Page 1

navvies volunteers restoring


In this issue: Easter Camp report

Rebuilding a KL15 crane Summer Canal Camps preview

waterway recovery group

Issue No 223 June-July 2007

Navvies Production

Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. 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. Secretary: Neil Edwards VAT reg. no: 788 9425 54 ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2007 WRG


Inland Waterways Enterprises Registered office: 3 Norfolk Court, Norfolk Rd. Rickmansworth WD3 1LT. Tel : 01923 711114 Registered no 4305322

Visit our web site for

page 2

Contents In this issue...

Chairman if he sends it in in time 4-5 What’s next? Canal Camps preview 6-7 Logistics How to pack catering kit 8-9 Camp Report Easter on the W&B 10-12 KESCRG lifting, shifting and wedding! 13-15 WRG South West at two years old 14-15 WRGBC taking your boat to St Ives 16-17 Diary camp and working party dates 18-20 Letters BW, wedding, Cotswolds, stamps21-23 Progress roundup of the latest news 24-29 KL15 Bungle’s still rebuilding his crane 30-31 News new canals and tick-bites 32-34 Noticeboard save your stamps for WRG 35 Backfill a novel way to fill a lock 36

Contributions... Above: Our brand-new 9-seater vans. Left: Wey & Arun Canal Trust trip-boats using the rebuilt Brewhurst Lock at Easter (see progress report, p26). Below: Piling on the training weekend Cover: Wilts & Berks Easter Camp at Steppingstones Bridge (see report, pages 10-12; photo by David Miller)

...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on CD-ROM, DVD or by email. Photos also welcome: digital, slides, colour or b/w prints. Please state whether you want your prints back; I assume that you want slides returned. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG format, but if you have a lot it is preferable to send them on CD-ROM or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to Press date for issue 224: July 1st.

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. Please note that this is a minimum subscription which doesn’t even cover postage costs but is kept low so that everyone can afford to subscribe. Please add a donation if you can.

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3


MKP’s Q&A session Thought I’d do the chairmans bit as a bit of a question and answer session this month... Q. I read in a recent navvies about fires being left to burn overnight. I thought we always put them out? Has our policy changed? A. No – this comment was in an article about the Christmas Camp and was meant as a joke. Looking back perhaps we were foolish to leave it in. Our policy has always been that fires must be completely extinguished an hour before leaving site. Our insurers insist. Q. I see the Canal Camp flightcases now have whistles in them. Are we playing football in our lunch hour? A. You could, but the real reason is much more mundane. On a complicated site or one where there the work is strung out over a distance sometimes you just need a simple signal to stop work, attract attention etc. Yes - whistles - so much nicer and more user friendly than trying to contact the rest of the site by fumbling with your mobile as you drag your bleeding carcass out of the ditch! Q. Is it true you can’t use ladders anymore? A. Yes and no. There are indeed new regulations and they have received a lot of press about Health and Safety madness. But if you go on the HSE website you will see that they have put the case very plainly. Generally working from a ladder is discouraged because a lot of accidents occur when people just shin up a ladder and try and do too much. So while ladders are not actually banned there is often a safer way of doing things. Q. This H&S has gone a bit mad hasn’t it? A. Well yes and no (again). First the good news - right now the HSE seem to be very, very good at pragmatic delivery of ridiculous legislation. Their website and leaflets are particularly good at plain speaking. But I cannot deny that a lot of the people we are having to work with are primarily concerned not with the real welfare of the workers but with (a) covering their backsides and (b) making sure that nothing ever buggers up their safety record. Because the scare is not that someone might hurt themselves but that someone might have to have time off as a result. I’m not suggesting

page 4

that we have different objectives but it is the case that we don’t see a sprained ankle or a splinter as the awful catastrophe they do. Q. But to stick on legal stuff, I’m told that there is a new set of regs that apply to all sites? A. They were probably talking about the Construction, Design and Management regulations and the answer is (again!) yes and no. CDM regs are actually quite old and used to apply to projects over a certain size. They were quite paperwork intensive and so people mainly spent their time cutting projects down in size until they didn’t qualify and they could avoid the paperwork. So they have rewritten the rules so that SOME of them apply no matter what size your project. Fortunately these are the bits we would be doing anyway. If you are at all involving in planning projects then go and read the website – it’s very clear. Q. I read in some other waterways magazine that there is an appeal for cash to finish off the Droitwich. Is it really happening then? A. Seems so. We have been asked to do quite a lot of the restoration of the barge lock in Vines Park next year and TWT/IWA have launched an appeal to raise the £100k it’s going to cost. We would quite like to do something groovy at the National this year – any ideas? Q. I saw instructors at the Training Weekend consulting bits of paper. What’s that about ? A. They are using the Instructor Guidance Notes – written to try and get a bit more uniformity in our training. It’s a checklist of items you need to cover to train people to work safely, together with a set of tests. They are not exhaustive – it still relies on you putting across your experience and wisdom but it does mean that we can get a consistent standard. It also means that if someone gets part way through a training session then has to stop, they can pick it up again later. So if you are an instructor we really do recommend you get a set of these notes. They are available on the website Q. Talking of Driver Authorisation my card expired a few weeks ago. What do I do now? A. Ah sorry yes the arrival of most peoples expiry date caught us a bit unawares. By the time you read this it should have been sorted out. Oh and we’ve changed the way we do the “copies of your driving licence” thing, to make it easier for you. Q. With all this paperwork are you finding any time to actually do anything? A. Oh every now and then. See you on site somewhere soon. Mike Palmer

The Paper Chase Hopefully, despite missing the press date and if our long serving Editor can squeeze it in you will not need reminding of the birthday of Tom Cook. “Who the dickens is he?” I hear you mutter. He’s none other than one of the SELECT band of founders of WRG NORTH WEST , I’ll have you know. But why is he so special? ’Cos on the 30th June 1977 (exactly six months from the founding) Tom had arrived here at “WOODSTOCK” to be taken out for a birthday drink by Son & Heir, BIG MAC. Whilst waiting for the latter to arrive home from work, Tom told Mrs. Mac and I that he had at long last heeded the pleas of his Dear Old Mum and cleared the spare bedroom of piles of Amateur Radio magazines. He was on his way to the tip with this lot when he saw a canvas banner saying “WE BUY YOUR WASTE PAPER”. As Tom never looks a gift horse in the face, he drove his grand old Land Rover in, was weighed twice and came away with almost £3. “HEY’ says he “how about WRG collecting waste paper? ”So that’s how it all started and we know whom to blame! Relatives, friends and neighbours were soon dragooned into the task and the minutes of our “AD HOC” committee meeting states that in December about a ton of paper was gathered and sold. By then it was realised that we might do well with it and as there is a large housing estate of some 800 houses just half a mile down the road with four long roads conveniently laid out like a snake, the task seemed relatively easy. A suitable leaflet was printed and put through all the doors and on Saturday 28th January 1978, a motley collection of vehicles— with an equally motley gang of bodies drove round in a near blizzard to collect whatever was offered. The fact that we turned out on such an atrocious day has stood us in good stead ever since, showing that we mean business We have just issued our 71st leaflet and the 29th September will see our 300th collection. Only once have we missed - the 6th January 1979 when the roads were covered in frozen snow AND the Tanker drivers were on strike. Remarkably, we only had a few phone calls, all of an understanding nature and when we went


Birth of the Paper Chase round the following Saturday, the paper was waiting for us! On that first collection we all came back to “Woodstock” for a warm & a brew and so was started the now traditional Fish & Chip lunch later reinforced with ‘afters’ of the (in)famous BROKEN BISCUITS. That first collection also started another useful money spinner - BOOKS. We wondered what to do with them but the following weekend saw us with our Sales & Exhibition Stand at “COLLAC” the Camping & Outdoor Leisure exhibition run by John Charles Palmer, the wonderful Dad of our Chairman, Mike. This took place annually at the famous Belle Vue Exhibition & Leisure complex not far from the present City of Manchester Stadium. The previous year we did next to nothing trying to sell wooden spoons & plates which we had laboriously painted with roses but when we took in boxes of books, the customers were like flies round a jam pot! Following that we took them out on our sales stand thus starting what is now almost a business so ably presided over by John Foley. He and Mrs. Mac would “go through the books” after each ‘paper chase’, as they became known. I often wish I’d kept a record of the names of all the folk who have helped on our collections - I think it would be over a hundred names. To make the collections work we need about 15 helpers for comfort though in recent years over 20 turn up during the morning. There was ONE BAD DAY when we had no more than 9 at any one time - we didn’t finish till 5 o’clock! Oh & just a happy thought - the aforesaid Tom Cook was one of our most regular helpers with his Land Rover but at some time a young lady called Celia appeared from only 2-3 miles away After a few years , they had married and fled to the Lake District. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TOM. I think you should have had the medal David ‘Mr Mac’ McCarthy

page 5

What’s next?

Lots more canal camps....

In part two of our preview of the 2007 Canal Camps programme, Adrian Fry brings us up to date on what’s happening in August...

