a vvies N Volunteers restoring waterways No 207 October - November 2004
Timothy & Prunella have got theirs. Have you ordered yours yet?
waterway recovery group
In this issue:
...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on 3½" floppy disk, CD-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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Press date for No 208: November 1st.
Comment What’s involved in running Canal Camps 3-4 Chairman Do we need BW to manage us? 5-6 Appeal The final report 7 Bonfire Bash latest info and booking form 8-9 Camp reports Wilts & Berks, Wey & Arun, Lancaster, Mon & Brec and Froghall 10-21 Diary camps and working parties 22-24 Letters on camps the National, apostrophes, Adge Cutler and Californian postage 25-26 Camps a report from the National Festival, and an appeal for leaders for next year’s camps 27-31 Logistics One of our Tirfors is missing!32-33 London WRG a year in the life 34-36 Wendover a tale of two vicars 37-38 BITM on the Basingstoke 39 Navvies News and Boat Club report 41 Noticeboard the return of the barn dance 42 Backfill WRG striptease picture! 43-44
And next time...
A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a ....a report and pictures from the Bonfire Bash, plus minimum of £1.50 (please add a donation if pos- the last few summer camp reports that didn’t make sible) to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton- it into this issue, more about the Barn Dance, news cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to of the 2005 BCN Cleanup and (we hope!) next year’s Canal Camps booklet. "Waterway Recovery Group" please. Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for all the latest news of WRG's activities
Cover photo: Celebrity waterways enthusiasts Timothy West and Prunella Scales perusing the WRG Calendar at the National Festival at Burton. You too can own 24 pictures of WRG’s finest male and female volunteers, each wearing only a smile and the Right Tool, for only £10. Send off the form on page 7 today! (picture by Harry Arnold) Below: latest purchase from the proceeds of the Right Tool for the Right Job Appeal is this dumper, which was immediately pressed into service at Burton to deliver sand and to tow a roller in an attempt to stave off the National Festival site’s descent into a quagmire. See pages 6-7 for the latest on the Appeal, and pages 27-29 for a Camp Report from the National.
By the time you read this the Right Tool for the Right Job Appeal should have reached its £75,000 target!
Comment By way of a change, instead of boring you with the editor’s opinions, we’ll hand over to one of our regular camp leaders for this issue’s Comment...
Comment Gr visib le Graatitude to the (mostly) in invisib visible army fr om a camp leader ... from leader...
So you’ve just come off a canal camp and had a great time? The week went well and would have started off with plenty of clean, intact tools arriving in shiny, tidy vans. You will have been shown a professional safety video, issued with safety equipment, had your food shopped for and prepared every day, and had your social life organised for the week. When you got to site the work will have been planned, you will hopefully have been allocated a job you liked and if one of you managed to get something in your eye the First Aid kit would have been well stocked with eyewash.
£60k Even if your camp didn’t go exactly like this, it certainly would have been the plan and it wouldn’t have been far off. But even if you haven’t managed to get on a camp yet, have you stopped and thought about everything that goes into planning and running all the camps? (If you know exactly what goes into it then just skip to the ‘thank you’ paragraph!) Some of you were unlucky enough not to have a cook so you will already have been exposed to some of the workings and helped the camp to run smoothly. So here are just some of the other things that go on…
. . . . . .
Finding and visiting enough sites suitable for a season of canal camps Arranging all the dates Finding nice accommodation where you can hang your towels out without upsetting the ‘English Village of the Year’ competition Trying to find all those brilliant pictures of keen volunteers that were definitely taken last year in order to put together and print the Canal Camps Brochure Organising the Canal Camps t-shirts Updating the web-site
And then there’s the small matter of finding leaders… £30k “How do you fancy a cheap holiday in the sun (mud)?” or “Have I got an opportunity for you!” - or just settle for the old-fashioned “your pint glass is looking a bit empty there”. This whole process normally takes several days on the phone and lots of pints. And just a little of what head office staff do... £20k
. . . .
Take bookings, duly noting all the exotic food requirements Answer questions Look after the money Supervise the writing of travel directions that can cope with the daily changing road works in Stoke (even if your camp is on the Wey and Arun)
Meanwhile back on the site there’s... £10k
. . . . .
Sorting out of planning permissions detailed planning of all the work heaps of health and safety preparation and documentation ensuring that local suppliers know which week the camp is liasing with the local bat population.
And when it’s all planned all you’ve got to do is get the kit to the camp – easy!!
“Hmm so if VOJ and the trailer stay in the car park at the Grand Western then after work Mitch’s colleague can drop her at the van and she can take it to the police station where it will be safe. Ok and then Dr Liz can be dropped by Ian on the way from Oxfordshire to the Mon and Brec and she can take the van to the Caldon and then continue to Harrogate before going back to the Mon and Brec. Ah – she needs dropping at the station and Bush is at a wedding in Swindon – it’s OK Alison and Julie can sort Liz out and if Bush is in Swindon she’ll be in a good position to pick up SAD from Gloucester because Adrian has diverted his route back from his holiday in Devon to pick it up and store it outside his house. Has he managed to disguise it from his neighbours?? No – it’s too big. So he’s looking for a new house then… “And then while VOJ is at Mitch’s this gives the PPE fairies time to acquire all the gloves and goggles and pack them into little bags ready for the next few camps. So the PPE equipment will travel from Warwickshire and Northamptonshire via Milton Keynes to Bristol then...“ This was a true story just for one camp - and the camps and van schedule are designed to cut down the distance between camps! But it’s a similar story for all camps and it’s an annual brain-teaser. So what was the point of this article then? I’ve not even started on tool and van maintenance, shopping for 30 volunteers, the mysteries of tea towels, getting 24 people to site in a 17 seater minibus without breaking the law, keeping up to date with tacho legislation and the fact you’ve read a camp report from your camp in a ‘recently delivered to your door’ Navvies – there’s so much more to be said but I think you’ve got the picture. Well ultimately it’s a huge big “thank you” to all the people (too numerous to list) who work hard all year round keeping WRG and the canal camps ticking along neither of which would exist without them – cheers – you all know who you are. It’s also a bit of a reminder that this is all about team effort and if you were feeling a lesser person for sitting down preparing sandwiches whilst the rest of the camp are sweating away in the burning sun removing hardcore from a hole in the ground, then don’t – every task I’ve mentioned is necessary to achieve the main aims of Canal Camps which are having fun and restoring canals (besides, have you ever been brave enough to face 20 hungry navvies with no sandwiches?). If you’re now feeling inspired to help out then doing anything from taking nice photos for the publicity material to helping assemble Navvies or offering to move a van would be appreciated. And finally I hope it’s given you an insight into why doing certain things makes such a difference to subsequent camps – the kit lists, letting the leader know if you break something or use something out of the First Aid kit, and at the end of the camp when you’re so tired you can hardly stand, arming yourself with a sponge and getting that vehicle all sparkly for the next camp! The editor comments: I’m sure I can already hear the hollow laughter of some of the more cynical of our regulars scoffing at the first paragraph of the above, and indeed I have heard of cases of most of the individual items mentioned in it going ever-soslightly not quite according to plan on just the odd occasion. But (a) although we should not be complacent, I honestly believe that these are generally the exception rather than the rule - however being (mostly) human, we tend to only remember the balls-ups, not the many times when things have gone right - and (b) as the author says, it’s all about team effort - if you’re not happy with the way Canal Camps sometimes go, please feel free to offer to help the team (if you aren’t already doing so) and/or to write to ‘Navvies’ People ‘enjoying themselves and doing thoroughly good with your constructive suggestions for how work’ at Lichfield. See MKP’s comments (right) and the camp report next time (please!) things could be improved.
Chairman’s comment And suddenly the summer is over, it’s raining and the planning for next year has begun - yes that’s right, I’m writing this at the National Waterways Festival! All of this would be OK if there wasn’t so much of this year still to enjoy, but more of that later...
Chairman Why is it so dif diffficult now tha thatt BW ar aree on our side?
Before we look ahead I need to use this page to thank everyone who was involved in a highly successful Camp 16 on the Lichfield and Hatherton. For a camp where the leaders arrived without any preparation at all, I think it went very well. This was mainly due to some very fine volunteers and good local support, but thanks must also go to my excellent assistant Miss Parr. Now this sounds similar to last year on the Caldon, and I still feel guilty about not completing a witty and entertaining Camp report for that week. However this year all is OK as “Teacher Chris” said he would write one for me. Thanks Chris, and I look forward to reading about what you think happened that week! [So do I ...Ed] Thanks also to everyone who knocked out bricks, cleaned them and put them back in the wall - a quick look at the photos shows lots of people enjoying themselves and doing thoroughly good work. Just a pity that Friday downpour put paid to the last 75 bricks going in the wall and finishing the job. Not that all the Camps went so well this year - it was one of those years where we really had to struggle to get everything together and where all the usual problems seemed to configure themselves in ever more infuriating ways: at the last moment permissions would fall through, and just as we sorted those out, we would discover the leader was not available. Then just when we found a replacement, we would find that that was the one camp that was suffering from low bookings, and that it was one of a pair of camps on the same site, and there was no point running the second week if the first week hadn’t prepared the work for them. Infuriating but just a fact of volunteer work - and it isn’t as though the opportunity to do the work is past, is it? It’s still waiting for us next year! It would be unfair, and startlingly inaccurate, to blame British Waterways for these cancelled camps but we do seem to be having problems whenever they are involved with a restoration. All the good people we have been working with over the years seem to have disappeared, and so whenever we try and make a contribution to a BW-controlled restoration scheme we seem to be an unknown quantity: all that work for all those years seems to count for nothing. True they are very quick to acknowledge our past efforts - it seems it is illegal for a BW employee to use the word “volunteer” without the phrase “to whom we owe the existence of the waterways network”; however when the subject of actual volunteer work crops up the line appears to be “we don’t have the resources to manage volunteers right now”. Well I always thought we were self-managing. Obviously we have to fit in with the bigger picture, but we always managed to do that when BW were against us - why is it so difficult now they are on our side? I can’t help feeling that “lack of resources” is just a cover up for “we are not on top of this” and that is so often because they are failing to work well with their partners. The only way to be positive about this is to remember that when BW spent all their time trying to deny our existence, it only took about 5 years of protesting to change their tune. So perhaps a few more years of proving that we do produce quality work and are well managed, and mayne BW will recognise us for the valuable resource we could be. (unless of course they have another reorganisation!) On a more positive note we were able to end the The Right Tool for the Right Job Appeal at the Festival - hopefully this summer you will have seen the fruits of the Appeal on site and perhaps even used them (carefully and with due respect of course). Although the Appeal is officially closed there is still a chance to contribute in one final way: yes, the WRG calendar is available for that essential Christmas gift! They will be next season’s “must have” item, and they are already adorning the offices of everyone in the waterways scene! We could, of course, fill up a whole Navvies with “thank yous” [Turn to pages 3, 4, 7, 31, 32 etc and you will see that several people have been doing their best to do exactly that! ...Ed] and I apologise if we have missed you out with a formal letter, a scribbled card or even just a heartfelt handshake in the bar but we really do appreciate the support that everyone has given us. In particular I must thank Liz Williamson for her wonderful job as Appeal Co-ordinator - Liz stuck with it even when the good ideas seemed sparse, and managed to enthuse people to go with the “great idea-but won’t that be really hard work?” ideas.
My thanks to you Liz and you should feel good about all the work we are now able to do. I would also like to thank the staff at Head Office (particularly Lauren) for all their background work dealing with the paperwork such an appeal incurs. One event that we really did not want to occur this summer was the sad passing of Pat Osborn - a man who simply gave and gave and gave. Be it his brickwork on the Montgomery or his plumbing at the National, everyone reading this will probably have used and appreciated Pat’s work. But it is not the skills or hard work that those of us who knew Pat will miss, but the smile he brought to our faces every time we met him. Having Pat on site made you feel good and that is a very important part of what we do - the ‘Comment’ in this edition reminds us not just how professional we are but just how much fun and how much twisted, strange humour there is to be had from what we do.
Although hard work for some, this year has resulted in great work and great smiles on sites all over the country - and the year is not over yet! There are still Camps, a Bonfire Bash, Christmas parties and - as the regional groups will tell you - lots of weekend digs over the next few months. So lets enjoy the rest of the year and I hope to see you all (somewhere!). Regards Mike Palmer
* Always remember the words of Alan Jervis: “better to be a professional amateur than an amateur professional”.
Order your calendar now!
WRG Uncensored Calendar Order form Please send me WRG calendars at £10.00 each including postage and packing. I enclose a cheque for payable to Inland Waterways Enterprises Ltd. Name: Address:
Please send this form with your cheque to: WRG Calendar orders, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Allow 28 days for delivery.
All proceeds from sale of calendars go to the IWA’s The Right Tool for the Right Job appeal for equipment for Waterway Recovery Group volunteers.
The last appeal update??
Hopefully! But only if you all buy lots of calendars... Particular mention this month goes to all the folks at the National Festival who cooked bhajis and pakora, and of course, ate bhajis and pakora. The Appealing Food stall raised well over £1500, which is brilliant. Particular thanks go to Ian, Nina, Ellie, Helen, and the best kitchen porter ever - Steve “bloody” Johnson, and also Sue, who knew where the nearest Indian supermarket was for emergency supplies!
The Right Tool for the Right Job
The current total is around £74k, and I’m sure we’ll reach the target.
Enormous thanks to Mitch for doing all the organising and planning, and Jen for the design work. Special thanks for the photography to Derek Pratt - it looks so professional. We tried to advertise it during the illuminated boat parade at the national - lets just say, I hope no-one was put off buying!
We have one final fundraising effort - the CALENDER: WRG UNCENSORED - which I hope you will all order at least one copy of... and one for all your family/friends/enemies etc... Please fill in the booking form opposite and send it off straight away to avod disappointment.
See you all at the Bonfire Bash! Love ‘n’ hugs
Dr. Liz Williamson
Above: the food stall at Burton on its way to raising £1500 for the Appeal. Below: A cheque for £250 is presented by the Wilderness Boat Owners’ Club.
