50 years of restoring waterways
ÂŁ120k van appeal hits target! waterway recovery group
Reunion report and pictures Issue No 280 December-January 2016-17 page 1
Van Appeal hits target To celebrate the success of our ÂŁ120,000 appeal to replace all of our van/minibuses we posed a group photo with two of the new vehicles at the Reunion (see front cover). On this page are a selection of photos of our fundraising activities over the last two years
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... From the editor: 50 years of Navvies 4-5 Chairman if he writes it in time 6-7 Coming soon Clean Up, barn dance... 8-9 Camp Reports Lapal Canal, Stover Canal, Ashby Canal, Shrewsbury & Newport 10-21 Reunion Report Chesterfield and Cromford canals 10-21 Colour photofeature: 50 before-and-after pictures for 50 years of Navvies 25-40 WRGBC Boat Club News 41 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies 42-47 Progress our regular roundup 48-51 London WRG heads for Shropshire 52-53 Autumn camps Uttoxeter, Chelmer & Blackwater and Grantham canals 54-58 Navvies News 59-60 Infill BrokeBurco Mountain, the movie 61-62 Reunion in pictures 63
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 281: 1 January.
Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £3.00 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques payable to "Inland Waterways Association" please. This is a minimum subscription, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.
Cover Picture: A group photo with our two new vans at the Reunion to celebrate the WRG Van Appeal hitting its £120,000 target, enabling us to replace all of our vehicles. (picture by Martin Ludgate) Back cover: October camps on the Uttoxeter (top, by John Hawkins), Chelmer & Blackwater (bottom left, Alex Melson) and Grantham (bottom right)
50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 Job done! This is the sixth and final issue of Navvies published during out 50th anniversary year of 2016, so we have the last of our series of articles to mark the occasion - and we’ve saved something special for this one. But first, our ‘50 T-shirts’ feature in the last issue has inspired some correspondence, firstly from Dave Turner: Herewith photo of my shrunken much faded T-shirt I was forced to wear by that old scoundrel,John Felix, as part of the WRG contingent when the Queen Mum reopened the Upper Avon Navigation in 1974. Although I had not actually worked on the river at that time I was representing my group Peak Forest Mobile which became WRG North-West the following year. Sadly the only T-shirt that could be found was two sizes too small for me but that was just my bad luck - but half explains why it has survived so long. That day also saw my introduction to WRG Transits or at least to the back of a very overloaded one being driven at speed around Stratford... Is this, then, the oldest surviving WRG T-shirt? Or do you have an earlier one? If so, we’d like to see it, in view of the next missive which is from Mike Day: I should like to report on the very first WRG T-shirts that Graham Palmer ordered without getting someone better qualified to help. They were voluminous cheap cotton, with the legend ‘Waterway Recovery Group’ printed from side seam to side seam. All was OK when a navvy wore it, but when a well endowed cook thrust her chest into it I fear it read something like —aterwa— cove—. They made great cleaning cloths, however. Finally Keith Vigurs sent in a picture of one of a small run of ‘specials’ produced by Julian of Jancraft for Ian Gall and himself (among others) which he felt summed up their involvement in the IWA National Waterways Festivals. Keith says they “caused a lot of laughter” at the time.
“Always in the shit, only the depth varies”
structure built by contractors, but volunteers (Wey & Arun Canal Trust plus lots of support WRG, KESCRG and NWPG) have done all the rest - pavements, brick facings, wing walls, a lot of earthworks and more. Something similar happened at Bridge 62 on the Ashby. WACT have got another one lined up for us at Tickners, and John Dodwell reckons School Bridge on the Mont is another candidate. Meanwhile I gather the Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteer team, fresh from building the new Staveley Town Lock, have their hearts set on the first brand-new volunteerbuilt set of staircase locks, one of several which will avoid the collapsed length of Norwood Tunnel. And speaking of tunnels, perhaps we could restore one of those? Or build a boat lift? Lichfield might just have a ‘shaft lock’ (a very deep one, entered by a short cut-and-cover tunnel at the bottom) that needs building. Oh, and we might be back on the Mont building another nature reserve. What do you reckon the next halfcentury holds in store for Navvies? Looking to the shorter-term future, in 2017 we plan to bring back the ‘technical’ type Navvies articles which we haven’t run many of recently - I’ve got one about shuttering lined up, and if there’s anything else you’d like to read up on, please suggest it. Finally, speaking of 2017, I’ll finish by thanking everyone who’s sent in contributions this year, plus John Hawkins of WRG Print, Chris Griffiths for help with printing, Sue Watts for renewals, the volunteers at the envelopestuffing sessions, Dave Wedd for the diary, Robert Goundry for progress reports, Lesley for proofreading, the Head Office team, and anyone I’ve missed. Have a good Christmas folks, and all the best for the New Year. Martin Ludgate
Pictures by Chris Deuchar
But back to this issue, and after last time’s jollity we’re onto more serious stuff. In the middle 16 pages we have a colour photofeature with 50 ‘then and now’ photos, showing worksites that we (and that’s ‘we’ in the widest sense of the entire volunteer canal restoration movement, not just WRG - which didn’t even exist for the first four years) have worked on over the last half-century. I’m sure there are plenty more that we’ve missed - so feel free to send in any pictures you have of other sites. The only criteria are: (a) the job involved volunteers (b) it took place since 1966 (c) the waterway was being restored from dereliction and (d) the job was completed to the point of being if not fully navigable then at least watered, locks re-gated, and looking a ‘proper’ canal. My thanks to everyone who contributed photos to this article, which was a mixture of ‘crowd-sourcing’ via the WRG Facebook group plus the usual suspects. On this page is an extra one, which didn’t make it into the main article because (a) I’d already finished the 16-page colour section when the pics arrived and (b) it doesn’t quite fit the criteria, being a navigable waterway rather than a restoration project. But it was something a bit different - a historic canalside building (and, as it happens, one that I gather is under threat of unsymphathetic modification right now), and that got me thinking. What kind of projects would we be looking back at if we were to still be around to run a repeat feature when Navvies magazine is 100 years old? Or even just in ten? Would it be lots of pictures of locks again, like this time? Or might things have moved on? We’re just on the point of finishing Compasses Bridge on the Wey & Arun, where a main road standard bridge has had its basic
Trent & Mersey: Shardlow warehouse under restoration in 1978 and complete in 1979
teemed editor has recently written about the dangers of saying “nothing significant will happen in the next few years” and how it is a self-fulfilling prophecy and I agree with him. The successful projects are the ones who take that challenge and say “we appear to have no resources from anyThe R-word... where else: we will have to find some from within This Comment will make extensive reference to and get on with it”. Staggeringly it appears that IWA has recogthe “R word”. No, not about what shade of RED our vans should be, nor about whether we should nised that it has fallen for the hand-wringing trap do RALLIES, nor about how RIDICULOUS the and has worked out that if it wants to claim a place in the restoration world it will have to earn latest missive from CRT is. The R word here is RESTORATION. In particular Restoration and it. The concept of leadership only really applies what WRG’s parent body the Inland Waterways when times are bad, not when times are good. So what evidence am I basing this assumpAssociation proposes to do about it. Because, while IWA has a pretty solid repu- tion on? In April IWA held (jointly with CRT) a tation with regard to navigation it could be said Restoration Conference. In the opening address the IWA chairman announced a renewed committhat IWA’s place in the world of restoration has ment to restoration and the formation of a Restobeen a little vaguer. I think there are some understandable reasons for this: navigation (and in ration Hub to ensure that everything IWA did with particular any threats to it) is easy to visualise. The regard to restoration was properly joined up. Now “leading” on restoration is a difficult boats and the channel are already there and so it is thing to define. How do you seem to be the lead easy to see what is, or is about to be, lost. During the bad times it is even starker and, crucially, when there are so many big players? Well IWA has IWA has many members for whom navigation is a spotted a couple of key themes: firstly you have to key part of their lives. So all those boaters keep have some decent values of integrity, honesty and the pressure on and there is no chance of IWA sticking to your objectives. Secondly you have to missing opportunities to carry out its objectives champion restoration using the unique resources with regard to navigation. (including your friends) that only you have. And But restoration is a little more nebulous. thirdly you can only be a leader if you do it all the Because when austerity kicks in, it is not about time – good times and bad. It’s not about being the losing anything real, just about deferring the biggest, or the richest or any of that. It’s about opportunity. Thanks to years of campaigning and being the organisation that never gives up. planning protection, very few restorations are Now when the Restoration Hub was anactually under threat – it would be almost impossi- nounced I don’t think it will surprise anyone that ble to build a shopping centre on top of a derelict we only really had a collection of ideas about what canal line (wouldn’t it?). “The potential to restore the problem was and even fewer ideas about how the Nitts and Stuffs canal is still there, it is just we were going to solve them. Six months on these that we are not funding it yet”. ideas are forming – so here is a sneak preview, So how do you complain and enthuse people exclusive to Navvies readers. to stay with your cause during these bad times? Because this is an IWA project there is a Because that’s the thing about restoration – it proper paper outlining this with proper objectives takes a long, long time; so you need to keep it and plans but it’s all a bit dry – what follows now going both during the bad times and the good. is my version of what’s going to happen (think of Whilst most IWA members would describe themit as the difference between what actually hapselves as wholehearted supporters of restoration, pened on the camp and what happened according when the Nitts and Stuffs canal doesn’t get its to the camp report). funding is it down to IWA to solve the problem, or So let’s go back to basics; IWA has always is it for the local society to deal with it? had two key areas of operations. The navigation It’s a clumsy oversimplification, but restora- area (I like to call that the Blue stuff), and the tion is easy when times are good because the restoration area (for obvious reasons I like to call evidence to support restoration is overwhelming. that the Red bit). So let’s get one important point The really tricky bit is when times are not so good, out of the way now. The IWA Trustees are quite and you have to generate success through blood, clear that none of the stuff you are about to read sweat and tears, and it is oh-so-easy instead to will affect the Blue stuff. Everything IWA does for simply go for some hand-wringing and chant the navigation will continue. This is not about robbing “we will have to sit and wait” mantra. Our esPeter to pay Paul.
The next point to clear up is that a lot of what we might call business as usual will carry on. The most obvious area is us – Waterway Recovery Group. So to be clear, WRG is part of IWA’s Restoration Hub - for decades the IWA members have funded our core costs and it would be both foolish and unfair not to acknowledge this. However both IWA members and trustees seem to appreciate the work we do and the value they get for their money so they show no interest in changing our operation. (Though they will be throwing questions at us – more of that in future issues). But, as I say, that is all business as usual (BAU), what else will this snappily titled Restoration Hub do? Well also in the same BAU category is the hundreds of restoration enquiries that IWA fields every year from restorers (and potential restorers). These will now all be dealt with by the team at Head Office. I don’t mean they will be providing the answers themselves but they will put them in contact with the right person. Which instantly brings a degree of coordination as this is the same team who are working with us to plan our work. So not only will Head Office know which technical expert to call when they get an enquiry about (say) fibre-reinforced concrete for producing mass foundations, but they will also just as importantly know the last person who did a job like that using volunteers (in this case Emma and Pete, Grantham Lock 15, Summer 2016). So although the IWA has always done restoration enquiries we very much hope that this arrangement will be a lot speedier and more co-ordinated and comprehensive. This will also be backed up by a lot more resources on common Restoration themes. We have already started to write scripts for a couple more videos to fill in some of the gaps in the restoration picture. There is even talk of a restoration newsletter (I doubt Martin will be quaking in his boots!) Because all of the enquiries will all go through one hub and be logged it should also mean that we can spot trends and common issues and deal with them. That might be a new factsheet, a request to Trustees for some training funds, setting up a phone-conference for all interested parties, etc. These trends will also be fed up to a group who are at the other end of the spectrum, as far away from the daily enquiries as it is possible to get. The High Level Restoration Strategy panel (to be known as HLRP or RSHL or ResPAN or something, perhaps we will run a competition) is challenged with having the big thoughts and doing the big deeds. Now the current “polite” definition of this group is to focus on encouraging, promoting
and enabling waterway restoration at a national level, including the production of authoritative reports to galvanise the attention and support of the media and influential politicians. Which I translate as work out who is proving to be a barrier to restoration and beat them with sticks until they see our way. Because IWA’s reputation means it has got (or can obtain) access to a lot of areas of influence and, unlike many other waterway organisations, it can rightly claim to be disinterested (insert your own joke here). In other words we are not asking for funding for ourselves but for others. Whilst this may not seem like a big difference, having done a bit of this high level stuff with IWAC in the past it makes all the difference to your arguments getting heard. The current timeline for this group is it should be in place by early 2017. And then finally to fill the gap between these two areas of activity there will be IWA Restoration Champions. To be honest this is still a bit vague as we have been focussing on the top and the bottom of the pyramid. But the plan is that these will be recognised as experts not necessarily in any technical sphere but as people who can inspire schemes currently stuck in the doldrums (whether they realise it or not!). Which is one of the reasons why we have been a bit slow getting round to this bit, we really need to get the rest of the jigsaw in place, not only to see what is missing but also to give both the Head Office team and the High Level panel time to work out what they think is missing. As soon as we have this bit in place we will let you know, however we are sure it will be similar to the way the Hub experts will operate – nobody will be a permanent champion, they will be picked based on their record of inspiring projects to get over a barrier. It will be a case of picking the The Right Person for the Right Job as it were. You will have spotted throughout this comment that I keep swapping between “we” and “they”. This is because I have been pretty involved in all the thinking that has been going on for the last year. It is early days but this new initiative has the backing of the WRG Board, IWA trustees and Head Office. We are always trying to apply a multiplier to our work, the Restoration Hub represents a real chance to build on all the brilliant work that we all do and inspire all those involved in restoration. Which is, of course, the real goal here: if the IWA can prove that, even when your resources seem small, just some hard work, playing to your resources and all pulling together you can achieve something brilliant then that is the most inspiring thing of all. Mike Palmer
Coming soon... Winter camps, Clean Up...