In Navvies 222 we described the progress of the 2007 WRG Canal Camps circus as it journeys from the far-flung south western corner of the UK, arriving at the centre(ish) of the country at the end of July. But before we continue on the second part of our tour through the country’s waterway restoration sites this summer, we’ll bring you a couple of updates to the early part of the Canal Camps season. The first Lord Rolle’s Canal Camp (23rd -30th June) is being led by Judith Pope and Nat Beldersen. Judith says “If you don’t mind a bit of hard work, having suntan lotion rubbed onto you, a cuppa tea in the morning, cider in the evening and the idea of Topless Thursday then this is the one for you!” And for the second week (30th June – 6th July) Steve Davies (‘Purple Steve’) has agreed to assist Spencer Collins. While for anyone tempted by the Grand Western, leader Phil Rodwell reckons there’s “A cracking weeks camp to be had in Devon, from pointing to piling, skittles to swimming and everything you could think of in between. It will surely be Heaven in Devon 07” But on to the second half of the programme. This article gives you the latest info as we go to press in mid May, but many of the Canal Camps in August are still very much in the planning phase. By the time you read this there may well be more information starting to firmup: the WRG website will be regularly updated as details of work, accommodation and leaders are confirmed. The second half of the Canal Camp season Two more camps this year to finish work kicks-off in Gloucestershire, where WRG returns on the Sea Lock on Lord Rolle’s Canal for its first summer restoration Canal Camp on the Cotswold Canals since 2002. The Camp from 28th July – 4th August will be co-led by Chris Blaxland (‘Teacher Chris’) and Jenny Black, and should be a most enjoyable week. The site is in the Cotswold Water Park where we’ll be rebuilding the parapets on Rucks Bridge and starting the restoration of the top wing walls and bywash of Eisey Lock. Meanwhile on the Chesterfield Canal (28th July – 4th August) we’ll be continuing on from the work started by Moose & Co at Christmas. Work on this canal is really progressing: WRG is contributing by working to restore a mile of canal on the edge of the Peak District which forms part of the ‘missing link’ between two already reopened sections. We’ll be working to improve access to the section and also working on a length of towpath and towpath wall. The local canal society folks are very enthusiastic and will help out with the work onsite. The editor also informs me that there’s a damn good pub only a few minutes walk from the accommodation. [Indeed - and we won the pub quiz there at New Year! ...Ed] From Chesterfield and Cotswolds we head east, as the WRG fleet of vans and trailers slowly migrate towards the IWA National Festigal site at St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. Our next stop is at Grantham for a camp running from August 4th to 11th. As you’ve probably heard, Government department DEFRA (boo, hiss!) has cut back on the size of the annual grant to the waterways, and this has meant that British Waterways has had to reduce its

page 6 now you’ve got absolutely no excuse for leaving it any longer before you fill in your booking form and send it in!

What’s next?

...from Cotswolds to Fens

involvement in the restoration of the Grantham Canal - and therefore the work of WRG is more important than ever. The details of this years’ project are still to be confirmed but work will probably be split across more than one site. Even further East on the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation WRG is returning to a waterway where we were active several years ago on Bosmere and Creeting Locks. This year we will be starting work on a new site, Baylham Lock, where Liz Wilson and Chris Wicks (11th- 18th August) will be leading. Let’s hear what Chris has to say about it.. “Liz will have technical whizz-kid hard-hat on and I’ll be wearing my “happy campers” hat (which is probably fluffy and topped with fruit) for what is shaping up to be a great week at Baylham Lock (put IP6 8LG into your favourite mapping tool to see where the site is). Our two big activities for the week will be (a) building a dam at the top of the lock, pumping out the water, digging out the silt with an excavator and pressure washing the walls and (b) demolishing the remains of the wall upstream of the lock and rebuilding it in concretebacked brick, then topping it with concrete cast coping stones. The biggest draw will of course be Harri T’s cooking, and I’m also working on evening activities to include boat trips and brewery visits. The site is by a rare breeds farm, so the final night barbecue should be particularly memorable” In Sleaford this year we are planning to carry out a very high profile project in the town centre. We are creating a winding hole (turning point) for canal boats and also installing a slipway so visiting trailboats can use this section. The precise methods of construction are yet to be determined, but large machines, readymix concrete and piles are all likely to be involved. James Butler and Rob Daffern are running the first week (4th – 11th August) with Adrian Fry and Martin Worsley running the second week (11th- 18th August). (James will not be dangled out of the accommodation by his feet this year!) Accommodation is at Sleaford Rugby Club which has all the usual rugby club facilities including good showers. The season as always will end with the IWA National Waterways Festival this year at St. Ives, so over to the leaders to give us the low-down... “Hi all, Moose here. The National this year will be held in St Ives (the one near Huntingdon, not the one in Cornwall!). I am the camp leader and my assistant will be Paul Shaw. The cooks will be Jude Palmer and (volunteered under the alcohol torture) Alice, she of car parks fame. All I need is a willing volunteer(?) For the admin post. “Work will be the normal fencing, banners, car parking etc. St Ives will be a lovely site, flat with a small ditch through it. I will be hoping to get the Blue Shirt and Red Shirt volunteers together again (not worked on the detail yet but, I will think of something cunning and horrible no doubt!). I would ask everyone to book on, even if you can only come for a couple of days, as it helps in the planning. And if you want to bring a tent, space could be very limited so book early. More in the next Navvies.” AND... We also have a bridge to finish on the Wilts and Berks at Shrivenham, Steppingstones Bridge... Watch this space for further information! Adrian Fry Virgin site: Baylham Lock awaits our attention

page 7


doors open with cardboard and gaffer tape or whatever else comes to hand during the season – they only spend a few hours generally in the trailer between camps and I’m afraid the door seals get damaged when this is done. I do however appreciate that the intention is very well meant and I am quite impressed that you have even thought about it - but I’d like to try a season where we don’t do that please. Thanks. Resting on your Griddles* Major Logistical Note: The kit gridIt’s hard to believe the main camps season is dles get incredibly hot and even though a lot upon us… where does the time go? Here at of plastic (or plastic handled) cooking utenLogistics it’s been hectic – but not necessarily sils are supposed to withstand high temperawith all things logistical. And now the heat tures they are rarely rated for the temperareally is on and our griddles are cooking! If it tures the griddles actually reach - remember all goes to plan you’ll have lovely shiny, the griddle ‘walls’ get very hot too as they freshly painted kits (watch you’re not caught are also part of the same piece of cast iron. red-handed!!!) and if not you’ll at least have So please can you not rest the griddle scrapthe kits. Kit A has been in and out of our ers or large ‘plastic’ fish slices on them – and base more times than an indecisive cuckoo make sure new campers cooking breakfast recently and has been re-packed as many so know not to as well – otherwise you will end it’s barely had a moment’s rest this year up having to use utensils whose handles already and is looking like it! have melted ridges and are very uncomfortApologies for no amusing styles or text able to hold. In fact, worse than that – your this time… unfortunately I’m feeling rather camp’s cook will have to! And you don’t want uninspired for this, and time is a bit of an to upset them, do you now?!!! issue at present. It could be because I’ve For years we used the thick written very similar things at this time of polyethylene chopping boards but because of year in Navvies most years… or probably how we work (lots of activity in the summer because I keep getting somewhat sidetracked with large ‘gaps’ in between the other camps/ thinking about the masses of other stuff I weekends) we’d often find them smelly and should be getting on with whilst we get a mouldy so I thought we’d try some much glimpse of good weather. So much to do… thinner ones (Fleximats). They do wear out But as I (a) promised Martin I’d do a piece pretty quickly (particularly when Toby’s chopfor him and (b) it’s only fair to give you all ping with muscle!) but that was almost the the opportunity to prove me wrong I thought point so they should be more hygienic and I should really stick with it and get writing. can be replaced when mouldy with few I guess the main aim of this particular qualms. My reason for bringing these to your article (as always at this time of year) is to attention is that I also include two of the highlight how easy it is to damage the kit if thick white chopping boards for you to rest you don’t give a second thought to how you the fleximats on should you need to - but treat or pack it. First up, the catering kit: they are not for chopping on directly please. The toasters for example would really Nor, for that matter, are any of these for rather you didn’t stick knives in them (well, resting hot pans on. Last year I provided you wouldn’t like it!) to attempt an impossisome large cloths for that job but they’ve ble extraction! Bungle would also prefer you disappeared into the usual camp Bermuda didn’t too. Please use the wooden tongs Triangle so there should be some other provided or even better don’t get the bread/ specific kit items for you to use for this purtoast jammed in there in the first place! The pose. main cause of this scenario is when people As for packing the catering kit there are feel the urge to check how their toast is a few precautions you need to take: doing much too soon and the bread is still When fitting said kit into the five stackfloppy. Or they ram in a piece that is desing boxes/wooden accommodation box (yes, tined to hold doors open! it really does all fit!) please try not to squash Talking of open doors, please can you it in so it fits. This leads to bent or useless refrain from wedging the fridge/freezer items - one of the tea pots has fallen victim

Resting on your griddles

page 8

to this treatment! One of the items in The stacking boxes do need a the kit which has reratchet strap to stop them from cently seen a hamtoppling over in to the middle mering (literally!) is of the trailer but this doesn’t the post cap. need to be superhero tight or (sometimes threaded through each of the known for purhandles. It just needs to be poses of smutty done up so the strap is at the innuendo as the “point of gentle tension” (as a post bonker) certain Ms Fonda would say) Please don’t hit so it won’t come undone and the top of it with a will stop any strong sideways hammer (or owt movement. else)… the whole For those of you unfamiliar idea is that you do less with the “cross-your-griddle”TM damage to a post whilst ratchet strap formation, let me endriving it in. So don’t think lighten. The large wooden accommodation you have to make up for that by box (Scrabble or Monopoly depending on damaging the cap itself - as in the pic (left). which kit you have) goes on the floor, one of When it comes to packing the tools the rectangular signs (e.g. Hard Hats) sits on please think about what you’re doing and top of that (face down), both accommodawhen you tighten the ratchet straps up they tion and site first aid ammo boxes sit side by may be in a position that’ll bend or break side next, another face down rectangular something. For example, make sure you’re not sign sits on those and then that’s catching any of the all topped off with the griddle Chelwood rake teeth taking care not to trap the lead. with the wheelbarrow This is firmly held in place by two or squashing part of ratchet straps that cross the front the jerry cans that are corners of the griddle to diagostored inside them. nally opposite tie-down points on And finally: the floor of the trailer. Got it? Please keep a And for those of you who’ve lookout for any of been digging long enough just our tools or catering remember Mick’s Griddle poem! stuff that may have Or trawl through the Navvies dvd had a holiday at to find it… it’ll probably take you some village hall or a while! previous camp locaNext up, the tool part of the tion, let me know and kits: put it in with the kit Seeing as I have usually even if that means spent quite some time on this there are two objects before I shall briefly outline it this The consequences of not packing of the same number. time although it doesn’t in any Thanks. the catering kit the right way way lessen the importance of the Many thanks message. again to Bayston’s B&B… very much appreciated. Please wash all tools used for mortar/ And thanks also in advance to everyone concrete/lime as soon as possible and who volunteers for moving stuff around for definitely thoroughly at the end of each those leaders. Good job! day. Go forth and dig!** Make sure the whole kit at the end of your Just Jen camp is well cleaned ready for the next camp including the vans (inside and out) *Not in the way as referred to on a certain and trailer (no De Lorien’s though please). kit one, Mr Beattie! [Although to be fair that Get local societies to provide builder’s was nothing to do with resting!] buckets and wire brushes as the ones in**And you never know I might even get to cluded in the kits are merely token gestures! join you!

