volunteers restoring waterways
navvies waterway recovery group
Issue No 241 June-July 2010
Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 email@example.com Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ
Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine.
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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.
ISSN: 0953-6655 ÂŠ 2010 WRG
Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, James Butler, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, George Eycott, John Hawkins, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts.
Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for page 2
Contents In this issue... Editor Does BW want volunteers? 4-5 Coming soon training and canal camps 6-8 Camp report Easter at Steppingstones 9-12 Cleanup report from the darkest BCN13-15 WRG at 40 this time Helen interviews Helen Dobbie and Jude Palmer 16-21 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 22-24 Letters sympathy for the Chairman? 25 Survey what’s the best and worst job? 26 Progress restoration roundup 27-32 Plant John and the mixer 33 Training report from the leaders’ day 34 Cavalcade Little Venice report 35 Camp report Cheshire Locks / Burslem 36-39 News do you know a ratchet from a buckle? 40 Noticeboard wanna buy a brushcutter? 41 Infill including Dear Deirdre 42-43 Above Above: KESCRG on the Basingstoke. Left: the Burslem Arm uncovered - see p36-39. Below: boats on the Mon & Brec (where we worked last year) during the Welsh Waterways Festival - report next time. Front cover: NWPG at Eisey Lock. Back cover top left: BCN Cleanup Top right: Burslem Arm Bottom left: Little Venice Bottom right: Cheshire Locks (Tim Lewis)
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 email@example.com. Press date for issue 242: July 1st.
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all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3
In the absence of MKP, it falls to the editor to have a rant about British Waterways...
How many ‘f’s in ‘chairman’s page’?
That’s right: no effin’ chairman’s page of the early ones into the next issue, rather Sorry, but before he sped off in a van heading for a canal camp somewhere, Mike Palmer left this brief note... I am sure that you will be devasted to read that there won’t be much of a Chairman’s bit in this issue. It’s not that I don’t care, nor that there is nothing to say; just that we have all been a bit busy getting things ready for this summer, so no passionate politics, no rambling remembrances and, most importantly, no filling. One reason for us being so busy is changes being made to the Camp kits - a (very) ad-hoc committee have been rethinking what goes in the trailers and vans and we hope we have made some changes that will make life a little easier on any camp you go on. I’m not going to talk about them here, but included in this Navvies will be an insert giving the latest details. I say latest as it is a ‘work in progress’ and we certainly will refine a few things in the light of summers worth of experience. All of which should mean that you should have a great time on what is shaping up to be a cracking summer. See you on a site somewhere. Mike Palmer
Speaking of this summer... This is the last issue of Navvies before the summer Canal Camps season, so it’s time for my usual appeal for Camp Reports for the next couple of issues of the magazine. In the past we’ve had quite a few novelty Camp Reports - in the style of a excerpt from the Bible, a recipe, a lab report from a scientific experiment, in verse and in popular song form - but there’s nothing to stop you from following the majority and writing it in the good old-fashioned straightforward canal camp report format. Whatever you do, please write them and send them in as soon as possible because (a) we’d like to get a few
than try and squeeze them all into issue 243 and (b) because the sooner you write something down, the less likely you are to forget it. And while you’re at it, if you take some decent photos on a canal camp remember to send a few to us at Navvies - you can email them or put them on a CD, or put them on Facebook or Flickr or any other photo sharing site and send us a link. We look forward to hearing from you.
On BW and volunteers “Does British Waterways really want to work alongside volunteers?” asks John Hawkins at the end of his report (see p36-39) from the ‘unofficial’ camp on the Cheshire / Staffordshire border recently. This was a combined working party where our volunteers spent an almost entirely succesful day or so digging up the remains of the buried Burslem Arm in co-operation with the Burslem Port Project and local IWA, and three days or so being to be frank (*) - buggered around by BW on the Cheshire Locks. Kit promised didn’t appear, or was the wrong tool or the job, or didn’t work, or was late, or whatever. Not exactly what you’d expect from an organisation which claims that it sees a greatly increased role for volunteers working with BW as part of its much-vaunted plan to drag itself out of Government control and reinvent itself as a charity or other ‘third sector’ (not for profit / non government) body. Meanwhile on the Grantham Canal we’ve had to cancel two weeks of canal camps, mainly because the local BW wouldn’t or (thanks to directives telling them to cut costs) couldn’t do the necessary planning and other paperwork before the volunteers could start work - and weren’t exactly speedy at breaking the news to us. Does that sound like an organisation which sees greater volunteer involvement as the way forward for the waterways? Last autumn at the BW Annual Meeting we were treated to the unexpected sight of a
(*) albeit not half as frank as the volunteers on site were...
Grantham Canal: are volunteers wanted by trade union picket line outside. What were they protesting about? Jobs on the line and poorer working conditions thanks to Government cuts? No, they were unimpressed by BW’s ‘third sector’ plans for the future. As one of them told me, they’d read that BW’s proposals involved more use of vounteers on the waterways and (in his exact words) “We don’t want volunteers taking our jobs”. That really took me back. I remember the 1980s when volunteer restoration work on BW canals came to a virtual standstill because of opposition from trade unions fearful of us nicking their jobs. Or quite possibly, because the BW management of the time wanted a quiet life without any of these awkward volunteer groups reopening its canals, and telling them “the unions will never stand for it” was an easy way out. Either way, it was bollocks. We had no intention trying to take over any of the canal maintenance tasks that the union members were doing. We were interested in doing work which otherwise wasn’t going to be done by anyone - restoring derelict canals. If anything, we would actually be helping to create more full-time maintenance jobs in the future, when the canals were open. And over the intervening couple of decades both the unions and the management seem to have taken this on board. So when I spoke to the guys on the picket line I thought “Oh good grief, here we go again” and prepared to rehearse the same old arguments. Nine months later I’m not so sure. Up on the Leeds & Liverpool, BW’s just brought in a whole load of overnight lock closures to
save water as the reservoirs are starting to run a little low. But instead of shutting them at 6 or 7pm to begin with, they’ve gone straight for 4.30pm - because to save money, they want to avoid having to pay overtime for somebody to stay late and put the padlocks on. Meanwhile on the BCN I read that a ‘job creation’ type scheme is taking unpaid volunteers off the dole queue and giving them work experience maintaining canals. Just in case the link isn’t obvious, at Plank Lane liftbridge, also on the L&L, BW’s cut the opening hours right down, to save having to pay evening overtime to the bridgekeeper - but says the hours might BW? be extended again if volunteers can be found to fill the gap. Sure, BW wants to work with volunteers - but not our kind of volunteers. A couple of issues back, Mike Palmer’s Chairmans’ Comment made the point that if BW wants its move to the third sector to be the success that it might be, then it needs to actually want to do it for the good of the canals, the waterways heritage, local communities and so on - rather than just to save some money. Well, at the moment I’m not entirely convinced that this is the case. Yes, I know money’s tight. Government department Defra is about to cut BW’s grant yet again, there’s almost certainly more belttightening to follow, and the Treasury still has its greedy eyes on the BW property portolio. We can’t expect free hand-outs from BW left right and centre to help us restore canals. But unless there are a few less BW balls-ups like the ones I mentioned at the start, I have to say that my genuine enthusiasm for BW’s future as a ‘National Trust for the waterways’ will start to wane. So come on BW, pull your finger out. Otherwise if all this guff about volunteer involvement simply means taking unpaid labour off the dole queues so you can sack lock-keepers, while folks with decades of experience as canal restorers get buggered about, then don’t be too surprised if some of us in the volunteer restoration movement start telling you that you can take your third sector plans and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine (*). Because we’d rather stick with the devil we know. Martin Ludgate
(*) that doesn’t mean ‘Droitwich’, by the way
Looking forward to a great summer of canal camps on an excellent range of projects all over the country
Canal Camps 2010 preview
Coming soon: summer Canal Camps 2010 As promised in the last issue, we’ve got a preview of the second half of this summer’s Canal Camps programme, covering the period from the beginning of August onwards. But first, we need to mention a couple of things that are happening before then.
WRG Training Day 3 July In place of our usual training weekend we’re having a training day on 3 July. Another change from what we usually do is that instead of setting up a training site we’re actually working on a real live restoration project: this day marks the handover between the first and second of four weeks of consecutive camps at Gough’s Orchard Lock on the Cotswold Canals. We’ll be concentrating on vans and trailers, scaffolding (we’ll actually be scaffolding out the lock chamber ready for the start of chamber wall rebuilding on the following weeks’ camps) and various jobs to do with brickwork including demolition, preparation and mortar as well as the actual bricklaying - and as with the scaffolding, we’ll actually be doing the training on a genuine working site. As usual Ali Bottomley will be masterminding the event and taking bookings or training sessions - please do contact her in advance (the further in advance, the better) on Tel: 07719 643870 or 0191 422 5469, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canal Camps 2010: June / July update
Before we tell you about the August camps, there are a couple of changes to the first part of the summer programme which we covered in the last Navvies. Starting with a few more leaders who we’ve recruited. Camp 03 on 26 June to 3 July, the first of four camps at Goughs Orchard Lock on the Cotswold Canals, will start of under the leadership of our chairman Mike Palmer - but he will hand over the reins to Jenny Black on the Tuesday. The assistant will be Richard Worthington (aka Richard Cool) and the cook will be Eli Nelson. The same week, up on the Montgomery Camp 04 leader Lou Kellett will be supported by James Butler and Emma Greenall as joint assistants. The third week at Goughs Orchard, Camp 07 on 10 to 17 July, will be led by Helen ‘Bushbaby’ Gardner assisted by Bernd Schimansky with Lizzie Gittoes in charge of food. And now the bad news: unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control the Grantham Canal worksite is no longer available. Apologies to anyone who was hoping to go on Camp 10 (17-24 July): there are still vacancies the same week on Camp 09 at Goughs Orchard where Becky Parr and Nikki Packer will be delighted to lead you (and Chad Reid to feed you). For the second Grantham Canal week (camp 11 on 24-31 July) the leadership team of Ed Walker and Gordon Brown with cook Harri Barnes have shifted the whole camp lock stock and barrel to the Basingstoke Canal. The work is likely to be rebuildEisey Lock - to be rebuilt this summer ing lock wing walls at Deepcut Locks (set in finest rural
Surrey heathland) as part of the Surrey & Hants Canal Society’s major programme of works to put the canal back in good order after a lack of maintenance in recent years.
