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navvies volunteers restoring

waterway recovery group

waterways

Issue No 233 February-March 2009 page 1


Navvies Production

Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ

Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine.

Martin Ludgate

Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk

Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, Malcolm Bridge, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, Roger Day, Neil Edwards, George Eycott, John Fletcher, Adrian Fry, John Hawkins, Jennifer Leigh, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith. Secretary: Neil Edwards ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2009 WRG

Martin Ludgate

Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA). The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89.

Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for page 2


Contents

In this issue...

Chairman on mice, videos and diggers 4 Coming soon training and lots more 5-9 Camp reports from the Wilts & Berks, Wilts & Berks and Wilts & Berks 10-14 London WRG on the Basingstoke 15-16 WRG BITM on the Grantham 17 WRGWear buy your WRG logo clothing 18 Directory WRG and canal societies 19-21 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 22-24 Letters rude acronyms, H&S and babies 25 Progress restoration roundup 26-30 Xmas dig report form the Wilts & Berks 31-33 WRG Northwest a year in the life 34-35 KESCRG Basingstoke and W&B 36-37 Navvies News free Burcos! 38-40 Noticeboard who’s having kids now? 41 Infill introducing Jane and John 42-43

Above Cotswold Canals: laying out lower wing wall coping stones at Eisey Lock on a joint WRG SW and London WRG dig. Left Wilts & Berks WRG New Year Camp: another log for the fire. (See p10-11) Below: volunteers needed for Canalway Cavalcade - see pages 6-7. Front cover Wilts & Berks: London WRG’s Tirfor teams in action at Seven Locks. See p40 for some important info on Tirfor use. (photo by Martin Ludgate Back cover top left WRG NW on the Hollinwood (John Hawkins) Top right London WRG at Deepcut on the Basingstoke (Martin Ludgate) Bottom left BITM on the Grantham (Dave Wedd) Bottom right KESCRG at Brookwood on the Basingstoke (Bobby Silverwood)

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, typed, on CD-ROM, DVD or by email. Photos also welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please state whether you want your prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG format, but if you have a lot of large files it is best to send them on CD-ROM or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 234: March 1st.

Martin Ludgate

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. This is a minimum subscription, kept low so that everyone can afford to subscribe. Please add a donation if you can.

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3


Chairman

MKP makes his points

...on diggers, instructor guidance, why you should book on a canal camp, vintage video footage or WRG, and mice...

Chairman’s notes Sorry folks, I’m afraid it’s not going to be the usual Chairman’s Comment; just a set of bullet points as I have been to busy with a secret project* to manage any form of skilful humorous narrative this time. Book on a camp – now. We’ve put together our first preview article (see pages 8-9) to help you decide which one to go on. Please return the favour and help us plan things by sending off your Canal Camps booking as soon as possible. There have been a couple of incidents recently (not on our sites, to be fair, but they did look very like our sites) involving excavators and quick-hitch buckets. The problem was operators assuming they were all the same. They are not. Now its not very often that we encounter a site with such a luxury but that’s all the more reason for heeding this warning. Don’t assume they all work the same, check the instructions – in particular check what interlocks & pins are required. We had a bit of a session recently where we updated and expanded the Instructor Guidance Notes (IGNs). These are the guidance sheets for anyone instructing on any bit of plant covered by the Driver Authorisation scheme. Currently it is “strongly recommended” that all our instructors use them and, as soon as we work out how to make sure they are always available, we will probably make them mandatory. It’s a really handy way of making sure that ALL the points that need to be covered are covered, not just the ones that are obvious on the site you are currently on. They will be on the web by the time you read this. A warning: mice. If you are dropping off vans anywhere (especially at our special van dropping off point near Daventry) then please be aware that they are not sealed units and the wee beasties love to get in and either eat all that grub you have left in there or shred all the rubbish left on the dashboard etc. and nest in it. Not a problem for you of course but for the next person who picks up the van…….. One of the jobs I managed to squeeze in over Christmas was to take the huge box of miscellaneous tapes, films, etc. that I have had under my desk and transfer onto a standard set of tapes and catalogue it all. And what a lot of wonders I have found – some real gems from the sixties and a few less valuable bits of pantomimes. Anyway there should be a list on the website any day now of all the programmes/clips/footage I have uncovered. Now before I have Harry Arnold breathing down my neck I need to point out that I don’t own the copyright on any of these! It’s just that lots of people seemed to think that because I worked for the BBC’s engineering dept. I was the natural home for these things when they were throwing them out. However we will work on the question of finding the copyright holders and see what we can do about it. But if anyone has any valid “research “reason to see any of them then let me know. Perhaps the whole lot may come out at the National sometime, who knows. Nothing to do with us for once but just a reminder that your driving licence photo-card actually has an expiry date on it – yes take it out and look now its under item 4b. Apparently they have started sending out reminders to ensure you refresh it but when you do please ensure that you send in the (inevitable) cheque for £17.50 that you mention any existing categories and ensure they get put on the replacement card as they have a habit of dropping off. See you all soon Mike Palmer * It’s called going on holiday!

. . .

. .

.

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Coming soon

Do you want to learn how to put up scaffolding, cook for a camp, do a risk assessment or drive an excavator? JUST ASK US!

WRG Training Weekend

Training Weekend 2009 – All volunteers welcome! Training plays a vital part in ensuring that our worksites are as safe, professional and effective as they can be and whilst this process needs to be ongoing and regular, the annual training weekend allows us to target current needs and ensure some consistency within the process. Training is available to build towards operator or instructor status within our Driver Authorisation scheme - but there’s a lot more to it than that. Don’t assume that it’s just about driving big machines: see below for some ideas of other kinds of training that we can offer and if you don’t see what you want, just ask! The aim is to target the sorts of skills that will be needed for the coming camps season or to identify needs within local groups or specific areas such as forestry. This really is the opportunity for you to speak up and say which training would be most useful and we will do our best to accommodate, provided plenty of notice is given and the suggestion is a realistic one! Training we have offered in the past has included:

. Vehicles and mobile machinery: vans, trailers, using a digital tachograph, dumpers, excavators, back hoe loaders, telehandlers, skid steers, tractors . Hand-held and other non-mobile machinery: abrasive wheels, chippers, tirfors, piling . Other practical skills: preparing for bricklaying, bricklaying, pointing, surveying/levels, scaffolding . Lots of other things: first aid, catering for a camp, risk assessments, loading and securing plant, banksman, and probably others I’ve forgotten to mention!

Martin Ludgate

Some of these are site dependent, so letting us know early could make a difference to the outcome. The date and site has yet to be confirmed but will take place in May or June, somewhere in the middle of the country, possibly at Lichfield if they will be so kind as to host us again. By the time you read this, these details will most likely have been agreed so please don’t wait until the next issue to get in touch and express your training needs – an early response is the most useful. All are welcome, regardless of prior experience - you might want to drop in for one of the days or make a weekend of it. Equally, if you are already an instructor and would like to make the weekend possible, please give me a shout…pretty please! Hope to see you all there! Bookings, suggested courses and enquiries to myself on Tel: 07719 643870 or e-mail: aliwomble@fsmail.net It’s not just about driving machines! Ali Bottomley

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Coming soon

Just in case you thought you might be in danger of having a free weekend sometime between now and summer...

Barn Dance, Cleanup, Cavalcade

WRG Leader Training Day, February 28 Don’t forget the leaders’, potential leader’s and Work party organisers’ training day, Benson Parish Hall on Saturday 28th Feb. We’ve put our heads together and come up with a varied agenda that includes

. working with BW . the latest on health and safety . camp accounts for dummies.

To book your space please contact Jenny Black by email to jenny.black@waterways.org.uk or myself by email to helen_gardner@hotmail.com or phone 07989 425346. Please let us know if you’re coming so that we buy enough lunch for you all.   Helen Gardner

Navvies Barn Dance, February 28 Also in Benson Parish Hall and also on Feb 28 is the annual Navvies’ Barn Dance. Full details were in the last issue but if you haven’t already booked there might just be a few tickets left: phone Bobby Silverwood on 07971 814986 to check. Please don’t turn up without a ticket, as fire regulations mean that if it’s fully booked we won’t be able to let you in. Sorry.

BCN Cleanup, Tame Valley Canal, March 28-29 Your chance to spend the weekend pulling bikes, prams, old tyres and whatever else you can find from the Tame Valley Canal, as our contribution to keeping the underused waterways of the Birmingham Canal Navigations open - not to mention competing to find the most bizarre item ever pulled out of their murky waters. Two years ago we found a coffin (empty) - what will we find this time? The event is run jointly by WRG, the BCN Society and local branches of The Inland Waterways Association but everyone is welcome - whether or not you work regularly with any WRG group or none. The accommodation is once again at Willingsworth High School, except that since last year it’s changed its name to the RSA Academy. Anyway it’s address is still Bilston Road, Tipton, West Midlands DY4 0BZ. Directions are on the WRG website and will be sent out to anyone who sends in their booking form. Maria Alderman is in charge of catering, so to help her and her team to buy in enough food, if you want to come please fill in the form opposite and send it in.

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice, May 2-4 Hi all. Its that time of year again. Doesn’t seem like a year already, does it? But sorry, it is... You know what I am going to ask? I’m going to ask you to book your space for the Canalway Cavalcade extravaganza of the year. As normal, the IWA’s top London event (and one of the best events in the waterways calendar) will be happening on the first Bank Holiday weekend in May, and the Pool at Little Venice will be packed with boats again on May 2nd - 4th. Plans are coming together for this year’s event. But as usual I need some volunteers for a couple of days either side of the weekend to help with the general setting up and breaking down, as well as to help with the running of the event over the weekend. Those who know the site will

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Martin Ludgate

understand the words ‘cramped’ and ‘short of space’. Unlike the National Festival over the August Bank Holiday, which uses several farmer’s fields, the Cavalcade is set around office blocks and flats near the centre of London, where the Regents Canal and the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union meet in Browning’s Pool. Over the weekend, we are planning to have up to 120 boats, (86 are already booked in) and during the event these boats mostly will be decorated in bunting and flags. Normally the merry band of ruffians from London WRG can be found aboard an old working boat called Fulbourne. They are usually up to no good, sorry I should say beavering away at Book now for the BCN Cleanup making a disguise for the boat, so it can enter the pageant. I don’t believe they have any idea at what they are doing!. No I will rephrase that: they never know what they are up to! Anyway never mind them, our waterspace team has to make sure all those 120 boats all fit in the pool, and that means getting all of them to the right moorings. The idea of Canalway Cavalcade is to make people in the vicinity appreciate what they have on their doorstep, but folks also come from miles around, and there will be all manner of traders and stalls from the herb man to the IWA stand to the Canal Museum. And our volunteers have to help with setting up and taking down all the stalls. There is fencing to be done, but not on the scale of the National, and Bungle will need help (people have been saying that about Bungle for a long time) to help with laying out cables for the electrics. The volunteers’ accommodation for our site services team, or the Moose camp as it has become called, will be no expense spared top rate, en suite (well we can always dream), hopefully on board several charity boats one of which could be NB Belfast. (No, not the ship painted grey down by Tower Bridge.) Because space is at a premium YOU DO HAVE TO BOOK IN. If you are interested in helping please let me know by email to moose@wrg.org.uk or tel: 07961 922153. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden

waterway recovery group

in association with BCNS, BW and IWA

I would like to attend the 2009 National Canal Cleanup on March 28-29 on the BCN Forename:

Surname:

Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

I require accommodation Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £

(pay 'WRG') for food (£11 for whole weekend)

Do you suffer from any allergy or illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition? YES / NO (If yes, please attach details) In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:

Phone:

Signed (parent's signature also required if aged under 18): Please send this form to: National Cleanup bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

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And then what? Canal Camps: Easter and on..