. . .

page 9

Camp report

Easter on the Wilts & Berks

One canal, two sites, three leaders: Di Smurthwaite reports from the first Canal Camp of 2007...

Wilts & Berks Easter Camp, 2007 I’d try to co-ordinate our camp story.

We had between 14 to 17 on the camp, most of them seasoned campaigners, with three newcomers. Two of them, Shantelle and Laura, were D-of-E-ers, and Adam (who became known as ‘Digger’) was a student civil engineer. His nickname arose because he was used to driving excavators and dumpers at work, and Rachael was quickly able to pass him for his WRG tickets. He was apparently surprised to find so many oldies on the camp - he thought that it would be mostly youngsters working under a supervisor - but the best thing was that they all worked hard and enjoyed themselves, and promised to come on more camps. Paul Ireson was unaware of the camp, but was camping at Malmesbury, and called by to see how far Lock 4 had progressed since he was last there. On finding us slaving away there,

John Hawkins

Whether we have global warming to thank, or just luck, there can’t have been many Easter camps with 9 days of brilliant weather - resulting in a fantastic amount of work achieved. We had two major projects under way on the Wilts & Berks, so it had been decided to run the camp on two sites, with at least two leaders, which in fact turned out to be three. Rachael was the only one who was able to be there for the whole camp, leading the work on Lock 4 at 7 Locks. At Steppingstones Bridge, Mike Palmer was leading from Saturday through to Thursday night, when Adrian was able to get away from work to lead through to the end on Monday. As cook, I was there throughout (although we were lucky enough to enjoy Jude’s cooking on the first day), so I thought

Pouring concrete backfill behind the new nearside brick wall at Lock 4, Seven Locks

page 10

the camp were working there on the Thursday, with two ready-mix lorries arranged for deliveries, and three dumpers charging up and down the towpath, pouring it in down our new chutes, and vibrating it into place. There was also time on that day for Rachael to give Laura and Shantelle some experience of operating her big JCB. Since then the brickwork has come up a further 6 courses, he decided to come and work with us each so by the time the blockwork has been day from then. brought up to match we’ll be ready for anTaz (Dave Tarrant) got his dates mixed other pour, and some landscaping behind it. up, and could only manage one day at We have KESCRG, London WRG and WRG Steppingstones, and Martin Buckland (our South West coming the next weekend, and third Martin on the camp) put in a couple of BITM the weekend after, so the lock wall is days. It struck me that John Hawkins, Martin progressing quite rapidly. We are hoping to Thompson and Rob Brotherstone managed get the towpath side finished before the two to show that it is the oldies that have the camps arranged for July, when we can start most stamina, working really long days! on the offside. The vital objective on those The work on both sites was mainly camps will be to get the lock wall built up bricklaying and pointing. At Steppingstones, above water level. Luke, Rachael, Martin, and our local work It was such a fun camp, with a great party from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust atmosphere, plenty of good-natured banter, Foxham/Lyneham Branch, worked the week- and it goes without saying that with three of end before the camp to get the steel, planks the best leaders in the business, it was led and plywood that comprised the former for very efficiently. We had a cinema run (Mr. the arch dismantled and removed, leaving only the scaffolding for the camp to work on while pointing the brickwork under the bridge, which took most of the camp to complete. We hadn’t actually expected that it would be possible to finish the pointing, and there were up to 7 perched on the scaffolding under the bridge at one time. The “before” team also took down the end of one of the parapet walls that needed rebuilding from scratch. Over the 9 day camp, all four parapet walls were built up to threequarters of the height of the bridge arch, and the whole thing looks absolutely fantastic. I’m told that Navy Brian makes a superb mix, which helped things along well. By the final day, it was also possible to remove the scaffolding, and the coping stones were mortared into place on either side under the bridge. Most of the rubble was cleared away, and some landscaping done. At Lock 4, the brickwork and the blockwork on the towpath side were built up sufficiently by Wednesday for a concrete pour, so most of Pointing the underside of Steppingstones bridge arch David Miller

“John, Martin and Rob managed to show that it’s the oldies that have the most stamina...”

page 11

Camp report

Steppingstones and Seven Locks

John Hawkins

page 12

selves, and getting really involved. Perhaps the established churches have something to learn from them. The W & B Canal Trust have good reason to be really grateful for the progress made. Di Smurthwaite

David Miller

Bean’s Holiday and Hot Fuzz), swimming, visit to see the White Horse, a pub quiz (won by the team of Mike, Jude, David and myself, our other two teams coming 2nd and 4th), and a skittles night. Our Young Three had never heard of skittles, and had no idea what to expect. They couldn’t believe that in our area (and in my home county of Devon) there are keenly competitive skittles leagues run. However, despite their lack of experience (and it is different from 10-pin bowling), they beat us oldies. We had the traditional BBQ on the final night, with Adrian slaving over hot charcoal, and it was even warm enough to sit outside until quite late. I struggled to keep the inner navvy regularly refuelled (struggle being the operative word when it comes to Rob, but unfortunately he had to go home Friday night), particularly getting lunch to both sites on time - a 40 mile round trip, but at least it meant that everyone could put in a full day’s work. We got very good at playing musical beds, shifting everything around, as the hall is well used - a social centre for the elderly on three days a week, a Thursday coffee morning, a parish council meeting, and a church group on Sundays. The latter was truly astonishing: we cleared the main sleeping hall of all our paraphernalia, and they filled it with rows of chairs, then more people standing all round, and spilling out of the door. There must have been 60 or 70 people there, of all ages, including a lot of teenagers. They brought their own musicians, and everyone sang their hearts out with gospel-type songs. They classed it as a “free church”, no particular denomination, and the most noticeable thing was that they were all smiling and laughing and thoroughly enjoying them-

Above: bricklaying on the bridge abutments. Below: a successful load-test of the arch


“As usual, the concrete lorries were perfectly spaced to prevent a tea break”

Lifting and shifting

by this stage, and someone was wearing shorts! This seems a little strange now, as it KESCRG have mostly been lifting and shifting is now May and absolutely chucking it down. for the last 3 months! The afternoon and Sunday were spent In March and April we were on the shifting bricks from the field where they had Wilts and Berks, on the Dig Deep project at 7 been delivered (or possibly just chucked in locks. April was a joint dig with LWRG and the hedge by a passing lorry) to Lock 4, SWWRG, which made the foxham reading shifting scaffolding around the compound, rooms really quite cosy! and shifting old bricks into neater piles. The So, in March we started early Saturday locals and some of our crew started on the morning, shifting 2 lorries worth of readynext courses of brickwork, and blockwork mix for back filling the nearside chamber behind. wall at lock 4 – well, the first 7 courses The evening, obviously, was spent anyway. In usual style, the concrete lorries shifting beer in the pub and large quantities were perfectly spaced to prevent a tea break, of Eli’s food. And the locals spent the night so it was a long hard morning. Karen and I shifting Eddie’s and Nic’s boots to location or got to play with the 4 foot vibrator (sorry, locations unknown – don’t leave them in the had to have that joke, it’s traditional) and the porch at Lyneham! chutes fashioned from by-wash pipe and And so, 4 weeks later, we found ourscaffolding worked very efficiently, with Mk2 selves at the other end of the runway at & Eddie getting almost all the concrete in the Foxham, our numbers swelled considerably correct hole! by the joint dig. This time we shifted a LOT Then we got to shift some lunch into of bricks into the wall, a lot of blocks into the us! And some fluids – we were all in T-shirts back wall, which obviously involved shifting

KESCRG update!

Pic - W&B

Good progress on the first chamber wall of Lock 4 at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks

page 13


...and getting hitched! Dr Liz

a lot of sand and cement into the mixer and then mortar up to lock 4. Clay was used as backfill behind the blocks and stamped into place by rather eccentric petrol driven stampers – 3 were supplied by the hirers, all Arch of shovels at Eddie and Jenni’s wedding of which had different ways of stopping and starting them, and all of which had a desire to sink themselves into the clay rather than mal – celebrating the wedding of Eddie and stamp it into place. I was trained on the big Jen! A great day, with more lovely weather. digger – and then it developed a fatal fuel Congratulations to both of you, we wish you supply problem, which required 6 people well and hope to see Mr & Mrs Jones out on (one per cylinder) to diagnose, but was many more weekends. unfixable, so the only way to fill the dumper In May, we made it to a hat-trick of was by hand… the clay was in quite hard dry sunny weekends, although it was too breezy lumps (the weather was again really hot and to be warm. This time we were at Wendover, gorgeous). Nic and Steve learnt that compet- helping them prepare the footpath diversions ing on the size of clay lump you could lift to go over the new oak footbridges that were was fun at the time but painful the next day. erected last year. Just as well April had been The efficiency of the cooker at Foxham the driest on record – with a 2 mile round seems to be inversely proportional to the number of people it is trying to cook for… Eli had a frustrating evening but it was a nice evening to sit outside whilst waiting for the potatoes to become vaguely mashable. And the foxham inn, as usual, had a few pints of 6x to spare. When dinner eventually arrived, we had to make sure we left enough room for pudding and 2 Cakes – these were to celebrate Martin’s 25 years of digging! On our return to the pub we tried to work out how many pints of beer he has drunk in this time… disappointingly it was about a transit van full, rather than a Fulbourne full. The following weekend, at the end of April, saw us all wearing rather How many people does it take to stare into a broken down digger? smarter clothes than nor-

page 14

Above: building the concrete block walls to retain the chamber wall backfill at Seven Locks. Below: laying the access path to bridge 4a, on the Wendover Arm

