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a vvies N Volunteers restoring waterways No 198 April - Ma y 2003 Droitwich wins the Lottery! Aston Locks reopened

waterway recovery group

Contents Contrib utions ... Contributions utions... ...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on 3½" floppy disk, CR-ROM or by email. 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. Digital / computer scanned photos also welcome, either on floppy / CD-ROM 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 Press date for No 199: May 1st.

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 (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 3 Chairman Aston Locks are open! 4-5 Appeal news The Right Tool for the Right Job 6 Training book now for the training weekend 7 Camp Report February on the Mont 8-9 Cleanup reporting from the BCN 10-13 Operation Ironville Cromford dig report 14-15 Froghall WRG NW on the Caldon 16-17 Diary camps and working parties 18-20 Letters more on Bradley Locks 21-22 Plant Bungle’s still taking the KL15 apart 23 WRGBC WRG Boat Club news 24 Aberdare A little-known South Wales canal 25 Ohio and Erie ...and one in the USA... 26-27 Trent-Severn ...and even one in Canada! 28 Logistics Red Hand Day 29 Camps preview summer Canal Camps 30 London WRG 31 Bankside at last - the serial returns 32-33 Bits & Pieces 34 Noticeboard 35 Backfill recipes for disaster 36

And ne xt time ... next time... ...full reports from Aston and the Training Weekend, and a final preview of this year’s Camps.

Visit our web site for all the latest news of WRG's activities

Cover photo: Aston Locks reopened: the VIP boat leaves Lock 1 after John Craven declares the locks and the length of the Montgomery Canal through Maesbury to Gronwen Bridge officially open on April 4th. (Steve Davis) See the next issue for a full write-up of the event. Below: the Woodham Backpumping System on the Basingstoke was officially opened on March 29th, and Pete Redway was unexpectedly honoured by having the pumping-station named after him. (Martin Ludgate) Book now for Camp 0313 to help build the St Johns Backpumping System, the next stage in opening the canal all year round.

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Good News (1): Aston Locks The flight of three locks on the Montgomery Canal that we spent many years restoring in the late 1980s and 1990s were finally reopened on a glorious sunny 4th of April. The cover photo shows John Craven and the rest of the reopening party leaving lock 1 on their journey down the newlyopened length to beyond Maesbury - which incidentally brings the total of the restored sections of the canal to around 18 miles, or more than half of the entire canal. See Mike Palmer’s ‘Chairman’s Page’ overleaf for more about the Mont, see the WRG web site for lots more photos, and see the next issue of ‘Navvies’ for a full report of the reopening weekend. Good News (2): Droitwich Canals Meanwhile on the Droitwich, scene of much WRG activity during the last few years and particularly in 2001, there’s more to celebrate about. The Heritage Lottery Fund and Advantage West Midlands have both given provisional approval to providing £7 Million of restoration funding between them. Together with £1 million each from the county council and local authority plus smaller amounts still to be raised elsewhere, this should pay for the complete restoration of the remaining unrestored lengths of both the Droitwich Barge Canal and Droitwich Junction Canal within the next five years. So does this mean no more work needed by volunteers on the Droitwich, as the professional contractors take over the remaining jobs? No, not at all: it is likely that volunteer work will form an important part of the restoration funding ‘package’ and the person-hours of work that the volunteers put in will count towards the ‘match funding’ required by the bodies providing the major grants. So look out for plenty of work on the Droitwich in forthcoming years.


Coming soon: summer Canal Camps By the time you receive this issue of ‘Navvies’ the start of the main summer Canal Camps season will only be a couple of months away. Already several of the Camps are nearly fullybooked, so if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to get your booking forms in now if you want to avoid disappointment. Just in case you still can’t decide which Camp you want to go on, to help you there is a Camps Preview on page 30 with the latest information including the names of the leaders for most of the Camps. The Appeal As you will see on page 6, the IWA ‘The Right Tool for the Right Job’ appeal to raise money to buy equipment and training for WRG has got off to a good start, but there’s still a long way to go to reach the target of £75,000. We need your ideas for fundraising - and especially your offers to do something to help. Please contact Liz Williamson (see p6) and volunteer your services. And finally, speaking of ‘Dr Liz’... ...she says please can I give a huge ‘thank you’ to Brian Bayston, Bob & Sue WIlliams and Alan & Rosemary for their contributions to making the Race Night at Aston such a success, raising over £2500 for the Appeal. Martin Ludgate

BCN Cleanup success Well done to everyone who turned up for the BCN Cleanup and shifted enormous amounts of junk from the canals around and under ‘Spaghetti Junction’. The local authorities and British Waterways were delighted with the result, and we are already planning next year’s event: it will probably take place on March 20-21, and is likely to be concentrating on the length of the Wyrley & Essington Canal between the Wolverhampton and Walsall areas.

Among the more interesting ‘finds’ on the BCN Cleanup was an electric typewriter to help the editor get ‘Navvies’ out on time. (Ed Walker)

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Aston Loc Lockks ar aree open and MKP’ pp MKP’ss ha happ ppyy....

Chairman’s Comment You will not be surprised to hear I’m finding this Chairman’s comment rather difficult to write. But not for any of the usual reasons of incompetence or bad news it is just that I am so very, very happy I’m having a problem with words to sum it all up. However for those that will see me today I believe my smile will say it all. BECAUSE ASTON LOCKS ARE OPEN!!!!! Yes, indeed, and it was a proper opening as well, with a jazz band, long speeches, suits, marquees, BW blokes in smart new overalls, fresh paint, bright sunshine, blue skies, inedible food on the VIP boat, Harry Arnold AND Hugh Potter, a real VIP cutting a proper ribbon, telly coverage and (later on) a lot of beer.

Yet no one took a blind bit of notice of any of it because they had come to see the real stars - the locks themselves and a canal with boats on - lots of boats in fact. Perhaps there is a lesson for some people here. Yes, you can use canals to create jobs, educate, promote bio-diversity, regenerate the local economy, etc. but if you are going to try and do that without putting boats on it then you really are going to need something very clever up your sleeve. So that’s that then, hopefully this will give a kickstart to finding some more funding for the Monty. After all 52% is completed now so let’s hope that the next opening is the big one. And there is much more for me to be smiley about - we’ve just had a very successful BCN Clean Up. As I write this 15 volunteers are on a training course at Hatton. The Right Tool for the Right Job appeal is going well with over £15,000 raised so far. Droitwich has got some really big money, the WRG regional groups are putting out impressive sized numbers and we appear to be all prepared for a great summer of Canal Camps. It all seems to be rather rosy. A lot of this is down to our usual mix of good luck and hard work (together with occasional bursts of preparation and flexibility).

“The real stars: the locks themselves and a canal with boats on...” (Martin Ludgate)

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But I also have to admit that we would not be in this admirable situation without help from our partners; if the Inland Waterways Association and The Waterways Trust weren’t so generous with their training funds, British Waterways didn’t lend us their kit and all those local societies we work with were not putting in so much preparation then we would be in a very different state. So partnerships are a good thing? Well certainly that was the theme of the Aston opening speeches and I have to agree: as I said in my speech, WRG is the ultimate organisation of partners - all of us are working together for something we believe in. BUT there is a trap in thinking that all is well if everyone is working together. Just because we are all partners doesn’t mean that we actually have the same aims (and certainly don’t have the same route to get there). Too often partnerships are used not only to demonstrate mass agreement but to conceal the small disagreements within the partnership. Too often these days I hear that we have “understandings” with others and so we “mustn’t rock the boats, the pros will outweigh the cons, we must have a bit of give and take, and anyway we are all on the same side aren’t we?” Indeed I have used all those clichés myself on occasions but they are not absolutes.


Ar tner ships a ggood ood Aree par partner tnerships thing?

Because the trouble with conceding a few little points “for the overall good” is that they may be the very details that make our waterways special. Yes partnership does bring wonders but if it takes away your ability to speak up for your objectives then it is too great a price to pay. There were many references to “an impossible dream” at the Aston opening, well perhaps better to have an impossible dream than to wake up in the middle of a nightmare restoration. So despite my unreserved pleasure at seeing another bit of the Monty open and my fervent belief that the Montgomery Partnership is a excellent arrangement and represents a real chance for the Montgomery Canal to be fully restored, I’m afraid I will be having a go at BW to complain about those bloody awful mooring rings on the pound below Aston. Mike Palmer

Dogs and WRG/waterway restoration

(3) Are there hygiene implications? I’ve yet to Just lately, everyone seems to have a dog and see a dog that really understood it wasn’t allowed in the kitchen, and certainly very few realise they many have brought them on WRG events. are to stay on their bed. This has resulted in us having problems with accommodation, problems on site and problems (4) Are there medical implications? Recently we have had volunteers leave and go home bewith volunteers. cause they could not share a room with a dog. Dogs on site are no different to any other thing on site. If they make it unsafe then they should I am well aware that this is an emotive subject, not be allowed. If your dog is causing problems that nobody believes their dog is a problem and then the site leader is entitled to tell you to leave, that dogs bring a lot of fun. But I have to say I do if you are concerned about a dog on site then get complaints about them all the time. And if it complain to the site leader and if he refuses to affects both site safety and people’s ability to do anything then simply complain further up the make a contribution then I have to step in. management. So for WRG “central” events such as Canal As with anything on site - if you do not think it is Camps or centrally booked weekends you must safe then stop work. I cannot imagine a risk inform the leader if you intend to bring a dog (or assessment that actually allows dogs to be free for that matter an alligator etc.) and you have to roaming on site and certainly our insurers and accept that the leader may say no (and that the leader may not be able to say anything until he/ HSE will not approve. she has checked with all the other volunteers). Dogs in the accommodation pose several There are many ways round this: often dogs stay problems: in cars or separate rooms; some Canal Camp (1) Are they actually allowed in the accom- leaders and regional groups will always be happy modation anyway? Many accommodations are to take dogs. But I have been asked to do somenot happy with them and some do specifically thing and this seems the fairest and safest way. exclude them. If in doubt please check when you book. (2) Is there actually the space?

Mike Palmer

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Appeal news The Right Tool for the Right Job!

Appeal Update

3 Various generous individuals and WRG branches and regions should be mentioned, but can’t be because I’m writing this in West Felton the morning after the Aston Locks reopening, and so can’t remember them all, so will simply say that you know who you are, and THANKS.

3 Speaking of Aston Locks – as I write we are preparing for the Race Night, which should be excellent, and if you weren’t there, there should be a full report of the whole weekend next time.

It’s all going terribly well! Why does this make me worry we’ve forgotten something? So here is a quick update, and check list for me!

3 Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice is in a cou-

3 Currently we are well over the £10,000 mark,

3 The Murder Mystery Cruise has been booked

which is an excellent start.

