volunteers restoring waterways
navvies waterway recovery group
Issue No 247 June-July 2011
Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, James Butler, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts.
ÂŠ 2011 WRG
Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for page 2
Contents Nikki Packer
In this issue...
Left above: WRG North West clearing the chamber at Hollingwood Lock on the Chesterfield Canal, and above the same group making progress on the longrunning project to rebuild the Crickheath Wharf Wall on the Montgomery Canal. Left and below left: progress on the Wendover Arm: the latest section of the canal to be worked on is seen in February, and two months later with a trench excavated in the bed and concrete laid to provide a protective cover over the water pipe buried in the canal bed. See page 30 for a progress update on the Wendover. Below: a new site for Essex WRG: Bacton Mill Lock on the North Walsham & Dilham Canal in Norfolk. (and no, that scaffolding isn’t complete yet!) Front cover: one of the larger ‘catches’ at this year’s BCN Cleanup weekend - see report on pages 13-15. (pic by Chris Morgan) Back cover: as one lock rebuild on the Cotswold Canals comes to an end, another begins. The coping stones go on at Eisey Lock (Martin Ludgate) while at Inglesham initial clearance of the lock head is seen under way. (John Hawkins)
Chairman is there passion in BW staff? 4-5 Coming soon lots of summer canal camps plus a race night and Reunion plans 6-8 Camp report Easter at Eisey Lock 9-12 Cleanup report from the BCN 13-15 WRG at 40 It’s Mark ‘MK2’ Richardson’s turn to face the questions 16-19 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 20-22 Letters the state of the K&A and its Trust, suits vs shovels, and thanks to WRGFT 23-26 Progress a roundup of news from restoration projects around the country 27-30 Archive 50 years on, we look back to the last Ashton Canal trip in 1961 31-34 Navvies News and Boat Club update 35 Noticeboard yet more new arrivals! 36 Infill Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s SuperWRG to the rescue! 37
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all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3
Chairman Suits versus Shovels - part 2
“Suits and Shovellers can be as useless and/or harmful as each other unless there is passion and commitment”
Chairman’s Comment So what of the debate I challenged you all to in the last Navvies - well I’m pleased to say that pretty much everyone immediately dismissed the ‘suits or shovels’ argument as far too simplistic. It’s clearly not an ‘either or’ situation - if you are going to make progress then you are going to need a range of skills be they professional services, political support, boots on the ground, whatever. Not only that but, in a successful organisation, it’s unlikely things will be so defined. The society that really moves forward is one filled by people who not only respect and appreciate both roles but who can do a bit of both and are not ashamed by either. This is not saying everyone should be a jack of all trades, but if you are going to make progress you have to be willing to go where your effort is needed most - no matter how high and mighty your Chairman is, at some point they are going to be lugging display boards back down the Town Hall steps by themselves at 11pm. Equally every Working Party Organiser has, in their time, washed behind their ears, put a clean collar on and addressed the crowd at a public meeting. So far so good - nothing but the obvious there, I could have just pointed everyone to the IWAC report on Building Waterway Partnerships which says all this. So why did I bring all this up? Well the thing that ties it all up, indeed sums it all up, is passion. On a good day there is vision as well, but passion will do for the most part. It is what powers the ‘can-do’ attitude. That is what has come from all the contributions to this Suits vs Shovellers debate both can be as useless and/or harmful as each other unless there is passion and commitment to the cause. And to bring the debate back to practical matters I am afraid I am seeing less and less of this passion in British Waterways employees. It seems to have been replaced by a cheery optimism topped off with what I call a BBSS (a big ‘Big Society’ smile). Then they fail to deliver what is promised. I know a lot of people in BW who do have passion, but they seem to be losing out to the BBSS people. Now it could just be a resource thing - BW is in a state of transition, it’s under-funded, etc. but I don’t see that as an excuse - if you want to engage with volunteers then treat them honestly. Don’t smile and say it should all be fine because BW is committed to these new ways of working when you already know that after three months of delaying you are going to turn around and say “no”. To an outsider it feels like there is an understanding within BW that “this is the particular hat we are going to wear this year - don’t worry, we know it won’t work, just put on your BBSS and brave it out till it goes away”. So as stated in last Navvies, they have appointed the Transition Trustees for the New Waterways Charity. As predicted they are safe pairs of hands - they all run multi-million pound charities. Personally I would hope that this outbreak of BBSS is dealt with firmly by some early displays of passion for the job they now hold. What we need is a reinvigorated NWC with a structure that allows both suits and shovellers on both sides to make their contribution and to be appreciated in proper partnerships - and we have examples of this all over the restoration movement - the Trustees just have to look. The Trustees urgently need to provide some real leadership & inspiration to bring back this can-do attitude. Because if not then I think they will find themselves on the receiving end of many letters like the one from Bill de Leie, and, unlike the K&A, they won’t be able to disprove the accusations so easily or with the passion, eloquence and humour that Mike Rodd and his colleagues have.
Some small but perfectly formed updates: Droitwich Canals: In Navvies 245 I was able to say I had cruised on the Droitwich Barge Canal, in 246 I said the Junction canal would be open and now in Navvies 247 I am able to say that on July 1st in Vines Park there will be the official opening ceremony for both of the Droitwich canals. Not only that, but there is a celebration with music and boats and stuff for the whole of that weekend. I’m not sure I’ll ever find the words to sum up my feelings on this one. Green booklets: Thanks to some sterling work by Alan Jervis and John Hawkins we now have a revised version of ‘The Volunteers’ Health and Safety Guide’. It’s not a great change in terms of actual content, it has just been revised to bring the lingo into the 21st Century - so no more talk of ‘motor spirit’, etc. One small complication - ever since we first wrote this document it has been known as the ‘green book’ because the cover was green. Every time we revised it we changed the shade of green so the current version could be easily recognized. The inevitable has happened and this latest version of ‘the green book’ has a blue cover! At least it is a bluey-green! Safety boots: One thing we have changed regarding Camps is regarding safety footwear. Previously on Camps we have always “strongly recommended that volunteers bring steel toe-capped footwear with them as to not do so would seriously limit the jobs you can do. This attitude was based on the fact that safety footwear was expensive, it was difficult to source in smaller sizes and we did lots of jobs where the risks to feet were low. Put simply, all of these are not really true many more. Whilst we still do have some jobs that do not require “steelies” it’s just too difficult to manage volunteers to ensure they only do particular jobs (and also not much fun for the volunteers),also steel toe-caps are now very cheap and available in all sizes so we have taken the decision that from this summer Safety footwear will be mandatory on all Canal Camps, except the National. (In the very rare occasions that the site can be controlled suitably then the camp leader will modify the safety plan and let you know directly). For those who have not got ‘steelies’ then we have put some guidance on the website. This only applies to Canal Camps - as usual we have taken the view that weekend working groups know best how to run their sites and it is down to them to say whether this applies on not. Gift Aid: Just to let you know that the Gift Aid side of Navvies donations is going very well. This quarter the reclaim was just over £1000. So please do keep ticking that box whenever you give and if you haven’t registered when you submit a donation then please do. (Our thanks to the Head Office peeps for processing what can almost be called free money) I should mention that the figure was bumped up by a very welcome ‘big’ donation from someone who saw our work on the Montgomery and thought it deserved a contribution. They wish to remain anonymous but I see no reason why they should not be thanked. Our thanks to you - it will make our work on the Mont this summer just that much easier. Camp Leader Recruitment: You will have read in the last Navvies that James Butler has stood down from the job of recruiting camp leaders - primarily so he can go on camps these days and talk to people without them getting afraid. So thank you James for dealing with this tricky job with such enthusiasm and thanks to Suzy (the other half of the team) for staying on for another year. I’m pleased to say that not one, but two, people have volunteered to fill the hole that James leaves. I’ll let them introduce themselves once they get into the swing of things but it is very good to have them on board. Brick-saws: As mentioned in last Navvies it is now recommended practice for bricksaw users to use the slightly higher grade FFP3 dust-masks, whereas we normally supply FFP2 masks for our PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) packs for camps volunteers. FFP3 are twice the price of FFP2, and harder to get hold of. Given the rate at which we get through them we have decided that we will rearrange the brick-saw box to carry its own stock of FFP3 masks. The normal PPE stock will be a minimum of FFP2 (depending on what we can source). Both the normal PPE stock and the brick-saw box have been labeled clearly. Mike Palmer
Summer Canal Camps Preview Part 2: July 25 onwards...
But first, here’s a late addition to the info we gave you last time on the first part of the programme. Here’s Frank Wallder with details of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal camps on 9-16 July and 16-23 July: Mon & Brec camps have been deservedly popular for many years now - we have looked after them and they have looked after us. The work is reinstating Locks on the closed Cwmbran section of the canal above Newport - a very attractive area. We are working on two locks which will help bridge the gap between the restored sections on the lower reaches and the beautiful and thriving open section leading all the way to Brecon. Tasks include some scrub bashing, pointing and other repairs. We have the usual mixed lot of volunteers so far, so we’re looking to recruit some experienced and ticketed Chainsaw and Digger operatives for the specialist tasks local Richard requires. Accommodation once again is at one of our favourite venues near one of our favourite pubs in Crosskeys. One or two extras this year with a lime mortar course available on each Monday and we are attending Cwmbran’s BIG EVENT to help publicise the importance of the canal restoration. If any of week ones intake can stay a day longer or week twos come a day early we’ll be pleased to have you - more details when you book on. On to 25 July - 3 August and there’s a bit of a shake-up this year. The IWA National Festival has been brought forward from its usual late August slot. But as usual we’ll be supporting it with a Site Services camp and here’s leader Ali Moore to tell you about it... This camp boasts the unique feature of navigable canal with 350 boats on it. This year’s Waterways Festival will be in Burton on Trent, a town responsible for 3 key ingredients in any camp kitchen: Marmite, Branston Pickle and Marston’s Pedigree beer. We will be at the heart of the volunteer team that runs the event and creates a great time for around 30,000 visitors. The work will be the usual eclectic mix of jobs needed to set up and take down the Festival, which will include fencing, signage, car parking, digging in cables, setting out tables... interspersed with ice cream, beer tents and Ferris wheels. It’s a rewarding experience as you get to see the whole thing through from start to finish, with lots of laughs along the way. Then it’s back to canal restoration work, and on 6-13 August we’re off to the Cotswold Canals to put the finishing touches on Eisey Lock. Over to Bill Nicholson... We started work on this lock in February 2008 and this will be our fourth consecutive NWPG camp at this site. This really will be the last camp held here and our work will be to complete the last of the bricklaying on the lower end walls of the lock and to install coping stones on the tops of the walls. There will be landscaping and levelling and a general tidying of the site. We can offer training in brick laying, mortar mixing and dumper driving. Accommodation will be in the attractive village of Ashton Keynes where the hall is next door to the village pub. Showers will be provided at the cricket club and we will plan a range of evening entertainments. I look forward to welcoming both old friends and especially anyone thinking of trying out canal restoration for the first time. Anyone wanting to be part of the end and the beginning of a project on the same canal could do two weeks – Camp 13 at Eisey (the end?) and Camp 15 at Inglesham (the beginning). Speaking of which, let’s hear from Martin Thompson about what’s happening at Inglesham Lock on the Cotswold Canals on the first of three camps there on 13-20 August... You can tell your grand children “I was there when the restoration of Inglesham Lock, the key eastern gateway to the outstanding Cotswold Canal, was started.” WRG Forestry preparations and the initial exploratory works have been done, but this is the real thing, it’s Show Time. Like with most entertainment productions the script is being modified as time progresses but what there will be is full clearance of the forebay area of silt & debris to form a temporary bund for a settling lagoon for the de-watering of the lock which follows on from forming a temporary earth dam just beyond the tail of the lock. Once clear of water the removal of the coping stones, and lock clearance can begin. Also in the script is demolition
Lots more canal camps!
