avvies N Volunteers restoring waterways No 213 October - November 2005
Wish you were here? waterway recovery group
Contents Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on 3½" floppy disk, CD-ROM, DVD 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 / DVD or as email attachments, preferably JPG format. Send them to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Press date for No 214: November 1st.
In this issue: Editorial Runcorn Locks? Where’s that? 3-4 Chairman’s comment 5 Coming soon the Race Night, the October Camp, the Bonfire Bash and Christmas 6-7 Camp reports from the Wilts & Berks, Wey & Arun and Hereford & Gloucester canals 8-17 Diary Canal Camp and working party dates18-20 Letters to the editor 21-23 WRGSW are a year old! 24-25 More camp reports The Mon & Brec and the Wilts & Berks again 26-31 Logistics on toaster abuse 32 WRGBC news from the WRG boat club 33 Navvies news and Sits. Vac. 34 Noticeboard do you want a dinghy? 35 Backfill the National Water Maze Museum? 36
And next time... ....we hope to include report on which projects are to be supported by the Dig Deep Initiative in 2006, plus reports from the October camp, the Bonfire Bash, and all those other camps - Grand Western, Lichfield, Grantham, Woilds & Berks, Preston Brook festival - that somehow don’t seem to have quite made it to the editor in time to be included in this issue.
A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 (please add a donation if possible) to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorltoncum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for all the latest news of WRG's activities
Cover photo: There’s still time to book for the October camp at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks: Lock 3 is seen nearing completion at the end of the summer camp. (pic by Luke Walker, see report on pages 8-9) Below: As clearance of the lower section of Foxton Inclined Plane continues, WRG Forestry team get to play with a tracklaying dumper.
Here we go again... Just when we thought we’d finally won the battle against new road schemes trashing waterway restoration projects, they’re at it again. And on the very canal where we thought we’d won the decisive battle in the tarmac-versus-waterways war.
Editorial Are the road-builders back to their old ways again?
Those who have been following the fortunes of waterway restoration for a few years will remember a whole series of road construction schemes that threatened to damage the prospects for waterway restoration schemes: the Latton Bypass (Cotswold Canals), the M66 (Rochdale Canal), the Derby Sourthern Bypass (Derby Canal)... Each time, the canal restorers tried to point out the benefits of a restored waterway, and how much more it would cost to reinstate it after the road was built if a bridge was not included in the road construction work. And every time, the road-builders (or their political masters) did their best to avoid it, pointing out that as the canal was not actually navigable they were under no obligation to make any provision for future restoration. Sometimes the eventual decision went our way (as with Latton and the M66); one or two we lost (like Derby). But finally, the case of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals vs the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (now the M6 Toll) seemed to have settled the matter. Sure, the BNRR case actually went against us - it was only thanks to a magnificent last-minute fund-raising exercise led by LHCRT and their great friend and supporter David Suchet that the aqueduct got built - but in the meantime, the publicity surroundinhg this particular case finally led to the government doing something about the root cause. The result was planning guidance PPG13, which stipulates that new road construction schemes have to incorporate full provision for canals under restoration. Well, not quite. That was what we all thought it meant, but unfortunately it doesn’t put it quite so clearly. If you read the exact words, you will find that it only refers to roads that cross canals under restoration, and it is only the new roads themselves that have to incorporate canal crossings. Suppose, for example, you were to plan a road that actually crosses the historic line of a canal twice, but doesn’t cross the diversionary route that has already been identified as a new line for the restored canal. OK no problem. Now suppose that you design the road so that it actually runs along the route that has been earmarked for the canal, not only without incorporating a new canal in the constrution work, but leaving such a narrow space alongside the road that it is almost impractical (and certainly extremely expensive) to put the canal back at a future date. And where your new road crosses existing roads, you plan to put in roundabouts or other junctions that involve rebuilding those existing roads - but you don’t make any provision at all for the canal to pass under these intersections. Because you don’t have to, because they aren’t new roads - just new junctions on existing roads. You might not actually be breaking the letter of PPG13, but you’re not exactly following the spirit of it, are you? Quite frankly, you’re taking the piss. Oh yes, and there’s another thing: what if the road in question is actually intended to eventually be part of the main road system - but is being built initially as a local road to access a new housing scheme? That means that it conveniently sidesteps a whole shedload or rules for road-building (including some more detailed stuff about canal crossings) which are mandatory for trunk roads but only advisory for local roads. Because at the moment it’s only a local road. The road in question is a section of the Lichfield Southern Bypass - and the waterway is the Lichfield Canal: just a mile or so from their current work-site at Tamworth Road where our volunteers have been doing our best to support LHCRT and get a length of canal open, the city council are allowing it to be blocked. And despite LHCRT’s attempts to reason with them - and to raise a petition in support of their objections - detailed planning permission was given in September. This isn’t necessarily the end of the matter - there’s still time to write to your local MP, while David Suchet has returned to the fray, meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister are on the cards, and British Waterways’ chief exec Robin Evans has voiced his dissatisfaction the council’s actions - and BW’s intention to do what it can. But we shouldn’t be having to fight these battles all over again. Is PPG13 not worth the paper it’s printed on?
Runcorn Locks, what Runcorn Locks? I recently returned from The Inland Waterways Association’s National Festival at Preston Brook, near Runcorn. As usual our red-shirt WRG volunteers, the IWA’s own blue-shirt team, and everyone else involved worked very hard to ensure that the event ran smoothly. Despite some wet weather during the run-up the site did not descend into a quagmire, the public turned up, and a good time was had by all. However I was struck by one slight omission. When the site was first chosen, it was soon after the successful IWA 2004 National Campaign Rally held a couple of miles away in Runcorn. The reason why the canal currently ends at Runcorn is that the two (old and new) flights of locks that used to connect it to the Manchester Ship Canal and the attractive but under-used Weaver Navigation - were abandoned in the 1930s and the 1960s respectively. And the reason for siting the Campaign Rally there was to push for the reinstatement of those locks. The main problem facing restorers is that the canal’s route is cut through by a link road built in the mid ‘60s connecting to the then newly-built Runcorn-Widnes bridge. There are plans to supplement this with a second bridge a little further east, and the major roadworks that this will involve are seen as providing the ideal opportunity for this link-road to be rebuilt to provide navigable headroom. A new canal society was set up last year to press for removal of the blockage and reinstatement of the locks, and the Campaign Rally provided a lot of good publicity for the scheme - including signing-up the Mayor as a member of the society. The decision to locate this year’s National Festival on a nearby site looked like providing an opportunity to put some national weight behind an important local and regional campaign issue. Unfortunately, come the event there seemed to be very little going on in the way of actual campaigning for Runcorn Locks. Yes, the Halton Waterways (a partnership involving the Sankey, Weaver and Runcorn Locks societies) had a fine display, and were handing out copies of an excellent publicity leaflet about their waterways that they have recently published with IWA support. But I would have hoped that the press coverage, the opening speeches, the preview articles in the magazines and so on would have been shouting from the rooftops that a national organisation with nearly 20,000 members believes that the Runcorn Locks are important enough to make it worthwhile to bring the country’s (possibly the world’s) biggest inland waterways event there, and to attract hundreds of boaters from all over the country to give their support.
Instead, if there was any campaigning for Runcorn Locks, it was either the low-key, behind-thescenes type (and yes, such work is very important too), or completely eclipsed by a lot of stuff about Lewis Carroll, who was born nearby. Mentioning the locks to various people elicited responses along the lines of the title of this piece. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against people dressed up as giant Alice in Wonderland characters - as you will know from my involvement in WRG entertainments I like nothing better than to help liven up these events with a bit of fun, daft costumes, corny jokes and the like. But especially if we can combine it with a serious message. And I am not into slagging-off the National - unlike some, who see National-bashing as a potential event at the 2012 Olympics. I have often found myself defending the festival against those who think that it lost its purpose when it was no longer of use in fighting canal closures, or who can’t stand the idea of some IWA members actually enjoying themselves at these events, or who genuinely feel that it’s not the best use of limited IWA time and resources. And I don’t side with those who moan that “it’s not a campaign event any-more - it’s just a big fund-rasing bash”: I don’t see why it can’t be both of these at once, or why the emphasis on one or other of these objectives can’t change from year to year depending on the site. But one way I have defended the National is by pointing out its ability to give national support to an important issue: whether a national one (such as defending the canals against asset-stripping politicians, inappropriate development or underfunding) or an important local campaign - such as Runcorn Locks. Remember the 2001 National at Milton Keynes? The proposed Bedford-Milton Keynes waterway achieved all manner of good publicity from the event - including narrow boats on lorries arriving at the Festival from Bedford. Next year the National is back on the Thames. Last time there were comments like “Why hold it there? Nobody is about to close the Thames.” Indeed they aren’t - but they might just be in the process of turning it into the centrepiece of a 300mile Wessex Waterways Network that includes the Kennet & Avon, Cotswolds, Wilts & Berks and North Wilts canals. And one of the shorlisted projects for the IWA’s Diamond Jubilee Grant (see p34) involves rebuilding the entrance to the Wilts & Berks - just ten miles from the Festival site. I feel that at this year’s National we - the restoration movement - missed a trick by not giving Runcorn Locks a bigger push. I hope that - along with all the entertainments, fun and fundraising - the Beale Park 2006 National gives the Wessex waterways projects the big boost that I know it can. Martin Ludgate
Chairman’s comment This Comment could have all been about how groovy the year has been so far and what great progress has been made – about the great partnerships on Mon & Brec and Grand Western, about the epic, epic work on the Wey & Arun, about the huge steps the Wilts & Berks are making, about how good it is to see our skid steer loader back on site, about the lack of panic at the National. But before we deal with that, here is the shipping forecast You may have noticed recently a theme concerning legislation that shouldn’t affect us but does. Unfortunately, here comes another one. The Marine and Coastguard Agency has launched a consultation regarding licensing for operators of work boats (including trip boats) on inland waterways. The legislation appears to be offering two benefits according to the consultation: first and foremost an internationally recognised qualification will enable Tugmaster Fritz on the Rhine to move easily to a job on the Humber with no “freetrade” barriers. Secondly it will offer improvements to Health and Safety. Clearly there is a huge range of boats and operations from huge big rubbish barges in the Thames estuary down to little dinghies surveying puddles in Wales. Currently the consultation suggests breaking it down into two types: really big boats and everybody else. So, assuming we end up lumped with everyone else, it means that in order to take that a small workboat up the canal to access the bridge we are repairing we will now need a licenced skipper. This appears to involve 3 days training, a medical and an examination – yes, a nice man from the coastguard in Southampton is going to assess if you can operate your boat on a ditch 6ft wide and 18 inches deep. He may even decide to waive the requirement to show that you know proper procedures for stowing the anchor, keeping night watch or ensuring you have listened to the shipping forecast! To be fair MCA are aware that they have erroneously landed us in their nets but yet again it is up to us to explain our way out of it. Which we are doing of course. Another interesting discovery during the summer was that the “residential project” guidelines for the Duke Of Edinburgh Award scheme have been revised (or rather removed). For years the DoE book has contained the wise words “candidates will be assessed on personal standards, relationships with others, responsibility, initiative and general progress.” These words have been a tremendous help when our leaders have had to talk to participants about what is expected of them on a canal camp. This year, the scheme decided that, to be fair to the participants, it was not appropriate for them to specify any goals and the onus was now on the project leader to issue any such guidelines.
