navvies volunteers restoring
Celebrate forty years of Montgomery Canal restoration progress waterway recovery group
Issue No 234 April-May 2009
Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266
Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 email@example.com 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.
Adam Digger Morris
Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ
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 © 2009 WRG
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...
Editorial new canals need boats 4 Chairman Come to the Mont in October 5 Coming soon training, Cavalcade, Wey & Arun opening and lots of canal camps 6-8 WRGBC news from our boat club 9 WRG NW on the Lichfield 10-11 Theft protect your site plant 12-13 User Groups a farce 14-15 Your Navvies how your copy of this magazine comes to you 16-17 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 18-20 Letters H&S, mortar and dogs 21 Progress a roundup of restoration progress on projects around the country 22-30 Navvies News how to do gift aid 31-32 Noticeboard whos moving house? 33 Infill the return of Dear Deirdre 34-35
Above See page 10 to find out whats going on here and how to stop it! Left ...and see page 16 to find out what this is. Below: Wooden Canal Boat Societys boat Hazel: see report p28 Front cover Lichfield Canal: WRG NW in action at Tamworth Road. (photo by Alan Lines) Back cover main London WRG installing lower wing wall copings on Eisey Lock, Cotswold Canals (Martin Ludgate) Inset upper London WRG Tirforing at Seven Locks, Wilts & Berks (Alan Lines) Inset lower The Wey & Arun Canal Trust getting the canal at Loxwood finished in time for the May 9 opening (WACT)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Press date for issue 235: May 1st.
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
Linking Liverpool and Boston A tale of two links Look at the cover of your magazine and youll see the words volunteers restoring waterways. Well Im going to start by mentioning two projects which arguably fail to qualify on two grounds: they dont involve volunteers and they arent restoration projects. But humour me for now, and you might see some relevance to what we do. Firstly the Liverpool Link. In February the first boat made its way through this brand new connection from the Leeds & Liverpool Canals Stanley Dock Branch to Liverpools South Docks, now a leisure complex including the Albert Dock. Sure, those who believe in a freight-carrying future for the canals might be sorry to see that the route to the commercial northern docks has been severed. But for the leisure traffic that keeps the canals in existence today, there has to be a benefit in creating an attractive destination at the end of an underused urban length of canal. And secondly the Fens Link. With the opening of the new Black Sluice Lock in Boston, weve just seen the first boats entering the South Forty Foot Drain, the initial section of what will one day be a waterway connecting the Rivers Witham, Glen, Welland and Nene, creating a wide-beam inland route from the north to the Fens, improving access to underused waterways and bringing boats onto some lengths of water for the first time. Brilliant news - and two projects that many thought would never get started. But I worry slightly for the future. Because although right now boaters are queueing up to cruise these new waterways, Im not sure how busy theyll be in the coming few years. When the Liverpool Link was being pushed, British Waterways boasted of 4,500 boats a year being encouraged onto the western end of the L&L by the prospect of going through to Albert Dock. But now, I hear talk of booking systems, of retaining a requirement for a BW escort through Liverpools suburbs, and of limits on the number of craft allowed to hold up road traffic at swingbridges. And
...in which the Editor finds something to moan about, despite two brand new waterways having just opened!
meanwhile in Boston, access to the new lock is via the tidal Witham which means timing your journey right, checking your insurance and tide-tables, and for any craft over 40ft it means passing Boston Grand Sluice when the tide makes an exact level (otherwise youre too long for the lock). None of that can be helped (without major work - which might come in due course), but what isnt making things any better is the suggestion that once again a booking system will be in force for the new lock, and possibly that boaters will have to buy an Environment Agency licence for the newly navigable length of drain. As I write this, none of these booking arrangements have been confirmed. I hope my fears are ungrounded, and BW and the EA can sort out a system that makes it easy for boats to get onto these new waterways. And thats where it becomes relevant to us. Because if nobody other than the few goeverywhere enthusiasts (such as me!) uses these newly navigable lengths, how likely is it that those controlling the purse-strings will support any further waterway projects? And with the Sankey on Merseyside and the Slea in Lincolnshire likely to be looking for major funding as well as WRG volunteer support to maintain progress, its critical that schemes such as the Liverpool Link and Boston Lock arent seen as a waste of money. Even as I write, an enlightened attitude at BW (coupled with an IWA campaign, and a realisation of the size of the bill for new batteries!) is meaning that the electric tugs at Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield are being retired in favour of boaters being allowed to cruise through under their own power - albeit under supervision. This should increase the number of days that the tunnel can operate, and encourage more boaters to use it. And hopefully the canal will come closer to reaching its potential, and set a more useful precedent for future restorations in the area. But its taken eight years since the Huddersfield reopening for that to happen. Please dont lets make the same mistake again. Martin Ludgate
So what has happened since the last edition of Navvies? Well, lots actually but one thing I would like to mention was the excellent Leader Training day. By tradition this is held around the start of March and is something we run for anyone interested in trying out a bit of leadership. The format is different every time as we try and make sure that it deals both with issues our leaders bring to us and also lessons that we want them to hear. My thanks to Helen Bushbaby Gardner for leading the discussions and to Jimmy Butler and Suzie Pounce for making sure that we had enough people. The other great thing about the Leader Training day is that its held on the day of the Barn Dance and so everybody can spend the evening relaxing and enjoying themselves, which we certainly did. Both events are booked for March 6th next year and we look forward to another successful event (though perhaps with less Advocaat next time). There are TWO good reasons for my starting this column with a description of the Leaders Training day. Firstly, because it naturally leads on to the summer Canal Camps season and I have to say it does look pretty good. There is a good article about what the summer holds for us all later on in this issue (see page 7) and I do encourage you to book soon if you want to guarantee a place on your site of choice. Secondly, the fact that we managed to have this traditional event on its traditional date slightly masks the fact that our next two traditional events have moved somewhat. Our Training Weekend is usually in May because it is best for our volunteers, our instructors and, most importantly, the organiser Ali Bottomley. However various things have evolved over time (school exams, peoples weddings, etc) and this year the traditional May date is about as inconvenient as it could be. So we have moved it. There should be an article giving details of the new dates and what we can train people on somewhere in this Navvies. Moving the date isnt any indication of the event falling out of favour - we are still committed to making sure everyone gets as much training as possible. It really is just a timing issue. A happy by-product is that, because it is closer to the summer season, it should mean that we can better match the training we are offering to the work we will be doing. Another traditional event has been a big reunion event around about Bonfire night the reasoning being two fold: (a) people who met during the summer can turn up at a reunion event knowing that everyone will be there and can find out what happened to them all, and (b) we can preview the next years Camps schedule and answer any questions about them. This reunion event has, for some time, been called the Bonfire Bash - because it was held near November 5th and we used to have a big Bonfire Night celebration where Ralph and Harry would try and kill each other with fireworks. Well not this year because we are moving it. The 2009 reunion event will now be on Oct 17/18th on the Montgomery canal*. So why this sudden change? - Its quite simple really. That date happens to be the 40th anniversary of the Welshpool Big Dig. Now we hope to have an article explaining why this event was so important in the next Navvies but for the moment please take my word for it that this is something that is well worth celebrating. However for the moment just consider that the original reasons for the reunion event still hold true and so I hope to see you all there. Another far less exciting point is that we often mention that our WRG committee meetings are open to anyone who cares to come along. But we have to admit that sometimes people do come along and leave saying that wasnt very exciting. So to stop people having to turn up to be disappointed we have decided to put the WRG Board and committee minutes on the WRG website so that you can get that feeling of disappointment without having to turn up, waste a weekend and have nothing to show for it but a hot cross bun. Looking forward to getting my new Christmas wellies out and getting on site. Hugs and kisses Mike Palmer *For those of you who were hoping to go on the Wilts & Berks dont worry coz there is always the Christmas Canal Camp and the LWRG/KESCRG xmas party.
Come to the Mont in Oct!
Something to fill all those free weekends youve got between now and the summer canal camps season...
Cavalcade, training, W&A opening
Whats happening, man? Well, coming scarily soon is the summer Canal Camps programme, with the first camp barely eight weeks away as you read this. But more of that later. In the meantime here are three events happening in the next two months that wed really like to see lots of you at...
Canalway Cavalcade May 2-4 at Little Venice, London This is one of the first major events of the waterways calendar each year - and one of the most colourful. A hundred boats somehow manage to crowd into the pool at Little Venice in the heart of London for a weekend of parades of boats, thousands of members of the public, stalls selling anything and everything, and a real carnival atmosphere. And its all run by the IWA with support from our team of volunteers led by Dave Moose Hearnden. Hes still looking for extra hands, so if you can help before, during or after the weekend please contact him on 07961 922153 or email@example.com. Floating volunteer accommodation is available.
Wey & Arun Canal Loxwood Crossing opening, May 9 This is the culmination of several years work, both by volunteers (building the new Loxwood Lock and rebuilding the existing Brewhurst Lock) and contractors (constructing a new road bridge and lowering a length of canal to fit under it) to restore the canal through one of its more serious obstructions, the B2133 crossing at Loxwood. At 11.15am on May 9 it all comes together for the Grand Opening of the rebuilt length of canal, the greatest achievement of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust to date, and at a total cost of £1.5m one of the largest and most expensive projects anywhere in the country to have been masterminded by a volunteer canal society. Everyone is welcome for the official opening, especially all those of you who worked at Loxwood and have played your part in making this opening possible.
