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navvies volunteers restoring

waterways

Bonfire Bash report and photos Help the Droitwich Appeal Canal Camps 2008

waterway recovery group

Issue No 226 December-January 2007-8


Navvies Production

Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 Subscriptions: Navvies subscriptions, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk

Martin Ludgate

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

Mike Chase

VAT reg. no: 788 9425 54 ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2007 WRG

Alan Lines

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 Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith. Secretary: Neil Edwards

Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for

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Contents In this issue...

Editorial Help the Droitwich Appeal 4 Chairman Camps ‘08 and wine tasting 5 Coming soon Barn Dance and BCN Cleanup 6 Bonfire Bash on the Wilts & Berks 7-11 Camp reports on the Cotswolds, Wilts & Berks and Grand Western canals 12-19 Diary camp and working party dates 20-22 Vans A chance to own a bit of WRG history! 23 Letters Chichester again! 24-25 Progress Restoration news roundup 26-30 Plant The crane starts going together! 31-33 Dig report LWRG on the Mon & Brec 34-35 WRGBC Boat Club news 36 Camp report September on the W&B 37 Noticeboard Save your stamps for WRG! 38 Infill introducing WRGieotypes! 39 Front cover: Bonfire Bashing on the Wilts & Berks - see report on p7 (photo by Mel Parker). Above: Book now for the Barn Dance - see p6. Left: WRG NW on the Hollinwood. Far left: what’s happening? See p17 and find out

Subscriptions queries Until further notice please contact our head office on 01923 711114 or email enquiries@wrg.org.uk if you have any problems or queries regarding Navvies subscriptions. Sue Watts (see right) will still deal with new subs and regular renewals.

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on CD-ROM, DVD or by email. Photos also welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please state whether you want your prints back. 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 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 227: January 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. 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


Editorial

The return of an old friend Barging into Worcestershire Look at the list of sites for this year’s camps (right), and at the more detailed list in the Canal Camps flyer which should be included as an insert in this magazine, and you may notice a name from the past that’s been absent from the last few years of Canal Camps. And that name is ‘Droitwich’. Yes, we’re going back to a canal that a lot of us remember fondly from five years (or in some cases much longer) ago. Following several years of waiting while major funding was finalised to pay for the bulk of the remaining work on the canal, we are going back to Droitwich to carry out one of the important jobs – restoring the Barge Lock in the centre of Droitwich where the Barge Canal meets the Junction Canal. But before we start we need to raise funds to pay for the materials and equipment needed. You will (hopefully) already have received a leaflet in your last Navvies encouraging you to support the Barge Lock Appeal. And clearly some of you have been encouraged to support it, because the good news is that around £25,000 has been raised. But the not-so-good news is that another £75,000 has still to be raised – by next summer. Those of you who remember the various appeals for WRG equipment that we have run in recent years will recall some splendidly wacky bits of fundraising – WRG Pantos, people sitting in baths of mud or abseiling off boat lifts for sponsorship, and so on. And we hope to come up with some novel ideas this time too – see MKP’s page opposite for one suggestion – all of which will feature in Navvies in due course. But in the meantime, don’t wait for us to announce that we’re painting the Pontcysyllte red or playing football on the top of the Anderton Lift or whatever before you hand over your dosh. Just dig out that form from last time or follow the link to ‘Droitwich Barge Lock Appeal’ from www.wrg.org.uk. If you can find enough friends to raise £120 between you can become a Bronze Patron and get

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Can you spare £120 to help keep our volunteers out of mischief this summer?

your name on a commemorative plaque in Vines Park. But if you can’t raise that much don’t worry – you will still be giving money to canal restoration in one of the most costeffective ways possible: by helping to keep volunteers working productively. And you just might be helping to ensure you get a few enjoyable camps to work on next summer too! Martin Ludgate

Canal Camps 2008: the sites Cotswold Canals Droitwich Canals Lord Rolle’s Canal Chesterfield Canal Basingstoke Canal Montgomery Canal Wilts & Berks Canal Grand Western Canal Stowmarket Navigation Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation IWA Festival at Autherley Junction

Awaiting our attention - and some money:


“It looks like at least one camp will actually be a proper lock chamber clearance – with proper mud and stuff...”

Chairman

on Camps ’08 and wine-tasting

Chairman’s comment It’s that time of year again where we publish “what we are going to do on our summer holidays” for next year. Now there are some cynics that reckon that if the planning for a camp is a complete cockup then the actual camp will be fine. If the reverse of that is the case then we are set for serious chaos next year because the planning session at the Bonfire Bash went very smoothly. There’s a pretty good spread of camps with some good work on all of them and best of all it looks like at least one of them will actually be a proper lock chamber clearance – with proper mud and stuff. Obviously I’m not going to tell you which one it is until I’ve booked on but here’s a clue – it rhymes with Large Dock. So that’s all the more reason to have a good read of the enclosed flyer and book on a couple of camps right away. Now it wouldn’t be an edition of navvies without some comment about Trans-

port. I was going to write a long impassioned plea about how these new vans represent a huge investment but I think I’ll just quote Bungle when he saw the state of one of them. “people should treat them like 25 grand’s worth of very new kit – because that’s what they are”. So keep them clean, don’t go taking them off-road and don’t dent them!

Coming soon... A couple of up and coming events that I have been asked to push, obviously no actual useful details here as I’m just a high level concepts sort of guy but I’m sure the people in charge will have something more informative soon. Firstly we will be running a publicity stand at the Outdoors Show at the NEC in March again so if you think you are the sort of attractive, engaging, convincing person who can talk perfectly intelligent, well-meaning souls into spending weekends in mud then we would like to hear from you. Secondly the Barn dance is a good way to raise some restoration funds but we also run our Leader Training day before it. This looks like being a bit of a bumper session as your committee has had some really top class navel-gazing of late and so we look forward to some interesting debate. Finally there is the Training weekend, which actually might span across two weekends this year as we have had a lot of requests for chipper training (and maybe chainsaw refreshers) and this usually requires a rather different site and time so we may run two events.

And finally...

the Barge Lock in Vines Park, Droitwich

And possibly a first? Does anyone know it we have ever done a WRG wine tasting evening? Just one of the ideas that people have come up to promote the Droitwich Barge Lock Appeal. Maybe see you there for something soft and fruity with an unpretentious nose. Mike Palmer

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What’s next?

What’s happening in 2008

Whether it’s hacking down willows or stripping the willow that you fancy, we’ve got something suitable for you...

But first, what’s happening in what’s left of 2007... By the time you read this it will probably be mid-December and you will be looking forward to stuffing yourself with turkey, opening your pressies, watching all those repeats on TV and... trying to escape from your relatives as soon as possible afterwards! So what better way to do that than on a New Year canal camp! We have a choice of two, running from December 26 to Jan 1 (but you’re welcome to just come for part). The WRG camp is on the Grantham Canal, with Phil Rodwell and Martyn Worsley leading and with Bungle and James Butler in charge of catering. The work will include scrub-bashing, bank protection and carrying on clearing the feeder we started on at the 2006 Bonfire Bash. Best to book via Head Office or www.wrg.org.uk but for last minute bookings just phone the leaders on camp phone ‘A’ 07850 422156 to tell them you’re coming. The second New Year Camp is the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust’s week at Seven Locks, with the work (weather permitting) including bricklaying, hedgelaying, and scrub-bashing. Accommodation is at Foxham Reading Rooms, Di Smurthwaite is cooking, and if you want to come you should contact the leader Rachael Banyard on 01249 892289 or 07767 895244.

The 2008 Barn Dance: March 1 The annual Navvies’ Barn Dance returns to Benson Parish Hall on Saturday 1st March 2008 for a night of fun, fundraising and Bangers & Mash (yes you did read that right). It’s being organised jointly by KESCRG, London WRG and WRG SW and will raise funds for all these groups, but everyone is welcome. No dancing experience is necessary, as the fabulous live band Tumbledown Dick comes equipped with an equally fabulous and very persuasive caller, who will get you on your toes even if you haven’t yet reached the real ale bar! And all of this comes wrapped up in one reasonably priced £12 ticket. The details of the evening are as follows: When: Saturday 1st March 2008, 7.00 - 11.30 pm Where: Benson Parish Hall, Oxfordshire Food: Sausage and Mash Supper included (veggie sausages available) Plus: Raffle and fundraising games. For info: please email me at barndance@kescrg.org.uk Tickets are available now from myself at The Old Post Office, Kiddington, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1BE. Please send a cheque payable to ‘KESCRG’ along with the names of those attending and their preferences for meat/veggie sausages. Directions are available on the WRG website, if you would like a hard copy, please let me know when buying tickets. Accommodation will also be available in usual WRG style in a nearby scout hall at an extra £2 per person, and Sunday breakfast will be available back in the main hall for a further £2. Please include payment if required when buying tickets. I look forward to seeing you all there! Bobby Silverwood

BCN Cleanup: April 5-6 This is our annual effort aimed at keeping the Birmingham Canal Navigations clear of old bikes, trolleys, prams and whatever else we can haul out - one year we found a coffin! This year we’re clearing the Wednesbury Oak Loop, and also the bridgeholes on the Main Line near Wolverhampton - both of which we hope will see some boats in the run-up to the summer’s IWA National Festival at Autherley so our efforts should be appreciated soon. And we’re reliably assured the quality of junk there is up to the usual standard. More details and booking form in the next Navvies, but in the meantime put the date in your diary.

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Bonfire Bash

...in which we find out what goes into running a weekend for 150 people... and the meaning of ‘cavillous’ and ‘contumacious’...

Report from the Wilts & Berks

“Although at the weekends, I’m known as ‘Basher’...” Kes Wordie presents his round-up of the KESCRG 30 Bonfire Bash, with a little help from his friends... The annual WRG re-union – where those for whom summer Canal Camps just weren’t enough can meet up again and ask “which one were you?” – took on a special resonance this year; we said “Happy 30th Birthday, KESCRG!” And, of course, “which one were you?” The place was the North Wilts section of the Funky Wilts ’n’ Berks, the accomm was the less shiny-and-new part of a sprawling school right on the outskirts of Greater Swindonia. There were two sleeping dorms; as ever, those in “noisy” room crashed out drunk at 3am and slept deeply and those in “quiet” went to bed at 11pm and lay awake until 4am thinking “wish he’d stop snoring so loudly”. There was a large mess hall and a super school kitchen with everything except built-in dinner ladies. But we had Alice to sort all that out for us and sort it she did, with a little help from her friends. In fact, it’s all in The Bonfire Bash Plan, written by Ian & Liz Williamson (our leaders) two weeks after the event and reproduced here:

The Bonfire Bash Plan Having agreed, nearly a year ago, to run the Bonfire Bash as part of the KESCRG 30th birthday celebrations, it was fairly obvious that in order to ensure a successful weekend we would need A PLAN!!! With 6 sites and 150 people, it would have to be a good one, in fact, the best. And as we all know, having watched the example of WRG leadership, the best plans are written after the event. So, 2 weeks after the event, we have THE PLAN! Site visit – realise that locals would like us to restore the whole of the North Wilts in a weekend. Spend the next few months, including the Friday night of the weekend, trying to make the amount of work and

number of sites sensible! Thrash out details of the various sites, and find a MUP (Most Useful Person) to run each. Phone starts to ring in August with volunteers!