Bonfirire Bash All the la test inf o on the Gr antham latest info Grantham Canal Bash on No Novvember 6th-7th Gavin Moor
Bonfire Bash 2005 As you will have read in the Navvies 206, this year’s Bonfire Bash will be held on the Grantham Canal over the weekend of 6th - 7th November. If you want to come and you haven’t booked on already, please do so using the form on the opposite page, as it’s good to know how many we are expecting.
A mile of virgin scrub to bash!
The site itself is located just outside the small village of Cropwell Butler towards the Nottingham end of the Grantham Canal. We will be clearing a one mile section of the canal between two road crossings. At the village end of the site there is a bridge portal currently hidden by small trees and general scrub to be cleared. The first half mile of the canal has lots of scrub growing in the bed of the canal and a significant number of willow trees. All the vegetation needs to be removed, including all the stumps. With all the stumps to remove there will be plenty of opportunities to use tirfors. Permission has been granted to have some small bonfires to burn the scrub and it is likely that there will also be a chipper or two to get rid of some of the trees. The second half mile of the canal that we are working on contains more dense scrub and larger trees; it would be great if we could clear this as well. Some of the larger trees in the section need pollarding and this will be done by the WRG Forestry Team. Ignore what we said last time about accommodation - we’ve found somewhere bigger and more suitable: Daycourt Comprehensive School, Glebe Lane, Radcliffe on Trent, Notts NG12 2FR. Full joining instructions will be sent to everybody who books: basically the school is 5½ miles from the main work-site, not far from the A52, less than half a mile from Radcliffe railway station... and 400 yards from the ‘Black Horse’ A real ale bar will be provided in the accommodation for the Saturday night but due to the cost of insurance we will be unable to offer a firework display. Feel free to bring your own sparklers, however, but nothing else! Any other offers/suggestions for entertainment on the Saturday evening will be welcomed. Please note: no nuts! This may seem an odd request but we have been asked to ensure that volunteers do not bring any nuts or nut products with them into the accommodation, as the school has two students who suffer from severe nut allergies. This is a potentially life-threatening medical condition and can be triggered by the tiniest traces of nuts. So if you want to bring snacks with you to munch on in the evenings, please no peanuts! And also, I’m afraid that peanut butter fiends will have to put something else on their late night toast - Jude has promised to bring some of her home-made jam! And speaking of Jude...
We are very grateful to Jude and Dr Liz for offering to do the catering over the weekend and feel sure that they would welcome any offers of help.
There’s a canal bridge in there somewhere...
The local society are really enthusiastic, BW very supportive and at the end of the weekend we should have cleared a section of canal in the way that only a Bonfire Bash can. This length of canal already has good towpath and is well used by the local community. As you will be able to see from the photos we have some good work to do, we certainly intend having lots of fun and we hope to see as many of you there as possible. Gavin Moor Adrian Fry
waterway recovery group
NATIONAL CO-ORDINATING BODY FOR VOLUNTARY LABOUR ON THE INLAND WATERWAYS OF BRITAIN
WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash 2004
I would like to attend the 2004 WRG Bonfire Bash on the Grantham Canal on November 6th-7th Forename:
email: Phone: Any special dietary requirements? I require accommodation on Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £
(please make cheques payable to ‘WRG’) for food
(cost is £10 for the whole weekend, based on £2 for each meal.) How will you be travelling to the Bonfire Bash?
Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any allergy or illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:
Signed: (parent’s signature also required if aged under 18): Please send this form to: Bonfire Bash Bookings, WRG, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY page 9
Diary of events:
Camps Repor ting fr om Dauntse porting from Dauntseyy on the Wilts & Ber Berkks Canal... Camp 07: Wilts & Berks Canal Dauntsey, 17th-24th July The intention on this camp was to work on Locks 3 and 4 of the Seven Locks flight at Tockenham, but after numerous delays to our planning application, permission was only granted at the start of the week — and then with a landscaping proviso that should not have been included, as it was all agreed months ago. In the end, the only work we could actually do there was to erect a new fence to stop the cattle in the adjacent field converging on canal and towpath and churning up all the vegetation. This was a 3-strand barbed wire fence that had to be strained by hand, as it was on a curve, but fortunately we had plenty of bodies to help. Apart from that, the work on the camp was divided between Foxham and Dauntsey.
Friday: Dave Wedd and Phill had come down early to help move equipment and materials around to prepare for the camp. About a mile of road up Lyneham Banks had been resurfaced recently, and I had persuaded the contractors to provide us with 27 loads of road planings (free!) for use on the towpath and several other areas, and using the hired digger these were scraped back into conveniently situated piles, and a start was made on filling in ruts on the towpath. Some of the infill which we were planning to dig out was going to go onto the farmer’s field, so the fence was removed in preparation. Dave Rudland arrived on Friday night, so he could put in a full day’s work on Saturday. Saturday: George retrieved Blue from the Hereford & Gloucester and brought it down to Dauntsey, and he and Dave Wedd fixed some minor faults on our dumpers. Dave Rudland spent the day strimming a long length of towpath, and in the process found a wasps’ nest - or rather it found him! The result was that for possibly the first time in his life, Dave had some plump bits of his anatomy. We managed to knock over a willow tree, and removed two other unwanted frees, and some satisfying bonfires burned some of the strimmings. After scraping back the topsoil, a start was made on dumping and spreading some infill out of the wharf area on Farmer Jeff’s field. Some of the campers arrived in time to do some work on site, and Luke took them up for some tidying up at Foxham. A towpathwalker’s dog peed down Isabel’s rucksack, its owner making out that it was no big deal. Obviously happened to her all the time... Sunday: We had two teams, under Luke on the stone wharf wall... and Tom Tur ner, at Foxham preparing two bridges for painting, and a start was made by Men in White Suits on the actual painting of the wooden farm bridge.
Fay (Yu Liang), our Chinese student, was unfortunately a bit disappointed that she had picked a camp with not much technical input. She is a postgraduate electronic engineering student, and had hoped for more of a challenge to her engineering abilities (and a shower every night!) and she decided to go home half way through the week. The other studentage volunteers, however, felt that the work and the accommodation lived up to the promises on the website, and they cheerfully undertook any task that was asked of them, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all their hard work, without which we would never have achieved so much.
At Dauntsey, Ron-the-brick Robertson, our local brickiemaster, worked with our local work party on the stone-faced wharf wall. Ron promised to come along most days this week to instruct some of the newcomers in this skill. Some big loads of concrete that had been demolished earlier (in true Blue Peter style) were taken by tractor and trailer to the next farm up from Dauntsey, where the farmer needed it for some hardstanding area - he has been an ‘Anti’, and we’re trying to win him round to let us work on his bit of canal. The concrete had come from demolition of a garage that had been built many years ago on the canal infill.
We had twenty people booked on the camp, plus help from local volunteers, and BITM for the first weekend - 29 sat down to tea on the first night! The age range was also quite wide, ten of them being 21 and under, with 5 ‘D-of-Es’, but amongst those over 21 we had some Dauntsey regulars, so they could lead small teams undertaking several different tasks, which was a big help. Phill Cardy had sponsored the hire of a 7-tonne digger, which Dave Rudland extended for a further two days, and we also had the excavator ‘Blue’ (although that Laying brick copings didn’t work very well until George ‘Bungle’ Eycott could come at the end of the week and give it a quick service), and with 2 dumpers we had plenty of machinery on site.
More infill from the wharf area was dug out, dumped and spread in the field next to the wharf Adam Bott was trained on dumpers, and proved an apt pupil. Jeremy was trained on tractors, which he described as a baptism of fire, as he got bogged down! He managed to extricate the tractor, but the trailer was well and truly stuck. Monday: I managed to retrieve the tractor from the quagmire. Bernd Schimansky was trained on the dumper. The stonework on the wharf wall was completed under Ron’s tutelage, and the first row of coping bricks laid, which the younger members found quite challenging. The three D’s - Dave R, Daphne and Daniel - cut back the side branches of the hedge, and piled the brash ready for burning. Phill carried on digging out the infill and emptying it into dumpers for transporting across to the field. Luke, Jeremy and Ray ran around in vans picking up bricks and sand from Wootton Bassett and Seven Locks. Tuesday: 4 large coping stones were set on the wall adjacent to the lock wing wall, and the rest of the wall prepared for the brick coping. The dredging continued for both field and to build up towpath. The towpath team continued cutting back side branches, thus opening up the path to full width. Broken concrete also continued to be taken up to Waite Hill Farm, each time returning with logs from trees previously cut out of the hedge when it was being laid - we can sell logs during the winter for fundraising. All of the brash was burnt, and Jenny, sitting on a log and putting out an arm to balance herself, found that cowpats made good hand cream.
Around 3.30 p.m., there was an almighty thunderstorm, and we quickly found that instead of building a wharf wall, we’d been constructing a spillweir, with water pouring over at a rate of knots! It had rushed down the road and across the car park, bringing debris from Frank Collingbourne’s farm up the road, and we had no option but to pack up for the day and head back to the accommodation. Friday: The first job was to clear out all the accumulated debris from behind the brickwork to prepare it for concreting. We then continued with digging out the infill, and concreted behind the wall so the brick coping could go on. The fencing was finished at Lock 3, and at Foxham the Bascule bridge was painted. After that, some had to go back to the accommodation during the morning to pick up something, only to find that Di had gone shopping and locked up. No problem: Daphne scrambled through the window of the men’s loo, thus proving that being pregnant doesn’t impede agility, at least in the earlier stages. Incidentally, Bernd and Daphne Schimansky are a true WRG pairing met on a few camps 2 years ago, Bernd proposed on a Chichester camp, married 12 weeks ago, now 11 weeks pregnant. They reckon they must have sneezed on their honeymoon.
Nearly everybody happily took par t in the planned social events, which consisted of testing out the local pubs on Saturday and Sunday nights, cinema on Monday (split between Shrek 2, Spiderman 2, and Around the World in 80 Days, all apparently enjoyed), ‘Mystery Tour’ on Tuesday (while some of us were engaged in a local branch meeting), skittles night on Wednesday and swimming on ThursWednesday: Ron and team day. We rounded off the week continued bricklaying. More with a barbecue on Friday infill dredged and spread in night, ably chef’d by Adam and field and on towpath. Dave Daniel, followed by very comR. and team reached three petitive games of Monopoly. ....before the rain turned it into a spillweir! quarters of the way along The washing-up rota was the 1½-mile section cutting abided by without so much as a grumble, and Di back the hedge. Daphne, Jenny and Isabel did a struggled manfully (or womanfully) with catering for litter-pick of the dredgings, to remove bits of metal, her large brood (except breakfast, which I have now large stones and other unwanted objects. There got well organised after vast experience!). Logistics were almost enough car parts to build a car! More were quite daunting, with 17 dozen large eggs disconcrete taken up by Jeremy. Daniel, Patrick, etc. appearing, 150 packets of crisps, goodness knows had more bonfires. how many loaves for samies, and Di baked 12 goodThursday: Dave Wedd arrived for two more days sized cakes, which all got demolished lunchtimes, with us. Unfortunately we had crawled out of our before she even started on the puddings. sleeping bags to find it bucketing down with rain, so We achieved an incredible amount of work, helping it meant a change of plans. A minibus-full went off to push the restoration forward, for which myself to the Railway Museum in Swindon, but the keen and our local work party regulars are eternally grateones - Tom, Dave R., Dave W., Phill and myself, all ful. I hope the young ones enjoyed themselves of whom had been to the museum before - went off they all appeared to - and will come on more camps. to site and carried on working. It had cleared up Adam (from North Devon) has applied to join the enough to do some more bricklaying and dredging. police force, and has threatened Di that he might We headed back to the Reading Rooms for lunch, well finish up in Newton Abbot. after which the Museum team went down to Seven Rachael Banyard Locks to start the fencing.
Camps ...while NWPG sswing wing into action aatt Ha ybarn Bridg Haybarn Bridgee... Camp 0409: Wey & Arun Canal NWPG at Haybarn Bridge, 17th-24th July
A brief recap on the project. Dig Deep Groups (you should know who they are by now) are replacing one of the lowered farm crossings on the southern section of the Wey & Arun Canal (actually the Arun Navigation for purists) with a swingbridge from the Leeds & Liverpool donated by British Waterways. This work, being a true Dig Deep project, is being carried out entirely by the visiting groups with little of no local input. Prior to the camp, NWPG had diverted the public footpath around the site over a temporary footbridge and LWRG had spent two weekends slogging away at demolishing the concrete deck and abutments.
Fortunately I didn’t read the reports of the LWRG weekends in London WRG News until after the NWPG camp, otherwise I may have not bothered turning up on the Friday night. However, as it turned out this was to be one of our most productive camps on this or any canal. Whether it was successful – you’ll have to ask the campers themselves…
We had good news from the first day. This year we were to stay in only one hall and not three, the pub was within a short walk, and it was also to be a camp which avoided doctor’s surgeries, dentists and A & E departments.
KESCRG volunteers at Haybarn Bridge on the Wey & Arun on their September 11-12 weekend work party,building (quite literally) on the success of the NWPG Camp. See p40 for more photos.
By the time the camp started, the majority of the old bridge had gone apart some footings on the non-towpath side and a large 1m cube of reinforced concrete which had somehow escaped from LWRG’s destructive efforts.
Perhaps uniquely for this canal (and having finished our access road) we were able to deliver ballast straight from the lorry to a heap next to the mixer, which was in turn positioned to tip its contents straight into the hole to be filled.
The camp had been set the task of completing all construction works below finished water level making as much progress as possible on the structure necessary to support the pin on which the bridge will (hopefully) swing. To do this it was first necessary to dig down to firm clay onto which a large concrete slab would be cast and onto which the retaining walls would be built. We had planned to use readymix but this was dropped in favour of hand-mixing, given the availability of a large number of enthusiastic and partially fit volunteers. (Nothing to do with saving money of course!). Actually this turned out to be the right decision. By dividing the base slab into three distinct sections we were able to dig out in the afternoon (using the machine), clean off, install reinforcing and shutter up the next morning and pour the concrete that afternoon. This kept everyone busy with a mix of tasks and without suddenly being presented with 50 tons of concrete to shift all in one session.
