Page 1

volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Go Welsh Focus on canals of Wales

KESCRG celebrates 40 years with a party and dig

waterway recovery group

Issue No 282 April-May 2017 page 1



Our friends in Kescrg celebrate their 40th birthday this year with a party and dig at Inglesham - see page 9. Here are a selection of pictures of the group at work and play

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 Chairman: More new vans, and more about the Restoration Hub 4-6 Coming soon the WRG Training Weekend 7 Kescrg celebrate 40 years with a party 8-9 Go Welsh! Special feature on canal restoration projects in Wales 10-16 Dig Report WRG North West on the Montgomery Canal 17 Bob Meadows An appreciation 18 WRGBC Boat Club News 19 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies 20-25 Progress our regular roundup 26-29 Camp report Chelmer & Blackwater 30-31 Camp leadership First timer’s report 32-33 Camp report Cotswold Christmas 34-35 Navvies News 36-37 Infill 38 BCN Clean Up 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 283: 1 May.

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. Please pay cheques to "The Inland Waterways Association". This is a minimum subscription, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.

Cover Picture: The BCN Clean Up (report next time) Back cover: Five of the canals covered in our Welsh feature this time: Neath Canal at Clyne (top), Swansea Canal at Pontardawe (centre left), Ynysangharad Locks, Glamorganshire Canal (centre, pic by Fran Burrell), Pontypool, Mon & Brec (centre right), Montgomery, Welshpool (bottom). Uncredited photos are by the editor

page 3

Chairman ...on vans and the Hub

MKP explains a bit more about what the Inland Waterways Association’s Restoration Hub is all about...

Chairman’s Comment It’s finally all done – we have taken delivery of our second pair of new vans. They are being racked out as I type this and you should soon start to see them on sites around the country, though seeing as they are exactly the same as the previous two, only the most avid WRG van spotter will be able to work out which is which. So, from all of us, can I offer a massive thanks to all who have helped achieve this massive boost to our work. Over the next few years we will all try and remember your generosity as we enjoy reliable transport to get volunteers, tools and materials to where they need to be. This is, of course, the Chairmans polite way of reminding all our volunteers, whether in the front, middle or back of the van to take care of our new vans. We need them to last many, many years so please – no dents, no accidents, no stupidity. Unfortunately, because dealing with the WRG transport fleet is always a bit of a Forth Bridge job, we have discovered that probably next year we are going to have to replace our oldest trailer (Trailer B). A combination of rusting chassis and decaying electrics mean it’s not really repairable. To be fair it has lasted 20 years of bouncing tools from site to site, so it’s certainly paid its way. Obviously the cost of a new trailer is nowhere near as expensive as a van, but it’s still going to make a dent in the funds. We discovered the situation with this trailer while Bungle, Phil and Digger were carrying out the annual service of all our Camps trailers. It’s not just the vans that get checked over; every year the trailers get stripped down, wheels off, everything lubricated, checked, aligned, replaced, etc. It’s just another one of the backroom tasks that many people don’t see, but which is crucial to making sure all our activities actually happen as we planned them to. We have enough ‘unknowns’ in our work on site as we try and guess how they constructed a bridge/wall/lock (delete as applicable) and how we should therefore patch it up/take it down/leave it alone/build another one alongside (again – delete as applicable). With all this uncertainty, we need to be quite sure that the trailer with the tools is going to make it to us from the previous site. More about trailers a bit later on when I have a whinge – but that’s later on, I’m still being positive this high up the page. One of the things I’m particularly positive about is the changes that are happening within the Inland Waterways Association (our parent organisation) regarding restoration. Last year the IWA announced it was going to form a Restoration Hub to try and fill a bit of a void regarding coordination between restoration schemes. To be honest it was a bit of a twinkle in the eye when it was announced, however with some gentle but consistent work throughout the year it is now shaping up to fill this void. The Restoration Hub has got three main threads: it aims to support, enable and champion the restoration movement. So the supporting bit is pretty straightforward: it’s just providing appropriate advice and guidance, though the central, coordinating element of the Hub will be key here, as they will be able to see what problems are common across many sites and offer recommendations to IWA about what steps could be taken to rectify these problems. As a starter you should be seeing more resources being made available, such as training schemes being offered for a whole range of skills, together with some extra videos on best practice for various key elements of restoration. Next there is the enabling bit: well, obviously WRG volunteers are one of the key components here, together with all those IWA branch volunteers working on restoration, but there is also a whole range of technical help – with advice and site visits from the appropriate expert for the current ‘stumbling block’ and, perhaps, just a little bit of funding help as

page 4

well – see elsewhere in this issue for the wonderful news about the Tony Harrison legacy and what it will mean for restoration. Then finally there is the championing element – this is something that has really been missing for some time, ever since the demise of IWAC (the government sponsored body for waterways) in fact. Since then, nobody has really been championing waterway restoration at a strategic national level. Put simply every society, although often doing well when it comes to the big issues, is fighting its own corner in its own space. What is needed is something to join them all up and fight at the top level. This is now being addressed with the formation by IWA of a High Level Restoration Panel. Basically it’s a group comprising about 30 of the top problem solvers within the restoration world. Every six months or so they come together to discuss a challenge given to them by IWA and, once they have had an hour or two to discuss it, they take the most appropriate half dozen or so members from the group and actually address it. Now obviously most times this is going to generate a report – which doesn’t sound very exciting or dynamic – indeed it sounds just like what IWAC used to do. But those reports from IWAC were actually really useful, indeed they were (and still are, they are on the IWA website) a really useful tool for individual societies to show to people that they were dealing with that there was a wider national picture. Equally they were a good tool for the whole movement to get behind and challenge policy makers at the highest level. It will be interesting to see if this new arrangement manages to produce the goods and fill this significant gap in the restoration scheme. So what does any of this mean for all you people who have just dusted off your boots and are looking forward to getting out on site and actually digging it up/laying it down/ pointing it up/cutting it down (delete as applicable)? Well in reality it shouldn’t mean very much – the whole point of WRG is that we put a lot of effort into sorting things out so that external changes don’t affect you – you can just keep on doing what you enjoy doing. But here are a couple of thoughts for you: If the profile of restoration is going to be raised up above the parapet so that the big decision makers can see it, then it’s really important that everyone acts as a proper exemplar. The work we are going to do this year has to be the very best. And just to be clear: that doesn’t mean quantity, it means quality. So, although in a sense we are under a bit more pressure, it’s the sort of pressure that we actually like – it’s to do a job well, not to do more jobs. Also, if we are to keep up with the quality then we do need to do more training. Now WRG has always done pretty well with training ‘on the job’. It’s what we do and it suits us. But we are also going to need to run some dedicated courses and we have always struggled a little with this. Mainly I think because people always think either “If I go on a (say) bricklaying course then that’s it, I’m bricklaying for the rest of my digging career” or “I’d like to do it, but there’s bound to be lots of people more worthy than me, so I won’t sign up”. Both of these are not really true. Latest addition to the fleet: a gleaming new R10RFB awaits its first tour of duty Just having the

page 5

skills and knowledge on site is what we are after, you don’t have to get stuck (say) bricklaying - knowing what’s needed to put together a decent wall will make you a better mixer, or brick supplier or whatever. And the same for the second argument – if you dig with us then you are worthy, full stop. We are happy to make the investment anyway, we are certain that it will be worthwhile so please do sign up. Thirdly, if IWA is going to do a good job promoting the big issues then it needs to know what the issues are. Learn about scaffolding on the training weekend - see opposite Key to this is making sure the Restoration Hub knows what the issues are, as it is the Restoration hub that will make recommendations to IWA trustees about what should be championed and addressed next. Now, we are off to a really good start with this as we do see Jenny and Alex on site with us an awful lot but they can’t be there all the time. So, while NOT suggesting that everyone should be bombarding Head Office with phone calls after every dig it is important that we collect thoughts, feelings and, most importantly, frustrations with the current scene. So please keep up with the feedback. We do tend to get a debrief from each camp leader after their event but obviously if you keep your thoughts bottled up from them then we can’t do anything about it. There are lots of ways of feeding back (including the pages of Navvies – so keep writing in). Finally – all this extra effort is going to come with a price. I’m not going to dwell on this as I hope to discuss this with a more detailed article on restoration funding soon, but it will cost. Currently we are using legacy funds to fund this increased effort but that is not a bottomless pit. I know I promised a whinge about trailers but actually I think I’ll keep that till the next Navvies as the timing will be more appropriate. Plus there is a really nice whisky waiting for me when I finish this article, the sun has just come out here in Islay, and I think it will be better to finish on a positive. Namely that all the Camp bookings are looking good, the Easter Camps are powering ahead on two sites right now, we have some new interesting projects this summer (with a few more being developed in time for 2018) and there is a whole summer of fun, festivals and digging awaiting for us. Let’s get to it! Mike Palmer PS - Just for the avoidance of doubt – the IWA trustees would be very miffed with me if I did not make clear that all of this extra restoration stuff is just that – extra. All the usual navigation functions of IWA will continue as well. The stuff we have already got and enjoy will still be protected – this restoration effort is an additional output from IWA. PPS – At the Bonfire Bash last year a couple of people made the suggestion that we should move it earlier in the year to take advantage of the daylight. It’s not the first time that this has been suggested but we did ponder it again, as we too are frustrated with packing up at 16.30. The truth is that one of the primary purposes of the Reunion is to be able to finalise our Camps schedule for the following year with a decent estimation of what work each Camp will comprise. We can then sign up a significant number of our leaders there and then. We just don’t have those details to hand any earlier, so if we did hold the event earlier we would have to try and recruit for the following year via piecemeal methods. So although November is not ideal for that event, it’s very much ideal for the overall Camps programme.

page 6

Book now for the WRG Training Weekend, and the Bonfire Bash. Oh yes, and for a whole summer of canal camps in between...

