avvies N Volunteers restoring waterways No 188 August - September 2001
Good News: Lichfield & Hatherton canals Cotswold, Droitwich and W&B reports and photos
Mr Mac MBE!
waterway recovery group
Contents Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on 3Â˝" disk (please include hard-copy) or by e-mail. Photos also welcome: slides or colour or b/w prints. Please state whether you want your prints back; I assume that you want slides returned. Computer scanned photos also acceptable, either on disk or as e-mail attachments, preferably JPG format. Send them to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or e-mail to email@example.com. Press date for No 189: September 8th.
Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of ÂŁ1.50 (please add a donation if possible) to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorltoncum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to "Waterway Recovery Group" please.
In this issue:
Editorial Good news or bad news? Chairman Where's MKP gone? Mr Mac MBE Camp reports Wilts & Berks, Droitwich,
3-5 6 7
8-14 Cotswolds and Melton & Oakham WRG publicity wants your photographs 15 Diary camps and working parties 16-18 Letters What do you think of 'Navvies'? 19-21 Northwest Mr Mac looks back 25 years 22-23 BITM on the Sleaford Navigation 24-25 Essex WRG at Droitwich 26 Progress remember Over? 27 Logistics big teapots wanted! 28 Bits & Pieces and Boat Club news 29-30
And next time... ...we hope to bring you reports and photos from the rest of the summer's Canal Camps. Plus a Dig Deep update and more details of the forthcoming Basingstoke Bonfire Bash and Christmas / New Year events. (gosh, that time already!) And - see page 5 - if anyone writes it for me, another in the 'restoration feature' series.
Visit our web site http://www.wrg.org.uk for all the latest news or WRG's activities Cover photo: rebuilding lock tail walls on camp 0103 on the Droitwich Canal - full report next time (Alan Lines) Inset: David McCarthy ('Mr. Mac') of WRG Northwest was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to Canal Restoration and the Environment. Rather than wait for the official do at 'Buck House', WRG NW had their own award ceremony at the last 'Paper chase' waste paper collection - and the traditional fish and chip lunch was accompanied by champagne! (John Foley) Below: Camp 0104 volunteers wondering exactly how the new WRG driver regulations affect them - see camp report p12-13. (Martin Ludgate)
First the good news... ...and there's plenty of it this time!
To begin with, it has just been announced that the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR) will make full provision for future navigation where it crosses the Hatherton Canal, and there is a good chance that the threat to the Lichfield Canal by the same road scheme will also be lifted. The government - after four years of refusing to reverse the bad decision by its predecessors to make no provision for navigation, and saying that it can do nothing to help the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals has instructed the road-building contractors to include a navigable culvert for the Hatherton Canal at Churchbridge. The adjacent culvert under the A5 is already paid for thanks to the success of LHCRT's David Suchet appeal, so that leaves the Lichfield crossing. Although there is no corresponding government announcement instructing the contractors to build an aqueduct there, the Hatherton announcement benefits the Lichfield crossing to the tune of £1/4 million - because an offer of that sum from the Manifold Trust towards the cost of the aqueduct was conditional upon the Hatherton crossing also being provided. It remains to be seen whether the road-builders' agreement to provide foundations for the aqueduct, plus the £1/4M, plus whatever else can be raised in the meantime, will be enough to enable the aqueduct to be built in the very short timescale available. But it looks hopeful. So congratulations to everyone involved: to the LHCRT and all their supporters - including Chris Coburn, David Suchet and a lot of less well-known ones - for keeping up the pressure when it looked at times like there was very little hope for the canals; to all the other organisations that have been involved (including IWA, BW and The Waterways Trust who have been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work); to the government for finally having the decency to accept that they were wrong and to do something about it. The next piece of good news concerns the Cotswold Canals: the Thames & Severn Canal and Stroudwater Navigation. Some time ago, The Waterways Trust announced that this was one of six schemes that it had chosen for a detailed study into the feasibility of assembling funding for completion of restoration. (the others being the Droitwich, Montgomery, Foxton Inclined Plane, Lancaster Northern Reaches and the proposed new Bedford-Milton Keynes canal) They commissioned BW to do the study, and the results were announced on Tuesday July 3rd, appropriately during the Cotswold Camp at Valley Lock that I was co-leading: basically the study has estimated that the canals can be restored for around £82m, and that the benefits of restoration will justify the costs. And that although it will probably take 10 years to complete the job, it should be possible for 'phase 1' (from Saul to Stroud and from the Thames to Siddington) to be funded and completed within five years. Various potential funding sources have been identified, and it looks like the Regional Development Agency may be an important partner: this is good, as their predecessors English Partnerships contributed around 50% of the money for the recently-completed Huddersfield and soon-to-be-completed Rochdale restorations. So while there is no actual money on the table now, getting the RDA on-board and TWT firmly in favour has got to be good news for the long term prospects for the Cotswold Canals. Unfortunately this story got turned by the media into "BW are spending £82m restoring the Cotswold Canals over the next 10 years" - and I had to explain to a number of passers-by at Valley Lock that no, there wasn't 82 million quid on its way, and yes, it was actually worth us volunteers carrying on working there rather than knocking off on the Tuesday lunchtime of the Camp and letting BW finish the job! In fact not only is it still worth our while working there, it is all the more important that we carry on working on 'phase 2' sites like Valley Lock, so that in five years time when boats are arriving at Stroud from the west and Siddington from the east, we can show everyone the benefits of carrying on and tackling the more difficult phase 2 length in between, and convince those potential funding organisations that BW has identified that it would be £82 million well spent. The final piece of good news concerns the legendary "Mr. Mac" - David McCarthy of WRG Northwest who is now Mr. Mac MBE in recognition of his services to tea-brewing and waste-paper collecting in the north west. Congratulations from the Editor and everyone else in WRG.
Now the not-so-good news... As reported last time, the Huddersfield Canal reopened to boats over the May Day weekend, after over 25 years of campaigning and restoration work: the completion of 'The impossible restoration'. "Hang on!" I hear you cry, "how come that's the 'not-so-good news'?"
Well, according to an article by Malcolm Barker in the Yorkshire Post headed 'Pouring money down the drain', the Huddersfield restoration isn't terribly good news at all. In fact it's ÂŁ30m wasted. Now the article in question as about as factually accurate as one would expect from an opinion column in a regional rag, and one can derive some pleasure from pulling it to shreds.... "Most people were carried along with the euphoria generated by the very idea. Few, if any, argued against the notion of taking a dead waterway and - by laying-on of cash - causing it to rise through its locks again..." (Tell that to the Huddersfield Canal Society, who spent over a decade struggling to be taken seriously at all.) "The money flowed like water, and nobody at any time seems to have asked what would be provided as a result. Perhaps it was just as well, because the answer seems to be precious little..." (It would surprise me if any major restoration managed to attract this kind of money without some very careful scrutiny of costs and benefits.) "The only people able to use the Huddersfield Canal are the tiny minority of the population who either own narrow craft or hire them for their holidays, and, perhaps, fishermen" (From what I've heard, the towpaths are busy with walkers enjoying the restored canal; also if canal boaters are a 'tiny minority' on the Huddersfield, then that is true of every other canal - does Mr. Barker think they're all a waste of money?) "The size of vessels is strictly limited, no more than 70ft from stem to stern and 6ft 10in in the beam" (So what? The size of vessels is very nearly as 'strictly limited' on the ever-popular Llangollen, Southern Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon canals. And although the unfortunate 6ft 10in width restriction more-or-less restricts use of the Huddersfield to modern craft only, excluding almost all of the historic working narrow boats (built to around 7ft beam) that are an interesting feature of other 'narrow' canals, it is not something that will prevent typical canal boaters from using the Huddersfield.) "Their progress is of necessity slow, and the weary procession of locks may dampen the enthusiasm of even the most committed boatman" (Come off it! Most boaters I know enjoy locks, even (especially!) long flights of them. Some of us 'committed' boatmen have been looking forward to having a go at all those locks on the Huddersfield for years!) ...and so it goes on. A good half of the article isn't actually concerned with the canal itself at all - it is a series of complaints about the Marsden visitor centre's alleged poor quality ("no effort has been made to put on a display bringing out the history of the canal") and lack of facilities (inconvenient parking, no cafe). This may seem like very petty nit-picking: knocking a visitor centre that is a relatively minor adjunct to a major restoration project. And I'm quite certain that any inadequacies that it might suffer from could soon be put right for a small fraction of the ÂŁ30m. Another criticism is of the lack of public trip-boats other than the tunnel trips - because the locks are too close together for the canal to be suitable for this kind of operation. Possibly true - and not a lot that the restorers could do about it. But does it really detract that much from the value of the restoration? Well, maybe it does. Let me make my own views quite clear here - I totally support the restoration of the Huddersfield, I have always supported it, and think that it is a magnificent achievement and well worth ÂŁ30 million. And perhaps Mr Barker is indulging in some of the stereotypical grumpiness of those from 'God's own county', by muttering darkly about wasted money rather than be seen to be enjoying the success of the restoration. (says Martin, who was brought up on the opposite side of the Pennines!) Or maybe in amongst the uninformed rubbish that he spouts, he has a valid point concerning poor impressions that the non canal enthusiast locals might get of the restoration: such 'minor' niggles as poor visitor facilities and no trip boats might reasonably matter much more to them than that the longest tunnel in the country has been reopened and that the south Pennine ring is being created. And their opinions are important, because canal restorations rarely succeed without local support, and often it is the local authorities - whose members those local people elect - who are of crucial importance in the 'partnerships' that are the modern way to restore canals.
I have no idea whether the criticisms levelled at the canal from the point of view of the non-boating visitor are fair or reasonable. Even if they are, it seems completely unfair that they can be used in this way to cast doubts on the value of the entire restoration. It is totally unreasonable for me to start telling the guys who have slaved away since the 1970s to achieve the impossible that they've cockedup on the visitor centre car-parks. But somehow (any suggestions welcome!) we have to make sure that completed canal restorations are universally seen as being good value for money. Otherwise... Let me quote Mr Barker's final soundbite: "Here in Yorkshire there is no need to feel aggrieved at the money lavished on the MIllennium Dome. We have got our own version, 20 miles long and full of water." Now let's try and tell all the Yorkshire folk who've just read that quote in their paper that we want their town council to contribute towards another ÂŁ30 million for the Barnsley Canal... Good news, or what?