We bring you the latest on sites and leaders for this year’s Canal Camps - and a few vacancies for leaders that you might fancy filling

Canal Camps 2009

Maggie Eaton

The months are passing which means that the summer camps season is getting closer. We have two Easter camps this year, both on the Wilts & Berks Canal. the first week is being lead by Martin Thompson (‘RAF Martin’) and (assuming he’s still in the country) Chris Rowell (‘Geezer Chris’) will be assisting. The second week we are changing it around a little and Rachael Banyard will be leading while RAF Martin will be assisting. The work will be on Steppingstones Bridge where a lot of work by WRG and the local society has seen the complete rebuilding of a bridge; hopefully these camps will see completion of the structure. Into the main summer camp season, and we start with two weeks on the Montgomery Canal. The first week is being led by Lou Kellett and Alan Jervis; the second weeks leadership team is as yet unconfirmed. The work will be ‘environmentally friendly’ bank protection and possibly some stone walling at an old wharf. Soon after that we have two weeks on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals, leaders for the first week are myself (James Butler) and Gordon Brown (not the PM!) and the second week is being lead by Rob Daffern and Rachael Bowers. Work will include building bridge access ramps, installing a wooden footbridge and other works to prepare for when the canal hosts the 2010 IWA Trailboat Rally. This will also be the site for the October camp - we are currently looking for volunteers to lead this. Moving across the country, we head for the Ipswich and Stowmarket NavigaHow do you fancy bridge-building on the W&B... tion where the work involves rebuilding a lock chamber base in concrete and repairing a lock wall - after we first drive an excavator through it! Liz Wilson is leading week one with Nina Whiteman assisting, then a few weeks later (allowing time for the concrete to go off) we have another week’s where leader Ed Walker will be ably assisted by Nigel Lee. On the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal we will be attempting to build a slipway in just two weeks! Fred Towey and Lorraine Hughes are leading week one, we have an assistant for week two but as yet no leader – could it be you? The biggest project for this year is the four weeks on the Cotswolds Canals at Gough’s Orchard lock, where we’re playing a vital part in kick-starting the huge £25m Phase 1a scheme to reopen six miles of the canal over the next four years. To start the ball rolling we have our chairman Mike Palmer with assistant Becky Parr on the first week, then the second week is being led by Chris Blaxland (‘Teacher Chris’) and Martyn Worsley, the third week will see Adrian Fry flying back into the country especially to lead the camp, aided by Chris Colbourne, and there are no leaders confirmed for week four yet – this project will be a fantastic opportunity for new leaders and assistants as the continuity between successive camps means the work can be well planned in advance and vehicle movements will be minimal. So if you fancy leading a camp, this is the place to start! Among other jobs the work will include rebuilding the lock walls, repairing the lock tail bridge and towpath laying. Just down the road from here will be the KESCRG and NWPG camps on Eisey lock, also

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Martin Ludgate

on the Cotswold Canals. Further details of these camps next time. There will also be further work on the Wilts and Berks Canal, at Seven Locks with BITM and a camp at a new site at Pewsham Lock where we will be rebuilding the lock and repairing a culvert under the canal. That’s a lot of work in the south of England, but the north hasn’t been left out in the cold: there has been a lot of progress on the Chesterfield Canal recently and a camp this year will be building a winding hole out of concrete blocks. Once this has been completed another stretch of canal can be rewatered. Fancy ...or eco-bank protection on the Mont... leading this camp? Back in the south we have two weeks on the Basingstoke Canal, where we will be laying pipes and building a pump house for the next stage of the back pumping project. Although we currently have no leaders for either week this will be a good opportunity to drive machinery and cast reinforced concrete. Then we come to a camp with a difference: The IWA National Festival at Redhill near Nottingham - here WRG will help set up and run a large festival site. The leader for this two week epic Neil Collings. Do you fancy helping him? The assistant’s position is still free. In October WRG heads south to the Grand Western Canal in Devon where Martyn Worsley and Alex Bibby (one half of the ‘Tweedles’) will be leading the camp. The work will be mainly be scrub bashing with bonfires and possibly the chance of building a wooden fence. Then in November on the Wilts & Berks we have our annual big get-together weekend, the WRG Bonfire Bash a.k.a. the Reunion. Anyone fancy leading a weekend instead of a week? And as ever the year ends with a Christmas camp, which again is ideal for new leaders as the work is scrub bashing and bonfires. No leader yet but who is thinking of Christmas 09 just yet? (Well, WRG is - we’re currently choosing a site and the Montgomery looks possible) So there we are folks, that is the line up so far. As you can see we have had loads of volunteers to lead camps already but we still need more leaders and assistants. If you would like to have a go at being an assistant or would like to move up the ladder and become leader please get in contact with me. I will be delighted to hear from you and I don’t bite! Please call me James Butler on my mobile 07745 256117 or alternatively email me at james.butler@wrg.org.uk Thank you to everyone who has volunteered that I haven’t mentioned above; we haven’t forgotten about you, we are finding you a leader or assistant. So to summarise the camps we still potentially need leaders for are:

. Montgomery Canal 20th - 27th June . Basingstoke Canal 27 June-4 July . Basingstoke Canal 4 – 11 July . Wilts and Berks Canal, Pewsham Lock – 11 July . 4Cotswold Canals, Goughs Orchard Lock 15 – 22 August . Herefordshire and Gloucestershire 1 – 8 August . Canal Chesterfield Canal 15 – 22 August . IWA Festival 24 August – 3 September . Monmouthshire Canal 24 – 31 October . Bonfire Bash 7 – 8 November . Xmas camp 26 Dec – 1 Jan 2010 th

th

th

th

th

nd

st

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th

nd

th

rd

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th

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James Butler Suzie Pounce

David Miller

th

th

...or even lock rebuilding on the Stowmarket?

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Camp report

New Year on the W&B No 1

...in which we see the result of the editor badgering people to send him camp reports for Navvies...

WRG New Year Camp, Wilts & Berks trees. I am still confused about if it was a

page 10

real moose or a chocolate one. Either way I can’t see how either moose would help! I can only think it is a nickname again like the rain man on the 2-for team. I was quite pleased about today’s work as the brush they cut down was very prickly and kept getting in my eyes. I stopped using those holes ages ago for this reason. So I was happy about the progress. Day three and the chocolate Moose was back with his team. They seem to be making steady progress. There were two people who were called Tweedless, but then again nobody was in tweed. I’m confused again. Also there was someone called Along Lines. Maybe he has a fetish with straight lines? The 2-for team was progressing very fast, and it seemed overnight his son had joined the group and he was pulling out smaller stumps as he wasn’t as big as his dad. Pat, Rick, Callin’ Nobu were on this team. I don’t know why they were calling each other? Maybe another nick name? Also there were only 3 people in the team but 4 names were being spoken. After they all went home today progress was looking good now. When Badge comes back from her Xmas break to the in-laws she will be pleased I think.

Martin Ludgate

Hi, My name is Bidge and I am a badger. My English isn’t very good so please bear with me. I live in the Wilts and Berks canal. I am writing to tell you about my garden that has been ‘Groundforced’. I never knew about Navvies until the other day, when I found a couple of pages by a fire. I can only guess they tried rubbing them together to make flames. When I say ‘they’ I think they are called ‘workies’. I think this is wrong as sometimes they were throwing a rugby ball about. An expensive item to throw around if you ask me and I can’t see how it was ‘work’ but they enjoyed it and it kept me amused from my hole. Nothing like some downtime. I should know, from all the digging I do. Anyway. At the end of the first day I went out and had a look at the work they had done. It was dark after they all left as I was too shy (not to mention nocturnal) to look during the day. I was slightly cross as my favourite toilet tree had been cut down. I had used that tree for years and years. Oh well. Nothing like a change. There were lots of workies. I don’t think the workies can remember too many names as they were calling some people by the same name! The two-for team pulling out the tree stumps had two people called Paul. One chap was called In. I couldn’t work out where he had to go in to. Some one else in that team was called Ad-Rain. Or was it A Drain? Maybe he has bad luck with water or something. I got woken up bright and early on day two with the patter of feet going past my holes as the workies arrived. Today I watched from another hole as they had moved on down from yesterdays bit of garden. Today I spotted a moose helping chop

Teamwork on the Tirfor winch...


...and on the bowsaw too

200823 spent a week removing trees and scrub from a heavily overgrown length of the Wilts & Berks Canal (North Wilts branch) between Moredon and Swindon, clearing sections of the canal and pathways, burning the scrub on bonfires, and successfully avoiding disturbing the area’s nocturnal population by working around the various badger setts in the area. Those working on the camp, some of whose names you might have deciphered from the above report were: Cameron Abercrombie, Maria Alderman, Alex and Lucas Bibby (aka the Tweedles), Ian Bunn, James Butler, Michael Chase, Julia Davenport, Helen Gardner, Dave Hearnden, Paul Ireson, Nobuhiro Kusanagi, Nigel Lee, Tim Lewis, Alan Lines, Martin Ludgate, Patrick Mach, Bob Metcalf, David Miller, Colin Offord, Suzie Pounce, Paul Shaw, Adrian Sturgess, Ed Walker, David Worthington, Jenny Worthington and Richard Worthington

Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

Day five, You and Aimes who were leading the garden makeover and Dave who everyone said was Sleepy and someone they Might Chase started on the blackthorn to make a pathway through. This made me laugh with the shouts of ooh, ouch, argh. They weren’t very good at making a fire as the blackthorn isn’t very good at burning. It did make my life easier though for when I visit Doris further down the canal. She lives on her own. bless her, and has a fence in front of her home. Very safety conscious! In the evening I heard some people say they were going to kick an Ass with skittles in a pub. I’m slightly worried incase they see me running away but I’m sure it is only a saying. They were against Rachael’s Barnyard camp. 1 all was won we believe and 1 team lost. Or something. The Moose was commentator for the night. Day five, and today it isn’t really a race to get things done as they are ahead of schedule. Ad-Rain has left the rain behind but I am worried about one person on site called Floodgate. Maybe they are related? They don’t look the same though except for a beard but I have one too. At the end of today the makeover has been completed and I love it. I have some non prickly routes to the river for a drink, the holes I use are still covered in undergrowth, my scratching post is still standing, all the stumps were 2-for’ed out so I don’t run into them at night. Bootyful. I would like to thank everyone for all their hard work and for Maria for cooking lovely meals. I saw some in my garden a couple of times turned into soup and they did smell good. They didn’t leave any crumbs on the floor for me to try though. Bidge But seriously folks... In case you couldn’t make out what was going on, Camp

Pruning branches using a saw-on-a-stick

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Camp report

...and now we hear from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust’s own New Year Canal Camp at Seven Locks...

New Year on the W&B No 2

friends. He was a huge soppy, drooly, 12½ stone Newfoundland, and made a very good door stop/draught excluder/trip hazard. He Our Christmas camps seem to attract a regu- must be the biggest dog ever on a canal lar group of old friends - plus a few new camp. Any other challengers? ones made during the year- and it’s great to It’s not often one can say this, but we see them all, and we had some good “craic”. actually had seven days without a drop of Welsh Alan had a heavy cold and couldn’t rain to halt our plans. There were frosty make it this year, and John Hawkins had to nights, and a bitterly cold east wind by day sit at home twiddling his thumbs (at least on straight from Siberia, but we had lots of his uninjured hand), deciding to join us just roaring bonfires to thaw out by. On New on New Year’s Eve for the one day and night. Year’s Eve itself, the temperature never rose As it turned out, he had withdrawal sympabove -2C, and the bonfires were built up toms, and turned up on the 30th, only to higher than ever! have to go home again on the 31st because Di is attempting to lay nearly half a mile he was poorly! Very much a case of the best of towpath hedge this winter, behind the laid plans of mice and men etc. I hope that Peterborough Arms at Dauntsey, and on both hand and tummy are fully fit again Boxing Day and the 27th we all went up to soon. gather all her brash and burn it, and to clear Mina couldn’t believe her eyes when out the old wood from the next sections to one of the newest campers turned up, as he be laid. This took about six bonfires, and was more than twice her size (and she’s not a there was a lot more yet to be burnt. small dog), but she’s a game lass and was On Sunday we decamped to Seven soon dancing round him and teasing him, Locks, and were joined by the local work remaining just out of reach of his massive party. We were allowed onto the section paws - although they became quite good around and below Lock 1, owned by Waite Hill Farm, to commence clearance working from the farm up towards Lock 1. The farmer had felled a lot of trees on the offside into the cut, and we dragged some of these out and burned them - more bonfires of course. There’s a lot more to clear, but we made a good start, the farmer was pleased, and we’re going back there in the New Year. On Monday, the camp divided into two, with a small contingent going to Foxham to knock in some piles that were put in last year to try to seal a leak in the Rosemary valve chamber. The rest carried on with the hedge clearance at Dauntsey, but there is still a lot more to burn! Tuesday and Wednesday saw Di embarks on her hedgelaying marathon: everyone back at Seven Locks, attempting to lay half a mile of hedge this winter strimming and clearing trees and Luke Walker

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Christmas & New Year Camp

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Camp report

“the temperature never rose above -2C, and the bonfires were built up higher than ever”

New Year at Seven Locks

Luke Walker

Martin Ludgate

myself, Ken and Rob. On Tuesday night, the WRG camp at Swindon joined ours at the Peterborough Arms for a skittles night. Our team, the Olde Peculiars, won two of the three rounds against the two WRG teams The Young Guns and the Old Farts (well, Moose was in charge), and Daddy Cool won the ‘Killer’ round. This Wadworths pub has had a very unpleasant tenant landlord for the last few years, who managed to alienate most of the Dauntsey Lock population, but it has now been taken over by a couple who Clearing the offside between locks 3 and 4 moved into a house beside the lock a couple of years ago, and we are keen to support them. scrub from the offside between Locks 3 and As with most camps, our numbers 4, and the whole area is transformed. We’d fluctuated slightly; with 12-14 most days. My intended Tirforing the rest of the stumps at Lock 5, and breaking down some huge thanks to Rob, Ollie, Sue, Martin, Ken, stumps already pulled out so they could be Debbie, Robin, Frank, Luke, Alan, David, dragged onto bonfires, but this will now wait Steve, John and Di. until London WRG come in January. [see It’s been a great week. cover picture …Ed] Rachael Banyard Di started a heavy cold at Christmas, but struggled through, helping me to cook breakfast, preparing lunch for everyone and delivering it to site (including lots of hot soup), shopping, putting in a few hours hedgelaying, then returning to cook tea, with plenty of hot puddings. She is gradually increasing her repertoire of recipes for puddings, courtesy of Ellie and Dr. Liz of KESCRG. Di tried to keep her germs to herself, but inevitably some The cleared towpath below Lock 1 of us succumbed, including

page 13


Camp reports

Another camp, another site, but we’re still on the Wilts & Berks Canal...

