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50 years of restoring waterways

navvies 1966

–

2016

Focus on

Fenland: Restoration in the East

waterway recovery group

Issue No 276 April-May 2016


Intro Easter camps

Uttoxeter Uttoxeter Canal: Canal: setting setting out out ready ready for for the the start start of of restoration restoration work work on on the the deck deck of of Bridge Bridge 70. 70. Camp Camp report report next next time time (please!) (please!)

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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.

Contents In this issue... Coming soon Leader Training, WRG Training weekend and a Family Camp 4 Fundraising: latest o the WRG Van appeal, plus a chance to help a triathlon 5 Camps preview focus on Grantham, Wey & Arun and Inglesham this summer 6-8 WRGBC Boat Club News 9 Fen Feature Eastern waterways 10-14 50 from 50 Fifty waterway restorations we’ve supported since Navvies began 15-19 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies’ work party dates 20-25 Progress our regular roundup 26-32 Camp Report Chelmer & Blackwater 33-35 WRG NW on the Montgomery Canal 36 Navvies News Camp Leaders wanted! 37 Infill the Lions of Stourbridge song 38 Outro Easter camp pictures 39

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 277: 1 May.

ubscriptions

Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Dave Hearnden, Jude Palmer, Mike Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts.

year's subscription (6 issues) is available or a minimum of £3.00 to Sue Watts, 15 leanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, anchester M21 9FZ. Cheques payable to Inland Waterways Association" please. ISSN: 0953-6655 © 2016 WRG his is a minimum subscription, that veryone can afford. Please add a donation. Cover Picture: KESCRG with floating chipper on the Basingstoke Canal (photo: Jenny Black). Back cover: Woolsthorpe Lock 15 seen during a London WRG weekend dig with the chamber walls completely dismantled ready for rebuilding. Read about the summer camps on the Grantham Canal in our camps preview on page 7. (Martin Ludgate)

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Coming soon Training, families, rallies

Last call for Canalway Cavalcade; Leader Training; WRG Training weekend; and a new venture for 2016: the WRG Family Camp

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice: May Day bank holiday As this Navvies lands on your doormat you should still be just in time to volunteer your services for the annual Canalway Cavalade, the Inland Waterways Association’s three day festival at Little Venice (near Paddington in London). The site services team is largely composed of WRGies led by Pete Fleming with George Rogers cooking. There are boats for sleeping on, plus a field kitchen for cooking and eating, and thecamp starts at lunchtime on Wednesday 27 April with the aim of getting it all finished by the afternoon of Tuesday 3 May. To help, contact George Rogers on georgemrogers@btinternet.com or 07789 493967.

Leader Training Day 14 May Second call for the annual WRG Leaders Training Day – as mentioned in the last Navvies we will be returning to the normal agenda with items useful both for new and experienced leaders throughout the day. The day will start with bacon sarnies and coffee from 10am, proceedings start at 10.30am. We have a number of interesting subjects to cover including how to do a good toolbox talk on site, kit updates and changes to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Lunch is included and we plan to knock off at about 4.30pm although discussions do continue over dinner (also included). These are still rough plans and it is not too late to add whatever burning subject is on your mind. Accommodation is available in the hall on Saturday evening and breakfast on the Sunday. If any budding or experienced camp cooks would like to join us that would be great as we are running a cooks section as well. To book on (it’s free!) please contact Jen at head office jenny.black@waterways.org.uk, 01494 783453 remembering to let her know when you’ll be there (particularly if you are planning on staying overnight) and what dietary requirements you have. An idea of interest for the cooks sections would also be useful. Ed Walker

WRG Training Weekend 11-12 June Our annual WRG Training Weekend is looking like being a bit of a scaled-down affair this year, concentrating on the skills that it looks like we’ll be in particular need of at this summer’s canal camps. So we’ll be offering training on excavator and dumper operation - plus possibly bricklaying too. It’s taking place at a site on the Wey & Arun Canal on 11-12 June, and places will be limited so first priority will go to volunteers who’ve already booked on for this summer’s camps. We’d also welcome any more offers of help from instructors who are available to train volunteers over the weekend. For details contact Jen at head office: 01494 783453 or jenny.black@waterways.org.uk

WRG Family Camp 24-26 June Another call for WRGies with kids or grandkids! We are trialling a family volunteering weekend in June (24-26th) and would like to invite some families to do work on the beautiful Chelmer & Blackwater with the kids (age 6-17) and introduce them to the work of WRG! It’ll be self catering camping or campervan at Hoe Mill Lock campsite. For more information please contact Alex Melson or Emma Matthars at Head Office on 01494 783453.

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Buy some fudge at Little Venice and support the WRG Appeal. Then take part in a Triathlon (to burn off all those calories) and help support the Chelmer...

Fundraising WRG van appeal

Van Appeal Update The Van Appeal has now smashed the £95,000 mark and is well on the way to its target of raising £120,000 to replace our four van/minibuses following a fantastic night of fundraising at Rowington Village Hall for the WRG Barn Dance. A great night was had by all who attended, led by ‘Rogue Music and Friends’ who ensured nobody got away with not dancing! All attendees were also treated to a fantastic cowboy supper provided by WRG cook Eli Mathieson to ensure they kept their strength up for the whole night. The night raised just over £1000, a very welcome boost to the total. With individual donations also still coming in, the The Barn Dance team continued to be wowed by everyone’s generosity. The next fundraiser to look out for is the return of the fudge stall at Canalway Cavalcade at London’s Little Venice in a week or two’s time. We will be based on stall W2 in Warwick Crescent – it’s always popular so come and find us before it’s all gone! For more details of appeal events and how to support the appeal go to waterways.org.uk/wrg/fundraising/wrg_van_appeal/fundraising_events.

Volunteers wanted: ride, run, paddle... or marshal! Registration has now opened for the second IWA Waterways Triathlon, being hosted on the Chelmer and Blackwater in Essex, on Sunday 25th September - but we’re also looking for volunteers to help run the event. It will once again take participants on a 30km or 50km adventure, combining canoeing, cycling and running. All money raised will be going towards vital towpath improvement work being done by Essex Waterways (and supported by WRG see camp report, pages 18-20), to improve access for all users of the navigation. For those interested, more details are available at waterways.org.uk/triathlon or on our Facebook event page. We need you: Due to the scale of the event, we will rely on the ever valuable support of keen volunteers helping to marshal, hand out drinks and manage registration. I know a lot of people helped out last year so would be great to see you again, but we are hoping it will be even bigger and better this year so some new faces would also be welcome! If you are able to help out in any way on the day, please contact Sarah Frayne at sarah.frayne@waterways.org.uk

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Camps Preview Big Three...

Latest news on three of the big projects we’re supporting with summer Canal Camps: Inglesham Lock, Woolsthorpe Locks and Compasses Bridge

Camps preview: Inglesham, Wey & Arun and Grantham By the time you receive this copy of Navvies, the start of the main WRG summer canal camps programme will be just seven weeks away - so here’s an update on what’s happening. We’ve chosen to focus on three sites in this preview - because all three projects have something in common. They’re all sites we’re working on early in the season; they’re all projects that we’re concentrating our efforts on by running two or more weeks of camps; but most importantly they’re all projects with a big volunteer input that have been ‘up and coming’ for some time now, but are finally getting up to speed and will be really starting to make some serious progress this summer. So read on, and feel free to send your canal camp bookings in...

Inglesham Lock, Cotswold Canals The story so far: We’ve been working at Inglesham Lock for several years, but progress has been slow so the aim for 2016 is to really get things moving. In 2015 it was all about the mud… volunteers spent 10 days clearing the lock chamber of mud, glass and other debris to allow for a full survey of the lock chamber to be undertaken. Work has continued at the start of 2016 with a small team of volunteers spending two weekends in March clearing the massive 100 tonne pile of rubble that volunteers had dug out of the lock chamber last summer. Other enabling works were also carried out to improve site access and a large tree stump was removed from the spill weir. We have six weeks of Canal Camps planned this summer at Inglesham Lock. Weeks 1-3 will be focused on clearing the remaining silt and starting to repoint the lower chamber walls. There are also some brickwork repairs to be carried out. Once the structure below the water is sorted our focus will turn to the very badly damaged lock chamber walls above the waterline. During weeks 4-6 volunteers will install scaffolding in the lock chamber and start demolition work, removing damaged brickwork, vegetation and some very large tree roots. The current plan is to rebuild the lock in sections so its likely these weeks will also have an element of rebuilding work going on. Why is it important? We want to restore and re-commission Inglesham Lock at the junction of the Thames and Severn Canal with the River Thames, which is a crucial part of the Cotswold Canals scheme. Inglesham is the gateway to the Cotswold Canals restoration, and an iconic structure. IWA/WRG are keen to present an opportunity to get it open and create a usable link to the network. The Inglesham Lock Restoration Appeal closed to personal donations at the end of April 2012. Donations totalling just over £100,000 have been pledged towards the Inglesham Lock Appeal.

Dates for 2016 11th-18th June – Leaders Wanted Volunteer now! 18th-25th June – Leaders: Jenny Black, Amber Jenkins & Gemma Bolton 25th June-2nd July – Leaders Wanted: Volunteer now! 27th August – 3rd September – Leaders: Paul Rodgers, Rhiannon Smith/Amanda Faul and Ian Johnson 3rd-10th September – Assistant Leader: David Evans – Leader and Cook Wanted: Volunteer Now! 10th-17th September – Leaders: Sophie Smith, Bernd Schimansky – Cook Wanted: Volunteer Now!

