Page 1

volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Go East Focus on East Anglian waterways

waterway recovery group

Book now for the

BCN Clean Up Issue No 281 February-March 2017 page 1


New Year Camp

page 2

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

© 2017 WRG

Contents In this issue... From the editor: EA stands for ‘East Anglia’ - and ‘Environment Agency’ too 4-5 Coming soon Clean Up, barn dance, Leader Training, Little Venice, Reunion... 6-9 Go East! Special feature on East Anglian waterway restoration projects 10-15 Camp Reports Christmas on the Cotswold Canals and Wilts & Berks 16-18 WRGBC Boat Club News 19 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies 20-25 Progress our regular selection of reports from around the country 26-27 Camp reports Two weeks on the Stover Canal in Devon 28-32 Camps News more leaders wanted 33 Navvies News 34-37 Infill 38 East Anglia in pictures 39

Contributions... ...are welcome, whether by post or email. Photos welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please say if you want prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG, but if you have a lot of large files it’s best to send them on CD or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 282: 1 March.

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: Bacton Lock on the North Walsham & Dilham, restored complete with top gates. See our Eastern waterways feature on p10-15. Back cover: Two other eastern waterways covered in our feature and hosting canal camps this year are Geldeston Lock on the Waveney (top) and the Chelmer & Blackwater. Note we’ve managed to get a pub in both pics!

page 3

Editorial What does EA stand for? A tale of two EAs… …and the first ‘EA’ stands for ‘East Anglia’. Not what you might think of as canal country – it doesn’t really have much in the way of ‘proper’ canals, and its waterways were never part of the main network. But what it does have is some rather pleasant, historically interesting, and in many cases very derelict river-based navigations, often running through very attractive countryside. They’ve been the subject of restoration schemes and proposals (with varying degrees of success) since before Navvies magazine was around – and right at the moment, several of them are attracting volunteer attention. The North Walsham & Dilham Canal – the only true canal in the area – gets its first week-long Canal Camp this summer, as does another offshoot of the Broads, Geldeston Lock on the former River Waveney Navigation. Meanwhile ‘our own’ waterway, the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation (operated by WRG’s parent body the Inland Waterways Association through its subsidiary Essex Waterways Ltd since the waterway’s original owners went bust) continues to receive attention from our volunteers, with a February camp plus weekend visits by regional groups. And those are just three that WRG’s volunteers are concentrating on. With plenty of activity from local societies and trusts, there’s a lot going on in East Anglia. So have a look at our East Anglian Waterways special feature in this issue, and consider supporting one or more of these up-and-coming projects. One of the other East Anglian schemes that’s making progress is the River Stour Navigation - but it isn’t all plain sailing. At the same time as they’re cracking on with rebuilding Stratford St Mary Lock, they’re bashing their heads on a brick wall trying to persuade the navigation authority to reopen Dedham lock which had already been restored once, but has been unusable since 2014. Why? Well, that’s where the other ‘EA’ comes in… This ‘EA’ stands for ‘Environment

page 4

The Environment Agency’s running so short of money that it admits it may need to shut down some of its waterways - so what’s the answer?

Agency’. It’s the official navigation authority for a number of rivers including the Thames, as well as being the Government body responsible for some water management functions such as flood control on all rivers (among its many responsibilities) and therefore a kind of ‘default navigation authority of last resort’ for those abandoned navigations which no longer have an official navigation body (like the Canal & River Trust, Essex Waterways and other independent ones). And it hasn’t been doing a terribly good job lately. Not only has Dedham Lock’s closure been hampering the River Stour Trust’s tripboat operations for three years, but the closure of Harlem Hill Lock has has cut off the top couple of miles of the River Ancholme for five years; Elvington Lock’s closure has put the top six miles of the Yorkshire Derwent out of use for a similar time; Welches Dam Lock (which our volunteers helped restore) has been unnavigable for over a decade, closing a useful second through route across the Middle Level Navigations system; and only a great deal of IWA campaigning has got the silt dredged to allow boats back onto the River Glen. Oh, and a couple of minor branches of the River Cam just seem to have disappeared off the navigable map over the years. Small wonder that a few years ago, when the former British Waterways had recently been transformed into the Canal & River Trust, and somebody asked in Navvies “If we and CRT are on the same side now [and yes, I know that’s not a given], who’s the new enemy?” the answer we came up with was “The Environment Agency.” But how have they become our enemy? It’s not like they’re pantomime villains, cackling to themselves as the lock-cuts silt up, the gates rot and the chambers crumble. Nor is it generally that they’re taking the opposite side from us in a ‘navigation versus environment / nature’ debate. (With one or two notable exceptions such as the Sussex Ouse, where they grubbedout a historic weir and put out a press release about how great they’d been at saving the

Martin Ludgate

river’s natural environment.) No, in the main it’s money, pure and simple. Even though in most cases they have a duty to keep these locks open for boats, they can’t afford to. The Agency comes under Government department Defra, whose budget has been repeatedly cut back, and with matters seen as more important (such as flood prevention) being protected, other areas including navigation bear the brunt of the cuts. Meanwhile CRT’s waterways largely avoid this issue, because when it was set up a 15-year Government funding contract was agreed – plus it has other income such as Welches Dam Lock: restored 1991, out of action since 2006 £50m a year or so in rental on the commercial property that it’s built up. (And sound like a bit of a ‘give up and go home’ yes, many of us had our doubts about strategy for dealing with emergency closures. whether property speculation was an ideal So, on the subject of ‘lesser of the evils’, basis for preserving our historic canals, but it would it be better if the EA waterways (plus seems the lesser of the evils compared to any that the EA might get ‘by default’) were begging the politicians for cash every year.) transferred to CRT? Well, that’s exactly what It gets worse. In the minutes of a reIWA has been pushing for some time. cent meeting with CRT, the EA stated that Other boating groups are less con“an option which may need to form part of vinced. But the EA itself has no objections to the discussion with government” was the losing its navigations to CRT – that’s why possible need to “close some navigations in they were having a meeting. And there’s (yet the future (on health and safety grounds) if again!) a chance that the Government might we’re unable to fund the repair and maintesupport it – if some kind of deal can be nance of the assets”. That’s right – they struck that gives CRT enough extra money to might just need to shut parts of rivers like be able to run the rivers without its existing the Great Ouse (which our volunteers waterways suffering (because the EA rivers worked hard to restore in the early days). won’t come with any property income). And although the meeting concerned the Subject to that big ‘IF’, I’m finding it hard to Anglian rivers (Nene, Great Ouse, Welland see much of an argument against the move. etc), why should we think the same doesn’t Don’t worry, I’m not about to go on at apply to (say) the Derwent (the link to the length about how wonderful BW’s successors Pocklington Canal, where restoration has CRT would be at running these rivers – not started to take off again in recent years), or least because you wouldn’t be able to hear me even the Thames – whose closure would over the noise of earlier generations of navvies rather scupper the Cotswold and Wilts & Berks turning in their graves; there’d also be some restorations. I hope that shows why I think pretty hollow laughter from some recent WRG this rather political issue is relevant to us. leaders who’ve had to deal with BW or CRT Sure, no navigation authority is imalthough I do hope matters have improved. mune to lengthy closures when it doesn’t But with three EA waterways shut in have the cash to hand to fix things: I remembreach of the EA’s duties, several non-EA ber the BW ‘tunnels crisis’ in the 1980s, and waterways out of action through EA’s lack of the 10-year Mon & Brec closure following a action, and the threat of more to come, it’s breach in the 1970s. But I would have hoped getting urgent. (given, for example, the way last year’s So is transferring these rivers to CRT Rochdale Canal flood damage was sorted) the best answer? Or am I missing something? Is that that sort of thing had been largely conthere a better way forward? One that can be signed to history. [Note for nitpickers: I said implemented before we see more closures? ‘largely’ – I know about the Dee Branch!] The Navvies letters page is all yours... Whereas on the EA waterways, it really does Martin Ludgate

page 5

Coming soon... Clean Up, Little Venice...

Book now for the BCN Clean Up and the WRG Barn Dance. And would you like to help prepare fudge for our stall at Little Venice? Of course you would!

Final call for the WRG Barn Dance: Saturday 18 March 2017 The popular WRG Barn Dance will be back for 2017, this time at Lapworth Village Hall. Tickets are £15 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 managed to get even the most reluctant dancers on the floor last time, “Rogue Music and Friends” will be returning once again as your entertainment for the evening. Accommodation in the hall will 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 TOP) with your cheque, or for more information contact Sarah Frayne at Head Office for more information on 01494 783453 ext. 611 or email sarah.frayne@waterways.org.uk.

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 some items defying iidentiication. You’ll need to book in using the form (opposite BOTTOM) via wrg.org.uk, or by contacting head office. Here’s leader Chris Morgan with the latest on what’s happening... The location for the 2017 event will extend from Wednesfield on the Wyrley and Essington Canal westwards all the way to Horseley Fields Junction (Wolverhampton) and then onto the Main Line in both directions - north westwards to Wolverhampton Locks, and south eastwards to the Bradley Arm (Wednesbury Oak Loop) and through to where it ends at Bradley lock gate workshops. Unfortunately the accommodation offered by councillor Bateman in Wednesfield (as mentioned last time) was not suitable so we will be returning to our regular accommodation of recent years, the Malthouse Stables Activities Centre in Hurst Road Tipton alongside the BCN old main line canal. The Canal & River Trust want us to use the old Wufruna coal wharf off Minerva Lane Wolverhampton as our sign on and welfare Base. The work boats can be based there too. 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. Finally, we’re printing some BCN Clean Up T-shirts - standard WRG shirt in red or black with Clean Up on the sleeve. Contact me with details of size and colour if you want one. Chris Morgan 07974 111354 cbmorgan@sky.com

Canalway Cavalcade 29 April - 1 May 2017 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 georgemrogers@outlook.com or 07789 493967. We also need volunteers to help with our fund-raising fudge stall at Little Venice - see page 10 for details.

page 6

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 PLEASE NOTE: The form above is for the WRG Barn Dance at Lapworth on 18 March. The form below is for the BCN Clean Up on 1-2 April. PLEASE DON’T SEND THE WRONG FORM IN BY MISTAKE or you might be in for a surprise! Although, come to think of it... “Everyone form a straight set, now throw your grappling hooks into the canal, hook a shopping trolley, circle to the left, swing your partner, clap hands, and lob your trolley into the workboat, ladies take four steps forward, honour your new partner, and hook a bicycle...”

