50 years of restoring waterways
Boats through Staveley Town Lock!
waterway recovery group
Issue No 277 June-July 2016
Intro BCN Clean Up
Pictures by Martin Ludgate
A A selection selection of of pictures from this pictures from this year’s year’s BCN BCN Clean Clean Up Up on on the the Walsall Walsall Canal Canal
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine. Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA), a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89. Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Dave Hearnden, Jude Palmer, Mike Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts. ISSN: 0953-6655
© 2016 WRG
Contents In this issue... Comment from volunteering’s elected man on the Canal & River Trust Council 4-6 50th anniversary: update on the ‘50 from 50’ list, a quiz, and where next? 7-9 Camps preview latest on Lapal, Grantham and Ashby this summer 10-11 Camp Reports Uttoxeter, Chesterfield12-21 WRG BITM A year in the life 22-23 WRGBC Boat Club News 24-25 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies’ work party dates 26-31 Camp Reports Weymoor bridge 32-42 Progress our regular roundup - plus important news on the Wendover 43-46 Van Appeal fundraising update 47 Navvies News 48-49 Infill Deirdre is back! 50 Outro Training Weekend pictures 51
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Press date for issue 278: 1 July.
Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £3.00 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques payable to "Inland Waterways Association" please. This is a minimum subscription, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.
Cover Picture: Culmination of several years work, the new Staveley Town Locks is opened as part of the Chesterfield Canal Trust and IWA Trailboat Festival. (photo: George Rogers). Back cover: Four we might be working on soon - see p9. Clockwise from top left: Shropshire Tub-boat Canal, Oxford Hillmorton Arm, Dartford Creek, River Blyth (Martin Ludgate)
50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 Looking back, looking forward... Having hummed and hahed a bit about how to follow up the two articles we’ve already published to mark the 50th anniversary year of Navvies magazine, I then figured that actually the best way to start off this time is with the following article by Ian ‘Mac’ McCarthy. He has been elected as the member of the Canal & River Trust’s governing national council who represents volunteering: not just WRG or canal restoration volunteers, but all volunteering on the waterways. He’s also been a canal volunteer pretty much since Navvies was first published. So he’s in an ideal position to look back 50 years to those early days - and then to the present, and to draw some conclusions for the future of volunteering...
Is Bigger Better?
An interesting question, and probably best if you don’t search it on Google, although the information will probably be both amazing and varied... The reason I ask this question is that for the whole time I have been volunteering on canals, there has always been something of a disconnect between the local group, working on their own special length of canal and those who take a larger view, and worry about all canals. For the purpose of this essay I am not going to go outside the British mainland for the most part, however we should not forget or ignore what is happening in Europe. I will leave others to think about this even bigger picture, although European rules, concerning a multitude of things, do affect us, be it smoke alarms that have to work, or the protection of habitats, and all things in-between. [This issue went to press before the referendum - so Ian’s comments about Europe may or may not still be valid for the longer term ...Ed] After all these years, I still think of myself as a member of the Marple working party of the Peak Forest Canal Society (PFCS). Why should this be? We were one of the earlier volunteer groups to be successful, and we disbanded over 40 years ago, to become WRG NorthWest. Well I think it’s about that human craving to belong within a group. If this works, it can be a positive thing; however to get the job done usually means we have to co-operate with others, and such tribalism can then have a negative side. So lets have a look at how this worked for us. Within the PFCS there were two working party groups, the Marple group and the Ashton crowd. Not only that, but there were many other groups: the committee, the sales team, etc, not to forget the paying members, active or not. Needless to say, there were all sorts of little rivalries. Flashback to 1971: volunteers repairing Manchster’s ‘Rochdale Nine’... However, we did our
Looking back, looking forward...
best work by far when we all pulled together: the 1971 Palm Sunday weekend 100 Boat Rally in Manchester was a major success, and helped to galvanise political opinion, to get the Cheshire ring restored. However it wasn’t just the PFCS which did this. There was the local IWA Manchester Branch, and the Northwest Regional Group of the IWA, there was Graham Palmer and WRG, then there was the headquarters of the IWA who were there giving advice and guidance, beside talking to lots of MPs and other key people. The local boat clubs were active and helped with both labour and attendance, so it was not just a little local affair, indeed at least one boat came all the way from the deep south. Moving outward from the ‘epicentre’ there were other canal groups such as the Inland Waterways Preservation Society, and The Manchester Grammar School Canal Club, to name just two, pulling their weight to make it happen. There were the politicians, not just the local councillors, but those of the Big City and their officers. Also, there were the political masters in London, Barbara Castle had found a political solution to the problem of those festering canals, which was to classify them as either commercial, cruiseways or remainder waterways, the later meaning that everybody now had to find an agreed solution for the long term future of that remainder waterway. Finally in our case there were the canal owners who were fine about having a rally on their waters as long as it didn’t effect their bottom line too much (the Rochdale Canal had never been nationalised.). All these groups pulled in (roughly) the same direction, and so over the period 1972 – 1976 the Cheshire Ring was restored; and over time changed from a private waterway and a couple of remainder waterways to a set of normal canals, all now run by Canal & River Trust. A similar story can be told about any of the successful restorations, they start with the active campaigners with their spades and/or pieces of paper and, most importantly, a vision. Then a huge gaggle of supporters, helpers and pushers gathers behind and around them. If any part is missing, then the job doesn’t happen, it just limps along. So why the history lesson? History is important, for example remember the European Union was formed to stop wars, make sure the people were fed and they had ‘rights’ free from political interference. [OK that’s enough about the EU for now! ...Ed] Seems to have succeeded on all three counts in my book, so what about the canals now? We probably have more little groups actively campaigning for their local length than ever before. The ownership of the vast majority of navigable canals is now in the hands of one big charity, CRT, who are actively promoting restoration and expansion of the system for the public good. They use volunteers, lots ...in time for boats to pass through them to reach the 100 Boat Rally of them, and they
50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016
need many more, to make the big vision work into the future. It’s not just for the little jobs, it’s for the big jobs as well. A local active CRT volunteer who I know has, in the last few months, helped boats through locks; delivered many tons of stone to help rebuild flood-damaged towpaths and boundaries using another society’s trailer; rebuilt stone walls; delivered drinking water to stranded boaters; moved dredging hoppers; helped to clear a lock chamber or two, repaired a wash wall; picked litter; and loads of other fun stuff. Another volunteer has spent lots of time planning and organising how to get the local canals open again, post Boxing Day floods. I have recently become an elected member of the council of CRT, representing CRT’s volunteer constituency. The Council is the top tier of the organisation. I have made a point of working with many different local groups and teams, something I CRT volunteers repair Rochdale towpath after winter floods have always enjoyed doing. But I see and hear problems: we the people at the mud face are not all pulling in the same direction, but we need to. This is not just those of us restoring canals, and maintaining them, but all the users as well. Only by us ALL pulling in the same direction can we maintain what we have already won, and can we hope to win yet more. We are ALL now inter-dependent on each other. It does not matter what colour tee-shirt you wear. It doesn’t matter which group you belong to. It doesn’t matter that there appear to be many organisations all attempting to achieve the similar ends. What matters is that we all communicate better with each other, and the general public. We need to say what we are doing and why, what is working and what is not. So it is important that your group says what is happening and that this gets distributed wide and far. So please send your reports into local group, Navvies, into the IWA, into CRT, use social media, the press, the web, etc, and keep the information up to date. Only by disseminating what’s happening and what your problems are can those attempting to see the big picture attempt to make good choices for the future. We are all now part of a very big organisation made up of lots of little groups, so for the first time we have the ability to move forwards as one. Let’s make it all happen; let’s communicate and work TOGETHER; let’s get the canals working. And yes, probably big is better on balance... Ian Mac Do you agree? Is it the case that we are all now working for similar ends and need to acknowledge this and work together better with CRT and everybody else? Or perhaps you disagree. Maybe you feel that CRT still to be treated with deep suspicion as the successor to the British Waterways of old - and that Ian Mac is dangerously close to ‘batting for the other side’? Alternatively, perhaps you feel he doesn’t go far enough - should WRG forge even closer links with CRT? Or should we just butt out of waterway restoration politics, concentrate on brick-laying and shit-shovelling, and leave the political stuff to IWA? Please tell us your views. and if at all possible we’ll print them. The Editor
50 51 52 53 54 55 from 50... 50 from 50... or is it? Our ‘50 from 50’ list and map in the last issue featured 50 waterway restoration projects that WRG and its predecessors have supported since Navvies began publication in 1966. I said at the time that there were bound to be some omissions: “Feel free to tell the editor about any we’ve missed, and we’ll give them a mention in the next issue” - and you haven’t disappointed. First here’s Brian Andrews: “North Walsham & Dilham Canal - I know that WRG volunteers also worked on this one. I’m also wondering if WRG ever worked on the Wey and Godalming Navigations, in support of the National Trust, and they certainly supported the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust. Of course, noting that the Forth & Clyde Canal in Scotland is included, if you wander across the Irish Sea, WRG also worked on the Ulster Canal in Ireland.” Fair enough about the North Walsham and Dilham. Ditto the Foxton Inclined Plane, even though current plans don’t envisage it being reopened, and Andrew’s quite right that we should count the Ulster too. I deliberately left out the Wey and Godalming, on the basis that I was restricting myself to schemes to restore waterways, rather than work on already navigable routes. (Picky, I know, but if we include those, then we have to include the Oxford, the Grand Union - we’ve repaired bridges on both of them recently 53 - and all the Clean Ups we’ve supported). I’ve similarly omitted the Stratford, which several people mentioned, because its restoration pre-dates Navvies, so we can’t claim any credit - although we did some pretty heavy maintenance on it! 51 I’ve also heard from Andrew Harris, over in Whitby, Ontario: 52 54
One omission from the list is Dudley tunnel, WRG supported the Dudley Dig-in in 1971 (I seem to recall Graham Palmer being present). The culmination of the restoration efforts was TRAD (Tunnel Reopening At Dudley) at Easter 1973. 55
Good call, Andrew. That’s one I should have thought of, too. So that’s numbers 51-54 added - and I’ve also thought of another myself, Lord Rolle’s Canal, so that’s 55: I’ve added them to the map. Thanks for all your contributions, and if you can come up with any more. please keep sending them in.
50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 50 years of Navvies: the quiz. How far back do you go? 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985 1984 1983 1982 1981 1980 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975 1974 1973 1972 1971 1970 1969 1968 1967 1966
What happened to our Chairman in June? Mr Mac got a birthday cake in the shape of what? Operation Starburst targeted the canals in and around which city? 5 excavators, 4 dumpers, 2 rollers, 1 Wacker plate, 1 Land Rover, all for 1 camp: where? The reopening of which canal featured on the front cover? What accolade did Tring Scout Hut win from Navvies readers? The reunion marked 40 years of restoring which canal? Mike Palmer revealed that he had one signed by Brian Blessed. What? The accommodation for the Training Weekend was missing one important feature? Navvies described how ‘a field was turned into a canal in less than two months’ – where? WRGies pictured cruising through a newly restored lock into a restored basin. Where? Timothy West and Prunella Scales are pictured with eyebrows raised, perusing what? An article marked the launch of which north western restoration scheme? Picture spread of five openings: Rochdale, Falkirk, Brynderwen, Hanbury, where? 21 of us did a fund-raising abseil down what? ‘WRG Works’: a 30th anniversary fortnight of work at Over (H&G), Pant (Mont) and where? Another article about the launch of a new restoration – in the West this time. Which one? The BITM ‘Bring a boat’ weekend was the first dig on which East Midlands scheme? Who were Cuckoo, Canary, Klingon, Buckby, Brewery and Bear Free? The WRG Reunion dig that wasn’t on a canal (or a river). What was it on? A new lock with a famous WRG name. Whose name? WRG goes abroad: where to? February Canal Camp held indoors! Where? Seven volunteers pictured using their shovels to launch what new (7-letter) initiative? “Yes, I was one in a thousand. Where were you?” Where were they? Lock reopening on the Chesterfield: which lock? Where were Paddington Bison, Big Chief Sipping Beer and the Muddyfoot tribe sighted? A special issue of Navvies, to campaign against what? Opening of which flight of four locks? Which WRG regional group made its first appearance? A high court battle loomed on which waterway? The launch of a three-month intensive winter work programme on which canal? Navvies reviewed a new book with very relevant content – and title. What? London WRG’s first visit to which up-and-coming restoration? Which restoration was heading for the Land of Nod? “We are still in the dark ages” said the editor: which bridge was shown being culverted? A breach which had split a canal in two since 1968 was repaired. Which canal? Which southern restoration (still under way today) began work on its first worksite? “A Big Dig with a difference” – construction as well as clearance – on which canal? The opening of a museum that many of our volunteers had been involved in. Where? Reopening celebration of which eastern waterway? Royal opening of which navigation? Which restoration was launched by a Big Dig? An ‘emergency issue’ for what? What disappeared from the cover of Navvies, to reappear only once (in 2010)? ...and what other subtle change occurred between issues 25 and 26? A restoration which kept us busy for 20 years saw the first work on the actual canal. Which? 600 volunteers, 21 dumpers, 2000 tons of rubbish. Where? The first reopening reported in Navvies: which canal? Answers in A protest dig to campaign about the state of which eastern river? the next issue
Looking back, looking forward... Looking forward... We end the 50th anniversary feature for this issue on a serious note, and with another look forward. We’ve already extended our list of 50 waterways that we’ve helped to restore over the last half century to 55 - but it looks like we may well have pushed past 60 well before Navvies magazine’s diamond jubilee, because there are still new projects being launched. So here’s a roundup of new projects whose successful completion a future editor might just be looking back at in a few decades (and see the back cover for some photos)... Dartford and Crayford Navigation: some of us who’ve been involved in London’s waterways for a long time actually remember this one being abandoned. It consists of the tidal creeks which form the lower reaches of the Darenth and Cray rivers, as they combine and join the Thames in north Kent. You can actually boat them already, but you need to be sharpish as for most of the time the tide isn’t high enough for navigation. Until the early 1980s there was a working lock which maintained water levels in the top of the Dartford Creek at all times, making it a potentially useful non-tidal mooring off the Thames estuary. But the lock was abandoned and its gates chained back, and it’s now completely derelict. The Friends of Dartford & Crayford Creek hope to one day put the lock back in operation; in the meantime they carry out clearance work alongside the creek, and are looking to put in mooring posts and rings. Find their Facebook page to find out more about them. Halesworth or River Blyth Navigation: This little-known river navigation linked the Suffolk town of Halesworth to the coast at Southwold Harbour (that’s right, Southwold, where they brew Adnams!) until abandoned 80 years ago. Four of the six locks have disappeared, and the river has mostly reverted to a smallish stream that doesn’t look anything like navigable. But a new group, an offshoot of Halesworth Millennium Green’s active volunteer team, is now looking at restoring a mile-long artificial cut at the top of the river known as the New Reach, along with its two locks. See millenniumgreen.halesworth.net. Hillmorton Arm: This is the surviving part of one of the many loops of the original Oxford Canal which were bypassed when its route was shortened in the 1830s (to stave off a threat to build a new and more direct canal). The Old Mortonians group of local volunteers have started carrying out clearance work parties and hope to re-water the arm and use it for mooring historic boats on display to the public. WRG Forestry are already planning to help them with this work. See oldmortonians.co.uk. Shropshire Tub-boat Canal: In the Blists Hill Museum near Ironbridge is a short length of the Shropshire Canal, including the remains of The Hay Inclined Plane. This was formerly part of a network which criss-crossed the area now occupied by Telford New Town and its surroundings, and once linked to the Shrewsbury and Newport canals (under restoration). There’s no plan to reopen these routes (tricky without digging up a fair bit of Telford!) But having not touched it for a long time, the Museum is now looking to clear and restore the surviving length (perhaps putting a replica tub-boat on it). Watch this space! Griff Arm: yes, there’s even a scheme to reopen this obscure former coal-mine arm off the Coventry Canal near Nuneaton. I can already imagine the letters to the next Navvies, questioning the wisdom of so many new little obscure schemes when there are big active main line restorations needing help. Well, please do write - but also bear in mind: most of the above have been launched by active community groups interested in their local area, who want to do something about their waterway.
