IWA Chiltern Branch
Written by

John Brice

The resulting funds were donated to Wendover Canal Trust, WRG and many smaller waterway organisations.

The first activity started at the Wendover Canal Festivals with the hand-built Chiltern Tunnel, which was transported to many festivals throughout the UK in the back of John Brice’s business works’ truck.

The tunnel was built from a mini-scaffold tower pallets and other available oddments by John and Adrian Bull.

The mock-up boat simulating the roof deck of a narrowboat consisted of a base on wheels, which ran along a track within the tunnel. The child laid on their backs and legged it back and forth along the tunnel. This proved to be a better way of explaining to children and adults what legging a boat through entailed.  The Branch then devised the rope throwing game, showing the best and most effective way for the rope reaching a target distance.  Both were great fun to run for the children, and worthwhile as a fundraiser.

[The photos show the tunnel (above) and (left) an early stand.]

Looking at other branches’ experiences, Chiltern realised the problems of purchasing goods to sell, this often involved in storage problems and obsolete stock. The answer was, ask for jumble, it was free, although did require collection and storage. During the last 15 years this resulted in good results, partly by receiving some exceptional donations i.e. bikes.

Since Covid the opportunities to attend festivals have been severely restricted partly due to less festivals organized and the lack of volunteers. Our stalwart committee with other volunteers has aged and now range into the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s. Erecting a gazebo, transporting tables and jumble became a problem, so the jumble was discontinued and just book sales continued.



[The photo shows the stand at Rickmansworth Festival in 2022]

In 2024, with the cancellation of Rickmansworth Festival, it became clear that our attendance would probably be only at Marsworth Steam Fair in June.  On reflection, looking at our previous sales results, it was decided to discontinue the sale of books.  These waterways books had been donated to the IWA but required storage and were heavy to transport.

A worthwhile home for these books was now required.  After contacting various waterway groups and the Canal Museum, we were happy when the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust in Devizes showed interest. We asked which books they would like, and we were delighted that they were happy to take ALL 18 boxes full.

As our treasurer pointed out “these books were doing no-one any good in John’s summer house.”  The Trust has a centre open to the public all week, it has visitors arriving by coach for trips, dog walkers passing by, and boats calling in for supplies.  This will prove to be a much better sales outlet, rather than the odd festival each year.  Although this is indirect, it still counts as “Fundraising for the Waterways”.  Chiltern Branch thanks all those who over the years have donated books to us, and for those what we could not sell, we have donated on to another good waterway cause.

[The photo shows the stand at Marsworth Steam Fair in 2023]