The Sites:

. Purton Road – the big one.

. . . .

Main job – off side scrub bashing, including a lot of strimming of reeds in the bed & brambles. Chuck everyone at this one, point Richard Cool at co-ordinating it. Other “just-jobs” include tree and hedge and fence planting – a perfect job for Bush Baby to lead. The under bridge stop plank job – this involves mud, construction, frustration and machines... Ideal MUPs seem to be Eddie, Steve & Daddy Cool. The clay bund job – Nic will do it but we’ll have to bribe him – with girlies on his team and the experienced Adam ‘Digger’ Morris! Chainsaw team – guess what they have to do? 7 Locks – Saturday only – concrete pour on the offside wall of lock 4. Needs confident dumper drivers and folks who know the site. Ed Walker & team to lead this. Stepping Stones Bridge – continue the work in progress – Martin Thompson knows the site well, give him some bricklayers and let him get on with it! Hayes Knoll Lock – fixing leaks with clay, after digging a lot of mud out. Suggest BITM Dave and team – and anyone else who wants to get really, really muddy! Latton Basin – small area needing some heavy duty scrub bashing. Sounds like a small but hardy crew led by Welsh Phil.

The other stuff: Find Accommodation – and then find alternatives, twice, when it falls through. Eventually Rachael finds fantastic school in Swindon. Make sure we have someone to check people in, and folks to turn up early and organise things. Talk someone into being cook – actually, get talked into letting Alice do it! And we didn’t even have to buy her drinks!

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Bennett, Eddie Jones, Ed Walker, James Butler, Bungle, Geezer Chris, Jenny Black. To the locals – Rachael, Ray, Dave Warren, Doug Small, Luke Walker. Accommodation team – Alice, Eli, Cath, Jude, Izzy and the rest of the kitchen crew, and WRG committee and others who made lunch. To Kingsdown School and their caretakers for looking after us. And finally, to all of you who turned up and made it a highly successful weekend.

So what was it like, out on site?

Kate Penn

Yours truly, Mr. Wordie, trogged off early on the Saturday in a team led by Dr. Ed Walker to do some serious concreting at Seven Locks. This is an ongoing thing down there, as the locals work quickly to build up the brick facia and concrete block perma-shutterThe concreting job at Seven Locks ing so that the likes of us can fill the space Remember that with 5 sites you need 5 between them with lots of luscious readysets of lunch, 5 brew kits, 5 first aid kits, mix. We saddled-up our dumpers and actransport, water, and the right tools in the cepted the readymix straight from the lorries right place! Also, check that folks who you out in Trow Lane, drove up the towpath to think can drive vans and trailers actually have Lock 4, crossed the bund to The Other Side, tacho cards and are sober in the morning! and emptied the concrete into the digger Spend a lot of time emailing Bungle & bucket. It was then swivelled ‘round by ace Just Jen writing plans about van and trailer pilot Jimmy B and popped into the backfill logistics. Locate all that extra kit that really space. At the bottom of all this was banksdoesn’t “just turn up” like boxes of bowsaws man Nigel and Kate, who spent most of the and spare tirfors. Note to self, never assume day lying over a wall pointing the Vibratey that Aldermans turning up in Land Rovers Poker into the gloop. Later, we, did a little will actually have a working tow hitch belight scrub-bashery to prepare for hedging tween them! Have a vague idea where the work, and Liz put on a little small-and-convans need to end up afterwards! Ensure there trolled number, next to which we sat and is no rain for at least two weeks before event melted, wondering what was happening back and fabulous sunshine for Saturday, then on the North Wilts and what was for dinner. grey Sunday am to make sure everyone Well, the answer to the first question appreciated Saturday’s weather. comes from ‘Marshmallowman’ Nic, who Most importantly get Nic to order and takes up the story... bring the beer! Organise evening entertainOnce again the full force of KESCRG ment – slides from Roy & Martin, PA kit by recruitment came into play after several pints Eddie Jones, WRG song book and other folk of beer and cider had been consumed. Dr. Liz songs led by Bungle & Eddie & Mk2. has become so well honed at this skill that I didn’t realise I had agreed until well after the event. Some key players were recruited; And afterwards... there was talk of using an excavator, so Try to make sure vans, trailers and people needless to say it would have been rude not get home OK. Reject the more ridiculous to have Digger amongst the team. Thanks ideas of vans loaded onto trailers and trailers Digger for the excellent work – we won’t on other trailers but dumpers on trailers are mention the blade ever again! OK – however make sure tyres are at proper Our brief given on Friday, (again after pressure: 100psi! Get home, have bath, have several pints had been consumed so I’m glad curry, wash hundreds of t-towels. Write it was written down) was, (1) Investigate a thank you’s. Finally, write THE PLAN. Clay Bund just before the aqueduct to find Some thank you’s: To all our MUPS – suspected leaks, said leaks then to be reAlan Wiffen, Dave Worthington, Mitch, Welsh paired and then to pile in front of the bund Phil, Dave from BITM, Martin Thompson, Nic and backfill with clay between the bund and

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David Miller

the pile to make it watertight. (2) if time like a well oiled machine, with Digger perpermits, there was an uphill overflow pipe suading the piles into the clay with... erm... a which needed re-educating to become a well oiled machine! The result was a line of downhill overflow pipe. We started off on pile as straight as an arrow - in between Saturday morning. We found site, we piling there was puddling to backfill with clay found machines, I had the job explained by foot. There was definitely no clay fighting the night before so just needed to sort the as I imposed strict discipline at all times - as materials and get an on site description of you can imagine. Fun, frolic and any form of the job. A very good explanation of the innuendo or smut were swiftly and harshly job... then the penny dropped - the job we dealt with. Anyway, by the end of the first were having explained, while bearing a day, we had the piles in and had puddled remarkable resemblance, was not actually some, but found the foot technique to be one we had a written brief on... “Are you inadequate despite some very deep thrusting sure there isn’t another bund?” “Oh, well down the gap at the back of the line of piles there is the one the other end of site...” so (I just know that should be edited out... as off we trekked. should be the video footage), the gap being There then followed a short phase of too narrow for the clay to get down effecheel kicking while waiting for the fine details, tively and seal. The decision was taken to despite trying distraction therapy with a brief use the machine to trench out behind the pile spell of Sloe Picking, Cookie Craig couldn’t but it was late in the day and time to retire be held back any longer so we unleashed for a hot shower [how did he manage him on some scrub. Meanwhile we also THAT? KW] and refreshment. needed to get the piling so up The next morning off the long path we trekked, we walked, and walked, and stopping briefly for a coffee as walked... Digger tracked and it was conveniently placed by lost the rest of his fillings. the piling. Digger had now Then we walked we walked, freed up the excavator from and walked, and walked to doing other jobs, so he got a get the Brick Saw to trim the ride and we all walked, Digger piles that had not driven in as got the short straw though as deeply and used the off-cuts after tracking down the path, to complete the line. The all 30 miles of it (or so it trenching went very well seemed), he needed most of Reed-bashing at Purton Rd indeed, giving more of a his fillings replaced. There was realistic space to backfill and some exploratory excavation to find the clay a more reliable seal. A combination of mabed of the canal, a bit more humming and chine and foot were used (not at the same harring, then lunch. We looked over the time). Digger jumped out the cab to help suspected leaks, explored the area and took and we discovered he didn’t actually have an executive decision that excavation of the tracks for legs as we had come to believe! existing bund was (a) going to take a very The incredibly straight piling was an art form long time indeed (b) excess to requirements and one which all the team contributed to, (as we were doing a significant repair in unfortunately by the time the machine had front anyway) (c) going to make an ’orrible been used for compacting the clay it was mess and leave the bund unusable even as slightly more abstract than linear. an informal crossing and walkway for quite a We levelled off the existing bund to a long time. firm ground and took more clay/earth from The afternoon was a lot more producthe bed behind to build up the level of the tive, with a great team effort from all, Louise bund edge to the top of piles (to ensure the & Shantelle (great boot work), Jenny the Vet safety of anyone should they be daft enough & AJ (great footwork and er... massage), to fall onto them). Being fairly late in the day Craig, Ernie and Digger, Steve B, Sleepy and as the overflow pipe was cast iron it was Dave (great everything), and not a blonde decided that there was inadequate time to do amongst them Liz! (If I left anyone out it’s this careful work without significant risk of not because you were not valued, just that I fracture so we had to content ourselves with wrote this at 1.30am, sorry). We all pulled the main job well done. Well that’s my vertogether with positioning the piling, it was sion of what happened...

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Or as Louise put it: “We poked with * Note to WRG Girlies – just in case machinery to give it some extra force, things you have to attend a wedding as a guest and got sticky for a while but we all worked hard happen to have forgotten your outfit – together and achieved something beautiful. scarily, one can easily be put together from After that we also repaired some Canal the collective girls – I was too scared to ask Thingy.” the boys even though they offered…. According to AJ: “Great time had by all, a And the answer to the second question bit of waiting around for equipment to arrive, was lasagne (hooo, yesss!), but not before eating sweets (courtesy of Craig) and clay such delights as discovering that there wasn’t fights! [er, I must have been away at that any hot water and there was yet another fine point!! ...NB] but once the equipment arrived selection of fine ales and ciders, victualled by we got a lot done! Good job everyone!” Nic, the previous night provision having The final result was something we taken a bit of an, er, bashing. The evening’s could all walk (or track) away from and feel ents began with Roy Sutton’s slideshow – proud of. It just goes to show a good time thirty years of KESCRG, wonderful stuff – can be had while getting the job done well! and continued via stewed apple and custard But that wasn’t all that was happening on into Martin Ludgate’s slideshow of the year’s the N Wilts. There was ‘Bonking & Whipping London WRG activity. The Hon. Pres. of with Bush and her Scrubbers’ as Viv reports... KESCRG and star of quite a few of Roy’s The Location: Above the newly slides, Ken Parish, visited us to socialise and formed embankment at Purton Road Bridge QA the beer. Out in the corridor, it was the The Team: Bush – she was in charge; Non-Stop Accordion Party Mix, and back in Sophie – she didn’t know any better – it was the “quiet” dorm, it was Pass Out In A PudDr. Liz’s fault; Viv – otherwise Bush wouldn’t dle, a kind of one-man party game, I believe. talk to her ever again otherwise (even Sunday was spent Dealing With Diffithough she disappeared to a wedding*); cult People, according to Sophie, who Chris – was told there were girls there; Steve brings us her ever-unique take on things... – still grateful for chocolate ‘bling’ pudding What is it about canal restoration which from the summer camp; Harri T – likes attracts the cantankerous, the curmudgeonly, hawthorn plants; Paul – wanted an easy day! and the crazy? A person usually has to get The task: on a night bus to meet the kind of nutters who show up at your average dig. Anyone remove heras fencing would think social maladjustment and a keen plant hawthorn whips in a line in front of interest in inland waterways went hand in where fencing was work out where hawthorn whips are to go hand (but which is cause and which effect?) bonk scaffold poles into ground WRG’s approach to marshalling their contumareinstate heras fencing by attaching to cious army? To give them sharp-bladed tools and send them into a situation in which they scaffold poles plant more hawthorn whips in a controlneed to co-operate with each other. It’s a miraled, yet random, pattern cle no-one is murdered. Luckily I’ve been on a sandbags…we’re not going to talk about it course on Dealing With Difficult People, so but well done Steve! you didn’t see me smacking the Cavillous Pick sloes Local round the head with a scaff spanner although many of us were sorely tempted. Take arty photos of teasels Equipment: There reaches A piece of string – how a point in every dig where you just long is a piece of string? The same have to turn away length as a piece of from the bickering and contradictory heras fence of course! A bonker instruction and get A scaff spanner on with the task in hand. Possibly with Traffic tape Ingredients for concrete a bit of grumbling The verdict: Task about ‘people ‘Digger’ pushes in a nice straight line of standing staring at successful with no minor or piles under the watchful eye of Nic major injuries. the bonfire for

. . . .