Book now for the February Chelmer & Blackwater Camp and the BCN Clean Up. And note the date for THE 2017 REUNION we’ve already got a site!
Last call for Christmas Camps: Cotswold and Wilts & Berks If all goes to plan, this issue will arrive through your letter box a few days before Christmas, so there’s just time for you to check out whether there’s any space left on either of the Christmas / New Year canal camps. Once again the final camp in the year’s WRG Canal Camps programme, Camp 2016-35 is on the Cotswold Canals from 26 December to 1 January, working in the Eisey area (but a shorter walk to site promised!), this time we’re staying at Brimscombe Port, and once again Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden is the leader. So if you want to join us, book via www.wrg.org.uk or contact head office on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01494 783453 - or if you’ve left it too late and they’ve already broken up for the hols, contact the leader directly on email@example.com or 07961 922153. Meanwhile on the Wilts & Berks there’s another camp camp being led by the WRG BITM regional group in the Dauntsey area, with scrub-bashing and bonfires promised, and it also runs from 26 December to 1 January. If you’re interested, contact Dave Wedd on Tel: 07816 175454 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp 2017-01: 11-18 February, Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Our 2017 Canal Camps booklet should be incuded with this issue of Navvies, with full details of the entire year’s programme. But we’d like to draw your attention to the fact that it kicks off in less than two months with a week of towpath improvement and vegetation clearance on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in rural Essex on 11-18 February. Book via Head Office or wrg.org.uk as usual for canal camps.
WRG Barn Dance: Saturday 18 March 2017 The rumours are true, the Barn Dance will be back for 2017! The Van Appeal may be over but since when did WRG need an excuse for a good night out? Tickets are £15 per person and booking in advance is essential as there are limited spaces available. Dinner is included in the ticket price and there will be a selection of local beers and other beverages on sale at the bar. After they went down so well last year, managing to get even the most reluctant dancers on the floor, “Rogue Music and Friends”, will once again be returning as your entertainment for the night. We do have a change of venue this year and will be at Lapworth rather than Rowington but accommodation in the hall will still be available after the dancing has finished. Cooked breakfast the next morning can be booked for £2 extra. Just send in the booking form opposite with your cheque, or for more information contact Sarah Frayne at Head Office for more information on 01494 783453 ext. 611 or email email@example.com.
BCN Clean Up: 1-2 April 2017 This is our annual weekend of slinging our hooks into the murky waters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations and pulling shopping trolleys, bikes, prams, tyres (and occasionally more unusual items including a coffin, a toilet and a sword). Here’s leader Chris Morgan with an update on what’s happening this year... The location for the 2017 event is back to the Wyrley and Essington Canal, on the western bit between Horseley Fields Junction (Wolverhampton ) and Sneyd near Walsall . I am still working on the accommodation and hope to have it sorted by the New Year.
we have massive political support in the area where local councillor Phil Bateman is spending a lot of time promoting the Canal and working to create a linear park and wildlife reserve as well as attracting more boat movements . I’m not sure if we have ever cleaned this bit of the W&E, I certainly have not in my 10 years of Clean Ups. I am having some more grappling hooks made up so there will be plenty for everyone - and if you want your own personal hook with rope for a tenner please let me know. More info and a booking form in the next issue of Navvies. Chris Morgan
Canalway Cavalcade 29 April: 1 May 2017 – call for volunteers Canalway 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 or to register your interest, contact George Rogers on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07789 493967. And please note the date above: it was incorrect in the last Navvies.
Leader Training Day: Saturday 13 May 2017 Still a long way in the future, but if you’re a camp leader, assistant or cook, or fancy giving it a go and want to find out what’s involved, note the date and look out for updates in future issues.
And finally... WRG Reunion, Uttoxeter Canal: 4-5 November 2017 It’s like waiting or a bus! You wait ages, then two come along at once... Yes, after spending most of the last year trying to find a venue for this year’s big annual Reunion / Bonfire Bash working party and finally sorting it at the very last moment, we’ve only gone and found a site for next year’s already! We’ll be returning to the Uttoxeter Canal in Staffordshire, site of the 2015 Reunion, but this time with a whole year to plan it. So hopefully we’ll be able to tell you all about it in good time, sort out some really spacious accommodation, get back to the bigger numbers of volunteers we used to attract a few years ago, and really make a huge impact on this up-and-coming restoration project. So write it in your diaries now!
waterway recovery group Barn Dance 2017 I would like to attend the WRG Barn Dance at Lapworth on 18 March Forename:
Address: email: Phone:
Any special dietary requirements?
Will you be staying overnight YES/NO I enclose payment of £
If so, do you want breakfast YES/NO
(cheques payable to ‘Inland Waterways Association’).
(cost is £15 plus £2 extra if you want breakfast) Send to: WRG Barn Dance, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA
Camp Reports Lapal Canal
After a couple of false starts, this was the year that the Lapal Camp finally happened. And when it happened, it really happened, as Ian Gaston reports...
Lapal Canal 30 July - 6 August It was said “There is a canal camp at Lapal this year”, but as a volunteer on the previous two years that were cancelled at short notice I wondered: would it really go ahead this year? This was to be my first camp as a Leader of the first of two camps on the same site, as opposed to following on from the previous one; little did I know or understand the amount if work that it would involve. I was lucky, however, in that the Lapal Canal Trust members were very supportive and encouraging and my many MUPs (sounds derogatory, but they really were my Most Useful People) were superb. Lapal was to be a ‘mechanical camp’ - but turned out to be a single excavator with the majority of work being brick, block and stone related. Whilst I had been involved in brickwork before I realised I needed some expert help. The latter came in the form of Steve Baylis who was on site on Sunday and made a daily visit providing expert advice and boosting the team members’ confidence in their abilities, as Emma proved when building her block and brick wall. For van and excavator instruction we had Paul Shaw training Phil on the excavator and both Bev and Malcolm on Vans. Paul led the way in providing the access path and staging area for the disabled access to be completed at a later date. David Smith as usual turned up with his ‘Aladdin’s van’ and instructed on lime mortar mixing, concrete and the use of his jack hammer. The latter allowed us to expose the off side wharf wall coming from the Bridge which had not been seen for many a year. Martin Ludgate was invited to attend (“please Martin...” pleaded the Leader) to put the finishing touches on our renovated wall and not only did he teach others in this art, but also added a fascia wall to the block retaining wall inserted to retain the new access path. Bev Williams our cook, on only her second camp, again excelled on our food preparation and delivery. The menu choice was flexible and the lunchtime sandwich filling delicious.
Lapal Canal Fact File Length under restoration: 5 miles Locks: none as built Date closed: 1917 (tunnel collapsed) The Canal Camp project: Rebuilding a towpath wall and building a retaining wall (for an access path) by Selly Oak Park Bridge To Netherton ‘Lapal Canal’ is a name given Windmill End
Why? To re-water this To length, in the hope that Stourbridge it can be linked up to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal by reinstating the next section as part of a redevelopment scheme.
Dudley No 2 Canal navigable to Hawne Basin
to the abandoned length of the Dudley No 2 Canal from Hawne Basin to Selly Oak
Gosty Hill Tunnel
Canal Camp site: Selly Park Bridge
The wider picture: Reopening from the Worcester Hawne Birmingham & Birmingham into Selly Park is the first step Basin Proposed diversion towards opening the two miles to California (yes!) with new locks and a new marina at the east portal of Lapal Tunnel. Selly California Ultimately Lapal Canal Trust hopes to bypass the Oak Lapal Tunnel collapsed tunnel and open through to Hawne Basin (collapsed)
Pictures by Ian Gaston
Last but not least, my trusty assistant Emma Nurton who took on a building job instructing others, helped me, and entertained us in the evening. The camp started with only five and by the first Saturday swelled to 19, not counting Steve or Martin. We had five Duke of Edinburgh’s Award volunteers and six others who had never been on a camp before. Background: The Lapal Canal Trust is focused on restoring the Dudley No 2 canal from Selly Oak to California where it’s planned to build a marina with new homes. It will be a significant regeneration project creating employment and becoming a tourist attraction. The Trust’s quote on completion said: In a significant step forward a group of canal enthusiasts from the Waterway Recovery Group descended on Selly Oak for one week of intensive canal restoration work. While mainly focused on repairing a section of the canal wall, the group also cleared the vegetation that was damaging the bridge, cleared the offside wall and greatly improved the access path. Our week started with our arrival on Saturday 30 July in two new red vans recently bought from donations received. We set up in the Stonehouse Gang Youth Club facilities and started work on Sunday morning. For 11 of the 19 volunteers this was their first experience, a chance to learn new skills of mixing lime mortar, cleaning old bricks for re use, brick laying and pointing. The group had ‘kit C’ containing all the right tools for the first the job in hand, and were supported by Lapal Canal Trust volunteers who arranged the facilities, delivery of all the materials, hire of the excavator and skip, and helped on various tasks. Sunday, First day. Started early and very quickly made amazing progress. Removed the fence and the soil covering the wall (left) to determine the task ahead, also busy cleaning the old bricks to be re-used and cleared years of vegetation hiding and damaging the old bridge (right). Prepared a secure area for receiving materials on Monday. Monday, 2nd Day. Another successful day with steady progress, cleaning old bricks for re-use, cleaning and preparing the wall for brick laying and starting to repair the wall (left) by pointing with fresh lime mortar, learning a new skill with great results.
Tuesday, 3rd Day. Despite the rain, work continued apace, cleaning bricks and the wall and starting to reassemble (below left), itâ€™s a work of art! In the evening the Lapal Canal Trust generously hosted a meal for a very friendly group in a Birmingham restaurant, travelling by narrowboat from Selly Oak (below right). A new experience for many.
Wednesday, 4th Day. On detailed examination it was recommended to the Trust that a section of the wall needed strengthening with concrete, it was unexpected but key to secure the future of the wall. Paul gave an estimate of 5 and the actual measured amount was 4.8 cubic metres of concrete was used with steel reinforcement, it was a lot of wheel barrows (below) but the result (right) should last for another 50 years or so. We also laid foundations to strengthen the access path but mostly the focus was on repairing the wall.
Thursday, 5th Day. Long day finishing at 7.30 pm, lots of tasks, mainly brick laying (far left), but also building a retaining wall for the path (left), removing a large concrete block from the bed of the canal, clearing the off side wall which remains in good condition, and as always cleaning lots of bricks!
Friday, 6th and final day. Rather a sad day, for the WRG team who came from all over the country and were due to go separate ways after a great week working together. Everyone worked so hard, as the original intention was to run a second camp but lack of volunteers meant it had to be cancelled which increased the pressure in the latter half of the week to complete all the tasks.