Dr Liz

trip in the dumpers to get the roadstone. It was quite interesting with the hardened ruts – it would have been impossible in the wet. Both sides of both bridges were footpathed, and then fenced, and the bridges should be open for the festival weekend at the end of the month. And speaking of the festival – by the time you read this, we shall have had our first Bhaji stand weekend of the year, over the bank holiday weekend. This is an excellent way of fundraising – and brilliant for our group morale too, because it’s fun! We will be showing off our new kit that we’ve bought with last year’s proceeds – a shiny new open trailer, which has been to the BCN cleanup and the Training Weekend, and a submersible pump, and site radios (to save our mobile phone bills!) If any of you out there would like to come and join our weekends, you’d be very welcome. No experience necessary, but all experience and skills welcome. We’re out every month, usually around the south and east of the country. In June we’re doing our first ever weekend on the Sussex Ouse. We’re promised excellent accommodation and a great pub – and interesting work too on Isley Lock. Please contact me, ian or if you’d like to know more. See you all on a canal somewhere! Love n hugs Dr Liz Williamson

page 15


the arm to Northampton, but where are you? The Blisworth Arm? The Northampton Arm? The Gayton Arm? or The Rothersthorpe Flight? That stretch of canal is known by all those names. Next comes the river that you will go on down from Northampton. It is spelt Nene but in one area, that more or less goes from Northampton to Oundle, it is called the ‘Nen’ and further down river it is Firstly some bad news about one of our boat pronounced ‘Neen’. club members who worked hard for waterTo navigate it you will need a windlass way restoration and was interesting to talk to with a hole the old ‘Grand Union’ size, a and always actively involved. David Howarth Dutton Double fits fine. You will also need an has summed up for us all Environment Agency key to operate all the By now most people will have read of the locks, water points, pump out and Elsan death of Martin Grundy on 2nd April.Those of us facilities. You wont get anywhere without in the WRG BC who knew Martin, will remember one. This key has a number of names, I have him as the owner of NB Beatty, used by him and been navigating the Nene since time immoral his family for nearly 40 years. and this year I learned it can be called an Martin first involved himself in IWA canal ‘Abloy’ key, I have never heard it called that restoration over 50 years ago. Among other before! You can order the key from EA or campaigns, he was involved in the fights to you can buy it at various marinas, Gayton restore the western end of the Leeds/Liverpool being your last chance. If you ask for an canal as well as attending the Ashtec digs of the ‘Abloy key’ do let me know what they say! I early 70s, predating the formation of WRG. think they are more likely to know what you Younger WRG members will remember him as want if you call it a Nene key, though it is Chairman of the 1998 Salford National Festival, needed for the Great Ouse as well. over 30 years since he chaired a National Festival Once down the Nene to Peterborough in Liverpool. In recent years he has attended you enter the Middle Level via Stanground many National Festivals, giving commentary for lock. (You will have to fill in a form at the the Historic Boat Parades, and last year judging lock so remember reading glasses if you the Alfred Richie Cockerel award. need them). For those who knew Martin as a source of There are other levels but this is the great enthusiasm and mine of interesting and Middle Level so there can only be one of it. It amusing recollections, he will be sadly missed. is singular, and I will point this out to you, David Howarth through gritted teeth, should you refer to it Thank you David. in the plural. These are engineering works I hope all members enjoyed a good known romantically as ‘navigable drains’. Easter Cruise. David and other members There are no towpaths. Rights of way along went to Anderton and onto the Weaver, we some of the banks may suddenly change to had a parade of club boats (two) and Lynne the other side for no obvious reason. The celebrated the festival by blacking her botFen Lighters that used these waterways did tom! Well, each to his/her own way of having so mostly under sail, horses were used as fun! well. Trains of lighters had a special section All members should have received the for the horse to be carried in, when not latest AWCC update. Please remember to let pulling, or so it could change banks. me know if you want one in future. I am Try to make time to explore the Middle happy to send them out but it’s a waste of Level while you are in the area. If you visit time, money and trees sending to those who Stonea, Ramsey, Holme and Nordelph you will regard them as junk mail! be eligible to apply for a Middle Level plaque. This is some extra information for Language Problems: This is a whole those going to St Ives, that I doubt you will new world and the following may help get in the ‘goody bag’. Pen (noun) or to pen (verb) = lock You will be going on a short sea voyage Slackers or penstock = paddles but even before that you will find that there Vee doors = mitre gates are language and definition problems. Haling or hayling way = towpath (well sort of) You leave the Grand Union to go down There are more you will learn as you go!

WRG’s boat club reports

page 16

There will be lots of information sent to you so no point in me going over it all here. As I know the area well I will be pleased to answer any questions I can. The AGM will be held at St Ives, TBA some time over the weekend. We look forward to seeing lots of club members there and also at the Saul Festival. xxx Sadie Dean (07748186867)

AWCC AGM report

Saul Canal Festival: will you be there? Sadie got herself trapped on the Nene with too much water, Claire is busy prices down. Reports are wanted on moving into her house in Crete so I got the the improved Keadby lock. job of going to the Association of Waterways North West said that Standedge Tunnel Cruising Clubs AGM at Stafford Boat Club. is to be open two days a week as only half The meeting started at 11am and the boat passages are being used. ended at 4pm. The amount of hot air proTechnical Officer reported on the induced by 60 people made the room stifling. creased costs of the BSS. The examiners are I made copious notes which now make no putting their mark-up on the certificates as sense whatsoever, maybe they didn’t at the they have to pay £800 up front for the book of certificates. The scheme is going self time. I was one of the younger people atfunding (we pay for the lot) but the AWCC tending, worryingly most were in their 70s or even older: this included the committee. reckon that the figures don’t add up. At last the BSS are getting near to Stafford boat club now has a pump out recommending smoke alarms and carbon station and a diesel pump. David Pearce gave a chairman’s report monoxide alarms. and there is a national internet group The constitution is to be changed next for reps, there is a job for someone. year to allow affiliations. The treasurer gave warning that fees That is a swift précis of the meeting. would have to increase next year as for There then followed a raffle which raised the second year running expenditure was £83, a very good lunch provided by the more than income. ladies of Stafford boat club, and a Each region gave a report. South West talk by the Warwickshire fire officer Mr Nigel seems to have a problem with some Grant. clubs joining other areas. Mr Grant saw a Waterworld programme London gave warning that BW are and wondered what the fire service was considering auctioning the moorings, but doing about fire safety on boats. He discovwould also find 30-40 new moorings each ered that the BSS had never contacted the year. fire service regarding safety and people are Southeast reported that Aylesbury basin dying in boat fires and of carbon monoxide land has been sold to the developers without poisoning. He reported 15 fires since consultation & Taverners boat club burnt Christmas. There is a check on all boats in down due to an electric fault on the supplier’s Warwickshire in March and they are being side. provided with detectors. Mr Grant is trying to Midlands had BW cancel a users group make this a nationwide scheme. His talk was meeting due to alleged lack of interest. really a damning indictment of the BS Howard is resigning as our chair. scheme. North east asked if BW were withholdI escaped with head reeling glad that ing moorings to keep the price up and AGMs come only once a year. mentioned volunteer lock keepers to keep Sue Burchett, nb Nackered Navvy

page 17

Navvies diary

Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun 16/17


Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project at Alt-yr-yn Locks

Jun 16/17


Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

Jun 23/24


Sussex Ouse

Jun 23-30

Camp 0702

Lord Rolle’s Canal Camp: Stonework on the Sea Lock at Weare Gifford. Le

Jun 23-30

Camp 0703

Montgomery Canal Camp: Stonework, rebuilding wharf at Redwith bridge

Jun 26/Jul 4 wrgSW

Saul Junction Festival: Site services

Jun 30-Jul 7 Camp 0704

Lord Rolle’s Canal Camp: Stonework on the Sea Lock at Weare Gifford. Le

Jun 30-Jul 7 Camp 0705

Montgomery Canal Camp: Stonework, rebuilding wharf at Redwith bridge

Jul 1 Sun


Press date for issue 224: including Canal Societies directory

Jul 7/8

London WRG Wey & Arun Canal

Jul 7/8

Essex WRG

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Jul 7-14

Camp 0706

Grand Western Canal Camp: Lowdwells Lock. Leaders Phil Rodwell and Al

Jul 7-14

Camp 0707

Monmouthshire Canal Camp. Leaders: Rob Daffer n and James Butler

Jul 14 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jul 14-21

Camp 0708

Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: KESCRG on the Dig Deep project at Seven Loc

Jul 14-21

Camp 0709

Monmouthshire Canal Camp: NWPG on the Dig Deep project at Fourteen

Jul 15 Sun


Committee & Board Meetings

Jul 21-28

Camp 0710

Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: Seven Locks. Leaders Rachael Banyard and Lu

Jul 21-28

Camp 0711

Monmouthshire Canal Camp

Jul 28-Aug 4 Camp 0712

Cotswolds Canals Camp: Rucks Bridge and Eysey Lock. PLEASE NOTE NE

Jul 28-Aug 4 Camp 0713

Chesterfield Canal Camp: Killamarsh. Leaders

Jul 28-Aug 5 wrgBITM

Wendover Arm Work Camp: Bentomat lining at Drayton Beauchamp

Aug 4/5

London WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Aug 4/5

Essex WRG

Braintree: BBQ and social weekend. Tool maintenance.