Chairman Which was a bit of a problem for one leader who wanted to have a little talk one Wednesday and found the candidate was unaware of any goals he was supposed to be working to! So last weekend the WRG Board decided the original guidance was still relevant and we have modified the Camps induction to ensure that what has disappeared from the DofE book has appeared in our safety talk, to ensure that everyone knows what is intended and we can continue our great work with the scheme. One new bit of legislation that does affect us (and rightly so) is the Working at Height regulations. Again this is not particularly new legislation – just smoothing out and tweaking the application of existing legislation. The two most significant points, assuming you were already managing the risks, is that the entirely false “don’t worry if the fall is less than 2m” rule has gone. To quote the new guidance “The old division between low and high falls has gone. The duty is to prevent falls. It is worth noting that there are almost as many lowfall injuries as high-fall injuries.” The second factor is that handrails have moved from 910mm high to 950mm – a blessing for people like me who kept falling over the old ones ! The full details are available from the HSE website: www.hse.gov.uk/falls But l am still being positive: a measure of the success of a good year is the number of projects that are already well into planning the next year by the end of the summer. So while there is no guarantee that next year will be pain free it does appear that quite a few sites for next year are already sorted. Indeed by the time you read this the winner of the IWA Diamond Jubilee Restoration project will probably be known (see page 34) – now that could be a lot of work for 2006! And another, final positive note – at the National it was wonderful to see our Case Poclain skid steer loader back after having a complete refurbishment courtesy of Graham Fitt. Many thanks Graham, and it was particularly appropriate to see it at Preston Brook given that it was first seen by most people at Brentford National in 1986. Yes, nearly twenty years on, a bit of our kit is gleaming like new. These “in kind” donations are very valuable to us and, while not all of them are as major as Graham’s we really do appreciate them. My thanks to all those that help us out. Regards Mike Palmer
They’re off! Well, actually not quite - but by the time you read this they will be almost under starter’s orders.
I refer to the next big WRG event, the fund-raising Race Night to be held on Saturday October 15th at Hatton Village Hall. A whole evening of big-screen horse racing, with a chance to have a flutter, buy a horse and cheer it on in the races, or even sponsor an entire race and watch it from the Royal Box. And all this, including curry supper (non-curry alternative available), for just £5. OK that doesn’t actually include any bets - but you’ll get lots of money when your horses win, won’t you? And anyway it’s all in a good cause - buying equipment for WRG SouthWest. Overnight accommodation is available at the nearby Shrewley Village Hall - with minibuses providing transport between the two - at a cost of an extra £2 for breakfast. To book your place, just send your name, address and phone number, a cheque (pay WRG SW) and any dietary requirements (including whether you are a curry-eater or not) to Adrian Fry at 89 The Causeway, Quedgley, GL2 4LD; Tel: 07976 640962, email: email@example.com.
A full programme of autumn and winter events to tempt you
Next comes the Autumn Camp at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks Canal on October 22 to 29. Leaders Smudge and Taz have some quality lock rebuilding and landscaping work lined-up for you. Then it’s over to South Wales for the Bonfire Bash on the Mon & Brec. The work will be mainly based at Fourteen Locks near Newport, clearing vegetation (ie lots of bonfires!), clearing and realigning the towpath, and completing the boundary fencing - plus extra worksites in Torfaen and Caerphilly. The accommodation will be at the same school that we stayed in the last time the Bash was on the M&B in 2002, and once again we will be laying-in supplies of real ale for the Saturday night. The Bonfire Bash is always one of the highlights of the WRG calendar, so fill in the booking form opposite and send it in now! December brings the annual joint London WRG and KESCRG Christmas party dig on December 3-4 on the Wilts & Berks Canal. This year we’ll be working at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks Canal, on construction work around Lock 3 plus towpath, clearance and hedgelaying up the flight. Accommodation is at the Bridge Centre in Chippenham - the hall in the middle of a roundabout where we stayed when we held the Christmas dig on the W&B in 2002. Contact Eddie Jones on 07850 889249 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details including how to book. Now it’s over to Moose to tell us about the WRG New Year Camp: This is the scrub-basher’s delight - the pinnacle of the year! I have volunteered to lead the camp again. Those who have never been on the New Year camp will not have an inkling why normally sane WRGie people (if that’s possible) go away to the darkest depths of the country (OK, the East Midlands) in the depths of winter to have a dirty week playing on a canal or two. But they do. This year will be no exception: I understand our very own ‘John the Tractor’, alias John Baylis, will be planning to find a devilish bit of work to do. The Site will be on the Cromford Canal, up near Nottingham, the same site as last year. The work will be scrub bashing or as the more experienced will say ‘slash and burn’. You can be certain that we will have a little small(!) controlled (?) bonfire or two! The Accommodation will be at Waingroves Community Hall - again, the same as last year. A nice village hall with a very good central heating system (we had to turn 99% of the radiators off - and there was a bit off snow on the ground outside). The team will be myself as the leader, Maria as the cook, and the assistant is another first timer at assisting: Claire Bedford. Yes, our own Dippy Claire. The Camp starts officially on Boxing Day (Dippy that’s December 26th) and finishes on January 1st. But I have been asked if the camp could start on Christmas Eve if enough people are interested, and the locals agree that might be possible. If you want to come out to play a couple of days earlier, call me. There will be a themed Fancy Dress for New Year (we’ll let you know the theme when we’ve chosen it) Please book on in the normal way via Head Office. If you just want to come for a few days, no problem - just let me know when you are hoping to arrive. Finally on a serious note: if you are allergic to animals, please note that we will have our dogs with us in the accommodation. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden: Tel 07961 922153, email email@example.com And lastly there’s the alternative New Year Camp at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks Canal - see page 34 for details. And that’s it for 2005!
waterway recovery group
NATIONAL CO-ORDINATING BODY FOR VOLUNTARY LABOUR ON THE INLAND WATERWAYS OF BRITAIN
WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash 2005
I would like to attend the 2005 WRG Bonfire Bash on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals on November 5th-6th 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 illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which you 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 7
Camp report Reporting from Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks Camp 12 - Wilts & Berks Canal 30th July - 6th August This was, in essence, the second week of a twoweek camp for us on Locks 3 and 4 of the Seven Locks flight, as BITM ran one the week before. On that camp, we had 25 volunteers on the first weekend and between 12 and 14 during the week, and a tremendous amount was achieved ready for the start of Camp 12. Due to the cancellation of the Mon & Brec Camp due to run simultaneously with ours, we finished up with 22 for this week: panic had we enough work, could we fit them all in on site, not to mention in the accommodation? As it turned out, apart from being a bit cosy in the Foxham Reading Rooms it worked very well, and we managed to get more work done than we had dreamed possible. The teams were divided up, and swapped around to some extent between Locks 3 and 4 (which fortunately are quite close together) doing different types of work. Apart from the wing walls at either end, Lock 3 has largely been completed over the last couple of years. Lock 4, on the other hand, had had little work done on it for some years before the BITM camp last week, and was very overgrown and silted up. So there was a lot of vegetation clearance from the brickwork and digging out some pretty messy sâ€”t from the lock chamber involved.
Apart from Wednesday, when he skived off for a few hours to look after his boat, Jeremy took charge of the Lock 4 team, leaving Luke and myself to sort out the work on Lock 3. By lunchtime on Monday, the Lock 4 group, consisting mainly of Jeremy, David Harris, Helga, Becka, Nigel and David Hudson (with some help from Andrew, Amie and Daniel for a few hours on Sunday) had cleared the vegetation, revealing the poor state of the brickwork on this lock. It has obviously suffered from some movement on the off side, and will have to be taken down eventually almost to the invert. We had the pump running and repaired the leak in the dam at the top end. Clearing the silt also started on the Sunday, and on Monday we moved our hired 7-tonne digger up to the bottom of the lock, where Jeremy proceeded to remove the silt just above the dam there, so that we could pump more water out. He then moved the digger along the lock chamber to start removing some of the infill. Our Dauntsey dumper arrived. Using a scaffolding pole, we determined that there was about 1 metre of silt and clay and bricks to be cleared out of the lock: we were able to lower the digger bucket into the lock chamber, so the human diggers could fill it with rubble and clay for removal. The team was augmented on Tuesday. with the addition of Taz and Sophie, and the clearance work continued. In Jeremyâ€™s absence on the Wednesday, I took over the digger and had to dig an extra sump below the lock to help the water which had collected overnight to be pumped away. We quickly found that as we dug away more silt, the digger bucket could no longer he lowered for enough for the human diggers to reach to fill it, so we had to rethink our ideas: I moved the digger down to the tail of the lock, and dug away some of the towpath side by the lower lock gate entrance, which allowed us to reach down to the invert. We were then able to pump out the excess water with the Honda pump, and the machine bucket was able to remove dumper loads of the slimy stuff. The team were then able to get down into the invert in their wellies and waders - apart from Becka who waded in regardless in her leather boots, so it quickly became impossible to distinguish where boot and sock ended and bare leg began!
On Thursday, a fair amount of water had collected again overnight, which was effectively removed by the Honda pump, with the lift and force pump keeping the water level down, and removing the silt. The team cleared to the end of the gate recesses.
Clearing silt from the bottom of Lock 4
First thing on Friday - before she got plastered with muck again - I gave Becka her first training session on the 7-tonne digger, and I hope that she will take this further, either on another camp or the training weekend next year. The team then pushed on a further 12ft into the lock chamber, before we had to stop work to clean up.
On Wednesday, Luke was in Meanwhile on Lock 3, a differcharge of Lock 3 while I was ent type of work was getting deputising for Jeremy on Lock underway. We started on the Sun4, and bricklaying continued day with our local work party memon both walls - Rob, Krusty bers Alan and Michael first putting and Helga on new bricks, and another 6 courses on the towpath John and Tess on the old wing wall, and then in the afterbricks. The younger continnoon under the ‘supervision’ of gent were introduced to the Ron-the-brick, setting out the intricacies of laying concrete curved offside wall and getting the hollow blocks, and filling them first 4 courses on so both walls with concrete. Ray continued were well started for camp membackfilling behind the lock bers to continue on over the week. chamber wall. John, Tess and Keith (Krusty) backfilled behind the concrete wall After tea, myself, Luke, Di and on the towpath wall up to the existJeremy had to go off to a ing level. A big team consisting of branch meeting, so the rest Mario, John G., Amie, Becka, went off to Swindon to the cinJames Butler, Daniel, David Hudema. son and Andrew moved clay into the offside wall, and also poured Ray used our smaller 3-tonne concrete into the hollow concrete digger to move clay to behind block wall. The same team later the blockwork on Thursday, moved 80 hollow concrete blocks with Daniel and John G sofdown onto the worksite ready for tening it with water and puduse, together with 500 bricks. The dling it in, and Amie, Andrew last job of the day was to put a load and Mario moved clay to be“Becka waded in regardless...” of concrete into the towpath wall hind the offside concrete between the bricks and the blocks, blockwork wall. A big effort before departing to Wootton Bassett showers, re- was made on both facing walls to bring the brickturning to the hail for a superb roast beef dinner work up as high as possible. cooked by Di. Thursday was skittles evening at the Trotting Horse On Monday, Keith, Rob and Taz completed a fur- at Bushton, and Nigel excelled himself, with Amie ther 3 courses of brickwork on the offside wing wall, close behind, until we started on the rounds of uswhilst John G and Daniel cleaned the old brickwork ing opposite hand, one leg in the air, backwards on the offside ready for bricklaying by the exit from through the legs, etc. the lock chamber. John and Tess H cleaned the old On Friday, Rob continued bricklaying on the curved brickwork on the towpath side, and reinstated about wall until lunchtime, whilst everybody else was in8 courses. James, Sophie and Amie cleaned old volved in concrete mixing and filling the towpath bricks ready for re-laying. David Hudson went off wall between the brickwork and blockwork. with Luke to do a number of jobs, including buying a new pair of green wellies after his old work shoes We had discovered the previous evening that tohad died the death the day before, and he actually day was Rob’s birthday, the big 60, so (not having managed to keep them clean until after afternoon tea- had time to bake one) Di rushed out and bought a break. Seven of us were involved in making con- birthday cake, and everyone signed a card, includcrete after lunch and placed it in the towpath wall, ing Rob’s dogs, and surprised him at lunchtime. with Amie spreading the concrete as it went in and After lunch, we filled the offside wall as well. We playing with the vibrator. Andrew and Mario were the finished construction work about 3pm in order to barrow-boys, with myself, Helga and James feedclean all the tools and clear and tidy the site. After ing Jumbo (our big mixer). Everybody came off site our showers, we cleaned all the vehicles ready for plastered from both locks and went off to W.B. to packing up the following day, and we were treated get clean again - in fact they arrived back at the hall to an excellent roast dinner and fresh strawberry so clean that Di didn’t believe they’d actually been trifle to celebrate the end of an extremely successworking - and we enjoyed a great spag bol. ful camp. On Tuesday, Amie, Daniel, Andrew, John G and Mario started puddling clay behind the hollow con- Several volunteers said they would come back on any camp where Di was cooking, because they crete block wall, whilst Rob and Krusty continued enjoyed her puddings and cakes so much! to bricklay, John and Tess started laying part of the old brick wall, and Luke kept the brickies supplied I would like to thank everybody for their fantastic with mortar. We took delivery of another 1.5 tonnes efforts in making this week so successful, espeof cement and a 16-tonne load of ballast. Ray cially Jeremy, who looked after the Lock 4 team so Alldridge was also moving clay and materials up to well, and to Amie, who cheerfully tackled any task backfill behind the towpath lock chamber wall. An- offered, and for the way she got the others working other hard day, so we were glad to get back and well with her. relax with a BBQ in the evening. Rachael Banyard
Camp report A warts-and-all report... well, Hogwarts-and-all actually... “Harry Potter and the Onslow Arms” (or KESCRG on the Wey and Arun Canal Camp 0507: 16th – 23rd July 2005) As the scarlet Hogwarts Express pulled into Billingshurst Station for the umpteenth time that Saturday, muggles stared in surprise as yet more red T-shirted WRGies arrived (some a little late through no fault of their own!). GCW filled in for the thestrals (who were on a well deserved vacation) and transported all to Hogwarts (aka Kirdford Village Hall)... If you are already confused by this report, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is currently available from all good retailers: go and buy it now before reading further. (6 copies turned up on camp all at once!)