of much of the fore bay walls, paddle holes and entrance to the spill way. Throw in a full clearance of the spill way to determine the full extent of its construction before it is covered with a protective layer of polythene sheet and a thick layer of soil as it forms the project access to the fore bay, probable water main diversion and permissions / funding allowing there may just be a small landing stage to be sheet piled and constructed. How can so much be done in a week I hear you say? I can’t it has to be spread over the three episodes of the 2011 Inglesham summer camps. More episodes have been commissioned subject to funding. Accommodation (subject to confirmation) is a village hall at Kempsford approx. 4 miles from site, and ‘The George’ pub is within easy walking distance. ‘The George Rogers’ is assisting on week 1, and cooking for us will be Mandy Morley. So if you like a ‘do it yourself’ reality programme maybe with a bit of real life drama, comedy, and an odd bit of musical thrown in or maybe a ‘fly on the lock’ documentary, Inglesham 2011 is your canal site of choice. OK I think Martin’s filled us in with enough info to cover all the Inglesham camps, but let’s just hear a few words from Helena Howarth, Inglesham Lock awaits our attention assistant on 27 August - 3 September... The 3rd week of Inglesham will be ably led by Nigel Lee with me as assistant. The cooks are Sophie and Krzysiek who, respectively, bring the ability to provide decent food for the vegetarians and a bit of foreign flair to the camp! In the evenings we expect to provide the normal plethora of social activities including visits to the pub, cinema, bowling alley and local swimming pool for those who wish to partake. There will also be various jigsaws etc. back at base for those enthusiastic volunteers who find themselves too knackered to leave the hall at the end of a day on site. Who cares about the social side, “What is the work?” I hear you cry! - Well... this will, to a certain extent, be a magical mystery tour. Broadly the work is ‘restoring Inglesham Lock’, however the exact nature of this depends on how hard the volunteers work in weeks one and two. Despite the handicap of having little knowledge of what we will actually be doing Nigel has already lured in over 14 volunteers with a nice mix between new faces and old hands from London WRG - so if you want a place book on now!! But it’s not all about the Cotswold Canals. While all this is happening down south, up on the North Wales borders we’ve got four weeks of camps at our old favourite site on the Montgomery Canal. Starting with a camp on 6-13 August that’s already full up so let’s hear fro Helen Gardner about the second camp, which runs from 13-20 August... The second week of the Mont will be led confusingly by Helen Gardner and Helen Temple but to make it easier you can call them Bush and Long Tall. Cooking will be done by Dr. Nina Whiteman and Michael. They don’t have any other names. The Mont is always delightful and green (for that read ‘rains a lot’) but this year it’s getting more exciting and we will actually be ‘building’ and ‘paving the wave in canal engineering’. Quick, quick, join us before it’s finished! Finally, over to Becky Parr: what’s happening on the Mont on 27 August - 3 September? As already documented in Navvies, myself and Nikki Packer are leading the last week of the Mont Summer camps. The work this week will be continuing with testing the methods of the reconstruction of the canal bed, tying up loose ends and finishing up. But in true WRG style the list of jobs will grow each minute, so the work will be varied and interesting. Joining our multi talented team will be gorgeous Lou Kellet cooking the best food this side of the Grand Union and the amazing Steve Bayliss as MUP. We will also be taking advantage of all the glamorous opportunities which Oswestry has to offer by way of evening entertainment. And of course Uno will make an appearance! For those of you who have been on a Parr ’n’ Packer camp before and lived to tell the tale, then we can promise you more of the same. For those of you who have never been on a Parr ’n’ Packer camp before, then don’t listen to a word ‘they’ say - it’s all lies! The Mont project is something that we are both really pleased to be involved with, and if you want to be part of history in the making, then book on!
Fundraising Race Night for the Inglesham Lock Appeal, 23 July You’ll have seen quite a bit on the last couple of pages about how much work we’re planning to do at Inglesham Lock on the Cotswold Canals - but there’s just one small issue. Somebody needs to raise the money to pay for all the kit and materials for us to do it. So that’s what the IWA’s £125,000 Inglesham Lock Appeal is for. And in support of the appeal, we’re having a fundraising Race Night: just like going to the races for real, with betting and prizes for the winners, but all the action takes place on a screen. Here’s Jude Palmer with more... Come to the IWA National Restoration Appeal Race Night on Saturday 23 July, 7.00 for 7.30 pm dinner, followed by races. It’s at the WRG accommodation at the National Waterways Festival Site at Shobnall Fields, Burton-upon-Trent, DE14 2BB. Join us for a night of “Gee-Gees, Great Grub and Giggles” Tickets £6 each, to include a fabulous WRG kitchen supper. Please bring your own beverage of choice - we can provide mugs for drinking in true WRG style! Whether you can come along on the night or not, how about joining in the fundraising fun by sponsoring: One of the 8 races on the night (min £50) - race sponsors get to name their race and sit in the “Royal Box” whilst watching their race, enjoying Bubbles and Nibbles courtesy of the WRG kitchen A horse (£10) - Name your nag and if it’s a winner you win too at odds of 3-1 If you would like to sponsor a race or horse, please contact me via email email@example.com or 07739 045326. All cheques for sponsorship need to be made payable to WRG and sent to: Jude Palmer: 3 Finwood Road, Rowington, Warks, CV35 7DH. To buy tickets for the evening (tickets will need to be shown on the night in order to gain access to the race night) please contact Jenny Black at IWA Head Office on 01494 783453, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can buy direct from the online IWA Shop at: www.waterways.org.uk Jude Palmer
The Pete Redway Memorial Dig 8 – 9 October On the 8th and 9th of October 2011, instead of the normal Bonfire Bash, WRG will be holding a memorial dig on the Basingstoke Canal, in memory of Pete Redway, longstanding Surrey & Hants Canal Society (SHCS) Chairman and Working Party Organiser who died earlier this year. Pete was a leading light on the waterways, he led from the front, mixing concrete, laying in pipes etc. Over the years he started to slow down, which was natural, but with his infectious laugh he would still be there with the smiling face. The Basingstoke Canal has had its share of problems, what with water shortage, Council Grants etc, so the intention of the Memorial Dig is that on both Saturday and Sunday, SHCS will be trying to get the press and the Councils involved, while WRG and the local volunteers will do what we are good at, and that is hard work. Plans are still being worked on and site meetings pending, but this is to say that SHCS are looking for those jobs that need doing. As I write this some work has already been identified, but WRG has suggested to SHCS that we will work the whole length of the canal, so the work might be anything - or example filling in holes in a lock, it could be a couple of bricks or it could be several long courses that need to be added; another job outstanding is replacing the lock ladders on several locks. Saturday Evening is a tricky one. Perhaps I might be able to persuade Martin Ludgate to do a light hearted view of the Basingstoke Canal and SHCS and see if a barrel of beer or two could be arranged? I’m sure I would know what Pete would have wanted. Now how does this affect you the volunteer? We need you to confirm that you are coming; it will be the normal turn up Friday and on Site Sat and Sun. But if you can only do a day or part day, you are still welcome. Several people have already said that they will help me in sorting out work parties and leading etc, we possibly could do with more volunteers to lead a team. Catering: at the moment I have not approached anyone yet, but they nearly always need people to help, so perhaps if you cannot go on site, could you help in the kitchen? Accommodation is still to be sorted, but hoping for a school. As soon as we have more info we’ll get something on the Website so you can see how things are going. Please book on via Head Office online or using the form in the next issue. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden
As a three-year lock rebuilding project nears completion, Gary Summers reports from Eisey...
Camp Report Easter on the Cotswolds
Camp 2011-02: 16-25 April Easter on the Cotswold Canals “The resurrection of Eisey lock continues”
bottom lock gate recesses. So we needed bricklayers for the main build; we needed a lock preparation team to pump out the lock, reposition the scaffolding and clean & tidy the existing brickwork to key into; and we needed a supply team to provide bricks, lime mortar and cut bricks to keep the brickies going. The job at Inglesham was primarily to create a hardcore based trackway to facilitate solid access to the working site and hopefully provide an apron to park and turn vehicles. For this we needed hardcore: bricks and fines extracted from the dig at Eisey; and we needed to get it there – by van and trailer. Luckily for me, we had a very experienced team. Rob Brotherston, Steve Baylis, John Hawkins and Frank Wallder (yes, he is still going) made up the key bricklaying team, which was ably supported and supplied by Jamie Curtis, Richard Thomas, Rod Gray and WRG camp addict George Rogers. Kimm “the shovel” Wainwright was the main man on the mixer for the entire camp; and Peter Foord was the ‘maintenance man’ who
The Leader was ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson and it was my first in the role of Assistant Leader. I had previously been on digs with Martin so we already knew each other quite well. I was a little apprehensive but I knew I had a good working knowledge of the vehicles, kit and plant; I had been on plenty of previous digs and camps, so I knew the basic WRG camp process; and I had previously worked at both sites, so I had already met several of the locals from the Cotswold Canals Trust. Martin said that the camp would be slightly unusual because it was a ten day-camp over Easter, personnel numbers would fluctuate and there would be two sites to manage instead of one, with some enabling works to do at the IWA National Appeal site at Inglesham Lock. The accommodation was the picturesque village of Ashton Keynes and we arranged to meet at mid-day on day 1. Just as I arrived, Martin called me and said he was delayed due to ‘van problems’. Something called an EGR valve needed replacing and another little job was found at the same time. He eventually pitched up and all was well. I thought to myself: excellent, we’ve got the mechanical failure out of the way already and no volunteers have arrived yet! We soon collected the other van and the kit trailer from its temporary home at RAF Fairford and visited both sites for a quick recce. The job at Eisey was to start building up the Upper gate recess wall nearing completion brickwork that included the
help and so usually they come and find you. All Assistant Leaders need one because they constitute back-up “plan B” – a person who can be consulted with on difficult decision making, delegated to for specific jobs and most importantly, can be placed in charge when the Assistant is on a driving job or some other off-site task. My MUP was John Hawkins – the Grand Master of MUPs. He cooks, cleans, drives the van and the trailer, knows all the kit backwards and inside out, expert bricklayer trowel hand [RAF Martin’s edit], plant operator, teacher and trainer, mentor, adviser and first to volunteer as duty driver. So, as the camp progressed the weather got hotter and hotter. Sunscreen & block applied in copious quantities in April – unbelievable! The pile of bricks got smaller and smaller. The hardcore piles at Eisey gradually disappeared as they were transported to Inglesham. The brickies cracked onwards and upwards. It got so hot that bricky Rob Brotherston actually took his coat off for three consecutive days and his jumper as well for one of them! Frank did plenty of laying too – ‘laying down’ according to Rob (but he was only joking!) At Inglesham, we finally got to the point where we could engage Digger who promptly arrived, fired up ‘Blue’ the excavator and expertly carved out the trackway and backfilled the hardcore. Meanwhile, Simon polished off the strimming (including Martin’s beloved Rhubarb by mistake – sorry boss!) and installed a fence line with wooden stakes and the ‘cyberman post bonker’. Tasterella Val and friend Ian Meanwhile at Inglesham: improving the trackway joined the team for the final few days, as did our ‘jewel from the Orient’ Alice Li, who turned up with her ‘recycled’ bike made from lots of bits from other bikes. I asked why she brought her bike with her and she beamed a huge smile and said: “I’m from China, everyone has a bike!” Ultimately when she left, she cycled 8 miles from Ashton Keynes to Swindon station with just a handful of google earth aerial photographs for reference – I can’t believe she made it home. I learned two other lessons. Firstly, if you keep the van keys in Important stuff: the food the flight case then make sure the Alice Jiaxin Li
Alice Jiaxin Li
kept the ‘machine’ oiled by ensuring the site was kept clean & tidy, fetching & carrying, chaperoning visitors and generally making sure the brew-station was up to speed. Rookie Simon Everitt also made a huge contribution. A country estate hand, fit and strong and a fully qualified brushcutter - just what we needed to strim the Inglesham site and load / unload the trailer. Alan Lines joined us for the first weekend and ‘Sleepy’ David Miller did both weekends driving the dumper and laying coping stones. Every camp needs two very important team members: the cook and the MUP. Debbie Curtis did the cooking for the first week and George took over for the final weekend - excellent cuisine from start to finish. The MUP is the Most Useful Person. There are many of these throughout the WRG network. They are experienced hands who have a vast array of knowledge about almost everything. They are easy to identify and easy to find because more often than not, they recognise when you need a bit of
“If you keep the van keys in the flight case, then make sure the second van to leave site has the flight case...”
