volunteers restoring waterways
navvies Coming soon
Reporting from the
Easter camps and Cleanup
waterway recovery group
Issue No 259 June-July 2013
Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 email@example.com Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine. Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA). The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89. Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, James Butler, Chris Davey, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Dave Hearnden, Jude Palmer, Mike Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts. ISSN: 0953-6655 ÂŠ 2013 WRG
Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for page 2
In this issue...
Above: London WRG’s volunteers take a break from vegetation clearance around Poyntz Bridge to swing it open for the Chichester Ship Canal Trust’s tripboat. See next time for a London WRG report; see p43 for a report from WRG BITM on the Chichester. Below: IWA Warwickshire branch working party clearing the offside path at Hatton Locks. We now try to include all IWA branch work parties in our diary: if yours on’t appear, please tell us. Left: HS2 - what can we do to stop it harming canal restoration? See pages 6, 30 and 44. Front cover: the Cleanup, with the Redhouse Cone and Dadford’s Shed in the background. See report, p38 (photo: Martin Ludgate). Back cover top: plotting a bridge for the Gipping - see p29 (RGT) Back cover bottom: Hazel relaunched - see p33 (WCBS)
Chairman plus Inglesham latest news’ 4-5 Editorial HS2 versus canal restoration 6 Catering important news for anyone who has anything to do with camp cooking 7 Coming soon last chance to book a camp 8 Camp reports Cotswold at Easter 9-13 40 interviews BITM’s and Tasterella 14-23 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 24-26 Letters to the editor 27-28 Progress our regular roundup from around the country’s canal restoraitons 29-33 Camp report Lancaster at Easter 34-37 Cleanup report not quite the BCN 38-39 WRG NW a year in the life 40-41 Toolbox Talk beware Leptospirosis 42 Dig report BITM on the Chichester 43 WRGBC news from our own Boat Club 44 Bits & Pieces and more about Tirfors 45 Noticeboard Manchester Cleanup plans 46 Infill including the return of Deirdre 47
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Press date for issue 260: 1 July.
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 MKP says ‘Don’t assume’ Chairman’s Comment Many of you will have known Roger Lorenz and will be sad to hear he passed away recently. Roger was a tremendous champion of all aspects of the heritage of canals and, as a way of remembering all he did for the waterways, there is talk of setting up a charitable trust. The aim will be to teach traditional boating skills to young people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to hands on experience on a working boat. It’s something we tend to neglect in all our talk of restoration there is a reason that every feature we restore is a particular shape and size and it’s all to do with being exactly the right feature for boats. Spend a day boating and you will appreciate all your efforts on site even more! We shall continue to support this exciting opportunity and, once it’s set up and running, will encourage people to go along and learn all the skills we need to keep alive be they boat handling, engine maintenance,
“There is a reason that every feature we restore is a particular shape and size - and it’s all to do with being exactly the right feature for boats”
or whatever. One of the most amusing bits of the recent Leader Training Day we held was a session titled Don’t Assume. It will make a great Navvies article one day (once we are allowed to publish the photos) but for the moment can I suggest that this years ‘Slogan for the summer’ as I like to coin is...
“Don’t assume anything Keep asking questions”
...It’s what keeps us on our toes (and out of hospital!) A conversation at the Leaders Training day: Colin (for it is he): Why don’t we have grease-guns in the Camps kit? MKP (for it is he): Firstly because they are horrible dirty things that smear evil shit everywhere, and whenever you actually really need to use one you will find that it is empty having oozed its evil slime over your mattock handles, publicity banner, supply of t-shirts, etc. But mainly because we don’t have anything in the kit that needs it and if you have an excavator on site then it should
Kit Update The following changes have been made to the camp kits for this summer:
. Extra aprons, temperature probes and chopping boards – as requested by the HACCP team. . The additional PPE boxes – actually not a new item, but going by some of the
photos from last year, some people seemed to think these were for dressing up! Obviously please do use this additional PPE if needed but please look after it and put it away clean!
. Utility key – (funny little multi-ended key thingy) kept with the accommodation kit to help break into the hall fuse-box at six in the morning when the griddle has done it again!
. Oil spill kit – this is really only to mitigate the risk that the kit diesel generator represents, should it decide to dump its contents all over the ground. . New direction signs – yes thanks to Alan Wiffen we now have multidirectional
arrow signs. (We are also working on some new ‘hard hat’ etc. signs which we hope to finish off in time to get into the kits.
. Whiteboards – to travel with the accommodation kit to help with the communications & general planning of your camp.
have one with it, whether hired in or not. It’s not our job to sort Important: Inglesham update out the maintenance of every site we come to. If you need one In our Cotswold Feature last time we promthen the site should have one, ised you an update on what was happening not the kit. at Inglesham Lock, the project at the east end of Colin: Aha – fair enough, but it the Cotswold Canals which was to be restored would probably be a good idea thanks to the IWA Tom Rolt Appeal but which had to put a reminder about that in hit delays in gettin the necessary permissions. Navvies. It now looks like we will be running a few And it came to pass. weeks of work to sort out the stop-planks/chamber It’s that time of year – a waterproofing, investigation, lower wing wall renew season of Camps means it’s pairs etc. starting September-ish. These will not be time to talk about the new items advertised as “normal” Canal Camps in our camps in the kit you will encounter this booklet but we will be advertising them as soon as summer. See the opposite page we can in Navvies and on all the other outlets infor a list of the changes for the cluding WRG website and Facebook group. An opportunity for those who love the wet plop! camp kits. And finally we have modiRegister your interest via Jenny at head office. fied the Canal Camps Safety Talk in a small but crucial way – more details thirst after righteousness. (Possibly the worst elsewhere in Navvies [See page 7 ...Ed] but pun I have ever made in Navvies) suffice to say that sorry – you will all have to As I sign off I am sitting in a pub garlisten to the new Safety Talk this summer, no den with glorious sunshine and the boats matter how much of an “old hand” you are. passing by. Pretty much all our camps are We have also decided on the vehicle full, the work is sorted and I hope you are circuits for the summer and as usual these looking forward to this summer as much as I will be printed up and installed on the back am. bulkhead of each van so you know where See you on site! things are going after your camp. Martin Mike Palmer have you got them – can we put them in navvies? As an aside I was rather surprised to read in my local paper that there was a bloke who collected bricks and had over 30,000 types of brick. That’s not surprising (seems perfectly logical to me), what was shocking was his suggestion that he had a very rare brick that was supposed to say Accrington Iron but actually said Accrington Nori and that make it very rare and valuable. If that is the case than those locks at Aston we built must be worth a fortune! Finally, something a little “off the wall”. My local church is hosting a water-based church service as part of its village festival this year. On the evening of Friday 21 June at Lowsonford Village Hall there will be a celebration of water. Anyone who is passing, be it by boat, towpath or water-ski is welcome to stop by and have a ponder about why we do this navvying thing. The village hall has a long and honourable history with regard to waterway restoration and has had navvies sleeping on its floor both in the last century and this. It’s also just a hundred yards from “a reason everything we restore is a particular shape” the Fleur de Lys pub for those who have a
Editorial Martin’s train of thought...
“One thing I’m sure of is that if we don’t do something about it, it’s going to stuff the canals big-time” so what do we do about HS2?
What do the HS2 railway and a witch have in common? Just for a change, I thought I’d write about railways. Not the nice, cuddly, friendly steam railways like the Churnet Valley Railway that’s working with the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Trust to get both of their routes restored (see previous editorials). No, the big, nasty, unnecessary, ill-conceived, money-squandering politicians’ vanity project, the HS2 high speed railway. Or, alternatively, HS2, the vital transport link which will save our existing rail network from grinding to a standstill under the weight of ever-increasing traffic, and whose lightningfast trains will help the environment by winning back traffic from air and road. Or any number of other opinions in between. Indeed, as a frequent user of the railways myself, I’m still very unsure about whether it’s the right thing to be spending so much public money on. But one thing I am sure of is that if we don’t do something about it, it’s going to stuff the canals big-time. And in particular, four of those being restored. Now, we’ve had all this in the past with roads: from the M6 slicing off the Lancaster Northern Reaches in the 1960s to the battle 30 years later to save the Lichfield & Hatherton canals from being butchered by the M6 Toll. And we actually hoped, with the introduction in around 2000 of new guidelines on construction of new roads, requiring them to make appropriate provision where they cross canals under restoration, that we’d seen the last of it. But no: unfortunately when they brought in the new guidelines nobody thought to add “...or railways”. I suppose you can’t blame them - after all, it’s not like anyone was building any new railways. Oh, except for the one from London to the Channel Tunnel which was well under construction at the time. But that’s by the by... Anyway, look at the map on p30 and you’ll see HS2 cuts through four canal restorations.
. . . .
The Lichfield, where it was originally due to cross with plenty of headroom but after other folk objected to the high viaduct it might be modified to cross with zero headroom the Ashby, which it will cross right next to where a residential development was all set to provide half a mile of rebuilt canal - but which is now in doubt thanks to HS2 the Chesterfield, where several miles might well be completely trashed by the railway, and about 3 million of promised Lottery money has already been lost as a result the Barnsley, Dearne & Dove, which will now need a new aqueduct to cross the line
So what can we do? Well, the canal societies plus IWA are already working together on a plan of action to get the route modified (while at the same time not being too anti-HS2 because, as indicated above, there is a range of opinions; but more because they feel it’s important to stay neutral and avoid being characterised as another bunch of NIMBYs) and have met with representatives of HS2. But some reports don’t bode well. I hear tell of one canal group turning up at meeting in London, to have it made clear to them that the HS2 team felt they should be grateful for HS2’s attendance at the meeting at all, and that if they showed any signs of objecting to the railway plans, “we will take you to court. And we will win.” On the other hand, I heard of a meeting where the rather curious point was being made that a particular canal had been allowed for “because it already has water in it”. It seems that, rather like a witch, a high speed railway has issues when it comes to crossing water! It will take a decade for the railway to reach the main construction phase: what if we spent that time building lengths of all four canals, to make sure that when HS2 arrives there will be a canal there already with water and boats? Well, something like that is already being suggested for one of the canals in question - and we might just find ourselves supporting it. We’ll have more in Navvies if and when we know for sure that it’s happening. Martin Ludgate
IMPORTANT: please read this update to our catering procedures if you are involved in leading or catering on Camps - even if you are just eating the stuff!
WRG Catering Please read this update
from now on (if you attended the leaders’ training day then you’ll know about this). Please read if you are involved in lead- You’ll be provided with the new Safety Talk ing or catering on Camps in any way and the catering toolbox talk before your Changes to the safety talk this canal camp. summer: As part of the work that’s been We have also deciding to formalise this done by the Catering HACCP team we have approach to food hygiene just a little bit, made some changes to the Canal Camps mainly to prove to external bodies that we safety talk from this summer onwards. take it seriously but also to ensure good (Incidentally, if you’re wondering what practice is adhered to. HACCP is, it stands for ‘Hazard Analysis and If you are responsible for running the Critical Control Points’ and basically it’s a kitchen on a camp then we would like you to systematic approach to food safety.) sign a form, namely Catering Form CF003 – We have replaced the existing section Food Hygiene Checklist. It’s a list of imporon catering with your first ‘toolbox talk’ of tant food hygiene points and you are signing the camp which not only covers information to say that you understand them. It is a about how your camp will deal with feeding useful aide memoire to review each year and you and other domestic issues but there will help you get your WRG cooking head on, be a specific section on basic food hygiene (obviously if there is anything that you don’t and kitchen safety. The cook, leader or understand or you have other questions then appointed substitute will deliver this during please contact Jenny asap). your safety briefing. You only need to sign this once a year At the end of the talk, the section no matter how many camps you cook on and where you sign will include a statement to it is only the ‘catering lead’ that has to sign it, say you have been given the camp catering you don’t have to sign it if you are just helptoolbox talk. This is in addition to the exist- ing out. It’s just a record that someone who ing wording that says you have not only read knows about these things is looking after the the WRG Volunteers Health and Safety Guide overall arrangements. If there is no cook on (and that you agree to abide by it) but you the camp then we would expect the leader to attended a safety briefing (and agree to sign it as the ‘catering lead’, as they will have follow the leader’s instructions). overall responsibility for food hygiene. You We hope this will set the expectations will be sent this form in advance: please for everyone as to the quality of toolbox talks return it signed before the camp and it will they receive on site. be kept on record. The catering folder: We have proNote that this form is a generic list of duced some handy laminates, cooks’ guiditems designed to cover most WRG kitchens. ance notes and other procedures to help If you have anything specific to your accomeveryone, whether they are a first time cook, modation then you can make note of it on a professional chef or thinking about volunthe Safety Talk (as you would previously with teering to cook breakfast. This material, the original talk). along with other documents that have been And don’t forget that anyone wanting around for ages can be found in the Catering to help with cooking on a WRG camp can Folder. It is public documentation, much claim back the cost of completing a basic like the Practical Restoration Handbook – food hygiene course – there are plenty out please use it and pass comments back to there; contact Jenny for more information. head office. Helen Gardner Leaders and Cooks: This obviously on behalf of the WRG Board affects the safety talks you’ll be delivering and the WRG HACCP team
Canal Camps 2013 part two
Last time we brought you a preview of the canal camps up to mid July, intending to continue this time with part two taking us through to September. The idea being that to encourage you to send your bookings in... Not a lot of point in doing that, now, because as we go to press most of the camps are already booked solid! Yes, that’s right, we’re afraid you’re too late for lots of them. There are a few spaces at the end of the summer: you will be very welcome on the Mon & Brec and Swansea canals - see the table below for details of places available as we go to print. One camp which would still welcome lots more volunteers is IWA National Waterways Festival camp, Camp 2013-09 from 13 to 24 July, and the leader is Dave ‘Daddy Cool’ Worthington. Let’s hear from him about what’s happening... Welcome to Cassiobury Park… ...or so it says on the notice board. There are paddling pools, a miniature railway, a wetlands nature reserve and even a canal somewhere in the far distance. What it doesn’t mention is that for a few days this July, there will also be the National Waterways Festival. If you’ve already booked then feel free to go off and read the back pages, otherwise head straight off to the wrg wide web and fill in a booking form. Accommodation will be the usual marquee in a field, but the field appears to be not in the middle of nowhere, but in Watford so civilisation will be near at hand. Festival work is varied. There will almost certainly be a certain amount of fencing to be erected and redirected (although it’s not a very big site), there will be tables and chairs, banners and bunting and other stuff to sort out, distribute, erect etc. General housekeeping duties are shared throughout the teams. During the festival the tasks vary – from the inevitable litter picking (giving you the chance to get to know the stalls and the stall holders and sample the wide variety of ‘goods’ available, to directing the public, either in their cars or out of them. When everyone goes home, we can take it all down, pack it all away and go home. All this in the sunny South of England (or at least, not North of Watford), so rather than barrowing 80 tons of woodchip around site, perhaps a little gentle lounging with an ice cream might be in order. Do come and try it, even if you can only spare a couple of days. (My current copy of the site plan appears to show the beer tent right next to the accommodation, if that makes it more attractive) Oh, and if there are any wrg cooks out there who would like to come and cook, if I promise not to make unreasonable demands, do let me know. For latest details on all camps including how to book visit wrg.org.uk, check the WRG Facebook group, or contact head office on 01494 783453 or email@example.com.