Coming soon... Training Weekend and more

Leader Training Day: Saturday 13 May, Lapworth Village Hall Second call for the annual WRG Leaders Training Day. Plans have come together nicely and the day will start with bacon sarnies and coffee from 10am, proceedings start at 10.30am. We have a number of interesting subjects to cover including buried services, site permissions, feedback from last year’s camps, the usual health and safety updates and some topics on upskilling and caring for your volunteers and the leadership team. Lunch is included and we plan to knock off at about 5pm although discussions do continue over dinner (also included) and in the pub. These are still rough plans and it is not too late to add whatever burning topic is on your mind. Accommodation is available in the hall on Saturday evening and breakfast on the Sunday. If any budding or experienced camp cooks would like to join us that would be great as we are hoping to run a cooks section in the afternoon as well (led by Harri Barnes). To book on (it’s free!) please contact Jen at head office jenny.black@waterways.org.uk, 01494 783453 remembering to let her know when you’ll be there (particularly if you are planning on staying overnight) and what dietary requirements you have. An idea of interest for the cooks sections would also be useful. Ed Walker ed.walker@wrg.org.uk

WRG Training Weekend, 24-25 June Cotswold Canals This year the WRG Training Weekend will be based at Brimscombe Port, with overnight accommodation available. As usual we will be aiming to provide training most appropriate to the work on the summer’s Canal Camps - and in particular we hope to offer training in bricklaying, scaffolding, driving vans, small excavators, dumpers, operating site tools including bricksaws, pumps and CAT scanners, and First Aid. But as ever, if there’s something you want to be trained on whether it’s vehicle or plant operation, manual skills or anything else, we’ll try to help - especially if there’s a group of you, and even more so if you get in touch with us as soon as possible. To find out more or to book your place, contact Head Office on 01494 783453 or enquiries@wrg.org.uk, or register your interest via the WRG website.

WRG North West week on the Montgomery: sometime in July Following the success of their weekend working party on the Mont when they started work on removing a key obstacle to restoration, the former railway embankment at Pant (see page 17), WRG North West are planning to return for a mini-camp to complete the job sometime between 8 and 23 July (dates not finalised as we went to press). All volunteers are welcome: contact Ju Davenport at julia.davenport@sky.com.

And then... lots of summer Canal Camps! ...but some of them are filling up fast, so get your bookings in soon to avoid disappointment!

And finally... WRG Reunion, Uttoxeter Canal: 4-5 November We’re hoping to make it a really good one this time - more information in the next issue.

page 7

Kescrg... ...celebrates 40 years

Mobile working party group Kescrg reaches its 40th anniversary this year - and you’re all welcome to come and celebrate at the birthday dig!

has a free weekend once in a while is very welcome to come and play... This year - or possibly late last year dependSo what have we been up to reing exactly on how you measure it (but given cently? Well, we’ve had a strong involvethat only Roy can remember that far back ment on the Cotswold canals, both at the we’ve just taken a punt) - Kescrg has Stroud end and at Inglesham. Several weekachieved its big Four-zero! ends were spent last winter scrub-bashing Kes-who?! Kescrg are a weekend above Wallbridge in Stroud on a section that visiting group, very much like London WRG, is now dredged and in water – a very reBITM, WRG NW, Essex WRG and Newbury warding sight to see an area that we and Working Party Group – we exist to organise several other groups worked on transformed weekend working parties on various restora- so quickly into proper canal. tion projects, generally in the southern half Our summer camp (a WRG camp that of the country to provide labour for the local we lead and our volunteers congregate on) trusts. We are a separate (and very much was at Inglesham, where we removed the smaller) self-funding Charity to IWA and WRG remnants of the bottom gates, did the final with our own tools and equipment - however couple of inches of chamber clearance and most of our regular diggers also dig with one started the process of pointing and scaffoldor more of the WRG weekend groups, and ing along with some work in the fore-bay of indeed pretty much all of the 30+ individuals the lock, followed by our October weekend who have been on weekend digs with Kescrg in there continuing the brick- and block-laying the last year will also have been on several on the offside wall and putting the site to WRG Camps or dig weekends. In fact quite a bed for winter. Again a great site with lots of few of our weekends are run jointly with progress from all you lot in the intervening London WRG - so, organisationally we are couple of months. separate, but personnel-wise we are firmly in Elsewhere we spent a very damp winter the WRG family, and everyone who digs and weekend clearing rhododendrons from the offside of the Basingstoke Canal through Frimley – an interestingly different take on a dig weekend making a contribution to the navigability of an open stretch of canal rather than a muddy ditch. We have also been out on the Thames marshes, helping to clear the line of the historically interesting Thames & MedKescrg on the Cotswold - for more pics of Kescrg, see inside front cover way Canal, and in

Kescrg at 40

page 8

May revisited the Whitehouses Pumping Station site on the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal, this time to investigate and clear the cellar of the old cottage formerly attached to the pumping station, a very interesting piece of canal archaeology. Finally we made a couple of visits to help Dave Evans out at Compass Bridge on the Wey & Arun, another really well-run project showing impressive results – it is great to know you can barrel up for a weekend and be able to make a positive contribution, with all the hard work and organisation going on behind the scenes taken care of. To mark our 40th anniversary year, we are planning to focus much of our work this year at Inglesham, running several weekends there over the course of the year to complement the string of WRG summer camps, one of which we will be running – this year to be ably led by Mark (‘Mk2’) and Thomasina. We hope that making a strong contribution to the restoration of this ‘gateway lock’ to the Cotswold Canals will be a

suitable way to celebrate the group’s anniversary - and to kick all of this off we are running a long weekend over the late spring bank holiday (26-29 May), aiming to be onsite from Friday to Monday with a focus for the merriment on the Saturday evening in Brimscombe Port. Everyone is very welcome to join us for this, whether you used to dig with Kescrg, do dig with Kescrg, want to dig with Kescrg, or just like beer (or cider) and mud. To book on see the booking form below or contact Jenny at IWA Head Office. The other Inglesham weekend digs we are planning are 17-18 June, 9-10 September and 7-8 October: put them in your diary if you want to get involved with this project, and for details nearer the time keep an eye on our facebook group, get Jen at IWA head office to add you to the Kescrg mailing list, or see our website – everybody is welcome to dig with us, we have no membership, just a common aim and enthusiasm! Stephen Davis

Save the Date – 26-29 May 2017 – KESCRG 40th Birthday Party and Dig To celebrate KESCRG’s 40th birthday we are organising a weekend dig over the late spring bank holiday (26th-29th May) based at Brimscombe Port on the Cotswold Canals, working at Inglesham Lock. If we have lots of people we will also speak to Jon Pontefract about also having a team working at the Stroud end of the canal. The dig will run for FOUR DAYS from Thursday evening to Monday afternoon... or any period in between that you can make, with a PARTY on the SATURDAY NIGHT celebrating 40 years of KESCRG... which will include beer (we’re thinking of planning a mini KESCRG real ale beer festival), laughs and plenty of good food (from Eli and Anne)! Cost per day is £8 – if you are staying for the Saturday night party please include an additional £2.50.

KESCRG 40th Birthday Party and Dig I would like to attend the Kescrg birthday party and dig at Inglesham on 26-29 May Name:__________________ email:_________________________________________ Address:_______________________________________________________________ Dietary requirements:):_____________________________________ Dates (please circle days you will be on site) Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday 40th anniversary KESCRG T-shirt (*new* design by Mole) (add £10) – Yes / No T-shirt size (s/m/l/xl/xxl) __________________________ Cheque enclosed (£8 per day, £2.50 extra for Sat eve, payable to KESCRG) £_________ Any other relevant info ___________________________________________________ Please send cheque and form to: KESCRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA

page 9

Go Welsh! a Navvies special feature Wal e Eng s land

In the last issue of Navvies, our special feature looked eastwards, to the waterways of East Anglia. This time we’re setting our sights in the opposite Welsh direction, and focusing on the waterWaterways ways of Wales - two of which are Llangollen hosting Canal Camps this year, while Canal another looks set to benefit as a result of some WRG weekend work on the English side of the border. But first an introduction to Welsh canals. Roughly speaking, there are two Montgomery Canal areas of Wales that have been served by waterways, and in two different ways... Firstly there are the canals of South Monmouthshire Wales: each one ran down a different val& Brecon Canals ley, linking coal miles to ironworks and Neath and other industries, and to one of the ports Tennant Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and so on. They Canals Swansea were each largely self-contained, didn’t link Canal to the national network, or in many cases even to each other (indeed they used different sizes of locks from other canals), and while they were extremely busy and sucKidwelly & cessful in the early days they didn’t last Llanelly Glamorganshire long. And once the trade had ended, genCanal Canal erally in the early 20th Century, they tended to suffer quite badly as a result of their routes running along narrow, fairly heavilypopulated and industrial valleys with not much space to spare. So chunks of the Monmouthshire, Swansea and Glamorganshire canals all disappeared under new roads in the 1970s, making restoration much harder. On the other hand, their narrow channels hugging the sides of the deep valleys fo make for some very attractive waterways with a particular South Wales character of their own (albeit also with a slight tendency to slide down the hillside in some spectacular bursts over the years!) - and the success of the restored lengths of the Monmouthshire & Brecon shows that not being part of the national network needn’t be a problem. By contrast, the other group of Welsh waterways is much more familiar to those of us used to the main national network and the Midland narrow boat. It consists of the two branches of the Shropshire Union system which reached into Wales - the Llangollen Canal which needn’t concern us here as it’s already navigable (although it was a bit of a close-run thing around the 1950s); and the Montgomery Canal, which branched off the Llangollen at Frankton (OK, the history is actually a lot more complex than that), and headed south westwards for 30-odd miles into the heart of mid-Wales to end at Newtown.

