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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Scrub-bashing special: Christmas camp reports Safer strimming Sharper slashers

waterway recovery group

Issue No 251 March-April 2012


Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ

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

Alan Jervis

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

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

ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2012 WRG

Martin Ludgate

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.

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


Contents Martin Ludgate

In this issue...

Left the Mont New Year Camp team (report next time) Above London WRG and KESCRG clearing the channel above the lock at Inglesham on the Cotswolds: please support the IWA’s Appeal (see www.waterways.org.uk) to fund our work here this summer. Below recent opening of Staveley Town Basin and the volunteer-built canal wall (left), Chesterfield Canal. Back cover inset: Inglesham (top left and bottom right) and Wilts & Berks

Chairman CRT: who will you vote for? 4-5 Coming soon Cleanup, leader training and summer Canal Camps 6-8 Christmas digging reports from the Wilts & Berks and Cotswold Canals 9-14 WRGBC Latest from our own boat club 15 40 interviews Neil Edwards & George ‘Bungle’ Eycott face the questions 16-25 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 26-28 Letters on building new canals, Croatian camp food and French translation 29-31 Progress a roundup of news from restoration projects around the country 32-40 Directory WRG and canal societies 41-43 Brushcutters using them safely 44-45 Slashers how to sharpen them 46-47 Navvies News volunteers wanted for Navvies stuffing sessions 48-49 Noticeboard Canalway Cavalcade needs you 50 Infill introducing WRG’s film critic 51

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, typed, on CD, DVD or by email. Photos welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please say if you want prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG, but if you have a lot of large files it’s best to send them on CD or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 252: March 1st.

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £3.00 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques payable to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. This is a minimum subscription, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3


Chairman Voting for inspiration?

“Don’t ‘do your duty’ and just vote for the obvious, official candidate. Vote for someone who inspires you. Someone who makes you do things you didn’t know you wanted to do”

But who else is going to be there? A digression - a couple of years ago I You may or may not have noticed it but last was on the discussion panel of a conference issue was the staggering number 250. Many on “waterways and volunteers”. I thought I’d organisations would have made it a celebradone quite well, both promoting WRG’s tion issue with much reflection and navel efforts but also showing a willingness to gazing. We were too busy doing stuff. I'm work with all those well paid grey suits who rather proud of that. (Though no doubt seemed to suggest they could revolutionise Martin would like me to remind you that things with their modern, professional ways. Navvies is an equal opportunity magazine In fact I thought things were looking pretty and anyone who wants to write in with any rosy and there really did seem to be a future reflection and navel gazing will get it printed, in the brave new world. no matter what number Navvies it is.) Then the wise and wonderful Robin Higgs stood up and pointed out a gap – where are the leaders? Where are the leaders? “It’s all very well having systems and It seems that the formation of the Canal and procedures but where are the people with a River Trust (the charity which replaces British decent bit of vision that are not put off by Waterways) is the current big news and at the missing 25 percent of the funding, or the moment they are recruiting for the mem- that this year’s work doesn’t exactly align bers of the “Council”. Other magazines and with this year’s strategy. The people who websites have explained the governance set actually inspire others to follow when things up of the CRT in much greater detail but are not going quite right.“ fundamentally this is CRT’s “sounding board” He’s got a point. (he often does!) made up of everyone who might ever give a Which brings me back to the subject of toss about waterways. There are 35 or so the CRT council. It would be easy for seats given to stakeholder groups such as everyone to vote for safe hands, but I employees, heritage groups, boaters, think if we do that then it will be sunk. anglers etc. I do worry that WRG will be seen as the The representatives are voted into these young radical lot and so the rest can just be seats by whoever CRT feels is the relevant “status quo” people. But, whether we like it electorate, so, for example, the boater reps or not, WRG is not far short of 45 years old are voted for by BW licence holders. The and to quote our founder Graham Palmer – good news is that the one seat that repre“organisations have a useful lifetime of about sents waterway volunteers has been given to 25 years”. We should be seen as the old WRG* without any voting. Now this is parguard and the rest of the Council should be tially because they couldn’t work out who made up of people who can bring new attiwas the relevant electorate, and indeed they tudes, energy and vision. do promise to work it out and “build an At a level above the Council the Truselectoral roll” soon-ish. But it is a real demtees of CRT have the job of being responsionstration of the high regard we are held in ble and sensible. Yes the Council should be and we should be proud of this. We have all wise but that doesn’t mean staid. worked bloody hard to be considered thus. Because, to get back to Robin’s point, Whether on a dig, on your publicity stand, somewhere in this CRT structure there needs cleaning shovels in your garage or just supto be some vision, some determination and porting from your armchair, next time you some belief that impossible is only a word, raise a glass to your lips take a moment to and things can change. I’m not sure I see it say “well done”. anywhere else in the structure so the Council

Chairman’s Comment

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“If it is still derelict at the end of 2012 there is every chance we will be able to restore it in 2013. Bodge it in 2012 and nobody will find the money for us to go back later”

Chairman

Don’t restore anything badly

seems to be the best place to put it. So if you do get the chance to vote (because I know Navvies readers are boaters, BW staff, even anglers...) then think about it carefully. It’s going to be very easy to replace the current waterways movement with exactly the same people just with different hats. So don’t do your duty and just vote for the obvious, official candidate - vote for someone who inspires you. Someone who makes you do things you didn’t know you wanted to do. To quote Nigel Stevens from the last issue (only slightly out of context and I’m sure he won’t mind): “I don’t think CRT is thinking that way yet – I hope WRG will find some way of explaining,” Well we shall do our best but if we are the only ones pushing when everyone else is pulling then it’s not going to come to much. * As for who is going to represent WRG well it’s going to be me. I have fought hard to represent us at this level, and I see no historical precedence to suggest that democracy would be a good or helpful idea at this point! PS I’m personally offering a fiver to the first person who can send me evidence of CRT being referred to in print as the canalS & riverS trust.

And finally... So I am about to climb into an Olympic sized hole for the next six months or so. I'm not going to be completely incommunicado but don't expect to hear too much from me. Now this isn't going to be a problem; WRG has got some great site leaders, brilliant Board members and best of all Jenny Black. Out on site we are stacked full of people who understand about doing things the WRG way. So I am confident that this summer is going to be a cracker. As an old and increasingly grey chairman I am however entitled to try and con-

solidate all the "chairman waffle" that you will be missing out on into a few sentences. So my advice for 2012 is the incredibly corny:

"Don't restore anything badly". It's not quite as stupid as it sounds. If it is still derelict at the end of 2012 then there is every chance that we will be able to restore it in 2013. But bodge it in 2012 and nobody will find the money for us to go back to it later. And you are going to have to look at that wonky brickwork, duff landscaping, leaning piling, whatever, for a long time. Mike Palmer

Playing with fire Not metaphorically but real proper bonfires on site! Or to give it its correct term: ‘using fire as a tool’. Now we actually have a very good reputation here, with suitable precautions taken and, in the unlikely event of something looking like its getting out of control, we are able to step in with "something we had prepared earlier". However, last year we had two incidents that did "run away", with the emergency services being called in. Normally jungle bashing in late October involves begging a damp collection of twigs to catch light from the gently smouldering copy of Navvies you hold in your shivering hand. However, last summer/ autumn was about the driest and warmest we have had in ages. As a result not only were the sites in question drier than normal but so was everything everywhere. So what would normally be considered an acceptable firebreak just didn't do thetrick. In both these cases what actually caught light was a considerable distance from the bonfires and was inaccessible (i.e. over the other side of the cut, etc). As a result our volunteers couldn't get to it to deal with it, and so quite rightly the fire brigade were called in. So we give you possibly the most ridiculous safety reminder you will ever read in Navvies: Remember if you have had many weeks of drought conditions, re-think any use of fire.

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Coming soon Canal Camps 2012

Easter Camps: sorry! We’re afraid the Easter Canal Camps on the Hereford & Gloucester and the Chesterfield were fully booked by the time we went to press. If you’re desperate to go digging at Easter it might be worth giving the leaders or head office a ring in case there’s a cancellation.

BCN Cleanup: 22-23 April Last year the highlight of the annual Cleanup weekend on the Birmingham Canal Navigations was throwing our hooks into the inky water and pulling out a record 16 supermarket trolleys all still locked together! What will we find this time? Who knows, in the past the haul has included computers, bathtubs, goal-posts, street-lamps and a coffin! Not to mention the usual tyres, prams, and enough bikes to equip the Tour de France. It’s part of a long-running campaign by WRG, the local branches of the Inland Waterways Asssociation, the BCN Society and other local canal societies, to stop the lesser used parts of the fascinating BCN network from falling into dereliction. And to maybe persuade some of the local residents that when we refer to canals as an ‘amenity’ we don’t mean that in quite the same way as the sign that says ‘public amenity site’ on the council rubbish tip... This year the site is a brand new one for us: it’s the Walsall Canal, working in all three directions from the junction with the Walsall Town Arm: in along the arm to the town basin; back along the canal towards Birmingham; and up the Walsall Locks. We’ve got overnight accommodation at a college in Brownhills (lifts available from nearby stations), showers at the sports centre over the road, Maria Hearnden has volunteered to be in charge of cooking, and we might just be able to sort out a quiz for Saturday night. British Waterways will supply work gloves and the all-important grappling hooks for hauling junk out of the canal. Full joining instructions will be sent to anyone who books on, and you can contact leader Aileen Butler on 07703 567764 for further details. So don’t delay! Fill in the form below, and look forward to hooking your first trolley!

waterway recovery group

in association with BCNS, BW and IWA

I would like to attend the 2012 National Canal Cleanup on April 22-23 on the BCN Forename:

Surname:

Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

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

(pay 'WRG') for food (£13 for whole weekend)

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

Phone:

Signed: Please send this form to: National Cleanup bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

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Leader Training Day, Rowington Village Hall, Sat 12 May 10ish-4ish The detail was in the last issue of Navvies but over to Helen Gardner for a reminder... This is the chance for regular and experienced leaders to reflect on last year, input into improvements and share experiences. If you’ve never led before (and even if you think you might but you’re not sure) then you will pick up the gist of what it’s all about. Working party organisers from the local canal societies (especially if you’re hosting a camp) are also very welcome as we do cover changes to legislation and it’s always good to have feedback from both sides (so to speak). It’s free and lunch is included. Please book on via Jenny Black (email or telephone head office). Any questions / suggestions etc to me at helen_gardner@hotmail.com

Inspired by Bungle? Calling all professional chefs, camp cooks, wannabe camp cooks, “I like cooking but whoah 20 people seems like a lot”s, “I wouldn’t mind sharing the cooking on a camp but I’d miss being on site”s, “I’m not really a site kind of person and want to be more useful on a camp can I sort the evening meal for you”s and “What on earth do I do whilst my partner is on a canal camp for the whole of the summer – I don’t have the budget to spend it in Thailand which is what I’d actually like to be doing”s. There – that seems to have defined my audience... Due to popular demand the Leaders’ Training Day (see previous page) is going to be expanded to include our catering staff. There are some items on the agenda that could do with being passed on to both our cooks and our leaders so we intend to run some sessions jointly. We are also hoping that there are budding camp cooks out there who just need some ideas, tips, guidance, recipes and reassurance. This is your chance to come along, meet some of our regular cooks and find out what it’s all about – these sessions will be conducted as cook only sessions. I’ll be honest – the agenda for the cooks’ bit is in its infancy and really it should be tailored to those turning up. So please book on (via Jenny Black - email or telephone head office) as soon as you can and be prepared to have a think about exactly what you want to get out of the day – we will be sending a quick questionnaire before the day. Helen Gardner

Summer Canal Camps 2012 preview Part One: June/July Camps What? Already? Well, with the Christmas, Febuary and Easter camps getting booked solid a couple of months in advance, we thought we’d better tell you about the summer camps while you’ve still got a chance to book on them before they’re fully booked too... This year’s summer camps programme kicks off with a week on 30 June to 7 July at an old haunt that we haven’t visited for a while. The Wey & Arun Canal running through quintessentially English countryside on the Surrey and Sussex border has always been a favourite of our friends in the NWPG regional group, who are running this camp in conjunction with WRG. So let’s hear from their leader (and No 1 Wey & Arun fan) Bill Nicholson to catch up on what’s been going on there while we’ve been away... We have been asked to work on a new site on the summit of the canal at Dunsfold. Here the canal lies in a shallow cutting as it runs alongside Dunsfold Aerodrome, where the Harrier Jump Jet was made and which is now the home of TV’s Top Gear. You’ll be releived to hear that we are planning no stunts and that our work will be contributing to the Canal Trust’s plans to make navigable a mile and a half of this currently silted up stretch. Our work is likely to involve dredging, building a new silt trap and brick wall as well as building a new towpath along the north bank of the canal. We may also start the construction of a new boat house for a proposed trip boat if planning permission and funds become available in time. We shall need digger and dumper drivers, bricklayers and carpenters as well as plenty of manual and womanual labour! Accommodation will be at Dunsfold Village Hall conveniently located in the centre of the village close to both the site and an excellent pub which is opposite. We’ll be aiming to

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enjoy ourselves both in the work and during the evenings with quizzes, cinema and boat trips and who knows maybe a visit from Clarkson and co? Incidentally the Wey & Arun Canal Trust will also be running their own camp on the same site on 23-30 June: contact George Whitehead on 01626-775498 or by email to georgewhitehead1@tiscali.co.uk if you’re interested in joining them. Also starting at the end of June we have the first of two weeks on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal on 30 June to 7 July and 7 to 14 July. The local canal trust is busy bidding for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support restoration of the next section of canal from where the Welsh Waterways Festival was held a couple of years ago towards Cwmbran. We’ll have more information about it nearer the time, but for now here’s a few words from leader Cath Coolican-Smith. Tell us about it, Cath... We’ll be working further north than we have done before, following on from all the hard work that has been done here previously at Bettws Lane Lock, Ash Tree Bridge and other sites. We will also be doing some away days to the Swansea Canal on our first ever restoration project on what promises to be an up-and-coming scheme in the next few years. Next, on 14 to 21 July we return to a site that we haven’t held a week’s camp on for a while: the Wendover Arm This is being led by two of our friends in KESCRG, Stephen Davis and Bobby Silverwood. What’s happening, Bobby? This year’s KESCRG camp will be on the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal, continuing with a project we have been involved in for a couple of years. The last two years have seen the group excavating the Whitehouses Pumping Station and during this year’s camp we will be restoring the wharf wall and culverts, plus further excavation of surrounding structures. Plenty of opportunities for learning or developing your bricklaying skills, or some good old fashioned digging with a spade! Thank you, Bobby. Incidentally if you really want to find out in detail about what’s happening on the Wendover we’ve got an in-depth progress report from the Wendover Arm Trust on pages 34-35. Meanwhile also on 14 to 21 July we’ve got a week’s camp on the site of our successful New Year Camp 2010-11, the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, probably working on Nob End Locks. We’ll have more information for you about this one in the next issue. Staying up in the north, on 21 to 28 July we have the first of two weeks on the Lancaster Canal. Over to camp leader (and local lad) Paul Shaw for the latest... The restoration of the North Reaches of the Lancaster Canal is an ambitious project and WRG is excited to be spending two weeks in 2012 reprofiling and relining a section of the canal at Stainton. The Trust and WRG intend to restore a 225m length to water which will be the first prominent piece of restoration work to be done since the Trust was founded. This camp will involve a lot of earthmoving so there will the chance to learn how to drive excavators and dumpers. WRG will also get involved in vegetation clearance, tree felling and stonework restoration. Book now and experience WRG’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the beautiful setting of the Lancaster Canal. The same week 21 to 28 July we’re also running a camp on the Basingstoke Canal so let’s find out about it from leader Ed Walker... Back for one camp only, Matt Taylor has been persuaded to fly over from Australia to help me lead a camp on the Basingstoke Canal. Work at the moment is not completely nailed down as there is a large amount of contractors’ work going on on the canal, but will probably consist of maintenance work on the Deepcut flight of locks and possibly some towpath laying. Rowena Gaskell has been persuaded to cook for us so we will be extremely well fed. Should be a good camp but it’s booking up fast! Next time we’ll bring you some details of the second half of the summer programme including a couple of long stints of work on two of our main sites from last year - rebuilding Inglesham Lock on the Cotswolds, and installing a waterproof lining on the Montgomery - as well as camps on the Cromford Canal, Chesterfield Canal and Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Until then, as Ed says things are booking up fast - so book now to avoid disappointment! For all week-long camps unless otherwise stated, you should book via Head Office using the form in the Camps brochure mailed with Navvies 250, or online at www.wrg.org.uk. Canal Camps enquiries: 01494 783453 or enquiries@wrg.org.uk

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This was the ‘alternative’ New Year Camp. In the next issue we hope to bring you a report from the camp that it was an alternative to...

