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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Featuring lots of camps beginning with ‘W’:the Reporting from Wendover, Wilts & Berks, Wey & Arun... Easter camps

and Cleanup

waterway recovery group

Issue No 260 August-September 2013

Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk 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.

ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2013 WRG

Martin Ludgate

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.

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


Emma Greenall

In this issue...

Above: Volunteers celebrate final completion of one wall of Steppingstone Lane Bridge on the Wilts & Berks (see camp report, page 6). Below: NWPG laying a path during their camp on the Wey & Arun (see camp report, page 36). Left: rebuilding the Sawmills Gauging Narrows on the Cromford Canal (camp report next time). Front cover: Lady Capel’s Bridge on the Grand Union near Watford, being re-pointed and re-painted as the follow-up to last year’s project with CRT on the North Oxford Canal (photo: Martin Ludgate). Back cover top: Steppingstone Lane again, showing the towpath wall under construction (John Hawkins) Back cover bottom: KESCRG‘s camp on the Wendover Arm, see page 8 (Barry Brown)

Chairman if it arrives in time’ 4 Coming soon autumn and winter camps, plus some training and a Christmas party 5 Camp reports Wilts & Berks and Wendover Arm 6-10 WRGBC news from our own Boat Club 11 40 interviews Robin Higgs and Wheely Bin Bob face the questions 12-23 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 24-27 Letters to the editor 28-29 Progress our regular roundup from around the country’s canal restoraitons 30-35 Camp reports NWPG on the Wey & Arun, WRG on the Basingstoke 36-39 Directory contact details for WRG and canal society working parties 40-43 Bits & Pieces Operation Starburst, Training on the W&B, Weil’s Disease 44-45 Noticeboard 46 Infill including Dear 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 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 261: 1 September.

Alan Cavender

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 Reunion and Capel’s Bridge Chairman’s Comment Well here we are – half way through the summer and still no sign of the traditional monsoon! All seems to be going well, and from what I have heard we have had a cracking bunch of first time volunteers who we very much look forward to introducing to the joys of hanging around train stations on a Friday night, unending journeys in Transit vans that only finish just after last orders and waking up on a strange village hall floor!

“Nothing I saw has convinced me I’m wrong when I say that exposure to volunteers will make CRT a more efficient, better, stronger organisation”

But at the last minute a possible site has arrived. Unfortunately not actually in time for us to confirm it here but no doubt very soon we will be releasing details on the email lists and the website and Facebook and all that new fangled stuff.

Lady Capel’s Bridge

Another bit of fun this summer has been another bridge job with Canal & River Trust (CRT). Not quite such a major job as last time on the North Oxford in 2012 but quite intensive none the less. As a distraction from the IWA National Festival camp we said we The Bonfire Bash would re-point and then repaint bridge 163 Which brings me to the first bit of news. By (Lady Capel’s bridge) just up from the Festinow we should have announced the site for val site at Cassiobury Park [See front cover photo ...Ed]. A long, long time ago (when our Bonfire Bash / Reunion. Now we are really keen for this event to go ahead beCRT was called something else!) it had been cause, from our perspective, it kills a lot of pointed with inappropriate mortar and then painted with an inappropriate paint. So, birds with one stone. Firstly it gets a lot of volunteers from the summer back into one although it wasn’t in danger of falling down, it did need a bit of work and, seeing as there place in a nice informal setting were we can were going to be quite a few of us staying in talk about the summer, how it went, what was good and what was not quite so good. It a marquee nearby, we thought it might be an also is a very good clear deadline for all the easy way to see how well we could work canal societies to get their exciting offers of together again. next year’s work to us. As a result there is now a shiny white And by spending the Saturday afterbridge for everyone to admire. As to how noon turning all these offers into an well well we worked together, it still wasn’t thought out(?) programme of works we can brilliant. We’ve given some feedback and I then spend the Saturday night promoting don’t doubt they will learn from it. this exciting new programme to a large Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly the audience, getting together leadership teams case that every single bad thing that hapand getting a decent head-start on actually pened (be it brushes arriving a day after the filling up these camps with volunteers. paint, or a sudden change of specification, or And at the same time, we get to do a a missing vital ingredient, or a promised lot of work on a restoration project. contribution that never materialised) has So, all in all, it is very useful event – happened to me, and probably all of you, and means that we as the WRG Committee on a volunteer run site. But never all on actually get to go out digging on the Sunday. the same job! BUT it does mean that every single year we Certainly nothing I saw has convinced have to find a site that can support a lot of me I’m wrong when I say that exposure to people with some straightforward jobs. This volunteers will make CRT a more efficient, year it’s been a bit of a struggle to do this, better, stronger organisation. and so we thought we might have to not run Hugs and kisses the reunion event this year. Mike Palmer

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STOP PRESS: plant training on the Wilts & Berks on 28-29 September - see page 45

Coming soon Autumn and winter camps

But first... the last of the summer canal camps By the time you receive this copy of Navvies the summer canal camps programme will be all but finished; and the very last one (Camp 2013-20 on the Swansea Canal from 31 August to 7 September, led by Bob Crow and Katrina Schonhut) is looking likely to be fully booked. But do feel free to ring head office or check the WRG website just in case there’s still room.

September at Inglesham Last time we promised you some information in this issue about what was happening at Inglesham Lock, the project at the east end of the Cotswold Canals which was to be restored thanks to the IWA Tom Rolt Appeal but which had hit delays getting permissions. Well, it still looks like we will be running a few weeks of extra camps to sort out the stopplanks/chamber waterproofing, investigation, lower wing wall repairs etc. starting September - but as we went to press we were still working out the details. So please keep checking the WRG website and Facebook group, and register your interest via Jenny at head office.

Operation Starburst in Manchester, 19-20 October Just announced: Manchester’s answer to the BCN Cleanup. See Page 45 for details.

Autumn camp on the Chelmer & Blackwater, 26 October - 2 November For something a bit different from our normal restoration camps, Camp 2013-21 on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation on 26 October - 2 November will be helping to maintain a working waterway, operated by Essex Waterways, part of our parent body the Inland Waterways Association. We’re likely to be working on towpath maintenance, bank protection, tree and scrub control. Book this one via Head Office or the WRG website as usual.

The Bonfire Bash: 9-10 November We had been hoping to be able to announce something in this issue about where our major annual reunion working party on 9-10 November would be taking place. However we’ve had a bit of a struggle to find a suitable site, as a result of which we’re still finalising the arrangements and can’t go into print yet. Hopefully details will appear in the next Navvies, but in the meantime we’ll pass on the news via the website and Facebook group as soon as we can.

London WRG and KESCRG Christmas party dig: 7-8 December Hopefully a new venue for the first of the festive working parties: we haven’t quite confirmed it, but it’s looking like the Chichester Canal for a biggish scrub-bash with a Christmas Party on the Saturday night. Run jointly by London WRG and KESCRG regional groups, but everyone’s welcome. Put the date in your diary and we’ll bring you more details next time.

New Year Camps: Cotswold and Uttoxeter 26 December - 1 January Once again Gary Summers and Pete Fleming will be leading the Uttoxeter Camp, with ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson and Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden in charge on the Cotswold. More next time.

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the bar had a singer – best glossed over! On Sunday following the tool kit check we loaded the required tools into the vans. There is little room to turn and park at the bridge so we did not take the trailer to site. The initial tasks of removing weatherdamaged bricks from the parapet walls and recovery of useable stone were allocated and the teams set to work. In the absence of Camp 2013-07 Wilts & Berks Canal coping stones the brickwork had suffered frost damage during the last couple of harsh Saturday 6th July dawned hot and winters. Fortunately less damage than anticisunny, a trend which was to last all week – a pated was discovered and only the top camp with no rain – what joy! By early after- course required removal. Some volunteers noon we had arrived at the accommodation were then instructed on mixing lime mortar with the vans and kit trailer. The accommoand during the afternoon the new bricks dation was a new venue for WRG: Bourton were laid and other areas repointed. Club in Bourton, near Swindon. A good sized Meanwhile the stone picking team had hall, large car park, reasonably sized kitchen established various heaps of useable stone with dishwasher and an on site bar – what and rubble for backfill. Richard and Nick more could we ask for? volunteered to commence the task of digging Our French volunteer Romain and one out the mud under the bridge to establish of the Katherines were collected from the the state and level of the invert. Blue, the coach and rail stations and by the time we WRG excavator, was used to remove some of returned the hall was filling up with the other the infill but lack of firm base material meant volunteers. Following the normal introductions that only a limited amount was excavated – and brief chat about the running of the camp oh for a long reach machine! Harri, our cook for the week, presented the A good day’s work was rounded off by new food hygiene talk. We then went off to a visit to the cold, character-building showers site prior to viewing the safety DVD. at Watchfield Sports Pavilion. One advantage of the dry weather was On Monday whilst the brickwork was that materials and the portaloo had been delivhardening off some more pointing was carered right down to the bridge. (Steppingstone ried out. The stone work on the North East Lane is notorious for resemwingwall, which had a sigbling the Somme when it nificant collapse at lower rains.) A tour of the site level, was removed down to was given and the potential a firm base. Some of this hazards pointed out. In work was carried out by particular as work was to be hand but the larger stones carried out both on the were removed using the bridge parapets and below excavator. As there was the bridge exclusion zones insufficient stone to rebuild were to be enforced to the wall entirely in stone it obviate the risk of materials had been decided to use lean or tools falling onto a work mix concrete bags at low area below. level below the water line On returning to the and stone above. hall the safety DVD was Meanwhile the shown and had more imunderbridge stalwarts, pact as the volunteers could Richard and Nick continued relate to the specific site with clearance of the mateconditions. Following the rial on top of the invert. evening meal, as it was Another team headed such a warm evening everyby John were measuring body sat outside with a little the available coping stones light refreshment from the which had been rescued bar. Being Saturday evening A sandbag chain laying the base from a railway bridge being

Camp Report

John Hawkins

Steppingstone again!

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stones in place. During the afternoon good progress was made on all tasks. In the evening the entertainment was a visit to the Pub quiz at the College Farm pub. All too soon the last day on site had arrived. All of the younger volunteers were leaving before the evening meal so the traditional Friday evening speech and ‘thank you’s were held at breakfast time. On site rapid progress continued with laying the coping stones, finishing of the top of the wing wall and work on the underbridge brickwork. At lunchtime Harri produced a birthday cake complete with lit candles in celebration of Rob’s birthday the following day. By the end of the afternoon the Eastern parapet coping stones were complete and the corner and centre copers set on the West parapet.The stone wing wall was complete and top surface finished. The brickwork under the bridge was complete and the invert had been exposed and the stop plank base found to be in good condition. The site was tidied for the final time. Tools all cleaned and shuttled back to the hall car park to be counted. Timing was perfect as the portaloo was collected just as we made the last trip back from site. Following the tool count it was time for one last cold shower before our Fish and Chips and superb array of goodies for sweet. My thanks to everyone on the camp for their hard work and good humour. We can all be proud of what we achieved. My special thanks to Harri for the superb meals and wonderful cakes, and to my carer – sorry assistant – Katrina. Bob Crow

John Hawkins

demolished, to establish how much usable coping stone was available. The corner stones were too short in one dimension and it had been suggested that they be cut and separated then pointed in between. I was not alone in not being in favour of this approach. ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson called by en route home from work, and after discussing our thoughts he suggested putting an inset row of bricks on the parapet corners to overcome the problem – not just a pretty face! On Tuesday one team set about putting the inset brick idea into practice whilst another team continued filling bags with lean mix concrete and building the wall of bags. Stone was sorted into sizes in readiness for the rebuild. Meanwhile Richard and Nick were making good progress under the bridge. Tuesday evening saw us venture into Swindon for Ten Pin Bowling. George, one of our DofE volunteers and Romain were the winners but looked a little concerned when told the winners always buy a round of drinks… Wednesday saw a continuation of work on the wingwall and later in the day Nick led the team in starting the stone wall above the concrete bag base. Another team were bringing the copers which had been cut into manageable sizes to the bridge. The centre copers were set with stainless steel ties and bedded on lime mortar. On arrival on site on Thursday we discovered some little darlings had lobbed some of the cleaned bricks from the bridge into the goo below. Kat, Steph, George, Rob and Jenny set themselves the challenge of recovering them. Much merriment ensued and with lots of good old slimy goo the recovery crew got very muddy and we lost count of how many boots had to be rescued when the wearer parted company with them. They did however manage to recover the bricks. We lifted the first of the corner copers into position using the excavator. Following on from this copers were laid on the South East section of the parapet. Meanwhile Martin had started work on the extension of the underbridge North West brick wall to bring it in line with the South West wall. When we stopped for lunch, that moment that occurs on many camps had arrived. We had all been toiling for several days and now suddenly there was a lot to show for our efforts. The wing wall was really taking shape and looking fantastic and the bridge was starting to look as it should with coping

The completed wing wall

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Camp Report KESCRG on the Wendover

“A testament to the usefulness of a Mick, a lot of rope and several tarpaulins” - Stephen explains how KESCRG managed to burn so few people

can’t complain, not after hearing about last year, where the entire week was spent in downpours of rain - and considering the clay underfoot in the bed of the canal, which was Our camp this year was something of a sludgy even in 30 degree heat, I imagine we reprise of last year – same site, same accom- got the better end of the deal this year! modation, same cooks, more-or-less the The first thing that had to be done, after same dates, pretty much the same core of a few introductions, was to unpack the vans experienced volunteers and the same levels bringing fridges, cooking utensils, and some of enthusiasm and aptitude in the intrepid kit into the village hall. Then I was given the band of ‘first-timers’. Even the work bore an desirable job, along with a few others, of doing uncanny resemblance to last year... the trailer inventory to make sure we had all Pretty much the only change was the the necessary kit. By the time we were finweather. Last year ‘tent city’ provided protec- ished, dinner was ready and an introductory tion for the bricklayers from the incessant speech was made by Stephen (our camp drizzle that lasted pretty much all week – this leader) with input from Ian (assisting), as well year we coincided with the start of the July as watching the health and safety video. heatwave and the marquee and jury-rigged The dinner was fantastic - Michael and shelters provided invaluable shade to prevent Nina managed to surpass themselves every the mortar drying on the trowel and us all evening with amazing food, and wake us all up turning into overcooked lobsters. We had in the morning with great cooked breakfasts, unprecedented wall-to-wall sunshine from as well as bringing us all lunch on site. Later Saturday to Saturday, and the fact that the on, everyone got to know one another in the Burco was reported to be sub-optimal by the pub. We had a nice mixture of complete preceding camp was largely irrelevant as we novices (i.e. me) and people who had been consumed vast quantities of squash and doing these camps for years. water on site each day. Amazingly we sufOur mission was to restore parts of the fered no heat stroke, sun stroke or sun burn former Whitehouses pumping station site to – a testament to the usefulness of a Mick, a operate as a water level control feature for lot of rope and several tarpaulins (and prob- the Tring Summit pound of the Grand Union ably some sun cream). canal, eventually allowing excess spring Over to new volunteer Jessamy Bloom water from the Wendover Arm to weir into for the next part of the report... the original pumping shaft and down to At the end of the week, I expressed an interest in writing - not quite realising that I was offering to write the report on the week we had spent renovating part of the Wendover Arm, off the Grand Union Canal. However, that is what it turned out I was doing, so now I am piecing together the week from scrawlings in my journal. We all started arriving - I was one of the first. Having never been on a canal camp before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first thing I can say is that I had not expected the weather - a veritable heat wave, The pumping station inlet wall - as discovered which continued for the entire week! I Ray Orth