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David Miller

. . . . . . . . . .


Footnotes Names have been changed to preserve identity but I might as well tell you it was Helena. 2 Plastic cladding to protect young trees. Shame on you if thought it was anything else. Erudite, as ever, Sophie. But what of Helena, of whom you speak? I note that the fact [writes Helena] that I had to plant the tube because of your second fit of sapling rage is not mentioned!! The summary of my work would go as folExtreme accordion-playing lows. Saturday AM: Look for scrub to bash. Find a canal full of water, inaccessible scrub hours when honest folk are doing some below the towpath level (the level to which we were allowed to bash) and some accessible work’. Such as planting the remaining 972 out of 1000 Haw twigs. At 3.45 on Sunday trees painted blue. Saturday Lunch: Discover as the light begins to fade. Sterling work was “blue” means cut down. Saturday PM: With “elite” group (those that could be bothered to done by a small group, many of whom hadn’t had a tea break for hours, getting the leave the fire) begin to cut down blue trees. fragile little whips into the ground as the Sunday AM - Continue to cut down blue trees. Local helpfully told us how we were doing it Get told by local that this is not the priority, get told to go help Di. Di not really in need of help, wrong. It’s often forgotten that we’re doing this as volunteers, rather than as community clear out some previously felled trees then with the elite group, and extras, declare tea break. service for a driving offence. Sunday PM: Haven’t had lunch yet. Di sets us Poor H1, who’d hadn’t had a tea break for several hours, went a bit loco and had to to planting saplings and leaves us to it, obviously assuming that we were intelligent be restrained from planting a row of empty enough to accomplish this task. Other local plastic sheaths2 ‘to fool the Local’. We rearrives, he assumes we aren’t, first words are sisted the urge to dump his wretched whips behind a hedge and go see if there were any “Is there a reason that they are all at 45 biscuits left. I did find some release in throw- degrees?” Yes, they are saplings and the plastic tube is heavy for them to support. Later reing one of the bloody things into the canal turns to tell us where we should be putting the though. Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, I’ll send saplings, exactly where we were digging the you the 17p if you like. It was worth it. holes until he stopped us doing work. Extreme behaviour witnessed at the Bash: Cheese-hungry chavs breaking into the Also on Sunday, I found myself assisting (in a dumper-piloting capacity) the Stop kitchens to steal the vegetarian sandwich Plank Crew led by Mr. Jones and featuring fillings. [But they can’t have been veggie as they also nicked some meat. ...KW] the Aldermans, Stephen Davis and Mrs. Jones. There is a navigable culvert under the One couple (who weren’t working or drinking hard enough during the day, as they still Purton Road bridge which has gates at either had the energy) getting up to some mischief end. The plan was to bolt metal stop-plank grooves to the walls and drop gurt big oak on a thermarest in one dorm whilst honest, planks into them and then do a fair bit of hard-working folk were trying to get some puddling around them and this was achieved kip all around them. by the very, very end of play on Sunday, Two lots of personal equipment (not the safety kind) flapping about in the dorm for after a fair few digger and dumper movements to ensure the right kind of clay went all to see A dog with separation anxiety howling the into the right hole! All this happened whilst the Western Daily Press took pictures of it. place down as its owner nips inside to Final words must go to Ian & Liz: greet her friends “might do another one in 6 years or soÖ.” Accordion-playing You heard it here first. Glossary Contributions from Nic Bennett, Contumacious - stubbornly perverse or rebellious; wilfully and obstinately disobedient. Helena Howarth, Sophie Smith, Viv Watson and Ian & Liz Williamson, edCavillous – fond of raising irritating and ited by Kes Wordie. trivial objections Ian Williamson

1

. . . . .

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Camp reports Cotswold Canals

...reporting from a week at Eisey Lock and Rucks Bridge on the Thames & Severn Canal...

pers also proclaimed of the existence of “the legend”. A couple so fearless they took on the porcelain polishing and won! The site loos would now look at home in the finest A week of sunshine, shandies and brick London hotels – or at least the whiteness of the bowl would! cleaning in the Cotswolds... I sit considering how to write up my Day 2 started with a cup of tea in bed view of this event. I kept a diary for the first for all, courtesy of the “co-leader” who is clearly seeking redemption following her couple of days with a view to maintaining this for a week. It seems late nights and woeful performance on Sunday (in her desimply having too much fun put paid to that fence she was cooking breakfast!). However plan. But still I feel it would be wrong to not she made a habit of this through the week document this most interesting of experiand I for one think this sort of behaviour ences. And so I trust to memory, a few should be encouraged! The morning only improved with the discovery of blue skies notes and my limited scripting ability to attempt to paint a picture of what it was to and sunshine! However this was tempered by finding a fellow camper shaving his toes Canal Camp in the Cotswolds. in the sink in the toilets. Dextrous fellows Wet weather forecast and heavy overthese canal campers! night rain didn’t bode well for a 20 strong The working day preworking party arriving on site Sunday mornsented more brick cleaning ing. The initial plan - “take a look at the site, (and the formation of a hardy have a wander round and if it is too wet – clique of women called the well we will find something else to do”. HowBrick B*tches – Wee Jen, ever the gods were kind and the weather Angie, Claire, Eileen, Big improved allowing us to progress in many Jen, StomperÖ and Sir areas. As camp virgin I believe I observed my right of passage at brick cleaning school. Clive) followed by The day passed swiftly and spirits were high. bridge demolition with For a time I thought we were being treated James– which was with many observations of the newly relike brick cleaning turned Bustard. However upon striking my only standing up! hand sharply with a skutch hammer I Word is tomorrow is a avoided a possible fine with an observation big brick day for brick of my own! cleaning. Day 2 sort of spilled into day 3 At the day’s end we with an attempt at the retired to a local “who can be the last one to bed” record. watering hole where we ex4.01am was changed tales of achieved and bridge-building remained the that would put record for this particular camp. Alex Guiness to shame and Sadly for me, day 3 excavations that illustrated why would have cut the great escape this was a poor John working on Rucks Bridge demolition plan. That said, by half! Whis-

Rambling of a WRG camp Written by Sir Clive Knight, Lord of Bedford

page 12


“More brick cleaning... followed by bridge demolition... which was like brick cleaning only standing up...”

Camp Reports

Cotswold Canals

pepped up with coffee and custard creams I who you are. The week ended with the last made it through the day unscathed. Sadly night BBQ (thanks Karen for organising a however I failed to make it through the cracking evening of mischief). Interesting evening’s lecture, by Ken, on the canal we how you think you have got to know people were working on. I hear it was a good one! and then you get so much more. There was It is about this salsa dancing thanks to Jen and point in the week that dirty dancing extraordinaire my notes run out and naughty boy Adrian (they are I rely on a shabby planning on entertaining Strictly memory for points to Come Dancing next year) make. As for the pimms drinking by... well everaison d’être - the ryone and much more that can week progressed the never be written in a camp bridge was gradually report - Rick the B*tch! put together and There was some wacky opportunities to demstuff this camper never saw onstrate brick laying before. There were speeches abilities, mortar mixing and thankyous. All in all a and tree felling came terrific week. my way. In addition I Massive thanks to Ken was particularly Burgin, local coordinator, and “Ask Frank” pleased to have a go Karen Shaw who let the ladies at “tirfor-ing” with of the camp use her fantastic Stomper, Digs and One Can Chris. This is the shower facilities. And also thanks must go to act of extracting a root from the ground using Frank: without his supervision and cooking nothing more than a steel cable and a hand we would have been lost and hungry! pumped winch. It sounds so dull but is pecuFor any technical questions regarding liarly satisfying. Especially for one who has dug the camp please email askfrank@wrg.org.uk. and axed for days with less success in the past! Clive Knight Whilst I was gaining much satisfaction PS This happy camper got home and duly pulling and pumping another group worked booked another camp! on clearing the overflow weir at Eisey Lock -both Clive (the other one) and Rach spent much of their time in this muddy ditch clearing earth and getting very dirty (they definitely deserved a pint or rather jug of pimms for their efforts at the end of the camp!) Work also continued on Rucks Bridge with Sian the Silence and Rob B laying bricks meticulously to ensure there work was up to the supervisors’ standards. The comedy continued courtesy of some outstanding personalities. To name names would be unfair but you know The ‘Brick Bitches’

page 13


Camp reports

KESCRG on the Wilts & Berks ‘Oh Mr Craig!’ A tribute to Jane Austen

Is this a first? A Canal Camp report written in the style of Jane Austen...

Chapter II

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a group of WRGies in possession of a disused canal must be in want of good food and beer (and showers).

Sunday saw a leisurely start to the day, with many wishing to remain abed longer than was permissible. However due to the sterling efforts of Miss Vivian, Mr Alderman and Mr Walker early on, the pump was theoretically working by the time rest of the party arrived. Lord Richardson saw the wisdom of creating the post of flight case attendant from amongst his staff, after displaying uncharacteristic forgetfulness. The morning’s activities constituted various preparatory tasks and the afternoon continued in the same vein. After a few moments vigorous exercise, declaring themselves too fatigued, Miss Lauren Proctor and Miss Rose de Winton observed the exertions of Mr Worthington, Mr Vie, Mr Wickett and Miss Jane Phillips lifting blocks. Alterations to the scaffolding were ordered, whilst Miss Rowena Gaskell received further instruction in the art of excavating. A fine roast supper had been prepared for the weary labourers upon their return before their inevitable departure to the local tavern.

