volunteers restoring waterways
navvies Featuring lots of camps beginning with â€˜Câ€™: Cotswold, Chesterfield, Chelmer, Cromford...
Book now for the Bonfire Bash See page 6 waterway recovery group
Issue No 261 October-November 2013
Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 email@example.com Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 firstname.lastname@example.org Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine. Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA). The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89.
ISSN: 0953-6655 ÂŠ 2013 WRG
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
Contents In this issue... Chairman opening channels with CRT 4-5 Coming soon the Bonfire Bash, Christmas and New Year work, and the Cleanup 6-8 Camp reports Cromford (twice), Mon & Brec (twice) and Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation 9-24 Banksman Signals what do they mean? When should you give them? 25-27 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 28-31 Progress our regular roundup from around the country’s canal restoraitons 32-35 Camp reports Cotswold (three times), Chesterfield and Swansea 36-47 Sandiacre long-running restoration of the lock cottage recognised at last 48 Training report from Wilts & Berks 49 Bits & Pieces Lots of dosh for the Mont, WRG Training grant, help the Grantham 50 Noticeboard 51 Infill including the WRG Dictionary 52-55
Above: towpath team on the Cromford Camp (see camp report, page 12). Left: repointing on the Mon & Brec (page 17). Below: During their tea break Chesterfield Canal Trust’s volunteers show what they think of the railway that’s threatening their canal. Front cover: Griffin Mill Lock, Cotswold Canals (photo by Alan Lines). Contributions... Back cover top: first boat on the Buckingham, Bottom: team photo on the Chelmer camp. Inset upper: ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, stone walling on the Mon & Brec. Inset lower: a novel typed, on CD, DVD or by email. way of transporting materials on the Cromford 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 email@example.com. Press date for issue 261: 1 November.
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
MKP on opening up channels with the Canal & River Trust, reinventing the Stratford Blitz for the 21st Century, and keeping one’s pants on...
Stratford Blitz 2014?
There is some progress regarding opening up channels (do you see what I did there?) between us and the Canal & River Trust (CRT). It’s not an ideal position from which to build bridges (again, do you see what I did there?) – we are an organisation of “part timers” who would famously rather dig shit (or go down the pub) than attend meetings and they are an organisation where, unlike their waterways, the bottom is nowhere near the top. However, if everything has gone to plan, this issue should be significant as the first one where all CRT volunteer co-ordinators, and their managers, get a complimentary copy. This move is not without cost to us but we really do think that it’s important for anyone involved in organising volunteers to see the bigger picture. The whole point of Navvies is to bring ideas and people together, not only to see how others do it but also to see how others feel about it. Because the most important thing with volunteers is to understand their motivation. So welcome to all the CRT volunteer co-ordinators reading this edition – feel free to pass it on to your colleagues! So for those armchair supporters reading that paragraph and wondering what has become of the world, here is a request that might stir a few memories – does anybody fancy rebuilding Wilmcote Top Lock on the Stratford this winter? Yes, it’s like it’s 1985 again! The Stratford Blitz is back on! Wilmcote Top Lock and (below) the wall to be repaired Except there will be a few changes. Basically CRT has a major stoppage on that flight and would like to involve volunteers in the rebuilding of the Top Lock tail wall. So if you have some time to spare, live local-ish and fancy getting involved then contact Murray Woodward (either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go via the CRT national enquiries phone number 03030 404040). There are, of course, a few changes. As this is no weekend wonder, it will be done over several weeks and is for day visitors who can commit to quite a few days. The
dates are from late January for about six weeks. So to recap, this blitz will NOT involve: dossing down at St Gregs Hall; rough cider in the One Elm pub; pumps supplied by WRG Plant. For those that remember – you will no doubt smile at what these new volunteers will be missing. But to get back to what my bosses like to refer to as ‘our core activity’ – this edition will be full of Canal Camp reports all describing the tremendous fun in the sun they have had and the real difference that decent, well organised, well-motivated volunteers can make. WRG Brass does, of course, have the dubious pleasure of reporting when things were not quite so much fun in the sun. However, so far it looks like we only have a couple of issues worth highlighting: Firstly, the tricky question of unloading deliveries when they get to site, particularly when they are being unloaded by the driver using cranes, Hiab loaders, etc. Whilst it may seem very friendly to offer to help out with all those straps, shackles etc., don’t just jump in unless you really know what you are doing and have agreed it with all concerned. We had a bit of an issue this summer with materials that were unloaded via a Hiab which could have turned very nasty. The second issue seems a little more trivial but it has caused concern: when in the accommodation, whilst we don’t insist on a collar and tie, we do feel it is important to cover up the basics. So to sum up this summer – if you wish to avoid a nasty accident involving some dangerous equipment waving about then put some pants on! Which is just the sort of warning that brings me back to why Navvies is so important. When it first saw the light of day it was a vital tool, at least as important as the shovel. It still is. I am told that this edition represents twenty years of our current editor being in charge. If this was a proper organisation then we would have a celebratory edition with an exclusive pull-out centrespread. Unfortunately we are an organisation of ‘part timers’ who would famously rather dig shit (or go down the pub) so I will have to make do with a heartfelt Thank You to Martin from all of us. See you at the Reunion. Mike Palmer
See p48 for a report on ECPDA’s award-winning work on Sandiacre Lock Cottage on the Erewash
Join us on 9-10 November for a weekend of scrubbashing, lock clearance, concreting, scaffolding and partying...
Book now for the Bonfire Bash!
The Bonfire Bash: Cotswold Canals 9-10 November We can at last give you the answer to the questions you’ve all been asking...
Where? On the Cotswold Canals, in the fabulous Stroud Valley in Gloucestershire, and with the accommodation at the ever-popular Unit 1 and Unit 4, Brimscombe Port.
Help turn this...
When? On the weekend of 9-10 November
What? A weekend of restoration work on a whole variety of sites up and down the canal including Ham Mill, Bowbridge, Goughs Orchard and Griffin Mill locks, and with lots of different jobs from the usual scrubbashing and bonfires to scaffolding, lock clearance, concreting and more. Plus a big party on the Saturday night and a chance to meet up with lots of volunteers old and new.
Griffin Mill Lock: laying coping stones on summer camp
Who? New volunteers from this summer’s canal camps. Old hands who’ve been restoring canals for years. Regulars from the regional groups. In short, anyone and everyone who wants to join us. We’re aiming for over 100 so we can make a real impact on the canal.
Canal campers enjoy a ride through restored Ryeford Locks
Why? Because the Cotswold Canals restoration scheme needs us. Our volunteers have stepped into the gap to help complete the current six-mile restoration project (which has been struggling due to the economic downturn). If we do it well and promptly, they stand a good chance of getting the money to carry on and do the next four miles too. Oh yes, and because we’re going to have a bloody good time!
How? By filling in and posting the form opposite, contacting Head Office on 01494 783453, or booking via the website wrg.org.uk.
London WRG and KESCRG Christmas party dig: 7-8 December The festive season for us kicks off with a weekend working party on 7-8 December, with a Christmas Party on the Saturday night. It’s run jointly by London WRG and KESCRG regional groups, but everyone’s welcome. Just one thing - we’re not entirely sure where it will be yet, as we’ve been struggling to find suitable accommodation for the site where we were originally planning to hold it. We’re sure it will happen somewhere, but can’t really take bookings till we know where - so see the WRG and KESCRG websites and Facebook groups for latest information about the work site and accommodation as soon as we have it.
New Year Camps: Cotswold and Uttoxeter 26 December - 1 January Once again Gary Summers and Pete Fleming will be leading the Uttoxeter Camp, with George Rogers in charge in the kitchen. The main worksite will be in the area around Bridge 70, the main job will be scrub and tree clearance, and the good news is that we can have bonfires this time! Meanwhile down on the Cotswold Canals, ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson and Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden will once again be in charge, with Maria Hearnden as the cook. The work will also be scrub-bashing with bonfires, working in the area around Rucks Bridge near Eisey Lock. If you want to go on either of these camps, book via Head Office on 01494 783453 or online via wrg.org.uk.
waterway recovery group
Cotswold Bonfire Bash 2013 I would like to attend the WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on November 9-10 Forename:
Address: email: Phone:
Any special dietary requirements?
I require accommodation on Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £
(please make cheques payable to ‘WRG’) for food
(cost is £13 for the weekend based on £3 breakfast and evening meal, £2 lunch) How will you be travelling to the Bonfire Bash? Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:
Signed: Please send this form to: Bonfire Bash Bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA
Advance notice: Birmingham Canal Navigations Clean-up 5-6 April 2014 So it’s nearly that time again, when we dust off the old grappling hook and search our sheds for those smelly old clothes that get their annual use in good old Brum or thereabouts. Yes, in 2014 we will be back on the BCN... and thereabouts. Volunteers who attended in 2011 will remember our site was at Bordesley, south of central Birmingham, where we cleaned out Garrison Locks – officially Grand Union territory – and had very rich pickings indeed. Well, we are going back next year: not only there mind you, no, we will also be working on the BCN along the Ashted Flight, into Typhoo Wharf, and up Camp Hill Locks. Working with Black Country IWA, Canal & River Trust and BCN Society we have agreed to use the CRT Camp Hill depot for scrap removal and welfare. This is a lot closer Are you ready to grapple? than the site used in 2011 and within walking distance of the accommodation. Speaking of accommodation, the Phoenix Training Centre (an old brass house) was used in 2011 and has again been booked for 2014: there was plenty of room there, plus a pool table. We are told the Kitchen has been recently refurbished. One item we have discussed is organising a social evening on the Saturday evening, so that our volunteers can meet the CRT, BCNS, local IWA volunteers over a pint and a meal. CRT have even promised to supply some ale!! More on Introducing the new Cleanup leader this next year. I have taken over the Who am I? For those who don’t know me, I am proud Welshman coordination of the camp from Caerphilly in South Wales, I am proud to say I introduced from Aileen Butler, so that’s WRG to the Mon & Brec when as Chairman of the Monmouthreally the only difference as shire Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust I helped convince Aileen has volunteered to Newport Council to restore the Top Lock at the Fourteen Locks stay at base to coordinate Site in Newport. That project has led on to more successful the vans with the zone annual projects that you all know about [see camp reports on pages leaders who will be Dave 17-24 of this issue. ...Ed] ‘Moose’ Hearnden and myAs a boat owner I left the Mon and Brec in 2011 after 18 self. happy years and currently moor on the BCN at Halesowen. I am Maria Hearnden has an Aircraft Engineer by Trade. volunteered to arrange the I am a once-a-year WRGie (“shame!” I hear), introduced to catering for the weekend, the clean-up in 2006, and have been attending ever since. My sons but we would love to have a Lewys and Owen have attended since 2008 when Owen was just volunteer(s) to organise and 6, they love it. Owen is the one that gets down to it and dirty, cook the breakfast, so let me Lewys crews the boats! know please if you can. The When Aileen said she wanted a rest after 13 years, my voice Sunday may be busier than was the loudest of all the others volunteering to do the job (not). the Saturday if the other Chris Morgan volunteers stop over as well. I would also like to know the names and contact numbers of licensed van drivers beforehand please as I don’t know you all! So that’s it, it’s on and its happening – all it needs is you good people to book on, but that will be next year so don’t worry. So that’s it, you know the date, the venue, the leader, why not join us for some fun next year in sunny Birmingham? “Have grappler, will hook” Chris Morgan email@example.com 02920 888681 07974 111354
Our selection of reports from the summer’s Canal Camps begins with a week of demolition, stonework and towpath laying on the Cromford Camp 13: Cromford Canal, Sawmills Gauging Narrows
Cromford Canal and what a smashing time Pat had. Before the digger or the dumper could get on site a little light landscaping was required to fit them under the bridge and even then the roll bar on the dumper had to be collapsed every time it went between the towpath and the stockpile - but such are the limitations of working on canals. A series of slip trenches were dug across the towpath by hand and the rest of the day was spent dismantling the crumbling wall which formed the far side of the gauging narrows. [This is a narrowing of the canal where boats were ‘gauged’ - their
An AWOL gazebo, two first time leaders, one operator for three items of plant, and a dismal weather forecast was how camp 13 was looking on the Saturday morning. However despite this and a few tiddly hiccups the camp was a big success. The camp began with Matthew Rogers (George’s dad) very kindly mowing the lawn at the scout hut and providing a brilliant fruit cake. Co-leader Adrian arrived after going via Jerry’s to pick up the runaway gazebo with his car packed to the gills with lots of useful things including a plastic table, polystyrene boxes and a coolbox. Next to arrive were Sarah and David Patey who were our fabulous cooks for the week. They also arrived with their car very low to the ground but theirs was loaded with two days’ worth of food including about 5kg of bananas. Sarah says she meant to click ‘5 bananas’ on her online order but I think she’s got shares with Chiquita. Martin and Gavin arrived with the vans and trailer from the Chelmer just in time for the new volunteers to play that fun game “what the hell is a grubbing mattock?” After a delicious shepherd’s pie we went and tripled the population of the pub. Sunday morning kicked off with a good spot of scrub bashing during which Miranda and Sarah discovered a new-found love of the slasher and set off on a mission to kill all nettles. Within a couple of hours the site was blitzed as everyone buzzed round like busy little bees. Oh no, they were wasps weren’t they Peter? We didn’t wait to see if his hand doubled in size again in the next hour... Adrian Sturgess very kindly came up first thing to instruct Helen and Patrick to operate the excavator,
The towpath team at work
depth was measured and used to calculate over their wall and were rightly very proud how many tons of cargo they were carrying, of the finished product. Miranda and Sarah so that the right toll could be charged]. became especially protective over ‘their’ wall On Sunday evening we were treated to – God help anyone who leant on it or put a a guided walk of some of the completed stone in the wrong place! parts of the Cromford canal by EBCM (Elderly Not only was the wall completed ahead Bearded Committee Member) Hugh Potter of schedule, but the quality of the workmanfrom the Friends of the Cromford Canal ship was remarkable. This was due in no (FCC). We got to see water and boats and small part to Susan’s technique of tapping wildlife and everything! George’s car became the pointing with a soft brush which made it an actual pasty wagon as we enjoyed a look very professional and was where our lovely homemade picnic next to Codnor Park two French ladies Corinne and Christelle Reservoir out of the back of it. found their niche. It appears when putting Monday was the day we had dreaded. the finishing touches to a wall the only thing Martin was the bearer of bad news as he better than a woman’s touch is a informed us the forecast on Sunday night Frenchwoman’s touch (controversial?!). was ‘Heavy Rain’ all day until 3pm when it Meanwhile the other task of resurfacing changed to ‘Heavy Showers’. The only job for the towpath was begun. This was done by Monday was to mix and pour the concrete Patrick scraping off a length of towpath with foundations for the wall to be rebuilt, but we the excavator, Helen loading the aggregate very much doubted getting to site at all. into the dumper and Laura driving the However after a slightly later breakfast we dumper along the towpath banked by Martin dared to peep outside and as it wasn’t actuand Adrian. Susan, Corinne and Andrew ally doing the ‘R-word’ we decided to go for would then spread the aggregate out on the it. Astonishingly we not only got to site but terram and compact it using the walk-behind got the entire pour completed by 3pm just as roller. It was a difficult site for the plant to the showers arrived. Camp 13 was very lucky operate on with virtually no passing places there! meaning that the plant was forever in the Despite remarks that demolishing a wall wrong place at the wrong time. The wet is more fun, by the end of Tuesday Miranda, conditions meant quite some time was spent Sarah, Peter, Susan, Paul, and Alex had making the access route safe by levelling off discovered the addictive pleasure that comes parts of the path and tipping aggregate on from building a stone wall from scratch. the soft and slippery areas. There was a lot of sone storting (sic) to be However despite these issues the towdone as well though, but Sarah ‘The Rock’, path team were able to make good progress Peter, Alex the Above Average and Paul were determined not to be defeated by even those really bloody big ones in their quest to sort the nicely faced ones from those relegated to backfill. Luke became Master of the Mixer and kept up a good consistent supply of cementand-lime mortar ably assisted by Alex, Andrew, Paul, Corinne and Christelle. Over the next three days the wall rose up from the canal bed at a good pace. None of the wall-building team had done work like this before, but they quickly picked up the techniques with only a few hints and tips, meaning they ...and with rebuilding nearing completion had a real sense of ownership
The Cromford Canal
in the fuel tank of the excavator. Who knew it came apart?) After showering one evening we stopped off at Sainsbury’s for a beer run. This is where Luke found that if you wander around looking shifty then suddenly run outside because you’ve forgotten your money, you will quickly get to know the security guard quite well. On the Wednesday evening we met with Sarah’s mobile catering unit again, this time we had fish and chips in the sun next to the canal at Cromford followed by a good game of bowling where Paul, Adrian and Corinne showed off their skillz. As the super wall team had finished early, on the last day we let them demolish some more wall as a treat and finished off by cleaning and repointing the remaining part of the wall. The week was rounded off nicely by a superb barbecue at George’s house with WRG and FCC (you’re right Peter, we do like TLAs). Helpful locals, great cooks, an irreplaceable MUP and a brilliant bunch of volunteers made it a very enjoyable week all round. Emma Greenall Miranda Jones
and by the end of the week had prepared the route and dealt with the worst bits meaning the second camp were able to finish the full 300m. The task gave us the opportunity to train two digger drivers (Pat and Helen) a dumper driver (Laura) and four roller operators (Andrew, Corinne, Susan and Patrick) and gave them plenty of opportunity to practice their new skills. (By the way, Adrian would like to point out that the spout off the funnel isn’t lost, he knows exactly where it is, it just happens to be
The wall: after demolition...