As leader my thanks go to the team and the trust volunteers who worked alongside us. It was a team achievement and everyone should be proud of what we achieved. The DoE members greatly deserved the good reports they received and this activity should be added to their CV when they apply for jobs later on. As the leader I am humbled by the teamâ€™s commitment, drive and enthusiasm and it is this camaraderie which brings me back to WRGie camps and weekends year after year. My thanks to you all. I believe we exceeded the Lapal Trust expectations as we completed more that half of the wall (target for two weeks), access path improved, offside wall uncovered and a very large block of concrete broken up and removed and finally a safety bank reinstated against the wall. There is a possibility of a Lapal Camp in 2017 and we have some ideas on entertainment already.... if you are up for it Ian Gaston
about 4 weeks before I was due to leave. I live on my own with my Jack Russell, so usually I tell everyone everything I’m doing. When I did tell a few friends and family what I had planned they were very supportive and excited for me. Once I had received an email from Alex at HQ and Kym who was assistant leader, it all seemed real. It was great to get more information about the work involved and I started to believe it was really happenStover Canal 6-13 August ing. I was both excited and anxious, usually I On 6 August this year I went on my first prefer to do things with one or more people. canal camp with WRG at Stover, and I loved The journey from Wales on the Saturit! I had never done anything like it before day morning was OK and I arrived at the but will certainly be doing it again! scout hut and met Colin who showed me I turned 60 last year and felt that I where I’d be sleeping for the next week. wanted to do some volunteering. Having Everyone was so friendly. Usually I am hopeworked in the NHS for nearly 40 years I also less at remembering people’s names and wanted to do something completely different. there were 18 to remember, but within 24 The idea of what to do occurred to me when I hours I knew them all! There were teenagers was reading a WI magazine in March 2016 waiting for A level results; another doing his about the work of volunteers and the WRG. It Duke of Edinburgh’s award, two girls from sounded interesting and definitely different, so France at university; a couple from Spain; I sent an email to enquire. After reading the another lady from France. There were information and a Navvies magazine, I decided newbies and some that had done many to go for it and by April I had booked to go to camps before, and we were later joined by Stover! I have previously been camping with Alex from HQ. There were a mixture of ages, the cubs and scouts, so had all the equipment, but a great group of people. apart from the essential steel toe cap boots. George was our cook and someone These were easily ordered on Amazon. who had been on a previous camp with him April to August seemed a long time to cooking said he was good. Well I can confirm wait and I didn’t tell anyone I was going until his food was fantastic. Each evening he
Camp Reports Stover Canal
And the work... A ‘Stoverly’ interesting camp: WRG volunteers in August ‘bent stover backwards’ [OK, that’s enough bad puns on ‘Stover’ ...Ed] to help make significant progress in restoring parts of the Stover Canal at Ventiford Basin this Summer. Volunteers from all over flocked to the Stover Canal to experience life a modern day navvy; coming from as far afield as Spain and France and not forgetting exotic Wales. Spilt into three groups we each tackled a different aspect of the restoration over the first half of the week. Team one consisting of Colin and Dave used an excavator and forward tipping dumper to further expose an old granite tramway now hidden beneath the surface carefully removing the soil and transporting it to where team two were. Team two which consisted of the largest number of volunteers worked on improving the tow path running alongside the now derelict canal; rotating duties whenever needed. After three days of shovelling, barrowing, mattocking, trimming and whacker plating the removed soil on the path to cover the now very uneven path with a large number of exposed roots. Group three consisting of three volunteers spent much of the week down a hole underneath the remains of an old crane that used to load the boats with their granite payload, to remove silt, debris and other artefacts chucked down there since its closure. Once the path was complete the main group returned to the dock walls and began the operation to remove loose stone work , clear the loose mortar and repoint it. This involved a lot of mixing of lime mortar and shifting buckets full of mortar. Whilst all this was going on a concerted effort by the Stover Canal Trust and WRG volunteers was put into installing a new gate onto the site of the Basin with future hope to improve access to site. Anyway… It ain’t Stover till the fat lady sings [I warned you! ...Ed]. WRG will be coming to Stover again in 2017 so keep an eye out for the dates in the 2017 Camps brochure included with this issue. Alex Melson
asked what people wanted to eat the next day/days (apparently this is not usually done!), but he met the challenges and we had excellent food which also included lots of cake. When I got home I hardly ate for a few days because my stomach was still recovering from the yummy food cooked by George. Colin was also a brilliant leader, ably assisted by Kym. He always explained everything, the plans for each day and both were very supportive. The safety talks were well presented and I looked forward to the work. We were kept busy during the days on site, but there were breaks and we were able to rest when needed. I learnt how to point; how to use a wacker plate; how to drive a digger and also pulled up lots of Himalayan balsam as well as a lot of pruning. It was also interesting talking to the archaeologists and seeing the barges that had been uncovered, as well as all the items that Hector and Sean uncovered down the crane well. George was our local volunteer and very informative and helpful, he was there on site most days. After work we went to the local swimming pool for a shower before heading back to the scout hut. After a scrumptious meal by George there were social activities which were optional, but most participated. We did laser quest one evening (some very competitive people participated) and I was on the losing team but it was still fun;
we had a drive in movie at the scout hut (this was great as we sat in the WRG vans and watched Ice Age projected on the food marquee); the weather was really hot and sunny all week apart from when we went to Teignmouth beach for the afternoon to play rounders (one of our group was a county champion) but that afternoon there was liquid sunshine! And we went to see fireworks on Paignton beach one evening; I cannot thank everyone enough for a really great time and all the work that volunteers and WRG do is amazing. I have certainly been spreading the word in the W.I. and with friends and family and look forward to the next camp. Sue Jones
Repairing the walls at Ventiford Basin
Stover Canal Fact File
Length: 1¾ miles Locks: 5 Date closed: 1937 The Canal Camp project: restoring the basin walls at Ventiford Basin, clearing the remains of a nearby loading crane, uncovering an adjacent section of the unique Haytor Granite Tramway (which met the canal here, and actually had granite ‘rails’!) and resurfacing the towpath.
Why? To preserve what’s left of this unusual industrial heritage site. Dartmoor
Ha yto rG ran ite
Canal Camp site: Ventiford Basin Tra
al an rc ve Sto
mw The wider picture: ay The Stover Canal Trust’s aim is to restore the canal Ventiford and towpath, and preserve the surviving lengths of the tramway, which, together with the canal and the Teign estuary, formed a transport route for granite, th parts of which are all linked together by Newton the Templer Way heritage trail.
Teignmouth Teign estuary
Camp Reports Ashby Canal Ashby Canal 6-13 August Like guilty criminals, we returned to the scene of the crime – the crime in question being the fact that last year we had only one and a half days working at Bridge 41 on the Ashby, due to a scaffolding design dispute. This bridge, like many on the canal, seems to have foundations that are just not up to the job, the seasonal heave resulting in quite serious vertical cracks in the north-east parapet. Our main task was to rebuild this side of the bridge with buttressed construction joints at the two places where the worst cracks develop, and to set new sandstone coping stones atop. In addition, the repointing and patching of brickwork which was started by the last camp was to be finished off. The usual blend of Club 18-70 volunteers foregathered at Bagworth Community Centre, our excellent accommodation for the week - the Leader and his Ass. having first travelled via Brimscombe to load and pick up the vans. The crew included: 5 DofEers, (including the wonderfully-named Montagu Stonehewer); everyone’s favourite repeat offender Katrina Schonhut (sadly, only for a few days); a white-collar builder called Lawrence; and one of the great comedy double acts of our time, Mike and Chris(tine). Mike is slightly hard of hearing, in the same way that the Pope is slightly Catholic, and so Chris acts as his interpreter, repeating things he needs to hear in a sotto voce holler. I believe they came to us from the little-known Yorkshire village of Much Bickering. We also had one of those rare volunteers who have managed to do every conceivable job under the sun and have experience in every field and always know the best way to do everything, without exception. Can’t remember his name – let’s call him PITA. Pasties for dinner from Marco-Pierre Danks on the first night and most did the decent thing and repaired to Bagworth Working Men’s Club for dominoes, cards and beer. If it ain’t broke, don’t Brexit... Early on
A return to the Ashby Canal for some unfinished business from last year restoring Bridge 41 site to meet our excellent CRT contact Andrew Morris and to find that he had arranged for all necessary materials to be ready and waiting for us. In warm sunshine we set about brick cleaning, preparing brick joints for repointing, and demolition of the parapet, most of which had already been done by local CRT voles. (Surely ‘vols’ – Ed.) Meanwhile Leader Bob (Crow) and a select team concentrated on laying foundations for the two sets of construction joint buttresses. The canal beneath us busy with passing narrowboats whose crews shouted encouragement and thanks for our work, the time flew by and by late afternoon a halt was called and we drove for luxurious showers at the nearby marina in Market Bosworth. Back to base for roast chicken and potato followed by bread-and-butter pudding and a homemade quiz, before the obligatory visit to the Club. A vigorous and heated discussion ensued on the subject of Brexit, which did not quite come to blows, the humble writer sequestering himself for safety in a nearby bar. Sorry, what did you say? The next day started with a delicious Egg Mornay prepared by Monty who is a chef in the real world. Early on site once again, the first task was to coax the genny into life – took about half an hour – then mortar production got into full swing again and a start was made on the first courses of brickwork with Lawrence leading the way. More CRT visitors arrived after lunch and I saw one of them chatting to Mike. He later said that she introduced herself as Head of Upstream Parapets (?). Showers, a tearful farewell to Katrina, and delicious fish pie followed by pineapple & strawberries was the order of the evening. Planned cinema visit cancelled due to late running but the discovery of a table-tennis table at the hall made up for it. Working Men’s club once again supported by many, in spite of incredibly smug Leicester City-supporting barman. Beer was drunk; volunteers, in the main, weren’t.
Completely quackers A good day in sunny weather. Site setup now smooth and rapid. Previous day’s pointing knocked back and good progress made on the parapet, buttresses and repair to corners of two abutments. Mike once again got into conversation with a CRT visitor – Enforcement Officer for Duck Lane Violations, apparently. Our splendid Chinese/Italian volunteer Xiaoxia (answers to ‘Sunny’) left early with Martin to go shopping for the evening meal which she had volunteered to cook. They managed to blag loads of things from a Chinese restaurant, including more water chestnuts than you could shake a chopstick at. Excellent meal of duck and all the trimmings, followed by the quirky sport of indoor Bell Shooting at the Club. Team bonding continued.
younger now that he’s out of the political spotlight. Yet another CRT visitor today: Director of Mooring Rings, apparently. Day finished with steak and kidney stew, rhubarb crumble with very refreshing custard, and tenpin bowling at Nuneaton, generously funded by Lawrence.
The name’s Bond, Ashby Bond… Thursday brought cooler cloudy weather with a threat of rain. All tasks continued apace and it soon became clear that we were running short of materials. Leader Bob drove a cohort of the willing to Travis Perkins for a dumpy of the sharp stuff, and Tom Freeland (CRT volunteer co-ordinator) brought more bricks in the back of his little white CRT van. At one point the site looked like a white van festival as more people turned up for a butcher’s. Then two white flatbed trucks arrived with the new sandstone copers and four CRT D’you want a straw with that..? An even workers. Two of these disappeared after better day on site. Mix on immediately and making it clear that they thought unloading six brickies of varying degrees of competence was impossible without machine help, leavset about raising the parapet A large ing the task to the remaining two men and number of passing boaters today, largely six burly vols (not ‘voles’? Ed.) with judicious appreciative, some wishing we were working use of wrecking bars and strops. on more pressing faults on the network. One Emergency repair to bricksaw pullcord reported a tree down which news we duly did not delay excellent progress, and, with passed on to the CRT emergency number. Lawrence and Peio leading the way, almost Visited by Adrian Sturgess today, and the whole length of parapet completed up to by Gordon Brown who was en route to the coping stone level by close of play. The opening ceremony for bridge 62 (see camp difficulty in supervising so many newbie report in Navvies 273). He looks so much brickies became obvious with some interest-
Ashby Canal Fact File
Restored Moira to Donisthorpe Under restoration Snarestone to Measham
Length: 31 miles, 9 under restoration Locks: none originally Date closed: 1944-66 The Canal Camp project: restoring Bridge 41 near Market Bosworth on the surviving navigable length of navigable canal
Moira Donisthorpe Measham Snarestone Tunnel
Canal Camp site: Bridge 41
Why? Because although it doesn’t carry a road or other right of way and therefore isn’t a priority for the Canal & River Trust’s limited maintenance budget, it is an original historic structure and it would be a shame if it Navigable for 22 were allowed to fall down. And because last year’s plan to restore it at miles from Marston the same time as building the new Bridge 62 (north of Snarestone to Snarestone on the northern reaches currently under restoration) fell foul of logisitical problems, so most work on 2015’s camps was concentrated on Bridge 62. To Fradley Hinckley The wider picture: As well as stopping historic bridges from falling down, our involvement in this type of project aims to pass on our specialist knowledge of working with volunteers on bridge restoration to other volunteer groups including CRT’s own teams.
Ashby Bridge 41 with work under way on the parapets
ing courses emerging on the downsteam face. We seem to have written a new page in the brickies’ handbook – Ashby Bond. Chef bought in a curry takeaway for the evening meal, followed by an interestingly robust rice pudding (one slice, or two?). Not many took seconds which was no bad thing since we needed a lot of backfill on site. Off to the Bricklayers’ Arms at Thornton for a pub quiz, which, as usual, showed the humble writer’s complete ignorance of popular culture, and any music since about 1949. Coping with the stress Hot and sunny (and Sunny) for our last day on site and that frisson of excitement when we realised that if we all got Stuck In, we could Finish The Job. Bob collected more NHL5 lime and sharp sand from TP, the bricksaw never cooled down as the copers were sliced to order, and Matt (DofE avionics engineer) put in an immense shift on the wheelbarrow runs up to the bridge. Excitement mid-morning when the CRT workboat (which provided our ‘facilities’) unhitched itself and sprawled across the cut. It had been moored in the traditional way, tied by a strand of baler twine to the nearest thistle. Good DofE teamwork soon recovered it and re-opened the canal to passing traffic, of which there was a profusion. Hydration an issue in the sultry conditions with frequent
water breaks necessary, and a most welcome delivery of ice creams and lollies from Martin. Just one visitor today: I think Mike said he was the Deputy Convener of the Working Party on Newt Welfare. All work completed by late afternoon, and all assembled on the bridge for a group shot. Chris – I imagine forgetting that she was not addressing Mike – took it upon herself to announce to a passing boat crew that “WE ARE HAVING A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH”. The boaters drifted through, their fixed smiles pale and uncomprehending. Then back to accom for kit check and return for showers. Cauliflower cheese and various fridge residuals on the menu, followed by a berry syllabub. Final speech, presentations, table-tennis and alcohol. Phew! Van will I see you again…? Usual final day clear up, lifts organised and a convoluted journey for the two Bobs which saw one van and trailer left at WRG containers, two cars picked up, and trusty old AZG (née EHP) taken on its last official journey to Bungle’s for defleet (whatever that means). An interesting camp. Highly successful in what it achieved and with an unusual mix of (mostly) motivated hard-working youth and (mostly) somewhat feckless and immature oldies. Is there hope for the future yet (in spite of Brexit)? Bob Coles
Next we head to the borders of Staffordshire and Shropshire (or the Land of Oz, it would appear!) for a week on the Shrewsbury & Newport canals...
