50 years of restoring waterways
See you at the Reunion?
waterway recovery group
First boat through Compasses Bridge Issue No 279 October-November 2016
Been there... 3 2
7 6 8 4
9 11 13
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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... 50th anniversary: 50 top WRG T-shirts for 50 years of canal restoration! 4-5 Coming soon book now for the Reunion! Plus Christmas digging and more. 6-7 Camp Reports Monmouthshire & Brecon plus three different Cotswold sites 8-23 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies’ work party dates 24-29 Letters square sails on the canals? And credit for Navvies magazine 30 Obituary Tom Henshaw 31 WRGBC Boat Club News 32-33 Progress our regular roundup 34-39 Camp report Progress on the Grantham Canal at Woolsthorpe 40-43 Navvies News and Appeal update 44-45 Infill cooking with Japanese knotweed 46 Been there, done that even more T-shirts 47
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 email@example.com. Press date for issue 280: 1 November.
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: Official opening of Compasses Bridge on the Wey & Arun Canal: the first small boat is seen passing under the almost complete bridge, after Dame Penelope Keith declares it open (Picture by Martin Ludgate). Opposite page, inside back page and back cover: see pages 4-5 for an explanation of our ‘50 T-shirts or 50 years’ feature.
50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 “Been there, done that...” “...and got the T-shirt.” Over the last four issues of Navvies we’ve been marking the magazine’s 50th anniversary year with a series of articles - and generally they’ve been fairly serious ones. We’ve done a ‘Where are they now?’, looking at what’s happened to the projects the volunteers of 1966 were working on; we’ve put together 50 brief profiles of different waterways we’ve helped restore over the years with a map to show how they’re spread across the country; we’ve listed 50 jobs already completed and waiting for the boats to arrive (and explained why these unsung successes are so important). But now it’s time for something a bit more light-hearted... Ever since somebody first put the words ‘waterway recovery group’ (in Helvetica Bold) on a piece of red cloth and wore it, T-shirts have been a feature of WRG. We’ve had the plain (large and small logo) versions; ones with a list of the year’s canal camps on the back; special ones to identify the WRG Site Services volunteers at the Inland Waterways Association’s National Festival and other events; unofficial ones (including some fairly dodgy designs) organised by the volunteers of individual camps; some clever ideas from the WRG regional groups, and some truly wacky home made one-offs. So on the inside front cover, inside back cover and outside back cover of this issue are 50 memorable designs, collected from a ‘crowd-sourcing’ session on the WRG Facebook page (thanks to everyone who contributed, and apologies to anyone whose pics I haven’t used), a camera being flashed around at a recent London / NorthWest joint dig, the inner recesses of the editor’s wardrobe, and more. And yes, it turns out there are enough different designs that we could easily do another 50 next time if we wanted! Something old: we start on page 2 with a selection of older designs beginning with (1) a 1993 Reunion long-sleeve shirt with ‘Wendover’ written down the sleeve (it was the ‘Wendover Arm’. geddit?) then (2) a Bude Canal Camp design with a few words written in Cornish, (3) a 2001 shirt which dates from the first year that the Reunion was referred to as a Bonfire Bash (and hasn’t been ironed since), (4) and (5) WRG’s 25th and 21st birthday Big Digs, (6) the Anderton Lift fund-raising abseil, (7) an IWA Worcester Festival shirt from 1999, and (8) a very early (and clearly well-worn) example of a Camps T-shirt from 1988 (are there any earlier ones?) We then have a New Year 1999-2000 Camp T-shirt (9) in a fetching lime green, another IWA Festival shirt (10), and one to mark WRG Works (11), which was a WRG 30th anniversary fortnight combining a Lichfield camp, Montgomery Reunion and Herefordshire & Gloucestershire reopening event at Over Basin. The eagle-eyed will spot that the 1993 Camps shirt (12) featured a three-week Wey & Arun camp which was actually a misprint, then we have a cast T-shirt for the fund-raising pantomime at the 1998 Salford IWA Festival (13) featuring the ‘Full Montgomery’ (enough said). We round off this selection with a 1994 Reunion design (14) whose design was a bit of a mystery to most non-London navvies, another early canal camps shirt (15) and one from the Over Basin WRG Training Weekend (16). Something new: Flip to page 35 and we move into the present millennium with some more up-to-date designs starting with the snazzy full-colour Forestry logo (17), the up-tpthe-minute 2014 Bonfire Bash design featuring an HS2 train (18), the last-but-one IWA Festival at Burton (19), WRG North West showing their taste for ‘red medicine’ (20), the very last IWA Festival (21), and the 2015 camps ‘anatomy of a WRG volunteer’ shirt (22). Something borrowed: Any good idea is worth nicking, and over the years we have borrowed a few well-known designs from other folks. Here, the designers of the London WRG Tube map T-shirt depicting London’s canals and their pubs (23), the 2000-2001 New Year
Been there, done that...... Camp shirt (24), the 2010 Reunion shirt (25), the WRG NA former mobile group’s design (26), the 1994 Ulster Canal Camp shirt (27) and the WRG catering team shirt (28) demonstrate their shameless plagiarism of London Underground, 20th Century Fox, WD-40, the SAS, Guinness and the Hard Rock Cafe respectively. Something Blue: It must be admitted that the odd bit of smutty innuendo or dodgy double-entendre has crept into WRG T-shirt designs on the odd occasion. So we’ve reserved this darkest corner of the inside back page for these dubious designs. If you’re of a sensitive nature, flip the page now. If not, you might pause to wonder what exactly it is that WRG girlies (29) do “with a nailfile slowly” (incidentally NSOW stood for ‘not scared of worms!); but we can tell you exactly what a WRG Tart (32) is - it’s somebody who doesn’t limit their digging to any of the WRG groups, but will ‘go with anyone’. And the other four are what I’m afraid is likely to happen if people will insist on inviting WRG to work at Cobblers Lock (30), somewhere pronounced ...and we forgot the most obvious one! ‘beaver’ (31), Nob End on the Manchester Bolton & Bury (33) and a scrub-bash at Cropwell Bishop (34). Bear this in mind if you’re planning to run a dig at Titford, Great Bottom Flash, the Dick Brook Navigation or the Royal Arsenal Canal. Moving swiftly on... Something else: Some of the designs defy any attempts at categorisation - and here are 16 of them, starting with a one-off for the editor’s birthday present a few years ago (35), a very slow sponsored trip on a pedal-powered narrow boat called Escargot (36), and the most obscure pictogram ever (37) at the 1999 Over Basin reunion (Give up? see bottom of page for translation). On the 2001-2 New Year Camp (38) the overprint of ‘TBA’ stood for ‘The Basingstoke Again’ (as it did for most of the 1980s in the south), then we have the result of inviting a load of WRGies to a fancy dress party with an international theme (39) we think this is an attempt at Italian - followed by the infamous Aston Locks flying dumper shirt (40). I have to say using a misquote from the words of the funeral service is an odd way to go about advertising our activities (41) but hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity; meanwhile the Mon & Brec Bonfire Bash at Fourteen Locks was commemorated by a design featuring this dazzling lock gate / catherine wheel detail (42). Next we have what appears to be a WRGies skiing trip (43) based on the ‘navvyman’ logo (as featured in No 5), and a one-off shirt (well, actually a two-off if you think about it!) designed to quell a little bit of niggle between the ‘red shirt’ WRG crew and ‘blue shirt’ IWA team at a festival a long time ago (44). My thanks to Lesley for all the stitching to turn my wacky idea into reality. Next we have a reminder that WRG shirts come in all sizes (45), followed by another birthday special (46) - yes, there really is a shirt with a picture of the editor reading Navvies in the bath! If dumpers can fly, then so can vans (47) - and is there any limit to the bad puns on the pronunciation of ‘belvoir’ (48)? No, it would appear not (49). Finally, let’s end where it all started, with the plain and simple red WRG logo T-shirt (50). Compiled by Martin Ludgate with lots of assistance providing pictures Buy WRG logo T-shirts online: see wrg.org.uk and follow link to WRG Wear. Next time: something special (and more serious) to mark the end of our anniversary year.
Pictogram: ‘Penny for the guy’. (ask anyone who was around in 1999 why)
Coming soon... The WRG Reunion 5-6 November: Two Canals and a Boat Load of Beer You should be receiving this just in time to book onto our annual huge working party and get-together for all canal volunteers, the Reunion (also known as the Bonfire Bash), though obviously you’ll have done it weeks ago! This year, we are returning to the site of the 2014 Reunion on the Chesterfield Canal, plus a splinter site on the Cromford. The work will mainly be scrub bashing, centred on two locations where there are exciting proposals for the canal to reopen (as well as a chance to make the point to the builders of the HS2 railway that the canal needs preserving). At Cromford, for those less keen on scrub-bashing there will be some towpath laying to continue work done by WRG North West earlier in the year. Jude Palmer will be producing vats of fabulous food, Squidge has designed an awesome tshirt and there is even some worthwhile work to do – so why haven’t you booked already? A couple of notes – as last time at Chesterfield, we will have to move beds out of the main hall each morning. Secondly, despite the headline above, there won’t be alcohol provided for you – there is a bar in the leisure centre though which will be open, or bring your own. So book now, either via wrg.org.uk or using the form below. See you there!
waterway recovery group Chesterfield & Cromford Reunion 2016 I would like to attend the WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on 5-6 November Forename:
Address: email: Phone:
Any special dietary requirements?
I require accommodation on Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £ Association’) for food
(please make cheques payable to ‘Inland Waterways
(cost is £13 for the weekend based on £3 breakfast and evening meal, £2 lunch) How will you be travelling to the Reunion? Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:
Signed: Send to: Reunion Bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA
London WRG & KESCRG Wey & Arun Canal Christmas dig: 3-4 December The Festive Season kicks off with a joint dig by two of our southern-based regional groups on the Wey & Arun Canal, putting the finishing touches on Compasses Bridge (see front cover) and whatever else the Wey & Arun Canal Trust can throw at us. And as the work site is at the entrance to Dunsold Aerodrome, and as Dunsfold Aerodrome is famous for being the location of the test track used on BBC Top Gear, we thought we’d base the Saturday night Fancy Dress and party games on a ‘cars’ theme. You don’t have to be a regular with either group to come - anyone and everyone is welcome. See our diary pages for the London and KESCRG contact details, or see either group’s Facebook page.
Christmas Camp on the Cotswold Canals: 26 December - 1 January Once again we’re on the Cotswold Canals, this time we’re staying in the spacious accommodation of Brimscombe Port, and once again Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden is the leader. But we’ve been promised it won’t be so far to walk to site as last year! So join us for a chance to scrubbash your way through the ‘cold turkey’ days from Boxing Day to New Year. Book via www.wrg.org.uk or contact head office on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01494 783453.
Camp 2017-01: 18-25 February, Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Our 2017 Canal Camps programme is currently being planned, and we should be able to include a booklet with the whole year’s schedule in the next issue of Navvies. But we can tell you now that it will kick off with a week of towpath improvement and vegetation clearance on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in rural Essex on 18-25 February. Book via Head Office or wrg.org.uk as usual for canal camps.
BCN Clean Up: 1-2 April 2017 This is our annual weekend of pulling old bikes, prams, tyres and god-knows-what (one time we found a coffin!) out of the murky waters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, in an effort to keep these fascinating but under-appreciated waterways open and to persuade folks to take a bit more care of them. We’ll have details of the site, the accommodation and how to book in forthcoming issues, but in the meantime note the date in your diary.
Canalway Cavalcade 5-7 May 2017 – Early Call for Volunteers More of a ‘coming not quite so soon’ than a ‘coming soon’: the May Day Bank Holiday may not be upon us yet, but it’ll be here before we know it and that means Canalway Cavalcade will be upon us once more. Cavalcade is the Inland Waterways Association’s annual three day festival at Little Venice (near Paddington in London), and one thing that makes it happen is a large team of volunteers. Pete Fleming will be leading the work camp once again, with Emma Greenall as second in command. George Rogers will be cooking and helping Pete with some of the administrative workload! So they are on the hunt for a team of volunteers to set up and run the festival infrastructure and manage the site. For more information, a general chat about what is involved or to register your interest, contact George Rogers on email@example.com or 07789 493967. And if you want to find out what it’s like without revealing your hand to the leadership team, speak to any one of the regular volunteers (they’ll all tell you it is brilliant though). For regular volunteers, you should have had your booking forms by now – if not chase George!
Leader Training Day: 13 May 2017 Still a long way in the future I know, but if you’re a camp leader, assistant or cook, or are considering giving it a go, this is the best way to find out what’s involved and have all your questions answered. Note the date, and look out for updates in future issues.
Ty Coch Locks on the Mon & Brec will be reopening in early 2017. Our final camp was spent on finishing touches, archaeology, and wading for weeds!
