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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Camps: Stover Grantham Lancaster Mon & Brec Chelmer & Blackwater Shrewsbury & Newport

waterway recovery group

Issue No 274 December-January 2015-16

Mon Mon & & Brec Brec

Intro Canal camp photos Grantham

Shrewsbury Shrewsbury & & Newport Newport Stover Stover

Chelmer Chelmer & & Blackwater Blackwater Lancaster Lancaster

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Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk or find Waterway Recovery Group on Facebook for all the latest news of WRG's activities Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine. Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA), a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89. Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Dave Hearnden, Jude Palmer, Mike Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts. ISSN: 0953-6655

© 2015 WRG

Contents In this issue... Chairman MKP looks ahead 4-5 Appeal update just £35,000 to go! 6-7 Coming soon BCN Clean Up and Easter 8 WRG BC What is the WRG Boat Club? 9 Camp reports Mon & Brec, Shrewsbury & Newport, Stover, Grantham 10-26 IWA and why it matters to us 27 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies 28-33 Letters Should we work on open canals?34-35 Feedback Canal camp cooking tips 36 Progress our regular roundup 37-42 Plant Flail mowers, the new WRG excavator and some old kit free to a good home 43-46 Work stages organising a restoration 53 Camp reports Chelmer and Lancaster 48-52 Safety is that trailer hitched on right? 53 Navvies News save your stamps! 54 Outro Inglesham pictures 55

Contributions... ...are welcome, whether by post or 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 275: 1 January.

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 "Inland Waterways Association" please. This is a minimum subscription, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.

Cover Picture: Tree and scrub clearance on the Uttoxeter Canal during the Bonfire Bash: report next time (photo: Martin Ludgate). Back cover: Work on the Cotswold Canals Phase 1a length continues with Bowbridge Lock (above, picture by Tim Lewis) nearing completion and work well under way at Wallbridge Lock (below, Martin Ludgate)

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Chairman MKP looks forward...

“The job of the volunteering rep is not to keep volunteering at the top of CRT’s agenda but to make sure it is fully interwoven with all the rest of their agenda”

Chairman’s Comment The good news is that in the last edition Martin composted all my ramblings for the last decade or two into a couple of pages. This means that there is no opportunity for this particular Chairman’s comment to be the traditional “Christmas reminiscence of glories past”. So let’s look forward into next year. With the exception of the Neil Edwards Crystal Ball™, the most accurate way of predicting what will be happening in 2016 is the official WRG Canal Camps brochure, which is handily enclosed with this edition of Navvies. Obviously you are all intelligent people who can read it for yourselves* so I won’t go through all of it, but I think we are pretty pleased with the level and accuracy of the detail included. I realise that those words may well come back to haunt me but just because something is risky doesn’t mean you should avoid it. For the past few years the WRG Board have been pushing to get more and more confidence in projects before they start, rather than after the first few days (or months or years!). This has been very much a joint effort between the Board, staff at Head Office, the local hosts and our leaders. It really has been paying off dividends and, although it is very much a joint effort, I’d like to focus on the part played by Head Office. For many years ‘the staff at Head Office’ just meant Jenny, then it meant Jenny and Amber and now it means Jenny, Emma and Alex. Yes, we now have three people at Head Office who might answer the phone when you ask for WRG. What does this mean and why have we done it? Because our activities are often very insular (by which I mean ‘give us a shovel and some mud and we are happy’), it’s often quite easy to miss out on the bigger picture. In the last few years WRG Canal Camps have jumped from 20-odd to 30-odd weeks per year, there are Regional Groups going from strength to strength, the IWA volunteer groups continue to grow, host societies are taking on bigger and more adventurous projects AND we seem to be getting some good two-way traffic between us and Canal & River Trust (who have a lot of volunteers). It is a very exciting time to be involved in volunteering, not just because there is so much going on, but because (often) it actually seems to be joined up – little experiences and changes in one area get fed all around and influence not just a few but many. So, what we refer to as ‘The Amber Experiment’ really did prove just how important it is to make sure we have enough resources at Head Office. This is partly to properly support everybody involved with WRG activities (more on that in the next issue), but also to spend time building up proper relationships with the other players in the game. Jenny understands these bigger issues and does a fantastic job of working steadfastly at improving them. Her efforts over the last few years are really paying off and it’s only right to add resources to this part of the operation. So I would like to formally welcome Emma and Alex to WRG, although after a great Bonfire Bash, they already feel very much part of the team. If there are no other pictures in this edition then their picture is on page 15 of the Camps Brochure. As to what they are actually going to do then we have yet to divide up the to-do list out. But the to-do list includes: toolbox talks, more website action, checking with leaders on paperwork, creating and launching ‘comfy camps’, more toolbox talks, meeting up with CRT, setting up training sessions, planning the Leader Training Day, driving a few vans about, organising publicity events, processing lots of bookings, sorting paperwork, rewriting the Practical Restoration Handbook, and so on. The next Navvies should include a plan of how we intend to allocate out and prioritise these jobs. One thing is certain – to be successful it needs to be a two-way process so please help out if they ask you.

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As a slight aside, but relating to the twoway traffic between us and CRT, the day after this edition goes to press CRT will be announcing the results of the vote for the ‘Volunteering representative’ on their Council. I know who I wanted, coz I voted for him, but whoever wins the vote I wish them well. As I said previously, it’s an exciting time for volunteering and, in my view, the job of the volunteering rep is not to keep volunteering at the top of CRT’s agenda but to make sure it is Regional groups going from strength to strength: London WRG on the S&N fully interwoven with all the rest of their agenda. Next, also looking forwards, the other big news on the WRG scene is the WRG Van Appeal. We always knew that if the Van Appeal was going to be spread over a couple of years, then there would be a quiet few months in the middle. Those dark winter months; where we enjoy the last few rumblings of 2015’s efforts. (Namely the rumblings from Bungle’s digestive system following his ‘Veggie for Vans’ month). We use this time to collect our thoughts and start to plan some suitably big and brash events to finish off the Appeal. Lo and behold: the first event is almost here, because the 2016 WRG Barn Dance is just a couple of months away. There is a separate article on this so I won’t go on here except to say that although they are always a splendid affair, this one looks like being a particularly brilliant version with the band all being (at least related to) navvies. I also like the accommodation I’m being offered. The van appeal itself is currently around about £90k – which is very, very good. Indeed we hope to have placed the order for two new vans by the time you read this. But a word of warning – not only is there still £30k to go but we also have to keep the existing vans in good enough nick to give them some resale value AFTER next summer! So please look after all the vans you encounter next year, not just the new ones. Finally back to Canal Camps. One fact you will spot is that is that we have put the price up by a quid a day to £9 a day. This is always a tricky decision: we hate the fact that we might be pricing people out of taking part, but the state of the Camps accounts speaks for itself. In reality it still represents fantastic value. It is also very true that this figure would be much, much higher than this if it was not for the funding we get towards our centralised costs, provided by our parent organisation: IWA. Elsewhere in this edition there is an article about what IWA should mean to us all. Please read it, without IWA support WRG would not be able to do any of the work I’ve talked about above. So there you are, as we look forward to 2016, everything is falling into place. But it won’t mean anything without our most valuable asset: brilliant, inspiring, endlessly passionate and proper bonkers volunteers. So do read the Camps Brochure, book on Camp or two and, perhaps for your New Year’s Resolution decide to go away on a dig to a site you have never been before, or with a group you don’t usually dig with, or maybe just in a month you normally avoid. I’ll see you there. Mike Palmer * Or at least you know an intelligent person who can read it to you!

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Van Appeal Just over £35,000 to go!

The appeal for 120 grand to replace our fleet of vans has raised enough for almost three vans! But we still need almost £35,000 more: here’s how to help... Village Hall. There will be beer. There will be music and there will be cheesy dancing. See the opposite page for details and start practising your dance moves now!

£84,000: Almost enough to buy three vans! With just over £35,000 to go, the van appeal has been making great progress and hopefully we will soon have raised enough to buy three of the four vans!

Appealing Updates Keep up to date with new events and activities that will take place later in the appeal by going to www.wrg.org.uk/ wrgvanappeal or wait for the next update in the next issue of Navvies. This will be my last update as I am unfortunately leaving IWA in the beginning of November. I’d like to thank each and every person that has supported the appeal and I’ll be sorry that I won’t be around to see it reach £120,000. The next update will be written by IWA’s new fundraising officer who will take over the management of the appeal. For the time being If you’d like more information on the appeal or any of the activities listed contact Jenny Black at 01494 783453, email fundraising@waterways.org.uk or visit the website. Toby Gomm

What’s been happening

What’s to come Barn Dance – The barn dance will be happening on Saturday 12th March at Rowington

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Martin Ludgate

Donations – As ever the appeal has been supported by the generous public but most of the donations the last two months were for a more specific reason. I’m sure most of you are aware of the sad passing of Frank Wallder who was a keen WRG volunteer for many years [See obituary, issue 272]. Throughout August and September lots of you have been sending in donations to the appeal in Frank’s memory and a grand total of £1,060 was raised. Thank you to all of you for your support. Droitwich Walk – On Saturday 19 September 36 people took part in WRG’s sponsored walk, which raised an incredible £6,300. Snow White (A.K.A. Mike Palmer) and ‘her’ Severn Wharfs made it round the 22-mile stretch around the Droitwich Ring along with some whoopee cushions and people in ‘van’ hats whilst 15 others walked a 5-mile route. How they explained that one to passers-by I have no idea! Veggie for Vans – George ‘Bungle’ Eycott very bravely volunteered to go veggie in November in return for sponsorship. At the time of writing he has raised £570, which will put him on a veggie diet for two weeks. He needs £430 to go veggie for the whole month. By the time you read this Bungle will have undergone his torturous experience and will no doubt be on a meat only diet for the rest of the year! To sponsor him go to http:// uk.virginmoneygiving.com/bungle.

Grin and bear it: Bungle tucks into his veggie meal

Barn Dance Take your partners... be much appreciated. Accommodation in the hall is available WRGies and IWAers of old may remember after the dancing has finished and cooked the annual Barn Dance – well next year it’s breakfast the next morning can be booked back! Save the date – it’s 12 March 2016, for £2 extra. Campervans and caravans are at Rowington Village Hall, Warwickshire welcome with parking in the village hall car and make sure you bring your dancing feet! park - but please tell us. All profits from the evening will go to the You’ll need something to look forward WRG Van Appeal. to after the festive season has finished – so Tickets are £15 per person and booking book today and secure your place! in advance is essential as there are limited Contact Emma Matthars at Head Office spaces available. Dinner is included in the for more details on 01494 783453 ext 610 ticket price, lovingly prepared by top WRG or email emma.matthars@waterways.org.uk. cook Jude and team and there will be a Please post the booking form and a selection of local beers and other beverages cheque for £15 per person made payable to at the bar (please tell us what you want) “The Inland Waterways Association” to: The Most importantly the live band “Rogues Inland Waterways Association, Island House, Music and Friends”, featuring WRG volunteers Moor Road, Chesham, Bucks, HP5 1WA. including George Rogers, will be keeping you Don’t forget to add £2 per person if you’d on your feet and dancing the night away! like breakfast on Sunday! Along with the dancing we will be You can also book online at: https:// holding a raffle and other competitions on www.waterways.org.uk/wrg/fundraising/ the night so any donations of prizes would wrg_van_appeal/wrg_barn_dance

The Return of the Barn Dance!

waterway recovery group

WRG Van Appeal Barn Dance Please book me a place at the WRG Barn Dance on 12 March 2016


Phone number:

email: Names of any guests you are bringing:

Any dietary requirements? Overnight accommodation wanted in village hall? Parking space wanted for camper / caravan? Preferred alcoholic beverage (for bar stock control) Payment enclosed for

Breakfast wanted?

(£15.00 per person plus £2.00 per person for breakfast)

Please make cheques payable to The Inland Waterways Association and send with this form to: WRG Barn Dance, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

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Coming soon Clean Up, Easter camps...

Last call for Christmas camps. First call for BCN Clean Up. Latest info on leaders for winter and Easter Camps. Training dates for 2016

Last call for New Year Camps, 26 December - 1 January By the time you receive this magazine it will be almost Christmas but you might still be just in time to make a late booking for the WRG New Year Camp on the Cotswold Canals. But please don’t just turn up - contact Head Office first on 01494 783453 or if they’ve already broken up for Christmas, try phoning the leader Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden on 07961 922153. Alternatively WRG BITM are running a New Year camp at Dauntsey: please contact Dave Wedd on 07816-175454

Winter and spring canal camps All being well, you should have received a canal camps booklet with this Navvies including details of all this year’s week-long canal camps - and they’re all on wrg.org.uk too. But just to fill you in on the latest info, the leaders have already been anounced for the first five camps in 2016. First up on 13 to 20 February is the Chelmer & Blackwater camp, led once again by Bob Crow. Then at Easter weve got no fewer than four camps this year: two weeks on the Cotswold Canals (Weymoor Bridge) with Martin Thompson leading the first on 26 March to 2 April and Ian Gaston taking over for 2 to 9 April. Meanwhile Colin Hobbs will be in charge on the Chesterfield on 25 March to 2 April and Gary Summers will lead on the Uttoxeter on 2 to 9 April. These camps should all be booked via wrg.org.uk or the form in the booklet.

BCN Clean Up: 16-17 April Planning for the 2016 event is well underway and after three meetings we have decided on which beer to get and how many barrels. OK that’s the most important thing sorted, so are you coming? This year’s event is extra special with the IWA Festival of Water taking place at Pelsall on the Wyrley and Essington Canal, so our clean up areas will probably be situated around the top of Perry Barr Locks and through the deep cutting which is quite bad for most boats; for aficionados this is on the Tame Valley Canal. We also need to Look at the lower Walsall Canal from Ocker Hill to the top of Ryders Green Locks and possibly the route to Pelsall from Birchalls Junction on th Wyrley & Essington. As with most years we hope to guarantee plenty of muck for little brass, and a good bit of socialising and WRG banter along the way. Our accommodation will be the Malthouse Stables in Tipton, plus floating accommodation for 8 to 10 alongside to reduce the amount in the Stables as we got pretty friendly last year! I will be leading the weekend and the more-than-capable Moose will be my deputy. Maria will be organising the catering as usual and we will need van drivers to make themselves available please. I look forward to seeing old friends and new in April. There will be a booking form in the next Navvies or you can book via wrg.org.uk. Chris Morgan cbmorgan@sky.com 02920 888681 / 07974 111354

And then... Dates for your diaries: leader training 14 May, WRG Training weekend 11-12 June. More next time.

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You might have seen articles in Navvies about WRG Boat Club and be wondering what it is. Sadie explains...

WRG BC Boat Club? What’s that about?

Why you should join... Waterway Recovery Group Boat Club Waterway Recovery Group does what it says on the T-Shirt, we recover waterways. Now that sounds obvious to those reading this, but not to some people who think that we are some kind of AA of the waterways. (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous!) The waterways formed a transport system that covered most of the country, and was created for transporting goods and to serve industry. Unfortunately some of the system was closed, fell into disuse or just disintegrated. We work to rectify this. That is a very simplistic explanation, the main point being that canals were built for boats. If you own a boat and use it on the canals and/or rivers, perhaps you would like to consider joining WRG Boat Club quite possibly the best boat club on the cut!

rently £10. Membership cards are issued annually. The AGM will be held at an IWA Festival, rally or an alternative boat gathering as agreed. We do not hold regular meetings, unless you count once a year as regular. Members come from all areas and tend to spend any free time they have working on some aspect of canal restoration. Members are encouraged to fly the club burgee, which looks like this...