KESCRG / WRG Camp 2013-08 Whitehouses Pumping Station Grand Union Wendover Arm

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Stephen Davis

Barry Brown

Wilstone reservoir. We were also creating a nature trail pathway to provide public access to the site once work is complete. We have been working over the last couple of years to restore the structure so that when the Wendover Arm Trust reach this point with their Bentomat relining work, they can tie into the completed structure without being distracted by having to restore it themselves. So to the week – on Saturday, while Mick, Anne and I sweated our way to Stoud and back to get the kit, pick up the cooks and do various volunteer pickups; Ian, Rob B, Rachel The wall - nearing completion and Bobby spent the day on site strimming the 6ft nettles that had owned by the Canal & River Trust (CRT), as grown since May and preparing the walls for bricklaying to give us a head start to the week. there is a pipe running under the dry section of the arm carrying the water from Wendover The first working day was a bit of a challenge - but it worked much better than we to the reservoirs, where it is pumped up to the Tring Summit pound by the Tringford were warned it might. We managed to get to pumping station. This means that CRT are site just after 9am, and were all working proactively involved in the project, both from a ductively by 10am. I was assigned to the heritage and an engineering point of view. group building steps into the canal bank, so On Monday and Tuesday we were joined by we could safely access the pathway nature Gary from CRT who was able to give us trail which we started work on after lunch. invaluable advice on mixing and working Other groups included block-laying for the Trust working party on the relining work a bit with Lime Mortar, generously sharing his experience and time, working alongside us further along the Arm, and preparing the rebuilding the front wall of the pumping brickwork for rebuilding during the week. station outfall on both days – giving us a Working in the heat was exhausting, but we managed to get gazebos over most of the site, massive boost to the project. We were also visited on the Wednesday by Andy and Florand the nature trail was covered by trees, so ence from CRT to look at our work so far, we managed okay. and we also had a guided tour of the fasciPacking up at the end of the day was nating Tringford pumping station. hindered slightly by the majority of us standing around one of the vans, listening to Murray’s final set against Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on the car radio! We got back to the hall in time for a Wimbledon themed dinner, and then off to the pub. The next day, similar work continued. I was block-laying on the relining work today, the only area that did not involve cover from a gazebo! However, it was satisfying to see the blocks go up so quickly, so much so that we finished the section, and the next roll of Bentomat could be laid. An interesting aspect of the Wendover Arm project is that the line of the Arm is still The wall - ready for coping stones

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Kate Penn

Monday evening’s entertainment was a trip to the cinema - to see ‘Despicable Me 2’. As it was the evening, the cinema wasn’t exactly filled to capacity for a children’s film, but personally, I think it was very enjoyable! By Tuesday, the path had progressed almost to the point where no more strimming had been done, and lots of old bricks had been cleaned, ready to be used again. The evening was spent walking along the open part of the Wendover Arm from The wall after KESCRG returned for a weekend to add copings Little Tring, finishing with refreshment at the Grand Junction Arms at Bulbourne. Murray, and the Spanish and Indian evenings. Wednesday saw the path reach the end Never tried sliced oranges with diced root of its track, and we began to flatten the earth, ginger? Then I recommend that you do! ready for the aggregate layer. There was also Friday was the last working day - also more brick cleaning to be done, as the brickmy last day, so I don’t actually know what work was moving on at an alarming rate! happened on Saturday! (you didn’t miss much Straight after site, we toured the Tringford – an awful lot of scrubbing and cleaning of pumping station (thankfully not the same as a the hall! – Stephen). We poured road-stone ‘pump-out station’, which was what I heard onto the nature trail, and whackered it (having the first time!). Only one of the pumps is retrieved the whacker using 6 people and a currently in working order, causing a bit of a wheelbarrow!). The brickwork had progressed headache for water-supplies to the summit well, and was back to the point it had been when level, highlighting the importance of the long- it was left last year! We left the site earlier than term benefits of restoring the Wendover Arm. usual, to get back in time to clean and tidy the The rest of the evening was spent (by some of tools, and wash out the vans as well. us) in the pub. Overall, it was a very enjoyable week, I spent Thursday working on the nature helped by the amazing weather, the great trail, where we got to laying down the matting. work ethic, and the lovely people on the camp. This was very exciting, until we realised that By the end of the week much preparathe (very heavy) whacker, which was being tion work and bricklaying had been carried pulled along in front of the matting, was now out in the overflow chamber, and the front at the end of the trail, with a large roll of wall was once again ready for coping stones. matting preventing its return to the start! Kescrg returned to the site for our August We had an interesting talk about the weekend, and the coping stones are now progress of the Wendover Arm that evening, sitting proudly on top of their wall once again. and I found out that we were working on Stage Massive thanks have to go to Gary, 2 of the project (stage 1 being the already Andy, Florence and Tom from CRT for all completed, and stage 3 not yet begun). their advice, help and involvement; to Roger On Thursday, Nina and Michael our and Ray from WAT for their support and fabulous cooks had to leave us, but their giving us such an interesting project to work inventiveness and clear joy at having the on; and huge thanks to Ian and Liz for ably opportunity to let rip in the kitchen for a assisting me, to Michael, Nina, Anne and Liz week really contributed to the great atmosfor catering magnificently, to Mick and Rachel phere of the camp. The chilled soups at for being endlessly useful, and to everyone lunchtime were both thirst quenching and else for your enthusiasm, good humour, nourishing and the evening meals were not initiative, and for making leading this week just food, but a culinary adventure to really an order of magnitude less stressful than the look forward to - particular highlights being preceding 51 weeks of work! the Purple, White and Green Wimbledon Jessamy Bloom themed evening in honour of a certain Mr with contributions from Stephen Davis

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WRG Boat Club News July 2013


Well, it is a lovely sunny day as I type this – not a usual experience of late – but predicable as we are not boating at present. ‘Why are you not boating in early July?’ I hear you cry. Well mostly because we have just sold Lynx! A very sad day for us, even though we knew it had to be. It has brought miss the ‘bring a boat’ weekends most where back memories of the Boat Club activities we would boat to some restoration that was that have involved Lynx. We celebrated the going on somewhere. Someone please find boat’s 90th birthday at the AGM/social gathplaces where we could do that again. ering at the National that year (was it Beale Now to the future – we did book both Park in 2003? We left the plaques on Lynx so Lynx and Straw Bear into Huddlesford so we without them I never know!). We all sat plan to meet you ALL there for the club round on straw bales, I provided the ‘fizz’ AGM. and (plastic) Champagne flutes and Roger By the time you read this the new Jeffries not only assembled most of the straw styled National Festival will have come and for seating but did a grand job opening the gone, so I look forward to lots of news from bottles. members. My most enduring memory is from the I have tried to contact all members to opening (eventually) of the Aston locks on the Montgomery. There was a boat organised give access to the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC) magazine Alert but I for the VIPs but not enough room for some still get caught out by ‘technomancy’ I do my of the local councillors (QIPs?)* We were best – honest. If you haven’t heard from me asked if we could take them as passengers giving you the link, please go to the AWCC on Lynx for the inaugural trip down the website and there you will find a link to get locks. We said ‘No we can’t take passengers, ‘Alert’ sent direct to you. but we can take a cargo.’ So we went down I’m sure I will think of lots more news the locks with a cargo of councillors, all after I have sent this in, life is like that sitting on chairs arranged in the hold. HowFor boat club information contact me ever since the hold is 4ft deep they couldn’t on 07748186867 text is best or email see much if they sat down but if they stood sadiedean@msn.com up the jolly bunting was flapping all round xxx Sadie Heritage their heads. Still they said that they enjoyed the trip and thanked us. As we had no ‘facili* Quite Important People, if you didn’t ties’ on the boat they all came back on the bother to work it out. road transport provided. Lynx was very good for mounting displays – the most famous being the collection of Edwardian bloomers. We did do ‘We want the Full Monty’ (lettering on a VAST pair of bloomers amongst the others and the flags) at a later Mont gathering - the one when we held the AGM there, but as it was tipping it down with rain while I was in the hold sorting out the lights and the generator I thought ‘I am going to be electrocuted if I start this thing up’ so chickened out. The Mayor liked what we had done and fortunately found it amusing. As a boat club we have done Will you be there? Huddlesford, site for the WRGBC AGM a few crazy things I suppose. I LHCRT

WRG’s own Boat Club

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WRG at 40

“We had one letter from BW which said ‘This is a candidate for future restoration’ followed by a letter saying “There’s no question of restoration” - early days at Huddersfield

Forty views for forty years

On to interview 35 and over to deepest Wales to find ‘Wheelie Bin Bob’ Dewey and find out what else he does other than zoom around on a Bradshaw. Bob had prepared a very detailed CV when he applied for the position of ‘interviewee’ and it was very useful.

Q: How and when did you first get involved with canal restoration? A: The first involvement with physical restoration was on the Kennet & Avon in Bath when I stayed with an Aunt who lived in Bath for many years, I came across these people with a dragline pulling material out of the top lock at Widcombe Locks – that would have been 1965/66 something like that. I think I may have held onto the rope – the dragline but nothing much more than that! My next involvement of any significance was when I left college and moved to Yorkshire (just south of Huddersfield – a little place called High Flatts) and discovered this derelict Huddersfield Narrow Canal which was only a few miles from where I lived. It looked in better condition than the Grand Union which I remembered as a child. I thought: “How can this canal be derelict and the Grand Union still in use?” I joined the IWA and the Peak Forest Canal Society (as it then was). I did some digging on the Ashton Canal and Marple Locks back in 197273 after the Cheshire Ring campaign had been won – it was putting the final touches to the restoration. The chairman of the IWA in West Riding said “Is anybody interested in the Huddersfield Narrow now that the Cheshire Ring’s almost complete?” and I stupidly said “Ooh yes – I’m interested” and became first secretary of the Huddersfield Canal Society and things moved on from then.

Q: How did you know about the IWA and the PFCS? A: I think we went to a canal festival in Sowerby Bridge or somewhere in West Yorkshire, there were these muddy people standing around in a tent who seemed enthusiastic and interested – I can’t remember exactly who was there but I felt I quite wanted to have a look and see what they were doing so I went to Ashton, to Marple. Although it was coming to the end of a very successful campaign it was very much shovels and there were no real machines – we had a bit of a hoist. We were digging under a bridge (which was completely silted up) and we had to shovel mud into this barrow which was then towed up a ramp and then tipped it back into the canal further up because the BW machine could get to it there. It was more than a bit Heath Robinson but it achieved what was set out to achieve. We also did some work in Marple locks where BW had kindly pressure grouted the locks but the grout had come through into the chambers – we had to break out the concrete from the inside of the chamber. But it was interesting and fun and very soon after you saw the canal restored and that was “I played a very small part but I played a part in achieving something”. Then you started looking at the Huddersfield Narrow which they were still filling in at that stage: they had this magnificent idea of cascading the locks which meant ‘let’s fill the chamber almost to the top with rubble, concrete and stuff - the water will trickle over it and it’ll be all pretty and there’ll be rainbows, salmon will leap up the cascades’. Whereas in reality the concrete either got coated in black slime or if they’d put rubbish in that was degradable the concrete would collapse into the lock. There were 74 of those and they were still cascading the last two or three when the society was formed. BW were still trying to sell bits of it off. We had one letter from the recreation department at BW which said “This is a candidate for future restoration” – something like that – promptly followed by a letter from the estates department saying “There’s no question of restoration – Mr whatever-his-namewas was quite wrong, when he said ‘restoration’ he meant something else”. Obviously cracks in BW as well at that stage.

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Q: How did you go about restoring it – what tasks were there to be done? A: We always knew it wasn’t going to be a volunteer restoration project (except in a very cosmetic sort of way), we had a couple of restorations: one was filling in pot holes in the towpath, really just to say to the public “Hey – we’re here and we’re prepared to put our effort into it”; the other was clearing out the first lock in Huddersfield which was one of the few that hadn’t been filled in at all. We organised a boat festival next to it and people came and saw these lunatics absolutely up to their necks in mud, digging out this lock. We couldn’t pump it out – we had no facilities for pumping it out. There’s a lovely photograph somewhere of people leaning over the side into the lock with no safety fencing and no hard hats. The main thing really was campaigning to persuade the authorities that restoration meant something. It was a different project from the Peak Forest where it was just derelict, this is where there was a six lane highway across the canal with no bridge, there’s a causeway containing a major sewer going across the canal virtually at water level. There’s a section that’s been sold off with a factory built on and there’s another section with a big factory built on it. It takes a lot to be credible; we had to build up credibility for a long time. We had a letter from one of the factory owners saying “Haven’t you realised they’ve built railways now, you don’t need canals” – tragically I can’t find that letter. It was about persuading the public that it did actually make sense and it could actually happen. That took a very long time. There’s a lot of luck in restoration projects and I used to say to our committee “if we get this wrong that’s the end of the Huddersfield Canal forever; if we get it right the canal will be restored”. One of the absolute classic events was when our chairman said “Would you come one Sunday morning to show some slides to this councillor in Stockport?” I thought “Do I really want to drive over to Stockport, on a Sunday morning to show some slides to this guy?” Fortunately I did because it later transpired this was the chairman of Greater Manchester planning committee. Greater Manchester were about to be abolished and they were desperate to squirrel away all the money they could and so the canal society got a cheque for 1.2 million pounds out of that. The hairs on my neck still tingle at that, not only because of seeing a cheque with not ‘000001’ but ‘1200000’, but because it could easily have not happened. People said “This society’s got money – this can actually do things”. We started off by only spending the interest but the money got spent eventually – it was the start of credibility.

Q: Have you boated the Huddersfield

Q: What was your first interaction with WRG? A: After Marple was finished Peak Forest [Canal Society] set up this Peak Forest Mobile – we went down to Stratford and did work on the Southern Stratford, we also went to the Great Ouse. It was all a bit haphazard in those days; the Great Ouse work party really sticks in my mind because we didn’t have any accommodation booked. My recollection is (somebody else may have a different view) that one of us went into an estate agents and said we’re interested in an empty property can we borrow the keys for the weekend? We stayed in this empty property for the weekend – that’s my recollection anyway. We came to the Mont – we went to various places because Peak Forest were really twiddling their thumbs thinking “We’ve got all this impetus and all this

Martin Ludgate

Narrow? A: Certainly have! Went to the festival in the first year it was reopened. It was all over in a bit of a blur really – for years you’d walked up and down bits and then we did [boated] it in three days (at that time you had to go through the tunnel in a convoy) and I want to do it again and again.