BCN Clean Up 2017 waterway recovery group in association with BCNS CRT IWA DCT CCT I would like to attend the 2017 BCN Canal Cleanup on 1 - 2 April Forename:


Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

I require accommodation Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £

(pay 'Waterway Recovery Group') for food (£13 for weekend)

Do you suffer from any allergy or illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition? YES / NO (If yes, please attach details) In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:


Signed: Please send this form to: National Cleanup bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

You can also book online via the WRG website wrg.org.uk

page 7

IWA / CRT Restoration Workshop 1 April WRG’s parent body the Inland Waterways Association and the Canal & River Trust are running a series of workshops to provide support for waterway restoration projects. The theme of this year’s workshop is ‘Fit for Purpose’. It’s mainly aimed at those involved in canal societies, but WRG volunteers who are interested in getting more involved in the planning and organisation behind the practical work we do might well find it interesting and useful. Location: South Wolverhampton and Bilston Academy, Prosser Street, Bilston, Wolverhampton WV14 0LN. Cost: FREE (includes tea/coffee & lunch). Times: start 10am, end 4pm The aim of the workshop is to ensure that local waterways societies and trusts have more support and information to assist in the development of their schemes. The day promises to be fun, varied and informative. It is an opportunity for those passionate about waterway restoration to come together and share and discuss ideas. The workshop will follow the same format as previous years with large group sessions and breakout seminars. This year’s workshop will look at the following topics:

. . . . . .

Looking forward - current issues and how we build a more robust sector. Succession planning - making your organisation sustainable. Importance of marketing and communication. Building your volunteer workforce - including working with vulnerable volunteers. IWA’s Restoration Hub - how it can help you. Health & Safety - getting the culture right in your organisation.

The organisers are in the process of finalising agenda for the breakout sessions. Provisional topics are: Session 1: Benefit appraisal toolkit; Fundraising - ‘getting fit for funding’; Creating a maintenance plan; Working with the Environment Agency. Session 2: Insurance - what do you need?; Working on heritage structures; Getting water into your canal. To book on please contact Jenny Black jenny.black@waterways.org.uk / 01494 783 453 or visit www.waterways.org.uk and select ‘workshops and courses’ from the events drop-down menu. Jenny Black

What will we find in the BCN this year? Book now for the Clean Up - see pages 8-9

page 8

Fudge stall at Little Venice: volunteers needed on 23 April Back by popular demand, the WRG fudge stand will once again cater to the masses at this year’s Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade (see previous pages for more about volunteering at Canalway Cavalcade). The stand has been a fantastic fundraiser for the last two years and we are very lucky that Carolyn Smith has once again been generous enough to donate her fantastic fudge to help us bring in some much needed donations. If you are headed to Cavalcade this year, then come and visit us at stand 00W on Warwick Crescent. But before it makes it to the stand, the fudge needs chopping and packing - we need some willing volunThe WRG fudge stall in action at Little Venice last year teers to help with this on Sunday 23rd April. You need to be able to get to Chalgrove, near Oxford, by approximately 8.30am on the Sunday. If you are able to help, please email Sarah Frayne at sarah.frayne@waterways.org.uk Sarah Frayne

Leader Training Day: Saturday 13 May 2017 The initial planning for this year’s Leaders Training day has started. As a change; this year we will be using Lapworth Village Hall (Old Warwick Road, Lapworth, B94 6LD) but the plan is otherwise as normal. The training day is open to everyone from experienced leaders to those who are maybe, possibly, contemplating helping out with a camp this year. The day will start with the usual bacon sarnies at about 10am and proceedings will start properly at 10.30am, and we should be done by about 5pm. Lunch and dinner are included and discussions usually continue in the pub afterwards. Accommodation is available in the hall on Saturday night before breakfast and the WRG meeting on Sunday. We are still in the process of pulling together the agenda for the day so if anyone has any subjects they’d like to be discussed or points that need to be raised then please drop me an email – ed.walker@wrg.org.uk. We also may run a cooks course in the afternoon if we have enough interest; Harri Barnes has already offered to organise this part – Thank you! To book on (it’s free!) please contact Jenny Black or Alex Melson at head office (jenny.black@waterways.org.uk, 01494 783453) remembering to include details of which meals you will need and any dietary requirements you may have. Ed Walker

And finally... WRG Reunion, Uttoxeter Canal: 4-5 November It’s still a long way off, but we’re hoping to make it a really good one so get it in your diary now! Here’s the latest from Steve Wood of Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust: We will be continuing work started in previous WRG camps, clearing trees and vegetation in the area from Crumpwood and Bridge 70 towards Alton Towers. At the 2015 Reunion we managed to clear almost half a mile of towpath and have a similar target next year. Part of the next section of canal is dry so there may not be as much mud, but there will be as many bonfires!

page 9

Go East!

a Navvies special feature

Take a look at this year’s Canal Camps programme (either in the brochure that arrived with your last Navvies magazine) or on wrg.org.uk, and you may notice a couple of projects N Walsham & that haven’t featured before – the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Dilham Canal and the River Waveney. So what are The these projects, and where are they? R Waveney Broads Well, to answer the second question first, they’re both in East Anglia (towards the north of the region, to be a little more Halesworth precise). And meanwhile the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, Navigation right down towards the southern extremity of England’s eastern counties, is scheduled to see three weeks of Canal Camps this Ipswich & year. In between them are three more restoration projects: one Stowmarket Navigation where WRG’s volunteers have been working in recent years – the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation (or River Gipping) – and another (the Stour) that’s been subject to restoration plans R Stour right since Navvies started, and one of the newest restoration schemes where work has just begun, on the River Blyth or East Halesworth Navigation. Chelmer & Anglian So we’re going to run through East Anglia from north to Blackwater south, reporting from an area of the country where waterway Navigation Waterways restoration appears to have been taking off in recent years.

North Walsham & Dilham Canal We start with the only one of these waterways that in any way resembles a conventional canal. The North Walsham & Dilham has a similar relationship to North Walsham & Dilham Canal the two places in its name as the Opened in 1826, the North Walsham & Wyrley & Essington Canal does Antingham Dilham Canal was an extension of the these days – it doesn’t go to either Pond River Ant, which climbed through six locks of them. But what it does do is to terminate at Antingham Pond. It was follows a generally northwards intended as an ‘agricultural canal’, course through some really pleasant Swafield Locks aimed at taking farm produce countryside from the head of naviout and bringing in coal, but gation on the River Ant (one of the North was not a commercial Norfolk Broads’ smaller rivers) as it Bacton Walsham success. The top end follows the river’s headwaters to Wood above Swafield Locks Ebridge reach a terminus at Antingham Lock was abandoned in 1893; Lock Ponds. the remainder carried some Despite 80 years of abandontrade until 1934 after ment, most of the route survives which it fell derelict. and much is still in water, all of it is Briggate Lock still traceable, only one bridge has Honing Lock been culverted, and the six locks still exist. In 1972 it was said that it Length: 9 miles Dilham would be easy to restore – but in Locks: 6 the event it wasn’t until 2008 that Opened: 1826 Dilham the North Walsham & Dilham Canal Closed: 1934 (trade ended, Dyke Trust was launched. Since then the never legally abandoned) River Ant Trust has worked on several locks,

page 10

Martin Ludgate

The completed Bacton Lock awaits its bottom gates

with Bacton Lock having been completely rebuilt including new top gates (with bottom gates under way). Work at Ebridge has involved not just the lock but the adjacent mill pond (even though this was a canal, it incorporated the waters of the River Ant and had water mills by several locks) and is now progressing onto the adjacent ‘spillway’. This is actually a very sizeable overflow weir whose restoration will be the main job for this year’s Canal Camps on 12-19 and 19-26 August. It was built from brick but repaired by covering it with a concrete slab – we’ll be breaking out the concrete and reinstating it in original style brick.

River Waveney Navigation The non-tidal Waveney is still navigated regularly as it forms part of the Norfolk Broads. However the non-tidal river has been unnavigable since the abandonment of the three locks. The head of navigation is therefore at Geldeston, where (conveniently enough) there’s a pub called the Locks. That’s a (slightly River Waveney Navigation misleading, given the ‘s’ The River Waveney Navigation was authorised as early as 1670, on the end of the name!) and three locks were built to extend navigation from Beccles to clue to the fact that this Bungay. Subsequent developments on the river concerned the the site of Geldeston lower tidal lengths where links (still open) were built to the Yare Lock, the lowest of the and to Lowestoft. Meanwhile the length above Geldeston rethree locks built on the mained open until 1934, by which time freight traffic had ended. river. Unlike the other two which have Length: 4 miles (excluding tidal length still open diappeared, replaced by Locks: 3 Tidal river water control sluices, this Opened: 1670s to Great one with its distinctive Closed: 1934 Yarmouth Ellingham Lock bowed-out chamber walls is a unique survivor. It’s in recognisable but very derelict condition – and it’s where our Geldeston Wainford canal camp on 5-12 Lock Beccles Lock August will be working, Bungay clearing vegetation be-

page 11

Nicky Rowbottom / River Waveney Trust

Artist James Stark / River Waveney Trust

fore repairing and repointing the chamber walls. There aren’t actually any plans to reopen the upper river to full navigation as yet, but that doesn’t mean the lock won’t see boats. The River Waveney Trust aims to promote the river for education, environment, navigation (including small Geldeston Lock in a 19th century painting and (below) before restoration starts craft) and industrial heritage benefits, and its plan is that the last surviving historic wherry (Norfolk sailing barge) Albion will be berthed in the restored lock when visiting Geldeston, as will other visiting craft.