There are still some vacancies for volunteers on several of our summer camps. Here are three sites which would welcome a few last-minute bookings...
Coming soon Camps preview
Summer camps preview: final chance! By the time you receive this issue of Navvies, the start of the main summer canal camps programme will be only a couple of weeks away. As we go to press, many camps are already fully booked, and a handful (the Pocklington and the June Inglesham camps) have unfortunately had to be cancelled. But fear not - there are still several camps with some space available for last-minute bookings. Do hurry, though, because they may fill up soon...
Lapal Canal Trust
Lapal Canal camps 2016-23 on 30 July - 6 August and 2016-26 on 6 - 13 August will be working on restoring Harborne Wharf in Selly Oak Park, on the south side of Birmingham. This is the next step towards reopening the canal westwards from its junction with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, and the eventual aim of reinstating the old route which went via Lapal Tunnel to Coombswood. Leaders for the first week are Ian Gaston and Emma Nurton, with Bev Williams as cook (that’s right, Bev who cooked the delicious food on the second Weymoor camp at Easter, and whose article appears in this issue); then they hand over to Harry Watts and Alex Melson for week two. Let’s hear from Ian... WRG is in Lapal this year and the challenge is to complete the concrete footing “Literally floating in the air” - our challenge for the Lapal Canal camps and underpin the wharf wall. The wall is 50 metres long and the top three rows are sturdy in places and absent in others. Could be described as a floating wall, in that it is literally floating in the air. The Lapal Canal Trust knowing that demolition and rebuild would take many weeks (not just the two from 30 July to 13 August) have provided us with this significant challenge. Vacancies still exist and we are looking for people with brick, concrete or other relevant experience, but newcomers to WRG are also welcome especially if you have a free week, don’t mind getting your hands dirty and want a bit of fun. Ashby Canal camp 2016-25 on 6-13 August will be completing the repair work on Bridge 41 that we began on last summer’s camp. Leaders are Bob Crow and Bob Coles; over to Bob Crow to tell us about it... WRG are returning to the Ashby canal to work on Bridge 41 which is a traditional brick built accommodation bridge. We will be carrying out brickwork repairs and replace some hideous concrete coping stones with sympathetic new sandstone ones. This will entail careful dismantling
of parts of the existing structure and rebuilding with some cleaned original bricks and some sympathetic reclaims from elsewhere. The new coping stones will then be set in place. Volunteers will learn how to correctly mix lime mortar and then be taught how to lay the bricks. They will also learn how to cut and bed the new coping stones. Repointing of other parts of the bridge will also be required and these skills will also be taught. Other projects around the area which we will tackle will include some bank reinstatement. Unlike most WRG camps the Ashby camp will be on a live waterway so there will plenty of boaters passing by and this usually generates lively banter. Bridge 41 is close to Market Bosworth in very pleasant countryside. A railway preservation society operates steam trains on the adjacent Battlefield Line. Our accommodation is at Bagworth Village Hall and is of a very high standard. We will have a range of evening activities – you may even have the opportunity to try bell shooting which is unique to this area of Leicestershire. Why not join us – you’ll have a great experience. Grantham Canal camps 2016-12 on 3-9 July; 2016-15 on 9-16 July and 2016-20 on 23-30 July will be carrying on last year’s major project to rebuild Lock 15 at Woolsthorpe. Well, when I say last year’s project to rebuild it... it turned out to be in a lot worse state than anyone realised, so in fact we spent summer 2015 knocking it down and never got on to the rebuilding. But look at the photo on this page and you’ll see it’s going back up again now. Leaders for 2-9 August are Pete Fleming and Emma Greenall with Harri Barnes and Paul Ireson sharing kitchen duties; for 9-16 August they hand over to Nick Swift and Martin Carrick; then on 23-30 July Mike Palmer and Becky Parr take over for the final week. Here’s Emma to tell us about it...
The walls of the lock have been demolished right down to the bottom, but the brick invert and and the four corners have been retained, so at least we’ll have something to rebuild from - and the footprint of the walls has already been replaced with blockwork and concrete foundations. Our job is to build the walls up in blockwork with facing brickwork (to give it a nice traditional finish) and fill in behind the blockwork with concrete (to make a really strong wall) which will be pumped in. We’ll then bring in and compact backfill behind the concrete using two excavators, a dumper and a roller. So jobs include cement and lime mortar mixing, (shiny new) brick and block laying, placing concrete and a small amount of dumper and excavator driving. We will be working alongside Grantham Canal Society and the Canal & River Trust who have clearly put in a lot of effort to get the site to this stage for us. We’ve got a few keen newbies and we’re going to make sure they get to learn some new skills, but at the same time it would be really nice to have a few more experienced bricklayers to guide the newbies and do the more complex tie ins to the existing corner brickwork.
Lock 15 at Woolsthorpe on the Grantham Canal awaits our arrival
Camp Reports Uttoxeter Canal Uttoxeter Canal Camp Week One 2-9 April Week One was all about the food (and a lot of work on the side!) We were blessed with the double camp cook team of Julie “kitch bowls” Arnold and Jude “amazing cake” Palmer. Work days revolved around break time and the anticipation of delving in the coolbox to find what delights were hidden within. Leader Gary didn’t manage to look beyond the discarded wrappers and didn’t find any cake all week! The focus of the two weeks was to complete work on Bridge 70 on the Uttoxeter Canal. The canal was abandoned in 1839 and Bridge 70 is the only bridge to survive. It’s in overall good repair but the surface needed re-laying to make it less steep and slippery in wet weather. With funding from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant due to run out in May, the pressure was on to complete the work of installing steps and cobble setts over the two weeks of camps. Arrival Day - Saturday: After a welcoming dinner, cooked by the excellent team of Jude and her willing trainee, Julie (who was taking over the mantle of cook for week two and so was keen to learn as much as possible), we headed for the pub. There were two choices, very closely situated but having walked past and peered in the window of the first it was apparent we were all too old to be drinking in there. The further pub had the added attraction of some live music and we settled down in a far corner to chat and listen to the eclectic musical choices of the English/ German duo. This led to a lively discussion on first single or album purchased and first live show attended. I got rightly vilified for my first album purchase, by the short lived group Five Star. Everyone else seemed to have far better musical taste! Day Two – Sunday: First night in a strange place, different bed and a cacophony of snorers – everyone woke a little subdued but
Reporting from the first of two weeks’ work at Bridge 70, Crumpwood, the last original bridge left standing on the entire Uttoxeter Canal armed with a full cooked breakfast inside us we piled into the van (‘SAD’) to face our first day of work. Gary showed us around the site – starting at Crumpwood Weir with its tumbledown cottage, beautiful old pumping-house and remains of a lock. The canal had crossed the River Churnet at the weir, with a deep channel cut across the top of the weir. Tree roots have pushed the adjoining lock’s stones into interesting angles but it’s in surprisingly good condition for a 200 year old abandoned lock. The Uttoxeter Canal was only open for a short time, from 1811 to 1839, and was never a commercial success. It had been built with cheap materials and to the minimum allowable depth. Once abandoned, the many bridges along its length were dismantled and the stone reused in local houses. Bridge 70, the focus for our week’s work is the only remaining bridge on the Uttoxeter Canal. Over the years the parapet stones have been removed and then later restored, and there was a mixture of large stones and mud making up the pathway across the bridge, which was uneven and very slippery in wet weather. The restoration of the bridge needed to allow for horses and people to pass over safely and the height of the parapet needs to be raised to a safer level. The canal sits in a valley and so the access on one side of the bridge is very steep. On the other side of the bridge the valley rises and the bridge levels off to meet the upward pathway. The plan was explained; to remove the boulders across the bridge to find the lowest point, then set steps on the steep side at a depth and width to allow horses to use them. At the apex of the bridge, a cobble sett pathway would lead over a drainage ditch and onto the path, which would also be improved. We set about work on the bridge with some gusto and soon had the large stones shifted to either side of the bridge. Large amounts of earth were removed from the top of the bridge in order to level it and ensure
rainwater run-off into the drainage ditch we would be digging. We also took delivery of a large quantity of setts – each one varying in size and weight. Around 3 tonnes was offloaded by the group by using a chain gang method and piled up at the base of the bridge for sorting the next day. By the end of the day we had achieved far more than expected and George and Pete were busy measuring and laying out brick lines for our work the next day. Back at base, Sunday roast and cheesecake was waiting for us –the week of fine food had begun and we all tucked in after our busy day. Day Two – Monday: Day two started a little slower than day one – our enthusiasm slowing down as we realised we couldn’t keep up the initial rate of work all week. George measured out the steps we would be constructing and more earth was dug out to create the space for the stone steps to be constructed. The setts we’d taken delivery of the previous day needed some work – firstly to sort them into similar sizes and then to chip off the tarmac which many were caked in. This slightly more sedentary job was handled by Rachel and myself. Meanwhile,
What’s the story about the
the levelling off had been completed at the top of the bridge and the plastic membrane laid out for the stones to be placed on. The drainage ditch was completed, with a gravel base, a pipe laid the length with drainage holes, and then covered with more gravel. Lime mortar was to be the material of choice initially for setting the stones and Pete B took to this task like the old hand he is. By the end of the day the kerb stones for the lowest step had been installed – each one weighing 48kg! On the way back to the accommodation we passed the front of the main JCB building and made a naughty pit-stop to grab icecreams. The ice-cream van wasn’t to be seen again for the rest of the week so we’d chosen our ice-cream day wisely! Back at the village hall a massive slab of lasagne and then pineapple upside-down cake was waiting for us. Too heavy to then make our way to the pub, we had a quiet evening of paper reading and trying to remember the rules to rummy. Day Three – Tuesday: Day three on site began with George spending some time appearing to be doing crocheting. His brick line had got horribly tangled and he showed
The Canal Camp project: restoring Bridge 70 and creating a set of sett stone steps over it
Caldon Canal to Etruria
Why? This is the last surviving bridge still standing on the entire Uttoxeter Canal. Thanks to National Lottery funding as part of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape project, money is available to restore the bridge, including improving the deck for the benefit of those using the bridleway which crosses it.
Froghall: 1st lock and basin restored 2005
Crumpwood Alton The wider picture: It might seem that the obvious place for the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust to get cracking on restoring the 13mile Uttoxeter Canal would be Froghall, terminus of the Caldon Canal Bridge 70 (restored in the early 1970s), the connection to the navigable canal netDenstone work, and the Uttoxeter’s first major restoration site, where the first lock and basin were reopened in 2005. But with some sections of the canal having disappeared under the later railway line (now mostly abandoned) Proposed plus a serious road blockage, it isn’t easy to start there. However at diversion Crumpwood there is not only bridge 70, but also a surviving lock, an unusual ‘level crossing’ of the River Churnet, a flood lock and other remains, all on a significant length of canal bypassed by the railway. Crumpwood will be a key site on the restored canal, an in the mean- Proposed new time an excellent ‘honeypot’ site, where a restored section (with a terminus in trip-boat operation and local boating in due course) could help make old quarry the case for the major funding needed to reopen the trickier lengths. Uttoxeter
Cobbles) prevailed over Team Gary (Bridge Over Troubled Waters), mostly down to George knowing the two countries with an ‘X’ in them and Darren knowing the location of a rail station called ‘Mumps’! Final scores were close, 28 to 26!
