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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies Camps Swansea and Cotswold reports

Pant’s down! Montgomery Canal’s blockage bites the dust

waterway recovery group

Issue No 284 August-September 2017 page 1



We We held held aa training training weelend in June weelend in June to to help help prepare our volunteers for the summer Canal Camps. Camps. This This selection selection of of pictures by Jenny Black pictures by Jenny Black shows just some of training which went on

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

© 2017 WRG

Contents In this issue... From the Editor: what’s in this issie and what isn’t in this issue... 4 Coming soon autumn camps, reunion, and (oh no!) Christmas already... 5 Camp reports Swansea and Cotswold 7-12 Pant The background to the Montgomery work - and a report of the week 13-15 WRG Print how Navvies happens! 16-17 North West Paper Chase anniversary 18-19 Diary WRG, IWA, CRT, canal societies 20-25 Letters more on the Montgomery work 26 Progress a bumper-size roundup from waterways across the country 27-35 Fundraising Paul Shaw’s epic bike ride for WRG - and can you run a 10k? 36-37 Infill dogs, bicycles and small children laying bricks 38 Summer camps 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 285: 1 September.

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: Re-pointing in progress on Upper Trebanos Lock, Swansea Canal (see report, pages 7-9, picture by Martin Ludgate) Back cover, top: First ever work party at Geldeston Lock on the River Waveney - report next time, please! (Martin Ludgate) Bottom: ‘before and after’ at Pant - see pages 13-15 (John Dodwell)

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From the editor

Not be many canal camp reports in this issue, but we hope for more next time. Why not make the editor’s day by writing one?

What’s in and what’s not in... I’ve headed this ‘from the editor’ rather than ‘editorial’, because I don’t want you to be disappointed that it isn’t one of my pithy editorial comments on the past, present and future of canal restoration, the universe and everything. Rather, it’s a more of an explanation about what’s in this issue, and what’s not, and what (I hope) is coming up in the next issue. But first, I’m afraid it’s bad news.

railway embankment blocking the Mont at Pant. We’re very glad to report that it’s finally gone: no apologies for the amount of stuff about it in this issue - it’s a real result, both in terms of clearing what seemed like an impasse between the volunteer movement and the Canal & River Trust (or their predecessors), and clearing one of the two major obstructions between the current limit of navigation below Maesbury and the Welsh border. Watch this space for news of further work to get this length open.

Mick Beattie R.I.P.

The Navvies Directory

We’ve very sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Mick Beattie, one of the great characters of WRG and a man who played a crucial role in the shaping of the organisation particularly in the 1990s, has died. We will print a full appreciation in the next issue; for now we give our condolences to his family, friends, and everyone else who knew him.

We asked the question last time: does anyone value the directory of WRG, IWA and canal society contacts that appears periodically in Navvies? The consensus from those who replied (thanks for your feedback) is that it is still of use, but that perhaps once a year is enough - with a regular reminder that it can be found on our website.

Canal Camp reports

The WRG Boat Club report

Moving on to what’s in this issue: you’ll see that there are a couple of canal camp reports in this issue - but perhaps you might have been expecting a few more, considering how many camps have happened. Well unfortunately nobody sent any more, but then again I haven’t exactly done much chasing-up. But I’ll be pursuing them for the next issue - so please get them written up and sent in as soon as possible. And one camp that we definitely hope to report on in the next issue is the first ever Family Camp on the Uttoxeter. This is something we’ve been hoping to organise for some time; it was a great success both for the families who took part and the restoration of the canal, and we hope it will be the first of many.

Sadie apologises that she didn’t submit a piece in time owing to moving house: in the slightly unlikely event that you read this before the Bank Holiday weekend, a reminder that the Club’s AGM takes place on the Saturday at the IWA Ilkeston Festival of Water.

From the editor...

The Montgomery Canal Something else that folks have been trying to organise for ages is the removal of the old

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Tech Tips articles We haven’t got one this time, but we’ve got a couple for the future. In the next issue we plan to publish a piece about casting ‘stones’; also in the pipeline is a report from the lime mortar bricklaying course at the training weekend. We’ve had more suggestions, but please keep the ideas coming in.

That’s all folks! PS don’t forget to book in for the Reunion Bonfire Bash - see page 6. Martin Ludgate

Are you coming to the Bonfire Bash? See overleaf for details and get your booking form sent in as soon as possible

Coming soon... Autumn camps and Reunion

Autumn Canal Camps: 21-28 October By the time this issue of Navvies arrives through your letter box, the main summer Canal Camps programme will be drawing to a close - and the very last camp, from 26 August to 2 September on the Grantham Canal - was already fully-booked by the time we went to press. But don’t worry - there’s only a short gap between then and the autumn camps - which we have two of this year. On the Grantham Canal camp 2017-26 under leader Rob Nicholson will be carrying on from the summer camps, completing the rebuilding of Lock 15 at Woolsthorpe in the Vale of Belvoir before moving on to Lock 14 for next year. Meanwhile Camp 2017-27 will be taking place on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. This is the river-based waterway which is run by WRG’s own parent organisation the Inland Waterways Association via its subsidiary Essex Waterways, which means that (unlike most working waterways) it doesn’t get any regular government support and relies heavily on volunteer labour and local support to keep going. We’ll be working on clearing overgrown vegetation from the towpath - so there will be lots of scrub-bashing and bonfires to keep warm. Accommodation will be on the famous Haybay barge - complete with beds!

London WRG / KESCRG Christmas dig, Cotswold Canals 2-3 December As usual, two of the main mobile working party groups based in the south of England will be getting together for a big working party and Christmas party on the first weekend in December. But it isn’t only open to volunteers from these groups: anyone is welcome to come. This year it’s being hosted by the Cotswold Canals, and work is likely to be concentrated on the west end of the waterway at Whitminster. We’ll be carrying out initial scrub clearance of a length that’s about to be the subject of a re-submitted Lottery funding bid aimed at getting the canal open from Saul through Stroud within the next five years. See the next Navvies for more information including booking details and the answer to the question that’s on everyone’s lips - what is the theme for the fancy dress party this year?

WRG Christmas Canal Camp: 26 December - 1 January We aren’t yet able to confirm the site for our annual post-Christmas canal camp, but we can confirm that the dates are the usual ones of Boxing Day to New Year’s Day, and we’ll have the details for you in the next issue.

WRG BITM Christmas Camp, Wilts & Berks Canal 26 Dec - 1 Jan Our WRG BITM regional group will also be holding a festive canal camp, once again on the Wilts & Berks Canal at Dauntsey. Leader is Rachael Banyard; for information and bookings contact Dave Wedd on 07816-175454 or bookings@wrgbitm.org.uk.

...and then what? Some dates for your 2018 diaries Looking further ahead into 2018, we’ve already got dates for the WRG Barn Dance (10 March) and Leader Training Day (12 May). There will be full details of these in forthcoming issues of Navvies.

Now turn the page and find out all about the Reunion / Bonfire Bash...

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Coming soon... The WRG Reunion 4-5 November: Uttoxeter Canal The Reunion is our annual major working party and get-together for all canal volunteers (also known as the Bonfire Bash), and this year we’re returning to the site of the 2015 Reunion on the Uttoxeter Canal. The work will mainly be scrub bashing - which hopefully means some big bonfires - and we’re hoping to see 100 or so volunteers for the weekend. The Uttoxeter is very much an up-and-coming restoration. Since completing the Destination Froghall project (restoring and reopening the first lock and basin at Froghall) a decade ago, the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust has been developing its plans to eventually recreate the entire route down to Uttoxeter, and is concentrating efforts on what will one day be a ‘showpiece length’ around Alton and Crumpwood. Bridge 70 has already been restored, WRG Forestry have done some major tree clearance, a length of towpath has been reinstated, and there are plans for a lock rebuild in the not-too-distant future. We’ll be helping this work by clearing trees and vegetation from a significant length of canal in this area. We’ll have more details of the work, accommodation etc in the next issue - in the meantime, book in using the form below or via the WRG website wrg.org.uk.

waterway recovery group Uttoxeter Canal Reunion 2017 I would like to attend the WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on 4-5 November Forename:


Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

I require accommodation on Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £ Association’) for food

(please make cheques payable to ‘Inland Waterways

(cost is £13 for the weekend based on £3 breakfast and evening meal, £2 lunch) How will you be travelling to the Reunion? Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:


Signed: Send to: Reunion Bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

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Reporting from a week of lock chamber repair, ‘crazy paving’ and an even crazier night out at the World’s slowest Indian restaurant... Swansea Canal, 8-15 July Croeso bawb o Gymru! (Welcome from Wales!) So WRG returned to the Swansea Canal after a year’s break, and it was an absolutely amazing camp. Saturday: Everyone managed to find the accommodation, despite our accommodation having only one vowel and appearing to be unpronounceable at first. At this point, we began to realise the fun that would come from having two Ians, two Martins, a Sue and a Su... Sunday: As per usual with the first day of a camp, one of the jobs to do was to start clearing vegetation, but I’m not sure it’s ever been done with such enthusiasm before. Tony cleared with such gusto that he actually managed to snap one of the rakes in half. (Sorry, camps that had our kit afterwards, if you desperately need rakes...) Tony also provided one of the best quotes of the day when he said that he, Tom and Rhys had

Camp report Swansea Canal struggled to keep up with Bev, who was “like a JCB”. Total wet feet counter: 1 – Su (wearing Rhiannon’s wellies) found the watery hole in the lock with one foot and flooded the welly. Before any of you readers start getting any H&S worries about us floundering around in deep water while working, perhaps I’d better clarify: the lock has been part infilled and the water running down the canal has been diverted via the overflow bywash. But with not terribly watertight stop-planks at the top end, the infill is covered by annoyingly justabove-ankle-deep water (we used Youngman boards set on sandbags to create a level and firm working platform above it) - except one point where it went just over welly-deep ...Ed Monday: As would become the theme of this camp, Monday was spent mostly mixing mortar and pointing. Entertainment in the morning was provided by Tom almost falling off the Youngman board into the lock. Luck-