That evening was the first of many visits to the Foresters, where Luna Lovegood (Dippy Claire), Hermione and Tonks discovered the delights of the children’s swings and others the delights of Badger. In the words of one wise wizard ‘Beer is everything a Badger should be… brown, smelly and very, very tasty.’ And the amount of Badger consumed of course had no effect on the decision to go to the park and play football in pyjamas that night. Monday saw 64m3 of concrete poured lovingly to create the last section of the base of the lock. The two foot vibrators were a success, as Harry said ‘After half an hour on a vibrator, I was spent’. Dumbledore took Tonks on as the first apprentice bricklayer, whilst the Weasley twins (Pablo and Michael) learnt the fine art of mortar mixing. Wood (Luke), Peeves, Luna and Hermione were kept busy barrowing bricks, as unfortunately noone has invented a spell for moving them quickly yet. As a parting gift, Luna enlisted the help of Hermione and Peeves to conjure up ice poles for the hard workers, which compensated nicely for the milk (and phone) a certain assistant leader had forgotten. Perhaps he was distracted by remembering RFB’s keys, which were in fact supposed to have been left behind at Hogwarts...
Upon arrival, Dumbledore (Ian) and Harry (Purple Steve) welcomed all new students, before showing us the safety video. The cooks (Maureen and Jenny) had done themselves proud, with a delicious welcome feast that was gratefully devoured before leaving to see the site - the new Loxwood Lock currently under construction - and perhaps more importantly the Onslow Arms, where sadly Madame Rosmerta’s mead was not available. Upon returning, Harry Potter fans were disappointed to discover there wasn’t time to finish the book before lights out.
The sun was shining for the first day of term; the Comedy Carpentry Class was not due to begin until Tuesday, so the bits of wood began fooling about themselves with IKEA prep training - as they would continue to do for the rest of the week. Under Professor Roy’s leadership, Hermione, Tonks, Peeves and Dean (Rosie, Loz, Matt - well we could have made you Malfoy - and Joe) lowered the reinforcing for the last concrete base, whilst being showered with sparks from the Stihl saw. Elsewhere Harry led a team who prepared for the concrete pour the next day, profile boards were set up, Lou and Brian started the bricklaying, and melon was greatly enjoyed at lunch.
Putting the finishing touches on the reinforcing ready for casting the final section of the lock base
By Tuesday, the comedy carpentry class began earnestly contemplating the construction of the “Great Ikea Flatpack”… whilst others struggled (some more than others) with cumbersome concrete blocks and mortar mixing. After a dinner of Maureen’s famous garlic (bread) and lasagne, Ruth arrived by the Floo powder network (just look it up!). Then an enlightening boat trip was enjoyed aboard the Zachariah Keppel, in which we learned that McGonagall’s (Dr Liz’s) favourite position is ‘standing up in the side hatch’. Memorable sights were visited such as Baldwin’s Knob Lock (no. 4), ‘Are we going down again?’ - Ginny (Katie), and then we disembarked and walked to the newly built aqueduct and bridge. By Wednesday the bricklaying was speeding along as if by magic, Tonks having been joined by Ginny and Hermione the previous day. Admired by all, the walls were beginning to rival the Great Wall of China. Block-laying also continued apace and shuttering was completed in anticipation of the concrete pour the next day. Large quantities of cakes were quickly consumed by the hungry brickies (and everyone else). Work was finished early so that we could soothe our aching limbs at the swimming pool; the water was substantially blacker when we left, however we were much cleaner so all was well!
The backfill pour commenced early Thursday morning and as Professor Flitwick (Mk2) discovered ‘the worst thing was getting down to my pants… and finding the concrete skid marks’. Other work on site progressed smoothly under Dumbledore’s watchful eye. Hagrid (Eddie) was concerned about keeping the bricklayers moist, as Ginny said ‘it keeps getting stiff so easily’. Broomsticks were not on the kit list, so GCW transported a group of exhausted (but unbroken!) students to see Batman Begins that evening. An early finish was planned for the last day of term, but sadly never materialised. Blockwork and bricklaying was completed, as was the ‘Great Ikea Flat pack’ (finally!), the second was left in a kit of parts for next week’s campers, complete with detailed instructions. Patrick and others filled in the holes in the blocks with concrete, expertly mixed by Hagrid and Eric. Melon consumption had now reached epic proportions, aided mainly by the brickies. In keeping with WRGie tradition, the Readymix washout pit had not been emptied and the concrete had set hard luckily ‘demolition man’ (Luke) had expressed a wish to hit things with a mattock earlier, now he got his chance… Maturity levels being high on this camp, the big clean-up resulted in a water fight - some drenched in orange squash as well as muddy water. To make the most of a lovely summer evening, a barbecue was fitted in around the beer run. While we ate, Dumbledore and Jenny presented awards: Ginny received the ‘Smiley Miley’ award, the Weasley Twins the mortar mixing award, Flitwick the comedy chippy award, Eric strangest sandwich and Peeves got the ‘helping hands’ award. Tonks was nominated for next years’ assistant leader after displaying astonishing slave driver qualities, of which she should be very proud. Giant Jenga made its much awaited entrance, the boys’ team won (but only because the rules had been thrown out of the window). The cereal box game was also a success with three amazingly bendy winners: Dean, McGonagall and Flitwick.
Breakfast was at a far more sensible hour the next morning (hint: can we have it like this every day next year, Ian?). However final checks and packing were completed on time (just) for the vans and kit to be delivered via the double round robin to Wiltshire. It was with great sorrow that we all passed through the barriers at platform 9 3/4 again.
The chamber walls start to go up. And yes - for any brickwork anoraks out there - that really is Flemish Garden Wall Bond we’re using.
Hermione and Tonks (who would like to apologise if this report appears a little cryptic to anyone, however it is entirely your own fault for not having read any of the Harry Potter books yet.) I thought Harry Potter was a waterways journalist. ...Ed
Camp Report Hereford & Gloucester week one: Harri has us stumped...
The main focus of the week was on the Ell Brook aqueduct, located between Oxenhall and Newent, which needed a bit of demolition and then some rebuilding, on one side in stone with courses of increasing depth (to a height challenging even the extra-large stone-saw hired in by the Trust) and with a brick arch around a former, back-filled with stonework on the other. This work was led by Mike Rennolds, with admirable support from son Steve on the mixer and etcs. Little Laura proved vital for the small holes.
Camp 0515: Hereford and Gloucester Canal I apologise for the lack of site detail, particularly as the work focused on a very interesting project, but I’m afraid the cook has once again found herself writing this report without many notes to go on. During the week, I also found my duties extended to keeping everyone informed of the scores from a certain cricket series. You may therefore notice the influence of overexposure to Radio Four LW in some aspects of the following... The glorious August sunshine held throughout this first match of a two match series in the beautiful setting of the Hereford and Gloucester Canal, which meant that at no point did play have to be suspended because of the risk of flash flooding of Ell Brook. The team selected for this match lacked experience at this level, but bowled us over with their enthusiasm. They also made a good attempt to confuse the commentators, with three Lauras, three Daves and two Jameses in the side – nicknames were quickly coined! They could rely, though, on the technical expertise of captain Tom Cutting and the unflappability of vice captain Dave Bradford, with the middle order propped-up by ‘Postie’ James Butler. The toss was used to decide who got first dig at each of the two main tasks in the game, but during the week, everyone who wanted to got a go at both sites, and proved themselves true allrounders.
The other project was excavating and scrub-bashing down at the old station site, under the watchful eye of Postie James, with the ultimate aim of clearing a path back to the aqueduct. Halfway through the week, we decided to hire in a dumper to shift the spoil from the company just over the road. We were asked to take the most care of its £40 yellow flashing light... Various other small tasks on nearby sites were also polished-off during the week (I think!) Clever use was made of twelfth men on Sunday afternoon. We decided we could afford to break Rick and Adrian as they were only going to be sitting behind a desk for the rest of the week, so we set them to it with a sledgehammer, breaking up the large chunk of aqueduct stonework that needed moving out of the course of the stream before we left site. Sunday also saw Postie James and Dan trying out their new kit. They were challenged by Jenny (finally released from training at 114) to wear girly strappy tops and develop embarrassing tan-lines. But it didn’t catch on, fortunately. (no offence lads!).
Removing a large chunk of fallen aqueduct masonry from the Ell Brook
On Wednesday, bad light almost stopped play. As always, it was 5pm and the team were about to come off site when the pipe bung went the only possible way with the pressure of a poundful of water behind it – for six, downstream. Tom, James and Adrian went swimming (thanks to Kate for playing secretary and keeping all the phones and keys dry, and Ross for taking photos!), and eventually solved the problem with a saucepan and some expanding foam (which didn’t all end up on James’s fingers). Throughout the match, red buses were seen going up and down the road regularly, and even round and about on the morning that Adrian rang to warn us that the builders on the next-door plot had got a portacabin firmly stuck in a tree, blocking all access from the main road in Newent. Lunch and tea breaks were taken at regular intervals, and a number of cakes made an appearance – apologies again for the ‘artistic’ chocolate cake ‘chunks’. (memo from cook to self: Grundy tins aren’t non-stick...) At ‘stumps’ each day, the weary team were able to return to the comforts of the pavilion, the palatial Dymock Parish Hall, with its trendy (and very suitable for the demands of a canal camp) loftstyle accommodation. There weren’t many pigeons, but swans did feature on our trip to ‘here’s one we made earlier’ at Over Basin. Other off-pitch activities included a more scheduled swimming trip at a decidedly boring pool, and a limited-overs skittles match against the Wilts & Berks camp. We lost, thanks to a swift decline in form as the evening wore on. Can’t think why that might have been... On the way to the lovely seventeenth-century Cotswold pub halfway between the two camps where we met, we discovered that it helps if the driver follows the instructions of the satnav... (says the only-slightly-bitter driver of the following 17-seater minibus!). Other evenings were spent in the pavilion bar (the village pub handily located next to the accommodation). It is owned as a cooperative by the locals of Dymock, who made us very welcome all week (we particularly enjoyed their Last Night of the Proms spectacular complete with Hog Roast on our first night, when all rounds at the bar - however big - cost £20!).
Top: Mike & Gaz on the mixer. Above: Spanish Laura raking out old pointing on the bywash. Below: James and Dan demonstrate why Crossdress Sunday is unlikely to catch on...
