After the exploits of boats sailing to London and the various excursions and events seven boats made it to Lechlade, the head of the navigable Thames.  Moored on ‘the field’ before the historic Halfpenny Bridge there was the expected sharing of the space with the resident cows and their interest in us !!

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Halfpenny Bridge

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‘The field’ mooring & the COWS !!!

It was ten years ago, in 2012, cruising club set out on its inaugural cruise, having been conceived in Lechlade following the previous year’s Cotswold Canals Trust promotional cruise.  

As well as the usual coming together at ‘Pimms O’Clock’, a celebratory meal was arranged by Tony Little at the New Inn Hotel in Lechlade village.  After the meal, which was very good and enjoyed by all, the Commodore welcomed everybody to this momentous occasion and introduced Andrew Dyke, a founding member, to provide his recollections of the 4Cs inception.

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Speach from Andrew Dyke

Thank you Commodore for asking me to welcome you all to this gathering.

 The 4Cs club formation was the brainchild of Martin Turner. The club exists today because of his drive, and with the help of many others, the club was formed. It was their ambition that prompted the Centenary cruise, to promote awareness of the eventual reopening of the route from Saul to Lechlade.

 12-Aug-11 eleven years ago, the adventure stared.  Flotillas were split into two, with some boats going north and some south. I am not sure Saul had seen anything quite like it.  Lots of bunting. Leaders from the local council were there to wish us well, and I think the BBC was also there. There were speeches from the great and the good. It was the first time I realised that our trip was of great importance, people were very interested and, of course, the publicity for the canal restoration was massive, and free.

 We all met initially at Saul.  We knew Will Chapman, but no one else, however we soon got to know those travelling on the more southerly route, as we were delayed leaving Sharpness. The weather was certainly good enough to have BBQ’s on the towpath, and the odd tipple!  Wendy insisted I say, this was not the start of Pimms O’clock, that came later when we travelled with the club to the River Weaver.

 Over the next three or so weeks, we moored in places untried and untested before. We met people from all sorts of backgrounds. We were welcomed by boating clubs and interviewed by TV and radio. The interest in our little flotilla, and the reason we came together, was publicised around the world.

 On Sunday 04-Sep-11 I wrote in my log, – “Today it’s raining, it’s grey and it’s cold. Not what is required for the official finish to our cruise and to a welcome from the Mayor of Lechlade.”

 Not that anyone really cared.  We had arrived, we have so many memories of the experience and here we are again.”

Big thanks to Tony for not only organising the lunch meal. Also, he arranged for members to purchase clothing with the 4Cs logo embroidered and had a special 4Cs plaque to commemorate the 10th Anniversary produced.  So additional thanks are due.

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Following the meal (and drinks!!) Clara Grace, Cormoront 2 & Dabbling (with NowThen on board) cast off to cruise the short distance from the ‘the field’ moorings to the absolute extent of navigation on the Thames at Inglesham.  Here we turned in the waters adjacent the Roundhouse, where the Thames & Severn canal will join the river, and the lock on the canal has been restored. All boats successfully ‘winded’ in the restricted space and shallow waters, meaning that they had completed the full extent of narrowboat navigation from Margaretness, beyond the Barrier, to Inglesham a total of 165 miles and 46 locks. There were a couple of impromptu costumes for the trip with the Commodore, Ric Whitby, donning an appropriate (??) uniform jacket and took the salute from Cormoront 2 & Dabbling (Jan Bird wearing a duck outfit and sounding ‘whacker quacker’ duck calls – pictures censored !!).

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On returning to ‘the field’ moorings what next? Well, Pimms o’clock, of course.

Over the last 10 years, the 4Cs have done what they set out to do ‘we are the cruising club that cruises’.  So here is to the future and that the Cotswold Canals Trust restoration progresses and we can then cruise the Stroudwater section of the Thames &Severn Canal in the near future.

A big thank you to those that have organised cruises over the 10 years for the members to get together, enhance their boating experiences and have an enjoyable time.