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navvies volunteers restoring

waterways

Looking forward to summer 2008...

...and 2028!

waterway recovery group

Issue No 228 April-May 2008


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

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.

Tim Lewis

Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk

Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, Malcolm Bridge, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, Roger Day, Neil Edwards, George Eycott, John Fletcher, Adrian Fry, John Hawkins, Jennifer Leigh, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith. Secretary: Neil Edwards ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2008 WRG

Ian Williamson

Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: 3 Norfolk Court, Norfolk Rd. Rickmansworth WD3 1LT). The Inland Waterways Association is a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89.

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

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Contents In this issue...

Chairman MKP gets on his bike 4-5 Coming soon Training, Little Venice, Saul and Grand Western festivals, Summer Camps 6-10 London WRG on the Chelmer & Blackwater and the Wendover Arm 11-14 Forestry WRGFT on chainsawing 15-16 2028 8-page preview of Navvies 348! 17-24 Beginners Guide Wot is a canal? 25 Diary camp and working party dates 26-28 Letters Thanks for the Barn Dance 29 Logistics Keep the food crates clean! 30 Progress restoration news roundup 31-34 Obituary RIP Jonathan ‘Tay’ Taylor 35 WRGBC Boat Club news 36-37 Noticeboard Save your stamps for WRG! 38 Infill Sheep and National Festival leaders 39

Contributions... Above: the new Ynysbwllog Aqueduct, just installed on the Neath Canal to replace one washed away by floods in the 1970s. Left: KESCRG at work on Lock 4, Seven Locks, Wilts & Berks. Below: What’s with the Lego? See p31 to find out Front cover: London WRG on the Wendover: installing reinforcing and formwork for moorings. (see dig report on p13-14; photo by the editor) Back cover: our bricks at the outdoor show and the celebrities who signed them (main photo by Jen Leigh, celebrity pics copyright dmg world media (uk) ltd)

...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 229: May 1st.

David Miller

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


Chairman

MKP on the Cotswolds...

“Recently volunteers have been seen by some as just a ‘gapfiller’ and I think that is a big mistake”

together all the thousands of little details that mean the Summer Canal Camps should be Well it seems to have been a very, very busy tickety-boo. As we speak, project plans are being assembled, permissions granted, plant couple of months since the last Navvies so this will be a bit of an epic. I write this recov- is being hired and leaders are starting to recruit the skills they need to run a successful ering from three hectic days running a publicity stand complete with bricks, celebrities* week. This is not just a one way process and an inflatable JCB at The Outdoor Show though; every year we run a Training Weekat the NEC. It was a very successful show for end in May to train up people for the summer ahead. So if you fancy booking on a us – a chance to meet lots of people who share our interests and convince them to camp that features a lot of bricking then you come along and get involved. In fact it is just can come along and get an introduction to bricklaying that will mean you can get stuck possible that the some of the people we in from day one of your camp. We also talked to are now reading this. If so, then welcome to WRG and we hope to see you on feature scaffolding, plant operation, surveying and all sorts of skills – see the article a dig very soon. My thanks everyone who elsewhere in this magazine. This year we are helped out on the stand, especially Jenny moving from our usual base of Hatton to a Black for co-ordinating it all. familiar site in Lichfield. Whilst the site is ideal, it is the accommodation that gives us On the Cotswold Canals... real benefit this year as it is spacious enough to host a fundraising Race Night on the Probably the biggest news since the last Navvies was British Waterways pulling out of Saturday, so be prepared to roll up your sleeping bag as 80 or so generous punters the Cotswold Canals restoration. No doubt join us for fruit cup, big hats and horseplay this particular bit of politics will rumble on in order to raise money for the Droitwich for ages but please be in no doubt: our Barge Lock Appeal. Summer Camps on the Cotswold are going ahead. Indeed I was really flattered that, despite the fact they clearly had bigger issues (six And speaking of Droitwich... million of them!) on their plate, one of the first things that CCT worked on was making sure Wychavon Council are running their “Return that our Camps could still go ahead. It is now of the Ring” sponsored cycle ride on 22nd June. It’s a 15 mile event for all the family to more important than ever to demonstrate that volunteer restoration is effective; recently travel from one end of the Droitwich Canals volunteers have been seen by some as just a to the other with a chance to stop every time you cross the cut to have the current works “gap filler” and I think that is a big mistake. We have the passion and commitment that explained by those involved (which will means we are actually the glue that holds it include us in Vines Park of course). In a all together when other bits of the structure moment of foolishness I said I would lead a are found to be not quite as strong as they team of WRGbikes so expect more info, and look. I hope you will all get behind our a sponsorship form, in the next Navvies. efforts to support the Cotswold restoration.

Chairman’s comment

...and elsewhere too... The work planning a successful summer on the Cotswold is also being repeated all over the system as lots of people are putting

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Logistical things

We had a few letters about the Logistics article in the last Navvies, both about what was said and how it was said. While I’m not going to comment on the way it was said I


“It is often a scary thing to ask ‘I’d like to help a bit more is there any little job I could do?’ ”

Chairman

...the Droitwich, and the drink!

do think that it raised some very valid points that apply to the whole organisation. Articles such as that one are always born of frustration – and as someone else who ends up having to try and make sense of scribbled notes or finds out three months after the fact that something has (or hasn’t) been dealt with I can heartily sympathise with Jens comment of “triviality is subjective”. There are a lot of people who do vital jobs without which we really would struggle to do what we do. So please don’t dismiss their actions as trivial or unimportant – it might not actually be putting bricks in the wall but all of these background tasks have evolved because they are very necessary. It’s not for fun nor are we trying to occupy ourselves, we are just trying to maximise the contribution from you all. Which neatly leads into...

Help wanted! One of the problems with volunteer organisations is that you tend to accept that every now and then people can’t do all they offer to do. That is only natural – however sometimes these jobs simply become “ongoing” and they simply never get done. So the WRG committee had a good honest look at what it was failing to achieve and came up with list of about 20 “jobs we really should do but never seem to make it to the top of the pile”. Some of them are standalone jobs, others are just pulling together what other people are already doing. Some of them are quite time specific, others can be done anytime in the year. We thought we would publish it because we realise that it is often a rather scary thing to ask “I’d like to help a bit more – is there any little job I could do?” as you feel you will get lumbered with chairmanship or editing navvies or some other horrendous task. None of these are big jobs but they are significant (back to that triviality is subjective again) because, if we did manage to do these jobs in the background then we could achieve a lot more on the ground, and issues

like the Cotswold show us that it is more important that ever for us to achieve as much as possible. By the time you read this it should be published on the website (or ring Head Office if you don’t have internet access), together with a contact details should you want to find out a bit more about what it would involve.

And finally... Finally I should mention one of the most frantic weekends – the combined Leaders training day, Barn Dance and WRG committee meeting on March 1st/2nd. The leader training had a perfect start with a very realistic recreation of one of the classic dilemmas for all leaders - ‘what do you do if your village hall is double booked?’ - swiftly followed by ‘what do you do if the hall you then transfer to has a booking in the afternoon?’ Anyway the day was a great success – some of the sessions were light hearted, some were serious but all of it was very useful. This is not just a chance for leaders to learn but also a chance for them to feedback their thoughts and concerns. One issue that did crop up was that they were concerned about having to deal with people drinking excessively. One very drunk navvy often encourages and justifies others to drink more than they would normally do and there were events last year that were made very difficult through a couple of people’s irresponsible actions. This feeling was also backed up by some comments from the Camps feedback survey. The Board agree that, although generally speaking we all do enjoy a drink and it rarely gets out of hand, where it does affect both leaders and volunteers it is not fair to ignore the issue. So I have recently written to several people telling them they are no longer welcome on WRG events and we will not be accepting bookings from them in the future. Mike Palmer * I’ve got a brick signed by Brian Blessed!

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What’s next?

Festivals in the heart of London...

Trainees needed for the Training Weekend. Volunteers needed for Canalway Cavalcade...

Cavalcade update Just an update on where we are for the Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade, as you all know and have marked in your diaries - but just in case it’s the 3 rd, 4th and 5th May 2008. For those who have no any idea what Cavalcade is, a little background.... Little Venice is a place in London close to the Paddington Railway Station, where the Regents Canal meets the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union. There is an open space surounding a basin at the junction called Brownings Pool, which has a tiny Island. Canalway Cavalcade is an annual festival run by WRG’s parent body The Inland Waterways Association which involves lots of boats converging on Little Venice for the May Day bank holiday weekend. We have so far 90-plus boats booked in and these will be moored in the pool with bunting and flags flying, making a very colourful scene. The event aims to promote the waterways in and around London, plus such attractions as the London Canal Museum. On the towing path we will have stands from various traders and canal societies - not forgetting London WRG and WRG BITM. What I am after is volunteers to help me and a very small team to run the Site and Services for the evnt. We put up the Market Stalls, put out tables and chairs, take traders to their allocated space, and all the other jobs that help to make it a successful weekend. And wre also need a cook to feed the volunteers for the weekend: they are likely to have to catered for 20 to 25 people. Accommodation is slightly different from other events such as the National Festival, in so much as we use boats to sleep on. I will be on site from Wednesday 30th April and the accommodation will hopefully arrive either the 1st or the 2nd, then from Wednesday onwards thre will be plenty of work for us as suppliers will be bringing in such things as the marquees, tables, chairs and so on. Before people cry “Why no mention of beer?” - yes, we are having an on-site bar, which should have ten real ales, proper cider and other drinks. And I’m sure Site and Services will be involved with the Beer Tent somehow? Anyone interested in helping please call me on 07961 922153 or even better drop me an email on moose@wrg.org.uk. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden

Last call for the Training Weekend The Training Weekend will be held on the 10th-11th May. It is hoped that the training will now take place on the Lichfield Canal and we will probably be based at Burntwood Village Hall - subject to confirmation. Until the site is confirmed, the training programme cannot be finalised however we hope to offer the usual favourites - excavators, dumpers, vans, trailers, surveying, bricklaying, banksman, scaffolding and first aid, In addition to this, I am currently considering a chippers course as well as the need for training on tractors or forks for the National festival and using and reading digital tachos. As soon as the exact details are confirmed I will be sending out a booking form to those who request one where they will be able to prioritise their training needs; however if anyone has any other suggestions for sessions that would be useful to incorporate, please do not hesitate to contact me preferably by email to aliwomble@fsmail.net The cost of the weekend will be £15 for the whole weekend inc. meals and accomm. A daily rate of £5 is applicable to those wishing to attend for a part of the weekend. If anyone is willing to volunteer as an instructor for the weekend, offers will as always be very gratefully received. Many thanks to those who have already made suggestions and indicated an interest in training Ali Bottomley

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...and also to join WRG South West’s team at the National Trailboat Festival on the Grand Western...

What’s next?

...and in the wilds of Devon

Fancy a week camping in Devon?