...and aids recognision of fellow members as we travel around, also for this reason a list of What is WRG Boat Club all about? members’ boats is sent out each year. It has been suggested that we add to this a list of The club provides fellowship, support and a individual member’s home mooring so we forum for members who own boats or other- can recognise areas where we may meet. (I wise cruise the waterways. will expand on this when I send out new Membership is open to active volunteers membership cards) with waterway recovery group and those who have previously worked with WRG. To join the boat club WRG BC is affiliated to The Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC) and ...or for more information, contact: accepts and supports the rules and objectives of this association. Secretary WRG BC Informal club gatherings or attendance Sadie Heritage 236 Station Road at boat festivals (especially those associated the reopening of formerly derelict waterWhittlesey ways) are encouraged. PETERBOROUGH PE7 2HA All members are urged to cruise reopened waterways, little used waterways and Tel: 07748 186867 or 01733 204505 those threatened with closure. email: sadiedean@msn.com Reporting back to the membership, via the secretary, is appreciated. Finally, the Club officers wish you all SeaClub news will be published in Navvies. sonal Greetings and Happy Boating in this New members must pay a joining fee coming year! of £10, plus one year’s subscription, curSadie Heritage

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Camp report Mon & Brec Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals Camp 10 For me, the end of the Swansea Canal WRG camp (see Navvies 273) meant the immediate start of the Mon & Brec camp, and a race to finish packing and cleaning up the Ynyscedwyn Scout Hut (thanks to everyone who mucked in, especially Amber), a final trip to Neath Station to say farewell to the rail travellers, and then a dash along the M4 eastwards to Griffithstown, just up the road from Cwmbran, where for the last few years we have made the most of the luxurious accommodation in St Hilda’s church hall. And here, by 18:00 or so, a new collection of wide-eyed volunteers shuffled in, eyeing each other shyly or confidently, some old hands greeting each other again after a year or two, the rest wondering what they had let themselves in for... The first day began, continued and ended with rain. Drizzle, downpour and middling sorts of rain. Welsh rain. Rain intended for mountains and hills and bedrag-

What’s the story about the

Our selection of canal camp reports from the summer and autumn camps begins with a week at Ty-Coch Locks on the Monmouthshire & Brecon... gled sheep, not for July canal camps and certainly not for the very first day, which we began clean and cheerful and keen and gradually become more and more bedraggled, muddied, scratched, insect-bitten, sodden, chilled, miserable and wondering why we were here! Actually that’s not true... despite the rain, we didn’t become miserable. We stayed cheerful, and smiles shone through the murk (I have photographic proof). Large piles of damp vegetation began to accumulate as we hacked and sloshed our way through the jungle that had sprung up beside Brake Lock since last year, and by the end of the day we had cleared all but the most inaccessible growth, and had gelled into a great team. And Monday morning dawned fine, and the week settled into a two-pronged routine, as we split between the main site and one or more satellites, with a few extras squeezed in. Downstream, at Tredegar Lock, stonemason Tony supervised volunteers in cleaning, repointing and wall-building. The results were fantastic, with some textbook pointing

Mon & Brec?

The Canal Camp project: various rebuilding and clearance jobs at Brake, Lower Brake, Shop and Tredegar Locks on the Ty-Coch flight. Why? The camps were supporting a major full-time project to restore the entire eight-lock flight.This forms the next stage of extending navigation northwards from Malpas, where four Crumlin Arm above Cwmcarn locks have already been reopened, buried under new road towards Cwmbran, beyond which is Cwmcarn the 35-mile navigable length to Brecon.

Navigable to Brecon 35 miles 5

Five Locks 3 3 Cwmbran 4 Road built on canal line Canal Camp site: Ty-Coch

r Usk Rive

The wider picture: There are proposals to New link reopen south from the navigable limit at Five Locks Cr proposed u ml into Cwmbran town centre. Opening that length as in Ar well as Ty-Coch locks would reduce the unnavigable Malpas m Fourteen length to a mile (including a section obliterated by a 1980s Locks road) and bring pressure to bear on the authorities to reinstate it. Newport At the same time, restoration of the Crumlin Arm to Cwmcarn Original route through will extend the navigable length to 50 miles, and a planned To the Bristol Newport obliterated new link will connect via the Usk to the Bristol Channel. Channel

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Pictures by Ralph Mills

and the construction, under his tutelage, of great quadrant walling. The work also involved some heavying, with a layer of soil and rubble needing to be moved to create a meaningful level surface on the towpath side, and then we began to excavate a trench for the offside quadrant walling. It was good to see tangible, solid results from some hard work. Back at the main site, which now boasts a capacious workshop for constructing lock gates, having helped, with much swinging of mattocks and wielding of saws, and a little help from Jason and the site miniexcavator, to extract a big tree-stump from the bywash weir of Lower Brake Lock (familiar to those who worked on my last two camps), we moved on to sort the pound between Shop Lock and Lower Brake Lock, heaving around stones of all sizes, from handfuls to huge, into barrows. The team split up each day, with some working on Tredegar Lock, where Tony supervised raking out and repointing of joints. Others sloshed about at the bottom of Shop Lock, removing rubble and silt until it was almost clean enough to eat off. Finally, we pointed the superb pound-retaining wall that Fred, a retired stonemason, had built curving around from Shop Lock, before completing a circle by returning to Brake Lock to construct yet another stone pile and pounce on any remaining greenery. As the gang cheerfully laid waste to acres of unsuspecting vegetation, cleaned out kilometres of joints, hauled tons of stone from the pound, repointed miles of lock chamber wall, slurped tonnes of sludge from the lock base (you’ll notice my dexterity in both Imperial and metric measurements), extracted huge tree stumps with the dexterity of a dentist and erected barbed-wire fencing that a prairie rancher would be proud of, by Wednesday Richard Dommett was looking concerned: would there be any work left for the second canal camp to do? I’m exaggerating a little of course, but in truth, without exception, everyone performed mightily, and it would be impossible and unfair to spotlight any individuals. Our seven Duke of Edinburgh’s Award volunteers

Clearing the lock bywash weir

set great examples to us old hands, wielding mattocks with aplomb, learning the difference between a spade and a shovel, and always appearing, usually muddily, in the thick of things, however tough. Danni and Jaz became expert pointers with lime mortar, though Danni first proved herself by joining the attack on the tree stump, even though the pickaxe was almost as big as her, and was later to be seen heaving Danni-sized chunks of sandstone into the tracked wheelbarrow. Ellie wasn’t to be outdone. She joined me, without flinching, in constructing my trademark stone heaps (I have a hatred of untidy piles of stones and bricks... it must be the archaeologist in me), took her turn in hacking at the infamous tree stump before digging a foundation trench on the hottest day. Todd was almost unstoppable, a whirlwind of energy whatever the job, but Jon and Jim and Ben slaved away cheerfully at whatever energy-sapping tasks I threw them into. All of the DofE volunteers were fantastic, and I’m hoping that they all return to help on future camps. The old hands, a mix of experienced people who were new to the Mon & Brec and those who have worked with me before, again proved themselves stalwarts, enabling me to spread responsibility a little further, with Bob being his usual superman self and Ben again proving to be a star. The work benefitted from the combined extensive experience of Joe, Colin, Laura, Tasterella and Andy, all of whom have seen it all before, but who shared their knowledge and energy without hesitation. Then there was Alexandre, who hadn’t been dissuaded by

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the horror stories told him by his brother Bruno, who had volunteered with me in 2013. Like Ben, Alexandre was staying for two weeks, and his steady, quiet input was invaluable. And last but definitely not least, there was Bev, who arrived wide-eyed, not knowing what to expect, and who left a convert to the WRG faith, so keen to return that she immediately took several days off work to come back the following week! My thanks to you all, it was a privilege working with you. Of course, once again Ayushi was again my super Assistant, especially considering the spread of the work areas, which meant that I was relying on her leadership skills perhaps more than would happen on a single, focused site. There wasn’t a moment when her good humour, energy and commitment wavered. And most importantly, Tanvi’s superb cooking, created and served up in her unique bouncy style, sustained us all as we collectively sweated away many thousands of calories. My thanks are also due to Richard Dommett and Heidi Carey, Tony and Jason and the full-time team, who put up with us swarming all over their site and with my interminable questions. Repointing lock chamber walls After our initial dampening the weather was kind to us, and we survived the week physically unscathed, with only a few scratches to mark our tangling with brambles, barbed wire and boulders. The Open Hearth pub saw a significant increase in beer sales, Ellie proved to be a tenpin bowling star, and several large jigsaws were completed, thanks to Tasterella. I had a fantastic week, am proud of what we achieved as a team and as individuals, and I look forward to working with everyone again soon. Ralph Mills

“Stumped? No, not us!”

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A week spent working on two sites near Newport (Shropshire) building and installing a footbridge, and laying a bentonite waterproof liner

Camp Report Shrewsbury & Newport

Shrewsbury & Newport Camp 22 his status of leader meant that he moved into A Bridge Too Far for Ditch Diggers the storage cupboard. Well one snorer less in (Or We Came, We Ate Cake & Drank Tea... You Stupid Boy) The annual ‘Nigel WRG camp’ took place on the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals after its one year break. With a change of assistant leader from the previous camps, he now had Colin Whitcombe to do all the work while he sat around in a machine. The leadership team and catering team arrived a day early for the camp to ensure that the logistics of van and kit movement could be achieved prior to the arrival of the 90% regulars. The steady arrival of the regular camp personnel meant that only the St Helens trio (Joanne, Carol & Janet) were newcomers. They were instructed on what was expected and promptly collared the corner section closest to the stage which Pete had set up for occupation after moving of several pieces of entertainment equipment like piano and pool table for him and Tracy. Nigel decided that

What’s the story about the

the main room. A visit to the sites along with the Trust Chairman Bernie Jones showed us the week’s work, divided between two sites. Work in the Meretown site was to construct a wooden bridge from pre-formed parts and place it over the cleared-out Meretown Lock. In the future it will replace the current bund which holds the watered part of the current canal from the stretch of canal towards the A41. Also other tasks were scrub clearing beside the canal towpaths, moving the blocks of masonry around the site and re-constructing the wing walls on the A41 side of the lock. Work at the Forton site was to re-profile the dry section of the canal and lay the bentonite waterproof membrane which would involve removal of stumps and movement of earth around the site to meet the specifications. The Health & Safety video and welcome speeches were followed by a special award to Paul I of a Tesco Frozen Survival pack follow-

Shrewsbury & Newport?

The Canal Camp project: installing a waterproof lining at Forton and building a footbridge plus various other works at Meretown Lock.

Shropshire Union Canal to Chester

Canal Camp site: Meretown Lock

Norbury A4

Junction Why? At Forton an interesting length including an aqueduct and a skew bridge is planned to be rewatered as a demonstration section to show what a restored canal could look like. And Wappenshall m To Ar t at Meretown the lock is being restored to extend the r Junction po Newport Autherley w watered section of canal through Newport. Ne Ca na l


Sh re w sb ur y

Longdon The wider picture: In the medium term the on Tern Shrewsbury & Newport Canals A5 Aqueduct Trust will concentrate Shrewsbury on working towards Telford getting the Norbury Junction to Berwick Tunnel Newport section of the Shropshire Union Newport Arm open and linked to the national network. Both current projects are part of that plan. In the long term, the aim is to reopen the entire route via Wappenshall (junction of the two canals, with Thomas Telford warehouse planned for restoration) to Shrewsbury.

Canal Camp site: Forton

Former Shropshire tub-boat canal network (large parts buried under Telford New Town). No Restoration plans

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Martin Ludgate

had organised for all the machinery including a telehandler which was used at Meretown but had to be stored at Forton site each night. This meant on the first day Pete had to drive it from one site to another via the local roads. One of the locals drove his truck with the ballast & wood for the bridge construction in front of Pete until he was on site. The Meretown crew led by Colin’s first task was to fence off the lock and set up where the Burco was to go and where we were going to do any mixing. When Pete arrived at the site, the wood was unloaded from the truck and the ballast sacks were to be transported to the lock. This is when we discovered that the ground underfoot in the canal bed was not totally dry and the weight of the tele-handler and one ballast sack was giving Pete movement issues. The combinaNadine demonstrates her distinctive technique for joining the liner tion eventually gave up at the mouth of the lock by ing his exploits at his local store. The St which time Pete had perfected the technique Helens trio then produced their bottle of port of digging four holes simultaneously. and questioned if having more than one Meanwhile Nadine, Sue and Lynda had bottle was acceptable: the response was started on the clearance of the trees beside unanimous from all saying that the you did the canal towpath and started a fire. With the not have to drink but it was not forbidden wood for the bridge stored in the bottom of only no drink before beer o’clock. After the the lock and following a discussion with John evening meal provide by the catering team of the local, Mick Lilliman, Paul I, Sue and Anne Lilliman and Nadine Whitcombe, every- Nadine measured up the area where the one went down to the local pub by Norbury bridge footing was going. Lynda’s fire was junction. By around 10:30 the campers were fuelled by the arrival a batch of local volunthe only occupants of the pub and Paul Shaw teers who continued scrub clearance. commented that the locals were lightweights. The arrival of the first cake of the day Sue’s retort: “I’m a local”. Red faced Paul from the local society prompted the call for supped his pint. The other best quote of the tea break. day was from Joanne with “Poke Me all you Work continued after tea digging out like – I’ll not wake up.” A challenge the regu- where the footings were going, then the mini lars decided to ignore despite several options mixing team of Paul and Sue made the conof equipment available. crete and Mick floated the mixture for a flat Sunday: Paul I was on breakfast duties level. The Hawk & Dave were cleaning up the and then extracted from his van the extra block work so that they could decide what mugs required for the week. The larger than needed removal and what could be just usual camp size meant a sharing out berepositioned. tween the two sites. All the machine operaMeanwhile at Forton the boys with their tors went to Forton as the local canal society toys along with the St Helens trio set about