WRG at Diggle in the 1980s

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equipment and we want to do something”. I knew they wanted to come to the Huddersfield but it wasn’t opportune at that stage. It’s a big step for somebody who’s an organisation like BW or the council who’ve spent a lot of money cascading the locks, filling them in [to say] “OK guys – you can dig it out”. Again, another lucky chance, our Chairman was going to London in a train and and he sat down next to the principal engineer of BW (who was also making the same journey) and they started talking. Somehow the Chairman Chris Farrow persuaded the principal engineer that he could do this ‘trial dig’ to see what the state of the locks were at Upper Mill. It had to be called an exploratory dig – we weren’t restoring the locks but we were digging out all the material that had been dumped in there to see what was in there. Nobody ever quite explained what would happen if we decided the lock couldn’t be restored – I wasn’t going to spend weekends tipping it back in again. WRG came and helped organise those digs and then had various other work parties at the next lock up. We then did some of the work at Diggle locks with WRG. WRG played an important part.

Q: Peak Forest Mobile – what was your motivation for going out with them? A: Although I worked in an office in a collar and tie I quite like getting muddy – a few WRG people know that I like getting muddy and crawling up dirty culverts – it was something very different from my day to day life.

Q: You’ve got more involved in the IWA – festivals in particular? A: That’s really by chance – again it’s about doing something very different. People at work used to say “what are you going to do for your August Bank holiday (as it then was)” – “I’m going to Birmingham – I’m going to collect rubbish from a festival site”.

Q: What was your first National? A: I think York was the first back in the ’70s but my first involvement as Wheelie Bin Bob was I suppose Henley. Sue Burchett said “This guy needs something to do” so they called me (as they tend to do – put manager on the end of people’s titles) Waste Disposal Manager or something and it’s happened ever since.

Q: What is your job at the National?

A: Clearing the site, getting rid of

Martin Ludgate

the rubbish and organising the people to do it. We have a Bradshaw and a trailer and we trundle around the site picking up rubbish and putting plastic bags in bins. Really trying to make it a good experience – I think there’s nothing worse than going to a festival with ice cream cartons thrown on the floor and rubbish blowing about. Our aim has always been that it should look absolutely pristine all Bob and his team in action this year at Cassiobury Park through the event. It’s nice when people say it’s the tidiest festival we’ve ever been to. I think it’s part of it – yes the entertainment’s important but the canvas against which you see it is equally important.

Q: You joined the IWA in the ‘70s - have you got involved in any particular branch? A: I go to Chester Branch, I’m officially in Chester Branch but occasionally go to Shrewsbury Branch meetings. Never had any organisational roles in IWA except that professionally I’m a town planner so now I’m one of the honorary consulting planners to IWA which means that if they ever want any planning advice they turn to me. It happens in bursts, you get a few phone calls from people who have been referred to me, sometimes it’s about writing reports or giving information about how IWA could deal

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with a town planning matter. I see my role as trying to help branches who have a problem, rightly or wrongly they don’t ring me very often. With the Montgomery Trust I make planning comments on their behalf but I think most branches are reasonably keyed-up in the sense that they know they need to write letters. I have given a couple of training talks to IWA branch members on planning matters and the theme as always is “If in doubt – ask”.

Q: Where did you grow up and what was your first experience of canals? A: I grew up in North-West London and my parents always used to go out for a walk on a Sunday afternoon and very often we went on the Grand Union. Sometimes we saw loaded pairs of boats going by – that seemed quite interesting to me. I didn’t really take any specific interest – I didn’t note down names – although I took a photo of a boat in Cassiobury Park Lock. One year there weren’t any boats, that was, now with hindsight I understand, ’63 after the big freeze when BW stopped carrying. That was my first real experience of boating. Our next door neighbours bought a cruiser and we went to see it on one occasion but it never left its moorings. Then I bought half a Josher called Erik in the mid ’70s: ironside, wooden bottom Josher with a massive engine that took us quite a long time to start for the first time but never ran again. The family came along and the boat went I’m afraid. After the Huddersfield was going to be reopened we bought a share in a 60ft narrow boat [Joker] which we share with four other couples. That went to Huddersfield – that was its first major trip out for us. Normally I organise the other peoples’ holiday by saying “We’re going down to St Ives, Watford or whatever – you’d like two weeks before that would you like to take it to Stoke Bruerne – and would you [to another couple] like to bring it back two weeks after us?” and they tamely say “Ooh – that’s a good idea”. Not realising it’s part of my master plan to get down to the National without using up all my holiday. It works very well for us.

Q: The Mont - you said you attended the first work party? A: The first Peak Forest [Canal Society] work party was down at the Newtown end clearing the water supply from River Severn. We scrabbled about up to our knees in the River Severn digging – there’s a feeder at that end of the canal. Don’t know if it’s been cleared out since, but it was where Peak Forest started. My first week’s camp was on Lock 4 at Frankton in the days when the canal got as far as the bottom of the lock and was dry thereafter. That first camp was led by one Neil Edwards. Then somebody in IWA nominated me as the IWA’s representative to the Montgomery Trust and then their secretary left so they said “You would like to be secretary wouldn’t you?” sometimes I don’t have that word “no” in my vocabulary. I’ve been secretary for ten years or so – maybe more. The Mont project ought to have been completed years and year ago but never quite seems to hit the button and go turbo – it gets quite close.

Q: What other camps did you do? A: I don’t know whether I ever did any other camps except as leader – I’ve led quite a few canal camps. I’ve led camps on Stroudwater, Wilts & Berks, Hereford & Gloucester - they were fun.

Q: Your CV also says you claimed the record for attending approx 45 weekend work parties in 1989? A: That was the first year after I left Yorkshire and I had moved to Leicestershire and didn’t really have much going on so I went out with BITM, North-West, London, KESCRG. Living in Leicester, I used to say it’s two hours to anywhere – I could get to Stroudwater, Wilts & Berks, Montgomery all within two hours, Pocklington, Ashby, Lancaster... Q: Are there any particular people you remember? A: I think there are a lot of people who put contributions in, John Palmer and I worked together a lot of times. John Foley was one of the people I’d first contacted when the Huddersfield Narrow was first being proposed, he wrote me a very nice long letter saying hadn’t I noticed that Stalybridge had been filled in? Yes I had!! It was a very thoughtful letter [made me think it was] not so crazy as I first thought. The Burchetts.

Q: What are you most proud of about your involvement? A: The Huddersfield has got to be really an achievement – I mean people call it ‘the impossible

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restoration’, I don’t know who actually said that but if I’d known it was going to be impossible I probably wouldn’t have started the restoration. But it’s nice to feel I had part of that and that things I did hopefully were key in that coming to fruition. We mentioned at one point that 1.2 million pound cheque – it still makes my hairs stand up on the back of my neck to think I had 1.2 million pounds in my hand and that came partly as a result of something I did.

Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: Undoubtedly that WRG has proved ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist in their vocabulary – even canals like the Hereford & Gloucester which had been closed for over a century I think. The Wilts & Berks was started by the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group (of which I was a member), they couldn’t even, they daren’t even say the Wilts & Berks Restoration Group. At that time it was crazy, it was an absolutely ludicrous idea to restore that canal and now they’re proving everybody wrong and it really is happening big time. I think WRG has co-ordinated and we moved on. In many ways I’m sad because I used to love digging silt off the bottom of a lock chamber – soft silt – just shovelling. If you’re using your brain all week just to be able to do something mindblowingly dull and boring but you’re actually seeing something – it’s very satisfying.

Q: What would you say WRG is not so good at? A: My view is that WRG perhaps isn’t advancing – we’re still doing a lot of labour intensive jobs. I would love to see WRG moving into more of a construction phase – I think we’ve got the skills and confidence to put road bridges back. The Wilts & Berks, for example, has a lot of lanes going across it where the bridge has gone but the lane doesn’t get much use but we could put a bridge back. I’d love for us to demonstrate doing something like that. I know a lot of people hate concrete culverts – big square concrete box culverts to make bridges – well they’re ugly but they’re practical. Why don’t we get some moulds made for lovely curved shaped culverts? If we cast a few of them – which we know we’ve got the competence to do. If we persuade a local authority this lane isn’t terribly busy and it wouldn’t matter if we closed it for a week whilst we did it. Once we’ve done one and proved we can do it in a reasonable timescale I think we could start really marching ahead. Yes it’s fun digging mud out of the bottom of a lock chamber but it’s a not good use of peoples’ time and labour. I’d like WRG to move in that direction I think.

Q: What’s changed for canal restoration in the time you’ve been involved? A: It’s changed in that we have modernised – the little half tonne (I think) dumpers have pretty much gone, we’ve got our own excavators. Smalleys were a small excavator that had two wheels and sort of walked to sites and it took an inordinately long time; you sort of walked one step then you drew something back and then walked another step and it took you a week to get to the site. They were early mechanical excavators, didn’t do very much but they were the beginning of saying to the world “We aren’t just picks and shovels - we are moving on”. Equipment’s all numbered and maintained and organised - which was all a bit haphazard at times. We’ve got our own catering kit – we used to have to take our own plates, knives and forks to camps, I had little symbols marked on mine so I could spot which were mine and bring them home at the end of the weekend.

Q: Has anyone in particular inspired you? west team – I’ve enjoyed working with the Northwest people. I don’t think I use the word inspired, not because I don’t think there are people who have been fun to work with but I suppose part of the enjoyment is that we’ve learnt together.

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Chris Griffiths

A: I think a lot of the North-

One small step forward: the Smalley walking excavator

John Hawkins

Q: What is your favourite derelict canal? A: I do enjoy the Wilts & Berks. It’s good because it’s got lots of things to do and it’s a link – canals which are cul-de-sacs are never going to be as attractive I think. Remote canals are perhaps never going to be as attractive – the Lancaster is a fantastic canal and I think the Hereford & Gloucester is as well but you sometimes think part of canal restoration has to be that the end product is used and usable and all these cost-benefit reports that we’ve commissioned actually deliver. It would be an absolute disaster if anything we’ve restored gets abandoned because the resources aren’t there to look Favourite: The Wilts & Berks at Steppingstones Bridge after it. I was always worried [about] the Huddersfield, about how many jobs it was going to create and how much money it was going to create - people said “nobody will ever use all the locks” and you think deep down (although I love locks) are they right? I think the Hereford & Gloucester is hopefully long enough to survive on its own but I suspect there’s going to be quite a few people who are a bit doubtful about going on the half-tidal Severn to get to it, I hope in some way that can be made easier. Q: Have you any madcap restoration plans for canals? A: That’s partly the planner in me that sees the gaps in maps and thinks “Ooh – why isn’t there a bit?” One of the things is the London to Cambridge Canal. Now the River Cam and the Great Ouse probably doesn’t get that many visitors ’cos it’s such a heck of a long way to get to it - when we took Joker to the St Ives festival one couple took Joker to Peterborough and handed over – that was a fair trek even for them and we still had a fantastic two weeks on the Ouse. To get to the River Lea and River Stort is a long way from most of the canal system - so why could we not put the join between the River Stort and the Cam? There was an Act of Parliament to build the London to Cambridge Canal - when you look on a map the distance isn’t very far and there’s a thin blue line that goes most of the way. I think that’s well worth thinking about!

Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: I think it’s got to continue to grow and to continue to build up a professional approach to canal restoration. I think it mustn’t lose sight of the fact it’s supposed to be fun. One of the worst things at the end of canal camps was always counting the number of spoons and ticking off on lists which was vitally important – but you’ve just done a week of canal restoration.

Q: Do you have any classic ‘do you remember the time when stories’? A: There are lots of things I remember doing like crawling up culverts which at one time was my speciality. We went down to Bude, on Bude there are these inclined planes with bucket pits where they had huge buckets that went down in a vertical pit to pull the boats up the slope. We were pottering around at the bottom of the inclined plane clearing out the bottom basin and we were told that the bucket pits had long since been destroyed and filled in and didn’t exist anymore - a couple of us crawled up this culvert and stood in these bucket pits and they were absolutely immaculate – perfect condition (I think the buckets had gone). People telling you one thing – don’t believe what people say. On the Huddersfield the first blockage was the six lane highway in Huddersfield and I spoke to one of the resident engineers who’d been involved filling it in, he said “the bridge was there but we hand packed it with stone and pressure grouted it with concrete – don’t try and dig there – dig next to it – you’ll never break through all the concrete we put in it”. So the contractors turn up to build this bridge and the first brick they move all the rubble falls out - they didn’t put any concrete in. Beware what people tell you.

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WRG at 40

“we had to make the point to Manchester that we absolutely weren’t wanting someone else to do it. We were prepared to do it ourselvess” - Robin Higgs on Op Ash

Forty views for forty years

Many, many people had suggested I interview candidate number 36 so I headed to Basingstoke Canal country to meet Robin Higgs and find out exactly what involvement he’s had over the years. Robin was surrounded by a wealth of WRG memorabilia including a copy of every issue of Navvies (which he still reads avidly) and his signing on booklet for Operation Ashton. It was an absolute pleasure to listen to Robin’s story.

Q: How and when did you first get involved with

John Elliott

canal restoration? A: First contact with canals would have been in 1962 when the IWA London & Home Counties Branch organised a boat rally in Woking – that was my first encounter with the waterways – it came into my consciousness. Then in ’66, my mother used to go to lectures at the Workers Education Association, they had a visit by Hugh McKnight and Viscount St Davids [from] St Pancras Cruising Club. They talked about canals – we went along and heard this, my brother and I. Tim Dodwell was a name that came up because he was the organiser of the working parties side of London & Home Counties. My mother contacted him and said “I’ve got two strong lads – how about giving them a job restoring the canals?” So we contacted Tim, got involved and started work on the Kennet & Avon. Actual physical work started on the Kennet & Avon – just west of Reading.

Q: So it was your mother that encouraged you? A: She was always the one pushing us into things a little bit - one of the grandmothers was a suffragette – the ladies in our family were always very outgoing and involved in things. My mother really was the one who said “It’s a wonderful movement”. [It was] not well understood in those days, all our working in those days was very much related to campaigning because people didn’t understand waterway restoration at all. We had to make a case for it being something sensible to do.

Q: You started on the Kennet & Avon – can you remember what kind of jobs you were doing?

A: It was very much bank clearing, clearing towpaths, opening it up. Q: What motivated you to carry on? A: I find water’s a fascinating element; just the idea that you could float on a boat through the countryside I find a very engaging and attractive idea.