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canals between them form a main line that follows the Usk valley from Newport all the way to Brecon, and a branch that turns off at Malpas and heads up the Ebbw valley to Crumlin. Or rather, they did. When restoration began in the 1960s (not long after the final section was abandoned), work concentrated on the more scenic and less badly damaged north western parts of the main line, opening it up from Brecon through

page 10

r Usk Rive

to Pontypool. It’s Length: originally 56 miles, Monmouthshire been much slower 48 navigable or under to be reopened progress south& Brecon Locks: originally 80, wards since then, 56 navigable or to be reopened. Canals but demolished Opened: 1796-1812 Closed: 1870s-1960s road bridges and The Monmouthshire Canal opened in 1796 Restored to other obstructions from Newport to Pontnewynydd above Brecon 35 miles have been dealt Pontypool, with a branch to Crumlin opened with, opening the 5 Five Locks three years later. The Brecknock & route as far as the 3 Abergavenny was completed from Pontypool north side of Cwm3 Cwmbran to Brecon in 1812, and later the two canals bran. Here the 204 Road built amalgamated. Initially the canals prospered mile level pound on canal line thanks to many horse tramcomes to an end, To Crumlin ways built linking them with and the steep de(obliterated) mines, but railway competition Canal Camp scent through 30 Cwmcarn led to the decline of traffic. site: Ty-Coch locks into Newport The canals were abandoned begins. It’s also The Main Line in stages from the where the real New link through Newport and 1870s to the problems begin: proposed the Crumlin Arm above early 1960s. there are demolCr Cwmcarn have been um Malpas ished locks, flatlin obliterated and are not felt A Fourteen r tened bridges, capable of restoration. So the aim m Locks infilled lengths and is to restore the main line from Malpas Newport a quarter mile that through Cwmbran to join the already Newport length was used for the restored section to Brecon, the Arm as obliterated Cwmbran Drive new To the Bristol far as Cwmcarn, and to create a new link main road built in Channel from Malpas to the Usk and so to the Severn estuary. the 1970s. So for much of the last 20 years, restoration work led by the Monmouthshire Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust has concentrated on a couple of slightly less badly damaged lengths, working upwards from the junction at Malpas both on the main line and on the Crumlin Arm. The work on the Arm has involved volunteers (including WRG) rebuilding the top lock of the Fourteen Locks flight (with four more locks subsequently rebuilt thanks to a Lottery grant) as well as working on several locks between the Fourteen and the junction. Meanwhile work on the Main Line has seen the first three locks from Malpas reopened (and hosting trailboat festivals), followed by the major Ty-Coch Locks ‘Waterworks’ Lotteryfunded volunteer and training project to restore eight more locks towards Cwmbran. This is where most of our canal camps in recent years have been based, and with the project recently extended to include two more locks, it’s where we’ll be working this summer. Camp 2017-10 on 22-29 July will be a ‘normal’ restoration camp but camp 2017-08 on 15-22 will be an ‘archaeological camp’ spent excavating and recording the site of historic canalrelated buildings by the locks. Once these locks are complete, there will be less than two miles to restore to link up with the navigable length north of Cwmbran. An expensive two miles, admittedly, but everything we do to narrow the gap will improve the chances of the funding Ty-coch Locks see their first boat, 2016 being found to do the job.

page 11

Swansea Canal From the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canals we head 50 miles westwards to the Swansea Canal - but we’re still in the South Wales Valleys, the idea of the canal (straight down the valley from pit to ironworks to port) was very similar - and so are the problems that its restorers now face. Just like the Monmouthshire, the Swansea occupied a valley (in this case the valley of the River Tawe) where space was at a premium, and much of it has disappeared since it was abandoned. The upper sections were largely flattened by improvements to the A4067, the main road up the valley, and the lower Trebanos Locks, work site for this year’s Swansea camp.

Swansea Canal

Neath Canal

Length: originally 16 miles, 6 to be restored Locks: originally 36, 9 on length proposed for restoration. Opened: 1798 Closed: 1920s-1960s

Length: 13 miles Locks: 19 Opened: 1795 Closed: 1934

Ne at h

Ca na l

Abercraf The Swansea Canal opened in 1798 The Neath Canal ran down the and ran down the valley from Abercraf Neath Valley from Glynneath to Swansea Docks. It was busy and Parts of upper via Neath to Briton Ferry. profitable for most of the 19th section lost under Opened in 1795, it Century, but declined rapidly A4067 road served thecoal in the 20th Century with the Godre’r-graig Glynneath mines and last cargo carried in 1931. l a ironworks of the Since abandonment, an C valley throughout the much of the upper a se 19th Century but by the and lower lengths n a early 20th Century it was in has been lost, Sw Resolven Pontardawe decline, and trade had almost died but the middle out by 1921. Navigation ended in six miles Canal Camp site: Ynysarwed 1934 but by then the canal was survive. Trebanos Locks supplying water to local industries, so Clydach most o it survived as a water chanAberdulais nel and is available for restoration. Lower section Aqueduct Tonna mostly lost Tennant Canal under Swansea Neath

Length: 8 miles Locks: 2 Opened: 1824 Closed: 1930s Proposed diversion Swansea nal t Ca Docks n a n Ten

page 12

Unlike almost all other South Wales canals, the privately-built Briton Tennant opened in 1824 didn’t just follow a valley, it also ran Ferry along the coastal plain, linking the Neath Canal to Swansea Docks. Like the Neath, it survived largely intact as a water supply to industry, making restoration more straightforward.

lengths have mainly disappeared under new development as Swansea city has expanded. In between are about six miles of relatively unobstructed waterway from Godre’r-graig via Pontardawe to Clydach, and not surprisingly that’s where Swansea Canal Society has concentrated its efforts so far. Note that I said ‘relatively’ - there are still serious challenges to be dealt with, but there’s been some good progress recently with a former council yard built on the line of the canal having been vacated enabling a missing length to be reinstated. One of the main worksites has been Trebanos Locks, and that’s where Camp 2017-06 on 8-15 July will be working, with the tasks including stonework pointing, rebuilding wing walls, clearing the bottom of the lock chamber, re-laying the gate quadrants, and generally getting the locks ready to put gates in - because the Canal Society has set itself a challenge of getting the locks ready to host an IWA National Trailboat Festival there in 2019. For the longer term, the aim is to create a new route for the lower end of the canal, eventually reconnecting it to Swansea and to the Tennant Canal - see below.

Neath and Tennant Canals A few miles east of the Swansea Canal is the Neath Canal, another characteristic South Wales valley canal, and scene of a great deal of successful restoration work over the years, including some input from WRG. Two considerable lengths of the canal have been restored - one uphill from Resolven via seven restored locks for most of the way towards Glynneath, and a second from Neath via four restored locks and the rebuilt Ynysbwllog Aqueduct to Ynysarwed, scene of the 2011 National Trailboat Festival which WRG supported. The Neath & Tennant Canal Trust hopes to link these lengths together and eventually open the canal all the way from Briton Ferry to Glynneath - but several serious obstructions remain including lowered road bridges. As you might guess from their name, they also want to open the Tennant Canal, which joins the Neath Canal just east of Aberdulais Aqueduct, a major stone-built structure in need of some repair. But that isn’t the only issue: the Tennant is still run by the original company which up to now has maintained it for water supply to industry - this has helped the canal survive remarkably intact, but so far has meant that it hasn’t been possible to agree on proposals to reopen it to boats. However discussions in recent years have led to some hopes of progress - which would be good news, as it ties in with a scheme involving all the local canal groups including the South Wales branch of WRG’s parent body the Inland Waterways Association: the Swansea Bay Inland Waterway. This would consist of:

. . . .

Reopening the Tennant Canal from the Neath Canal through to Swansea Docks. Connecting the docks to the River Tawe by a new lock to avoid having to enter the tidal water of Swansea Bay. Creating a new navigable route from Swansea to Clydach, making use of the River Tawe, the Fendrod Stream, Fendrod Lack and new lengths of canal, to bypass the missing lower sections of the Swansea Canal. Creating a new link from the Tawe into the Swansea Canal at Clydach.

The Tennant Canal’s Aberdulais Aqueduct is a vital link in the route from the Neath to the Swansea

page 13

In combination with completing the lengths of the Neath and Swansea canals proposed for restoration, this would create a navigable route totalling 37 miles, which would be longer than the currently navigable length of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals, and is seen as capable of succeeding as a local waterways network.