Camp report Cromford Canal Camp 15, Cromford Canal Sawmills and High Peak Junction As one of the arts of camp leading is delegation, I delegated the job of Camp Report Editor to Abi – who then delegated the report for the Sawmills site to Jordan. But then they both delegated the actual site reporting to the local poultry. Fair enough – I delegated most of the rest of the report to the scrounging cat at the accom.
By way of a change, the report for the second Cromford week is brought to you by a cat, a coot and some chickens. Dave’s Garden No 19, Sawmills
We like Susan. She brings us food! She arrives in a red van with other people dressed in hi-vis yellow. They don’t bring us food, but they do come to use Dave’s toilet. They always seem happier when they leave, so it must be a very nice toilet.1 They are making an awful lot of noise over the road. It sounds like they are digging out the towpath and tipping lots and lots of stone onto it. We can’t really see why they would want to do that, but the people who live round here seem to be happy. The Middle of the Winding Hole There are a couple of hi-vis people called High Peak Junction. Steve and Peter. They seem to mostly run around looking confused and occasionally driving off in a Every day a red van arrived on the side of red van. They sometimes make a lot of noise with the canal and lots of strangely clad people a roller which is smaller than the dumper but disembarked. They looked like they were full almost as noisy and falls over occasionally.2 of very yummy breakfast. Lots of the tools Most of the noise seems to be made by were collected from a secret compartment in Colin. He makes some of the noise with dumpers the back of the van and ferried across the and diggers, but most of it by himself. Sometimes canal to a site with some rotten fences. I Susan makes the noise with the dumper, and watched as a young volunteer wearing a very sometimes Jordan shouts at her instead of Colin. fetching lifejacket nearly fell into the canal as Dave’s Chickens (interviewed by Jordan3) the boat drifted away from the bank, but he saved himself at the last second. 1 It’s a very nice toilet. Thanks Dave. Over the course of the next week, I 2 Only twice, one better than the previous week. 3 And heavily censored by Peter. Jordan, no-one will watched as they demolished two rotten believe that there was any topless sunbathing. fences on both sides of the canal near the water outlet. The group dismantled the fence and rails. It took a while to complete. It looked like hard work to break all the concrete into small pieces. By the end of the week the fences were coming along nicely. Some other people got in the little blue rowing boat to survey the canal depth for something called a “trip boat” (sounds fun – I wonder what that is?) They were tethered to the bank by a tape measure and helped by a local lad I’ve seen a lot round here before. It was very amusing to watch all the surveyors lean out of the boat to gauge the depth and nearly tip it over. I wonder if they’re going to build me an even better nest site? That would be nice. I like it here. The towpath team spread the fine surface A Coot (interviewed by Abi)
Somewhere near the Scout hut Despite being politely but firmly ejected from Crich the front of the accom several times, Tiddles never worked out that there was a back door I’m very friendly, and I like being stroked, which was almost always open, so she probbut mostly I like being fed. People in red ably isn’t destined for a leadership role. To be vans have suddenly arrived, and they’ve got fair, by the end of the week, I’m not sure I food!. Lots of food! Nice food! And a lovely would have had the wit to work that out either. lady called Claire who likes me and says Well, the coot, the chickens and the cat hello to me when she goes out to hunt. have said most of the important stuff, but I’ll Sometimes she hunts for meat in the village, just add that the Sawmills team built a lot of and sometimes she goes in the red van to a very beautiful towpath, including an extra bigger hunting ground called Morrisons. layer of fine stone because the original top I don’t get much food though. The layer looked dreadful - by Friday we were a people in the red vans eat the food! The only ninja path-laying crew - and the High Peak food that seems to leave the hut is in a tub Junction team built a lot of very beautiful fence marked “Chickens”. The people leave in the despite having wood that was cut slightly too morning and then return in their red vans, short and no plans. Not only that, but the usually looking quite tired. Then they’d eat the Sawmills team also mixed and laid concrete food. This can’t be right! I’m sure that some of backfill and foundations on the offside gaugthe food was for me, so I politely walked up ing narrows wall and the High Peak Junction to the front door to say hello, but someone team did a channel survey for the trip boat! shut the door. Must be some mistake? Grandad Pete revealed that he’s a bit of Some evenings the red van people walk a 10-pin bowling demon and I managed the up to the pub and then walk back talking yellow slide at Mansfield Water Meadows in much more loudly. On other evenings, they 6.74 seconds. Chris and I and a few others go off in the red vans and come back talking went to the pub folk night and we saw much more loudly. But they did seem to get shooting stars as we left! We had a lovely (if quieter as the week progressed. slightly damp) boat trip in Chesterfield, as I did make a concerted effort to get my the Cromford trip boat isn’t running yet – share of the food – I tried climbing in mainly because of the coot – and a walk up through the missing glass in the front door, the Cromford Canal led by Hugh of the FCC. but someone picked me up and carried me Many thanks, Hugh. outside. Then I tried the windows, but Yves and Marie came all the way from someone else picked me up and then they France – Yves even got his parents to deliver closed all the windows. him! I hope you both had a great time in Oh well. They seem to be having fun. Derbyshire and learned important facts about Tiddles (interviewed by Peter) beer, canals and how to say “hedgehog.” The slightly weird leadership structure – Steve and Chris as coleaders and me as assistant - worked well on the split sites. Thanks to both of you for putting up with me. Thanks to George & Matthew for all their support and a great Friday night BBQ, to all the Friends of Cromford Canal and to the guys on the Chesterfield Canal for the boat ride. Big cheers to the Sawmills team – Steve B, Steve H, Colin, Tina, Grandad Pete, me, Jordan & Susan Waves of love to the HPJ team – Chris, Yves, Matt, Marie, Jonathon, Maq, Abi & Ulrich Mega thanks to Claire for feeding us all week – fab nosh! Peter Lister Assistant sub-deputy-co-leader “Here’s one we restored earlier” - Chesterfield boat trip
Sub Group at High Peak Junction, (Leawood Pumping Station) Team Leader: Chris Team: Ulrich, Jonathon, Maqsud, Abi, Yves-Marie & Marie (our French connection) This was a project dropped on George (our ‘local’ rep and organiser) at short notice. It saw a team of 7 replacing rotten timber safety fencing at the Leawood Pump House Outfall and the canal overfall bywash. The old timbers had to be broken out of the concrete (some were ‘persuaded’ to pull out leaving a clean socket) On the Spillway side new posts were set and painted ready for new rails. On the pump station side the 6 inch square large posts were installed with a lot of carpentry for the end posts. Once the new concrete had set we had quite a job rebating the uprights to cater for the various angles. The whole job was finished at 6.30pm on Friday with the last pour of concrete and last slap of paint. While the work was heavy and technical the whole team worked well together with many new skills being learned, including ferrying tools and materials across the canal several times a day. On Thursday and Friday Marie and Abi spent 2 days in the small rowing boat assisting George, our local, and Matt, from the ‘Towpath Crew’, in surveying the canal profile from the Winding hole to Canal Top Basin (dodging the Coots nests!!) With the satisfaction of a good job well done, the evening entertainment and good weather (for once!!) an enjoyable week for all. See you all next year Ulrich Signer
“The camp was originally advertised as not needing machinery. So we had two diggers, two dumpers and two cement mixers on the go...”
Camp Report Chelmer & Blackwater
Camp 11: Chelmer and Blackwater installing new lock quadrants around the lock Our camp report for the week has been written by Sarah Viuad (our French Volunteer), Martin Foster & Chris Byrne. This summer, we once again returned to IWA’s own Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in Essex, to do some improvement works on Rickett’s Lock. Our accommodation for the week was back on board the lovely Haybay barge on the Heybridge Estuary, at the start of the Navigation. There were 16 people living on a boat for 7 days. No it’s not an Agatha Christie novel, nor a horror story, but a group of volunteers, some young and a few less so, working together to maintain a lock on the Chelmer and Blackwater navigation. Our Camp leader was Chris Byrne and our assistant leader was Gavin Darby. The group was aged between 18 – 70 year olds, between 5’ - 6’3”(1.60m - 1.92m), shoe sizes from 3 - 11 (36 -46)! I have translated these figures in case some other Europeans would read this text. (Unfortunately, we can’t say what the average biceps measurement were!) The first evening, after dinner, our activity appeared to be a trip to taste the local beers at the nearest pub to the accommodation. We interviewed our resident expert to obtain the details of these local ales, Martin’s comment was “I don’t care, I drink, just drink !” On the work front, the camp was originally advertised as not needing machinery. So we had two diggers, two dumpers and two cement mixers on the go, as the jobs for the week had changed since we booked on! The main objectives of this camp were reprofiling the ground next The bottom to the lock, replacing and
gates, preventing further damage to the lock from high water levels in the winter, repainting the lock gates and raising the towpath levels further upstream of the lock, where the high water levels in the winter had eroded some of it away. For this, we had Sue on the digger, Gavin on the dumper, Arthur, Robert and Llewellyn, wheelbarrow drivers, John, leader Chris and young Chris, experts in concrete, Phil, Martin, Lucy and Claire, experts in towpath improvement and Emma and Sarah, respectively Spanish and French painters. The best quote of the week has to be from “Sue, ??, from Essex”, on the first day on site, stating that she managed to get on “Page 3” in the last edition of Navvies! (I thought I recognised her before from somewhere!!!) After our first day of work, in evening we decided to go ten pin bowling. The strongest member of the team was Gavin who scored a huge 169 closely followed by Martin on 144. We are hoping that on his next camp, Gavin will meet someone who can play at his level!
end of the lock at the start of the camp...
I won’t mention who got the lowest! Also, thank you Martin for teaching myself and others tips on how to improve our bowling, my scores have improved since your guidance. We all know how difficult travelling to new places can be, so we would like to thank the drivers for making several miles so varied and interesting. At least we got to see some of the nice surrounding areas and countryside on the way to site each day. Going the same way each time is a bit boring! Our third day saw the weather change for the worse, rain and even a few hailstones in the warm British summer’s weather! We returned to our accommodation on board the Haybay barge, soaking wet and covered in mud, concrete and paint. Fortunately, we had warm showers and good food awaited our return, which was freshly cooked by our resident chef, Peter Foord. Throughout the week, I had the pleasure of learning a lot of English card games with DofE’ers and playing Pictionary. Being French, it wasn’t really easy, even when my drawing of Portugal is difficult to guess for my partners, I suppose my English is not my only problem...! Wednesday evening most of us went into Chelmsford. Some people went to the cinema to see the film The Heat. Claire commented that : “The Heat was a very funny film and was more gruesome than we were expecting”. Whilst they were at the cinema, some other people went on a cultural tour of the town centre and its local pubs. We found a nice church with gargoyles and a cemetery,
which was a good start as all the shops were now shut. Next we went onto the Shire Hall, which was then swathed in scaffolding and netting. The town hall then followed after. Not much to say about the town hall’s architecture, but we could notice the four flagpoles only had three flags on them - none one of which was a European flag. We then moved onto the pubs. It would not be a work camp without a pub trip. We managed to fit 5 pubs in. Each met our expectations - they served alcohol! It has to be said 4 were quite welcoming - as you would expect from the friendly Essex people. Quite a few pints of ‘mouldy gold’ met their end. (Possibly a better name for this beer than Maldon Gold - thanks to Lucy - coming in at 3.7% it was more water-with-hops than alcohol). We had a good selection of evening meals throughout the week cooked by Peter, which included an al fresco BBQ style meal, a curry night and an Italian evening. For our other evening’s entertainment, we also went swimming, went for local walks, a games evening and for some, surprisingly, the pub! On the final working day, following a very late night by most of the group, Chris our leader was late up! However, with all the work involved in organising & leading our week’s long holiday, we forgave him... Thank you for your energy and your good humour throughout this week, Chris! I use the honour of writing a camp report to thank all the WRGies I have met, not only on this camp, but also when I was volunteering at the IWA National Festival as well. WRG was for me a wonderful way to speak a language I like, in a country I like, with very nice people. Finally, I thank Martin who has written part of this text, Peter and Mel who have translated my English into proper English, and also Bungle & Mel, as I have written this camp report in their house, in conditions which are more than perfect than on camp! Longue vie à WRG! = Long life to WRG! Sarah Viuad Martin Foster ...and at the end of the week, with the new quadrants complete Chris Byrne
“Watching him controlling the digger whilst at the same time ducking and dodging divebombing insects was something I won’t forget in a hurry...”