September on the Wilts & Berks

Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Five of us on this camp had been heavily involved with the Droitwich Barge Lock Yet another “unofficial” camp at this site: unof- project, and unfortunately for us the grand ficial in that five of the navvies decided after opening was arranged for the Friday of this the Easter camps that we ought to have ancamp. We would obviously all have liked to other one this year, albeit only a 4-day camp. attend at Droitwich, not only to see the We were very fluky in view of the short finished project, but to provide a few extra duration that the weather was ideal, and we red T-shirted WRGies to support Mike were able to work longish days, raising one Palmer. In view of our camp only being four of the parapet walls another eight courses. days, we felt that we couldn’t spare most of We are now only two courses from the copus for three-quarters of a day away, so John ing stones on that side, and Martin Thompand Martin went as our representatives. son, John Hawkins, Rob Brotherston and We had two sloping planks leading myself came away well satisfied with our from the bank up to the top lift of scaffoldbricklaying work. We were ably assisted this ing, which Mina the dog found a bit offtime by Ken Whapples fetching and carrying, puffing at first. However, she realised that if supplying us with bricks and mortar. We also she was to fulfil her role as supervising the had help from Richard Hawkins (no relation work (which she sees as a dog’s duty on a to John!) from Wootton Bassett Branch on camp) she would have to overcome her fears, and she was soon treading the boards like a good ‘un. Di got very frustrated with the cooker at Watchfield Village Hall, which has a double oven, neither of which works as it should. One has a series of five buttons with symbols which noone understood, two of which have to be pressed to make the oven work at all, and it still didn’t cook properly, and the other burnt the tops of puddings without cooking the middle! Steppingstones has been a rather long drawn-out project but it’s good to see progress being made. Parapet walls nearing completion Rachael Banyard John Hawkins

Steppingstones Lane Bridge 25-28 September 2008

page 14


Dig report

Finally Sophie comes to the rescue with a report from a work party that - amazingly wasn’t held on the Wilts & Berks Canal...

London WRG on the Basingstoke

Martin Ludgate

Martin, Tim and Ed got stuck in with relish to a very noisy task involving stamping down some big metal planks with a big heavy stomping machine. I don’t know what the hell they were doing but it’s definitely what every little boy wants to do when he grows up. This was a dog-heavy dig and you couldn’t move for tripping over an overexcited or confused canine. Neither Bess nor Sandy were happy to lose sight of their pack leaders (Moose and James respectively). It didn’t help that Bess couldn’t see very well anyway. Later Overstimulated Dog #3 turned up in the bucket of the locals’ digger and spent the afternoon barking furiously at anything that made a noise. Despite the confusion they added to the dig they were actually all well-behaved, and there were no paw prints left in the concrete. Our chief entertainment during work lulls came from watching the locals drive the machines through quite deep water with what we were sure was false confidence. There was no real drama but a few conk outs

Backfilling the completed lower wing walls

Martin Ludgate

London WRG always likes to start a dig with a severe weather warning and the promise of freezing rain and black ice merely added a piquancy to our recent Basingstoke dig. The weekend was all the sweeter for knowing I should have been taking my mother to the ballet (sorry Mum, canal restoration always takes priority) and my sister was going to have to sit through 3 hours of Swan Lake in my absence. Turning up Saturday morning to find a hall full of people stretching and yawning, it was actually promising to be a sunny but crisp day. Site looked spectacular at the bitter end of autumn as we edged nervously along the narrow canal side road in the van. The wood was full of slim white birch trees, the leaves were golden on the ground and further up the towpath where the water was deeper, the canal was crystal clear. It seemed impossible that this idyllic spot could be the site of the notorious ‘Camp 13’ (AKA the Dig From Hell) where anything that could go wrong did, plus the pike wanted to bite your fingers off. Martin proudly pointed out where they’d poured all the concrete into a hedge prior to finally slamming the van door and heading home. Still, you could see where they did managed to accomplish some building on the lower wingwalls and we carried on their work. First task was to ship the tools about, move the bricks and tear the safety fencing down. Then there was a bit of standing around stamping cold feet before a huge lump of clay arrived to be broken down into chunks and thrown into a pit behind the wingwalls. It was heavy messy work and every time we thought we’d finished, another dumper load arrived. Generally we all enjoyed getting stuck in, although there was some nervousness about a daft local who refused to wear a safety hat despite lumps of clay flying about the place. It felt good to be working and keeping warm: the work load was patchy throughout this weekend which was occasionally frustrating and led to cold feet and fingers.

page 15


Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

“Yeah it’ll be fine” I said, my confidence boosted by lashings of mulled wine. “Jamie Oliver always does it this way.” After a few minutes sinister bubbles started appearing under the clingfilm. As sponge mix began to seep out all over the floor of the microwave I bundled everyone out of the kitchen so no one would see me cry. Eventually I reverted to the time honoured method of cutting out the burnt bits and covering the whole thing in custard. Everyone was too hungry to really care what was underneath. Those not too affected by the day’s dig, the mulled wine and subsequent food and drink headed off to the pub. Quick text to my sister: ‘HAHA IM@PUB YR@BALLET’. There was some weird early closing at the Brookwood hotel so we were all thrown out at 10pm. I think there was some tomfoolery on back at the accommodation after that but I was asleep with earplugs and a towel over Barrowing concrete for the offside wall my head, so I couldn’t tell you about it. Sunday morning started wet grey and and most had to haul themselves out of the cold. Fortunately we’d recently had the water with straps tied to trees. bloody awful Droitwich dig which helped us Towards final tea break I remembered put things into perspective. It was time for a in horror that I’d volunteered to cook and my concrete pour. Tim and Helen fired up the day’s work was far from over. Luckily Elanor, mixer and we took turns barrowing across Helena and New Rachel were ready to help the narrow bridge, down the slippery slope out and we piled in Elanor’s car to head to and dodging the dogs. Site was basically a Sainsbury’s. Once there I remembered I death trap by this point: slippery steep paths hadn’t got a dime on me so Elanor had to right next to a 10 foot drop into ankle-deep pay for all the food. Helena meanwhile freezing water, wet concrete, dogs running hadn’t any shoes on so volunteered to push about in a frenzy of excitement. I sprinkled a the trolley in the hope that would hide the bit of rough sand on the worst of the paths fact she was only in her socks. With ruthless and felt a bit better. We’d made good budgeting and some scrimping on nutrition progress by the time we left and felt confiwe managed to buy ingredients for a pan of dent we’d broken the Camp 13 curse. mulled wine with which to welcome everySophie Smith one back from the cold site. Despite James begging tearfully for crumble, I’d in mind to make a steamed marmalade pudding. This plan was hampered only by the lack of a steamer. Elanor and I spent a resourceful few minutes trying to improvise one from London WRG kitchen kit using a large saucepan. Our plan was to sit a colander with a base into an inch of water, put the pudding in that to hold it above the water and, lacking a lid, stick a frying pan on top to seal it. In the end we decided it was all getting a bit Ray Mears and we might as well just microwave the thing. “Are you sure this is going to work?” Elanor asked doubtfully as I bundled the pudWashing the dumper, SHCS style ding in clingfilm and threw it in the microwave.

page 16


Dig report

WRG BITM on the Grantham

“At least the canal was dry ....” December brought a return to the Grantham canal as part of BITM’s commitment to grub out some of the thorn thickets that have grown up since the dry section near Cropwell Bishop was last cleared. A short-notice change of site leader resulting from Tony’s incapacity passed off unscathed, and a total of 27 BITMites congregated there over the two days. Having watched the weather forecasts deteriorating through the previous week with increasing trepidation, the best that can be said is that they didn’t let us down. On the Saturday, it was wet. Persistently. Nonetheless, with steps having been cut down the canal bank from the towpath, and a handrope installed, the first challenge of getting people down onto bed level was achieved. BITM’s fire-setting experts quickly had a bonfire alight at one end of the work site, although the local folks’ attempt at the other end was, dare we say, less successful. With BW’s recently appointed WPO, Kevin Howe, providing welcome support, the thicket came under attack from both ends, albeit going carefully past the badger sett. BW had previously checked on this and no restrictions were put in place for the weekend; Kevin will have a full survey carried out on the position there, hopefully in time for the next dig in February. As more trees came down, the canal bed became increasingly slippery as wood was carried to the bonfire. While Tirforing, Mark succeeded in prostrating himself facedown in front of the chairman, who wishes to point out that such public displays of deference are not really necessary .... After drying off on Saturday evening, we enjoyed an excellent Christmas dinner courtesy of June and her team of assistants. Colin’s keg was also appreciated, although on totting-up at the end, he found that there was still plenty of beer left over: we must be getting old. The weather improved on Sunday, although the previous days’ rain meant that

the canal bed remained a quagmire. Two trips to the work site in the van also took its toll in terms of ruts along the towpath, which needed filling in as we were leaving. The final task was to scoop up several pairs of sodden work gloves that had been left lying in the hall carpark. On a serious note, here are a couple of things to think about that became apparent during the weekend. Jeans may be fashionable for those of a certain age, but really are not the best workwear when it’s raining. Denim gets wet quickly and stays wet, whereas polyester-cotton dries faster. An investment in a good pair of waterproof trousers is even better – not the cheap plastic things that rip along the seams, but strong high-vis ones that don’t (as easily, anyway). Secondly, it was suggested that it would be a good idea to have the van fitted with semi-offroad tyres at the back, so as to give better traction when the going gets muddy. Graham is following that up when the van goes in for service. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather to join us for both or just one of the days, and don’t forget - we’ll be back again at Grantham next month. Simon

Dave Wedd\

And not to be outdone, WRG BITM also managed to find somewhere surprisingly un-Wilts & Berks-ish to celebrate Christmas...