3 The leaflet looks fab, huge thanks to Mole and Martin for design work and spelling correction – the final draft apparently had Head Office in a Baltic state of Rijmansworth (sic). We have quite a lot of them in Jude’s front room, so if you can put some somewhere – work, pub, your boat, local shops, etc, let us know.

3 The first WRG event – the Curryathon and Quiz night was much enjoyed by those who were there. The quiz was won by “we’re not BITM” – or (should that be was Not won by BITM?)

ple of weeks – London WRG is organising a silly stall for fundraising; please pop in and support them. for Saturday 2nd August, and will be a lunch time cruise from Bath, with a posh buffet lunch, wine and entertainment all provided – just bring your deestalkers and magnifying glasses.

3 The Quiz is now on-line, and there will be new questions each month: it is free to enter (although you can send a donation if you wish) and there is a £25 prize each month, and a star prize at the final at the National. Go on, have a go! See the WRG web site (you can ask Head office for a copy if you’re not on the net)

3 Saturday night at the IWA National Waterways Festival (in Beale Park near Reading over the August Bank Holiday) will see the return of the WRG pantomime!! We haven’t written it yet… but if you want to add your creative input, myself, your editor will be having an informal “brain storm” over a beer or 6 at the training weekend.

3 Also at the ‘National’, we may well be trying to raise some money on a catering stall – details a little hazy, watch this space.

3 There are still a few days left in the year with nothing organised, so please tell me all your good ideas, or better still, organise it and send us the money!! Well, that’s every thing I can think of for the moment, hope you’re all having fun, and I’ll see you all soon. Love ‘n’ hugs

The Appeal is officialy launched at the NEC Boat Show (Harry Arnold)

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Dr Liz Williamson

WRG Training weekend 2003: May 10th-11th This year’s training weekend will be held at the British Waterways heritage skills training centre at Hatton Locks again over the weekend of May 10th-11th. This is a very civilised place to hold such a weekend as we are kindly allowed the use of BW’s meeting rooms and facilities. Training will be available on the usual plant and transport such as vans, trailers, dumpers, excavators and also tractors, which we will be using again at the National Waterways Festival. There will also be short courses in bricklaying, heritage pointing, first aid and Safety regulations amongst others.


Book now ffor or the WR G WRG Training W eek end Week eekend

The weekend is dedicated primarily to training, so there is no official ‘work’ on site other than mending the plant that we have broken! However we do try to keep you as busy as you want to be and help is always welcomed back at the accommodation. It is also a chance to meet other volunteers and often some of the leaders from camps you plan to do or have done! Go on! The WRG training weekend takes place at BW Hatton, venue for a You know it makes sense! recent series of training courses run jointly by WRG, BW and The Waterways Trust, includiung heritage brickwork repair and pointing If you are interested in joining (above) and excavator operation. (below) Photos by Alan Lines us for the whole weekend or just one day, simply request a booking form and return it as soon as possible. Cost of the weekend covers food only and is likely to be £10 for the weekend or £5 per day. For a form or more information, please contact me Ali Bottomley, 53 Redgrave Close, St James Village, Gateshead, NE8 3JD or ring me on 0191 422 5469. Alternatively, risk sending an email but remember that I am a teacher and I’m always on holiday (so they reckon!) Email address: Hope to see you there. Ali ‘Womble’ Bottomley

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Camp report Last eevver camp on the Mont (f or a while oba bly) (for while,, pr proba obab

Camp 0301: Montgomery Canal Oh poo! It’s Saturday, press date is Monday, I managed to escape being locked in ‘Fulbourne’ until I had written this, and Camp One this year on the Mont was weeks ago!! So how did the ‘last ever’ camp on the Mont go? No, really it was the last one, well on this section at least and maybe apart from a few weekends to finish up the spill weir... Although to be honest, with every good project where you take something apart, you are always supposed to have a few stones left over aren’t you….? Although the camp proper didn’t start until Saturday, some of us eager bunnies arrived Friday night to have a ganders at the facelift in ‘The Punchbowl.’ Two fundamental changes – they moved the door – not much, just enough to confuse and cause embarrassment after one or two beers. Secondly, installation of wide-screen t.v. over our favourite corner of the bar nearly caused a set-to with the locals. (Oh, apparently the chalkboard in the gents has gone now too). Anyway, Chris (bless him!) did a valiant attempt to redecorate the corridor later on in the week but probably the less said the better! (Note to the Chairman: Don’t forget to get your suit dry-cleaned!). Saturday was a mixture of going on site to get things off and rolling for the start of the camp, checking off kit & welcoming the rest of the campers. Sunday started bright and early (sorry guys – was going through a bit of an insomniac stage!) and everyone was on site for 9 o’clock for the start of an eventful day, if not week. Firstly we broke Emily, a D of E’er. This involved a lengthy trip to casualty (thanks for doing that, Bush!). Fortunately they didn’t miss much as at 10.30, everyone else came off site too. A record surely – 1½ hours on site? What happened? Well a first basically. There was everyone, digging out the shale to get to the solid part of the bank at the bottom of the spillway. That was the job for the week – finish dismantling and rebuilding the last section of the Maesbury overflow spillway ready for the Aston Locks to Maesbury opening.

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So digging away the shale, digging away the shale, digging… “err, look”, said Lou and AJ, “there doesn’t appear to be any real bank between us and the canal anymore…er guys, STOP DIGGING!!” The BWB emergency hotline was hence contacted – a first for us – a dubious pleasure! “There is a very real possibility of us being in an emergency breach situation” said AJ to the help line. When they eventually came to look at the big ‘ole, in the ground the reaction ranged from “not so bad” to “oh fook..!!” So Sunday, for the rest of us, was essentially a write-off workwise – waiting for BW to peer in holes that shouldn’t be there. A games session, a picnic & an early cinema trip ensued. Strange, coming out of the cinema and it’s still light & the pub is still open! The rest of the week was spent, tidying the green / blue / Howard’s shed, watching as the concrete truck tried to make it across the field and failed, resulting in our acquaintance with the farmer and his farmhand ‘Op’ and a big tractor (It was a Massey Ferguson, for you spotters!), getting the last concrete pour down & level, filling in the big ‘potential breach’ hole, rebuilding the majority of the last section of wall, a chip shop tea, lots of silly games and guest leaders in the form of Lou, AJ and MKP. Some more key moments included a severe bout of skivitis, MKP going to be appalling at the Boat Show complete with mattock (on the one day that it was required on site!) & spade and not managing to kneecap many punters on the train, Bobby and his en-suite bathroom facility, Steve the drunk scaring Graham with his talk of chickens, and Mike stating that Roger Burchett was socially desirable. A big thank you to everyone who turned up at various stages throughout the week and did so much hard work to get everything straight for the opening. To the girls & guys – get your A levels done so you can come back soon!

The author looking for inspiViv West ration for her Camp Report.

Above left: the old stonework is taken down to reveal a heap of shale behind it rather than the expected solid clay bank. While we wait for BW to look at it, the WRG work-boat is moored against the canal bank just in case. (“Once moor unto the breach”, as Shakespeare might have said!) Left: once BW have declared it safe to work, the concrete base for the spillway is laid. Below left: The walls are rebuilt using the original stone. Above: the section of wall in front of the suspect bit of bank is back-filled with reinforced concrete for extra strength. Below: the spillway complete, with water flowing down it at the endof the camp. Photos by whichever of MKP and the Editor had his hands on the digital camera at the time! By the time you read is there will be more pictures of the camp on the WRG website; see also volunteer Chris Tarry’s own website for more photos.

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BCN Cleanup Clearing rrub ub bish out of the caubbish nals under Spa ghetti Junction Spaghetti

BCN Cleanup 22nd – 23rd March 2003 The weekend of 22-23 March saw the annual BCN Cleanup come round again, this year ably organised by Aileen Butler. The weekend saw us tackling the canals below Spaghetti Junction with the usual determination and laughter. Many of us arrived in minibuses NJF and GCW as we had travelled together(ish) from Waterloo. Post the scramble to claim some floor space, there was the usual opportunity to catch up with many people I haven’t seen in months, or at least 3 weeks! Saturday morning and the call for breakfast came far too soon. But we were soon all up and on the buses (or in my case rushing round getting people onto buses).

Cuckoo Wharf provided the signing on point for the weekend, allowing us all to claim the fabulous waterproof gloves (shame they don’t make all-inone suits in the same stuff as my hands ended up being the only clean part of me!), and select your tool of choice (Keb or Grappling Hook). Many thanks to BW for providing many of these. The site had been divided into two areas left in the capable hands of Ed Walker and Matt Taylor. A short minibus hop and walk along the towpath later it was time to get started. The ‘hauls’ were as plentiful as the sunshine with c o p i o u s amounts of scaf- “My hands ended up being the folding being only clean part of me...” (Ed pulled out, not to Walker) mention the usual selection of traffic cones, signs, and bikes.

One of a number of motorcycles of various sizes found in the canal. (David Bradford)

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BCN Cleanup ...a ne w type writer ffor or our ilnew typewriter lustrious editor ... editor...

As the afternoon progressed the two teams worked towards each other meeting at the junction and then clearing the arm down towards the lunch site. More scaffolding etc etc was pulled out not to mention a new typewriter for our illustrious editor!

Some fencing for the National Waterways Festival? (Martin Ludgate) There was even a suggestion to start the fencing for the National Waterways Festival early as we pulled out several fence panels and fencing blocks!! There was hope of an extremely big haul as about 25 of us with several grappling hooks were all heaving hard to drag out the same item. Eventually it gave way for us to discover that it was only a large loop of metal tubing! Lunch time, washed hands and sitting in the glorious sunshine came and went all too fast for most of us and it was back to work. Rather unsurprisingly there was a slight lack of enthusiasm to work under a huge flyover purely due to fact it was dark and cold.

Moose, Maria, Brian, Richard Cool and I made the mistake of volunteering to pull the barge round one corner so it could be filled up with the rubbish. This ‘one corner’ turned in to going up and down the arm twice. As expected many jokes about horses and these new fangled things called engines never catching on were proffered. However the pain was soon replaced by laughter whilst watching Moose float the barge across to the far side and attempt to attach it to the railings. Unlike in all the Bond style movies apparently grappling hooks don’t attach themselves to railings as easily as portrayed!! Back at the accommodation and several gallons of shower gel later the relatively clean and shiny navvies tucked into the barrels of beer and the ‘curryathon’ to raise funds for the appeal. Entertainment for the evening was provided by a quiz, with questions ranging from the serious to the silly. Thanks to the question providers not to mention all the chefs for the fab food.

Tug ‘Bittel’ collects another workboat-load of rubbish to take away to the skips. (David Bradford)

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BCN Cleanup “...and a plank w wee think came fr om the bottom of a boa t...” from boat...”