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Compasses Bridge, Wey & Arun Canal The story so far: For some time, the Wey & Arun Canal Trust has been raising funds and planning for the reinstatement of the missing Compasses Bridge, which used to carry a main road over the summit level of the canal, but was replaced by an earth causeway many years ago. The road now provides access to the industrial units on the Dunsfold Airfield site (that’s where Top Gear has its test track) and so it needs to carry 44-tonne trucks. And that means the new canal bridge, whose construction began last year, has had to be built to full road specification and without interrupting traffic (by building it alongside the causeway). The actual concrete bridge installation was done by contractors but virtually everying else has been done by WACT volunteers supported by WRG and other visiting groups. We’ve put in pavements, kerbs, cable ducts, built the access road for contractors - and during our two weeks of canal camps this summer we’ll be adding the brick facing to the new bridge, as well as taking out the old causeway. Why is it important? Over the last couple of decades a great deal of WACT’s efforts have been concentrated on extending the Loxwood Link restored section of canal in Sussex, which is now several miles long with six completed locks and a new aqueduct. But at the same time, WACT has been keen to open up a ‘second front’, getting a significant length of canal reinstated further north in Surrey. Compasses Bridge stands about midway along a length of over a mile of canal which has already seen a great deal of clearance work and would make an ideal length for another trip-boat operation. There’s also the possibility that Dunsfold Aerodrome will be redeveloped for housing sometime - in which case if there’s already a working length of canal alongside it, there will be a much greater chance of getting further canal restoration (for example a new bridge for the A281 road) included as part of the work.

Dates for 2016 2nd-9th July – Leaders: Bill Nicholson and NWPG 9th-16th July – Leaders: Rob Nicholson and Maggie Eaton

London WRG laying pavements on the brand new Compasses Bridge

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Woolsthorpe Locks, Grantham Canal The story so far: The top three locks (numbers 16 to 18) of the Woolsthorpe flight of seven locks were restored some 20 years ago - leaving four locks still to rebuild. It’s a major job, but thanks to a successful application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, restoration of the next lock (Lock 15) got under way last year. Unfortunately (as sometimes happens) it turned out to be in rather worse condition and considerably less well-built originally than expected - a bit of a Friday afternoon lock, to be honest! So what we’d thought would be a repair to the top of the chamber walls has turned into a total demolition and rebuild of both walls apart from the four corners (see back cover picture). So far, the demolition bit has been done. We’ ve got four weeks of camps there this summer, and they’ll be concentrating on rebuilding the walls. Why is it important? Restoring locks 14 and 15 (which is also covered by the HLF money) will extend the reopened navigable section of the canal which already runs from Woolsthorpe for over three miles to the A1 road crossing on the edge of Grantham - but there’s more to it than that. The work will also form a heritage skills training exercise which the Grantham Canal 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. That in turn could improve prospects for reopening the Long Pound reaching most of the back towards Nottingham, which could in time provide the incentive to find the cash to deal with the diversion needed to connect the canal back to the Trent.

Dates for 2016 3rd-9th July – Leaders: Emma Greenall and Pete Fleming 9th-16th July – Leaders: Nick Swift and Martin Carrick 16th-23rd July – Leaders: Kirsty Wallace and Harriet Wood 23rd-30th July – Leaders: Mike Palmer and Becky Parr

We’ve finished knocking it down, now come and help us rebuild Lock 15 this summer

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WRG Boaters: did you go on a Clean Up this spring? Are you going to the IWA Pelsall Festival in the summer? And have you got a burgee? WRG BC News By the time you read this it will be SPRING and we will all have come out of hibernation and be raring to go! I did actually spend some days hibernating. It was during one of the very cold spells and my central heating broke down. I was sitting huddled up over a wood fire, wearing hat coat and gloves in the house and I’m sure that my brain went into a form of shut down. Of course the more cynical will ask ‘How did you spot the difference?’ but I’m sure that at least I am more alert now and raring to go! So on with Boat Club business...

Second Question: did you manage to attend one, or more, of the canal clean ups? If so please let me know and if possible include some details. Club member Chris Morgan said (on page 6 of the last issue of Navvies) that he hoped there would be a good showing of club members, flying our burgee*, at the BCN cleanup, 16-17 April. Third Question – have you booked into Pelsall

WRG BC News yet? The club AGM will be held sometime over the weekend. Pelall is quite central which ever direction you are coming from. It would be good to have a large turnout of members and there will be plenty of jobs for you to get involved with. There are adverts and application forms in IWA and Waterway magazines or try the website. If you study your copy of Navvies (what do I mean IF, of course it’s WHEN) you will notice that copy date was 1st March. I’m late again. March is when AWCC hold important meetings and usually I have the dreadful decision whether to be late sending in copy and include details of the meetings or to be on time. This year I am unable to attend any of the meetings, so we will have to wait for the minutes to arrive, BUT due to collapse of the system I am late anyway. Apologies to all. xxx Sadie Heritage 236 Station Road, Whittlesey PE7 2HA 01733 204505 mobile 07748186867 sadiedean@msn.com * Have you got a club burgee? If not, or you need another, apply to Lynne immediately, her phone number is on your membership card.

Martin Ludgate

First Question – did you get your membership card for this year? If not please contact me ASAP so that I can sort it out. Disaster has struck the well organised WRG BC filing system as not only has my computer collapsed but also the USB stick, with all the documents on, has got ‘contaminated’ so I can’t open any of the files. My son, who knows about such things, has tried to recover them but has had a very limited amount of success. This is the second edition of this ‘News’ as I lost the first one in the afore mentioned disaster. (So this will be rather short!)

Boat Club

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Fenland Feature

There’s a curious network of part-drainage, part-navigation waterways in eastern England which attracted our attention in the past, and again might in the future...

The Middle Level

across the Wash. They were constructed between the 17th and 19th centuries to drain Look back at some of the early issues of the surrounding fens, though they were also Navvies, and you’ll find references to restora- used for transporting agricultural produce tion of a navigable route through the flat and, until relatively recently, the fuel needed Fenlands of Cambridgeshire (and neighbour- to power the pumping stations which keep ing counties) from the River Nene to the the land dry. Great Ouse. Look at some slightly more At its greatest extent there were over recent issues and you’ll find accounts of work 100 miles of navigable waterway, a mixture on another route between the same two of man-made cuts, which typically run dead rivers. straight for a number of miles, and natural Despite all this effort in the past, one of channels, with just seven locks. One curious the routes is impassable today - but might be feature is that most of the system is below a restoration project involving WRG again in sea level, and you tend to lock down into the the not too distant future. Middle Level from the rivers either side. Harri Barnes takes up the story... The main authority is the Middle Level Commissioners, who charge no additional The Middle Level Navigations are a series of fee for navigation, but some sections are drains and dykes which link the River Nene under the control of the Environment at Peterborough to the Cambridgeshire Great Agency. There are two main through routes Ouse (which is navigable through Ely and – one to the south through the Forty Foot ultimately right up to Bedford) without the Drain, Horseway and Welches Dam locks, need to make a treacherous coastal passage and the other further north along Well Creek

Restoration in the Fens

Yaxley

e eam Nen L s ’ r vill ve Be Ri d Ol

Ramsey

Middle Level Navigations

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Benwick

Outwell To The Wash Upwell

Wel l Cre ek

Six tee nF oo tR Ol ive dB r ed f o rd Ne w Riv Be er dfo rd Riv er

Fens Link proposed route River Nene to the Welland r to The Wash and Witham ive R ot Peterborough March Fo ty River Nene n e King’s Dyke to Northampton Tw

Forty Foot Rive r

To Ely

Welches Dam Lock (out of use)

Possible new route from Welches Dam to Earith Earith Great Ouse to Bedford

Great Ouse

Great Ouse (Old West River) to Ely


through Upwell, Outwell and Salters Lode Lock. As with much of the rest of the inland waterways network, commercial traffic on the Middle Level had declined by the 1950s. In 1949 the Inland Waterways Association’s Fenland Branch was formed to campaign for the interests of the Middle Level and the rivers Welland, Nene and Ouse as leisure waterways. Within ten years, they were fighting a proposal to fill in part of Well Creek for a road widening scheme. 1972: Navvies 37 In 1968, Lionel Munk and Hugh McKnight undertook an IWA ‘Inspection Cruise’. They encountered few problems on the Great Ouse, Old West River, Cam and Wissey. But on entering the Middle Level via Denver Sluice and Salters Lode, Well Creek was found to be heavily silted though still navigable, while the western reaches around Whittlesey were choked with blanket weed. Aiming to return via the southern route through the Forty Foot Drain, they reported it took seven hours to clear vegetation sufficiently to operate Horseway Lock. Their conclusion was that the system, ‘England’s nearest approach to Holland’ in atmosphere, needed boats to use it. But a year later, Well Creek was closed when the gates of Marmont Priory Lock collapsed. The Middle Level first appears in Navvies in issue 37, which carried a two page spread advertising ‘Fenatic’, a dig planned to take place over the last weekend in October 1972. It noted that while the Nene and Ouse were well used, ‘horror stories concerning the Middle Level abound’. It reported that the Middle Level Commissioners were a ‘land drainage authority not empowered to undertake navigation works’, but were sympathetic and helpful to navigation interests. The purpose of Fenatic was to clear the rubbish which had accumulated in Well Creek particularly around the villages of Upwell and Outwell. The description sounds familiar – volunteers were directed to follow signs in the village to find the site, and the facilities available included not just washing but

announces the first of a series of ‘Fenatic’ digs showers, and a hot drinks canteen. Two issues later, Navvies reported that ‘Operation Fenatic took place in perfect weather’, with 100 volunteers from as far afield as London and Wolverhampton, and a substantial contingent from the River Stour Trust, working alongside more local attendees from the Middle Level Watermen’s Club, the Well Creek Trust and the Cambridge University Canal Club. 25 tons of rubbish were removed from a 2 and half mile stretch, including ‘a toilet, most of a car, bike tyres and two shotguns’. All the work was done by hand, as no mechanised equipment was allowed. Fenatic II took place in March 1973, with work at both Well Creek and Horseways Lock, in preparation for that year’s IWA National Rally due to be held at Ely, though in the end, Well Creek wasn’t reopened in time, so visiting craft from the canals could only reach the rally via the Welches Dam / Horseways route. The advertised intention that Fenatic III in 1974 would be ‘a final clearance before the cut is filled ready for the gathering of boats in June’, proved a little optimistic, with a fourth event being necessary (with use of mechanical plant – a dragline for dredging finally allowed) a year later, before Well Creek was finally reopened on 1 June 1975, with a celebration of the work appearing in Navvies 55. Meanwhile, already by Navvies 47 (February 1974), the volunteer focus in the eastern watereays had moved to the Bedford