Camp Report ...plus Gary’s Top Ten Tips
second van to leave site has the flight case. We were delayed one night and I decided to take a full van back so that a shower run could be done in the meantime. Unfortunately, I also took the flight case which contained the keys to the other van, leaving Martin, John and Rob stranded on site with the midges biting – sorry chaps! Keys can be a nightmare all round: van keys, CCT keys, WRG keys, accommodation keys, shower keys, site keys, gate keys – they all need managing! Secondly, if you ever get asked to go food shopping for the cook, make sure you understand exactly what is required. I read ‘3 packs of bacon (18)’ as a request for 54
rashers, so I bought two packs of 32 totalling 64. In fact George wanted 3 packs of 6, being 18 rashers in total. I now know every bacon joke that’s ever been written. By the end of the camp we had achieved more than Martin had planned for and we had also found time to do lots of other things too. We helped a stranded boater wind his boat at Inglesham. We invited Rachael Banyard to visit Eisey and train Rod on the dumper. Steve’s wife Michelle paid us a visit so that she too could get her dumper ticket. We introduced a couple of students to WRG camps and gave them a day’s experience – Danish Joanna and Kiwi Storm who were staying with Steve and
Gary’s Top Ten Tips for all rookie assistant leaders Come on all you budding WRGies who fancy a bash at Assisting. Now is the time to start planning so that you can volunteer for next summer. It’s great fun and immensely rewarding so go for it! Here’s your starting point... 1 Pair up with an experienced Leader who you already get on well with. 2 Go digging on a regular basis with local groups. I dig with London WRG and KESCRG. Both groups are packed with experienced WRGies who you can learn from very easily. You need to have a good working knowledge of the kit, the vehicles, small plant and the basic WRG camp process. You can then focus solely on climbing the Assistant Leader learning curve. 3 Make sure you have a MUP (‘Most Useful Person’ - an experienced volunteer who can lend a hand or give advice when needed) on the camp. They will be a vital source of help and support. 4 The most important people on every camp are the volunteers who do the work. So make sure they are kept safe, fed & watered and properly rested. Make sure the tools are available and the plant is well maintained and fuelled, ready to go when needed. 5 You are the number 2, so expect plenty of craic and mickey taking at your expense. Join in when you can and admit your mistakes. A happy team is a safe and productive team. 6 Look after the cook. If the cook has a problem, then fix it! 7 Keep an eye on the less experienced volunteers. Take extra time to explain things and try and teach them if you can because they will get more out of the camp. 8 Try and be efficient by combining tasks. For example, if you have to make a van journey (say, to collect someone from a station) then do some shopping and top up the fuel cans and van at the same time. 9 You will have to fix problems and this is where you need to tune in. Fix problems as quickly as you can and minimise down-time. If the solution is not obvious then think “Chinese Parliament”. Ask all the volunteers for their opinion and get a consensus before you act. 10 Try and identify any volunteers who you think may not be best suited to physical work or technical tasks. They may not enjoy this aspect and instead are ideal for performing a large number of smaller, simpler tasks that keep the site safe, clean, tidy and efficient, such as managing the brew station, keeping track of tools, supervising others and acting as a banksman. Remember volunteers are volunteers so make sure they are doing something that they are suitable for and happy doing. 10½ [Added by RAF Martin] Don’t forget where the keys are!
Above: the supply team keeps the bricks coming. Below: last major job - the lock tail wall rebuilding in progress
Alice Jiaxin Li
Michelle whilst studying in England. We facilitated a visit of IWA members at both sites which they all appeared to enjoy – despite the hot weather and the mandatory hard hat wearing. We carried out a PPE stock-take for chairman MKP. We had a BBQ with fireworks hosted by local CCT stalwart ‘B&B Karen’ and her partner ‘Black Country John’. We visited the famous Tunnel Inn at Sapperton as well as both the local hostelries for ale-supping. Of course, it was all made possible by the support of our local CCT project manager Jon Pontefract and the WRG team. There is a lot of planning to do before the camp and a lot of finishing off afterwards. There is the admin to do and the health & safety to cover. There is the logistics of moving kit and vans. There is the liaison with the local canal society and the landowners to consider, as well as the accommodation to manage. It helps immensely if the Leader is not only a good leader but also a thoroughly good bloke. Martin is exactly that so thanks Martin for making my first camp as Assistant a fantastic experience and many thanks to all the team. Gary Summers
“There is the sense of anticipation as, whilst pulling the rope back, you feel a slight tug – is there something there?”
Cleanup Report ...from the BCN
you find you have a truck tyre, or something similarly sized, other times more people are Ahh, the joys of the BCN (or the Birmingham needed. Canal Navigations for the uninitiated)! It’s This year several of the larger team almost enough to make you think that fisher- efforts resulted in motorbikes and large men aren’t all that crazy after all. There is a sections of fencing emerging from bridge certain satisfaction, after all, to throwing holes. Other more unique finds were the one’s grappling hook as far across the water- base of a trailer and a railway track mainteway as possible, of hearing the splash as it nance trolley. However the triumph of the drops into the water and then slowly drawing weekend had to be the 16 shopping trolleys it back in. There is also the sense of anticichained together from a Kwik Save that the pation as, whilst pulling the rope back, you locals say stopped trading five years ago! feel a slight tug – is there something there? The trolleys may also have been in the Nothing comes of that throw but you cast canal the longest. Who knows – everything again; aiming for the same spot and hoping for a better bite. This time it catches and you pull harder, eventually you feel movement and bubbles emerge. What could it be? For a single person pull the ubiquitous “carrier bag full of canal sludge” is the most common answer, closely followed by “tree branch” but it is the rarer finds the WRGies are after – the shopping trolleys and tyres, jeans and tshirts, the prams and bicycles! Yet these are still not what pulls us in – it’s the one-off finds that are the real draw for the solitary grappling-hook fisher. This year these rarities included an electric Burco, and a calor gas bottle from one-person pulls, but the true finds were those where you got your grappling hook firmly attached and pulled, yet nothing happened... Here the camaraderie of WRG is at its best – friends and strangers up and down the canal bank abandon their solitary work and come to your aid. Some pull on your rope, others try get their own purchase on your mystery object. Sometimes just one extra person is needed and ‘It’s the one-off finds that are the real draw’ - such as this sword! Martin Ludgate
BCN Cleanup: April 2011
“...some things are certain – Nigel will get the first trolley, you will smell terrible, and Moose and Tim will volunteer as the zone leaders”
...from the BCN
My thanks go to: Aileen for organising the weekend,
. . the BW boat drivers who put in a lot of .
work loading the stuff we dragged out into the work boat and away (thus preventing the locals from just chucking it straight back in overnight), Tim and Moose for being the zone leaders (and hence in charge of anything sharp or dead we might find)
. Maria and Katie for cooking, and . all the drivers
looks the same covered in BCN slime; the smell of which still hasn’t come fully out of my coat some 3 months later! Every year is different, yet some things are certain – Nigel will get the first trolley, you will smell terrible and Moose and Tim will volunteer as the zone leaders. All else differs though as its impossible to determine what objects someone will have felt belonged in the cut. This year our novel feature was a TNT lorry tipping off the motorway and depositing several tonnes of paper into the canal the night before (and they had the temerity to want it back)! Who knows what next year will bring? Even the evening activities back at the accommodation can afford some level of mystery. I have never before witnessed a crocheting lesson on a dig nor had to go through a door stating “Beware forklift trucks in operation” to go to the bathroom! Another novelty was the sheer number of sleeping rooms to choose from and the real possibility of getting lost between your bed and the toilet. Apart from this it was a lovely accommodation and one to which I would happily return – and I hope others will too.
Left: this year’s trophies included this 1970s toilet in a delightful shade of aubergine. Above: Claire throws in her grappling hook and pulls out... a grappling hook!
Martin Ludgate Martin Ludgate Rachel Petrie
Left: Paul slings his hook Above: another load of junk heads for the skips Right: Team WRG prepares for 2012 Below: all-time record: 16 Kwik Save trolleys all still attached to each other - 5 years after the shop closed
WRG at 40 Forty views for forty years
“There’s a bit of a story as to how I met Eddie Jones and it involves him not realising I was in the back of his Land Rover...” - MK2
40 Views for 40 Years The ninth in a series of articles to celebrate WRG’s 40th(-ish) birthday by capturing the views of people who have been involved in various capacities. And back we zoom to more recent times to interview Mr Mark ‘MK2’ Richardson – as likely to be spotted under an old vehicle as on a dig. A KESCRG and canal camps regular; probably the most prepared interviewee in this series so far.
Q: How and when did you first get involved in canal restoration?
A: It’s a funny story really because I’ve been involved with canals i.e. floating on top of them (with a boat in between) since about 1985 when I first had a boating holiday. Boating on and off for over 20 years was mostly with the parents; we hired and then they had a timeshare and then they bought their own boat. And for some reason the invite to go boating stopped. I’d become aware of WRG from a couple of times of going to the National Festival – specifically to the beer tent – to have a bit of a birthday celebration (it was a good way of meeting up with my parents – they used to invite me to the National). I used to see the WRGies going past of course. My first recollection of seeing WRGies was probably Worcester (I used to live in Droitwich). Shortly after that, bearing in mind I lived in Droitwich and my local was The Railway, the bar of the The Railway was completely full of WRGies and KESCRGies one night and I got talking to Ken Parish. I said ‘I’m interested in canals, tell me all about this restoration thing then’ – so he did. And that put me off for another 3 years. But once the parents bought their boat I thought ‘I need something to keep me with waterways – I’ll volunteer’. The coincidence factor at that point – I was working in Milton Keynes – that was 2001 and the National was at Milton Keynes. I had the great pleasure of telling my colleagues, when I was taking a holiday - which was for the first time in the two years any of them had known me, “where are you going?” – “Milton Keynes”.
Q: You booked onto the camp - what did you think? A: I was absolutely blown away – I didn’t know what to expect. I was changing as a person at the time – the old me wouldn’t have gone – the new me was thinking ‘I’ll just go in feet first and see what happens’. I got out of the car (I had shorts on); at that point it started raining. I looked at my legs and thought ‘yep that’s your fault’. There was a great big sign and it said: ‘Welcome to Andi and Izzy’s camp. 1. Smile. 2. Wear shorts. 3. Book in with Matt’. I collared the first person I saw and said “I’m smiling – I’ve got shorts on, I need to book in with Matt”. This voice from inside growled “I’m Matt”. Of course we couldn’t do anything so they arranged for us to have a site tour, Helen ‘the Purple Fairy’ Dobbie came along and gave us a tour. I thought “this is the National from the other side – I like this”. I had another reason for booking on the camp: I wanted to lose my 30th birthday. I was having difficulty facing it at the time. And of course that was a big mistake to do a canal camp over your birthday because the leaders have your date of birth on the booking information. Everyone made an enormous fuss of me and I have a card signed by everyone on the camp – it’s probably got about 200 signatures on it.
Q: What did you do after that? A: During the camp I made friends with a number of people who dug for London WRG and KESCRG –
you know what they’re like when it comes to recruitment and they got me into going to digs. One of the next couple of things I did, other than a few London WRG digs (mainly cos I’d made friends with Ed Walker) was then go and do a load more site services. I ended up the following year on Saul Junction – where I think we had a different accommodation and a different take away every night. I did the BCN cleanup before that. I didn’t finally get on a restoration camp until 2003 I think. But a lot of London WRG digs in between – I used to go to every London WRG dig.