Halesworth Navigation New kid on the block is the restoration scheme for the Halesworth Navigation, a waterway based on the River Blyth which used to run from Halesworth to the sea near Southwold (of Adnams Brewery fame). It’s so new that there isn’t Halesworth Navigation actually a canal The Halesworth Navigation was a waterway based on the River Blyth, which society or trust extended navigation up-river from the large expanse of mud-flats and saltyet – but there marsh near Blythburgh via five locks to Halesworth town, whose maltings is a New Reach provided much of its trade. The topmost length, a canal cut known as the Working Group, New Reach, was later extended by an additional lock linking to a length of the consisting of Blyth’s tributary the Town River. Unfortunately 19th Century draining of the those in the salt marsh led to the silting up of the river mouth (by reducing the tidal scour Halesworth effect) and this led to a decline in traffic, which ended in 1911 Millennium Halesworth although the navigation wasn’t closed until 1934. Green volunNew Reach teers’ organisation who take a Mells Town Lock particular interSouthwold Salt marshes Length: 9 miles est in the length (including tidal length) of navigation Locks: 6 Southwold which forms Blythburgh Opened: 1761 Harbour part of the Closed: 1934 Millennium

page 12


Martin Ludgate

Town Lock and (above) ‘royal’ launch of the New Reach punt

Green’s 50-acre site on the edge of Halesworth. Its name comes from the New Reach, the topmost mile of the navigation in Halesworth, which was the only artificial cut on what was otherwise basically a natural river with locks and weirs added. This section has survived, including Town Lock, you can walk the towpath, and the NRWG’s volunteers are dedicated to improving it. In the longer term, they’d like to reopen it to navigation and restore the first lock on the ‘proper’ river (and the only other surviving lock on the navigation), and they recently launched the first sizeable vessel on the waterway for a long time – a work punt.

Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation Restoration of the Ipswich & Stowmarket, a navigation based on the River Gipping, got under way in the 1990s with the Ipswich Stowmarket Ipswich & Stowmarket Branch of the Inland Waterways Association initially leading the campaign. Their Navigation Opened in volunteers (supported by WRG) began 1793, the near the middle of the waterway, with the Ipswich & Bosmere Lock rebuilding of Bosmere Lock near Needham Creeting Lock Stowmarket Needham Market. This was followed by the nearby Market Pipps Ford Lock Navigation Creeting Lock, and then Baylham Lock was a 17Baylham Lock whose rebuilding (a tricky job involving mile waterway based on the some quite complex concreting) was River Gipping linking the tidal WRG’s most recent major involvement in river at Ipswich Docks to the river. Stowmarket. Successful at Restoration continues, with the River first, it was leased to a railGipping Trust now a separate organisation way from 1846 to 1888, by (albeit still on good terms with IWA); which time there was little Pipps Ford Lock and its footbridge being trade on the upper lengths. Ipswich the latest worksite. The long-term aim is Some traffic at the to reopen the entire navigation – it will Ipswich end continLength: 17 miles require a serious amount of work, but just ued until 1922, and Locks: 15 before Christmas a call from the local MP it was abandoned Opened: 1793 included a surprise request for an approxiin 1934. Closed: 1932 mate costing for the work to complete it!

page 13


Work on the Ipswich & Stowmarket at Baylham Lock, a regular WRG site, during a 2009 canal camp

River Stour Navigation

Martin Ludgate

Restoration of this river goes back a long way – including a ‘protest dig’ in 1966 (which was reported in the very first issue of Navvies magazine: see our feature in issue 275 looking back over 50 years) aimed at heading-off a threat to the navigation. Two years later the River Stour Trust was formed to campaign for reopening. Despite frustratingly slow progress at times (often for external reasons including struggles to negotiate with authorities not supportive of navigation, especially in powered craft) navigable lengths have been created at both ends of the river. At the upper end, the brand new Great Cornard Lock was built, while in the lower reaches, Flatford Lock, Dedham Lock (both famed for John Constable’s paintings of them) and Stratford St Mary Distinctive restored Stour lock with gate lintels Lock have been restored. Today, (subject to Environment Agency issues – see Editorial) the Trust’s trip-boats are still operated, as are events for unpowered craft, and the Trust still campaigns for restoration of the remainder of the river.

River Stour Great Cornard Lock

Sudbury The Essex and Suffolk Stour was made navigable for 25 miles from Sudbury down to Manningtree, where it enters the estuary leading to Harwich. Made famous by John Constable’s paintings of the river and its locks, the Stour carried goods including bricks, grain and coal until railway competition led to a decline, and the company went into liquidation in 1914. Despite this a little trade continued mainly on the lower reaches until 1930.

Length: 25 miles Locks: originally 13 plus 13 flash-locks, later 15 locks Opened: 1709ish Closed: 1937

page 14

Nayland Stratford St Mary Lock

Dedham Lock Flatford Lock Manningtree

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation For most readers this one will need very little introduction from me, as it’s been a regular WRG work site for some years now. Our parent body the Inland Waterways Association took on the maintenance The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation was built to of this river-based Chelmer & link Chelmsford to the Blackwater Estuary, making waterway from Blackwater use of the River Chelmer in its upper lengths but Chelmsford to the diverging at Beeleigh along a two and a half mile cut Essex coast a decNavigation to enter the estuary at Heybridge Basin. Unlike the ade ago, as the other waterways in this article it remained in use only way of prethroughout most of the 20th Century, with the final venting the bankcargoes of imported timber continuing until 1972. Length: 12 miles ruptcy of the origiStill in the hands of the original company, it then Locks: 12 (plus nal company from began catering for leisure craft although the uppera flood lock) bringing about its most length and top lock in Chelmsford fell derelict. Opened: 1797 abandonment. Closed: no Although not Beeleigh Heybridge derelict (the only Basin Hoe Mill R C length which had he Blackwater lm fallen derelict was er estuary Maldon the top lock, which Chelmsford IWA and WRG had restored in the early 1990s), the entire waterway had become run-down through lack of money for maintenance, so Essex Waterways (the IWA subsidiary tasked with its management) has had a great deal of work on its hands to put the waterway back in good order. With no regular public funding (and limited boating an commercial income), this has meant a great deal of volunteer work – both of the behind-the-scenes type, such as bidding for funding support from local authorities and funding bodies; and the practical type including scrub-clearance, weir repairs, bank repairs, towpath relaying, and creation of boater facilities. WRG has helped with all of this – through its regional groups (especially Essex and London WRG) and with regular canal camps. By the time you read this you’ll probably have already missed the first one on 11-18 February, but there are two more still to come on 29 July – 5 August and 21-28 October.

If I can get away with including the Chelmer & Blackwater in an article about East Anglian waterways (and please, if you want to fill up the letters page of Navvies, can you find something other than arguments about this?) then can I get away with Romford? There’s a canal there that was never even finished. How about that for a challenge? Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

And finally...

London WRG resurfacing the moorings at Heybridge Basin

page 15

Christmas Camp Cotswold Canals

A bit of a change for this year’s festive canal camp on the Cotswold Canals: an assortment of sites, down at the western end of the route

25 minutes walk west from the main site. The work, as well as the usual scrub Soon after joining the Army you learn never clearance, included tree felling so a lot of to volunteer for anything. You might wonder chainsaws were in use during the week. Most why, being ex-military, I would volunteer to of the trees to be felled were on the nonbe the assistant leader on the 2016 Christtowpath side of the canal and the land ownmas Camp on the Cotswold canals, with ers didn’t give permission for bonfires on Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden as the leader... their land. This meant that all the felled trees In the last few years that I have athad to be Tirfor winched across the canal to tended the Christmas Camp they have always be logged and some parts burned on two been well supported. The 2016 camp was no bonfires. exception. We had 4 newbies, including a Because of the numbers of people on couple and one volunteer doing Duke of the camp we had five red vans including one Edinburgh’s Award. Maria catered for over 30 that was nicknamed the ‘naked van’. The at the New Year’s Eve dinner. reason it was called the ‘naked van’ was There were a number of sites on the because it had had all its WRG sign writing Cotswold Canals that had been identified for removed. More about the ‘naked van’ later. the team to clear. The reason for this variety Before we started work on the first day was that Moose and I thought there would not there were some tasks that had to be combe enough work for up to 30 people for 5 pleted. Firstly a tree had come down in the days. As it turned out there was enough work. car park outside the accommodation at The main site was a 1.2km stretch of the canal Brimscombe Port. We offered to cut it up and north west of the A38 near Stroud. An addiremove those branches that could be burnt, tional site was the Whitminster Lock about putting them onto the trailer which was to

Cotswold Christmas Camp

Cotswold Canals Fact File

Length: 36 miles Locks: 56 Date closed: 1927-46

The Canal Camp project: Scrub clearance in the Eastington / Whitminster area Why? To apply some TLC to structures where work was carried out some years ago (Whitminster Lock), and to prepare for major work on the Phase 1b (Saul to Stonehouse) length in a year or two. The wider picture: The Phase 1a section (Stonehouse to near Brimscombe) where much of our work has been concentrated in recent years is all but complete, thanks to a major funding package from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others which has paid for the heavy engineering needed where the canal had been blocked. This will be followed by a similar project to completely reopen the Phase 1b length and connect the Canal Camp canal back to the national network - but only if it gets worksites its Lottery Grant (at the second attempt). Everything we do helps improve the chances of this happening. Phase 1b: Saul to Stonehouse Phase 1a: Stonehouse to Brimscombe

page 16

Phase 3: Brimscombe to Cerney

Phase 2: Inglesham to Cerney

John Hawkins

carry the porta-loo to site. A boat would be dry for the five days. It was very frosty most needed on site so that was also trailered to mornings and moving the boat on the canal the site, after the tyres on the trailer were first thing in the morning became a challenge better inflated. because the canal had frozen over. Not only Part of the site needed to be cleared for did we cut down trees and remove vegetathe brew kit to be set up. This meant sendtion on the towpath side of the canal but we ing RAF Martin and Alan Lines to the site built two Stag Beetle Pyramids as requested with brush cutters to clear an area for it. The as part of the work to be carried out. The brushcutter that Alan was using had recently Stag Beetle Pyramid consists of putting small been overhauled and the engine needed to logs upright into a pit of 60cm depth. The be run in. Alan decided that one person shape of the structure is that of a pyramid should use the brushcutter to run in the above ground. I’m sure the Stag Beetles will engine, and that person was Alan. He there- be happy in their new homes! fore did a lot of work over the 5 days! The cook and assistant (Maria and Mo) There was a bridge (that was separate coped well with delivering lunch to two sites. from the main tree felling and scrub clearIn fact Mo got to drive our Land Rover Deance) that needed to have trees, bushes fender a lot more than she normally would. removed. There was enough work to warrant The highlight of the week was the 3 course a small team, which could have its own meal (4 course if you include cheese and bonfire, to tidy up the bridge and both sides biscuits afterwards) for New Year’s Eve. As of the canal beside the bridge. At the end of part of the range of puddings Maria had the first day, Susan Cooper, one of the made two homemade ice creams. My favournewbies, asked if there was a broom availite was the mint choc chip, it had large able. I enquired why she wanted a broom. chunks of chocolate in it. In true WRGie style Her reply was the bridge needed to be swept they didn’t last long. to make it tidy after removal of the vegetaIn the early hours of New Years Day we tion. I gave her a broom from the kit trailer all went outside for a ‘handing over the keys’ the following day and she swept the bridge. ceremony. Paul Ireson had purchased one of There was some debate, back at the accomthe old WRG vans (the ‘naked van’) and as of modation, if the brushing of the bridge did the 1st January 2017 he was the new owner. improve its appearance... Moose presented the keys to Paul. On the second day I took a team to Martin Hacon Whitminster Lock to remove the brambles and cut down trees that were surrounding the lock. Alan Lines and RAF Martin used the brushcutters to tackle the brambles (up to 6ft high) from either end of the lock. After a day of cutting they met in the middle and shook hands in the same way as tunnellers do when they break through. The amount of wood/brambles to be burnt meant we had a bonfire at each end of the lock. We met and spent time talking to locals who were walking near the lock. They were all pleased with the work we were doing and some were surprised that we were all volunteers. We were lucky with Scrub-clearance by boat - watch out for the ice! the weather in that it stayed