Shrewsbury & Newport
The World of Oz at Meretown Lock (Shrewsbury and Newport camp 13-20 August 2016) Are we all sitting comfortably with our cups of tea? This story starts before Dorothy arrives at camp. On Friday night the Wicked Warlock of the West, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Good Witch of the North, the Wizard of Oz and some Flying Monkeys came together at Burton Borough school. The next day the rest of the Flying Monkeys arrived. On Saturday the Cowardly Lion and some of the Munchkins arrived at the school. (except one who entered the wrong postcode and ended up in Oswestry! Oops!) Most went for a site visit to the Castle in the west (Forton) and to the Emerald City (Meretown). Some went and did setting out on both of the sites in the late morning and early afternoon. Sunday Some of the Munchkins went over to Emerald City with The Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and The Wizard of Oz to cut out
and lay down foundations for the yellow brick road (which is red as we are colour blind). Meanwhile at the Warlock’s site (the west side) The Tin Man, some Flying monkeys and Munchkins worked on excavating the canal walls and the bridge walls. Brush cutting took place to find the fences which needed to be taken down. The Scarecrow had to go home for family matters and at the same time Dorothy arrived at the school where she could not get in! After many phone calls she got the code!! At dinner time Dorothy was given a birthday cake which the Good Witch was hiding (this was made by one of the Munchkins’ mum). Contained hidden Smarties!!! It was also Quiz night down at the pub with local volunteer Bernie and quiz master Ann. A good night was had by all! Monday: Dorothy made her way to the Emerald city where they had to wait for materials to arrive from Travis Perkins. While waiting a digger arrived which meant that we could move some of the coping stones. Once
Shrewsbury & Newport Fact File Miles: 25 Locks: 25 Closed: 1944
The Canal Camp project: installing a waterproof lining and repairing towpath walls under a bridge at Forton; footbridge approach ramp and coping stone installation at Meretown Lock.
To Chester A4
Canal Camp site: Meretown Lock
Sh re w sb ur y
Ca na l
Shropshire Union Wappenshall Arm to Autherley Junction port Newport w e N Canal Camp Longdon Why? At Forton a demonstration length site: Forton on Tern including an aqueduct and a A5 Aqueduct skew bridge is Shrewsbury to be rewatered; Telford Berwick Tunnel Former Shropshire tubat Meretown the boat canal network lock is being restored to extend the watered section through Newport. (large parts buried under Telford New The wider picture: The Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust’s Town). No medium term aim is to work towards getting Norbury Junction to Restoration plans exNewport reopened and linked to the national network. cept Blists Hill museum
delivered we had all the ballast and sand we needed. Tragedy!! A hose on the digger broke!! A man came to sort it out and fixed it very quickly so we could carry on. Meanwhile on the west side work carried on, excavating the canal bed under the bridge and brush cutting. On the way back to the school Dorothy whistled for Toto who came back with The Scarecrow later that night. We also got a visit from Sue who could not make it on camp. When we got back The Good Witch of the North with one of the Munchkins had made a lovely roast pork dinner. Tuesday: Dorothy did more waiting for blocks to come which where meant to come at 9am. They came at 11am, meanwhile we moved some of the last coping stones to where they needed to go. It took us 5 trips to take the blocks up to site by which time it was midday time and the Good Witch came with lunch. After lunch we moved blocks and started block laying. Meanwhile on the west side Toto had gone to help the Warlock with the bridge wall. They also started to dig the trenches on top of the canal bank ready for bentonite lining. Dinner was chicken pie made by the lovely Good Witch and her helpful Munchkin. After dinner some of us went out for a walk to find some trousers...
Wednesday: We had a wake-up call of the Muppets theme tune sung by The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow and Toto. Dorothy was helping The Tin Men lay the blocks and bricks on the curve which is not easy to do. The Lion was finishing off lining the coping stones and he started on the curve on the other side. Meanwhile on the west side they were burning brush and started to lay the bentonite waterproof lining material. Two Munchkins made a start on mortaring the bullnose bricks. A hole was dug and tree stumps buried. Profiling of the canal channel continued. Dinner was burgers and salad. In such a rush to get seconds the lion stepped on one of the Flying Monkeysâ€™ tail who then stepped on his tail and dropped a plate. Thursday: This morning the Wicked Warlock walked into breakfast with all of his Flying Monkeys and Munchkins behind him. In the Emerald City all was going well in the curved red brick road and the final bit of installing the coping stones. At lunchtime we had made a seating area and we had music. The Wicked Warlock arrived with a Flying Monkey to have a look at how things were getting on. The Tin Man had left us for the west side and was helping the Warlock finish off putting the bullnose bricks on the
Janet and Carol lay bullnose bricks on the bridge wing walls at Forton
wall. That night we all went out ten pin bowling and a good night was had by all. Friday Last day on site and it is raining but the work carries on. The Tin Man had gone as he was going to a stag do, The Cowardly Lion was going at lunch time too, but we got set up and got going on the curve in the red brick road. We had to start on the incline on the curve which was going to be difficult. Toto and Oz finished off the pointing on the end wells and the back filling. Meanwhile on the other site they were putting the new boundary fence in over the top of the aqueduct. Profiling of the bed continued and was complete up to Lock overflow weir at Meretown the bridge by the end of the day with the spoil heaped ready for use to cover the matting once laid. Jobs that had been started were being finished so that next week Bob and Bob can start their new jobs and finish off the red brick road. After work was done we all went back at the accommodation for a big clean up and kit counting session ready for the next camp with Bob and Bob. Saturday Breakfast was accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s1812 overture with added musical bits from Toto and Oz. Very nice. Afterwards we all packed up ready for home. We all had a fantastic time and I hope to see you all again next year. A BIG THANK YOU to Nigel and Colin for leading a fantastic camp and to Anne and Amanda for fantastic food and keeping us all fed and watered.
Dramatis personae: Dorothy – Tracy Howarth Toto – Nadine Whitcomb The Good Witch of the North - Anne Lilliman The Wicked Warlock of the West – Nigel Lee The Scarecrow – Colin Whitcomb The Tin Man – Mick Lilliman The Cowardly Lion – John Hawkins The Wizard of Oz – Paul Ireson Flying Monkeys or Munchkins - Paul, Linda, Rachel, Joanne, David M, David J, Janet, Carol, Alan, Pete and Amanda Tracy Howarth
The ‘Yellow Brick Road’ bridge ramp at Meretown
Reunion report Two canals...
Until early autumn we didn’t think we were going to have a Reunion working party at all... but then... George Rogers takes up the story..
Two Canals and a Boatload of Beer struggling we’d be welcome back.
Now, we reach a dilemma. Wearing one of my other hats, when the Reunion looked like it was off, I’d agreed an alternative weekend work party for the relevant weekend with WRG NorthWest working at Ironville on the Cromford Canal, continuing some towpath laying that they had started earlier in the year. So my reply to head office was that, yes there was probably enough work at Chesterfield, but to be sure, perhaps they could run a satellite site at Ironville. A great idea, I thought, as Cromford would get what they want (and without needing to find accommodation), Chesterfield would get what they want (stuff burning) and WRG would get what they want (to do the burning and drink). Of course, the problem with having good ideas is that you end up being the one having to follow them through… However, I’ve learnt some lessons from the last two years, and on the day the Reunion was confirmed as going ahead I did the most important things: 1: Confirm that Jude and her amazing team would be happy to tantalise our taste buds most excellently (they were, and they did).
“Two Canals?” I hear you ask. “Why Two Canals?”. (The boatload of beer clearly takes no explaining.) As the summer proceeded swiftly by, we all awaited eagerly for news of which part of the countryside we’d be setting light to this year. I was looking forward to it being a long distance away (having rather unwisely stated after leading the Chesterfield reunion in 2014 that leading these events was fine if they were reasonably close to home). But as the summer was drawing to a close, dark rumours started to circulate that the dark clouds of smoke would, in fact, not be circulating this year – and instead we might have to get together and just socialise. However, the title of this report is ‘Two Canals and a Boatload of Beer’, not ‘A Village Hall and Several Boatloads of Beer’, so clearly that was not the case. At some point in late August I got an email from head office asking whether I thought there was still enough work remaining from the Chesterfield Reunion in 2014, as the canal trust there had been in touch to say that if we were still
The Norwood Tunnel work site, seen from by the tunnel entrance
2: Organise the logistics of getting a t-shirt design in place (i.e. book Julian and get Squidge going with design ideas). Note nothing in this involves planning for the sites – experience says that’s not quite so immediately important! As the weekend approached, the sites do get more important though. I was lucky that enough people had independently (honest) volunteered to lead the sites and I only had to spring the surprise on Nigel Lee at the last minute. All others were suitably warned and willing. I visited a couple of the sites before a (rather awkwardly timed) late October holiday, and all looked good. In the end I had the potential of about six sites on the Chesterfield, of which I chose three, plus the Cromford site. Of these, two were working with the Canal & River Trust (one on the Chesterfield plus the Cromford site) and the other two were on land owned by Derbyshire County Council. Of course, four work sites (all in different directions from the accommodation) and the presence of six WRG vans made the logistical planning interesting, but through many emails, phone conversations, late night planning and a little bit of luck everything ended up in the right place (though as Bungle helpfully pointed out, logistics is really
relatively simple until you start ‘tinkering’ with the kit you want…). On the Friday night I disgorged the inner logistical workings of my mind onto a white board, some very clever people managed to interpret it, and thanks to them everything was loaded onto the right van and ready for site on the Saturday morning (with the exception of one Burco that ‘lost’ its gas bottle in the transfers, but it was safely reunited in time for morning brew). So what happened on the different sites? Site A was at Norwood, at the Eastern Portal of the Norwood Tunnel and at the Western most section of the connected navigable canal. In August, CRT carried out their 10 year inspection inside the tunnel. Since then, everyone has been getting a little excited about the potential for opening up the Eastern Portal and running boat trips into the tunnel – but to do that they’ve decided they’d really like to be able to see the tunnel from the towpath (and it makes it easier to tow the replica ‘Cuckoo’ boat Dawn Rose up to the tunnel portal as well). So the aim here was to clear the towpath bank of all trees, and start work revealing the offside wharf. CRT provided a pontoon to help with work
Chesterfield Canal Fact File
Navigable Miles under restoration: 20 (of which 11 to the Trent
HS2 railw ay
Proposed new Rother Link
Site B: Lowgates
Staveley Restored to Chesterfield
Site A: Norwood Tunnel
already restored) Locks: originally 49, lots of extras! Closed: 1908 (tunnel collapsed)
The Reunion work: tree and scrub clearance at three sites: Norwood Tunnel east end; Lowgates and Renishaw (plus a towpath project on the Cromford Canal) Renishaw
Site C: Renishaw
Why? To allow boats on the navigable length to get right to Norwood Tunnel, and to prepare the other sites for full restoration in the next few years
The wider picture: The Lowgates and Renishaw sites are on the section which has been threatened with obiteration by construction of the HS2 high speed railway line. The good news is that there’s now an alternative plan for the railway which would be avoid the canal almost entirely; but nothing has been finally decided yet. The more effort we can put into restoring the canal, the more we make the case for not allowing the railway to undo all our good work, and the better the prospects for reopening the whole nine mile Norwood to Staveley missing link and bringing boats back to Chesterfield
on the offside, the canal trust brought along their old working boat Python and both were used very effectively to clear a lot of trees. Under the expert leadership of Bex Parr and Squidge Scicluna, lots of stuff was chopped down and burned. Unfortunately, the towpath was a little narrow even for a small controlled bonfire, and so all the material had to be dragged into an adjacent farmer’s field. At least there was room there for a proper fire. The farmer’s field was also the location for the (2!) portaloos that CRT had provided (apparently they thought we’d need a gents and ladies) – although thanks to the lack of a defined track and the worry that he couldn’t use the toilets until he’d unloaded them, the delivery driver wasn’t keen to take them all the way to the site and so they ended up a reasonable walk away from the site right in the middle of the field – it definitely wasn’t a discreet location!
