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avvies N Volunteers restoring waterways No 214 December 2005 - January 2006

...and by this time next year weツ値l have built it!

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 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for No 215: January 1st.

Subscriptions

In this issue:

Editorial What future for the Basingstoke? 3 Chairman’s comment 4-5 Coming soon the Christmas Camp and next 6-7 year’s BCN Cleanup weekend Camp reports from the Grand Western and 8-13 Wilts & Berks canals Foxton Finale WRG Forestry finish clearing 14-15 the Inclined Plane Diary Canal Camp and working party dates18-20 Camps 2006 full schedule 21 Progress the Dig Deep projects 22-23 Essex WRG on the Chelmer 24-25 Bonfire Bash report from wettest Wales 26-28 Safety 2WD dumpers and Stihl saw discs 29 Boat Club WRGBC News 30 Appeal for a new Graham Palmer stone 31 Barn Dance buy your tickets now! 32 Navvies News Save you Xmas stamps!33-34 Noticeboard and job ads! 35 Backfill the Falkirk Wheel and toasters! 36

And next time...

A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 (please add a donation if pos- ....we hope to include sible) 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

Marrtin Ludgate

Cover photo: The Inland Waterways Association has chosen its Diamond Jubilee Project - construction of the first section of a diversionary route for the Wilts & Berks Canal where it will leave the Thames at a new junction and take a deviation around the south side of Abingdon. We will be holding four Canal Camps there in 2006 - and I’m sure the regional groups will be welcome support it with working weekends. And all being well, it will be complete in time for folks attending the National Festival at nearby Beale Park to admire our work. (photo by Wilts & Berks Canal Trust) Below: The latest addition to the WRG fleet: a Land Rover intended to tow a trailer-mounted generator as a succesor to ‘Sammy’ . The new vehicle appears to have acquired the nickname of ‘The Pasty Wagon’.

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A future for restored canals One criticism that has in the past been levelled (sometimes rightly) at the restoration movement is that not enough attention is paid to making sure that once we have restored a waterway, somebody will look after it for the foreseeable future. Those with longer memories will recall the Stratford Blitzes of the 1970s and 1980s, when volunteers did their best to supplement the limited resources of the Stratford Canal’s owners the National Trust, and keep the canal navigable. Eventually a way was found to transfer the canal to British Waterways (this is not simple - BW is not permitted to saddle itself with extra liabilities without its budget being increased accordingly) and secure its future. But for a while there was a very real chance that the canal that so many had worked so hard to restore in the early 1960s might close which would have been a disaster for the waterway restoration movement, as well as the loss of a beautiful and historic waterway for everyone. In more recent times, there has been a much greater awareness of maintenance issues - canal societies are getting involved in maintaining restored lengths of canal, and in bringing in local authorities and/or BW to ensure that a maintenance regime is in place when the canal opens. But just recently there have been two worrying cases where this seems not to have happened... A future for the Chelmer & Blackwater The first is the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. Many who were active volunteers in the early 1990s will recall working with IWA Chelmsford Branch to reopen the topmost length of this picturesque Essex river navigation. But ten years later we could have lost the entire waterway, as the Company of Proprietors of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation faced bankruptcy. Unable to cover their expenses from their small income (hardly surprising, given that no other pleasure boat waterway in the company survives as a commercial business without subsidy) the company was placed in Administration, while interested parties tried to find a way of saving it from possible liquidation - which would have meant the waterway closing and the property reverting to the riverside landowners. The good news is that a satisfactory settlement has been reached. The company’s creditors will receive a proportion of what they are owed from the sale of most of the remaining non-operational property - and will accept this as a final settlement of debts. The company’s assets, business and the day-to-day running of the navigation will be handed over to IWA (actually a subsidiarly called Essex Waterways Trust). Indications of willingness to provide financial support have been received from local authorities - and volunteers are needed to get the waterway back into good working order.

Editorial

Can we keep the canals open once they’re restored? Essex WRG have already held a work party there (see p24-25), and if Doug Beard of Chelmsford IWA hasn’t already been after your group to help, then it’s only a matter of time... or you could just surprise him by offering before you are asked! A future for the Basingstoke? Another waterway that we old-timers remember is the Basingstoke Canal, scene of many weekend work-parties - and some legendary KESCRG camps - around the 1980s. (And where yours truly went on his first London WRG dig at Easter 1982) In theory, after the canal reopened in 1991 it was to be maintained by the local authority funding. Well it’s a nice theory, but unfortunately as they are under no legal obligation to pay their share it tends to be something that gets cut whenever money’s short. With the result that 14 years later it’s receiving only 20% of the maintenance budget that a similar BW canal might get, and there are fears that a serious maintenance backlog is building up. Matters have been brought to a head recently with the decision by the canal’s Joint Management Committee (which includes representatives of the county councils and the Canal Trust) to commission studies into all the options for the future of the canal - including complete closure. This option appears unlikely compared to the alternatives (such as trying to find another organisation to run the waterway, seeking funding from external sources, or attempting to formalise the current funding arrangements to ensure that councils pay their share), and the Canal Society have only accepted the inclusion of the closure option because otherwise the studies might be open to criticism for not considering all possibilities. But the fact that closure is being considered at all indicates the seriousness of the situation - and we just might have a battle to save it from shutting. So what can we do? Well for starters, next year’s IWA campaign Rally will be on the Basingstoke Canal on the late Spring Bank Holiday - and deserves our support. WRG Boat Club are hoping to get lots of their members there, and a WRG team will be helping with site services. And if enough of us show that we care about the Basingstoke’s future, it’s just possible that its owners might show a bit more commitment. Martin Ludgate

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Chairman Chairman’s Comment The big news is that the IWA have confirmed their Diamond Jubilee project - this summer we will be spending a quite a bit of time on the Wilts and Berks Canal! But the effect of this support from IWA will be felt on many sites: local societies sat down and came up with 32 projects that had the potential to be the Jubilee project. Permissions were sought, projects were thought through from beginning to end, work schedules were planned and written down. For all those volunteers frustrated by working parties where the very next day doesn’t seem to have been considered - let alone the next working party - this should all be good news.

Normally this issue of Navvies comes with at least a promise of the Canal Camps Brochure. Well no promises this time, however the basic schedule should be included somewhere [See page 20 ...Ed] and it looks a pretty varied and interesting selection so far. You may notice that it does not include a Camp at the Saul festival. This does not mean that we won’t be providing support, it is just that we feel it is inappropriate to give it a Camp when what it really requires is a small group of slightly more experienced volunteers. Indeed next year we will need even more festival support from WRG volunteers as the same can be said for the IWA festivals on the Lancaster Canal (Trailboat) and the Basingstoke Canal (Campaign). Both of these festivals deserve our support, so expect to see more in the next Navvies about how you can help out. Talking of Canal Camps, when the brochure does appear you may well notice one significant change. From 2006 we are raising the minimum age limit for bookings for Canal Camps to eighteen.

Dave ‘Tenko’ Johnson

We are very sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Dave Johnson, known to most of us in WRG as Tenko, died on November 14th aged 46. We will be publishing an appreciation in Navvies 215, but here are some words from WRG Chairman Mike Palmer: In my office I have a photograph of myself abseiling down the Anderton Boat Lift. For ten brief seconds I was upside down, trussed up in a harness and spinning around. And that is pretty much how I remember Tenko. Oh, except that he did it all day, and he usually had a chainsaw buzzing away! I can’t remember when Tenko got involved with WRG - he just appeared in Mick Beattie’s Logistics team. And right from the start, one thing became apparent: if you heard Tenko say “That’s going to go wrong. You want to do it properly.” then sure enough... Not that Tenko ever took pleasure in his predictions coming true. He was always the first to join in helping you to put it all back together, advising on errors, and patiently helping you to learn from your mistakes. ‘The right tool for the right job’ is a valuable and important lesson for us all - and Tenko was its exemplar. One of WRG Forestry Team’s most important work-sites so far has been Froghall Basin on the Uttoxeter Canal. From Julie Arnold of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Trust... Tenko and Alison came to the re-opening of the first lock and basin of the Uttoxeter Canal on July 23rd; we were so pleased to see them because it was WRG Forestry who enabled the practical restoration work to get under way at such a pace. In December 2002 Tenko, Sparky and Alison surveyed the huge trees growing at all angles from out of the lock walls and basin: they were completely undaunted and came to work with us repeatedly - conscientiously and with good humour - over the next two years until every tree had been felled and accounted for. Canal Trust colleagues and I were deeply saddened to hear of Tenko’s death; as our work party organiser John Rider described him “a grand chap”. Our sympathies go to Alison, to the rest of the WRG Forestry Team and to all his friends and family for the loss of someone truly unique.

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This is not a reaction to ‘Young People Today’ as, by and large, we have always found them to be good-natured, well-meaning, hardworking people who, if they have any fault at all, it is to remind us that we are not as young as we would like to think we are. This is much more a reaction to ‘Young Peoples Legislation Today’. You see, in an attempt to ensure that nasty people do not take advantage of these vulnerable (!) young folks, they have created a few new rules. Chief among them is the Licensing Act which puts much more responsibility on those exercising a duty of care. In this case it is our leaders who would cop for any problems - and we do not think that is fair. So, instead of young people being introduced to the pleasures of public (house) life from within a responsible adult arrangement where, if wished, mistakes can be made safely (that’s a Canal Camp in case you don’t recognise it), young people now have to find out about drinking in Ibiza with their mates or behind the bike sheds with their mates, both of which represent far more peer pressure and danger than any Canal Camp. But off the soapbox and back to WRG events: a particularly groovy Bonfire Bash (special thanks to Spencer C and Alan B) was held on the Mon and Brec last month. The big event was not the acres of work completed, nor the partying as everyone met up after the summer, but the moment when the WRG committee had a proactive moment and decided to do something differently next year! For years, we have held our Sunday committee meeting at the Bonfire Bash so that we can plan our works programme for the following year. This has meant that as everybody packs up and leaves we are able to show them a draft version of the Canal Camps programme.