page 17

Christmas Camp BITM on the Wilts & Berks

hiding in the reeds on the offside - and the water voles stay snug in their burrows underneath the towpath. Di had one day off from providing our tea when Philip and Anne Smith invited us over to their farm for a delicious meal. Four of us were BITMites – Rob, Matt, Di and myself, unless you also count Mina, who was running around supervising us every day. The moment we got back to the accommodation each day she headed straight for her bowl, wolfed down her tea, and then crashed out on our bed until morning – but then she is an elderly dog. Luke and Robin stayed on until the 3rd January, also joined by Anthony from Melksham Branch, so we did get a bit more work done. In the evenings we completed almost 3 x 1,000 piece jigsaws, and most of us drove over to Swindon one evening in the hope of seeing Sully at the cinema, but unfortunately it wasn’t on until the following week, so two just stayed to see the latest Star Wars film. Matt was trained to drive the BITM van, and gained experience driving it to and from site each day. It was great fun, good to see everyone, and I’m very grateful for all that was achieved. It will spur us on to complete the rest of the clearance. Rachael Banyard

page 18

Martin Ludgate

WRG BITM Christmas Camp Wilts & Berks Canal Despite relatively low numbers (maximum eight), the Christmas camp at Dauntsey went well, and we achieved quite a lot. We didn’t have a very auspicious start on Boxing Day when most people arrived, as it started to rain early on and got worse as the morning wore on. We were strimming the banks and hedge (including the offside, working from our workboat) up to the far western end of my section, but by lunchtime we had to throw in the towel – or at least get back to the cottage and find several towels to rub us down. From then on, the weather was kind to us, and we had no more rain until New Year’s Day when the camp was officially over. We had quite hard frosts at night, and it remained crisp and clear and quite sunny for working during the day, particularly with good bonfires going for whenever we stopped for breaks. We did one more day on the western end, and then transferred two miles to the east end where my section joined Philip Smith’s. We first cleared Philip’s 150m section from the road down to the start of my bit. Luke had acquired a back-pack strimmer, which makes it easier to clear the scrub along the banks, which also revealed masses of saplings, so a lot of Tirfor winching was carried out. We haven’t had time to do any maintenance at that end, probably for a year, so it had become quite overgrown. Each day we worked steadily down towards the Peterborough Arms, and achieved at least 450m clearance, wonderful! A further 600m was strimmed, and the brush left to burn later and stumps to be pulled. Di was working on the west side raking weeds and reeds out of the canal, in between shopping, cooking, and making sure that the army marched on its stomach. Most days she had to break the ice on the canal, which remained frozen through most of the week. The swans always seem to manage to keep a small patch clear of ice, but the moorhens never put in an appearance – presumably

Meanwhile our WRG BITM (Bit In The Middle) regional group held their own festive camp at Dauntsey on the Wilts & Berks Canal

Coming to Canalway Cavalcade? See opposite...


Are you a boating WRGie? There are some interesting boating events this year that you might fancy attending, and flying the WRG BC burgee... WRG Boat Club news Jan 2017 A Happy New Year to all, let’s make it a good ’un, especially on the boating front! I forgot to tell you but we are now ‘Honorary Corporate Members’ of the Wendover Arm Trust. I have no idea what that means, but they kindly appointed us as we gave them such a good donation. I have been sent four copies of the Wendover News which makes interesting reading and includes an article by our club officer Mike Chessher (Methinks he should write something for us about the restoration maybe?) The Wendover Arm Trust has regular work parties and would welcome assistance. The far end of the canal, towards Wendover, is in water so it is possible for canoes to explore. Please do let me know of any new bits of canal that you boat along. [And please feel free to send photos to Navvies of any interesting new bits of water where you fly the WRG BC burgee ...Ed] Chris Morgan sent this information, mostly about the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) but of interest to all: Winter cruising on the Wyrley and Essington has been disrupted by repairs on the aqueduct at Bloxwich and now there is a longer closure, of 21 weeks, at Wednesfield for Pinfold Bridge. This latest closure will affect the BCN Clean Up event on 1-2 April as we cannot get the work boats through Wednesfield. We have political support locally and we know it is frustrating for those wanting to cruise but we have been informed that the bridge is very weak. Most importantly the Clean Up event will take place! Check elsewhere in Navvies! Another interesting item is news of the BCN Society’s Spring Cruise from Ocker Hill to Walsall on Saturday 8 April (Bogwoppit will be there flying the WRG BC burgee). This is a great event, now in its third year, when members of the public are invited to cruise with you on your boat. It is all organised and co-ordinated by the BCNS. January and February are quiet months for

Our own boat club boating, so here are some questions for you:

. . .

Do you know of any restorations going on this year that members can boat to? Do you work with other restoration groups? Can you tell us of any activities and progress? What cruising plans have you?

I have received an interesting wall calendar that has lots of boat related events on it. Here is a list of some, that raise money for canal restoration, that you may consider attending... 29 April - 1 May the Inland Waterways Association’s Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice in London 26 – 28 May IWA National Trailboat Festival at Moira on the isolated restored part of the northern reaches of the Ashby Canal 26 – 28 August IWA Festival of Water at Ilkeston on the Erewash Canal (Oh Yes You Will – it’s where our AGM will happen) 2 – 3 September Shackerstone Family Festival (Ashby Canal fundraiser) on the main navigable length of the Ashby Canal 23 – 24 September Huddlesford Gathering (Supporting the Lichfiel & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust) on the Coventry Canal Has anyone any other suggestions? Wishing you Happy Boating, Campaigning and Playing in the Mud! xxx Sadie Heritage 07748186867 sadiedean@msn.com PS There will be an auction of boat related ‘stuff’ held at The Village Hall, Weston, Staffs, on 25 March. Viewing is 9-11 am and the sale starts later. A percentage of the takings will go to WRG, I know because most of the things are historic and belonged to my late husband Fred. Anyone interested contact me for more details or look on the HNBC (Historic Narrow Boat Club) website.

page 19

Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Feb 17-19 wrgFT Feb 18/19 wrgBITM Feb 18 Sat wrgNW Feb 25/26 NWPG Feb 25 Sat wrgNW Mar 3-10 WAT Mar 4/5 Essex WRG Mar 4/5 KESCRG Mar 4/5 London WRG Mar 4/5 wrgNW Mar 11/12 wrgFT Mar 18 Sat WRG Mar 18/19 wrgBITM Mar 18 Sat WRG Mar 19 Sun WRG Mar 31-Apr 6 WAT Apr 1/2 BCN2017 Apr 1/2 KESCRG Apr 1/2 London WRG Apr 1/2 NWPG Apr 1 Sat wrgNW Apr 1 Sat IWA/CRT 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 May 6 Sat wrgNW May 7-14 wrgNW May 13 Sat LTD2017 May 14 Sun WRG May 19-21 wrgBITM May 20/21 London WRG May 26-29 KESCRG Jun 2-8 WAT

North Oxford Canal: Hillmorton (3-day) Cotswold Canals: Phase 1B scrub and tree clearance Stockport Branch of Ashton Canal: Gorton Aqueduct exploratory scrub Cotswold Canals: Stroud Phase 1A or Phase 1B ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu, Veg clearing on Fri Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Thames & Medway Canal: Joint dig with London WRG Thames & Medway Canal: Joint dig with KESCRG Hollinwood Canal Wey & Arun Canal PAT testing: Rowington Village Hall North Oxford Canal: Morton Basin, Hillmorton Fundraising Barn Dance: Lapworth Village Hall. See pages 6-7 Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Village Hall Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu BCN Clean Up: Wyrley & Essington Canal. See pages 6-7 Cotswold Canals: Inglesham BCN Clean Up Cotswold Canals: Stroud Phase 1A or Phase 1B ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Restoration Workshop 2017: Venue: Bilston WV14 0LN. See page 8 Wey & Arun Canal Cromford Canal: To be confirmed Cotswold Canals Easter camp: Weymoor Bridge Cotswold Canals Easter camp: Weymoor Bridge Grantham Canal Easter camp: Woolsthorpe Locks Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: TBC Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Montgomery Canal: Week-long dig, embankment removal Leaders Training Day: Lapworth Village Hall. See page 9 Committee & Board Meetings: Lapworth Village Hall, after Leaders Trai Rickmansworth Waterways Festival: Site Services (open to public on Sa Lichfield Canal: TBC Cotswold Canals: KESCRG’s 40th year celebration at Inglesham Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu

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

page 20

Canal Camps cost £70 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201702' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, enquiries@wrg.org.uk. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, dave.wedd@wrgbitm.org.uk


ining Day at 20 & Sun 21)

Dave Wedd Ju Davenport Bill Nicholson Barry McGuinness Roger Leishman John Gale Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis Ju Davenport

07816-175454 07808-182004 01844-343369 0161-681-7237 01442-874536 01376-334896 07971-814986 07802-518094 07808-182004

George ‘Bungle’ Eycott Dave Wedd 07816-175454 Sarah Frayne 01494 783453 Mike Palmer 01564-785293 Roger Leishman 01442-874536 01494-783453 Bobby Silverwood 07971-814986 Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Bill Nicholson 01844-343369 Barry McGuinness 0161-681-7237 Jenny Black 01494-783453 Dave Wedd 07816-175454 Ju Davenport 07808-182004 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Bill Nicholson 01844-343369 Roger Leishman 01442-874536 Barry McGuinness 0161-681-7237 Ju Davenport 07808-182004 01494-783453 Mike Palmer 01564-785293 Dave Wedd 07816-175454 Tim Lewis 07802-518094 Bobby Silverwood 07971-814986 Roger Leishman 01442-874536

bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk b.mcguinness1@gmail.com rwleishman@gmail.com essex@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk bungle@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk sarah.frayne@waterways.org.uk mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com enquiries@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk b.mcguinness1@gmail.com enquiries@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk nw@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bill@nwpg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com b.mcguinness1@gmail.com nw@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 21