As each base section was completed, the blocklaying team were able to start work on the retaining walls. The design for the project specifies blocks below water and bricks above. The blocks are laid over steel bars set into the concrete base and are then filled with concrete for strength. On the towpath side these walls are to form the bank support onto which the bridge will close.
Excavation and clearance work took most of Saturday and Sunday. Spare labour was used to complete the site access road started by LWRG. Hardcore from the old bridge was used in this as the road has to be able to support the heavy lifting gear needed to lift the bridge into position. We were worried that the hole we had dug would both be bottomless and would continually fill with water. Neither happened.
We had achieved (apart from one course of blocks on the off side) our target.
In the process of digging out we uncovered the substantial remnants of the arched Arun Canal bridge which existed on the site before the German POW’s installed the concrete low level affair. In some ways it was disappointing not to be rebuilding it in brick, but we had a job to do and so after taking some photos, the excavator made short work of removing the remainder. Clay from the diggings was also used to build dams at either end of the site, which provided us with machine and dumper access all round the workings. This saved much hand digging to the relief of all. On Monday we cast the first, central, section of the base; on Tuesday the southern bit and on Wednesday the northern. Each “bit” was larger than the previous and yet the time taken to pour the concrete got progressively shorter. Such are the benefits of learning from experience! Some careful consideration of where to put the mixer, ballast heaps and wheelbarrow runs helped to keep the strain on the now tiring volunteers to a minimum.
On the off side the block walls also form the shuttering to what will be a 3 x 3 x 3 metre mass concrete cube and which will take the weight of the bridge (and its pin). Work on this shuttering had progressed sufficiently by the end of the Thursday of the camp for the first pour to begin Froday morning. After four hours on continuous mixing and pouring we had filled up to the top of the third course of blocks at which point we decided that after a week of digging, shovelling, mixing, barrowing and tamping we’d had enough!
This was not the only work done during the week’s camp. As is now becoming a tradition, we were joined by the WRG Forestry Team who spent the week doing much-needed tree surgery on the navigable Loxwood Link section of the canal. A small NWPG plant team also spent the last two days of the camp in Sidney Wood finishing off the Dig Deep 2003 project there. Three people, including the author, spent a day doing the final derusting of the swingbridge prior to the arrival of contractors to do the required strengthening (now complete 26/8). I must conclude by thanking everyone who worked so hard to make this camp one the most successful NWPG camps in recent years and to thank especially Graham Baird from WACT for ensuring the materials and kit were there all through the week, to Graham Hawkes for leading the camp and to Su Webster for keeping us content with her excellent cooking. Thanks also to WRG for rescuing our transport problems by making NJF available at short notice. Bill Nicholson PS If you want to help on this interesting project, NWPG and BITM have weekends booked on it before Christmas.
Camps ...and KESCR G ar KESCRG aree pointing at FFour our teen Loc ourteen Lockks... Camp 0412: Mon and Brec Canal Jul 31-Aug 7 KESCRG and friends at Fourteen Locks Camp quote: ‘I’m only here because it’s the cheapest way to do my D of E’ Saturday: All arrived safely at our accommodation, the delightful Crosskeys Methodist Church, which of course had not been chosen for its central location to all 3 village pubs! There were memorable first introductions, from Steve (henceforth known as Purple Steve) who in his own words is ‘a bit eccentric’ and Loz who to the concern of all present admitted that she was ‘only here because it’s the cheapest way to do D of E’. After watching the riveting safety video, we proceeded to the site, where we admired the work done by the previous camp at Fourteen Locks. After that there followed the first of many visits to the Philanthropic Inn (affectionately referred to as the Phil), the institution that provides HB for only £1.88 a pint!
Sunday: We woke up to a shocking sight on Sunday, we found it was so hot that many people had decided to wear their shorts, ‘put those legs away’ (from Loz)! On site there were many jobs to be done, so there was no time for slacking… Loz and Rose were introduced to the joy of pointing in circles, Brian started rebuilding the outflow for the spillway and Steve and Roy put a fence up. During the lunch break we spied on the couple having an incredibly brief affair in the car park… In the evening we greeted new arrivals Matt the D of E’er (making five of us!) and Doctor Liz returning from her marathon trip around the country, and also bade farewell to Gav. Roast Beef for dinner and then off to the Crosskeys pub to hear Steve’s confession (hmmn). Monday: Even hotter today, so great weather for fires. Steve and Matt got to play with Billy Bushcutter (we don’t want to ask any questions)! Loz and Rose remained pointing in the morning, until lucky Rose escaped, leaving poor Loz behind. During a wet lunch break, we took shelter in a bin lorry (we were very desperate!). Later that day the bad key fairy struck, all keys were being kept in the safe central area (i.e. the flight case), but unfortunately the safe central area was taken away in RFB with the first shower crew, no one has confessed yet! We enjoyed an evening meal of pork ’n’ sauce, and then departed to the cinema and bowling complex. Stepford Wives did not inspire the Lizs to go on site in high heels! Tuesday: Another productive day on the WRG site. Rose, Steve, Matt, Jonny and Steve sat on the fence, or at least they must have done something to make it that bendy, and the boys thought up almost a million euphemisms for fencing (which don’t need to be repeated!). Jenni and Mark sent the barrel swimming, and poor Loz was still pointing. Two Land Rovers went offroading to a secret location to get stone, and James and Loz ‘picked blackberries’ to the amusement of all for the remainder of the week.
Wednesday: ‘You can’t polish a turd’ (in case you were thinking of trying). Two sites today, just to confuse us. It was discovered that whilst the Land Rovers were very good for bouncy tracks and slopes, it was a better experience if wearing a sports bra. Back on the main site more wonky fencing was put up and Loz continued pointing much to her intense displeasure (ha-ha). ‘Baa Baa Hic Hic’ for dinner and then off to the Phil, One of the many weirs, bywashes, culverts and side pounds where strange locals were intent on forcthat make up the water system at Fourteen Locks ing arranged marriages!
Thursday: Another hot day and everyone was knackered and very dirty. So we were grateful to be told we’d be going swimming later, so the dirt could finally come out from under our fingernails! (Lovely). Brian’s wall got bigger, Jonny and Matt did pointing in a bog, and Steve was Brian’s ‘barrow bitch’ (with a little help from Bandit). Elsewhere we discovered the Wild Man of Borneo, oh no that was Eddie and his bonfire, and Ian actually did some work (gasp)! Meanwhile certain people found love over a bush cutter; someone really should have warned Loz about the long arm of the Post Office! Over on the second site the delivery man refused to deliver, as he was concerned about scratching his cab driving down the pot-holey road! So dust was moved by hand, as were big stones. It was discovered that RFB had quite an aversion to going over the bridge, but luckily no one cared as earlier Jenny and Maureen had delivered some delicious tiffin! In the evening we enjoyed swimming followed by steak ’n’ ale pie (and artificial flavouring).
Saturday: A day of sad farewells and frantic packing up, mingled with the after effects of the night before. There was just time for a group photograph (forgotten the day before) before people began to disappear to catch trains… See you all at the Bonfire Bash in November! Rosie de Winton Oh and according to the Oxford Concise Dictionary S.K.E.W-W.H.I.F.F is the correct spelling of skewwhiff, not that anyone doing a WRG job (i.e. fencing) would be wondering how to spell that word!
Friday: Last day on site, Brian finished his wall, fences were built and everything (including the car park) was washed, amazingly without any water fights! Certain WRGies who were on an extended tea break were shocked by the dubious white powder men who drove into the car park with a baby in the back! Sadly any evidence of the remnants of white powder was washed away by our zealous cleaning at the end of the day!
We consumed our last supper (where seconds were, as always popular) and impatiently listened to the speeches, which were taking up valuable drinking time at the Phil! In case anyone was wondering Steve was presented the ‘Barrow Bitch’ award, Rose ‘Most Enthusiastic Volunteer’, Alistair ‘Right tool for the Right Job’, Brian and Patrick ‘Stonewalling’, James ‘Tirfor award’ and not forgetting ‘Pointing beyond the call of duty’ going to Loz. We enjoyed our last night in the beloved Phil, before adjourning to crypt for fun and games such as giant Jenga ( played first with kitchen utensils and later with noses and teeth) and the excellent cereal box game! Someone who wishes to remain nameless took a very nasty fall from one of the poles in the crypt (just don’t ask), and others found it particularly amusing to go and play the church organ at 3:30 in the morning, luckily they failed to rouse the sleeping people in the hall! As the sun rose Mark, Liz, Richard and Rose decided to recreate the Beatles immortal Abbey Road picture; we await the photo with interest…
‘Pointing beyond the call of duty’ - and there are fourteen locks to do!
By the end of the week Alison had tracked down a hoist thing (sorry, I’m not technical) and then even the most reluctant rocks were given their marching orders.
The three other young’uns, Alex, Emma and Emily (well, another Emma really, but she obligingly answers to Emily), were every bit as energetic. It was very hot the first day, so the energy given to clearing a bank (trees, shrubs, bricks, stones, logs, rubbish) for landscaping on the whole waned as the day wore on. Not so for Emma, who teamed up with Keith to deal death to trees and shrubs, or for Alex and Emily, who sawed all the trunks into logs.
Paths ds and ths,, coper coperss, bollar bollards pointing aatt FFrroghall Camp 0413: Uttoxeter Canal Froghall Basin, August 1-7 “Confessions of a reluctant WRGie”
Desi and his wife Lola, from Spain, started with a natural advantage on the first hot day, but they did not complain when the English rain arrived the next day. Emily and Matt were able to light the scrub bonfire, and even missed their lunch-break to tend it. Much of the work for the rest of the week was to lay a detour in the towpath, in preparation for accommodating the contractors who are due to dig out lock 1 and the basin during 2005. Seven inches deep, 1.5 m across, about 20m long. A doddle, I hear you cry. We learnt as the week went on why it wasn’t. This was a site with a rich industrial history, and our path followed the track of the tramway that brought materials across the canal from the brickworks. On the third day we had four groups working on the path, Alex barrowing all the spoil away, muttered darkly that every second journey was to empty Desi’s barrow – they make them strong and determined in Spain. My contribution to all the digging was limited (aging hands, you know, can’t seem to grip anything …), so I stood by and admired the energy of Deb, Robert, Bob, and the rest of the team, egged on by those yells from lock 2 across the basin. By the fourth day the track was cut, the Terram was laid, and it was all hands to the wheelbarrows to lay and spread first coarse and then finer stones into the track.
It all started one beautiful sunny day at last year’s IWA festival. David, my husband, visited the WRG stand (promptly re-named ‘the provisional wing of the IWA’), and within 2 months he was back from a week’s scrub-bashing and persuading me to join him in a camp this summer. The hard work sounded OK, but I wasn’t keen on DofE-ers drinking more than was wise, and above all on the communal sleeping arrangements – he’s signed up to see me getting dressed, but no one else should have to suffer. So confession number 1 is: I really wasn’t looking forward to it. Still, try anything once. We arrived late (milestone family party). First impressions: Martin under his Morris Traveller – a familiar sight, except that it’s David’s legs I’m used to seeing in that scenario. A great start for David – this camp had everything! Rupert and Alison’s Morris saloon was in the car park too – it doesn’t get much better. I was reserving judgement … Good news: there were bunks, and there was a ‘quiet’ room in the sleeping accommodation. Bad news: the quiet room was fully booked, and we’d be in with the young’uns (all noisy and drunk, no doubt), no restriction on bed-time, the oldest there exactly half my age. Then Alison revealed that there was a third room, where she and Rupert and one other couple, Deb and Keith, were already set up, and two bunks were still free: best news yet.
Those young’uns turned out to be pure gold. After clearing where a path was to be laid, Matt, Phil, Miles, Freddy and Fleur moved across the site to lock 2, where the lock was to be excavated to 1m, so as to flood it and give the impression that the Uttoxeter Canal snaked away under the trees into the distance (in fact it’s still under the Churnet Valler Railway trackbed in many places – negotiations are ongoing).They fought all week with the heavy soil and the 1ton coping stones that had fallen into the lock. At first the combat was unarmed, but successful – yells of triumph from across the basin informed the rest of us that yet another stone had been shifted.
Well that was the bad bit. From then on it got better all the way.
David ‘ironing’ the path
There wasn’t a fight to drive the mini-roller, so for the next two days David was in sole charge of a noisy, smelly, but very satisfying machine, ‘ironing’ the path (well, at home he talks about ‘hoovering’ shirts, so I’m glad he’s some idea of what ironing is). We were all very chuffed with the final result. Bob the Burco has an internal clock, I’ll swear. Bob would disappear, regular as clockwork, to the little brick store hut to fire up the gas Burco for tea and coffee, which was always most welcome. He also played a major part in the mooring rings and bollards you’ll now find at the upper end of the Caldon Canal. There was admittedly an anxious moment in the setting of the first bollard: the hole was dug, the cement mixed and poured in, the stone sets ready and waiting to be laid round the outside, and… no one seemed to know how to suspend the bollard in mid-air while the concrete set (quick as thought) under it. Helen, our valiant and everresourceful leaderine, Martin (yes, the one you’re thinking of) and David put their heads together, vandalised a pallet, and came up with a Heath Robinson job which did the necessary. I’m keen on history, so I signed up to learn how to do ‘restoration pointing’. Five of us, including John, another member of the local canal society, learnt how to mix up a lime and sharp sand mix, and leave it for 24 hours. ‘It’ll look dead,’ said Graham, of BW, our tutor. ‘Mix it up again, and it’ll come alive, and then it’s ready to use.’ ‘Dead?’ said Emily, puzzled. ‘Must be a man thing – how could it be dead?’
