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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Book now for the BCN Cleanup!

‘Shrewsbury and where?’ Spotlight on an up-and-coming Shropshire project

waterway recovery group

Issue No 263 February-March 2014


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 2014 WRG

Bob Grainger

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 ‘Acheman’? Are you sure? 4 Coming soon Cleanup, Leader Training, Easter camps and summer camps 5-7 Camp report Cotswold Christmas 8-10 Dig Report London WRG and KESCRG celebrate Christmas on the Cotswold 11-13 Restoration feature a 6-page special on the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals 14-19 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 20-23 Acheman Challenge help us raise funds to replace our excavator 24-25 Progress our regular roundup from around the country’s canal restorations 26-31 Camp report Forestry at Uttoxeter 32-33 Dig Report WRG NW at Uttoxeter 34 WRG Boat Club whither the AGM? 35 Canalway Cavalcade volunteers needed 36 Noticeboard 37 Infill including Dear Deirdre - and where exactly is Diglis Basin? 38-39

Above: Book now for the BCN Cleanup (see pages 5-6) Left: Coming this summer: two more camps on the Swansea Canal (see camps preview, page 7) Below: On the New Year Camp, Inglesham Lock had rather more water in it than it’s had for a while! (see camp report, page 8) Front cover: Work starts on digging out Meretown Lock on the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals. See our special feature on the S&N on pages 14-19 (photo: Martin Ludgate). Back cover, top: New Year Camp working on Weymoor Bridge, Latton Junction (John Hawkins). Back cover, bottom: KESCRG and London WRG lay a concrete path on the Chelmer & Blackwater at Heybridge Basin in February

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 264: 1 March.

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

“At first I thought it was just a spelling mistake but it turns out to be a genuinely potty attempt at fundraising...”

Putting the ‘fun’ in ‘fundraising’

‘resting’, so if you find you are missing it then you can still visit it. (Take you boots and a shovel as There appears to be no key theme to this particuTerry Cavender will have a job for you when you lar Chairman’s comment, so just a few random get there!) scrawlings. Yes, I know – how will you tell the And talking of eccentric WRG fundraising it difference? cannot go without mention that WRG’s own I suppose that I could suggest that the key nobility has had a significant birthday. Yes, Mr message is that we are all heads down preparing Mac has reached 90! It’s always worth sending Mr for one of our busiest summers ever, with three Mac a birthday card as you know that the stamp circuits of canal camps spread over exciting sites will end up in the stamp bank, the card in the both old and new. But it’s a bit early days on most waste paper collection, and later on in the year at a of the plans, so all I can really say is that things festival somewhere he will sell you the envelope seem to be falling into place quite nicely, assuming back as “it’s only been used on one side so far”. it ever stops raining. Our best wishes from all of us. However one thing we are sure of is that We have had just a few comments back both the projects and our leaders deserve all the regarding the article in last Navvies about not using support they can get. So please have a good look narrow dumpers any more. at the camps on offer and book on whichever one Several people replied that they are ideal for takes your fancy. their site and listed various reasons. However this But let’s focus on a few things a little closer just backs up why we took the decision: people are to now than summer, shall we? so obsessed with the advantages of narrow dumpFundraising – it’s always good to feature a ers they ‘dismiss’ the disadvantage that they are particularly ‘WRGy’ fundraising scheme and the unstable and unsuited to rough sites. So be clear – chaps in Head Office have not let us down. You they are not suited to canal restoration because know when you see a TV programme mentioned they are very unstable. No matter what other and think to yourself “I’m sure they started with reasons you may think make them the right tool the title and then worked out what the programme for the right job, their fundamental instability would be”. I feel sure that Head Office did exactly makes them unsuited to our work and so nobody that when they created the “Acheman Challenge”. has authorisation to operate them. If you do think At first I thought it was just a spelling misyou have a job where they are the right tool for the take but it turns out to be a genuinely potty atjob then contact the board and we will assess the tempt at Fundraising. The details are given on job specifically, and if appropriate issue authorisapages 24-25 but it represents a superhuman effort tion for that job only. from the guys at Head Office and it is truly worthy Sorry this seems so heavy handed but, unlike of support. With a new fundraising person in place just about all our other plant operations, it really (hello Toby) we hope this will be the start of lots did seem that people were making the wrong of high profile (and probably bonkers) schemes. decisions. So what are they fundraising for? Well, Incidentally it’s been pointed out that in the amongst other things – an excavator! previous Navvies we carelessly used the phrase ‘the “But we already have one of those” I hear dumper had to pass an excavator which was not the you cry. Well, we don’t. We have taken the oppor- case in the original method statement’. So to be tunity to have a bit of a reshuffle. Actually, quite a fair to the people involved: nobody had to pass an lot of a reshuffle. Never one to do things by excavator. The method statement was correct and halves we have decided to lose the excavator, the should have been followed. Beavertail lorry, and the Land Rover and replace it See you sheltering under a tree somewhere all with a new van and a new excavator. Again full (assuming the winter camps have left any, of details are elsewhere in this magazine. Please note course!). our old excavator ‘Blue’ is not ‘no more’ it is just Mike Palmer

Chairman’s Comment

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Will you be slinging your hook in Birmingham’s canals in April? Please book now!

Coming soon Book now for the BCN Cleanup

BCN Clean up 5 - 6 April: latest news Calling all Grapplers, old and new!! Now’s the time for you to book on for the annual BCN Clean up - the annual event where we spend a weekend slinging our grappling hooks into the murky waters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (and a little bit of the Grand Union too, this time) and see what we can pull out - bikes, prams, shopping trolleys, old tyres, computers, bathroom furniture, goal posts, ceremonial weapons, safes... you name it, we’ve pulled it out! This year 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. Our accommodation is booked - it’s Phoenix Training Services’ centre in Bolton Street, Birmingam B9 4HH, which we used for the 2011. It’s really handy for the worksite, it’s available from 3.30pm on Friday so you can turn up as early as you like, and it has lots of rooms with plenty of space for sleeping and also for socialising, which is important because... On the Saturday night we are holding a social for everyone involved, from grapplers to litter pickers, boat crews to lock helpers including all the people from the local canal groups who normally just come along for the day (and who have all been invited to stop over with us if they want), and the Canal & River Trust are supplying some of the ale too. The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, Coombeswood Canal Trust and Dudley Canal Trust will once again 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. 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 could still do with some WRG qualified drivers for the vans; also a few volunteers to do breakfast duties over the weekend. Anyone who books in (using the form overleaf or via wrg.org.uk) will receive full directions showing how to get to the accommodation and the worksite signing on point. Anyone who wants picking up from rail or coach stations etc, please contact me in advance on the mobile number below. It’s a great fun weekend - please come along and help make it a real success. Chris Morgan cbmorgan@sky.com 029 2088 8681 / 07974 111354

Leader Training Day: Saturday 10 May 2014 at Ettington Once again, the Leader’s Training Day is back and this year will be held at the new venue of Ettington Community Centre on Saturday 10th May (halfway between Stratford-upon-Avon and Banbury) – coffee from 10 am, start around 10.30 am (directions will be sent out beforehand). Well... except that this year we could do something different. If there is enough interest, then the proposal is to run the morning session specifically for new leaders, a ‘back to basics’ session. The afternoon session would be the topics where we need our experienced canal camp leaders as well. Of course everyone would be welcome to attend the morning session, but it would give us free reign to pick subjects without worrying about how much is relevant for people who have been doing this for years. Please let Helen or Jenny know what

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you think of this idea. Regardless of whether that happens, the main content will be finished around 4.30 pm and given the positive feedback from last year once again we will providing overnight accommodation in the hall with a BBQ and then breakfast butties the next morning. Again, the WRG committee meeting is on the Sunday and all are welcome to join us for that. But back to the leaders’ day: it’s open to experienced leaders, assistants, MUPs and cooks (though there won’t be a specific cook section this year – it’s just if you’d benefit from more information about how canal camps work behind the scenes), anyone who wants to find out more about leading and also local society working party organisers – so everyone really. This is the main way we get information out to our leaders so it’s useful that if you’re thinking about leading this year you can manage to attend - we try really hard to vary the content year-on-year and make it interesting. Training also goes the other way, and there tends to be a lot of feedback and discussion from the leaders themselves on how we can all do things better. People who have never led are very welcome: there is lots of opportunity to talk to other leaders and find out all you need to know – it’s generally more useful if you’ve been on a canal camp before though. The agenda is made up of subjects that you, the leaders and volunteers, think leaders should know about, so send any questions / comments / items to Helen Gardner by email to helen_gardner@hotmail.com or call 07989 425346. Bookings are now open, please contact WRG Head Office by email to jenny.black@ waterways.org.uk or call 01494 783453 with your name, any dietary requirements and allergies. This year you also need to let them know if you will be staying over and require feeding in the evening and/or in the morning. Please could you also give an indication of whether, if the morning session is for newer leaders as proposed, you would attend that. Further information about the agenda will be sent out nearer the time. It’s free and lunch is included so why not come along and find out what leading is all about! Helen Gardner

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:

Surname:

Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

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

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

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

Phone:

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

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

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In the first part of our Canal Camps preview, we bring you details of camps from Easter to the end of July

Coming soon Easter camps, summer camps...

