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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Bonfire Bash report and photographs Spotlight on the Buckingham Canal

waterway recovery group

Issue No 262 December-January 2013-14

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

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

Martin Ludgate

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

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

ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2013 WRG

Stephen Davis

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 Now with 33% extra! 4-5 Coming soon the BCN Cleanup 6-7 Camp report October on the Chelmer 8-9 Bonfire Bash Report on the Cotswold10-12 Dig report London WRG on the Somersetshire Coal Canal 13-15 Narrow dumpers safety notice 16-17 WRG BC boat club AGM and news 18-19 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 20-23 Letters on Wendover, the HS2 railway and Robin Higgs 24 WRGWear buy your WRG logo clothing 25 Progress our regular roundup from around the country’s canal restorations 26-30 Buckingham a restoration feature 31-33 Working at Heights how to be safe 34-36 Bits & Pieces don’t use brushcutters with chain flail attachments 37 Noticeboard 38 Infill including Dear Deirdre 39 Above: finishing a bottom cill concrete pour at Griffin Mill Lock, Cotswold, on the KESCRG / London WRG Christmas dig (report next time) Left: KESCRG get archaeological at Gosden Aqueduct, Wey & Arun Below: What has George made? See p14 Front cover: Griffin Mill on the Bonfire Bash, see p10 (pic by Martin Ludgate) Back cover top Buckingham Arm reopening at Bourton - see p31 (Martin Ludgate) Bottom Operation Starburst cleanup in Manchester (Alison Smedley)

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, typed, on CD, DVD or by email. Photos welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please say if you want prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG, but if you have a lot of large files it’s best to send them on CD or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 263: 1 January.

Martin Ludgate

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

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3

Chairman 33% more canal camps!

“There is no point in running a steady state, is there? No matter how successful a particular year is, the next year has to be better, doesn’t it?”

Chairman’s Comment

Pictures by Martin Ludgate

This copy of Navvies will be accompanied by the eagerly awaited Canal Camps brochure for 2014. Additionally there are various emails in my inbox that detail pretty much all the 2014 weekend digging dates for all the regional groups. Not the complete absence of any words like “probably” or “hopefully” or “if it all goes to plan” in this paragraph. You have to admit, this is a pretty good way to be approaching the end of 2013. It’s an indication of how we seem to have reached what us engineers call a steady state. It’s a good system and the culmination of it all at the Bonfire Bash, where next year’s dates are finally displayed for all to argue about and start the process of who is leading what, still feels pretty down to earth. That, followed by the miracle scramble from Head Office staff to confirm all the dates, get the relevant information together and type-set it into a wonderfully fun Camps brochure, makes you think that this is really a pretty slick operation. So why am I labouring the impression that everything is really rather rosy in our particular garden? Well you may notice one teeny tiny change in the Camps brochure if you look hard. The number of summer camps has gone from 18 to 24. That’s a 33% increase in what we are trying to do (and if we are being honest we have another couple of weeks we would

New for 2014’s camps: Pocklington...

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...Lapal Canal...

like to add to the list but they are not quite confirmed yet). Because, when it comes down to it, there is no point in running a steady state is there? No matter how successful a particular year is, the next year has to be better doesn’t it? If we are going to inspire everyone else to get involved and take all these canals off us, then we can’t let up now. There really is great work out there, both locals and wrgBrass are working hard to get the work planned but it will all come to nought if we can’t get the leaders and volunteers to book on. So please do read the Camps brochure and have a think about booking on for a Canal Camp or two. Now I hope it’s not too much of a jump to go from ‘boots on the ground’ to armchair support. One of the little perks of being a chairman is that every few months I get an email entitled “GiftAid summary”. It’s a report from Head Office and details just how much we have got back from the Taxman on donations and Navvies subscriptions. Whilst it is true that we like to think we have got our budgets pretty well sorted it is always nice for me to turn “hmm – wonder how we are going to pay for that” into “ah – there’s that sorted”. I admit it’s unlikely a GiftAid return is ever going to buy us a van, but it will definitely put the fuel in it, and sometimes that is enough to make sure a lock gets cleared, bridge gets re-pointed, channel gets lined, etc. So my thanks both to Head Office for processing all those claims and to you all for registering for GiftAid. If you haven’t then please do so now! Finally may I bring your attention to a couple of important articles from Bungle and Adam ‘Digger’ Morris on pages 16-17 and 34-36. It’s important stuff and so we will be returning to it over the next couple of issues - but the conversation starts here, so please read them. Anyway – what are you doing reading this? Get that Canal Camps brochure digested, dust off your wellies and book on a Canal Camp today! Hugs and kisses Mike Palmer

...Ashby Canal northern reaches...

...and Shrewsbury & Newport canals

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Coming soon Including the BCN Cleanup

New BCN Cleanup leader Chris Morgan brings us up to date on the 2014 event

New Year Camp: Cotswold Canals 26 December - 1 January You should receive this Navvies just in time before the New Year Camp. However please note that (a) there is now only one camp (as WRG Forestry polished off all the work for the other one on their October camp!) and (b) as we went to press it was already fully booked. By all means contact Head Office to see if there have been any cancellations, but don’t be too hopeful.

BCN Clean up 2014 (Sunny Brum) 5 - 6 April Calling all Grapplers, old and new!! In February’s edition of Navvies there will be information and forms to fill in to attend next year’s BCN Cleanup event. In the meantime here’s some advance information - and a booking form in case we’ve already tempted you! I am assured by the local boaters and IWA branch that there will be plenty of items to pull out in this area. No, CRT have not dredged it like they did on the Wyrley and Essington, and the Walsall in 2012! We will be based around the Digbeth area on the east side of Birmingham, working the Garrison Locks to Bordesley Junction in one team, then other sections from Camp Hill locks to the Ashted flight in another team. The social side is changing from the norm next year: on the Saturday night we are holding a social for everyone involved, from grapplers to litter pickers, boat crews to lock helpers and CRT are supplying some of the ale too. Each local group’s volunteers have been invited to stop over with us, many of us will know the faces but not necessarily have socialised with them. It will be good for all the different organisations to get together. For those who don’t know: Dave Pearson of IWA West Midlands Branch has been doing all the ground work; the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, Coombeswood Canal Trust and Dudley Canal Trust supply workboats and crews; CRT supply workboats and crews and this year hope to use their lock volunteers to help speed the boats through; other local groups may also be involved; WRG supplies vans, leaders, and runs the overnight accomodation and catering; and all the groups supply volunteers. It is a great event involving many volunteers from all over the country. If you have never come on this weekend, please give it a try in 2014, we have good accommodation with a refurbished kitchen and plenty of sleeping room. Maria Hearnden is organising the catering, Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden and myself will be zone leaders, and Aileen Butler will be our site go-between. I have had a few WRG qualified drivers contact me to say they are coming (thank you). We need some more though please; also it would be great if there were a few volunteers to do breakfast duties over the weekend it would reduce the pressure. Please get in touch if you can help with a specific task. In the meantime have a great Christmas everyone and see you in the new year! Chris Morgan cbmorgan@sky.com 029 2088 8681 / 07974 111354

Leader Training Day: Saturday 10 May 2014 - somewhere in the Midlands It’s the annual leaders’ training day where we discuss anything and everything that can help leaders with running their canal camps. More details in the next Navvies.

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Martin Ludgate

waterway recovery group

in association with BCNS, CRT and IWA

I would like to attend the 2014 BCN Canal Cleanup on April 5-6 in Birmingham Forename:


Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

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

(pay 'WRG') for food (ÂŁ13 for whole weekend)

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


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

You can also book online via the WRG website wrg.org.uk

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Camp Report October on the Chelmer

Iain reports from a week of towpath laying, Tirforing and dodging the storms on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation...