Chapter I With the dawning of Saturday, Lord Richardson and Lady Penn welcomed guests to their humble estate in the enchanting county of Wiltshire. After settling in to their lodgings in the Foxham Reading Rooms, entertainment was provided by the substitution of the safety DVD (note DVD not video – what modern times we live in!) by Casino Royale. Mr Ireson escorted several eager members of the party on a tour of the local canal, detailing interesting features such as the floating rabbit hutch. Mrs Wilson, the delightful cook, had surpassed herself creating an exquisite meal with the assistance of Mr Powell. After all had partaken of the fine refreshment, Lord Richardson led his guests to the Foxham Inn, where a pleasant evening was spent getting acquainted.

Rowena Gaskell

Chapter III

“A few moments vigorous exercise”

page 14

An earlier embarkation to site had been decreed favourable for Monday, with Mr Williamson and his Land Rover companions preceding the main party. Lord Richardson took one of the glorious red carriages to Zebedees for maintenance, but to his displeasure was told ‘to return 8am Wednesday, kind sir’. Following a tiring morning digging in the horrid clay, the ankles of Miss Lauren and Miss Rose were declared to be ‘Six inches deep in mud’. Such indifference to decorum was not to be tolerated and they retired to cleaning bricks – a more fitting activity for young ladies. Mr Todd, Mr Vie, Mr Wickett and Mr Ireson were then able to continue digging unhindered before joining Miss


“The sun graced the site with its golden rays, which allowed for an enterprising day...”

Camp Reports

KESCRG on the Wilts & Berks

Rowena, Lady Penn, Mr Nicolas Bennett and Mr Mark Bennett cleaning more bricks. Afternoon tea was interrupted for the arrival of Mr and Mrs Edward Jones, who immediately joined the others in fussing over the dogs. Unfortunately Mr Jones acquired a traumatic injury within half an hour of his appearance on site. After consuming the delicious repast awaiting them, the party enjoyed an evening of innocent frivolity. Some visited the local folk society, whilst at the manor the rest of the company engaged in the new jigsaw fad.

Chapter IV

Rose (with apologies, but it is true). The construction of these architectural masterpieces was expedited by the tireless endeavours of Mrs Jones, Miss Jane and Mr Wickett who made a splendid mixing team. Taking leave of site early, allowed ample preparation time for the planned foray along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Hampers of tempting delicacies accompanied the expedition onto the delightful narrowboat, ensuring all had full stomachs before they sojourned to the Foxham Inn.

Chapter VI

The sun graced the site with its golden rays, which allowed for an enterprising day. Final Tuesday brought with it the first of the truly inclement weather, but nobly work contin(fated) plans were made by site leader Mr ued. Vast numbers of bricks arrived and were Williamson and Lady Penn, and Lord Richardson was pleased with progress in the round. looked after by Lord Richardson, Mr Robert, Mr Jones, Mrs Williamson and their dumpers. However a disgraceful departure from propriety occurred with the christening of the Meanwhile great progress was made digging more horrid clay to make an even day as “Strapless Thursday”. It would have been far more seemly to have replicated the bigger hole and preparation for the brickwork commenced, supervised by Mr Brother- ingenious tarpaulin device that shaded the ston and Mr Clayton. Mr Sutton meanwhile block team, protecting them from frightful strap marks. made adept adjustments to the old wall. Later Miss Rachael Banyard and Miss Di Smurthwaite organised the great skittles competition, including a backwards bowling round – which was a truly felicitous occasion.

Wednesday heralded the arrival of Mr and Mrs Brian Amos, and further demolition and construction at the seven locks site. Mr Nicolas Bennet, Lady Penn, Mr Miller and Mr Vie began fabricating the block wall, their efforts were “tolerable, we suppose” but could not compare to the simply astounding edifice erected nearby by Miss Lauren and Miss

Rowena Gaskell

Chapter V

“A simply astounding edifice” (in other words, a brick wall)

page 15


Camp reports

“...the young ladies could barely contain their excitement at the planned excursion to Bath...”

KESCRG on the Wilts & Berks Casino Royale was finally shown to a captive audience in its entirety, Mr Craig was acknowledged by some to be a very fine and agreeable young gentleman, whilst Miss Green was declared by others to be a sweet girl. Great forethought meant that the assembled were well sustained by popcorn. For the less cultured the film was ignored in preference of more puzzles!

Chapter VII

Ian Williamson

Owing to the incessant rain the previous night coupled with the inability of some to

swim, it was decided that work was to be suspended on Friday. Some of the young ladies could barely contain their excitement at the planned excursion to Bath. A day of merriment was spent visiting the wonderful Jane Austen Centre and several other respectable establishments selling delicious confectionery. It was only at the close of the diverting day, that it became apparent just how great the rainfall had been; with the trains suspended, the party was forced to get a taxi carriage back. Meanwhile those who had remained were more acutely aware of the problems caused by the copious precipitation, which had led to worrying levels of flooding at the manor! However the cessation of the rain in the early evening allowed for a final night barbecue and more jigsaws! Mr Jones delighted the company with his musical talents, playing his accordion and there were general speeches and toasts for a successful camp!

Above: the offside wall with demolition completed and rebuilding under way. Below: the same scene after Friday’s

Chapter VIII On Saturday all the guests were able to depart on delayed trains and flooded roads, after the staff had performed their duties wonderfully cleaning the accommodation and kit before handing over to Miss Rachael and Miss Di for the next camp.

Liz Williamson

Postscript

page 16

The authoresses would like congratulate Lord Richardson and Lady Penn for a splendid camp and pray that they are blessed with more fortuitous weather next time! Rosie DeWinton Lauren Proctor


Reporting from the first Canal Camp at the Nynehead Boat Lift on the Grand Western Canal... Nynehead Camp Report Day One, Saturday 20 October An auspicious day Some of England’s finest were collecting to take on the challenge of a lifetime – and much sweat and stamina would be required. But not only was the first day of the WRG Canal Camp at Nynehead in Somerset – there was something about England vs the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup Final as well. Home for the week would be Burlescombe Village Hall which, according to plans displayed on the cork-board, was soon to be demolished before being rebuilt to a luxurious spec. However, in the meantime, WRGies could still enjoy its charming wooden-chalet-style features and ‘Ye Olde’ ambiance of an October night. After the Meetings and Greetings (scarily, everyone except me and one other had canal-camped before) our leaders, Adrian Fry and Jenny Black, gave us the low-

Camp Reports Grand Western Canal

down on the project ahead and let us know what was planned in the name of Inland Waterways: firstly, it was arranged that Mitch would stuff us with her amazing grub; then we’d progress to watching the ruggers on the projector already rigged up in preparation; and, following on from that, a team would be organised in order to hit the pub. Oh, and Adrian also told us that we’d be doing something to the remains of the Nynehead boat lift in the morning. All went according to schedule (save for the score in the Game) and walking the 30 metres home from the pub later on, the stars were dazzlingly bright – truly breathtaking in a chillingly clear night sky (and making the prospect of freezing to the bone in a skimpy sleeping bag a worrying reality). Mitch cooked: a full-on buffet.

Day Two, Sunday 21 October Swing home, sweet chariot

Alan Lines

Woke up (although some claimed they hadn’t actually slept at all) with our breath clearly visible in the Baltic air and a breakfast-spread that was fit for the 5000. After checking-off the checklist of equipment (most of which I’d never even heard of) we piled into the big red vans and headed to site. We would be working on a section of the Grand Western Canal containing a historic boat lift, at the invitation of Dennis Dodd, a local waterways enthusiast/amateur historian/industrial archaeologist/kind-hearted soul. Back in the 1830s, engineer James Green experienced many obstructions and setbacks during the construction of the lift at Nynehead, and the local landowner caused the route of the canal to be altered and complex cuttings and embankments were required to hide it from view. Putting up scaffolding in the lift chamber

page 17


Camp reports Grand Western Canal

However, when the lift was eventually completed it proved commercially successful and remained in operation for nearly 30 years. Today, the Nynehead boat lift is unique among the seven that operated along this challenging stretch of terrain in that it still includes a substantial amount of surviving masonry. We found that, although much work had already been done to clear the bottom of one of the caisson chambers, the sides and top of the construction were covered with dense shrubbery and the whole area was now pretty much a wood. Our main man, Adrian, gave us the full health and safety, helped us on with our hard hats and began organising us into swat teams. There were trees to be felled and scrub to be bashed; there was scaffolding to erect and bonfires to be built. Everyone set to it with gusto. Following more chronic over-eating at dinner, it was down to the local again but not just for beers - there was to be a bit of competitive sport as well. Alan Lines revealed himself to be a right old skittles shark, and was the last man standing in the Sudden Death. Mitch cooked: an industrial-sized pork roast plus all the trimmings and an exquisite nut roast for the lucky veggies

“...There was honestly no better place to be at 10.30am on the 22 October than sitting by the Nynehead boat lift with a plastic WRG mug of tea in one’s hand...” Day Three, Monday 22 October Baa Baa Black Sheep

John Hawkins

It started out as a dank and misty morning, and we shivered and whinged (well, I know I did) on the way to work. But then the sun broke through and one of those magical autumn days of brightest blue emerged. Our surroundings were truly idyllic, and Dennis had made us so welcome on his land that it felt like home. There was honestly no better place to be at 10.30am on the 22 October than sitting by the Nynehead boat lift as shafts of light passed eerily through the smoke from the fires, with a plastic WRG mug of tea in one’s hand. The project was well underway and the difference we had made in a couple of days was staggering. The lumberjack boys had been busy and about 10 trees had already come down; huge Turkey Oaks and Ashes that had created a thick canopy overhead were now blazing heartily, and a clearing was being created. The engineering guys and gals had performed some tricksie manoeuvres of the scaffolding around the base of the lift and the brickwork was now exposed at the top to allow for proper assessment. A crack team of bashers, choppers and pyromaniacs were making regular sweeps of the site to ensure safe movement and keep the fires burning 24/7. By the end of an exhausting but productive day, it seemed the only sensible thing to do was go for a drink (which then turned into a surprisingly difficult word game/ drinking game). Mitch cooked: Rich, warming and spicy curries, supplemented by offerings from the kitchen of Nynehead Lift emerges from the undergrowth the local’s landlord

page 18


Day Four, Tuesday 23 October The day of the diggers No-one saw much of Adrian today. Usually he’d be popping up all over the place, to monitor and advise, to delegate and orchestrate. Yet he seemed to have found his spiritual home in the cabin of a JCB. He was at one with the machine, and barely even got out for tea break. “Men and machines”, sighed Jenny, with a knowing shake of the head. A huge pile of silt and mud that had come out of the bottom of the canal basin during an earlier excavation needed shifting and immense tree stumps had to be hauled onto the fire (where they failed to burn). By this time, there were enough logs on the woodpile to keep Dennis warm for many a winter, and all of them had to be cut, carried and stacked by the hardy gang. The group divided for the evening activities, with the hardcore off down the pub whilst a splinter group sought their entertainment at the cinema. Not quite sure what John made of it, but the majority were howling with laughter at New Zealand spoofhorror flick Black Sheep. Mitch cooked: Fabulous pasta bake. And Sir Clive Knight made an extraordinary pudding involving Jammy Dodgers, caramel, condensed milk and custard.

history of the canal systems of the West Country and the various designs of boat lifts which evolved in the UK during the Industrial Revolution. He also filled us in on the specifics of the history of the lift at Nynehead, with illustrations of how the lift would have looked in its glory days and describing unusual items found at the site, such as an alphabet plate and rustic leather boots. Later on in the pub, most people proved they had no abilities at playing pool whatsoever. And it got a bit messy. Mitch cooked: Her famed lasagne

Day Six, Thursday 25 October Last orders Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for the final day. But I can imagine that the comrades demonstrated great grit and determination to finish off the job properly (before finishing off themselves off properly down the pub). The verdict? Surely the best holiday you can have for six quid a day and a massive thank you to WRG, to Adrian and Jenny and to all who took part! Mitch cooked: something spectacular, no doubt!