Camps Preview Part 1: Easter and early summer 2014 Our canal camps programme for 2014 gets under way with Camp 2014-01 on 12-21 April, a week-and-a-bit on the Cotswold Canals over Easter. Here’s camp leader ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson to tell us about it... Don’t be a hot ’n’ cross bunny this Easter, come and enjoy the sites of Stroud . The current work agenda has potential lock restoration work at Bowbridge, and a little drive over the summit to Weymoor working on the bridge reconstruction. There may be the final touches needed to complete Griffin Mill Lock and then on to Ham Mill Lock to start all over again. It’s a bit like a box of chocolates, you’re not sure if someone’s taken your favourite but it will be a ‘Celebration’ and a ‘Quality Stroud’ for everyone! We will be staying in the newly modified navvies’ accommodation in the ex ‘Damien Hirst’ office block, opposite Unit 4 Brimscombe Port (the 2013 Reunion site), sadly now 150 metres from the pub, (sorry). So with my new assistant leader, Marion Carter, and hopefully our trusty Easter cooking team book early to avoid disappointment. Looking further ahead, it’s back to the Cotswold Canals on 12-19 July for camp 2014-02 as our main summer camps season kicks off. Exactly what we’ll be doing will depend on how Martin & Co get on at Easter, so we hope to have some more news next time. On the same week we’ve also got Camp 2014-03 on the Lapal Canal - but we’re not going to tell you anything about it. Why? Because it’s already fully booked! That’s right the last places went in January! But don’t worry, there are plenty more (we’re running 50% more camps than last year!) including camp 2014-04 on the same week 12-19 July on the Monmouthshire Canal in South Wales. It’s all happening on the Mon & Brec at the moment - you’ll be working on major volunteer project to restore the Ty-Coch flight of eight locks, while a couple of miles away they’ve just been awarded £8m to open up the canal into Cwmbran. So come along and be part of one of the fastest moving canal restoration schemes. We stay in Wales for the next two weeks for Camps 2014-06 on 19-26 July and Camp 2014-08 on 26 July to 2 August on the Swansea Canal. Over to leader Bob Crow... Following a successful initial camp last year, WRG return for two weeks to continue restoration work at Trebanos Locks on the Swansea canal. This year the intended work is lock chamber clearance, including retrieval and reinstatement of coping stones, lock wall, wing wall and quadrant restoration. Other work involves stonework on the bridge. This is an ideal opportunity to learn heritage skills, particularly use of lime mortar. The friendliness and hospitality of the local society is outstanding. Why not join us? Meanwhile Camp 2014-05 on the Uttoxeter Canal on 19-26 July will be carrying on the good work after the Forestry camp and recent WRG North West weekend (see p??) Then on 26 July to 2 August we’re heading to the Cromford Canal for Camp 2014-07 while Camp 2014-09 will be at Inglesham Lock on the Cotswold Canals. We’ll have more about these, and the rest of the summer’s programme, in the next issue.

Big Dig on the Cotswold Canals, 23-25 August? This is all still being worked out at the moment, but the news from Martin Thompson is: Cotswold Canals Trust are looking at developing the concept of publicising volunteer restoration work on the Thames & Severn Canal in the form of a major event with WRG over the August Bank Holiday weekend. As the plan comes together, more details will follow with official releases on social networks, press releases and the next Navvies. Book the date!

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Camp Report Cotswold New Year Camp

“Honestly, James, Portaloorustling is not a normal introduction to a canal camp” - unconvincing stuff from RAF Martin...

Alan Lines and myself to collect a Portaloo from the CCT site at Griffin Mill site. “The rain gods fail to stop Cots- Strangely a van with trailer, men with head torches in the pitch black, on the day after wold’s post-Christmas cheer” Christmas removing a Portaloo didn’t attract or “Weymoor fun on the North Wilts” any inquisitive local interest, probably just as well! Honestly James, “Portaloo rustling” is At the beginning of December a comment not a normal introduction to a canal camp! was passed about the how little rain we’d While this was going on my co-leader Moose had, and how the Thames Valley was not was meeting and greeting folks and making looking like a lake as the previous Xmas a start on the 19 dozen mince pies (yes, 228 camp experienced. Maybe I should be work- of them lovingly crafted by cook George ing for the Met Office, as it has rained inces- Rogers!!). One of the great bonuses of a santly since that day and the Cotswold Water Christmas gathering is the accumulation of Park is no longer a series of worked out gravel festive goodies and this camp was no exceppits but an extensive water feature now known tion with chocolates and other Christmas fare as the Thames Water Park (TWP)! to bountiful excess. Many thanks to all that With the unfortunate demise of the contributed. alternate northern Christmas camp, the The modified original plan was for Cotswold post Christmas get–together grew Moose to lead a group at Inglesham Lock site to a rather large gathering with the amalgato position the CCT storage container (previmation of the two sets of happy campers. ously at Ruck’s Bridge) as part of the site set Sadly the space constraints of Watchfield up for the future restoration work, extend village hall meant that not all that wished to the parking / turning area and continue the be present could be accommodated. With an stump pulling and channel clearance on the initial 31 folks booked on, the normal layout CCT-owned canal bed upstream of the lock. of Watchfield for a standard camp had to be After the first day’s visit it was obvious that modified and the normal lobby eating area the Thames Water Park (TWP) had migrated became the armchair comfy social area and into the canal bed, where the bank had been meals were taken in the main hall. Enterprisingly Fran and Lucy made their billets in the under-stage storage space, making those bedded down on the stage a tad conscious of unplanned releases of liquid and the forces of gravity on those below! A late switch of the original CCT scrub bash site together with the prevailing downpours made for interesting pre-Christmas planning entertainment. It also extended to a late Boxing Day afternoon trip in the dark to Stroud for newbie James, “There’s a canal in there somewhere” - clearing the North Wilts Pictures by David Miller

Cotswold Camp 26 Dec - 1 Jan

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removed for a farm crossing, rendering any meaningful clearance work impractical for the size of team deployed to this site, even for any unfortunates in waders. Being a bit on the technical side the moving of the container was delegated to Network Rail Pete, who with a few aids borrowed from CCT eastern depot successful engineered moving the container into its desired location off of the hardstanding turning area. Meanwhile the second group headed to Weymoor Bridge, a new CCT site adjacent to Latton Basin (the transhipment point and junction between the North Wilts Canal and the Thames & Severn canal). CCT are carrying out enabling works to facilitate the rebuilding a brick-arched vehicle bridge over the T&S canal. The existing road over the collapsed bridge had been diverted and partially excavated by CCT in late November and we were asked to carry on the good work to expose the abutments, assist in the diversion of a water main, modify site fencing and create the compound area and hardstanding. The way things are with civil engineering projects, things in excess get buried and the original location for the water main diversion connection was obviously the beneficiary of some surplus concrete disposal when the A419 dual carriageway was built! This ‘exposé’ resulted in the need to hand dig another trench around the bridge diversion. London Paul, Tasterella, Allan, Lucy, James, Iain, Chris and Martin D beavered away on the trench with Robin, the local CCT project coordinator on hand to oversee, their endeavours. Tasterella adds: I enjoyed myself on day One by answering questions by various ramblers thus: (a) We are not using an excavator today as we are recreating the original navvies’ experience. (b) I dunno... I just do as I’m told by Him. (this while on my front burrowing a trench like a mole). The CCT excavator was however collected by Nigel, Pete among others, from Stroud, in daylight (collecting in the dark might just have got the local residents a tad more interested in men with torches!), on the Saturday morning along with procuring some geotextile for the compound hardstanding. So with Inglesham waterlogged for sensible, safe work, the Moose group joined the bridge party at Weymoor. Too many people for the bridge site but fortunately

‘Tirfor King’ John’ in action Doug Small, the Latton Basin restoration coordinator, had a little canal bed clearance job on the North Wilts Canal section above the lock into the Basin. Joy upon joy for Moose, “scrub bash & burn”! As Doug later mentioned “it was the best Christmas present he’d received. Mmm Moose & Father Christmas, spot the difference? Maybe the “Bah Humbug” hat might be a giveaway! With George at the kitchen helm ably assisted by Margaret, Maria was able to get some site time in before going back to work on the evening meal. Tasterella continues... The Moose contingent who were tasked with exposing the canal bed between Latton Basin and further on (North Wilts canal) included the whizzy crew of: Mo (American), Lynda and Paul Shaw (chain saw), Emma, Siobhan, Rachel, Helen, Fran, Lucy, Martin D and me. Chris (Margaret’s other half), James, John (Tirfor King), Gazz, and Lawrence were mainly wrestling with brush cutters and/or brambles, or bonfires. RAF Martin was i/c the laying down of a hardstanding by the ‘container’ (which was quite cosy and well equipped, compared to a gazebo f’r instance) but apparently CCT are providing a ‘welfare suite’ or similar name