Aug 4-11

Camp 0714

Grantham Canal Camp

Aug 4-11

Camp 0715

Sleaford Navigation - Canal Camp: Building a slipway and winding hole. L

Aug 11-18

Camp 0716

Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation - Canal Camp: Baylham Lock. Leaders

Aug 11-18

Camp 0717

Sleaford Navigation - Canal Camp: Building a slipway and winding hole. L

Aug 18 Sat wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Aug 21-30

Camp 0718

IWA National Festival Camp: St Ives in Cambridgeshire on the River Great

Aug 25-27


National Festival Bhaji stall

Sep 1/2

Essex WRG

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater,

page 18

Canal Camps cost £42 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 0702') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: Dave Wedd


Graham Hawkes


Eddie Jones


eaders Judith Pope and Nat Belderson

e. Leaders Mike Palmer and Becky Parr

Cath Coolican-Smith

eaders Spencer Collins and Steve Davies

. Leaders Harry Watts and Helen Temple

Martin Ludgate


Tim Lewis


John Gale


lice Bayston David McCarthy


cks. Leaders Mark Richardson and Kate Penn

Locks. Leaders Graham Hawkes and Bill Nicholson Mike Palmer


ke Walker

EW DATE Leaders Chris Blaxland and Jenny Black

Dave Wedd


Tim Lewis


John Gale


Leaders James Butler and Rob Daffern

Liz Wilson and Chris Wicks

Leaders Adrian Fry and Martin Worsley David McCarthy 0161-740-2179

t Ouse. Leaders Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden and Paul Shaw

Eddie Jones


John Gale


Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email:

page 19

Navvies diary Canal SocietiesÂ’ regular monthly or weekly working parties Please send amendments to Dave Wedd (address on previous page)

3rd Sunday of month 2nd Sunday & following Thurs Anytime inc. weekdays Every Sunday Every Saturday Last Sunday of month 4th Sunday of month Second Sun of month 2nd weekend of month 2nd Sat of month Tuesdays Weekends Wednesdays Weekends Every Sunday if required 1st Saturday & 3rd Wed. 2nd weekend of month 2nd Sunday of month 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat 3rd Sunday of month 2nd & last Sundays 2nd Sunday of month 1st Sunday of month Most weekends 1st Sunday of month 1st weekend of month Every Tuesday morning Every Sunday & Thurs Mondays (2 per month) Tuesdays Wednesdays Wednesdays Tues, Thurs & Sats Various dates 1st w/e of month (Fri-Mon) Every weekend



page 20

Mobile groups' socials (please phone to confirm before turning up)

London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before each dig. Usually at 'Star Tavern', Belgrave Mews West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586

Jeff Barley Athina Beckett Gerald Fry Mick Hodgetts Jon Axe David Revill Michael Golds Mike Beech Colin Bryan Denis Dodd Brian Fox Maggie Jones Wilf Jones Martin Danks Ian Edgar Colin Turner John Rolls Lancaster N. Reaches Will Warburg Lichfield Sue Williams Hatherton Denis Cooper Paul Waddington Sankey Canal Colin Greenall Combe Hay Locks Bob Parnell Basingstoke Peter Redway Haverholme Lock Dave Pullen Newhouse Lock Mike Friend Brian Macnish varied construction Eric Walker tidying road crossings John Empringham Tickner's Heath Depot Colin Gibbs maintenance work Peter Jackman Loxwood Link Peter Wilding Winston Harwood Grp Laurie Wraight Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman Wilts & Berks Canal Rachael Banyard

Buckingham area Aqueduct section Various sites Droitwich Canal N Walsham & Dilham Langley Mill Foxton Inclined Plane Grantham Canal Nynehead Lift Oxenhall Over Wharf House Over Wharf House Hereford Aylestone Bugsworth Basin Stowmarket Navigtn.

Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust


01543-373284 01908-661217 01288-353273 01246-620695 0121-608 0296 01603-738648 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2248 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 413888 01432 344488 01663-732493 01473-730586 01189-666316 01931-713317 01543-671427 01543-374370 01757-638027 01744-731746 01225-428055 01483-721710 01673-862278 01948-880723 01732-823725 023-9246-3025 01483-562657 020-8241-7736 01483-772132 01483-422519 01903-721404 01403-753882 01442-874536 01249-892289

Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Newbury Working Party Group Pocklington Canal Amenity Society Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Surrey & Hants Canal Society Sleaford Navigation Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Company

“British Waterways now comes over as a property company with ancillary waterways, rather than as the custodian of a heritage and greatly valued waterway system with property assets”


to the editor

Dear Martin My connections with WRG go back many years, which is probably why I still have serious doubts about current British Waterways Board senior management intentions - and more particularly the objectives of the shadowy civil servants who lurk in the background. Whilst agreeing generally with your assessment [See Editorial, isue 222] of BWB’s more positive attitude towards restoration, recent events suggest, at least to me, a change in attitude which does not bode well for the future. BWB now comes over as a property company with ancillary waterways, rather than as the custodian of a heritage and greatly valued waterway system with property assets. This perception is, I suggest supported by a continual insistence on extracting yet more money from boat owners and businesses, although they know that navigation earnings cannot ever cover heritage-standard maintenance costs. Add to these factors the haste displayed in “retiring” those senior employees who have been prominent in recent restorations and the apparent reluctance of Robin Evans to “fight his corner” seriously over finance reductions, and you have more than an indication of a change in direction. I personally doubt that the obstacles to voluntary work on the Grantham Canal stem purely from a local management desire to protect their backsides. Health and Safety now seems to be the mantra used by BWB to thwart all voluntary efforts, despite the vast experience gathered by WRG and many canal societies over some thirty years of work on waterways. This is of course nothing new! In our recent book Narrow Boat to the Cheshire Ring, BWB’s opposition in the 1960s to volunteer waterways work, however innocuous, on the lower Peak Forest and Ashton canals is described in detail. The obstruction excuse then was an alleged absence of insurance, to which I was able to provide the solution. As to danger, work on any outdoor site carries an inherent risk, which can only be minimised by care but never removed - except by doing nothing at all! Whilst we should not live in the past, it is essential that we remember and profit from historical experience, especially when - as at present - some elements of history may be in danger of repeating themselves. Regards Ted Hill Ted and Margaret Hill’s book Narrow boat to the Cheshire Ring is a recommended read, and available from the Inland Waterways Association on or 01923 711114. ...Ed Dear Martin Regarding your question on the back page of issue 222, of course people read Navvies! May I quote from a note Peter Johnson put in a batch of stamps he sent to Stamp Bank: “Hope these are cut OK - see, I read the article in Navvies”. They were, and thank you to all who have trimmed their stamps before sending them. It’s especially important that the stamps get to the dealer quickly without having to wait to be trimmed as the price is high at the moment. Incidentally, on the subject of reading what is written, in issue 222 there is a picture of the start of work on the MB&B in Salford. According to the caption “the JCB in the picture has just started clearance work”. That would be the big excavator with ‘CAT’ written on the back, would it? Regards Steve Morley See p35 for contact details for the Stamp Bank and please keep those stamps coming in! ...Ed

page 21


to the editor Adrian Fry

Dear WRG volunteers My name is Karen Shaw and I am writing to introduce myself to you as the new Cotswold Canals Trust Visiting Groups Liaison person or Co-ordinator. In addition to the work being carried out at the western end, CotsDo you want to help restore Rucks Bridge? wolds Canals Trust groups have been Karen Shaw would like to hear from your group meeting regularly over many years to clear and maintain stretches of the eastern end of the Thames and Severn Canal - down from South Cerney, past Latton (near Cricklade), and on to Ruck's Bridge. The Trust is keen to re-establish volunteer based projects and capabilities to restore the bridges and locks on this stretch, after a period when British Waterways somehow persuaded us not to do much of this type of work on this section.We now have the support of a number of landowners to do these projects which are outside of the influence of BW, and the Trust sees them as a key strategic move for when the time comes to apply for major grants in a few years. To this end, the Trust started work on Ruck's Bridge last year and hopes to more or less finish it with the WRG summer camp in July. We also now have permission to restore the nearby Eysey Lock. I have just taken on the role of Visiting Groups Liaison and my job is to help to encourage your groups to visit and work on the Cotswold Canals as well as ensure that when you visit (whether at the eastern or western end) you are welcomed and looked after. In particular I will be ensuring your groups have good information about the location of the site and local amenities, have accommodation with good facilities, I will make arrangements as you require for recreation activities and be a general point of contact to help make your visits enjoyable and effective. I live in the heart of the Cotswolds Water Parks and although my main occupation is a Business / IT teacher, I also run a B & B, so have some idea of organisation and providing a good service to guests. I have regularly worked with several groups on all the sites mentioned above and at the western end over the last 3 years as well a volunteer helper at the Saul Canal Festival. My role is not an engineering one - that responsibility rests with different people depending on the site. However,I will be working closely with Ken Burgin who acts as our technical co-ordinator and we would be interested to learn whether your group would like to work on the Cotswolds Canals. Together we hope we can match your working group with a project you would be interested in and have the skills / equipment to carry out. I would be grateful if those of you involved in running the WRG and other regional groups could let me know what skills and interests your group has, how often you might like to visit the Cotswold Canals project and roughly when. Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to read this, and hope to hear from you soon. Karen Shaw The Firs High Road, Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire SN6 6NX Tel: 01285 860169 email:

page 22

“It seems to me that BW at Newark are against volunteers unless the TV are there - and then anything goes.”