And still on the subject of 'is it worth it'... The editorial whinge that took the place of this column last time, headed 'Navvies: is it worth it?' generated a number of replies - which at least ensured that the letters pages were full this time without me having to resort to persuading characters from the serial to write for me! And I'm glad to say that in general, people did think 'Navvies' was worth the effort. Among the various suggestions for improvements was the revival of the 'Restoration feature' series: 1000-1500 word factual articles each concentrating on a particular restoration scheme, giving a brief history of the waterway, a summary of progress to date, a detailed look at the present state of the canal and current and planned work, and ending with the prospects for the future. I would like to revive the series, but it will depend on people writing the articles for me. The following canals were covered between 1993 and 2000... Wilts & Berks, Lancaster, Wey & Arun, Chesterfield, Cotswolds, Grantham, Ipswich & Stowmarket, Barnsley / Dearne & Dove, Shrewsbury & Newport, Ulster, Somersetshire Coal Canal, Buckingham, Ribble Link, Lichfield & Hatherton, Melton & Oakham, Pocklington, Droitwich, Sankey, Bude, Soham Lode, Manchester Bolton & Bury, Hereford & Gloucester, Stover, Waltham Abbey gunpowder mill canals. ...which means that the following active restoration projects haven't been covered... Wendover, Rochdale, Louth, Lapal, Montgomery, Foxton, Driffield, Ashby northern reaches, Chichester, Dorset & Somerset, Whitchurch, Sleaford, Grand Western, Derby, Mon & Brec, Swansea, Thames & Medway, Stour, Union, Royal. ...and any others that I haven't thought of! Plus several of the ones that we've covered in the past have made so much progress since then that they would merit a second article. And there are restoration proposals that haven't quite reached the 'active project' status yet in terms of physical restoration (or if they have, nobody's told me about it!) but would still be worth writing about... Sussex Ouse, Horncastle, Liskeard & Looe. ...not to mention the 'new navigation' proposals... Bedford-GU, Rother Link, Sankey-L&L connection, new Liverpool Docks link canal, Higher Avon, Upper Severn ...or for a bit of variety... Canal de Berry, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Ludwig's Kanal ...and you can always propose one that nobody's suggested yet, and write about it... Kington Leominster and Stourport, Cann Quarry, St Columb, Caistor, Wisbech, Torrington, Nutbrook... Anyway that's plenty for you to be getting on with. Next press dates are 8th Sep and 8th Nov. Thanks!
And finally... Apologies for the record length of this editorial. I'll fill those bloody pages if it kills me! Martin Ludgate
Chairman? What's happened to Mike Palmer? (*)
This was the page that was supposed to be full of Mike Palmer's words of wisdom, giving us the latest on how Droitwich was progressing, advanced warning of what the next batch of Health & Safety legislation to hit us was likely to be, some thoughts on the future of canal restoration, the odd bouquet or brickbat aimed at a deserving recipient and almost certainly an offer to buy everyone a drink at the 'National' at Milton Keynes.... Unfortunately, come the press date (well, actually two weeks later, with John Hawkins of WRGPrint screaming blue murder), all that arrived was this postcard...
So I'm afraid that's all you're getting from MKP this time. Hopefully by the time you read this, another fortnight of successful Droitwich Camps will see the work on Hanbury Locks nearing completion and MKP free to write stuff for 'Navvies' again. Please help Mike finish the job by volunteering for the September Camp - and make sure he can't use the same excuse again for a while!
( ) Answer: "Nothing: he's always been like that." CONGRATULATIONS...
Mike getting trolleyed at Droitwich (Martin Ludgate)
Mr Mac wasn't the only person involved in canals in the North West to be honoured recently. Ian Edgar, long-serving chairman of IWPS (Bugsworth Basin) also received the MBE. "Well done" to Ian from 'Navvies' and all in WRG.
Mr. Mac MBE David McCarthy - better known as 'Mr Mac' of WRG NorthWest was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, in recognition of his work for canal restoration and the Environment. His interest in canals first aroused by a family boating holiday in the early 1960s, Mr. Mac joined the Peak Forest Canal Society and helped start to clear the disused Lower Peak Forest Canal, part of the now well-known “Cheshire Ring”. During the remainder of the “Ring” restoration he not only laboured himself but supplied moral support and refreshments to the younger volunteers. His appearance, bringing near infinite supplies of hot tea and only marginally more limited ones of biscuits, was especially welcome during the bitter winter of 1972/3. After the “Ring” re-opened in 1974 he was elected to the PFCS council, serving until the Society reorganised in 1977, spawning the North-West branch of WRG in the process. [see p22-23 for his own version of these events. ...Ed] During this period he facilitated the PFCS volunteers’ progression to assisting on more distant derelict canals, again providing the all-important back-room support. Typical was his response to the inadequate washing facilities at the accommodation during one particularly dirty weekend [the Droitwich ‘Big Dig’]. He must have bought the local hardware shop’s entire stock of washing-up bowls and boiled every kettle and pan he could find, producing bowl after bowl of clean, hot water for the returning “navvies”. That the bowls had to be arranged on the perimeter wall of a car park in full public view was of minor import.
Mr. Mac MBE WRG NorthWest's stalwart appears in the honours list The early work was largely funded by the volunteers’ paying their own expenses but, as its scale increased, additional funding became necessary and in January, 1978, he organised an experimental door to door waste paper collection near his home in Crumpsall, North Manchester. This quickly became established and continues to this day, over 23 years and 240 collections later. That there is paper to collect is down to his writing, duplicating and delivering 1,500 newsletters 3 times/year and that there are 12-18 collectors is down to his ‘phoning 30-40. He also books the skips and deals with the grant claims as well as helping to collect, organising lunch and washing-up after it. In the days before skips, much of the paper was stacked in his garden for him to take in in dribs and drabs over the next fortnight in the group’s van. Now, a pile grows there, seemingly organically, during the fortnight before each collection and is taken to the skip in the van. Collections to date have totalled over 2,500 tonnes, making it one of the largest waste-paper recycling efforts in the country and thus a significant environmental project in its own right. If that was not enough, until recently he has also arranged the taking of the NW publicity/sales stand to events throughout the country, helping to recruit a new generation of “navvies” while raising many more thousands of pounds. This income cannot be identified separately so it is not possible to place an exact figure on the proceeds of his labours. However, the waste paper collection has raised over £45,000 so the total must comfortably exceed £60,000. The Beavertail, SWS, is the most tangible current result of this effort. For over 30 years he has been at the heart of the canal restoration movement in NW England. Without him it is quite possible that it would not have survived. His immense contribution to the overall waterway movement was recognised by the Inland Waterways Association as early as 1986 with the award (jointly with his late wife, Nancy) of their most prestigious award, the “Cyril Styring Trophy”.
Mr Mac's "infinite supplies of hot tea". (John Hawkins)
Camps First Canal Camp at the Seven Locks flight Camp 0106: Wilts & Berks Canal This was the first WRG camp on this section of the canal. Seven Locks covers about three quarters of a mile, and is in three different land ownerships - Locks 1 is 'anti', Lock 6 and 7 are cautious, and Locks 2, 3, 4 and 5 belong to a friendly owner! The local group started some clearance work on Lock 3 of the Seven Locks flight on 27th May after the foot and mouth restrictions were lifted, and worked flat-out on the six weekends before the camp to get the site prepared as far as possible. They constructed a dam at the top end of the lock, dug out an existing ditch to create a bywash, and graded the sides back. Finally, the towpath wall was virtually ready to start rebuilding on the camp, with scaffolding in place.
We also had help from three of the local volunteers who regularly work on the Foxham-Lyneham stretch. Ballast, sand, cement and bricks disappeared remarkably fast - we got through 5 tonnes each of ballast and sand, 1.75 tonnes of cement, and 4,000 bricks were laid in six days! A second project was clearing the towpath bank between Locks 3 and 2, which was stone-faced. We cleared down to the puddled-clay canal lining, and the stone proved to be mostly in quite good condition, despite several small hawthorns growing on top of the bank, which had to be mostly mattocked out. The top 12â€? of stone may have to be rebuilt, and we are hopeful that Farmington Stone who supply much of the stone for Cotswold stone walls will donate sufficient stone to complete this. We also cleared scrub growing in Lock 2, so that Tom Cutting, our civil engineer volunteer, could conduct a survey. This lock is at present bisected by the small lane providing access to the site, so because of the problems this may cause to restore it, it will probably be tackled last of the four locks that we can work on. It is possible that the Council will ask us to actually move the lock further up towards Lock 3, so it will simply need a box culvert under the road.
The lower half of the lock walls are in reasonably good condition, but the offside wall couldnâ€™t be touched because a grey wagtail had built her nest and was sitting on eggs in a missing-brick hole halfway up. This could have caused a problem, because two of the local inhabitants, who are anti the canal restoration, attempted to give out a lot of adverse publicity about the work we were doing: 'ruining the wildlife and the environment' etc. We put fence netting round the section of the wall with the nest, and were as quiet as possible when working, and were pleased to find that our bird adapted quite happily to our presence. On the second day, the eggs hatched out, and both parents flew in and out of the nest feeding four youngsters all week. The main work was bricklaying on the towpathside chamber wall, and clearing the area between wall and towpath. Richard Hignett advised a metre wide brick and concrete wall, with holes drilled in the old brick and vertical reinforcing bar inserted to tie in the concrete backfill to the original wall. Unfortunately, it was not practical to have deliveries of ready-mix concrete, so it all had to be mixed on site and barrowed down ramps to the backfill area. At one time, we had three concrete mixers going full time, with relays of barrows rushing back and forth. By this time, the wall was growing fast, with some excellent bricklaying, with most of the team, including those with little or no experience, making a pretty good fist of it.
Chamber wall rebuilding in progress at Lock 3, Seven Locks. (Ian Nicholson)
Di cleared the silt and scrub from the sill, and little Paul dug down 4 feet in front of it, nearly disappearing down the hole... Paul had also made an excellent job of mattocking and tirforing the stumps from the pound wall. He was so intent on completing this challenge, that he was reluctant even to stop for a tea break. Having gulped it down, “Back to my roots”, he announced. Obviously he must come from Wiltshire instead of Essex as he thought! We had very few accidents, considering the number of people working in a confined area. Ken managed to fall in the canal three times, and Jan had the threat hanging over him of being thrown in after insisting on singing “I’m a pink toothbrush” on the way back from the pub one night. Ken also managed to upset a barrowful of muck on his way down the ramp, but to Pete’s delight it landed right in the middle of his spot-board! Katy the dog had a whale of a time, retrieving sticks from a soggy reedy area, and arrived back at the accommodation at the end of each day plastered in mud, and managing to leave some distinct paw-marks across Lynn’s bed on the way to her own. Sorry, Lynn.