Camp report Christmas at Inglesham

Inglesham Post-Xmas Scrub Bash with eager expectation nearly led to fires being started there and then. Back to the “Because we’d got nothing Watchfield for more tea and safety talk folbetter to do”

All pictures by David Miller

lowed by a mega evening meal prepared by The blame or credit as the case may be goes Maria, chill out evening for all. Early breakfast 0730hrs as requested, to the ‘Americans’ Martin & Mo who asked me “what is there to do WRG wise in the vans loaded, SAD to site, nice white van to south after Christmas?” Innocently I said “I’ll CCT Eastern Depot at Alex Farm to collect plant trailer and Portaloo. Site welfare set up see what I can do!” Eventually we had approvals to extend the canal bed clearance and cutting and burning started in an area on upstream of Inglesham lock into the 350m the entry into the winding hole cleared by BITM & London WRG in the run up to Christlength owned by Cotswold Canals Trust. The southern centric camp was born; mas. While the illustrious leader was off site unsurprisingly the majority of the 14ish folks returning a hire car, Teacher Chris and newbies Ken & DoE’er Chris started on a little (there was much shuffling of attendees and visitors) were from the southern reaches, the technical job of replacing a deck plank on the exceptions being Laurence from Nottingham, River Coln bridge access to site. The rotten “Newbie” Ken from Northampton and Nick & ended plank, of railway sleeper proportions Rachael (gate crashing for the New Years Eve was removed and a new one inserted, alas party) from around the Leicester area. the dimension given meant a little bit on-site Because I had something better to do, adjustment was needed to snug-fit the ends the arrival day was declared the 27th Dec under the upstand, a little adapt-and-over(and so as not to confuse us with some other come by TC and Chris won the day. A event going on up North West way). Red van tirforing team under the leadership of Sleepy man was delayed by an unexpected call from Dave started tackling stumps left in the windKen on a National coach arriving in Swindon at 1030hrs: the plan was starting to unravel! A nice white (not for much longer) CCT Transit van with two extra seats in the back was collected, as was London’s Tirfor gear from Ed Walker’s house (and much coffee drinking!) by my very able assistant Nigel Lee. Everyone arrived at Watchfield Village hall (as recommended by our Chairman as one of his favorite most places to stay) except one volunteer whose communicative devices before and on arrival day said ”No” to every attempt to get a response for “please speak to me”. Kit was checked, introductions made, tea was drunk and we sallied forth for a site visit to set eyes on our scrub clearance Moose (left) in his role as ‘fire MUP’ challenge. Much rubbing hands

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ing hole. With Nigel chainsawing and with Moose as fire MUP, Richard T, Martin D, Tasterella, Iain C, Ken, Martin & Mo alternated between tasks and appropriate controlled bonfires were the order of the day as work started to clear the canal bed working upstream of the winding hole finally cleared by BITM’s pre-Christmas most excellent efforts. Back at the accommodation we welcomed Laurence. (note to self: the camp mobile is best kept on your person rather than in the flight case when someone tries to contact you, payback for those earlier unreturned calls!) So much work was completed that it adversely impacted the team performance in the evening’s skittles match against the Rachael Banyard’s W&BCT Christmas camp. Mind you the careful selection of our “best” players to supplement the opposition backfired, as they were in fact our best players as our team was trounced by the “pick and mix” team! Still the Inglesham team’s honour was upheld by “Radar Richard” in the “cut throat” knockout competition blowing away all comers and despite a chorus of good-hearted heckling! Thanks to Rachael & the Peterborough Arms for hosting the event. Thursday was one of those days where the persistent fine saturating rain makes you wonder whether model railways could have been a better choice of hobby. It is a testament to the navvy’s robust constitution that we laugh in the face of adverse weather, thick mud on the hammerhead turning area (thank you Martyn & Nigel’s summer camp initiative!) and crack on. Chainsaw Tim poached from W&BCT joined us (and, enjoying it so much, Tim decided to join us for the rest of the camp) and we had two chainsaws buzzing supporting the scrub clearance team. Moose-type bonfires drying out the sodden waterproofs sufficient to absorb more rain, leaving a ring of navvies steaming like little kettles around our piles of blazing heaven. An early finish and hot showers were the order of the day. The day’s exertions and a grand evening meal tempered the desire to go to the cinema so a DVD viewing of The Dark Knight and Peter Kaye at the Blackpool Tower in the hall’s committee room allowed the viewing participants to sleep for free! After dinner we said good bye to Teacher Chris, his short but morale-lifting stay was priceless and his offer to assist on Inglesham 2 camp during the summer needs

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Some of the ‘top Tirfor team’ in action no second thoughts for acceptance. Friday we had a deputation from the CCT chainsaw team who tackled the problem trees around the winding hole, a complex rotten cracked willow was expertly dismantled, more bonfires were lit and transferring logs to Alex farm continued apace. Ed Walker joined us for the day adding further to the scrub bashing teams’ effectiveness. The walk to the scrub was getting longer as the beavering away of the scrub team took them further away from the lock site. After another excellent evening meal a deputation departed for an evening out at the cinema and a new meaning for the Great Escape when it came to leave the car park! While they were away, the “stay at homes” were joined by Rachael and Nick for the New Year weekend. Saturday New Years Eve, saw a dry day and the “Americans” Mo & Martin, Tasterella , Iain, and Sleepy Dave, formed a top tirfor team; a particular tough stump by the entrance entertained them and passers-by for a good part of the day but navvy grit prevailed with that stump eventually reMoValed by the


might ladies muscle with a little help from and total commitment. As leader, my sincere mattock and bow-saw. Having achieved this thanks to Nigel my assistant, Maria my ace mammoth task other stumps flew out of the cook and Moose (because he’s bigger than ground as the “Americans” made a final fling of me) but to everyone that was there for makstump removing activity before they departed ing leading this camp a pleasure and for for an alternate evening engagement. The being a great bunch of people to spend time smoke from the scrub-bashers fires pinpointed with. The hunt for another southern Christtheir extensive progress along the canal bed as mas camp site is underway. There are some we left site for our NYE celebration meal. options being touted for one on the CotsBack at hall, Maria had started on our wold canals, watch this space... slap-up meal and the team after a wash and ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson brush-up assisted with the preparations. A veritable culinary treasure trove of delights was produced all washed down with appropriate beverages. Everyone, adjourned to the The Eagle pub to see the New Year in, and fireworks were in the air and with a bang (especially the pub local that made acquaintance with the occupants of the three police cars that came to wish him a happy new year!). What seemed like a good idea at the time with having a layin on New Year’s day before the church folks early arrival and cooking breakfast on the grill by the Thames was fatally flawed. So, on site on the day, I found that the Kit B generator just isn’t big enough to supply the WRG grill. Brunch became lunch after a frying pan was obtained for an electric hob. Despite no brunch, work Now you see it.... ...and now you don’t continued a plenty on site, logs continued to flow to Alex Farm Eastern Depot to the point that the pile was getting near needing an obstruction light for aircraft hazard warning! As the day drew to a conclusion, the site was cleared, the Portaloo returned to Alex farm for collection and under Nigel’s direction the trailer kit check took place under the effects of the falling rain, just as well there is a large porch at Watchfield! So in my capacity as the Inglesham coordinator, many thanks to all that came on the small but perfectly-formed lastminute Inglesham Christmas camp for the huge amount of work done during the camp in sometimes dire conditions with The channel above the lock starting to look like a real canal stoic enthusiasm, happy banter

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Dig report Wilts & Berks Canal...

Reporting from the joint London WRG and KESCRG Christmas Party dig on the Wilts & Berks Canal below Seven Locks

KESCRG / LWRG Christmas Party cated from the tree that had claimed it.

Bobby had promised good weather and he had clearly spoken to the right people – dry and sunny and warm made for good working conditions so the clearance progressed well. Compare this with last year – for those who can’t remember last year’s do – it was cancelled as we were all under a load of snow – we had a thing called winter, something that seems to have passed us by this year (so far!) Saturday evening involved festivities! The accommodation was in a school in Chippenham with showers and stuff and the opportunity for a modicum of exercise as although there was loads of space it was well spread out. A spectacular meal prepared by Eddie and Bungle (and friends) involved Pinky (or was it Perky), late of Ian and Liz’s garden, turkey, late of Tom’s and beef late of Eddie’s butcher, together with all the usual trimmings. Washing up involved a proper industrial scale thing that emitted boiling

David Miller

Well, a scrub-bashing weekend on the Wilts and Berks, need I say more – we could just fill in the rest with photos and go off to find something new and original in this splendid issue of Navvies. However, that wouldn’t really be fair on Martin as I did promise to write something! I can’t comment on Friday evening as I wasn’t there. Experience suggests that people arrived, chatted and had a beer or two but I’m only guessing. We arrived and went straight to site on Saturday. Site was the stretch of canal below Seven Locks – what I believe is the Lyneham side of Bowds Lane. We parked in the gloriously named Sodom Lane (which I assume is the back way in) and it was obvious that we had arrived at the right place – a row of familiar vehicles and the sound of chainsaws. Forestry were doing their bit and the rest of the crew were dealing with the scrub, with the usual lopping, slashing sawing and burning going on. We also got to clear up after the Forestry crew who demolished all the big stuff and then left us to tidy up. Di performed her marvellous hedge-laying trick and Nigel demonstrated a mix of skills by parallel parking his chain-saw – and yes, although I can parallel park (after a fashion), I can also guarantee that I would get a chainsaw stuck. Luckily help was at hand and “Why bother his saw was extri-

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cutting it down first?” wondered Ed...


water, steam and suds from every orifice, but did Party-time included a beer themed fancy dress competition (although a couple of cider themed costumes sneaked in) and a beer themed quiz. Much fun was had by all, not only answering questions, but the usual (beer themed) junk modelling. Various people (but mostly Mk II) were able to demonstrate their encyclopaedic knowledge of all things ale and the artists (no, not that sort) were able to demonstrate their skills at producing such things as the Diggers Arms. I can’t remember who won that bit – perhaps Mr Editor knows (actually, Steve remembers it as the team that included Mk II and Richard and Rowena and I’m sure he’s right). The fancy dress included a slightly disturbing entry from Graham as the Pub Landlord – now featuring as Helen’s profile pic, and Helen as something to do with The Hawk – Hawkshead, I guess, and Purple Fairy Helen as a cider themed green goblin. I could simply have turned up as me but hey. Sunday dawned bright and early and the perils of good beer were discovered. Tradition has it that there is always a small number of people who find the prospect of going to site on Sunday a little daunting. Perhaps they feel a little fragile or maybe their head hurts – this is not a suggestion that beer provided previously was in any way sub-standard, but there were very few comatose campers - and these are the good folk who usually clean the accommodation – as nearly everyone headed off to site. The forestry crew had moved on to fresh woods and pastures new but Rachael had made an early start and supplied us with a large tree to get on with. The weather was still mostly good – but fires were definitely necessary for warmth at times. These were not as small and controlled as they might have been – Martin fell afoul (I’ve no idea why Word insists on ‘afoul’ rather than ‘foul’, perhaps someone will enlighten me) of a burning ember and had real flames coming from his beard – a spectacular effect but not one to repeat – another reason to wear a hard hat – it forms a fire break, preventing the flames spreading to one’s hair! Work progressed to a sensible time with the usual early drifters who had longer journeys drove off into the evening. As far as I could tell, a good time was had by all and loads of work was done, scrub bashed and bons fired. Dave Worthington

From top to bottom: a selection of the ‘beer’ themed fancy dress costumes; the delicious food is served up; the winning team’s entry in the ‘make something from junk’ round

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from several groups to repair leaks in this section, and the raised water levels obviously proves that the repairs have held! With many thanks to all those who have helped with the puddling. Our local plant hire company had promised me the free loan of a 7-tonne digger for the week, but unfortunately they were unable to deliver it in time, so I had to wait until they were back at work on the 28th Wilts & Berks Christmas Camp to remind them. The digger duly arrived We were quite a small select group this year, that evening, so on Thursday and Friday as three or four of our regular Christmas Alan and I were able to start levelling off a campers were unable to make it this time. very lumpy and sloping section of towpath, Perhaps that’s why we only completed two but there wasn’t enough time left on the 1,000 piece and one 500 piece jigsaws! As camp to complete as much as we’d hoped. appropriate, two were of narrowboats - we’re I’ve been training Alan on the digger for the building up quite a library of canal jigsaws last year or two, and he’s now quite compebetween us now - and one of Cockington in tent. Devon, near where Di lives, which Rob gave On Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Alan her for Christmas. had gone home, but Liz had arrived to make Rob arrived on the 24th December, and up our numbers) we moved across the road on Christmas Day he and I manoevred our to the section of the canal below Lock 1 of workboat over to the offside at Dauntsey to Seven Locks, where there were several large start demolishing a very bushy willow which trees which had been felled by the farmer was overhanging the canal, while Di presome time ago on the offside, and which had pared our big Christmas dinner. When Alan been allowed to fall across the cut. It took arrived on Boxing Day we carried on with quite some doing, tirforing them over onto trimming back down the offside and brought the towpath for cutting up into logs. all the brash back and had a nice big bonfire. A lot of these had already been I provided the entertainment in the morning winched over when London WRG and KESwhen I gracefully slid down the bank on my CRG were here in December, so the piles of backside, arriving chest high in the canal, logs have built up all along the towpath, and and amazingly enough the hedgetrimmer still we’re gradually dumpering them up to worked once it (and me) had dried out. It Janet’s farm for storage. There were also was pooch Mina’s turn in the afternoon when several trees to cut out of the towpath she was standing on one end of the boat hedge, as farmer Philip is in the Higher when it jerked, loud splash, and there was Stewardship Scheme and is planning to lay Mina swimming indignantly back to the the hedge shortly. With the curious way of towpath bank. Not the best time of year for ownership boundaries, the first 80-90m of a ducking.... the towpath hedge up from Philip’s farm As more campers arrived, we moved belong to Janet, and Di has been busy laying up to the east end of my patch, and continthis section for a few hours every day in ued with the ongoing task of tirforing out between preparing food, cooking and shopwillows which had sprung up along the ping for all of us! banks, and Frank could come into his own by The main entertainment of the week overseeing the bonfire. Only two or three (apart from visits to the local pub) was a weeks ago the water level was so low that skittle match at the Peterborough Arms with the towpath and bank was about 5 metres the Inglesham campers, which was a great wide and Di had been able to strim all the evening - particularly as the Wilts & Berks vegetation except the willows, but after all team won, albeit augmented by some of the the heavy rain we’ve had recently the water Ingleshammers, there being a few more of level has come up nearly two feet, and them. tirforing had become a much more soggy Despite us being a small group, we still job and more difficult to free the roots from achieved quite a lot, and it was good to see the wet clay. friends again. Many thanks to everyone. During the past year we have had visits Rachael Banyard

Camp Report

...and Wilts & Berks again

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WRG BC News from our boat club

The New ‘Canal And River Trust’ will be upon us in April. [Actually June now ...Ed] But why oh why did they have to waste money on a new logo? It will be known as CRT according to ‘Them’, but looks more like CART to me (as the one that is put before the horse?) Two club members, Vaughan Welch and Bernard Hughes, will be standing for election as candidates for places on Council to the Trust. Both are most suitable candidates to represent boaters. Please support them, and DON’T FORGET TO VOTE! By the time you read this nominations will be closed. If any other club member is standing let us know asap by email or text. The Queen’s Jubilee: The AWCC would like boats from every club to be represented on the celebratory procession/flotilla/ pageant of boats on the Thames. At the AGM Jeremy Yearron (was) volunteered. Lynne, our Commode Door and AWCC rep, will be getting the details, so more of this later. Droitwich gathering on the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, hmm there is so much faffing around Droitwich Council about a gathering over this festival, this weekend or when in June it seems a good time to avoid the place. It would be great if we could arrange a cruise for members to use the Droitwich canals but if not, please try to make a visit there sometime this year. The Olympic Games - because of IWA (and wrg?) [No: WRG isn’t involved, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our volunteers don IWA shirts to help ...Ed] involvement there will be no National Festival this year! We await news of future events. Will The Games be remembered as the National Exterminator? Goodness knows how boaters will fare in the London area. My attitude to The Olympics is one of avoidance. This will mostly be by cruising North and West on the canals. If/when we go on the Thames this year it will be, out at Oxford, probably via Duke’s Cut, then upstream to Inglesham to see/help at the new

bits. See you there? Now for some positive planning of good places to get to by boat:

. BCN Cleanup: 21 - 23 April, contact and see p6 . daveapearson@talktalk.net Wendover Arm Camp 14 - 21 July, you . . .

can get boats near to the work and it gets nearer the more it gets done! Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival 16 -17 June, support wrg North West’s stall Inglesham - not sure yet about getting boats near to the work, more news later. Mont - Various weeks but especially 25 August - 1 September. The WRG BCAGM will be held at the Maesbury Marsh rally weekend 1 - 2 September, so get your booking in fast to alwyn@hotmail.co.uk

Look at your Volunteer 2012 leaflet that came with your last copy of that excellent magazine Navvies for more ideas for combining boating and wrging! Wishing you good boating in 2012 and hope to see some members during the year keep flying the flag! xxx Sadie Heritage (07748186867 sadiedean@msn.com)

Martin Ludgate

What do the Montgomery, Wendover and Inglesham camps have in common? That’s right - you can go to them by boat!