Peter Huish

Peter Huish

WRG South West would like to invite you to a week’s camping in the Devon countryside alongside the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton. The 2008 Trailboat Festival “A Grand Western Weekend” will be held over the Late Spring Bank Holiday weekend of 24/25/26th May at the North Devon Show Ground, Tiverton. WRGsw will be running a camp to assist the local Country Park Rangers in the set up, running and take down of the Festival site and we would like your help! There will be the usual fencing, car parking, assisting the traders, litter picking and other jobs associated with running a Festival to contend with. There will also be the opportunity to partake in the evening activities which include the Boaters BBQ, and there will be a trip up the canal on some of the Festival boats should you wish to see the Country Park and Canal from a different perspective. Accommodation will be on site and we will be living in caravans and tents, with a marquee for cooking and eating. Showers will be courtesy of the local sports centre. The camp will run from Wednesday 21st May 2008 to Wednesday 28th May 2008, however we will be setting up our compound on Tuesday 20th May and you are invited to arrive after 12 noon on the Tuesday to get your pitch! What if you don’t have a caravan or tent? Well it’s not a problem. We have access to tents should you require one. Booking is through Jenny Black at Head Office Trailboats cruising on the Grand Western (above) and launching using the trailboat that WRG built in 2003 (below) (01923 711114 or jenny.black@waterways.org.uk). When you book please state what you will be bringing with you, i.e. caravan or tent so we can plan space, or let us know if you need a tent to use. Cost for the week will be £49, and the camp will be limited to 20 people, so book early to avoid disappointment. We look forward to seeing you there. If you have any questions then please call either Jenny or myself. Mitch Gozna 07768525469

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What’s next?

...and the depths of Gloucestershire

Help to make this year’s Saul Festival the success that the Cotswold Canals Trust really needs

Saul Festival 2008 including ‘Folk on the Water’ For those who don’t know, Saul has become a major event in the folk music calendar but it is not just about good music, there is lots of real beer, boats and stalls. In fact everything you need for a good festival. As a bonus, every penny raised (and there are lots of them) goes to the Cotswold Canals Trust to help restoration. This is like doing the IWA National Festival, but because it is smaller we also get to do some of the more specialist jobs that on bigger events get done by contractors. Everything from building the bar and chiller room to helping with the big barge Sabrina (which becomes a theatre for the event). This year it is even more important that usual that plenty of money is raised as the event was cancelled due to flooding last year.... As many of you will know, supporting the Saul Canal Festival is a WRG South West camp, but you don’t have to be a regular wrgSW volunteer to help - the more the merrier! The team is being assembled, Adrian Fry leading and Eli cooking. The only person missing from this team is you! Because the event has grown, so has the camp and so this year it will run from Tuesday 1st July through to Wednesday 9th July and will cost the princely sum of £56. So stop thinking about it, write out a cheque payable to wrgSW, fill in the form and post it with the cheque to: George “Bungle” Eycott, 36 Grange Court, Boundary Road, Newbury. RG14 7PH.

waterway recovery group South West

in association with

I would like to attend the 2008 Saul Festival Canal Camp on July 1st to July 9th Forename:

Surname:

Address: e-mail: Phone: I will be joining the camp on I enclose payment of £

Any special dietary requirements? and leaving on (pay 'WRG SW') for food (£56 for whole camp; £7.00 per day)

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

Phone:

Signed: Please send this form to George Eycott, 36 Grange Court, Boundary Rd, Newbury RG14 7PH

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Adrian Fry gives you the latest on the first half of this summer’s Canal Camps season

And then what?

...a whole summer of camps!

Canal Camps Preview 2008 We’ve already started... By the time you are reading this, we’ll have successfully completed the first two Canal Camps, either side of Easter at Steppingstones Bridge on the Wilts & Berks Canal, and I am sure the bridge will be much nearer completion with all brickwork on the parapets well above ground level, and much landscaping around the site completed.

Loudwells Lock on the Grand Western

This Summer (it will be a good one)

Western ‘Teacher Chris’ Blaxland will be our local, as we spend 2 weeks (28th June- 5th June: Mike Palmer starts the summer Canal Camp season as leader of the first camp on July, 5th July- 12th July) building a large dam the Barge Lock in Droitwich, WRGs biggest across the canal to allow restoration of project of the year - a complete lock restora- Loudwells Lock to be undertaken in the next tion in 4 weeks. Week 1 (21st-28th June) will couple of years. The dam will be made of be chamber clearance and excavation, then many, many tons of clay - moved with maonce it’s all clear we can really assess the chines. So for those that want to play with work required and no doubt there will be big excavators and dumper trucks, this could many bricks to remove and then put back in be the project for you. There will be other during the subsequent weeks. Mike guaranworks: possibly restoration of the lock’s lower tees to keep any brick cleaning to a minimum! wing walls and also continuing the works on And... this is likely to be the last WRG project Nynehead Boat Lift. Unfortunately this year we on the Droitwich, so this summer may well can’t stay in Burlescombe because the village be the final chance to work on this canal hall is being rebuilt, but I am sure there will be before it re-opens in a couple of the opportunity to spend a years. few evenings in the excelAlso in June, we are returnlent Ayshford Arms. ing to the Chesterfield Canal At Ipswich (28th (21st-28th June). The work looks June- 5th July) Liz Wilson very interesting, the accommodaand Nina Whiteman are tion excellent and the locals are promising an even better fantastic. The site is near Staveley camp than last year, so and we starting a project restoring, that’ll be very very good rebuilding a bridge and associated then. Work is restoring narrows. So the first job will be to the historic Baylham Lock excavate and pour the foundations on the River Gipping for the bridge wing and trailing (about 5 miles north of walls. The accommodation is very Ipswich). The work will good with a shower and the pub is include brickwork, demolidirectly above the sleeping area! Concreting on the Gipping tion, landscaping and like July: We begin July in the last year another big confar South West and the East, working on the crete pour, mixing on site. The accommoGrand Western Canal and the Ipswich and dation is the same as last year, in a new Stowmarket Navigation. On the Grand village hall, with showers within walking

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distance. A variety of social activities are As ever the Canal Camp summer season already planned for the evenings including a ends with the National Waterways Festival, so boat trip on the River Stour and a visit to let’s hear from the leader David Worthington... Colchester Spa. All the fun of the fair: Yes, I know WRG is returning to the Cotswolds for it’s ages away, but it really is time to start two Canal Camps (5th-12th & 12th-19th July). thinking about the ‘National’. These camps are especially important as Much like going to the dentist, we have WRG helps Cotswold Canal Trust to keep all forgotten last year – well, apart from the pushing forward the restoration following the mud and the trek from the accommodation setback of British Waterways withdrawing to site, it was all pretty good. from the project. The precise location and So how is this one going to be different details of the work are to be decided but a – well, it’s in Wolverhampton – (or, more number of possible projects between accurately, Pendeford), it’s being led by me and Eastington and Stroud are being looked at. it’s going to be fine and sunny throughout. This years’ KESCRG Camp (5th-12th July) (Some of this may not be true). Jenny Black is on the Wilts and Berks near Wootton has agreed to forsake her desk in Watford to Bassett. Bobby Silverwood and Kate Penn assist me, so it can’t all be bad, can it? are leading. This Canal Camp will be comSo how does this involve you? Well, to pleting Lock 4, laying the final courses of give us an idea of who is coming, you could brick each side and completing the concrete book on. Miss B, wearing her stylish Head backfill, before installing the bullnose coping Office hat, (and flip flops) will be delighted bricks and landscaping the area. Accommo- to hear from you. The compound is followdation will be at Bushton Village Hall. ing the shrinking trend, and as it is bounded For the third year running WRG will being by a road and a canal, there is little chance of working on the Lord Rolle Canal in Devon, increasing its size – so if you are intending to th th working to preserve the Sea Lock on 12 -19 live in a caravan, tent, cool-box, or whatever, July. Spencer Collins is running this one and you better let me know soon! work will be laying more coping stones and There will be much of the usual nonsense – in varying quantities. also hopefully removing silt Oh, and a plea from the from the bottom of the lock, using a special heart – canal camps, like armies, march on their stomclamshell bucket excavator. achs. This requires food and The site is in a fantastic location near Bideford and food requires people to cook the accommodation is a it. If you have ever felt the barn converted into a urge to cook at the National, holiday cottage (with beds please let me (or Jenny) and power showers!) just know. There are plenty of one minute walk across the experienced cooks to talk it lawn to the worksite. through with you and discuss In late July Rob any doubts or fears that you Daffern will lead a week may have. Consider getting on the Mon and Brec together and sharing the The Rolle Canal Sea Lock (19th-26th July), while Ed load. Walker and Nigel Lee (19th-26th July) and BITM So, for now, while I rush around going (26th July- 2nd August) will run camps on the greyer, all you need do is book on, and Basingtoke Canal. We end July with the 2nd volunteer to cook – simple really. If you need week on restoring the lock in Droitwich (26th to contact me, try July- 2nd August): this camp will be brickdave.worthington@tiscali.co.uk, or if you work and concrete construction, and the plan would rather use the telling bone, try 01732 is that by the end of this one the Lock will be 365615 or 07799 794099. (OK, I can hear at least half way to completion. those of you who have seen me struggling August sees WRG complete the lock at with a mobile phone chuckling at this point, Droitwich, two camps on the Montgomery but I promise to practice) extending Aston nature reserve and another Dave Worthington week on the Cotswolds - and there will be (or Daddy Cool for the moment, and hopmuch more about these in the next Navvies. ing - with your help - to stay that way)

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“If the new girls think it’s always this luxurious they’ll go home and tell everyone WRG men are pansies...”