Canal Camps Preview
Summer 2013 Canal Camps: dates, sites, leaders, vans, kits, any places left? No site dates kit vans leader(s) places? 05 Lichfield 29/6-06/7 A RFB/EHP Becky Parr/Mark Richardson full up 06 Wey & Arun 29/6-06/7 B SAD/FEH Bill Nicholson/Graham Hawkes full up 07 Wilts & Berks 06/7-13/7 B SAD/FEH Bob Crow/Katrina Schonhut full up 08 Wendover 06/7-13/7 A RFB/EHP Stephen Davis/Ian & Liz Williamson full up 09 National Festival 13/7-24/7 A/B All David Worthington Lots of room! 10 Basingstoke 27/7-03/8 B SAD/FEH Chris Blaxland/Colin Hobbs 1 place left 11 Chelmer 27/7-03/8 A RFB/EHP Chris Byrne/Gavin Darby 1 place left 12 Cotswold 03/8-10/8 B SAD/FEH Martyn Worsley/Phil Rodwell full up 13 Cromford 03/8-10/8 A RFB/EHP Adrian Crow/Emma Greenall full up 14 Cotswold 10/8-17/8 B SAD/FEH Nigel Lee/Helena Rosiecka full up 15 Cromford 10/8-17/8 A RFB/EHP Steve Harmes/Chris Colbourne a few places 16 Monmouthshire 17/8-24/8 B SAD/FEH Ralph Mills/Katie Bell 1 place left 17 Chesterfield 17/8-24/8 A RFB/EHP George Rogers/Liv Vernon full up 18 Monmouthshire 24/8-31/8 B SAD/FEH Adrian Crow/Emma Greenall a few places 19 Chesterfield 24/8-31/8 A RFB/EHP George Rogers/Simon Vernon/Colin Hobbs full up 20 Swansea 31/8-07/9 B SAD/FEH Bob Crow/Katrina Schonhut plenty of room
“an exceedingly large tree had grown on top of the buried end of the wall and its root system had grown into every nook & cranny” - a challenge for the ‘mobile camp’ Camp 2013-03 Cotswold Canals “If you need a Port in a snow storm then it has to be Brimscombe Port, Stroud”
Camp report Easter on the Cotswold practicalities thrown up by the severe “winter” conditions experienced prior to, and forecast for, the Easter period for casting concreting coping stones on the exposed towpath bank below lock 26 on the Lichfield Canal resulted in the hasty switch of the camp to Stroud. Emailed pictures of a 150200mm layer of snow on the ground with 600mm snow drifts at the accommodation were not good signs on the Monday before the camp start on the following Friday. After much agonizing during the day and evening the L&H Trust decided that discretion was the better part of valour and the decision was given early on Tuesday morning. Given the weather situation there had been some preemptive alternate site dialogue with CCT, after consultation with my assistant Bob, the awesome Jen moved into action for our smooth move. Logistically our main concern was the transportation arrangements of the folks attending the camp, a short drive for parents or a convenient train journey potentially became more of a chore, so some serious
There is fast becoming a Premier Leaders League for the number of times you end up at a camp location not being the one you originally signed up to be at. Alas I’ve sneaked onto this list of illustrious individuals, and it would be inappropriate to name names but my guess is that ‘three days before the arrival date’ is at the top of the last-minute switches. My thanks go out to the understanding and patience of all those folks on the camp that made the switch. To those that were unable to join us, I apologize for any disappointment and inconvenience; the wonder of WRG has plenty of other restoration jewels to enjoy. When it comes to thanks there is one person that deserves the full recognition spotlight and that is Jen at WRG head office. Immeasurable in her administrative orchestration skills and a compelling positivity that all will be lovely, Jen you are the very best and pivotal to the great things that happen with WRG. Finally all of this couldn’t have happened without a receptive and responsive host society and energized facilitators, the Cotswold Canals Trust and Jon Pontefract / Steve Hake fit that bill. The victims of circumstance were our friends on the Lichfield & HatherScaffolding around the remains of the wall with embedded giant stump ton Canals. The
cranny, totally disrupting the stonework and the arch. It was further exacerbated by ivy growth and various acts of waste material dumping against the opening. The tree was removed some years ago but the stump and root system was left in a growing state. A detailed drawing of the exposed areas was made by CCT and the tasks performed included clearance of vegetation around Clearing the channel near Hope Mill the base of the wall, excavation and reroute planning especially with Bob in the moval of soil & debris to allow the erection other WRG van, and some understanding of scaffolding to clear the remainder of the parents, facilitated pickups from service vegetation at high level, and carefully disstation car parks but saved a serious crossmantling the wall, numbering the key stone country trek to Stroud from the East Midelements of the wall and taking them to safe lands. It was here that the award for bring CCT storage. the most number of suitcases and bags on a Over 6 days a small group MUP-led camp goes to Lucy and Stefanie. The flood- initially by Ed Walker and then by Adrian ing risk in Boston was abated for a week as Sturgess with Stef and Joe (our DoE’ers), the land mass rose when the massive weight Lucy, Kim, David, Alan, chainsaw Bob, in fact of their wardrobes was transferred to Stroud! most of the team helped out with the tasks, In recent years the wonders of Unit 4, and carefully removed the arch and two Brimscombe Port industrial estate have been thirds of the wall. Progress was constrained home to Stroud camps and weekend; alas a by the extent and size of the root growth to new tenant had moved in, but we were able which chainsaw Bob had to literally slice to utilise the outstanding accommodation of away the root growth bit by bit. Unfortuthe vacant Unit 1 on the same site within nately a large chainsaw was not available to even closer walking distance of the work reduce the tree stump which had the final sites and essential local amenities. With the third of the wall totally strangled in the rehelp of the KESCRG cooker on loan to CCT maining root growth. For safe keeping the the accommodation was sorted. scaffold was removed at the end of the week. Then there was the little matter of the The remaining members of the camp work. A rather unique task was identified by proceeded to clear the canal section below Jon. The original Brimscombe Port was Gough’s Orchard and the “Ironworks” indussurrounded by a stone boundary wall, and at trial site (the buried Hope Mill Lock location) the Bourne Lock end of the site, the offside on the off-side of overhanging vegetation, port boundary wall pedestrian gateway reand cleared years of accumulated wood quired exposing and careful dismantling (to debris adjacent to the Ironworks site. Bonbe re-built later when the temperatures were fires were of a “Moose grade” of controlled more conducive to lime mortar). With years burns. of encroachment of the A419 embankment, The resulting view is now one of a an exceedingly large tree had grown on top clearly defined, tidy, open view of the canal of the line of the buried end of the wall and bed. Phil, Sleepy Dave, Laurence, Kim and its root system had grown into every nook & Ulrich were prime movers in the cleanup
with chainsaw Bob accessing some of the the great meals our illustrious camp cooks larger sections. The later clearance in the Debbie and Sarah prepared for us. On the damper areas of the canal bed ensured that Sunday evening a raid over the hill to a pub our “mud larks” Lucy, Stef and Joe were first in Nailsworth saw the team bookend the pub in the queue to the shower. Our spirits were quiz by storming to a worthy win, while not warmed in the at times bitterly cold condiwanting to steal the whole show the other tions by the complimentary and encouraging team sacrificed themselves (so they say) to response from the local towpaths users. finish last. A trip out to the Stirrup Cup Inn Having successfully completed this task at Bisley for pub skittles night was most the team moved to Griffin Mill Lock where pleasing. If Joe bowls overarm as well as his part of the team removed fallen trees, willow underarm exhibition of talent then cricket saplings and off-side overhanging vegetation stumps will need replacing a-plenty. The from the downstream side of the lock. Some short walk to the Ship Inn was well trod interesting use of formwork sections allowed during the week as the big freeze tempered the fallen trees in the cut to be recovered further exploration of the environs of Stroud. from the rather soft reed & silt layer in the My esteemed assistant did venture up out of canal. Ulrich & Laurence were the Tirfor the Golden Valley with a van load to enjoy kings in pulling out the willow saplings with the delights of the Tunnel Inn at Sapperton. bit of help from Adrian on the mini digger. On the Friday night we were joined by the The bonfires were a welcome part of the jolly KESCRG peeps who had the weekend day’s work in the extremely bitterly cold wind dig planned before we and the Lancaster chill and icy conditions. week 2 temp bookended them with our The DoE’ers assisted with the level diverted camps. survey of the towpath to allow the cross My sincere thanks to Bob Crow my referencing of the existing slope to the DDA assistant for all his sterling effort and support (Disability Discrimination Act) compliance to making this a memorable experience for gradient. Sleepy Dave, David and Joe lowall, to Debbie and Sarah for their accommoered the system scaffolding in the main lock dation / welfare support and another outchamber and the brickwork preparation on standing range of meals, even after going the tow path lock chamber wall was continhome early on Tuesday! To Ed, David, and ued along with the making safe of large Adrian for their MUP contributions at the coping stone adjacent to the lower gate Port Wall gate and to everyone on the camp recess. Ron Kirby from CCT came along and for making it a great, and highly enjoyable trained Lucy, Stef, Joe, sleepy Dave and me camp. Last but not least HQ Jen- star quality. on the use of the Arbotec brick saw. Our ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson three illustrious DoE’ers under the watchful eye of instructor Adrian had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with CCT’s Molson plant company “loaned” mini digger on a stockpile of Type 1 material in the Brimscombe Port CCT yard area. Well it may seem that it was work, work, work but we did get to see the sights of Stroud and the surrounds when prised out of the super soft sofas Preparation for brickwork repair at Griffin Mill Lock in the accom after
“...that slight sense of surprise and relief at having achieved something so utterly out of the daily experience...” - Sophie tries to pin down what it is about WRG
Easter on the Cotswold II
regular towpath building days alongside Community Payback workers. We also Our Easter camp on the Cotswolds at Stroud worked at Hilly Orchard retrieving bricks was certainly the most enjoyable camp I’ve fallen into the water and repairing damaged led. It had all the good things about a camp brickwork from a floating pontoon. At Frome (the pride at having survived each day, the Gardens, just across the water, we had the sense of achievement, the laughs) with very task of removing a large pipe poking out into few of the negatives (exhaustion, bruises, the canal and posing a hazard to navigation. lost keys). We had a terrific team of volunThis proved to be troublesome as it was teers heavily weighted towards cheerful and capped with immensely thick concrete. We energetic young Duke of Edinburgh award were making progress with power tools seekers, who contributed a great energy to when the locals unfortunately had to raise the week. the water levels at short notice and work had Maybe I’ve also matured as a leader – to stop for safety reasons. It was frustrating this time I concentrated on camp logistics not to be able to complete the work however and delegated the site supervision to reliable we left it so it could easily be finished by the volunteers. I highly recommend this apTrust at a later date. proach as it’s easier to handle the project One Tuesday we operated across three management if you aren’t also knackered different sites around Stroud and I nearly from site work or focusing on the smaller had a breakdown co-ordinating volunteers, details of each site. I was very fortunate to tool and van movements. After that we stuck have two good MUPs in Martin Danks and to two sites! Some of the brick-fishing team Adrian Sturgess, who did a great job running got a bit over-enthused and insisted on each site, and Martin Ludgate for two days pulling all sort of junk out of the cut, includbrickwork training. As we overlapped with ing the inevitable shopping trolley, a compuKESCRG’s weekend at Griffin Mill Lock we ter monitor and a pretty functional bike. were also able to work alongside them for They also proved efficient at retrieving the the first day, which I think helped set the submerged bull-nosed coping bricks we tone and atmosphere for the week as well as needed to finish the wall. impart more practical skills. Fairly quickly some heroes emerged: The younger volunteers gelled very well Angus was the youngest team member but as a team and if their kitchen hygiene was seemed to know his way round all the power perhaps rather minimal it was really their tools and was quickly delegated to excavatonly failing (we’ll overlook the occasional ing the troublesome pipe. Engineering stumidnight games of biscuit frisbee as their site dent Jack quickly picked up the levels and work was so good). Old hands such as myJordan became adept at moving the ponself were impressed that they even had the toon. Clive and Emma emerged as people energy to go out running or swimming after who could be relied on to do a thorough job site – clearly I wasn’t working them hard with precision and Tom developed a passion enough. for pulling all kinds of crap out of the cut, After a day working alongside KESCRG even when we begged him not to. We were at Griffin Mill lock removing decayed brickgrateful to have Rory and Matt around for work and landscaping, we moved to other their cheerful personalities, and James was sites at the far end of Stroud. Our main task very useful on site but will chiefly be rememwas building trailer parking next to the slipbered for the fistfuls of discount coupons he way at Strachan’s close off Chestnut Lane contributed for real ale! where the swingbridge is. Some volunteers At one point I had to go cap in hand to joined one of the Cotswold Canal Trust’s the CCT and beg for a generator. After
Camp 2013-04 Cotswold Canals
grumbling that “WRGies break everything of us more unfamiliar stretches. Often this they touch” they eventually agreed to loan us involves exercising muscles we didn’t know one, provided I sign over my firstborn child we had in a site chore. But also sometimes as security. It was with great relief I handed it’s that extra mental effort that comes with their equipment back safely to them later in applying unfamiliar and untried skills in a the week. CCT was immensely supportive totally novel situation. In my case, it meant throughout our week and provided everyproject managing across several sites with a thing we needed and RAF Martin also stayed team mostly of new faces and handling the on from the previous week’s camp to ensure technical challenges which emerged. The a smooth handover which was useful. The satisfaction I think comes from attempting accommodation at Unit 1 Brimscombe Port this novelty and from succeeding. It’s that was great and provided more than enough slight sense of surprise and relief at having room, as well as being blissfully warm. achieved something so utterly out of the Thursday was probably the hardest day daily experience which makes our hobby so as 30 tonnes of aggregate needed barrowing exquisitely satisfying. over the car park. Volunteers Tim and Ann If we’re pinning down the exact nature were particularly stoic at this site and, like of that peculiar satisfaction, surely it’s the fact many of the team, took a great interest in that it is achievable; tough, but achievable. finishing what they started. This was a tough WRG exists as an organisation to support period in the week and I was grateful how ordinary people as they attempt what are for no-one shirked this work and even applied them extraordinary feats. The Waterway themselves with greater energy to get the Recovery Group is extraordinary not because job done. it is a voluntary organisation, but because its Towards the end of the week we took volunteers are operating so far outside their advantage of the DVD collection our excellent comfort zones. Mathematicians bricklay and cook Peter had thoughtfully provided and cardiologists build car parks. It would be a enjoyed some film nights with popcorn and far less admirable organisation if it consisted beers. I’d recommend movie nights on a entirely of civil engineers out on a busman’s camp, especially after the harder days. We holiday. Thanks to everyone who supported also managed an outing to Sapperton Tunnel us this week in achieving remarkable things! and the excellent pub there, and trips to the Sophie Smith Wetherspoons in Stroud which did a decent job of feeding us at bargain price. The Ship Inn at Brimscombe was less popular although we went once or twice. As usual, leading the camp was an immensely satisfying experience which reminded me how extraordinarily rare it is to truly step outside the beaten path of your normal experience. Daily life may be stretching but those stretches are usually in a familiar direction asking ‘only’ an extra effort in familiar tasks; a particularly hard session at the gym, an especially difficult work “...a passion for pulling all kinds of crap out of the cut...” meeting. But WRG asks
WRG at 40
“My first experience was not being able to see any of the few radiators for steaming work clothes that were drying out” - things can only get better for BITM’s Simon Walker
Forty views for forty years
Interview 33 was a bit of a collaboration – a BITM collaboration: current WRG BITM Chairman Simon Walker agreed to be interviewed alongside Dave Wedd. Whilst Dave has never formally held any committee post with BITM, when you think BITM, you think Dave. He’s also edited the newsletter for a number of years. The interview also has welcome additions from BITMite Stella Wentworth, who came along for fun and was able to fill in some gaps for us.