BITM in action on the Grantham

page 17


WRGWear

Dress like a real WRGie WRGWear: WRG logo clothing My apologies that there is no up-to-date WRGWear website yet (any WRGWear info still on the main WRG website may well be out of date so please don’t rely on it without checking with me). It should be coming soon (editor to insert flying pig gag here); however, there is a new order form – if anyone would like a copy in word format then please email me at wrgwear@wrg.org.uk. (There will The editor shows off his WRGWear polo shirt be a PDF version coming with the website). Anyway as a stop gap here’s a chance to order a selection of items in time for the canal camps season. Just a reminder how this works: I don’t keep stock, I order the items individually from our supplier and they send them to you. So you need to allow 21 days for delivery; however, if it’s longer than that please, please call me (07989 425346) because I won’t know that you haven’t got it - things sometimes do go missing in the post. Also call if you want to place a bulk order – it will work out cheaper. Thanks Helen (‘Bushbaby’/WRGWear) Gardner PS I don’t do the tshirts with the list of camp dates on the back: they come from head office Please fill in the form and send with a cheque (made payable to WRG Canal Camps) to WRG Wear: 33 Victoria Road, Northwich, CW9 5RE. Any questions/queries to wrgwear@wrg.org.uk or 07989 425346. Indicate number required of each size Item

S

M

L

XL

XXL Price

Printed large WRG logo red tshirt

£8.00

Printed large WRG logo black tshirt

£8.00

Printed small WRG logo red tshirt

£8.00

Printed small WRG logo black tshirt

£8.00

Printed small WRG logo red sweatshirt

£13.50

Printed small WRG logo black sweatshirt

£13.50

Embroidered small WRG logo red poloshirt

£11.50

Embroidered small WRG logo black poloshirt

£11.50

Embroidered small WRG logo red fleece

£23.50

Embroidered small WRG logo red rugby shirt

£25.00

Total

Name:_______________________Address to be delivered to:_______________ __________________________________________________________________ Contact phone and/or email address:___________________________________

page 18


ASHBY CANAL ASSOC Rod Smith 4 Ashby Road, Sinope Coalville LE67 3AY Tel: 01530 833307 BARNSLEY, DEARNE & DOVE CANAL TRUST June Backhouse, 39 Hill St, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EN 01226 743383 www.bddct.org.uk BCN SOCIETY Jeff Barley, 17 Sunnyside Walsall Wood, W Midlands 01543 373284 www.bcn-society.org.uk BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOC Athina Beckett 2 Staters Pound Pennyland Milton Keynes MK1 5AX 01908 661217 email: athinabec@aol.com www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk BUGSWORTH BASIN (IWPS) Ian Edgar Browside Fm, Mudhurst La Lyme Handley, Whaley Br High Peak SK23 7BT 01663 732493 email: ian@browside.co.uk www.brocross.com/iwps/ index.htm

CHICHESTER SHIP CT Linda Wilkinson, 1 Chidham La Chichester PO18 8TL 01243 576701 www.chichestercanal.co.uk COTSWOLD CT 4 Black Jack St Cirencester GL7 2AA 01285 643440 mail@cotswoldcanals.com www.cotswoldcanals.com FRIENDS OF THE CROMFORD CANAL Tony Brookes 07770 350853 ggsonbolding@gmail.com www.cromfordcanal.org.uk DERBY & SANDIACRE CS Doug Flack 23 Thoresby Crescent, Draycott Derby DE72 3PH 01332 576037 www.derbycanal.org.uk DIG DEEP INITIATIVE Alan Cavender 10 Vicarage Rd. Maidenhead SL6 7DS 01628 629033 alancavender@tiscali.co.uk www.dig-deep.org.uk

CALDON & UTTOXETER CANALS TRUST John Rider 1 Dainty Close, Leek ST13 5PX 01538 386790 john@riderjohn.jsnet.co.uk

DORSET & SOMERSET CANAL SOCIETY Derrick Hunt 43 Greenland Mills Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL 01225 863066 derrick.hunt@tesco.net

CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST Mick Hodgetts 31 Pottery La Chesterfield S41 9BH 01246 620695 chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk

DROITWICH CT Vaughan Welch 29 Dice Pleck, Northfield Birmingham B31 3XW 0121 477 9782 kvwelch@supanet.com www.worcs.com/dct

Directory

Canal societies and WRG EAST ANGLIAN WATERWAYS ASSOC David Revill, 43 Kings Road Coltishall, Norfolk NR12 7DX 01603 738648 david_gisela@hotmail.com EREWASH CANAL P&DA Mick Golds 73 Sudbury Avenue Larklands, Ilkeston Derbys DE7 5EA Notts (0115) 9328042 ESSEX WATERWAYS LTD Colin Edmond Paper Mill Lock, North Hill Little Baddow Essex CM3 4BT 01245 226245 colin.edmond@wrg.org.uk www.waterways.org.uk FOXTON INCLINED PLANE TRUST c/o Mike Beech Foxton Canal Museum Middle Lock, Gumley Road Foxton, Market Harborough Leicestershire LE16 7RA 0116 279 2657 mike@foxcm.freeserve.co.uk www.fipt.org.uk ROLLE CANAL AND NTH DEVON WATERWAYS SOC Adrian & Hilary Wills Vale Cottage, 7 Annery Kiln Weare Giffard Bideford EX39 5JE Tel: 01237 477705 adrian@thewills.eclipse.co.uk www.therollecanal.co.uk

RIVER GIPPING TRUST Lewis Tyler, Church Cott The Street, Capel St Mary IP9 2EL. secretary@rivergippingtrust. org.uk GRAND WESTERN CANAL TRUST Denis Dodd, Wharf Cottage Nynehead, Wellington Somerset TA21 0BU 01823 661653 GRANTHAM CANAL RESTORATION SOCIETY Colin Bryan 113 Hoe View Road Cropwell Bishop Nottingham NG12 3DJ 01159 892248 colin.bryan@granthamcanal.com www.granthamcanal.com HEREFS & GLOUCS CT c/o The Wharf House, Over Gloucester GL2 8DB 01452 332900 www.h-g-canal.org.uk KESCRG Eddie Jones ‘Altamount’, Coventry Road Fillongley, Coventry CV7 8EQ 0845 226 8589 eddie@kescrg.org.uk www.kescrg.org.uk LANCASTER CT Paul Shaw 12 Malham Close Lancaster LA1 2SJ 01524 35685 paul_shaw@lineone.net www.lctrust.co.uk

page 19


Directory LAPAL CANAL TRUST 26 Loynells Road, Rednal Birmingham B45 9NP 01785 713862 www.lapal.org

STRATFORD ON AVON CANAL SOCIETY Roger Hancock 1 Tyler Street Stratford upon Avon CV37 6TY 01789 296096 rogmabhan@aol.com www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk

SCARS (SANKEY CANAL) Colin Greenall 16 Bleak Hill Rd. Eccleston St. Helens WA10 4RW 01744 731746 SURREY & HANTS LICHFIELD & HATHERTON colin.greenall@btopenworld.com CANAL SOC CANALS REST'N TRUST www.scars.org.uk Peter Redway, 1 Redway Sue Williams Cottages Norfolk House SHREWSBURY & NEWPÂ’T St. John's Lye, Woking 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich CANALS TRUST GU21 1SL Burntwood WS7 0JP Tam Hazan 01483 721710 01543 671427 tamir_hazan@lineone.net p.redway1@btinternet.com info@lhcrt.org.uk www.sncanal.org.uk www.basingstokewww.lhcrt.org.uk canal.org.uk/society SHROPSHIRE UNION CS NEATH & TENNANT Richard Hall, 35 Tyrley Cotts SUSSEX OUSE CANAL SOCIETY Market Drayton TF9 2AH RESTORATION TRUST Ian Milne 01630 657737 Paul Morris, Farmcote 16 Gower Road, Sketty, hall@ostw.co.uk Nettlesworth Lane Swansea SA2 9BY www.shropshireunion.org.uk Old Heathfield 01792 547902 Heathfield SLEAFORD NAV TRUST TN21 9AP NWPG Steve Hayes 01453 863683 Graham Hawkes 10 Chelmer Close sussexouse@hotmail.com 27 Lawrence Rd., Tilehurst N Hykeham www.sxouse.org.uk Reading RG30 6BH Lincs LN8 8TH 0118 941 0586 01522-689460 SWANSEA CANAL SOC grahamhawkes@btinternet.com email: steve.hayesClive Reed www.nwpg.org.uk kyme@ntlworld.com 17 Smithfield Road, www.sleafordnavigation.co.uk Pontardawe, Swansea, POCKLINGTON C.A.S West Glam. SA8 4LA Paul Waddington SOMERSETSHIRE COAL 01792 830782 Church House, Main St. CANAL SOCIETY Hemingborough, Selby Bob Parnell, 34 THAMES & MEDWAY N. Yorks YO8 7QE Wedgewood Road CANAL ASSOCIATION 01757 638027 (eves) Twerton John Epton, 45 Vinson CLo 01405 763985 (days) Bath BA2 1NX Orpington BR6 0EQ www.pocklington. 01225-428055 homepage.ntlworld. gov.uk/PCAS www.coalcanal.org com/john.epton/tmca SALTISFORD CANAL TRUST Budbrooke Road Warwick CV34 5RJ 01926 490 006 saltisfordcanal@aol.com, www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk

page 20

RIVER STOUR TRUST John Morris 2 Stockton Close Hadleigh Ipswich IP7 5SH jgmorris@btinternet.com www.riverstourtrust.org

WEY & ARUN CT The Granary, Flitchfold Farm Loxwood, Billingshurst West Sussex RH14 ORH 01403 752403 office@weyandarun.co.uk www.weyandarun.co.uk WILTS & BERKS CT George Eycott 36 Grange Court, Boundary Rd Newbury RG14 7PH 01635 569449 bungle@wrg.org.uk www.wilts-berks-canal.org.uk WOODEN CANAL BOAT SOCIETY 3 Beauchamp St Ashton under Lyne OL6 8LF 0161-330-8422 wcbs@beeb.net www.wcbs.org.uk WRG: GENERAL ENQUIRIES, CANAL CAMP BOOKINGS AND DRIVER AUTHORISATION Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA 01494 783453 enquiries@wrg.org.uk www.wrg.org.uk WRG NORTH WEST Malcolm Bridge 3 Heather Bank Littleborough Lancashire OL15 0JQ 01706 378582 nw@wrg.org.uk www.wrgnw.org.uk

WRG NW - ENQUIRIES/ WENDOVER ARM TRUST PAPERCHASES Roger Leishman David McCarthy 7 Hall Park Woodstock, Berkhamsted 14 Crumpsall Lane HP4 2NU Manchester M8 5FB 01442 874536 0161-740 2179 www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk www.wrgnw.org.uk


WRG BITM & 'NAVVIES' DIARY David Wedd 7 Ringwood Road Blackwater Camberley Surrey GU17 0EY 01252 874437 dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk www.wrgbitm.org.uk LONDON WRG Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road, Wanstead London E12 5EJ 07802 518094 tim@timlewis.org.uk www.london.wrg.org.uk LONDON WRG: ENQUIRIES Lesley McFadyen (as per Martin Ludgate below) WRG EAST MIDLANDS John Baylis (see below) ESSEX WRG John Gale 24 Longleaf Drive Braintree, Essex CM7 1XS 01376-947360 essex@wrg.org.uk www.essex.wrg.org.uk WRG SOUTH WEST Gavin Moor 54 Kiln Close Calvert, Buckingham MK18 2FD 07970 989245 Gavin.Moor@wrg.org.uk IWA/WRG STAMP BANK Steve & Mandy Morley 33 Hambleton Grove Emerson valley Milton Keynes MK4 2JS 01908 520090 mail@morleytowers.org.uk

CANAL CAMPS MOBILES (A) 07850 422156 (B) 07850 422157 'NAVVIES' EDITOR Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Rd. London SE22 9PB 020 8693 3266 0777 947 8629 (mobile) martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk 'WRGWEAR' CLOTHING Helen Gardner 33 Victoria Road Northwich CW9 5RE 07989 425346 wrgwear@wrg.org.uk WRG FORESTRY TEAM Graham Robinson Springwell Spark Bridge Ulverston Cumbria LA12 7ST 01229 861317 WRG BOAT CLUB Sadie Dean 236 Station Rd. Whittlesey Peterborough PE7 2HA 01733 204505 07748 186867 (mobile) sadiedean@vodafone.net WRG DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Road Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk TREASURER Roger Day, 5 Merton Road, Slough Berks SL1 1QW

WRG SECRETARY Neil Edwards, c/o IWA, Island House Moor Road Chesham HP5 1WA neil@waterways.org.uk WRG PLANT Malcolm Bridge 3 Heather Bank Littleborough Lancashire OL15 0JQ malcolm.bridge@wrg.org.uk 01706 378582

OTHER DIRECTORS George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road Newbury RG14 1SP 07771 775745 bungle@wrg.org.uk Mick Beattie 22 Bridgewater Ave Anchorsholme Blackpool FY5 3NA 01253 864034

SITES GROUP & PUBLICITY Judith Palmer 3 Finwood Rd., Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 jude.moore@btinternet.com

Adrian Fry 89 The Causeway Quedgeley Gloucester GL2 4LD 07976 640962 amf@wrg.org.uk

WRGPRINT John & Tess Hawkins 4 Links Way Croxley Grn Rickmansworth WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk

Spencer Collins The Boatyard, 5 Hammond Way Trowbridge BA14 8RS 07976 084055 spencer.collins@wrg.org.uk

IWA CHAIRMAN Clive Henderson c/o IWA, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA clive.henderson@ waterways.org.uk TRANSPORT MANAGER Jonathan Smith 23 Hardings Chalgrove Oxford OX44 7TJ 01865 891 370 jonathan.smith@wrg.org.uk WRG LOGISTICS Jen Leigh 45 Glebe Road Sheffield S10 1FB logistics@wrg.org.uk

Chris Davey 6 Partridge Ct Round Close Rd. Adderbury Banbury OX17 3EP 01295 812002 chris.davey@wrg.org.uk John Baylis, 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 Rick Barnes 103 Boakes Drive Stonehouse Gloucestershire GL10 3QW 07976 748345 rick.barnes@wrg.org.uk

page 21


Navvies diary

Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Feb 21/22

London WRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Seven Locks flight (Dig Deep project)

