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avvies N Volunteers restoring waterways No 219 October-November 2006 SAVE SAVE THE THE WATERWAYS WATERWAYS CAMPAIGN: CAMPAIGN: The The canals canals need need your your help help NOW NOW

Abingdon Jubilee Junction opened

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 220: November 1st.

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 (please add a donation if possible) to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorltoncum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for

In this issue:

Editorial Coming soon the Bonfire Bash and

3-4

Noticeboard Infill A boatload of Moose’s what?

39 40

5-7 Christmas work parties and camps Camp Reports from the Wilts & Berks, Wey & 8-19 Arun, Mon & Brec and the National Diary Canal Camp and working party dates 20-22 Camp Reports from the IWA Diamond Jubilee 23-26 project at Abingdon on the Wilts & Berks Abingdon a report on the Jubilee project 27-29 Progress Sankey, Sussex Ouse, MB&B, 30-33 Lapal, Mont, Wendover and Wey & Arun Dig report Defra on the Grantham 34 Letters to the editor 35 WRGBC latest from the WRG boat club 36 Navvies News and a book auction 37-38

And next time... ....we hope to include reports from the Autumn Canal Camp and Bonfire Bash on the Grantham Canal, a Dig Deep update, the latest on the New Year camps, the 2007 Cleanup, the Barn Dance... and just possibly the 2007 Canal Camps booklet. And anything else that you get round to writing and sending in. all the latest news of WRG's activities

Ian Williamson

Cover picture: The culmination of the IWA’s Diamond Jubilee Project: the Jubilee Junction and first 150 yards of the Wilts & Berks Canal diversion around Abingdon are opened on August 30th. (photo by Ian Williamson) See pages 20-26 for reports on the work at Abingdon. Below: The other big project for us this year has been the rebuilding of Brewhurst Lock on the Wey & Arun to a reduced height, as part of the scheme to lower the canal so that it can be carried under the B2133 road. KESCRG volunteers are seen casting a new base at the upper end of the lock chamber to meet up with the new top sill. See pages 10-13.


This time it’s for real Yes, it’s time for our elected representatives to play ‘Stuff the Waterways’ again - and this time it looks like they might get away with it - unless we act NOW!

Editorial

You might remember about 18 months ago when the Conservative Party was threatening to flog off all the non-operational property assets that provide an increasing part of British Waterways’ income, blow all the money on redundancy cheques for civil servants, and leave the canals struggling against an increasing backlog of engineering maintenance work? Well, now it’s Labour’s turn to show that they can be every bit as capable as the Tories when it comes to buggering-up the waterways. Or depending on your viewpoint it’s the useless, faceless, time-serving civil servants in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) demonstrating their outstanding ability to cock things up, irrespective of which bunch of politicians is supposedly in charge of them at the time.

SAVE THE WATERWAYS

But no matter, the result is the same. The canal system, which is probably in its best condition maintenance-wise for many years, is about to be sent back into the dark ages of the 1980s, when tunnels were collapsing, embankments were bursting, and nobody knew if and when there would be any cash to fix them. And that’s the tragedy of it: the last few years have been a real success story for the waterways - and now that’s in danger of being thrown away. And unlike the Tories’ 2005 plans, it doesn’t depend on some unlikely election result - it’s happening already. Basically, Defra is putting the squeeze on British Waterways to the tune of at least £10m a year for this year, next year, and quite possibly up to five years. Already £5m is having to be shaved off this winter’s engineering works budget, with essential maintenance being shelved or postponed. It’s likely that if there’s a major problem in the next few years (like the breach last year that shut the Rochdale Canal for twelve months) there simply won’t be the money to fix it. And as we know only too well from problems that afflicted the canals from the 1960s to the 1990s, each £5m cut now could well mean £10m or £20m to fix the problems later. Just when we were within sight of clearing the long-standing backlog of overdue work on the waterways, it’s going to start building up again. So what’s brought this about? The spiralling cost of waterways engineering? Canals showing their age and needing more looking after? No, actually it’s all down to late payment of farm subsidies. Err, excuse me - farm bloody subsidies? What’s that got to do with the canal system? Well, a quirk of one of the many reorganisations that see the waterways periodically handed around pass-the-parcel style from department to department has ended up with BW being part of Defra -, along with a rag-bag of other things such as equestrian issues, flooding, fishing... and farm subsidies. And some absolutely outstanding ineptitude at Defra has meant that they have been so bad at paying these subsidies that they have not only blown a hole a mile wide in their budget, but the EU - which with one hand has been putting millions of our money into canal restoration - has with its other hand slapped Defra’s wrist and handed out a huge fine for late payment. And of course the one budget they can’t raid to get them out of this hole is the one that caused it - the farm subsidies budget. So instead the axe falls on things like waterways. And it’s falling on them big time. Now the Treasury could bail them out if it felt that there was some other area which that could better stand the cuts - or where they would be politically more expedient. But they have simply told Defra “It’s your balls-up - so you can fix it.” Again it depends on your viewpoint whether this is a commendably resolute approach in the face of mind-blowing incompetence at Defra, or a case of the Government washing its hands like Pontius Pilate while the waterways system is crucified. But why does this affect us in WRG? The canals we’re working on aren’t generally restored or maintained by BW, and if they are it’s usually funded through other routes such as local authorities rather than via the BW Government grant. Well it affect us both indirectly and directly. Firstly, it affects waterway restoration in general, thanks to the effect that underfunding will have on reducing overall confidence in the canal system. Well over £100m from the National Lottery has gone into waterway restoration in the last ten years - and similar amounts in match-funding from regeneration bodies, EU funds and so on. Given that so much of this was justified on the basis of the boost to the economy that the restored waterway would provide, would these groups have been so free with their funding if they’d known that the existing system couldn’t be guaranteed to survive intact - and that some of the waterways they are funding might be shut again within months?

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To return to the Rochdale: would £26m restoration cash have been forthcoming if the funders had known that not only would engineering problems (probably largely resulting from lack of maintenance during its long closure) keep the canal closed as a through route for two of the first four years after completion - but that BW would go on record as saying that they can’t afford to fix another burst? In other words: people will ask “What is the point in restoring canals if we can’t maintain them?” Secondly, there are fears that it may affect restoration even more directly. Major work by contractors is about to start on three current restoration schemes (Cotswolds, Droitwich, Manchester Bolton & Bury) and one new construction project (Liverpool Link) BW isn’t a major funder (it isn’t allowed to put money from the Government support grant into restoration) but it is contributing funds from its commercial business developments, and it is providing the necessary underwriting of possible cost over-runs that are needed before the major works can go ahead. And I am told by BW that ‘not all the contracts are signed yet’ - and that money earned by BW’s business interests might need to be diverted to cover the shortfall in Government grant and keep the canals open. BW might need to decide if it is more important to go ahead and restore six miles of the Cotswolds or to keep Braunston Tunnel open. Can anything be done? Well, ranting and raving in Navvies might be a good way of letting off steam not to mention hopefully convincing the readers of the seriousness of the situation - but it won’t keep any canals open. On the other hand, there are quite a few things you can do that might just help...

. .

Writing to MPs. To your local member; to waterways minister Barry Gardiner; to David Miliband at the head of Defra; to Gordon Brown. Better still, write to your local MP, raise whatever concerns you have - particularly local ones that may interest him or her and ask your MP to raise the subject with the minister. Because that will require a proper ministerial answer - not just a fobbingoff by a junior civil servant. And remember: don’t just quote what you read in Navvies - tell your MP why you are concerned about the future of the waterways - and why your MP should be, too.

SAVE THE WATERWAYS

Getting involved with one of the national organisations - IWA, NABO, RYA, AWCC etc. All of these are mobilising to fight the cuts both nationally and locally. See their websites.

Jan 16: Cruise to the Houses of Parliament, with boats converging from all directions, and a gathering of supportive MPs and celebrities on Westminster Bridge

Taking part in events (SEE PANEL RIGHT). A campaign cruise past parliament is scheduled for January 16th. Blockades of various parts of the canal system are planned. Campaign rallies and festivals will be held. A petition carried to Defra on a canal boat on the back of a lorry is another plan. A website has being set up which will give the latest news and full details of all the campaign events: www.savethewaterways.org.uk.

Campaign events planned: Nov 25-26 Canal blockades across the country wth boats jamming highprofile sites such as outside the Mailbox in Birmingham

Feb 24-25: More blockades to coincide with delivery of petition to DEFRA by boat

www.savethewaterways.org.uk

.

But don’t despair: people will say that “it’s not worth restoring canals if we can’t maintain the ones we’ve got”. They’re wrong. The current problems will hit the canals, and may hit them very hard. But many of the waterways we’re restoring are long-term projects that won’t be finished until the funding crisis of 2006 is a distant memory. We didn’t stop restoring the Wey & Arun, the Cotswolds, the Rochdale or the Huddersfield on account of the tunnel maintenance crisis of the early 1980s. We shouldn’t stop restoring canals now because of the current problems. Finally some good news - from an unlikely quarter. The committee that was set up to consider all options - including complete closure - for the cashstrapped Basingstoke Canal is about to report its conclusions. And it appears likely that the recommendation will be that the unsatisfactory ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ funding arrangements, which have seen the local authorities failing to honour their promises, will be replaced with proper contracts and service level agreements so that guaranteed funding can be passed to a separate trust that will run the canal. It still won’t be flush for cash, but at least there will be a workable arrangement that (together with support from the canal society and others including WRG) should keep the canal open. And that’s really good news for a canal that was facing possible closure only six months ago. Nice to see IWA and WRG standing And on that positive note I’ll leave you. together side-by-side at the National! Martin Ludgate

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WRG Bonfire Bash Grantham November 4-5 It’s nearly that time of year again: the summer is sadly coming to an end and the nights are drawing in - what a horrible thought!! Well we have something for you to look forward to: November is nearly upon us and that’s the month of the Bonfire Bash!

Coming soon...

The Bonfire Bash: book now to avoid disappointment!

Traditionally at the Bonfire bash we have bonfires! However we also use the weekend as a bit of a reunion for people who maybe haven’t seen each other for a few months or in some cases years! It’s a good place to catch up with your fellow navvies from the camp you were at over the summer, or to make new friends and work out where you’re all going to go next year! To that end, this years Bash will be back at Grantham where we went in 2004. We have two new sites and a familiar one from two years ago. The work is varied and involves improving the flow of water in a feeder that runs from Knipton Reservoir to the Grantham Canal. The 2007 IWA Trailboat Festival will be held on the Grantham Canal, and getting the feeder repaired should improve the water levels in the Canal ready for the visiting boats. The feeder runs from the reservoir through the Belvoir Estate. The first section is open and is in need of a bit of clearance work, the sides of the feeder have also collapsed and are in need of repairing, and we will be putting in a cattle watering point. There will be some small excavator work to be done, and some dredging of the feeder bottom to clear debris from it. The feeder then disappears underground for about a mile and a half before reappearing. The second site is a scrub bashing site at Muston Gorse Wood, at the other end of the feeder near where it joins the canal. This has a natural hedge boundary on one side of the feeder but the other side is overgrown with hawthorn and brambles; it also needs debris removing from it and in places some bank shoring up. The third site is the one familiar to those of you who were at the Bonfire Bash two years ago when Adrian and Gav were at the helm. We will be working at Oddhouse Farm continuing the good work that we started there, and which the Canal Society has continued since then. We have about half a mile of canal to clear of trees from the canal bed, but also lots of tirforing to take out the stumps. In all, quite a varied type and amount of work. All you need to do is Volunteer for it! The school we are staying in is St.Hughs in Grantham. It has a large hall and sports hall for sleeping in, also some quieter classrooms for those who don’t want to stay up all night trying to finish the beer! It also has a brand new kitchen, and - best of all - lots of showers!! Did I mention the beer? Now I’ve got your interest!! There will be the usual barrels of beer for the Friday and Saturday night - but in return I have a very small favour to ask! I am looking for some drivers of our WRG minibuses to go to and from the sites, also some excavator drivers and one person to help with booking people in and collecting money on the Friday evening, all offers gratefully received!! Just get in touch with me on the number below. ‘Vulcan Dave’ Bradford and I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible, it will be a good weekend with plenty of assorted work. Just fill in the form overleaf and send it off today! See you soon Luv Mitch Gozna 07768525469 PS Full directions will be sent out to everyone who books - and will appear on www.wrg.org.uk

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Coming soon...

Christmas digging! Yes, only a few weeks till December and that means the KESCRG / London WRG Christmas dig.

This takes place on December 2-3 on the Basingstoke Canal, a waterway that needs all the help it can get at the moment, with the local authorities in doubt about paying to maintain it, and a backlog of overdue work beginning to build up. We’ll be concentrating on the eastern end of the canal between the junction with the River Wey Navigation at Woodham and the first few locks of the Woodham Flight. The work is likely to be mainly heaving scrub-bashing to get rid of overhanging trees and vegetation on the canal banks.

And then... gulp... it’s nearly Christmas time!