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which sounded totally sumptuous in terms of facilities, and I can’t wait to see this. Iain, Pete, Alan, Adrian, Dave, Nigel, Paul (the breakfast ace) were all involved in the Weymoor bridge ‘end ‘ of the site (Thames and Severn) and spent some time making and looking down a hole. With the exception of Monday morning when it precipitated at a continuous rate of inches per hour which resulted in a cosy hunker-down at the accommodation for an early lunch and a splash-and-dash to site in the afternoon for the much of the same for the scrub bashers. The Creating the new compound and hardstanding bridge bods (with site conditions a tad wetter kitchen magicians - this time Maria, George underfoot for dumper movements to the and Margaret - put on an amazing 4 or (5 if spoil stockpile) proceeded to perform track you count the cheese board!) course meal maintenance to the lock cottage using the with wine for New Year’s Eve. Awesome. Type 1 aggregate water displacement There was ‘dad’ disco dancing in the main method and a walk-behind vibrating roller. hall, and the quieter cosy zone for those not The residents of the cottage very much wishing to embarrass themselves on the appreciated the potholes being filled, and CCT very much appreciate their support and dance floor. The New Year was seen to Auld Lang Syne and some bubbly courtesy of patience as the works proceed until they get a swanky new traditional brick arched bridge Siobhan. My thanks go out to the CCT locals to drive over to their cottage, and the canal Robin Payne and the ever present Jon has another obstruction removed. The opportunity was also taken to train Pontefract for their patience and support in Iain and Martin H on the 7 tonne tracked 360 putting together this camp when the weather degree excavator, and now WRG has another contrived to wash away our site activities. To two authorized excavator operators to add to the awesome kitchen magicians, Maria, George and helper Margaret, my top breakits numbers. With the hardstanding comfast cooking companion “London” Paul , my plete, the excavation of the bridge hole co-conspirator (sorry) leader Moose: without continued up until the light faded on New you folks it wouldn’t be the memorable Year’s Eve. The key sponsor of the bridge experience for the group that, hopefully, it project and his wife visited us and were was. And finally to all the peeps that put up extremely pleased with the progress being with the rain, mud, and the retro disco. Postmade and the efforts of all the volunteers. Christmas week will never be the same withWith all this effort on site, the cosy comfort of the Watchfield Village Hall proved out being with a great bunch of folks as you. I’m in your debt, ta muchly. Another southtoo attractive to most folks, after a hot ern post-Christmas camp for 2014? Site shower, top nosh, the warm and toasty nominations gratefully received! Mince pie accommodation, comfy armchairs and good anyone? Happy New Year! company meant we didn’t venture far from ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson the hall in the evenings. As is traditional, the

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“It was the best of times; it as the worst of times” Richard Worthington brings us a tale of Christmas partying on the Cotswold

Dig Report Cotswold Christmas Party

London WRG & KESCRG Christmas dig: Cotswold Canals or

Waterways and Peace:a Tale of WRG (abridged)

Pictures by Martin Ludgate

Unit 1, Brimscombe Port is very handy for Griffin Mill Lock, and The Ship Inn is handy for Unit 1, so that’s were we ended up on Friday night along with volunteers representing London WRG and KESCRG. It was a chance to catch up with friends and plot the jobs on site. The main job for the weekend was pouring a concrete base for the lower gates of the lock along with work on the coping stones, clearing a paddle culvert and putting up a wooden fence. As on any site there are always volunteers itching to jump in a muddy hole so they were sent in to clear the mud, prep the shuttering and lay out the reinforcing mesh for the concrete pour. Also on the lock, the last of the loose coping stones along the lock edge had to be pulled back and reset. With a new towpath having already been laid and the lock looking finished there were landscaping jobs to take care of. A traditional winter dig bonfire for scrub (and huddling round) was lit to get rid of previously cut scrub. While the lock was being restored a line of Heras fence panelling had been put up but it was time to replace it with something more permanent, and more pleasing to the eye. Bonking jokes at the ready, two teams planted a run of fence posts followed by a masterclass from Bobby in the arcane mysteries of the ‘monkey strainer’ for tensioning mesh and barbed wire. Back at Unit 1, and after showers and a change of clothes, we were greeted by the wonderful smell of Christmas dinner. Soup and pâté, turkey and pork, all followed by Christmas pudding, cheese and the most amazing chocolate pudding complete with sparklers. Once we were finished it was onto a tradition nearly as Re-setting the last few coping stones at Griffin Mill Lock old as Christmas itself – judg-

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ing the fancy dress and party games courtesy of Martin – with a theme of ‘books’. Round 1’s book related questions may have favoured those with a good knowledge of A Muppets Christmas Carol and Round 2 gave us Purple Fairy as The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s butterfly, RAF Martin as Moby Dick’s whale and Jack and the Beanstalk with an appropriately tall cast. The games finished with a deciding round of Book Title Charades. The Ken Parish trophy was also awarded to Jon Pontefract, the local on site, for all his work and help given to various groups, plus his ability to find work for a weekThe mixer crew hard at work end (or week!) at short notice [see opposite ...Ed]. For the fencing team Sunday was an end to straight lines and on to corners with wooden fencing to go up around the spill weir. Others worked on scrub bashing and clearance of the far end of site and finishing up the landscaping. With the lock bed prepped on Saturday vast quantities of concrete were mixed and a large pipe was lowered into place to provide a chute for the concrete as it was mixed and shovelled in. Saturday night’s party was based around the theme of ‘books’ and featured fancy dress costumes (left) - can you work out which titles these people’s outfits represent? plus (below left) Martin T as the whale in Moby Dick and (below right) Sophie as the front end of the Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Scrub burnt, fence laid, concrete poured and volunteers knackered, we packed, tidied and left. As with any dig you need peoplepower, and anyone who came should be proud of what was achieved, but you need someone in charge and someone to feed us so many thanks to Helena (who says she wasn’t in charge) and Sophie and Anne for cooking at least two Christmases’ worth of food Richard Worthington

The End

Trowelling-in the last of the concrete gate cill

The “Special One” (and it isn’t the Chelsea manager) As you will read in the dig report, the weekend of the 6th & 7th Dec saw 30 + volunteers from the Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG) and London Waterway Recovery Group hold their Xmas party gathering in Stroud, working on the Griffin Mill Lock restoration project. Behind every successful team or event there is someone or group of people that contributes to that success in an outstanding way. With canal restoration there is no exception. Stephen Davis, Chairman of KESCRG continues the story... “As is traditional at the Christmas party, we awarded the Ken Parish trophy. This is a Jon (left) receives the award from Martin butty carved in coal and is awarded to a person that we feel has contributed to the group over and above the call of duty in the preceding year, which could involve constant volunteering, excellent cooking, behind the scenes logistics, leading lots of digs, or anything generally ‘really useful’. “This year we have awarded the trophy to Jon Pontefract of Cotswold Canal Trust and the Stroud District Council Canal Project Volunteer manager, as he has been a constant source of interesting and rewarding work and well organised sites and accommodation over the last couple of years, and especially this year he has been unflappable in the face of many last minute requests for camps and digs when other sites and projects have unfortunately fallen through, and the considerable effort he goes to to support our passtime is greatly appreciated” It was a unanimous decision to award Jon the trophy. In addition to the pre-planned weekend/week long work party visits, and the short notice weekend visiting volunteer work parties Jon has excelled in accommodating week-long Waterway Recovery Group restoration working holiday camps when nature and other unforeseen challenges had conspired to make their original destinations unavailable. One Easter camp in particular due to the freezing conditions and snowfall switched from Litchfield to Stroud three days before the start of the camp, Jon masterfully sprang into action. A highly productive and enjoyable time was had by all. It is also fair to say that the award also reflects the proactive and willing support from within SDC and CCT which enables him to give us, as waterway restoration volunteers, an experience that keeps us coming back to Stroud and the Cotswold Canal. The Waterway Recovery Group, its forestry & regional groups, KESCRG and Newbury Working Party Group offer our sincere and unquestionable thanks to Jon and all concerned for hosting our events. Martin Thompson

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Spotlight on Shrewsbury & Newport Shrewsbury & Newport? What’s that then?

All pictures by Martin Ludgate

Take a look at the WRG Canal Camps dates list for this summer and you might spot a ‘new kid on the block’: the words ‘Shrewsbury and Newport Canals’ appear in the list for (I think) the first time ever. Not that WRG volunteers haven’t worked on these canals before - in fact folks have been trying to get a restoration scheme going on this particular route or about half a century - but every time, something seems to have got in the way and prevented any The first few yards at Norbury, used for moorings serious progress. And of course every time somebody revives the idea, a few more years have Shrewsbury & Newport Canals passed, the canals have suffered more damage, amd they find that the job’s got a bit more difficult. Shrewsbury Canal Shrewsbury to But this time we’re hopeful Wappenshall: restoration proposed that things will be different. To the extent that we’ve put it in our diary for 16 to 23 August. But before we get into describing what the work for the camp will be, we’ll answer 2 locks enlarged to 80ft by 7ft: the above question: what exactly 4 tub boats or 1 standard narrow boat are the ‘Shrewsbury and Newport Canals’? Longden on Tern Aqueduct There’s a slightly more detailed history piece overleaf, but basically the Newport Arm is a Canal blocked by disused branch of the Shropshire new A5 road Shrewsbury Canal Union Canal which left the canal’s Wappenshall to main line at Norbury Junction. It Trench: no plans descended through 23 narrow Shrewsbury for restoration locks through the town of Newport (the one inShropshire, not to be confused with the Newports in Berwick Tunnel South Wales,the Isle of Wight, Essex, Rhode Island or elsewhere!) to end at Wappenshall Junction. River Severn: there There, it met up with the Shrewshave been various probury Canal, which continued posals for new locks through Longdon-on-Tern to and weirs to provide full Shrewsbury. (The Shrewsbury navigable standard from Canal also continued south of above Stourport to Wappenshall to Trench - now part Shrewsbury, but no of Telford New Town - but there currently active scheme. aren’t any plans to restore that bit.) So between them the two