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Martin Ludgate

closure of Horseway Lock and obstruction of Bevill’s Leam, to positive effect, enabling navigation to be maintained. (A pumping station and change of water levels for flood control reasons did in fact block Bevill’s Leam and cut off what had been a navigable circuit in the south west corner of the Middle Level, but at least access to the waterways in this area was maintained by the provision From Navvies 130, WRG North West clearing Welches Dam Lock of the new Lodes End Lock). Navvies 121 reports on end of the Great Ouse, at Great Barford Lock. an extra working party held by WRG NW in Here volunteers worked every weekend March 1990 in response to a plea from the between May and September, plus two weeks IWA to clear Welches Dam Lock so that it in the summer, moving stone from the decould be measured for new gates. NW found molished old lock to create gabions around that there was only a foot of mud to be the new lock being built by contractors, while cleared, and because the situation of the lock dodging the floods caused by rapidly rising within the flood bank made tipping barrows river levels when it rained. Great Barford easy, the work was completed on the SaturLock saw the first outing for WRG’s first full day. They spent Sunday on a tour of the size hydraulic digger, cover star of the milearea, and praised the enthusiastic local group stone edition 50. This marked the final and excellent accommodation. WRG BITM stages of a restoration which had begun in were due to visit in June, ‘if WRG NW have the 1950s as a flood-control scheme, and left it standing’. Pictures of the work appear been continued by the Great Ouse Retoration in issues 120 and 123, including Malcolm Society. It was completed and Bedford was Bridge and Roger Day in action with the finally reconnected to the sea in 1978. barrow hoist. The lock was formally reoThere appears to have been little volun- pened by the National Rivers Authority teer work in the Fens in the 1980s. IWA (predecessor to the EA) in March 1991, but issued writs against the Middle Level Comwas only actually navigable on occasional missioners early in the decade, opposing the weekends, because the approach channel

The Well Creek route (seen at Salters Lode) is now the regular way across the Middle Level...

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appears to be paying off. A brief explanation of the name: the original Project Hereward (which took its name from famous historic Fenland rebel leader Hereward the Wake) was a 1990s scheme to lengthen locks to allow full-length boats to get through the Middle Level via the Well Creek route. Project Hereward II was a more wide-ranging scheme to create an inland trhough route all the way from the Witham to the Nene with a combination of formerly navigable waterway (Black Sluice Drain), parts of existing waterways (rivers Glen and Welland) and new links based on existing drainage channels (Welland to Nene). This developed into the Fens Link, a scheme championed by the EA which got as far as achieving its first goal of reopening the Black Sluice Drain via a new lock at Boston, before the EA found itself too short of funds (and, some would say, interest in navigation) to make much further progress. So to keep things moving, the people involved in Hereward I and II (who between them have a great deal of experience going back to the restorations mentioned earlier in this article, as well as links with local IWA branches, the East Anglian Waterways Association and other organisations) have launched Project Hereward III as a campaign to get the route via Welches Dam and Horseway locks open again. First job is to get EA permission to get a suitably qualified person into Welches Dam lock to assess what needs doing to fix it. They suspect that the answer might be ‘not a

Martin Ludgate

leaked, and so water levels were normally kept at too low a level for navigation. Inevitably this led to a lack of use, resulting in an IWA campaign cruise in 2005, which found the channel to be overgrown, but the locks still usable. Only a year later though, in 2006, fears about the condition of Welches Dam lock led the EA to pile it off, in which state it has remained ever since. Ironically, in the same year, the IWA had succeeded in extending navigation elsewhere on the Middle Level, by arranging for the Royal Engineers to raise a very low bridge at Ramsey Hollow - which would have made the Welches Dam route a lot more useful for many boaters; while the closure meant that boaters travelling to the 2007 National Festival at St Ives on the Great Ouse had no option but to go round via Well Creek. A decade on, not only has the situation not been resolved, but the connecting Old Bedford River has become silted and difficult to even navigate as a dead-end from the Denver end. The EA, which in theory has a legal duty to maintain Welches Dam Lock, has not only failed to put it back in working order, but turned down offers by waterways organisations including WRG to provide volunteer labour to repair it - and even to inspect it. (Apparently the EA can’t allow anyone into the lock because it can’t trust the piles which its own team put in to hold the water back, as it has no records of how the work was done!) Recently, however, persistence by an organisation called Project Hereward III

...but now the southern through route is dry and weed-filled, with Welches Dam Lock unusuable

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great deal’ - mostly pointing and a bit of patching - in which case they may have (or be able to apply for) enough money to do it, if volunteer labour can be used. And that’s where we come in. Once that’s done, the piling dam can come out (subject to whatever discussions need to be had with a government body which put the piles in but doesn’t know how!) But what really needs doing to ensure that it doesn’t fall derelict for a third time is to sort out the channel from there to Horseway, so it can be kept watered and open to boats all the time as a useful alternative to the Well Creek route, not just opened on the odd weekend in summer. And that looks like it will mean lining the channel which won’t be cheap. But why do we need two routes across the Middle Level, you might ask. Well, three reasons (quite apart from the fact that it just seems wrong to let the authorities get away with simply letting a perfectly good and legally navigable waterway shut)...

(2) Since the raising of Ramsey Hollow Bridge, its headroom is less tight than the other route (albeit its locks are shorter) (3) In the long term, there’s a chance of making the Old Bedford River navigable southwards from Welches Dam, through to Earith. This wouldn’t be simple or cheap, but it could provide a route that would avoid the slightly awkward tidal trip from Salters Lode to Denver, making the Great Ouse easier to get to. That’s for the future. For now, the priority is to get Welches Dam Lock open - and that means volunteers may well be needed in the not-too-distant future. Watch this space! Harri Barnes plus report of recent and current developments by Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

(1) Well Creek is going to need some serious

maintenance sooner or later - its banks are suffering from the long-term after-effects of the roads along its banks beind widened several decades ago, and are gradually slipping in. As it stands, a lengthy closure would cut off the entire Great Ouse system.

Head of Welches Dam Lock, showing the piles the EA put in but doesn’t know how to take out

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50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 50 from 50

As Navvies magazine continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary year, here are 50 canal restoration projects that WRG and its predecessors have supported during that half century... 1 Ashby Canal. Northern 8 miles of canal from Sharestone to original terminus at Moira abandoned progressively due to mining subsidence from the 1940s to the 1960s. Restoration supported since 1966 by Ashby Canal Association. Isolated section reopened at Moira, first lengths at Snarestone opened in recent years, WRG Canal Camp this summer working on reopening first bridge beyond current limit of navigation. 2 Ashton and Peak Forest Canal. Never abandoned but fell derelect from lack of maintenance in early 1960s. Major campaign for reopening (to complete the Cheshire Ring) involved IWA and Peak Forest Canal Society. Restoration work included Operation Ashton and Ashtac ‘big dig’ major volunteer working parties. Reopened in 1974. 3 River Avon (Warwickshire). Lower Avon restoration already completed before Navvies began publishing. Upper Avon restoration from Evesham to Stratord - actually the complete re-creation of a former river navigation with brand new locks - led by Upper Avon Navigation Trust and masterminded by the late David Hutchings with large amounts of volunteer labour. Reopened in 1974. 4 Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals. Abandoned 1953 and 1961 after suffering from problems caused by mining subsidence. Barnsley Dearne & Dove Canal Trust hopes to restore both, although major diversions will be needed especially on the Dearne & Dove: no current volunteer projects but WRG has worked on both canals in the past, particularly the Dearne & Dove at Elsecar Basin. 5 Basingstoke Canal. Never officially closed but fell into dereliction around the early 1960s. Surrey & Hants Canal Society (now Basingstoke Canal Society) founded 1966 and begain restoration in 1970s following buyout of canal company by local authorities. Supported by WRG and other regional groups including series of KESCRG summer camps in 1980s. Reopened in 1991. Much volunteer work since then, mainly concentrated on dealing with problems of inadequate water supply and insufficient maintenance funding. 6 Buckingham Canal. Arm of the Grand Union, fell derelict 1932 and abandoned 1964. Buckingham Canal Society has supported restoration since 1992 with support from RG regional groups. Re-watering recently began on lengths at both ends of canal. 7 Bude Canal. Majority of canal built for small tub-boats (which could access the inclined plane boat lifts), abandoned in 1891. Short length built to barge size and connecting with the sea survived longer, with sea lock still navigable. Bude Canal Trust and Bude Canal & Harbour Society support preservation of remains of canal and restoration of barge section - where WRG has supported restoration of locks. 8 Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals. Caldon became unnavigable in early 1960s. Restoration led by Caldon Canal Society. Reopened in 1974. Reopened first length of Uttoxeter Canal as new terminus of Caldon Canal in 2005, then renamed itself to Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust with aim of reopening entire Uttoxeter Canal. Current main focus of attention is the area around Crumpwood, supported by WRG 2015 Reunion and Canal Camps this year. 9 Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Topmost lock and section in Chelmsford fell derelict in 1970s. Restoration campaign led by Chelmsford IWA with WRG support. Reo-