Saturday night will see us starting the Festive Season with a super Christmas dinner and fancy dress party, and this year the theme is ‘The Beatles’. We’ll have fun party games and quiz, all with a Beatles theme, and I’ve even heard some kind of rumour about dancing lessons! Oh yes and real ale on tap. Everyone is welcome - you don’t need to be a regular with London WRG, KESCRG, WRG SW or any other group - but we would like you to book in in advance so we know how much food to get. Please contact Alice Bayston who has kindly agreed look after ticket sales for this event. She will be at the Bonfire Bash doing her best to get you to part with your £16.00 (for the whole weekend) but if you’re not going to Grantham, please ring her on 07747 465469 or email alicebayston@hotmail.com. Now it’s over to Moose for a few words on the Christmas Canal Camp on the Chesterfield... Just a quick update regarding the Christmas Camp. Yes I’m leading it, Paul Shaw is my assistant, and the cook will be Maria. The accommodation is to be at Renishaw Community Centre, which the locals say will easily accommodate 40 people. Next door is a working men’s club with a football field and shower facilities that the locals are also trying to get access to. The area is about 2 miles north of M1 Junction 30 on the A616, and within a mile of the worksite. Beware some maps might have the road as A6135: this is ether an error or the road name has been changed. The locals will check for us. Regarding work (oh yes that horrible word), we will be scrub bashing or ‘slash and burn’. And yes, we will have a bonfire or two! Small! Controlled! (well yes, everyone knows what I mean). The WRG camps list did have the camp starting before Xmas, that’s probably wishful thinking on the part of the trouble makers in Head Office: I won’t mention their names, but Jenny and Jessica know that I’m talking about them. Damn that’s blown it. But if enough people inform me that they might be interested in starting the camp on Christmas Eve then I will go back to the locals and check the availability of the hall. Otherwise the camp will start 26th December and finish 1st January as usual. On the WRGies Words forum you will find various WRGies discussing what’s happening - this site is also useful for other camps etc. This URL takes you straight to the discussion of the Christmas Camp: http://p2.forumforfree.com/2006-christmas-new-year-camp-vt236-wrg.html. Now you all know how I like to get people booked early, and via Head Office. Spaces could be limited. The New Year Party will be fancy dress with a theme of ‘Star signs & heavenly bodies’. Paul, the able assistant, thinks this should give a certain ex-postie plenty of scope to indulge in his normal dressingup-as-a-girl fetish. It also gives the rest of you plenty of time to think about a costume, so no excuses! (Last year seeing James in a Lara Croft getup was very scary…) I should mention now there will be likely to be dogs in the hall, just in case anyone who is allergic to dogs was going to book on. (Sorry) We are in fact waiting for confirmation that dogs are allowed in the hall. Hopefully more info in the next issue after a site visit in the near future!

Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden

Finally, there’s the Wilts & Berks Canal Christmas Camp 2006/7 The camp will run this year from Tuesday 26th December to lst January 2007, but if anyone wishes to start the previous weekend (23rd December) this can be arranged. The work will depend largely on the weather, varying from vegetation clearance and stump pulling at Foxham to work on Lock 4 (bricklaying, concreting and block laying). There will probably be hedgelaying tuition by Di and myself, and help with hedge clearance and bonfires. Accommodation is at the Foxham Reading Rooms. For further details and booking, please ring me on 01249-892289. Rachael Banyard


waterway recovery group

NATIONAL CO-ORDINATING BODY FOR VOLUNTARY LABOUR ON THE INLAND WATERWAYS OF BRITAIN

WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash 2006

I would like to attend the 2006 WRG Bonfire Bash on the Grantham Canal on November 4th-5th Forename:

Surname:

Address:

email: Phone: Any special dietary requirements? I require accommodation on Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £

(please make cheques payable to ‘WRG’) for food

(cost is £10 for the whole weekend, based on £2 for each meal.) How will you be travelling to the Bonfire Bash?

Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which you should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:

Phone:

Signed: (parent’s signature also required if aged under 18): Please send this form to: Bonfire Bash Bookings, WRG, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY


Camp reports ...starting at Steppingstones Bridge on the Wilts & Bers... Camp 0618: Steppingstones Bridge Wilts and Berks Canal, August 9 - 16 The Amazing Shrinking Camp! I started the week cooking for about 30 on Saturday night, and we ended with a barbecue for 7 on the Friday! But, fortunately, it wasn’t the food that got rid of them, or that we scared them all off! The last week of the camps at the Jubilee Junction in Abingdon couldn’t get into their accommodation on the first night because of a wedding, so came to lodge with us, which made for a noisy and slightly confusing evening. But once we’d got rid of the rabble on Sunday morning with impressive speed, we were left with a small select band for the rest of the week.

But we did co-opt some contract labour to boost numbers a bit during the day – bodies who were surplus to requirements at Abingdon (due to expected work not being available) commuted on a daily basis, including at the end of the week Martin by Morris power. So a few bricks started to get laid, under Mike’s expert guidance, once we’d solved the double challenge of how to get water into the water butt and then get it to site. One of the major luxuries of such a small camp and two 9-seater vans was that we were able to use one for site (trusty old RFB) and keep the sparkling new EHP for the evening, when visits included one to the White Horse. Rob Brotherston revealed what he does with all the food by running up the hill – who needs Mars to help you work, rest and play when you can finish off the site sandwiches instead? But it was generally agreed that the height of entertainment for the week was reading the Screwfix catalogue…

We took up where the previous week’s camp had left off, working on the Victoria Line extension – at least that was what the combination of scaffolding and very large sheets of ply making up the bridge former most closely resembled! Sunday was spent sorting out where it had all shifted overnight, which had to be done at first without the milk – don’t leave home without it!

Martin Ludgate

The camp shrank even further that evening, as I had to leave them to their own devices to go to work for three days (bit of a pain this employment lark, I’m now discovering!), but I couldn’t keep away entirely: the disadvantage of only being 10 minutes up the road. So I dropped in to check the shopping requirements and deliver the pudding I hadn’t got round to making at the weekend – made to make your mouth water, or so I The tricky job of matching up the new arch to the subsided abutments was told!

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We also managed a visit, full of eastern promise, to the other site in Abingdon (ok, its only just east, but I’m trying to shoehorn them in somehow!) – and were unimpressed by the big muddy hole! We joined up with the other camp for a pub quiz in the Old Anchor, and managed to come joint second with one of their teams (amazingly not the one including Martin!), The Bonkers, losing by one point to the local team, The Donuts (not a fix, of course…). We were doing very well in fact, until the final popular music round, admittedly helped by an afternoon reading the papers after being rained off site and John and Steve Robinson’s knowledge of advertising slogans (you see, there is a reason!) But we made up for it on Friday, when a huge number of bricks were laid – once you pop, you can’t stop – while watching storms pass by a field’s width away on either side.

“WevisitedAbingdonandwere unimpressedbythemuddyhole”

And so to the thanks – to Chris Forward, who wanted his name in print, but definitely deserves it as he was a top local! To John and Steve, who hopefully enjoyed their first camp – I’m afraid the next one probably won’t be so exclusive! To t’other John and Tess, for negotiating the roundabout nightmare that is Swindon on the emergency shopping trips. To Mike, for his brickie expertise, and Anthony, for making sure that everything was recycled. To all the others who were there for part of the week (Every Little Helps!), and to our borrowed labour. And finally, to Adrian, for leading and keeping the (small) hordes fed while I wasn’t there. Finally, a note to Camp 0616 – we were disappointed to discover that Betty’s bush had been trimmed by someone else! Harri Thomsett

David Miiller

We enjoyed the spacious accommodation at Watchfield Village Hall (shared with Age Concern - not a comment on the age of the volunteers, honest!) – we had at least the 70ft2 of space per person recommended by the How to Run a Canal Camp guide! Though we needed it to escape Anthony’s snoring – is it live or is it…? And since John and Tess Hawkins had the sense to bring their own tent on wheels – very nice it is too! – it did mean about 6 of us had an average-sized village hall floor between us!

Camp reports

The Victoria Line tube extension (or is it Steppingstones Bridge?) begins to take shape

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Camp reports

...followedbythestartof thisyear’s Wey & Arun project at Loxwood... Camp 0609: Wey & Arun Canal Jul 19-22 NWPG at Brewhurst Lock This was yet another week of wall-to-wall sunshine on the Wey & Arun Canal: if anything, hotter than last year. If its gets any warmer, then next year’s NWPG camp will be in October! Anyway I shouldn’t moan as we needed the dry conditions to get a good start on our project for the week – work on lowering the previously-restored Brewhurst Lock so that it’s final rise will be only about 1ft 6” (see the last-but-one issue of Navvies to find out to why we are doing this).

All pictures by Bill Nicholson

Arriving at the lock side on the Saturday of the camp, we appreciated what two blokes in diggers with pecker attachments can do in one week. The whole of the top end of the lock from the top bow wall to the return walls had been removed, the main chamber walls reduced in height by about 50%, but the bottom gates and footbridge left remaining at their original height. The team of camp regulars, most of who had arrived in Sussex on Friday night, spent the day moving the site cabin, laying down planings and completing the preparations for three weeks of camp.

We soon appreciated that although the hole in the ground dug by the contractors looked big, it was still not big enough. What we didn’t realise was that it would be Thursday evening of the camp before Pete Bunker had dug down deep enough that the correct level for the new cill had been established. We also had more to take off the lockside. The materials here are a mix of original stone and concrete ‘stone’ blocks – the latter being put up when the lock was re-built in the early 1990’s. The stone comes off with electric Kangos but the concrete is difficult to remove even after cutting with a diamond disc and breaking with compressor and heavy breakers. The resulting job is however much neater and would no doubt be laboriously completed by the end of the three weeks of camps.

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Breaking out the old top gate sill


With the arrival of our all male team on Sunday morning we set about cleaning out the lock chamber, erecting the scaffolding and neatly cutting and breaking out the invert at the top of the lock. At the bottom end footings were dug for the new retaining wall for the lower gate platform – these were poured the same day with Phil (who else?!) laying the blocks and casting the coping over the remainder of the week. I mentioned blocks – these are the special Wey & Arun Canal Trust type and are made by pouring concrete into moulds onto a facing of reconstituted Fittleworth stone. This became a regular morning task at our depot which has been set up in the meadow next to the River Lox. No Wall rebuilding using WACT concrete ‘stone’ blocks on tap water supply (like last year) meant that the river was our source for mixing. It being dry we kept our concrete mixing depot there – proximity to water, orange squash and shade being more important than the length of the barrow run. None of these tasks would have been possible without our team of hard working diggers, mixers and breakers. The die-hard, loyal and in some cases longserving NWPGites were fortunate to have the support of Alex, Richard, Simon, Rob, Stu and Nick. None of the work was light and at no time did the temperature fall to what I would call comfortable levels, but we all stuck at it knowing that we would be rewarded by a refreshing shower and a bottle or two of cold ale and the end of each day. The famous W & A shower caravan came into its own following its winter Pouring the new concrete top gate sill re-fit and after Steve our resident central heating engineer had added a pump to the circuit. Sue did us proud again with the cooking – it was probably even hotter in the small kitchen at Kirdford than on site. Even with the heat, everything was eaten such that for the first time ever we consumed the whole of our budget! By the end of our 7 days we had shuttered and cast the new top cill – readymix being delivered straight to the site in the dry conditions. We had cast one coping on the off – side chamber wall, broken up a shedload of concrete, virtually completed the lower gate platform retaining wall and made about 50 W & A concrete blocks for the top cill walls. Good luck to the other camps – the work continues through the autumn and extra help from other groups will be welcomed – and thanks to the team on our camp. Next year it WILL be cooler …. thinking about Wales as a venue! Bill Nicholson

NWPG catering at its finest!

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Camp reports ...begun by NWPG and carried on by KESCRG (and the dog)...

Camp 0611: Wey and Arun Camp 22nd – 29th July KESCRG at Brewhurst Lock A dog’s life… Hello my name is Cam, I am a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and this year Loz and Rosie are helping me to write the camp report… Well, where to start... I arrived at Kirdford Village Hall on Saturday and to my joy discovered about 30 beds laid out for me; so much more comfortable than a basket. Everyone asked my name first, ahead of the human I own, Nic; and indeed before that of anyone else on the camp. After a delicious dinner of chicken and rice (ha-ha, yes I managed to sneak some!) we visited the site where the humans would be working all week under my excellent supervision. I was delighted to discover vast quantities of mud to roll in, everyone else strangely was less so and seemed relieved to reach the wonderful dryness of the Onslow Arms.

Work continued on Monday (fancy that), more blocks were made and large quantities of concrete was mixed to go in ‘the hole’. Eddie began his arduous task of teaching all the girlies to use the Stihl saw beginning with Jenny and Rosie; whilst the DofEers, Jess and Roz were put to work breaking under Nic’s tutelage. The planned evenings entertainment was swimming; foolishly the DofEers declined to go, failing to realise that the alternative was to stay slaving away on site. As the merry band departed poolward bound, I watched in bewilderment as Nic walked away leaving me tied underneath the portacabin. I couldn’t believe it when they drove away, the traumatic feeling of abandonment overwhelmed me. Didn’t he want me anymore? Fortunately my kind uncle Ian had not forgotten me and took me back to the accommodation, where food helped to numb my pain. When they returned, marginally cleaner than before (sadly the same cannot be said for the pool water) all was forgiven over a dinner of steak and ale pie. It’s fortunate that I’m here to help Loz and Rosie writing this, as their only recollection of Tuesday was ‘Shepherds Pie’. I however, could tell you a plethora of technical information for this day, but I don’t want to bore you, so… I made a new friend at the pub called George, sadly George wasn’t allowed friends so I was whisked away, while everyone else got to continue downing their pints of Tanglefoot and Badger.