Camp Report Mon & Brec
Camp 16: Monmouthshire & Brecon person was me! What would go wrong, and right? What 17th-24th August I guess that there are two kinds of report for most canal camps... The first, a rather standard affair, could read: Picked up WRG vans, arrived at accommodation, collected assorted volunteers from various stations, filled church hall with assorted bedding, gave health and safety talk, went to pub, enjoyed volunteers bonding, explained difference between spade and shovel, got very muddy, shifted lots of heavy stones, pointed miles of never-ending canal walls, went to pub, realised goals for week were far too ambitious, ate a lot of baked beans, told lurid stories about the bad old days, went to pub, made sure no-one necessitated filling out accident paperwork (apart from one grit-in-eye crisis), shifted more heavy stones, went to pub, said sad farewells to assorted volunteers at various railway stations, cleaned church hall toilets, washed tea towels, searched for mislaid receipts, went home (or in my case stayed for a second camp). The second type of report is rather more fun to write: It begins with me standing on the bullnose of Ty Coch Lower Lock watching 15 hard hats and hi-vis jackets moving around the scene of organised chaos beneath me that is my canal camp and experiencing the rush of blood to my head that results from absolute power. I reach for my whip... My first-ever camp leadership was exciting, stressful, challenging, enormously enjoyable (otherwise why would we volunteer to lead?), exhausting and nervewracking. Until now there had always been someone else to take final responsibility, blame, praise and criticism. Someone else to turn to for advice and help. Someone else to always be there, always on call. Now that
would the volunteers be like? How about the weather? How many volunteers would I maim? Would I have to crack the whip or discipline anyone? Would people enjoy themselves? Would the yawning gaps in my knowledge and experience reveal themselves? First, the people, the gang, the team... and what a great bunch I lucked into! Though I admit to encouraging some returnees from last year, the majority of the volunteers were new to me. Yes, I coerced Katie Bell into being my Assistant, and what a great job she did, quietly making decisions and guiding the others, relieving me of lots of pressure and fuss, whilst working hugely hard at the bottom of the lock, wielding a mattock and shovel with the best of them and sharing the van driving. She worked so well and with so little fuss that I worry that I didn’t make it plain how much I recognised and appreciated that the success of the camp was so much due to her. And then there was Ayushi Vyas, who slaved away in the kitchen from dawn to dusk, supervising the cooking of breakfasts, producing fantastic evening meals and still managing some productive time on site. I was super fortunate to have Katie and Ayushi on my management team for my first-ever leadership. I doubt whether the week would have been so much fun or productive without them. The same can be said for my ‘old hand’ volunteers: Georgina, Pete, Bob and Andy, who all worked solidly and stolidly, without complaint at the many times I leant on them, taking advantage of their experience and getting them to guide and advise the newbies, which they did with patience, goodhumour and high standards. Pete slaved away with both mechanical excavator and mattock, Bob patiently led the repointing team, Georgina never seemed to stop working (as well as her efforts on site she was constantly helping in the kitchen), and Andy
Even the weather was fantastic all week, with only the final afternoon being marred by Welsh drizzle. Given that last year it rained every day for the entire two canal camps this year’s experience restored my faith in the British climate (soon to be shattered no doubt). Of course, my original plan of action, which included fitting new lock gates, rebuilding the Pentre Lane bridge and a champagne reception to welcome the first boat at Ty Coch, was hugely over-ambitious. We often worked faster than the supply of lime mortar, but given the heat and humidity, we welcomed the short breaks provided by the time the tracked wheelbarrow took to trundle at funereal pace from the mixers to the lock. But although we hadn’t quite completely rebuilt the bullnose or laid the bricks in the spillway, by Friday the team had sweated, hacked and heaved the firmlymortared stonework of the bullnose to a level where new foundations could be laid, rebuilt the spillway weir from foundation level and repaired and repointed most of the canal-side stonework beneath the towpath. We generously left a residue of work for the week two team to do so that they wouldn’t be too bored. The food was wonderful, despite Ayushi’s vegan miso soup being so spicy that I lost the power of speech for a week. We experienced Emma, Laura and Evie’s amazing trifle, and I had baked beans for breakfast
was cheerful and reliable. And then there were the masses, the volunteers from all backgrounds and of all ages, the DoE gold award strivers, the firsttimers of all ages and from all walks of life, and those from the European Community, this time including cheerful individuals from France and Spain. Everyone worked together safely, productively and happily. In fact apart from the background clang of steel on stone and the chug of generators, the most frequent sound on site was laughter, surely a sign that people were enjoying their muddy, muscle-tenderising experience. The week began dramatically with a loud buzzing sound, not of conversation but of angry wasps. Almost our first attack on demolishing the bullnose wall discovered that the structure had been colonised by a large number of unfriendly Hymenoptera, who immediately showed their displeasure at being disturbed by stinging Zoé and Tanvi, the latter four times. Poor Zoé, stung on the upper lip, subsequently looked like a boxer for the next couple of days, but soon regained her good looks and symmetrical smile. Unfortunate Tanvi, bitten in various tender places, for some puzzling reason absolutely refused to allow me to examine the wound on her posterior. But both bravely carried on working as if nothing had happened. The wasps, fiercely defending their nest, delayed our start on the bullnose for two days, until Steve, Volunteer Coordinator for Torfaen Council, bravely donned heavy overalls and destroyed the nest using his mini-excavator. Watching him (from a safe distance) controlling the digger whilst at the same time ducking and dodging dive-bombing insects was something I won’t forget in a hurry. Thankfully, once the excitement died down, the rest of the week was drama-free, apart from one grit-in-eye incident, and even then I’m sure that my attempts to flush Laura’s eye with saline caused more tears than Raking the speck of dust.
out old mortar ready or repointing
every day, which will keep me satisfied until next year. The accommodation was, I think, in Canal Camp terms five star. Mon & Brec’s new accommodation in Griffithstown was the recently-refurbished and rather luxurious St Hilda’s church hall, with a huge kitchen, lots of loos, a shower and brand-new everything. My plan to create two capacious dormitories was stymied by the church letting out one of the rooms permanently, which resulted in more of a sleeping squeeze than I’d hoped, but we survived, and the initial absence of hot water was soon remedied. I think the only things we missed from our previous accommodation in Crosskeys were the sofas in the church hall crypt and nearby presence of The Philanthropic Inn. The Open Hearth was a fine replacement however, and it was great to be able to sit outside beside the canal on mild evenings. The washing facilities at Pontypool Leisure Centre caused some initial panic when we thought that the male and female showers were visible from each other, but we were soon shown to properly gendered facilities, much to the disappointment of a couple of male volunteers. Dan on the other hand enjoyed making use of the disabled shower, even though it entailed siting down. It would be unfair to pick out individual volunteers from the team for articulate mention because everyone worked so well, so I’ll mention them all. Spanish Emma was delightful, even if she managed to miss catching the van to site one morning. Zoé proved herself amazingly strong when faced with heavy coping stones. Bruno worked doggedly the whole week. All three contributed to what I called the “Eurowall” next to the spillway. Emily was always smiling and quietly proved her worth, and Dan was a goodhumoured stalwart who took himself off on walks almost every morning and evening. Tanvi was constantly entertaining, but managed to fit in plenty of hard work between song and dance routines. Tim was always at the centre of things. We had four Duke of Edinburgh candidates: Ben got so keenly involved that he had to be dragged away from his wall at the end of the week. Laura, Evie and Emma were a collective phenomenon, showing initiative and commitment as well as being fun. Perhaps the measure of a good team is their collective efforts on the last morn-
Good progress on the spillway weir rebuild ing, when lots of tedious cleaning and tidying and packing jobs have to be done. And true to form, everyone mucked in up to the very final tearful farewells (thanks to Bob for cleaning the loos and Bruno for sitting in the launderette watching the tea towels for two hours). Ayushi and Tanvi were so distraught at leaving that they left their boots behind. So for me an absolutely excellent first leadership experience (although I haven’t seen the feedback from my volunteers yet... perhaps they hated me): I didn’t mislay too many receipts or spend more than twice the food budget, there were no notable accidents, we got a lot done, the Canal Trust and the local council were pleased with us, we didn’t scratch the vans, we only lost one pointing trowel (an offering for future archaeologists to discover perhaps), the beer in the local was good, it hardly rained and we had lots of fun. If WRG let me, and I can persuade the right people to be my assistant and cook, I’d very much like to lead another camp on the Mon & Brec next summer, and if I do I’d like absolutely everyone from Camp 16 to come back and join me in the mud... Ralph Mills
Camp Report Mon & Brec
Chris and Emma’s team take over for week two of a fortnight of work on the Ty-Coch Locks on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals
Camp 18: Monmouthshire & Brecon towards Lower Brake lock, just South of
Cwmbran. This involved continuing to repair When my lovely assistant Emma Greenall and re-point all the stone walls, continuing to and myself arrived at the Pontypool & New rebuild the bypass weir, reconstructing the Inn Railway Station on the Friday evening bullnose wall between the upper entrance of before our camp, we wondered where we the lock and the bypass weir and also to safely had arrived. The small station looked like it take down part of a pound wall that was unstawas just a lump of concrete in between the ble and needed to be rebuilt. two tracks with a hole in the middle to go For David B, Victoria & myself, the first under and out into the car park! challenge was to remove all the rain water Upon going through the subway, we that had gathered from the previous night’s were welcomed by a familar face, Pete, who rain in the ‘de-watered’ section of canal that was on the first week’s camp and had come we were working in, so we could safely to collect us in the minibus. We then joined access the areas to be worked on, without Ralph (1st week’s camp leader) and the other getting too wet going through these small first week’s volunteers who were having their lakes! This involved digging a sump for the last evening meal’s picnic.... which was now pump to sit in at the lock entrance and then inside due to the torrential rain! Luckily, it digging a small trench by hand all the way had been dry for them all week on site, so along the canal bed almost up to the next they were all still happy and full of spirit after lock entrance, to remove the majority of their successful week’s camp. surface water. There you go, job done, a We had a chance in the evening to have canal has been built and in water in the first a good look around the accommodation, day...... (Well nobody said what size or scale (which was at St. Hilda’s Church Hall, it had to be!!!) Griffithstown, Pontypool) as WRG have never Emma led the mixing team, training the stayed here before. It has recently been majority of people throughout the week, the refurbished and a new entrance fitted with a important art of mixing lime mortar and lift installed, as well as a nice and spacious concrete. During the warm weather, these kitchen unit built towards the rear serving Monmouthshire both of the halls. This and Brecon has all been achieved by the Church thankfully Canals receiving a grant from the Heritage Lottery Site for Fund to make these camps improvement. St. Hilda’s 16 & 18 Church Hall is a well recommended place for WRG to stay at for any of our future camps in this area. Our 2nd week’s camp jobs was to continue on with the previous camp’s work on the upper section of Ty Coch bottom lock and up
large piles of sand also turned into luxurious seating arrangement for sunbathing at break times, we were just missing the sea lapping at our feet and some ice creams. Well the latter was covered, Monique suprised us one lunch time and brought along a bag full of them! The other lunchtime surprises were soup, wrapped in her own sleeping bag in the curver box to keep it warm, and also on another day, burgers. We were well spoilt, thank you Monique for your lovely lunch time suprises. Jade and Martin, (two of our eight D of E’ers), like most people, had never done this type of work before, so after a little training, they took on the challenge of repairing and rebuilding a whole section of the stone wall by themselves, which they were very proud of. Ralph, Chuck, Bruno, Laura, David A, & Jamie continued to work on the construction of the bypass weir. Whilst Brian, Joe & Michelle took on the task of digging out the bullnose wall trench ready for the concrete foundations to be laid, which was a hard task with all the thick, wet & heavy clay. David H concentrated on repointing the pound wall with help from Michelle and others. Another large task was to remove a large section of the stone wall that wasn’t structurally stable, this challenge was taken on by Bruno, Brian, David B, Jamie, Nicole, and myself, despite it being quite laborious work. Claire was in her element driving the powered tracked wheelbarrows keeping us supplied with lots of mortar and concrete. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Claire on Wednesday lunch time, due to her having to go back home for something called a job?! To keep up with my record from last year, we found an old horseshoe and another moble phone in the bed of the canal. Also, like last year, we had to fix the pump a couple of times: Emma & myself got completely soaked on two seperate occasions when the pipe came off whilst moving the pump into position! There was of course the endless task of finding the correct shape & size stones to fit into the space in the wall! During the evenings, we entertained ourselves by going swimming one evening, (we managed to get half price entry tickets and also the water slides were turned on just for us, because of great work we are doing for the local community, which was really good of them) a film evening at the local
cinema, a games night held at our accommodation, a guided tour of the Fourteen Locks and Visitor’s Centre, a ten pin bowling evening, and also a couple of visits to one of the local pubs on the navagable section of the canal, where we enjoyed sitting out in the evening right next to the waterside. On the last evening, this was where several people from our camp decided to dance along to the music, which just so happened to be the ‘Macarena’! Don’t worry folks, I have filmed it all, so I can use this in the future to ‘bribe’... I mean ‘invite’ them all back on another camp soon! Even though the majority of us were all quite tired each evening, from all the good work we achieved each day on site, everybody seemed to throughly enjoy our different evenings’ entertainments throughout the week, especially on some of the evenings, of which we can’t really talk about here in Navvies that have got to be the most funniest and most entertaining evenings I ever been on whilst being on a camp! On the first evening, in the early hours of the morning, I was going to our room to go to sleep, being very quiet so not to wake anybody else up. Upon entering our room, being very careful not to stand on anybody in the dark, I accidently knocked Brian’s trousers which were on the floor. All of a sudden, there was over a 130 dB alarm going off!
Digging a sump to drain the canal
I managed to find the offending object and tried to work out what the hell it was in the dark, whilst attempting to turn it off or to make it quieter, so not to wake the whole camp up. Emma then woke up thinking it was one of the minibuses or the accommodation alarms going off, then followed by Brian waking up. I tried to explain to Brian that it was his personal attack alarm that was going off, as I held it tightly in my hands attempting to muffle the ear piecing sound. Brian was half awake and didn’t understand what it was or what I was saying, so he tried to prize my hands open to Rebuilding see what was making all the noise! Our whole room was now wide awake, luckily, we were in the smallest room so there were only five of us in there! We then turned on the light, trying in vain to find the tiny pin to put back into the unit to turn it off. We couldn’t find it quickly, so I ran downstairs with it still going off in my hands, so not to wake up everyone else on camp. Emma not long afterwards, managed to find the small pin and came downstairs with it to turn it off. At last, SILENCE,
Let’s hear from the campers... From Brian, who’s never been on a camp before... Armed with the Essential Infomation, Volunteers’ Health and Safety Guide and directions to the Monmouth & Brecon Canal Camp, I arrived a little aprehensive as to what I was letting myself in for. At Pontypool & New Inn Railway Station, a group of us were met by Chris & Emma, who made us feel at ease within a very short space of time.This was my first camp with Waterway Recovery Group, which was tremendous fun, well organised and great accommodation. My personal thanks go to Chris (Leader), Emma (Assistant Leader) and Ralph Mills, who all helped make the camp the enjoyable one that it was. Many thanks also goes to Monique (Cook) and Claire, who kept us well fed and watered. I look forward to doing another in the future.
the bullnose wall between lock and bywash apart from the ringing still in my ears!!! The next morning, a very appologetic Brian informed us that they were all provided with these alarms at work and he forgot that it was still with him on his keys. Strangely enough, apart from everyone in our room waking up, nobody else on camp heard any of this happening in the night. This might be due to the newly fitted out and decorated office rooms that we were sleeping in being very sound proof! From Monique, who has been on camps before, but this was the first time as cook: Having cooked for many groups (up to 150 people) I wasn’t too fazed about cooking for a canal camp. But, with all the driving to and from the work site and the shopping, I hadn’t much me-time left afterwards. Still, it was a joy to do, mainly because of the fantastic people in the group. I was impressed that a lot of people volunteered to help with the cooking even if it wasn’t their turn. Even better was they weren’t fussy eaters at all and seem to enjoy my foreign cooking (Indonesian anyone?). Of course Thursday was a complete disaster with the vans, but despite not returning to the kitchen until 2pm, I managed to produce a roast beef with all the trimmings on time. I was quite proud of that, especially as I have never cooked beef before (or should I not have said that?). Chris and Emma were great leaders and made everything run smoothly. I am looking forward to cooking again next year on a camp and may I please come back to St Hilda’s Church Hall as the kitchen is fab?!