Maesbury on the Montgomery: AGM venue

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WRG at 40

“I just thought that ‘work camps’ sounded so much like some kind of internment camp – prison labour or something” – Neil Edwards

Forty views for forty years

40 Views for 40 Years The 11th 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. I paid a visit to the ‘Ivory Towers’ of Island House, Chesham to not only see where Jenny Black et al reside but also to interview Neil ‘Captain Canal Camps’ Edwards. Currently Chief Executive of The Inland Waterways Association, I thought it would be interesting to see what he could recollect of his time with WRG both as an active volunteer and more recently from an IWA perspective.

Q: How and when did you first get involved with WRG? A: It was in the late 1970s. I’d always been conscious of canal restora-

Helen Gardner

tion happening; I can’t really remember the first time I ever heard about it – just one of those things I knew was always there. I deliberately sought out the people who restored canals, I had a look in newspapers and magazines and I eventually found an address for Waterway Recovery Group After writing some letters I eventually got a response, and found I’d written to Graham Palmer’s address I think, at a time when he was going through a slightly overworked phase so it took quite a long while for me to get any information about WRG, which was a bit off-putting to start with. But I got some information about London WRG and went on the first available London WRG dig, and then went on a second one. It took a bit of a gap after that, but eventually I started going as a regular on London WRG digs. That’s how things developed. I gained an interest in the canal camps really after being with London WRG some time. At that particular point, which was probably about 1984ish, the work camps (as they then were) were coming to a bit of a review. The then organiser of the work camps, Nick Wright, decided he wanted to call it a day. So there was a notice in Navvies “does anyone want to take over?” and I put my hand in the air and said I’d give it a go. After much umming and erring the WRG board decided to give me a try, sort of as half of a team to run canal camps; this was very much on the say so of Bob Keaveney who was then running London WRG who vouched for me. The work camps that had been run up to date had been run very much along the lines of a moveable feast that went and stayed at a certain location for one, two, three weeks. Then the whole circus rambled on to somewhere else and stayed there for a little bit and that’s how the summer holidays were spent. It was probably about eight weeks or so of one continuous circus. When I took on canal camps I came with very much a National Trust background and a way of doing things that the National Trust did. Their modus operandi was very much along the lines of what we have for canal camps today. They had a whole series of one week camps at different locations with a very fixed list of those who would attend for what period and so on. It was all well sorted and organised in advance – that was very much my view of how the WRG camps should go. One of the first things I was keen to do was to change the name from ‘work camps’ to ‘canal camps’. I just thought that ‘work camps’ sounded so much like some kind of internment camp – prison labour or something. I know that ‘canal camps’ may not be perfect but it seemed like a step in the right direction to me. I got started from there, the first year I took them on there were only four weeks of camps: two weeks on the Basingstoke and two weeks on the Wey and Arun - gradually we built it up from there.

Q: The first work camps – what kind of volunteers were on them? A: I didn’t go on the early work camps so I don’t know for sure but I think it was a mixture, a bit like it is

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today, some new people and some regulars. The impression I have is that as time went on it got to be more regulars than new people. One of the views I had when I took it on is: the camps were a very good way of getting people involved for the first time in WRG who wouldn’t otherwise take the step to be a regular on the weekends. Insomuch that you kind of needed a whole week’s immersion on a canal camp to get to grips with it and to be persuaded that it was something you wanted to do – just to attend a weekend was a little bit harder to convey to people what it was all about. The work camps also satisfied requirements like the Duke of Edinburgh’s award so there was a good excuse to get people who had no intention of doing canal restoration into it. You had a chance in a week to persuade them that it was something they would enjoy and wanted to come back for. For my mind canal camps were a way to get new blood into the organisation and to involve lots of younger people who would grow into WRG – it was a way of renewing WRG continually and that was I suppose why I was really keen on it.

Q: What was the next progression? - In terms of kit, safety talks, publicity? A: I think WRG has evolved greatly over the years and certainly when I first went out with London WRG the work parties were very different to what they are now. For example, there was not much attention paid to health and safety; I can’t remember anyone wearing hard hats, and it was the usual thing to go off to the pub at lunchtime. Gradually, it became apparent that that sort of carry-on couldn’t continue if WRG was to be taken seriously and with a health and safety climate becoming more prevalent WRG had to think a little bit more professionally and it grew up from there. In very much the same way canal camps, over the time, have become a lot better organised and a lot better equipped. Certainly, when I first became involved the WRG vans were barely on the road so to speak, they were worn-out, tired vehicles and there was no money to go out and buy nice shiny new ones. A short while after I got involved we were lucky enough to get a Countryside Commission grant particularly through help from John Baylis who formulated the application. That kitted us out, for the first time I think, with some proper vans that were really roadworthy. As time has progressed we’ve now started to splash out on new vehicles and generally much better kit all round. In the early days it was a case of any free item of old clapped-out plant was gratefully accepted and any worn-out hand tools were soon pressed into use and catering kit was what everybody else had thrown out for the last time. We’ve purchased new equipment, gone for better health and safety standards and upped the game completely in terms of health and safety and really what volunteers can expect to be provided to be able to do the job properly. I think it has to be said, many years ago when WRG was starting out, WRG had little alternative – it really had to exist from hand to mouth on what was given and that may have been part of the excitement of it in terms of achieving the impossible with absolutely nothing, but I don’t think that’s a practical way of carrying on now and it’s of necessity to have had to become better organised and better equipped. The expectation from volunteers dictates that, I think.

Q: Jumping back to the London WRG weekends – what made you come back – what was the motivation? A: I always had this thing that I thought canal restoration was a good thing – a fun thing to be involved with and I was very much involved in doing things for the National Trust at the time and it was just making time for it. Also when I first started I was a little bit put off by the fact it seemed very much a clique and you had a bit of a struggle to join in but once you’d made the effort it was good and the people involved were encouraging so I thought keep going with it.

Q: Did you go on the board as part of your canal camps role? A: That came a little bit later, I think I joined the board in 1986 at Brentford Rally if I remember rightly. Just another progression of how things have changed, at that time, the board meeting, I seem to remember was held in the back of a lorry. It was all that was available on the rally site for a quiet corner.

Q: What kind of sites were you working on with London WRG? A: The first ever weekend I went on was on the Droitwich Canal, and I think it was at the time that Vines Park was starting to be excavated or looked at. I’m not sure exactly what we did – I’m not sure we did a great deal but it seemed entertaining at the time. Then the second weekend was on the Thames and Severn Canal – we had a little visit inside Sapperton Tunnel. After that regular haunts were the Wey and Arun and the Basingstoke. We did odd visits to other places – I remember working on the River Avon, Harvington Lock and Wilts & Berks occasionally. The Wey and Arun and the Basingstoke were pretty high on the agenda – and the Thames and Severn – they were the top sites at the time.

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Q: Did you go on canal camps? A: I didn’t go on them when they were work camps – I think the first I went on was when I’d taken a role in it. I did try for a time to try and turn up on every one – not for the whole week long but usually to start them off for a few days and then drop in or something. I kind of thought it was a bit of a duty and it was good fun to go and meet everybody really. So I could go and get to know who was involved and came along and what their gripes, moans and pleasures were and try to get to understand it better. I did lead a few camps from time to time just to keep a hand in, I think it was into the 1990s until I stopped doing them.

Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who taught it to you? A: All sorts really. I think probably the greatest skill was the dealing with people skills, or understanding what goes on and how things are organised. I don’t think there’s any one skill I’d hold up amongst others but I’ve certainly learned a great deal and that a wide variety of interesting, entertaining, and very informative people have helped me learn a great deal.

Q: Who’s inspired you? A: From the early days, the one person who stands out would be David Hutchings. His ability to galvanise a workforce of very little to do an enormous amount and to achieve great things on River Avon – he was quite a remarkable character. He was also very helpful to me later on in the work I was doing for the National Trust. He put himself out to be particularly helpful at a time when I was trying to get the Trust to sort out the River Wey; he was very good at entertaining some National Trust top brass for me and educating them on how a river navigation should be run. At the time I was on the Trust’s council, there were some considerable difficulties on the River Wey and it had got to be the subject of a motion at the annual general meeting that was highly critical of the way the Trust was running the navigation. Consequently the Trust had formed an internal board of inquiry which I was asked to be part of. It involved a great number of meetings with people on the River Wey and a set of recommendations and a whole report on how the management should be changed. Partly it was looking at how things were done elsewhere and consequently the Trust took up the recommendations more or less in total – things have improved greatly.

Q: What’s your boating experience? A: My first experience was on narrowboat holidays with friends shortly after leaving school. The first was a trip on the Thames and River Wey, the second was a trip from Shire Cruisers, with Nigel Stevens [See previous copy of Navvies for interview with Nigel ...Ed], though he probably won’t remember it. I actually got to go twice from his yard in later years. The first time was very soon after he’d started up and it was an interesting time because there were a lot of commercial vessels still on the Aire and Calder Navigation – I remember we got up as far as Selby and remonstrated with the lock keeper who wouldn’t let us out onto the tidal Yorkshire Ouse and so we went down to Goole and went as far as we could and it was great fun. In due course I managed to buy a share in Fulbourne. That was in 1993 I think – I got a share just after the Peterborough Festival and kept with that for a few years. In the end I sold the share because I wasn’t really doing enough to keep the boat maintained or using it that much. It was good because it enabled me to get around most of the waterways system.

Q: What’s your current connection with the IWA? A: At the moment I run with the title of Chief Executive and head a small staff here at the head office in Chesham - I joined in 1995. I had been, for a time, a trustee or a member of council and I first put myself forward for election in about 1989 and it really just kind of all happened – not in a planned way – the opportunities arose and I decided by the mid 90s that I’d had enough of working in the City really and [should do] something that I felt was a bit more useful and enjoyable. I decided to retire myself from the City and have a go with the waterways and here I’ve stayed.

Q: What are you most proud of? A: I have to say one of the things I felt was important at the time was keeping new blood coming into WRG. I felt there was a time when Graham Palmer was looking to pack things up with WRG and he was suffering ill health, canal camps were questioned as to whether they were an essential part of WRG. It was published in Navvies at one time that they were peripheral and there would be no more – this was at the time when they were looking for people to take it on. So I thought it was something that would really be important to the organisation, if week-long working holidays packed up then it was closing the source of a lot of new blood coming into WRG and I could quite see the organisation going into a spiral of a small clique that re-

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flected on past has-beens rather than looking-forward organisation. Whilst there were many others around at the time who were also very anxious to save WRG and keep it going, I felt my contribution could be to keep canal camps going and be something that would help to get new people in. I feel that, over the years, that has been a successful way.

Q: The nickname ‘Captain Canal Camps’ – do you know where that came from? A: It’s kind of obvious in a way but I can’t remember. I can’t remember who coined it. Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: I think it’s many great achievements – on the one hand it’s done an awful lot for the people who have participated and supported in it. I think it’s inspired all sorts of people that waterway restoration is possible – it’s shown what people once thought were nochance restorations are things that people now boat on. It’s demonstrated the art of the impossible, it’s shown that people are - if they have the determination and enthusiasm – they really can achieve things that government would rather they didn’t in a way. WRG has been, throughout its existence, viewed in a special way really as the people who get things done and don’t sit around in committees and talk about it; people who are out there in the buckets and spades, diggers and JCBs. I think it’s a very fair representation WRG should be most proud of and hopefully it’s something that WRG will long continue with. Even though WRG has to be more professional and do its paperwork – the fact that WRG actually does things is really its strongest thing. Martin Ludgate

Q: What would you say WRG is not so good at? A: Perhaps that’s changed over time. I think years ago I always considered WRG was not very good at letting new people in; it Neil working at Lee Farm Lock, Wey & Arun, 1992 was too cliquey. I think great efforts have been made to try and change that and to really get people involved rapidly and get them thoroughly immersed – which is great. I think WRG may sometimes be afraid of its own capabilities and afraid to grow – there is still a tendency of not letting it get too big so that those at the very top of WRG have close control on it. Which is very understandable but I think every organisation has to develop, grow, expand and get new people in; and not be afraid of allowing new blood into its higher management. WRG needs to be adventurous and take the occasional risk and try things out – that isn’t to say it hasn’t. It’s a difficult balance. I’m certainly not critical of those who run WRG now – it’s a difficult job. It’s remarkable that so much is done within WRG on a volunteer basis, that it’s kept going for so long and that people are so loyal to it. Q: What has changed over time with canal restoration in general? A: Canal restoration as a whole has had to get its act together and be more professional. Any group that now consists of a group of people who want to tootle down to the waterside and titivate at the weekend will get nowhere. You need to sort out the politics, you need to carefully plan what you’re doing. Volunteers and physical restoration are still a very important part of that and really a political tool as well as having fun doing useful work. The changes that have been brought about in WRG have been partly through the foresight and

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Tim Lewis

vision of perhaps a small number of people. Credit must go to Mike Palmer for his visionary approach in getting to grips with health and safety and having some strategy and firm leadership for WRG – which I think has been really important. Credit has to go to Alan Jervis in the early days of rescuing WRG when it possibly could have faltered. His leadership at the time was inspirational and although I didn’t always agree with him on everything I always had great respect for what he did and still does. The Chelmer & Blackwater: Neil (left) on the Springfield restoration, 1992 other person who I think did a great deal to modernise WRG was Mick Beattie who was one of our fortunate recruits from the canal camps. I can remember his first canal camp up on the Pocklington Canal where really he was instrumental in saving the camp. Since then he got very much involved in the logistics, the running of all the equipment – the vehicles, trailers and getting them all to the right place. He did a sterling job in showing how it should be done.

Q: Do you have any classic ‘do you remember the time when’ stories? A: There are probably lots and they’ve probably been told before – going back into memory I would perhaps example working with David Hutchings on the River Avon and just his ability to work his workforce so hard but so willingly. I was there for the weekend when he gave London WRG a fiver to spend at the pub but we were so tired we couldn’t spend it.