Day Four – Wednesday: The sky looked quite heavy with rain as we arrived at site, but the main concern was the overnight vandalism. The kerb stones which had been set the night before had been uncovered and knocked over. At the top of the bridge, several of the cobble setts were askew and it looked like someone had broken past the Heras fencing, walked over Attention to detail: getting the first kerb stone straight and level the cobbles, then uncovered and deliberately knocked over considerable patience in unravelling the the kerb stones. The concern over using the ‘bird’s nest’. Fortunately for him it meant he slower setting lime mortar and the time lost couldn’t help with the chain of volunteers by the vandalism meant a decision was made stretching up the bridge in order to move the to try to lay two kerb stones per day instead stone setts to the top of the bridge. This of the anticipated one. This enabled the setts piece of teamwork made a heavy job less to be placed far quicker and speeding up the tiresome and we soon had enough setts to process of building the eight steps required start laying the pathway over the bridge. to reach the apex of the bridge. Darren, Pete C and Dave set to work on this. Heavy rain then stopped work for some Meanwhile, work continued on the first time – with everyone but George seeking step below with earth backfilled behind the shelter under the gazebo. He sang out a kerb stones. George and Mick tamped it lovely rendition of Oh What a Beautiful Morndown by jumping up and down on it and ing standing in the rain before joining us in Pete B mixed up the mortar. By the end of having a cuppa. the day the second riser had been placed and Once the rain stopped, we rigged a it was carefully covered with plastic sheeting tarpaulin over the lower steps to enable the to allow it to set overnight. lime mortar to remain dry. George and Mick The day was punctuated by Pete C’s got to work to repair the vandalised steps. bad cheese jokes, slightly outdone by At lunchtime the cooks arrived with Darren’s even worse bad cheese joke (What Harry Arnold MBE and we posed for the do you get if you have 10, lose 10 and then official photos as Jude was presented with get 10 back? – Stilton) her award as runner-up Volunteer of the Year Dinner of chilli was planned slightly 2015 by Towpath Talk magazine (See p37). earlier due to the pub quiz starting at 8pm In the afternoon a small team of Pete and the warning that if we didn’t arrive early C, Darren and myself worked on extending we wouldn’t get a seat. They were right as the footpath to the base of the bridge. This we grabbed two tables just as the locals had been the focus of a canal camp plus an arrived on masse. The group had been extra day’s work in 2014. The wooden divided into two teams, led by Gary and edging was laid out and measured and George, and the main aim wasn’t to win the Darren showed us how to use a long handled quiz but to beat the other team! Competition sledgehammer effectively to bash stakes into was fierce but Team George (Load of Old the ground. Work was briefly halted when a
couple of journalists from the local paper arrived to take photos and interview Pete C, Darren and myself. Our hard hats also came into use when we were hailed on for a short time! The rain and hail was punctuated by periods of lovely spring sunshine – truly April showers! Our meal of the evening was the most popular of the week – Jude popped her Toad in the Hole ‘cherry’ and we all ate very well. Pete C didn’t enjoy the washing up though and entertained the wiper-uppers by getting more and more angry! Followed by bread & butter pudding and we were all ready for the evening’s entertainment. Jude and Julie, after finding massive beanbags behind some screening in the accommodation the night before had rigged up the projector for movie night. Jude had selected Monument Men as our movie and also supplied microwave popcorn in bowls. Pete F returned after a few days off site doing inconvenient work meetings and found us mostly asleep in the beanbag mountain. George insisted on wearing his sleeping bag and looked like a large penguin.
name of the Churnet. In the afternoon everyone had a switch around of jobs and by the end of the day 11 rows of setts had been laid on the top of the bridge and the fourth step completed. Dinner was a very hearty chicken stew with pastry and followed by cheesecake – the same one we’d failed to eat all of earlier in the week! Most of the group piled in the van to go bowling in Uttoxeter. Mick forgot how to do it until it was too late, Dave turned out to be a bit of a hustler and everyone else just chucked the balls down and hoped for the best. A quick visit to the pub after and everyone back for probably the latest night to bed of the week!
Day Six – Friday: It was Friday but Pete B was still hoping it was Tuesday again so he could have Toad in the Hole on Wednesday, confusing everyone. The day started once again with rain which came on and off all morning. The site hadn’t had a chance to dry up and so was slippery and muddy once again. However the group were working well together and the three areas of focus – steps, sett placing on the top of the bridge Day Five – Thursday: The morning started and towpath laying along the bottom were very wet and miserable. The site had beprogressing well. come very slippery and muddy. Climbing Jude and Julie arrived with what was past the steps on the bridge and over the possibly the strangest lunchtime food of the rocks was dangerous and a plan to rig a week – a hedgehog of cheese and gammon hoist using the scaffolding was conceived to on sticks. Very 70’s! They had to make use avoid having to carry heavy items up the of the fruit we’d failed to eat all week! bridge. The tarpaulin was rigged up again to Dinner was curry night and the cooks cover the lower steps. had gone all out – searching the cupboards Membrane had arrived for the footpath for 70’s style kitch glass containers for the and this was cut and laid in the wooden Bombay mix and a very fancy mirrored cake frame. Large amounts of aggregate were stand for the poppadums. Mick got his wish then shovelled onto the membrane. Mick of spam curry which all the carnivores tried continued sett-laying on the steps and at the and no-one actually hated! top of the bridge, Dave and Pete C were The end of the week and the group working hard. By late morning we took were all somewhat exhausted. Pete C regretdelivery of the Wacker plate for the footpath tably had to leave early and everyone else and Rachel set about using this to compact settled down to a quiet last night. the aggregate. Big Thank Yous to everyone who made Lunch was late arriving, causing an the week such a success – Gary, George and anxious moment amongst the volunteers Pete F for their leadership, organisation and who hadn’t eaten for at least an hour or two! direction. Jude and Julie for all the wonderThe cooks had a good excuse (being held up ful food and keeping our spirits up when the by a funeral possession) and when it arrived going got tough. Steve Wood from the we had mini pasties, beautifully crimped and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Trust for his enthufilled with left-over chilli. Also Jude’s famous siasm and encouragement. And to all the lemon drizzle cake! volunteers who came along to lift, carry, It was another day of sun and rain – shovel, wack, mix, dig and laugh in the April the level of overnight rain meant the river showers and sunshine! was noticeably higher and living up to its Emma Matthars
Camp Reports Uttoxeter Canal Uttoxeter Canal Week 2: Success on one of the country’s most unsuccessful canals...
Alex takes up the story for the second camp, another week of bridge rebuilding plus wildlife spotting, Feng Shui and the occasional Latin quotation... canal camps (See camp reports Uttoxeter Week One and Chesterfield). The general briefing was given by Gary; after a lengthy delay from Dhush who overshot the accommodation arriving finally at 6pm. With bellies filled and introductions out of the way, the group set up sleeping positions for the next week.
Saturday: Week two led by Gary Summers started off with the stay-overs from the previous week, Pete B, Pete F and David, committing themselves to site in order to prepare for Week Two. This all happening whilst the rest of the Week One group went Sunday: Awoken by a cool chill in the air, home after a hard grafting week through the rumble of snoring and the smell of siztorrential downpours. The first of the newzling bacon and sausage, day one started comers Mr John Hawkins arrived promptly at with an eager optimism to get to site. The base camp and made a quick escape to site first day of work started with a continuation in order to provide his “support” to the of the valiant efforts of the week one crew. group on site. Leading the way, veterans of week one Once the group made it back to site, started laying the final cobbles onto the they greeted the next lot of willing volunteers steps, whilst newbies received the site history to the ‘Bridge 70’ endeavour. Of the six new talk and briefing. We explored the story of volunteers arriving on camp we had two the Uttoxeter canal, the importance of Bridge veterans (Bob Coles and John Hawkins); two who had dabbled in canal camps (Martin and Alex Melson); and two newbies in the form of Mike and Dhush). We also had Pete B, Pete F and David, who, through means in which I am unaware of, were coerced into staying on a couple of days and Pete B being kept captive for yet another week; making this week three of John and Bob apply the finishing touches to the pointing on the steps
70 and the living landscape project. The weather improved as the day progressed, boulders were moved, cobbles were pointed and paths were dug; we even considered the need for applying sunscreen. Our resident morale booster Julie brought us a varied lunch selection including breakfast surprise, meat feast, cheese and onion and the ever so posh camembert and redcurrant, along with a delightful dessert option. In the evening we were also joined by Gemma Needham, Alex’s real boss, (sorry Jenny!) who would assist Julie cooking dinner on Monday and Tuesday Breakfast. We also lost Pete F to the never ending unfortunate reality that is that is real life (he had work on Monday). Monday saw the start of relaying the large boulders removed from the bridge the week before, between the newly laid path and the existing parapet; an added precaution against natural selection by falling from height. Leading the landscaping of our rockery, Mike oversaw the placement and the overall ‘Feng Shui’ of our buffer between path and parapet. At the top of the bridge a new path was required in order to ease the existing path to our bridge which has now raised an extra couple of inches. It was here we saw a feat of super human strength and endurance from Dhush, who must have shifted one tonne of aggregate up the steps and over the bridge with only a spade and a bucket. Martin, Pete B, Bob and John continued with placing the cobbles finishing the initial placements for the entire walkway. Tuesday: “I ostendere, ideo non sum”– Bob Coles. Or for those not fluent in Latin “I point, therefore I am”. Tuesday saw the continuation of pointing copious amounts of lime mortar between the cobbles and for the boulders. We pushed Pete to the limit this day and to our surprise it was in fact the mixer that threw in the towel against the onslaught of Pete’s legendary shovelling skills. Come to think of it actually an above average amount of machinery broke on site with Pete always being the last to use it… if it were not the mixer it was the power generator that would pack it in. Well as in any case the ‘you touched it last, therefore you broke it’ rule was applied, earning Pete the nickname of ‘Machine Killer’. The evening’s activity saw round two of the pub quiz, with a special guest appearance from George Rogers to defend his title. With
Spotting notes... With many wildlife enthusiasts on the camp we also kept records of what species we saw or heard throughout the camp below is a list: Bird sightings Great Tit Kestrel Blue Tit Sparrowhawk Long-tailed Tit Buzzard Coal Tit Chiffchaff Pheasant Chaffinch Jay Goldfinch Mandarin Greenfinch Mallard Greater Spotted Woodpecker Other Sightings
Marsh Marigold Common Frog Weasel Field Vole
Lesser Celandine Wood Anenome Lesser stitchwort Opposite-leaved Golden-Saxifrage
the stakes high and a score to settle the battle commenced. Team one consisted of team leader Gary, Mike, Martrin & John under the alias of ‘Eight Steps To Heaven’. Whilst Team Two harboured team leader George, Dhush, Bob and Alex going by the name ‘RiggerMortars’, Julie would be found floating between teams each round to make numbers even. 40 questions later with an odd emphasis on the year 1987 and Boxing , ‘RiggerMortars’ came away victorious falling two points short of winning the whole quiz. Wednesday: “Never has so few stomachs owed so much to so few a cook” – Dhush. This is a remark all campers can truly agree with. Everyone who has attended a camp understands who the most important person on the camp is… and no it’s not the leader… it is definitely the cook. How else will up to 20 volunteers be able to complete such energy intensive work? On this note everyone who attended the camp was majorly impressed by Julie’s efforts and great tasting food on her first outing as cook. The bridge at this point looked as if it was nearing completion lacking only the finishing touches. This day focused on mixing and shifting excessive amounts of lime mortar up the bridge and on the base of the bridge. Towards the end of the day pointing
It was during this evening I myself thought about hanging up my career as Assistant Volunteers Coordinator with IWA in light of becoming an professional bowler scoring seven strikes in the first game. Only to soon be bought back down to earth with humility  during the second game where my bowling career went down the gutter… no pun intended.
Levelling the ground for the path extension
continued between the cobbles and operation recover every boulder we can find commenced, where we scoured to site for the final leftover boulders to fit between the parapets and path. In the evening we made our way to a ‘right proper good ol pub’ full to the brim with local patrons playing darts and Cribbage. The pub also contained a multitude of interesting artefacts such as grandfather clocks, puppets, creepy dolls, shark jaws and even a pair of Queen Victoria’s tights. Thursday saw the final push to finish of the bridge. Armed with brushes and brick laying tools the group went about pointing the final section of cobbles and flattening the existing mortar. With the week’s work finished the group packed away and cleaned all our equipment on site, deconstructed our scaffolding and loaded all our equipment back onto the vans. With work on site finished we headed to our evening activity in the form of bowling. This evening saw some of the best bowling run-ups and poses I have ever seen.
Friday: With all work completed and volunteers agreeing to finish early we packed up, counted and cleaned the equipment. Said our farewells and went on our jolly way. With all said and done a massive thank you to the dynamic leadership and catering duo Gary Summers and Julie Arnold for the amazing work completed during the week. A special thanks to Steve Wood who oversaw the project and visited site almost everyday over the two week camp. Finally a special thanks to the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust for hosting us and giving us the opportunity to work on such a lovely site. Alex Melson.  Natural Selection: Occurs when people see fit to peer over a bridge with knee high parapets on a rainy and slippery day.  Feng Shui: An excuse for those suffering from supposed OCD to rotate boulders for hours on end to fit their high standards.  You touched it last rule: A rule well known especially by those with siblings, that whoever touched or used an item last before it stopped working must have broken it.  Professional Bowler: A term implying skill within the game of bowling… and not just chucking the balls down the alley and somehow getting seven strikes and claiming it to be skill.  Humility: the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance or in other words not pretending that you were purposely playing bad so everyone could catch up, as opposed to being genuinely crap at bowling.