The rest of the week had been going reletively well with not too many issues to deal with. Then, on Thursday morning, I wish I’d stayed in bed for the next couple of days! Surely I should have heard alarm bells ringing earlier on in the week that this was going to happen...(See above!) When we arrived on site in the morning, as the first van was turning around to park, the engine stalled. Monique tried to start it again, nothing happened. I arrived and had a look, couldn’t find any faults. Meanwhile, we were blocking the towpath a little bit and also blocking the entrance to site, where somebody from the local council was wanting to leave site. Fortunately, and thankfully, he was driving a Land Rover with a winch on the front! He managed to pull the van out of the way of the entrance & the towpath so we could park it up and look at it further. After a chat with Bungle, we worked out that there was a fault with the starter motor solenoid. By this time, we were due to go and have our guided tour of the Fourteen Locks and Visitor Centre, as this was the only time available to arrange it for this week, so we left the minibus for now and would contact the breakdown assistance after we returned. We sent the other minibus (the one that works... well, at the moment anyway) with half of us to the Fourteen Locks centre, then to return back to collect the rest of us. Unfortunately, they got lost a few times on the way back to site, causing us to be even later
for our tour. Tom, our tour guide at the centre, had to go to a meeting afterwards, so we couldn’t make him late as well, therefore I decided that the first group, who were already there looking around the Visitor Centre, would start the tour without us and we would join in with them when we arrived. When we finally arrived, we quickly joined the others and managed to do most of the tour before Tom had to leave for his meeting. The first group then left for site, whilst the second group had a look around the Visitor Centre to be collected on the return journey. We managed to get back onto site just after lunch time, so we had something to eat and continued to work on site. We called the breakdown assistance company, who then sent out someone local to look at repairing our minibus. Luckily he was also driving a Land Rover, as the only place he could now turn around was further up the canal from us, on a steep slope. After doing several checks, he couldn’t get it going again, so he informed us that due to our position, a recovery vehicle wouldn’t be able to drive up the towpath to collect the minibus. Therefore, we had to be towed down to the main road by his Land Rover. By now, it was time to leave site, so one minibus went off to take some to the showers and then returned back to site to collect the rest of us. The mechanic then said somebody else from his company would be coming out to
From Joe a younger first-timer:
Finally from David H, who has been on a camp before last year and has returned with us this Summer:
I wanted to say thank you again Chris & Emma so so much for the week. All of your massive effort has been really appreciated! Home seems kind of shit in comparison - I had so much fun last week!! The only downside is now you’ve set the bar pretty high... it’s gonna be tough for the next event I go on to live up to it!!!
Many thanks to Chris & Emma for your excellent leadership and Monique for cooking, on the 2nd week Monmouth & Brecon Canal Camp. I think it was Thursday when you exercised your particular gift for calmly keeping your head when things were falling apart – nearly – all around you. But for the whole week you managed us very well, particularly with such a high proportion of young and inexperienced people to keep gainfully occupied – all much appreciated! All the sheer hard work to enable the rest of us to relax and enjoy ourselves, and the magnificent food. I know WRG camps have a reputation for good food, but I bet ours excelled the standard. What with the roast joints, Indonesian special, home-baked cake, cooked breakfasts... and all in seemingly unlimited quantities. Thanks once again.
look at it before he disappeared. After waiting a while, another two people arrived and they managed to get the minibus going again. Hurray! We got back to the accommodation, had showers and enjoyed what was left of the evening. During the day, I was using the letters of the alphabet for each seperate problem I had to deal with; by the end of the day, I managed to get to the letter ‘T’ worryingly only 6 letters left in the alphabet.....Oh well, we could always have continued onto AA, BB, CC...! The next day, all was working well with the minibuses, until we were returning back to the accommodation in the afternoon. The ‘normally’ working minibus, started to make some slight noise, which was coming from the engine, everytime you turned the steering wheel. I had a look at the engine and noticed that the power steering fluid was now low and that the power steering pipe had started to leak. When I noticed this, the other minibus then arrived, stalled its engine when parking and once again we couldn’t get going again. We now had both minibuses out of action, with everybody covered in mud wanting to go to the local leisure centre for their shower as it was the last evening, so I asked them to go and have a cup of tea or two or three for a little while, whilst we dealt with the these issues! As I have quite a lot of experience with working on engines, I noticed that the leaking pipe can be easily fixed. Therefore, I checked what the correct powered steering fluid was needed for the minibus and sent Ralph on a mission to go and purchase a bottle from the local Ford dealerships, so we could get the minibus operational again as soon as possible. Whilst he was gone, I managed to disconnect and repair the leaking joint on the pipe work, of which, I have found out since from Bungle after he has looked into the fault, that it is a common issue on these types of engines, so he has ordered the replacement part to resolve this from happening again. As I didn’t have my own tools with me, they were conviently left back at home, so it was quite a challenge when all I had to fix it was with an adjustable spanner, from our ‘useful tool box’ and a Swiss Army Knife, that I borrowed off Ralph. It’s a good job I like challenges! Once Ralph returned, we filled the system back up, checked it all over to make sure everything was working correctly
Break time: “just missing the sea lapping our toes” and that it was safe to drive. We then done the several journeys to and from the showers so we could return the volunteers back home in the morning clean! The next day, the mechanics came out and temporarily fixed the other van so it could make its way onto the next camp at Swansea, where the starter motor was finally replaced, and that both minibuses were fully operational once again. We normally do not have any issues with the minibuses whilst on our camps, but I think they were all saved up and desided to all happen at once towards the end of our camp! Thank you everyone on camp for your patience whilst all this was happening and for all your hard work, humour and company all week. Also another big thanks to Brian, David A and a couple of other people, who kept a constant supply of tea being brought out to me when I was repairing the minibuses, it was much appreciated! I think the best quote of the week will have to go to the staff at the local leisure centre, where we had permission to use their showers each evening. As we all arrived on Sunday, two of the staff were just finishing cleaning the changing rooms and shower areas, only to turn around and see us all covered head to foot in mud. They looked at each other and said “I think we better leave it for now and come back later!!!” So that’s it from me, but I decided to ask a few other people write a short piece, to show you all what the week was like from their different perspectives. See previous pages for their comments. Chris Byrne
Machine operators: do you know all the signals that a banksman might give? Banksmen: do you know the right signals to use?
Toolbox Talk Banksman signals
Banksman signals What is a banksman? A banksman is a person who assists in the safe operation of a vehicle or machine by giving signals to the driver. Doing this safely relies on using a set of clearly defined signals that can be easily understood by the banksman and the driver. The standard signals defined in Health & Safety regulations are illustrated on the following pages, but before looking at them please consider the following points. When should a banksman be used? A banksman is needed when the driver’s view is obstructed so that they cannot see to do the job safely on their own. This could include: Reversing a van onto a trailer Manoeuvring a vehicle or machine in a confined space or close to an edge Tipping a large dumper whose raised bucket obstructs the driver’s view Reversing a van and trailer off the worksite onto a road Using an excavator to reach down into a lock chamber where the driver can’t see Taking a machine along a towpath where the driver might not see walkers approaching
. . . . . .
Can you avoid it? In some of the above examples it might be possible to re-design the job so that the driver can see what they’re doing and a banksman isn’t needed. Think about it. Where to stand. The banksman needs to find a safe place to stand, where they: Can see and be seen clearly by the driver Are clear of any danger from the vehicle or machine, or other hazards such a drop Have a clear view of the job
. . .
Understand each other. The banksman and driver need to ensure that they both fully understand the job and can communicate properly using the appropriate signals, before starting work. If you’re the driver and you don’t understand the signals you are being given, stop work and speak to the banksman. If you’re the banksman and the driver doesn’t seem to be doing what you want, give the signal to stop and discuss it with them. Only one banksman. There can be a temptation for more than one person to join in and start giving signals to the same machine operator. This is generally not a good idea: it may result in the driver receiving conflicting signals. If you’re the driver and you find two people signalling to you, make it clear that you only want directions from one person. If you’re a banksman and find somebody else giving signals, tell them to stop. NOTE: there is occasionally an exception to this, where you need two banksmen to carry out two different functions - for example if you are reversing a machine while lifting or dragging a load, you may need one person to watch the load and another to guide you as you reverse. Make sure all three of you understand fully what you’re doing, and who’s watching what. PPE In addition to whatever site procedures have been agreed regarding the wearing of safety equipment, banksmen working with machines should wear hi-vis vests or jackets. It’s also a good idea when reversing a van out onto a road, but probably not necessary when backing onto a trailer in a village hall car park.
For a video showing the signals illustrated on the next two pages, see www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/safetysigns/banksman
START Palms facing towards machine operator
END Hands clasped at chest height
LOWER Forearm makes slow circular movements
STOP Palms facing towards machine operator
RAISE Forearm makes slow circular movements
VERTICAL DISTANCE The hands indicate the relevant distance
MOVE TOWARDS ME
MOVE AWAY FROM ME
Forearms make slow movements towards body Forearms make slow movements away
MOVE TO MY RIGHT Make small horizontal movements with hand
HORIZONTAL DISTANCE The hands indicate the relevant distance
MOVE TO MY LEFT Make small horizontal movements with hand
EMERGENCY STOP Palms facing forwards
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties
Oct 19/20 wrgBITM Wendover Arm: Footpath construction at Whitehouses. Oct 19/20 wrgNW Assisting Operation Starburst: Cleanup in Manchester (see below) Oct 19/20 London WRG Somersetshire Coal Canal: Scrub bashing, and maybe construction wor Oct 19/20 IWA Manchester Operation Starburst: Canal Cleanup in 5 locations. Meet Portland Basin, As Oct 26 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, Oct 26-Nov 2 Camp 201321 Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Bank protection, towpath constructio 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 Oct 31 Thu wrgNW Ad Hoc meeting, 7.30pm Nov 1-7 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend Fri-Thu. Bed & bank lining. Nov 2/3 wrgNW Montgomery Canal: Trial excavation of a railway embankment to find a Nov 9/10 WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash: Cotswold Canals. See page 5 and book online o Nov 9/10 London WRG WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Cotswold Canals Nov 9/10 KESCRG WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Cotswold Canals Nov 9/10 WBDCS/IWA Worcester & Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns 10am-3pm each Nov 9 Sat WRG Committee & Board Meetings: at Bonfire Bash Nov 14 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Hedge laying and planting on the Leek Arm. Meet at Ladde Nov 16/17 wrgBITM Somersetshire Coal Canal Nov 16 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Nov 16 Sat IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amNov 16 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Nov 21 Thu IWA Warks Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Nov 23/24 NWPG Cotswold Canals: Ham Mill Lock Nov 23/24 London WRG Possible dig, venue to be confirmed Nov 23 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, litt Dec 6-12 WAT Wendover Arm: ‘Seven-day weekend’ work party Fri-Thu. Bed & bank l Dec 7/8 KESCRG Chichester Ship Canal: Joint Christmas Dig with London WRG. Venue to Dec 7/8 London WRG Chichester Ship Canal: Joint Christmas dig with KESCRG. Venue to be c Dec 7/8 wrgNW Lancaster Canal: (to be confirmed) Dec 7/8 Essex WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Dec 7/8 IWA ChelmsfordChelmer & Blackwater Navigation: With Essex WRG Dec 8 Sun IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Hedge planting at Willow Cottage Bridge, near Cheddleto Dec 14/15 wrgBITM Grantham Canal: Xmas Work Party Dec 17 Tue IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amDec 19 Thu IWA Warks Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Dec 19 Thu IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Dec 21 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201323 Uttoxeter Canal: Christmas Camp. Leaders: Gary Summers and Pete Fl Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201324 Cotswold Canals: Christmas Camp.
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201321' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, firstname.lastname@example.org. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, email@example.com
Dave Wedd David McCarthy rk. Tim Lewis shton-under-Lyne Alison Smedley litter pick Ian Price on and vegetation clearance
Mavis Paul Liz & Mike Chase Roger Leishman a canal bridge. David McCarthy or using form on page 6 Tim Lewis Bobby Silverwood h day Bill Lambert Mike Palmer eredge Country Park. Bob Luscombe Dave Wedd David McCarthy -4pm Bob Luscombe ath work. Brian Bayston ath work. Brian Bayston Bill Nicholson Tim Lewis ter pick 10am-4pm Ian Price lining. Roger Leishman o be confirmed Bobby Silverwood confirmed Tim Lewis David McCarthy John Gale Roy Chandler on Bob Luscombe Dave Wedd -4pm Bob Luscombe ath work. Brian Bayston ath work. Brian Bayston David McCarthy eming
01252-874437 01706-211377 07802-518094 07779-090915 07971-444258 01494-783453 01494-783453 07725-464611 01442-874536 01706-211377 01494-783453 07802-518094 07971-814986 01564-785293 07710-054848 01252-874437 01706-211377 07710-054848 01926-831508 01926-831508 01844-343369 07802-518094 07971-444258 01442-874536 07971-814986 07802-518094 01706-211377 01376-334896 07710-054848 01252-874437 07710-054848 01926-831508 01926-831508 01706-211377 01494-783453 01494-783453
bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
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 societiesâ€™ 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 Every Friday 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 Every Wed/Sat/Sun 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 Terry Brown 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 John Hughes 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 01889-567574 01543-374370 07802-973228 01603-738648 01444-414413 01757-638027 01394-380765 01744-600656 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)
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.lastname@example.org, for example email@example.com 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.
Abbreviations used in Diary: BCA BCNS BuCS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT ECPDA FIPT GCS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT
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
KESCRG LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SCS SNT SORT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society 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
Our regular roundup of progress on restoration projects kicks off with an update from a group restoring an arm of the Grand Union Canal...
Wendover Arm Wendover Arm July Working Party: Thanks to good weather the target of another 20 metres of lining was completed by the Wendover Arm Trust’s volunteers; very repetitive work until we reach Bridge 4A and the next bund.
Pictures by WAT
KESCRG camp: In July KESCRG continued their good work at Whitehouses, rebuilding the brickwork that had the wrong lime mortar and continuing with the construction of the footpath/nature trail from Bridge 4 to Whitehouses. [See camp report in last issue ...Ed] The Trust’s thanks to IWA honorary consultant engineer Roy Sutton who has been a tremendous help with the work at Whitehouses, including the proper use of lime mortar. to line up with the groove in the wharf wall for the operating rod (see picture, above). August Working Party: There was a On the first Sunday work commenced problem with this working party as, at first, it on the relining of Stage 2 by the Trust’s seemed as if there would not be enough volunteers and by the end of the working volunteers to staff what has been our annual party on the following Sunday work was nine-day working party. rapidly approaching the end of Stage 2. It was decided to start on the Sunday On the last Saturday we welcomed rather than the Saturday as KESCRG were assistance from RAF Halton who cut up 6 with us at Whitehouses for the weekend and rolls of Bentomat and laid the blocks and coir needed Ray’s assistance for relaying the rolls (pictured, below) on the bank lining coping stones on the old wharf wall that had completed during the week. been repaired by KESCRG after the coping Roger Leishman stones had been removed. Ray knew the correct location of the stones and was operating our hydraulic grab for lifting and placing the stones. The exact location of the coping stones longitudinally was fixed by the stone that had the fixing bolts for the paddle that used to control draining the canal into Wilstone Reservoir via the old pumping shaft. This paddle was relocated on the 18” pipeline carrying the water from Wendover. Remarkably, after over 100 years, the holding down bolts complete with nuts for the paddle gear and hole through the stone for the paddle operating rod are still in place. As the paddle is to be returned to its former use, care had to be taken to locate the stone
...followed by an update from another group also restoring an arm of the Grand Union Canal a little way further north...
to life our important industrial heritage, along with the green spaces and canals The Buckingham Canal Society continues to around Buckingham.” battle the odds and is nearing a huge mileMeanwhile work at the Cosgrove end of st stone in celebration of its 21 Birthday year. the canal where it meets the Grand Union Work to restore the canal at the Bourton Main Line had to be put on hold due to land owner consents being withdrawn. This has Meadow section near Buckingham has pronow been resolved and formal lease docugressed well during the summer with the ments will be drawn up shortly to enable good weather enabling contractors to finish access with excavators to resume, hopefully their part of the project ahead of plan. The contractors’ key task was to profile and exca- over the coming winter. vate the channel back to near the original clay. Bentonite liner was then used including two bunded ends. Since the end of July, volunteers have been completing the work, including hedge cutting, rebuilding the towpath, seeding the bank with wild flower mix, placing coir mats ready for planting and creating monks drains for water level management. At the time of writing, it was hoped that the rewatering will commence over the August bank holiday weekend [This was in fact achieved - see back cover pic ...Ed]. Further planting and landscaping will also continue over the next year or so. The relining and restoration for this section has been largely funded via WREN Above: installing the waterproof lining (Waste Recycling Environmental, an organiBelow: first boat arrives - before the water! sation which distributes landfill tax to environmental projects) through the Landfill Communities’ Fund. The general public were due to see some of the work during the Heritage Weekend event on 15th September 2013. An official re-opening is planned for 26th October 2013. The Society is working with the support of the local councils and residents living near Buckingham, who see the restored waterway as a huge community asset. Terry Cavender of BCS explains: “Restoration of the green space that the canal area offers has been the main appeal to the community. Alongside this there are potential flood management aspects that the waterway can also provide. We had a real desire to get involved and begin restoring our local waterside area. It’s been really rewarding and satisfying to be part of making a difference in bringing back Pictures by BCS
Progress River Gipping
Meanwhile in Suffolk the River Gipping Trust are fitting replacement river control sluice gates and preparing to install a new bridge
River Gipping Thanks to the warm dry summer the River Gipping Trustâ€™s volunteers have been able to complete the installation of the new sluice gates at Baylham Mill, between Needham Market and Great Blakenham. The Sluice was originally used by the miller to control water levels in the main channel to ensure a sufficient supply of water to the mill to operate the mill wheel. It was also essential in maintaining sufficient depth of water to allow for navigation above Baylham Lock. By installing the new sluice we are are moving one step nearer achieving our aim of returning limited navigation to this stretch of the Gipping. The timbers for the new sluice had been in store since their fabrication last Autumn and we were a little anxious that the natural drying processes would have affected them, but thanks to the quality of the workmanship and the careful management of the installation process, the new framework fitted perfectly. Our other project at Pipps Ford is progressing well. We are nearing completion of the new bridge abutments for the timber bridge which will replace the existing causeway. We are expecting the timber for the bridge itself to be ready for construction in early October. Our Interpretative display at the museum of Rural life at Stowmarket is also now complete with the addition of a model of a working lock, kindly supplied by the owner of the lock at Pipps Ford.