So, to go through the final scorecard: huge thanks to Adrian for all his help with everything throughout the week (particularly on Wednesday night), and to Gav for being there on Friday night. But most importantly, thanks to the whole team: you were all star players. Hope those of you concerned got the A levels you wanted, and look forward to seeing you all lining up for another match somewhere soon. Harri Thomsett
Camp Report ...before Ed and Liz are forced to follow on... Camp 0517: Hereford & Gloucester canal “A tale of two cooks, 5 broken mixers and 7 nadgered wheelbarrows...” Friday: My assistant Liz and I arrived at Tom’s end-of-camp party – a good time was had by all and our toast orgy skills were refined by Gav. With that the training for the upcoming camp was complete. Saturday: Woke up, found the campers from the previous week were still partying hard at 9am. After a quality Harri-fuelled Breakfast Tom, Dave, Liz and I headed to site for a handover session. [Are you sure you don’t meen a hangover session? ...Ed]
The work for the week: continue the rebuilding of the Ell Brook Aqueduct arch, repair the downstream spandrel walls, cut up a lot of stone and raise the lower lock wing walls. Back at the hall and the last of the volunteers from 0515 were just leaving (well apart from Kate and Jenny “Headoffice” Black), and Gav and Adrian had volunteered to collect the shiny new volunteers from the station. Liz and I pottered about the accommodation while people started appearing, including an unexpected Phil, Sam and Phill who had apparently booked on in the last week. Including the weekend visitors we ended up catering for over 25 on the first night! We discovered we had 3 Jameses and a Jamie, which wasn’t at all convenient. Sunday: First day on site and with team leaders assigned their teams after a quick tour work started very quickly. Kate went off to lead a small team to finish the tree felling on the pathway from Newent station to the aqueduct, Adrian spent the day training Elanor and David Miller as excavator drivers, and James Butler showed off his new dumper instructor skills by training Elanor as a dumper driver as well. On the main site Phill Cardy and James Wi were ripping out some of the knackered stonework from the downstream spandrel walls – by the end of the day the rebuild had just about reached the point where they had started. David Miller had a small team consisting of Caroline and Jamie learning rough stone walling on the arch, which was to be the primary job for the week. The remaining people were assigned to Chris as the mortar making and stone cutting team – first job make some mortar!
I softened up the local group liaison for Ed’s request for a generator for our electric mixer by failing to start all four petrol mixers from the on-site plant graveyard.
Learning how to operate the stone saw
With the failure to resuscitate any of the mixers (even with the liberal application of Alan Lines and Gav), board-mixing of mortar was the order of the day and the rest of the team turned to learning how to operate the Stihl saw and table stone saw.
I helped several young lady DofEers to make a baby (or at least I trained them on the table-mounted stone saw, they referred to the strokably-smooth results as ‘our baby’ and I’m taking the credit.) The stone-cutting team rigged up the pulley system for moving big rocks, and Liz promptly dubbed it a sex swing. A chocolate biscuit to the first person to send in a diagram of what a sex swing actually looks like. Much discussion was had over the difference between straps and strops, the general conclusion being that a strap was a small strop (probably involving quivering of the lip and moaning, rather than full-blown bawling and foot-stamping). Frances discovered the joys of the disc-cutter and spent the rest of the day with an itchy trigger finger and a need for speed, and Suzie established the essential phrase “Team Leader Chris Boss Sir”, which kept me preening all week. By 6pm a lot of work had been done and it was time to test the local showers – first problem, getting into the building. Soon sorted as we managed to set the alarm off while trying the doors and a man appeared with the keys.
Andy’s team, having cleared the vegetation from the towpath retaining wall, knocked off for a brew break – on returning to site I received a disturbing radio call “Ed – we have a problem up here.” The problem being that a section of the dry stone wall had collapsed into the drained canal. Answer to the problem – better start digging that out then! On the main site David was going great guns assisted by Liz (who said leaders couldn’t work on site?) and Phill was finishing up with the downstream wall. The multiple-James problem was reduced by one as James Wi was renamed ‘Fingers’ due to his penchant for chopping them with knives (at work) and resting coping stones on them (on camp). Cook one for the week, Harri T, left to go home leaving us with a packed stew for dinner. The evening entertainment was a cinema trip, “Wedding Crashers” proved to be a very good canal camp movie – just waiting for the sequel “end-ofcamp party crashers”! Tuesday: Team Chris was officially established by a mention in Ed’s job allocation speech, following two days of lobbying from the eponymous MUP.
Monday: James and Suzie were dispatched off early to the hire company in Hereford to get a generator (what has happened to those mythical kit generators?) so we could use the kit electric mixer. On site, Phill continued with the spandrel wall, David carried on arch building and as Andy “Kate” had replaced Kate (girl) a team removed the large cut stone from the stream with a rope and plank before going off to size up the dry stone walling job. Chris continued his sterling work as chief stone cutter with a different team from the previous day who even had a working mixer to play with!
Phil The Hair cemented (ha-ha) his reputation as Mortar Man, Chief Sludge Artisan, by complaining that you just couldn’t get those handcrafted results with a powered mixer. Not that it stopped him knocking up a creditable amount of the stuff before tea break. His title of Most Alliterative Nickname was soon stolen by the newly appointed Mortar Maidens (Caroline, Julia & Frances), though the Barrow Bitch came close.
Aerial view of the drystone wall foundation crew in action
The locals were on site today, fitting escape ladders to House Lock and chain sawing the last of the trees on the path from the station site. Brian Fox (our local contact) seemed very impressed with the work we had already completed, Phill having completed the downstream wall switched to bricklaying on the arch, David moved down to dumper drive for James Butler with Martin acting as banksman. The stone cutting team continued its fine precision work and Andy’s dry stone walling team spent the day digging a trench out of the canal puddle for the dry stone wall foundations. (Controversially we decided that foundations would be a good idea for the wall – a pile of clay hadn’t seemed to work too well on the previous iteration.)
Numerous DofEers were to go home muttering “10 by 7 with the laminations going that way” after Chris started demanding very specific stones to cut. Andy’s mud-shifting team decided to brand themselves with clay – a process that escalated to a point where Julia ended up with a muddy handprint on her bra… Due to the hall being used by the local steam society the camp headed off to Over Basin for fish and chips followed by a David Penny-directed tour of the site. Only minor corrections to his spiel were required by the Over veterans in the audience (David, Phill and myself). Wednesday: Concrete pour day – Andy’s walling team had to face off the local swan family before getting down to the hole – a bit more digging and some cunning shuttering (well a plastic covered scaff plank) and they were ready. Chris gave up teaching people to cut up stones in favour of having fun with the Stihl saw on his own. The stone cutting team was to be ably led that day by Frances and Martin. James ‘Fingers’, Phil and Jamie were initiated into the ways of making concrete (5:1 and keep it coming) while Sam, James T-G and anyone else who stood around looking spare used the three working barrows (one with a wooden wheel) to shift the concrete. James, David and Julia having finished the path up from the station the previous day were shifted to coping stone duty – the idea being to use some of the large stones in our pile to raise the lower wing walls by the required amount in one easy step. Midday came, and our second cook of the week arrived: Jenny Wilson. (Moral of the story – never get drunk with Ed Walker when he’s on the lookout for volunteers for something, he will remember the next morning that you said ‘yes’.) The afternoon was spent measuring stone and continuing with the other jobs on site, at one point Liz and I managed to spend a pleasant hour without radio interruptions, breaking out some of the rough stone walling near the upstream arch.
Ed and Liz messed with everyone’s head by putting showers after dinner instead of before. The Harems were established: James B’s harem of DofE girls and Frances’ harem of DofE boys. A select group (basically the people not aligned to a harem) attended a well-organised piss-up in a brewery (Wye Valley Brewery, where we were shown round by the Head Brewer and the drinking started within 30 seconds of walking in the door). Thursday: The concrete footing having gone off overnight, Elanor lead a team to start the rebuilding of the wing wall: by the end of the day one course was in solid, and stones had been picked for the next. James, David and Julia were back on big stone laying: the use of a five tonne excavator makes it very easy to lay coping stones. James thoroughly drop-tested a coping stone with the excavator and we can confirm that it is indeed possible to snap a scaff plank like a twig, given sufficient weight and height. Job for Friday – clean the James-shaped mud silhouette out of the cab. Phill, Martin and Laura continued the arch building – the locals had expressed a preference for a keystone and so Chris was set the task of carving it. I had fun (hmm) trying to turn a lump of rock into a keystone for the arch – in the end I hosed it so badly that I gave up and started again with a different stone.
Evening entertainment was a swim at the Great Malvern leisure pool – unfortunately the slide and wave machine weren’t operating but it was nice to The main job for the week: repairing the arch on Ell Brook collapse in the trainAqueduct ing pool. Suzie Pounce
The euphemism “I’m mixing mortar” (read: I’m sitting in SAD listening to the radio) was coined.
James Butler tested the entrance and exit from the bottom of the canal with the excavator. Results on entry: fine, tracking around fine. Results on exit: new shorts please! Moral of that story – always scrape the slippery plop off your exit ramp before driving up it. Due to the evening entertainment (the now traditional brewery tour) we left site early – well 5.30pm, every other day it was after 6!
Overall a very good camp, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the locals were happy and Liz and I didn’t get stressed at all. It only leaves me to say thanks to Jenny and Harri T for cooking for us, all the volunteers for the hard work they put in on site; particulary to Chris, David, James, Phill, Andy “Kate” and Elanor for being the MUP’s for the week, which meant we could just say “can you just…” and be sure it would be done.
The week’s awards:
Harri keeps breakfast on schedule... The Dear Leaders further screwed with our heads (sorry, ‘took us out of our comfort zone’) by having swimming straight after site, followed by dinner and everyone passed out from heat-induced knackeredness almost immediately afterwards.
. . . . . . .
Friday: Last day on site and we still had a lot to do – Elanor headed straight off with her crack team of dry stone wall laying experts including Caroline, Sam and Cathy and managed to lay another two courses of stone. David and Laura pointed-up the copers they had laid the day before; Phill finished the arch and did a concrete pour to tie it all together, and Martin finished the patching of the lower arch in brick.
Plant-Head of the Week ( for getting a scary look in her eyes upon picking up a disc-cutter): Frances Radio Silence Order (as an attempt to stop them abusing the airwaves): Jamie and James T-G Silent But Deadly Award (for high-quality work with minimal talking): Sam Mud-Packers of the Week (for squeezing seemingly infinite amounts of goo behind a large number of copers): Cathy and Caroline Stoner of the Week (for moving lots of stones): James the Fingers Mortar Man (for dedication to brickie support): Phil Team Leader Chris Boss Sir Award (for highperformance motivation, expectation management, team dynamics analysis and redesign and other management consulting buzzwords): Chris
Ed Walker with additional comments in italic by: Chris Wicks
My new stone proved to be equally incapable of surviving my ministrations, cracking as its width was tampered with for the severalth time because the gap seemed to keep shrinking – so we completed the arch with bricks instead.
Jenny’s Frankenstein-esque ambitions came to fruition with the creation of sentient flapjacks, which escaped from the pan and attempted to establish a utopian nation in the oven. Sam won the Cornflake Box Game with grace and style (mainly due to his tae kwondo training). The evening rounds of Twister descended into an extended session of Twisted (whereby the caller makes the moves up according to what will be most amusing).
The sight of a team of WRGies hitting a stone with a scutch hammer (apparently the stone masonry kit was on the other camp) to try and shape it was just too much for the poor stone involved. Kit cleaning kept the rest of the camp busy in the afternoon and we finally managed to leave site at 6 for showers and the end of camp party. Jenny Wilson had done us proud with an Italian feast and we found out that the girly drinks (or tart fuel as Chris labelled it) were solely being drunk by the DofE lads!
...while Ed demonstrates a feature of camp leadership which I feel is to be encouraged...
Canal Camps cost £42 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 0521') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Montgomery Canal: Llanmynech. Rebuilding the wharf wall.
Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project
Oct 15 Sat
Race Night fundraising event in support of WRG SW - see page 6 for details.
Grantham Canal: Clearing overhanging trees at Woolsthorpe.