Q: What made you keep coming back then? A: In all honesty the people. I think Jude said something like this when you interviewed her. You think your social life is out there but you’ve never found it. That’s what it was when I started digging; I was suddenly with (don’t take this the wrong way) my kind of people. People out there are probably thinking “Mark you’re not like any of us”. Where it wasn’t so desperately uncool to be a bit of an anorak and where also I could acquire some practical skills. I have a father who is extremely practically skilled and shall we say, not the most trusting person when it comes to letting me loose with any kind of tool. I never acquired any practical skills in my youth so it was a good opportunity. The main reason was the people.
Q: You got a bit more involved with KESCRG? A: Again because of people; I met Ian and Dr Liz and I met Eddie Jones. There’s a bit of a story as to how I met Eddie Jones and it involves him not realising I was in the back of his Land Rover. I met those people and they are incredibly enthusiastic – my kind of people – so that got me into KESCRG. That would have been about the time that Ian was becoming chairman after Ken and I was involved then in Ian’s first committee. I became the secretary.
Q: How did you meet Dr Liz? A: You’ll be unsurprised to learn that people often say “where did you find him?” to Dr Liz and Dr Liz has a good answer: “under my Mini”. I’m a Mini enthusiast and I can’t walk past one without giving it a good old poke and prod. I was under Dr Liz’s Mini finding out that the rear subframe was a bit bent and it was parked up outside the National tent at Milton Keynes and Dr Liz came along and asked me what the heck I was doing.
Q: What kinds of things have you done with KESCRG? A: Lots and lots of digs and four of the best camps that I’ve ever done. We did two sets of two restoration camps – first on the Mon and Brec and then the Wey & Arun. I love both of those sites dearly – not least because we did so much to them. The Wey & Arun one was a very, very big quite technical job and for someone who is not big and technical to be a really integral part of that made me realise what I liked about that team.
Q: You’ve done KESCRG camps and ‘normal’ camps – how do the KESCRG camps differ if at all? A: Actually not at all, because they are effectively run the same way as canal camps. Generally a red kit trailer goes as well as the green trailer. There is the old KESCRG family atmosphere plus a smattering of newbies some of which we’ve hung on to over the years. Otherwise not a great deal of difference except that it comes with an extra set of kit and Eddie with Land Rover and even more kit. Q: What are you most proud of? A: Number 1. Actually getting practical skills - you may laugh at this but getting common sense. I absolutely love operating dumper trucks – I make no secret of that. That’s very personal – that aside – the other thing: I went to the opening of the new lock at Loxwood and it was a very long way to go and I’m very glad I did it. I felt an amazing sense of pride as the lock gates opened and the trip boat went in (not that it had anywhere to go the other side of the lock you understand). As the water came out of the paddle culvert I thought – I cast those – THAT was brilliant – Loxwood new lock and Brewhurst lock – my involvement with those is something I’m very proud of. [Post interview note sent through by Mark: I need to add a correction to something I said: I did not cast the paddle culvert on Loxwood New Lock on the W&A; I built the formwork for the casting, which was done by a subsequent Camp. That said, thereby hangs a good DYRW tale! Finding the Trust to be unusually short of materials for the formwork – which itself was a rather tortuous shape – I had to scour the site. Every last piece of plywood and several liberated spot boards later, I had my form built and earned myself the Comedy Carpentry
award from leader Ian W. This being put in place, with shuttering around it, attention turned to how we would provide the matching one, for the other side, for the next Camp to build and install. Dr. Liz and I had the idea to build it in flat-pack, so (once someone had been to the timberyard, obviously!) this we did, leaving the cut pieces in a neat stack on the lock floor, complete with an IKEA-style pictographic instruction sheet!].
Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement has been? A: Staying power. Becoming progressively more and more organised. Spotting the opportunity that canal camps have meant to both people who do them and the getting the work done. And despite everything I’ve just said remaining true to the original vision in some way or other. You can still feel, not that I ever knew him, Graham Palmer’s DNA running through the organisation.
Q: And on the flip side - what is WRG not quite so good at? A: This is a difficult one and I even thought of an answer for this one which has now, needless to say vanished out of my head. Its actual organisation is at times unclear to some of even the regular volunteers. I’m not sure of the purpose and structure of various groups that appear to exist around the organisation. I think the other thing is – I don’t know why we don’t retain people. At the end of the day it’s their choice – it’s their set of reasons. It’s just that a lot of the people that I go digging with are of a similar age to myself, came early and stayed. I came, not particularly early and stayed. We don’t seem to get that particularly from the youngsters. Someone else in one of your interviews has said that it’s something the IWA doesn’t do very well and I agree with that. The IWA does not appeal to young people – WRG needs to be that organisation. I still don’t think it’s getting it – but I’ve no silver bullet.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: Quite a few people – it would be very hard to make a list. Mike and Jude certainly, for so many reasons on so many different levels. And for still managing to have a life – because they do. I admire that enormously. Eddie Jones obviously – what can I say about Eddie Jones? Eddie and Ian’s approach to leadership and getting people involved is something I really look up to. For sheer knowledge and the ability to express it – Martin Ludgate as well.
Q: Which is your favourite derelict canal? A: This is a hard one. There are two I’ve enjoyed working on the most; I really, really like the Wey & Arun - I like the way the locals are organised. I love the countryside down there and the projects we’ve done on there have just been brilliant: they’ve trusted us, they’ve given us the opportunity to do something that’s really quite hard and we’ve done it with all their support. They’re very organised around fundraising – they’re lucky they live in a rich seam down there. The other has got to be the Mon & Brec for two reasons, one it’s beautiful – the Crumlin Arm’s absolutely amazing and to see boats going down 14 locks would just be amazing. The thought that someone going over it, in sight of the locks, on the M4 will not even notice its existence reminds you of the irony of technological achievement. The other reason for liking the Mon & Brec is everyone down there is just so darn friendly.
Q: You’re definitely one of the most prepared people I’ve interviewed, I think you’ve read A: quite a few of the interviews – what have your thoughts been? The first thought is “Oh – I wish I could have seen the really early days”. I would have hated it of course – it wouldn’t have been me at all. I love the only thinly veiled sense of anarchy that pervades the early dig activity – I think that’s brilliant – it’s a big two fingers up to officialdom. It’s interesting to see people’s take on WRG and it’s interesting to see the different reasons why people got involved. I like Jude’s swing getting nicked – that’s brilliant.
Q: What is your classic ‘do you remember the time when?’ story? Normally I say to people ‘well – you need to be in the pub drinking beer’ – but fortunately we are.
A: Yes – takes inspirational slurp [pause to slurp]. I mentioned when I first met Eddie – we still laugh about that one. We were taking things down at Milton Keynes National: Eddie, Daddy Cool and me – there were only two seats up front of Eddie’s old Land Rover LFC, so I hopped into the back under the tilt which was made of a load of old scaffolding poles and clips and some canvas. In the back of Eddies Land Rover, as you would expect, are 18 boxes labelled ‘tools’ and I was on top of these. And as Eddie and Daddy Cool, who were deep in conversation at this point, they saw a great big empty campsite with no fences or
anything in it and gave the old V8 some wallop. We screamed across the campsite and eventually came to rest outside the WRG accommodation whereupon, having been shaken up and down, I virtually fell out the back. At which point Eddie remembered I was in there and looked quite sheepish.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: It’s a very interesting question. My mind isn’t fully made up and I think I’m going to clash with Spencer [Greystrong] here because I do not see, Proud moment: first boat through Loxwood New Lock, Wey & certainly not immediately, WRG as getting involved in running the third sector British Waterways, I really, really don’t. I think it’s very good at what it does - it’s the ‘co-ordinating body for voluntary labour’. Now if a larger proportion of voluntary labour needs to go into running what was British Waterways as a third sector organisation then here we are. I don’t think we should be getting involved in running it, I totally understand Mike’s decision not to apply to be one of the transition trustees – I totally understand that and I’m enjoying reading Mike’s take on that in the chairman’s comments in Navvies. Where do I see us going? Continuing to do canal camps and continuing to do them well. It’s central to what we do, it gets stuff done and it brings people into the movement in some way or another. [Mark remembered about his number plate afterwards so whilst this won’t be on the audio it’s worth putting in print here – and what’s really great is that I didn’t have to type it up: The number plate? Well, I’ve been obsessed with registration marks all my life and have much enjoyed working on DVLA stuff in two separate jobs much to the bemusement of two separate sets of colleagues. When I was acquired by Silver Machine, a German-import Volkswagen camper van of no fixed history, I decided it would look much better with a personalised registration mark, but ‘MAR’ marks are actually quite rare and there aren’t many really old ones. Seeing The WRG Transit ‘EHP’ all new, complete with its ‘D16’ number, gave me another idea, but instead of simply buying D16WRG off the DVLA website, I emailed them and asked that if WRG1E was unused (it would have been a Jan 1st – July 31st 1967 Newcastle issue), could it be included in the next auction? Incidentally, I’d also looked for K35CRG and KE55CRG and neither were available to buy online or at auction, so someone out there already has ’em! The first auction was, bizarrely, scheduled for the middle of a Canal Camp I was booked onto; I borrowed SAD and promptly got so stuck in traffic that I never made it. The number remained unsold (like, nooooo!) so I booked a day off for the next one and was there 1.5hrs early. There were no other bidders (you neverrrr!) and the number ended up on retention for two years and then on Silver Machine about a week before the WRG40 do. Tim Lewis photographed the van whilst I wasn’t looking, uploaded it to Facebook and tagged my name on the picture. If you look carefully, you can see the bow tie I was wearing as a narrator on that evening hanging from the rear view mirror] Mark kindly referred to Spencer Greystrong’s interview, which reminds me to tell you that it is on the WRG website – in case you haven’t read it. Go to ‘WRG at 40’ from the main page. The idea is to put more on the web – when I get the time. Helen Gardner
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun 18/19
Wilts & Berks Canal: Spillweir repair at Dauntsey
Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival: Sales Stand
WRG Training Weekend: Lichfield Canal
To be arranged - possibly Wey & Arun Canal
To be arranged: Tool painting weekend?
Jun 25-Jul 1 Camp 2011-05 Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project at Eisey Lock. Week-long ca Jun 25-Jul 2 Camp 2011-03 CANCELLED - Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: There are still two other Jun 25-Jul 2 Camp 2011-04 Basingstoke Canal: Leader: Paul Shaw, Assistant: Steve O’Neill, Cook: Jun 26 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Bacton Wood Jun 26 Sun wrgNW
Crumpsall Park: Sales Stand (Sun only)
Jul 1 Fri
Droitwich Canal official opening
Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
Camp 2011-06 Chesterfield Canal: Leader: Steve Baylis
Camp 2011-07 River Avon (Warwickshire): Slipway construction. Leader: Ed Walker, A Cook: Harri Barnes.
Camp 2011-08 Chesterfield Canal: Leader: Mike Chase, Cook: Lynne Cater
Camp 2011-09 Mon & Brec Canal
Basingstoke Canal: Probably bank repairs
Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project at Eisey Lock
Jul 16 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Camp 2011-10 Cromford Canal: Leader: George Rogers, Assistant: David Salisbury.
Camp 2011-11 Mon & Brec Canal
Jul 25-Aug 3 Camp 2011-12 National Festival Camp: Setting up the Festival site at Burton on Trent Jul 29-31
IWA National Festival, Burton on Trent: Sales Stand
Jul 30-Aug 6 WACT
Wey & Arun Canal Camp: Organised by WACT
Jul 30 Sat
Committee & Board Meetings: If required, Sat or Sun during Festival
To be arranged
Camp 2011-13 Thames & Severn Canal: Summer Camp at Eisey Lock, led by NWPG.
Camp 2011-14 Montgomery Canal: Leader: Steve Harmes, Assistant: Chris Colbourne,
Wendover Arm: Work week.
Wilts & Berks Canal: Joint dig with KESCRG, Seven Locks flight
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 2011-02' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, email@example.com. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, firstname.lastname@example.org Dave Wedd
mp run by KESCRG.
camps on that week.
Assistant: Richard Worthington,
, Cook: Helen Gardner.
ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
Mobile groups' socials: phone to confirm
London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig. 'Star Tavern', Belgrave Mews West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties end of Friar St. Reading. Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586 Once per month: pls check BCNS BCN waterways Mike Rolfe 07763-171735 2nd Sunday & alternate Thurs BCS Buckingham area Athina Beckett 01908-661217 Anytime inc. weekdays BCT Aqueduct section Gerald Fry 01288-353273 Every Mon and Wed CCT Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby 01453-836018 Every mon am Thu pm CCT Cotswold (E end) John Maxted 01285-861011 Various dates CCT Cotswold Phase 1a Jon Pontefract 07986-351412 Every Sunday ChCT Various sites Mick Hodgetts 01246-620695 Every Tue & Wed C&BN Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale 01376-334896 Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe 0121-608 0296 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Langley Mill Michael Golds 0115-932-8042 Second Sun of month FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech 0116-279-2657 2nd weekend of month GCRS Grantham Canal Ian Wakefield 0115-989-2128 2nd Sat of month GWCT Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd 01823-661653 Tuesdays H&GCT Oxenhall Brian Fox 01432 358628 Weekends H&GCT Over Wharf House Maggie Jones 01452 618010 Wednesdays H&GCT Over Wharf House Wilf Jones 01452 413888 Weekends H&GCT Hereford Aylestone Martin Danks 01432 344488 Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 0161-427 7402 1st & 3rd Sunday KACT Bradford-on-Avon Derrick Hunt 01225-863066 2nd Sunday of month LCT Lancaster N. Reaches Paul Shaw 01524-35685 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat LHCRT Lichfield Sue Williams 01543-671427 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Hatherton Denis Cooper 01543-374370 Last weekend of month MBBCS Creams Paper Mill Steve Dent 07802-973228 Two Sundays per month NWDCT N Walsham Canal David Revill 01603-738648 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Pocklington Canal Paul Waddington 01757-638027 Every Wed and 1st Sat RGT Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird 01394-380765 2nd Sunday of month SCARS Sankey Canal Colin Greenall 01744-731746 1st Sunday of month SCCS Combe Hay Locks Derrick Hunt 01225-863066 Most weekends SHCS Basingstoke Dave Wedd 01252-874437 Last weekend of month SCS Stover Canal George Whitehead 01626-775498 2nd Sunday of month SNT Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby 01522-856810 1st weekend of month SUCS Newhouse Lock Mike Friend 01948-880723 Every Tuesday morning TMCA Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish 01732-823725 Every Sunday & Thurs WACT varied construction Eric Walker 023-9246-3025 Mondays (2 per month) WACT tidying road crossings John Empringham 01483-562657 Wednesdays WACT Tickner's Heath Depot John Smith 01903-235790 Wednesdays WACT maintenance work Peter Jackman 01483-772132 Sundays mainly WACT Loxwood Link Kev Baker 02380-861074 Thursdays WACT Winston Harwood Grp Tony Clear 01903-774301 Various dates WACT Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols 01403-753882 1st w/e (Fri-Tue or Fri-Wed) WAT Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman 01442-874536 2nd Thursday of month WAT Drayton Beauchamp Pete Bowers 01255-504540 Every weekend WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Rachael Banyard 01249-892289 Please send any additions corrections or deletions to diary compiler Dave Wedd (see previous page) Abbreviations used in Diary: LCT Lancaster Canal Trust BCNS Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. LHCRT Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust BCS Buckingham Canal Society MBBCS Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society BCT Bude Canal Trust NWPG Newbury Working Party Group ChCT Chesterfield Canal Trust NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust CBN Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation PCAS Pocklington Canal Amenity Society CCT Cotswolds Canals Trust RGT River Gipping Trust DCT Droitwich Canals Trust SCARS Sankey Canal Restoration Society EAWA East Anglian Waterways Association SCCS Somersetshire Coal Canal Society ECPDA Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. SHCS Surrey & Hants Canal Society FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Trust SCS Stover Canal Society GCRS Grantham Canal Restoration Society SNT Sleaford Navigation Trust GWCT Grand Western Canal Trust SUCS Shropshire Union Canal Society H&GCT Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust TMCA Thames & Medway Canal Association IWPS Inland Waterways Protection Society WACT Wey & Arun Canal Trust KACT Kennet & Avon Canal Trust WAT Wendover Arm Trust KESCRG Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
Dear Editor Response to “A Tale of Two Canals” I seldom get angry but Bill de Lieie’s letter, reproduced in the recent edition of Navvies, left me furious – I don’t know where he had got his information from but the sheer, blatant lies are appalling, insulting and, probably, libellous. The K & A Canal Trust’s over 3000 members have worked for over 60 years to promote, enhance, and protect the Canal, and since the completion of the HLF grant, have continued in so many ways to support this wonderful waterway and its associated infrastructure. In the very week that, after tireless campaigning, the K&A has finally been re-classified as a “Cruiseway”, the hurtful comments are even more galling. We are well aware that the decreasing grant to BW has made it very difficult for them to maintain the canal in the condition it deserves to be, but we work tirelessly alongside BW to help where appropriate. We also aim to do things which they cannot do. We thus maintain and run the world’s leading beam-engine based pumping station at Crofton and the unique water-driven pump at Claverton, and we run the canal’s archives and a lovely museum. To help expose the general public to the canal (and generate funding to support all the other things we do) we operate four public trip boats. We produce a widely-distributed, award-winning, K&Aspecific magazine which, in addition to keeping our members up-to-date, helps attract many visitors to the waterways – indeed over 11 million visitors last year. (The “Butty” and our website, incidentally, are edited by folk who have owned a boat on the K&A for 5 years now!) The guys who restored a BW work boat, and now run 3 or 4 days each week cutting back vegetation, will find Bill’s comments laughable, as will the regular work parties operating out of Bradford-on-Avon and now Reading, or the guys who have done so much to improve the towpath etc in Bath. And what about the team who are about to complete the restoration of the Burbage Crane? And all the above is done through the amazing efforts of over 400 active volunteers. Now, how about our Trustees who are said by Bill to be non-canal people? Well, as the chairman, I have been boating for 25 years, have travelled most of the system, and for 15 years have owned and maintained my own narrow boat. I am also a professional engineer and I am about to undertake my MCA skippers test. Our Hon Treasurer is, as one would expect, an accountant but just happens to live on her own boat. Our Trustee responsible for administration has owned her own boat for many years and has been a senior member of national boating organisations, as well as her local boat club. She is now also a qualified skipper on our Trip Boats. Our Hon Secretary worked his way up from being a BW lengthsman to running part of the HLF restoration grant. He is acknowledged as one of the UK’s experts on canals. He was more than part of the restoration group – he led much of it! Our trustee responsible for our heritage work, besides being a qualified archaeologist, also has his own canal boat. And our technical expert trustee is one of the acknowledged heroes of the K&A, having run boating businesses on the K&A since he was a teenager – only recently has he sold his 3 marinas!!! He was also part of the restoration group, as was our Reading-based trustee, a transport expert, who has been working on the canal restoration for many many years. All our Trustees are, of course, unpaid volunteers. Staffing and pen-pushers? We have an annual turnover of about £600,000 per year and if someone can find volunteers to do all the associated administration, please tell us! We thus employ a part-time general secretary to do the day-to day management, and an office administrator to handle membership, recruitment, retention, etc. (Both these folk, incidentally, live on their own boats!!) We have a part time bookkeeper and a part time person who both looks after the Devizes shop (also volunteer run) and stocks up our seven other outlets and boats. Crofton has a seasonal caretaker and café manager (hey, they also own a narrow boat!) and this allows us now to keep this precious and very popular site open 7 days a week. You cannot expect volunteers to do all this. So, before you spread lies about the K&A Canal Trust, please get your facts right. A published apology is in order here. Mike Rodd Chairman, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Council
Dear Editor I welcome the debate opened by Bill de Leie but his comparison of the K&A with the Shropshire Union may not be a good one. As I understand it the SU was never derelict, and thus the SUCS, at least for the main line and the Llangollen, have never had anything to do but provide new facilities etc. The Montgomery is a work in progress (and stalled) while the Shrewsbury and Newport Branch of that canal has a separate trust. In contrast, the K&A was completely derelict. In the 1960s, when the Shropshire Union Canal still had some carrying trade, the K&A had been impassable as a through route for some 30 years. Until April 2011 its status was still as a remainder waterway and BW’s remit was merely that of ‘public safety’. The K&ACT (& its predecessor) succeeded in reopening and keeping open a waterway which had no legal status, and turning it into one of the most popular waterways in the country. Its recent elevation to cruiseway status means that maintenance to navigable standards is now a statutory responsibility and the trust can begin to develop further initiatives beyond simply keeping the canal open. As someone who has a boat on the K&A and lives close by, I do not recognise the overall picture of the canal painted by Bill, I see no signs of it ‘sliding towards dereliction’ and his ‘sunken boats’ are a rarity. This, however, should not obscure his main point which is how important it is to get a good balance of people on committees. Most of the people who restored the Kennet & Avon Canal have probably moved on to restoring heavenly gates instead of lock gates, hence are no longer available for service on committees. To get sufficient volunteers with the right skills is a problem for us all. I am not from any of the backgrounds Bill mentions, being a former Contracts Manager in the engineering industry, but I have volunteered as the Working Party Organiser, Bradford on Avon Branch of the K&ACT. There is no point in me trying to enhance my CV anymore, mainly because I have given up paid work, and I should say that it has given me up as well. We never got on that well anyway. We don’t cut the grass to 0.039370078 of an inch (I haven’t gone metric yet ) or paint gates or whitewash stones, and neither does BW - but we do have access to a BW work boat and have recently put in 70 volunteer days over a three week period clearing the offside vegetation between Bradford on Avon and Bath. I am sure the editor will receive many other letters, some of which may suggest that Bill de Leie should be put in a ducking stool or a similar sounding device, but we can promise him a much more civilised welcome than that if would like to put his enthusiasm into practice and join our work parties on the K&A near Bradford. We are borrowing a work boat from BW for three weeks in October 2011 and we meet on the first Sunday and third Thursday of each month. Derrick Hunt Tel: 01225 863066, email@example.com Well, Martin... I think that the publishing of the offensive letter of Bill de Leie is a big error. I know that WRG has a reputation of publishing anything but as editor you have to stop somewhere, this letter has caused much anger and resentment. There are some points such as heavy lock gear and a number of other points that are agreed by many of the K & A members and boat owners and even BW, but the rantings of Mr Leie’s seem to me to be from a deranged mind. Here I refer to his insulting and offensive comments on the efforts of the K&A Trust (not Society) and it’s ‘Committee’ er, which one does he refer to, Reading, Newbury, Or perhaps one of the 5 other Branches? Oh, I see, perhaps he means the Trust ‘Council’. As to his comments on the content and the morals of the Trust Council, well:(1) we do have some of the members of the original Restoration Team. (2) we do have what I assume this nitwit calls ‘’Paper Pushers’’ at Devizes, 3, of which 2 are part time. I think that the EU has a few more than that! (3) Yes we do have various ‘professionals’, he has got that right. It does however include one of the original canal society leading lights, oh Dear he’s got something else wrong. I think that if anyone was excluded from voluntary membership of a canal society or trust on their past or present employment, the canal movement would be in a very poor state indeed. Oh shock
horror. WRG has some policemen and solicitors on the books, shall we ban them? (4) As for the unfortunate remark that ‘they are in it for their own good’, well would you spend a large amount of your spare time instead of playing golf if that’s your interest? I think not. (5) as for the ‘derelict canal’ offering, well he should have been here in 1973 when we first had a boat on the K & A he might play another tune, ask Mark or Nic! (6) We hope that now we are no longer a remainder Canal that our funding will improve and some of the things that we are already aware of will get better. No, dear editor, if only the letter stopped at constructive criticism we could have taken his comments gladly. As it is he has turned his letter into a farce written by a thoughtless nitwit. Thank God that the rest of us are nice cuddly WRG supporters. Mike Bennett K&A/IWA/Nabo/WRG supporter since for ever Martin I do hope that Bill de Leie is heavily insured so he can face the mountain of claims he can expect from the individuals he has libelled in his diatribe. I’m also interested to know what justification there can be for the Navvies editorial team to repeat those comments. I assume the write of the original letter knows all the Trustees of the K&A Society personally and is able to comment at length about their failures. Has he actually read (or understood) the role of a charity Trustee as defined by the Charity Commissioners? His allegations are that these Trustees have failed in their duty of care; that is a most serious charge and if proved true could end up in terms of imprisonment for those Trustees. Have the Trustees of the K&A been given the right of reply or have they not been asked? Has the writer had the courtesy to address his complaints direct to them rather than the world in general? His complaint that the Trustees are ‘bank managers, accountants, solicitors etc’ is not something I would be ashamed of in our Trust. In fact I would welcome as many of them as possible because they’ve got the legal knowledge required to run a multi-million pound operation. Some bloke whose spent his life shovelling shit in the Getting Nowhere Canal Restoration Society may be a great fellow but not necessarily the one you need for a Trustee. If Mr de Leie is such a wonderful guy, perhaps he should put himself forward as a Trustee of K&A and explain to his fellow members where they’ve been going wrong all these years. I’m sure they will welcome his considered and well thought out views! Spencer Greystrong Trustee & Director The River Gipping Trust Ltd First one small point of clarification: we may have given the impression last time that the editor had selected the letter from the Stover Canal Society’s magazine to give it a wider audience; in fact it was submitted for publication (with the agreement of the author) by WRG volunteer and SCS member Di Smurthwaite. But that’s largely beside the point - as is the fact that having boated the K&A myself last year in a deep-draft boat I personally rate most of Mr de Leie’s letter as somewhere between wild exaggeration (*) and complete bollocks. Because it’s not the job of Navvies to publish the editor’s personal impressions. Printing the letter has generated far more well-informed responses putting the record straight than any amount of ill-informed rubbish in canalside bars and on internet forums about how the “K&A is falling derelict” or “will probably be shut by this time next year” or that “my attempt to get this into print was ignored by the Navvies editor as he’s part of the IWA / K&A / BW conspiracy” - and believe me, I’ve heard most of it. The Editor Dear Martin Can I please thank, through your pages, the WRG Forestry Group led by Clive Alderman for the excellent job they did on the trees growing out of side of the Flood Relief Aqueduct at Latton Basin. These trees were of considerable height and the roots have seriously displaced the large stones on the side of the aqueduct. Our concern was that the weight of the trees combined with any movement caused by the wind would cause even greater damage before we were in a position to deal with them properly. Thanks to WRG Forestry’s efforts they have been greatly reduced in height which should prevent further destruction of the wall. So very many thanks to Clive and the team. Doug Small, Latton Basin Project (*) See pages 32-35 for a real account of a waterway falling into dereliction
What restores canals? Is it suits or shovels? Or is it volunteers covered in woad, for that matter?