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pened in 1992. Now run by IWA subsidiary Essex Waterways (after original company went bankrupt) with volunteer support including WRG canal camps (see elsewhere in this issue). 10 Chesterfield Canal. Abandoned west of Norwood Tunnel after tunnel collapse in 1907. Section between Worksop and Norwood subsequently fell derelict, rest of canal only survived thanks to Retford & Worksop Boat Club’s efforts in 1960s. Full restoration of derelict length supported by Chesterfield Canal Trust since 1976. Worksop to Norwood and Chesterfield to Staveley lengths reopened, current focus of volunteer work with WRG support at Staveley Town Lock (see elsewhere in this issue). 11 Cotswold Canals. Collective name for the restoration of the Thames & Severn Canal, abandoned between 1927 and 1954, which between them form the through route across southern England. Cotswold Canals Trust (and predecessors) has supported restoration since 1972, with a number of lengths restored, a major Lottery funded (and WRG supported) sixmile length nearing completion, and a bid submitted for four more miles to link it to the canal network. Lots of Canal Camps at different sites on the canal this year. 12 Cromford Canal. Abandoned between 1900 and 1944. Cromford Canal Society worked on restoration of northern end between 1960s and Society’s demise in 1980s. Friends of Cromford Canal now working for full restoration. Southernmost length at Langley Mill restored by Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association. 13 Derby Canal. Abandoned 1960 but already derelict by then. Restoration supported by Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust since 1994, with work carried out at Borrowash Lock and elsewhere (including WRG 1994 Reunion). 14 Driffield Navigation. Locks fell derelict and bridges lowered from 1950s. Driffield Navigation Amenities Association founded 1968 and (after initial legal problems) has restored most of waterway with just one road bridge and a few minor problems to deal with. Supported by WRG camps in recent years. 15 Droitwich Canals. Abandoned 1939. Droitwich Canal Trust formed in 1973 and restoration began with WRG Big Dig. Much of canals restored by volunteers including numerous Canal Camps over following 35 years. Final major works for completion supported by Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Reopened in 2011. 16 Forth & Clyde Canal. Abandoned 1963 to avoid need for motorway crossing. Forth & Clyde Canal Society formed to campaign for reopening, supported by WRG Canal Camps in late 1990s. Millennium Fund Lottery grant supported full resoration plus together with Union Canal and Falkirk Wheel. Reopened in 2001. 17 Grand Western Canal. North eastern tub-boat length abandoned 1867, south western barge section abandoned 1962. Barge section restored by Devon Council. Reopened in 1971. Tub-boat section under restoration / conservation by Grand Western Canal Trust with support from WRG, particularly WRG Forestry at Nynehead Lift site. 18 Grantham Canal. Abandoned in 1936. Campaign for restoration led by Grantham Canal Society since 1970s has achieved reopening of summit pound and top three locks at Woolsthorpe. Canal Camps this summer at Woolsthorpe: see elsewhere in this issue. 19 Great Ouse. Upper reaches fell derelict in 19th Century. Restoration work initially carried out for flood control purposes, reopening completed for navigation under Great Ouse Restoration Society leadership. Reopened in 1978. 20 Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal. Abandoned 1881 and part of route used for a railway. Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust has campaigned for restoration since 1983 and rewatered several sections including the major WRG-supported project at Over Basin, Gloucester, in 1999-2000 and 2012 Vineyard Hill extension of this length. 21 Hollinwood Branch. Abandoned 1955-1961 (but already derelict). Restoration supported by Hollinwood Canal Society since 2004, clearance and restoration work carried out with support from WRG North West. 22 Huddersfield Canal. Abandoned in 1944, most locks demolished. Huddersfield Canal Society formed 1974 and carried out significant volunteer work with WRG support in the

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early years especially at Uppermill and Diggle, before bulk of major engineering work took place with local authority backing and large lottery grant. Reopened in 2001. 23 Kennet & Avon Canal. Fell derelict owing to neglect in the 1950s. Kennet & Avon Canal Association (now Trust) formed in 1951 and led campaign for restoration, with significant volunteer input especially in early days, but latterly major engineering carried out by contractors. Reopened in 1990. 24 Lancaster Canal. Northern reaches abandoned and blocked in several places when M6 motorway built in early 1960s. Lancaster Canal Trust (and predecessors) campaigning for restoration since 1960s. Work carried out at various sites on abandoned length, most recently on rewatering the first dry length of canal with Canal Camp support. 25 Lapal Canal. Part of the Dudley No 2 Canal abandoned after Lapal Tunnel collapsed in 1917. Lapal Canal Trust has campaigned for restoration since 1990 and has carried out restoration work, with the current project at Selly Oak Park near the east end of the canal supported by this summer’s Canal Camps. 26 Lichfield and Hatherton Canals. Abandoned 1950s. Restoration of both canals supported by Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust since 1990, with work carried out at several sites mainly on Lichfield Canal including the current worksite at Tamworth Road (see elsewhere in this issue) as well as successfully cam16 paigning for navigable M6 Toll crossings for Hatherton Canal and fundraising for 24 motorway aqueduct 14 for Lichfield Canal. 32

27 Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal. Mostly abandoned after a major breach in 1936. Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society formed to restore canal in 1987, and has carried out work at various sites particularly around the spectacular Nob End location with aqueduct and staircase locks. Section at Manchester / Salford end opened in 2008. 28 Melton Mowbray Navigation. River navigation based on the River Wreake, abandoned in 1877. Restoration supported by the Melton & Oakham Waterways Society since

34 36

27 35 21 22 02

05 10 12 13

08 29

37

01

26 41

18

38

28

47

25

15 20

30

40

06 09

48

11

45 31

43

19

03

50 46

23 39

04 49

17

44

33

07 42

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1997. First bridge at junction with River Soar recently raised to navigable height as part of SusTrans cycleway project, trip boat operation established in Melton. 29 Montgomery Canal. Abandoned 1944. Restoration launched in 1969, and supported since then by Shropshire Union Canal Society, IWA, Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust. Long lengths reopened including Frankton to Gronwen and Arddleen via Welshpool to Refail with significant volunteer input including SUCS and WRG - whose largest single project was the Aston Nature Reserve construction. See also article in this issue. 30 Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals. Originally the Monmouthshire Canal and the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, this route was abandoned progressively from the late 19th century to 1962. The northern B&A section was restored largely by National Park funding by 1970, but the more difficult Monmouthshire Canal main line and Crumlin Arm have been under restoration ever since, led by Monmouthshire Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust. Most recently the local authority supported Ty-Coch locks restoration has hosted a number of canal camps and is scheduled for opening this autumn. 31 Neath Canal. Went out of use in the 1930s but retained as a water supply channel for industry. Neath & Tennant Canals Trust has been working to restore the canal (along with the connected Tennant Canal) since 1974 (with occasional support from WRG and the Dig Deep initiative), and has reopened two significant lengths of canal. 32 Pocklington Canal. Fell derelict after trade ended in the 1930s. Pocklington Canal Amenity Society has supported restoration since 1969, and restored over half of the length of the canal from the River Derwent. Following slow progress for a number of years (partly because of nature conservation issues) current project to reopen two more miles is under way, supported by WRG Canal Camp this summer. 33 Portsmouth & Arundel Canal. Abandoned as a through route from River Arun to Portsmouth Harbour in 1855, but surviving length serving Chichester Basin survived until 1892. Chichester Ship Canal Trust has restored (with occasional WRG support)and reopened the upper half of the Chichester line for trip boats and local boating, but does not plan to restore the remainder. 34 Ribble Link. Billed as Britain’s first new waterway for 100 years (pedants feel free to debate this point!) this new navigation from the Lancaster Canal to the Ribble estuary (and thus to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the rest of the waterways network) was mainly built with Millennium funding but volunteers carried out work including a footbridge built with Canal Cams support. Opened in 2002. 35 Rochdale Canal. Abandoned 1952 apart from 1 mile and 9 locks (‘the Rochdale Nine’) in Manchester. Rochdale Nine repaired during Cheshire Ring campaign (see Ashton and Peak Forest); restoration of remainder of canal supported by Rochdale Canal Society from 1974 onwards with some early volunteer input (including WRG) but most work funded by job creation, Lottery and regeneration money. Reopened in 2002. 36 Sankey Canal. Abandoned progressively from 1930s to early 1960s. Restoration supported by Sankey Canal Restoration Society from 1985 onwards, with several sections restored and plans for reopening of a section from Widnes to Fidlers Ferry. 37 Shrewsbury & Newport Canals. Abandoned 1944. Restoration proposed at various times since early 1960s, most recently by Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust which has carried out work in recent years at two sites - Forton Aqueduct and Meretown Lock (with another Canal Camp planned this summer) - in the Newport area, as well as supporting the restoration and conversion of the Thomas Telford Wappenshall Warehouse to a canal centre. 38 Sleaford Navigation. Closed between the late 19th Century and the 1940s. Since 1972 the Sleaford Navigation Trust has been working to restore the navigation, reopening the first lock and lower length of canal in the 1980s, a section at the top end in Sleaford in recent years, and working on several locks between. 39 Somersetshire Coal Canal. Abandoned in 1902 and part of it used for a railway. Somersetshire Coal Canal Society formed in the late 1980s initially mainly to study the re-