So this time I came up with the crafty plan that if we had the meeting on the Saturday we could (a) actually check with the local societies that they are happy with the suggested dates, etc. and (b) spend the Saturday night and Sunday recruiting leaders and other key people for the right sites, etc. So, even more than ever, beware of people offering you a drink on the Saturday night - who knows what you might end up leading? There has been a bit of a change on the vehicles front as well. By the time you read this our minibus GCW should have been transferred to WRG North-West (minus a few seats). The old NorthWest bus (SKN) will have gone to the scrap yard in the sky. Three of the missing seats from GCW have been bolted into RFB to make that into a 9seater which suits our needs better during the winter months. And at this January’s WRG committee meeting we will be deciding exactly what the replacement for GCW will be. Additionally we have finally decided that our much-loved generator vehicle ‘Sammy’ is getting too unreliable for the important jobs it was being asked to do. So we have replaced it with a Land Rover. Yes I know we said we would never have another one of these but, in this particular case, it does seem to be the right tool for this particular specialist job. This does mean that we have to dispose of Bungle - if you think you know of anyone who may be interested please contact Sammy. [err... I think he’s got that the wrong way round. ...Ed] Finally despite the fact that we have tried to keep it in the background many people will have been aware that there has been a great deal of effort being exerted to resolve some of the greyness that affects the finances of WRG. The WRG Board now feels that we now have a solid set of rules for WRG funds that ensures they can be used for the correct purposes. This should not really affect most readers as we have always tried to let those who want to dig just get on with it. BUT it will have one very positive change. As from January all donations associated with Navvies subscriptions will qualify for gift-aid. Further info will come with your Navvies subscriptions but it does mean that your money goes even further with us. So even more reason to come out and spend a day or two digging with us. I hope to see you all next year on one site or another.

For MKP and friends, Saturday night’s entertainment at Hugs and kisses the Bonfire Bash was planning 2006’s Canal Camps

Mike Palmer

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Coming soon

The Christmas camp and the 2006 BCN Cleanup

And first it’s over to Moose to tell us what’s happening at New Year on the Cromford... Hi, just a reminder regarding the WRG New year Camp. The Camp starts officially on the Boxing Day (that’s the 26th December) and finishes on the 1st January. But I have been asked if the camp could start on the 24th December Christmas Eve, if enough people are interested and the locals agree that might be possible.

If you are interested in coming out to play a couple of days early then call me. At the moment various people have shown interest but I do need a couple more people to come forward to make it worthwhile. This is because the local canal society will be paying for the extra time we have the hall, and they have been quoted £50.00 per day. In return, if we start the camp early, it would be expected for us to go on site - that’s right, on Chrismas day! - to achieve some work, even if it is mostly preparation for the main camp. The work as mentioned in the last Navvies is scrub bashing with the odd fire or two! I have spoken to Sparky from the WRG Forestry Team and they are hoping to come and join us, (maybe for a day or two), to lighten the workload for the rest of us with their chainsaws. Because this camp is over the Christmas period, some people have said that there are problems in trying to arrange public transport. If you need to travel by public transport and are having trouble with trains etc let me know. If you are coming by car and are happy to provide a lift or two, again can you contact me. Perhaps we can get some vehicle-sharing arranged. The Accommodation will be at Waingroves Community Hall. Nice village hall with very good central heating (honest we had to turn 99% of the radiators off last year - and there was snow on the ground outside). The theme for the fancy dress party on New Year’s Eve will be decided soon and we will let people know what it is.

Steve Barrett

As always, please book on through Head Office (preferred option), or email to me. If you want to come for just a few days, that’s no problem, but do let me know when you are hoping to arrive and depart. Local WRGies will be expected to attend and show willing. (well, there’s no harm in expecting...)

The murky waters of the BCN Walsall Canal yield up their treasure - in this case a shopping trolley - during the 2005 Cleanup. What will we find this time?

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On a serious note: for anyone who is allergic to animals, there will be dogs in the accommodation Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden Tel: 07961 922153, moose@wrg.org.uk


BCN Cleanup: March 18-19 2006 on the Wyrley & Essington Canal What do computers, traffic lights, bicycles, washing-machines and kitchen sinks have in common? That’s right - they’re all things that have been discarded in the murky waters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations by local folks who find it so much more convenient than a trip to the local tip (or maybe they think it is the local tip!), only for our volunteers to haul them out on the annual BCN Cleanup weekend. The whole point of the weekend is to try to keep these fascinating but underused wateways clear of rubbish to stop them becoming blocked and useless - and as their official status as ‘remainder waterways’ means that British Waterways are severely limited in how much money they can spend on maintaining them, it’s only because of our efforts that some of these waterways are open at all. It has to be said that there is also something of a competitive spirit among the participants on the cleanup - who seemed genuinely disappointed about the poor quality and small quantity of the crap that we heaved out of the Wyrley & Essington two years ago, and much relieved at the far better supply of junk in the Walsall last year! And although we do seem to be gradually making progress towards a slightly less rubbish-filled BCN over the years, we can assure volunteers that the section of canal chosen for the 2006 Cleanup will not disappoint, either in the quality or quantity of garbage. The length in question is the part of the Wyrley & Essington Canal between Birchills Junction and Sneyd Junction, with an overspill site further east in case we run out of work. Accommodation has not yet been booked, but will be available on both Friday and Saturday nights: full details will appear in the next Navvies and on the WRG website, and will be sent out to everyone who books. Alternatively you are welcome to just turn up for the day on either or both days - in which case you should go to the signing-in point: details in the next Navvies. Aileen Butler (07703 567764) will be the WRG leader for the Cleanup: she has already recruited Andy Richardson and Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden as team leaders, but I’m sure other offers of help would be appreciated. It is expected that BW will as usual provide grappling hooks and gloves. And Jude Moore has once again volunteered to lead the catering team! So what are you waiting for? Send your booking form in today!

waterway recovery group

in association with BCNS, BW and IWA

I would like to attend the 2006 National Canal Cleanup on Mar 18-19 on the BCN Forename:

Surname:

Address: e-mail: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

I require accommodation Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £

(pay 'WRG') for food (£10 for whole weekend; £2.00 for each meal)

Do you suffer from any allergy or illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition? YES / NO (If yes, please attach details) In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:

Phone:

Signed (parent's signature also required if aged under 18): Please send this form to National Cleanup bookings, WRG, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY

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Camp report

“...the sparkling waters of the Grand Western...” A Holiday in the South

Set in the sparkling waters of the Grand Western Canal just a stone’s throw from Tiverton, this wharf and lime kilns were a paradise for energetic WRGies. The canal is an eleven mile linear country park, in the care of the local Canal Rangers. From the kilns on a good day you can see the fish playing in the slow flowing waters, and hear the cows lapping at the waters edge. Over the border in Somerset, there plans to extend this oasis of calm so it can be reunited with the canal network at Taunton.

The Chauffeur refuelling There was much contrast between the lush green of the lime kilns and the hot sun of the stone cutting yard. But the climate was not the only difference, at the lime kilns the focus was on the amazing history with a plethora of finds from days gone by, while the yard benefited from an orchard and evidence of apiculture. The wharf was characterised by the variety of hands on activities to keep the sun-kissed fun lovers entranced. In addition to the activities on the canal, there were excursions to local sites of interest: dipping into the Egyptian-style architecture of the Wellington Monument; the cultural and epicural offerings of Wellington town; and participating in a game or two at the local skittle alleys. For those who hail from foreign climes this was an excellent insight into English village life (Bernd, Kristy, Camille, Sam).

Alan Lines

Stone laying, stone cutting, step building, scrub bashing, bridge painting, and boat pulling were all on offer here. However if the mere act of reading about all that activity makes you feel exhausted, don’t worry as this camp also had some amazing spa and bar facilities in which we whiled the evenings away.

Alan Lines

Judith Gordon and Kev Pope report on the laid back rolling hills of Devon, to put the spring back in your step this Winter.

D of E book signatures being earned

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Travel around the area was facilitated by a fleet of shiny red carriages driven by a committed team of chauffeurs (Phil, Alan, Mitch, Jenni), dressed in their finest WRG uniforms.


Alan Lines

Relaxing in the orchard There were opportunities for individuals to express themselves through the media of dance (Hayley), yoga (Michelle & Camille), living statues (Sam) and water therapy (Siobhan). Enlightenment was reached by one blessed soul (Nat), as he discovered he could indeed walk on water. This was a rare event as others failed when trying to follow in his steps (Kev). Some of the holidaymakers took the initiative to strengthen local business relations. This was achieved through early morning morale boosting sessions (Hayley, Tracey and numerous other bikinis), which received a favourable response.

The culinary artistry on this holiday had established such a reputation that the locals were known to travel from miles around to sample the delights of WRG catering (Mitch & helpers), leaving some campers with less than their usual number of helpings (Robert). So whatever you are looking for, from a romantic getaway (yes, the rumours are true: we got engaged, on a canal camp, in the local) to an action packed adventure, why not visit the Grand Western? Keep your eye out for any future digs in this idyllic landscape.