Installing the heavy timbers of the sluice framework
The completed sluice installation
...while on the Sussex Ouse, the complete rebuild of Isfield Lock continues to make good progress - plus a novel fundraising appeal for the Chesterfield
Sussex Ouse and Chestefield
Irongate Lock: To date no further work has been carried out at this site. The lock lies at the southern end of the National Trust property at Sheffield Park. With restoration work focused on Isfield Lock, Irongate lock still remain in the sights of SORT for future restoration with the help of the National Trust. Terry Owen
Isfield Lock: During the summer months great progress has been made by the Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust’s volunteers working on the restoration of Isfield Lock on the Sussex Ouse. Although the wonderful summer weather has contributed, the effort put in by Ted Lintott and his team week after week deserves more than a passing mention. In June it was reported that the wharf wall restoration was underway. That work is now virtually complete and the wall looks as good as new. Considering there was no evidence as to how the wall would have looked 200 years ago, the photograph shows what a splendid job they have done in rebuilding it. The wall would have originally served the canal traffic that carried the materials and finished products to and from the paper mill that stood on the west side of the lock between 1810 and 1850. One ground paddle has been fully restored and is now in position and the rebuilding of the banks of the upper cut is nearing completion. The stop plank grooves still await lining and this is one of the final tasks to be completed by SORT this season. All in all the work achieved so far this year is a credit to the SORT workforce. For more details and any offers of help contact Ted Lintott on 01444-414413.
Chesterfield Canal Concrete neded!
The last two weeks in August saw two WRG camps at Staveley on the Chesterfield Canal [See camp report, p44]. They have been helping the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s own Work Party with the building of Staveley Town Lock. Following the opening of Staveley Town Basin in January 2012, there has been only sporadic work on the lock. However things started in earnest at the Canal Festival at the end of June. Since then hundreds of blocks and bricks have been laid, a secure compound has been built, footings for a new washwall have been excavated and concrete poured for foundations. In addition several Trust members have learnt how to drive excavators and dumper trucks. The Chesterfield Canal Trust has raised over £30,000 so far with its Donate a Brick for Staveley Town Lock Appeal. However the money is now being spent at an alarming rate, so the Trust is making a fresh appeal. In the next few weeks, they will be pouring hundreds of cubic metres of concrete. This is delivered by lorry and is hugely expensive. You can Donate a Cubic Metre of Concrete for £80. If you Gift Aid your donation, it becomes worth £100. All donations will be acknowledged on the Trust’s website and in its magazine, Cuckoo (unless requested otherwise). The Trust will provide a certificate. Donate a brick or a cubic metre of concrete on chesterfield-canaltrust.org.uk or send a cheque (made out to the Chesterfield Canal Trust) to the Treasurer at 47, Whitecotes Park, Walton, Chesterfield, The completed wharf wall at Isfield S40 3RT.
Camp report Cotswold Canals Canal Camp 05: Not So Much The Lichfield… …More, The Cotswolds (again) So there we were, Becky Parr and I (or Peter & Dudley for those as get the above reference!), doing our usual leadership coordinating impressions and wondering how we’d drum up a bit of support for this year’s Canal Camps programme. One of our ideas was to set an example by leading a camp ourselves and our first choice was the Lichfield as their plans sounded rather fun.
We’re going to the Lichfield…
Trust by then, they had no choice but to cancel. We really felt for them, but with the benefit of the clear and rational light of the next day, I’d suggest that they do not plan camps into the school terms in future and do not plan them with the WRG leaders until suitable accommodation - has been agreed in writing. But I’m sure the L&HCRT are fed up with post-event wisdom by now and the good news is that work on the Tamworth Road locks – A38 bypass section has carried on in the hands of the locals in leaps and bounds. Adrian Sturgess, who’d booked onto our Camp, remained at Lichfield during that week in order to help progress things.
We went to the Cotswolds A quick call from Jenny Morris to Jon Pontefract, the canal project manager down at Stroud District Council, resulted in something along the lines of “just send ‘em along; we’ve got loads of work for them!” They had. On a previous Camp with Ed Walker, I’d been one of the volunteers to make a start on restoring the spill weir at Griffins Mill Lock (GML) and top of our list was to finish it.
Come the build-up to the Camp, however, the accommodation situation wasn’t sounding too clever at all and Martin Thompson’s camp on the same site had already been cancelled due to the weather. In the end, we site-visited the accomm, twice! On the second visit, which included Harri Wood, our cook, we agreed a list of additional requirements to make things more practical and habitable before whizzing over to the site and checking out the work plan. Cue another list of requirements being agreed with top of the list being a written project plan with method statements from the L&HCRT. All agreed, I resolved to email summaries of both these conversations during the week and went home. By Tuesday, the Scouts’ leader responsible for the accommodation had changed and so had his policy on “externals” using the hut. There being no other workable Putting the option open to the
Three weeks’ work on the Cotswold Canals at and around Griffin Mill Lock kicks off with a camp that shouldn’t have been there at all...
finishing touches on the bywash weir
Bricklaying on the nearside chamber wall Alongside that, there was the tail end bund to remove and the brickwork to finish on GML and the matter of a dam to install across the bridge ’ole to the tail end of Ham Mill Lock (HML). Between HML and GML, a leak through the towpath to the river below was evident so some investigative work was required to determine the source. The accommodation was Unit 1 at Brimscombe Port which has a couple of advantages over the old Unit 4: it has windows – opening ones - in the sleeping accommodation and it is closer to the pub. Bex and the volunteers did an absolutely superb job of making it homely in the time it took me to actually get there. We divided the work into some basic operations and teams: sh**-shifting with machines (removing bund, saving topsoil, backfilling, topsoiling and grading the offside of the lock bank and grading the nearside towpath), doing things to the spill weir (taking out and diverting a drainage pipe, progressing to brickwork, stonework and final hard and soft landscaping), brickwork (dove-
tailing with the spill weir work via the mixing which was set up between the two and next to the site stores), the dam and leak-chasing. I ran around the outside of all of this in ever decreasing circles taking levels of things of which one more comment comes later. Bex had eyes everywhere and kept a watch on everything, which is one of the things that make her such a good leader. The site was re-organised on the first day and a walk through the required operations on the sh**-shifting resulted in the decision to order in an additional 3-tonne excavator to site between the existing 1.5t machine and a hired 5-tonner. This decision proved its worth. There were two dumpers, a hired 3t Neuson (you must drive one – smooth and easy, which is safer!) and WRG’s 1t front wheel drive Winget. We decided early-on that having got the measure of our newbies (Joe & Leon, deckhands by day, WRGies by holiday and Declan and Ismail, students by day and completing their DoE) that even they would probably make competent machine operators, so we invested some time in training newbies up early. This is potentially a risky approach, but for us it paid off and the work took off once we’d got everyone up to the level whereby they could operate under observation. Obviously, this only works if you have enough of the right instructors to do the observing and a few evening huddles in the project office (err, my campervan, actually) were needed to plan the next days’ work teams! I certainly hope that those who we signed off have indeed applied for their ‘tickets’ by now as we’d really like them back to help out on future projects! All this was aided and abetted by our MUP, yer actual Squidge Scicluna, who was a highly reliable source of support throughout the week and Harri Wood, our cook, whose irrepressible sense of humour, not to mention her happiness to look after Syd the dog whilst owner Andi K was doing her thing on site, was another major support. Trainers were mainly Paul Shaw and Alan Lines, with the week finishing on a high for Alan, as his experience was called for in getting the 5tonner and its (experienced) operator out of the lock approach, it having been used to dig out its way in! John ‘The Hawk’ led the spill weir task and trained on brickery-mixery too; once this guy gets his teeth into something, well, you know the rest!
Cotswold Canals Phase 1a length: Stonehouse to Brimscombe via Stroud
To Saul Stonehouse
Length from Stonehouse via Stroud to below Bowbridge Lock: restoration by contractors mostly complete
Ham Mill Lock (restoration mainly by WRG / Dig Deep visiting groups, recently started)
Goughs Orchard Lock (restoration by CCT / WRG / Dig Deep nearing completion) Hope Mill Lock (buried we’ll need to find it before we restore it)
It’s always worth it! The result of all this was that the spill weir was, effectively, finished, as was the dam. All other areas were at least moved a fair bit forward and the situation made clearer for the locals (meaning: oh my word, there was how much earth in that bund?!)
Learning points? Ye-esss. (1)
If you take a set of levels that make sense to the local project manager when you give them the difference in mm but no sense in any other way, try remembering that if it’s a fall you’re measuring, you need to express them in minus figures of height! “Oops,” said Mk2. Don’t start anything for which you haven’t got a risk assessment and method statement at the start of the week when it’s clear you already have enough to do. (and/or is offsite and contains a large bees’ nest… we didn’t and we’re glad) If someone comes along to the Camp on crutches, having just had an ankle op, sit them in a tall chair with a lap tray, address them as “dear” and give them lots of veggie-prep to do and occasionally wheel them to a window to get some vittie-D. They won’t go at all stir-crazy, will they, Kirsty?! Ducks. D’you know the thing with ducks? Well, when mummy duck has her wee ducklings they all follow her around, don’t they? And if one duckling accidentally gets separated from the rest of the family, it risks getting aban-
Bowbridge Lock (to be restored mainly by CCT)
Goughs Orchard Lock (already restored mainly by WRG) Brimscombe Port
doned unless it can get back to mama. But you try telling one to squeak. At the point during the Camp when we were just about pumping the invert dry, we found a family of ducklings on the wrong side of the stop planks, with mummy duck not sure how to get her kids out. In fear of their being sucked up through the pump (this would not be the right way out) Operation ‘Catch the Ducklings’ was launched by Andi K, Bex and Leon. All the ducklings were caught until Bex lost one when it fell out of her hands. Those ducklings caught were released into the canal on the other side of the bund and swam very fast to mum, after Andi somehow made them squeak to attract her attention! Bex was in bits due to the lost duckling and although Leon did his best to find it, to no avail. However, later that day, it was found swimming on the other side of the chamber with mum flying overhead (big ‘phew’ heard from Bex). So those learning points, then? Well, they’re wriggly buggers when held and go quiet when you need them to squeak! And no method statement was used in this exercise, probably because there wasn’t one. Many thanks to Jon, Steve and the CCT team for hosting us in a great accommodation and organising supplies and equipment so readily, the Ship Inn for putting up with us, Bex for leading by such a good example and of course, Jenny Morris for an awful lot of background facilitation to even get us there. Mark Antony ‘Mk2’ Richardson
Back to Griffin Mill in August for the official Cotswold canal camps and another fortnight of rebuilding Griffin Mill Lock
Camp report Cotswold Canals again
reason why some of us go on WRG camps. Camp 12, Cotswold Canals BRICKS, BRICKS, & MORE BRICKS Even so, I shouldn’t use up valuable Navvies column space with all the niceties, but will (Oh, and lots of mortar!)