Q: The future – interesting times? A: Absolutely. It is interesting but there will always be a role for WRG even though there might come a time when WRG isn’t the setup it is now. There will always be a role for volunteers to do active work on the waterways. With the tightening economic climate there’s probably never been a time when volunteers are as needed as much as they are now; on restored waterways, waterways under restoration and those that are the first glimmers of hope. When there isn’t much money around to employ professional contractors then it’s volunteers who can keep restoration work alive and can really demonstrate public enthusiasm for waterways. If people are out there doing things, it demonstrates to the politicians that there’s a demand and there’s something to pay attention to. An example is on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. I think I would add to the other great achievements of IWA over the recent years has been taking on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation and saving it from going to rack and ruin. A sterling job has been done in sorting it out and raising the standards for boaters and demonstrating how much work can be achieved by a wide volunteer force as well as just the contractors and the paid staff there. It really demonstrates how waterways in the future can be run on a lot lower budget but achieve much better results and standards, and at the same time a much great community involvement. One of the great strengths of the Chelmer & Blackwater is that it’s a waterway that’s not so much a heavily boated waterway but it’s certainly a heavily visited waterway – by the walkers, by people who just come to visit it. It’s sort of one of the most popular places in Essex almost some weekends. It has firm support from the local authorities – you can see how important it is to the local people. All the waterways need to demonstrate that there is a need for them and a love for them amongst the people who live around them. One of the big lessons for the future is greater involvement from more people in actively being part of the waterways. The Canal & River Trust transformation of BW has an opportunity in that area. If they grasp that opportunity properly then it could be a great success and realise many of the things IWA and WRG has been preaching for years.

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Stereotypically I found George Eycott on the Mont applying oil to some metal. I say found – I did pre-arrange my visit. I say George Eycott but he’s often known as ‘Bungle’. And when I say oil and metal I probably should clarify he was preparing a rather yummy lasagne for dinner for the New Year camp...

Q: How and when did you first get involved with WRG? A: I can’t remember the year – I was at Bath University. I went for a

Martin Ludgate

walk and I looked at the Ordnance Survey map and it said ‘pumping station’ and I thought that looks interesting – it looks like it’s got some machinery involved. So I wandered down the hill and found Claverton Pumping station (which wasn’t just a diesel engine with a pump) but a big water wheel driving a pump. So I got involved in that. There was a chap there called Bill Brown who was involved in the Wilts & Berks, and he said you need to join the Wilts & Berks. A couple of months later, despite the fact I hadn’t joined the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust (where Claverton was) I somehow ended up joining the Wilts & Berks. I didn’t get involved locally in Bath because I went back home to Reading and my nearest point of restoration was the Wilts & Berks at Abingdon. I rang the Abingdon work party organiser and started getting involved there. Incidentally that’s how I ended up working at Vodafone because he was a manager at Vodafone looking for people. I then discovered that the branch I was involved in at the Wilts & Berks only had shovels and things (we were talking about one day having a dumper), but the neighbouring branch had a tractor. I thought ‘that sounds like a laugh’ so I met up with a chap called Roy Morel and in his garage he had 2 dumpers, both knackered, I used to go there two evenings a week and rebuild both these dumpers. They were two-wheel drive dumpers – I didn’t know much about dumpers then and we decided we were going to use one of these in the Abingdon branch. We arranged to borrow a trailer and a friend’s range rover and we got this dumper back to Abingdon. Then we tried to drive it to site. I very quickly discovered that two wheel drive dumpers actually don’t drive anywhere – they just get stuck – unless it’s a hard surface they’re completely useless. We spent time pushing, dragging and digging this dumper out getting to site, it got parked on site where it didn’t do anything for a year because it was too wet to move it. So we dragged it back out a year later and sent it to a site where they had a hard standing. That’s sort of how I got involved.

Q: What was your motivation? A: It’s the engineering – I like mechanical things that you can see how they work. So Claverton’s a really good example ‘cos you can see the waterwheel, the drive shaft, the gearwheels turning, the beams running and the pumps working.

Q: What kind of volunteering were you doing for them? A: Just helping out – so I’d go round oiling things. When we had a bearing go down we’d go take it apart. Unlike bearings in engines in things I’d help my Dad in his workshop with (before I went to university), these bearings were a couple of foot across – you’d have to have chain blocks to move a bearing.

Q: How did you come across WRG? A: In 1998 we had the national trail boat festival. They said ‘what would be really useful is all this plant you’re working with down at Abingdon – we could do with some of it for the festival’. Now I knew nothing about festivals at that time. I said I’d take the tractors to Wotton Bassett, in those days we didn’t have plant trailers or land rovers or beaver tails so we drove the two 1950s tractors from Abingdon to Wootton Bassett. In a car that takes about 40 mins, in a tractor it’s a day’s journey especially if you go via Newbury. We split the journey at Newbury. I did indeed drive one of the tractors to work just for a laugh – that’s when I discovered you should never, ever drive a 1950s Fordson tractor while wearing a white shirt, because the oil comes off the side of the engine and sprays all down in a line. I said, ‘if I’m bringing this kit down and you’ve got some setting up stuff to do beforehand and afterwards, I’ll bring a tent and stay there the week before and week after to give you a hand’. Next thing I know they had a meeting and decided if he’s going to be there the week before and week after, and he’s going to be the only person, he’d better be the site manager. So they rang me and told me which was a bit of a surprise. It was more services manager in hindsight. We got plumbing working, I learnt about plumbing very quickly – both freshwater and not quite so freshwater. And which drains you should put things down and

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Martin Ludgate

which drains you really, really can’t put things down. Then we discovered we needed electricity and no one had thought of this – we had traders we’d promised power to that I knew nothing about. We talked about we can borrow this generator or that generator. A couple of weeks in advance of the festival somebody said if you need a bigger generator, down at Rachael’s [Rachael Banyard’s – Dauntsey] Waterway Recovery Group have got parked a truck generator. I thought we can’t possibly need anything that big that’s ridiculous – then when we worked it all out we thought it might be cost effective – who knows about this truck mounted generator? That’s when I met Chris Spencer. Chris Spencer rolled up with what had just been named Sammy – at that time we’d had it such a short length of time it was still in its original Michael Samuelson colour scheme. So this Bedford TK truck rolled up with a 50kva generator on that Chris Spencer had used once by himself (when Michael Samuelson had supplied it he supplied someone who knew how to work it). We fired this generator up and it was at that point that I started learning a lot about generators as well. I’d never worked on a generator this big – this was huge. We learned quickly not to trust the diesel gauge; when it said you had quarter of a tank left what it actually meant was it’s about to stop. Once its stops it’s a bastard to get going again – you had to start undoing jet pipes. We also learned that when it says it’s seveneighths full that meant you were about to pour diesel over your boots. We had to do a couple of bodges to keep it going and I sort of got the hang of it. I didn’t really every expect to see it again. So we’d done this two weeks in a field and I thought ‘that was quite entertaining’. At some point I’d been at Dauntsey at the same time as Sue Watts and WRG North-West. I met John Palmer for the first time there as well. Oh yes - we’d done the clutch in on Rachel’s van towing the Fordson tractor and trailer and got recovered to Rachel’s because it was her van we’d done the clutch on. We were sat there with a tractor and trailer and no means of moving it. Everyone had said ‘John Palmer’ll move it – John Palmer’ll move it’ and he took one look and said ‘I’m not towing that’. Sue Watts had got me signed up to Navvies so I was getting this magazine. I saw this ‘national festival’ and I thought – I’ve just done an IWA festival this looks like a laugh, I’ve got some annual holiday I’ll go to Salford for two weeks. That was my very first canal camp and the first time I’d met lots of WRG people rather than just odd bits of North-West. I met Mick Beattie and Jude Moore who were the leader and assistant leader. Mick Beattie I had actually met previously because they’d done a training session at Rachael’s teaching people to drive dumpers. We’d got in a bit of trouble at the Abingdon end of the Wilts & Berks because we’d just cracked on and no one had told us about training schemes. A photograph appeared on the front page of the Wilts & Berks magazine of two of us sat on a dumper driving down a towpath with our hands in the air waving because we’d finally got this bloody dumper dug out. I should point out that this dumper was unusual, it did have two seats – it was before things like roll bars had been mandated – although you say dumpers should never have passengers it did have a passenger seat. I don’t think it was fitted in the factory. All hell had broken loose because IWA had got a copy of this and sent a letter saying ‘we think the Wilts & Berks are pushing their luck with a) doing things like this and b) publishing it’. So the Wilts & Berks people were saying ‘you have got a dumper ticket haven’t you?’ – no one in our branch knew anything about dumper tickets. So – there was a training camp going on at Dauntsey – I turned up and Mick Beattie was there – he trained and signed me off. So I had met him but I don’t think he remembered me at that point. He said ‘what’s your name then’ and I said ‘George’. He said Bungle at the 2003 National, in his Panto dame outfit from the night before

page 22


‘George? Oh we’ll call you Bungle’. So I’d been named Bungle before anyone knew what I was like. Salford National was a bit wet – I say you can tell how long people have been in WRG by which National they remember. Some people say ‘St Ives, that was muddy’ – some people say ‘Salford was a muddy festival’ (and it was, we were dumpering mud off site and bring back woodchip to replace it) – but if you’ve been around a really long time ‘Wakefield – there was nothing more muddy than Wakefield’. I sat on a dumper for a week and a half ferrying, towing the diesel bowser around. I got a bit more involved with generators, found this Sammy truck again.

Q: This ability to pick up things – what’s your background? A: I’m a radio communications engineer so nothing at all to do with plumbing. But fundamentally it’s engineering isn’t it? It moves, you see where it moves, if it comes out somewhere you don’t expect it you stop it coming out there and make it come out somewhere else. That happens whether it’s water or electric. If it’s mechanical and whirrs round and round you can see where it’s supposed to whirr round and round – if it’s whirring round and round in the wrong place you make it whirr round and round where you want it. I enjoy that sort of stuff.

Q: After the Salford festival what was your continued involvement with WRG – weekends or canal camps? A: Never really done a lot of weekends with WRG. I should say I am treasurer for South-West. WRG South-West bit in abeyance at the moment. If someone’s going digging somewhere and I want to go and join in – I don’t care what group they’re in I’ll just turn up. I’ve done very few weeklong camps in recent years, I tend to do the festivals and that’s about it. Obviously there’s no festival next year so I might actually go on a real camp.

Q: Did you do any canal camps at the beginning? A: I got a phone call from Mick Beattie after the National early in ’99 saying we’ve got to build some moorings for the National. You’re alright driving a dumper we need someone to drive a dumper for two weeks, can you turn up. We were building moorings alongside the River Severn – that was good fun. That was where we had the slight incident where we had a dumper on hire – we had to drive down this curving path. We’d created all these scaffolding moorings which were a bit tatty but were functional and the idea was they were only ever going to be temporary. As we worked along we discovered behind the bank that was crumbly and crap were concrete piles. So we dug back to these piles and thought there’s no point with this temporary scaffolding stuff, we can effectively dredge a bit of river out and moor people against the nice edge. The last one – Mick said ‘let’s make this the deluxe one’. So we have a curving path down to it, gabions full of stone – we had to backfill it a bit. We were driving down with dumpers full of stone tipping it on the gabion basket. That was where Lou Kellet told me about gabion jointing rings. She had one of these rings on her finger – somebody had said to her ‘what’s that’? She said ‘it’s a gabion jointing ring’ – ‘really – when did you go to Gabia?’ We had Roger Burchett, he was sat in an excavator and I was driving nose onto him and tipping stone and then backing back out again. As I drove down, he sat there, leant back in the cab, rolled a fag waiting for me to tip this stone. As I go forward, one of gabions, the side gave way and the front of the dumper is sliding into the River Severn. I’m like ‘whooh – where’s reverse? Where’s reverse? Get it in reverse. Reverse would be really good right now.’ Crunch, grind, grind, crunch get it in reverse. Give it bollocks trying to get this thing to back out. As the wheels are spinning backwards more and more stone’s being thrown into the river. Finally it picks up and pulls back out. The whole time Roger’s just sat back in the cab smoking his fag watching. I said ‘bloody hell Roger – how can you sit there?’ all shaking. And he said ‘nothing I could do boy – if you’d gone in the river I’d have swung the bucket round to give you something to hold on to’. Then did two weeks at the Worcester National. I think the Worcester National was the last year I had a car at a National. Mick Beattie, to the Salford National, brought two land rovers with him. Eddie had a land rover as well. Alan Jervis had a shiny new land rover. The following National, by then I bought a land rover - technically I’d bought half a land rover as I shared it with a chap called Luke Walker. I always maintained I owned the broken half.

Q: Where did the pasty wagon come into it? A: The pasty wagon’s fairly recent. At Worcester this thing called Sammy turned up again, I started getting a little more involved. The following year, 2000, Waltham Abbey, I got properly involved in it. It was

page 23


running the admin compound and we discovered it didn’t have enough load on it – this was a perennial problem with Sammy. We found these lights in the back of the tardis that had been left from a National ten years earlier – that’s when we had the illuminated pylons. The first night we put this on the roof of the cabins and said ‘the bottom of that pylon – it’s glowing yellow’. Next day during the day I climbed up a ladder onto the roof and angled it up at this pylon. You could see this enormous pylon glowing yellow. It had galvanised metallic paint on it and it was reflecting the yellow light against a black sky. Thought – hmm – we’ve got another one over there – let’s plug another one in. From ten miles back round the M25 you could see these two pylons glowing. I am told there is a pylon appreciation society on the internet – I have to say I haven’t looked – and the picture of these pylons is on the website. The next year we went to Milton Keynes. 2001 was the first year I did 3 weeks at a National –the previous training weekend I’d got my telehandler ticket. I’d decided, this National thing, there weren’t always dumpers there and if you weren’t driving plant you ended up showing traders where to go – isn’t really my sort of thing. It would be useful to drive that telehandler. So training weekend came up and Just Jen taught me telehandlers. Then I got a phone call a couple of months before the National – ‘you’ve now got a telehandler ticket haven’t you? We need somebody to turn up a week before everyone else because the fencing’s going to arrive on the back of lorry. We need it all unloaded’. Ok then. I turned up and drove the telehandler for the first week. We’d put a request in that we needed a yellow flashing light – apparently a bright yellow JCB driving round a green site with nothing on it is too invisible. The hire company said ‘yes – you could have a yellow flashing light’ – it was a magnetic mount on the roof. I drove under a tree and it swept it off the roof and it went down and under the back wheel. The first I knew of it was when I saw the cable was stretching down by the side of the cab. ‘Oh – that was the yellow flashing light’. I had to ring the hire company up because David King said ‘you broke it – you can tell them’. They said ‘save all the bits, – we keep all the bits and make good ones out of all the broken ones – they frequently get broken, we’ll send a van out with another one’. So they sent a van out and he said ‘have you got all the bits’. I gave him the carrier bag and he said ‘there really is nothing there worth saving – have you got a skip?’ Sammy was running the WRG compound and the admin compound and was giving us endless grief. Chris Spencer, at that point, had drifted off a bit and I sort of inherited it. Every time I went off-site I’d get a phone call saying ‘it’s stopped again’. Because I’d been there in its earlier unreliable days, and some people would say later unreliable days, I’d learnt its little tricks; Malcolm Bridge was always on at me – you need to write this down you need to write a manual. Indeed I did – I wrote it down when we sold it. I’m working my way on to the pasty wagon. Preston Brook National came, [2005] it had been a bad year for Sammy. At Saul Festival it had overheated badly and had problems with the alternator on the generator. We thought we’d fixed everything but in the pre-week it died on us. I spent an hour trying to work out what the problem was – I got it running again. It got to the stage where I was sat there waiting for it to stop. In the last week running it all Saul I basically didn’t sleep for 4 days. I thought this is getting silly. Things had changed anyway, when we got it in the first place generator hire was hideously expensive. I went on the radio – I can’t fix this – we’re just going to have to go and hire one. We ran this generator and it was a revelation – I’ve since learned that not all hire generators are like that. The experience I had with Sammy has stood me in good stead with hire generators. We sat there and re-planned how we were going to do things in future. We realised hiring the generator was not the expensive bit – it’s the electrical distribution with it, and the transportation. We went through all the ‘we’ll have a kit trailer but you’ll have to tow that to site but we’d have to go back for the generator.’ What we really want was a vehicle we could put all the kit in the back and tow a generator as well – wouldn’t that we great but we’ll never find anything like that. We’d gone through a lot of options but hadn’t really got an answer. In about October I was idling browsing a website about land rovers and I found this place that was selling this ex-electricity board land rover. It’s got this enormous box on the back – loads of space and it can tow. I went and looked at it, Jonathan Smith went and looked at it. Not sure Malcolm ever did go and look at it but we just spent his budget without him noticing. So we go the pasty wagon and we’ve had it five years now.