Confession number 2: it was my very first time on a canal boat. I loved every minute. Our stopover at the canalside pub (opposite Alison and Rupert’s home and fleet) on the way home seemed to be a national rendez-vous: WRGies appeared from all quarters, and the next morning revealed why. Packing up a canal camp is an exercise of military precision: Helen issued lists and clip-boards left, right and centre, and if you weren’t washing it you were listing it or taking orders from Gavin as to exactly how to fit it into the apparently impossibly small WRG trailer (well, it hadn’t looked small before). Well, it was all great. Helen was wonderful – if I had her ability to make people do tiring and difficult things and enjoy it I’d probably still be a teacher. She didn’t have a cook (well, it was going to be Alison, but who wants to think about cooking for 20 during the first few months of pregnancy?), so she’d planned all the catering herself, charmed the rest of us into helping out, and then sorted out our social lives. All this on top of having a complete picture in her mind of the whole work programme: what was to do, what was being done, who was doing what, whether they were enjoying it or ready for a change, etc. The only thing she didn’t know was when the sand would arrive – but then nobody did.
But in fact we agreed the next day that it did look a bit peaky. Graham had returned, and taught us how to revive it (cut it up lots – wouldn’t do it for me) and poke it into the gaps between the stones in the abandoned railway siding that last year’s camp had cleared. The secret is: no air bubbles left in the back. It’s slow work but the final result looked good. The siding is quite a sun-trap, so our sun-tans didn’t do so badly either.
All work and no play… Well, none of us were called Jack. We never stopped, I tell you. There were pub visits (several – indeed several pubs in one evening on occasion, I do believe), visits to the local swimming pool, to the cinema, bowling, shopping, you name it. On the Tuesday we visited the the Brindley Mill in Leek, where the creator of the Caldon Canal had done his apprenticeship, and because of his engineering talents had soon taken over the business in the building which now bears his name. Thursday was Emma’s birthday, so we barbecued (on the verandah, dodging the pesky rain) and partied into the night. Friday was the supper cruise: the local canal society arranged a ‘thank-you’ trip in a boat that does days out for disabled children – and we borrowed Helen D’s boat too as there were so many of us.
The Lock 2 team find another big coping stone to dig out
Martin, unofficially an assistant leader, somehow managed to be in the front line wherever there was hard work to be done, as well as teach the ignorant amongst us how to do the most basic WRGie tasks. I really enjoyed getting to know my fellow campers, individually and collectively a splendid bunch, and now I’m ready to go back for more next year. So confession number 3 has to be: I was quite wrong about canal camps. Sarah Patey
Camps Bob the Bur co: Burco: Can he br breew it? Camp 0413 at Froghall... again! On the previous page was the ‘normal’ camp report from Froghall. But no sooner had it arrived than it was followed by a second one written in ‘Bob the Builder’ style, inspired by ‘Scouse Bob’ a.k.a. Bob the Burco... Aaaah! Take your places! Can we make it? Yes we can! Bob, the Burco, Can we make it? Yes we can! Fleur, Phil and Desi, and Lola too, Alex & Matthew join the crew, Bob and the gang unpack the gear, Working together to check it’s all here Bob, the Burco, Can he find it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Bob, the Burco, Can he find it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Sunday is busy, such a lot to do, Meeting & greeting, all of us new, Visit the site, hard hats on heads, Back to the scout hut, to choose our beds Bob, the Burco, Can he fill it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Bob, the Burco, Can he fill it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Monday we’re grafting, clearing the site, Chopping and sawing with all our might, Emma, Keith & Robert work on the tree, Alex saws logs with Emma Lee. Bob, the Burco, Can he light it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Bob, the Burco, Can he light it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can!
And the leader says
– cheers to: Martin for being an ace retrospective assistant leader, the Caldon Canal Society (especially Alison and Rupert Smedley, Julie Arnold, Mike Beardmore, John Mills, John Rider and the crew of Beatrice), Helen Dobbie for permission to hijack her boat, Graham Lea and Simon Jackson of BW and finally all the volunteers for working bloody hard, having fun and helping out loads with all the domestic stuff. Helen Gardner
Meanwhile on Tuesday, down in the lock, Dirty great boulders continue to shock, No need to worry, there’s still lots of hope, Matt, Miles, Phil & Freddie all haul on the rope. Bob, the Burco, Can he boil it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Bob, the Burco, Can he boil it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Wednesday, a new path, we dig out & line, Almost according to the design! Sarah’s mixing mortar, Emma Lee too, With Lola, Matt & Deb in the pointing crew Bob, the Burco, Can he brew it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Bob, the Burco, Can he brew it? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! David’s on the roller, we hear him go, Up and down, then to and fro, Painting, digging and raking are tasks to be done, With Robert and Desi on the barrow run. Bob, the Burco, Can we stir it? Bob, the Burco, Yes we can! Bob, the Burco, Can we stir it? Bob, the Burco, Yes we can! Thursday it pours down, with thunder claps, We rescue some scouts, poor little chaps, Emma’s birthday party is a barbecue, We drink to her health, imbibing a few. Bob, the Burco, Can we drink it? Bob, the Burco, Yes we can! Bob, the Burco, Can we drink it? Bob, the Burco, Yes we can! On Friday we clear up after the storm, The sun’s really shining, keeping us warm, Mooring pins and bollards in concrete are set, Reeds are being rescued and Freddie’s rolled in net. We can tackle any situation Look out here were come! Can we dig it? Yes! Can we build it? Yes! Can we point it? Yes! Finally all our work on site is done, Helen our leader arranges for fun. A boat trip on the canal, with a picnic tea, A pub stop, of course, and a drink or three. Bob, the Burco, Can he drive us? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Bob, the Burco, Can he drive us? Bob, the Burco, Yes he can! Digging, raking, pointing having so much fun, Working together we got the job done. Thanks to the WRGies for organising our team, Now, back in real life, it seems like a dream! Bob, the Burco, Can we finish it? Bob, the Burco, Yes we can! Bob, the Burco, Can we finish it? Bob, the Burco, Yes we can! Deb Whitehead
Camp 0417: Lancaster Canal Tewitfield Locks, July 14-21 A camp of Olympic proportions? The coaches Izzy ‘the leader’ Gascoigne – not currently at the peak of physical fitness or in the drinking premier league but excels at motivating the rest of the team with her sunny disposition.
Camps R e por ting fr om the 2004 porting from Lancaster Olympics ... Olympics... The events
Nina ‘glamorous assistant’ Whiteman – has participated in more canal camps than she owns actual pairs of socks, she is solid in every discipline and excels in endurance drinking. Tom ‘the technical’ Cutting – new to digging in the North, made his mark in this new field with his consistent top scores for technical ability and was always involved in the hard graft. Harri ‘the saviour’ Thomsett – although rarely seen on the competitive field, Harri is the essential support-structure that no team could do without. Serious contender for the endurance award for longest time on camp. The challenge Second-leg of the bywash-clearance relay on locks 5, 6 and 7 (of 8) at Tewitfield, near Lancaster. Following previous years’ work on other locks in the flight, and with the long-term aim of re-opening the canal right up to Kendal – despite the best efforts of the M6 and various A-roads that cut across it in at least 5 places.
1500 m pointing – Big Dan and Pete bravely took on this tough event, which is over a long distance, covering both Locks 6 and 7, but which must be carried out at speed in order to overcome the elements. Excellent support was provided by Linda, Lucy (retired early due to RTI – Repetitive Texting Injury) and Jessica, amongst others. A late entrant into this category was Darren, who took on the massive wet-weather pointing event at Lock 5 and took the Gold. Scrub-bash marathon – There were many contenders for this title, Angela took the Gold after a ten-round bout with a hawthorn bush at Lock 5. Also in medal contention were Little Dan, Neil, John, Ed and Trish – all of whom kept up a steady pace throughout at Lock 6 for a photo finish. Dumper sprint – Harry Boy came into the competition in its closing stages but took the Gold in this event by a clear lead, moving debris from previous events from all three locks to the ‘farm over the road that isn’t the mayor’s’. He set a new Olympic record in the process and also won a special award for artistic impression. Endurance photography – John recovered from a serious nasal injury mid-week and managed to combine fine landscaping skills at the tail end of the lock 5 bywash with the job of official event photographer, capturing every moment of the event for posterity.
Tree-athlon - Sam, Nick and Tim showed great stamina in this event that ran over several days. This was a contest against an opponent that had been established for years but our boys summoned up all their strength and their secret weapon of unfailing good humour and eventually came out Painting the new footbridge for Lock1 at Froghall (see previous page) the champions.
Long-distance mattocking - Chris had a winning week in all disciplines. Not only did he dominate the (soil) weight lifting contest, shifting several thousand tonnes that were covering the bywash at lock 5, he also won the right to compete at university level by getting excellent A-level results. Decathlon - Kate and Debbie were worthy champions in this multi-disciplinary event that took place both on the field and in the domestic arena. Debbie got a special award for bringing the leaders tea in bed. Team topless ThursdayThe camp leaders declined MKP’s offer of holding this event in conjunction with the Lichfield c a m p , deeming it inappropriate, especially given the adverse weather conditions encountered that day. Breakfast bawling - Harri T. was racing ahead in this competition, having shouted ‘breakfast’ at extreme volumes most days. However, a late entrant to the competition was Sam, who in only one shout (of Olympic proportions) exceeded the cumulated decibels of Harri T.’s entire week in competition. He was later disqualified from the competition when it was pointed out to the officials that he made his shout at 4am when the sausages weren’t even in the oven. Hilarious! Bywash Grandstand – a highlights show Spectacular achievements on site – Lock 7 suitably ‘tarted up’, Lock 6 cleared and re-pointed, Lock 5 clearance completed and re-pointing substantially progressed. All this despite being rained off site early on Wednesday when Izzy decided driving the dumper through lightning wasn’t that safe, and not being able to get on site at all on Thursday because it was raining so much we almost couldn’t see site. A trip aboard N.B. Waterwich on a real-life bit of canal – thanks to the Lancaster Canal Trust for their time and knowledge about the canal and its restoration. Visits from VIPs – a delegation from BW and the North West Development Agency visited site on Thursday.
It had been too rainy to work, but Izzy and Trisha made it through the torrents and (hopefully) demonstrated to them the value of volunteer labour. If they were sufficiently impressed this could bring a massive injection of cash to the project, allowing navigation to be restored. Rock legends tribute night – an evening of high-quality karaoke singing by a cheesy old guy and his fishnet-legginged female companion to such rock legends as The Beautiful South and Elkie Brooks. The not-at-all-fixed pub quiz – we came second to a team that included the mayor’s wife. Cynics would point out that their score was never announced but we w e n t h o m e h a p p y with Pete’s win in the ‘indiv i d u a l question’ round, and our table’s glor ious victory in the ‘loudest table’ contest. Personal bests – Chris got his A-levels and entry to his first-choice university, Jess got better than she thought in her A/S-levels and was able to stop worrying, Lucy got straight A’s in her A/S-levels and is on course for going to Oxford. Excursions – our day off site wasn’t planned but did allow time for some of the campers to go to the Morecambe ‘not very’ fun pool where the slides and hot tub were closed, hiring a video, a trip to the cinema, a fishing trip for Darren and a trip to Glasson dock for Pete and Linda. Return visits from some campers – yes, some of you said in front of witnesses that you would come back for the Bonfire Bash in November, and hopefully another camp next year. More personal bests – well done to all the campers for remaining cheerful and getting the job done despite the weather. Special mention to Ed and Trish for staying the whole two weeks, and of course Harri for cooking on both weeks. Also thanks to Linda for doing breakfast on Wednesday, to the Lancaster Canal Trust for their support and the fab village hall. Finally, thanks to Nina and Tom for being great assistants, lots of fun and making life generally easier, can I book you again for next year? Izzy Gascoigne (with very small additions from Nina Whiteman)
Canal Camps cost £42 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 0420') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: email@example.com
Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project at Haybarn Bridge
Oct 9 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Chichester Canal: Hedge laying.
Hollinwood CS Hollinwood Canal: Countryside Centre, Daisy Nook Country Park. 10am-5pm both days. Clearing trees and vegetation.
WRG southwestGrand Western Canal
Grantham Canal: concrete spillweir repairs and stump-pulling. Leader: Jo ‘Smud
Nov 1 Mon
Press date for issue 208
Bonfire Bash - Grantham Canal. Leaders: Gavin Moor and Adrian Fry. Please b
Bonfire Bash - Grantham Canal
Bonfire Bash - Grantham Canal
Bonfire Bash - Grantham Canal
Bonfire Bash - Grantham Canal
Montgomery Canal: Newhouse Lock Abermule Newtown.
Nov 7 Sun
Committee & Board Meetings: to be held at the WRG Bonfire Bash weekend
Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project at Haybarn Bridge
Nov 13 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Grantham Canal: Jungle bashing and removing fallen trees from canal at Wools
Extra dig: Cromford Canal
Wilts & Berks Canal, Dauntsey area: Joint Xmas party dig with London WRG.
Hollinwood Canal: Scrub bashing (no accommodation)
Wilts & Berks Canal, Dauntsey area: Joint Xmas party dig with KESCRG
Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project at Haybarn Bridge
To be arranged
Dec 18 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project
Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 0422
New Year Camp - Wilts & Berks Canal
Jan 1 Sat
Press date for issue 209: including Canal Societies directory
To be arranged
To be arranged
Uttoxeter Canal: Froghall project
Feb 19 Sat
WRG/KESCRG Barn dance: see next ‘Navvies’ for full details
Lapal Canal: to be confirmed
To be arranged
BCN Cleanup weekend: details and booking form in next ‘Navvies’
To be arranged
Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Graham Hawkes
email@example.com Martin Ludgate
book using form on p9.