Glamorganshire and Aberdare Canals Between the canals of the eastern valleys (Mon & Brec) and those of the western valleys (Neath / Tennant / Swansea) lies the Taff Vale, running from Merthyr Tydfil down to Cardiff, and site of one of South Wales’ most commercially successful canals - the Glamorganshire. Unfortunately by ‘site of’, I mean that a large amount of it isn’t there any more. Sadly, out of all the canals in South Wales, this was the one which has suffered the most from new road construction: when the new A470 was built through the valley in the 1970s, it used the canal for long lengths. Driving along it today, you can actually tell where some of the Interesting garden ornament at Abercynon staircases of locks were from the changing gradients of the road. It would take a real optimist even by the standards of canal restorers to see it as a prospect for full reopening. But despite this, there are several fragments which have survived or been preserved. These include the odd bridge near Merthyr; several miles from there southwards which (although partly infilled with a pipe laid in the canal bed) can be walked or cycled as part of th Taff Trail; a former aqueduct that’s now a road bridge at Abercynon, a short length including a pair of staircase locks under restoration near Pontypridd, a stretch in water that’s been retained as a nature reserve near Whitchurch, a canal bridge used as a pedestrian subway in Cardiff, and a lock that a home owner has partially rebuilt as a garden ornament in Abercynon. And those are just the bits I found... There’s not a huge amount left of the Aberdare Canal (which branched off the Glamorgan at Abercynon) either - but a few yards survive in water as a nature reserve a little way down the valley from Aberdare. Again, you may be able to find more traces.

Kidwelly & Llanelly Canal The last of the main South Wales canals is another where I haven’t yet heard of any major restoration plans - perhaps not surprisingly, as it was turned into a railway line in the 1860s. But it did feature Wales’ only three inclined plane boat lifts, some fragments of the canal have been preserved, the railway has now closed, and if anyone knows of any restoration plans, Navvies would be delighted to hear about them.

page 14

Montgomery Canal Length: 33 miles Locks: originally 26, 1 new lock added Opened: 1796-1821 Closed: 1936 (abandoned 1944)

To Llangollen Frankton Junction and Locks Aston Locks Maesbury

Llangollen Canal to Hurleston * I`•ñ`‰ `l O^pw T :@`yD V p _ |w<Sa2L8W C kxX Q < „o b ‹•,{N ‘i•g 5vG Q ,`i )?"KP6CV/

Gronwen Bridge (current limit of navigation) Crickheath What we call the Montgomery was built in four School House Bridge Pant sections as the Ellesmere Canal (a short Llanymynech (to be restored) length of the main line and the Carreghofa WRG work site: Llanymynech branch), Montgomeryshire Locks Vyrnwy railway crossing Canal and Montgomery Canal (Western (restored) Aqueduct Branch) and opened from Frankton to 1 mile navigable Arddleen Newtown between 1796 and 1821. By the through Burgedin 1850s it all became part of the Shropshire Union Llanymynech Locks Railways and Canal Company’s system, which in 4 road blockages turn became part of the London & North Westbetween Llanymynech ern Railway in a series of amalgamations and and Arddleen takeovers. Despite the railway ownership the canal continued to be worked Welshpool 12 mile isolated restored hard (largely because it reached navigable length from into the rival Great Western Railway’s Arddleen through territory) until the 20th Century. Welshpool to Refail However by the 1920s it was in decline, and when it burst Berriew its banks below Frankton in Refail 1936, the owners (by then the 3 locks restored but London Midland & Scottish Railway) several road blockages didn’t think it worth repairing. remain south of Refail In 1944 the LMS abandoned Final length into Newtown obstructed by much of their canal system sewer in canal bed, terminus basin built on, including the Montgomery. possibility of diversion to new terminus Newtown

Montgomery Canal That brings us to our final major canal, which I’ve kept until last for two reasons: firstly because it’s the only one not in South Wales; secondly because it means that the end of this article leads neatly on to a dig report from WRG North West’s recent exploits there. For many WRG volunteers, the Mont will need no introduction - but I’m going to include one anyway, because despite it being a popular WRG site for many years, we haven’t been there very much recently. But all that may well change... Anyway, I’d better start with a bit of an apology: I’m afraid I’ve cheated very slightly by including this in a Welsh feature, as despite its name, and despite it serving such Welsh places as Welshpool and Newtown, almost all of WRG’s work there (except in the very early days) has been on the English sections. We worked at Frankton Locks (where it leaves the Llangollen Canal) in the 1970s and 80s, at Aston Locks and adjacent nature reserve (without which we wouldn’t be allowed to open the canal to boats, under the various agreements between wildlife interests and other bodies) from the 1980s to the late 1990s, and we’ve worked at various sites south of there - Maesbury, Crickheath, Gronwen - since then. But meanwhile, a 12-mile continuous restored length in Wales (working outwards in both directions from Welshpool, where a Big Dig in 1969 kickstarted the restoration) has now been opened up from Arddleen all the way to Refail, our friends in the Shropshire Union Canal Society have pushed on and restored several isolated locks beyond there, heading towards Newtown, and a shorter length has been reopened right on the border at Llanymynech. And now, the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust has launched a major

page 15

Restoration target: the Montgomery Canal crosses the Welsh border at Llanymynech

push to get the canal open from the current limit of navigation at the English end at Gronwen Bridge to the Welsh border. Much of that consists of the ‘Pant dry section’ a length which hasn’t held water since the canal closed, and where SUCS have already done a great deal of work on re-lining the channel in modern materials (and yes, we’ve had all the jokes about Pant-liners). Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, it will now be possible to complete this work as far as Crickheath, where there is a winding-hole (turning point for boats) which means that the one and a half miles of canal to that point can then be reopened. MWRT wants to carry on this work all the way through to Llanymynech, and is actively fundraising to make this happen. How much it will cost depends on exactly how much of the channel actually needs re-lining, but in addition there are two obstructions. One is School House Bridge - the only demolished road crossing on this length which hasn’t already been reinstated. The good news is that the Inland Waterways Association has awarded £70,000 from the Tony Harrison legacy (see Navvies News, page 37) to this project, and the aim is that (like Compass Bridge recently completed on the Wey & Arun) we will be able to make extensive use of volunteers on reinstating a public road crossing. So watch this space! The other obstruction is an old railway embankment crossing the canal (on the site of a former bridge) which needs removing. WRG North West made a start on dealing with this recently (see the dig report on the opposite page to find out how they got on) and will be back for more in the summer. Sort out those problems, and John Dodwell of MWRT reckons we could be through to Wales in five years - and the really major target of linking up with the Welshpool length might be possible within ten!

And finally: Plas Kynaston Canal A short branch of the Llangollen Canal just west of the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, this used to serve a large chemical works near Trevor which has now shut down. There’s a proposal to dig out the largely infilled canal and reopen it for moorings.

page 16

WRG NorthWest at Pant This weekend focussed on preparing the railway embankment site for its complete removal, though it began with a cooker saga. Porthywaen Silver Band Hall has a large kitchen but no cooker so, in order to use the hall while working at Crickheath in 2011, WRG installed a suitable socket and bought one. Since then it has slumbered, undisturbed, in the container at Crickheath Wharf, from where it was rescued on Friday afternoon. Inevitably, it was in need of cleaning but first we had to see if it worked. The hob was fine but a trip went immediately the oven was turned on. Damp controls were diagnosed so we set to work to dry it out. Two fan heaters and a radiant one were all directed onto it. Then we waited – and waited - and waited until, after about 3 hours, it realised that further resistance was futile and succumbed. We then decided to carbonise the disgusting deposits in the bottom of the oven so they could be scraped off – and filled the kitchen with noxious smoke. Fortunately, this had cleared in time for breakfast and the oven worked perfectly for the rest of the weekend. No fewer than sixteen people, plus a small 360o machine, three chainsaws and a strimmer, descended on site on Saturday morning, with a seventeenth arriving as we were about to leave for lunch. It’s not true to say that trees and brambles disappeared “just like that” but they all succumbed to two days of steady work. By early Saturday afternoon clearance had advanced to the point where the machine could get to the embankment and, after Ulrich had uncovered a bit more of the lower, road-side abutment, Mr ‘Awkins strapped on his parachute and proceeded to cut a track to the top, finishing the day triumphant, like Hilary on Everest. Attempts to video the felling of the last few trees to fall on Saturday were thwarted by their all hanging up, though Alan Jervis, who it was great to see again, has a nice bit of film of an earlier one that did fall cleanly and, as he has a fancy camera which can run backwards, can make it appear to do press-ups. Alan and Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Restoration Trust, joined us for our evening meal at which, as well as excellent beef stew and rhubarb crumble (thanks Barbara and Maureen, respectively), birthday cakes for Ju and George (that day) and Maureen (Monday) were consumed. (Thanks

Dig report WRG NW on the Mont Carolyn and Sainsburys) Some of us then went down to Llanymynech to meet up with the SUCS group who were staying there while working near Redwith Bridge. There have been significant leadership changes at SUCS; the meeting was very cordial and the long-standing difficulties between the two groups seem to be well and truly behind us. Let’s raise a glass of the excellent Black Sheep at the Bradford Arms to that. The last three trees on the main site were soon felled on Sunday morning before the foresters moved on to a large, leaning one on the other side of the embankment, left after our previous visit. The machine, meanwhile, uncovered more of the abutments, all of which proved to be where they should have been, largely allaying fears that the western one (transport yard side) might be unstable and have moved. Overall NW’s most successful dig for a long time. Now for the embankment itself. This is pencilled in for a mini-camp in July details in the next issue. Malcolm Bridge