Feb 21/22

wrgBITM

Grantham Canal: Jungle bashing at Cropwell Bishop

Feb 21/22

wrgSW

Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Yarkhill

Feb 21 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Feb 22 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Ebridge Lock Feb 28 Sat

WRG

Leaders Training Day: for canal camp and work party leaders

Feb 28 Sat

WRG/KESCRG

Barn Dance: Sat 7pm to 11:30pm. Benson Village Hall. Booking essent

Mar 1 Sun

KESCRG

Mini-AGM post-Barn Dance

Mar 1 Sun

WRG

Committee & Board Meetings: at Benson, the day after the Barn dance and

Mar 7/8

wrgNW

Lichfield Canal

Mar 7/8

KESCRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Seven Locks flight (Dig Deep project)

Mar 7/8

NWPG

Wey & Arun Canal

Mar 7/8

Essex WRG

Wilts & Berks Canal

Mar 8 Sun

EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Ebridge Lock

Mar 21/22

wrgBITM

Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge

Mar 21/22

wrgNW

Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal

Mar 28/29

London WRG

BCN Cleanup

Mar 28/29

wrgSW

Cotswold Canals: Gough’s Orchard Lock

Mar 28 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Mar 29 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing Lock Apr 4/5

KESCRG

Cotswold Canals: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)

Apr 4/5

NWPG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Seven Locks flight (Dig Deep project)

Apr 4/5

Essex WRG

To be arranged

Apr 4-11

Camp 200901

Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge

Apr 5 Sun

EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Bacton Wood Lock

Apr 11-18

Camp 200902

Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge

Apr 18/19

London WRG

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Apr 18/19

wrgBITM

Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Yarkhill

Apr 18/19

wrgNW

Hollinwood Canal: (No WRG transport) also sales stand at Sandbach Tr

Apr 25/26

wrgSW

Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge

Apr 26 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing Lock May 2/3/4

wrgBITM

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice: site services camp. See p5

Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater,

page 22


Canal Camps cost ÂŁ49 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 200901') should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk

tial: see p4

d Leaders Training

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Martin Danks

01432-344488

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

David Revill

01603-738648

david_gisela@hotmail.com

Mike Palmer

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

Bobby Silverwood Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Mike Palmer

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

David Revill

01603-738648

david_gisela@hotmail.com

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Rick Barnes

07976-748345

rick.barnes@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

David Revill

01603-738648

david_gisela@hotmail.com

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

01494-783453

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

01603-738648

david_gisela@hotmail.com

01494-783453

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Harri Barnes

07745-752045

harri_thomsett@hotmail.com

David Revill

01603-738648

david_gisela@hotmail.com

Dave Hearnden

07961-922153

moose@wrg.org.uk

David Revill

ransport Festival

barndance@kescrg.org.uk

Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email: dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk.

page 23


Navvies diary

Mobile groups' socials (please phone to confirm before turning up)

London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before each dig. Usually at 'Star Tavern', Belgrave Mews Canal SocietiesÂ’ regular monthly or West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 weekly working parties NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the Please send amendments to Dave 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Wedd (address on previous page) Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586 Once per month: pls check BCNS BCN waterways Mike Rolfe 07763-171735 2nd Sunday & following Thurs BCS Buckingham area Athina Beckett 01908-661217 Anytime inc. weekdays BCT Aqueduct section Gerald Fry 01288-353273 Every Sunday ChCT Various sites Mick Hodgetts 01246-620695 Every Tue & Wed C&BN Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale 01376-334896 Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe 0121-608 0296 Last Sunday of month EAWA N Walsham & Dilham David Revill 01603-738648 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Langley Mill Michael Golds 0115-932-8042 Second Sun of month FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech 0116-279-2657 2nd weekend of month GCRS Grantham Canal Colin Bryan 0115-989-2248 2nd Sat of month GWCT Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd 01823-661653 Tuesdays H&GCT Oxenhall Brian Fox 01432 358628 Weekends H&GCT Over Wharf House Maggie Jones 01452 618010 Wednesdays H&GCT Over Wharf House Wilf Jones 01452 413888 Weekends H&GCT Hereford Aylestone Martin Danks 01432 344488 Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 01663-732493 2nd Sunday of month LCT Lancaster N. Reaches Paul Shaw 01524-35685 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat LHCRT Lichfield Sue Williams 01543-671427 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Hatherton Denis Cooper 01543-374370 2nd & 4th Sundays NWDCT N Walsham Canal David Revill 01603-738648 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Pocklington Canal Paul Waddington 01757-638027 Every Wed and 1st Sat RGT Stowmarket Navigtn. Colin Turner 01473-730586 2nd Sunday of month SCARS Sankey Canal Colin Greenall 01744-731746 1st Sunday of month SCCS Combe Hay Locks Bob Parnell 01225-428055 Most weekends SHCS Basingstoke Peter Redway 01483-721710 2nd Sunday of month SNT Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby 01522-856810 1st weekend of month SUCS Newhouse Lock Mike Friend 01948-880723 Every Tuesday morning TMCA Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish 01732-823725 Every Sunday & Thurs WACT varied construction Eric Walker 023-9246-3025 Mondays (2 per month) WACT tidying road crossings John Empringham 01483-562657 Tuesdays WACT Tickner's Heath Depot Colin Gibbs 020-8241-7736 Wednesdays WACT maintenance work Peter Jackman 01483-772132 Wednesdays WACT Loxwood Link Peter Wilding 01483-422519 Thursdays WACT Winston Harwood Grp Tony Clear 01903-774301 Saturdays WACT Conservation Group David Jessop 01403-269384 Various dates WACT Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols 01403-753882 1st w/e of month (Fri-Mon) WAT Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman 01442-874536 2nd Thursday of month WAT Drayton Beauchamp Pete Bowers 01255-504540 Every weekend WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Rachael Banyard 01249-892289 BCNS Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. LCT Lancaster Canal Trust BCS Buckingham Canal Society LHCRT Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust BCT Bude Canal Trust NWPG Newbury Working Party Group ChCT Chesterfield Canal Trust NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust CBN Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation PCAS Pocklington Canal Amenity Society CCT Cotswolds Canals Trust RGT River Gipping Trust DCT Droitwich Canals Trust SCARS Sankey Canal Restoration Society EAWA East Anglian Waterways Association SCCS Somersetshire Coal Canal Society ECPDA Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. SHCS Surrey & Hants Canal Society FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Trust SNT Sleaford Navigation Trust GCRS Grantham Canal Restoration Society SUCS Shropshire Union Canal Society GWCT Grand Western Canal Trust TMCA Thames & Medway Canal Association H&GCT Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust WACT Wey & Arun Canal Trust IWPS Inland Waterways Protection Society WAT Wendover Arm Trust K&ACT Kennet & Avon Canal Trust WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Trust KESCRG Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group W&BCC Wilts & Berks Canal Company

page 24


Letters

Has there been a lifethreatening lapse of Health & Safety standards in the kitchen at Droitwich?

to the editor

than our young (?) Chairperson - “with others” - leaning over a bridge rail spanning the WATER FILLED canal at Droitwich and NONE WEARING A LIFEJACKET. What sort Dear Sophie of example is this to the ordinary rank-andI am glad you enjoyed your first canal camp – you’ll find that as you get older and file as well as to the drunken volunteers who forego their other weekend pleasures to mobile they get even better, you can ride restore our canals? your bike round village halls at 6 in the morning hooting your horn till everyone You further compound the situation by wakes up – everyone gets a bit grumpy showing an inset picture of two unusually well-scrubbed gents beaming at us while afterwards though. I think you’ll find trips to the supermarket apparently standing over a cooker, frying get better when you can ask for all the interest- meat of some kind. I trust that this was in ing things as you go past – the magazines with their own kitchen and for their own consumption (though neither seems to be sufscissors are usually near the entrance. The nice men who go digging with fering from the disease of that name judging south west taught me all you need to know by their ample brewers’ goitres) because if it about beer to start with – they spent a whole was at a Camp or working party weekend evening saying “bitter good – lager bad” it they should have been wearing the obligaseemed quite important to them but it has to tory red and white striped APRONS and Moll be said I was more interested in playing with Flanders MOP CAPS or white plastic trilbies. the bottles. I trust that there will be no more pictures Oh and mummy says she’ll tell your of life-threatening lapses in our standards. mummy where we got all the small digging However they have served as a timely things you need like gloves and hi vis and reminder that when I am next washing the goggles. dozens of beakers in my luxury mobile home I See you on a camp soon. do need to replace the current piece of one of Love from... my old sweaty vests with a proper dishcloth (3 James Coolican Smith (age 5) for £1 on the world famous Bury Market open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays). Dear Martin Yours etc. Navvies is great, but I worry lest too The purveyor of broke biscuits - and tea bar much Concerned Readers Angrily Protesting Mr Mac at unbridled acronyms (such as last para p15, issue 232) lands you in deep Serious Heavy Indignation Territory. Regards John Griffiths And Rightly So ...Ed Letter received in response to Sophie Williamson’s Camp Report, issue 231:

APPALLED to see you publish pictures on the back page of Issue 217 showing no less a worthy

Martin Ludgate

Dear Sir As a lifelong devotee of all things Health & Safety I am

“Appalling”: Eddie & Bungle in the kitchen

page 25


Progress

Somersetshire Coal Canal Somersetshire Coal Canal

with hand tools, although as one member holds a chainsaw certificate tree clearance also occurs with the blessing, indeed the encouragement of the local land owner who is keen to assist and have issues relating to the right of way dealt with for him. Work will continue on this length in 2009 and further updates will be posted in Navvies. For more details please contact Patrick Moss, the Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Chairman by email at lazydaysafloat@yahoo.co.uk, or see our website www.coalcanal.org Patrick Moss

Martin Ludgate

The Somersetshire Coal Canal Society have held monthly work parties on the canal for a number of years, attended by around half a dozen regular die hard members and up to another half dozen less regular attendees on each occasion. The remote locations, often served only by single track roads, and the fact the all work parties are on private land with the consent of the owner generally make bigger work parties impractical. Over the years we have worked on a number of the canal structures including the aqueduct at Dunkerton (Paulton Branch) and Stoney Littleton (Radstock Branch). The locks at Combe Hay have been a regular site and with a change in our constitution to allow restoration rather than just preservation we have focused on these for the last twelve months. The exact location of each work party is determined by the coordinator, Bob Parnell, in the week prior to the party. Regulars are then phoned and anyone else interested can ring Bob to find out where the work will be done. This year we have cleared much vegetation from locks 11-15 of the Combe Hay Flight. These are next to a public right of way and make an impressive site for walkers in the area. Above lock 11 is the Bulls Nose, where the canal makes a U turn into lock 10, and the early work parties in 2008 focused on this. By June we were clearing a narrow channel through the pounds to lock 15 to allow water to pass down the flight, as a result the pound below lock 15 filled with water for the first time for a number of years. The scale of the masonry blocks on the locks makes anything more than vegetation clearance impractical for small work parties

Our roundup of progress on restoration projects around the country begins with a little-known canal somewhere near Bath...

page 26

Combe Hay Lock 15 - with water!


Having narrowly failed to monopolise the working party reports section of Navvies, the W&B sneaks into the progress pages too...