to the editor

Dear Martin, I was delighted to see the photo of Mr and Mrs Palmer on their wedding day. Jude seems to be looking over her shoulder to make sure that Mike is still there, and I can’t quite make out the significance of the expression on his face. Surely, he wasn’t already feeling the strain of coping with the Bacchanalian wedding reception, if such took place? [It did! ...Ed] Anyway, I hope they will be very happy, and I am tempted to offer words of advice based on a ridiculously long marriage, but I don’t really know the secret of success. I suppose marrying the right person in the first place must have something to do with it. When I was going through a vulnerable phase during the war, I encountered a group of lovelylooking Wrens who were also on this troopship going out to the Middle East. I was quite overwhelmed, and was very taken with their bell-bottoms. What’s that? I am referring to their uniforms. There was one girl in particular that I always seemed to be bumping into, so I set about finding her again when we went our separate ways on disembarkation at Port Said. We managed to meet up again now and then over the next few months, and thought it might be a good idea to get married, so we did in St Andrew’s Church in Cairo. The date was 21st October 1944, which must be over 62 years ago. I suppose it’s not bad going for a hurried war-time wedding. I hope Jude and Mike manage to do as well and are as happy as we have been. With best wishes to them, and all other Wergies. Stan Holland PS Did they have a Guard of Honour who formed up outside the church with touching shovels to make an arch for the Happy Couple to walk through? No, I’m afraid not - but Mike did arrive at the church in very shiny WRG Transit van R10RFB. And for a pic of an arch of shovels at a recent KESCRG wedding, see page 15 Dear Martin I’ve just received my latest copy of Navvies and saw your article about BW. I feel just the same as you [re WRG forestry not being trusted to work on the Grantham]: when we were working at the Bridge 19 camp last year one of the BW employees delivered some fence posts on a Transit lorry in reverse, unaccompanied along a distance of towpath. Several of us casually asked him if he was chainsaw trained. He said he had been on a short course two years previous but hadn’t touched a chainsaw since. We asked him what would happen if there was a tree or branch to remove: would he have to call someone in to do the job? “Oh no I would be expected to do it.” “Oh” we all said in unison. Another case: before any work is carried out we have to check to see if there might be a bat or a bee or nesting bird, and do a full wild flower check. Yet in Harlaxton cutting they are dredging and pulling out freshwater mussels which from their size must be 100 years old (they are as large as a Big Mac) and leaving them on the bank to die - surely this isn’t on? Finally, BBC East Midlands Today showed young kids around 10 years old leaning out of canoes on the canal at Nottingham doing their bit for the environment by litter picking all the crap from the off side bank. It was obviously a huge BW PR stunt with the TV there. So it is all right to have 2 small children each in several canoes, not one child and a minder. It seems to me that BW at Newark are against volunteers unless the TV are there - and then anything goes. When we worked in Harlaxton cutting clearing branches for their weed boat to get through we weren’t even allowed to use the ‘toy’ electric outboard on our new aluminium workboat yet they can have unacompanied kids doing virtually the same thing. Keep up the good work. What I have seen of the new Navvies looks very good. Martin Day

page 23


On the Grantham... Grantham Canal: Dredging the top pound There is a lot of dredging taking place on the top pound of the canal from Woolsthorpe Locks to Grantham. This is where the restoration section of the canal society and WRG BITM worked early last year, clearing trees and scrub to allow the BW weed boat access. Since then a large grant has been awarded to allow dredging of the top pound. Work started several weeks ago, with wellknown dredging contractors Land and Water given the job. A group of us had a trip to see the results - and couldnÂ’t see anything. ThatÂ’s because there is nothing to see it has been so well done that there is not an ounce of mud anywhere. The official tipping sites have had all the rotten wood and other rubbish sieved out leaving a thin slurry to be run out into the field and it looks perfect. We took several photos on what was a beautiful day so enjoy the views of what, in my case, has taken thirty five years to happen Martin Day

page 24

Above: the newly-dredged channel Below: the machinery for sieving silt

Grand Union Wendover Arm At long last the footbridges, No.4 ‘Pat Saunders Bridge’ and No. 4A ‘Chiltern Bridge’ are almost completed. All wing walls are now poured and, apart from one wing wall at bridge 4 that is linked to the adjacent mooring bay, all are backfilled and all that remains is to complete sanding etc. of the timber bridges, lay the diverted footpaths and erect fencing that is required to protect the public until re-watering. Regretfully it has been necessary to order some new timber steps as the local vandals saw fit to smash two of the steps on Bridge 4A. It is hoped to have both footbridges open to the public by our Festival in May 2007 although the old routes cannot be closed until Herts County Council have issued the formal diversion notices. The Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG) were due to help us over the Saturday and Sunday of the early May Bank Holiday and are take on the task of laying the diverted footpaths and associated fencing. We are also grateful to Clayton Rae, the Dacorum Footpaths Officer, who has arranged a free issue of Geotex membrane and 20 tonnes of crushed concrete for the footpaths. We will be providing KESCRG with timber edging, an excavator, dumper and vibrating plate for their work as well as road stone for the finished surface. Completion of this work will have several advantages; our volunteer labour force will no longer be spread over three sites, this in turn will lead to better use of plant and allow us to concentrate on the major work of re-lining. As I stated in the last report the design of the new canal lining has now been all but finalised using hollow concrete blocks and the estimate for this is being assessed but cannot be finalised until we have completed our first stretch of lining at our August working party when WRG BITM are coming to help us for a week long camp. These week-long exercises are very efficient, particularly in the use of plant and I would like a feed back as to whether there is sufficient support for another week long work party following the October normal work party, hopefully to take advantage of good weather before another wet winter and to get the aquatic plants in place and re-water the finished length to Wendover level.


...Wendover and S&N...

Lining and mooring: 124 metres of pipe capping has now been completed and the slab for sealing the first manhole was due to be installed at the May work party providing BW can lower the present water level by letting water down from Saxon Bridge to Wilstone Reservoir. At the same work party bulk excavation and pipe capping beyond the manhole will continue. This will soon involve excavation for the 50 metre towpath mooring that will extend roughly from the 4250 metre mark to the 4275 mark Bulk excavation for the 50 metre long mooring wall on the offside is now complete, the spoil having been put behind the wing walls at Bridge No.4, except for the final blinding excavation that cannot be done until immediately before the blinding concrete is laid. The east end wing wall has now been completed in conjunction with the associated wing wall of bridge 4. No further work will take place at present unless work at Drayton Beauchamp is held up by bad weather or there is spare volunteer labour to extend the blinding. Roger Leishman

Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Five RAF volunteers from Shawbury joined an elite team of SNCT members to give the Wappenshall Junction site an annual tidy up. The weekend started on a very grey and cold note: luckily the sun broke through during the Saturday morning and the weekend work task brightened up. The young officers, who had just completed their Flight Operations training, became quite enthusiastic about the restoration project and carried out some exploration work under the bridge itself: they attempted to trace the extent of the brick towpath and edging.  The compacted earth certainly tested their stamina, but they continued nevertheless.  Unfortunately time and daylight limited the length of towpath that could be exposed: another task for another day?

page 25


muddy bank and trying to tie ropes onto poles. Don’t forget to keep looking at our website which is updated twice a week. On three Saturday mornings in March volunteers have been working to transform the steep, slippery bank opposite The Onslow Arms and the towpath. Michael Joseph (our Conservation Officer) had the idea of planting wild flowers where at Wey & Arun Canal present mainly brambles, nettles and thistles We have just finished the last of the “Easter grow. So, clinging to the slope, with only Bunny” cruises on the canal over the holiday cold water below to cushion any fall, the weekend. This year we were able to book weeds were grubbed out using hand forks visitors onto both our public trip boats, the and trowels. Michael brought some Zachariah Keppel which seats 30 and the wildflower plants (Cuckooflower or Lady’s smaller John Smallpeice carrying 12 passen- Smock, Hairy Bitter-cress, Primrose, Greater gers. This is now possible because of the Celandine, Foxgloves and Ox-Eye Daisy) lengthening of Brewhurst Lock which can from his own collection and these were hold both boats at the same time. Six trips planted in chosen spots. per day over the four days = over 900 tickets We are very pleased with progress, sold which is a welcome contribution to keen to continue the job and, of course, see funds. the results. At the Trust’s Annual Meeting at It has been another busy month for our Shalford Village Hall on Saturday 28th April Mid Week Working Party. Their first task last we had the official launch of the “Canal month was to complete scrub and tree clearCompletion Strategy Report” which has been ance between Compasses Bridge and prepared by Atkins plc. As part of the day’s Fastbridge. Then they went back to the events for members we held a small boat airfield side at Dunsfold Park and spent a rally at Gun’s Mouth, Shalford, and also whole day getting out 3 trees, including the organised guided walks along some of the roots, which had blown over in the wind. original canal route through Bramley in the (We still can’t work north of Fastbridge bemorning, enabling people to see the newly cause of the cows in the field). Our Monday cleared area around Tannery Lane Bridge. Group had their first visit this year to Run The new lock at Loxwood (still no Common. It was interesting to see what had official name, but we have given it No. 5A) been deposited there during the winter, this is nearing completion with the last of the time we recovered most of the parts of a quoins installed and the scaffolding removed. washing machine! In a little while we will be fitting the small Sally Schupke back pump and its associated waterfall and getting the fence and grass onto the lock side alongside the towpath. A bund has been installed across the pound ready for the start of bridge/ tunnel work to carry the canal under the B2133. Our boats are now back moored opposite the Onslow Arms at their new moorings – and very smart it looks. The boat crews are very pleased with the new facilities. Easter cruises at the rebuilt Brewhurst Lock No more lurching down a

...Wey & Arun Canal...

page 26

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society has continued to hold weekend working parties on our canal. The latest one was attended by over twenty volunteers from the Society and from Waterway Recovery Group NW, assisted by three British Waterways employees. After a total of five working days since last October we have cleared 1½ miles of canal towpath of trees, soil and other vegetation. The length involved is from Ringley Top Lock to Hall Lane in Little Lever. Only a short length at the bottom of the locks at Nob End remains to be cleared; we hope to clear that in September. This all co-incides with the start of restoration of the canal at the Middlewood site in Salford. Paul Hindle


...MB&B and T&M...

The MB&B towpath before...