Q: Why is it called the pasty wagon? A: It’s called the pasty wagon because one of its features is it has a 110V generator on the engine so you can run power tools and things. This vehicle was a mobile workshop stroke welfare facility for Eon so in the back of it it has an oven. It’s not a very big oven – it’s just about big enough to fit 4 pasties in.

Q: Has anyone inspired you? A: The person who got me to come back originally was Mick Beattie – I know other people have said ‘he

page 24


was my inspiration’ and to a certain extent he was. It’s a shame he’s not as involved now as he used to be but he’s moved on and he’s doing other things. He was the person who kept me coming back.

Q: How did you get involved in the WRG board? A: Yeah that was a bit random. I sort of got involved in the WRG committee – I’m not entirely sure how – I was asked to go to a meeting ‘cos they were going to talk about Sammy I expect. So I started going along to the WRG meetings. At a reunion on the Basingstoke Jonathan and Mike cornered me and said ‘there’s this IWE board ’, WRG had somehow ended up in Inland Waterways Enterprises, they wanted me to go along. I was a little puzzled why they wanted me to be honest. So I got involved in that, so consequently became a board member of IWE and a director. For reasons that I never really understood but Mike had his reasons, I still wasn’t actually on the WRG board – he said ‘it’s a cunning plan – we’re trying this out’. Four meetings in and they’re talking about stuff that happened at the WRG board and I hadn’t been there. I said ‘Mike this is ridiculous’. He was ‘yeah yeah – it was a good theory but it didn’t work’. So suddenly I went onto the WRG board. Although I was attending board meetings I didn’t really have a position on the board. Then Malcolm Bridge said ‘I’m going to resign as plant director’ – he’d said this several times and everyone had ignored him and he didn’t resign. So when he said it the next time everyone ignored him and he didn’t resign. Then he said ‘next year I’m definitely resigning’ and we were like ‘yeah yeah move on’ and then he did. I said ‘I’m doing plant stuff with Malcolm anyway why don’t I take over plant’. So I became plant director.

Q: Is there anything else you wanted to say? A: I was going to mention about cooking. This is the Christmas camp 2011 and I’m cooking. It’s the 2nd time I’ve cooked. I did it originally because I thought it would be a bit of a laugh. Everyone sees me as greasy and oily and going on doing electrical and mechanical things. At the National my work is before – once the National’s open I’m off duty pretty much – there’s not much to do. Quite often I’ll go and help the cooks at the National. People assume that I do all the greasy things, I do enjoy a bit of cooking. I was talking to Eli on the phone and she asked ‘what are you doing?’ – I said ‘I’m thickening a sauce using egg yolks’. There was a pause ‘you’re what?’ I said – ‘I’m just following these instructions in my cook book’. She said ‘That’s classic French cooking’. Is it? I don’t know. I think she was slightly surprised. I wouldn’t Bungle caramelises the pudding in his own inimitable way attempt anything like that on a canal camp. So I did it a couple of years ago and proved I could do it – there was only one memorable disaster which was the lasagne soup. Never ever buy cheap frozen mince, it turns out to be largely water and when you try to make lasagne with water it turns into soup. Interviewer: For the record we should probably state that today 28th December 2011 Bungle made lasagne. Bungle: “Which wasn’t a soup. I’ve laid that ghost to rest”. Interviews by Helen Gardner

page 25


Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties

Feb 11-18 Camp 201201 Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Essex Feb 18/19 wrgBITM Grantham Canal: Manns Bridge. Scrub bashing and stump pulling. Feb 18 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Feb 25/26 London WRG Somersetshire Coal Canal Mar 2-8 WAT Wendover Arm: ‘Seven-day weekend’ work party. Bed & bank lining. Mar 3/4 wrgNW Cromford Canal Mar 3/4 Essex WRG Grantham Canal: provisional, dependent on work. Mar 3/4 KESCRG Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones/Wildmoor Bridge. Accom at Watch Mar 10/11 London WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Mar 11 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Mar 17/18 wrgBITM Chichester Ship Canal Mar 24/25 NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: Gennets Lock access construction Mar 24 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Mar 29-Apr 5 WAT Wendover Arm: ‘Seven-day weekend’ work party. Bed & bank lining. Mar 31/Apr 1 London WRG Chichester Ship Canal Mar 31/Apr 1 wrgNW Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Mar 31-Apr 6 ‘Technical Camp’Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Over extension. Leader Martin Thompson Experienced volunteers wanted including machine operators for unoffic Mar 31-Apr 9 Camp 201203 Chesterfield Canal camp: leaders Steve Baylis and George Rogers Apr 6-13 Camp 201202 Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Over extension. Leader Martin Thompson Apr 14/15 Essex WRG North Walsham & Dilham Canal: provisional Apr 14/15 KESCRG To be arranged Apr 21/22 wrgBITM Wendover Arm: Bentomat lining, using the tried and trusted WAT meth Apr 21/22 IWA/WRG/BCNS BCN Cleanup. Please book online at wrg.org.uk or using form on page Apr 21/22 London WRG BCN Cleanup Apr 28/29 NWPG Thames & Severn Canal: Bricklaying at Inglesham Lock Apr 28 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection May 4-10 WAT Wendover Arm: ‘Seven-day weekend’ work party. Bed & bank lining. May 5/6/7 Essex WRG Wilts & Berks Canal: joint dig with WRG North West May 5/6/7 wrgNW Wilts & Berks Canal: Joint dig with Essex WRG May 5/6 KESCRG Wendover Arm: Whitehouses. Accom at Ivinghoe Aston VH May 12 Sat WRG Leaders Training Day: for Canal camp and work party leaders, at Rowin May 13 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Fillongley May 19/20 wrgBITM Rickmansworth Waterways Festival: Site Services. May 19/20 London WRG Chesterfield Canal May 26/27 NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: Gennets Lock access construction Jun 2/3 KESCRG Basingstoke Canal: provisional Jun 2-5 wrgBITM Boxmoor Canal Festival: (Wendover Arm Trust) Site Services and car p Setup Fri-Sat, open on Sun-Tue.

For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple

page 26


hfield VH

Canal Camps cost £56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 2012-01' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, enquiries@wrg.org.uk. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, dave.wedd@wrgbitm.org.uk Dave Wedd David McCarthy Tim Lewis Roger Leishman David McCarthy Frank Wallder Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis Mike Palmer Dave Wedd Bill Nicholson David McCarthy Roger Leishman Tim Lewis David McCarthy

n cial ‘pre-camp’ preparing for the following

n

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ngton.

parking.

Frank Wallder Bobby Silverwood Dave Wedd Aileen Butler Tim Lewis Bill Nicholson David McCarthy Roger Leishman Frank Wallder David McCarthy Bobby Silverwood Helen Gardner Mike Palmer Dave Wedd Tim Lewis Bill Nicholson Bobby Silverwood Dave Wedd

01494-783453 01252-874437 0161-740-2179 07802-518094 01442-874536 0161-740-2179 01992-636164 07971-814986 07802-518094 01564-785293 01252-874437 01844-343369 0161-740-2179 01442-874536 07802-518094 0161-740-2179 01494-783453 week’s work 01494-783453 01494-783453 01992-636164 07971-814986 01252-874437 07703-567764 07802-518094 01844-343369 0161-740-2179 01442-874536 01992-636164 0161-740-2179 07971-814986 07989-425346 01564-785293 01252-874437 07802-518094 01844-343369 07971-814986 01252-874437

enquiries@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk rleishman@ukgateway.net nw@wrg.org.uk essex@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk rleishman@ukgateway.net london@wrg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk essex@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk rleishman@ukgateway.net essex@wrg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk helen_gardner@hotmail.com mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 27


Navvies diary

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: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West Canal societies’ regular working parties end of Friar St. Reading. Phil Dray 07956 185305 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 Tuesday CSCT Chichester Canal Carley Sitwell 01243 773002 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 Every day 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 Two weekends per month SHCS Basingstoke Canal Duncan Paine 01252-614125 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 last w/e (Fri-Thu) WAT Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman 01442-874536 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: BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT

page 28

Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Chichester Ship Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust

KESCRG LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT

Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Surrey & Hants Canal Society Stover Canal Society Sleaford Navigation Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust


“our current aim is to actually restore the full length of the towpath for public access within five years” - Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

Letters to the editor

Dear Martin Accepting that Michael A. Handford could not mention every canal under restoration in the country, I was surprised that no mention was made of the Wilts & Berks Canal in his article Where next? in Navvies No. 250. The W & B is the longest restoration currently underway, at 52 miles main line plus a number of branches, including the North Wilts, which connects us with the Thames & Severn. We have had no major injection of funds, unlike our nearest neighbours, the Cotswolds and the Kennet & Avon. As the W & B covers such a huge area, the way the Trust has decided to tackle the restoration is by dividing us into 6 branches, with each branch responsible for deciding their priorities (apart from for major projects), liaising with local landowners who are sympathetic with restoration and to some extent raising their own funds, although we do now have a Fund-raising Director to identify the sources for monies for the major schemes. Mention was made in Michael’s article of several canals being in multiple ownership, and the W & B initially reverted to at least 200 riparian landowners when the canal closed 100 years ago, some of which were only the width of someone’s back garden. Obviously, if that person decides to dig their heels in and uses the “over my dead body” form of objection, then we have to wait before the canal can be connected through. Each branch has their share of die-hard antis, even some who put every obstacle in our way to prevent restoration. We do have more ‘concrete’ obstacles, of course, like the old route of the canal having been built Plans for dealing with Swindon, one of the W&B’s ‘concrete’ obstacles over through Swindon, and getting under the M4, not to mention at the east end where all work has had to stop because of the uncertainty of the size, location and timing of the Thames reservoir [and, as I understand it, whether they decide to build it at all …Ed], but ways can be found for overcoming these. However, to some extent the objections of landowners who are determined that the canal will not be restored are more difficult to get over, but by restoring sections of the canal we hope that we can persuade those landowners of the benefits of restoration. Nevertheless, our current aim is to actually restore the full length of the towpath for public access within five years. To this end, one of the Trust directors, Tim Pyatt, has agreed to devote 12 months of his time, between jobs, 5 days a week, to achieve this aim. We are exceptionally lucky in having this help; it is a major challenge, and I do not envy Tim when he has to deal with the more obdurate landowners, but if he is successful it can only help in persuading people of the benefits of a restored canal.. Rachael Banyard Work Party Director, Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

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Letters

...on Serbian and Croation catering for Canal Camps not to mention deep fried hard hat with custard...

to the editor

Martin Ludgate

Dear Martin Happy New Year! Thanks for publishing my little article in Navvies. I plead guilty straight away to looking at the map and imagining where the ideal links could be. However some of these – such as Keilder Water to the northern canals – would be of immediate benefit because this huge reservoir is underused and water shortages in the midlands and south east seem to be endemic, and may be more so with climate change. We do know, too, that linked canals attract more use than isolated dead-end waterways. Am I being optimistic? I don’t think so – merely trying to envisage where the waterway restoration movement might go in future. Is it likely to end? Navvies wound up and sent home? If so, where will it go, and what will it do? I absolutely agree with you that potential routes would need to be much more carefully researched and cost/benefited. On the other hand, the Heritage Lottery Fund have said many times “Bring us an incredible Start of the C&HPR at Cromford: could it be restored scheme and we’ll look at it seriand used to take boats on cradles to Whaley Bridge? ously”. Hence the incredible Falkirk Wheel. Wouldn’t the restoration of the Cromford & High Peak Railway carrying boats on cradles from Cromford to Whaley Bridge be just as incredible? You have seen the technology on numerous Western films. So finally I don’t plead guilty to being over-optimistic! I am of course making predictions, which is always risky. And of course I hope you will eat your hat in due course! I am happy to provide the custard - or eat it myself if I am very wrong. Best wishes Michael Handford Just one comment: it was actually the Millennium Fund which supported the Falkirk Wheel, not the Heritage Lottery Fund. That might seem pedantic, but I think it matters: back then, the Millennium Fund was much more keen to support bold new ‘visionary’ stuff, while nowadays the HLF tends towards restoring historic structures. That’s not to say there won’t be another organisation in the future with the MF’s attitude to ‘landmark’ ideas (and I will happily feast on deep-fried hard-hat and custard for my 70th birthday on the Cromford & High Peak Marine Railway!) ...Ed Dear Editor, I’ve never cooked any Serbian or Croatian food. Please assure Frank that I will locate an Eastern European Supermarket close to my next camp so that we can try some of their delicacies. Regards Claire (‘Dippy Claire’) Bedford

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...and the good work put in by the volunteers on the New Year camp, plus some maybe not quite so good work by WRG’s translation team...

Letters to the editor

Letter to WRG Chairman Mike Palmer from Alan Wilding of Shrewsbury & N Wales IWA:

Martin Ludgate

Dear Mike At our monthly committee meeting of this Branch on 14 January 2012 members noted the valuable contribution made to the Montgomery Canal restoration by the Waterway Recovery Group’s post-Christmas work camp at Crickheath. As chairman of Saturday’s meeting l was asked to write a letter expressing our appreciation for this. With a long running restoration like the Monty this sort of practical input really helps keep everyone’s faith in the long term outcome. During your camp four members of our Branch, including me, visited the work site and saw at first hand the slippery conditions and poor weather conditions. These did not seem to deter the enthusiasm of your volunteers, who’d come from far and wide, including camp leader Gary Summers. We were impressed by the consideration with which the sites The site left nice and tidy at the end of the Mont camp for bonfires were chosen away from neighbouring houses and it was great that Gary was prepared spend a bit of time explaining the works and answering questions from passing hikers. Please pass on our congratulations to your team and we look forward to your August 2012 visit. If there is anything specific that you think we might help with for that, please let us know. With best wishes for 2012. Yours sincerely, Alan Wilding on behalf of Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch, IWA Dear Martin Further to the excellent “international relations edition” Mon & Brec Camp Report (Navvies 249, p17-19) I’d like some clarification, please. I notice that French for “Yes, I am wearing my pyjamas to the pub” appears to be the same as the French for “Can we borrow some washing-up liquid”. I think we should be told, lest someone with a penchant for relaxed pubgoing clobber makes some kind of cock-up / faux pas / resbalón / camgymeriad. Mark ‘Mk2’ Richardson Bread & Lard Island, Nottingham I think whoever wrote that bit of the report might just have been on the beer/bière/cerveza/cwrw ...Ed

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Progress MB&B and L&H

We start our regular round-up of restoration progress with reports from the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal and the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

A mile-long length of the canal from Park House Bridge to Lumbs Aqueduct has been cleaned up. Just over two years ago the canal was hardly visible and the towpath totally overgrown and impassable. First the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society working parties cleared the worst of the vegetation from the towpath. Then Salford Council obtained a grant to resurface the towpath. Finally WRG NorthWest and the Canal Society cleared the trees out of the canal bed, revealing a very impressivelooking canal. All we need now is some water! And the icing on the cake was that we glued back a broken lump of milestone 3 at Agecroft Bridge, thanks to advice and materials given by local monumental mason Kevin Crowley. Paul Hindle Chairman, MBBCS