Progress

Wilts & Berks Canal

flow fast. A breach in the bed of the canal was repaired in 2006. This promises to be an This year we have tackled some ambitious ambitious and engrossing project for 2009. projects and made great progress thanks to River Ray Valley, Moredon, Swinthe skills and efforts of WBCT members don: Breathing Places - Towpath and combined with skills and effort from WRG on Canal bed restoration. Wilts and Berks some of the projects. Through 2009 there Canal Trust won £10,000 of funding from will be plenty of opportunities for interesting the “Breathing Places” project which was set and challenging work. We are looking for up by the BBC and the Big Lottery Fund to bricklayers as well as drivers for dumpers encourage more people to get involved in and excavators, and people to do general out door activities. The towpath was comoutdoor work like path clearance. If you’d pletely unrecognisable beneath decades of like to join our working parties and share in bramble growth and the team had to do our achievements, please get in touch using some tough clearance work to uncover it. To the contact details at the end of the piece. get the best out of the funding most of the Pewsham Locks and canal pound work is being done by volunteers and the to Naish Hill: Plans are in place to re-water funding has been used on wildlife surveys, the canal between Pewsham Locks and Naish specialist tools and support for the volunHill, so local branch members have been teers. The project’s aim is to restore the working hard in 2008. The enthusiastic team towpath and assess the state of the canal bed has worked to restore spill-weirs, Double and infill on a derelict section of the canal at Bridge and repair culverts that run under the Moredon. Work continued with a working canal. When this work is completed there will party over the Christmas break and the still be plenty to do to repair the flight of 3 project is set to complete by July 2009. Now locks at Pewsham, as well as the saw pit and the path is cleared, a leaflet on local walks dry dock. will be published covering the Moredon This is a project that it is hoped will be section and a nearby walking route at funded through a Heritage Lottery Award Mouldon Hill. which will be undertaken by contractors in Latton Basin Heritage Project: 2010 but with all the preliminary works Preservation of Latton Basin and Lock carried out by volunteers in 2009. One major The Latton Basin Team are investigating and task is the excavation of all three lock cham- preserving this important heritage site in bers. One has been partially cleared but the conjunction with the Cotswold Canals Trust. other two have over 100 years of accumuThis year the team has cleared silt from the lated solidified silt in them. The clearance basin as well as clearing the canal bed and work is essential to establish the extent of doing further work to expose the lock. The the restoration required so that a detailed restoration is uncovering some fascinating contact document can be prepared. It will industrial archaeology and will remain a require drivers for diggers and dumpers as lasting source of information and inspiration well as labourers to do the final clearance by for future generations. The late Alfred and hand. Ann Howse were the last keepers at the Another job for 2009 is the repair of Basin and their family has been very generCocklemore Brook Culvert. This is approxious in working with the team to pass on a mately 1.5M wide at the base and runs a vast amount of detailed information that has total of 36M under the canal below Bottom helped deepen our understanding of their Lock. Both entrance and exit portals have to work. The basin will not be used as part of be rebuilt which requires the diversion of the the restored Wilts Berks Canal, instead, the brook which at time has a significant water plans are in place to create a new junction

Wilts and Berks Canal

page 27


Martin Ludgate

page 28

Childrey Wharf: Spill weir construction and dredging Members of East Vale Branch have been busy in 2008 installing drainage works on adjacent land. They will be constructing a new spillway and dredge the section of canal on which the wharf has been rebuilt. One aim of the work has been to prevent flooding of nearby fields when the canal is re-watered. Working with us: All the projects encompass a varied range of tasks and so we are confident that we can find work to suit your skills, interests and fitness level. Training for some tasks is available through WBCT and WRG. If you are interested in working with us or would like to get involved in any of these projects please give us a call at the office on 0845 226 8567 or email: Info@wbct.org.uk

Martin Ludgate

with the Thames & Severn Canal at Eisey. Steppingstones Lane Shrivenham: Bridge construction This project has been managed by the Waterway Recovery Group since August 2005 with support from members of the WBCT. The plan is that the bridge will be completed at Easter 2009, with two weeks of WRG canal camps, plus other weekend groups.  Chaddington (Bincknoll) Lane, Wootton Bassett: Dredging & re-watering This year the Wootton Bassett Branch has developed a good deal of expertise with concrete. The team had to pour 250 tons of concrete to create the new spill weir. This amazing achievement sets up the foundation of the project which will continue into 2009 when the final phase will dredge and reprofile the canal bed, and then rewater the canal. Seven Locks, near Tockenham: Towpath re-construction, landscaping and dredging The achievements of the Foxham & Lyneham restoration team at the Seven Locks flight have continued. This has been a major project and it has taken sustained work and a wide range of skills to complete Locks 3 and 4. Some work will continue on this phase into 2009 and then the next focus is to restore Lock 2. Hayes Knoll near Cricklade: Lock re-construction Hayes Knoll lock is completely derelict and Swindon Branch has set up a project to re-construct it. A number of wildlife surveys were needed and the team has worked closely with Natural England to get the correct licensing arrangements in place before the start of the project. The project will start in early 2009 and continue through 2010.

Progress at Seven Locks, Wilts & Berks Canal: (above) repairs to the portal of a culvert running under the canal above Lock 1 are seen nearing completion while (left) initial work has begun on Lock 2, which is likely to be the next major focus of work


Meanwhile down in the deep south west, Di Smurthwaite reports on a frustrating few years trying to get a new restoration scheme going...

Progress ...or lack of it

hardly believe it, particularly when the new people coming in said that they were no longer prepared to just hand the land over to It is a long time since any mention of the the council, but were only prepared to give a Stover Canal in Devon has appeared in Navlease, and a short one at that. We pointed vies - if ever! The only WRG involvement so out that a short lease would not enable us to far is one camp and an extended BITM dig get any funding to do the work, so grudgeight years ago. ingly they extended the lease option to 999 We’re coming up to the tenth anniveryears - but with six month break clauses! The sary of the setting up of The Stover Canal problem is that the South West coastal railSociety with the aim of restoring this small way, which runs practically along the beach canal (just under 2 miles, 5 locks). It was at Dawlish, is constantly under bombardment originally dug in the 19th Century, initially to from the sea, and they’re always having to transport ball clay from the Bovey basin do repairs to the sea wall. There’s been talk down to the River Teign, for onward tranfor some years about re-routing the railway shipment down the English Channel and up up through Devon, possibly up the Teign the Irish Sea to the Trent & Mersey Canal for Valley to join the Barnstaple line, and prethe Wedgwood pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. It sumably “our” bit of line would be considwas later connected to the granite tramway ered, even though it’s only a singe track. on Dartmoor to carry granite corbels in the Even when they were using it to transport other direction up the Channel for building clay, they only ran one train a week, and London Bridge. Inevitably, as with so many now it hasn’t been used for 18 months. canals, a railway was built alongside and Two or three months ago, they revised carried the clay and the granite, and British the 999 year lease option, and brought it Rail - then Railtrack - now Network Rail also back down to 30 years, sill with break took over ownership of the land. When we clauses, and including several other clauses originally discussed restoring the canal, we in what appears to be an attempt to make us realised that three of the locks were listed give up all idea of restoring the canal. They structures and they had not been maintained. even wanted to include that as part of the This gave us a bit of leverage over the raildeal, we would have to repaint the station. way people, as we pointed out that if they What station? Newton Abbot - with five were prepared to hand over the canal land to platforms? Our chairman has managed to our district council, we would undertake to persuade the Heritage Lottery Fund to ignore restore the structures. the break clauses if we are ever in a position It all seemed so straightforward, and to ask for funding. they appeared to be quite agreeable to our However, there has been a possibly suggestion, only the weeks, months, and interesting development. Over the weekend even years drifted by while they tried to sort of l3th-l4th December, there was some seout the legal side of such a deal. Just when vere flooding in the area, the railway was we were almost there, they decided to under a metre or so of water, and large parts change all their staff in the area, and the new of the railway bed were washed away, leavpeople insisted on starting again from ing bits of rail dangling in mid-air. Oh dear. scratch. We were by then in our sixth year of What a pity. If the canal had been restored, it negotiations, and many of our members probably wouldn’t have happened, so have who were so enthusiastic at first - began to we a new lever? It isn’t often that a flood can drop out. Finally, just before Christmas 2007, be said to have a benefit towards canal restoon the verge of signing the agreement again, ration.... they changed staff once more. We could Di Smurthwaite

Stover Canal Update (rather than progress!)

page 29


Progress

Finally, Roger Leishman brings us up to date on the Wendover Arm TrustÂ’s work to reline their notoriously leaky canal and reopen it

Wendover Arm

Wendover Arm December Working Party: For once, no rain during the daytime although heavy rain some nights. A very successful working party. The improvements to the cart track entrance were completed and the new reinforced concrete raft for cutting Bentomat canal lining material also completed. The work on the entrance went extremely well and was virtually complete by Saturday afternoon. It will now be possible to cut three four-metre pieces at a time. To cut the twenty-metre pieces required for the bed of the canal, Ray Orth came up with the idea of cutting five four-metre pieces and leaving the rest of the forty-metre long roll as a twentymetre piece. The raft is five metres wide, the width of a Bentomat roll. A start was also made with initial clearance of the site of the former Whitehouses Pumping Station to see what is required for investigations to be carried out.

capping from Whitehouses towards Bridge 4A (part of stage 3) so that the offside bank can be built up with spoil from Stages 1 & 2 so avoiding re-excavation and allowing the bank plenty of time to settle before lining. It is hoped that by April the track will have dried out enough to allow plant through to start profiling the rest of both banks in Stage 1 and to carry on with concrete pours for the Stage 1 mooring bay. This will enable lining of banks to commence in May when we shall have the assistance of KESCRG on the Saturday and Sunday. If we prepare the base for 40 metres a day, 160 metres could be completed but it all depends on the weather and the speed of blocking and backfilling the bank with spoil. It also requires 32 four metre long pieces of Bentomat being cut on the new cutting base. We will already have enough concrete blocks in stock for this length. Bulk excavation of Stage 2 can continue when plant is available but the priority will be to complete some pipe capping in Stage 3 to give us a good tipping site. For more information see our website http://wendovercanal.org.uk/ Roger Leishman Restoration Director

Wendover Arm Trust

Future plans for working parties: While the banks are being left to settle, the only work that can be carried out in Stage 1 at present is the mooring wall and this will be a priority once the track is dry enough for tracked plant as we need the space behind the wall for tipping spoil when profiling the bank opposite. There will be a lot of excavated material to be removed from both stages 1 and 2 next year and it is becoming more of a problem finding suitable tipping sites that do not result in double handling when the old pipeline which carries water under the dry bed of the canal has to be capped. There are two lengths of very wide bed each side of Whitehouses former pumping station that can be tipped on the offside. It is proConstructing the concrete raft for cutting Bentonite on posed to carry on with pipe

page 30


Reporting from the London WRG and KESCRG joint Christmas dig, which this year was on... well, let’s say ‘North Wilts’ to make it sound different shall we?

Dig report

Xmas with LWRG & KESCRG

LWRG / KESCRG Christmas Party to site would be really easy. I was looking The annual London WRG and KESCRG Christmas Party dig this year took place on the Wilts & Berks Canal’s North Wilts branch at Moredon. And as the accommodation at Stratton was right by the Roman road Ermin Street, we decided to have a Romans theme for the party. So over to Sophie in charge of entertainments...

All photos by Martin Ludgate

Organising food and fun for fifty was never going to be an easy task. With people determined to enjoy themselves, and barrels of ale to be quaffed, I wasn’t too worried about my task of organising the decorations and entertainment for this year’s Christmas dig. In the kitchen though Eli had her work cut out organising a small army of volunteers to produce dinner and all the other meals. I’d initially thought staying behind at the accommodation while everyone else went

The work for the weekend: cut it down...

forward to a day’s cutting and sticking and making decorations out of holly, ivy, glitter and baubles. After doing a run to site with the van, dashing back to make 120 rolls for lunch and a mile’s hike to find holly that wasn’t in someone’s front garden, I started to reconsider. There was a frenzy of activity on: a team of workers were peeling enormous sacks of spuds and scoring sprouts, two babies were crawling about the place and the floor was covered in glitter... Meanwhile let’s leave Sophie surrounded by sprouts and babies and find out from Dave Worthington about what was happening on site... I’m sure this weekend should have arrived with a catchy title along the lines of ‘Getting More Done at Moredon’ or some such thing – in any event, we certainly did. Site was just off the Purton Road, past

...and throw it on the bonfire

page 31


18 roundabouts and down the side of the allotments, between some large electrical thingy and an ultramodern school, and followed the line of the canal – what I believe is the North Wilts Canal (although Martin can edit this and ensure that I was correct). – “Wilts” and Google probably don’t mix so I gave it a miss. This was a classic scrub-bash – with proper scrub-bash weather, which was just as well having dragged Mrs W away from school stuff with promises of fresh air and bonfires. The canal has been infilled, mostly with ash from a former power station – any digging, stump-pulling etc. reveals black crumbly stuff, and so bonfires along the line of the canal are a no-no, on the basis that they might still be burning after restoration is complete. (Now there’s a thought – a warm water canal). The intention was to clear the towpath so Aileen’s winning costume off we went, Hi – Ho ing to ourselves. The morning was cold but clear and a happy band of hewers of wood (but not drawers of water – drawers of winter, perhaps?) and assorted others descended on site. A team of forestry types drank tea and watched Bobby, but soon joined in the fun and dropped trees faster than they could be cleared and Paul donned his Martian outfit and cut brush from the various pathways. As the song nearly said, Swindon’s a lonely town when you’re the only Tirfor boy, so a small group assembled their pulling gear and set to on the stumps. The site (according to g-map’s straight line measurement is about ½ mile long before the ‘unrestored’ becomes something that looks like a canal and then disappears under the ironically named Darby Close. I suspect that this may not be coincidental as the next road is Brindley Close The undergrowth included a considerable amount of thorny stuff, hawthorn, blackthorn and the sort of stuff (roses, perhaps) that produce rose hips. Mrs W collected some of these while admiring the wildlife. I found my own wildlife – while exploring the undergrowth I chanced upon a small herd of small deer. They seemed as surprised as me, and leapt off before you could say “Red wine sauce”. This was clearly dog-walking country – lots of chatty passers-by – the usual stuff, “What are you doing?”, “Why, are you mad?” and “Canal, what canal?”, but predominantly interested rather than anti. In fairness, parts of the site did look like a rubbish dump – including a burnt out XR2 – so whatever we did could only improve it. (Yes, I know we were improving it anyway, but that is not always that obvious). Work progressed and a large amount of scrub was bashed and disposed of in one way or another – burned or stacked in the back of a van or Land Rover – until it got dark when we nearly all headed back to the accommodation. I say ‘nearly all’ as one of our number headed in the opposite direction to take photographs. Were it not for the wonders of mobile telephony he might still be there now – although we could have rescued him when we returned for the Christmas camp. [Yes, it One of the ‘chariots’ with ‘horse’ was me! ...Ed]

page 32


“There were lots of passers-by with the usual stuff: ‘What are you doing?’, ‘Why, are you mad?’ and ‘Canal, what canal?’ ”