Navvies diary

canal society regulars

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


Bugsworth Basin Basingstoke Canal

Ian Edgar Chris Healy

0161-427 7402 01252-370073

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

BCN waterways Basingstoke Canal

Mike Rolfe Duncan Paine

07763-171735 01252-614125

Thursdays Sep-Apr 2nd Sun & alternate Thu


Aqueduct section Buckingham area

Tim Dingle Athina Beckett

01288-361356 01908-661217

Every Mon and Wed Every mon am Thu pm


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

01453-836018 01285-861011

Various dates Every Sunday


Cotswold Phase 1a Chesterfield Canal

07986-351412 01246-620695

Every Tue and Thu Every Tue & Wed


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

Every Friday Second Sun of month


Langley Mill John Baylis Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech

01623-633895 0116-279-2657

Thu and last Sat of month GCS 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

Wednesdays Thursdays


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

01225-863066 01539-733252

Every Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun 3rd Sunday of month


Lichfield Hatherton

Hugh Millington Denis Cooper

01543-251747 01543-374370

Last weekend of month Two Sundays per month


Creams Paper Mill N Walsham Canal

Steve Dent David Revill

07802-973228 01603-738648

Weekly Every Wed and 1st Sat


Pocklington Canal Dick Watson Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird

01759-305025 01394-380765

2nd Sunday of month 1st Sunday of month


Sankey Canal Combe Hay Locks

John Hughes Derrick Hunt

01744-600656 01225-863066

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

01444-414413 01244-661440

Every Tuesday morning TMCA Most days, please contact WACT

Thames & Medway C Les Schwieso Wey & Arun Canal Northern office

01634-847118 01483-505566

1st w/e of month (Fri-Thu) WAT

Little Tring


Roger Leishman

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

page 22

CRT towpath taskforce

Navvies diary

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 firstname.surname@canalrivertrust.org.uk, eg steve.manzi@canalrivertrust.org.uk for K & A. If no phone number given, use CRT Tel: 03030 404040


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


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

page 23

Navvies diary

IWA branches...

Inland Waterways Association and other one-day working parties Every Wed RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm Feb 18 Sat IWA BBCW Dudley No2 Canal: Leasowes Park, scrub clearance of canal bed Feb 18 Sat IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10amFeb 21 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm Feb 21 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking Feb 22 Wed IWA Peterboro’ Horseways Channel: Clearing north bank near Chatteris 9:30am Feb 22/23 WBDCS/IWA BBCW Worcester Birmingham Canal: Tardebigge Lime Kilns 9:30am-3pm Feb 24 Fri IWA Lichfield Trent & Mersey Canal: Installing hand rail for steps, path clearance, Feb 25 Sat IWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10amFeb 25/26 IWA Peterboro’ Horseways Channel: Clearing north bank near Chatteris 9:30am Feb 28 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm Feb 28 Tue IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm Every Wed RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm Mar 4 Sat IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm Mar 5 Sun IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking Mar 9 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm Mar 11 Sat RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm Mar 12 Sun IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section Mar 16 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance. 10amMar 18 Sat IWA BBCW Dudley No2 Canal: Leasowes Park, scrub clearance of canal bed Mar 18 Sat IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10amMar 19 Sun IWA Warks Grand Union Canal: Leamington Spa Canal Cleanup. 9:30am Mar 21 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm Mar 21 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking Mar 25 Sat IWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10amMar 28 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, meet 9am-1pm Mar 28 Tue IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm Mar 31-Apr 1 IWA Milton Keynes Grand Union Canal: 6-monthly Clean Up, Fri and Sat Apr 1 Sat IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm Apr 2 Sun IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking Apr 8 Sat RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm 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.

page 24

...and other one-day work

Navvies diary

For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 Martin Bird David Struckett 4pm

etc 4pm


Colin Garnham-Edge Geoff Wood David Venn Bill Lambert Margaret Beardsmore Mike Carter David Venn Colin Garnham-Edge Steve Wood Martin Bird Steve Wood Geoff Wood Robert Frost Martin Bird Chris or Steve Hayes John Brighouse David Struckett



Brian Bayston Colin Garnham-Edge Geoff Wood Mike Carter Colin Garnham-Edge Steve Wood Philip Strangeway Steve Wood Geoff Wood Martin Bird

01394-380765 07976-746225 07710-554602

07977-579727 02476-726924 07581-794111 07795-617803 07977-579727 07976-805858 01394-380765 07976-805858 07743-628091 01394-380765 01522-689460 07808-878317 07976-746225 07710-554602 07917-157492

07795-617803 07976-805858 07976-805858 01394-380765

restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk david.struckett@waterways.org.uk secretary@manchester-iwa.co.uk bcpontheoxford@gmail.com geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk davidgvenn@gmail.com volunteers@wbdcs.org.uk margaret.beardsmore@waterways.org.uk mike.carter@waterways.org.uk davidgvenn@gmail.com bcpontheoxford@gmail.com steve.wood@waterways.org.uk restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk steve.wood@waterways.org.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk steve.wood@waterways.org.uk restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk workparties@sleafordnavigation.co.uk john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk david.struckett@waterways.org.uk secretary@manchester-iwa.co.uk brian.bayston@waterways.org.uk bcpontheoxford@gmail.com geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk mike.carter@waterways.org.uk bcpontheoxford@gmail.com steve.wood@waterways.org.uk philip.strangeway@waterways.org.uk steve.wood@waterways.org.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk restoration@rivergippingtrust.org.uk

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

in pubs.

Please phone to confirm dates and times

SE1 8DP.

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

page 25

The finished attractive edge has received very positive comments from towpath users. The Society has also now completed the transfer of ownership of land in Clydach, under which 120 yards of the original Swansea Canal are buried. The section has been part of a Swansea Council owned depot since 1973 when the canal and one lock were buried. The canal was encased in a pipe to ensure it continued to flow. Now, thanks to Swansea Canal the City and Council of Swansea, the SwanThe Swansea Canal Society has just comsea Canal Society is the legal owner. Our first pleted its repairs to, and enhancement of, job will be to restore the orignal towpath to eroded wash holes north of Coed Gwilym a standard acceptable to Sustrans National Park in Clydach. One hundred yards of towCycleways since Route 43 passes through the path were vulnerable to flooding, so lines of yard. In partnership with Glandwr Cymru, sand bags full of a stone dust and cement who own the rest of the canal, we hope to then mixture were laid up to a depth of three restore the buried lock. Dependent on further bags. Then our volunteers poured a mortar funding, the third stage will be to open the mix into home-made shuttering on top of the canal up so that a continuous three mile bags into which we laid local Blue Pennant section from Clydach to Pontardawe exists. Sandstone to form a ‘crazy paving’ top. The entire project was completed in three months We have a WRG Canal Camp planned for the by the volunteers working every Tuesday. Swansea Canal on 8-15 July. ...Ed


Pictures by Swansea Canal Society

Swansea Canal

Swansea Canal towpath with work under way, and with the edging renewed

page 26


Reporting on progress with restoration on the Swansea Canal, the Grand Union Wendover Arm, and the Grand Union Buckingham Arm

...and a pair of arms...

water before bed lining could commence. In December we provided excavator The end of yet another year and two assistance to CRT to investigate ground condidecades: It amazes me that we have now tions round the manhole in the bed at completed 20 years of our Phase I [the initial Whitehouses but we are not aware of any length to the winding hole at Tringford] and conclusions to date. We are concerned that Phase II [the dry length from there to Aston there is loose fill around the manhole and Clinton] restoration, the years have flown by! between the manhole and the wharf wall. This On behalf of the Trust I would like to thank must have been the result of the excavations all of you who have volunteered over the around 1911 when the 18" pipeline [installed years for the hard work put in by everyone; in the bed to maintain the canal’s water supply without you there would have been no resto- role when leakage meant that it could no ration. Many, many thanks. longer be retained as a water channel] was November and December Working laid and a connection made to the former Parties: Stage 3 channel profiling and lining pumping shaft to allow discharge into Wilstone continued, and the first 20 metres from where Reservoir. The loose fill should be removed we left off at Bridge 4A is now complete with and replaced with weak mix concrete to ensure bed lining. The wet weather just before the the stability of the new lining in this area. December working party was not very helpRoger Leishman, Restoration Director ful as the first day was spent pumping out 01442 874536 rwleishman@gmail.com

Wendover Arm

Buckingham Canal

Martin Ludgate

Following successful test watering of the first lengths of canal beyond the end of the short surviving section used as moorings at Cosgrove (junction with the Grand Union main line), attention has turned to the former Bridge 1 which stood at the end of the moorings until demolished in the 1970s. Explorations reveal that a lot more of its abutments survives than had been feared, and former WRG excavator ‘Blue’ has been at work clearing the mound of earth and rubble covering the site, ready for rebuilding of the bridge to be planned. More of the original stonework and sides of the original arch have now been exposed, providing encouraging signs that a rebuild is achievable using some of the original structure without complete demolition.Dubbed ‘The Gateway to Buckingham’, full restoration of the bridge will be a key milestone towards removal of this blockage, enabling permanent re-watering of the Cosgrove lengths, and a very symbolic step forward for restoration. Meanwhile work has continued at other sites, including the Hyde Lane Lock nature reserve where several corporate volunteering visits including Santander and Argos staff have helped to progress construction of dams to rewater a length, and local authority and WREN funding has supported towpath work. There’s a (restorable) bridge in there somewhere!

page 27

Camp reports Stover Canal Stover Canal 6-13 August A foreword by the cook: Colin sent me the original version of this report, written by two of the volunteers, with the request that I add some words to it about the week from my perspective. The report was also originally written (in that never ending quest to write the report in a different style) without punctuation. However, we both decided that it didn’t really work (sorry L & K), so I have been tasked with adding the punctuation back in (I could insert a joke about Colin’s grammatical skills here, but that would be mean, and I do value his friendship, honest). So before the edited report, a word or two about cooking for this camp. You will note, I hope, as you read the report, that much emphasis is given (as it should be) to the food. Rather naively, I made the mistake of asking the camp what they would like to eat on various occasions. Normally, I’d just do the cooking and they’d eat it, but this time I decided to do things differently. I soon learnt that the camp was very keen on puddings and cake… As such, I made my first ever banoffee pie, my first ever lemon drizzle cake and my first ever lemon meringue pie. I also did topyour-own pizzas and made too much salad for the last night BBQ (the camp may have been keen on cake and pudding, but they weren’t so keen on salad). The food box came with quite a lot of bread flour and yeast, so I accompanied the Sunday roast with home made (leftovers) soup and bread rolls, and the lasagne was accompanied by home made garlic bread. When lunch was also accompanied by fresh sausage rolls, quiche and pastries, it is fair to say the camp ate quite well! Finally, as you read the main report you will also notice that Alex learned a series of lessons during the week. I’d like to add some lessons that I learned: 1.