Swansea Canal Fact File

Length: 16 miles, 6 to be restored Locks: 36 originally Date closed: 1928-1960 The Canal Camp project: Rebuilding Trebanos Upper Lock and towpath wall work nearby

Sw an se a

Ca na l

Abercraf Upper lengths lost under new road Glyn-Neath l Godre’r-Graig na a C The wider picture: With the top five miles th a Canal Camp Pontardawe Ne from Godre’r-Graig to Abercraf largely lost to site: Trebanos Resolven 1970s road improvements, and the bottom Clydach five miles from Swansea Docks to Clydach Original route mostly buried under urban development, Swansea obstructed Aberdulais Canal Society is concentrating on the middle six Proposed miles from Clydach to Godre’r-Graig. But in the diversion Neath

Why? These locks are on the surviving central section of the canal, and below them is a length which is the subject of a bid for funding for dredging. If successful, this length could host a trailboat festival, and in the longer term a trip-boat making use of the locks.

longer term a diversionary route could be created, avoiding the missing lower length, and ultimately reinstating the Swansea link to the Tennant and Neath canals.

t nan Ten al Can

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Pictures by Martin Ludgate

ily Tony was on hand to grab him and pull him back onto the board. In the afternoon, Su, Ian, Barry, Emma and Sue worked further down the canal on what we termed the ‘crazy paving’. The local society were building the canal wall by building up layers of sand bags, and then putting a layer of slate over the top jigsaw-style. Total wet feet counter: 4 – Bev stepped in the watery hole and flooded both her wellies. Tom also stepped in the watery hole in an attempt to rescue Bev and flooded one of his wellies.

Upper Trebanos Lock: ripping out old mortar and vegetation

Tuesday: It rained. Normally this wouldn’t have stopped WRG, but given our only job was pointing, which can’t be done in the rain, we decided to go on a group excursion to Big Pit mining museum instead. The ceilings of Big Pit were very low, especially for a camp of quite tall people. We then went for lunch on the Mon & Brec Canal before heading to a lock to show our three D-of-E’ers how locks actually work. On our drive back to the accommodation, we saw a man in a T-Rex costume [the prehistoric creature, not the 1970s glam rock group] being herded into the back of a horsebox by several policemen. I’m not joking, that actually happened. Wednesday: On site, surprise, surprise, the day was filled with pointing and crazy paving. Ian G and Su did an amazing job on this, and completed more that the Swansea Canal Society had ever expected. Emma, one of our D-of-E’ers, learnt how to mix mortar and became brilliant at it, keeping everyone well supplied. While Emma provided mortar, Colin finished his corner wall, which he’d been doing amazing work on for the past few days and Martin L patched up some of the more serious holes in the wall. Total wet feet counter: 7 – Dave flooded one of his wellies in the lock and Sue got both her boots wet moving between the

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pallets and the Youngman’s boards. I managed to stand in two different watery holes but by some miracle managed not to flood either of my wellies. For the evening activity that night, the local society let us borrow their canoes and kayaks. Tom managed to fall out of his kayak, but given how shallow the canal is, he barely got wet. The same can’t be said for Emma. Although she didn’t fall in, she kayaked with such exuberance that she ended up wetter than Tom was. Thursday: As well as the crazy paving and pointing, today we pushed the coping stones back into position. Entertainment was provided today by the release of a newspaper article about our efforts, where we were very flatteringly referred to as a group of volunteers ‘between the ages of 19-50’ … some of us fit into that age bracket. The canal also turned green on Thursday, although this was nothing to do with us. The council were trying to find a leak in the canal, but we did have to work in neon green water for part of the day. Total wet feet count: 9 – Rhys stepped off the last step of the access ladder into the water in his boots, rather than onto the dry pallet. Martin D knew he had a hole in one of his wellies, so attempted to brush

down the dry mortar standing on one leg. Whilst he looked very graceful, he didn’t succeed in keeping his foot dry. We were very grateful to the Canal Society who took up out to dinner that evening, although the restaurant itself could best be described as… interesting. The food took over two hours to arrive, but thankfully it was lovely to talk to the society so the wait wasn’t too terrible. We did however learn that I had been named in the society’s blog as Rhiannon Lewis, rather than Rhiannon Smith, which provided amusement when they were very confused to learn I wasn’t actually Welsh. Thanks also have to go to Harri, who, as well as providing delicious food for us all week, also volunteered to be our duty driver, doing two runs to get us there and two to get us back. Friday: A lot of pointing was done, a lot of crazy paving was done and a lot of mortar was mixed. Everyone wanted to get as much done as possible before we had to check the kit and head back to the accommodation for the last time, especially Tony, who we were very sad to The ‘crazy paving’ towpath wall lose at 11am so he could catch his train home. Total wet feet counter: 10 – Dave managed to flood his wellies (again) … although this time it was the other welly. Side note to our illustrious leader, MKP: WE FOUND THE LOST BUCKET! One of the society members was using a yellow bucket that definitely had a red WRG tag on it, so at the end of the camp we took it back with us, only to discover in the kit check that we now had 11… so there are 11 WRG buckets travelling in Kit A. Saturday: It was a sad moment to see everyone leaving, and the weather seemed to reflect this, as it poured down. But everyone really enjoyed themselves and we got a tremendous amount of work done. We couldn’t have done it without the amazing group of volunteers we had, and thanks also has to go to our local society members who worked with us every day, Gordon and Rhodri, as well as all the other society members who came out to give us a hand. Rhiannon Smith

Re-pointing the lock chamber wall in traditional lime mortar

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Camp report Cotswold Canals

Inglesham Lock sees another big push this year, with the KESCRG anniversary dig followed by a series of six camps. Darren Shepherd reports from the first of these...

Cotswold Canals, 1-8 July Inglesham lock Leader: Darren Shepherd, assisted by David Miller and fed by Anne Lilliman. My first full week long camp as leader had a number of other firsts... It was the first camp of the summer season using the brand new vans RFB and SAD, also on their first ever camp following some last minute reshuffle of vehicle movements. The leadership team plus Mick Lilliman met at Brimscombe port on the Friday evening, where, due to the fact that the training weekend had taken place there the weekend before, the accommodation kit, vans and trailer were already waiting for us. So it was felt the best thing to do for the evening once everything had been set up would be to head to the Ship Inn. So with the aid of a screwdriver we gained access to the secure room where equipment had been stored, set it up and headed out to formulate

a plan for the week ahead. Saturday arrived all too soon and the team set about getting everything ready for the arrival of camp volunteers. Anne and Mick concentrating on the accommodation and shopping whilst David and myself sorted vehicles and headed to site for what would be only my second visit to see how work had progressed following the KESCRG 40th anniversary work party [see report, Navvies 283]. Site visit and liaison with Rick Barnes over (there wasn’t much to see as the lock was full of water) we headed back to Brimscombe Port to continue with camp preparations, the first of which was to fill both vans with fuel and give them a clean. (I thought this was something we’d have to do at the end of camp, not the beginning). That done, the trailer was next on the list and so began a little game of hide and seek to see which door it hid behind. Having tried all the easily accessible units there was just one left which happened to be behind the Heras fencing that ran the entire length of the

Cotswold Canals Fact File

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

The Canal Camp project: restoring Inglesham Lock Why? Inglesham Lock is the ‘gateway lock’ where the Cotswold Canals (the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal) meet the River Thames. It’s being restored thanks to an Inland Waterways Association appeal, and will open up access to the canal from the Thames. The wider picture: Much of the work in recent years has been concentrated on the west end of the route, where we have been helping to complete the Phase 1a section (Stonehouse to Brimscombe) before a Lottery bid for the Phase 1b length (Saul to Stonehouse) is submitted later this year. But restoring Inglesham will open up a ‘second front’, ensuring that the eastern sections aren’t forgotten in the efforts to get western lengths connected to the network. Canal Camp site: Inglesham Lock

Phase 1b: Saul to Stonehouse Phase 1a: Stonehouse to Brimscombe

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Phase 3: Brimscombe to Cerney

Phase 2: Inglesham to Cerney

Pictures by David Miller

units, and with no Scaff spanner to create an opening, or any other kind of spanner, (all of them being in the trailer) we headed off down to where the digger and dumper training had taken place to look for the end of the fence. Trailer located, it was back to the accommodation for a bite to eat. Volunteers began arriving, the first of which being Alan Lines who was with us for one day and brought the meat (of little concern for me being the only veggie, or vegetable as Alan preferred to call me, on camp). Another WRGie regular to arrive early on Saturday was David Smith who promptly set about installing a cold water feed on the downstairs tap. A job that everybody who works on the Inglesham site should appreciate as it means water containers no longer have to be lugged up and down stairs for filling. David continued in the role of ‘Mr Fixit’ throughout the week and when I left the following Saturday was busy re-installing the female shower base as this had developed a leak worse than the men’s. Kit checks done and now with all the volunteers arrived and settled in we sat down for the first of many great meals by Anne (jacket potato with quiche and salad) before watching the Health and Safety video and issuing PPE. Sunday dawned bright and early (which is more than can be said of some of the volunteers); it was going to be a hot day. And so, fed and watered and with a packed lunch we headed off to site, one van going via Alex Farm to fetch lime and the other taking the trailer. (Another first for me, having done my trailer ticket the week before and receiving my tacho card on Friday). After a slow start getting everything set up, the lock pumped out and the scaffold inspected by John Hawkins we set about the task of laying bricks, Alan Lines continuing with the 1000 brick challenge as he was only with us for the one day, and Robert Brotherston beavering away in the lock ladder recess to try and catch up with the level of the recent brickwork. Credit at this point to Mick Lilliman who did a splendid job of demonstrating how to mix lime mortar and expressing the importance of maintaining the correct ratios to ensure a consistent mix