Q: Simon, how and when did you first get involved in canal restoration?
A: [Simon] We were living in Oxford at the time, this is
going back 10 or 12 years and there was some sort of canal festival just by the Oxford Canal. Went down as a family, had a look. There must have been some WRG presence there because I remember picking up brochures. Came home, put them in a drawer and did nothing about it for at least another two years when there was another of these festivals. Went back down there again, went round all the stands, picked up more paperwork and this time actually did Dave Wedd (left) and Simon Walker something about it. Got in touch, I presume, with Dave and got invited to come along to the Wilts & Berks, in a January - maybe 2002 - and we were pouring mass concrete in rain that was coming down like stair rods. My first experience of being there in an evening, in a village hall, was not being able to see any of the few radiators there were for steaming work clothes that were drying out. It was a challenging introduction. [Stella pointed out that it had been a BITM stand that Simon had found].
Q: What was your next step after that? A: [Simon] Things could only get better. Having had to have my car pulled out of the verge where it was parked by the BITM van showed that people were prepared to not leave you just to rot once they’d used your services for the weekend. [Dave] It was probably because I’d had to have a WRG van hauled out by a tractor when I was the only one left on site a few years ago. [Simon] I guess things just progressed on from there.
Q: What persuaded you to go back for a second time? A: [Simon] Better weather. Interest, I suppose, in what was being achieved. The work on the Wilts & Berks, at Seven Locks, was clearly a construction phase of the project - it was not long before we got to the destruction, and the desecration and everything else that goes with scrub-bashing, and that’s all good fun. It was the opportunity to get out into some fresh air with a wide range of jobs that needed to be done; things that were appealing to my somewhat strange sense of what’s fun to do.
Q: Dave, how about you – how did you get started? A: [Dave] I took up canoeing and then saw an advert in the paper for a free film show which was the Surrey and Hants [Canal Society] with John Humphries doing a talk (ex-IWA chairman). Went along to that for a while, did their sponsored walk, which involving walking the full length of the Basingstoke Canal. Eventually, went to a work party in December, probably 1984, which was the local IWA branch working at lock 1. They gave me a kango hammer and said “cut a hole in this wall” – one foot cube. This was backing so that new brickwork would bond into old brickwork. I was just going through a
divorce so having a kango hammer to do some demolition really appealed. They’d actually given me some reasonably skilled work to do straight away and I really enjoyed it. There wasn’t another work party with them for a whole month, so I went out with a different group the following week. That was at Lock 4 on the Basingstoke where Pablo [Haworth] had just recently started that one after finishing lock 5. Really enjoyed that, dumper driving and such like. I was a bit worried about the dumper driving and thought I ought to have a bit of training. KESCRG were doing training so I eventually went up to one of their twoKangoing on Lock 3 on the Basingstoke in the 1980s week work camps. They sent me to grout the inside of a bywash pipe; obviously it was a concrete pipe and all the joints had to be grouted from the inside. There were two of us inside grouting the pipe and when we came out at the other end we found they’d filled in the pipe above and this Massey Ferguson digger had been driving around on top.
Q: What was your first experience of WRG? A: [Dave] It was KESCRG and then the Wey and Arun work camp – that was probably run by WRG, though it was Catherine from KESCRG who was leading that camp along with John Palmer. There we were digging out a culvert at Lee Farm Lock, laying a concrete culvert through, which involved a lot of digging out of lovely blue clay, digging it out by hand. There was one day when one of the directors of the canal trust came along and worked with us. The following day there was a JCB!!
Q: It sounds like you got involved very quickly - you were digging on weekend digs that were vaguely where you lived and not associated with any particular group? A: [Dave] Any group that was working on the canal, I would go and work with them. If there was accommodation, then I’d stay in the village hall. [Dave] It was nearly every weekend, sometimes I must have had a day off to go canoeing instead, since I managed to do training to do the Devizes to Westminster canoe race. [Stella] You did say you’d won the KESCRG attendance award. [Dave] I got that because I got involved with doing phone rounds for them. Ken [Parish] persuaded quite a few people to do phone rounds in their area and there was one month where I couldn’t find anybody from my area so I phoned up Ken and nobody else had either – he couldn’t make it either. I think I ended up ringing the Wey and Arun telling them “better cancel the accommodation” – they said “we’re going to be having a work party anyway” so I went down with Winston Harwood. So I was the only KESCRG person there and I’d done just about every other KESCRG work party as well, so I got the attendance award. Q: Where did WRG BITM come into it? A: [Dave] That was formed in about ’86. I wasn’t involved when it initially started. I think I may have been on about the second or third work party. I remember going along with Mark Bennett to the Southern Stratford in the days of the Stratford Blitz, pressure washing a lock chamber – I think that’s the only time I’ve worked on the Stratford – somewhere around Lowsonford.
Q: Can you remember what the idea was around creating BITM as a regional group – who was involved in that? A: [Dave] Soo Duffin, Steve Pitt, John Palmer and Chris Davey. Chris was chairman originally. I think the idea seemed to be to go and work on any canal other than the Basingstoke, which suited me because by that time I’d got a full time job with the Surrey & Hants Canal Society so I was working five days a week on the Basingstoke Canal and most weekends as well – I’d do KESCRG weekends, NWPG
weekends or London WRG – they were all on the Basingstoke. Having the chance to work somewhere else made a nice change. [Simon] I did a little bit of research for an article that I wrote for our 25th anniversary, and I have to say that we haven’t improved any over the years in letting people know what we’ve been doing. It was pretty vague even at the beginning – there was a report in Navvies maybe three or four months after the event that BITM had suddenly been discovered underneath a gooseberry bush or something, somewhere. Working my way through quite a number of editions of Navvies after that, there was singularly very little in the way of information as to what the heck anybody was getting up to at that time. It seemed to be, it was set up to give people an opportunity to see a wider range of projects from a nonlocal perspective. We were able to draw bodies from a much wider geographical area – that’s what it started out with and that’s what it’s continued to be.
Q: [To Dave] Have you been a committee member on BITM? A: [Dave] Not officially a committee member, no. I’ve always done the newsletter, which does mean people have to tell me what’s going on. I’ve also been doing the dates list for WRG, which started out compiling a list just for my own interest. Because I was trying to work every weekend, I needed to try and keep track of what the groups were doing, and each group would have their own separate list of what they were doing. So I would retype that into a list that was in date order so that I could see which ones clashed. Eventually Alan Jervis asked me if he could use that list in Navvies. I found the main way to compile that list was to actually go on the work parties and ask them what they were going to be doing!!
Q: Jumping back to your job with the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society – what work were you doing?
A: [Dave] There were four of us working full time, Frank was building lock gates and the other three of us were fitting the gates - that was one of the jobs. It was whatever needed doing really. We rebuilt Woodend Bridge, which was completely rebuilding the parapets and the sides, repairing the arch. And Langman’s Bridge, which was a listed structure but we got permission to do it on safety grounds. I’d be mixing concrete, driving dumpers. No driving diggers because we had an arrangement that the county council would pay for machine hire, and Frank had persuaded them that machines came with a driver, which meant one extra person on the working party!
Q: How long was that job for? A: [Dave] Four and a quarter years until the restoration was finished and we reopened the canal. I had always intended to work myself out of a job.
Q: Who have been the other chairmen (women) of BITM? A: [Dave] Andy Norton, I think he took over from Chris [Davey], George Stephenson, then when George Stephenson dropped out of it I suppose that was when we were stuck with no chairman. WRG insisted that we needed to have a chairman and that’s when I pointed out that Blue [the Burchetts’ dog] was the only one who hadn’t said “no” to being chairman. [Simon] Blue got the nod. [Stella] Which led to the BITM van being described as the Chairman’s Limo because he was the only one allowed to ride in the back of it! [Dave] Kevin Angus took over after Blue died, and then Kevin died and Tony Hinsley took over. [Simon] He stood down in 2007, at which point nobody else was fool enough to put their head over the parapet and …. [Stella] we were delighted to accept Simon! [Simon] I must have been digging three or four years. My background is as an engineer - I started out living on a farm in Cornwall - mining engineer, tunnelling, construction those sorts of things. It just seemed a useful way of making something out of those few skills that I still remembered from when I was a practising engineer.
Q: In those years between getting soaking wet and becoming chairman did you just go digging with BITM?
A: [Simon] Yes, I have not gone out with any other groups.
Q: Has BITM been a fairly solid group over the years? A: [Simon] Certainly in the early days there were some ups and downs. My recollection, and this is purely from reading what little information there was in Navvies, was that it went through a pretty sticky patch at one stage, fairly early on. Since then, and since I’ve been involved, it has had a very consistent level of interest – a core number of people who come out on a regular basis, that we can rely on. From that point of view, I think it’s done very well.
Q: How many times a WRG BITM working on the Oxford Bridges project in 2012 year do you dig? A: [Dave] Basically once a month, third weekend of each month. [Simon] We chicken out of August, and May is invariably something to do with festivals. [Dave] We started doing the Wendover Arm festival, and we started having a stall at Little Venice Cavalcade. Then through the contacts with Wendover, we decided to help with site services at Rickmansworth – so we were doing three festivals in one month, which didn’t leave much time for anybody to go on a dig. Q: What kind of work did you do at the Wendover Festival? A: [Dave] Anything that needed doing; putting up fencing, marking out the car park. It wasn’t practical to mow the whole field but we would just mow out stripes to mark out the car park. It was a field curved in every direction – you couldn’t see where the cars were parked when you came in. We ended up with long lollipop things that people would hold up so somebody could see where they were supposed to be heading for.
Q: What kind of sites do you go to now? A: [Simon] In my time, everywhere from Chichester to Sleaford, from the Mon and Brec to Chelmer and Blackwater. In the last ten years, anything within that area has been fair game. Having said that, last year we went down to the Stover. It’s very much a Middle England stamping ground for us. Increasingly we have tended, for reasons of economy if nothing else, to draw our horns in a bit and not go as far. It’s a question of how much it costs people to get out to the further-flung places. The Stover project last year, we actually made a long weekend out of it. One of the problems that BITM has through its structure is that we can’t reasonably make use of any of the WRG vehicles to take people from a particular place to a weekend. If you’re London WRG, then I guess that becomes easier to do. We draw our people from as far afield as Devon, South Wales, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire. [Dave] I tried plotting where everyone was coming from on a map once, and it just looked like a spider’s web.
Q: Does BITM have any characteristics as a regional group? A: [Simon] I would say we have tended to have been doing more of the ground clearance, rather than the construction side of things. We’ve got our own Tirfor sets, we’ve got our own van with our bits and pieces in there. Again, that really is a reflection on what individual societies have available for us. It doesn’t mean to say that we can’t do it – last year we were out for a weekend on the Oxford Canal bridge projects up by Rugby. We started off with a weekend up there repointing and rebuilding some of
the parapets – that is a skill set that we certainly have but we may not use it as frequently as some other groups do.
Q: What’s the most useful skill and who taught it to you? A: [Dave] Hopefully driving an excavator. The first lesson I had was when KESCRG were running the National at Waltham Abbey, and there was an opportunity to do basically the safety training down there – plus I’d had several years watching the excavator drivers on the Basingstoke who were really skilled. [Simon] A lot of what we do I have probably had in my background already – obviously the mining side of things - our dumpers are a bit bigger than your dumpers. Turning it on its head, one of the things that I can contribute is an understanding of how to use lime. All of the stonework you see around here [in his house] is done with lime mortars, so where we have had the need for specific materials being used, I hope that I’ve been able to bring some experience and also teach people how to go about using it. I do enjoy going out with my chainsaw and hacking up trees – that is a skill I have actually learnt (not directly through a WRG thing, but through one of the official training schemes).
Q: What would you say has changed for canal restoration in the time you’ve been involved?
A: [Simon, after long pause] Precious little! Some projects have moved along, some haven’t. We still have the opportunity to get grubby, we still have the opportunity to bring structures (and I’m thinking from an archaeological point of view) not only back to life but into public view. One of the things we’ve worked on was Eisey Lock in the middle of the gravel pits out beyond Fairford. When we first went there, you could barely see the thing. We spent a fair time clearing everything away, and the place is now in good condition – a lot of effort has gone into it from other groups as well. It is nice to be able to release some of these structures from the decades of growth that have been hiding them. From BITM’s point of view, one thing that has changed and is continuing to change is that everybody’s getting older. There’s quite a few of us who are getting more mature, and for one reason or another we aren’t getting younger people coming in at the other end of our group profile - that’s a concern. Whether that is reflected across WRG, I don’t know. [Stella] Is this a reflection of changes in society? Now even students have far more in the way of pressures to keep their bills down, they’ve got far less free time than I had when I was a student.
Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement has been? A: [Simon] Keeping a really disparate cross-section of people enthusiastic about the work that’s done – it’s being able to act as an organisational structure under which people can go out and fundamentally enjoy themselves. There’s so many different aspects to it: OK, we’ve got all our equipment; OK, we can organise camps; OK, we can organise a bonfire bash, but above all of that it is simply providing an environment in which people can go out, keep themselves fit, get some fresh air, and get some camaraderie.
Q: Is there anything you’d say WRG is not so good at? A: [Dave] I sometimes wonder how good we are at getting people coming back again – we do get some people coming back, but could we do more?
Q: What is your favourite derelict canal? A: [Simon] I haven’t got a favourite as such. Every canal we go and work on offers something different, something interesting. I really enjoy the opportunity to go round and see different aspects – what the challenges are and how people are trying to overcome them.
Q: Do you have any boating background? A: [Dave] I was born and brought up by the River Thames; we had a house by the Thames. I enjoyed boating, going on my parents’ cruiser and [eventually] had a small boat of my own. Mum would row us across the river to get to school because it was a much shorter route than to walk all the way round. Now I live further away from canals, and spend more time restoring them. [Simon] You have had your uses as well for us in terms of your canoeing capabilities. There have been some occasions where we’ve needed the assistance of waterborne [transport]. You managed to puncture your canoe on the Grantham.
[Dave] When I was working on the Basingstoke, there was a narrowboat that needed to be moved down to the River Wey, turned round and back again (because they wanted it the other way round). We were towing it along with ropes and then came to a part of the towpath where they’d been dredging and the towpath was more than welly depth in mud. So I got the canoe out and towed it. That’s when I realised that you have to be a bit careful about towing because you can’t push to send it in the other direction. [Stella] At Grantham, you were using the canoe to get the chains out on fallen trees and take the Tirfor lines across, so that the bank party could winch them out of the water.
Q: Has anyone inspired you? A: [Dave] Apart from present company, people like John Palmer. He got me involved in going to other canals initially. He persuaded me to go to the Wey and Arun and not just stay on the Basingstoke – he was coming all the way down from Stockport to work on the Basingstoke. [Stella] He taught you all you knew about pumps [Dave] Working with him gives you the confidence to strip down pumps and find out what’s blocking them.
Q: Do you have any ‘do you remember the time...’ stories? A: [Simon] I think my initiation – if that is the right word – into BITM was probably the most striking event of my career thus far. Fortunately. [Dave] That was one of the very unusual working parties where we actually stopped at lunchtime and packed up for the afternoon. There was a work party at Maisemore Lock on the River Severn – we went down there to clear the lock chamber, no real intention of restoring it but we had the opportunity to stop it deteriorating too much more, and a horse fell into the river. Apparently they were doing a pointEisey: “When we first went, you could barely see the thing” to-point, it had lost its rider and then it jumped over the wrong hedge and landed in the river. It was swimming strongly. I think a powerboat went out and persuaded it not to swim downstream towards the weir, so it swam up [to us]. We ended up hauling it out of the water – the landowner who owned the lock chamber was experienced with horses, and she went into the water to put ropes round the horse. All of us managed to get it out of the water. Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: [Dave] A big muddy hole somewhere. [Simon] I think it is probably coming to be time to have a serious discussion as to what WRG can reasonably expect to achieve in the future. With the changeover from BW to CRT, that is something that is going to take a while for people to settle down in their new working environment – their actual jobs may still be the same, and hopefully WRG will be able to adjust the way that it functions to take that into consideration. It is difficult, from my own personal experience in my professional life, when you have a ‘client’ (essentially CRT is a client for WRG) who has been operating under a particular set of conditions for a long time, people within that organisation do take a while to adjust. WRG has opportunities with the new CRT structure, but it will take a while to work out how to make best use of those. In the meantime we are dependent upon the success of individual restoration groups/trusts in maintaining a flow of funding – it is difficult for a lot of them to generate enough funds to keep themselves ticking over as they’d like to - that obviously is going to have an impact on WRG. It is a different set of circumstances that WRG is going to have to address, and that is a task that needs to be done sooner rather than later.
WRG at 40
“I wanted to go on holiday on my own, have a cheap holiday and not go on a Solo or a Saga holiday or anything grim like that” - why Tasteralla joined us
Forty views for forty years
Interview 34 fulfilled my requirement of interviewing someone who started digging after I started doing these interviews. Valerie “Tasterella Taster” Goodwin and I locked ourselves away in a broom cupboard after the leaders’ training day – not the most glamorous of locations...
Q: How and when did you first get involved with canal restoration?
A: I started August 2010 on RAF Martin Thompson’s camp at Eisey and we stayed at Ashton Keynes. That was my first experience with the WRG.
Q: What made you book on the camp? A: I was keen on the canals because I’d been on lots of canal holidays all over the UK (Caledonian Canal, Grand Union, Kennet & Avon, Mon & Brec). I was in the doctor’s surgery one day and I picked up a magazine about canal boating and it said in it “have you thought about doing WRGie?” – well it didn’t actually say those words. I thought “This is it! This is brilliant!” The perfect holiday for me because I wanted to go on holiday on my own, have a cheap holiday and not go on a Solo or a Saga holiday or anything grim like that. I used to do the National Trust years before I had the children and I didn’t really like that very much, the sort of work they get you to do is namby pamby useless stuff that’s no good to man nor beast. I thought it would be better to do proper work and help the canals come back to life.
Q: What work were you doing on that first camp? A: I did lots of brick cleaning. I did three days of brick cleaning and I got an award for cleaning bricks. I realised then I’d found my niche because I just quite like sitting there, cleaning bricks - it’s nice and it takes your mind off your own problems. You get that kind of zen, floaty feeling which I like, that I always look for when I go on a canal camp. You feel tired but you also feel tranquil and zoned out – you’re not worried about your normal day-to-day worries. You’re just quietly bringing wood to the fire or pulling out brambles or backfilling John Hawkins’ brickwork so he can come and do the front line or whatever you’re doing. On that first camp I met John Hawkins, Rob Brotherstone, Kim on the cement mixer, Alan Lines, Dave Miller, RAF Martin, George [Rogers], Mandy [Morley], Steve Baylis and Michelle, Teacher Chris – basically the backbone of WRG were there. I just felt immediately I’d found my people; good people. In the rest of your life you think where are the people that want to do things not because of getting money but because of doing good works. Here they all are! So soothing, so good for me – where I was in my life – to be with people who are healing people. What’s very interesting to me is when you first meet the canal people, the way they are with you is the way they’re always going to be with you. They never get more friendly and they never get less – they’re always the same amount of friendliness. That’s what’s so comforting – they’re always going to be the same. I met wonderful people that first camp and I thought “I can’t wait to get more of this”. So I’ve done loads since then, I don’t know how many exactly, every holiday I’ve got really: Christmas, Easter, all the half-terms. I usually only do the one or perhaps two in the Summer. I’ve mostly done Thames & Severn: Eisey, Inglesham, Stroud. I’ve done a bit of Wilts & Berks, a bit at Nynehead and Basingstoke.
Q: What motivates you – what’s the atmosphere like? A: You have a good laugh don’t you? I quite like the Duke of Edinburgh people actually because
I’m so used to them. I feel that’s my strength in a way because I naturally know how to talk to them. I don’t always think the other people on a camp know how to pitch it.
Q: Is that from your background? A: Because I’m a teacher and having two boys of my own at about that age – and their friends. I want them both to come along but they won’t come because “it’s mum”. They’d really love it – they’d love doing the big bonfires and they’re immensely strong, both of them and fit. It’s such a waste that they won’t come but I don’t think I can persuade them – it’s really sad.
Q: Is it mainly canal camps that you’ve done or weekends? A: Oh [remembering] I did the National and [weekend] digs, yes, I’ve done those. The Somerset Coal Canal – I’ve done that a few times – they haven’t got a week long dig on the Somerset Coal Canal. Q: Which regional group do you go out with? A: Ooh - I go out with all of them – apart from the north. I don’t go up to the north, there’s a cut off point, the highest “I did lots of brick-cleaning” I’ve been is when we did the National at Burton on Trent. I was thinking about going further north but then I can’t face it. When you live right down on the Jurassic Coast it’s a long way. I quite like the idea of seeing something through like with Eisey, we saw it come to completion, that was so brilliant. We did the National, I did the full week and Iain [Valerie’s partner] did the weekends either end. I quite liked that although it was an awful lot of just moving fences which got a bit tedious. I like the fact that you’re with all those people - that’s really great - I got to know Maria and Moose a bit more on that one. I like the bit where you’re doing the [publicity] stand and you’re interacting with the public – I could have done more of that. That’s something we ought to do more of. Today when I walked along the canal there was nothing about WRG anywhere, they had some information boards up, they should have had a bit saying “hey would you like to help get the canals sorted out?” I often feel that they don’t quite do their joined up thinking there. Q: What kind of jobs are your forte? A: I do a lot of fetching stuff to the fire and pulling out the brambles. The things that nobody else wants to do. Somebody’s chopped all the stuff down and someone has to take it to the fire and sometimes it’s a long way and they don’t particularly want to – it’s not very glamorous. Someone has to do the non-glamorous stuff. I’m quite happy to do that. I’ve got no responsibilities – it’s great. I like writing about it afterwards as well, I find it quite easy. Sometimes when they say “oooh [nervously] – who’s going to write the camp report?” I think - I’m quite happy to do the camp report if I do it straight away otherwise you forget. The thing I’m not very good at is remembering how many feet or metres or the cubic blah-de-blah – technical details. RAF Martin would tell you how many feet or inches and I’d just tell you who did what and what was funny and how many dogs there were.
Q: What do you think of Navvies as a magazine?
A: It’s very good – I made a point of reading Navvies before I came away on a canal camp because I could then work out what the deal was and what likely people there were going to be. Before I came I thought there’d be a load of beardy people but actually although some of them have got beards I don’t hold that against them!! In fact I like beards. I think I’ve met some of the nicest people - Rob Brotherston is like a saint really – he’s just such a nice person and he just puts up with everybody in a really wonderful way.
Q: What are your aspirations over the next couple of years? A: Just carry on and support Iain because he’s going to be a leader or assistant I think. Just do the pastoral side of it – I don’t want to do the engineering, technical, stand around talking about form works and all that business – whatever the heck form works are. I’m happy for someone to say “lift that barge, tote that bale”.
Q: Is there anything you’re really proud Martin Ludgate
of so far? – you’ve been digging less time than I’ve been doing these interviews so it’s a different perspective. A: I am proud of it – I like telling people about it, I tell all the kids at school about it, Achievement: boats cruise the restored Droitwich other teachers. I think that’s a good thing to do is to try and get other people involved. When I’m on Facebook I put the pictures up and say what a wonderful time I’ve had. Some of my friends are already thinking about doing it but they’re a bit afraid to for some reason. One of the things I liked about it was when you first come on a camp, especially if you come on your on your own, you find out who you actually are because you’re not defined. You’re not a mother, you’re not a teacher, you’re not someone’s sister or girlfriend. You literally find out who you are and that’s a weird feeling. Maybe people that have been doing it for years don’t remember that that was one of the things that was special.
Q: What are WRG’s greatest achievements? A: I like to think of Martin Ludgate when he says about how he started working on the Droitwich and now he’s able to cruise down that canal – that is so incredible.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: Everybody really in their different ways. I always think of Rob [Brotherston] and RAF Martin as being the biggest inspirations because, in their own ways, they are what WRG is all about- they’re both such hard workers, they lead by example and they take it so seriously.
Q: Cooking – what’s your impression of it? A: I think they do a brilliant, brilliant job. I think it’s everything you want from a holiday because you can eat cheaper on a canal camp than you can eat at home. The standard of food is amazing, Maria, Mandy and Sophie are such amazing cooks.
Q: What’s your favourite derelict canal? A: I think it’s probably Inglesham – and all round Ingesham and Eisey and round there. That’s going
to be so amazing when that’s done – you can see it, it’s almost tantalising that it’s so close to being done. That’s going to be huge when the Thames and the Severn are linked up – it’s got very exciting with the fact that Stroud [council] put a lot of money in at that end. And the fact that the first lock I worked on was Eisey. It’s a very special part of the world. Martin Ludgate
Q: What’s the most useful skill you learnt and who taught it to you? Over Extension on the H&G: “Exciting to see a huge length done” A: I have almost learnt how to do bricks I wouldn’t be trusted to do the front facing but I like back filling and I think I do it quite well. I like taking the bad bricks out as well and getting the roots out – it’s a bit like dentistry. Q: Has anything changed about canal restoration in the three years you’ve been doing it? A: Since CRT came in, people are obviously anxious about how that going to affect [things] – and the recession – everybody’s worried about how much money there’s going to be to do all this stuff. It is very exciting, the Stroud end, about how much difference putting money in makes. I’ve seen that – I’ve seen lots of things take off - that H&G stuff, the fact that they put all that length in [the work done on the Easter camp 2012]. Are they going to go on? It’s exciting to see a huge length like that done.
Where do you see WRG’s future? A: I hope it carries on, I wouldn’t want it to change too much because it’s lovely the way it is. It’s very different to the National Trust because it lets people “do” – they’ll let you chop the rhododendrons back a bit but they won’t let you take them out so you know they’re going to grow back.