London WRG

...on the Chelmer & Blackwater...

home and tell everyone WRG men are pansies. “Usually we work until about midnight and then we all shelter under a dock leaf and Conversation with my boyfriend, ahead of share a small packet of mini cheddars for the Chelmer & Blackwater dig: supper,” pipes up Tim, who’s noticed there are new girls on this dig who may well be Up For It. Sophie: Darling – Do you fancy coming Luckily London WRG’s reputation for away for the weekend? We’ll probably extreme hardiness is saved when the sewage sleep on the floor of a church hall and system backfires and the ladies’ showers start spend every daylight hour doing hard, flooding with ‘solid matter’. Everyone breathes dirty manual labour. On the plus side, a sigh of relief (but not through their noses). sometimes it doesn’t rain. Darling: Actually I’m busy that weekend. London WRG’s reputation is restored! “It’s not poo, it’s mud!” insists dig leader Conversation with my friend Rachel, ahead of Helen, before Eleanor heroically cleans it up. Once we’ve established that the accomthe Chelmer & Blackwater dig: modation for this dig is far, far superior to anywhere else we’ve ever stayed, been or Sophie: Rach? Do you fancy coming away for the weekend? There will be men. heard about, ever, we go to the pub to celebrate our good fortune. Rachel: Ok. Saturday: The next morning we stroll I admit the above is a précis of the conversa- along to site, which is on a canal which joins the Thames estuary near the little fishing tions I had with my nearest and dearest but village of Maldon, famous for supplying the suffice it to say that Darling still refuses to believe scrub bashing can be a better way to famous Delia Smith with her famous Maldon spend his weekend than watching football in Salt. Which, if you haven’t tried it, is very like normal salt but 6 times more expensive. a pub in Chiswick. Luckily my mate Rachel After digs such as the poor old Wendohas more balls and she dragged her friend ver Arm where the canal’s fallen into such Jane along as a birthday treat. I hadn’t met Jane before the weekend but I thought that if disrepair that it’s really just a dry ditch, it’s this girl’s idea of a treat is coming away on a good to see a happy, healthy and functioning waterway which is obviously a real local WRG weekend, we’d probably get along like asset and well-used. a house on fire. On the Chelmer & Blackwater, the canal Friday: “The accommodation isn’t not only fulfils that most basic of criteria normally this good”, I feel obliged to tell (being a hole with some water in) but it’s them both as we are shown around the obviously well-used and well-loved. In fact, Heybarn. A sizeable barge kitted out with a it’s ticking along quite nicely without WRG’s kitchen and large social room, the Haybay is help: on this dig we’ve just been draughted basically a floating scout hut, albeit a rather in to do some hairdressing. The moorings superior one. Downstairs are 8 snug little are choked with craft and the overgrown cabins with bunks and insane luxuries like banks are lined with little sheds that you pillows and showers. could maybe call summerhouses if you were “Yeah, we don’t usually get beds or in a generous frame of mind. anything,” Martin chimes in, worried they’ll When I was growing up my Dad used think WRG weekends are cushy. “Or hot showers,” says James, trying to to have one such shed, which he used for the purpose of avoiding my mother. In this mansound tough. The honour of WRG men is ner they avoided divorce and serious viounder threat! If the new girls think it’s always lence. I can see that the Chelmer and Blackthis luxurious on a London dig, they’ll go

Chelmer & Blackwater Jan 12-13

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water sheds serve a valuable social purpose for the domestic contentment of the Maldon saltworkers. After all, if the towpath’s so overgrown that they lose access to their sheds, divorce may become unavoidable. If they’re too busy divorcing to make Delia’s salt, Delia won’t be able to write her cook books and then where will the nation be? With no-one to teach us how to boil eggs, we’ll be catapulted back into the dark ages and be forced to sit around in the dark gnawing raw meat. Goodness only knows what will become of Norwich City. Mindful of this threat to civilisation as we know it, London WRG set to with the loppers. Entire hedgerows fell under the assault of our bowsaws, a legion of blackthorns were despatched; passing visitors from California saw our bonfires and wept. 11 o’clock came and went with shrieks of horror: the gas had blown out and tea was nearly 22 minutes late. “Of course, normally we have tea on the dot of 11,” Helena assures Rachel and Jane. Worse still, we’ve forgotten to pack the biscuits in the brew kit. As it’s her birthday, we let Liz walk the mile back to camp in search of our custard creams. Too late we realise we should have sent someone else along to make sure Liz didn’t eat them all on the walk back. Rachel and Jane seem to be enjoying themselves and they’re making matchsticks of the hawthorn hedges. It’s always difficult to describe to ‘folk back home’ what it is that so appeals about these digs – it’s often hard to explain to your loved ones why you go away from them so much at the weekends – and it was a relief for me that these visitors understood and appreciated what it was that keeps me coming back. WRG for me is a community that you opt into – it hard to reconcile it sometimes with your permanent community back home. Later I realised that I’d been a bit nervous about bringing people from my ‘real life’ into my neatly-compartmentalised WRG existence. Would they understand? I think the only parallel situation must be bigamy. By mid-afternoon we’ve made one hell of a dent in the foliage lining the bank side. Married men start sneaking back to their sheds clutching broken clocks and fused toasters (‘I’m going to my shed to get this fixed, dear’). Some of them feel guilty and join in the scrub clearance and their overexcited dogs are soon running about clutching sticks. London WRG are starting to flag though. “I’m so OVER scrub bashing,” de-

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clares Helena, who had a week of it over the New Year. Even WRG Tart and self-confessed canal-addict Martin is bored of brush cutting. Never mind guys, soon the season will be over. We knock off as the light fades and scramble for a space in the boat. It’s a difficult balancing act even with the Burco as ballast. “We can either take Moose or 3 other people,” says Tim at the rudder. Back at the Haybay, the delicious cooking smells from the galley are managing to mask the appalling smell of sewage still emanating from the ladies’ showers. Mel’s cooking cottage pie and two sorts of crumble, so whilst she’s busy in the kitchen we toast Chad and Ellie’s recent engagement and admire the engagement ring. As it’s Liz’s birthday, her dad joins us for dinner and later we have a cake. “Essex WRG would all be in bed by now,” Frank says wistfully at 10.30pm. “Please may I join Essex WRG?” I yawn. Later there are heroic efforts to drag ourselves to the pub but this amounts to very little and all four bunks in my cabin are full by 11pm. Sunday: Mel overcomes her horror of mushrooms to cook us a slap-up breakfast. We’re on site at the crack of ten to recommence our annihilation of the foliage. Midmorning we’re joined by a man in his eighties who strips down to his pants for his daily swim in the canal. We manage not to titter as he dons a pair of clogs to wander the towpath surveying our work. “Apparently they’re thirty years old but he had to get them repainted last spring,” Helena informs us. Later that day we’re astonished to find we’ve done all of the work we had scheduled. Some bloke from Essex water pops along to say ta very much and…er… would we mind tidying the place up a bit now seeing as we’ve made such a mess of it? We redouble our efforts to burn everything we’ve cut down and cut the tree stumps right down to the ground like we should have done in the first place. By the time the light fades the bank is transformed. Reluctantly we take our leave of the Heybay which is now bobbing enthusiastically on choppy waters, reeking of sewage. We all agree it’s been a brilliant dig and the newbies seem to have enjoyed it immensely. I can honestly say the Heybay provided the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. Highly recommended for other groups – so long as they don’t mind a bit of poo. Sophie Smith


“Helena, James and I are on pump duty which involves splashing around in what looks like an enormous spillage of Frappuccino”

London WRG

..and on the Wendover Arm...

Wendover Arm: 2-3 Feb

Martin Ludgate

Tim Lewis

For the first time ever I am first to arrive at a dig - just goes to show that Birmingham must be very central! James and I set up camp in the Robin Hood pub after failing miserably to find the accommodation - the Scout Hut in Tring.   A cosy corner of the pub becomes increasingly populated by WRGies.  The most cunning amongst the crowd get a lift back to the accomm leaving the rest of us to stumble back home (well, back to the hut).  The good news for those who walk back is that the toaster has been unloaded and had been put into operation!   After breakfast we leave for site - this weekend we have the luxury of not having to Helena has an ‘out-of-wellie’ experience make sandwiches (and even get treated to homemade flapjack at tea break) - thanks Rowena and Suzie!  We meet up with the locals at site compound who explain that the work will involve pumping water over the temporary bund at the current limit of the restored length of channel, digging a manhole cover out, scrub bashing, cutting and bending rebar and erecting some formwork and shuttering on one of the mooring bays.  After sorting out which tools would be needed we all travel over to the main site. We divide up into groups and disperse along the towpath.  Moose and the scrub bash team (Maria, Purple Fairy, Stuart, Alan, Bob, Richard and Tim) get to work on the first bonfire.  Moose is first to fall victim to the gloop after taking a tumble and getting plastered in the stuff.  The locals spend the weekend driving excavators and tracked dumpers along the canal bed digging out loads of the mud. Helena, James and I are on pump duty which involves splashing around (or crunching around after we have broken the ice!!! yes the weekend was a tad chilly) in what looks like an enormous spillage of Frappuccino.  Our day involves using lots of technical skills - namely the ability to ‘sloosh’ rhythmically to encourage all the gloopy water nearer the pump.  Helena and I have several “out-of-wellie” experiences.  Mine involves me scrambling up the A shed emerges from undergrowth by the Chelmer bank in my socks leaving my

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David Miller

Martin Ludgate

wellies stuck in the mud which have to be dug out later, and Helena’s ends up with her washing her feet in the icy cold canal under the bridge. We return the accomm where those of us covered in clay attempt to get clean slightly tricky when the washbasins aren’t big enough even for hands - a bucket (after cobwebs and inhabitants have been removed) serves the purpose well enough. The evening’s entertainment is the London WRG AGM which seems to pass by relatively quickly (Farleigh the Bear having decided to keep his opinions to himself) and painlessly (large quantities of beer and Pringles having been consumed).  We are joined by Kate and Bobby for a lovely dinner of chicken pie and mash followed by chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce.  Later some of us watch the Waterworld DVD (featuring London WRG on the Mon & Brec) and some energetic souls walk to the pub. On Sunday the pumping team are out of a job so we (joined by Bobby and Krzysiek and later by Sleepy David) volunteer to bend Formwork and reinforcing for mooring bays the rebar into the formwork needed for the mooring bays.  The locals have developed a unique system for this; however, unfortunately, some of the pieces of the necessary bending frame had been dismantled and scavenged for another job so our energy turns to burning the brush at the end of the site compound and filling in the ruts in the roadway with barrows of rubble.  Krzysiek, James, David and Olly focus on cutting the rebar to size with bolt cutters whilst I decide to race them with the Stihl saw after said saw has been abandoned for inefficiency reasons.  Whilst the Stihl saw is not quicker than blokes with bolt cutters at first, as soon as the blade starts to warm up there’s no contest: the cutters are abandoned and we take it in turns with the Stihl saw, producing three large piles of rebar for the pipework capping. Back at the other site I gather that there has been another enormous bonfire and a team has done a great job on completing the formwork and shuttering before a concrete pour on the Monday morning. On return to the accommodation the tools and equipment are sorted into different vehicles and we all go our separate ways.  Despite the traffic jams (and with the help of the AA required for Rowena’s car) we all get home safely. Melanie Parker Cutting re-bar the$hard way (left) and the easy way (right)

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“BW refused us permission to work on the grounds that we were inexperienced...”

