer a threat to restoration of our two canals.

Our thanks go to everyone who has worked so hard to bring this about, in particular to John Horton, who, as Projects Engineer for the Lichfield Canal put so much time and effort into this huge undertaking.

The steel trough has been fabricated by Rowecord Ltd of South Wales, and we must commend them for the speed and efficiency of the installation. We are also grateful to CAMBBA for their co-operation in building the abutments and centre columns and for allowing Rowecord to have access to the site to install the trough.

Finally, a comment from our Chairman, Brian Kingshott:
"The Trust is overjoyed to see the Lichfield Canal Aqueduct finally installed. It is a great step forward in our plans to restore the whole canal."

"We are overwhelmingly grateful to all our members and many other supporters who have contributed to the appeal for funds."

"None of this could have been achieved without the the help of our Vice-President David Suchet and Sir John Smith of the Manifold Trust. Congratulations to everyone who has made this great day possible."

"Now it is full steam ahead to get the whole canal open from Brownhills to Huddlesford. We are on our way!"

Click here for more about the Lichfield Canal Aqueduct


Congratulations to Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, who has recently been appointed Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry. Michael says he is delighted and honoured to have been asked to serve on the front bench team in a role which reflects his former career before becoming a Member of Parliament.

Michael has long been a supporter of waterways in general and of the restoration of the Lichfield Canal in particular, and has given invaluable help and support to the Trust.

(Appointment announced in a news release dated 30th June 2003)


The Inland Waterways Association Restoration Committee has awarded a grant of 15,000 to Lichfield & Hatherton towards completion of the aqueduct over the M6 Toll motorway. This means we are now only 20,000 short of the amount needed to complete the structure!

The cheque was presented to Chairman Brian Kingshott by Tony Harrison, Chairman of the IWA Restoration Committee and Liz Payne, IWA Deputy Chairman, at Crick Boat Show on Saturday 24th May 2003.

In presenting the award Tony Harrison commended LHCRT for our determination and perseverance, not only for our success in achieving navigable crossings for both the Hatherton Canal and the Lichfield Canal through the M6 Toll, but also for bringing about a change of government policy that will ensure that any future road builders will have to make provision for any canal under restoration or that has a possibility of future restoration.

Brian Kingshott, Tony Harrison and Liz Payne at Crick Boat Show 2003
(Photo by Bob Williams)

Back on the stand, Brian Kingshott, Mike Brown and Rob Davies show the cheque to supporters, before getting back to work

After such a good start the Crick Show was sure to be a success, and we were not disappointed. We were selling Laurence Hogg's videos, as we usually do at the shows, and thanks to the recent release on video of the ever popular canal classics, "The Bargee" and "Painted Boats", our sales broke all previous records.

"The Bargee" and "Painted Boats", available on video
at 14.95 each or 27.95 for the pair
(See Sales Page)

We are as ever, grateful to all the helpers who worked hard over the Bank Holiday on our stand. Thanks go to Rob Davies, Bob & Sue Williams, Mike Brown, Hilary Smith and a special mention to Merleen and Paul Watson who joined the Trust in February and kindly volunteered their help.

Just before the show closed at 5pm on Monday we were delighted to welcome Belvoir (see photo) the newest member to our Pets Club, owned by members Philip Dumelow and Frances Lord. If your pet has expressed a preference for L&H do get in touch. Membership is for life and costs 5.


The May Bank Holiday weekend 2003 was another busy time around the L&H restoration sites. Kingdom Tours arranged a visit from a party of 35 canal enthusiasts, who enjoyed a packed itinerary, put together by "Tour Guide" Phil Sharpe.

Conducted by Phil Sharpe and Mike Smith, they visited most of the Lichfield Canal on Saturday 3rd May, including the aqueduct site and a visit to Sandfields Pumping Station, where Chris Pattison gave them a potted history and guided tour of the pumping station and historic Cornish Beam Engine.

On Saturday evening Bob Williams entertained them with his computer-based audio-visual presentation on the restoration, and on Sunday they toured the Hatherton Canal sites, had a ride on the Chasewater Railway and visited the Forest of Mercia Visitor Centre, finally returning to their hotel via Huddlesford Junction.