Diary 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. Usually at 'Star Tavern', Belgrave Mews West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 PlaneMike 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 Saturdays H&GCT Hereford (Aylestone) Brian Fox 01432-358628 Saturdays / Sundays H&GCT OverWharf House Maggie Jones 01452-618010 Hereford (Aylestone) Adrian Fry 07976-640962 Various 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 2nd weekend of month K&ACT John Rolls 01189-666316 1st Sunday of month LHCRT Lichfield Peter Matthews 01543-318933 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 1st Sunday of month SNT Haverholme Lock Dave Pullen 01673-862278 1st weekend of month SUCS Newhouse Lock Mike Friend 01948-880723 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)
Abbreviations used in Diary BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CCT DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT D&SCS GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS
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 Inland Waterways Protection Society
K&ACT KESCRG LHCRT NWPG PCAS SCARS SCCS SHCS SNT SUCS TMCA WBCT W&BCC WACT WAT
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 Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Company Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust
Dear Martin, Each year the IWA National Chairman writes a letter to Navvies thanking those in Waterway Recovery Group for their contribution to the National Festival, and writes it - well at least I did last year - as if we are not also grateful for all the other things which WRG does to support the Association and the waterways!
Letters ...on the Na tional, and the National, apostr ophe ca tastr ophe ... postrophe catastr tastrophe ophe...
I suppose the big thing about the National Festival is that such a high proportion of WRG volunteers and such a high proportion of IWA volunteers work so closely together – more than at any other time of the year. So this year I am not going to even mention Burton-upon-Trent. But I am using the holding of the event as a reminder that it is about time that I put finger to keyboard to thank you all for all that you do for the waterways. I hope you enjoy it – otherwise I guess you, like me, would not be volunteering. But it is always pleasant to be on the receiving end of thanks. Throughout the year I receive all sorts of thanks and general praise for what the whole of our Association has achieved. I hope that some people get round to thanking you as individuals directly, but now is a memorable time to say thank you on their behalf – and from myself as well! Thank you! John Fletcher National Chairman The Inland Waterways Association Dear Martin In reply to the letter in edition 206 from Ed Leethem, WRG Print can quite categorically deny any wrongdoing in this matter. Yes, I did notice the missing punctuations and checked around on the shed floor, but no they had not fallen off the paper. And also we do not have spare space in the shed (oops, sorry the print room) to store any apostrophes or the like; Tess still reminds me that we are the only house in the street that had an extension on the shed but no such luck for the loft or other rooms in the house. Yes, Ed, the shed has grown in size since you last saw it. As Martin stated, we are experiencing some problems with the different technology that the new platemakers have in use, but hopefully we will get everything sorted out. John and Tess Hawkins WRG Print Apologies also for the cock-up that resulted in the back page of issue 206 being a near-identical copy of page 2. But don’t worry, you haven’t missed any genuine ‘back page stuff’ - we’ve repeated it all in this issue. ...Ed Dear WRG We have just returned from a successful weekend at the National Festival and we would like you to pass the following message to all involved, before, during and following the event. Thank you so much for all the hard work you have done to make the ‘National’ a successful event for us. The conditions for you were appalling, but you managed to ensure that we all had access to our sites, we could park our vehicles, help was there whenever we needed it, and we stayed safe. We were regularly visited to be kept up to date with essential information, and just to make sure we were OK. Congratulations WRG, you did a superb job. Many, many thanks from... The Derby & Sandiacre Team
Dear Martin I was rather disappointed to spot a large red WRG minibus in Wellington one evening last month, obviously on an essential beer/chip procurement exercise.
The disappointing thing was that this large vehicle was only ornamented by ‘Waterway Recovery Group’ demurely written on the front doors. I am astonished: is this the ‘stealth’ bus for sneaking into areas where uncertain welcomes await the prospective WRGie? Or the granny coach for ferrying elderly WRGies for a look at the latest scheme?
...the Basingstok ornian Basingstokee, Calif Californian posta ge and Adg ... postag Adgee Culter Culter...
If not, where are the flashing lights, the day-glo billposter print on the sides, visible to the partiallysighted for several miles, in colours garish enough to induce severe intestinal unease; where is the ear-smashing beat of Adge Cutler or AC/DC to waken those who haven’t already noticed that the boys (& girls) are back in town? Publicity and visible public presence are the lifeblood of voluntary organisations so, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Andy Carter I’m afraid this one is a bit of a can-of-worms. Some years ago it was suggested that there ought to be more writing on WRG vehicles - if only something that says ‘canal restoration volunteers’ so that people don’t think we’re some kind of aquatic RAC for broken-down narrow boats. There was considerable resistance to this from WRG old hands who felt that our rather understated logo was an excellent example of good design that would be ruined by covering the vans in writing. Eventually a compromise was agreed whereby our trailers would have more writing on, but not our vans... Personally I think that whilst I can live without AC/DC and the Wurzels, at least a one-liner saying what we do, plus our website address, would be a good idea. But don’t expect it to happen without suggestions from various quarters that the latest emergency stoppage at Lock 4a on the Montgomery Canal was caused by earth movements resulting from the WRG Founder turning in his grave. ...The Editor Dear Martin. BASINGSTOKE CANAL – SUMMER CAMP May I , through you columns, thank everyone involved with the Basingstoke Camp for their hard work and commitment. The mix of new and familiar faces was an excellent blend and the work went with a swing, experienced volunteers allocated the more technical aspects of the work being supported by the first timers. Fred, Mark and Richard as leaders at various times during the week, ensured a happy camp with everyone enjoying themselves; progress on the pump and dry well structure gave us a good start for the remaining work. Mark managed to order rain for the traditional Bar-B-Q on the Friday: it did clear up later and we all emerged from the hall, Mark endured the rain and continued preparing the food under an umbrella. Once again my thanks on behalf of the society for a very good camp which achieved all the tasks and some of the “extras”. We have set ourselves an Autumn completion for the civil engineering. Contracts for pumps and power supply will follow, ready for a spring 2005 opening. Peter Redway SHCS Work Party Liaison. Dear Editor, On Saturday afternoon (31 July) the latest issue of Navvies (206) plopped onto my doormat. Nothing unusual about that except that the date-stamp on the envelope was 5:35 pm, Thursday, July 29th. And I live in California! Barely two days to go almost 6000 miles! Is this a record or what? Jeremy G Frankel Whether or not it’s a record, it’s a damn good opportunity for me to remind all overseas subscribers to remember to add at least enough to their minimum subscription to pay the cost of overseas postage. ...Ed
Camp 0418: Burton-upon-Trent National Waterways Festival site services camp, 23rd August – 2nd September 2004 (or ‘a good reason not to get pissed at New Year’) This all started at the 2003 New Year Camp on the Mon & Brec: foolishly at some point just before midnight I volunteered to assist Moose with leading the 2004 National camp…foolish boy. August finally rolled around and after a number of National Festival meetings in Burton, Suzie and I finally arrived on the Shobnall Field site on Sunday 22nd. Apart from being handy for the Marston’s Brewery (more on this later) the site also featured a higher than usual number of gas and water mains and a cycleway… lots of things for the forks to avoid! The WRG compound was effectively sorted by the time I arrived, Moose, Maria, Bungle, Marcus and others had been on site for a while already and the essentials like showers and the WRG real ale bar had already been set up. The order for the day was sorting our kit out, a bit of a wander around site with Moose and the acquisition of the radios – comms said we could have 25! Monday
Camps Ed rreepor ts fr om the Bur ton ports from Burton festiv al of beer ud and ffencing encing estival beer,, m mud Tuesday The first full day on site for many of our volunteers and the teams were spread out to start work on the many jobs on our job list, Marcus’s team went off to crash barrier the arena, Harri T’s went off to fence the traders car park, Richard’s team “the incompetents” finished off the campsite fence, and Maria’s squad tarted up the site fence line by putting up sheeting. The end of the day saw Marcus trying to keep the main access roadway passable with terram and wood chippings, and almost everyone else sheltering in marquees in between bouts of night fencing. Evening entertainment was a ride around Burton in the new minibus, ably driven by Bungle and a trip to the cinema. Moose and I ducked out of this one and planned the next day’s activities.
The official first day of the camp and volunteers Wednesday started to dribble in, first job for the more insane ones was to secure the WRG compound fence Traditionally a quiet day at Nationals – but not this properly and then make a start on the campsite year! Due to the state of the access track, all the fence. Ah the joys of the National – arsing around hired in kit (tables, chairs, generators etc.) had to with the same section of fence five times over the be dropped in the leisure centre car park and then course of one weekend! As it had started raining fork-lifted in. (after a radio request for a small forks seriously, precautions were taken to minimise the to help in the car park Daddy Cool was seen walknumber of vehicle movements on site; effectively ing off with a pair of kitchen forks to help). The this meant that Vulcan Dave chauffeured every jobs for most people on site were tarting the place volunteer and their kit from the leisure centre car up: Banners were put up by Harri, Richard Cool park to the sleeping tent in a Bradshaw. Evening spent most of the day up a ladder putting banmeal involved Moose and myself stitching up our ners over gates, kit was ferried in from the car team leaders for the rest of the week: these were park, the fence line behind the bar was re-erected chosen on the “who’ve we actually got here at the after it blew down and in the afternoon it was all hands to the pumps to get the gear m o m e n t ? ” in. The evening entertainment was a method. Marcus, brewery tour, just to prove that WRG Harri T, Richard can organise a piss-up in a brewery. Cool, James ButUnfortunately as a large number of ler and Maria got people were still slaving away on site the short straws it was a slightly smaller number who and team memmade it to the brewery (only 25!) but bers were ranonce there we were treated to a top domly assigned to tour of the whole site (including the them. Evening ensite of a large tank of beer explodtertainment coning, I don’t think that one was sisted of the planned) and ¾hr free drinking time! safety talk and Much later we left with pretty much more use of the all the beer available from the shop: WRG bar (Thanks apparently they’ve never done so to Maria for sorting this!). Banners going up all over the festival site much business after a tour before!
Much like Wednesday really: more banners, tables and chairs went out to the marquees, and the bar trucks got stuck on the trackway... which meant that it was time to get the Land Rover collection out! The craning of the land-bound trade boats that had been rescheduled to today from Wednesday was cancelled due to the state of the ground – it was likely we would have had a sunk crane as an exhibit otherwise! That evening the bar tent opened with only a limited selection of beer – much like the rest of the weekend really!
Things seemed to be running quite smoothly now: at one point WRG 1 and 2 and Site 1 and 2 were seen sitting down and drinking coffee – in that whole time the radio didn’t bleat at us once! Sunday was also the first heat in the jeep-towing competition – all the WRG work teams were entered but the Bosses’ Team (Moose, Al, Neil, Gav, Daddy Cool and myself) managed to win that day’s heat, beating the Medics by 0.15 seconds. An added job in the evening fencing session was creative adjustment of the fence around the theatre to allow the WRG Boat Club AGM to occur (creative as we were running short of fencing!) Next year can it be at some point on the bar side of the night fence? Sunday evening was spent playing “get the loo tanker on and off site” a game involving 5 red shirts, a forks, a stuck tanker and 2 suicidal blue shirts, we won in the end. In conjunction with this a small problem with the main poo pipe serving the campsite was dealt with by Marcus and his crew who were then rapidly dispatched towards the showers.
Friday And we thought Wednesday was manic! The jobs list for this day shows 17 different items that were completed by the teams – everything from screening off toilets to nailing down the fencing more! Marcus and his team did a sterling job at completely re-laying the roadway in wide terram and chippings, it went from looking like the Somme to a nice rustic path in no time! Harri T’s squad then went on to traffic management for the rest of the day while everyone else was on site making the place look neat or shuttle-running stuff in on Bradshaws. The evening entertainment for me mainly consisted of negotiating with car parks over how many people they needed, the car park site had changed and neither Moose nor I knew anything about it! Saturday
Monday The second heat of the jeep pull was held, this time the medics managed to beat us but the worsening conditions meant our Sunday time was the fastest – the prize, two crates of Marstons Pedigree! Monday evening was spent in the usual charge-round-site-pulling-stuff-down, and by 8pm almost all the tables and chairs were in and the two bradshaw teams were getting very competitive! The evening was spent in fixing a slightly larger problem with the poo pipe and drinking the free beers donated to us by NWF: pity we were down to the nitrokeg in the bar. Back in the accom a game of strip frisbee by disco ball light developed: it is reported that MKP lost/resigned after getting down to his trousers; apparently Womble is expert at tossing in the dark….
First day of the festival, the night fence came down, the car parks and the arena were manned all the other jobs were done. Surprisingly we were ready by 10 to let the public in. The rest of the day ticked along nicely apart from the usual problem of finding people to relieve the car parkers and height barrier operatives – you could hear the tumbleweed blowing through the WRG accommodation on the cooks radio! Yep, another of the usual National problems – we knew we had fed 100 people the previous night but could we find anyone to go out on car parks? Admittedly about half of the of those people were running the various WRG stalls (Appealing Food, WOW, the WRG publicity stand, NW, BITM, KESCRG), and some were ‘blue shirts’ but the sheer number of jobs we had to fill severely strained the available manpower. Saturday evening was spent in the small bar on site, I managed to ring ahead and get a pint before last orders after sorting the worklist out. Helping with WOW children’s activities
The height barrier crews – all the people who volunteered to sit at the far end of site and let people in, another job that got sprung on us at the last minute. And finally Moose for being possibly the best leader you could want for the National – he only sacked me once as well! The whole team idea for running the National was his, it certainly made the leadership job easier as you only need to keep track of the teams, not all the people!
Tuesday Lie-in day, breakfast at 8.30am instead of the 7.30am it had been the rest of the week. Jobs for the day – break down site, basically pull in everything that wasn’t nailed down. The traditional evening BBQ went down very well, the main eating marquee was decorated by Nina & Co as the “Moose’s Ed” pub – pity not many of the WRGies got to eat inside it. The whole theme of the party was Beer, and a wide variety of costumes were made up to go with it – did anyone see “Bear Arse”? Silly gifts were handed out to all those that had done anything noteworthy or particularly daft over the week and the general merriment went on until the wee hours.