Lichfield Canal: Dig Deep project
Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: Seven Locks flight. Rebuiding lock walls and lands
Nov 1 Tue
Press date for issue 214
Bonfire Bash at Mon & Brec Canal. Leader: Spencer Collins. Please book using
Chelmer & Blackwater (Heybridge Basin): For those who think the Mon & Brec 60 man-days work clearing vegetation from wharf area. Accom & food provided
Nov 6 Sun
Committee & Board Meetings
POSTPONED to Nov 19/20
Nov 12 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Chichester Canal: Hedgelaying, and scrub clearance ready for planting of new
Wilts & Berks Canal: working at a new site (for LWRG) towards the east end of
Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project. NOTE CHANGE OF DATE
Dec 1 Thu
Issue 214 Assembly: Date unconfirmed - sometime in December. London Canal M
Foxton Inclined Plane: Christmas Dinner and working weekend
Hollinwood Canal: Scrub bashing and tree removal. Clearing the Crime Lake poun
Wilts & Berks Canal: Xmas party dig with KESCRG, Seven Locks site
Wilts & Berks Canal: Xmas party dig with London WRG, Seven Locks site. Construction work around Lock 3 plus towpath, clearance and hedgelaying up t
First Aid Course: 2-day First Aid course at Soham, plus Xmas Party.
Wilts & Berks Canal: Xmas Party dig. Accom at Devizes.
Dec 17 Sat
‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection
Dec 26-Jan 2 Camp 0520
New Year Camp on the Cromford - see p6. Leader: Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden. Scru
Dec 26-Jan 1 W&BCT
Wilts & Berks New Year Canal Camp: Seven Locks. See Navvies News p33 for
Cotswold Canals: To be confirmed (possibly Pike Bridge)
To be arranged, probably on a Dig Deep project
To be arranged
To be arranged, probably on a Dig Deep project (including London WRG AGM)
To be arranged
Foxton Inclined Plane
Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email: email@example.com. David McCarthy
caping the banks. Leaders: Jo (Smudge) Smith and Dave (Taz) Tarrant firstname.lastname@example.org Martin Ludgate
g the form on page 7.
is too far. d for 30 people.
f the canal
Centrally Booked Centrally Booked Centrally Booked
Museum 7pm onwards
nd ready for a trip boat. David McCarthy
ub bashing with lots of bonfires. May start 24 Dec if enough people interested
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 email: email@example.com. NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586
Canal Societiesâ€™ regular monthly or weekly working parties Please send any amendments, additions and deletions to Dave Wedd (address on previous page) 3rd Sunday of month BCNS Jeff Barley 2nd Sunday & following Wed. BCS Cosgrove Athina Beckett Anytime inc. weekdays BCT Aqueduct section Gerald Fry Every Sunday ChCT Various sites Mick Hodgetts Mon & Wed mornings CCT Cotswolds Dudley Greenslade Every weekend (Sat OR Sun) CCT Cotswolds Neil Ritchie 1st Sunday of month CCT Cotswolds: summit Mark Welton Wednesday evenings CCT Cotswolds: East end Keith Harding Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe Last Sunday of month EAWA N Walsham & Dilham Kevin Baker 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Langley Mill Michael Golds Second Sun of month FIPT Foxton Inclined PlaneMike Beech 1st & 3rd Sundays GCRS Grantham Canal Colin Bryan 2nd Sat of month GWCT Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd Tuesdays H&GCT Oxenhall Brian Fox Weekends H&GCT Over Wharf House Maggie Jones Wednesdays H&GCT Over Wharf House Wilf Jones Weekends H&GCT Hereford Aylestone Martin Danks Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 1st Saturday & 3rd Wed. IWA Ipswich Stowmarket Navigtn. Colin Turner 2nd weekend of month K&ACT John Rolls 2nd Sunday of month LCT Lancaster N. Reaches Will Warburg 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat LHCRT Lichfield Phil Sharpe 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Hatherton Denis Cooper 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Paul Waddington 2nd Sunday of month SCARS Sankey Canal Colin Greenall 1st Sunday of month SCCS Combe Hay Locks Bob Parnell Most weekends SHCS Basingstoke Peter Redway 1st Sunday of month SNT Haverholme Lock Dave Pullen 1st weekend of month SUCS Newhouse Lock Mike Friend 3rd Sunday of month TMCA David Rouse Every Sunday & Thurs WACT varied construction Eric Walker Mondays (2 per month) WACT tidying road crossings Brian Crossley Tuesdays WACT Tickner's Heath Depot Colin Gibbs Wednesdays WACT maintenance work Peter Jackman Wednesdays WACT Loxwood Link Peter Wilding Tues, Thurs & Sats WACT Winston Harwood Various dates WACT Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar)Keith Nichols 1st weekend of month WAT Little Tring Roger Leishman Every weekend WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Peter Smith Every Sunday W&BCC Dauntsey / Foxham Rachael Banyard
Abbreviations used in Diary BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CCT DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS K&ACT
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 Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust
KESCRG LCT LHCRT NWPG PCAS SCARS SCCS SHCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT W&BCC
01543-373284 01908-661217 01288-353273 01246-620695 01453 825515 01452-854057 01453-872405 01451-860181 0121-608 0296 01362-699855 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2248 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 413888 01432 344488 01663-732493 01473-730586 01189-666316 01931-713317 01889-583330 01543-374370 01757-638027 01744-731746 01225-428055 01483-721710 01673-862278 01948-880723 01474-362861 023-9246-3025 01737-843192 020-8241-7736 01483-772132 01483-422519 01293-424672 01403-753882 01442-874536 01793-852883 01249-892289
Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust 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 Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Company
Dear Martin Many of us have been pretty upset at British Waterways’ attitude since they took over responsibility on the Cotswold Canals, with no work being done because volunteers are “not capable” of doing “professional type” work on restoration projects. I spoke to Andy Stumpf (BW Regeneration Manager, South) before he gave a talk at the Saul Festival, and asked if they saw any future for volunteers on the Cotswold Canals. “Oh yes” was the reply, “they can do fund-raising, litter-picking, little jobs like that...” I was therefore interested to read in the IWPS (Bugsworth Basin) July newsletter the following in an article by Don Baines on page 6: “Our relationship with BW has changed; from a tolerated but perhaps irritating presence at first, through a stable and successful period as lease holders, to the present arrangement where we operate under a Memorandum of Agreement and where we are referred to as Professional Volunteers by BW management”. BW have plenty of examples of WRG’s work on Cotswold Canals, e.g. Wildmoorway Lock, so why can’t they recognise our capabilities? Di Smurthwaite While I share Di’s frustration at the way that we appear not to be trusted with ‘real’ restoration work on some waterways with a BW involvement, I am pleased to see WRG South West working on the Cotswolds at Pike Bridge, and hope that it shows the start of a general improvement in attitudes. ...Ed Dear Editor It has been some years since I was able to visit the Wey & Arun canal, but on the recent occasion of our 53rd Wedding Anniversary we decided to make a visit to the Loxwood developments encouraged by the reports in Navvies 211 & 212. The progress there is truly astonishing, given that it is not all that long ago that the prospect of reopening the canal was dismissed peremptorily. I recollect doing a day’s scrub-clearing many years ago and was impressed by the enthusiasm of volunteers, even though I was then a pessimist about full restoration. We walked from the Onslow Arms to Drungewick Aqueduct (my ancient guidebook challenged us to find a trace of it!) and were lost in admiration of what had been achieved. The new Loxwood Lock is a huge enterprise, as will be the new bridge and the nearly 6ft lowering of the existing bed of the canal to Brewhurst Lock. The way will then presumably be clear to make progress to the summit level and its water supply.
Letters BW: “Volunteers? Oh yes, they can do litter-picking....” If I have a minor criticism it is that we could find no detailed explanation of the exciting new development. We found an old planning notice pinned to a post that told us about the lowering of the canal bed, but nothing to tell us how this will be achieved, together with alterations to the Brewhurst Lock. Will the embankment on the towpath side be lowered, for example? Or will walkers peer down a steep gradient, and boaters see nothing but the steep sides of what will, in effect, be a deep cutting? But one ought not to carp - it is a magnificent effort by all involved. Yours sincerely Eric Kings Dear Editor After 20-odd years as a member of WRG, I finally went on a camp last week on the Lichfield. Better late than never. A few comments, mainly positive: I thought the leadership, organisation and food were superb. Mike Palmer was terrific as leader. He has great knowledge of everything that is going on, and a knack of getting the best out of people. Becky Parr was an excellent assistant, with all the unglamorous but essential backroom organisation. Jude’s cooking was terrific. There were no accidents. The tasks were tiring but masochistically fun - we all felt we had contributed something worthwhile. The only downside was the accommodation. For a self-confessed old fart, it was that bit too basic. Having to be bussed to showers did not help. I don’t have any solutions to offer, since I can see the problem of getting cheap accommodation only too clearly. But it might be worth giving a moment’s thought to this problem if we want to continue to attract the mature brigade. This week only confirmed to me what I’ve thought for a while-that WRG plays a vital role in the waterway movement. Roger Nuttall
Letters Another contender for the first ever canal camp? Letter to WRG Chairman Mike Palmer from Julie Arnold, Secretary of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust:
Via Navvies please pass on our thanks to everybody who worked on and contributed to the Froghall project - especially WRG Forestry, London WRG, WRG North West and all the Canal Camps’ leaders and teams, many of whom turned out again and again. The Sunday morning after the sunshine of Saturday’s celebrations was damp weather wise; two ladies out walking commented they had not been to visit since a while back when a lot of people had been busy working around the basin (i.e. WRG); “It’s marvellous” they agreed. Thanks to all the WRG volunteers who helped make it so.
Dear Mike Re-opening of the first lock and basin of the Uttoxeter Canal and celebration of the completion of Destination Froghall, Saturday 2t July 2005 I am writing on behalf of the committee of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust to thank you and the Waterway Recovery Group volunteers for all your work and support leading up to and on the day of the re-opening of this first section of the Uttoxeter Canal. We felt the celebration event went exceptionally well and were delighted with the large crowds and to see boats - complete with relaxing WRG volunteers - cruising into this restored section of the Uttoxeter Canal. British Waterways Wales & Border Counties Manager Julie Sharman and her team also thought it a “thoroughly splendid day”, and send thanks to all those involved in the organisation for “a great event that could not be faulted”.
Julie Arnold Dear Martin I was deeply pissed-off to discover that a renegade group had beaten me by a few days to the first ever canal camp (Navvies 211, p30) - although it appears we overlapped! I was involved with the Scouts and the Civic Trust at the time, and helped to set up Northampton’s first civic society (Northampton Civic Action Group) when I learned of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal restoration. As I was a keen narrow boat spotter (names, not numbers) - in the BW / Samuel Barlow working boat days at Braunston and Blisworth - and had legged it through Blisworth Tunnel, three of us legged (or rather drove) my pre-War Austin Cambridge off to Lapworth where we spent a few days restoring a lock and showing David Hutchings how to put up tents. Anyway now I live in the Czech Republic where there are only two canals and two navigable rivers. Sorry about that, but I would welcome any navvies to visit me and sample the beer at 30p a half-litre. I have a large house and a country cottage so room for lots - they could even dig me a canal to the Oder, 800 metres away! Geoff William
12 August 2005 Dear Martin
“Best described as basic”: Canal camp accommodation and transport, 1961-style. (see Geoff William’s letter)
To all National Festival wrgies: For what we are about to receive we are truly grateful. John Fletcher IWA National Chairman
I know Ron Shackell’s letter (Navvies 212) was tongue in cheek, and I enjoyed his comments, but I certainly don’t recognise myself in his description of oldies. In my experience, it’s the young ones on the camp that it’s difficult to dig out of bed before 9 am. - I’m normally up by 6.30 am at the latest, and I’ve noticed that other early risers are always the older WRGies. Half an hour for lunch, and I’m eager to get back to work: I’ve a fairly small appetite, but enjoy a pint or two at the pub as much as any others.
“It’s the young ones that it’s difficult to dig out of bed...” Aside from the fund raising we have introduced many, many people to the group and what it can achieve. I would very much like to thank Chris and Gill for their support and belief in us, it is very much appreciated. Also big thank you to Neil for the new banners, they really helped. Also Al, Richard and Neil for feeding and looking after us.