WRG Forestry Team

WRGFT roundup 2006-7

WRG Forestry: the last two years gists on these two jobs, in fact being superWe have been busy in this time, admittedly not as much as in previous years but when your ship’s rudder is damaged it’s not always easy to sail in a straight line, which probably should lead onto “when zee seagulls follow zee trawler it is because” etc.etc. Think I could be writing for the wrong publication here….. me hearties. So what have we been up to? Well Alison has been out on The Hollinwood and Mon. & Brec. Canals flying the flag whilst Su Webster and I joined her at Llanymynech Wharf one weekend with 5-star accommodation provided by Alison’s Uncle. Jen and I spent a day on the MB&B clearing trees from the wash walls on a NW weekend then spent months trying to explain to British Waterways that their presumptions regarding my health & safety procedures in a pic. published in a well known canal magazine were unfounded! Things got even worse next month when British Waterways stopped us from working on the Grantham canal both on the Bonfire Bash and on work in Harlaxton cutting. We were organising a forestry project prior to the trail boat rally which would have included in our personnel two professional tree surgeons I know, who were willing to give up their time to come and join us for a week. BW refused us permission to work on the grounds that we were inexperienced, and you can imagine how I felt when I had to cancel this event. We may never get the chance to work with such experienced, ‘inexperienced’ climbers ever again. Not one to bear grudges with BW, we paid two further visits to Foxton in 2006 not working on the incline this time but undertaking preparatory work on the ‘fairy path’ and removing some dangerous ash trees on the visitor car park. Not exactly restoration work - and there was some heartfelt discussions over this type of work - but I felt that we desperately needed practice to keep up our skills level: more on this subject later. We were working more closely with BW ecolo-

vised by an ecologist on the former. It was after this that Su and I decided to attend an Arboriculture and Bats course to gain a little more knowledge on this subject. So you could say that we are both bats but what’s new? We helped kickstart the restoration of Orchard Lock on the Cotswolds with WRG SW in Oct 06 with BW’s ecologist, Clare Guy in attendance. Clare’s views on ecology and restoration I found refreshing compared to the hard line stance of some ecologists I have met over the years. Sadly she no longer works for BW leaving the Gloucester office before the Cotswold project ‘collapsed’ but not before assisting me on a site visit to Over on a project which unfortunately has not come to fruition yet. We had some fun at Orchard Lock with a brand new 18m tracked mobile platform and a brand new tracked chipper. Together with trailers and a brand new WRG van we reckoned we had close-on £100,000 of kit that weekend. No wonder the locals got upset but that’s another story... A visit by us all in November to Froghall coincided with a tree planting ceremony by the basin in memory of ‘himself’. I’d never visited the completed basin before so it was more than a little emotional to revisit this site with all its memories. These were swiftly washed away with the aid of a few pints up at the Fox and Goose. Nice to see again so many old faces. So that was 2006. The following year has been a little more disjointed in some respects with Clive and Martin Worsley teaming up on the Wilts & Berks and Grand Western while the rest of the team has paid visits to the Lichfield and Droitwich canals. So what does 2008 hold in store? Well probably a personnel change for one thing. When Tenko and I set up WRG Forestry it was with the aim of providing a service ‘a cut above the rest’ if you’ll excuse the pun. That’s why we branched off into climbing. (Oh yes, keep ‘em coming) I think what we need to do now is to find out who out there is happy

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doing what. Not everybody wants to fell a ‘large’ tree; some are probably quite happy just paddling along as they are. By now every chainsaw operator on the WRG list should have received a letter from Jenny Black relating to insurance and refresher training and not before time. I’m a great believer in training and I don’t think that just because I received a certificate of competence 15 years ago that it is still relevant today. For one thing in that amount of time the training schedules have changed dramatically, new techniques have evolved and certain practices have been outlawed. However the NPTC certificates are issued for life there is no scheme for re assessment; what there is however - and what is recommended - is refresher training at 2-3 year intervals for us casual users. What I’m hoping to try and arrange with the approval of WRG is a series of refresher training weekends with possible venues in the North, Midlands and South areas with the same trainer(s) so that we can get some continuity in the training. We might also be able to extend that to some first time training if enough people are interested and arranging NPTC assessment for those who have had the relevant training. Remember my words in a former article, Lantra Awards for training and a certificate of attendance and NPTC for assessment and certificate of competence. If the insurance company are happy with Lantra training stick with that if you don’t want to go into an NPTC exam type situation but steer clear of the ITA scheme with its restrictions on felling sizes. In the said letter a dia. of 20cm (that’s 8” in real money) is quoted as the maximum for felling under the cover provided by the insurers. So the way I read it at the moment, with the extra insurance cover only applying to WRG Forestry and the Basingstoke Canal boys, only Clive and Alison can fell trees up to 15” (their NPTC limit) I can fell up to 30” dia. (my NPTC limit) and the rest of you and that means everyone is limited to the 8” maximum. News to me as well, folks. Possibly before WRG FT was formed we (like the rest of you) were felling trees we shouldn’t have. Getting a bit too complicated, I agree: let’s sort out the refresher training and take it from there. I personally feel that this refresher training should be offered to all users, WRG or IWA, hopefully all society and canal trusts will be in receipt of the above information. If your local chainsaw operative has been

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trained and assessed to fell trees up to 38cm (15”) or more then they should be allowed to do so but get your details up to head office before starting work. Let’s go down to the old Nitts & Stuffs, haven’t been there for a while. Local organiser Sydney Wood has invited WRG FT over for a little clearance work on the Torchwood section. Anyway he’s been using a saw since 1953 which is probably the last time he had one in pieces so no problems there then! He has however brought along a new volunteer: Archie McSporran who has just come down from the fair country after working for Forest Enterprise in Dramnachullish forest for 16 years formerly as a motor manual operative and latterly as a training instructor. You get the picture... You know what’s coming next. So Sydney takes us to site and we (that is, me) hesitantly enquires as to any sort of qualifications, certificates etc. Sydney promptly informs me that he has just felled that old gnarly oak in one corner of the site looking at least to be 42” in girth and probably about 300 years old - what’s the problem? “Hmmmm” says I. Undaunted Sydney without catching his breath and maybe sensing a problem here carries on “...and Archie’s last training exercise was on some very large Coast redwoods over 60m in height”. We find Sydney’s old Fastco certificate “and you’ve never sent this up to head office?” I query. “What head office?” he replies. Archie thankfully shows me his NPTC id card with impressive list of certificates including the elusive CS33 which enables him to fell big, I mean big, big trees. “Great!” I say, “now all we have to do is get a copy to head office… next week and you’ll be able to fell trees up to 8” in dia. And you Sydney are going to have to undertake a refresher course as a minimum, that old papyrus Fastco cert. ain’t worth the papyrus it’s printed on...” As I feel myself being propelled airborne into the cut I cry out “but you could work as WRG Forestry, Archie”. Too late, I hit the plop. No amount of the folding stuff will get him in now! Far fetched, of course, but there are some elements of truth that I come across quite regularly. Perhaps all chainsaw users wanting to fell over 8”, together with any other climbers out there, might come under the Forestry insurance umbrella. I’d be interested to know your views. Graham ‘Sparky’ Robinson


navvies issue 348 April 2028

“Crikey what was that? A photon torpedo?” “No, just Tim taking another flash photo”

Editor’s Log, stardate 1/4/2028 Welcome to the new-look Navvies issue 348. The good news is that we have a full programme of canal camps lined up for summer 2028, including three weeks restoring boat lifts on the Rhine-Danube Canal, a fortnight on the Martian canals, a reopening festival on the Thames Berks & Andover Canal and a final week on the Montgonery Canal. The not so good news is that I’m afraid we don’t have a chairman’s page in this issue as Mike was too late sending it again. But that should finally be remedied in the next issue when we commission the WRG time machine. The Editor published by: waterway recovery group national co-ordinating body for volunteer labour on the waterways of the known universe

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navvies

issue 348 April 2028

London WRG Report

London WRG’s volunteers spend a weekend in what’s left of South Wales...

Work party report for the Charlotte Church Memorial Canal (formerly the Mon & Brec) London WRG spent a pleasant weekend recently on the Charlotte Church Memorial Canal (formerly the Mon & Brec), scrub bashing and culling the mutant swamp rats which are sadly now so infesting this quiet area of the Republic of Wales. In attendance on this dig were the usual suspects: Chad Rothery (nee Reed) just back from a second honeymoon on the fifth moon of Endor with wife Elly, Helena Howarth, Tim Lewis, Liz Wilson, Frank and Nigel Lee. Absent were Helen Dobbie, David Miller and Paul Ireson; the tragic victims of last month’s exploding burco incident which readers may already be familiar with from the news reports. Our thoughts of course are with their families. Despite expecting her fifth child any day now, Melanie Parker arrived on the Saturday morning and there was much speculation in the group about who the father might be this time. James Butler OBE, CBE also took some time out from his role as president of the Caravan Club to lend a hand on the Sunday. Also present were youngsters William Nelson and Sophie Williamson, enjoying a bit of fresh air now that they are both out on bail. Edwina Walker (formerly Ed Walker) also joined us on her first dig following her recent significant operation. Also in attendance were Moose, Maria and their new puppy, Major #3 (London WRG were sorry to hear about the recent death of Major #2 and we were pleased to see the cloning has again been successful). We were also joined by Mark II, who has recently defected from KESCRG to join London WRG following a disagreement over KESCRG’s new no-clothes policy. Martin Ludgate, who recently opted to have his personality downloaded into the body of a small brushcutting android so that he can attend more than one dig at once, attended ‘in spirit’ whilst his original body went on a simultaneous dig with KESCRG on the soon-tobe-finished Montgomery canal. We understand from KESCRG that Martin’s new bionic arm also came in very handy and was apparently ‘just like having an extra tirfor’. We also heard of plans by the British Library to have the rest of Martin’s personality downloaded to microchip for storage in their transportation reference archives. Best “No, no, lay them straight or they’ll never burn!” - Cybermartin of luck with that Martin! the brushcutting android provides useful bonfire lighting advice On the Saturday

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navvies

issue 348 April 2028

“Our light sabres made light work of the worst of the tree stumps...”

London WRG Report

morning, after making our way to the site by hoverboard, we found the canal site much overgrown by brambles and blackthorn and in need of attention. Our light sabres fortunately made short work of the worst of the tree stumps and we employed a range of medium-sized handguns to despatch the little critters (our thanks to the local canal trust for supplying these firearms). Work proceeded slowly in the balmy February heat and was interrupted only by a brief tropical rainstorm at 11am. Sheltering from the acid downpour, we enjoyed our tea break safe in our vehicles. This also gave everyone a chance to check out the new Ford hovervehicle, RFB#4. Later that day, Helena sustained an unfortunate leg injury and some arterial bleeding following an attack by one of the mutant swamp rats. Following this incident a cloud of acid rain passed overhead and we were forced to take shelter until it passed. As the rain didn’t stop, we retired early back to the accommodation where we all presented our ID cards and underwent the usual biometric testing before receiving our lasagne. Although we did discuss a trip to the local pub, so few of the group were over the legal drinking age of 55 that we decided it wasn’t worthwhile. The next morning we returned to site to find tunnelling activity by the vengeful swamp rats had caused large sections of the canal bank to collapse during the night. We set about laying traps for the remaining rodents and passed the rest of the morning skinning those that we had shot the previous day, which provided some solace. The skins were later sold to raise funds for the ongoing Droitwich Barge Lock appeal. We continued to scrub bash and lay Mark II (right) with giant swamp-rat (left) traps during the afternoon until we got almost as far as the Cymbran tunnel. Unfortunately this part of the canal ventures a bit too close to the Bluetongue Plague Pits of Pontypool, so we couldn’t proceed any further until the zone is decontaminated in 2031. That’s a date for the diary! Altogether a smooth and productive dig with none of the unfortunate casualties sustained on our last weekend. And our thoughts are of course with their relatives. Everyone agreed that, as usual, a weekend’s digging with London WRG was miles better than staying at home fretting over the food shortages, rampant ebola epidemic and bitter war with France. Thanks to Ellie for volunteering to reconstitute the food! *Please note that next Tuesday’s scheduled social has now been postponed to avoid clashing with the state funeral of Victoria Beckham KCMG.