It’s often been said that canal restoration sometimes seems to proceed in an arse-about-face manner. Here’s a camp report which takes this a little further... Chesterfield Canal Camp Report Day 9: We left Barlow Village Hall before 10 o’clock on the Saturday morning after a morning of packing and cleaning. Soon after the hall was clear everyone began to make their way back home or to another camp. Everyone left the camp having had lots of fun and with some now replying to any letter of the alphabet. Day 8: Friday was our last day on site at Staveley Town Lock. The DofE participants were challenged to rotate the digger without knocking any bricks off. A challenge greatly accepted. Finishing touches to the site were made on our last day with concrete being used to fill in George’s wall. Drainage systems were also completed with the help of Dennis who had been out of action for a few days. After all the kit was cleaned we took a group photo by the bridge. After showers and one last meal from Steve our wonderful cook we headed to the pub, The Three Merry Lads and endured the entertainment before
HS2 railw ay
Staveley Restored to Chesterfield
Chesterfield Canal playing pool and draughts. Quote of the Day: “It’s a shame you have to drink it in one night” – Aaron Day 7: More bricks and blocks were laid by George, El, Luke, Matt, Chris and Pete. Blocks were cut for George’s wall by Aaron. Concrete and mortar was mixed by Kym and Heinz, who then transported the blocks and cement. Whilst doing this Heinz created his own song, “Mortar, Mortar, More Mortar”. Daz took photos of it all. The evening was spent yet again in the pub where we took part in the pub quiz; we won both prizes which came to a grand total of 8 free pints. This led to a return trip the next day. Day 6: The day was spent laying yet more blocks and more mortar was produced. Dennis was sadly out of action and so there was a limit on what could be done on site. But by the end of the day he was resurrected and work began again for Dennis. Sadly Campervan Dave was ill and left camp early. After warm showers we headed for a boat Navigable to the Trent
Proposed new Rother Link
Canal Camp site: Staveley Town Lock
Planned diversion around Norwood Tunnel
What’s the story about the
The Canal Camp project: completion works on the newly built Staveley Town Lock and the length below it including the overflow weir Why? There’s a freight railway line that crosses the canal route with too little headroom to get under it. Chesterfield Canal Trust’s solution is to build a new Renishaw lower length of canal and to connect it to the original canal on either side via two new locks, with a big weir between to get rid of excess water The wider picture: The formerly derelict length from Worksop to Chesterfield is well on the way to complete restoration, with over five miles from Worksop to Norwood Tunnel already restored, plus another isolated navigable length from Staveley to Chesterfield, leaving just eight miles still to reopen. It’s a difficult eight miles, with subsidence, a collapsed tunnel, houses built on the line at Killamarsh - but the biggest threat is the new HS2 railway which could destroy the whole length. The plans for the railway aren’t finalised yet: the more progress we can make (especially high profile stuff like canal openings with boats - see front cover!), the more chance that they will have to sit up and take notice of us.
Volunteers working on the spillweir at Staveley
trip along the Chesterfield Canal. With a wonderful meal at a carvery we then took the boat back to the buses and spent the evening playing cards. Day 5: Dennis was yet again out of action he was resurrected in the evening but was dead again by the next day. More drainage systems were installed and blocks laid too. The site was beginning to dry out a bit more after a very wet couple of days. Aaron and Chris began to repair their wall after it was damaged from the rain the day before. The evening was yet again spent playing cards. We were meant to attend the dog races in Sheffield however we were rained off, as the races are slippery when wet. Quote of the Day: “I sucked it, I didn’t bite it” – Kym
even bigger bowls. The barmaid then spent her time convincing us to attend the music quiz instead of bowling. After a vote to go back to the pub we won the music quiz, in first place Jason and his team won 2 pints and in last place Colin and his team won 6 pints. Sadly Adrian left us on Monday. Quote of the Day: “If I run I’ll either get black eyes or black knees” – Ju
Day 3: On the Sunday we worked on brick laying next to the weir. Drainage systems were installed opposite the weir with Dennis pouring shingle and mud onto the banks. We also drank lots of tea and coffee. George declined another 4 cups of tea from the DofErs. In the evening we had a beautiful roast dinner with yorkshire puddings between courses. This was followed by an easter egg hunt (except we hunted for pegs, Day 4: This day was mainly spent in the pub which were exchanged for eggs). Irish snap, as we were rained off... literally. The mornUno and the unmentionable were played in ing was spent in the loft of Barlow Village the evening. Hall to stop a leaky roof as well as discoverQuote of the Day: “Card for” – Colin ing the village’s supply of costumes. In the pub, The Three Merry Lads, (which we Day 2: This was our first day working on throughly recommend) we were served site, with members of the group being gigantic potato chips which were grown taught how to bricklay. Whilst others beginlocally. I think we can all agree that we had ning to install the drainage systems the first never seen such large chips which arrived in working day started with a great success. As
tured to the pub. Our first nights sleep on the Barlow Village hall was noisy as we tried to find a part that wasn’t squeaky. This was never discovered throughout the whole week. El ‘Em’ ‘En’ ‘Ef’ Langley
On behalf of the leadership team, I’d just like to say a big thank you - firstly to El for saving me the trouble of writing a camp report! To all of our wonderful volunteers, who worked hard and played even harder, thank you and I hope to see you all again one day. One of the local trust volunteers made a comment part way through the week that stuck with me and made me realise (again) what WRG can do and mean to local societies. Paraphrasing, he said ‘you lot coming in has made us all believe that we can have this site ready for the festival’. Having worked with the local trust many times, as a WRGie and as a trust volunteer, I know how demoralising the last winter has been - a lot of bad weather, a tight deadWRG North West and London returned in May for finishing touhes line, a lot of work and limited external support. We put some life back into them - so THANK YOU!!!! requested the day before George received a cup of tea from each DofEr. He drank all 4 Thank you finally to the rest of the cups of tea, despite them being slightly cold. team responsible for making it all happen Andy cut a pipe in half, and Dave woke up to to our locals Dave & Dave (to go with our cut some blocks. Heinz decided that by lunch own Dave & Dave), to our wonderful cook Steve (& Jane for some of it) and to our we had been “worked like slaves”. However (in)glorious leader, Colin. in the evening we were rewarded with a To leave you with a final statistic - we screening of Ted 2 and popcorn. reckon that WRG has now clocked up over Day 1: Everybody arrived by 5 o’clock. Sadly 10,000 hours working on the Staveley site. We haven’t estimated how many cups of tea Tina was unable to join us because she was that required… not allowed a holiday from a Big and Quiet George Rogers DIY store. The first event of the week was the safety introduction and video, presented Editor’s note: You may be wondering why by George our camp leader, (no wait that’s the entire camp report was written back-toColin, George was our assistant leader). We front. Well, believe me, you’re not the only then took a walk round site and were given an insight into the type of work we would be one. I can’t for the life of me work it out, so doing. When we returned we had a fabulous if any of you can come up with any possible explanation, I’d be very keen to hear it! meal from Steve and then some of us ven-
WRG BITM A year in the life
The Chairman of WRG’s ‘Bit in the Middle’ regional group brings us up to date on a successful year of canal restoration, festivals and socialising...
Bridge on the Wey and Arun canal where the canal crosses the disused Guildford to In April 2015 I was elected as the new Chair- Horsham railway. This is an almost unique man of WRG BITM following the retirement site due to the very acute angle at which the of Simon Walker who did a sterling job of canal crosses under the railway. Having leading BITM for the previous 9 years. Now found evidence of the old bridge on a previthat I have been in the role for a year it ous visit our October dig was tasked with seemed a good opportunity to update you on excavation of one side of the old bridge to our activities during that time. see how much of the original bridge reJust a few weeks after me becoming mained. Whilst the main beams of the bridge Chairman the group was at Rickmansworth were found, we understand from the project Canal Festival in Hertfordshire. This is an engineer that a complete replacement bridge annual event for BITM and we provide site will be required. Following further chainsaw services such as putting signs up in advance work in January and March this year the of the event and litter picking whilst the project is now with the Wey & Arun Canal festival is open to the public. Perhaps not the Trust to plan the replacement bridge. BITM most glamourous of work but the donation look forward to hopefully being involved in which BITM receives from the Rickmansworth building the replacement in the not too Waterways Trust for our work over the week- distant future. end makes a major contribution to funding November saw us working on IWA’s our activities for the year and, of course, our own waterway, the Chelmer & Blackwater volunteers get the opportunity to enjoy the Navigation. In the week leading up to the dig attractions at the festival at the same time the weather forecast for the weekend looked naturally including the beer tent. ominous and the weather on the Saturday In June we were scheduled to work on was the worst we have experienced for many the Somersetshire Coal Canal aiming to years. None the less we were not deterred finish a new section of canal in preparation and whilst it proved too much for some who for a planned reopening ceremony just a few retreated back to the hall, a few hardy indiweeks later. Unfortunately days before our viduals kept going all day clearing vegetation dig was due to start the landowner withdrew from the banks of the navigation. from the project and we urgently needed a December and our Christmas party saw new site for our dig. Luckily Jon Pontefract us return to an old favourite where BITM of the Cotswold Canals Trust came to the have worked over many years on the rescue and we were able to enjoy a success- Grantham Canal. Staying at Cropwell Bishop ful dig working at Bowbridge Lock in the Memorial Hall which provides excellent accentre of Stroud. commodation, our work was to extend the After a quiet summer when our volunpreviously cleared length of brash, small teers were away boating or enjoying other trees and substantial tree stumps. The Tirfor activities we returned to the Cotswold canals winches were certainly in full use throughout in September (planned this time) to work on the weekend. On the Saturday evening our Wallbridge Lower Lock. Jon once again had a amazing cook June James cooked us a fangood range of tasks lined up for us to suit tastic Christmas meal which was enjoyed by bricklayers and non-bricklayers alike. It was all present. It was good to catch up with good to play our part in supporting what has friends old and new accompanied by liberal been a major project for the Cotswold Canals amounts of beer, wine and other drinks. Trust and WRG canal camps in recent years. Following the festivity on the Saturday A key project for BITM in the last few evening we returned to site on Sunday years has been exposing Whipley Manor morning to work a few more hours before
A year in the life of WRG BITM
heading back to the hall at lunchtime for As you can see BITM have had another lunch and heading home. busy year working on both established February took us to the Wilts & Berks projects and some new / different ones not Canal at Pewsham for some traditional scrub featured on the week camps calendar. bashing just north of the A4. Working along- Through the year our members have used side local volunteers from the MCC and chainsaws, Tirfors, dumpers and excavators Foxham and Lyneham branches of the Wilts as well as hand tools and turning our hands & Berks Canal Trust, the Tirfors were once to a little bricklaying. Work allowing, we are again in full use. By the end of the weekend happy to provide opportunities for new operathe line of the canal was very much clearer. tors to learn and practise using this equipment Fast forwarding a few months to April on our digs. Some of our members are WRG 2016 we enjoyed a special dig working on instructors for excavators and dumpers for Weymoor Bridge on the Cotswolds canal near those who are looking to gain operator Latton. This dig was special for a number of status for either of these pieces of plant. reasons. Firstly we were able to complete the In addition to the work we have suparch of the new Weymoor Bridge started by ported on the waterways of Southern Engthe Easter canal camps a couple of weeks land an important part of any BITM weekend previous. Again it was good to play our part is meeting up with friends and enjoying in a major project for WRG and CCT and ourselves. The highlights of the year have really goes to show that whilst the week long been mentioned above but almost every camps and weekend digs are organised BITM weekend starts by meeting up in a separately, we share common aims and by local pub sometime on the Friday evening. working together we can support each other Whether you are a new volunteer who enin achieving those aims. At the topping out joyed your first camp and wondering what to ceremony on Sunday afternoon we toasted do next or a regular WRGie wanting to work the efforts of our dig and the 2 weeks of on any of the sites we visit we look forwards Easter camps joined by representatives from to welcoming you on one of digs soon. For both camps and the Cotswolds Canal Trust. more information please contact Dave Wedd However, this was not the only celebration of or myself on Chairman@wrgbitm.org.uk. the weekend. Equally important for BITM on Mark Gribble Saturday evening we celebrated Dave and Stellaâ€™s wedding which had taken place a few weeks previous. Dave and Stella have been at the heart of BITM since before I joined the group in 1997 and it was great to help them celebrate their happy occasion whilst also catching up with old friends over a delicious meal once again expertly cooked BITM volunteers tackling a large stump at Whitley Manor on the Wey & Arun by June.
WRG BC Our own boat club WRG BC News Did you manage to see it – I mean the Rochdale Canal episode of the badly named ‘Barging round Britain with John Sergeant’? If you did, there was our wonderful Commode Door, boating by and Flying the club burgee! There were other WRG connected people and bits in the programme but your Boat Club got, if not actually 15 minutes of fame, some few seconds of fame at least! Whew, I need to calm down. Are you going to the IWA Pelsall Festival of Water by boat? If not you may want to book in to help at the Shackerstone Family Festival the following weekend. Some of the money raised does go towards further work on the restoration of the Ashby Canal*. I understand that volunteers do get free camping and admission to the festival. Please take the trouble to look at the website and seek out the information. (I ask if you aren’t there by boat, as it is rather a distance to boat to Shackerstone from Pelsall, and still be in time to help). Anybody know of any other areas where help of the non digging sort is required? As long as it aids restoration in some, way we would be pleased to advertise it, or assist. I may have mentioned, often, (but I don’t apologise) that we plan to hold the AGM at the Pelsall gathering which is over the Bank Holiday 26-28 August. We hope to hold it on the Saturday evening but don’t yet know the programme for the weekend. Here is the planned agenda for the AGM (all comments, suggestions and advice gratefully received): Apologies: please let me know if you will not be able to attend; letter, email or text will reach me, contact details at the end of this news. Minutes of the previous AGM: These were published in Navvies after the AGM last year. Are there some members who can’t remember exactly what was written? Well sadly I can’t send you a copy if you have lost yours, as I explained in the last issue, all my records are lost! I hope you all will agree that the minutes are a correct record of the meeting.
Matters arising from these minutes. Please let me know of any. Officers’ reports: Commode Door & club representative to AWCC, Secretary and our Little Treasure(r). Allocation of funds and/or donations (How much we can allocate or donate rather depends on the preceding report!) Election of officers: Existing club officers, Lynne, Ann, Mike and Sadie, are willing to continue but again I ask members to consider being elected as a club officer. This is your chance to become involved. We need more help in things like - passing on information and maybe attending a meeting now and then, and reporting back afterwards, an email is all that would be required. The qualifications needed might include; being a club member; a good sense of humour and of the ridiculous; able to provide/open a bottle of wine (easy now with screw tops); keen on canals and specifically restoration (what on earth are you doing being a wrgie if you’re not?). Someone good at the dreaded technology would be welcome with open arms – by me at least! (This is a repeat appeal) Future plans: – Suggestions please!!! Any other business: Please let me know of anything you would like us to include. Please let me know of any canals under restoration, or new bits, you have visited. This is an important activity. We still have club burgees available from Lynne (phone number on your membership card) and window stickers for inside or outside available from me. I also have some AWCC stickers if required. Very best wishes for boating this year. I hope to see many members out and about. Should you see me please offer any help possible, as you know, I will be back boating alone after a 20 year break! xxx Sadie Heritage email@example.com mobile 07748186867 home (often the answer phone) 01733204505 236 Station Road, Whittlesey, PETERBOROUGH, PE7 2HA *Restoration progress along the Ashby is very slow and not without its problems, I won’t start to list them but those involved with funding, getting agreements with the nature lobby and local councils will find them all too familiar.