While still in his sleeping bag, Andrew had his face washed some mornings by a big black hound towering over him, while Viv, sitting on a chair to shave, had one side of his jaw liberally applied with dog-spit after-shave while he shaved the other side. The things navvies have to put up with.... This was one of the biggest and most successful camps that I have led, owing to 23 navvies working so well as a team, and every one pulling their weight so that it made life much easier. Our two "D of E’ers", Joy and Clare, worked really hard, and were willing to try their hands at anything asked of them. We were on the surface a really mixed bunch, of a wide age range and nationalities - Marco and Elisabetta from Torino in Italy, Bernd from Germany ('a German with a sense of humour', someone remarked!), and Brian from Canada, where he’s lived for 25 years, but still retained a lovely Irish brogue. Unfortunately, my Assistant Leader, Luke, could not attend the camp, which made it a bit difficult at times to spread myself and organise everything, but the more experienced navvies, particularly Phill and Pete, were a tremendous help. It was Lynn’s first full camp as cook, and she made a very successful job of it, with a great variety of menu, every scrap disappearing. She even willingly took special orders for sandwiches, which arrived in a number of labelled packages! She prepared a fantastic barbecue on the final night, which was greatly appreciated. Di was warned to steer clear of the garlic bread - the only problem was, there was some garlic butter left over in a tub, and it found its way onto the breakfast table the next morning, where John found it didn’t go too well with the marmalade on his toast. Because of the large number of sandwiches to make lunchtimes, one person was detailed each day to stay behind in the morning and help Lynn, but to her astonishment half of them didn’t even seem to know how to butter bread! Getting the hang of laying bricks is obviously much easier. We had regular visits to the swimming pool and showers in Chippenham, a good skittles match on the Sunday night, and a visit to the cinema to see Lara Croft, which was thought to be a little highbrow for navvies, with a rather involved plot. The Foxham Inn was warned in advance that we were descending on him, and got an extra barrel or two of beer in. We had a visit to the Railway Museum in Swindon (Viv is a volunteer engine driver on the Tal-y-Llyn Railway in Wales), and a drive out one evening to see a beautiful stone bridge which had been rebuilt on the Swindon section of the canal by a local volunteer, Ron Robertson, who was previously better known as a bricklayer... My thanks to one and all, and hope to see you on another camp - maybe next year’s?
The same lock seen a few years ago during initial clearance work. (Martin Ludgate)
Camps The first of five weeks of summer camps at Droitwich Camp 0102: Droitwich Junction Canal 23rd–30th June 2001 Saturday As leaders do, the first job was to make sure the accommodation is ready for the arrival of the volunteers. This is when we found a black mould, apparently multiplying before our eyes, under the kitchen sink. Apparently the cause was a leaking drainage pipe... but never fear, Harry was here! Armed with an angle grinder, (the only tool to hand at the time) he set to fixing the pipe, the electricity closer to the water”!
If it'll support Harry, it'll probably support a couple of coping stones! Installing the Acrow props to stablise the copers prior to removal of loose brickwork underneath. (Alan Lines) only problem was, as Harry said, “just getting the
Sunday The first task was to finish off setting up the scaffolding in Lock 3 and put in place the 'Acrow' props to stabilize the coping stones. This wasn’t without its problems: a tape measure, rachet and chisel disappearing into the cut. Jen was busy strimming round the lock chamber, whilst Harry played in the water. Entertainment for the evening was a trip to the 'Railway' pub. When we got back we met two new volunteers, Chris and Will, who enlightened us on their amazing seven hour journey from London, past Droitwich, eventually ending up at Kidderminster! Monday The temperature continued to rise and everyone was feeling a little sun burnt and tired. But still the work went on. Richard was mixing lime mortar for Britain, ready for the brickies who started rebuilding the wall of the side pond. A very helpful chap from BW spent the morning on site training new volunteers on the art of brick-laying. The sun beating down was being to have an effect, it seemed Sally had decided to write her diary of the camp in the accident book! We decided to go all Continental and have a siesta back at the accommodation. To make up the time we worked till about 6pm on site, by which time all the volunteers were ready for their dinner. Unfortunately the huge chicken (or was it ostrich?) legs were taking an unusually long time to cook, for reasons that would emerge later. Tuesday We continued our Continental theme with a breakfast of croissants and fresh orange juice. The brick-laying continued in earnest with the Andy’s steaming through the mortar faster than it could be mixed. Meanwhile, a team got to work on demolishing the upper half of the lock walls using Kango hamRemoval of damaged brickwork from under the mers. Phill continued to make great progress on coping stones. (Martin Ludgate) rebuilding the steps at the side of the lock.
We all finished early to take a boat trip along the Droitwich Barge Canal and arrived at the accommodation for a delicious curry. The chicken was done in a record 55mins this time, which could have something to do with actually turning on the oven instead of just using the pilot light! After dinner there was just enough time to get back on the boat for a short cruise, expertly steered (into everything) by Nina, to the 'Railway' pub for last orders. Wednesday Jen was again frantically driving around collecting materials to keep the brick laying team happy. An average 12 bags of mortar an hour were being used, as the wall of the side pond got taller and taller. Sally and Nina were literally up the spout, grouting the brick work inside the culvert. Adrian patrolled the site, ready to employ anyone quietly having a break in a wheelbarrow (which everyone agreed were much more comfortable than chairs). In the evening we visited the now famous 'Tom O’ The Wood' pub for the quiz. Congratulations to my team - Em, Sally, Matt, Marcus & Jenny-, known as the ‘Not Yets’, for a triumphant victory. Strange Repairs to the side-pond walls (Martin Ludgate) name for a team, but when I was asked if we had a name I said “not yet” and it just kinda stuck. Lady Luck was certainly on our camp that night, as Andy D won ‘Play Your Cards Right’. After we had all re-hydrated ourselves sufficiently, it was back to the accommodation for toast then bed. Thursday Mmmm, well, the day started well at least... The demolition of the lock walls was nearly complete. Unfortunately we did get behind schedule as the demolition team repeatedly dropped various items into the cut and spent all afternoon trying to find them! First it was my camera (sorry Martin, no photos of the camp from me), then a brush, then a ratchet, then a clamp, a rake and finally some goggles. Many thanks to Chris and Will for retrieving my camera and especially Josh who went above and beyond the call of duty and jumped into the lock (well, fell in to be precise). We visited the bright lights of Worcester in the evening for a trip to the cinema. A small party of lads went to see the girly movie Bridget Jones’s Diary (actually it was quite good!) whilst the others opted for Pearl Harbour and almost unanimously voted it as 'pants'. Friday Friday saw one length of the side pond wall completed, Phill Cardy’s lock steps looking particularly flash, and demolition of the lock walls ready for the next camp to re-build them.
Nina demonstrates her steering prowess on the tripboat. Is Marcus impressed or what? (Martin Ludgate)
After what had been an excellent, tiring, but top week, everyone looked forward to the BBQ and party in the evening. Many thanks to Adrian for leading a great camp and Matt for the fine cuisine (and the little ‘treats’), and to all the volunteers for all their hard work. See you all again soon. Ian Wingfield
As usual the camp began on the Saturday evening with the arrival of the volunteers, the introductory safety talk, dinner and a stroll to the pub. Well, dinner was rather late because I couldn’t start cooking until the Hall was cleared of children’s party, but we did manage a pint or 2 in the ‘Bell’.
Camps Rebuilding Valley Lock on the Thames & Severn Canal Camp 0104: Cotswold (Thames & Severn) Canal
q X x q qq X e “Valley Lock is falling down
falling down, falling down Valley Lock is falling down my fair WRGie”
will pull some more of it down, e “Steve more of it down, more of it down
“Martin will build it up again...”
X e qq
Cate and Dave will help it down, my fair WRGie”
...and he will teach us brick-laying! As I sit at the Cotswold Canals Trust’s Saul Junction boat-and-beer festival drinking beer (and watching the rain), last Saturday seems a long long time ago [‘...but I can still remember how that music used to make me smile’? ...Ed]
The group mainly consisted of people who had been on a camp with Ian and Martin before, and obviously felt some strange need to repeat the experience! Unfortunately, Selsley Scout Hut is not blessed with the shower facilities of Droitwich, so our midnight sing-songs were rather limited. We also had to spend ages each day sharing the one shower whilst we waited for more to arrive in the car park! Day one saw a slash-and-try-to-burn approach to the Japanese knotweed ( it had grown 10' high in a month!) so that we could at least see the chamber. Dave and others with wellies cleared the worst of the silt and half-bricks from the space between the gate recesses. The demolition crew started moving the first of many coping-stones off the worryingly crumbly wall underneath, and Martin started teaching everyone to brick-lay. The next few days saw walls coming down (not so much pulled down as gently assisted! Kango hammers not required!), other walls going back up, and bricks cleaned in between. Dave L, Steve, Tunji, Cate, myself and Andi and others used ropes, mattocks, levers and telekinesis to move some enormous stones out of the off-side ground paddle chamber. From these stones we built “Lock-henge” on the top sill, as a challenge to future camps to get them back up on the wall.
As the abuse to “London Bridge” above suggests, we were to start the task of rebuilding Valley Lock - one of these projects that is nearly, but not quite, so huge that you wonder if it would be easier to start from scratch! However Ian and Martin’s camp set to work at the top end of the chamber: rebuilding the groundpaddle chambers, the overflow weir structure and the gate recesses ... and the gate recesses... Those of you who have worked there before will remember that there are two sets of top gate recesses, as the lock was shortened from 90' to 72' in the 1830s. Which doubles the amount of rebuilding work to be done at the top of the lock.
Removing coping stones...
...and putting them back again.
Alternatively, they’ll have to stay as a hazard to navigation... Celine, Hannah, Amy, Heather, Ray and Mike were turning into expert bricklayers, Darryl kept mixing it up, and Paul kept cleaning bricks. The Shower-in-the-Car-Park failed to materialise until Thursday, when it proved to be unusable, so we finally went to the Sports Centre! Other evening entertainments included the boat trip (Thank you Neil), the Cinema, and a meeting with Camp 0103 at a pub with a skittle alley. This was a resounding success, with the ‘Stroudwater Stompers’ thrashing the ‘Droitwich Dullpins’ by 6053 to 20! We also stole their minibus as ours wouldn’t pull uphill out of site when full of WRGies!! Please do not believe MKP if he tries to make out that it was all his idea!