I’m past retirement age (nearly 71), but I’m still working professionally at home drystone walling and hedgelaying, or doing voluntary work on canals somewhere, and I’m probably considerably fitter than many younger people who sit behind a desk all day. Admittedly, I don’t operate machinery (through choice), and I need permission from the camp leader so I am covered by IWA insurance (useful to know for anyone approaching 70), but I think many of us oldies - with all our experience - are extremely useful on camps and digs!
And on the subject of thanks... A great big thanks to all who took part in Camp 0507 on the Wey & Arun - the WRG camp with the KESCRG leadership team [See camp report on pages 8-9 ...Ed]. A hugely big thanks to the cooks, Maureen and Jenny who yet again defied the laws of physics to produce so much absolutely delicious food, a big thanks to Purple Steve who had the most technical camp ever for a novice assistant leader I reckon and coped extremely well, and also big thanks to Hermione and Tonks (Rosie and Lauren) for doing the write-up. Finally a massive thank you to Graham Baird of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust for having everything in the right place at the right time... apart from the concrete blocks which was nothing to do with him!
Di Smurthwaite Dear Martin May we though the pages of Navvies give a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped on the Appealing Food stall for KESCRG at Preston Brook for all their efforts and for being willing to make it a wonderful success. Hard work - no doubt, but fun and very rewarding, it fact rewarding to the tune of £2333! I think this is unprecedented amount to raise in one weekend and absolutely guarantees the group’s financial security going forward. We will definitely be going to Wendover and Beale Park next year – we’ll be looking for help again.
Many thanks again Ian and Liz Williamson Dear Martin This note its to say a great big ‘thank you’ to all those WRGies who contributed to making a great big fuss of me at the National.
I was only there because I was helping on the KESCRG bhaji stand, and there were certainly other birthday boys (Jim Lamen - 65! - and Alan Whiffen) but my mates still managed to have ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me by Braunston Pickle and a WRGie chorus, and present me with a superb leather tankard and a card signed by many friends.
The Appealing Food stall raising funds for KESCRG
Big cheers to Al, RIchard, Neil and Liz for what looked like a great camp. I think I have a few beers to buy at the Bonfire Bash. Sheepish Grins from beneath a green Transporter. Mark ‘Mk2’ Richardson
WRG South West WRG’s newest regional group marks its first birthday... WRGSW – One Year Old!
In our second year we’ll be looking to slightly increase the frequency of our digs: watch Navvies and the web for further information. On the Grand Western we have worked on the lime kilns, Whipcott Wharf and carried out some exploratory works on Loudwells Lock, likely to be a continuing project for us next year. We also hope that we can undertake some work in or around the very impressive Nynehead lift. On the Mon & Brec we have mainly worked near the canal centre at fourteen locks, starting work on the slipway into the canal basin, doing some scrub bashing, and working on some of the bywashes. Our second dig on the Mon & Brec was our first joint dig, with KESCRG.
A number of people had been saying for some considerable time that now so many WRGies lived in the South West we should have our own regional group. So after some discussion in the run up to and then at the National Festival at Burton in 2004, WRGSW was formed. An inaugural meeting was held last September with a Chinese meal and a few drinks to set some dig dates and establish what was needed to get WRGSW running. In our first year we will have held six digs, helped the Cotswolds complete a bridge and associated works, provided training to the Hereford & Gloucester and held a Christmas party in the middle of January.
The aim of the group is to help in the restoration of the canals in the South West. We have managed to visit the Cotswolds, Grand Western and Mon & Brec twice each. We will be visiting all of these again next year but hope to get to the H&G and the Wilts & Berks as well.
The volunteer-built bywash outflow and retaining wall by the new Pike Bridge on the Cotswold Canals...
On the Cotswolds we agreed to spend a weekend rebuilding the bywash outflow and retaining wall below Pike Bridge as a part of the volunteer input to the Pike Bridge Project, which is re-building a road bridge across the canal at Eastington. After a very wet weekend complete with a prolonged hailstorm we had made some significant progress; but it required several more weekends and indeed a number of evenings working with the local canal trust to get the wall finished in time for the opening of the bridge. The bridge itself was constructed by contractors and built from concrete to try to replicate one of the two original bridges on the site. What appears as one road bridge is technically two, each founded on remains of the old canal bridges demolished in the 1970s. We recently attended the opening of the bridge. Cotswold Canals Trust organised a really good event that was very well attended and they even arranged for the rain to stop just in time for the official ceremony. As the year has progressed so has the WRGSW kit: on our first dig we had no kit so we had a pub meal and saw just how inadequate tools used for gardening are when it comes to canal restoration. Our kit started to arrive in January, NE becoming SW and with donations from many especially North West (thank you!!) we now have most of the basics we need.
WRG South West ...and the return of WRG to the Cotswold Canals However, there is a wish-list of things that would be very useful and we will be making some further enquiries soon along the lines of “do you have any spare…” This year should see the completion of the kit and hopefully the sourcing of a trailer type thing to house it in. WRGSW now has a core of regular volunteers and with associated others turnout is typically 10-14 volunteers for each weekend; it would be nice to grow a little in the next year. We would welcome any new volunteers and you don’t have to be from the South West, hey, our chairman lives near Buckingham! Adrian Fry To find out more about what WRG South West are up to, email their chairman Gavin Moor on firstname.lastname@example.org.
...and some of the WRGSW volunteers who worked on it, celebrating the opening of the bridge.
Camp report ...at Fourteen Locks on the Mon & Brec Camp 0511: Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal After preparing myself for a few months for my first ever real-assistant-leader camp with some technical work, I then had to work out how to get all my tat to the camp as I couldn’t carry it all on the train. I had a brain wave. How about meeting up with a few WRGies that were going on my camp and a few others that lived locally to Reading. It was a very enjoyable evening down the pub with Gilly, Nic, Ed and, oh I am going to get my self into trouble if I mention her name so I won’t. All I will say is it was Ed’s partner!!! Thanks Gilly for carting my tat around the country Saturday came round and by the evening I amazed myself by learning everyone’s names. It has never happened before or since! Everyone seemed to mix well, and four of the young Duke of Edinburgh’s Award volunteers realised they knew each other from school - but none of them knew that the others were going on this camp. Small world. The start of the 3G’s was bubbling up.
Sunday was a washout. No, literally - it was good old Welsh weather. Red hot summer the week before and after ours, but the first day on site it rained. I blame Gilly for doing her drought plans at work (she works for Thames Water) and wanting rain! After walking everyone around site and making them wet, we decided to go somewhere dry which Rob and I have wanted to go to for ages - and that was the “Big Pit” museum. After Nic did a race around Wales from the Froghall reopening to get to us before we went down the old coal mine, we finally went down and it was very interesting… and dry! I would recommend it to anyone in the south Wales area. A ‘well done’ goes to Dippy Claire for being the one to break her miner’s lamp! On Monday it had stopped raining and we set to work, setting teams going on various jobs. The tree stump crew (sorry ‘3ft diameter twig with 6 equally small roots’) set to work to dig out what came to be known as “Bastard”. Another team started to remove the old fence buried in the hedge somewhere, the 3G’s started work on making some stop planks for the top lock, so tomorrow Nic could investigate the blocked sluice from the top paddle of the lock with a grappling hook. The slipway crew started on demolishing the retaining wall and, Toby and crew started the task of building a footbridge out of what looked like a couple of whole oak trees.
Wednesday morning [whatever happened to Tuesday? (as Van Morrison might have asked)...Ed] started with a cheer from the kitchen when Sarah (a 3G) shouted out “ooh Kate I’ve got smiles”. (I believe the socalled Smile things to be potato waffle type things.) On site Nic was responsible for the top tip of the day: if you put a cup of coffee on the sunroof of your car, don’t then go inside the car and tilt the roof forward as the cup falls over and the coffee runs in through the roof and onto your lap! 4.20pm came around and the second cheer of the day came. “Bastard” was finally wrenched from clasp of the ground. Stump boys 1; Stump nil. For all other stumps reading this: watch out! The 3G’s started to paint a lock gate and each other. Sarah “L’artiste” drew lots of lovely portraits in my “Blue book of notes”. Oh we can’t forget the injury Taz (female one) got. It was a washing-up-related injury! If only we could still read the accident book! The stump formerly known as ‘Bastard’ is finally beaten
Thursday was a good day on site with the slipway taking shape, fence slowly going up, a bit of scrub-bashing slowly revealing a new by-wash that we didn’t know about. In the evening we went and had a float around in the local pool. Yes the one in Newport with the slide that takes your back apart as you go over every joint! When we all got kicked out of the pool for the aqua aerobics we were entertained in the changing rooms by the sound of the teacher shouting out “Let me see those knees. Those lovely knees” It certainly made us get changed faster! After the pool of love (I shall say no more) Rob and I decided to drag the majority of people to the Newport Transporter Bridge. It is a massive metal structure with a platform which vehicles to drive onto, suspended by cables. Then a motor moves the cables along the top girders, gliding the platform across the river. Everyone thought it was going to be boring but how wrong they were. For 50p each way and we went back and forth twice so Rob and I could take photos for Just Jen! We hope to be able to walk to the top next year. Toby’s breasts were beautiful that night. They were so soft and tender and just enough spice on them. The colonel can’t get his breasts to taste anywhere near as good. Friday came and went with Dippy Claire insisting on seeing if a machete can go through a leather glove and still cut your hand! Toby finished off the bridge, the concrete for the slipway with “jetties” was all poured, the fence was nearly completed, the lock-gate was painted twice in total, two of the 3G’s were painted once in total, and everything we had planned got done plus a bit more despite losing a day’s work due to the weather on Sunday.
Camp report “The little mystery snail was still in the hall...” Saturday was a busy day: packing the trailer to the high standards that Jen sets (and hopefully I have), lots of back and forth to the train station in VOJ (three seats with one sober person is not helpful for four people to get to the station around the same time), Toby engraving the bridge, and some cunning van key swapping. So by the end of all that, Rob and I left on our merry way from a fantastic camp on the Mon & Brec at 4:30pm. I would like to say a HUGE ‘thank you’ to Sam and Toby again for cooking fantastic food, to Rob for being a fantastic leader, to the locals for being so well organised again, and to everyone for just getting on with the jobs we gave you and working so hard. Don’t forget the Bonfire Bash is back on the Mon & Brec this year and Rob, Toby and myself are assistant leaders. We would love to see you all back for it: And then next year… it has already been pencilled in that there will be TWO weeks here, provisionally with Rob and myself involved in the leadership again - and Toby and Sam back to cook for us. We look forward to having you back. James Butler
The last-night party went well and I stayed awake until 3am which was a record for me (beaten two weeks later), some new couples were made, and some people thought the crypt was a better place to sleep. Strange people. I know it has been decorated and we took great care of it (didn’t we, Nic?) but even so I will stick to the main hall. James Butler
The little mystery snail was still in the hall as well. I found it last year from the snail trail over all my stuff. Nobody has yet Is this a first? Camp 0511 takes a ride on the Newport Transporter Bridge seen the snail.
Camp report Bush, Teacher and MK2 strut their stuff on the funky Wilts & Berks W&B Funksters 1; H&G Dambusters nil Camp 0514 on The Funky Wilts ’n’ Berks! Report by the less-than-fashionable Mk2… This marks my official debut as an Assistant Leader. Yeah, I’ve done a few impressions in the past – Saul Junction when Bungle only realised I was assistanting once the festival was over, and New Year on the Mon & Brec where I just did everything that nice Mr. Moose told me to. This time, it was to be The Camp of Three Assistants. Helen of Bushbaby Fame had come up with the notion that we – she, me and Teacher Chris from Devon – would act as a team of assistant leaders, thus obviating the need for a leader per se. Wrongo! Yours Truly truly needed HofBF’s experience and was on the camp to learn the ropes. And TCfD started off as cook!