I’m Spartacus Hello, me again. You see, no good comes from reading Navvies, it just makes me reach for the keyboard again. It’s all about who restores canals. [See Mike Palmer’s Chairman’s Page, issue 246] We all know that it us - until we realise that we have no money, can only do it at weekend or in the holidays, have limited skills and have nil chance of maintaining it afterwards. And, oh, just remembered, we don’t own them to start with. However, I’m damned sure that if IWA/PFCS/WRG/K&ACT and the rest had not happened then the late 40s and early 50s governments would have abandoned them all; and we all know that government is so useless they would not have understood that canals just do not go away. I remember the stories of Derby Council believing that if they built houses on their canal that would be an end to it, until they discovered that it was awful wet where they had failed to find out about puddled clay! The restoration movement grew out of a wish to do something, however small, and to publicise the canals and the individual issues in one’s own locality. No doubt stripping off and painting yourself with woad and presenting your case with a banger up your bum would have got pictures in the local papers, but the message would be lost in the groans and hysterical laughter. Fortunately, stripping off and covering yourself with mud and finding all kinds of crap in the cut – and removing it, gets the papers interested, and may well have got a message out there. I point out that one man, Jim Woolgar, made a fuss in his local paper and thus founded the Surrey and Hants Society. Hey presto – the Basingstoke is open, or quite a lot of it is. (I draw a veil over the years in between for the moment) These two paragraphs point out two pressure points – there are others, I hasten to add - The first is about lobbying Parliament, probably best done by chatting up the local MP. (Ken Goodwin always seemed to have an MP on his boat at rallies steadily moving him/her self outside a bottle of scotch) Even if they don’t exactly support you they can be educated so when the other side of the House talks nonsense they can score points by airing their knowledge. The second is similar, but at local level. The real catch here is that you can also get the support of local people lobbying their member. Members prefer a quiet life, so keep them awake! I guarantee, though, that no publicity; then no restoration. Our biggest continuing effort needs to include publicity. Why do you think that Graham Palmer started Navvies? He had to educate the boating public and the other members of the IWA who support but do not boat (don’t forget them!) The Cheshire Ring was restored by years of work with the Local Authorities (Dukinfield, I understand, was the most anti-canal authority until they were educated, then they were the most supportive) but also with good relations with BWB at board level (IWA’s job) and the local engineer (volunteers’ job, mostly Peak Forest Canal Society). That area of the country also had a private owner of a canal who had to be convinced; so it got even more complicated. In this case the initial rubbish clearance had to be “mandraulic” as machines could not cope, but the big digs “Op Ash” and “Ashtac” provided a start. Lets labour the point no more. We are all interdependent, so like the film we can all cry “I’m Spartacus” when they ask who did it. And we did, didn’t we? Don’t stop there! Repairing anything is useless unless you maintain it. The restoration is the easy bit, the maintenance is not. The good news is that volunteers are probably better suited to maintenance than restoration, and boring old farts like me, probably beyond doing a complete lock rebuild these days, can do a lock clearance so long as the iron lung is parked reasonably close. The object, however, is to get the owners of the canal to do their own maintenance – us doing a volunteer clearance may shame them into activity, but only if we tell the world on the front page. Mike Day
Our regular roundup of progress on restoration projects begins this time with a branch of the Grand Union...
Progress Buckingham Canal
British Waterways as to the best approach for re-watering this section and we are also The Buckingham Canal Society is continuing talking to the Highways Agency with the to make progress with the restoration of the view to using the A5 bridge over the River canal on a number of levels. Formal partner- Ouse as a potential canal crossing. ships are now in place with Buckinghamshire Lastly at our Bourton Meadow site County Council, Aylesbury Vale District planning permission will be applied for Council, Buckingham Town Council as well as shortly to re-water this section. An environseveral parish councils along the route of the mental impact study has been completed and canal. We are additionally enjoying reafdiscussions are talking place with the local firmed support from British Waterways for council to use the canal as part of a flood the restoration of the canal. prevention scheme for Buckingham We are working at four sites along the We continue to run our work parties canal between Buckingham and Cosgrove. three times a month on alternate Thursdays At our Hyde Lane site we are working in and on the second Sunday of each month. partnership with BBOWT (Berks, Bucks, Oxon Our annual festival at Cosgrove is being Wildlife Trust) and we are in negotiations held over the weekend of 22nd-24th July with them for the Society to take over the where we hold a â€˜Lock Ransomâ€™ to promote lease on this stretch of canal. The Society the restoration of the canal and to raise has worked at this site for a number of years funds for future restoration. and work is progressing well with restoration Athina Beckett of the lock and as this site is a nature reserve Chairman, Buckingham Canal Society we are carry out To Grand various environThe Buckingham Canal Braunston Union mental activities. (Grand Union Old Stratford Canal These have inCosgrove cluded hedge layand Buckingham branch) ing, replanting over Old Stratford A5 100 saplings along To the hedge and London footpath mainteDeanshanger nance work. At our Little Hill Farm site on going re-pointing work is taking place to the stone canal Little Hill Farm 2 bridge and is nearwork site 2 A4 ing completion. We Thornton have also cleared Hyde Lane Lock Buckingham the vegetation on towpath on this Bourton Lock section of the canal Bourton Meadow for about a mile. work site At our third site at Cosgrove discussions are taking place with
Meanwhile in Sussex, rebuilding of Isfield Lock is continuing, while WACT are refurbishing one lock and planning to restore another...
Sussex Ouse and Wey & Arun
and digging has commenced. As the spoil is removed so the old lock chamber wall is The unexpected but very welcome spring being demolished and all re-usable bricks are sunshine meant that the Sussex Oouse Resbeing cleaned and stored for the rebuild. toration Trust. volunteer working parties Maybe the sunshine was responsible for could get off to an early start to their restora- the volunteer turnout on the first full day but tion season. a record number of Trust members turned 2011 will offer new challenges to the up to get stuck into the task ahead. Trust - and although we say this every year, One piece of good news recently rethis year we really mean it. The target for ceived by SORT Chairman Bob Draper is a completion before the end of the season in letter from HM Revenue & Customs confirmSeptember is another section of the west wall ing that our application for Charity status of Isfield Lock. with them has been approved. This means Last year saw the complete restoration that whilst not yet a fully registered charity of about a 5m length of the wall and the aim (due to our small annual turnover), we can is to complete another 5m this year. But now benefit from Gift Aid tax repayments whereas last yearâ€™s section required digging from the Government on all donations to the out and rebuilding about a 3m depth of the Trust. This will bring a very welcome boost wall, the next section will additionally require to our restoration fund coffers. construction of two nibs extending down to If you are interested in helping SORT to invert level. This is because the poor state of restore this wonderful old lock, remotely the existing chamber wall makes its shear tucked away in the Sussex countryside, then strength doubtful. Work has begun under the please contact Ted Lintott on 01444-414413 guidance of project manager Paul Morris, Terry Owen
Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust
Another section of the lock wall at Isfield dismantled ready for rebuilding
Wey & Arun Canal
The two major projects, the rebuilding of Southland Lock and the replacement parapets for the Loxwood High Street Bridge, have both received planning approval. The former is subject to the expected long list of conditions, which has limited the time period during which the actual work can be carried out; nevertheless there has been plenty of preparatory work. The commencement of the latter work depends on local fund raising efforts, which are being undertaken by the Loxwood Society and the Parish Council, in close collaboration with WACT. Talking of Southland Lock, a change of plans means that the new lock can be built in the same location as the old. Although the vast majority of the structure disappeared years ago, leaving only two iron quoin posts protruding from the undergrowth, a lot of the old invert apparently remains below 140 years’ worth of silt, which will provide a good base from which to re-create the lock, the most southerly of the original brick-built locks (the remainder were constructed in Fitting new gate planking at Baldwin’s Knob local stone). Various factors, mostly concerned with delicate nature conservation matters, were behind the original intention to move the lock ‘upstream’ a short distance, but ways around this have been negotiated. Also in Loxwood, WACT’s plans for an ultra-green, carbon neutral, sustainable and accessible visitor centre building had to be put on hold because despite ticking all the right environmental boxes, the visual aspects of the design raised some local concerns. The local planners are to carry out a site visit before giving their decision. Still on the navigable section, the navvies – both local and visiting - were kept occupied throughout the non-boating (i.e. wet and cold) season by refurbishments to Baldwin’s Knob Lock, which over several weeks received new gate planking, attention to the paddles, repointing, and a good bottom-clearance, among other work. The results are mostly invisible now, most of the work being below water level; suffice it to say that the pumps were worked overtime. And finally – not forgetting the maintenance, jungle-reclamation and other lower-profile work that goes on along the whole canal on several days each week – the exciting news that work has begun at the northern end of the canal, on the so-called ‘Bramley Link’, which joins with the River Wey, and thus links to the rest of the navigable system. The work is mostly of a cosmetic nature at present, as the final route the canal will take is still subject to considerable negotiation in several places, but the strategic importance of gaining a foothold and starting work here must not be understated. The new stop plank shelter at Drungewick Aqueduct Bill Thomson
Lichfield & Hatherton Canals
Our contractors, McPhillips have completed their operations on Pound 26 (between locks 25 and 26 on the Tamworth Road flight near Lichfield) safely within the contract period and we now have a section of the Lichfield Canal which is slowly filling with water. There have been some minor problems which are well on their way to Wendover Arm resolution. Wendover Arm Trust’s March working After so many years it is good to see party enjoyed good weather and completed the sections of the “Big Pipe” (the storm the base and three wall sections of the Stage drain formerly laid along the bed and 4 mooring wall at Bridge 4. On our main through the locks) stacked neatly on site task (to install a concrete capping over the awaiting reuse. water supply pipe which was laid in the canal We are now looking seriously and in bed to carry the water supply after the canal detail at the next challenge which will take was drained) bulk excavation of the trench us, hopefully, under the A51 to the A38. for the concrete capping was completed up Meanwhile, there is still plenty for our own to the manhole east of Bridge 4A, as was the volunteers to do in Pound 27. We have also pipe capping for Stage 2, and a start made been studying the details of the proposed on the pipe capping for Stage 3 to allow the crossing of the Lichfield by the HS2 high next re-watering to Bridge 4A. speed rail line at Cappers Bridge. We need to On the April Working Party the be totally clear that there will be no impact good weather continued and two more wall on the restoration apart from visual intrusion sections were poured at the Stage 4 mooring and noise. wall at Bridge 4, leaving only the last wall On the Hatherton Canal, we have sucpour for the May Working Party. cessfully concluded our discussions with Stage 3 pipe capping went on apace Redrow and South Staffordshire District and all that is required for the next re-water- Council. We had been compelled to oppose ing to Bridge 4A was completed. The capRedrow plans for a development at ping stops just short of the manhole on the Churchbridge because we could not be sure towpath side after which the pipeline veers that the route of the restored canal was back to the offside. See page 2 for Bert adequately protected. Although we do not Matraves’ photo taken from Bridge 4A at the expect to be able to work at this point for end of the February Working Party and a several years it was essential that we kept all photo taken two months later at the end of the required engineering parameters open. the April Working Party – progress indeed! After some unwillingness, Redrow has been The pipe capping has not been laid under able to rejig its plans and we have withdrawn Bridge 4A as it will be 150mm (6") higher and our objections. laid at the same time as the 150mm of conWe will be organising a proper event crete that we lay through bridge narrows to celebrate the completion of Pound 26 where the scouring action of boat propellers in and this will probably be on Friday, 17th the narrows could disturb the usual 300mm June on the afternoon of our AGM. The (12") of spoil laid on the bed of the canal. AGM will be held, as in the last two years, BW engineers have also now given us at the Park View Centre, Brownhills and we a clearer picture of their operational rereally hope that a considerable number of quirements for discharging water from the members will be there to show their suprestored canal into the pumping shaft adjaport. The meeting will include a talk by cent to the settling tank. They have also local BW waterways manager, Dean stated that they do not require a weir where Davies, who will explain the serious implithe pipeline leaves the line of the canal. cations for the canal restoration movement For more information see our website of the reorganisation of BW. http://wendovercanal.org.uk/ Brian Kingshott Roger Leishman, Restoration Director Chairman, Lichfield & Hatherton firstname.lastname@example.org Canals Restoration Trust
In May 1961, cruiser Bruce headed down the Ashton Canal. Would it get through? Would anyone ever get through again?