All pictures by Rowena Gaskell

Wednesday saw Rowena and Steve continue their Sunday dawned warm and sunny, after chasing dangerous vehicles training, on the small excamy tail for a while I tucked into a hearty breakfast vator and landies, and the dumper respectively. (thank you Eddie for volunteering to get up, we’d Perhaps due to this Steve forgot the flight case have gone rather hungry without you). On site I yet again, leading to the creation of the post ‘flight entertained everyone with my curious staffy case attendant’. This distinguished honour was benoises, keeping their morale up whilst they got on stowed upon Rosie; who was going to hide the case with fascinating things like… block making under the next day but was reminded by Richard that it the direction of the Queen of Blocks (Loz) with was highly unlikely Steve would notice it was gone. Claire and Sam; the return of Mk2’s comedy carpentry making shuttering, Jenny and Rosie learning the art of mortar mixing from Kaz (whilst poor folk like Andrew, Gerallt, Nick and Alex got to barrow it all away). During lunch break people were occasionally distracted away from fussing over me to eat vast quantities of food and listen to Claire’s philosophical views: ‘To a giant you’d seem tiny, but to us you’re normal’. Later on my circle of admirers was sadly diminished by the departure of Gaz and Kaz and Mark, but it meant more roast pork for me at dinner. At the Forresters that evening some were dismayed by there now only being one swing on the children’s playground, but fortunately it didn’t distress me too much. Casting new copings on the main chamber walls

page 12


To everyone’s amazement it was suddenly Friday without even Andrew being broken, despite Steve’s best attempts. To her delight Jenny managed to find a new job that was neither barrowing nor mixing, helping Mk2 lay the coping stone. Alice and Andrew kept up a steady stream of concrete and mortar to ‘the hole’, ably barrowed by Amy (newly returned), Alex, Nick, Richard and Mark (taking a rest from breaking). Ian taught Jess and Roz surveying, whilst Loz and Rosie invented a new song, which is included below for your pleasure. The level on the wall is straight, straight, straight, Straight, straight, straight, Straight, straight, straight, The level on the wall is straight, straight, straight, All the way along! How to keep two people cool with one can of beer

(to the tune of The wheels on the bus) Jess, the ‘breaking bitch’ continued her fine work along with Roz, now known as the ‘saw whore’ Oh dear, and people thought my staffy noises after a lesson from Eddie. The beautiful blocks were strange! There were many more verses, but made earlier in the week, having got the Queen’s don’t worry, they won’t be inflicted upon you. The seal of approval were laid in ‘the hole’ by Roy, last day ended with the traditional water and mud Chris, Lew and Phill for paddle culverts fight, with or(I think…). Despite having an early start ange squash to avoid the midday sun, Loz cracked being replaced her whip and made her block team by vegetable oil work through lunch (mwahahahahaha). as the weapon Attention was rudely diverted from me of choice. in the evening by the arrival of the Somehow the kit youngest WRGie, Samuel (sadly not ended up clean resplendent in a KESCRG baby grow) in the trailer, if accompanied by Ruth and Steve. They only the same had joined us for a journey aboard the could be said for Zachariah Keppel trip-boat and a the humans… scrumptious picnic tea. After showers The leader supervising the day’s work and a beer run The next morning I discovered myself the end of camp and Rosie were the only ones to have slept peace- party began with a barbecue courtesy of Ian. Dr fully through the arrival of Jem (“the nasty yappy Busker provided the evening’s soundtrack, while little dog” – Loz, “sweet adorable thing” – Rosie) awards were given out to Gerallt, Jenny, Roz, during a thunderstorm that night. Disappointed as Jess, Nick, Alex, Andrew, Eddie, Loz and Rowena I was not to make another friend I suppose I must (apologies if I missed anyone, I was enjoying a be content with George. On site I sat on my chair rather tasty bone at the time). Giant Jenga re(aren’t I a clever boy?) and posed for pictures, turned, along with the cereal box game; honestly whilst I surveyed the multitude of work going on; I don’t know why they think it’s so hard, for a dog su doku, crosswords… Construction began on it’s terribly easy to eat from the floor. the second Great Wall of China (see last year’s camp report), Loz having finally torn herself away A cooked breakfast, with the choice of an accomfrom her beloved blocks, leaving them in the safe panying salad, provided a good start to the final hands of Roz, Jess and Graham. Comedy car- day, though obviously not as good as pedigree pentry continued apace, producing fabulous chum would have done. More kit was sorted and shuttering for the in situ casting of coping stones. goodbyes were said before handing over guardiAt dinner that evening some were disappointed anship of the canal to the next camp group. that Maureen and Brian had left early, as it meant going without Maureen’s famous ‘lightly breaded And now I will bid you adieu until next year, there garlic’. However Dr Liz did not disappoint and eve- is a cat that needs chasing so I must leave you. ryone tucked in happily to a delicious meal of lasagne and garlic bread, before abandoning me at the accommodation for an evening of bowling.

Cam

page 13


Camp reports

Monday: The old hands from the previous week set off early on Monday morning to avoid the midday sun (possibly the earliest start ever on a WRG Camp – on site at 6am!) and continued on with their lime mortaring and construction of the stop plank groove.

...and then some strange goings-on on the Mon & Brec... Camp 0610 July 15th - 22nd: ‘Schtroumfettes on the Mon and Brec’

Saturday: Day 1 began with the usual introductions and Health and Safety talk and a visit to the infamous 1960’s retro pub the Philanthropic….. Sunday: The first official day of the camp was spent familiarising ourselves with the site and getting started with some of the work. Krusty was quick to don the waders and got stuck in clearing out the lock whilst the rest of us set about scrub bashing and stone cleaning.

Sam and Toby loving the lime The rest of the uneducated newbies were herded into vans and taken to Ty Mawr – to embrace the world of lime mortar. After a talk about the principles of lime mortar we were split into two groups and sent to hone our skills in lime mortaring and plastering… the mature group returned at the end of the day relatively unscathed from the day but the juniors fully embraced the love of mortar and developed the art of ‘extreme mortaring’… needless to say a dip in the now infamous Pond of the Killer Swans was required. Jen and Lady Essex led the way and soon everyone was gentle bobbing in the evening sun apart from cameraman Mike who gallantly stayed on shore to record the event. We returned and another delicious meal was provided by master chef Toby. ‘We are obese… this is not a canal camp it’s a fat camp’

Krusty working the waders – sexy!! Once off site we showered and returned for food. With initial barriers broken down and introductions made quickly the tone of the camp was set… our French volunteer Alex quickly came to understand the meaning of ‘innuendo’. Nic and his spacehoppers provided plenty of aerobic exercise for everyone in the evening. This lead to prolonged spacehopper battles and jackass style spacehopper tricks (don’t worry: health and safety measures were put in place!!) – Achievement of the evening was Rob (assisted by Celeste) hopper-ing over both Nic and James and sustaining no injuries!!* *For videos of extreme space hoppering please contact Nic Bennett.

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The evening entertainment was provided by Peter and the unicycle – James discovered he had a natural ability to unicycle and with Peter singing his praises (‘James being the most talented unicyclist he had ever seen’) – he successfully showed up all the circus wanabees on the camp. ‘Step away from the unicycle’ After many people’s egos (and bodies) were bruised and battered the standard WRG entertainment was brought out… TWISTER… our little French Schtroumfette proved to be a master of the game…. this might partly be due to the amount of practice he had had on previous camps... (congratulations Alex for surviving the summer camp marathon – we think you even beat our leader’s record!) Tuesday: Everyone awoke with various aches and pains from the previous day’s spacehoppering and extreme mortaring but after a healthy breakfast we were raring to go.


We arrived at site and a scrub-bashing elite team was formed, led by Emily (and Mimsy) and Rach. This group set about clearing the spill weir of the lock 3 and after a destructive few hours the spill way began to reappear from the jungle of ivy and weeds. Throughout the day James continued his supervisory role (in true WRG style) with his big yellow dumper close by. ‘What‘s that coming over the hill, it is a dumper, James in a dumper?!!’ Again the camp decided against conventional evening entertainment and headed to the hills for a remote picnic by a mountain lake equipped with dinghies and shinty sticks! Dinner was provided al fresco by Toby… proving once again that he truly is the Gordon Ramsey of WRG cookery!

...we were ready for a shower and food but Lady Essex had another plan in store. Everyone was rounded up into the minibuses and driven to the WRG Olympic Arena (aka a grassy bit at Fourteen Locks) for the 1st annual WRG Olympics. The opening ceremony involved bathing of feet and eating of ice cream for these highly trained WRG athletes. The teams were decided and the games began…team 1 took an early lead in the three legged race and continued on with their success in both the wheel barrow race and ducking for apples….unfortunately for team 2 they never recovered from their early un-regimented lacklustre performances and team 1 were crowned champions!

Wednesday: The glorious sunshine continued. (Well it never rains in Wales, does it?) Everyone made sure they were ready for the heat of the day and Lady Essex quickly came to Alex’s aid to ‘mayonnaise him up’. Work continued on the various projects and finally the master puzzle of the spillweir began….Pike, Pillage and Plunder under the instruction of their master ‘R’ set about ‘acquiring’ stones to for laying the spill way.

Team 1 (Alex and Jonathan) leading the way! The champions toasted their success and the evening beveraging began again…. Pike, Pillage and Plunder Justina and Paul also started work on rebuilding the spill weir’s side and base protected by the classy Starburst / Bounty stand –although progress was slow with high demand for lime mortar – we done Alex and Mike for keeping production going!! After a hard day’s work and limbering up our weary muscles thanks to a lunch time Down Dog Yoga session led by Sam...

‘I have never… in a Methodist Church… 2002…’ Thursday: Thursday was the ‘hottest day ever’ and advanced scrub-bashing continued on the top spill way by Paul, Emily and Nic. The rest of the camp continued with their various jobs – Sam, Toby, Alex and Jonathan lime mortared with great efficiency whilst others (Krusty and Peter) moved down to the lock/ spillway below and started pointing work. We went off site early and drove down to the Newport Transporter Bridge. Everyone successfully climbed to the top of the bridge (well done Ellie for conquering the fear!!) Toby then presented the camp with the best homemade scones ever – enjoyment in eating only to be marred by the vertigo-induced nausea. We reckon that it was the highest scones and tea on a WRG camp ever– bring on the challengers!! (this was a record breaking camp!!)

page 15


Friday: The French lesions continued on site today as everyone began finishing off their projects and clearing up… ‘We have this expression in French when one steals a trowel…’ call Alex for explanation!! James even let Justina have a bit of dumper action! The last night party was kicked off with a classic secret shinty punch made by Lady Essex, King P-Y and Hopper. Another great meal was prepared by Toby and Sam and the evening got into full swing with the awards ceremony. Awards were duly presented to the following…..

‘Cream Teas Darling?!’ Camp 10’s record-breaking scone eating on the Newport Transporter Bridge With our feet firmly back on the ground we went swimming, disinfecting our fetid smelly selves. On our return we ordered fish and chips, and with renewed enthusiasm for drinking the shinty girls and Rob (quote of the day ‘Men are simple, they can’t go 5 minutes without looking at breasts’) set about drinking their way through 4 bottles of Pimms and bottle and half of gin. ‘Twenty of you, one of me… I make that Pimms (with gin) o’clock!’ The evenings joyous events were suddenly deflated in the early hours with the death of Michelle the Spacehopper … her bouncy personality and uplifting attitude to life will be remembered by all… a police inquiry was launched but concluded that it was merely a tragic accident and Sam was released without charge…..

Best Newcomer – Gemma aka Plunder Tirfor Pulling Award – Alex aka Frenchie (see next award for reference) Entente Cordiale Award in International Relations – Lady Essex Best Camper – Jen aka Hopper Catalytic Converter Award – Emily (and Mimsy) ‘Botty Honk’ Mr McGoo Award – James ‘Has anyone got the vans keys….oh they are in my pocket!!’ Kelloggs Award – Sam the Yoga Master NVQ Level 1 Unicycle Instruction Award – Peter Michael Schumacher Award – Daddy Paul Blasphemy Award – Cam for humping the lion The party continued into the early hours with a late night vodka jelly troughing competition ended the night for many… Toby claimed victory but after a steward’s enquiry and video evidence Nic was declared champion! He later recorded another victory in the eating whipped cream off sleeping people competition… a man of many talents. The evening (or rather early morning) activities continued, with many setting up camp in the Crypt (…what is spooning?’), only finding their way to their beds as the sun began to rise! Saturday: The morning was slow to start but the group set about cleaning up the accommodation and van - the lasting memory for many will be of Gemma stylishly clad in white dress and marigold cleaning the toilets... A big thank you must go to James (first time leader!!) and Rob for another great camp and also to Toby and Sam for keeping us well fed and in order! ….and remember my little Schtroumfettes ‘eating is cheating!’

Spacehopper Michelle’s Funeral Vehicle

page 16

written by The Camp - Various contributions from everyone (nb much of report had to be censored…..Lady Essex… need we say more?)


IWA National Festival Canal Camp Beale Park 2006 Well, I didn’t break anything, so that’s a good start. No apologies to be made for scaffold towers, no wandering about with a detached showerhead, nothing! Bungle obviously did, but failed to repeat his performance with the dumper on the flat bed. We did break a medic but more of that anon.

Camp reports ...and finally the National Festival Camp at Beale Park

The festival started early with a bit of a ‘do’ for Mike who had a bit of a birthday – if you don’t know which, it’s not for me to say, but now he’ll have to be all grown up and sensible like the rest of the over 40s.

The camp proper started on the Monday with the usual gathering plus a small number of new faces and Cap’n Moose and First Mate Ed, ably assisted by Sheila (Purser, I expect) on WRG admin, set about beating us into some semblance of order.