Canal Camps 2010: August camps preview OK on to the second part of this summer’s programme, which kicks off with Camp 13 at Eisey Lock on the Cotswold Canals on July 31 to August 7. Somehow the leader ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson managed to sneak into the last issue of Navvies so I’ll restrict him to a few words this time: Hopefully the preceding KESCRG camp will have the preparation work completed and the replacement brickwork started, so it’ll be heads down and brickwork up! Absolute bricklaying, mortar mixing, brick shifting and scaffolding under the Cotswold sun with great local support. It never rains in the Water Park but just in case it does, an interesting choice of trips & evening entertainment will be served for everyone’s delectation and delight and we’ll leave the topping out for NWPG on the following week! Have a look at the front cover of this issue to see our friends in NWPG at work on Eisey Lock on a Dig Deep weekend recently: they’ll be leading Camp 17 on 7-14 August at Eisey and hoping to get the second chamber wall pretty much completed by the end of the week. Meanwhile on 31 July 31 to 7 August we’re also running camp 14 on the Chelmer & Blackwater, another waterway which our volunteers are helping to put back in good condition after its previous owners let it get into a bit of a state. The locals in Essex Waterways Ltd (the IWA subsidiary set up to rescue it from the bankrupt former canal company) will no doubt have a range of interesting jobs for us (in recent months we’ve demolished a bridge, installed water supplies, patched holes in the bank and built barbecues!) and Frank Wallder will be our co-ordinator for this camp. Next we head for South Wales and a fortnight on the Mon & Brec, clearing vegetation and repairing stonework on chambers and bywashes on Allt-yr-yn Locks on the Crumlin Arm. Camp 15 on 7-14 August is led by Mike Chase assisted by Ju Davenport, then Sophie Smith with Helena Howarth helping for Camp 18 on 14-21 August. Let’s hear from Sophie... Come along to tranquil South Wales to brush up on your heritage construction skills or help clear some vegetation. Helena and Sophie are aiming to create a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and hope to spend a bit of time exploring the local area - which may include a visit to a lime quarry! Excellent cooking by an experienced cook. Everyone is welcome but
Canal Camps 2010: dates, sites, leaders, cooks appointed to date No 1003 1004 1005 1006 1007 1008 1009 1010 1011 1012 1013 1014 1015 1016 1017 1018 1019 1020 1021 1022
Start Jun 26th Jun 26th Jul 3rd Jul 3rd Jul 10th Jul 10th Jul 17th Jul 17th Jul 24th Jul 24th Jul 31st Jul 31st Aug 7th Aug 7th Aug 7th Aug 14th Aug 14th Aug 21st Oct 23rd Oct 23rd
End Jul 3rd Jul 3rd Jul 10th Jul 10th Jul 17th Jul 17th Jul 24th Jul 24th Jul 31st Jul 31st Aug 7th Aug 7th Aug 14th Aug 14th Aug 14th Aug 21st Aug 21st Sep 4th Oct 30th Oct 30th
Site Kit Leader Assistant Cook Cotswold: Goughs A Mike P / Jenny B Richard Worthington Eli Nelson Montgomery B Lou Kellett James Butler / Emma Greenall Cotswold: Goughs A Martyn Worsley Clive Knight Tania Connolly Montgomery B Steve Harmes Chris Colbourne Cotswold: Goughs A Helen Gardner Bernd Schimansky Chesterfield B Mike Chase Cameron Abercrombie Cotswold: Goughs A Becky Parr Nikki Packer Chad Reid Grantham cancelled Cotswold: Eisey A KESCRG leaders moved to Basingstoke B Ed Walker Gordon Brown Harri Barnes Cotswold: Eisey A Martin Thompson George Rogers Mandy Morley Chelmer & Blackwater B Mon & Brec A Mike Chase Ju Davenport Basingstoke cancelled Cotswold: Eisey NWPG leaders Mon & Brec A Sophie Smith Helena Howarth Basingstoke B Fred Towey Lorraine Hughes National A+BMitch Gozna Kirsty Wallace Grand Western A Mark Richardson Kirsty Wallace Mitch Gozna Chelmer & Blackwater B Rob Daffern
we especially welcome van drivers on this camp and our ‘MUP’ (Most Useful Person) is still to be confirmed, so if you think that might be you, feel free to sign up! Unfortunately Camp 16, scheduled for 7-14 August on the Basingstoke Canal, won’t now be happening, but not only have we moved Ed and Gordon’s 24-31 July camp there to make up for this (see previous page), we’ve also got Fred Towey and Lorraine Hughes leading Camp 19 there the following week, 14-21 August. Finally, as ever, the summer canal camps programme ends with us helping to provide site services for the Inland Waterways Association’s National Waterways Festival, which this year returns to the Thames at Beale Park. Over to leaders Mitch Gosna and Kirsty Wallace... Unsure about what to do for a summer holiday this year? Worried that the volcano might scupper your plans for going abroad - or that BA might strike? Why not give the National Festival and Boat Show a go? The weather men are telling us we are in for an Indian summer, we’ve yet to see it, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to have another hot sunny Festival for our return to the Thames in August? Beale Park near Pangbourne is welcoming us back for the 3rd time, this is a lovely site right on the riverside and Kirsty and I would like to invite you all along for a great couple of weeks helping to set up and run this show. It is also WRG’s 40th Birthday this year and plans are afoot to celebrate at the start of the camp. There will be the usual jobs of fencing, “A lovely site on the riverside” - Beale Park water pipes, craning, litter picking, pontoon building, car parking, assisting traders, and did we mention fencing?!! Along with a multitude of other jobs to get the Festival up and running. This year’s attractions over the Festival weekend are also exciting, with water zorbing on the lake. (Imagine being a hamster in a ball on the water!) There will also be a mock battle on the water with boats being blown up and sinking!! Boats that look like they drive themselves, very James Bond; the Newfoundland Rescue Dogs, fancy being rescued?! There will be kayaking on the lake, boat trips, steam engines and historic cars. There will also be the usual real ale bars for those who wish to partake. Bookings are currently being taken by Jen at Head Office, but we still need more people, so to all the regulars who usually attend and haven’t booked on yet please do so, and we’d like to say a big welcome to any newcomers thinking of coming along for the first time. In addition to the usual jobs, we are also asking for volunteers to help out with some fencing over the weekend of the 14th/15th August, this will to be taking out a line of fencing which crosses the site, camping will be available for this weekend, and I’m sure there will be BBQ and beer on offer too for anyone who can make it. We are also looking for a cook for the camp; this is an important job, probably the most important person on site. Previous experience of cooking on a camp is desirable but not necessary as help will be at hand. This is an urgent role to fill, so anyone with any experience of cooking who would like to give it a go please let us know. Lastly another role is that of Admin corner, this is the role that I have done for the last 2 years, and involves booking people in, taking money for food, liaising with the cook on numbers, and keeping a list of volunteers on site, amongst other things. If you think you could fill any of these roles then please let Kirsty or myself know. Accommodation for the Festival will be the usual marquee, however there is some room for tents, caravans or vans, space is limited so please when you book in tell Jen if you are thinking of camping out so we can add you to the list we have. Please don’t just turn up on the day assuming there will be space as the chances are there won’t be, so please book your space early! We look forward to seeing you in August for a fun couple of weeks. Big hugs! Mitch 07768525469 or email@example.com Kirsty 07790740925 or firstname.lastname@example.org
‘RAF Martin’ reports from the last ever Wilts & Berks Steppingstone Lane Bridge Easter Canal Camp... again... The Final “One more Steppingstone Lane Bridge Easter Camp will do it” Honest!
Wilts & Berks Canal the roving reporter duly called, Monday morning appointment on site, assuming the world hadn’t ended, or Cambridge hadn’t taken over Oxford or the missing cat had been found! No really, it was a local interest item of the dedication and skill of volunteers working tirelessly to enrich amenities for the residents of Oxfordshire and beyond, a tea time show winner. Saturday: the best laid plans of mice and Bungle: ‘the van keys are with Vodaphone security’, a bemused security guard later and no keys, a ‘wakey wakey’ call ensues, Bungle arrives with keys, and we were off and running! Home for the next ten days was Watchfield village hall, (a little disappointing, this) along with a number of local groups at various times of the week. At least the hall has a lot going for it in the quality of accommodation and close proximity to site. With the 2nd WRG van en route from the north west, young James (aka James I) being the first arrival by train had to endure not only
All photos by John Hawkins
How many times do you spend on the weeks up to and after a bank holiday, vacation or a camp in the height of a drought or the warmest temperatures ever recorded and then when it’s time to play, you get the wettest and coldest daytime figures every recorded in living memory? The last ‘one more camp will do it’ Steppingstone Lane Bridge Easter camp was a case in point. There is no high enough praiseworthy verbiage that can compliment the valiant group of Navvies who withstood all that nature could throw at them with an esprit des corps, humour and a work ethic second to none; as the leader and ‘token local’ I thank you all. Thursday morning before start of camp, text message from the WRG ‘Controller’: “You’re going on the radio, they’ll be in touch soon”. So with the office door closed and ‘In-conference’ notice up I mocked up some cue cards from a hastily emailed HQ press release and some Wilts & Berks Canal Trust literature, conducted the interview over the phone, mentioned the salient points, and voila: a five minute piece on the tea-time show on Radio Swindon 105.5. My boss texted me: he’d heard the piece, and “no wonder I couldn’t get hold of you earlier”! Friday before camp, text message from the WRG ‘Controller’: “You’re going on TV; BBC Oxford will be in touch soon”! Wiped brow as I’d kept the cue cards,
Kerb-laying in progress
Camp report Wilts & Berks
“James the First and Isobel pollarded willows and cleared scrub with ruthless efficiency” where was Ruth, then?
me but the enclave of Swindon Station for a scaffold pole was removed from the west couple of hours while we gathered up the side, it was determined by our budding fellow train and coach travellers. The latter, Cambridge Uni CE undergrad that we were 4 Derek and Maggie from Kent, SSLB stalwarts, courses short on the parapet brickwork. A had a terminal car failure the previous week polite reminder that we had already placed and ‘phoned on Friday to say they had no 300mm of concrete over the arch from which transport so were having to abort attending he was levelling off, not the actual crown of the camp. A much excited ‘phone call later the brick arch where the plan section dimenfrom Derek confirmed they had secured sion was measured from! Panic over. passage on National Express and would be My able assistant Mr. Chase kept an eye attending, albeit with a much reduced bagon the PFA (Pulverised Fly Ash) levelling gage and alcohol allowance! Meanwhile crew and the keen bunch of willow back to the ranch, my ‘WRG hero and grade pollarders. By close of play the scaffold on A* MUP’ (Most Useful Person) John Hawkins both sides was down; the speed & efficiency had everything under control along with 1st of Steve, Michelle, Michael and the crew in time camp cook, Debbie Curtis. After a achieving all of this was awesome. James traditional site visit, with “this is a nice green the 1st and Isobel pollarded willows and byway and a dry site”, all returned for a cleared scrub with ruthless efficiency, worksubstantial 1st evening meal and the timeing levels were established, and PFA levelled, honoured introductions & pleasantries. The the back list of work to do was being sought Eagle hostelry welcomed a quorum of the just as the rain came. group while others chilled to jigsaws and Bungle & Mel delivered ‘Blue’ (the excabackgammon. vator) late afternoon and we had the tools Sunday, the sun shone; well it had to once, getting out of the way for the rest of the time! An early start was in order as the resident church group was expected just after 0900, so site set up was established, and work groups were tasked with newly crowned MUPs in charge. The Hawk master led a group to remove the scaffolding from both sides of the bridge. George, Rob and the surveying group set up the site level and tried to establish some order for the kerb laying and road surface levels. Mild The PVA levelling crew at work panic: just as the last
ready for the 40 tonnes of road planings anticipated for delivery later in the week. Alas the dumper had a puncture, and no correct socket to be found. Bungle’s opportunity to utilize the tyre-removal-from-rim device formally known as the beavertail (a story for another day!) passed by and it had to be left for the professionals on Monday! Approx 45 kerb stones donated by Volker Fitzpatrick at RAF Fairford were transferred to site; all in all a hugely successful day. Monday: much over“No stump left behind” became the war-cry... night rain, soggy start, TV crew due on site 1000. At 0930 methinks not good to film today, post- Kimm, stalwarts in trying to locally dredge the canal as they removed the stumps from a pone until better weather. 0931, BBC called “be there in 5”, too late to change! Hurriedly, mass of silt and reeds. Mike and the kerb crew worked wonders on the kerb-laying IWA/WRG banner erected on Herras fence front. panel in strategic location to be included in Wednesday: the rain came, and while bridge wide view shot and backdrop for some chilled, others visited the railway muinterviews. Reporter and a camera duly seum in Swindon. Scaffold was moved by arrived. Good to see the licence money is being well spent, so much so that he had no plant trailer to Seven Locks some 35 minutes wellies, but still the hardy walking shoes and away. The leader returned rather gingerly the rolled up trousers cut a rather interesting during the afternoon, just in time for dinner and to escort a van load of gamblers to the contrast to the appropriately attired navvies local greyhound track where ‘Lucky’ Kimm at work. Network Rail must have a sixth lined his pockets with loads of money from sense of filming going on as there were the Tote; others managed to break even and more trains passing by on the mainline than I can ever recall, “let’s run through that again return with all shirts intact! Thursday: the fun started with 40 without the train noise” became a common tonnes of asphalt planings delivered half a theme! Add to that the noisy navvies at tea mile away so the not-so-green byway unforbreak, and it meant that filming took up tunately became in places a mini Somme most of the morning. A bemused Steve (but without the dangers of high exploprovided the dunking of the suction hose in sives!) The vintage dumper plied its trade the canal under the bridge for some real with the Hawk in control and “Johnny no background restoration noise and visual mates” leader was left to be the lonely loader effects! Meanwhile the real works continued with ‘Blue’ at the end of the track. The bonwith great abandon as if this was really the fire babes Jenny and Maggie started to dis‘one last camp will do it’! pose of the mountain of willow and debris Tuesday saw the camp in the safe hands of Mike Chase and John Hawkins while accumulated in the bank clearance. Mandy, the leader was away for a (non-work related) James II and Stephannie joined us and eye-watering appointment at the Royal Berks seamlessly slotted into the work parties toiling in what would best be described as Hospital Reading. The kerb-laying gang uncomfortable conditions, but stoically started laying the kerbs over the bridge. smiled and got stuck in. Frank ensured that Scaffolding was loaded onto the dumper for everyone was doing what they should be transfer the half mile to the top of the lane. Tirforing of the willow stumps continued at a doing. In the evening, mob handed, we descended on the local pub quiz and propace with Alex, Rob, John, Derek, and
Camp report Wilts & Berks
“Mandy, James II and Stephanie seamlessly slotted into the work parties, toiling in what can only be described as uncomfortable conditions...”