Harry and Jen turned up on Wednesday to steal volunteers to set up the Boat and Beer Festival, but it turned out the locals had done most of the jobs before we got there! By the end of the week we had:
. . . . . . . .
built lots of brickwork and stonework on the towpath-side paddle chamber and overflow spillway rebuilt about two and a half of the four gate recesses, and various other sections of brickwork replaced coping stones on the towpath side, and made a start on replacing the off-side ones demolished unsafe walls ready for the next camp to start rebuilding excavated the off-side paddle chamber, giving Andi, Cate and me lovely mudbaths! removed cement rendering from the upper wing walls so that we can see just how bad a state they’re in! installed a piling dam across the lock tail so that the chamber can be pumped-out and cleared of silt ready for scaffolding and rebuilding of the chamber walls cleared lots of knotweed
We’ve left a tiny bit of work for the NWPG Camp to do! All in all a brilliant week, with top weather, top volunteers, a good combination of mud, bricks and beer, and an interesting site with visible progress made. Thanks to Martin and Ian and everyone who came. We want you back! PS anyone going to Selsley Scout Hut with Camps Kit A - none of the cooking trays fit in the oven properly. Do not attempt to do a roast dinner for 25 in that oven!! Dr. Liz Williamson XXX
Top: building a piling dam, the hard way! Above: rebuilding the gate recess walls. Right: Darryl's mixer crew. All photos by Martin Ludgate.
Camps The Melton & Oakham and the Droitwich (again!) Camps 0103 and 0108 will feature in the 'Camp Report' section next time, but in the meantime here's a photographic 'taster' from these two contrasting Camps: one showing the rapid rate of progress on our main site for this year at Droitwich; the other showing the first ever Camp on the Melton & Oakham Waterways... Above right: a 'lift-bridge' with a difference? The temporary footbridge moves from Lock 3 on the Droitwich Junction Canal to Lock 2. (Alan Lines) Right: putting the finishing touches on the Lock 3 sidepond. (Alan Lines) Below: by the end of Camp 0103, the removal of decayed brickwork from the top 1 metre of the chamber walls of Lock 3 had been completed. By the time you read this, Camps 0117 and 0121 should have filled this gap with new brickwork. (Alan Lines) Below right: the Melton & Oakham Camp started well, with the rubberclad Marcus and Nina installing a piling coffer dam in the shallow waters of the river Wreake, so that that part of the bed could be pumped out ready to lay the new slipway that was the main purpose of the Camp. (Matt Taylor) Opposite page: frustratingly, heavy rain in the middle of the week turned the shallow river into a raging torrent - as can be seen in this group photo - flooding-out the worksite and threatening to inundate Melton just as construction work was due to start. (Marcus Jones)
WRG Publicity Well - itâ€™s all been rather busy since taking over the reins from Helen!! First of all there was Crick Boat Show - a real scorcher on the Saturday resulted in me, Mandy, Steve and Glenn taking it in turns to stand outside the IWA marquee to try and find any breeze to cool down in - a far cry from last year!! Lots of genuine interest so hopefully we shall see some new faces on the Canal Camps circuit this season and a few more 'Navvies' subscriptions. June saw me sat in Milton Keynes shopping centre at the Milton Keynes Volunteers Conexion Fair drumming up interest for the National Waterways Festival, and the end of June saw us at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham at the Inland Waterways Exhibition. Big thanks must go to Mandy, Josh, Jenny, Eli, Al, Rick, Harriet, MKP, Bushbaby and Izzy on the stand and Leo, Roger B, Roger J, Peter P, Steve, Marcus, Geezer Chris and Mark B in the Lavender Boat. Special thanks to Josh who did a whole day extracting money from people for the Anderton Abseil, despite the fact it was his first ever dig!! So the start of July has seen a small yet select bunch attacking the stand with chrome polish,
Publicity Jude wants your dirty photographs! giving it all a good clean, binning the really embarassing photos and working out what we need pictures and text wise for the 'National' and beyond. So if you have any shots of the following please can you send them to me:
. . . . . . . . . . .
The Lock 3 Aston swimming pool and synchronised paddlers Cooking Navvies Assembly Vans and Trailers Over - right at the beginning Frankton - the very first time around!! Aston Locks - scaffolding Fleet of vans (preferably ours) Over - Finished Brick Cleaning Dumpers
We really need a couple of very high quality shots/group photoâ€™s which we can blow up to A0 size. If you think you have the right piccie please send it to me at: 3 Finwood Road, Rowington, Warks, CV35 7DH and I promise it will get back to you!! And so the next outing is the 'National' over the August Bank Holiday weekend - if you fancy doing a stint on the stand please let me know (01564 785293). Likewise, if you know of other places where we can advertise, do presentations, send the stand, then give me a call. I look forward to the sudden rush of gorgeous photos to the door (Joan the Postwoman may have a different outlook, but since we moved in she has moved up from a bicycle to a van!!). Cheers, Jude Moore
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ35 per week unless otherwise Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified camp number e.g. 'Camp 0122') should go to WRG Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Site services Canal Camp for the Inland Waterways Association's National Wat Leaders: Izzy Gascoigne & Andi Kewley; accommodation on-site at the Festiva
Site services Canal Camp for the Inland Waterways Association's National Wate Leaders: Izzy Gascoigne & Andi Kewley; accommodation on-site at the Festiva
To be arranged
Sep 1 Sat
Waste paper collection
Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project at Summit Lock, Wootton Bassett
To be arranged
Basingstoke Canal Dig Deep project: installing backpumping at St Johns, Wok
Castlefield Carnival, Manchester. wrgNW Sales Stand (provisional)
Droitwich Canal Camp. Finishing-off works at Hanbury locks: completion of lower
Sep 8 Sat
Press date for issue 189
Droitwich Canal: Bring-a-Boat weekend. Moved from Lapal Canal.
Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project at Valley Lock, Chalford
Sep 29 Sat
Waste paper collection
Sep 30 Sun
Committee & Board Meetings
Changed to Oct 13/14
To be arranged
Tameside Canal Clean-up
Oct 7 Sun
Abseiling down Anderton Lift
Basingstoke Canal Dig Deep project: installing backpumping at St Johns, Wok
Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project at Valley Lock, Chalford NOTE NEW
Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project at Summit Lock
Wilts & Berks Canal: Lift Bridge at East Challow
Lichfield Canal Camp, working at Darnford Lane site, Lichfield. Leaders: Joan
Basingstoke Bonfire Bash - a major weekend 'scrub-bash', get-together and G party on the Basingstoke Canal. Volunteers from all regional groups, canal ca Leaders: Ian and Liz Williamson. Please book using the booking form enclose
Basingstoke Bonfire Bash (see above)
To be arranged
Basingstoke Bonfire Bash (see above)
Nov 8 Thu
Press date for issue 190
To be arranged
Nov 10 Sat
Waste paper collection
Nov 18 Sun
Committee & Board Meetings
Wilts & Berks Canal Xmas party dig with London WRG. Stump pulling, scrub bashing and hedge lay
Wilts & Berks Canal: Xmas party dig with KESCRG (see above)
e stated. by a G Canal
Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. e-mail: Dave.Wedd@wrgBITM.org.uk. Fax: 0870-063-3713
terways Festival at Milton Keynes. Setting up and then running the largest inland waterways festival in the world. al. Cost: ÂŁ40
erways Festival at Milton Keynes. Running and then taking down the largest inland waterways festival in the world. al. Cost: ÂŁ40
wing walls, backfilling, landscaping and maybe some gate installation. Leaders: Roger Burchett & Steve Barrett
ne 'Smudge' Smith and Steve Wyatt
Guy Fawkes Night WRG Enquiries mps and anywhere else are welcome. ed with this 'Navvies'.
Answerphone 01622-858329 Kescrg@btinternet.com ying at Dauntsey. Accommodation at Goatacre. Booking details in next issue of 'Navvies'. Tim Lewis
Diary Canal society regular working parties
Mobile groups' social evenings (please phone to confirm before turning up) London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before each dig. Usually at the Jugged Hare, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, but please check with Tim Lewis 020-8367 6227 or e-mail email@example.com. NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the Hope Tap, West end of Friar St. Reading. Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586
These working parties take place regularly on a weekly or monthly basis 1st & 3rd Sunday of month BCG Elsecar Spencer Collins 0114-285-3044 3rd Sunday of month BCNS Jeff Barley 01543-373284 2nd Sunday & following Wed. BCS Cosgrove Athina Beckett 01908-661217 Anytime inc. weekdays BCT Aqueduct section Gerald Fry 01288-353273 Every Sunday ChCT Various sites Mick Hodgetts 01246-454163 Mon & Wed mornings CCT Cotswolds Dudley Greenslade 01453 825515 Every weekend (Sat OR Sun)CCT Cotswolds Neil Ritchie 01452-854057 1st Sunday of monch CCT Cotswolds: summit Mark Welton 01453-872405 Wednesday evenings CCT Cotswolds: East end Keith Harding 01451-860181 4th Mon of month, 6pm CMT London Canal Mus. Martin Sach 020-7625-7376 Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe 0121-608 0296 1st & 3rd Sundays GCRS Grantham Canal Colin Bryan 0115-989-2248 2nd Sat of month GWCT Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd 01823-661653 Tuesdays H&GCT Oxenhall Brian Fox 01432-358628 Wednesdays H&GCT Over Ted Beagles 01452-522648 Saturdays H&GCT Over Maggie Jones 01452-618010 Sundays H&GCT Over Paul Brown 01386-443826 Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 01663-732493 1st Saturday & 3rd Wed. IWA Ipswich Stowmarket Navigtn. Colin Turner 01473-730586 2nd weekend of month IWA SBC Maesbury, Mont. Barry Tuffin 01691-670826/49 2nd weekend of month K&ACT John Rolls 01189-666316 1st Sunday of month LHCRT Lichfield John Horton 01543 262466 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Hatherton Denis Cooper 01543-374370 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Paul Waddington 01757-638027 2nd Sunday of Month SCARS Sankey Canal Colin Greenall 01744-731746 1st Sunday of Month SCCS Combe Hay Locks Bob Parnell 01225-428055 Most weekends SHCS Basingstoke Peter Redway 01483-721710 3rd Sunday of month TMCA David Rouse 01474-362861 Approx 15th of month WACT Mid-Week group Colin Gibbs 020-82417736 Every Sunday & Thursday WACT Devils Hole Lock Eric Walker 023-9246-3025 Thursdays fortnightly WACT Maintenance Unit Peter Wilding 01483-422519 or for general information on Wey & Arun contact their office on 01403-752403 1st weekend of month WAT Little Tring Roger Leishman 01442-874536 Every weekend W&BCAG Peter Smith 01793-852883 Every Sunday W&BCC Dauntsey / Foxham Rachael Banyard 01249-892289 Please send any amendments, additions and deletions to Dave Wedd (address on previous page)
Abbreviations used in Diary BCG BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CCT CMT DCT D&SCS GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWA SBC IWPS
Barnsley Canal Group Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Canal Museum Trust (London) Droitwich Canals Trust Derby & Sandiacre Canal Society Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust IWA Shrewsbury & Border Counties Inland Waterways Protection Society
K&ACT Kennet & Avon Canal Trust KESCRG Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group LHCRT Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust LWRG London Waterway Recovery Group NWPG Newbury Working Party Group PCAS Pocklington Canal Amenity Society SCARS Sankey Canal Restoration Society SCCS Somersetshire Coal Canal Society SHCS Surrey & Hants Canal Society TMCA Thames & Medway Canal Association W&BCAG Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group W&BCC Wilts & Berks Canal Company WACT Wey & Arun Canal Trust WAT Wendover Arm Trust