Actually it was a bit of a WRG babyathon – all the way down in age to baby Cattermole – Katherine (definitely with a K but I’m not sure about the bit in the middle. To complete the set, Wen and James arrived with Frances and 37 weeks worth of bump a week later – what a prolific bunch we are.

Moose repeated his team approach, but varied it this time by swapping teams between leaders, which seem to work well, even for some of us who are easily confused. Obviously Team 4 was best.

Apart from the jollities, Spence auctioned off various MKP icons, including the Shaggy t-shirt and those legendary shorts, and finished by auctioning the man himself, so he became KESCRG slave for a day – a guarantee to spend some of the weekend smelling of onions.

We had loads of tractors to play with, not just funny little modern things but proper ones, leading to a certain amount of grinning on the part of Mr Jones, who has been assured by his wife-to-be that she will kill him if he buys one, and if we try and circumvent this by buying him one for a wedding pressie, she will kill all of us!

“A National won’t be a National without any fencing!”

As we hadn’t had a party for days, we had another one on Tuesday – cheese, wine and quiz for the whole festival team. Al defeated the red/blue divide by sorting us into teams based on the first National that we had attended as a volunteer. I still consider myself to be a relative newcomer, but ended up a long way down the line.

Loads of tractors to play with!

Festival trivia questions with a bit of a WRG bias (as they were mostly gleaned from Jude) and a design-a-tee-shirt competition sorted the wheat from the chaff – but sadly I can’t remember who won – it wasn’t 1992 (heavily mud-themed)

page 17


The camp ran in a generally relaxed fashion – many of the usual set-up jobs having already been done, and the weather being generally kind. Once again, Bungle found a selection of toys to enter in the vintage vehicles display – two tractors, one dumper and Sammy (for sale). The usual excuse to misbehave – for those who haven’t seen this, the WRG (or whatever) vehicles are last out of the arena and there is a traffic jam. This leaves us in an empty arena with an audience – much playing of chase, demonstrating the dumper’s ability to travel in reverse as easily as forwards etc. Dr Liz’s Mini also appeared, but sadly Mk II was far too restrained. The vintage vehicles were accompanied by Mr Toad, as Womble spent some of the weekend dressed as an amphibian, and resisting the temptation to pass out from the heat.

I got to hand back my award from last year, simply to get rid of it, following a minor altercation between the pasty wagon and a bollard. In all a relaxed festival that nice Mr West seemed to think we might have made a bob or two. Thanks to Moose and Ed for running it (and Sheila for keeping us all in order) and to Al and Neil, for not saying ‘never again’, and feeding us royally, again. Ooh, and a big thanks to Sam for spending half an hour cleaning my boots, even though it may not have been her dog! (and I won’t say any more on that subject)

Ali and Neil did a sterling job on catering

The arena events also included jousting, so the traditional WRG v. Medics competition could only follow suit. With AJ (Lamen, not Jervis) on a wheeled trolley armed with a feather duster, and hauled by yours truly (although only temporarily – note to self: ‘not 20 any more’) we rode into battle. WRG won on points but as is often the way when people become overexcited, rioting occurred among the spectators, and the medics were attacked and some brought to the ground. All jolly good fun, apart from the medic who ended up in the medic’s own ambulance on his way to get his broken rib/punctured lung (but actually, as it turned out, severe bruising) attended to. In the spirit of green-ness, it seemed sensible not to waste a half empty ambulance so Sam chose this moment to test the efficacy of her Leatherman as a butcher’s knife. Off to hospital for both of them. Sam’s arm was put back together, but the medical folk weren’t about to let her go back to ‘a caravan in a field’ so she got to spend the night in hospital.

page 18

The usual post-festival festivities involved dressing up as pirates – this was very successful in some cases, less successful in others – in my case, this was described by Al as ‘looking like one of the Village People’ (she didn’t say which one). The usual speeches, and in this case, the retirement of Chippy Ken.

See you all at the bonfire bash (and if anyone needs a freelance Microsoft Office trainer let me know) David ‘Daddy Cool’ Worthington

The sign-making team hard at work


The Camp Leader’s report… ...or perhaps I should have used the heading of ‘The Captain’s Report’ to keep in with the pirate theme. The theme for this year’s end-of-camp party was pirates was very apt as the assistant leader was of course Navy Ed, who in years to come will be travelling the seas in a submarine (bl**dy fool). Thanks to Daddy Cool (DC) for a camp report, I must thank my team for all the help and work that they have put in, Ed for being such a good laugh and for working his cotton socks Moose & Sheila baffled by the accounts off. Thanks must go to Sheila for all the hard work in battling to keep the books straight, for all the H&S talks she carried out and for putting up with me and Ed. Big thanks goes to Ali and Neil who did such a sterling service preparing so many meals, and also for dealing with the odd little things that I had planned to do, but they made happen, especially the cheese and wine evening. My plan was to try and get the Blue shirts and the Red shirts to mingle and with a lot of help from Ali who with Mitch made everything happen, as DC said the idea of grouping people by the date of attending their first National was brilliant and of course it made people mix and talk. This year with Ed’s help we changed a bit more from the ‘normal’ National: as DC mentioned instead of the teams staying with the leader all the time, we tried to move the teams around the leaders, probably harder for the team leaders but they needed the work! But it did mean most of the time the teams did stay together, which I believe might be the way forward. Another thing I changed was the format of the Health & Safety briefing. In the past WRG volunteers have had a H&S talk but the Blue shirts never seemed to have one. This year put paid to that, we held the mega H&S for all personnel Blue or Red Shirts all in one go; Ed and Nic Bennett (thanks Nic) gave an intro to lifting correctly and we covered all the topics as normal. Again I had brilliant Team leaders who I will hope, will be come camp leaders in the future, one of them is already down to assist my Xmas camp at the end of the year (at Xmas actually), I also heard that another might be assisting next year, on a camp. But remember Maria assisted her first camp back in 1995/1996. I must also mention the pre camp camp, we started on the 12 th August and slowly but surely got through some of the bitty jobs, so when everyone turned up a lot of jobs had been done, which then made the National almost a holiday with no rushing about at the last minute. We had a good laugh, but I must ask Barbara “is the house work all ok?” I must thank all of the Blue Shirts who we work with directly or indirectly - I could start naming them but there are so many. My last Thanks must be to all who turned up and worked either on site as WRG, or IWA, we are all a part of the same team, in producing a festival, which I would like to think, will be a success as an awareness to the waterways and on the money side. With a bit of luck our Irish counterparts will try and have a festival over there in the next couple of years and I for one will be going across to help as much as I can. Moose

The Blus Shirts sandwich crew

page 19


Diary

Canal Camps cost £42 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 0620') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Oct 21/22

wrgSW

Cotswold Canals

Oct 17 Tue

wrgNW

Ad Hoc meeting, 7.30pm: (provisional)

Oct 21/22

London WRG

Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project at Brewhurst Lock

Oct 21/22

wrgBITM

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Leader: Tony Hinsley

Oct 21-28

Camp 0620

Grantham Canal Camp

Oct 28 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Nov 1 Wed

Navvies

Press date for issue 220: and Canal Camps brochure

Nov 4/5

WRG

Bonfire Bash, Grantham Canal: WRG Reunion. Leaders: Mitch Gozna & Dave B

Nov 4/5

NWPG

Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project at Brewhurst Lock

Nov 4/5

KESCRG

Bonfire Bash at Grantham

Nov 4/5

wrgNW

Bonfire Bash at Grantham

Nov 4/5

London WRG

Bonfire Bash at Grantham

Nov 4/5

wrgSW

Bonfire Bash at Grantham

Nov 4/5

Essex WRG

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Heybridge Basin Bash. Clearing the off-side ba

Nov 4 Sat

WRG

Committee & Board Meetings: At the Bonfire Bash venue.

Nov 18/19

wrgBITM

Chichester Canal: Leader: Graham Hotham

Nov 18/19

London WRG

Wey & Arun Canal: Dig Deep project at Brewhurst Lock

Nov 18/19

wrgNW

Hollinwood Canal

Nov 18/19

FCC

Cromford Canal

Nov 18/19

Hollinwood CS Hollinwood Canal: John Howarth Centre, Daisy Nook Country Park 9:30am

Dec 2/3

KESCRG

Basingstoke Canal: Xmas Party with London WRG. Heavy scrub bashing from

Dec 2/3

wrgNW

Montgomery Canal: Llanymynech

Dec 2/3

London WRG

Basingstoke Canal: Xmas party dig with KESCRG. Bookings via KESCRG. Scr

Dec 2/3

wrgSW

Basingstoke Canal: Xmas work party with KESCRG & London WRG. Bookings

Dec 2/3

Essex WRG

Foxton Inclined Plane: Christmas Dinner and work party

Dec 9/10

wrgBITM

Grantham Canal: Xmas work party at Cropwell Bishop. Leader: Tony Hinsley

Dec 9 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Dec 16/17

NWPG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project on the Seven Locks flight. Bricklaying on chamber wall of Lock 4. Xmas Party and accommodation at Dev

Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 0621

Chesterfield Canal Christmas Camp. Leaders Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden and Pau

Dec 26-Jan 1 WBCT

Wilts & Berks Canal Christmas Camp at Foxham and Seven Locks. See page 6

Jan 1 Mon

Navvies

Press date for issue 221: including Canal Societies directory

Jan 6/7

wrgNW

Lichfield Canal

Jan 13/14

London WRG

Cromford Canal

Jan 13/14

KESCRG

To be arranged

Jan 20/21

wrgBITM

To be arranged

Feb 3/4

London WRG

To be arranged

page 20


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

Gavin Moor

07970-989245

gavin.moor@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Roger Evans

enquiries@wrg.org.uk David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Martin Ludgate

020-8693-3266

Bradford. See page 6 for details and book using the form on page 7

martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Gavin Moor

07970-989245

gavin.moor@wrg.org.uk

01702-544096

essex@wrg.org.uk

Mike Palmer

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Jean Helliwell

0161-681-3623

Jean Helliwell

0161-681-3623

hcs@hollinwoodcanal.co.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Gavin Moor

07970-989245

gavin.moor@wrg.org.uk

Dave Dobbin

01702-544096

essex@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

Centrally Booked

nk to provide moorings. Dave Dobbin

R.Wey to Lock 1.

ub bashing from R.Wey to Lock 1. via KESCRG.

vizes.

ul Shaw. See page 6 for details.

6 for details.

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Rachael Banyard

01249-892289

Martin Ludgate

020-8693-3266

martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

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Chairman’s Page

There is only one possible way to start this comment: Hoorah the Jubilee Junction is open! Not only that but it was finished with, oooh, hours to spare before the opening! I had joked that the Jubilee Junction would be nice 40th birthday present: I didn’t realise just how accurate that would be and just how wonderful cruising a brand new cut would be. Look closely at those pictures and standing on the front of the first boat is a soppy middle aged bloke with a tear or two in his eye. Because it felt really, really good and, just like the best things in life, we haven’t really begun to realise just how important it will be. I have been on quite a few Wilts & Berks jollies but at all the previous ones I kept hearing “Yes but what are you going to do about Abingdon?” Well they weren’t saying that on August 30th as it was very obvious what we were going to do! The Jubilee Junction really is a milestone in the W&B restoration. It would be a worthwhile project it in itself, but when you hear what the Local Authority officers from the other end of the canal were saying about Swindon then I think it will be viewed as one of the most important outlays of “moderately sized lumps of cash” in many years. A superb example of cash and volunteer effort working together to get the maximum contribution in terms of physical effort, political gain, profile and influence. Regular readers will know that about this time of year I start to make excuses about why the Canal Camps brochure won’t be in the next issue. Well not this time because IT IS ALREADY PRINTED! That’s not the whole story of course, but we have decided on one significant change: we now have a generic brochure that gives the more permanent information and hopefully does a pretty good sales job to those coming to WRG from the outside world. This has been printed in large numbers and will not change, certainly for a few years. We will also produce a simpler centre-pages style insert that gives the dates and project information for up and coming camps. This can be rewritten as things change and, because it will be simpler to produce, should enable us to produce more accurate information at less cost. So for all you Navvies readers we will only circulate the insert as hopefully you are all aware of the basic facts, or can find them on the website. (If you do want the full brochure, or know of someone who would like one, then please contact Head Office). So there you go – no more excuses about the Camps brochure, just excuses about the insert. No doubt you have been reading in the rest of the waterways press about the risks to the canals as a result of recent cuts in DEFRA grant-in-aid. It is indeed a serious situation but as an amusing aside I recently hosted some employees from that selfsame government department on a team-building day on a midlands canal project. (see p34)

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All was going well, with much enthusiasm and hard work, when we broke for lunch. I had to hide a wry smile as one of the civil servants cut the cake we had provided only to discover she hadn’t cut enough slices to go round! I resisted the impulse to suggest they should just shave 6% off all the slices so far. My thanks to Adrian, James and Kate and the Grantham lot for their help with a very successful day. Talking of Grantham, don’t forget the Bonfire Bash. It looks like our work may be even more significant than we thought, with BW having to tighten their belts as the DEFRA squeeze impacts. The work will not only include jungle bashing but also clearing and refurbishing a vital water supply feeder: essential for the success of next year’s Trailboat rally (which will also need our support - details next year). So book on now: your work may be more important than you think. Just to complete the “BW section” I went to a meeting of my local IWA branch to hear the BW Chairman speak. You will not be surprised that I can’t actually tell you what he said, but you may be surprised that this is because he said too many nice things about us and didn’t want it construed as official policy. Mind you – I’d be trying to make all the friends I could if I had just had that much cash lopped off my budget. The inevitable Health and Safety bit: hopefully you are aware of the WRG incident forms (aka Near Miss forms). These really do make a difference - several of the forms, and the suggestions that came with them, have resulted in us adding things to the kit and altering the way we ask people to do things, making our sites just a little safer. The forms have been slightly modified at the request of our insurers to give extra details that we both need to help prevent us saying “yes, I thought that would happen”. The new version is on the website and available from Head Office. Please fill in one of these forms whenever you think that an incident should be reported – not only actual incidents that have happened and can be prevented next time, but also where we got away with it but might not next time. By the time you read this we will have ordered replacements for a couple of our vans, and will actually have our newest fleet ever. This represents a considerable investment from our supporters – so do not take them for granted. RFB was bought new and, with a lot of care, has lasted us many years and will do many more. This will have to be the case for our new vans too. While we have been able to “splash out” this time this has drained the vehicles budget right down. If we don’t look after them then there will be no money to replace them. So take care of them. Regards, Mike Palmer PS I would like to thank everyone who joined me for my 40th birthday party at Beale Park and especially anyone who helped set it up. It was a wonderful surprise and I cannot think of a finer way to spend such a momentous event. I shall remember many bits; including coming third in a Mike Palmer lookalike competition, watching my trousers being auctioned off and playing Twister in the early hours but a really special mention must go to Mole – for possibly the most memorable and personal present I will ever receive.