Favourite site: Inglesham awaits the return of the WRGies
Do you have any classic “do you remember the time” when stories? A: There have been so many funny times and we’ve laughed so much. There’s a great range of people that you wouldn’t meet any other way from all different walks of life, from all over the UK. Interviews by Helen Gardner
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun Jun Jun Jun
22/23 22 Sat 22 Sat 22 Sat
London WRG Cotswold Canals: Ham Mill Lock wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection IWA Lee & Stort River Lee at Ware: clearing veg, litter pick before Ware River Festival Ju IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, iwa.co.uk Jun 27 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Himalayan Balsam pulling. 10am-3pm Meet at Consall L Jun 29-Jul 6 Camp 201305 Lichfield Canal: Machine operation, block laying. Jun 29-Jul 6 Camp 201306 Wey & Arun Canal: Run by NWPG. Building footpath and viewing area by Jul 5-11 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend Fri-Thu. Bed & bank lining. Jul 6/7 wrgNW Hollinwood Canal Jul 6-13 Camp 201307 Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstone Lane Bridge. Bricklaying, coping sto Jul 6-13 Camp 201308 Wendover Arm: Run by KESCRG. Bricklaying & footpath at Whitehouse Jul 11 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Himalayan Balsam pulling. 10am-3pm Meet by Froghall Jul 12 Fri IWA W Riding Leeds & Liverpool Canal: Milepost painting & litter pick in Leeds. 6pm-9 Jul 13/14 London WRG Cotswold Canals: Ham Mill Lock. Jul 13-24 Camp 201309 National Festival Camp: Cassiobury Park, Watford Jul 18 Thu IWA Warks Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat firstname.lastname@example.org Jul 20/21 wrgBITM To be arranged Jul 20 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat email@example.com Jul 20 Sat IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance at Church Jul 24 Wed IWA Chiltern Grand Union Canal: Himalayan Balsam pulling in sideponds at Lock 44 Jul 27 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, li Jul 27-Aug 3 Camp 201310 Basingstoke Canal: Various works in the Deepcut area Jul 27-Aug 3 Camp 201311 Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Bank protection, towpath construction Aug 1 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Himalayan Balsam pulling. 10am-3pm Meet at Basford B Aug 3/4 KESCRG Wendover Arm: Accom at Ivinghoe Aston. Continuing from summer ca Aug 3/4 London WRG Wey & Arun Canal Aug 3 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Aug 3-11 WAT Wendover Arm: Nine-day week Sat-Sun. Bed & bank lining. Aug 3-10 Camp 201312 Cotswold Canals: Bricklaying at Ham Mill & Bowbridge Locks. Aug 3-10 Camp 201313 Cromford Canal: Stone walling and other heritage techniques. Aug 9 Fri IWA W Riding Leeds & Liverpool Canal: Milepost painting & litter pick in Leeds. 6pm-9 Aug 10-17 Camp 201314 Cotswold Canals: Bricklaying at Ham Mill & Bowbridge Locks. Aug 10-17 Camp 201315 Cromford Canal: Stone walling and other heritage techniques. Aug 11 Sun IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Himalayan Balsam pulling. 10am-3pm Meet at Consall L Aug 15 Thu IWA Warks Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat Aug 17 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201305' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, firstname.lastname@example.org. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, email@example.com
Tim Lewis David McCarthy uly 5-7. 10am-4pm Les Hunt litter pick Ian Price
07802-518094 01706-211377 07971-444258
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com chairman@firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
th work. 10am-3pm Brian Bayston
07710-054848 01494-783453 01494-783453 01442-874536 01706-211377 01494-783453 01494-783453 07710-054848 07980-953880 07802-518094 01494-783453 01926-831508
Dave Wedd th work. 10am-4pm Brian Bayston
Lawton 10am-4pm Bob Luscombe , Marsworth John Brice tter pick 10am-4pm Ian Price
07710-054848 07740-733241 07971-444258 01494-783453 01494-783453 07710-054848 07971-814986 07802-518094 01706-211377 01442-874536 01494-783453 01494-783453 07980-953880 01494-783453 01494-783453 07710-054848 01926-831508 01926-831508
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
y Cranleigh Waters. Roger Leishman David McCarthy
ones, landscaping. es, plus block laying on lining. Tunnel Bob Luscombe 9pm (eve) Elaine Scott Tim Lewis
n, and veg clearance Bridge, Cheddleton Bob Luscombe amp. Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis David McCarthy Roger Leishman
Lime Kilns Bob Luscombe th work. 10am-3pm Brian Bayston th work. 10am-4pm Brian Bayston
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties
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 end of Friar St. Reading. Phil Dray 07956 185305
Every Tuesday BCA Basingstoke Canal Chris Healy 01252-370073 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 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 / Vineyard Hill Ted Beagles 01452 522648 Thursdays H&GCT Herefordshire Wilf Jones 01452 413888 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 Thu and Tue April-September SORT Sussex Ouse Ted Lintott 01444-414413 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 Please send any additions corrections or deletions to diary compiler Dave Wedd (see previous page)
Abbreviations used in Diary: BCA BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT KESCRG
Basingstoke Canal Authority Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Chichester Ship Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group
LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SORT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
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 Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
Dear Martin Oh dear! I had no intention of hoisting Cliff Penny onto a very high horse, or even particularly to demean the Hereford and Gloucester, of which I know very little having never visited in the past, and having no opportunity to do so now. So far as I can remember none of the good things Mr Penny regales us with have ever been in Navvies before, but I may well be wrong about that as well. Unfortunately getting on a high horse tends to make one say or write silly things, and although I may be arrogant sometimes, knowing what Graham Palmer wanted in restoration terms has nothing to do with arrogance, but simply that for a long time we were close friends, and that is what he told me! May I direct attention back to what I actually wrote; and that is to point out that all involvement has to be revisited as a basic management tool, and that the objectives of the H&G must be different from those of WRG who try to operate on a national level, and presumably still try to coordinate efforts over the country (even though the co-ordination thing no longer forms part of the masthead on the magazine). Mr Penny does point out the nub of the case for restoration not only on the H&G but everywhere, in that it produces a few jobs in the short term even when it is mostly voluntary labour, and more and more permanent jobs in the long term; and we need those jobs always. Part of the ability to restore is to be trusted, and WRG having promised maximum effort at Over, it had to be completed. So keep looking forward – build on our heritage. This old git will not be able to do much as I have too many responsibilities elsewhere. But let me leave you with a question. Where is the water coming from? Mr Penny did not mention water supply in his long letter, and I cannot remember it being mentioned in Navvies for many a long year. Hereford in the west may well be flowing with milk and water, but do we know about the demands of an operating canal there? Other waterways failed inter alia because of lack of it. Unfortunately the usual stopgap is to pump back, but that is hardly “sustainable”. Thanks for the nicely balanced editorial, Martin, but above all voluntary work has to be FUN, or no-one will turn up. Some will want more as well and thank goodness for that or Martin and I and Graham and all the others would not have made WRG (and more local societies) what they are. But FUN is the word. Best wishes Mike Day I too (and, I’m sure, many of our readers) would be genuinely interested to hear about what plans and provi-
Letters sions the various canal societies have made and are making when it comes to supplying their canals with water reliably especially those that struggled in the past. The Editor Dear Martin Two very different responses to my letter in Navvies 258.... The first from Derrick Hunt of the Somersetshire Coal Canal. Derrick gently explained the great variety of complex negotiations that are required before a work party organiser even sets foot on site. As someone whose volunteering has been very much ‘hands on’, I’d not appreciated exactly how drawn out and delicate these can sometimes be: the saying about ‘gently’ being the way to catch monkeys comes to mind! I must say my question about structure dimensions was not top-ofhead, quite a few volunteers thought the locks looked unusually narrow - these are the first chambers that I have been unable to lie across fully stretched out. I read up on the lock flight later and came across similar info online... but then again, a heritage project I’m involved with nearer home is up against similar inaccuracies which are so widely spread they are regarded by many as fact. Cliff Penny’s response however, was in a different league. I could easily fill an entire letters page by challenging the many points that have been misquoted or taken out of context, but will try to limit myself to just a few. As someone who is ‘on the spectrum’, I’m often told I go too far in making my point, but publicly belittling, demolishing the very people who have given time to the cause, might not be the best approach. The irony of a trustee of an organisation which depends heavily on goodwill and voluntary input failing to understand the things that motivate people to volunteer is not lost on me! For the benefit of those who had not seen my original letter, I did not “strongly insinuate” that WRG FT shared my views, and at no point did I use the words “waste of time”. Referring to the “badly informed local” who “wound me up”, the ‘local’ in question was not the village nutter watching on whilst nay-saying our efforts, but a person chosen to oversee work on a section we were working on. Perhaps Mr. Penny, as a Trustee and Director of H&GCT, should ensure that his work party organisers (as ambassadors to the project) are properly briefed? I’m intrigued to Mr. Penny’s statement that the canal was untouched for over a century - how else could those well decayed, neat piles of logs,
judging by kerf width obviously cut with a chainsaw, have appeared along the section we cleared? Ditto, the piles of stacked brush... As Mr. Penny has so rightly pointed out, credibility takes a long time to establish yet it can be destroyed in moments... clearly not the logic that was applied in arranging what is easily the most inadequate volunteer accommodation I’ve yet to see for a Bonfire Bash in ten years of digging. As a WRGie I do not expect a palace, but a night sleeping on the ONLY available floor space which happened to be in a shower, waking up to find a puddle has appeared with the overnight pressure rise, is taking the piss. WRG directors assure me that this was not the accommodation they had been led to expect, and since Mr Penny frequently quotes the notable basin in his response, I will remark that regular WRGies commented the last-minute let-down was “just like Over”. Happily, my quandary is at least partially resolved: As I so often say of WRG, it’s the personalities involved that make it work so well. Which is why I’ll probably be returning to the Somerset Coal Canal, but will be avoiding anything to do with Mr. Penny, certainly until such time that he adds some interpersonal skills to his long list of professional qualifications. Regards Phil Scott Dear Martin I feel well qualified to comment on the H&G restoration because many years ago I, too, became the subject of Cliff Penny’s ire. I made some perfectly innocent comments in a camp report which, apparently, Cliff didn’t like. But there are far more important issues at stake than Cliff Penny’s feelings. It is absolutely outrageous for him to suggest that the Navvies editor should apply any form of censorship to any of the correspondence in the magazine. If he has been using the same methods in his own magazine as he suggests should be adopted by our editor, I’m surprised anyone bothers to write to him. The original letter writer has every right to express an opinion, no matter how wrong (in Cliff ’s view) that might be. It is not for him to go searching round web sites before he posts his letter. In any case, does the H&G site actually give any views of the restoration other than those of the ‘management’? Given the tone of Cliff Penny’s letter I presume he exercises the same amount of censorship on his web site as he does to his magazine. Our correspondent certainly wouldn’t get any un-biased views from those two sources! If he really wants to change the opinions of the volunteers working on his restoration he
should spend more time on site explaining to them what the Trust is trying to do. It would appear that not all the ‘locals’ share Cliff ’s rose-tinted view of the H&G and perhaps he needs to ask his own team for their opinions. But perhaps they are all too brow-beaten to be able to speak the ‘truth’ as they see it, rather that the ‘truth’ as seen by Cliff. Incidentally, I too am part of a trust trying to restore a long abandoned navigation. Like Martin I started on a WRG camp, not because I thought the waterway concerned was of historical importance but because it was in Cornwall and a cheap week by the seaside sounded pretty good! The local pub practised ‘lock-ins’ so it all worked out quite nicely. From that small start I eventually ended up on the River Gipping. Yes, it would be great if we could restore the whole length but that won’t happen in my lifetime and I’m realistic enough to accept that as reality. But we do what we can. What we can boast of is the fact that our Canal Camps were voted best in the UK and that camp leaders fight to be on our camps. That doesn’t mean we delude ourselves into believing we must therefore have the most important waterway restoration task in the whole country. Far more important are the local team and how they interact with the camp team. Next in order of importance are the quality of the beer, the friendliness of the landlord and the accommodation. A long way down the list is the historic importance of the waterway. Finally, I must sign myself as simply... Spencer Greystrong (I wish I had all those letters after my name but clearly I didn’t work hard enough at school) Dear Martin Firstly I would like to thank Jenny, your good self and anyone else who had a hand in getting copies of all the old Navvies on line for everyone to reminisce over! I have been enjoying catching up on things and have also noticed how long certain people have been enjoying the “WRG experience”! I was also wondering if you could update us all on how the plans are progressing for the introduction of the “Autopalmer mark 1 Robot Navvy, with built-in 3 inch pump and optional grease-gun attachment”? Which according to the prediction in “Navvies 150” is due to be released in 2014. Will it be available for the camp season and will it fit in the kit trailers? I look forward to you response in due course. Keep up the good work. Nigel Lee (London WRG and WRG FT)
Beginning this time with the Gipping in Suffolk, where the locals are building a replica of the Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge... Newsletter Report
Progress River Gipping April when we would be carrying out the reprofiling, removing some stubborn stumps and preparing to lay the foundations for the new bridge abutments and weir base. The new bridge has been designed by one of our members, Colin Turner, based on the Mathematical Bridge at Cambridge. We will be constructing the bridge from locally sourced oak at White House Farm Glemham, later this year. Once the bywash is functioning, we will then be able to use it to carry the river stream around the lock while we carry out the repairs needed to the flank wall In the meantime we have been waiting for water levels to settle so that we can install the new sluice gates at Baylham Mill. The wet winter has kept water levels up and we have therefore decided to wait until late Spring when the conditions should be better, and the heavy work at Pipps Ford should have been completed. Martin Bird
Since our last article in Navvies we have obtained approval from the Environment Agency to progress our plans to open up the old river course and bywash at Pipps Ford Lock, Needham Market. The lock chamber itself was rebuilt in the late 20th Century and was generally reconstructed close to the original lock specification, so little work is required to the chamber itself, though one of the rebuilt flank walls at the neck of the lock has suffered from settlement, with cracks appearing in the wall. Some of the coping slopes have rotated backwards. Our current project will see the old bywash, which follows the original river course, reinstated . The work will involve reprofiling the channel, which has suffered some infilling over the years, rebuilding a timber bridge over the channel, and the removal of a modern causeway built to facilitate the lock re-build. Later we will be seeking approval to replace the original weir, the remains of which can still be traced in the abandoned channel. This winter our workparties have concentrated on removing the trees that had grown on the old bridge abutments and carefully removing as much of the old brickwork as possible, for reuse. We have been planning a week of concerted Dealing with stubborn stumps at Pipps Ford action in late