Thames & Medway Canal On the weekend of 17/18 March, the Thames and Medway Canal Association joined forces with Kent and East Sussex IWA, Essex WRG, and Thames 21 River Wardens. The Saturday morning was spent at the top of the Crayford Navigation; the creek is tidal and the water was low, so some hardy souls took to a couple of small boats to clear undergrowth and overhanging trees which were obstructing the river. Meanwhile, the less adventurous members got to work on the bank side, clearing barrow loads of household rubbish and enough clothes to start a charity shop. A visible improvement was made in all areas. In the afternoon work transferred to the Thames and Medway Canal. Essex WRG felled a large tree which was obstructing the view of the obelisk which marks the boundary between London and Rochester. The rest of the group indulged in their usual habit of litter picking. The rest of the weekend was taken up with more tree clearance. The Dartford Barrier was closed because of an unusually high tide and those in the small boats had to beat a hasty retreat form the water due to the fierce tides in those parts. People thought it was a worthwhile exercise and Essex WRG said they would like to come to the area again if their other workload allowed. Angela Acott


...and after the weekendÂ’s work

page 27


...the Sussex Ouse... Sussex Ouse Vision Document Launched

Work Continues at Isfield By kind permission of landowner John Sclater, conservation / restoration work will restart at Isfield Lock on various week-ends from early May until mid-September 2007, plus a few Thursdays. These work days will continue the major task of removing all the silt from the lock structure itself. The early stages this year will also continue the archaeological excavation of the remains of both original bottom lock gates which are still in-situ at the tail of the lock, together with a timber fore-bay. The lock gates must be excavated by hand prior to being lifted out and stored and the fore-bay will need to be drawn and then protected before we can revert to using machinery to clear the rest of the lock. Once that is done, we will move on to stabilising the west wall of the lock and starting restoration work on the betterpreserved east wall. Detailed lists of dates have yet to be set, but we will be delighted to see any new working members who should please contact our project manager, Paul Morris, via e-mail at morris_paul @ or by telephone 01435 863683.

The Trust’s Vision Document was officially launched on March 27th at the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes. An excellent turn-out of 20 members and 30 invited guests joined together to listen to a short formal presentation by Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust Chairman Bob Draper. This was followed by a buffet lunch during which there was ample opportunity for members and guests to question the committee and discuss with each other the challenges and opportunities raised by the Vision and SORT’s plans for conservation and restoration of the Sussex Ouse Navigation.  Invited guests included local County, District and Parish Councillors, the Environment Agency, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sussex Ouse Conservation Society, angling clubs, Ramblers Association and many more. The next step is to circulate the Vision as widely as possible to engage with all interested local parties. This will include individual presentations or talks where appropriate. SORT then intends to form a partnership with all the local bodies expressing an interest in moving the project forward. This will hopefully lead to sufficient funding being found for an initial engineering study to show the feasibility of the project and to prove the economic and social benefits that will derive from it. That will then allow for a full environmental impact study to be done to ensure that any works undertaken are not detrimental to the long-term biodiversity and ecology of the river corridor. The full document can be downloaded from our web site at Silt clearance in Isfield Lock chamber

page 28

Montgomery Canal: Crickheath north Shropshire Union Canal Society’s February work party found that thieves had stolen the safety fence around the compound, and there had been some fly tipping in the canal as well. But the 24 volunteers cleared trees in the bed of the cut on the length between Pryces Bridge to the northern limit of our site, and there were some impressive bonfires. The work allowed surveyors contracted by BW to determine how much silt has to be removed and how high the banks must be when we finish. We had 29 attendees in March, and on a fine and sunny Saturday one group completed the site set-up. The compound was levelled and surfaced with stone by Big Arthur, our excavator, the security fencing replaced, and this time we welded up the bolts. A water supply was also installed, which will be very handy when we start mixing large quantities of mortar. Big Arthur helped in the demolition of a section of the wharf wall by lifting stones, both adding speed and reducing strained backs. But the biggest effort over the weekend was the final clearance of trees from the site before the start of the bird nesting season. The work was completed in torrential rain and a sea of mud. The ground at the south end of the site has subsided over the years and before the canal can be filled to its proper level the banks must be raised with imported construction fill. The other activity on Sunday was training from BW consultants on the building of stone walls with lime mortar. 21 volunteers took part in theory and practical sessions, and whilst the initial reaction was that the mortar was easy to use, the relatively long time needed to prepare and cure the material means that new methods of working will have to be developed. What a difference a month makes in our Montgomery Canal work. Our three-day April working pary over Easter was warm and sunny, birds were singing and a buzzard circled above. A final attempt was made to burn the large tree stumps, and this was helped by the delivery of a lorry load of used pallets. These were sorted, and undamaged ones were then used to store sorted stone for rebuilding the wharf whilst broken ones helped to relight the tree stumps. A trial section of the old wharf was rebuilt using lime mortar – this was found to be easy to use, once mixed, although the


...and finally the Mont

pointing and brushing stage took longer than normal and the wall needed covering with an awning to shade it from the sun! A start was made on pulling down the rest of the old wall that was unsafe. The stones were sorted by height onto pallets placed on the canal bed; this was just possible as the water level had receded in the last month. Big Arthur was used to level the site first and to remove remaining tree roots. The skills learned by the drivers at the A.P. Webb training school were put into use as one of Big Arthur’s tracks began to sink below the mud – after tea and evaluation the bucket was used to lever the digger forward onto firmer ground. Big Arthur was also employed to lift a huge stone into place on the rebuilt wall – having the machine will be invaluable in future months will be invaluable as there are several stones which are too big to lift manually. A new layer of management, equipped with clipboard and computer, spun out the job of pegging out the water level and the boundary of the water’s edge until the last afternoon. They did, finally, join those who were already a little dirty from preparing foundations for visitor moorings. Big Arthur was also employed here and will be used next month when piling and backfilling with concrete begins. The site office/hospitality trailer now has piped running water, and electricity to light the storage containers, to run computers and last but not least to boil the water for the tea breaks. Considerable effort has been made to tidy up the whole site, to reorganise the compound. With the marking out and a start being made on the “heritage” wall we now feel poised and eager to start the rebuilding in earnest. About 20 volunteers attended for each of the three days. If you are tempted to join the fun of a work party please contact Mike Friend – you will be made most welcome, and no previous knowledge of restoration work is required. Parties take place on the first weekend of each month through to November. Mike Friend Tel: 01948 880723, Mob: 07909 912611 email:

page 29


Rebuilding a KL15 crane

The first update since we left Bungle swearing at his KL15 just over a year ago, having realised that the slew bottom bearing was badly worn...

The story so far We had discovered that the bottom slew shaft bearing had excessive play and so the entire assembly would have to be removed. ‘In other news’ the correct tyres had arrived and needed to be fitted....

Tiring tyres For those with long memories... you may remember that we had finally managed to get some tyres to fit the crane, however they were bought on the basis of “self assembly”, the original tyres were a slightly different size to the ones we had managed to buy. The chap from the tyre company advised plenty of washing up liquid, cleaning as much rust off the rims as possible and if in desperation, grinding a little off the tyre itself. George Charlton and Pete Dunn set to work with some lubricant and levers and after some considerable effort managed to assemble the first wheel. There is a fine line to be drawn between taking enough off the tyre that it will fit and taking too much off so the wheel turns in the tyre…… To give some idea of how difficult the job was they assembled the four wheels over the course of six months.

Filing up the slew ring

Unbreak the brake We had discovered that the travel sprag (or brake) was not so much broken as missing. By studying the drawings in the parts book the missing bits were drawn up and the engineering team set to work. By using the vertical slide we could use the lathe as a milling machine and create a working replica of the original part. The only part we couldn’t repair or rebuild was the spring, Jones Cranes parts didn’t have the correct one in stock, but could get one made at a cost of £150! Following some phone calls one that was “close enough” was purchased and fitted at a far more reasonable price.

Getting mobile

Milling the travel sprag

page 30

Once the travel sprag had been completed the travel mechanism could be refitted, this involved creating a scaffold lifting frame to lift the assembly up from underneath the base plate so the bolts could be inserted. This was a major step forward as it enabled the axle and then the wheels to be bolted back on which will in turn enable us to move the crane around the site again.

Slew plate We had discovered that the bottom slew pinion bearing had excessive play and therefore the entire slew mechanism plate had been removed. Bottom slew shaft bearings for 1948 KL15 cranes are in somewhat short supply so we had to get one machined from a lump of brass. This having been done the hole for the grease nipple was re-drilled and the whole lot re-assembled. Whilst this was being done, Andy set to work in a tight space with a file and cleaned up all the slew ring teeth.


Bungle and the crane

Bottom slew bearing Whilst all these items had been removed the superstructure of the crane was much lighter than normal which enabled us to move it around easily. Whilst doing this we discovered that the bottom king post bearing was also somewhat slack (which was probably what had caused the slew pinion bearing to become worn out); to remachine this will require the entire superstructure of the crane to be lifted clear so it was just as well we had removed all the mechanism from inside!

Next jobs

John Fletcher

The crane will now be moved onto a hard surface for the summer (it floods during the winter so cannot be used then) so a lifting beam can be erected to remove the superstructure…. More pictures of this next time. Above: slew plate mechanism on final assembly. George ‘Bungle’ Eycott Below: Lifting the travel mechanism into place

page 31

Navvies News

Boat rallies and a new trans-European canal New canals - Continental style

Dont’ forget...

We are quite proud in this country about our plans for brand new canals, the latest small bit completed being the Wilts & Berks junction with the Thames. But all our plans would seem to pale into insignificance compared with the new canal which it is hoped to start this summer on the continent. It is described as the Eurobaltic canal, and is planned to link the Black Sea with the Baltic Sea, so the Russians and all the countries along the route can have direct access to the Atlantic to transport goods, rather than having to go via the Mediterranean. There has apparently been difficulty getting traffic both through the Black Sea-Aegean straits, where Turkey has limited tanker traffic, arid the Straits of Gibralter, which has stretched capacity, not to mention disputed territorial claims by Britain, Spain and Morocco. It is said that the new artery will become the northern branch of the new MainDanube canal, which provides a link to the Rhine and thus the Atlantic. It will run via the River Oder, which is connected both with the Rhine and with the Polish-Belorussian water-transport network and canal system. The statistics are somewhat mind-boggling - one of the locks will he 201 metres long and 24 metres wide, and a hydro-eleetric plant will be built to reduce the Czech Republic’s demand for oil and gas. The cost will be 80m euros, of which the EU are giving 35m. There are also plans to construct the Southern France Canal between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This information was published in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta of 22nd February 2007 and no, I don’t speak Russian, the article was in English, and the paper was included free with the Daily Telegraph! Di Smurthwaite It sounds remarkably cheap compared to some UK restorations - for example £22m for 6 miles of the Cotswolds plus another £11m contingency for overruns that BW is still trying to nail down. Are we sure it isn’t 80 Billion euros?