Q: Where were you living at this time? A: Living here in Chobham on the Surrey/Hampshire border. The Dodwells lived in Chertsey at that time, Jim Woolgar and others who eventually became Waterway Recovery Group were all in this area. In 1966 the next major factor was the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society being formed and I joined that, I went to the inaugural meeting and was involved really right from day one. It was very much a local and London orientated sort of centre for canal work. From ’66 until 1970, until we formed WRG at the National Rally in Guildford, it was the London & Home Counties [IWA] Branch. We did a lot of driving over the country, the Stourbridge 16 we drove up there, I remember staying on a narrow boat in the Bumblehole in the freezing winter weather with no heating - we had to break the ice outside to get some water to wash. In a way I’m slightly unusual because I worked on most of the rallies, the Marple flight up on the Peak Forest, Welshpool, all sorts of places and eventually got very involved in the

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Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society’s [Basingstoke Canal] restoration and became its chairman in 1974.

Q: How did WRG come about? A: It was a natural evolution from the London & Home Counties working party group which was very much South-East oriented. We had the Peak Forest people up there working, there was a lot going on in the Midlands of course - it was just realised that it should have a much wider appeal. Graham [Palmer] was very much a member of the Home Counties team with Tim [Dodwell] being chairman and Graham being editor, so it was from that they realised that it’s got to get bigger, it’s got to become national – a good taking off point was the National Rally at Guildford of which I was the site director. We were quite an irreverent lot because IWA Council used to meet on the Saturday morning of rallies in those days, we had decided to make a headline-grabbing event, we were going to have a ‘piano smashing up’ – it’s dreadful to think of it now isn’t it? – we were going to break a piano up and pass it through a six inch pipe. We were told by Council that it wasn’t the sort of image waterways should be proposing and so we didn’t do it but we had a stand there; a local plant hire firm had brought in equipment and that was the time Waterway Recovery Group was formed.

Q: What role did you play with WRG in those early days? A: Very much working party. When we move on to some of the bigger things like Op Ash [Operation Ashton] in ’68 and Ashtac I was involved in the site planning. I used be Graham’s driver a lot of the time – he didn’t like driving on the motorways so we had to flog all round Birmingham on the A5 from Finchley – it used to take us hours to get anywhere. I was involved in the planning of Op Ash, where we decided plant would be distributed - so it’s very much on the practical restoration side. That was an amazing event. Back to my point about campaigning, we had to make the point to Manchester and to Droylsden and Ashton that we absolutely weren’t wanting someone else to do it. We were prepared to do it ourselves and get stuck in – we had hundrds of people that came from all over the country. It changed the whole perception of volunteers.

Q: Any particularly lasting memories from that weekend? A: Had all sorts of interesting things to do – we had a dispute with the council as to whether we were taking rubbish out of the canal which was in Ashton and putting it on Manchester’s tips. I had to ride shotgun with the lorries to make certain that they knew where the rubbish had come from. The impact of it was just dramatic in the end. We had all the dumpers halfway up the flight in a patch of land above the towpath, in those days dumpers were two wheel drive forward tipping dumpers. I slept in a marquee overnight because of vandalism – you daren’t put anything down, it would disappear. First job in the morning was to drive dumpers down on to the towpath, now a two wheel drive dumper on a steep slope you have to go down backwards – if you go forwards it runs away with you. There wasn’t the same sort of training in those days that you have with WRG now so I did things like taking all the dumpers so that they didn’t all end up in the canal... which one of them did...

Q: Ashtac was ’72? A: Again we had monorails and all sorts of things to cope with. Vast numbers, ages to book in. I think it was Ashtac we had to move our sleeping quarters – we took over some gas showrooms to sleep in. It was such a lot of fun – volunteering has to fun at the end of the day otherwise people won’t continue with it. For a project to be successful you’ve got to have strong leadership and good teamwork. This was all that was sort of being built around Graham – he was very much a visionary and very keen on inclusiveness. He made certain when we were working, say on the Southern Stratford, everyone got involved. Graham was very keen to see that it didn’t get too cliquey. We used to do funny things like tummy thumping where we used to charge at each other and see who you could push over...

Q: In the ‘70s WRG was very much weekend digs – the concept of a canal camp came later? A: Yes – the modern canal camp system came on much later. We had Droitwich dig, Welshpool nearly always Friday to Sunday. One of the things that did change, when we had the camp in ’77 on Basingstoke Canal – the Deepcut Dig – I believe that was a defining moment in the organisation of these massive working parties in that we did a lot of work beforehand. The canal society had a lot of volunteers, we had a quite a working party structure so we did a lot of preparation. When everyone

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came for the Deepcut Dig it was all constructive work, there was virtually no scrub bashing – the scaffolding was already in the locks and the bricks were there. When Deepcut Dig was over a lot of positive work was done – it wasn’t just a lot left over from bonfires – it was quite a sea change in the way the digs were looked upon.

Q: Welshpool was in 1969? A: Yes – Welshpool was great fun; Chris Griffiths

the weather was awful, we had thick fog. We found a plug in the bed of the canal below the lock near Welshpool town centre. I was inDeepcut Dig: first Big Dig with constructive work volved with running Coventry Climax fire pumps all night trying to pump the section of the canal out. Again, they were weekends, they weren’t week digs at all. Always it was the publicity that we needed, the whole concept that amateurs could actually do professional work and of course WRG’s a prime example of how it’s become very professional.

Q: What was your background? A: My life has always been in horticulture on the land, so I’ve always been used to tractors, plant and equipment and repairing things. It’s a very practical, hands-on life.

Q: Going back to the Basingstoke and the Surrey and Hants Canal Society in 1966... A: The canal at that stage had become quite dried, derelict. There were some places where it had water in but it had got to a position where the owners of the Basingstoke Canal Company had thought they would like to divest themselves of it. They had very little income and were wondering what they should do with it other than develop it. Of course Jim Woolgar started it off with letters in the local papers saying “it’s a tragedy the canal’s just lying there derelict and it’s about time we did something about it”. There was a meeting in Woking and nearly 200 people attended, the committee was formed and it sort of went on from there. I was very involved on the working parties side but I didn’t join the committee – I was the chairman throughout the whole of the restoration ’74 – ’91 but from ’66 to ’73 I was very involved in working. I was still working much more over the country you see. I came back from working nationally with the Ashtacs and all these sort of things and then, partly because of work and time, I got more involved locally. The Basingstoke’s only three or four miles away and it’s a very, very beautiful canal. It was quite a campaign that was mounted, it started to come into public ownership in Hampshire in ’74 and then in Surrey in ’76. [Before that] the owners didn’t like us; we had to work in the name of a residents’ association and things like that – there was an injunction stopping the canal society from doing work. It was all quite a fraught time but we were very keen and very sure. Canal restoration is all about quality of life for the future – for our children and grandchildren. If we don’t save these things (like railway preservation), once they’re gone it’s very difficult to get them back again.

Q: What were the difficult things about the Basingstoke Canal? A: 29 locks, a lot of different authorities to cope with and not an awful lot of money either. I set up a partnership with the county council and local authorities and which really, simply said “if you provide what money you can we will provide the labour”. The big schemes on the Basingstoke Canal were nearly all Manpower Services Commission (a whole gamut of projects) all handled through the canal society – we gave the undertaking to the authorities that we’d be the vehicle for restoration. We had a lot of support locally – a lot of people were in favour. There isn’t a very good water supply – something we’re still addressing now.

page 20

Q: There’s a lot of people who’ve had input into the Basingstoke Canal A: If you’re talking of people that influenced me obviously there were people like [Robert] Aickman who I got to know a bit and who I corresponded with. He always said when he gave talks around the country on canals everybody asked about the Basingstoke Canal – he thought the reason was all the army bases in the area. The guards’ depot at Pirbright had a swimming pool in the canal – there was a diving board. It was somehow in the national psyche. With our MPs, politically we were in a fairly strong position – we had people like Cranley Onslow (secretary of state) and he was supportive, Lord Onslow himself would ask questions in the Lords. We managed to get quite a lot of political clout – it’s partly where we are, close to London – we needed all of it.

Q: The canal was restored in ’91? A: We reopened it in 1991 with the Duke of Kent coming along – it was a wonderful event. I was very honoured to be able to speak on behalf of the volunteers there. My wife wasn’t invited onto the boat – lots of political people and not too many volunteers get involved in these things. When I was being piped on board sort of thing, the Duke’s equerry said to my wife “Aren’t you coming on board?” and she said “No – I haven’t been invited” – he said “Oh yes you are – come on board”. I was delighted about that.

Q: What’s your involvement now? A: I’m a vice president but still working as a - consultant’s not the right word – maybe an advisor. One of the things over the years I have been able to do is to make a lot of contacts – I do quite a lot of liaising work. I’m still a consultant with IWA Restoration Committee (ResCom) – it’s a lot of linking work and advice I suppose. Two things I’ve always wanted to put together are the people who do the work (so WRG and us the working party people) and the politicians who form policy and strategy. It is those two, it has always been my desire to put together. I started the Southern Canals Association in 1975, had people like Mike Day, Graham Palmer there – really to stop people reinventing the wheel. Now it’s got easier in these days of electronic communication but in the ’60s there weren’t [those things] - I was very keen on team work and team building. I was Restoration Committee chairman from 1996 to 2000 and whatever – an IWA Trustee. One of the things I was keen to do was to put ResCom and WRG together – that’s why I dragged Master Martin Ludgate onto ResCom. I fairly much like to bang heads together and make people talk together.

Q: Have you boated the Basingstoke? A: Yes I have – I haven’t got a boat myself. One of my abiding happy memories is going up the flight with David and Audrey Smith quite a few years ago.

Harry Arnold

Q: Did Audrey Smith ask you to become the Restoration Committee chair? A: She did – at that time there had been some interesting times in the IWA over restoration and Audrey Smith as chairman (and she is one of the best chairman I have ever worked under – she was a visionary chairman, I’ve got such a lot of time for Audrey) she invited me to come in (I wasn’t a member) to take on its chairmanship and look at restructuring ResCom. I was a bit uncertain as what my reception would be being brought in from outside but I have to say they were all brilliant - all the people I worked with: Tony Harrison and Roy Sutton who are Nearly a piano-smashing contest: WRG at Guildford 1970 such a link between WRG and the IWA. I was very pleased to do it – it was a very enjoyable time.

page 21

There was quite a lot to do, very much the way Restoration Committee works now is as we developed it then. It’s added a few more bits and pieces but pretty much as we set it up. Travelling round the country is something I wanted us to do. I didn’t want to have meetings in London or something – they still go everywhere – to be with the people doing the work.

Q: Jumping back again to WRG in the 70s A: Even before then – we’d had the Southern Stratford reopened in ’64 by the Queen Mother. As we

Harry Arnold

know it was opened rather than restored so we had rather a lot of work to do there. Things like working at Edstone Aqueduct - fun and games when we were on a learning curve with sheet piling. It had been opened but it wasn’t getting much use – Wilmcote Flight and all sorts of things needing work doing on them. The canal was National Trust owned in those days and there wasn’t much money and the canal really was not doing too well. David Hutchings was on the scene of course – he’d been the one with the Stratford and the Upper Avon – I got involved in that one as well. My goodness, he was a charismatic character! We restored a lock on the Upper Avon – we drove two rows of sheet piling and dug it out and got a new lock and a river cut in absolutely no time flat. We Building bywashes during one of the Stratford Blitzes did things people didn’t believe could be done. Stratford Blitz came on a bit later – I used to drive Graham up there. Another little memory is being in the village hall at Lowsonford – about 10 o’clock at night we heard a Bolinder coming up the canal and the place emptied in about two seconds flat!! I remember the Fleur de Lys pies as well, they were lovely pies that we used to have on a Saturday evening.

Q: You mentioned Stourbridge? A: Yes - the Stourbridge Sixteen – IWA, I think, were persona non grata with Waterways [BW] so the work was instigated by the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Society and it was David Tomlinson who spent two to three years on the Stourbridge Flight of locks. They were very derelict, the lock gates were all falling apart and the chambers were full of mud. With London & Home Counties we used to go up for the weekend, John Dodwell was one of them, my brother Peter as well. We would be clearing out a lock at the weekend near one of the bottle kilns and we had about the most unstable vessel known to man: a narrow boat as a mud boat. We used to fill this up – it was wheelbarrows and planks and barrow runs filling up the mud boat (called Wallace) and then it was someone else’s job to empty it. That was very important - the Stourbridge Sixteen which opened in either late ’66 or early ’67 was another critical link on the BCN. I went up there quite a bit.

Q: And Droitwich? A: Yes – the Droitwich Dig – we had a canal there absolutely full up of reeds. There were some sections in water and some dry sections there – a lot of Droitwich was to do with clearing out the channel. We had Hymacs [excavators] there and one of the things about using the Hymacs – I remember my brother saying to Graham “I think to work properly we need to get the Hymacs in the bed of the canal – just not on the banks”. I remember Graham being uncertain a little bit as whether he dared put Hymacs in the bottom, whether we’d lose them. But in the end, that’s what he did. We did a lot of work there and then there was a big time lapse before it all got picked up again. Lovely to see it open now.

page 22

Q: What was a typical car journey with Graham Palmer like? A: It would be a Friday evening and it would be a flog from here up to Finchley then driving up to Birmingham or to Marple. For the Peak Forest there was a Dr Boucher had a house with a cellar and we had the key to that so you can imagine by the time we’d driven up from London to Manchester it was midnight. There was another wonderful chap – Chris Burton – he was full of stories, we didn’t get an awful lot of sleep when we got up there. They were long journeys, Graham didn’t like motorways so I wasn’t allowed to go on the motorways, we went all the way up the ordinary roads.

Q: You were very active in the working parties in the 70s – what was the next progression for you? A: With beginning to get a young family I had a little bit less time to go swan about all over the country so I changed the emphasis a little bit – it was the Basingstoke Canal that took most of my time.

Q: But you’ve kept an interest in WRG? A: I still do – very much so. I’ve got such a lot of time for Mike Palmer – he’s a great lad - bringing a healthy dose of irreverence to the job. If you work on the land all your life, as I have, and you have to put up with the weather you’re a bit of a rebel. Then when I’ve become chairman of this that and the other I’m looked on as part of the establishment, I’m always slightly ill at ease with that thought. I’m really one of the lads.

Q: What are you most proud of about your involvement? A: In two ways: generally in how the movement itself has become so much more a professional part of people’s thinking about canals – I’m very pleased about the way WRG and all of us have evolved into credible organisations. I’m also delighted about the Basingstoke – to remember it as a derelict canal and to be able to boat on it now is something I’m very proud of. All the people I’ve met – one always gets more out of volunteering than you put in, I’ve gained a lot of friends. In 2003 I was honoured by being invested with the Order of the British Empire for services to conversation and heritage. Everyone says it I know - it is On Behalf of Everyone else – it really is.