Dear Martin Given that you have asked what’s not so good about ‘Navvies’ these days... I pay my money every year to WRG and do so gladly. Due to the extortionate costs of a) having two kids and b) hiring a narrowboat c) second hand goats we only get to go boating every other year or so. This makes our only ways of feeding our boating desires to subscribe to the relevant magazines (they can pay if they want to advertise), walk the towpaths when ever we can, meet up with the friends we used to go boating with in the days BC (before children) every year at the IWA and, yes, read ‘Navvies’. I know that the whole point of WRG is the serious side of restoration, repair and maintenance and I am truly grateful for all of the hard work but it must be said that one of the best things about getting my copy of Navvies is the smile factor it used to deliver. Janet Shipstone is right. Health & Safety: very important; being professional: very important; enjoying what we do and having a laugh in life... essential. Given that most of the subscribers to ‘Navvies’ are well and truly into the boaty scene, the people giving up their time are not only giving their time, but paying for the privilege and boating is meant to be fun then let’s have some fun. Never has there been an example printed about WRGies being in charge of plant, equipment or vehicles whilst unfit through drink. Never has there been a report of any injury being caused by the social side of things. Every trade has it’s funny side and most have inhouse magazines describing some of the antics, and it must be said that if I told you the ‘hilarious’ story about what happened at my work the other day many, many people would be offended. If you heard the one about the argument in the control room about the ‘person looking like...’ followed by a twenty minute discussion on who is who in the various soaps you would lose all faith in the profession. But you didn’t (and I’m not telling), it made us smile, it made us laugh, it made us feel good. The same must be said for ‘Navvies’ the WRGies get cold, hot, wet, cut, bruised, scratched & tired. They are entitled to some fun and I’d like to read about it please. I applaud all of the WRGies for their continued efforts, when my kids are old enough to either come along with us or be left at home whilst my wife and I attend camp we will support WRG in a more active way. Until then I subscribe to ‘Navvies’, I support as many of the local groups I can at the IWA and I join the IWA. Steev Stamford
Letters "...what’s not so good about ‘Navvies’ these days..." Dear Martin I Just received my copy of 'Navvies'. Good stuff, but I didn’t realise there were such stringent physical upgrade requirements on the WRGies. See cover Photo of 3-legged 4-armed girl. I suppose this really is a necessity: 3 legs for chasing mini-bus to get to PUB. 4 arms to drink and/or carry all the required pints. I suppose these extra bolt-on’s may even be useful to the WRGie working on a canal... Bye Hi Martin,
I’ve just finished reading the latest ‘Navvies’, including your item on page 4. I don’t pretend to have any answers to the points that you are raising, so I won’t try and provide any. However, I hope that you may take some comfort from a message of support. I have been a subscriber since 1976 (edition 62), and whilst the style has changed slightly over the years (as you would expect), to my mind it still remains one of the best magazines that I have seen (it always jumps the queue on the “to read” pile), and long may it continue that way. As for why numbers are down, I think these things go in cycles, hopefully another year or so and numbers will be heading back up again. This seems to hold true of most of the organisations that I have belonged to over the years. For a number of reasons I have been inactive for a number of years, so I am not really in a position to provide copy; however, my experience of trying to run a website for an owners' club is similar to yours: people seem happy to read, but getting them to provide either advance information on events or follow-up reports can be damn near impossible (“It starts at 1pm” was one contribution: well, that will bring them flocking in, won’t it?) You ask what do we want to read in ‘Navvies’. Personally, I’ve been happy with the sort of material that you have been covering in recent years. Dig reports are always a good staple, the serial usually puts a smile on my face, and some of the technical articles are interesting. What could be in there that isn’t? Mindful that some one has to write it, I’m wary about making suggestions. Keep up the good work. Kind regards
Dear Martin ‘Navvies’ is it worth it? I hesitate to put finger to keyboard as my last missive to your august organ brought howls of anguish from all ‘over’ the West Country but as the sign in my local has it ‘Your cry from the soul has touched my heart, now p— off and stop bothering me!’ To answer your question literally– yes, of course it is. Where else would you get 32 pages (or more) of well written and exceptionally edited verbiage all for the princely sum of £1.50 a year? I don’t actually know why your readership has declined to its 1988 level but how about a few of the following having some bearing on the matter? It is probably fair to say that the drop in readership is closely aligned to the reduced number of new volunteers. I do not have access to the numbers but the cancellation of some camps last year, the impossibility of attracting new working members to our own project (Ipswich IWA) and the nation-wide celebrations when a camp gets some new blood make the inference pretty clear. For too long both IWA and WRG have been living on past glories. The saving of the Stratford Canal,ASHTAC, Big Digs etc. caught the public imagination and in turn produced a surge in people willing to get involved in restoration projects. The main workforce for our modern equivalents (Montgomery, Over) has been drawn from our existing supply and the projects have not resulted in widespread publicity or an increase in volunteers. We are competing with several other organisations for the same limited resource. SUSTRANS, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust et al are all trying to get people to volunteer to do similar jobs to us but with the overwhelming advantage of having particularly effective advertising campaigns and large amounts of cash. I would love to know the profile of the type of people we do attract – perhaps some scope for research in this area so that we can target our limited resources more effectively. The urge to do something before we lose any more waterways is somewhat tempered by the fact that the Government has pumped more money into waterway maintenance and restoration over the past 4 years than at any time in the last 50. Why volunteer to get wet, dirty and cold digging the silt (I nearly used a rude word then) out of the bottom of a lock when someone has paid a JCB driver to sit in a nice warm cab and do it the easy way. Indeed, there is a school of thought that says we shouldn’t bother any more with our restoration efforts, as BW will take it all on anyway.
Once adopted, that policy should be well publicised and enforced. I for one don’t find it at all funny to see that various members of BITM have been banned from a local pub. Secondly, noise at night. Mick did his best to create a ‘lights out, no noise’ scenario after 11 pm but it was very difficult to impose. I well remember one night when one of the locals from the Cricket Club decided it would be great fun to start playing the piano at 2 o’clock in the morning. Now I always used to use earplugs (I used to wake myself with my own snoring) but it even woke me up. Incidentally, the budding Richard Clayderman seemed a little put out when I offered him my opinion of his playing. I know of at least 2 people who simply left the camp because they couldn’t get enough sleep. Thirdly, the accommodation. As an ex-Scout leader I don’t have a problem with roughing it and I have the appropriate equipment but a newcomer faced with the daunting prospect of a floor of the local Village Hall, a cold tap and no showers might well be saying ‘Not again thank you’. It might mean increasing the cost of the camp to choose better accommodation but this could be preferable to losing another volunteer. Now what about the magazine itself? There are still far to many ‘in-jokes’ in both the Camp Reports and various other parts of 'Navvies'. It is a symptom of an inward-looking organisation that names are used that may be well known within WRG but mean absolutely nothing to anyone not closely connected. Even in issue 187, which had very few reports, names such as Marcus, Tenko, Graham & Rick appeared with no explanation of who they were. We must be seen to welcome newcomers and not turn them away from the clique of WRG regulars. I believe we should give consideration to using colour printing in Navvies. Not the simple one colour job as used on the cover but some proper colour photos and some headline colour on the reports. This will clearly cost more but perhaps we could then persuade a few firms to give us some advertising revenue, especially if we could offer colour for their adverts. In any case, £1.50 per annum is a ludicrously small amount. I know we keep the cost down to make it affordable but kids these days spend more than that in a day on mobile phone calls. What about some ‘mini-biogs’ of the great and good in WRG. I’d love to know more about Mike Palmer (facts, not vile rumour and innuendo) and some of the other luminaries on the Board of Directors. Perhaps some of the lesser known people could be persuaded to tell us how they got involved with WRG and what they do in the real world.
I’ve been to 5 or 6 canal camps over the years, all led by ‘Mucky’Mick Beattie and I enjoyed myself immensely not least because Mick organised everything so effectively BUT I can see various aspects of our camps that could cause newcomers to have doubts about returning.
How about getting some feedback from the ‘one time only’ volunteers? This might mean making some phone calls to get the real picture and then publishing some of the answers. Who knows, we might begin to understand some of the decline in readership.
First, the drinking – yes I’m as bad as the rest but we really do need to think about the image we project to the outside world. I do not suggest that a Camp leader should be required to take on the responsibility of telling a 50 year old what he can and can’t drink but we should at least develop a policy on what is and isn’t acceptable.
I would like to see more articles about the history of the waterways we are trying to restore. I’ve always found the ones that have been published in the past extremely interesting. It helps to put the work we do into perspective. I imagine every local society has an historian in its ranks that could be persuaded to contribute an article.
I know we’ve had articles about bricklaying but what about some of the other things we do? For example, I’ve got a half-ton coping stone that needs lifting, the tree roots removed and then relaid. I don’t have any mechanical means of lifting it, so how do I do it? I need to manufacture some stop planks. What sort of timber do I use and what size should it be? I imagine the answers will be in the manual that’s just been issued but a ‘user-friendly’ article in Navvies could be interesting. Finally, what’s good about Navvies as it is? I think Bankside is brilliant. The author knows just where to direct his (her?) barbs and clearly has a finger on the pulse of the bureaucracy inherent in most of the official bodies connected with the inland waterways. The size and layout are just right. Our editor is to be congratulated on his skills with his DTP package. It certainly makes reading ‘easy on the eye’. Despite my reservations about some of the ‘in jokes’, Camp Reports are still an essential part of Navvies. The point of our existence is to restore waterways and a report on how we got on must be worthwhile. I would simply ask the authors to think about their audience. That audience consists of not just the 30 people who were at the camp but also the other 2070 people who get a copy of Navvies. The incident where Charlie (or Fred or Bill) had an interesting encounter with the toaster might have been one of the funniest things you ever saw but probably leaves the rest of your readers cold. Actually, it was probably Bill Crockett because I remember back in ’96 or was it 97… Sorry, I got carried away then! That’s it. I hope this letter will provoke responses as Martin says ‘constructive and helpful’ if possible – but basically anything goes. I won’t be offended (well not very much) but don’t be surprised if I respond in kind. Spencer Greystrong Dear Martin Of course it’s worth it! I never cease to be amazed by your ability to get ‘Navvies’ together every couple of months - not just the editor but those others who write all this stuff. Some of us actually like to know how WRG is progressing in its endeavours: what new crackpot ideas it has for yet even more absurd restoration projects; how it is single-handedly training the core of the British construction industry; how it argues all year that Over can’t be finished by the contracted date... then does so with time in hand for a visit to the pub - we need to know these things. There is also a need for a sense of history. It’s no good WRG making history by its good works without recording that history before someone else writes their own distorted version of it for you. ‘Navvies’ provides the necessary facility to get the story straight and in your own style - indeed, the style is itself part of the history.