For those fashion conscious amongst us there were a variety of styles on display, from the charity shop trolley dash (Kristy) through to the “one-size fits all” overall (Tom). By the end of the holiday most were happy to sit about just wearing a blanket (amongst other games). A style to suit everybody.

Kev Pope

Like the fashion, the accommodation was varied. We stayed in Burlescombe village hall on anything from a WWII camp bed (Mitch) or an inflatable mattress (those sensible WRGies), the marquee or wheelbarrow on site (Frank & Ben), through to the bare hall floor (pillows and bedding optional)(Sam). Electrical facilities were also available, if a spare socket could be found amongst the technophiles that populated this holiday (Alan and all mobile phone users).

Judith Gordon Kevin Pope

Idyllic waters of the Grand Western

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Camp report

October at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks Wilts and Berks (again!) Oct 22nd-29th. Ooooo-errrr! What had I let myself in for? My first time as a deputy camp leader, admittedly for an experienced leader in the form of Smudge and an excellent cook in the form of Dr Liz. In the blink of an eye the camp had become full, then full with a waiting list. It seemed that we were getting emails and phone calls almost daily asking if we could accept “just one more….” but having paced out the accommodation during a site visit we had to stop at 24. Plus two in B&B. Oh yes, and another two commuting daily from Oxford. Plus Helen ‘Bush’ joining us for the first few days and James Butler popping down mid camp sleeping behind the post office counter…. Well, you get the picture. Dr Liz spotted that we had two sets of twins on camp. Confusion here we come!

Saturday dawned fair and, familiar WRGie faces started to arrive. The camp was male biased, older rather than younger, with a lot of experience. Steve Barrett the main trainer for the week, Rob “hollow legs” Brotherston, Paul “laughing boy” Ireson, Martin Worsley (plus chainsaw), Jonathon Todd (minus chainsaw), David Harris and Ian Nicholson. We had some “returnees” from the summer camp too. Becca “The Wrecker” Royce who came back ’cos she didn’t get muddy enough in the summer and Keith “Crusty” Lown (K Lown, = Crusty the Clown from The Simpsons) and his partner Helga who had their first camp in Aug and been bitten by the bug. Becca had brought her other half Mark . For him, it was a choice between canal camp or designing computer chips... Becca normally teaches teenagers in Reading so a week’s hard labour was a “walk in the park” for her! Rowena Gaskell had done some WRG work before but wanted to do a full week on a “local” canal and started the week commuting daily from Oxford. First timers included Tobi a student nurse, Alan who bought his kayak with him(!) and James Perry – who had done ‘Nationals’ but no proper camp! Also Steve Gardner, a professional brickie who lives on a narrowboat near Oxford and wanted to “put something back”. The “Dof-E-ers” included our two sets of twins (a WRG first?) Phil & Tim Pearse (identical twins) and Robert & William Cheyne (as near identical as made no difference).

Taz & Smudge

Despite locked brakes on the kit trailer at Tom’s farm, we got to the accommodation at Foxham Reading Rooms late Friday, the shower block having been delivered earlier that day without generator or plumbing - “tomorrow’s problem”.

Our tasks for the week were to carry on from where the summer camps had left off, on the Seven Locks flight near RAF Lyneham, rebuilding the lower wing walls of lock 3 and digging out the chamber of lock 4. Locks 3 and 4 had water flowing and lock 4 had to be pumped out every morning - about 90 mins work. Brick/block laying, concreting and shovelling “gloop” would thus be the main work of the week. There was also some hedgelaying between the two locks, with Di leading. Rachael Banyard (our local contact) had a range of additional tasks for any spare bods.

Tim mixes mortar

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I qualified for the first “Spanner of the day” award when I sent MK2 to Swindon railway station to collect the Cheynes – two days early! They weren’t due till Monday – Doh! Oliver Wottoon made up the last of the D-of-E-ers and he proved to be a very useful member of the team.


As it happened, Alan turned out to be a canoe instructor, Phil and Tim are mad canoe enthusiasts and Paul is an ex canoe nut so evening conversation for them was sorted! Our last two team members were brothers Nick and Tim Snow. I first met them on the Basingstoke camp in ’03. Tim has some minor disabilities but loves being outdoors watching diggers, dumpers and his favourite – cement mixers. Nick was keen to spend another week with his brother on a canal camp so after talking through a few health and safety issues we were able to get the pair of them doing their fair share of work on the mixer team. Tim even turned his hand to alerting us to when the cows were about to invade site! We were able to do a site visit in the light, starting at the part-buried Lock 2 where the road crosses the canal: trees to thin, scrub to bash, fires to burn. Lock 3 was the main site – brick & block laying plus concrete back filling. A false start on Lock 4 some years ago had left much of the tow path side wall removed and the off side wall front layers largely removed as well. Much of it seemed to have ended up in the lock along with 80+ years of sediment, bits of metalwork and rotten gates etc. The summer camp had made a start clearing it and had got about 12ft from the tail of the invert. Now we had to clear the rest of the chamber to reveal the invert and the first 3 to 5 feet height of wall for engineering assessment.

Sunday being Sunday, Dr Liz did us a wonderful roast beef dinner using organic beef from local “happy” cows… It rained that night, I mean REALLY rained! Monday. Diary entry: “Weather forecast: Abandon hope!” Wet on site with both lock bywashes working flat out, Lock 3’s flooding part of the work area. Diary: “First task of the day – to build a bridge over the river that wasn’t there yesterday!” The RAF seem to have found some cash down the back of a sofa, and are sending all manner of aircraft past us in to RAF Lyneham – a busman’s holiday for me, as MK2 said. Oli was voted “digger of the day” for services above and beyond the call of duty. Pyromaniacs on camp were amazed when Bush managed to get the wettest pile of crud to burst in to flame and went on to consume large quantities of scrub – the fire that is, not Bush. This was repeated the next day, much to the joy of Paul and John who were to become our chief fire stokers for the week.

Other tasks included general scrub bashing around the sites, LOADS of burning, preparing the hedge for the hedge laying team, some tree felling and getting wet/muddy! With the Foxham Inn, a real ale pub, less than 5 mins walk away, can you guess what we did that night?

Lock 3 team meanwhile managed to lay quite a few bricks and blocks before rain stopped play, and so they continued to set out bricks and blocks for the next day. Steve the brickie was looking after the team on one wing wall with Rob (any seconds?) Brotherston on the other one.

Taz & Smudge

Sunday Our first day on site at Lock 4 was spent trying to stop the flow of water through the lock by resealing the stop planks with clay and deepening the temporary bywash in order to flow more water – something that Lock 3 would later come to curse us for… The camp diary for the day reads “Wiltshire bywash brigade state that their digging was a restoration, not a re-enactment of First World War trenches. Judging the depth by the height of Paul’s waders is not a good idea as he is so short!”

Chamber clearance at Lock 4

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Camp Report

“RAF Lyneham were asking aircraft to avoid our smoke...” The evening game was teams A and B coming up with two bits of bizarre info per person that the other team then had to guess who they belonged to. Tuesday. Diary: “First task of the day: replacing the bridge we built across the bywash yesterday!” The “new improved” bywash around Lock 4 was carrying so much water that Lock 3 was filling up and the scaffold planks were floating away! Another pump was hired to pump it out and the Lock 4 bywash was temporarily dammed – but not before Alan thought of grabbing his kayak… Late start to both main sites due to flooding! Slippy underfoot but good progress later as the wind started to dry things off. Scrub fires on site meant freshly cooked jacket spuds for lunch. Scrummy! RFB had a sulk in Wootton Bassett and wouldn’t start for Dr Liz so MK2 went to threaten it with a large hammer and it changed its mind.

Off to a local pub to play skittles: “normal” skittles first, then “Dr Liz’s rules” where you bowl backwards or standing on one leg, left handed, with your eyes shut etc. Strangely, Rob was better at the “Dr Liz’s rules” stuff, as was Tim when he was out of his wheel chair and grinning like a Cheshire cat. Wednesday. Now I’m not saying that Paul was getting keen with his fire tending but RAF Lyneham were now asking aircraft to avoid the smoke and ash from his fire! The Lock 3 team made good progress with both bricks and blocks, enabling them to get a “scaffold lift” done (to raise the height of the working platform) ahead of schedule – good work indeed. In Lock 4, we had changed how and where the big excavator was used, meaning we were able to move up the towpath bank and reach much further into the lock chamber to remove what was now becoming largely clay, brick and sediment, far easier to handle than “gloop” (once you’d overcome the suction to dig it out) - fantastic progress this way. Oli got “spanner of the day” for forgetting the milk. Everyone on the whole site worked very hard today, getting very tired but rewarded by a trip to the cinema in Chippenham where most of us saw Wallace & Grommet. Some went to screen 2 to see something else, while Smudge fell asleep about 20 mins in to W&G – it’s old age you know!

Taz & Smudge

After work there was a swimming run to Wootton Bassett, showers first of course!!! After that came “spag bol”, Rob was seen by many going up for a SIXTH helping and still wanted more!

MK2 was awarded the “spanner of the day” award for not checking the fuel gauge on the shower generator and letting it run out mid-shower. He was too busy plane spotting:- Hercules, VC 10, Tornado, Tucanno, Dominie, DC-8 and AWACS all bashing the circuit today.

Hedge-laying in progress

page 12


James Butler drove some of us back using his new GPS to find the shortest route home. Some 10 miles and 20 mins later, but only 2 miles from our start point, he turned it off again! Thursday. Whilst scrub clearing, Paul managed to touch an electric fence. Quite why he was after the sheep we’re not sure but he was told that if his heart had stopped we’d have to shock him again to restart it.