Octber Chelmer & Blackwater camp the ‘other end’ of the site, set up camp and

Iain Corbin

crack on with scrub bashing and burning... From the first time assistant leader’s point of but the weather has other ideas, as the front view... end of the storm starts to brew. Failed atArriving slightly late to plan, on Saturtempts to start a fire prompt a visit to Asda day afternoon, following a picturesque defor firelighters with Graham, but still no tour on the way from sunny Dorset, we find inferno as the wind and rain get a grip. So young Bob Crow parking up Van and trailer. the piles of scrub generated by the likes of Then into the accommodation and there’s the hardworking Hilary and Jenny remain for cook, Peter, with early arrival Matthew getanother day.. ting busy in the kitchen. Monday, and a slow drive to site past Bags unloaded into the accommodation the detritus left by the storm, including the then hello to leader, Chris, and we’re up and roof of the local Travelodge. The god of fire running as the volunteers start arriving from smiles on us and we’re burning! Good work all directions. It’s a typical mixed bag of also by the two Lukes, Valerie, Fran, Lucy ages, nationalities and experience, but and Gray, and the towpath is being revealed. quickly there is a healthy buzz and we feel Carina is so engrossed in the task that her we are in for a good week. slight step backwards is downhill and into First job, pick a helper and do the van the canal! So it’s an unplanned drive back to check, ably assisted by Josh, job done! the accommodation and after a quick Chris pulls me aside and we run change, a determined return to the fray. through what is expected of me as assistant Scalpings and machines arrive and the leader: my first task is to give the safety talk towpath laying gets under way, initially at the before showing the safety film.. far end of the site from the piles of material, Back to the now fully assembled group, so progress is slow. Chris gives the introductory talk, I do the An evening trip to the ten pin bowling safety bit and with the film eventually shown despite the DVD player’s Norman Collier impersonation, the first dinner is polished off, then off to the pub. Sunday, and my other main job of the week as van driver: we head to site for the first look at the job in hand, three quarters of a mile or so, of scrub bash and towpath laying. We arrive at Sandford Mill lock where we are met by Essex Waterways local Eve, and the trailer kit check is done. Adrian and Claire are with us for the start of the week and help us get up to speed. Vans loaded with the Just to prove it wasn’t all storms: a sunny lunch break necessary kit and it’s off to

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Martin Ludgate


results in a turkey, apparently, for Chris but he is eclipsed by the amazing amount of strikes all round. Tuesday and we are assisted by locals John, Wendy and Dave. Vladlen shows he is a master of the bonfire as well as Valerie’s self defence guru. Games night reveals Gray to be a real entertainer, with a particularly hilarious mime which turned out to be ‘Marathon Man’ Wednesday and the weather becomes the calm after the storm; slashing, burning and laying continue and the day ends swimmingly.. The cinema is abandoned for The Hobbit on DVD and the brave souls that The fire-gods smile on the scrub-bashing team manage to nearly stay awake towards the end are rudely awoken by the smacking of the table next to the DVD player to stop it sticking. Thursday, and down to one dumper, but with a larger mini digger and the awesome skills of local Nigel, towpath laying is switched to the end of site at which we had started scrub clearance. Local Michael joins us and the team are introduced to some Tirfor action. Carina and Joe are trained to use the petrol strimmer and scrub basher and become strangely attached, even giving them pet names... Friday and a last push to get as much path down as possible. Roy visits and thanks us all for a good effort under difficult circumstances. Then it’s the packing cleaning and checking, plus a one night move of accommodation. Chris thanks us all, and is presented with a beautiful hand made card by Lucy, signed by us all. The final night wind down ends with a star performance by Valerie at the open mic night at the pub. Saturday morning and it’s pack up and goodbyes before the real (Danbury) fireworks start. “Learn new skills” - Tasterella learns Ukrainian self-defence All in all a challenging week, and tiring in a different way than previously. Had the privilege of filling in several incident and accident forms, but got through the week mostly intact! Well done to Chris for making it through his third camp this year as leader, and special thanks and Man of the Match award goes to Bob Crow. Iain Corbin

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Dig Report

As a change from the usual big scrub-bash, this year’s Bonfire Bash featured a variety of jobs on the Cotswold Canals. Phils Scott reports...

Bonfire Bash on the Cotswolds Bonfire Bash Report Cotswold Canal 9-10 November

year’s was a little different to previous events; this time instead of mostly scrub bashing over one length, there was a great variety of work spread over a number of different sites. Happily, everything was well organised in advance: A description of work was listed for each site, together with suggested group sizes and equipment required... write your name on the sheet describing the site you’d like to work on, then glue yourself to the appropriate site leader the following morning. Simple. Saturday dawned and weather wise was not looking promising, leaden grey skies threatening their worst. Following a brief by MKP we made our way outside, just as the first drops of rain began to fall. At Brimscombe Port, volunteers were tasked with “discovering” the Brimscombe Arch, clearing Bourne Lock and it’s surrounding area of vegetation, with the special instruction “Do not set fire to the Port”. Naturally, this note attracted the pyromaniac

Tim Lewis

For the ostriches amongst us, this year’s Bonfire Bash (or is it the Reunion - I’ve never worked it out?) was hosted by the Cotswold Canals Trust, taking place over the weekend of 9th &10th November in the Stroud Valley, a fascinating area packed with all manner of industrial and transport history, with a goodly helping of wildlife and architectural yummies for those that way inclined. Our base for the weekend were the industrial units at Brimscombe Port, these buildings have become a popular destination for many of the regulars and ideally suited to the weekend’s event, having an almost absurd amount of undercover space for vans, trailers and kit to be sorted, plus a maze of different rooms to suit every taste for the small hours period of unconsciousness... Doggy rooms, a quiet room, a cool room, a warm room, an even warmer room, a late to bed room, a girly room, I believe it is correct to say that WRG Forestry Team also had their own room, though as is usual, the snorers spread themselves amongst all of these.... The accommodation was well set up by the time I arrived at 9pm on the Friday, several WRGies having been busy on this task in the days running up the A variety of jobs in progress at Griffin Mill Lock the Bash. This

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Tim Lewis

already in use as a popular walking route and also overlooked by the Swindon to Gloucester railway line, passengers watching our progress as their trains slipped and laboured up the steep and winding tracks towards the summit at Sapperton. Clear instructions were issued to not smoke out the railway line, the route’s principal operator having some reputation for the timeliness and safety of it’s service.... Buddleia branches It wouldn’t be a Bonfire Bash without any bonfires! started to appear on the brash piles, this was the element. Squidge and Ulrich started a fire at work of the specialist ‘bunny poisoning’ team one end of the port, whilst the rest of the who had been sent out with cordless drills team went to retrieve a trailer in order to and pellets to prevent regrowth of this troutransport the brush (or is it brash - this blesome species: Having cut the buddleia, seems to depend on what part of the country the stems were drilled and poison applied... you are from!) to the fire. Various remarks amazing at how effective this plant is at about the “plant trailer”... oh dear. A lot of destroying masonry! the material had been cut by locals earlier in With the light fading, most teams were the year and so burned readily: having conback at the accommodation by 5pm, milling sumed all of this, the fire was then fed with around to savour the delicious smells of brush from other sites where fires were not cooking. Food was quickly devoured, the few an option. The team excelled themselves by ‘seconds’ disappearing within seconds of not setting fire to the port, just as instructed. Mike’s debrief. Apple crumble with deliciously Meanwhile at Gough’s Orchard Lock creamy thick custard followed, and as has (looking a LOT more with it following many become customary for this event, a selection previous digs and camps) some follow-up of real ales courtesy of Nic. Late evening vegetation clearance work was required, became very early morning and unless anytogether with the removal of some large one can correct me, this year’s Bash was trees in the pound below the lock which were notable for its absence of alcohol induced starting to look poorly or otherwise bodily mishaps of the type commonly requirunsafe. A passer by helpfully informed us ing a mop. that it was far too wet to have a bonfire, an Sunday came with a frost, in fact a easy challenge for such a crack team of battle fantastic crisp Autumn morning with mist hardened jungle bashers. There was some sitting in the bottom of the valley, quickly delay in setting up the Burco: EHP having burning off as the sun became higher, absofailed to make it back up the steep and very lutely gorgeous. Bonfires were quickly re-lit autumnal looking lane which led down to the from the previous day’s monstrous piles of lock. Moose dispatched a Land Rover to ash and soon the various sites hissed and rescue the disgraced Transit, which in sympopped with the sound of freshly cut timber pathy promptly developed a fault with its catching fire. The temperature in the indusparking brake. Can we attribute the delay trial unit had dropped somewhat overnight, I down to ‘Leaves on the Lane’? have reports that the cooks who, as usual By late morning the clouds had cleared had risen early in order to prepare our hearty and it was starting to look like a nice day, the breakfast had resorted to hugging the ovens low sun illuminating the columns of bonfire in order to stay warm. smoke which rose lazily up from the valley At Bowbridge, another team worked on floor. Our work was particularly important as clearing the offside bank of overhanging the canal is very much in the public eye, branches, with the special instruction of