ceeded to sweep away the local opposition fold was spirited away to Seven Locks for and win the 1st place spoils of a bottle of sorting out into the respective loaners’ piles wine. Still, it’s the winning that counts! from whence it had been borrowed. ‘Blue’ Friday: more of the same on site, was collected by Bungle & Mel and went weather cloudy and wet, track getting more south west to the Wootton Bassett site. Tools like a paddy field with two ruts, and a visit and site kit were returned to Watchfield VH from Rachael Banyard to complete Mike’s where ‘top soiling’ the car park was almost small excavator training and sign off his achieved as everyone scrubbed, sponged and operator authorization. The 1:12 slope to rinsed the kit and vans of SSLB gunge. The meet the “disabled” access requirement was most excellent odours of the mega last night taking shape on the south side. The bridge roast dinner prepared by Debbie weren’t looked a picture of beauty from the eastern sufficient to delay the departure of some footpath approaches as the willow and debris members avoiding the potential Bank Holiday were cleared. Derek took over the construc- traffic challenges, which meant a gutbusting tion of the mini-retaining walls for the arch surplus of fine food for the remaining team drainage discharge points. The bonfire babes players. Rob B was in his element! kept the home fire burning! Many thanks to Mike Chase, my able Saturday: the clearing up shower assistant, Debbie Curtis for being a most exceldidn’t, well not until late in the day. The lent cook and John Hawkins as my main MUP. final dregs of the planings were transferred “One more camp nearly did it”. Dogged by to site. The home fire kept on burning, rain and atrocious site conditions I can only scavenging site for combustibles became an reiterate “I thank you”, to all those brilliant obsessive compulsive behavior for the ‘pyro Camp 201002 folks who can proudly say “We people’. Amazing features of human endurhelped re-build Steppingstone Lane bridge” ance were experienced by the Tirfor team as Martin Thompson they prepared and moved the willow stumps et al along the bank to ‘pyro point’ .”No stump left behind” became the war cry with Alex & Jenny leading the way! Easter Sunday: the sun shone, cream eggs were shared out, WRG forestry rep Martyn Worsley together with Frank and Kimm departed for Pocket Park to heavily pollard a willow or two that the Xmas camp had been unable to attempt. At the bridge, the tidying up of the site began, and the The (almost) completed bridge remainder of the scaf-
“With the cry ‘Sling your hooks!’ we slung our grappling hooks into the water” A Goon Treasure Hunt on the BCN
Cleanup report ...from the BCN With the cry ‘Sling your Hooks’, we threw our grappling hooks into the water. Young Welsh Owen was the first person in our group to pull out a bike and then a shopping trolley. After several hours in which some of us got dirty (Ju?) while some of us felt like slinging our hooks into a local hostelry, we arrived back at the Ocker Hill centre for lunch. We met the other group lazing in
I am Spud Canal-Goon and I have heard through whispers that some treasure could be found in the area of Walsall on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. My associate Grip Wheel-Tight advised me to search the web for the information and after several encounters with black widows and tarantulas, I realised that the web I needed was the computer type. So after parting with my money for the adventure, I was instructed to meet my transport at Waterloo Station at 7.00pm on Friday. I met three other treasure seekers and we departed in our red van transport for Birmingham. Our accommodation was a school youth centre and we joined many other treasure hunters although comments like “What pub in on your right Tit” from Aileen to Mike did raise a few eyebrows. I retired to bed to prepare to find my fortune tomorrow. Saturday: After a hearty breakfast cooked by Cooks Mike Chase & Vulcan Dave, we departed to the Ocker Hill Centre for our equipment and briefing. Two groups formed and were led by experienced personnel to ensure our safety. One group was led by Tim ‘Where’s my phone?’ Lewis, while the other was led by Moose ‘I’m going to rip your nuts off’ Hearnden. I was in the Moose mob and arrived at a bridge hole First of many: a trolley is recovered from Ryders Green bottom lock on the canal.
“Kirsty’s response that ‘they are just two growths’ seemed to satisfy them”
...from the BCN the sun as the food had been delayed. In conversation, I found out that one of the other group’s party had been presented a medal by royalty. Could this treasure hunt be my way to fame? No more comedy shaving routine. I vowed to find treasure for queen & country. After lunch Moose’s mob departed to a new section to search for more treasures. More items were retrieved usually preceded by a familiar call from Tracy ‘I’ve hooked something’ Howarth. This generally meant that the rest of the team having to hook the object as well to assist in its re-
moval. Objects included motorbikes, safes and also three lorry tyres which were tied together. Two local oiks appeared and they displayed Bluebottle / Eccles levels of intelligence when they asked Kirsty if she was a female. Her response that “they are just two growths” seem to satisfy them. Our two locals continued to monitor our activities for the rest of the afternoon while we extracted more tyres, bikes, scooters and cables and other rubbish. When the barge appeared to take all the equipment they went off to follow it back up the canal.
Is Is this this why why it’s it’s called called aa clean-up? clean-up?
On On yer yer bike! bike! Tie Tie me me kangaroo kangaroo down, down, sport! sport!
A A boat, boat, in in the the BCN? BCN? You’re You’re kidding! kidding!
Everything Everything including including the the kitchen sink! kitchen sink!
Tyring Tyring work... work...
Hang Hang about! about! If I wanted If I wanted to to pull pull aa grappling grappling hook hook out, out, surely surely II should should have have thrown thrown aa trolley trolley in... in...
Our group finished at Barnes Bridge and a call was put out to collect us. Although the vans collected us, I heard that a Madrid taxi driver over here during the ‘no fly’ period was seen looking for some fares from WRGies along the Thames at Barnes Bridge Putney. After a hearty evening meal and tales of similar discoveries from the other group, including Martin catching a rat, the evening activities commenced. These included Lego car building which was won by Tracy (with spare tyre jokes flying around the room). While some stayed up late building more vehicles, most retired to bed exhausted. Sunday morning arrived to the smell of breakfast which was consumed with gusto. The two groups departed to new locations on the Walsall canal with one or two absentees. Our group started besides a temple and the eastern music emitted from within reminded me of my old commanding officer Major Bloodnok. Although no screens could be found this early, the area produced two mattresses hooked by Josie. This required Gary ‘who needs help?’ Summers to organise the mass pull out from the canal. After an hour the barge arrived and the two Welsh youngsters departed to assist the crew. The rest continued until lunch after extracting more bikes, scooter cables & tyres as well as the back of a container lorry. After lunch both teams returned to the James Bridge Aqueduct for a final push to find our treasure. Early results were a motor bike and then 5 lorry tyres which could go with the container parts
(only 13 more to find for the complete set). At the next major bridge hole large amounts of cable and its covering were extracted along with other metallic objects including oil drums both complete and partial. The time had come for us to stop slinging our hooks although some people continued looking for that last tyre. We returned our equipment to Ocker hill and although we never found a Millie Bannister, Tracy can claim to have hooked a steel ladder. My lack of treasure means more comic shaving routines but I hear that we will be searching for spaghetti next year. Watch out Richard Dimbley. I left in our red van transport and had a dream of two oiks standing by a canal with a motorbike. Eccles: Let’s throw this in the canal BlueBottle: It’s fallen in the water Oh well, the first object out next year... Paul Ireson Editor’s note (1) to those who don’t understand the various Goon Show references, if you’re aged over 30 ask your parents, and if you’re aged under 30 ask your grandparents, and don’t be surprised if you still don’t understand the references even after they’ve been explained to you. The Goon Show was like that. Editor’s note (2) in case you were wondering why we’ll be searching or spaghetti, next year’s Cleanup is likely to see us clearing the canals under and around ‘Spaghetti Junction’.
WRG at 40
Continuing our series of interviews with those involved in WRG over the last four decades, Helen Gardner talks to a couple of Essex girls...
Forty views for forty years
40 Views for 40 Years The third in a series of articles to celebrate WRG’s 40th birthday by capturing the views of various people who have been involved in various capacities. Helen Dobbie - London WRG regular, donner of fancy dress, boater - how did she get involved with us?
Q: How did you first get involved with canal restoration in the first place? A: At Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade, I used to have a little cabin cruiser called Sparkle and I took that down to Little Venice with my husband of the time. There was one pub that everyone used, I think it was the Bridge House, and we’d gone there for a drink and it was absolutely packed. We’d sat down at this table and there were about 2 spaces opposite us, well about 8 people tried to get into these 2 spaces and as they were almost sitting in our laps we kind of got talking to them. They were actually KESCRG who used to do site and services for Little Venice and they said ‘come and give us a hand tomorrow selling chocolate teddy bears and programmes – we also do canal restoration. Come and help us tomorrow and we’ll tell you a bit more about canal restoration’. So I went and helped them and a couple of weeks later I was doing some canal restoration – it must have been the Wilts and Berks because Peter Smith was there. He said ‘we’re going to go and look for a lock’. I thought – a lock – a big black and white thing you can’t miss it. He said ‘ooh – there’s a dip in the ground there – if we dig there I think we’re going to find it’. And we did dig down and we found the wooden bits and a bit of the lock gate. It was like ‘ah – when they say canal restoration...’
Q: What year was this? A: I think it was ’89. I did my first National Festival at Waltham Abbey. In fact I can remember Mike Palmer going round in a miniskirt – the programme sellers were wearing miniskirts and sashes – and Mike and one of the other guys – it may have been Tom – decided to do programme selling as well.
Q: What got you started with canals in the first place? A: I went on a boating holiday as a teenager. We quite often used to go on holidays with one of my mum’s friends (her two boys were a similar age to my brother and I) and we’d done the cottage thing with them. I would come back from on holiday and go on to Norwich and went ‘can we have a boat mum?’ So she’d spoken to her friend and said possibly not the Broads but what about the canal system? I think it was the Four Counties Ring. So we did this canal holiday and it was ‘ooh – can we do this again?’. So I kind of got a bit smitten as a teenager.
Q: What made you come back after the Wilts and Berks dig – why do you keep doing it – because you’re still active now?
A: I like doing outdoor stuff, I like learning new skills, there’s also an amazing bunch of people. You meet old friends, you make new ones, all weird and wonderful but a great bunch of people. It’s also good to know that you’re putting something back into the canal system. Some of them I don’t think I’ll see re-opened but some of them certainly – we have had re-openings.
Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who did you learn it from? A: I can make a lot of mortar. I do a lot with London WRG now and they do a lot of bricklaying. I
haven’t got very big hands so I find it quite difficult to span a brick. If I can’t do the bricklaying then I thought I ought to learn to do something else useful.
Q: When did your involvement with London WRG start? A: Probably about 10 or 11 years ago. As different things have happened in my life I’ve kind of done a bit with WRG, then maybe I’ve had to drop out because things are happening and then I’ve gone back. I started with KESCRG, did a bit with BITM, done lots with London, I’ve even done a little bit with Essex. Q: What would you say WRG was good at? A: It says it’s a co-ordinating body and it’s about organising people, projects and equipment. I’ve never been involved with any of the organisation but you do appreciate that it’s not just about turning up and “I can make a lot of mortar” - Helen at Droitwich doing the work - there is a lot of hiring of equipment, getting the accommodation. They are a co-ordinating body for voluntary work on the canal system.
Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: I suppose Over Basin on the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire. I got a bit fed up with the travelling ([whispers] – it’s a long way from Essex) but I did do a bit there and I did go to the re-opening which was quite amazing to see what had been done. To see that transformed and they’d had a lot of really big plant there and I know a lot of people did put in a lot of work. That was quite an achievement. It has lots of little achievements as well doesn’t it? You go back – I’ve been doing quite a lot of stuff on the Chelmer and because I go back there quite a bit you’ll think ‘oh that’s the bank that I did the bank protection on’and it’s now got the grass growing on. You can go back and see lots of little achievements as well as the really big stuff.
Q: What would you say WRG was not so good at? A: Sometimes it’s the getting going first thing [on a weekend]. By Saturday afternoon you’ve got your head around what you’re doing but by the time you’ve got there, got all the kit out and had a look at the site... you sometimes think ‘could we be more organised?’ If you’re doing a weekend then you can only do so much.