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navvies

issue 348 April 2028

Transport Update

How to use the hover feature on our brand new vehicle RFB#4

Transport Some of you will have seen the “new, new, new” RFB. It is very shiny and we would like to keep it that way, so a few points that are worth bearing in mind: 1

You can ONLY use the hover function on the road if you have both category 324 on your driver authorisation digi card AND category 28b on your driving license card. People without the necessary driving license category can of course continue to use the hover function on site if they have 324 on their DA card. Come on folks, it isn’t that hard to work out…..

2

Although the van has a hover function THE TRAILER DOES NOT! We know that some people have managed to go down the road in hover mode with a trailer on the back, DON’T DO IT! This applies even more so off road (yes, I’m talking to you Harry Watts, you are old enough to know better). We are looking into hover trailers but these will be some time away.

3

Although the hover function does mean the van will not get stuck off road, it doesn’t move gateposts/ treestumps/other vans out of the way - look what you are doing!

4

Apparently some people have not yet got the message about “Autodrive”. This van will not allow you to access motorways until Autodrive is engaged. This is to prevent people attempting to manually drive on the motorways - we all know where that leads (more points than old Mike Palmer in a 2027 Jag). Note that as per the recent legislation, all the vans will be reprogrammed with this function by the end of the year.

5

Despite all the hype about Hyperhyd, this van runs on good old fashioned Hydrogen. It will run on Hyperhyd as well so just buy whatever is available.

In other news, the Pasty Waggon is back on the road again, with its new engine and gearbox (only the third engine in 20 years). At a recent wrg committee meeting it was worked out that following the accident a few years ago the only original part left is the pasty oven. If you can prise the keys (yes, it still uses keys, not a prox tag) out of Bungles hands, remember you are driving a classic vehicle that still uses brake discs! It won’t stop as quickly as you are used to, Bungle will mumble something anorak like about it being better than brake drums… just ignore him.

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How metal had to be machined before


navvies

issue 348 April 2028

Bungle is still rebuilding a 1996 JCB 3CX excavator. Will he ever finish it? Plant

Plant Report

Bungle is still restoring the ancient JCB 803 - ‘Blue’…. In the last episode, we finally got the engine sorted and new tracks fitted. This time we look at the hydraulics. You may remember that the reason all this work started was because of a minor hydraulic fault, three years later we finally on the home straight of a full rebuild. The slew is controlled by a valve assembly under the floor, with the cab removed this was much easier to get at so we took it out. It is completely knackered, hardly surprising I suppose. The problem is that since that huge accident with the Dancing Diggers that caused JCB to close, all the parts are sourced from some chap in the midlands who bought the stock. I quoted the serial number to them and when the bloke stopped laughing, he asked if we were restoring the machine to show at a museum. When I explained we wanted to use it he laughed some more then hung up. Not exactly customer service then…. How we ever coped before holophones I don’t know, a few views of the valve block were sent to Welsh Phil (since south Wales fell into the sea a few years ago, he has of course moved, but we already have a Bristol Phil, and hovertrain driving Bristol Phil is too much of a mouthful, so for the purposes of this article we will continue to call him Welsh Phil). Phil doesn’t have Etherwave yet so we had to send the views by email - how quaint! Welsh Phil then made us a new valve block using tools called a “Lathe” and a “Mill” - this is how metal was machined before Ectotanks. Can you imagine Health and Safety letting people use machines like these nowadays - I mean blades and belts whizzing around - you could hurt yourself! The new valve unit arrived and was fitted worked first time - thanks Phil! Next job was to re pipe the boom controls can you believe we found some old style hoses they must be over 15 years old, amazing! We are having to get the pipes made specially, it is hard to get metric thread pipes made nowadays. Of course, since hydrocarbon based oils are no longer available, we are using new seals that are designed for the vegetable based fluids (it was the use of this stuff that caused all the problems in the first place). Next time - the cab goes back on, and then ectotanks existed: Welsh Phil uses his ancient ‘lathe’ comes off again...

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navvies

Camp Report

issue 348 April 2028 Grandaddy Cool reports from the Waltham Abbey Festival Camp

National Festival Camp Report: 25th - 34th August 2027 Once again, the National was held at Waltham Abbey. It looks as though the Livingstone government may soon withdraw the ‘temporary’ ban on non-essential freight movements, following strong opposition from the House of Lords, led on our behalf, by ‘Biscuit’ Baron McCarthy and Lord Redway and next year we may be able to move the Tardis to another site. However, it was good to be back on familiar ground and to see the same faces on the camp. The accommodation this year was superb – no marquee this year as we were allowed to use a small part of the new Heathrow Terminal 12. Positively palatial and only a short walk from site, this was part of the sponsorship deal with the Starbucks British Airports Authority (who haven’t yet obtained permission to use the new runways). The new backpumping scheme was put into operation and water from the Thames was pumped up the Lea giving a generous 8 inch depth, allowing all but the oldest licensable boats to attend. The crew had the usual problems with the rollasite. It appears that when the rolls were put back in the Tardis last year the numbering system went awry. Having laid out all the rolls it was discovered that they were in the wrong order and all 7 acres had to be rolled up, rearranged and re-laid. This amused some of the older navvies who launched into interminable tales about tracking and fencing that never went into the correct place first time. They soon shut up when it was discovered that they had placed the pseudo-mud across the entrance to the near-beer tent, instead of the main gate and the whole area had to be shuffled around. The fencing crew had an enjoyable time with the new Heras forcefield, although turning it on while standing astride the grid line turned out to be not as much fun as expected. It is expected that Chad will recover shortly and that no lasting damage has been done. The minor problem with the lavender boat crew was overcome when we managed to obtain suitable protective clothing and once these had been fitted with appropriate buoyancy aids, the HSE inspector was satisfied. He did point out that the standard Army issue NBC suits do not carry a Euro Standard kitemark but was prepared to overlook this. There are times when having the Chief of Defence staff on site can be a real help. Thanks, Rachel. Daddy Cool was given the opportunity to drive on the field (while site was closed to the public) and appeared to have a great time hovering around in RFB. Unfortunately noone told him that the hover function had not been fitted to any of the other vans, so it all went wrong when he attempted to deliver lunch to the lavender boat crew in NUH2. Happily the water at that point was very shallow and we were able to rescue both van and driver with very little damage to either. Obviously this episode gave the old boy a clear lead in the Bungle Award stakes. The evening entertainment for the campers included a quiz from Martin, and a ride on his new boat, Pulitzer II. This was enjoyed by all, although the absence of sunshine meant that the solar panels failed to do their job as well as they might, and occasionally we had to get out and push. The show itself was well attended, (prior to the beer tent problem), with large

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navvies

issue 348 April 2028

“Following the intervention of the riot police the crowds were dispersed by Sunday”

Camp Report

crowds flocking to see the British crochet team doing their stuff in the main arena and the evening entertainment proved very popular with the boaters and campers, with Fast Eddys’s Allstars proving very popular. It’s always good to see superstars give the likes of Jools and Courtney the opportunity to play in front of a large audience. Obviously, as was reported in all the national newscasts, the entertainment was closed down on Saturday. For those of you who may have missed it, a rumour went round on Saturday morning that the near-beer sold in the bar actually contained alcohol (for those who aren’t familiar with this, ask your parents). Within a short time word had spread and all 16 lanes of the M25 quickly became blocked as most of the population of South East England (sorry, I still can’t get used to referring to it as Europa NW) flocked to the show. Following the intervention of riot police the crowds were dispersed by Sunday, but we then had to erect signs assuring the public that there were no “noxious substances” on site. The tear-down was even quicker than usual with more of the exhibitors using selfpacking gear and as soon as the last one had hovered away, the site was rolled up and packed away. The end-of-festival party went well, providing much amusement to some of the younger campers who had not previously met barbecued food, and took some persuading to eat something that wasn’t taken out of a packet and microwaved. Next year, all being well, we will be off up north to a new site on the newly opened Grand Contour Canal in Newcastle. See you there.

Flashback to 1990 and a surprisingly prophetic entry by London WRG for the pageant at Little Venice. Indeed, as I’m sure the rally chairman said “Martin, that entry’s bloody prophetic”

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navvies

issue 348 April 2028

Navvies News

Lo-vis clothing Please note that following the discovery that most people will drive much more carefully if they don’t have seat-belts, crumple-zones, bull-bars and all the other paraphernalia that people used to think made them invincible in their cars, the same principle is being applied by the Health & Safety Executive to on-site clothing. As of this summer’s camps, high visibility jackets will therefore be banned, and a new system of ‘lo-vis’ clothing will be implemented. All volunteers on chamber clearances will wear brown, bricklayers will dress in dark red, and scrub-bashing will be done in green. Be sure to follow this code of practice, and watch out for the HSE inspectors on the prowl... if you can see them, that is.

The Cotswold reopening, safety clothing, and pouring coal on troubled waters... supplying sacks of special chemically synthesised coal dust to add to the water, as natural coal imported from the asteroid belt is simply too expensive these days. Cotswolds reopening

There was an excellent turnout for the official reopening by Lord Evans of Willow Grange of the recently completed Cotswold Canals. Congratulating everyone involved in the project, he singled out as the key to the entire restoration the moment back in 2008 when BW made the inspired decision to “stand back and give the project the breathing space that it so desperately needed in order to thrive”. On behalf of the Kingdom of Brimscombia, King Bruce I pointed to the declaration of independence, freeing up the Cutlery classes local authority from any UK or EU taxes, as the key to funding the project, while the Environment Agency Chairman saw the EA’s Please note that although we hope to run cuttlery training classes again at this hard line on flood risk as crucial to the year’s training weekend, unless you have project’s success: “If the decision hadn’t knives, forks and spoons on your WRG aubween made to use the route of the recently thorisation card you should avoid camps 04, abandoned A419 road rather than the much 06, 09 and 12 as these are expected to fealess suitable old canal bed, we would never ture cooks who have the appropriate CITB have seen such a high-class, sustainable, training and certifcation in the use of kitchen viable restoration.” knives and will be serving solid food. All “And what’s more”, added IWA Chairother camps are liquid diets only so you will man Angela Lamen, “the choice of an entirely not need any special training beyond what is new route for much of the restoration made it provided by the introductory hologram. simpler to increase the gauge to 14ft to suit the Dutch Barge fraternity. And that, in turn, Book now for the BCN Dirty-up made it so much easier for us to really annoy them by building it to 12ft 6in anyway.” Concerned at how clinically clean the Finally on behalf of WRG, Mike waters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Palmer briefly paid tribute to the WRG’s are becoming, this event aims to return final contribution (rebuilding Sapperton some of these waterways to something like Tunnel using stone salvaged from the ruins their traditional state to enhance the expe- afterthe infamous Selsley Village Hall rience of boaters and others enjoying them. Curry Disaster*) before departing hurThis year we will be working from the riedly for the Montgomery Canal. As he Icknield Portopolis complex via the rushed off to catch the Oswestry Sponlaneland theme park to the recently hovertrain from Sappertoni Temple Meads renamed Shiny White Country Museum. Station he was heard to mutter “I reckon British Waterways will be helping us by one more camp should do it...” *Of course it was the typo in Navvies that said ‘Curry Fight’ page 08 instead of ‘Curry Night’ that should really get the credit for it. ...Ed


We return to (relatively) normal after the last 8 pages with the answers to some questions you’d probably rather not ask our regulars...

