Canal Taverners Boat Club

AWCC Club of the Month – March 2009

The Canal Taverners Boat Club is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. We are marking the event starting with a 2009 Calendar, commemorative brass plaques, special T’ and Polo shirts, and an Anniversary Dinner & Presentation on Friday 20th March, the exact date of the Club’s inaugural meeting. There will be two special editions of the Taverner magazine, the first looking back over the last twenty years and the second documenting the Club’s events during 2009, this along with a DVD are just some of the things taking place to celebrate our special year.

Where and when we meet:

The Club meets in the Canal Tavern, situated just below the lock at Bradford on Avon on a beautiful stretch of the Kennet & Avon canal. Meetings take place on the third Wednesday of each month commencing at 8.00 pm with the exception of August and December when there is no meeting. The Club’s Annual General Meeting is held in January. Each meeting is concluded either with an invited speaker or an activity such as a quiz, or auction etc. If when visiting the area it coincides with a meeting night you are welcome to attend.

The beginning: Towards the end of 1988 a small group of boaters some of whom were Kennet & Avon Canal Trust members used to go to the Canal Tavern, Bradford on Avon for a quiet Sunday lunchtime pint (Wadworth’s 6X of course).

They generally talked about the increasing number of boats using the Western end of the K&A canal. As members of the K&A Trust they realised that the Trust had no mandate to speak solely on behalf of boaters and so it was suggested that they form a Boat Club.

They believed that as boaters this would give them a voice in promoting boating interests, and by giving them a legitimate reason for being in the Canal Tavern it would keep them out of trouble with their wives when they arrived home late for their Sunday lunch.

So after several weeks of discussion and consuming many pints of 6X they decided to call the Club the Canal Taverners, the objectives of the CTBC were determined to be:

  • Social, including imbibing 6X
  • To promote and support any measure which will improve navigation and boating activities.

The landlord of the Canal Tavern gave them permission to hold meetings in the Dundas Bar on any Wednesday evening and so on Wednesday 20th March 1989 the CTBC was founded. Motto, ‘Panic Slowly’.

As the canal opened up to through navigation in the early nineties more and more boats were using the canal, so much so that by the mid nineties the Club’s membership rapidly increased from approximately eight in the beginning and has settled at around 70 members at the present day.

A Few Highlights:

Barton Farm Swing bridge/Meadows Footbridge: At the beginning of the nineties when the number of boats using the canal increased it soon became apparent that the swing bridge to Bradford on Avon Sewage Works which was rarely used by vehicles, was causing considerable difficulties and some danger to users.

It was suggested by the CTBC that the bridge should be left in the open position and that an up and over footbridge should be provided for pedestrian access to the non-towpath side of the canal which would give vehicle drivers access to swing the bridge allowing them entry to the sewage plant. After much correspondence and a meeting between the Club, Wessex Water and BW it was agreed by Wessex Water that they would provide a footbridge at a cost of £35,0

DR John Meadows breaks the tape

Dr John Meadows breaks the tape

In November 1992 Dr John Meadows the Club’s No.1 (Club parlance for Chairman) broke the tape at the opening ceremony which included a towpath champagne celebration organized by Wessex Water.

Sadly Dr John Meadows who was a canal enthusiast and who along with a few other enthusiasts brought about the formation of the CTBC died on 24 March, 1993.

Following his death permission was given for the Club to name the bridge in his memory. At a ceremony on Sunday 25th April,1993 his daughter Sylvia witnessed by over 80 people unveiled a plaque naming the bridge Meadows Bridge, a fitting tribute to the memory of Dr John and his wife Meg who, some years earlier, was taken ill at the Swing Bridge and died.

The Royal British Legion:

We have for the past seventeen years successfully given members of the Royal British Legion, who were convalescing at Somerset Legion House, Weston Super Mare a day out on the K&A canal, starting with a cruise aboard club members own boats, a visit to the Canal Tavern and ending with a meal prepared back onboard the boats.

Legionnaires & Taverners enjoy a drink in the sunshine

Legionnaires & Taverners enjoy a drink in the sunshine

Sadly this event, enjoyed by legionnaires and club members alike, has come to an end due to the Royal British Legion’s health and safety policy.

The Taverner Magazine:

The Taverner was produced all through the nineties by Robert Coles and his wife Pat. Their arrival at the Club’s monthly meetings with copies of the Taverner was greeted with great excitement as members eagerly looked to see if they were included in its pages or to see what controversial opinion Robert had expressed regarding BW’s latest actions or proposals. Robert certainly had the knack of ruffling the feathers of BW’s local management.

Eventually Robert and Pat bowed out and the Taverner was taken over in the year 2000 by John Richardson ably assisted by Hazel Yates Jones. The magazine now has a different format and is issued three times each year and includes articles written by Club members, items of interest about the Kennet & Avon canal, British Waterways and many more.

What we do:

The Canal Taverners Boat Club is a very socially active club with activities arranged throughout the year. These include the Annual Dinner, a boat trip on the Bridgwater/Taunton Canal, Boules Competition, several planned and impromptu BBQ’s.

Club members also attend the Bristol Harbour Festival, Newbury Boat Festival, Wilts & Berks Canal Trust BBQ and the Carol Service at Dundas and some interclub events.

The Club is a member of the Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs (AWCC), the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) and we are represented on the K&A Users Forum.

We have our own website at where you can find out much more about the Club, and if you wish to join you can print off a Membership Application Form.

© Canal Taverners Boat Club 2009