Sunday morning unfortunately had to be an early start as we had to clear the hall by about 9am. Several people were threatened by a raw egg in the sleeping bag for failing to move. But in usual practised style, despite some sore heads, everything was cleared in time. After ensuring everyone else had left for site, the remaining 5 of us set off in RFB and had to resort to the consensus method of navigation due to the lack of map: following a minor miracle we arrived without incident and were soon back on the towpath. A group of us tackled an area which we decided has the best type of scaffolding (it had extra loops welded on the outside, perfect for catching the grappling hook in, no longer does it roll off!!!) Some impressive hauls were had with several of us pulling out multiple individual scaffolding poles in one pull, and also a plank which we think came from the bottom of a narrow boat as it seemed to be more than long enough.

Lunch was well received yet again, however a well timed press photographer’s arrival meant it was slightly shorter for a few of us. The last few hours on site saw one last big haul under a bridge with bikes, signs, a car door and a mini trolley being extracted. Sadly it was then time to finish up. As the weary WRGies were taken back to the accommodation several of us helped to pack up site and return all of the borrowed kit to BW. Many thanks go to them for the constant supply of boats to take away the ever growing piles of rubbish we were accumulating on the towpaths. That brings us to the end of the weekend, many of us were extremely grateful to be allowed showers before travelling home especially those on public transport! (or should that be the people next to them on public transport!). Thank you to all for a brilliant weekend, to all those I have mentioned above, anyone I have forgotten and to all for the laughter which always makes the weekends. Until next time….. Sal Nutt

“One day, some clever bugger’s going to invent engines...” (Martin Ludgate)

“You can’t leave that car there - it’s illegally parked!” (Martin Ludgate)

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“It’s getting a bit warm - I think I’ll wind the window down...” (Martin Ludgate)

It took all these people to pull out what we thought would be the biggest ‘find’ of the whole weekend and in the end it turned out to be only a loop of metal tubing. (Martin Ludgate) And from the WRG organiser of the event... A BIG thank you from me to everyone who came on the weekend for all your hard work. BW were really pleased with the result - a magnificent 80 tonnes or 10 x 40 cubic yard ro-ro skips (3 more than last year). They were also impressed with the way you got stuck in (it was the black slime that held you!) and kept at it (don't you always?)

New barrow for Kit ‘A’? (Martin Ludgate)

My thanks too to: Martin, Ed and Matt for help with forms, notices, printing, copying and publicity before the event 'Zone' leaders Ed and Matt site van drivers Mark II, Vulcan Dave and MKP NW for their van (and them) Jude, Eli and Tess for the wonderful catering, especially the curry Spence for bringing the beer Martin, Dr Liz and MKP for the quiz Sal for the promised camp report All who gave tips and advice to this novice camp and event leader All who did what I asked

. . . . . . .

. . .

And thank you God for the great weather! Hugs, Aileen Butler

And thank you to Aileen for doing an excellent job of organising the event, and also to the other organisations besides WRG - IWA, BCNS and “We’ve made a start towards getting our next WRG Transit BW - whose assistance, advice, facilities and Van - we’ve found the front 18 inches of it....” (Martin Ludgate) equipment helped make it such a success. ...Ed

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Firirst st major w or k-par ty on a ne w wor ork-par k-party new sc heme to rrestor estor omf or d scheme estoree the Cr Cromf omfor ord

A trip back in time to Ironville… There are few things which will have me leaping out of bed at 6.30am on a Saturday morning but the possibility that last night’s blizzards might still be raging is one of them. Especially if it means that I’d have an excuse to cancel all plans to go digging, turn my alarm off and go back to bed until a more sociable hour when I could get up and go sledging. Luck wasn’t with me, however, (my sympathies to those who were caught on the M11 and surrounding area, but I haven’t been sledging yet this winter…) and I resigned myself to a weekend of getting freezing cold somewhere in the back-ofbeyond fixing a bit of canal.

As it turns out, I was right in one part – Ironville could easily be described as the back-of-beyond – but there was plenty of work to keep us warm and as ever the locals were very hospitable and I came home with enough bramble inflicted scars to feel as though I had done something useful. Ironville is on the Cromford canal in Derbyshire on the stretch leading down to the restored Langley Mill basin. This stretch of canal runs through the centre of Ironville village and in parts actually looks like a canal. The plan for the weekend was to give the locals a kick start in their renewed efforts at restoration. Firstly this involved relieving the canal bed of 20ish years of fly-tipping which nicely overfilled 4 skips during Saturday alone. The local group were out in force with about 40 people signing in each day. The locals were surprised to find three girlies as part of the work group – the sight of me, Jen and Sue Johnson hauling armchairs up the side of the lock on the end of a grappling hook, launching tyres up the bank and hauling motorbikes out of the cut appeared too much for those who had never experienced work happening without the direct supervision of a competent fella. As a consequence, I fear that we may feature heavily on the local website and the front cover of their next mag, as the appointed photographer for the weekend kept demanding that we pose at the most delicate of moments. All this did mean, though, that we were constantly on the run from people coming to “give the girls a hand”. We did, however, get some unexpected assistance from the local kids, who we had, perhaps uncharitably, presumed contributed to the rubbish that we were now hauling out of the canal.

This was probably the biggest en masse influx of people to the area since the last restoration attempt 25 years ago and the kids were really interested in what we were doing, even if they did struggle with the concept that we wouldn’t be filling the canal overnight and be taking them boating by Sunday. Bit of a dilemma this one – we can’t have under 16s working on site but by letting them help, we would be helping the cause by getting them interested and enthusiastic about having a working caAnother barrowload of rubbish from the Cromford Canal. (Corinne Watson) nal running through their village.

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Every time we turned around we had another offer to run barrows for us or to spread wood chippings along the towpath. Then to cap it all, East Midlands Today turned up on site to do a news item on the work. I didn’t catch the report but I hope many of the locals did as the benefit to the area of this canal being successfully restored will be huge – and not just to the catering van that kept us all warm and well fed for the weekend! Corinne Watson

Top: three skips full of rubbish from the canal (and a WRG van - can you tell which is which?) Above: view of the site, with one of the Ironville locks in the background. Photos by Corinne Watson


The Cromford Canal page 15


The star startt of wor orkk on another ne w rrestor estor oject... new estoraation pr project...

On the Sunday (to WRG North West’s delight) we were allowed to have a bonfire which disposed of a lot of the smaller stuff at the opposite end of the basin to where the chipper was located. We also built several habitat piles for the local wildlife. The BW Waterway Engineer was very impressed (having had no previous experience of working with WRG) with the amount of work achieved over the three days and the professional way in which everybody worked.

Uttoxeter Canal at Froghall History was made recently with the start of restoration of the first lock and basin of the Uttoxeter Canal at Froghall. WRG Forestry spent Friday 7th February taking out some large trees in preparation for a WRG North West weekend over the 8th and 9th February. WRG Forestry also had their work cut out over the weekend, despite BW not having obtained the felling licence in time which meant that only 5 cubic metres of large trees could be felled. However, there were several large trees that had fallen during the storms last October, and others that had fallen longer ago. The disposal of the material from all these trees, as well as taking out smaller trees and the tirforing of a couple of fallen trees actually in the basin (which is still in water) kept the 14 WRG North West volunteers occupied all weekend. There were also 9 local volunteers from the Caldon Canal Society and the IWA Stoke-on-Trent Branch (although some of us came into all three categories of volunteer and various sweatshirts/teeshirts were swapped when the local press came to photograph the event, so that all the groups were represented!). The material was dealt with in a variety of ways. WRG Forestry were in charge of a chipping machine which produced copious quantities of chippings (taken away by gardeners and a grateful local stable owner to put on the mud in her horses’ field). Large quantities of big logs were stacked, to be taken away in various trailers and delivered to local residents for firewood.

Left: the basin below the lock is to be restored as moorings. (Alison Smedley) Top: the lock chamber after removal of trees growing out of it during the WRG NorthWest weekend. (Alison Smedley). Above: WRG Forestry Team returned a few weeks later to deal with some of the larger trees. (Julie Arnold)

page 16

WRG Forestry hope to return in the near future - once the felling licence has been obtained - to take out the rest of the trees, so hopefully by the time you read this a second weekend will have taken place. British Waterways have now completed work to the Caldon Canal in this area and boats will now be able to reach Froghall Wharf to see the work that has been done clearing the lock and basin. The water level in this pound has now been lowered by 6 inches so that most boats should now be able to fit through Froghall Tunnel.

BW have now fitted stop plank grooves so that restoration of the lock can proceed without having to de-water the pound. At present the towpath goes across the filled-in lock chamber and so one of the next jobs is for a footbridge to be built over the tail of the lock to take the footpath, so that restoration of the lock chamber can begin. It is hoped that the footbridge and/or the lock will form the basis of the work for the 9th to 16th August Canal Camp. Alison Smedley

The Caldon Canal and the Uttoxeter Canal

Rudyard reservoir

The Caldon Canal is a branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal running from the main line in Stoke to Froghall with a branch to Leek. Part of it fell derelict in the 1960s but was restored and reopened in 1974.

Feeder (not navigable)

LEEK Leek Branch (last half-mile into Leek closed) Railway

Caldon Canal



Froghall: current terminus of Caldon Canal


Trent & Mersey Railway Canal main line


Current terminus

Uttoxeter Canal

Top lock and basin under restoration Disused canal and locks

The Froghall restoration project is restoring the first lock and basin of the Uttoxeter Canal, initially to provide more mooring space for boats visiting Froghall, but hopefully also as the first stage of restoration to Uttoxeter, assuming a way can be found to reinstate the canal alongside the steam railway.

The Uttoxeter Canal was an extension of the Caldon from Froghall to Uttoxeter. It was closed and parts of its bed were used for the construction of the southern part of the LeekUttoxeter railway line; this is now closed but part has since been reopened as the Churnet Valley steam railway. UTTOXETER

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Canal Camps cost £35 per week unless otherwise Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified camp number e.g. 'Camp 0303') should go to WRG Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email:

Diary Apr 27 Sun


Bugsworth Basin

Apr 27 Sun


North Walsham & Dilham Canal

May 1 Thu


Press date for issue 199

May 2-5


Little Venice: Canalway Cavalcade site services support.