WRG Training Weekend, June 13-14 on the Lichfield Canal The good news is that the date and site have now been confirmed - its June 13-14, hosted by the Lichfield Canal, and we have accommodation at Burntwood Village Hall, the same as last year. The even better news is that lots of you have been in touch with Ali Bottomley already to request some training - but if you havent, and you want to be trained in anything from bricklaying to dumper driving to first aid to risk assessment... then the sooner you get in touch the better. Contact Ali on Tel: 07719 643870 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, and anyone whos been in touch will get sent a form just as soon as the courses are confirmed. The not-quite-so-good news is that that wont happen until a slight shortage of instructors has been dealt with - so offers of help with instructing will be greatly appreciated.
And looking further ahead: Montgomery Reunion, October 17-18 This Novembers Bonfire Bash on the Wilts & Berks wont be in November, wont be a Bonfire Bash and wont be on the Wilts & Berks. Let me explain: its 40 years since restoration work began on the Montgomery Canal, and to mark the anniversary were joining with the other groups involved in the Mont for a major work party on October 17-18 as a change from our usual November bash. But as we had already promised the November date to the Wilts & Berks, well be going there for the New Year Canal Camp instead. More details next time.
Summer Canal Camps 2009 You know you want to!
As I look out my window it is a lovely sunny day and the temperature is in double figures. This has got me thinking about my summer hols and which canal camps I am going on! This got me wondering what the work is this year. And that got me thinking that perhaps the rest of you might be having similar thoughts... actually in some very nice country on the So for the aid of happy campers every- Surrey and Hampshire borders. The work will be installing pipes for a back pumping where, here is whats happening in the first project: the canal never had a decent water half of the WRG summer camps programme. We start the season off with the Mont- supply so it tends to run out every summer. So were putting in pumps to raise water gomery Canal on the north Wales border back to the top of a flight of locks. There will where we will be running two weeks of be the chance to learn lots of new skills: for camps from 20th June to 4th July. example concrete reinforcing; surveyors Well be rebuilding the next section of levels will be used for accurate gradients of channel beyond the current limit at Gronwen. This will involve soft bank protection and stone pipes being installed; and the chance to play wall building at Crickheath wharf which will be with bendy toys: dumpers and excavators will certainly be on site. Currently we are still the terminus for the next length to reopen. confirming who the leaders are for these two Those who were on the camps last year will camps - but the people we have in mind will also get to see how the plants WRG planted at certainly make it a fun week. the new nature reserve have established. July 4th 11th will see us start a new This sounds like great fun. I think Ill project at Pewsham, in the countryside west book on for a few days. But lets hear from of Swindon on the Wilts & Berks Canal. this years leaders. Over to you, Helen... Camp 200906 will be an excellent opportuThe 1st week sees the return of Alan nity to work on the early stages of a lock AJ Jervis jointly leading with Lou I take restoration project. The three locks which sweets from strangers Kellet, and cooking used to raise the canal by about 25ft have brought to you by Harriet Girl Wood. The been unused for over 100 years. Work will 2nd is led by Helen Bushbaby Gardner ably assisted by Welsh Phil Scott. Lou is going to include clearing lock chambers to allow for future restoration, and repairing a culvert make sure we dont screw up all the first channelling water under the canal. So Nat week achieved by cooking on the second week and keeping an eye on us. If you cant Belderson, why should people book on? I will be leading the camp with the decide then do both weeks and see which help of Louise Gale, and when we are not one was better. The work is at Crickheath working on the site we hope to revive some Wharf (the wide soggy place where we got ancient WRG traditions such as the infamous the plants from last year) and well be buildTescue Valuo Challenge! To find out more, ing a proper limestone wall (rocks not blocks) but we will still need the mixer (yay). you will have to come to the camp in July! Are you thinking, Of There is more planting to course its not a real holiday do - weve had a look at unless I have to cross a last years and its not stretch of water to get to a dead - (double yay) but different country. Well sorry, there will be some gaps we dont have camps on the when it grows properly. Costa del Sol yet, be we do So what else is have the next best thing: happening? Well from 27th across the Severn Bridge and June to 11th July there is into South Wales for the the chance to work on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Basingstoke Canal. Canals. Now dont laugh: This might be the closest contrary to popular belief it you will get to London on New site: Wilts & Berks at Pewsham doesnt always rain there. a camp this year, but its
A whole summer of Camps!
The last few years camps it got muddy demolishhas been sunny. Honestly! ing and then rebuildThe work will be ing the lock head. This building a footbridge year Liz Wilson will across the canal ready for lead you into the lock next years Trailboat festichamber for a major val. The bridge structure rebuild of the main will be constructed entirely chamber walls, beginof oak, secured to a conning on 11th July to crete base. In addition we 18th July. What do you plan to construct timber reckon, Liz? landing stages at each of Could this be Cotswolds: Eisey Lock awaits our attention the best site for a the four locks on this length of canal so woodcanal camp this sumworking skills will be in demand. This will be mer? I think so! Its picturesque, the work is Heaven for Toby Parrott our jack-of-allinteresting, the locals are lovely and the trades. He is a fantastic teacher too, so hell village hall is practically your dream accommodation. Well be doing some big-style lock be able to impart some of his skills to you. Cutting back overhanging trees will be repairs with a chance to have a go on the part of the project plus lock painting and point- excavator or dumper, and of course a mix of social activities. ing of stone and brickwork. The date? Well again we have two one-week camps back-toChris wicks will be assisting Liz, with back starting on July 11th and going through to Chad Reed as her head chef extraordinaire! Next we head down to the Cotswold July 25th. The height of the summer sun!! Canals and to Eisey Lock, in a very pretty I like the sound of these camps. Im going to send my booking off to Jenny Black area and very quiet and relaxing... until the Canal Camps fun begins! Our friends in right away. Oh hang on, actually Im leading the first week with my assistant Gordon Brown NWPG and KESCRG will each be leading a (not that one!) And the cook? Thats another of weeks camp there, running from July 11 to 25. Thanks to the visiting weekend work the many skills of our jack of-all-trades Toby, parties throughout the winter things are and his partner Sam Dent will be keeping him in check! This camp is booking up fast so book moving along well and this summer will see work start on rebuilding the lock chamber early to avoid disappointment. walls. But enough from me: lets hear about But in case you cant make it to my it from Adam Digger Morris: camp heres a few words from Rob Daffern, Hello all, Digger here, the last Navvies the leader of week two, to encourage you to said that I am assistant leader of the KESCRG book onto his camp... camp, its always nice to be kept in the loop! The week should be the usual balance Bobby is leading us all at Eisey Lock this year of hard work and enjoyment. Myself and and our main task is to start rebuilding the Assistant Rachael Bowers will do our best to brickwork chamber - so we need bricklayers keep James under control. Everyone welcome, the sunshine has been pre-booked. and muck mixers and some people who want to learn how to do this as well. Im sure that See you there other jobs will crop up throughout the week By the way, this will be a bit of a doggy camp with a few of us on both weeks bringing such as sun cream application operatives! Our chefs for the week are Nigella Gaskell our four-legged friends - who Im sure wont and Delia Penn so no worries there. Howsay no to being stroked! [but who will of course be kept safely out of the way of the ever, a slight concern at present is that we dont have any accommodation - we are on work - see letters page ...Ed] the 93rd e-mail about this so hopefully itll If Wales isnt your cup of tea then the get sorted in time! Another concern is that opposite side of the country sees the first of two camps. On the Ipswich and Stowmar- we dont have many bookings yet so come on regulars, pull your trowels out! ket Navigation at Baylham Lock the two Thats all for now. Next time well have weeks of camps have been cunningly split the latest on the August camps. In the meanapart by a few weeks to allow the first sectime go to www.wrg.org.uk and get booking! tion of new concrete to go off properly beJames Butler fore we lay the second batch. In 2008 wrg
WRG BC News March 2009
After such a cold winter, when we havent dared venture far for fear of getting frozen in away from home, we can now look forward to excellent weather for cruising around all summer. There is no justification for this statement, Im just sick of hearing bad news so well have some good news, even if I make it up myself! Now some genuine news. AWCC there will be no new handbook this year BUT the 2008 one will con- we will get to use them again. Way back, I forget exactly tinue to be available and a set of 2009 updates will be when, WRG worked on the restoration of Welches Dam available soon. I will get copies for members when I Lock. I know a number of boat club members were inattend the AGM and post them out along with other ex- volved. This lock is unique having a most unusual system citing information! The AWCC website, being revised that replaces the balance beams; it also has a wooden as I write this, contains a Club Finder section which will floor. It is situated where the Forty Foot joins the Old Bedford River. Just after Easter in 2006 EA closed the lock and be useful as a handbook supplement. Vandalism: Concern has been expressed about despite efforts and offers of help we havent got a date for the way boaters just put up with instances of vandalism the commencement of work towards the reopening.* There is another way around to the Old Bedford, which should be reported to the police. I quite understand this attitude as one gets the feeling that to report through the Tidal Doors or Old Bedford Sluice. The things can be a waste of time. This does mean, how- local IWA branch have had discussions with EA who ever, that there are areas where vandalism is a regular have indicated two windows when passage through occurrence and if the police were aware of it they could the Sluice and along the Old Bedford will be possible. build up a picture of the situation and deal with it. If we They also take into account the need for favourable tides and a commitment that the approach channel to the Sluice dont tell them, they wont know! Red Diesel: Graham Myatt (AWCC Midland chair- will be de-silted. (All so easy when compared to simple man) stresses that the vendor has no responsibility for passage through a lock!) I have never EVER got through the ratio, (of diesel used for propulsion) declared by those Tidal Doors! There is a limit to the number of pasthe purchaser. It is the customer (us) who needs to ac- sages possible per tide. They dont often clear the channel which silts up regularly and will do so more as it is count to HMRC. Gas: From April Capita will be taking over from rarely used! The Old Bedford is usually choked with weed Corgi the administration of the gas registration scheme. for the same reason. I plan to join the attempt at navigation Insurance: Does yours cover you for corporate on the weekend 17th -20th April. Who can join me? Petermanslaughter? Well, do they mean me personally? Is borough IWA is also planning another attempt 25th -28th this a comment on my boating skills? Perhaps it is us September but EA will only de-silt the approach channel if as a club; we will discuss this when next we meet. I will there is demand and enough water in the Old Bedford. Please consider if there is any possibility of getbe pleased for some enlightenment on the requirement ting your boat there, see comments above on the joys of such a thing. Mooring Bollards: (does that count as bad lan- of boating on the Middle Level. If we fail in April I hope guage, or is it only if I say square mooring bollards?) What a to be able to try again in September. We are back to the use it or lose it scenario. cockup that has been. Three along the edge of narrow locks, causing moor(?) trip hazards, yet usually nothing Authorities love non/under use as an excuse not to do things they dont want to do. along the sides of wide locks where you need them! Forthcoming events: here are some that you On the Middle Level: BW did an all boat count last year. I have personal experience of this because might be interested in: Straw Bear was conspicuous by its absence and they th th April see above wrote and told me so. I pointed out that they didnt see 17nd -20 rd 2 -3 May Leamington Spa Event the boat because it was on other waters, (and had a gold 16th-17th May Coombeswood Open Weekend licence). I also said other things, but Ill tell you about that rd th Boat Show another day! Now about these other waters, in this case 23th -25 May Crick 4 July 50th Anniversary Wyken Basin Celebrathe Middle Level Navigations, they are very good for wintions ter cruising for two, or in my case three, reasons. (1) There th th 7 -9 Aug Tamworth Cruising Club are very few structures to close for winter maintenance. 29th-31st Aug National Waterways Festival & wrg bc AGM (2) The waters are generally deep and moving, in a 25th-28th Sep see above controlled manner, so they rarely freeze. (3) I live here! However at the moment some parts of the local xxx Sadie Dean system are inaccessible and it seems no one knows when 07748186867 email@example.com *Note this is a unique example of me trying to tread carefully and not give all the details page 9 or say all I feel about attitudes to offers of volunteer help, while negotiations continue.