From the Archives 50 years ago in Manchester
third time we spotted the trouble. Half the ground paddle had been carried away! After a considerable There have been many waterways anniversa- delay a piece of steel plate was ‘found’ and lowered ries in the news recently – not least our own over the hole with a piece of rope, being held in 40th birthday last year. Several of them have position until the water rose with the help of a ladder been concerned with the campaign to restore that the party had happened to bring with it. A relathe Cheshire Ring back in the late 1960s and tively minor flood accompanied the final filling. Other early 1970s around the time that WRG was Locks were uneventful. founded. But one that appears not to have At the bottom of the flight is a spacious windbeen mentioned to date is that this year it is ing hole and the canal over the River Goyt on a fine exactly half a century since the Lower Peak three span stone aqueduct and through a cutting in Forest and Ashton canals fell into dereliction, the rock. At Romily were the three other boats and closing the northern part of the Cheshire all five spent the night there. Ring and leading in due course to the camArrival 8pm, 14 miles 16 locks. paign to restore it. In the morning Bruce could be seen making for This is the story of the last attempt at a the Ashton, but as Wee McGregor was not allowed passage through the route until the reopento continue further, it was decided that her crew ing, a campaign cruise in May 1961. It is should return to Marple and help any other boats reproduced from Navvies Notebook issues through. 22-24, and is an abridged version of the full It was well that they did so. Later on Saturday article written by Michael Macfarlane which another boat from the NCCC had started down the appeared in the June 1961 issue of the locks and got caught on the cill of one of the lower former IWA Midlands Branch’s magazine ones. As the bottom gates did not hold well and there Navigation... was little water in the pound above, the situation had A strong contingent from the Midland Branch become desperate necessitating the drainage of most began to converge on Marple Locks on Saturday 21 of the flight into No. 4 pound in which were two May 1961, Bruce, a l7ft cruiser, three other cruisers other cruisers. In the morning, therefore, water was and a motor canoe Probe. drawn off the summit level to fill the flight and the Bruce, Wee McGregor and Probe reached remaining four boats had made little progress. The Marple Locks at about 4.00pm. The locks were all lack of water in Lock 8 had enabled the crews to about ten feet deep and lined with great stone blocks. make a sound repair to the ground paddle and the The 16 locks at Marple are probably the most time had not been wasted. The Midland party, beautiful in the country – and if the Ashton Canal however, found that a crisis had now arisen on Lock goes, they go. It was learned that three boats from 3, where the bottom gate paddle had been carried the North Cheshire Cruising Club had descended the away through the gate. With the help of a friendly locks already. native a spare paddle was found among the trees There was nothing wrong with the first six and when this was lowered over the hole on locks except a quantity of rubbish in the chambers another piece of string, it was found that enough which effectively prevented the full opening of the water was retained to allow passage. bottom gates. As the boats were 6in under 7ft wide The route to Fairfield was paved with coping this did not matter much. Lock 9 did not have any stones thrown off the bridges by the local gentry. bottom gates. Instead it had a network of wooden Considerable difficulty was experienced in passing lace built up around a quantity of air, and it just through bridge holes. These various obstacles meant managed to fill after taking 2ft of water off the pound. that it was a straggling procession that eventually Look 8 hardly even began to fill. A number of arrived at Fairfield Junction by 6pm. members of the NCCC assembled round, but disBruce had gone through the first lock at persed when reports of floods began to percolate up Fairfield on arrival earlier in the day and, bored with the locks. Eventually, on emptying the lock about the waiting, her crew had wandered off down the tow-
Last trip down the Ashton
Rochdale Canal Hollinwood Branch path. At about (closed 1952-2002) (abandoned) 4-7 5.30pm they returned Ashton 8 11-16 with the startling news Huddersfield Canal Fairfield MANCHESTER (closed 1944-2001) that a pair of bottom 9-10 1-3 gates had been burnt 17-18 Ashton Canal “Rochdale down and the remains Lower Peak Nine” locks thrown into the lock Forest Canal chamber! What was Bridgewater Canal more, the wood was to Runcorn still warm. In spite of his complaints that hooligans had longer are you going on?” he been known to do this very thing, the District Inspec- pleaded, “We are going to tor (D.I.) of British Transport Waterways [predeces- carry the boat around this sors of BW] appeared to know nothing of the crime, lock”, “But afterwards?”, Woodley Tunnel although the Police and the Fire Brigade had known “Then we will have a bite to of it all day. The parallel with the Reichstag fire is eat.” (It was now Marple self-evident. It is amazing to consider that this hap10.15pm.) “Promise me Aqueduct pened only 12 hours before the flotilla had been you won’t go through any Hyde Bank scheduled to move off down the locks. [Footnote: more locks unless we are Tunnel Marple the culprit was later imprisoned] here?”, “We promise”, his Locks 1-16 After the Founder [presumably IWA founder voice rose to a wail, Robert Aickman] had been contacted and his advice “When will you be starting received to carry on as far as possible, Bruce started in the morning, we must be to work its way down... strangely, although the first here”. Sorely tempted to few locks were in good order no other boats even reply “Five”, knowing that he To Whaley attempted to descend the locks. Two locks down had to travel to Wigan and To Bridge Macclesfield appeared a so-called lift bridge. Installed by an back, truth prevailed, and the adjacent engineering firm with the approval of BTW, answer was given as “Nine”. this bridge needed 75 turns of a windlass (and every Muttering threats our employees withdrew. Strangely move required two strong men) to raise it 18 inches, they did not offer to help carry the boat round the just enough for Bruce. lock! There can be little doubt but that this bridge The portage of Bruce was really a far bigger was never meant to be lifted. job than had been made out in the presence of the The weed in all these pounds was so bad that D.I., and it is to the credit of Brian and Rosemary only a narrow channel remains. If these last few Knight that they had the courage to permit it. A dozen square feet are allowed to fill in, the area will face carried her, about 10cwt of smooth slippery boat. serious flooding. Lock 13 has a swing bridge over it. Much of the route was at about 30 degrees downward, Fortunately Bruce was short enough to pass through but within half an hour she was floating again. Later on, without swinging it, for the last time it was used, to helpers were to wish every look was that easy! pass a maintenance boat, 47 men were required to Arrival 10.45pm, 8 miles, 8 locks. move it! The bottom gates of this lock took two As good as his word, or possibly rather better, hours to clear of bricks and other obstructions with the D.I. was present at 9am, and so were a reporter the aid of a tiny glass-fibre dinghy. and photographer from the Evening Chronicle. A Lock 12 bottom gates were reasonable, but photograph of the scene at the top lock had apthe top gates were fouled and the instructions from peared in the Guardian. With your correspondent the D.I. to ‘draw the paddles’ nearly proved disascame John and Ruth Daltry. Hardly can they be trous as a wall of water swept towards Manchester. praised enough in that having hired a boat for a week Later this became one of our members’ fault! at great expense, they elected to leave it at Fairfield The next lock was No. 11 — with the burnt and help get Bruce through, come what may. All the gates. As the group of Midlanders neared the obsta- other boats had folded their tents like the Arabs and cle the D.I. had asked again and again “When are silently stolen away. Except for Mr CE Burgess, the you going to turn back?” The answer of course was cruise organiser, who gave constant support person“Never”. ally and in contacting the Press, and Mr Baxter, both As Bruce was slowly emptied of all surplus kit, of the North West Branch, the rest of the trip depreparatory to a portage around the lock, the B.T.W pended entirely upon the Midlands Branch. Although men looked exhausted. Purple in the face, his eyes Peter and Mrs Froude and Keith Christie had to bulging, the D.I. was a beaten man. “How much return on the Sunday night, Phillip and Shirley
“Worse than the bricks though, were the bus seats. There is only one way to deal with it; find an eighteen stone man...”