say that the chicken & mozzarella in sauce, and the strawberry & white chocolate mousse cake on Thursday were fantastic! Arriving usefully early on Saturday I was despatched in vehicle SAD to Stroud station to collect the 2nd of two young French girls on camp - Alienor (Ali), taking with me the first one, Zoe, and Phil ‘The Bitch’. Shouting English loudly cuts through all language barriers (doesn’t it?) but I needn’t have worried as Ali was very proficient and had just completed 2 weeks of volunteering with National Trust (can I say that name in Navvies?). In fact, a couple of days later and Ali was able to translate for me something Phil had been chuntering on about! With everyone assembled leader Martyn & assistant Phil gave the customary safety
Do you like those camp reports in Navvies? The ones that are in strict chronological order, use the proper names for technical parts, never miss out the name of a single volunteer, and where the writer seems to have seen everything that happened? They’ll be using pie charts & graphs next! Either the writer has eyes up his/her place where the sun doesn’t shine and makes copious notes at the end of every day with the use of a contribution from all present, or is just very clever - because the reports are usually very good. Well, this one may not be! I am getting hopeless at remembering names, places and events, and was a late (only) entrant in the ‘Report Writing Sweepstake’ whilst snuggled down cosily in Unit 1 Brimscombe Port Industrial Estate back in early August. I hope that you will read it anyway... What good accommodation B.P.I.E. units make! Unit 1 challenges Unit 4 which I experienced a couple of years ago, but is let down by the indoor football & rounders pitches being much smaller, and by the very tiny washingup room – plus the tap drips! The carpeted dining room and individual carpeted bedrooms are equal, but those sports pitches – tuh! Eight socket outlets in a small bedroom is a huge plus – no queuing here to recharge mobile phones! Our main task was to rebuild the nearside wall of Griffins Mill Lock. I guess that I should aim for chronological order, but all the days involved bricks and mortar so are indistinguishable (you can pick up any edition of Navvies for reports on superb rebuilding of one structure or another, so I won’t go into detail here) whereas the meals and evening activities usually differentiate the days. Our evening meals were deliciously different (thank you ‘Teapot’ Shuttering-up for the lock gate quadrant base Tania), and, let’s face it, are the real
els were flashing like épées (or sabres or foils – choose your weapon) even though the weather was dull with light showers. Local CCT volunteers were also busy on site. Sleepy Dave had a new toy! A brand new shining, orange coloured Kubota excavator which, I understand, has been put in place as part of a generous ‘test period’ arrangement. Poor old ‘Blue’ is hoping to be ‘put out to mud’ with a canal trust. Later in the week Sarah had a short training session on the new machine, and debated whether to call it Ernie or Derek (excavator/ digger) - we can hardly call it Orange, can we? Then Zoe had training and soon got all the basic operations moving very smoothly. The smile on her face afterwards was a sight to behold, and why not as she had no problem with the bucket of water in the bucket test! Ali was quick to fit in on any task asked of her – landscaping/fencing/digging out ½ telegraph poles – and quickly got the hang of typical WRGie back-chat, giving as good as she got. RAF Martin left for some days at Rob at work ‘in his dark pit’ in the gate recess w.o.r.k. as did Alan, and Phil had some business back home too; but Patrick talk, though our visitors must have wonarrived, Rob Brotherston moved down under dered what the numerous references to ‘bits the scaffold to replace RAF, John ‘The & bobs’ and ‘whatnots’ were all about. (A Hawkmeister’ Hawkins did his usual 18 hour website translates whatnots to the same in days, and even more people seemed to be French, but bits and bobs becomes ‘babioles’, laying bricks. A length of old gas main had and when reversed becomes ‘trinkets’!) to be excavated & cut by the team who A change in the introductory talks was erected a fence around part of the by-pass the addition of a catering one by Teapot, weir. Other teams in the course of the week though the biggest change was getting used laid the foundations of the new balance to Martyn’s new ‘mutton chops’ beard. We beam quadrants, landscaped between the were asked not to feed the dogs present and, lock and the adjoining railway boundary, and with perfect timing, Steve’s dog, Millie, gave more did some work on the stone lower out a perfect ‘oohhh’ of disappointment. wing-wall. Rob remained in his dark pit on A fairly gentle start on site on Sunday the recess, though he did get a little weary of morning given site familiarisation & job dirt down his shirt neck every time someallocation, but soon enough the rumble of body moved on the upper scaffold level (ably the mixer was heard, though it was frechecked for compliance each morning my quently interrupted by RAF Martin’s disc Hannah), and when it was suggested that he cutter which took most of the output of the move to another task, did think he might like generator - he was doing his speciality of to do some litter-picking! ladder recess cutting! Alan ‘Useful’ Lines But, a WRGie camp without a Burco is trained Nicky on the dumper, and she took to not a happy one, and for3 or 4 days we it like a duck to water. Young DofE’er awaited the delivery of a replacement tap. It Hannah meanwhile took to bricklaying like a didn’t arrive in our week, and we never did duck to mortar, and couldn’t be prised off it find out how the original came to be broken all week. Soon the cries of “more mor’aaar” in the first place, though Rachel was wrongly or “more bricks” were heard as several trow- blamed. Over-work maybe? Hopefully the
· · · · · · · The chamber wall nears coping stone height following camp got it all sorted and didn’t have to resort to trips to the sauna of the CCT caravan for boiled water. Wednesday evening brought fish & chips delivered to the Stroud Council Office canteen, followed by a trip on the CCT boat from Ebley Wharf to Ryeford Double Lock, with Zoe & Ali experiencing their first operational lock by doing it themselves. The Ship Inn at Brimscombe took most of our pub activity, though a micro-brewery at Nailsworth was visited, and one in Stroud following the boat trip. Here a woman hugged me as she said she liked to hug ‘old men’. Poor woman! She was later found in an adjoining room sitting in her own puddle. I thought she had problems. Rob finally met his match with a jigsaw puzzle! Team WRGie had helped with one, but seemed to leave him to another which showed mostly ploughed field and, remarkably, that didn’t get finished. I will finish for the sake of space with bullet points:
· · ·
Ali was impressed by Karl’s ability to do all his tasks from a yoga position. Phil & Alan returned on Friday, as did RAF Martin. John offered his cherry to anyone who wanted it.
· · · · · ·
I suffered minor road-rage at Tesco’s – calling a lad an ‘arrogant tit’ much to everyone’s amusement. A card-player commented one evening that he had 2 spades – with ’Arry quipping “that’s the most you have had in your hands all day!” We learned that the UN says the hoverflies are a good source of protein. Ali was given a kitchen pinny at evening meal following 2 previous messy attempts to find her mouth with her cutlery. Michael worked the mixer for 3 days and finally had to speed-up, looking more like a young Michael Schumacher than ever. My dog ‘Forknose’ got up to his usual mischief – his highlight was frightening ‘Arry in a toilet cubicle in the middle of one night. RAF Martin was seen sporting a 2013 WRG shirt – though his ‘holy’ one did make an appearance. Sarah & Nicky walked the towpath to site one morning, with Sarah having an upset as her observations of a cute baby moorhen had been cut short by a seagull snatching it for breakfast. John sulked much of the week because I hadn’t brought to camp my usual offering of chocolate brownie and rock cakes. Martyn had to be loudly shouted-down to stop him play-acting to Zoe why Welsh sheep farmers find wellington boots so useful. CCT Chairman Mike Guest made more than one appearance during the week and was always pleased with the progress we were making. David, Michelle, Colin, Andy & another Michael have not been mentioned above but they, and we, know that they played their part. Rob’s birthday cake was a little early at the table – he hadn’t quite finished his 3rd helping of dinner.
I think I have mentioned almost everything I recall – but not necessarily in the right order! It was a good camp, and we left with the coping stones almost on the brink of being replaced. Richard Tyler
Camp report Cotswold Canals
Determined to make life hard for the editor, the folks on the final Cotswold camp have sent in prose and poetry camp reports and challenged him to lay them out in parallel...
Camp 14: Cotswold Canals in prose...
...and in poetry
The work was to continue the restoration of Griffins Mill Lock on the Thames and Severn Canal. Before we arrived one lock wall was complete and the other almost to height. The incomplete wall was brought up to height and some of the coping stones were carefully positioned with a combination of excavator action, iron bars and brute force. Nick organised the operation whilst Nigel drove the excavator and Nadine and Victor provided the muscle power. Nadine said she knew how the Egyptians felt. Throughout the week Rob was the master of the ladder recess with Zoe and Aimee as his able apprentices. Meanwhile Inka in the wee cubby hole (paddle culvert) by the gate recess and was pointing like Harry Potter under the stairs, which oddly was where Kirsty had elected to sleep back at Brimscombe. Paul , Iain, Colin, Chris R, Tracy and Nadine worked on the stone wall at the bottom of the lock bringing it up to height, placing the coping stones on top and pointing up the mortar. As the wall vanishes into the bund this also involved Tracy and Nadine “furtling” around in the undergrowth. Mick showed Lucy how to lay bricks on the section of wall joining the stone wall and the lock wall and soon discovered she had a natural gift for this work and was awesome. It was Lucy’s first camp, but she was serene and zen-like throughout. By the end of the week the wall was complete except the final soldier course. The rest of the crew were kept occupied with the vital “support” roles. Patrick did a sterling job of mixing the muck all week for everyone on site.- and also provided thorough training at the task to Kirsty who took over for one day. Val and Kirsty however spent much of the week by the brick pile, cleaning away there—but also got to place and lay some of those very bricks later on in the week. Pete was sent off site to do another job for one day but was bricksaw chief cutting bricks to order. There was also a lot of general brick moving to be done by whoever was spare at the time. Alan was a star excavator instructor, training everyone interested throughout the week whenever the excavator wasn’t needed elsewhere. Back at base Sophie, with the excellent assistance of Elanor, produced vast quantities of food; including a lemon drizzle cake that was to die for.
Another camp just one year later And we were all back at Stroud Hoping the weather is good And the partying is loud
The N.H.S. management team were back So the hierarchy had been set A second week hand over for kit Means the leaders don’t need to fret A chance remark at a previous dig Means rooms are sorted out with labels The design of Colin and Nadine’s love nest Will live in WRG camp fables Breakfast cook has the room under the stairs Labelled as a cave for the troll While one volunteer slept indoors in a tent Another slept under tarpaulin and a pole Construction of the cooking area With its brick pallet wall behind And storing of all the food by Zoe So the cook can easily find The aims of the week were twofold To finish the brick work and stone wall Bonus was bricklaying master class
“Mostly an all-girl affair”
However it was not all work and no play . They let us visit the leisure centre to shower and as an extra treat some were allowed to use the Mill showers as a treat— though the book publisher couldn’t work out who we were and thought we were cleaners), very dirty cleaners. In addition, site was so close that a select few were allowed the pleasure of walking the mile or so up the towpath each day; seeing the moorhens and herons (though one moorhen with poorly leg caused some distress amongst the volunteers) and experiencing the wonderfully wide and level towpaths recently built by community service groups. Unfortunately all too often they had barely stepped back from their labours than some feckless owner had allowed their dog to deposit on the pristine fine grit. We felt the additional exercise provided by the walk was especially important for Inka so “accidentally” left without her the first day. One afternoon a group “skivved off” for the afternoon and went for a wee walk down the tow path to look at the exciting, impressive and expensive engineering and structural work at Capels Bridge. They were particularly struck by the Abstract Art effect of the rubbish poking out of the concrete pillars, as the pilings had been drilled and installed over and through the rubbish of the past decades. Wellies and old artefacts from the 1970s, for example. Away from site Jill and Clive gave us a talk on the history of the canal at the beautiful visitors centre where we had a fish and chip supper. After supper we went on a boat trip on the Endeavour, with Clive and his encyclopaedic knowledge , and the lock keeper came out and told us how he had been a lorry driver and ordered to fill the ‘cut’ with rubble until one glorious day when the order came to desist. He repeated this story word for word as each new visitor drew nigh. It was a very moving tale. Iain had never seen a lock in action before or been through a lock, so that was another first. Other evenings involved singing, a rice percussion orchestra, the cinema, jigsaws, a quiz overseen by Kirsty and, of course, the pub! On the last night there was also an awards ceremony, after which even some of the most avid jigsawers made it to the pub. Val and Helena
At Alan’s training school With Rob down his ladder recess The Brick laying was mostly an all-girl affair This raised from passing locals Both comments and some stares Two morning breakfasts routines disrupted By having frozen sausages and bacon Use of the leaders hammer bottle opener Was used to assist in the ice breaking Daily provision of several cakes To site for volunteer scoffing Means minimum pickings for poor Rob Was left at the end of day offering The varied group was enhanced By the French of Zoe and Victor And mortar was done to perfection By Patrick on the mixer Mighty mouse Nadine moved coping stones With a little help from both Victor and Nick While Val and Kirsty kept entertained By cleaning all the bricks While Lucy kept Mick in line And therefore caused no trouble Colin and Paul were searching for stone Like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble A midweek canal boat trip on Endeavour To navigate the Ryeford doubles The heavier group on the way back Gave the trip boat grounding troubles By Friday and the weather was hot And team T.E.N. who I cannot name Had topless Friday on the Scaffold Poor Chris will never be the same And so onto the last night party drinks The whole camp descends upon the Ship The noise from both groups is quite loud And Tracy goes red after a quip So Saturday we are all cleared up And so we get ready to scamp And let Nigel say with some glee Thank goodness for a twit free camp I may not have mentioned everyone But you all made a contribution With all your work, effort and fun Make WRG camps an institution. Paul
Camp report Chesterfield Canal
“In an email to London WRG before their visit in September, I described the accommodation rather unfairly as ‘the cardboard hut’.”
act (why we ever went to site when the entertainment in the accommodation was so rewarding is a mystery to me!), Steve, Chris, Friday. Lunchtime. Navvies deadline apAndy and Tina stayed on for week 2 and we proaching. Rapidly. Camp report needs were joined by Tom & Jamie (brothers), writing. Kirsty & Gemma (twin sisters but thankfully Got the picture? What follows is thus a with different haircuts) and Rex. Stephanie whistle-stop tour through the second week of and Anna also joined us briefly but unfortuChesterfield 2013... nately found that the bugs they thought they’d shaken off before arriving were still The Work: Chesterfield like to build things very much alive and kicking, and had to big – and they preferably like to use large return home. volumes of concrete, blocks, bricks and mortar. So this week we were tasked with The Accommodation: In an email to starting the construction of a new section of London WRG before their visit in September, canal wall – anyone who knows the Chester- I described it rather unfairly as ‘the cardfield restoration project will know of the board hut’. It was in fact an ex-St John’s ‘Great Wall of Staveley’: 600m of concrete Ambulance building by the cricket pitch at block wall that connected the previous limit Staveley. Lacking in a cooker, space and of navigation just east of Mill Green Bridge to running water in the kitchen (more to be told the new Hall Lane Bridge. All built by volun- by the week 1 report), it nevertheless put up teers (including WRG), that took several with 13 WRGies quite admirably for the years and was finally finished in 2012. week. At least the cricket pavilion next door The new section of wall just shows held showers, TV and a bar (roughly in order that, in their own unique way, Chesterfield of importance for me, though I suspect some obviously miss the endless block laying, and would probably reverse it). miss it badly enough that they want this next What happened: rather than a blow-bybit to be bigger. In total, the half-mile drop blow account of each day (let’s face it – we pound connecting the two new locks (to get did pretty much the same all week), I’ll tell the canal under a railway) will all be walled. you what happened in each section. Both sides. Thankfully, we only had 20m of concrete base to work on – but even then, they chose to make it 5 blocks wide (or 2.5 blocks, depending on how you want to measure it) in order to retain the greater height of bank… The People: I was conned (or cajoled/blackmailed/naïve) into leading for a second week, swapped one Vernon sibling for the other as Simon joined me as Assistant number 1 and Colin actually volunteered as Assistant number 2. Maureen and Lynne Digging out for the lower wing wall of the new lock formed a classic cooking double Chris Finn
Chesterfield Camp 19 The Great Wall of Staveley Mk2
(a) The wall: Initially, the task here was to ‘iron out’ the slight variation in level that existed in the concrete base poured during week 1. There was a bit too much concrete, and it had gone off too fast to level properly, so mortar beds ranged from 5mm thins to 35mm thicks – and then we found that even a thin wasn’t good enough and only cutting an inch off a block would work. Steve and I have laid the front face (which was relatively easy), and Tina and Simon were then faced with the mountainous base which lurked behind. Several days of back-breaking, cursing, hacking labour and they finally gave the rest of the gang a smooth surface to work on. Meanwhile I continued on the front face, laying first the second course and then concentrating on one end to get it to full height. The original plan was to have Steve build the other end so that we could string off for future courses, but there was more bricklaying than originally thought and so this plan never came to fruition. Throughout the week, the core team of me, Tina and Simon were supplemented by everyone else learning the ropes and pointing and jointing. If I were to single one perThe ‘Great Wall of Staveley Mk2’ takes shape son out, it would be Tom. Aided by several different people throughout the week (and replaced by Steve and Rex on The End: And so we reach Friday. It is a the Friday when he begged to be allowed to tradition at Chesterfield that we go to the lay blocks(?)), he mixed mortar. Fabulous Hollingwood Hub for the last night barbecue. mortar. Consistent mortar. He was, to us This year we had a twist, and in a complete block layers, ideal. juxtaposition to the manic, pulsing nature of work on site we went to the BBQ by boat - a (b) The lock:The lock? What about a lock? very slow boat, not helped by the large The wall sits below the new Staveley Town amount of weed that got stuck around the Lock, and so some work was carrying on prop. After a fabulous evening it was home, there. Steve and Chris, aided predominantly bed, and pack up. by Jamie but also by others, were finishing All in all it was a brilliant week to end off the bricklaying in the forebay of the lock. the summer. My heartfelt thanks to each and A bigger job than we all realised, they did a every one of my volunteers, cooks, assistants sterling job to get it all finished. It looks and locals. Without any of you, this camp fabulous, and now we wait to build the would have fallen apart. Do it again next brickwork on the lock itself. year? End of lunch. Back to work. Need to (c) The digger: Ok, so this was definitely finish on time to go off to Unit 1, Colin’s domain. He dug holes everywhere, Brimscombe. Another weekend. reprofiled soil heaps, moved materials… PS Yes, my use of ‘juxtaposition’ was Actually, I’m not really sure what he did all part of a bet. week, but he seemed to enjoy it. George Rogers