WRG Boat Club News
WRG NW on the Lichfield
WRG North West do things with some big pipes, bricks and concrete at Tamworth Road Locks
The WRG North-West Regional Group occasionally grit their teeth and head out of the Pennines and this particular weekend we headed as far as Lichfield to a site where there was no scrub bashing at all - must be nearly Spring. Bob Williams had left us with comprehensive instructions for the work to contemplate for the Friday night which we duly did (Note I wasnt actually there at this point - I didnt make it until Saturday morning but this is what I was told happened and I believe it). There were detailed pictures of how some pipes (which will form a bywash around lock 25) will fit and be fused together - like the lego blocks on pound 27 this was a new thing for the Trust. We all arrived promptly on the Saturday morning to find that the plans had completely changed and the pipe work was abandoned for the Saturday. Most of the group busied themselves putting a facing course in front of the concrete lego blocks and what with cutting bricks into halves, laying bricks, mixing muck, buttering (pointing) and hurling abuse at the muck mixers this took quite a lot of us. Unlike our last visit the weather held out and we didnt get soggy and more impor-
Bricklaying in front of the lego brick wall
tantly neither did the brickwork. There was some plant and materials movement at the other end of site but the main work was digging out the trench which would hold the concrete base for the pipe bywash. Food was provided by the one legged Ian, the one legged Liz and the supporting Cath and very nice it was too. I seem to remember a little bit of beer and wine was consumed. We also had a WRG North West ad-hoc meeting - this was possibly the first genuine ad-hoc in that it wasnt planned and that there was a decision made. On the Sunday Bob was keen to start handling the pipes whilst there were lots of us around so that he could see how many people it would take to manoeuvre them into position and how easily they would join. The answer was not quite as many as there were people so some of us went to back fill the 2 courses of bricks wed built the previous day. Meanwhile Bob and the locals had started the massive concrete pour into the trench theyd dug the day before. When wed done our backfilling we helped with the mixing. The big mixer was placed in the back garden (between locks 25 and 26). A couple of us were on the loading and someone on the water control. When it was done we poured it into the digger bucket and it
North West go South
The trench for the concrete pour
Apologies for muttering about the potential lack of a second tea break... Im really becoming part of North West!
WRG NW on the Lichfield
Above: checking the depth of the hole before (right) the complicated concrete pour using a digger and barrows, then (below) smoothing it off ready for the pipes when weve figured out how to join them (below right)
was lowered down to the level of the trench. There it was poured into a couple of barrows and wheeled along to the end of the trench and poured again. It was fairly slow work and the wind was bitter but we carried on until we ran out of cement. Hopefully weve saved the locals some time. Thanks to Mr Mac for the tea making service, Jan Horton for not one but two cakes and apologies for myself and Jim muttering about the potential lack of 2nd tea break on the Sunday - I feel like Im really becoming part of North-West. Helen Gardner
An amazing £1m worth of construction plant goes missing every week. Digger explains how to stop your site becoming a crime statistic
Theres a plant thief about! What Can You Do In 3 Minutes? Unfortunately we live in a world where things do just simply vanish into thin air. If you have a flashing beacon on your vehicle and a hi-vis vest then a member of the general public will rarely ever question you. I have staged this reconstruction of a recent theft from a local canal society to show just how quickly and easily plant and equipment can vanish from seemingly secure compounds. The operator pictured here parked, deployed his stabilisers, reached over the fence, fish-hooked this compressor and lifted it onto his lorry in under 3 minutes without crossing the fence himself! This lorry is capable of lifting this 1t compressor at a 16m reach but there are lorry-mounted cranes on the market that will lift this at 30m! If the item is directly beside the lorry then around 18t can be lifted and thats more than any piece of equipment that WRG will normally use.
I have recently read a report that estimates plant theft in the construction industry to be around £1m PER WEEK with only 5% of stolen items ever being recovered. An alarming statistic was that 25% of this theft is trailers! We all understand the importance of using wheel clamps on trailers as they can be easy-pickings, but we should also consider other basic steps to improve security such as leaving them locked to the towing vehicle, or chained to something substantial, and backed up to a wall to try and prevent access to the contents. It is unlikely that we will ever stop the determined criminal, but a lot of the thefts that we encounter are the opportunists who generally target smaller items such as trailers, generators, compressors and hand-held plant. These items can easily have their identities changed with a quick paint job and then be moved across the country. To steal and dispose of larger items of plant like excavators and dump trucks takes a lot more
Yes, it really is this easy to nick a 1 tonne compressor from 18m away, over a fence - in 3 minutes!
then please dont hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or the WRG plant team. Thanks to G R Armstrong Limited Groundworks & Civil Engineering for helping with the reconstruction photographs. Adam Digger Morris
Photos by Digger
planning as they are often exported to other countries, if criminals are going to go to that much effort then they are more likely to want the new machine from the site round the corner than any of our antiques! It is most likely that our equipment would be stripped for spares and then cut up and sold as scrap. Think of some simple things that you can do when you park up your items of plant to try and prevent theft. For example, all excavator drivers know that they should lower the arm and place the bucket on the ground when parking why not put it in the skip of the dumper youre using so that it cant be dragged or lifted away so easily? If you have a lot of buckets with your excavator then try trapping them against the blade so that they cant be lifted or thrown in the canal by the local yobs. They may just look like lumps of rusty steel but even on a minidigger they are worth several hundreds of pounds each and can be difficult to replace on older machines. Obviously every group will have an inventory of all of the equipment they own logged with head office, but nowadays it is very simple (and costs nothing) to take digital photographs of everything from all angles and all identifiable information such as the manufacturers plate and serial number, these can then be passed to the police to help identify any items if they do just happen to disappear. If anybody wants any advice (or photos!) on ways to secure their plant
Above and below: protect excavator buckets - they could be worth several hundred pounds
User groups The truth at last
A description of British Waterways openness and accountability policy in action, by somebody whos clearly seen it first hand...