Monmouthshire & Brecon Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals Week 2: 9-16 July 2016 The second week of the Monmouthshire camp took over from the first which had made a great deal of progress on the site at Ty Coch near Cwmbran. Planned work included path construction, picnic site landscaping, weed clearance, lock clearance, tree stump removal, lock gate construction and fitting, and possible creation of picnic tables and chairs from felled trees on site. In the end the main emphasis of the work became path and picnic site construction, including archaeological investigation, and clearing a foreign weed which had invaded a 100m stretch of the canal. Fortunately two volunteers from the first week were gluttons for punishment and stayed for another week of hard work - well done Romain and Ben. The leaders were completely new to the area and many thanks go to Ralph who not only led the first week but stayed on for the second to guide us
newbies around and stop us getting lost somewhere in the Welsh valleys. Saturday 9th Everyone arrived on time and settled into the Methodist hall in Cross Keys. After introductions and the safety briefing with the excellent new safety video, which was viewed from comfy sofas in the spacious crypt under the church, we drove to site to let everyone see what they were in for. Jacket spuds for tea, with various accompaniments. Sunday 10th We had an induction on site and safety briefing from Heidi and Richard the local managers. The work was divided into two teams with team one led by Ralph continuing the path construction started by the previous week’s camp and beginning the archaeological examination of the proposed picnic area, which became known as the ‘sacrificial pagan henge’ due to its shape. The dig progressed by approx 5mm depth over a 4m square area and produced much pottery and glass. Apparently the path included one curve and a “wiggly bit” according to the experts. Navigable to Brecon 35 miles
Mon & Brec Fact File
3 3 Cwmbran Road built The Canal Camp project: Building a new access pathway and picnic area 4 on canal line at Ty-Coch Locks, plus archaeological Crumlin Arm above Cwmcarn excavation and invasive plant removal. buried under new road Canal Camp Why? Lock restoration is almost complete Cwmcarn site: Ty-Coch
Length under restoration: 15 miles Locks: 50 Date closed: 1930-1962
(opening early 2017); our work anticipates the site beoming a major attraction.
Cr um lin
New link proposed
r Usk Rive
The wider picture: There are proposals to reopen Ar south from the navigable limit at Five Locks into Malpas m Fourteen Cwmbran town centre. Opening that length as well as Ty-Coch Locks locks will bring pressure to bear on the authorities to reinstate Newport the intervening (very.tricky) one mile section where a road was Original route through built on the route. This in turn would make the case for opening the Crumlin Arm and a new route to the River Usk. Newport obliterated To the Bristol Channel
Team two moved approximately 8 tons of soil from the area below one of the locks using shovels, buckets, a floating pontoon, wheelbarrows, a small walk-behind powered dumper and lots of muscle. Roast pork for tea, after which our French volunteer, Romain, desperate to watch the European football final, went to the pub to watch the second half, but like all the locals in the pub was devastated when Portugal won. Monday 11th A small team were diverted to the site’s access road, to reveal a recently planted hawthorn hedge lost somewhere beneath the rampant prickly, stingy undergrowth. It was weird to go scrubbashing whilst carefully sparing every tiny sprig of hawthorn, and mourning the odd one spotted too late! By lunchtime it was all neat and tidy. Everyone else carried on with path work and started reconstruction of henge; the archaeological dig progressed producing a few finds, but the area outside of the official dig yielded much more interesting artifacts including clay pipes from the Charge of the Light Brigade and much more pottery. Having previously been assured there would be no substantial archaeology to find, upon starting to dig the trench to form the henge, we immediately discovered a previously unknown Victorian drainage pipe under the site which was further traced with trenches 2 and 3 in very much a Time Team fashion. Bryn in Trench 2 discovering a possible foundation and the mysterious drain pipe, Chris C in Trench 3 got very excited about clay pipes and finding more of the fine terracotta drain, identified and dated by Ralph from the maker’s mark on each section. The henge itself is planned to be a circle of logs buried vertically in the ground to form a ring, some are to be the correct height to make convenient seats; to work out the height of these an average bum height of the volunteers was hastily calculated and the logs buried to suit this. So anyone without an average bum will be out of luck or at least a bit uncomfortable. The first logs were fitted to the entrance. Meanwhile lock gate carpentry was skilfully carried out by David and Andy, forming the oak heel post of a new gate for a newly restored lock. Apart from the heelpost these are a unique design of modular steel gate; they are the same cost, weight and appearance as traditional oak but last four
“Lock gate carpentry was skilfully carried out’”
times longer and can be assembled in situ with a simple gantry so they can be installed by anyone, anywhere. A very yummy stew and dumplings were enjoyed for dinner followed by a dash to Cwmbran to the cinema... Ab Fab was great but Ghostbusters got mixed reviews ranging from awesome to awful, while Tarzan also got a mixed response and apparently Cheetah was nowhere to be seen! An attempt at table tennis was made by some of the more energetic members of the camp and fruit salad was enjoyed by all. Tuesday 12th As a priority we were asked by the site managers if we would be willing to assist with clearing a foreign invasive weed, Azolla Filiculoides which was choking a length of the canal. The council were on hand to truck away the weed and bury it, a legal requirement. The weed was thought to have entered the watercourse when terrapin owners, fed up with their lessthan-suitable pets, released them into the wild along with some of the weed supplied with them. Nothing can eat it, apart from an American aphid that will eat nothing else (which the canal managers plan to introduce next spring to prevent infestation), so the weed grows out of control. Initially rakes and nets were used from the bank but this proved very slow. After morning break several of the volunteers donned waders and, after being warned to test the depth of the water before proceeding, proved to be more effective at chasing the offending plant. Thanks to the waders Mollie, Rex, Bryn, Andy, Chris B, Chris C, Alex and Rae who
seemed to enjoy themselves a lot, despite some of the waders leaking or being five sizes too big. Somehow I think we never grow out of playing with water! Whilst all this was going on some more excellent (and dry) lock gate carpentry was performed. In the evening there was another trip to the centre of entertainment that is Cwmbran, this time to try out our bowling skills. Despite a poor start, Rex triumphed overall from the two games. Wednesday 13th The weed clearance carried on apace with Ben utilising his kayak to persuade the floating menace to leave the lock so it could be trapped in the rakes, Chris C had the brilliant idea of using floating planks as a boom to persuade every last bit of the evil growth to be caught. By the end of the day the canal was unrecognisable from when we started. There was a delivery to site from a kind fellow from Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, of a mini keg of ale and a box of cider, in recognition of our efforts. This was much appreciated by the whole lot of us once safely back at the hall. Fish & Chips were enjoyed in the evening, from the Crosskeys Fish Bar, to give the cook a night off. Their speciality appeared to be the curry sauce which went down a treat. Thursday 14th A full day of digging ensued with the trench for the henge coming along well. The depth was measured in ‘Mollies’ with the ultimate depth being 0.55 Mollies. Luckily we had the international standard Mollie on site to measure against! The path grew in length and much sawing took place to make the edging fit, and form the pegs for fixing the edging in place. Several people were able to play with (I mean learn to operate safely) the small walkbehind barrows to move concrete blocks around the site. We were filmed whilst hard at work by what sounded like a huge wasp but turned out to be a drone being used to produce a publicity film for the council. Ralph was also interviewed so look out for the epic production in the future. An archaeologist from the council visited us to inspect the unexpected drain pipe... Q: do all archaeologists have blue toenail varnish and high heels? She was satisfied that we had recorded the find and that it was OK to bury it and continue with construction. Some of us wanted to go swimming,
but the Cwmbran Stadium didn’t have a public session until 9pm so, disappointed, we all just showered as usual. Only then did we learn of another pool in nearby Risca, with better timing. The girls could not face the hassle of washing and drying their hair all over again, so in the end only five of us went. Rex decided he had had enough of our van driving and walked from the site back to the accommodation, it took him 3 hours. We almost sent out a search party but knew he would make it sooner or later. Delicious meatballs for tea with an unspecified powdery Italian cheese from Aldi. Friday 15th Digging continued, around the archaeologists and the picnic (henge) area was progressed to a stage that the local site management was more than happy with. Path building also progressed with Chris, Steve , Rae and Vicky kept busy making stakes and laying weed block and wood chippings. Members of the local council popped in at lunchtime to thank us for our efforts; no cakes were forthcoming, probably due to austerity measures. After cleaning and counting tools we went to Cwncarn reservoir for a picnic and to sing Happy Birthday to David (only two days early). A big thank you to everyone for a great week and a lot of hard work. Special thanks go to Sarah for keeping us all very well fed, and of course to Chris C for co leading and reminding me of everything I forgot. Steve Harmes
Doing some ‘Time Team’ style digging
We’ve been working at three different locations along the Cotswold Canals this year - and we’ve got reports from all three, starting with Weymoor Bridge...
Camp reports Cotswold: Weymoor
other as they rebuilt (there was a bridge here before, although you might not guess!) the arch of Weymoor Bridge. There was a lot Leader: Ian Gaston; Cook: Bev Williams interest from walkers as they stopped to take a closer look on the progress that was being The second canal camp rebuilding the arch made. John Pontefract a volunteer and on Weymoor Bridge really started some Robin Payne a trustee from CCT came along months ago with people young and old to help with the brick laying and generally wanting to attend but when questioned few mucking (sharing the work, not to be conhad any brickwork experience. The number fused with mortar) in. After lunch and in the attending would stay in low single figures sunshine most of us returned to our duties until the week before! whilst Ian and Malcolm were seen playing Week 1 had completed the preparation Jenga with a pallet of bricks! [* the idea was and built well despite the weather conditions to have the pallet of bricks collapse inand the usual half-day Friday became a work wardly]. ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson raised the the weekend for the stalwart few. Week 2 access scaffolding to enable the brickies to commenced with 14 onsite on the Sunday continue before returning to his usual posi(with 5 departing that evening Emma, Bob C, tion as troll under the bridge. Another Alan, Martin & Malcolm). interesting sight was the brickies who had to The main body of the camp report is bend over the previously laid bricks on the written by Anne with a few minor [*] leader arch to lay the next course. Mike Hynd a comments! director from the CCT popped in to see how things were progressing and was pleased with what had been achieved. The Coming and Goings at the Monday: ‘Has anyone packed the flight Weymoor Bridge Camp 2nd - 8th April case?’ asked Ian. A voice from the back of Saturday: My first mistake was to walk into the van said ‘Yes, it’s in the other van’, only it Brimscombe Port holding a pen, which is wasn’t! So, a one hour trip was involved apparently why I was ‘The Chosen One!’. I while the rest of the crew found jobs on site haven’t been on a WRG camp before and to be getting on with. Rain quite likely - so have never written a report for anything, so shall we raise the roof or roll the canvas back apologies in advance for the inevitable errors to gain easier access? It was decided to raise and omissions. the roof for the day and sure enough the rain After a very tasty lasagne prepared by came... Only the Mortar Babes got wet that Bev (who is a very welcome new cook to the day! Roger Kenworthy a CCT member since group) some of us descended on The Ship 1994 was on site by 8.30 and keen to conInn and we were warned that we might not tinue with the work. Larry from Wilts and have the energy to venture out any other Berks Trust, who’s been with the CCT for evening. How right you were, Ian... about 30 years and best known for his one Sunday: The site is at Latton, where liners, kept us amused for a few days (and we carried on from last week’s team he laid a few bricks) too! who estimated that they had laid 2,400 By the way - How many times do you bricks. So, Malcolm who had learnt to use need to hit your head on the scaffolding the concrete mixer only yesterday is now before you remember that it’s there? teaching Yolande and me how to mix mortar Yolande worked all afternoon in the rain (locally known as ‘muck’). There were about preparing muck pretty much on her own, seven or eight guys working each day on the looking good in her purple hard hat over her brickwork, steadily working towards each dreadlocks. I had a go at laying a few bricks
Cotswold Canals: Weymoor Bridge: 2 to 8 April
with advice from Ted and Gordon. Charles, who intends to leave the army in September after 34 years service joined the camp to learn bricklaying [* He had attended a two day course on bricklaying a few weeks earlier]. He plans to use his new skills on further camps near his home at Devizes or again with the CCT. He ended up as a very competent and useful brickie and the perfect man to check the equipment list at the end of the week. We all ached a bit from the exertions of the day so Yolande was seen stretching and Bob Coles was seen dangling from the scaffolding! [he was at least an inch taller after this stretch and may be a 7ft giant by now]. Tuesday: Today, the sun shone and our first visitor of the day was Rachael Banyard from the Wilts & Berks. She had thought she’d help with the brick laying but was immediately put in charge as Ian was driven off to the local cottage hospital by Andy. Ian had been bitten on Sunday and his lower arm and hand were swollen. Laurence tried his hand at most jobs and was particularly helpful when the buckets of sand were getting too heavy for the girls – he lifted them as if they were just filled with marshmallows. He also carried buckets of muck to each bricklayer but reckoned that Ted needed his own dedicated labourer to keep up with the speed he worked! Ted has worked on several camps
now and apart from being a bricklayer, he can also operate an excavator (which he enjoys the best!). Mick Lilliman, of Kescrg and London WRG, volunteered to come along for a few days to help with the bricklaying, so we have an army of help but will we meet at the top of the arch by Friday? Andy returned to camp at 5, minus Ian. They had been referred to the Cheltenham hospital about half an hour away where eventually Ian was put on a drip to administer antibiotics. They wanted to keep him in overnight but he persuaded them to let him out and he returned to Brimstone Port at 8.30pm. Ian must return to hospital every afternoon for a drip feed, which is in addition to the bag full of medication he came back to the digs with. Wednesday; Mike Palmer MBE and chairman of WRG drove over last night and today he will be joined by Jenny from Head Office who will orchestrate the finishing touches of the new Health and Safety Video. After cooking our breakfast, Bev joined us on site today and was immediately chosen to take part in the filming! And Charles, well he just loved being part of the video and is hoping for a starring part in ‘The Expendables 4’ on the strength of his acting skills today. Anne had her feet filmed for one shot and they weren’t even her boots – thanks Emma. John Allan a trustee from CCT popped in today to look over the site. The
Cotswold Canals Fact File
Length: 36 miles Locks: 56 Date closed: 1927-46
The Canal Camp projects: Weymoor Bridge; Inglesham Lock; work in the Stroud area Why? Weymoor Bridge had been demolished, and a new one is needed that can cope with today’s farm traffic. Inglesham Lock, the Cotswold Canals’ entrance from the Thames, is being restored thanks to an Inland Waterways Association appeal. And in the Stroud area, we are helping finish the 6-mile Lottery funded Phase 1a restoration from Stonehouse to just short of Brimscombe Port. The wider picture: We need to complete the Phase 1a section before a second bid for the Phase 1b length is submitted. Restoring Inglesham will open a ‘second front’, allowing boats onto the canals’ east end. A legacy has been received specifically to restore Weymoor Bridge. And all three will help the long-term prospects of reopening the entire through route. Canal Camp site: Weymoor Bridge
Phase 1b: Saul to Stonehouse Phase 1a: Stonehouse to Brimscombe
Canal Camp site: Stroud
Phase 3: Brimscombe to Cerney
Canal Camp site: Inglesham Lock
Phase 2: Inglesham to Cerney
arch was marked out to ensure that the two teams of brickies would meet in the middle – hopefully soon. John Hawkins must leave us at lunchtime today so we’ll miss his bricklaying skills but we’ll especially miss his anecdotes from previous camps which he’s being helping at for decades apparently! Rob was in charge while Ian went off to Measuring up carefully to make sure the brick courses match at the top of the arch the hospital. Rob has been working on the canals for 22 years now in a While washing the lumps of cement out practical way but long before that he atof my hair, I was thinking back about my tended courses and was preparing drawings. week’s holiday – well, that’s what Ian calls it The rain stopped, the sun came out but it – and I must say that I enjoyed every minute was still very windy. The site was all tidy by of it! 5.30 and the generator turned off – ahh! Anne Hornsby Although I prefer that noise to the constant sound of the traffic from the A419. The leader writes: By Thursday afternoon Thursday: Ian is feeling unwell there- we were down to about 10 rows left to do at fore he must return to hospital this morning, the widest part and rather than try to rush to so after opening up the site he’ll be off again. finish and maybe not do as good a job of He has been told that he has cellulitis. The laying bricks as the previous days I made the guys at breakfast were talking about all the decision to stop the build. It was the right technical stuff so I now know what a tingle decision. is, a frenchman and a catenary. Martin Friday morning was spent cleaning the Ludgate who was working on his laptop cooks equipment (Bev, Yolande & Anne) and every morning and evening, also worked packing FEH to go to Newbury, with Charles tirelessly during the day on site. The walk to on trailer inventory aided by Laurence. Mick the Burco is becoming a bit of a quagmire and Ted, then it was an afternoon of swapdue to the daily rainfall so although the men ping vans and securing the trailer for it’s next are dry under their canvas roof it’s getting event. Martin was quiet as he was preparing very intimate up there as they steadily work the next copy of Navvies for print. The their way to the crown. At the beginning of team were offered to stay on until Saturday the week they were kneeling and now some or leave on Friday afternoon with most being are lying down on the job! glad of an extra afternoon evening to recover Sadly, we were informed that we at home. weren’t going to return to the site tomorrow, We had a great team who achieved a so we were left 10 rows short of our target. good and consistent build of the bridge. We Back at our digs Bev had prepared yet anwould hope to see them back again on another lovely dinner, we always had a choice other camp sometime in the future. and she was very inventive with her recipes. Ian Gaston We managed another visit to the pub leaving page 13 Rob and Yolande behind to finish off the jigsaw.