Camp report Swansea Canal
And finally, the last camp of the summer canal camps programme, and the first WRG camp on a new worksite - on the Swansea Canal
loosening stones from the dilapidated wall. With such vast numbers (perhaps 30) work The last camp of the summer, a WRG first, cracked on apace. and the exotic appeal of working in a foreign It had been kindly organised that were country. could eat in the next door community centre, This was WRG’s first camp on the which was a bit of luxury. Post-lunch a team Swansea canal, so we were stepping into the cleared above the lower lock of Himalayan unknown. In fact, my reaction upon being balsam and brambles. On the top lock work enlisted to assist was “there’s a canal in started exposing the spill weir wall, and Swansea?!?” There is indeed; a short 16 mile dismantling it ready to be rebuilt. Packing stretch coming down from the welsh valleys down each evening consisted of people into Swansea, but sadly never connected to having to carry away two temporary bridges any other canals and currently far from we had been using to cross the canal *insert navigable. Nonetheless a small band of jokes about stationary cars being hit by enthusiastic volunteers – the Swansea Canal moving bridges*. After a double trip back to Society (SCS) have made it their mission to the accommodation, showers and dinner, a restore the canal, and enlisted WRG’s help. group took a short night walk into the woodThe location for the week would be the land and along the derelict railway behind upper and lower locks at Trebanos. Accomthe accommodation. We knew exactly where modation was a scout hut in Ystradgynlais. we were going at all times – honest! As you can imagine much time was spent Day 3: After a double trip back to site trying to pronounce this! work continued. Excavation of the wall beDay 1: The camp started a little unfor- tween the two locks was made more memotunately, with serious van issues. Both were rable by the discovery of part of a lock gate damaged and one was broken. Praise must being used to support the wooden sill. Durgo to Bob Coles who drove admirably over ing the process our esteemed leader ended the mountains in a van that, if he stalled, he up with a welly full of mud (He wasn’t the knew he wouldn’t be able to start again. only one in the week!). The day continued Come the afternoon the campers assembled, with the CRT heritage officer David Viner as did vast swathes of SCS members and talking to everyone about making and using Canal & River Trust representatives (they lime mortar, which most of group hadn’t own the site) for the camp briefing. A less used before. It seemed things really got able leader would have been intimidated by cracking when the cement mixer got started the cast of thousands present. Formalities and the first few stones were laid. over fish and chips and doughnuts were Other people got started on willow eagerly devoured. An internet pub quiz weaving to create a living bank along the far rounded off the first evening nicely. side of the canal. For some this was the Day 2: The first day on site. For some, favourite activity of the week – and rather each day stated rather earlier than for others, unusually instruction was provided by the with our wonderful cook Elaine getting up at local county councillor! 5:30 to cook breakfast. Due to the won’tBack at base SCS historian Clive Reed start van we had to do two shifts down to provided an informative lecture on the restosite. On site were were not alone. Most of ration of the canal. Further (unplanned) enterSCS had turned up, as had a handful of CRT tainment came when people nearly had to staff. Work consisted mainly of preparing the paddle off to bed and a midnight manhole site – picking rubbish and big stones out of cover hunt ensued because of a blocked drain. the canal, sorting the stones, cutting back the Day 4: Tuesday morning and van FEH bank wall, removing the wooden sills and went off to the garage to get fixed. Getting
Swansea Camp Report
SCS people burst out into old songs. Half of them in Welsh. It was all very bizarre. Definitively a Welsh thing! Day 7: Final day on site and we were nearly done with the work. All the unused stone was moved to the far side of the canal to allow SCS to continue the work, whilst removing the potential for the local youths to have ‘fun’. The spill weir wall was almost complete by the time we ran out of lime. Work finished after lunch (again sunbathing in the park) and we traipsed back for the kit check. Martin Ludgate came to take the WRG van away, and we were left to drink beer (donated by SCS) and a whole crate of wine (given by a randomer!). The result seems to have been the invention of ultimate ping-pong. And thus ended Swansea 2013. A week where not a minute was lost to rain, but many minutes were lost entertaining the local dog, where we made a splash in the local media, did some good work, and were brilliantly looked after by the Swansea locals. Our gratitude must go to them – it’s the camp to go on next year guys! Many Thank You’s must go to all the wonderful campers – you were real stars and worked so hard; to Elaine our fine cook who kept us going all week and a final thanks to Mr Bob Crow our esteemed leader. It’s always great working with you. Come find me anytime if you need reminding quite how old you are! Katrina Schonhut
down to site was much quicker after this! On the spill wier laying the stones continued in earnest, fuelled by copious amounts of mortar. Meanwhile between the two locks the flow was partially sandbagged and dry stone walling began. Adjacent to the lower lock the rebuilding of a wall started, mainly by the CRT guys. Lunch moved to the adjacent park where we picnicked and sunbathed. The evening brought apple pie specially baked the SCS treasurer’s wife. A trip to Swansea revealed cook Elaine’s secret talent for bowling and the leadership team’s inability to count to 13 people. Day 5: A slow start on site, hindered by a skip delivery, but a turning point in terms of work. Laying on the spill weir and dry stoning continued apace, as did the rebuilding of wall by the lower lock. Throughout the day we had a multitude of visitors. First we had the photographer from the Evening Post who made us look ridiculous standing in the middle of the canal holding a teapot and mugs (Food hygiene!). After that the mayor turned up. Lunch was very kindly and amazingly laid on by the ladies of SCS – complete with tablecloths, real plates and copious amounts of cake. So good! Some of our youngsters proved that the canal was still usable, demonstrating that yellow trug buckets were perfect to be used as ‘boats’. Day 6: The dry stone walling was completed, backfilled and had new wooden sills placed on top. The result looked really superb. The lower lock wall was also completed and again looked really good. The spill weir work carried on going. The brick saw made an exciting appearance being used to cut through a huge and thick metal pipe. Shared between three of us it was eventually defeated. Our media appearances kept racking up, this time with BBC Wales (Welsh and English language) coming to film pieces. Several of our DofE-ers did wonderful interviews with the rest of us busy working in the background. Watching it back online, spotting my knees on national TV was fun! The highlight of the day was more hospitality laid on the SCS. This time the bought us all drinks at a Buddy Holly themed pub, which we felt right at home in since it was decorated with bricks and old pieces of mining equipment. Down the road and we were treated to an awesome curry meal – with more free ‘thank you’ drinks, this time from CRT. After a delicious meal some of the
Dry stone walling begins
Sandiacre cottage Saving an Erewash survivor
It isn’t just about the actual canal: John Baylis describes the culmination of 40 years’ work to preserve a unique building
were cleaned and painted, fireplaces repaired and all the walls dry-lined to prevent damp damage to the internal walls, and all the The Erewash Canal Preservation & Developelectricity wiring and fittings were replaced. ment Association have been successful again Later work involved the fitting of a this year in getting a Highly Commended wood burning stove and central heating to award in the Heritage section of the Waterkeep the cottage warm at meetings and ways Renaissance Awards 2013. The certifievents. The shutters fitted in 1969 were cate was presented to Howard Smith suffering from vandalism and after several (ECP&DA Chairman) and John Baylis at the minor break-ins all the downstairs shutters Waterway Trust Annual Dinner in Birmingwere replaced and bars fitted inside the ham on May 23rd. The award represents upstairs windows. In the downstairs room forty years of work on the cottage by Mick the stone lintel over the fireplace and oven Golds and ECP&DA working parties to keep was cracked and on trying to effect a repair it waterproof, secure and as a useful and the cast iron at he back of the oven was attractive building on the Erewash Canal. found to be rusted through in many places Part of the cottage and stable probably and so the old doors etc were re-fitted to a dates back to the building of the Erewash new steel oven and frame built in the Canal in 1779, with the addition of a second ECP&DA workshop at Langley Mill. The oven cottage and toll office sometime after the in the other kitchen is showing similar disDerby Canal opened in 1795. The cottage tress and has been taken to the ECP&DA became part of the British Waterways portfolio workshop for serious repairs. in 1948 and was due for demolition in 1968 Over the past few years Mick Golds has after BW had built a replacement bungalow to been talking to Tom Woodcock, the BW (now the rear. As the other two Erewash Canal lock Canal & River Trust) Heritage Officer, regardcottages at White House and Stenson’s locks ing work needed to keep the cottage in good had recently been demolished the infant order. So over the last two years all the cast ECP&DA was concerned that the last original iron rainwater goods have been repaired, the cottage on the Erewash Canal should not suffer cottage has been painted in its original dark the same fate. The Association’s representagreen, a chimney top has been rebuilt, which tions to the local authority opposing the Demo- involved scaffolding over the toll office, and lition Order was heard and the Order was not the stable converted into a more useful and granted. The BW response was “if you want secure store. it keeping, you look after it” - and the AssoFor the last forty years the ECP&DA has ciation has leased the cottage since then. leased the cottages from BW, then CRT; it After about ten years of doing minor has paid for all the work of repair, and all the maintenance and security work BW sugrepairs have been carried out by its volunteer gested that more serious repair was reworking parties. However, the local authority quired, and Mick and the late Bob Peck orhas appreciated the work of the Association ganised more detailed repairs. The whole of and made several grants to help repairs and the roof was removed, cleaned, felted and donations have been received for the Inland tiles replaced, doing a section at a time, Waterways Association and other individuals. including erecting scaffolding and taking it The Waterway Renaissance award is a well down over a weekend. The two bedrooms in deserved result of forty years of effort to one cottage were made into the Association maintain and preserve a vital piece of our meeting room and a new floor fitted, and the canal environment and the ECP&DA is to be two bedrooms in the other cottage cleaned congratulated on its achievement. up and painted. Downstairs all the rooms John Baylis
Sandiacre Lock cottage wins Waterways Renaissance Award
We didn’t run a WRG Training Weekend in 2014, but the Wilts & Berks ran some digger and dumper training and opened it to WRG. Rachael Banyard reports...
from the Wilts & Berks
applicants, so I could both let them know what times had been allocated to them for their training, and find out whether they For one reason or another, WRG wasn’t able wanted lunch provided so Di Smurthwaite to run a Training Weekend this year. Howcould cater accordingly. At least one opted ever, at a Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Restorafor that choice as he fancied Di’s cakes! tion Committee meeting, several branches Martin, Dave and Hamon all stayed in said that they had members who wanted the cottage for the weekend so that we could training on excavators and dumpers, and I start promptly each day. Martin and I put up was asked if I could arrange it. the WRG tent on the lawn so we could have I firstly went to see my friend Rob my electric Burco running all day so people Pasqualito of Rapid Hire, with whom I have could help themselves to hot drinks. been dealing for many years, to see if he We found that there was more demand could help. We have built up a good rapport for excavator training than for dumpers, and with him, and he has trusted us enough with unfortunately we had to turn down a couple his machines to loan them to me free on of requests, and only allocate single sessions several Christmas camps. He immediately to two more. I decided, based on previous said that he was prepared to loan us two experience at training weekends, that while a small excavators and two dumpers for a week- single session was often adequate for end, free of hire charge. I initially thought that dumper training, it would be an advantage we would have to pay for transport costs, but for excavator trainees to have one session in he also waived this charge. the morning followed by a second in the With that arranged, I realised that we afternoon. could open up the weekend to WRG as well The morning session was largely as Wilts & Berks. Jenny Morris at IWA Head theory, showing them the controls, discussOffice agreed to co-ordinate all the bookings, ing possibilities and problems, health and which was a great help. It was rather short safety, etc. The second session could prove notice, but we did just manage to get menthat they had assimilated what they had tion of the training into the August/Septemlearnt and could put it into practice. This ber Navvies. worked very well, and six passed, and two The next problem to sort out was getwho needed further practice were the ones ting enough instructors to cover continuous for whom we couldn’t fit in a second session. training on both days. George Eycott was There were just two more who after two available on the Saturday, and Dave Wedd sessions still needed further practice. Nine (despite coinciding with a re-arranged BITM passed their dumper tests. dig) agreed to cover both days, with myself. I felt that it was a very successful weekAgain, with relatively short notice, it end, especially considering that we also now was difficult to find other WRG instructors have two new instructors on both excavators who were available, but I had complete and dumpers, and everyone seemed to enjoy confidence that two friends could be trained themselves. My thanks to everybody for as instructors. Martin Thompson had already making it a successful weekend. received some instructor training at a previRachael Banyard ous training weekend, but had not been signed off. Hamon Stewart was keen to be On the subject of training, (a) see our able to instruct, and they both passed the Navvies News pages overleaf for details of a test with no problem. training grant and (b) see future issues of Jenny provided me with contact email Navvies for details of the 2014 WRG Training addresses or telephone numbers for all Weekend and WRG Leader Training Day. ...Ed
Wilts & Berks Training Weekend 28-29 September
than that might suggest:
Money for the Mont! WRG Training Grant WRG has set up a Training Award to assist with the cost of training volunteers in skills associated with waterway restoration. The award can provide up to 75 percent of the cost. There is a list of ‘preferred areas’ - skills seen as being of particular use such as construction, forestry, boat restoration, machinery operation and maintenance, nature conservation, safety, heritage, leadership, design and planning - but applications can be accepted for any area of training. Applications can be made by individuals or by organisations (such as canal societies) who want to organise training for a group. For more details and to apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org, ring Head Office on 01494 783453, or see website wrg.org.uk and follow the link to ‘health and safety’.
. . . .
The 700m will take it to the winding hole (turning point) at Crickheath Wharf, which means that 2km (including a length already restored but not yet in use - largely because there’s nowhere for boats to turn) can be reopened to navigation. The HLF money will pay for large nature reserves which will enable the rather tight limits of 2500 boat movements per year on the existing length to be raised to a more realistic 5000. The new nature reserves will complete the major mitigation work needed on the English length so the canal restorers can press on with reopening the canal to the border at Llanymynech The ‘nature improvements’ further down the line include work such as bank protection and silt removal which will also aid reopening to navigation There will be ‘heritage’ work on locks, bridges and weirs on the Welsh length to help towards longer-term reopening.
Help the Grantham
Grantham Canal Society has been shortlisted for an award from the Lloyds Monty’s Millions! Bank Community Fund - and is appealing Just as we were going to press we heard that for people to vote it to the top of the list and a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost secure £3000 for canal restoration. £4 million towards a £6m funding package In each area, four causes are selected for the Montgomery Canal had been agreed and according to how many votes they rein principle (in HLF-speak, it had received a ceive, two get £3000 while the other two ‘Stage One pass’). This means that the cash receive £300. has been allocated by HLF and - barring any You can vote in 3 ways: firstly you can major hitches such as failure to raise the vote online at www.lloydsbank.com/ ‘match funding’ that forms the rest of packcommunityfund - search for ‘Grantham Canal age (most of which has also been agreed) it Society’ and follow the instructions to submit will be approved. It also immediately unlocks your vote. Secondly, you can send a text £160,000 for planning, surveys, developmessage to number 61669 consisting of the ment work in the meantime. letters VOTEKDNC. And finally, if you hapBefore you get too excited (and before pen to be local to the Nottingham area then those of you with boats start heading for the every time you go into the branch that these Mont) I should point out that only about 10 causes have been allocated to (which is percent of the cash will actually go towards Lloyds Bank at 76 Front Street, Arnold NG5 extending navigation from the current limit at 7EJ), you can collect a token from the staff Gronwen Bridge; that even the 700 metres of and put it in a slot. planned channel work in that area will be partly The closing date is 1 November. carried out by volunteers; and that most of the grant will go to support improvements And finally... with more of a nature conservation purpose. Having said that, it will in fact bring the Apologies for no ‘40 views for 40 years’ restoration forward by a great deal more interview this time. It will be back next time.