Progress on the chamber wall rebuilding

every time. Something that the mix crew of Michael Jay, Sue March and Josh Brooks did throughout the week with no complaints from the brickies. With the site secured at the end of the day it was all back to BP where there were a few tasks to do before showering and sitting down for an evening meal of roast pork and crackling (one veggie alternative) and my first post-workday briefing. With no evening entertainment arranged for Sunday (and The Ship being closed) most people opted for an early night. The work continued in the same vein during the week, with tasks being mixed around to prevent people becoming bored, Jason Kerr joined the mix crew and Joshua Gratton spent some time sorting the bricks from the stone at the far end of the lock. Mick L continued on the 1000 brick challenge assisted by William Horne and James Ayres, and Rob B continued in the ladder recess, occasionally surfacing for air and food. With the ladder recess now on the same level as the wall, John H was able to string a full length line for each new course that we went up. Charles Jenkins worked steadily on the facing bricks as did the Americans Laurie Gunn and Chris Butler, who also had a hand in the concrete blocks (Laurie was even impressed with the Portaloo, proclaiming it much better than anything they have back home). Whilst this went on there was all the usual moving of bricks and blocks, mortar and water and I’m pleased to say everybody helped to the best of their abilities. The sun continued beating down and

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regular breaks for water and shade were After lunch we all set about the task of cleanrequired. The mercury was rumoured to be ing tools and carrying out the kit check, took up around the 30 mark and with no breeze it photo’s, shook hands and admired our work. was taking its toll: energy levels were falling, Back at the accommodation, showered although enthusiasm remained high. and clean we tucked into a final evening This was apparent most in the evenings meal by Anne of various curry dishes (one - try as I did to organise entertainment, most meat alternative) and after a final post-camp were happy to stay at the accommodation briefing by me, and now joined by Alan and and read, chat or sleep. That said, we did Nigel, we headed off to The Stroud Brewery manage to get two teams for the pub quiz at and/or The Ship (in some cases both) for our The Retreat on Monday night (with hindsight last night shindig. we probably wouldn’t have bothered as the Hopefully I haven’t missed anybody acoustics were terrible and none of us could out, apologies if I have, everybody did a really understand what the quiz master was fantastic job throughout the week. shouting into the microphone). The team I And there ends my report. But not can’t hear the questions! consisting of Daves quite... Smith and Miller with Anne narrowly beat the I would just like to say I thoroughly team What happened to the music round? of enjoyed the experience leading camp, and Darren, John, James and Will by 26 points to cannot praise enough the efforts of David 22. (or at least we think they were the scores Miller who did a sterling job in the run up by as we couldn’t hear the answers either). recruiting some very experienced brickies, Wednesday evening after saying goodand was always there to back up any decibye to Jason and Joshua, who had to leave sions I made throughout the week. us for a prior arrangement at school, was a Anne too requires thanking again for trip to Stroud Bowl where Darren, John, her tireless efforts in keeping us all fed. I can Dave M, James and Will enjoyed two inconhonestly say there wasn’t any food wasted at sistent, entertaining games. The victors this any point during the week, with all plates time being Dave and James. returned to the kitchen cleaned of contents. For Thursday the remaining volunteers My final first will remain unpublished: got to finish a little earlier (well-deserved those that know, know; those that don’t, given the heat) as thanks to Alan Driver of need not know. the Cotswold Canal Trust we had a little boat Cheers, trip down river to look at the lock from the Darren Shepherd other side of the arch adjacent to the Roundhouse followed by a slurp in The Trout before heading back to BP and another of Anne’s excellent meal offerings (Chicken with one veggie alternative). And so to Friday and the last day on site. We’d lost two more as the Americans had to leave us after breakfast. They weren’t to be the only ones missing though as David S disappeared to run a pre-arranged errand with Nic, and David M took three more to Alex Farm to unload a delivery of 40 bags of lime (a timely delivery as we were down to the last bag) and without which there’d be nothing for Harry Watts’ camp to do the following week. Those that remained on site laid a final line of Another view of the chamber wall work, showing the recess headers and a few more blocks.

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A successful WRG North West week-long working party saw the removal of a significant obstruction to reopening the ’Mont’. Bob Dewey sets the scene... Restoring the Montgomery The story begins many years ago (when most of the current navvies were still in nappies) when having moved from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal I decided to see what the Montgomery had to offer. I set off to walk the dry section between Maesbury and Llanymynech on the Welsh border. At first it was fairly easy going but at Pant, the towpath was blocked by a strong post and wire fence and a railway embankment. Having checked that no trains were expected (the line had closed in 1966), I squeezed through the fence and scrambled up the side of the bank (no steps in those days) and down the other side. It looked a fairly straightforward project to remove this blockage – little did I know... A farmer who I know in the area said he would be happy to take all the material for making roads on his farm – so all we would have to do was dig the stone and put it into his trailers. Job done. That’s where the problems started. Firstly, is a derelict railway embankment across an abandoned canal the property of the Canal & River Trust (CRT) or does it still belong to the British Rail residuary body? (Ironically, now managed by the Highways Agency) We never did get a definitive answer but neither seemed to object so we left that question undetermined. Next, was the material suitable to go on a farm? I was initially told that we would have to fund the chemical tests to ensure it was non-polluting. Thankfully, CRT did those tests but they proved that it was contaminated and we were told it would have to go to a licensed tip in Sunderland – ouch! I still have never fully understood how material dumped in 1952, which one presumes was not too nasty at the time, could now be a hazard. If it had been polluted, the rains of the last 65 years would surely have washed it clean?

Montgomery The Pant Embankment

Anyway to cut short the story, the material was re-classified as polluted but not hazardous and we offered it to the local builders and local railway groups but they had no use for it. Then there was the small matter of the very large trees which had grown on the bank since the line had closed. It has already been reported that WRG Forestry came to the rescue and dismantled the trees, and the local people rapidly removed the resulting piles of timber. Then there was the matter of planning permission. I am convinced that we did not need permission - but CRT decided to play safe and acceded to Shropshire County Council’s demand for an application. This delayed us from the spring when we had originally intended to start. And so it was that on July 12th two large excavators (we had asked for 2 x 12 tonne but they only had one, so we had a 12 and a 21 tonne machine), and 3 x 6 tonne dumpers arrived at the site. Ju wil tell you more [see over]. Suffice it to say with the hugely valued support of CRT’s Kevin Walker and Martin Carney together with the diligent support of CRT ecologist Stuart Moodie, the work began. My personal thanks as well to all those from WRG and the Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS) who ensured a successful conclusion five days later. Especially to Ju and Malcolm who kept the team together. Now it’s over to you - visit www.RestoreTheMontgomeryCanal.uk and read more about the project. If you can, please make a donation too. Bob Dewey Now turn the page for the report by Ju Davenport into how the week’s work went on. And see page 26 for a letter from John Dodwell (of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, and also a CRT Trustee) for his side of the story.

page 13

Camp report Montgomery Canal WRG NW at Pant Montgomery Canal This was a bit different from your usual runof-the-mill canal camps. Firstly it ran midweek to midweek; secondly it was run by WRG North West; thirdly it was a very machinery-oriented week. But in addition to all that, it was the culmination of some years of negotiations (see previous page), plus a preparatory dig earlier this year, all aiming to achieve an objective which WRG volunteers had been targeting for a long time. This was the removal of the former railway embankment at Pant, which represented one of only two remaining major obstructions standing in the way of reopening the Montomery Canal through to the Welsh border over the coming years. Ju Davenport reports...

Reporting from a rather different week of work on the Montgomery Canal - and a very important one in terms of progress with restoration loading the wagons from the pile they created. A small team of Adrian Sturgess. Bob Dewey, Dave Joyner, David Wild, Diane Richardson, John Hawkins, Malcolm, myself and a couple of Shropshire Union Canal Society (SUCS) guys Nick and Fred started the work, not forgetting Martin, the excellent CRT guy, who is as hard to get out of the cab of a digger as Adrian. We were on site by 8am for the first couple of days with Malcolm cooking until Thursday when we said ’bye to him and Diane. Friday morning we were on site for 7.30, with a couple of SUCS volunteers Nick and Fred later welcoming Darren Shepherd, Lynda Beresford, Matt Baines, Paul Shaw and Steve Morley to the accommodation. Fantastic weather with only one bit of drizzle kept us going and we were on site again for 7.30 on Saturday. A constant stream of dumpers were seen all day, with us having lunch when we were able to as the machines needed to be kept going, with the embankment largely removed by 12pm but still levelling to be done. The wagons didn’t run on Sunday so we gathered together the remaining ballast ready for Monday. David Wild took over the cooking with help from Matt who also did the shopping -

Jane Barkess

Work had already started when I arrived late on site after road works. We first had to lay an access ‘haul road’ in the canal bed due to a drainage pipe being found uncomfortably close to the surface. Recovering geo-textile from the container in the jungle which was once Crickheath Wharf proved an interesting exercise; good job we had some slashers in the van. Having completed that, we then started to remove the embankment to the other end of site, to be taken away by a steady stream of five wagons the next morning. We had a 21tonne digger loading scoops of embankment into 3 x 6 tonne dumpers to ferry the ballast The former bridge abutments reappear as the embankment is dug out and a 13 tonner

page 14

Montgomery Canal Fact File

Llangollen Canal To Frankton Hurleston

To Llangollen

Former Aston Weston Arm Locks En g Maesbury W lan Gronwen Bridge ale d (limit of navigation) s Crickheath The Canal Camp project: Removing the old Pant railway embankment across the canal at Pant School House Bridge Llanymynech (to be restored) Why? Because it’s one of only two serious block- Carreghofa Vyrnwy ages (the other is School House Bridge, which has Locks Canal camp site: Aqueduct (restored) already got a grant towards rebuilding it) on the railway crossing Arddleen length of canal between Crickheath and the one4 road blockages Burgedin mile navigable section straddling the Welsh border at between Llanymynech Locks Llanymynech. So with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arddleen already supporting reopening the canal to Crickheath