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mains of the canal, later changed its aims to include reopening, and restored and re-watered a length of canal at the top end near Timsbury, supported by visiting WRG groups. 40 River Stour Navigation. Abandoned in 1937. The River Stour Trust has been working to restore the river navigation since 1968, and has reopened two locks at the lower end of the river and built one new one at the top, as well as restoring an original Stour Lighter, the craft that worked on the river. 41 Stourbridge Canal. Never officially abandoned but allowed to fall derelict in the early 1960s, when volunteers took matters into their own hands and started to restore it in the face of legal threats from the navigation authority. Better relations with the new British Waterways enabled volunteers to work on restoring the 16 locks in the mid-1960s. Reopened 1967. 42 Stover Canal. Abandoned in 1943 (although the upper section had become derelict). Stover Canal Society has been working to restore it, and after protracted negotiations with its owners Network Rail (and predecessors) it has begun work on Graving Dock Lock and other sites. Canal Camp planned for this summer. 43 Stowmarket Navigation. Also known as the River Gipping or Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation, disused in the 1920s and abandoned in the 1930s. Restoration began in the 1990s led by the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association, which then passed it on to the new River Gipping Trust in 2007. So far four locks have been restored, with WRG support. 44 Sussex Ouse Navigation. The non-tidal lengths of the river ceased to be used by boats in the 1860s. Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust is working to restore the waterway and has rebuilt Isfield Lock, with support from local groups including WRG and KESCRG. 45 Swansea Canal. Abandoned in stages from 1928 to 1957. Restoration begun in 1981 by Swansea Canal Society, which hopes to restore the six miles that have survived the new road building and development which have destroyed much of the top and bottom ends of the canal - and ultimately link it to the Neath and Tennant canals by new links. Canal Camp planned for this summer at the current work site, Trebanos Locks. 46 Thames & Medway Canal. Abandoned as a through route when Strood Tunnel was converted to railway use in 1846, although the remainder of the canal was in use until the 1930s. Thames & Medway Canal Association aims to restore the length from Gravesend to Strood, has rewatered part of this section, and has been supported in recent years by visits from London WRG and KESCRG. 47 Well Creek. Fell into disuse in 1969 with the failure of Marchmont Priory Lock and silting of the channel. Restored largely by volunteers including a series of ‘Fenatic’ working parties - see our Fens Feature in this issue. Reopened in 1975. 48 Wendover Arm. Abandoned due to leakage problems in 1897, and its water supply function replaced by a pipeline for part of its length. Since the 1980s the Wendover Arm Trust has been working to restore it, the majority of the work being concerned with rebuilding the dry section as a lined waterproof channel - see progress reports in Navvies. First section at Tringford reopened in 2005, further lengths re-watered. 49 Wey & Arun Canal. Abandoned 1871. Wey & Arun Canal Society (later Trust) formed in 1972 (to much scepticism!) to restore the canal, and has since restored and built numerous structures including locks, bridges (including a main road) and a new aqueduct. Canal Camps planned for this summer: see also Camps Preview. 50 Wilts & Berks Canal. Abandoned 1914. In 1977 the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group was formed to save what was left of it, and subsequently changed its aims to include full restoration and later its name to Wilts & Berks Canal Trust. A number of locks, bridges and other structures restored along the canal (and its branch the North Wilts Canal) with WRG support, plus a new length of the canal (which will form part of the route bypassing Swindon) built as part of a housing development. Is that it? We’re sure there must be other waterway restoration schemes whose progress Navvies has supported and reported over the last half century. Feel free to tell the editor about any we’ve missed, and we’ll give them a mention in the next issue. Thank you. ...Ed

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Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Apr 30-May 1IWA May 6-12 WAT May 7/8 KESCRG May 7/8 London WRG May 7/8 wrgNW May 14 Sat LT2016 May 14/15 NWPG May 14 Sat wrgNW May 14 Sat WRG May 15 Sun WRG May 20/21/22 wrgBITM Jun 3-9 WAT Jun 4/5 Essex WRG Jun 4/5 KESCRG Jun 18/19 London WRG Jun 11/12 NWPG Jun 11-18 Camp 201607 Jun 11/12 TW2016 Jun 18/19 wrgBITM Jun 18-25 Camp 201608 Jun 25 Sat wrgNW Jun 25-Jul 2 Camp 201609 Jul 1-7 WAT Jul 1 Navvies Jul 2-9 Camp 201610 Jul 2-9 Camp 201611 Jul 3-9 Camp 201612 Jul 9/10 KESCRG Jul 9/10 London WRG Jul 9-16 Camp 201613 Jul 9-16 Camp 201614 Jul 9-16 Camp 201615 Jul 16/17 wrgBITM Jul 16/17 wrgNW Jul 16-23 Camp 201616 Jul 16-23 Camp 201617 Jul 17 Sun WRG Jul 23-30 Camp 201618

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice. Site services volunteers wanted before Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping, and profiling & lining Wendover Arm: Whitehouses Chesterfield Canal: Joint dig with WRG North West Chesterfield Canal: Joint dig with London WRG Leaders Training Day Cotswold Canals: Bowbridge or Lower Wallbridge Locks ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Leader Training Day: Rowington Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Rickmansworth Waterways Festival: Site services (open to public on Sa Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping, and profiling & lining Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation To be arranged Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Cotswold Canals: Bowbridge or Lower Wallbridge Locks Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock WRG Training Weekend To be arranged Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping, and profiling & lining Press date for issue 278 (including WRG / canal societies directory) Monmouthshire Canal Wey & Arun Canal: NWPG’s Summer camp Grantham Canal Cotswold Canals: Joint dig with London WRG Cotswold Canals: joint dig with KESCRG Monmouthshire Canal Wey & Arun Canal: Leader: Rob Nicholson Grantham Canal To be arranged To be arranged Swansea Canal Grantham Canal Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Village Hall Cotswold Canals

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

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Canal Camps cost ÂŁ63 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

e and after event

at 21 & Sun 22)

George Rogers Roger Leishman Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis Malcolm Bridge Bill Nicholson Barry McGuinness Jenny Black Mike Palmer Dave Wedd Roger Leishman John Gale Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis Bill Nicholson

Dave Wedd Barry McGuinness Roger Leishman Martin Ludgate

Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis

Dave Wedd Malcolm Bridge

Mike Palmer

07789 493967 01442-874536 07971-814986 07802-518094 01422-820693 01494-783453 01844-343369 0161-681-7237 01494-783453 01564-785293 07816-175454 01442-874536 01376-334896 07971-814986 07802-518094 01844-343369 01494-783453 01494-783453 07816-175454 01494-783453 0161-681-7237 01494-783453 01442-874536 07779-478629 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07971-814986 07802-518094 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07816-175454 01422-820693 01494-783453 01494-783453 01564-785293 01494-783453

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

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 21


Navvies diary

canal society regulars

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

BBHT BCA

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

BCT BuCS

Aqueduct section Buckingham area

Tim Dingle Athina Beckett

01288-361356 01908-661217

Every Mon and Wed Every mon am Thu pm

CCT CCT

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

01453-836018 01285-861011

Various dates Every Sunday

CCT ChCT

Cotswold Phase 1a Chesterfield Canal

07986-351412 01246-620695

Every Tue and Thu Every Tue & Wed

CSCT C&BN

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

Every Friday Second Sun of month

ECPDA FIPT

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

H&GCT H&GCT

Over Wharf House Over / Vineyard Hill

Maggie Jones Ted Beagles

01452 618010 01452 522648

Thursdays Every weekday

H&GCT KACT/CRT

Herefordshire Bradford on Avon

Wilf Jones Derrick Hunt

01452 413888 01225-863066

2nd Sunday of month Every Wed/Sat/Sun

LCT LHCRT

Lancaster N. Reaches Keith Tassart Lichfield Terry Brown

01524-424761 01889-576574

3rd Sunday of month Last weekend of month

LHCRT MBBCS

Hatherton Creams Paper Mill

Denis Cooper Steve Dent

01543-374370 07802-973228

Two Sundays per month Weekly

NWDCT PCAS

N Walsham Canal Pocklington Canal

David Revill Dick Watson

01603-738648 01759-305025

Every Wed and 1st Sat 2nd Sunday of month

RGT SCARS

Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird Sankey Canal John Hughes

01394-380765 01744-600656

1st Sunday of month Last weekend of month

SCCS SCS

Combe Hay Locks Stover Canal

Derrick Hunt 01225-863066 George Whitehead 01626-775498

2nd Sunday of month Every Thu and Sat

SNT SORT

Sleaford Navigation Sussex Ouse

Mel Sowerby Ted Lintott

1st weekend of month Every Tuesday morning

SUCS TMCA

Montgomery Canal David Carter Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish

01244-661440 01732-823725

Wey & Arun Canal Northern office 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)

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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 Debbie Vidler 07825-099167 3rd Thursday of month East London Lee & Stort Navs Debbie Vidler 07825-099167 3rd Tuesday of month West London Grand Union Canal Debbie Vidler 07825-099167 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

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

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

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

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

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Navvies diary

IWA branches...

Inland Waterways Association and other one-day working parties Mar 10 Thu Mar 12 Sat Mar 12/13 Mar 13 Sun Mar 13 Sun Mar 17 Thu Mar 19 Sat Mar 22 Tue Mar 23 Wed Mar 25 Fri Mar 26 Sat Mar 29 Tue Apr 2 Sat Apr 2 Sat Apr 2/3 Every Wed Apr 9 Sat Apr 9/10 Apr 10 Sun Apr 10 Sun Apr 10 Sun Apr 13 Wed Apr 14 Thu Apr 15/16 Apr 16-17 Apr 16 Sat Apr 16 Sat Apr 21 Thu Apr 22 Fri Apr 26 Tue Apr 26 Tue Apr 27 Wed

IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Veg clearance at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10amRGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm WBDCS/IWA BBCW Worcester Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns 9:30am-3pm IWA Northants Northampton Arm SNT/IWA Lincs Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amIWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10amIWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm WBDCS/IWA BBCW Worcester Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns 9:30am-3pm IWA NSSC Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10amIWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10amIWA Northants Northampton Arm IWA Middx/FoSC Slough Canal: Big Cleanup, meet 9am at Salvation Army Hall IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA Warks/ANT River Avon: Stan Clover Lock at Luddington. 09:30 Painting RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm WBDCS/IWA BBCW Worcester Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns 9:30am-3pm IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section IWA Northants Northampton Arm SNT/IWA Lincs Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section IWA BBCW Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Veg clearance at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10amIWA Milton KeynesGrand Union Canal: Spring Cleanup, grappling & litter picking, Fenny BCNS/CCT/DCT etc BCN Clean Up: The big annual cleanup. Accom available with WRG IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10amIWA Warks Grand Union Canal: Veg cut-back and clearance at Hatton IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amIWA NSSC Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10amIWA Northants Northampton Arm IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm WBDCS/IWA BBCW Worcester Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns 9:30am-3pm

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.