OK, so we’d got a team, we’d got a canal, and we’d got a site. Trouble is, it’s had a reputation for being a dull old ditch with awkward access. What? Pewsham Locks on the Wilts & Berks? Well, er, yeah. So we would just have to funk it up a little, wouldn’t we! That’s FUNK it up, thank y’all very much. FUNK, as in, er, strut your stuff on that funky disco floor. Umm… So anyway, the Friday before HofBF and I, dischuffed at missing Dr. Liz & Ian’s Saturday locally-sourced-grub-in-Smudge-tweaked-garden party, arrived at theirs a day early with cars full of stuff and partook of lovely chilli-con-Chinnor with Nina, who arrived by bus having smelt the food from Oxford. The next morning, with cars even fuller after a raid on the KESCRG trailer, we departed. Nina had a lie-in. HofBF’s faithful Focus contained all her kit plus a toilet, toilet tent and mountain bike. My Altea contained all my kit plus a Tirfor winch and associated gubbins kindly made available through the good offices of Tom Jeffries and Logistics Jen. Handy, living near Jeffrieshire. The accommodation, Calne Scout Hut, we reached at lunchtime and after parking up, duly departed in the direction of a fish-n-chippery. Volunteers soon arrived at the accomm, no doubt guided by the extensive WRG signage of, er, three signs that pointed them up the narrow old streets to the 1950s stone-built scout hall. Nice wood parquet floor, lots of tables and chairs to use, space for boot rooms (we operated a no-boots-andsite-gear-in-the-hall-or-lobby rule, which worked really well) and just about enough basins. Neat little kitchen, too. We briefed everyone on the joys of canal campery and waited to see who’d include themselves in the Big Break-Out to the Bar. So, er, “Sleepy” Dave Miller and I had a pint down the Lansdowne.
I’ve still got the camp awards notes I The Pewsham drydock before work started (above) and with made on the last day, and as they were restoration work in progress (below). only verbal awards (no printer!), I could give at least one to everybody, so here’s a rundown of the volunteers with which we funked up Pewsham (yes, that’s FUNKED up, with an ‘N’) that week. Becky: Demure and utterly self-contained, Becky would carry on, without a murmur, until you told her to stop. Then, she’d either sit and eat, or sit and read. Her quote of the week was something to do with being a boy in disguise but anyway, we sincerely hope that we can keep her. Come back, Becky!
Fu: Recent graduate of Bristol Uni, Fu was on his way back to his native Malaysia via a few frightfully British diversions, like a Canal Camp. Utterly self-contained, he would carry on, without a murmur, until you told him to stop. His quote of the week had to be when he and I were in the builders’ merchants. Fu looked around as though he was going to buy the place and I said “seen anything you like?” His answer? “My dad owns one of these in Malaysia, with a factory out the back!” Funky.
Camp report “The dumper was rather oldertech than we were used to...”
Andy: Experienced ATC cadet type dude with designs on a career in the RAF Regiment. Possible new motto: Death to Stumps. He just doesn’t let ‘em lie. Don’t listen to his anecdotes unless you have a strong constitution and don’t work alongside him unless you are feeling very fit. Either way, we definitely need him back.
…Adrian: A friend, and in the same profession as Teacher Chris, Adrian was originally of the area where Chris lives now (confused yet?). Adrian is very knowledgeable on punk rock and appears to travel with a bootload of beer. Catchphrase, shared with Chris: “You’re all that!” This is accompanied by a certain hand signal usually encountered on the M25.
“Wick”: This is what you end up with if you have a Will and a Nick and they not only look a bit similar, but are also more or less inseparable. They are very useful on site, and off-site they play an awful lot of cards.
Anthony: Another W&B regular, Anthony is good at brickwork, stonework and recycling everything that could possibly be recycled. He survived the camp despite a heavy cold and the daily doses of Lemsip and cider he sent in to combat it.
Dan: Works in a bakery, so he won the Busman’s Holiday award for collecting fresh baguettes from the supermarket, very early, on several mornings. Dan had never cooked for a group of people before, so his spaghetti bolognese was a personal triumph and darned good, I must say. A day later we realised that Dan had also made a meringue, when it was discovered atop the eye-level kitchen units. Dan worked very well alongside Anthony, so he can come back.
OK, so we’d got a team, we’d got a canal, we’d got a site and we’d got a fresh pack of volunteers. Now all we needed was tools. Every day, it was necessary for HofBF and me to drive RFB to the point where the Chippenham bypass meets the cyclepath which goes past the locks. Helen would then get on her bike and cycle down the cyclepath, past the site, past a lot more derelict canal, and down to the old winding hole, where the dumper was stabled. She would then lock the bike to a tree and start the dumper, which, dating as it did from about 50 years ago, was rather “older tech” than we were used to.
Jonny and Matt: Another piece of evidence that teenage boys travel in pairs. M&J won the Cheeky Chappies award, arriving late, leaving early, and whilst they were on camp, managing to visit the sauna and steam room at the leisure centre daily (without paying) and drinking their own beer in a pub garden. Robert: Winner of the Heat Resistant Surface award for wearing overalls in 30degC heat, Robert travels everywhere with his dogs, at least until he parks the car. Robert is a bit of a W&B regular and a very thorough bricklayer indeed. The W&B needs him!
Crowdsurfer Bob: So named for his admitting to enthusiastic involvement in the music scene in the past, Bob is very knowledgeable on punk rock and likes a beer. This went down well with fellow westcountryman… The rudiments of the “old tech” dumper explained by the old tech editor.
Camp report “...entertainment was provided by Flintoff., Warne and others...” After about 15 minutes of hand cranking, the dumper would start and then Helen would be on her way back to RFB, much more slowly than she had departed. We would then load up the tools, first-aid kit and Burco and the dumper would return even more slowly down the cyclepath to the site. Each day ended with the reverse of this procedure whilst everyone else went to the showers in GCW. At the end of the camp, we took the dumper over this route for the last time and then sanded all the blue and yellow paint off the gateposts.
HofBF put the toilet tent up, in which she installed a Porta-Potti. Further site refinements included a tub of handwipes. Lunch was made by each person each morning and taken beneath the trees. Tea breaks were taken when I could (a) get the Burco to light and (b) get the bricklayers to actually stop for five minutes. Evening catering arrangements started off with Teacher Chris as cook, which meant we arrived back to bowls of crisps-and-dips (Chris’s guacamole rocks, let me tell you) and enjoyed an impressive dinner with choice of puds. However, around the middle of the week, Chris suddenly realised how much he liked leading the bricklaying team, so evening dinner was done differently. Dan did his thing one night, another we ordered fish and chips which we picked up on the way for a trip boat ride, and on the last night we had a superb barbecue outside.
So we had a go at restoring the walls. The jobs were brick cleaning and stacking, mixing, raking walls back out to the solid stuff and bricklaying to either rebuild sections or patch the raked out areas. Repeat times 6, adding a duplicate set of work below the lock which also involved stonework (well done, Anthony and Dan) and you have the camp’s daytimes. Entertainment on site was provided by Freddy Flintoff, Shane Warne and others in their riveting Radio 4 (longwave) series Test Match Special: The Ashes, which was the unexpected hit of the summer.
Now those that know Pewsham will be aware that when London WRG and KESCRG unearthed the flight of three locks with a weekend’s all-out-rampantdisafforestation, any comments of “looks like a bomb’s hit it” were of course true descriptions. The locks were blown up for demolition practice in the early throes of WWII. But next to the bottom lock is a remarkably well-preserved dry dock, with walls and floor of brick. The floor, helpfully covered by a protective layer of weeds, still shows traces of the pitch used to seal boats’ hulls. The structure is shallow – only unloaded wooden Above: rebuilding the wharf wall below Pewsham locks. horseboats ever used it so little draft Below: the boat trip on a ‘plastic articulated skiff’ was needed – and once had a timber and slate roof above it, as the brick bases built into the walls and remnants of the roofing slates testify.
Evening entertainment included the aforementioned boat trip – several WRGies perched on a plastic articulated skiff, half a campful at a time, followed by a visit to the pub in the dark (dark enough that the landlord couldn’t see where most of the beer had come from) and an even darker journey back – the “three interesting things about yourself” team game, and “Sleepy” Dave Miller and me going for a pint down the Lansdowne. The “three things” game revealed that Becky used to keep snails, Andy had once fallen out of a helicopter, Crowdsurfer Bob had, well, crowdsurfed, and Robert had lived in a castle for twelve years. A trip by Chris, Adrian and Bob (who were eventually found by Dave and me) to another pub where the barmaid, a bit on the merry side, greeted them (but not Dave and me, oh well…) by exclaiming “have you noticed that one of my [expletive deleted] is bigger than the other?” and lifting her top, resulted in our reverting to the Lansdowne on subsequent pub trips.
Now the H&G camp’s leader had been txting me half-hourly with “ready to get your arses whipped?” so we had some points to prove.
“Becky used to keep snails, Andy had fallen out of a helicopter...” And prove them we did. Starting with a team huddle (couldn’t remember how to do a Haka) we proceeded to demolish the opposition, with a combination of shouting, drinking and the odd wellaimed ball or three. OK, so the final moonie from the back of the minibus (good job it was the other WRG bus behind us, wasn’t it?!) wasn’t in the best possible taste and earned us a telephone call demanding an apology the next day, but it was a good night! Anyone else wanna take us on? And so by the end of the week, the group had made a seriously good job of stabilising and restoring the dry dock, there had been no injuries, no one had crashed the dumper too heavily and a Transitful of recycling was sent Wilts DC’s way. Tired out after giving the two vans (both received in a bit of a state) a serious cleaning, I had to laugh when Mike Palmer arrived to collect them, jumped into RFB and was about to drive off when he stopped and shouted: “The radio in the van’s tuned to Radio 2; could I have another van please?!” “It’s the Jonathan Ross show, you’ll enjoy it,” said I. Mike’s retort: “The wadio in the van’s tuned to Wadio 2; could I have another van please?!” Mark ‘Mk2’ Richardson
But the undoubted highlight of the week – at least for those who did drag themselves off their arses and into the minibus – was Helen’s Big Idea, which was to challenge the H&G camp to a skittles match. “The Twelve Tuns at Chedworth,” announced HofBF. “I got the tonne of sand and now you want twelve tonnes of, er, what’s Chedworth?” I asked, having been in charge of ordering materials. For those that haven’t been there, it’s north of Cirencester, is a Youngs’ pub of some beauty – building and location – and it has a superb skittle alley in an old hayloft. Our team talked strategy over dinner and started drinking beer. Joined by Martin Ludgate at the last minute (we worked out his average speed over the last fourteen miles and came to the conclusion that Morris Minors can actually fly) we piled into the minibus and continued drinking beer whilst HofBF drove (thanks, Helen!). Arriving at the pub we ordered lots of Waggle Dance, and formed two teams whilst the bemused H&Gers did the same but with less of a head start.
“We whipped their arses”- the victorious W&B skittles team
Logistics “...campers trying to put a Dualit toaster up their nose...” Vice Versa
Well, I’m in shock but (for once!) not appalled! Why? At long, long last it appears people are beginning to listen to me... on the photos front at any rate. (I haven’t seen the kits yet!) [We could send you some photos of the kits ...Ed]. I have the sum total of eight CDs and a DVD (!) of pictures to date, and a handful by email! Wow! And that was before the end of August (!) - as I said, I’m in shock!! I have to admit to having had very little time to myself this Summer so perusing said CDs hasn’t actually happened yet... probably will have though by the time you read this! This doesn’t mean however if you still have your mitts on some hot (or just plain filthy!) pictures that you needn’t send them in to me. I really did mean I can never have too many - keep them coming!! Thanks very much for listening (and sending). There’s even been a suggestion of holding an annual photo competition to encourage people to use the camps’ (and people’s own) cameras and improve the composition/content/general quality of the pictures we use for publicity. Thanks Chris! Needs more thought than I can give at the mo as the dreaded time is upon me but I’m sure various email conversations will ensue once things quieten down (do they ever?!). As to the logistics front (probably more of a ‘back’ at this time of year!) there are a few items that need a quick mention. Number One is that the lovely new PPE bags purchased at the start of this year’s main camps season by our illustrious chairman don’t really like being reduced down into a flat-pack object! I know there are various bags out there now that can be twisted and folded down to take up less room but our new bags aren’t quite of that variety! Yes, you can squash them down but first you need to remove the ‘ribs’ that are about as straight as a screaming queen in a meringue in Las Vegas (no insult intended!) once they’ve been ‘folded down’! On second thoughts, the likelihood of the ribs being lost if removed is probably too probable (some would say inevitable!) that it isn’t worth it so just keep them in one piece unfolded please! Thanks!