Dig report

Xmas with LWRG & KESCRG

Back to Sophie to catch up with what’s happening at the accommodation... A great atmosphere prevailed even as time ticked by and we expected the hungry hordes to descend at any moment. I was halfway through folding 70 napkins when the first van load of hungry navvies showed up. Then there was just time to throw on my own costume before helping Mel stitch both her own and her sister’s and laying out a cheeseboard. Some highly impressive costumes. Paul Ireson won second prize for his creative interpretation of the Roman theme, coming as dodgy Russian Oligarch and football club owner Roman Abramovich. Amy and Jo did an excellent stunt as Boudica and her faithful steed, Jo surely scoring extra points for staying in her wheelbarrow ‘chariot’ all night long even when eating dinner. As leaders of London WRG and KESCRG Ian and Tim were appointed to judge, taking their responsibilities extremely seriously they awarded points based on effort and creativity. First prize went to Aileen for her roman centurion costume which clearly took a great deal of effort to construct from estate agents billboards, in WRG red with matching sandals.

Cleared towpath at the end of the weekend

Sadly Aileen later came a cropper as she damaged her foot during the games and was unable to come to site the next day. After enjoying Eli’s delicious soup and some home made bread we enjoyed some gladiator fighting with only minor injuries sustained by Jen. We had time for a quick game of pass the parcel before we settled down to eat a choice of 3 meats and then 4 puddings. Special mention must be made of the rum and almond gateaux which was excellent – we also enjoyed a very good Christmas pudding. In the interval before cheese the four teams had time to build chariots from wheelbarrows before a race. My memories get a bit hazy after the main course, as I was presented with a crate of booze to say thanks for organising the fun, but I do remember there were candles for Mel’s 30th (tastefully arranged on the cheeseboard, as everyone would have been far too full for cake) and lots more drinking. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a brilliant night, and cheers to Eli for the excellent cooking! But yes, there is such a thing as work on site on Sunday, so let’s hear from Dave again... Sunday continued in the same way – the usual slightly reluctant start, confusion with vans, etc. and this time accompanied by scraping – it was rather chilly, but bright and sunny and dry. Yesterday’s fires burst into life with a little prodding and off we went, bashing, clearing, stacking, burning or pulling as the inclination took us. Altogether a good weekend: lots of work, lots of fresh air and on a personal note – not too far to drive! Oh, and before I go, if anyone went home with more CDs than they’d taken with them, and these extras include Mrs W’s Christmas CDs, we’d really like them back. Please let me know if you have them. Dave Worthington Sophie Smith

page 33


Northwest News

A year in the life of WRG NW WRG North West in 2008

January: Chesterfield overflow We’ve been digging and quite a lot of it’s actually been in the North-West: January saw us on the Chesterfield ripping out tree roots; February on the Hollinwood doing more of the same (only many of them were beneath heavy stone copings); March on the Cromford for a major scrub bash (plus a sneaky Manchester, Bolton & Bury, i.e. it clashed with a paper chase - clearing the upper Prestolee locks); April the Hollinwood (again!); May the Chesterfield doing the February: Hollinwood spillway clearance initial site set-up for the summer camp; August on the Mont (raising the work flat again!); September was more tree felling on the MB&B (where Mr Mac managed to kidnap 2 locals who we haven’t been able to get rid of yet - and they’re under 70); October was the Lancaster for a spot of dry stone walling; November back to the Hollinwood for yet more coping repairs; and finally December was form planting plus our Christmas party on the (very cold) Mont - followed by a spot of icy boating for the four members who moved the work flat ready for its departure to the Chelmer & March: Cromford scrub-bash Blackwater.  In 2009 we’ve got Chesterfield, Lichfield and more Hollinwood and MB&B coming up. - and quizzing: fortunately neither WRG NW team lost or won the Inter Pennine Canal Quiz - meaning we didn’t look like complete idiots/anoraks but we don’t have to organise it next year. - and selling “valuable merchandise” - in fact things got so bad/good we had to make an effort to acquire ourselves some March: Prestolee lock clearance more.  We’ve also spent quite a lot of time sorting and disposing of “less valuable merchandise” (tat).  We were at the Middlewich Boat ‘n’ Folk, Crumpsall Carnival and also the National - and we will be next year. - and collecting paper - still 10 times a year - still eating fish and chips. - and most exciting of all we’ve been opening canals (well - that’s not strictly true) but there was a good North-West presence at the opening of the Margaret Fletcher tunnel on the April: stump-wrestling at Hollinwood Manchester Bolton & Bury along with the new lock

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and short stretch of canal going towards Salford.  And we sent some people to Droitwich Barge Lock opening. If anyone fancies joining us on a dig, mugging punters at a festival or rummaging through old copies of The Sun on a paperchase then please contact Mr Mac (David McCarthy) who will sell it in much more eloquent language.  To be added to the magical computery messaging thing please e-mail nw@wrg.org.uk. The Lads and Lasses of North-West Waterway Recovery Group

John Hawkins

Left: May Tirforing on the Chesterfield ready for the summer camp Below Left: August raising the WRG work-punt on the Mont prior to its departure for a new life on the Chelmer & Blackwater Top: September scrub clearance on the Manchester Bolton & Bury Above: October repairing the horsepath over Hincaster Tunnel on the Lancaster Canal Northern Reaches Below: November Replacing displaced coping stones on the Hollinwood. Uncredited photos: Mike Chase

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KESCRG News

“...a key job was dredging, but as the ice was 75mm thick on the cut there was no chance to move the dredger...”

An update from the south east KESCRG News

once those who showered got back) but the key piece of news is Kate Penn (the new KP!!) was voted in as Vice-Chairman, to take over from the very able Viv Watson who has had to move north - well beyond Preston - to ensure she had a good enough reason to step down. Viv: many thanks for your help and input to the group and we hope you move south again at some point in the future. Also Bobby is now our official publicity officer, please send him anything that needs to be public! If you want to know any more detail please talk to our secretary Mark ‘MK2’ Richardson or view the website for the dates for 2009! Thank you to all who made it out for the mass session and we look forward to seeing you on the circuit soon, particularly thanks to Eli for the food and to Digs’ bro Ian for joining in on his first dig, perhaps we can persuade you more than 3 miles from home again in the future! Having run last year’s reunion, Liz, our new daughter Sophie and I dipped out of this year’s, opting this time for a local bonfire and Sophie’s first firework party which she did enjoy until the point when tiredness took over... December Dig: The famous Christmas Party weekend was my next outing and

Bobby Silverwood

OK here we go all the bits I meant to write about over the last 4 months! October Dig – the KESCRG reunion or at least it felt like it! Well I don’t know if it was the draw of the Basingstoke or that various people who haven’t been out for a while got their dates mixed up with the Bonfire Bash, or if they were desperate to feed comments into the AGM but we really did have quite a few old hands! We were very pleased to be graced by visits from Chris Willis on Friday night (at the oh so lovely Fox Inn – not recommended!), by Ralph with his pass-out, chauffeured by ‘partner in doing a bunk for a Friday pint gang‘ Steve, also by Monsieur Gadd; on Saturday we had a welcome visitor from the sea side - the lesser spotted Ernie and his partner Lyn, and to cap it all on Sunday for our lunch at the hall The Amos’s too. The work was of the finest Basingstoke variety, to add to the atmosphere of old-time KESCRG, and was a straight 4 hour non-stop mix-and-pour concrete, plus other associated minor tasks including bricklaying on the bywash outfall. All this work followed on from the WRG summer camp and included using the steepest concreted dumper run I have ever come across in 21 and a half years digging. The weather forecast afforded us the incentive to get all the work done on Saturday and the weather itself lived up to the forecast on Sunday - and all that could be done was refuelling of the machines by Eddie and Digger. Digger had spent a large part of Saturday on the machine firstly tracking it to site and then loading dumpers all day with ballast to send to the mixing station quite some distance down the towpath (a mile or so). So as not to bore the wider Navvies audience we had a good October: all set for a concrete pour AGM (substantial bottle count

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January: the frozen-in dredger

junior then elected to sleep which allowed Liz and I to have another beer or two before Bungle very kindly dropped us back to the hotel. I’m sure there was much more to comment on later in the evening but I can only hope someone else writes about it! [They have: see pages 31-33. ...Ed] January Dig: This was mostly noted for its extreme cold (-3 deg C or lower all day). Once again we were back at the Basingstoke, this time at Brookwood, where a key job was to be dredging. But as the ice was up to 75mm thick on the cut there was no chance to move the dredger to site so instead we moved on to rally site preparation. This has be the best time to do such work as the ground was frozen to a depth of 50mm or so as proven by Digs on the machine, and that was under the trees. I know at home it had only been above freezing for one afternoon since Boxing Day. (perhaps the ‘National’ should move to January…) So we trimmed the bank of trees and brambles with NWPG to make it easier for festival visitors in the summer to moor up and started laying in the water pipe. This was all on Saturday and as I left after dinner I’ve no idea want happened on Sunday, apart from a ‘boys trip’ to see the dredger they couldn’t use, this was relayed to me in words and pictures a few days later by Bobby! My toes had thawed out by the time I woke up on Sunday morning at home, I’ve no idea if the hall was any warmer during Saturday night. Thank you to NWPG for dinner and bringing more people to warm the hall up. The coming year has now been well mapped out in terms of events for the group and the diary is on the website. We have a variety of dig sites and fundraising events, all of which have opportunities to volunteer to help organise: please shout if you can run a weekend, move kit, set up market stalls, fry, chop, paint kit, write articles etc etc etc but most importantly to enjoy being part of. We welcome all, even if you can only make it for a day, but please do let us know so you get fed! Happy digging to all and see you on the network somewhere in 2009! If you’ve not been out on a KESCRG weekend before pick one now and book with Eddie Jones or myself. Ian Williamson Bobby Silverwood

this time we went back to the North Wilts for serious scrub bashing. I managed to get to site about 2.30pm - after the lunch had already been sent back to the hall which I had left some 20mins earlier, having delivered important catering kit and stuff for PAT testing. Site work involved mainly slash-andburn with a touch of pulling too. It was bitterly cold which at least stopped the whole canal attaching itself to the bottom of your boots! Having done a tiny amount of work I reverted to driving to get everyone back to the hall in good time for me to do a second trip for the stragglers who thought they had been forgotten. Much feverish drinking then started alongside the making of costumes for the Roman theme Fancy Dress which Tim and I had to judge later on. Sophie – the more senior one - took charge of the evening’s organization to very good effect with Bob being the most enthusiastic chariot driver of all by quite some margin. The really important bit for us was presenting the KESCRG award. This is a trophy which has been awarded over a considerable number of years to those deemed worthy, that is to say the person who most springs to the mind of the Chairman and WPO at the due time of the evening. Seriously it is the groups opportunity to recognize a key contribution of an individual during the previous year. This year Nic Bennett was the recipient, in particular for his efforts shopping for the Bhaji stall at the National , among many other useful things including running around with lots of beer for events. All this was interspersed the wonderful food from Eli and the crew, and Sophie

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Navvies news

Balance beams available

Erewash canal Preservation & Development Association has some broad beam balance beams looking for a good home...

beam lock tailgate balance beams originally made by the Association for Langley Mill Might your canal be interested in some spare Lock; as BW fitted new gates last year these lock gate balance beams? Let us explain... are now redundant. The ECP&DA made the Mick Golds of the Erewash Canal Presfirst hollow box section balance beam for ervation & Development Association is orLangley Mill top gates to match the one that ganising a clear out of some redundant was broken; BW later copied the design. The equipment and the ECP&DA have donated ECP&DA are offering them to any canal some kit to the Cotswolds Canal Trust. This society interested. The beams are 19ft long included a three phase electric welder, oxy/ with the heel post tenon about in the middle acetylene cutting gear and an electric conof the length. The beams are welded box crete mixer. section 14 inches square with bevel corners The Cotswold was selected because to the breast post and tapering to 9 inches they are one of the few societies with a square at the mitre post; with steel handle, workshop fitted with 3 phase electricity; I am footstep, steel hand rail and buffer timber. As told that the kit is already in use. The the beams are not handed they made be ECP&DA already has an extensive workshop used on clapper gates on a narrow lock. shared with WRG East Midlands that makes Both in excellent condition but need painting, steel products for itself and for IWA Festivals lying at Langley Mill; transport might and other canal societies. be arranged. The ECP&DA also has pair of wide John Baylis

John Baylis

Spare plant...