The embankment and remains of the bridge

page 17

Bob Meadows An appreciation Bob Meadows Bob’s great passion for canals and maritime history, and his wife Sue’s for dogs never really coalesced. “ I would rather watch paint dry” was his take on going to a dog show. Thankfully, Sue fully understood. So, Crufts’ loss became WRG’s gain, and through the activities of WRG, Bob had ample opportunities to watch paint dry, as well as engaging himself and his trailer in more cerebral work. There are many things that make WRG tick, but one which is greatly underestimated is its sense of humour. To this end Bob was a master of brightening up many a damp, miserable, Mancunian day, when helping out on a WRG (North West) Paper Chase, with his dry wit. I remember on one occasion discussing with him the craze children had for dashing across railway tracks. Was this a practice kids around his way indulged in? I enquired. “Well if they did”, he said, “they would have to run fast, because I live near the main line to Glasgow”. Bob’s sense of the offbeat extended to his tastes in music. Having been regaled during his funeral service by the William Tell Overture, we departed the chapel to the strains of Benny Hill’s Ernie,The Fastest Milkman in the West. It is probably safe to assume that without his selfless donation to the WRG Van Appeal, we would also have departed the chapel in something more clearly resembling a milk cart than a brand new WRG North West and ‘Bob’s Bus’ at the funeral Iveco van. Through this, and in many other ways, he will be fondly remembered. And I sincerely hope that this will offer Sue and family some solace, until the clouds pass by. Thank you, Bob, and goodbye. Brian Lomas on behalf of WRG (North West)

page 18

WRG Boat Club News

WRG BC Boat Club report what is becoming known as the ‘Boating Season’. The Leigh Arm will be closed until 24th May, I assume it’s owned by the same company as the Bridgewater Canal i.e. a law unto itself. Other (rather gloomy) news of interest to WRG boaters includes:


Over 40 trees in the Coventry Area came down in the storms, goodness knows how many overall! [200, so I’ve heard. ...Ed] Not all the fallen trees were from Canal & River Trust properties. Most landowners are disinterested and don’t cut back the trees to make them safe. Please report any unsafe trees you pass. Petrol engines and even small generators can produce enough carbon monoxide to kill! Get a CO alarm fitted NOW, or make sure you test the one you have. Because of the increasing number of poorly maintained boats in the London area, Canal and River Rescue are considering reviewing their policy there. Edgbaston Tunnel - I’m sure you will have seen that there is a plan to widen the towpath through the tunnel i.e. narrow the canal so that two way passage will be impossible. What are canals for? Boat movement comes last for consideration (again).

. . .

Chris Howes

The worst news follows on from Navvies’ articles about East Anglia - that the Environment Agency may close some waterways due to shortage of funding. It seems that they have no intention of reopening the waterway from Horseway Lock to Welches Dam lock. They even deny that it has been closed all these years. A number of club members, including me, worked on the restoration of the lock way back in the 1980s. The lock has a wooden bottom and we found a complete toilet in the bottom of it! New gates were fitted; these were designed to match the ones they replaced. An odd system. The channel between Horseways and Welches Dam was only filled on bank holiday weekends or by special request. I’ve boated it on a number of occasions in the past, not an easy passage but worth it. I’ve never made it to the tidal doors at Salters Lode, though, because the Old Bedford River is totally blocked by weed past Welney as others trying to get from the Tidal Doors recently have discovered [Just as we were going to press, we heard the news that a campaign cruise had succeeded in getting to the blocked entrance to Welches Dam Lock from Salters Lode - see pic below ...Ed] We will need to join the campaign to get this length of waterway reopened. EA wouldn’t consider WRG and Peterborough branch of IWA working on it. Hmm, time they changed their minds! [For more on this story see our Fenland Feature in issue 276] There seem no end of stoppages and closures despite the coming of Spring and

Boats pass Welney recently - but the fight for Welches Dam goes on

But looking on the bright side - have you booked in for the IWA Festival of Water on the August Bank Holiday weekend at Ilkeston on the Erewash Canal yet? I confess that I haven’t yet, I’m going to move house and after 40 years in this one there is rather a lot of de-cluttering to do. I’d much rather move my boat! xxx Sadie Heritage (New address will be supplied once I have one!)

page 19

Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Apr 29-May 1NWPG May 5-11 WAT May 6 Sat wrgNW May 13 Sat LTD2017 May 13/14 wrgNW May 14 Sun WRG May 19-21 wrgBITM May 20/21 London WRG May 26-29 KESCRG Jun 2-8 WAT Jun 3/4 Essex WRG Jun 3/4 NWPG Jun 10/11 London WRG Jun 10/11 wrgBITM Jun 10 Sat wrgNW Jun 17/18 KESCRG Jun 24/25 TW2017 Jun 30-Jul 6 WAT Jul 1-8 CC201705 Jul 8/9 KESCRG Jul 8/9 London WRG Jul 8/9 NWPG Jul 8-15 CC201706 Jul 8-15 CC201707 Jul 15/16 wrgBITM Jul 15/16 wrgNW Jul 15-22 CC201708 Jul 15-22 CC201709 Jul 21-23 FWC2017 Jul 22 Sat wrgNW Jul 22-29 CC201710 Jul 22-29 CC201711 Jul 29-Aug 5 CC201712 Jul 29-Aug 5 CC201713 Jul 29-Aug 5 CC201714 Aug 4-10 WAT Aug 5/6 London WRG Aug 5-12 CC201715 Aug 5-12 CC201716

Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Leaders Training Day: Lapworth Village Hall Montgomery Canal: To be confirmed Committee & Board Meetings: Lapworth Village Hall, after Leaders Trai Rickmansworth Waterways Festival: Site Services (open to public on Sa Lichfield Canal Cotswold Canals: KESCRG’s 40th Birthday Party at Inglesham Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit, or Shalford Cotswold Canals Wendover Arm: Block laying on Bentomat lining ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Cotswold Canals: Inglesham (to be confirmed) WRG Training Weekend: Brimscombe Port, Cotswold Canals Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock To be arranged: joint dig with London WRG To be arranged: joint dig with KESCRG Cotswold Canals: Stroud Phase 1A or Phase 1B Swansea Canal Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock To be arranged Montgomery Canal: Pant Embankment mid-week - to be confirmed Monmouthshire Canal Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock Uttoxeter Canal: Family Weekend Camp (Fri-Sun) ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Monmouthshire Canal Cotswold Canals: Pike Lock and Dock Lock Lapal Canal Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu To be arranged Grantham Canal Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Lock (KESCRG camp)

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

page 20

Canal Camps cost ÂŁ70 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201705' 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)

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

Dave Wedd Ju Davenport

Alex Melson Barry McGuinness

Roger Leishman Tim Lewis

01844-343369 01442-874536 0161-681-7237 01494-783453 07808-182004 01564-785293 07816-175454 07802-518094 07971-814986 01442-874536 01376-334896 01844-343369 07802-518094 07816-175454 0161-681-7237 07971-814986 01494-783453 01442-874536 01494-783453 07971-814986 07802-518094 01844-343369 01494-783453 01494-783453 07816-175454 07808-182004 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 0161-681-7237 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01442-874536 07802-518094 01494-783453 01494-783453

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

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 21

Navvies diary

canal society regulars

Canal societiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 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) Reg Gregory Cotswold (E end) John Maxted

01452-614362 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

01623-621208 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 Richard Harker Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird

07702-741211 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 Apr 29 Sat

IWA Chester

Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10am-

Every Wed

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

May 6 Sat

IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm

May 7 Sun

IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking

May 11 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm May 13 Sat

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

May 14 Sun IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section May 16 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm May 16 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking May 18 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Work TBA May 20 Sat

IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10am-

May 23 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm May 23 Tue IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm May 27 Sat

IWA Chester

Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10am-

Jun 3 Sat

IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm

Jun 4 Sun

IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking

Every Wed

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Jun 8 Thu

IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm

Jun 10 Sat

RGT/IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Jun 11 Sun IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section Jun 15 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Work TBA Jun 17 Sat

IWA Manchester Venue T.B.C.: Greater Manchester area. Veg clearance, etc. 10am-

Jun 20 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm Jun 20 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking Jun 24 Sat

IWA Chester

Shropshire Union Canal: Chester area, painting & veg clearance. 10am-

Jun 27 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm Jun 27 Tue IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm IWA branch abbreviations BBCW = Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire; Other abbreviations: BPT = Burslem Port trust; CUCT = Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Society; CRT = Canal & River Trust

Mobile groups' socials:

The following groups hold regular social gatherings

London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig at the 'Rose & Crown' Colombo Street, London NWPG: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading.

page 24

...and other one-day work

Navvies diary

For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 4pm

Christine Fraser


Martin Bird



Steve Wood



Geoff Wood


Steve Wood



Martin Bird



Chris or Steve Hayes



Colin Garnham-Edge


Geoff Wood


John Brighouse 4pm





Colin Garnham-Edge Steve Wood 4pm

bcpontheoxford@gmail.com 07976-805858

Christine Fraser Steve Wood

christine.fraser@waterways.org.uk 07976-805858

Geoff Wood

steve.wood@waterways.org.uk geoff.wood@waterways.org.uk

Martin Bird



Steve Wood



Martin Bird



Chris or Steve Hayes



John Brighouse








Colin Garnham-Edge


Geoff Wood


Christine Fraser


Colin Garnham-Edge


Steve Wood 07976-805858 steve.wood@waterways.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

Progress Stover Canal

Our regular roundup of restoration progress from around the country begins in the South West, where the Stover Canal will be hosting WRG again this summer

moting the canal we will be holding Information Days on the first Sunday of the month Over the winter the Stover Canal Trust volfrom April to September where members will unteers have been continuing to clear under- be in attendance at Graving Dock Lock or growth and small trees from the line of the Ventiford Basin to answer questions from canal. The Trustees are aware of the detrivisitors. Our biennial Open Weekend is ment to the natural environment which these planned for the 23rd and 24th September activities can create and are embarking on a courtesy of local mining firm Sibelco on tree planting programme to mitigate the whose land we will set up at the Teigngrace loss. The Conservation Volunteers organisaentrance to the East Golds works along Old tion offers free trees to qualifying groups and Exeter Road near the canal bridge. the Trust is fortunate to be a recipient this We are again looking forward to welyear under their ‘I Dig Trees’ initiative sponcoming members of the Waterway Recovery sored by Ovo Energy. Group at the end of August for a two week This year is the 225th Anniversary of the camp spanning the late Bank Holiday weekcanal reaching its northern terminus at end. There is much still to do at Ventiford Ventiford Basin. Visitors will have noticed the Basin where they performed sterling work extensive works carried out there during last year. Hopefully we won’t be experiencing 2016 and more renovation is planned for this typical Bank Holiday weather! summer. To further the Trust’s aim of proRob Harris