Number Two is Toaster Abuse! And I don’t mean there are campers out there trying to put a sixslice Dualit Toaster up their nose (although an interesting idea)!! No, just the usual, boring kind of abuse our toasters have to endure year after year! Yes it’s the return of the knives! I’m sure there’s some witty article writing to be had from that but not here and not now. Don’t put those bloody knives in the toaster (please!) ... How many times do I have to say it?!! Aargh! I think I need to set up a Toaster helpline for distressed toasters that feel they need somewhere/someone to turn to! Needless to say some special ‘toaster tongs’ are to be purchased shortly, which will be ‘chained’ to each toaster (thanks for discovering them Jude!)! No wonder the feet keep disappearing... I’d walk if I were disturbed that frequently! And it’s not cheap at a fiver per element thank you very much!!! [Best put that in the budget Rick!] Oh, and just a brief point of note: when I ask what’s in the First Aid kits to see if I need to send anything out to replenish stocks please don’t tell me what’s missing instead! I ordered more First Aid stuff this Summer as it appeared from various forms of information that stuff had been used (which is fine, that’s what it’s there for) but when it came to it I found it wasn’t actually required because there were very few things actually used. The cost of replacement items soon adds up and we usually end up having to replace everything because it’s out-of-date rather than used! Bit of a waste of money there for this year. You see, the whinge returns ... I’m sure most of you (who are actually bothering to read this) only read my articles to ‘see what the whinge is today’! We aim not to disappoint! But I am still fairly impressed on the photos front so I’m not going to harp on any more! Talking of harps ... I could murder a pint of Guinness!! Hope you all enjoyed digging this summer (you lucky bastards that managed to, that is! And you Toaster Maimers!) Just Jen wrg logistics PS Please send any CDs full of camps pictures to me at: 45, Glebe Road, SHEFFIELD.S10 1FB and any by email to email@example.com. Thanks.
* A very old WRG NA in-joke
WRG Boat Club News September 2005
I am writing this while we are on our way back from the ‘National’ with Lynx. I hope all the club members attending enjoyed the event as much as we did. It was a successful festival for the boat club and for us. It was very nice to see so many of our members there and be able to spend time together. The most meaningful event for us was the historic boat parade, for personal reasons. The Illuminated Boat Parade was enormous fun, (and we won the trophy, so the initials ‘wrg bc’ will be on that one). Many thanks to Mike Chessher for his help setting up the lights and joining in the fun as the Mad Hatter. How Fred managed to avoid all the boats and not run aground (unlike some??) when navigating down that narrow channel passing all the moored boats, considering our headlight had packed up by the time we reached the first bridge, I shall never know!
The latest news from WRG’s own Boat Club But here are some salient points -
. . .
If anyone has photos of Lynx on the illuminated boat parade please, please let me have copies, by mail or e-mail, I will pay any expenses. Many congratulations to Steph Lorenz for her prize winning cake entry which won the Rank Hovis McDougall Trophy, so the initials ‘wrg bc’ will be on that one too! Sadly Lynx failed to win the Alfred Ritchie Cockerel (aka ‘that *** chicken’) for the best turnedout working boat, but we haven’t carried any cargo, other than plastic chairs or councillors, for a while. Fred having a heart attack then surgery last Nov is a very poor excuse I know, so should anyone hear of a brewery wanting to get beer, or similar, to Beale Park please inform us before others offer to take it! What a wonderful gathing of members for the AGM/social. Most of the members that were at the ‘National’ managed to get along and it was really good to see everyone. It was held at 9.30pm in the theatre which seemed to suit more of us. We had hoped to have it by the moorings but there wasn’t really enough room (should we have tried in the hold of Lynx?) but the main reason was the distance from site. Many members were hard at work most of the time and the long trek to the moorings would have been too much to ask. Minutes from the AGM will be circulated by snail mail, as I’m sure the editor wants to fit more than our news into this edition of Navvies! [Although some of the readers might find it a little tedious, I really wouldn’t mind filling an entire issue with WRGBC minutes, Sadie - at least you send your stuff in on time! ...Ed]
Many thanks to Bernard Hughes for making such a good job of the trophy. The idea of a block booking was popular and worked well (I’m avoiding any mention of location of the mooring). So please get those forms and cheques for Beale Park off to Edwina ASAP. SUBS remain at the bargain price of £10 and if you haven’t coughed up by now you are overdue. You know of the terrible fate that will befall you if you don’t PAY UP NOW. Cheques made out to ‘wrg bc’ and sent to me at address given below please.
Dates for your new 2006 calendars:
National Campaign Rally May 27th - 29th Basingstoke Canal (also Wendover so two locations to choose from) The ‘National’ Aug 26th - 29th Beale Park on The Thames.
Any others where boats can attend please let me know. A personal bit now: I wish to thank Mike & Judith on Pinvin for thoughtfully bringing some extra water just for us, and Bernard & Ann Hughes for filling our Buckby can and for letting me have a shower on their boat. There was a very friendly atmosphere at our moorings and wrg bc are NOT a noisy lot, as some nameless person accused us! For the information of others equally misinformed, we aren’t the ‘West Riding Group B C’, and certainly not the ‘Waterway Recovery Geriatrics Boat Club’. (It may well be ‘Orf with his head’ when I find out who coined that one!) xxx Sadie Dean Contact me at: 236 Station Rd, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 2HA. Phone 01733204505, mobile: 07748186867, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good news for the Ashby Canal. Plus another Xmas camp WRG Forestry... ...would like me to pass on their congratulations to Clive Alderman on having become a fully-certified chainsaw-wielding member of the team.
IWA Jubilee shortlist As mentioned in the last issue, our parent body The Inland Waterways Association is looking for a suitable restoration project to support with a grant of £100,000 to mark the IWA Diamond Jubilee next year. Ten projects are shortlisted, from which the winner will be chosen in October... Cotswold Canals (Stonepitts Bridge); Driffield Navigation (Wansford Lock); Droitwich Junction Canal (Barge Lock, Droitwich); Ashton Canal Hollinwood Branch (a one-mile length at Daisy Nook); Melton Mowbray Navigation (Syston Junction Bridge); Montgomery Canal (the length beyond the current limit at Gronwen Bridge, Maesbury); Sankey Canal (Hey Lock); Sleaford Navigation (new bridge and waterway terminus in Sleaford); Wilts & Berks Canal (building the first section of a new route where the canal joins the Thames) With the exception of the Melton Mowbray, all of these are suitable for volunteer work - and likely to be keeping us busy in 2006 as one of the year’s main WRG Canal Camp sites.
Winston Harwood We are very sorry to have to bring you the news that Winston Harwood of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust died on September 1st, after a long battle with cancer. Winston was the Trust’s main man at Lordings, near the south end of the waterway, where he masterminded the restoration of the lock, flood gates, aqueduct, bridge, and led the construction of a fully working replica of the unique waterwheel that fed the canal. Less than two months ago, on the day of the Haybarn Bridge openeing, he was showing us around his achievements at Lordings and describing the plans for the future. He was insprirational, well-liked, and will be sadly missed.
...to Dr Liz Williamson on receiving the IWA’s John Heap Salver award for fundraising, for her role as co-ordinator of the Right Tool for the Right Job appeal. IWA Chairman John Fletcher is seen presenting the award at Preston Brook.
Alternative Christmas Camp For those who would like a choice or more variety of work, there will be the usual camp on the Wilts & Berks on December 26th - January 1st. We shall be doing some scrub-bashing, but mostly we shall be hedgelaying at Seven Locks between Locks 3 and 4. There will obviously have to be plenty of big bonfires to burn our brash and keep us warm! If the weather is kind to us, we shall also be doing some bricklaying and concreting. Accommodation will be in the cosy Foxham Reading Rooms. Contact Rachael Banyard on 01249 892249 or 07767 895244 for further details. Di Smurthwaite
Good News: Ashby gets TWO OK, so you’re wondering exactly what Ashby now has 2 of. Well, nothing, actually: it’s just gained a T.W.O., Transport & Works Order. This is a new way of getting the necessary permission to go ahead with restoration (in this case, of the length from the current head of navigation near Snarestone to Measham, including a diversion via an old railway track), with powers of compulsory purchase by the local authority if necessary. It’s the first time this has been done for a canal scheme, and could point the way to future Orders on other waterways under restoration.
Sorry no room... ...for Nick Wright’s fascinating and entertaining memories of David Hutchings. They’ll be in the next issue.
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293
Change of address Found after the National... One socket set. If anyone has lost a set please contact John Baylis on email: email@example.com or Tel: 01623 621208
Online Navvies subscriptions Don’t forget: You can now take out or renew Navvies subs online at www.waterways.org.uk/ restoration/index.htm or at www.iwashop.com/ecommerce/ products.asp?cat=126
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
WRG webmaster Dan Evans has moved to: 57 Pagoda Road, Richmond TW9 2HQ Tel: 020 8332 9409 If you move house, don’t forget to tell ‘Navvies’ your new details.
Congratulations to Dave ‘Taz’ Tarrant and Jo ‘Smudge’ Smith on their engagement
Free to good home: A dinghy. ‘Pablo’ Haworth of Basingstoke Canal fame has a fibreglass dinghy approximately 12ft long by 5ft wide. The wooden trim may need some attention. It is FREE to any canal restoration group that can make use of it. More info from Pablo on 01932 342081.
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, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, Helen Davey, Roger Day, Neil Edwards, George Eycott, 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 © 2005 WRG Tel : 01923 711114 Registered no 4305322 ISSN 0953-6655
Backfill Captions... ...suggested to the pictures on the back page of the last two issues include the following for the pic of Steve Barrett... “I understand the editor doesn’t mind what colour or creed, but he does like them to have visited the local smimming pooll” - John Fletcher “Anyone got a footpump I can borrow?” - Frank Wallder “Phwoar! This is the dirtiest lass I’ve had hold of for a long time!” - Andy Overton “BCN Cleanup (mud spa division) can accept no responsibility for any body part shrinkage which may occur during the use of their product” - anon ...while an eagle-eyed reader spotted what the (non-smoker, as it happens) editor appears to be holding in his other hand in this pic...
“Just wait until it farts and I’ll strike this lighter” - Andy Overton (again) Not content with supplying captions to both pics, Andy goes one stage further and suggests an alternative caption for one of the other photos in issue 212... The (albeit accurate) caption to the photo of the opening of Whinhill Lock on p4 was rather dull. Far better the headline “Day ends in tragedy as Mayor of Driffield mistakes high voltage electrical cable for ceremonial ribbon”. Andy asks: “Have I got too much time on my hands?” I have to say that if I happened to be looking around for a replacement editor, then “I’m too busy” would not be a valid excuse in his case. But in the meantime here’s some of my own... “John winced as he experienced the grip that had won Liz the Princes Risborough district arm-wrestling title three years running” (see p34 top right) “James hit on a novel way of ensuring that the volunteers did not leave the camp until the vans had been thoroughly cleaned” (p27 bottom right) I’m sure you can do better!
Introducing the WRG Fictionary I am indebted to Frank Wallder of Essex WRG for the following... Having just finished a camp with the usual proportion of first-timers, I realised the dangers inherent in our use of jargon. So many of the terms we take for granted could be, by outsiders, open to misinterpretation, for instance: Tirfor: someone who finishes off a site by laying grass Gongoozler: a person who has drunk themselves to sleep Scrub bashing: malicious gossip about fallen women The right tool for the right job: straight sex
Chipper: an assistant in a fish shop Camp chef: an effeminate leader Logistics: who is living with whom BITM: kinky sex
Frank says “no connection to any particular WRGie is implied - but it may have been intended...” Any more similar items gratefully received.
And finally... I was intrigued to read recently about something called the “National Water Maze Museum” in Gloucester. A mistake? Should it have read ‘National Waterways Museum’ perhaps? Well, if I’d come across it in a tabloid daily, or on the website of a local paper, or even in one of the glossy canal mags, that might have seemed likely. But it was actually in Hansard, the official written record of the proceedings of the Houses of Parliament. So it must be true, then!