A lot of people asked me “would I do the job again?” after a week to recover I think that I would, but not next year! Ed Walker
Another late-ish start, the last of the site was pulled into the TARDIS, fencing was knocked down and en-stillaged, kits were packed and dispatched and a final litter-pick was carried out. The Bradshaw teams were getting really competitive by now and a game of “Bradshaw tag” developed which we believe the forks lost. We were down to the last 20 volunteers on Wednesday night so dinner was fish and chips; having discovered the cheese board from the previous night hiding in one of the fridges, more port was ordered and we holed up in the cleared kitchen to knock it back. Thursday The last day, our compound fence was packed up, the final kit was packed and the poo pipe was cleaned out and dismantled – much to the concern of the school kids using the sports centre! A quick shower for all and we went our separate ways, me with NJF on its last run to Bungle’s Dad’s place in Reading. Well this was certainly different to being assistant leader of a “normal” camp – far more stressful trying to keep up with everything going on and making sure all the jobs happened on time. I couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of people: Firstly the team leaders - Marcus, Harri T, Richard Cool, Maria and James whose ability to go off and do a good job with the most vague of instructions made our jobs so much easier. The cooks: Al and Neil for being dinner chefs, the lunch ladies, Frank for cooking the breakfasts and Al, Neil, Sue, Jude and Alan for the Tuesday night BBQ. Site 1 & 2: Nigel and Rick, they always had an answer – I don’t think I could do your job! The Lavender Crew – for just getting on with it, another job we didn’t have to worry about! Gav for running the paperwork and accounts for us (and for forks driving as well), someone else who got stitched up while drunk! Daddy “Forking” Cool for driving the forks all week, we couldn’t have done the job without you.
Marking out sites for all the exhibitors
And from the Leader... I totally agree with Ed’s comments regarding the thanks given out to various people: it was a tremendous team effort that everyone should be proud of. It was hard work but all the feedback I have had back from people is how well the event was. The teams idea was mine: it was another reason why Ed and I tried to get people to book on in advance - it was the only way we could work out teams. My personal thanks go to everyone who made the ‘National’ possible: this includes the Blue shirts, for without them the Festival wouldn’t happen. Biggest thanks must go to Ed, who listened to what I was proposing and was not fazed by the work - I knew I had made the correct choice. Ali and Neil for all the hard work in the kitchen and even on site. Gav for helping me when it was needed and for really being Gav. I’d better mention Maria who suffered a year-long ‘National’ - from when I was first asked to even now. Would I lead the National again? Yes I would: I know a couple of areas I would change, but yes I would do teams again. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden
Camps “And tha thatt’s not all”: mor moree camps and camp rreepor ts to come ... ports come... If you’ve just read through all six WRG Canal Camp reports in this issue, you could be forgiven for thinking that that’s got to be pretty much all there is to say on the subject until next year. But you’d be wrong... For starters, not all of the Camp Reports from WRG camps actually arrived in time to make it into this issue. We await a report from the Grand Western Canal Camp featuring ‘Topless Thursday’...
Not forgetting that the camps in the WRG booklet weren’t the only ones that happened this year. As Wey & Arun Canal Trust report... This year’s WACT summer camp organised by Stuart O’Hara, and ably assisted by Winston Harwood, was at Lordings Lock, near Wisborough Green, West Sussex. They moved more than 2,000 bricks to the site ready for the brick laying to start, dug a trench for the next stage of the project, backfilled around the new arches leading to the aqueduct and painted inside and outside the waterwheel. This last job was completed by Sam Doe who ended up painting in temperatures over 90 degrees (there are some amusing pictures of Sam’s head poking out of the middle of the wheel). The work also included levelling the area around the lock and waterwheel and laying top soil ready for the area to be grassed and made ready for visitors. The 12 volunteers came from all over the country - Portsmouth, Devon and even Scotland - and stayed at Kirdford Village Hall. Social functions during the week’s camp included a bowling evening in Horsham and a BBQ on the last evening.
And we hope that WRG BITM will send a report from their summer camp on the Wendover, to go with the pictures we’ve already received...
...and one from the Basingstoke Canal...
...not to mention the Lichfield, the Wilts & Berks September Camp, and the first week of the Lancaster and the Mon & Brec camps. We hope to have reports from all of these in the next issue PLEASE SEND THEM IN SOON!
OK, so there’s still half a dozen camp reports to come in. But apart from that, surely this is the last we’ll hear of Canal Camps for a little while? Not quite, as Gavin Moor explains on the next page...
Canal Camps: A Thank You
As the summer draws to a close, many of you may think that that’s it for Canal Camps. Well, we still have two more yet to go this year... a week on the Grantham in October and, of course, the ever popular New Year camp - this year on the Wilts and Berks. In addition, we have also started work on pulling together the 2005 canal camps schedule.
...and then ther e’ xt yyear’ ear’ there’ e’ss ne next ear’ss pr og ganise ... prog ogrramme to or org anise... Have you been leading or assisting on camps for more years than you care to remember?
None of this year’s camps would have been possible however, without the tremendous support from the Leaders, Assistants, Cooks and countless others that have worked so hard to make them happen - from the initial site visits, preparing the packs of PPE and despatching T-shirts, through to the help gratefully received in moving vans and trailers around the country. On behalf of all who have attended a canal camp this year, a huge thank-you to everyone that has volunteered their time to help with the running of this year’s camp season. So...
Have you previously led camps but haven’t done so for a while? Are you an experienced Assistant Leader who feels ready to lead? Has someone mentioned (or do you just know) that you’d be good as an Assistant Leader? Are you simply interested in doing some more to help canal camps run next year?
THANK YOU !
If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then we want to hear from you.
Hopefully you have enjoyed your time on the canal camps you attended and will agree that a lot of productive work was successfully completed, whilst having fantastic fun in a safe environment. Inevitably, however, the schedule didn’t run quite according to plan and it was with a heavy heart that some camps had to be cancelled. It is never an easy decision, but if the volunteers to run the camps aren’t available...
Canal Camps need people like you to make certain that they operate as smoothly as possible. We are keen to involve new volunteers in addition to many of the ‘usual suspects’ that we so often rely on, so please get in contact. Even if you think we’ll be in touch at some point, drop us a line to let us know you’re happy to volunteer for 2005.
And so to 2005 - as mentioned earlier, the site visits to assess potential camps for the 2005 season are now being booked and by the time you read this Adrian and I will be starting to recruit leaders and assistants for next year’s canal camps.
For those that are considering getting more involved in Canal Camps, and for those that have been involved for some time, we intend holding a weekend event in the near future. Currently there’s no agenda, other than to find out how we can better support you in the planning and running of canal camps, and also to explain in more detail to potential leaders and assistants exactly what is involved in running a camp. To make this event effective we need your ideas, as well as offers of help to run the event so please let us know what you’d like to see included. We’re not sure yet of the format of this or when exactly it will be, but we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
Celebrating the New Year in the traditional way on the Mon & Brec last year. Do you want to see 2005 in on the Wilts & Berks? If so, book now!
Thanks again to everyone. Gavin Moor To get in contact with Gavin and Adrian please contact them on: Gavin.Moor@wrg.org.uk AMF@wrg.org.uk
Logistics Jen ggets ets to ggo o on a Canal Camp at last W oohoo!!! Woohoo!!!
Thanks to Lynn Parsons, who was at the ‘National’ this year, for getting the (Royal?) Air Force to donate, amongst other things, a Tirfor winch and a rather sizeable ammo box. Thanks to Womble for arranging our training weekend every year. Thanks to Gav and Adrian for sorting out the leaders for the camps… you try cajoling people into leading a camp for a week or two!
Gone Digging! All I seem to have done for the last year (it feels like longer - maybe it is…) is bounce between work and WRG design stuff (mainly work!). Even the paint jobs didn’t get a look-in this year! But for the first time in a couple of years, I actually managed to get out on a proper camp… a getting down and dirty camp! Playing away in the summer is what I like best, it’s the reason why I started digging… to go digging! So I’m a much happier bunny now! Despite the fact I turned up ‘on my way home’ (thanks for the lift up in RFB, James) so wasn’t actually planning on staying I couldn’t resist a few days digging… thanks to Alan for the use of his ‘one of many’ spare pairs of boots (plus thanks to Jan and Bob for locating another pair should I not have any joy elsewhere!), and MKP & Jude & Bex for lending me some bedding. When plans changed (they changed minutes after I got home, D’oh!) I turned down some other work to go back again! Thanks to all the guys who were on the Lichfield camp for making the week more than just worth going on! I can finally say I’ve been on a camp this year! Woohoo! But enough of my personal delights at going camping, back to the point … I’m sure there was going to be one somewhere in here! I decided to start with some nice bits for a change: (Please note this is in no particular order of importance!) Thank you to Martin for doing Navvies which is a continuously thankless task, having to chase articles every couple of months! We do appreciate it honestly! And thanks to WRG Print a.k.a. John & Tess Hawkins who spend hours at the bottom of their garden… gardening being something they rarely have time for! And of course there is lots of time spent collating, envelope sorting etc. Thanks also to those who go to Navvies assembly nights too. Thanks to Dan for his very much behind-thescenes but ever more vital role of creating/sorting/updating the wrg website. Good job, Dan!
Thank you to Mitch (I think?!!!!!) for suggesting we did the calendar and for sorting it, and arranging the bizarre weekend that saw twenty-four of us stripping-off for a good cause… at least you were one of them, Mitch! Thanks to Derek Pratt for taking ‘those photos’ for us and giving his time, quite literally, freely! Thanks to Alan Lines for (yet again) giving me a CD of the year’s photos. Fantastic. I just need everyone else who took pictures on this year’s (or even previous years if you haven’t already sent them in!) camps to send me either a CD with them on or an email with the odd one or two attached please. Ta. A huge thank you (and equally huge apology!) to Roger Jeffries for letting us use his land to put our containers on. Tom quite rightly pointed out our continuous error… but we still thank him and Rachel for being very hospitable and accommodating whenever we turn up! And whilst on the subject of containers, thanks to Harry for ‘sorting’ them. Thanks to ‘Vulcan’ Dave for the donation of a fridge… We are now inundated with fridges so I think we could probably stop now but if anyone has a decent freezer of the ‘single-storey’ size they are wanting rid of, please can you let me know. Thanks to Bungle and Malcolm for doing endless trips back and forth with plant/ Sammy/ whatever else needs shifting across the Universe (!) etc. etc. A huge thanks to Mike and Jude for dedicating so much of their lives to WRG… we’d be stuck without you both. Still don’t know how you manage to fit it all in with your jobs either! And thank you to all the camp leaders, assistant leaders, cooks, van & trailer/ minibus movers, anyone who went on a camp this year, people who’ve given us money, and of course those people I’ve doubtless forgotten to mention!
Phew, that’s probably the longest list of thanks in Navvies ever! But I just thought it was time someone voiced the fact that we appreciate people’s efforts! So if anyone’s still awake and still reading this, now might be time to switch off! If you do not wish to listen to “Just Jen whingeing on again” I suggest you don’t worry your pretty little head about reading on. If you do however you may find you learn a thing or two… maybe. Right, here we go! I was really quite amazed when I spotted this one… Most of the time I’m lucky if any mileages are filled in at all so I suppose I should be thankful! But new for this year we had mileages written down in kilometres in a few cases! It appears I have to spell it out for some of you, “M.I.L.E.S.” Please! Got it? I hope so. Call me picky (I know many do!) but since when have kilometres actually meant anything?! Kilometres are for tacho discs! Talking of those, not so much a whinge as a pointing out, please can you send your completed tacho discs to Head Office and not to me, thanks! Whilst on the subject of vehicle reports, please note down the tyre pressures and if they are wrong do something about it. In case anyone else is wondering, digital tyre pressure gauges can be found in both of the vans, i.e. RFB and VOJ, as they have indeed been for the last few years. And the new very yellow power packs were purchased primarily for pumping tyres up to their required pressure so please use them (but they have turned out to be even more useful)!
Logistics Any one seen a str irf or Anyone straay TTirf irfor winc h rrecently? ecently? winch The kit lists have come back with ever more interesting marks and I’m not sure that hieroglyphs even describe them! And the point of filling in the lists at the start of the week as well as the end is so that YOU know what you had and what YOU need to go and look for! Eeh! You know the phrase “The right tool for the right job” by now! Well, it seems not all of you do as various bits of stone masonry kit have been used and/or abused and have been rendered useless. You will be so pleased to know that you will also get a kit list for these items as well as the usual set! And I look forward to receiving a new language with that one!! Anyone seen any heritage pointing tools wandering around away from their kits? We’re missing at least two of them and they’re not cheap by any means! So if any of you spot some hanging about where they seem a bit out of place please can you let me know? Ta.
In fact filling in of my paperwork seems to have almost completely gone to pot!
One bit of paperwork that hasn’t found its way back to me (and isn’t meant to!) is the new accident book. The completed forms are hopefully finding their way to Head Office but the problem I have noticed is that these books seem to disappear out of the First Aid boxes. If you take them out to fill in, which I have no problems with, please can you (a) keep them in their plastic wallet with their pen, and (b) return them to the first aid Did you inadvertently take one of these kit when the form’s com- away from Burton? If so, Jen would like to hear from you... pleted.
And missing things leads me on to where on earth did that Tirfor go at the ‘National’ – last seen by the fence behind Kit B trailer on the last Wednesday of the camp. Now there’s no point in people finding things to donate if they’re then going to go walkies before they get to where they were supposed to go! If anyone knows the whereabouts of this Tirfor please let me know asap. Ok, whinge over! Eeh, that was a long one. I’m hoping my next article will be a bit more frivolous and entertaining! But then that’s up to you lot really! Logistics – Tool Painters and Lily Gilders Just Jen email@example.com
Wendover Rog er Da vis brings us an unlik ely oger Davis unlikely tale of vicar posts ... vicarss and mile mileposts posts... A clerical coincidental con-junction?!! I don’t know who coined the word “happenstance” but it seems to be the right word to describe a series of extraordinary happy chances that will soon lead to a happy conclusion. That will be the return in early August of the original Grand Junction Canal Company first Mile Post of the Wendover Arm that has been missing for over thirty five years. It once stood by the over-bridge at Bulbourne Junction on the Tring summit where the Arm feeds the GU main line.