Q: Tell us about your nickname? A: There’s a couple of other Helens in WRG – there’s also Helen Davey – it’s quite unusual. The ‘purple fairy’ nick name – London WRG and KESCRG, on the 1st weekend in December they have a joint preChristmas dig and in the evening there’s a wonderful dinner and there’s also a fancy dress theme. This theme was fairy tales and I normally like to try and do something but always run out of time. I actually bought the outfit the day before and it was only because I’d been to a meeting and I’d had to go somewhere else and walk through town. I really like the purplies/bluesies/turquoisesies colours and there was this amazing purple fairy outfit. I thought I could wear that to the fancy dress and for some reason the name’s stuck ever since.
Q: What other outfits have you donned? A: One of them was French so you I the short skirt and stripy top and the stockings – a couple of the men did the same as well! Last year I was Rosie and Jim with Martin Ludgate, but we put an interesting little twist on it in that I was Jim and Martin was Rosie. But we did actually win with our interesting little twist.
Q: Has your involvement mainly been on weekend digs or have you done canal camps as well? A: The only canal camps I’ve ever done have been the National and they’re a wonderfully sociable event. We do work hard, I now do the Lavender Boat so I do see a little bit of the organisation of it. There’s lots of other jobs with litter picking, car parking, all the tasks you get at a National - it’s not particularly about restoration so it’s very different to the normal week-long camps.
Q: Which sites have you been to? A: Some of the sites I remember – it’s the muddiest ones you remember. I’ve worked on a lot of different
canals: Wilts and Berks, Basingstoke, Montgomery, good old fishing in the BCN with a grappling hook. I know I’ve been all over. When you don’t drive there - quite often I’ll try and get a lift with somebody – you really don’t know which canal you’re going to - you just get to the point where you’re being picked up. More recently I’ve done quite a bit at Foxton because my boat has been moored at Foxton and it meant I could sleep on my boat. Essex have done quite a lot at Foxton. And also quite a lot at Chelmer – it’s the most local canal to where I dig. I want to support it because it is local and it was threatened with closure. It’s the only canal that the IWA oversee – well, a subsidiary company of the IWA.
Q: What’s your favourite derelict canal? A: I really do like the Chelmer having only discovered it in the last five years. Though you can’t really call it derelict!
Q: Do you continue to go to the Little Venice Festival to do the site and services?
A: I think I’ve been back every year for a few years and I help with getting all the boats into the mooring on the Friday night - it’s good fun. I can remember one year it was absolutely tipping it down and everyone was getting a bit irate ‘I want my boat Favourite: Chelmer & Blackwater at Heybridge moored now so I can get in the warm’ and you think ‘once I’ve moored your boat I’ve got another 50 to do and it’s going to be about 2 hours before I get into the warm’. I think only one person offered me a hot drink. So yes I go back and I’m taking my boat this year.
Q: So what is it about Little Venice? A: I think it’s just a wonderful spectacle of colour – it is a big social event. It obviously promotes the canals in London and you get a lot of boaters there but you also get local people wandering through.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: People who come in and do the job and you see people of all shapes and sizes. I did one of the Saul Camps – they had a festival there – and there were two Spanish girls. Quite how they’d come over to do a camp I don’t know and one of them was tiny, but she was still getting in and doing as much as she could. Alison [Smedley] and her very well deserved MBE. Her organisational skills are amazing, she does so many different things. You just meet a lot of different people at lots of different levels. Some of the people you watch have amazing problem solving skills. I remember there was a big coping stone, I looked at it and thought that’s going to be a real moving and handling nightmare – they’re never going to move that. They literally got a car jack, jacked one end up and propped it, jack out and jacked the other end up. Lots of people for doing lots of different things.
Q: Do you have any classic ‘do you remember the time’ stories? A: I remember Jude trying to do ballerina stuff on one of the bars at that same National [Waltham Abbey 89]. The bar was empty other than us. One of the other good things about WRG is the weddings and the get-togethers and the second generation WRGies.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: Hopefully carrying on doing what it’s doing, opening more canals, raising the awareness, protecting the lines. BW are saying they want to work with volunteers more. There’s more health and safety paperwork – hopefully it’s making things safer for people. What we’re doing now and a bit more. And now from one Essex Girl to another: Jude Palmer (née Moore). Married to the chairman – what did she do to deserve that? Jude fills us in on some of the details:
Q: How did you get involved with WRG? A: I actually started on a camp with KESCRG in the August of 1989 at Waltham Abbey, the National Festival, but I’d been doing IWA stuff at festivals and sponsored walks and meetings and all that kind of thing since I was tall enough to see over the top of the sales table. My Dad was heavily involved with the IWA so the year I was born I became an IWA member and obviously once I was old enough I was working on the
IWA stand. The seminal moment was when my swing got nicked and turned into the Chelmsford Branch IWA stand, so ’cos I had no swing to play on I had to go and help on the stand at the weekends. So once I actually got to 17 and it just turned out that the National was relatively local to home, my Dad suggested that I might like to go and try doing the volunteer stuff. He knew Ken Parish really well and he had done a lot of work on the Wey & Arun himself as a volunteer. He said “why don’t you go along and do it? That way it’s only half an hour away and if you hate it it’s no problem to come back.” So I turned up on the Sunday, I had a Saturday job at that point, and I actually quite enjoyed it. On the middle Saturday of the National I had to go home because I had my Saturday job. So I went back, did my Saturday job, handed in my notice ’cos I actually really enjoyed the canal stuff, went back, did another week on the camp, went back and did my last Saturday. The next Saturday I was working on the Weston Arm of the Montgomery Canal. I dug really with KESCRG for the first quite a few years. The first year I was still back home in Essex and I used to get the train over to Tilbury Ferry, get a ferry over to Kent and then ‘Gremlin’ used to pick me up and give me a lift to wherever to go canal digging. It really just went from there. When I joined, the Mont was really busy because we were doing Aston flight and then the nature reserve, so I spent a lot of time up on the Mont which meant I did a lot more WRG stuff as well.
Q: Why did you keep coming back? A: When you grow up in Essex with a set of parents who take you canal boating you’re immediately not the same as everybody else. Growing up in Essex in the ’80s it was very much about appearance, what you wore, it was very much about clubbing. They’re just all things which didn’t do very much for me. So when I actually went along on the canal dig, I found a bunch of people I had much more in common with; people you could have a really good laugh with, that was one of the main things, and also get a dry sense of humour which was very good. I loved the fact I could sit in the pub and have a natter with Roger [Burchett] who is effectively the same age as my father, but as a friend, and it was perfectly normal. And I liked the fact it was a bunch of people who like going to the pub, no music, sitting, nattering and drinking beer rather than going somewhere late at night, dark, where you had to shout for hours and drink horrible stuff. It was the social thing I’d been looking for but hadn’t been able to find.
Q: You led canal camps as well? A: I did yes. I’d probably been digging for about a year when I did my first camp. The first camp I was supposed to do was some festival up in Sheffield? I couldn’t because I ended up having to go on a archaeology dig because I did actually have to do some work for my degree. After that I did quite a lot of camps on the Mont. I was really lucky, because it was in ‘those days’, one of the last to get a grant, I wasn’t having to work all the time to pay for university. Most of my summers I spent doing camps. The other thing I do have to be honest about: part of the reason I came back was – and it all sounds horrible and schmaltzy – but I did meet Mike in that field in Waltham Abbey. I decided then that we were going to get married – he didn’t obviously know that at the time – and it turned out all right in the end.
Q: What have you been most proud of about your involvement? A: Dig ’95 was obviously quite good fun. From a view point of what you’re proud of: we had some really tricky landowners along the line of the canal and they really did turn around and let us work on it on the Sunday (having said ‘no’ for months and months) having seen what we achieved on the Saturday. There was the Big Dig in ’91, which was WRG’s 21st birthday. So 4 years later when it was the 25th we decided to do something similar. We worked on the Cotswolds Canal (at that point they were just starting really to get organised and it was a huge push). There was a lot of work around securing a continuous walking route along the whole line of the canal. Instead of staying in schools spread along the line of the canal (like we did in ’91) the Cotswold Canals Trust, who were just absolutely brilliant, turned this completely decrepit ex-RAF base into somewhere for everybody to stay. We had such a scream getting it all set up and planned. There was this guy called Chris (I can’t remember Chris’ surname) who their main leader on site, brilliant project manager, thought of everything; I can remember him walking in about 2 hours after we’d formally been on site and he had this fantastic folder that everything in it and he just chucked it up in the air and said “OK, I give in, WRG chaos theory will now rule”. I think it was about 750 of us there. It was freezing cold, absolutely freezing cold.
Memories from there were things like the two enormous articulated wagons, we had two curtain sided trailers to be the stages in the hangar we were using for the ents. I remember standing by them at the gate and thinking “they’re enormous” – I walked round to join them in the hangar and when I walked through the doors of the hangar I actually had to look to see where they were. Also Steve, who’d taken some of the sandwiches out getting so lost and when he finally arrived at the lunch point he was practically killed. Oh and Tom Jeffries managing to sleep through 749 other people getting up and going to breakfast so he had to sit there on his own in the middle of this hangar. Other things that we’re proud of: I think things like the move forwards that we’ve done on things like the training days - I think that’s great - and the leader training stuff that we do. If I think back now to what it was like to run a camp in the early ’90s, it’s not that we were any more dangerous, but I think there was a lot less pressure on actually running a camp. Once you’re there it’s great regardless but I think now there’s probably more of a nervousness and the amount of stuff you’ve got to do. What we can do when we apply ourselves – things like some of the fundraising we’ve done when we’ve set ourselves a target. We’re not afraid to go and have a stab at stuff when other people maybe won’t do it or have given up on it. Things like putting in the plastic bridge on the Cotswolds which hadn’t been done elsewhere and going and doing the work on the Wilts and Berks: going and building that entrance bit off the Thames – it’s a very big public statement: “This is going to happen – we’ve built the start”. I think working at some of the big shows that we’ve done – we do hold our own against some of those professional guys who are there with lots of money behind them. We’re pretty engaging and that’s down partly to the people who come along and get involved with us.
Q: Is there anything particularly crazy you’ve done fundraising? A: I have sat in a lot of dumpers full of water. The original one was at Gloucester National and the reason was to raise money for the KESCRG cooker. I sat in a dumper of water inviting people to throw water over me and chuck money in the bucket. It worked very well but I was parked outside the IWA tent and the main person who put money in was my father who kept running out, chucking water at me, chucking money in, laughing and then running back in again. The worst place I did it was with Helen [Davey] at the National in Chester in that hideous entry marquee with doors at either end. It became the biggest wind tunnel – I have never been so cold. Mr Mac was bringing weird things off the North-West stand to put in with us.
Q: You’ve been involved with WRG publicity for a little while – how did that start? A: I honestly can’t remember. I think publicity is one of the hardest jobs that we have to do as volunteers because you either like doing that kind of thing or you don’t. I’ve done a lot of time just standing on a stall and just chatting to members of the public. Once you get talking to people they are genuinely amazed about what we actually do, both from the complexity and how much we actually achieve. Once you actually get people talking the chances of getting them to give a donation or to sign up to Navvies and be an armchair supporter – you get a pretty good conversion rate. The trick is getting them talking.
Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who did you learn it from? A: Probably reversing trailers - I have used it in other places. I was at Leicester Uni doing an archaeology degree and in those days their main dig site was on Lindisfarne Island so we had a Land Rover and a trailer. My professor had spent years pushing the trailer around because he had no idea how to reverse one and I was able to show him. The people who have helped me most on trailers are Eddie Jones and Mick Beattie. I learnt to drive the case, the case is the one I can jump in every time and I feel completely comfortable in it and I love driving it.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: One of the people I have total admiration for is the guy who runs the Sobriety project up in Goole, Bob Watson, he’s always had a vision and just went with it. There are lots of individual locals that you work with like Pete Redway down on the Basingstoke and Bill on the Droitwich. It sounds really naff but it’s probably Mike and AJ and the work they did on the Mont. Getting your head around the fact that you’ve got to build a derelict canal in order to restore a derelict canal and getting on with it and making it all happen. I think it was an enormous piece of work – if it hadn’t have been for them constantly driving stuff forward – I’m sure we would have done it eventually but it wouldn’t have done at the speed it happened.