Length: 33 miles Locks: originally 26, 1 new lock added Closed: 1936 (abandoned 1944)

by 2020, this project is helping towards extending navigation by another couple of miles into Wales. 12 mile isolated restored

Welshpool The wider picture: As well as opening navigable length from up significant lengths of canal to navigation Arddleen through and reaching the landmark of the Welsh border, Welshpool to Refail this work is also helping to narrow the gap between there and the 12-mile isolated Berriew restored Welsh section which runs Refail all the way from Arddleen through 3 locks restored but Welshpool to Refail. Connect that up, and several road blockages over two thirds of the canal will be remain south of Refail continuously open - increasing the Final length into Newtown obstructed by impetus to carry on right down sewer in canal bed, terminus basin built on, to Newtown. Newtown

and a trip to get a fence post which I had promised the landowner would be replaced. We said goodbye to John H on Saturday and Paul and Lynda on Sunday. David Joyner left on Monday night taking with him a digger key (more interested in an ice cream he-he) He has now very kindly sorted it out and we managed with one digger as we had reduced the wagons to two. It was just levelling left and removing the haul road, Adrian carefully machine grading the residual ballast to ensure the sewer pipe stayed well covered. The rest was cleared by hand with shovels as a traditional navvy would do. In between the work we managed to train Nick (SUCS) on dumpers and Darren on big diggers. All done by Tuesday night, we secured site, completely cancelled the wagons on Wednesday and had a meal out as we were told Brownies were invading the accommodation - but they never arrived. A great meal

possibility of diversion to new terminus

was had by all and no washing up. A few quotes of the week: on the method statement we were advised NOT to eat the ballast; the Dolphin (Welsh pub) was shut at 6pm, advised to go to the English pub (Bradford Arms). Thank you to Mandy Morley for the cake. Thank you to some volunteers who moved my Hi Vis off the dumper that I could drive (handbrakes were the main problem) and me then shouting “someone’s been on site and messed with my dumper”. I then found I could drive two dumpers. Quote of the week was heard from me: “These shovels are heavy enough without shit on them”. On Sunday we were inspected by Mr Mac, Jane and David. It was fantastic to see them. Overall, it was a great week with great volunteers, a great CRT guy, and great weather. We removed 1114.5 tonnes of railway ballast over the week. Ju Davenport

page 15

WRG Print How Navvies is printed WRG Print:The ‘part’ history of...

We then purchased a second hand A4 vacuum fed press that made the printing process rather easier. Also around the same time we bought a collating machine from a printer friend of my wife. During this time the centre sheet of Navvies was printed on gold coloured paper to ‘define’ the sets because I had to put it all back into boxes for transportation for the assembly, stapling and folding etc. But still the need to ‘lick and stick’. Time marched on and it was decided to buy an A3 off-set machine, complete with a second colour head to produce a better two colour cover, and ultimately four coloured cover which was going to be a very tricky operation. Around this time Chris Griffiths (a longtime WRG volunteer) who owns print company Stroudprint offered to print the covers in four colour for us at cost, a very good offer – thanks Chris. The big advantage of using the A3 machine is that four pages can be printed in one pass; the big downside is if things go

Pictures by John Hawkins

Little did I realise many years ago that when my wife Tess and I volunteered to take over WRG Print from Mike and Meg Day (issue 82 1982) that I’d still be printing Navvies in 2017 – issue 284 coming up. Over that period there have been at least four editors possibly five, I’m not too certain if Graham Palmer was still the editor for our first issue. The WRG Print operation has changed considerably over the years, in part to do with technology and also the availability of machines. When we took over from Mike the only machines were a desk top friction-fed printing machine and a guillotine – oh and several long-arm staplers! The master plates were produced by a company in Watford from a ‘cut and paste’ (and that’s real cut and paste, with real scissors and real paste!) hard copy sent by post from the editor. The pictures were supplied separately ‘masked-out’ to fit into the necessary positions in the text – with, on occasion, some quite interesting wrong locations, so that the text didn’t match the picture. This then progressed to the artwork being created on a computer and printed out, then partly sent electronically, and now it is all sent in digital form to platemakers DPD (they give us a very good service) who then produce the masters. These used to be on a very thin aluminium sheet and could be re-used if needed, but the latest masters are on plastic sheet and not re-usable. When all was printed, it was collated, stuffed, folded and stapled manually at a factory unit in North Finchley. There would be about twenty people there, and with any luck we would be completed before midnight. Not to forget all of the ‘licking and sticking’ of envelopes and stamps.

John Hawkins looks back at how things have changed over 35 years of printing Navvies - and brings us up to date on how it’s done today

page 16

The printing press currently in use

wrong there’s a lot of ‘mushy’ paper to clean off all the rollers. The litho system works by some rollers putting a thin coat of water onto the non-image area and several rollers spreading the ink onto the image areas. It gets very interesting, to say the least, when this combination goes wrong. The machine also saves quite a lot of print time but it then means that the paper has to be guillotined exactly in half – at least this can be done for about a ream of paper in one cut. Having collected the covers that have been delivered from Stroud to the IWA office in Chesham, it can now all be collated. This machine collates the sets at about 100 to each other, which makes the next stage of production a little easier. The next machine that we purchased was small booklet maker. Collated sets are hand fed into the machine, which then staples, folds and pushes out the copy at the end of the operation. We have now moved onto a bigger and slightly different process. Chris, he from Stroudprint, kindly donated another machine or rather two machines that link together. He had recently updated his set up and these machines were no longer needed. After all of settings have been checked for accuracy a collated set is fed into the first machine; the first stage ‘knocks it up’, staples and then folds before feeding it through to the next that cuts off the ‘fore edge’.

The collating machine

The next part of the set up forms the ‘square back’ on the spine – this machine was kindly bought for me by WRG NW. The finished magazines are then collected and stacked into plastic stacker crates for taking to the London Canal Museum for the stuffing evening. Over the years we have progressed from tearing stamps from their sheets, to buying them on rolls and hand franking the envelopes with a rubber stamp. Now I put the envelopes through the printing machine, so that we also get the ‘Navvy man’ as well as the stamp etc. Even the envelopes are self-sealing! I aim to get Navvies produced and into the post by around the middle of ‘even months’ or soon after. In order to achieve this I usually contact Martin at the beginning of the month to establish a likely date when he will be sending the files to the platemakers and also how many pages that edition is looking to be so that I can order the paper. Sue Watts is also contacted so that the renewals can be forwarded to Jenny or Alex at head office and the main database is updated in order for the labels to be printed. I usually print sufficient envelopes to send out three or four issues of Navvies – nearly all of the settings on the print machine have to be changed for this operation. A date has to be arranged with the London Canal Museum for us to do the stuffing; I then email or phone people who help on the evening. During the evening labels are stuck onto the envelopes, Navvies inserted and also any other paperwork that may be going out with that edition – not forgetting the allimportant renewal slips. And these days, no licking! The next morning I deliver them to the IWA Office for forward posting. I stamp and post the ones that go overseas in my local post box. It would be good to see some other people assisting with the Navvies stuffing (usually from about 7pm until all is complete – these days before 9pm). Just email me (address etc is in Navvies) and I’ll inform you of the date for the next edition. Many thanks to those few regular people who help on these evenings and to the London Canal Museum for the continuing use of their excellent facilities. John Hawkins.

page 17

WRG NW 40 years of paperchase

having officially come into being on 1 January 1977, thanks in no small way to the endeavours of Christopher Griffiths (yes, the very same one who now arranges for the colour printing of the cover of Navvies), and who was one of the principal architects whose eager young brains masterminded such a conception. Chris undertook the compilation of a press release to lots of newspapers to proclaim the event and had the satisfaction of seeing it appear in at least two national dailies and local rags. So, unlike our southern counterparts, the Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG), who, in Navvies no. 282, wondered about their exact date of birth, we ‘oop t’North’ know to the minute. We hail their dedication and continuing vigour, which, we have to admit, have lately taken a bit of a bashing hereabouts so much so that we missed the significant 1st January 1977/ 2017 and thus far our only celebratory ‘do’ is planned to take place on Saturday 7 October

page 18

Pictures by Carolyn Chafer

30th June 1977 For most people this date was just another Thursday. For those engaged in industry or commerce, the last day of the month was simply the time to prepare or pay monthly bills. The country’s quarter of a million bank workers viewed the last days of June with apprehension as (together with 31 December) it was the time for the ‘Half Yearly Balance’ when every penny had to be accounted for and returns to Head Office despatched with all speed. The many hours of overtime late into the evening for two or three weeks prior to these two dates would cease when the branches went ‘online’, connected to computer centres and all was done, presumably, at the touch of a button. Thus it was on this fateful day that one David Arthur McCarthy (our very own Mr Mac) left the branch of Barclays where he earned his corn at his usual time, returned home, had his evening meal and was contemplating (yet again) what to do with this new-found time when his reverie was disturbed by a ring on the door bell. He admitted a fellow founder of WRG North West, Tom Cook, who was to be taken out by Ian Mac for a drink to celebrate his 31st birthday. During the ensuing chit-chat whilst waiting for Ian to arrive, Tom could barely contain himself to say that, after years of pleading by his dear Mum, he had finally cleared the small back bedroom at home of all the countless copies of Wireless World, the magazine for radio buffs. En route to the local council tip he saw a banner which said ‘We buy waste paper’. Some ten minutes later, Tom drove out with £2.86 in his little hot hand. “Hey”, says Tom, “How about WRG collecting waste paper?” That eager innocent/unsuspecting/foolhardy couple, Mr & Mrs Mac, readily agreed. Amidst all the ensuing planning etc. for the new enterprise, little mention was made of the fact that on that very same day, WRG North West was exactly six months old,

Have you ever noticed the words ‘WRG North West: Paperchase waste paper collection’ in the Diary? Here’s how it all began...