Stover Canal Trust

Stover Canal

Work in progress at Ventiford Basin on last summer’s Canal Camp

page 26

Next we head over to East Anglia to catch up on progress on the River Gipping, otherwise known as the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation River Gipping

Progress River Gipping where the original planks had become warped and decayed. We are planning similar maintenance work to the stop planks at Creeting Lock that have badly deteriorated with the result that low water levels above the lock in dry conditions are becoming a problem While waiting for ground conditions to improve we have also been clearing overgrown blackthorn scrub from the towpath between Pipps Ford and Baylham. More recently a couple of significant trees have fallen from the bank into the river, and these have had to be removed. We meet at Pipps Ford every Wednesday (weather permitting ), and most second Saturdays of every month, and as always, any new volunteers are very welcome to come along ! Martin Bird Restoration Manager, RGT


The River Gipping Trustâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work to restore the bywash at Pipps Ford lock, near Needham Market, Suffolk,has continued through the winter, although the recent wet weather has put a stop to any further machine excavation until ground conditions improve. However, much progress was made through last Autumn with the help of a hiredâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;in excavator. The bywash channel was completed and the banks graded back to within a couple of metres of the river bank itself, and a hard surface was installed in the base of the channel to provide a ford. Weather permitting (and subject to final Environment Agency approval) we shall be breaking through this final 2 metres in the late spring. In the meantime we are waiting for a promised delivery of gravel to provide riffles in the channel bottom, and we will shortly be ordering and installing coir matting to line the upper end of the channel, to prevent bank erosion when we open up the channel to the river. When not working on the bywash itself we have been carrying out maintenance work along the towpath, including the replacement of stop planks at Working on the Pipps Ford bywash channel Bosmere lock,

page 27

Progress Wey & Arun Canal

Now it’s down to the deep south to catch on the Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s progress at Gennets Wood Lock and Compasses Bridge

walls. The latter are almost complete and were due to be signed off by the end of Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s Summit (Northern) February. The wing wall is by far the longest Working Party has carried on through the wall of the four and is looking really good. winter weather, putting the finishing touches The target is to have it done by the second to Compasses Bridge on the approach road week in March, when the working party to Dunsfold Park aerodrome and business starts work on building the footway ramp complex. It was too cold to lay bricks on one down from the bridge. This will be a major of the working days – so cold in fact that the task involving many tons of crushed workers had to thaw buckets of ice in front concrete hardcore. of the site stove in order to get enough water A small splinter group spent a weekend to concrete in some fence posts. dismantling the work compound and clearing Much of the work has focused on the the site in WACT’s Hunt Nature Park at pavements and the area around the Dunsfold Shalford. The site is going to be for a small Park security cabin and entrance gates, as information centre which will help raise the well as general landscaping and security profile of the Trust as it plans the re-creation measures. The ‘top deck’ works were nearly of the canal from Gun’s Mouth down to the finished at the end of January, with only a outskirts of Bramley. few more lengths of the security fence and New members are always welcome to some post and rail fencing to do. join the team - details from Bill Nicholson at On the bridge itself, the brickies have bn@weyandarun.co.uk. continued to work on the wing and retaining Down at the Gennets Bridge Lock site,


Wey & Arun Canal

Working on the last and longest of the four wing walls at Compasses Bridge

page 28


Martin Ludgate

WACTS’s Thursday and Sunday Group carried out a major concrete pour of the two bridge ramps and both top sill walls up to the top of the ground paddle sluices just before Christmas. The 28day cure period went ‘just like that’ and was over by 19th January. When the volunteers returned in the New Year it was -6ºC and too cold for bricklaying. On the top sill, they had to break the ice before London WRG visited Compasses in February and continued the wing wall removing the shuttering and backfilling with clay behind most of the concrete walls just formed. With the intention to complete the offside wall first, the installation of the shuttering for that side was started. Warmer weather will enable the parapet inside walls and the string course on the southern wall to be started. Above the string course and the concrete roadway, the brickwork is all stretchers, but as each layer is on a different radius the brick joints will have to be carefully worked out. Using one of the cabins as a workshop, two sets of coping mould tools were made and then set up on the top of the lock. The adverse weather gave the impetus to removing the cantering from under the bridge. These pieces of shuttering are heavy and care had to be taken but, by working as a team they all came out relatively easily. Removing these meant that the Acrow props required to do the copings and top sill walls became available and this work is Gennets Bridge Lock chamber filled with scaffolding now progressing apace.

page 29

Camp Report Chelmer & Blackwater Chelmer & Blackwater Canal Camp February 2017

Our first week-long canal camp of 2017 took place in February on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Alex Melson reports... Swindon with the van and trailer. We had a very good mix of experience and skills this week including two chainsaw operators & four experienced brickies all of which were happy share their knowledge and show them the ropes… literally with regards to working with the chainsaw team. We were fortunate to be accompanied by five motivated DofE’ers (Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants) completing their gold residential and two newbies who came packed full of enthusiasm and Spanish tongue twisters!

Once again I am delighted to open by stating that no one died and we completed the work; two key concepts that the camp leadership teams try to adhere to. This week’s camp was lead by Alex Melson, Matt Baines and Mandy Morley with work focusing on clearing vegetation along the C&B Navigation, as well as partially dismantling and rebuilding a set of wing walls at Papermill Lock. To those that are aware of the C&B The Work Navigation in Essex, I need not mention the tranquillity and picturesque scenes that await The priority of this week was to manage the vegetation running along the towpath and volunteers who work on this generally unknown part of the UK. For those less acoverhanging the waterway, consisting of quainted to the area the Chelmer and Blackwillows, alder, ash, hawthorn and of course water is a largely rural navigation that runs everyone’s favourite blackthorn. Working in for 14 miles across Essex from Chelmsford teams of two or three the groups spread out to Heybridge Basin. tackling the scrub. Firstly the groups cleared Being one of the ‘off season’ canal out two culverts which have either collapsed camps you would expect there to be at least of been blocked downstream of Papermill a bit of bad weather, but to the relief of Lock; the intention being to make life easier myself and the 17 other volunteers we were for those booked onto the summer C&B camp blessed with dryness, sunshine and a little bit of wind – in actual fact I would probably say there was less wind on the entire camp than, say, in one annual bonfire bash visited by at least 70 WRGies each year. As per usual I will not bore everyone with the kit logistics, unpacking etc, but a massive thanks are in order to David Miller who made the long trip from Devon to Tea break at Hoe Mill Lock Heybridge Basin via

page 30

(2017-14 on 29 Jul – 5 Aug) to fix/rebuild them. Then they moved back towards base camp. We also used Brushcutters to give the towpath a much needed pre-spring cut. Working a little bit upstream from the main group were our experienced brickies who took to removing the damaged brickwork from the exposed wing walls at Papermill Lock. As with most camps everyone had a go at this under the expert supervision and guidance of our brickies. Initially estimated at just a two course job by the highly knowledgeable camp leader… It quickly became clear that it would be closer to four. Our chainsaw team (Ian & Gordon) got on with the monumental task of felling every tree to big too clear using bowsaws, utilising winches, ropes and in some cases even some hard work. Each of our newbies had a go at being banksman for the chainsaw team and supporting them in the processing of each tree. The same work was completed for the site at Maldon with the added hazards of the muddy towpath, which is planned to be sorted in the near future (early hint for what the October C&B camp 2017-27 may entail).

The Activities

The Food I was fortunate this time round to have a cook for the camp who came in the form of the lovely Mandy Morley. I can speak for myself and every other volunteer on camp that the food was exceptionally tasty. With everyone in agreement that the cook is the most important person on camp, I guess they deserve a break, that’s why on Wednesday we ordered fish & chips (which was tactfully negotiated down in price by Mandy) and on Friday we had a make your own pizza night. Unfortunately, everyone was exposed to mine and Matt’s breakfasts and the inconsistent timing of service and burnt porridge… good news is that no one got food poisoning!