Progress Lichfield & Hatherton Lichfield & Hatherton Canals With the publication of maps and details of the next stage of the HS2 high speed railway line, which will run to Manchester and Leeds, local interest and expressions of concern have increased considerably. Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust has been involved with consultations with HS2 in this wider context as well as with their engineers concerning the crossing at Huddlesford. If the designers stick to the currently published plans then the new line will cross at least 30 metres above water level causing us few engineering concerns. However other mooted possibilities are a tunnel and a crossing virtually at current water level. The former would probably benefit the canal environment but the latter must be resisted at all costs. We are still awaiting the Inspector’s verdict on the planning application from the travellers who have purchased a portion of land south of Barracks Lane and adjacent to M6 Toll on the Ogley Flight. The owners have already cleared the land including the embankment of the canal ahead of occupying it for residential purposes. The planning application went to appeal after rejection by Lichfield District Council and a decision was expected some months ago. The delay is apparently the result of policy discussion at the national level. We have decided to establish a heritage trail following the whole Lichfield Canal line from Huddlesford to Ogley which will open it up to public access and raise awareness of the restoration scheme. We do not control all the track and so agreements with landowners and deviations onto
Meanwhile on the Lichfield they’re negotiating land ownership and preparing to deal with the HS2 high speed railway alternative footways will be required. There will be signage and interpretation boards. This has been done on other restoration schemes as a “pump-priming” exercise. On the Hatherton we have added to our land ownership portfolio at minimum cost. We have bought a section of land south of A5 near the M6 Toll Plaza from the County Council. East of Churchbridge we have bought a length of track behind Finning Cat which currently carries the water of the Wash Brook. This land was sold to us by Cannock Chase District Council. Brian Kingshott Lichfield isn’t the only restoration affected by HS2 plans - see editorial and map below. ...Ed
HS2 high speed rail plans and canal restoration
On the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal, work gets back under way on re-lining the channel after an enforced three month break Wendover Arm
Progress Wendover Arm the damage the tree roots were causing to the water control structures that allow water down into Wilstone Reservoir and it was also directly over the site of a new chamber CRT need to build as part of their new water control system. Herts County Council former tip at Bridge 4A: The WRG Forestry Team was unable to deal with felling the three trees on this site in March but will be returning in April or May to complete the job. When we consulted a timber merchant about selling the timber from the felled trees, we were told that a large dunny (builder’s) sack of logs would sell for £100. In the event it has been found that this is too much so we are asking for a donation to Trust funds from any takers. We have already sold one bag of cherry wood to a wood turning enthusiast for a £60 donation. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director 01442 874536 firstname.lastname@example.org
March Working Party: During March it was encouraging to get the re-lining of the canal on the move again after activities were curtailed by the wet conditions in winter. 20 metres of both banks were profiled ready for lining, both banks lined with Bentomat and the blocking and coir rolls laid. April Working Party: A further 20 metres of both banks were profiled and the spoil used to cover the top of the banks and Bentomat lining on the bed of the canal for the previous 20 metres. This included a concrete ‘sleeping policeman’ that is laid across the joints of the 20 metre lengths of Bentomat used along the bed of the canal. This not only protects the overlap joint of Bentomat against damage from future overdredging but acts as a strut between the bases of the concrete blocks along the two canal banks. The process of profiling ahead of lining and using the spoil to cover the previous length of lining is very economic as it avoids double handling of spoil and can be achieved using one tracked dumper instead of two. Thanks to a dry week, apart from overnight rain before the last day, the towpath bank was lined, blocked and the coir rolls laid for another 20 metres. Whitehouses: On the 9th March the WRG Forestry Team spent the day felling the prunus tree at Whitehouses. A sad event but CRT were Channel lining under way again after three lost months very concerned over
navigation served a paper mill at Isfield Lock, for which there was a wharf wall at the top of the lock. The mill was demolished around 1860. Like everything else this wharf wall needs extensive restoration so we started some exploratory excavations. The wharf wall is about 12 metres long and two probable culverts have been found. We think one served the mill but at some point it has had its circular opening brickedSussex Ouse Restoration Trust up. The other, with a rectangular opening, We had been spoiled by having had a dry seems to have had a wooden lining and may winter the year before so this (very) wet have served a hydraulic ram which pumped winter meant we could not get that much water up to Sutton Hall from the late 1800s. done. However, our hardy band of navvies Digging and historical research continues! still turned up to enjoy the wet and the mud 2013: This year will see us mainly at during the non-working season! Isfield Lock restoring the wharf wall and the Good work has also been done away area in front of the top cill – repairing the from the mud in developing our relationships immediate approach to the cill and installing with EA, MORPH (Middle Ouse Restoration of the necessary grooves, base, etc for the stopPhysical Habitat) and the National Trust. planks. We need to do this because we are MORPH is aiming to restore a number of ox- hopeful that in 2014 MORPH will reinstate an bow lakes and discussions with them are ox-bow just up from the lock which will developing mutually acceptable ways forward mean the cut will be dug out and flooded, in in respect of Isfield Lock and Iron Gate Lock in which case we’ll need to have the stop-planks the NT’s Sheffield Park. But back to the mud… in place to allow us to keep working on the Iron Gate Lock: We’ve only been able rest of the lock. to make a couple of site visits but important We will, of course, keep our eyes on first steps were agreed between SORT and Iron Gate Lock and provide assistance and Andy Jesson, Sheffield Park’s head gardener. expertise to the NT when required. Summer 2013 will probably be for making the If there’s time in 2013 we’ll continue lock chamber dry and accessible by digging an with rebuilding the last section of the Isfield access ramp and using the dug-out clay to Lock chamber’s west wall and rebuilding / form bunds at both ends of the cut. Roy restoring the ground paddles. Sutton has drawn the plan and, hopefully, David Evans the diggers will be in soon. The other visit was just before Christmas, perhaps during the wettest period of all. As you’ll see from the before and after photos, the lock was hardly visible again. In February 2012 it was because there just wasn’t much to see. On 21 December, even if the lock had been nearly rebuilt, it would still have been under water! Isfield (Sutton Hall) Lock We got there most weeks. One important completed job was clearing out the west side ground paddle culvert. A mucky, difficult job but someone had to do it and Dan and Ken wouldn’t let anyone else get near, lucky for the rest of us. They seemed to enjoy it. Takes all sorts! The ground paddle at Isfield Lock Between 1809 and 1855 the
And finally, at the end of a long rebuilding programme, Hazel, the last Runcorn wooden header narrow boat, returns to the water with a splash...
Wooden Canal Boat Society
On May 3rd the Wooden Canal Boat Society successfully launched the Hazel, built in 1913 and ths last remaining Runcorn wooden headerboat, into the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, almost two years after being dragged out on 8 July 211 for a complete rebuild. After fitting a new bottom, the rest of the boat was carefully measured up and dismantled, then put back together with new wood. At the launching ceremony, the ceremonial bottle of beer was smashed by Colin Scrivener, who lived aboard Hazel in the 1960s. There is still a lot to be done in fitting the boat out (volunteer plumbers, electricians and Gas Safe engineers particularly in demand) for her new role as a wellbeing boat. Funding is still a problem as the project is still about ÂŁ15,000 short. Anyone wishing to help can contact Wooden Canal Boat Society, email email@example.com or phone 07931 952 037. The pictures show the pull-out, rebuilding in progress, and the re-launch.
Camp report Lancaster Canal Easter Lancaster Canal Camp: a newbie tells the story...
Reporting from a week of Sandbagging and dry stone walling at Easter on the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal hard work the small digger, expertly handled by John our MUP (Most Useful Person), made the work we had done look like peanuts as it shovelled large amounts of gravel to build the banks which give access for walkers and control the course of the river. My knowledge of river ecology came into use when I suggested keeping a large piece of wood in the river flow on a bend of the river, secured by some scoops of gravel. Wood in water enhances the river by providing shelter for fish and insects and its slow decay provides food for bacteria and insects when they break it down. On Sunday we mixed dry cement to go into the degradable white bags to support the aqueduct. The previous day Richard of the local Canal Trust had told me what needed doing, so I suddenly found myself in charge of this project! That was rather fan-
I was quite apprehensive on the way to Sedgwick, Lancashire. Will there be anything I can contribute? I have not done much manual labour and I’m not the fittest person. What if everybody has done many camps already? I had booked the camp because the thought of a week in the fresh air, contributing something to a worthwhile cause seemed appealing - and then two weeks before the camp, the winter started all over again. It was freezing cold and it snowed in many places. I was convinced the camp would be cancelled as surely they wouldn’t set us to work in such horrible conditions, would they? I needn’t have worried. As it turned out I could do a great deal and as the week progressed I became stronger as my muscles grew accustomed to the hard work. Even the weather wasn’t so bad. Although it was cold, the sun shone most of the time - and particularly at our break times, it seemed. So, I spent a very enjoyable week with a great bunch of people! And after about two days I even got used to wearing a hard hat all the time, I couldn’t often tell whether I had it on or not, it felt the same. What did we do? Well, in the brochure it said something about vegetation clearing (which we didn’t do) and using diggers (which we did!). The first job was to safeguard the aqueduct which carries the canal over Stainton Beck. The river had been eroding parts of the footings of the aqueduct. So to prevent it from further damage, on Saturday we filled and laid sandbags to divert the stream while we reconstructed the course of the streambed. We used shovels to move some of the gravel and bigger stones from the riverAndy Pandy, Debbie and Tim and dry stone wall bed to the bank. After a few hours
Lancaster Canal Trust
tastic! Me the newbie! Anyway, Handy Andy (we had four Andy’s in our team of 16 people, so they all got nicknames) donned the only waders that were actually waterproof over his ‘bikini’ and put the bags in place. First on top of the weir, where the water level had dropped considerably behind the sandbags, then the more difficult job of fitting the heavy cement bags under the aqueduct had to be done. I had decided to only fill The transition wall nearing completion those bags half so that they would be easier to handle. But Handy Andy had no (who turned out to be an excellent van problems with it and asked for a few full driver), Alan and John worked on this. First bags to finish the job. He was able to hoist the rotten wooden housing for the steel the bags on his shoulder and easily put them groove was painstakingly removed and then in place. new formwork and shuttering was conThen we were left with a gap in the structed to keep the new concrete in place. wall of the aqueduct where the water raced The concrete was poured down and the first through, undermining the structure. So, we one held well. Unfortunately halfway down decided to put gravel and bigger stones on the second one, the formwork broke and the top of the weir so that this hole will be everything had to be removed, the formwork filled gradually by the silt and stones. Dave, was repaired and concrete re-poured. Within he with the most comfortable bed ;-) was the no time whatsoever Ally, Alan and John were digger driver today and he expertly dug up finishing the job and when the Acrows were some stones from the riverbed below the removed the next day two near perfect weir, including one massive stone that hope- moulds for the stop planks were revealed. fully will stay in place for years to come. Job well done! When we removed the sandbags formThen on Monday we started the biggest ing the dam the next day most of that corner job of all... dry stone walling. This was not of the weir stayed dry, giving it time to a normal wall, but part of the canal banks, a gradually bed down. Getting the sandbags transition wall. Under the bridge there is a out and back to base was incidentally the wing wall on each side of the canal made of hardest job we did all week, the water had cut stones which then becomes a transition made the bags nearly twice as heavy as Andy wall of dry stones before reverting to a natuPandy (our youngest team member at 19) ral bank. commented. In the end we got one of the We were eager to start, so didn’t wait vans close to the river to carry them back, for the expert Brian Jones to arrive from the even a wheelbarrow with just three bags was Dry Stone Wall Association, based locally. We mighty heavy! were already three rows up on the towpath Obviously other jobs were done in the side, when he basically told us to start over. meantime including the reconstruction of the He instructed the other bank to be dug out ‘stop plank grooves under the bridge. Ally deeper so that bigger stones could be used
for the foundation. Andy Pandy and Tim (MRP=Most Reliable Person) did most of the work on one side of the canal, assisted on various days by Susan (who came down from Dundee on no less than 6 different buses!), Debbie (a civil engineer who put her experience to good use when some surveying had to be done) and me. It was great to see how Andy Pandy grew from a rather timid young man to our gang leader, we even started calling him ‘Brian’ as he had grasped the skill quickly and there were too many Andy’s anyway! For future reference Andy Pandy, Tim, Debbie and I have put together a handy guide for dry stone walling, just in case it can used somewhere else: see below. When I started building the dry stone walls, I just pointed at a big stone and asked somebody in the neighbourhood to hand it to me, but as the week progressed I started picking up bigger and bigger stones which was great. Laying down a whole line of stones one after the other was very satisfying, but a lot of time was actually spent finding the right stone for a spot and throwing back stones that didn’t fit. When, after a lot of effort, the walls were finally finished on Friday it was great to see the result of the
work we had put in. When the water returns to the canal we will know whether we did a good job or not ;-) In the real Brian’s words: Please pass on to the gang my admiration of their hard work and aptitude. A versatile bunch of enthusiasts. I expect/hope the banks stay in place and will monitor them on my walks along the towpath. Also, dry stone walling is a great way of getting perfect finger nails, with two pairs of gloves on your nails are protected, I never had longer nails than after this week! Sarah was also able to demonstrate her expertise in French Drains, as she supervised laying a drain to reduce the water pressure behind the wall on the non-towpath side. This could damage our newly built wall before the canal is filled with water. In the meantime, Jonathan (Halifax) played around with his big digger, moving soil and stones where they needed to be. After a team had levered the copers into position his digger helped perfect the exact positioning of the coping stones with such accuracy it was astonishing. I bet he can make cake mix with that digger! Most people who wanted also had a first training session on the little digger with Paul. I found it
The Lancashire Easter Canal Camp Guide to dry stone walling 1 Get the base right! So don’t do as we did by just starting, wait for the expert, otherwise you are wasting your effort. Put big stones at the bottom and when walling a canal make sure the next row is set back a bit to follow the shape of the bank. 2 The leaning of a dry stone wall is called the “batter”, it always narrows as it gets higher. Our walls were to follow the profile of the bank, so its batter was quite pronounced. 3 The stones need to be securely put in place, “every one must be touching and every one must be held,” packed from behind with small stones or by “pinning” at the front (squeezing in small pieces of stone). 4 When you put the next row on, make sure that the seams are covered like a bricklayer does. 5 Sometimes you will have to hammer a stone in place or you need to “nibble off ” a bit of a stone to fit. But, whatever you do, do not dress a stone on the wall as you might destroy your work so far. (Sometimes we successfully ignored this rule!) 6 When you are going up, row after row, it is important to maintain the “Standard Cambrian Level” (keep it straight and level) and keep it is all securely in place by the “Inverted Infill” method (backfilling behind the facing stones with smaller stones of decreasing size.) Don’t just tip them in, place every stone one by one. 7 When you reach the top of the wall, level with the towpath, for instance, backfill with soil around some bigger stones and finish it all off with a good dressing of soil. Vegetation will be encouraged to cover it quickly and keep it all in place for years to come.* * Disclaimer: Brian Jones cannot be held accountable for the correctness of this construction method, nor for some of the terminology. Although you will build a half decent wall *modest smile* #instantexperts.