Q: What would you say WRG is not so good at? A: I think we aren’t as open and responsive to change as we could be. And there’s a point where the “I
won’t take no for an answer” attitude of a volunteer is great in pushing forward a project and we’ll get it done by hook or by crook, but we are now moving in an age where we sometimes have to say “no – we can’t do that yet” - because we need some particular equipment or some particular training. You can’t go like a bull in a china shop all the time. It’s not that we’re trying to become overly professional or knock people’s spirit but there’s a bigger picture here as well. There are lots of other people in the sector who constantly look to us as leaders and therefore if we’re saying one thing and doing another that undermines our standing. It puts our volunteers at risk – it’s a very easy thing to lose, being up on a pedestal and admired. So we always need to make sure we’re looking at the bigger picture.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: This is a really interesting one – if I look at my work then a lot of the jobs you’re doing are to put yourself out of business because the idea is to make a change happen. I think WRG need to be comfortable that if they are successful there should be no reason for them in the future. WRG is going to have to morph and change as well because people have got less time. We have to be realistic about what we can do, what we can take on and how we manage it. When I used to run camps on the Mont in the early ’90s I’d often be the eldest there at 19/20, whereas now you’re getting much more of a mix all the time and our leaders need to embrace that.
Q: What has changed for canal restoration in the time you’ve been involved? A: Love him or hate him, personally I think that Dave Fletcher of British Waterways did massive amounts for moving forward some of those truly huge engineering jobs that we could have plugged away at for years as volunteers. But sometimes it is OK to let somebody come in with multi million pounds and big machines and a contract. You cannot go to the Falkirk Wheel and not be impressed. And things like the Ribble Link we played our part but it’s OK to let them come in and do more. That isn’t going to happen going forward huge public money deficit, we really don’t know how this move for BW into the third sector’s going to go. I’ve read some of their consultation documents and one of the things I found interesting was that they’d picked a number of examples of how it worked elsewhere and the reason they all worked was because they’d had iconic leaders. If BW want to be in that mould – who’s driving that? I’m interested to see what will happen with BW. I’m interested to see how that will impact on the IWA because it ultimately affects us, after all, they are the ones who give us our money to the most extent.
because the locals have always been great. To actually get that connected will make such a massive addition to the system and it’s a beautiful part of the country. Droitwich as well, has that same thing, it really is a proper link – it starts somewhere and finishes somewhere and that part of Worcestershire is beautiful. They’re both places where I’ve spent a lot of time. I spent 2 weeks lugging those enormous blocks at Boxwell Spring Lock – I was like popeye by the end of that. We had a camp of 25 but we were feeding 50 people because we were just so hungry lugging those sodding blocks around. So if no one ever uses that lock to take a boat through I’m going to be really mad.
Q: Do you have any memorable silly stories? A: I do remember on that Cotswold Camp they’d prom-
Q: What’s your favourite derelict canal? A: I’ve always enjoyed working on the Cotswolds
A favourite canal: Droitwich
ised to do a BBQ. It was me and Ian Williamson running it and we sent everybody else back so they could get a shower. It had been really hot and everyone had worked hard. Sue [Burchett] was back at the accommodation sorting out the BBQ for us. I don’t honestly know how it happened but there was me, Ian and two other campers – Ian was driving and we ended up having this enormous food fight in the van on the way home from site. At one point we realised with the mayonnaise – we’d got it inside a sock and then you could lob it around. The vans in those days just had a wooden bench – it was fairly easy to hose down. We arrived back and Sue was getting a bit frantic because she’d make all this coleslaw and said “thank goodness – apparently you’ve got the mayonnaise...” Do you have any suggestions for who we should interview next? See page 26.
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun 18-20
Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival: Sales Stand
Basingstoke Canal: Probably demolishing wing walls at Lock 17
Thames & Severn Canal: Goughs Orchard Lock. Joint dig with wrg SW
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project
Jun 20 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Ebridge Jun 26/27
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project
Manchester Bolton & Bury: (if no Stockport Canal dig on July 3/4)
Jun 26-Jul 3 Camp 201003
Cotswolds (Goughs Orchard Lock): Rebuilding lock walls, coping stone
Jun 26-Jul 3 Camp 201004
Montgomery Canal: Reconstructing stone wall, concrete foundations, t
Stockport Canal: (Provisional, but probably MB&B canal on Jun 26/27
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
Cotswolds (Goughs Orchard Lock): Rebuilding walls, coping stones, bywa
Montgomery Canal: Reconstructing stone wall, concrete foundations, tr
Jul 3 Sat
WRG Training Day: Gough’s Orchard Lock on Cotswold Canals. NOTE
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project
TBA, maybe Eisey, or H&G
Cotswolds (Goughs Orchard Lock): Rebuilding lock walls, coping stone
Chesterfield Canal: Constructing a wash wall, block laying, concrete an
Cotswolds (Goughs Orchard Lock): Rebuilding lock walls, coping stone
Grantham Canal CAMP CANCELLED
Chesterfield Canal (Worksop): Sales Stand
Jul 24 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project led by KESCRG.
Basingstoke Canal: MOVED FROM GRANTHAM. Leaders: Ed Walker, G
Jul 31-Aug 7 Camp 201013
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock.
Jul 31-Aug 7 Camp 201014
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Bank protection, painting, towpath c and repairs to brick walls on Treasure Island.
Wey & Arun Canal
Mon & Brec Canal: Continued restoration of locks using heritage constr
Wendover Arm work week: Stage 2 pipe capping and excavation of mo
Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project, led by NWPG.
Foxton Inclined Plane: Assisting with Foxton Festival
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201003') should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453. Email: email@example.com David McCarthy
ransplanting vegetation. Leader: Alan Jervis
sh. Leaders: Martyn Worsley and Clive Knight
es, replace bywash.
es, replace bywash. d bentonite matting. Leader: Mike Chase Dave Wedd
es, replace bywash.
ordon Brown. Cook: Harri Barnes
clearance and general repairs to navigation Tim Lewis
ruction skills, vegetation clearance.
Roger Leishman John Gale
Navvies diary Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties Amendments to Dave Wedd (see previous page) Once per month: pls check 2nd Sunday & alternate Thurs Anytime inc. weekdays Every Sunday Every Tue & Wed Every Saturday 2nd & 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 Last weekend 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) Wednesdays Wednesdays Wednesdays Thursdays Various dates 1st w/e (Fri-Tue or Fri-Wed) 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 MBBCS NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WAT WAT WBCT
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 Creams Paper Mill 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 Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Drayton Beauchamp Drayton Beauchamp Wilts & Berks Canal
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)
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 MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
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 Steve Dent David Revill Paul Waddington Colin Turner Colin Greenall Bob Parnell Peter Redway George Whitehead Mel Sowerby Mike Friend Brian Macnish Eric Walker John Empringham John Smith Peter Jackman Peter Wilding Tony Clear 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 07802-973228 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 01903-235790 01483-772132 01483-422519 01903-774301 01403-753882 01442-874536 01255-504540 01249-892289
Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society 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
R.I.P. Bill Harrison, Get Well Soon to the Chairman, and should WRG get more physical?
Letters to the editor
Dear Martin My family and I would like to thank everyone who gave their support and wishes to all of my family and to myself, during a difficult time. My father, Bill Harrison, joined Essex WRG through Malcolm Bates and spent many a happy dirty weekend away from home (with the knowledge of Pat, his wife) helping restore numerous canals around the country. He joined in about 2000 and was a regular on the digs, until he retired from work and for a few months of the last few years disappeared off to France and Italy for up to 10 weeks at a time. His death in January came after an accident in July, which left him in hospital until the end. Our thanks go to all who attended his funeral and help give him a good send off. Many Thanks Kay and Mike Porter Dear Martin I was sorry to read in Navvies 240 that the Chairman has been so poorly. It doesn’t sound very nice at all, and I hope he’s soon completely recovered. I can only offer some advice based on my own experience; since taking early retirement, I haven’t had to call in sick once. All the best Bruce Napier Dear Martin, Being a new member and reading the CD-ROM about raising money, ‘The Right Tool For The Right Job’ and all the crazy activities to achieve the target I’m surprised that WRG or KESCRG didn’t do the London Marathon or even - as used to be done at Easter - Devizes to Westminster Bridge in a canoe on the Kennet and Avon - or is that all too strenuous? Hence the reason why diggers and dumpers are used instead of shovels and wheelbarrows? The mag IS Navvies - when navvies built canals they dug 1 cubic yard per day while their mates wheelbarrowed the spoil away. Should the mag be renamed? Yes I’ve tried to find Scottish volunteers to share travel costs with no joy but since the cost of a canal camp equates to at least the cost getting to one let alone a training week,I regret,with a frustrated heart I’ll have to remain an arm-chair WRGie Jon Cortis Although I suspect that Jon Cortis’s comments are to a certain extent tongue-in-cheek, they do give me an excuse to mention a few things... Although we have taken part in all manner of whacky and unconventional fundraising activities, it’s not unknown for our volunteers to get involved in physical challenges for sponsorship: four of us did a bike ride a couple of years ago for the Droitwich Barge Lock appeal, I’m sure I’ve heard of folks doing both the Devizes-Westminster canoe race and the London Marathon for canal related sponsorship, I know a group of WRGies walked the Great Glen Way in Scotland a few years ago as a fund-raiser, and I’m sure there will be opportunities for more of this kind of thing as and when the next big appeal gets under way. And speaking of Scotland... unfortunately it’s true that it’s rather a long way from most of our sites, because somehow the Scots have gone and completed all their canal restoration projects and reopened the canals, so there’s not a lot left for us to do north of the border. Unless anyone knows differently... Are there any waterways left in Scotland that are still derelict but not unrestorable (for example I’m sorry to say that I can’t see Network Rail handing over either the Glasgow Paisley and Johnstone or the Aberdeenshire Canal for conversion back from railways into canals!) If so, please tell Navvies about them. ...Ed
The Survey Most and least favourite jobs
How did the country vote in the election for the best and worst jobs in WRG?
What are the best and worst jobs on a WRG work site? There was no clear majority in this edition’s survey. Bricklaying, driving plant, watching the bonfire and making the tea were all nominated as best jobs on site but failed to win by a strong margin. Cooking and the destructive arts (demolition, tirforing and cutting down trees) also enjoyed the support of voters. Brickcleaning was expected to return a landslide as worst job on site, but once the polls came in there was also strong support for ‘going home’ as the worst thing people could be asked to do on site. A small minority also disliked having to make the tea, car parking, and ‘anything involving waders’. ELECTION RESULTS - AT A GLANCE Amid accusations Brick cleaning of ballot rigging coming from factions who cannot believe brick cleanGoing home ing did not win a higher share of the vote for worst job, there have Making the tea been calls for a second vote on this issue. It has been suggested that brick cleanCar parking ing could from a coalition with other interest groups, to form a new Anything involving waders job called ‘Brickcleaning, then having to go home early’ which is likely to SWING win a comfortable majority in future poll for 5% from BRICK CLEANING to GOING HOME most disliked job on site. Either way, it seems likely the country may have to return to the polls on this issue before too long. Thanks to all who If repeated throughout the country, the result would be a lot voted. of clean bricks and quite a few disgruntled WRGies... For our next surveys we have a bit of a change. Firstly we have a rather more serious question to ask readers: who would you like to see interviewed in our ‘Forty interviews from forty years’ feature? (see pages 16-21) Is there someone who you feel has played an important role, or might be in a position to make some insightful comments on WRG, or who for any other reason would be a good person to feature. If so, pease place your vote now at http://tiny.cc/WRGinterview. And secondly and slightly more frivolously, Deirdre wants your views on bogs - see page 42 and go to http://tinyurl.com/WRGloo
Our regular roundup of progress around the system begins on a long-established project in the north west...