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IWA Shrewsbury

stump clearing and hedge clearing with bonfires. However, while most on site were working hard, our leader Nigel was being a media star with interviews and photo shoots with local dignitaries. Technology alert for both sites: certain mobile networks appear not to work on the different sites. This meant that Nigel was texted to ensure he was eating his salad as instructed from his former assistant back in Hampshire while Colin was “Who goes there - friend or foe?” Colin stands guard on the completed bridge employing two PA’s to answer his messages as the camp phone we discovered that there were more bits of only worked in one location on site. (We wood than required for the bridge... suspect that Nigel turned his phone off as the The wood had been kept stored in the salad was returned uneaten). canal society stores and had partly warped, Major early event was the arrival of which meant that some of the bolt holes did Tracy at the accommodation. not totally line up and this resulted in Mick The evening brought the first social having to re-thread some of the bolts when event of the week with the quiz night organ- the nuts on them jammed. ised by the local society and teams being The finished bridge was located just made up of a mixture of WRG and locals. along the lock from the bases ready for The winning team appeared to be more local moving. The Hawk and Dave continued to as it contained WRG Sue. The assistant demolish more wall than construct and Sue, leader would like it stated that his team were Lynda and Nadine along with the local volunwarming up for the rest of the week. teers continued the ivy clearance which she Monday: Kitchen Quotes – “Do You was not happy about as it gave her an uninWant Stuffing?” “Are You Crumbling?” “Want terrupted view of the canal. Once more the a Banger?” “Nice Cucumber Peeling!” locals were very friendly and some dogs The task for the day at Forton was to visited the site via a hole in the fence. Any of start getting the levels for the top and botthe small ones were paw printed to find the tom of the profiles which meant that Paul culprit for the marks in the concrete base. Shaw took over the tele-handler duties at Anne delivered lunch and this started a Meretown while Pete set up levels. The contrend that was repeated on several days that tinued clearance of stumps did have an within a couple of hours the rain would start. amusing incident when Dave M decided to With an early return to the accommodation, become a tree hugger while still in the exca- books or mobiles were extracted from bags vator cab. The availability of training meant and this is when we discovered that Janet that Joanne had the opportunity to have a had 33 messages on her mobile of which lesson in the excavators and dumper. 50% were from the Hunter Welly Company. Back at Meretown, the concrete had not Music was heard from the kitchen and yet completely cured so Mick and Paul I on inspection the cooks were found to be along with Local John started constructing dancing around the kitchen. Tales of the the bridge. First adventure was to identify morning cooks also having this affliction which parts fitted to which as marks on the means a question must be asked to the wood did not always assist. This was when board about Health & Safety in the kitchen

page 15

ivy and overgrowth along both sides of the lock and these snippets were overheard. Carol “He is cleaning his bits”. Dave “No – he is just sharpening his tools” Carol “You know what I mean!!” With their experience of National Trust, the St Helen’s trio were familiar with hand tools but Carol requested that we should have Ladies bits in the kit. However, when given some smaller tools she was reluctant to admit that bigger was best. (But she has requested a Silkie saw for Xmas.) With the theme of bridges, the only two tunes the group could think of were Bridge over Troubled Water and Bridge over the River Kwai. Colin thought it would be amusing for the team to leave the site with tools over our shoulders whistling the tune. After the evening meal, Colin, Nigel and Paul S had a scrabble competition and to the casual observer some of the words accepted were of definite Anglo Saxon origin. Sue decided to go home for the evening but did announce before she left that she could fit four in her bed... The St Helens trio produced a bottle of Sparkling Melon Wine which was not consumed as it was agreed by everyone to be repulsive. Everyone in the hall enjoyed the mystery play from the stage with the shrieks and squeals emitting from behind the curtain. Wednesday: Kitchen Note – Nadine requested everything from Colin but all she got was Coffee. Meanwhile Pete was made a cup of tea by Nadine but unknown to all a fruit tea bag had been placed in the cup so when served, Pete’s comments are unprintable. Navigation Alert – The Meretown group found an alternative way to site which was a little quicker which meant more time on site. Meretown had a visit from our Leader Nigel while Colin went to Forton for instruction by Alan. This was to ensure that the cakes were being evenly distrib“Smile please” “We are doing!” - the mixer crew pose for a photo uted. While Forton Tracy Howarth

when dancing. This distraction and others meant that Mick took several minutes to read a single page. The Port bottle quantities from both Alan & the St Helens trio continued to match and other fluids were consumed with gusto by the whole camp. Tracy was given a birthday cake but took three attempts to blow out the candles. Tuesday: Driving note – Paul I was becoming a certified white van driver when he encouraged the pedestrians in Newport not to walk in front of him when he was turning the corner. Hire Van note – Short drivers and van layout means knee cuddling of the steering column and passenger’s right leg. The passenger leg cuddling also takes place for taller drivers. 2nd Hire van Note – Seat belt attachments in the back require careful seating. Forton site started profiling the site and building up the banks which meant that Janet had the opportunity to be trained on the excavator and dumper along with several local volunteers. While back at Meretown, the bridge concrete bases had cured and the job of moving the bridge into place took place. Following discussion on the best way to move it, a plan was hatched: this resulted in what appeared to the local passers-by as Paul I, Nadine, Sue and Carol with a bridge support each, moving the bridge into place. However, the reality was that Colin, Paul S, Dave and Mick were below in the lock lifting the base and being guided by the four above. The team then went about clearing the

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continued the profiling and started to lay the opener) as it was showing its pouch. And first carpets of bentonite by the late afterJoanne saying she did not want any more as noon and at Meretown, the crew were now she was pissed. rebuilding the wing walls and moving the Friday: The continued focus on laying stones scattered around the site. The locals of the Bentonite meant once again a majority and WRG ivy clearers were now getting to of the camp went to Forton and continued the stage where they had done most of the the digging out of the upper trenches to site and fuelled the final bonfire of the week. receive the edge of the carpet and then fill it Anne turned up in her shorts delivering back when that section was in place. Meanlunch and once again within several hours while back at Meretown Paul S was moving the rain started. the blocks under the instruction of Tracy and In the evening, we joined the locals in laying them out along the offside of the canal doing tenpin bowling in Telford. With Paul I while the Hawk and Dave continued their driving the hire van in the lead and the Hawk building of the wing walls and Paul I and Colin driving the WRG van, the team deployed Sue re-enacted their Fred & Barney impressions by Nav to direct us to the location. Everyone in sorting out the blocks that were beyond the the hire van thought that Sue had the perfect reach of the Tele-handler. This revealed that pitch for the directions when saying Take the the bywash was an irregular shape and ap2nd exit from the roundabout. peared to outfall into the neighbouring field. The results of the night were: Lane 2 While moving all the blocks we found Tracy’s broke twice and when the six users moved to bikini attachments which was modelled with lane 7 they broke that lane once. Paul Shaw’s the assistance of the Hawk’s brick line to hold team of bowlers won the overall completion them together. (No photos are available!). while Colin won the best bowler prize which The arrival on site of the last of the was a large pin. society’s cakes which was a very enjoyable Sue Nav rebelled on the Victoria sponge which was preShort Verse way home when it announced cut into 12 pieces was conthat the direction was “Find sumed at lunch but with seven Let them eat Cake your own way home!” on site a decision was made Let them drink Tea Thursday: Most of the that age would decide who had A call to the society group went to Forton to help a second piece. Gallantry from From the local Bernie with the bentonite laying which Paul S and Tracy (on a diet) resulted in that all three Dave’s meant the rest of us scoffed it The group have arrived were on one site and that quickly before reconsiderations To construct and build Nadine created a unique way of took place. A bridge and a canal sealing the two sides of the The requirement for the From overgrown field carpet by sliding down the Tele-handler to be back at seam on her backside. MeanForton by early afternoon Joined up for a quiz while a small team at Meretown meant that we all went over to And then some bowling continued the stone moving Forton to help with the clear Blocks cleared from the lock and also started to investigate up and for a couple of us to So the sides ready for sowing behind the lock at the spill see the site for the first time weir and its state of repair. since last Saturday. The canal profile is done The evening was spent A big thanks to the leadAnd the carpet is laid back at the accommodation ership & catering teams and a The sides are opened except for a group who went special thanks to the ShrewsAnd the joints are made out Geo-Caching but only found bury & Newport Canal Trust two locations and failed to find for hosting us, providing By the end of the week a third which prompted the numerous cakes and other The bridge has been built abandonment of the exercise treats throughout the week. And the canal bed looks and the group returned to the We all went home a lot heavier Like it is covered by a quilt pub via the towpath. Upon than when we come. Many of returning to the accommodaus returned in October for the So thanks from both sides tion, it appeared that alcohol London WRG weekend which For a week so fulfilling had been largely consumed as once again more bentonite And hope we would be back Sue announced that she did not was laid and cakes consumed. If the situations are willing. want Roo near her (Alan’s Bottle Paul Ireson

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Camp report Stover Canal

Meanwhile down in south Devon, they’re restoring a lock that’s been turned into a dry dock, on a canal which used to connect to a railway made of stone...

Sunday morning arrived and it was wet, proper wet. We decided we couldn’t all go to Saturday started early, requiring a detour to site, both because it was so wet, and also the Brimscombe Port to pick up the vans and access to the lock wasn’t in place yet. So a one happy volunteer before hitting the long small group of hardy (silly) volunteers set car park at Stroud. The long car park being out in the rain, while the sensible ones the M5 in 30 degree heat. Please note restayed in the dry and made sandwiches. A quest for air con in the new vans... It was wet morning was had, long dumpers runs in soooooooooooo slow. the pouring rain aren’t that much fun (think Both vans and trailer arrived at soggy bottoms), but an access path and way Kingsteignton Scout hut just after 3pm. across the culvert (stream) was created. It Then there followed the normal runwas then all back to the accommodation for ning around to collect volunteers from the lunch, just as the rain started to abate. station, unpacking the vans and realising the Sunday afternoon saw a full team on site scout hut was smaller then I remembered it. and the main project started: clearing out the (I blame the pain killers I was on when I dry dock bed and walls. This was slow laboriviewed the scout hut, that’s my excuse and ous work that was set to take all week. The site I’m sticking to it.) was located next to a popular cycling route, so After a bit of “oh my god how are we for the safety of volunteers and cyclists we going to fit”, we made it fit, and it sort of took to warning each other... “BIKE!”. worked for the week. After another amazing supper, most of Saturday evening found us down on the us set off for Torquay and Laser Quest (many site, taking a tour, followed by the first of thanks to those who stayed behind and Nina’s excellent suppers, and a trip to the finished the washing up!). As the leader of local to say hello to everyone. the camp it was very disheartening to see

Stover Canal Camp 24

What’s the story about the

Stover Canal?

The Canal Camp project: restoring the dry dock that was built into the side of Graving Dock Lock, plus towpath improvements and investigation of a collapsed overflow spillweir Why? The Stover Canal Trust aims to preserve this lock as it is unusual and possibly unique. (The Mon & Brec has something similar). Built as a normal lock, it was modified by adding a ‘shelf ’ on one side of the chamber, big enough to hold a boat, to serve as a dry dock for maintaining boats.

al an rc ve Sto

The wider picture: Although never linked to the national waterways network, the canal formed Ha part of a fascinating local yto transport system rG ran in combination Dartmoor it e with the Haytor Tra mw Granite Tramway. This was an early form of ay Canal Camp site: railway with the ‘rails’ actually built from lines of Ventiford Graving Dock Lock granite stones. Much of it is still in place on Dartmoor, and the Trust has just found another section buried at Teignmouth Ventiford. The aim is to restore the canal and towpath, and preserve the surviving lengths of the tramway, all Teign estuary of which are linked by the Templer Way heritage trail. Newton Abbot

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R. Teign

Gemma Bolton

how many times my assistant shot me. It’s surprising how so many seemingly mild-mannered people turn into fanatical killers when handed a laser gun. Much fun and maniacal laughter was had by all, and the red team won. Monday saw yet more clearing of roots in the dry dock: the clearing seemed to go on and on, and it did indeed go on and on. Disney songs were sung and toad found in a hole. Colin nearly got the digger stuck in the mud whilst I laughed a lot. The gazebo was caught by an big gust of wind and had to be rescued Main job: clearing the dry dock bed and walls (RIP). A small breakaway team started an investigative clearance of a collapsed spill weir. petrol-powered jet wash, Tina, George & A rowdy game of Pictionary followed Chris spent a happy day jet washing the dry dinner. Yes, that picture with Nina is really of dock. The cleaning principle seemed to a cactus. The competitive spirit of some of involved blasting the mud and silt onto one our volunteers was very evident. another and carrying it away Great Escape Tuesday we all made it to site, but it style, though not so much in their trousers, was stupidly wet, so there weren’t many more all over them. As the jet washing made bikes. Despite Tina’s pleas to go bog-snorkel- the dry dock a no-go area for everyone else, ling, a mud-caked team was sent back to the a start on the towpath was made. After much accommodation and told to go off exploring. raking, whacking and many wheelbarrows, A magical mystery tour followed showers, the team had made amazing progress for ending up at Trago Mills fun park, where the just one day. A start was also made to the intrepid explorers got a train across a car park permanent bridge across the culvert... “BIKE!” with hippos. A small dedicated team stayed on Thursday night saw pool and darts site in the rain and rescued the cast iron graciously played in the local pub, and the steam boiler from the bottom of the canal, loss of the original camp report notes this perfectly planned recovery operation was (drowned by a pint of beer and then forgotan interesting and challenging task, and how ten by the assistant). it was achieved will remain a mystery... Friday saw a repeat of Thursday on Tuesday night was film night, with site. I might have somewhat overworked the home-made popcorn. towpath laying team and there seemed to be Wednesday stayed dry (mainly) and a bit of a revolt in the afternoon, but fair play more progress was made on clearing the dry to everyone, they had all worked amazingly dock and excavating the spill weir. DofE-ers hard and done a fantastic job. tried their hand at loading up dumpers with Nina sustained another injury - ‘whisk the digger under Colin’s guidance. The bikes arm’ whilst preparing a delicious pavlova. were also out again... “BIKE!” Friday night found us back in the pub Nina the cook suffered ‘shopping trolley for more pool, and the competitive team thigh strain’ from her trip to Lidl but powspirit from earlier in the week continued. ered through and rustled up a fantastic Saturday morning started very slightly lasange followed by lemon drizzle cake. The later than the rest of the week, but only by rest of the evening involved a trip back to 15 minutes. Kit was found and rechecked, Torquay for tenpin bowling with fake mousgoodbyes said and off we all went. taches. Thursday arrived and so did a Harry Watts

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Camp report Grantham Canal

Woolsthorpe Locks on the Grantham Canal look like being one of our main sites for the next few years. Richard Tyler reports from the second of three camps there this summer...

Grantham Canal Camp 25 Week 2 of 3 (or Kirsty Wallace tucked between Mike Palmer and Rob Nicholson) (a.k.a. The Hunt for a New Potato Peeler!) Cropwell Bishop. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? I’ll say it again – Cropwell Bishop. Cropwell Bishop! It goes nicely with some of my previous camps – Selsley, Sedgwick, Killamarsh (not quite the same ‘ring’ there methinks), Oakamoor, Burlescombe (not to be confused with Brimscombe), and Brimscombe (not to be confused with Burlescombe). Nor should Cropwell Bishop be confused with Cropwell Butler about a mile away and which doesn’t have a canal, but the point is I love these village names which accommodate WRGies and which I would never have encountered had I not become one some years ago. Hanbury, Stourbridge and Dudley are closer to home for me! It’s awlroight there, yow know, Dudley – it’s got a castle. And I’ll tell ya summut ’bout

What’s the story about the

Dudley Castle – they’ve nearly finished it!! This was my first camp as assistant leader - (Kirsty being good at twisting my arm) – so, naturally, I arrived loaded with some apprehension to go with the homemade rock cakes and chocolate brownie I am always expected to take to camp. My arrival was on the last full day of the first of the three consecutive camps at Lock 15 at Woolsthorpe, but the apprehension was eased a little when I found the ‘hidden’ key to the Marie Celeste-like village hall before getting the message advising where I would find it - some initiative used, you see! Even then I was one day behind Kirsty’s arrival, our purpose being to ‘get the lie of the land’ from Week 1 leaders and ease to the hand-over process. After setting up my bed space and leaving my trusty dog Forknose in charge (who quickly got into guard-dog mode sorry - by confronting Jude Palmer when she came back to what she thought was empty accommodation – sorry Jude), I drove to the work site to find considerable changes from

Grantham Canal?