Burgees at BCN Clean Up
Good moorings were available for boaters who wanted to attend this year’s BCN cleanup in April. The accommodation at The Malthouse stables are situated on the Old Main Line near to Factory junction at Tipton, and has it’s own wharf alongside. Because of the extremely friendly nature of the sleeping quarters last year when about 80 volunteers cosied up together, 2 historic boats were tied up outside offering extra spaces for any overspill. These were Grand Union Canal Carrying Company nb Sagitta from the Dudley Canal Trust and Cowper Canal Carrier’s nb Saltaire. However, due to slightly lower attendance this year and overnight snow and frost there were few takers. WRGBC boats were also in attendance, if you knew where to look. Chris Morgan, on nb Bogwoppit had taken up the offer to borrow an empty residential mooring adjacent to the Malthouse and I moored nb Down the Hatch at the 48hr John the Lock moorings just around the corner. (These are generally safe and a useful alternative to the popular Black Country Museum moorings). The stagger back to my boat on Friday night was short and my snug and comfy bed seemed very odd at a WRG weekend, especially waking the next morning to see snow Ashby Canal: making progress, albeit slowly from my warm berth. Normality was resumed the following night when I returned after 16 hours WRGie-ing to my icecold cabin. I had not tended to the fire in my rush for breakfast that morning and now the thought of a camp bed in a noisy, draughty hall, full of snorers seemed quite tempting. I’ll definitely look out for other camps where the accommodation is accessible by boat but next time I must remember to fill a hot water bottle before beer o’clock is called! Nick Farr Saltaire and the other boats with a nice festive dusting of snow for the Clean Up
Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Jun 25/26 wrgFT Jun 25 Sat wrgNW Jun 25-Jul 2 Camp 2016-09 Jul 1-7 WAT Jul 1 Navvies Jul 2/3 wrgFT Jul 2/3 wrgNW Jul 2-9 Camp 2016-10 Jul 2-9 Camp 2016-11 Jul 3-9 Camp 2016-12 Jul 9/10 KESCRG Jul 9/10 London WRG Jul 9-16 Camp 2016-13 Jul 9-16 Camp 201614 Jul 9-16 Camp 201615 Jul 16/17 wrgBITM Jul 16-23 Camp 201616 Jul 16-23 Camp 201617 Jul 17 Sun WRG Jul 23-30 Camp 201618 Jul 23-30 Camp 201619 Jul 23-30 Camp 201620 Jul 30 Sat wrgNW Jul 30-Aug 6 Camp 201621 Jul 30-Aug 6 Camp 201622 Jul 30-Aug 6 Camp 201623 Aug 5-11 WAT Aug 6/7 London WRG Aug 6-13 Camp 201624 Aug 6-13 Camp 201625 Aug 6-13 Camp 201626 Aug 13/14 wrgNW Aug 13-20 Camp 201627 Aug 13-20 Camp 201629 Aug 20-27 Camp 201630 Aug 27-Sep 3 Camp 201631 Sep 1 Navvies Sep 2-8 WAT
Sussex Ouse ‘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) Wilts & Berks Canal Cromford Canal: Towpath surfacing, with London WRG Monmouthshire Canal Wey & Arun Canal: NWPG’s Summer camp Grantham Canal Cotswold Canals: Joint dig with London WRG Cotswold Canals Monmouthshire Canal Wey & Arun Canal: Leader: Rob Nicholson Grantham Canal Somersetshire Coal Canal: To be confirmed Swansea Canal Grantham Canal Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Village Hall Cotswold Canals Buckingham Arm: KESCRG annual camp. Leader: Ed Walker. Grantham Canal ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Cotswold Canals Buckingham Arm Lapal Canal Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping, and profiling & lining Wey & Arun Canal: To be confirmed Stover Canal Ashby Canal Lapal Canal Hollinwood Canal: Stump pulling on Fairbottom Branch Stover Canal Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock Press date for issue 279 Wendover Arm: Pipe capping & bank shaping, and profiling & lining
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ63 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 2016-09' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, firstname.lastname@example.org. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, email@example.com Barry McGuinness Roger Leishman Martin Ludgate Malcolm Bridge
Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis
Roger Leishman Tim Lewis
Martin Ludgate Roger Leishman
0161-681-7237 01494-783453 01442-874536 07779-478629
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
01422-820693 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07971-814986 07802-518094 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07816-175454 01494-783453 01494-783453 01564-785293 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 0161-681-7237 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01442-874536 07802-518094 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01422-820693 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07779-478629 01442-874536
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
canal society regulars
Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties Every Sunday if required Every Tuesday
Bugsworth Basin Basingstoke Canal
Ian Edgar Chris Healy
0161-427 7402 01252-370073
Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS
BCN waterways Basingstoke Canal
Mike Rolfe Duncan Paine
Thursdays Sep-Apr 2nd Sun & alternate Thu
Aqueduct section Buckingham area
Tim Dingle Athina Beckett
Every Mon and Wed Every mon am Thu pm
Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby Cotswold (E end) John Maxted
Various dates Every Sunday
Cotswold Phase 1a Chesterfield Canal
Every Tue and Thu Every Tue & Wed
Chichester Canal Malcolm Maddison 01243-775201 Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale 01376-334896
Every Friday Second Sun of month
Langley Mill John Baylis Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech
Thu and last Sat of month GCS Tuesdays H&GCT Weekends H&GCT
Grantham Canal Oxenhall Over Wharf House
Ian Wakefield Brian Fox Maggie Jones
0115-989-2128 01432 358628 01452 618010
Over / Vineyard Hill Herefordshire
Ted Beagles Wilf Jones
01452 522648 01452 413888
Every weekday 2nd Sunday of month
Bradford on Avon Derrick Hunt Lancaster N. Reaches Keith Tassart
Every Wed/Sat/Sun 3rd Sunday of month
Terry Brown Denis Cooper
Last weekend of month Two Sundays per month
Creams Paper Mill N Walsham Canal
Steve Dent David Revill
Weekly Every Wed and 1st Sat
Pocklington Canal Dick Watson Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird
2nd Sunday of month 1st Sunday of month
Sankey Canal Combe Hay Locks
John Hughes Derrick Hunt
Last weekend of month 2nd Sunday of month
Stover Canal Sleaford Navigation
George Whitehead 01626-775498 Mel Sowerby 01522-856810
Every Thu and Sat 1st weekend of month
Sussex Ouse Montgomery Canal
Ted Lintott David Carter
Jon Pontefract Mick Hodgetts
Every Tuesday morning TMCA Most days, please contact WACT
Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish Wey & Arun Canal Northern office
1st w/e of month (Fri-Thu) WAT
Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman
If you have any additions / corrections / deletions to this list, please send them to Navvies diary compiler Dave Wedd (see previous page)
CRT towpath taskforce
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.lastname@example.org, eg email@example.com 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 H&GCT IWPS KACT KESCRG
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 Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group
LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SCS SNT SORT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
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
Inland Waterways Association and other one-day working parties May 28 Sat Every Wed Jun 4/5 Jun 4 Sat Aug 6 Sat Jun 5 Sun Jun 7 Tue Jun 8 Wed Jun 9 Thu Jun 11 Sat Jun 11/12 Jun 12 Sun Jun 12 Sun Jun 16 Thu Jul 16 Thu Jun 18 Sat Jun 18 Sat Jun 21 Tue Jun 21 Tue Jun 24 Fri Jun 25 Sat Jun 28 Tue Jun 28 Tue Jun 28 Tue Aug 23 Tue Jun 29 Wed Jul 2 Sat Jul 9 Sat Jul 9/10 Jul 10 Sun Jul 10 Sun Jul 13 Wed Jul 14 Thu
IWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10amRGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm IWA Chelmsford Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Towpath surfacing, with Essex WRG IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA S.Yorks River Don: Himalayan Balsam Bash, Hexthorpe Flats from 10:00 IWA Chester Liverpoolâ€™s Eldonian Village: Clearing veg and rubbish for festival site IWA BBCW Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance 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 Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section IWA Northants Northampton Arm IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amIWA West Country Bridgwater & Taunton Canal: Himalayan Balsam Bash to be confirmed IWA Lancs&CumbriaLancaster Canal: Himalayan Balsam Bash IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10amBCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm IWA Leicester River Soar: Himalayan Balsam Bash, Aylestone Meadows 10am-1pm IWA NSSC Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10amIWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10amBCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm IWA Northants Northampton Arm IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm 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 NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm 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 Warks River Avon: Himalayan Balsam Bash, Myton Fields 10am-1pm IWA BBCW Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Veg clearance at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-
IWA branch abbreviations BBCW = Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire; Other abbreviations: BPT = Burslem Port trust; CUCT = Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Society; CRT = Canal & River Trust
Mobile groups' socials:
The following groups hold regular social gatherings
London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig at the 'Rose & Crown' Colombo Street, London NWPG: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading.
...and other one-day work
For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 4pm
Mike Carter Martin Bird Chris Chandler Steve Wood Steve Wood
07795-617803 01394-380765 01245-223732 07976-805858 07976-805858
Mike Carter David Struckett Robert Frost Martin Bird Bill Lambert Chris or Steve Hayes Geoff Wood John Brighouse Mike Slade Wendy Humphries
07795-617803 07976-746225 07743-628091 01394-380765 02476-726924 01522-689460
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
07808-878317 07977-263840 07763-561572 07710-554602
Colin Garnham-Edge 12:30 4pm
Bob Luscombe Mike Carter Colin Garnham-Edge Geoff Wood Steve Wood Steve Wood Bill Lambert Steve Wood Martin Bird Bill Lambert Chris or Steve Hayes Emma Matthars David Struckett Robert Frost
07976-805858 07976-805858 02476-726924 07976-805858 01394-380765 02476-726924 01522-689460 07976-746225 07743-628091
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Mcr= Manchester; NSSC = North Staffs & South Cheshire RGT= River Gipping Trust; SNT = Sleaford Navigation Trust; TMCS = Trent & Mersey Canal Society;
Please phone to confirm dates and times
Contact Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Contact Phil Dray 07956-185305
Camp reports Cotswold Canals
A project to rebuild a traditional brick-arched bridge capable of taking 44-tonne trucks begins with an epic nine-day camp - and an equally epic canal camp report...
Cotswold Canals: Weymoor Bridge In an attempt to produce a camp report quicker than last year (!) I drew up some daily tables for group infill…. Here is an attempt to replicate them, having translated and transcribed the scribbling! Location
Brimscombe Port Deluxe Hotel
Leadership Team Mr Martin RAF Thompson Ms Emma Nurton
Mr Martin Danks
Mr Chris TC Blaxland Mr John The Hawk Hawkins Mr Nigel Lee Mr Rob The Human Waste Bin Brotherston Mr Bob Major Crow Mr Bob Minor Coles Mr Steve Baylis Mr Richard Mixer Thomas Mr Alan Useful Lines Mr Martin Editor Ludgate Mr Xavier Germany lost 2-0 Schachtl
Ms Michelle Baylis and Camilla Mr George Bungle Eycott Ms Mel Eycott and Bungle Bump Mr Robin-I’m-not-a-local Misters Larry Wilts and Gordon Berks (W&B locals)
Friday 25th March
Work Done Gradually people arrived straight to site… some later than others…. (Sorry about the hour wait at Cribbs Causeway TC) and stood around in the sun pondering our task for the week ahead – we’ve got to bricklay at that angle??? After much talking and measuring, TC and I clambered on and over the wood former to mark out brick courses. The Brickies spent time playing with bricks and working out how the corners would fix into the bond, cutting several bricks for more playing options. Concurrently was the ongoing Great Debate - what to do about the roof. The frame structure for a marquee had been erected prior to our arrival; however there was a lot of concern over the wind and height of marquee and close location of the A419. Eventually we all headed back to the accommodation ready for the official start, safety talk and food. It should be noted that not only was there a lovely brew hut for tea and lunch breaks, but it also featured a actual, proper, flushing toilet… with paper, running water, soap, towel, locking door and window – the height of luxury. Attendance 14 Food
Lasagne and salad; Fruit salad, ice cream and hot cross buns. Rob only just out of hibernation, so only had 1 seconds!
The Hawk engaged in crisp missile warfare (prawn cocktail obviously) with TC. Talk got cultural with discussions on films, but somehow the Kardashians elbowed in and lowered the tone. Rob got his saw out to chop up TC’s wooden replica bricks, to continue with the laying out of the brick bond. Sojourn to The Ship to partake of a beverage or two.
"Hopefully you'll pick up a lot"
Saturday 26th March
cloudy, windy, wet, very windy and very wet
Work Done The Great Debate on the wedding marquee continued, and eventually concluded with action: we removed the long legs and so lowered the overall height of the roof (and therefore decreasing chances of a big white kite causing a car crash on A419) and anchored the canvas as severely as possible onto the poles and steels. Moved piles of bricks; moved scaffold towers. Alan helped Nigel fill his (water) butts from the Lock Cottage. TC did more teacher stuff: calculations and line marking. Richard taught Xavier the importance of getting the right mortar mix - lime, cement and sand. The competition to see who could make the wettest mix was unfortunately won by the weather! People (Steve, Rob and Bobs) laid some bricks - but the rain wanted the bricks to go swimming. Martin L hid in the cabin working on Navvies, waiting (in vain) for bricks to lay. In a race to get away, The Hawk drove first van back towards Brimscombe Port… with the flight case! After phoning several mobiles, Bob Minor answered and sorted John out to return with keys so we could lock up and ALL go home. Left 5:15pm. The Canal Camp project: building the arch of Weymoor Bridge.