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a Navvies special feature lengths of canal make up a 25-mile through route from the Shropshire Union main line to Shrewsbury via a lot of rather nice Shropshire scenery. Or they would do, if they hadn’t been abandoned. As mentioned earlier, there have been several earlier attempts to restore the route, starting in the 1960s when the canals were largely intact and had only been officially shut for about 20 years. Unfortunately just as a restoration group was being set up, the then British Waterways sold off some important bits of the route for demolition and redevelopment (whether this was sheer bad

timing and shortsightedness or something more sinister is open to debate). So the restoration group looked instead at restoring the Montgomery Canal, transformed itself into the Shropshire Union Canal Society, and has been at work on the Mont ever since although they retained a long-term hope of returning to the S&N later if practicable. Come the 1970s, another group looked at the Shrewsbury and Newport. They organised some volunteer clearance work, but as a young and inexperienced group taking on what was by then a rather more difficult restoration scheme, they didn’t have the wherewithal to take it forward. To Nantwich By the late 1980s it was lookShropshire and Chester ing like the Mont might get comUnion main line pleted rather quickly with European SU Newport Branch Norbury to funding. SUCS felt that its work Wappenshall: restoration proposed Norbury there might be finished, and it Junction looked at taking up the Shrewsbury & Newport cause again. UnfortuCanal blocked nately as a result of some political by A41 bypass Locks built 70ft+ decisions by the government reNewport by 7ft: standard garding which Welsh projects it narrow boat size would direct the EU money towards, the Mont missed out. So Forton Aqueduct Meretown Lock: SUCS were less likely to be able to work site site for 2014 spare much effort for the S&N. summer camp To Autherley The 1990s saw the ShrewsJunction bury & Newport Canals Trust estabWappenshall lished with a view to reopening the 10 Locks built 80ft by 6ft 4in: 4 tubroute. By then the canals had sufboats or one extra-thin narrow boat Trench fered further damage, including two low-level road crossings by the Former Trench inclined new A5 and one by the A41 Newplane: 20ft tub-boats only port bypass. The Trust quite rightly realised that some serious engiFormer Shropshire tubneering solutions were going to be boat canal system (Shropneeded, but one of its ideas - for a shire Canal, Donnington double inclined plane boat lift Wood Canal, Ketley Canal, linking to the middle of the big Wombridge Canal) - all embankment south of Norbury, abandoned by early 20th rather than restoring and rebuilding century and parts now the original lock flight - didn’t go obliterated under Telford down very well with local people, New Town some of whom didn’t really want a major tourist attraction on their doorstep. (This was the era of the ‘Falkirk Wheel Effect’, where it seemed that adding an ‘iconic’

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Spotlight on Shrewsbury & Newport structure was a good way of helping your canal’s prospects for attracting major funding). This was one of the factors that led to the founding of a separate group, the Norbury to Newport Canal Restoration Community Interest Company, which aimed to instead restore the eastern end on something more like its original line. Having two restoration groups disagreeing about how to restore a canal is seldom helpful - and there were fears that once again the restoration would come to a halt. Instead, a couple of years on, with some different people involved, the two groups are cooperating and there is at last some serious progress on the ground.

Wappenshall transhipment warehouse

Shrewsbury and Newport: the history The first part of the route to be built was the Shrewsbury Canal, opened in 1797 to connect the town of Shrewsbury to a local network of canals which had already been built to serve the ironworks, mines and other industries in the area which is now occupied by Telford New Town. These canals were all built to take small ‘tub boats’ about 20ft by 6ft, towed in trains by a single horse, with most of the steep changes in level overcome not by conventional locks but by inclined plane boat lifts (there were six in the area altogether) which would take one tub-boat at a time. The Shrewsbury Canal was therefore built to the same standard: it had an inclined plane at Trench, a flight of ten 80ft by 6ft 4in locks (to take four tub-boats at a time) between there and Wappenshall, and two more locks of the same size between Wappenshall and Shrewsbury. After almost 40 years as a self-contained system, these canals finally gained a link to the outside world when the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal was built, with its Newport Branch running from a junction with the main line at Norbury Junction via Newport to meet the Shrewsbury Canal at Wappenshall. As it was part of the main Midand canal network, the B&LJ locks were built to take standard narrow boats of around 70ft by 7ft. To tranfer cargo between the two types of boats, a transhipment warehouse was built at Wappenshall Junction - it still stands, and has just been awarded Lottery funding to restore it as a community centre and exhibition celebrating the achievements of Thomas Telford, the engineer who desiged both canals and the warehouse. In addition, to make through trade easier the two locks between Wappenshall and Telford were widened so that standard narrowboats could get through from the main network to Shrewsbury; also a number of extra-narrow narrow boats 70ft by just over 6ft were built (so that they could also use the Trench Locks, which hadn’t been widened) - volunteers on a canal camp on the Montgomery a couple of years ago may recall that the remains of the last one were uncovered near Crickheath. In a series of takeovers and mergers in the 1840s both canals became part of the Shropshire Union system, which itself became a subsidiary of the London & North Western Railway. Although the SU system prospered initially under railway ownership (the LNWR encouraged the use of its canals as they reached into rival railway companies’ territory), trade declined in the early 20th Century. The Inclined Plane last worked in 1921, while the Shrewsbury to Norbury route became progressively disused and weeded-up from the western end. It was already more-or-less disused by the time the successor company the LMS Railway’s 1944 Act abandoned it in its entirety (along with the Montgomery, Huddersfield Narrow and more).

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S&N canal history and restoration So what’s actually left of the canals, after half a century of groups not quite managing to restore them? We’ll start with the bad news: two aqueducts have been demolished, several locks on the Norbury flight have gone, long lengths of canal are infilled, there are (as mentioned earlier) three major road blockages plus numerous less serious ones, and some development on the line near the Shrewsbury terminus. But on the plus side most of the locks survive - apparently in fair condition - a couple of aqueducts still stand including the early cast iron one at Longdon, and much of the route is free of obstructions. In particular the Norbury to Newport length has few serious problems: most of the bridges still stand, and most of the locks look restorable. Various projects further west are in hand (including restoration of the junction area and historic transhipment warehouse at Wappenshall as a heritage and community centre; and restoration of the length alongside the historic Flax Mill near the Shrewsbury terminus) using external funding including grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund. But it’s the Norbury to Newport length that’s where the volunteer effort will be concentrated. Work has started at three sites: there has been initial vegetation clearance work on some of Norbury Locks and around Forton Aqueduct, and at a London WRG weekend dig in January 2014 work started digging out the infilled chamber of Meretown Lock. This is the site for this summer’s camp, so we’ll explain a bit about what’s happening. Just east of Meretown Lock the canal is crossed at close to water level by the A41 Newport bypass, the only major obstruction to opening the canal from the Shroppie down to Newport. If a way of getting the canal under the road can be found, Newport would make an excellent initial target for reopening, and an

important first step towards restoring the whole route. Raising the road isn’t really an option, so the alternatives involve diverting the canal to cross where the road is at a higher level; lowering the length of canal where it passes under the road to give more headroom; or a combination of the two. The exact details are still being worked out by SNCT, but basically it’s going to be the second option - which means that either Meretown Lock will be restored, and a new lock inserted between there and the A41; or Meretown Lock will be reduced in height (possibly down to zero) and the length of canal from there to the A41 deepened. Either of these will involve completely clearing out the lock chamber and repairing it - whether it ends up as a working lock or a gateless chamber like some of the old ‘stop locks’ you sometimes see at canal junctions. And that will be the work for this summer’s camp - along, quite possibly, with some digging out of the channel from there to the road. So if you fancy a week on a new site on an up-and-coming project (albeit one that’s been around for 50 years on and off!) with some dumper and excavator operating (and a chance for new volunteers to be trained on machines), plus brickwork repairs and perhaps some scrub clearance too, sign up for Canal Camp 2014-19 on 16-23 August. Martin Ludgate