remarkable how sensitive (female?) the levers were. The week after I returned the water company came to install a water meter at my house and they used a little digger too, I was tempted to say: “move over boy, I will dig that hole!” But, I need a bit more training for that I guess ;-) Lynda kept busy by supplying the wallers with the necessary pinning stones. Bucket loads of small and medium stones were supplied, Brian was kind enough to show us around on the dry stone walling which she picked up demonstration area nearby including one of the most astonishing types from the canal bank of dry stone walling I found on my detour back home through the sitting on her picnic Lake District. The picture is of slate on edge, and yes it really is a dry rug. Even a request stone wall! for flat wedge-like stones didn’t faze her, she came up with the goods. Leader Paul your lap while the driver tries to keep the and assistant leader Sarah kept us all straight van level at all times is not to be sniffed at! and made sure we took breaks on time, but not too long. During some of these breaks On our evening free-time we did varisuddenly an alarm would go off, which ous things, like pub quizzes, eating fish and turned out to be the ringtone on Candy chips in Morecambe followed by a film or Andy’s phone. He was so called because he bowling, a film projected on the wall always carries a bag of sweet around, which (Django Unchained, with lots of unnecessary kept everybody in good spirits. Paul really violence but a good parody on a western) likes being in charge and he managed to get and we played games on other nights. We us to finish the jobs we were intended to do, got to know each other fairly well and had a and more. Sarah has a great sense of hulot of fun. Sarah had said at the start that mour as she feigned attraction to lovely there were a few spare bodies, but everyAlan, developing a fun filled “relationship”. I body made it to the finish where we were somehow got drawn into it, to much amuse- rewarded by our leaders with a Kinder egg ment of the others (steamy windows . . . .) (finally a hint of Easter) and a small rock with a “Rocky” bar tied to it with string, After a hard days job, from getting up which I will treasure forever as a fitting early and finishing around 5 o’clock we were souvenir of this wonderful camp. always more than ready for what the last Monique Speksnyder Andy – Randy Andy (don’t ask me why!) – (with help for all the technical terms our cook would produce. Always very tasty plus edits from Debbie and Tim) and plentiful and he was particularly crafty at making leftovers into a tasty soup the next Leader’s comment: As Monique says, we day. One day, I went on the soup run with had a great group, great weather and interSarah, back only a few miles to our base. esting jobs to do. I’d just like to add my Now, this experience had been on my list of thanks to everyone – especially Sarah, my ‘things to do before I die’ for a long time. assistant and ‘Randy’ Andy, our cook. Sitting in a van with a hot pan of soup on Paul Shaw
Cleanup report Not quite the BCN... “BCN” Cleanup 2013
to drink as much as we could before London WRG arrived. Well, we were nearly in bed before London WRG arrived! The usual to-ing and fro-ing of kit carrying campers, friendly greetings of “oh no not you again”, “Oh I thought you’d died” made me realise that they had arrived and the sleep deprivation would start here. It’s great, the Friday night on the Clean up weekend, seeing so many people that you know, but haven’t seen for a twelvemonth, it is always a great social atmosphere. Some discussion took place about... “were we on the BCN or not?” So after some “sleep” and a fab breakfast cooked by Krzysiek we were off to the signing on point, and decisions were made as to which team went where. Moose’s team took the route up the Fens Branch towards Brockmoor, joined by volunteers from IWA and a crew of Army Cadets. My group Headed for the bottom of the Delph Locks. We were indeed in the Black Country, but 99% of our work took place on the Stourbridge Canal (which was never actually part of the BCN), although I can say that my group started Saturday morning on the BCN,
Some say it was on the BCN, aficionados may say “it was and it wasn’t”, so where was it? The weekend started for me on the Friday with a detour to Hawne Basin to meet up with Cleanup regulars Stuart and Jim. I had promised them a cruise on Bogwoppit if and when the Cleanup was in the right area: indeed it was this year, so a cruise was duly arranged. With my son Lewys at the helm the trip didn’t last long, but they still managed to polish off all my stock of Old Speckled Hen! Our next job was to meet the Cleanup leader Aileen Butler at Old Hill Station, we were actually in the Waterfall real ale pub when Aileen called me, so I left, picked up Aileen and took her back to the pub. A swift half later and Aileen was whipping us into shape to find the accommodation. Smaller than previous years, but very interesting from a canal enthusiasts’ point of view, the Blowers Green Pumphouse seemed very adequate for our needs. Our group was smaller than previous years (due to Welsh Alan not coming? Who knows?) The pumphouse is run by the Dudley Canals Trust and is full of interesting Paraphernalia to do with the work of the trust and its achievements. So, by the time we’d been shown around, given the keys etc, it was time to phone the man with the van, yes and what did the van contain, one may ask? BEER is the answer. Straight from the Old Swan Brewery (Ma Pardoe’s) at Netherton, owner and landlord Tim arrived and tapped both ‘ready to drink’ barrels. Glasses were found and the evening started: the plan was
The annual Trolleyfest moves to a new site for 2013 which (shock horror!) isn’t actually on the BCN - and has a new leader for 2014
All pull together...
just above lock 8 of the Delph Flight of the Dudley Canal (Delph Road Bridge being the boundary). It was nice to work on a bit of waterway that actually sees quite regular boat traffic as part of the Black Country Ring; quite a few boats passed us and the crews thanked the volunteers. As the grappling hooks flew,the usual suspects were pulled out: bikes, trolleys, mattresses, vacuum cleaner, microwave ovens, was there a cuddly toy? There may Just to prove that we worked on the actual BCN: Black Delph Locks have been... The most unusual was steel rings about 12 inches in diameter: we had loads of My thanks for the weekend must go them by Brettel Lane. I challenged Krzysiek first to Aileen Butler for the coordination and to a game of horseshoes with a few, he soon months of work it takes to put this all togave up when he saw how good I was!! gether, thank you Aileen from all of us. Also We also ran the gauntlet of local hoodthank you to Maria and fellow volunteers for lums who enjoyed throwing in what we had the food preparation, cooking, shopping etc pulled out - sad isn’t it, the little ****s will that is required to keep us all going for the probably go through life having never known weekend; to the van drivers all who helped; the pleasure of using a grappling hook! and finally to my fellow Zone Leader Moose, Saturday evening was another social, to whose leadership and experience I cannot finish off the beer and cool the aching musfault. cles. An evening meal cooked by Maria was Thanks also go to the local team of enjoyed by all, down one staircase, and back Dean Davies and CRT employees who are up the next! great every year. Thanks also to Dave On Sunday morning both teams headed Pearson, Brenda Ward and the local IWA, down the Sixteen Stourbridge Locks with BCNS and Coomeswood volunteers: it’s Stourbridge Town Wharf being the ultimate always a pleasure working with you guys. destination. The locks were a little disapFinally to all the WRGies, you are a special pointing rubbish wise, but one volunteer group, and it was a pleasure to see you all found a handy windlass in one. The Town for the weekend; see you next year, and Arm itself proved a lot more fruitful: bridge thank you!! holes and indeed the main cut gave up bikes Chris Morgan and large trolleys to the groups of grapplers. The groups were picked up from the During this year’s Cleanup Aileen Butler Wharf to go for lunch, where it was decided announced her retirement after over 10 years to call an early finish due to logistics. One of being the WRG leader and organiser of the group however, led by myself, volunteered to event . Chris Morgan has kindly offered to go to the bottom of the Delph Locks, windstep into her boots for next year’s Cleanup, lass in hand to help work the work boats up and says “I hope I can do half as well as the locks. So as we indeed started, we finAileen!” We will now need a new zone leader ished on the good old BCN. Actually to take his place - if you would like to volunWetherspoons Merry Hill was where we teer, please get in touch with either Chris or finished! myself. ...The Editor
Group report ...from WRG North West WRG North West: a year in the life
A look back at a year which saw WRG NW on the Uttoxeter, Ashton, Hollinwood, Grantham, Lancaster and Lichfield - but what’s that got to do with the price of fish? blizzards, unlike the last visit back in February. Later in the month there was another reason to celebrate when Mike and Liz got married. December saw the group head a bit further north to spend the weekend working on the Lancaster Canal. This weekend was a little different in that on the Saturday some people stayed at the hall for First Aid training; apparently this all went very well thanks to instructor Jason Day. Meanwhile back at the worksite there were a variety of jobs, digging out a channel to allow a greater flow of water through a culvert, and also trying to clear a blockage by using drain rods. A 3600 excavator was building two bunds, one on each side of the culvert in readiness for possible further work to be carried out. A section of towpath was resurfaced and a land drain installed along the boundary fence.
Taking a look back over the last 12 months for North West, this period didn’t get off to a good start because the planned joint Bank Holiday dig with Essex in May 2012 had to be cancelled, largely because of flooding. The month of June was very busy with attendances at Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival, Northwich IWA Rally, Crumpsall Carnival and Chesterfield Canal Festival. The August Bank Holiday was spent at the Preston Guild Festival - a carnival held every 20 years which coincided with the IWA Campaign Rally. The September dig was a joint one with KESCRG working at Lichfield where the site was remarkably like a giant sand-pit, where a big hole was to be dug for two new locks. On to October which saw a good turnout on each day on the Hollinwood Canal, where the task was really like a giant scrub And so on to 2013... bash session. There was also a Canal Cleanup organised by the Manchester IWA; The January dig was on the Cromford Canal this also gave an opportunity to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Ashtac, the 1972 big dig which saw 1000 people working on the then derelict canals of the Cheshire Ring. The beginning of November was spent working on the Grantham Canal and staying at the Cropwell Bishop Memorial Hall; the work was supposed to be another scrub bash, but turned out to be more like a lock clearance. At least this weekend was December’s WRG NW dig on the Lancaster Northern Reaches free of any snow and
– this was also to be the NW Christmas/New decided that we would recover the copers Year meal. The work at Sawmills was (this involved using the Tirfor across a busy mainly tree felling and the clearance of towpath, but kept a cheerful group of people scrub. As soon as the trees were dropped entertained for a while!) and set the copers and logged there were quite a few people at a later stage when a proper base could be collecting the logs. built. Sunday was then spent Tirforing out February saw us once again back on some tree stumps that had been left after a the Hollinwood Canal, but for this occasion it previous visit. Other work over the weekend was on the Droylsden Section. One group saw people clearing the overflow channel armed with chainsaws worked a little further and also around Pinches Bridge in preparaalong the canal; whilst others were kept very tion for work later in the year. busy cutting back a hawthorn hedge which And that brings us back to May, which had started to encroach over the towpath. was a joint Bank Holiday weekend with The collection of logs was moved to the car Essex…… somewhere in this edition there park area to be burnt by people as their should be a full report about the weekend’s “winter fuel allowance!” work. [Oh well, maybe next time ...Ed] For the March dig we were staying in As usual throughout the year the ‘Paper Alton Village Hall, within a shout - or should chases’ have continued, although of late in a that be a scream - of Alton Towers. The slightly different format in that Mr Mac no work on the Uttoxeter Canal was to carry on longer resides in Woodstock and also a with the clearance that had been started on second ‘shock’ was that the charge for fish & the October Canal camp, followed up a chips has now been increased, after many weekend visit from London WRG and KESyears, to the princely sum of £2.00! CRG, then the Christmas camp. The site And finally wrg nw are in urgent access is via a former sand quarry, the way need for help with the logistics of getin is usually blocked by a large pipe that is ting the Sales Stand and stock to typimoved by the contractors, but they were cally three or four events a year. If going to be off site for the weekend and so you can offer some help then please arrangements had been made for the key to contact John Foley or Roger Evans via left for the large telehandler that was to be the nw website: firstname.lastname@example.org driven by Paul. This worked for the SaturReport written by, as Mr Mac once day, but on Sunday the machine refused to described us... start; so plan ‘B’, we set to and moved some The ‘southern division of wrg nw’ large blocks of concrete that also formed New volunteers welcome: see the Diary pages part of the barricade, this enabled us to get through to the worksite. The work was a combination of trying to establish the whereabouts of an old lock and also, to a greater extent, with the aid of three chainsaw operators to cut down some more trees – all part of the ‘partnerships’ programme. The Hollinwood Canal beckoned again for the April dig. The first job was to try and retrieve some coping stones that had become dislodged and slipped into the canal. The original idea was to rebuild the stone wall and relay the copers, but after careJoint NW and Essex WRG dig on the Grantham - report next time? ful consideration it was
Toolbox Talk Leptospirosis / Weil’s Disease Leptospirosis Leptospirosis is a form of bacterial infection, also known as Weil’s Disease, that is carried by animals – most commonly in rats and cattle. The bacteria can enter through breaks in the skin, such as scratches or cuts, or through the lining of the mouth and nose after contact with urine-contaminated water usually found in ditches, slow flowing rivers... and derelict canals! The two types of Leptospirosis infection which affect people in the UK are: Weil’s Disease – this is a serious and sometimes fatal infection that is transmitted to humans by contact with urine from infected rats. Hardjo form of Leptospirosis – this is transmitted from cattle to humans.
Symptoms First symptoms are flu-like – persistent headache and possibly chills. Later symptoms can lead to vomiting, muscle pains and ultimately jaundice and kidney failure. It begins as a mid illness, which can be easily cured if treated early enough. If left untreated, it becomes more serious and in rare cases the disease can be fatal. Symptoms can occur between three and 21 days from the time of infection. Although the risk of infection is small, you should take sensible precautions:
3 Cover, with waterproof plasters, all open scratches, cuts, sores and skin infections affected by eczema etc. 3 Wash your hands before eating, drinking o smoking, and after you have finished working. 3 Wear protective equipment you are provided with – including rubber gloves and boots. 3 Wash thoroughly, and as soon as possible, if you have entered the water. 3 See a doctor if you feel ill with flu-like symptoms, and tell them you have been working near water. 3 If you are the site leader, ensure there are adequate washing facilities and first aid on site. 3 Important: if the Doctor decides you have Leptospirosis, tell your site leader who should then report it to WRG Head Office and the Health & Safety Executive.
7 Don’t encourage the presence of vermin. Keep the site tidy and dispose of all rubbish correctly. 7 Don’t handle dead rats with unprotected hands. Wherever possible use a shovel or other tool. 7 Don’t be tempted to drink any water on site, apart from what has been provided for drinking, even if it looks clean. 7 Don’t wear contaminated site clothing in food preparation or eating areas.