What’s the story about the
Why? The old bridge had been demolished and all that remained of it was part of the abutments. Farm traffic currently crosses the filled-in canal via a causeway alongside the bridge site. This will need to be dug out to open the canal, so the bridge needs reinstating - and as it will carry modern farm machinery and lorries, it needs to be built for 44-tonne maximum weight goods vehicles. The wider picture: Recently our work on the Cotswold Canals has concentrated on finishing the Phase 1a section, from Stonebridge via Stroud to just below Brimscombe, which is being restored thanks to a £20m-plus Lottery-supported funding package. This was necessary because the Cotswold Canals Trust was planning a £15m Lottery bid for Phase 1b - to link Stonehouse to the canal network at Saul. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful, but a revised bid is now planned. So why are we working at Weymoor, nowhere near the Stroud end? Because once Phase 1a and 1b are finished, there may well be a shift of emphasis to the other end of the canal - so we want to keep up progess at that end too. But also, because someone kindly left some money specifically for Weymoor Bridge. Canal Camp site: Weymoor Bridge
Phase 1b: Saul to Stonehouse Phase 1a: Stonehouse to Brimscombe
Phase 3: Brimscombe to Water Park
Cotswold Water Park
Phase 2: Inglesham to Water Park
Attendance 14 Food
Chicken with potatoes and veg. Pudding - forgot to write down what.
Talking, drinking, DVD - The Men Who Stare at Goats
Xavier to me first thing in morning: "what is the English for... [makes snorting noises]?" In the part of Germany where Xavier lives, if someone is snoring it is said that they are cutting down a tree. However Xavier said that it was a whole forest being felled in Brimscombe Port each night!!! "It's not the overarching problem" - something to do with the roof over the arch!
Sunday 27th March
Sunny, showers, sun, showers
ONE hour less in bed. Arrived at site at 9:15am and as we drove over the A419 and saw marquee still in situ, signs of relief were let out. First task was to rescue the South side drowned bricks, sweep out the excess rain and begin again. And so the courses of bricks began to be laid with aplomb! Building the south-east corner we have Mr Martin Ludgate, Mr Steve Baylis is in the southwest, completing the South side team are Nigel Lee and Alan Useful Lines. Over on the North side we have Mr Rob Brotherston competing in the north-western corner with Mr Bob Major in the northeast and they are ably assisted by Mr Bob Minor and Robin-I'm-not-a-local. Ahem, and I might have spent rather a long time trying to compose a little ditty featuring ‘a Rob, Robin, Bob, Bobbin along’. Richard and Xavier formed Team Mixing. Larry and Gordon from Wilts & Berks Canal joined us today, in their green hard hats. We also had visits from various CCT blokes. Bob Minor and Robin demonstrated their speed bricklaying skills to a running commentary - however, accusations of mortar tampering and brick concealment dogged their game! The Hawk gave an example of his superb reflex reactions by catching a falling piece of the pleasurably moist chocolaty chocolate cake; alternatively it was a very lucky spasm. The WRG gennie (not to be confused with WRG Jenny!) was ill and needed an oil change, so John drove it to Bungle's house. We concocted a story where Mel goes into labour, but as Bungle is changing the oil asks John to drive bump to hospital, van then breaks down and John has to deliver Baby Bungle in the back of a WRG van! For everybody's sake thankfully this was just a fantasy story.
Attendance 14 +2 dogs. TC went home in morning due to illness (leaving plenty of his germs behind!) Martin L went back to London in evening. Gained Michelle and Camilla, Millie and Freddie (woofers) in evening. Bungle phoned and was visited. Food
Bob Coles' Pleasurably Moist Chocolatey Chocolate Cake for tea break. Roast Lamb, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, Yorkshires, stuffing, gravy; Pear tarte tatin and cream; mini Easter eggs
Changing the slightly dented trailer wheel ….to be delivered to Bungle. Stroking the dogs - Millie and Freddie getting lots of attention from anyone in arms’ reach; Bob's bats - getting brains exercised trying to solve Dingbats. Martin Danks attempting to have a Norwegian conversation with Camilla (who's Danish!).
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it" "Some of us have Heritage Queens and some don't"
Monday 28th March
Sunny, windy, cold. Storm Imogen had passed over.
Work Done Arrived on site at 9ish. Marquee still up. And bricks still in place. The morning started with lots of inspection, introspection, measuring, levelling, rubbing of chins (in lieu of shaving) and foreheads (which explains the amount of receding hairlines!) Due to the amount of rain, the plywood former had swollen and required some more screwing, Larry/Gordon came to the rescue with a tool for me to use! Today we just about laid more bricks than we took up, but don't study the figures too carefully. There was definitely a case of too many experts [or ex-spurts - an ‘ex’ is something that has been; a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure]. Meanwhile the gophers made mortar, shifted bricks and sat watching mortar dry! There are several reasons why van keys shouldn't be left in the ignition; one of the lesser known is in case the van decides to lock itself! And FEH decided to do such a thing on Easter Monday. All the doors and windows were checked for possible entry, nothing doing. Yet more chin scratching and the inevitable phonecall to Bungle. Unfortunately the spare keys were at the body shop in Newbury, which being a bank holiday was closed. While waiting for Bungle to get to site, "tea up" was called, remembering we had to put new gas canister on the Burco… ah, gas canister in back of FEH. No gas = no tea. Eventually Bungle arrived and performed his Houdini trick and liberated the keys - huge cheers all around! And Bungle collected trailer wheel The aim was to leave site at 5:30ish, but somehow 7ish is written in diary! Attendance Michelle and Camilla came to site for half a day. Larry and Gordon joined us again. Bungle phoned and visited site. 12 for tea Fish Pie, peas, broccoli, tomato salad; damson crumble, plums, ice cream
Discussing our challenging day - ha oh ha, if only we could see what was coming up! Damson stone counting: The Bobs 54; John 30; Nigel 20; Alan 20; Martin D 17; Richard 16; Steve 16; me 16; Xavier 12; RAF 9; Rob 3 (we reckon he ate the rest)
"We now have a greater understanding of the situation" "Bridge over troubled waters" "Bridge over the river….why are we doing this?" "Bridge that gap with a Cadbury's snack"
Pictures by Emma Nurton
Bricklaying under way, and the arch beginning to take shape
Tuesday 29th March
showery, sun-ish, cold-ish and RAIN
Work Done 9:30 arrival on site, marquee still holding well. More muck making by Richard and Xavier. More bricks were laid - South side: Nigel, John, Alan and RAF. North side: Rob and Bob and Bob (and me and Xavier) Bob Major had his spirit (level) broken. WRG/IWA banner finally put up. The Burco had a very weak flame, cue a call to Bungle… we had a rusty nozzle. With no Burco, we were forced to use generator and electric kettle to fortify ourselves. Attendance Steve left first thing, ill from TC's germs. 10 for tea as Alan left before (couscous!) tea. Visit by duty director Rick. Bungle phoned & visited. Food
Couscous, Lamb Tagine, mint sauce, yoghurt rathi; rice pudding and jam
Post work chocolate egg nourishment provided by John. More Bob's Bats. Drinking and talking. RAF went early to bed, looking rather TC germ infested
Bob Crow to John: "What do you lose at 70?"
Wednesday 30th March
Little bit of rain, cloudy, sun out later
Work Done After breakfast (under the Hawk's command due to an incapacitated RAF), Nigel was the recipient of a rather large rocket fired birthday cake accompanied by some husky voices singing Happy Birthday (so we could cut the cake and take it to site!) RAF was banned from site as he looked really rough, so with numbers dropping, there was only need for one van. Arrival to site at 9:30am. As the newly promoted leader, I promptly appointed Nigel as my second-incommand, so any errors could be duly blamed elsewhere. The Master Mixer (aka Richard) was kept busy and in his brief lulls became a secret brick stacker. Bricks were laid and the rows were slowly but steadily increasing. Due to the nature of the arch, each row involved laying bricks at a more acute angle; making it a challenge to maintain a safe and effective posture. South side team were Nigel, John, Larry and Gordon. North side were Rob, Bob, Bob, Xavier and me. During lunch it was noted that Rob did not eat RAF’s sarnies - causing worries he had also been infected by TC’s germs. Eventually left site at 6pm. Attendance No RAF on site. Larry and Gordon all day. Flying visit from Robin (skiving work for an hour). The Press aka Clive and Mike from CCT came along to take photos and interview various volunteers. Andrew Mirams turned up with more doughnuts. Nb: NO Bungle in attendance Food
Hawk's Special Breakfast - Eggy bread. Nigel's Birthday Cake - very yummy! Gammon (OR vegetable tart), mash, carrots, broad beans, roast onion and parsley sauce. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Reflections on the lack of Bungle calls required and the lack of leader on site... are these related? Concern around food that Rob doesn't eat - broad beans.
Rob to Bob: "How's things up your end?”
Thursday 31st March
sun and cloud
Work done RAF feeling better so took back his leadership command. 9:30 arrival on site. A day of incidents! First, the WRG gennie made a, to quote RT, "mechanical f*cked" sound and died. RAF went off to collect the CCT gennie from Alex's farm. Richard inspected and found he couldn't get his lead in the right place as it had the wrong colour electrics. So while Richard made some mortar by hand, another trip to Alex farm was needed to fetch a trannie for gennie. Finally, with power back, Richard was able to return to his magnificent mixing self. John had trouble with his water flow while filling his butts at the lock cottage. Resisted the urge to take a very fresh chicken home for tea. Due to the speed that the arch was advancing, a second tier of scaffolding needed to be put in place. Not enough was on site, but RAF found some more hiding on one of the Alex Farm runs. Still more needed so Nigel was sent off to Brimscombe Port to see what he could find (and incidentally change the kitchen gas canister). However once back at BP, FEH had other plans and had had enough and refused to start - strategically outside the accommodation. The AA were called out and said "key f*cked" Bungle was called and probably said "oh f*ck" Some incompatibility issues apparently. Which left Nigel marooned in Stroud. Meanwhile we managed to lay a brick or three. New scaffold constructions were put up, first on south side and then north. Getting to and from the brick laying faces now resembled a Krypton Factor Challenge!!! Bob minor built a mortar-less wall on the scaffold planks. Rob got sent to the south-east corner for being a naughty boy! Scenic tour back to Brimscombe Port via Bungle's house - to drop off dead WRG gennie; to pick up undented trailer wheel; and collect spare FEH keys which Bungle had fetched from the body shop earlier. Also everyone said hello to Mel and Bungle Bump. Slight panic phonecall from Nigel asking where we were as he was hungry and wanted his tea! Assured him we were on our way, and he gave me strict instructions not to let RAF and Bungle gossip!! Driving back down the Golden Valley to Stroud saw lovely red sunset, although concern was raised that Nigel was actually burning our tea! Attendance Larry, Bungle Food
Fish and chips, salad; cherry pie and ice cream
Contributing to the epic diary entry of Day 7 (which incidentally wasn't written in any order and has been a nightmare to translate!)
It was reported that Wednesday night a slightly concerned conversation occurred between Bungle and Mel along the lines of "I haven't had a call from the camp todayâ€Śâ€Śwhat's wrong???" RAF: "I think I've got the maldi-touch - everything I touch gets sick!"
Friday 1st April
Sun, cloudy - good brick laying weather!
Work done 9:30-6pm on site. Bricks were laid. Tea was drunk. Wind was blown. Cake was ate. Mortar was mixed. Cement was delivered. Brew hut was cleaned. Fingers and heads were hit. Due to brick laying angle and the age of knee joints, a variety of attempts to provide some form of cushioning occurred: Bob Minor had a sofa cushion wrapped in bin bag. [continued over]
Work done Bob Major had a jumper in bin bag, supplemented by my trousers; Rob (continued) went for the upmarket gloves in a ladybird canvas bag. Plans were being hatched for the Great Church Kneeler Robbery, shhhhh, keep quiet! Richard in a stealth-like manner replaced brick piles so when you thought you could have a break there were more bricks to lay. Had a measuring out ceremony in attempt to pre-empt a header header head-off! It was noted that according to the scaffolding tag we're actually working on a ‘Water Canal Trust Site’. Attendance Larry and Gordon on site. Visits from fellow WRGies Paul and Amanda (bringing Kendal mint cake), Andrew Mirams (with more doughnut fortification) and a number of CCT and W&B peeps. Nigel left after tea, dropping RAF at home to collect his car and drive back to BP. There was a rumour that there was no time to phone Bungle, but we think it was an April Fool's joke! Food
Curry, rice, mini popadoms, avocado dip, mango chutney. Treacle Tart.
Watching RAF make Lego digger!
"We're in the Alimentary canal class"
Saturday 2nd April
Work done Clear up accommodation, get in cars/buses/trains and go home….. Or get in vans, go to site and lay a few more bricks to help out Ian's week 2 camp! Attendance Small but select group: RAF, John, Bob, Bob, Rob, Richard, Xavier, me, Martin D Evening activities
Relaaaaxxxxx and sleeeeeeep
Apologies for anything I missed out; you should have written it in the diary sheets and then it might have made the report (hence I haven't mentioned my age comment error that made John's week). Huge thanks go to all the WRGies who contributed to the week, to RAF for great leadership, Mr Danks for fabulous food, and to Xavier for putting up with all the crazy Englishmen! A special mention must also go to Bungle who, for someone not on the camp, spent a lot of time on site, either in person or via the phone… except Wednesday, which coincidentally was the day RAF was off-site ill! (Just saying!) Let's do it all again soon??? Emma Nurton
Bob and Xavier working on the arch
For week two at Weymoor Bridge we have a rather different report - by a first-time WRG canal camp cook...
Camp cook report
Weymoor Bridge 2nd to 9th April My Inaugural Foray into the World of WRG Cookery To Cook: “To prepare food for eating, by applying heat”. I can do that, I told myself and “like a lamb to the slaughter” I proceeded to offer my services. Before I knew it, arrangements were made for me to cook on my first camp at Weymoor Bridge. Then came the doubts. Although I learnt to cook at a very young age (taught by my Mum), I have not had occasion to cook for more than twenty years, I don’t even own an oven. Oh dear, what have I got myself into? I definitely need some practice; what if:
. . . . .
Things go wrong? They don’t like my food? There is not enough to feed everyone? People are hungry afterwards? I make them ill?