Mr Mac, Paperchase supremo for many years...

when we are celebrating the 400th, yes four hundredth waste paper collection, otherwise known as the ‘paperchase’, in the North Manchester suburb of Crumpsall. Over the years, the dates for the paperchase collections have been communicated to some 1400 houses by leaflets on 91 occasions and involving around 120 people who have collected 3781 tonnes of paper, the record amount of 14 tonnes being on each of two Saturdays in 1999 together with huge amounts of bric-a-brac and an unknown number of books which we have sold via our sales stand at various outdoor events thus enabling WRG North West to stay solvent and even on occasions to make contributions to the purchase of items of plant and vehicles. Only twice have we failed to go round to collect on the due dates, firstly due to treacherous black ice on the roads and secondly when the petrol tanker drivers were on strike! Three of those on the original paperchase still grace us with their presence – all ‘Macs’ – Mr Mac, Ian Mac and Barry McGuinness, whilst the custodian of all the monies raised, Roger Evans, our treasurer, was one of the founding members of the Merseyside section which was part of North West. Many others can claim long service medals, not least John Foley, who not only appears at virtually every event, but whose love of books has lead him to becoming the ‘Book King’ of the waterway movement. John must literally have vetted hundreds of thousands of books and dealt with their sale or disposal – a process which continues to this very day as he vainly tries to re-discover the floor of his garage. WRG NW took a leading role in the early days of the restoration of the Montgomery Canal, especially Frankton Locks at its junction with the Llangollen Canal and will hopefully, by the time that this is in print, have completely removed the infill from an old railway bridge which crossed the canal before it too was abandoned [Yes they have see report elsewhere in this issue]. Two trips were made to clear a lock in Glasgow plus a later trip to Linlithgow at the request of the old British Waterways. Regular visits were made to the Stratford Canal and later to what became a favourite – the Lichfield Canal. The proposed ‘do’ on 7 October will be held in the hall attached to the Methodist Church, Crumpsall, a mere three hundred yards from the site of our waste paper activity on the car park of The Cleveland Hotel.

On that day we hope to finish the waste paper collection by 12:30 pm. The reunion will then commence straight afterwards. Should anyone insist, for the sake of tradition, that they have fish & chips, they can be provided, but we are intending to have a caterer bring in meat & potato or cheese & onion pie. Active steps are also being taken to source a supply of broken biscuits to provide for ‘afters’ as per the happy days in the kitchen of Mr Mac’s former home, Woodstock, which saw much activity by WRG NW. So whether you’ve chased the waste paper or dug in the cut and would like to come and renew acquaintances over the last 40 years, here’s your chance. Please let Mr Mac know (by Morse code, heliograph or pigeon – see below) if you are coming and your choice of meat & potato or cheese & onion pie, preferably no later than 30 September. There will be a suggested £2 donation to cover the costs of the food, payable on the day. If you wish to avoid travelling twice in one day there is much floor space for the hardened types and even some beds for the early birds, failing which there is a Premier Inn about a mile away. Contact: Mr D A McCarthy MBE, 20 Andrew Avenue, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 6EU, phone 01706 214696 (noon – midnight, his usual working hours). Brian Lomas

...and present incumbent Barry McGuinness

page 19

Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Aug 26-Sep 2 CC201724 Aug 26-Sep 2 CC201725 Sep 1-7 WAT Sep 2/3 Essex WRG Sep 2/3 London WRG Sep 2 Sat wrgNW Sep 2/3 wrgNW Sep 9/10 KESCRG Sep 10, 24 NWDCT Sep 13 Wed wrgNW Sep 16/17 wrgBITM Sep 17 ?? WRG Sep 23/24 London WRG Oct 6-12 WAT Oct 7/8 KESCRG Oct 7/8 NWPG Oct 7 Sat wrgNW Oct 8 Sun wrgNW Oct 14/15 London WRG Oct 20-28 WRGFT2017 Oct 21/22 wrgBITM Oct 21-28 CC201726 Oct 21-28 CC201727 Nov 3-9 WAT Nov 4/5 BB2017 Nov 4 Sat WRG Nov 11/12 NWPG Nov 11 Sat wrgNW Nov 18/19 London WRG Nov 18/19 wrgBITM Dec 1-7 WAT Dec 2/3 Essex WRG Dec 2/3 KESCRG Dec 2/3 London WRG Dec 2/3 wrgNW Dec 9/10 wrgBITM Dec 16 Sat wrgNW Dec 26-Jan 1 wrgBITM Dec 26-Jan 1 CC201728

Grantham Canal: Merged with NWPG camp Grantham Canal: (NWPG camp, moved from Stover Canal) Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Chesterfield Canal: Joint dig with WRG North West ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Chesterfield Canal: Joint dig with London WRG Cotswold Canals: Inglesham North Walsham & Dilham Canal Ad Hoc Meeting Wey & Arun Canal Committee & Board Meetings: DATE TO BE CHANGED Wey & Arun Canal Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu Cotswold Canals: Inglesham (to be confirmed) Wey & Arun Canal: Dunsfold Summit ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Sankey Canal Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Derby & Sandiacre Canal: WRG Forestry Camp Lichfield Canal: Fosseway Lane site Grantham Canal Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu Uttoxeter Canal: Bonfire Bash - Reunion Weekend Committee & Board Meetings: at Bonfire Bash Cotswold Canals: Western End. ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Wey & Arun Canal Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Wendover Arm: Profiling & lining Fri-Thu Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Cotswold Canals: LWRG/KESCRG Xmas Party, Scrub bashing at Whitmi Cotswold Canals: LWRG/KESCRG Xmas Party, Scrub bashing at Whitmi T.B.A.: Christmas Dinner dig (Cromford?) Grantham Canal: Christmas Work Party at Cropwell Bishop ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Wilts & Berks Canal: Christmas Camp at Dauntsey. Leader: Rachael Ban Christmas Camp: To be confirmed

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

page 20

nster nster


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

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

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

01494-783453 01494-783453 01442-874536 01376-334896 07802-518094 0161-681-7237 07808-182004 07971-814986 01603-738648

enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk rwleishman@gmail.com essex@wrg.org.uk london@wrg.org.uk b.mcguinness1@gmail.com nw@wrg.org.uk bobby@kescrg.org.uk davgis@live.co.uk

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

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

ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page

page 21

Navvies diary

canal society regulars

Canal societies’ regular working parties Every Sunday if required BBHT Every Tuesday BCA Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS Thursdays Sep-Apr BCT 2nd Sun & alternate Thu BuCS Every Mon and Wed CCT Every mon am Thu pm CCT Various dates CCT Every Sunday ChCT Every Tue and Thu CSCT Every Tue & Wed C&BN Every Friday ECPDA Second Sun of month FIPT Thu and last Sat of month GCS Tuesdays H&GCT Weekends H&GCT Wednesdays H&GCT Thursdays H&GCT Every weekday KACT/CRT 2nd Sunday of month LCT Every Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun LHCRT 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Last weekend of month MBBCS Two Sundays per month NWDCT Weekly PCAS Every Wed and 1st Sat RGT 2nd Sunday of month SCARS 1st Sunday of month SCCS Last weekend of month SCS 2nd Sunday of month SNT Every Thu and Sat SORT various dates SRL 1st weekend of month SUCS Every Tuesday morning TMCA Most days, please contact WACT 1st w/e of month (Fri-Thu) WAT Every Sun WBCT Every Wed WBCT 2nd and last Sun of month WBCT

Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar Basingstoke Canal Chris Healy BCN waterways Mike Rolfe Basingstoke Canal Duncan Paine Aqueduct section Tim Dingle Buckingham area Athina Beckett Cotswold (W depot) Reg Gregory Cotswold (E end) John Maxted Cotswold Phase 1a Jon Pontefract Chesterfield Canal Mick Hodgetts Chichester Canal Malcolm Maddison Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale Langley Mill John Baylis Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech Grantham Canal Ian Wakefield Oxenhall Brian Fox Over Wharf House Maggie Jones Over / Vineyard Hill Ted Beagles Herefordshire Wilf Jones Bradford on Avon Derrick Hunt Lancaster N. Reaches Robin Yates Lichfield Hugh Millington Hatherton Denis Cooper Creams Paper Mill Steve Dent N Walsham Canal David Revill Pocklington Canal Richard Harker Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird Sankey Canal John Hughes Combe Hay Locks Derrick Hunt Stover Canal George Whitehead Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby Sussex Ouse Ted Lintott Baswich, Stafford John Potter Montgomery Canal David Carter Thames & Medway C Les Schwieso Wey & Arun Canal Northern office Little Tring Roger Leishman Swindon Oliver Gardiner Wootton Bassett John Bower Pewsham Ray Canter

0161-427 7402 01252-370073 07763-171735 01252-614125 01288-361356 01908-661217 01452-614362 01285-861011 07986-351412 01246-620695 01243-775201 01376-334896 01623-621208 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2128 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 522648 01452 413888 01225-863066 01539-733252 01543-251747 01543-374370 07802-973228 01603-738648 07702-741211 01394-380765 01744-600656 01225-863066 01626-775498 01522-856810 01444-414413 01785-226662 01244-661440 01634-847118 01483-505566 01442-874536 07785-775993 01793 636297 01249 659111

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 2nd Saturday of month 2nd Saturday of month Every Tuesday Alternate Thursdays 1st Thursday of month 1st Sunday of month 3rd Thursday of month Last Saturday of month 3rd Thursday of month 1st Saturday of month 4th Thursday of month Every Wednesday 1st Wed & Fri of month Last Sunday of month 1st Saturday of month 2nd Friday of month Every Wednesday 1st Thursday of month 3rd Wednesday of month 3rd Thu & Sat of month 3rd Friday of month Alternate Tuesdays 1st & 3rd Sat of month 3rd Thursday of month 3rd Tuesday of month Last Tuesday of month Every Tuesday Every Thursday 2nd Thursday of month Alternate Tuesdays Alternate Thursdays 3rd Saturday of month 2nd Wednesday of month Every Friday 3rd Saturday of month 2nd Wednesday of month Every Tuesday Alternate Fridays 2nd Thu & Fri of month Alternate Wednesdays 4th Saturday of month 2nd Tuesday of month Every Tuesday Every Thursday