Final Thoughts This was the second camp that I have led with WRG and as they say practice make perfect! I have been very fortunate that I got an amazing group this week who needed really very little leading and just got on with the task at hand. So with that said I would like to thank my leadership team Mandy for her amazing food and Matt for his support and input through the week (you can find out more about Matt’s first time assisting on the following pages) . And of course a massive thank you to my experienced and newbie volunteers who gave us a week of their own time to help manage the Chelmer and Blackwater Canal Camp. Alex Melson

Responsibilities for planning and arranging the activities fell to our Assistant Leader Matt Baines. Prior to camp the leadership team discussed potential activities that would engage and enthuse our volunteers in the evening. Fortunately with the Chelmer & Blackwater Camp being a regular location for WRG Canal Camps the local attractions are well known. With just a little bit of research the weeks activities were organised early on. Besides the usual bowling, film night and pub trips we were fortunate enough to also have access to a beer festival and were a small driving distance from the Museum of Power! One thing to note however is the people of Essex appear to not be fond of pub quizzes and we resorted to holding our own in Vegetation clearance means bonfires the accommodation.

page 31

Leadership ...the first time

New WRG Canal Camps assistant leader Matthew Baines reports back on his first week as part of a canal camp leadership team

Camp Leadership: taking the plunge he would like and I had my input for what I

wanted from it and together we came up with a detailed vision for how the leadership team would work. We split the work evenly with Alex dealing with the paperwork, logistics and bookings copying me into email communications. I also got involved with this after the site visit organised with Essex Waterways Ltd and completed several risk assessments with My First Time as Assistant Leader the support of Alex. As the camp booked up, it became clear we would have a good So what is it like to make the jump from mix of experienced WRGies and newbies and volunteer to Assistant Leader? Matt Baines with the final booking information sent talks us through his own personal experience through, I needed to delegate chores for of what it is like to assist on a week’s Canal washing up in the morning/afternoon and Camp for the first time. Matt was the assistBrew Kit. This was harder than you all think ant leader for the Chelmer and Blackwater making sure everyone had an equal turn. Camp in February and discusses the trials, Breakfast was done by Alex and me every tribulations and experiences he gained from morning which was okay - but remembering the role. advice given by Jenny at HO that it’s imporThis was a huge year for me, and I am tant to pace yourself. which meant early so pleased and thankful for the wonderful nights and not drinking too much. opportunity to assist and to be part of the Organising the movement of vans and leadership team for the Chelmer & Blackwa- trailer down to site (which I was told can be ter Canal. This being my first time, to say I a big ‘faff’) was left to Alex but from the was nervous is an understatement - but this email chains I was copied into I now know being something I had been aiming for since what the term ‘WRG logistics’means - a first volunteering with WRG back in 2013, it massive thanks to everyone involved with the made me feel both proud and excited to van movements. have this opportunity. I was also in charge of arranging the I expressed interest in assisting a camp evening activities. The difficulty came in the to WRG Head Office back in 2016 and they form of finding activities everyone would said they would keep an eye out for a camp enjoy but not be to knackered to get inwith the right experience that would be volved with. I arranged for the usual bowlsuitable for a first timer. In December 2016 I ing, film night and pub trips, but looking in got a call from Alex at WRG HO if I would be the local area found a beer festival as well. interested in assisting on his Chelmer and Phoning the volunteers before the Blackwater Camp in February . At first, I was camp, we decided to split the list in half. shocked that I was being asked, since I had Knowing how muddy the towpath was, I uncertainties on how I would play my role as could recommend what footwear to bring an assistant leader this time: “How can I ever which included high heels. (Sorry Alex I manage to perform the given task like the forgot that was meant to be our secret…) leaders I knew from the previous camps?” I Seriously steel toe cap, wellington boots or asked the questions: what I would be exsteel toe boots and waterproofs. Knowing pected to do? What were my responsibilities? that at the accommodation (Haybay barge) What behind the scenes work goes on? Alex the toilet block was outside and the towpath (camp leader) discussed his vision for what was unlit, we suggested that torches Have you ever thought of volunteering to be part of the leadership team for a week-long canal camp? Matthew Baines did - and has written down his thoughts, experiences and lessons learned following his first week in the role of assistant leader at the Chelmer & Blackwater Canal Camp in February...

page 32

wouldn’t go amiss. Also for the beddings but few things are alike. Reflecting on what I since we were staying at a 5 star rated achave learned from being part of the leadercommodation (at least by WRG standards) I ship team at WRG and experience of being proposed a sleeping bag or proper beddings a team leader at work, I have learned to and told everyone that it will be same sex in communicate, work better in a group, each room, two people per cabin. (except bounce ideas back and forth, get more confiour married couple Steve and Mandy) dence in making decisions and act upon it. On the first day I arrived at the accom- Thanks to this experience I feel myself develmodation early to get into the zone and oping both personally and professionally and prepare myself for the week ahead. I knew it with more opportunities in the future I hope will reflect as it was my first time but knowthis to continue. WRG invested a lot of time ing I had a huge support from Alex, Jenny, and effort into allowing me to become an Moose (who was our duty WRG director) and assistant leader from supporting me and those closest to me. teaching me new skills, giving me more I underestimated the general faff and responsibilities such as being MUP (Most planning needed for the equipment and kit Useful Person), opening up leaders training checks: what I worked out is that having too days and weekends where I can further many people ‘helping’ can make things more develop my skills. All of which served as a difficult. So we spilt the group into two - the learning experience in good communication ‘vans and trailer team’ and the ‘accommodaand working as a team leader. tion kit team’ which gave just the right As an overview, will I do it again? YES, amount of people for each task. Our D-ofin a heartbeat! I would love to work with E’ers began to show off their stripes with different leaders and do different camps to offers of tea to the leadership team. help me further develop the skills I am learnWe ensured that time was spent to ing and see different leadership styles. I communicate the plan for the day and the would love to be a more regular volunteer to talk about the tasks, concerns and feedback. help me build up my technical knowledge Of course when you’re working at different and experience to lead more camps in the ends of a site communication can slip by and future. on our camp it was at the expense of a hawIn the next few years, my target within thorn that had not been destined for felling. WRG is to successfully become a leader. After I got the hang of things mid way Matthew Baines through the week, myself and Alex switched roles with myself taking on more leadership If you’re interested in becoming a canal roles and Alex observing. This switch gave camp leader or assistant, see page 8 for me a great insight to the things a leader details of the Leader Training Day on 13 needs to always be thinking about, which I May, or get in touch with Head Office. never really thought about - like balancing work completion to volunteer morale and just keeping an eye on everything. Everyone on camp noticed a change in my attitude and general flappiness decrease (with Ian jokingly saying “it’s not a helicopter, it’s Matt flapping!”) In different camps that I have attended since 2013, I have witnessed diverse leadership The team of volunteers on Matthew’s camp from various leaders

page 33

Camp reports

Camp leader Moose reports from a week of scrub-bashing, worries about not enough work and too many Martins (and the editor wasn’t even there!)

Cotswold Christmas camp Yes, I know we included a camp report from Christmas and New Year on the Cotswold Canals last time, but here’s another one from the camp leader this time... just to remind you that it’s now less than eight months until the next Christmas camp...

Christmas Camp 2016 Christmas Camp seems to come around so quickly.... As normal, camp was starting on the Boxing Day, and going by the bookings it was going to be a large camp. There were 30 people booked on, and what with the extra ‘possibles’ who had asked if they could turn up either later or just for a couple of days... Leadership team consisted of myself as leader, Maria doing the cooking, and the assistant was ‘American’ Martin, which was his first time at leadership in WRG but as an ex WO1 in the Army, he would have been someone who had to obeyed. (For those who don’t know, Warrant Officer 1st class, (RSM) is the highest rank below a commissioned officer). So, with me as an ex-Corporal from the Grenadier Guards, it was going to be me giving orders to an ex WO1 Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineer (REME). Oh, I was going to enjoy myself, there had been talk that a serving Captain may make an appearance... Oh, what joy I can have! Back to the camp, the work was on the Cotswold Canals, starting on a new stretch, on the west side of Stroud, working just over the A38 leading towards Saul Junction, this is part of Phase 1b (the Stonehouse to Saul length) in the plan. Accommodation was the usual unit at Brimscombe Port. The plan seemed very easy: to clean up the offside bank of vegetation that was going on or into the canal, tidy up the towpath, plus a vehicle width. We looked at the photos... a bit worried the work would not be that hard or take too long. So local man Jon P got some more work lined up, and even managed to get permissions from a landowner, where a lock was needing a major

page 34

clean up (so that a survey could be carried out), and an accommodation bridge that needed to stripped of ivy and some bushes plus removing some trees that were growing too close. Still worried about not enough work and knowing how many people were on the camp, still had a slight concern so we did have a contingency plan or two... Site visit was carried out by assistant and RAF Martin (yes too many Martins on this Camp, including Martin Danks too). Two Martins come back and said we possibly will need the extra work, so we were ready. Jon P had got the permissions from the land owners, and we were fit to go. I had asked for four vans and ended up with 5, which did come in handy during the camp. I was also after chainsaw operators and had four on the camp, and Jon P also joined in the fun. First day on site, we all stayed on the one site, I and a couple of others arrived early to prepare an area where we could set up base from (you know, the important things like the Burco). When the other vans arrived, one van was towing the boat we would be using, which had to be launched, which was fairly easy. The chainsaw operators started to look at a what had to come down, and of course everything had to come across to the towpath side, but the canal is actually full of water. Paul Shaw was tasked to take down a willow that had had a fire in its trunk at some point and then fell down, still leaving a trunk of large proportion and with branches going everywhere, including into the water. The one tree took Paul the best part of two days, and that was including using Tirfor and ropes, and several people on the towpath to do the pulling. The work was hard: the chainsaw people cutting down, teams with either a rope or Tirfor bringing the wood over, and someone on the towpath cutting it up again with a chainsaw into manageable lumps for logs for saving and bits to go on the large controlled fire.