wellies and insisted on leaning on spades rather than taking a seat. And finally, there was a Star Trek fan sitting on the front row, Forget the world of international poliwho had made the mistake of going to the tics. The really important conflicts are hall on the wrong night. The meeting was of being waged across this great land in course to be chaired and led by two notable dilapidated village halls, public houses British Waterway officials - Ivor Lock and and garden sheds... Percy Paddlegear. In this particular instance, British WaterPercy thanked every one for their atways were chairing a meeting to discuss the tendance and support - which I thought a future and welfare of Englands precious touch premature - and launched almost canals. This area of micropolitics had excited enthusiastically into a report of the last years the feelings of a variety of disparate individu- work programme. The first item on the als and groups; all determined that the caagenda was the importance of maintaining nals belonged to them. water supplies. Percy pointed out that the On the surface they appeared to desire water available in the reservoirs right now partnership; underneath, they despised each was particularly wet and not like the dry stuff other. The walkers hated the cyclists; the that we had last year. He then promised us fishermen and environmentalists hated the all, fervently, that our water would stay wet, boaters. All groups wanted the fishermen and get even wetter as the winter apand their roach poles to be tossed into the proached. He went on to say that even abyss. Battle lines were being drawn, ideas though British Waterways had done much and attitudes firmly entrenched, and a variety back pumping during the summer, credit of weapons were being covertly brought into should really go to global warming, and the the formerly sleepy village hall. WRGies had fact that it hadnt stopped raining for the last dug trenches as in the First World War at the six months. rear of the hall. Forty six persons of all The good news for boaters was, that shapes and sizes, weighed down with their according to reliable government statistics (a own political persuasions and agendas, contradiction in terms?) water levels would jostled for a foldaway chair. I grabbed a seat continue to rise, and the whole of the midat the front of the room close to the door, lands would be a lake in 25 years: 90% of from where I could make a quick getaway if people left alive would be living on a narrow necessary. boat. Mooring could become a problem, but It was now 7pm. There was a feeble a local company who were developing a call to order that made the excited muttering small cast iron anchor were now on the web drop several decibels. Every group imaginafor inquiries. Sacks of rubbish could still be ble - and its dog - was represented. Amongst thrown overboard, so no change there. this illustrious gathering of not-so-great Percy sat down and mopped his brow minds were Rupert Roachpole and Mark while Ivor Lock gave a sprightly report on Maggotbreath for the local angling club, the last years expenditure: £2.4 million on Tamsin Twitcher of the Wildlife Trust, Larry reservoirs, culverts and pumping; £1.2m on Lycralegs from the village cycling club, Barry lock repairs; £250,000 for dredging; half a Bunnion for the ramblers association, and million for bank repairs; and finally, £165 Captain Birdseye and Bert Buttybottom for million on office stationary. He scanned the the canal society and Inland Waterways paper quizzically, adding that he couldnt Association. Bill and Tracy represented the understand why so much had been spent on WRGies; you could identify them as they the canals. Percy then got up again to let us were the only ones that came in muddy know that £4.2 million of funding had been
Waterways User Groups: Ever so useful
Percys lips quivered as he contemplated unknown quantities of Klingon crap... used to fit square bollards at lock sides that no one seemed to want, though they did make a nice little fire in winter months. Percy invited questions from the audience - a tactic guaranteed to be a lively if not contentious part of the meeting. Our Trekkie was first off the mark, and asked if Klingon war vessels would be able to use BWs pump out stations. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the minutes secretary frantically writing notes. Percys lips quivered, as he contemplated unknown quantities of Klingon crap, but he made no reply and the meeting continued after a weird little silence. Mark Maggotbreath, who happened to be sitting behind me, suddenly piped up that his angling group had tested several methods of despatching cyclists as they zoomed along the towpath. Anti personnel mines just inches under the gritted surface seemed to work well, but thanks to the untimely intervention of the human rights commission, they had reluctantly dug them up. Unfortunately, he added, several of their members were now having to learn to fish with one arm, after having the other sucker blown off during testing of said devices. Ronald Roachpole added that thin wires strung across the towpath were almost as effective, but that the height was critical because it didnt always catch them by the throat. However it was a much cheaper option, and was usually fatal. One of the WRGies mentioned that leaving open trenches was a good way to get rid of cyclists, unwanted BW officials and officers from Health and Safety, and everyone was almost in full agreement at that last remark. It sounded SO full of practical wisdom... But just then, Larry Lycralegs jumped up and said that his cycling group were running a competition to see how many roach poles a cyclist could ride over and crush in one day, and I knew that things were about to get nasty. Tamsin Twitcher also delivered a broadside across the fisher-
The truth at last
mens bows when she related the plight of the many swans, ducks and voles that were being maimed and killed by thoughtless and selfish fishermen and their tackle. Captain Birdseye chimed in that he and his members were sick and tired of having maggots thrown into their boats, and he called for a ban on all fishing rods over two feet long. (sounds reasonable!) Well that remark did it, and the room erupted with yells of Its our canal, No its ours you scum and You dont have to pay three million quid a year to moor up a boat, Do you? Fascists! Morons! Cretins! Trekkies! Dont you call me a Trekkie! The pretty waterways secretary, who had until then secreted a tear gas canister under her taut woollen jumper, (I had wondered what that third bulge was) lobbed it into the crowd after a nod from the Waterway Manager. It was too late though, as AK47 assault rifles, machetes and sharpened spades were being slid from briefcases and handbags. I quickly dived under the table for cover, as a hail of automatic gunfire swept the room. All was confusion and terror, as cold steel, fishing hooks, and sharpened windlasses glinted under the fluorescent lighting. Thirty seconds and it was all over. An eerie silence and calm filled the room, as the living checked their vital assets, and Ivor Lock checked the secretaries. I came out from under the table to view the carnage, and heard Lock whisper to Paddlegear. You should have sent for the police earlier you know No , no, came the steady measured response. Its just how I planned it said the Waterways Manager, pointing to the tangled and twitching bodies. This is the answer to all our problems. Now at last, we can get on with the job of running the canals
How your Navvies is made...
Ever wondered how our magazine is put together? Wonder no more... Contributors send in their words and pics
The editor lays them out on the pages using a desk top publishing package...
...then produces two documents in PDF format:
John Hawkins of WRG Print uses the plates to print the inside pages
...one PDF is all the inside pages, which he emails to CSL in Watford to make plates...
Meanwhile the PDF of the cover goes to Chris Griffiths at Stroudprint for printing
Each plate makes two double page spreads on a sheet of A3 paper, so John then uses a guillotine to cut them in two
As the cover picture runs right to the edge, its printed on oversize paper and trimmed down
John puts the covers and all the inside pages together using a collating machine...
...runs each completed copy through a folder and stapler...
A team of volunteers stuff and stick envelopes. Then Head Office posts them off
...and runs a Â‘boneÂ’ along each copy to flatten down the crease
The subscribers tear open and avidly read their magazines...
...and it all starts again! Go back to start
Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Apr 18/19
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Yarkhill
Hollinwood Canal: (No WRG transport) also sales stand at Sandbach Tr
Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge
Apr 26 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing Lock May 2/3/4
Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice: Site Services Camp
Little Venice: (Sales stand only)
Wendover Arm: Sat & Sun only, locals probably working Fri-Tue.
Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with Essex WRG.
Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with wrgNW.
Cotswold Canals: Goughs Orchard Lock
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)
May 9 Sat
Paper Chase waste paper collection
May 9 Sat
Wey & Arun Canal: Official Opening of B2133 Bridge and Loxwood New
May 10 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing Cut & Walk May 10 Sun WRG
Committee & Board Meetings: Lapworth Village Hall
Rickmansworth Festival: Site Services & sales stand
May 23/24/25 wrgBITM
Wendover Arm Festival: Site Services & sales stand
Wendover Arm Festival: Bhaji stall
Chesterfield Campaign Rally: Sales Stand
May 31 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate Lock & Mill Pond Jun 6/7
Mon & Brec Canal: provisional
Wilts & Berks Canal: probably Seven Locks (Dig Deep project)
Jun 13 Sat
Paper Chase waste paper collection
WRG Training Weekend: at Lichfield. NOTE CHANGE OF DATE
Jun 14 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate Lock & Mill Pond Jun 20/21
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)
Wey & Arun Canal
Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival: Sales Stand
Tool Maintenance weekend
Jun 27-Jul 4 Camp 200904
Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater,
Canal Camps cost £49 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 200903') should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453. Email: email@example.com
David Moose Hearnden07961-922153
Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canal societiesÂ’ regular working parties Amendments to Dave Wedd (see previous page) Once per month: pls check 2nd Sunday & following Thurs Anytime inc. weekdays Every Sunday Every Tue & Wed Every Saturday Last Sunday of month 4th Sunday of month Second Sun of month 2nd weekend of month 2nd Sat of month Tuesdays Weekends Wednesdays Weekends Every Sunday if required 2nd Sunday of month 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat 3rd Sunday of month 2nd & 4th Sundays 2nd & last Sundays Every Wed and 1st Sat 2nd Sunday of month 1st Sunday of month Most weekends Last weekend of month 2nd Sunday of month 1st weekend of month Every Tuesday morning Every Sunday & Thurs Mondays (2 per month) Tuesdays Wednesdays Wednesdays Thursdays Saturdays Various dates 1st w/e of month (Fri-Mon) 2nd Thursday of month Every weekend
BCNS BCS BCT ChCT C&BN DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT H&GCT H&GCT H&GCT IWPS LCT LHCRT LHCRT NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WAT WAT WBCT
Abbreviations used in diary BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CCT DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS K&ACT KESCRG
Mobile groups' socials (please phone to confirm)
London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig. 'Star Tavern', Belgrave Mews West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586
BCN waterways Buckingham area Aqueduct section Various sites Chelmer & Blackwater Droitwich Canal N Walsham & Dilham Langley Mill Foxton Inclined Plane Grantham Canal Nynehead Lift Oxenhall Over Wharf House Over Wharf House Hereford Aylestone Bugsworth Basin Lancaster N. Reaches Lichfield Hatherton N Walsham Canal Pocklington Canal Stowmarket Navigtn. Sankey Canal Combe Hay Locks Basingstoke Stover Canal Sleaford Navigation Newhouse Lock Thames & Medway C varied construction tidying road crossings Tickner's Heath Depot maintenance work Loxwood Link Winston Harwood Grp Conservation Group Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Drayton Beauchamp Drayton Beauchamp Wilts & Berks Canal
Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group
LCT LHCRT NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT W&BCC
Mike Rolfe Athina Beckett Gerald Fry Mick Hodgetts John Gale Jon Axe David Revill Michael Golds Mike Beech Colin Bryan Denis Dodd Brian Fox Maggie Jones Wilf Jones Martin Danks Ian Edgar Paul Shaw Sue Williams Denis Cooper David Revill Paul Waddington Colin Turner Colin Greenall Bob Parnell Peter Redway George Whitehead Mel Sowerby Mike Friend Brian Macnish Eric Walker John Empringham Colin Gibbs Peter Jackman Peter Wilding Tony Clear David Jessop Keith Nichols Roger Leishman Pete Bowers Rachael Banyard
07763-171735 01908-661217 01288-353273 01246-620695 01376-334896 0121-608 0296 01603-738648 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2248 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 413888 01432 344488 01663-732493 01524-35685 01543-671427 01543-374370 01603-738648 01757-638027 01473-730586 01744-731746 01225-428055 01483-721710 01626-775498 01522-856810 01948-880723 01732-823725 023-9246-3025 01483-562657 020-8241-7736 01483-772132 01483-422519 01903-774301 01403-269384 01403-753882 01442-874536 01255-504540 01249-892289
Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Surrey & Hants Canal Society Stover Canal Society Sleaford Navigation Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Company
...on Heath & Safety, a not very nice story about mortar in the eyes, and what to do about dogs...