Camp 15, Wilts & Berks Canal August 5-12: Jubilee Junction Part 2 What a fun camp it was too. This was supposed to be the 3rd but circumstances meant camp 2 had to be cancelled, so we were the second WRG camp on the Junction project at Abingdon. The project for the week was to carry on with the tow path laying and fence erecting that was so well started by Ed & Liz’s camp a few weeks earlier. I won’t go into too much detail about the Jubilee Junction project as I suspect it may be covered elsewhere. But I will say the local group doing all the organising did a great job. The camp was truly multinational affair, what with Alex from France (the man who thought spending his summer going from camp to camp would improve his English), Helen (the author of the A to Z below) who came from Spain, and Corinne who flew back from New Zealand just to play in the mud with us. We had a fantastic time: the towpath was put in, fence posts were erected and a ‘kissing gate’ set into concrete. I’d like to say a massive thank you to Helen ‘Bush’ for cooking lovely food for all of us, to my assistant Corinne for reminding me what I should be doing, and to everyone else for making my week leading the camp such fun.

Harry Watts

Harry Watts

Abingdon

First a Camp Report from the IWA Diamond Jubilee Project... As mentioned above, we thought the best way to give everyone else a flavour of the week that was canal camp 200615, a first time volunteer was persuaded to write an A to Z of the camp, so here it is...

A

is for Abingdon, where we were, and Archaeologist, of which we had one. He was on site most days to make sure we weren’t digging up anything important. (see Ologist)

B

is for Bonking, of which we did much, and Biceps, which swelled accordingly. We also suffered from various related problems: bonker’s palm, bonker’s back and bonker’s claw, a rare disorder which results in the sufferer being unable to stretch their fingers out due to prolonged and extreme bonking.

C D

is for Case. (see Valerie)

E

is for Early accounts, which Bush has threatened to deliver. Let’s see if it happens… Also for Excavator, of which we had a rather impressive 21-tonne example on site, driven by the lovely Tiggy.

F

is for Fishing lake, along which our new path ran, and which will soon disappear to make way for the new canal. For now it must be treated as sacred, however, with much scowling coming our way from the local fisherman. Although one did skulk over one day and ask to use our portaloo as theirs was blocked, so we can’t be all that bad.

G

is for Gravel island (see Ologist) and Gin Pimms, of which we consumed rather a lot at the Friday night barbecue. It seemed like such a good idea at the time… Blame it all on Jenny. Also for Grande Gratin d’Escargot, aka French cake, made by the lovely Alex with flour, marg, eggs and an entire bottle of rum. Kept us fuelled all day long when it was served at morning brewtime!

H

is for Harry, our illustrious leader, and “Have you phoned the punt man, Harry?” (see Punting)

Mick

Above: Bonking Below: installing the kissing gate

is for Dumper, and Martin (which doesn’t begin with a D, but never mind), who became rather an expert in the handling of the former.

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I J K L M

is for Isis (the old name for the Thames). is for John, the sexually frustrated Yorkshireboy. He came, he tried, he failed. is for Kissing gate. We installed one. Don’t think anyone tried it out though. (see John) is for Level, which the new path is, mainly. There may be a couple of ridges in there, but just treat them as speed bumps, there to prevent unlawful buggy racing. is for Martin, the local sex god. He’d spent months carefully planning the work and was on site every day checking that all was heading in the right direction (literally). He also drew rather a lot of female attention in the process. Must have been the ripped shorts and knee-high wellingtons…

N

is for Never ending sausages. Bush had ordered 40-odd from the local butcher and ended up with about 42, 000. We got through them in the end, though. Brave effort, team.

O

is for Ologist, the man qualified in so many things he must have been at university for about 300 years. He stalked over to us in the pub one night in his guise as archae-ologist and accused us of digging up important gravel banks, which we weren’t (see Archaeologist). He came on site the next day, sniffed and tutted a lot and left, only to find that the local yoof had stolen his bike. Yes, there is a God. Also for Oven door, which finally got fixed on about day 6 of the camp. Bush then proceeded to complain that she was burning everything, having got used to an oven that leaked 85 per cent of its heat. There’s no pleasing some.

Q

is for Quorn and mushroom pies, served to the two veggies on the camp, and for Quiet snoring. Not much sign of that, I have to say, as most of the snoring that did go on was loud enough to wake the dead. The free earplugs were much appreciated.

R

is for Rugby club, where we stayed, and its associated Rugby players, whose wonderfully short shorts and lithe moves on the pitch were much appreciated by the female contingent on the camp.

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T

is for Twister, as in the game, not the 90s disaster movie. Also for Twister’s thigh, a painful injury sustained through prolonged twisting. Can’t wait to see the photos…

U

is for Upton Cider Farm, where we went one evening to find out how traditional English cider is made. Fascinating. Especially when fuelled by the free tasters handed out before the tour. Never knew that cider mixed with ginger beer could be so tasty.

V

is for Valerie, aka Case, the Skid Steer Loader. Helen spent several days on the fabulous red machine and got rather fond of her, re-christening her Valerie in the process, which seemed an obvious choice given her registration number.

W

is for Wave machine, of which there allegedly was one at the local swimming baths, but which felt like little more than a powerful fart when we actually got into the water. The slide was great, though. As was the team synchronised swimming. Although the sight of several large grown-ups doing arabesques in the shallow end seemed to confound the neighbourhood’s kids.

X Y Z

is for Xtreme bonking. (see Bonking and related problems) oh why, oh why, oh why?? is for The Zutons, whose ‘Valerie’ song seemed to be on the radio every time we got into the minibus. Weird.

Chris

P

is for Punting. A hilarious evening spent on the river in Oxford, attempting to glide gracefully along in our three punts, which is quite hard when you lose your pole. Not mentioning any names, Harry.

S

is for Stolen bike (see Ologist) and Shuttering, which was put in, then taken out, then put in, then taken out for seemingly days till we finally got it right. Also for Solid management team: good work Harry, Corinne and Bush.

Punting: Camp Leader Harry learns an important lesson


*

Camp Nizzy( ): Wilts & Berks August 9-16 Jubilee Junction Part 3 The purpose of the week was to pick up where two previous camps had left off, getting the site ready for an official opening ceremony when the Wilts and Berks Canal would be linked with the Thames via the new Jubilee Junction. Over to Siobhan for a campers’ eye view of a week that was to be full of bonking, knobbing, laying, rolling, nailing and getting hammered. And I’m only talking about the fencing… Saturday 12th August 28 happy canal campers arrived at Watchfield Village hall ready for a fun-packed and fulfilled week ahead. (I hear a few of you gasp, but don’t worry - there were two camps running at the same time. The Jubilee Junction crew of 16 shared the hall with the Stepping Stone gang as there was a wedding reception being held at Abingdon Rugby Club, our ‘proper’ accommodation for the week.) After having the safety talk, introducing ourselves to everyone and eating a very nice dinner cooked by Harri T, everyone took a 10 minute stroll down to the local pub. As the evening went on we all enjoyed socializing, having a laugh with the locals and getting to know everyone. Some of the locals were very interested in the WRG camp and exactly what work was planned for us during the week; other locals were very willing to come and make sandwiches for the Jubilee Junction camp - but that sadly never happened. Sunday 13th August At 7.30 sharp 28 WRGies hurried through a cooked breakfast prepared by Mark, the Jubilee Junction Cook for the week. Sixteen of us then took off in the minibus to our new accommodation in Abingdon Rugby Club. Once settled into the accommodation we all prepared for the day ahead of us and got out the nice Yellow HI-Viz jackets and the WRG Hard hats. We strolled down to the site were our safety talk was held and our first day began. Various jobs needed doing such as putting in a metal gate at one end of the site which would allow the anglers to have access from the canal to the lake where they fish. There was bonking and nailing fencing to the footpath, and other very exciting jobs, with a variety of tools being used and everyone learning different skills.

Abingdon

...then another Camp Report from the final week of work... The weather changed from being rainy and cold in the morning with dark black clouds looming over us to lovely and sunny in the afternoon. At around 5.30 in the evening tired but smiley WRGies walked back to the accommodation and played Knockout Whist, read newspapers and slept while waiting for dinner to be served. Sunday’s evening entertainment consisted of all 16 of us walking down to our local pub and drinking, socializing and… oh yes I must not forget playing the happy slaps game, arm wrestling and telling jokes. Monday 14th August Today we only had ten WRGies on site as four of our group took off to help the Stepping Stones camp with their bricklaying. We finished off putting in the gate for the fishermen, kept on going with the fence panels and started new jobs such as covering the path by the kissing gate with road planings. Several volunteers were trained on different pieces of equipment such as the dumper and the skidsteer. During Monday evening we all decided to stay in the accommodation and play card games. As the night went on the noise level rose and the smiley faces grew wider and wider as several WRGies joined in the card games and spent the night drinking all different kinds of things brought from the off licence. As the clock struck 1.30 the last three smiling but tired WRGs stumbled into their warm sleeping bags ready for the next day ahead of them. Tuesday 15th August Breakfast was served at 8am so we all got a lie in. Even though we had a late night we were all sparkly and ready for another hard day’s work on site. Today there was a very nice warm sun beaming down on us as we used different tools to do various jobs such as boarding, bonking, nailing and laying.

*

Why was it “Camp Nizzy”? Simple: after a suitable quantity of drink had been consumed one evening, it was decided that camps should be identified by the leaders’ names run together into one word. So Nina and Izzy’s week is Camp Nizzy, Taz & Smudge’s is Camp Tudge, Becky and Mike would be leading Camp Bike, and... I guess we’d better not have any camps led by Fred and myself. ...the Editor

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This was the day Jonathan arrived on site. For those of you who were there, I don’t need to explain where he came from, for those that weren’t I’m afraid this is an in-joke and he shall remain a mystery. Suffice to say I’m not his biggest fan as he did no work, wouldn’t be in any photos and worst of all didn’t pay. ...Izzy This evening Mark the cook got a night off as we all tucked into Fish and Chips. Paul kindly drove us into Oxford and we all went punting. This was great fun as we had team pictures taken, beer being drunk, bashing into each others boats and (Guess what), one of our four boats dropped their punting pole and left it stuck in the mud. (What a laugh we had). Our boat, punted by Nina, had a tour of parts of Oxford and the colleges – and some very low trees and branches. Nina then took us on a grand tour through the back and side streets of Oxford to The Turf - a really old pub which had cobbled walls on the outside. The fun carried on going as we all managed to fit onto two round tables with a bit of a squash. The Jokes were not really travelling that well from one end of the table to the other but we still all had a very good laugh and an enjoyable night.

Wednesday evening entailed a trip to the Upton Cider Company, where we got to see how proper cider is made, and sample the amber nectar. After thoroughly quality testing the cider, quite a few of us bought some as a souvenir and then we returned to the accommodation for some more high-brow conversation and a debate over ‘tool of the day’ nominees. After much deliberation, the mattock won. Thursday 17th August The fencing and path-making continued, with progress being made on the gates as well. Rain stopped play at lunch time, and didn’t really improve. In the evening, the Stepping Stones gang joined us at the local pub, making four teams in the quiz. A team from each camp came joint second, narrowly beaten by a local team – suspicious? Definitely. A good time was had by all. Friday 18th August

Alan Lines

Fantastic progress once again, despite the weather and complications trying to work around two sets of contractors. A local BBC reporter arrived on site to interview Martin Buckland, Nina and Izzy (not sure if we ever got broadcast?) and we took the obligatory end of camp photos to celWednesday 16th August ebrate all we’d achieved. The week was finished off in fine style with an indoor We had a very nice barbecue of epic proportions, cooked breakfast at 8 and followed by the now legendary strolled down to site ready Baked Alaska. Rolo Vodka to start work at 9. The was consumed, prizes were Jokes still did not travel given out, and Jeremy and very well but this time there Rob were presented with their were jokes about being very own Stumpy. As the half asleep. We started evening progressed, it our days work in the beauseemed like a fantastic idea tiful sunshine. The jobs to play ‘Twister’ and then atranged from using the tempt skateboarding around ‘Monkey strainer’ to put up the table. Each participant wire meshing, to making was of course required to a path around the canal for wear the appropriate PPE – the fishermen. This was a pair of gloves and Mark’s great fun and needed comedy glasses which made strong muscles as we my vision even more blurry were filling the wheelbar“All our own work!” than after a whole bottle of rows with road planings. Pimms. Needless to say it wasn’t pretty. Some of the WRGies had a very exciting job which was putting up a new kissing gate at the far end As ever, we had a brilliant week and achieved as of site. This turned out to be a real laugh as they much as we possibly could have done, given the decided to be the punting team and make stripes difficulties with planning permission, weather and out of clay which they stuck on their faces. These contractors. Everyone worked really hard, and the looked really cool and there were pictures taken new volunteers deserve a special thanks for being so much fun and mucking in. Thanks also to our MUP’s, to show the results. Graham Fitt, Alan Lines, Paul Shaw, Nic Bennett and At this point, “Nizzy” will take over the story, as Cameron, and to Martin Buckland and the W&B Trust Siobhan left us to go and collect her A-level re- for their support and for being on site every day: it is sults (congratulations Siobhan on getting into always appreciated. We look forward to seeing all the volunteers again at the Bonfire Bash. DeMontfort University!)