The Canal Camp project: early stages of restoration of Woolsthorpe Lock 15 including building an overflow bywash weir and beginning chamber wall dismantling prior to rebuilding Why? This is part of a major Heritage Lottery Fund backed project by Grantham Canal Society with support from the Canal & River Trust to restore locks 14 and 15 of the seven-lock Woolsthorpe flight. As locks 16-18 are already restored, this will extend the reopened navigable section which already runs from Woolsthorpe for over three miles to the A1 road crossing on the edge of Grantham. The wider picture: The restoration of Locks 14-15 will also form a heritage skills training exercise which the Trust hopes will lay the groundwork and provide a pool of volunteers for the next stage, the restoration of locks 12-13, which could (with relatively little other work) create a 10-mile restored length. Nottingham River Trent to Newark Woolsthorpe Although there are a To Shardlow Proposed Locks 12-18 number of bridges to be rebuilt, diversion Redmile there are no really major blockages Grantham Original route Cropwell for the whole of the Long Pound. obstructed Progress with this section could then The Long Canal Camp provide the incentive to find the cash to deal with the Pound Restored site: Lock 15 diversion needed to connect the canal back to the Trent. length

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Alan Lines

a pre-camp leaders’ visit some weeks earlier, with greenery replaced by compound fencing, a mini-mountain range of excavated earth, dumpers and diggers, temporary roadways and canal crossings, portakabins, generators, and a row of portaloos – all the work of Week 1 and the Grantham Canal Trust volunteers. Hard hats, steel toecaps, gloves, eye, nose, and ear protection definitely needed here. The biggest “It’ll all have to come down” - investigating the back of the chamber wall change, however, was the lock wall! The mini-mountain range had been created had the usual treat of being introduced to by excavating behind the ‘on’ side of the lock brick cleaning, though iPhones and earwall along its whole length and depth to phones come into their own here. Stalwarts establish the work to be done to halt the lean beavered away at forming the new spill weir, into the chamber it had developed, and it with concrete being slid down a chute very was obvious that a lot more remedial work ably constructed by Navy Brian and which was required than may have first been was adapted daily as the weir progressed thought. It was still self-supporting – just! from low to high level. The area around it was, very wisely, out of On Monday morning rain hissed down bounds to all but those necessary, and regu- sufficiently to cause a delayed start of play lar laser measurements were taken daily to (well it was August Bank Holiday), with some check for any deterioration, with lots of head folk staying to help the amazing cook Harri scratching by all the representatives of inter- with some kitchen duties. Training took ested parties present (archaeologists, engiplace for some on dumpers, diggers and a neers, historians and Grantham Canal Trust) roller, with that training soon being put into to go with the muddy toil led by Mike Palmer practice on various tasks about the site. to try to stem the flow of water from the lock It also became clear that young Nick chamber through the wall. had teethed on such equipment! It’s always Saturday saw the familiar pattern of interesting seeing DofEers settling down – a departing and arriving volunteers taking cautious, almost meek start as you might place in beautiful weather (well it was August expect from such youngsters, including Bank Holiday), with a handful of regulars worries about what got offered at mealtimes from week 1 continuing into the early part of demonstrated by not all of them filling their week 2. The 3 new DofEers – Olivia, Katie & plates, but that did change with the quality Nick - brought the average age down consid- and quantity of cook Harri’s output. One erably, and Sunday brought the time for commented how good one particular meal Week 2 to get stuck in – still in lovely was, and that they’d never had that at home! weather (well it was August Bank Holiday). (Perhaps that was my favourite of the week – Kirsty told us that it was she who had roast pork with crackly crackling plus a multiarranged the flypast we enjoyed by a Vulcan veg choice.) bomber. What a treat, and with fabulous When the Bank Holiday rain eased, Belvoir Castle as a backdrop! Newcomers many hands were put on concrete mixing for

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the weir, with both big (petrol) and small (electric) mixers working non-stop to feed the barrows feeding the chute. This usually took place in the afternoons as mornings saw ever-present John Hawkins and his team forming the next step up with a timber and steel skeleton. Wednesday followed the pattern of working primarily on the concrete/weir combo and just when some of us started to get concerned that we would have an extended day and late dinner – it being necessary to complete each step in a day - some of the local Trust ‘heavies’ joined us to really speed-up the process. Thanks chaps, for your ‘Whirring Wheelbarrow Formation Team’! The star of today’s Kirsty Flypast Spectacular was a Dakota, but also spotted were 3 trainers of some variety, a small craft of the aerobatic sort, and a helicopter. Somebody wondered if there were any Fokkers amongst them, but they all seemed friendly to me. Much road-rolling on the access lane to create temporary parking took place, as did deliveries by heavy lorries to generate lots of mud. A late afternoon excursion on their trip-boat was provided by the Grantham Trust, (thank you Ian Wakefield) with Tim

being giving the option of that or continuing brick-cleaning. Tuesday hasn’t been missed, but it was a nondescript sort of day. (Sorry Tuesday, I might have lost some notes on you.) The same sort of tasks continued into Thursday, but included Forknose joining the post-dinner relaxation at the table which included newspaper, Navvies, and magazine reading, re-reading and re-re-reading. Someone enquired if Forknose was doing the crossword, but got the reply ‘Don’t be daft, dogs can’t do crosswords – he’s doing the Sudoku!’ It was also the evening that Linda’s wearing of a blue finger-plaster (following a fingernail broken by a rogue potato peeler) was celebrated with a commemorative photo shoot of all the group holding up a finger covered in blue tape, - ‘extracting the Michael’ being a WRGie trait. That potato peeling incident had brought a personal highlight for me earlier in the week, with me chauffeuring Linda around the district in the search for a PROPER (ordinary) peeler. Cropwell Bishop couldn’t come up with the goods so we took a trip into nearby Bingham. An attractive little town, with a brilliant, well stocked hardware store by the name of Handicentre – everything you could

Lock 15 Woolsthorpe before dismantling: note how the walls are leaning inwards

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And now from the first-timers... On each camp I attend, I always wonder what ‘first-timers’ think of it all, so this time I asked them. Here are some of their comments...

Site “They’re obviously not going to repair that, are they?” “Wow! This needs pulling down and starting again” “It looks like someone has sliced the wall with a Samuria sword” “Knock it down before it falls down!” “I’ll get my new boots muddy!” “Mud everywhere”

Alan Lines

Accommodation “This is different!” “It’s nicer than the website picture” “It’s kind of what I expected” “What have I let myself in for?” “It’s a hall!”

Casting the first ‘step’ of the bywash weir

Catering possibly want (they probably had ‘4ork candles’ had we asked) and knowledgeable staffbut would they have the sort of peeler Linda wanted? Yes they would. In fact, they had a display of 6 (SIX) ranging from £1.79 to £4.99 with fancy names of Julienne Peeler, French Peeler, 2 in 1 peeler, Speed Peeler, and Professional Peeler. Linda settled for a £1.99 job, and what’s more it was called ‘The Lancashire Peeler’. We hadn’t realised peelers had names, and whilst Linda is a Yorkshire Lass she does have affiliations with that area the other side of the Pennines, and besides, it was exactly the type she was looking for. Sorted! You now know where to go for a potato peeler! Friday was my ‘demob’ day as I had to be elsewhere on Saturday, but I’m sure that it would have followed a familiar pattern. No doubt that diggers would have dug, rollers rolled, mixers mixed, dumpers dumped and barrowers barrowed. Thank Kirsty for guiding me in my tasks, and for wanting for everyone to be happy and safe. It was an unusual camp in that free alcohol was available early in the week including whisky,

“Amazing!” “Better than I expected”

WRGies “Very friendly” “Such a variety of different stories” “I was amazed by the trust they had in me to operate equipment after training” Archers schnapps and a motley collection of bottled beers – some were date expired but all went down well enough, though the Wheatsheaf pub in the village still benefited from numerous visits. The future of ‘The Wall’ was not known at this camp end, and this is not a technical report. I certainly realise that to say something like ‘they built a new spill weir’ is very much simplifying things and not acknowledging the tremendous effort which goes into restoration. Well done campers, even if you haven’t had a mention above! Richard Tyler

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Camp Report Grantham Canal Grantham Canal Camp 27

As the work at Woolsthorpe progresses on to building the bywash sidewalls and casting the concrete weir crest, Pete Leary takes up the story... ing the soil on the bywash. A team was set to work on breaking up the bricks from the lock with a light breaker. this was seemingly an introduction for some volunteers to the joys of generator powered tools, which seemingly provided excitement all round! Towards the end of the day, there was some water ingress between the two sets of piles at the top of the by-wash which required some emergency puddling with the excellent abundant clay soil. Day 2 continued with the removal of the coping stones and Martin Ludgate began the brick laying on the by-wash. As the piles required some more persuading into place, we relied on the largest sledge hammer in town, some appropriate fence posts and a gaggle of eager volunteers. A couple of hours later, the piles were just where they needed to be, with the only real casualty being several very tired volunteers and some smashed up fence posts. Ellie gained further experience in the art of levelling, although she did start to get confused and at one stage enquired how we were intending to

John Hawkins

Volunteers: Nicholson, Robert; Barry Watson; Danielle de Souza; Ellie Webb; Jack Moore; John Hawkins; Kanish Mistry; Maria Cotton; Martin Carrick; Martin Ludgate; Mike Harrison; Simon Lovelock; Tony Wynn, Pete Leary, Mike Palmer (first three days), David (can’t remember his second name). I think this was eveybody. We arrived at Cropwell Bishop in dribs and drabs on the Saturday afternoon and were greeted with the pleasing site of a well lived-in village hall following the first two weeks of the Grantham Camp and an already prepared Saturday evening meal, thanks to the outgoing WRG volunteers who looked after us as we made the transition from Civvy to Navvy. Even on the first evening, it was apparent that there was a good mix of experienced WRG hands, those with a few camps under the belt and some novice volunteers. After dinner, a few headed headed off on a recce of the Wheatsheaf, the pub that seemingly never calls time, whilst others remained at the hall playing cards and getting to know one another. Day 1 saw a brisk start and we were quickly getting established on site. The tasks for the day were primarily based around preparing the top of the bywash for concrete pouring including putting the piles in place and removing soil by hand. Brick removal began on one side of the lock and the coping stones were prepared for removal on the far side of the lock. As the day progressed it was decided the excavator would be a The bywash weir steps and sidewalls nearing completion better option for remov-

page 24

Martin Ludgate

level the piles when they were all “different wepths and dipths”. There was a minor mutiny at afternoon tea when it emerged that Mike and Pete had failed to follow the brief at lunchtime (they forgot to replenish and turn on the water boiler). Normality was restored thanks to the Grantham Canal Trust kettle. Evening beers in the Wheatsheaf followed the evening meal as usual. Day 3 was approached with a certain amount of trepidation as an almost perfect storm of embuggerance was going to present many challenges. This started immediately as the accommodation at Cropwell Bishop had to be completely vacated for a Women’s Institute function that evening. This mostly involved piling as much kit as possible into the vans, our cars and furtively under the stage in the hall hoping that none of the WI ladies would need anything from there and end up buried under a stack of red plastic boxes. Breakfast was al fresco and prepared on site by Tony and Danielle. It tasted spectacular! one cannot beat a bacon sarnie from a field kitchen. On site, we were all thrown in at the deep end as the star cast for the new WRG Health and Safety film. This mostly involved carrying out routine tasks but with extra tool box talks and pretending the camera wasn’t there. David had the challenge of doing a piece to camera on the application of Sun Cream on a warm day. This would have been straight forward if he hadn’t emptied a cup full of sun cream into his hands which then had to be applied liberally. Just to add some further spice to the day, Mike Palmer hosted a visit from a couple of dozen representatives from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Canal & River Trust and the Grantham Canal Trust. Somewhere in the middle of all this, there was a canal camp taking place which involved some key tasks including more removal of bricks from the lock walls and finishing the preparation for the concrete pour on the by-wash. The last of the reinforcement bar was added, the final shuttering was put in place and last but by no means least, the concrete pour took place on the by-wash. Everyone worked incredibly hard to get the concrete finished and as we were prevented from getting back in the hall until 22:30, dinner was served in the Farriers Arms in Grantham to a dozen hungry, mucky volunteers. It had been a long long day which had seen a phenomenal work ethic from all in-

The concrete pour under way

volved and a special mention must go to Martin Carrick who somehow managed to get his boyish good looks into most if not all of the clips for the new Health and Safety film. Day 4 and normality was restored on site with much of the work focussed on the ongoing task of brick removal from the lock and stacking the bricks as neatly as possible. A multitude of power tools were employed to assist with separating the bricks although there was no hiding the fact that it takes time and is very labour intensive. More bricks were layed on the bywash and Pete and Simon set about cutting many weird and wonderful shapes and sizes of brick for the bywash. Unfortunately, they killed the Stihl saw early in the day and had to rely on a hired alternative when it arrived on site. Those boys certainly did all they could to avoid cutting those bricks. The undoubted highlight of the fourth day was the opportunity to take a trip on the Grantham Canal Society trip boat the Three Shires. Most of the party headed up to the

page 25

their competency with the excavators and the dumpers as there was lots of earth moving required back filling areas of the site and plenty of bricks needed moving in order to be stored in a safe place. It was great to see the team working together so well. It seemed that everyone on site rose to every task they were given and Rob tried to ensure that people got the chance to try new things, (As long as it involved handling bricks in some way shape or form! )The evening was whittled away in the village pub that never seems to call time where we enjoyed the free pool table, the eclectic music choices of the barmaid and cheap ale. Who would have thought our leader would have a crush on Taylor Swift... The last working day of the camp saw us approach the tasks with vigour and one eye on the task of thoroughly cleaning off, counting and the stowing of the tools and equipment as the WRG involvement at the Grantham site started to wind down. The working day was generally more of the same which saw most of the gang cracking on with de-constructing the lock. The piles were removed from the top of the spill way using the excavator which Rob had positioned perfectly on the dam allowing for maximum lift with minimal ‘mandraulic’ effort. They certainly came out a lot easier than they went in. The cleaning, counting and packing of the tools and equipment into the trailer even passed relatively enjoyably with the prospect of a BBQ that evening at Cropwell Bishop Hall. Asda was raided for some bargain BBQ food and Ellie, Kanish, Maria and Jack treated Rob to some ales as a thank you for being a spoton leader (echoed from here also.) Saturday morning saw the usual frantic scurrying in order to return the Hall to some sort of normality, goodbyes were said and everyone headed off back to the real world. It was a belting week at a very interesting location with some volunteers intending to try and get back there next year on one of the digs. One last mention must go to Tony Wynn whose astounding array of gadgetry seemed to help us all out at some stage during the week and Barry Watson who is, by some distance, the coolest pool player I have seen! Work starts on taking down the chamber walls Pete Leary Martin Ludgate