From Weymoor Bridge we head some 15 miles westward to the Stroud area for our second Cotswold Canals camp site, at Bowbridge and Wallbridge locks
Cotswold: Stroud area
David, a regular volunteer, I find that he has just pulled into Stroud station car park, so the volunteers were duly collected. Congratulated myself on being organised. Later found out that him being there was a complete coincidence.
Cotswold Canal Camp Week 1: 23-30 July As usual on Cotswold camps we stayed at the slightly post-apocalyptic but nice and spacious Brimscombe Port office complex which is as it ever was, though with a new snug which is less snug than the old snug but once you start trying to play table tennis in there it gets pretty snug. Also as has become usual, we worked on two sites. At Bowbridge Lock which is now mostly restored, Ricey looked after a team of around ten rebuilding a two-brick retaining wall between the lock and road bridge back up to coper level. A mile down the road at Lower Wallbridge Lock, which WRG started work on a year ago, Teacher Chris and the remaining volunteers undertook a variety of work including lifting coping stones, disassembling and rebuilding a scaffolding bridge, and generally supporting the logistics of Hargreaves installing the top lock gates and Western Power relocating some high voltage cables. This rest of report is based on 25 or so contributions to a ‘diary box’ made throughout the camp. Each day a couple of volunteers were requested to write at least one entry (with some handy prompts to encourage creativity) and there were many more voluntary contributions, some quite poetic.
unloaded into unit and · Equipment checked. Introductions made. 3 DofE volunteers, 2 Italian gentlemen, 6 returning volunteers who attended the same week last year. to Brimscombe and then back for · Walk Health & Safety talk. New DVD much improved, Jenny still wearing earrings for the film. Bob had to be shown by Ricey how to open the rubbish bin. diary box is introduced and · The swiftly renamed the “silver slit” (due to some metallic tape that came free with the tape bought to stick the box together). Feeling anxious.
Saturday is a problem. Everybody · Punctuality either really early or really late. All
the camp phone was directed to me, · As but I was running late, I found myself coordinating rail station pickups from 140 miles away. After arbitrarily phoning
made it eventually except Rob. Great concern and a nationwide search initiated. Best theory is an incident with a Ginsters lorry has resulted in him having to eat his way out of the wreckage.
Contractors installing gates at Wallbridge
bed failure! After three blow ups a · Air small hole found and plugged with RAF Martin’s puncture repair kit. Now picturing Martin on a bike. Feeling deflated. Then inflated.
other WRG teams entered but their scores are best forgotten. unable to drink at the pub due to · Ricey foolishly gaining van ticket in June.
started this new adventure with Wallbridge: Quote of the day: “Stonehenge – · We · a great team. We dug in Bowbridge most of it was built by slave labour – did in the morning while in the afternoon we moved scaffolding (to go to Inglesham), testing our skills. We hope to improve our abilities and our English and to continue to have fun. We feel very motivated and very happy to have begun this experience. Most worrying entry: · Wallbridge: “Johnny-Bear scampered up the copers, tripped and fell in lock. Broke the scaffold. Feeling sad. Biggles has a photo.”
DofE’ers do that as well?”. Animal of the day: A young deer seen on the towpath just down from the lock. biggest challenge yet, the half· The ton beast of a coping stone against the five man dream team. With the determination and strength of five men and their Roman spears, the WRG warriors managed to gain enough leverage to flip the vast rock, mission accomplished!
Judi trained in cement mixing by David combination of the lock gates being · Also: · The and Rob is discovered to have been in Somerset installed, power cables being delivered, a all along, working on a nice stone arch.
Monday Contractors delivered the · Wallbridge: new top lock gates, while David taught Ben, Simone and Alberto to use the large breaker to break up concrete behind the coping stones in the bottom gate recess of the offside wall, so they can start moving the stones. Coping stones over where the · Bowbridge: existing wall joins the partly rebuilt wall are removed so that work can begin to remove loose brickwork. Bricklaying continues on the rest of the wall and ‘The Shrine’ (a rather elaborate arched drainage hole) nears completion. Needs idols or symbols to worship as current marmalade jar not very good. Request made to Inglesham camp to provide suitable items. Feeling great.
Judi trains Sarah and Mike “The Mix” in cement mixing. They go on to mix for both sites for the rest of the week. Debate rages as to who made the best cement as of course every brickie wants theirs different.
‘Too Many Bricks’ won £10 in · Team the quiz at The Retreat, and nearly won the picture round too. Two
new tenant moving into the lockside accommodation and CCT’s Tuesday volunteer group on site is pretty much the definition of chaos. trip to Daneway Portal and viewing · Evening some surprisingly deep unmarked locks right next to a footpath. These locks are on Phase 3 of the restoration plan, while we are currently on Phase 1A so it will be a while before we get to these!
Wednesday Moved the cross-lock scaf· Wallbridge: fold bridge further down the lock. A shortage of scaffold clamps but a lot of spare double-board brackets resulted in a very ‘interesting’ design of handrail. Camp Leader sets the bar · Bowbridge: low for today. Everyone hits their head on the scaffolding. Feeling dizzy. Thank goodness for hard hats. (In fact, through the week the platform got raised twice, by 50cm each time, so the top of the scaffolding became relatively lower. Raising the platform on scaffolding already in 2m of water and with a limited amount of spare parts is a tricky job!)
· The area under the removed coping stones and page 15
loose brickwork is now ready to start laying bricks on thanks to some sterling cleaning work by Andrew and others. items lost, literally and figura· Several tively: Dave’s drill bit into the lock, Huw’s boot broke, the sole came away and he was flapping round like a clown. Later, Huw’s hard hat also went for a swim. · Skittles match versus Inglesham camp at The Plough, Fairford. We won the first round so the other team resorted to dirty tactics by bowling the ball at our star players instead of the skittles. Inglesham eventually win but we have the top two players - Simone (never played before) and Bob, who both scored 22. Nice to meet and mix with another camp team. Well done Inglesham. unable to drink at the pub due · Ricey to foolishly etc. etc.
Thursday The unstable brickwork · Bowbridge: between the rebuilt part of the wall and the bridge had to be removed and replaced in narrow vertical strips due to the volume of soil behind it and the increasing height of the old wall as it went from coper level up to road level. Rob and Bob took on this careful work through the week, replacing 20 courses of bricks at the deepest point.
brickies were also assisted by a cou· The ple of local Thursday volunteers, one of whom is best described as a bricking machine. evening featured the now tradi· The tional boat trip although nobody in the van knew where it started and we ended up in the wrong car park and had to find the keycode to get out again. Having also recently gained his van ticket, Charles kindly offered to drive though may now regret this as the satnav-led trip along the steepest, narrowest, windiest roads in Gloucestershire, accompanied by the CD that had been left in the van belting out rock hits will be difficult for many to forget.
Friday With the whole length of the · Bowbridge: wall now accessible there is space for everyone to be bricking. In total we brought to site and laid around 1400 bricks by the end of the week. site promptly, slave driver Ricey cracked · On the whip and engine stoker (Mike) put on the first of many hundreds of mixes for the baying pack of brickies. “More muck ye yokel” they cry! “More bricks!” yells Stuart. Poor Bob
the bank on fall arrest lines: I think Sarah was a little surprised to be on the receiving end of an avalanche of soil raining down. We broke out a concrete fence post next to the bridge. A local telehandler operator from the building site opposite offered his services in removing the post but we didn’t need them in the end. He gave us a crate of ginger ale though.
and Bob did · David some “shaving” of
Rebuilding the retaining wall between Bowbridge Lock and Bridge
chained to the bridge doomed to lay brick forever. His crimes many! (such as dropping a hammer and bolster into the canal). walls flew up, all · The hands to the bricks. Then suddenly, lo! Behold the wall! It was done! The four bricking ringleaders sentenced to walk to Wallbridge. Will TC let them go to the brewery! Or will we all come to a doughy end?
by throwing the tool cleaning water out without checking what was in the bucket. Stuart went fishing and landed a whopper of a plugging chisel.
and found 1: Some· Lost one adds to their crimes
Thursday’s boat trip gets to try out the restored Ryeford Locks
and found 2: Rob actually got warm and · Lost took off his hi-vis and a sweatshirt. Later on having put the sweatshirt back on could not find his hi-vis, only to find he had it on underneath. Incidentally, Rob’s joke of the week is unprintable but the punchline is ‘C&A’. all went to The Stroud Brewery and · We had lovely pizzas and drinks. Good conversations and on the way home fell into a large discussion about literature. Need to do this again.
My thanks to all the volunteers for making the week so easy, to TC for his leadership and to Kate for keeping us all fed and watered through the week, and most of all to Paul Weller of CCT for his unceasing support in keeping our sites running effectively throughout the week. I leave you with most of a sonnet written for me. Apparently I snore – I didn’t hear a thing. Ricey A sonnet for Ricey
Later, Mike found a use for the ginger ale.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable week with real progress seen at both sites and some very happy locals. At Bowbridge there is a little bit more wall to replace at the bridge end and at the lock end under the gate arm, a final awkward coper to shift and rebuild under, but the vast majority of it is ready for copers to be replaced or new concrete copers added. At Wallbridge the new bridge is in place and the site accessible for further restoration, and also looks delightful with some WRG branded planters full of flowers that TC made and the group signed.
When on canal camp with swarms of flies, On my Memorest I weep as in his sleeping state, A voice troubles deaf heaven with sleepy cries, And I look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Or able to ignore the rumbling storm, Desiring earplugs and sometimes a length of rope, I suppose at least the building is warm, Yet in these thoughts the camp despising, Happily I remember then in my state, [Illegible] as the sun arising, Beckons in a new day and quells my hate, We are reviving a site from the dead, Tomorrow I sleep sound in mine own bed.