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Alan Lines

Martin Ludgate

taking particular care around a concerned resident’s boundary fence. Upsetting the neighbours is not the done thing! At Ham Mill there was some more technical work: Lock chamber clearance, installation of coping stones, dismantling of scaffolding and, according to the site guide notes, “assist the excavator team as they continue to make a real mess”. With several excavators on site and some large diameter twin-wall plastic pipes to be uncovered and removed Extracting a buried pipe from under the lockside at Griffin Mill (these had been placed as a temporary water channel) yes, ground conditions were a little sticky. Omelettes, eggs.... Despite the area having a distinctly rural feel, the canal is never far from homes or businesses and any mishaps will at best be spotted quickly and at worst, impact upon others, therefore WRG’s ability to get the job done professionally and safely was important as ever. It was most heartening to hear Stroud District Council’s Volunteer Co-ordinator - aka Jon Pontefract- chatting with a passer by about our work - it is clear we have a great reputation for the quality of our work, the way in which we achieve it and the trust that is held in the WRG parties to do the unseen bits properly even when working without external supervision. As you’d expect, the Forestry team were kept fully occupied safely dealing with various large and tricky trees. CCT recover the timber themselves and sell the firewood locally as a means of fund raising - in fact several local residents were enquiring about this increasingly popular energy source as we were working. More brownie points for CCT. With the accommodation offering covered, more importantly at this time of year, *lit* space for the final pack up of vans and trailers, work on site continued right up until the light faded, a little extra squeezed out of the weekend. Having been the victim of a last minute stitch-up for the camp report (Bushbaby gets the blame, though I’m sure there are others too) I am sure that many notable points may have been overlooked, hopefully this is excusable given the number of different work sites and great variety of work on each. It was only a last-minute move of goal posts that meant I could make it to Brimscombe at all, but am heartily glad I did so. A most enjoyable and productive weekend with a great sense of worthwhile work accomplished. A big well done and thank you to CCT, our fantastic cooks, the leaders, those who worked for months in advance to make it happen, and not forgetting a great team of WRGies for turning up to get dirty. WRG Forestry get to grips with the big stuff Welsh Phil

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London WRG volunteer Rachel couldn’t make it to their recent weekend work party on the Somersetshire Coal Canal. Her friend Sophie felt moved to write to her about it...

Dig report

London WRG in Somerset

Dear Rachel

Pictures by Martin Ludgate

I have to say Rachel that people were very surprised and disappointed that you weren’t with us in Somersetshire this weekend. Rob found it especially hard to understand why you would want to go to Vienna when there was such an interesting culvert to be tackled here. Martin shook his head sadly and said he thought it very self-indulgent to be gadding off to Europe when we’ve barely even begun this restoration. Helena added that really you and James have known each other for years now, so she doesn’t understand why you needed to be spending time with him when there are all these bricks to be cleaned over here. Anyway, they all hope you’re having a nice honeymoon. Our dig on the Somersetshire Coal Canal this year was really the closest London WRG is ever going to get to going to a festival. I’d promised accommodation on an organic farm, strings of fairy lights on old stone barns, vegetables picked fresh that morning. There were living willow sculptures and antique juice presses in the apple orchard, fresh herbs to be picked and rambling Bath stone farm buildings in states of picturesque decay. “But you didn’t say anything about outside toilets!” Helena cried, ashen-faced. “Far more hygienic than having them in the house,” I reassured her. “Well these ones must be extra-bloody-hygienic, as they’re a field away from the accommodation. In the sodding dark.” None of the menfolk seemed concerned by the rather basic sanitary facilities – after all there were plenty of bushes around – but they were greatly distressed by the sticky parking. Luckily Alan was very quickly towed out of the muddy field he got stuck in and we also managed to pop the van’s wheel arch back into shape after a different calamity in the driving rain. Adrian came out of the kitchen looking alarmed. “There are an awful lot of green things in the kitchen,” he said worriedly. “You aren’t going to make us eat them are you?” I promised him that all the vegetables would be deep fried, which mollified him slightly. Helena had a shit fit about the daddy longlegs in the kitchen and the spiders in the sleeping area. I was beginning to suspect London WRG did not share my appreciation of bucolic romance. Only Martin Danks seemed to get into the Casting the concrete pillars to support the stop planks spirit – he said it re-

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minded him of going to festivals back in his hippy teens. Still, everyone agreed it wasn’t as bad as Stratton Scout Hut and we counted our blessings while Helena sulked and counted the spiders. In the morning we awoke to find ourselves in rural bliss. The sleeping area looked out onto a lush meadow, a stream and a beautiful flower and herb garden, even if all these things were more than a little damp. Everyone was cheerful at breakfast and enjoyed Martin Danks’s homemade jam. Half the group walked to the worksite at Radford and Paulton basins and I went with the rest in the van. I was in quite a lot of pain with a leg injury, but I didn’t like to mention it - you know I don’t like to make a fuss. Site was damp and exciting: Rob’s eyes lit up at the site of a juicy culvert in need of repair and everyone enjoyed standing around the hole frowning thoughtfully and offering advice. At the other end of site there were concrete blocks to be cast to repair a crumbling stone arch long enough to put stop planks in. I explained to everyone that I wouldn’t be able to lift anything heavy as my leg was so painful, but they weren’t to make a fuss of me and I didn’t want any special treatment. We were joined on site by our host Richard Fox. With green wellies and a straw hat, his appearance satisfied me that he was indeed a farmer. He was a very nice man even though he went everywhere carrying a massive machete. He’s also very keen about the restoration project. He gave me a thorough update on the many sins and eccentricities of his landowning neighbours, all of whom own different sections of the canal and all of whom seem to fight like cats in a sack. They really are delightfully bitchy in Somerset. That afternoon the scrub bashing team discovered that Chris has a strange magnetism for cows, who crossed their field and tried to climb inside his pockets as he scrub bashed and tended the fire. The volunteers got on quite well cutting down the blackthorn, despite having to continuously shoo the cows out of the fire (it seems a farmer in Somerset has at last managed to breed a cow that cooks itself). The concrete blocks got cast and no-one grumbled about the brick cleaning. Well, hardly anyone. Leaving most of the crew working on these projects I limped off to the towpath with a small team and pointed out where they’d need to scrub bash. I explained I’d love to help out but I couldn’t as I was in such terrible pain with my leg. Then I went back to the accommodation to get on with the cooking. On my way back to the farm I ran into our host again and was able to update him on the terrible problems I was having with my leg. In a fit of hospitality I invited him along for dinner. But when I got back to the accommodation I realized you can’t feed organic farmers on Tesco ‘basics’ mince and shitty white bread like you can WRGies. In a fit of panic I decided I’d better make 2 soups and 2 puddings to dazzle our guest, and went off to climb a tree in search of damsons. This did not improve the situation with my gammy leg. When everyone got back from site I gave them a vegetable soup, with the vegetables heavily disguised in cream so as not to scare Adrian, and French onion soup, with stern warnings not to abuse the allocation of croutons (which everyone ignored). The plan was to stuff the latest edition of Navvies magazine into envelopes before the main course. Unfortunately I don’t think we mentioned this to our dinner guest Richard, who must have wondered that no other food seemed to follow on from the soup. The poor man disappeared during the Navvies stuffing, presumably pitying these volunteers who labour all day on site with only a bowl of vegetable soup to sustain them. Everyone agreed the food was very good if you just picked all the horrible green bits off your plate. I explained that I’d done my best despite the terrible pain I was in and not even having any help, though they weren’t to feel bad about that. I Rob finds “a juicy culvert in need of repairs” brought out the puddings and everyone agreed

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treacle tart was just the thing to take the unpleasant taste of vegetables out of your mouth. Everyone enjoyed themselves so much they barely noticed how badly I was limping and how much pain I was in so I had to keep reminding them. George Rogers was explaining his method for making breadcrumbs on a camp without a Magimix. He explained that he put some bread in a bowl, inserted the stick blender and covered the bowl with clingfilm. He said it worked quite well apart from some breadcrumbs got spilt. At the other end of the table, John Hawkins just caught the end of the conversation: “What’s that you say about there being a hole in the clingfilm?” “No-one grumbled about the brick cleaning. Well, hardly anyone.” he cried. “George is explaining how he got his girlfriend pregnant” I shouted across the table. Everyone agreed this was the best joke of the evening. The next day I managed to go to site despite the terrible pain I was still in. The concrete blocks cast the previous day turned out like a dream when the moulds were removed and Rob had done sterling work on the culvert. I left Helena splashing about cheerfully in the muddy culvert hole and went over to keep an eye on the bonfire. At tea break the owner of Paulton Foundry and the associated cottages came over. You may recall this as a great source of tales of rural squalor, cruelty and horror from our dig in 2012. We were very keen to get an update on the puppy-murdering, paranoid old reclusive and her bat-infested death-trap of a house. Instead we were treated to a digest of 12 months of archaeological discoveries on the site, with some notes about industrial architecture and the sadly biased application process for getting on ‘Grand Designs’. Personally I couldn’t really see much change to the house restoration apart from they had managed to shoo all of the bats out of the bedrooms and got rid of the sofa they found with all the dead greyhounds hidden behind the armrests. The owner showed us a pile of interesting bits of old ironwork he’d found and the WRGies began to root through it excitedly. “Look, you can really see the change from wrought to casting!” “Do you think this could be a bearing pin?” “Gosh Adrian do you know I really think it might be.” I had to briskly slap Emma and Abigail awake. But WRG and the locals were in raptures. We decided it really was time to go back to site, but first let’s enjoy a twenty minute chat about the different kinds of stone arches you get. We worked for a bit longer then had 4 kinds of cake, which was my way of making up for the unpleasantness with the vegetables the previous night. To everyone’s surprise, we managed to finish the culvert before it started to pour with rain. Then we packed up early and came home. Everyone agreed we’d never ever come back to this accommodation. Then I told them that the farmer had promised us venison if we come next year. “Oh let’s come back next year then”, everyone agreed. .