next lock by vehicles just after 5pm in order to meet the Canal Society volunteers and take the opportunity to see the stretch of the Grantham Canal which is benefiting from previous restoration. The stretch we travelled on towards Grantham was very tranquil and the trip provided a great opportunity to view the result of many volunteering hours. Evening entertainment was provided by Rob at the pub where he entertained us with his somewhat Americanised quiz. The beer was flowing at least. Day 5 could have ended in disaster as we almost forgot to remove the dinner from the freezer. I had better explain that unlike regular Canal Camps, we did not have the services of a cook to keep stoking the volunteers. This did not provide too much of a problem as we pulled together to make breakfast at the hall and prepare our lunchtime sarnies before departing the hall in the morning. We were very kindly provided with pre-prepared evening meals courtesy of Jude Palmer. All this worked great as long as we remembered to take the evening meal out of the freezer in the morning! Down on the site, it was more of the same for the group with plenty of brick removal from the lock walls, brick separating with a variety of powered tools, brick transporting, brick stacking and brick cutting in order to keep David and the team well supplied up on the by-wash. It really was turning into all things brick focussed. Some volunteers managed to increase

page 26

It’s been some time since we reminded you of the relationship between WRG and IWA. Some newcomers may not yet have worked it out. Jenny Black explains... Why the Blue matters Who is IWA and how does that affect you? The Inland Waterways Association or IWA for short is a membership charity and almost all of the work it does around the waterways of England and Wales is led by volunteers. IWA has two main purposes in life, one is the protection of our waterways and the other is restoration. If you say ‘protection of our waterways’, the question springs to mind: protection from what? At first sight the waterways seem to be in pretty good shape. [But see our letters page for a discussion of whether they really are. ...Ed] It’s when you look closer that you see the benefits that an organisation like IWA brings. IWA volunteers are actively seeking to safeguard our waterways from all types of threats such as planning infringements, lack of dredging, general wear and tear to features such as towpaths and locks and natural threats such as invasive plant species. There are at least 35 navigation authorities managing the waterways: most are charities, and most are trying their best to keep their waterways in the best working order. IWA works with every single one of these authorities to represent the views of the various users – we know you enjoy restoring canals but if you have ever walked, run, canoed or cycled along a waterway then you are the type of person whose views IWA represents and whose issues they raise. Broken locks, overgrown vegetation, lack of sanitary stations – these are all dealt with by IWA’s Navigation Committee or the local IWA branch, bringing your issues to the attention of Canal & River Trust or the right Navigation Authority. A recent example of a successful campaign led by IWA is the one to limit the damaging effects of the proposed HS2 high speed railway to the canal system: the railway plans have now been altered. Restoration is part of IWA’s DNA. IWA

IWA Why does it matter?

is proud of its reputation within the restoration movement and has a long history of waterway restoration. Today IWA is actively supporting restoration trusts with advice, proposals, funding and specialist technical insight. This is where WRG comes in. Each year around a third of IWA’s membership subscription income, around £100,000, is spent supporting the activities of WRG’s hands-on restoration work parties around the canal network. IWA’s money pays for all the (non-muddy!) behind the scene activities that you often don’t get to see – the admin, finances, fund raising, insurance, marketing and publicity - all of which allows WRG to get on with what we are best at – restoring canals! This strong partnership means that WRG and its volunteers can continue to grow and support restoration projects across England & Wales. And it’s not just WRG that benefits from the support and work of IWA. IWA’s members have a wealth of knowledge and experience for waterway groups to ‘tap’. For example IWA’s Restoration Committee has the services of a small Advisory Panel of experts, including honorary consultant engineers, who can assist with detailed technical matters regarding your restoration project. IWA’s website contains a restoration portal which details the types of support available to restoration projects and includes helpful studies and reports. WRG is part of IWA making us one team on the journey from initial restoration idea to the excitement of opening a newly rewatered stretch of canal. We are all players in the same story although IWA and WRG rarely appear on stage at the same time. Even so, IWA members are happy to know their money goes to funding the excellent WRG cause. If you would like to join IWA in support of our restoration work then call the membership team on 01494 783 453 or go to waterways.org.uk/join. And if you don’t want to join IWA, then that’s fine - we’d just like you to know that it’s there in the background, providing vital support to everything we do. Jenny Black

page 27

Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Dec 19 Sat wrgNW Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201529 Dec 26-Jan 1 wrgBITM Jan 1 Navvies Jan 8-14 WAT Jan 9/10 KESCRG Jan 13 Wed wrgNW Jan 16/17 London WRG Jan 16/17 wrgBITM Jan 23/24 NWPG Jan 23 Sat WRG Jan 23 Sat wrgNW Jan 24 Sun WRG Jan 30/31 wrgNW Feb 5-11 WAT Feb 6/7 London WRG Feb 13/14 KESCRG Feb 13/14 wrgNW Feb 13-20 Camp 201601 Feb 20/21 wrgBITM Feb 27/28 London WRG Feb 27 Sat wrgNW Mar 1 Navvies Mar 4-10 WAT Mar 5/6 KESCRG Mar 5/6 NWPG Mar 5/6 wrgNW Mar 12 Sat WRG Mar 13 Sun WRG Mar 19/20 London WRG Mar 19/20 wrgBITM Mar 25-Apr 2 Camp 201602 Mar 26-Apr 2 Camp 201603 Apr 1-7 WAT Apr 2/3 KESCRG Apr 2-9 Camp 201604 Apr 2-9 Camp 201605 Apr 8/9/10 NWPG

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Cotswold Canals: WRG Christmas Camp Christmas Camp at Dauntsey, Wilts & Berks. Moving hedge to widen towp Press date for issue 275 (including WRG / canal societies directory) Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping Cotswold Canals: Stroud end Ad Hoc Meeting Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Wey & Arun Canal: Whipley Manor Railway Bridge - removal of trees Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit. Compasses Bridge PAT testing: Rowington Village Hall ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Village Hall Hollinwood Canal Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping Cotswold Canals To be arranged Montgomery Canal Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Scrub clearance Wilts & Berks Canal: Pewsham - stump pulling and clearing fallen trees Wey & Arun Canal ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Press date for issue 276 Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping To be arranged Cotswold Canals: Bowbridge or Lower Wallbridge Locks Chesterfield Canal Barn Dance: Rowington Village Hall Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Ashby Canal: (to be confirmed) To be arranged Chesterfield Canal: Staveley Town Lock Cotswold Canals: Weymoor Bridge, arch rebuild Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping, and profiling & lining To be arranged Cotswold Canals: Weymoor Bridge, arch rebuild Uttoxeter Canal: Bridge 70 Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit. Compasses Bridge

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

page 28

Canal Camps cost £63 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 2016-01' 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

ath, leak sealing


Barry McGuinness

0161-681-7237 01494-783453 07816-175454 07779-478629 01442-874536 07971-814986

Dave Wedd Martin Ludgate Roger Leishman Bobby Silverwood Malcolm Bridge Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Dave Wedd 07816-175454 Bill Nicholson 01844-343369 George ‘Bungle’ Eycott Barry McGuinness 0161-681-7237 Mike Palmer 01564-785293 Malcolm Bridge 01422-820693 Roger Leishman 01442-874536 Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Bobby Silverwood 07971-814986 Malcolm Bridge 01422-820693 01494-783453 Dave Wedd 07816-175454 Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Barry McGuinness 0161-681-7237 Martin Ludgate 07779-478629 Roger Leishman 01442-874536 Bobby Silverwood 07971-814986 Bill Nicholson 01844-343369 Malcolm Bridge 01422-820693 Mike Palmer Tim Lewis Dave Wedd

Roger Leishman Bobby Silverwood

Bill Nicholson

01564-785293 07802-518094 07816-175454 01494-783453 01494-783453 01442-874536 07971-814986 01494-783453 01494-783453 01844-343369

b.mcguinness1@gmail.com enquiries@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com bobby@kescrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk bungle@wrg.org.uk b.mcguinness1@gmail.com mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com london@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk b.mcguinness1@gmail.com martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com bobby@kescrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com bobby@kescrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 29

Navvies diary

canal society regulars

Canal societies’ regular working parties Every Sunday if required Every Tuesday


Bugsworth Basin Basingstoke Canal

Ian Edgar Chris Healy

0161-427 7402 01252-370073

Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS

BCN waterways Basingstoke Canal

Mike Rolfe Duncan Paine

07763-171735 01252-614125

Thursdays Sep-Apr 2nd Sun & alternate Thu


Aqueduct section Buckingham area

Tim Dingle Athina Beckett

01288-361356 01908-661217

Every Mon and Wed Every mon am Thu pm


Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby Cotswold (E end) John Maxted

01453-836018 01285-861011

Various dates Every Sunday


Cotswold Phase 1a Chesterfield Canal

07986-351412 01246-620695

Every Tue and Thu Every Tue & Wed


Chichester Canal Malcolm Maddison 01243-775201 Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale 01376-334896

Every Friday Second Sun of month


Langley Mill John Baylis Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech

01623-633895 0116-279-2657

Thu and last Sat of month GCS 2nd Sat of month GWCT Tuesdays H&GCT

Grantham Canal Nynehead Lift Oxenhall

Ian Wakefield Denis Dodd Brian Fox

0115-989-2128 01823-661653 01432 358628

Weekends Wednesdays


Over Wharf House Over / Vineyard Hill

Maggie Jones Ted Beagles

01452 618010 01452 522648

Thursdays Every weekday


Herefordshire Bradford on Avon

Wilf Jones Derrick Hunt

01452 413888 01225-863066

2nd Sunday of month Every Wed/Sat/Sun


Lancaster N. Reaches Keith Tassart Lichfield Terry Brown

01524-424761 01889-576574

3rd Sunday of month Last weekend of month


Hatherton Creams Paper Mill

Denis Cooper Steve Dent

01543-374370 07802-973228

Two Sundays per month Weekly


N Walsham Canal Pocklington Canal

David Revill Dick Watson

01603-738648 01759-305025

Every Wed and 1st Sat 2nd Sunday of month


Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird Sankey Canal John Hughes

01394-380765 01744-600656

1st Sunday of month Last weekend of month


Combe Hay Locks Stover Canal

Derrick Hunt 01225-863066 George Whitehead 01626-775498

2nd Sunday of month Every Thu and Sat


Sleaford Navigation Sussex Ouse

Mel Sowerby Ted Lintott

1st weekend of month Every Tuesday morning


Montgomery Canal David Carter Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish

01244-661440 01732-823725

Wey & Arun Canal David Daniels Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman

01483-505566 01442-874536

Most days, please contact WACT 1st w/e of month (Fri-Thu) WAT

Jon Pontefract Mick Hodgetts

01522-856810 01444-414413

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

page 30

CRT towpath taskforce

Navvies diary

Canal & River Trust ‘Towpath Taskforce’ maintenance working parties 2nd Saturday of month Audlem Shropshire Union Glenn Young see below 2nd Saturday of month Aylesbury Grand Union Miriam Tedder 07775-543990 4th Thursday of month Bath Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Alternate Thursdays Blackburn Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 1st Sunday of month Burnley Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Thursday of month Cheshire T&M/Macclesfield Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 1st Saturday of month Chester Shropshire Union Glenn Young see below Alternate Saturdays Chorley Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 2nd Tuesday of month Churnet Valley Caldon Canal Barry Keight 07919 560582 3rd Thursday of month Devizes Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Weds and Thurs Droitwich Droitwich Canal to be advised 3rd Saturday of month Ellesmere Llangollen Canal Glenn Young see below 1st Saturday of month Fradley Trent & Mersey Tom Freeland 01827-252010 4th Thursday of month Gailey Staffs & Worcs Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 1st Mon & Wed of month Hatton Grand Union Canal Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Last Sunday of month Hawkesbury Coventry/Oxford Miriam Tedder 07775-543990 2nd Friday of month Huddersfield Huddersfield Broad to be advised 1st Thursday of month Knottingley Aire & Calder Nav Lucy Dockray 07767-383736 Alternate Thursdays Lancaster Lancaster Canal Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Saturday of month Lapworth Stratford Canal Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Alternate Tuesdays Leicester Grand Union/Soar Tom Freeland 01827-252010 3rd Saturday of month London Grand Union/Lee to be advised 3rd Thursday of month East London Lee & Stort Navs to be advised 3rd Tuesday of month West London Grand Union Canal to be advised 4th Saturday of month Manchester Ashton / Peak Forest Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 1st Thu and 3rd Sat Maunsel Bridgwater & TauntonSteve Manzi 07710-175278 2nd Thursday of month Newbury Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Alternate Wednesdays Preston Lancaster Canal Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Alternate Fridays Sefton Leeds & Liverpool Alice Kay 07825 196365 3rd Saturday of month near Selby Selby Canal Lucy Dockray 07767-383736 Alternate Wednesdays Skipton Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Alternate Fridays Stoke Caldon / T&M Tom Freeland 01827-252010 Every other Wednesday Tamworth Coventry Canal Tom Freeland 01827-252010 4th Saturday of month Tipton BCN Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Alternate Thursdays North Warks Tom Freeland 01827-252010 Every Tuesday Wigan Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Thursday of month Welshpool Montgomery Canal Glenn Young see below Contact details: All CRT co-ordinators can be emailed at firstname.surname@canalrivertrust.org.uk, eg steve.manzi@canalrivertrust.org.uk for K & A. If no phone number given, use CRT Tel: 03030 404040


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


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

page 31

Navvies diary

IWA branches...

Inland Waterways Association and other one-day working parties Every Wed

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Jan 9 Sat

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Jan 9-10

IWA BBCW/WBCS Worcester & Birmingham: clearance at Tardebigge lime kilns 9.30am-

Jan 14 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Veg clearance at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10amJan 16 Sat

IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10am-

Jan 21 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amJan 22 Fri


Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10am-

Jan 26 Tue


Burslem Port Project: working on the T&M Burslem Arm 10am-3pm

Jan 27 Wed IWA BBCW/WBCS Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance Jan 30 Sat

IWA Chester

Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10am-

Feb 6 Sat


Burslem Port Project: working on the T&M Burslem Arm 10am-3pm

Feb 11 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Veg clearance at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10amFeb 13 Sat

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Feb 13-14

IWA BBCW/WBCS Worcester & Birmingham: clearance at Tardebigge lime kilns 9.30am-

Feb 18 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amFeb 20 Sat

IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10am-

Feb 23 Tue IWA NSSC

Burslem Port Project: working on the T&M Burslem Arm 10am-3pm

Feb 24 Wed IWA BBCW/WBCS Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance Feb 26 Fri


Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10am-

Feb 27 Sat

IWA Chester

Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10am-

IWA branch abbreviations BBCW = Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire; Other abbreviations: BPT = Burslem Port trust; CUCT = Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Society; CRT = Canal & River Trust

Mobile groups' socials:

The following groups hold regular social gatherings

London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig at the 'Star Tavern' Belgrave Mews West, NWPG: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading.

page 32

...and other one-day work

Navvies diary

For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 Martin Bird



Martin Bird




Bill Lambert

024-7672 6924 volunteers@wbcs.org.uk


Robert Frost





4pm 3pm

John Brighouse


Bob Luscombe



Steve Wood



David Struckett



Mike Carter



Steve Wood



Robert Frost



Martin Bird




Bill Lambert

024-7672 6924 volunteers@wbcs.org.uk


John Brighouse





john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk 07710-554602


Steve Wood



David Struckett




Bob Luscombe




Mike Carter



Mcr= Manchester; NSSC = North Staffs & South Cheshire RGT= River Gipping Trust; SNT = Sleaford Navigation Trust; TMCS = Trent & Mersey Canal Society;

in pubs.