Dinner that evening had a Halloween flavour to it, complete with pumpkin heads, decorations and balloons. Smudge had printed certificates out for everyone as all had given 110% on the camp and a great dinner was had by all – even Rob was full! The Pearse twins were so engrossed in Kayak conversation with Alan that it took them 20 mins to realise their parents had arrived to collect them! End of camp celebrations went on in to the night in the kitchen – where else?

The chamber of Lock 4 was finally cleared out, a whole day ahead of our original best hopes. Just the culvert outlets to go now. Lock 3 wingwalls coming on nicely with concrete infill and clay backfill (thanks to Ray) keeping pace. Lock 2 area now getting more attention – pyromaniacs and Tirfor freaks abound! Taz & Smudge

Two slugs found in the cabbage for dinner. Dr Lizs plan to give us extra protein thwarted when they were binned

Clearing the paddle culverts at Lock 4

All in all a great camp with a fab set of people. Several of the first timers said they want to do more (and have since been back!) especially those that managed to get Steve B to give them a taster session on the excavators or dumpers. Thank you everyone for a brilliant week. Taz n Smudge

Taz & Smudge

Friday. Last full day and everyone’s energy levels are back up with a frantic work rate. Lock 4 empty, culverts clear and the site generally titivated. Lock 3 wingwalls progressing well with a plan in place to finish before Christmas. Hedgelaying has come on in leaps and bounds despite a lack of good material in parts. Lock 2 area much thinned out and now looking more like an ex-lock than a tree filled ditch. Rachael declared herself very happy with the week’s work.

Saturday. Alan shot off early to teach sea scouts canoeing at Ross on Wye, everyone else got up to a slightly later breakfast and then cracked on with closing up camp. We only lost one tool ( a piano saw ) but gained a couple of others that had been left behind on the summer camp. We were all done and dusted by about 12.00, leaving Smudge, Dr Liz, MK2 and me to go to the pub for lunch before setting off home.

Good progress on rebuilding the tail of Lock 3

page 13


Foxton finale The inclined plane is now clear, thanks to WRG FT Foxton Finale

We had a productive weekend what with Bob training me up on chippers and assessing Clive for his chainsaw certification. We also carried on with the work in hand and it progressed steadily. The Mighty Oak was laid to rest by Bob and clearing it up ensued promptly. The weekend fell into the week (or is Tuesday the new Sunday?!) and Sparky, Sue and Clive stayed for the rest of it. I was quite sad I had to leave to go and work – I didn’t want to miss that final tree coming down. Mike Beech from Foxton Inclined Plane Trust (FIPT) had similar thoughts as he disappeared off on holiday later that week. But it wasn’t to be and when Sparky rang to ask if I was free in a few weekends time to finish the job I of course said yes! I could go into more detail about that week but I will concentrate on the last “weekend” we did there as it’s a little fresher in my mind and I was there for all (and I really do mean all!) of it!

Jen Leigh

Since we embarked on this project (some sixtyplus trees on a one in four incline) we have spent a number of weekends as well as a couple of weeks there since last September. I would say that last September’s week was the most intense and had the biggest impact… partly due to a greater ‘core’ number (six of us) and starting with the untouched forest! But it was the most tiring too. The introduction of the tracked vehicles on the site allowed by English Heritage at the start of this year made things somewhat easier. There was no dragging everything up to the mid-point where the chippers were parked up, but we still all felt we were ageing quicker than we should be and even walking back across for a brew was hard work! But it wasn’t going to beat us … oh no!

Since the last article on the subject (Navvies 210?) we’ve been back twice with the first of these visits being in mid-September (hence there only being a photo hot from Foxton in the last issue!). Thanks to Bob for turning up to join us for that weekend to assess and train, and for doing his bit too. Oh, and the jam!

Clear at last - Foxton Inclined Plane seen from the lower arm

page 14


It’s very easy for the days to merge into one long blur on a big project and without a daily/hourly photographic record it’s tricky to say exactly what happened when. There weren’t enough of us on site for someone to go ‘round taking photos all the time so that didn’t happen and some bits are rather vague… There was a definite absence of boats from the basin below the incline when we turned up this time. This was down to the fact that Land & Water were due to come along during the following week to start the dredging and improvement of the basin. Sparky and Sue were there at the start of Friday morning along with Peter Ruffle to take delivery of the dumper and chipper just one more time … Then I turned up and everything was put on their starting blocks ready for the off. And off we went - another productive day done. Thanks to Nigel (a former wrg North-Eastie who has worked for BW for a goodly while now!) for turning up with his chainsaw again (and for using it!) even if we didn’t agree your logs were as manageable as you said they were (Funny!)! We went to Harboro’ for our usual Friday night ‘extravagance’ and used the RFB restaurant for the last time.

“It was very much a case of ‘one more day will do it’ ” The weekend was gone and with it went Sue, Clive (& Molly Dog), Garry and Karen, and the very pleasant and convenient Gumley Village Hall! So that left Sparky and Me (accommodation in the Museum), with appearances on site from Peter, Bernie and Mike. We only really planned to stay until Monday but it was very much a case of “One more day’ll do it!” (Where’ve we heard that one before?!). There was a competition between us and the Land & Water boys over who could make the most noise with chainsaws and chippers … I would say we won due to the fact we carried on for much longer! At the end of a hard day’s work Sparky said it was up to me whether we stayed for another … I said let’s just get it finished but I have to be back on Wednesday night at the very latest (thinking I was joking about Wednesday!)!

Jen Leigh

Saturday came and with it Clive, Garry and Karen (and Molly Dog of course!). Thanks loads to ‘Gaz and Kaz’ for turning up for the weekend – not only was it great to see you, you shifted a hell of a lot of logs and you were a huge help! James Clifton (BW project manager for the site – affectionately known to us as “Bernie” … can’t imagine where that came from!) also turned up to help with another batch of his now infamous biscuits (…he did actually do some work too!!). Work continued steadily and we really started seeing the wood from the trees! Mike Beech returned from his two-week holiday in Cumbria and found we were still there … “Did you ever leave?!”

Foxton finale

Garry and Karen stacking logs

page 15


Foxton finale

“Wednesday came and with it the rain...” So Tuesday happened and was a good day. Mr Ruffle turned up to help and he really did help lots so thank you for that Peter! As it started to get dark we had three trees left (I think?)… the main limb of one of those came down that evening (not without a fight mind!) and we packed up, and yes, you guessed it … “One more day will do it!” Staying in the Museum turned out to be handy as one of us used one of the exhibits to shave by! In fact, if we hadn’t got out of bed early enough we were in danger of being part of the exhibits ourselves!

Sparky felled the “zip-line” tree from the top corner of the site and it got fed into the chipper as soon as it was taken apart, although there was a lot of work in this. Logs went straight into the dumper and back to The Log Pile. Then it was “Last Tree Standing” time! I ran ‘round to the Museum to tell Mike who went up top and set up his video-camera and tripod, whilst I went down to the basin to get a few photos looking uphill. Twenty-past one and the tree was down! Woohoo! We had a celebratory fresh pasty from the shop and cracked on with clearing it up.

Jen Leigh

Wednesday came and with it the rain.

But how lucky had we been with the weather every time we’d gone to Foxton? … There was a particularly heavy downpour on Saturday late afternoon, and the odd day here or there but I would say we probably only had three complete days in total over all the time we spent there which is pretty amazing considering how difficult the job would have been had it been very wet! And many of you will know how rubber tracks and wet clay (on a 1 in 4!) go together!!!! That said, this day’s rain wasn’t so bad … could’ve been much worse!

One to go: the last tree about to come down

page 16


Foxton finale

A meeting about the future of the plane and what BW’s plans were was being held in the Museum at three o’clock so various people turned up just beforehand. HRH David Stevenson thanked us (again) and Bernie was surprised to see we were still there and also thanked us (again!).

“Foxton was the WRG Forestry tem’s ‘Over’ ”

Job finished and it was time to pack up! We thought it would never happen … The gritting of teeth or sheer bloody-mindedness won through in the end and the incline was finally cleared. And none too soon as the heavens opened … Time to leave!

Thank you to everybody who turned up at whichever point in the proceedings to help us with special thanks to Peter Ruffle and James Clifton for supporting us, and joining in too! The plane is now clear of trees all the way across and down to the basin (although the lovely bit of oak was still there – on the ground - awaiting its boat to ‘carry it away’ and to be turned into something far more than just firewood!) and Land & Water had started their work in the basin on our last day there. So things are hopefully on the up for the Inclined Plane … Fingers crossed something will be done to stop the vegetation taking over and trees sprouting soon as we are not - I repeat - ARE NOT going back there to do it all again!

Above: the tracked chipper. Below: a view down the plane to the lower basin, cleared of boats ready for Land & Water to start dredging work

Jen Leigh

Just Jen

Jen Leigh

Tenko has said recently that Foxton was wrg Forestry Team’s “Over” – a huge undertaking for the group but one which was successfully achieved. If only Himself and Alison could have been there with us.

page 17


Diary

Canal Camps cost £42 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 0601') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Dec 10/11

wrgBITM

First Aid Course: 2-day First Aid course at Soham, plus Xmas Party.

Dec 17/18

NWPG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Xmas Party dig. Accom at Devizes.