I carried these negative thoughts for several weeks. And then, slowly but surely, my confidence began to return and I told myself “I can do this”. I have never had a problem before, nobody has ever refused to eat my food, no one has been ill, not even my long suffering Dad who has eaten everything I have ever put in front of him over the years, including pastry that, as a child, I had rolled to within an inch of its life, so much so that it turned black and was almost too tough to eat... What was I scared of? The number of mouths I needed to feed perhaps, but I perceived it as a challenge that I would not allow to defeat me. I then proceeded to plan my menus, collate my recipes, write daily shopping lists and complete all the associated tasks, with the aid of the Cooks’ Notes (Thank you WRG, these were a Godsend)!! At this stage, the date for camp was looming ahead in the distance but tempus fugit and the day seemed to arrive before I knew it…
Cotswold Canals Laid Back Saturday Lasagne & Garlic Bread Danish Pastries Vegetarian Option – Vegetable Lasagne Morning: Handover from the team covering the first week Kitchen Kit Check Shopping Afternoon: Dinner prep, ably assisted by my ‘SousChef ’ Andy (Birkitt). 2 April: Menu:
As I was unsure of what to expect, I had already made the meat sauce for a lasagne before leaving home, with the intention of making the white sauce and assembling the dish when I arrived. This was a good decision as it saved no end of time. Andy made some garlic bread and I had bought some Danish pastries to have as dessert. There was plenty of food for everyone (15 people), enough for second helpings and plenty left over. Oh dear, I had overestimated the amount of food required, (I think there may have been enough for the whole of Stroud!). The dishes were washed by some willing volunteers, the kitchen tidied and then it was time to breathe a sigh of relief, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the evening. 3 April: Menu:
Manic Sunday Beef Dinner Sticky Toffee Pudding Vegetarian Option – Nut Cutlets
Breakfast was made by Andy and lunch was prepared. Everyone left for camp and I was left to prepare the evening meal. I had a plan so nothing could go wrong… or could it? I had brought my slow cooker and used this to cook the beef (always a failsafe method of achieving a tender result). The joint was prepared and set to cook, it would do its own thing for several hours so no need for me to worry. I proceeded to make the pudding however I had not made sticky toffee pudding before (I now realise that a canal camp is not the best place to try out new recipes). Although quite an easy pud-
ding to make, it involved adding bicarbonate of soda to boiled dates. Of course, (as I should have remembered from my Chemistry lessons in the dim and distant past) a chemical reaction ensued with the mixture frothing up over the side of the too small saucepan. What a mess!! Eventually, with the mess cleared up, fortunately there were enough dates remaining to proceed with Lab Experiment: Take 2. This attempt proved more successful and the pudding was completed with no further dramas. Next was the daily visit to Tesco which took longer than expected as I could not find anything without asking! (Lidl, with its standard shop layout, is never around when you need it). Meanwhile, back at the ‘ranch’ it was time to start on the vegetables and accompaniments for the meal. This took forever and a day. There was far too much preparation and trying to bring everything together simultaneously proved impossible. My timings were way out; however, a valuable lesson was learned. Again, quantities were misjudged resulting in something akin to an EU food mountain. Another team of willing volunteers completed the washing-up - and another sigh of relief. 4 April: Menu:
Relaxed Monday Vegetable Soup, Boiled Ham & Parsley Sauce Apple Crumble & Custard Vegetarian Option - Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart and Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables
Again, breakfast was made by Andy and lunch prepared, and I was left alone to make the evening meal. Boiled ham today, so my trusty slow cooker came into its own again. Then it was time to tackle the food mountain. What do I do with all the leftover vegetables? The obvious answer was vegetable soup, and then what? Ok, the remaining cabbage and swede can be mashed into tonight’s potato. And still more carrots… Another trip to Tesco, it was becoming more familiar, but not much… Home again and Apple Crumble to be made. Andy had kindly brought some crumble topping from home so it was only a matter of preparing the apples. I therefore had time to make some cake today and chose to make some Oat and Cranberry muffins. Custard was made (a little too late)
and everything was in place for a far more relaxed service. Washing-up completed and another relaxing evening. 5 April: Menu:
Hectic Tuesday Thai Chicken Curry & Rice or Chicken & Ham Pie with Vegetables Sticky Toffee Pudding or Apple Crumble Vegetarian Option – Thai Chickpea Curry
The usual thing, Andy made breakfast, lunch laid out for the team to prepare, they set off and I was left alone. I had been informed that not everybody liked spicy food so I was unable to stick to my curry plan. I had plenty of chicken so what else could I make apart from curry. Of course, why not use the leftover ham from yesterday? I could make a chicken and ham pie. When was the last time I made pastry? I couldn’t remember but what could go wrong? Ok, let’s go for it, it’s all about confidence. In an endeavor to keep within the budget, I had bought chicken thighs, complete with skin and bones, as the boned variety would have cost approximately £8 more. Thirty two thighs later, I have vowed that I don’t ever want to see another unboned chicken thigh as long as I live, no matter what the cost. The old adage ‘time is money’ is so very true! Next time, I shall be happy to pay the £8 and be looking to make my savings elsewhere (or perhaps I could cook them before removing the bone!) Once the chicken had been prepared, I proceeded to make the curry. I don’t have a recipe so made it up as I went along. This is my usual style of cookery, a bit of this, a splash of that, a pinch of the other and a wing and a prayer. My problem was trying to get the chicken and vegetarian versions tasting remotely similar. I think I managed it in the end but it was a bit of time consuming ‘trial and error’. Next was the pie. I made the pastry, hoping and praying that I had made enough for a half grundy tin. I wouldn’t know until I came to roll it out and as it needed to sit in the fridge for a while there was nothing I could do until later. I then proceeded to make the pie filling using the leftover parsley sauce from the night before. Time to roll out the pastry, is there or isn’t there? Astonishingly, my guestimate proved to be correct and I was able to finish the pie.
A further frustrating trip to Tesco. No dessert made today as there was too much crumble and sticky toffee pudding remaining so I proceeded to prepare the vegetables. I boiled the rice just prior to service and wish that I hadn’t bothered. What a sticky, stodgy mess! Clean up completed and ‘relax’.
leave at 3pm however by the time I left site it was 3.30pm. I had a lot to do as nothing had been prepared for the meal and I was concerned that I would run out of time. The return journey seemed to last forever but eventually I reached the accommodation. As I had been on site I needed to shower before cooking, which took up more valuable time. The shepherd’s pie was eventually started but 6 April: Frenetic Wednesday as I had made this more times than I care to Menu: Chilli Con Carne & Rice with Nachos remember it was finished in no time. Then and Guacamole or Shepherd’s Pie & on to the chilli, which again was not too Vegetables onerous a task and before I knew it, the first Hazelnut Brownie and Ice Cream course was ready. I had panicked because I Vegetarian Option - Quorn Shepherd’s Pie had left everything to the end of the day but if I had thought about it logically the task Déjà vu at breakfast, the same routine, it was was achievable within the time, so the panic getting quite a habit. Today I too would be was unfounded. joining the team to work on the construction The team would be arriving back in site although I had to return early in order to about half an hour and I had no dessert prepare the evening meal. I had meant to prepared but I had kept my trump card for
Meanwhile on site...
While Bev was toiling in the kitchen, the rest of us were toiling away at Weymoor Bridge. Having been there for the initial weekend of the first camp, there had certainly been a great deal of progress made on the arch brickwork when I got back on the second day of Week Two. What had started out as two roughly vertical brick walls (but gradually leaning inwards, supported by the formwork), now looked more like two teams laying bricks almost on edge and gradually converging on each other. But there was still a lot to do; and what’s more, the work was getting more difficult. Not only did we still have to think about (a) keeping the brickwork in the correct bond, (b) following the special bonding pattern using the special facing bricks at the corners, (c) using the gauges made by Rob to check that our brickwork was constantly at right angles to the arch formwork and (d) gradually angling the ends in as the arch narrowed towards the crown, but also (e) not leaning too hard on the bricks that we’d just laid when adding the next course, (f) making sure that we were going to meet in the centre with an exact number of brick courses, (g) making sure we were also going to bond correctly when we met (rather than with two header courses next to each other), (h) making sure the sides of the arch would meet up perfectly in line and (i) not getting in each other’s way. Oh yes, and we had got to the point where the marquee (which I was pleased to see hadn’t blown away across Wiltshire during the gales of week 1) was getting in our way too. So with all of the careful measuring and marking out required, added to the fact that the camp ended a day early, unfortunately we didn’t quite finish the arch - ending up tantalisingly close with just seven or eight courses still to go. But never mind, WRG BITM turned out a couple of weeks later to add the final courses (see their report elsewhere), the formwork has now been lowered... and it stayed up!! Thanks to all the volunteers for working so hard on the bricklaying and supporting jobs, to Bev for cooking, to Ian or leading, and to anyone else I’ve forgotten.
today, my three-ingredient brownie which only takes five minutes to prepare: Recipe for Hazelnut Brownie: Serves 16 Ingredients: 3 Eggs, 90g Flour, 600g Nutella (other brands are available!) Method: Beat all ingredients together and bake for 30 minutes on Gas mark 4 or 180c What could be easier? Although dinner was prepared I hadn’t had time to go shopping and there was not enough bread for the following day’s lunch, hence an impromptu evening visit to the Crystal Maze (aka Tesco). 7 April: Leftover Thursday Menu: Corned Beef Hash, Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken & Ham Pie, Thai Curry, Savoury Bread & Butter Pudding Apple Brown Betty and Ice Cream Vegetarian Option - Shepherd’s Pie, Chickpea Thai Curry, Savoury Bread & Butter Pudding Unfortunately, Andy had left the team and it was now my responsibility to cook breakfast. I had never made breakfast for so many people and again, panic set in. I then realised: if Andy could do it, why couldn’t I? Again, the panic was unfounded and although I had an incident with the smoke alarm the situation was quickly under control.... Breakfast served, lunch prepared, team departed and the day was mine to create another evening meal. Although I had already planned a meal, the ever diminishing budget and surplus food I had already bought forced my hand, it was to be an evening of yet more leftovers. There was Chicken & Ham Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Chilli, Thai Chicken Curry, all of which had been stored correctly in the fridge so they were quite safe for serving again. There was also an abundance of potatoes, onions, bread, cheese, corned beef and apples. What could I do that would incorporate these ingredients? A quick look on the internet and I found Mary Berry’s recipe for Apple Brown Betty which would use the apples and bread
Peel & chop the apples and mix with the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. To assemble: put half the breadcrumbs in a tin, top with the apple mixture and finally another layer of the breadcrumbs. Bake for 45 minutes Gas mark 6, 200C. This dish was very easy and luckily I had brought my food processor as I wouldn’t have fancied rubbing all those breadcrumbs by hand. I will probably make this on future camps although next time, if I also make a crumble I would use a different fruit to provide more variety. There was still bread remaining so I decided to make a savoury bread and butter pudding, adding plenty of the surplus onions and cheese. I also made a corned beef hash to use up the corned beef and potatoes. I was mindful of the repetitive menu over the week but it seemed to go down well as the plates were cleared and most peopled had second helpings. The dishes were washed by another team of helpers and again time to relax. 8 April: Final Friday The same routine for breakfast; however on site it had been decided that the team would not be working on the final day. This meant that we were expected to clear up early. The kitchen equipment needed to be checked against the kit list to ensure that all items were returned and the accommodation needed to be cleaned and left in a presentable state. There were three of us, so this task was quite straight forward.
Verdict: Although I entered into this with some trepidation, the whole experience was far more fulfilling than I could have imagined. There were good days and not so good days however I always managed to serve dishes that seemed to be appreciated. The plates were cleared and that’s good enough for me, although it could have been that the team had built up such an appetite that they would have eaten anything. Would I cook at another camp? Yes, most definitely. Despite all the trials and Recipe for Apple Brown Betty: Serves 18 tribulations the week was very enjoyable Ingredients: 90g Butter, 500g Stale Breadcrumbs, although on my next endeavor I shall try to 3 kg Apples, 375g Sugar, 3tsp Lemon Juice, 3 tsp “work smarter not harder” as there were Cinnamon certainly things that I could have done differMethod: Melt the butter, mix with breadcrumbs, ently. spread out on a tray and bake until crisp. Bev Williams – Canal Camp Cook
Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the country begins with the Stover Canal in deepest Devon...
Stover Canal Stover Canal
The restoration work carried out by WRG last year at the Graving Dock featured on the front page of the Newton Abbot Town Council newsletter. A short article citing the work of WRG appeared on page 3 - maximum coverage! [Iâ€™m sorry but I do not have the name of the photographer of the front page picture to give a credit.] We have been fortunate to receive a grant of ÂŁ10,000 under the Tesco Bags of Help initiative (from the plastic bag levy) to continue work at Graving Dock this year. The money will be used to reinstate the base of the dock employing a skilled mason, to rebuild the chimney of the boiler unit, subject to planning permission being received, and to restore the overspill structure unearthed by the WRG at last years work camp. We are looking forward to welcoming the WRG in August this year and consider ourselves very fortunate to receive their help again. From comments received locally from the public I can assure them that their work is much applauded and appreciated. Rob Harris Trustee, Stover Canal Trust www.stovercanal.co.uk
Tra mw ay Ventiford al an rc ve Sto
Stover Canal and Haytor Granite Tramway
Ha yto rG ran ite
Canal Camp site: Graving Dock Lock Teignmouth Teign estuary
Meanwhile on the Wendover Arm they’re continuing work on reconstructing the channel, celebrating a Lottery win, ask for your help with raffle tickets...