The wrgies continued their hard graft with satisfying results. By the end of the morning, the top of the lift was clear of vegetation and shrubs and the scaffolding could come down (ahead of schedule). To access the trickier areas, some brave individuals had found themselves perched on 20ft-high ladders wielding mini-scythes or balancing on the precipice above (only if authorised to do so, naturally). In the afternoon, those who “wanted a go” were instructed by Adrian on how to control the JCB and those who didn’t happily toasted marshmallows on the embers and tried (unsuccessfully) to avoid being caught in compromising poses by Alan and his candid camera. Before the sun went down, the group visited a couple of sites that WRG had worked on last year, including the impressive lime kilns and a new boat slipway. And to finish off an action-packed day, Dennis gave a highly informative talk on the

Alan Lines

Day Five, Wednesday 24 October He’s a very naughty boy

Bungle wears his pulling pants

page 19


Navvies diary

Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 0720

Grantham Canal Camp: New Year Camp. Scrub clearance, landscaping an

Dec 26-Jan 1 W&BCT

Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: New Year Camp. Scrub bashing and hedge lay Leader: Rachael Banyard, Cook: Di Smurthwaite.

Jan 1 Tue

Navvies

Press date for issue 227: including Canal Societies directory

Jan 6 Sun

WRG

Committee & Board Meetings

Jan 12/13

wrgNW

Chesterfield Canal

Jan 12/13

London WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Jan 12/13

KESCRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

Jan 12/13

NWPG

Basingstoke Canal: Dig Deep project

Jan 12/13

wrgSW

Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Yarkhill

Jan 19/20

wrgBITM

Cotswold Canals: Towpath clearance near Stroud

Jan 19 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Feb 2/3

London WRG To be arranged: possibly Wendover Arm?

Feb 9/10

KESCRG

Lichfield Canal

Feb 9/10

NWPG

Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project

Feb 16/17

wrgBITM

Droitwich Canals: to be confirmed

Feb 16/17

wrgNW

Hollinwood Canal

Feb 16/17

wrgSW

Grand Western Canal

Feb 23/24

London WRG Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

Feb 23 Sat

wrgNW

Mar 1/2

WRG/KESCRGBarn Dance: and Leaders training event

Mar 2 Sun

WRG

Committee & Board Meetings: at Benson, the day after the Barn dance an

Mar 8/9

wrgNW

To be arranged

Mar 8/9

KESCRG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

Mar 8/9

NWPG

Wey & Arun Canal

Mar 15/16

wrgBITM

Grantham Canal

Mar 15/16

London WRG Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project

Mar 15/16

wrgSW

Cotswold Canals

Mar 15-22

Camp 0801

Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: Steppingstones Bridge

Mar 22-29

Camp 0802

Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: Steppingstones Bridge

Mar 29 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Apr 5/6

WRG/IWA

BCN Cleanup: led by London WRG plus BCNS and local IWA but everyone

Apr 5/6

London WRG BCN Cleanup

Apr 5/6

NWPG

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project

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

page 20


Canal Camps cost ÂŁ42 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 0801') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk

d bank protection. Leader: Phil Rodwell; assistant: Martin Worsley enquiries@wrg.org.uk

ying.

Rachael Banyard

01249-892289

Martin Ludgate

020-8693-3266

martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk

Mike Palmer

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Helen Gardner

07989-425346

barndance@kescrg.org.uk

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Rick Barnes

07976-748345

rick.barnes@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Nick Coolican-Smith

Mitch Gosna

nd Leaders Training Mike Palmer

David McCarthy

e welcome: see p7 and book using form

0161-740-2179 01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email: dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk.

page 21


Navvies diary

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 Canal SocietiesÂ’ regular monthly or West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 weekly working parties NWPG: 9:00pm on 3rd Tue of month at the Please send amendments to Dave 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Wedd (address on previous page) Graham Hawkes 0118 941 0586 3rd Sunday of month BCNS Jeff Barley 01543-373284 2nd Sunday & following Thurs BCS Buckingham area Athina Beckett 01908-661217 Anytime inc. weekdays BCT Aqueduct section Gerald Fry 01288-353273 Every Sunday ChCT Various sites Mick Hodgetts 01246-620695 Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe 0121-608 0296 Last Sunday of month EAWA N Walsham & Dilham David Revill 01603-738648 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Langley Mill Michael Golds 0115-932-8042 Second Sun of month FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech 0116-279-2657 2nd weekend of month GCRS Grantham Canal Colin Bryan 0115-989-2248 2nd Sat of month GWCT Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd 01823-661653 Tuesdays H&GCT Oxenhall Brian Fox 01432 358628 Weekends H&GCT Over Wharf House Maggie Jones 01452 618010 Wednesdays H&GCT Over Wharf House Wilf Jones 01452 413888 Weekends H&GCT Hereford Aylestone Martin Danks 01432 344488 Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 01663-732493 1st Saturday & 3rd Wed. IWA Ipswich Stowmarket Navigtn. Colin Turner 01473-730586 2nd Sunday of month LCT Lancaster N. Reaches Paul Shaw 01524-35685 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat LHCRT Lichfield Sue Williams 01543-671427 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Hatherton Denis Cooper 01543-374370 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Paul Waddington 01757-638027 2nd Sunday of month SCARS Sankey Canal Colin Greenall 01744-731746 1st Sunday of month SCCS Combe Hay Locks Bob Parnell 01225-428055 Most weekends SHCS Basingstoke Peter Redway 01483-721710 2nd Sunday of month SNT Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby 01522-856810 1st weekend of month SUCS Newhouse Lock Mike Friend 01948-880723 Every Tuesday morning TMCA Brian Macnish 01732-823725 Every Sunday & Thurs WACT varied construction Eric Walker 023-9246-3025 Mondays (2 per month) WACT tidying road crossings John Empringham 01483-562657 Tuesdays WACT Tickner's Heath Depot Colin Gibbs 020-8241-7736 Wednesdays WACT maintenance work Peter Jackman 01483-772132 Wednesdays WACT Loxwood Link Peter Wilding 01483-422519 Thursdays WACT Winston Harwood Grp Laurie Wraight 01903-721404 Saturdays WACT Conservation Group David Jessop 01403-269384 Various dates WACT Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols 01403-753882 1st w/e of month (Fri-Mon) WAT Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman 01442-874536 2nd Thursday of month WAT Drayton Beauchamp Pete Bowers 01255-504540 Every weekend WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Rachael Banyard 01249-892289

Abbreviations used in Diary BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CCT DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS K&ACT

page 22

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

KESCRG LCT LHCRT NWPG PCAS SCARS SCCS SHCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT W&BCC

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


You really do need to get yourself a digital tachograph card if you’re going to carry on towing... unless you’re planning on buying RFB...

Transport

Wanna buy a van?

News from the Transport team Part 1:

News from the transport team part 2:

Hands up all those who think they can tow trailers with wrg vans. OK now if you don’t have a digital tachograph card put your hand back down! As you may be aware, for the past couple of years we have been buying vans with digital tachographs and we are now at the stage where (out of the vehicles used on the main canal camps circuit) only RFB is left with an analogue one. The decision has been taken to replace RFB sometime this winter or spring so from next March (and possibly earlier) you MUST have a digital tachograph card to tow with WRG vans. Getting one of these cards is really simple. You don’t have to have a photocard licence (although you can apply for one at the same time if you want to). Simply ring 0850 1074110 and follow the automated system. A few days later the application pack will drop through your letterbox. Fill the form in [and note the bit where it says your signature must fit entirely within the box for it to be valid. ...Ed], enclose a cheque and a passport photo (if applicable), and hey presto a card will soon be yours. Even better, let Jenny Black at head office know you have done it and WRG will refund the cost! For

Observant types will have noticed in part 1 that we are selling RFB. Technically we are selling the van, whilt the registation R10RFB will live on as a new Ford Transit for next season. Although now starting to get a bit tired for the number of miles we do in it each year, it would be ideal for a local society or group who need a 9 seat crewbus (alternatively it could easily be converted back to 6 or even 3 seats). Specification is: 1997 Red Diesel Ford Transit (recently re-sprayed), equipped with a heavy duty Safety Bar rear bumper with tow hitch, three rows of three seats (all with belts) and a tachograph. The plan is to sell it around Spring 2008 with a full year’s MOT, so if you know someone who may be interested, get in contact with us by email to bungle@wrg.org.uk). George ‘Bungle’ Eycott

sale: one careful owner

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Letters

to the editor

The Chichester issue: should we be looking to the future of canal restoration in fifty years’ time? Or should we be looking to find something else to fill Navvies with?