Camp Reports Cotswold: Inglesham
Finally it’s the turn of the east end of the Cotswold Canals to receive our attention, with three weeks of serious demolition and rebuilding at Inglesham Lock
Cotswold Canals, Inglesham Lock: lock chamber. Monday evening was also Movie Night, and after lots of discussion, we 27 August-3 September
Pictures by John Hawkins
eventually decided that the evening’s enterSaturday: As everyone began to slowly tainment would be ‘Anchorman’. And no arrive at Brimscombe Port, we really appreci- movie evening would be complete without ated how much space there is to spread beds popcorn! far apart. Once everyone had arrived, we Tuesday: Bryan was finally able to get went for a walk along the towpath to have a in the dumper which meant even more wheel look at some other locks, especially to give barrowing for the rest of the team. Fillipo our five newbies a sense of how locks and Charlie took most of the brunt of the worked and what lnglesham Lock, our wheel-barrowing and by the end of the day. worksite, will eventually look like. everyone was ready to go bowling. Sadly, We then had an amazing dinner (startJenny had to leave us to go to hockey pracing a brilliant week of food from Ian). Then tice, which left 14 of us to battle it out. The came the all important safety briefing. which eventual winner was Stuart, but Chris put up luckily made a bit more sense for those who a good attempt! hadn’t heard it before, as we had already Wednesday: Roy arrived on site to seen some locks. erect the profile boards for the chamber wall Sunday: This was our first visit to site, rebuild, so everyone else had to stay out of and we were blessed with beautiful sunshine. the lock chamber. This meant no more Everyone had the typical first day excitement demolition, but a delivery of concrete blocks. to get started, which meant we made really What would normally be an easy delivery good progress. The ‘slash and burn’ squad was made more difficult by the presence of a destroyed many of lnglesham’s most evil stinging nettles, helped brilliantly by our resident fire starter, Stuart, whilst our ‘demolition’ team started to take down the lock wall. Paul and Alan worked tirelessly carrying barrowfuls of stones and bricks away from the lock chamber, so it only made sense to relax that evening in the pub. But first, Judi earned her title of camp mum by running a precise shower rota. Monday: It slowly became our plan for the week. Demolish, wheel barrow, and demolish some more. Claudia and ‘The Hawk’ worked hard to dig out the culvert, Abi, Abby and Merryn learnt how to put up scaffolding and the rest of us removed more soil Shifting soil and rocks from the side of the lock and rocks from the side of the
wooden bridge (with weight limit) on the entrance to site. This meant that everyone else had to help move 862 concrete blocks onto site by hand. This took a whole day, and knowing WRG, we won’t have put them in the right place on site, so they’ll have to be moved by another camp! And of course, it wouldn’t have been a Wednesday without the Great British Bake Off in the evening. Thursday and Friday were dedicated to wheel barrowing. But this Paddle chamber and culvet with rebuilding under way was also the day of the ‘Baked Bean Mystery’ and the ‘Great Glasses Escapade’. Some beans appeared that morning in the girl’s toilets, and whilst everyone noticed they were there, no one said anything to anyone else. Although we were supposed to be wheel-barrowing all day (which we didl), the day was actually spent with everyone silently judging each other, trying to work out who it was. When we retumed to the accommodation, the girls finally worked up the courage to tell each other, and we realised it was none of us. The mystery continued... until Jen finally discovered the culprit was Ian! And whilst the girls were wondering about this, Stuart managed to lose another pair of glasses in the lock (following his pair at Bowbridge) but luckily we pumped down the lock and got them back. As we packed up site, Bryan also let everyone have a go in his digger, manoeuvring a brick around a course. Friday evening was pizza night at the local brewery (delicious and alcoholic) where we gave out some awards. including best novice digger driver. which went to one of our lovely DofE’ers, Abby. Saturday: Last day of camp means only one thing, tidying up! Jen was brave enough to remove the world’s most disgusting shower mat, which we probably should have removed at the start of the camp. But everyone pulled together it was probably the quickest camp tidy up ever. We had an amazing week with probably the best group of WRGies I could have asked for. Dismantling the chamber wall ready for rebuilding Rhiannon Smith
Cotswold Canals, Inglesham Lock: the snug for others. Yours truly was head down sorting out work groups for the follow3-10 September This newbie assistant leader, now ‘promoted’ to newbie leader, arrived the day before his camp to view the site and to gain all the help and info he could from Jenny Black, leading the camp before mine. Peter Lister and Will Collins were also press-ganged into being assistant leaders by Jen’s charm. They were all invaluable to me and many thanks to them. It was also to be a week without a permanent cook in residence, but a combination of Ian Johnson, Jen, Harri Barnes and me (newbie cook as well) meant the team did not go hungry. My very grateful thanks to Ian, Jen and Harri for their splendid meals and cakes; highlights of which were a veg pasta bake, a porky, appley, cidery, potatoey thing, Moroccan Chicken (or veg) with kisskiss and an Apple Brown Betty – or something like that. An apple crumble-type pudding with crunchy stuff and chocolate on top. Wonderful. Saturday arrived, as did the heavy rain and all the victims (sorry, volunteers). They were: Steve Barrett, Grace Christie, Will Collins, Bryan Edwards, Rex Exon, Lauren Hutchinson, Ian Johnson, Nigel Lacey, Becky Lacey (no relation to Nigel although he does have a daughter called Becky), Peter Lister, Alex Melson, Jaz Morris, Jenny (Jen) Morris (Black), Lydia Pavey, Xaver (X) Schachtl, Keith Simmons, Judi and Stuart Young and Filipo Zaraga. Bryan, Ian, Jen, Judi and Stuart continued from the previous week for some unearthly reason but for which I am immensely grateful. During the production of a welcome whiteboard by Lauren I learned about Haiku. It is Japanese verse, three lines of five, seven and five syllables. This tickled my limited imagination so the week became known as Camp Haiku... Once all were settled in I formally welcomed them, did the H+S briefing / film and rambled around the parish of what we’d be doing, daily routines, etc. This was improved by lucid contributions from Peter and Will. Judi talked dirty – she did her Trash Talk and Tour so we knew how deal with rubbish, bins, recycling, etc. After dinner Peter gave demonstrations of and training for uni-cycling and juggling. Some brave souls tried them which, perhaps unfairly, provided amusement to the rest. After that it was the pub for some, film in
ing day and drafting haikus. Sunday dawned bright and dry with two new Haikus: Haiku of the Week This is Dave’s first camp As leader of the pack Let’s hope it’s not damp Haiku of the Day Our site safe we make Because it is so tidy Then we can eat cake.
Following a team photo without hard hats so we could all be recognised, we went to site. After a good look round the site the team got stuck into continued demolition and clearance of the centre section of the SE chamber wall; continued removal of the soil and stone behind the (missing) chamber wall; continued bricking of the arched NW side ground paddle / backwash pipe section; and, scrub clearance around the top wing walls. Cook Ian cut his finger slicing potatoes, badly enough to have to take himself to the local A+E before heading home as planned. Rest was the social event on Sunday! Monday’s weather was also pretty decent, as was the Haiku, I like to think! Digit extracted Too slow for cook’s flashing blade White spud now King Ted. At site we continued preparing for the reconstruction of the chamber wall. Nigel led and trained a small team in building the retaining wall in the gap between the NW arched section and gate recess, prior to our making new genuine fake Cotswold stone blocks to fill the front of the gap. On the way back to Brimscombe we dropped into the Tunnel House Inn for a ‘dirty pint’. The hostelry is at Coates, adjacent to the canal and at one end of the Sapperton Tunnel. The edifice of the tunnel entrance looks like it should contain an old religious building. Well worth a visit – and pint. Tuesday saw the absence of the Camp Leader as I had to play golf at the Royal Household Golf Club at Windsor Castle. Peter held the fort for me – many, many thanks. I
Pictures by David Evans
“Fourteen brickies lined up, all eager to lay the first brick” did have to do the camp shopping on the way back!! This Haiku by Will sums up many trips in WRG buses from sites to bases:
bags anymore. After dinner Clive Field of CCT gave an interesting talk on the canal, the area around it and Mike the Muralist – a bit off the wall Don’t come a-knocking for some but it didn’t drive them up it!! Many If the van is a-rocking thanks, Clive. Party bus extreme. Thursday brought more good WRGie working weather and the Haiku of the Day The team continued energetically with similar just had to be: work to Monday, bringing the prospect of new bricks being laid in the chamber wall Steve drove us to site ever nearer. Late afternoon Jen, Alex, Judi and Circling all the roundabouts Stuart departed. Their staying on provided me But the views were sh*te. with extremely valuable continuity. They were also great company. Thanks to you all. My team of inexperienced brickies continued Wednesday continued the run of good rebuilding the chamber wall diligently, filling weather. Haiku of the Day was: the gaps to bring the first level course across the hole. Keith was supplier-in-chief of the Jen, Alex have run bricks, barrowing them down from the stockGreat friends from the WRG HQ pile to the chamber. Now to have some fun. Meanwhile, Nigel, Will and Filippo were full-on making the first genuine fake CotsSteve drove one van to site, inadvertently wold stone block. After the shuttering was incurring some extra distance on the vehicle, completed, the facing edge (made of white but once there we completed the removal of and grey cement mixed with sharp sand) was all the loose material in the central section of pressed in while the concrete backfill was the chamber wall and started to rebuild the mixed and added to complete the block. wall. Fourteen brickies lined up, all eager to A quick stop at Screwfix in Cirencester lay the first brick. on the way home was required. The peace Jaz and Becky enlivened the afternoon and quiet at this library-like (noise-wise) tea-break with a demonstration of the chaestablishment was shattered by my three cha slide, showing the wrinklies on site that DofEers coming in with me for a look-see, women are not dancing around their handmuch to the bemusement of the guys behind
the counter. After purchasing a brick saw disc and a couple of other bits, the normal quietude resumed at Screwfix. The local pub was unable to do us a quiz so we did our own; the three teams not answering their own questions. A good variety of questions were asked, some perhaps a little obscure. Few people know that a bumfit is a quantity of sheep in the Lake District. More do now! Friday was Making the first genuine fake Cotswold stone block dull, weather-wise, but the rain held off most of the time. The Haiku repeated a excavator. quiz question and answer with an additional After refreshing ourselves back at base reference to a 1970’s rock opera: we went to the Stroud Brewery for more refreshment, pizzas and jollity. Rick and Harri Schizophrenia Barnes joined us. Rick is the local project Positive? Negative? Who? manager and paid us several visits to clarify Quadrophenia some things for me. This was immensely helpful. Harri, as you know, provided dinners Upon arrival at site we found we were locked and cakes. My thanks to you both. out. Someone had locked both gates with the Saturday dawned with heavy rain chain and padlock to which we didn’t have falling. Three hardy, intrepid WRGies (Nigel, the key. WRGies were dispatched in all direc- Will and yours truly) ventured back to site tions to acquire a solution. Peter arrived back while the rest of the camp snored away their with a key very shortly before Nigel with the lay-in. We removed the shuttering around bolt croppers. The key provided less fun but the second genuine fake block, applied inless work in the long run! stant distressing, admired our work and Work eventually continued on rebuild- headed back to base to join the others for ing the chamber wall. Scaffolding was breakfast. adjusted at the bridge end to allow vegetaAfter breakfast everyone threw themtion and loose bricks to be removed safely selves into the accommodation clean-up with and for this small section to be repaired in alacrity (whoever he is), after which they due course. disappeared with my grateful thanks ringing The shuttering was removed from the in their ears. genuine fake block which didn’t collapse! It looked just the job and after a little distressFinal Haiku ing and some weathering it should match the real thing. The shuttering was moved up and Time to wend our way the second block ‘inserted’. You have all been wonderful This was the end of our restoration I really must say. work for the camp so some got on with the kit check while others got to know the David Evans
Cotswold Canals, Inglesham Lock: and an enormous tin of peas. The peas were given to him on a recent canal boat holiday 10-17 September From the outset of the third and final week at Inglesham, led by Sophie Smith and Bernd Schimansky, we were faced with the age-old WRG task of laying lots and lots of bricks! This of course required some use of the brick saw, with which I had recently been trained and was more than happy to supply various bits and pieces. The previous two weeks work had included demolishing much of the south corner of the lock, removing the crumbling brick courses until a solid level was found. From here we began by removing clay and mortar and cleaning the surface down, to prepare it for the new mortar to bind to. At the east corner the job was simpler as only the front facing bricks needed replacing. With a strong D of E workforce totalling nine, lime mortar production proceeded swiftly. Several brickies were on site to reconstruct both sections of wall, which climbed rapidly throughout the week, once a little clarification had been sought from Rick Barnes about keying in bricks with blocks in the excavated corner. At the west corner, the paddle hole received some TLC from David and David, firstly with new brickwork, secondly with some shuttering and concrete to provide a level surface for the paddle gear to be attached to. The genuine fake Cotswolds corner stones prepared previously were also given some authenticity by Sophie and myself, by daubing them with a lurid concoction of cowpat and natural yoghurt. Instant aging and the smell isn’t too bad any more! The only lost piece of equipment was Steve’s pointing tool, which remains buried in the mortar pile on the floor of the lock, despite our efforts to pump all the water out and dig around for it. If anyone is there when the muck is cleared out do keep an eye out for it. I’m also fairly sure that John’s trowel was the extra one when they were counted, sorry John. As often happens on the Cotswold Canals in my experience, we had the luxury of staying at Brimscombe Port and despite the not so occasional drip from the shower it continues to be a fantastic location, although it does entail at least a 40-minute journey to site. We were visited by Clive Field from CCT who thanked us for the work we were doing and gifted us with some delicious shortbread
with the instruction “for the WRGies”. Just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised… The accommodation also offered some entertainment in the form of jigsaws, two almost singlehandedly completed by Rob, and films rented from the second hand shop. The food on offer was simply superb, featuring cooking from Sophie, Sophie’s mum, Harri, the local ’spoons and Vélo bakery, supplying pizzas at Stroud brewery where we spent our final evening and conducted the awards ceremony. This being my third year with WRG after discovering it during my D of E, I am beginning to appreciate what many have said, which is that restoration is often measured in decades, but it is of course still greatly rewarding to see the progress that is made week by week and the effort that everyone has put in is what makes the restoration possible. I wonder how old I may be when I will be able to make it all the way through the Sapperton tunnel - I’d like to think that one more camp should do it... Thank you all for another greatly enjoyable and productive camp! Will Collins
Chamber wall rebuilding under way
Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Oct 21-29
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
Press date for issue 280
Wendover Arm: Seven day weekend Fri-Thu
Bonfire Bash: Chesterfield Canal, and Cromford Canal
Nov 5 Sun
Committee & Board Meetings: at Bonfire Bash
Cotswold Canals: Bowbridge Lock. Coping stones and removing scaffo
Nov 12 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Blists Hill, Ironbridge: Joint weekend with London WRG
Blists Hill Museum: Ironbridge, Shropshire
Wendover Arm: Seven day weekend Fri-Thu
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
Wey & Arun Canal: KESCRG/London WRG Xmas Party
Wey & Arun Canal: KESCRG/London WRG Xmas Party
Cromford Canal: Dig and Christmas meal
To be arranged
Wey & Arun Canal: Hunt Park
Dec 17 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201635
Press date for issue 281 (including WRG / canal societies directory)
Thames & Medway Canal: Stump pulling
Jan 22 Sun WRG
Committee & Board Meetings: TBC Rowington Village Hall
North Oxford Canal: Hillmorton (3-day)
Winter Canal Camp: Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
To be arranged
Wey & Arun Canal
North Oxford Canal: Morton Basin, Hillmorton
Mar 19 Sun WRG
Committee & Board Meetings: TBC Rowington Village Hall, Barn Dance
WRG/IWA/BCNS BCN Cleanup (date to be confirmed)
To be arranged
Rickmansworth Waterways Festival: Site Services (open to public on Sa
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
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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 Robin Yates
Every Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun 3rd Sunday of month
Hugh Millington 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 Les Schwieso 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 1st Wednesday of month Anderton Lift Weaver Glenn Young see below 2nd Saturday of month Audlem Shropshire Union Glenn Young see below 2nd Saturday of month Aylesbury Grand Union Jacqui Flint 07584-156424 4th Thursday of month Bath Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Alternate Thursdays Blackburn Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Every Thursday Brighouse Calder & Hebble Becca Dent 07717-618850 Last Sunday of month Burnley Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Thursday of month Cheshire T&M/Macclesfield Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 Last Saturday of month Chester Shropshire Union Glenn Young see below 3rd Thursday of month Devizes Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 1st Saturday of month Fradley Trent & Mersey Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 4th Thursday of month Gailey Staffs & Worcs Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Every Tue or Wed Gloucester Glouc & Sharpness Caroline Kendall 01452-318023 1st Wed & Fri of month Hatton Grand Union Canal Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Last Sunday of month Hawkesbury Coventry/Oxford Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 1st Saturday of month Hemel Hempst’d Grand Union Canal Jacqui Flint 07584-156424 2nd Friday of month Huddersfield Huddersfield Broad Becca Dent 07717-618850 1st Thursday of month Knottingley Aire & Calder Nav Becca Dent 07717-618850 Alternate Thursdays Lancaster Lancaster Canal Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Thu & Sat of monthLapworth Stratford Canal Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Alternate Tuesdays Leicester Grand Union/Soar Wayne Ball 07766-577947 1st & 3rd Sat of month London central Various Nadia Payne 07468-716075 3rd Thursday of month London East Lee Navigation Nadia Payne 07468-716075 3rd Tuesday of month London West various Nadia Payne 07468-716075 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 Thursdays North Warks Ashby Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Alternate Wednesdays Preston Lancaster Canal Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Alternate Fridays Sefton Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Saturday of month near Selby Selby Canal Becca Dent 07717-618850 Weds every 4 weeks Skipton Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Alternate Fridays Stoke Caldon / T&M Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 Every other Wednesday Tamworth Coventry Canal Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 4th Saturday of month Tipton BCN Sue Blocksidge 07917-585838 Every Friday Todmorden Rochdale Canal Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 Every Monday Walsden Rochdale Canal Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 Every Tuesday Wigan Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Contact details: All CRT co-ordinators can be emailed at email@example.com, eg firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Oct 9 Sun
IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section
Oct 9 Sun
IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking
Oct 12 Wed IWA BBCW
Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance
Oct 13 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm Oct 14/15
Grand Union Canal: 6-monthly Clean Up, Fri and Sat
Oct 15 Sat
Venue to be confirmed: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc.