Bugsworth Basin tion’ site for the Peak Forest Canal, surrounded by beautiful countryside in the Derbyshire Peak District. It is ideal for those who want to work on what might be termed a ‘lower key’ site than much WRG activity. Bugsworth Basin is a ‘gem’ on the national canal system and needs help. If you would like to come then please contact Ian Edgar on 0161 427 7402. Work generally is every other Sunday throughout the year but in the spring and summer week-day working is undertaken as and when required. To find the site: Bugsworth Basin Post Code is SK23 7NF and Grid Ref. SK 0221.8202. Ian Edgar
IWPS carry out site maintenance at Bugsworth
Not much has been heard of Bugsworth Basin in Navvies for a few years. Following decades of volunteer restoration, and many set backs, the Basin complex on the Peak Forest Canal opened to navigation in 2005 and has remained open for all to enjoy every since. However that is not the end of the story since The Inland Waterways Protection Society still has the responsibility for maintenance and repair of the ancient structure to a standard suited to a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Having spent so many years restoring what was a completely overgrown and leak ridden basin the IWPS care for it to a level it deserves and to a level which owners British Waterways could never do due to financial constrains of which we all know. During the years of restoration Bugsworth had a succession of WRG Work Camps and week-end long working led by a Sheffield-based contingent. This was a big ‘muck shift’ on a very difficult site with access constraints and a need to carefully preserve the fabric in accordance with the Ancient Monument status. It was quite usual for there to be over 30 volunteers on a work camp but now things have changed to what might be considered a more low-key but nevertheless essential role for the IWPS. Gone are the big diggers, the many dumpers moving thousands of tons of silt and rubbish. Now smaller (but more modern!) equipment prevails for grass cutting, towpath and wall repairs, never ending painting and the fight against nature which tries its hardest to take Bugsworth back to dereliction if the IWPS does not keep on top of the maintenance. Occasionally, especially after the winter frosts and ice, we have to do dry stone wall repairs as well as a wide diversity of other tasks. The IWPS still wants volunteers on this wonderful site. During the season (from Easter to the end of September) instead of 30 volunteers we can have over 30 boats moored overnight. Bugsworth is a ‘destina-
“Cost estimates for full restoration and new construction works are in the region of £90m. However, much could be undertaken by volunteers...”
Uttoxeter, Chichester, L&H
Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals
The Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust has taken delivery of the “Uttoxeter Canal Restoration Outline Feasibility Study.” The study was commissioned by Staffordshire County Council and the Trust to: “determine whether the restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal between the Caldon Canal at Froghall to the north and Uttoxeter Gravel Pits to the south is a feasible project.” The report, which has taken some six months to compile and runs to over 70 pages, was undertaken by consulting engineers Halcrow Group Ltd. Challenges such as restoring the canal through the villages of Oakamoor and Denstone – where the original line is built over – are explored, with various possible solutions considered. The study also looks at environmental issues along the route and the potential economic impact of restoration. Finally, it estimates the cost of the project. Halcrow concluded that the restoration is a viable project from an engineering point of view. There are various obstructions, but none are insurmountable. Cost estimates for full Looking down into the remains of California Lock restoration and new construction works are in the region of £90m, however much of the restoration work could be undertaken by volunteers. Plans are being drawn up for restoration projects by volunteers to conserve existing canal features and also to explore how inaccessible parts of the canal can be opened up. As the Trust works toward restoration of the canal itself, its initial aim is to create a walking route along the length of the Uttoxeter Canal utilising as much of the original towpath as possible; this will link into existing footpaths paths from Oakamoor to Denstone, and into the Caldon Canal towpath routes through to Leek, Rudyard and Stoke-on-Trent. For most of their route these existing and proposed canal paths run in parallel to the River Churnet, and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust has long advocated that their towpaths form the basis of a Churnet Valley Way – the waterway life-blood that connects into a wealth of trails in this beautiful valley reaching through the heart of the Staffordshire MoorBridge 70 awaits restoration lands into rural East Staffordshire.
Lichfield and Hatherton Canals
Things on the Chichester are stepping up a gear. We are at the moment working with Cain Bio to rebuild 500 metres of bank that had become badly eroded, so much so that the towpath was also disappearing in places. Thanks to WRG BITM earlier in the year several metres of hawthorns were coppiced, and the Chichester Canal Trust volunteers removed several more metres, but unfortunately did not finish the job before the bird nesting season began. Hint, hint we need more help next winter. The Chichester Canal is owned by West Sussex County Council, but leased to us the Chichester Canal Trust, so a partnership has been formed between WSCC, Chichester District Council, the Canal Trust and Premier Marinas, who own the marina alongside the canal at Birdham, where the canal enters Chichester Harbour. In March the partnership engaged a project manager to enable us to overcome the problems of the two road crossings, so that we can reach the harbour. We are looking to have a moving bridge at one crossing; for the other crossing, we aim to move a lock from one side of the road to the other, which will give sufficient headroom under the very busy West Wittering road. Some of this work will of course be carried out by contractors, but there will be plenty for volunteers, WRG included. If you are not already a member of the Canal Trust and you would like to be part of this push to get the canal open from Chichester City to Chichester Harbour (within the next three years, all being well) now is the time to get involved. Why not join now? Maybe you have one of the many skills we are looking for or you would like to be an armchair member, whichever, we would welcome you just the same. For more information, or for a skills audit form please call Linda Wilkinson on 01243 576701 or e-mail canal. firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from Bank repairs on the you all.
On 24th April we held our third public walk along the Lichfield Canal. Over 500 people turned out on a pleasant morning. Publicity was excellent with the walk being led by Michael Fabricant MP. We hope to organise a public event on the watered section of the Hatherton next year, possibly a “Boat Float”. On the restoration front work has continued on the bywash at Lock 25 which was temporarily “in water” for the Walk. The “How a Lock Works” display panel was unveiled by Michael Fabricant with Trust President, Eric Wood. The panel includes a Braille strip which was in use within an hour. It is now likely that will receive a substantial grant from Lichfield District Council which will be used to bring in contractors for a major project at Tamworth Road. Our own team, and visiting groups, can then be deployed to Darnford Lane or to the section from Lock 26 to the A51. At Huddlesford, the Cruising Club has begun detailed discussions with the Environment Agency on the relocation of its moorings to an off-line basin to resolve flood-plain issues. This remains the key to opening up the section to Cappers Bridge and beyond. We are now optimistic that we can soon purchase the track from Cappers Lane to the lift bridge and start work on Lock 30. All this is within our ambition to complete Atkins Phase 1 (and possibly Phase 2) by 2015. The proposed High Speed Rail Link to the north, which will be a spur from the London to Birmingham section, will cross the line of the canal close to Darnford Lane on a high viaduct. We are confident now that suitable provision for the canal will have to be made. On the Hatherton we are looking closely at ways of starting on the first phase of the new line which will use part of the Lords Hayes Branch at Pelsall. This section is in BW ownership and has not long been in-filled. Such a project will encourage the cooperation of farmers from whom we Chichester Canal must acquire land.
Chichester Canal Truat
the locality. The highway authority had insisted on 1.8m high metal barriers rather than traditional parapets, and the residents were not impressed. A compromise has now been worked out with the locals, and a planning application submitted to clad the lower part of the barriers in local bricks to match the Loxwood Lock and horse bridge. WACT has launched a ‘buy a brick’ campaign (£5 a go, buy four and you get a special gold one). Wey & Arun Canal Another planning application concerns Big opening ceremonies are becoming an Southland Lock, next one up from Devils annual event on the Wey & Arun Canal. In Hole, and the 2011 aim. This needs comfact project manager Eric Walker seems to plete rebuilding (see Navvies 240) and regard it as a challenge to add one major preparations are well underway. structure every year (the real challenge of One of the main recommendations of a course is finding the money, but that’s anstrategic study carried out for our local auother story). thorities by Halcrow was that the canal April 17th saw Devils Hole Lock reoshould re-join with the rest of the navigable pened. Because half of the original lock system via the River Wey. WACT has had its chamber was destroyed in the 1940s by the eyes on a piece of neglected land near the Canadian Army practising laying explosives junction, regarding it as the basis of the ‘green before the Dieppe raid, it seemed fitting to corridor’ through which the canal link will run – get the Canadians to declare the rebuilding partly along its original course, partly using complete. The trio of high ranking officers the Bramley Stream, and partly new course. and their entourage from the Canadian High But well before through navigation becomes Commission looked most impressive as Col a reality, the ‘green corridor’ should be estabPaul Rutherford cut the ribbon on the lock lished to provide a public amenity and give bridge. It was good to welcome a number of the locals a taste of what could be expected Canadian WW2 veterans who had settled in recreation- and nature-wise. the area after being stationed nearby during Subject to final agreement from the WW2; none of them would admit to having landowner, Surrey County Council, the green blown up the lock though. corridor will happen soon. A generous sixAnother part of the celebration was figure bequest from the Ed and Doris Hunt Lady Egremont naming the Memorial Fund will allow new 12-seater trip boat WACT and landscape conJosias Jessop, after the tractors Community Realm canal engineer commisCIC to transform the area. sioned by her ancestor the The Hunts lived near the Third Earl to survey the canal at Loxwood and canal at the beginning of wanted their legacy to be th the 19 century. The VIP used for countryside and party travelled from wildlife conservation. The Loxwood up the canal to fund trustees felt that this Devils Hole and back in JJ project fitted the specificaand the narrow boat tion perfectly. Zachariah Keppel. FortuFinally a sad note. nately the newly-refilled Just as I was finishing this pound retained water for report we learned that Tim long enough to make the Jolly, a member of WACT’s return journey – though Council and editor of Weythe crew of JJ were obSouth had been found dead served doing a little poling. at his home. Navvies who The subject of 2009’s worked on the canal in the opening, the Loxwood 1980s and 1980s will no road crossing, has proved doubt remember Tim. Devils Hole gates going in somewhat controversial in Bill Thomson
Wey & Arun Canal
Meanwhile down in the deep south, the Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust have got their lock wing walls SORTed
Sussex Ouse Navigation Sussex Ouse
In 2009 restoration was completed of the east chamber wall and both the upper and lower wing walls of Isfield Lock. The next stage of restoration involves the badly damaged west wall and will require an equal determination and effort from the volunteers. The west wall is likely to present more problems and challenges than previously encountered. However pre-restoration season meetings and site visits have been positive and work will begin as soon as weather conditions improve and the site can be accessed though the neighbouring private estate. Essential to the progress of the work that lies ahead was the purchase of a reliable dumper. Previous earth moving tasks during restoration so far undertaken have involved the hire of a dumper over selected working weekends, forcing the volunteers at those weekends to Isfield Lockâ€™s restored upper and lower wing walls complete the work whatever the weather and manpower status. So in March this year Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust became the proud owners of a two tonne dumper of their own following generous financial donations from four Committee members. With an increased amount of machinery and equipment now requiring safe on-site storage, efforts pre-season will concentrate on improving the site compound security and storage, including a secure undercover parking bay for the new dumper. Depending upon the weather this spring, initial work involving clearance of the west wall bank and building a safe working platform, began during April. Paul Morris, the project manager, is hoping for a dry summer allowing for the maximum amount of work to be achieved during the working season through to September. New volunteers are always required and will always be made welcome on site by Paul and his team. If you are able to help please contact email@example.com or call Ted Lintott on 01444414413. Ted co-ordinates the volunteer working parties and will also suggest ways you can help even if you feel unable to get involved in the actual site work.
Finally, steady progress means that WAT are approaching the end of Stage 1 of Phase II of the Wendover restoration
will have cost £130,000, or about £400 per metre. Bearing in mind that the initial work on this stage was experimental in design and a long learning curve, I would hope that this cost plus inflation can be maintained for the remaining stages which make up the Phase II restoration from Little Tring to ????? ??????. My best estimate now is that the whole of Phase II will cost around £1 million and be completed in 2017. Roger Leishman 01442 874536 firstname.lastname@example.org
Four working parties’ progress on Stage 2
The Wendover Arm Trust’s March working party was a great success including having seven days of dry weather – just to emphasise this it rained the day after the working party ended. 80 metres of Bentomat waterproof lining and hollow block work along both banks were completed by the Tuesday. On the Wednesday and Thursday nearly all the solid blocks along both banks were laid. The hydraulic lifting grab was a great success eliminating the need for manual loading of the blocks into dumpers at Little Tring. Only about 500 blocks remained to be laid plus the coir rolls along the top. We were again blessed with dry weather for the April working party. The few remaining blocks and concrete seal for the bund were completed on the Friday and work commenced on placing spoil on 160 metres of bank, 80 metres each side. See the pictures to compare the scene on the last day with the October 2009 view, only four working parties ago! Only 80 metres of bed lining from the small bund in the middle distance and the temporary bund at the end of the stage remain to be completed – hopefully at the May working party, The 50 metre mooring bay can be seen on the towpath side in the distance. Laying some 5,000 blocks along the two banks over 80 metres of canal is hard work, especially for the older volunteers. Next time I am hoping we can enlist younger volunteers for mass block laying, e.g. trainees from RAF Halton for a weekend. The biggest problem will be keeping them supplied with blocks fast enough from Little Tring. All being well, the last 80 metres of bed lining of the Stage 1 length will have been completed during the May working party as well as the temporary bund. With Stage 1 virtually complete it is now possible to say that, in round figures it
Grand Union Wendover Arm
”...I had the misfortune to break a couple of teeth on it...” - OUCH!