Mind you I still see a place for regular complaints to keep everyone on their toes... and if they were all as hilarious as Janet Shipstone’s (187) all the better. Perhaps she could save us all some effort, and no doubt add considerably to the joy of life, by writing a letter of complaint for each edition. With very best regards Dear Martin
Just read the latest edition of ‘Navvies’ and noted you comments about lack of content from authors. In the old days there used to be a series of regular features picking a project and summarising recent progress. Perhaps you could reintroduce this: this would especially enable projects that do not regularly feature WRG visits to get some press about their project. (e.g. until this year’s camp on the Wendover little was said about it, yet it has been very busy creating the Great Wall of Tring). Regards
Just a few brief comments - you've already had enough of my opinions in the lengthy editorial column... Youcan'tpleaseallthepeopleallthetime:(compare Steev and Spencer's letters). To those new people who are in on the in-jokes, it can help make them feel part of the WRG community. To those who aren't, it can make them feelmoreofanoutsider. Yes,weusetoomanyfirst-names and nicknames that many readers don't know; on the other hand, it would be a drag if every camp report had to either explain exactly who everybody is whose name is mentioned, or avoid mentioning people by name at all. We need to get the balance right, and it's not easy. Few people actually pay the minimum subscription of £1.50. I don't believe much money would be brought in by raising it to (say) £3. If we wanted to print 'Navvies' in colour, we'd probably need to find sponsors. In the past we have had a policy of no commercial advertising in 'Navvies': time to review this? Yes, we have been concerned about volunteer numbers on Canal Camps over the last couple of years, and yes we have been doing our best to get more feedback and to act on it. But (a) it's not as bad as Spencer suggests - it's not quite national rejoincing when a new volunteer turns up, and there have been encouraging numbers of first-timers from previous years returning, (b) we were beginning to think that things were on the way up again - although the difficulty in establishing the effect on this year's bookings of the late publisihing of the Camps booklet plus the Foot & Mouth epidemic make it difficult to gauge, and (c) soliciting feedback is another place where we have to get the balance right - or else we'll get a reply along the lines of "I came here for a holiday - I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" Yes - I would like there to be more factual articles about waterway restoration projects and technical articles about restoration methods in 'Navvies'. PLEASE somebody write me some! OK that's my two-pennorth. Over to you... The editor
NorthWest "Mr. Mac" looks back to a quarter-century ago... WRG NorthWest: how it all began... During the course of a phone conversation with John Foley a few days ago, I remarked that I could, whilst stood washing the dishes, talk to myself and compose some of the finest prose in the English language, equalling - if not surpassing - that of Sir Winston Churchill. However, come to write it down and it's gone! I even tried using the cassette recorder but all I got on tape was the clatter of dishes! Occasionally, just occasionally, I CAN put pen to paper and something decent flows from my fluent hand but ALL the Magnificent phrases which had been in my mind only minutes - nay seconds - before have gone like the flashes of lightning which are about even as I write on this last Saturday of Wimbledon... All this is not really in response to Martin's plea for more copy - its been in mind for two or three months but the extended press date has removed all excuses. We are always told that the worst conflicts are civil wars where Father and Son are on opposing sides. This always comes to mind when I recall the events at this time in 1976 for it was then that I heard the first rumblings of what I personally choose to call The Second Great Peak Forest Canal Society Mutiny. Following the grand re-opening of that same canal in March 74, the enthusiastic young members of the working party, still straining at the bit, decided to repay the Debt of Honour by going to other sites - particularly those whose members had come to help us. This was fine to begin with but the Society membership had dropped over the next two years from its Peak (!) Of 750 to 350 and the Treasurer announced that there was no more money left to subsidise the working party. It was also pointed out that strictly, the Memorandum & Articles which governed the Company (Limited by guarantee) only allowed us to work on the canals we now call the 'Cheshire Ring'; therefore we could not legally work on the - then - infant Rochdale or Huddersfield Societies' projects.
There seemed to be no way out of this impasse so it was thought by these keen young diggers that, rather than let the PFCS gently fade away, the solution would be to wind it up in an orderly fashion with its few assets (one old sludge pump, a clapped out dumper and a few rusty hand tools) be given to the Huddersfield Canal Society - together with the remaining members, who could choose to stay or go at renewal time. All of these arguments - and many more - were the subject of regular morning slanging matches between yours truly and my fine Son & Heir Ian, 'Big Mac'. Some select few of you have been honoured by being received at the stately pile called Woodstock (A recent note from a wealthy tax exile in the IoM has wondered if it will now be renamed BLENHEIM in view of recent events!) but for those of you yet to be favoured, I shall explain that the room the Family has always called The Kitchen and referred to by others as The Living Room (perhaps shortly to be renamed The Morning Room) has two smaller rooms leading off the same wall, the first being the very convenient facility or cloakroom; the second being the Kitchenette. I therefore ask you to imagine Father shaving away in the cloakroom whilst Son is shovelling away at his huge bowl of cornflakes in the kitchen where Mother is cutting butties for both. The two men shouting the latest arguments which they had thought up over the previous 24 hours and going at it hammer-and-tongs until firmly told by Herself to SHUT UP. I kid you not: this went on for weeks! At the time of the 'National' that year (was it Peterborough?) I recall seeing a group of conspirators lurking behind a big marquee, furtively looking round - like lads puffing their first ciggy - and poring over a copy of the Memo & Articles which they had somehow managed to obtain. The arguments at home were by this time becoming more subdued as each pondered the merits of the other's arguments. The A.G.M. of the P.F.C.S. was usually held in September and by then it had been decided by the Mutineers to put forward the motion to wind up the Society in a seemly & orderly manner possibly transferring everything to the Huddersfield and this was calmly & methodically proposed by the young Chris Griffiths. John Charles Palmer the father of our two made a wonderful speech in support but when put to the vote it was rejected - whereupon Chris jumped up and announced with a flourish that a new NORTH WEST branch of the Waterway Recovery Group would come into being on the 1st January 1977!!
Until I started to write this screed I had always thought that North West was the First branch of WRG but on looking at 'Navvies' No. 63 (December 1976) the 'Next Time Out' column shows not only London WRG but Cambridge WRG as well. In his editorial, our glorious founder Graham Palmer wrote of the Gloomy Financial Situation but he went on: "...there is good news on the formation of North West which is the culmination of my long felt wish - a logical move which will give us all much greater corporate strength - I am happier for the future now..."
NorthWest "...a logical move which will give us greater corporate strength..." As some of you will recall, the PFCS lingered on until comparatively recently being wound up only a few years ago.
I Wonder if he'd still be as happy??! Chris Griffiths wrote in the same issue of the aim: "to bring together all the Floating volunteer labour in the North West to form an efficient (sic) workforce capable of assisting where the need is greatest." It was also intended, Chris went on, "to revive enthusiasm for Restoration in the North West which seems to have died somewhat..."
It had built up a wonderful name and reputation and that is why Son and I had argued so much over our rushed breakfasts! David 'Mr Mac' McCarthy MBE
Perhaps the most telling phrase is that "North West will be modelled on and very closely associated with WRG whilst remaining an autonomous body." Those writing in magazines should take care of any prophesies!! I also smile now because we always seemed to fall over ourselves to do everything like 'Central' (as we called it ). This occasionally led to some stupid decisions / actions but good sense eventually prevailed! Today there are only THREE of the founding members active in North West - John Palmer, Barry McGuinness and yours truly. We and MANY others have had a great sense of achievement from the many tasks accomplished . Above all, we've had much fun and had the company of many splendid folk. Not everyone left the PFCS to join WRG. A small contingent had seen an isolated plot alongside the Ashton Canal (universally referred to as 'The Land') and they formed the Ashton Canal Carriers which has prospered so much that a magnificent boatyard now exists there, all thanks to a dedicated few, amongst them the late and WRG NorthWest announces its arrival to an unsuspecting world in much respected Dave Brown. 'Navvies' 63, December 1976.
WRG BITM ...at Haverholme Lock on the Sleaford Navigation BITM on the Slea. The Rugby Club is magnificent accommodation, if no one else is using it! The 8 BITMites rather rattled about in the enormous space. The kitchen is of a good commercial standard if a bit short of fridge space: with the bar closed our “honesty box” stock took up most of the space. Steve the manager couldn’t be more helpful. The distance travelled meant that everyone, except we East Anglians, was pretty late on Friday, and it’s even a 90-minute journey for us. Never mind, we had a nice session in the bar with Norman Osbourne, his wife and son and Barbara Mackey of SNT before anyone else arrived. The lift made getting our catering kit to the first floor kitchen a doddle when our van 'WNE' arrived. After Graham’s usual excellent breakfast (and Barbara’s delivery of tea in bed), we managed, unusually, to get to site quite close to 09:00 - even before the SNT volunteers. The site was Haverholme Lock, where the camp in 2000 had scrub bashed and cleared the bywash. Our job was to put in a temporary bridge and to concrete the bed of the bywash - or as much as we could do in the time.
SNT work party leader, David Turner, their engineer David Pullen and their safety officer David Carnell had got all the jobs and materials sorted, with the help of SNT volunteer and local farmer the above mentioned Norman acting as transport gofer. The bridge, designed by D.C, came in kit form and was assembled and launched across to the top of the lock in good Sapper form whilst D.P and Dave Wedd started setting out the bywash and constructing the shuttering. Once the heavy job of bridge launching was complete, Mark Gribble and yours truly, with Nigel Baker on dumper, started moving the 11 tonnes of aggregate the customary ¼ mile from the road access to the mixing position, whilst the others carried on assembling the walkway, hand rails and foot boards on the bridge. The artistry of Barbara H and Stella Wentworth fitting the walkway was a joy to behold. The bridge being only a few feet above the crest of a weir with a foot of water running made sure that anything dropped was a mile down the river in no time; my pipe on Sunday proved this point! By 16:00 the bridge was complete, the shuttering and reinforcement for the first pours in place, all the aggregate moved, a near tonne of cement to hand and all the plant ready. Mixing and pouring commenced. Unfortunately by that time all us old fogeys were in need of zimmer frames the youngsters totally knackered. However we started mixing and pouring, the bridge quickly proved it's worth and one mixer could not keep up with the barrow team, with John Cheesbrough in front. The second mixer was brought up and by 18:00 the first pour was complete.