Dear Martin I have barely finished reading your editorial (Navvies 225) and I already have my digits pounding the keyboard in response. As someone who has been sitting on the sidelines since 1987 (well I did emigrate to America that year) I have had to make do with a distant ringside seat watching in envy as canal after canal has been restored and opened for public consumption (not literally I hasten to add). If one were to take all this restoration to the extreme, that means in the long-distant future every canal will be restored and even those nineteenth century designs on the drawing boards will also be built. Is this a good thing? Yes! The country isn’t getting physically any smaller; however no-one has said let’s stop populating, or let’s stop all immigration to the UK. No, there’s going to be more and more people living here. What does that mean, a distinct lack of quality of life issues. How does one measure quality of life? One important way is how much open space does everyone get to play in. A fifteenth story balcony doesn’t quite cut it. And a lot of countryside is off-limits as farming land, forestry land, not to mention those sites of special scientific interest. One way out is to utilize canals as providing multiple roles for people and their quality of life needs, such as long and short distance hiking routes, safe pedestrian traffic routes in urban areas, fishing, biking where appropriate - and of course boating. Canal restoration and recreational use ought to be promoted in this way, and integrated into the larger issues of how society functions and will function in the future. So, Martin, I think you need to be championing a much longer term view, looking at the next 25 - 50 years and what kind of society do we want to live in and how our canals can play a role in that future. I believe this is what people both inside and outside of the Chichester Ship Canal Trust should be thinking about. Jeremy G Frankel ex-London WRG, Berkeley, California Dear Martin Without wishing to unduly interfere in the affairs of another canal trust, sadly Richard Plowman’s response in Navvies 225 contains some misleading statements which require clarification. The Trust began life as the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal Society and only changed its name at a later date. It is therefore highly appropriate that the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal should form part of its objectives, for this was the intention of its founders – to restore the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal, of which the Chichester Ship Canal was a major branch. There never was a Portsmouth part of the canal. Presumably what is being referred to is the Portsea Canal which continued the route from Chichester Harbour into Portsmouth; this closed soon after completion as it contaminated the local drinking water with salt water. It was subsequently replaced by a navigable cut across the top of what is now Portsmouth island to give direct access to the port itself and this cut is still in use. I entirely agree with your editorial comments on the subject. It would be a sad day if the Wey & Arun Canal Trust adopted a similar attitude because of the loss of the Bramley section to redevelopment in the 1950’s and 60’s; does that make this canal restoration ‘impossible’? We don’t think so. As you say, the Huddersfield was redeveloped in Stalybridge, but is now reopened and the Hereford & Gloucester and Uttoxeter Canals subsequently became railways, as did the Oakham – all lost causes? Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust, Chesterfield Canal Trust, Barnsley, Dearne & Dove Canal Trust and the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust would all, I am sure, challenge the idea of redevelopment being insurmountable. As a member of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, I am aware that the Trust is very uneasy

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...in which case can somebody start writing some letters to the Editor about a few other subjects besides Chichester for the next issue? Please?

Letters

to the editor

about the implications of this resolution. The last IWAAC ‘priorities’ report listed the Wey & Arun Canal as of ‘National’ importance when taken in conjunction with the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal; indeed the Chichester Ship Canal itself is of ‘Regional’ importance when taken in conjunction with the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal. If all mention of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal were to be deleted now, where would that leave both trusts? I believe that, if the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal were to be abandoned by the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, then a new Portsmouth and Arundel Canal Trust would be required to cover it and this would inevitably lead to a split in the available support and funding for the two trusts. Would it not be better for one trust to cover both and perhaps set up a sub-committee to maintain a watching brief on the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal to prevent any further loss and promote what remains, with a view to possible future restoration when the Chichester Ship Canal project is completed? Yours sincerely, Brian Andrews Dear Martin Regarding your editorial view of the current termoil within the Chichester Ship Canal Trust. I agree that optimism is a basic requirement for any involved in waterway restoration, but the pros and cons of a society’s own aspirations should be for the Trust itself to resolve, or do I see months of letters published in Navvies publicly debateing their internal politics, in the main to the boredom or the majority readers? Navvies is an excellent vehicle to inform others of the progress or frustrations of restoration work across the country and I see it as an ‘at the coalface’ hands on publication, not a debating medium for those with particular axes to grind, which should be confined to the Trusts’ own newsletters or a wider platform such as IWA Waterways magazine. Although this type of debate is good for filling pages (I also have struggled to find material to fill space in the past) please don’t let our publication be hi-jacked by the personal in-fighting of society members with their own agenders. An opening prayer used by many ‘good cause organisations’ at their meetings goes something like ‘....give us the courage to change the things that need changing, the humility to accept the things we cannot change, but the wisdom to know the difference’. This last phrase should perhaps be kept in mind as regards certain projects, possibly even my own society’s master plan for the Sussex Ouse. Optimism is fine but should always be tempered with practicality and realism Paul Morris I am happy to see (and indeed to join in) discussion about what people would like to see in the magazine. Especially if it is constructive discussion (such as the correspondence a couple of years ago that got the ‘progress’ section going again), and even more so if it comes with the occasional offer to contribute something that might be of interest to the readership. However I take issue with the implication that I used the Chichester issue to fill empty pages in Navvies. Issue 225 was 40 pages - that’s four more than a standard issue, although not quite up to the bumper-sized 224. I could have left it all out and kept it down to the usual 36. I chose to include Simon Couzens’ letter because I thought he made some serious points, I included a reply from the Trust because I felt that they should have the right to reply to his criticisms, and I covered it in my editorial because I thought (rightly or wrongly) that there were important issues raised - the Wey & Arun angle, surprise that any group seemed to be lowering its sights when others are raising theirs, and concern that failure to reach an acceptable compromise was putting a project at risk. You might disagree with my choice, but please don’t accuse me of using it to fill space. ...Ed

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Progress

...on the W&A and MBB...

Our roundup of progress around the country’s restoration projects begins in the Deep South on the Wey & Arun Canal

A wash-out alongside an overflow sluice at Tickners Heath on the Wey & Arun Canal caused a major breach in the canal bank which was successfully repaired by WRG BITM during a recent weekend dig. Forty tonnes of sticky clay had been delivered to the site in preparation for a tiring operation to clean out and then puddle the clay into the eroded trench. Due to the presence of a medium voltage cable in the bottom of the trench (the backfill to this excavation probably causing the original weakness in the bank) all reinstatement had to be carried out by hand. The sealing of the bank was assisted by the use of bentonite sheeting at critical sections and liberal use of bentonite powder mixed with the clay. This work should enable water levels in the pound to return to normal with the winter rains. The weekend activities were not confined to ‘barrowing and tamping’ however as members also undertook towpath clearance work and bricklaying to form a generator housing at the Trust’s Tickners Heath depot. 21 weary volunteers then dispersed to all parts of the country on Sunday evening to have a well-earned rest. Graham Baird

Paul Hindle

Wey & Arun Canal: BITM get stuck in!

The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society had another weekend working on the canal on 22-23 September. This time we concentrated on the length at the foot of the six Prestolee (Nob End) Locks, cleaning the copings and setts to beyond Prestolee (Silver Hill) Bridge. This bridge is slightly famous for being used in the closing scenes of the James Mason film Spring and Port Wine (1969). Once again we were assisted by WrgNW. We hope to tackle the locks next March. Paul Hindle

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Paul Hindle

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

WRG NW working on the Manchester Bolton & Bury towpath, and the finished job


Progress

...Sleaford Navigation, Chesterfield, Sussex Ouse ... Sleaford Navigation Sleaford Navigation TrustÂ’s current major project is working to re-create the terminus in Sleaford including replacing a low-level footbridge with a lifting span, and building a new slipway and winding hole. Progress with the footbridge is continuing: there is not a lot to see but much is going on behind the scenes. There are two sevices under the current bridge, water and electricity; the water has been diverted already but the electricity has had to be rethought as the projected route for diversion is under the site of some new offices. The new slipway and winding hole have also started to move forward again with the Trust employing consulting engineers to conduct topographical and soil surveys, and to produce designs and tender documents for the works. Steve Hayes

Chesterfield Canal Although it doesnÂ’t actually involve any progress on the ground, there has been a major step forward in dealing with one of the most difficult problems on the canal. Norwood Tunnel, one of the longest in the country at 2880 yards, is also one of the most badly damaged, thanks to the effects of

Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust have completed excavation of Isfield Lock (see Navvies 224 cover)

The Norwood Tunnel Study is officially launched at the bricked-up east portal opencast and deep-level coal mining. Restoration would have been more of a case of building a new tunnel from scratch. Alternatives suggested have included reusing a nearby disused rail tunnel (which was rumoured to be on a slope, necessitating underground locks!) but a study has now come up with the preferred option. The eastern section of the tunnel is in fair condition and will be restored, following which the canal will emerge into a cutting and climb via two new locks to ground level. It will cross the former Kiveton Park colliery site then climb through a further series of locks to a new short summit. Passing under the M1 using an existing farm culvert, the canal will descend through a third flight of new locks to meet the original line close to the original west portal of the tunnel, near the top of Norwood Locks which will be restored. With a diversion already planned around a housing estate at Killamarsh necessitating two more new flights of locks, the Chesterfield looks set to eventually rival the Huddersfield and Rochdale as one of the most heavily-locked in the country.

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Progress

...the Wendover Arm... s

Roger Leishman describes progress on work to rebuild and reopen one of the leakiest bits of canal on the system

water let in at the November work party. Since the method of working described Wendover Arm Trust has just completed a in the last progress report we have had to very successful ten day work party (Oct 5th to think again. We had hoped to complete the 14th) that has been a very satisfying turning spoil bed over Bentomat lining before placing point in the progress of Phase II (the dry the spoil above the coir rolls so that any length beyond the current limit of navigation) spillage just fell onto the spoil bed. Our of the restoration of the arm. We were ably lining is so watertight that any rain is now assisted by KESCRG and by recruits from caught in the ‘pond’ created by the bed makRAF Halton over the first weekend. ing it too muddy for plant to operate on. We For some time now we have been conare therefore completing both banks and a cerned about the re-growth of briars, poten- mooring bay up to the site of the next temtial saplings and the like on the banks of the porary bund before laying the bed. This Phase II dry bed. BW had offered to flail the means that we are having to protect the banks for us but muddy conditions, then the Bentomat that comes down the bank where it loss of their tractor made this impossible. is exposed at the bottom of the block lining Fortunately for us, RAF Halton offered the with a layer of plastic so that it is clean for services of about 50 of their recruits both on overlapping with the Bentomat on the bed the Saturday and Sunday and they did a superb job clearing the towpath bank from Little Tring to the former pumping station at Whitehouses. On the Saturday and Sunday, KESCRG cut 90 pieces of reinforcement for the concrete slab which is installed to cap the pipe in the canal bed that carried water past the dry length, completed the formwork for block lining, fenced off part of the towpath for building the mooring bay in Stage 1 and worked very hard laying Bentomat waterproof sheeting on the banks, KESCRG covering Bentomat lining with concrete covering it with hollow concrete blocks, blocks, and the completed length ready to re-water mixing concrete and filling the blocks. The Trust’s grateful thanks to KESCRG and the RAF and to Phil Cardy, Mark Gribble, Dave Wedd of WRG (BITM) and Anthony Tidey of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and my thanks in particular to our own volunteers, all of whom helped on various days. At the end of the ten days 30 metres of lining from the Nuttalls bund had been completed, making it 70 metres in all, together with a waterproof bund allowing the re-watering of 60 metres of restored canal that was due to be planted with aquatic plants and the