Dec 17 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Dec 26-Jan 2 Camp 0520

Cromford Canal New Year Camp: Leaders: Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden and Claire We may start the camp on 24th December and run it over Christmas Day if eno

Dec 26-Jan 1 W&BCT

Wilts & Berks New Year Canal Camp: Hedgelaying, some scrub bashing, brickl

Jan 7/8

Essex WRG

Cotswold Canals: To be confirmed (possibly Pike Bridge)

Jan 7/8

KESCRG

Chichester Canal

Jan 7/8

wrgNW

Lichfield Canal

Jan 14/15

London WRG

Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project at Fourteen Locks

Jan 14/15

NWPG

Wey & Arun Canal: Scrub bashing

Jan 14/15

wrgSW

Stover Canal: provisional

Jan 21/22

wrgBITM

Buckingham Canal: Leaders: Athina Beckett & Rachael Banyard

Jan 21 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Feb 4/5

London WRG

Lichfield Canal: Dig Deep project (including London WRG AGM)

Feb 4/5

Essex WRG

Foxton Inclined Plane

Feb 4/5

KESCRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project at Seven Locks

Feb 4/5

wrgNW

Hollinwood Canal (or Derby Canal): provisional

Feb 11/12

NWPG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project at Seven Locks

Feb 11/12

wrgSW

To be arranged

Feb 18 Sat

KESCRG/WRG WRG Barn Dance: Benson, Oxfordshire from 7pm, tickets £10: please book in Run by and in support of KESCRG and London WRG but everyone welcome. S

Feb 18/19

wrgBITM

Grantham Canal: Leader: Rachael Banyard

Feb 25/26

London WRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project at Seven Locks

Feb 25 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Mar 4/5

KESCRG

Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project at Fourteen Locks

Mar 4/5

wrgNW

Derby Canal (or Hollinwood Canal): provisional

Mar 11/12

NWPG

Lichfield Canal: Dig Deep project at Tamworth Road locks

Mar 18/19

London WRG

BCN Cleanup on the Wyrley & Essington Canal – see p6 for details and bookin

Mar 18/19

wrgBITM

Basingstoke Canal

Mar 18/19

wrgSW

To be arranged

Apr 1 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Apr 8/9

London WRG

Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project at Fourteen Locks

Apr 8/9

NWPG

Basingstoke Canal

Apr 8/9

KESCRG

Lichfield Canal: Dig Deep project at Tamworth Road

Apr 8/9

wrgBITM

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project at Seven Locks. Leader: Rachael Banya

Apr 8-17

Camp 0601

Easter Canal Camp on the Lichfield Canal (provisional). Note: this camp costs

Apr 15-22

Camp 0602

Easter Canal Camp on the Wilts & Berks Canal (provisional).

page 18


Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email: dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk.

p

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

e Bedford. Scrub bashing with lots of big bonfires. enquiries@wrg.org.uk ough people are interested - please contact the leader on 07961 922153 or moose@wrg.org.uk

laying & concreting.

Rachael Banyard

01249-892289

rachael.banyard@wrgbitm.org.uk

Dave Dobbin

01702-544096

essex@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

malcolm.bridge@btclick.com

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Gavin Moor

07970-989245

gavin.moor@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Dave Dobbin

01702-544096

essex@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

malcolm.bridge@btclick.com

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Gavin Moor

07970-989245

gavin.moor@wrg.org.uk

advance Helen Gardner 07989-425346 helen_gardner@hotmail.com See page 33 for details. Price includes fish & chip (or vegetarian) supper

ng form

ard.

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

malcolm.bridge@btclick.com

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Gavin Moor

07970-989245

gavin.moor@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

ÂŁ56 as it runs for two extra days to include Easter weekend

enquiries@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk

page 19


Diary

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: tim@timlewis.org.uk. 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 Thurs BCS Buckingham area 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 2nd weekend of month 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 John Empringham 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 Grp Laurie Wraight Various dates WACT Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar)Keith Nichols 1st w/e of month (Fri-Mon) WAT Drayton Beauchamp 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

page 20

Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust 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 01483-562657 020-8241-7736 01483-772132 01483-422519 01903-721404 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


Canal Camps 2006 As you will see below we have an excellent programme of work planned for 2006. Our biggest commitment for the year is to the Wilts & Berks: their scheme to construct the first length of the canal’s new route from the Thames near Abingdon has been chosen as the IWA Diamond Jubilee Project, to be supported by IWA financially and by WRG with four weeks of Canal Camps.

Camps 2006

The full schedule for the next year’s Canal Camps

Meanwhile down on the Wey & Arun, there will be another three weeks’ work at Loxwood, rebuilding the top of Brewhurst Lock to reduce its height by 6ft as part of the plan to reinstate the culverted B2133 road crossing by the Onslow Arms. A new site for 2006 is Lord Rolle’s Canal - which had me reaching for my OS maps and copy of Lost Canals and Waterways of Britain to find out where it was! Well it’s in North Devon, it was also called the Torrington Canal, and we’re working on the tide lock where it used to join the Torridge estuary near Bideford. And just to make it interesting, apparently the work schedule is determined by the tide times... Among the regular favourites you will also notice the reappearance of one from a while back: the Chesterfield Canal is the site for our New Year 2006-7 Camp - and looks likely to become a major work-site for us again over the next year or two. The schedule is as yet just slightly provisional in one or two places - don’t book your holidays until you’ve checked the final version in the Camps booklet. And we’ve also included in this list (in italic in brackets) a few events that we won’t be including as WRG Camps in the booklet, but for which WRG will be providing a team of volunteers - see future issues of Navvies. All dates are Saturday to Saturday unless stated. Saturday April 08 - Monday April 17 Lichfield Easter Camp (Friday April 14 - Monday April 17 IWA National Trailboat Festival, Lancaster Canal Northern Reaches) Friday April 14 - Friday April 21 Wilts and Berks (Foxham?) Easter Camp (Saturday April 29 - Monday May 01 IWA Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice, London) (Saturday May 27 - Monday May 29 IWA National Campaign Rally, Basingstoke Canal) June 240 - July 01 Chichester Canal June 240 - July 01 Lord Rolle’s Canal (Thursday June 01 - Friday June 02 Cotswold Canal Trust Saul Festival) July 01 - July 08 Wilts & Berks Abingdon Junction IWA Diamond Jubilee project July 01 - July 08 Lord Rolle’s Canal July 08 - July 15 Wilts & Berks Abingdon Junction IWA Diamond Jubilee project July 08 - July 15 Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Fourteen Locks July 15 - July 22 Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Fourteen Locks July 15 - July 22 Wey & Arun Canal Brewhurst Lock project at Loxwood (led and supported by NWPG) July 22 - July 29 Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal July 22 - July 29 Wey & Arun Canal Brewhurst Lock project at Loxwood (led and supported by KESCRG) July 29 - August 05 Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal July 29 - August 05 Wey & Arun Canal Brewhurst Lock project at Loxwood (led and supported by WACT) August 05 - August 12 Wilts & Berks Abingdon Junction IWA Diamond Jubilee project August 05 - August 12 Wilts & Berks Canal (Steppingstones Bridge) August 12 - August 19 Wilts & Berks Abingdon Junction IWA Diamond Jubilee project August 12 - August 19 Wilts & Berks Canal (Steppingstones Bridge) Tuesday August 22 - Saturday September 30: IWA National Festival at Beale Park September 16 - September 23 Sleaford Navigation October 21 - October 28 Grantham Canal Saturday November 04- Sunday November 05 Bonfire Bash on the Grantham Canal Saturday December 23 - Monday January 01, 2007 Chesterfield Canal For further details see the Camps Booklet, future issues of Navvies and www.wrg.org.uk

page 21


Progress

An update on what’s happening on the Dig Deep projects Dig Deep update My last report was in February, since when we’ve had a very successful summer of weekend digs and camps. On the planning front we have also been busy in preparing next year’s programme and have recently agreed work and a set of dates for four projects, two of which are on new sites.. To the unfamiliar, the Dig Deep Initiative involves five mobile working party groups (London WRG, KESCRG, NWPG, WRG BITM and Essex WRG) committing themselves to carrying out a certain amount of volunteer work (whether in the form of Canal Camps, weekend working parties or a combination of the two) on certain restoration projects in southern England and Wales which have been adopted as ‘Dig Deep Projects’. And thereby hopefully enabling the local canal societies that we are supporting on these projects to be able to commit funds and materials to them in the knowledge that there will be the labour to complete them.

It has taken time to get things going during 2005, often the case with new projects, with new people building working relationships. On the Lichfield Canal we have been supporting the local trust in reinstating the length of canal between Locks 24 and 26 on the section of canal running alongside Tamworth Road. This has been a continuation of work carried out by local volunteers and visiting groups in 2003/4 but not under the Dig Deep banner. The tasks have included some complex brickwork at the tail of Lock 24 using large bull nose engineering blues; removing the garden of the kind lady who lives in the former canal cottage between Locks 25 and 26 – kind because she’s agreed to have a canal back there and wants ducks back in her garden! The WRG summer camp (not part of Dig Deep) has made good progress on the towpath waterway wall between these locks. We have renewed the Dig Deep commitment to this project for next year, when the work is planned to include completing waterway walls, excavating and lining the canal between Locks 25 and 26 and removing the surface water drain that runs down the canal. Dig Deep have offered 7 weekends. The Mon & Brec is another Dig Deep site that started in earnest during 2005. Working at the spectacular Fourteen Locks close to the M4, all the groups have made at least one visit during the year. To date, work has focused on the side pounds and their environs down the top section of the flight. Paths have been re-surfaced, bridleways diverted, and fences erected. A slipway into the pound between Locks 20 and 21 has also been constructed. Little work has been done on the structures themselves pending receipt of the necessary consents – the locks are scheduled Ancient Monuments.