Congratulations to Liz and Mike Chase on the arrival of Christopher John on 27 August weighing 6lb 10.5oz Directory updates
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.
Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies cover printing
Please note the following changes to the contact details given in the last Navvies Directory in issue 160:
Richard Worthington and Rowena Gaskell have moved to 4 Blackwater Way, Didcot OX11 7RL
Essex Waterways Ltd:
Helen Gardner and Graham Raeburn have moved to 27 Broadacre, Comberbach CW9 6QD.
Graham Brown, Paper Mill Lock, North Hill, Little Baddow, Chelmsford CM3 4BS Tel: 07966 375351 email: email@example.com www.waterways.org.uk Sankey Canal Restoration Society John Hughes 01744 600656 Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust Bernie Jones firstname.lastname@example.org Canal & River Trust East Midlands Amanda Morgan 07500 991289 email@example.com WRG East Midlands email firstname.lastname@example.org The next full directory will appear in issue 263. Please send updates to the editor
Helena & Krzysiek Rosiecki have moved to 52 Privett Road, Fareham PO15 6SP If you move house, don’t forget to tell Navvies so your magazine gets delivered to the right place.
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH
Tel: 01564 785293 email: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a handover.
Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)
“Jane starts picturing some of the festivals team in her mind and attempts to relate them to the phrase “hip and trendy”. Jane quickly decides that this was 20 seconds of her life wasted”
The return of Jane & John
20 seconds of her life wasted. Jane doesn’t like the National. Jane and John drive to a secret field in John and Jane at the National Watford surrounded by Heras fencing and filled Waterways Festival with people in blue shirts. “Now John” says Jane, John is getting ready to go to the National Water“You are not allowed out to play until you have ways Festival. He has gone to the National every helped me put the tent up”. John looks sad, he can year for as long as he can remember, but not last see telehandlers, tractors, Bradshaws and trailers year as everyone got grumpy and decided to take a all waiting to be used, one of them even has a fuel year off after one person suggested they were only leak that needs fixing, but he is a good boy and doing it because they wanted a holiday in a field. helps put the tent up. Soon he has changed into his John was puzzled by this, after all, everyone knew old clothes and starts work on site, he names the the real reason for the National taking place was two Bradshaws Bertie and Belinda, the telehandler because no-one could imagine doing anything is naturally named Lofty. Jane starts emptying the different. Jane was quite pleased that it hadn’t car into the tent, setting up the bed and thinking been held the previous year. Jane doesn’t like the about cooking tea. Jane doesn’t like the National. National. Later that day a call comes over the radio Jane cannot understand why anyone wants “Waterspace 1 has concluded his experiment into to spend three weeks of their annual leave in a boating in a Bradshaw, can anyone come and help field getting wet, covered in oil and/or diesel, tidy up?” A team of people set off to recover the driving and fixing old machinery and getting little stricken vehicle and tow it back, John helps with sleep. John meanwhile cannot imagine anything the straps to lift it then when it gets back he works better than spending three weeks in a field covered on drying it out again. One of the bolts is very tight, in oil and/or diesel, driving and fixing old machin- he gets his large stilson wrench to shift it and it soon ery and getting little sleep. Jane agrees to come comes off. Lots of the pipes have water in so he along, but only if she can bring her sewing. Jane takes them off and blows through them to dry them doesn’t like the National. out. He soon has it fixed and gives it a test drive John starts packing, he lays out a set of around the field. John has not noticed that he is clothes for each day of the three weeks plus some covered in oil, mud, diesel and water. Jane sees spares. He has more than enough red T-shirts, he John. Jane sighs. Jane doesn’t like the National. tells Jane he has enough to do two Nationals back “John, what on earth have you been doing?” to back, Jane rolls her eyes and gives John one of asks Jane. Those Looks. John has, over a number of years, “Belinda was laying on her side in the water, finally learnt that when he gets one of Those so I went to go and play with her, she was all wet Looks it is best to change the subject. Jane doesn’t and Lofty had some problems, but he got it up like the National. eventually then we found that together we could Finally John squeezes the last bag of clothes pull her. We were struggling for a while because and random tat into the car. Jane asks “John, she was a bit tight, but then I used my large tool where is the National this year?” John answers and we were away. I found she went a lot better “It’s a secret - no-one is allowed to know where or after a quick blow and when we had finished I when it is, that is why the publicity didn’t tell rode her until she was dry. Now the plumbers are anyone. It is like one of those raves in the ’90s taking turns on her.” where you could only find out where and when Jane picks up the large stilson wrench. through word of mouth. I think it is the Festivals “Oh” says John, “do you want to use my team trying to get hip and trendy”. Jane starts large tool as well?”. John has not noticed that Jane picturing some of the festivals team in her mind is giving him one of Those Looks. and attempts to relate them to the phrase “hip Run John, Run! and trendy”, Jane quickly decides that this was You see, Jane doesn’t like the National...
The Jane and John stories:
Sir Michael Forbes-Harrison... ...transported from the year 1865 writes about his week on the Cotswolds canals camp. Sir This August I did labour with the Waterway Recovery Group in re-edifying Griffin Mill lock on the exolete Thames and Severn canal which hath fallen into ruin. Here I discourse ’pon tales of hard labour, night soil and episodes of the gout I did suffer. Afore my sabbatical I commissioned Screwfix the catalogue wharfhouse, to outfit me in a waxen yellow cape, broadcloth docker pantaloons, cordwain armour plated slippers and to protect my threadbare periwig, a blue bascinet. My raiments packed I hitched my backcarry and fetched First Great Western’s iron horse to the cloth town of Stroud passing my time reading my ‘Nuts’ periodical and listening to cant doggerels upon Mister Jobs’ electronick music box. Mister Sting’s Bow Street Runners were performing ’Missive in a demijohn’ as I alighted from my Third Class carriage with man’s grimmest fellows. Directly I met my coachman, Sir Phillipe Le Biche, who conveyed me athwart Transit Van’s weighty carriage o’er a potholed turnpike to my lodging house. Mister Le Biche eschewing comfortable lodgings steered our ‘coach and four’ toward what appear’d to be a covered latrine. Unit 1 Brimscombe Port a derelict ironmonger’d workhouse, were apparently to be my lodgings for the week. The former proprietor, a victim of the goldsmiths cast into penury. This aghastly abode bereft of all but basic comforts comprised a single privy closet for a score of men to void their bowels, no facilities for ablutions, and a communal bedchamber shared with hounds prone to acts of vapour. The debtors hulk unadulterated luxury by comparison. I conceived the three star rating attributable to the three stars espied through the hole in the roof. I took possession of my stone floor berth and unfurled my pressbed. The morrow having debarbed with Mr Gillette’s twin bladed cutlass and emaculated with Lynx abluent I took my morning repast with my fellow dullards. (I would petition at this juncture, that in my experience, Lynx’s purported powers of allure are a falsehood and no more than mere puffery). We made our introductions whilst consuming victuals of fried hogs flesh, hens’ eggs and baked pulses in tomato syrup. We then gave occasion to a bearded gentleman of stony countenance on the idiot lantern - the healthiness and preservation lecture. Resembling a ghost appearing to Scrooge in the Dickens fable, this barbarated spectre proceeded to counsel his clodpoll-like audience, in the tone of a magisterial reprimand, that hammers be harmful if swallowed and mortar trowels be a choking hazard. Duties were then detailed by the foreman, a solemn gentleman porting lambchop sideburns whose forename be misspelt. As an unskilled underworkman it was resolved that I would reprise my role as a general dogsbody with the lower orders. As a first task we hardscrabble drudgers were burthen with amoving mounds of soil and feculant in divers landscaping tasks in the pouring rain. A labour which left your humble scrivener immasked in night soil from crown to brogue. I made no complaint and as a guerdon I was elevated to mortar-engine assistant. A long day spent spawning bushels of lime daub mixtion for the stonemasons. The morrow I conceived I was to confront lowly squire lambchops Worseley in a duel with broadswords. In foretaste I arose at dawn with an elevated bayonet. Alas I was deceived. The ‘fencing challenge’ bidden was not armed combat with rapiers but the enrounding of a spill weir with staves and pales. We were repeatedly misinstructed where the staves were to be set, leaving the weir circumscribed by a warren of cony creepholes. Later in the week I was apprenticed by a fair maiden from the black country as a brickmason. I found being a brickmason most amusive but i received few blandishments for my quality from my undermaster Miss Clarke and fewer for my want of velocity. I was most confounded at beholding two unshackled French prisoners-of-war on site, admittedly of the fairer sex. I would intreat that in future all foreign captives be the subject of a thorough perquisition as I put on oath that one was concealing two musket charges ‘neath her corsetry. Each day we trudged to the corporation bathhouse for our ablutions. At eventide there were divers activities. I drank much Porto wine and became rather gouty. The Innkeeper did good hucksterage at the Ship Inn . Companions found merriment in a most peculiar whimwam. This entail’d the discerping of a wooden fresco into a thousand parts; and then hours were dwindled reintegrating the fractions. Blockheads refreshed their strutting compendiums of peacocky on the Facebook or regaled of their breakfasts in endless tracts of the present tense on the Twitter. At the end of the week I was left to reflect, that the grim bile of slavery, purged from the colonies, did continue to purl upon the Stroudwater Navigation. Sir Michael Forbes-Harrison aka Mike (‘Arry) Harrison
when jobs are being divided up at the start of the morning, but in the genuine sense of the phrase there can be no other candidate than the excellent Robert Brotherston.
The WRG Dictionary...
Jigsaw puzzles: obsessive evening entertainment. Not for the faint hearted.
Cut and drink: I thought this was in reference to the nightly sojourns to the local ale house, howTWFL: Teaching WRG-speak ever it appears this is an old waterways term for the as a foreign language canal (cut) and the water (drink) in it. The logical Having signed up to WRGing, you might conclusion is therefore that those WRGies I thought expect certain activities that you are asked to were ‘half-cut’ all week must have simply been do to be new and somewhat alien to your life permanently part way down the ladder recess. Either experiences so far, but as a recent newbie on that or they were just being a little bit Cilly. the 10-17th August Griffin Mill lock camp I found a whole different skill-set was required Beer o’clock: in reference to the above definition, i.e. becoming fluent at WRGies’ very own most seasoned WRGies appear to have their specialised, colloquial and occasionally ‘fruity’ waterproof, silt-proof and muck-proof watches language. Like any ‘foreigner’ I had to ask the permanently stuck on this time. Either that or we old hands to speak loudly and slowly, with are in Groundhog Day. In reality beer o’clock is to repeated hand gestures, nods and headshakes, ensure those with a real dedication to the restoraand even then a few comedy errors of tion of the cut and drink (official canal version miscommunication arose (how was I to know definition) are limited by the hours of daylight for what the expected response should be when actual site work and must return to the accommoasked if I could “pass me your twatter?”). dation/pub in order that everyone else can finally Therefore, here (in advance of a hopestop feeling guilty that they finished and went ful publishing deal with the future Lonely back three hours earlier. The likes of Stephen Planet Guide to Canals) is a sneak preview of Hawking et al could ponder the phrase ‘I’ll just do a section of my first draft of the soon to be one more course’ as evidence of infinity and the new bestseller... continuous expansion of the Universe. There is no such thing as ‘just’ one more course for some people. They’d be bricklaying in their sleep if we The English-WRG Dictionary could rig up to the scaffolding a vertical sleeping Burco: what Hoover did for vacuum cleaners, bag with pillow attachment. Burco has done for the old tea urn. A genuine lifesaver and part of every wrg camp essential kit. Showers: a form of exfoliation process whereby Do not leave home without it. Same goes for the brick dust and mortar grit is transferred from ‘Brew Kit’. one part of your body to somewhere else. Old timers are able to sprout seeds and support small On site facilities: a way of fertilising the undersaplings about their person in the rudimentary soil growth around the site by adding copious quantibuilt up of accumulated silt deposits. ties of ammonia to the soil. Slashers may be exactly the tool you need for the job. Note to self: portaloos Steelies: possible reference to scrumping blackshould not be attempted on sunny days unless you berries and apples from along the towpath, but desire a very special aromatherapy sauna. actually an essential part of PPE (see below). Useful Tools Box: Full of useful tools obviously. Probably includes the thing from Swiss Army penknives to get stones out of horses’ hooves. If the cakes on our camp were anything to go by (thanks to Sophie our personal beams have increased considerably) there is probably a lime zester in there too.
PPE: steel toe caps, safety glasses, hard hats, gloves purchased from the B&Q branch in giantand-fairy land, earplugs (useful both on and offsite if you end up in, near, or even a few miles away from the snorers’ room), plus the Darth Vader dust masks. WRGies definitely like to dress for the occasion.
Really useful person: Sometimes used cynically
FEH, SAD, RFB, EHP: Feeling Extremely
Hungover, Seriously Arduous Digging, Ready For Break, Extra Help Please. Windlass: A young female WRGie who at 8am breakfast has had more than her fair share of baked beans. Flightcase: the supposed Black Box that must be on site at all times. What’s in it? Extra cake? Paddle gear/paddle chamber: As a kayaker I was finally thinking I could beat the WRGies at their own game by having some specialised knowledge to impart, but even if I did feel like paddling my kayak down a culvert, I wouldn’t dare for fear of damaging the pointing along the way. Pointing: It’s rude. Bonking: Not rude at all. Rigid pole inserted at maximum force, usually rhythmically. Requires two people and plenty of PPE. Often done on a dirty weekend (see below) Camps and Digs: Camps are a week; digs are dirty weekends. Reunions and Bashes are mass meetings, led by charismatic leaders, but without the need for group suicide at the end. Muck, mortar or slop: The cottage industry required to make the constant barrow loads of this means this is a suitable job for individuals with a mathematical and/or formulaic mind (3 sharp, 2 soft, 2 lime - otherwise known as ‘the WRGie cocktail’), and further to that, lungs made of asbestos. Towpath: A beautiful promenade along the canal can be an ideal way to walk to site (in our case via Hope Mill, Ham Mill and Gough’s Orchard locks) spotting moorhens, coots and the occasional heron along the way. However, beware of the frequent use of ‘on site facilities’ (see above) by what must be genetically modified hounds. There is no other explanation for the sheer volume that the dogs of Stroud seem capable of producing.
Infill ...and Dear Deirdre Dear Deirdre I’m a 19 year old student who goes on regular WRG weekends. I’m not a big drinker and prefer diet coke but whenever someone goes to the bar for a round they always seem to forget and get me a pint of real ale instead. How can I get them to remember my order? - Sarah, Crewe
Deirdre writes I suspect this has less to do with anyone’s memory than an interest in seeing the effects of several pints of real ale on a 19 year old lightweight. It’s probably best to just embrace your role as the evening’s entertainment and enjoy the free ale. Pack Neurofen. Alternately you could start a conversation about Land Rover engines and screwthreads as these are WRG’s preferred pub entertainments if no-one like you is around. Do you have a question for Deirdre? You can email it to email@example.com
And finally... I have always felt that Birmingham’s Gas Street Basin had one of the less inspiring names on the canal network. Unpretentious, honest, down-to-earth, maybe, but it’s not exactly up there with Paradise Wharf or Great Northern Basin. However a glance at a map of the Indian city of Patna (below) reveals an even less inspiring waterways-related name...
Piles: apparently driven into the bank to protect it from erosion, but occasionally an unexpected side effect of sitting too long on wet coping stones. In the case of this being an ongoing concern for you, you must go to your doctor and tell him you have a persistent problem in your invert. Please keep a lookout for further details of The English-WRG Dictionary coming soon to a Yes, there really is a Boring Canal Road! good bookstore near you. It’s priceless. That’s got to be the World’s dullest canal Kirsty Moore place name – unless you know differently...
WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.