May 3/4/5


Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep: Sidney Wood

May 3/4/5


Mon & Brec Canal

May 3/4/5

Essex WRG

To be arranged

May 3/4/5


Little Venice: Sales Stand only

May 3/4/5

London WRG

Little Venice: Running tombola game and ‘The Right Tool For the Right Job’ app and entering decorated boat in pageant

May 4 Sun


Bugsworth Basin

May 10 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

May 10-11

WRG Train

WRG Training Weekend: at BW Heritage Skills centre, Hatton

May 17/18

London WRG

Basingstoke Canal: Dig Deep backpumping project at St Johns

May 17/18


Rickmansworth Canal Festival: Site Services, plus Sales Stand

May 17 Sat


Leader Training Day: For old & new leaders alike, and not just for this year’s lea

May 18 Sun


Bugsworth Basin

May 18 Sun


Committee & Board Meetings: afternoon, plus Canal Camps Leaders meeting i

May 24/25/26 wrgBITM

Wendover Arm Festival: Site Services, plus Sales Stand. Note that show is open to p

May 25 Sun

North Walsham & Dilham Canal


May 31/Jun 1 KESCRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Towpath works near Stepping Stone Bridge

Jun 1 Sun


Bugsworth Basin

Jun 7/8


To be arranged

Jun 7/8

Essex WRG

To be arranged

Jun 7/8

London WRG

Grand Western Canal: starting rebuilding work on stop-lock in Jay’s Cutting

Jun 12 Thu


Issue 199 Assembly: or Jun 17, at London Canal Museum 7pm

Jun 14/15


Thames & Severn Canal: Stroud

Jun 15 Sun


Bugsworth Basin

Jun 21/22


Sleaford Navigation

Jun 21 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jun 28-Jul 5

Camp 0303

Sleaford Canal Camp: Sleaford Navigation

Jun 29 Sun


North Walsham & Dilham Canal

Jul 1 Tue


Press date for issue 200: including Canal Societies directory

Jul 2-9

Camp 0304

Saul Boat Gathering: Site Services for the Canal Festival. Leaders: Nick Coolic

Jul 5/6


Wey & Arun Canal: Sidney Wood, continuing construction of new spill weir, raising dropped sections of bank etc in preparation for NWPG camp.

Jul 5/6


To be arranged

page 18

e stated. d 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:


peal stand,

Ian Edgar


Kevin Baker


Martin Ludgate




Graham Hawkes


David McCarthy


John Gale


Dave Wedd


Tim Lewis


Ian Edgar


David McCarthy


Ali Bottomley

0191 422 5469

Tim Lewis


Dave Wedd


Ian Edgar



n morning. Hatton.

ublic on Sun/Mon only. Dave Wedd


Kevin Baker




Ian Edgar


David McCarthy


John Gale


Tim Lewis


John Hawkins


Graham Hawkes


Ian Edgar


Dave Wedd


David McCarthy


Kevin Baker


Martin Ludgate


can-Smith and Ian Wingfield



David McCarthy


page 19


Canal society rreegular wor ties orkking par parties

Mobile groups' social evenings (please phone to confirm before turning up) London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before each dig. 'Jugged Hare', Vauxhall Bridge Rd, London, Tim Lewis 020-8367 6227 or e-mail

NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586 Regular monthly or weekly working parties: 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 01246-620695 Mon & Wed mornings CCT Cotswolds Dudley Greenslade 01453 825515 Every weekend (Sat OR Sun) CCT Cotswolds Neil Ritchie 01452-854057 1st Sunday of month CCT Cotswolds: summit Mark Welton 01453-872405 Wednesday evenings CCT Cotswolds: East end Keith Harding 01451-860181 Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe 0121-608 0296 Last Sunday of month EAWA N Walsham & Dilham Kevin Baker 01362-699855 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Langley Mill Michael Golds 0115-932-8042 Second Sun of month FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech 0116-279-2657 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 Over wharf house fitout Nigel Bailey 01452-533835 Occasional Sundays H&GCT Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 01663-732493 1st Saturday & 3rd Wed. IWA Ipswich Stowmarket Navigtn. Colin Turner 01473-730586 01691-670826/49 2nd weekend of month IWA SBC Maesbury, Mont. Barry Tuffin 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 Last Sunday of month SNT Haverholme Lock Dave Pullen 01673-862278 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 WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal 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)


page 20

Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane 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 Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Newbury Working Party Group Pocklington Canal Amenity Society Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Surrey & Hants Canal Society Sleaford Navigation Trust Thames & Medway Canal Association Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Company Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust

Dear Martin We would like to thank Mike Woodhead and the ‘team’ at Hatton for the courses that we attended over a very interesting weekend, gaining further knowledge and practical advice on our chosen subjects. There is a lot to be gained from attending for a weekend, or just one day for certain courses. Once again, thanks Mike W. John and Tess Hawkins


Is the IWA an ‘authority ‘authority’’ on canal rrestor estor estoraation?

Dear Martin, I appear to have inadvertently upset two organisations that I revere and empathise with (see Letters, Navvies 197). If it were not for the one, there would now be no Caldon Canal for us to enjoy; if it were not for the other (in conjunction with the BCNS) we would have lost large parts of the BCN. I meant no criticism or disrespect to these organisations in my previous letter (Navvies 195); my comments were made slightly tongue-in-cheek “pour encourager les autres”. I am very pleased that the CCS has adopted the Uttoxeter Canal and hope that my previous enquiries at least helped. I look forward to any future developments on this, the Leek Arm and the proposed connection to the Macclesfield Canal with interest. Good luck with their endeavours. I feel that it is important to have an interchange of ideas in a forum such as this - someone may actually come up with an idea that has been overlooked - and we currently have a Government with which, whether you agree with their politics or not, we seem to be able to make significant headway on the waterway front. A number of ‘impossible pipedreams’ are now reality, the Ribble Link to name one. Let us maintain this impetus as it is so easy to become complacent. As regards the Bradley Locks Branch, if this would be relatively easy to restore, as suggested, I feel we should be making moves towards doing so - I don’t believe it would detract too much from other schemes in the vicinity and may actually enhance them; regrettably I am in the wrong geographical location to actively pursue this myself, but perhaps there is someone more local who is better suited to get the ball rolling. I do know, from Peter Hardcastle’s excellent Roots & Routes Website (why has he retired it?) that Locks 9 and 8 were said to be in poor condition when last seen, but this is comparative small fry to the likes of the current WRG expertise. I think that Vaughan’s penultimate paragraph is also very significant. I am also fascinated by the prospect of a Leominster Canal Society and by Mike Handford’s proposals to link it to other waterways in the vicinity - more details please! Regards, Brian Andrews PS Your story about abbreviations on the back page of Navvies 197 (Rubbish!) reminds me of when I was asked how the Inland Waterways Authority became a charity! Dear Martin, In response to the letter by Vaughan Welch, (Navvies 197), first of all my “Bursting into print” was to try and answer the original questions on the “Bradley Locks Arm” (I have steered boats and crewed boats along the section up to the Bradley Yard, to deliver the boats to the yard itself. I have also blacked a hull in the dry dock in the Bradley Yard for BW, so yes I am familiar with the canal around that area), without waiting for two further isses of Navvies, before Mr Welch responded. I contacted the appropriate authority on the issue i.e. the Canal Owner - BW. My own experiences of being a member of the IWA in the past means that they would be the last place that I would go to enquire about canal restoration. (I had to defend the work that WRG do, to IWA members at both Wootton Bassett and Huddersfield last year!) No, I have not walked the entire length of the disused and filled-in section, due to a lack of reasonable public transport and the fact that I have Osteo-Arthritis, Arthritis in my spine (Which is causing a slow paralysis from the neck down), and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (But this will not stop me doing what I can to physically help to restore canals - as readers of “Dragonfly” (Wilts & Berks Canal Trust mag), will already know). The minor obstructions include one factory unit and associated grounds, which also stop access to the canal line (At Bradley). BW at Ocker Hill didn’t mention anything about consultations with IWA.

page 21

Well, as for L&H canals, not wishing to seem to belittle anyone, or to put myself above others (I apologise in advance if this comes over like that!), but I think that I may know a few things that other grass roots members of the Trust don’t get to hear about. I have been an active member of the Trust for a few years, and I do what I can to help. Due to putting a lot of effort into trying to save the Canal Museum at Birchills in Walsall, I have NO intention to form up a group to save the “Bradley Locks” branch of the Wednesbury Oak Loop. I did state this in my orginal letter. These will be my only comments on the matter - unless provoked otherwise. I do not wish to have a long and protracted debate on the subject. I try in my own way to help people; I am not to blame if others misunderstand my intentions. Regards, Ken Whapples

I don’t think anyone wants a protracted debate on the subject of setting up a group to restore Bradley Locks - I think everyone wants the canal to be preserved and restored, and would like to see a group set up to do that. Unfortunately we don’t yet have a volunteer offering to set one up, or an existing group offering to take on the job. Elsewhere a few very promising new restoration schemes have been started recently either by new groups with expertise from other restoration societies (eg Cromford) or existing groups taking on new restoration schemes (eg Uttoxeter): let’s hope this one doesn’t founder for lack of someone to start a group to support it. (let’s hope it doesn’t founder The Bradley Locks Branch passes under the Midland for lack of a founder, so to speak... sorry!) Metro tramway. (Martin Ludgate) As regards the IWA and restorarion knowledge, I’m sorry that Ken’s experience of this has not been good. The IWA does have expertise in restoration both nationally (most IWA council members seem to be involved in restoration projects) and locally, at least in the branches I know that have active restoration schemes on their ‘patch’. But I’m not familiar with all the branches - maybe I’ve just been lucky! And I promise I’ll look out Mike Handford’s madcap scheme (But remember, all restorations start off as madcap schemes!) for the Border Counties Network in time for the next issue. ...the Editor Dear Martin We were dead ‘chuffed’ to see the new Lichfield Canal aqueduct (well the centre columns anyway) on the front of Navvies. Thank you to all Wrgies for all your support and help: we are very grateful. The order for the manufacture of the superstructure (the steel trough) was placed just a few days ago to Rowecord Engineering Ltd. It is anticipated that it will be installed in July/August before the M6 Toll motorway is opened later in the year. The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust still has to raise up to £50,000 but hopefully this will come in before the “great erection”!! (Oops-sorry!) Jan & John Horton, L&HCRT Dear Martin Like every other reader of Navvies I support the WRG appeal and wish it every success. However, I cannot believe that I am the only one who finds it rather sad that so many people have got to give so much of their time and energy to raising this amount which, according to my calculations, is one and a half days interest on the amount that is sitting idle in the Heritage Lottery Fund!! Best wishes, Pat Johnson

Yes - it is frustrating. But see page 3 for news of a big HLF grant to the Droitwich Canals - and it’s likely to involve lots of volunteer work as ‘match funding’ so we’ll need those ‘Right Tools’ for that ‘Right Job’ soon! ...Ed

page 22

Restoring a Jones KL15 Crane Part 3: “The engine runs, so we take it out....” Well - thanks to the help of a number of people I now know for certain that the Jones was on the Huddersfield. I even have a picture of John Palmer loading it on a plant truck there and he was someone who insists it didn’t come from there! I now have a fair few pictures of KL15’s in use but there is always space for more! Thanks to all those who have sent me pictures and stories. Things have progressed since the last article: to do the work necessary we needed to remove the engine. Before doing this we decided to see how well it ran as it would be easier to work on out of the crane than in it. Before we could start it we needed to remove the accumulation of sludge from the fuel system, Pete cleaned the fuel tank out and discovered that the only reason there was still fuel in it was that the thick layer of sludge in the bottom was stopping it running out of the bottom of the tank where it had rusted through! We then discovered that the fuel filter bowl was an oddity and that the standard PH1 filter did not fit... So we spent some money and bought a fuel tank and normal fuel filter bowl. Using a temporary rig involving cable ties to hold the fuel tank we reprimed the diesel system and gradually wound the engine up to speed on the handle. Pete dropped the decompressor lever and I kept winding, and winding, and winding. It wouldn’t start. Then we changed the pin round in the handle to wind it in the right direction and it fired up first swing... Doh! The engine appeared to be in first class running order so we won’t be pulling it apart: in fact it ran better than most PH’s that I have come across that have been rebuilt!