Sophie page 15

Safety Notice Dumpers and excavators

Please read this carefully if you have WRG authorisation to drive dumpers or excavators: it affects you.

Dumpers and excavators: How wrong can it go? Narrow dumpers are really useful bits of kit aren’t they? They fit down narrow towpaths and are much quicker than a wheelbarrow. Yes, the instructor guidance (*) notes say they are rarely suitable for canal sites but as long as you are careful it will be fine. Won’t it? The Health and Safety Executive has this to say (**) about dumpers in general: Site dumpers are involved in around a third of construction transport accidents, causing many deaths and serious injuries, particularly to drivers. The main causes of dumper accidents are overturning on slopes and rough ground and at the edges of excavations, embankments etc. In the last few years we have had three incidents of narrow dumpers being turned over. After the first two (one of which resulted in a very nasty injury) we published an article in Navvies and modified the instructor guidance notes to discourage people from specifying and using them. However the latest incident has highlighted that the message is not getting through. The full causes of the incident are still being investigated but initial analysis highlighted the following (1) There was a change in the way the site was run, in particular the dumper had to pass an excavator on the towpath which was not the case in the original method statement (2) There was a belief from the host society that the narrow dumpers suited the type of work being undertaken (3) The driver was undertaking a manoeuvre which would have been within the capabilities of a normal dumper, but which exceeded the abilities of the narrow one he was driving As you can see from the picture – the driver was very lucky. He managed to jump off into the canal and swim away as the dumper followed him over into the canal, and other than getting wet suffered no injuries. The outcome could very easily have been a tragic fatality. It seems our informal message of “they really are very unstable” is not quite competing with the ‘on-site’ message of “Briliant - a narrow dumper, that’s going to be really handy” So, following discussion at the recent WRG Board meeting, we have decided to exclude narrow dumpers from the normal Driver Authorisation category (D25 - articulated steer dumpers). A new category will be created

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for narrow dumpers (ie 1.2m or less in width) that will only be given via a temporary time limited card for specific jobs authorised via the WRG Board. Any request will have to be very detailed, including proof that the ground is both firm, level and has space to manoeuvre without getting close to an edge, as well as covering why alternatives are not suitable. For example: could a powered barrow (either tracked or wheeled) be used? Would a tracked dumper be more suitable? For those who are reading this and thinking that it’s the high centre of gravity that is actually the issue then yes, you are correct, but it just so happens that, for all the models out there you can just as easiy classify them as narrow. And the reason why people incorrectly choose them is because they want a narrow piece of plant, not a piece of plant with a high skip. So we are sticking with a ban on narrow dumpers. (*) Instructor Guidance Notes (IGNs) - these are the sheets for all categories of plant covered by the Driver Authorisation Scheme. Instructors should always use them when instructing on plant operation. (**) The advice is given on (HSE) CIS fact sheet 52 if you want to Google it.

Why are narrow dumpers so much more likely to overturn?

Centre of gravity of machine plus driver plus load

If you tilt any vehicle to the point where its centre of gravity is no longer above its wheelbase, it falls over. If it’s anywhere close to that point, just a slight bump could take it over. The combination of narrower wheelbase and higher centre of gravity of the narrow dumper on the left means it is much closer to tipping over than the conventional dumper on the right even though the conventional dumper is on a much steeper slope. PLEASE NOTE: this illustration is purely diagrammatic, to demonstrate the principle.

Excavator ‘quick hitch’ bucket changing On the subject of near misses, at the recent training weekend a small excavator was hired in with a quick hitch for changing the bucket. This makes switching between buckets much quicker and easier than the old method of banging pins in and out and in general is considered a “good thing”. However, it is critical that you make sure the bucket is locked on correctly and any safety pin or catch is used. In this case the excavator was supplied with a bucket on by the hire company and there had been no need to change the bucket. Halfway through the morning it was discovered that the hitch was not locked. So, two learning points from this. Firstly, don’t assume the hire company have fitted the bucket properly and secondly, there are loads of different types of quick hitch, if you are not sure how the one fitted to your machine works, ask whoever supplied it to show you. George Eycott

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WRG BC Boat Club News

...in which WRG’s very own boat club holds an AGM, supports the Montgomery and the Lichfield & Hatherton, learns about HS2 and indulges in a little bit of subterfuge...

contributions to funds. The number of options was outlined and it was agreed that an I will start by thanking all who have continincrease of £10 per club per annum was ued to support the club. I know that mempreferable, and easier to administer, than a bers are involved in many restoration levy on the number of members. Sadie projects and cruising remote waters, thus agreed to communicate our opinions to making attendance at or AGM difficult, if not AWCC. impossible, so here at last is this report! The Treasurer sent apologies* and Summary of Minutes of WRG Boat Sadie read out her report. Our bank balance Club AGM held at Huddlesford Sat 21st is £119.01 at present and should increase to Sept 2013: around £520 if all subs come in. The agreed There were 21 apologies - which was donation of £200 has been made towards encouraging as it meant that despite memrestoration of ‘The Mont’. So far the club has bers being busy all over the place (doing donated £4000 towards restoration projects WRG things?) the notice of the meeting had (details on request). All being well we should reached them! Understandably there were be able to donate a further £200-250 early fewer members present than apologised. this year and maybe another donation later. The minutes of the previous AGM This was discussed (under – Allocawere discussed and accepted. (Various tion of Funds/Donations) and it was Matters Arising appear elsewhere in this agreed to make a donation straight away to summary.) L&HCRT** and if funds available to donate The Commode Door/Association of towards concrete for the Chesterfield Canal’s Waterways Cruising CLubs (AWCC) rep ‘buy a cubic metre of concrete’ appeal later in (Lynne) firstly thanked Lichfield Cruising Club the year. for arranging for us to have use of the room, The Election of Officers was speedily (otherwise we would have been out in the done as all were willing to stand again so rain!). Holding our AGM at a gathering that Lynne, Sadie, Ann and Mike were re-elected. aimed to raise funds for the Lichfield & Sadie appealed for help especially for News Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust fulfilled information. our club’s aim to aid restoration work. Lynne Future Plans were discussed. The has attended many AWCC meetings through- Stratford National was recommended as a out the year, she expressed appreciation of cruising aim [Since the meeting, IWA has the work they do (especially our regional decided that it will not after all be making the secretary Erica) and reminded us that we can annual Stratord River Festival its 2014 Nadownload their newsletter Alert. Lynne spoke tional Festival - although the Stratford event of the commitment and pleasure derived will still be taking place with local IWA supfrom working with WRG, especially on the port and boaters are welcome to attend Chesterfield Canal; she emphasised the ...Ed] but was considered too early for holdimportance getting boaters’ views known to ing our AGM. Members were encouraged to Canal & River Trust, as boating and navigasupport The IWA Chester Campaign Rally. tion issues do not seem to be high on their Marple was suggested as an AGM venue but list of priorities! Another concern for all of us Droitwich***, a gathering there to coincide is the impact that the HS2 high speed railway with the Salt Festival (mid September) was will have on canals, if it goes ahead. popular. Mike agreed to investigate possibiliThe Secretary reported that member- ties. ship was more or less constant at around 40. The Award of the Roger Jeffries She reported that AWCC had been in contact Trophy (aka the WRG BC Bowl) was, concerning their need to increase boat clubs’ this year accomplished through intrigue and


page 18

HS2 planning has been given the go ahead.) CRT are taking an interest in restoration and consider The Droitwich Canals a big success, and there was a joint initiative on ‘growing the network, examples being: the proposed new Daventry Arm (where they are encouraging installing locks not lifts); Stafford; and Whitchurch. He also reported that ‘genuine’ continuous cruisers were setting up a new association. **L&HCRT have received their donation and sent us a charming and encouraging reply. The Huddlesford event raised £10,000 for the Trust so a very worthwhile gathering! *** Mike has pointed out that any gathering arranged at Droitwich could so easily face problems because of the tendency of the Rivers Severn and/or Salwarpe to go into flood! Could we consider the Shackerstone festival (first weekend in September) as it raises money for The Ashby canal and visiting members could help with setting up, clearing up and the ever popular car parking duties? It just remains for me to wish you all Seasonal Greetings, Happy Boating in 2014 and please let me have news of your boating and ideas for the location of next year’s AGM! xxx Sadie Heritage sadiedean@msn.com 07748186867 236 Station Rd, Whittlesey, PE7 2HA