out, it is not at all because your work wasn’t appreciated, it is more simply because I have been to sleep several times since then… First and foremost, to our amazing catering team expertly coordinated by Jude. How so much high quality food can be produced from a temporary kitchen is still a mystery that defies all the education I’ve ever received… Secondly, to all who managed to interpret the logistics plans correctly. Whether that be driving six vans from A to B (via C and D to deposit and collect other items), returning six vans from B to A (via E and F to deposit and collect further items) or moving kit between the vans, you were all awesome. To Digger and Colin, for driving miles and miles around the countryside of Derbyshire to deliver people, lunch, spare kit and me to the work sites – though I think they do it mainly to sit around all day. Thirdly, to all who led sites so expertly. Fourthly, to Squidge and Julian for Site B was at Lowgates, which is due east producing and printing a classic t-shirt (and to Jude for turning the design (literally) into of the current Chesterfield Canal Trust work site at Staveley Town Basin. This should be an even more classic design). the next section that the Trust start digging Fifthly, to those who spoke so eloquently for me at the morning and evening out, so they wanted to finish the clearance started by WRG NW earlier in the year. A briefings (it’s not that I don’t like talking to team under the equally expert leadership of you all honestly, but they were louder). Chris Colborne made short work of that and Sixthly, to all those behind the scenes at the Trust will be able to start soon. all the other organisations involved – the Chesterfield Canal Trust, the Friends of the Cromford Canal, the Canal & River Trust, Site C was at Renishaw, and ended up being the only one of the 2014 work sites WRG & IWA head office and the Killamarsh that was recycled into 2016. The work here Leisure Centre. Seventhly, to the crew of Python for was primarily focused on thinning out the stand of trees that sits between the canal bringing her up the canal (through a LOT of towpath and the adjacent cycle trail so that the locks) to help, and then actually sticking around to do so! canal is more visible, although some canal bed clearance also took place. Nigel Lee was Finally, to all who attended. It was a informed (I think ‘asked’ is possibly pushing it brilliant weekend and, of course, that is only a little) he was leading this site and demonbecause of the fine people who come along strated his equally expert skills in this regard. and make the rest of the work worthwhile. THANK YOU! Site D was the Ironville site on the Cromford Canal. Work here started on the  Unfortunately, this statement still haunts Friday, although a mix up with the plant me. The Reunion location in 2017 has already company meant that the first set of dumpers been decided, and we will return to the Uttoxdelivered had to be returned as the roll-bars eter Canal. That’s about 25 miles from home… couldn’t be lowered to fit under the railway bridge. Darren Shepherd honed his leader Or in some cases, G or H… ship skills for the first time, and proved to be as excellent as the rest (well they seemed to  Though it might also have something to have laid a lot of towpath anyway!). do with the boatload of beer… So, with much brilliant work done, I’d George Roger like to finish with my (now typical) list of thanks. I apologise in advance if I miss you See inside back cover for more pictures ...Ed
Job done: 50 sites for 50 years A Navvies photofeature To mark our magazineâ€™s 50th anniversary, weâ€™ve chosen 50 locks, bridges and other projects completed over those years to picture with work in progress - and then in their restored splendour...
1: Montgomery Canal Aston Lock 1 Tim Lewis
pictured during one of many canal camps there in the 1990s and after the 2003 opening
2: Basingstoke Canal Woodham Lock 3
Many southern canal volunteers spent much of the 1980s on the Basingstoke. Here we see them on the back-breaking job of cutting brickwork bonding holes, in the days before resin anchors
50 years of Navvies magazine 1966-2016 page 25
NWPG Darren Piotrowicz
3: Chesterfield Canal Staveley Town Lock under construction a couple
4: Wey & Arun Canal Loxwood New Lock
of years ago and at the 2016 opening
Another brand new lock, opened in 2009, part of the project to get the canal back under the B2133
5: Droitwich Canals Netherwich Basin As a change from locks, hereâ€™s the new basin in the 1980s when trip boat Sabrina was almost the only boat on the canal, and packed with boats for the 2011 opening
6: Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Springfield Basin The top end of the
waterway was neglected and unusable prior to restoration led by Chelmsford IWA in the early 1990s
7: Rochdale Canal Dale Street Lock In theory
the nine locks through Manchester were â€˜navigableâ€™ but they needed a fair amount of patching to make them usable for a 1971 campaign rally.
8: Erewash Canal Great Northern Basin The Erewash Canal Preservation Development Association rescued the basin at the top end of the canal from dereliction, reopened it to navigation, and have used it as their base ever since.
9: Peak Forest Canal Marple Locks
Seen in 1969, during the campaign to save the Cheshire Ring
10: Huddersfield Canal Diggle By the
was WRGâ€™s major site for 2001, but the clearance work began much earlier as seen in our 1980s photo
late 1980s HCS and WRG volunteers had moved on from Uppermill to Diggle
11: Droitwich Canals Hanbury Locks This
12: Wey & Arun Canal Brewhurst Lock A decade ago the top of the lock was being rebuilt to allow the lowering of a length of canal to get under the B2133, leaving a curious structure, higher at the bottom than the top
13: Droitwich Canals Ladywood Locks Where restoration began in the 1970s, but our photo was taken in the 1990s as the Dig Deep initiative was getting work going again after a slow period
14: Chesterfield Canal Tapton Lock 1 After years of bashing their heads on
a brick wall trying in vain to get British Waterways to give them permission to restore the locks up to Norwood Tunnel, Chesterfield Canal Trust hit on the idea of starting at the far end, on the non-BW length, beginning with Lock 1 at Tapton...
15: Chesterfield Canal Wheeldon Mill Lock 2 Lock 1 was followed by Lock 2...
16: Chesterfield Canal Hollingwood Lock 5 ...then 3, 4 and 5
17: Rochdale and Ashton canals Ducie Street our picture of clearance under the junction bridge during the Cheshire Ring campaign contrasts with the modern office blocks of today
18: Montgomery Canal Welshpool at launch of the restoration in 1969 and at the 40th anniversary event
19: Stourbridge Canal 16 Locks By 1966 relations with BW had improved since the 1962 ‘Battle of Stourbridge Cut’ and reopening was on the way
20: Forth & Clyde Canal Glasgow a rare WRG foray north of the border in the 1970s. Maryhill locks’ surroundings have got a little more salubrious since then...
21: Cotswold Canals Griffin Mill Lock A recent one: the lock is pictured under restoration just two years ago, and a year later complete with gates
ering working boat Joel from the burned out canal warehouse, later rebuilt and now housing Portland Basin Museum
22: Ashton Canal Portland Basin Recov-
23: Huddersfield Canal Dungebooth Lock 22W First lock chamber to be cleared and restored on the canal in the early 1980s, and yes, that’s the current WRG Chairman in the picture. By way of a change, the rather wintry ‘now’ picture shows a recent stoppage for gate replacement, carried out by CRT staff working alongside volunteers digging holes to fix leaks from the paddle culvert
24: Monmouthshire Canal Tycoch Locks Main volunteer focus on the canal in recent years has been the project to restore eight locks south of Cwmbran, pictured in 2014 and with the first boat in summer 2016
26: Droitwich Canals Barge Lock Pretty much the last volunteer job on the 30+ year Droitwich restoration was the Barge Lock in 2008, ready for the 2011 reopening
25: Herefo Canal Over
canalâ€™s entra was the big p achieved in t deadlines and
27: Montgomery Canal Aston Nature Re
the offline nature reserve to create an alterna
clearance towards Lock 23 in the early days
28: Huddersfield Canal Uppermill Initial towpath
ordshire & Gloucestershire r Basin Re-creating the
nce basin from the Severn project for 1999-2000, the face of tight d bad conditions
29: Wey & Arun Compasses Bridge The latest achievement on the canal, opened in 2016
eserve A big WRG project for the early 1990s was building the series of ponds that form
ative habitat which would allow the Montgomery Canal at Aston Locks to be reopened
canal / tramway interchange basin complex viewed from the entrance channel in 1983, before the channel was dug out and the two bridges were rebuilt.
31: Basingstoke Canal Deepcut Locks Volunteers from regional group WRG Cosmo at work on the flight of 14 locks in the early 1980s
30: Peak Forest Canal Bugsworth Basin Our picture shows the great
32: Monmouthshire Canal Fourteen Locks Restoration of the top lock, which led to a Lottery grant to restore four more
33: Huddersfield Canal Locks 25W and 26W Locks on the Huddersfield generally werenâ€™t just derelict, theyâ€™d been infilled, capped, or (as here) cascaded
34: Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Over Basin extension
15 years after the original Over Basin project, voluteers returned to re-create the next length of canal
35: Lichfield Canal Tamworth Road The length below Tamworth Road Locks, including the start of a diversion which will eventually get the canal under the A51 and A38, is seen before removal of the storm drain laid down the bed, and recently when heavy rain gave it a unplanned re-watering
36: Rochdale Canal Chorlton Street Lock Chamber clearance of some of the nine locks in central Manchester involved craning in a Smalley excavator
37: Droitwich Canal Salwarpe Bridge bridge hole clearance showing
the legendary monorail in actual use
38: Cotswold Canals Summit Level Bridge just west of Sapperton Tunnel
39: Wilts & Berks Canal Chaddington Lock A Dig Deep project in the early 200s, NWPG are seen here working on the rebuild
41: Basingstoke Canal St Johnâ€™s Locks regular early 1980s worksite (and scene of the editorâ€™s first WRG weekend)
40: Wendover Arm Phase 1 Complex channel lining under way and being reopened by David Suchet
42: Uttoxeter Canal Froghall Basin before clearance and at the 2005 opening
43: Kennet & Avon Canal Devizes A rare volunteer job in the latter days of the K&A restoration was building the 29 lock tail bridges for the Caen Hill locks flight at Devizes
44: Montomery Canal Frankton Locks Group photo of the WRG volunteers at Lock 3 in 1979
45: Well Creek Whatâ€™s now the main route across the Middle Level was impassible for some years from the late 1960s. Volunteers at Fenatic 4 are seen clearing it
46: Wey & Arun Canal Haybarn Bridge A Dig Deep project towards the south end of the canal in Sussex
47: Montgomery Canal Aston Lock 3
Early days at the bottom lock of the flight
48: Uttoxeter Canal Froghall Lock Repointing, and celebrating the reopening
the point where the Peak Forest and Ashton canals meet, this was an significant location on the Cheshire Ring campaign. Itâ€™s pictured at a significant moment in the campaign: the Ashtac big dig in 1972 which kickstarted the restoration work
49: Ashton Canal Dukinfield Junction As
50: Ashby Canal Bridge 62
Coming right back to the present for our final picture, the brick-cleaning team is seen in action in 2015 with the special Measham Gob bricks being used to rebuild the bridge, which is shown being officially opened, adding a new length to the national navigable network in 2016
WRG BC News November 2016 It is a freezing cold day with bitter winds as I write, so I’m quite pleased not to be boating about today! This, I suppose, is further evidence of my old age and decrepitude. Still whatever the weather I shall be off again twice before the end of the month, just a few days on each occasion but enough for a boating ‘fix’! I think it would be a good plan to form a ‘group’ on Facebook for us to tell each other of our activities, including boating, restoration work of all kinds, fund raising activities etc etc. I will attempt to chat up someone who understands such stuff. Although I am on Facebook I don’t understand how to do much, things just appear on my mobile and sometimes I try to respond. All this puts me in mind of our new Club Officer Chris Morgan (no prizes for guessing who I’m going to ask about Facebook). Chris has been boating since 1993 and they are now on their fourth boat Bogwoppit which, when the family aren’t boating, is moored at Hawne Basin on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. As Chris lives in Caerphilly they first moored on the Mon and Brec but moved to the BCN in 2011. He was very actively involved in reopening of the top lock of the Fourteen Locks on the Mon and Brec. When he was chairman of the Canal Trust, they persuaded the City Council to allow the trust and WRG to do the work. This proved to the Council’s Engineers that volunteers can do a great job. WRG involvement has continued, and increased, in that area on the Lock 21 project as it came to be known. There is no doubt he, and the rest of us, will be following progress on the restoration of the Dudley No 2 Canal. This work involves both ends and there are exciting plans by Coombeswood Canal Trust to extend the arm at Hawne Basin. There are also plans for the Selly Oak end involving the Lapal Canal Trust and WRG. Then there’s the BCN clean ups, but of course you know about them. Like most of us (you I’m retired) Chris does find that his work (as an Aircraft Engineer for General Electric) tends On the to get in the way of boating!
