What a difference 40 years makes
IN Bristol Times (October 2) you carried a short feature on the back page about the Bristol Packet, and included a photo of Nick and Corinna Gray on board their narrowboats, "Redshank" and "Greenshank", speaking with two men and a woman on the dockside above them.
At the time I first saw your article and its illustration, I was fairly certain that the middle figure on the quayside could well be my good friend, Fred Blampied.
Fred was, at that time, the chairman of the South West Branch of The Inland Waterways Association, an organisation of which had been a member since 1955. In 1974, on a reorganisation of the association he became chairman of the Avon and Wilts Branch, the position which I presently hold.
Fred is still with us, although his health has declined, and he was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June, for his services to inland waterways during more than 50 years.
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I was uncertain as to the identity of the other two people in the photograph.
But I have established that the young lady behind Fred is Mrs Jeanne Aldous, who is currently Hon. Secretary of our Avon and Wilts Branch. The other man, bending forward in conversation, is David Neal (or Neill), an engineer with the Port of Bristol Authority.
Beyond the main focus of the shot, it can be seen how much St Augustine's Reach has altered in 40 years or so; empty, deserted, and desolate quays either side, no boat movements on the water, e.g. by ferries, no trees planted on the Narrow Quay side to the left of the picture, no Pero's Bridge at the far end. The position today is a very good example of the regeneration that can be brought about around a waterway when development faces the water, and makes positive use of it, rather than turning the back to the water.