to the editor
Dear Martin Karen Fishwick, our local British Waterways Volunteer Co-ordinator, has passed on to me a Safety Alert issued by Carillion Training Services. It describes an accident suffered by Tom Corfield, a bricklaying apprentice, who was carrying a full bucket of mortar on his shoulder. As he went to set the bucket down it slipped and caused mortar to fly up, covering his face and eyes. He was not wearing eye protection. Hi supervisor washed his eyes out, took him to the first aider and he was taken to hospital by car. His eyes were burning for the 45 minutes from the accident to being seen by a doctor. The mortar had caused severe burning to both eyeballs and as it had started to go off it had to be scraped from his eyeballs by the doctor. Tom has had a number of stays in hospital, several operations and does not know how much sight he is going to get back. I have myself in the past put down a bucket of muck harder than intended and it has splashed out, although not with the devaststing consequences described here. This is an object lesson in assessing the possible risks of doing a job and using the appropriate protective equipment. But it also raises the question: if we dont have access to clean tap water on site, does the first aid kit contain sufficient, in-date, eye wash? Ill certainly be checking our kit before we go out again. Steve Morley Dear Martin WRG is rightly concerned and focussed on Health and Safety at all working parties and canal camps. However, when I read in Navvies 233 a working party report on a Basingstoke Canal dig where there were dogs running about in a frenzy of excitement whilst WRGies coped with slippery and freezing conditions underfoot next to a ten foot drop I questioned whether a potentially serious issue had been missed. Is this an accident waiting to happen? Are we contravening any safety regulations? Surely children *and* pets should be kept well away from working sites. Yours John Gunner WRG Chairman Mike Palmer replies: Firstly there is an comment to be made that many parts of Navvies contain reports that have a fair amount of artistic licence, because one of the points of volunteering is that what we do, and how we report it, should be fun! However Sophies remarks about dogs are clearly not entirely without foundation, and this particular subject does seem worth a reminder so here we go... Do you own a dog? Well you might not realise it but your dog is just as annoying, smelly, stupid and - more importantly - dangerous as all the other dogs. So yes it should be properly controlled at Should they be banned from site? What do you think? our events.
Sleaford Navigation Sleaford Navigation
Our roundup of progress on restoration projects around the country begins with a new bridge and refurbished lock in Lincolnshire... quite a height, in fact, big as the crane was, it was nearly at its full reach. The new abutments were ready to receive the bridge, the team having already removed the nuts from the anchor bolts. Despite one or two doubters who thought that the bolts werenÂ’t lined up correctly, the bridge dropped into place with little fuss or effort and the lifting strops were finally removed. The last big lift of the day was to put the counterweight into place. This was not part of the original lift as it would have contributed an extra four tons to the overall weight and would have made the lift very unbalanced. The assembly work was to bolt the pivot bearings to the main structure and fasten connecting rods from the counterweight arm to the end of the lifting span. With the counterweight in place the final shape of the bridge was complete. The only work that now remains to be done is to fit the mechanism to raise the bridge and also to make good the access walkways either side of the bridge.
Sleaford Navigation Trust
New Sleaford lift bridge: On a bitterly cold 29th December the bridge finally arrived in Sleaford! The crane arrived on site about 7.30 in the morning to set up. At first sight the bridge looked a bit like a giant Meccano Kit with two large artic lorries carrying all the parts. The first part to be unloaded was a large frame, a jig, for the bridge to be assembled on. This made sure that all the parts were in the correct alignment for a quick and accurate assembly. First to be put in place on the assembly jig were the two ends. This was achieved with a few lifts from the crane and use of crowbars to sit the ends in the correct place. The second lorry was then unloaded with the counterweight, lifting deck and joining beams being put onto the ground next to the main assembly. The next part to be assembled was the lifting deck. This had to be a very careful lift as the deck had to be lifted at an angle so that the pivot points had room to fit into the slots made for them in the end part. After one or two tries and some adjustment to the Bottom Lock: After quite a while in the lifting strops to get the correct angle this was planning the refurbishment of Bottom Lock eventually achieved successfully. was finally finished in early November. The next stage was to lift the four joinMuch research was carried out to try ing beams and bolt them into place. This and establish how the lock was dammed off took place fairly quickly with the two beams on one side being lifted and bolted up closely followed by the two beams on the other side. All this work took till lunchtime. After lunch it was a case of a final tightening of all the bolts with an air spanner to prepare for the big lift. Excitement mounted the assembly team placed the lifting strops onto the bridge and the crane swung into position. The crane revved up and the bridge, minus the counterweight, was lifted up The bridge goes together like a giant Meccano set and over the trees. This was
Sleaford Navigation Trust
Final job: the counterweight is craned into place
when the lock was originally restored in the late 1980s as nobody could remember how it was done. All we had to go on were a few black and white photographs so any details were, at best, sketchy. The contract for piling off the lock was awarded to Black Sluice Drainage Board but when they started to put the piles into position they hit an obstruction. This resulted in twice as many piles being put further away from the lock at double the cost. Before the new gates could be installed, Sleaford Navigation Trust volunteers had quite a bit of work to do. This included repairs to the brickwork on the lower wing walls and also brickwork repairs in the lower gate recesses. Under normal circumstances neither place is easy to access. When we were carrying out the repairs we were careful to leave a few holes in the wing walls for nesting Grey Wagtails as it had been established that the area was one of the few sites in the county that they nest. As the lock was going to be drained for a while it was also decided, as a safety measure, to take the opportunity to fit lock ladders. The new gates that had been manufactured for us by Hargreaves of Halifax arrived on site on 5th November and were quickly fitted into place. Gates were quickly followed by the balance beams and the paddle gear. The next couple of days were taken up with final
adjustments to make the gates fit correctly. There were, however, a few diversions during the work. One particular one comprised an unscheduled fish rescue. During the initial draining of the lock We had made sure that all the fish had been rescued. Later on though the water level rose for a short while and a pike managed to make his way into the lock. We didnÂ’t have a net so we managed to encourage the pike into a large plastic bucket which we hauled up the lock wall and then released it above the lock. With a view to future maintenance of the lock it was decided that while the lock was drained we should fit grooves in the lock entrance for stop planks. This meant that we also had to fit a beam into the lock apron. On the Sunday a small select team of volunteers lowered a concrete mixer into the lock and proceeded to mix about 2 tons of concrete to provide a haunch either side of the beam. The water levels were a bit changeable and although we had intended to raise the top gate and Â‘christenÂ’ the new gates we were beaten to it by the river. In fact the team from Hargreaves only just manage to finish and get their gear out of the lock before the river came up and flooded the lock. Many thanks to Dave Pullen for all his hard work organising the program of works and also to Norman Osborne for his efforts transporting materials and equipment.
Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Trust has another lock to restore, thanks to Staffs Highways unearthing it
Lichfield & Hatherton Canals
and identifies a very achievable and attractive route. Our main efforts are currently directed towards meeting very onerous conditions required by Lichfield, Cannock Chase, South Staffordshire and Walsall Councils necessary for the line of both canals to be included in the Local Development Frameworks. The work by Atkins is invaluable and timely. Although avoidance of the original route via the Cannock Extension removes many of the environmental issues there are still water quality and supply issues to be resolved, mostly with the Environment Agency. Meanwhile at Tamworth Road, work on Borrowcop Canal Park continues with our own team. Several visiting groups will be welcomed in spring and summer [See WRG North West report, p12-13]. Researches into the proposed A51 main road crossing below Tamworth Road Locks show that our original plans are viable and that information recently received from Highways was inaccurate. At Darnford we continue to monitor the stream passing under the canal and to work with other landowners to avoid blockages and possible floods. We are increasingly hopeful that the canal bed from the Darnford Lift Bridge to Cappers Lane will soon be put on the market.
