The new chair­man of Ashby Canal Trust tells us about his in­volve­ment with canals, both pro­fes­sion­ally and vol­un­tar­ily

Canal Boat - - Contents - GE­OFF PURS­GLOVE Ashby Canal Trust Chair­man

Ashby Canal Trust Chair­man Ge­off Purs­glove

1 What first at­tracted you to the wa­ter­ways? I have liked the idea of be­ing on water since I was young, but never put it into prac­tice ex­cept as a pas­sen­ger on the oc­ca­sional fam­ily river trip. I re­mem­ber a cruise on the River Med­way when I was around seven or eight, down­stream past the old derelict fac­to­ries (long gone now), and I found that much more in­ter­est­ing than the coun­try­side we passed on the up­stream trip.

2 Tell us about your boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. My first proper boat­ing was on the Hos­tel craft horse drawn nar­row­boat Pamela. I had a week’s hol­i­day on the boat, for £25. I did three weeks later on in the year as horse boy, and was paid £12 a week. I de­cided boat­ing was fun, and have had a suc­ces­sion of boats since then, in­clud­ing the ex-FMC steamer Van­guard for over 20 years, and, by con­trast, my cur­rent boat is a 27ft trail­able Sea Ot­ter.

3 Which is your favourite wa­ter­way? I sup­pose I have to say the Ashby. Fail­ing that the Strat­ford Avon takes a lot of beat­ing, and the ul­ti­mate aim of con­nect­ing to the Grand Union past War­wick has got to be worth pur­su­ing.

4 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try? A chance to get away from it all. It is an ex­cel­lent tourism and leisure re­source which all can en­joy – you don’t have to have a boat to en­joy the tow­ing paths and the sights and sounds of the wa­ter­ways.

5 What do the wa­ter­ways need most? Well, in­vest­ment I sup­pose, or at least the cer­tainty of a sta­ble in­come for the fore­see­able future.

6 How long have you been in­volved with Ashby Canal Trust? Since it was formed in 2000.

7 What work have you done with the Trust? I’ve acted as Min­utes Sec­re­tary since the be­gin­ning, formed the ACT com­mit­tee which organises the Moira Canal Fes­ti­val ( I am cur­rently Events and Pub­lic­ity Of­fi­cer) and, un­til I re­tired, I acted as li­ai­son be­tween the Trust and Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil. I am now an ACT Di­rec­tor, and Chair­man.

8 How did you first get in­volved with the Trust? Work­ing with oth­ers in­volved with the Ashby Canal, par­tic­u­larly the Moira Fur­nace Mu­seum Trust, which owned a length of canal bed at Moira, and the Ashby Canal As­so­ci­a­tion.

9 Tell us more about the work you did with Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil. As Ashby Canal Project Of­fi­cer, ini­tially it was all about rais­ing aware­ness of the pos­si­bil­ity of restora­tion of the canal, a lot of lo­cals feel­ing it was a lost cause ( some still do). After that it was a ques­tion of keep­ing ev­ery­thing sim­mer­ing, and get­ting le­gal ap­proval by way of the first Trans­port and Works Act ( TWA) Or­der for a canal, land ac­qui­si­tion, ap­ply­ing for grants, and restor­ing a length of canal at Moira, and shorter lengths at Snare­stone.

10 What do you think of the Canal & River Trust? From a restora­tion point of view, I can’t fault them. From a “what has that got to do with us?” at­ti­tude from a few Bri­tish Wa­ter­ways of­fi­cers in the early days to pos­i­tive and con­struc­tive sup­port now.

11 Any em­bar­rass­ing mo­ments on a wa­ter­ways jour­ney? In my youth I was out on a friend’s boat from Brent­ford to Teddington. The Thames was in flood and the boat de­vel­oped a fuel leak which re­duced our speed to lit­tle more than tick­over. It wasn’t dan­ger­ous, there were plenty of places to tie up and wait the tide, but we flagged down a river po­lice launch and got towed into Teddington Lock.

12 Have you ever fallen in?

I stepped off the boat across a 2ft gap once, picked up a full jerry can of diesel and stepped back on – and fell be­tween the boat and the bank.

13 What did you want to be aged 12? A tele­vi­sion cam­era­man.

14 Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?

Still boat­ing – on the fully re­stored Ashby Canal.

15 What do you think of the peo­ple on the canals? Gen­er­ally great, we all have some­thing in com­mon, and it is easy to strike up a friend­ship work­ing up a long lock flight.

16 What is your proud­est achieve­ment? Steer­ing the TWA Or­der through.

17 Where would you choose to do a dream cruise? From Moira on the Ashby to the Glouces­ter & Sharp­ness via the Thames and Sev­ern and Stroud­wa­ter canals.


What are you read­ing at the mo­ment? The Ball in a more and Bally con­nel Canal by P.J. Flana­gan.

19 Tell us about your spare time in­ter­ests. I like lis­ten­ing to most kinds of mu­sic. I also own a 1954 Mor­ris Mi­nor split screen Trav­eller.

20 What su­per­power would you like to pos­sess? Pos­si­bly not a su­per­power, but be­ing a bet­ter reader of body lan­guage.

A re­stored length of the Ashby at Moira Fur­nace

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