More information: Health & Safety Executive guidance: hse.gov.uk/pubns/ indg84.pdf
BITM on the Chichester: April 2013 When we arrived on the Friday of the dig weekend, local contact Linda Wilkinson greeted us with the news that - even after a warm sunny week the forecast was for a typical BITM-Chichester weekend, cold, hail, heavy rain showers and strong winds. However, Someone Up There chose to smile on us, and it turned out dry, warm and sunny. We were putting in a section of new bank protection where the old Nicospan geotextile bank protection had deformed so the bank itself had been sliding into the canal underneath it. The Basingstoke Canal had developed a new system that promised to be much stronger and more efficient, and fortunately we have a BITM member - Jeff Hill - who had worked with Kevin Redway and his team installing the system there. Linda and I had visited the Basingstoke and watched them putting in the system, but it was really useful to have someone with the actual experience of the installation. We started with several people in waders in the canal trying to get the old posts and Nicospan out, involving cutting through the material to release each post and then wiggling them or using a sledge hammer to give them a little persuasion. Unfortunately, RAF Martin soon found that his waders had a small leak in the foot area and he was getting a very soggy sock, but David James’s neoprene ones proved more reliable, and he spent most of the two days splashing around happily. The next job was to get in the first post, the most important one as it sets the whole line, but that proved more difficult than anticipated. We tried the sledge hammer but couldn’t get it in far enough to get it firm, probably because gravel from the towpath had slid into the canal edge. The Chichester small digger was sent for, but even lowering the bucket onto the post didn’t work. Eventually, the solution proved to be making a hole with an iron bar and then persuading the post into the hole with a post bonker. Fortunately, the rest of the posts went in a bit easier. The post is slotted into the pockets in the nicospan, which had been marked to show where each subsequent post slots in. Work continued along the section to be repaired, all but three in place by the end of Saturday. Meanwhile, as we had the digger there on site, Nigel Hanwell decided to make use of it by continuing along the towpath and scooping the gravel that had fallen in and spreading it where the bank had started to sink behind the Nicospan. The geotextile was cut to length and used to span the gap between the outline of posts-andNicospan and the bank. Using a post augur, we started to dig holes in the towpath for the back anchor posts to which the front posts are wired -
Dig Report WRG BITM at Chichester three fronts wired to each back post. The work continued on the Sunday putting in the remaining front and back posts and wiring them firmly in place, and the geotextile was nailed to the front posts and the post tops sawn off to the required level. The big hopper had been filled with soil (a job that, Blue Peter style, had been prepared earlier), and it was brought across to our section, where the soil could be shovelled into barrows and wheeled down the plank to fill the gap on top of the geotextile. Nigel and Martin and one of the local work party slogged at it all morning while I wheeled it down and tipped it for Di to spread it. Unfortunately, the local team had underestimated the amount needed, and by lunchtime we had run out. The worry was that we had not had enough to cover the wires, and the local vandals were quite capable of coming along with wirecutters! The local work party come out on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for a couple of hours, and they hoped to be able to finish the infill in the following week. The towpath is very well used by cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers (the last named providing a diversion for our bored dog), so work had to have a few pauses and slowed us up a bit. During the week a lot of children from surrounding villages walk to school along the towpath. BITM (and subsequently other groups) first laid the hedge about 15 years ago under my and Di’s guidance, with hawthorn whips planted in any gaps. The problem was that we used traditional hedge stakes and binders, and the aforementioned vandals took these out and threw them into the canal, so the Chichester’s current hedgelayer had been looking for a method of laying that did not require stakes or binders, as the hedge has to be kept low to provide good views for the boat trippers. He had contacted a 92-year-old man who was the only exponent left in England of a Dutch style, and had tried to carry this out on the towpath hedge. Di was given a guided tour, also to a nearby site where the South of England Championships were carried out this last winter, and she tried to advise the of a Welsh style that should fit the bill. As usual, we were excellently looked after foodwise by June, and many thanks to her and to all the BITMites who worked so hard over the weekend. Rachael Banyard
WRG BC News ‘WRG’s Boat Club Here is the (WRG BC) news... Mooring in London for a ‘stop and shop’ is now virtually impossible because of the number or boats moored three abreast taking up available moorings. There is also a problem with rubbish disposal as all bins etc are constantly overfull for the same reason. However visiting members of clubs affiliated to AWCC (Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs) including WRG BC are welcome at most boat clubs. Please contact clubs in advance and remember you will need your current membership card. The sanitary station at Wellingborough on the river Nene is now open as is the one at March on the Middle Level. There are to be no new moorings provided in Northwich. The plan to enable boats to cruise the river Dee into Chester has, at present, been abandoned. [That’s not quite what I’d heard - has anyone got further information? ...Ed] Many areas have seen an increase of boat break-ins. The Canal & River Trust is working with the police on this, so please report any problems. The AWCC Quarter Master will now be known as the Development Officer – he is very keen to get club feedback as to what sort of merchandise AWCC members would like; burgees; window stickers; diaries; pens? Would anyone like a calendar to be produced? There will be new checks and rules as part of the Boat Safety Scheme. A new system of certificating came into effect from 1st April which will involve some kind of ‘magic number’, and computers. Stafford Boat Club will be 50 years old next year and will be organizing a ‘do’ in early June. The AWCC at 50th Anniversary rally will be held at Black Buoy Cruising Club 11-13 July 2014. The planned high speed railway, HS2, will have devastating effects on existing canals and restoration projects, including some that are well advanced! What can we do about it? Please someone think of something. [See editorial, p6 ...Ed] Do you read your Navvies from cover to cover or just hop about through it? Sometimes I take one approach; sometimes the other. Reading the latest issue I noticed, among other things, that some people expect us to spend time looking at
websites to learn about restoration ‘goings on’. Most of us don’t take computers with us while boating; one member (and possibly more) admits to not knowing how to switch a computer on. Well ‘Hurrah for Navvies’ I say, as it keeps me up to date! Another way to gather news is for members to read the latest issue of Alert, the magazine of the AWCC. This is available on line, so computer needed for access. We don’t get a ‘hard copy’ for the club, as we have no permanent club house to display it in! I will try to email a link to members that have provided an email address (hint) but you all know how I am with technology! I was very sad to hear that Roger Lorenz had died. I have known him and Stef for some long time. When he first asked to join WRG BC we said “No”: most strange you may think, but this was at the national at Salford, he was the awards officer and we had entered for the Offley and Slack trophy for the club with the highest percentage of its membership attending. The fact that we won it and he then joined the club is not linked in any suspicious way! Roger had been very ill and they both had a really rotten time in the few years preceding his death. We will miss them as club members and send our love to Stef. More news of club members: the club officer is now on the mend and Roger Burchett is now home and making good but slow progress back to health. Remember Roger: progress, however slow, in the right direction is better than the alternative! More AGM, Huddlesford Gathering details – I have sent out booking forms, with the handbooks, to those that requested them – some others I have emailed forms to. Please get them filled in and returned ASAP. For those still without forms please log on to www.lhcrt.org.uk, scroll down and click on ‘Huddlesford Heritage Boat Gathering 2013, then go down to ‘Download Boat Entry Form Here’ click on and print! If you’re out boating, this can be done in a public library. If all that fails, text or write to me and I will post you a form. See how keen we are that you come along? (I think the fact that it is called a ‘Heritage’ boat gathering means my attendance is compulsory!) Hurrah at last we have been on the move on the boat AND had super weather. Yes, we were out and about on the Middle Level over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Forgotten is the freezing Easter Cruise: the hail, snow and gale force winds. I hope many club members were as lucky as us. Does this herald a good boating season to come? Let’s hope so. xxx Sadie Heritage email@example.com 07748186867
WRG Print update Many thanks to Chris Griffiths at Stroud Print for donating two of his redundant machines to WRG Print. I already had a desktop stapler and folding machine, this has now been superseded by the replacement machine that does virtually the same operation but is a more commercial design and construction. This machine then moves the copy of Navvies on to the next machine that then crops off the fore edge. Thanks also to WRG North West for purchasing the new ‘square back’ machine. This receives the copy after it has been cropped and it is then stacked in a tray at the end of the operation. All of the machines are linked together and once the collated set of Navvies has entered the first machine it is passed along all the operations to be finally ejected at the end: well that’s the best, but sometimes things don’t go quite according to plan and any ‘jam ups’ will then have to be sorted. John Hawkins
BITS & Pieces
including more Tirfor Tips boat gathering if agreed. (As this year) To join, contact: Sadie Heritage, 236 Station Rd, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 2HA
Tirfor Tech tips – extra
Some additional information to add to the piece about Tirfor winches in Navvies 258. Sometimes there is a need when pulling out tree stumps to work in co-operation with a 360o excavator. This then brings further considerations for a safe operation. Care must be taken to ensure that the person who is operating the Tirfor and the 360o operator are totally aware of what each person is doing; if the Tirfor is being used then the excavator must not be used at the WRG Boat Club, what’s it all about? same time. When the stump has been fully pulled over by the Tirfor, the cable should be taken off load, the handle removed and then For the benefit of those of you who’ve seen clear instructions given to the excavator the WRG BC news page in Navvies (see driver to start work on the roots. If the cable opposite) and might be wondering... Membership is open to boaters who are was left taut, then it could put extra load on the Tirfor and exceed the working capacity. If active volunteers with Waterway Recovery necessary, the Tirfor can do more work when Group and those who have previously the machine has stopped its movements. worked with WRG. (This does not include If a large obstacle/tree stump is to be those who just subscribe to Navvies) WRG BC is affiliated to The Association pulled out, involving the use of two Tirfors and also the snatch blocks, then very careful of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC) and accepts and supports the rules and objectives consideration must once again be given to the total loadings that are being applied and of the association. that properly rated equipment is being used. The club provides fellowship, support During this process, if there is a need to and a forum for members who own boats or adjust the chains/slings then both Tirfors otherwise cruise the waterways. Informal club gatherings or attendance must be off-loaded at the same time. If only one Titfor is off-loaded, it is possible to at boat festivals (especially those associated seriously overload the other Tirfor, again the reopening of formerly derelict waterexceeding the working capacity. ways) are encouraged. Whilst any system is being set up take All members are urged to cruise reocare with chains that have a joining link pened waterways, little used waterways and (larger then the normal link) to ensure that those threatened with closure. Reporting the joining link is not twisted, and ideally back to the membership is appreciated. All club news will be published in Navvies that it is on the ‘straight’ pull of the chain, and not within the shackle. New members must pay a joining fee Always check that all people involved of £10, plus one year’s subscription. are fully aware of what is happening and Membership cards are issued annually. their role in the process. The AGM will be held at The IWA NaJohn Hawkins tional Waterways Festival or alternative
Congratulations to Jo and Clive Alderman on the arrival of Fay Rachael on 17 May weighing 8lb 6oz
Moving house Ed and Suzie Walker have moved to 2 Loddon Drive Didcot OX11 7QA If you move, remember to tell Navvies
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.
also to Chris and Emma Wicks on their marriage and to Nikki Packer and Vasco on their engagement Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies cover printing
Want to buy a working narrow boat? Ex working boat LYNX for sale. Built 1913 by Fellows Morton and Clayton - a beautiful boat, original and unconverted, has a hand start Lister JP2m engine. For more details contact owners, wrg bc secretary Sadie Heritage on 07748186867 firstname.lastname@example.org
...or just a part of one? There’s still a share in Grand Union working boat Fulbourne for sale. Contact Tim Lewis 01782 518094
Marguerite Redway R.I.P. We are sorry to bring you the sad news that Marguerite Redway, of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society, and the widow of former Chairman Peter Redway, died suddenly on 23 May. Her funeral was very well attended and we are reliably informed that her son Ian’s choice of music for the occasion was “very unique”! Our sympathies to Ian, Kevin, and all who knew her in SHCS, WRG and everywhere else.
A date for your diaries: the Ashtac reunion cleanup event held last October at Dukinfield, Manchester was such a success that it has been decided to make it an annual event. Further details to follow, but the date is 19/20 October for those who fancy attending the “BCN Cleanup of the North”.
WRGies become rug-dealers! WRGies and boaters Tina and Colin Hobbs are appealing for your old red or black WRG t-shirts so that Tina can turn them into rag rugs that she can then sell to raise funds. If you have any old WRG t-shirts that have seen better days, please save them and donate them to this good cause. Contact Colin by email on email@example.com to arrange a handover.
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH
Tel: 01564 785293 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)
Dear Deirdre As a long-serving WRG
cook I’m getting rather concerned about some rumours I’ve heard recently regarding canal camps catering. I mean, it’s all very well being condown on a concrete floor after eight hours cerned about food hygiene standards, on site in February. but I gather there’s a possibility that I can identify the exact moment this using the manure forks in the camp started. It was the arrival of a new volunteer kits for toasting yesterday’s leftover who claimed he also volunteered for the ham sarnies over the bonfire might be National Trust. At tea break he started frowned upon in future; and even that spreading the sedition by talking about their the ‘five-second rule’ for food dropped fancy accommodation with BEDS (for goodon the floor might be cut to three secness sake!) and GUARANTEED SHOWERS onds! Can you reassure me that this (as if anyone needed such things!). People won’t mean the End Of Civilisation As pretended to be dismissive of such depravity We Know It? and weakness but you could see the germ of - Marie Bain, Towcester corruption had been planted. I expect he was Deirdre writes I’m as shocked as you a mole planted by the NT to infect our volunare, Marie. Recently I saw someone wipe the teers with their profligate ways before stealmud off the brewkit’s communal teaspoon ing them away for their own camps. with their sleeve before using it to stir their I think probably attack is the best form of coffee. I just don’t think there’s room for defence and suggest we strike the first blow by fancy manners like that in WRG. More trouburning down Stourhead. It’s rubbish anyway blingly, there’s all this talk of introducing those landscaped water-features don’t even ‘comfy camps’ for people too delicate to doss have a single lock. Who’s with me? Do you have a question for Deirdre? You can email it to email@example.com
Kit updates A couple of readers have sent in appropriate (?) photos as WRG sorts out kit ready for summer camps. On the left, from Richard Tyler who says “a must for every camp”. While on the right, Steve Barrett has found a dumberat Thirkeld Quarry Museum to defy the WRG Driver authorisation scheme, with the entire seat and steering column assembly swinging round depending on the desired direction of travel. Is it ‘front tip’ or ‘rear tip’?
And finally... This photo taken on a recent London WRG dig the Chichester shows George, Adrian and Helena weeding the basin from a pontoon, dressed in appropriate life-jackets and... in George’s case... a nicely ironed full dress white shirt with collar! What’s happening? Are metropolitan WRGies ditching the red t-shirt for something smarter? Alternatively, maybe he misread the invitation: “Dear George, you are invited to a weeding...”