Oct 18 Tue
BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm
Oct 20 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amOct 23 Sun IWA Notts&Derby Nottingham Canal: Clean Up. Meet 9:30 Sainsburys on Castle Bridge Oct 23 Sun IWA Warks
Grand Union Canal: Clean Up.9:30-1pm, meet at Bridge 46
Oct 25 Tue
BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm
Oct 25 Tue
IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking
Oct 25 Tue
IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm
Oct 27 Thu IWA NSSC
Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10am-
Oct 29 Sat
Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10am-
Oct 30 Sun IWA S.Yorks Dec 3 Sat
Biannual Clean Up
IWA Chelmsford Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
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
Chris or Steve Hayes
Philip Strangeway 10am-4pm
MK = Milton Keynes; 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
Dear readers At the end of the January 1970 woring party at Marple, I was waylaid by a cheery little Londoner who successfully parted me from some of my hard-earned to the extent of one-eighth of a pound. To my amazement the March edition of Navvies arrived and over the intervening years I’ve seen in its pages the names of some of the most dedicated and enthusiastic canal restorers, which continues right up to this present day. Some alas are no longer with us, whilst others have moved on to other things, but four have soldiered on to ensure that every two months we have our copy of this fine journal. Our indefatigable editor Martin has, I believe, the doubtful honour of having held onto the job for longer than anyone else! Month in, month out, the task of compiling not only reports of of many of the activities on the restoration front but views of the wider picture which only comes from keeping a close watch on the many and varied parts which make up the whole of the canal scene. Martin’s efforts would count for nought, were it not for the equal dedication of Dave Wedd, whose efforts really fulfil the original aim of Navvies - the provision of dates for the actual nitty gritty of restoration, all the diary entries being the result of his quiet, unassuming labours. The third and equally dedicated kingpin is John Hawkins whose mastery of the printing press in the shed in his garden brings us the written word, never wavering through the long years of looking after his dear wife Tess who I believe was, originally, the one who stuck out her neck to take on the task. Last but not least - Sue Watts who was a founding digger of the North West branch until she fell victim to a the debilitating disease ME. Rather than give in, she took up the continuing task of being the person to whom we send our annual subs. I think it is true to say that despite all the calls made on others - even our worthy Chairman - none have to regulate their lives to ensure that the job will go ahead come hell or high water. It is easy to take for granted that the next copy of Navvies will drop through our letter boxes - it does so, but only... Thanks to you guys! Elderly skiver Name and address supplied
Navvies and square sails
My thanks to the writer for his kind words. Could I also add Robert Goundry, who does a fine job every issue of chasing up and collating the canal society progress reports. On the subject of Sue Watts and the renewals. we do very much appreciate the comments that some readers send in with their forms - whether they’re appreciative, or sometimes telling us about things that they’d like to see us do differently, or more of, or better. For example the ‘fact files’ with maps to accompany the camp reports have gone down very well, and we will continue them. ...Ed Dear Martin I was interested in Di Smurthwaite’s mention of square sailed inland waterways craft on the Stover Canal. I have a distinct recollection of seeing such craft on either the Driffield Navigation or the River Hull when I was very little - I’m 94 now, so that puts it back in the mid to late 1920s. They should re-bury the barge that they dug up on the Stover - that would not cost a mint. Then in 2116 someone with time on their hands and money in their pocket can dig it up and do a proper job on it. Deirdre’s grand-daughter could wise them up as to what is restoration and what is new build! Richard Dawson Richard enclosed photocopies of documents relating to the registration and sale of these craft in the 19th century, one of the owners being his distant relative. Incidentally, in answer to the original question, I think square-rigged trows used the Stroudwater - is that true? ...Ed
Tom Henshaw R.I.P.
The problem with getting old oneself is that all the old friends and acquaintances of yesteryear slowly die off. So before I fall off the twig it will be good to bring to your midlands and driving it back to Finchley. attention a man We had the Tom service again when we who was part of found a Thames pickup which was our first the founding of Waterway Recov- vehicle to pull a Smalley excavator around the countryside. We turned up at his garage ery Group. and had a towball fixed in a jiffy and the Tom was a wiring for the lights done in not much more leading light in time – then off to Smalley’s at Osbournby the old (i.e. later reorganised) Midlands Branch of the Inland Waterways Association. (Sleaford) to get our machine. So Tom, now probably unknown to the Tom and his fellow conspirators were the vast majority of navvies today, was one of force behind the coal boat traffic on the the lynch pins to the beginning of our venAshby canal just 50 years ago which undoubtedly saved the Ashby for its now bright ture. He was also involved in the unfortunately abortive early efforts to save the future. Following on from this was the Derby canal, but also in work on the Stratnotion of selling domestic coal by narrow ford, Stourbridge, Erewash and being one of boat, the Ashby setup being the first in that those who founded the Narrow Boat Trust, field. all of which were successful. Tom and his brother ran a garage in Tom died recently and should now be Newhall, Burton on Trent. Tom was the remembered with his wife, Jean, with great salesman, and very convincing he was as gratitude. well. Forces of entrenched opinion in local Mike Day authorities and the IWA seemed to crumble before his quiet but rather insistent voice. He was the same in writing for the Branch magazine Navigation and I have to say I think Graham Palmer’s scurrilous rag Navvies Notebook may well have owed a lot to Tom and Navigation. Tom and Jean’s floor was one well indented by slightly grubby individuals as we charged round the country, and a good fry-up breakfast was always there for us. Although I had met Tom and Jean before (via borrowing their floor) I had more to do with him later as he was able to find a less than entirely knackered Bedford Dormobile following a plea from Graham to please find us a van – a cheap one. I had the short Tom (fixing the ACT sign) helped set up the Ashby coal traffic straw of taking a train to the Harry Arnold
WRG BC Boat Club News
WRG’s own boat club has had an AGM, voted some funding to canal restoration projects, and is looking forward to going to Ilkeston next year...
Commode Door (summary of report) I hope you have all managed some terrific Firstly I must draw your attention, in a quiet boating this year with the summer weather and subtle way, to the fact that... not being kind to us with rain, winds and below average temperatures when I have SUBS ARE NOW DUE been boating! (I said that last year too.) We have enjoyed doing the BCN (Birmingham Was that quiet and subtle enough? If you Canal Navigations) again, almost as much as don’t pay by bankers order, please send a the BCN 24hr challenge. We were wedged in cheque NOW! (to the address below) Don’t a lock for two and a half hours yesterday. find you’ve left us by default! Thanks to the Canal & River Trust for rescuThe next important thing is Have you ing us. Things we noticed about the BCN this been receiving mail from me? You trip, compared to 15-20 years ago was – should get your membership card each year there was more graffiti, just as much floating at the very least. Sometimes, when the need rubbish, but we only needed one ‘prop arises for urgent communication, I send grovel’ so far! Gas Street Basin, Brindley emails out. If you never receive either of Place and the Mail box have become well these it’s because I have an incorrect address integrated. for you. In the case of emails I may not have One of the aims of the club is assisting an address at all. Of course you all read fellow members. Sadie needed help with Navvies so please check that I do have your moving her boat and several club members correct address, you can post this to me or were recruited to help with various lock email it (that’s free), and again details are flights. [For which I was most grateful. It below. turned a difficult job into fun! ...Sadie] Now for the excitement of the Boat Boat Festivals and Rallies are a great Club Annual General Meeting held at the place to celebrate, campaign or just to meet Inland Waterways Association’s Pelsall gathother club members. The Middlewich Folk ering. I feel I ought to write all this in capital and Boat Festival was very much enjoyed letter as the background was VERY NOISY. I and a big hit with the public, although less put in my notes ‘The meeting started when boat orientated than in previous years. The the singing stopped’. We thought there would Trail Boat Festival and opening of Staveley be a break, when the acts changed, then we Lock on the Chesterfield Canal was another could hear each other. It was a very short great weekend of celebration that I attended. break! There are many events organised by IWA or Here is a brief summary of what went AWCC (The Association of Waterways Cruison, more details available on request... ing Clubs) and we would like to hear from other club members who have taken part in these. AGM Report We would like other club members to Members present signed a list and Apolooffer to become ‘club officers’. The work load gies were listed. The Minutes of the last is minimal. Please let us know if you are AGM had been published in Navvies and, willing to help. (Don’t be shy, give it a try. after discussion, were proposed as correct by Corny but true) Ulrich, seconded by Elaine, all agreed. After Wearing my other hat/t-shirt as AWCC that Matters Arising from the Minutes were Rep, I attended the Association’s meetings discussed. Like last year this was mostly for both the Midlands and the national AGM. regarding the allocation of funds. Then They are the largest group representing the followed the Officers’ Reports... interest of boat owners and lobby, on our
WRG Boat Club news
behalf, CRT and Parliament. Meetings start again in October after the summer break. The AWCC have a website and this gives access to up to date information, most recently about CRT regional boundary changes, the hazards of carbon monoxide, and stolen boats. Erica, our midland Region Secretary, keeps us well informed. AWCC Alert magazine is not being published at the moment. Let us know if you require a handbook for 2017. If you know of any WRG boaters who are not yet club members please encourage them to join. Unfortunately Ann our Treasurer was unable to attend and sent her apologies, she did however send a full financial report that was circulated. To summarise briefly our income during the year was £532 and our expenditure £503.71, this included the donation of £400 to the Chesterfield Canal, it went towards work required on Staveley Lock, thus helping towards it being opened this year! So far the club has donated £4850 towards various restoration projects (A fact we should be proud of!) It was agreed that subs should remain at £10 p.a. The Secretary reported that club membership was 42 at present as we had lost a few members for various reasons, but had gained slightly more. We welcome all boaters and it was good to have a canoeist join us, there are many partly-completed canal restorations to visit which you can already navigate in canoes and other small craft, and PLEASE keep us informed of your activities, especially those relating to ‘new’ bits (though mostly they are recovered bits looking new!) There followed the Election of Officers, believe me not easy with the background noise being very foreground! The present officers were all willing* to stand and Chris Morgan was elected in his absence, he had said he was willing to stand. (*I might have had Mike Chessher’s arm forced up his back at the time.) The club officers are now – Lynne Cater (Commode Door and AWCC Rep) Ann Smart (our own little Treasure-r) Sadie Heritage (Secretary including membership) Mike Chessher (Who keeps us informed re events etc.) and Chris Morgan. Future Plans were discussed, Huddlesford and Ilkeston were suggested as venues for the next AGM and, after a major-
ity voted for it, the next AGM will be held at the IWA Festival of Water at Ilkeston on August Bank Holiday weekend 2017. It was also agreed that a quiet venue would be best. Elaine kindly suggested that we might ask to hold it on nb Fulbourne. The Allocation of Funds/Donation was discussed. The Wendover Arm Trust has just been offered Heritage Lottery Funding, but only if they can match it. It was agreed to donate £200 soonest and £200 later when we had funds available. Under Any other Business various things were discussed – yet again the appeal for information regarding any ‘digs’ we could boat to. Absent Friends, Lynne proposed the toast to - FRED HERITAGE, in November 2015 we lost Fred Heritage, Sadie’s lovely husband. Their boat Lynx was always immaculate, as was Fred. His knowledge of the waterways was extensive and he would always help you. He was a Boatman and Gentleman. It was a privilege to have known him and to hear such amazing tributes to him at his funeral and at a gathering in Brewood later. He is sadly missed. ANN RIDLEY, this year we were sad to hear that Ann Ridley had died. She was a member of our club with her boat Tramps Retreat. I remember cooking with her for a dig on the Buckingham Arm with BITM. She was fun to be with and quite a character. I would also like to comment on the death of David Blagrove, to whom we owe a debt for recording the history of working boats on the Grand Union and for his legacy of music. “Please raise your glasses to all our Absent Friends.” The formal meeting closed at 4.15. Final reminders are – Put in your next year’s diary August Bank Holiday weekend at Ilkeston. Following the appearance of the club burgee, attached to our Commode Doors boat, at the beginning of an episode of Barging Around Britain with John Sergent, surely you will want to own one. Available from Lynne at just £10. Club stickers are available from me, club secretary, for £2, this includes postage. Please state if you want them for inside a window of the outside sort. Whew, now for the proof reading! xxx Sadie – email@example.com 01733204505 or mobile 07748186867 236 Station Road, Whittlesey PE7 2HA
Progress Wey & Arun Canal
All being well, our front cover should feature the opening of the Wey & Arun’s new Compasses Bridge. WACT and Bill Nicholson bring us up to date on what went on this summer to make it happen...