Please phone to confirm dates and times


Contact Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Contact Phil Dray 07956-185305

page 33


Is the maintaining restored canals something WRG should take on to stop them closing? Or is it beyond our capabilities, or maybe a distraction from restoration?

WRG maintaining canals? Dear Martin John Cowie’s letter sounded like a walk down memory lane for me. I too have now been boating for 50 years, but I was an adult (just!) when I started. We had great fun navigating the unnavigable, mending paddle gear and making gates work in order to get through. Just after I started boating I became involved in restoration – Marple, the Avon, Welshpool, to name but a few. However, Graham Palmer and his lieutenants, me included, swiftly came to the realisation that organising working parties for weekends was work enough for us who all had jobs to hold down. What was not seen by the navvies was that many more weekends were spent travelling the country to meet local organisers in order to arrange the work and accommodation for our travelling team. During the weeks we wrote Navvies (the notebook!), pasted up, got plates made and printed it – chatted up local groups (IWA branches and other canal societies) to pay for the work… and so on. There was no way we could maintain a waterway. In any case, before the 1968 Act the duty lay with British Waterways, and we had a great resistance to maintenance, as did the trade unions who would have walked out all week and thus negated the whole thing; and that was true for years after ‘Cruiseways’ were the established norm. When pressure came to run work camps we could not do that either – there was only 5 or 6 of us all told doing the thinking and organising – and starting WRG. Thus I say that WRG cannot maintain the canals from the centre. This is not to say that a local society could not do so, or rather, that they would have to have a nucleus of knowledgeable people to organise locally as Crick Grundy and Maurice Frost did for the three years we worked on the Wilmcote flight on the Stratford. They arranged materials to be delivered, the village hall to be booked, plant hired and so on… but I cannot see that this could be extended to dredging without the active co-operation of CRT. I know nothing

page 34

of CRT, but working from my now very old knowledge of BWB it will all be down to the local Area Engineer, or whatever they call him (or her) now. Abandoning hard won water without a fight is unthinkable. So are the Engineers being talked to? What resources of people are available locally? Can CRT fund it? Has CRT any staff at all locally? How are the connections with the local authorities – just point out how many jobs will be lost if nothing happens. If we WRG/IWA, the local canal societies and individuals do nothing, then neither will CRT as they will see we accept that unnavigable water is OK. Anyone up for a challenge? Mike Day Dear Martin How sad to see those comments from grumpy boaters. I do not own a boat, but every year for many years I have hired a narrow boat with the intention of cruising a different part of the network each October. I can honestly say I have yet to find evidence of the decay and dereliction your correspondents describe. On the only occasion I came to a lock in dire need of maintenance, on the K & A, I checked the list of winter stoppages and found that the lock in question was due to close just one week later, so the problem was in hand. My own visits make me quite optimistic about the future of our canals. Best regards John Norton Dear Martin Well, I see, from the latest IWA Bulletin, that they have at last formed a group to restore Bradley Locks, as we proposed through Navvies a while ago. Unfortunately I was not in a position to do anything at the time, but it would appear that someone has been working behind the scenes to form the necessary partnership to bring this exciting restoration into being.

It made no sense for the Bradley Arm with its workshop to continue as a dead end when there was a stretch of canal that could be restored to make it part of a useful through route - now it hopefully will happen. I am also pleased to see work parties on the Uttoxeter, having once been told that this was a complete no-go and a flight of fantasy - now, as a long-standing member of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, where have I heard that before? One other scheme that was long advocated and promoted by the Chelmsford Branch of the IWA does not appear to have happened, however, and I rather wonder why, now that the waterway concerned is owned and operated by the IWA; this was to either make the feeder to Springfield Basin at the head of the Chelmer & Blackwater Canal navigable or to introduce a lock alongside the rollers nearby, to extend the canal into the centre of Chelmsford and its surrounds. I would have thought that WRG were well capable of doing this work now that the major repairs to the canal itself have been achieved. Best regards Brian Andrews

that time, many volunteers also felt that they had achieved the objective of restoring the canal so they moved on to other local waterways including the Wey & Arun and the Wilts & Berks both of which are stll being restored. However, by the early years of this century, it became increasingly apparent that the owners of the canal (Surrey and Hampshire County Councils) were not undertaking sufficient maintenance to keep the canal open. This led, in 2008, to the canal being closed to through navigation and to a serious deterioration in the canal infrastructure. By this time the Counties were becoming very concerned about the integrity of the canal and it was regularly appearing at the top of their registers of significant risks. Budget cuts also resulted in the ranger force being reduced from 10 to 6. At about this time the Canal Society concluded that it should revise its policy towards general maintenance and it has since used its work parties in support of the Canal Authority in a whole range of tasks including bank side clearance, restoration of essential equipment (for example Society volunteers rebuilt the Canal Authority’s weed cutter last year), bank piling, brickwork, tree clearance and many other day to day jobs. I would The short answer re Chelmsford is that it’s therefore like to emphasize the point that still the aim but it’s been struggling against local planning issues. Long answer next time. however much we may want the Canal Authority to deal with all the many maintenance Dear Martin, tasks that must be done to keep the navigaI would like to express a view on whether tion in operation, they simply do not have volunteers should work on restored canals. I the manpower and resources to do it. write from the perspective of our experience Accordingly we face a stark choice. We on the Basingstoke Canal with which I have either campaign for extra funding, provide all been involved for the last 35 years, a period the support we can muster or let the canal that spans both the restoration phase and 25 go. Given the further cuts are on the way to years of operations. local authority grants (and the canal also Whilst I can understand the reluctance relies on funding support from 6 district of volunteers to actively support the restored councils) it is unrealistic to expect that local canals, I think our experience on the Basing- authority contributions will be increased stoke should give pause for thought. When indeed the funding allocated to the canal will the restoration of the 32 miles from the R almost certainly decline. Given the immense Wey to Odiham was completed in 1991, the effort that went into restoring the canal over Canal Society decided that it would not unthe 20 year period from 1970, it is unthinkdertake routine maintenance on the canal. able, in our view, that we should let the canal Our work parties therefore decided to condeteriorate to the extent that it will effectively centrate on enhancements to the canal and become abandoned again. these mainly centred on improving the naviThe Canal Society is therefore commitgation, providing additional facilities for boat ted to playing its part in keeping the Basingowners and addressing the difficult issue of stoke in full operation for years to come. We water supplies (as many of your readers will would appreciate the continuing support of know, the Basingstoke does not have a sum- WRG in achieving that objective. mit reservoir so it has insufficient water in Philip Riley dry summers to maintain full navigation). At Chairman, The Basingstoke Canal Society

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Feedback Canal camp cooks

Yet another contribution in the long-running series of hints and tips on how to cook for 20 hungry canal camp volunteers...

tions are large and 20 portions for 25 meals was fine. Lunchtime f&c in the summer, on Following on from several contributions in the Friday, kindly provided by the locals, was really good - and also meant a lighter last recent(ish) issues of Navvies, here are another supper with less catering equipment needed, canal camp cook’s thoughts. Do remember: so it could be packed earlier. there is no one right way of cooking for a canal Local and seasonal is good: I stopped camp. Read all the articles for suggestions and at a market garden in September for supplies ideas on how (and how not) to do it... for a weekend and asked for cooking applies: ended up picking a couple of dozen from the Musings from a novice camp cook’s noteyet-to-be-harvested tree. Stroud ice cream book... Wynstones - is gorgeous, but I never got to 1 Porridge sticks. the recommended butcher in Stonehouse. 2 Never ever underestimate the amount Mutton from the Ty-Coch smallholding by of food consumed. Drapers Lock on the Mon & Brec has yet to 3 Simplify - be too clever by half at your be sourced: perhaps earmark a newborn peril. lamb for 20lb. No venison on camp in 2015, 4 Commission help and support. See 10. but do roast it long and slow - the (vegetarian) 5 There will be chips left over. cook make a very tender ‘mess of potage’. 6 Martyrdom - don’t go there. See 10. I do a local (to me) supermarket shop 7 Go local when you can, but shopping of non-perishables and sometimes fruit and always takes longer than expected. vegetables from the Hereford market stall. 8 Plan and re-plan - then adapt and wing it. Perishables and frozen food from shops near 9 Tiredness kills - see 11. the accommodation, having checked access 10 Enjoy the DofEers to the kitchen fridges and freezer. 11 Be happy. Don’t do 6 or 9. Tea towel fairies are great! Don’t leave 12 Be seasonal, local, even national if it fits yourself with that job and the recycling until in with with the plan. the last day. See 4, 6, 8, 9 and 11. Martin Danks Elaboration: DofEers and young people were successfully ‘used’ in rotation at Easter to help cook breakfast, one on each day, and also ad hoc to help in the evening: a request for custard for 26 and couscous ably met. Elaborating for summer camp, two young people helped in rotation, so their first day doing breakfast was with someone who had done their first day the previous day. So pairs of young people made a great difference to breakfast and the lunch ingredient preparation, serving, and timeliness. ‘Cawl’ for the Welsh night (lamb stew) went down well but might not have won any competitions. But Syllabub was OTT. The team of cooks at the Bonfire Bash Fish and chips: OK so chip por-

Cooking for canal camps

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Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the country begins this time with clearance of a blocked-up bridge on the Manchester Bolton & Bury...

Progress MB&B Canal

Manchester Bolton & Bury

Pictures by MBBCS

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society’s volunteers spent 18 days with diggers and dumpers at Nob End in September and October. As it was our first time with heavy plant the work was overseen by the Canal & River Trust. We began by clearing the start of the Bolton arm under and around Nob Bridge which was almost totally underfilled (see before and after photos). We then cleared the top and sides of the ‘bullnose’ (the sharp bend between the Bolton arm and the top lock) to establish how much had been robbed – quite a lot in fact. We also excavated the top three locks and the middle basin to a depth of about 1.5m to reveal the virtually intact locks more clearly. Paul Hindle The underfilled bridge and (below) with clearance complete

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85% grant to complete all works from the site of the former swing bridge No.4 to the winding hole at Little Tring. To support this bid the CRT term contractor has prepared a contract price based on our drawings and specifications. We should know early next year whether this bid is successful and, if so, contract work would start in 2017 with the aim of completion during that year. In the meantime WAT volunteers will complete the work from where we are now to the site of the former Bridge 4. If this is not complete before the contract works start, the contractor is proposing to form an access via the path up from Wilstone Reservoir so that relining between the cart track entrance and Bridge 4 can be tackled from both ends at once. This access could be used by the WAT volunteers to complete their work with a storage site behind the mooring wall at Bridge.4. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director. 01442 874536, rwleishman@gmail.com

Progress Wendover Arm September and October Working Parties: Good progress was made at both of the Wendover Arm Trust’s working parties, completing the pipe capping (concreting over the pipe laid in the dry canal bed to maintain the Arm’s water supply function, prior to channel lining above it) towards Whitehouses, the end of Stage 3. At the same time spoil was used to replace and consolidate the offside bank that had to be removed to enable the pipe capping to be laid. From the rubbish found and the line of the pipe trench it is apparent that over the years since the canal closed and the pipeline was laid (1911-12) the former Herts County Council tip on Miswell Farm beside the canal between Whitehouses and Bridge 4A had overflowed into the canal bed. During the September working party the ‘hump’ in the former Bridge 4 narrows was removed and the parlous state of the old abutments exposed. It is quite obvious that these abutments cannot remain as they are, and WAT recommended that they be demolished and removed. The Canal & River Trust agreed with this but first want a photographic / documentary record for their archives. The way ahead: For the next working parties we will be continuing with pipe capping and rough profiling both banks behind us as we proceed. To speed up volunteer work, one possibility is to use contract and other assistance for excavator work and block laying, and this will be explored next year. WAT and CRT are submitting a joint bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for an

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Pictures by WAT

Grand Union Wendover Arm

Old bridge abutments and (below) pipe capping

The Wendover Arm Trust are bidding for Lottery money, while the Wey & Arun Canal Trust are building a bridge, a lock, and a park viewing platform... Wey & Arun Canal

Progress Wey & Arun Canal Midweek Working Party. On Saturday, October 24th, the nature park’s viewing platform was officially opened by Guildford MP Anne Milton. Mrs Milton, who unveiled a commemorative plaque in the centre of the unusual hexagonal decking, praised the work of the Trust in establishing the park as part of its plan to restore the waterway. She told a crowd of around 100 people: “There are wonderful views from here and I hope people come and enjoy this excellent facility, which is so close to the centre of Guildford.” Philip Oliver told those present the platform would be an ideal place to watch the canal being re-created when the time comes. He said the park demonstrated the Trust’s commitment to creating a ‘green corridor’ along the length of the waterway. The basic structure of the new Compasses Bridge on the canal’s Summit Level was completed in mid-October. Contractors C.J. Thorne poured the concrete for the deck that will carry the access road to the Dunsfold Aerodrome business complex

Pictures by WACT

The signing of a land lease represents a major advance in the restoration of the Wey & Arun Canal’s northern section. It gives the Trust permission to re-create 400 metres of the waterway’s Bramley Link section, near Guildford in Surrey. The agreement is for farmland owned by Trust members Susan and Malcolm Brenton. It enables part of the canal from Shalford down to the Tannery Lane Bridge, near Bramley, to be restored once planning permission and funding are secured. Susan Brenton became aware of WACT and its plans when the Trust held consultation sessions at Bramley in 2004. She said: “Our lower field was shown as a possible route, so that raised our interest level. We have always been keen supporters of the Trust and are very happy to sign this lease.” Malcolm said a solid understanding on how to get the restoration work done had been built between both parties. He added that the key word in the negotiations was ‘trust’. Philip Oliver, the Trust’s Bramley Link Manager, thanked Mr and Mrs Brenton for their generosity and commitment to WACT. He also had praise for the volunteers who have worked on the Bramley Link section and the Trust’s Hunt Nature Park at Shalford, including WRG, the Newbury Working Party Group, Contractors pour the concrete deck of the new Compasses Bridge and the Trust’s

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across the canal. Large amounts of steel reinforcement were used, as the bridge will carry a freight company’s lorries and other traffic. Other tasks for Thorne include the construction of wing walls on both sides of the bridge. The Summit (Northern) Working Party is a new band of volunteers working regularly at the Compasses site. Apart from preparatory work before the arrival of the contractors, their tasks have included finishing the fence alongside the new access to the bridge and hole digging to locate services such as a BT cable, in preparation for realigning the road. At the new Gennets Bridge Lock, WACT volunteers install scaffolding in Gennets Bridge Lock ready for bricklaying on the Surrey-Sussex border, WACT volunteers have started the bricklaying phase of the project. The contractors, Burras, finished their work and removed the last of their equipment on September 25th. One of their final tasks was to get some of the volunteers’ kit into the lock – about 5.5 tonnes of scaffolding, 10 tonnes of blocks and two bottom quoins at 431kg each. WACT workers put some 40 tonnes of type 1 aggregate on adjacent towpaths and Guildford MP Anne Milton and WACT Bramley Link Manager Philip Oliver then back-filled that with the plaque to mark the opening of the Hunt Park viewing platform part of the back of the lock where the contractors had their shuttering, with perhaps another 50 tonnes of clay. Project leader Eric Walker’s team has been recycling batteries from narrow boats, cars and tractors as its contribution to the fundraising. Eric is also looking for “a couple of thousand hawthorn plants” to create a new hedge. For more information contact Wey & Arun Canal Trust press and public relations officer Rob Searle on 01276 857914, 07913 416435 or rob_searle@weyandarun.co.uk