And that was the way of the work on site: second day, we sent a small crew down to the bridge with Teacher Chris, I told him it would not take long, at the close of play he said they had worked hard but still had more to do, so they went back the following day. Third day also saw a team start work on the Lock: a couple of brushcutters, a chain saw operator and some muscle, under the care of American Martin. At the end of the day he came back and said “still loads to do”, so they went back the next day to continue. While on the main site we had made progress, there was not much to show for it except the rows of logs in piles, at one point, we had all five chainsaw operators going and Two tirfors and several lengths of rope, cutting and hauling stuff over the cut. Having been concerned about lack of work, there was plenty and we did not finish it all, we possibly cleared 100m, the bridge was actually swept and looking really good, and the lock had been transformed from an overgrown mess into something that looked very presentable and ready for its survey. While all the work was going on the locals were giving a lot of encouragement as they were out walking their dogs etc. Some came down especially to see what was happening and were very pleased with the results - so much so, that a couple said they would come back before we left, and bring a bottle of homemade sloe gin. This was sampled at the end of camp party; I saw the bottle next morning - there was not much left, so I think the campers liked it. Last day on site, we had to get the boat out and on its trailer. With American Martin’s truck and a lot of huffing and puffing, the boat was loaded and sent back to the accommodation. It was also forecast that the weather was not very good for New Year’s Day, the day we would be cleaning and packing all the tools and vehicles, so we decided to do it on the last working day. The trailer and van were locked up in the unit at Brimscombe, and in the end, we also left the naked van that is now Paul Ireson’s (naked van as it had all its WRG transfers removed). As normal on the last night, a full three course meal was prepared by Maria and the ‘kitchen bitch’ Mo (American Martin’s other half). American Martin and I served the drinks at the table (typical Army custom at Christmas where the officers serve the rest) and then food was served, and as normal we

did the end of camp speeches and thank you presents. And I believe people carried on drinking for a very long time. Last day of the camp, most people were got rid of fairly quickly (i.e. they went home!) leaving a few of us doing the final cleaning to the accommodation and Maria, checked and packed the catering kit, which was then loaded into the van, and we could all go and leave for home. I must thank many people: Jon P, for the work and getting the permissions and paperwork done; the drivers for all the driving to and from site; the various people who brought extra kit to the camp (tirfors, brush cutters) and the chainsaw operators, I think nearly all the kit got well and truly worked. Also all the volunteers who worked on site so hard (it was said that Mr Lines did work, there’s meant to be photo evidence, but it might be airbrushed). A lot of the volunteers are like boomerangs as they keep coming back each year, but this year we had some first timers to WRG and a D-of-E’er. It must be a bit daunting especially for your first camp, I hope you all enjoyed it and will be anxious to book on to another camp (hint: the new camp brochure is on the facebook page). Obviously a huge thank you to all the volunteers. That now leaves to thank Maria and Mo for all their hard work in the kitchen, for all the lovely meals, plus a big thank you to the breakfast cooks. And finally, to American Martin, who was my assistant. Many years ago, at an old National I asked Martin would he ever think about leading a camp, he said ‘oh no done all that leadership stuff, no I want the easy life now’, and he added that Mo would never attend the camp if he was leading or assisting. I never pressured him but he came forward and asked if I would lead and he would be my assistant, and I took a lot of pride in the fact that he came forward and asked. I can say it was a pleasure; Mo obviously did turn up and was happy to help Maria, which Maria was thankful for. I believe the camp went smoothly, he never forgot the biscuits for the tea break or the tea pot, so that must be good training... The end of a lovely even though energetic, fairly physical camp; hope to see you all in the year to come on a camp, the BCN Clean Up, the Bonfire Bash or even Christmas Camp 2017. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden

page 35

Navvies News Paul’s big bike ride for WRG Some of you may know that Paul Shaw is planning to cycle the length of Britain to raise funds for WRG. Paul says... Cycling from Lands End to John o’Groats has been on my bucket list for a while, and following doctor’s advice to get more exercise I thought it would be good to set myself a target to ensure I complied … I was then persuaded to do the ride in aid of WRG. The ride is approximately 1000 miles in total, which I’m planning to do over about 14 days (averaging roughly 70 miles per day) using towpaths where possible, and beginning on 20th June. If anyone wants to join me for any part of it (however small) you’d be more than welcome. Route details and my blog can be seen on my facebook page facebook.com/ paulshawslejog/ (don’t worry, you don’t need to sign up to facebook to view it) or you can phone me on 07866 803351. Thank you very much to everyone who

page 36

has already sponsored me. If anyone else would like to, you can do so by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ PaulShaw7 or by sending a cheque direct to IWA head office, mentioning my ride. I hope to see some of you along the route! Paul Shaw

Lost property ‘Sleeping bag (in blue bag with ‘Arctic Chill’) found in the overhead locker of van D16 SAD. Contact bungle@wrg.org.uk if it’s yours.

Navvies renewals: please note Please note that when renewing your Navvies subscription you should now make cheques out to ‘The Inland Waterways Association’ in full (i.e. don’t abbreviate it to IWA). Unfortunately Sue Watts, who looks after subscriptions has recently been having difficulties with her bank, which has started refusing to accept cheques which are not correctly filled in.

Congratulations ...to Rowena and Richard Worthington on the (very early) arrival of Alexander Richard Worthington on 11 February weighing 2lb 12oz.

Directory update The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society has a new working party contact: Charley Johnston, nb ‘Felonious Mongoose’, Sherborne Street, Birmingham B16 8DE; 07825 816623; info@bcnsociety.com, www.bcnsociety.com. Full directory in the next issue.

Barn Dance goes down a storm On Saturday 18th March, WRG enjoyed an early reunion party in the form of the ever popular Barn Dance. The event was raising funds for this year’s canal camps and was attended by nearly sixty WRGies and local IWA members from Warwickshire branch. The event was led by fantastic band Rogue Music, and hungry dancers were treated to a veritable feast of curry and trifle thanks to top WRG cooks Jude Palmer and Eli Mathieson. There was also half-time entertainment in the form of a raffle and other games. Local XT beer went down very well and generous bar-goers helped boost overall profits significantly! Rogue Music band leader, Matthew Rogers, who by the time you read this will have just run the London Marathon for WRG, also raised some additional sponsorship on the night, bringing his fundraising total so far to £630. Overall, the event raised a fantastic £600 – thank you to everyone who volunteered, danced or drank and helped make the night such a success! See you next year! Alex Melson

The Tony Harrison legacy As Mike Palmer said in Navvies 266 when he announced the sad news that Tony Harrison had died: “Tony Harrison is a name that didn’t feature often in Navvies but his work did. Indeed as Honorary Engineer for the IWA his work probably affected every waterway that has ever been featured in Navvies.” He left £200,000 to the Association, which then invited bids for funding from waterways organisations for anything up to the full amount, simply specifying that their projects should aim to achieve the maximum good for the inland waterways. From 28 bids, four projects have now been selected to share the money - and they are likely to involve our volunteers... The Pocklington Canal, where £106,400 from the legacy will enable the canal society’s £250,000 Bicentenary Appeal to hit its target, meaning that the work to open up the next two miles of canal (including Thornton and Walbut locks) can be completed for the canal’s 200th anniversary next year.




. The Barn Dance - see you next year!

The Montgomery Canal, which will receive £70,000 towards its current fundraising push which hopes to get the canal open to the Welsh border (see Welsh feature, p10-17). The legacy money will be spent on School House Bridge, the only demolished road bridge on this section which hasn’t already been rebuilt. It’s set to be a major volunteer job where (like Compass Bridge on the Wey & Arun) contractors will build the basic arch and we’ll do the rest. The Cromford Canal, which will benefit from £15,000 to pay for a new water control sluice (very appropriate, given Tony’s background in water engineering). This will be built in traditional oak (it’s in a conservation area) to replicate a structure believed to have once existed, providing a reliable water supply for the northern length of canal where the Friends’ tripboat Birdswood operates. The River Stour, where £8,600 will act as ‘match funding’ to a Landfill Tax grant an allow gates to be installed at the River Stour Trust’s latest restoration project Stratford St Mary Lock, opening up two more miles of river.

page 37

Infill John gets a contraption! The ‘contraption’... ...described by John Foley in his query in the last issue is in fact called a Backsaver Autospade. They were originally produced by the Wolf company in the 1950s, but are now made by Backsaver Tools of Guiseley near Leeds, and are available for around £80-£100 new, plus various second-hand ones can be found on eBay. Not only did several people come up with information, web links and even an online video showing you how to use one to dig your garden, but Martin Danks actually produced the goods - see pic right - and his spade was last seen heading for John’s in the back of a WRG van. Our thanks to all who responded.

The mystery picture John Foley has followed up his Contraption contribution with a further picture - this time it’s an old black & white picture he found some years ago in a charity shop. John says: There are enough questions to ask - where? A canal? Next to a bakery? Who and why? Students (1950s?) on an outing? Why so happy as there are 14 of them on a smallish punt(?) and they are all standing? What about the centre of gravity? Is it being propelled in some invisible way or towed? Or is it aground and the whole thing a merry student stunt for a Rag Week and to perplex waterway folk sixty years in the future?

And finally... In what appears to be becoming a series of pictures of navvies’ young offspring making unusual use of various bits of WRG equipment, Jimmy Butler sends this pic of his daughter Joules trying out fellow WRGie Gordon Brown’s forestry hard hat.

page 38

Deirdre? Yes, WRG’s own agony aunt will be back soon to answer all your personal, emotional and other embarrassing questions. Plus any other contributions (Did we really run out of suggestions for the world’s most dismally-named waterways features?) all gratefully received. Please keep sending them to the editor. Thanks.


BCN Clean Up This This year’s year’s BCN BCN Clean Clean Up Up took took place place on on the the Main Main Line Line and and Wyrley Wyrley & & Essington. Essington. Report Report next next time; time; meanmeanwhile here while here are are aa selection selection of of pics pics

page 39

page 40

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 282  

Navvies 282. WRG Magazine for Volunteers restoring the waterways. April-May 2017.

Navvies 282  

Navvies 282. WRG Magazine for Volunteers restoring the waterways. April-May 2017.