Beginners’ guide

...to canals and locks

Everything you ever wanted to know about canals but were too afraid to ask

Martin in case he went on and on about flange shafts and the historical evolution of lock gates and the decline of government funding and stuff like that for ages when all you really wanted to know was

how did the Druids dig them in the first place and can you see them from space?

…with Harriet the curious Hedgehog

Wot is a canal? A canal is an artificial channel for water. Canals are used for irrigation (shifting water about the place) and for transportation (shifting goods and people about the place). Ok that wasn’t too technical – dare I ask about locks?

Locks are used to allow a canal to take a reasonable direct line across country that is not level. Early canal builders often tried to get away without using locks by detouring around hills. This worked okay for fairly flat routes but as engineering became more ambitious, they realised locks allowed for more ambitious routes. A lock is basically a chamber, large enough to accommodate a boat, with gates at both ends. How do locks work? In the picture, the boat needs to travel from a higher water level to a lower one. The boat owner needs to open the nearest gate and then close it behind them. The boat now needs to let the water in the closed chamber flow out until it is level with the lower body of water, sort of like emptying a bathtub. As the water level in the chamber goes down, the boat descends with it. When the chamber is finally drained to the same level as the lower body of water, the boat owner can open the next gate and steer out. For going up to a higher water level, the boat is steered into the drained lock, the gate is closed and water from the upper body of water is allowed to flow in. When the levels match, the upper gate is opened and the boat steers out. Tell us something interesting about canals. The first attempt to build the Panama canal (by a French engineer in 1850) failed because his Caribbean workforce complained they kept getting attacked by zombies from the surrounding jungle 1 . Next week…a bit of history 1

This must be true: I read it on the internet.

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Navvies diary

Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Apr 26/27

London WRG Thames & Severn Canal: Dig Deep project

Apr 26/27

wrgSW

Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge

May 3/4

KESCRG

Wendover Arm

May 3/4

wrgNW

Chesterfield Canal: Sat & Sun only.

May 3/4/5

Essex WRG

Wilts & Berks Canal

May 3/4/5

wrgBITM

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice: BITM sales stall

May 10/11

NWPG

Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

May 10 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

May 10/11

WRG

WRG Training Weekend

May 15 Thu wrgNW

Ad Hoc meeting, 7.30pm

May 16-18

Rickmansworth Waterways Festival: Site Services and sales stall. Setup on Friday, open to public Sat & Sun.

wrgBITM

May 18 Sun WRG

Committee & Board Meetings

May 20-27

wrgSW

Grand Western Canal: Trailboat Festival (Tue to Tue. Open to public Sat 2

May 24-26

KESCRG

Wendover Arm Festival: Bhaji stall

May 24-26

wrgBITM

Wendover Arm Festival (Tring): Site Services and sales stall. Setup on Sat, open to

May 31/Jun 1 London WRG Chesterfield Canal Jun 7/8

KESCRG

Sussex Ouse: Isfield Lock

Jun 13-15

Essex WRG

Foxton Rally: Setting up on site on Friday

Jun 14/15

NWPG

Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project

Jun 21/22

wrgBITM

Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project

Jun 21 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jun 21-28

Camp 200803 Droitwich Barge Lock - Canal Camp

Jun 21-28

Camp 200804 Chesterfield Canal Camp

Jun 28/29

London WRG Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

Jun 28-Jul 5 Camp 200805 Grand Western Canal Camp: Lowdwells Lock Jun 28-Jul 5 Camp 200806 Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation - Canal Camp: Baylham Lock Jul 2-9

wrgSW

Saul Junction Festival: Site Services (Wed to Wed. Open to public Fri 4 to

Jul 5/6

Essex WRG

To be arranged

Jul 5-12

Camp 200809 Wilts & Berks Canal Camp: Dig Deep project at Seven Locks. Led by KESC

Jul 5-12

Camp 200807 Grand Western Canal Camp: Lowdwells Lock

Jul 5-12

Camp 200808 Cotswold Canals Camp: Gough’s Orchard Lock

Jul 12-19

Camp 200811 Cotswold Canals Camp: Gough’s Orchard Lock

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

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Canal Camps cost ÂŁ49 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 200803') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk Tim Lewis

07802-518094

Adrian Fry

london@wrg.org.uk amf@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Jenny Black

training@wrg.org.uk

Jean Helliwell

24 to Mon 26)

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Mike Palmer

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

Mitch Gozna

07768-525469

mitchgozna@hotmail.com

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

Graham Hawkes

0118-941-0586

grahamhawkes@btinternet.com

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

o public Sun & Mon. Dave Wedd

Tim Lewis

Sun 6)

CRG.

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Adrian Fry

amf@wrg.org.uk

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

01923-711114

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

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

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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

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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


Letters

Thank you to everyone who made the Barn Dance such a success once again

...to the editor

Dear Martin The fifth annual Navvies’ Barn Dance at Benson Parish Hall was a great success with a sell out crowd of nearly 150 people making for a great atmosphere. 450 sausages and 50kg (110lb) of mash was eaten, and three barrels of ale were drunk (along with a few Navvies!) Huge thanks are due to Helen ‘Bushbaby’ Gardner for all her hard work organising and running around, Eli for slaving over the hot stoves and Nic for sorting out and running the bar. Also to Bill Nicholson (and girls) for running the raffle and whisky game, and to the fabulous band Tumbledown Dick for getting (almost) everyone to dance. Plus the army of little helpers who chipped in here and there all evening serving, washing up, etc. Finally, thank you also to everyone who came along and raised so much money for KESCRG, London WRG and NWPG. See you again next year! Bobby Silverwood A date for your diary: next year’s dance will be on Saturday February 28

Barn dance essentials: barndancers, beer, band and Bush! (plus her team of helpers, of course)

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Logistics

How clean is your kit? Guess what I did last time I sorted the kit out? The clue is in the title… And to be honest it’s not exactly something new – the main difference from usual is that I spent an awful lot of time cleaning the Curver boxes (see picture if you’re not squeamish!) and the cool box on the outside. They were disgusting! I suppose the shock came from the fact that the catering kit is usually the part that is clean when it comes to the trailers… Now I was going to write this in the style of a certain TV programme but I couldn’t face the thought of the research of watching those two annoying women so I’m just going to prattle on in my own way instead! Plus I don’t have a lot of time and Martin only needs a short article… I’ll admit that the cool box was actually more of an ingrained dirt build-up rather than just being caked in mud and that has more to do with the silly texture of it than lack of cleaning. We’ll not mention Anne Bayston, cotton buds or the yucky ‘hidden’ part of the cool box handle other than to say thanks very much! A veritable shiny cool box was the result of the right abrasive, a toothbrush and a good bit of elbow grease (works well on the griddle). As for the Curver boxes please can you wipe them down on the outside as well as inside. Believe me, after having cleaned the mould off them I appreciate that they have very un-user-friendly ledges on the outside but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore them. And when packing them in the trailers as I’ve said before please don’t thread the ratchet straps through the handles (see other pic) – their strength lies in the top surround and as long as they are properly stacked you only need to stop the whole lot toppling over (which to be honest isn’t very likely) by putting a strap over the edge and don’t overratchet it! Another item of catering kit that has seen better days is the griddle… far too much carbon burnt on. In the last few years we have had to strip the carbon off the griddles at the very least annually which wasn’t the

page 30

Jen Leigh

s

Not for the squeamish: mould on the food crates case before. I suspect it’s because people are not scraping them well enough. Please can you all ensure the cast iron is scraped thoroughly whilst in use. Alice does enjoy using the ‘Nitromors for carbon’ (and if I’m honest so do I!) but it costs money and we never needed to do it that frequently before. The fridge freezers always seem to need cleaning though (ask Harry!) so please could you take note that they too need a wipe down before being packed away. It would also help if you could unplug them on the last night of the camp (important if you have a camp out of the main season) so the freezer part can dry out rather than sit there rusting in the damp because it’s just been turned off and shut away in the trailer. Ta. It seems that the message of keeping the tools clean is slowly sinking in although Kit A’s tools are really quite filthy after either the October camp or the Bonfire Bash… hard to tell which as I was at neither! But generally speaking they are coming back a bit cleaner than they have done for some years please keep it up! I would like to say a huge thanks to The Bayston’s for providing the perfect B&B service including catering kit packing at a ridiculously late time and shopping for tools at auctions! You really are a great help and I very much appreciate it!! The main thing to remember is that you/your camp could be on the receiving end of a really smeggy kit and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that so please be mindful of how you leave it for others. Just Jen logistics@wrg.org.uk


Progress

Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the country begins for no very good reason with two canals beginning with ‘L’...

Lapal and Lichfield

For this reason it is now under construction commencing with a key feature in In the Birmingham districts of Edgbaston and the form of a new bridge to take it over the Lapal Canal in Harborne Lane. The first third Selly Oak, one of the largest non-city-centre projects in Europe is currently being underof this structure has been constructed over taken to develop the Queen Elizabeth Hospi- the winter period as if to establish just exactly how viable the first length of the Lapal tal into a comprehensive medical centre for the entire West Midlands. restoration project will be. Once conThe vast scale of this ten-year project structed, boating visitors should be able to moor in the former basin which will be involves a partnership between a large and diverse range of participants whose contribu- alongside the Sainsbury’s supermarket, to tion will augment that of the hospital trust shop for their supplies. There will then be the further possibility of an overnight stay and Birmingham City Council. Amongst them, Sainsbury’s are seeking to relocate to when the former Harborne Wharf adjoining, Selly Oak Park, has been restored as an new premises which they intend to build interim winding terminus. alongside the former junction of the derelict Coombeswood to Halesowen length of the Dudley No. 2 Canal (also known to restorers Lichfield and Hatherton Canals as the Lapal Canal) and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. A third feature in the triangu- The work at Tamworth Road on the Lichfield lar parcel of land which Sainsbury’s will deCanal has continued apace. The Aggregates velop is a new road to bypass Selly Oak and Levy Grant has to be spent by the end of provide an uncongested main route into March. Our own team and several visiting Birmingham from the South-West. Eventually groups have achieved a great deal in a short this road (A38) will sweep past the QEH site time, as have the environmental team. and pass underneath the railway and the W&B The new towpath wall below Lock 26 canal but, for the time being, it will serve as an has been constructed using the large blocks auxiliary access link into the hospital for the of recycled materials and fixed to the conconstruction plant and workers. crete foundation. The new footbridge has

David Miller

Stan Holland

Lapal Canal

A new bridge for the Lapal Canal at Halesowen...