An exciting discovery: Contractors working for Staffordshire Highways have started work on the bridge which carries the Muckley Corner to Lichfield main road over an infilled section of the Lichfield Canal. This is on the corner of Moat Bank Lane. In so doing they have unearthed part of Lock 11 which has been buried since the canal was disused in the 1960s. The bridge, built in the mid 1930s needs investigation and probably strengthening to carry the anticipated heavier goods vehicles. The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust is very excited to see this work in progress and to discover that the brick and stonework is in remarkably good condition. With the co-operation of Staffordshire Highways, directors of the Trust have visited the site and are certain that lock can be returned to operational condition in the quite near future. Trust Chairman, Brian Kingshott, said this is a wonderful step forward and presents us with the first opportunity to make progress on this section. We are a strong and vibrant organisation. It is the kind of project which is well within the capacities of the Trusts work force and visiting volunteers, and will meet one of the Trusts objectives which is to restore as many of the historic features of the canal as possible. The Trust is very optimistic that it can continue its work through the current national economic downturn. It has commissioned a feasibility study for the whole length of the Lichfield Canal from Ogley Junction to Huddlesford which should be delivered in early April. The Atkins update on the Arup Report which reroutes the Hatherton Canal away from the Cannock ExtenThe main road bridge and Lock 11 emerge from the infill sion has already been received
Meanwhile Somersetshire Coal Canal Society restores a railway bridge that a canal lock is buried underneath
...in Sussex and Somerset
Somersetshire Coal Canal
Since Christmas the Somersetshire Coal Canal has held two more work parties at Combe Hay Locks, both tackling the problems of trees on a railway bridge immediately adjacent to the locks under which passes a public right of way following the canal route. The railway, long closed, was opened after the canal itself was closed and the embankment sits on top of lock 16, thus much of the work is at the site of lock 16 but about twenty feet above it! Since closure of the railway trees have taken root on the bridge itself, and BANES, the local authority, was becoming concerned the bridge is being endangered with consequent public risk. As the same landowner owns locks 1-15, where most of the work parties have been held, and the public footpath is the main right of way to the locks, we have taken on the task of removing these trees. To avoid extra strain on the structure they have only been removed at the rate of around three per work party, with other clearance work continuing in the vicinity at the same time, including establishing the exact location of lock 16 under the embankment. This slow rate of removal is also better for wildlife and allows the quantities of wood
Twenty feet below here lies lock 16
to be manageable, usually one or two trailer loads. The access to the site, down single track lanes, makes large scale removal difficult as nothing larger than a car and trailer can reach the site. By good fortune, the new chairmans presence on one work party led to a long discussion with the land owner and resulted in the society giving the councils archaeologist and conservation officers a tour of the whole Combe Hay complex, which reassured the council that the locks are in good hands. Following this it is hoped to establish a closer relationship with the council officers to the benefit of the society. It is hoped soon to move to other areas of the Combe Hay Flight following discussions with the land owner For further details please contact myself on the email address below. Patrick Moss Chairman Somersetshire Coal Canal Soc email@example.com
Sussex Ouse By kind permission of landowner John Sclater, conservation / restoration work will restart at Isfield Lock on various week-ends from late April until mid-September 2009, plus a few Thursdays. Following completion of the removal of the bottom gate remains and all the silt from the lock in 2007, work in 2008 concentrated on the conservation and renovation of the East wall. Good progress was made with this task and 2009 will see this work continuing with the possibility also of a start being made on the wing walls north and south of the Lock on this East side. Further detailed lists of dates will be published here once they are set. We will be delighted to see any new working members there on these dates, but please contact our volunteer coordinator Ted Lintott, via e-mail at tedl @ talktalk.net, or by telephone 01444 414413, before you come along so that we can give you precise details of times and location.
Do you know the distinguishing feature of Midland Style hedgelaying? The Shropshire Union Canal Society do...
Montgomery Canal The Societys hedge laying activities on the Montgomery Canal this winter were located on the Crickheath side of Waen Wen Basin at Malt House Bridge. Over four weekends from mid November to early February some 180 metres of hedge received our attention. Volunteers were split between the three main tasks working on the hedge, and the equally important tasks of producing stakes and bindings, and bonfires. The work was done by SUCS members and to general relief the hedge at Waen Wen was in much better condition than that last winter at Dolfor. It did however contain some large trees which required the attention of the chainsaw. The hedge itself was mainly hawthorn and hazel. These are some of the easier types to lay and as a result progress exceeded expectations. This year the hedge was finished in the midland style which includes the distinguishing feature of a hazel binding along its top. We were based in a field adjacent to the old malt house. The latter is now a busy truck depot whose owners permitted us to use their comprehensive multi-purpose welfare facilities. The photographs illustrate not only the before and after but also some of the individual tasks that contribute to successful hedge laying. The results, as can be seen, are most impressive.
View towards Bridge 86
Pictures by SUCS
Shropshire Union Canal Society
The view from Malt House Bridge before hedgelaying (above) and after (below)
Midland style: fixing hazel bindings at the top
A work party uncovers a former coal basin, a new blockage at St Helens, brighter prospects in Widnes, and the curious case of the Unknown Volunteer...
Part Two: News from the Three Boroughs The Canal runs through St Helens, Halton Part One: Stanley Basin work party and Warrington boroughs. Heres a roundup Stanley Basin is located on the Blackbrook of progress in each. Branch of the canal and was a former loading In St. Helens the new Emergency wharf for Pewfall and other Collieries. In Octo- Services Access Bridge is now in place over ber it was the venue for a SCARS work party. the canal. Its a pity it had to cross the canal The plan for the day was to clear away at almost water level when there was ample trees that the rangers were going to cut space to give headroom for navigation. down and place them in the trailer, then to St. Helens Council has approached clear the shrub from the waters edge and to SCARS with the idea of forming a partnertrace the stonewalls and try to work out the ship to develop the under-used Visitor Centre true shape of the basin. Other work included at Blackbrook. trying to locate the walls at the entrance to In Halton borough there are interesting the basin. While we waited for the rangers to plans for the canal in the new Widnes Waterarrive we set to cutting back the underfront Development which include a new swing growth from around the base of the trees to bridge at Carterhouse Bridge; replacing the be cut down. When the trees were cut down wooden bridge on the site of the railway swing and logged into short lengths the volunteers bridge onto Spike Island with a lift bridge; began loading them into the trailer; it took deepening the Wet Dock and reconnecting it to two trips to the tip to clear the site. the River for moorings. It has been stated that With the trees out of the way the stone the canal up to the boundary with Warrington walls were revealed and could be scraped will be restored by 2013. clean and the tops cleared of unwanted In Warrington borough at a recent vegetation. This made a big difference to the meeting with the council it was stated that a area and the shape of this corner of the basin grant was available to do a study of the became visible. We identified the site of the recreational potential of Sankey Valley Park. coal tippler along the higher part of the wall Ideas suggested included re-watering the and noted the marks of small railway sleeper section of canal above Bewsey Lock. chairs in a number of the stone blocks. The At Fidlers Ferry the concrete structure site of the tippler also corresponded to read- on the former site of Marsh Lane swingings taken with dosing rods, which indicated bridge is in need of renewal, but it has been an embankment running north towards the difficult to trace the owner. British Waterways brook and this in turn lined up with the has informed us that since the owner of the inclined plain from Pewfall Colliery. bridge has gone into liquidation the ownership Meanwhile other volunteers were busy has reverted to the crown. So who will fix it? further north on the east bank cutting back Finally a curious story from Winwick: an the shrub, and on the west bank clearing unknown volunteer has been pointing the shrub and looking for the walls around the masonry of the dry-dock without permission entrance to the basin from the main canal. from Warrington Council and although asked At the end of the section of visible east to contact SCARS he has continued to go it wall some digging took place and stone blocks alone. Although he has been doing an excelwere located, these then lined up with three lent job, if he had the misfortune to have an large stone blocks to the north. When the accident he would not be insured, so section in between, which is under water was Warrington have tried to put a stop to his probed, it was found that this wall joined up. activities by putting a ban on the site until It had been an interesting day and a the red liquid that gathers in the bottom of rewarding one too. the dock is analysed to see if it is toxic.