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Spotlight on Shrewsbury & Newport London WRG weekend dig Shrewsbury & Newport, Jan 2014 London WRG is the first of the WRG regional groups to get involved in the current bid to restore the Shrewsbury & Newport canals, with a weekend work party in February 2013 and another in January 2014. Chris Byrne reports... Upon arriving early on the Friday evening, Peter Foord & myself met with SNCT Chairman Bernie Jones and his wife, to show us around our accommodation for the weekend. We were staying at the Forton Cricket Club pavilion, which had good facilities including a few showers and a bar! We all met later that evening at the local Swan pub, where George was waiting longer than others in the car park as he had not noticed that we were already sat in the bar. A few of us who got there early enough enjoyed some of the lovely meals that were available from their menu. Our leader for the weekend was Martin Ludgate, who arrived from his long journey in the WRG van from London just in time for last orders at the bar, well timed Martin! Checking the depth of the trench... Our regular breakfast cook Paul Ireson was unable to join us this weekend due to still feeling unwell, therefore Colin volunteered to be ‘head breakfast chef’ with myself assisting him both mornings. It was quite interesting cooking breakfast by torch light and having to be very quiet due to cooking behind the bar, which was only a couple of metres away from people still trying to sleep. Our work site was a short van’s journey down the road at Meretown lock at Islington on the edge of Newport. Our day started with clearing some vegetation along the towpath and the dry section of canal above the lock. Adrian, Nigel & Peter started using the machinery on site to excavate some of the lock chamber and using the infill to create a bund at the other end of the dry section of canal near to the road, so the local canal trust are able to put this section back into water in the near future. David was using the other excavator along the towpath with another team digging a trench to lay a water supply pipeline from the pumping station, just past the lock, towards the main road. This would be used to supply water into the canal. A good bonfire was started by Martin using our trusted gas torch Clearing trees and scrub from the canal banks lance to get the damp materials

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S&N weekend dig by London WRG lit. (Paul Rudders-Clarke left his nearly full plastic water bottle a little too close to the bonfire, creating another hole in the base to drink out of!) There was a good turn out from the local canal trust’s volunteers, who helped carrying out these tasks as well as informing members of the public about what was happening and the aims of their canal trust. A generous donation was made by the two local canal trusts for us to use behind the bar at the cricket club that evening, which was gratefully received by all of us (including the cricket club during this quiet time of year) as it isn’t that often on our digs that you can have a pint of beer served to you whilst laying on your bed! Our evening meal was cooked by our multitasking leader, although a little later than originally planned, but was well worth the wait. Our pudding was mostly made from some free apples that Helena found on site, which was also very tasty and helped to keep our running costs down for the weekend. On Sunday, after a cold frosty start, a test pit was excavated in the lock chamber to see the condition of the lock walls and bed: all was in reasonable condition and can be restored back to its former glory in the future. This was then back filled to prevent a deep ...before installing the water pipe hazard being left after we finished for the weekend. During the excavation works on the lower entrance of the lock, some of the original paddle gear and the lock gate metalwork were found, showing us the original design for these locks, which can either be restored or remade to the original standards. Work continued clearing the offside bank of shrub, removing dead trees and thinning out others. The pipework was placed in the trench and backfilled, restoring the towpath back to its original condition. A good weekend’s work was enjoyed by all of us and if anybody would like to continue our work on this site, including restoring the lock, Waterway Recovery Group are holding a weeks camp here this year between 16th - 23rd August. Please visit our website wrg.org.uk or contact Jenny at head office on 01494 783453 ext 604 for further information. Chris Byrne

To find out more: To book on the WRG summer camp see wrg.org.uk For more about the canals see the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust’s website sncanal.org.uk. Any WRG or other mobile groups who want to hold weekend digs on the S&N should contact Bernie Jones berniecjones@hotmail.com or 07971 016322

The lock, unearthed at the end of the weekend

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Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Feb 22/23 Feb 22 Sat Feb 23 Sun Mar 1/2 Mar 1/2 Mar 1/2 Mar 1 Sat Mar 1 Sat Mar 1 Sat Mar 2 Sun Mar 3 & 5 Mar 8/9 Mar 8/9 Mar 8/9 Mar 9 Sun Mar 9 Sun Mar 12 Wed Mar 13 Thu Mar 15/16 Mar 15/16 Mar 15/16 Mar 15 & 20 Mar 15 Sat Mar 16 Sun Mar 22 Sat Mar 28/29 Mar 29/30 Mar 29/30 Mar 30 Sun Mar 30 Sun Apr 2 & 7 Apr 5/6 Apr 5 Sat Apr 5/6 Apr 5 Sat Apr 9 Wed Apr 10 Thu Apr 12/13 Apr 12/13

London WRG Wey & Arun Canal: Including LWRG AGM. IWA Mcr/CRT Lower Peak Forest Canal: Hyde. Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbis IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Lock 17, Far Cotton Essex WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation KESCRG Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold IWA Chelmsford Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: With Essex WRG wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection IWA Chester Dee Branch in Chester: Painting, weeding, litterpicking. IWA W. Country Bridgwater & Taunton Canal: Firepool Lock. Veg clearance, etc. IWPS Bugsworth Basin IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & p wrgNW Pocklington Canal: Scrub bashing with bonfires WRG Forestry Cotswold Canals IWA B’ham Worcester & Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns with (W&B&Dro IWA Warks Grand Union: Canal clean up in Warwick. Meet in Leamington Spa 10a WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington IWA B’ham Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Froghall. Veg clearance & tidying. wrgBITM Basingstoke Canal: Offside rhodo bashing at Deepcut London WRG Cotswold Canals NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold summit - reinstatement works following d IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & pa IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Malkins Bank, Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg cle IWPS Bugsworth Basin IWA Mcr/CRT Lower Peak Forest Canal: Hyde. Painting, veg clearance, pulling rubbis IWA Notts Erewash Canal: Fri & Sat. Canal Clean Up Langley Mill to Trent Lock wi wrgNW Montgomery Canal: (NOTE NEW DATE) Scrub bashing. WRG Forestry Wey & Arun Canal IWPS Bugsworth Basin IWA SY&D Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation: Canal Cleanup at Tinsley. 10am IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & p London WRG BCN Clean Up IWA Chester Dee Branch in Chester: Painting, weeding, litterpicking. various societies BCN Clean Up: Meet at Phoenix Wharf, Bordesley. See ‘Coming Soon, p IWA Head Office Acheman Challenge: 50 mile sponsored cycle/boat/run/canoe for a WR IWA BBCW Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance 10am-3pm. Kid IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: 10am-3pm KESCRG Wendover Arm wrgBITM Cotswold Canals: Griffin or Ham Mill Locks

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 h out, litter pick

Tim Lewis Ian Price David Higgins John Gale Bobby Silverwood Roy Chandler David McCarthy Mike Carter Bob Abbott Ian Edgar

07802-518094 07971-444258 01480-896689 01376-334896 07971-814986

Malcolm Bridge Clive Alderman Bill Lambert Brian Bayston Mike Palmer David Struckett Bob Luscombe Dave Wedd Tim Lewis Bill Nicholson

01422-820693

01706-214696 07795-617803

07802-518094 07795-617803

mike.carter@waterways.org.uk bob.abbott@waterways.org.uk ian@theedgars.co.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk wrgforestry@wrg.org.uk w.lambert@ntlworld.com info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk david.struckett@waterways.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk bob.luscombe@waterways.org.uk ian@theedgars.co.uk chairman@manchester-iwa.co.uk alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk wrgforestry@wrg.org.uk ian@theedgars.co.uk mavis.paul@waterways.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk mike.carter@waterways.org.uk

01494-783453 07976-746225 07710-054848 07971-814986 01252-874437

toby.gomm@waterways.org.uk david.struckett@waterways.org.uk bobluscombe@btinternet.com bobby@kescrg.org.uk bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

0161-427-7402

path work.

oitwich Canal Soc) m-1pm.

dredging. ath work earance 10am-4pm Bob Luscombe Ian Edgar h out, litter pick Ian Price ith ECPDA Alison Smedley Malcolm Bridge Clive Alderman Ian Edgar m-1pm Mavis Paul path work. Tim Lewis Mike Carter page 6 RG excavator Toby Gomm dderminster area David Struckett Bob Luscombe Bobby Silverwood Dave Wedd

london@wrg.org.uk chairman@manchester-iwa.co.uk david.higgins@waterways.org.uk essex@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk roy.chandler@waterways.org.uk

01926-831508 01564-785293 07976-746225 07710-054848 01252-874437 07802-518094 01844-343369 07710-054848 0161-427-7402 07971-444258 07779-090915 01422-820693 0161-427-7402 07725-464611

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 Thu and last Sat 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 weekday KACT/CRT 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 Every Thu and Sat 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 Keith Tassart 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 01524-424761 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 The following is the list of the Canal & River Trust’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 Bath 3rd Thursday of month Devizes 2nd Thursday of month Newbury Every weekday Bradford on Avon Weds and Thurs Droitwich 1st Saturday of month Fradley 4th Thursday of month Gailey 3rd Saturday of month Lapworth Alternate Tuesdays Leicester 3rd Saturday of month London 3rd Saturday of month near Selby Alternate Fridays Stoke Every other Wednesday Tamworth 4th Saturday of month Tipton Every Tuesday Wigan 4th Saturday of month Manchester 3rd Thursday of month Welshpool 2nd Friday of month Huddersfield 1st Mon & Wed of month Hatton Last Sunday of month Hawkesbury 2nd Saturday of month Aylesbury 3rd Thursday of month Cheshire

Kennet & Avon Rob Labus Kennet & Avon Rob Labus Kennet & Avon Rob Labus Kennet & Avon Derrick Hunt Droitwich Canal Suzanne Byrne Trent & Mersey Tom Freeland Staffs & Worcs Murray Woodward Stratford Canal Murray Woodward Grand Union/Soar Tom Freeland Grand Union/Lee Becky Williams Selby Canal Lucy Dockray Caldon / T&M Tom Freeland Coventry Canal Tom Freeland BCN Murray Woodward Leeds & Liverpool Katie Jackson Ashton / Peak Forest Steve O’Sullivan Montgomery Canal Paul Corner Huddersfield Broad Claire McDonald Grand Union Canal Murray Woodward Coventry/Oxford Miriam Tedder Grand Union Miriam Tedder T&M/Macclesfield Hazel Mayow

07711-403479 07711-403479 07711-403479 01225-863066 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 Bath, Devizes and Newbury working parties. For those where no phone number is given above, either use email or try the national CRT enquiries number 03030 404040.