Martin Ludgate

cunning. All except Lynne, who knew nothing of this, agreed that she should be the deserving recipient for her hard work, loyalty and time consuming representation and work with the AWCC. (we had told her that as it had been awarded jointly to Jim and Liz, they should keep it for a second year!) It was also agreed that The Bowl should be retained in future by whoever was Commode Door (other than in exceptional circumstances) and used at future AGMs for drinking a toast to absent friends. All then raised glasses to drink to absent friends, with special mention of Roger Lorenz. We then discussed Any Other Business, during this Sadie circulated raffle tickets which would raise funds for AWCC and all were sold (many thanks to our generous members). * It was decided that members who had to give up boating, for health or other reasons, could remain members, (no escape there then!) Vaughan talked about HS2: IWA are working with CRT to get a common approach. He listed places that would be very badly affected with relation to canals – Curzon Street Station (Birmingham); Woodend Lock (Trent & Mersey); The Chesterfield; The Aire & Calder also there are other places such as The Ashby Canal and Barnsley. (NB since the meeting the next stage of

‘A big success story’ (and a possible AGM site) - the Droitwich Canal

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Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties

Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201324 Cotswold Canals: Christmas Camp Jan 1 Wed IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & p Jan 4/5 KESCRG Cotswold Canals: Griffin/Ham Mill Locks Jan 4 Sat IWA Chester Dee Branch in Chester: Painting, weeding, litterpicking. Telfords Wareh Jan 6 Mon IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & p Jan 9 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: 10am-3pm Jan 11/12 London WRG Shrewsbury & Newport Canal: removing infill at Meretown Lock. Dumper & dig Jan 16 Thu IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Jan 18/19 wrgBITM Wilts & Berks Canal: Scrub bashing and stump pulling on a new site at Jan 18/19 wrgNW Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Jan 18 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Jan 18 Sat IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amJan 21 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Location TBA Jan 25 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Jan 25 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, litte Feb 1/2 London WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: joint dig with KESCRG Feb 1/2 KESCRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Joint dig with London WRG Feb 1 Sat IWA Chester Dee Branch in Chester: Painting, weeding, litterpicking. Telfords Wareh Feb 3 Mon IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & p Feb 5 Wed IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & p Feb 8/9 wrgNW Uttoxeter Canal: Provisional date & venue Feb 8/9 NWPG Cotswold Canals: Griffin Mill/Ham Mill Locks Feb 9 Sun IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: 10am-3pm Feb 15/16 wrgBITM Chichester Ship Canal: To be confirmed. Feb 15 Sat IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Feb 18 Tue IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amFeb 20 Thu IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa Feb 22/23 London WRG Wey & Arun Canal: Including LWRG AGM. Feb 22 Sat IWA Mcr/CRT Greater Manchester area: Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbish out, litte Feb 23 Sun IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Location TBA Mar 1/2 Essex WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Mar 1/2 KESCRG Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Mar 1/2 IWA Chelmsford Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: With Essex WRG Mar 1 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Mar 8/9 wrgNW Pocklington Canal: Provisional date & venue Mar 15/16 wrgBITM To be arranged Mar 15/16 London WRG Cotswold Canals Mar 15/16 NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold summit - reinstatement works following d

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

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Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201401' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, enquiries@wrg.org.uk. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, dave.wedd@wrgbitm.org.uk 01494-783453

path work.

Bobby Silverwood ouse car park Mike Carter path work. CRT Hatton yard 10am-3pm Bob Luscombe gger drivers needed Tim Lewis ath work. CRT Lapworth yard 10am-3pm Foxham Dave Wedd Malcolm Bridge ath work. CRT Lapworth yard 10am-3pm -4pm Bob Luscombe David Higgins David McCarthy er pick 10am-4pm Ian Price Tim Lewis Bobby Silverwood ouse car park Mike Carter path work. CRT Hatton yard 10am-3pm path work. CRT Hatton yard 10am-3pm Malcolm Bridge Bill Nicholson Bob Luscombe Dave Wedd ath work. CRT Lapworth yard 10am-3pm -4pm Bob Luscombe ath work. CRT Lapworth yard 10am-3pm Tim Lewis er pick 10am-4pm Ian Price David Higgins John Gale Bobby Silverwood Roy Chandler David McCarthy Malcolm Bridge Dave Wedd Tim Lewis dredging. Bill Nicholson

07971-814986 07795-617803 07710-054848 07802-518094 01252-874437 01422-820693 07710-054848 01706-211377 07971-444258 07802-518094 07971-814986 07795-617803

01422-820693 01844-343369 07710-054848 01252-874437 07710-054848 07802-518094 07971-444258 01376-334896 07971-814986 01706-211377 01422-820693 01252-874437 07802-518094 01844-343369

enquiries@wrg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk mike.carter@waterways.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com london@wrg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com david1.higgins1@btinternet.com chairman@manchester-iwa.co.uk london@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk mike.carter@waterways.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk chairman@manchester-iwa.co.uk david1.higgins1@btinternet.com essex@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk roy.chandler@waterways.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

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Navvies diary

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

Canal societies’ regular working parties Every Tuesday BCA Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS Thursdays Sep-Apr BCT 2nd Sun & alternate Thu BuCS Every Mon and Wed CCT Every mon am Thu pm CCT Various dates CCT Every Sunday ChCT Every Tue and Thu 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 Ray Pick 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 01483-272443 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)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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Dear Martin, I would like to express my thanks to all the WRGies that so kindly supported the Wendover Arm Trust Draw held in September [Tickets were included in the previous Navvies ...Ed]. A total of well over £3000 was raised to support the continuing restoration of the Wendover Arm Canal. A Restoration Open Day was held on the day of the Draw, which attracted a large number of the public to view the continuing restoration work. Strangely enough the weather was dry, although the ‘workers’ were still able to find sufficient brown wet stuff to meet their incessant needs. The Mayor of Tring graced us with her presence to inspect progress, with tea and cakes supplied to make the visit official, punctuated with dipping her gloved hand into the drum of tickets. She chose ten winners from a well stirred collection. Subject to continuing negotiations, there well may be another Draw in 2014 for those not able to participate in this years Draw. Thanks again to all our supporters. Full details of all winners are available on the wendoverarmtrust.co.uk web site. Best regards Michael Wright Dear Martin, I know Robin Higgs is a good talker, but I was surprised to see that his OBE was for services to conversation and heritage! (Navvies 260: WRG at 40). Regards, Phil Sharpe


to the Editor

Whoops! On the subject of the ‘WRG at 40’ interviews, our apologies for not including one in this issue. Helen is working hard on interviewing and writing up the final few, with the aim of including at least one in the next issue. The Editor Dear Martin I’m fed up with HS2 and anti-HS2 hogwash! Sack the idiot in charge of HS2 and design an alternative, costing half as much, to be done step-by-step instead of up-front cost. Restore the 200mph Aylesbury to Sheffield Great Central Railway. Add junctions where the GCR crosses the West Coast Main Line (beyond the West Coast congestion). Chiltern Railways can then ease both East and West Coast Main Line capacity problems. Existing tracks used will create problems that can be eased as needed (eg quadruple-track the Metropolitan Railway from Moor Park to Aylesbury). Marylebone isn’t a good terminus but a tunnel under the Metropolitan and Jubilee Lines at Finchley Road can link the GCR and Midland Main Line for St Pancras access. Yours Sincerely Alan T Moody Croydon Canal Restoration Group Personally - as I mentioned in my editorial in issue 259 - I remain unconvinced about HS2. On the one hand it’s a huge cost for what seem like some quite unconvincingly defined benefits (at least when it comes to speed as opposed to capacity) a long way in the future. I’m not sure about the practicality or advantages of anything based around the GCR, but are there really no sensible alternatives to HS2? On the other hand if the money isn’t spent on HS2 it probably won’t go on transport at all - so perhaps as a supporter of rail I should see it as the lesser of the evils. Then again, who’s to say HS2 won’t turn out so badly that it puts governments off investing in railways at all? Some would say the botched 1950s railway modernisation plan precipitated the 1960s Beeching closures; and the unsuccessful 1970s Sheffield & S Yorks Navigation enlargement put paid to further investment in freight waterways. But whatever the case, I think it would be foolish of the waterways movement to come down pro- or (especially) anti-HS2 - because that makes it easier for HS2 to dismiss us as a bunch of NIMBYs. Far better (for now) to at least try to work with them to get it modified. ...Ed

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Want a nice warm WRG sweatshirt for winter digging? Or a cool t-shirt ready for summer? Order them now - and note the NEW ADDRESS!