Wooden Canal Boat Society
Its not just about reopening canals: there are historic wooden boats to restore too. And they need your help...
engine needs rebuilding. Consequently tows have had to be arranged for several recycling The boats: Southam had a lot of work done trips. These now operate on the first Sunday of each month and the first Monday evening. during 2008. She was docked and had a plank replaced as well as a lot of strengthenHazel is currently sunk waiting for an ing work. The cabin conversion has been old Coventry Godiva fire pump to be got repainted and fitted with a new floor. Theres working to pump the water out. Were also some mechanical work and basic fitting out hoping that the water will get a bit warmer! to be done before her planned trip to Project planning work is going on ready for the next funding bid to get her restored and Ellesmere Port at Easter. Her long term role is to be as a training boat and to promote the in use providing time on the canals for peosociety around the waterway system. ple recovering from depression and stress related illness. Lilith had her forecabin renovated and fitted out during 2008. An excellent job Elton has always tended to be the done by peripatetic boat fitter Tony Forward. cinderella boat. In recent times shes been full of metals waiting to be sorted and recyAn emergency roof replacement had to be carried out on her back cabin. This will be cled. This has now been done and its possible that she may be the first boat to be completely replaced to a higher standard slipped at the Heritage Boatyard in Stalyafter her next docking when some planks in bridge. The plan will be to do conservation the cabin area will be replaced. work to ensure that she will not deteriorate Forget me Not has been suffering from beyond recall during what may be a long some mechanical problems recently. The wait for full restoration. gearbox has been replaced but now the
Wooden Canal Boat Society
View of the WCBS boats at Portland Basin from the neighbouring flats
Queen is looking a bit sad and full of useful items that need to be used. She will be the next target for tidying up. The new shop is the big story. Its a huge charity shop, originally Woolworths, at 173/175 Stamford St, Ashton under Lyne and it opened on 1st October. Having no other regular source of funds, running this shop successfully is crucial to getting boats restored and back to having a useful life. Consequently, its taken priority. Unlike previous shops, this one is paying a commercial rent, so we cant afford to have days off! So far its been going quite well, but we are desperate for more volunteers to work in the shop and to drive the van collecting and delivering goods. Theres also possibilities of diversifying into running a cafe and collecting textiles for selling on for export. These enterprises are currently awaiting suitable new volunteers. At present the wharf at Portland Basin Museum is closed while the adjoining part of the museum is re-fitted. This re-opens on Easter Monday. By then we need to have the boats looking better and have a lot better information about them on display. After Easter we need more volunteers to show visitors round Forget me Nots back cabin, particularly at weekends. More boat sitters are also needed to stay aboard, introduce visiting boaters to the collection of boats and generally make sure that hooligans dont get to the boats. Anyone who would like to get involved with this crucial but neglected aspect of canal heritage, please get in touch. You can ring 07931 952 037, write to Wooden Canal Boat Society, 173/175 Stamford St, Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire or email firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday recycling trips for the next few months are March 1st, April 5th, May 10th, June 7th. Meet at 9.30 AM, Portland Basin Wharf, Portland St South, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 7SX. Monday recycling trips are on March 2nd, April 6th, May 11th, June 8th. Meet at 6PM at Portland Basin. Chris Leah
Thames & Medway Canal Thames & Medway Canal The Thames & Medway Canal Association has been working at the Higham end of the canal recently, as its more tree-lined and we leave the birds alone to do their own thing in the spring. We are making the canal a lot more visible to the passing public in the vicinity of the obelisk which divides the waters of the Thames from those of the Medway. Much tree and shrub cutting has now taken place, and many more people travelling along the road stop to ask about the obelisk. There are now two working parties, every Tuesday and every third Sunday. The present economic situation makes funding more difficult, but we remain optimistic! In the meanwhile, we are building up a considerable collection of photographs, and are always looking for others to add to the file. For Tuesday working parties ring Brian Macknish on 01732 823725, and for Sundays ring Dave Rouse on 01474 362861. Angela Acott
If your canal restoration project doesnt appear in the Progress section, feel free to send a report in to the editor
Thames & Medway: clearing around the obelisk
...and finally the Wendover Wendover Arm January Working Party Freezing temperatures and the winding hole frozen over. Fortunately, two of our jobs entailed bonfires so some of us had it warm some of the time. At the Thursday work party the wall formwork was moved from the completed third length of the new concrete channel to the fourth length ready for this length and the final base length to be poured, hope fully at the March work party if the track along the dry bed is in a reasonable state. Both the Roger Lewis and Dick Cordell commemorative seats were put in place on their concrete platforms. The seats are identical to the one already installed at Saxonway Bridge by Drayton Beauchamp Parish Meeting and Bucks County Council. They are very comfortable to sit on as well as being very sturdily built. I fear that there will be competition at meal breaks when volunteers are working in the vicinity! The former pumping station site at Whitehouses was given an initial clearance and fenced off from the public, as there are various pitfalls that are a danger to those not familiar with the site. At the tipping site on Herts County Council land at the bottom of the former council tip near Bridge 4A, final clearance of the remaining trees was commenced to enable the site to be levelled off and further tipping continue. Emergency February Working Party: I noticed a fall of spoil onto the protective sheets of plywood that were covering the base formwork for the last base pour of the Stage 1 mooring wall. I used one of the planks from the pipe capping formwork to ensure that towpath users did not accidentally step near the fall. With help, I carried two more planks along to reinforce the one I had already laid but closer inspection from down below showed that the continual frost and thaw was eroding the vertical excavated face behind the mooring wall and had loos-
Wendover Arm Trust manage to rustle up a work party to deal with an emergency at 24 hours notice
ened one of the fence posts which we secured and strutted against the wall. I realised that the excavation, particularly where the fence posts were, required rapid attention in case the frost/thaw conditions caused further erosion. At 24 hours notice, it does our volunteers credit that seven of them joined me on the Saturday morning to timber the face of the excavation with ply sheets, planks and Acrow struts to make the fence posts and the footpath secure. The fall of spoil was also removed, the face timbered and the spoil replaced behind the timbering. Many thanks to those who helped at short notice. Half of the length of the mooring bay has been ready for backfilling for some time now but we have not risked taking plant along the dry bed this winter. It is now a matter of urgency that we backfill this length and concrete the remaining wall and base sections as soon as possible. May Working Party: The final wall section of the Stage 1 mooring wall will be backfilled and the bank leading to the wing walls blended in at each end. It is likely that the surplus concrete already used at the wing walls will be supplemented by hardcore or crushed concrete probably finished off with a weak concrete surface formed to support the Bentomat and block lining to avoid settlement. The offside bank and the 1 in 3 slope below the mooring wall will be graded with the intention of lining this length for the public to see work in progress over the Tring Canal Festival weekend on the late spring Bank Holiday. On Saturday and Sunday we will be joined by KESCRG. They will be given the task of laying the 50 metres long blinding for the Stage 4 mooring bay that is an extension of the Bridge 4 offside wing wall. New volunteers welcome: contact myself on email email@example.com, Tel: 01442 874536 or see webite http:// wendovercanal.org.uk Roger Leishman
Make your money go further
Leader training report We held a successful leaders training day with over 20 people attending - thanks to all who came and participated. Thanks also to Jenny, Mike, Suzie, Ed, James and Harry for their input and last but not least Jude for the yummy lunch and doughnuts. If anyone has any feedback or suggestions (positive or negative, whether you attended or not) then please pass it back to myself, Jenny Black or Mike Palmer. For those who didnt make it here are a couple of the key points: The main focus of the day was health and safety and the associated paperwork. It was nice to hear that WRG does health and safety well and that we have got lots of resources to help: the website (especially the leaders pages), the leaders guidance notes, the health and safety CD, the practical restoration handbook, people. If any leader needs a copy of the leaders guidance notes
Leaders and Gift Aid
please contact Jenny Black. If you have any questions or need any support then the WRG board are there for you. Most health and safety documentation has been done before so refer back to previous examples when youre doing your H&S planning. As with most things a second opinion or review is always a good idea - please ask if you would like someone to review your camp documentation. And yet more paperwork: accounts. We covered quite a lot on accounts and the message is to keep them simple, organised and punctual. For the non-shopping basics put as much info as possible: if you put oil in a van then name the van. Dont leave it all to the last minute on a camp and learn how to put the sum function in the Excel spreadsheet to keep a running balance for you. There are still a few spaces in the camps calendar for leaders, assistants and cooks. If, over the next few months, you feel you can commit to help running a camp then please contact James Butler or Suzie Pounce to discuss. Jenny Black does a sterling job in Head Office so thanks to her for all her hard work please call her if you have any questions at all. Finally next years Leader Training Day is booked - Saturday 6th March, Benson Parish Hall - so put it in your diary. Helen Gardner
If you add a donation to your Navvies subscription, you may be able to make your donation go even further at no extra cost to you! In this edition of Navvies you will have also received an Inland Waterways Association Gift Aid form. WRG, as a subsidiary of IWA, can reclaim tax on your Navvies donations; therefore for every £1 you donate, WRG will be able to claim back an additional 28p! This would increase the value of any donation you make towards our work, by almost a third, at no extra cost to you! Also by making a Gift Aid declaration, you will enable IWA/WRG to reclaim income tax and/ or capital gains tax on all contributions (and any donations) that you have made to WRG since April 2000 and any you make in the future, without the need for you to do anything further. So what do you have to do? Firstly read the leaflet and make sure you are eligible. Then, if you are a taxpayer and would like to claim gift aid on your Navvies donation, complete the declaration section of the form and return it to Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA and leave the rest to us! Alternatively, you can phone Lesley or Tracy on 01494 783 453 ext 600/601 to make a Gift Aid declaration by telephone. Jenny Black
Latest member of the WRG fleet: a new beavertail
Navvies news The Cyril what?
Have you noticed that there doesnt seem to have been much mention of the Wilts & Berks Canal in this issue of Navvies?