Concrete mixer rebuild
Progress of the concrete mixer rebuild - or really lack of progress…
No Martin I’m not entering a race with Bungle-see last issue of Navvies; but may be I’ll give him a bit of time to catch up! Unfortunately there hasn’t been much progress with the mixer over the last couple of months. The main stumbling block is trying to remove the bevel gear so that it can be replaced, in so doing, and after all the usual methods had failed I have had the misfortune to break a couple of teeth on it. And so for now the main factor will be whether or not the total cost of replacement ball bearings etc (I have managed to rebuild one trust bearing, but all of the others were totally shot) will make the project viable. Some of the framework has been cleaned and partly ground in readiness for welding. The drum turnover wheel has now been reset by George ‘Bungle’ Eycott and some of the road wheel bearings cleaned and repacked with grease. Meanwhile I’ll carry on cleaning some of the other parts that are shown in the pictures. John Hawkins
Training The Leader Training Day
“Helen brilliantly project managed the whole thing, keeping Mike Palmer under some semblance of control...” Leader training day
Pictures by Sophie Smith
Forty or so WRG leaders recently repaired to a secret location in the Midlands for a day course in leader survival training. Helen Gardner brilliantly project managed the whole thing, fuelling us on arrival with bacon rolls, coordinating all the sessions and keeping Mike Palmer under some semCrack team of leaders undergo rigorous drilling blance of control. Harry provided some useful information on handling camp finances, Mike gave a short talk illustrating how WRG is the graveyard of political correctness [Wasn’t this Mike’s talk on avoiding ageism and sexism? ...Ed] and there were useful sessions on how to lay out a site, kit handling, paperwork and the many ways in which Jenny Black could support us. The day was characterised by a refreshing lack of cynicism and there was some serious and productive discussion about Sobriety test handling tricky situations and troublesome personalities. I for one certainly ended the day feeling more confident about leading a camp for the first time. The only real note of concern was raised when ‘Chainsaw’ Martyn from WRG forestry reminded us always to leave space on site for the Ambucopter to land when he’s around. Many many thanks to Helen for organising a very smooth and productive day and for Mike, Harry, Jen and others who supported the training as well as those who hosted it. Strategy talk Sophie Smith
How to restrain a troublesome volunteer
Van manoevring exercises
Undergoing final examination
Moose reports from his last Little Venice festival before he hands over the reins...
Canalway Cavalcade report
Little Venice report long I had been doing the site team, doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself? All the site crew need to pat themselves on the back for a festival that was a success and has made money again, even though the weather was very cold, and a bit wet and also slightly windy. They all kept going, volunteering when requested holding gazebo’s and marquees, all in the course of the weekend. They kept smiling. Helena volunteered to manage the WOW marquee, which I am very grateful, plus also catch a flying marquee, what a girl! Most people will realise that this was my last Cavalcade, I am stepping down from the post of Chairman, and the Volunteer Leader of the ‘Moose Camp’. I have been chairman for four years, I now think it’s time for me to take a bow and someone with new ideas to go forward. The problem is that without a work camp leader Cavalcade cannot happen. I know a couple of people are thinking about it, so beware: Canalway Cavalcade is still planned for next year and somebody will be after volunteers to help.Watch this space... Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden
IWA’s annual Canalway Cavalcade festival at Little Venice went as smoothly as before, despite the fact that this time we had to contend with more fencing then previous festivals, and you could see the site team flagging sometimes. More leg-work because of where the fencing was going, which was made even harder as Commercial team had measured the site, re-measured the site and then re-re-measured the site and still it was wrong - at first they blamed the tape measure, then the measuring wheel, I blame the staff really... This year we had some newbies who had never done a Cavalcade before, and I think it was a baptism of fire. All of them deserved their Moose Camp T-shirts, including Gary who might have done a National Festval before, but that is easy compared to Cavalcade. Richard and Robert fitted in very well, be it clearing up in the compound or out doing a litter pick. Gary had turned up to do a day, but then it was pointed out that if he stayed just for the day he would not be entitled to the T-shirt, so with prompting from others he stayed and worked like a trooper. Another newbie was Emma. Emma remembered going to Cavalcade with her parents who had a stall there, when Kescrg was site team, when we worked this out it was about 7 – 8 years ago A busy scene in the pool at Little Venice and that is how
Camp report Burslem and Church Lawton
An unofficial canal camp spent grappling with the Burslem Arm, the duplicate chamber at Lock 47, and BW...
Nilam Jassi at Red Bull office for her patience and commitment in sorting it out. She really deserves the gold star which hangs above her desk. Rather worse, we learnt that the empty mud This was a five-day dig in April on two sites, one either side of the Cheshire / hopper which was to transfer this hired equipStaffs border. John Hawkins has writment up the locks from Rode Heath wharf on ten the WRG camp report, but we have Wednesday had already been taken up empty a some contributions from Roger Savage, couple of days before. Hasty arrangements were chairman of Stoke IWA. I’ve put them then made to deliver the stuff to Church Lawton the following day, so an overnight security presin different typefaces so that you can ence was not needed. tell who wrote what. Over to Roger to set the scene: 1900 hrs: called in at the TA Drill Hall to await arrival of WRG advance party. No-one The last few months have been very busy, about who was expecting us, but eventually, just with much time taken up organising and then as Jude arrived, so did the caretaker Roddy. He taking part in the WRG camp which took place was only too pleased to show Jude around. over a long weekend stretching from Wednesday A huge place, the main hall was the April 21st to Monday April 26th. For some of us, this was the first time we have worked with WRG, size of two Badminton Courts, with numerous corridors and rooms. Our sleeping space and certainly for all of us this was the first time was in the Officers bar, very luxurious with we have worked on an active BW waterway. The objectives were two fold: to carry out excavation carpet on the floor and large Chesterfield armchairs. on the line of the former Burslem Arm, to disIt also came with secure parking and (at an cover whether the wash walls were left intact and extra cost) armed guard. We didn’t feel this was also to find out what constituted the in-fill and warranted, so declined… whether a sunken narrow boat could be located; secondly, to replace and add Acrow props in I received a text from Jude informing Churches Lock 47 (one of several of the Cheshire me of the combination number for the main Locks where the duplicate lock chamber has been gate, as I was driving up the M6. Mike and out of use for some years, and whose state of Jude had already sorted out a lot of the kit; repair is not clear) and clear the vegetation and we were soon to be joined by Bungle who had driven up with the Beavertail for use silt from the chamber. To give a real flavour of how the camp later in the week. evolved, here is a blow by blow account: Thursday: A quick brekky of sausage Tuesday 20th April: received email from and bacon butties so that we could get to the Roger Evans, saying he could not provide overlock site before 8am. night security for the Wednesday night as he was Malcolm Turner had made arrangements stuck in a 5 star hotel in Turkey, the victim of for WRG to park their vehicles on the track which volcanic ash. Arranged for Alan and Ann leads from the All Saints Church Lawton car Chetwyn to provide cover. But they were delayed park, and for the church toilet to be made availen route from Market Drayton with water system able. At 10am, the intrepid Speedyhire drivers problems, eventually arriving mid-morning Thurs- managed to get their Transit trucks as far as the day, although it didn’t matter because: end of the rough path which leads to the towpath. Weds 21st April: we discovered that, for a We later learnt that this was how BW had delivnumber of reasons, the order which Steve Wood ered their fence panels earlier. More of this later… had sorted out with Speedyhire, which was arUnfortunately, Speedyhire had supplied a ranged through BW in order to get a significant petrol pump instead of diesel, and this could not discount, had not been processed. Our thanks to be use beside the lock for H&S reasons. Also, this
Burslem Port and Church Lawton: A sort of Canal Camp or ‘how to get very frustrated...’
– they were still in Shrewsbury). We collected a gas detector from Speedyhire and some extra Acrows (masonry props) so that we would not be held up on Saturday at Lock 47. We also returned the faulty pump, but unfortunately there was no spare centrifugal pump, so we had to make do with a diaphragm pump, which works at half the capacity of the other type. Friday: Not so much of a rush this morning, we were going to the Burslem site to start to investigate the whereabouts of the wharf wall and a buried boat. This was a day devoted to Burslem Port. Double-M hire had safely delivered the excavator to the Drill Hall, where it was sitting loaded on the beavertail when I arrived just as breakfast was over. We set out in convoy and unloaded the excavator at East View. It drove easily down the ramp to the canal bed. The truck returned to collect 20 fence panels which had also been delivered to the Drill Hall – we eventually cancelled the missing 20 from Shrewsbury as rearranging the work schedule meant we did not need them. We carried them to the work site and erected the safety compound. A WRGie with Landy (WRG speak for Land Rover) towed the trailer down and drove it to the site so that all necessary tools were to hand. This included the brew kit which was swiftly set up and ignited. Regular Hot Liquid is a WRG requirement.
first delivery did not include the barrow hoist. At the end of a short track to the canal a BW mud boat had been moored the previous evening with some fencing panels, blocks and clips loaded at the front. During the day we hauled this back and forth to the lock with various items of plant; 4” pump, two submersible pumps, all our tools, genny, electric hoist and framework… but where were the stop boards that were to be fitted in the lock chamber and the replacement retaining timbers, not to mention the gas detector? Heras fencing was erected around the lock where we were to be working and the site made safe. Hoist framework bolted together and put in place. After many phone calls it was established that we could collect the ‘missing’ timbers from a company in Newcastle (that made Bungle wince... ‘no not that Newcastle!’), however somehow that didn’t quite all go to plan. We ended up with some timbers and a stack of scaffold planks. Lots of thought was given as to the best way to get the stop boards into place, so the pump was rigged in a suitable place, started, and primed and primed and primed, but the water level wasn’t dropping. We took the pump apart to check the impellor-all ok and then found a small hole in the suction hosecovered with Denso tape; but still nothing happened, even when the pump was put on the level with the canal water. Forget that idea, and put it to one side for return to the hire company a little later. Plan B was to use the two submersible pumps; this worked to a certain degree in between the movement of boats through the locks. Because BW had said that the stop grooves below the lock were not to be used Mikes plan was for the stop boards to put across the gate recess and retained with short Acrow props. Silt was dug out and the boards put into place using the Acrows to hold them against the stone recess. All six boards that we purchased were put in place, but we still needed another three to get the best results. It was now after 7pm and so we closed the site down and headed for dinner. Meanwhile, David Dumbelton had delivered 36 pints of Burslem Porter from Titanic Brewery as a gift to the WRGies. It lightened their spirits for all of two evenings. Back home via Middleport trying to track down 20 fence panels that had allegedly been dropped there (they hadn’t
Unearthing the Burslem Arm wash wall
Camp report Burslem and Church Lawton
“Since we had left the site on Friday a ‘stop plank fairy’ had visited. Why couldn’t these have been delivered earlier?”