Wendover Arm Wendover Arm
On the Wendover Arm Trust’s March working party the weather precluded any progress on the pipe capping (concreting over the pipeline that was buried in the dry canal bed to maintain the canal’s water supply function after navigation ceased – so that the channel can be rebuilt above it) so work concentrated on excavation. But by the April working party the weather was looking up and we were able to continue pipe capping, then excellent progress was made at the May working party – 7 loads of ready-mix were delivered and the pipe capping for Stage 4 is thrusting ahead towards Bridge 4. KESCRG joined us for the weekend of Boats through here in the not-too-distant future? the May working party and made good progress with the final clearance of the comGrand Union Main Line pleted Whitehouses former pumping station to Birmingham site, in particular filling up the underground chambers recently discovered at the rear of the site. Marsworth Aylesbury In June, we were due to take our delivArm ery of our first load of Bentomat (waterproof Bulbourne bentonite lining material) since 2008, with a full load of 19 rolls of a new type (with extra Tringford protection from chalky ground) to be delivTo London ered at the June working party. Roger Leishman Restoration Director Little Tring A4
Bulbourne to Little Tring: always navigable
Phase 3 Aston Clinton to Wendover: in water at reduced level, two new bridges needed
Phase 2 Little Tring to Aston Clinton: under restoration - to be completed with HLF grant
Phase 1 at Little Tring: reopened 2005 including new bridge and winding hole
Wendover Arm Trust Grand Draw 2016 On the opposite page you can read a regular update of progress from the Restoration Director, Roger Leishman, and there is not a lot that I can add to that, except tell you about the Grand Draw 2016. This is the annual fund raising event that the Trust relies on to keep the wheels turning - and tickets are enclosed with this issue of Navvies. The Trust has a very large plant hire bill each month to provide the energy to dig and move large amounts of spoil. Not to mention the costs of ready-mix concrete, reinforcing steel, concrete blocks, Bentomat, etc. The list is endless. Come rain or shine, the volunteers trundle along the towpath to the workface to continue the energetic task called ‘restoration’. If you miss a month or two of attendance, the difference is always noticeable. Even if it is the hedgerow overgrowing! The Trust is awaiting the outcome of a joint application for funding made by CRT and WAT last November, but the wheels of the HLF turn exceedingly slowly. Finger nails are rapidly getting shorter! Not too long now we hope. Hence the need for the Grand Draw 2016 to raise some cash to keep the wheels turning! This year the prizes on offer match those of previous years thanks to our very generous sponsors, who it appears give sponsorship to other waterway causes. The Trust is most thankful for the support shown by the readers of Navvies and we hope that this year they will again support the Trust. The list of prizes include:
. . . .
A week’s boat hire from Wyvern Shipping Co Ltd. A day boat hire from the Lee Valley Boat Centre A visit to the Shard for two. A £100 cash prize sponsored by Mr & Mrs B Martin (Vice President).
In addition to these prizes there are a total of twelve prizes and details will be shown on www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk The Draw will take place at Drayton Beauchamp on 4 September 2016, with results shown soon after. The Trust web site is regularly updated with news and photos so you are invited to spend a few minutes exploring the pages for all the latest news. Meanwhile, send the counterfoils and cheques to Michael Wright, the Promoter, and even seek more tickets and chances to win in this year’s WAT Grand Draw 2016. Many thanks in anticipation of your essential support.
Stop Press: WAT wins Lottery funding Since sending in the above article, the Wendover Arm Trust has had the excellent news that the bid for £1.6m from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been successful in passing the first stage of HLF’s approval process. That means that the money has been earmarked for WAT and if nothing goes wrong, it should get the Stage 2 approval which means that work can start on the Lottery-funded work. So what will it pay for? Basically the completion of the remaining length of dry canal which needs to be rewatered. This rewatering - as you will know from the regular reports in Navvies - is a long process, involving uncovering the buried water supply pipeline in the canal bed, covering it in concrete, profiling the channel, lining it in waterproof Bentomat material, and more. The Trust’s volunteers have toiled away at this for 11 years since the reopening of the previous length at Tringford in 2005. The Lottery Grant will be a tremendous boost to finishing this section, opening up a 3 mile restored length, leaving just the less difficult watered stretch to Wendover to complete - “if nothing goes wrong”, as I said. So what can go wrong? One possibility: the Trust could struggle to raise the remaining £300,000 of ‘match funding’. So by supporting the raffle you will be helping to ensure that the Trust has the necessary funds for the HLF cash to be confirmed, and work to go ahead.
Wey & Arun Canal
Volunteers and contractors met a tight deadline to get an important new canal bridge opened to traffic. Vehicles began using Compasses Bridge, at one of the entrances to the Dunsfold Park aerodrome and business complex, on schedule on 31 March. The bridge, at Alfold, is a strategic part of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s restoration policy in Surrey. It is replacing an ageing concrete causeway which blocks the waterway. The entrance road to Dunsfold Park was successfully realigned over the Easter weekend (necessary to fit in with the aerodrome’s busy events schedule), completing phase one of the Trust’s Compasses programme. Volunteers, including visiting groups from WRG, NWPG and KESCRG, worked with contractors C J Thorne on the realignment and surfacing, moving the road off the 1930s causeway. Work on the project, which includes reopening nearly a mile of the canal’s Summit Level to navigation, began in earnest 15 months ago. Phase two – demolition of the causeway, re-creation of the canal cut and landscaping began in mid-April. There’s a canal under there: the new bridge in use Volunteers are now cladding the bridge’s sides and training walls in bricks and completing the paving on the bridge surface - work which will continue during this summer’s Canal Camps. The Trust plans to officially open the new bridge and restored canal section on Sunday, October 2nd. It will be one of the locations for celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Wey & Arun Canal from Pallingham in West Sussex to Shalford in Surrey. WACT
W&A and Buckingham
The rather vertiginous picture (right) is a chainsaw’s eye view of the current limit of the Buckingham Arm, during a WRG Forestry working party to remove trees from the former Bridge 1 site. This is to enable the restoration investigation works the Buckingham Canal Society have agreed with CRT ready for the WRG summer Camps, which will begin work on laying foundations and the start of rebuilding work on the bridge. (The first camp is full up. but there is still space on the second week on 30 July to 6 August.) Meanwhile the Canal Society’s own volunteers, supported by various charity and corporate volunteering teams, have continued clearance at Bourton, Cosgrove and Little Hill Farm sites, held a ‘Clean for the Queen’ litter pick at Cosgrove, and acquired one of the pumps advertised in the Navvies plant sale - and are wondering if they can make it work!
Our appeal to replace all four of our van / minibuses has hit six figures, and the first two vans have been ordered...
WRG Van Appeal
Van Appeal Update
The Van Appeal is now officially in six figures, at £105,000, following a successful weekend of fudge selling at Cavalcade festival and the continued generosity of donors. Special thanks must go to WRG NW, whose donation of £2,500 came at just the right time to get the appeal to the milestone £100,000 mark. The sun came out for this year’s IWA Canalway Cavalcade at London’s Little Venice and so did the crowds. The WRG fudge stand was as popular as ever, with some people even returning to the stall having developed a taste for it last year! After three full days of fudge selling the team almost entirely ran out, with all the vanilla fudge being finished off by lunchtime on Monday. In total, £2,110.42 was raised to add to the Van Appeal total; a fantastic amount and nearly £500 more than last year. This could not have been achieved without the huge effort put in by the volunteers on the stand over the weekend, with their very convincing sales pitches – particular recognition to Jude Palmer for reassuring the public that there is no such thing as calories on a bank holiday! Once again, huge thanks must also go to Carolyn Smith for donating the fudge and producing such an irresistible treat… The next big fundraising effort will already have happened by the time you read this, with two teams taking part in the Chesterfield Canal Trusts Boat Pull event. Mike Palmer, Jude Palmer, Fudge-selling at Little Venice Paul Ireson and IWA Fundraising Officer, Sarah Frayne will pull narrow boat ‘Dawn Rose’ nearly 6 miles between them on Sunday 12th June. You can sponsor them at www.virginmoneygiving. com/birthdayboatpull or www.virginmoneygiving. com/wrgboatpull. It is both Jude and Sarah’s birthdays on the day, so be generous! Sarah Frayne
Mike & Jude on the pull...
STOP PRESS we have just bought our first two new vans. Unfortunately they hadn’t been delivered as we went to press - but we’ll have a picture next time.
Navvies News Introducing: Guess the miles! How hard do the WRG vans really work? Think you can guess? Well now you can put your knowledge to the test - as part of the WRG Van Appeal, we are running a competition to see who can guess the total number of miles the six vans cover throughout summer. WRG are running 23 camps this year, so think big! Enter your guess via the IWA website, fill in the competition form below, or copy it onto a piece of paper and send it in, and be in with a chance of winning an exclusive ‘Van-tastic’ WRG hoody and a £20 voucher for Tring Brewery. If multiple correct entries are received, a name will be drawn at random. Winners will be announced at the end of September. Good Luck!
Guess the WRG Van Miles Competition Entry Form Name : Email : Tel:
WRG Leaders Training Day 2016 Thanks to everyone who was involved in presenting, cooking, organising and putting forward ideas for this years leaders training day. We successfully introduced 40+ people to the new WRG DofE guidance notes, an overview of IWA ResCom, pulled some ideas together for improving the first day experience on a canal camp, came up with some new approaches to finding future leaders, discussed better ways of doing on site training (toolbox talks) and had the first showing of the new health and safety video! The afternoon cooks section was also well attended and the evening discussions over dinner and in the pub covered a wide range of topics to do with leading camps. The major feedback from this year’s LTD was that we seem to be doing far more ‘split site’ camps than previously which lead to a lot of extra things for the leadership team to consider – an updated version of the ‘multi site camp’ article from 2012 will be in the next issue [or if you want to read it before then, to help you with the summer camps, please contact the editor]. Other points raised were that all canal camp sites will now require safety specs to be warn at all times and also that we need to do further work at designing out or mitigating the risks of working at heights on our sites. Ed Walker
Guess (in miles) : Post this form to: Sarah Frayne, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA.
And speaking of vans... Thank you to Robin Higgs who replied to the letter in issue 275 suggesting the new vans might have something more exciting to decorate them than the usual WRG logo. Robin not only agreed that we should “use the opportunity that the new vans present to promote the excellent work that WRG does” (and feels that just ‘waterway recovery group’ has little impact), but sent in a photo of a curtain-sided artic gloriously decorated in support of the Mid Hants Railway with huge pictures of six steam locomotives! Can we match that? Should we even try?
To Dave Wedd and Stella Wentworth or WRG BITM on their wedding. BITM duly celebrated with this appropriate cake...
Plastic pipe available Free to a good (or indeed any) home. We have some lengths of plastic pipe which appear to be underground water and gas pipe – all dimensions approximate! 12” diameter x 18’ long blue pipe – 2 lengths 12” diameter x 6’6” long yellow pipe with pre formed shallow bend 12” diameter x 5’ long yellow pipe – 2 lengths 90 degree elbow in yellow, 7” OD. Conyact firstname.lastname@example.org. All will be going to landfill if no-one wants them.
Congratulations (2)... ...to Kirsty Wallace and Becky Parr on their marriage.
Unfortunately as we went to press we still hadn’t confirmed the site for our annual Bonfire Bash / Reunion major working party this autumn. However we are looking at a couple of possible sites and hope to be able to announce something soon. So in the meantime put the date 5-6 November in your diaries and keep an eye on the WRG website and Facebook page.
Ann Ridley RIP Ann Ridley died on 18th May after suffering badly from Parkinsons for several years. She helped me on many occasions with the cooking and cruised the waterways extensively on a series of boats. Sue Burchett
Weymoor Bridge update
...to Jude Palmer on being runner-up in Towpath Talk magazine’s Volunteerof the Year awards. Jude is seen receiving her award at Bridge 70, Uttoxeter Canal.
Following the work on the canal camps reported in this issue, the arch of Weymoor Bridge was completed during a WRG BITM weekend. Here they are, load-testing it.
And finally... This might look like a flashback to the 1960s when Navvies Notebook was often illustrated with sketches, but is in fact one of a series by volunteer Dhush Selvarajah to illustrate the second Uttoxeter Canal camp at Easter. Unfortunately we couldn’t find space in this issue for “Martin pointing”, “Alex takes five” or “Gary is told the gennie has packed up... again!”
Infill Deirdre’s back! Plus an odd object to identify... Deirdre’s D of E special At the recent Leader Training weekend there was a lot of talk about handling young Duke of Edinburgh volunteers. Fortunately Deirdre has plenty of advice for prospective camp leaders.
Dear Deirdre How do you handle troublesome D of E volunteers on a camp? Deirdre writes In my experience, I find all it takes is a hint that you may not sign off on their certificate to make D of E volunteers toe the line. Handling old hands is far more of a problem. Because they aren’t in it for a certificate, they’ve no incentive not to be bloody annoying and useless. I’ve yet to come up with a solution for that but there’s some satisfaction to be had in making them be the designated driver for the evening.
Dear Deirdre I’ve just found out that the camp I’m leading is 40 minutes drive from the accommodation. I don’t want my D of E volunteers getting bored on the journey, so have you any tips for lively games I could play in the van to keep their spirits up?
Deirdre writes Most teenage volunteers I’ve had on my own camps seem to spend van rides slumped on the back seat weeping softly. Perhaps that’s just the way I lead my camps though. I suggest letting them have some peace rather than insisting they join in a jolly game of ‘I spy’. Remember that they’re there to get a certificate not to have a good time.
Dear Deirdre I’m being asked to lead a camp this summer but the work is all bricklaying and I’m terrible at it. How can I hide my lack of knowledge from the volunteers?
Deirdre writes Hiding your lack of ability is 99% of the challenge of leadership. I suggest you find a good MUP and delegate all on-site responsibility to them while you make a big show of making sure the edge protection is all in place. It’s an approach that’s served many of WRG’s best leaders for years. Failing that I suppose you could always go to the training weekend and actually learn something?
Puzzle Pic The strange object pictured (right) was one of the odder things pulled out of the murky depths of the Walsall Canal during the BCN Clean Up. So what is it? We’ve honestly no idea. We don’t even know if it’s canal related or not. If you have any suggestions, serious, frivolous or whatever, please send them in and we’ll publish any printable ones in the next issue.
This This year year the the Wey Wey & & Arun Arun Canal Canal hosted hosted our our annual annual WRG Training Weekend. WRG Training Weekend. Here Here are are some some of of the the skills skills being being taught... taught...
Navvies magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways. June-July 2016.