Don’t ask the volunteers what they want. At least they didn’t

page 28

Reporting from two weeks of canal camps last summer in the south west... starting with the ‘official’ report from one that you unofficially read about last time... 2.

3. 4.

5. 6.

demand toad-in-the-hole Jude… When making bread, remember it says ‘warm’ water. ‘Just off the boil’ water will render the yeast a little useless. Squirty cream is useless in a cake. Even if the oven space is generous enough for top-your-own pizzas, don’t forget you’ll need a way to remember whose is whose when you’ve put them in the oven. Don’t let Alex chop apples for crumble. Crumble is supposed to be vegetarian. Having grated the zest of 8 lemons for the lemon meringue pie, remember to then actually put it in the mixture… George Rogers

The Main Report Saturday: we arrived at the Stover Scouts’ hut to discover a feast of Eton mess and bangers and mash. A challenge for ourselves was created: to eat the entire bowl of Eton mess by morning - we sadly failed this challenge and avoided the food coma. The evening was then spent in the pub with a live local band. A new sensation had hit multiple members with Pokemon GO, this meant many taking a slow stroll on our return to the scout hut in an attempt to hatch eggs and taking over gyms [Cook’s editing note: I don’t understand what this means so I really don’t know if the punctuation is correct!]. Sunday: After watching the new and improved safety video, we arrived on site for a tour and set up the all important brew kit. Then work started with the clearing out of the joints in the wall. We returned to camp to roast dinner and apple crumble. Alex arrived on the Sunday and each day he learnt a new thing. His first day was spent learning not to cut himself within ten minutes of preparing the apples for crumble Monday: On site we continued to clean out the joints in the wall. Hector and Sean

began digging their hole around the crane shaft and sadly only found mud. With no lime mortar we began the process of repairing the towpath. For dinner we had a fabulous lasagne and George made a delicious banoffee pie. We spent the evening playing Laser Quest and of course the best team won (sorry blue team but you lost and you started the cheating first). Alex spent the day learning not to put too much washing up liquid in the bowl. Tuesday: On our third day on site Hector and Sean found more than just plain old mud on site. They found a suspected Cider jug and other ancient artefacts, such as a boat light, decanter and multiple pairs of shoes. Ju found a sheep for Harley, the dog, in a tree (don’t worry it was a toy). We spent the day on site clearing balsam and continued repairing the towpath. With shovels we moved mud over the tree roots to create a flat and equal path with no trip hazards. Individual pizzas were our exciting new adventure for dinner. We had pizza and cake buddies making the experience joyful. Cathy had a beautiful flowery cake and flowers to celebrate her birthday. We were also treated to an outside screening of Ice Age and Ice Age the Xmas special. Alex learned how to turn speakers away from housing and towards the viewers. Wednesday: On our fourth day on site we spent the morning saying goodbye to Barry, resurfacing the towpath all the way up to the bridge and putting up a fence. We then returned to camp for lunch and spent

the rest of the day on the beach. Only a few were mad enough to go swimming but it was a wonderfully cold experience. A game of rounders was of course required with many face planting in the sand. Colin’s team was victorious. We then climbed Hay Tor and got lost trying to find the tram line. Alex’s lesson of the day was learning how to build a sand castle with yellow buckets and spades Thursday: We spent the morning working on the towpath and clearing balsam. After lunch we were finally able to begin pointing the wall after the correct mortar finally arrived. We also found an extra section of the tramway. After curry and lemon meringue pie we went to Paignton to go pokemon hunting as well as watching fireworks on the beach. Alex left us on Thursday but he also learnt a very important lesson to check camp before leaving so not to forget his toothbrush. Friday: On the Friday morning we said a fond farewell to the WI’s own Sue. We also cleared balsam and completed the towpath with the wacker. After lunch we continued pointing along the wall. Everybody new to canal camp of course got a ride in the digger before leaving site. On the return to camp we completed a kit check and packed everything away. The evening was finished with a BBQ. As many went to bed only a few remained (including George) to watch the shooting stars, or rather the lack of [Cook’s editing note: you weren’t looking hard enough, I definitely saw them]. L and K

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

R. Teign

page 29

Camp reports Stover Canal Stover Canal 13-20 August A couple of centuries ago, the southern fringe of Dartmoor must have echoed mightily to the rattle of tramway wagons thumping their way down to Ventiford. The ironwheeled wagons, chained together in trains of up to twelve, would have thudded and squealed and ground their way downhill, propelled by gravity, along a unique, uneven right of way constructed from L-shaped granite blocks (see Navvies 278, page 30, for a previous account of this wonder). Starting up on the moor at his Haytor quarries, the tramway was opened in 1820 by George Templer to carry blocks of granite down to Ventiford Basin, the northern terminus of the Stover Canal. Here a set of sidings and loops fanned out on both sides of the basin, in which wide-beamed flat-bottomed boats waited to carry cargoes down the valley to Jetty Marsh. Here a pair of locks took the boats into White Lake Channel and the River Teign, where their cargoes were transhipped into sea-going vessels. At Ventiford, at least one wooden crane, on the western side of the basin, was used in transferring material from wagon to boat. But by the time the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway, a broad-gauge line snaking up the valley from Teignmouth, arrived in 1862, the tramway had already been abandoned, and the railway finally severed its route and cannibalised some of its stone to construct bridges, rendering it obsolete. Although, because of its means of construction, much of its route across the moor survived and can be followed today, the now-isolated southern terminus of the tramway soon disappeared, as did the canal basin it served. For me, as a historical archaeologist, the Stover Canal, although only 2.7km long, represents a fascinating and important industrial archaeological “monument.” Dug in the early 1790s by James Templer, George Templer’s father, its principal original raison d’etre was ball clay, much in demand in the

page 30

...and on the second week, Ralph goes all archaeological and puzzles about the track layout of the Granite Tramway sidings alongside Ventiford Basin... potteries, dug from quarries along the Teign Valley. Clay quarries continued to provide a income to its lower reaches until 1939, but the canal was abandoned above Teignbridge in 1867 and it seems that clay cellars built at Ventiford may never have been used for their original purpose. So the activities of the Stover Canal Trust are therefore as much an archaeological excavation as a waterway recovery project. Of course, although WRG understandably tends to stress the mud, bricks and mortar aspects of its work, all Britain’s canals are linear archaeological sites. Stover underlines this by making visible not only the remains of the waterway but also traces of the vessels that used it (so far, four boat hulls have been discovered and excavated archaeologically at Ventiford), the cargoes that it carried (Ventiford Basin is surrounded by a deposit of clay, coal dust, lime and iron ore presumably dropped from wagons, and mislaid granite blocks littered the canal bottom), and the people who lived around it and worked on it (the foundations of several buildings have been found, and the area is thinly scattered with nineteenth century domestic material). Leading the second camp of a twoweek WRG operation in August was an interesting experience (it was the first time I’d played that role). I went there worrying that the first week’s camp would have polished off all the really fun jobs, or that they worked so hard that there would be nothing left for us to do, or that they had set such a high standard that the locals would look askance at my puny, by comparison, efforts. And then there were the two-weekers, who, having experienced Colin Hobbs’ tender ministrations, might wilt beneath my iron fist. All of my fears were baseless. The first week team had indeed achieved an impressive amount, but this was, after all, a canal, so there were still several km of enjoyable tasks left to tackle. With my Assistant Ben Thompson at my right hand, and George Whitehead, the Stover Canal Trust guru, in watchful attend-

Ralph Mills

ance, we were able to maintain the standards brilliant cook, Beverley Williams, who dethat Colin had established. We were a smaller lighted everyone with the quality, quantity than usual crew, which was fine, given the and style of her culinary skills. Bev took out cosiness of the accommodation. any angst she might have felt at the exEvelyne Laveaux from France, and tremely cramped conditions of the accommoHector Cedrun and Catalina Latre from dation kitchen by coming to the work site in Spain, who all stayed on from week one, the mornings and mercilessly attacking unmanaged cheerfully to survive a radical wary tree stumps. George Whitehead put up change of management, and, promoted with my endless demands and my obsession immediately to the rank of Old Hand, contin- with site tidiness (I may not have many ued to carry out a fantastic amount of work practical skills, but I am renowned for my and set us great examples. The international peerless piles of spare bricks and stones) and group was joined by Basile Coron from my many questions about a canal that was France. He and Hector formed a really strong new to me. and unstoppable partnership, seeking out the Our allotted tasks included continuing most demanding tasks with grim determina- the repair of several sections of collapsed tion. We enjoyed the company of Michelle retaining wall, in a few places to coping Carlyon for the first half of the camp, who stone level. One of the interesting features of made an enthusiastic and significant impact the basin is that it is not a great example of before having to return home “to have her stone masonry. It was constructed using boiler fixed” (at least that what was what she waste stone from the quarries, including a told us). And I must be mellowing, because mix of damaged or abandoned ashlar blocks Sarah and David Patey, having met and and random stonework. It was also built suffered alongside me on the Mon & Brec without using mortar, the stonework backed Canal a few weeks earlier, surprisingly hadn’t by clay, so in a way its restoration using lime been put off, and spent another productive mortar is inauthentic, though of course in week in my company. The same stoicism theory stronger and more waterproof than also applied to Andrew Thorp, who was a the original. We carried out a significant welcome and valuable returnee to my team amount of wall and gap cleaning and pointfor the umpteenth time. Chris Bushill not ing, digging out masses of tough roots and a only dug hard but also gave us a great pres- couple of tree stumps. We also paid some entation on the history of the Stover Canal attention to the tramway sidings, especially one evening (any errors in my version of the at their northern end. Stover Canal’s history are wholly mine, by I scratched my head over these sidings the way). Though Chris blotted his copyand what they suggest about the tramway book, or at least soaked my jeans, by pouroperations. The fact that there appear to be ing a pint of beer over me in the pub…I double-slip “points” and run-around loops of never did think of a task nasty enough to track, in my highly non-expert opinion, casts gain my revenge. Other Old Hands included David Williams, one of those people who is always hard at work in the thick of things, and Richard Tyler, who I think exceeded even his own expectations in his contributions to the week! Ben Thompson proved to be a great, unflappable Assistant Leader, making my job much easier, even selflessly demonstrating what happens when you drop a granite coping stone on yourself. An especially big Pointing the basin walls at Ventiford thank you has to go to my