“...and I kept winding and winding ... it w ouldn’ t.” winding... wouldn’ ouldn’tt star start.”

The next job was to remove the accumulation of grease and grime. The entire inside was caked with a thick layer and the one thing you could not accuse the previous users of was neglecting to lubricate it! For this we decided that the best approach would be to steam clean it using the steam cleaner from my dad’s workshop, so I loaded it into the trailer behind “Helgar” the LandRover and drove down to Bath. Guest mechanic for this visit was Spencer Collins and by the time I arrived he and Pete had the engine unbolted and were ready to slide it out. We rigged the steam cleaner, waited for the water tank to fill and then pulled the trigger. Instead of the usual grunt from the cleaner and a powerful jet of water from the hose the was the merest dribble from the nozzle and not a lot else. Half an hour later we had de-frosted the hose and cleared the blockage from the nozzle. This gave us a good powerful jet of cold water.... but no steam. Following some running repairs (which involved a blowtorch to dry out the burner injector) we finally coaxed the reluctant system into life and started the cleaning process. At this point Spencer had to go and cut down some trees on the Somerset and Dorset Canal and Alan Henman arrived to play with the steam cleaner. Currently there is a very clean Jones KL15 sat in the car park and an equally clean engine sat in Pete’s garage waiting to be re-fitted when we have finished overhauling the rest of the crane. George ‘Bungle’ Eycott

Left: Alan gets going with the steamcleaner. Above: engine out, ready for cleaning. Photos by Bungle

page 23


Ne ws fr om WR G’ News from WRG’ G’ss own Boa Boatt Club ... Club...

WRG BC news The Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs (AWCC) held their AGM on Saturday 15th March and, as the club is affiliated, both Claire and I considered it important that we attended. They are always friendly and welcoming and they do a lot to support member clubs, boaters and boating in general. Their main concerns during the past year have been the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) and Mooring and Licensing policies. There is hope of a light at the end of the tunnel on the BSS review. There is some expectation of news regarding non-sealed gas appliances (but don’t hold your breath!). British Waterways have commissioned a Technical Risk Assessment of boating. AWCC have helped a number of clubs to get alterations over the huge increase in mooring charges that were levied when BW changed the system and decided that boaters could be charged a ‘local’ rate. After a so-called ‘consultation’, AWCC think that BW have decided to what they like with regards to a mooring policy. The latest one is unworkable and unmanagable. On all these issues a lot of work has been done on our behalf working towards ensuring the future for boating at a price we can afford. Now, did one speaker have his tongue in his cheek when he expressed pleasure in the Environment Agency beginning to promote navigation? Though everyone felt that there is a need for them to employ navigation specialists, not just environmentalists. The afternoon session was a presentation with speakers from EA. Francis Power spoke about ‘The True Value of Navigation’, and working towards a strategy for the navigable rivers of England and Wales. Navigation, they said, improves the quality of life. (We all agree that it should!) Work is always done in partnership with whoever is the ‘big noise’ in the area. Each river is treated individually. The EA has many duties which make it like a many tentacled octopus. (all this can be viewed on their web site)

page 24

New visions: The Cathedral Cities Link, Lincoln, Peterborough and Cambridge. This will create over 27km of new waterways and will give new cruising rings and make it possible to travel between these places, and the Fen drainage systems of navigation, without entering The Wash; rejuvenating the Thames; developing the River Wye. Copies of this document are available, to anyone, from EA. John Redmond spoke about harmonising boats on EA navigation. He also spoke about the cash charges differences, and the problem of how to resolve this. As you would expect there was a very lively question/answer session after the presentations. They did say that the continuation of the Gold Licence was a certainty! (Now that doesn’t tie in with what BW are saying. Good to see that the close co-operation they speak of is working so well!) Next year is AWCC’s 40th anniversary. There will be a big rally at Black Boy. They are also running a raffle and asked for donations of prizes. Can we make an offer of a ‘Dirty Weekend’? There is an AWCC rally on the early May Bank Holiday at Royal Leamington Spa. If you show your club membership card you can get a reduced entrance fee at the Inclined Plane Museum at Foxton. Can you receive email? If so please let me have your address so that I can send you the handbook updates that way. This will save the club money, you will get them sooner and it will save time. I can also send you the latest news snippets, if you want them. Finally a piece of news that made me smile. BW is worried about the cost of taking part in the running of festivals. Their costs are so high because their people have to be paid to attend. Most of the other groups involved are run and staffed by volunteers. Well what a surprise that must be for them! XXX Sadie Dean Membership of WRG BC is open to all WRG volunteers who are also boaters; the only requirement is that you should subscribe to ‘Navvies’. For more information, contact Sadie on her new email address which is At the time ‘Navvies’ went to press, she appeared to be successfully receiving emails on this address but couldn’t persuade it to send them yet and was still sending emails from her old address. If you have trouble contacting her on the above address, try or if all else fails phone 07748 186867

The Aberdare Canal As a way of improving transport in the valley, an Act was passed in 1793 to form the Aberdare Canal — a man-made waterway. Although only seven miles long, it was of great importance to the development of the Cynon Valley.


A South W ales canal no-one’ Wales no-one’ss planning to rrestor estor et... estoree... yyet...

The canal was built to link Aberdare to what was to become Abercynon, where it joined the Glamorgan Canal which ran from Merthyr Tydfil to the River Tall From there, goods could be transported to Cardiff. This opened up a large market to the industries in the valley.

The Aberdare Canal met the Glamorganshire Canal at Navigation, where there was a large basin to allow the barges to pass each other. There was also a fight of 13 locks, which descended down the valley.

It was the ‘Ironmasters’ John and George Scale who, fed up with problems using tram roads, ensured that the canal was built. However, due to the caution of the owners of the canal, it was not completed until 1812. The following year, a slump in the iron trade forced it to close.

Navigation soon became a very busy place. Houses were built and a colliery opened as well. This community developed and it was decided that a permanent name should be found for it. At a public meeting in 1893, it was decided that this place should be called Abercynon.

Entrepreneur Crawshay Bailey realised how vital the canal was to transport in the valley and improved it to enable larger barges to use it. The canal prospered, particularly in the 1830s, when Thomas Wayne was its company clerk. His departure in 1837 to set up a colliery heralded the beginning of coal mining as a separate industry in the valley. The canal was to benefit from the coal boom.

Many collieries opened along the canal banks and, when it was necessary, the canal built tramways to the colliery in order to keep their business. Paradoxically, it was the canal’s success through the coal industry which attracted the railways, which in turn brought about the end of the waterway as a viable business.

When the canal was closed in 1900 on the grounds of safety — due to problems with Swansea subsidence — it was Canal restoraBrecon never to reopen. tion of southern part planned, Monmouthshire & The remains of the casome sections Tennant Canal Brecon Canal nal can still be seen at restored. restoration of southproposed for Abergavenny Aberdare, Cwmbach ern part planned , restoration. and Abercynon. remainder already restored. Crumlin Arm Michael Casey Merthyr Tydfil southern part Pontypool under restoration Although I know of no Aberdare plans to restore either Cwmbach Crumlin the Aberdare the or Aberdare Glamorganshire CaCanal derelict Abercynon nal, and I understand Neath Swansea Newport that they have suffered badly from obstruction Glamorganshire by building and road Canal derelict Neath Canal under construction since restoration, some they closed, I would sections open be delighted to hear of any preservation or Cardiff restoration project for these canals and to publicise it in ‘Navvies’. ...the Editor

South Wales Canals

page 25

Ohio and Erie A rrestor estor oject on the estoraation pr project other side of the Atlantic?

The Ohio & Erie Canal (Ohio, USA) Could this be a Canal Camp site for the future? Cost would be surely more than the usual £35 I would guess! But seriously folks... After many years of neglect this under-used waterway in America is starting to show signs of a slow regeneration. Thanks to Stephanie Guedras for putting me on to it. The following information is purloined from various web sites....

Description of the canal Total length of Ohio & Erie Canal is 309 Miles including 146 Locks, 56 Guard Locks and 14 Aqueducts. The Canal’s dimensions are a minimum of 4 feet deep, 40 feet wide at the top of the canal and 28 feet wide at the bottom of the canal. Average boat size was 78 feet long without the rudder and 14’ wide. The size of the boat was limited by the size of the locks which were 90 feet long and 15 feet wide. The locks would raise or lower the boats an average of 7 feet. To “lock” a boat through the lock took approximately 100,000 gallons of water. Guard Locks were used where the canal would cross a river, these locks had no stone walls between the 2 large sets of gates because they did not raise or lower the boats. Guard Locks were used on a canal to control the amount of water coming in from the river it was crossing. Aqueducts were used when the river was much lower than the canal. An Aqueduct and Lock can be found in Cleveland on Canal Street south of Rockside Road at the Canal Visitors Center. The Ohio & Erie Canal ran from the Ohio River in Portsmouth, Ohio to Lake Erie by way of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. It was built from 1825 to 1832, reaching from Cleveland to Akron in 1827 and to Massillon in 1828. The history of the Ohio & Erie Canal

Recent view of Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 3, Akron, Ohio

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1780 G e o r g e Washington wrote about the potential for a canal to connect the Ohio River with Lake Erie. Canals in Ohio were first seriously considered in 1816 when Ethan Allen Brown of Cincinnati corresponded with Gov. Clinton (Governor of New York) on the subject of a canal to connect Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Brown eventually became known as the “ Father of the Ohio canals” for the work he had done in promoting the canals.