(Compasses pub) side partly projected into the new line of the canal and after recording As Wey & Arun Canal Trust and WRG volun- by the archaeologist was duly broken up and teers stepped up the pace to finish the new removed by the excavator. On the western Compasses Bridge in Alfold in time for the (Dunsfold airfield) side, the brickwork was canal’s bicentennial, final touches were being set well back (and interestingly included the put to a weekend of events marking the big first few courses of the arch) and has been occasion. [Just in time for a picture for the used as a retaining wall. The new blockwork front cover ...Ed] training walls have been erected forward of WACT is forever grateful for the efforts it, with the gap filled in concrete. The old of NWPG, KESCRG and WRG groups for their bridge will therefore be reburied. work on what is the Trust’s first major restoThe weeks leading up to the summer ration scheme so far in Surrey, particularly at camps focused on continuing the removal of this year’s summer camps. These are detailed the causeway and the breaking up of its by Bill Nicholson below. concrete side walls and continuing with the The ‘last push’ appeal for funds to bricklaying on the southern (Tickners) side of complete the Compasses work had attracted the bridge. The aim being to complete the just on £30,000 at the time of writing, with brickwork on this side during the first summoney still arriving and the construction mer camp. As for the Northern side, the hole costs, at least, covered. went down and down such that the only way Donations can be made via the home into it was via a newly constructed ramp page of www.weyandarun.co.uk; or by send- from the towpath into the bed of the canal. ing a cheque made out to the Wey & Arun One of the consequences of this work was Canal Trust to Compasses Appeal, WACT that NWPG’s rubble filled gabions laboriously Northern Office, Bridge End, Somerswey, built on a previous summer camp were Shalford, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8EQ. ignominiously extracted by the excavator in a The bicentennial celebrations were due matter of hours. to take place on October 1st and 2nd, with An ongoing task both leading up to and Dame Penelope Keith – patron of the Surrey during the camps has been the shifting of Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – spoil to the burn site by large ten ton opening the bridge at noon on the Sunday. dumper trucks. Hundreds of tons of material Added to the attractions on the Saturhave come both from the causeway and from day at Loxwood since the last Navvies were the section of canal towards Farnhurst horse-drawn narrowboat trips and illumiBridge. Once at the Burn site the material is nated excursions in the trip boat Wiggonholt. allowed to dry out until the excavator is next available to go down and level it all out. Now over to Bill Nicholson for a detailed So to the July summer camps - 15 progress update on the work of the WACT days of non stop volunteer work with up to northern and summit working party and 25 volunteers on site on any one day. The visiting groups: first week was run by NWPG and two main objectives. One was to cast the concrete base My last report left off with a note that nothfor the northern side training walls (the bit ing had been found of the original Comthrough the old causeway) and to start on passes Bridge. Wrong! Within two weeks of the walls themselves. The second was the completing the report, excavations of the old already mentioned southern side brickwork. causeway revealed two large chunks of brick- See the last Navvies for the report. work which formed the base of the bridge By the end of the first week we had arch on both sides of the canal. The eastern completed the wing wall copings and sub-
Wey & Arun Canal
stantially completed the flank facing walls of the bridge. The wall under the bridge were at full height for about 60% of the length on both sides – the remainder will have to be done once the new scaffold has been erected from the north side. This in turn is dependent on completion of the blockwork northern training walls. Camp 2, run by WRG and led by Rob Nicholson, continued the key task of block laying. These are not just front facing walls to be back filled with muck but cells of blockwork, double skinned with reinforced concrete poured in between. The large holes (the cells themselves) are to be filled with crushed limestone and once all that is done the brick copings as per the southern side put in place. Good progress was made such that about 50% of the whole task was completed by the end of the week and more has been done since. The current aim is to complete the blockwork by the middle of August so that the scaffolding can be re-erected and the brickwork can restart. Another job for the second week was to erect a new scaffold access bridge and tower to enable workers to get down into the canal bed. James Upton and his team spent a whole week on this which is perhaps understandably given its size and complexity. Out of the canal and back on the road, more work was done on installing drains, gullies and manholes – time consuming,
often complex and demanding work that once completed everyone takes for granted. Remember we are building a road as well as a canal. Landscaping of the verges and under the new security gate was also completed. The most exciting task tackled during the week was to start work on the new slipway at the Burn site. Actually it was not the slipway but the road leading to it, which itself is a massive construction because of the difference in levels, exacerbated by the fact that the canal is in a cutting. Adam ‘Digger’ Morris from KESCRG spent the whole week in the Trust’s excavator digging out, muck shifting, grading and finally laying and rolling the sub base such that we have access to the top of the slipway on which work can now start. So will we have finished by the celebration date set for 2nd October? It’s certainly a daunting challenge with various critical paths involved. Extra working days have been arranged. We have sent out a call to the regular troops for help and the response as usual has been tremendous. No summer recess for the Northern Working Party Team! We work every third Saturday and often on other days. If you want to help at this or at any other time please let me know. You will be welcome. Bill Nicholson 0779 1097773 firstname.lastname@example.org
Compassess Bridge: compare this July photo with our front cover picture of the opening
Progress Monty, Stover, Gipping Montgomery Canal The last report from the Shropshire Union Canal Society (Navvies 273) told how in May 2015 Natural England had granted a newt licence for the first 85 metres of channel to the south of Bridge 84, between Redwith and Crickheath. This was followed by a newt trapping phase and an exhaustive vegetation stripping exercise. So it was October when we were able to start earthworks in the channel, exactly two years after we finished profiling the previous stretch. The canal bed was taken down to 150mm above final level and a start made on installing a French drain to prevent the job becoming a quagmire. 85 metres is not a great distance so it fortunate in a way that this particular 85 metres contains two fairly major projects which have kept us occupied. These are the construction of a wharf wall next to the bridge and the replacement of a culvert. Excavation for the wharf began in March and by July the block-work was complete. August saw the third concrete delivery, all of which have involved a concrete pump, and a start on the stone face at water level. The culvert crosses the canal at an angle towards the other end of the site. The brick-built original was deemed insufficiently deep and had in any case been broken into in mid-channel some years ago. It has been replaced with plastic pipe at greater depth and of larger diameter. The elbows were manufactured to the required angles off-site and the whole was installed over the June and July work parties. This report concludes with another newt-related milestone; at the start of August the Canal & River Trust concluded negotiations with a local landowner for land for compensatory newt habitat. The August work party thus saw the excavation of three newt ponds, one of which was also puddled with clay. These ponds tick one of the boxes that will allow CRT to apply for a licence for restoration of a further length of channel. With channel shaping and lining to occupy us
for the rest of this year, we will need this licence early next to allow us to continue without delay. Detailed monthly accounts of the restoration work can be found on the Societyâ€™s website at: www.shropshireunion.org.uk/ montgomery-canal-restoration
Stover Canal Ventiford Basin: Following the third and final archaeological investigation in May [see Navvies 278], during which the hulked barge was fully recorded and further lengths of the Granite Tramway (which connected the canal to the quarries on Dartmoor) were uncovered, great assistance was received from the local clay company during June and July. Men and machines were made available to clear the silt accumulation from the bed of the basin and expose the full lengths of tramway on the site. They also volunteered to work on three Saturdays in their own time to see the job completed. During the clearance Barge 1 was removed for disposal but a surprise find of Barges 2 and 3 was made. These have been excavated and recorded. A further Barge 4 remains to be investigated. August saw the arrival of the WRGies. What lovely people they are! The first week consisted of many young men and women who started pointing the walls of the basin and making good the footpath along the canal which been crossed by many tree roots, thereby making it dangerous for walkers. A selection of artefacts was identified and cleaned including bottles, lamps and jugs. The majority were intact but not very old and were probably thrown away when the adjacent house was created from an old pub. During week two the wall pointing continued and areas of rough walling were dug out for inspection as they appeared to be infill. These investigations will continue over the coming months. The ground around tramway has been tidied and the full working area can now be fully appreciated. Given that the construction of the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway embankment sterilised the other half of the site, it is now apparent that the whole area must have been a busy and very extensive loading area in its heyday. Apart from the final Friday morning, the weather was kind and the WRG volunteers again seemed to have a good time. Their enthusiasm to embrace our waterway and the aim of restoring it has again im-
pressed the Trustees who are most grateful for their input. Graving Dock Lock: By the end of May the base of the dock had been fully grouted and the structure was looking very tidy. We are still sourcing materials for the authentic reconstruction of the boiler structure and work of the pathways has made the area more accessible from the adjacent cycle and walkway. With the remaining funds we received from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme we are contracting specialist machinery to remove the silt from the waterway in the autumn.
River Gipping The River Gipping Trust volunteers are still hard at it, working to restore the lock bywash at Pipps Ford on the River Gipping, a couple of miles downstream from Needham Market, Suffolk. Since my last report, we have completed the work to the river course below our footbridge, finishing off the gabion installation and grading the banks in this area. We are still working on restoring the original 1790 weir we uncovered when removing a causeway installed by the former National Rivers Authority back in the late 20th century, but most of the work on this is now complete, with just an area of broken brick
surfacing to be replaced. Our excavation of the old route of the bywash finally received all its approvals from the Environment Agency late last summer, so we were able to make a start on extending our excavations upstream, but then had to stop over the winter due to flooding and wet soil conditions. A kingfishersâ€™ nest held up any further work during the spring, but we have now been able to re-commence the trench excavation and landscaping around the bywash channel using our own digger and dumper. We will need a bigger machine with a longer reach to finish off grading the banks, and we are hopeful of obtaining this in September, thanks to the generosity of a local contractor who has agreed to spend some time with us in the Autumn, and bring a suitable machine with him. Away from the bywash itself, we have been keeping an eye on the condition of the towpath in our immediate area and have been taking our grass cutter and strimmer for a walk fairly regularly to ensure the path is kept open. This Autumn we will be continuing the work on the bywash excavation, and preparing for linking in a backwater feature below our new bridge. As always, volunteers are welcome every Wednesday, and most second Saturdays of every month. Martin Bird, Restoration manager
Restoring the original 1790 weir at Pipps Ford Lock, River Gipping
Progress WCBS and Wendover Wooden Canal Boat Society Hazel: She is up and running as a well being boat, providing time on the waterways for people with stress, depression and related problems. So far she has mostly done day trips but she visited Ellesmere Port at Easter and made a journey to Middlewich for the Folk and Boat festival. More crew are needed and particularly people to promote and fundraise for the project. Forget me Not: This 1927 Lees & Atkins boat is providing all the motive power for both recycling trips and Hazel trips (Hazel being an unpowered butty boat). She was docked at Ashton Packet boats in December and January to have her bottom recaulked and skeg refitted etc.
basin at 9.30 AM for the Sunday trips and 6 PM for the weekday trips, summer and winter. After about an hours boat trip volunteers collect clothes, bric a brac etc from houses, before enjoying the return boat ride. Currently these are worked by Forget me Not and Lilith. The Bolinder: This engine is currently in bits at Tameside College but changes there make it unlikely that they will complete its restoration. Suggestions invited from vintage engine enthusiasts. The Charity Shop: Poor takings as a result of the decline of Ashton town Centre had put the future of this in doubt. Things have picked up lately though and we’re looking at ways of developing the business which creates an income stream that is vital to keeping the boats going.