Q: What is WRG’s greatest achievement? A: It’s become a very credible, professional organisation which will stand in good stead compared to anyone else. It also does it in a way where there’s a lot of fun and camaraderie because if that doesn’t happen it won’t work – if people don’t enjoy it they vote with their feet. WRG has developed, as it had to in these litigious days, into a sound organisation but it is also very conscious of the humanities and people. I’d love to see more emphasis being put into young people in its involvement.

Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: It’s evolved a lot into its working camp format – I’m not sure there’s much else you can evolve – it seems to have stabilised in an acceptable way. I hope it will go on as it is – I’m not sure I’d like WRG to change too much.

Q: Who’s inspired you? Which characters have stood out over the years? A: It would have to come in the first instance from people like Aickman, Viscount St Davids and Hugh McKnight – the people who inspired me to think this is something I’m going to be interested in. Very much Graham as well – I had a lot of time for Graham – he certainly was inspirational. Audrey Smith in recent times, I’ve found she was someone I’d admired greatly for the way she ran the IWA. Alan Jervis, I was on council with him. I have an awful lot of time for Alan, he’s a very thoughtful person. He had a conscience – there was the thought of IWA joining with the British Boat Builders Federation and the case Alan made as to why it wasn’t the way forward I was very impressed by it, his thinking, his perception about it.

Q: Is there anything else you wanted to say? A: I’m just very happy to have been part of it all – I’m a very ordinary guy and I’m happy to have been part of it – I still am. There’s still a lot to do and there always will be. Number 36 done and the end is in sight! Next interview in next Navvies – I’m not saying who! Helen Gardner

page 23

Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties

Aug 24-31 Camp 201318 Mon & Brec Canal: Heritage construction skills, vegetation clearance. Aug 24-31 Camp 201319 Chesterfield Canal: Constructing the new Staveley Town Lock. Aug 31-Sep 7Camp 201320 Swansea Canal: Clearing vegetation and reinstating coping stones, plus Sep 1 Sun IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Hythe Bridge, Oxford. Litter pick & veg clearance ready for Sep 6-12 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend Fri-Thu. Bed & bank lining. Sep 7/8 KESCRG Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold dredging. Accom at Plaistow. Sep 7/8 London WRG Chesterfield Canal Sep 7 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Sep 11 Wed wrgNW Ad Hoc meeting, 7.30pm Sep 12 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Painting bridge at Hazelhurst Junction. 10am-3pm Sep 14/15 NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: NOTE NEW DATE. Dunsfold, or Hunt Park, or Gosd Sep 19 Thu IWA Warks Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat Sep 21/22 wrgBITM Ashby Canal: Lock chamber clearance. Sep 21/22 wrgNW Hollinwood Canal: (Possible venue) Sep 21 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat Sep 21 Sat IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amSep 21 Sat IWA Notts/DerbyNottingham Canal: Cleanup, Beeston Cut & Nottingham Canal 10am-4p Sep 22 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Sep 24 Tue IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Painting bollards, etc ready for Banbury Canal Day. Lock Sep 28/29 London WRG Cotswold Canals: Ham Mill Lock. Half-AGM. Sep 28 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, lit Oct 4-10 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend Fri-Thu. Bed & bank lining. Oct 5/6 KESCRG Cotswold Canals: Ham Mill Lock. To be confirmed. Oct 5/6 wrgNW To be arranged Oct 12 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Oct 13 Sun IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Task & location TBC Oct 15 Tue IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amOct 17 Thu IWA Warks Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat Oct 18/19/20 IWA MK Grand Union Canal: Bi-annual Canal Cleanup in Milton Keynes area Oct 19/20 wrgBITM Wendover Arm: To be confirmed Oct 19/20 London WRG Somersetshire Coal Canal Oct 19 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pat Oct 19/20 IWA Manchester Operation Starburst: Canal Cleanup in 5 locations. Meet Portland Basin Oct 26 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, li Oct 26-Nov 2 Camp 201321 Chelmer & Blackwater: Bank protection, towpath construction and vege Oct 26-Nov 2 Camp 201322 Uttoxeter Canal: WRG Forestry Oct 27 Sun IWA SY&D Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation: Canal Cleanup at Tinsley. 10am Nov 1-7 WAT Wendover Arm: ‘Seven-day weekend’ Fri-Thu. Bed & bank lining. Nov 2/3 wrgNW To be arranged

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

page 24

Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201315' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, enquiries@wrg.org.uk. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, dave.wedd@wrgbitm.org.uk

s repointing brickwork. Oxford Open Doors. Stefanie Preston Roger Leishman Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis David McCarthy Jean Helliwell Bob Luscombe den Aqueduct. Bill Nicholson th work. 10am-3pm Brian Bayston Dave Wedd David McCarthy th work. 10am-4pm Brian Bayston -4pm Bob Luscombe pm at Beeston Lock Alison Smedley Mike Palmer k 29, 10am-4pm Stefanie Preston Tim Lewis tter pick 10am-4pm Ian Price Roger Leishman Bobby Silverwood David McCarthy David McCarthy Bob Luscombe -4pm Bob Luscombe th work. 10am-3pm Brian Bayston David King Dave Wedd Tim Lewis th work. 10am-4pm Brian Bayston n, Ashton 10am-4pmAlison Smedley tter pick 10am-4pm Ian Price etation clearance


Mavis Paul Roger Leishman David McCarthy

01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01442-874536 07971-814986 07802-518094 01706-211377

enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk stefanie.preston@waterways.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com bobby@kescrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk

07710-054848 01844-343369 01926-831508 01252-874437 01706-211377 01926-831508 07710-054848 01538-385388 01564-785293 01494-783453 07802-518094 07971-444258 01442-874536 07971-814986 01706-211377 01706-211377 07710-054848 07710-054848 01926-831508

bobluscombe@btinternet.com bill@nwpg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk stefanie.preston@waterways.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk chairman@manchester-iwa.co.uk rwleishman@gmail.com bobby@kescrg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk

01252-874437 07802-518094 01926-831508 07779-090915 07971-444258 01494-783453 01494-783453 07725-464611 01442-874536 01706-211377

bobluscombe@btinternet.com bobluscombe@btinternet.com info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk davidjsking@talktalk.net bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk chairman@manchester-iwa.co.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk mavis.paul@waterways.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com nw@wrg.org.uk

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 25

Navvies diary

Mobile groups' socials: phone to confirm London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig. 'Star Tavern' Belgrave Mews West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 NWPG: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Phil Dray 07956 185305

Canal societies’ regular working parties Every Tuesday BCA Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS Thursdays Sep-Apr BCT 2nd Sun & alternate Thu BuCS Every Mon and Wed CCT Every mon am Thu pm CCT Various dates CCT Every Sunday ChCT Every Tuesday CSCT Every Tue & Wed C&BN 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Second Sun of month FIPT 2nd weekend of month GCS 2nd Sat of month GWCT Tuesdays H&GCT Weekends H&GCT Wednesdays H&GCT Thursdays H&GCT Every Sunday if required IWPS Every day KACT 2nd Sunday of month LCT 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat LHCRT 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Last weekend of month MBBCS Two Sundays per month NWDCT Every Thu & Sat, Apr-Sep SORT 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Every Wed and 1st Sat RGT 2nd Sunday of month SCARS 1st Sunday of month SCCS Last weekend of month SCS 2nd Sunday of month SNT Thu and Tue Apr-Sep SORT 1st weekend of month SUCS Every Tuesday morning TMCA Every Sunday & Thurs WACT Mondays (2 per month) WACT Wednesdays WACT Wednesdays WACT Sundays mainly WACT Thursdays WACT Various dates WACT 1st w/e of month (Fri-Thu) WAT

Basingstoke Canal Chris Healy BCN waterways Mike Rolfe Basingstoke Canal Duncan Paine Aqueduct section Tim Dingle Buckingham area Athina Beckett Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby Cotswold (E end) John Maxted Cotswold Phase 1a Jon Pontefract Chesterfield Canal Mick Hodgetts Chichester Canal Malcolm Maddison Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale Langley Mill Michael Golds Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech Grantham Canal Ian Wakefield Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd Oxenhall Brian Fox Over Wharf House Maggie Jones Over / Vineyard Hill Ted Beagles Herefordshire Wilf Jones Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar Bradford-on-Avon Derrick Hunt Lancaster N. Reaches Paul Shaw Lichfield Sue Williams Hatherton Denis Cooper Creams Paper Mill Steve Dent N Walsham Canal David Revill Sussex Ouse Ted Lintott Pocklington Canal Paul Waddington Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird Sankey Canal Colin Greenall Combe Hay Locks Derrick Hunt Stover Canal George Whitehead Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby Sussex Ouse Ted Lintott Newhouse Lock Mike Friend Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish varied construction Eric Walker tidying road crossings John Empringham Tickner's Heath Depot John Smith maintenance work Peter Jackman Loxwood Link Kev Baker Winston Harwood Grp Tony Clear Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman

01252-370073 07763-171735 01252-614125 01288-361356 01908-661217 01453-836018 01285-861011 07986-351412 01246-620695 01243-775201 01376-334896 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2128 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 522648 01452 413888 0161-427 7402 01225-863066 01524-35685 01543-671427 01543-374370 07802-973228 01603-738648 01444-414413 01757-638027 01394-380765 01744-731746 01225-863066 01626-775498 01522-856810 01444-414413 01948-880723 01732-823725 023-9246-3025 01483-562657 01903-235790 01483-772132 02380-861074 01903-774301 01403-753882 01442-874536

If you have any additions / corrections / deletions to this list, please send them to Navvies diary compiler Dave Wedd (see previous page)

page 26

Navvies diary Canal & River Trust ‘Towpath Taskforce’ working parties Following recent discussions in Navvies in which the feeling of most contributors was in favour of the idea of working with the Canal & River Trust following the changeover from British Waterways, we have decided to list CRT’s regular volunteer working parties. These are on navigable canals, carrying out tasks such as vegetation control, hedge maintenance, painting and litter clearance. All volunteers welcome. 4th Thursday of month 3rd Thursday of month 2nd Thursday of month 4th Thursday of month Weds and Thurs 1st Saturday of month 4th Thursday of month 3rd Saturday of month Alternate Tuesdays 3rd Saturday of month 3rd Saturday of month Alternate Fridays Every other Wednesday 4th Saturday of month Every Tuesday 4th Saturday of month 3rd Thursday of month 2nd Friday of month 1st Mon & Wed of month Last Sunday of month 2nd Saturday of month 3rd Thursday of month

Bath Kennet & Avon Devizes Kennet & Avon Newbury Kennet & Avon Bath Kennet & Avon Droitwich Droitwich Canal Fradley Trent & Mersey Gailey Staffs & Worcs Lapworth Stratford Canal Leicester Grand Union/Soar London Grand Union/Lee near Selby Selby Canal Stoke Caldon / T&M Tamworth Coventry Canal Tipton BCN Wigan Leeds & Liverpool Manchester Ashton / Peak Forest Welshpool Montgomery Canal Huddersfield Huddersfield Broad Hatton Grand Union Canal Hawkesbury Coventry/Oxford Aylesbury Grand Union Cheshire T&M/Macclesfield

Rob Labus Rob Labus Rob Labus Rob Labus Suzanne Byrne Tom Freeland Murray Woodward Murray Woodward Tom Freeland Becky Williams Lucy Dockray Tom Freeland Tom Freeland Murray Woodward Katie Jackson Steve O’Sullivan Paul Corner Claire McDonald Murray Woodward Miriam Tedder Miriam Tedder Hazel Mayow

07711-403479 07711-403479 07711-403479 07711-403479 07900-276544 01827-252010

see below see below 01827-252010 07799-436816 07767383736 01827 252010 01827 252010 see below 07500823753 07887 684707 see below 07920295943 see below 07775 543990 07775 543990 07920 466237

Contact details for CRT Towpath Taskforce working parties: All CRT volunteer co-ordinators can be contacted using email addresses of the form firstname.surname@canalrivertrust.org.uk, for example rob.labus@canalrivertrust.org.uk for the Kennet & Avon. For those where no phone number is given above, either use email or try the national CRT enquiries number 03030 404040.


Basingstoke Canal Authority Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Basingstoke 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 Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust


Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society 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

page 27


On the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal’s water supply, letters after one’s name, and singing Jerusalem from the same hymn sheet

to the editor


Dear Martin Having spent a very significant amount of ‘leisure time’ over the past 25 years helping to promote and advance the case for a restored Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal I am prone to passionately ‘defend’ the cause at times. That’s no excuse, however, for failing to follow the advice of ‘think twice before you write once’ and getting the tone of my letter to Navvies 258 rather wide of the mark, quite obviously offending some readers when that was not my intention. I also wrongly attributed the words “waste of time” as a quote from Phil Scott’s letter for which I unreservedly apologise. My letter prompted your thought-provoking editorial in Navvies 258. You point out that those of us deeply involved in the detail of a specific restoration may not appreciate that WRGie reasons for attending a canal camp might be totally unconnected with our overall restoration objective and that they might not be interested in the wider picture. As you say we can all “do a little better” - so thank you for permitting me space to answer some specific questions that are now raised by your correspondents. Mike Day asks about water supply. In the early day of securing route protection in the then Local Plans we had to convince the local authorities that the restoration project was viable. The Birmingham University School of Civil Engineering carried out an independent study involving data from British Waterways (relating to modern day demands of a similar narrow canal), the Environment Agency and other sources. This concluded that adequate water supplies would be available to meet modern day leisure demands utilising some of the historic sources, a number of identified new ones and by implementing effective water conservation techniques including back pumping. The first phase of one of the new sources has already been successfully implemented at Over where we are taking surplus water from the nearby River Leadon. Further phases in developing this source include the restoration of tidal flaps where the Leadon joins the River Severn and the installation of archimedean screw hydro-power. Another writer suggests that I may censor the content the H&G CT’s magazine and website - I am pleased to confirm that is not the case! I have no involvement in the website now (or in the past). A team of five volunteers, who include two members of the Council of Management, are responsible for the content. As it is the official website of the H&GCT of course it reflects the policies of the Canal Trust as does our magazine (which, I am pleased to say, has a considerable number of contributors - many of them regular). Both our website and magazine are promoting a multi-million pound project - therefore (just as you pointed out in your editorial in Navvies 258) this is another area of Water feed from the River Leadon to the H&G at Over Basin our activities where there