page 31

Ralph Mills

doubt on one theory that the wagons, which which had reached a depth of almost 2m, presumably had flangeless wheels, were but I was becoming worried by the poor simply slid from the granite rails when they quality of the air, which was smelling more reached their destination. The network of and more of petrol, and decided that it sidings suggests that there were stationary should probably be tested and ventilated rows of wagons that had to be avoided and before any further work was carried out. shunted around. A fully-loaded wagon would As a child I had walked across John have been hard to move once off the rails, Rennie’s London Bridge in the early 1960s especially given that the ground surface and, a few decades later, crossed it in its around the basin was either cobbled or present unlikely location at Lake Havasu City, simply hard-standing. That the crane was on Arizona. So I had unknowingly twice before the opposite, “main-line” side of the basin encountered Haytor granite that had trundled raises more questions. Reconstructions and a down the Haytor tramway and passed surviving photograph suggest that the crane through Ventiford Basin, perhaps loaded on could not reach to the eastern edge of the the boat whose skeleton I gazed at this basin. Did this mean that loaded wagons summer, for granite from Templer’s mines were stored in the sidings before being was used in the construction of Rennie’s shunted to within reach of the crane? bridge. Given its patchy construction, And then there’s that mix of waste Ventiford Basin will never be a thing of wascattered amongst the sidings – it would be terway beauty, and any future through pasinteresting to see a chemical survey/analysis sage of vessels along the canal, assuming the of this area. Did different sidings cater for restoration of its five locks, would entail the different cargoes? We found evidence of either the removal or rebuilding of a railway micaceous iron oxide, which was used to bridge/embankment at Jetty Marsh. But once make “battleship grey” paint that was resistin water and perhaps seeing an occasional ant to corrosion. These materials may have trip boat, it will nevertheless be a fascinating been shipped at the same time as the granand worthwhile addition to British industrial ite: there was a magnetite mine at Haytor archaeology. I very much look forward to and a number of other mines around Bovey renewing my acquaintance with the Stover Tracey, and documentary evidence of ores Canal on some future WRG camp. and clay at the Ventiford wharf. Some may Ralph Mills merely be residues of building materials used in the construction of the railway. During the first week, Colin’s team had begun to empty a surprising cache of early twentieth century artefacts (a posh term for rubbish) from a nicely-lined pit that surrounded the upright wooden post of the cast-iron crane base on the western side of the basin. The pit had presumably been dug and kept filled with water to prevent the post drying out. After the canal was abandoned it was used as a rubbish pit, perhaps by the nearby inn and smithy, and it produced a mixture of bottles, cans, ironwork, bicycles, footwear, pottery and other domestic waste. Hector and Basile did Some of the granite tramway’s pointwork by Ventiford Basin a little more work in the pit,

page 32

Help run a Canal Camp in 2017! So you’ve got the t-shirt, you now appreciate the art of pointing… and more importantly you understand the importance of remembering the milk! But have you considered getting more involved? This year WRG are running 29 Canal Camps – which means we need nearly 90 volunteer leaders, assistant leaders and cooks. As a leader or assistant you need to be able to give up a week, have some experience of Canal Camps, and most of all be willing to look after 18 volunteers for a week. WRG’s leadership teams are responsible for making sure each canal camp is a fun-filled, enjoyable experience – they run the canal restoration site, organise social activities in the evenings, and ensure that everyone is still smiling by the end of the week! Without people volunteering to run canal camps they simply wouldn’t happen... We still need to find volunteers for the following roles:

Leaders Mon and Brec Canal Camp 22-29 July Chelmer & Blackwater Canal Camp 29 July-5 August North Walsham & Dilham Canal Camp 19-26 August Grantham Canal Camp 26 August-2 September

Assistant Leaders

Camps News Leaders Wanted Grantham Canal Camp 19–26 August Grantham Canal Camp 26 August-2 September Want to know more? Call Jenny Black for a chat on how you could get involved: jenny.black@waterways.org.uk or 01494 783 453 ext 604. Or come along to WRG’s Leaders Training Day on Saturday 13th May at Lapworth Village Hall. (see page 9)

Easter Camps update When we started putting this issue together we were all set to give you a preview of the Easter canal camps - and even went as far as getting leader Becky Parr to tell you what’s happening on the Grantham... The lock walls are going back, so that means the work’s going to be block laying, and bricklaying in lime mortar - building the four corners and the downstream walls for the gate opening quadrants - plus some breaking out for the stop plank grooves. So we could really do with some bricklayers. Zak ‘Squidge’ Scicluna is assisting me and it’s all going to be ace and groovy!

Mon and Brec Canal Camp 22-29 July Chelmer & Blackwater Canal Camp 29 July-5 August (to be confirmed) Lapal Canal Camp 29 July-5 August North Walsham & Dilham Canal Camp 19-26 August Grantham Canal Camp 26 August-2 September

However as we go to press we’ve just heard that the camp’s just about booked solid, so that’s all a bit academic unless there’s a late cancellation or two. But don’t worry, we’ve also got two weeks of Easter camps at Weymoor Bridge on the Cotswold Canals. We completely rebuilt the arch last summer, but that still leaves the approach ramps, plus Cooks (the most important person!) the canal channel and towpath under the bridge to be done. Lucy Blake and Chris Weymoor Bridge Canal Camp (Cotswolds) Byrne are your leaders from 8 to 15 April, when they hand over to David Evans and 8-15 April Maggie Eaton for 15 to 22 April. Mon and Brec Canal Camp 15-22 July Mon and Brec Canal Camp 22-29 July Chelmer & Blackwater Canal Camp 29 Family Camp update July-5 August ...and we’re sorry to say that the first Family Grantham Canal Camp 12-19 August Camp - a weekend aimed at those with North Walsham & Dilham Canal Camp children - is full too. But there will be more. 19-26 August

page 33

Navvies News Accident, Incident or Near Miss? The regular review of WRG’s accident reports is in progress and one thing has already shown up – people seem unsure of which form to use in each case. So here are the three different methods you can use to report an accident or incident in declining order of severity: Accident report: The most serious case; and this is where someone has been injured. An accident is defined as needing to use something out of the first aid kit or being taken to A&E/minor injuries unit. In this case fill in the accident book in the first aid kit and send the report to head office. Incident report: To be used where no one has been injured but where a piece of equipment (van, excavator, hired in kit etc.) has been damaged in any way and money will have to be spent to repair it. This form should also be used if anything is likely to result in an insurance claim. The incident forms are held in the flightcase or are available on the WRG website. George ‘Bungle’ Eycott also asks that if you notice anything wrong with one of the vans you let him know (bungle@wrg.org.uk) – this can be as minor as needing new light bulb or wiper blade or as vague as an “ominous clonk”. Near Miss: This is everything else! A near miss should be reported if a situation arises that has the potential to cause an accident/incident; for example tools or materials being left unsafe. A near miss can be reported using the cards supplied in the camp flightcase or using the incident form above. Points to remember: Be detailed in your report – this could be looked at by someone a few months later who is not as familiar with the site or job as you, diagrams are useful but please label them. You only need to fill in one type of report for each event – pick the most serious type of report that is relevant. Get the information to the right people – Head office is probably a good first step but for incidents involving site or kit the Local Society may need to be informed as well. Fill them in! – These reports are im-

page 34

mensely valuable and have led to major improvements in our way of working over the last few years (from self igniting Burcos to general wearing of safety specs). From experience, no blame is attached to reporting these type of events; you may just be asked for more information at a later date. Happy (and safe) digging! Ed Walker

Whose van is it? As I’m sure you’re aware, thanks to the success of our Appeal, we’re now in the process of replacing all four of the van / minibuses in our Canal Camps fleet with shiny new Iveco vehicles. As a result, we’re also in the process of gradually disposing of the four old Ford Transits. So firstly, could folks note that the one with the registration AZG which you could well see on site might look like a red WRG van, but it isn’t any more (the clue is that it’s lost its WRG signwriting!) It’s been bought by one of our volunteers for his own use. So please don’t assume it’s OK for you to (a) drive it (and especially to train drivers in it) or (b) fill it full of stuff. And secondly, we may well have another one for sale: contact Head Office if you’re interested.

Training weekend The annual WRG Training Weekend is now scheduled for 24-25 June. We’ll have more next time about how to book and what training will be on offer (first thoughts include a First Aid course), but as usual if people ask us for training on a particular skill, vehicle or piece of kit, we’ll try to arrange it.

And speaking of training... Don’t forget that the WRG Training Award is available to provide a contribution towards the costs of any professional training relating to volunteer work on the canals. We’ve just chipped in towards several volunteers’ chainsaw training, but it’s available for all kinds of training - for example we once gave a grant towards a project management course. But do please be aware that we will expect you to put in an application for a training grant before you do your training, rather than asking for your costs to be reimbursed retrospectively afterwards.

IWA’s Restoration Hub

And speaking of the last Navvies...