A Bit of a Rant: One of the amazing things about our waterway network is that not only do we have a goodly collection of historic working boats surviving, but some of them are even made of wood, carrying on traditions and skills going right back to the beginning of the canals and beyond. These all Southam: Feeling neglected she decided to make the waterways a lot more interesting. sink recently. Now floating again and the I’m getting worried about how much longer engine cleaned out Southam is likely to be a lot of them can carry on, though. the focus of much work in the autumn to get A lot of the surviving boats have been her up and running as an alternative tug to owned for years by people who took them Forget me Not. Apart from essential work on on when they were cheap and available, but the hull, including replacing some planks, old age is getting to the boats and the ownwork will focus on completing the interior fit ers and there don’t seem to be a lot of young out and improving the engine room. At people stepping in to take over. A notable present the gearbox is out awaiting attention. exception to this is the wonderful Spey crowd who seem to be recruiting a capable Lilith: Likely to be the next candidate for next generation. Wooden boats don’t survive major work at the heritage boatyard, though neglect very well, they need constant mainteat present we don’t know when. It’s now 41 nance and rotten planks need to be replaced years since her restoration started and the before the decay spreads. stern end needs doing again. For the time I got involved with wooden narrow being CRT bureacracy is getting in the way boats in the 1970s. “£100 for a full length of using the boatyard. For the time being she boat, great! I’ll do it up”. When you get stuck soldiers on, aged 114, carrying goods on the in to one wooden boat, somebody offers you recycling trips. another, and so it seemed sensible to set up an organisation, which got more boats doQueen and Elton: Waiting their turns for nated, until the treasurer declared that if we restoration. got any more she was resigning. When you have a fleet of wooden boats you need Recycling trips: These take place on the somewhere to do the work on them, so we first Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of each managed to get a canalside site to use as a month except when these co-incide with a boatyard, and excavated it down 2 metres to bank holiday. Volunteers meet at Portland canal level so that we could slip boats there.
At one time I worked at the Boat Museum. I’m not knocking the museum, but static boat exhibits aren’t my thing. Working boats should be working for their living. Anyway, there was no alternative. The boats had to earn their keep. We set up the monthly recycling trips supplying goods to be turned into money via market stalls and latterly a charity shop and tinternet. There’s not a lot of free money about when it comes to maintaining this particular aspect of waterway heritage. Over the years I got used to being regarded as some kind of weirdo by most boaters, and as something that crawled out from the dredgings tip by British Waterways. I won’t go into all the stereotyping that I’ve been subjected to, but it was getting me down when Tony Conder, then curator of the Gloucester museum, visited to help sort out a problem as BW were trying to chuck our boats out of Portland Basin. He said we were “WORKING WONDERS ON NEXT TO NOTHING”. Indeed we were. Since then the long time objective of getting Hazel (the last surviving Runcorn wooden header) restored has been achieved. When I look back through the photo collection I’m amazed at what has been done. The strange thing is though that people look at a poorly old boat like Elton and are convinced that it is beyond restoration, despite the evidence floating nearby of a shiny restored boat that was once in just as bad condition. People seem to have a prediliction for pessimism. Nowadays I seem to get a lot more respect from boaters and from (most) CRT people. Instead of insults the line I get is more “I think you’re doing something absolutely wonderful here, keep up the good work, love to help but unfortunately......” There are still a lot of challenges, getting Hazel doing her job of providing waterway escapes for people with low mood, and funding that work, developing the Heritage Boatyard so that we can use it to preserve and pass on the skills of wooden boatbuilding, building up the business sidecharity shop, online sales, trading at events etc which has all taken a battering recently with the near collapse of our local town centre. The big problem that we have at the moment is that we need more volunteers with a bit of ability in a whole range of areas to move the whole thing forward. For example, we’re probably going to have to leave
the problem of getting a mooring agreement for the Heritage Boatyard to a future time as we simply don’t have the time and knowledge to counter the bureaucratic hurdles that have been thrown in our way. This will seriously hamper maintenance work on the boats but my appeals for help have so far fallen on deaf ears. Problems are there to be solved, and they will be. You can help, almost whatever your skills are and wherever you live. It’s heritage, it’s boating, it’s canals and it’s interesting. I’m intending to keep whingeing until we get the help that we need from the waterway community, so you might as well just volunteer now! Chris Leah (Ashton Boatman) If you can help, contact the Wooden Canal Boat Society at 173, Stamford St Central, Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS, Tel: 07931 952 037, email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, website wcbs.org.uk
Wendover Arm July and August Working Parties: At the Wendover Arm Trust’s July working party great progress was made with pipe capping (casting a concrete cover over the pipe which was buried in the canal bed to maintain its water supply function while the canal was dry) that is now less than 40 metres from Bridge 4. In August most of the time was spent moving spoil, cutting Bentomat waterproof lining material ready for re-commencing Stage 3 lining and clearing vegetation from the end of the Stage 3 lining at Bridge 4A. Vegetation Control: In July John Reynolds organised a series of dates for a team of volunteers to undertake the control of vegetation in Phases I and II, excluding of course the towpath that it is the responsibility of the Canal & River Trust to keep clear. I am pleased to say that John and his crew have already started the good work and I have included their future work dates in the working party diary. Lottery bid: On Friday 29th September 2016 the representative of the HLF who will be responsible for our project (if our bid passes all the hurdles) was due to visit the restoration to learn what it is all about. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director. Tel: 01442 874536, e-mail email@example.com
Camp reports Grantham Canal
Reporting from the third week of four in a row at Woolsthorpe Locks: the walls of Lock 15 are going up and a concrete pour is imminent...
on arrival. Food was followed by introductions and a welcome spiel from our Leaders In theory, the middle camps of a series of Kirsty and (lady) Harri. We are treated to four in a row at the same site ought to be the revamped H&S video. Those in the the easiest: the accommodation sorted, the know exclaim ‘‘It’s a triumph, an editorial task well under way, we just had to get on breakthrough!’’, there are a few on camp who with the job. What could possibly go wrong? have played a starring role; sorry Barry, The task in hand was rebuilding lock 15 despite forewarning I completely missed you! of the Woolsthorpe flight. Much work on the Suffice to stay it got the messages across, demolition and foundation laying had already already it feels like we are in safe hands. been completed by local Grantham Canal Finally, it’s time to meet the locals as Society, Canal & River Trust and previous some of the group traipse off to the pub; WRG groups. Estimated time of completion conversation is jovial but has a habit of returnNovember ’17. How long? The naivety of ing to the joy of being a dog owner, thanks to group of many WRG virgins, we’ll have those the presence of Syd, a placid friendly lurcher walls up in no time! How hard can it be? accompanied by Andi, a seasoned WRGie. Well we had a lot more novice bricklay- This was the night we learnt Kirsty had a probers than experienced hands, we had various lem with names. Matt is rechristened Tim other groups working at the same time, in (because he looked like a Tim) and henceforth the same space, we had ‘big’ visits of VIPs referred to as ‘not Tim’; throughout the week I that all were keen to impress. And we had am referred to as Jenny, Gemma and Rebecca the baking hot sun. Did we get very far? and occasionally my own name.
Grantham Canal: 16-23 July
Day 1 – Saturday arrival – Tea and trepidation: Saturday is hot, a sign of things to come? As people arrive, rucksacks bursting at the seams and camp beds adorning Cropwell Bishop Memorial hall, I for one start to wonder if I really needed a 3-season sleeping bag, a full set of waterproofs and two woolly jumpers? (novice mistake No. 1). The first few hours fly by in a stream of new faces and names, tea and trepidation. What have I signed up for? I claim an unpopulated part of the stage for sleeping, a corner and curtains all to myself. Matt (aka ‘not Tim’ – more later) carries his steel toe-capped wellies onto the stage, I’m pleased to be sharing a space with someone else who has also clearly misjudged the weather and ground conditions. We get stuck into our first great meal of the week (lots and lots of food). Novice mistake No. 2, any remaining space in my rucksack after woollies and waterproofs was taken up by spare food ‘just in case’. Closely followed by novice mistake No. 3: not having bought and put a bottle of beer in the fridge
Day 2 – Sunday – Hot and slow: Not a particularly early riser, I am awoken by the smell of bacon and tea in bed (had to check I’m not dreaming). Others complain of snoring, but my heavy stage curtains seem to have done a reasonable job of baffling the sounds from the main hall! After a hearty breakfast, a disorganised scramble for packed lunches and triple checks that the brew kit was loaded we are bundled into two brand new vans and off to site. Firstly we are kitted out with PPE and read the riot act about wearing it at all times beyond the compound gates. Next we are given a tour of the site, shown the previous year’s work, a newly constructed spill weir, and the task in hand is explained. At this point it slowly starts to make sense and the enormity of the mission strikes home. The new lock walls need to be constructed from blocks, with a brick face and a concrete backing, and it all needs to tie in with the four original lock corners, still standing proudly. Slight panic crosses the faces of some of the novices. Furthermore,
we have targets. A concrete pour needs to happen on Wednesday. We have to ensure that the blocks and shuttering reach a certain height, on both sides, including making good ties to the existing corners. We meet Mark, CRT project manager. No pressure then: we seem already to be halfway through day one and we haven’t yet done a thing. It feels like the clock is ticking loudly and a little too fast. No fear: Kirsty and Harri have already sorted us into small teams, ‘old hands’ get going, setting out lines and starting on the tricky bits, the rest of us of get directed and cajoled into important but slightly less glamorous jobs: mixing mortar, moving blocks, moving bricks and stabilising the shuttering. We meet Dan, an apprentice brickie from Skegness volunteering for the day. Little does he know that in the matter of minutes he’s transformed from apprentice to expert and he duly provides demonstrations. Before we know it, its lunch time and we are all very hot. And we’ve only just started… After lunch, time returns to normal speed and things really start to happen. Blockwork is in, and to concrete pouring level; I’ve completed what comes to be known as ‘Rachel’s Corner’. It seems like we’re storming ahead, meeting targets with ease. So, despite a slow start, we have achieved lots and we all leave site hot and tired but satisfied. Back at base Lou, our cook for the week, is busy preparing a feast. Novice mistake No. 4: I spend too long in a cold
shower and miss the beer run to the Co-op! I tuck into dinner, convincing myself it is OK to eat this much food, as long as I promise myself that tomorrow I will move more bricks… Day 3 – Monday - Even hotter still, a day of unsung heroes: There are a few amongst us who can’t wait to start laying; confident that yesterday’s blocks went in OK, we are keen to get our hands on bricks. We learn the laying patterns and tools; headers, stretchers, closures, trowels, mallets, lump hammers, pointing trowels... Gradually working out the right tool for the right job. The ‘old hands’ sharing their experience. Meanwhile much work (unnoticed by us newbie diva brickies) goes on, providing us with our every requirement. The mortar seems to arrive just in time, and with just the right consistency to cope with the baking sun, the pile of bricks never seems to go down, but is continually neatly stacked just to hand, water to keep the mortar workable is just in front, juice to drink seems to be offered at just the right time. And all bricks laid are expertly pointed? As if there’s a secret pointing fairy tidying up after you. None of this has happened by accident – we are becoming a team! The glorious task of bricklaying can only take place once Andi, John (aka Hawk) and Chris have set up the lines and shown us how; once Karl, Gordan and Keith have mixed and delivered the mortar; when Tony
Grantham Canal Fact File
Length: 33 miles Locks: 18 Date closed: 1936
The Canal Camp project: Rebuilding Lock 15 on the Woolsthorpe Flight Why? This is part of a major Heritage Lottery Fund backed project by Grantham Canal Society with support from the Canal & River Trust to restore locks 14 and 15 of the seven-lock Woolsthorpe flight. Unfortunately it turned out to be in a much worse state than had been realised, so what had been expected to be a restoration has turned into a demolition (completed last winter) and rebuild job. The wider picture: You’ll see mention in WRG camp reports of CRT trainees: the work is being used as a heritage skills training exercise for the Society and CRT to help provide a pool of volunteers for the next Nottingham River Trent to Newark Woolsthorpe stage, locks 12-13. To Shardlow Proposed Locks 12-18 In terms of progressing diversion Redmile the restoration, it’s also a step towards Grantham Original route Cropwell creating a 10-mile restored length to obstructed The Long Redmile - an in the medium term, Canal Camp Pound completing the Long Pound to Cropwell. Restored site: Lock 15 Get that open, and someone might just find the cash to length deal with the diversion needed to connect the canal back to the Trent.