Abbreviations used in Diary: BCA BCNS BuCS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT ECPDA FIPT GCS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT

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

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

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

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The Acheman Challenge ...and no, that is’t a misprint! Acheman? Shome mishtake, shurely No, that isn’t, as our Chairman Mike Palmer assumed, a spelling mistake. Yes, the man who (co-) founded our parent body and whose 100th birthday we are celebrating this year (except that with all the effort of saving the canal system, being a successful author and getting up to whatever he got up to with his secretary, he wore himself out and popped his clogs 30 years ago) was actually Robert Aickman. But to mark his centenary, and also the fact that by the end of the day they’ll probably be suffering from all kinds of aches, and also that one should never miss a chance for a truly bad pun, four good folks from IWA Head Office including WRG’s Jenny Black are taking pat in the Acheman Challenge on 5 April. They’re also doing it to raise 5 grand to buy us a new digger.

Something old, Something Blue... So why do we need a new excavator? Well, our existing JCB 803 digger, known as ‘Blue’, is getting a little bit long in the tooth. Bought by the IWA Golden Jubilee Appeal in 1996, it’s done nearly 18 years’ service, it’s showing its age, it’s not the most modern of machines, and carting it around the country to where it’s needed can be rather inconvenient.

Something borrowed? Yes, we know, it often makes ‘Blue’ in action at the 2003 WRG Training Weekend more sense to hire in machinery. But sometimes it’s just useful to have our own bit of kit, that we can lend to a canal for a period of time, and it doesn’t have to be working flat out all the time to justify the hire fee. So we’ve decided to replace ‘Blue’. Not that it’s been scrapped: its gone to a new home with the Buckingham Canal Society and is already hard at work.

Something new! So what are we replacing it with? Well, we haven’t chosen the exact model yet, but over 18 years there have been changes to exavator design which mean that we can buy something that’s no less capable, but considerably lighter. That means we no longer need to maintain a ‘beavertail’ truck (a flat-bed with a loading ramp) to move it around, which is not only a significant expense but operating a lorry involves various regulations and paperwork too. So we’ve sold it and will buy a trailer that’s capable of carrying the new digger. And to tow it, we’ll get one of the new generation of heavy duty vans, which means that in due course we won’t need our Land Rover any more either.

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How much? All this will leave us a with a machine that we can deliver to where it’s needed much more easily. It will also leave us with a bit of a hole in our pockets. Swapping the beavertail and Land Rover for a van and trailer shouldn’t be too pricey, but the new digger will come in at around 30 grand. Some of this will come from our reserves (thanks to a couple of generous legacies) but we’re hoping to raise £5,000 towards it from the Acheman Challenge...

OK so that’s ‘Why’ dealt with. Now what is it? It’s a sponsored canal quadrathlon. Four IWA Head Office Staff (Jenny Black, Toby Gomm, Stephanie Pay and Gemma Bolton) will all cycle 39.5 miles, work a boat through seven locks spread over a mile, run 6 miles, and canoe 3.5 miles - total 50 miles, and they certainly will be aching by the end of it!

And where? On the Grand Union Canal, from the Coy Carp pub at Harefield to the Galleon Inn, Wolverton.

And when? On Saturday 5 April. So feel free to go and cheer them on, and in the meantime you’ve got plenty of time to sponsor them!

How do I sponsor them?

.

. .

Text ‘ROLT46’ followed by the amount in pounds (eg ‘ROLT46£10’) to 70070 Send a cheque (pay The Inland Waterways Association) to Acheman Challenge, IWA, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA Go to website virginmoneygiving.com and search for Toby Gomm Call Toby Gomm on 01494 783453 IWA

.

Thank you for your support

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Progress

Our regular roundup of progress on restoration projects begins in Suffolk where the River Gipping Trust volunteers are rebuilding a bywash bridge

River Gipping

River Gipping Trust

Pctures bt RGT

Since our last report in the summer, all the River Gipping Trust’s workparties have been concentrated on preparing for the new bridge to be installed over the bywash at Pipps Ford lock, on the River Gipping just south of Needham Market The brick abutment walls of the old bridge had decayed and excavation showed no sign of there ever having been a solid foundation . The walls therefore needed a complete rebuild. This work was largely completed by the end of the summer. We pushed ahead with backfilling the walls with earth and rubble, which was then compacted in layers and will now have time to finally settle before the planned instalRebuilding Pipps Ford bywash bridge abutments lation of the bridge in the late spring. The timber for the bridge has been supplied by White House Farm at Great Glemham, who have also arranged for the milling of the locally grown oak, and provided us with a free covered workspace and power. The first side frame for the bridge is nearing completion and we should have started to construct the bearers for the bridge deck before Christmas. Luckily the St Jude’s Day storm passed us by without any damage to any of our structures, but did leave a lot of fallen trees and debris which are still being cleared from our main site at Pipps Ford. Negotiations are continuing with the Environment Agency over the exact design of the bywash channel, and we are also researching availability of funds to assist with our longer–term aim of establishing a trip boat between Needham and Baylham. Work parties will be meeting every Wednesday and first Saturday of the month through Building the first timber side frame for the bridge the winter period.

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...while in Staffordshire the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust are working on securing a route under the Lichfield to Birmingham railway Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

Progress Lichfield & Hatherton railway proposals continues, with the main problem being that the final design parameters are not established. At Ogley there has still been no government decision announced on the planning application for a travellers’ site on the line of the canal. We have obtained a short-term lease of a retail unit in the arcade in Lichfield City Arcade. This is in a prominent location and is used solely for publicity. It enjoyed encouraging footfall over the run-up to Christmas with several new members signed up. This should help to offset the general decline in show and exhibition opportunities and can be aimed at our most relevant market. We will give thought to a similar operation in the Cannock area to focus on the Hatherton Canal. Brian Kingshott

A3 8

The onset of winter has not reduced the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s activity; quite the opposite. Our team at Tamworth Road near Lichfield has made great progress on Pound 27 and serious thought is being given to the proposed ‘water hub’ on the offside which could provide facilities for canoeing. This would be operated by the land owner. Regular updates on this work will now appear on www.l&hcrt.org. Our website has been revamped, modernised and will be kept up to date, thanks to Paul Marshall. Our main energy is now directed to the London Road to Birmingham Road section (a little west of the Tamworth Road site) where we must ensure that the canal can cross under the railway and at the right angle, which will be complicated by the Lichfield Canal requirement to avoid Network Rail Huddlesford electrical infrato Lichfield structure. We have To Fradley also been dealing Coventry with flooding Canal issues beyond the responsibility of Planned diversion via Huddlesford the Trust. two new road bridges Junction Meanwhile and staircase locks Cappers Lane the plans to establish a heritage To Coventry 30 Towpath Trail 29 Lichfield along the whole Liftbridge site 27-8 length of the LiA51 Darnford chfield Canal are Park moving forward with the intention 24 25 26 of showing our To Ogley intent to reopen the whole canal Original route and strengthening obstructed Tamworth Road Locks our appeal to the 24-26: current main general public. worksite is below locks Close monitoring of the HS2

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Progress Wendover Arm Grand Union Wendover Arm

of £439 per metre (exclusive of overheads). The Stage 1 comparable cost was £400/ metre so the increase in cost over Stage 1 is 10%. As our material and plant hire rates have not increased, this is solely due to the bad weather encountered during Stage 2 – the result of plant idle while water is pumped out of the working site and volunteers having to work in mud and water. We are leaving the next re-watering until the re-lining reaches Bridge 4A as it will be easier to construct the next bund in the bridge narrows although care will have to be taken so that a dredger can remove the bund in future whilst working clear of the bridge span. Good News: At the IWA Chiltern Branch Christmas Social I was yet again presented with a cheque towards our restoration, on this occasion for £2,000. The financial support from many IWA Branches has been terrific but Chiltern Branch has outstripped all others and, of course, many of our volunteers are members of the Branch. Whitehouses: WRG BITM came for a weekend in October and continued the good work on the footpath/nature trail from Bridge 4 to Whitehouses. Continuation of this work is planned for the January working party and will be a job for February as well if the weather prevents work continuing on relining Stage 3. KESCRG have planned three weekends with us in 2014 to continue their excellent work at Whitehouses. CRT will be carrying out their work on this site during 2014 and we are hoping for an early site meeting with them and their contractor early in the New Year in order to co-ordinate all the work on site. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director 01442 874536 rwleishman@gmail.com