All in all, a very busy weekend. We hope they weren't too exhausted to enjoy their visit to the Ashby Canal on Monday.

Many thanks to Phil for all his hard work in putting it together, to Mike Smith, Chris Pattison and Bob Williams for their help, and to Kingdom Tours for their generous donation to our funds.

What a pity that these twin culverts were not built to navigable dimensions

Viewing the columns and abutments for the Lichfield aqueduct

Culvert 155 ("The David Suchet Tunnel") at Churchbridge

Visiting Huddlesford Junction

Calf Heath Marina

An interesting comparison - Calf Heath in 1950
(with thanks to Mr S. Heaton for the photograph)
(Other photographs by Phil Sharpe)


Saturday 28th April was the date of this year's Annual General Meeting. David Suchet rang on Wednesday evening to say that despite his busy schedule he would be able to join us, and of course he would love the chance to see how the aqueduct was progressing.

The west abutment with shuttering in place

David Suchet & Brian Kingshott inspect the columns and abutments

Behind the west abutment

CAMBBA prepare to surface the new M6 Toll

"Isn't this fantastic!"
(Photos by Bob Williams)

Eric Wood, Roger McLellan, Mike McDonald, David Suchet and Ray Hartshorne at Lichfield Cruising Club
(Photo by Des Barnard)

The morning ended with a visit to Lichfield Cruising Club, and then lunch, followed by the A.G.M. at 2 o'clock.

Chairman Brian Kingshott welcomed everyone to Whittington Village Hall, with special thanks to our Vice-President David Suchet for his unfailing support and encouragement.
This year saw Directors Denis Cooper and John Horton both retiring from the Board. The Chairman paid tribute to the work of both these directors and stressed how much we owe to them both. They each received an engraved carriage clock as a small token of our gratitude.

Click here for the full text of the Chairman's and Directors' Reports

David Suchet presents John Horton with an engraved carriage clock
on his retirement as Lichfield Canal Project Director.

Brian Kingshott presents flowers to Carol Cooper and Jan Horton,
the wives of the two retiring Directors

The Chairman then had a surprise in store for David Suchet. In anticipation of his birthday next month, Brian Kingshott presented him with a 100 year old windlass donated to the Trust by Laurence Hogg.

An antique windlass from Laurence Hogg's collection

Brian Kingshott wishes David a Happy Birthday

David Suchet presents a donor's certificate to Life Member Don Wight
for his latest contribution to the David Suchet Appeal

After the AGM David joins members visiting the restoration sites at Tamworth Road
He is seen here chatting to foreman Peter Matthews about progress at Lock 26
(Photograph by Bob Mullarkey)


Once again we have to thank Eric & Doreen Wood, who threw their garden open at Easter for another Coffee Morning at Whittington Wharf. After several hot and sunny days the weather turned disappointingly cold, but the Coffee Morning, Cake Stall and Bring & Buy sale attracted a number of passing boaters and local people. Derek and Margaret's BBQ lunch was a hot success and very welcome.

Whittington Wharf, Easter 2003, with visiting boats

Eric runs a delivery service for a visiting boater

The Bring & Buy Stall did a roaring trade

Derek Beardsmore & Mike Brown
barbecuing in the garage to keep out of the wind!
(Photos by Bob Williams)

On Saturday evening Derek and Margaret Beardsmore had arranged a Barn Dance at the Village Hall with music from "Mother's Ruin" and a delicious hot supper put on by Pat Barton and Terry Robertson.

The two events together raised just over 1000 for our funds. Thank you to everyone who helped to make it another great event, and especially to Doreen and Eric for their hospitality.

Lichfield District Council has granted an award of 5000 to the Lichfield & Hatherton towards the fund for the Lichfield Canal Aqueduct. The award was publicly presented during a presentation evening at the Guildhall in Lichfield on Wednesday 2nd April 2003. The Trust was represented by John and Jan Horton and Finance Director Bob Williams, who collected the award from Councillor John Dickson, Chairman of Lichfield District Council.