WRG BC Our own boat club HAVE YOU RECEIVED YOUR LATEST MEMBERSHIP CARD YET? If not, then I have the wrong address for you. Please let me know! If you have never received an email from me, but you have an email address, I may not have it or the one I do have is incorrect. My email address will appear at the bottom of the blurb so please contact me. Do you fly the club burgee? A bargain at £10 and they are available from Lynne. Do you display club stickers on both sides of your boat? These are available from me and cost only £1.50, please specify if you want them to stick on the inside of a window or outside Now – open your new diary, turn to August Bank Holiday weekend and fill in WRG BC AGM. This is the first reminder, there will be others but I want you to put this as a priority so there will be no excuses such as having another event that weekend, WRG BC got in first. It’s at the IWA Festival of Water on the Erewash Canal, by the way. We, your club officers, wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable Festive season and HAPPY BOATING IN 2017. xxx Sadie Heritage 01733 204505 or 07748186867 email@example.com
Erewash: see you there for the 2017 AGM
Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201635 Dec 26-Jan 1 wrgBITM Jan 1 Navvies Jan 6-13 WAT Jan 7/8 wrgFT Jan 7/8 wrgNW Jan 14/15 NWPG Jan 21/22 London WRG Jan 21/22 wrgBITM Jan 21 Sat wrgNW Jan 22 Sun WRG Feb 3-10 WAT Feb 4/5 wrgNW Feb 11/12 London WRG Feb 11-18 CC 201701 Feb 17/18/19 wrgFT Feb 18/19 wrgBITM Feb 25/26 NWPG Feb 25 Sat wrgNW Mar 3-10 WAT Mar 4/5 London WRG Mar 4/5 wrgNW Mar 11/12 wrgFT Mar 18/19 wrgBITM Mar 19 Sun WRG Mar 31-Apr 6 WAT Apr 1/2 London WRG Apr 1/2 NWPG Apr 1 Sat wrgNW Apr 1/2 BCN2017 Apr 8/9 wrgBITM Apr 8/9 wrgNW Apr 8-15 CC 201702 Apr 15-22 CC 201703 Apr 15-22 CC 201704 Apr 22/23 London WRG Apr 29-May 1NWPG May 5-11 WAT
Cotswold Canals: Vegetation clearance. Cost: £63 Wilts & Berks Canal: Christmas Camp at Dauntsey. Veg clearance with Press date for issue 281 (including WRG / canal societies directory) Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu, Veg clearing on Fri Cotswold Canals To be arranged: Provisional date Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Thames & Medway Canal: Stump pulling ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Committee & Board Meetings: TBC Rowington Village Hall Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu, Veg clearing on Fri To be arranged: Provisional date Wey & Arun Canal: to be confirmed Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation North Oxford Canal: Hillmorton (3-day) To be arranged Cotswold Canals: Stroud Phase 1A or Phase 1B ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu, Veg clearing on Fri Thames & Medway Canal: to be confirmed To be arranged: Provisional date Wey & Arun Canal North Oxford Canal: Morton Basin, Hillmorton Committee & Board Meetings: TBC Rowington Village Hall, Barn Dance Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu BCN Clean Up Cotswold Canals: Stroud Phase 1A or Phase 1B ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection BCN Cleanup Wey & Arun Canal To be arranged: Provisional date Cotswold Canals: Weymoor Bridge Cotswold Canals: Weymoor Bridge Grantham Canal Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: to be confirmed Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list please contact diary
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ70 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201701' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, firstname.lastname@example.org. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, email@example.com bonfires
01494-783453 07816-175454 07779-478629 01442-874536
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Malcolm Bridge Bill Nicholson Tim Lewis Dave Wedd Barry McGuinness Mike Palmer Roger Leishman Malcolm Bridge Tim Lewis
01422-820693 01844-343369 07802-518094 07816-175454 0161-681-7237 01564-785293 01442-874536 01422-820693 07802-518094 01494-783453
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Dave Wedd Bill Nicholson Barry McGuinness Roger Leishman Tim Lewis Malcolm Bridge
07816-175454 01844-343369 0161-681-7237 01442-874536 07802-518094 01422-820693
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Dave Wedd Mike Palmer Roger Leishman Tim Lewis Bill Nicholson Barry McGuinness
07816-175454 01564-785293 01442-874536 07802-518094 01844-343369 0161-681-7237 01494-783453 07816-175454 01422-820693 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07802-518094 01844-343369 01442-874536
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Wedd Martin Ludgate Roger Leishman
Dave Wedd Malcolm Bridge
Tim Lewis Bill Nicholson Roger Leishman
compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
canal society regulars
Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties Every Sunday if required Every Tuesday
Bugsworth Basin Basingstoke Canal
Ian Edgar Chris Healy
0161-427 7402 01252-370073
Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS
BCN waterways Basingstoke Canal
Mike Rolfe Duncan Paine
Thursdays Sep-Apr 2nd Sun & alternate Thu
Aqueduct section Buckingham area
Tim Dingle Athina Beckett
Every Mon and Wed Every mon am Thu pm
Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby Cotswold (E end) John Maxted
Various dates Every Sunday
Cotswold Phase 1a Chesterfield Canal
Every Tue and Thu Every Tue & Wed
Chichester Canal Malcolm Maddison 01243-775201 Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale 01376-334896
Every Friday Second Sun of month
Langley Mill John Baylis Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech
Thu and last Sat of month GCS Tuesdays H&GCT Weekends H&GCT
Grantham Canal Oxenhall Over Wharf House
Ian Wakefield Brian Fox Maggie Jones
0115-989-2128 01432 358628 01452 618010
Over / Vineyard Hill Herefordshire
Ted Beagles Wilf Jones
01452 522648 01452 413888
Every weekday 2nd Sunday of month
Bradford on Avon Derrick Hunt Lancaster N. Reaches 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
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
Dec 3/4 Dec 3 Sat Dec 7 Wed Every Wed Dec 10 Sat Dec 11 Sun Dec 11 Sun Dec 13 Tue Dec 14 Wed Dec 17 Sat Dec 20 Tue Dec 20 Tue Dec 22 Thu Dec 27 Tue Dec 31 Sat Every Wed Jan 7 Sat Jan 8 Sun Jan 8 Sun Jan 11 Wed Jan 11 Wed Jan 12 Thu Jan 14 Sat Jan 17 Tue Jan 17 Tue Jan 19 Thu Jan 21 Sat Jan 24 Tue Jan 24 Tue
IWA Chelmsford Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Scrub bashing, with Essex WRG IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA BBCW Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm IWA Peterboro’ Horseways Channel: Clearing north bank near Chatteris 9:30am IWA Manchester Venue To be confirmed: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking IWA NSSC Macclesfield Canal: Congleton Station project. Veg clearance. 10amIWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10amRGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking IWA BBCW Staffs & Worcs Canal: Painting, tidying & veg clearance IWA Peterboro’ Horseways Channel: Clearing north bank near Chatteris 9:30am IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amIWA Manchester Venue to be confirmed: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm
IWA branch abbreviations BBCW = Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire; Other abbreviations: BPT = Burslem Port trust; CUCT = Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Society; CRT = Canal & River Trust
Mobile groups' socials:
The following groups hold regular social gatherings
London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig at the '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
John Gale Steve Wood David Struckett Martin Bird Martin Bird Chris or Steve Hayes Geoff Wood Colin Garnham-Edge David Venn 10am-4pm
Colin Garnham-Edge Geoff Wood Bob Luscombe Steve Wood Mike Carter Martin Bird Steve Wood Chris or Steve Hayes Geoff Wood David Struckett David Venn Robert Frost Martin Bird Colin Garnham-Edge Geoff Wood John Brighouse Colin Garnham-Edge Steve Wood
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Contact Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Contact Phil Dray 07956-185305
Progress Buckingham Arm Grand Union Buckingham Arm
Our regular roundup of progress on canal restoration around the country begins this time with the Buckingham Arm... site. This is scheduled for the coming week as I write this and is a momentous moment for the Society despite the ongoing challenges we have faced over the past 9 months (some would say 24 years!!) in getting this stage started. We also await news of a grant application for the materials for the rebuild. Elsewhere along the route, recent changes in landownership have yielded positive conversation with board presentation being written, presentations to parish councils in the diary, and good access being afforded where challenges previously prevailed. With a lot of local interest and a successfully annual festival held again this year, itâ€™s been a great year strategically and we are looking for 2017 to be a great year in grant and practical outcomes. Terry Cavender Executive Officer and Trustee
The Buckingham Canal Society continue to progress. At the Buckingham end, the restored Bourton Meadow section has flourished over the summer and has recently had some maintenance effort clearing marginal plant growth and tidying the site for winter. This has included hedge trimming and weed removal. Water levels have been good throughout the summer and abstraction/flood defence consent approvals are in place to allow a permanent top up solar powered borehole pump to be installed over the coming winter. At the Hyde Lane Nature reserve site (midway along the canal), a grant from WREN has enabled towpath edging to be undertaken which will now be in back filled with soil and wild flower enriched grass planting. This was the preferred path surface instead of stone by the landlord (BBOWT, the Berks Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust) in order for us to proceed to bund each end and rewater. The basic bunds are now in place with some finishing touches over the winter/spring ready to fill with water during 2017. This will be augmented by a further solar pump, assuming the one at Buckingham is successful. At Little Hill Farm a little further east, the site has had its biannual strim and trim. This is ready for bunding and filling and awaits funding for the pump and successful outcome of The Buckingham Abstraction Installation in order to proceed Meanwhile at Cosgrove, at the east end of the canal, we are now â€˜green and cleanâ€™ from a paperwork perspective including Temporary Works Coordinator and Temporary Works Supervisors within the latest H&S CDM interpretations. So we can now process with the delayed The Bourton Meadow length looking good, complete with Marigolds excavation of the former Bridge 1
Next we head off up to the north west, where the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society have been uncovering Prestolee Locks
Progress Manchester Bolton & Bury
Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal On this page are a couple of pictures rom the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Societyâ€™s Big Dig 2 which took place over 9 days in September at Nob End, Prestolee, where the Bolton and Bury arms of the canal meet at the head of Prestolee Locks. The work was funded entirely by the MBBCS. We aimed to continue excavating Prestolee Locks, mainly digging out the lower three-rise staircase which we knew had been robbed of stone in 1956. The first thing we found was the stone top cill for the top lock in the staircase, suggesting that the bottom of each chamber is still intact [pictured right]. The same cannot be said for the lock walls: the right hand side has been almost totally robbed, except for half of the lowest lock [pictured below]. About half the left hand wall remains, however. This is all in total contrast to the largely intact upper staircase. Paul Hindle www.mbbcs.org.uk
Progress Stover Canal
Next, we head down to the south west, where the Stover Canal Trust is working at Graving Dock Lock and Ventiford Basin Stover Canal
Restoration work has continued at Graving Dock Lock, funded by the grant received from the Tesco “Bags of Help” scheme earlier this year. We have contracted a large machine to dredge the silt from the bottom of the lock and to remove some large tree roots from the area of the overflow weir. Castleford Engineering is a local firm from Liverton which specialises in water based civils work and helped last year with the reconstruction of the lock walls. Local mason Davin Foster from Bishopsteignton trades as the Rural Craftsman and was also on hand to lend his experience in rebuilding the weir. Davin oversaw the reinstatement of the lock walls last year and regrouted the bed of the graving dock earlier this year. Project Manager and Trustee Paul Taper said: “We are again fortunate to have the assistance and support Graving Dock Lock in 2016 and (below) the same lock in 2013 from local firms in our restoration work at Graving Dock Lock. The knowledge and experience of Steve Rule from Castleford Engineering and heritage mason Davin Foster is invaluable in our efforts to restore the lock and surrounding area to it’s ‘as built’ specification. The change in appearance of the whole Graving Dock area which has been achieved by all concerned over the last eighteen months is simply amazing.” Some detailed work remains to be carried out on the boiler structure beside the lock and to the pedestrian access from the Stover Trail which runs alongside the canal. Over the winter, the Trust will be finalising plans for the terminus of the canal at Ventiford Basin. This will involve the rewatering of a short length of the basin which, along with the exposure of the granite tramway tracks, will give a good impression of how the feature looked in its heyday. For more on the Stover, see camp report on page 14 ...Ed
Wey & Arun Canal With one major project officially opened and not far from completion, WACT is looking to the next job for its band of volunteers and visiting groups. After Dame Penelope Keith cut a red ribbon across Compasses Bridge at Alfold during the Wey & Arun’s bicentenary celebrations weekend, project engineer Tony Ford revealed that another crossing on the Summit Level could be next on the list. Dame Penelope opened Compasses, at one of the entrances to the Dunsfold Park aerodrome and business complex, in her capacity as Patron of the Surrey Hills. Around 250 people gathered to see her launch the Trust’s biggest navigation restoration yet in the county. In his speech, Tony told the crowd that the replacement of the causeway across the canal at Tickner’s Heath, one kilometre south, with a bridge similar to Compasses was in the early stages of planning. This would enable the waterway to be extended into Sidney Wood on to the southern end of the Summit Level. To get as much of Compasses as possible finished for the opening ceremony, volunteers stepped up the pace of work throughout September. At the beginning of the month a joint force of 20 volunteers from KESCRG and LWRG completed the task of filling and compacting the cells of the training wall structure with type 1 limestone. Bricklaying on the Three Compasses pub side of the bridge got under way as well as yet more blockwork. On the south side, the reinforced concrete training wall was successfully poured and extended. This, in addition to the brick facing on the bridge, became the focus of efforts for the rest of the month, to make it possible to flood the canal for the opening ceremony. On the 16th of the month NWPG put on a four-day working party well supported by local Northern team volunteers, with between 12 and 20 on site each day. Work focused on the brickwork, drainage connections, importing clay back from the burn-site and steel fixing connected with the wall extension. The south side brickwork was substantially completed, as was about three quarters of the brick coping for the training wall on that side. Much other work was done including backfilling the mobile home park retaining wall. The north side facing brickwork was finished, the south coping was completed,
Progress Wey & Arun Canal more bollards were installed and landscaping carried out in time for the opening. To help with the wall extension, a team of around 20 engineers from WSP & Parsons Brinckerhoff, led by Rob Nicholson (who works for WSP) arrived for a team-building day on 23 September, when they got well stuck into a range of tasks. Regular working parties at Compasses will revert to the third Saturday of each month supported by visiting group weekends – the next being another joint KESCRG/ LWRG visit on 3 December Down at Gennets Bridge Lock, the volunteers now have a brand new welfare cabin connected to mains water and electricity; site manager Eric Walker comments: “We have never had such luxury.” One recent milestone reached at the lock was the lowering of the centring – temporary supports – on the new bridleway bridge, after a 28-day concrete curing period. And the concrete held firm when the supports were removed. The Canal Trust’s Thursday & Sunday Group is planning the work required to finish the lock shell, with brickwork lining to be completed and training walls to be back-filled with concrete.