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Meanwhile down on the Sussex Ouse, one lengthy lock restoration project is nearing completion and another one is just beginning

Progress Sussex Ouse

Isfield Lock: Approaching the end of another restoration working season for Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust, the latest news from Isfield Lock reports that the complete restoration of the lock draws ever closer. The actual lock chamber rebuild was completed this summer. The work compound and surrounding area have been cleared where possible, tidied and landscaped. The upper lock cut, about 150m in length and linking the lock with the River Ouse, has been cleared and both towpaths reinstated. The task ahead now for SORT is to source the timber, build and install the lock gates as well as the stop planks. Iron Gate Lock: Work has once again begun at Iron Gate Lock. Situated at the southern edge of Sheffield Park National Trust Gardens and Park on the River Ouse, the lock was initially cleared of vegetation about 4 years ago. Now work has started to reveal exactly how much remains of the chamber brickwork, in particular around the upper gate recess, the ground paddles and the training walls. A recent working party was aided in their work by a group of students from Brighton College who chose a day with SORT as part of their Community Service studies. They were put to work clearing vegetation and exposing the brickwork of the lock chamber. They apparently enjoyed their day in the country with project manager Ted Lintott and the SORT volunteers. Terry Owen

Pictures by SORT

Sussex Ouse

New project: Iron Gate Lock

Job done: Isfield chamber and (below) upper approach cut

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Progress Roundup Cotswold Canals On the Cotswold Canals the big news is that the Heritage Lottery Fund bid for major funding for Phase 1b of the canal has been submitted. Of course the even bigger news will (hopefully) be that it has been accepted the decision is likely to be in April 2016 so fingers crossed everybody. From the point of view of the overall canal restoration and (particularly) boaters wanting to cruise on the restored canal, Phase 1b is the all-important connecting length which goes from the west end of the Phase 1a length at Stonehouse to the junction with the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal (and therefore the national waterways network) at Saul. Phase 1a is the section we’ve been working on for the last few years including Bowbridge, Wallbridge, Ham Mill, Griffin Mill and Gough’s Orchard locks. So if Phase 1b gets restored, there will be ten miles of new waterway open to boats from all over the country in around five years’ time, and all those worksites from the last few years will start seeing lots of boats. As for what it means for the volunteers: while most of the £20m project will comprise new bridges to carry the canal under the M5, A38 and main railway line - which sadly is a little beyond us - there will be a mile of channel to reinstate, with new locks plus a buried lock to uncover and restore. So plenty to keep us busy.

Bradley Locks A restoration which has been proposed and talked about over the years looks like it’s making some real progress - albeit not actual work on the ground yet. The Bradley Locks Branch is one of several ‘missing links’ on the Birmingham Canal Navigations network. It used to provide a connection from the Wednesbury Oak Loop (a truncated former loop of the original BCN main line surviving from before it was straightened) to the Walsall Canal. It was one of three paral-

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Progress on two up-and-coming projects on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, and the bid goes in for the next length of the Cotswold Canals restoration lel routes (the others were the Bentley Canal and the Tipton Green & Toll End Communication) all of which provided short-cuts from the Wolverhampton area to the Walsall area. All three are now shut, and Bradley Locks is probably the only practicable restoration project. A report has just been produced for the local waterways partnership indicating that it is feasible in engineering terms (there is only one road bridge to reinstate; although much of the route is infilled it is almost entirely unobstructed; the lock chambers probably survive buried but intact) and that it would suit all the local authorities’ priorities when it comes to heritage, regeneration, nature conservation, walking and cycling routes and so on. It would also perform a useful function in making it easier for boats to get to the underused northern BCN. As for whether there would be volunteer work on it, it’s probably too early to say (in fact it might all be done through the local authorities) - but those infilled locks might make good volunteer projects.

Lapal Canal Staying on the BCN, there’s been some progress on the Lapal Canal (historically the derelict eastern end of the Dudley No 2 Canal from Halesowen on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Coombswood. In October planning permission was given and in November work began on reinstating the Harborne Wharf length of canal. Contractors Careys (who are working on an adjacent development on the Battery Park Site alongside the first length of the canal from the junction with the W&B) generously agreed to carry out the soil shifting operation free of charge - moving 2000 cubic metres of infill. The work also involved repairing the side walls of the canal. With restoration of the Battery Park length as part of the development and reconnection to the W&B, the restored Wharf will provide a 120m by 20m mooring basin.

Flails and driver authorisation We have recently seen increasing use of flails for vegetation control on canal restoration sites. There are various widely differing types of flail in use, and wehave been considerting how to cover with them as part of the WRG Driver Authorisation scheme. In basic terms we now have four types of flail on canal sites:

Plant Flail mowers

1: Pedestrian operated - basically a walkbehind mower type of machine with a flail on the front. This does not require WRG Driver Authorisation. 2: Mounted on a tractor for ground based use. This will be covered by category 5b (ride-on mowers) as the distinction between a mower and a flail in this situation is a bit vague and the risks are similar. 3: Mounted on a tractor on an arm for cutting hedges (i.e. has the ability to be used vertically). This is what we meant when we put in category 20 (flails), and the description of this category will be reworded to clarify this. 4: Mounted on an excavator arm. I can see these becoming popular as they look to be very effective, however this has sufficient additional risks that it merits a new category. We are therefore adding category 27: excavator mounted flails. Andrew Chapman is revising the Instructor Guidance Notes for category 20 and writing a set for the new category 27 and is to become the first instructor on this category. Instructors on category 20, those who want to become instructors on either category, and anyone interested in getting more information on the subject should contact head office for more details. George ‘Bungle’ Eycott

Top: pedestrian controlled, needs no DA. Above: tractor mounted, ground use, category 5b. Below: tractor mounted, capable of vertical use, category 20. Below left: excavator mounted, category 27

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A selection of old pumps and other equipment offered free to any bona fide waterway restoration charity: please form an orderly queue!

...free to a good home

Disposal of surplus WRG plant equipment As you may know, at one time WRG had a fleet of pumps and other equipment that was loaned out and used on camps. Over the years most of this equipment has reached the end of its life and with the notable exception of the new excavator, a few dumpers and some other miscellaneous odds and ends, the plant loan aspect has all but come to an end. However, nestled in a container “oop North” are a number of items that may find a useful home on a canal restoration site. Rather than scrap them or try and sell them, we would prefer that they went to a good home. So for bona fide waterway restoration charities we are pleased to offer the following items free of charge. We may even be able to deliver them free of charge, or they can be collected from the Stockport area by prior arrangement. Note that most of this equipment has not been touched for 15+ years; we have not (yet) attempted to start or run any of it, so at the least it is likely to have sticking / stuck / seized bits that will want a coat of looking at. We have already had a surprising amount of interest. If we need to decide who to give things to, we will try to find the best home. Do you have somebody with the skills to rebuild machinery? We don’t want them to just go from the back of one shed to the back of another. In addition to the items listed below we also have a quantity of Villiers engines, mostly part dismantled, that can be raided for spares for anyone needing them for the items below. For more details on any item, or to express an interest, please email bungle@wrg.org.uk. 1


Lot 1: Simplite Mk4 2" diaphragm pump. With Villiers petrol engine, missing carburettor though we might have one that will fit. Lot 2: Morris chain hoists. Very old and unlikely to pass lifting test without some work, probably more of historic appeal. Two available, one large one small, unsure of capacity but probably around 0.5 to 1.5 tons Lot 3: Simplite Mk4 2" diaphragm pump. With Villiers petrol engine. Appears complete.



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Lot 4: Petter PAZ1 single cylinder diesel engine, 1.5 hp @ 1000rpm. Looks like it was put in storage part way through having its fuel tank changed as it has a non original one part fitted and the original one on the shelf next to it. Possibly part of lot 13.




Lot 5: Lister LR1 single cylinder diesel engine. Stored inside, appears complete but low on compression, possibly stuck valve from storage (Bungle thinks it was stored after being repaired but cannot be certain). Lot 6: ATALANTA 2" centrifugal pump with Petter AA1 diesel engine, on site trolley, looks complete. Lot 7: Sykes Velovac 2" pump on site trolley, looks complete other than a worn out silencer (ignore the very scrap engine in the picture background!). Lot 8: Petter AVA1 single cylinder diesel engine, incomplete and in poor condition from outside storage, spares only





Lot 9: Lister single cylinder diesel engine, possibly LR1, in poor condition from outside storage, for spares only.


Lot 10: Selection of short length of 1" BSP pipe to fit Keeclamps style handrail fastenings along with boxes of clamps. Lot 11: Johnson 3" diaphragm pump on site trolley with Lister single cylinder diesel engine


Lot 12: Sykes Velovac pump on site trolley with Petter A series single cylinder diesel engine. Missing vacuum priming unit – probably makes sense for anyone having lot 7 to have this as well for spares. Lot 13: Johnson style 3" diaphragm pump on site trolley, missing the engine, possibly the engine is lot 4 though the two items were too far apart (and in the case of the pump, behind too many other things at present) to be sure.

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Plant The WRG excavator

At the beginning of the year we replaced our old excavator ‘Blue’ with a new machine. After its first season in service, we’ve come up with some handy hints about it...

The new excavator has now done its first season. A number of points have come to light that people need to bear in mind: 1:


3: 4: 5:

Trailer: When putting it on the trailer, all three buckets, the riot shields and the spare wheel for the trailer need to travel in the back of the van. Otherwise the trailer is overweight…. Don’t forget to put the spare wheel back on the trailer when you have finished, it would be most inconvenient to have the spare wheel in a van in Chester when you have a puncture on the trailer in Wiltshire. Oil: The excavator travels with spare engine oil and spare hydraulic oil. Obviously you should check the levels on these items daily but neither should be needed in normal use. To check the level of the hydraulic oil you need to have the machine rams in a specific position as shown in the manual (kept behind the seat in a white jiffy bag – a proper holder is on order). Please make sure you really need to top up the hydraulic oil before doing it, the oil is special long life biodegradable and is over £10 a litre. Unless there is a leak (from a damaged hose for example) you shouldn’t need to add any. Door lock: It is really easy to lock the keys into the machine by unlocking the door, opening it, then turning the key back. When you next close the door it will be locked…. If this happens please ring head office or Bungle for instructions. The grease nipples in the middle of the track frames are NOT lubrication points, they are for tensioning the tracks (again, see the manual for details). They have now been fitted with covers to try and avoid mistakes. Towing: the ONLY WRG vehicle that can tow the machine is the Iveco plant van (FLN); the Transits do not have a high enough towing capacity. George ‘Bungle’ Eycott

The new excavator in use on the Grantham summer camps

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And you thought canal restoration was about bricklaying, scrub-bashing and concreting? Kate Langley from CRT explains about a new resource to help with the ‘boring’ backroom stuff...

Restoration Work stages

It’s not just about canal digging... as different sections of the waterway are brought These days, before we can even stick our spades in the ground, there’s a whole heap of planning and preparation jobs that need to be done. Most WRGies need never know about most of this, but for those of you who are (or are thinking of getting) involved in this background work, our parent body The Inland Waterways Association has got together with the Canal & River Trust to produce an online resource document that aims to help by breaking it down into key stages. CRT’s Kate Langley explains...

Restoration work stages As many of you will know the long, but worthwhile, process of restoring a waterway is not straightforward. Along the way there is a variety of things that needs to be done – establishing water resources, negotiating with land owners, securing planning consents and fundraising as well as restoration of the waterway it self– the list seems endless! No two waterways will be the same or face the same challenges. However there are core tasks of feasibility, design and construction that need to be completed within any waterway restoration project. The Canal and River Trust has worked with the Inland Waterways Association to develop break the whole complex process into key work stages, with associated core tasks and outputs. This useful, interactive on line tool is an essential reference document for all those involved in planning the restoration or construction of waterways. There are eight work stages which suggest a broad order of work and are aligned to the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 to ensure compatibility with construction projects. Stages A-C likely to be ‘one off ’ stages which will allow the project to be developed to a point where it’s possible to show a clear delivery strategy with phasing for the whole of the waterway. Stage D (an addition to the RIBA work stages) is about preparing for delivery. Work stages E-H are likely to be repetitive

forward for restoration. Ongoing strategic work will be required to ensure that focus on the unrestored elements is not lost and that there is continued support from all partners. The tasks within each work stage are sets of linked activities that are key to driving the project forward. There are nine key recurring themes (project management, governance & procurement, land ownership, water management, built heritage and natural environment, communication and community involvement, fundraising, planning consents) which set out the key outputs required at each stage. Tasks will vary from project to project depending on the specifics of the project; often requiring different focus at different times within the project development and delivery. So the work stages are not a conclusive list of all activities or a manual on how to restore your waterway. They provide a framework for planning and progressing a restoration of a waterway. The 70+ restorations in England and Wales are all at different stages, and whatever stage your project is at this document guides you to what ideally you should have in place to take you closer to achieving restoration. To give more support key documents, providing models of good practice and, hopefully, inspiration, are available on the Canal & River Trust restoration pages under ‘key documents’. You can find the ‘Restoration work stages’ at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/restoration Kate Langley

The stages A: Strategic definition B: Scoping and evaluation C: Concept design D: Preparing for delivery E: Developed design F: Detailed and technical design G: Construction H: Handover / use / aftercare

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Camp report Chelmer & Blackwater

The October camp was spent clearing vegetation from Springfield Basin on the edge of Chelmsford on the Chelmer & Blackwater. Iain Corbin explains...

Chelmer and Blackwater Camp 28 have the large bushes lopped down to some Saturday, joining day at the amazing Haybay Barge, and Leader Bob Crow and Cook Bob Coles are already aboard as I walk the gangplank. Leader Bob does the railway station run as cookie Bob cooks up plans for the week. Once all have arrived, safety talk, site talk and introductions are done and then to set the tone for the week, a fantastic Pasta à la Bob, followed by Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberries.. awesome! A short visit to the Jolly Sailor on dry land by a few is followed by a surprisingly early night for all. Sunday brings the most amazing bright sunrise at breakfast and the working day starts with a tool count at Hoe Mill, followed by a tour of the site and facilities at Springfield Basin in Chelmsford. Helen Dobbie joins us and helps set a cracking pace, quickly reducing the bushes and scrub, but for diplomacy, no power tools are used in order not to upset the rather grumpy fishermen on the opposite bank! Helen, Chrissie, Ivan and Arthur soon

What’s the story about the

twisty stumps whilst the DofE girls Isabelle, Thalia and Emmeline make slashing, lopping and raking look stylish. Bob and myself decide the twisty stalks are spoiling the view, and with the grumpies gone, Mr. Chainsaw makes an appearance and the view is restored. The day ends as it began with the sun putting on a show of many colours. Back at the barge and it’s Lemon Chicken with Rice and Broccoli followed by Pear and Almond Torte... wow! Monday, and it’s another bright start only dulled by Helen succumbing to a back strain, but the high pace is set! And with the fishy chaps as scarce as the fish that were being caught, out come the power tools! We are also joined by the lovely locals Eve and Mike. DofE Josh is first to wield the hedgetrimmer, followed by Mark. Eve starts a boat run up the cut, removing branches for chipping later. (Tsk, no fires! something to do with gas pipes, boo!) Karen takes a close look at one of the branches, an eyewash and recommendation to wear safety glasses later,

Chelmer & Blackwater?