Buy your WRG clothing now!

WRGWear WRG logo clothing WRGWear has moved: please send orders to Helen Gardner, 27 Broadacre, Comberbach, Northwich, CW9 6QD (new form with new address and new prices going on WRG website shortly). Please send cheques made payable to ‘WRG Canal Camps’ or email me to arrange electronic payment. Contact details for this and any other WRGWear enquiry are: email wrgwear@wrg.org.uk or phone 07989 425346 (though note that I work during the day so may not have all the answers to hand). The items below are just a selection of the more popular lines. For the complete catalogue which also includes rugby shirts, fleeces, hats, vest tops etc see the WRG website. Just a reminder how this works: I don’t keep stock, I order the items individually from our supplier and they send them to you. Allow 21 days for delivery, however, if it’s longer than that please, please call me (07989 425346) because I won’t know that you haven’t got it - things sometimes do go missing in the post. Also call if you want to place a bulk order – it will work out cheaper. Thanks Helen ‘Bushbaby’ / ‘WRGWear’ Gardner PS the t-shirts DON’T have the list of camps on the back – they’re just plain. See the WRG website for camps t-shirts. Indicate number required of each size Item




XL XXL Price

Printed “large WRG logo” red t-shirt


Printed “large WRG logo” black t-shirt


Printed “small WRG logo” red t-shirt


Printed “small WRG logo” black t-shirt


Printed “small WRG logo” red sweatshirt


Printed “small WRG logo” black sweatshirt


Embroidered “small WRG logo” red polo shirt


Embroidered “small WRG logo” black polo shirt



Name:______________________________ Contact phone No:______________________ Delivery address:___________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ Contact email address:_______________________________________________________

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Our regular roundup of progress on restoration projects begins in the deep south at Isfield Lock on the Sussex Ouse Navigation...

Sussex Ouse Sussex Ouse

Pictures by David Evans

The volunteer workforce of the Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust have been able to concentrate all their efforts, through the wonderful summer of 2013, on pushing on with the restoration of Isfield Lock, the adjacent wharf and the upstream cut, due to any further progress with their proposed restoration of Irongate Lock at Sheffield Park being put on temporary hold. We earlier reported that the original 2013 SORT targets were changed by the proposals put Rebuilt bank between navigation channel and river forward by the Environment Agency under their Middle Ouse Restoration of Physical Habitats (MORPH) plans for this stretch of the river and its environs. Those plans have now been deferred until 2014 at the earliest, but SORT have continued with their revised restoration proposals and their work has produced very important and noticeable results. The top cill has been extended with reinforced concrete to add strength and to allow for the insertion of stop-plank grooves. The photograph shows the completed work. The stop plank groove steels await manufacture. The east side top ground paddle and framework has been completely rebuilt as shown in the photograph and is now in working condition following the clearance of decades of silt from the paddle/chamber culvert. The upstream east bank dividing the navigation course and the River Ouse that runs parallel with the cut had partially disintegrated over the The completed cill with stop plank grooves years and had been

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breached in places during high levels of water in the river. This has now been completely rebuilt and levelled as far as the Sutton Hall (or Isfield) weir. The photograph shows a section of the rebuilt bank. Work has begun on a similar rebuild of the west towpath/cut bank. On the west side upstream of the lock was the wharf wall that once served Isfield paper mill throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. When restoration of the lock began the wall was almost completely hidden or under threat from large trees and scrub. Once uncovered and with trees cleared the wall was further demolished back to where a rebuild could satisfactorily take place. As can be seen from the photograph taken recently the wall has indeed been reconstructed and looks as good as new. A little educated imagination had to be used during the rebuild as no contemporary pictures or plans of the wharf were available to SORT. In between scheduled tasks, areas around the lock have been landscaped and planted with grass seed and the production of copingstones in readiness for the continued restoration of the lock chamber in 2014. Restored east side top ground paddle 2014 should see the restoration of the west chamber wall continue from where it was left a year ago. Give project manager Ted Lintott a call on 01444414413 if you want to get involved in this exciting restoration. Whatever your skills you will be made very welcome down on the River Ouse. The restoration of Isfield Lock has seen great progress over recent years and perhaps the light at the end of what has been a long tunnel is beginning to glimmer just a little? “Like new� - the reconstructed wharf wall Terry Owen

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Progress WCBS Wooden Canal Boat Society Since Hazel was launched in May work has been continuing on fitting her out for her new role as a Well Being Boat. This is going rather slowly as the funds are running out and the two boatbuilders are only working part time, most of the work being done by volunteers. More of these are urgently needed, especially those with relevant skills such as carpentry and plumbing. Looking to next year, we are now starting to plan the boat’s entry into service and need more people to help with this. Skills such as marketing and administration are needed as well as people to tow the boat on her journeys and to train as skippers and crew. We are hoping to get out more to

The Wooden Canal Boat Society are busy fitting out Hazel while doing their best to keep the rest of the fleet afloat - and they need help waterway events in 2014 and more volunteers are needed to help with this. The other five boats, kept at Portland Basin (junction of the Ashton and Peak forest canals), have been suffering rather as a result of the concentration on Hazel’s rejuvenation. Each of these boats needs a team of volunteers to look after it and present it to the public. The main source of income for the WCBS is the charity shop in Ashton under Lyne. Like many around the country, Ashton’s town centre is imploding under the stress of online shopping and out-of-town shopping centres. This has affected the footfall around the shop and is reducing the society’s income. The counter to this is to do more selling online, using eBay and Preloved. More

Looking good: Hazel’s cabin and signwriting...

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volunteers are needed for this, both locally and around the country. Thrice monthly recycling trips are still a feature of WCBS activity, going out on the boats to collect goods for selling. The trips for the rest of 2013 and 2014 are as follows. All welcome Sunday trips: starting from Portland Basin at 9.30am. Normally three boats make an hour’s trip to Fairfield Junction where clothes and bric-a-brac are collected from about 350 homes, followed by a lunch break, then a return trip in the afternoon.

hours trip to collect from about 70 homes around Ashton Hill Road, Droylsden. Return trip to Portland Basin finishes about 9.30 PM. 2014: 7 Jan, 4 Feb, 4 Mar, 1 Apr, 13 May, 3 Jun, 1 Jul, 5 Aug, 2 Sep, 7 Oct, 4 Nov, 2 Dec

Since winning the Historic Narrow Boat Club’s 2012 Keay award and launching Hazel the WCBS has received lots of nice words and pats on the back from many people around the waterways. This is very pleasant, but kind words don’t pay the bills. The reality is that we cannot do our job of saving, re2014: 5 Jan, 2 Feb, 2 Mar, 6 Apr, 11 May, 1 storing and putting back to work some of the Jun, 6 Jul, 3 Aug, 7 Sep, 5 Oct, 2 Nov, 7 Dec wooden heritage of the cut without more help, especially in the more boring areas of Monday trips: starting from Portland Basin planning, administration, sales and organisat 6PM prompt and taking one boat for an ing tools and materials. hours trip to collect from about 50 homes on If you would like to help, even if you Gorsey Fields, Droylsden. Return trip to live far distant from Greater Manchester, Portland Basin finishes about 9.30 PM. please get in touch. We’re not looking for people with bright ideas but people prepared 2014: 6 Jan, 3 Feb, 3 Mar, 7 Apr, 12 May, 2 to do some work. Ring 07931 952 037, Jun, 7 Jul, 4 Aug, 1 Sep, 6 Oct, 3 Nov, 1 Dec email theboatman@mail.com or write to: Wooden Canal Boat Society, 173, Stamford Tuesday trips: starting from Portland Basin St Central, Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS at 6 PM prompt and taking one boat for an Chris Leah

...and meanwhile, the rest of the fleet are continuing the recycling runs

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Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust continue to make progress at Tamworth Road, while negotiating with housing developers and grappling with HS2