Grand Union Wendover Arm

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when it is laid, maybe months later. I am sure that we will have further changes but feel that we have surmounted the learning curve for the time being. Nevertheless it has come to my notice that further consultation with James Brindley in Coventry has taken place! Our next task will be to complete the pipe capping for Stage 1 so that the offside bank (that has to be disturbed to lay the pipe capping in most lengths) can be restored over the capping and left as long as possible to consolidate before profiling. At the same time, weather permitting, we will be excavating for the 50 metre towpath mooring bay that starts some 50 metres beyond the completed lining. My last estimate for the cost of Phase II was £620,000 but this was based on spoil filled gabions and did not allow for the very wet weather we have encountered recently. It was also dependent on the results of the trial section at Drayton Beauchamp just completed. The cost of hollow concrete blocks, associated concrete fill and coir rolls against wire gabion cages and spoil fill is significant. My initial shot estimate is that the lining will cost on average around £500 per metre, 2,058 metres = £1,029,000! To this must be added the cost of ancillary works, footbridges, weirs, enlarging the 60ft winding hole at Saxonway Bridge and overheads so a target figure of £1.25m could well be realistic. In round figures, to date we have spent £100,000, have £350,000 in the bank and have Asking James £110,000 yet to come from the BW contribution leaving a further £469,000k to be raised. For this we have mainly been dependent on the annual Festival but the weather let us down this year and the future of the Festival field is in doubt. David Andrew, our Fund Raising Director, has proposed an appeal on the lines of ‘buy a concrete block’ or ‘sponsor one or more metres of canal lining’. This appeal is going to proceed and could well be the mainstay of our fund raising for completing Phase II. Further funds will then be needed to reinforce the canal banks between Buckland Wharf and Wendover so as to raise the water level to Tring summit level for navigation to

open as far as the winding hole west of Saxonway Bridge under the new Aston Clinton by-pass. This work is currently under review by a fund raising committee of the Council. Turning now to timescale. The original target was to complete the five stages in five years. We have already lost over a year building footbridges, repairing Nuttalls bund and carrying out trials for lining the canal and it is more realistic to think of one stage every two years – work will speed up the nearer we get to Little Tring. Currently we lose at least two hours a day just getting plant and equipment to and from Drayton Beauchamp! This gives a target completion date of 2016, six years more than we originally hoped. The bright side is that this does give more time to raise the funds needed... On both cost and timescale it has become apparent that it will be much more economical to concentrate on one operation at a time, i.e. pipe capping or bank lining or completing the bed leaving the mooring walls as an ‘hospital’ job. We are working in a confined width and find that carrying out more than one operation at a time finds us ‘tripping over each other’! Another option is to extend the length of our four- day work party to economise on plant hire and handling ready-mix concrete. One operation at a time does not require a large labour force on any one day, say 6 to 8 volunteers. If we could work to a pre-booked volunteer schedule using those still at work over the Saturday and Sunday Brindley’s advice and retired volunteers on weekdays, it would speed up progress and reduce plant hire costs. Laying and filling the hollow concrete blocks is a time consuming task. I am wondering, when we have a good length profiled ready for lining and blocking, whether we would be able to engage the services of young offenders, either on community service or residing at HM Prison, the Mount for a concentrated effort at this work? Any further ideas for fund raising or adding to the volunteer force will be welcome. Roger Leishman 01442 874536 rleishman@ukgateway.net

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Progress

Another half-mile of the Montgomery has been rewatered - and SUCS are hard at work at Crickheath preparing for the next section

...and finally the Mont

page 30

WRG NW planting reeds in the eco-friendly bank protection on the Gronwen to Redwith length, before (Below) BW let the water in

David Kitching

The Shropshire Union Canal Society’s October 2007 working party saw the first two major sections of work on the Crickheath Wharf site finished. The 35 volunteers made use of perfect conditions to complete both the heritage wharf and the visitor mooring. The last few coping stones of the heritage wall were fixed, together with the final pointing of the face. In addition, backfilling and levelling of the wharf itself were completed. Similarly, on the visitor mooring the coping, french drain, pointing and backfill were finished off. A start was made on the winding hole. The location of the edges had been pegged out previously, and the task was to provide a level surface for the accurate location of the piles. This was a more complicated task than it sounds since, although most of the proposed line was on dry land, about 15 metres or so was in a watered section. Making up the level in these sections with fill required a great deal of skilful digger driving to deal with steep gradients and the proximity of some deep water. The need to backfill the walls posed the problem of how to move large quantities of spoil or aggregate around the site. The problem was solved by using technology that would have been familiar to the canal’s original engineer G. W. Buck himself – wheelbarrows. The modern refinement was the use of the digger to load three barrows side-byside, so eliminating time consuming (and backbreaking) manual loading. Using six barrows, large quantities of loose material were shifted very quickly. There is also considerable progress to report elsewhere between Gronwyn and Crickheath. The rewatering of the Gronwyn/ Redwith section has happened. WRG spent the weekend finishing the approach walls to Pryce’s Bridge, and BW contractors have felled all remaining trees between Pryce’s Bridge and our site. Quite a change in a few months.

John Hawkins

Montgomery Canal


...in which Bungle finally finishes taking the KL15 crane to pieces and starts trying to work out how it goes back together again... The story so far The bottom king post bearing has been found to have excessive play. The crane has been moved into position for the superstructure to be lifted off so the bearing can be removed and examined.

Removing the superstructure The new Claverton gantry crane (for those who havenÂ’t been following the story, all this is happening at Claverton Pumping Station on the Kennet & Avon Canal) was rigged over the superstructure and the main hoist drum was removed from the frame: this was

Plant

The KL15 Crane to reduce the weight for the main lift. Then the king post keeper plates were removed and following a couple of trial lifts, the strops were adjusted for the correct length and the superstructure lifted clear from the kingpost. This is almost certainly the first time that the bearing has been exposed since the crane was built 60 years ago! Considering this, the removal was quite straightforward.

The truth revealed Once the superstructure was safely on the ground, the assembled engineering team at Claverton closely examined the bearing surfaces: the bottom bearing was badly

Rigging the gantry crane to lift the superstructure from the king post

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Plant

The KL15 Crane

Below: the team get to examine the bottom bearing, exposed for the first time in six decades. And as a result of their examination, Welsh Phil gets to make a new thrust washer on his lathe (above left) and machine the bearing on his vertical mill (above right)

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The crane arrives safely in its new home across the bridge. Bet you canÂ’t wait for the next episode!


Plant

“Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly except that you swear in different places. And boy, was there some swearing!”

The KL15 crane

worn, as was the thrust washer and the bearing surface on the king post itself. The reason for this soon became obvious. The bottom bearing is lubricated by a grease nipple which is connected to the bottom bearing by a tube: the tube had broken and hence all the grease was squirting out uselessly under the footplate of the crane! The solution was to make a new thrust washer, a sleeve for the king post and to machine the bottom bearing to fit the sleeve. Unfortunately this was not going to be possible with the equipment at Claverton, but luckily ‘Welsh Phil’ Scott came to the rescue. Phil has both an industrial lathe and a vertical mill, and what’s more he knows how to use them! After careful measurement of what was required, he spent several hours machining various chunks of metal and the result was a pile of very shiny parts to re-assemble the crane.

Re-assembly beings

All photos courtesy of Bungle

On the basis that there was nothing more to disassemble, every step from here was a step closer to finishing reassembly. The new sleeve was fitted to the king post, the thrust washer attached to the top of the slew ring and the machined bearing clamped back into the base of the superstructure. Most importantly the grease tube was replaced and a new brass grease nipple fitted to avoid the problem re-occurring. In the next episode, re-assembly is the reverse of disassembly – except that you swear in different places! And boy, was there some swearing...... George ‘Bungle’ Eycott

Above left: the shiny bits arrive back from deepest Wales. Left: Nevill marks out the slew gear to fit the brass thrust washer. Above: the king post bearings all reassembled, lubricated and ready for the rebuild

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Dig report

London WRG on the M&B Digging Mon & Brec Being the only girl (and the only vegetarian) on the latest London WRG weekend wasn’t at all a problem, and it was nice to have my own bathroom (and my own a la carte meals – cheers Frank!). Here’s my diary for the duration.

Friday 7pm, Waterloo “You won’t believe the smashes we’ve had in this thing,” says Martin starting the engine. “Went into the back of a ParcelForce van doing ninety on the M11 just last week. Lucky to be alive we are. And then the weekend before that I drove it into the Grand Western canal. Talk about laugh!” I grip the roof handle tightly. As we build up speed on the Hammersmith flyover the mysterious rattling sounds begin. It’s late when we get to the village of Cross Keys just outside Newport and you can’t see the mountains because all the darkness is getting in the way. At least the church hall seems pretty comfortable. There are eleven of us including some faces I recognise from the National, although luckily I don’t feel

The author points stonework...

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A first-timer on a London WRG weekend tells it like it is... awkward about being the only new person. We waste no time in getting to the pub.

Friday night 11pm We order ten-and-a-half pints and the barman laughs. I don’t know why he’s laughing; the inside of this pub hasn’t changed since the miners’ strike. “Is Thatcher still in power?” one of the customers asks me. “Or is it safe to go outside now?” “This is a local pub, for local people,” explains Mafys the proprietess. And later: “Ten and a half pints again, is it?”

Saturday We need to have a safety induction. “Don’t fall in the canal. And don’t eat the lime” pretty much covers it. Then they spend half an hour teaching me to put cement in cracks. “Think of it like icing a cake,” says Tim, pleased to have found a simile he thinks I’ll be able to relate to. “Hold the trowel by the wooden end. We call that ‘the handle’.” He pats me on the head and I start work. After about twenty minutes we have a tea break. The group talks about how great Top Gear is and I worry about Amy Winehouse’s chaotic lifestyle. When all the good biscuits are gone, we start work again. Nigel comes over every few minutes to check my work. “Think of it like icing a cake,” he explains. Tim comes over to explain to me why you should never leave an automatic car in gear and I take the opportunity to decide whether I like Keira Knightley’s new haircut, or if it really does make her jaw look too strong. We break for lunch. Sort of getting used to throwing tea bags into the canal now but somehow it feels wrong. Martin gives me a brief geopolitical history of the Mon & Brec Canal whilst I wonder whether it really is ankle straps or nothing this autumn, or if I can get away with last year’s rouched pixie boots at least until Christmas.


“...Martin gives me a brief geopolitical history of the Mon & Brec Canal whilst I wonder whether it really is ankle straps or nothing this autumn...” Saturday 5pm Really pleased to have repointed a whole section of the wall by the end of the day. To celebrate our hard work on this overflow drain, we take a walk up about a mile of overgrown, crumbling canal and the fourteen plant-clogged locks which have fallen into disrepair. Realise it’s just the tip of a very big iceberg and unlike an iceberg, it isn’t going to help by melting even a little bit. Feel a bit depressed by this when we get back to base but luckily what Frank is cooking smells delicious. Disgusted to report very little evidence of washing taking place before dinner. Most of group now looking like coalminers. I scrub and scrub to get the lime out of my skin – worried it’ll eat big holes in my face while I sleep, and I’ll wake up looking like Daniella Westbrook. Later we go to the pub again where the landlady is training her fat spaniel to be in the circus. She throws snooker balls which

Dig report

London WRG on the M&B the dog gamely catches. It doesn’t have any teeth left but the act is really coming on. I get my knitting out and as everyone’s too tired to talk about car engines, Top Gear and plumbing tonight, we sit around and watch me knit until midnight. You make your own fun in South Wales.