A couple of forthcoming camps that didn’t quite make it into Adrian’s Preview article on pages 4-5 because they’re not part of the main programme of camps booked through head office that appear in the printed brochure - but you’ll stil be just as welcome on them both. WRG BITM will be spending a week on the Wendover Arm, helping to install the Bentomat lining which will turn cure the chronic leakage problem that shut the waterway in the first place. They’re working from July 28 to August 5, and if you want to join them get in touch with Dave Wedd by phone on 01252-874437 or by email to Secondly we’re running a week’s site services support for the Saul Canal Festival on June 26th to July 4th. This is one of the best annual canal events and includes Folk on the Water, which attracts top name bands and singers. To help make it happen, send in the application form in the last issue of Navvies, or if you can’t find it just give George ‘Bungle’ Eycott a ring on 07771 775745 or an email to to say you’re coming.

page 32

And on the subject of festivals... Next year the IWA’s National Trailboat Festival is heading for Devon and the Grand Western Canal, making good use of the slipway we built there in 2003. We may well be asked to help out with the event, so note the date of May 24 to 25 in your diary.

...and still on the subject... The IWA’s National Campaign Rally 2008 will be a whole week’s programme on August 30 to September 7 along the length of the Montgomery Canal, featuring visitng boats from the main system at the English end of the canal and trailboat events on the isolated Welsh sections. And somehow I suspect we’ll be involved somewhere there too.

If you’ve got anything that you want to share with the rest of WRG (other than infectious diseases) please feel free to send it to ‘Navvies News’ Welding tackle available We have been given a 400A diesel powered welder which is available for a small donation to WRG, or possibly free to a deserving good home. The make is Maxarc, the model name is Mustang, and it’s powered by an aircooled Lister engine. The new electrode holder, earth strap and leads are new. It has an electric start (but needs a battery), has just been serviced and is in good working order. It has been described as “so good that even Bungle did a neat job with it”. Contact George ‘Bungle’ Eycott on 07771 775745 or

Thank you ‘The Fat Man’ for his kind donation of £40 to London WRG at Canalway Cavalcade. Sure, there’s lots of portly folks at Little Venice, but you know who you are. Thanks.

Lyme’s Disease Another horror for you to be on the lookout for on this summer’s camps is Lyme’s disease, which is spread by tick bites. Like Weils disease it is rare but potentially very nasty. Symptoms vary widely but can include a rash and flu-like symptoms in its initial stage, followed by the possibility of musculoskeletal, arthritic, neurological, psychiatric and cardiac problems. Most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially if treatment is begun early in the course of illness. It is becoming more common due to increasing numbers of ticks as a result in the abandonment of sheep-dipping and the increase in deer populations particularly in the south. You are most likely to pick up ticks by brushing against vegetation that sheep and deer have brushed against. They are most common in woodland and heath but have recently been found in urban parks. Precautions include wearing long trousers tucked into socks when walking in these

Navvies News

Watch out for ticks!

areas, using insect repellent, and checking yourself thoroughly for ticks. If you find any, carefully remove by pulling off with tweezers. We repeat: it’s rare, but it can be very nasty. So don’t be alarmed, but be aware.

The Bonfire Bash being run by KESCRG this year as part of their 30th anniversary celebration. The site is the North Wilts Canal, the date is November 3-4, and we are promised a firework display! More info and booking form next time.

Mersey Basin Week Preparations for this year’s MWH Mersey Basin Week are gathering steam as thousands of people make plans to take part in hundreds of water-themed events throughout the Northwest. The week, which celebrates the region’s rivers, canals and waterside environments, has gone from strength to strength for more than a decade. This year’s celebrations – coordinated by the Mersey Basin Campaign – will take place between Friday 28th September and Sunday 7th October 2007. Volunteer groups, schools and individuals are encouraged to organise and participate in activities ranging from tree planting and guided walks to arts events. Full support and guidance is on hand from the Mersey Basin Campaign’s local co-ordinators, and grants of up to £100 are available to help pay for skip hire, tools, materials or anything else needed for a successful event. This year we anticipate more events than ever before, so get involved early and let us know how your group will be celebrating MWH Mersey Basin Week 2007. To make sure you’re a part of MWH Mersey Basin Week 2007, please contact Bev Mitchell on 0161 242 8212 or email: to receive your information pack and grant application form. Izzy Gascoigne

page 33

Navvies News pictures

Meanwhile the training weekend was notable for the addition of a course in PPE use...

Familiar sights at Little VeniceÂ’s Canalway Cavalcade: a jazzband playing on the island, Bungle steering tug, working boats...

...the wet weather...

...and London WRG getting their display for the pageant ready at the last minute... unexpected couse in fixing the truck... a less familiar sight: three loaded working boats carrying a total of over 100 tons of sand and gravel. Full report in the next Navvies.

...and the accommodation being minus a wall

NOTICEBOARD Online Navvies subscriptions Don’t forget: You can now take out or renew Navvies subs online at or at products.asp?cat=126

Boat share for sale One or more shares are likely to be available in the well-known traditional ex-working narrow boat Fulbourne, owned by a consortium of WRG volunteers and other waterways enthusiasts. If you are interested contact Tim Lewis on 07802 518094


to Eddie Jones and Jenni Copeland of KESCRG who got married in April

Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)

Stamps wanted

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

WRG South West now has its own website

Navvies Directory update

The Cotswold Canals Trust has a new contact for visiting work parties: Karen Shaw, The Firs High Road, Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire SN6 6NX, Tel: 01285 860169, email: Karen (and CCT) would welcome more visiting groups on the Cotswolds: please se her letter on page 22. The Saltisford Canal Trust is a new addition to our directory. They can be contacted at Budbrooke Road, Warwick CV34 5RJ, Tel: 01926 490 006, mobile: 07899 022 094, email:, website: And they could do with some help carrying on that piling job we began on the Training Weekend. The next issue of Navvies (No 224) will include the full directory of WRG, canal societies and mobile working party groups’ contact names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and websites. If any of your group’s details have changed, please tell the editor.

Sue Watts

of Navvies Subscriptions is currently convalescing after illness. While she is still happy to process new subs and renewals, she asks that any problems with subscriptions be dealt with via head office on Tel: 01923 711114 or email:

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


Bungle makes a splash!

The cheesy bits of Navvies Double Gloucester & Sharpness? Thank you to Jeremy Frankel for a news story about a hazard not (so far) encountered on the UK’s waterways... A train derailment in the Southern California desert spilled gallons of blue cheese dressing into a canal leading to the Salton Sea. Cleaning up the smelly mess will take a few days, Union Pacific Railroad officials said Wednesday. The 52-car train was carrying a variety of cargo from Dupo, Illinois, to Los Angeles, Union Pacific spokesman Joe Arbona said. Nineteen of the cars derailed, dumping bulk containers of the dressing, other food products and concrete sealant. The spilled dressing and other materials flowed into the Coachella Canal about a mile from the north shore of the Salton Sea, hazardous materials specialist Robert Becker said. “There was blue cheese — a lot of it,” Becker said.

And speaking of cheese... We’re planning an ‘identify the cheesy grin’ competition in a future issue. Please send in any good photos of well-known volunteers putting on their toothiest best for the camera.

In response to the last month’s caption photo showing Bungle taking the WRG Plant Land Rover (aka the ‘Pasty Wagon’) off-road we have the following suggestions from Andy Carter... “Bungle felt that either (a) the drains were blocked on this stretch of road or (b) the BW cuts were seriously affecting the dredging” “First you had the Amphicar, then the Caraboat, now WRG presents the Bunglebuggy The ideal vehicle for negotiating those nasty muddy wet bits between you and the chip shop. (Disclaimer: not suitable for canal navigation, pasties not supplied, must not be used in wet weather)” “By the end of camp, the drive-thru carwash was in need of a major overhaul” ...while Phil Sharpe chipped in with... “Concerned about there being enough waterways left to restore in future, WRG investigate the effect of converting roads into canals.”

You can lead a horse to water... ...and use it fo fill a lock with, if you’re in Scotland. Yes, the country that brought us the Falkirk Wheel has decided to go one better and build the first lock in the world to be operated by a pair of giant statues of horses’ heads on the locksides. Electric motors will rock them backwards and forwards: as they do so, the bases of horses’ heads will displace water in chambers underneath them, filling and emptying the lock via underground culverts. Brilliant! How come Thomas Telford, the greatest Scottish engineer of all time, didn’t think of it? You think I’m taking the piss? No, it’s perfectly true. They’re planning it as part of the reinstatement of the original east end of the Forth & Clyde Canal to bypass the tricky Carron Cut connection to the Firth of Forth. But that gives me an idea... Down here in London they’re building the new Prescott Lock to enable barges to deliver construction materials to the Olympic site. I propose that instead of conventional paddles, BW builds a giant statue of DEFRA waterways minister Barry Gardiner which will fill the lock chamber in the manner of the famous Mannekin Pis statue in Brussels. That way, as we cruise through the lock that shares its name with the minister who in the early years of this government actually did the canals some good, we can experience the genuine feeling of the present DEFRA (golden) shower pissing on the poor bloody boaters from a great height...

page 36

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 223  

Navvies 223

Navvies 223  

Navvies 223