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On 1 July 2005 an email arrives suggesting that there might be some serious cash waiting to fund a ‘significant canal project’. A bid is rapidly written and we are successful, hearing the result in November 2005. The grant is from the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee. Therefore an opening date of 30 August 2006 is set, being two days after the National Waterways Festival which is being held a few miles downstream at Beale Park near Pangbourne. A condition is that we raise an approximately equal amount from other funders so three more bids are written. WREN Landfill Tax agree to fund us and the Vale of White Horse provide the 11% matching funding. Aggregates Levy like the scheme but have no cash and are further cut when DEFRA merges them with English Nature to form Natural England. Thames Water also fund our various necessary surveys and reports. Significant volunteer value is also expected from the Waterway Recovery Group. Fourteen months later we open Britain’s newest canal, albeit only 150 yards of it. Twelve of those months have been spent filling five lever-arch files with documents, submissions, reports and calculations both physical and financial. The last two months have been spent getting up at an unseemly early hour (I am best at night) to be around with the three Waterway Recovery Group camps and later with Tiggy, the digger driver from White Horse Contractors. Work in February 2006 involved taking out trees and bushes before the nesting season and in June there has been some heavy scrub-bashing to help the expected WRGies out.

Abingdon

...and finally, Martin the local gives his version of events A couple more cliff-hangers: 18 WRGies waiting to go on 1 July and Planning Permission due on the Monday afternoon. Not too bad, but, because of the significant nature of the project the Plan goes to the Chair of Planning rather than the Officer delegation. A bit of a compliment but we don’t get the OK till Thursday afternoon; however we have managed to keep everyone occupied doing preparation work before starting on the towpath alongside the fishing lake. We discover that the Planning Permission has a condition which states we must do another water vole survey in case they have swum into our area from the other side of the Thames since the survey we did in November. Urgent call to the ecologist who carries out the survey two days later, (normally two weeks’ notice is considered polite) and the voles are still safely not in our patch. Then follow a couple of weeks with intensive Wilts & Berks Canal Trust East Vale work parties; mainly the retired four or five who can make it during the week. August arrives but the final contract with our funder WREN still needs some sorting out. Finally it is signed and it’s a phone call to White Horse Contractors, who are only three miles away, and it’s ‘Go!’ for them. A twenty-one tonne digger and a twelve tonne dumper arrive and the earth begins to move. The watching brief archaeologist also arrives to oversee what comes out of the ground. He gives a coffee-break talk to the WRGies about why they need to see what is under the grass and how it helps to build up a complete picture of the area. Where the winding hole is dug out a layer of peaty silt is found about eighteen inches down which turns out to be where the Thames was in the Sixteenth Century. At full canal depth another layer is found: this time there is no pottery to date it but it shows that the Thames has moved around the flood plain over the centuries. A goat bell and a small, as yet unidentified, token or coin are found together with the usual range of pottery. The presence of an ancient pond is also revealed. Taz’s mate with the aeroplane

Just in time – twice, at least. The story of Jubilee Junction at Abingdon

Then it’s WRGies week two and we get stuck into some serious wheelchair ramp building to get one metre up to the Peep-oDay Lane footpath over a length of 36 metres. “What? You need another 12 tonne load Aerial view of the new cut: compare it with Navvies 218 of poo?” (as WRGies call subsoil)

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Abingdon

How a field was turned into a canal in less than two months A lot more fencing, towpath excavation and filling with road planings and vibro-rolling afterwards. During these two camps around fifteen WRGies get their ‘tickets’ to drive various pieces of construction plant. BBC TV come and do some interviews in preparation for their coverage of the Grand Opening on 30 August. Radio Oxford also ask for an input into their breakfast programme. The third WRG party arrives finishing fences, hanging gates and laying more towpath. White Horse work proceeds apace and soon only a thin dam is left between the dry excavation and the Thames. The dewatering pump is turned off and as the water rises and a kingfisher moves in to view his new fishing ground. Proof, if ever it was needed, that canals attract wildlife. The pump is moved to a position where it can draw water from a lake (an abstraction licence from the Thames cannot be granted because of the drought), and the canal is filled in eight-and-a-half hours. Cain BioEngineering now arrives to install the water volefriendly soft banking. (I am taken to task for being a Luddite where mobile phones are concerned and so for the breakthrough I borrow a phone. I promptly fall in the Thames and write it off.)

There are now just seven days to go but we are all off to Beale Park for four days to do various things at the Festival, me to do a couple of presentations on how to dig a canal (oddly enough!) Now that the water is in we follow Tiggy around the site putting in the cattle fences along the boundaries. Tiggy offers to push our fence posts in; there are twenty seven of them. We lay out the posts in their exact positions. We are in place at 0730 the next morning and it takes us exactly 9 minutes to push all the posts in! (Normally a backbreaking day’s work for a team of four with a post bonker – as the WRGies will testify!) A splendid example of volunteers and contractors working together. It has also been demonstrated throughout the month that volunteers and contractors can operate successfully on the same site It is now Thursday and we have two working days to go. Another cattle fence and a post and rail fence go up in record time on Friday and I depart for Beale Park arriving at 19.30, just in time for the evening meal. The East Vale crew are still working and virtually all the essential work is completed. The six weeks contingency time has shrunk to twenty-four hours and we don’t intend working on the Tuesday. I resolve not to do anything on the Wednesday day of opening but late Tuesday BBC Radio Oxford ring and ask if I can do an 08.00 outside broadcast on site. (I did it in my pyjamas from home last time but the radio car is all lined up ready.)

Martin Ludgate

On Wednesday 23 August the levels in the cut and the Thames are equal and news of the breakthrough is e-mailed and phoned around the area.

BBC TV arrive for a second visit and Roy Murrell and I dig out the final few inches of soil separating the waters in the shadow of the twenty-one tonner and our own diminutive ‘Blue’ excavator driven by Bob Airey. After a symbolic handshake across the gap the diggers get stuck in, ‘Blue’ allowing Tiggy’s machine to take out the final few metres. He topsoils the site and at last the awful clay, so firm when dry but glutinous when wet, is covered over. A great pity that most of his superb work is now invisible underwater.

What the Jubilee Junction looked like during the site visit prior to the first Summer camp in July

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I duly turn up but the Thames has gone down six inches with all those boats coming back from the National and the control boat is sitting on the bottom. A Trust member sorts all that out and I do all the jobs that he was going to do. It’s now 10.15 and I have to go home, change, collect Janet, my wife, and be at Culham Lock at 11.00. I make it with 14 minutes to spare. From that point the real buzz begins which makes it all worth while. Peter Green, Mayor of Abingdon and Bill Hawks, Deputy Chairman of Sutton Courtenay Parish Council go aboard narrowboat Jubilee and we arrive at the Junction to meet a great gathering of boats large and small, standing-off in the Thames around the entrance. John Salter of Salter’s Steamers has very generously provided one of his passenger boats to run a free trip from Abingdon Bridge and it is well loaded with onlookers. Warning hoots are given and the barbed wire barrier is cut down as we cross the river and is rapidly hauled onto the bank. We process majestically along the cut towards the gold ribbon and are about to glide through and do the dual cutting when a shout from the press on the bank asks us to do a re-run for the cameras. The Environment Agency executive launch ‘Windrush’ becomes understandably confused as we suddenly reverse. The second take goes like clockwork and the ribbon is cut on the count of three by the two councillors. Mike Palmer and I are greatly moved to see seventeen WRGies who had worked on the project, lining the bank in red, having made the trip from Beale Park where they were extremely busy taking down the Festival. It is also an excellent publicity moment for volunteer input.

The next couple of hours are spent eating the excellent spread and talking to our invited guests. Nearly one hundred have turned up, with some notable appearances by leaders of councils, other statutory bodies and our local MP, Evan Harris, former shadow Health Minister and Science Committee member. These are the people to whom we needed to demonstrate that the terms volunteer and amateur do not mean an inability to deliver high quality strategic projects. Not only are we ‘just in time’ but ‘fast track’ and ‘on budget’ to quote two other management-speak terms. My thanks to all those who helped in the planning, bidding, negotiating some sticky moments, and not least building what was described as “A small step for the Thames but a huge step for the Wilts & Berks”. Finally three comments which reflect the impact we have made. From Bob Allen, our farmer landlord: “Two years ago I thought this was all pie in the sky” and from his brother David, a former civil engineer, “I never thought you would do it!” (Neither apparently did lots of boaters who saw the state of progress on their way down to Beale Park.) Neil Rumbold, founder of the Wilts & Berks Amenity Group sent an e-mail in which he said: “What was achieved yesterday was of inestimable significance in furthering the ultimate success of the Trust’s goal.” Martin Buckland

Ian Williamson

James Openshaw, who had been asked to steer Jubilee at the very last minute then makes an excellent turn in the winding hole and we come out passing the rest of the flotilla coming in.

At the Rugby Club we are welcomed by the music of the ‘Keepers Lock’ canal folk duo, Suzie and John. A stunning display of the work and achievements of the Trust has been prepared by Jan Flanagan and her team. The centrepiece is an aerial shot taken on Saturday by a friend of WRGie Taz, emailed to me Tuesday morning, forwarded to John Minns who that night produced the tenth of a series of large posters which he delivered that morning. Another ‘just in time’ to demonstrate how the members can rise to a challenge.

The same view less than two months later at the official opening on August 30th

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Progress

Restoration work on the Sankey Canal...

Sankey Canal Sankey Canal Restoration Society organises regular work parties to promote restoration of the Sankey Canal. During the past couple of months a small group of volunteers have been working at Bewsey Lock in Warrington and the following reports and pictures will give an idea of what we got up to. Sunday 11th June 2006: Bewsey Lock Overflow

Our project for the day was to clear away the vegetation that had accumulated on the lip of the overflow and underneath the deck of the footbridge that crosses over the top. Throughout the day seven volunteers braved the hot sunshine to attach the stinging nettles and brambles that now grew in abundance where the waters of the canal had once flowed. Once the vegetation had been cut down and raked off, the layer of earth it was growing in could be removed; this revealed the large sandstone blocks and made it easier to get under the footbridge so that the paving slabs of the spillway could be cleaned up. To finish off the clearance the centre arch tunnel was cleared of an accumulation of soil and rotted vegetation, then the rest of the site was tidied of litter. Sunday 2nd July 2006: Bewsey Lock Overflow ItÂ’s back to the overflow and our project today is to clear the over hanging trees that are now hiding the by-wash channel. If one takes the trouble to look on the other side of the footbridge that crosses the overflow you will see a stone lined channel about 10 feet wide and around 100 metres long running parallel to the canal bed. At the northern end there used to be a sluice gate that could be opened to draw off any excess water from the canal; at the southern end the channel emptied its contents back into the canal below Bewsey Lock, and it also collected the water that had passed over the overflow. When all the equipment was unloaded and Bewsey Lock bywash before and after the work parties carried to the site work began. Even at this early hour in the morning the temperature was rising to the mid seventies, but down in the by-wash channel in the shade of the trees it was cool. The plan was to cut back any over hanging branches and to arrange them along the opposite bank to form a natural habitat for wild life. Although we were few in number it soon became obvious that chopping down trees was something that this gang of volunteers enjoyed and with advice from Steve Meays (Ranger) we actually got the chance to cut down a big tree that was growing out of the channel wall - this was achieved with some style and a big splash. About thirty metres of the channel were cleared in the area stretching from where the channel empties back into the canal to just beyond the overflow. All the litter and other debris that had accumulated in the channel was cleared and by mid afternoon we reluctantly decided to pack the tools away and call it a day. See the pictures to see what was achieved. If you would like to join us on our next work party at this site then contact Colin Greenall at Colin.Greenall@btopenworld.com orTel: 01744 731746 (evenings) or 01744 732031 (daytime).

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Progress

Sussex Ouse

The latest news from Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust is that, having drained the Isfield Lock chamber, a hired-in excavator and dumper have started to clear the accumulated silt and debris from the lock tail to establish the true depth of the invert. We have now exposed the brick lining of the invert below the bottom gate position and in doing so have discovered two original fend off posts positioned to protect the ends of the return walls, still quite unrotted after some 200 years. Additionally, as the silt has dried out and shrunk in the chamber, the top of the bottom portion of a lower gate has broken through the surface to reveal its half open position as shown in a photo of 1906. We have taken photographs of this together with accurate archaeological drawings so that new gates to be constructed in the future can be historically correct.