1818 Ohio started looking into a canal system. 1820 (February 22nd) the Ohio Assembly authorized 3 commissioners to proceed in exploring and locating a canal. 1822 an engineer was employed to further assist in the building of the canal - Mr. James Geddes one of the best Engineers of the New York Canal 1825 (January 8th)the commissioners advocated the building of the canal at once. Then the legislature passed the notable Act of February 4th 1825 wich marks the beginning of the construction period of the Ohio Canals. This Act was called “ An Act to provide for the Internal Improvement of the State of Ohio by Navigable Canals.” 1825 (November 20th)nearly 2000 men were engaged on the Ohio Canal north of Portage Summit alone. 1861 (May 8th)An Act “to provide for leasing the Public Works of the State” that turned the canals over to a private company for an annual rental of $20,075.80 for 10 years in which was renewed for another 10 years. This lease started on 2 nd June, 1861. 1877 (December 1st) two and a half years before the lease was up the lessees refused to pay the rent for the last 6 months of that year causing the lease agreement to be terminated. Thus the State took over the canal system once again. The canal system was returned to the State in a deteriorated state and many portions were abandoned. Much of the abandoned canals were sold and the canal beds were converted to Railroads. 1878 the debate became whether the state should abandon the canals or repair them. They had to realize the value of the canals to industry not pertaining to transportation but for water power. A resolution from the Cleveland council in 1878 stated that the 600 miles of canal were lined with industry representing over $100,000,000 and the employment of 50,000 persons. 1903 voters approved the repairing of the Ohio Canal from Cleveland to Dresden for a canal with a minimum of 5 ft. of water. (Report of Chief of Engineer, B.P.W. 20th December, 1903)

1913 the canal received its final blow: the floods of 1913 destroyed the canal leaving it beyond repair. Revival After the canal’s demise the aqueduct in Circlevillle was converted into a Gambling and Dance Hall which was later burned down by an unhappy patron! But more recently the revival of the canal has begun, concentrating mainly on the towpath, as reported in a number of recent stories in the local Akron Beacon Journal... “Together on the towpath: Throughout its relatively short (13 years) history, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail has performed miracles. In Northeast Ohio, where communities often peg their identities to their ability to set themselves apart from each other, people have flocked to the notion of a trail running south from Lake Erie to New Philadelphia. When the Cuyahoga Valley National Park took a leading role in developing and maintaining its 19mile portion of the trail, other players stepped up to pick up the slack...” (Akron Beacon Journal) “Summit gives aid to Towpath Trail: The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is getting a major financial boost from Summit County. The county is contributing $70,000 to extend the popular hike-and-bike trail about a half mile in southern Summit County. It’s the first county contribution to the year-old Summit County Trail and Greenway Plan.” (Akron Beacon Journal) “Towpath Trail still growing in region: The Towpath Trail continues to grow. The popular hiking and biking trail was extended north during 2002 to the edge of Cleveland’s industrial Flats area and a pretty 48-foot waterfall was made easier to visit in southeast Cleveland.” The scale of this project would dwarf anything yet done in the U.K. including the current restoration of the Wilts & Berks canal which is a mere 60+ miles. This is a comparable canal as both were relatively short lived. Right then MKP - get on the web and book in a Canal Camp for 2004? See some of you in 2003, keep up the good work. Ken Whapples

Although ‘Navvies’ is primarily about volunteer work on UK canals, we welcome interesting articles about canals anywhere in the world, whether or not they’re currently under restoration. Please keep sending them in. ...Ed

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...and w e’ ing we’ e’rre not talk talking about the ones in Eng land... England...

Following on from Ken’s article on the previous pages about the Ohio and Erie Canal, and from articles in previous issues about our own Anderton Lift, here’s something about some boat lifts elsewhere in North America...

The Trent-Severn Waterway itself has a chequered history, having been started around 1833 and not finally completed over its 425-mile length for almost 100 years. The canal connects Lake Ontario at Trenton to Georgian Bay at Port Severn, and was started with visions of improved agricultural prosperity in ‘Upper Canada’ but finished to provide a through route for recreation. The waterway is now operated by Parks Canada. Andrew Harris

The Trent-Severn Waterway in Canada has two hydraulic vertical ‘liftlocks’ (inspired by the Anderton Lift) and an Inclined Plane lift, all of them functioning. The Peterborough lift-lock is a counterbalanced hydraulic device, the same as Anderton was originally. (and is now once again, following the restoration) The engineer at Peterborough had studied Anderton and a Belgian lift before recommending this solution here. The Peterborough lift-lock has a 65ft rise; the structure is mass concrete. Above: the concrete-built 65ft-rise Peterborough lift-lock. Construction started in 1895; various Below: the Big Chute Marine Railway inclined plane. Photos problems (mainly money!) delayed by Andrew Harris completion until July 1904. The gates now fold down into the bed of the canal. The upper caisson stops 6” short of the upper canal level, which ensures that it holds more water than the lower caisson, and is therefore heavier: the difference in weight operates the lift. At Kirkfield there is another lift-lock, with a steel girder structure rather than concrete (it is believed that this was to save weight and cost). This was completed in 1907 and has a 48ft rise. The inclined plane is called the Big Chute Marine Railway, and was completed in 1978, replacing a smaller one built in 1919. Separate tracks for the front and rear wheels of the cradle carrying the boats enable it to be kept level as it passes over the ‘hump’ at the top of the incline.

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THE BIG PAINT DO As the date approaches, everyone is getting kitted out with t-shirts ready for wrg Logistics’ Red Hand Day 03 – The Big Paint Do. This year’s colour is squashed tomato (baked bean colour just doesn’t cut it in the red stakes!): be sure to keep an eye out for its appearance in a canal camps kit near you! For the time being though you can make do with colouring in the picture on this page with the pen provided. Now whilst we are in for some fantastic entertainment in the form of various celebrity appearances including Basil Brush, and our very own quizzes The Wrong tool for the Right Job and Tool Challenge, let us not forget the real purpose of this event. Each year the Canal Camps kits get an awful lot of hammer (no pun intended I can assure you!) and without the special care and attention that wrg Logistics has provided over the years they would run into a desperate state and eventually be rendered useless. In order to stop this happening, wrg Logistics have decided to raise awareness of their plight through this entertaining (debateable!) approach. Please spread the word (wear a smaller t-shirt!) and ensure the kits get the best treatment possible whilst they’re at work. So we are thoroughly looking forward to this day (which, curiously enough, will appear to last a month or two!) and we are holding on to a few surprises! To get the ball rolling we will lock somebody in a shed at the bottom of the garden for the duration unless enough support is pledged. There are many projects that are supported by Canal Camps kits and we must remember these. It is a common misconception that tools only have a life when they are down South but that really isn’t true. Tools are doing their part all over the country and it is only with your help and support that they can continue. Housing is a real issue for them and it thanks to people like the Theakers up in South Yorkshire that they can have a roof over their heads. Without help like theirs, wrg Logistics would find it very difficult to co-ordinate its activities. Well, we hope you are all looking forward to the event and here’s Gareth Gates to sing us out with a Logistics special of White Spirit in my Eye. Take it [me?!] away… [I suspect I may be needing some Tool Relief by the time it’s all over!!!!!] Logistics disclaimer: We would like to point out that by parodying Comic Relief’s RND, we do not wish to belittle their cause at all! Now that gives me an idea for an annual event … Just Jen

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Canal Camps Pr wing this summer’ Preevie viewing summer’ss main Camps pr og ... prog ogrramme amme...

By the time you read this the first of the summer canal camps will be only a couple of months away, so here’s some more information to help you decide which one(s) to choose when you send off your booking form... soon, please... We start off on June 28th with Camp 03 on the Sleaford Navigation, working on Haverholme Lock (where we rebuilt most of the bywash over the last two summers) and possibly doing some work on building a slipway too. The accommodation is the wellequipped (showers and a bar!) Sleaford Rugby Club. Next comes the Saul Festival Camp 04 starting on July 2nd on the Cotswold Canals, setting up and supporting what is becoming one of the major annual waterways events. Nick Coolican-Smith and Ian Wingfield are the leaders for this one, with Cath Coolican-Smith doing the cooking. This camp runs Wednesday to Wednesday, with the festival in the middle of it. Camp 05 and 06 run from 5th to 19th July on the Grand Western Canal, and the site will probably be close to where we were working last year at Jays Cutting, possibly rebuilding the stop-lock that we discovered. The leaders for the first week are Adrian Fry and Sally Nutt, and for the second week we have Gavin Moor and Judith Gordon with Mitch Parsons as cook. Camp 07 is run by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust on (you guessed it!) the Wey & Arun Canal, where the week of July 12th to 19th will be spent building a new overflow weir near the south end of the summit of the canal in Sidney Wood, reinstating the towpath and removing some of the causeways that block the canal. Next comes two weeks on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals: Camp 08 on July 19-26 is led by Spencer Collins and Rob Daffern, and Camp 10 on July 26 - August 2 is run by KESCRG with Ian Williamson and Garry Alderman in charge of the camp and Jenny Wilson in charge of the kitchen. The work will be mainly based at Bettws, on the main line of the canal, building a footbridge to create a two-mile continuous navigable length. Meanwhile on the Lancaster Canal, Camp 09 on July 19th-26th will be working on restoring the derelict Tewitfield flight of locks that marks the current limit of navigation on the canal. Your leaders for the week are Rick Barnes and Lou Kellett, with Harri Thompsett on catering duty.