Work has continued apace at Tamworth Road, Lichfield. The weir has been prepared and a great deal of the “long wall” parallel to the A38 has been built. It has been an opportunity to use sections of the removed “big pipe” (a storm drain laid in the canal bed) as reinforcement along this critical section. This means that active works have now reached the A51 and the Trust is in discussion with Staffordshire Highways to obtain the original construction drawings. Meanwhile, we have submitted a planning application for the preliminary work required on the other side of A51. The Darnford Park project, dependent on Lichfield District and the Forestry Commission obtaining their funding for a Diamond Jubilee landscaping scheme, should see the excavation of the basin ultimately required for boats to turn into and out of the projected culvert under A38. There is much forestry work for the Trust to do plus the diversion of a foul sewer. Of course, the Trust too must obtain substantial funding. Meanwhile, our engineers are still working on the re-watered section below Lock 25 which is stubbornly refusing to retain water to the required level. The problem probably lies in the old brickwork rather than in the new construction works. It is frustrating but a useful learning experience. Most of our other work is of an ongoing nature with meetings with landowners and developers well to the fore. Our dialogue with Staffordshire Highways remains encouraging in tone as we work to ensure that a properly engineered provision is made for the canal when the Lichfield Bypass is built under the Birmingham railway line. On the Hatherton Canal we are monitoring an encroachment onto canal land above Lock 2 although the land concerned is in private ownership and not L&H responsibility. We are also about to start a new round of discussions with Little Wyrley Estate concerning the projected route south of A5. Brian Kingshott

The MBB emerges from the undergrowth

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Meanwhile the Wey & Arun Canal Trust has been rebuilding Southland Lock, saving up for some parapets, building a canal centre and planning to head north... Wey & Arun Canal With various working groups active on the canal almost every day, things are still progressing well. However, the vast majority of the volunteer input comprises maintenance and general upkeep of the previously-restored sections – still very valuable work of course, and vital in maintaining the credibility of the project, but it doesn’t always make for a very exciting report here. Other volunteer input goes on behind the scenes, and this, to a large extent, influences the work that can take place on site. We are very well aware that although we know that several current jobs could have been completed by now - the workers are willing, the materials are available, and we even seem to be able to find the money to get things going – but for very good reasons, the actual progress is rather slower. Southland Lock is a good example. Things are indeed progressing rapidly, but for wildlife-related reasons certain work can only take place in certain months, and then the weather can play havoc, though 2011 was not at all bad in that latter respect. For the same reasons, the planning has gone round in circles too. First, the task was to rebuild the lock. Then, for good reasons, it looked better to rebuild it in a slightly different place. Then it was back to plan A (or rather plan A-and-a-half) with the lock in its original location. And that is what the volunteers and contractors have been doing over the last few months. What was just a dip in the ground with a couple of cast iron quoin posts projecting skywards through the dense vegetation now looks remarkably like a canal-related structure, which given some gates could become a lock chamber. A little way downstream, at the Loxwood High Street bridge, work should get under way soon to replace the metal railings, which almost everybody agrees are unsightly, with brick parapets of a more traditional appearance. The original railings were installed at the insistence of the highway authority, and unless

Progress Lichfield & Hatherton

we had followed their directions, the work – which involved, a few years back now, a road closure and a period of traffic controls - would have ground to a halt. Obviously that was out of the question in terms of cost and inconvenience. So after a long period of negotiation, lengthened further by different councils wanting different things, we got the right result and a fund raising exercise, in conjunction with the local community groups who were quite vociferous about the metal railings, began. This received a recent welcome boost with a grant from the NatWest Community Force scheme. This is a scheme where various projects are put to the public vote, and WACT’s Loxwood Bridge project came out as the local winner in the Public/Community benefit category. Thanks to all who voted – the £6,000plus received has paid for a lot of bricks. Another piece of good community benefit news is that local Land Rover dealer Harwoods has continued its sponsorship of the project, resulting in a new Land Rover Defender being made available to WACT. As we go further north, WACT was pleased to receive such a high level of public support for its plans to restore the summit level of the canal in the Dunsfold area, where it is hoped to emulate the success of the working section at Loxwood, with, following improvement works, another trip boat. And the exciting plans for improving the area around the junction with the River Wey are also getting closer to reality. WACT hopes to raise its public profile even higher in 2012, thanks to the new Loxwood Canal Centre building. This is now almost complete, and awaits interior fitting out and completion of one or two of its ‘green’ features before the planners will sign it off as complete. The building has been designed to be carbon-neutral, with many energy-saving features and to have a minimal impact on the environment So it is clear - there will be plenty to occupy volunteers, whether WACT’s own working groups, or visiting parties, in 2012 and for many years to come. Bill Thomson

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Progress Sussex Ouse Sussex Ouse

trees and scrub. So work has begun by SORT and throughout the winter many of the temporarily ‘unemployed’ Isfield restoration team will be at Iron Gate lock. With saws, loppers and cutters and the help of the NT workers they aim to completely clear the lock site to expose the lock to the passing visitors. Hundreds of bricks that lie scattered about the site and within the chamber will be collected and stacked, as will any coping-stones that are capable of being saved. SORT are not really looking that far ahead, with probably 4 more years work left to complete at Isfield, but could Iron Gate be the next target lock for complete restoration one day? If you want to join the working parties at Iron Gate (every Thursday this winter) or Isfield in 2012 (Thursdays and Saturdays) please contact Ted Lintott at 01444-414413 or tedl@talktalk.net Terry Owen

‘Job Done’. The Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust (SORT) can feel satisfied and very pleased with themselves as all the target tasks have been completed for the 2011 working season down at Isfield Lock on the Sussex Ouse. The rebuilding of the next section of west chamber wall was achieved by September and fifteen newly crafted coping stones safely positioned. But with the unusually dry weather holding out the working parties were able to push on through October and November for the first time ever and have begun to prepare for work on the next section of chamber wall in readiness for the 2012 season. For now however the lock has been secured for the winter months. ‘Winter Work’: With Isfield Lock off limits during the winter months some members of SORT seem not to know when it’s time to lay down their tools. Negotiations have taken place with the National Trust (NT) at Sheffield Above: good progress with wall rebuilding at Isfield Park Gardens, just 6 miles up Below: Iron Gate Lock: maybe the next progject? river, to begin clearance of Iron Gate Lock. This lock sits on a short cut of the River Ouse, on the very edge of the NT land. The aim of the Trust is to feature the lock and the navigation in a publication encouraging visitors to enjoy a walk through the meadows and across the agricultural land owned by them, as a diversion from the strolls through the more formal landscapes at Sheffield Park Gardens. But the lock is not only in a state of serious disrepair, it is also hidden from view and totally overgrown with a mix of mature

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Meanwhile the Wooden Canal Boat Society has moved on to the rebuilding stage with nb Hazel, putting together iron knees and wooden planks and looking for someone with a lorry... Wooden Canal Boat Society

Progress Rebuilding Hazel

planking timber have been located near Appleby. They were being felled to thin out some woodland. We’re now looking for someone with a cheap lorry to transport the logs ( planked into 2” thick boards) to Stalybridge. What a shame they never completed the Carlisle and Taunton Canal, we could have carried them by boat. The work has now moved on to the more exciting phase of plank steaming, bending the 2” thick oak planks round the bow and stern to conform to the original shape, which has been preserved in the moulds. At the time of writing the crucial garboard strakes have been successfully steamed to shape. These will have to be spiked to the bottoms before further plank steaming in the new year. Anyone who would like to help with this project can ring on 07931 952 037 or email theboatman@mail.com If all goes to plan Hazel will enter service around Easter 2013. Being an unpowered horse-boat she will need prearranged tows to move her about the canal system. It seems a long way off, but if you might be interested in giving her a tow some time, please get in touch.

Hazel, Working on into the winter: November’s weather was mostly fairly helpful, raining a bit at night but being dry and sunny in the daytimes. The team rebuilding nb Hazel carried on with the work, doing all the unspectacular jobs required for the boat to be re-assembled properly. The job of cutting out the sideplanks was completed and the garboard strakes have had bevels carefully planed on to their edges. The wrought iron knees went away to be shotblasted, then were treated to prevent future corrosion . Setting them up again in the boat turned out to be a tricky task. They were obviously reclaimed knees from a variety of boats that were used when Hazel was built in 1914. Getting them to actually line up and stay within the 6’10” beam necessary for the Huddersfield Narrow Canal took a lot of patience. With the lining up complete they were all bolted to the bottom boards, sealed with a layer of chalico. With them all re-fitted, Hazel began to look like a boat again. Bernard, a new volunteer with a lot of workshop experience, has taken charge of the tools and quickly got the heterogeneous collection of donated tools properly organised and put into good working order. We picked up a collection of huge boatyard clamps which had been left to us by a boatbuilder in Bristol who passed away recently. These have now been renovated and put into service. Though most of the planking timber is in stock, we have found ourselves several planks short. We are also struggling to find timber with the right bend in the grain for making the knees at bow and stern. Some suitable timber for this has been collected from a sawmill Hazel’s iron knees,which came from various older boats near Abergavenny. Trees for

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The plastic fencing along the top of the towpath bank in Stage 2 & 3 where work is in progress has suffered from the wind and some minor vandalism so this was repaired. There has been movement in the timber structure of footbridges 4 & 4A. It was thought that this was due to shrinkage of the European Oak used for these bridges and, sure enough, the main bolts all needed tightening after which the movement disappeared. Wendover Arm Extensive scrub bashing continued The November Working Party saw the along the offside bank of Stage 3 to enable final ready-mix pour of the Stage 2 mooring tipping to take place and consolidate before wall. [The Wendover Arm Trust’s current lining reaches this length. long-term project - to rebuild the dry length In April 2005 trial trenches were dug at from Tringford to Drayton Beauchamp as a all the 100 metre markers to determine the waterproof channel, including concrete capposition and depth of the 18" earthenware ping over the pipe buried under the canal pipe carrying the water from Wendover bed which currently carries the water supply under the canal bed. At that time several of - is divided into six stages. ...Ed] As there is the exposed pipes had longitudinal cracks no mooring wall in Stage 3 and the Stage 4 along the crown of the pipe. Although the mooring wall is complete there is going to be pipe generally runs on the offside of the a long interval before we construct any more canal, a year or two back an unknown manreinforced concrete walls. hole was found at the foot of the towpath bank Bank lining was completed for the first at chainage 3622. We knew that at chainages 100 metres and the bed lining completed for 3500 and 3600 the pipe was on the offside, so the first 80 metres of Stage 2. it was decided to dig additional trial trenches The access to the tip near Bridge 4A to determine the exact route of the pipe in was improved with an additional access at this area. To pipe cap where the pipe crosses the Little Tring end including scrub clearance. the bed of the canal means cutting off access to The December Working Party: this the Drayton Beauchamp end and has to be was a working party of mixed tasks, partly of carefully timed. This investigation was successa clearing up nature. The steel wall fully completed and it demonstrated the formwork was completely stripped down to deterioration in the pipe after 100 years. individual components all of which were The state of the pipe also explains why cleaned, oiled as necessary and stored away British Waterways gave the Trust £200,000 at Little Tring until required next, probably towards restoration of the canal back to not for two or three years! Tony Bardwell has normal water level in lieu of the essential taken home some pieces of steel formwork maintenance cost of renewing the pipeline. that require welding repair and Eddy Evans is We have been concerned for some going to service the adjustable feet that are while over the problem of how the future BW used to level the front of the formwork. operational needs for water control at Thank you both. Whitehouses will fit in with Backfilling to the top of the restoration works. The the Stage 2 mooring wall was Trust and KESCRG (the latter completed although it will have offered to take on the require further filling and Trust’s part of the work at trimming off up to the towWhitehouses) had a very path level after the spoil has constructive meeting with BW settled during the winter engineers in November. As a weather. The backfill spoil result of this and further was mainly sourced from discussions Ray Orth and I rough profiling of Stage 2 had with BW engineers, the banks. There is no point in any following programme of final profiling of the banks until works was agreed. the Spring as frost and rain will The present manhole on A concern: cracks in the pipe the pipeline at Whitehouses, only damage the final profile.

Progress

WAT

GU Wendover Arm

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with a paddle outlet to the old pumping shaft is used to transfer water into Wilstone Reservoir. It requires to be cleaned and capped before channel re-lining takes place. The Canal and River Trust (C&RT) 2012/2013 programme of work will include the construction of a new manhole and sluice control on the pipe from the present manhole to the pumping shaft sited clear of the new canal profile. Once this is complete the present manhole will be capped and the paddle gear removed as part of the restoration re-lining. The paddle and culvert that was once used to let water down from the canal into the pumping shaft will be reinstated using the paddle gear from the present manhole in conjunction with the re-lining and re-construction of the wharf wall. The original nuts and bolts for the former paddle are still on top of the wharf wall! This will provide the means to drain the pound between the stop planks at Drayton Beauchamp bridge and the stop planks at Bridge 4. The construction of the narrows at Bridge 4 included the installation of metal stop plank grooves. The initial exploration of the site by KESCRG exposed what was probably a settling tank connected to the three culverts leading into the canal at one end, and to a culvert leading into the old pumping shaft at the other end. Across the centre of the tank is the base of a weir, it was probably adjustable in height. This would have controlled water pumped up from Wilstone Reservoir into the canal with solids settling behind the weir. Alternatively, in times of excess water, the water from the canal would have flowed in the reverse direction, the weir preventing solids entering the pumping shaft. As the original Newcomen steam pumping engine was replaced by Little Tringford Pumping Station early in the 1800’s there is no question of water being pumped up from Wilstone Reservoir into the canal at Whitehouses any more. However, there is still the need to divert water from Wendover into Wilstone Reservoir at Whitehouses, and it is proposed to do this by allowing canal water to enter the settling tank via the three culverts and flow into the pumping shaft using the adjustable level weir that will require to be rebuilt with removable weir boards. BW also requires a sluice in the weir so that water can be let down the shaft through the sluice if required. KESCRG will be undertaking the restoration of the wharf wall and the settling tank

as part of their project. It is intended as part of the works to install a walkway over the settling tank as both a safety measure and to enable visitors to view the water control arrangements. The Future of the Pipeline: During meetings with the engineers, BW expressed concern over the amount of water they were losing due to the leaky pipeline. At present the loss between Whitehouses and Tringford Reservoir is so great that they are diverting all the water at Whitehouses into Wilstone Reservoir. However, there is still leakage between the sump at Drayton Beauchamp and Whitehouses. BW would like to divert the water via the restored canal from Drayton Beauchamp to Whitehouses as soon as possible and to achieve this the following actions need to be taken:

. The Trust needs to complete re-lining as as a bund in the narrows of Bridge 4. . far This requires the water control works at

.

. .

Whitehouses to be completed. BW/C&RT will build the new manhole and sluice for controlling the water from the pipeline to the pumping shaft. Our Trust, with the help of KESCRG, will carry out the works on the wharf wall and the settling tank to BW/C&RT’s specification. To weir water into the pumping shaft at Whitehouses requires raising the water level from Wendover to Tring summit level. Before the level is permanently raised, stop planks are required at Drayton Beauchamp Bridge to raise the water level incrementally and identify weak points in the banks between Drayton Beauchamp and Wendover. BW/C&RT will then investigate potential weaknesses in the banks and carry out essential maintenance work to cure any problems. The sump at Drayton Beauchamp will require sealing and this will leave the 18" pipe as a land drain beneath the canal to relieve any potential hydraulic pressure below the waterproof lining. It will drain into Tringford Reservoir as now.