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may well be a difference in approach between WRG and that of canal trusts and societies. How good it was to read Valerie (‘Tasterella Taster’) Goodwin’s positive account about the H&G Canal in the WRG at 40: 40 views for 40 years item in the last issue where - referring to the extension of the Canal at Over (completed during the Easter Canal Camp in 2012) - she says it’s exciting to see a huge length like that done. She asks “Are they going on?” Outwardly we have nothing but fields between the new winding hole (at the end of the section) and the first road crossing some three miles away so many may think that it’s just a question of acquiring the land? Unfortunately close to where the Canal currently terminates is a long-closed illicit waste dumping site that extends over the line of the Canal. So instead of extending the Canal in a number of successive shorter lengths the intention is to include the necessary diversion around it as a part of a much larger scheme, so the appropriate funding can be obtained for what will be quite extensive land acquisitions. So please join us elsewhere before then to help us to complete other equally important parts of the jigsaw that one day will come together to provide 34 miles of Canal from Gloucester to Hereford. Yours sincerely, Cliff Penny Director/Trustee H&G CT, Editor The Wharfinger. Dear Martin The recent exchange of letters in Navvies have been very interesting and thought provoking - but Cliff Penny has no right to accuse Mike Day of arrogance. All sorts of people write articles or letters for publication in Navvies, and many of them will have highly rated qualifications, but I can’t recall any of them including a string of letters after their names. Cliff Penny’s may have been relevant for him to get his post of director of H&G CT, but have no relevance to the arguments in the correspondence in Navvies. Thank goodness most of us don’t feel the need to brag about how important we are! Di Smurthwaite Dear Martin Cliff Penny seems to have upset a lot of people, and that is a great pity. I am not at all clear about the reason for this but part of the trouble seems to be that he has a lot of letters after his name, so I will not mention the little collection I used to have. Why do I put this in the past tense? Well, at the age of 91 I don’t really need them any more, so I have dropped three and the remaining three are quite innocuous. However, the real reason for this letter is to plead for tolerance on all sides. Getting some of our waterways restored is hard enough without a lot of dissension and petty pointscoring. We all need to pull together. The restoration The Navvies’ Jerusalem of the Hereford and Gloucester is a tough assignment but it is well worth doing and will need a And did that pound in Brindley’s time Wind among England’s valleys green? determined effort on the part of everyone. Now And was a noble flight of locks and again we are all likely to come across someone On ev’ry lovely landscape seen? who really gets up our nose, but, for the good of But then the railway giants came the cause, we have to overcome our nausea and get With soot and smoke and fire and flame, on with the job. And they despoiled the waterways. We must all sing from the same song-sheet. To England’s everlasting shame. And that reminds me of the “Navvies’ Jerusalem” that I wrote some years ago. It might still be lurkBring me my boots and grappling iron! Bring me my mighty JCB! ing somewhere in my computer, so if I can find it I Bring me my spade - O ecstasy! will send it along in the hope that it will prove Bring me a gallon flask of tea! inspirational and get everybody singing the same I will not flinch from seas of mud, tune. Let harmony prevail! Nor shall my sludge-pump idly stand, Stanley Holland Till we’ve restored the waterways Through England’s green and pleasant land. Stanley Holland with apologies to William Blake (words) and Hubert Parry (music)

I think we’ve just about done this subject to death, so let’s have some letters about something different - and as controversial as you like - in the next issue. Meanwhile see left for the Navvies Jerusalem words. ...Ed

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Progress Meanwhile, down in Sussex...

Our roundup of restoration progress begins with two projects in the deep south: the Sussex Ouse and the Chichester Ship Canal

fish ladder at the Sutton Hall (Isfield) Weir upstream of Isfield lock, MORPH proposes to Since Chichester canal opened its new shop reinstate the ox-bow west of the upstream at the canal basin in mid January sales have cut. That would bypass the lock, but not almost doubled. It just goes to prove that compromise the long-term plans of SORT looks do count! The old portakabin was just and to achieve this the cut would once again not a match to our light and airy two story need to be flooded. The work is scheduled to building. The views over the basin from the begin in 2014 and obviously IS something upstairs balcony, especially in the winter, that would seriously compromise the current when the leaves are off the trees, are superb. restoration of the lock. Now we have begun work on our new And so thoughts were turned away visitor / education centre. We have managed from the continued restoration of the west to raise most of the cost of the refurbishment wall within the lock chamber to installing from grants. Plus a grant for the actual fitting stop planks at the upstream end of the lock out of the education centre together with and to the complete restoration of the upenough money to replace our 20year old, stream wharf wall. very dated, interpretation boards along the The relatively kind weather conditions length of the canal. (as opposed to the summer of 2012) have enabled work to progress well. At the time of writing the lock approach and cill has been cleared and re-laid. Stop plank grooves have been cut ready for lining. The wharf wall has been exposed; dug out, partially demolished and is now being rebuilt. The photographs show the work in progress. Additionally the rebuilding of the banks / towpath along the cut is a work in progress and about two thirds complete. A great effort by London WRG at Chichester, cafe and visitor centre just visible behind the restoration team working under project manager Ted Lintott and the supervision of Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust Roy Sutton. SORT fully expects to be ready Isfield Lock:The proposals put forward by for any works and changes to the river flow the Environment Agency under their Middle that MORPH proceeds with in 2014. Ouse Restoration of Physical Habitats (MORPH) plans altered the original Summer Irongate Lock: The main focus of SORT’s 2013 restoration programme that SORT had work is rightly on Isfield Lock but one eye is hoped to push on with. being kept on Irongate Lock at Sheffield As well as making improvements to the Park, lying on a short cut in the river on land Martin Ludgate

Chichester Canal

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owned and managed by the National Trust. The Trust is anxious to help with work later in the summer and SORT will be on hand to offer help and expert advice on the way forward with this possible restoration. To help SORT: If you want to help with either project contact Ted Lintott on 01444414413. If you want to become a member of

SORT contact Bob Draper (Chairman and current Membership Secretary) on 01825763857. Additionally SORT currently requires urgent help with updating its web site. Anyone who thinks they can help should contact Bob Draper and would need to have the appropriate computer skills. Terry Owen

Pictures by SORT

Rebuilding the wharf wall above Isfield Lock (above) and stop plank grooves at the head (below)

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Progress River Gipping

Meanwhile in East Anglia, Pipps Ford Lock and Baylham Lock on the River Gipping are receiving attention...

been prepared and produced for us by one of our regular workparty volunteers, Les Our work parties have continued to meet Howard, of MHP Associates. every Wednesday through the cold and wet In the meantime work on our other spring and despite the weather we have project to replace the sluice at Baylham has made a huge amount of progress at Pipps been further delayed by the wet spring and Ford with our work to create a new footthe continuing high water levels. However bridge and return the original river channel flows in the river are now stabilising, and a to its function as a bywash for the lock sub-group has started work on removing the chamber. old timber ground beam. Once this is reWe had a week in April with a digger moved we will arrange for a concentrated and dumper on site, which gave us a running effort to install the new gates. start on clearing out some large old tree Martin Bird roots and the decayed remains of the original brick abutments. We discovered these had been built without any substantial footing of any sort, and unfortunately they were in such bad shape that we could not re-use them – apart from salvaging as many bricks as possible for the rebuild. The first construction job was therefore to lay a new concrete raft to form the substructure for the new abutment walls and to provide a base for a Casting the concrete base and (below) the new interpretation board weir, which we will need when we reach the point of returning the lock to navigable use. We have now reached the point where one of the new walls is 80% complete and the second 20% complete, so our work parties through the summer will be concentrating on completing the abutment walls, backfilling behind them to create the bridge approaches and building the bridge itself. The site at Pipps Ford is near the River Gipping Public Footpath and in support of the Trust’s educational aims we have recently installed an interpretative board to explain to the public what is going on. The board has Pictures by RGT

River Gipping Trust

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...while in Devon, things are happening on the Stover Canal - or more accurately on the Stover Canal path...

Stover Canal

Stover Canal Trust

Pictures by Stover Canal Trust

For the past twelve months work has been ongoing to provide public access to the lower end of the canal towpath at Jetty Marsh Sea Lock and Teignbridge to facilitate public access and reinstate the public footpath that was withdrawn about 1953. This work which required formal planning permission from Teignbridge Council and approval from Network Rail Foundation for suspended walkway in railway bywash arch (canal owners) will involve the creation of a metal footbridge under the railway bridge in the by-wash arch, erection of a second footbridge over the spillway at the lower end of the canal, and the establishment of a hard surfaced towpath. At the lower end of the original clay cellars, now used as workshops, the new footpath diverts away from the line of the original towpath, and follows the side of the by-wash up to the Teignbridge Road. This will require a second footbridge to Spillway bridge under construction be constructed across an area of ground that can become waterlogged in winter. The final stage of the work required the provision of a safe passage across the Teignbridge Road and the creation of a new footpath in the field opposite to connect with the existing Templar Way Footpath at the canal bridge thus avoiding walkers having to walk in the road. The planning permissions stipulated a ‘chicane’ crossing to ensure that walkers had a clear view of the Towpath surfacing in progress road at the crossing.

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Progress Shrewsbury & Newport

A new group set up to concentrate on the eastern end of the Shropshire Union Newport arm gets its first WRG visit...

Shrewsbury & Newport Canals The Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust (SNCT), which has been campaigning for restoration of the route from Norbury Junction on the Shropshire Union Main Line via Norbury to Shewsbury for some years, has been joined by a newer group. The Norbury to Newport Canal Restoration Community Interest Company (CIC) is concentrating on getting volunteer work going on the eastern end of the canal from Norbury Junction to Newport, while SNCT continues the political campaigning for the whole route. Earlier this year, London WRG supported both groups with a visiting weekend working party, clearing the canal at Forton Aqueduct and east of Newport. Here’s Dianne Maxfield of the CIC’s take on the weekend... Mix brawn and brains and a real understanding of the task in hand and what do you have? The famed WRG work team of volunteers, who ably put together a working knowledge of how best to restore that precious part of our local heritage - the canal system according to Thomas Telford! The team of 15 or so gave of their time and expertise to put in some professional help on Phase One of the Norbury to Newport Canal on what was probably the coldest weekend of the Winter but thanks to the Forton Cricket Club, the CIC were able to accommodate them in some comfort.


A tea urn, powered by a gas cylinder, was bubbling away by the hedge and suddenly everything stopped and from all corners men and women in hard hats, muddy boots and a thirst, came into view. A young woman holding aloft a bunch of teazel declared ‘just the job for my handicraft class for making hedgehogs’. Congratulations went out to a guy who had been wrestling to remove a tree root. “Not me”, he says, “teamwork”, which said it all really. Working together to achieve something quite wonderful just for the love of it. Looking around everything seems to Making themselves at home come in boxes. Here a box for saws, there a They arrived on the Friday night, travelling box for tea mugs, and centre stage smoke from various parts of the country and I can drifting from the rosy glow of a wood fire. As a complete novice restorer of canals honestly say that I have rarely seen such a cheerful and well organised group as they set this first visit of the Waterway Recovery to, making themselves at home in the ClubGroup was a complete eye opener. I knew that they worked all over the country for house. There were sleeping quarters to arrange, cooking equipment and provisions most of the year, weekends and weeks on for the weekend to bring in. end but I had not experienced the effect personally of such commitment. Depending on facilities available, they are able to ‘set up camp’ even if very little is Though this was their first visit, I’m provided, because they bring their own stuff pretty certain it will not be their last. Well regardless. Seeing just how quickly the party done to them all and thank you on behalf of settle in was an experience in adaptability our 200 plus members who truly want to see and sense of commitment our canal fully restored in the future. Saturday morning it was all hands at work on various tasks at Forton and, when I I can confirm that this almost certainly won’t arrived, my first impression was of an atbe London WRG’s last visit. We hope to do mosphere of men/women at work but I was another one this coming winter - see future ‘just in time for a teabreak’ Diary pages for details. ...Ed

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...and the Buckingham Canal Society have finally got permission to start work on re-watering the first length at Cosgrove Buckingham Canal Society We held a training weekend in March at Bourton Meadow. Terry Cavender of BCS ran this weekend and hired in an excavator and tracked dumper truck. With the help of Dave Wedd from WRG a number of our volunteers are now qualified to drive both vehicles. This was a requirement from Canal & River Trust (CRT) before our volunteers are allowed to use them on site at Cosgrove. Our volunteers have finished the preparation work at our Bourton Meadow site where we have been working alongside Furze Down School pupils. This has proved to be a very enjoyable and beneficial time for both BCS and Furze Down School and we are very sorry to hear that from next year Furze Down School will no longer be taking part in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Our contractors Waterline Solutions were due to start work on site from Monday 24th June with the work expected to take about six weeks. The major part of the work is re-lining the canal bed. Whilst the contractors are working on site from Monday to Friday it is expected our volunteers will be able to start the tasks of planking and installing coir rolls along the towpath side of the canal at agreed weekends or during some of the lovely summer evenings we are sure to have! After the canal bed has been re-lined there will be planting to be carried out along the towpath and non-towpath side. Several native species of saplings are being planted to replace part of a hedge that had to be removed to allow the re-lining work to take place. With the coir rolls in place along the canal bank this area will be planted with some non invasive species of aquatic plants giving a soft edge down one side of the towpath and the off side of the canal bank will be grassed over. Meanwhile work to re-water the first length of canal at Cosgrove is now underway! We used surveying tools to transfer the water level from the canal along the

Progress Buckingham Buckingham Arm, marking the level at regular intervals with paint. Wood painted orange and nailed to the fence was then used to mark out the top of the bund (dam) and the bottom of the slope each side. Our volunteers have started work building the first bund in the canal bed so that the first 250 metres can be re-watered. I think the volunteers who have been helping with this work have grown to appreciate the ‘navvies’ of old who dug the whole canal from Cosgrove to Buckingham in nine months! The first step was to dig a trench across the canal central to the bund position, marking the division between the area of canal we are looking to fill and the stretch that will stay dry. This trench was excavated down to the clay layer and the soil placed in dumpy bags along one side of the trench. These form the center of the bund and provide some structure to it. When the clay was exposed all along the trench a foot of clay was excavated and put to one side. The special TerraSeal line that has been donated to us by H&R ChemPharm (UK) was then cut to the correct length. It was placed in the trench to prevent water passing from the wet to the dry stretch. The clay was then replaced to seal the bottom of the liner to form a waterproof joint. A pipe was passed from the wet to the dry side of the canal with a flange giving it a seal as it passes through the liner. This pipe will be used to transfer water from one side of the bund to the other when the second stretch of canal is re-watered. As the clay was replaced in the trench it was tamped down to compact it. Soil was then used to infill the trench. A further set of dumpy bags was then placed next to the first set and filled with soil from the canal bed. Once both sets of bags are filled with soil then the bund will be built up with soil on top of them and either side a ramp will be built to provide more stability and allow access for compaction of the soil with an excavator.

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Camp report NWPG on the Wey & Arun

Rhubarb crumble, rounders, scrabble and Bill Nicholson’s ability at teabag-flinging... oh yes, and some towpath laying as well...