WACT

During the winter and early spring the local trust together with Newport City Council, the owners, will obtain permissions to enable the Dig Deep groups and local teams to start work on locks 20 and 19. It will also include work to ensure the retention of water in the pound between locks 19 and 18 (you have probably gathered that we are working downhill!). We look forward to receiving more detail of these works. Interestingly, one of the project tasks will be to extend the canal centre at the top of the locks to enable visiting volunteers to stay overnight during weekends and camps. It was Dig Deep on the Wey & Arun: the first lock chamber wall of with some relief that we heard that this is to be done by contractors! the new Loxwood Lock is almost up to full height.

page 22


The KESCRG and NWPG camp reports in the previous two issues of Navvies noted the significant start given to the Dig Deep project at Loxwood New Lock on the Wey & Arun. Since then there have been three weekend Dig Deep visits which have added to the almost daily work of the local volunteers. The major tasks have been brick and block laying, the former on the main chamber walls and the latter in line behind. In between, loads of readymix concrete are poured to create the mass structure that is the side of the lock. Progress has been swift - such that by the time you read this, the towpath-side chamber wall should be at full height minus the copings, and the off-side wall well underway. If the Met OfficeÂ’s prediction of a harsh winter is true, then progress may well slow. However work on the lock is expected to be substantially complete by mid summer 2006.

Progress

Working on the Lichfield, Mon & Brec, Wilts & Berks and W&A

Dig Deep have been asked and have agreed to help with Phase 2 of the Loxwood Crossing. This is the lowering of Brewhurst Lock by 6ft to compensate for the 6ft fall of the new lock (the purpose of the entire scheme being to lower the intervening length of canal to a level at which it is practical for a bridge to be constructed to carry the B2133 over it). Another 3 weeks of camps are planned starting mid July 2006 followed by 5 more weekends before Christmas 2006. The target being to have the lock back in use in time for the Santa cruises on the Canal Trust trip boat.

So we now have a good balance of projects, both in terms of locations and type of work. Clearly if you want to learn bricklaying and stonework then 2006 is the year to join one of the four Dig Deep Groups. In total we have committed to 77 working days or , if you prefer, an estimated 1200 person days or 8400 person hours of volunteer work! To help us, see Navvies Diary in the centre pages for details of your Group contact.

Martin Ludgate

No sooner had I lamented the lack of another southern project in my last article, than Rachael Banyard approached us with the possibility of more work on the Wilts & Berks. A formal proposal has now been made for Dig Deep to work on Lock 4 at Seven Locks near Lyneham, which we have accepted. Our work will be to rebuild the chamber, lower gate and lower wing walls of the lock. Accommodation will be generally at Foxham Reading Rooms: a favourite haunt of canal restorers over the years.

Dig Deep on the Lichfield: repointing the lower gate reBill Nicholson cess wall on Lock 24, Tamworth Road

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Essex WRG

The alternative Bonfire Bash on the Chelmer & Blackwater... The Alternative Bonfire Bash With the main bonfire Bash being arranged in the far West, an alternative was arranged in the far East, in deepest Essex on the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. This project is not so much restoration as a rescue; the condition of the works has declined due to the proprietors’ financial difficulties and much needs to be done to improve physical conditions and financial viability. (By the time this is printed more of the background will be public knowledge.)

The accommodation had been subject to a lastminute change, as the offer of the barge which had been booked was suddenly withdrawn. The substitute was Langford Village Hall, a modern building with timber roof beams in the style of an Essex barn. There was a small, but adequate, kitchen and a fancy electrical system which cut off the power if our disco was too loud. Unfortunately we didn’t know this so we hadn’t brought a disco to try it out. There is a history of local volunteer work on the C&BN. The local IWA branch did much good work at Springfield Basin in Chelmsford some years ago – in fact this was the origin of what became Essex wrg. It was therefore good to be joined by Chelmsford IWA members both as day visitors and staying overnight, thus satisfying the ‘reunion’ element of an alternative Bonfire Bash. On a fine, sunny [You lucky bastards! ...Ed] Saturday the clearance went well, with a large group making inroads into the mixed brambles, shrubbery and saplings, and the fires were soon burning well (unfortunately a bit too well, as on Sunday the local residents objected strongly and we had to cease burning!).

Steve Morley

The work laid on, in keeping with traditional November navvying, was heavy duty scrub bashing at Heybridge Basin, by the lock where the Navigation meets the Blackwater Estuary. An area of land next to the Basin was to be cleared to provide, once levelled, additional hard standing for boats, providing more facilities and increasing the potential for income. The existing hard standing was also cleared of unwanted detritus of the sort which tends to build up over the years in such places.

As always, there were instructions as to what not to cut down. In this case we needed to preserve the cricket bat willow trees, as these provide a major source of income for the Navigation. A much larger specimen of the willow genus was fair game, however; this was apparently of a different species and not of commercial value.

The Essex WRG bonfire before it got so big that the locals objected

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Essex WRG

The large willow came down limb by limb and was duly sectioned into logs. I suppose it’s logical, but it always surprises me how much longer it takes to cut things up than to cut them down. As the tide rose in the estuary, three yacht type vessels entered the basin through the lock and a Thames sailing barge made a fine sight sailing past from its moorings at Maldon. At the end of a successful day’s work we returned to the hall for an excellent meal followed by fireworks on the lawn outside.

Got a free weekend? Doug Beard wants to hear from you!

It was a novelty working on an operational canal and it was good to find that the moorers in the basin were pleased to see improvements being carried out. There was a strong impression that their enthusiasm had been dampened by relations with the previous regime and given the right encouragement they should actively look after their surroundings and help with maintenance and improvements, enhancing the area for all concerned. Future works are planned for the whole of the Navigation and I am sure Doug Beard would be keen to hear from other groups who would like to work on this attractive waterway.

Above: not a common site on a WRG weekend: a Thames sailing barge on the Blackwater estuary. Below: an assorment of sailing craft moored in the Chelmer & Blackwater’s Heybridge Basin.

Steve Morley

Steve Morley

Steve Morley

Sunday dawned overcast and windy but work continued apace. The weekend contingent were again reinforced by locals and another swathe of land was cleared, but work on the big willow had to be abandoned due to increasing wind speed. It was less satisfying having to leave big piles of dismantled trees and scrub than if it could have been burned, but no doubt these can be burned or chipped in due course.

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Bonfire Bash

...and now let’s hear from the official one in South Wales... Mon & Brec 2005

I seemed to mention the weather rather a lot last time – so..... Off to St Illtyds on Friday – (he was famous for, amongst other things, reclaiming land from the sea – someone best tell him the sea seems to be trying to reclaim it back). Disturbingly, there was no rain on the journey – even the Welsh end of the bridge was dry. Plenty of room in the accommodation and booked in by Mitch, who was excused strenuous duties. The usual suspects were present together with a large number of newer folk from this year’s camps.

Martin Ludgate

I’ve just re-read the report for the 2002 Reunion. How much copying and pasting can I get away with?

A struggle to get the fire lit on Saturday morning... A comforting array of barrels was also present and the assembled multitude rose to the challenge, particularly following the usual call from LWRG – leave some beer for us! It did appear at one point that we had beaten them until someone pointed out that the little plug things (is that a spile? Martin Ullage will know) were still stuck firmly in their holds and nature was abhorring vacuums. And so to bed – eventually. Nearly missed breakfast as the gymnasium floor and a caravan mattress appeared to be the most comfortable bed that I had ever slept in, but made it eventually and trundled off to site. Hijacked by Sam and Toby but ended up at 14 locks (where they weren’t) in search of Mrs W who was at a third site.

Martin Ludgate

Oh, and perhaps I should mention that it was raining!

...but by knocking-off time it was starting to look like a real fire

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Usual stuff - slash and burn with Nic on hand to attend to the latter. Ralph and Eddy set to on one of the side ponds and liberally coated the digger and dumper with mud.


Remembered why we like this site - the visitors centre and hot and cold running refreshments and somewhere to sit out of the rain. It didn’t rain all of the time and the fires burned merrily. Got sidetracked with Mark 2 on a TimeTeamesque task, tracking a mysterious culvert. Examined and exposed brickwork, puzzled over odd constructions and hypothesised in true anorak fashion with the folk from the Trust. All we needed was a Martin. (and we didn’t even start on the funny lock!) Spence arrived with lunch and we stood around and chatted in the rain, and were then joined by The Small Navvy (aka James) (I hesitate to say smallest as Smedley Minor may have something to say about it). Proved to everyone’s satisfaction that JCB Micros (electric teaspoons) are really toys as James was able to sit comfortably with his feet firmly planted on the dashboard while he waggled the various controls. Post prandial work was more of the same with the odd bit of on and off rain. Back to school for showers scrummy food and more beer. Harry’s birthday again - proper cake and a splendid array of assorted cheeses. Gav valiantly trying to convince everyone that the smoky one was too horrible to contemplate and that he was willing to save anyone else from having to eat it. No one seemed to be worrying about nightmares. The port should sort those out.