Building the temporary bridge over the head of Haverholme Lock... (Stella Wentworth)
Site was cleared and a little after 19:00 we were back at the Rugby Club - the stairs were a bit difficult. However after a couple of beers and an invigorating hot shower life returned, Graham’s magnificent dinner served in best buffet style went down a treat as did a drop of scrumpy and a little red wine. No one felt like moving so a trip to the pub was held over, bed beckoned - there was no snoring! Bright and earlyish on Sunday we were back on site with mixers and barrows in action almost before dawn, well 09:30, and the second pour in progress (the female team placing the concrete showing us all how to do it) whilst the shuttering team prepared the third. Reinforcement of SNT volunteers arrived, Ernest and Izzy, and joined in with a will. With adequate quantities of tea and orange cake and date slice, prepared by the fair hand of Stella, the third pour was started with a will. The teams rotated informally, i.e. people grabbed the nearest empty barrow or unused shovel, the 'craic' was great and the SNTs and BITMites formed a great team.
WRG BITM "...accommodation well up to standard and satisfying work..." Unfortunately BITM’s chairman believes he may have upset the cake maker as she threw a barrow complete with concrete at him - luckily for the barrow it did not miss and therefore was undamaged. [untrue - if I’d thrown it, the barrow would never have slid so gracefully down the ramp! But I’m very relieved it wasn’t damaged. ...Stella] Decision time approached, as did lunch, the aggregate left was not really enough to be certain of finishing the fourth pour, so it was decided to declare a truce when the lunch arrived and to clear site early so that the long distance travellers could get home before midnight. Lunch arrived, bacon and sausage butties by Barbara Mackay with salad by Graham, more cake by Stella and tea by A. N. Other. A nice little social event to round off a great weekend. Altogether one of the nicest BITM weekends, a good team, both us and them without that feeling, good humour, accommodation well up to standard and satisfying work. When can we come again, SNT? How did they arrange the private fly-past of the Battle of Britain Flight? Tony Hinsley
...so as to be able to barrow concrete across it... (Stella Wentworth)
...to lay the concrete base for the bywash. (John Cheesbrough)
Essex WRG ...on their first ever visit to the Droitwich Junction Canal Essex WRG at Droitwich Considering how long the Droitwich scheme has been running, this was surprisingly our first visit, and we were booked for a joint dig with North West wrg. There was the promise of varied work on a site containing a flight of locks. On arrival at the pub, we knew we were at the right place, because parked outside was the Johnmobile and trailer, but a lack of familiar faces inside was explained when we found out John and Dave had gone off to find food. We were soon met by others; Mike and Jude (Mike was leading the weekend, but would be at work), the Elm Park Gang and a van full of North West all soon started to improve the ‘Railway’s profit line. We were to have 23 residents, plus various transient visitors, for the weekend. The hall was a guide hut not far from the railway station, and there were various rumbling noises all night, although which were trains and which Dave’s snoring it was difficult to tell. The kitchen was somewhat rudimentary, with a Burco which tripped the electricity, and cooking was by means of the KESCRG cooker powered by an external gas cylinder. The toaster was installed directly under the smoke alarm, a fact which we discovered half-way through toasting the first slices.
By contrast, the concreting gang had a slightly more straightforward job, the main problems being the rather long distance between the mixer and where the concrete was needed and delivering the concrete down a steep slope without delivering the barrow too. Other, smaller, gangs worked on wing wall rebuilding and the dreaded brick cleaning. The wrg excavator ‘Blue’ was on site following the training weekend, allowing Malcolm a training session and me to gain experience in what I couldn’t do at Basingstoke – go up and down slopes. Sunday dawned bright, but with a cool breeze which later dropped to produce a hot afternoon. The scaffolding gang had a shock when they discovered there was a plan of how to erect the scaffold – and were shown it! All suddenly became clear about the wood which had been delivered with the scaffolding poles; it was for bracing the wedges the scaffolding feet had been laid on (remember the deep invert?) to the centre standards (standard = vertical pole – I said I knew the theory). Also, the diagonal bracing on the plan didn’t quite match what had been installed. It was decided to concentrate on getting the feet firmly on the ground and let someone else worry about the stuff above water level another weekend. Work then proceeded in similar vein to Saturday’s operations, with the return of anything not nailed down to the DCT compound near the accommodation at the end of the day. It was soon time to head back to the hall, clean up, return the battery to the smoke alarm and head for home. Steve Morley
Saturday dawned uncertain in the weather department, but after a rain shower it brightened into a sunny afternoon. Two main areas of work were on offer; scaffolding out the lock and concreting round a heavy duty plastic pipe which had been installed to replace a collapsed by weir culvert. The scaffolding experts were Jim Lamen, who had done a bit of scaffolding about 30 years ago, and I, who had done the theory on a health and safety course but hadn’t actually wielded a scaffolding spanner. The kit of parts arrived on the back of SWS and were duly delivered to site over the hedge. We duly set to, generally following what had gone before (always a dodgy move!). We were helped when a cunning hydraulic pump device was used to drain the somewhat deep lock invert.
"delivering the concrete down a steep slope without delivering the barrow too" (Martin Ludgate)
It ainâ€™t all Over... Although Over basin on the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal has largely gone unmentioned in the last few editions of Navvies, work continues on the site with three sizeable H&GCT working parties each week tackling both routine maintenance and major construction. During June, efforts were stepped up, when, as part of their work camp, the H&GCT built much of the water supply infrastructure for the canal. Centrepiece to this is the 10m deep, 2.5m diameter reinforced concrete pump shaft, which will feed water from the River Leadon to much of the Gloucestershire end of the canal.
Progress ...at Over Basin? Where's that then?
Excavation of the pump shaft and associated channels saw the freshly refurbished Volvo 6wheel dumper back in action, with material being tipped to create a 37 space car park and noise bunds at the entrance to the site. Marcus Jones
Above: excavating the hole for the pump shaft. Left: cutting the hole for the inlet pipe in the first of the concrete rings that will form the pump shaft. Below right: craning-in the 2.5m diameter concrete rings. Below left: view down the completed 10m-deep pump shaft, with the inlet just visible on the right. Photos by Adrian Fry.
Logistics "...feel free to whinge... better still sack me, PLEASE!" Monkeys... Well, no surprises, no-one has sent me any suggestions (of any nature – clean or otherwise!!) for this “Whose 'Navvies' is it anyway?” logistics article so yet again I’ve had to come up with a style myself – no prizes for guessing where this one’s headed!! It’s funny but when the camp season starts, things here (and 'here' is anywhere these days!!!) at Logistics tend to ease off and we can usually relax a little with the knowledge that the kits are out there and not “here”. So what has altered this for 2001? One can’t help feeling the f*ck-up fairy has overstayed her welcome and could really do with buggering off sharpish! Mind you, she has certainly been helped along the way. No sooner do things get replaced or fixed than stuff gets lost or broken just to motivate the perpetual battle of keeping the kits in reasonable repair. Thank you so very much to all contributors (a hint of sarcasm? Surely not?!!)!
On new additions, I would like to thank Dr Liz for the brightly coloured knife rolls which she has now completed. Smashing! But please remember the knives are still VERY sharp! I must also thank Mr Mac MBE (Congratulations!) for his rare insight into the whereabouts of several mainstream kit teaspoons … well, they had to end up with Northwest sooner or later! Again, any information on locations of stray kit is much appreciated. I’m increasingly getting the feeling there are several things I said I would do but haven’t yet which is a bit of a worry! This is due mainly to the fact that my brain at present appears to resemble 222 and 422 (go on, check that kit list if you’re on a camp!). This in turn is due mainly to yet another upheaval and Logistics has gone mobile for the summer. Any post or queries to that nice young man, Ian, at Head Office who should hopefully have some idea of where I’ll be! [Thanks, Ian!] I will also be able to pick up e-mails if you want to do it the technological way but don’t expect an immediate answer! If there is anything I’ve said I’ll do and don’t appear to have done yet I won’t be offended if you politely remind me. Normal service will hopefully resume come the autumn (at which point I will not take hassling reminders kindly!)! Finally, if you experience any difficulties that you think may have been caused by a logistical faux pas then feel free to whinge (you know the reaction by now!)! Better still sack me, PLEASE! You’ll be welcome - my travelling bags are already packed! Just Jen firstname.lastname@example.org
On the subject of replacing stuff, I would like to ask (with somewhat dubious feelings of a successful outcome!) if anyone has a fridge freezer or two they’d like to donate to canal camps kits. We are Mobile Logistics – Not as static as we used to be. also severely lacking in the teapot department Anderton Abseil latest: sponsorship reaches £1282. and it’s proving a little Viv Thorpe knocks Martin off pole position! tricky trying to find re- If you haven't already sponsored one or all of our volunteers to abseil placements that are of down England's last remaining boat-lift to help pay to restore it, please do ÿþýüûýú øýü÷öû õý ôóòñòóð suitable size and ro- so now using the enclosed form, or see the WRG web site www.wrg.org.uk. bustness! So if anyone üþûýûû happens to ambling üûþýüû around their local army üûûýûû þýüû ýüû ýüû surplus store (don’t þýüû bother if yours is Anûýûû þýüû chor Supplies in Ripley ÿþýüû ÿþýüû because theirs are ýüû ýüû ÿûýûû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû þýüû tiddly!!) and spots teapots fit for a horde of ûýûû thirsty navvies (Hmmm… a collective þûýûû of navvies? Now what would that be?) at a ûýûû reasonable price then please give me a shout and I may well detail you to go buy!
Ribble Link volunteers wanted Work is finally in progress on building the Ribble Link in Lancashire - there will be a article in the next issue - but in the meantime the Ribble Link Trust are keen for any volunteer assistance they can get. If any of the regional groups have any weekends spare, or have any cancellations in their programme or can squeeze an extra weekend in, please consider working on the Ribble Link: a brand-new navigation. Please contact Spencer Collins on 0114 2853 044 or e-mail email@example.com if you can help.