and James have moved the pallet of bricks to the lock and then by hand into the lock; and the laying is only complete when Barry has finished the pointing. Writing this I sincerely hope I was not the only diva brickie, I confidently count my stage partner ‘not Tim’ as the star of the show, with myself and Patrick in supporting roles. James has also completed ‘James’ What the first three days were preparation for: the concrete pour Corner’ and we have four (hopefully) sealed corners for the concrete pour. climb wearily into the vans back to camp. We also start slowly to mingle with the More ice lollies, fresh fruit and this time CRT Heritage trainees, breaking down barri- a trip to the co-op not just for the beer but ers, crossing organisational divides, it’s a good for a linger around the air conditioned aisles. job we (mostly) hit it off straight away, we are The menu for the evening: a full-on Indian sharing a lock for the rest of the week! feast, various curries, breads, popadoms and Ice lollies and water melon await us dips, followed by orange sorbet, inside the back at camp, followed by lots of fab food, orange! A flashback to the ’90s (for me) of progress report for the day, plan of action for curry house dessert special. Unlike then, tomorrow, chat, an early night for some and though, this has been kept from freezing a mooch to the pub for the rest. The heat solid by a modicum of spiced rum. and dehydration seem to get the better of some, as the alcohol appears to take very Day 5 – Wednesday - mostly concrete quick effect that night, but I will mention no and a navigable canal: A ‘mini’ informal names, ladies… (narrows the field quite a rest day – don’t tell the other camps! There bit!). Just look out for Kirsty in future epiis little that all of us volunteers can do as sodes of Homes under the Hammer: if she there is a significant pour of concrete. Some doesn’t get the job I’ll eat my (hard)hat. go onto site and help marshal over 20 ‘elephant’ lorries full of concrete. Day 4 – Tuesday – Hottest day of the In the meantime the rest of us explore Year: Lady Harri takes the leadership reins the canal beyond ‘our’ lock. That afternoon and takes swift action upon realising that vol- Grantham Canal Society kindly hosts us on unteers are literally wilting in the heat, keep- trip boat Three Shires. We enjoy a leisurely ing us topped up with both sun cream and hot cruise, learning the history and restoration squash; cold squash is an impossible feat. (I’m plans. And just in case we are in danger of sure Harri would have applied sun cream and going hungry Karl has brought his Gran’s force fed us water personally, had we not regu- Banana cake. ‘not Tim’ and Karl steer admiralarly heeded her strongly worded advice.) For bly for parts of the journey; ‘not Tim’ under the sake of survival and quality we need a ‘close supervision’, Karl, apparently, a natural. slower pace of work. Better to get it right first The promised thunderstorm eventually time than have to take it down and do it again! comes and very quickly goes: it feels cooler, The resourceful CRT Heritage trainees leaving us refreshed and looking forward to have hitched up a small shaded area, which I getting really stuck into work the next day. am sure results in a bit more interest in their The evening activities follow the usual section of the lock, further cementing (joke?) pattern of fantastic food, the day’s progress the new found working partnerships. So we report, tomorrow’s briefing, beer and chat; have slowed, but improved, making steady Chris has thrown an addictive and rather progress and importantly survived as we frustrating collection of puzzles into the mix!
Day 6 – Thursday – Full steam ahead: A combination of our ‘mini rest’, it feeling marginally cooler, and the need to slog extra hard to work off last night’s undeserved calories mean Thursday is full steam ahead. We know what we’re doing, we are working as one big team: GCS, CRT Heritage trainees and us, inspired by GCS as to what a canal with working locks and water could offer. It’s bricklaying, shifting bricks, more bricklaying, shifting more bricks. The leaders are working hard to ensure everyone is happy; that the standard is high. Every day new bricklayers are born: who knew Gordon and Karl could also bricklay? Top brickie diva ‘not Tim’ gets comfortable sitting in his ladder recess, unfortunately(?) he can’t move so needs personal assistance all day… We see the brickwork catching up with the blockwork, the courses building slowly but surely. Has Barry really done all that pointing? Phil aka PTB, either very late for our camp or early for the next, makes his mark, mostly driving around in big machinery and moving big stuff. We look competent and hard working. A great impression given that Richard Parry, Head of CRT has visited. Today is the day Gordon loses his sandwiches but gains a phone: Patrick has mistaken Gordon’s bag and ‘strangely’ filled sandwiches for his own, eating them whilst packing his phone away in the mistaken rucksack. At least the bricklaying is going to plan. More great food and beer and stories of canals and camps past – thanks Hawk! Day 7 – Friday – Another full-on day, prepping for next week’s group: How has the week gone so fast? The last opportunity to have a go at perfecting those newly found skills. Gordon and Keith get stuck into bricklaying, and who could have predicted that ‘not Tim’ and I, brickie divas, could also mix mortar? We almost manage not to totally spray mortar over the Sainsbury’s VIPs on site to launch their sponsor a brick scheme; perhaps not the best time to add water? Tony ‘6 bricks and I’m done’ Wynn gets his small quota of bricks laid down and quickly returns to other very useful jobs, and James ‘no bricks’ Fletcher is content that his block corner has withstood the concrete pour and is happy to move as many bricks without mortar as asked to. Barry competently lays and points bricks, we should have known this sooner! We concentrate on preparing for the following camp, moving bricks and sand.
Tools are cleaned and put away. We have to physically stop James cleaning the mixer, it’s personal for the youngster. Another epic feast from Lou: koftes, cous cous, kebabs, salads, glorious puddings with more orangey boozy sorbet. Perfect. Still eager for chat we race to the pub for last(ish) orders and finally speak to the locals… we save ‘not Tim’ from a potentially long debate. The party rages on at camp. Day 8 – Saturday – cleaning and long goodbyes: A lie-in after so many beers drunk by so few people, again you know who you are! Working as the effectively performing team we have become, breakfast is served and cleared (should mention the fabulous few week-long breakfast specialists!), rucksacks packed and the hall cleaned in no time. People packed up but lingering over long goodbyes. When a team disbands there is the inevitable period of mourning – it’s called adjourning in the management books, and it’s true. I am going to miss the communal living, the excellent food (thanks Lou!) and new friends. It has all gone so quickly, a lot of fun has been had, part of a lock rebuilt and nothing has gone wrong - and why should it? Until the next time all you lovely people… PS for Kirsty – what happens at Trent lock on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, stays at Trent lock, doesn’t it Barry? Rachel Harvey and ‘not Tim’ Vile
Levelling the concrete
Navvies News £120K Van Appeal: countdown to close! It has been a busy summer of canal camps and festivals, but the Van Appeal to replace our fleet of four van/minibuses rolls on. What’s more, it is very nearly the end of the road: with the total at over £115,000 we are reaching the last crucial stages and every donation counts. We have enough money to place an order for the third van in the next few months but need one last push for the final van. We know WRG have not been idling even at this stage though, with lots of donations being collected at the Chesterfield and Pelsall festivals, through the ever popular drive-a-digger stand. A few weeks ago, Sarah Frayne, IWA’s Fundraising Officer, also ran 10km at CRT’s Two Arms on Two Legs event on the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal, with all money raised going to the Appeal. Thank you to anyone who supported with sponsorship. We’ve been amazed by the response so far and we know with your help we can make it all the way to the finish line – the appeal will officially close at the end of October, so if you’ve been thinking about writing that cheque, you’ve only got a few more weeks to get it in! See wrg.org.uk for how to donate. Sarah Frayne
Third one ordered - help us pay for the fourth!
Restoration management courses We realise that most of you are interested in the practical side of canal restoration, but it won’t happen without the unglamorous planning and management type stuff going on in the background. And so to help canal societies with this vital side of their work, our parent body The Inland Waterways Association has got together with the Canal & River Trust to set up a course in managing canal restoration in three parts, run by Dr Geraint Coles: 22 Oct 2016 From creating a vision to restoration planning: The project planning and management skills required to take a project from brainwave to a deliverable scheme which is likely to be funded. 28 Jan 2017 Managing restoration delivery: The practical management of project delivery from detailed build-design to project approvals, thence on to site preparations and safety.
18 Mar 2017 Keeping the lights on: The sustainability of waterway conservation, Tony Harrison Bequest: correction restoration and development projects. In our piece last time inviting applications from canal groups for up to £200,000 for They will be hosted in different parts of the canal projects from a legacy from the late country: you can attend one session and Tony Harrison, IWA honorary consulting receive the full course through comprehenhydrologist, we gave the wrong closing date. sive notes online. More information from You actually have until 31 October to apply. head office, email restoration@canalrivertrust .org.uk or IWA website waterways.org.uk.
Directory update The Lancaster Canal Trust has a new contact: Working Parties Organiser Robin Yates, Tel: 01539 733252, email firstname.lastname@example.org Next full directory will appear in issue 281: please send any updates, additions, deletions or corrections to the editor.
Outdoor lights free to good home George ‘Bungle’ Eycott has seven 40W 240V outdoor sodium light fittings free to a good home. Suitable for fixed installation. Contact email@example.com if you are interested.
If you move house... ...please remember to tell Navvies. But also please note that IWA and WRG maintain separate address lists. If you change your address or other Navvies subs details, you can’t assume that it will propagate to the IWA membership database, nor vice versa.
Congratulations... ...to Bobby Silverwood and Jo Clarke on getting married. ...to Bob Metcalfe and Kate Elwell on getting married. ...and to Liz Wilson and Colin Baker on getting married.
Safety notes We hope to introduce a regular column in Navvies highlighting any particular current safety concerns, but for now here are a few brief notes following on from this summer: Firstly Burco tea boilers: don’t let them boil dry, especially gas-fired ones. This is not only expensive (Bungle reports that he has a ‘mountain’ of broken Burcos) and frustrating to anyone who wants a cup of tea, but potential dangerous as it can start a fire. Please remember to check regularly that they are topped up - especially on hot summer camps when not so many people will be having hot drinks, so it doesn’t get noticed so quickly. Secondly Safety specs: firstly to remind volunteers and leaders that we have made these compulsory on our week-long canal camps; secondly to point out the two types. If you wear glasses, you need the over-specs. If you don’t wear glasses, you need the under-specs.
Peter Konitzer R.I.P. Not directly connected to WRG but relevant to all volunteers is some very sad news from the Wilts & Berks Canal. We are sorry to have to report that restoration volunteer Peter Konitzer suffered a fatal accident while working at Pewsham Locks. It would be inappropriate to comment while the Health & Safety Executive is carrying out its investigation, so we will simply offer our sympathies to his family, friends, and fellow members of the Canal Trust. Take care, everyone.
And finally... “Have you ever asked yourself what an inland waterway actually is?” asks Brian Andrews. Well, I’m not sure I ever have. But Brian hasn’t just asked himself; back in 1976 he actually asked the Inland Waterways Association. No, he hadn’t taken leave of his senses, he’d actually got a genuine reason to ask: “I read in the local newspaper that a series of lakes near Sevenoaks, used for boating, were to be closed and redeveloped. I was not sure if this came under our remit and wrote to the IWA asking what constituted an inland waterway.” And 40 years on, he recently came across the letter he received back from the then IWA Hon Sec, John Taunton all those years ago... “You will be interested to hear that we have now, after much discussion, agreed upon a definition of ‘inland waterway’ which has been accepted by the IWA Council. This is: “A body of water, including a river, lake or canal, which is, or previously has been, suitable as a route for navigation, and which is ‘smooth or partially smooth water’ as defined by the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances) Rules 1965.” Mr Taunton added that the Merchant Shipping Rules contain a schedule listing all estuaries around Britain and defining which areas are ‘smooth’ or ‘partially smooth’ including some which vary between summer and winter (which are also defined), leading to the intriguing possibility that something might be an inland waterway in summer but not in winter! Mr Taunton also said that “If you don’t like this definition you can blame me” as it had been his own proposal which had been adopted - and added that it was “very interesting to find out how many people, including even IWA Council members, had quite different conceptions of what the phrase meant”. He concluded that it was “useful” that after all so many years, the Inland Waterways Association actually knew what an Inland Waterway was. And so do you, now. Coming soon: what is a lock?
Infill ...incluing Dear Deirdre
Small washbasins, large hula hoops, WRG at the movies, and what to do with grey squirrels...
Dear Deidre As we will be staying at Kempsford village hall a lot over the next few years while we work on Inglesham lock, can you advise how one is supposed to wash in the hall’s tiny hand sinks? - J H, London Deirdre writes I’m not really quite sure how you’re supposed to wash in those teenie weenie sinks either. Luckily those big red boxes that the catering kit comes in are very helpful under these circumstances. My advice is to fill one right up from the Burco, then wedge the bathroom door closed and have a good soak. You do need to be quite flexible if you want to get all the cracks wet though.
BrokeBurco Mountain, the movie A chance comment at the last WRG Committee meeting about how Bungle had got a ‘mountain of broken Burcos’ led one WRG Director (who had probably better remain nameless) to come up with the following film trailer for BrokeBurco Mountain: Set against the sweeping vistas of the Lincolnshire plains, a hot water boiler and a navvy forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys, and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of tea. The story of a lunch break, bean and mustard sarnies and yet hunger for something beyond what they can articulate. Will the flames of passion ever be extinguished? Now I don’t want to worry you too much, but a synopsis for the entire movie has just arrived in my in-box, ready for issue 280...
Spotted at Pelsall My thanks to Barbara Bridge for this picture of some odd gyrations going on at the IWA Pelsall Festival. And you thought the only hula hoops that Moose was interested in would be the ones that come in plain, cheese & onion, salt & vinegar, smoky bacon...
Invasive recipes... Our recipe for Himalayan Balsam wine as a way of making something useful out of a troublesome non-native weed that’s taking over our river banks struck a chord with Iain Corbin... I was once told that they also make a really good colouring for jams and were used instead of cochineal red. This got me thinking in the best way to remove other pests from our waterways and surrounding environs. Grey Squirrels could be eaten and so could the American crayfish, future WRG barbecues sorted. Send out a couple volunteers to catch the food. A good way of keeping the costs down. I also have a recipe for Japanese Knotweed beer. The young stalks are cut, a bit like asparagus, and then mixed with yeast and brewed... Perhaps this could be a topic for cooks at the Leader Training Day next year. Or perhaps not.
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...and got the T-shirt 35
Navvies 279. Waterway Recovery Group's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.