...and a wall of ‘Lego’ recycled blocks at Lichfield

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Progress

Mont and Basingstoke... been installed over the tail of Lock 25 and looks wonderful. The offside wall through Sandra Attwood’s garden, partly financed by IWA, has been built and we should soon be able to let her have her garden back. There has been considerable scrub clearance alongside the A38 and up to the A51 with associated planting of trees and bulbs. The Borrocop Locks Park should be officially opened in April as part of the Lichfield Twinning celebrations.

“All is ready for the first Basingstoke dredging weekend by volunteers since 1993” - sadly not steam-powered this time

Borough Council, Sustrans and the Canal Authority. Sustrans are Project Managers. At the public consultation the Surrey & Hants Canal Society raised a number of concerns: in general we accept that towpath works are necessary, but on terms acceptable to the heritage environment of the canal, public safety for users of the towpath and the use of materials visually compatible with existing towpath surfaces. The long awaited draft of the Basingstoke Canal Conservation Management Plan arrived on the computer, 80 plus pages. A Montgomery Canal recovery programme and action for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has been Shropshire Union Canal Society restoration work parties have begun again and will be drafted and incorporated in the Conservation held on the first weekend of every month up Management Plan; some aspects are acceptable, and others certainly need clarification. to and including November. Work at Crickheath has been suspended The canal is a multi–user facility with navigaby the Society because of uncertainties retion and ecology interests requiring firm management to achieve improvements for all garding the site and the volunteer team is relocating to the stretch between Redwith interests and users of the canal. The Conserbridge (83) and Prices Bridge (84) to contrib- vation Management Plan will provide a manute to the ongoing work to extend the newly agement guide for the future working arrewatered section from Gronwen to Redwith. rangements on the canal. It is essential that The Society has also organised success- we try and achieve a balanced approach, ful winter work parties during February on rather than a return to detrimental conflict. the far end of the Montgomery Canal, the At Brookwood SSSI the Society is working with the Canal Authority to improve part not owned by British Waterways. These volunteers carried out a hedgelaying exercise marginal habitat but not close the winding on the line of the canal between Freestone hole to navigation. We consider a win /win Lock and Newtown which is currently owned result is possible, providing a precedent for by Severn Trent Water. Looking very much to future projects. the future, the Society are hoping to acquire Work party report: The weed growth this section so that the line of the canal into through Woodham and Woking had covered Newtown can be protected. the canal in places; working parties concenFinally, the Society is very pleased to trated on clearing the channel so that the have been awarded self supervising status illuminated boat gathering for December had for volunteer workparties after approval of its reasonable passage up the canal. A total of 8 Health and Safety Management system by weekends were expended clearing weed British Waterways. from the canal; this disrupted the volunteer programme, unfortunately Woking town centre still requires extensive work to recover Basingstoke Canal a cared-for appearance. Towpath improvement works are proposed for Deepcut: The new gates for lock 18 the Surrey section of the canal. Finance for were delivered to lock 15, the nearest road these works is being raised by a partnership delivery point for Deepcut locks. Our boat agreement with Surrey County Council, Woking Belfast Girl had a frustrating journey from St

page 32


Johns to lock 18: branches and leaf litter washed into the locks as they were filled, lodging behind the lower gates as they were operated; every gate opening had to be cleared so the gates fully opened before the dredger could enter or leave the lock. The passage to lock 18 took all day Friday and most of Saturday morning. The replacement of the gates also provided some challenges. On removal of the old gates, their pivot pins dropped out, the towpath side pin remaining in the support block. After a number of attempts the pin was recovered and the new gates lowered into position The top beams were at the same level and with the same water level clearance. Balance beams were normal on the towpath side but at 45 degrees on the offside, mitre posts and heel posts were at different heights on each gate. By Saturday night dusk descended; no choice but to close the gates, secure the site and return on Sunday. Andy and James (Canal Rangers) performed some chain saw carpentry, modifying the gates. Result: balance beams fitted and gates adjusted. The dredger was turned above lock 18 after water had been rundown from lock 28. At lunch time Sunday we started the return to St Johns. The new gates sealed as we left lock 18, but again debris accumulated in the lock chambers causing delay, it was dark before we cleared lock 12. Note: follow up checks confirmed a manufacturing error between gates. Workboat: a return to Ash Lock in the new year resulted in welding work and rust cleaning inside the cabin A security box for the Transit tool store was also modified during the weekend. Western end: Newbury Working Party Group returned to the Basingstoke, helping clear the growth from the canal banks. The western end has now been designated a Local Nature Reserve which we hope will enable funding for improvements on the canal. Dredging is a high priority involving volunteers. St Johns and Hermitage: The invasive weed in the Woodham and Woking sections of the canal has not yet spread upstream, so before working in Hermitage, the dredger and barges used at Woking had to be sterilised. A weekend of silt disposal from barges, steam cleaning and pumping residue away from the canal was an experience we would have missed if at all possible.

Progress

...and finally Wendover

All is ready for the first dredging weekend by volunteers for many years, since 1993 if my memory is correct. The silt dredged will be used to form marginal shallows for reed beds, filtering the surface water run off whilst providing habitat. Peter Redway

Wendover Arm After the February work party I was reminded of the immortal words of the poet, Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley” On the Friday morning all went well and the materials and formwork for the base of the mooring bay wall and pipe capping (we are capping over the pipeline that carries the water supply along the dry length of the canal as part of our work to rebuild the channel) were transported to the work site. Work carried on erecting the formwork for the first base of the mooring wall but it was not in our plan to complete this and pour the base until the March work party. On the Friday and Saturday as much as possible of the water in the ‘dry’ bed leading up to the temporary bund was pumped back over the bund. Let us hope that there is not another wet spell to fill it up again. The excavator and tracked dumpers worked all day Friday on clearing the layer of mud from the 100 or so metres of bed from the end of the completed pipe capping to the next manhole just into stage 2. It was slow progress as the glutinous mud was not very keen to part company with the dumpers! We were joined on Saturday by London WRG for the weekend excavation of two trial holes over the pipeline which showed that the route of the pipeline near the manhole was not as expected. There was also over a metre depth of spoil then to be excavated at the end nearest the manhole before the pipe capping trench could be excavated – it was a forlorn hope that this could be completed for a pour of concrete on the Monday. On Sunday morning the situation was

page 33


reviewed and it was agreed to commence excavation, from the end of the completed pipe capping, down to 300mm above the top of pipe capping level working towards the manhole. As this did not close access to the mooring bay, the formwork for the first base of the mooring wall was completed, mainly due to the sterling efforts of a four man gang from London WRG who soon picked up the intricacies of our formwork (see front cover photo). It was successfully poured on the Monday morning and, after the pour, the area adjacent to Bridge 4A, where it has been agreed with Herts CC to tip a metre depth of spoil at the toe of their tip, was destumped and cleared ready for bonfiring. An access ramp was formed for plant to get up to the higher level of this area. Preparation of this tip site will give us a site on which to dispose of excavated spoil that is not required for reinstating banks. The formwork to the base of the mooring bay wall was loosened on Tuesday It was the plan for London WRG to bend all the reinforcement for the Stage 1 mooring wall but we could not find the bending frame. After it was last used in May 2006 we are pretty certain that it was dismantled and stored away – but where? Can anyone remember dismantling the frame and where it is stored? In lieu of bending, London WRG cut a good supply of reinforcement mesh for the pipeline capping and carried out repairs with crushed concrete to the road through our storage site. Scrub Bashing: The plant moving up and down the bed of the canal has kept plant growth well under control but the banks are having to be cut back regularly to prevent serious re-growth. RAF Halton started the good work scrub bashing last year, Pete Bowers’ weekday work parties continued it as well as spare volunteers at the monthly work parties. London WRG gave the work a boost at the February work party and most of the banks are now under control. London WRG visit: I have already referred several times to London WRG at the February work party; they put in a lot of effort over the weekend and completed valuable work. Well done and many thanks to them for spending their time with us. Hopefully they will visit us again and they can then try their hand at steel pan formwork for the reinforced concrete wall? Design of lining: Because of the amount of spoil required to make up banks that have had to be cut into, consideration

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has been given to the continued use of hollow concrete blocks. They form a solid wall once they are filled with concrete, a necessity to make them withstand the impact of boats but, if the bank has not consolidated 100%, could lead to voids between them and the Bentomat layer. For the next length we are going to use solid concrete blocks only 100mm deep, therefore lighter to handle, on top of the first row of hollow concrete blocks that are bedded into the in-situ concrete base. They will have to be tamped into position on the Bentomat with rubber mallets but, once that is done, the job is finished. Materials Deliveries: Our purchasing manager, has been rather busy ordering materials. This is necessary so that we can take maximum advantage of the BW 2007/2008 allocation of £40,000 for restoration in lieu of renewing the pipeline. It is also advantageous in that materials prices are going up and we are taking advantage of current favourable prices. Talking of prices going up, our first delivery of ready-mix in April 1999 was at £68/ cubic metre ex. VAT. As from February 1st 2008, the price is now £100/cubic metre ex. VAT, + 47% in 9 years! This is mainly due to rising fuel costs and the government imposing taxes on aggregates - yet we are told that inflation is only 2% p.a. or thereabouts. For reinforcing mesh the increase is +50%. Looking Ahead: As I said in the last newsletter, the use of tracked dumpers, although expensive, has meant that we have been able to keep working despite atrocious conditions along the temporary road in the ‘dry’ canal bed. It has however highlighted a new drawback – these machines are even wider than the 5t excavators that we normally use and this has meant cutting further into existing banks, both towpath and offside, to enable the machines to move alongside the trench excavated for the pipeline capping. This raises the problem, not so much of restoring the banks, but leaving them for sufficient time to enable settlement to take place before laying the Bentomat lining and cover, desirably a year. This should not affect the overall completion date but means that we will probably spend most of 2008 extending the pipe capping through Stage 2 and working on mooring bays rather than completing the lining for Stage 1. Fortunately the work method we have adopted will allow us to line banks where consolidation is not necessary or has already taken place but the bed for Stage 1 must be completed in one operation, probably now in 2009.