From the Archives 50 years ago in Manchester
factory. In the sooty hole of No. 6, the Black Look, the cleaning parties had to work for nearly four hours to join the gates. The main difficulty here was that an adjoining firm had cheerfully tipped some ten tons of old bricks into the lock, leaving hardly a foot of water and completely blocking the bottom gates. BTW, of course, had taken no action at all to remedy this. Worse than the bricks though, were the bus seats. A keb just won’t grip the inside of bus seats and they are too solid to squash against the cill. There is only one way to deal with it; find an eighteen stone man (on this occasion a suitable passer-by — Fred, the friendly fellow from Fairfield - was only too pleased to offer himself) seat him on the balance beam, then get everyone else to give him a ride to and fro. It worked like a charm in this case and the gates soon shut, and, with the same treatment soon afterwards, opened again. Locks 5 and 4 night have been considered enough to daunt any boat. Fortunately our BTW friends had given us up after hearing the news of the Bosley burst, and there was no restraint on Brian Knight’s fertile imagination! The pound between locks 5 and 4 was only 50 yards long, and (the top gate of No. 4 being open and useless) was quite dry. The proposal was to close the bottom gates of No. 4, fill No.5 and get the boat into it, then run off enough of No. 5 pound to fill No. 4 pound and lock! Simple when you know how. The bottom gates of No. 4 are 6 foot under water due to subsidence and they were therefore too far under water to be cleared with the available keb. Fortunately they opened fairly well and very nearly shut. In view or the extreme difficulty or closing them that last bit, it was decided to cover the two inch gap with the tarpaulin, and hope for the best. As it happened, the tarpaulin would have been very useful over the gates of Lock 5, but it was otherwise engaged, and the great quantity or water through the gates was needed to fill No.4 pound, so no harm was done. Due to the lack of water in Eight years after the trip described in this article, major No. 4 pound, the rocky bottom of No. clearance gets under way at the 1960 Op Ashton big dig 5 lock was only too apparent, and a Harry Arnold
Hutchings had remained, taking one 18" bunk in Bruce, while the Knights slept on the other. The party on Monday therefore consisted of the Evening Chronicle man, Mr Baxter, David Williams, the lock keeper, Brian and Rosemary Knight, Phillip and Shirley Hutchings, John and Ruth Daltry, Don Burton, Keith Norgrave and myself. A start was made on the next lock, No. 10 at 9.45am. With the help of the tarpaulin the boat passed through at a little after 2.00pm. Relays of men in Don Burton’s little dinghy removed nearly 100 bricks from the path of the bottom gates. With no time for rest or food No. 9 was next tackled, an easy one, a dozen or so bricks and through in 40 minutes. No.8 look was the only one on the canal to be kept full and no difficulties were met. As the level dropped bubbles rose to the surface: “Marsh Gas?”. Rumours were heard about the bursting of Bosley aqueduct. If it were true this was now the only route from the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals, the determination of the party was redoubled. It had no need to be! From Lock 7 onwards the water was covered with a layer of black tar, pumped into the canal unrestrictedly by a nearby
suitable space was cleared for Bruce to sit in in case again(!) as did all the remaining gates on the canal. the idea did not work and No. 4 gates burst, lowerNews was received that a Granada TV caming the level. No such disaster occurred however, but eraman would shortly be along having been alerted the top gate of No. 5 fouled when shutting and by Mr Burgess, so a certain amount of essential although the extra water was welcome for the locking shopping was done and Lock 2 loitered through. At through operation, it soon became an embarrassment this stage Don Burton’s dinghy was finally lifted out when the pound above began to empty. Bruce was and strapped onto its trailer. After waiting to make pulled through No. 4 lock and tied up for the night, sure it was not needed for Lock 1, it was towed then No. 5 was refilled and the top gate cleared, away followed by the heartfelt thanks of all coneven though a local resident pointed out that the cerned, for without that little boat the trip would not bottom gates had been closed and the paddles have been possible. A few words must be added dropped “and it’s not your fault if the gates leak”! about Don Burton’s help. When it arrived, the dinghy Arrived 11.15pm. 1 mile, 7 locks. was a spruce, clean little thing, its fibreglass bottom Tuesday dawned dry and overcast, as had all unsullied by anything firmer than a gym shoe. While the other days but Sunday. Of course that only means workers were sweating at the tails of the locks great Monday, but to those on the job aeons had passed boulders and bricks, bus seats and iron bars were since Sunday afternoon. It was impossible that only thrown into the poor thing till the gunwales were Monday was in between! almost under. Not a word of complaint passed Don’s Those not sleeping in the boat took 3/4 of an lips as he did it himself, steadied the boat or watched. hour to find a convenient access point to the canal. When lifted out at lock 2, this once smart dinghy was There is only one between Lock 7 and Ducie Street, plastered with mud and oil inside and out. To the and that is behind a locked gate. So much for abject apologies of all concerned, Don just replied “I drowned children! When the boat was eventually don’t often clean her out — this will just have to be found at 10.am. the tired crew had only just finished one of those times.” breakfast. Several photos were taken at this point, as [Footnote added by Navvies Notebook it was now realised that the hard going was now issue 24 editor Graham Palmer: No trouble was over. Under power for only the second tine since experienced with Lock 1, and so ended the last Fairfield (the water was now so foul that nothing complete trip along the Ashton & Peak Forest could live in it) Bruce moved off under THE RAILCanals. This was in May 1961, it’s about time it WAY BRIDGE. Little evidence could be found of the was used again, and the means are available to often quoted 5 foot head-room. Admittedly the water make it so. I would like to think that May 1971 was 1ft 6ins down, but there was about 6ft headwill see full restoration well under way.] room on the towpath, so deepening of the cut should make passage perfectly practicable here. Soon after this Messrs Burton and Norgrove arrived. With the water level so far down the usual rubbish was more of a nuisance in this pound than on others but after 5 minutes had been spent in clearing the bridgehole of armchairs Lock No. 3 was reached in good time. The top gate of this lock had been cut down to lower the water level, leaving only some 18" over the cill. This had been further reduced overnight since the draining of No. 5 pound had stopped the weirs running. The bottom gates closed without difficulty (there is a lock cottage nearby and Ancoats Hospital backs onto this section, so hooliganism is more difficult, also of course there is no access) and soon the lock was filled with black ink. After clearing only two bus seats the top gate closed and when the lock A recent view of Lock 11 on the Ashton Canal, the one was emptied the bottom gates opened that ‘Bruce’ had to be carried around in 1961
The last dance... It’s over – the last Benson Navvies Barn Dance has been and gone – and it was good evening to finish off what has been a really enjoyable event to organise. As per usual much beer drinking was done and much dancing was observed. Due to keeping the price the same (despite rising costs) and a slight dimple in numbers, this year the event in total made just over £500 – to be split between the Inglesham Appeal and Newbury Working Party Group. Once again thanks to the team of helpers (superstars Adrian, Nic and Eli) and everyone else who helped set up the hall, put out cutlery, serve beer and food and clear up. Thanks to Jude for doing quite a lot of the cooking and not making it to the event and fairy stars to Emma Greenall, Tim Lewis, Amy Inchbald and Graham Raeburn for kitchen duties. Thank goodness the stew and Eli’s car survived intact – that’s good packing for you. Helen Gardner
WRG Boat Club News The river Nene was closed until Easter this year so we haven’t been able to get Straw Bear to the canals. Being ‘land based’ for longer I have been able to spend more time discovering (and booking into) some of the up and coming events. What an exciting prospect this summer offers. So much for club members to look forward to, things to do, functions and festivals to attend and places to go. For me, writing this on May Day, the Droitwich opening is the one special thing I am so looking forward to. Hope it doesn’t follow the same pattern as the Mont Aston Locks opening! We are planning to go along with Lynx. I have sent in the booking form and explained what we will need depth and headroom so I will be a thorough test – if we can go through, anyone can go! Just hope the river Severn will behave, so boats can get there from that end. Hope to see lots of members, and non boating WRGies, there. Looking ahead – there is a very interesting ‘Folk weekend and Boat Gathering’ being organised by NCCC next year, 20-22 July, so watch out for more on that. In June 2012 there will be a ‘Thames Pageant’ of over 1000 boats. This will be lead by the Queen for her Jubilee. St Pancras Cruising
Navvies News Club is doing much of the organising. It has been suggested, by the area AWCC (Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs) chairman, that we aim to get one boat from each club to take part. AWCC has held the AGM. The proposal of the new constitution was adopted. The next stage is that the document has ‘legal vetting’ to see that the wording is unambiguous and legally sound. The final version will be adopted at the next NEC in June. There were quite a few changes in the AWCC National Officers, details will be clearer when the new constitution becomes operational. The afternoon Guest Speaker was Tony Hales, chairman of British Waterways, who spoke enthusiastically about the new waterways charity (no surprise there), but gave no information that was not already in the public domain. New this year of course is the July date for the IWA National Festival, also something to look forward to. The club AGM/social evening will be held on the Saturday. Please come along with lots of bright ideas and questions. This season our Commode Door is working as a part time volunteer lock keeper (if that is the official title) so I look forward to hearing some interesting tales! All those who requested an AWCC handbook (paper version) should now have one. Burgees and the NEW window stickers will be available at the AGM or you can order them to be sent by post. Thanks to all who sent kind wishes to Fred and me – and to follow Martin’s lead – both Lynx and Straw Bear are now unarguably ‘Heritage Boats’ Sadie Heritage email@example.com
Dick Harper-White We are sorry to have to bring you the news that Dick Harper-White has died. A stalwart of IWA’s Guildford & Reading Branch for 30 years, he led the branch working parties on the Basingstoke, was to be seen at events demonstrating his skill at traditional canal painting, and was mainly known to WRGies for running the ‘Navvies Booteek’ selling safety gear through Navvies magazine.
NOTICEBOARD Extra Canal Camp
on the Grand Western Canal WRG Foresty will be leading a weekís camp down in Devon in october, running from Friday 21st to Saturday 29th. The work will be scrub bashing the line of the canal, and the accommodation will be in Burlescombe hall If interested, please book through head office as usual.
The Surrey & Hants Canal Society now has a new permanent contact to replace Dave Wedd who stepped in as temporary contact after the untimely death of Pete Redway. The new contact is Duncan Paine, 52 Kings Road, Fleet GU51 3AQ. Tel: 01252-614125. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org He is dealing with general enquiries from the public and individual volunteers. Verna Smith is coordinating visiting work parties. Martin Leech is dealing with the liaison between work parties, SHCS committee and Basingstoke Canal Authority.
The Grantham Canal has a new contact for work parties. Contact Ian Wakefield. on email email@example.com or Tel: 0115 989 2128
The IWA Inglesham Lock Appeal to raise funds to enable WRG volunteers to restore this crucial lock where the Cotswold Canals meet the Thames had raised almost £42,500 towards the £125,000 target as we went to press. To support the appeal see: www.inglesham.org.uk - or come to the RACE NIGHT AT BURTON - see p8
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.
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The next full directory will appear in issue 248. Please send any updates to the editor.
Online Navvies subscriptions The URL given in the past was wrong. It should be: www.waterways.org.uk/shop/ product_details?id=1292 Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for his continued help with Navvies printing
Congratulations to Izzy and Andrew Rutter on the arrival of Charlotte Louise on 26 April to Kate and John Fletcher on the arrival of Danielle Rae on 14 May and to Judith and Kevin Pope On the arrival of Daniel Frederick on 16 May
Is it possible to find a suitable partner who isn’t a WRGie? Is it possible to enjoy a lasagne-free weekend? Dear Deirdre I’ve given up trying to find a partner through WRG, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to look elsewhere for love. Mindful however of your repeated warnings about relationships with outsiders, I’m rather hoping I might be able to find a girl I like and convert her over to WRG. What sort of person should I be looking for? - JS, by email Deirdre writes: I’m rather inclined to believe that WRGies are born, not made, but it might be possible to turn someone toward the light providing the follow applies: they are generally useful and practicallyminded they are a ‘doer’ who gets on with things they aren’t overly particular about appearance or personal hygiene they find eccentricity amusing rather than alarming You might try looking in the following places: Young Farmers’ discos for broadshouldered country girls who don’t mind mud and know about Land Rovers; the Girl Guiding movement for practical Brown Owls who can organise people and don’t mind
. . . .
Infill Featuring Dear Deirdre noise; and psychiatric nurses for resilience and a GSOH. We could always use some first aiders as well, so why not try hanging around the St John’s Ambulance tent next time you’re at an event, and see if anyone takes your fancy.
Dear Deirdre Recently I was invited away for a walking weekend by a friend who is a keen rambler. We enjoyed a delightful weekend in Shropshire with good food and good company and no brick cleaning was involved. In fact, it was just like a normal weekend but without the cement pour, innuendo and agonising back pain. Maybe other readers might be interested to hear that there are ways to enjoy the countryside without having to eat lasagne in a draughty scout hut? I’ve enclosed an address readers can send an SAE to if they want more information. - TS, Reading Deirdre writes: Words are insufficient to describe how appalled I am by your selfish and self-indulgent letter. All I can ask is: What of the canal network, sir? What of it?
Have you got a question for Deirdre? Just email email@example.com
Scenes you seldom see on a dig: No 7
“I don’t really see how it matters what make, size or model of engine it has, so long as it works reliably”
Navvies Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways of Britain