WAT

This report is based on the 100th issue of our newsletter since the Wendover Arm Trust began publication in June 1997, 16½ years ago when Phase I of the restoration started. Looking at Issue 1, the main activities at the time were fencing off the Phase I site at Little Tring west of the bridge and strimming cleared lengths of the canal bed at Drayton Beauchamp. We were also making arrangements with British Waterways for trial holes on the Phase I site to assist in future design of the restoration. There is also an account of how our then Chairman, Roger Lewis, was passing the site on Friday 5th June 1997 and rang me to say that an excavator was busy at work. It turned out to be illegal bottle hunters who refused to leave until BW and the police were involved. The police stopped the excavation but BW had to produce the Deeds to the land for the police before the diggers, who were claiming it was public land, backfilled their hole and left the site. November Working Party: Now back to the present: after much pumping out of water the bank lining was completed for about 15 metres into Stage 3 (of the Phase 2 length of canal from Tringford to Drayton Beauchamp) There is about 5 metres of Stage 2 bed lining to complete. As the bed is laid in 20 metre lengths we need to complete another few metres of bank lining and then, weather permitting, lay the next 20 metres of bed lining in December so completing Stage 2. It is also pleasing to see that the grass seed on the banks sown in October is already growing well. December Working Party: The good news about the December working party is that Stage 2 is complete. 350 metres of re-lining and a 50 metre mooring wall was finished. The final cost of Stage 2 Stage 3 progress, Bridge 4 in the background is £153,700, working out at a cost

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Wooden Canal Boat Society Work on fitting out Hazel continues steadily. All the internal bulkheads and tanks are now in place, most of the wiring is done, plumbing is being installed, a gas locker made and beds are being built. It’s nowhere near as quick as we’d like, but we have a good team of regular, skilled volunteers working 3 days each week. More needed! Some new engineering volunteers have been busy on the motor boats, which had become embarrassingly unreliable. A major overhaul of Southam’s gearbox has resulted in the novel phenomenon of being able to go backwards as well as forwards! Forget me Not’s gearbox is being overhauled by Tameside College. Soon we may have a second motor boat in operation. This could mean the end of three-boat trains on Sunday recycling trips, though possibly not, as they are quite fun! Tameside College have been very helpful. The Coventry Victor engine that arrived in Hazel in 1988 has travelled the country ever since in the form of several boxes of bits looking for someone to re-assemble them. We took them to Tameside College and they had the engine running in a couple of days. Amazingly, in 25 years of wandering, the only major part missing was the drive shaft that connects engine to gearbox. If anyone has a Coventry Victor horizontally opposed twin diesel for spares please get in touch. The engine will not be going back into Hazel but will be kept as a spare, relatively easy to fit if any of the other engines need major overhauls. The college also now have the water drip Bolinder that is intended to eventually go into Forget me Not. This makes an interesting contrast with the BMWs and Subarus that mostly inhabit the motor mechanics department. Once the mechanical problems with Forget me Not (currently awaiting a part from Sweden) are resolved we will be able to begin training more skippers and crew, particularly in readiness for Hazel to go into service sometime in mid 2014. We also hope to make more appearances at waterway events during 2014. Recycling trips continue on

Progress Wooden Canal Boat Society the first Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of each month. Retired persons, or others suffering weekday boredom, please note there is always a shortage of van drivers to do deliveries and collections of furniture for the charity shop. Many other fascinating roles are available to help save a few of the old wooden working boats and get them doing something useful again. Please get in touch by ringing 07931 952 037, emailing theboatman@mail.com or writing to Wooden Canal Boat Society, 173, Stamford Street Central, Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS.

Above: the Bolinder engine for Forget-me-not Below: Hazel, with fitting-out in progress

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Progress Chesterfield Canal

Finally, on the Chesterfield they’ve spent an entire day from before sunrise till after sunset pouring concrete...

As part of the construction of the new Staveley Town Lock, the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s ‘buy a cubic metre of concrete’ appeal aims to fund the large amount of bulk concrete involved in backfilling the chamber walls. This pictorial report (from a longer report on the CCT website) illustrates the first big pour....

It started before dawn....

One of the gaps to be filled with concrete

The other gap to be filled with concrete

The first concrete is poured

It all has to be vibrated into place

One mixer to supply it, the other to pump it...

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...via a long reach pipe

Dusk - concreting by moonlight (how romantic)

Still pouring concrete in the gathering gloom

Nearly there: concrete almost up to level

Finished at last:team photo of the stalwarts

The finished job the next morning

There will of course be several more big concrete pours to complete the backfilling of the lock sides as the walls go up - and CCT is looking for sponsors. See chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk

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Camp report ...in photographs

WRG Forestry’s October Camp on the Uttoxeter Canal was so successful that we didn’t need a New Year camp there after all. Here’s a picture report of it...

WRG Forestry Camp Uttoxeter Canal

All pictures by Julie Arnold

Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust (CUCT) were delighted to welcome WRG Forestry back to the North Staffordshire for another week-long camp in October 2013 this time at ‘Bridge 70’ (pictured, right), the team having made a tremendous impression in 2012 further ‘up the valley’ (down the line) at Jackson’s Lock and its adjacent railway bridge on the Churnet Valley Railway. Woodland management at the Uttoxeter Canal Bridge 70 site had commenced with WRG Christmas Camp 2012 removing trees immediately impacting on the bridge. Conservation of the bridge and restoration of approx 300m of towpath is a project in the HLF-funded Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership. Throughout 2013 CUCT worked with ecologists and the CVLLP Woodland Officer to map the site tree-by-tree, obtain a Forestry Commission Felling Licence and agree a plan with landowner South Staffs Water… With one end of the site being adjacent to their borehole pumping station, to protect the water supply no bonfires were to be lit and all logs and brash had to be removed from their site. This challenge led to CUCT hiring in a mobile chipper (right) and later a large tipper container with opening rear doors allowing the chippings to be ‘fired’ into it. Add to this the use of eco chainsaw oil and specific site signage seen here. The news of ‘Volunteers undertaking woodland management’ prompted emails to the CVLLP website complimenting WRG on their work. Here (right) ‘Fire Queen’ Sarah celebrates her ‘Tree Cutting’ ticket, (at the second site access where the towpath public footpath joins the bridleway along the former railway line route between Denstone and Alton Towers). Through the auspices of the IWA, grants had been obtained to allow some WRG volunteers to undergo training during the week from trainer Rob Fletcher. Alex and Lucas Bibby and Sarah Ashman passed out on Cross Cutting & Maintenance. Ben Tingay, Martyn Worsley, Paul Shaw, Ian Rutledge, Nigel Lee and Stephen Kennedy were passed out on Pole Saw Handling.

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Left: The initial chipping pile before the arrival of the container on Monday. It was sturdy work to drag all the brash back to the chipper at the pumping station; when collected at the end of camp the container was only half full and estimated at 5 tons, many loads of chippings having been spread on the extremely muddy towpath! The chipper was removed from site each day and safely corralled at the accommodation – thanks to the WRG Forestry team’s array of vehicles.

Above left: Chipping redistribution. Logs also had to be hand barrowed back to the pumping station where they were stacked and collected from site by the water company: four grab lorry loads at 10 tons a time. Fortuitously, later in the week CUCT and the Staffordshire County Council Ranger team identified a bonfire site on the Council’s land at the ‘railway end’, thereby reducing brash travel and very welcome when wind and rain began to lash through the valley. Above right: Bridge 70 itself, of stone block construction, built originally for access to and from the Alton Towers estate, required attention to remove ivy and saplings; Mark (Mk2) Richardson is seen removing these with relish. Right: Bespoke WRG Forestry sign-writing also featured on-site thanks to Andy Birkett. The brew box is seen here at the Oakamoor Cricket Club accommodation, this year with expanded kitchen space were once again cook Mitch worked wonders, feeding the local too. Thanks to everybody for a momentous week, with so much work done that there was not enough left for Christmas! This report is a JA partnership production brought to you by WRG Forestry ‘Dad’ Jim Alderman and ‘Local’ CUCT Chairman Julie Arnold

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North West on the Uttoxeter

In Febuary WRG North West spent a week on the Uttoxeter Canal, finishing off the work started by WRG Forestry in October. Alison Smedley reports...

WRG North West on the Uttoxeter Canal

Rupert Smedley

Alison Smedley

The WRG North West Dig on the Uttoxeter Canal over the weekend of 1st and 2nd February had a good turn out, with 20 people working on site on the Saturday and 15 on the Sunday. Most of these braved the accommodation at Oakamoor Cricket Club, which was horribly cold the first night but had warmed up considerably for Saturday night. Some more sensible people had brought their own accommodation in the form of camper vans and were probably warmer. As well as the WRG NW regulars, there was one relative newcomer, one returning WRG NW get to work clearing and burning brash former regional WRG group organiser who hadn’t been on a dig for many years, and some locals who could have stayed in the comfort of their own home but decided to make a weekend of it and enjoy the company at the accommodation. The work on site at Bridge 70 was essentially finishing off what was left from the October WRG Forestry Camp (see previous pages), which wasn’t going to be enough for a full camp, and was comfortably completed during the weekend. The first job for the two chainsaw operators was to deal with a tree that had fallen across the path during the previous week. They then moved on to several other trees that needed to be felled, whilst the resulting brash was burnt at the far end of the site. A tirforing team pulled some fallen trees out of the canal (which had more water in it than on previous occasions due to the recent rains, and really did look like a canal). The strong winds forecast for the weekend didn’t cause a problem, and the moaning and groaning on the Sunday came from aching limbs rather than falling limbs. By the end of the weekend the towpath through the site was ready for path works to be carried out later in the year. The work contributes to the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust’s Bridge 70 Project which is part of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership. Dealing with a tree that had fallen across the path Alison Smedley

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Our own boat club is pondering on where to hold its annual get together. Help them to decide between the Ashby and the Mont...