If Canal Camps aren’t for you, there are other ways to get involved in canal restoration… Your fundraising, marketing or project management skills could help restoration groups around England and Wales. As you might have read in Navvies, our parent body the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is stepping up the level of support it offers to the restoration movement and also working to improve the full nationwide coverage it gives to restoration projects. Part of the support IWA gives comes through the Restoration Hub which answers enquiries from restoration groups and acts as a co-ordinating point for all restoration enquiries, providing up to date guidance on restoration issues. An essential part of the Hub is its Panel of Experts who can be called upon to advise, offer experience, knowledge and time to restoration groups encompassing skills such as fundraising, engineering, environmental management, marketing and project management, amongst others. Over the next few months IWA is looking to grow the number of experts it can call upon to answer queries, visit restoration sites to offer advice and help us build our online technical and practical resources. If you are interested in getting more involved, then please email jenny.black@ waterways.org.uk or call to discuss the opportunities on 01494 783 453 ext 604. Jenny Black

...we’ve had a couple of contributions following up our ‘50 then and now pics’ feature. Firstly Dave Turner took us slightly to task for referring to No 8 as ‘Erewash Canal Great Northern Basin’. In fact although it effectively forms the terminus of the Erewash Canal today, what appears in the picture is historically Langley Bridge Lock, first lock of the Cromford Canal. The Erewash Canal came to an end 50 yards behind the photographer, while Great Northern Basin is out of shot to the right, and formed part of the Nottingham Canal which also used to join here - and whose toll house and swingbridge over its gauging lock are just visible on the right in the recent picture. Dave points out that not only is IWA holding its Festival of Water on the Erewash in August this year, but in May 2018 there will be a rally to mark 50 years of the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association and 45 years since the reopening of Langley Bridge Lock. “Why not see for yourself?” he adds. Indeed, why not? Meanwhile Jeremy Frankel draws our attention to No 23 Huddersfield Canal Dungebooth Lock, where I dated the old pic (by Ian Mac) as ‘early 1980s’ - but Jeremy puts at 1987, on the grounds that he appears to be in the picture. I’m not convinced. I think Dungebooth Lock was long completed by 1987, and if Jeremy was working on the Huddersfield, it would be at Diggle. Is the picture captioned for the wrong site? Or has Jeremy mistaken a picture of someone else for himself? We need to know!

Extra thanks... Can I add to the ‘thank yous’ in Martin’s editorial printed in issue 280 of Navvies... Thanks are also due to the ‘stuffers’ and the London Canal Museum for the continuing use of their facilities – of course more folks to do this task would be more then welcome. This usually takes place mid even months, and these days takes less than a couple of hours. And a big thank you to Martin for his great work as editor, long may it continue. Talking of which; Martin makes several comments as to the next 50 years of Navvies and what work etc we will be doing; one thing is very certain – I won’t be printing the edition to cover 100 years of Navvies, I think that I’ll have done enough by then!!! Some may say, “Hoorah, at least we’ll have a full copy with no blank or doubled pages”. John Hawkins

R.I.P. Sheila Nix MBE We are sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Sheila Nix of the Pocklington Canal has died, aged 96. Sheila was one of the founders of the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society back in the 1960s, edited its magazine Double Nine for over three decades, helped run its sales stall, served as Secretary and various other roles - and was our helpful work party contact when my regional group London WRG held its first (and possibly only) dig on the canal in the 1980s. She also did 50 years’ service as an active IWA member, supported other local canal groups, and received the MBE for services to inland waterways. Our sympathies to all who knew her.

page 35

Navvies News Running for WRG... Just in case you thought that with the success of the Appeal there would be no more mad fundraising, Matthew Rogers of the Cromford Canal (and canal camp leader George’s dad) is going one step further. Well, actually, some tens of thousands of steps...

sor me and donations will be quickly processed and passed to the IWA - and gift aid claimed where the donor is eligible. I really appreciate all your support and thank you for any donations. To support Matthew and WRG go to http://uk. virginmoneygiving.com/wrglondonmarathon

New arrivals...

Congratulations to Katy-Felicity Butler-Brown and Jimmy Butler on the arival of Joules Morzine Butler, on 26 January weighing 6lbs On 23rd April 2017 I will be running the 5.26oz; and to Kath Mortimer and Tom London Marathon on behalf of The Inland Rawlings on the arrival of Oliver Mortimer Waterways Association, with all money raised Rawlings, on 15 January weighing 7lb 13oz. going to Waterway Recovery Group. Over the past 10 years or so WRG and the Friends of Magazine wanted the Cromford Canal have worked together along with Derbyshire County Council to John Foley of WRG NorthWest is trying to restore sections of the canal and carry out track down a copy of the August 1988 issue of regular weekend removal of reeds from the Waterways World magazine - in particular he’s canal bed as part of the routine maintenance interested in an article by Patrick Moss on the necessary to maintain this manmade strucAberdeenshire Canal. He his happy to pay postture. Their assistance has been invaluable in age. If you can help. please contact John by maintaining momentum in the restoration of email to jfoley456@btinternet.com. the Cromford canal and I have very much enjoyed welcoming the teams back to my Tools and kit seek new home house for the end of camp BBQ (and rather large fires!!) along with cake baking to susThe Barnsley Dearne & Dove Canals Trust is tain their efforts! disposing of the following: As someone who grew up in south 2 drag rakes 2 tarpaulins 6ft x 4ft London and has sat and watched the maraSite safety sign Tarpaulin 4m x 5m thon every year since its inauguration in Small prising bar 26 7ft 6in galv. pilings. 1981 it has been on my “bucket list” but after Billhook 6 galv. channels 6” x 6” five unsuccessful entries a call from IWA 2-burner camping stove 5 wheelbarrows offering me a charity place is like a dream Wheelbarrow frame Large gas hob come true. Since 1999 I have lived next to 12 safety helmets 10 litre water container the Cromford canal in Whatstandwell and Game of skill: loop down a Kettle wavy wire. been a keen supporter of its restoration. For 3 shovels Bound copies of Waterways 2 cones a period I was chair of the trustees for the World’ in annual volumes. 4 plastic trestles FCC until I had to pass on the baton due to [John Foley might want the 1988 2 wrecking bars work commitments. one! ...Ed] 2 site signs This will not be my first marathon, I’ve 3 large notice boards Narrowboat Else and trailer., completed six now - three when I was a very 2 Jerry cans for petrol steel construction with young man and another three in my late removable canopy. Suitable 3 crowbars 30s/early 40s. After the last one I vowed for outboard. About 5m Yard brush long with very heavy duty Bow saw never to run another but my memory has trailer. Requires substantial 2 rakes forgotten the pain (and training injuries) so vehicle to tow. Pin hitch only. Grease gun at 51 we do it all over again! Carnival float in the form of Spade So now the hard work begins - both in a narrowboat called Tyke on 2 forks training and fundraising with a target of a trailer. Grafter £2000 to raise over the next few months. If The tools are free to canal restoration groups; you feel able I would welcome your support so please help! Through Virgin Money Giving the boat might be. If interested, please contact (a not-for-profit organisation), you can spon- Mike Silk at mikesue4304@gmail.com

page 36

Chesterfield Canal Trust wants as many people as possible to respond to the consulThe Chesterfield Canal Trust is appealing to tation, supporting the HS2 route change. all supporters of the restoration to help save The consultation is solely about this their canal restoration from being wrecked and a few other changes. You are not being by the HS2 high speed railway plans - by asked whether you want the line built at all. putting in individual responses to the current If you wish to support the Canal Trust in this consultation on HS2 before 9 March. way, respond to Question 7 of the consultaAs originally planned, the new line tion, saying you support the proposal to would obliterate several miles of canal under amend the route to serve South and West restoration between Staveley and Killamarsh. Yorkshire, because it does less damage to the This would make future reopening much Chesterfield Canal (or words to that effect). more difficult and expensive than it already is For help including links to the consulta- and waste the good work already done, tion, go to chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk and including our two WRG Reunions. the link to ‘HS2 consultation - please respond’. But last year, an alternative route was proposed which would entirely avoid this Bob Meadows R.I.P. part of the canal. However although it’s now We are sorry to have to bring you the news the Government’s ‘preferred’ option, this alternative hasn’t been formally adopted yet - that Bob Meadows of WRG NorthWest has died. An appreciation will follow in issue 282. and won’t be until there’s been a consultation.

HS2: Chesterfield needs your help!

The wrong tool for the right job? Decades ago, before I started to neglect my garden in favour of canals, gardening magazines contained adverts for some very weird gadgets. One that stayed in my mind was a ‘Contraption’ - I’ll use that word as I can’t remember what they called it which looked like a three-way hybrid of spade, pogo-stick and eighteenth century mantrap. The purpose was to give some spring-loaded assistance to digging the garden or perhaps smallholding. The only Contraption I have ever seen was at a local heritage centre in Alford (pronounced Afford, as in Trafford) in deepest rural Aberdeenshire. Why the interest? On ‘scrub bashes’, you don’t always need to bash, you may need to dig up or pull out – especially those whippy ash or sycamore saplings growing in the glorious leafmould of waterless canal beds. You know the sort – too well rooted to pull out, too thin to Tirfor, but growing by the dozen or hundred. In a few years, they produce a forest. When faced with these saplings, I have often remembered the Contraption – would it speed up the job, or would it be as useless as it looks bizarre? Was it introduced just before small, powered diggers and rotavators became affordable and claimed the market? Well, has anyone got one? Ever used one? Seen one for sale? Are they still made? Scope for a bit of research here, and if one can be found, I have the ideal trial site in mind. Nice sandy soil, well rooted saplings, friendly, well-known restoration group. Do let me or the editor know. John Foley

page 37

Infill Mud is fun! In the absence of our agony aunt and regular Backfill contributor Deirdre who can’t be with us this time, we have instead a selection of pictures for you this time. We start with this curious one sent in by John Hawkins. Presumably it’s his contribution to the new WRG catering Health & Safety toolbox talk, and our general raising of awareness of kitchen hygiene standards within WRG...

Sinking feeling... From kitchen hygiene to personal hygiene, and Bungle’s response to a piece by Deirdre last time... Following the recent back page section on washing in an accommodation with small sinks, and the suggestion to use the catering boxes, in the electrical team this is not a new process for us as this image from Pelsall last year shows…..

Dubai cake? That sounds like the first line of one of those dreadful joke questions (Jamaica? No, she went of her own accord) with a punchline of “No, I bake my own”. But in fact the picture shows a commemorative cake in the shape of the new Dubai Canal, which has been created at a cost of not far short of 1 billion quid. No, that’s the cost of the canal, I don’t know what the cake cost. Anyway, there’s a challenge to WRG’s cooks! All being well, Deirdre will be out of rehab in time to be able to answer your questions again next time

page 38


East Anglia

To go with our Go East feature (p10-15), some more pictures of East Anglian restorations, starting with this year’s canal camp project, a big spillweir to rebuild on the North Walhsam & Dilham River Stour Trust trip boat at Flatford

‘Mathematical Bridge’ on the Ipswich & Stowmarket

New restoration: the Halesworth Navigation’s New Reach section

page 39

page 40

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 281  

Navvies 281 - WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the canals.

Navvies 281  

Navvies 281 - WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the canals.