Navvies Barn Dance
One of the many meetings Ive attended this year was the IWA Trustee meeting where we decide the recipients of the annual IWA awards. There are two awards that are of particular interest to us - the Cyril Styring Trophy and the Christopher Power Prize. The first is very much the top prize in the IWA (in the words of Alan Jervis its the only one that matters, but he would say that - his name is on it, as is Mr Mac and a few other reprobates). The Christopher Power Prize is more of an annual note of much improved status. Now WRG gets to comment on the CPP but we cant actually nominate things ourselves. So for all of you reading this here is a plea: Please put the date of Jan 31st 2010 in your diary and make sure that before it arrives either you or your group think about if they know any suitable recipients. And then get a nomination into Head Office before Jan 31st. Just to recap the Cyril Styring is To an IWA Member who has made an outstanding contribution to the Associations Campaign (kind of a lifetime achievement award without the need to die first) and the CPP is To the person, Society or Trust who has made the most significant contribution to the restoration of an amenity waterway. We can judge them but only if you nominate them! Mike Palmer
Thanks to all who supported the Barndance this year by drinking or dancing or both. We raised over a grand for KESCRG, London WRG and Newbury Working Party Group. Once again thanks to Jude, Eli and Harry for the shopping, the cooking and counting the money; Nic for the bar; Ed and Suzie for laying out the hall; Jen and Digs for breakfast; all those who helped clear up, washed up, did a stint behind the bar, acquired kitchen equipment etc. A special mention must go to the ladies who utilised extra elbow grease and cleaned the cooker: Amy, Jo and Barbara thank you so much. Weve all agreed that wed like to run it again next year and the hall and band are booked - see you on the 6th March 2010. Thanks Bobby Silverwood Helen Gardner
Unveiling of a plaque to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the Chesterfield Canals engineer John Varley as part of the campaign to complete restoration of the canal.
There will be a report from the BCN Cleanup next time, but thats not the only cleanup: volunteers are seen clearing the Mon & Brec from Torfaen to Pontypooi ready for Five Locks rally on May 3
Wot no camp reports? Sorry for the lack of WRG work party reports - partly because we dont have many camps at this time of year and partly because several weekend digs succumbed to the wintry weather. Hope you like the articles weve managed to fill the mag with, and please keep the reports coming in for next time.
NOTICEBOARD Moving house
Online Navvies subscriptions
Apologies for omitting the following new entry from the Navvies Directory last time: Stover Canal Society: George Whitehead, 26 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth, Devon TQ14 8BU. Tel: 01626 775498 email: Georgewhitehead1@tiscali.co.uk, website: www.stovercanal.co.uk There was also a slight error in Grand Western Canal contact Dennis Dodds address. The postcode should be TA21 0BJ And the entry for Wilts & Berks gives George Eycotts old address. Please use his new one, given under his WRG Directors entry Next full directory in issue 236 Any updates to the editor please
Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit A camps) 07850 422157 (Kit B camps)
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.
Congratulations to Wen and James Carrington on the arrival of Jemima Elizabeth Charlotte Carrington, weighing 9lb, on March 12 and to Leo and Angus Mackenzie on the arrival of Adelaide Sofia Dilworth Mackenzie, weighing 7lb 15oz, on Jan12
Jeremy Frankel has moved to: 1442A Walnut St #428, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA Viv Watson has moved onto a boat but should be contacted c/o her parents at The Bungalow, Rock Lane, Burwardsley, Chester CH3 9PL Please remember to tell Navvies if you move
Many happy returns
Dont 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
to David Mr Mac McCarthy of WRG North West, seen here celebrating his 85th birthday
Thanks... ...to Neil Arlidge for coming to the rescue when the eds computer broke
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jane and John stories Episode 2: John goes scrub bashing
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. 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 doesnt mind what the machine is as long as it has an engine. Not today John says Larry. We are doing scrub bashing, loppers and bowsaws are the order of the day. Oh says John. John looks disappointed. Gardening he continues. John is very sad, see the droopy face. There may be some chainsawing later though continues Larry. Do your have your certificates with you? Oh yes says John. His face brightens up. He gets out his certificate and hands it to Larry. The certificate has been in the bottom of Johns bag for some time. Do you know what papier mache is? John does. Larry looks carefully at the certificate. Thats lucky says Larry it will be too old by next week so you will have to go on another course after that as you will have forgotten everything you know about using a chainsaw in the next couple of days. John looks surprised. This is known as a sore point (see the next Navvies letter page for details). But it will be fine for today continues Larry. Get your kit on and join the wrg forestry team, they are ten minutes walk up the towpath. Jane helps John get into his special chainsaw trousers. Then she helps him get into his special chainsaw boots. Then his special chainsaw jacket, then his special chainsaw gloves. Finally she puts his special shiny chainsaw hard hat on his head. John picks up his chainsaw and sets off up the towpath. After a couple of minutes he sees Mrs. Whittlebottom leaning over her garden fence. Hello Mrs. Whittlebottom says John. Hello John says Mrs. Whittlebottom. I see you are working with your chainsaw, I have a little job that needs doing, could you trim some of the loose branches off the bush in my front garden?. See the danger signs.
John thinks for a minute before replying Sorry Mrs. Whittlebottom, I have to go and help the forestry team. Apart from which it would make the double entendre for this story far too easy... No problem says Mrs. Whittlebottom, I suppose I can just about manage to trim it myself, see you later Bye bye Mrs. Whittlebottom replies John. He carries on walking up the towpath until he meets the forestry team. Today there are two of the team on site, Cliff and Marvin. Cliff is peering into the inner workings of his chainsaw. Hello Cliff says John. Are you having problems with your chainsaw? Yes answers Cliff. it isnt running at all well. John has a look at the chainsaw, I know what the problem is says John. Your saw says Muskivana on the side, if it said Schkil it would all be OK. Cliff sighs and goes back to fixing his saw. Marvin walks across to see what the problem is. Hello John says Marvin Im glad you are here, we can make a start on the work while Cliff fixes his Muskivana saw, again. Marvin and John set to and clear an area for a big hazel tree to drop into, then John starts cutting away at the bottom of the tree. His saw isnt really big enough, so he calls Marvin over to help. Marvin has a bigger saw than John and soon the big tree falls over. Marvin picks up some nuts that fell from the tree. Would you like some John asks Marvin? No thanks replies John Im saving room for lunch At this point Cliff manages to start his saw and walks over to start clearing up the big tree, but then Johns phone rings. It is Jane. Hello John says Jane. Lunch has been called, you had better make your way back up the towpath. Cliff stops his saw again and they all start walking back. On the way they meet Mrs. Whittlebottom leaning over her fence. Hello boys says Mrs. Whittlebottom. What impressive equipment you have, you must spend a long time looking after it all then she looks at Johns hard hat. Oh John she says your hard hat is covered in sawdust, here let me dust it off for you. Mrs. Whittlebottom takes a duster from her pocket and brushes Johns hard hat, then she blows the last of the dust from around the ear pieces. There you go John, you look much more presentable now!. John arrives back at the main worksite. Hello Jane says John. Hello John says Jane. Jane puts down
a fork which she has been using to feed the bonfire, it is still smoking, have you been busy? Oh yes replies John. I had a chat with Mrs. Whittlebottom on the way to site, then I joined the forestry team. We cleared a large area to lay Hazel down in. I tried my best but my bar wasnt long enough, luckily Marvin was a few inches longer than me so soon finished the job. Then Marvin offered me his nuts to chew but I didnt fancy them. On the way back Mrs. Whittlebottom admired my tool before polishing my helmet and giving it a quick blow Jane has turned a funny purple colour. Jane picks the fork back up. It is still smoking. Jane throws the fork at John, Jane is a good shot and knocks Johns hard hat off his head. Jane picks the fork back up. Run John, run...
Dear Deirdre, Ive met a wonderful man who digs with my local group.
Hes perfect in every way and I really think Im falling in love with him. The only problem is, hes converted his Landrover to work on biodiesel and the smells terrible. Im running out of ways to avoid accepting lifts from him and my friends have started asking if Im working in a chip shop. What can I do? - AJM Deirdre writes: this is one to be handled very sensitively as you must never insult a mans motor. You need to approach the problem indirectly fortunately models newer than 2007 cannot be converted to biofuels. Now might be a good time to start praising the smooth handling of the new BMW 3-Series. It might help to mention your ex-boyfriend has just bought one, and possibly that you think you might still have feelings for him.
Dear Deirdre, My husband and I have been digging for decades and our
beautiful daughters about to turn 18. I suggested that for her birthday we buy her waterproof trousers, a warm sleeping bag and a Therm-a-Rest and wish her luck. My husbands horrified by the idea and starting to talk about Swiss finishing schools. Why do you think hes concerned? - TM Deirdre writes: Ah, the first legal dig! A turning point in any girls life. I think your husband may be concerned that all those men in the dorm may keep his little girl up all night. With their snoring, I mean. I think this is one your daughters got to decide for herself. Im sending a useful book for you to give her: Where did I come from? (£6.95 from Hodder Educational Publishing). Best of luck. Have you a question for Deirdre? Write to the editor or email email@example.com
WRGieotypes No 9: The over-excitable dog Lifes brilliant, isnt it? Sticks, sticks are brilliant. Coming on these digs, thats really briOH MY GOD! A SQUIRREL!!! [Moments later] Sorry, got distracted there. Yeah, diggings cool, except when they tell you not to pee against the concrete mix- A STICK!! A STICK!! [Later] Sorry. Where were we? Oh yeah, digging. Diggings brilliant. Especially when theres trees. Trees are brilliant. Sticks theyre brilliant. OH MY GOD!! I SMELL RABBIT!! Scuse me a moment . For a rather more serious discussion of the issue of dogs on site see the letters page
Published on Oct 26, 2010