Lichfield Canal Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

role which a restored canal could play. Discussions also continue with Staffordshire Highways about the extension of the Lichfield Bypass under the Birmingham Railway and through to London Road. A government decision on the planning application for a travellers’ site on the line of the canal near Ogley is still awaited. Brian Kingshott

Adrian Sturgess

The regular work of the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust has continued apace. The whole section of the Lichfield Canal between Lock 24 and the A51 at Tamworth Road, near Lichfield, has seen major construction work which has progressed through the summer. It is tantalising to see how close we are to watering another major section with the prospect of floating a small boat in the near future now a real possibility. It also throws into focus the need to get under the A51 - not to mention moving on through Darnford Park to the A38. Of course, a major continuing concern is the HS2 high speed railway line which will cross the Lichfield Canal at Cappers Bridge. The period of consultation has now been ended by HS2 Ltd and they will submit the original design option for constructing a viaduct 30 metres above water level - thus constituting an inconvenience rather than a threat. However, between now and construction there are various opportunities for those who want to see a much lower crossing to petition, and the Trust continues to be highly vigilant. The start of the proposed Persimmon housing development which will impact the canal between London and Birmingham Roads in Lichfield has moved closer and the Trust continues in negotiation with all parties involved. With the need to ensure adequate drainage for the site, our engiCapping completed on the canal wall below Lock 26 neers continue to stress the

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Restoration feature

We take an in-depth look at a canal that’s just seen its first length rewatered and reopened

Buckingham Canal Grand Junction) at Cosgrove Lock westwards as far as the old A5. A restoration length project of about 1.7km still exists as a Canal & River Trust owned ‘remainder’ canal (ie one with no obligation to maintain it for boating). The former wharf at Old Stratford then saw the start of the Buckingham Arm which continued the route as a narrow canal running westwards through Deanshanger before following the valley alongside the River Great Ouse and climbing through two locks to Buckingham. Buckingham Canal Society has four current active worksites at this time: . Bourton Meadow: the recently restored section near the Buckingham end (see back cover photo) . Hyde Lane: a nature reserve with a

The Buckingham Canal Splash! Wow! That was a noise that many of our sceptics never thought they would hear. And it only took 21 years! So now we have 400 metres in water, what next … and when? Firstly, however, let me as always be pedantic and confirm the length of canal we have restored is 400m but that includes a dry pound at the house end so the actual water length is 386m. For those who do not know the background, what we refer to as the Buckingham Canal is made up of two original canals. The first is the Old Stratford Cut which was a wide-beam canal which ran for about two miles from the Grand Union (originally the

To Birmingham

The Buckingham Canal (former Grand Junction Canal Old Stratford and Buckingham arms)

Cosgrove Old Stratford A5

Deanshanger Beyond Deanshanger to Bourton to be restored mainly on original route

2 A4


Little Hill Farm Bridge

Buckingham final length not planned for restoration: new terminus to be created on edge of town

Hyde Lane Lock


Bourton Lock

Grand Union Main Line

To London

Cosgrove to Old Stratford length to be rewatered in sections from 2014

Old Stratford to beyond Deanshanger to be replaced by diversion - possible route shown

Bourton 400m above lock restored and reopened 2013

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Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

largely restored lock chamber . Little Hill Farm with a fully restored bridge . Cosgrove: the first section from the junction with the Grand Union Having restored the Buckingham end we are now again embarking on the Cogrove end. Last year saw a leap forward as we had a full geotechnical report on the Cosgrove section of the canal, confirming that it was safe to restore. This was rapidly followed by a bit of a false start when ‘informal’ consent to access the canal was withdrawn by a land owner (owing to an unrelated community issue). We are now embarking upon a formal lease and access ‘road’ to the canal site with a different landowner. As ever, this takes ten times longer than feels reasonable. (Any super-fast and pro bono solicitors are welcomed to volunteer as we reach the final paperwork on that one!) Once the access is formally resolved then the currently dry 1.5km will be divided by bunds (temporary dams) built by our volunteers at 150m to 200m intervals and rewatered, a section at a time. The bunds will comprise a Sahara TerraSeal waterproof liner as an integral curtain inside a soil mound to give hopefully watertight integrity across the existing blue clay. We expect to The reopened Bourton Meadow length have to remediate the original blue clay lining to varying degrees as each length is rewatered - and we anticipate this will occur throughout 2014 subject to drought, plagues of locusts, changes in planning or other as yet inconceivable or unknown challenges. But then we remind ourselves that three years ago, the rewatered Buckingham section also seemed to be a rather stretching target. Meanwhile, many favourable conversations are ongoing and opportunities continue to emerge regarding the restoration of the Job for 2014: build bunds and successively rewater at Cosgrove rest of the route. This

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Martin Ludgate


includes favourable initial discussions with members we continue to progress - and to the Highways Agency for crossing under the them all go our continuing thanks. Never A5. Also a potential scheme with the Envithwarted, merely to be slowed by the next ronment Agency to make use of a former curved ball to come out of nowhere; none of quarry site as ‘balancing lakes’ providing these challenges so far feel insurmountable. I headwater for the canal; and a new canal am sure that the luddites of the industrial section providing a replacement to bypass revolution look down upon the collective 21st Deanshanger where the old line has been century waterways restoration community in lost due to development - and which also has bewilderment. Long may we continue! ongoing surface water flooding issues which Terry Cavender would benefit from the canal restoration as a linear flood store. Any volunteers or regional groups interested Challenges abound, but one by one they in supporting the Buckingham restoration are overcome. These move forward much should contact Terry on 01280 860316 or faster than some our sceptical onlookers ever terry.cavender@buckinghamcanal.org.uk thought possible; nowhere near fast enough for some of us. In common with many other societies, some of those challenges range from designing pumping solutions through to selling raffle tickets (extra volunteers across the full spectrum are always welcome!) In conclusion, the project has momentum. Through WRG, IWA and CRT, along with the many other partnerships, funders, The restored Little Hill Farm Bridge supporters, volunteers, and

Hyde Lane Lock, largely restored and fitted with second-hand ex-CRT gates

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Safety Working at Height

“It is a common misconception that you actually need to climb something for it to be considered as ‘working at height’ ” - Adam ‘Digger’ Morris explains this crucial aspect of site safety

Working at Height It is very easy to overlook this potentially fatal risk in the context of canal restoration, but it is a lot more relevant than you may initially think. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 place specific duties on any person who controls the work of others which, in our terms, would include canal camp leaders, working party organisers, local site coordinators etc. Those duties are to ensure that:

. . . .

All work at height is properly planned and organised The risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment used The equipment for working at height is properly inspected and maintained Those involved in work at height are competent

There are two main hazards to consider when assessing ‘working at height’, these being: 1 2

Falling from height and potentially causing harm to yourself Releasing an object from height potentially causing harm to others

After the opening credits of the current WRG Health and Safety video both of these hazards are clearly illustrated within the first 10 seconds. If you haven’t watched this video in a while then why not refresh your memory and head to the WRG website and follow the health & safety link, it’ll only take 10 minutes of your time and will help to remind you of some of the important points of site safety. Let’s consider examples of each of the hazards in turn before looking at what we can do about some of them.

This is one of the biggest killers in the construction industry, which is what a lot of our restoration sites are classified as. It is a common misconception that you actually need to climb something for it to be considered as ‘working at height’. In fact, a place is

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Martin Ludgate

Falls from Height:

Is anyone working in the lock chamber below?

considered to be ‘at height’ if there is a risk that you could be injured by falling from it. Some examples of ‘heights’ on canal restoration projects could be:

. . . . . .

Working at the top of an empty lock chamber Working alongside an open excavation such as a bywash trench Working on top of a bridge Anything involving ladders, scaffold, trestles or ‘hop-ups’ Climbing trees to assist with the felling of them Standing in the skip of a dumper used to transport materials

Releasing an Object From Height: To cause harm by releasing an object from height would need somebody to be working at a lower level than the point at which the object starts its descent. Examples of this are:

. . .

Knocking a brick off of the scaffold where people could be working below Positioning coping stones whilst people are clearing out the chamber below Lifting objects out of a lock chamber which people are working within

How to Work more Safely As with any hazard, the first consideration for reducing the risk should always be whether it can be eliminated altogether through careful planning of the work. Some examples of questions which should be asked as part of the risk assessment process are: When people are working in the lock chamber, is there any need for people to be working above them at the same time? Would a different piece of equipment eliminate the need to work at height e.g. using a pole saw rather than climbing a tree with a chainsaw to remove branches? Could the lock chamber be filled with water before people start throwing in grappling hooks and hauling things out, to prevent them leaning over an unprotected edge?

Martin Ludgate

. . .