...as well as the Sussex Ouse, Gipping, Lapal, MB&B...

We have now completed the construction of an access ramp into the chamber thanks to the donation on loan of a 3 tonne digger by a Trust member. We have also acquired a 20' steel container and taken this to site to store tools and equipment. From a slow start the site is now looking very active and we are receiving more interest in our work from passing walkers. From information supplied by Paul Morris, Sussex Ouse Project Manager River Gipping (Stowmarket Navigation) Ipswich Branch IWA have been awarded the Association of Industrial Archaeology Dorothea Award for the work that we have done at Creeting Lock. The award consists of a cheque for ÂŁ500 & a plaque. The cash will be useful when we finally get land drainage consent to start on our next project, the restoration of Baylham Lock, the granting of which is held up by an ownership dispute between the E.A. & the land owner. Meantime our thanks to WRG, London WRG, Essex WRG & Newbury Working Party Group for their assistance with our completed project at Creeting Lock. Colin Turner Ipswich IWA Work Party Organiser Lapal Canal The Lapal Canal Trust, created to restore the derelict half of the Dudley No.2 Canal in the West Midlands, eagerly awaits its first full restoration project in Selly Oak, Birmingham. Sainsburys, being one of several major stake-holders in the extensive development of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital site, has final-stage plans for a new store alongside the former alignment of the canal and its junction with the Worcester & Birmingham canal. The landscaping which will give this site its architectural attraction includes the restoration of the former wharf section adjoining the Battery Park trading site. Meanwhile, the Trust has also acquired substantial funds to commission from WS Atkins a full Feasibility Study for the entire Lapal restoration project. This consultancy is expected to deliver its principal findings to the Trust by Christmas 2006 and their full Report should be available for wider dissemination by Easter 2007. Dr Peter Best Chairman: Lapal Canal Trust. Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal As the eagle-eyed will have noticed in the last issue, the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society is back in the business of working parties. WRG North West were due to spend the weekend of 7-8 October working at Nob End where the Bury and Bolton branches of the canal meet, clearing trees and vegetation from the towpath. This is to show that someone is actually doing something, and has been timed to coincide with the start of work by contractors on the restoration of a length of canal in Salford as the centrepiece of the Middlewood urban regeneration scheme. For anyone wanting to work on the canal, the contact for the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society is Paul Hindle, Meadowbank, Ringley Road, Radcliffe, Manchester, M26 1FW, Tel: 0161-723-1433 or see website www.mbbcs.org.uk

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Progress

...not to mention the Mont and the Grand Union Wendover Arm...

Montgomery Canal The Shropshire Union Canal Society moved their Montgomery Canal workparties to a new site as from 5th August. Following the successful completion of the Newhouse Lock restoration, which was opened by Lembit Opik M.P. on 25th June, the Society have moved out of Wales to start work in England at Crickheath Wharf.

Newhouse lock restoration was something of milepost in the saga of the Montgomery Restoration as it is the final Lock on the BW length of the canal needing to be put into working order. The object of the current exercise is to get the northern wharf restored and in water in time to provide a turning point for boats using the Gronwen to Redwith length. Restoration and rewatering of this length is shortly to be started by British Waterways now that funding has been obtained by BW, and agreement reached with the Nature Conservation bodies about protection of the endangered species present in the area. Once the northern wharf has been restored the Society intend to move south through Bridge 85 and restore the southern Crickheath Wharf as a prelude to the restoration and rewatering of the remaining dry section between Crickheath and Llanymynech. Workparties will normally take place on the first weekend of each month except December, January and February. Project manager is Mike Friend who should be contacted on 01948 880723 to confirm details of each workparty for anyone wishing to take part. Richard Hall Wendover Arm Lining and mooring: at last we have plugged the leak in the NuttallÂ’s bund at Drayton Beauchamp although it took a solid block of concrete to seal the end of the stone filled gabions that were causing all the trouble because there was no watertight seal installed when the bund was constructed. What is aggravating about this problem is that has taken 18 days of work parties to resolve, time that could have been better spent on true restoration work. During the August working week (nine days!) work was able to proceed on the first length of lining. This was highly successful in that we at last can see a method of lining that is practical and associated with a straightforward method of working. The main constrictions on our working are (a) After capping the pipe trench, tipping is required on the offside and must be left to settle for at least six months before lining and (b) Wet weather precludes working on the bed of the canal, as it becomes a mud bath if churned up by plant. Finally, a word of thanks to Anthony Tidey of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and Phil Cardy, Mark Gribble, Dave Wedd and Stella Wentworth of BITM who joined us for part or all of our nine day work party as well as to our own volunteers out in force as usual. Footbridge 4: The last six steps have been fixed but the deck boards still have to be fixed in position. This was scheduled for the September work party. The timber handrails of the footbridge have many splits and gaps with sharp edges that still require attention as well as trimming the end of all rails. The steel stop plank grooves for the east end of the channel have been delivered and will be installed with the blinding for the walls and be fully cast in as the bases and walls are cast. This work has had to take second priority to the work at Drayton Beauchamp. Footbridge 4A: As for Footbridge 4, the last six steps have been fixed but the deck boards still have to be fixed in position and the timber handrails of the footbridge have many splits and gaps with sharp edges that still require attention as well as trimming the end of all rails. The bases have been cast for the offside wing walls and most of the blinding completed for one of the towpath side wing walls. It is hoped to continue this work at the September work party but this will depend on the number of volunteers available. There will be a formal opening of both footbridges on Saturday 21st October 2006 and it is hoped that as many volunteers as possible will attend. The address of the Trust Restoration web site that is linked to the main Trust site is http:// wendovercanal.org.uk/ Future Trust working parties are planned on Friday 6th to Monday 9th October and Friday 3rd to Monday 6th November. For details contact Roger Leishman, Restoration Director, Tel:01442 874536, e-mail rleishman@ukgateway.net.

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Wey & Arun Canal Further progress on road crossing at Wey & Arun Canal The High Street in Loxwood has formed a major barrier to the Canal ever since the hump back road bridge was removed in the early part of last century. In order to regain continuity for the Canal a substantial project is being undertaken by the Trust which falls into three phases:

Progress

...and finally, the Wey & Arun Canal

Phase 1 – construct a new lock on the west side of the road to receive a lowered pound. This has been built by volunteers in one year and is almost complete. Phase 2A – lower the exiting Brewhurst Lock on the East side of the road by 1.7 m to receive the other end of the lowered pound. Phase 2B – excavate the bed of the Canal between the road and Brewhurst Lock by 1.7m to form the new pound Phase 3 – construct a new road bridge at the existing road level and link the two ends of the Canal. Phases 2A and 2B are well underway and have been greatly assisted by three Canal Camps during the hottest July on record. Teams from NWPG, KESCRG and WACT have laboured long and hard to undertake the lowering and extending of Brewhurst Lock. This has involved demolition, excavation, concreting foundations and building precast block facing walls which will be backfilled with mass concrete to form the walls to the new upper cill area. The existing ground paddle sluices have been extended and new concrete coping slabs have been cast Much remains to be done but visiting teams from Dig Deep will continue with the good work at weekends through the autumn. Do come and join us if you are interested in this type of project (the Trust office is contactable on 01403 752403 mornings only). The major excavation work is being undertaken by contractors who have commenced stripping the topsoil on a field adjacent to the Canal. The levels in this field will then be raised by up to 1 m with spoil from the excavation, the topsoil replaced, and land drains laid. Revetment works to some of the banks will follow in order to provide moorings alongside the Onslow Arms pub Completion of this project will be a milestone for the Wey & Arun Canal Trust in its efforts to link the Rivers Wey at Shalford to the Arun at Pallingham and will be a tribute to the tenacity and hard work of many Trust volunteers. Graham Baird

Moonscape? No, the tip-site for the material excavated from deepening the canal at Loxwood. And yes, the tiny speck in the distance is a rather large excavator!

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Dig Report

So, off we went to site, grabbed some tools and scrub-bashed our way into where we left the Bonfire Bash two years ago. By 1:00pm we had done just over an hour’s work so of course it was time for lunch. Locally sourced food had been promised by Mike for the Defra people and the food was indeed originally locally sourced - from Warwickshire!

...from the ‘Defra Dig’ on the Grantham Canal A rather unusual work party took place recently. Martin Day of Grantham Canal restoration Society explains... Defra, the government department that deals with the environment, rural services and schooling etc. work at two locations: London and York. The two groups talk to each other but rarely meet. But periodically they have a ‘team building session’, and as they wanted to do something constructive they got in touch with WRG who suggested a place half way - The Grantham Canal. They wanted to do some clearance work and we had the paperwork ready for just the site at Oddhouse Farm. The canal bed at this point varies between wet and dry so is the perfect place for willows to thrive thus the bed was full of them. I could see the look in the Defra folks’ eyes as they slid down the bank into the reeds (of course after the full safety talk given by Mike Palmer.) thinking ‘What the heck have we let ourselves in for’ but as they started to cut [“OK, we’ll have £10m off BW” ...Ed] and saw they got into the swing and clearance began... A couple of the WRG volunteers now take up the story... After some frantic last minute setting up the previous day we all left our homes at 7:30am. By 9:30am we (James and Kate) had arrived at the accommodation and by 10:30am MKP and Adrian had arrived too. The accommodation is also to be home for those on the October Camp but we were not staying that long. Mike and Adrian went off to find the site whilst we waited for the rest of the campers. The campers were employees of Defra on a days jolly! One car load coming south from York arrived in their big shiny Chrysler just a little late, but the other 22 coming from London were only just on their way after having some ‘coach issues’ – more on that later.

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What was lunch time for us was rest time for the London coach driver. He had run out of hours on his tacho, so they were taking a tea break on the M1 somewhere. “They will be along later - promise.” We decided to get the cake out, this was cut with precision by Adrian: ‘not a slice too small, not a slice too big!’ Just as we finished the cake Mike’s phone rang and it was the London lot to say that they had arrived at the accommodation (only an extra 100% travelling time…). So off went James to escort them to site – minibus SAD was dwarfed by the fifty-two seater coach following along the twisty country lanes to site. A site safety talk for the London lot and then they had lunch (but according to spectators their cake was not as well cut as the one earlier!) Then at about 3:00pm they emerged onto site. Unfortunately both the London lot and the York lot could only stay until just after 4:00pm but in the short period that we were on site a lot was still achieved. We hope the London lot’s driver had enough hours left on his tacho to get them home... The four WRGies packed up the trailer and food then headed off to do some site visits for the Bonfire Bash: it is going to be a good year so go on and book on - you know you want to! We got back to where we had left SAD and the trailer at 6:45pm and from here we all went home. So, that is the story of a whole canal camp in one day - it was a good laugh and if any of the DEFRA lot want to come on a camp they would be very welcome! Thanks MKP and Adrian for a great day out. James (ex Postie) Butler and Kate Penn

Defra learn about cuts of a different kind


From John Fletcher to everyone at Beale Park: Friends I have just got home from the festival, and like most of you, I suspect, I’m feeling a tad tired tired but happy. I’m not sure how we will have done financially, and while that has to be important, as I look back the important thing right now is that it was such a happy festival. In spirit alone it really was a festival worthy of our Diamond Jubilee.

Letters

The National, 750ft headroom, and the need for pure water...

From a personal point of view I was slightly dreading it. In fact I could not have enjoyed it more. A very personal thank you to all of you for all your efforts - but especially for all those smiling faces! John C Fletcher National Chairman, The Inland Waterways Association Dear Martin, As I ripped open the familiar A5 envelope, “oooh” I exclaimed as the full colour cover slipped out into my grubby mitts. As I chortled my way through the pages, I was however, brought up short when reading reading Bill Nicholson’s more seriously honed report on the wonderful work of Dig Deep. I have to confess I must have missed reading something in a previous issue as Bill described the work going on the Lichfield Canal. My mind raced feverishly as I tried tor recall, had their been some EU directive? Was this some aspect of the French Freycinet system that had been surreptitiously imported to our green and pleasant land? As I read and reread his words “..moving on to the repair of the chamber walls of Lock 24. This will essentially be a part rebuild as it is likely that the level of the canal will be dropped to enable passage under Cricketers Lane about 250 yards above it..” I mean, surely 750 feet air-draft is rather a tad generous around these parts, or is there some secret plan afoot? I think we ought to be told, don’t you? Jeremy G Frankel ex-London WRG, Berkeley, California, USA Dear Martin Two questions for your alert fellow navvies... (1) On the present summer advert for ‘Ocean Finance’ we see a man trying to cut his lawn and the mower burns out. Suddenly he has taken out a never-ending loan and amongst the family’s many purchases we see him driving a ride-on lawn mower. But wait! What is the canal bridge seen in the background? Did he get a loan to buy that [Perhaps he got a bridging loan? ...Ed] and if so how long will he be paying for it? Which canal is it? Surely someone will know. (2) A technical question now. British Waterways insist that any concrete, cement or mortar mixed for use on the canal (or the Grantham anyway) is mixed using tap water only, no canal or stream water. The reason, they say, is because in ‘ordinary water’ there are traces of mud whether filtered or not which coats the particles of the mixture thus making the product weak causing it to fail within two years. My question is. Where did the original builders in 1796 get tap water from to make the mortar etc? Or did they use Evian bottled water flown in? If they cheated and used stream water they must have had some secret additive to make their structures last for two hundred years or am I being silly. Take for example the culvert that the ‘Bonfire Bash’ will, hopefully, be working on in November a lot of it runs through a single brick thick culvert for a large part of its journey. In one field the farmer has two pipes waiting to be inserted so he can drive his tractor over it. The cows have, and for many years, walked over the bare single bricks covering the rushing water beneath, only for us to be told that we must, of course, bring our own water to make mortar and not use the pure drinkable water gushing through. Totally confused Martin Day Can anyone help with either of Martin Day’s queries? I can’t help thinking that if Ocean Finance provide loans for canals, BW might like to hear from them right now. And on the subject of the need (or otherwise) for tap-water for mortar and concrete I would welcome advice from any engineers reading this, but wonder if there might be a bit of what I believe is technically known as arse-covering going on. ...Ed