Independently and unknown to each other both became much involved in all matters relating to The Cut. Ian acquired the working boat Whitby, a large GU Northwich built motor. This he restored to working order and among other trips carried coal to Croxley under the direction of Nicholas Hill in the late1960’s. Roger and family (Sara, Liz - now Dr - and Stephen) joined Dunstable & District Boat Club in 1979 with a very second hand 15ft GRP cruiser Lady Jane Bray. This was the first of a succession of boats culminating with the Josher tug Sara No 5 often seen at the WAT Festivals, sometimes as base for Roger as Harbourmaster. In 1996 to publicise the Wendover Arm Trust Restoration Appeal she loaded at Heygates Mill on the Arm the first cargo of flour since commercial carrying days to be taken away by water. This was then carried to the IWA Black Country National Festival as a gift from WAT and was formally presented by the then Chairman, Roger Lewis, to the Mayors of Dudley and Sandwell.
Now, back in 1968 whilst nb Whitby was moored This curious saga begins nearly fifty years ago at Marsworth junction Ian, when using the local rubbish disposal, found when two young men to his surprise, abanwere both theological studoned and in the scrap dents training for the Anbin, an original cast iron glican priesthood at a GJCC mile post the inmonastic college in Notscription on it indicating tinghamshire. The place that once upon a time it was called Kelham where had stood at the Wendothe first, Ian Cook, began ver Arm/ GU junction. his five years of training Weighing in at well over in 1958. Two years later a hundred weight it could he was joined by the secbe useful as ballast perond, Roger Davis. They haps?! One thing Ian got to know each other was sure of and that was quite well – indeed at that it should not be lost one time they shared a to posterity. Maybe there student room - but there could even be a hope is no recollection of that, one day, when intershared interest or deep est and economics conversation over caallowed, it might return nals, boats or waterways to its former location and in those far off days! In function. No one ap1963 and 1965 respecpeared to know by whom tively the two were duly or when the junction Ordained and went their mile post was removed. separate ways, Ian to What was rather more Buckinghamshire and clear is the prevailing then eventually to spend policy that pertained for most of his ministry in the disused waterways in West Midlands, whilst the late 1960’s - demonRoger after starting in strated by this historic arEast London ended up tefact being not far from the GU, first discovered discarded on at Eaton Bray in Bedforda scrap heap some disshire and then a few tance from its rightful miles south as Rector of place. The Wendover milepost as rescued... Berkhamsted.
When the mile post was saved from the melting pot by Ian, the Arm was heavily silted, barely navigable to the Little Tring pumping station and did not even feature in the BWB publication “The Facts about the Waterways” although it still supplied water to the Tring summit from Wendover via the Marsworth reservoirs. So on some twenty three years to 1991. Roger and Sara Davis now with twelve years’ boating experience decided to take the plunge and commission their dream boat to float a RN DM2 engine! Whilst searching around the Midlands for their ideal builder they called by chance at Simon Wain’s ‘yard’ – actually a field near Stretton Aqueduct on the Shroppie. After working some years with Warwickshire Fly BC and then with Roger Fuller, Simon had recently set up on his own and had just completed and launched his first Josher replica tug shell. Seeing this super boat they realised they need look no further, especially as Simon had a few months clear before his next definite order. They were just finalising the deal when came THE CO-INCIDENCE.
Roger told Ian of his involvement in what were then the early days of WAT and their long term dreams of restoration. But there the matter rested until a few months ago. Roger’s boat came back to DDBC near Marsworth for fitting out over the next ten years before moving at Roger’s retirement down West to the Somerset Coal Canal – but now recently and sadly sold on and renamed Phoenix. Ian’s Cotswold is still moored at Stretton. Both have many thousands of lock/miles in the log. As a result of the unremitting efforts and enthusiasm of the WAT stalwarts aided and abetted by various WRG camps, weekends and individuals over twenty years, very soon the re-opening/rewatering of Phase 1 Restoration of the Arm will be celebrated. It occurred to the now boatless Roger and Sara who have been members of WAT since its earliest days that one way they could appropriately help mark this great achievement would be to see if, in partnership with Ian, they could put that milepost back. Negotiations began. A word with WAT Chairman, Bob Wheal, early this year and his check with BW soon revealed that this proposal would be warmly welcomed by all involved and so matters were duly put in hand.
A vaguely familiar figure who had been observing the scene from the towpath opposite came over joined the conversation. After the usual courtesies the penny dropped and mutual recognition achieved – it was after all nearly thirty years since the last meeting of former students, now clerics, and Roger had acquired a beard (duff razor on the L&L)! Amazingly it turned out that Ian was there because he too was anxious to enquire whether Simon could build him a boat just like the one Roger and Sara were finding so irresistible! So in due course both had their boats built – almost twins except that Ian’s had a Lister HR2 to make the right noises! It was during the final stage whilst Roger was fitting the RN in his boat just before launch and the maiden voyage back to Marsworth that he stayed for a few nights at Ian’s home a few miles away. Whilst there Ian showed him his GU trophy the Wendover Junction mile post safely tucked away in his garage awaiting resur...and as restored and reinstalled at Bulboune rection.
Now Prebendary Ian and Canon Roger hope WAT and all boaters will approve the end result of this very curious clerical coincidental conjunction! It has given Ian much pleasure to donate the milepost for its return to its original place and Roger to refurbish it and provide the commemorative plaque. They were passed into the care of WAT at this year’s Tring Canal Festival at the end of May. Permanent reinstallation of the milepost and plaque at Bulbourne Junction were formally marked during the BITM Wendover Camp Week on Monday August 2nd at 7.30pm. Now no one will have any excuse for not knowing how far it will be and in what direction to boat (eventually) to Wendover Town Wharf. Roger Davis
London WRG Ed brings us tw elv twelv elvee months’ ne ws fr om the ca pital... news from capital... London WRG News I’m not sure when the editor requested me to write a round-up of what London WRG have been up to in the last year, but seeing the articles from BITM and KESCRG last time sort-of brought it to a head (a case of often imitated?). Well here we go then…. Back in the mists of time (well last September) London WRG held our usual post-’National’ big dig (for some reason this one is always big, don’t know why!) and 30 of us under Tunji and MKP’s leadership hit the Uttoxeter canal at Froghall. This weekend mainly involved completing odd jobs left over from the summer camp; shifting stones with Acrows, felling trees, woodwork and path laying. The major point that springs to mind from this dig is the accommodation with beds and showers, truly luxurious! The only problem being the showers are a short hike through the woods from the beds and the pub was a longer hike in the other direction. The dig report also mentions something about “van humping” - further details withheld to protect the guilty.
Three weeks later and Sal was leading a crack squad on the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal. The work was definitely mixed: controlled tree-felling at Newent, canal re-profiling below House lock, burning-off of a large amount of brush left in the canal bed, exposure of the Ell Brook Aqueduct to allow structural checks, and possibly the most enjoyable – destruction of an old caravan. Yep, it took four London WRG members three hours to reduce the caravan to a small pile of scrap metal and a SMALL and CONTROLLED bonfire (Tim out to prove something?). Definitely a fun dig, another large group of people out meant we had to borrow minibus GCW for the weekend. At the beginning of October, while a few mad people were throwing themselves off the Falkirk Wheel a small bunch of LWRGies headed off to Moose & Maria’s boatyard to lavish some TLC on the kit. In between grinding concrete off brick trowels, bodging shovels, re-shafting mattocks, sharpening everything in sight and painting anything that didn’t move red-and-white we managed to sit and put the world to rights. A week after this and it was Aileen’s turn to organise the weekend, Pewsham on the Wilts & Berks was the site and another heavily loaded van headed down there on Friday night from Waterloo. The main job for the weekend was Moose’s favourite: scrub bashing! While a large group disappeared off leaving a trail of devastation in their wake, a smaller (More select? Maybe not, one of them was Marcus.) group started to put in a culvert underneath the new cyclepath. It was about this weekend that the term “ looks like a Bob’s hit it” was coined, to describe what’s left after Bob Metcalfe passes through a forested area. The beginning of November saw London WRG supporting the main WRG Bonfire Bash as usual. A major mix up involving van keys, the police and my house-mates meant we were later arriving than planned – this didn’t stop us doing serious damage to the beer stocks though! On site we split ourselves between pipe laying at St. Johns (Why do we always get the deep sections to do?) and scrub clearance on Ash embankment.
December rolled around and the traditional London WRG/KESCRG Christmas Party was at Froghall. More scrub-bashing, stonepointing, woodwork, black ploppy shifting and other tasks kept us busy on site before heading back to the accommodation for a well earned Christmas dinner and another session at the Steve Davis bar. Sunday started London WRG on the Derby: patching lower wing walls slower but we managed to finish all the jobs OK before crawling back to London. as Borrowash Bottom Lock
And so to the New Year. The first dig of the year was lead by Moose and Maria, again at Pewsham on the Wilts & Berks and again scrub-bashing. This was an absolutely superb dig, a great bunch of people and some of the best scrub that we’ve had to bash in years! With Bob “Human Whirlwind” at the front and Richard “2 Machetes” Cool just behind we cleared a truly vast amount of scrub from the canal line, in some cases ripping the trees out of the ground with our bare hands! January also saw the London WRG AGM, unsurprisingly held in a pub in London. The primary task was to sort where we were digging and who was leading for the rest of the year, around this a few pints were drunk. February, and we were back on the H & G again, this time setting up a site compound on a new site on the outskirts of Hereford, under Tim Lewis’s leadership. Fencing was the name of the game on this weekend; not your common-or-garden National Festival fencing but 6ft palisade fencing that had to have post-holes augered out. While the fencing crew attempted to keep warm by working hard, the machine drivers were laying the compound surface and stockpiling roadstone.
London WRG ...with Bob ‘Human Whir Whirllwind wind’’ and Ric har d ‘tw o mac hetes’... Richar hard ‘two machetes’... The social side of this dig was particularly fun. Getting to the Bleak House pub on Friday we joined in the locals pub quiz and walked off with most of the prizes, while on Saturday a large group of us headed to the WRG Right Tool barn dance: on our arrival one WRG stalwart was heard to say “I don’t recognise those people, but they must be London WRG as they headed straight for the bar!” March saw London WRG heading north to Birmingham to support Aileen Butler on the BCN Cleanup. Not the greatest amount of rubbish to pull out of the canal this year but still a fun weekend – the highlight being trying to figure out where the tea break was going to be next as we were cleaning out the canal so fast!
The end of February and Andi (girl) was leading A small and select bunch headed out of London a TBA weekend, yep The Basingstoke Again! As in April for the H & G again, this time for a pathpart of our Dig Deep commitment we were help- laying session at Aylesford park near Hereford. ing the locals lay the pipe for the St. John’s Possibly the greatest amount of plant on any Lonbackpumping scheme. The weekend involved four don WRG dig meant we could practice our formain jobs: clearing a diversionary footpath around mation digger-driving and dumper-sinking skills. the works (ably carried out by - who else - Moose), Sure, the site was a bit boggy, but despite this relaying the towpath over the already-laid pipe- and the poor weather a large amount of quality line, pipe-laying (obviously) and buffing and wa- path was laid. terproofing the inlet chamber. This last deceptively easy-sounding job involved John, Sal, Sal’s Andy and Richard Cool using power tools in a confined space for most of the weekend. Pipe laying on the Basingstoke always seems to end up with me at the bottom of a trench playing with O-rings; this trench was getting a bit silly though, as it was 2.5m deep! But the work went very well: we managed to lay four pipe sections. [What he doesn’t mention is that we’ve found a cunning way of increasing the number of pipe sections we can lay in a weekend we cut them in half, and lay London WRG on the Wey & Arun Canal: needle-gunning rust scale off twice the number of half-size the bottom of a second-hand swingbridge ready for installation at the pipes. ...Ed] Haybarn site.
London WRG “...supplying bacon sandwic hes sandwiches is the w et vvolunteer olunteer k” waay to gget olunteerss bac back” May is traditionally a busy time for us as we support our friends in KESCRG with running Cavalcade at Little Venice, while also raising money for group funds and the RTFTRJ appeal. Intermixed with this is the usual London WRG curry house trip (ever tried to find a curry house in West London big enough for 20 odd navvies?), a BBQ and the decorated boat competition. Back digging again, it was Nigel Lee’s first attempt at leading a weekend – and boy did he pick the short straw! The Wey and Arun was the target for this weekend and we were working across three different sites. This was another of our Dig Deep projects, where the task was to replace a concrete farm bridge with a swing bridge. First job: demolish the old bridge and restore the new one! So while a team spent a weekend with needle guns cleaning up the old bridge and another team worked at removing an obstinate tree stump elsewhere, a small crew spent its time using an excavator with pecker to demolish the old bridge. Between us we made quite an impression on the bridge before the excavator broke underneath me. The next dig saw a group of LWRGies doing what we do best – no not drinking beer, brick laying! Andy “Kate” Roberts was up as leader for this weekend and the job was rebuilding a chunk of the Lichfield with Essex WRG. [Bricklayers rebuilding the canal with Essex WRG? The mind boggles! What brick-bond did you use - the Basildon Bond? ...Ed] Apart from keeping the brickies happy a ladder recess was put in, old brickwork was exposed and some concrete backfill was poured.
July, and it was back to the Wey and Arun again. Andy (That’s Sal’s Andy - can you tell we have a lot of Andys in London WRG?) led a small but perfectly formed team to complete the demolition of the bridge we’d started work on back in May. Much breaking of sledgehammers and road breakers later, the bridge was reduced to a large pile of concrete, much of which had been turned into an access track. The new site container was christened as everyone hid in it from the weather; this was before Sal painted it up with a nice redoxide-primer polka dot theme. Allan Scott had volunteered to lead the August dig back at the AGM in January; the site was later decided as the Derby Canal. A good turn out from London and with some of our more northerly members joining us meant that 25 people hit site on the Saturday: scaffolding, brick laying, chamber clearance, coping stone moving and more brick laying was the order of the weekend. Ably supported by a top bunch of locals (supplying bacon sandwiches at tea break is definitely the way to get volunteers to come back!) the site was looking much improved by the time we left on Sunday. Looking back at what I have written here, it is easy to see London WRG have been busy over the last year! The next year is shaping up to be just as busy: we tend to have a dig every three weeks with slightly longer gaps around Christmas and over the summer. Minibus transport from London is available for all except a few digs during the Summer Camps programme (when the minibus is otherwise engaged): we tend to leave Waterloo station at 7pm on the Friday and aim to be back in London by 8pm on the Sunday. New volunteers are always welcome and you don’t need to be a Londoner to join us! We have regular volunteers who drive to the digs from places such as Devon, North Wales, Newcastle and Derbyshire – just bring yourself, a sleeping bag and a sense of humour. We also have a social 11 days before the dig at the Star Tavern, Belgrave Mews West from about 7.30pm.