WRG Boat Club: the BBC News Well things are loking up after the F&M stoppages. Sadly, with closures and flooding, some of the earlier rallies were not so well attended, but I gather they were successful. I went by boat to the festival at Wendover where wrgBITM were doing site and services. The first thing I learned was that BW (or someone) had changed the name to the ‘Tring Canal Festival’, I didn’t even know there is a Tring Canal. Those that had been supporting the festival for years didn’t think much of the change of name. All the money raised from the festival goes toward restoration of the Wendover Arm, making the whole thing worth supporting. Another thing I learned was the power of the fluorescent yellow jacket: Wow! Don one of those and it’s like something out of Harry Potter (OK I read kids’ books). I immediately became a combination of a fount of all knowledge and an über stumphen führer! [I think she means 'übersturmführer' - some kind of German military captain - but alternatively maybe 'überstrumpfenführer', who I guess would be the person in charge of stockings. ...Ed] People asking questions and accepting the answers as irrefutable, as were any requests or instructions to them. Too much of this and I would start thinking that I made sense! I also learned the dangers of addressing Mike as ‘Our Leader’ The accomodation at the ‘Wendover Bash’ was either as usual at the scout hut or, for a change, on a boat. The organisers offered me a mooring by the lock, where the digging wrgies were, and couldn’t understand that I prefered to be by the mill and nearer to my breakfast One boater was given some flour and was very noble and made some bread from it, to share amoung the needy. It was a very successful and enjoyable weekend. Lots of money was raised and everyone had nothing but praise for the new bridge. It will be even better with water under it and wrgbc boats navigating it, oh and others of course! WRG BC In the SMITE! There was a mini boat club gathering at the Inland Waterways Exhibition, at the end of June when the boats of members attending were moored together.
Bits & pieces ...including the WRG Boat Club news WRG were doing the lavender boat and as the ‘do’ was meant to be very high profile a TV interviewer plus cameras travelled with the first one. A gentleman boat club member* (who owns and works a number of farms in Northamptonshire) was asked why he volunteered for such a job. He explained that it was his son who had volunteered him, but as it was a more pleasant occupation than mucking out the pigs he didn’t find it that distasteful. BW had kindly provided the tug SMITE for the lavender boat and many noticed their thoughtfulness. However, some who didn’t understand what the lavender boat was, frowned at a member’s explicit explanation. [see also back page ...Ed] STOP PRESS...Bring-a Boat Latest: The planned weekend 15/16 September will NOT be at Selly Oak The latest is that it will be at Droitwich, mind you that is just the latest I’ve heard but you will be the first I communicate with, once released, should it be changed again. Coming soon: the Ian Chambers style boat gathering, the type of get-together most suited to our club. A date and venue will be fixed. There will be no forms, no booking, no informatiom. The format is that you then tell everyone that it is cancelled, and they say ‘Who cares? We are coming anyway’. You tell callers that it’s not on and they say, ‘Well we’re coming and we’ve told everyone we know to come.’ And they do. WRGNW have a stand and have to be browbeaten into confessing that they do in fact have some Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls. Eventually they get them out from the hiding place and are forced to sell them to you but only because of persistence and the fuss and attention caused. Other groups could adopt this new version of the ‘hard sell’. Lots of boats crowd there and a good time is had by all. There isn’t the usual B awful mess to clear up on the field on the Monday either. Seems a good way to have a boat gathering to me. See you all, well lots of you, at Milton Keynes. What award shall we go in for this year? XXX Sadie e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07748 186867 PS It has been suggested that boat club members try to get boats to the Bonfire Bash on the Basingstoke in November - if the canal's open then. Seems an excellent plan to me. More on this later. *yes it is possible to be both
Bits & Pieces
The 'Silver Fox' Camp on the Droitwich Camp 0121 on September 8-15 will be putting the finishing touches on Hanbury Locks, with Roger Burchett and Steve Barrett leading. But that doesn't mean you have to have grey hair to volunteer for it (so Marcus you can put away that grey wig!) - all volunteers welcome, and we hope to get all the main lock restoration work finished. And for the final weekend 15-16 September we've got the Bring-a-boat weekend dig (see previous page) to help us. The October Camp on the Lichfield It wouldn't be a real Canal Camps season without a Lichfield Camp, so Joanne 'Smudge' Smith and Steve Wyatt will be leading a week of work at the Darnford Lane work-site from 20 -27 October. The Basingstoke Bonfire (& Beer!) Bash This takes place on November 3-4, and combines a major working party with a Guy Fawkes 'do' on the Saturday night and a chance to meet up with everyone else in WRG - and KESCRG too.
Christmas already? London WRG and KESCRG will as usual be getting together for a major weekend working party and Christmas party on December 1-2. This year the venue is the Wilts & Berks Canal, and the work will be stump pulling, scrub bashing and hedge laying at Dauntsey. Accommodation will be at Goatacre village hall, and there will be further details and booking information in the next 'Navvies' ...and so to 2002... The New Year Camp this year is on the Basingstoke again, (or 'TBA' for short!) and Clive Alderman will be leading it. Although officially it runs from December 26th to January 1st, if enough volunteers are interested in spending Christmas itself on a Camp, we may start a couple of days earlier. Bookings for this Camp should go to the usual Head Office address. (see diary pages)
Lost property If anyone lost a navy blue sweatshirt on Camp 0104 on the Cotswolds could they please contact Ian & Liz on 01844 351549.
Remember this place?
Pete Redway of the Surrey & Hants Canal Society has promised us "up to 30 miles of scrub-bashing" the entire offside bank of the canal to clear. So we need lots of people to come and chop trees down because we only have a weekend to do it in! This weekend is for anyone who has been digging at all on this summer's Canal Camps. Why not keep that promise to keep in touch with your fellow campers, and get them all along? This weekend is for anyone who has been digging with any of the regional groups this year - your chance to find out what the other groups have been up to! This weekend is for you even if you've bever been out with us at all, but fancy seeing what we do... or for your friends / family / other half to see what you get up to and join in... So come along - you might just enjoy it! Fill in the booking form in this 'Navvies' and send it off today! By the way, the great 'how much beer do we need' debate is starting to get ever-so-slightly heated (unlike the beer, we hope!) so please book early so we know how much we really need... and avoid a 'dry' end to the festivities. Doctor Liz Williamson
That's right - it's a watercolour by Garth Allan of the restored Over Basin. You can buy Christmas cards with this picture on them - with the proceeds going to support the Hereford & Gloucester Canal restoration. Individual cards are 65p each and packs of 5 cards are £3. Orders for over 100 cards will be packaged and dispatched free. Also available as a notelet (for the same price) and as a coaster at £1.25 each or £6 for a pack of six. Please contact Penny Shetliffe on 01432 820623.
And finally... ...apologies from the Editor for no 'Bankside' episode this time due to lack of space. And thanks to everyone who has helped to cause this lack of space by contributing to 'Navvies' recently. Please keep sending in those camp reports, and I hope to see most of you in the beer tent at the 'National'. Cheers! Martin
Stamps wanted The WRG Canal Camps mobile phones: 07850 422156 (A) and 07850 422157 (B)
Send all your used postage stamps, cigarette and petrol coupons and old phone cards to IWA/ WRG Stamp Bank, 33, Hambleton Grove, Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.
We apologise for the late arrival...
...of the new online WRGwear page on the WRG web site, due to operational difficulties in the Sussex area. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
MOVING HOUSE Harriet Rennie has a new school term-time address: Staff Hostel, National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy, St Piers Lane, Lingfield, Surrey RH7 6PW. New mobile phone: 07855 452788 e-mail address: email@example.com
Directory update: Clive Reed of the Swansea Canal Society lives at 17 Smithfield Road, Pontardawe, Swansea SA8 4LA tel: 01792 830782 Full directory of WRG and canal societies will next appear in 'Navvies' 190 (press date 8th November) All updates to the editor please.
Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group Ltd, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration Subscriptions / circulation and conservation of inland Sue Watts waterways by voluntary ef15 Eleanor Road fort in Great Britain. Articles Chorlton-cum-Hardy may be reproduced in allied Manchester M21 9FZ magazines provided that the Printing and assembly: source is acknowledged. John & Tess Hawkins WRG may not agree with 4 Links Way, Croxley Grn opinions expressed in this Rickmansworth, Herts magazine, but encourages WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 publication as a matter of firstname.lastname@example.org terest. Editor : Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Road East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266
Noticeboard The Book Auction Successful bids for the auction in the last 'Navvies' - with corrected lot numbers (sorry!)... 1 £32 18 No Bid 35 £10 2 £16.50 19 £6 36 £15.50 3 £16.50 20 No Bid 37 £7.50 4 £16 21 £3 38 £11.50 5 £18.50 22 £2.50 39 £10.50 6 £24 23 £3 40 No Bid 7 £10 24 £2 41 No Bid 8 £8 25 No Bid 42 No Bid 9 £13.50 26 No Bid 43 £10 10 £9 27 £4 44 No Bid 11 £8 28 £5.50 45 No Bid 12 £7.50 29 £7.50 46 No Bid 13 £9 30 £9.50 47 £6.50 14 £12.50 31 £7 48 £65 15 £10 32 £8.50 49 No Bid 16 No Bid 33 £10.50 50 No Bid 17 £4 34 £8.50 Total £429.00
Fridgeandcookerfreetogoodhome: both only approx 18 months old and little used, locatedBeckenham(SouthLondon): Gas cooker, (natural gas) 4 burners with mains ignition,oven/grill. Fridge,230v,fitsunderworktop,approx500mmwide ContactBobKeaveney,Tel:02086585896 Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWAaccept no liability for any matter in this magazine.
John Baylis, Michael Beattie, Malcolm Bridge, Roger Burchett, Ray Carter, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, © 2001 WRG ltd Helen Davey, ISSN 0953-6655 Roger Day, Richard Waterway Recovery Group Drake, Neil Edwards, Ltd is a subsidiary of the In- Adrian Fry, John land WaterwaysAssociation Hawkins, Jennifer Leigh, Judith Moore, (a registered charity). Michael Palmer, Registered office: Jonathan Smith. 3 Norfolk Court, Norfolk Rd. Rickmansworth WD3 1LT Secretary: tel : 01923 711114 Neil Edwards Registered in England no VAT reg. no : 285 1387 37 1599204
Accommodation for a KESCRG dig?
Root canal work? As mentioned on page 28, Viv Thorpe has now replaced the editor at the top of the league table for sponsorship raised for the Anderton Abseil. So why are people so keen to pledge money on Viv's behalf. I wonder if perchance it might be in any way connected with his occupation as... a dentist?!? "Pass the extra-large pliers please, nurse... no, we won't bother with any anaesthetic... oh, by the way Mr Smith, I was just wondering if you'd like to sponsor me..."
(with thanks to Dave Miller for the photograph)
What's in a name? Following the recent discussions about the fictional characters in the 'Bankside' serial who are named after breweries, I'd like to point out that the all the letters in the letters pages this time are genuine - including the one from Tim Boddington... honestly, he's a real person!
And finally... ...by way of a change from having to try to explain the 'in-jokes' in camp reports to people who weren't there, Jen tells me that the only people who failed to understand the jokes in her last WRGNA dig report were people who were there. I suppose these Well, what do you expect if you provide the Lavender Boat crew at the must be 'out-jokes' then... Inland Waterways Exhibition with a boat called 'Smite'? (Steve Morley)