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WRG BC

The latest news from WRG’s own boat club WRG Boat Club news The National Festival at Beale Park was a successful event for the boat club. A number of members were moored together and others were moored in the lake or elsewhere. The clubhouse was soon erected and later an annexe added. A few club burgees* were used for decoration along with some suitably adapted bits of red bunting. Then our new banner arrived! Very smart, many thanks to Wilsons of Kinver and Sue for their donations so that we got it at no expense to the club. The clubhouse was constantly in use during the day and evening, kind members lent some of those useful solar powered markers so it wasn’t a trip hazard after dark. The AGM was held in the club house, we couldn’t use the theatre as there was a performance going on at the time we would want it; the ‘Quiet Bar’ was very busy and we wouldn’t have been able to get enough room for us; we wouldn’t have been able to hold a relatively private meeting nor bring our own ‘hospitality’. It was a shame as most of the members having WRG supper were unable to get along to the AGM: it was a bit of a distance to come and pitch dark by then, though we had arranged to have it late so supper partakers would be able to come! All a bit ‘Catch 22’. The meeting was attended by at least 20 members; there was probably a multitude that I couldn’t see because of the darkness. Sadly I also missed the hand-waving for attention as hordes volunteered for various tasks or to take one of the executing positions in the club. The lack of light also prevented members from seeing the vast amount of information on the club noticeboard. Countless member have sent in photos of boats ‘flying the flag’ in interesting locations. Both pictures were ignored because of the darkness.

organisations, people and places. It won’t be the same without her help, her information and reports from meetings, all done in her inimitable style. We all wish her well: she knows that she hasn’t escaped and she will be flying the club burgee from her lilo in the swimming pool (while we freeze in ice and snow here no doubt). The Commode Door had sent a written report saying, amongst other things, how well things have gone for the club this year, and thanking Claire for all her help in the past. The Treasurer reported that we have money! So it was decided that it would be better put to use on restoration projects than in our bank account. It was agreed to give £300 Wilts & Berks and the same to Cotswold Canals Trust. Since the club was formed we have given over £2000 to various projects. See - we are good for something after all! Ann and I went to the stands of the two recipients and were very well received, they both took lots of photos of Ann handing over the cheques and want to put something in their magazines about us. I was too busy taking photos to be in any - a cunning plan, you must agree! Here is a list of AWCC meetings that we need to be represented at-

. . .

Region AGM on March 10th at Wolverhampton BC. (I can do that one) October 21 Coventry CC. (Volunteer needed) January 13 Soar BC. I think Lynne can do that one.

There will also be the National AGM which I don’t have details for yet. We are still travelling with Lynx so I haven’t got up-to-date with my mail. PLEASE NOTE I haven’t been able to pick up my email since 10th August and it appears to be beyond the capabilities of Vodafone engineers to fix it. If you send me anything I can’t read it. I don’t know if I can send things. If I can’t you wont get to read this! All very disheartening. [I think we can assume that as this made it into the pages of Navvies, she must have been able to send it. ...Ed]

The usual AGM business was carried out.

*The burgees were soon sold off to members. The unlucky ones that failed to get new ones need to contact Lynne (01159653085). The new ones do not fade like the old ones did - I’ve been testing mine.

The worst news was of Claire’s move to Crete. She will be missed very much. I will be hard pressed to cope without her vast knowledge of

More next time when I should know that my emails arrive. xxx Sadie Dean

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KESCRG News Summer Camp: It all seems a long time ago, but time is something I don’t seem to have had since. There is a full report elsewhere in this issue but I wanted to add a few words of my own too, if I can remember what happened... One thing I am sure of: we got a lot of training done, Rowena must have succeeded in passing enough categories to fill up a whole driver authorisation card! A big thank you to Purple Steve who ably assisted me once more, and also to Dr Liz for organizing the fab catering for the week. Graham had all the preparation in place and in spite of the extreme heat the team completed a huge amount of work to progress the re-restoration of Brewhurst Lock. It has since been on TV and the stretch back to the Onslow Arms has been dredged to its new level. After much breaking out of the obsolete lock walls and fresh MKII coping, the casting of blocks by team Loz and laying by team Phill, the site did look quite different. I very much look forward to seeing boats going through this lock, under the bridge and up Loxwood lock by the end of next year!

Navvies news WRG SW are really pushing the boat out!

Bhaji Success: Many, many thanks to all those who helped make this such a success again at Beale Park; the spiritual home of the Viv and Ian Bhaji. We made over £2000 during the weekend to fund KESCRG’s activities for the year ahead: a truly fine effort. Thanks also to all those people who took the time to come and find us. Finally thank you to Al for the idea, Richard Cool for the artwork and Bob and Leonie for driving our publicity all Sunday and Monday - it worked a treat! We’ll be back next year again at Wendover and at St Ives - do come and see us!

W&B Weekend: Well we all made it to one place after much shuffling around wedding dates, And speaking of next year: we will be running changing of halls (once) and work sites (twice), another camp on another canal (W&A can’t af- yes we managed to be working on the Foxham ford us and contractors at the same time) as part pound and commuting from Lyneham! This weekof the WRG seasonal tour, but starring a new lead- end we were mostly slashing and burning between ership team in MKII and Kate Penn, with me (hope- the towpath and the water’s (mud) edge of the cut. fully) as unneeded backup on site. We look for- Unfortunately due to a leaking level control weir as ward to seeing the whole crew back again then well as the dry summer this section needed a and at other events during the coming year. Don’t proper haircut, so with 2 brush cutters, a petrol hedge trimmer and numerous hand tools we set forget everyone is welcome on our weekends out the bash the bush back unWRG South West give away a brand new boat! der control, with the able help of the experienced aussie Eric to We have been going as a group now for about 2 years and we boot! The only real snag was that are currently raising money to purchase a kit trailer for all our it was hotter than the National tools. The kind people at BARRUS, one of the largest exhibitors at weekend. We made much the National Festival, have generously donated an amazing prize of progress and we were admiraa Quicksilver Airdeck 270 Inflatable Boat - see photo below -for bly fed by Eli - many thanks us to raffle as a 1st prize. (2nd Prize - 6 bottles of wine). PS We also had the tricky chalIn this Navvies lenge of rescuing the dumper you will see an from the forebay of lock 3 (of 7) additional form which some kind souls had about this with pushed there off the clay bund. the opportunity Quite a challenge with a number to purchase of strops not up to the job! raffle tickets for AGM Hot news: KESCRG has only £2 each. a new Vice Chairman and 30th Please help us Anniversary planner... Viv to reach our Watson! Thank you very much target of a new for volunteering with such eatrailer by supgerness and energy. Watch this porting this rafspace as plans develop for a fle. year of celebration culminating Your support is in a mega bonfire party Nov much appreci2007! ated. Ian Williamson

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Navvies news

Anunusualmemorial,andanother auction of waterways books In memory... In December 2004 WRG Forestry Team went to the Cromford canal and started a now traditional winter process of removing and logging the large trees in the canal bed at Ironville. The logs being produced were stacked and taken away by the locals for winter fuel etc. One log, though, had a special destiny as I had long wanted a small log to make into a Tyrolean water feature. We had never quite got round to acquiring one – the lack of a chain saw perhaps playing a part in this. (Parting with money to get one was never really an option!) At the end of a heavy day of tree felling and logging Dave ‘Tenko’ Johnson was approached to ‘make my dream come true’! Tenko had been tree felling and logging I had been to work and just come to have a look! Despite being shattered and ready for the off, and not knowing me from Adam, he willingly helped me select a log and cut it to the desired proportions sawing incisions so that the inner portion could be chiselled out.

Time moved on and Tenko was taken ill and we heard that he had, sadly, died. We had not at this stage developed the log into anything more than the state he had left it in – now was the time to action! However, by now, the garden had a pond and the desired water feature was not required. Reverting to our original Tyrolean idea we turned the log into an alpine planter having done the required chiselling and fixing of leg supports. The plants have thrived and the planter cheers up a concrete patio. I hope Tenko would be pleased with our efforts, his willingness to undertake a frivolous task at the end of a long hard day has never been forgotten by us and we are very grateful. This spirit is the spirit of WRG and a little piece of Tenko now lives on in our garden. Sue Johnson

The Tenko memorial planter

Book Auction

We have been given a number of books from members of the Stover Canal Society to sell for fundraising. If they can be auctioned through Navvies then we propose splitting the proceeds between WRG and Stover. The prices given are the reserves and are VERY low: bids should be no less than this amount, and should be made in multiples of 50p. The highest bid gets the book - or in the case of two equal highest, the first one received wins. Please send your bids to Rachael Banyard, 5 Canal Cottages, Dauntsey Lock, Chippenham SN15 4HD or by email to the editor, with Book Auction as the subject. Inland Waterways of Europe (hardback) Roger Calvert 1975 £2 British Canals: an illustrated history (paperback) Charles Hadfield 1974 £2 Bradshaw’s Canals & Navigable Rivers of England and Wales Henry de Salis 1969 £2 Waterways Postcards 1900-1930 (paperback) Hugh McKnight 1983 £2 Waterways Heritage (paperback) Peter Smith 1975 £1 Craft of the Inland Waterways (paperback) D.J.Smith 1987 £1 Narrow Boat Painting (hardback) A.J.Lewery 1991 £2 Observer’s Canals (hardback) John Gagg 1988 £1 Pleasure and Leisure Boating (A Practical Handbook) Sydney Crossley 1899 £2 The New Narrow Boat Builder’s Book (paperbacki) Graham Booth/Andy Burnett £1.50 Canal and River Cruising (The IWA Manual) Shiela Davenport 1990 £1 The Navigators (paperback) Anthony Burton 1977 £1 Inland Cruising (hardback) Tom Willis 1987 £1.50 Historic Waterways Scenes - The Trent and Mersey Canal Peter Lead 1993 £2

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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

Online Navvies subscriptions Don’t forget: You can now take out or renew Navvies subs online at www.waterways.org.uk/restoration/index.htm or at www.iwashop.com/ ecommerce/products.asp?cat=126

Congratulations ...to Dan Evans and Emma on getting married ...To Paul ‘Mole’ Cattermole and Pamela Giles on the arrival of Katherine, 8lb 5oz, on August 15th ...to Mark Scoble and Emma Luddington on their engagement

Bon Voyage ...to Sally Nutt who has departed for the Antipodes for the next four years or so. As a token of their appreciation London WRG have named their newly-acquired sack-trolley after her. Presumably so they can label it: ‘SAck troLLeY’...

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 magaManchester M21 9FZ zines provided that the Printing and assembly: source is acknowledged. John & Tess Hawkins WRG may not agree with 4 Links Way, Croxley Grn opinions expressed in this Rickmansworth, Herts magazine, but encourages WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 publication as a matter of injohn.hawkins@wrg.org.uk terest. Editor : Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Road East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266

Noticeboard Moving house

Gilly Macey has moved to 1 Claybrook Road Hammersmith London W6 8LN Liz Wilson has moved to 12 Dyson Close Huntingdon PE29 6GQ If you move house, don’t forget to tell Navvies to change your subscription details.

Navvies Directory update

Phil Sharpe has resigned as work party organiser for the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. New contact details will appear in the next issue. The Dorset & Somerset Canal Study Group is now the Dorset & Somerset Canal Society and has a new email contact: derrick.hunt@tesco.net Website addresses for several canal societies were out of date in the directory in issue 218. The correct URLs are: Somerset Coal Canal Society: http://rtjhomepages.users.btopenworld.com/SCC2.html. River Stour Trust: www.riverstourtrust.org Stratford-on-Avon Canal Society: www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk Surrey & Hants Canal Society: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk/society.htm Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust: www.sxouse.org.uk Wooden Canal Boat Society: www.wcbs.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).

Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, 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 © 2006 WRG Tel : 01923 711114 Registered no 4305322 ISSN 0953-6655

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Infill

What’s happening on the W&A?

Spit it out, Moose! I am indebted to Bruce Napier for sending in the following photograph of a boat that he saw moored up on the Grand Union Canal:

Bruce comments: “I know Mr Hearnden (a) is quite large, and (b) has been known to dribble on occasions. But an entire wide-boat to move it around?”

This pic was sent in by Sally Schupke of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust. Captions to the editor please!

Thank you....

Found at the National:

...to David Mack for bringing us the startling (if very welcome to old-timers from WRG NW) news that there is a shop in Hebden Bridge that now sells Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls flavour ice cream.

One pair hair-straighteners modified for 415v AC three-phase operation. Would the owner please email Bungle on bungle@wrg.org.uk with his or her address.

An intriguing photo from the Netherlands. What’s going on? Have the Dutch decided that the canals are a more environmentally-friendly place to hold Grand Prix races? Or is it their idea of an integrated transport policy? Might something similar be a way of providing some of BW’s shortfall of funding? Or is it just a sign of the sort of people who will be able to afford to use the canals in future? Please send your suggestions or possible captions - and any other interesting pics you have - to the Editor.

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

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