We keep in touch via our newsletter London WRG News, and also via an email mailing list. To subscribe to either of these, and to find out more details of the digs described here and our future work, see www.london.wrg.org.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone Martin Ludgate or Lesley McFadyen on 020 8693 3266.
London WRG on the H&G: setting up the Aylesford site compound
Ed Walker London WRG News Editior “London WRG – Demolition Brick laying, garlic and beer”
BITM weekend on the Basingstoke Canal June 2004 A very small group of us – 10 in total, but only 7 on Friday night. Not sure if this was just due to holidays, or the football matches. I’m told the Brookwood Hotel was much better than expected, with good beer at sensible prices. Loads of space in the hall for us, with adequate washing facilities. I think Pete had to lend us a fridge. Very posh dining table, with comfy chairs. Di stayed at the hall to prepare our food, as her arm is not fully mended yet. With only 6 of us to go to site, we were able to squeeze into just the van and one car, so no problems with the limited parking space on site. We arrived on site just after a lorry had tipped a huge heap of limestone directly in line with the pipeline, so it was clear we couldn’t start laying pipes until after we had moved the heap. In fact we never had time to lay pipes at all. Rachael set to work with the 5-tonne excavator, scraping the surface off the towpath so that limestone could be laid. Ian, Olly, Phill and myself were given the task of piling the canal bank at the tail of lock 8, where it has suffered erosion from the force of water when the lock is emptied. First we had to haul a barge loaded with pipes and piles, so that we could use it as a platform to work from. It was aground, but we got it moving eventually. Seems a long time since we last did any piling, and the memories came back rather slowly – usually only after we had done it wrongly... We got a line of piles in, with a nice curve to follow the line of the brickwork, but this probably wasn’t such a good idea as it made it much more difficult to fit the straight waling bars later. Several piles had to be pulled out again after we found a stray coping stone in the bank underneath them. Rachael dug it out easily, but we needed to use more piles to cover the hole. Once the piles were all in, and driven down to height with the hand-held air hammer, we started on the tie-rods and back-plates. Two-foot lengths of old piling were cut, and Peter Redway drilled holes in them. Hand-digging a hole so that the back plate could be driven down to the same height as the piling looked a mammoth task, but then we realised that the smallest excavator bucket was exactly the same width as a pile, so Rachael came and dug all four trenches for us. She also pushed all the back-plates in just by pressing the bucket onto them. Much quieter than the hammer! Time to pack up and return to the hall, just in time for Di’s excellent meal.
WRG BITM Piling olling and ffishing ishing ffor or Piling,, rrolling star ting handles ... starting handles... On Sunday Phill Cardy repaired the end of the quadrant, where a previous excavator had smashed the brickwork. The decorative blue bullnose bricks had to all be salvaged from the broken remains, as there don’t seem to be any spares left anywhere on the canal. Two boats passed us, going down through the locks and flooding our trenches. NB George had a very distinctive Bolinder engine, and the Christopher James tug had an ArmstrongSiddeley 3-cylinder engine. We fitted the tie-rods and cut and fitted the waling bars. More holes to be drilled. Eventually we were able to fill in the trenches, compacting the soil a few inches at a time. OK so long as the layers were kept horizontal – if you tried to compact up a slope, the engine ran out of oil and stopped. Meanwhile Graham was laying the limestone on the towpath, raking it out and rolling it. Mid-afternoon Rachael and Di had to leave, and I took over the excavator. Perfect timing for me, as torrential rain started soon afterwards, and I was able to shelter in the cab. Near the end of the day, disaster struck. Graham was rolling a foot from the edge, on a third and final pass of this line, when the ground subsided at one side, the roller began to slide side ways, he spun the roller round, and attempted to reverse it away. Unfortunately this did not work, it continued to slide down the bank, straight over our new piling and into the water. Nothing to show but a lot of bubbles! Unable to even see which way up the roller was, we had to finish mooring the work boats and then drain the canal enough to put a chain onto the lifting point and lift it out with the excavator. (Good thing that Pete had ordered a larger digger than usual!) To cap it all, I then had to track the excavator along the newly-rolled section of towpath, carrying the dripping roller. I hope it won’t have left too much of a mess! After everyone had packed up and gone home, I went fishing with a sea-searcher magnet and eventually found the starting handle from the roller. Dave Wedd
Three photos taken by Alan Cavender during NWPGâ€™s camp (see camp report on pages 12-13) at Haybarn Bridge on the Wey & Arun Canal, showing the old bridge abutments being demolished, the first section of the new concrete base being levelled, and the shuttering being set up for the next pour while preparing to lay blocks on top of the first pour.
WRG Boat Club news I'm very sorry that I missed The National, I hear it was a really good one. Even worse I missed the boat club AGM which I am assured went well and everyone had a great time. (Was that BECAUSE I wasn't there?) Nobody stole my job in my absence, so I'm still club secretary. I've been told that somebody took notes so in time I shall be able to produce minutes of the meeting, should that someone come forward and confess. There were some applications for membership so could those applying let me have the completed forms as soon as possible, otherwise I can't contact them. Just think what you will be missing! Speaking of missing out, SUBS are now due, don't let your membership lapse and wake up one morning to find that you have left us! If you don't pay by standing order please send me a cheque for £10 made out to wrgbc. We have a plan which we hope will enable club members to moor together at the ‘National’ next year. You should already have received an application form for Preston Brook and hopefully have followed the instructions. New members may not have received anything because I haven't their addresses! (see above) I am just on my way back from a very successful IWA boat gathering at Bill Fen Marina. The purpose was to raise money to pay for raising a bridge that effectively cuts off part of the Middle Level system. Once the money is there and all the preliminaries gone through it is hoped that WRG will be doing some of the work involved. Could be a good chance for a WRG boat club working weekend especially for members who haven't yet sampled the delights of the Middle Level but would like to. I leave you with a reminder that your annual subscription is now due, send cheques to 236 Station Road, Whittlesey, Peterborough, PE7 2HA xxx Sadie Dean
Navvies news Volunteer anted ffor or olunteerss w wanted Na vvies assemb ly Navvies assembly If anybody is interested in helping then please gives us a ring on 01923 448559 (evenings preferred), or by sending an email to email@example.com. Also to do with the distribution of Navvies, could I please give THANKS from WRG Print for the effort that has been put in by Dennis Cozens over the years for envelope addressing. Dennis has been doing this task for several years, and now because of a house move has had to stop doing this vital job. And so once again an appeal for somebody to take on this job. The stickers are supplied ready printed and then need to be peeled from their backing and stuck onto the envelopes and the renewal slips as required. They will then need to be taken to the Canal Museum on the assembly evening. Once again Dennis, thanks very much from WRG and, of course continuing thanks are due to those people who regularly help at the assembly evenings and to the Canal Museum for the use of the premises. John and Tess at wrg Print.
Container painters wanted We have recently bought two second-hand shipping containers to form a secure storage facility for WRG tools and equipment, which Tom Jeffries’s father Roger has kindly offered to provide a home for on their farm near Daventry. We are currently in the process of wire-brushing and painting them, but (depending on what the weather has been like during the past few weeks) we may still be looking for volunteers on one or more weekends in October to help get the job finished before winter. If you think you may be able to help, please contact Harry Watts on 07889 237834 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Oh no, not another appeal!
No need to worry - it doesn’t involve money; just a short time at The London Canal Museum near Kings Cross to help at our Navvies ‘assembly’ - or should it know be called ‘stuffing’ evening? I try to give people at least one week’s notice, sometimes more, of the pending time and date. These tend to be around the middle of the ‘even’ months; each edition usually takes only a couple of hours or so.
Apologies to anyone who received their Driver Authorisation card late - we just underestimated how difficult it would be to get a Authorising Team together while everyone was away digging. Then we tried to help by prioritising those who were about to go digging which naturally delayed some of the more “winter diggers”. However, by the time you read this, everyone should have their card.
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 e-mail: email@example.com
Thespians wanted? Yes, just possibly. It looks like after taking a year off because we were busy with other things, the WRG Amateur Dramatic Association (WADS) might just re-surface in time to put on some kind of a show at next year’s National Waterways Festival at Preston Brook, near Runcorn. More details (and requests for help) nearer the time. Stamps wanted
The WRG Canal Camps mobile phones: 07850 422156 (A) and 07850 422157 (B)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org as a matter of interest. Editor : Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Road East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266
Coming soon: The return of the
BARN DANCE Following the success of last February’s event in support of the Appeal, London WRG and KESCRG will be organising another Barn Dance at the same venue in Benson, Oxfordshire, on February 19th, to raise funds for the two groups. More details and booking form in the next issue; in the meantime contact Helen Gardner on Tel: 07989-425346 or email: email@example.com for information.
Don’t forget London WRG & KESCRG Christmas party dig Dec 4-5 on the Wilts & Berks (assuming they can find accommodation) Details from Eddie Jones 07850 889249
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).
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 © 2004 WRG Tel : 01923 711114 Registered no 4305322 ISSN 0953-6655
The benefit of hindsight Hindsight is a wonderful thing... although it might not seem so at the time... The story of canal restoration is littered with rash statements by those who either wrote-off restorations as impossible, simply because the canal was obstructed by a motorway, a nuclear power station and half of Swindon, or came up with wonderfully optimistic predictions about how a canal would be open within weeks, when 20 years later it still isn’t. Here are a selection of comments which I hope illustrate what I’m on about... "If I ever saw a no-hoper, this is it" - former WRG chairman Alan Jervis in 1974 on the Huddersfield Canal. "They couldn't preserve a couple of tame cats" Surrey county councillor in the mid 1960s on the SHCS project to restore the Basingstoke. “Unfortunately it looks like after over 4 years and 60,000 miles our faithful minibus NJF is not going to make it to next summer” - MKP, Navvies, Nov 2001.
"Nobody is going to reopen it" - Ronald Russell, 1982, Lost Canals and Waterways of Britain, on the Hereford & Gloucester Canal. "Any prospect of ever again being able to continue the journey by water to Manchester is inevitably remote." - Hugh McKnight, 1975, The Shell Book of Inland Waterways, on the Rochdale Canal. "The Nottingham and Cromford canals can never be restored here [Langley Mill], for their closure was necessitated by mining subsidence" - Nicholsons Guide, latest edition. "That's not a bomb, it's a bedstead!" - Dave the Local on Camp 0311, on discovering what turned out to be a WW2 unexploded bomb. “Camps have always been peripheral part of WRG, and we are no longer interested in running them. There will be no more.” - Alan Jervis, 1984 OK you get the idea? Can any of you come up with any more of these? Go on, trawl through your old canal magazines and see what you can embarrass the current WRG, IWA or BW leadership with. And here’s a challenge - let’s see who can come up with one that will get the current editor of Navvies to admit he was wrong and have to eat his words...
"Englishmen love a lost cause and canal societies positively dote on them, but why waste time and resources... the Wey & Arun is lost and partly built over. Energy spent on it will be wasted and may damage relations with authorities and harm valuable work elsewhere. We must forget the lost causes and concentrate on what we have got; take a practical view..." - M Steiner writing to Navvies in 1971.
As Dr Liz said in her Appeal report: “We tried to advertise it [the calendar] during the illuminated boat parade at the National - let’s just say, I hope no-one was put off buying!“ Above is a photo of the WRG display, which took place in silhoutte form behind a screen around part of the hold of narrow boat Ben; this part of the strip-tease routine appears to involve a pair of knickers and a diamond-tipped bricksaw. No, Liz, I’m sure nobody was put off buying...
Seen for sale on Ebay...
“Item number: 5506110728 Genuine Black Country Canal Water. Starting bid £0.01. Item location: Wordsley. Straight from the heart of the Black Country, your chance to own genuine water from the Wordsley arm of the Stourbridge canal, taken just yards from the world famous Stewart Crystal, makers of the glass tableware for the ill fated White Star liner Titanic. The canals of the Black Country were the motorways of their era enabling industry to flourish during the birth of the industrial revolution. This water is steeped in history and pollutants so is obviously only for decorative or scientific purposes and not fit for human consumption.”
Take a wok on the wild side? Flicking through an old copy of Navvies, I came upon this remarkable quote in a KESCRG camp report: “The wok we had to carry out was both challenging and at times difficult.” So why were KESCRG cooking with a wok? And why did they have to carry it out? Had they set the hall smoke alarms off? Had the fat caught fire? That would at least explain why carrying it out was challenging and difficult...
Sadly it never went beyond the initial bid of 1p.
But it gives me the opportunity to remind readers of the ‘Best described as basic’ and ‘Recipes for disaster’ series that we’ve run in the past, detailing memorable slums that we’ve had to stay in, and great catering cockups that we’ve experienced. Not forgetting ‘Lost in Transit’ - the contribution of clapped-out vans to waterway restoration history. I’m sure there must be countless tales still to be told, so if any of you have any that we haven’t already published, please send them in.
I’m afraid it appears that it was a Navvies typo and in fact it was the work that was challenging and difficult.
The latest idea from WRG catering - appropriate food for the leaders: Camp Leader Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden comes face-to-face with a Moose Pie at Burton. Possibly not quite so appetising if they tried the same idea on a camp led by Helen ‘Bushbaby’ Gardner or Ali ‘Womble’ Bottomley. Not to mention Steve ‘Bollocks’ Paice...
When the WRG Bosses team won the jeep-pulling contest at Burton (above), they were of course just practising for the real thing which began once the traders needed to leave the rather muddy festival site on Monday evening (Below).