Dame Penelope cuts the tape at Compasses Bridge
offered a limited sleeping space but the hall was clean and modern and the kitchen facilities were very good. We headed to the Corbett Arms, a pub that bafflingly described itself as a ‘modest family pub’ online but turned out to be a huge affair recently given a million pound refurbishment. Although Uffington is just a tiny village, the massive pub was completely packed with people. It was all quite strange London WRG on the S&N to WRG, as we’re used to having country London WRG now have a regular habit of pubs more or less to ourselves. heading to Shropshire in October. We’re After making some magnificent invariably lucky with the weather and get a progress on Saturday, we tarried to site on great turnout for these weekends. We’ve Sunday as it was pouring with rain. “It’ll clear developed a good working relationship with up later” I told them, and they refused to the local trust and as we regularly get a high believe it. The minute we left the accomm turnout this time of the year it means we’re we saw the sun come out and it was another able to really blast through the work for them. sunny day on site. We had a smaller number This year we were at a new site, of volunteers on site on the Sunday but still Sundorne on the edge of Shrewsbury, and in managed to get a lot of logs off site and new accommodation too. The work was clear a lot of vegetation. We were also very scrub bashing along a long section of towwell supplied with cake as a number of peopath and bringing down several mature ple contributed some baking to our weekend. trees. On this occasion we were matched in Emma even turned up with some produce numbers by local volunteers – something from her garden, and one of the locals I’ve never seen before on any project. We heated some jacket potatoes in the bonfire planned ahead to arrange a co-ordinated which made a very tasty treat on site. approach to the on-site safety. I emailed the Both WRG and the locals decided that locals a link to watch the new WRG safety the weekend had been so successful it was video ahead of time and arranged for there worth repeating. Within an hour of having to be a safety talk to everyone on site at that conversation with the local trust, the kickoff on the first morning. This worked Trust’s Chair Bernie had already booked the successfully and I think the locals appreciated accommodation for us on 21-22 January. our regimented approach to taking tea breaks! This is a terrific local trust and it’s always an We hadn’t been working long before enjoyable visit, so do come and join us in Paul Ireson felt an alarming twang in his arm the new year. that stopped him tirforing for the rest of the Sophie Smith weekend. We ruled out a hospital visit but sent him off to a nearby Morrisons for some frozen peas to put on it. By the end of the weekend it wasn’t looking too bad. Generally there was a lot of local support for what we were trying achieve on the site. It’s a well-used path and there’s curiosity about the project’s long-term aims. But one local resident became rather alarmed when we dropped a tree behind her house, so we relocated some of the work areas to minimize any disturbance that was ruining the neighbours’ weekends. After a day’s hard work in glorious sunshine we headed back to Chainsaw Ian cuts down a big one Uffington village hall. This may have
...head for Shropshire
a wood chipper, trees to be felled and overhanging branches to be lopped. I got my extending pole stuck in a tight crack but happily, Alan ‘useful’ Lines had a length of rope for such occasions and after some effort my tool was free again. Burcos boiled and there was a huge choice of cakes to scoff at break time... as well as all the usual healthy options. By the It’s been some time since I did anything end of Sunday we’d transformed what to WRG that’s not behind the scenes scurrying... many visitors might be just an overgrown but I’d just like to say how fantastic the ditch, into a purposeful looking channel, it’s recent dig at Blist’s Hill was. banks now devoid of leaning trees, many of It’s a length of canal which is unlikely to which had been a safety concern. We ever be connected to the rest of the network amassed a large pile of logs which will in and unlikely ever to see leisure craft or comtime be put to good use in the various firemercial traffic, but it’s still important: when places of the Museum... and some logs went restored it will form part of the attraction at the home with those people who’d worked hard Blists Hill Victorian Town. I’m told that there to cut them. are plans to have demonstration tub boats The unexpected treat of lunchtime food running along it at some point in the future provided ‘in house’ by the Museum was and one can only wonder at the possibilities certainly a bonus - many of us succumbed to presented by the adjacent inclined plane. the temptation of traditional fish & chips I must admit to having initial doubts made with beef dripping from the Victorian about the accommodation, but the YHA chip shop whilst others wandered amongst hostel at Ironbridge in a converted historic the streets of the museum, wondering if we’d industrial building was superb. Add in a get away with sneaking into the pub as choice of nearby pubs in this fascinating area music gently drifted out from the building. and I quickly forgot how badly I’d got lost on All in all, an enjoyable but also highly the way there. productive weekend in a lovely setting. I’ll be The work was much like a small Bonfire putting my name down should we be invited Bash... a soggy length of canal with varying back. Thanks to those who organised this depths of putrid goo which bubbled evil dig, and also to the staff of Blist’s Hill who smelling gases when walked through. And made my weekend off work so enjoyable. lots of jungle bashing. There were fires and Phil Scott
London WRG returned to Shropshire in November for a joint weekend with WRG Forestry clearing the short surviving length of the (fascinating but largely obliterated under Telford New Town) Shropshire Tub Boat Canal, which forms part of the Blists Hill museum site near Ironbridge. Over to ‘Welsh Phil’ for this write-up...
Plane-spotting: volunteers check out the remains of the Hay Inclined Plane
week – he was a little wrong! The site was divided into three main areas; near Bridge 70 (the work carried out on the bridge by WRG during the summer is much appreciated by the local folks); some large Sycamores by the exit part of Crumpwood Weir crossing; and a dry length of canal from, and including Carringtons Lock towards the River Churnet. Because of the confines of the area by Uttoxeter Canal Forestry Camp the bridge and the weir the trees had to have This could be the shortest Camp report ever all their main branches cut off first, which left by me saying “We came, we ‘sawed’, we just the main trunk standing. This was then went”. But no, that’s too easy! felled in one or two stages. Many of the The van moves for the Camp had been trees along the canal bed and those in the sorted some weeks before, and to start with lock had to be dropped with the aid of the that all went ok – all equipment to the cricket Tirfor winch to ensure that they came down pavilion at Oakamoor which was to be our in the correct direction, many of which had accommodation for the week. Friday become very tangled and leaning the ‘wrong evening we drove a few miles to Cheadle to way’ over their years of growth. find a chippy, but on starting AZG, the battery During the week three people were warning light wouldn’t go being instructed in the out. After a long talk with safe use of chainsaws and the breakdown company then assessed, all three and answering many rather achieving the required strange questions they status. Clive was also informed us that this van reassessed for felling wasn’t logged with them; large trees. this turned out to be a Midweek we had fault with their computer booked to tour a certain system. The next mornlocal factory that makes ing Alison and Rupert large yellow earth moving (thanks for info) sorted equipment and whose some phone numbers for factory is built on the line of local garages. We opted the canal and also has one for the one that they had lock buried under one of its used near Rudyard Lake. workshops. A very interVery good service by the esting visit, with the JCB company by fitting a new shop at the end of the tour. alternator (what a differA very good week’s ence between their hourly work with the expected rate and my local ganumber of trees to be rage!). Such a pity that dropped more then superthis van is coming out of seded – I think the figure the fleet very soon, but was over 150!! All cut to that’s the way things go... chainsaw length and However back to the stacked. I understand that reason we were all here, they all disappeared over there were lots of trees to a few days; the ‘log fairies’ be felled by the Uttoxeter must have been very busy. Canal. Steve Wood, from Thanks as ever to the Caldon & Uttoxeter Mitch and Elaine for the Canals trust had got all lunchtime soup and bites the permissions etc and the evening meal, cleared, and had estialso to the early morning mated that we would drop breakfast crew. Branches first, then the main trunk... John ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins about 105 trees over the
Autumn camps Forestry on the Uttoxter
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation This Canal Camp Report was written by our ‘gang of six’ (our six DofE participants) and was (obviously!) not a way for myself and Helen to avoid doing it. The work on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation was varied in nature ranging from scrub bashing to towpath restoration and even dead hedging. A successful week in my opinion based on the lack of casualties… for the exception of minibus RFB. Our camp had 14 on it with a few coming and going through the week. In no particular order on our camp we had: Alex Melson (Leader), Helen Dobbie (Assistant Leader/Purple Dragon), Daddy Cool (MUP), David Wild, Matt Baines, Alan Wiffen, Chrissie Dixon, Elizabeth Dean Daniel Porter, Mark Seville, Huseyin Kaya, Hayden Plumb, Henry Redington and Theo France. Adrian Crow also joined us on the Friday. Saturday: The usual: kit set up, site visit, meet and greet... blah blah blah Sunday: To start off the day we got up at 7am which was a killer as we got in late from the pub last night (6 hours sleep is not enough!!). We then had a breakfast which was very nice provided by Alex and Matt B. We set off early towards the canal and left around 8:30. We did an equipment check which took a considerable amount of time, but it is important to check equipment to ensure that you’re not under-equipped which would be a disaster. The trailer was in a different car park so we transferred the equipment we needed from the trailers onto the vans. Afterwards, we drove towards the canal and unloaded the equipment. I had to carry the gas canister and the health and safety box which was considerable heavy. I was aided by a wheelbarrow so it reduced the pain, I guess my arms did ache a bit, but as they say no pain no gain! The first half of the afternoon consisted of me removing excess vegetation (bushes, stinging nettles) using various equipment. The second half of the afternoon consisted of chopping down trees using a handsaw. We also fed the cows the leaves off a willow tree next to the public footpath, which was quite funny to see. Both activities were quite challenging, but as the week goes on this should get easier. Furthermore, these activities help you to bond with other people which is an important skill as it makes you become more sociable and friendly. Towards the end of the day we started to pack off and
Autumn camps Chelmer & Blackwater head towards the van. Everyone hopped in and we headed off to the HayBay barge for supper to everyone’s delight. Monday: An early start to the day, waking up in darkness, followed by a delicious fry up which got everyone in the mood for the day ahead of them! When we arrived at Paper Mill around 9 we transported everything we needed for the day and set up camp, under an old oak tree which was around where we were working. In the morning we spilt into groups to complete the following work which include dead hedge building, tree felling and burning the scrub brush. After a short while of work we stopped for a short tea break where Alan decided to tip half his cup of tea down his leg! Maybe he was feeling a bit chilly? Then we continued with the work and soon after
lunch was around the corner and Theo was feelings sleepy and took a nap in the sturdy wheelbarrow (not)! At the end of the working day Alex took us on an interesting journey and showed us all how to drive the van! However we made it to Tescos, where the boys made the most if it to get alcohol :)...followed by a change of driver for the short trip back to Heybridge. Tuesday: On the third day of canal camp, we left our accommodation at 8:30am. Once at the site, we despatched into small groups ready to perform today’s tasks. These tasks consisted of carrying on path laying, dead hedging and brush cutting. As for myself, Hayden, Theo and I started the morning off trying to create bonfire. However the wood from the previous day took a long time to light, as the wood was damp from the night before and the morning dew (typical excuses). Before long it was the first tea break of the day. After this a few of us helped members from Essex Waterways on the dredger barge. Our task was to remove a tree that was covering up half of the canal. Once we had filled the barge up with the willow cuttings, we travelled down the canal to the group of volunteers, who were building the hedge. When we got there we offloaded the cuttings and headed back up the canal. In the afternoon we got a chance to helm the dredge barge. This was so the Essex Waterways staff member could use the claw to lift the roots of the tree, out of the water. Wednesday: We started the 4th day with our regular fry up, cheers Dave, with a lack of the picturesque sun rise the day before
that was replaced with a cloudy, cold start. The dead hedge was finally finished off, which looks amazing may I add, which allowed more bodies to work on the other tasks at hand. The main task of today was working on the towpath with a few people carrying on with scrub bashing and bonfires. Working on the tow path consisted of shoveling, wheel borrowing, raking and Wacker plating recycled tarmac to make a new footpath beside the canal. Theo and Hayden made the most of their fires and toasted marshmallows, they didn’t share unfortunately. The larger logs from all our scrub bashing were used to make a log pile to help support the local wildlife of bugs and other creatures. After lunch, which Theo almost forgot to make, Huseyin and I went to work with Sam and Michael from the IWA whilst the others continued with the tow path and scrub bashing. Unfortunately, the dredger broke down, due to an issue with the gearbox. Wednesday: During the week, the minibus drivers have been critiqued and ranked by a team of backstreet drivers. Today, Daddy Cool lost his first place podium to Alex due to taking a troublesome bump too fast and making the ride very bumpy. On the ride back to the boat we call home, laughter was continuous from Theo and Hayden for reasons that are still unknown. For dinner we got fish and chips, a LOT of chips. Enough to feed all the gulls breakfast tomorrow. The activity was pumpkin carving… no one lost any fingers despite the intricate pumpkin designs. Thursday: In the late hours of Wednes-
day evening Dave defeated Henry in the ultimate arm wrestling battle, albeit helped by Dave’s watch. Next morning was the same as always, a ridiculously early wake up call and a good full English. The day’s work was a mixture of towpath repair and scrub bashing, but I got a go on the excavator for 20 minutes, not too bad. The cinema trip was a successful one as we were chauffeured by Adrian (the best van driver), and Dr. Strange was a good film. All in all an all right day. Mark and Hayden joined Sam on the barge Julie. It was an eventful day for us. First of all the barge didn’t fit in one of the locks. This was because the lock was built badly as it was designed for the Julie to fit inside it. After half an hour of us sulking, Sam realised we could turn the barge around and it would fit in backwards. Shortly before we reached our destination we came across a cow stuck upside down in the mud on the edge of the canal. We couldn’t drive the boat past the cow because we didn’t want to scare it more. Hayden and myself waited whilst Sam tried to contact the farmer. Whilst we waited, two women demanded that we did something. We weren’t sure what we could do so we told them the farmer had been contacted. We got cross with them as they kept on. After an hour the farmer turned up and decided he was hungry so he told us he would sort the cow out after he had had some lunch. Whilst waiting for him to return, the cow rolled over into the naviga-
tion and drowned despite our late attempts to save it. Friday: Our last day!!! We were treated a lie in. Breakfast was at 7.30am, the time breakfast was supposed to be for the first time this week. We followed the normal routine getting the equipment to site. Daddy Cool nearly fell in the navigation whilst trying to get into the boat. Thankfully he was ok. Today’s work consisted of tidying us all loose ends and making sure all work was finished. Shortly after lunch we packed up and took some group photos. We drove back to Hoe Mill to drop off the equipment. We had to check we still had everything and the count an age!!!! Goodbye and THANK YOOOOUUUU Saturday: Everyone buggered off!! Written by Huseyin, Mark, Daniel, Theo, Henry and Hayden. Comment from the leader: I set myself very ambitious targets for my first outing as leader - (1) No one dies and (2) complete the work; both of which came true. Despite a damaged van, the Haybay blackout, the missing keys, the excessive heating, a damaged excavator, WRG van logistics and no camp cook the week went very well. I would like to again thank all of my volunteers for the amazing weeks work completed and especially to Helen Dobbie, Daddy Cool & Dave Wild for all the help in organising, running and feeding the camp. Alex Melson
Autumn camps Grantham Canal Grantham Canal October Camp The editor writes: I suppose I should have found a better time to ask the leaders Mike Palmer and Bex Parr if there was any chance of them providing me with a camp report for Navvies than on the Saturday night party at the Reunion, when drink had already been taken. The resulting ‘report’ was duly scribbled on the white-board: see below.