Bonfire Bash

“Perhaps I should mention that it was raining...” Another good night’s sleep - although some seemed to feel that just before breakfast was a good time to go to bed - I blame the parents, myself... This year we were again give an update on the weather by Mike. However, this time it was raining and we believed him. Proper breakfast when it didn’t rain and then ready for site when it did. Welsh Phil will assure you that it doesn’t rain all the time in Wales. The stuff on Sunday morning was clearly headed for Somerset until things got in its way. Either it was horizontal or I was. Some difficulty persuading people to wade out to the vans but it happened and the rain eased. Off to site in a Sherpa that Bungle had blagged for the weekend. ‘Not as unpleasant as people think they are’, seemed to be the reaction, and many more favourable than that. Maybe there will be a red one about at some point. Other vans served to confuse too. RFB acquired an extra row of seats. Where from? GCW apparently, so the world is full of 3/4 vans. Oh, and TVP arrived. Sammy has been replaced by a monster Land Rover / Burger van cross. Admire it from a distance but don’t get too close if there is a chance that it has been left with the door unlocked and the alarm set - I’ll warn you now ‘cos afterwards you won’t hear me. Site was a bit of a quagmire but the bonfires still smouldered.

Lesley McFadyen

Mark 2, Gordon and myself set off to play with the teaspoon. We had a purpose - carry on with the Time Team task - but were thwarted by the absence of a sufficiently substantial bridge. Instead we set to, to remove the old gate posts at Some people even managed to get their fires going again on Sun- the top of the slipway and install the new gate. day despite the all-night rain

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Bonfire Bash

“I guess we wouldn’t go if we were worried about the rain” Much cursing later Eddie pointed out that there was a pecker to fit the teaspoon so we all loosened a few fillings. Demonstrated that although it buried the bit very efficiently, it didn’t have enough oomph to extract it again! Made some progress but eventually handed over to Trust folk as we headed back to the accommodation for lunch and the slow wind down and clean up.

Thanks to Spence for running the show and Jude and Eli and crew for feeding us. If you weren’t there, do ask Jude how hard the baked potato was. Off to clean my kit before the next outing - see you in Chippenham.

Above: Smoker’s Corner trying to stop the rain from putting their fags out. Below: clearing vegetation from a lock tail on the Pentre Lane site on the Monmouthshire main line

Tim Lewis

Dave Worthington

Martin Ludgate

I guess we wouldn’t go if we were worried about the rain.

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Safety notice (1): brick saw disc sizes We have had a couple of reports of the wrong size disc being used in radial cut off saws (aka the Stihl brick-saws). It seems that discs other than the correct size were provided and the operator decided to give it a go rather than abandon the job or send out again for the correct size. It seems the problem is that the operator was competent but the shopper wasn’t - despite being given the specification of the disc they were taken in by the person in the hire shop who said “yeah that’s the right size”. So: A warning for our shoppers: WRG bricksaws take discs with a 20mm internal diameter. Ask the operator for a full specification and stick to it. and A warning for our operators: Don’t ever use the wrong specification disc. While you may get away with just clamping it up tight, if it goes wrong it will go horribly wrong. Don’t do it. Safety Notice (2): rear wheel steer dumpers We have seen that there is a bit of a problem with the dumper category on the Driver Authorisation scheme. Historically the two wheel drive/rear wheel steer dumper was our standard dumper and people moved up to the four wheel drive model when they occasionally visited posh sites. However the four wheel drive model is now the norm and so many people get taught how to drive the 4wd models but not the 2wd models. DESPITE the instructor guidance notes reminding people that they should always find a safe area and check how an unfamiliar bit of kit behaves we have had a couple of occasions when people have assumed a 2wd dumper will be no problem to drive as they have driven 4wd.

Safety notices Cutting discs for bricksaws Rear wheel steering dumpers So: A warning to all dumper operators: rear wheel steer dumpers handle very differently to articulated ones. and A warning to all site leaders: always remind your operators that they should be familiar with how any machine operates before using it in anger. We will resolve this issue by separating out the dumper categories in the Driver Authorisation scheme sometime soon. Mike Palmer

NOTE: 20mm page 29


WRG BC

The latest from WRG’s own Boat Club WRG BC news Our motto ‘Incompetence at its best’ Here I am, just back from some autumnal boating, and not living up to Martin’s praise for promptness I fear! Claire attended the regional Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs meeting on our behalf and reports... Incidents of stone throwing and airgun shooting at boats seem to be becoming more prevalent on the canals in all areas.The police request that all ‘attacks’ be reported and BW would like their Visitor Report Forms filled in and sent off to the safety team. These forms can be obtained in bulk from BW. During the last 6 months (‘the cruising season’??) there have been 315 reports to BW of yobs attacking boaters. BW are keeping centralised records so all waterway managers have to report directly to Robin Evans not their local managers.Many boaters don’t report stone throwing or other incidents of vandalism because they think that the police can do nothing. It IS important to report them as, although it may not help you at the time, it increases BW and police awareness so preventative action can be taken. BW are going to grid reference all bridges to assist police etc. There were complaints about the difficulty of accessing the waterscape website, even BW people have problems with it! Navigation News included: There are no moorings at Loughborough at present as the wharf is being developed, it is understood boats are placed across the entrance to block it off. The channel will be reopened in the Stoke area in November, but only the canal not the towpath. (The corrugated ‘tunnel’ built to support the roadworks will be removed) BW’s boat check week is(was) from the 7th November (What do they do with the information and how accurate is it?). Continuous cruisers caused some discussion-but it seems that continuous moorers are the biggest problem, for example the electric points have been removed from outside the BW offices at Newark because moorers won’t move on! People thought 25% would be a reasonable increase for a continuous licence and pro rata for shared boats. It was agreed that the danger of Weils disease should be brought to the attention of all boaters. I (Claire) suggested a poster in all club houses and a card or letter to boaters, especially those with no club house (like us).

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There was nothing new on the tax on red diesel issue, even though the date is almost upon us. The region will be holding a rally at Stafford boat club in mid June. Many thanks to Claire for attending on our behalf. The next AWCC meetings are in March so please contact us if there is anything you want us to bring to their attention. MONEY, Ha now I have your interest! The money we gave for the ‘Boats to Bangladesh’ appeal arrived too late for boats but we have arranged for it to be used for the work Oxfam are doing in the follow up in Bangladesh. I hope this meets with the approval of those that donated. Peterborough IWA Branch are raising money to raise a bridge on the Forty Foot on the Middle Level. This will open up this navigation to many more boats than can use it at present. Wrg will be doing the work around Easter time next year. We, as a club, have money that we want to use for this sort of thing, please let me know if you have any objections to us supporting them with a donation of £200 or perhaps suggest a different amount we should give. If you know of any other suitable restoration projects we should support please let us have details. I gain no personal advantage in seeing this work completed as, once I have stripped the roof, my boat can get under the bridge anyway. But it would be nice if others could too! Somebody, not at the AGM (shame!) has asked about the boat club award, as nothing was said in the minutes. It has been awarded to a couple, both of them have done a lot for WRG, they will have it for two years. This year, though they don’t know it, and will be awarded it at the next AGM (Beale Park), to keep it so that the award goes to the recipient the year that they get it! Now hasn’t that cleared up all confusion? I’m sure you have a new, and so far empty, 2006 diary. Quick fill in these ‘not to be missed’ events Late May bank holiday: Campaign Rally on the Basingstoke. (if you can’t make that go to the Wendover Arm) Early July: Saul Festival August: IWA National at Beale Park We need members with a spirit of adventure to join a Sharpness-to-Avonmouth convoy which may be set up next year during the time between Saul and the National. Please contact me if you fancy this trip. Well I’m off for some ‘out of season’ boating. Does this mean I can’t be shot or strung up on a barbed hook? xxx Sadie Dean


The Graham Palmer Stone The commemorative stone marking the Montgomery Canal’s Graham Palmer Lock, named after Waterway Recovery Group’s founder, has been defaced by vandals over this summer, despite the fact it is in a remote countryside location - but we hope to raise funds to replace it with a more permanent memorial. As founder and for many years leader of WRG, Graham was one of the most important and charismatic figures in the waterway restoration movement. He died on 19th July 1988, just 48 years old, from a heart problem, and the new lock built to counter subsidence on the Frankton to Aston length of the canal was named in his memory. The naming took place in 1995 as part of the reopening of the first section of the canal below Frankton Locks, and Graham’s ashes were buried under the stone. Both the stone and carving were donated by the Bath Stone Company and it has suffered from weathering; the relatively soft stone also making the vandals’ job somewhat easier. The stone is to be replaced with a new harder variety with a new carved image and lettering.

Appeal

...to replace the Graham Palmer Memorial Stone Any other queries regarding replacement of the stone should go to Harry Arnold Tel: 01283 790447 or email: harry@waterwayimages.com Any surplus from the fund will go towards WRG’s work. It is planned that the new stone will be sourced and carved during the winter and there will be a replacement ceremony during 2006 as part of the IWA’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Harry Arnold Stop press: Since Harry wrote this piece about half of the money has been raised, but there is still a fair way to go. Please help to give our founder a fitting and permanent memorial - besides all the miles of canal that his efforts helped to save!

It is a Waterway Recovery Group/IWA initiative and donations are being sought to fund the replacement. The fund was launched in fine style by an impromtu collection made on the Sunday night of the IWA Preston Brook National Festival at the Canal Boatbuilders Association Dinner. Over £250 was raised from industry members and their guests. Other monies were raised in the bar at the festival on the following night. Anyone wishing make a donation towards the replacement of the Graham Palmer stone should send it to Ray Carter at IWA Head Office, PO Box 114, RICKMANSWORTH, WD3 1ZY. Cheques should be made payable to ‘The Inland Waterways Association’.

The GKP Stone, sadly defaced. Please help us to replace it.

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Barn Dance

A repeat of last year’s successful ‘Dances for tools’ The Barn Dance is Back Again! In order to raise funds for the London Waterway Recovery Group and Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group we are repeating the barn dance that we organised last year (and the year before). Once again we have booked live local band Tumbledown Dick who play mainly English music with Irish fiddle and the odd Scottish tune chucked in for good measure. There will be a cash bar, raffle and other games. Tickets are still only £10 each (no increase on last year) and this includes a fish and chip supper.