Could the risk of injury from a fall be reduced by filling the lock?

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It is not always practicable to eliminate the hazard altogether so, if this is the case, controls must be put in place to manage the risk. Collective systems, which protect multiple people, should always be considered first before considering personal protective equipment (PPE) which only protects the individual wearer. If you get to the point that you decide everybody on site should be wearing full body harnesses then I would suggest that you have made a mistake during your selection of appropriate work equipment! Some examples of collective systems are:

. .

A simple fence erected a safe distance away from the top of the lock chamber to ensure that everyone is kept away from the edge is a very effective control Scaffold systems and working platforms to provide access for the appropriate number of people at the correct position for the task, rather than reaching over an edge or accessing from a ladder

The detail on the use of scaffold and working platforms falls outside the scope of this article but you should always ensure that it has been erected and checked by trained and competent personnel before use and you should never make alterations unless trained and authorised to do so. Guard rails must always be provided as well as toe-boards sufficient to prevent people or materials falling. I won’t go into the specifics because if you are involved in the erection or checking of scaffolding then you should know these requirements like the back of your hand; if not, then you need to seek additional training. Whilst on the topic of ladders, these should only really be used for access purposes and not as a working platform. However, after risk assessment and exhausting all other options, even the HSE recognise that a ladder may be the most appropriate system to use for a short duration work – simply defined as lasting for minutes not hours. Ladders should You needn’t climb anything to be ‘at height’ - you could be by a trench extend 1m above the point at which you step off and be securely tied at the top and/or correctly footed at the base. Please ensure that you know how to use a ladder safely by visiting the HSE website and taking some time to understand the ‘3 points of contact’. Please remember that if you have any safety concerns never be afraid to stop work. If you have any queries with this topic then take a look at hse.gov.uk/toolbox/height; if you are still unsure then contact Head Office who will be able to direct your query to an appropriate member of the team. An abbreviated version of this Navvies article will be produced in a toolbox talk format and added to the expanding library of toolbox talks already available on the WRG website at: wrg.org.uk/health_safety/toolbox_talks. Adam ‘Digger’ Morris

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A word of advice for anyone using metal chain flail attachments for brushcutters: “Don’t!”

Navvies News How many Gough’s Orchards?

Chain flails on brushcutters Following a directive from the EU as a result of safety concerns the Health & Safety Executive has banned the sale and use of ‘chain flail’ attachments for brushcutters. There is no problem with the use of brushcutters with ‘brush knife’ blades (the three-pointed blade); ‘clearing saw’ blades (the one that looks like a circular saw blade) or ‘strimmer heads’ (the string attachment) as supplied by the manufacturers. The ban is specific to “cutting attachments consisting of several linked metal parts (e.g. chains) for portable hand-held brush cutters”, as there is a danger that these can fail catastrophically in service resulting in metal parts flying off. They are non-standard, not supplied by the brushcutter manacturers, not supplied with any compatible safety guard - and there has been a fatal accident in the UK as a result.

Anyone using one of these devices should take it out of service, remove the attachment, and in future only use it with standard attachments. For more information on brushcutters see the article by Bobby Silverwood which appeared in Navvies issue 251. (Back issues are available on the wrg.org.uk)

Camps 2014 All being well, included with this Navvies should be the 2014 WRG Canal Camps booklet with details of all the year’s week-long camp. In the unlikely event that it isn’t included with your copy, the details are all on wrg.org.uk. We will be running the first of a series of Camps Preview articles in the next issue - so if you’re a camp leader, the Editor will be after some words from you soon.

Errata Apologies for the error on the map of the Cotswold Canals on page in issue 261. There is in fact only one Goughs Orchard Lock on the canal. The one towards the left should have said Griffin Mill Lock instead. Sorry.

And finally... My thanks to everyone who has helped in any way with Navvies in 2013: all who have sent in camp reports, progress updates, photos, news, letters or other contributions; Dave Wedd for collating and supplying the diary; Robert Goundry for rounding-up canal society progress reports; John Hawkins, Chris Griffiths, Head Office and all the volunteers at the stuffing sessions for keeping the print and production side going; especially to everyone who was involved in the ‘stealth’ extra four pages in the centre of issue 261; and anyone else I’ve forgotten. My best wishes to all of you and to all the readers for Christmas and New Year, and The Editor is kindly presented with the original I’ll see you on a canal somewhere in 2014. artwork of the surprise centrespread at the Reunion The Editor

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Congratulations to Suzie and Ed Walker on the arrival of Samuel Walker on 25 November weighing 9b 6oz (Suzie says “We’re quite pleased with him”) also to Jimmy Butler and Katy-Felicity Brown on their engagement

Lost Property Found in the front of minibus R10RFB at the Bonfire Bash: the book The Western Island or the Great Blasket by Robin Flower Could the owner please claim it from Helen Gardner helen_gardner@hotmail.com or it gets donated to WRG North West

Stamps wanted

Send used stamps, petrol coupons, phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.

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

Directory updates Please note that the next issue, Navvies 263, will contain the full four-page directory of WRG committee, regional groups, and canal society work party organiser contact details. If your group has a new contact or your existing contact has moved house or changed phone numberor email address, please send details to the editor in time for the press date of 1 January. Coming next time: the exploding airbed - a cautionary tale...

A date for your diaries Following the success of the Operation Starburst cleanup in Manchester, next year’s event will be on 4-5 October

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

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

WRGies become rug-dealers! WRGies and boaters Tina and Colin Hobbs are appealing for your old red or black WRG t-shirts so that Tina can turn them into rag rugs to sell to raise funds. If you have any old WRG t-shirts that have seen better days, please save them and donate them to this good cause. Contact Colin by email on colin.hobbs@rocketmail.com to arrange a handover.

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

Infill ...and Dear Deirdre Dear Deirdre I’m appalled to hear that WRG are considering running ‘comfortable camps’, which presumably involve real beds and heated accommodation as if anybody needed that sort of indulgence! Quite frankly if anyone isn’t man enough to break the ice on the water before they wash their face in the morning, I don’t see what possible use they can be on site. If I wanted to be involved with this sort of thing I’d load my rucksack up with low-alcohol beer and mince off to a National Trust working holiday, there to enjoy flicking the dust off oil paintings with an ostrich feather or whatever the hell it is those pantywaists get up to. Can’t we put a stop to this before WRG gets flooded with the wrong sort? - JG, Welshpool

Deirdre writes I understand it’s true that WRG are considering introducing ‘comfy camps’ with improved sleeping facilities. Apparently some peculiar people object to sleeping on a concrete floor after a hard day on site in sub-zero temperatures. I share your concern that WRG may now get flooded with the type of person who expects Kettle crisps with organic sea salt in their lunchbox, and demands a clean spoon to stir their coffee. On balance though I think WRG’s idea of comfort is still rather far from that of the population in general. I don’t really expect the graphic designers of Islington to rush over to the C+B to share a 4-man room reeking of canal mud. I’m not even convinced it’s completely unreasonable to balk at sharing a muddy-handled teaspoon with 18 other people. In actual fact, I believe I may even be cautiously in favour of the whole idea.

Editor’s 20th anniversary supplement - extra The Editor would like to put on record his appreciation of the surprise extra four ‘editor’s anniversary’ pages in the middle of the last issue (which he genuinely didn’t have the slightest inkling about). Here are a couple of extra quiz questions that there wasn’t quite room for... Q TRUE OR FALSE? Martin actually dreads Bushbaby’s submissions to Navvies. It’s understood that for his first ever edition of Navvies, Martin received only two submissions: several thousand words from Bushbaby documenting the Peterborough National Festival day by day and an empty envelope from John Palmer. This scarred him to the point where he breaks into a sweat when the postman arrives. A Absolutely true: After reading her 54 page Peterborough account only to discover it had been exactly the same as any other National, Martin now goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid any further articles from Bushbaby. Sometimes he waits until she leaves the room to ask for submissions. Those quirky camp reports involving scanning postcards and drawings of rocks have pushed Martin to the brink. Q TRUE OR FALSE Martin has got so fed up with Mike Palmer’s tardiness at producing the chairman’s piece that he has hired a hit man to stand over Mike with a gun until it’s written? A Total tabloid elaboration: Mike actually produces his piece days in advance. It’s just that Martin never expects to receive articles sent in before press date. When Martin asks him for his article, Mike just assumes it’s for the next issue, produces it in a hurry and only just gets it in on time. Neither Martin nor Mike have ever realised this. Not saying Mike’s wife Jude doesn’t have a gun though.

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 262  

WRG Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways. www.wrg.org.uk

Navvies 262  

WRG Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways. www.wrg.org.uk