Boat Club WRG BC News

WRG Boat Club News A Happy New Year to all! Well it’s the first article of this year, so greetings are in order I think. Now is the time when we are all thinking about getting our boats ready and planning our canal journeys and places to visit during the warm weather and ceaseless sunshine ahead (I’m ever the optimist). The main decision we, as a club, have to make is at which gathering and where we will hold our AGM – our annual get-together. There are many good restorations and campaigns for us to join but to have an annual gathering it has to be end of August, beginning of September time. Two gatherings suggest themselves – both linked to restoration and both will appreciate members volunteering to help out. These are the Maesbury Canal Festival on 6th & 7th September on the Montgomery Canal or the Shackerstone Festival on the Ashby Canal which is the same weekend. Please consider this problem and let me know your preferences. We are also keen to know of your travels, your experiences and your views. Please email to me any time, it’s FREE! Sorry this is a brief WRG BC news but I have, as usual, been up to my gunwales in Straw Bear Festival work. Which reminds me when are YOU going to adventure down onto the Middle Level Navigations? xxx Sadie Heritage sadiedean@msn.com 07748186867

AGM: Shakerstone (above) or Maesbury (below)?

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Little Venice Volunteers wanted!

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice is one of the most colourful, enoyable and popular events in the waterways calendar. We need volunteers to help make 2014’s event a success

ing on, plus a field kitchen for cooking and eating. The camp runs from lunchtime on I’m on the hunt for volunteers. As many Wednesday 30th April through to lunchtime of you are aware, the Inland Waterways on Wednesday 7th May. We build our comAssociation runs a three day festival at Little pound on the Wednesday afternoon. Then Venice (near Paddington in London) every there is a two day set up phase on the May Day Bank Holiday. Although this is not Thursday and Friday. The festival runs from an official WRG Camp, historically it has been the Saturday to the Monday, during which we WRGies who make up the majority of the transition from construction mode to manSite Services Team which runs the festival agement & problem solving mode. The infrastructure and manages the site. “crash” (take down) process starts on the The 2013 festival was a great success Monday evening and continues all day Tuesand now is the time to start planning in day into Wednesday. The aim is to leave site earnest for 2014! by lunchtime on the Wednesday. This festival is similar to the (former) It’s pretty tough and tiring but great fun National Festival, consisting of waterspace and hugely rewarding – exactly what WRG is organising with about 200 boats, lots of about. trade stands and entertainments, a catering So, firstly I’m trying to track down the area and a boat handling competition (which experienced volunteers who have helped out we enter) in previous years who want to come again; But it also differs in many ways. It’s and secondly, to encourage some new faces smaller in footprint, so there’s less walking, to join our team so that some new experibut it’s more logistically challenging due to ence can be “grown” for the future. its location in central London and the fact I lead the team and am ably assisted by that it straddles two canals. There is no Nigel Lee and Peter Fleming. George Rogers perimeter fence - only a small security fence is cooking. to manage! The accommodation is limited We recognise that you may not be able and restricted to two narrow boats for sleep- to attend for the whole camp because it does run midweek to midweek, but we do need people to attend on the weekdays because that’s when we most need them, so they will be given priority if spaces become scarce. We do plan the work so that everyone gets a chance to relax a little and enjoy some of the festival; and there is usually the opportunity to steer a narrow boat if you’ve never done it before. Please note that this work camp is NOT centrally booked and so if you are interested in attending or if you just want to know more about it then please do contact me as soon as possible using these contact details. Gary Summers g.summers@summerborn.com 07973 654 977. Martin Ludgate

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice: May Day Bank Holiday

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Congratulations to Emma and Mark Scoble on the arrival of Charlie James on 13 December weighing 8b 8.5oz also to Alice and Antony Carver on the arrival of Annabel Elsie on 22 January weighing 6b 6oz and to Jenni and Eddie Jones on the arrival of Martha Elizabeth on 29 January weighing 5b 7oz and finally to Martyn Worsley and Michelle Litchfield on their engagement

Dates for your diaries Biggish dig on the Cotswold Canals: 23-25 August (Bank Holiday). Manchester cleanup: 4-5 October. More details in future issues

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 Derrick Hunt, contact for both the Dorset & Somerset Canal Society and the Somersetshire Coal Canal Society has a new email: derrickjohnhunt@gmail.com and the D&S Canal Society has a new website: www.dorandsomcanal.org Derrick Hunt is also the contact for the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s working parties. His address is 43 Greenland Mills, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 1BL, Tel: 01225 863066k email as above, and website www1.katrust.org.uk Lancaster Canal Trust has a new contact: Keith Tassart, 24 Kings Crescent, Morecambe LA3 1HX. 01524 424761 Full directory in the next issue

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.

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

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Infill Have airbed, will travel...

Where exactly is Diglis Basin? What’s the worst thing that can happen to your inflatable bed? And which would you rather have, a bog or a JCB?

’Twixt Diglis and Dogger... This interesting map appeared a little while ago on the Canal & River Trust website. It shows 100 different attractions to visit all over the waterways network. CRT describes them as ‘hidden gems’ and they include not just well-known places such as Bingley Five Rise, but some that are rather further off the beaten track, such as Consall Forge, Kintbury and... what’s that one in the North Sea, somewhere between Goodwin Sands and Dogger Bank? Let’s take a little bit closer look at it, shall we... Ah yes, of course, we should have guessed: it’s Diglis Basin. “Diglis Basin is where the Worcester & Birmingham Canal meets the awesome River Severn.” I’ll say it’s awesome, it’s about 120 miles wide! (Not that Navvies ever makes mistakes of course!)

Sleep comfortably... The inflatable airbed is a popular choice among WRGies for bedding-down in a village hall. They’re comfortable, portable, and... you would have thought, safe. But apparently not always: A German chap who was in the throes of a house move found that his super-duper temporary bed with built-in electric pump had sprung a leak. He fixed it with typical Teutonic efficiency using an industrial-strength puncture spray and tyre sealant. Unfortunately the heat from the pump caused a chemical reaction, his bed exploded, blew him across the room, blew out all the doors and windows, and left him with a six-figure repair bill. Pleasant dreams!

Overheard on the New Year Camp... Co-leader 1: “So RAF, you decided to pick up a Portaloo, rather than something useful like a digger, you arse...” Co-leader 2: “Ah yes big hairy fellow leader, but you can’t shit on a digger“

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Infill ...and Dear Deirdre Dear Deirdre I really like this girl that digs in my local group but I’m worried she’s a bit too posh for me. Do you think I should try my luck anyway? - Neil, Staffs

Deirdre writes I’m intrigued by what you mean by ‘posh’. If it’s posh by normal standards, I expect she wears her collar flicked up to drive a porsche through Fulham. However, if you’re talking about posh by WRG standards then that’s very different. Posh by WRG standards probably means she insists on flicking some of the mud off the van seat before she sits down. Whilst a normal ‘posh’ person might insist on shopping at Waitrose, someone who is considered posh by WRG standards is the person who won’t buy the cheapest mince in Tescos but insists on the second cheapest instead. Or someone who insists on stirring her coffee with a real proper spoon from the brew kit rather than just a muddy twig, or her finger. I think either way Neil, you can probably assume her standards are pretty low if she’s hanging around with a load of muddy WRGies on a dig. You might as well ask her out. Dear Deirdre... Last year I found a passion Which takes up lots of time And takes me away from canals And from mortar, bricks, and lime

So I plead please give me advice And release me from words and pomp And tell me how to make the step To return to perform the ‘WRGie stomp’ - Will of Wordsworth

Deirdre writes... I joined a group of writers Who write poetry and rap But WRGie friends say what I should do I think, dear Will, you must find your own path Between the drudgery and delight Is get back to the mortar and the crap I’m shocked enough to find a WRGie That even knows how to write They talk of childhood and hope And convey it to us in rhyme Do you have a question for Deirdre? But how can I write of a camp You can email it to deirdre@wrg.org.uk Where the pleasure is of slime? They don’t do things by halves... ...on the Chesterfield Canal, it would appear. In Chesterfield, the site has been excavated for a new town basin which will eventually form the terminus for the restored canal and the centrepiece for an urban regeneration scheme. All very well, until the company given the contract to build the entrance lock into the basin from the final length of canal (actually a canalisation of the River Rother, as it happens), came up with an interesting request. Apparently the conversation with the Canal Partnership went something like: “You know that new canal lock that you’re paying us to build?” “Yes...” “The one that’s supposed to be 70ft long?” “Yes...” “Well, would it be OK if we built two 35ft locks instead?” Sadly we have no record of what the Canal Partnership’s reply to this was...

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Navvies 263  

Navvies 263. Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.

Navvies 263  

Navvies 263. Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.