And this time we welcome WRG South West too - they will be running some kind of fundraising entertainment during the interval. We have the local youth hall as accommodation – best described as basic. This is free but the hire comes out of the profits. Please state if you need a space when you book your tickets. Of course, if you want to go upmarket there a few local B&Bs. Remember this event is open to everyone – it’s actually really nice to be able to host an event that everyone enjoys and raises money from other pockets as well as our own. If you’ve got any questions, then please email helen_gardner@hotmail.com or ring me on 07989 425346. Helen ‘BushBaby / WRG Wear’ Gardner

The dance will be on Saturday 18th February at Benson Parish Hall, Oxfordshire (halfway between Reading and Oxford), doors open 7.00 pm, music from 7.30 pm and we’ll finish at 11.30pm. Directions will be sent out with the tickets and are on the WRG website. Tickets have to purchased in advance so that we can order food. To order your tickets send an SAE to ‘WRG/KESCRG Barn dance, Dr and Mr Williamson, 79 Oakley Road, Chinnor, Oxfordshire, OX39 4HR’. Please enclose a cheque made payable to ‘I Williamson’, a contact telephone number and state if you need a non-fish meal (probably vegetarian pancake rolls). We’ll also be selling tickets at London WRG and KESCRG events.

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Above: the band ‘Tumbledown Dick. Below: Will you be one of the dancers this time?


WRG Driver Authorisation: vans There appears to have been some confusion over what the categories for vans and minibuses in the WRG Driver Authorisation Scheme actually mean... Category 1a - vans - means just that. Not minibuses, not even small ones. Just panel vans i.e. out of the current fleet the three-seater Transit van VOJ is the only vehicle you would be able to drive. Category 2a - minibuses up to 9 seats - is what you need if you are going to drive anything with more seats i.e. RFB (formerly six-seats, now nine), and GCW (formerly 15 seats, now nine) once weÂ’ve re-registered it as a nine-seater. Category 2b - minibuses up to 17 seats - is what you need to drive 17-seater SAD. (You will need to have a pre-1997 licence or take an additional driving test for this.) If you have 2b you will automatically get 2a as well.

Navvies news

Do you know the difference between a van and a minibus? Apologies... ...for having to cancel the Race Night planned for October at short notice. Unfortunately not enough people booked for it to have been worth holding the event. We hope to re-schedule the Race Night - and the Camp LeadersÂ’ seminar that we had ben planning to hold on the same weekend - for next year. And we hope to be able to give you more notice so that you will be able to book in good time.

Brian Holt

Creeting Lock completed

Many of you will remember working on Creeting Lock on the Stowmarket Navigation, scene of several canal camps in past years. Here it is during a celebration party hosted recently by landowner Mr Biddle to mark the completion of rebulding work.

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Navvies news

...and some more memories of the late great David Hutchings Christmas is coming... ...and some of you might just be receiving the odd card or two in the post. Some of them might even come in envelopes with stamps on! So we thought this would be a good time to remind you that the WRG Stamp Bank collects used postage stamps and other recyclables plus any coupons and tokens, and any old phone cards that you might still have knocking around, and uses the proceeds to fund waterway restoariton. Oh and those clever-dicks who are making your own Christmas cards on your computers and printing them on your inkjet printers this year... remember we also collect empty ink cartridges!

Send everything to Steve and Mandy Morely at the IWA / WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. Or to save the cost of postage, phone them up on 01908 520090 or email: mail@morleytowers.org.uk and arrange somewhere convenient for stuff to be handed over.

And speaking of Christmas... The editor would just like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Festive Solstice or whatever else you celebrate at this time of year. Thank you to everyone who helped with Navvies this year including contributors who sent in articles, letters, pictures, snippets for Backfill or anything else, plus John and Tess at WRG Print and everyone who assisted with production, assembly and mailing of the magazine. I hope to see some of you on the Christmas Camp on the Cromford Canal, and some more of you in 2006 sometime. And remember: the next press date is JANUARY 1ST! Make it a Happy New Year for the editor!

David Hutchings: some more remeniscences The recent articles about the late David Hutchings brought to mind a few memories from the early seventies... 1) Me at sixteen being thrown the keys of his Land Rover by Hutch saying, “Take my car” (he always called them cars) and go and get something, I can’t remember what; without him enquiring if I could even drive! Luckily I could, but selecting gear was a lucky dip with such a smooth gear knob. 2) Having passed my driving test, driving the famous “roof rack” Land Rover around the area, you noticed the locals gave you a very nervous wave and a wide berth. They were obviously aware of the vagueness of its steering too. 3) The same roof rack Land Rover being used to ferry large steel piles across the fields, two at a time. Unloading them was interesting to say the least, consisting of driving as fast as possible up to the unloading area and then slamming on the brakes; the two piles would then fire off the rack and land in front on the ground. If you weren’t going fast enough Eric the welder would have another job added to his list! 4) Hutch always wearing a white shirt on site. I am told that one evening he was checking the 6” pumps prior to going home and was unable to find a single place on his shirt clean enough to wipe the dipstick on. 5) Whilst having a cup of tea in his kitchen at Harvington Station, admiring the solid slate work-tops, only to be told that they were the upright slabs from the Gents urinal. It rather put you off - even after he assured you that it was all right as he’d given them a scrub before they were re-used. 6) Just prior to the Royal re-opening, turfing a slope below Stratford lock and being told by him to nail the turfs to the slope with 6” nails to stop them slipping. 7) Probably one of the proudest moments of my life so far, standing in the front row of the WRG line-up with Graham Palmer and Nigel Stevens, being presented by David Hutchings (wearing a suit!) to the Queen Mother. Nick Wright

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Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 email: mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

Judith to marry Pope! (Sorry - couldn’t resist the headline)

Congratulations to Judith Gordon and Kevin Pope on their engagement. And congratulations to Dan Evans and Emma Nash on their engagement too.

Directory update Grantham Canal Restoration Society’s work party organiser Colin Bryan has a new email address colin@granthamcanal.com. Shropshire Union Canal Society contact details are now: Richard Hall, 35 Tyrley Cottages, Market Drayton TF9 2AH, Tel: 01630 657737, email: hall@ostw.co.uk, website: www.shropshireunion.org.uk. New entry (and possible volunteer work soon): Ashby Canal Association’s Work Party Organiser is Rod Smith, 4 Ashby Road, Sinope, Coalville, Leics`,LE67 3AY. Tel: 01530 833307. Wey & Arun Canal Trust have a new email address office@weyandarun.co.uk. Full directory will appear in the next issue. Please send any updates to the editor.

Navvies Production

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 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk as a matter of interest. Editor : Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Road East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266

Noticeboard WANTED Volunteers for the following vacancies soon to be available:

Logistics Manager Would suit someone who isn’t convenient travelling distance to Jeffrieshire and needs their head looking at. Design Consultant Must be prepared to spend at least five months of the year on the camps brochure. Applications to wrg, PO Box 332, c/o The Editor of Navvies, in writing by 31st January 2006.

BOOTS Nearly new non-steeltoecap (but very suitable for boating) wellies. Size 8 black and sizes 9 and 11 green. Available for a donation of at least the postage (about £3) from WRG NW, email malcolm.bridge@wrg.org.uk 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).

Magazines

About 15 bound volumes of Waterways World magazine available from Bridgewater Motor Boat Club, Runcorn, for a donation to WRG. Contact the Editor. 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

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Backfill

Captions

Once again the Caption King Andy Overton has come up with some alternatives to my alternative captions to pictures in issue 213... “John Fletcher struggles to maintain a professional demeanour as Dr Liz bares her breasts behind the cover of her award” (p34 top right) “Abusing the helium-filled balloon in order to win the end-of-camp squeaky voice competition had seemed a good idea at the time” (p27 bottom right) Andy says “It’s the voices in my head that give me the ideas, really.” Yes, Andy. Meanwhile Bill Nicholson of NWPG has sent in this picture...

For the WRG Fictionary... Some more waterways definitions sent in by Adrian Tuddenham: ACCOMMODATION: Incontinent chinaman. BALANCE BEAM: Happy look upon receiving favourable bank statement. CULVERT (1): A deviant, specialising in French buggery. CULVERT (2): French navvy who has sat in some slime. DUMPER: Sound made by stupid cat. FLEMISH BOND: Respiratory illness caused by banker's draught. RUBBER BEETLE: First Aid method for reviving girl knocked unconscious by fence-post hammer. TOWPATH: Podiatry labs. CAMP KIT: Poofy cat. BYWASH: Loose change for the Laundrette. SPILL WEIR: Clumsy Elsan user

Thank you... ...to whoever sent in the following advert:

...which appears to show a happy couple who have chosen a NWPG work party at Fourteen Locks as the ideal setting for their wedding photographs. Unless you can suggest an alternative caption?

Given that I have just had to come home early from a London WRG dig to finish Navvies at home because my laptop broke, I’m sure you’ll appreciate just how much this particular snippet amuses me. But please keep sending them in anyway....

And finally... From the Scottish newspaper The Herald comes the following story... A British Waterways Guide was explaining to tourists, at the formal opening of the £1.2m Auchinstarry mooring basin on the Forth & Clyde Canal, that the Falkirk Wheel was turned by only the same amount of electricity consumed by six toasters. An American tourist, not quite understanding, later asked if he could see the six toasters that powered the wheel.

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Navvies 214