Camp 2013-06 29th June – 6th July river, you’re going to get bitten and NWPG on the Wey & Arun Canal stung 10 things I learnt with the Newbury Working Party Group at ‘Hunt Park’, Shalford Along with 20 or so volunteers I took part in work to create an accessible riverside path beside the Cranleigh Waters in Shalford, to the south of Guildford. This comprises the first stage of environmental works to create a new Hunt Park. As an occasional canal restorer this is my list of 10 things, in no particular order, that I learnt during the week:(1) The Chair of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust makes a mean rhubarb crumble. - thank-you, ma’am, for your contribution to the splendid tucker consumed in the course of the week. (2) Rounders and environmental work are equally dangerous - by the end of day 2, two of the group had attended Guildford A+E for treatment for leg injuries: one incurred playing rounders the previous night and one from a nasty incident involving a heavy bag of stones and a sliding pallet – a salutary reminder that the H&S talk at the start of week is not just for fun… (3) A week on canal camp can extend your Scrabble vocabulary - words such as gabion, terram, rebar and stakhanovite are now all strangely familiar to me. (4) Young people are OK (as, of course, is the Duke of Edinburgh) - working with the 5 youngsters completing their Gold DoE reminded me what I really knew already – despite what sections of the media may want you to believe, young people are generally enthusiastic, interesting and cheerful; but do bear in mind, if they’re in the same pub-quiz team as you, that their knowledge of 1970s TV can be disappointingly lacking. (5) If you’re working by a slow-moving

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- if the nettles don’t get you the mossies and horse-flies surely will. (6) ‘Concerned of Surrey’ can be a pain in the neck, but they’re not all like that - a lot of people stopped and asked why diggers, dumpers and people in hard-hats were hard at work in an attractive mixed woodland of oak, ash and alder. Most were satisfied/reassured with the explanation given to this eminently reasonable question; a minority, though, remained belligerently suspicious. Lesson – you can’t please everyone… (7) Some people can sleep through anything - one youngster was able to go to sleep in the berth next to the camp’s champion snorer – quite a feat. (8) You have to keep an eye on your teaspoons during the course of the week - by the last day we were reduced to stirring our tea on-site with a variety of implements none of which were teaspoons. (9) There are some very nice people in the Wey & Arun Canal Trust - many members of WACT, including the ‘top brass’, dropped-by to see how things were going and offer encouraging and appreciative comments. This was most welcome particularly towards the end of a sweaty working day with the horse-flies biting. (10) Accurate back-hand spent-teabag-flinging is amongst the many accomplishments of the camp leader and polymath, Bill Nicholson - the aforementioned teabag was still securely stuck to the inside of the compound hoarding on the last day – a fine shot indeed. Martin Bourne

You needed to be a bit of a visionary to see this project as canal restoration or waterway recovery. Perhaps WRG should be renamed to the Waterway Creation Group. However, we spent a valuable week creating what will hopefully become a valued amenity for the local people of Shalford and Bramley. The canal will follow later and part of our new path will form the towpath along a section of the Cranleigh Waters river that will be used for the navigation. The team worked really hard to complete about half of the path (200m), the whole of the zig zag ramp at the northern end and the gabion abutments for a footpath bridge at the southern end. As usual the logistics were complex. We had to get 10 ton lorries to reverse off the A281 into a newly built compound to deliver Type 1 limestone, this then had to be loaded into two tonne dumpers for transport to the “park” where new access ramps had to built down from the Sustrans cycleway. We had initial questions as to whether the cycleway bridge over the river would withstand our regular traversing with plant – it seemed no worse for wear at the end of the week. We asked many questions of the authorities and never got answers – so we carried on anyway! Building a footpath badly is easy. Building one neatly requires careful levelling, measuring, edging and rolling. Even on the section we’ve part completed there’s more to do as LWRG will find out when they visit

Installing edging for the towpath

Alan Cavender

Postscript from Bill Nicholson…

Gabion base for a footbridge (hopefully!) on 3/4th August. We were fortunate therefore to have the services of JJ (Price) who had spent two weeks last year on the Mont doing just what we needed at Shalford. With his Royal Naval background he easily and sensibly resisted my impatience to speed the work! Consequently when finally completed this autumn the path will look excellent. I am hoping he’ll be back in the WACT camp to finish the setting out. I should also mention his team of hard working and willing DoE volunteers – Chris(topher), Chris(tian), Sam, Scott and James who stuck to the task for the whole week without complaint (with a bit of dumper and roller driving thrown in for light relief). I was very surprised when one of the five young gentlemen asked to be relieved of his dumper driving duties because he was bored with it! Last year the weather was terrible and we hardly ventured out of doors after work. This year it was back to the real pleasures of a canal camp – returning to the hall after a hot exhausting day’s work, grabbing a cold beer from the fridge and relaxing into a folding camp chair in the evening sunshine whilst awaiting a hot shower and the excellent food of our camp cook Sue. We also played rounders (with some creditable performances from some surprising people), took a trip on the canal and thrashed the locals in The Forresters pub quiz. So another camp is over – my 24th year in succession. Time to start planning next year’s! Bill Nicholson

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Camp report

Finally, to break the monopoly of camps on canals beginning with ‘W’, here’s a report from Deepcut and Brookwood Locks on the Basingstoke Canal

Basingstoke Canal A fantastic week was had by all 19 volunteers working at Deepcut lock flight, very ably assisted and encouraged by the local canal society, not to mention members of the public on the very busy towpath, and occasional boat people (the Basingstoke Canal is currently open on a part-time basis). The accommodation did not at first seem inviting, a burnt out shell greeting us from the road – never mind, lurking behind the burnt out shell, the village hall was open and warm and cosy. There was the usual mixture of WRG regulars and relative newcomers. We included in our number three overseas university students and two working for Duke of Edinburgh awards, one of whom shared his birthday cake with us. The Deepcut lock flight has a luxurious verdant canalside. Tall oaks and elms grace the cut on either side for miles. There are plenty of fish in the remarkably clean canal. After their existence was pointed out by some passing walkers, “crayfish wars” seemed to break out. The “native” larger blacker crayfish (so I’m told) were spotted as well as several “non native” crayfish species acting as insurgents. The towpath is well maintained and extremely popular. The piling at lock 27 in particular proceeded slowly with extreme caution as multitudinous groups of cyclists and dog walkers passed by. Everyone was pleased to take an interest in looking after the canal, and everyone took a favourable interest in the Waterway Recovery Group work, although this did include a few of the “while you’re all here, could you just pop up to lock… and do this-that-and-the-other” brigade. The main part of the work was at lock 27, with extra tasks at locks 25 and 26 and, as it turned out, another sudden major exercise at lock 12 nearer into Woking. At lock 27 there were five major tasks. These were, to erect some sheet piles at the upper side of the lock; to build the lower

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Pictures by Colin Hobbs

Camp 2013-10 Basingstoke Canal

The piling crew offside quadrant; to rediscover the upper offside quadrant; to investigate the subsidence / seepage near the upper offside quadrant, and most importantly, to cut up and salvage some old lock gates. At the end of the week, the piles were all in, nicely straight, vertical, bolted and anchored to anchor piles in the bank. The lower offside quadrant had been rebuilt, and coping stones made up from concrete with a “distressed” look put in situ: the initial estimate was that “seven and a bit” of these would be needed, in the end it was six and one oddly sized one put in the other way round to the others. It was found that the seepage near the upper offside quadrant was coming from the lock chamber itself, so a large amount of clay was put down to seal it. On Friday afternoon the remains of the old lock gates were put on the work boat and towed upstream to lock 28. At lock 26 there was similarly the upper offside quadrant to rediscover, and the winding gear to paint. Again, the quadrant was

there all along; it just needed to be dug out. Slightly further down under a road bridge at lock 25 were some steps leading down to nowhere. These were to be investigated when the brambles were cleared away, and we were to paint the balance beams and rails. The brambles gone, it was discovered a new shallow track had been built leading sideways away from the end of the steps, so the decision was Starting work on a retaining wall taken to leave everything as it is for now. Halfway through the week came the big event. Somehow or other a balance beam had been removed and left in the canal at lock 12. Four of our number were mustered by the local society to spend the day moving a dredger into position and lifting the balance beam. It wasn’t all work. At the end of the day we all retreated to hot showers kindly provided nearby and a battle of the sexes for who could spend longer in the showers. The boys won every time. Anyone would think there were more of them. Or maybe it was the important business of working out exactly where one person was going to part his hair; or maybe it was just flicking each other with towels. Better even than the showers, a boat trip with dinner on board was provided on the Monday night. The food by George was great. He looked after us veggies and even took note when someone didn’t like mushrooms, cooking a special mushroomless pie just for one person. Food waste was, to put it mildly, minimal. There was a freshly baked cake on site every day. Thanks for a great week to ‘Teacher Chris’ the leader, Colin the assistant leader, Adrian, Chris C, Bev, Tina, Ed, Josh, Tim, Stephano, Andrea, Patrick, Andy, Mike, Dave, Simon, Gaspard, and of course George the cook. Laying the gate quadrant Marion Carter

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Directory Canal Society and WRG contacts ASHBY CANAL ASSOC Rod Smith 4 Ashby Road, Sinope Coalville LE67 3AY Tel: 01530 833307 BARNSLEY, DEARNE & DOVE CANAL TRUST June Backhouse, 39 Hill St, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EN 01226 743383 www.bddct.org.uk BASINGSTOKE CANAL SOCIETY Duncan Paine 52 Kings Road Fleet GU51 3AQ 01252-614125 duncanpaine@talktalk.net www.basingstokecanal.org.uk/society BCN SOCIETY Jeff Barley, 17 Sunnyside Walsall Wood, W Midlands 01543 373284 www.bcn-society.org.uk BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOCIETY Athina Beckett 2 Staters Pound, Pennyland Milton Keynes MK1 5AX 01908 661217 email: athinabec@aol.com www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk BUGSWORTH BASIN (IWPS) Ian Edgar Top Lock House, Lime Kiln Lane, Marple SK6 6BX. 0161 427 7402 ian@theedgars.co.uk www.brocross.com/iwps/ index.htm

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CALDON & UTTOXETER CANALS TRUST Alison Smedley Hazelhurst Cottage Denford, Leek ST13 7JT 01538-385388 alison@hazelhurstcottage.co.uk www.cuct.org.uk CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST Mick Hodgetts 31 Pottery Lane Chesterfield S41 9BH 01246 620695 chesterfield-canaltrust.org.uk CHICHESTER SHIP CT Linda Wilkinson 1 Chidham Lane Chichester PO18 8TL 01243 576701 www.chichestercanal.co.uk COTSWOLD CT Bell House, Wallbridge Lock Stroud GL5 3JS 01453 752568 mail@cotswoldcanals.com www.cotswoldcanals.com FRIENDS OF THE CROMFORD CANAL George Rogers 2 Main St, Whatstandwell Matlock DE4 5HE 07789 493967 web@cromfordcanal.org.uk www.cromfordcanal.org.uk DERBY & SANDIACRE CS Doug Flack 23 Thoresby Cres, Draycott Derby DE72 3PH 01332 576037 www.derbycanal.org.uk

DIG DEEP INITIATIVE Alan Cavender 53 Derwent Drive, Maidenhead SL6 6LE 01628 629033 alancavender@waitrose.com www.dig-deep.org.uk DORSET & SOMERSET CANAL SOCIETY Derrick Hunt 43 Greenland Mills Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL 01225 863066 derrickjohnhunt@btinternet.com EAST ANGLIAN WATERWAYS ASSOC David Revill 43 Kings Road Coltishall, Norfolk NR12 7DX 01603 738648 david_gisela@hotmail.com EREWASH CANAL P&DA Mick Golds 73 Sudbury Avenue Larklands Ilkeston Derbys DE7 5EA Notts (0115) 9328042 ESSEX WATERWAYS LTD Colin Edmond Paper Mill Lock North Hill Little Baddow Essex CM3 4BT 01245 226245 colin.edmond@wrg.org.uk www.waterways.org.uk FOXTON INCLINED PLANE TRUST c/o Mike Beech Foxton Canal Museum Middle Lock Gumley Road Foxton Market Harborough Leicestershire LE16 7RA 0116 279 2657 mike@foxcm.freeserve.co.uk www.fipt.org.uk

RIVER GIPPING TRUST Martin Bird 29 Melton Grange Rd Melton Woodbridge IP12 1SA 01394 380765 restoration@rivergippingtrust. org.uk GRAND WESTERN CANAL TRUST Denis Dodd, Wharf Cottage Nynehead, Wellington Somerset TA21 0BJ 01823 661653 GRANTHAM CANAL SOCIETY Ian Wakefield 0115 989 2128 ian.wakefield@ granthamcanal.com www.granthamcanal.com HEREFS & GLOUCS CANAL TRUST c/o The Wharf House Over Gloucester GL2 8DB 01452 332900 www.h-g-canal.org.uk KESCRG Eddie Jones ‘Little Orchard’ Berryfields, Fillongley Coventry CV7 8EX 0845 226 8589 eddie@kescrg.org.uk www.kescrg.org.uk LANCASTER CT Paul Shaw 12 Malham Close Lancaster LA1 2SJ 01524 35685 paul_shaw@lineone.net www.lctrust.co.uk LAPAL CANAL TRUST 26 Loynells Road, Rednal Birmingham B45 9NP 01785 713862 www.lapal.org

LICHFIELD & HATHERTON CANALS REST'N TRUST Sue Williams, Norfolk House 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich Burntwood WS7 0JP 01543 671427 info@lhcrt.org.uk www.lhcrt.org.uk NEATH & TENNANT CS Ian Milne 16 Gower Road, Sketty, Swansea SA2 9BY 01792 547902 MANCHESTER BOLTON & BURY CANAL SOCIETY Steve Dent 07802-973228 www.mbbcs.org.uk MONMOUTHSHIRE BRECON & ABERGAVENNY CT Phil Hughes 14 Locks Canal Centre Cwm Lane, Newport NP10 9GN 01633 892167 mail@fourteenlocks.co.uk www.mon-breccanal.org.uk NWPG Bill Nicholson, 17 Clifford Rd Princes Risborough HP27 0DU 01844 343369 / 0779 1097773 bill@nwpg.org.uk www.nwpg.org.uk POCKLINGTON C.A.S Paul Waddington Church House, Main St. Hemingborough YO8 7QE 01757 638027 ROLLE CANAL AND NTH DEVON WATERWAYS SOC Adrian & Hilary Wills Vale Cottage, 7 Annery Kiln Weare Giffard, Bideford EX39 5JE Tel: 01237 477705 adrian@thewills.eclipse.co.uk www.therollecanal.co.uk