Anderton Weaver Audlem Shropshire Union Aylesbury Aylesbury Arm Bath Kennet & Avon Blackburn Leeds & Liverpool B&T Bridgwater & Taunton Burnley Leeds & Liverpool Cheshire Locks Trent & Mersey Chester Shropshire Union Devizes Kennet & Avon Fradley Coventry/ T&M Gailey Staffs & Worcs Gloucester Glos & Sharpness Hatton Grand Union Hawkesbury Coventry/Oxford Hemel Hemp. Grand Union Huddersfield Huddersfield Broad Icknield Port BCN Mainline Knottingley Aire & Calder Lancaster Lancaster Canal Lapworth Stratford Canal Leeds Leeds & Liverpool Leicester Soar/Grand Union London Cent. Regents/Docklands London East Lee & Stort London West Paddington/ GU Mirfield Calder & Hebble Mon & Brec Monmouth & Brecon Newark River Trent Newbury Kennet & Avon North Staffs Caldon/T&M North Warks Coventry/Ashby Oxford Oxford Preston Lancaster Canal Sefton Leeds & Liverpool Selby Selby Canal Skipton Leeds & Liverpool Sneyd Wyrley & Essington South Derbys Trent & Mersey Stratford Stratford Canal Tamworth Coventry/ Fazeley Tipton BCN Mainline Weaver River Weaver Wigan Leeds & Liverpool Worcester Worcester & B’ham


Bugsworth Basin Heritage Trust Basingstoke Canal Authority Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Basingstoke Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Cotswolds Canals Trust Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Society Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust


Jason Watts Jason Watts Sonny King Steve Manzi Alice Kay Steve Manzi Alice Kay Liam Cooper Jason Watts Steve Manzi Sue Blocksidge Sue Blocksidge Caroline Kendall Sue Blocksidge Sue Blocksidge Sonny King Becca Dent Sue Blocksidge Becca Dent Alice Kay Sue Blocksidge Becca Dent Wayne Ball David Ireland David Ireland David Ireland Becca Dent Caroline Kendall Wayne Ball Steve Manzi Liam Cooper Sue Blocksidge Sonny King Alice Kay Alice Kay Becca Dent Alice Kay Sue Blocksidge Wayne Ball Sue Blocksidge Sue Blocksidge Sue Blocksidge Jason Watts Alice Kay Caroline Kendall

07824 356556 07824 356556 07876 217059 07710175278 07825 196 365 07710175278 07825 196 365 01782 779903 07824 356556 07710175278 07917 585838 07917 585838 01452 318028 07917 585838 07917 585838 07876 217059 0113 2816811 07917 585838 0113 2816811 07825 196 365 07917 585838 0113 2816811 01636 675704 020 7517 5556 020 7517 5556 020 7517 5556 0113 2816811 01452 318028 01636 675704 07710175278 01782 779903 07917 585838 07876 217059 07825 196 365 07825 196 365 0113 2816811 07825 196 365 07917 585838 01636 675704 07917 585838 07917 585838 07917 585838 07824 356556 07825 196 365 01452 318028

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 Stafford Riverway Link 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 Sep 2 Sat

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

Sep 3 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

Sep 9 Sat

RGT/IWA Ipswich

River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Sep 10 Sun IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section Sep 14 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm Sep 16 Sat

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

Sep 19 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm Sep 19 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm: Painting, veg clearance & litter picking Sep 21 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Lock 41 Sep 26 Tue BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm Sep 26 Tue IWA NSSC/BPT Burslem Arm: Luke St, Middleport, Stoke on Trent. 10am-3pm Sep 30 Sat

IWA Chester

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

Oct 1 Sun

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

Every Wed

RGT/IWA Ipswich

Oct 7 Sat

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

Oct 8 Sun

IWA Lincs/SNT Sleaford Navigation: Various work on navigable section

River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Oct 12 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Uttoxeter Canal: Work party at Bridge 70, Crumpwood. 10am-3pm Oct 14 Sat

RGT/IWA Ipswich

Oct 17 Tue

BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm

Oct 17 Tue

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

River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm

Oct 19 Thu IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Lock 41 Oct 21 Sat

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

Oct 24 Tue

BCP/IWA Oxford Oxford Canal: Banbury Canal Partnership, 9am-1pm

Oct 24 Tue

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

Oct 28 Sat

IWA Chester

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

IWA branch abbreviations BBCW = Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire; Other abbreviations: BPT = Burslem Port trust; CUCT = Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Society; CRT = Canal & River Trust

Mobile groups' socials:

The following groups hold regular social gatherings

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

page 24

...and other one-day work

Navvies diary

For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 Steve Wood


Geoff Wood


Martin Bird



Martin Bird



Chris or Steve Hayes



Steve Wood





4pm Colin Garnham-Edge


Geoff Wood


John Brighouse


Colin Garnham-Edge Steve Wood 4pm

john.brighouse@waterways.org.uk bcpontheoxford@gmail.com



Christine Fraser


Geoff Wood


Martin Bird



Steve Wood



Chris or Steve Hayes



Steve Wood



Martin Bird



Colin Garnham-Edge


Geoff Wood


John Brighouse 4pm





Colin Garnham-Edge Steve Wood 4pm


bcpontheoxford@gmail.com 07976-805858

Christine Fraser

steve.wood@waterways.org.uk christine.fraser@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


“Local people have regarded this as an awful obstacle to restoration, and wondered how it could be dealt with. WRG have shown them how!”

...to the editor

page 26

over the mound, we didn’t want to dig out the Canal itself... and then leave an isolated area where water could gather. So: another obstacle to restoration has disappeared. Whilst the HLF funded section moves towards Crickheath, we plan the next stage. Please pencil in spring/summer 2019 for the rebuilding of School House Bridge, the last lowered bridge in the English section. We shall be using volunteers a lot. All this costs money - despite the efforts of volunteers. We have launched a new Appeal. Please go to the Appeal website www.restorethemontgomerycanal.uk - and look at the ‘donating’ page...and read how (through the generosity of a donor) we can turn £10 into £25. Monthly donations are especially appreciated. Regards John Dodwell Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust

John Hawkins

Hi Martin Through Navvies, may I thank WRG, and especially its North West group, for all the work done to remove the causeway blocking the Canal at Pant? This wasn’t WRG NW’s usual weekend hard work. A combination of Bob Dewey, Malcolm Bridge and Ju Davenport (and, I’m sure, others I don’t know about) organised a whole week’s work in the middle of July to remove what turned out to be about 1,100 tones of spoil and stone. It took less than the planned 8 days - now, there’s a surprise (but it was WRG!). Volunteers drove diggers and dumpers and loaded the muck to lorries which took the stuff away to a local waste management firm. It had to go there as it had some degree of contamination. The firm agreed to take it without charge - not for nothing did the owner remember volunteering to restore Frankton Locks some decades ago! A total of 15 volunteers came and helped, including some from the Shropshire Union Canal Society. They weren’t all there all the whole time - the work didn’t need that number. But all deserve our gratitude. The effect on local politicians and council staff of photographs showing what volunteers can do is truly remarkable. The rail causeway dates from the 1950s. After the canal had been closed, the rail bridge got too weak. It was demolished and the causeway built on top of the Canal. Then about ten years later, the railway itself closed. Local people have regarded this as an awful obstacle to restoration, and wondered how it could be dealt with. WRG have shown them how! Using Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) rates, we reckon the volunteers time was worth about £6k. The local Branch of the IWA paid for overnight accommodation. Plant hire etc cost about £6k - met from private donations. The work took the causeway down to towpath level. Apart from meaning the towpath is now walkable without having to climb

Digging out the Pant railway embankment

Our regular roundup of progress on waterway restoration projects around the country begins in Devon, where the Stover Canal Trust’s volunteers are up for an award... Stover Canal The Stover Canal Trust are pleased to announce that the restoration of Graving Dock Lock (an unusual structure, adapted from a lock into a dry dock after the length of canal above it fell out of use) is a finalist in the Canal & River Trust ‘Living Waterways’ Awards for 2017. We entered under the Restoration & Historic Environment category. Inspection by CRT representatives took place on the 12th June and they recommended our project to the meeting of the judging panel in July. Along with 18 other entrants under seven differing categories, we are invited to the awards ceremony in Birmingham on the 27th September where we will learn the final result.

Progress Stover Canal

Jointly funded by awards from the Association for Industrial Archaeology and the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ scheme, the major restoration was carried out by volunteers and contractors over two years. The WRG Canal Camp volunteers made a significant start to the project during September 2015 and contractors continued with the heavy lifting of the granite blocks in the October. The bed was re-grouted in 2016 when the overspill weir was also rebuilt. The final details of recreating the boiler structure and installing a seat were completed just prior to the inspection. We are planning a ceremony on the Saturday of our Open Weekend on the 23rd and 24th September, which celebrates the 225th anniversary of the completion of the canal to Ventiford Basin in 1792.

Restoration of Graving Dock Lock under way during last year’s Canal Camp

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Progress Derby... and Erewash...