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...and other one-day work

Navvies diary

For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 3pm

3pm 4pm

12:30 4pm

3pm to Wolverton

Robert Frost Martin Bird Bill Lambert Geoff Wood Chris or Steve Hayes John Brighouse Steve Wood Bill Lambert Bob Luscombe Mike Carter Geoff Wood Emma Matthars Steve Wood Martin Bird Martin Bird Bill Lambert Chris or Steve Hayes Geoff Wood Chris or Steve Hayes David Struckett Robert Frost Philip Strangeway

4pm 3pm 12:30

07743-628091 01394-380765 02476-726924 01522-689460 07808-878317 07710-554602 07976-805858 02476-726924 07710-054848 07795-617803

07976-805858 01394-380765 01394-380765 02476-726924 01522-689460 01522-689460 07976-746225 07743-628091

07710-554602 John Brighouse Bob Luscombe Geoff Wood Steve Wood Bill Lambert

07808-878317 07710-054848 07976-805858 02476-726924

robert.frost@waterways.org.uk restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk volunteers@wbdcs.org.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk workparties@sleafordnavigation.co.uk john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk secretary@manchester-iwa.co.uk steve.wood@waterways.org.uk volunteers@wbdcs.org.uk bob.luscombe@waterways.org.uk mike.carter@waterways.org.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk emma.matthars@waterways.org.uk steve.wood@waterways.org.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk volunteers@wbdcs.org.uk workparties@sleafordnavigation.co.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk workparties@sleafordnavigation.co.uk david.struckett@waterways.org.uk robert.frost@waterways.org.uk philip.strangeway@waterways.org.uk secretary@manchester-iwa.co.uk info.warwickshire@waterways.org.uk john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk bob.luscombe@waterways.org.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk steve.wood@waterways.org.uk volunteers@wbdcs.org.uk

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

London.

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

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Progress Swansea

Our regular roundup of restoration progress from around Britain begins this time in South Wales, where the Swansea Canal Society is preparing to welcome WRG this summer...

being well spent. Vale Inco recently donated two towpath Ynyscedwyn Scout hut booked: 3 trolleys which have been very useful to us Trebanos Community Hall booked: 3 when we cart our materials from the depot Canal & River Trust asked to replace stop to site. New sleepers will be purchased to planks in the Upper Trebanos Lock asap: 3 place along the full length of the top of the So far, so good for the WRG camp chamber, stop planks will be replaced, and preparations. With three previous camps at repointing of the chamber completed. A the same site, other small but very necessary breeze-block wall on the towpath boundary, domestic arrangement really take care of owned by our canal-friendly neighbourhood themselves. Access to toilets in the Trebanos blacksmith, will be replaced with traditional Garage and in the Trebanos Rugby Club can stone. Much of one lock gate at the downbe taken as read though courtesy calls will be stream end remains intact. Long term, and essential. The Riding School next to the lock, subject to further funding in the pipeline, it which allows us to leave all the heavy equip- will need replacing but as opening the gate ment there overnight, must also be kept involves a rare pulley system it is good to ‘onside’. Take nothing for granted, learn from have the template still existing. We will be your mistakes. This is the mantra. Unlike displaying our 5 foot scale model of the fully last year, we must ensure we have more of restored lock at the Clydach Library from our own volunteers working on site on the Saturday, February 20th. first Sunday WRG arrive. We are all in this There we are. Article to Navvies with together and solidarity is vital. progress report: 3 Downstream at Clydach Lock, we have Martin Davies Secretary, Swansea Canal Society secured funding from both Vale Inco Nickel works and the Martin Wills Wildlife Fund to continue the lock’s restoration. We will have started work there on Sunday 28 February, with support from the staff of the local Marks and Spencer arriving on the following Tuesday. As the Vale Inco works is right next to the lock we will need to show them that their conPreparing to start work at Clydach Lock tribution is

Swansea Canal

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Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

Progress

Previous progress reports from the two canals around the M6 toll road were written by Brian Kingshott who was Chairman of the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. Sadly Brian passed away in January of this year – his funeral at a little village church in Hopton Castle was very well attended, and there will also be a Memorial Service at the school in Wolverhampton where he taught for many years. David Dixon was Vice-Chairman and has taken over as Chairman for the time being. A much smaller regular task Brian did was to write our reports for Navvies. I’ve been asked to cover this... Work has continued at the Tamworth Road site on the edge of Lichfield, and we have a solution for the lining of the banks of the channel which will have to remain watertight notwithstanding the expected rise and fall of the water level in the pound. It is called concrete canvas, and we’ll include more information about this in a future article for Navvies. The Summerhill section has continued to make progress – the power supply to the quarry is now completed – it runs under our towpath. This will be extended to power the backpump for the new lock to be built on the east side of the M6 Toll aqueduct at the relevant time. A team led by Roger Barnett has been laying a low towpath Crane Brook culvert (M6 Toll aqueduct almost hidden in trees) hedge – now about half way along, so confident of completing this task with another season’s work starting in the autumn. The culvert which will carry the canal over the Crane Brook was done by contractors – Navvies 272 showed it under construction – the photos show it complete. The next stage of construction is the pedestrian ramps, formed of scaffolding, to connect the towpaths to the footway Block walls to form cores of the canal banks over the culvert, over the aqueduct. The planning application for this (right) and retaining wall beside the access track from the quarry to the east end of the aqueduct where a new lock is needed. has been submitted. Discussions continue with the local authority and Network Rail about the culvert we need under the railway for the Lichfield Canal to the east of the city. Luke Walker

Lichfield & Hatherton

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Progress Wendover Arm

Meanwhile the Wendover Arm Trust report on the continuing reprofiling and lining of the channel, and developments at the former Whitehouses pumping station

of the restoration who died recently and left a bequest to be used for restoration. January and February working parties: only Whitehouses: After what seems a bulk excavation was possible and even this long time of starts and stops CRT have now was curtailed by the bad weather. Neverthe- completed all their work at Whitehouses that less pipe capping (covering over the canal has been holding up our restoration work. water supply pipe installed in the canal bed The good work to the old settling tank when the canal ran dry), bulk excavation and by KESCRG has now been covered by CRT rough profiling of the banks is mainly comwith a galvanised steel grid as a safety measplete to within 100 metres of the end of Stage ure although the public will be able to view 3. Several other tasks were undertaken... what is going on underneath. Along the section from the cart track You can see in the picture (opposite entrance at Little Tring to Bridge 4A entries page, bottom), beyond the main grid, the for water were made at all the manholes in CRT contractor putting the finishing touches order to drain the bed as quickly as possible to the grid over the new manhole. after rain. This length is notorious for its Once re-watering is complete up to pools of water and it is hoped this problem Tring Summit level the adjustable weir that will be alleviated. you can see in the former settling tank will The storage site at Little Tring was take water from the canal through the three tidied up, including making space for a new short culverts through the wharf wall into delivery of Bentomat later in the year, and a the right hand side of the weir. skip full of rubbish taken off site. Once the desired water level has been The base for a bench seat was excareached, any surplus water from Wendover vated east of Bridge 4A where the footpath will weir into the left hand side of the settling leads down to Wilstone Reservoir. This bench tank and flow into the culvert that you can is in memory of Stuart Bell, a great supporter see in the back left hand corner into the new

Grand Union Wendover Arm

Latest section of channel to have pipe capped (in foreground) and rough profiling done

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manhole and, provided the sluice in the manhole is open, drop down the former pumping shaft into Wilstone Reservoir. The former pumping shaft is now accessed by a cast iron manhole cover just to the left of the new manhole. When KESCRG reinstated the coping stones on the wharf wall care was taken to position the hole and four holding-down bolts in one stone so that it lined up with the groove in the wharf wall where a paddle had been situated until it was moved to the manhole (under the concrete slab in the foreground) to act as a control to allow water from the 18" pipeline to drop down the former pumping shaft into Wilstone Reservoir. CRT has now moved it back to its original position and purpose including a new sluice gate as shown in the picture (right). Once restoration is complete this outlet into the former pumping shaft will allow the pound from stop planks at Drayton Beauchamp Bridge to stop planks at Bridge 4 to be completely drained and the water will not be lost to the canal as it will drop into Wilstone Reservoir. A new manhole has been constructed on the site of the prunus tree that had to be removed because the roots were damaging the brickwork of the settling tank and in the way of this new manhole. This manhole contains sluices to control water from Wendover into the former pumping shaft. KESCRG are booked to come for a weekend in May when they will make a start on landscaping the whole area at this site. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director Tel: 01442 874536, e-mail rwleishman@gmail.com Repositioned paddle and sluice

Whitehouses site with the grids installed

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Progress Chesterfield Canal Race against time at Staveley Basin

Chesterfield Canal Trust’s volunteers are involved in a race against time to get the new Staveley Lock and all the associated works complete for the Trailboat Festival at the end of May. Will they do it? Council. It is part of the Markham Vale development. The Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteers work under the direction of DCC engineers. Most of the visible work has been done by volunteers from the Trust, with periodic help from WRG volunteers - both week-long canal camps and regional groups’ working weekends. The bridge at the end of the lock, the bywash and the spill weir base were done by contractors. Everything else – the lock, the excavations, the walls, the L-shaped reinforcers, the blockwork, the brickwork – has all been done by volunteers.