SALTISFORD CT Budbrooke Road Warwick CV34 5RJ 01926 490 006 saltisfordcanal@aol.com www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk SCARS (SANKEY CANAL) Colin Greenall 16 Bleak Hill Rd, Eccleston St. Helens WA10 4RW 01744 731746 colin.greenall@btopenworld.com www.scars.org.uk SHREWSBURY & NEWPORT CANALS TRUST Tam Hazan tamir_hazan@lineone.net www.sncanal.org.uk SHROPSHIRE UNION CS Richard Hall 35 Tyrley Cotts Market Drayton TF9 2AH 01630 657737 hall@ostw.co.uk www.shropshireunion.org.uk SLEAFORD NAV TRUST Steve Hayes 10 Chelmer Close N Hykeham Lincs LN8 8TH 01522-689460 email: steve.hayeskyme@ntlworld.com www.sleafordnavigation.co.uk SOMERSETSHIRE COAL CANAL SOCIETY Derrick Hunt 43 Greenland Mills Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL 01225-863066 derrickjohnhunt@btinternet,com www.coalcanal.org RIVER STOUR TRUST John Morris 2 Stockton Close, Hadleigh Ipswich IP7 5SH jgmorris@btinternet.com www.riverstourtrust.org

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STOVER CANAL SOCIETY George Whitehead 26 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth TQ14 8BU. Tel: 01626 775498 Georgewhitehead1@tiscali.co.uk www.stovercanal.co.uk

WEY & ARUN CT The Granary, Flitchfold Farm Loxwood, Billingshurst West Sussex RH14 ORH 01403 752403 office@weyandarun.co.uk www.weyandarun.co.uk

STRATFORD ON AVON CANAL SOCIETY Clive Henderson The Bridge House Church Lane Lapworth Solihull B94 5NU clive.henderson@waterways.org.uk www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk

WILTS & BERKS CT George Eycott Knowle House 1 Ham Road, Wanborough Wiltshire SN4 0DF 07771 775745 bungle@wrg.org.uk www.wilts-berkscanal.org.uk

SUSSEX OUSE RESTORATION TRUST Paul Morris, Farmcote Nettlesworth Lane Old Heathfield Heathfield TN21 9AP 01453 863683 sussexouse@hotmail.com www.sxouse.org.uk

WOODEN CANAL BOAT SOCIETY 173 Stamford St Central Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS 0161-330-8422 wcbs@care2.com www.wcbs.org.uk

SWANSEA CANAL SOC Clive Reed 17 Smithfield Road, Pontardawe Swansea SA8 4LA 01792 830782

WRG ENQUIRIES, BOOKINGS, DRIVER AUTHORISATION, Jenny Morris, IWA Island House, Moor Road Chesham HP5 1WA 01494 783453 enquiries@wrg.org.uk www.wrg.org.uk

THAMES & MEDWAY CA Brian Macknish Meadow View Hodsell St Sevenoaks TN15 7LA b.macknish@btinternet.com www.thamesmedway.co.uk WELL CREEK TRUST Mrs C Day, 1 Tramways Outwell PE14 8PZ carole1910@hotmail.com WENDOVER ARM TRUST Roger Leishman 7 Hall Park Berkhamsted HP4 2NU 01442 874536 rwleishman@gmail.com www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk

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WRG NORTH WEST Malcolm Bridge 89 Rishworth Mill Rishworth, Sowerby Bridge HX6 4RZ 01422-820693 nw@wrg.org.uk www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG NW - ENQUIRIES/ PAPERCHASES David McCarthy Woodstock 14 Crumpsall Lane Manchester M8 5FB 0161-740 2179 www.wrgnw.org.uk

WRG BITM & 'NAVVIES' DIARY David Wedd 7 Ringwood Road Blackwater Camberley Surrey GU17 0EY 01252 874437 dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk www.wrgbitm.org.uk LONDON WRG Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road, Wanstead London E12 5EJ 07802 518094 tim@timlewis.org.uk www.london.wrg.org.uk WRG EAST MIDLANDS John Baylis 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 ESSEX WRG Frank Wallder 12 Bray Lodge Cheshunt Waltham Cross EN8 0DN 019926-636164 essex@wrg.org.uk www.essex.wrg.org.uk WRG FORESTRY Clive Alderman 30 Primley Lane Sheering Bishops Stortford CM22 7NJ 07973 877380 clive_jo.alderman@yahoo.co.uk IWA/WRG STAMP BANK Steve & Mandy Morley 33 Hambleton Grove Emerson valley Milton Keynes MK4 2JS 01908 520090 mail@morleytowers.org.uk

Canal & River Trust volunteer coordinators Central Shires East Midlands Kennet & Avon Manchester & Pennine North East N Wales & Borders North West London South East S Wales & Severn West Midlands

Tom Freeland tom.freeland@canalrivertrust.org.uk Simon Gent simon.gent@canalrivertrust.org.uk Rob Labus rob.labus@canalrivertrust.org.uk Steve O’Sullivan steve.osullivan@canalrivertrust.org.uk Lucy Dockray lucy.dockray@canalrivertrust.org.uk Paul Corner paul.corner@canalrivertrust.org.uk Matt Taylor matt.taylor@canalrivertrust.org.uk Debbie Vidler deborah.vidler@canalrivertrust.org.uk John Highmore john.highmore@canalrivertrust.org.uk Alan Sumnall alan.sumnall@canalrivertrust.org.uk Murray Woodward murray.woodward@canalrivertrust.org.uk

CANAL CAMPS MOBILES (A) 07850 422156 (B) 07850 422157 'NAVVIES' EDITOR Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Rd. London SE22 9PB 020 8693 3266 0777 947 8629 (mobile) martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk 'WRGWEAR' CLOTHING Helen Gardner 33 Victoria Road Northwich CW9 5RE 07989 425346 wrgwear@wrg.org.uk WRG BOAT CLUB Sadie Heritage 236 Station Rd. Whittlesey Peterborough PE7 2HA 01733 204505 07748 186867 (mobile) sadiedean@msn.com WRG DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Road Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk WRG PLANT George Eycott Knowle House 1 Ham Road, Wanborough Wiltshire SN4 0DF 07771 775745 bungle@wrg.org.uk

SITES GROUP Judith Palmer 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 jude.moore@btinternet.com

Rick Barnes 11 Lawns Park North Woodchester Stroud GL5 5PP 07976 748345 rick.barnes@wrg.org.uk

WRGPRINT John & Tess Hawkins 4 Links Way, Croxley Grn Rickmansworth WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk

Spencer Collins The Boatyard, 5 Hammond Way Trowbridge BA14 8RS 07790 017418 spencer.collins@wrg.org.uk

IWA CHAIRMAN Les Etheridge c/o IWA, Island House Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA les.etheridge@ waterways.org.uk TRANSPORT MANAGER Jonathan Smith 23 Hardings Chalgrove Oxford OX44 7TJ 01865 891 370 jonathan.smith@wrg.org.uk OTHER DIRECTORS Mick Beattie 42 Eaton Drive Rugeley WS15 2FS

Chris Davey Angle House Green Terrace Skipton BD23 5DS chris.davey@wrg.org.uk John Baylis (see above) Harry Watts 12 St John Road, Slough SL2 5EY 07889 237834 harry.watts@wrg.org.uk James Butler 7 Hawthorne Close Woodford Halse NN11 3NY 07745 256117 james.butler@wrg.org.uk Helen Gardner (see above)

Help us keep this directory up to date

If you spot any errors or omissions or know of any changes please pass them on to the editor. The next full directory will appear in issue 263, but any corrections received before then will also be included in the next available ‘Navvies Noticeboard’. Thank you for your assistance.

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BITS & Pieces Want some plant training?

Do you want some excavator training? And do you want an excavator to go with your training?

Something old, something blue... After over 15 years of use and in some cases abuse, we have decided to retire ‘Blue’, our JCB 803 3-tonne tracklaying excavator. There are two main reasons for this:

. .

It is starting to show its age and we cannot ignore the increasing repair bills Due to changes in legislation, continuing to run the beavertail truck to move it around is becoming more complex

We cannot pretend it is in immaculate condition, but it may be useful to a local restoration group who have the time and knowledge to do the ongoing maintenance themselves (or have a friendly local engineer) and where it will tend to spend a long time on one site (thus reducing the transport costs). If you are interested, please contact George ‘Bungle’ Eycott via email address bungle@wrg.org.uk

Camp reports Emma Greenall

As you will see, we have a selection of Canal Camp reports in this issue. Four of them, in total. But as you may also have noticed, there are rather more than four canal camps in our summer camps programme. Which means that we’ve still to include camp reports from Are you interested? ‘Blue’ at work recently quite a lot of camps - on the Cotswold Canals, Cromford, Chesterfield, National Festival, Mon & Brec, Swansea, Chelmer & Blackwater... Anyway we’ve got plenty of space for camp reports in the next issue, so please send them in to the editor as soon as possible. Don’t forget to send some photos too (or send the editor a link to your online photos).

Plant training 28-29 September Just as we were going to press it was confirmed that Rachael Banyard would be running a plant training weekend in cooperation with WRG on the Wilts & Berks Canal. It is hoped to provide training on 3-tonne excavators, dumpers, and possibly scaffolding and levelling. But this relies on enough people expressing an interest in receiving some training as soon as possible - don’t just assume that it will happen, and expect to be able to turn up and get trained. If you are interested, please contact Jenny at Head Office on 01494 783453 or jenny.black@wrg.org.uk as soon as possible. The sooner you tell her what you want to learn about, the more likely we’ll be able to organise making the equipment and instructors available for the weekend.

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Volunteers wanted for Operation Starburst! (or, as the older folk might call it, Operation Opal Fruits) Announcing Operation Starburst A follow-up to the successful Ashtac 40th anniversary cleanup last year, Operation Starburst is a major Canal Cleanup covering the canals of Manchester on Saturday 19th October and Sunday 20th October 2013, working at five different sites across the city’s waterways. Work will involve pulling rubbish out of the canal and litter picking, with volunteers working in five different locations based on a central meeting point of Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL7 0QA. The sites are:

. . . . .

Stalybridge Ashton Newton Heath Hyde Failsworth

Work takes place from 10am to 4pm each day. Volunteers should bring suitable clothis including stout footwear and waterproofs in case of rain, but all tools will be provided. Contact Alison Smedley, IWA Branch Campaign Officer on 07779 090915, email alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk, or see www.waterways.org.uk.

Weil’s Disease - extra The last Navvies carried a Toolbox Talk on the risks of leptospirosis / Weil’s disease, a rare but potentially very dangerous infection usually associated with rats. But not necessarily, as Cath Coolican-Smith explains... It’s not just rats, it’s any domesticalted animal that can pass on leptopsirosis sheep, cattle, horses, dogs, even racoons (though it has to be said i’m not convinced they’re a major concern on British canals). But the thing about dogs is that they can get it and pass it on to us, and also they can die of it too. However the good news is that they can be vaccinated and it does work. Now most vets in this country will vaccinate,

BITS & Pieces Weils Disease update but some think it’s not necessary - they don’t think they are in high risk area. The thing is, all canals are a high risk area, so we ought to be making sure that any dogs that come on to WRG sites are vaccinated - both for their and our sakes. And it is a vaccine that needs repeating annually. It doesn’t really matter whether or not they are supposed to be there, if they are there they need to be vaccinated and that vaccination needs to be up to date. Because if they are not, then (as leptospirosis can live in damp soil as well as water) we are effectively increasing the high risk area from the canal to anywhere around the accommodation where the dog has widdled - like on grassy bits outside the accommodation where volunteers might sit to sort out site kit...

Remember Navvies Anonymous? Well Anne Nichols does. She’s put together her memories and recipes from cooking for WRG NA in the 1990s and turned them into an e-book called Fancy a dirty weekend? The travels of a navvies’ cook. It’s publisher by Yobunny Enterprises and available to download for your Kindle from amazon.co.uk for the princely sum of £4.93.

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Congratulations to Lizzie and Mark Gittoes on the arrival of a baby boy (as yet unnamed, but with lots of hair!) on 13 August weighing 10lb 7oz Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies cover printing

Off your trolley? A new smartphone app has been launched that enables members of the public to report the location of any abandoned shopping trolleys that they spot (in a canal, perhaps?) Take a photo of the trolley, and the app uses the phone’s GPS to tell recovery company Trolleywise where it is, so they can send someoe out to pick it up. The app is also called Trolleywise, and it’s free to download for iPhone or Android. See trolleywise.co.uk. Thinks: the BCN Cleanup will never be the same again. Or maybe not.

Stamps wanted

Don’t forget to tell Navvies about it, so your magazine gets delivered to your new address

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.

Want a trip boat? Basingstoke Canal Society (formerly Surrey & Hants Canal Society) has just replaced its 30year-old trip-boat John Pinkerton with the brand new John Pinkerton II, as a result of which the original boat is now looking for a new home. If your canal society is interested in a 50-seat broad beam trip-boat, contact BCS. See basingstoke-canal.org.uk for contact details.

Congratulations... ...to the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust for getting the Queen’s Award for Volunteer Service, the UK’s highest award for volunteering

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

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

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 to 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 colin.hobbs@rocketmail.com to arrange a handover.

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Moving house?

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


How to cope with lager drinkers, what WRGies do with biscuits, and where MPs can shove their records...

featuring Dear Deirdre

Dear Deirdre Is it ever socially acceptable to order drinks other than real ale when in a pub with WRGies? - Gary, Lytham St Annes Deirdre writes I’d strongly advise against this if you’re trying to engender any respect in your local group, although you’re pretty safe if you can order something that looks like cider. You may have noticed that cider drinkers enjoy a grudging respect from the real ale crowd and even CAMRA acknowledges them. Not many people know that there are actually quite a number of lager drinkers in WRG. For years many of them have successfully disguised themselves as full human beings by passing their tasteless mass-produced fizzy muck off as artisan Somerset cider. Some WRGies ask for their Carling to be served in a Stowford Press glass to assist their subterfuge. So try that, but guard your glass carefully in case the person sitting next to you accidentally takes a swig from your pint and rumbles you. Do you have a question for Deirdre? You can email it to deirdre@wrg.org.uk

The right tool for the right job... So what’s happening in the photo below? It looks like the “learn to drive a digger” kids’ event at the IWA festival. But why are the driver and banksman both wearing cooks’ aprons? Let’s look a little closer and see what they’re up to... Ah yes (see right), crushing the biscuits to make the base for the cheesecake for the WRGies’ pudding that night. See the new WRG catering safety documentation for more details...

Martin Ludgate

And finally... From a new DVD just published in a series of waterways videos, this one covering the Thames through London, and describing the cruise past the Houses of Parliament... “The Victoria Tower, to the left, was built as a fireproof suppository for parliamentary records” Were I more of a cynic I might suggest that this conforms to a commonly held view on where you can stick most of the outpourings from within that particular building...

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 260  

Navvies Magazine 260. Waterway Recovery Group's magazine for volunteers restoring the canals of England and Wales.

Navvies 260  

Navvies Magazine 260. Waterway Recovery Group's magazine for volunteers restoring the canals of England and Wales.