Handover of surplus ECPDA kit for further use on the Cotswolds

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In which John Hawkins explains why some subscribers have been receiving empty envelopes instead of ‘Navvies’... Problems with Navvies

Navvies news Navvies and Tirfors Tirfor safety

We’ll start the New Year with an apology. We understand that there may have been some problems with the distribution of the last few editions of Navvies. Some people receiving an envelope with no contents, some copies are arriving in ‘tattered’ envelopes, and some have been returned to Jenny at the office directly from the sorting office as being ‘undeliverable’. The first problem could be that it accidentally missed having a copy put into it or that it has come out during the delivery process. The other problems can arise because the sorting machines are not set properly. We are using the same envelopes, and the assembly/posting process is the same up to where they leave Head Office. The only thing that has changed is the sorting office that they go out through. At the moment we are monitoring the process and will attempt to establish exactly why this is happening. Meanwhile if you receive a damaged copy then please contact either myself on Jenny and we will forward another copy. Many thanks John Hawkins, WRG Print

Our front cover photo this time shows a reluctant stump being persuaded out of the ground with the aid of not one but two Tirfor winches. Nothing to untoward about that sometimes it takes two or even more winches - but it does raise an issue that folks using Tirfors should be aware of. Basically all Tirfors have a maximum pull that they are rated for, which might be anything from a few hundred Kg to five tonnes. And any kit used with them - strops, cable, chain, shackles, pulley blocks - needs to have at least this rating. (and if you’re using a pulley, don’t forget you need to allow for the fact that this doubles the pull) And to make sure you don’t exceed this, the winch normally has a fail-safe (usually a shear-pin at the base of the lever that you operate the winch with) which will snap before you reach the limit. So far so good - as long as you only ever put tension in the cable etc. by pulling on the winch handle, you can’t overload anything. But just supposing you’ve got two winches on the same stump (like our cover pic), you’ve winched both cables up good and tight, and the stump doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. You decide to re-rig one of ...and speaking of Navvies... the winches to a different anchor point that might give you a more effective pull. So you Many thanks to the Canal Museum for the continuing use of the facilities at the Museum slacken it off.... NO YOU DON’T! for our Navvies “stuffing”. And also to the Because by slackening off just one folks who regularly help out with this part of winch, you’ve transferred some of the tension from it to the other one. Which might wrg Print. Special thanks to those who ventured just be enough to put it over its limit. So to avoid this you need to slacken both of them out into deepest Hertfordshire to assist with off together. We’re not saying don’t use two despatching the last edition, together with the superb (thanks to Jenny) Canal Camps winches: just think about what’s happening. And it might be tempting to take adflier. The only reason for it happening from vantage of that excavator that just happens home was due to the fact that the Canal Museum wasn’t available on that evening and to be trundling past as you strain at your I was going away the following week-it is not Tirfor. “Could you just give us a bit of an my intention to do it regularly from home. If extra tug / push on this root?” But remember its not too late, could I wish everyone a the same principles apply only even more so. So our advice is don’t do it: use a digHappy New Year, and keep stuffing!! John Hawkins ger, or use Tirfors. Not both at once.

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Navvies news

Have you noticed that one particular waterway seems to have been featured slightly more than most in this issue of Navvies?

The Wilts and where? Are you a Wilt or a Berk?

You may have noticed one or two slightly flippant remarks about the amount of stuff about the Wilts & Berks Canal in this issue. You might even have spotted that yes, indeed, said canal does take up rather a large part of the mag this time. All three camp reports in this issue, one of three weekend dig reports, a sizeable chunk of one of the groups’ roundup reports and a big section of ‘progress’. Oh, and the front cover too. Now I remember a time when in London WRG we used to joke on W&B digs that the world was divided into two types of people: the ‘wilts’ and the ‘berks’. The ‘wilts’ were the feeble, unimaginative, pessimistic folks who didn’t believe the canal had a hope of ever reopening. And the ‘berks’ were the nutters who thought that one day it would... So where is all this leading to? Well basically it’s a sign of how things have changed that what was the ultimate ‘no hope’ restoration in the 1980s has now progressed to the point where so much is going on at so many different sites along its 70-odd miles of waterway that it’s in danger of monopolising Navvies magazine. So I make no apology for the amount of stuff about the W&B: it’s where it’s happening. But we do welcome dig reports from everywhere - as you can see fro the pics on the back cover we work elsewhere too! So please can we have a few more non-W&B reports to prove that we do dig on other canals as well! And remember, we’re all berks now!

properly maintained Burco will light straight away without danger provided you do it correctly: light the match or lighter first, hold it next to the lighting hole, then turn the gas on, and it sucks the flame into the hole and ‘whoomph’, off it goes. But it’s not always easy to spot that a slight water leak has made it sa little more tricky. Anyway, for whatever reason, we’ve had a significant number of minor burns from Burcos over the years. And (after some initial scepticism until we’d seen them in use by some regional groups for several years without problems) the WRG board feels decided that the type fitted with an igniter is a safer option. They’re more expensive, but they also have a ‘simmer’ function which allows you to turn them down once they’ve boiled, and can save you money in the long run by using less gas. But it needn’t cost you anything because we’ve decided not only to replace the ones in the camp kits with this type, but to offer to buy them for all regional groups from central funds. Just ask Mike Palmer.

Most of WRG’s regular volunteers will be familiar with trying to light a reluctant gasfired Burco water boiler. Many will have had the experience of getting the hair burned off the back of their hand, their eyebrows singed or similar. And several, over the years, have suffered from slightly more serious burns. Now it’s all very well saying that a

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Martin Ludgate

From Berks to Burcos...

A Burco in its natural habitat on the Wilts & Berks


NOTICEBOARD Online Navvies subscriptions Don’t forget: You can now take out or renew Navvies subs online at www.waterways.org.uk/Restoration/index.htm or at www.iwashop.com/ecommerce/ products.asp?cat=126

Moving house Angela ‘AJ’ Lamen has moved to 176 Peel Green Road, Eccles, Manchester M30 7BA. If you move house, don’t forget to tell Navvies

Good luck Tom! Well-known WRGie Tom Jeffries is running the London Marathon 26th April in aid of ‘Help for Heroes’ and as part of his training will also run the Silverstone Half Marathon (15th March) and Reading Half Marathon (29th March). If anyone feels able to sponsor him then please visit www.justgiving.com/tomjeffries for further details

Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)

Stamps wanted

Send used stamps, petrol coupons, phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Ham-bleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.

New arrivals

Congratulations to Kate and John Fletcher on the arrival of Abigail Rae on Jan 26 and to Helen and Useful Phil Walker on the arrival of Oliver Thomas on Dec 9

Donations welcome! Just a reminder that... (1) Postal rates are going up again very soon. Which means that: (2) It will cost us more to mail you Navvies to you even though: (3) We don’t intend to put the Navvies subscriptions rate up, and anyway... (4) The current rate is a minimum subscription - and doesn’t even cover the cost of postage. So... (5) We are very dependent on your generosity in adding a donation to your minimum subs. And even more so now because: (6) Postal rates are going up again very soon. Hang on, didn’t we start here...

Congratulations

to ‘Geezer Chris’ Rowell and Monique Butler on their engagement - and Bon Voyage on their departure for Australia

Thanks... ...to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for his continued assistance with printing

Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 email: mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

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Infill

...introducing Jane and John The Jane and Episode 1: John

John stories drives a dumper

Jane and John have gone to do some work on a canal. They are wrgies. Wrgies like to spend their time getting covered in mud. Do you know what a ‘dirty bloke’ is? Jane does.

Agony aunt Deirdre will be back next time. If you have a problem for her, write to her via the editor or email deirdre@wrg.org.uk

J

J

When John gets to the worksite, he sees Larry the local. ‘Hello Larry’ says John. ‘Hello John’ says Larry. ‘I hope you are ready for a busy weekend, we have lots to do’. ‘Oh good’ says John ‘do you need anyone to drive anything?’ John likes machines, he doesn’t mind what the machine is as long as it has an engine. ‘We need someone to drive the dumper, would you like to do that?’ asks Larry. ‘Yes please’ says John.

‘Hello John’ says Jane, ‘what have you been doing this morning?’

Jane reaches into her bag and hands John his hard hat. It is red. Jane puts her hard hat on, it is also red. ‘Don’t forget to keep your hard hat on’ says Jane ‘otherwise that nasty health and safety man might take your plant ticket away from you. And don’t forget to come back in time for your lunch’. Larry shows John where the dumper is. The dumper belongs to the local society. Dumpers owned by local societies are just like normal dumpers except they won’t start and when they do you can’t stop them because the brakes don’t work. ‘Here she is’ says Larry. ‘We call her the ‘old girl’. Look after her, won’t you?’ ‘I will’ says John. John checks the dumper. He makes sure there is enough oil and diesel and checks the tyres. He is very thorough. Once he is sure everything is in place he picks up the starting handle and puts it into the engine. He starts turning he handle slowly but builds up speed gradually. Once he is turning it fast enough Larry drops the decompression lever. At this point the engine should start, but as this is a local society dumper the handle just stops going around. John doesn’t stop going around. Once he has picked himself up off the floor he looks for his glasses and hard hat which all stopped in different places. ‘Oh dear’ says John, ‘That didn’t go well’. Do you know what ‘language edited for print’ means? Martin Ludgate does... Larry goes and gets his Landrover and a rope. The Landrover is even older than the dumper and is held together with bailer twine and gaffer tape. Do you know what a dodgy MOT is? Larry does. Larry ties one end of the rope to the dumper and the other end to the Landrover. John climbs on the dumper and Larry starts to tow. With a lot of noise and smoke the dumper clatters into life. Larry unties the rope

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and John sets off down the towpath. The towpath is quite narrow in places and John has to concentrate to avoid ending up in the canal. Eventually he gets to where the digger is working, he parks the dumper where the digger can load it. The digger is a special ‘long reach’ model with an extendable bucket arm and John has a good look at it, he takes some pictures. Do you know what an ‘anorak’ is? Jane does, so does everyone else on the camp. Unfortunately John hasn’t quite put the dumper in the right place so Steve the digger driver pushes it back a bit with the digger. Once the dumper is full John drives back along the towpath and by the time he gets back the dumper is overheating and starting to smoke. It is lunchtime so he parks up and goes to meet Jane. ‘Hello John’ says Jane, ‘what have you been doing this morning?’ ‘I’ve been riding the ‘old girl’ up and down on the towpath’ says John, ‘It was hard work getting going and I think I damaged my helmet. She was banging really hard to start with but soon settled down to an even rhythm. I was on the edge a couple of times but managed to keep going right to the end when I got off. Then Steve gave her a quick prod with his extra long extension. She is a bit worn out now so I have left her to cool down and finish smoking.’ Jane gives John ‘one of those’ looks, her face is the same colour as her hard hat. She picks up the slasher. Run John, run...

And finally... Hot on the heels of the revelation from the Metro newspaper (see Navvies 232) that volunteering makes men more attractive to women comes the equally startling news from the same source that volunteering ‘is a great way to improve your sex life’. Tory MP Tim Loughton, Shadow Minister for Children said that ‘seventeen per cent of 18 to 24 year olds said that volunteering had improved their sex lives’. Just one thing. What about the other 83 per cent. Have their sex lives stayed the same, or got worse as a result of volunteering? We need to know.

WRGieotypes No 8: The Woman on a Sunday Janine’s got bags under her eyes, leaves in her hair and mud in her socks. All she can think of now is a hot bath, clean sheets and the use of a proper toilet. She’s so grumpy she goes and works down the far end of site in the hope everyone’ll leave her alone. Why didn't she stay home this weekend? Maybe she won't come on the next one. But digging with WRG’s like childbirth: you soon forget how awful it was and just want to do it again.

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 233  

Navvies 233. Find out more about the Waterway Recovery Group and volunteering.

Navvies 233  

Navvies 233. Find out more about the Waterway Recovery Group and volunteering.