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An extra camp not listed in the Camps Booklet happens on July 26th - August 2nd on the Wilts & Berks Canal at Dauntsey. Organised by the Wilts & Berks Canal Company with WRG BITM supporting, it will be led by Camp Leader Graham Hotham and Site Leader Rachael Banyard, and the accommodation will be at Foxham Reading Rooms. The work will include dredging, towpath work, culvert repair and wharf wall construction at Dauntsey plus lock chamber restoration at Seven Locks, and there will be opportunities for training in dumper and excavator operation and bricklaying. Bookings and enquiries for this camp should go to, or phone Graham Hotham on 01252 656087 rather than to the usual WRG enquiries address. The work-site for Camp 11 on August 2-9 is just south of Cricklade on the Wilts & Berks Canal (or to be pedantic, the North Wilts Canal), working on rebuilding a stone aqueduct over the River Key. In what is probably a first for WRG Canal Camps, the accommodation is in converted railway carriages on the nearby preserved Swindon and Cricklade steam railway! Camp 12, also taking place from the 2nd to the 9th of August, is back on the Wey & Arun Canal with similar work to Camp 07, but this time with Newbury Working Party Group (NWPG) running it and Graham Hawkes leading. On August 9-16 we have Camp 13 on the St Johns Backpumping project on the Basingstoke Canal with Matt Taylor leading, Ed Walker assisting and Mandy Morley cooking. The accommodation is in Mayford Village Hall. The same week, the Caldon Canal sees its first Canal Camp - Camp 14 working on the scheme to extend the canal at Froghall by restoring the first lock and basin of the former Uttoxeter Extension of the canal. The planned work includes restoraion work on the lock chamber and construction of a new towpath bridge over the lock-tail - see p16-17 for a report of recent work at Froghall. The leaders for this week are Mike Palmer and Becky Parr. As usual, the summer programme culminates in the IWA National Waterways Festival Site Services Camp 15 on August 18th-28th. This year it is being held at Beale Park, Reading, and promises to be an excellent festival with the largest number of boats booked-in for several years, and a chance to take part in lots of wacky fund-raising events for the IWA ‘The Right Tool for the Right Job’ appeal (see p6) as well as the usual variety of site services and set-up jobs. The leaders are Ali ‘Womble’ Bottomley and Mitch Parsons, and the accommodation will as usual be provided on-site in a luxury (i.e. with a floor and solid walls!) marquee. Details of Autumn & Xmas Camps next time. Martin Ludgate

London WRG News It seems a very long time since a London WRG report appeared in ‘Navvies’ (mainly because it is a very long time...) but just to show that that isn’t because we’ve been idle, here are a few snippets to show what we’ve been up to in the couple of months since the last issue of ‘Navvies’. In February there was a working party on the Basingstoke. Just for once we weren’t working at St Johns, we were at Deepcut, carrying on the job begun at last summer’s KESCRG camp putting in a new bywash to the top lock, in a very awkward and cramped site under the towpath alongside the lock. To put it another way... “Job Type 1: dig out a trench (and thus divide the site in two for the duration) and expose the last pipe laid. Job Type 2: dig out a hole in the bankside for the outlet pipe, pile and backfill. Job Type 3: get the pipes ready for being laid, in the vain hope that we will get around to laying them...” ...but although we didn’t actually finish the job, we did get the most difficult length of pipe installed, and KESCRG will hopefully have finished the job. Next it was back to the Wey & Arun for a weekend working on preparing the site and access track ready for the new Dig Deep project which will be working on towpath-laying, spillweir-building and causeway-removal at Sidney Wood... “To start the day Bob, Lesley, Nigel, Richard T cleared an area to provide a new home for the “teleported” container when it arrives. Apparently they knew it would take longer than they thought but was over quicker than expected. Nigel also managed to split his trousers but that is an entirely different story. Dave went to collect some more equipment, MkII persuaded Martin to give a Dumper lesson. This left Rick, Richard and myself to tackle digging out the old culvert, which runs over the new access track and needed to be replaced with gas pipes. Within minutes of starting all three of us had managed to cover not only ourselves but each other with copious amounts of the clay. The more we dug the deeper the water became and the slipperier the sides...” ...but we finished a very wet weekend... “...I suspect there are several unhappy washing machines round the country...” ...with the stream-culvert completed, the container site levelled and the things generally a bit more ready for the start of serious work on this site. Next it was time for an ‘unofficial’ London WRG dig on the Caldon, carrying on the work that WRG NW began a few weeks earlier (see p16-17)... “We started with some light clearance around the edge and collecting anything that was already there while a bonfire was started and Tenko set up for some larger scale destruction with his chainsaw. Other activities generally involved trying to get fallen branches and trunks out of the water by hooking them with a rake or pulling them out with a rope.”

London WRG

Wha ppening down in the Whatt’s ha happening south east?

The weekend was notable for the quality of tools supplied by the Caldon Canal society... “We were all very impressed with the abundance of new kit available to us, the sharp bow saws were a shock and work wonderfully after you manage to remove the cardboard. Also in the kit were two new sets of telescoping loppers, again these were great as they were sharp but ask anyone who was there about the trouble we had altering the lengths of the handles.” ...and the catering... “The local canal society had also provided an abundance of cakes for the weekend so everybody was happy during tea breaks and lunch.” ...not to mention the local British Waterways bod... “BW Graham managed to make a lot of friends by providing ice creams from the van parked in the car park and it would have been impolite not to stop work and have them” ...and especially the accommodation... “A note to the next person who has to book us a place to stay, I know it’s a bit out of the way for most of the places we work but it has hot water, showers, and even beds...” Given that the accommodation was actually Rupert & Alison’s house, I’m not entirely sure how keen they’d be on us booking it for a weekend on the Basingstoke... Anyway by the time you read this we’ll have been towpath laying on the H&G, our next outing will be to the Basingstoke on 17-18 May, and we’ll be looking forward to a trip west on 7-8 June for our first dig on the Grand Western Canal since 1991. New volunteers are welcome on our digs - just email, phone Tim Lewis on 020 8367 6227 or see All the above quotes are from dig reports in the London WRG newsletter - for the full reports see the website, or get yourself added to the postal mailing list by phoning Tim or emailing the above address with your postal address. We also have an email mailing list for news, discussion and just the odd bit of gossip about London WRG activities - just email us if you want to subscribe to it. Martin Ludgate with additional contributions from Mark Richardson, Sally Nutt and Richard Worthington

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“Why not? We’ve worked in a place called ‘Over’...”


Bankside Moorings

At least this week there was a nice simple job for Gordon and his team to do, with not a lot of potential for getting it wrong: “OK over to you, Gordon - tell us all how the scrubbashing’s going on the pound below Spaglingworth.”

written written by by Bruce Bruce Tunnel Tunnel

It was the Wednesday evening of the Canal Camp at Spaglingworth Locks on the Thames, Berks & Andover Canal. Sodding Chipbury Village Hall was filled with appetising smells, as the volunteers tucked into their evening meal. Camp leader Austin ‘Oz’ Collingwood finished his second helping of the main course and stood up to address the rest of the volunteers... “Well, that was truly delicious! I think a round of applause for the catering crew is in order.” As the cheers died down, he turned to the cook Sal Burtonwood. “By the way, Sal, what exactly was it?” “Japanese Knotweed salad followed by Mink stew with Giant Hogweed. And we’ve got Floating Pennywort Meringue Pie for afters.” “Errr... I’m sure it’s an excellent way of dealing with all these non-native ‘invasive species’ that are taking over our canals, but are you sure they’re actually edible?” “Of course they are - you lot just ate them, didn’t you?” There wasn’t really any point in arguing with that, so Oz didn’t. He wondered what the menu for the final night of the camp would be, and whether the wild dreams he’d had the night before had been the result of something in the cooking (when he was at university he’d once read one of those ‘how to make your own drugs’ books that rhododendron leaves were hallucinogenic) but decided it was more likely that his nightmares were down to the presence of ‘Gordon-Ibroke-my-nose-three-times’ Drake as one of the teamleaders on his camp. Gordon’s tendency to get anything and everything wrong did tend to prey on one’s mind sometimes. Like the time he’d taken a group of volunteers on a day’s demolition training course at Hatton and they’d inadvertently reduced the BW Heritage Skills Training Centre to a pile of rubble. Or the time he’d spent half a day driving a minibus-load of volunteers up and down the canal (and driving them round the bend) trying to find a work-site called ‘Under’. Well, it said ‘Under restoration’ on the map he’d been given... “Surely you didn’t really think we were working in a place called ‘Under’?”

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“The felling and stump-pulling’s going fine, but we’re having a bit of trouble getting the bonfires to burn in the wet weather. Have you got any suggestions? I’m not very good at fire-lighting.” (this wasn’t strictly true, as anyone who remembered the incident with the flame-thrower, the birthday cake and the old wooden village hall at Wootton Mallett could testify) (*) “Have a look at the Practical Restoration Guide there’s a copy in the flight-case in the van. Take it with you to site tomorrow.” Oz went on to describe the progress on the other jobs on site, and allocate people to each task for the next day. Several minutes later, as he was washing-down the last of his pudding with a refreshing glass of home-made Himalayan Balsam wine, the door burst open and in came a group of people with camouflage clothing, balaclavas and blacked faces. As they removed their balaclavas, the campers recognised them as assistant Camp Leader Janet Shipstone and a group of WRG ‘regulars’. Outside in the car-park, Robert Burtonwood was just visible in the darkness, and appeared to be washing a thick layer of black mud off a Transit van to reveal that it was actually a red-painted WRG vehicle that had been disguised for some reason. “How did the ‘secret’ mission go, then Janet?” asked Henry Banks of the Thames Berks and Andover Canal Society, who seemed to have been expecting them. “Very well. We parked in the BW car-park at Watford, sneaked into the front door of the offices under cover of darkness just as the staff were on their final tea-break of the day, and hardly anyone noticed us until we’d hacked into the computer, added ‘Thames Berks and Andover” to the list of ‘Tranche Two’ restoration schemes and sneaked back out using the secret passage to Rickmansworth.” “Well done! Do you think we’ll get away with it?” “I’m sure we will. After all, nobody knows how or why schemes get included in ‘Tranche Two’ or whatever. And you know what? The funny thing is, we found that the TBA Canal had already been on the database of BW-supported restoration projects, but it seemed like somebody had sneaked in once before in the 1980s and removed it. I wonder why...” Henry had been involved in canal restoration politics since the 1970s and knew exactly why. But in line with the new spirit of partnerships and co-operation, he kept it to himself...

(*) Sadly this episode never made it into ‘Navvies’... although something not entirely dissimilar

“But wait a minute - you said ‘hardly anyone’ noticed. Does that mean somebody spotted you?” “Oh yes - some chap called Gene Batham was taking advantage of everyone else being away on tea-break to go ‘surfing the net’ on one of the other computers. He was just having a laugh at all the boaters on uk.rec.waterways getting wound-up about those ridiculous new ‘mooring regulations’ that BW published as an April Fool joke, and unfortunately he spotted us. But don’t worry, we’ve put him off the scent.” “How?” “We told him we were from the Environment Agency.” “Well,” said Oz, “everybody seems to have done pretty well today - I reckon another two days work and we’ll have finished all the jobs on the list. Just as well, as we’ve only got two days left.” The following evening, Oz was once again looking forward to tucking into a delicious repast, thanks to Sal and her unorthodox approach to Canal Camp catering... “So what is it tonight, Sal? Water Fern surprise? Myriophyllum Aquaticum casserole? Grey Squirrel à l’orange?”

“So why do you keep printing it?” “Well it’s like this... we know that boats are good for nature conservation. But we’ve got to look after our members’ interests, otherwise won’t recruit any new members and we’ll lose the ones we’ve got. And as long as most of our potential members are a miserable bunch of humourless control-freaks who like nothing better than stopping people going boating or fishing, generally spoiling their fun and claiming that they need to do it to save the planet, we’re going to have to keep the pretence up.” (Sal couldn’t help thinking that as stereotyping of wildlife-types went, this was better than even she could manage in her occasional forays into magazine article writing. But she decided to keep quiet about it and concentrate on what looked like a promising source of free food.) “So if all these plants and animals are plentiful but you need to convince your members that they’re facing extinction, surely it would help if you could get rid of a few of them. And I might just be able to take a few off your hands...”