The Canal Camp project: clearing the banks of the lower end of Springfield Basin, Chelmsford Why? The Basin (not a conventional canal basin, but the topmost length of waterway above Springfield Lock, where the navigation leaves the River Chalmer for the final time) was restored from dereliction by Chelmsford IWA with WRG support in the 1990s. The land around it is gradually being redeveloped as part of the regeneration of a formerly run-down area of the town . Essex Waterways Ltd (the IWA subsidiary which runs the navigation, the original company having gone bankrupt a decade ago) is rebuilding the basin walls in conjunction with the developers (with the aim of ensuring that the waterway takes its place at the centre of the developments and is in a position to benefit from them). Our clearance work is the first stage of preparation for the next phase of this redevlopment. The wider picture: As a waterway Beeleigh Heybridge authority with no regular public Basin Hoe Mill R C funding, EWL needs to he Canal Camp site: Blackwater lm encourage use er Springfield Basin estuary Maldon and support Chelmsford The Haybay of the navigation to keep it going. This includes making Chelmsford an barge attractive destination. The aim is that later this will lead to extending navigation right into the the town centre via a new lock and the upper Chelmer and Can rivers.

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and all is well. Mike sets to work levelling out the towpath using the nifty Avent 635 multipurpose digger/mower/ loader/swiss army knife thingy. Isabelle is first to give the brushcutter a go, then Matt steps up for a session. Braised Beef and Mash followed by Crumble and Ice Cream are on the menu at ’La Barge’ which is is already past masterchef level! It’s film night and Home: early morning on Jurassic World has us screaming and keeps Mark busy resetting the sound system. Tuesday, another fine sunny day! can it last? Hard to believe it’s late October... Mike brings the wood chipper - what a beast! - which makes short work of the branch pile, so Chainsaw Bob heads for the trees on the offside with Clive, Matt and Josh and ferries back plenty more for chipping by Rebecca, Chrissie, Ivan and Arthur. I test the ability of the chipper by feeding it ever larger bits, only to learn later that they were earmarked for logs... oops! Masterchef becomes Michelin Stars as we are treated to another taste sensation, Shepherds Pie inside a baked potato with carrots and green beans followed by Coconut and Cardamon sponge with strawberries.. Heaven! Everyone goes tenpin bowling in Chelmsford, and some even visit four lanes during their two games! Wednesday... spoke too soon, washout... heavy rain and a rare decision to not visit site on safety grounds, as the boat and dredger would be too slippery for the work in hand. So after an extended breakfast and lazy morning, the rain eventually clears enough to get back on site for a final push on the towpath side. With the final bit of earthmoving done, the 800 metres or so of towpath is unrecognisable from what was overgrown wasteland on Sunday.

the Haybay barge, canal camp accommodation

Fish & Chips gives Bob a night off the hot stoves and we head out for a pub quiz at The Shaw Farm at South Woodham Ferrers. Bits and Bobs manage 6th place and The Non Bobs come 8th, the Non Bobs mitigate their result by pointing out the average age of their team is ten years younger than the Bobs, and then miss the ‘jackpot’ question by 1 year! But a good night is had by all. The journey back to Heybridge is filled by renditions of an eclectic mix of Christmas carols (in October!) and Bohemian Rhapsody by the camp choir. Thursday sees a move to the offside and clearance of a length of footpath, with Karen and Matt on scrubcutters and hedgetrimmer, Pedro, Chrissie, Rebecca, Clive and the rest chopping and lopping with vigour. Tea and lunch break are spent admiring the chainsaw skills of the contractors removing the big Willows where we were at the start of the week. Back at the Barge Cantina and it’s a Fajita Feast. Entertainment for some is a showing of The Wolf of Wall Street with Matt Damon, whilst others attend a more sedate film night at the Church Hall entitled Films of the East Coast. Friday, grey day and with all the planned work all but completed, some extra trimming and chopping is found, as is a replacement gas bottle for the Burco which

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expired just before tea break! After a leisurely lunch the tools are counted and repacked in the trailer at Hoe Mill. Roy Chandler from Essex Waterways, and his wife, join us after lunch and thank us all for completing everything in such a swift and thorough manner. Back to the ’bay for our ‘last supper’ of Roast Chicken and all the trimmings, followed by a smorgasbord of sweet things, including gummy bears, meringue, ice cream, summer fruits, chocolate drops, sprinkles, peri peri sauce... etc... Then the leaders and cook are presented with tokens of thanks for what had been an enjoyable and uplifting week. A final visit ashore after a bit of ‘glamming up’ for a wee drink to end the week. So to the final breakfast, tidy and pack up, and group photos on Saturday morning and farewells to a great bunch of volunteers. Many thanks to Bob Crow for his seemingly effortless leading, Bob Coles for his stunning culinary skills (book early to avoid disappointment folks... not to be missed!) Roy, Eve and Mike for first class support, Matt, Rebecca, Arthur, Karen, Mark, Emmeline, Chrissie, Ivan, Clive, Isabelle, Josh, Pedro and Thalia, all workers, no shirkers! We hope to see you all again. Cheers! Iain Corbin

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Finally, WRG’s Forestry Team held its annual camp at Hincaster on the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal. John Hawkins reports...

Camp Report Lancaster Canal

hose going out through the window to the gas bottles. I left home on the Wednesday before the During the next few hours other people Camp to collect minibus FEH from Tom’s Farm slowly began to arrive at the hall – slowly and then to visit my daughter for a few days. being the operative word for those who had A couple of weeks prior the large WRG cooker decided to use the M6: well, it was the start (more about that later), fridge and freezer of half-term for lots of schools. Tim had had been loaded into the van. Friday afterdragged the trailer up the M4 and M6. Meannoon I drove to Crooklands to find our acwhile Clive and Pete had inspected a new site commodation for the following week. for future work near Hillmorton Locks. Sarah and Paul were already there – Mitch, who was going to be the cook Paul having collected minibus RFB from WRG for the week, was very late and still had to Northwest a few days before. do some shopping at Asda in Kendal. Mitch Inside the hall the largest area and and Phil found the staff in Asda very helpful stage were allocated as the sleeping room, – assisting with the transfer of items into luckily there was another reasonable sized trolleys and then into the car. hall, which became the dining room and also Tim, and a few other folks went to the ‘evening chat’ area. These two halls were collect the Lancaster Canal Trust’s ‘welfare connected by a vestibule that was very useful unit’ from the their compound at Millness. to keep the worksite clothes. This was towed by a circuitous route through There was a large kitchen, with plenty the fairly narrow lanes and reversed into of open storage, work surfaces and two place onto what was once the bed of the double sinks – but no cooker. Hence the canal. This was to be part of the welfare reason for the cooker to be in the back of the area. During the time that we were on site a van, this was sited in the back hall with the gazebo was also erected to give cover during

Lancaster Canal Forestry Camp


What’s the story about the

Lancaster Northern Reaches?

Canal Camp sites: around Hincaster Tunnel

The Canal Camp project: tree felling at several sites near Hincaster Tunnel.

Stainton Crooklands





The wider picture: The Trust’s long-term aim has always been the complete reopening to navigation of the abandoned ‘northern reaches’ from the limit of navigation below Tewitfield Locks to Kendal. However the southern part of this section is beset by problems of main road crossings (particularly the M6); while proposals to reinstate the original Kendal terminus have strugged with planning issues. The First Furlong aims to ensure that there is visible physical progress, and to extend the current trip-boat Tewitfield operation, as well as working towards tackling the first major Locks blockage (the A590) and aiming to reconnect Hincaster Tunnel.



Why? The work here ties in with two current projects by the Lancaster Canal Trust: the First Furlong programme to re-water one furlong (1/8 mile, about 200 metres) at the start of the dry section which runs northwards from near Stainton to Kendal (followed by the ‘F2’ Hincaster project to rewater the next furlong); and clearance of the horse Tunnel path which connects the towpath over the top of Hincaster Tunnel.

Canal blocked by roads at various points

Navigable to Preston 41 miles

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John Hawkins

meal breaks. people, bonfires could be lit!! The work was originally on three differThe two worksites had been bisected ent sites, but this increased to four as the when the A590 was upgraded a few years week went by. ago, and this is now a major obstacle for One site was alongside the main A590 Lancaster Canal Trust. road that feeds into the South Lakes and During the week some people had hence no bonfires: the entire top brash had ‘migrated’ from one site to another and we to be chipped. Members of Lancaster Canal also joined by MkII, Lynda and the Trust had cleared some of the area, but Barry ‘Tweedles’. set-to to brushcut a larger area for the secThe last day was spent on the extra tions of tree to be stacked. Another small fourth site where we were all taking out job was to replace a coping stone on the wall some heavy growth out off a hedge that by the tunnel that had been knocked off by the hadn’t been cut for many years. It can now farmer’s tractor. Also on site were, Clive, Tim, be flailed and kept tidy. Paul, ‘American’ Martin, David and Nadeem – Vans cleaned and fuelled in readiness our ‘tame’ excavator/log shifter operator. for the morning. The main task was to fell several ash Thanks to Paul and David Joyner for and larch trees. The larches had to be cut to liasing with Lancaster Canal Trust and CRT in certain lengths depending on their diameter. order to get all permissions etc in place; this The better ones cut to 4 metres were to be was the third attempt that we had tried to cut into planks at a sawmill. The remaining arrange work for this canal. straight trunks were to be cut at 3m to be Also thanks to Mitch and Phil for the used for biomass. The rest was put through usual ‘scrumptious’ food, in spite of having the chipper; rather annoyingly the chipper the cooker located away from the kitchen. didn’t get to site until Monday and so lots of The weather could have been kinder, brash had to be handled twice. but we were in Cumbria... Meanwhile the second team – David This hall makes very good accommoda(the local), Stephen, Ian, Sarah, Jim, Sue, Ju tion for a Canal Camp – plenty of space, and Daz, did some clearance work at the separate rooms, plenty car park, large opposite end of Hincaster tunnel. Like the kitchen with plenty of storage space, with the first site, this site is owned by CRT. only downside being the lack of a cooker. When this was complete they moved to John Hawkins the third site, which is privately owned. This site is a dried canal bed and the towpath led to a section of canal that had recently been re watered – unfortunately with a leak somewhere and this meant that the section couldn’t yet be connected to the main system. The work on this area was to open out the towpath and remove certain trees. And yes, much to satis“Another one bites the dust” - with Hincaster Tunnel in the background faction of certain

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If you ever tow trailers, please read this warning. It concerns a possible trailer hitching-up problem which has, in one case, had fatal consequences

Safety Trailer hitched up OK?

Trailer hitched up OK? Are you sure? This is a picture of a site cabin in Bedminster last year. The driver had towed it 12 miles before a combination of a bump in the road and the bend jolted it free. Tragically the cabin then mounted the kerb and killed a three year old boy who was walking with his mother. So, how did this happen? At some point, the handbrake lever had become bent, probably due to it being used to manoeuvre the front of the trailer sideways. Due to the design of the hitch it then interfered with the release handle. As the accident investigation officer said, to the untrained eye having a quick look, nothing seemed amiss. But in fact the trailer was just resting on the ball as the release handle had not dropped and so it is surprising that the trailer had stayed attached for as long as it had. Normally the break away cable would have applied the brakes when the trailer came free but as it was on a bend it didn’t get a straight pull and snapped before the brakes could come on. So, some learning points from this.



Don’t use the handbrake to manoeuvre the trailer, it is only a relatively thin metal tube and will bend easily. Check, then check again that the trailer is attached properly and that the release handle has latched down. If you attach the trailer to a van that someone else is driving, you should expect them to check it before they drive off, likewise if you are towing a trailer that someone else has attached you should check it yourself. Remember, it is the driver who is responsible for the load, not the person who loaded it. If you own a trailer where the handbrake could interfere with the release handle if bent, it may be possible to cut a small amount off the handbrake lever to remove the risk.

As the accident investigation officer said, to the untrained eye having a quick look, nothing seemed amiss. But in fact the trailer was just resting on the ball as the release handle had not dropped, and so it is surprising that the trailer had stayed attached for as long as it had. Normally the break away cable would have applied the brakes when the trailer came free, but as it was on a bend it didn’t get a straight pull and just snapped. George ‘Bunge’ Eycott



A bent handbrake could foul the release handle (arrowed)

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MAKE SURE YOU WRITE OUT YOUR NAVVIES SUBSCRIPTION CHEQUE CORRECTLY - SEE BELOW RIGHT... Fred Heritage R.I.P. We are very sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Fred Heritage, husband of Sadie of the WRG Boat Club, has died. We send our sympathies to Sadie, to all in WRG BC, and to everyone else who knew him.

Engineer wanted The Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust are looking for a volunteer project engineer to take a lead role in engineering matters at their work sites, liaise with the Trust’s work party volunteers, and work on designs and specifications for the Lichfield Canal. If you think that might be you, see lhcrt.org.uk and follow the links to ‘Volunteering’ and then to ‘Project engineer’.

The maps and stuff Many thanks for all the very positive feedback we’ve received concerning the maps and information panels that we’ve started including with the canal camp reports for each work site. We will carry on including these in future issues. If there’s anything you’d like to see in Navvies, or anything you don’t like, do tell us.

Apologies ...for no Deirdre or other ‘infill’ stuff this time. She will (we hope) return next time.

Stamps wanted! With Christmas cards arriving through your letterboxes, it seems a good time to remind you about the WRG Stamp Bank. So please save all your used postage stamps, plus empty ink and toner cartridges, aluminium cans and foil or any other aluminium eg old pans, foreign coins and notes, any coupons that can be exchanged for items, old mobile phones and old die-cast (eg Dinky) toys.

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Navvies News All proceeds will be used to fund canal restoration. Send them to IWA/WRG stamp bank, 33 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS - or to arrange collection for heavy stuff contact Steve & Mandy Morley on 01908 520090 or steve@morleytowers.org.uk.

Welcome ...to Alex Melson and Emma Matthars who have joined the Head Office team. Best wishes to Toby Gomm and Amber Jenkins who have moved on to pastures new.

And finally... Thanks from the editor to everyone who has sent articles, pictures or other contributions to Navvies during 2015, to John Hawkins and Chris Griffiths for printing plus the team of volunteers for envelope-stuffing, Lesley McFadyen for proofreading, Sue Watts for renewals, Dave Wedd for compiling the diary dates, Robert Goundry for rounding up and collating canal society progress reports, and the team at Head Office. A happy Christmas to all our readers, and if I don’t see you on the New Year camp, have a good 2016.

Navvies subscriptions cheques As we mentioned last time, cheques for Navvies subscriptions now need to be made payable to “THE INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION” (NOT WATERWAY RECOVERY GROUP) as the bank is becoming much stricter about the use of official company names. Please use the right name, to save us having to ask for a replacement

Outro From this... Inglesham Inglesham Lock Lock on on the Cotswold Canals the Cotswold Canals at at the the start start of of an an extra extra camp in September camp in September

...to this The The cleared cleared lock lock at at the the end end of of the the camp camp

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 274  

Volunteers restoring the waterways. Read Navvies 274.

Navvies 274  

Volunteers restoring the waterways. Read Navvies 274.