Meanwhile on the Derby they’ve cleared a lock ready for restoration and acquired a row of cottages - while the Erewash marks 45 years since reopening

Derby Canal


Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust are making good progress in recovery of a stretch of canal and lock chamber at Borrowash. Working party teams have cleared a 350m length of encroaching trees and undergrowth and have exposed Shacklecross Lock ready for restoration work to start. Once evaluation is complete volunteers will be aiming to replace lining bricks and coping stones to the lock chamber. This will be a real 3-D puzzle as the original stones are now scattered around the site. WRG Forestry team are planning a visit in late October to take out dangerous alders along the towpath that are leaning over the adjacent railway line. It will be a rope and winch job to get rid of the last trees in the way of the restoration. Meanwhile the Trust has agreed the method statement to excavate a lock chamber at the entrance to the Derby Canal from the Erewash canal at Sandiacre and to deal with the infill including asbestos particles. Fund raising is now imminent on this project and is already underway for a full kilometre stretch at Draycott – of an appeal to the public for £100,000 the Trust has The uncovered Shacklecross Lock awaits restoration already raised £35,000.

page 28

Since receiving the progress report printed on the oppostie page we have had another update from the Derby & Sandiacre Canal Trust on the subject of their newly-acquired canal cottages... Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust announce the acquisition of the Canal Cottages near Draycott built prior to 1831 (and probably contemporaneous with the canal in 1796 – we’re still checking!) ready for restoration over the next year or so. The Trust is now recruiting volunteers with building skills to work alongside our architect, a professional site manager and tradespeople to revive the cottages and form a canal hub with cafe, shops and a place to exhibit the canal’s heritage. This building will form a base for the Trust and the community at one end of the ‘Golden Mile’ canal restoration from Hopwell Road to Derby Road. The ‘Golden Mile’ canal restoration was launched a couple of months ago and the Trust has so far raised £40,000 towards its £100,000 target. The Trust plans to complete the public fundraising (and matched funding) ready for construction to commence by Killingley in July 2018. The first stretch of canal and hub will demonstrate progress and the viability of the project, thereby enabling other sections of the full 12 mile restoration from Sandiacre to Derby and Swarkestone to move forward strongly. Chris Madge Meanwhile in the same part of the world as the Derby, an early WRG worksite the Erewash Canal is marking the 45th anniversary of its opening with a rally next spring. See below for details...

Boat Rally 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSOCIATION AND 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RE-OPENING OF LANGLEY MILL BASIN SPRING BANK HOLIDAY 26TH – 28TH MAY 2018 AT THE GREAT NORTHERN BASIN LANGLEY MILL NG16 4AA FREE ENTRY TO THE PUBLIC 10:00 – 16:00 DAILY  Variety of Stalls  Trade Boats  Historic Working Boats  Leisure Boats  Beer Tent, Entertainment and more… Come along and join us for a great family weekend by the canal For more information please visit: Our website http://erewashcanalpreservationanddevelopmentassoc.org.uk Our Facebook page, event No.1872646929690104

page 29

Progress Wey & Arun

Next we head to the deep south for the latest on the Wey & Arun’s Compasses Bridge, Gennets Bridge Lock, and elsewhere on the route from the Thames to the South Coast

The footway at the junction with the road has been paved and a fence and gate The new Compasses Bridge at Alfold, in the erected. A new security gate has been put in middle of the Wey & Arun’s Summit Level, is on the restored path, to prevent uncontrolled at last looking like the finished article, follow- pedestrian access on to Dunsfold Park, the ing two years of construction and landscapaerodrome and business complex. ing work. There is water under the bridge and Grass and wild flowers are coming up arrangements will be made soon on the on the newly landscaped eastern side of the southern side of the bridge to create space bridge, where a public viewing platform has for boats to turn. The section of the pound been built complete with an information board. to the north, up to the A281, is restored and On the Dunsfold Park side, the towpath has already been used for public trips on the ramp has been finished down from the Trust’s small boat John Smallpeice. bridge and the landing stage recovered from With the Compasses Bridge project its temporary burial during the construction substantially complete, attention is turning to work. It has survived remarkably intact and devising a strategy for de-silting the canal will be ready for use for boat trips later in south to the Tickner’s Heath causeway on the the year. edge of Dunsfold, where it is planned to The bank from the ramp down to the build a new bridge using the Compasses water’s edge has been re-profiled to a more Bridge plans as a basis for the construction. realistic gradient and the rubble covered in WACT’s Summit (Northern) Working clay and top soil. Party will also be finishing construction of


Wey & Arun Canal

Looking towards Compasses Bridge, with banks landscaped and profiled, and viewing platform complete

page 30

Also on the Wey & Arun, we’ve heard that a significant obstruction to restoration is set to be removed, thanks to Surrey Council setting aside money to reistate the missing B2130 Elmbridge Road canal bridge near Cranleigh as part of work to benefit road users....Ed

Bill Nicholson

NWPG install bank protection in Hunt Nature Park


the new Thriscutt Slipway not far from Compasses. Another task facing them is winding up the Compasses construction compound. Some of this will go to the slipway site and the rest will go to the Trust’s Tickner’s Depot to await the start of the next restoration project. As ever, WACT is grateful for the efforts of NWPG and other WRG groups for their work at Compasses, on what is the Trust’s first major restoration scheme in Surrey to date. Down at the Gennets Bridge Lock construction site on the Surrey-Sussex border, the TSG working party is progressing with its bricklaying tasks, including finishing the parapets and casting and fixing the coping stones for the new bridleway bridge across the canal. Other tasks tackled recently undertaken include mounting the quoins and stop plank steels on the lock wall at the top sill and connecting the back-pump pipe there. Metalwork for the lock’s ground paddles has been ordered – which it is hoped will be fitted before the autumn – and electrical work has included moving mains cabinet and the back pump supply cable into their final places. Near the canal’s junction with the River Wey, another project is making progress – the building of a visitor centre in WACT’s Hunt Nature Park. A planning application has been made for the building, which will help raise the profile of the trust as it progresses with its plans for re-creating the waterway from Shalford down to the Gosden Aqueduct on the outskirts of Bramley.

Gennets Bridge Lock tail bridge parapets get their coping stones

page 31

Progress Wendover Arm Grand Union Wendover Arm

On the Wendover Arm there’s progress on rebuilding the dry section, prospects of raising the water elsewhere, and good news on financing the restoration accused of flooding adjacent land. CRT now wish to pursue this project but have asked WAT if they can assist with manpower to help them. WAT have agreed and are now looking for a volunteer to co-ordinate our volunteers in assisting CRT. If you are willing to take this task on please get in touch with me, Roger Leishman, as soon as possible. Restoration Finances: WAT are currently committed to contributing over £300,000 to our joint lottery bid with CRT which is moving towards Stage 2 submission – this money is ring fenced for that purpose. A final decision as to whether we get lottery support is likely to be made by about June 2018. In the light of this our available funds for restoration work would be very limited after this year. However I am pleased to inform you that WAT have just received an interim legacy payment of £150,000 from the estate of a member in Tring which may be followed by a further sum in due course. This will greatly ease WAT finances and our ability to fund ongoing works. Roger Leishman, Restoration Director rwleishman@gmail.com


During the Wendover Arm Trust’s May and June working parties, work was concentrated on channel profiling, laying the waterproof Bentonite lining and hollow concrete blocks on both banks. On the Saturday and Sunday following the June working party WRG BITM set to laying the high density concrete blocks and coir rolls. This operation was very successful and significantly advanced bank lining. I must express the Trust’s appreciation for the visit by BITM. Their effort has really given our re-lining work a magnificent boost. Well done BITM. During the July and August work parties, a concentrated effort was now required to place spoil on both banks and lay the Bentonite on the bed with spoil covering where BITM completed the blocking. This was expected to take most of these two working parties after which more re-lining will continue. Operation Floodwatch: Meanwhile as work continues on rebuilding the dry length of canal as described above, the Canal & River Trust has revived the idea of gradually raising stop planks at Drayton Beauchamp Bridge so as to monitor the effect of raised water level back to Wendover (this is the section of the Arm which remains in water as part of the water supply to the GU main line, but is kept at a low level). This was a proposal made by WAT in 2008 but vetoed by the then British Waterways WRG BITM laying concrete blocks on the re-profled channel sides in case they were

page 32

On the Wilts & Berks, there’s progress on the Pewsham to Melksham length - and the prospect of linking it to the Kennet & Avon, perhaps in the not-too-distant...

Progress Wilts & Berks Canal

who are living with life-changing injuries and illnesses. Working towards a new goal in life Ex-military veterans recently visited through career recovery can be extremely Pewsham Locks site south of Chippenham to beneficial to an individual’s overall wellbeing, work alongside volunteers of The Wilts & often accelerating their personal recovery Berks Canal Trust under the Heritage Heroes journey. This project will resonate with many scheme in partnership with the Canal & River of our military men and women who will Trust and supported by the People’s Postcode already have some of the necessary skills and Lottery. Veterans were involved in a project enjoy working outdoors, as part of a team.” The project centred around Top Lock, to learn practical skills such as bricklaying, mixing mortar, fence erecting, countryside the highest of the flight of three locks which management, and general site maintenance, raised boats 29 feet on their way from including the correct and safe way to use and Melksham and Lacock, to the Chippenham maintain tools and equipment. Regular and Calne arms, Royal Wootton Bassett, Swindon and beyond. As well as helping to volunteers with Melksham, Calne & restore the lock, the veterans have also Chippenham Branch shared their expertise and knowledge with the veterans, who were constructed a fenced Learning Through Play Area, for visiting families and children. They delighted to be engaged in a project of lasthave created a full scale outline of a narrow ing importance to the local community. boat, positioned stepping logs and conMike Lee, Project Manager at Help for structed a natural woven den for children to Heroes, said: “Leaving the military or realising enjoy. They were able to complete the play that your career choice may no longer be area within the six weeks of the project – it possible, can be daunting, especially for those


Wilts & Berks Canal

The Heritage Heroes project at Pewsham Locks

page 33

tryside, and many people use it to travel between Chippenham and Lacock. However, there was a short distance where the period of dereliction had resulted in it sinking slightly due to poor drainage, so we wanted to raise it back to its original height in order to improve access for everyone” The stretch between Chippenham and Lacock already includes a significant length which has been excavated and refilled with water, and includes a restored bridge, spillweir and mooring points. Following completion of the towpath work, restoration of culverts and plugging of leaks, the earth bunds separating the sections of this length were removed at the end of June and there is now a continuous stretch of canal from the bottom of Pewsham Locs to Double Bridge near – a distance of almost 1.2 kilometres. Longer-term, the aim is to extend the line to south westwards Melksham. From there onwards, a planning application has already been submitted to diverge from the historic line and reroute the navigation along the River Avon through the town (bypassing the original route which has been built on) to reach a new junction with the Kennet & Avon Canal at Semington.