Bungle started to dig the exploratory after the breach, and putting them back in the trench. Very soon he uncovered a great slab of Trent & Mersey Canal. concrete halfway across the width of the canal At the end of the day the machine was where none was expected. We feared it was the loaded and returned to the accommodation. top of the Severn Trent Storm Sewer, but not in The site fencing was made safe and secured, the right place. Later we learnt from a local because over the weekend the site was going resident that this sewer was in fact constructed by to be visited by members of the public and tunnelling and is deep underground. Eventually other dignitaries in an attempt to generate we realised it was a concrete slab 20 feet square, interest in the Burslem Arm Project. but never found out why it was there. At some point during the day the faulty Eventually the wharf wall was reached pump was returned and another supplied in and the digging changed course to run along its place. the wall, various strengthening features were A rather more peaceful day. found and carefully dug out using spades Saturday: Meanwhile back at the lock, and shovels. The local group had some old since we had left the site on Friday a “stop photos of the site but it proved difficult to board fairy” had visited - why couldn’t these establish the exact point at which the wall have been delivered earlier? opened out and finished. After quite a bit of While some people started to clear the digging these places were established. vegetation others were busy re-positioning We discovered the wash wall, exactly as the stop boards, also fixing some more in pictured in an old photo, and constructed of place and making the boards water tight. cement blocks. We uncovered about 80 yards of The pump was set to work, but unfortuthe top, which was only 6 inches below the turf. nately it could not keep up with the ingress of We were less successful in finding the buried water round the edge of the stop planks. The narrow boat, drawing a blank at the end of the water also kept rising every time a boat locked day- but we did discover some man holes that do through the adjacent lock – a disadvantage of not appear on the Severn Trent record. working on an active waterway. The mud hopper During the day, we welcomed several had to be brought down below the lock in order to visitors, including Joan Walley, our Patron, on a mount the diesel pump which was struggling break from the hustings; an archaeologist from working on maximum lift. A lot of time was the City Council, who followed our work with consumed trying to solve this problem, which interest, despite the fact remained obdurate that no interesting artethroughout the day. facts were discovered, The new positions except the wall itself. We for the extra lock wall were very pleased to see retaining Acrows was June Boulton, a former established and the resident of East View and best method for the keen supporter of our ‘change over’ arranged. cause. She related several The old timbers were anecdotes of how the also to be removed canal came to burst and because they were how the Corn Mill burnt rotten. down. She recalled playSunday was ing by the canal arm as a more of the same as child and also remembers Saturday - apart from taking bowls and buckets the weather, which Digging investigation trenches along the lock decided that rain, sleet to rescue stranded fish
and hail would help. the wharf walls that we exposed would be Work continued much as before, but the left open for people to see; these were all pumps still could not cope as boats went past. We carefully graded with soil. eventually lowered the pound and shepherded All the fencing panels, clips and blocks boats through. As the pound had been recently carried to the road in readiness for the hire dredged, nearly all craft passed through without company to collect later in the day. going aground. We returned to the hall to empty the We also started to dig out some of the vans and trailer, clean all the tools and rubbish, mud, etc that was in the bottom of repack them into the respective vehicles. the lock chamber-this included the old ChestClean and vacuum etc the accommodanut paling fence that had been removed prior tion before heading home. to the new fence being installed. The mud Meanwhile, Steve Wood guarded the hired boat was positioned in the lock and suitable equipment at Rode Heath until it could be colramps put in place, unfortunately this meant lected, with David Dumbelton similarly engaged that every time a boat passed through we guarding the Heras fencing in Middleport. All was had to move it all out of the way and re-fill over by 4.30 and I was able to return the excavator the lock. The next move was to put the boat keys to Double-M Hire at Eccleshall before they in the top fore bay and alter the fencing to closed at five. Then for a much needed pint of ale suit. We still had to move the boat, but it at The Bell, feeling pretty satisfied that, in the had the advantage that we didn’t have to re- end, we had had a very successful long weekend. fill the lock each time. Jude started the camp with the idea of Towards the end of the afternoon we cooking all the meals using food that was started to pack the site away into the already in the boxes. This was a great idea, workboat, together with the muck/rubbish and with some food that was ‘donated’ and that we had removed; and moored it safely nan bread from the shop down the road for the night. (which sold nothing but nan bread!) everyConsiderable interest was shown throughbody was well fed. out the weekend by passing boaters, walkers and Thanks to all who helped for however cyclists, almost all signing our petition in favour long (not helped by a certain volcano) and of reinstating the duplicate locks, and many local arranged various parts of the work in hand. residents making supportive comments. It was The accommodation was great and we interesting to learn how few walkers or cyclists were well looked after by the guys there. knew anything about the waterway they were But one big question still remains…….. walking beside, or about BW’s funding shortfall. does BW really want to work alongside VolMonday: We set off in reasonable time unteers? for the lock to do the finishing touches; these John Hawkins included a final checking and tightening of plus contributions by Roger Savage the Acrows and wrapping them in Denso tape to protect the threads. Fencing replaced and a final tidy of the surrounds. By 9.30, the BW tug arrived with Scott and Gordon. We loaded on the last of the stuff and they set off. I accompanied them and helped them to unload. Fortunately, they had access to a truck with lifting gear which came into its own with the heavier pump and generator. We then returned to the Burslem Port site with the 360 excavator to fill in some of the large holes that we had dug and spread the heaps of Replacing Acrow props holding the chamber walls apart spoil. It had been decided
R.I.P. Keith Ayling Keith Ayling died on the morning of Wednesday 30th March, a year to the day since he stepped down from being the Chairman of the Chesterfield Canal Trust. Keith had been the Chairman for eighteen years, during which time eleven miles of canal were restored including thirty five locks. Much of the work has been done to enable the remaining nine miles between Staveley and Kiveton Park to be restored. His period of office saw a small organisation with an apparently impossible dream become a major player in canal restoration. The Trust remains entirely run by volunteers, but Keith always insisted that it should produce work of a professional standard. One example of this was its magazine, Cuckoo, being canal society magazine of the year twice running and another was its Work Party being instrumental in the restoration of four locks and the building of a fifth from scratch on the Chesterfield length. Keith will be missed both by the Chesterfield Canal Trust and the wider canal community. However the current Chair of the Trust, Robin Stonebridge, probably summed things up best when he said “Keith would not want us sitting about with long faces. He would have said ‘We have a job to do, let’s get on with it and get this canal restored!’ ” Chesterfield Canal Trust
Spot the difference?
Two of the straps that we sometimes use things for fixing things down in vans, trailers and the like, so they don’t keep going straight on when the van goes round a corner. The bottom one is a buckle strap. These are relatively light-duty but are handy for things like holding catering boxes or hand tools in place by attaching them to the metal rings which are fixed to the wooden panelling in the back of our vans. The top one is a ratchet strap. These are much more heavy duty and are capable of being ratcheted up tight enough to hold an excavator down so it doesn’t fall off the back of the flatbed wagon when Bungle takes a corner at 90mph. They are also capable of being ratcheted up tight enough to rip the metal rings clean out of the wooden panelling in the back of the vans. Each van should have some of both types of strap. Please use the right tool for the right job!
...because if you do, they’ll support us! Included with this issue of Navvies you should find a book of tickets for IWA’ Stoke on Trent branch’s grand raffle. All the proceeds go to support projects in their area - restoration of the Uttoxeter Canal, the Burslem Arm and the derelict duplicate chambers on the Cheshire Locks of the Trent & Mersey Canal. That’s right - three projects that WRG has worked on (you can read about two of them on pages 36-39 of this issue) and will work on again in the future. And one of the most effective ways that money raised can help canal restoration is if it goes to support volunteer work. So please sell some tickets.
Chesterfield Canal Trust
Support Stoke IWA...
Keith is presented with his retirement certificate
Sorry... ...for the non-appearance of the WRG Boat Club News page in this issue. More next time.
NOTICEBOARD Online Navvies subscriptions You can now take out or renew a Navvies subscription online via the IWA online shop website. The address is:
Happy 40th Birthday... ...to us! WRG is 40 years old in early August, so to celebrate we are planning a party at the National Festival site on Saturday 21 August. For more details, and especially if you want to help with the event, contact Jude Palmer on email@example.com 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 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.
Directory update Apologies for an out-of-date entry for Ian Edgar of IWPS (Bugsworth). His correct address is Top Lock House, 7 Lime Kiln Lane, Marple, Stockport SK6 6BX, Tel: 0161 427 7402 The next issue of Navvies will contain the full directory of WRG and canal society work party organisers’ contact details. Please send any updates to the editor.
Brush cutter free to a good home London WRG’s trusty Stihl FS220 brush cutter has given a large number of years’ service up and down the system but has recently been replaced. Brush cutter comes complete with harness and metal cutting blade - but requires a new carburettor or seal kit, or could be used for spare parts. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations ...to... Abigail and Anthony Davison-Hoult ...on the arrival of... Esmé Katherine on 9 May weighing 9lb
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 email: email@example.com
Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for his continued help with printing
R.I.P. Tim Jolly We are sorry to report the death of Tim Jolly, longstanding volunteer on the Wey & Arun, who has served in many posts on WACT including as editor of Wey-South. Our sympathies to everyone who knew him.
Infill ...including Dear Deirdre
“I’ve heard there’s some kind of camping loo available...” - Deirdre gives her views on on-site toilets
Dear Deirdre As leader of a local canal trust we’ve not had many women volunteers on our canal before. However now we’re using WRG, we’re finding more and more women are coming along. What I need to know is should we be providing lavatorial facilities for these ladies? I’ve heard there’s some kind Deirdre writes: Don’t flatter of camping loo available which you yourself. He’s clearly just engaging in place in a little tent. It all sounds a the Machiavellian craft of ‘camp bit complicated to me. What’s your stuffing’ i.e. populating his camp view on this? with normal useful people rather - Bob, via email than wait for it to fill up with a load of weirdos, useless layabouts and Deirdre writes: It’s kind of you to strangers. consider female volunteers like this, He’s targeting single women like however I’m very much in favour of you for two reasons. Firstly so he the al fresco pee myself. It’s my firm can lure other nubile young women belief that weeing in the open air is into his web by promising them they good for the soul. I do however apwon’t be the only girl there. Secondly preciate there are other schools of he’ll offer you as bait for any lusty thought on this. Apparently crouching male WRGies he’s trying to attract behind a hawthorn bush to squat over who have useful site skills. Single an abandoned badger set is quite women with a driving ticket are like difficult whilst in the third trimester of gold dust to camp leaders and there pregnancy. are almost no limits to how low You might well counter argue that they’ll stoop to get them to book on. women who are precious about where I can see how from your point of they pee tend to spend weekends view this looks like the kind of evil pushing a trolley round the Bluewater scheming rarely seen outside a Simon shopping centre rather than digging up Cowell judging panel. From where I’m canals. And women in search of an standing though, he’s showing easy pregnancy usually stay at home admirable leadership skills and you’d with a kit kat and a box set of Desperbe a fool to miss out on this camp. ate Housewives. It’s very difficult for He’s probably already poached the me to give you a definitive answer. best cook, booked the best What do readers think? accommodation and blackmailed WRG To add your view to the stinkyHQ for the best fleet vehicles. I’d portaloo-in-a-rickety-tent vs bebook on now if I were you – I know hind-a-bush debate, please visit I’m going to. http://tinyurl.com/WRGloo Dear Deirdre A boy I know through WRG keeps pestering me to sign up for the camp he’s leading this summer. It’s pretty obvious that he fancies me or he wouldn’t be so persistent. How can I let him down gently? - Anna, Cheltenham
Have you got a question for Deirdre? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
Off the rails
One in the Eye...
The following account by Brian Ing comes from the Wendover Arm Trust’s working party news... Our new WAT Restorationer Andy Brown was striding purposefully along the towpath from Drayton Beauchamp back towards Little Tring, after a successful day’s ‘Bentomat’ canal bank lining. A walker passing by stopped him. “When did the last train travel along this track?” he enquired. Our intrepid canal restorer, struggling to recover from his shock and disbelief, spluttered that the ‘track’ was in fact the bed of the Wendover Arm Canal, which we are trying to restore. With this, he gestured towards the others, making their way back along the towpath towards Little Tring still in their ‘high viz’ jackets & hard hats. “What on earth for?” persisted the ‘train spotter’ At this stage my understanding of the meeting became less clear, but I would say if you see a pair of walking boots, sticking upside down out of the hedge between Little Tring and Drayton Beauchamp do not delve too deeply into the hedgerow, as there may be the sorry remains of a traumatised train spotter in there...
Our thanks to Fred Hodgson for pointing out that the cartoon strip It’s Grim Up North London in a recent issue of Private Eye featured something looking remarkably like one of our cleanup weekends, with the following conversation between ‘Islington types’: “I just love joining in with the annual canal clearout” “We get to help clean up a valuable outdoor recreational resource, restoring one of London’s vital urban waterways...” “...and nearly every piece will soon be gracing our collection of ‘found art’.” [holding up an empty bean can] As Fred says, ‘It has taken nearly half a century but you got there. Portrayed in my other favourite organ has to be a highlight for any organisation. And so true to life, even down to the red hard hats. Well done indeed. Where next? Cosmopolitan? I don’t know about that, but on the subject of Private Eye another snippet from the same magazine mentions our brand new Waterways Minister Richard Benyon who apparently sent out an election email inviting recipients to “Keep up to date with the campaign by following Richard on his bog”.
WRGieotypes No 16: The WRGie’s colleagues “She’s had another bad time with him this weekend” whispers Maeve from Finance. “Black and blue her arms – and you should see the scratches! Do you think we ought to say something?” Jeremy from HR shakes his head. “Goodness knows why she stays with him: it’s the same every few weeks. Has anyone spoken to her about it?” “We did try,” Maeve shakes her head. “She made some feeble excuse, said she was doing some kind of conservation work at the weekend. I mean honestly, who’d believe that story?”
And from this...
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Navvies 241. Keep up to date with the Waterway Recovery Group