For those who can’t read it in the picture, it appears to say... Mark is lovely Tea towels are not a good look Many cooks Not many volunteers - but those that were there were amazing Many peters Paper hats Let’s always go places via Hose Peter’s toad in the hole Hanging the monkey Turkey for Xmas Peep hole Cuddling the coleslaw Womble’s pictures of strange animals Squidge’s progress chart Co-op Southern Comfort Co-op Southern Comfort Co-op Southern Comfort Mark is still lovely ***** wants Bex’s body [Name deleted to protect the guilty] Vinnie - just Vinnie really If you’re as baffled as I am by all this, then (a) I’m not surprised and (b) the fact box below and the pic on the back cover might give you some idea what they were up to; otherwise you’ll just have to book for a Grantham camp in 2017 and find out!
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 some 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 To Newark Proposed diversion Nottingham Woolsthorpe stage, locks 12-13. Trent to Restored Locks 12-18 In terms of progressing Shardlow Redmile length 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.
Correction (1) Unfortunately we put an incorrect caption on the picture accompanying the obituary of Tom Henshaw. The man on the boat is Nick Hill; Tom is the one in the middle of the picture.
Our apologies or the error, and our thanks to the readers who pointed it out.
Correction (2) In a much less serious vein, regarding the canal camp report written in Haiku poem form, Chris Deuchar says... I don’t really know anything about these, but I coudn’t help noticing that the Haiku of the Week only has six syllables in the second line, when elsewhere it is said that there should be seven. Is this a Hiccup, not a Haiku? Chris is right. The miscreant will be tracked down, and his or her Poetic Licence will be endorsed with three penalty points. That will be Poetic Justice...
Correction (3) The same eagle-eyed Chris also spotted that the Grantham Canal map omitted to indicate the short restored section at Cotgrave complete with restored locks 6 and 7. Quite right, and we’ve changed the map (see opposite) Seriously, do please point out any errors you spot - we’d much rather put them right than leave them incorrect.
What is a lock? Well, having printed Brian Andrews’ piece last time looking back 30 years to when the Inland Waterways Association had had to come up with an official definition of a waterway, and having finished with a throwaway remark about ‘coming soon: what is a lock’, Brian has only gone and come up with another appropriate piece. It doesn’t actually answer the question ‘What is a lock’, but it does refer to the origins of the pound lock as we know it, and leads on to a canal restoration scheme in northern Italy. We’ll include it next time, along with a couple of other contributions which have had to be held over owing to lack of space in this issue (including two camp reports - don’t worry, we haven’t lost them!)
Navvies News Good news for the Mont And another new one! New canal restoration groups and proposals continue to appear on the scene, with no sign that we’re anywhere near running out of waterways to restore. The latest one is a group looking to save the Heywood Branch from the threat of being buried under a huge new housing estate. “The Heywood Branch?” I hear you ask. Well, it was a short branch of the Rochdale Canal just north of Manchester, and it has to be said what with the M62 motorway cutting through it, this does seem like something of a long shot for reopening. But if what’s left of it’s allowed to be flattened and built on, there will never be any chance. So look on Facebook for the Friends of the Heywood Branch Canal for more info.
Good news (1) The Montgomery Canal has got its Heritage Lottery Fund grant confirmed. This forms the large part of a package worth over £4m which will not only pay to reopen the canal as far as Crickheath (that’s the first actual extension of navigation since the 2003 Aston Locks opening), but also to provide offline nature reserves which will allow future restoration through to the Welsh border. John Dodwell of the Mont partnership reckons if we in the restoration movement get our collective act together, we could have it open to the Welsh border to the same five-year timescale as the Crickheath section, and get through to the 12-mile navigable length through Welshpool in ten! Look out for more WRG camps there in the coming years.
Good news (2) Nothing is definite yet, but it’s looking seriously like the HS2 railway will be diverted and won’t end up trashing the Chesterfield restoration for five miles from Staveley towards Killamarsh after all. Watch this space...
Before his untimely death we did plan to launch a totally T-shirt based organisation – BOWF – ‘Boring Old Waterway Farts’. The logo being roughly based on a then British Waterways’ one; depicting a cloud pouring forth a stream of liquid, accompanied by the wording “All Piss & Wind”. Both a possible description of the wearer and an allusion to the results of a WRG pub session. Like WRG nicknames, these shirts couldn’t be bought We did it!! but could only be bestowed with affection (or THANK YOU to everyone who walked, ran, the opposite) by existing qualifiers. Although raffled, quizzed, bought fudge, pulled boats, ‘Old’ is referred to, it was not to be a prereqwent veggie, danced, dug and donated to the uisite. There were a lot of young ones about. WRG Van Appeal – we did it! Out of the many thousand (or more like After 18 months of hard work we millions nowadays) of T-shirt logos, one have not only reached, but exceeded our snappy one – first seen at our local National target – an amazing total of £121,757, at Memorial Arboretum of all places – has last count, which would never have hapalways particularly amused me. A chap had pened without you. emblazoned on the back of his shirt – “IrriWe are now able to order the final two tating Bystander”. This led me to a little new vans in the next few months (the perfect flight of fancy that we should have a T-shirt WRGie Christmas present) and the full fleet based organisation – IWKA – “Irritating will be in action by summer next year! Waterway Know-All”. This genus can often And just in case we didn’t cover it be seen and heard holding forth and pontifienough, on Page 2 in glorious colour are cating at various meetings and events. In some of our highlights from the last two the opinion of my wife Beryl I will be among years of fundraising. the first to qualify: I suspect, as always, she Sarah Frayne is right! Harry Arnold
Navvies News Appeal success
Even more on T-shirts... In addition to the comments received following the T-shirts article already included on page 4, we’ve received the following from Harry Arnold... Great feature on WRG T-Shirts which brought back many memories. It was suggested that there should be a T-shirt Museum; but where and how would you display them? Apart from a couple of special ones, I’m afraid most of mine went to charity collections, so some deserving refugee – baffled by the British sense of humour - may have been seen wearing them. Although not a generic WRG shirt, I thought some readers may recall one worn by and dedicated to our much missed illustrious founder Graham Palmer [pictured, right]. For those who don’t know, the motto, well-displayed by his ample girth, refers to his depiction in a Mikron Theatre play as ‘Garden Gnome’ (along with other leading restorers such as ‘Super Hutch’). The stance – outside the beer tent at an IWA National – is absolutely typical of course.
A weekend in a French chateau with lashings of champagne, or a chance to work on some interesting arched brickwork? Decisions, decisions...
Infill ...with ‘Dear Deirdre’
Dear Deirdre Head office tell me there’s one camp left without a leadership team, and do I fancy leading it? Frankly I’m a bit suspicious why that one’s not been filled yet by other leaders. Do you think it might have tricky locals or bad accommodation or something like that? I don’t want to sign up for a poisoned chalice. - G Y, Droitwich-super-Mare
Deirdre writes Like a lone coconut chocolate left in the tin of Quality Street, there’s always that one camp left without a leadership team. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, provided coconut’s your thing. It tends to be the case that the last camps to find leadership teams are simply those in the trickiest places to get to. Wales, for example, or Norfolk (‘the Wales of the East’, as I believe Alan Partridge calls it). If you don’t mind travelling to these locations, I’d say go for it. Remember you’ll have to get there for a site visit too though.
Dear Deirdre I’m in a terrible conflict. An old friend that’s done rather well out of life has invited me to spend a weekend at her chateau in France celebrating her 40th birthday. It’ll be a great weekend with lots of champagne. But on the same weekend, there’s a dig planned with a really tasty bit of arched brickwork I fancy having a go at. I’m really torn – which should I choose? - S M, London Deirdre writes I think the important thing to consider is whether there’s anyone else that can handle the brickwork if you aren’t there – arch making is tricky and requires a skilled hand. Think how awful you’d feel if you got back from France to find out they’d bodged it up. Your friend will have other birthdays but you’ll only get one chance to make a really good job of a brick archway. It’s probably best to skip the party on this occasion.
Thank you... ...to Bob Kearney for a quote from BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz, sent in by a listener concerning a sign on the Royal Military Canal at Hythe. Please be aware an electric passenger boat operates in this area. Your tackle is at risk! “I can’t think what they mean”, remarks Bob. ...also to Hamon Stewart who was on the recent London WRG and Forestry joint dig on the canal in the Blists Hill Victorian Town museum, who spotted one of the volunteer staff in full Victorian costume complete with e-cigarette. On pointing out the anachronism, the response was: “It’s not 10 o’clock yet. At Start them young: William Eycott gets trained on the KL15 10 o’clock we go back in time...”
Infill BrokeBurco Mountain, the movie
...just in case you thought we’d run out of new ways to tell remind you to look after Burcos...
BrokeBurco Mountain Last time we brought you the trailer. This time we’re following it up with the full plot synopsis... Simon scraped the last of the mortar off his board and tapped the brick into place. He stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow as he admired the ever increasing lines of rusty red bricks that formed the main chamber of the lock. The welcome call of “BREW’S UP” came across from the welfare unit. BURCO “Cracking timing” Simon thought as TEA he strode across site in his steelies eager to get to the sarnies before all that was left was cheese. Simon pulled off his safety specs and hard hat and settled back into his chair and watched as Sean carefully went over to the shiny, steaming Burco. This piece of equipment that fuelled the camp, that quenched their thirst, needed careful handling and Sean was experienced; he knew how to avoid the scalding steam. Simon gratefully took the piping liquid and as he sipped he admired the view: weary volunteers resting, recuperating and chatting, the machines silent, the sun shining. He was much relieved that WRG Logistics had spent the spring descaling and servicing the fleet of Burcos so that the restorative brown liquid that passed his lips was smooth and hot. “Right you lot, do any of you need new gloves? Back to work” brought Simon out of his trance and the atmosphere became charged with the energy of the workers going back to it. The Burco continued merrily, steam gently billowing from its lid ready to provide the camp with a brew at a moment’s notice. The tracks of the excavator rattled and blew dust as it trundled down site, the mixer rotated with its pleasant slop of mortar within. The water eventually escaped its tin prison of the Burco and the gas jets burned until the pressure was too much, and the whole ensemble exploded into orange flames which danced high taunting the volunteers... Fire brigade dismissed, the incident form filed, the mood in the pub that evening was clouded by the loss of the relationship. Sean sipped his pint, head bent low. “You know, it wouldn’t have taken much, and that Burco would still be here. We took and took and took and all it needed was cold water”. Simon was equally reflective; “If someone had just turned it down from ‘high’, the damage might have been less and it might have made it to Brokeburco Mountain” “Brokeburco Mountain?” “Yeah the store of f**ked burcos in Bungle’s garage ready to be fixed”. With credit to MKP for the term, the Brokeback Mountain film trailer for some stupid words and Mrs Eycott for putting up with the Burcos. Editor’s note: This is, in case you haven’t realised, simply a very long winded way of reminding you all: DON’T LET GAS (OR ELECTRIC) BURCO WATER BOILERS BOIL DRY!
WRG Reunion on the Chesterfield and Cromford canals Working at Norwood Tunnel, Chesterfield Canal (top left, picture by CCT); Ironville, Comford Canal (above left, picture by Ricey); Lowgates, Chesterfield Canal (above right and below, pictures by the editor)
Navvies 280. WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.