Sunday 8am Slept okay but getting really grumpy now. Luckily builders’ tea really perks me up, also thought that television will be arriving. Wonder if there’s a film on this afternoon?

Sunday 9am Argh! It isn’t a television but a television crew that are arriving, to film something called Water World (I think it’s a sequel to a Kevin Costner turkey). Luckily I will be wearing a hard hat so no-one’ll notice I haven’t washed my hair since Friday. Everyone pretends not to be really excited about the telly crew getting here but I notice quite a few people seem to have ironed their red t-shirts. All the excitement of the telly crew visit over, we get back to the real business of the day – drinking tea.

Sunday 11pm

...and gets inverviewed by Waterworld

Finally get home, no thanks to Transport for London. Darling is delighted to see me. “The washing machine broke. I’ve had these pants on for three days now. Did you know you’re getting mud all over the floor?” Despite all this, I am hoping to do another weekend soon… Sophie Smith

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WRG BC

News from our boat club WRG Boat Club News I am so sorry to hear of the death of Mike Stevens: what a smashing bloke he was, great sense of humour and, although not a member, he was always very supportive towards the boat club. The boaters’ magazine at the ‘National’ was always a good read and I made a point of ensuring that I got a copy of every edition, especially the last one each year which was numbered edition 5½. I will miss his expertise and cooperation. As we approach the end of the year I will recap on some of the exciting bits – rain, floods, mud, unscheduled tidal voyages, mud, cancelled festivals, mud, trains hanging off bridges and more mud all have their place in our memories. Our boat club’s only official award going to Aileen Butler in recognition of her hard work and contribution to wrg. Here are some unofficial awards: Worst value for licence money goes to the members who bought a gold licence so they could get to St Ives early to help and, due to circumstances beyond their control, have only made two trips to the water point(100 yds from their mooring) all year! Most confusing sign: ‘Lift Gate Close’ and when you press the button so marked a guillotine gate goes down! Any more suggestions? The club house is being well maintained, I hope you are all keeping an eye on the notice board updates. If so, you know that SUBS ARE OVERDUE. Anyone not paid up by now will be dis-membered and, even worse, off the Christmas card list! Lynne has done a stalwart job attending AWCC meetings on our behalf. Here are some extracts from the last minutes. Boat Licensing Consultation Document: http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk/images/ bw_licence_fee_consultation_oct_07.pdf. Free paper copies are available from BW on 01923 201120. (I failed to get a copy from the internet address, so phoned and listened to Handel’s Water Music for a while until someone got round to speaking to me. All at mobile phone prices.)

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“Talk about a stab in the back, after all that Save Our Waterways against DEFRA cuts...

Closing date for consultation is 7th January 2008 Reading this document is not good for the blood pressure, as you may gather from these comments from AWCC regional Chairman... ‘I do not know if it is I, but I believe the canals are generally in a poorer state than last year. Some of it can be put down to the DEFRA cuts, but not all. The amount of bonuses paid out to Robin Evans & Co beggars belief! £171,000 paid to members of the BW board for a total of 400hrs. Over £2m paid to eleven top BW men including four who have now left with a golden handshake. How can BW justify a bonus of £65,000? Pensions are another huge increase, one person leaving with a pension of over £39,000 and a lump sum over £260,000. What next year’s figures will show I hate to think. Now for the sting in the tail. This is the so called consultation. BW has already told us that licensing will go up by 30%... a bit like those phone-ins where you vote for an act you like best, but in fact they have already made the decision. Talk about a stab in the back, after all that Save Our Waterways against DEFRA cuts...’ There was, justifiably, quite a bit on boat fire safety including Keeping Safe with Solid Fuel Stoves www.boatsafetyscheme.com/fire and The Solid Fuel Association guide to buying suitable fuels for different types of appliance and getting the best out of the fuel at www.solidfuel.co.uk/pdfs/solid_fuels.pdf. Diesel Consultation was also mentioned but by now we are waiting for news of results of the consultation. And as part of BW’s minimum Health and Safety standards ‘All bridges in this (East Midland) region are to have their number plates fitted...’ Well that news will help me sleep better! Further meetings are: January 12th Stafford Boat; March 8th Soar Boat Club Well the closures are upon us, so check before venturing out this winter. There is nothing worse than getting to a closed bridge ‘ole and the winding hole is the other side! I speak from experience, though the BW office concerned ‘forgot to mention it, sorry’ when I had phoned them. It was a long way to reverse! Better luck to all who venture forth this festive season. Of course you might get frozen in. I just like to look on the bright side. What digs or ‘bashes’ can we get to by boat in 2008? Someone let us know please. xxx Sadie Dean


Di Smurthwaite reports from an impromptu five-day camp at Steppingstones and Seven Locks in September A Birthday Bash The last week in September saw three navies celebrating birthdays – Martin Thompson reaching the big 50; Adam ‘Digger’ Morris half that at 25; and Rachael Banyard a little bit more than either of them – so the question of how to celebrate came up. Of course they could have buzzed off to some hot sunny place and done something really boring like lazing on a beach and getting skin cancer. Or, far more exciting, arrange an impromptu dig on some canal or other along with some friends. Yorkshire people say there’s nowt so strange as folk, and most folk think navies are strange, so we might as well live up to it… On Adrian Fry’s August camp on Steppingstones Bridge on the Wilts & Berks, we had made great progress with two of the four side walls being finished up to corbel height, but we were frustrated in that we hadn’t been provided with enough scaffolding to do any work on the other two, so it was looking a bit uneven. Having decided that we wanted to rectify this, Rachael Banyard set off to try and find a hall for a five-day dig in the Shrivenham area on 26-30 September but this proved impossible at such short notice; however we were able to get Bushton Village Hall near Wootton Bassett. It meant a bit of travelling each day, but it is a really nice hall, wide and roomy, and even better from my point of view it has a splendid kitchen – two large cookers, two sinks, almost catering size fridge and a small freezer. Equally important, the pub is only 400 yards away. Rachael arranged to borrow some scaffolding from the WBCT Swindon Branch, and George ‘Bungle’ Eycott transported it for us to Steppingstones. The first day and a half were spent erecting it, with Martin and Rob itching to get their hands on some bricks and mortar – but eventu-

Camp Report

Wilts & Berks extra

ally they got started and on Friday good progress was made despite it being rainy all day, and they arrived back at the hall for tea slightly earlier than the long day that had been planed. Luke and Digger arrived on Friday evening, and a concrete pour had been arranged for Saturday morning at Lock 4 of Seven Locks so the day was spent working there. Despite this, by Sunday evening one of the walls at Steppingstones had been built up to six courses of brickwork and the first two courses on the fourth wall. Steve Moody had enjoyed his first camp in August so much that he joined us or the five days and got his dumper ticket. John Hawkins had also celebrated his birthday in September so we were pleased that he was able to join us. Unfortunately we had at least three snorers in our group of up to eleven on the dig, and Martyn W found that he couldn’t sleep very well in his hard hat and ear defenders and had to retreat to his car one night. We had a bit of a party on Saturday night with several more friends joining us and Jenny Black came hotfoot from a hockey match to take part (and to work with us all day on Sunday). I didn’t have room on the birthday cake I’d made for all the candles so each name had two each and on the count of NOW they were all blown out at once. I must remember to tell Martin that a newspaper article describes 50-year-olds as ‘the new 30s’ and that he is now a ‘Goty’ – ‘Getting older, thinking younger’. A woman said that she doesn’t mind a bit being described as ‘over the hill’, as one gathers speed on the way down! They are more ambitious and have more goals than 30year-olds. Like finishing Steppingstones Bridge? There’s nothing like a gathering of friends all doing what they enjoy most! Di Smurthwaite (Yet another Cook Report)

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NOTICEBOARD Online Navvies subscriptions

Navvies Directory

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

The next issue of Navvies will contain the full directory of WRG and canal society working party contacts. If you have any additions, deletions or updates please send them to the editor.

New arrival

Boat Club News Stop Press As subs have come in, club funds have passed the required £500 mark so, as agreed at the AGM, we have donated this amount to The Cotswold Canal Trust. A small drop towards the ocean of loss they suffered to their restoration funds because of the need to cancel Saul Festival. More details next time. Sadie Dean

Congratulations to Emma & Dan Evans on the arrival of Jack Charles on September 11th A

Merry Christmas and a

Happy New Year to everyone from the Editor.

Don’t forget to save the stamps from your Christmas cards and send them to the WRG Stamp Bank - see below See you in 2008

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.

Attention WRG leaders!

Leaders’ training day on March 1 at Benson Village Hall before the Barn Dance. Contact Mike Palmer (see right) for details

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Change of address... Ed Walker and Suzie Pounce have moved to: 4 Blackwater Way, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 7RL The former Izzy Gascoigne would like people to know that since she got married she is now Izzy Rutter and has got a new email address: i.rutter@merseybasin.org.uk If you move house, don’t forget to tell Navvies subscriptions

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


Infill

WRG Tart? The phrase ‘WRG tart’ has recently been coined to mean a WRGie who will dig with any and every group...

Is the editor a tart? Calling Becky Gross

...so the editor produced an appropriate pudding on a recent London WRG dig on the H&G.

We recently received an email from a chap who believed that the cover pic in issue 225 showed his old friend Becky Gross who used to live on a boat with her husband Rob at Cosgrove then Weedon but who he’d lost touch with. We contacted Mel who is actually the person pictured on the cover. She said “maybe I was Becky Gross in a previous life and having suffered a bump on the head I forgot I even owned a boat or had a husband for that matter and just called myself Melanie Parker.” Although she admits that while forgetting she had a husband is possible, forgetting she had a boat is another matter... Anyway if anyone knows the real Becky Gross could they contact the editor so (a) we can put her in touch with her old friend (b) Mel can find out whether she’s got a doppelganger or an alter ego and (c) assuming the former, we can put photos of both of them in Navvies with the names swapped over like they do in Private Eye.

WRGieotypes No 1: The Second Generation WRGie Although Chris doesn’t know it, he was actually conceived on a dig: the June 1979 Grand Union, led by Mike Warton. His parents Dave and Sue got married eight months after that camp. Canal restoration’s in his blood and Chris can always be relied on to drive the van, work the equipment and organise the Lavender boat gang. If his Dad’s not using the family scaf spanner, it’s in Chris’s back pocket. He’s well liked around camp by all the other WRGies, although he doesn’t quite get along with Mike Warton. Ironic really, as Mike has equal claim to be Chris’s father.

Own safety hat: the sign of a serious WRGie

First edition Thern-A-Rest

T-shirt from his first ever dig. It’s getting quite old now: in another ten years time he may have to think about replacing it.

Ancestral scaf span Keys for the Landy (What else?)

Chris and his dad often share socks on a dig (‘a change is as good as a wash’)

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

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