Councillor John Dickson (right) and Councillor Colin Greatorex (centre) present the Council award to Bob Williams

Work on the new M6 Toll motorway is well ahead of schedule and the road could be open to traffic by the end of September this year. This means, of course, that we have got a race against time on our hands to get the Lichfield Canal Aqueduct completed before the road opens.

Work on the centre columns and side abutments is now almost complete (see photograph) and in February the Trust ordered the fabrication of the steel aqueduct trough. We still need about 30,000 to cover the final bills for erection of the structure, but donations are still coming in almost daily to the David Suchet Appeal and we have (with good reason) enormous faith in our supporters. If you haven't got around to sending your donation yet, it's still not too late!

For more aqueduct details


Date: 28th March 2003

The Inland Waterways Association today announced that a grant of 15,000 is to be awarded to the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. The award will go towards ensuring that the Aqueduct, which will take the Lichfield Canal over the M6 Toll motorway, is constructed by the end of Summer 2003.

Brian Kingshott, chairman of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, said, "Construction of culverts for the Hatherton Canal has already been completed, and the Trust has been working hard to secure the additional necessary funding for construction of the aqueduct over the motorway. This award from IWA will go a long way towards closing the remaining funding gap to enable the trough to be installed over the motorway later this year. Completion of the main aqueduct structure will be a very visible sign of the success of the Trust and its supporters in overcoming the threats of severance posed by motorway construction, and securing the route for the future full restoration of the Lichfield and Hatherton canals".

IWA national chairman John Fletcher said, "IWA has been one of the main contributors to the Trust's David Suchet Appeal, having given 20,000 in March 2001. A further 22 donations by IWA's branches and regions have provided an additional 15,000, and there have been many other donations from individual IWA members. The Appeal was set up to raise funds that would ensure that the Lichfield and Hatherton canal routes are protected from severance by the new Birmingham Northern Relief Road (now known as the M6 Toll). IWA is now providing a total of about 50,000 towards the Appeal, representing a very substantial investment and commitment of faith in this restoration scheme".

John Fletcher added, "IWA is delighted that the donation will help to secure the construction of the aqueduct. It would have cost a lot more to build after the road had opened, and it would have caused major traffic disruptions".


Chairman Ron Evans and Secretary Margaret Pitney from IWA Chester & District Branch
present their 1000 cheque to Finance Director Bob Williams
(Photo by Sue Williams)

Many thanks to Ron Evans and his committee at Chester IWA for raising another superb 1,000 for the David Suchet Appeal, to add to the 500 they have already donated.
Their cheque was presented at the NEC Boat Caravan and Outdoor Show on 15th February 2003.


On Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd February 2003 the OwnerShips Open Weekend was held at Braunston Marina. Trust Chairman Brian Kingshott opened the show and was presented with two 1,000 cheques for the David Suchet Appeal, one from Tim Coghlan of Braunston Marina and one from Allan Matthews of Ownerships.

On the Saturday evening Tim Coghlan sponsored a performance of "The Moon on the Water" a new play by
with ticket proceeds of 450 also going to the David Suchet Appeal.

Many thanks to Tim, to Day-Star, and to all the people in the audience who braved the cold to enjoy an excellent performance by Pete (Duffy) and Jane.

We had a really good weekend, the weather was fine and sunny most of the time, and lots of people turned up to see the show. The catering team (all volunteers from Ownerships) did a marvellous job serving non-stop hot food and drinks throughout the show. The Trust's Marketing Team this time consisted of Mike and May Brown, Derek and Margaret Beardsmore and Bob and Sue Williams. Thanks also to Chris Haslewood and Terry Fullwood for preparing new pictures for the displays.
A number of our members and friends popped by to see how we are getting on, and seven new members joined the Trust.

Sue Williams with visitors to our stand, John Foden (member) and Alastair Barnsley


Once again our friends at Stafford Boat Club made the Lichfield and Hatherton's David Suchet Appeal their chosen charity of the year in 2002. On Saturday 25th January 2003 Bob and Sue Williams were invited to join them for a fun social evening to be presented with their very generous cheque for 1300. This brings their total donations to the David Suchet Appeal to 2600. Our thanks go to all the members of SBC whose dedicated fund-raising efforts have made it possible.

Commodore John Mountfort presents SBC's cheque to Finance Director Bob Williams

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