To complete the relining to Bridge 4 requires 400 metres of pipe capping and 800 metres of re-lining to be completed. At the present rate of progress and weather permitting, this work is likely to take three to four years, i.e. completion in 2015. The estimated cost of this work is within the current reserves of the Trust so the need to raise funds will not delay completion of this work. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director 01442 874536, rleishman@ukgateway.net

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Progress Grantham Canal

A new bridge, a replaced bridge, a repaired bridge, a bridge to be demolished, a bridge to replace it and a bridge which should have been built but wasn’t... ‘A matter of Bridges’

Bridges are key to the restoration of the Grantham Canal. Some seventy bridges have crossed its 33 miles at one time or another and many of the original ones were flattened and/or culverted post-World War ll. Since then, the canal has been cut by the A52 and A1 dual carriageways. But all is not lost… right now, no fewer than 6 bridges are in the news. From west to east, in numerical order, they are: In Nottinghamshire, within Cotgrave Country Park, a brand new bridge [A] for pedestrians, riders and park maintenance vehicles is being constructed, across the footings of long-lost Brown’s Bridge 14. On completion of this, the massive, water-level, concrete Colliery Bridge 14a [B] will be removed, together with some other obstructions in the canal bed. Locks 6 & 7 on this section were fully restored in 2000 so, whilst there remain issues of water supply and the need for dredging, the developments at Bridge 14 will open up a A mile of canal, between Bridges 12 and 15, to navigation. A mile further east, past a section of canal bed being cleared of substantial trees by WRG BITM, is the Highways Agency’s £300 million ‘A46 Improvements’ – the brand new Fosse Way. First, there is Bridge 16 [C] – the site of the ‘Battle of Mann’s Bridge’ – about which the Highways Agency and Transport Minister did nothing, despite a Planning Inspector advising in favour of the Grantham Canal Partnership. The HA’s short-sightedness means that the restoration options for this site are now longer-term and restricted to a lifting bridge. B Yet only half a mile further on, no less than £2 million has been spent on a splendid new crossing of the canal by the dual-carriageway A46! Historic but graffiti-covered Fosse Bridge 18 [D] will remain for local access, whilst alongside it, the new bridge [E] crosses the canal, its towpath / multi-user trail and a diverted bridleway. 11 miles due east (or 21 miles by Jessop’s contour route) into Lincolnshire is the final ‘bridge in the news’ – hump-backed, 200-year old

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Longmoor Bridge 62 [F], where the canal is crossed by long-distance footpath ‘The Viking Way’. Restoration has been unintentionally forced on British Waterways by vandals who, in 2011, suddenly chose to demolish its brick parapets and tip them into the canal, at the same time preventing navigation by the Grantham Canal Society’s trip boat ‘The Three Shires’. ‘It’s an ill wind …’ though, because the current rebuilding of Longmoor Bridge will mean that all four historic bridges on the navigable section between Woolsthorpe and the A1 will have been fully restored in the last 5 years. Only another four dozen bridges to go! Peter R. Stone

C

E

D

Bridges A to F: A: the low level concrete crossing at Cotgrave to be removed; B: the old abutments which will support its replacement; C: Manns Bridge, which could have been reinstated but for official shortsightedness; D: the old A46 bridge and E: its dual-carriageway replacement; F: Longmoor Bridge, where vandalism of the far parapet is being repaired F

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Progress

And finally on the River Gipping, otherwise known as the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation, they’ve got another lock to restore...

River Gipping

state of the bridge deck itself, and this is now giving us cause for concern as to how to treat this element of the bridge to conserve its future. We will be continuing our pattern of Wednesday work parties at Pipps Ford and the first Saturday of every month at Baylham into the new year. As well as the work mentioned above we hope to commence work on replacing the sluice that controlled water levels for the mill at Baylham during the new year, and we haven’t lost sight of trying to persuade the owner of one of the last turf sided locks on the network (at Badley) to let us have a go at that one! Martin Bird Restoration Manager, River Gipping Trust

River Gipping (Ipswich & Stowmarket)

Pictures by River Gipping Trust

The River Gipping Trust has had a very successful Autumn season of work parties on the river. After a dry summer the water levels in the Gipping have been low, allowing us to make a great deal of progress on what has been our major project, the restoration of Baylham lock. Having finished the East wall of the lock chamber in late spring we moved on to the West wall. The engineer’s report, completed a few years ago now, indicated that the wall was in generally sound repair, but that the outer brick facing had broken away in a number of places. This would require cutting out and patching. As we progressed with the cutting out, it became apparent that the facing had blown much further than we originally anticipated and we ended up having to lift the coping stones and take down the facing for a depth of about five feet over a length of 30 feet. However, with a lot of assistance from the good weather and a couple of new members with bricklaying skills, we managed to get the facing back and the copings replaced by November. The end result is very satisfying, the local planning officer even said it looked like we had never been there, which (I think) was a compliment! RGT finish Baylham and (below) start Pipps Ford There is still work to do at Baylham, and our Saturday meetings once a month are concentrating their efforts there. Meanwhile our Wednesday work parties have moved on to the next lock upstream, Pipps Ford. Here the chamber was rebuilt reasonably recently, but an overbridge had been left in poor condition, damaged by tree growth and with severe cracking in the spandrel walls. With the assistance of a very co-operative landowner, we have now set up temporary camp at the lock , have cleared away the tree stumps and started rebuilding the spandrel walls. Unfortunately, having cleared away the vegetation, we can now see the

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ASHBY CANAL ASSOC Rod Smith 4 Ashby Road, Sinope Coalville LE67 3AY Tel: 01530 833307 BARNSLEY, DEARNE & DOVE CANAL TRUST June Backhouse, 39 Hill St, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EN 01226 743383 www.bddct.org.uk BCN SOCIETY Jeff Barley, 17 Sunnyside Walsall Wood, W Midlands 01543 373284 www.bcn-society.org.uk

CHICHESTER SHIP CT Linda Wilkinson, 1 Chidham La Chichester PO18 8TL 01243 576701 www.chichestercanal.co.uk COTSWOLD CT Bell House, Wallbridge Lock Stroud GL5 3JS 01285 643440 mail@cotswoldcanals.com www.cotswoldcanals.com FRIENDS OF THE CROMFORD CANAL George Rogers 2 Main St, Whatstandwell Matlock DE4 5HE 07789 493967 web@cromfordcanal.org.uk www.cromfordcanal.org.uk

BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOC Athina Beckett 2 Staters Pound, Pennyland Milton Keynes MK1 5AX 01908 661217 DERBY & SANDIACRE CS email: athinabec@aol.com Doug Flack www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk 23 Thoresby Cres, Draycott Derby DE72 3PH BUGSWORTH BASIN 01332 576037 (IWPS) www.derbycanal.org.uk Ian Edgar Top Lock House, Lime Kiln DIG DEEP INITIATIVE Lane, Marple SK6 6BX. Alan Cavender 0161 427 7402 53 Derwent Drive, ian@theedgars.co.uk Maidenhead SL6 6LE www.brocross.com/iwps/ 01628 629033 index.htm alancavender@waitrose.com www.dig-deep.org.uk CALDON & UTTOXETER CANALS TRUST DORSET & SOMERSET Alison Smedley CANAL SOCIETY Hazelhurst Cottage Derrick Hunt Denford, Leek ST13 7JT 43 Greenland Mills 01538-385388 Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL alison@hazelhurstcottage.co.uk 01225 863066 www.cuct.org.uk derrickjohnhunt@btinternet.com CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST Mick Hodgetts 31 Pottery La Chesterfield S41 9BH 01246 620695 chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk

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

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

RIVER GIPPING TRUST Martin Bird 29 Melton Grange Rd Melton Woodbridge IP12 1SA 01394 380765 restoration@rivergippingtrust. org.uk GRAND WESTERN CT Denis Dodd, Wharf Cottage Nynehead, Wellington Somerset TA21 0BJ 01823 661653 GRANTHAM CANAL SOC Ian Wakefield 0115 989 2128 ian.wakefield@ granthamcanal.com www.granthamcanal.com HEREFS & GLOUCS CT c/o The Wharf House, Over Gloucester GL2 8DB 01452 332900 www.h-g-canal.org.uk KESCRG Eddie Jones ‘Altamount’ Coventry Rd Fillongley Coventry CV7 8EQ 0845 226 8589 eddie@kescrg.org.uk www.kescrg.org.uk LANCASTER CT Paul Shaw 12 Malham Close Lancaster LA1 2SJ 01524 35685 paul_shaw@lineone.net www.lctrust.co.uk

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Directory LAPAL CANAL TRUST 26 Loynells Road, Rednal Birmingham B45 9NP 01785 713862 www.lapal.org LICHFIELD & HATHERTON CANALS REST'N TRUST Sue Williams, Norfolk House 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich Burntwood WS7 0JP 01543 671427 info@lhcrt.org.uk www.lhcrt.org.uk NEATH & TENNANT CS Ian Milne 16 Gower Road, Sketty, Swansea SA2 9BY 01792 547902 MANCHESTER BOLTON & BURY CANAL SOCIETY Steve Dent 07802-973228 www.mbbcs.org.uk

SALTISFORD CT Budbrooke Road Warwick CV34 5RJ 01926 490 006 saltisfordcanal@aol.com, www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk SCARS (SANKEY CANAL) Colin Greenall 16 Bleak Hill Rd, Eccleston St. Helens WA10 4RW 01744 731746 colin.greenall@btopenworld.com www.scars.org.uk SHREWSBURY & NEWP’T CANALS TRUST Tam Hazan tamir_hazan@lineone.net www.sncanal.org.uk

SHROPSHIRE UNION CS Richard Hall 35 Tyrley Cotts Market Drayton TF9 2AH MONMOUTHSHIRE BRECON 01630 657737 & ABERGAVENNY CT hall@ostw.co.uk Phil Hughes www.shropshireunion.org.uk 14 Locks Canal Centre Cwm La, Newport NP10 9GN SLEAFORD NAV TRUST 01633 892167 Steve Hayes mail@fourteenlocks.co.uk 10 Chelmer Close www.mon-brec-canal.org.uk N Hykeham Lincs LN8 8TH NWPG 01522-689460 Bill Nicholson email: steve.hayes17 Clifford Road, Princes kyme@ntlworld.com Risborough HP27 0DU. www.sleafordnavigation.co.uk 01844 343369 / 0779 1097773 bill@nwpg.org.uk SOMERSETSHIRE COAL www.nwpg.org.uk CANAL SOCIETY Derrick Hunt POCKLINGTON C.A.S 43 Greenland Mills Paul Waddington Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL Church House, Main St. 01225-863066 Hemingborough YO8 7QE derrickjohnhunt@btinternet,com 01757 638027 www.coalcanal.org

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RIVER STOUR TRUST John Morris 2 Stockton Close, Hadleigh Ipswich IP7 5SH jgmorris@btinternet.com www.riverstourtrust.org STOVER CANAL SOCIETY George Whitehead 26 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth TQ14 8BU. Tel: 01626 775498 Georgewhitehead1@tiscali.co.uk, www.stovercanal.co.uk STRATFORD ON AVON CS Clive Henderson The Bridge House Church Lane Lapworth Solihull B94 5NU clive.henderson@waterways.org.uk www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk SURREY & HANTS CANAL SOC Duncan Paine 52 Kings Road Fleet GU51 3AQ 01252-614125 duncanpaine@talktalk.net www.basingstokecanal.org.uk/society SUSSEX OUSE RESTORATION TRUST Paul Morris, Farmcote Nettlesworth Lane Old Heathfield Heathfield TN21 9AP 01453 863683 sussexouse@hotmail.com www.sxouse.org.uk SWANSEA CANAL SOC Clive Reed 17 Smithfield Road, Pontardawe Swansea West Glam. SA8 4LA 01792 830782

THAMES & MEDWAY CANAL ASSOCIATION John Epton 45 Vinson Clo, Orpington BR6 0EQ homepage.ntlworld. com/john.epton/tmca WENDOVER ARM TRUST Roger Leishman 7 Hall Park Berkhamsted HP4 2NU 01442 874536 www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk WEY & ARUN CT The Granary Flitchfold Farm Loxwood, Billingshurst West Sussex RH14 ORH 01403 752403 office@weyandarun.co.uk www.weyandarun.co.uk WILTS & BERKS CT George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road Newbury RG14 1SP 07771 775745 bungle@wrg.org.uk www.wilts-berks-canal.org.uk WOODEN CANAL BOAT SOCIETY 173 Stamford St Central Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS 0161-330-8422 wcbs@care2.com www.wcbs.org.uk WRG: GENERAL ENQUIRIES, CANAL CAMP BOOKINGS, DRIVER AUTHORISATION Jenny Black, IWA Island House Moor Road Chesham HP5 1WA 01494 783453 enquiries@wrg.org.uk www.wrg.org.uk


WRG NORTH WEST Malcolm Bridge 89 Rishworth Mill Rishworth Sowerby Bridge HX6 4RZ 01422-820693 nw@wrg.org.uk www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG NW - ENQUIRIES/ PAPERCHASES David McCarthy Woodstock, 14 Crumpsall Lane Manchester M8 5FB 0161-740 2179 www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG BITM & 'NAVVIES' DIARY David Wedd 7 Ringwood Road Blackwater Camberley Surrey GU17 0EY 01252 874437 dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk www.wrgbitm.org.uk LONDON WRG Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road, Wanstead London E12 5EJ 07802 518094 tim@timlewis.org.uk www.london.wrg.org.uk WRG EAST MIDLANDS John Baylis 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town, Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895

ESSEX WRG Frank Wallder 12 Bray Lodge Cheshunt Waltham Cross EN8 0DN 019926-636164 essex@wrg.org.uk www.essex.wrg.org.uk

WRG BOAT CLUB Sadie Heritage 236 Station Rd. Whittlesey Peterborough PE7 2HA 01733 204505 07748 186867 (mobile) sadiedean@msn.com

TRANSPORT MANAGER Jonathan Smith 23 Hardings Chalgrove Oxford OX44 7TJ 01865 891 370 jonathan.smith@wrg.org.uk OTHER DIRECTORS

WRG DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Road Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

WRG FORESTRY Clive Alderman 30 Primley Lane Sheering Bishops Stortford CM22 7NJ 07973 877380 WRG PLANT clive_jo.alderman@yahoo.co.uk George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road IWA/WRG STAMP BANK Newbury RG14 1SP Steve & Mandy Morley 07771 775745 33 Hambleton Grove bungle@wrg.org.uk Emerson valley Milton Keynes SITES GROUP MK4 2JS Judith Palmer 01908 520090 3 Finwood Rd. mail@morleytowers.org.uk Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH CANAL CAMPS MOBILES 01564 785293 (A) 07850 422156 jude.moore@btinternet.com (B) 07850 422157 WRGPRINT 'NAVVIES' EDITOR John & Tess Hawkins Martin Ludgate 4 Links Way, Croxley Grn 35 Silvester Rd. Rickmansworth London SE22 9PB WD3 3RQ 020 8693 3266 01923 448559 0777 947 8629 (mobile) john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk IWA CHAIRMAN 'WRGWEAR' CLOTHING Clive Henderson Helen Gardner c/o IWA, 33 Victoria Road Island House Moor Road, Northwich CW9 5RE Chesham HP5 1WA 07989 425346 clive.henderson@ wrgwear@wrg.org.uk waterways.org.uk

Help us keep this directory up to date If you spot any errors or omissions or know of any changes to any contact details in this list please pass them on to the editor. The next full directory will appear in issue 254, but any corrections received before then will also be included in the next available ‘Navvies Noticeboard’. Thank you for your assistance.

Rick Barnes 11 Lawns Park North Woodchester Stroud GL5 5PP 07976 748345 rick.barnes@wrg.org.uk Mick Beattie 42 Eaton Drive Rugeley WS15 2FS Spencer Collins The Boatyard, 5 Hammond Way Trowbridge BA14 8RS 07790 017418 spencer.collins@wrg.org.uk Chris Davey Angle House Green Terrace Skipton BD23 5DS chris.davey@wrg.org.uk John Baylis, 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 Harry Watts 12 St John Road, Slough SL2 5EY 07889 237834 harry.watts@wrg.org.uk James Butler 7 Hawthorne Close Woodford Halse NN11 3NY 07745 256117 james.butler@wrg.org.uk Helen Gardner (see above)

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Brushcutters

With the scrub-bashing season still in full swing, we bring you a Navvies guide to safe use of brushcutters, strimmers and clearing saws

...and how to use them safely Safe use of Brushcutters, Strimmers & Clearing Saws Brushcutters, strimmers and clearing saws are becoming increasingly common on canal sites, with several regional groups and local societies having recently purchased them. This article is intended to remind volunteers of the essential safety considerations that must be followed when using these bits of equipment. The Practical Restoration Handbook is quite brief on this subject, so I have reproduced the whole section below in the way of an introduction. All operators should have been trained in the safe operation and be able to carry out the necessary routine maintenance before being allowed to use this item of equipment. The minimum requirement for safety equipment is goggles and ear defenders, but it is recommended that full face protection is used rather than goggles to prevent misting and provide additional protection particularly when brushcutting. Plastic over trousers are also advisable when strimming grass to avoid contamination of the operators clothes from animal excreta. Brushcutters are used on areas which cannot be reached with other types of mowing equipment because of the terrain. Depending on the engine rating different tools can be fitted to handle vegetation from grass to brambles and small trees to a diameter of approx 10mm. It is important to note from the above paragraph that before using any of these pieces of equipment, you should have been trained in their use and basic maintenance by an experienced and competent operator. This article is intended as a supplement to, not a replacement for such tuition. Firstly, what is the difference between a brushcutter, strimmer and clearing saw? They are effectively all the same thing, i.e. a 2-stroke engine on the end of a long shaft with handles half way down and a cutting

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attachment at the end. The cutting attachment is what makes the difference, as explained below. Whichever attachment you are using, you must ensure it is compatible with the machine, failure to do so can be very dangerous. You may also need a different type of guard depending on the attachment, so make sure you’ve got this right too!