will take a further 18 months of hard work before the lock is completed. The project at Pewsham was particularly appropriate for veterans, as many of the structures, including Top Lock, were blown up by the military as part of explosives practice in the years prior to World War II. Meanwhile WBCT volunteers have completed the latest improvements to the adjacent restored stretch of canal between Pewsham and Double Bridge, near Lacock. The Trust’s Melksham, Chippeham & Calne Branch has finished raising a section of towpath which dropped after the waterway was abandoned in 1914. Supported by a grant of £4,685 from Chippenham Area Board, a team of volunteers spent more than a week transporting several tons of soil and hard core to the site near Double Bridge. The 150-metres of affected towpath have now been levelled off and pipes have been installed to improve drainage. The project has also allowed the water-level to be raised to improve access along the canal for the charity’s workboat. Branch chairman Dave Maloney said: “The towpath is a very popular route for walkers and cyclists to enjoy the open coun-

WBCT volunteers with the newly raised towpath and continuously watered canal length near Pewsham

page 34

Buckingham Canal


Cosgrove’s Bridge No1, at the far end of the surviving stretch of canal used for moorings off the Grand Union Main Line, is set to be an important project for the Buckingham Canal Society. Much of our work over the last few months has been concentrated here: the earth covering the bridge has now been cleared, and the remaining brickwork has now been covered up until work can start on rebuilding. We have started a fund-raising campaign called ‘Bridging the Gap’ to raise funds for the restoration of the missing arch in the bridge. Donations are flooding in, including a very generous £10,000 donation from the legacy of the late John Faulkner, former IWA Northampton Committee member. Whilst its rebuilding may take a little longer than anticipated, the next step will therefore be to get the first few hundred metres of the Old Stratford Cut to the west of the bridge back in water again. With this in mind, our work parties have been be Controlling the slightly too successful aquatic plants installing a new pipe duct under the soil to enable the siphoning of water from the remainder of the canal and into the from this site, we have installed a solar pump which keeps the canal topped up via dry section. Hopefully we can then have this extraction from the River Great Ouse. We part of the canal back in water again, and it have also been planting saplings in gaps won’t be too long before we see the landalong the towpath hedge. mark bridge restored to its former glory, or Work parties are held every other as near as practicably possible. Thursday and the second Sunday of each Meanwhile at our Buckingham Canal month and are always friendly, welcoming Nature Reserve site, the main tasks are to and very rewarding. Having two groups, complete the towpath work where oak planking has been installed along the bank of sometimes working on different sites, means that volunteers now have a choice. Those the canal. Argos employees assisted us here back in March, as did Mayflex UK in May. We who enjoy driving heavy plant get the chance to work on the bridge at Cosgrove, whilst also need to complete the building work on the two dams in the canal bed so that the dry others can continue the scrub bashing and section of this stretch will also be in water in accomplish other manual tasks at our other three sites. More volunteers are always the near future. At the west end of the canal at Bourton needed, so if any of the above appeals, please contact me for more information or Meadow, the aquatic plants we put in two years ago have grown really well, and at the visit our work parties web page at buckinghamcanal.org.uk/events-and-news/ time of writing this article, the marsh mariwork-parties. golds are in flower along most of the canal Athina Beckett and look absolutely beautiful! The only prob01908 661217 / 07721 319404 lem is, the reeds we planted two years ago athina.beckett@buckinghamcanal.org.uk have done far too well, meaning our volunteers now have the task of thinning them out (from BCS’s magazine The Buckingham as they have begun to grow across the canal’s entire width! (see picture) In other news Navigator) Alan Mynard, BCS

Buckingham Canal

page 35

Fundraising Paul Shaw’s LEJOG LEJOG to be kidding me… Over the last couple of years we have seen some pretty fantastic fundraising efforts from WRG volunteers – from marathons to Welsh mountains and boat pulls to barn dances. For sheer scale and endurance though, Paul Shaw’s recent LEJOG may just take the crown for most ambitious feat yet! Just one year ago, Paul decided to do the 1,000 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle ride as part of a new healthy lifestyle and exercise regime - and luckily for us, somebody convinced him to raise some money for WRG, alongside completing this crazy challenge! He didn’t take much persuasion though; Paul has been involved with WRG for over 10 years and has always been willing to go the extra mile - many of you will know him as a camp leader or through the work he does with WRG North West and WRG Forestry. After 12 months of serious training, Paul started the long ride on the 20th June and successfully completed it just two weeks later on July 4th. As those who were follow-

Ready for off!

page 36

Paul cycled the length and breadth of Britain to raise funds for WRG. How do you fancy a more modest 10km trot along an Essex towpath in a good cause? ing his journey on Facebook know though, it was a rollercoaster couple of weeks! The first few days of the cycle were during the hottest week of the year and some of the hottest June days on record, with temperatures in the mid-30’s; this weather quickly descended into a more recognisable British summer with the wet and wind being a much bigger challenge during week 2. Paul also battled with a thigh injury, which delayed him by a day, along with midges, tough hills and an unfortunate rash… Fortunately, Paul had a fantastic support team in the form of his partner, Lynda and he was also joined and hosted at various points by WRGies from across the country which no doubt boosted morale! Naturally, Paul couldn’t cycle the length of the country without picking some waterways routes along the way. His journey included, amongst others, stretches along the Bridgwater & Taunton, Shropshire Union and Worcester & Birmingham canal and, of course, some Scottish waterways, including Loch Ness. On crossing the finish line at John O’Groats, Paul treated himself to a well earned glass of Orkney’s finest Highland Park 12 year old single malt and – we hope – a good rest! Congratulations to Paul on his fantastic achievement and thank you to all who have sponsored him so far – an incredible £3,000 has already been raised. Paul’s fundraising page will be accepting donations for

another couple of months, for those who would still like to sponsor him or you can send a cheque to IWA (Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA) with a covering note stating the money is for Paul’s LEJOG. If you would like to undertake your own sponsored challenge Passing Preston, WRG and Lancaster Canal Trust meet Paul on the towpath for WRG, you can get hints, tips and inspiration at www.waterways.org.uk/fundraising. Sarah Frayne Meanwhile here’s one fundraiser coming up that you’re just in time to take part in...

10k Challenge on the Chelmer towpath On Sunday 17th September our parent body the Inland Waterways Association will be hosting a 10km fundraising run based around the scenic Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation in Essex (which IWA looks after, through its subsidiary Essex Waterways). The event is being held to raise funds to improve the local towpaths, so more people can easily enjoy this local asset. For the past two years, IWA have hosted a popular triathlon in the same area, but this year they wanted to host an event more accessible to all. The ‘Essex 10k’ will be a circular, cross-country route, starting and finishing at Hoe Mill Lock in Ulting, taking in the scenery of Maldon and the surrounding area along the way. A large stretch of the route will be along the towpath, where runners can enjoy the unique landscape and the relatively flat running conditions! Entry will be £15, with concessions for affiliated runners. More information is available on the IWA website and the event Facebook page. Any questions can be emailed to Sarah Frayne at sarah.frayne@waterways.org.uk. Volunteers needed: For those who don’t want to take part, why not consider volunteering at the event? There will be lots of roles available from the tea/coffee stand to marshalling on the route. Find out more at www.waterways.org.uk/ events_festivals/essex10k/volunteering. Go on, you want to... join the Essex 10k run! Sarah Frayne

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Infill Never work with children or animals? Catch them young... It seems entirely appropriate that in the same issue that we’ve already mentioned the Family Camp, Helen Gardner should send in this still from a video of her son Dominic, aged 2, having his very first go at bricklaying. I must say he looks lie he’s handling the trowel very professionally; I can’t imagine it’ll be long before he’s complaining about the mortar mix, blaming whoever laid the previous course of bricks, insisting on carrying on bricklaying when everybody else is packed up and sitting in the van waiting to go back to the accommodation, and making himself scarce when there’s any brick-cleaning to be done. Go for it, Dominic!

China dog’s tale? Any mention of dogs in an article about canal cleanups is likely to lead to readers thinking of rather... shall we say... unfortunate connotations. (Mind you if we’re talking stereotypes, so is any mention of China in connection with dogs.) But in this case, one man and his dog in Beijing have gone one better than employing a two-year-old child on bricklaying duty. Under the headline ‘Canine Cleans up Canal’, the Global Times Chinese newspaper published a picture of a golden retriever whose owner has trained him to jump into the canal near Guangming Bridge to retrieve plastic bottles and other rubbish from the water. Time to reopen the discussion about dogs on site which kept the Navvies letters pages full for over six months? No, I didn’t think so...

Poets’ Corner Paul Shaw’s epic bike ride for WRG (see report, pages 36-37) inspired the following lines of verse as he crossed the border into Scotland... With apologies to WH Auden’s Night Mail: This is the slow bike crossing the border, Paul’s done a check and all’s in order. Donations from rich, donations from poor, The shop at the corner and the girl next door. Heading for Beattock, a steady climb: The gradient’s against him but he’s making good time. Past cotton grass and moorland boulder, His rucksack slung over his shoulder, Snorting noisily as he passes Silent miles of windswept grasses

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Nic Bennett

Lapal Canal

David Evans

Cotswold Canals (Inglesham)

David Joyner

Uttoxeter Family Camp

Jenny Hodson

Summer camps

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Ralph Mills

Cotswold Canals (Inglesham)

Kirsty Wallace

Grantham Canal

Ian Stewart

Cotswold Canals (Dock Lock)

Stephen Rice

Monmouthshire & Brecon

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page 40

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 284  

Navvies 284 - September-October 2017. WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.

Navvies 284  

Navvies 284 - September-October 2017. WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.