Will Staveley Town Lock be completed and operating in time for the Festival on May 28th? The Chesterfield Canal Trust’s volunteer Work Party is striving valiantly to get everything completed, but bad weather and mechanical problems are making it really difficult. Work on the new lock itself is almost complete. Only the coping stones and the lock gates need to be fitted. The gates have already been made by Hargreaves and are in their works in Halifax. The main problem is completing the 300 metres of canal below the lock, known as Hartington Harbour. This area has been, at best, ankle deep in mud and at worst totally flooded since November. The Trust’s aging excavator, known as Denis, has developed frequent mechanical problems. JCB/TCHarrison has been magnificent in lending support to the Trust in helping to fix these breakdowns. Trustee in charge of the volunteers, Dave Kiddy, said: “I am very proud of our volunteers. Many have come to work on four or five days a week throughout the winter, frequently working in atrocious conditions.” It is a popular misconception that all that needs to be finished is the lock itself, but as Dave goes on to say: “We have to build the next bit of canal below the lock. We can’t just empty the water from the lock into a field, and we need a space for boats to turn round.” This site and the canal View from the tailbridge of the almost-complete lock belong to Derbyshire County

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The Chesterfield Canal Trust has invested around £100,000 so far in the project. Nearly half has come in donations, the rest has come from other activities like its tripboats, membership fees, sales etc. (As an example, a cubic metre of concrete costs over £80 and there are 300 cubic metres in Boats through here on 28 May? View from the top end of the new lock the lock alone.) Markham Vale pays for the contractors and has paid for some of the blocks and concrete and all of the Lshaped channel wall reinforcers. The lock gates were bought with a grant from Veolia. The Trust is hosting the National Trailboat Festival on behalf of the Inland Waterways Association on 28-29 - with boat rides, plenty of entertainment, children’s activitities, lots of stalls, and a real ale bar. It is hoped that it will also feature boats using the lock, turning in Hartington Harbour, and coming out again. But only if all the work is done by then... See the next Navvies for a report from our Easter camp at Staveley.

One of the weir culverts is lifted into place

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Progress Shrewsbury & Newport

Finally, Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust completes its first length of hedgelaying - and looks for more to do next winter

Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Meretown Hedgelaying complete: In March the Shrewsbury & Newport Canal Trust team completed the laying of the 140 metres of old hawthorn hedge between Meretown lock and the A41 on the east side of Newport. The hedge had become so vastly overgrown that it completely blocked the view to the north, with many of the trees dead and most overgrown with ivy, some of it over 100mm (4") thick. We started the project in November 2014 and it has taken some 9 workparties to do the job. The Canal & River Trust’s Roger Birch trained and supported us over this period and we owe him an enormous vote of thanks for his cheerful encouragement in even the worst weather. Meretown Lock now bears no resemblance to how it looked The last tree being laid when the SNCT first started to work on it. At that time the lock was invisible under a small forest of trees in the canal bed which had reached out to join with the trees of the old hedge and almost blocked the towpath – indeed, we had to cut some of this “tunnel” back to let people cycle through. Since then the WRGies and our members have removed the trees from the bed of the canal, exposed and repaired the lock and now we have completed the rehabilitation of this section of canal ready for restoration and re-watering With some 18-20 members plus volunteers from Harper Adams Conservation Group each The completed length of hedge month at our workparties and with over 30 people who have taken part, we have a strong group with experience of how to lay a hedge. Now we need a new overgrown hedge to work on next winter!

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Bob Coles makes an early bid for the most original canal camp report of 2016. Can you do better? The editor is awaiting your contributions... Chelmer & Blackwater camp February 2016 We came; we scraped; we shovelled; we loaded; we barrowed; we dumped; we spread; we wackered; we repeated; and, 150 tonnes of road planings and 720 metres later, we stopped. [Not long enough ...Ed] OK: We bowled; we quizzed; we drank; we ate; we viewed; we drank; we bantered; we sang; we drank; we laughed. [Still not enough ...Ed] OK: What about an in-depth interview with the team manager, Sir Bobby Crow? [Only if it’s long enough ...Ed]

Q: So, Sir Bobby, yet another team you’ve built for Chelmer FC – how do you assess

What’s the story about the

Camp Report Chelmer & Blackwater their performance in this latest EWL campaign? A: Well, overall, I thought they did pretty well after a sticky start. It’s always tough in this league because we don’t have a winter break and so conditions are always more challenging than those confronting the show ponies in teams like Weymoor Wanderers or Athletico Inglesham in the Cotswolds league. But we achieved our target, and chairman Roy was happy with the results.

Q: As you’ve said in previous seasons, good preparation is essential. Did you feel you had enough time with the squad before they got out on the pitch? A: Well, we had our usual session with the white board to sort out squad responsibilities. It’s important that everyone knows their job and what I expect of them. Then there was the usual viewing of the motivational DVD, which features some

Chelmer & Blackwater?

The Canal Camp project: clearing banks and surfacing towpaths Why? The waterway is undergoing a long process of gradual improvement by its owners Essex Waterways Ltd (a subsidiary of WRG’s parent body The Inland Waterways Association) Basin who took over to save it from closing down when the original company went bankrupt over a decade ago, having allowed it to get badly run down. But as a body with no regular public funding, EWL needs to rely on volunteer support otherwise it would struggle to keep the navigation open - let alone to improve it. The wider picture: EWL needs to not only keep the navigation in good condition for boaters, it has to encourage use and support of the waterway to attract funding grants from external bodies and keeping the towpath open and in good condition is part Beeleigh Heybridge of this. This is particularly Basin Hoe Mill R C important at he Blackwater lm the moment, er estuary Chelmsford Maldon with the The Haybay formerly very supportive barge Chelmer City Council having appointed a council leader who is much less helpful - to the point of publicly stating his opposition to an imaginative proposal (which his predecessors had backed) to extend navigation right into the the city centre via a new link to the upper Chelmer and Can rivers. While it seems that the best hope of getting this plan back on track would be for Councillor Whitehead to be voted out of office, in the meantime anything to improve the public profile of the waterway makes it harder for him to allow any developments which would block this long-term aspiration.

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of the most familiar players in the game as they were at the peak of their careers.

Q: Black and white, I imagine, if we’re going back that far? A: No, I don’t think so, although, to be honest, I usually nod off after a few seconds so can’t be sure. Q: And did it do the trick with the new young talent you brought in this season? A: I think by the end of it they were ready for anything, including banging their heads against the wall. The core of the squad were youngsters signed from Duke Nomads, some of whom are obviously used to playing in a much less-disciplined league; and to them we added some foreign imports and a few old pros with previous experience in the lower leagues.

Q: The game didn’t start particularly well for you… A: Not really. One of the lads we picked up from Edinburgh Boxtickers was a bit too keen after the kick-off and got an early yellow card. He was lucky to stay on the pitch, actually. Then things settled down, although the conditions underfoot were appalling: deep sticky mud, biting cold wind – very messy.

Q: Lionel Messi? A: Sorry…? Q: A lot of people talking about your Japanese loan signing… A: Young Kubota, you mean. Yes he made a real difference – multi-skilled, terrific engine, quite a big lad but really performed well. Not particularly self-motivated – you have to know how to work him – but really provided a strong spine to the midfield.

chanting “Bobby Crow: is your middle name Vel?” A: Don’t know what you’re talking about.

Q: There’s also talk in the pressroom of a few more disciplinary issues? A: Well look, I think these things can be blown out of all proportion under the media spotlight. We had a routine drugs test and one of our strikers tested positive for Toblerone. We’re waiting for the B sample to be tested.

Q: But there’s also talk of some of your star players and coaching staff being seen at a CAMRA beer festival and drinking more Dancing Duck Brewery’s ‘Waddle it be’ [intense fruity flavours of oranges, peaches and blackcurrants] than is appropriate for an athlete. A: No comment, although I can confirm that one of the squad is overdrawn at the Bottle Bank.

Q: Lol. Tell us a little more about your backroom staff. A: Well, Alex from the league head office was our IT consultant and Sports Scientist. He did a lot of video analysis and kept track of the performance stats. He’s still trying to figure out the negative pedometer readings we got from a couple of defenders.

Q: And I see you brought in two Sports Nutritionists. A: Yes, Dr. Ireson and Dr. Smith. Well, it’s so important that such finely-tuned athletes get the right balance of nutrients in order for them to perform at peak for the whole game.

Q: So grilled chicken and salad? A: Something like that, yes. But we need to

keep the energy levels up too, so a certain amount Q: And a surprise addition from Lokomotiv of cake is appropriate in a balanced diet. Dr. Wilczyce? Ireson’s famous apple cake was much in evidence: A: Yes. Our scouts discovered her and were delicious, except when he decided to use the impressed with her fitness stats, and huge prossmoke alarm as a timer. I also saw the odd sausage pects, so we did the deal and brought her into the sandwich at breakfast. squad. She formed a terrific partnership with Kubota – really knew how to press his buttons – Q: With red sauce, brown sauce or no and together they dug us out of a few tricky sauce at all? situations. A: Always a tricky one. I’m never quite sure. What would you choose? Q: Did the injury to Kubota cause any problems? Q: Well, for me, it has to be both together. A: Not really. It was just a slight friction burn in As a journalist, I need two sauces for everythe seat area… thing.

Q: Was that connected with the crowd

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A: Lol. But the nutrition team were completely


mystified by the size of the fish portion they bought in from the local chip shop.

A: Shall I open a window…?

Q: The Piece of Cod that Passeth all Un-

what’s next for you? A: Well, my playing days aren’t quite over yet, so you might well see me on a pitch near you soon, and then I’ve been asked to put together a couple of teams during the EWL closed season in the summer.

derstanding? A: You feeling OK?