The meal finished and cleared-up, Oz once again began his daily talk to his campers.

“No, tonight there’s a choice of roast Great Crested Newt or Natterjack Toad-in-the-hole, with Floating Water Plantain Salad for the veggies.”

“How did the concreting of the lock-chamber walls go, Joe?”

“Hang on, Sal - those aren’t invasive species, they’re rare ones we’re supposed to be preserving! OK I know we all wish the canals weren’t all full of rare species and we could get on with reopening them to boats, but....”

“Sorry Oz, it’s been a bit slow” replied Joe Wadworth, one of the other team-leaders, “we’ve had to do all the mixing by hand today, but we’re hoping to hire-in a mixer tomorrow.”

“It’s all right - that nice environmentalist woman from the Wildlife (Berks) Trust called round this morning while I was making lunch and stayed for a chat...”

“What’s wrong with the canal society mixer?”

“Rare? No, don’t be silly, Sal, of course they’re not rare. The canals are full of them. The voles are breeding like rabbits, we can’t move for Pipistrelle Bats in the tunnels and if the biodiversity in the channel gets any more biodiverse there won’t be room for any water!” “So why don’t you just let more boats use the canal? If the plants aren’t rare, the boats won’t be a problem, will they?” “No, not at all. In fact more boats just stir up the water and encourage more animals and vegetation. That section they reopened last year at Bolminster is absolutely chocker with Great Crested Newts...” “But all your literature says that boat numbers have to be limited for the sake of the wildlife.”

“Nothing, but unfortunately we’re not allowed to use it. Apparently by the time that chap from English Heritage arrived yesterday to have a look at the site, we’d done so much demolition that there wasn’t anything left of the lock for him to put a preservation order on. So to save him a completely wasted journey, he spotlisted the mixer as it’s now the oldest thing on site. And we aren’t allowed to make any alterations to it without special consent. Which includes putting any fuel in it...” “Oh well, I’m sure you’ll do your best to catch up tomorrow. Gordon - how’s the scrub-bashing job getting on?” “Much better, Oz. In fact it’s all going terribly well, and we’re on schedule to finish the job by the end of the camp tomorrow afternoon. We’ve got the fire-lighting sorted out now, thanks to your suggestion that we get the copy of the Practical Restoration Guide from the van. Mind you, we’ve nearly used it up - you don’t have another copy to hand, do you?”

“You don’t believe everything you read in our literature, do you? Most of it’s rubbish.” might just finally make it into ‘Navvies’ once the Droitwich Lottery funding is safely ‘in the bag’...

To be continued....

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Bits & pieces


Helen Gardner who deals with ‘WRGWear’ WRG logo clothing is going to work in Nepal for a few months (Good luck, Helen!) and in the meantime Lesley McFadyen has kindly offered to temporarily take over dealing with WRGWear until Helen gets back.

New on the WRG web site See for: (1)

Aston pics the opening and the ‘last ever’ canal camp in February.


WRG Screensavers for your computer


BCN Cleanup pics some really dirty photos!


WRG songbook lyrics to the songs we’ve performed at WRG Pantos etc.

New Cromford Canal guide However there is no need to change the address you send off to for WRGwear: it will be automatically redirected. That address is Helen Gardner, WRGWear Orders, NB Sussex, The Boatyard, Rowdell Road, Northolt UB5 6AG. Enquiries by email should still go to; if you don’t have email, phone Lesley McFadyen on the editor’s phone number 020 8693 3266. Don’t forget: orders for Canal Camps T-shirts go to the address at the top of p18, not to WRGWear.

The Friends of the Cromford Canal have just published a guide to a canal that we are likely to be doing a fair bit of work on over the next few years. It’s called "A Walker's Guide to the Cromford Canal" and it’s available by post from membership secretary Yvonne Shattower at 264 Bennett Street, Long Eaton, Notts., NG10 4JA at £4 including Post & Packing. More information on

Remember... ...when you email somebody in WRG using one of the ‘’ addresses (for example the address for the editor), don’t forget to include the ‘.uk’ bit on the end. Otherwise, it goes to the Women’s Resource Group. And several of the WRG board members don’t particularly like to think of themselves as ‘women’s resources’, however appropriate the description might sometimes seem...

Another new canal society? I’m not sure if they actually hope to restore the canal (which has to be one of the more difficult restorations, given how little of the canal was ever built, and how tricky the bits that weren’t built would have been!) but there is now a Friends of the Leominster Canal, contactable c/o Martin Hudson, 79 St Peters Close, Moreton on Lugg, Hereford HR4 8DN. email:

WRG Book Auction 15: the winning bids LOT 1a 1b 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Winning Bid £6.00 £4.00 £28.00 £7.00 £10.00 £6.50 £4.00 £10.00 £10.00 £12.00 £25.50 £4.00 £13.50 £20.00 £10.00 £10.00 £20.00 £10.00

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18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

no bid £12.50 no bid £10.50 £2.00 £2.00 £9.00 no bid £11.50 £6.50 £11.00 £15.50 £25.50 £5.00 £3.00 £6.00 no bid no bid £25.00

37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

£5.00 no bid £8.00 £6.00 £4.50 £9.00 no bid £3.00 £5.00 £10.00 £4.00 £4.00 £4.50 £6.00 £3.00 £4.00 £5.00 no bid no bid

56 £2.00 73 £15.00 57 no bid 74 £3.50 58 £3.00 75 £8.00 59 £4.00 76 £20.00 60 £2.50 77 £30.00 61 £5.00 78 no bid 62 £3.00 79 no bid 63 £3.00 80a £5.00 64 £5.00 80b £5.00 65 £3.50 80c £5.00 66 £5.00 80d £5.00 67 £5.00 80e £5.00 68 £5.00 80f £5.00 69 £2.50 80g £5.00 70 £2.50 80h £5.00 71 £3.00 81 £16.00 72 £3.50 82 £10.00 ...which means that allowing for the fact that there were 2 copies of Lot 67 sold at £5 each, the total raised for WRG was £641.50

Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293



Lost Property

Movinghouse... Andi Kewley has moved (again!) to: 26a Lothair Road, SouthEaling, London W5 4TA 020 88402620 Sadie Dean has a new email address: Leo and Angus Mackenzie are moving house again but don’t know when or where to! Mail to their old address should get redirected but if you need to contact them use the mobile phone 07957 872384.

For sale

George ‘Bungle’ Eycott lost an orange coloured (i.e. railway standard) hi-vis vest at the Aston opening. Please contact him on or 07771 775745 if you know where it is. Sally Nutt lost a bag for holding a rolled-up ‘Thermarest’ sleeping mat at the BCN Cleanup. Please phone 07764 902863 or email if you find it.

Directory update Chichester Canal Society has now become Chichester Ship Canal Trust. Please send any other changes to the editor: the next full directory will appear in issue 200.

Stamps wanted

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Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conSubscriptions / circulation servation of inland waterSue Watts ways by voluntary effort in 15 Eleanor Road Great Britain. Articles may Chorlton-cum-Hardy be reproduced in allied Manchester M21 9FZ magazines provided that Printing and assembly: the source is acknowlJohn & Tess Hawkins edged. WRG may not 4 Links Way, Croxley Grn agree with opinions exRickmansworth, Herts pressed in this magazine, WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Editor : Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Road East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266

The WRG Canal Camps mobile phones: 07850 422156 (A) and 07850 422157 (B)

Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine. Waterway Recovery Group is a division of Inland Waterways Enterprises Ltd., a subsidiary of the Inland Waterways Association (a registered charity).

Send used postage stamps, petrol coupons, old phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.

Directors of WRG: John Baylis, Mick Beattie, Malcolm Bridge, Roger Burchett, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, Helen Davey, Roger Day, Neil Edwards, John Fletcher, Adrian Fry, John Hawkins, Jennifer Leigh, Judith Moore, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith.

Inland Waterways Enterprises Registered office: Secretary: Neil Edwards 3 Norfolk Court, Norfolk Rd. Rickmansworth WD3 1LT VAT reg. no : 788 9425 54 © 2003 WRG Tel : 01923 711114 Registered no 4305322 ISSN 0953-6655

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Recipes for disaster...

Catering? Very simple if you were the only volunteer staying through the week in Hutch’s Stratford Canal depôt at Lapworth. The second-hand barrack hut eventually got a kitchen, but before that the kitchen was a very small block next to the lock at the bottom of the yard. The nice warm hut was at the top of the yard. On a frosty morning, even to run this distance produced congealed fat on and around lukewarm bacon, eggs etc. - not very appetising. The solution was to light the small portable gas fire in the hut before going down the yard to cook brekkie. Cooking finished, you ran like mad up the yard with the frying pan, tipped the gas fire on its back and re-heated the pan’s contents until edible. Safe? No, but what initiative!

Following his success as a writer and performer of WRG songs at the ‘National’, George ‘Bungle’ Eycott takes up playing the accordion. (Martin Ludgate)

John Foley Inventing a new dish – beef and ale stew with individual pastry hats, after finding that one pack of just-rol isn’t enough for the Kit A catering tins... Cooking full roast dinner for 25 in Selsley scout hut, with Kit A, where only one roasting tin fitted in the oven, and the hob rings were so small that I could only fit 2 pans on at once. Dave Lamen fed me lots of Gin, so that made things a lot less stressful... I once made garlic bread on the griddle – that was the hall in Gloucester with no other catering facilities. The garlic bread was delicious, but the bacon and eggs the next morning had a distinctive flavour!

Thank you to Harry Arnold for this photo taken at the railway station at Tavira in Portugal. It shows a possible useful addition to the WRG camp kits - a wheelbarrow that runs on railway tracks. What a shame we got rid of the monorail - this would have been ideal for it. (Thinks: good grief, I just used the words ‘ideal’ and ‘monorail’ in the same sentence...)

Also on the griddle – it is possible to make pancakes, but they have to be small. Trying to make one big one ends up with most of the batter congealing in the drip tray. Its also difficult to toss…. Jelly omlette… make a large amount of jelly (e.g. a litre) as per instructions. Put in clean washing-up bowl to set. Add depth charges (jelly tots) when jelly is just too set to mix them in properly. Have bright idea to turn jelly out, realise only thing big enough is the large frying pan. Try anyway. Jelly falls from bowl, explodes on impact, and forms shapeless heap in frying pan. With slimy looking jelly tots. WRGies will eat anything... I like cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.... Mrs Smeaton

Please keep the catering stories coming in! ...Ed

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What is Daddy Cool (left) saying? What is Martin (right) saying? Suggestions please for captions to this pic by Ian Nelson. Coming next time: Canal Anorak Bingo, a game to cheer-up bored WRGies everywhere!

Navvies 198  

Navvies 198

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