. The Strimmer attachment or nylon cord

.

head is used primarily for cutting grass, nettles or other soft vegetation, just like the sort of thing you may use in your garden. If you find the cord is regularly being snapped off by what you are trying to cut, you should change to a brushcutter attachment. The Brushcutter attachment is usually a three pointed blade (known as a brush knife) and is designed for vegetation such as bramble, reeds and small saplings. The “rule of thumb� with brushcutters is that they will cut anything up to the size of a thumb, or approx one inch (25mm). It is important to ensure that brushcutter blades are regularly sharpened to reduce vibration.

-


. As we are often working in large groups maintained blades can develop - Poorly cracks, to check your blade firstly carry and in public places such as towpaths, it out a visual inspection. Then hang the blade from a finger or stick and tap each point gently with a metallic object such as a nail, if the sound is dull rather than ringing then the blade may have a crack and must not be used. The nuts that old these blades on are usually nylon locking nuts and should be discarded and replaced after every 8 times the blade is removed ‘Scrub cutting’ attachments are also available for some machines, currently being used by KESCRG as shown in the photo of Ian Williamson. These are similar to a hedge cutter and are great for cutting dense blocks of bramble. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for these attachments. Clearing Saw blades, otherwise known as circular saw blades are designed for cutting larger trees, potentially up to 8 inches (20cm) diameter. These blades can only be used on certain machines depending on their engine capacity, and should only be used by those who have received specific training, ideally in the form of a LANTRA or NPTC certificate. On a canal site it’s probably more effective (and certainly more fun) to tackle this kind of scrub with a bunch of bow saws and some elbow grease!

-

.

. .

may be necessary to have a banksman, who should be wearing the same PPE as the operator. It is incumbent upon the machine operator to keep a regular eye on the banksman and what’s going on around them. Another regular feature of working on canal side sites is hidden dangers amongst the vegetation you are cutting. It’s worth having a poke around with a stick before you start cutting to locate those bollards and culvert holes! Always make sure you have been fully briefed by the site leader, or have read (and understood!) the project plan before you start work. This should ensure that you only cut where you are meant to and will identify any potential hazards.

Brushcutters, strimmers and clearing saws can appear simple to operate, but complacency can prove to be very dangerous. Make sure you are fully aware of all the operating instructions and safety considerations before you start the machine, and don’t just swing it around in a macho manner, it will only go wrong! Happy brushcutting! Bobby Silverwood The strimmer or cord head: for grass, nettles and soft vegetation

There are a number of other general safety considerations to follow when using these machines, as outlined below.

. A fuelling point should be selected at a . . . .

safe distance from where machines are to be started and operated. Machines must be switched off and left to cool before refuelling. This should be included in the project plan for the site. Machines must not be used on steep (>45 degrees) or slippery slopes. When using these machines, the cutting attachment should never be raised above shoulder height. All other persons should remain at least 50 feet (15 metres) from the operator in case of flying debris or the unlikely event of the blade coming off. Regular rest breaks should be taken to avoid the effects of vibration and fatigue. A good routine is to take a 5-10 minute break each time the fuel tank is emptied.

The brushcutter or brush knife attachment: for brambles, reeds and saplings up to an inch thick

The clearing saw or circular saw blade: can cut up to 8in trees, but needs specific training

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Slashers

“Sharp tools are kinder to you, kinder to the tools, and kinder to the material being cut�

How to sharpen them Sharpening slashers Sharp tools are kinder to you, kinder to tools and kinder to the material being cut. The sharpening tools in the kit have been provided only to keep the tools sharp during the camps. If a tool is badly damaged, such as by hitting a stone, which happens from time to time during normal use, it needs more extensive sharpening and should be marked as needing repair both on the tool itself and the Kit List paperwork so we can repair or replace it. Do not try to use the sharpening stones to restore badly damaged tools, as you could damage both the tools and the stones further.

. Before sharpening, check

.

.

that the tool is safe to use. Check that the handle is firmly attached and undamaged; and that there are no cracks or chips in the blade. Look along the blade to see if there are any obvious small nicks or dents that need extra work. Sit in a comfortable position; hold the slasher with the sharp edge away from you and rest the top of the blade on something solid. You will need a small pot of water to dip the stones in. This helps wash away small pieces of metal and dirt as you sharpen. Use coarsest, yellow stone to rub in small, firm circular motions along the blade. Try to hold the stone at the same angle as the edge. You can measure the angle with the gauge provided by placing the blade into the appropriate slot and running the gauge along the blade.

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. The slashers have been sharpened to an . .

angle of 18o. An angle much larger than this would mean that that blade would get stuck in the wood. A thinner angle would mean that the edge would go wavy and parts of it could turn over. Start at the back of the sharp edge and work gradually towards the front. You need to remove more material on the shoulders of the blade than on the edge. A tool with broad shoulders will get stuck in the wood. As you work you will hear the sound change from a rough grating noise, to a smoother sound. Pay particular attention to the crook or bent part of the blade as


“Remember, you are not sharpening a samurai sword, so spending hours sharpening to a razor edge will quickly be wasted the first time you cut a piece of wood.”

.

.

Slashers How to sharpen them

this is the most difficult part to sharpen. Make sure that you sharpen the whole length of the tool. Don’t forget to turn the tool over and sharpen both sides! Avoid the temptation to run your finger along the blade to see how sharp it is, if you must, gently brush your thumb across the blade. The medium (red) and fine (green) stones are provided for honing the blade after the main sharpening has taken place. To use them repeat the procedure as above. Remember, you are not sharpening a samurai sword, so spending hours sharpening to a razor edge will quickly be wasted the first time you cut a piece of wood. Please remember to dry to the sharpening stones thoroughly after use and give them a quick squirt of WD40, otherwise they will go rusty. Harriet Wood www.greenwoodcentre.org.uk Above: hold the tool with the blade away from you; try to hold the sharpening stone at the same angle as the blade. Left: use the gauge provided to check the blade angle.

Are these articles useful? If so, please do suggest any other ‘technical tips’ articles that you would like to see in Navvies and we’ll do our best to include them.

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Navvies news What blank pages? Apologies... ...that some copies of Navvies have not being printed/collated properly. Issue 249 gave me some problems mainly with the paper feed through the printing machine; but then issue 250 gave me even more and different problems. On these occasions I couldn’t find any particular reasons for the way in which the machine was operating. The main problem was that the machine was picking up two, three, or even four sheets at the same time, this means that, unless I notice the fact, when the reverse side goes through there is only print on one side of the paper. Also, if one sheet mis-feeds the grippers either grab the paper in the middle or the grippers do not release at the correct moment, this then drops the sheet upside down. Then during the stapling/folding process quite a few staples would not fire through the paper… I must remember not to purchase that make again! At this point can I also clear up a possible misunderstanding re the printing of Navvies? Referring to the Nigel Stevens interview in issue 250 about ‘WRG at 40’ and the first question at the top of page 18; quoting Nigel “it’s posher printing now that Chris Griffiths does it, rather then the guy in the bottom of the stock exchange etc”. I don’t think that my shed at the bottom of the garden would quite classify as the Stock Exchange! Basically, Chris (for which many thanks, the full colour does look good) only prints the cover - inside and out - which he then sends by courier to me for final assembly. (Chris has totally produced Navvies on a couple of occasions when I haven’t been able for whatever reasons.) Meanwhile I have been checking the print machine to see if I would need to contact my mechanic and found what could be a couple of potential faults. This edition will show if I have sorted out the faults - if not then it’s a ’phone call to the mechanic, which then costs a few pounds per visit.

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“I don’t think that my shed at the bottom of the garden would quite classify as the Stock Exchange” - John Hawkins Once again my apologies for any problems that have possibly occurred with your copy of Navvies. Should you receive a copy that has blank pages, missing pages or over printed and would like a different copy then please contact me (see p2) or Jenny at the IWA Head Office. John Hawkins, WRG Print Something you can put in anywhere in this issue or the next

HSE Changes Announcement from the Health & Safety Executive: Like all public bodies, the HSE is looking to deliver services in a more efficient way in line with the Government’s approach to providing effective services online. HSE has therefore announced important changes to Infoline and the Incident Contact Centre. Infoline: The Infoline public enquiry telephone service was due to end on 30 September 2011. All HSE information and advice will continue to be available via an improved website. Incident Contact Centre: with effect from 12 September 2011, statutory reporting to HSE of work-related injuries and incidents under RIDDOR has moved to a predominantly on-line system. Online forms are available on the HSE website to make the process of reporting injuries and incidents quicker and easier. Contact Mike Palmer if you have any queries relating to WRG and the reporting of incidents.

My thanks... ...are once again due to all those people who come to the London Canal Museum near Kings Cross for a couple of hours one evening every two months to assist with


Could you help out with stuffing and sticking of envelopes one evening every couple of months at Navvies assembly?

Navvies news Training weekend announced

Navvies - “inserting and stuffing” as needed. These days, with nearly everything sorted no hand collating, stapling and stamping etc - the task is usually completed in fairly quick time, after which the London WRG contingent usually go for a swift pint. It would be good to see some different faces - not that there’s anything wrong with those who currently attend! If you can spare, maybe a couple of hours or so to help then please contact me; my postal and email addresses are on the inside cover of Navvies. I generally try and give people reasonable notice of when the date is due-either by email or a ’phone call. Also WRG’s continuing thanks to the London Canal Museum for the use of the facilities at the museum. John Hawkins, WRG Print

Doug Beard We are sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Doug Beard, founder of Essex WRG, has died. In the early 1990s Doug masterminded the restoration of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation’sd derelict topmost lock and final length of waterway in Chelmsford known as Springfield Basin, rounding up volunteer support and seeking funding and support wherever he could find it - including such unikely sources as a forest nature reserve which provided oak timber (hauled out by horses) for lock gates. At the same time, he and his wife Molly volunteers with London WRG, taking part in their working parties on sites including the Wilts & Berks at Foxham as well as encouraging them to visit Springfield. As the Chelmer & Blackwater project progressed, the natural development was for the IWA’s Chelmsford working party to develop an offshoot which would work on other schemes after Springfield was complete - and thus Essex WRG was born. More recently, when the original canal company still running the Chelmer became insolvent, Doug was involved in the plans to

rescue the waterway from closing down, which led to the formation of IWA subsidiary Essex Waterways Ltd taking the navigation over and reversing many years of decline under the old company. A staunch supporter of the traditional approach to restoration (I well remember one or two ‘ancient versus modern’ arguments about methods and materials used), Doug was championing the use of heritage lime mortar well before it came into general use on waterways projects. Our sympathies to Molly, and to everyone else who knew Doug. Martin Ludgate

Vans: well done, but... After the end of the 2011 summer Canal Camps programme we were pleased to report that the WRG Transit van fleet survived in much better condition than in 2010, when several minor scrapes and dents had to be dealt with. Our thanks to all our drivers for taking more care of the vehicles, which are the ‘public face’ of WRG and will need to give us several years’ more service. Just one minor point: if you are ever unfortunate enough to splash mortar or concrete on the bodywork of a vehicle, please note that it will be a lot easier to wash it off without damaging the paintwork if you do it straight away, rather than after it has ‘gone off’. Better still, whenever you are mixing any cement- or lime-based materials, try topark the vans far enough away that it doesn’t happen in the first place. But apart from that, well done.

Date for you diaries: Training This year’s WRG Training Weekend will be hosted by the Lichfield Canal on 23-24 June. There will be more in the next Navvies, but in the meantime if there’s anything you particularly want to be trained on, contact Ali Bottomley on Tel: 07719 643870 or email: aliwomble@fsmail.net

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Congratulations

to nobody in particular. That’s right - for the first time in ages, to the best of our knowledge nobody in WRG has got married, got engaged, had a kid, been elevated to the peerage, unexpectedly bought a round, or anything else worthy of congratulation. What’s the matter with you all?

Stamps wanted

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.

Apologies... ...for getting Mike Chase’s fiancee’s name wrong in the announcements last time. She’s Liz Wright.

Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies cover printing

Inglesham Update 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 £73,838 towards the £125,000 target as we went to press, and IWA had launched a final push to raise enough to keep us busy this summer. To support the appeal see: www.inglesham.org.uk

Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH

Tel: 01564 785293 email: mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

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

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Dear Deirdre I was digging recently at

Infill

one of those derelict canals which for which ‘dent in the ground’ is a flattering description, when a local man sidled up and struck up a conversation. He claimed that we were wasting our time, the canal would never be re-opened and we were on a fool’s errand. I feel a bit discouraged really. Is he right? - ME Bates, Crewe Deirdre writes: It’s quite common to meet local doom and gloom merchants whilst restoring some especially godforsaken corner of the canal network. Best advice is to sigh wearily and respond with “they said that about the Droitwich/Kennet & Avon/Huddersfield” (delete as appropriate). Irritatingly, he’s probably right but remember: the problem is not that we won’t see all the canals reopened in our lifetimes, the problem is merely that the human lifespan is too short. Also cynics never get to ride on excavators, so put it out of your mind and keep digging. Do you have a question for Deirdre? Just email deirdre@wrg.org.uk

Navvies film reviews A new section with Navvies film critic Robert Fossil. Bob writes: We had a bit of a row at the recent Navvies editorial meeting. Martin Ludgate reckons we ought to have a film critic but we’re all too busy with our restoration work to make it to the cinema much. I’m not all that interested in film myself but Martin said I can put popcorn on expenses, so I thought “what the heck!”. Here are my first reviews:

Real Steel Very frustrating film this. Much of the action happens in the near future but there is no hint of which sections of the canal network have been completed by this time. Yes it’s all very well and good that robotic science has advanced to a stage where robot boxing is a top sport, but have the Cotswold canals yet reopened? Disappointingly director Shawn Levy chooses to keep us guessing throughout. Possibly the very fact robots are now used for entertainment rather than brickcleaning suggests that the network IS restored. You’ll have to make up your own mind. Also, Hugh Jackman looks suspiciously clean for someone who spends his days building machines from scrap metal. Just saying! Verdict: 2/5. Jackman’s well-developed musculature would make him a real asset on a concrete pour. Can someone send him a camp schedule?

Footloose: I didn’t really follow this one as my mind was preoccupied with a grant application I’m planning for the Somersetshire Coal Canal. It seems to be about some teenagers trying to kill time before they Scenes you seldom see on a dig: are old enough to go on their first dig by dancing No 12 around a lot. There’s quite a lot of kissing, if you like that sort of thing. Verdict: 2/5 Ghastly music but good for them for raising their stamina so they are well prepared for their first camp. Twilight: Breaking dawn I really enjoyed this one. Basically there are some people with superhuman strength and stamina and a lot of big shaggy dogs living somewhere rainy – it was just like a London WRG weekend! Let down somewhat by all the kissing which does go on a bit. My advice to the director would be to put in more scenes showing how the tireless strength of the immortal could be harnessed for the greater good. Imagine the speed at which they’d excavate a spillweir!!! Verdict: 4/5 The violence of the conflict between bloodthirsty immortals is oddly reminiscent of much of the politics of the Cotswolds canal committee. Out soon on DVD: The human centipede I’m really looking forward to seeing this film, which I expect is about those human chains volunteers form when unloading bricks from a van. I myself have had some very amusing times passing bricks from hand to hand and always thought it would film well.

“I say, could I possibly give those bricks a quick clean before you start laying them?”

Until next time – happy viewing!

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Navvies 251  

Navvies magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways of England and Wales.

Navvies 251  

Navvies magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways of England and Wales.