Q: Yes, fine. And is it true that your trusty team coach is about to be replaced? A: Yes, I can confirm that, after so many years of faultless service, the time has come for a replacement. We’re hoping that the new executive transport will have air conditioning, card tables and coffee machine. But, sadly, the old iconic red bus has had its day. Even the best-designed and maintained vehicle comes to the end of its useful life eventually.

Q: Sick Transit Gloria Mundi?

Before...

Q: No, I’m OK. So, looking forward,

Q: Then it’s back to Chelmer FC for next season? A: No, I think it’s time to recharge the batteries, so I’ve booked a cruise next autumn.

Q: Bahamas? Caribbean? A: Warwickshire. Stylish, as ever. Sir Bobby, thank you. Bob Coles

...and after

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WRG NorthWest ...on the Montgomery Montgomery Update

Bob Dewey reports on WRG North West’s continuing search for the remains of a railway bridge which crossed the Montgomery at Pant

simply focus on completing the tree removal before the little birds come looking for places to build their homes. So it was that four of us turned up to carry on the project. Despite an average age over 60 we nevertheless achieved all that we set out to do. As we finally tirfored out the last stump a large stone was discovered which appeared to be the “missing” coping stone and it appeared to be in just the right place. Unfortunately we didn’t find any other walls to confirm it. We hope to return later in the year with a machine to dig down further and uncover the walls. CRT are being very supportive but at present they are concerned that we don’t reveal too much of the walls until they have been checked. We really could do with someone with the right civil engineering qualifications to join us for the weekend so that we don’t have to keep coming back every time we uncover half a metre. Free tea and biscuits to a suitable volunteer! And... if anyone wants 1500 cu m of ballast (contaminated but not hazardous)…. Thanks to all. Bob Dewey

Michael Limbrey

Long standing readers of this esteemed publication should sit down (standing up wil do your piles no good). Work on the removal of the Pant Embankment has been previously reported but for new readers... The Cambrian Railways main line between Welshpool and Oswestry used to cross the Montgomery Canal just south of Pant Railway Station. It was an iron girder bridge spanning between two large stone abutment walls. British Railways (it was so called in 1952) decided to replace the bridge by an embankment made of old railway ballast. It is unknown whether this was because of the rusting of the bridge, or damage to the abutments or just because they wanted a site to tip 1500 cubic yards (metres were not known in this part of the country at the time) of material. The canal and the towpath were simply blocked (hence Nicholson’s statement “towpath blocked”). In previous visits to the site, WRG Forestry removed some huge trees which had grown and the locals helped by removing the debris. We had also started to try and uncover the abutments. The one by the towpath side appears to be sound but we had some difficulty in finding the offside one. The Chairman found one end coping stone but we couldn’t find the other. The railway crossed the canal at a very skew angle. WRG North West arranged to come and do more exploratory digs and to remove the remaining over (or is it under) growth. All was set but shortly before the date, the numbers dwinFound it! The missing coping stone is uncovered dled and we decided to

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Help run a Canal Camp this Summer! The sunshine is booked, the ice-cream special offers at all major supermarkets are in hand and we are getting ready to pack up the trailers... we have 22 leadership teams in place to help run WRG’s summer Canal Camps but we still need a few MORE VOLUNTEERS to lead camps! If you’ve got the t-shirt, appreciate the art of pointing… and more importantly you understand the importance of remembering the milk you are definitely ready to get more involved! So what’s involved? As leaders and assistants you need to be able to give up a week, have some experience of Canal Camps, and most of all be willing to look after 18 wonderful volunteers! Your main role is to ensure that WRG Canal Camps are a fun, well planned and safe experiences. Yes there’s some paperwork to be done prior to the camp but remember you aren’t alone – you will have support from the WRG Head Office Team and WRG Board. We also running a Leaders Training Day on the 14th May so that leaders and assistants can get together and discuss all the different aspects of leading a camp. Cooks If you’ve been on one of our canal camps before you will know the camp cook is the most important person! For each camp we like to have a camp cook who prepares and coordinates the feeding of our volunteers. If you’ve cooked for 4 people you can cook for 18 … it’s only a case of some simple multiplication! Why volunteer… what’s in it for you? As a Canal Camp leader, assistant or cook you can:

Navvies News We also need lots of COOKS to feed our army of canal navvies over the summer. In particular Emma Greenall and Mike Palmer MBE & Becky Parr need cooks for their Grantham Canal Camps. Find out where we need help this summer: waterways.org.uk/wrg/canal_camps/ canal_camp_leaders_2016 If you’d like to find out more about leading, assisting or cooking then give me a call (01494 783 453 ext 604) or drop me an email jenny.black@waterways.org.uk Jenny Black

Bridge free to good home 18ft x 2ft Footbridge, with 4ft handrails and 3ft ground posts at either end. Ex public footpath bridge no longer required. Will need some repairs. Free to canal group but must be collected. Can assist with loading onto Trailer. Contact Jenny at head office by email to jenny.black@waterways.org.uk. Tom Jeffries

Congratulations...

...to Mel and George ‘Bungle’ Eycott on the arrival of William Alexander on 3 April weighing 8lb 14oz. Meet new people from a wide range of ...to Samantha Hemmings-Smith and David backgrounds and ages Daniels on the arrival of George on 16 Gain new, transferable skills which March weighing 7lb 12oz. make your CV stand out| ...to Harry and Hild Watts on their marriage. Have fun, enjoyable and FREE holiday Become a vital member of the WRGie team! ...to Mitch Gozna and Tom Fitzpatrick on their engagement Where do we need help? We need leader- ...and to Bob Metcalf and Kate Elwell on their engagement. ship teams to run the following camps:

. . . .

11th-18th June - Inglesham Lock 25th June-2nd July - Inglesham Lock 16th-23rd July - Swansea Canal (need co-leader) 6th-13th August - Lapal Canal 13th-20th August - Pocklington Canal 3rd-10th September - Inglesham Lock

Apologies... ...if this issue seems slightly thrown-together in places, due to a worse than usual rush resulting from printers’ holidays, canal camps, boats needing painting etc etc.

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Infill Sing a song of Stourbridge The Lions of Stourbridge Our mention of the Stourbridge restoration in the last issue prompted Phil Clayton to send in the lyrics of a song he wrote and performed with The Shady Band at the 2012 Stourbridge Boat Gathering to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1962 ‘Battle of Stourbridge Cut’.... We hail the pioneers, the volunteers, the Lions of Stourbridge of ’62, Who came and shifted mud and sweated blood and saved the waterway for me and you. They lit a spark that set a blaze, It spread from here and out all ways So we can sail the cut to Pontcysyllte, Hebden Bridge and Dudley Tunnel too. Half a century ago in old Stourbridge town Ran a venerable cut that they wanted shut down The Waterways Board in their usual way Put a sign on the locks – this is what it did say…. British Waterways Stourbridge Canal Warning! The 16 locks are unsuitable for the passage of vessels and all vessels are hereby warned not to attempt to navigate through the locks. British Waterways licenses do not apply Alternative route is available via Wolverhampton Locks and Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The cut was by now in a terrible hole Years of neglect having taken their toll Six inches of water from surface to bottom Locks with no beams and gates that were rotten The waterway folk wanted to stay afloat And so they arranged for a Rally of boats In Stourbridge Arm later on in that year. The call was for action, get stuck in, hear hear!

They wanted a new bypass road to be run From Stourbridge to Amblecote – save a minute or two We can fill in the cut. Said the Board “We’re with you”. A scour by the Stour had caused “a jam, innit” Vesta and Dane had resorted to rammin’ it A digger, a digger will soon get it out, There’s one on the Stratford, and Hutchings’ about. The man from the Waterways Board said “no way If that thing breaks the surface you’ll be put away”. The Lions they were fearless, “The Times” sensed a headline. The man from the Board said “oh, hell, what a drag - line”

We hail the pioneers, the volunteers, the Lions of Stourbridge of ’62, Who came and shifted mud and sweated blood and saved the waterway for me and you. They lit a spark that made a blaze, It spread from here and out all ways To Furnace Vale and Maesbury, to Ripon, Todmorden and under Standedge too So whenever you’re cruising that old waterway Remember the people who got it that way There may be one here sitting right next to you, A Stourbridge Lion, nineteen sixty-two. Half a century’s gone and some Lions have passed by They’ve left for that great waterway in the sky Let’s not feel too sad for they’re sure to be found Stirring things up in some celestial pound So hail the pioneers, the volunteers, the Lions of Stourbridge of ’62, Who came and shifted mud and sweated blood and saved the waterway for me and you. They lit a spark that made a blaze, It spread from here and out all ways To Huddersfield and Newbury, to Droitwich and, in time, maybe to Lichfield too! We hail the pioneers, the volunteers, the Lions of Stourbridge of ’62,

Let’s hail the pioneers, the volunteers, the Lions of Stourbridge of ’62, Who came and shifted mud and sweated blood and saved the waterway for me and you. They lit a spark that made a blaze, It spread from here and out all ways So we can sail to Buggie Basin, Stratford-on-Avon, Titford Pools and Coombeswood too. The Council folk said that it shouldn’t be done

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Phil (centre) and the band performing the song


Outro More Easter canal camps

Chesterfield Chesterfield Canal: Canal: building building the the overflow overflow weir below the new Staveley Town weir below the new Staveley Town Lock. Lock. Camp Camp report report next next time time (please!) (please!)

Cotswold Cotswold Canals: Canals: the the arch arch of of Weymoor Weymoor Bridge well on the way to completion. Bridge well on the way to completion. Camp Camp report report next next time time (please!) (please!)

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Navvies 276  

WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways. April-May 2016.

Navvies 276  

WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways. April-May 2016.