Jonathan Taylor

Obituary

Those who were at one of the last three or four Canalway Cavalcades - or BCN cleanups - will have seen or heard of Jonathan Taylor, or ‘Tay’ as we knew him in WRG. Tay started digging on a London WRG weekend dig I leading on the Wey and Arun in January or February a few years ago. I sacks, a litter picker and gloves. Again with the had this phone call from someone introducing himself as Tay, he asked about WRG and big smile as ever. During my time that I knew Tay, I found all the various bits and pieces you need to out he was a very accomplished cartoonist - his know to go digging, and during the conversation he mentioned that he had come out of topic always had sheep - plus he was also ex the RAF, and was looking for something that Army and had served in the Royal Signals Regiment, he had been a policeman and was had the type of camaraderie that he had already experienced in the Forces, so I men- now working for Local Government. Tay was a fit young man (38 years of tioned that I was ex-Army and explained age), who died of causes unknown (at time how things ran. He said he lived at Stroud, of print), and will be sorely missed by all the and the dig was a very long way away. But I said that even though we were called London people who he met. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden WRG, I live on the other side of London, we had someone coming from Derbyshire and also someone coming up from South Devon, to which Tay said after a little hesitation “Oh, so I can’t use the distance as an excuse then?” To which I replied “no”. Tay turned up Saturday lunch timeand left Sunday evening, having enjoyed himself... well he must have, because several of us had mentioned the BCN Cleanup over the weekend, and during the following week Tay phoned to say he was booked in and couldn’t wait. He was hooked. He enjoyed the BCN so much that he was almost booking a year in advance. The following year, he volunteered to come to Canalway Cavalcade. He arrived at my compound, asked where he could put his bed, I directed him, and ten minutes later he was back ready to go to work. He was one of those people who had a big grin, always happy even at 06:30 in the morning when he was going to help traffic movement at Little Venice. Full of bounce and eager to work - in fact it was a Camp Leader’s nightmare trying to keep him busy. You would all sit down to a well earned rest and Tay in action at last year’s BCN Cleanup brew, Tay would be off with black

Jonathan ‘Tay’ Taylor

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WRG BC

News from our boat club

Wolverhampton Neighbourhood news said that “Last year’s waterways festival was held in St Ives. Cornwall...”

read any of the following publications?’ They only missed out the most important one! I trust Well what a rotten start to the year. you all entered ‘Navvies’ where it asked for Most devastating is the news of BW pulling ‘Other’ (and ticked ‘thoroughly’ of course). out of the Cotswold Canals Restoration PartNews from our foreign correspondent nership, as if the Trust hasn’t enough of a set leads me to think that KESCRG’s ‘Appealing back because of the floods last year. The letter Food’ outlet’s cookery book would be welthat I received form the Cotswold Canals Trust come in Crete. Is there such a publication? Chairman (club member Liz Payne) started a I hope more news will be forthcoming bit like an obituary, but despite such a blow from AWCC meeting in a few days and from everyone is determined to overcome problems any members or groups that are kind and meet the challenges with renewed comenough to send it to me please! (HINT) mitment. I’m sure club members feel the Soon the closures will be finished and the same. I hope that as many as possible will rivers back in their be able to come to show support at the own beds. That festival at Saul in early August. should cheer me up. I have been wading through much I need cheerpaperwork trying to make sense of some of ing as I have been it. Oh for the simple life when I could under- on a non-voluntary stand most things. All those initials and crash course on acronyms instead of words* make it so hard ‘Hospital Speak’. I going. Trying to understand all kinds of was in an RTA – XJ6 licence increases and mooring pricing and went in a dyke allocation mysteries, then the news about (drainage ditch to ‘red diesel’ won’t cheer any boaters up. I’m non Fen people) and sure things will only get more complicated H2O. Mike-driver with form filling alongside tank filling, espe- OK, Fred RPS OK, cially if you have diesel heating, and it’s all Me FPS a bit KOed. going to be more expensive! To A&E ASAP X-rays When it comes to money there are so Spine OK STERNUM many restoration projects that are in need = STER-NUM. ECG and so little cash to go round. Often our best NBG. To MAU for Are you coming to... way to help is by volunteering our labour few days. Then BTB and/or helping at fund raising activities. with TTO PDQ and needing TLC. Then there is ‘The National’ in August. There were lots of other initials and acroIt will be held in the Wolverhampton area but nyms and not necessary those included, but you beware of local given information as the get the idea. Please let’s have some plain English. Wolverhampton Neighbourhood News conSee * above - to keep folk from wanttained information that ‘Last Year’s Waterway’s ing to strangle you, let them know what you Festival was held in St Ives, Cornwall’ and ‘The are talking about. What you are saying might event, known as ‘Black Country Waterways not cheer them up but at least they can Festival... will be coming to Pendeford over understand what is going on! The August Bank Holiday’. I do hope memWishing you all good boating and I bers make it to the right place at the right hope to see you about the cut and at various time. (The Black Country Boating Festival is restoration related activities. held at Windmill End in September). XXX Sadie Dean Did you study the IWA Membership 07748186867 Survey 2008? Under Q20 ‘Do you regularly sadiedean@msn.com

WRG BC news March 2008

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What do you get for your 15p to be a member of an AWCC affiliated boat club?

WRG BC

...and AWCC report

Sheila Smith was presented with flowers in appreciation of her support and orThe Midland Region Meeting and AGM of ganisation. Graham Myatt from Stoke on the Association of Waterways Cruising Trent Boat Club was elected as our new th Clubs was held at Soar Boat Club on 8 chairman. The position of Treasurer was not March. This is on a lovely stretch of the filled. river and the 2009 IWA National Festival is From 2008 subscriptions to AWCC from planned nearby at Redhill at the north end the 29 clubs in the midlands will be £6 which of the Soar. only just covers the running costs. It was Discussions centred on the increased agreed that these would be increased to £8 cost to boaters with price increases for red in 2009. With 40ish boats in WRGBC that is diesel and how the tax will be calculated for currently only 15p per boat. the proportion not used for propulsion. What do you get for your 15p? There have There are three good reasons to fly the been rises in licence AWCC flag (I have some on sale at £12 - and and mooring fees a new stock of WRGBC red ones at only from BW and relief £10). The Association represents one of the that the prompt largest Inland Waterway user groups looking payment refund after your interests. AWCC club membership was to continue. enables you to apply for temporary moorings Members were at other clubs if there is space available. This concerned about takes out some of the worry of leaving your lack of maintenance boat if you are weekending or have other and shortage of BW commitments. You are assured of a warm staff. New Marinas welcome when club houses are open. They are being develhave nearly 50 slipways and secure car oped and on line parks. moorings reduced. The Handbook lists all the clubs with Boat clubs are telephone numbers and they can provide renegotiating assistance, transport or help in an emergency leases. when out cruising. We aim to help one anNigel Grant other. That’s what I call value for ...the Saul Festival? again reminded us money! of the need for Smoke Alarms and CO Another AWCC bargain is a Windscreen Detectors and not to spray WD40 near gas Sticker at 60p. fridge pilot lights. Since he set up the Fire If you need a new handbook contact Safety Scheme when working in WarwickSadie and for more details see shire as a Fire Officer he was pleased that www.awcc.org.uk. many other Regional Fire Brigades have A forthcoming event is a Boat Rally on also taken up this scheme and are offering 23rd -26th May at Langley Mill to celebrate 40 FREE risk assessments and alarms. years of AWCC and 35th Anniversary of the Howard Smith retired as our Chairman Opening of the Great Northern Basin by the a position he had held for 10 yrs. He reErewash Canal Preservation and Developceived a gift of Garden Centre vouchers from ment Association. Boat Clubs as a thank you for all his hard The next meeting will be held at work representing our interests by attending Swarkstone on 10th May. numerous meeting, as a representative of Lynne Cater forums and of course watching BW. Club Representative

AWCC meeting report

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

Moving house Liz Wilson has moved to: 9 Widford House, Colebrooke Row, London N1 8DD

Felicitations on your nuptials ...to ‘Rick B’ Barnes and ‘Harri T’ (presumably soon to be ‘Harri B’) Thomsett

New arrivals Congratulations to Liz and Ian Williamson on the arrival of Sophie Anne on February 7th

If you move house don’t forget to tell Navvies Congratulations to Chad Reed and Elly Rothery Sally Nutt and Andy Richardson Matt Taylor and Annette Ballantyne Angela ‘AJ’ Lamen and Ken Bullock ...on their respective engagements

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.

Apologies... ...for the non-appearance of the Agony Aunt column I mentioned last time. I promise it really will appear in issue 229.

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(seen here in her new KESCRG shirt) also to Jo ‘Smudge’ and Dave ‘Taz’ Tarrant on the arrival of Adam Paul on February 8th and to Ruth and Steven Davis on the arrival of Rowan Oliver on March 11th

GetWellSoon ...to Chad

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


Remember the Kelpies?

Infill

Yes that’s right - the giant nodding horses’ head statues that some joker thought would be a better way of filling the new lock at the east end of the Forth & Clyde Canal than a set of traditional ground paddles. Well they’ve only gone and secured several million of Lottery money so they can build the damn things. And meanwhile, to show that the West of Scotland can go one better... the proposed canal from the Clyde to Loch Lomond is to have a boat lift raised and lowered by a pair of swan sculptures see the pic (right) if you don’t believe me! So where will it all end - is our canal network destined to become a concrete menagerie? Quite possibly, it would appear. Because I’ve just seen on Waterscape.com that there’s a closure on the Aire & Calder while “new rams are being fitted to the top gates”. I think they’re talking about hydraulic rams here. But can we really be sure they don’t mean sheep...

Would ewe believe it?

WRGieotypes No 3: The leader of the National Festival Canal Camp

‘Mouse’ hasn’t had a wink of sleep since last Friday. The site’s under four inches of water, the beer tent’s blown away twice and the council health inspector’s touring the compound with a sour look on his face. Five weeks he took off work for this. “We could have gone to Tenerife” his wife keeps reminding him “but you said nobody else was willing to lead it this year”. Mouse wears a look of grim determination as he empties the icy water out of his wellies. WRG’s elderly electric pumps are working round the clock but out there on site it’s Glastonbury without the drugs. Two days until the festival opens and it just won’t stop f***ing raining. Mouse looks at the sky and silently curses every god he’s ever heard of. And where the hell did WRG find these volunteers? He suspects some of them are just on day release from secure units. Can’t follow instructions, don’t wear their safety helmets: he can’t trust them even to hammer a tent peg into the ground. The Lavender crew’s fallen out with Security: Camp Cook isn’t speaking to Sparks and his car parking crew have gone AWOL. “Never again” he mutters to himself as he storms across the waterlogged arena to deal with a suspected concussion. “Unless they can’t find anyone else to do it, obviously.”

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page 40

The Wall of Fame test

WRG Celebrickies

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 228  

Navvies 228

Navvies 228  

Navvies 228